Politics: Another Perspective: Commentary and Analysis on Race, War, Ethics and the American Political Landscape in the Age of Obama368
Politics: Another Perspective: Commentary and Analysis on Race, War, Ethics and the American Political Landscape in the Age of Obama368
Over the past 8 years there have been significant shifts in the American political landscape. The election of Senator Barack Obama as America’s 44th and first African American president signaled a giant leap forward in the American social, cultural, and political landscape. It has taken America 219 years to reach this point.
Based upon Senator Obama’s campaign promises many people looked forward to a more transparent and inclusive government. Others saw this election as a signal of a new post-racial America, but America has always been a country in conflict. As many basked in the comfort of Obama’s historic election, others feared its backlash. History tells us that white supremacy dies hard in America and its proponents would not take America’s victory lying down.
The bigoted rants of the Tea Party and the ultra-right wing’s obstructionist agenda have resulted in a political stalemate unlike any other in recent American history. These reactionary politics coupled with the Democratic Party and Obama Administration’s inability to articulate an effective counter-narrative and employ effective countermeasures has left America in a political abyss.
Politics Another Perspective: Analysis of Race, War, Ethics and the American Political Landscape in the Age of Obama is a collection of Op Ed’s written by Wilmer J. Leon, III, Ph.D. As a collection, these writings provide cutting edge analysis of the various issues that influenced the American geopolitical landscape since 2006 and insight into the direction that the country is headed.
“Wilmer Leon is one of the few Black prophetic voices in the age of Obama. This book confirms this status – courageous, visionary and consistent!”
—Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Wilmer Leon has assembled a collection that asks the right questions about race and democracy. In an era when too many are silenced for fear of rocking the boat of the status quo, Wilmer Leon has signaled his willingness to go out on a limb and speak truth to power. Bravo!
—Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Economist and Author Are We Better Off: Race, Obama and Public Policy.
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Politics: Another Perspective
Commentary and Analysis on Race, War, Ethics and the American Political Landscape in the Age of Obama
By Wilmer J. Leon
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Wilmer Leon
All rights reserved.
Post Katrina and 9/11, Insight into the Soul of America
September 20, 2006
During the week of August 28, America commemorated the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the greatest Atlantic hurricane and natural disaster in American history. Last week, the week of September 11, 2006, America commemorated the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Both of these commemorations allow Americans a unique opportunity to mourn tragic losses and more importantly, peer into the soul of America. The national government's response to these events and the manner in which the "refugees" of Katrina and the respondents to 9/11 have been dealt with dramatize a critical shift in the political psyche or mindset in the American body politic.
On May 22, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the graduates at the University of Michigan, giving what is now known as "The Great Society Speech." In this address, President Johnson spoke about the future of America. He asked if Americans have the wisdom to use America's wealth "to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization." President Johnson told the graduates that they had the opportunity to move America not only forward, to become a rich and powerful society, but "upward to the 'Great Society.'"
He went on to say that the "Great Society" was not an ultimate goal but an ongoing challenge to ensure that "the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor." To accomplish this, President Johnson called upon America to use its wealth and resources "to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism, between the National Capital and the leaders of local communities." What has become of our "Great Society?" What has become of the soul of America?
As we reflect upon Katrina and peer into the mirror of history, we see mostly poor people of all colors, ethnic groups, and ages. We see children sitting on roof tops, the elderly floating on mattresses, and crowds of Americans huddled under highway overpasses in the searing heat without food and water. Where was our national government, we must ask. At the height of the greatest national disaster in American history, when our citizens were in their gravest hour of need, where were the resources of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world? Where was the leadership of those sworn to protect the public good? Two days after the greatest national disaster in American history was playing out before our very eyes on national television, this nation's leader was 3,400 miles away playing the guitar at a country and western show in San Diego, California. President George "Nero" Bush fiddled while the Gulf Coast drowned!
As we reflect upon the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we peer into the reality of now. We praise but fail to assist those selfless individuals, the "first respondents" to the scene, who now five years later suffer from lung disease and are dying from the toxic mixture of pulverized cement, asbestos, paper, glass, and other unknown particles and contaminants. They inhaled that airborne cocktail of death in order to save lives. Now many of their lives hang in the balance while the resources of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world are not being made available to assist them. For their acts of heroism we embrace them and sing praise; for their physical suffering and mental anguish we cast them aside to fend for themselves.
As we peer into this mirror we see a culture that has changed, a paradigm that has shifted, a script that has been flipped. Forty-two years ago, President Johnson called upon this nation to use its vast resources to help the least of us. He prescribed that we redistribute income and wealth so that those with the least could have a safety net, a provider of last resort. The President asked in 1964 if Americans have the wisdom to use America's wealth "to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization." Today we are a corporate-ocracy. We redistribute wealth but not to the least of us — now, it goes to those with the most. We've ended "welfare as you know it." Now your taxes fund corporate welfare, billion-dollar defense contracts to Lockheed-Martin, no-bid contracts to Halliburton, and greater profits for Bechtel and the Carlyle Group.
The poem "The New Colossus" is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Its final lines read:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
What happened to that "kinder gentler nation" and those "thousand points of light" that President George H.W. Bush called for? Where is the compassion from those "compassionate conservatives" that President George W. Bush called for?
I ask: What has happened to the soul of America? Has the light of that lamp been extinguished? Has the golden door been closed? God Bless America? No ... God Help Us All!CHAPTER 2
Foley's Folly: Ethics and Morality vs. Legality
October 7, 2006
According to ABC News, and other sources, approximately five months ago, Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) told House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) of concerns that the former chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, former congressman Mark Foley (R-FL), might himself be attempting to exploit children.
In fact, ABC News reported, "Despite repeated warning signs going back at least five years, almost nothing was done in Congress to stop Foley's suspect behavior with pages." According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in 2001, pages were warned to be careful with Foley and in 2005, one page complained to his congressman about "sick" emails from Foley, a complaint that was passed on to the Speaker's staff. Now, the FBI is investigating whether Foley's emails and text messages to underage House pages have violated any laws. Did Foley, using the screen name Maf54, actually seek to meet with the pages in order to solicit sex?
Many are asking what House Speaker Hastert and other members of the Republican power structure knew and when they knew it. Some people are calling for Hastert's resignation; others are saying that the outcome of a full investigation should determine the fate of those involved.
This takes us to the great dilemma, ethics and morality vs. legality. Merriam-Webster defines ethics as "the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation." Moral is defined as "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior." Law is defined as, "a binding custom or practice of a community: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority."
So here is what we have, Mark Foley, a fifty-two year old congressman, is at best sending salacious and inappropriate emails and text messages to a 16-year-old former Congressional page. At worst, Mr. Foley allegedly used the Internet to send pornographic emails and text mails, possibly for the purpose of soliciting sex from male minors. According to ABC News, "the congressman ... made repeated references to sexual organs and acts."
Information on Foley's suspected transgressions was passed to Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and others. Without personally conducting further investigations, they allowed Foley to retain his position as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and retain his seat in Congress. Their actions may have satisfied the legal requirements of Congress; they may have used proper channels and protocol; but were their actions (or lack thereof) ethically and morally acceptable?
Once Speaker Hastert, Rep. Rodney Alexander, Rep. Thomas Reynolds and others became aware of this information, they were ethically and morally obligated to do everything in their power as members of Congress, as men, and as parents to protect the children placed in their care. They have failed on all three counts. They chose to protect the interests and image of their party instead of protecting our most valued asset, our children. Just because their actions may be deemed legal, it does not mean they were right. After all, wasn't this the party that boasted of representing the "Moral Majority" and the "Christian Coalition?"
According to the Associated Press, Congressman Reynolds said, "Rodney Alexander brought to my attention the existence of emails between Mark Foley and a former page of Mr. Alexander's ... Despite the fact that I had not seen the emails in question, and Mr. Alexander told me that the parents didn't want the matter pursued, I told the speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me." The fact that the parents did not want the matter pursued is somewhat understandable but irrelevant. There is statutory law at play here and other children possibly at risk. By statute, it is illegal for an adult to solicit sex from a minor. There is no room for equivocation here.
Speaker Hastert is now trying to hold himself to lower standard of conduct as Speaker of the House than he was held to as a high school wrestling coach. Any teacher who is confronted with this type of information about another teacher and a student is compelled to take action. Hastert should have asked Congressman Alexander for copies of the emails (which I have seen). After reading them it would have been clear to him that there was a very grave problem with Mark Foley. Speaker Hastert should have then called Foley into his office and given him three days to get his affairs in order before demanding his resignation. He then should have turned the information over to all of the proper authorities. Clear moral judgment and ethical action are how you protect the image of the party.
Contrary to Speaker Hastert's claims, this has nothing to do with Democrats taking political advantage of Republicans but everything to do with adults taking sexual advantage of children. House Speaker Hastert should resign. Congressmen Alexander and Reynolds should resign as well, not for violating our laws, but for failing us ethically, morally and violating the public trust.
Excerpted from Politics: Another Perspective by Wilmer J. Leon. Copyright © 2016 Wilmer Leon. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Preface – Dr. Ronald Walters, xvii,
Foreword – Dr. Clarence Lusane, xix,
Introduction – Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III, xxiii,
I. Democracy, Political Values, Judgment, and Ethics or the Lack Thereof, 1,
1. Post Katrina and 9/11, Insight into the Soul of America – September 20, 2006, 15,
2. Foley's Folly: Ethics and Morality vs. Legality – October 7, 2006, 18,
3. Presidents' Day 2007: Where Has the Integrity Gone? – February 19, 2007, 20,
4. Mr. President, I Beg Your Pardon? – March 21, 2007, 24,
5. Politics vs. Patronage: Which Do You Prefer? – May 4, 2007, 28,
6. It's Not What You Say; It's How You Vote – July 3, 2007, 31,
7. Now We Know How the Colonists Felt – July 16, 2007, 33,
8. Unilateral Foreign Policy or Unitary Executive; Both Undermine Democracy – August 24 2007, 37,
9. The Values of a Dysfunctional Family – November 7, 2007, 41,
10. Ideology Makes for Bad Policy – February 17, 2008, 45,
11. UN Racism Conference, Right Thing to Do; Wrong Time to Do It – April 27, 2009, 49,
12. Supreme Court "Activism" is in the Eye of the Beholder – July 1, 2010, 53,
13. A Sad Day in Harlem – August 2, 2010, 56,
14. In 2008 it was "Hope" and "Change"; Now What? – May 2, 2012, 58,
15. Common Sense Is Not All That Common – July 30, 2012, 61,
16. Hubris, Arrogance and the Violation of Separation of Powers – February 10, 2015, 64,
II. Mainstream American Media's Coverage of President Barack Obama, 67,
17. The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright and the Audacity of Truth – March 22, 2008, 77,
18. Sound-Bite Politics – Shallow Analysis and the Sinking of Senator Obama – May 13, 2008, 82,
19. Is It Really About "You" the American People or Just About Hillary? – Thursday 05 June 2008, 86,
20. Let He Who Is Without Sin Question the Election – July 14, 2008, 89,
21. Satire at Its Worst – July 14, 2008, 94,
22. Don't Lose Focus of the Real Issues – July 16, 2008, 95,
23. Is Obama the End of Black Politics? A Ridiculous Question – August 19, 2008, 99,
24. Senator McCain's Decision is Pandering with Palin – September 10, 2008, 103,
25. Reality Is No Rehearsal – October 3, 2008., 107,
26. Desperation Makes For Dangerous Politics – October 25, 2008, 111,
27. President-Elect Obama – America's Struggle in Context – November 5, 2008, 115,
28. President-Elect Barack Obama – When Wisdom, Honesty, and Judiciousness No Longer Seem to Matter – December 18, 2008, 119,
29. The RNC and the "Magic Negro" – January 6, 2009, 123,
30. Brian Williams – Just a Cog in The National Disinformation Machine – February 14, 2015, 127,
III. The Failure of the Bush/Obama War Agenda, 131,
31. We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us – March 6, 2007, 139,
32. When Your Failed Policy Actually Fails – April 12, 2007, 144,
33. "The New Way Forward in Iraq" Fails on All Fronts – September 25, 2007, 147,
34. Torture: What's in a Name? – October 13, 2007, 151,
35. Is Increased Security Making Us Safer? – January 28, 2008, 154,
36. America's Serious Problems Require Real Solutions Not Rhetoric – February 6, 2008, 158,
37. Afghanistan/Pakistan Where Empires Go to Die – May 14, 2009, 162,
38. Afghanistan: Necessity Isn't Always Just – January 11, 2010, 165,
39. Did President Obama Sell America on Libya? – March 30, 2011, 168,
40. Lessons Learned from Osama bin Laden? – May 4, 2011, 171,
41. Obama's Irresponsible Rhetoric Exacerbates Global Tensions – September 10, 2013, 173,
42. You Have the Watches; They Have the Time – January 11, 2014, 177,
43. Pax Americana vs. the Arc of the Moral Universe – July 15, 2014, 180,
44. My Enemy's Enemy Is Not My Friend – September 22, 2014, 183,
45. Jeb Bush the Echo Chamber and Revisionist History – May 18, 2015, 187,
46. Netanyahu Doubles Down on Bush's Big Lie – March 6, 2015, 190,
IV. Race and Democracy, 195,
47. Focus on Their Color; Fail to See Their Humanity – November 30, 2006, 203,
48. Impeachment Is Not a Partisan Issue; It's a Democracy Issue – December 8, 2006, 206,
49. When Common Sense Is Not All That Common – May 29, 2007, 209,
50. The Democrats' Problem with Democracy – March 10, 2008, 212,
51. It's Not the Dream; It's Our Nightmare – April 4, 2008, 216,
52. Senator Barack Obama and the Paradox of Dr. King – August 30, 2008, 218,
53. A Moment to be Proud; an Invitation to be Great Again! – January 21, 2009, 222,
54. RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Old Republican Wine in New Bottles? – February 6, 2009, 225,
55. The Power of Imagery and Why It is Used – February 20, 2009, 231,
56. President Obama's New Approach to a New World Order? – April 20, 2009, 235,
57. Empathy vs. Ideology on the Court? – June 4, 2009, 239,
58. Black Republicans in 2010, Symbolism vs. Practical Politics – June 22, 2010, 244,
59. Black Farmers Ongoing Struggle for Justice – March 30, 2011, 247,
60. AG Eric Holder, Wrong on the Law, the Politics, and on the Wrong Side of History – March 14, 2012, 249,
61. Trayvon Martin's Moment Should Spark a Movement – April 4, 2012, 252,
62. The 2013 March, the "Tranquilizing Drug of Gradualism" – September 3, 2013, 255,
63. The Un-United States of America – September 30, 2013, 258,
64. Dr. Ben Carson, Great Surgeon but a Bad Icon for the Political Collective – March 26, 2013, 261,
65. Dr. Ben Carson "Jumps Jim Crow" – October 30, 2013, 264,
66. The Day Santa Really Went Black – January 6, 2014, 269,
67. Reparations – the 800 lb. Bale of Cotton in the Room – August 4, 2014, 272,
68. Ferguson – Past is Prologue – August 27, 2014, 278,
69. I'm an Angry African American Male and with Good Reason – October 4, 2014, 281,
70. We Must Look Back in Order to Move Forward – December 7, 2014, 284,
71. Rudy Giuliani and the Race to the Bottom – February 23, 2015, 288,
72. President Obama-Selma-and the Meaning of America – March 11, 2015, 291,
73. The West – Dyson Exchange; Less Personal Animus More Policy Analysis – April 22, 2015, 295,
74. The Baltimore Rebellion and Newton's Third Law of Motion – April 28, 2015, 298,
V. Epilogue, 301,
75. President Obama,-Selma-and the Meaning of America – March 15, 2015, 310,
76. It's Not the Symbol; It's The Sentiment – June 29, 2015, 314,
77. Russian Roulette With Three In The Chamber – January 20, 2016, 317,
78. Trump – The Republican Frankenstein – February 5, 2016, 322,
79. Supreme Court Injustice – March 2, 2016, 325,
80. History Did Not Begin Yesterday – March 30, 2016, 328,