Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thinking in Time

Chuck understands that accurate and timely intelligence is essential for effective foreign policy. He served for many years as -- on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and six years on the Senate Elect Committee on Intelligence. And I came to appreciate his sound judgments in our travels together overseas, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also understands, from personal experience, the need to protect our troops and provide them with the best possible intelligence. During Vietnam, Sergeant Hagel served as an infantry squad leader, along with his brother, where they both were wounded twice. I thank Chuck for his lifetime of service and his willingness to serve once again.

-President Barack Obama

With the latest reports indicating that Mr. Obama is preparing to announce the deployment of at least 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, it is understandable that the appointment of Chuck Hagel, former two term Republican senator from Nebraska, to be co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board has been overlooked. Nonetheless, this appointment could be considered part of the long and arduous bureaucratic maneuvering necessary to be released from the thumbscrew that is the war in Afghanistan.

In his memoir co-written with Richard Holbrooke, Clark Clifford called the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) "one of the least known and most sensitive organizations in the U.S." and "one of the most rewarding governmental activities in which I was ever involved."

When John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency he was ready to do away with what was then known as the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. He considered it to be an impediment to the activist foreign policy that he outlined in his inaugural address. But after nearly being thrust by the praetorian state apparatus into a full scale invasion of Cuba, JFK renamed the advisory board and reinvigorated it with the appointment of Clark Clifford and had it report directly to him.

From his days as an advisor to Harry Truman during the Korean War, Clifford brought with him a deep sense of history and respect for the limits of force. On 29 February 1968, almost one month before Lyndon Johnson effectively resigned from the presidency, Clifford became Secretary of Defense.

Reprinted below in its entirety from the Washington Post is Mr. Hagel's recent opinion piece published two months ago:

The other night I watched the film "The Deer Hunter." Afterward, I remembered why it took me so many years to be able to watch Vietnam movies.

It all came tumbling back -- the tragedy, the innocent victims, the waste. Too often in Washington we tend to see foreign policy as an abstraction, with little understanding of what we are committing our country to: the complications and consequences of endeavors. It is easy to get into war, not so easy to get out. Vietnam lasted more than 10 years; soon, we will slip into our ninth year in Afghanistan. We have been in Iraq for almost seven years.

When I came to the Senate in 1997, the world was being redefined by forces no single country controlled or understood. The implosion of the Soviet Union and a historic diffusion of economic and geopolitical power created new influences and established new global power centers -- and new threats. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, shocked America into this reality. The Sept. 11 commission pointed out that the attacks were as much about failures of our intelligence and security systems as about the terrorists' success.

The U.S. response, engaging in two wars, was a 20th-century reaction to 21st-century realities. These wars have cost more than 5,100 American lives; more than 35,000 have been wounded; a trillion dollars has been spent, with billions more departing our Treasury each month. We forgot all the lessons of Vietnam and the preceding history.

No country today has the power to impose its will and values on other nations. As the new world order takes shape, America must lead by building coalitions of common interests, as we did after World War II. Then, international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and GATT (now the World Trade Organization) -- while flawed -- established boundaries for human and government conduct and expectations that helped keep the world from drifting into World War III and generally made life better for most people worldwide during the second half of the 20th century.

Our greatest threats today come from the regions left behind after World War II. Addressing these threats will require a foreign policy underpinned by engagement -- in other words, active diplomacy but not appeasement. We need a clearly defined strategy that accounts for the interconnectedness and the shared interests of all nations. Every great threat to the United States -- whether economic, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, health pandemics, environmental degradation, energy, or water and food shortages -- also threatens our global partners and rivals. Accordingly, we cannot view U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan through a lens that sees only "winning" or "losing." Iraq and Afghanistan are not America's to win or lose. Win what? We can help them buy time or develop, but we cannot control their fates. There are too many cultural, ethnic and religious dynamics at play in these regions for any one nation to control. For example, the future of Afghanistan is linked directly to Pakistan and what happens in the mountains along their border. Political accommodation and reconciliation in this region will determine the outcome.

Bogging down large armies in historically complex, dangerous areas ends in disaster. In Vietnam, we kept feeding more men, material and money into a corrupt Vietnamese government as our own leaders continued to deceive themselves and the American people. Today's wars are quite different from Vietnam. But the Obama administration, Congress and the Pentagon must get this right because it will frame the global architecture for the next generation. We must put forward fresh thinking. We can no longer hold ourselves to narrow "single issue" engagement when dealing with nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, Turkey or South Korea. The United States needs all these countries and many more if we are to engage the most dangerous challenges -- not one at a time but all together. Our relationships with these nations have matured since World War II, as these nations have matured. Does anyone believe we will get to a responsible resolution on Iran without Russia? There's a reason we are part of a Group of 20 rather than a G-8. Even the world's largest economies cannot handle today's problems alone.

Global collaboration does not mean retreating from our standards, values or sovereignty. Development of seamless networks of intelligence gathering and sharing, and strengthening alliances, diplomatic cooperation, trade and development can make the biggest long-term difference and have the most lasting impact on building a more stable and secure world. There really are people and organizations committed to destroying America, and we need an agile, flexible and strong military to face these threats. How, when and where we use force are as important as the decision to use it. Relying on the use of force as a centerpiece of our global strategy, as we have in recent years, is economically, strategically and politically unsustainable and will result in unnecessary tragedy -- especially for the men and women, and their families, who serve our country.

Are our policies worthy of these Americans' great sacrifices? That question must always be at the fore of our leaders' decisions. Threats to America come from more than Afghanistan. Consider Yemen and Somalia. Are we prepared to put U.S. ground troops there? I doubt we would seriously consider putting forces in Pakistan, yet its vast Federally Administered Tribal Areas and mountainous western border harbor our most dangerous enemies today. We must shift our thinking, now, to pursue wiser courses of action and sharper, more relevant policies.

The president and his national security team should listen to recordings of conversations that President Lyndon B. Johnson had with Sen. Richard Russell about Vietnam, especially those in which LBJ told Russell that we could not win in Vietnam but that he did not want to pull out and be the first American president to lose a war. Difficult decisions with historic consequences are coming soon for President Obama.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons in Disaster

For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sanh.
-President Barack Obama

Thursday, October 1, 2009

JFK and the Unspeakable

"Our victories give our enemies weapons that they did not have before." Amiri Baraka said this to me last weekend. And it's something that I wish my friends on the radical left would consider when they call Obama weak or a puppet.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering, drug- using mayor of the nation’s capital who was famously caught in a 1990 FBI sting operation. Yet others know him as a folk hero, a civil rights champion and defender of the poor. Barry’s soaring achievements, catastrophic failures and phoenix-like rebirths have made him a symbol of mythic indestructibility. Who is Marion Barry, really? A hero? A scoundrel? Why is he such a polarizing force? And why do people still vote for him? For the first time, THE NINE LIVES OF MARION BARRY reveals the complete unforgettable story, bringing into sharp focus Barry’s journey from Mississippi cotton fields to the corridors of power, from drug and alcohol addiction, cancer, four marriages, jail time and political extinction to dominance over Washington, DC city politics for more than 40 years. The film presents all sides of Barry—good, bad and ugly. Using archival footage and a verité look at Ward 8—the historically troubled and forgotten section of DC’s southeastern quadrant— during Barry’s 2004 campaign for city council, political passions and historical and contemporary perspectives collide. Just as importantly, Flor and Oppenheimer show how Barry’s story is inextricably linked with DC’s own twisted narrative—a black- majority city with no representation in Congress.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our National Postracial Hangover

The Chronicle of Higher Education

My first reaction to watching the unfolding Saga of Skip Gates's Cambridge Arrest was that America's postracial bubble, like its recent economic troubles, was about to pop. The fact that some observers had never bought into the story of a race-free America purged of its past sins by a watershed presidential election had done little to diminish either that narrative's moral resonance or political weight.

Since America's racial disparities remain as deep-rooted after Barack Obama's election as they were before, it was only a matter of time until the myth of postracism exploded in our collective national face. That they would rear their ugly head in the form of an intellectual and racial cause célèbre is fitting, since black scholars and activists have been engaged in a robust debate over the meaning of race in the Age of Obama.

Suddenly Obama's recent declaration before the NAACP—that American blacks have come farther than at any other time in our country's history—seems suspect, our national progress undone by the fact that Gates's predicament has become a metaphor for the nation's legacy of racial discrimination.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feet of Clay

If you have a chance check out my brother speaking 9 April 2009 at The New York Public Library on a panel titled Making Sense of Black Nationalism in the Obama Era.

PENIEL JOSEPH: I disagree with that. I think the Eric Holder speech. We’re talking about the Attorney General of the United States, first black attorney general, made a speech February 17th of this year about race called A Nation of Cowards, it’s a very specific speech, more sophisticated than Obama’s March 4, 2008, speech. He talks about the reasons for Black History Month. He talks about the politics and practices of white supremacy and institutionalized racism and how Black History Month can be the font to start conversation nationally that we haven’t seen since the Kerner commission. So Holder’s speech was a much more sophisticated speech about race. Because what Obama did was what King Solomon did—he parsed. Right, so he said we’re going to split the baby down the people, so black people are to blame and so are white people. There’s a problem there because black people didn’t start slavery and black people didn’t institutionalize Jim Crow. So the idea is if we want to have an honest conversation about race, it’s not about parsing and saying, “well, we’re both to blame, fifty / fifty,” so the politics of Katrina are “because your mom smoked crack and George Bush was a jerk, fifty/fifty.” That’s just not the truth empirically. And I’m saying this as a historian.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is He Kidding?

One wonders how Michael Steele ever became Lieutenant Governor.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

The avatar will see you now

The Economist

THAT people undergoing medical procedures should give their informed consent might seem simple and uncontentious. But what if a patient has a mental impairment and his doctor does not have time to ensure he understands the proposed treatment? Those who try to look after the interests of such people say that, in practice, hard-pressed hospital staff often ask leading questions and the “consent” obtained is thus far from informed.

A team of researchers led by Suzanne Conboy-Hill, a psychologist at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, England, reckon virtual environments could provide the solution. They are designing a virtual model of the hospital and, in October, it will receive its first “patients”—a group of 20 volunteers with learning disabilities who will visit it in order to find out what’s what and, in particular, to be talked through the sort of treatment they might be offered if they really were patients.

The hospital is being built in Second Life, an online world in which people participate in the form of virtual representatives known as avatars. In the case of those in the study, their digital alter egos will begin their journeys at a simulation of the Grace Eyre Foundation centre for adults with learning disabilities in Brighton, which they attend in real life. Local landmarks such as the town’s famous seaside pier will be used to help familiarise them with their surroundings before they arrive at a virtual version of the Royal Sussex.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fresh Air from WHYY, June 18, 2009 · Chip Berlet has studied extremism, conspiracy theories and hate groups for more than 25 years. In a recent report for, he says that the murders of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen T. Johns exemplify the potential for violence that often lurks within extremist groups.

Berlet argues that right-wing pundits share some of the moral responsibility for the actions of their followers. He summarizes the analysis in his report in a June 10 Huffington Post article about Johns' murder: "Apocalyptic aggression is fueled by right-wing pundits who demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation."

Berlet is a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a Boston-area-based think tank, and the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. He is also the editor of Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time For Some Action

PHOENIX — Two of three people arrested in a southern Arizona home invasion that left a little girl and her father dead had connections to a Washington state anti-illegal immigration group that conducts border watch activities in Arizona.

Jason Eugene Bush, 34, Shawna Forde, 41, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and other charges, said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz.

The trio are alleged to have dressed as law enforcement officers and forced their way into a home about 10 miles north of the Mexican border in rural Arivaca on May 30, wounding a woman and fatally shooting her husband and their 9-year-old daughter. Their motive was financial, Dupnik said.

"The husband who was murdered has a history of being involved in narcotics and there was an anticipation that there would be a considerable amount of cash at this location as well as the possibility of drugs," Dupnik said.

Forde is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a small border watch group, and Bush goes by the nickname "Gunny" and is its operations director, according to the group's Web site. She is from Everett, Wash., has recently been living in Arizona and was once associated with the better known and larger Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

A statement attributed to officers of Forde's group and posted on its Web site on Saturday extended condolences to the victims' families and said the group doesn't condone such acts and will cooperate with law enforcement.

"This is not what Minutemen do," said member Chuck Stonex, who responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press sent through the Web site. "Minutemen observe, document and report. This is nothing more than a cold-hearted criminal act, and that is all we want to say."

The assailants planned to leave no one alive, Dupnik said at a press conference in Tucson on Friday. He said Forde was the ringleader.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Building Fences

"The question we ask today is not whether our Government is too big or too small, but whether it works"

-President Barack Obama

"If you're worried that lions are eating too many zebras, you don't say to the lions, 'You're eating too many zebras.' You have to build a fence around the lions. They're not going to build it."
- Judge Richard A. Posner

One of the most prominent proponents of free-market capitalism is having second thoughts.

Judge Richard A. Posner, a federal appeals court judge who has been called the most cited legal scholar of all time, discussed his doubts and his analysis of the current financial crisis in a wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post.

A longtime proponent of deregulation, the idea that business works best in a free market without burdensome government regulations, Posner began to change his mind when he realized the enormity of the crisis. This change of heart inspired him to write his upcoming book, "A Failure Of Capitalism."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pardon the Interruption

What the hell happened here? Seven floors above the iced-over Dallas North Tollway, Raghib (Rocket) Ismail is revisiting the question. It's December, and Ismail is sitting in the boardroom of Chapwood Investments, a wealth management firm, his white Notre Dame snow hat pulled down to his furrowed brow.

In 1991 Ismail, a junior wide receiver for the Fighting Irish, was the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Instead he signed with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts for a guaranteed $18.2 million over four years, then the richest contract in football history. But today, at a private session on financial planning attended by eight other current or onetime pro athletes, Ismail, 39, indulges in a luxury he didn't enjoy as a young VIP: hindsight.

"I once had a meeting with J.P. Morgan," he tells the group, "and it was literally like listening to Charlie Brown's teacher." The men surrounding Ismail at the conference table include Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, Cowboys wideout Isaiah Stanback and six former pros: NFL cornerback Ray Mickens and fullback Jerald Sowell (both of whom retired in 2006), major league outfielder Ben Grieve and NBA guard Erick Strickland ('05), and linebackers Winfred Tubbs ('00) and Eugene Lockhart ('92). Ismail ('02) cackles ruefully. "I was so busy focusing on football that the first year was suddenly over," he says. "I'd started with this $4 million base salary, but then I looked at my bank statement, and I just went, What the...?"

Entire article can be found here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Junior High School Musical

Two Bountiful Junior High School teachers are accused of sexually assaulting the same 13-year-old student, after their separate relationships with him spiraled from personal conversations to the exchange of sexual text messages and phone sex, authorities said.

On Friday, the Davis County Attorney's Office filed first-degree felony charges of rape and sodomy on a child against Linda R. Nef, 46, and Valynne Bowers, 39.

Nef, a Utah studies teacher and cheerleading adviser, and Bowers, who teaches math, each confessed to having sex with the student, said Bountiful Police Lt. Randy Pickett. Until recently, the two teachers did not know about each other's relationship with the same boy, Pickett said. Courtesy of Salt Lake Tribune.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Buns of Steele

Michael Steele should resign as Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, according to a committee member from North Carolina.

In an e-mail to fellow RNC members obtained by The Hill, Dr. Ada Fisher, North Carolina's national committeewoman, said Steele is "eroding confidence" in the GOP and that members of his transition team should encourage him to step aside. Fisher added Steele's personal e-mail address to the e-mail.

"I don't want to hear anymore [sic] language trying to be cool about the bling in the stimulus package or appealing to D.L. Hughley and blacks in a way that isn't going to win us any votes and makes us frankly appear to many blacks as quite foolish," Fisher wrote.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trouble in Paradise

HYANNIS, Mass. (AP) — Like most boys, 13-year-old Mykel Mendes looked up to his big brother, Jordan. The two rode bikes together, did yard work together and hung out together. But when it came to the family business — a major drug ring — Mykel did not want to share, police say.

Mykel, a 7th grader, is now accused of masterminding the slaying of his 16-year-old half-brother so he could take over the drug operation — one police say they inherited from their father, who is in prison for running one of the biggest cocaine rings on Cape Cod.

Jordan was found shot, stabbed 27 times and dumped into a pit, where his body was torched. Another 13-year-old friend and a 20-year-old cousin also are charged with murder.

The killing has shaken the normal quiet of winter on Cape Cod, the summer tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, salt water taffy and famous residents. Jordan Mendes lived just a few miles from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The New Face of Black Power

Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us. But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must - and will - lead the nation to the "new birth of freedom" so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation.

-Attorney General Eric Holder

Transcript available here and archived video here. As of this posting, neither Assault on Black Sanity nor Black Agenda Report provided comment or had it linked. I wonder why? Does this have any implication on the authenticity and viability of black partisanship?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Master Race

How long will we wait for the black moral conservative establishment to seize on this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Creative Destruction

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

True power resides not in the anvil but in the hand. It is the capacity to formulate political strategy to allow maximum future flexibility that separates great nations from lesser ones.

President Obama, uninformed punditry aside, has defined the analytical framework of the next generation. "The question we ask today is not whether our Government is too big or too small, but whether it works; whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end."

Rancid politicization has obscured the imperial vista. However, the establishment charged with educating our leaders and running this country has outlined where we need to go next. As Alan Greenspan correctly observed, we are in an age of turbulence which precedes creation or death.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Like This

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,
Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this?

If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God's fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Like this?

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don't try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn't believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.

When lovers moan,
they're telling our story.
Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.

How did Joseph's scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob's sight return?

A little wind cleans the eyes.
Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he'll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
Like this


Thursday, January 8, 2009

One bad muh....

Brooklyn Girls