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Commentary

Nobel Prize for Obama Deserved? Yes!

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By Ron Walters, NNPA Columnist –

When the world woke up on Friday October 10 it was surprised that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Prize.  But surprise should not have been a cause for derision. Instead, it should have been a cause for national pride, but right away, many in the media raised questions about whether it was deserved since he had been in office so few months that he had accomplished nothing and Republicans like Michael Steele dismissed it as “meaningless.”

I agree with those who believe that the Nobel Committee’s action was “aspirational” in the sense that it wanted Obama to continue the course that he had set.  But I also think they had concluded that in setting a different and positive course for America that he also exercised the kind of outstanding leadership for the global system that merited the award.  He had, in fact, turned the corner on the approach of George Bush to the international system by announcing to the world in Berlin that the United States would renew its collaboration with nations to resolve important problems, rather than rattle our sabers and go it alone. He followed up by adopting a common approach in dealing with Iran’s nuclear capability.

The surprising result is that Iran has agreed to six-party talks in Geneva and given Russia the right to enrich its uranium.  Obama’s message to the Islamic world was that America sees them as friends and allies rather than enemies and that it would join them in any venture for peace of they would open their hand in friendship rather than the hand of jihad.  Then he followed it up by adopting a negotiating framework with Iran to address its nuclear capability and re-starting the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians that was dropped by Bush until the last minutes of his time in office.  Obama, announced in Prague that the United States policy would work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons in April of this year and followed up in September by proposing a resolution that was adopted by the UN Security Council and by beginning negotiations with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles.  He also eliminated the defensive nuclear shield in Eastern Europe which won him instant credibility with the Russians and their assistance in dealing with Iran’s nuclear capability. Obama, far different from the Bush administration, took the position that climate change was an urgent priority and that it could not be resolved by the U. S. alone.

So he followed up by reaching out to China and other countries that have recently industrialized and folded this priority into his own domestic policy to create a green revolution and manage energy differently. In his own country, Obama has continued to manage the actions begun by the Bush administration that have resulted in moving the American financial system back from the brink of disaster and toward solvency again. His actions have not affected a total recovery, but Obama should be given enormous credit for trying to stabilize the banking system, affecting a Stimulus Package to prop up areas of the economy and start job creation, stabilize the auto industry and obtain universal health care coverage, pull out of Iraq, reject torture and etc. Instead, here his actions have received persistent criticism at every turn.

So, in nine months he has not only given some great speeches, but done some good things to back them up.  Fundamentally what we are witnessing is the difference of opinion between American elites and Europeans who harbor a profound dislike for the fact that George Bush ruthlessly violated the common standards of democracy shared by his allies and aspired to by other states in the global system.

For many Americans this is a sign that there is some serious hang-over from the Bush years. I keep reminding my readers not to forget that 57 percent of Whites voted for John McCain which means that an awful lot of them were wedded to Bush politics and now feel some resentment that the international community has repudiated them so soundly by rewarding Barack Obama for changing course.

For the many Blacks who support Obama, but also appeared surprised about Obama’s Nobel Prize, not to understand the basis of the Nobel Committee’s decision is a sign that they may have been so mired in the crises that face America they have not paid much attention to the genuinely pro-American attitudes that Barack Obama has re-kindled in Europe and around the world.

So, why not join the Nobel Committee in saying “well done” so far, even as we push the President to do better? 

Dr. Ron Walters is Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park.  His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press).

Qualities that shouldn’t be overlooked in the Pursue of Love: Part 2 of 2

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Richard O. Jones
Last week, I explain my reasoning the intelligent level of a prospective mate is important.

This week I will discuss the other two high quality attributes a good relationship needs.

Character is another often-overlooked trait. Good looks triumphs good character every time by the fool-hearted. Furthermore naive people believe that avid churchgoers are the epitome of good character.

The evidence of good character is what you do when people are not watching. People in present or past adulterous relationship are  without good character even if it was several years ago. Good or poor character is intrinsic to your being although you might have control over past carnal temptation, as an alcoholic is an alcoholic even if he or she has been sober for years. The same is true for lying, untrustworthiness, and stealing and other character betrayals.

Nobody is perfect, that is why the Bible says we all fall short to the glory of God. But that doesn’t mean you except people with active flaws or shun someone because of their past. Good character is a trait that is never compromised.  Values and Family Values should be highly important to you and your would-be intimate counterpart.

Make sure that you and your future mate have similar social compasses. Some people would put the concern or interest of the children or grandchildren behind that of a romantic interest.  This is another example of having substandard values. A biological child or grandchild is always your family; however a divorce can legally disconnect you from a husband or wife and the mere slam of the telephone can end a non-marital relationship. Most people have experienced lovers that have come and gone but the loyalty of their family is still reliable.

Furthermore, I feel it is unwise to cater to the insecurity or jealousy of anyone that tries to come between a person and their blood-related family provided the family member is not manipulating them.

Lover seekers should also observe that if one person would not sacrifice a dollar to feed the homeless but spend their last dollar on a video game their values are not compatible with a humanitarian.  Beauty fades but values are forever.

Open Letter to the Editor

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There has been a series of e-mails attacking State Attorney General Jerry Brown’s appearance as guest of honor at a local fund-raiser on Thursday for SB District Attorney Mike Ramos. Other prominent County Democrats also attended, including Josie Gonzales and James Ramos.

Jerry Brown is quoted in today’s San Bernardino Sun as saying that “Mike Ramos is one of the best prosecutors in California. He is a real fighter.” It is not unusual for individuals in law enforcement to support each other across party lines in such a fashion.

A careful examination of the State Party Bylaws makes it clear that Mr.  Brown violated no state party rules. The office of the District Attorney is a nonpartisan office. The San Bernardino Co.

DCC has made no endorsement of a Democrat for this office. If we do so, our endorsement would then become the CDP’s endorsement. However, to my knowledge, no Democrat has announced that he or she is running for San Bernardino County DA, and in any event, we do not endorse candidates before the filing period ends. The filing period has not even opened – DA candidates will file next year for a November 2010 election.  A lot can happen between now and then.  On Friday, I received a phone call from Attorney General Jerry Brown. He wanted to know why the San Bernardino County Democratic Party wanted to take away his free speech rights. I explained to that the SBCDCC has no such intent, and that only one person, Sam Clauder, acting as an individual, had made a complaint to the California Democratic Party about Jerry Brown’s participation in the Mike Ramos fundraiser. The SBCDCC does not seek to curb Sam Clauder’s free speech rights, any more than we seek to curb Jerry Brown’s free speech rights.  Sam Clauder is a member of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee, but he is not authorized to be a spokesperson for the SBCDCC.  We have enough to attend to, without letting this controversy divert us from our mission of registering more Democrats, and electing more Democrats to public office. We have six endorsed candidates on the November ballot for local, nonpartisan offices. Our time and energy should be spent supporting Irene Hernandez Blair, Lina Montes, Marcus Houston, Dennis Baxter, Virginia Marquez, and David Raley.

We must also keep in mind the imperative of electing a Democratic Governor in 2010. At this point, none of us knows who the Democratic nominee will be. We need to keep our eyes on the prize, register more Democrats, elect our endorsed candidates, and put a Democrat in the Governor’s office next year.

In his most recent e-mail on October 3, claiming that Jerry Brown’s action is “treason to Democrats everywhere,” Sam Clauder quotes himself as saying “Politics is war. War is hell. The only rule is: There are no rules. Except the ones you to choose to play by. These rules can, and will be suspended, without further notice.” Such sentiments sound like the philosophy of the prior national Republican administration.

They are certainly not the philosophy of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party today.

Carol Robb

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Dear Editor,

I want to endorse Pat Morris for Mayor. First you should know as president of the board of the Home and Neighborly Service, I used to sign Jim Penman’s excuses when he was in law school. He was there so he’d have a place to stay. He was a scout master but he was straight out of Mississippi. He always knew where he wanted to go and would step on anyone to get there. I remember when he saw (former city attorney) Ralph Prince’s job and went after it. Penman is not Mayor material. I have known Pat Morris for years, I used to go sit in his courtroom so he couldn’t see me, to watch him was wonderful. He was tough as nails; treated people so they would understand the seriousness of their situation.  They would become different people when he finished with them. Morris is a thinker not a schemer and I pick Morris over anyone else.

Charlie Seymour

The Cost and Casualties of Silence: HIV/AIDS in Black America

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Tony Wafford
There is a terrible and terrifying creature stalking the Black community day and night. People regularly hear reports and sometimes see the horrible and constant toll that it’s taking on our lives, but there seems to be an unannounced agreement not to talk about it openly and honestly.  Perhaps, there is a desperate hope that if we don’t mention its name and recognize its presence, it will go away as quickly and quietly as it came.

At first, we saw it as a problem for people outside our community because the majority of the visible victims were white. But now, the victims are rapidly changing color and 66 percent of all newly diagnosed and dying victims are from the Black and Brown communities.  We also have seen the victims as mainly questionable and unworthy males even though they are often husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and boyfriends, played the piano and preached at our churches and sang love songs at our concerts. Now we see new victims, Black women who are 65 percent of all new casualties from this terrifying and terrible creature among women of color. Even our children are not exempt, they have now become 75 percent of all its fatal victims.

Finally, we heard that it was a jail and prison phenomenon, isolated and too far away to affect us. But it came home with husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends and sons and is now wreaking havoc on our women, children, families and community.  This terrible and terrifying creature is called HIV/AIDS and it has come to our community and is consuming our life energy and undermining our future. It is now the number one killer of our people between the ages of 22-45. Although we are only 12 percent of the U.S. population, we are 50 percent of the casualties of this terrible and terrifying creature in its non-fatal form.

As the casualties mount day after day through disease and death, it is urgent and unavoidable that we as a community come together, set aside our fears, phobias, misconceptions and costly silence and actively confront this horrible threat to our lives and future as a people. To save and protect the lives of our children and people as a whole, there are several things we must do.

·         First, we must embrace the victims for who they are-above all, members of our community and families, our friends and fellow human beings, deserving the respect we all are due as bearers of dignity and divinity.

·         Second, we must practice an ethics of care and responsibility for the ill and vulnerable among us. This is central to our spiritual and ethical tradition as a people.  There was never a time needed to do this more than now in this devastating crisis.

·         Third, we must urge our leaders, organizations and especially our religious institutions to take up this issue in a serious and sustained manner, holding forums, speaking out, organizing and mobilizing the community to care for the ill, protect the well, and bury the dead with deserved dignity and remembrance, instead of with embarrassed silence and dishonest denial of the reason for their dying.

·         Fourth, we must each of us begin and help to build a national conversation about this most deadly disease-its causes, consequences, possible cures and means of prevention.

This will include an honest discussion of the varied sexual practices people engage in secretly and openly.

·         Fifth, we must urge testing as a key strategy for detection and prevention of its spreading. Testing is especially important for men in jail and prison who may have engaged in high risk activity and who will be reintegrating back into their families and the community.

·         Six, Also, we must organize to struggle for more resources to deal with this horrible crisis. As the color of the victims went from White to Black and Brown, so the resources began to dwindle and dry up.

·         Seventh and finally, we must realize and act on the knowledge that we are our own resources and rescuers. Indeed, it is our efforts, which are decisive in any struggle we wage. “For a people that cannot save it self is lost forever.” This is a fundamental point in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. We must repair our own selves, raise ourselves from the ruins of disease and oppression, hold ourselves and others responsible and together build the community and world we all want and deserve to live in.  Whatever else it may be, our community must be a good and loving community that embraces and cares for its own, especially the most vulnerable among us - the ill and aged, the children, the disabled and the poor.

Tony Wafford is the National Action Network Project Director of the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative.

It's Time to Be Brutally Honest About the Acorn Debacle

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Rev. Al Sharpton
It was the 1960s, and after decades following the abolishment of slavery, African-Americans were still vying for simple fundamental human rights, including the most basic form of involvement in society – voting.

Routinely disenfranchised from the process via underhanded tactics such as literacy tests, and more blatant intimidation methods like outright murder and violence, the Black community found itself intricately excluded from actively participating in any discourse that may have altered their lives for the better.  Following the murder of voting-rights activists in places like Mississippi and Alabama, the President and Congress finally passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that aimed to ensure equality in our election process.

Though we may not be physically attacked at voting stations or forced to pay fees at the ballot box, people of color are once again being excluded from the process in much more underhanded and disturbing ways. And the campaign to end ACORN is the clearest, prime example before our eyes.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known by its acronym ACORN, was established in 1970 and through the years has worked diligently to register individuals from disenfranchised neighborhoods, help construct schools, find affordable housing for the poor and more.  It is in fact the largest membership organization of low and medium income people, and it has itself employed more than 13,000 registration assistance workers throughout the country. Its housing corporation has assisted over 50,000 families facing foreclosure, and its tax and benefit centers have helped over 150,000 low-income families receive over $190 million in Earned Income Tax Credits and other refunds. But perhaps most impressive under ACORN’s extensive accolades has been its ability to register some 1.3 million to vote - and hence help give a voice to those who have been silenced for much too long.

For the past few weeks, the media has been fixated on a video that depicts ACORN workers allegedly giving advice to a man and a woman posing as a pimp and prostitute. While the authenticity of this tape is still being investigated, let’s not underscore the fact that the man behind the footage, James O’Keefe, is a longtime right-wing agitator and instigator who has a lengthy history of targeting reform institutions. Let’s not forget that FOX News, upset over its dwindling viewership and simultaneous dwindling advertising dollars, has made it a point to attack anything that may have helped the first Black President win office.

And let’s not dismiss the persistent and consistent efforts of conservatives to take down ACORN throughout the years, with trumped up voter fraud charges and more.  Even if we were to pretend that the footage of this tape has been authenticated, it still does not justify a cease of Federal funds to this vital organization.  In no way am I condoning the behavior of these ACORN employees if they were in fact violating legal and ethical rules. But a few bad employees cannot account for the elimination of an entire institution that is so integral in our most underserved communities. Without grants from the Housing and Urban Development Department, ACORN would not be able to provide counseling on housing, education and outreach.

And without governmental funds, it could no longer work with partners like Health Care for America Now to win the campaign on health reform.

It’s time to be brutally honest about the ACORN debacle. It’s about politics; it’s about the 2010 mid-term election; it’s about power and maintenance of the status quo; it’s about the right to vote; and it’s about the continued oppression of an already suppressed group. I haven’t forgotten about the attempts to juxtapose President Obama with ACORN during the campaign. I don’t ignore the fact that ACORN has consistently been depicted as a Black institution, when in fact it is not. And I shudder to think what would happen if we continue down this dangerous course of eliminating any individual or group that fights for the empowerment of the weak.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was established to level the playing field and remind everyone of our constitutional guarantees. Let us not regress now.

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