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Posts Tagged ‘Oprah Winfrey’

Unless you have been hibernating during the Winter of Trump or hiding in a cave in the event of a Trump-induced nuclear holocaust, then you are probably aware that Colin Kaepernick is on his way to being the first player banned from the National Football League for his political views. The only thing worse than the racist right wing hegemony exhibited by the NFL owners is the indolent lap dog acceptance of this travesty by far too many black Americans.
The facts are that since he assumed his status as a free agent after the 2016-2017, not one of the 32 NFL teams has even offered him a tryout, even though most football experts would agree that he is a better quarterback than all 32 of the current backup quarterbacks in the league, and more than a few would argue that he is as good as, if not better, than more than a few of the starting quarterbacks in the league.
The facts are that numerous voices in the NFL Mothership have voiced “concerns” over Mr. Kaepernick’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. Further, his expressions of concern, outrage and frustration at the macabre American conveyor belt that transports the corpses of black victims of police brutality across the national landscape have been considered inappropriate for the sport.
The facts are that the NFL has welcomed players who have killed people, raped women, beaten women, ingested all manner of recreational and performance enhancing drugs and paid them enormous sums of money. The facts are that NFL players have expressed their support for Donald Trump despite his history of racism, misogyny, sexual assault and xenophobia without consequence.
The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is being denied re-entry into the NFL because his political beliefs and his public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And it is also a fact that even though 75% of the players in the NFL are black, very few players have raised a voice of concern, much less protest – Richard Sherman and Martellus Bennett are a few come to mind, but whatever happened to Odell Beckham, Jr. or Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or any number of NFL superstars who are virtually immune from sanction because of their star power?
And what happened to DeMaurice Smith and Eric Winston, the Executive Director and President of the NFL Players Association respectively? Have they been muted by the enormous sums of money that are earned by their membership or have they been neutered by the fear of the awesome power wielded by NFL owners?
And while we are at it, where is the grassroots support for Colin Kaepernick? The black fan base in the NFL is huge and has the capacity to be vocal, but except for a recent protest by Spike Lee, the sound of black silence has rolled across this country like thunder that is simply too quiet.
The reason why the Kaepernick Affair is so important is that the NFL is such an important part of American culture. The fact is that the NFL has suckled at the breast of the American taxpayer (many of whom are black) to the tune of billions of dollars in order to build their football temple stadiums and the NFL has received many more billions of dollars of revenue from American consumers (many of whom are black).
It is sad to see so little resistance from Black America when the NFL owners are acting in such obvious concert to silence black protest. It is sad to see such silence from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League and Black Lives matter. For that matter, what has happened to the voices of Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and all the other black men and women who manage to dominate the American media for their own profit? In this age of virulent Trumpism, racism and degradation must be confronted all the time.
The NFL season begins in a little less than a month. One can only hope that Colin Kaepernick finds a roster position and one can only hope that all Black Americans – indeed all Americans – find the voice to resist this blatant injustice.

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During the past few years Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have taken an admirable leadership role in urging their fellow billionaires and multi-millionaires to donate their vast fortunes to charity when they die. They have advocated returning their wealth to the people rather than simply enriching their heirs.

It is a noble and uplifting gesture and many of the super wealthy have committed to putting huge charitable donations in their will. All across the United States and around the world charities are monitoring the health of Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates and many more.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth that you hear would be coming from the heirs who are being denied the opportunity to become junior Midases.

While there is no denying the nobility of donating one’s fortune to charity at death, there is certainly no sacrifice involved. In fact, it could be argued that the only sacrifice that is being made is the sacrifice that is imposed upon the would-be heirs and heiresses of the wealthy who are typically being asked to scrape by on a measly $50 million for the rest of their lives.

While battling world poverty and global misery are noble causes indeed, I am suggesting that these crusading Croesuses remember the axiom about charity beginning at home.

I am, of course, referring to the burgeoning financial crisis in the United States. It is causing some members of Congress and state legislatures across the country to contend that government can not only no longer afford to feed the hungry, house the homeless or help the helpless. Some like Governor Walker of Wisconsin have gone so far as to state that governments cannot even pay public employees fair, negotiated wages.

The reason for this Scrooge-like approach to government and the public it is meant to serve is the budget deficit, especially at the federal level. There are many reasons for the multi-trillion dollar deficit – cash bleeding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that total almost 2 decades in the aggregate, herculean efforts to prop up the economy after the magic tricks of Wall Street ran out of magic and……………….tax cuts to the wealthy.

Most of the federal deficit is derived from the wars started by George W. Bush and…….the tax cuts to the wealthy. The new additions to the deficit during the Obama years have been due to efforts to bring about an economic recovery and……tax cuts to the wealthy.

That would be wealthy people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. That would be billionaires and miega-millionairs who seemingly can’t wait to die so that they can give away their billions and millions.

These would be the same billionaires who seem to think that paying their fair share of taxes while living wouldn’t be fair.

There is simply no hope in hoping that Congress will get the will to impose fair taxes on the wealthy so that veterans won’t be homeless and poor children will not be denied food and pre-school education.

The G.O.Tea Party stalwarts in Congress would rather see job training centers closed and health clinics shuttered than face the horrific notion of billionaires scraping by with a few million dollars less every year.

Perhaps the fact that the majority of the incoming Republican freshmen members of Congress are millionaires or the fact that virtually all of the United States Senators are millionaires has something to do with their cult-like adherence to protecting the loot of the rich.

Whatever the case, this change will certainly not come from Capitol Hill.

So I am proposing that, in teaching eleemosynary and selfless behavior to their fellow lords of the manor, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett take the lead in getting billionaires and millionaires to push for real tax reform.

Instead of refusing to pay taxes, the plutocracy of America can direct their tax advisors and counselors of evasion to waive deductions and reductions in their tax bills. They could also summon their Congressional representatives and demand that they take action.

Congress will never act on its own on this issue. President Obama has already been smeared as a socialist just for saving hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the auto and financial service industries. He has prudently avoided being labeled a card carrying communist by not taking the lead on this aspect of tax reform.

This version of tax reform – the wealthy doing the unthinkable, actually paying taxes at the same rate of someone making $50,000 per year, is an idea whose time has come.

Larry Ellison might have one less yacht, Oprah Winfrey might have one less Maybach, Michael Bloomberg might have a slightly smaller jet in his private fleet – but somehow I think that they can make it.

Just think. Rather than waiting until they die so that they can feel better about themselves, the wealthy can hear the applause and acclaim for their selflessness while they are still alive to enjoy it.

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Summer has departed. A disappointing season to be sure, too hot, too angry and too crazy. Autumn usually promises a cooling a soothing moment before arid chill of winter, but probably not this year:

The Tea Party at the Gates

There has been much talk about the Tea Party movement and how it represents a populist surge that is therapeutic and cleansing. It has been likened to being a high colonic for the body politic.

But nothing in politics is ever that simple. There are deep seated resentments and restrained urges towards meanness that are now in the light of day, having been given legitimacy by a seemingly supine Republican Party leadership.
Current G.O.Tea Party Republican candidates for Senate promise to bring an agenda to Washington that does not seem to be therapeutic.

There is one candidate who believes that unemployment insurance may be unconstitutional (Miller – Alaska). There is another who believes that women in the military vitiate the preparedness of the American armed forces (O’Donnell – Delaware). We can’t forget the candidate who questions the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Paul – Kentucky). And then there is the potential United States Senator who proposes to abolish the Department of Energy and the Department of Education as well as Social Security for good measure (Angle – Nevada).

I wish that someone would ask Michael Steele or Mitch McConnell or John McCain or Sarah Pailin if they really believe in this madness. Prior inquiries have been greeted with pabulum-like homilies about the right of the local electorate to express itself. But, of course, the United States Senate passes national legislation that affects everyone in this country.

Does Michael Steele really believe that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be reconsidered? As an African American Mr. Steele and his family personally benefited from this historic legislation, does he give Rand Paul a pass on this one?

John McCain has spent his entire life in the military and has always been a supporter of women serving in the armed forces of this country. Is he prepared to support Christine O’Donnell and her antediluvian views on this subject?

Sarah Palin presumes to belong to America now, but she never hesitates to refer to her Alaskan roots. No state has benefited more from the policies of the Department of Energy than Alaska. Is she prepared to correct Sharron Angle on this subject?

Clearly there is anger and resentment and bitterness flowing through this country. Candidates who channel that anger can be successful in the short term. But if those emotions are only channeled in a destructive direction Steele, McCain, Palin, etc. may regret reaping what they have sown. And so will the rest of us.

War Without End

“You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It’s a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”……General David Petraeus from Obama’s War by Robert Woodward

This one quote from Robert Woodward’s new book is chilling and sad and heartbreaking. If the military proponents of the war in Afghanistan do not believe that the war is “winnable”, however that may be defined, then why are hundreds upon thousands of men, women and children going to die as a result of that war?

It is clear to many that the security of the American homeland is not tied to the war in Afghanistan in terms of protecting the citizens of this country. The security of this country is undoubtedly endangered by the anger and resentment arising from the collateral deaths of thousands of civilians sucked down into the cauldron of war. And yet, this country still goes forward in this war without end.

The Mouths of Gift Horses

There is an old saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. A fairly benign advisory needs to be brushed off given the events of this Friday.

On September 24th, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook and said to be worth over $7 billion, will announce a gift of $100 million to the Newark (New Jersey) school system. This gift represents 10% of the annual budget for that city’s school system and is by far the largest individual gift that it has ever received. Newark Mayor Corey Booker will accept this gift on the Oprah Winfrey show. So what could be wrong with this picture?

Some critics are carping that Mr. Zuckerberg is making this gift because an uncomplimentary bio-pic entitled “The Social Network” is opening in theaters at the same time. Somehow, this $100 million donation to the children and teachers and administrators and parents in Newark is supposed to blunt or deflect the inevitable criticism that will flow after “The Social Network” hits the silver screens of the world.

The thought that comes to my mind is “Who cares?” Tens of thousands of people will benefit from Mr. Zuckerberg’s largesse. In this era of naked and rampant greed and selfishness perhaps a few more of the mega wealthy men and women of this country will use the fig leaf of charity to hide their nakedness.

Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, Ford and many others have done it. If Mark Zuckerberg wants to burnish his image by doing undeniably good and charitable work, here’s hoping that a few more tycoons, athletes, rappers and bankers follow his lead.

Have a great weekend!

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