Barack and Jeremiah

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Jeremiah Wright doesn’t believe that God’s purpose for him on this earth is to make white people feel comfortable with him or Barack Obama. His silence is not required by our constitution nor commanded by God or the Obama campaign. He rejects the false litmus test that he’s become and that only Obama must pass so that he is acceptable to a white electorate skittish about electing an African American president.

During the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, the fact remains that Plains Baptist Church refused to be integrated and forced the resignation of the pastor who insisted that it should. Neither Carter’s commitment to the church or his faith were questioned in the same manner that Barack Obama’s church and faith has been.

This litmus test is a racist double standard that should be unacceptable in the twenty-first century and an example of a religious test that our constitution forbids. At the end of the day, Barack Obama can only be held responsible for his own words and record as a politician and not that of an evil old preacher who feeds the homeless, sends hundreds of young people to college and seminary, and voluntarily serves his country when the last two presidents were literally missing in action.

Why Obama strategist David Axelrod continues to act as if Barack has something to apologize for, I’ll never understand. I know in my heart of hearts that if Barack Obama is not acceptable to the White America he claims doesn’t exist because we are supposedly one people, no black person ever will be. Moreover, if Obama throws Wright under the bus as the media has commanded him to do, he’ll accomplish the feat of gaining the whole world while losing his soul. He will also lose my vote again and those of other African Americans like me deeply offended by his passivity in the face of racist attacks against the Black Church.

 

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No Preference

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I voted today and did as I said I would do and voted no preference for the Democratic nomination for President because I am profoundly dismayed and angered by the lack of backbone shown by Barack Obama during the recent attacks upon his faith and the Black Church.

I struggled mightily. The twenty minutes I stared at my ballot seemed like an eternity. I went back and forth several times. Surrounded by other blackfolks, I became self-conscious. I wrestled with the lie I told the cheerful White Obama canvasser who ambushed me as I left my home. I then struggled with the commitment that I felt strongly enough to tell all of you about and my twenty-five year desire for a black President.

I teared up a bit and stared at the paper some more. My thoughts drifted to a dear friend’s 25 year-old brother lying comatose in intensive care, the victim of double aneurisms, dangling somewhere between life and death, and I wondered what is so damn wrong with refusing to compromise your core values and living the life God gives you informed by Trinity United Church of Christ’s motto “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.”

If the Father gives that boy a second chance at life, as I pray he does, I have no doubt that he will live his life to the fullest and without regrets. He comes from a proud Nigerian household and their love and commitment to each other is uniquely powerful. It makes me proud to know his sister and count her as one of my dearest friends. Their pride in their heritage makes them stronger as black people and as a family. It is unfathomable to me why Obama, a son East Africa, is afraid to embrace the power of his black religious heritage and stand on what I know he believes but refuses to confess to White America.

And yes, contrary to his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, there is a White America and a Black America. And they are separate and unequal because we are not one people and never have been.

I watched Bill Moyers interview with Dr. Wright last night and heard nothing a reasonable person who understands the depth of African American suffering and the shame of our country’s history of slavery, genocide, and Jim Crow could be offended by.

Still grappling with my decision, I remembered Obama’s Friday presser. Senator Obama continued to distance himself from his Pastor of two decades yesterday by continuing the use of his weasel word mantra of “profound disagreement” over Dr. Wright’s, “objectionable” comments and why he and White America, “took offense.” I marked my ballot, smiled at the sistah who took my name and gave me ballot, and strode confidently back to my car.

Some people would rather live shackled by a cacophony of patriotic white supremacist lies than live in freedom and truth. Any campaign which genuflects to the head in the sand mentality so prevalent in White America is a campaign based on lies of political expedience and I cannot support that without protest.

If you disagree, watch Dr. Wright and Obama for yourself.

Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

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Hat Tip: By Michael Wilson, NY Times

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. Giving his reasoning, he said 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 fiancée 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.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the chilly November evening when Mr. Bell died, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, the judge said, quickly adding that the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors against them.

Roughly 30 court officers stood by, around the courtroom and in the aisles. At one point as he read, Justice Cooperman paused to insist that a crying baby be taken from the courtroom. Immediately a young woman who appeared to be among the Bell contingent got up and left with a baby.

The Rev. Al Sharpton accompanied Bell family members to the cemetery, and said later that they will join him on Saturday at a rally protesting the verdict. He said he had spoken to the governor and the mayor, and that he believed a federal civil rights prosecution of the officers would be appropriate.

“This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over,” Mr. Sharpton said.

He promised protests “to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take this abortion of justice lying down.” He even raised the possibility of taking protests directly to Justice Cooperman’s home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for calm. “There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father and a mother and a father lost their son.”

The mayor continued: “Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority.”

He added: “There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it.”

A subdued Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case, said at a news conference: “Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and consciously under the law. I accept his verdict, and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same.”

Commissioner Kelly, speaking in Brooklyn, would not comment on the verdict itself. But he did say that while there were no reports of unrest in response to the acquittals, the Police Department was ready should it occur.

“We have prepared, we have done some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel if there is any violence, but again, we don’t anticipate violence,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been no problems. Obviously there will be some people who are disappointed with the verdict. We understand that.”

Detectives Isnora and Oliver had faced the most charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter, with a possible sentence of 25 years in prison; felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment, with a possible one-year sentence. Detective Oliver also faced a second count of first-degree assault. Detective Cooper was charged only with two counts of reckless endangerment.

All three of the detectives, none of whom took the stand during the trial, spoke at the offices of their union on Friday afternoon. “I’ve just started my life back,” Detective Cooper said.

During the 26 days of testimony, the prosecution sought to show, with an array of 50 witnesses, that the shooting was the act of a frightened group of disorganized police officers who began their shift that night hoping to arrest a prostitute or two and, in suspecting Mr. Bell and his friends of possessing a gun, quickly got in over their heads.

“We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours,” said an assistant district attorney, Charles A. Testagrossa, in his closing arguments. “Not to risk our lives to protect their own.”

The defense, through weeks of often heated cross-examinations, their own witnesses and the words of the detectives themselves, portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a nonetheless justified confrontation, with Detective Isnora having what it called solid reasons to believe he was the only thing standing between Mr. Bell’s car and a drive-by shooting around the corner.

Several witnesses testified that they heard talk of guns in an argument between Mr. Bell and a stranger, Fabio Coicou, outside Kalua, an argument, the defense claimed, that was fueled by bravado and Mr. Bell’s intoxicated state. Defense lawyers pointed their fingers at Mr. Guzman, who, they said, in shouting for Mr. Bell to drive away when Detective Isnora approached, may have instigated his death.

Wesley Snipes gets played

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Hat Tip: Yahoo, Associated Press

Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison on tax charges Thursday, a victory for prosecutors who sought to make an example of the action star by aggressively pursuing the maximum penalty.Snipes’ lawyers had spent much of the day in court offering dozens of letters from family members, friends even fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington attesting to the good character of the “Blade” star and asking for leniency.

 

 

They argued he should get only probation because his three convictions were all misdemeanors and the actor had no previous criminal record.  But U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, and granted prosecutors the three year sentence they requested one year for each of Snipes’ convictions of willfully failing to file a tax return.  “In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors,” Hodges said.

 

 

Snipes apologized while reading from a written statement for his “costly mistakes,” but never mentioned the word taxes.  “I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance,” Snipes said.

 

 

Snipes said his wealth and celebrity attracted “wolves and jackals like flies are attracted to meat.” He called himself “well-intentioned, but miseducated.”

 

Snipes was the highest-profile criminal tax target in years, and prosecutors called for a heavy sentence to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. The government alleged Snipes made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes.

 

Snipes was acquitted in February of five additional charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy. Snipes’ co-defendants, Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn, were convicted on both those counts. Kahn, who refused to defend himself in court, was sentenced to 10 years, while Rosile received 54 months. Both will serve three years of supervised release. Snipes will serve one year of supervised release.

 

Snipes and Rosile remain free and will be notified when they are to surrender to authorities.

 

Star Jones files for Divorce

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Her Royal Highness, Star Jones, Empress of Phony, has filed for divorce from Al Reynolds after a three and half year sham marriage. I can’t say that I am surprised by this development. Fired from The View, cancelled by True TV, and panned by critics worldwide, the Empress of Phony’s life seems to be falling apart. But to borrow a phrase from Moms Mabley: I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. Star’s marriage and career are dead. Good.

Pennsylvania results: Hillary Wins

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NBC is reporting that this race is too close to call as the polls closed moments ago.    I told y’all that I smelled death in the air, but didn’t realize that it was imminent, just inevitable.   It’s over.  Russert and Brokaw have pronounced her dead.   The campaign is broke, the vendors ain’t been paid, and the fat lady is belting her lungs out.   Obama’s massive media buys in North Carolina and Indiana and his massive cash advantage are kicking in. The numbers will be out soon and we will know for sure.   She’ll probably still win, but not by the comfortable margin that she needs.

 

Democratic Primary Results

Real-time Race Results: Updated April 23, 2008 – 12:34 AM (all times Eastern Standard)
Precincts Reporting 98%

Candidate Votes Vote % Delegates Projected Winner
Clinton 1,233,030 55% 74 Winner
Obama 1,020,076 45% 60

The Smell of Death

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I was twenty-one by the time anyone in my immediate family died.  Death snuck up on us rather unexpectedly when it took my grandfather.  Grandpa, as we called him, slipped away in his sleep after a long bout with Huntington’s disease. My grandmother discovered his body after rising from her bed to get ready for work. She had a massive heart attack within the hour.   Mama looked up from her sickbed as the ventilator breathed for her and scribbled a note that said: God told me it is not my time.  Stop crying.  I hovered over Mama for the rest of the summer and mourned Grandpa for the rest of the year. I took to wearing his clothes and Old Spice. 

 

A few years later, I spent Easter with my college roommate’s family in South Carolina.  I loved the fresh air and open skies of his small town.   It was so damn peaceful.  I never wanted to leave.   Later that year, at the end of summer, I drove back to school from Nebraska to pick up my roommate in South Carolina.  

 

The closer I came, the more uneasy I felt. I thought of Freddie’s family and all of the people I met and was overcome with a sense of dread.  I couldn’t shake it.  Something didn’t feel right.  I kept thinking of Freddie’s grandmamma.  The smell of death was in the air and it felt like it was in the car with me. 

 

Freddie told me later that evening that his grandmamma had passed over the summer vacation. Big Mama had gathered her children and grandchildren together and told them that the Lord had told her to prepare to come home because her end was near.  She died a few weeks later. I told him that I already knew death had come because it was in the car with me on the way down and his grandmamma was so heavy on my mind.

 

Perhaps tomorrow, or maybe in May or June, Hillary Clinton will gather her loved ones and political handlers together and inform them that her campaign is dead.  It will inevitably come because the unmistakable smell of death is in the air.   When Robert Reich, David Boren, and Sam Nunn endorse a brotha over a triangulating Clinton, the jig is up.   She simply cannot win.  Tomorrow will likely be a triumph for Hillary, like terminal cancer in remission, but in the end, death is inescapable.   Don’t you smell it?