Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sean Hannity/Trayvon Martin/Barack Obama

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." - President Barack Obama (July 2012)

"Here you are, you're a liberal, probably define peace as absence of conflict.  I define peace a the ability to defend yourself and blow your enemy to smithereens." - FOX "News" host Sean Hannity (October 2009)

I was so moved by President Obama's speech to the White House press corps (and the nation) about race and the Zimmerman case.  It's hard for me to judge whether President Obama has done enough to elevate the conversation about race relations in the US since becoming president.  I am white.  I am privileged.  I was born with a lack of pigment in my skin which automatically ensures me an easy in.  SUrely people of color have a more informed opinion.  But I was proud of our president. 

First, I am proud that we have an African American president.  Proud of our country.  President Obama is not my dream president.  He has made plenty of mistakes it seems to me.  I disagree with him on MANY issues.  But, when I look back over my lifetime, the country has changed so much in the right direction.  We went from Jim Crow and segregated schools to a fairly integrated society, one in which we are moving toward racial harmony at breakneck speed (with some setbacks to be sure).  We went from a world in which it was a fantasy to have a Black man as president to that reality.

Obama's talk hit all the right buttons for me.  White people may not think about the barriers that still exist for African Americans.  He shared them with us from a personal perspective.  Our president shared what life was like for him as a young man in a world in which people are often automatically suspicious of Black men.  If that wasn't the right way to further the conversation about race in our culture, I don't know what is.  


He appealed to our innate sense of hope again, hope that we can overcome the prejudice that continues to limit our culture, hope that we could use the tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death toward some kind of positive end.  No other person in this country could have shared those sentiments nearly as convincingly as the most powerful man in the world.  No one.

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." In this, he admitted his own imperfection, perhaps smoking weed, perhaps being a troublemaker.  President Obama said that he understood what it was like to have people lock their car doors as he walked past and to be followed around in stores under the suspicion of shoplifting - because he is Black.  He spoke the truth about the Zimmerman verdict when he said that... "if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."  To say that as president of the United States - it just took my breath away.  

He asked us legitimate questions about our our beliefs and challenged us to ask ourselves - "Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy."  How can anyone logically argue with that?

Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Green Party - We all surely realize that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death was the perfect opportunity for a Black president to challenge us to do better, to create and live into a better vision of our society.  There is nothing partisan about envisioning a better country.

Then came Sean Hannity...
"Now the president's saying Trayvon could've been me 35 years ago," Hannity said on his radio show. "This is a particularly helpful comment. Is that the president admitting that I guess because what, he was part of the Choom Gang and he smoked pot and he did a little blow — I'm not sure how to interpret because we know that Trayvon had been smoking pot that night." (

When Mr. Hannity says, "I'm not sure how to interpret..." does he mean that he lives in a glass house?  That he is without fault enough that he CAN throw stones?  Does Mr. Hannity mean that because Trayvon had been smoking pot that the marijuana was responsible for his own death and not the overzealous, gun toting, neighborhood watch big shot who had profiled him and was sure that because he was wearing a hoodie and that he was Black that he was probably up to no good?  

Because he wasn't up to no good.  He didn't do anything wrong.  He was a kid walking home in the rain with a can of iced tea and some candy.  Just a kid.  Just like my sons.  Like I used to be.  Like Barack Obama used to be.  

Like Sean Hannity used to be.

I sort of understand where Mr. Hannity is coming from.  He works hard for ratings.  He will do anything to get attention.  He is paid a lot of money (he has a hundred million dollar deal with FOX "NEWS").  He MUST be a clown.  It is how he earns his large living.  But I'd like to see him make a credible statement about race relations.  I'd love for him to make a positive difference in our culture.  Wouldn't it be great if he said something helpful?    He calls himself a journalist, but he is so far from unbiased that it is ridiculous.  

But it is not just Sean Hannity.  It's FOX "News".  

A new survey of American voters shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources.

December 14, 2010 Yet another study has been released proving that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.

So the more you watch, the less you know. Or to be precise, the more you think you know that is actually false. This study corroborates a previous PIPA study that focused on the Iraq war with similar results. And there was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that demonstrated the break with reality on the part of Fox viewers with regard to health care...  [Please check the links above.]

I wish I was making this up.  Sadly, no.  But Sean Hannity?  I know he has to make a living.

But he ought to be ashamed of himself.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rally For Trayvon

I went to the rally for Trayvon with Heidi today.  It was downtown in Columbia, SC.  About 6 or 8 thousand people met at the Carolina State House.  We listened to speeches, sang "Amazing Grace" then marched to the federal courhouse where we held hands and sang "We Shall Overcome".

I won't write a great deal about it.  Let me just say that I was glad that I was wearing shades because I shed a lot of tears.  I took pictures.  Lots.  I sorted through them and will share mainly the ones with text.  T-shirts and signs.  I think they tell a lot.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Liz Cheney!?

I don't know about you, but I have heard/read the term 'do nothing' used in the same sentence as 'congress' too many times lately.  I guess the reason we feel like Congress isn't accomplishing much is, well, because it isn't.

So, how does this House stack up against past years when it comes to productivity? Not so well, according to the new Vital Statistics on Congress, which shows that the 112th Congress passed just 561 bills, the lowest number since they began keeping these stats way back in 1947. (

Although there does seem to be some hope just recently, right?  The senate passed an immigration bill last month.  President Obama is starting to be able to get in some cabinet appointment nominees as there was a deal to end the filibustering.  Our senior senator from SC, Lindsey Graham, suggested a bi-partisan group was going to try to end the sequester.  Progress right?  Small steps in the right direction, right?  

Liz Cheney want to put an end to all of that silly compromise.  She's running for senate in Wyoming and her stated goal is "In my view, obstructing President Obama's policies and his agenda isn't actually obstruction; it's patriotism."  (

In other words, she proudly wants to do more nothing... in the name of patriotism.  Seriously, "Vote for me and I'll do more nothing," may as well be her campaign slogan.  Her opponent (a very conservative Republican named Mike Enzi) is known to work behind the scenes with Democrats to get necessary and important work done.  Liz Cheney would stop all of that.  "Instead of cutting deals with the president's allies in Congress, we can be opposing them every step of the way." (  What scares me is that Ms. Cheney thinks that she can win that way.  She thinks enough Americans are so partisan that they would be willing to not accomplish anything through compromise to send some kind of convoluted message that not working together at all is better for the country, that not accomplishing anything through agreement is a sign of weakness, a copout,  despite the ill effects to our nation.  

As of a few hours ago Enzi is ahead of Cheney in the polls by 34 points.  (  Apparently some people still think that it's still patriotic to work together to get things done for our country.  I'm thankful for that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Art of Rising

Do yourself a favor and listen to this song.  The artist is Nic Evennett from Kent, England.  I don't know if I saw her blog first or she saw mine, but we have exchanged post comments for about a year now.  She is crazy talented.  She gave me her permission to share her tunes.  She has lots more on soundcloud.  This one is instrumental, but she has a marvelous voice and brilliant lyrics too.

This is the first sunset I have seen in a month because of all the rain.  Somehow it goes with the song to me.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zombie Voters

Rick Perry is a piece of work.  And, frankly, so was the recent US Supreme Court changes to the Voting Rights Act.  Under the Act, certain jurisdictions had to get permission from the federal government before they could change their rules for voting.  This was because those places had a proven history of voter disenfranchisement.  Yes, there was a good reason for the Act.  Governor Perry argued that it was unfair, that times had changed.  That there was no longer any need to place this unfair burden on Texas.

Rick Perry

The effects of these changes in the Voting Rights Act were predictable and immediately played out the way we knew they would.  Not a moment passed before Texas (and other states) enacted measures to prevent freedom to vote.

Texas will "immediately" enact a voter ID law that a panel of federal judges ruled last year would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor," a top state official said… ( 

Photo identification requirements restrict segments of our population from voting.  It is as simple and scary as that.  These same politicians who constantly claim that the Federal Government is interfering in the lives of citizens are all about a requirement that will necessarily prevent some from voting.  And, there is not even an attempt to veil the reason.  Requiring photo identification makes it more difficult for the young, the elderly and the poor to vote.  Changing the voter identification requirements reduces voter turnout for Hispanics, African Americans and poorer Americans.  It isn’t a coincidence that these people tend to vote Democratic. 

We have heard over and over that voter fraud is the reason to have photo ID requirements. And over and over these claims have been proven false.  But this is one of those cases where if lies are repeated long enough and loudly enough, some people reason that they must be true.  

It is Simply…  Not… True.

Study after study makes clear that voter fraud is extremely rare, and impersonation fraud—the kind of fraud used to justify tighter voter ID requirements and other voting restrictions—is even rarer. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit impersonation fraud, according to our exhaustive research. This makes sense, because impersonation fraud is a singularly stupid crime. You can't affect an election unless you do it thousands of times, there are lots of ways to get caught, and the punishment is severe. (

For five years the Bush Justice Department pushed hard for election prosecutions across the U.S., and came up with no impersonation fraud conspiracies. Same with Texas. And at the recent Pennsylvania trial over its new voter id law, the state conceded it knew of no cases of impersonation voter fraud. (  

No cases.  Sorry Texas.  

Recently, right here in SC, our Governor, Nikki Haley, made headlines when she announced that nearly 1,000 “dead people” had cast ballots in our state.  Naturally, South Carolinians were outraged.  Studies were commissioned, Our Attorney General Alan Wilson (son of Congressman Joe “YOU LIE!” Wilson) announced on national TV that, “We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.”  (  

We know this?  For a fact?  Hmm.

Turns out there were no dead voters. Nope.  None. …[W]hen election authorities conducted a painstaking study of 207 of those allegations, they discovered nothing more than clerical errors, bad data matching, and stray marks on scanners. They found not one instance of an actual dead person voting.  (  

Not one instance.

So it turns out, there are no zombie voters here in SC.  While there was sure a lot of chest thumping and grandstanding, lots of face time on TV and lots of, “We’ll get to the bottom of this,” don’t hold your breath for the same politicians to apologize for the fear mongering and fake claims of voter fraud.  I sincerely doubt that SC Rep. Alan Clemmons who is a vocal supporter of our new voter ID laws, who declared that “we must have certainty in South Carolina that zombies aren’t voting,” will recant his bizarre claim and change his tune about voter ID.  

Because it wasn’t about voter fraud in the first place.  

You know what the real voter fraud is in our country?  It is passing baseless laws designed to disenfranchise citizens.  We should all be outraged by that.