Friday, January 19, 2007


It's really too bad black community leaders in Virginia and elsewhere, as well as the national media were so quick to leap to the stage to condemn as insensitive a state official's comment that black people need to "get over" the commonwealth's history of slavery. Oh, we can certainly understand that there are many reasons they would issue comdemnations, including that fact that it is morally reprehensible to enslave people. But on the less-than-altruistic side of the ledger, other reasons in doing so include the fact that it keeps community leaders in the public eye... it gets them air time and column inches, and their modeling of righteous indignation cues their followers into how they should behave.
The comments by the Virginia legislator reportedly came in response to a demand, by some person or group, that Lawmakers in that state issue an apology for the state's involvement of the institution of slavery. Now, putting aside the fact that no one in the curent legislature was even yet born, let alone supported the policy, when slavery was legal, shouldn't we ask if such a demand is even worthwhile? What would it accomplish? I mean, if a man breaks into your home, robs and shoots you, leaving you confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, will an apology make up for the suffering you and your family endured?
And by the same token, what good are those who hold themselves out as leaders, but fail to assume a leadership role resolving deeply rooted social problems? ... Instead of climbing onto the stump to chastise someone who says something we find (rightly or wrongly) offensive, why didn't those so-called leaders avail themselve of the perfect opportunity to open a national dialogue aimed at resolving what is perhaps the most deeply rooted and contentious issue in American society? The fact that they didn't, marks them as cowardly and unfit for leadership, as all they have done is expressed pain and anger while failing to exorcise the source.... It won't be easy or painless, but real leaders help fix problems and don't use them to further entrench their social status.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Despite its continuuing refusal to justify letting an elected official take a walk away from a DUI charge, a visit to the Ocean City Police website brings visitors to the top headline, which reads (in red letters)"Report Drunk Drivers...Dial 911."
Now, why in the name of GAWD would anyone even bother to do that, especially since Chief DiPino says it's really up to the responding officer to decide if he wants to do anything about it, and she doesn't second-guess them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Delaware State Rep. John C. Atkins will meet may meet with justice today when he appears before the House Ethic Committee to explain his behavior last October, when we was given a pass by Ocean City Police for drunken driving, and was later arrested for domestic violence. You'll note the emphasis on the word "may," because that meeting is not open to the public. That policy is more than just a little troubling, because it prevents public oversight and it appears to deny Atkins his constitutionally guaranteed protection against double jeopardy. But let's put that issue aside for a moment and address only the secrecy.
Frankly, I'm hard-pressed to understand why this meeting is not open to the public. Atkins has no expectation of privacy on this issue. He's a public official who derives is salary from the tax-payers, and while some might suggest that there is a line of demarcation between his private and public lives, he clearly assumed his public role when he flashed his legislative ID to the cops who stopped him. That means whatever he said or did in that exchange is subject to public scrutiny and oversight.
To close the hearing to the public is to deny it that scrutiny and oversight.

Monday, January 15, 2007


There is an almost palpable, but unspoken perception that this day, the day set aside to remember the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr., belongs exclusively to black people. That feeling, I think, exists almost universally across the various races in this country. The popular memory and teachings are that King incited the black race in this country to stand up against both social and codified racism, and that's true. But it's only part of the truth.
The rest of the truth is that Dr King sought equality and justice not just for a single ethnic group, but for everyone. And the fact that one group benefitted more immediately than any other, is likely because of the entrenched racial seperatism that was so deeply woven into the American fabric at the time. But conventional wisdom and popular memory often seems to ignore the fact that Dr. King clearly championed justice and equality for everyone, whatever their race, religion, or social status. He brought together is own followers with SNCC and SCLC to expand the demand for equal access to jobs and justice, voting rights, fair housing laws, equal educational opportunities and perhaps most importantly, human rights. Even on the day he died in Memphis, he was there to lend support to striking sanitation workers, not simply because of their skin color, but because what they were doing was right and benefitted those without power.
And when we remember Dr. King, we need to remember he was a man of the cloth, a preacher with an unshakable belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Mahatma Ghandi. And nowhere was that more clear than when he delivered what was probably eleoqent and stirring speech of the 20th century.
"And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 14, 2007


How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change Accomplished;

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark;

8. One to viciously smear #7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.