Archive | Politics

Kanye West’s Race-Baiting Tirade

Hip-hop star Kanye West went on a tirade during NBC’s disaster relief fundraiser tonight. West and Michael Myers were paired together during a segment so that they could appeal to a nationwide TV audience to donate money to the Red Cross. After Michael Myers opened with a few remarks, Kanye West began a meandering monologue that was clearly not written on his cue card and was very difficult to understand. However, a few things came through loud and clear.

First, West made the outlandish claim that the government had given the troops in New Orleans permission to shoot black people. Second, he accused the media of racist coverage, alleging that reporters are saying that black families are looting while white families are just looking for food. Third, West punctuated his screed with an low-blow against the President: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” (the Washington Post has the entire exchange here).

I fear that West has been drinking deeply from the propaganda of the race-baiters who have been trying to exploit this tragedy for their own ends. For instance, consider Al Sharpton’s accusation on Keith Olbermann’s program just last night: “And the real question is not only those that didn‘t get out. The question is why has it taken the government so long to get in. I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner” (source).

Consider also how Jesse Jackson criticized the federal response to the disaster: “How can blacks be locked out of the leadership, and trapped in the suffering? It is that lack of sensitivity and compassion that represents a kind of incompetence. . . There’s a historical indifference to the pain of poor people and black people . . . [the new media has] criminalized the people of New Orleans” by focusing on violence in the city (source).

So you see, Kanye West didn’t say anything that these race-baiters haven’t been saying all week. But West’s remarks do reveal just how reckless the rhetoric of the Jacksons and the Sharptons can be. What should have been a non-partisan appeal to the better angels of American nature turned into a counter-productive blame game.

Nevermind the fifty-percent of Americans who would take great offense at West’s parroted accusations. Nevermind the fact that such remarks might disincline some from contributing to the Red Cross disaster-relief fund. Just blame Bush and exploit the tragedy for partisan advantage. That does not sound very compassionate to me.

NBC tried to recover the good will of its viewers with the following statement that was released after the concert:

“Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion” (source).

I am not saying that the south doesn’t have serious racial issues to confront. Believe me, we do. And I am certain I will have more to write on that topic later. But tonight, I am just troubled by the irresponsible, inflammatory statements made by West.

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New Orleans: Then and Now

I was struck this morning when NBC’s Today Show offered glowing and nostalgic remembrances of how great New Orleans was before the hurricane. The parties, the good times, the food, and the music. According to the Today Show’s reporting, New Orleans was a virtual heaven on earth—a true American original.

I have to say, however, that as a native Louisianan, I don’t think that description of pre-hurricane New Orleans really rings true. Yes, it is true that the city had its charms, but it also had its challenges, the kinds of challenges that are routinely overlooked by reveling tourists.

I could relate story after story about how difficult the city really was before Katrina. I could tell you about how my friend Dr. Charlie Draper’s wife got caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out while pumping gas into her car across the street from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I could tell you about my former associate pastor who barely escaped being accosted by a group of homosexual men. Or I could tell you about my wife’s cousin who was shot to death by hoodlums who wanted to steal his walkman.

But these anecdotes do not comprise the sole reason for my impression of the city. It is a matter of public record that the city had a crime rate that was ten-times the national average. All of this is just an indicator of underlying problems that the outsider usually doesn’t notice.

Nicole Gelinas summed it up today in a penetrating essay titled “Will New Orleans Recover? Weak and struggling before Katrina, the good-time city now teeters on the brink.” She writes,

The truth is that even on a normal day, New Orleans is a sad city. Sure, tourists think New Orleans is fun: you can drink and hop from strip club to strip club all night on Bourbon Street, and gamble all your money away at Harrah’s. But the city’s decline over the past three decades has left it impoverished and lacking the resources to build its economy from within. New Orleans can’t take care of itself even when it is not 80 percent underwater; what is it going to do now, as waters continue to cripple it, and thousands of looters systematically destroy what Katrina left unscathed? . . .

The city’s government has long suffered from incompetence and corruption. Just weeks before Katrina, federal officials indicted associates of the former mayor, Marc Morial, for alleged kickbacks and contract fraud. Morial did nothing to attract diversified private investment to his impoverished city during the greatest economic boom of the modern era. . .

New Orleans teems with crime, and the NOPD can’t keep order on a good day. Former commissioner Richard Pennington brought New Orleans’ crime rate down from its peak during the mid-1990s. But since Pennington’s departure, crime rates have soared, to ten times the national average. The NOPD might have hundreds of decent officers, but it has a well-deserved institutional image as corrupt, brutal, and incompetent.

How will New Orleans’ economy recover from Katrina? Apart from some pass-through oil infrastructure, the city’s economy is utterly dependent on tourism. After the city’s mainstay oil industry decamped to Texas nearly a generation ago, New Orleans didn’t do the difficult work of cutting crime, educating illiterate citizens, and attracting new industries to the city. New Orleans became merely a convention and tourism economy, selling itself to visitors to survive, and over time it has only increased its economic dependence on outsiders. The fateful error of that strategy will become clearer in the next few months. . .

New Orleans has experienced a steady brain drain and fiscal drain for decades, as affluent corporations and individuals have fled, leaving behind a large population of people dependent on the government. Socially, New Orleans is one of America’s last helpless cities—just at the moment when it must do all it can to help itself survive.

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Pro-Life and Hip-Hop: Nick Cannon’s Amazing Video

Nick Cannon and His Mother

It’s not often that a rap video brings a tear to your eye. But my wife and I watched one tonight that did.

Some of you may know Nick Cannon from the hit movie “Drumline” or perhaps from his new show on MTV, “Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out.” What you may not know is that he released a music video this summer that is powerfully pro-life.

The lyrics to the song tell the true story of Nick Cannon’s mother. When she became pregnant with Nick, she was an unwed teenager. She made it all the way to the operating table of the abortion clinic when she realized that she was about to do something awful. So she got up and walked away from the clinic and away from the abortion. The rest of the song is a “thank you” to his mother for letting him live. The video closes with Nick embracing and thanking his real-life mother.

The music video to the song “Can I Live” is one of the most poignant pro-life messages that I have ever witnessed. Reading the lyrics alone won’t really convey the emotional wallop that you get from watching the video. So I highly recommend clicking here or here to see it for yourself.

Kathryn Jean Lopez from National Review Online writes:

“Cannon’s new music video ‘Can I Live?’ tells a tale that’s very different from a gangsta’s paradise of dirty dancing and booty calls that Cannon may be sandwiched in between on MTV or BET. In the song, the hip-hop pop star tells his life story — or at least the beginning of it and his mom’s close call with abortion.

“Cannon, 24, appears in the video as a ghost (or an angel, if you prefer) and sings, ‘Mommy, I don’t like this clinic. Hopefully you’ll make the right decision, and don’t go through with the knife decision.’

“A scared teen, his mother was on a gurney — that’s how close the call was — but got up, and, at least in the video version, ran.

“He points out to his mother something she got on some level, or she wouldn’t have gotten up: ‘That’s a life inside you, look at your tummy. What is becoming Ma, I am Oprah bound. You can tell he’s a star from the Ultrasound.’

“The video images tell a stirring, gripping story regardless of where you fall in the abortion debate.”

Go watch the video and buy the single. We should support something that is bound to save many lives that might otherwise have been snuffed out.

(R. Albert Mohler talked about the video on his radio show. You can download the mp3 of Mohler’s program here.)

(HT to Justin Taylor whose blog first brought this video to my attention.)

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“Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive”

Even the title of the story reveals that the New York Times is on the war-path against intelligent design: “Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive”. This article reads like an opinion piece, but it’s not. It’s reported as straight news. There is no serious engagement of arguments in this article, just the usual ad-hominem accusation that Intelligent Design scientists are politically motivated culture warriors.

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The New York Times Bashes the NARAL Ad

Can you believe it? Now the New York Times is editorializing against the NARAL ad! Not only that, but John Tierney piles on with an Op-Ed titled “Pro-Choice but Anti-Naral.”

This bodes ill for NARAL Pro-Choice America and leaves them looking more and more like a fringe group. No doubt this is why their communications director, David Seldin, has resigned.

The Times editorial ends with the following paragraph:

“In withdrawing the ad, Naral’s president, Nancy Keenan, said that the controversy sparked by the ad had ‘become a distraction’ from the group’s effort to educate the public. Lamentably, her statement stopped short of apologizing to Judge Roberts, and to Americans of all ideological stripes who are hoping for a confirmation process at once vigorous and informed. If Naral wants to regain credibility, it should start there.”

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Washington Post Calls a Spade a Spade

You have probably heard about the ad that NARAL ran on TV smearing Judge John Roberts. The ad alleged that Judge Roberts supports violence against abortion providers. The ad was manifestly scurrilous, and thankfully, has been called out as such by an editorial in today’s Washington Post. You can read it here. NARAL has now withdrawn the ad.(HT: Justin Taylor)

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What Do They Know That We Don’t?

At first blush, the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court looks like a welcome development. All indications are that he is an originalist in his approach to constitutional interpretation—that is, he believes the constitution to have a fixed meaning grounded in the original intention of the framers.

Yet it also looks like Roberts fits the description of a so-called “establishment conservative”—meaning, he will show some degree of deference to the traditions of the high court. To this effect, Time magazine speculates:

“Roberts may agree in spirit with those who see the past 50 years of jurisprudence as too expansive and too intrusive but respect too much the way the law is shaped to ride in and blowtorch it. He may just prove willing to conserve even opinions he faults” (source).

So it may be that Judge Roberts is a judicial conservative. But does it not remain to be seen the extent to which he will be willing to overturn past precedent? This is precisely the concern raised by a handful of conservatives such as Fred Barnes and Ann Coulter, who are not certain that Roberts would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Nevertheless, a bevy of well-known religious conservatives have lauded the Roberts nomination (see article in CT). For example, both James Dobson and Tony Perkins have expressed their approval of this nominee.

My question is, what do they know that we don’t know? I am trying to understand how folks like Dobson and Perkins can be so certain that Roberts will prove to be a good pick. Is it not possible that Roberts could turn out to be an establishment conservative who is unwilling to overturn a precedent like Roe v. Wade?

My hope is that George Bush knows something that we don’t know. So far in every situation, the President has remained true to his promises. If he has remained true to his pledge to nominate conservative judges, then he must know something that the rest of us don’t.

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New Plame Memo: A Big Splash at the Washington Post?

The headline of a story in today’s Washington Post reads “Plame’s Identity Marked As Secret.” The first paragraph of the story goes on to state the following:

“A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked ‘(S)’ for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified.”

At first blush, this information looks very damning for Karl Rove. It’s the kind of headline that makes a really big splash on the front page of a newspaper. Yet one finds critical qualifications buried in the text of the story.

First, the memo was apparently written by a State Department intelligence analyst and was intended for then Secretary of State Colin Powell, not Karl Rove.

Second, though Valerie Wilson’s name appears in the paragraph marked as secret, it is not at all clear that her own status was marked as covert. It looks like her name appears merely as background.

For readers who bother to read the whole article, there’s not much of a splash after all.

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Bush’s Man: John Roberts

Well, he’s not a woman like many were speculating. But John Roberts looks pretty good anyway.

Here’s the watershed quote from a brief Roberts co-wrote in 1990: “We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled . . . the Court’s conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution” (source).

Some news outlets are already citing remarks that Judge Roberts made in 2003 in his confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land . . . There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent” (source).

I don’t think we can conclude from this statement that a Justice Roberts would uphold Roe v. Wade if it ever came to that. As a lower court Judge, Roberts is obliged to follow Supreme Court precedent. But as a Supreme Court Justice, he can vote to overturn that precedent, and it seems that he has indicated that he would do just that.

So don’t get upset when you see the pundits playing these two quotes against one another. I don’t think they are necessarily at odds.

Washington Post
New York Times
NBC

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