Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Romney and Libya: Why Masters of the Universe Shouldn’t be Stewards of the Nation

September 13, 2012 1 comment

Gov. Romney exits the podium in Jacksonville, FL, smirking after discussing the tragic deaths of four diplomatic workers in Libya.

It was one of the most effective ads of the 2008 election cycle. The 3AM phone call… Who would you want to have answer the call about an unnamed international crisis occurring in some far-flung corner of the globe? Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain tried to make the case that Barack Obama wasn’t ready to answer the call.

In 2012, with the body of Osama bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean, and several of his confederates only identifiable by tiny pieces of their DNA, if sheer terrorist body count alone is the marker, then Barack Obama has done a remarkable job. The President must do more than wage war; he must also fight for peace through diplomacy. There again the President is doing his best in a complicated and dangerous world.

It is why folks like Chris Stevens and three consulate staffers who lost their lives were so invaluable to the United States, Libya and the world.

I understand, and I hope all of you do as well, that the responsibility of the President is extremely complex. As President, you are the steward of the nation. Like a shepherd, you must guide and encourage, but you are ultimately responsible for the well-being of the group, so you won’t sacrifice any of them of the sake of profit of your own vanity.

Yes, the President is the steward of the nation.

After September 11, 2001, we recognize the importance of having a wise, decisive steward of the nation who would act when told there is an imminent threat on American soil. But rehashing that aspect of American history is best left for another day. Today is about September 11, 2012, and the rash behavior of one man who wants to be President of the United States.

On September 11, 2012, as we remembered the fallen, and later as events unfolded in Libya and Egypt, another man displayed why he does have the temperament to continue to serve as the steward of our nation.

You see, Mitt Romney has been trying to hold up his experience as a “Master of the Universe” as the key reason he should be President. But a Master of the Universe doesn’t care about the well-being of everyone, he only cares about himself – the opposite of stewardship. He assesses every opportunity to determine whether he can advance his own agenda…to score points and appear larger to the markets, the press, the stockholders – and to his own ego.. The truth and consequences are usually the first victims in the vainglorious campaign of a Master of the Universe.

If I was a “Master of the Universe,” I would demand that Mitt Romney turn in his membership card, keys to the clubhouse, and banish him forever.  Romney is making high-powered business executives seems feckless, opportunistic, soulless, mean, dishonest, and shifty, which isn’t easy. We thought that kind of behavior of dominated by career politicians like Paul Ryan.

These men and women – Masters of the Universe – like to give off the appearance of talking first and thinking second, but they are very deliberate when it comes to money and the management of risk. It is with the human cost that things tends to fall apart. We saw it with Romney’s handling of the tragic events in Libya. He couldn’t keep politics out of it, even for a moment. Mr. Romney didn’t express respect for a career diplomat or concern for his family as a starting sentiment. No, instead, Mr. Romney tried to convince America that he understood foreign policy by displaying a lack of understanding of human interaction. Craven and opportunistic are words that keep coming to mind to describe Mr. Romney as a politician, especially after today.

The video that sparked all of this trouble is stupid and worthless. What all of the folks, and Harvard Law School graduate Mitt Romney, should remember is that the First Amendment doesn’t provide for unrestricted free speech rights. Hate speech isn’t protected, nor is the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Religious freedom is in the First Amendment, along with Freedom of Speech. So when some jerk makes a dumb, low-rent video that infringes on another group’s religious freedom, Romney displays he forgot the Bill of Rights, and that he isn’t ready to be the steward of the nation when he goes on and lies about the nonsense that the Obama Administration “apologized.”

The situation in Libya and Egypt is delicate and volatile . On September 11, Romney prematurely released a statement WITHOUT THE FACTS. If you are a Master of the Universe, that is perfectly fine. If you are the steward of the nation, lives can be lost because of your bad judgment and impetuousness. Whatever points Mr. Romney thought he would gain were lost because we all saw him for what he was and has been for some time, a Master of the Universe who was out of his depths.

It is disgusting to try to jump into a foreign affairs crisis for political gain. It is inexcusable to try to spin the loss of life from this crisis, which Romney doesn’t seem to understand, for political gain.

Mitt Romney has displayed how he would take the country back to the failed policies of the Bush Administration in foreign policy, but worse…The Romney Doctrine of foreign policy would be the Bush Doctrine on Meth. At least George W. Bush had an experienced father who could counsel caution and moderation on the world stage.

After over a decade of war, it is time for America to move away from guns and towards butter. Romney is an uninformed Master of the Universe who should go back to the realm where his attitude and approach can win the day – Wall Street and private equity. I would rather let Romney play in that murky pool where, although his haphazard ways have consequences, he wouldn’t get Americans killed.

Masters of the Universe operate from hubris and self-interest. A steward of the nation operates with determination and concern for the collective. We need a man who will worry about the collective.  Today Mr. Romney showed us that he isn’t that man. Let Romney have his universe. Give President Obama the nation.

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved


Penn State: Shame and Anger in Happy Valley

I went to college at the University of Pennsylvania. I bought a t-shirt that actually said “Not Penn State.” After the events of the past several months, I think folks who attend Penn State wish they could say “Not Penn State” when asked about the turmoil swirling around the football team. The fans of the football team are reeling today after a series of blows delivered by the University, the Big Ten, and the NCAA.

The child sex abuse scandal of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky continues to cast a long, dark, soul-sucking shadow over State College, Pennsylvania, which, in a sad bit of irony, is nicknamed “Happy Valley.” The actions of a few men continue to have far-reaching, significant consequences for thousands of Penn State students, alumni, fans, and the surrounding community.

Yesterday, the life-sized statue of the late Joe Paterno was removed from its place in front of Beaver Stadium. Woosh! A solid blow to the solar plexus of Penn State fans who worshiped Paterno, or JoePa as he was known to the Penn State faithful. But today, the NCAA delivered a flurry of combination punches that sent the Penn State football fans crashing to the canvas. JoePa’s 111 wins from 1998 to 2011 would be vacated, and with it, his place is the record books. Rather than impose the “death penalty,” which is removing a team from the regular season and any bowl eligibility, the NCAA decided to starve the beast.

The NCAA’s sanctions on Penn State will surely cripple this team going forward and make it very difficult for football to become the life’s blood at that institution again. After the personal assault on Joe Paterno’s legacy, they went after the program itself. First, the NCAA hit Penn State with $60 million in fines, which is about what the school made on football in a season. So don’t be too upset about that. Then the NCAA banned Penn State from the postseason for four years, which hits a football program in the pride and the pocketbook – completely appropriate and a small price to pay. The NCAA will cap scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years. I find this sanction unfortunate because Penn State had an impressive graduation rate, so the folks hurt by this are the student-athletes, and at Penn State, that term wasn’t an ironic joke as it as at most other Division I-A football programs. The school also will be on probation for five years. The Big Ten Conference will withhold Penn State’s share of bowl revenues, approxiately $13 million over four years. The funds will be donated to children’s charities.  The Big Ten, the conference in which Penn State plays football, like the NCAA, arrived  at the outrage party LATE, but better late than never, I suppose…

In short, the school is out from under the discipline of the NCAA in five years. It may take longer to rebuild, but so what? There are young men out there whose lives are irreparably damaged because the religion of football at Penn State became more important that the welfare of the most helpless among us – children. So if a large, prosperous university has to take a hit, do I feel badly about that? Not so much. I am concerned about the businesses that depend on Penn State football. In the same way that the NCAA wasn’t asking the right questions when this was happening, they aren’t asking the right questions about the community surrounding Penn State University.

There was an effort to bow before the god of football at Penn State. Men who had power and had the ability to intervene, did nothing. Edmund Burke was so right…The only thing necessary for the triumph to evil is for good men to do nothing. What happened at Penn State was so much worse. These men, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and yes, Joe Paterno all allegedly worked in concert to conceal, and thereby encourage, the acts of a voracious, now convicted, pedophile. The Freeh Report commissioned by Penn State is damning and presents some inescapable conclusions about fanatical worship of the god of football, above all else, including education and safety, at Penn State.

The statue of JoePa is gone, as are his record, his wins, and much of his reputation. To the Paterno family, I say, as awful it must be to hear the reputation of your loved one savaged and attacked, rest easy with the knowledge that no one ever raped or sodomized him. There are countless boys who can’t say that, and Joe Paterno’s silence played a part in allowing that to continue. His good deeds are still there. But this stain is now there as well. Have some compassion for the survivors as you fight to protect the legacy of Joe Paterno. He should have fought as hard to protect those boys.

The football program at Penn State, deprived of water, food and sunlight for 5 years… most things would die. Let’s see if this football program has the will to live and be a remarkable come-back story.

The weasels who allegedly engaged in a cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s criminal behavior on Penn State property, let’s see how they fare in criminal and civil court.

The fans, the Penn State faithful who paint their faces and cheer their voices away every Saturday during the football season, for you, I have a special message. I understand your disappointment about the team. Some of you believe you are being punished for something that had nothing to do with you. Maybe. But the system is broken. The only way to fix it is to intervene now. Think about the young men who were hurt. What if that was you, your brother, son, boyfriend, husband? Wouldn’t you want some form of justice, even if was justice delayed? Justice delayed is better than justice denied. Cheer for justice. Justice can be as kick-ass as football, better if you ask me. Cheer for the survivors, because what they lived through is worse than anything we can imagine. Don’t be angry about the loss of anything to do with football in the face of shame and confusion the survivors have to contend with.

Jerry Sandusky is in jail, Satan preserve Sandusky’s soul for his pleasure and entertainment. There are more survivors of Sandusky out there. I hope that the young men who were abused by this very sick man will all get the help and support they need. I hope the fact that Penn State has been dealt with harshly will bring some peace to these men who have been living with the shame and anger of what happened to them in Happy Valley.

If there is shame to be had, it is not by the Sandusky survivors – it is those who left a predator roam the athletic facilities at Penn State who should feel shame. But there is plenty of anger to go around. Now that justice is being served, hot and fresh, State College has a chance of reviving joy for everyone in Happy Valley.

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner: Big Gavel, But Impotent

July 13, 2012

Dear Speaker Boehner,

You will be in session for 25 more working days before Election Day. Then hopefully, you will officially become lame as  the OUTGOING Speaker in the Lame Duck Session. For those paying attention, you have been lame all along.

When you became Speaker of House, you made great show of taking possession of the gigantic gavel. You know what they say about men who have big tools and don’t know how to use them. What a waste! Yes, Mr. Speaker. Your time as Speaker of the House has been a great big, orange, weepy, ineffective waste. The tragedy of it is two-fold: you follow one of the most effective Speakers in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and your ineptitude comes at a time when the Congress and the country needed a statesperson with political acumen to hold the Speaker’s gavel.

The 112th Congress could be called the Looney Tunes Congress. There are some folks in the House of Representatives who are so comical that they are better placed in a cartoon than in Congress. Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Michelle Bachmann, to name a few, all deserve their own special clown car. Allen West makes ridiculous statements that are throw-backs to a drunken, discredited, red-baiting Congressman who brought a shameful time to America. Yet there are some who take this person seriously. Allen West is one of the best “race hustlers” around, invoking provocative images of slavery to suit his own political agenda. He needs to get off the “plantation” of crazy where he is currently enslaved, and find the freedom of sanity and reality.

Joe Walsh is a dead-beat dad who thinks nothing of denigrating and disrespecting a decorated war hero, who also happens to be a double amputee, to suit his own craven political agenda. By the way, what are Joe Walsh’s legislative achievements while in Congress? What has he done for the people of his district? I doubt it’s very much.

Michelle Bachmann… Where to start or end with her? Her biggest legislative achievement was to guarantee your unthreatened ability to buy incandescent light bulbs. I know that the most important item on your political agenda over the economy, education, the environment and other trivial things is light bulbs. But the rest of America was worrying about other things. You are blessed if the future of light bulbs was keeping you up at night. Her latest stunt was to call the Affordable Care Act the “largest Middle Class tax increase in American History.” Wow, lie much?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, you with your big gavel couldn’t herd these crazy cats into acting in the best interests of America. We have seen it time after time.

But you, Mr. Speaker, have been like Wile E. Coyote to President Obama’s Road Runner. You have allowed the TEA Party extremists to fill your head with legislatively wasteful and politically destructive plots ordered straight from ACME political tricks and schemes. Rather than helping you catch the President, all you have gained for your troubles is the political equivalent of an anvil falling on your head – dismally low approval ratings for Congress, 17.8% according to Real Clear Politics Average of Congressional Job Approval polls through June 18, 2012.

As the TEA Party dropped an anvil on your head, Wile E., I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was also dropping boulders and anvils on groups who expected their elected representatives to look out for their interests. We expected you to bang your gavel to lead, not bang the gavel on our heads. It was the American people who suffered most. As you collected your annual salary of $223, 500, with benefits and pension, American citizens waited for the jobs that would give us salaries, benefits and pensions. Instead, you postured and played politics with our lives. As you took your salary and did nothing for the American people, the gavel laid impotently in your hand.

Instead of efficiently reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), and expanding the Act so it reaches all victims of violence, the VAWA sits in limbo, a victim of the violence of the political act forced on it, in the same way that all women and members of the LGBT community who have violence forced upon them will be left without adequate recourse if this act isn’t reauthorized. But at the same time, this same Congress was all too happy to push this government to the brink of a government shutdown over an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

It bears repeating that it is a sad fact that Planned Parenthood is the bogeywoman for abortion, but abortion represents 3% of the services of the services they provide. The rest of the services they provide are for the HEALTH of a woman, e.g., routine screenings such as pap smears and mammograms. By the way, Mr. Speaker, abortions in the first trimester are a legal medical procedure and a matter of CHOICE for the mother and her family. None of that mattered. You were willing to allow your big gavel to lay impotently in your hand as the country careened toward a shut-down. Women suffered during your term as Speaker. We will remember. We will deal with you harshly on Election Day.

The gavel was placed in your hands because the GOP promised to be the party of jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Yes, we got a job alright, a con job. Do a Google search for “GOP jobs bill in 112th Congress.” I did. The results are extremely spare, especially for the party that claimed that they were going to be job creators. What happened? You lied to us. This GOP ascension had nothing to do with jobs, and everything to do with power for the sake of power. You wouldn’t even vote on the Jobs plan that the President sent to Congress, not once. No, the goal was never jobs, it was always power.  All I can say is “well played.”  Because that is what you did, you played the American people. Crafty…

But the gavel still lays impotently in your hand. A gavel that you should wield with power, authority and finesse; instead, you are run around by the freshman members of your caucus. How embarrassing. That was especially apparent when you allowed the little boys and girls in the TEA Party Caucus to publicly throw their un-statesmanlike tantrums as the country had an unnecessarily prolonged negotiation about the debt ceiling last summer. The debt ceiling had been raised almost 80 times since 1960, mostly under Republican presidents, as you well know. Yet, you procrastinated like a teenager with a term paper on the debt ceiling issue, which meant that you manufactured a crisis that resulted in the first downgrade of the US credit rating in America history. Not an effective use of your power, if you ask me. Impotence that doesn’t just reflect on you, it affects the rest of us.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are 25 days when Congress will be in session before Election Day. You just wasted one of those days on another useless vote to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act. And yet again, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner stuck his tongue out at you, said, “Beep, Beep!” and sped away…for the 33rd time.

But the big gavel lies impotently in your hand. And America watches and waits because there are problems that still should be solved in the 25 working days, the time before your impotence becomes lame impotence in the Lame Duck Session. The debt ceiling looms on the horizon – AGAIN. In your limited wisdom, the fix put on unemployment and the payroll tax holiday was temporary, so they are expiring. Happily, the Bush Tax Cuts are expiring, but the President and most of America wants you to extend them for those with annual incomes under $250,000. And yes, VAWA is still sitting out there waiting for reconciliation in conference. Adopt the Senate version, and let’s get on with it.

In New York, we say someone is all sizzle and no steak. In Texas, they say someone is all hat and no cattle. You, Mr. Speaker, were all gavel and no power, statesmanship, or gravitas. Impotent. It’s sad, because America deserved better. We needed better. And I think you may have wanted to be bigger than the gavel. It’s sad that the gavel ended up being bigger than you.

Sincerely yours,

Pundit On Point

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

VAGINA CORP: A Rise to Power

Women! We have been going about this all wrong! We have been asking lawmakers to respect our privacy and our right to choose our reproductive fate. We have made it clear that our reproductive health, in the form of annual screenings like mammograms and pelvic exams with pap smears, are extremely important to us. In case there was any doubt about what we meant about “reproductive health,” we told them we were talking about our vaginas. You would think we were talking about Voldermort, because evidently, the vagina is the body part that must not be named.

But the men in state legislatures who were bold enough to create legislation that was obsessed with vaginas were never mature enough or man enough to say the word without devolving to locker room humor and innuendo. But when cloaked in euphemism, like “lady parts,” law makers in Virginia are willing to insert themselves into women’s vaginas by way of an unnecessary medical procedure, which is now required before the legal termination of a pregnancy.

Michigan is even more squeamishly hypocritical. During a recent floor debate on proposed legislation where Michigan legislators where trying to force their way into the vaginas of Michigan women by banning abortion after 20 weeks unless a woman’s life is in danger, State Rep. Lisa Brown bucked the polite, yet stupid, political lexicon

State Rep. Brown’s reward for stating the obvious and speaking the outrage that millions of women have been feeling since these laws began springing up across the country… State Representative Lisa Brown of Michigan, a duly elected public official, was “gaveled down” as out of order for failing to recognize the “decorum” of the House of Representatives of Michigan. Her punishment? The men of the House of Representatives of Michigan silenced her, censored her for the debate of a bill on school employees’ retirement, which is a hot button issue in every state.

In a political climate where a member of the US Congress yells “You Lie” at the President of the United States during the State of the Union address, or 14 members of the GOP allegedly plot the downfall of the 44th president as he dances at his Inaugural Ball, or a minority of the majority party are willing to hold the entire government and economy hostage… I have a hard time with anyone trying to offer lectures about decorum for the use of the anatomically correct term for the body part in question.

Women, here is how we change the game. We incorporate our vaginas! As “lady-parts,” they are powerless. As Vagina Corp., they can rule the world. America is less of a republic or democracy, and more of a corporatocracy. We can thank Mittens Romney for the idea. After all, it was Mittens who told us, “Corporations are people, my friend.” As corporations, Vaginas would be able to enter into contracts, own property, incorporate other corporations and limited liability companies, sue, be sued… Vaginas could be like Mitt Romney but with more compassion and empathy.

Vaginas are already the birthplace of all human power in a purely factual sense. What I am proposing is a way to ensure that vaginas keep a measure of power and control, and not become victims of men who forget where they literally came from.

I am still trying to figure out if Vagina Corp. should be seemingly innocent corporate citizen, or if it would be an activist corporation like those who were members of ALEC or the Financial Services Roundtable. If Vagina Corp. is going to rise to power, it would have to interact with power, just like the Bank of America, WalMart or Halliburton does.

Vagina Corp. would have First Amendment rights. So there wouldn’t be any whispers about vagina anymore, because Vagina Corp. would be a force to be reckoned with. The key First Amendment right to be exercised would be the right to political speech, of course. One of the first items of the Vagina Corp. agenda would be the formation of a Super PAC. All of the politicians who rushed to defile “lady-parts” with legislation requiring intrusive and medically unnecessary procedures would suddenly stop and have much more respect and consideration for Vagina Corp.

Vagina Corp. would be an economic force. Let’s be clear; control over reproduction is an economic issue. Vagina Corp., by harnessing that power, would then become a force in the economy. The Vagina Corp. Super PAC would be able to pressure legislators to create bills that would do simple things like guarantee equal pay for equal work. Vagina Corp. would be able either to provide access to capital, like a venture capitalist, or pressure the financial services industry to remember that they are supposed to circulate money, not just hold it on their “fortress” balance sheets. With more woman-controlled dollars in the economy, woman-owned businesses would flourish more than they already do.  According to the US Census Bureau, women-owned firms accounted for 28.7% of all nonfarm businesses in the United States in 2007.

For anyone who thinks this is a ridiculous idea, I say “not so fast.” After all, America is the country of legal innovation and flexibility when it comes to financial matters. America came up with the junk bond, the sub-prime mortgage-backed security, and collateralized debt obligations… If we can make people believe those legal and economic fictions are profitable, despite their extremely dangerous and risky realities, then incorporating vaginas is child’s play.

The only reason not to incorporate vaginas would be the same reason that women’s reproductive health is in danger in the first place…there is an innate recognition of the power of a woman’s vagina. These legislators must believe that the vagina, like Voldermort, possesses a powerful dark magic that must be contained at all costs. And it begins with saying its name…Vagina!

Let’s go to Delaware and make their worst nightmares come true. Let’s create the first Vagina Corp. and begin our rise to power. First order of business… Destroy the little blue pills.




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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

Marriage Equality Hypocrisy: The New Black, Part II – Activism?



The Black church was a mainstay and source of inspiration during the darkest days of oppression for Blacks in America. As important, the Black church was seen as a source of community organizing that was translated into political activism and community advocacy.

Yet, the Black community has developed a certain measure of hubris and complacency about civil rights since the 1960’s, when the legal landscape for Blacks changed because of new laws and Supreme Court decisions. Because activism in the Black community has become fat, lazy and content, it becomes easier to believe that in 2012, the Black Church is being used as a wedge and source of intolerance. The target for this discrimination is against another group that is being marginalized and deprived of equal protection under the law – the LGTBQ community.

It is never appropriate for this country to pursue laws and policies that discriminate. Discrimination runs counter to the vision of America that is expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the policies and procedures of the country set forth in the US Constitution, as it has been amended.

As I did in 2010, I won’t discuss the religious arguments that have been raised against Marriage Equality. Why? Because the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment creates a separation of church and state, this takes religion out of this situation for me and many others. If a church wants to refuse to recognize same sex marriages, I would go to the mat to protect their religious liberty, which is also constitutionally protected. But we aren’t talking about religious ceremonies and beliefs. When it comes to Marriage Equality, the conversation is about equal protection under the law.

I am struck by how many people don’t recognize that marriage is also a civil, legal contract between two parties. In the same way that buying a house is done according to the law and in a way that bars discrimination, the civil contract of marriage should be viewed through the same prism. The law cannot, and must not, be selectively applied.  Equal protection under the law is guaranteed to every American by the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment doesn’t say “equal protection, provided that certain religious factions are okay with it.”

There are some who ask why must same sex couples have marriage equality? Why isn’t a “civil union” sufficient for “them?” When Black folks ask this question, I find it especially painful. It is within the lifetime of many Black folks uttering this despicable question that we were told to be content with “separate but equal” education, public facilities, and limitations on our ability to marry who we loved. Segregation of Blacks was rationalized with Bible verses in the beliefs strongly held by God-fearing, hate mongering Christians. Bible verses were cited as the moral rationalization for depriving American citizens of their liberty, and from their equal measure of citizenship.

No citizen should be required to accept a second-class status flowing from any legal transaction or status. This disgusting approach is not only illegal; it is also immoral in the country that is the leader of the free world. In the way that only equality was, and is, sufficient for the Black community and women, the LGBTQ community has every right to demand and expect nothing less as well. It would be hypocritical for anyone engaged in the fight for social justice to accept anything less. As Black folks and women continue to struggle for the full realization of equality, the LGBT community must realize that the struggle will be long and difficult.

Because the vote is such a uniquely essential tool in the political process, I have a heightened measure of disgust for the members of the Black clergy who have stated that they will tell their congregations to stay at home and not vote for Barack Obama in November. What? We are in a time when states like Florida are purging thousands from their voter rolls, and 34 states have voter ID laws in an effort to disenfranchise the Black and Latino community, the elderly and the young. The American Legislative Executive Council (“ALEC”), didn’t have to lift a finger apparently. Some remarkably ignorant and short-sighted members of the Black clergy have been more than happy to do ALEC’s dirty work. The Black clergy has a legacy of empowering its community and preaching about liberation and justice that is inextricably intertwined with the history of Blacks in America. These members of the clergy advocating for the same type of fear and discrimination that attempted to subjugate and humiliate Blacks for centuries. The most damaging to the psyche and reality of Black folks is the fact that some members of the Black clergy are encouraging voters to stay away from the polls during an election that will prove crucial to the fate of under-represented minorities.  What is the justification for this civic malpractice? A stance on a single social issue, grounded in bigotry. I find this position unbelievably dangerously reckless and irresponsible.

What everyone must bear in mind is the fact that the expansion of justice and liberty in America serves to enhance the entire country, not diminish any of it. The elimination of the last vestiges of unequal protection under the law doesn’t infringe upon other Americans’ liberty, especially the Black community.

In the wake of President Obama’s statement about his evolved position on Marriage Equality, Black celebrities, such as Chris Rock, Jay Z, and most interestingly, the man who is the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Secretary of State, Colin Powell have all stepped forward to express their support for same sex marriage. President Obama and these celebrities aren’t the only ones in the Black Community to evolve in their position about Marriage Equality, but the changing attitudes reflect a community in the process of changing its mind. Hopefully the shift in attitude in the Black community, known to be socially conservative, bodes well for the rest of the country. Opposition to same sex marriage in the Black Community has decreased after the President’s interview, but that isn’t necessarily translating into increased support for gay marriage. It is a work in progress.

It isn’t enough to say that you no longer support discrimination. Those no longer in opposition to Marriage Equality must remember the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  America, home of the American Dream, must no longer give the full measure of liberty to some, while actively seeking to discriminate against others. “Equal Justice Under Law.” It is what is inscribed on the building that houses the US Supreme Court. These words cannot merely be decorative. They have to have practical application…for every American.  Any other approach is legally wrong and morally offensive.

I guess the level of hypocrisy about Marriage Equality is en vogue in the Black community. But I don’t understand it. There must be a NEW Black Community embracing this moral and legal hypocrisy. I guess hypocrisy is the NEW BLACK.


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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

Marriage Equality Hypocrisy: The New Black, Part I

June 9, 2012 1 comment


President Barack Obama speaks to ABC News’ Robin Roberts about Marriage Equality

On May 9th, 2012, President Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States, did something extraordinary. The day after North Carolina became one of 30 states to vote bigotry into its state constitution, President Obama spoke out against bigotry and discrimination when he expressed his personal support for same sex marriage. I will be honest and say that it has taken me this long to figure out exactly what I wanted to say about the situation. The President’s remarks were a statement that is, arguably, the most significant statement on civil rights made by a President since the Emancipation Proclamation. All of America, but the Black community in particular, should have heaved a collective sigh of relief that any of our presidents finally had the courage to stand for the concepts of equal protection expressed in the Constitution…not just in theory, but in practice.

The Black community should have been so very proud that Barack Obama had the principles to speak out against discrimination in a way that no other president in recent memory had. I was thrilled because I publicly expressed my support for Marriage Equality and my call for every American to take this stance over two years ago. Many didn’t bother to parse the President’s comments on same-sex marriage for their real impact on current policy regarding Marriage Equality, which is minimal. Instead, there was a visceral reaction based in fear and bigotry. What made this reaction so sad and infuriating was that, for many including some in the Black community, their bigoted discrimination is wrapped in the Bible and tied with a bow of “Christianity” that Christ wouldn’t even recognize.

I am underwhelmed and disappointed by the hypocrisy of those in the Black Community who do not support Marriage Equality. The history of Black folks in America is long, complicated and full of painful injustices. The Constitution had its infamous “Three-fifths Compromise” that was good for everyone, except Black people.  The Dred Scott decision was handed down by the US Supreme Court in 1857 showing cowardice and a political cravenness that would make the current Roberts Court jealous. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation, offered hope that America would finally deliver on the promise of the ideals set out in the Declaration of Independence. But that hope was snatched away with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896.

If you aren’t aware, Plessy created the doctrine of “Separate, but Equal.” Plessy was also the legal foundation for Jim Crow Segregation, which stood until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. It wasn’t until 1967, with the Loving v. Virginia decision, which ended race-based impediments to legal marriage, that Blacks could truly marry whoever they wanted. The fight for equality, regardless of race, is by no means over.  The history of civil rights fights and victories in America casts a long and impressive shadow. The Black Community has a long tradition of standing up for what is right and just. Abolitionists, like Sojourner Truth and Fredrick Douglass, who fought slavery in the 19th Century were also active members of the Women’s Suffragist movement. There was a moral consistency in that position.  The Niagara Movement, the precursor of the NAACP, was the manifestation of the old Black community that maintained the fight for justice against all comers, including the Catholic Church, in the very early years of the 20th Century. There was recognition that the expansion of rights enhances the concepts of liberty and justice for every American. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The new Black community must understand the past and present suffering that comes from discrimination. The new Black community, like the old Black community, must stand on the right side of history and fight for equality wherever discrimination exists. It’s not too late to evolve and follow the fine example set by President Obama. The NAACP did this a few weeks after the President’s remarks when they announced the NAACP’s emphatic support for Marriage Equality.  The old Black community fought for justice, and the new Black community must learn from and follow their example.

The New Black must never side with legal or social injustice, nor should the New Black ever stand for moral hypocrisy.

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Football and Seau: The Head Bangers’ Fall

America had a ball smoking, remember? At one point smoking was cool. In fact, it was the essence of cool. The folks who sold us cigarettes swore that smoking wasn’t harmful. In fact, they went in front of Congress and swore a bunch of lies about the harmful effects of smoking. Reminds me of the National Football League’s approach to head injury…

American has a ball with its head banging pastime, doesn’t it? Football transcends cool. Football isn’t just a sport. For some, from training camp to the Super Bowl, it is their religion. Little boys raised by single mothers are told that Pop Warner football will teach their sons how to be men. Boys, with limited opportunity otherwise, are told that football may be their ticket to fame and fortune. The Head Bangers’ Ball that is professional football is elevated to such heights. But we just saw several young men’s dreams come true during the marathon that is the NFL Draft, complete with cheering, big hugs from the NFL Commission Roger Goodell, and knowledge that a pro team wants him, I guess a young man must feel on top of the world

But if you party hard, you are going to have a hangover. But the hangover from the Head Bangers’ Ball is the Head Bangers’ Fall. And when a professional football player falls after a long career, the results are almost always tragic. We are seeing this with increasing frequency.

It was shocking to hearing that former NFL player Junior Seau was dead, but not entirely surprising. Junior Seau was the most recent death, and probably the most famous NFL player to take his own life in recent memory. Junior Seau was a local San Diego boy made good. But a life time of head banging at high school, USC, where he was outstanding, and a 20-year professional career took a toll. It is interesting to note that Junior was never formally diagnosed with a concussion during his professional career. But that is meaningless. Gary Plummer, a former teammate of Seau’s told the San Jose Mercury News that “Grade 1 [concussion] meant you were seeing stars after a hit…Junior played for 20 years. That’s five concussions a game, easily. How many in his career then? That’s over 1,500 concussions.” 1,500 concussions?

After his retirement in 2010, there was the incident that should have been a red flag the size of the 6’3”, 280+ pound Seau himself. It was reported that he drove his SUV over a cliff in Carlsbad, California after being released from jail for a domestic violence arrest. The police did not find evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system. Seau claimed that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Rather than err on the side of caution in light of the mounting evidence about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and its symptoms (depression, aggression, tremors, confusion, headaches, and dementia), everyone looked the other way.

We know that Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He took pains to preserve his brain, and the Seau family will allow his brain to be studied by the Boston University Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is independent of the NFL. But the NFL seems to want us to believe that Junior Seau was a man who simply missed the Head Bangers’ Ball.

And if you believe that, I have a pack of wholesome, healthy cigarettes straight out of 1962 I’d like to sell you.

Junior Seau’s suicide is not an isolated event. There have been three other retired NFL players who have committed suicide in the past 18 months: Ray Easterling, Andre Waters, and, more intriguingly, Dave Duerson. All of these deaths are incredibly sad, but Dave Duerson’s death, was analogous to the Marlboro Man dying from lung cancer. In 2007, Dave Duerson testified before a Senate subcommittee that he doubted that cognitive and emotional struggles of former NFL players were related to football. On February 17, 2011, Dave Duerson committed suicide in the same way that Junior Seau did, and asked in his suicide note that the Boston University Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy study his brain. TCE is a degenerative condition that, based on the science gathered thus far, appeared linked to head injury. Over time, the brain has difficulty recovering from the imbalances, which leads to a worsening and debilitating condition. A definitive diagnosis cannot be made until a person is dead and the brain is available for autopsy. TCE is the dark side of the life of these warriors. After a lifetime, the Head Bangers’ Fall into a pit of depression, early onset Alzheimers, or some choose to take their own lives and end the battle “on their own terms.” But what is glaring is the consistent attempts at valor on the part of these Head Banging warriors, which may not be shown by suicide, but is certainly displayed by the donation of their brains to the Boston University Center. The failure of the NFL and the team owners…and yes, of  us as fans is also clear. Everyone must do better before the next Head Banger falls.

There are over 1500 former players currently suing the National Football League. I have heard folks say that they have no sympathy for these guys. (I do) How could they not know the risks of football? (Easy) Plus, aren’t all football players multi-millionaires? (Hardly)

The pressures around football are significant. Players suck it up and to play through pain and injury in order to maintain their place on a roster. Players can’t knowingly assume risks, if they aren’t fully informed what the risks are. Even if the science is incomplete or unconvincing, the science is fairly compelling to me, give the players the worst case scenario and the odds, and let them choose. But don’t send players into the Head Bangers’ Ball, tell them to bang harder, and then expect them not to ask questions of the folks who made billions off of the head banging and suffering of others.

Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl MVP, and current NFL analyst stepped outside the NFL group-think on the subject. When asked if he would prefer that his sons NOT play football, Warner answered, “Yes, I would. Can’t make that choice for them if they want to, but there no question in my mind.” The response from others in and around the NFL was swift and negative that Warner was “biting the hand that feeds him.” I think he was looking out for the heads of his sons, and thinking that the Head Bangers’ Ball may be a sucker’s play. The 1500 former players locked in litigation with the NFL wished they had the benefit of the wisdom that Warner is giving his sons.

The money. Please don’t get it twisted. There is so much money in the Head Bangers’ Ball, but not much of it goes to the folks who are actually banging heads. In 2011, the average team was worth $1.04 BILLION per year. For the 2010 season, the average revenues rose by 4% to approximately $261 MILLION, despite the fact that everyone else is experiencing hard times. But the minimum salary for an NFL rookie player for the 2011 was $340 THOUSAND. The minimum salary will factor in the number of years a player has been in the league, but a player can be a 10 year veteran and not make $1M annually, despite the extreme risks involved in playing this sport, now and in the future. The average monthly pension payment to a player is only a few hundred dollars a month, which is woefully inadequate especially in the face of the health challenges many of these men face.

But I keep thinking about cigarettes because the NFL seems to function alot like the tobacco industry where these players are concerned. The tobacco industry knew that they were selling death and cancer to us dressed up as the Marlboro Man, Virginia Slims, Camel Joe, or the poison of your choice. But the mystique of cigarettes got so big and profitable that the facts concerning our health didn’t matter. Folks were getting very, very rich peddling death to the next generation of smokers after cancer killed off an older generation. It was the circle of death in the pursuit of the dollar…the human cost and truth be damned.

The Head Banger’s Ball just saw its circle of pain and destruction begin anew. The NFL Draft, the beginning of a new phase of the Head Bangers’ Ball, just took place on April 26th through 28th in New York City. Less than a week later, the Head Banger FALL happened in the worst way for Junior Seau when he took his own life on May 2nd in Oceanside, California. When you listen to his Junior Seau’s mom, you know that Kurt Warner is right to try to keep his sons away from both…the Head Bangers’ Ball, and especially the Head Bangers’ Fall.

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones