Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SA Radio - The Decline of the NAACP

I've been posting vids about this character based out of South Carolina who calls himself the Southern Avenger. A little about racial issues and certainly they present a different version of black history. It's something to consider, if you like to hear another opinion.

I've normally posted video commentaries, but in this case this is sort of a video presentation of his radio guest shot. Of course the only things you get to see is a video collage as the dialog is moving forward. Enjoy.

What happened last night on ECW?

Now that I'm able to watch the Sci-Fi Channel where this program resides I can check it out more than I have been able to in a while. I've accepted that the ECW I was a fan of is no longer with us and that right now it's a WWE brand. What this means is that it won't be that bloodsport and passionate product that I've known it to be.

That being said it was cool that they kept some of the links with the past in Tazz and Joey Styles. Even some of the ECW originals RVD, Sabu, Sandman, Ballz Mahoney, and there are a few others I'm missing. Of course a majority of these individuals are no longer with the company. Tazz is still there, but Joey Styles was pulled off the program a couple or so weeks ago for another position in WWE.

That being said his replacement was Mike Adamle. You might know him as a football player, a former host of the American Gladiators program, and he's the sports guy on Channel 5 in Chicago. I was amazed to find him on WWE Raw as an interviewer and perhaps he should have stayed their instead of becoming a color commentator.

The main event last night feature Kane vs. Chavo Guerro and Bam Neely. Just one problem there was no play by play. Mike Adamle walked out all of a sudden and Taz made a quick plug for an advertiser and apparently we haven't heard from him for the rest of the match either. Apparently he walked off as well.

See Adamle has been bashed since he took this ECW job. It's been the fans, but it also has been some wrestlers or others in the business. They say his announcing is horrid because he can't seem to get the names right nor the moves or even correct wrestling vocabulary.

That being said Adamle's conduct if it was for real was very unprofessional. I surely know that he might be under pressure that he's not performing to the level he wants to, but I'm not sure I wanted to see that on TV. If Tazz had to I would have liked for him to carry the match, too bad he didn't then again I would rather Tazz wrestle in the ring. Still I wouldn't be surprise if Adamle was out of a job by the end of the day.

Then again this might be a storyline. Surely Adamle is aware that people think his announcing is atrocious. Indeed in the moments I did watch ECW instead of sitting at my laptop he seemed to allude to that fact. Still one could either interpret this as part of the storyline or indeed he knows that people don't like the job he's doing and decided to poke fun at it. Either way last night was interesting but I wonder what's up?

McCain Offers Market-Based Health Plan

John Rueberry over at Marathon Pundit posted a video with McCain talking about his plan. I like it but I want to see some of his details. There are community health centers and walk-in clinics. Both account for the difficulty in access and perhaps the idea that people need not go to an emergency room for treatment especially if it isn't an emergency.

Well here's what the Washington Post has to say...
Sen. John McCain on Tuesday rejected calls by his Democratic opponents for universal health coverage, instead offering a market-based solution with an approach similar to a proposal put forth by President Bush last year.

McCain's belief in the power of the free market to meet the nation's health-care needs sets up a stark choice for voters this fall in terms of the care they could receive, the role the government would play and the importance they place on the issue.

....

McCain's prescription would seek to lure workers away from their company health plans with a $5,000 family tax credit and a promise that, left to their own devices, they would be able to find cheaper insurance that is more tailored to their health-care needs and not tied to a particular job.

Under McCain's plan, $3.6 trillion worth of tax breaks over a decade that would have gone to businesses for coverage of their employees would be redirected to individuals, regardless of whether they are covered by a company plan.

"Insurance companies could no longer take your business for granted, offering narrow plans with escalating costs," McCain said. "It would help change the whole dynamic of the current system, putting individuals and families back in charge, and forcing companies to respond with better service at lower cost."

But it also leaves McCain open to criticism that he is not doing enough for the poor and sick, who could face steep premiums and limited choices as they search for an insurance company willing to cover them. Critics of McCain's plan said it would do little to help people already struggling with health-care costs.

Unlike his Democratic opponents, for instance, McCain would not mandate coverage for people with preexisting conditions who have not already been covered by a company health insurance plan. Critics say that would leave millions of people without coverage.

"Our next president has to get health-care costs under control. But like President Bush, John McCain won't stop rising health-care costs," asserts the Service Employees International Union, which has endorsed Obama, in a new television ad running in the swing state of Ohio. "When it comes to making health care affordable . . . we'll still be feeling the pain."

McCain sought to answer those charges Tuesday by saying he would create what he called a guaranteed access plan, or GAP, to help provide coverage of last resort for the sick and other "high-risk" people until the marketplace has matured enough to take care of them.

He gave few details of how such a program would work, who would run it or how it would be financed. He said it might be operated by a nonprofit organization with funds from the federal and state governments. And he said he would work with governors to solicit ideas from their experiences with similar state-run programs.

McCain advisers said such a program could cost as much as $7 billion a year. But McCain vowed not to "create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control." He added: "Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate."

...

In his own television commercial, which began running Tuesday across Iowa, McCain says, "I can characterize my approach on health care by choice and competition, affordability and availability."

Again from the Washington Post the opposition to McCain's plans by the SEIU.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WOW!!!: Obama calls it quits with Rev. Wright

From The Swamp. I was often disappointed in Obama's response to Wright. He was willing to cast aside his mention and I felt it was done in a superficial way. Only because well these comments made in the past mostly were affecting his campaign. Then Rev. Wrights performance was blaring on C-Span:

More than a month after controversy first erupted over incendiary sermons given by his former pastor, Barack Obama made a clean break with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright today, denouncing as "outrageous" and "appalling" comments Wright made Monday at the National Press Club.

Obama said Wright's performance at the press club--which the senator called "a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in truth"--are "antithetical" to his own life's work and his presidential campaign. (Here's a transcript of Obama's entire speech.)

"When I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything I am about and who I am," Obama said.

Among other things, Wright defended charges that the U.S. government initiated the AIDS epidemic to wipe out racial minorities and he praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as one of the most important voices of the 20th and 21st centuries.

"What became clear to me is he was presenting a world-view that completely contradicts who I am" Obama said.

"What particularly angered me was his suggestion that my previous denunciation was somehow political posturing," he added.

Obama said Wright's assertion of that the senator's prior denunciation was politically motivated was "a show of disrespect for me."

Asked if his relationship with Wright had been irreparably damaged, Obama responded, "There's been great damage. It may have been unintentional on his part. But I do not see that relationship being the same after this."

Well this time was long in coming wasn't it. Obama did some things that I thought appeased some people out there who were uncomfortable with this association. At this thims meant he had to say how much he disapproved of Wrights statements. Yet he's been a congregant for what, 20-odd years now.

It might be smart politics to make some distance between you and your controversial pastor especially if said person was a mentor. Of course it's another thing to throw your mentor under the bus. Then again there's another angle here.

It has been speculated since Wright hit the airwaves over the past weekend that Wright is only serving to hurt Obama with his recent statements. I don't know whether to believe that or not, but I can say that Wright is probably the type who isn't going to run into a cave when controversy hit him even if it was for someone who he has mentored and has a somewhat close relationship with. Still, if the relationship meant so much to me I'd have to my mentor to chill and lay back a little and if s/he couldn't do that then the relationship has effectively changed if not ended.

I just think it's unfortunate that all this has come out because Obama is running for President and as a result he has to cast aside his mentor because Americans who are uncomfortable with this man's preachings that they make rash judgements as to who he is. In some respects I understand because there are some statements that Wright has made that I believe are erroneous, such as the government created the AIDS virus. To that I could say Rev. Wright, I think I might want you to play peacemaker out in the dangerous streets of Chicago. Forget about the idea that the government created this AIDS virus. Hmm better yet for those blacks who does have AIDS let's help treat them and to help those at risk to change their habits. Hey there are different things one can do instead of making outrageous statements and saying them in outrageous ways.

Oh and one more thing how about some vids. I'll embed a story from WGN about his comments to the Detroit NAACP.



And here's some more vids of Jeremiah Wright on C-Span at the National Press Club here are parts one, two, three, four, five, & six.

You know something?

I really miss Mancow Muller I wish a radio station would take him on at some point in the near future. He's been off the air in Chicago for almost two years when his last station Q101 decided to make a change in the mornings. In lieu of a regular Chicago radio presences we can see him on this Channel 2 vid from this past Sunday.

I also want to bring to your attention another segment on Sunday from Channel 2 about Emmit Till. I've talked about that story overtime here. This segment is an interview with an actor who's playing the title role in a new play that is to be featured at The Goodman Theater.

Where do people come up with this?

Sometime last week, I saw this on the comments section over at the Illinois Review. They had a post about the possible Con-Con that Illinois voters will vote on in November at which time they will also vote for the next President of the United States. I wonder what kind of mind comes up with what this commenter does...
Con-Con could
- Recognize the state is responsible to care for everyone and especially for the children
- Recognize that parents are only agents of the state to implement the policies of the state.
- Recognize that each of us must participate in social justice by contributing to others success based on the level of our own success.
I wish I knew the mentality of a person who wants to abdicate all of their responsibilities to someone else. That someone else being the state. Such a person is putting more of his faith in an institution that might just as soon betray their trust as earn it.

I have to ask if the state has disappointed you so often in such areas as foreign affairs, education, health care, public safety, etc., what makes one think the state is able to take care of people? And I should also ask what policies must parents be allowed to implement as agents of the state does the state know best or the parents? Oh and I think I get the idea of the last point one way to achieve that and I'm not giving them ideas they already want "income redistribution".

Sometimes people can be blind in the pursuit of, I don't know, "utopia" or this ideal society that it seems that no one has really thought this thru.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I had to opine about this

You know something I ought to root for this guy. I don't think it's your employer's business why exactly you and your wife is getting divorced. There are those religious types who won't see much of a difference between one getting divorce because the marriage isn't working out or someone in the marriage cheated.

I understand that sometimes divorces can affect the job a person is doing. Surely it does happen, however letting your employer know that you have issues at home is where it should stay. I wouldn't expect to hear anything more about it than that. Then again I understand that every employer have different rules and will require a little more than letting them know you have issues at home.

Here's more...

After 30 years of marriage and 20 years of teaching, Kent Gramm is getting divorced and losing his job at the same time.

But Gramm is not surprised. He knew when divorce proceedings started that unemployment was a possibility.

Gramm, a professor of English at Wheaton College, and his wife are in the midst of a split, and because he refuses to discuss the cause of the divorce with college officials -- school policy requires the divorce be within acceptable parameters -- he is resigning.

Otherwise, the college would have fired him.

"I feel a lot of sadness," Gramm said from his office on the Wheaton campus.

"However, I'm mentally prepared, because I was aware of the school's policy."

Teachers, students and employees of Wheaton, an evangelical Christian school, commit to live their lives according to a Statement of Faith and Community Covenant that spells out suitable behavior.

"You sign the statement when you accept employment at the college," said Sarah Clark, director of media relations. "Everyone knows it's part of the deal."

Wheaton is known as a conservative college where smoking, drinking and gambling are not allowed. Dancing became acceptable only four years ago, breaking a ban that had been in place since the Civil War.

Wheaton's policy acknowledges divorce can occur in a Christian marriage, and it does not consider divorce an "unpardonable sin." But college officials reserve the right to review the cause of a divorce, something that Gramm refused to discuss.

"I think it's wrong to have to accuse your spouse and to discuss with your employer your personal life and marital situation," Gramm said. "But I don't feel badly treated. There has been an attitude of compassion here."

I suppose I can ask an obvious question. Who is any man to determine what is sin? Especially an unpardonable one? I know some religious people and when I say that I'm referring to anyone as a believer, a congregant, or a pastor take on that mantle. If you want to ask me I have my values, but it is not for me to judge. And yes this article says nothing about how they've judged this professor and it certainly helps that he chose not to discuss this with college officials. You know I'm surprised this even made the news today.

Wright: Criticism an attack on black church

From today's Sun-Times...
A brash Rev. Jeremiah Wright--longtime pastor to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) --on Monday said the controversy over his inflammatory comments--threatening Obama's presidential bid--were really "an attack on the black church."

"As I said, this was an attack on the black church. It was not about Obama, McCain, Hillary, Bill, Chelsea; this was about the black church. This was about Barbara Jordan. This was about Fannie Lou Hamer. This was about my grandmama," Wright said at the National Press Club.

Well I have often taken the criticism leveled at Obama and Rev. Wright in that way. However this is not to say the black church doesn't have its problems. I could also say that this isn't about the black church, but also about comments that he's made. Not all black churches or ministers have made statements not much different than he's made.

Still I think a lot of this hoopla is somewhat ignorant. I still think attacking Trinity as racist is wrong. Of course if this is about Rev. Wright then go after the Rev don't go after his congregation even Sen. Obama. Though I must say for all the statements Wright has made over the years, it's fair to question the role the reverend has made in the senator's life.

I still call it a dead horse when we can attack Obama on more substantial issues that are certainly of greater importance to this country than a man, his pastor, and their church. What about Obama's stances on taxes, health care, or education? Wright if correct when he says he's not on the ballot and he's been running for Jesus a long, long time.

Beleaguered gov singing different tune

I've taken an interest in my governor. I've never voted for him perhaps because I've often had an anti-Democratic bias. Still there are much better reasons to not like him all one has to do is read the papers.

For instance read Carol Marin's column I saw something in that column that certainly caught my eye...
Maybe it was all the money he raised in the beginning. He had a stunning $22 million for his first race and has collected a total of $55 million since 2000, thanks in part to Rezko and the also-indicted Christopher Kelly. Blagojevich, say those who know him, believed he didn't need to court the Legislature if he had the cash to take his populist message directly to the people. Health care. Higher minimum wage. Tuition credits.
So that's why he has no interest in working with the legislature on his proposals? All that money isn't helping him to achieve these wonderful things he wants for us. Unfortunately my guess is that he doesn't care about these things. His only concern is making himself look good and/or advancing himself.

Let's also not forget that his associate, Tony Rezko, mentioned in this column is on trial. I've predicted that this could hurt Blagojevich more than another Rezko associate, Barack Obama. The reason for the being that Blagojevich seems to have gained the most from his relationship with Rezko with Obama however the problem is a matter of association. Still along with the money Rezko raised for Blagojevich and the possibility that his fundraising prowess translated into possible influence in that administration.

Either way especially with the revelations coming out of the Rezko trial people are discussing the possibility of impeachment. This is something that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly should look into this at least. Also because of the governor's horrible relationship with a Democratic-controlled General Assembly or more accurately the House of Representatives.

Oh let me just add there is certainly blame all around for the problems in Springfield between the legislature and the governor. Some might blame the state house Speaker and others might blame the state senate President and his alliance with the governor. And we can certainly look at the senate President and his ability to break promises in order to stay in the camp of an unpopular governor.

Like I said blame is around the state house. Hopefully someone might show some maturity and if they don't then it won't matter if there may be a constitutional convention in the works within the next two years. Hopefully that will change the governmental dynamics in this state.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thoughts about the state of ideology in America



I've taken political philosophy this semester and in addition to discussing politics with another guy of like mind. I've concluded that conservatism and liberalism are brands. See when we think of conservatives often we think of Republicans and Democrats we mostly think liberals.

When you vote for either/or you generally know what you're getting. The problem is neither side exactly lives up to what they purport to stand for. Someone votes for a Republican because they don't want a Democrat to get election and vice versa for a Democrat who'll vote that way because they don't want a Republican to win. Hey that was the school a former teacher of mine had just before Republicans apparently swept into power in Illinois and in Washington, DC.

Anyway sometimes such a vote is mistaken and almost a knee-jerk reaction. At times it's certainly not smart especially if you'll come to regret your vote later. I'll even question how some Republicans might be upset about John McCain getting the nomination and they hope that in another four years they can vote in someone more palatable. The sad thing is that it doesn't always work that way.

The party might go on a downward slide while you allow a person to move ahead that you know isn't the best choice. Largely you do this because you really don't want the other guys to get in. Hopefully you do this with the understanding of the positions of the opposition but certainly never with this idea that no matter what the opposition is bad. Such a position is certainly irrational.

You know when I started this blog I considered myself a conservative, I don't not so much. For the most part conservatism has some things I agree with, which is why I held those views at the same time as time went on there are some things I don't support as far as conservatism. I can support limited government, lower taxes, policies that encourage business activity, or being anti-abortion. However I've come to the conclusion lately that some conservative positions aren't for me.

For instance I'm not pro-gay marriage, but I would certainly support taking government out of the marriage equation. Let more private interests determine who can or can't get married (i.e. a church). For that reason I had an issue with this idea of amending the federal constitution or even the state constitution to ban gay-marriages. Obviously my feeling is that social policy shouldn't be written into a constitution or at least that's how I read it. Although this seems to have been done very often.

In any case in light of the loss Republicans had in 2006 has led me to believe that conservatism isn't what many think it is. Depending on the steward conservatism can be watered down to the point where it can be used for a person to get elected and once s/he is they govern differently than what they profess. I could say the same for the liberals.

Let me just state that in observing politics today and reading about politics of the past, the parties have always had factions. Would it sound strange to you to hear that there are conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans? Well there are and understand that the majors parties in this country have one goal to increase their power and in doing so they appeal to their bases. The bases might be regional in nature or it could be based on ideology. Generally the Republicans are considered the more family values and evangelical type party. The Democrats are generally considered the more minority friendly and their more aligned with organized labor.

Still at times we see the failures of either party to be able to do the bidding of these groups in order to be successful in delivering the goods, whatever they may be, to their respective bases. Some of that certainly could be pandering to the base got them what they wanted an electoral win so beyond that what's the point. In some instances it could be about the status quo. Besides some of these groups have representatives at the table and indeed they have their interest in maintaining their power and prestige.

Anyway I've had to figure out my own way. It certainly shouldn't be seen as the best way, but it is my way. I look forward to reading more or looking up more material on this subject. This article on classical liberalism should be of interest to you as it is to me. I hope it opens your mind as to what it's about and hopefully you can incorporate that into your own lives.

Also the video I have up top is a discussion about libertarianism not being anything related to conservatism. Some good points were made in the vid and I hope that it opens your mind as to the nature of libertarianism or conservatism. Hopefully more on political philosophy later, just because the semester is over doesn't mean I can't keep reading up on these things or ponder different ideas.

Black amputation rate higher

How about a health care moment courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times. I know that healthcare is an expensive proposition but if you can I would suggest that you see a doctor about these things. Hopefully you might be able to maintain your health and you won't suffer what the woman in this article suffered...

Sarah Echols isn't sure what's worse: the way people stare at her, or how clumsy and off-balance she feels.

Echols' left leg was amputated 1½years ago because of poor circulation in the arteries supplying blood to her legs. Now, the 62-year-old Calumet City woman gets around on crutches or in a wheelchair because her prosthetic limb is too painful to stand on.

"It's very hard to get used to," Echols said. "You have to learn how to do everything over again."

Echols is one of thousands of African Americans in the Chicago area who have had all or part of a limb amputated because of complications from either diabetes or a condition called peripheral arterial disease.

Though amputation is considered a last-resort treatment, blacks are far more likely than whites to have at least one of these procedures.

And a new study from Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine shows that the racial gap hasn't shrunk in the last two decades, despite an overall decrease in the number of amputations performed in northern Illinois.

"It's very troubling," said Dr. William Pearce, an author of the study published Saturday in the Journal of Vascular Surgery. "Medical advances make leaps and bounds, but it doesn't always get translated to everybody."

Looking at hospital discharge data from the state health department, Pearce and his research partner, Joseph Feinglass, found that residents of predominantly black ZIP codes in the Chicago area are five times more likely than those in white areas to have a foot or leg amputated. An earlier study found that African Americans are less likely to be treated with potentially limb-saving surgeries before amputation.

The reasons for this disparity are complex, said Feinglass, a health policy researcher at Northwestern.

I suggest you read the whole thing!

Who is Responsible for America's Swollen Prison Population?

This is an interesting article looking at the differences in incarceration rates between state governors who are either Republican or Democrat. In the numbers I've seen here the numbers when it comes to Democratic governors are much higher than Republican governors, especially compared to the national average. I'd like to know what accounts for this?

Well this article answers that Democrats have been pegged as being soft on crime:

There are more examples like these—along with some counterexamples, though I haven’t found as many of those. The numbers cited above might turn out to be an aberration; I won’t know until I go through the relevant data for all fifty states. For now, suppose they aren’t aberrational; suppose the above examples illustrate a pattern. Why might imprisonment rise more under Democrats than under Republicans? The answer, I think, lies in two famous episodes in presidential campaigns in the recent past.

The elder George Bush beat Michael Dukakis, at least in part, on the strength of Willie Horton’s crime spree; Horton was a black inmate who was furloughed from a Massachusetts prison on Dukakis’ watch, and who committed armed robbery and rape while released. Four years later, Bill Clinton was determined not to let the same thing happen to him. So, shortly before the New Hampshire primary, Clinton returned to Arkansas to supervise the execution of a mentally retarded black inmate named Ricky Ray Rector. The Rector execution inoculated Clinton on crime, showed his willingness to stand tough against criminals in general and black criminals in particular. It worked: Clinton finished a close second in New Hampshire, and went on to win the White House.

Notice the nature of that political exchange. For Republicans to win votes on crime, all they need do is talk about it: the Willie Horton ad that helped turn the 1988 election is a prime example. No Clinton-style inoculation is needed. For Democrats to win those same votes, they need to take the kind of action that shows their toughness: hence Rector’s execution. Rising imprisonment has been the price Democrats have had to pay in order to win power and enact the policy changes they really want. At least, that story seems to fit the scattered examples listed above.

There's another component of this to consider. A racial component and what that means is that since blacks aren't exactly a swing vote and neither party exactly has to compete for this vote especially if they know where it's going to go there here are the results:

If the story is true, two political facts are key. First, black voters are solidly Democratic; politicians running for state and national office need not and do not compete for their votes. In the 1950s and 1960s, when black voters outside the South were swing voters—Richard Nixon won a third of the black vote in 1960, and Eisenhower won more than that in 1956—imprisonment rates fell, and fell sharply. (Not so in the South, where blacks were denied the right to vote until the late 1960s.) Imprisonment began rising only a few years after black voting patterns changed. Second, the votes of blue-collar whites are up for grabs; the two parties must compete for them, as this year’s presidential campaign reminds us. Rising imprisonment, and especially rising black imprisonment, might fairly be seen as the product of that competition.

No doubt one might draw many lessons from this sad story. Here’s mine: Criminal justice works badly when the voters whose preferences govern the system are not the voters who feel the effects of crime and punishment most directly. Over the last thirty-five years, our justice system has been governed primarily by the votes of suburban and small-town whites. But crime and punishment alike are heavily concentrated in poor city neighborhoods, and especially in black neighborhoods. Democracy works best when those making the relevant choices bear the cost of those choices. The politics of crime in the United States doesn’t meet that standard: choices are made by some, and costs are borne by others. No wonder those costs are so staggeringly high.
It's easy to catch yourself living as far away from the crime and perhaps even cause yourself the fear that this crime might reach you. If this is a concern you vote for someone who will be tough on crime. The problem is, how tough do you want them to be?

I think at times in attempting to curb crime we can go overboard and we forget this idea of innocent until proven guilty. Check out the story of DUI I posted earlier this past week or even the story of a family who was wrongly convicted on drug charges. Alas crime is certainly one of those convenient surefire issues that will get you some votes if the atmosphere is there that people are really concerned about that.

Now to go back the racial component. I have watched black themed talk shows on cable access many times and the issue that crops up the most is what to do about ex-offenders. The first time I ever realized that was a big issue. They ask about getting their records expunged or they want to be able to find work because unfortunately they've become stigmatized. That is no one trusts them or are afraid of them. It's unfortunate if you really want to start over and place your criminal past backwards in time.

It's certainly something to consider in light of the recent violence in Chicago. Will we engage in overboard tactics with the idea of curbing violence? Especially if these tactics can only work for brief time with short term effects.

Well something to consider. Article found via Instapundit.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coffee table train set


This is awesome. I should go visit this man's videoblog.

Sean Bell police officers acquitted

I know some people are upset about this. Unfortunately I haven't been following this case so I'll let you come to your own conclusions. From what I do know what happened to this young man was certainly excessive to say the least. From NYTimes:
Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.

Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”

Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Describing the evidence, he said it was reasonable for the detectives to fear that someone in the crowd that night carried a gun. He added that many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.

Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancĂ©e left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

The acquittals do not necessarily mean the officers’ legal battles are over. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the three men could still face disciplinary action from the Police Department, but that he had been asked to wait on any internal measures until the United States attorney’s office determines whether or not it would pursue federal charges against them.

The seven-week trial, which ended on April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off.

Via The State of is a column from the NY Daily News which highlights some mistakes the prosecutors made in this case.
Stephen Murphy, who won the only acquittal in the sensational Howard Beach trial in the very same Queens courtroom 21 years ago, is still scratching his head.

"I've thought all along that these cops were going to be acquitted because the prosecution made major blunders in the case," he said.

"To start with, the prosecution should never have read the grand jury testimony of the three cops into the record because it basically precluded the defendants from taking the stand."

Murphy says once the cops' versions of the shooting were on the record in the trial, there was no way the defense was going to expose them to cross-examination.

"If the prosecution hadn't done that, the defense would have seriously had to consider making their clients take the stand," Murphy said.

For your info, here's a Wikipedia article on the late Sean Bell. If these two articles didn't educate you on what happened that will.

Party Fears Racial Divide

Every now and then you'll hear rumblings about the scenario where if these "fabled" superdelegates veto the will of Democratic voters and instead of handing the nomination to Sen. Obama they hand it off to Sen. Clinton. So when you see stories like this one shouldn't be surprised at who this affects...

The protracted and increasingly acrimonious fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is unnerving core constituencies -- African Americans and wealthy liberals -- who are becoming convinced that the party could suffer irreversible harm if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton maintains her sharp line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton's solid win in the Pennsylvania primary exposed a quandary for the party. Her backers may be convinced that only she can win the white, working-class voters that the Democratic nominee will need in the general election, but many African American leaders say a Clinton nomination -- handed to her by superdelegates -- would result in a disastrous breach with black voters.

"If this party is perceived by people as having gone into a back room somewhere and brokered a nominee, that would not be good for our party," House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the highest ranking African American in Congress, warned yesterday. "I'm telling you, if this continues on its current course, [the damage] is going to be irreparable."

That fear, plus a more general sense that Clinton's only route to victory would be through tearing down her opponent, has led even some black Democrats who are officially neutral in the race, such as Clyburn, to speak out.

Clinton's camp has a vastly different interpretation, arguing that the most recent primary demonstrated that Democrats remain very interested in seeing the contest continue.

If this does happen then I can see an opportunity for the Republican Party, though I sincerely hope that blacks won't be totally beholden to one party any longer. I suppose that could be one possible upside to the scenario of a breach between black voters and the Democratic party. On that however this is something that we'll have to see.

Besides I had no idea until this year's campaign that black voters tend to break late anyway.

Article via Newsalert.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ground-level theories on rise in deaths

Mary Schmich of the Tribune talks to an academic about why he thinks there is a spike in violence in the past week and what can be done about it. It's really very interesting I just hope that whoever disseminates this information won't take it and run with it in a different direction...
We've heard that a lot lately, but professor Greg Scott has some contrarian ideas on the matter, especially the police's plan to keep the summer peace with aggressive tactics, including SWAT teams.

"There's nothing better for a gang than a good old-fashioned police raid," Scott said Wednesday. He was sitting in a West Side diner favored by gang leaders, raking a fork through his fried potatoes. "It just makes them stronger."

Professor Scott, PhD in sociology, has tenure and an office at DePaul, but the "professor" part may leave the wrong impression. Scott's arms are a riot of tattoos and his spiky red hair brings to mind David Caruso in "CSI: Miami."

He's spent years—he's 40—researching Chicago gangs by hanging out with them, originally while employed in the state attorney general's office. He doesn't claim to have dissected the mayhem that has provoked headlines like the one on AOL Thursday: "Chicago's Violent Spring Grows Deadlier."

But he believes treating gang members like terrorists just solidifies the gang, and terms like "gang-related crime" often mislead.

"A lot of the violence we hear about being caused by gangs is kids who do stupid stuff with a gun in their hand," he said. "If we did social autopsies of these crimes, we might realize that the crimes were motivated by factors more important than gang affiliation."

What, he asked, causes the most violence among gang members? Guns? Drugs?

"Disputes over females."

It's true, he said, that when spring arrives, violence is apt to flare because everybody comes outside. People who live in cramped apartments, people forced to move, drug dealers and drug buyers—everybody's out.
He mentions something that shouldn't exactly be a big surprise. In fact we've at least heard about this in the news that people with some money they mention loop professionals but for sure we've heard about suburbanites coming in looking for some dope. Apparently they're willing to take a risk in going to some unsafe neighborhoods in order to get a quick high. Too bad that a few have been killed or at least died in the process.

Remember that within the past year or two some people died after getting some heroin and it was laced with a dangerous chemical. They went over to the west side for the buy and some of them were suburbanites as easily as there were neighborhood people. Of course let's be honest here there is a common conception which I'm sure is true that most of the "drug markets" are in these unsafe neighborhoods in the city. You're not likely to get drugs out there in the burbs.

Let's continue with the article...

But Chicago's gangs are no longer the big, centralized regimes of legend, Scott said. The problem now is thousands of small drug crews, loosely bound by the same name, like franchises; most members barely make minimum wage. Treating them like terrorists is likely to backfire.

"Gang members aren't Martians," he said. "They're the sons, daughters, brothers and fathers of people in the neighborhood. Police need to appreciate that gang members aren't just villains to the neighborhood."

People who live in violent areas want police attention, he said, but they don't want a police state, which is what police risk creating.

"They'll probably make a lot of arrests," he said. "Most of the arrests won't stick. Along the way, they've created animosity, which is what the gang thrives on."

In Europe, he said, police understand better that when gangs feel under siege, solidarity increases.

So what's the answer? There's not a single one, he said. But a good start would be to get the guns. Stop the flow from dealers outside the city. Don't just arrest the guy who fires it once it's here.
I most certainly hope it's not difficult for the police to switch gears on strategy as to how to best combat the violence that occurs in Chicago neighborhoods. I want everyone to appreciate that the only answer is definitely not more gun control. And hopefully Dr. Scott's answer won't be construed as going after gun shops because the fact is we have to find a way to go after those people who are willing to sell guns to criminals. Chances are these aren't gun shop owners but we are talking about people on the streets who will sell a gun to the highest bidder.

There are other solutions to be had here too. However what I would be interested in knowing how do we allow the police to do their jobs without creating discontent in the neighborhoods their patrolling?

A Reply to the NAACP by the Southern Avenger

More from the Southern Avenger.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday items

I couldn't make up my mind which of these items should either be posted here or I would like to have posted one of these over at the Sixth Ward. Anyway, I've just decided to do these two stories here and be done with it. I might go into depth with one of them later. So here's one!

ITRS seeks to dismiss Chicago Board of Ed suit - Crain's
Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, Springfield, Thursday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by the Chicago Board of Education against the state of Illinois, claiming that unequal treatment in funding was shortchanging the $12.8 billion Chicago Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund.

The $41.7 billion Illinois teachers fund, in the 14-page motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, argues “there is a rational basis for the distinct funding mechanisms applicable to TRS and CTPF” and notes “the General Assembly enacted two separate teachers pension statutes, one for Chicago teachers and the other for teachers in the rest of the state.”

“TRS is a state entity while CTPF is not, and the Chicago Board of Education has tax mechanisms that are unavailable to TRS,” according to an Illinois Teachers statement about the motion, adding “the Chicago public school system is large enough to oversee and to fund its own teacher pension system, while other districts in the state required a centralized and mandatory state funding mechanism to do so.”

Well, I think I can see where the beef is here apparently there is an overlap in between the city pension system and the state's. I should note that the state constitution allows for pensions of public employees and some have a problem with that provision and seek to change that.

Daley plans meetings on violence - Crain's

Well it's great to know that the mayor is on the case and I would say that he's not doing a bad thing by meeting with religious leaders, police, schools and social service agencies. Unfortunately this might be the solution that's likely to come out of it...
Daley is a strong proponent of gun control and says access to guns is the problem. He says people are settling their differences with guns. But the mayor says the recent violence isn't tarnishing Chicago's reputation.
The solution will continue to be gun control and it certainly will be because that's what these other officials will demand. I wish someone there might be able to argue something different to the mayor, unfortunately I wish I could account for how likely that will be. Oh and I have to question how could this violence not tarnish Chicago's reputation. It only shows that in making the streets safer that the city has some work to do.

Steve Chapman on gun control

I found his Tribune column via Instapundit today. As I hear about the continuing stories about shootings in Chicago between the deaths of public school students and the shootings that occurred in the city over the weekend it's obvious that we might hear that more gun control is the answer. Well Chapman questions that premise especially since the new police superintendent is attempting to parrot that line himself.
The recent spate of killings gives a misleading impression. Since the peak years of the early 1990s, the number of murders in Chicago has fallen by more than half. In the first three months of this year, homicides were down by 1.1 percent. No one would describe the current murder rate as acceptable, but the city has made huge progress.

It has done so despite the alleged problem cited by Weis, which is the availability of guns, and particularly one type of gun. "There are just too many weapons here," he declared at a Sunday news conference. "Why in the world do we allow citizens to own assault rifles?"

Actually, in Chicago, "we" don't allow citizens to own assault rifles. Elsewhere, they are allowed for the same reason other firearms are permitted. The gun Weis villainized is a type of semiautomatic that has a fearsome military appearance but is functionally identical to many legal sporting arms.

And its bark is worse than its bite. As of March 31, there had been 87 homicides in the city. When I asked the Chicago Police Department how many of the murders are known to have involved assault rifles, the answer came back: One.

As it happens, we already have ample experience with laws against these guns. From 1994 to 2004, their manufacture and sale were banned under federal law.

Yet nationwide, the number of murders committed with rifles and shotguns began falling three years before the law was enacted.

It's true those gun homicides also fell while the law was in effect. Does that prove the value of the ban? Not exactly, since stabbing deaths fell even faster, as did murders involving crowbars, baseball bats and other blunt objects. Obviously other factors were behind the improvement.

The irrelevance of the law was plain to see. In 2004, Tom Diaz, an official of the pro-gun-control Violence Policy Center, said, "If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference" in curbing gun violence.

No surprise there. Anyone with criminal intent had plenty of deadly options at hand. The so-called assault weapons, contrary to what you might assume, were no more powerful or lethal than other, permitted guns. Not only that, but criminals, the people most likely to commit violent crimes, were completely unaffected by the ban—for the simple reason that they are not allowed to buy or own guns of any kind.

As Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck notes, most criminals arm themselves by stealing guns or buying guns stolen by someone else. So new restrictions don't make much difference to them. The federal ban was a classic illustration of how gun control works. Law-abiding people who rarely misuse their guns were deprived of options. Ex-cons went on as before.
All too often at least when things like this occur the easy answer for many is to call for more gun control. There's a disconnect here because obvious gun control isn't answer if all you're doing is disarming law-abiding citizen. Criminals aren't going to give up using guns because it's illegal because they already have no intentions of following the law.

Of course a gun control proponent might argue that well if we catch a criminal with a gun in committing a crime then the penalty will be stiffer. I suppose that would be reasonable however there are just those politicians who won't make a distinction between a criminal with a firearm vs. a law-abiding citizen with firearms. Perhaps with the idea that some just doesn't think that people should own guns, anybody.

Of course for some it doesn't matter that the police don't come when you need them. That's not to say allowing a person to arm themselves at the very least in their home is the end all be all for burglaries or intrusions into the home. At the same time a gun came in good handy when it comes to defending your property. Like I said some won't see that and instead will just say guns are dangerous and they could hurt someone especially your children and people shouldn't be allowed to own a gun.

BTW, I heard about this very tragic story on the south side yesterday as well. Five people were shot in a house. Here's a write-up and I'll embed an AP video I saw last night...

What is wrong?

I heard about this story last night. Some one out there has some issues. Unfortunately he chose to take them out onto the rest of the world. In the process, however, he just so happened to have assaulted a Chicago TV news anchor.
A man randomly attacked six people, including WLS-Ch. 7 news anchor Cheryl Burton, on Loop streets Wednesday evening, Chicago police said.

The first attack occurred just after 7 p.m. outside the Cook County Administration Building, 69 W. Washington St., police said.

The man, in his late-20s, attacked a woman on the street, punched her in the face and shoved her to the ground, police said. He then ran down Washington Street to Dearborn Street and attacked several more people as he went.

Six people -- including four women and two men -- were hurt before police, with the help of witnesses and a security guard, found the suspect and took him into custody. The victims included a 75-year-old woman and two men ages 74 and 71, police said. The WLS-Ch. 7 Web site reported that Burton was one of the victims.
I really hope there is an update and that we may be able to know what set this man off. Of course for things like this to happen it doesn't take much to set an unbalanced person off.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boeing gives black history museum $5M

Sounds good another reason to get back to Washington in the near future. I visited the White House and I would like to visit the US Capitol and some other sites that I wasn't able to my last vacation there. From Crain's today...
The Smithsonian Institution has begun public fundraising to build a museum dedicated to black history with a $5 million gift from Boeing Co.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open in 2015 on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. It will be the Smithsonian's 19th museum.

Museum Director Lonnie Bunch — formerly president of the Chicago Historical Society — is working to raise half the museum's $500 million cost, with the rest of the money coming from Congress.

The gift from Chicago-based Boeing is the museum's largest to date.

South Side mom drowned daughter so she could 'go to parties,' prosecutor says

Well, there are certainly those out there who might engage in such an atrocious act. It almost makes you wonder why some of them chose to become pregnant in the first place. From the Tribune...
Rozlynn Rodgers, 19, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the April 4 death of her daughter, Makalah, at their home in the 7800 block of South Ingleside Avenue. She later told authorities that she drowned the child because she no longer wanted to be a mother, officials said.

Rodgers told police "she didn't want to be a mom anymore because she couldn't go to parties if she had to take care of the baby," Assistant State's Atty. Mary Anna Planey said Wednesday during a bond hearing before Judge Laura Sullivan.

Planey said that Rodgers placed the baby in a full bathtub on the afternoon of April 4. When the child slid under the water, Rodgers sat and watched for several minutes, Planey said. Another person in the house called 911 after Rodgers removed Makalah from the bathtub.

The baby later was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest, and the medical examiner reported that her lungs were saturated with water, Planey said. Though the original autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner's office was inconclusive, the manner of death was later changed to homicide, police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said Wednesday.

Rodgers also was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer after she attacked a police officer during her arrest, Kubiak said. While in custody Tuesday, Rodgers became disruptive and knocked over a table in an interview room, Planey said. Later, Rodgers scratched, punched, kicked and spat in the face of a detective, Planey said.

City revamps minority contracting program

From the Sun-Times...
Three years ago, Mayor Daley bounced his purchasing chief and ordered Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey to clean up a minority contracting program disgraced by scandal.

Dempsey was asked to do a “total scrubbing” of the program to weed out white-owned fronts, such as members of the mob-connected Duff family who engineered a $100 million minority business fraud. Dempsey responded by imposing rigid requirements designed to make certain that minorities and women benefited — even if it meant waiting longer for the certification that gives them a leg up on city contracts.

Today Daley walked away from the minority certification headache.

A group of business, academic and civic leaders appointed by the mayor to take a fresh look at the “scope and structure” of local government recommended the idea — and Daley wholeheartedly embraced it.

Instead of struggling with a 1,600-case backlog that has forced minority businesses to wait two years for certification, Chicago will rely on groups that do certification for the federal government and some state and local governments. They include the Women's Business Enterprise National Council and the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
This has been an issue in the past few years. It's bound to happen since there are those who may stand not to benefit from not being able to partake in the contracts. Even then they may still want the benefits so they attempt to cheat and create front firms. It almost makes a person wonder if this type of affirmitive action is an answer to getting business towards minority owned firms.

Oh on another front the Capitol Fax makes mention of a budding Congressional candidate who apparently started how own "minority" firm. The venture didn't last but as he seeks to garner a Republican nomination for a Congressional seat. I should say the nomination was won by another man who resigned it complaining about the tool campaign took on his life so now it's up for grabs again. This guy is already tagged with baggage before he becomes the new candidate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I saw Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain address WWE fans on Raw last night

They all used wrestling cliches with Obama talking about smelling with "Barack" was cooking with a wink. If you don't know what that means then ask a fan of The Rock or Dwayne Johnson. Anyway of these taped comments by the major presidential candidates, John McCain had a little too much fun with this. I don't know whether I should be amused or embarrased. I found this on YouTube...



I'll see if I can find more later. Oh and I should mention there was a "match" of sorts with "Obama" and "Hillary", they're engaged in a "cage match" of sorts today with Pennsylvania in play so I'll be sure to keep an eye on that. Anyway "Hillary" was accompanied to the ring by her "Husband" who attempted to steal the show and Hillary had to calm him down. When the referee checked for foreign objects Hillary was portrayed as uncomfortable and "Bill" saying she won't let a man touch her. I should say he belittled her.

And "Obama" came down to the ring with some big ears. At least "Hillary" and her "hubby" looked the part. The only thing this other guy got down was Obama's skin color, big ears (fake big ears at that), and an imitation of The Rock. This man got it down to the mannerisms, moves, and speech.

This was certainly amusing for somebody but me not as much. Just as "Obama" was going to plant the people's elbow on "Hillary". "Bill" trips "Obama" stating that he did not have innapropriate contact with Obama. And then Umaga came to the ring to give a Samoan Spike to "Obama". "Bill" tries to save his wife and thinks that Umaga is a Hillary support. He spooks "Bill" out of the ring and to the backstage area while a helpless Hillary is given a Wild Samoan Drop.

Great going WWE.

What if 5.3 Million More Americans Could Vote?

Article via The State of.

Worthy of discussion this has been an issue of late. There are activists who want to claim that people are being intentionally disenfranchised. Some of it is racial, some political especially if you know someone is losing an election and they might need some critical votes.

Anyway here's the story...
Despite this, our democracy still falls far short of its promise to be a government that truly represents the will of its citizens. Across the country there are 5.3 million Americans who are denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction in their past. Nearly 4 million of these people are not in prison; they live, work, pay taxes, and raise families in our communities, but remain disenfranchised for years, often for decades, and sometimes for life.

States vary widely on when they restore voting rights to former prisoners. Maine and Vermont do not disenfranchise people with convictions; even prisoners may vote there. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia disenfranchise people only while they are incarcerated; five states disenfranchise those who are incarcerated or on parole, but allow people on probation to vote; 20 states disenfranchise people in prison, on parole, and on probation; and 10 states permanently disenfranchise some categories of people who have completed their correctional supervision. Kentucky and Virginia are the last two remaining states that permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions, unless they apply for and receive individual, discretionary clemency from the governor.
Now for those of you who might believe there is a racial component here's one. I've only recently figured out that it seems issues involving people with convictions are issues amongst blacks. I watch too much cable access...
To fully appreciate how these laws compromise our democracy, it is important to understand their deep roots in the troubled history of American race relations. In the late 1800s these laws spread as part of a larger backlash against the adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments -- the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution -- which ended slavery, granted equal citizenship to freed slaves, and prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

Over time, Southern Democrats sought to solidify their hold on the region by modifying voting laws in ways that would exclude African-Americans from the polls. Despite their newfound eligibility to vote, many freed slaves remained effectively disenfranchised.

Violence and intimidation were rampant. The legal barriers employed -- including literacy tests, residency requirements, grandfather clauses, and poll taxes -- while race-neutral on their face, were intentional barriers to African-American voting.

Felony disenfranchisement laws were a key part of this effort. Between 1865 and 1900, 18 states adopted laws restricting the voting rights of criminal offenders. By 1900, 38 states had some type of felon voting restriction, most of which disenfranchised convicted felons until they received a pardon. At the same time, states expanded the criminal codes to punish offenses that they believed targeted freedmen, including vagrancy, petty larceny, miscegenation, bigamy, and receiving stolen goods. Aggressive arrest and conviction efforts followed, motivated by the practice of "convict leasing," whereby former slaves were convicted of crimes and then leased out to work the very plantations and factories from which they had ostensibly been freed. Thus targeted criminalization and felony disenfranchisement combined to produce both practical re-enslavement and the legal loss of voting rights, usually for life, which effectively suppressed the political power of African Americans for decades.

The disproportionate impact of felony disenfranchisement laws on people of color continues to this day. Nationwide, 13 percent of African-American men have lost the right to vote, a rate that is seven times the national average. In eight states, more than 15 percent of African-Americans cannot vote due to a felony conviction, and four of those states -- Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, and Nebraska -- disenfranchise more than 20 percent of their African-American voting-age population.
I'm big on personal responsibility and I believe if you commit a crime then you should suffer the consequences. Unfortunately that means you might lose some of your rights and privileges. For instance you lose your right to vote.

Of course I've noticed a trend at times we tend to throw people down a river especially since we know that they've committed a crime. In a recent blog that I discussed an article where it seemed despite the fact that an old man never drank a drop of alcohol and stopped driving, they didn't sympathize. He was DUI they believed and he could have killed someone apparently beyond that they didn't care about the fact that he stopped driving and that it was some years between his last DUI and the fact that he was sent to prison for a crime that he was convicted of in absentia.

I suppose the only point I'm making is that I understand the system is what it is. Still ex-cons have the right to rebuild their lives and start over. What happened in their past shouldn't continue to hang over their lives. I know that's easy to state, however, we've set up barriers thru employment (espeically if a company performs a background check) or even laws that might disenfranchise an ex-con that doesn't exactly encourage their re-introduction into society after prison.

Why not let these said individuals vote and if we choose to say criminals or convicts can't vote then do it on a case by case basis. If the criminal in question isn't a violent offender then they should be able to vote. I'm sure there are other ideas out there, but I suggest you read the whole thing.

Where Should You Live?




You Should Live in a Small City



You are definitely an urban person, but not any old city will do.

You want a city that matches you well. For you, big cities lack individuality.

You prefer a smaller city with lots of personality, local culture, and history.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicago's small-town black community

A great sort of video/slideshow of pictures taken by a photographer of black Chicago between 1946 - 48. I enjoyed the presentation and the background music of blues instrumentals. I hope you enjoy it to. Via Gaper's Block.

Universal health care a long shot in Illinois

I found out via The Capitol Fax blog this morning that there is a proposal for creating a Canadian style health care system in Illinois. No doubt this would have gone further than the governor's plans to expand health insurance coverage in the state although he seems to have found ways to keep that from happening no matter what he does. Anyway this was proposed by state Rep. Mary Flowers.

Oh and I've posted vids largely critical of the Canadian health care system that I've posted here overtime. You can see all of those vids here. Check out this part of the story a husband is gung-ho for it but his wife on the other hand...
Ron Jackson, 59, a Springfield resident who skimped on medicine and accumulated $25,000 in health-care bills the past five years when he was uninsured, said he would support a single-payer proposal even if he had to pay more in taxes.

“Millions of people suffer without health insurance,” he said. “Anything is better than nothing.”

But his wife, Janice, who works for Springfield Clinic processing claims for Medicaid patients, wants to see lawmakers pursue improvements in the private insurance system.

“There’s too much government already,” she said.
Well unfortunately government wants to assert itself as the solution. When I was in the comments at the Capitol Fax I said work on the problem with the uninsured why impose a system on everyone. Rich Miller thus told me and it makes a lot of sense to me that it's not just the problem with the uninsured, but also those individuals who aren't willing to switch jobs and risk losing their health care coverage. In addition to that there are those who are underinsured, those on the brink of losing coverage for whatever reason, and of course those who have uncovered pre-existing conditions.

Yeah there surely needs to be a debate as to whether or not there needs to be reform of the insurance system for sure. This is why I support some form of health savings account (HSA). The State-Journal Register article that I linked to here mentions that this bill House Bill 331 is designed to "put the control of the health-care system back in the hands of the health-care deliverers rather than health-insurance companies." Sadly I don't think anyone is trying to let people take control of their own healthcare.

I became a supporter of HSAs thanks to this John Stossel vid that I saw a few months ago. Unfortunately in the zeal for universal health insurance there are those who want to even discourage HSAs. I think politicians should stop kidding themselves and everyone else when it comes to solutions to these problems. There is no silver bullet to helping people get access to health care. I wish there was and I sure don't want the system to turn into what I see in those vids that I've seen.

No-driving bills would ground dropouts in California

I suppose this is a way to keep kids in school, but certainly if the only reason a dropout might return to school is to get his license I'm not sure if that's valuable for either the system or the students. As much as I cringe at the idea of high school dropouts, why must politicians or whomever insist that we have to keep those that don't want to be in school to coerce them to stay there. Who knows they might get back eventually.

From the Sacramento Bee via Newsalert...
Targeting what most teenagers lust for, California lawmakers may ban dropouts from driving in a last-ditch attempt to entice them back to school.

The approach, if signed into law, would mark the first time California has used driving as leverage to get kids to stay in school.

Two Assembly bills call for stripping dropouts and habitual truants of driving privileges unless they return to school, reach age 18 or qualify for a hardship waiver.

"It occurs to me that driving is a privilege, it's a state-authorized activity, so I think we have a role here," said Assemblyman Gene Mullin, a South San Francisco Democrat who is pressing the issue as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.

But Meredith Turney of Capitol Resource Family Impact, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the punishment would intrude on parental rights.

"When you start stepping on the toes of parents and their ability to raise children according to their beliefs, you're getting into a very sticky situation," she said.

Twenty-seven states have laws linking driving privileges to school attendance. California lawmakers wrestled with the issue about a decade ago but ultimately dropped the idea.

This year's carrot-and-stick measures, Assembly Bill 2107 and Assembly Bill 2414, have passed policy committees but not yet reached the Assembly floor.

The bills take aim at provisional driver's licenses, which are issued to 16- and 17-year-olds with various restrictions, including limits on late-night driving without adult supervision.
Another way the school system can assert their will over those who for whatever reason chooses not to be apart of the school system. Reminds me almost of a couple of other posts that I did here. One with the public school "monopoly" asserting itself to fight homeschooling. Another about a Montanta legislator who wants to end compulsory education.

Oh and one more thing. Instead of coercing students back to class perhaps there needs to be consideration as to why these students are choosing to drop out of school. A proposal such as this may not be the solution to a problem.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tavis vs Obama: The Reverse Angle



"Black people don't need black leaders, white people need black leaders."

See what that means. Via Cobb.

You might want some background on this.

Losing the moral high ground

While I thought that State Rep. Monique Davis' rant against atheist Rob Sherman was beyond the pale and certainly a disrepectful one towards the idea of the separation of church and state. Rob Sherman's response apparently wasn't the best either. I wasn't offended exactly but I thought that use of this term was innappropriate. Read more from Eric Zorn...
On Monday evening, well into the comment frenzy over the story about the verbal attack that Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) made on atheist activist Rob Sherman, reader "Tony" made note of a passage from Rob Sherman's Web site where Sherman had written:

Now that Negroes like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn't them who are being discriminated against.


I appended a note to the comment saying that the use of the term "Negroes" struck me as out-of-bounds because it gives racial offense and deliberately so. By using it, Sherman forfeited the high ground that he occupied in his tiff with Davis.

I then sent an e-mail to Sherman noting these objections. I've interviewed him scores of times in the past 22 years and never detected even a hint of racism or bigotry, so I regarded his use of a once-standard but now unacceptable word to be the result of a moment of rhetorical clumsiness or tone-deafness that he ought to rethink.

Sherman replied to my note:

["Negroes" is] what the group was called when they were being discriminated against, but now that this same group has political power, discrimination is OK, as long as it's not them that's being discriminated against. That's the reason for the use of the term.
Invoking Civil Rights-era terminology to sharpen an attempt to draw an ironic (and dubious) analogy between persecuted African Americans and persecuted atheists is not a polemical stunt I would recommend to anyone.
Negroes is not a proper term, that the main thing most of us should know. I don't think it's offensive, but by using this term Mr. Sherman may not have helped himself. I could just accuse Sherman of being a suburbanite who's a bit out of touch with race-relations. And yeah I could have been a bit more creative when I said that.

BTW, Rob Sherman just like Monique Davis prior has become Keith Olberman's worst person in the world because of this. Not sure that's a good thing.

Violent Weekend Continues: 32 Shot, 6 Dead

I wonder what's going on? This is almost like the rash of threats that took place at area colleges and school districts. I would have thought someone was having a little fun with this.

Of course where there are a rash of shootings that took the lives of one too many Chicago Public School students I know someone isn't having that much fun with this. If they are this is even more horrible. Well the story of what happened this weekend via CBS 2...
A violent and deadly weekend continues in Chicago. At least 12 people have been shot, two of them killed, since Saturday morning. This comes after at least 20 people were shot, four of them killed, from Friday night through early Saturday.

A 28-year-old man was shot and killed at an auto body repair shop on the Southwest Side Saturday morning. Raul Lemus was shot in the stomach at 2520 W. 59th St. at about 11:20 a.m.

Lemus, of 4630 S. Talman Av., died several hours later at Stroger Hospital, making him the sixth person killed in Chicago since Friday night. Police said the shooting appeared to be gang related.

Also Saturday morning, Michael Giles, 26, was shot and killed inside his home at 336 N. Avers Av. Harrison Area detectives are investigating.

In another case, a suspect toting an AK-47 has been charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder after allegedly killing a man and shooting at police. Bennie Teague of 6200 S. Sacramento Av. is due in bond court Sunday afternoon.

It's amazing no one was hurt during the shootout between police and Teague, who was firing an assault rifle. Police say the gunman opened fire on them Friday night at 110th and South Union. They tracked him down after he allegedly shot and killed 34-year-old Marcus Hendricks inside a plumbing business a few blocks away.

The 34-year-old from Flossmoor died after being shot just blocks from a police-involved shooting on the Far South Side. He died at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 8 p.m., a Cook County Medical Examiner's office spokesman said.

"All I could say is he's a nice guy," said neighbor Amos Williams.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Feminism

For the rest of the semester we will be reading a black female feminist author, Bell Hooks. And don't think I forgot about Malcolm X, I have to catch up on some of his readings. When I do I'll have some thoughts for you to consider.

I've learned though I'm not clear on the how or why that black women were excluded for the most part from the feminist movement. The movement maybe in the earliest days consisted of mostly white middle class to upper class women. I heard a story that some black ladies were going to a dinner they paid their tickets but they wouldn't be served before the men. Well that's not very just is it? Even in the civil rights movement there was a little housecleaning to be done.

It was mentioned and I didn't witness it that some time last year the ladies at Spelman College marched to their brother college Morehouse to protest rape. Apparently there were some allegations that a Spelmanite was about the being taken advantage of my a Morehouse student. Well I won't talk too much about it because I don't know a lot about it. It was mentioned in class that this is a result of black women being excluded from the feminist movement, they have no where to turn.

Still there are those who surely had their problem with it. My political theory professor mentioned she had a problem with that march as a feminist. A lot of guys certainly had a problem with it because these ladies decided to deem Morehouse men rapists.

This might underscore why people in general have a preconceived notion of feminism. Rush Limbaugh coined the term feminazi and I do believe such women exists in the world. My preconceived notion of feminism to me involves hatred of men, changing the pedestal of domination where women are dominate, and maybe how they treat other women.

Feminism has one thing right, that women should have equal rights with their male counterpart. And biology is not destiny! I don't believe women should be forced either by social convention or even law to become domesticated, or I should say housewives, homemakers or whatever the proper term is today. Still in another way women are still perceived as not having a choice.

Women today are generally expected to make their name in a male dominated world. I hear there are those who look down on those ladies who choose to stay at home and be wives and mothers. Feminism should allow that woman a choice and realize the drawbacks of becoming housewives or career women. Unfortunately most don't and some believe they can put off getting married or having children until they've made their mark in the world.

Of course in seeking to change domination there are those who hate men enough to force little boys to suffer. Could a man be with a woman who things men are bad? It is said that feminism should be liberating to men, and what does that mean?

Well perhaps a removal of all these ideas on gender roles. A woman who can take care of herself and I suppose her man, relieving him of doing so many of the things a man is expected to do for his lady. In order to prove how masculine he might be some women might play games it might occur the younger she is. Or perhaps when it comes to dating, convention suggests that a man must pay for the date instead she might foot the bill or at least 50/50.

I'm sure there are bound to be more questions than answers. The one thing feminism is plain and simple is equal rights between men and women. I think women ought to have a choice as to whether she wants to work, have a career, or stay at home and take care of the kids. And feminism needs not be a vehicle to express hate against men. Somehow men and women have to live together both of us has to learn and we can't merely try to find ways to knock each other off of some pedestal. Also such a movement need not be co-opted by some political party and it seems the civil rights movement and feminism has been in recent years.

The book we're reading is Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by Bell Hooks. Rest assured I will have my own thoughts as my class goes thru these readings. Soon I shall return to Malcolm X. Hopefully that will be in the near future or after the end of the semester.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Volokh Conspiracy: It's not a crime to photograph undercover cops

I understand that Chicago Police officers don't like to be photographed. I generally support police officers on this blog, however, I know that there can be some bad apples on the force. We've seen those bad apples in the news a lot. There has to be a way to keep them accountable since there jobs are to serve us, the citizens. Other than that the good officers out there should keep up the good work, whatever they're doing.

From the Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit. In fact most of the post contains an excerpt from a newspaper article...

A person cannot be charged with obstruction or resisting arrest if the police detention is unlawful, an assistant state attorney, Tony Casoria, said in a memo released this week. Sievert did not physically interfere with the search warrant, the prosecutor said.

Casoria said Sievert "took a photograph in a public place, across the street from the home where law enforcement were conducting their search."

Sievert's attorney, Charles Britt III, has challenged the merits of the prosecution, calling the arrest unlawful. Journalists routinely snap photos at crime scenes, the attorney said.

"The police would hardly arrest a member of the media or anyone else standing and watching for doing the same thing," Britt said in court papers.

That deputies did not like what Sievert was doing, Britt said, did not make it a crime. Britt said authorities targeted Sievert because of his past drug crimes. Sievert's arrest, he said, stemmed from "contempt of cop."

Britt said "common sense" would dictate that, if authorities do not want undercover vehicles identified by the public, the cars and trucks should not be driven to locations that are being hit with a search warrant.
...
In declining to prosecute Sievert, the state pointed to a decision in a federal lawsuit in which a judge awarded a man damages for his arrest for videotaping police.

In 2003, a state judge in Pennsylvania overturned the harassment conviction of Allen E. Robinson, who had taped police during a traffic stop. Robinson said he was concerned about unsafe truck inspections and set up a video camera.

Robinson, a truck driver, sued the police, saying he was subjected to false arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution. Robinson won in federal court in 2005.

"The activities of the police, like those of other public officials, are subject to public scrutiny," a federal judge wrote. "Robinson's right to free speech encompasses the right to receive information and ideas."

The police, the judge wrote, citing a case in Texas, do not have "unfettered discretion to arrest individuals for words or conduct that annoy or offend them."
Oh and if you're considering engaging in this conduct I would suggest using discretion and understand that while the law is on your side being careful is certainly your best bet. Caution should be rule not to say that you should hide but certainly be very careful when you engage in this activity. Things should be even better now that we have cell phone cameras, digital cameras, and digital camcorders.

Funeral home refuses to bury couple's son

While I'm sure most of Chicago is talking about the earthquake this morning and the resulting aftershocks, I want to get back to earth and not jump on that wagon right now. Let's talk about a family that's having some trouble burying their child. From the Sun-Times today...
The family wanted something simple for John Mendoza -- the chance to see the 16-year-old one final time and then to say goodbye.

But two Chicago funeral homes told the grief-stricken Mendozas this week they couldn't help, and a third offered only an abbreviated service -- all because John Mendoza had been beaten to death and the funeral homes feared gang retaliation, the Mendozas say.

"It's crazy," said Jose Mendoza, 48, the dead boy's uncle. "Here we are trying to bury our poor nephew so he can rest in peace, and these people are being boneheads."

John Mendoza was found bludgeoned to death in a South Side alley Monday morning. Detectives haven't ruled out gang involvement, but the Mendozas insist the 16-year-old wasn't in a gang and had in fact recently changed schools to avoid being sucked into that life.

Representatives of the three Chicago funeral homes either wouldn't discuss how they handled the Mendozas' funeral request or disagree with what the family says happened.

Richard Modelski, owner of Modell Funeral Homes, denied that the Mendozas were refused service.

But any time someone dies violently, Modelski takes precautions, he said, including requiring a $2,000 fee to pay for extra security.

Wakes are often scheduled in the morning because "most gang violence occurs in the evening under cover of darkness," Modelski said. "Unfortunately, that's the society we live in."

But the Mendozas say their son wasn't in a gang.

"Most families aren't going to be honest with you," Modelski said. "Most families don't know what their children do."
There is some good news on this front, the family finally found a funeral home. Apparently there is a way to handle this and perhaps the homes in question didn't handle this well. It seems even a longtime funeral director and former president of a funeral home association seemed to have question about their handling of this.

I should also mention. I've been to the funeral of a couple of people who died violent deaths and their funerals were organized by black-owned funeral homes. An important industry in the black community is the funeral home. I would sincerely hope tho I've not seen it, that our funeral homes wouldn't behave in this fashion.

I think the funeral homes this family went to might have been a little fearful in an irrational way. That's unfortunate.

Guilty Before Proven Innocent

I started this post just over a month ago and this give me the excuse to post this article from Reason. A family was charged with a drug crime they didn't commit. What makes this story much worse is that there is an industry where convicts are willing to do anything to get out. Somehow, they're able to engage in finding some intelligence that allows them to become informants against witnesses who have nothing to do with any drug deals.

I may agree that drugs are a problem. At the same time I have a problem with overzealous prosecution. In this case a willingness to use shady testimony from those witnesses who aren't credible. Prosecutors really want that drug conviction. It almost makes me ask if this drug war is wrong.

It's almost unfortunate that the prosecutors in this case failed to realize their errors since they still believed that the family in question were drugs dealers. What I thought was odd, that their future son-in-law attempted to take responsibility for the drugs and they somehow determined that they weren't his. So they really wanted this family to go down in flames for whatever reason.

This story is intriguing only because there are several components. Ruthless convicts who want out of prison so they resort to having to lie about what they know. The general racism of this small Louisiana town. Finally the prosecutors who were willing to do whatever it takes to get a conviction.

I wanted to mention that over a month ago I saw a documentary that aired on Showtime and I didn't get to see it because I don't get Showtime. Instead I saw it on Google Video, however, it's no longer online and when I resurrected this post after I started this a month ago I would have featured front and center this vid. Visit the official website here. The doc title is American Drug War.

Tangent
: The film mentions how common household substances. They showed examples of over the counter medication such as Sudafed were used to create crystal meth. Reminds me of what happened when I was home.

I went to my neighborhood Walgreen's to buy some cold medicine and I ran into some legal thing. As I was about to make my purchase all the sudden the cashier asked for ID. I had the misfortune of bringing only cash with me. She realized that the register didn't ask for my birthday and I was all set. Thank goodness because I really didn't want to take a long walk back to my home to procure my ID.

She told me that there was a law that was designed to prevent the use of cold medicine to discourage their usage in the manufacture of crystal meth. I've heard about the law and I didn't think about it until I inquired about why she needed an ID and she told me the reasoning. Hmm, I didn't want to get high, I just wanted some cold medicine.

Anyway, there is some unfairness in the system. One could wonder if the idea of prohibition of illegal substances is a policy that should be continued. Many years ago it was tried with alcohol and that didn't solve the problem, people still wanted to drink. So they found a way to get drunk even if they had to go thru criminals.

Looking at this story from Reason, I would wonder if there needs to be reform in the prosecution of drug crimes. If not absolute abolition of these laws or decriminalization of drug use in this country. In fact the aforementioned doc wonders if America has been better off not making more natural drugs such as marijuana illegal and it would cause drug addicts to turn to making crystal meth or heroine that certainly prove to be more harmful.

Agree or disagree there are some important issues to discuss here.

Semi-related go back to my post about overzealous prosecution of DUIs.