Monday, August 16, 2010

President Obama's speech in reference to construction of New York mosque

Last night (August 14), President Obama continued the White House tradition of hosting a celebration of Ramadan in the State Dining Room. During his remarks at the Iftar dinner the president reflected on the importance of religious freedom as one of the founding principles of our Nation.

President Barack Obama:

Our Founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.

Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose -– including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our Founders that America remains deeply religious -– a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe.

Now, that's not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack -– from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam -– it’s a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders -– they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -– and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

So that's who we’re fighting against. And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms -– it is the strength of our values. The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish. The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us –- and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.

The Constitution of the Untied States is taking on a 'new' definition of freedom and religion

Amendment 1: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I understand perfectly well that the media and critics of President Obama want to incite their cheerleaders against building a recreation/prayer center in New York, two blocks from Ground Zero. My pretend skills are limited, and that means I cannot summon the emotional tinged anger to get a headache over this "mosque" mess.

Anti-mosque demonstrators at Ground Zero 
I cannot recall a bigger tragedy in America than September 11. This terrorist initiated calamity forced us arrogant Americans to drop to our knees and pray to a God we usually ignore, and set aside until a disaster occurs. The September 11, 2001 tragedy was catastrophic, fatal, destructive. 

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. It was early morning. I was getting ready for work, rushing so that I could catch the bus. I was watching the news as I usually do.  I thought I saw a  plane hit a tall building in New York. I thought: Somebody needs to do something these private planes running into buildings! 

Pro-mosque demonstrators
When I arrived at work I immediately turned on the TV in my office (working for a small company allows for perks that larger companies do not),  that's when I got the bigger picture and an even bigger shock. No one knew how large the calamity really was. No one knew it would be a day we would never forget.

We got off our knees and the ugliness returned

Why are anti-Muslim protesters trampling this sacred place of tragic  of death and destruction--Ground Zero--with ugly maliciousness and acrimony? Why are they soiling the memory of that heinous September morning in America?

What better way to wake the sleeping giant of resentment than misstating the President Obama's words, dispensing misinformation to misguided receptive underlings. Hungry Republicans are spreading their vicious propaganda daily, pulling in a large number of gullible cheer leaders. Underlings in other states have caught the no-mosque-in-my-state fever. 

I am assuming that the objectionists want the mosques demolished and Muslims floated back to the Middle East.  Immediately! These flag waving showboats are demonstrating that construction of the Muslim center in New York is just a smoke screen unconnected to 9/11.

First they came for Muslim mosques, illegal immigrants and their children. And then they came for African Americans after rewriting the 13th and 14th Amendments to say that they were born to  imported slaves; therefore, they are not citizens of the United States.
Blacks, considered three-fifths human, were the sole property of slave owners when the Constitution was written. Does that mean retroactive deportation of African Americans from this country?

Are these the same haters who said President Obama is going to destroy the Constitution to empower himself? I believe they are.

Tinkering with the Constitution can be a Pandora Box that should stay shut and locked. With the election of President Obama, the legitimacy of the Constitution is now questioned every day. When the President spoke about the construction of a recreation/prayer center near Ground Zero, he was not interjecting his personal opinion into the controversy. But that did not stop all hell from breaking loose in the media and its kinfolk: mouthy pundits.

President Obama did not retract his original statement

President Obama was citing the First Amendment of the Constitution and freedom of religion.  Citing the Constitution was not condoning building the center on "hallowed" ground. I did not hear President Obama endorse building the center near Ground Zero in his speech. He did not retract his statement the following day as the media falsely claimed, and as politicians turn pundits repeated. And repeated. And repeated. And repeated.

Perhaps America should stop holding itself up as a land of the free, and admit that "the melting pot" is a widespread figment of too many imaginations. To put it another way,  freedom only means freedom when defined by the lunatic fringe hanging out at Ground Zero.

Let me repeat: Tinkering with the Constitution of the United States is dangerous. Just like a senseless war there will be no clear winners at the end of the day. The world is watching our "freedom loving" America, as its camera-ready antagonists and ambitious politicians expose the internal turmoil they have with the Constitution, Muslims, religion and freedom.

As an informed individual capable of separating bullpuckey from facts, I refuse to wear a cheerleader's uniform, yelling, Yea! Yea! Go team, go! Send them Muslims home! The message is all wrong.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

'Freudian Slip' takes control of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's brain

Radio talker Dr. Laura Schlessinger
A double monster invaded the petite body of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, August 10. The words that crawled out of her mouth were not pretty to listen to. Doubledecker Freudian slips wormed their way into her brain, forcing her mouth to ramble out of control. Had she been drunk or medicated, she could have blamed her personality switch on the alcohol or medications. She could even claim the “devil made me say it.” That would be closer to the truth. In that she is the smarter one, Schlessinger deliberately summoned “Freudian Slip” and his companion "Mr. Oops!"

The real truth is that Schlessinger has been steaming mad ever since Barack Obama was elected president. This gave her reason to believe that racism was dead and buried. She skipped the wake and the funeral. Someone told her to spread the word that white folk could call black folk the "magic N word" without repercussion. The stinger had been removed from the word.

The August 10th call from someone named Jade opened the door for Schlessinger to vent, and invoke the magic word. She went buck-wild crazy on her nationally syndicated radio show. On this particular morning the burr in her panties was irritating her rearend. So she pulled up her skirt and scratched. And scratched. And scratched.

Jade is a Black female married to White man. She called the show looking for advice about  racism and a neighbor she perceived to be racist. If you have ever listened to Schlessinger, you know that she is not very tactful, especially if the caller does not agree with her. She is extremely judgmental and rude. Jade was in the midst of explaining her dilemma when Schlessinger asked for an example of the racism she had experienced in the presence of her husband, his friends and family.

CALLER: OK. Last night -- good example -- we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor -- when every time he comes over, it's always a Black comment. It's, "Oh, well, how do you black people like doing this?" And, "Do Black people really like doing that?" And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night, I got to the point where it . . .

At this point Schlessinger disputes Jade. The conversation starts going down hill faster than a bike with no brakes. Jade did not get the advice she was seeking. Despite Schlessinger saying the "magic word" 11 times in five minutes, that is not what caught my attention as much as other things she said. This made me to believe that Schlessinger had an agenda. She had to get it off her chest, or burst open from the pressure.

Here is an example of what Schlessinger said that got my attention more than the N-word:

“.... a lot of Blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-Black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a Black thing. You gotta know that. That's not a surprise. “

What did President Obama have to do with Jade's problem? How is Black people voting for the “half-Black” president a “BNlack thing?” Americans of all nationalities voted for Barack Obama, not just African Americans. White foks have been voting for White men since the beginning of voting for a president.

“Turn on HBO, listen to Black comics, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.”

Initially, Jade did not say the N-word. She said it after a station break, remarking about Schlessinger's repetition of the word. Jade did not call to be lectured about African American comics on HBO.

“Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any Black comedians.” Schlessinger's condescension erupts again, unprovoked by Jade.

“Don’t NAACP me!" she scolded Jade, who did not mention the NAACP.

Everyone can hear that Schlessinger is on a roll. She cannot stop herself. Her dark demons have taken control. She attempts to throw her own racism onto Jade's lap. The chip on her shoulder is growing larger by the second. By the time the show ended the chip on her shoulder was a log. In anger, Schlessinger hangs up on Jade, who would have to find another way to resolve the problem with her husband of three years, his friends and family.

Another kicker Schlessinger parted with: “. . . you know what? If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race!”

These are the words of a humorless White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and Skinheads all wedded to each other. Schlessinger’s suggestion was not funny; nor did her suggestion qualify as the tip of the day. Jade unknowingly gave Dr. Laura Schlessinger enough rope to hang herself. And hang herself, she did.

Schlessinger let a teachable moment slip through her fingers. She stubbornly opted to expose herself by questioning the “half-black” Obama winning the presidential election with the help of Black voters. Her disdain for an African American man having such power was apparent. As she said, “it’s all about power. . .”

She apologized the next day for her rude behavior and use of nigger. There was an outcry from her listeners. If she stays on the air she will travel this road again when "Freudian Slips" and "Mr. Oops!" invade her brain. You can count on this amateur's prediction.

Transcript from August 12, 2010

Dr. Laura Schlessinger
On Tuesday, Schlessinger took a call from a female caller during the second hour of her show and had the following discussion:

SCHLESSINGER: Jade, welcome to the program.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Laura.

SCHLESSINGER: Hi.

CALLER: I'm having an issue with my husband where I'm starting to grow very resentful of him. I'm Black, and he's White. We've been around some of his friends and family members who start making racist comments as if I'm not there or if I'm not Black. And my husband ignores those comments, and it hurts my feelings. And he acts like --

SCHLESSINGER: Well, can you give me an example of a racist comment? 'Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what's -- give me two good examples of racist comments.

CALLER: OK. Last night -- good example -- we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor -- when every time he comes over, it's always a black comment. It's, "Oh, well, how do you Black people like doing this?" And, "Do Black people really like doing that?" And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night, I got to the point where it --

SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist.

CALLER: Well, the stereotype --

SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist. No, I think that --

CALLER: [unintelligible]

SCHLESSINGER: No, no, no. I think that's -- well, listen, without giving much thought, a lot of Blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-Black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a Black thing. You gotta know that. That's not a surprise. Not everything that somebody says -- we had friends over the other day; we got about 35 people here -- the guys who were gonna start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. My bodyguard and my dear friend is a Black man. And I said, "White men can't jump; I want you on my team." That was racist? That was funny.

CALLER: How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around --

SCHLESSINGER: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a Black comic, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.

CALLER: That isn't --

SCHLESSINGER: I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing. Don't hang up, I want to talk to you some more. Don't go away. I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I'll be right back. After taking a commercial break, Schlessinger resumed her discussion with the caller. I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger, talking to Jade. What did you think about during the break, by the way?

CALLER: I was a little caught back by the N-word that you spewed out, I have to be honest with you. But my point is, race relations --

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, then I guess you don't watch HBO or listen to any Black comedians.

CALLER: But that doesn't make it right. I mean, race is a [unintelligible] --

SCHLESSINGER: My dear, my dear --

CALLER: -- since Obama's been in office --

SCHLESSINGER: -- the point I'm trying to make --

CALLER: -- racism has come to another level that's unacceptable.

SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. We've got a Black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that's hilarious.

CALLER: But I think, honestly, because there's more White people afraid of a Black man taking over the nation.

SCHLESSINGER: They're afraid.

CALLER: If you want to be honest about it [unintelligible]

SCHLESSINGER: Dear, they voted him in. Only 12 percent of the population's Black. Whites voted him in.

CALLER: It was the younger generation that did it. It wasn't the older White people who did it.

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, OK.

CALLER: It was the younger generation --

SCHLESSINGER: All right. All right.

CALLER: -- that did it.

SCHLESSINGER: Chip on your shoulder. I can't do much about that.

CALLER: It's not like that.

SCHLESSINGER: Yeah. I think you have too much sensitivity --

CALLER: So it's OK to say nigger?

SCHLESSINGER: -- and not enough sense of humor.

CALLER: It's OK to say that word?

SCHLESSINGER: It depends how it's said.

CALLER: Is it OK to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?

SCHLESSINGER: It's -- it depends how it's said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it's OK.

CALLER: But you're not Black. They're not Black. My husband is White.

SCHLESSINGER: Oh, I see. So, a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can't do much about that.

CALLER: I can't believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the nigger" word, and I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: I didn't spew out the nigger word.

CALLER: You said, Nigger, nigger, nigger.

SCHLESSINGER: Right, I said that's what you hear.

CALLER: Everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.

CALLER: I hope everybody heard it.

SCHLESSINGER: They did, and I'll say it again --

CALLER: So what makes it OK for you to say the word?

SCHLESSINGER: -- nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB --

CALLER: So what makes it --

SCHLESSINGER: Why don't you let me finish a sentence?

CALLER: OK.

SCHLESSINGER: Don't take things out of context. Don't double N -- NAACP me. Tape the -- (Schlessinger started to say double nigger . . .)

CALLER: I know what the NAACP --

SCHLESSINGER: Leave them in context.

CALLER: I know what the N-word means and I know it came from a White person. And I know the white person made it bad.

SCHLESSINGER: All right. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Can't have this argument. You know what? If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry out of your race. If you're going to marry out of your race, people are going to say, "OK, what do Blacks think? What do Whites think? What do Jews think? What do Catholics think?" Of course there isn't a one-think per se. But in general there's "think."

And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from Black-think -- and it's really distressting [sic] and disturbing. And to put it in its context, she said the N-word, and I said, on HBO, listening to Black comics, you hear "nigger, nigger, nigger." I didn't call anybody a nigger. Nice try, Jade. Actually, lucky try.

Need a sense of humor, sense of humor -- and answer the question. When somebody says, "What do Blacks think?" say, "This is what I think. This is what I read that if you take a poll the majority of Blacks think this." Answer the question and discuss the issue. It's like we can't discuss anything without saying there's -isms?

We have to be able to discuss these things. We're people -- goodness gracious me. Ah -- hypersensitivity, OK, which is being bred by Black activists. I really thought that once we had a Black president, the attempt to demonize whites hating Blacks would stop, but it seems to have grown, and I don't get it. Yes, I do. It's all about power. I do get it. It's all about power and that's sad because what should be in power is not power or righteousness to do good -- that should be the greatest power.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Board chairman Garrett Will Not Tolerate A Jerry Springer Type Atmosphere

Chairman Gerald Garrett
The Death Penalty in Texas: a 40-Year Retrospection 

Part 3: By Dorothy Charles Banks
Special to The Villager
August 2000

Outspoken, aggressive and volatile protests against the death penalty does not impress the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman Gerald Garrett, first appointed by Gov. George Bush and reappointed by Gov. Rick Perry. They take criticism in stride. It comes with the position.

Garrett readily acknowledges the recent rush of protests calling for a moratorium on executions in Texas, and the demand that the Board conduct business openly rather than privately. Given that trials are open to the public, Garrett counters the last demand with a question: "What is the expectation of having an open hearing?"

"I am not personally opposed to public hearings. I understand there are those who are suspicious of the process, who would like to have more insight into it. People have a different expectation of what can be accomplished. Quite frankly, what I get from other people about a hearing is an opportunity to come in to rant and rave about a particular case. Some simply want a forum to speak to a much broader issue, and to a much broader audience than 18 board members," says Garrett, whose term expires in 2001.

Appointed to the Board in 1995, Garrett earns $82,000 a year;  other members earn $80,000 each. The positions are full-time. Qualifications are set by the Texas constitution. A candidate must be a citizen of Texas, representative of the general population, and reside in Texas for two years before the appointment. The 18 members are appointed with advice from, and with consent of the Senate. Garrett said party affiliation is not a big factor in getting appointed, but Republicans tend to appoint their own, as does Democrats. However, he said there are some Independents sitting on the Board. Offices are located in seven Texas counties: Arliene, Amarillo, Angleton, Gatesville, Huntsville, Palestine and San Antonio.

The Board was recently called to task regarding the execution of Gary Graham on June 22, 2000, due to the Board's tendency to operate privately. "There were calls for a public hearing. That occurs fairly frequently in these type cases. I think people want to see the process. It's not so much it's being private, they want to see what we're doing in private. We look at these cases at night, in the wee hours of the morning, over the weekend. It's a process, not just a sit-down, eight in the morning, have a decision by Friday at the end of the workday," Garrett says.

Powerless governor

In Texas the governor has no power over the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Upon making a majority decision in a capital punishment case, the Board may recommend commutation to life in prison to the governor, whose power is limited to granting a 30-day stay. If the governor opposes the recommendation he can recommend in a written request that the Board initiate an investigation into the case.

Under Bush and the current Board, 146 criminals have been executed in Texas since December 12. Only Virginia, California, and Florida follows Texas in executions. Under Ann Richards, 51 inmates (18 blacks, 23 whites, 10 Hispanics) were executed from January 15, 1991 to January 17, 1995. The majority of Texans on death row, and those who have been executed, were tried and convicted in Harris (Houston) County.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has executed 222 inmates, with Gary Graham being the last until September 27, 2000, when Ricky McGinn was executed for the murder and rape of his 12-year old stepdaughter. McGinn said he was not guilty of the 1993 rape and murder, but DNA tests proved otherwise. As of June 30, Texas's death row is housing 455 inmates.

Garrett said when they make a decision regarding a condemned convict who files for commutation of sentence or a reprieve, the Board does not have a lot of time to waste  making a decision.

"The individual usually waits until the last day that we'll accept an application to apply. That puts added pressure on us to make a decision in a fairly quick amount of time. There are 21 calendar days that we'll accept an application. We try to make a decision rendered approximately two days prior to the execution," says Garrett.

"In the Gary Graham case we kept getting information from different people; different resources that felt they had information that was important enough to be considered. So I extended the deadline twice to accommodate the additional information," Garrett says.

He said they were criticized for making a decision on the day of Graham's execution. Addressing public's perception of the Board faxing and telephoning in their decisions, Garrett said they have a set "due date" to respond to an application. Board members independently review "this information and then on a certain day, we ask them to get the information back to Austin. It is sent back to us by fax."

Garrett said every decision the Board makes is open to second guessing, and interpretation of "being self-centered, being a show, not being well thought out. That's just a part of the business we're in. Our decisions are not always unpopular."

He said acting as one body the Board attempts to do what is right. Without emotions involved, they stick to the facts as spelled out by evidence. He said of the 22 inmates executed this year half of them applied for clemency. "This is clearly our most important responsibility."

In the event of repetitive applications for reprieves, submitted to the Board on behalf of the same inmate, the request may be "summarily denied by the Board without meeting," Garrett says.

Former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Morris Overstreet, said on Nightline,  "The problem with Texas is we don't have competent lawyers to represent indigent capital murder defendants. If we are going to have capital punishment then the state, the government, has an obligation to make sure that the system works, and the system does not work at this time."

In 1998 Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), introduced Senate Bill 247, which was vetoed by Gov. George Bush. The bill would have strengthened Texas's indigent criminal defense system. Ellis said in June 1999, "The harsh reality is that poor defendants get a poor defense in our current system. The have no lobbyists or natural constituency.

"It is a scatter shot, inefficient, and not accountable to anyone. If we are going to lead the world in incarceration and executions then we should at least make sure that defendants are guaranteed effective legal representation. I understand that Gov. Bush was contacted by many judges in Texas who asked him to veto the bill. Justice is on trial in Texas, and the policy discussion may have to be resolved in a courthouse instead of the legislature," Ellis said in a press release.

Only the guilty is executed

Chariman Gerald Garrett said his decisions are influenced by facts of the case, and information submitted to the Board. They look at the inmate's argument for commutation or clemency. They keep in mind that the man or woman on death row has been deemed guilty by a jury, and that he or she was not only convicted of a crime, but a predatory offense. He says in Texas "a lot of folk are killed annually, daily. Not every murder result in prosecution or getting the death penalty."

Echoing Gov. George Bush's stance, and belief that Texas has never executed an innocent criminal, Garrett said that is true, at least in the cases that he has been involved with. When Henry Lee Lucas, the self-confessed serial killer found himself on death row, the Board commuted his sentence to life in prison. Garrett said "there was enough evidence put forward to bring that (innocence or guilt) into question. The information clearly suggested that he was not in the states of the crimes that he was on death row for."

Lucas admitted to killing over 200 people in various states, but later recanted, saying the police provided him with crime photos and information about each killing. Loaded with that information, Lucas says he repeated it back to the police, who took it as a confession. Lucas was eventually charged with murdering his mother.

Garrett said he was in the minority when he voted for a reprieve for Ricky McGinn, who he favored "because I thought additional time to explore a bit of information was the proper thing to do." He said with Graham, the witnesses, except for eyewitness Bernadine Skillern, were unreliable in both testimony and memory. Some of them tended to be "flat out inaccurate."

"When you look at the reliability of the statements made, the inconsistency of the statements made, the weight went to the one who has been criticized. Interestingly enough, supporters of Gary Graham are quick to criticize this witness, but they brought forth other witnesses, and an individual who was 12 years old, whose memory is questioned some 19 years after the fact," says Garrett.

Continuing, Garrett says, "I think that one thing the death penalty opponents is accomplishing is they are attaching faces and lives to the people that are on death row. Crime and punishment is ugly. It's not pretty. Most people's concept of crime and punishment is guided by what they see on TV, where the problems are solved in an hour with commercials. That's not reality.

"I think what the opponents are accomplishing by bringing attention to the Carla Faye Tuckers and Gary Grahams is letting it be known we're talking about human beings here. We're talking about a set of circumstances that are unfortunate for everybody. When people start looking at that, they give it a second thought. People need to think once or twice abut their position," Garrett concluded.

He said the crimes committed by Tucker and Graham were predatory, not just two people shooting at each other, and one getting lucky. According to Garrett, a predatory crime is well planned. It is a brutal violation of another human being. He said victims leave behind families that are traumatized. "I think this discussion is good. Either you're for the death penalty or you're not."

Punishable by death

In Texas crimes punishable by death are: murder of a policeman, firefighter, combination of rape and kidnapping while committing a burglary or armed robbery, murder for hire, killing a correctional officer in an attempt to escape prison, multiple murders, murder of a child under six years old.

Garrett said he is not on the Board of Pardons and Paroles to wave the banner for or against capital punishment. He leaves that to politicians, theorists and people on Sunday talk shows, "because they don't have anything else to do. We have different reasons for getting involved with this. I have a very important position. I have to live with the decisions that I make for the rest of my life. So I stay focused on my responsibility to do the best job I can," says Garrett.

Asked if Gov. Bush should declare a moratorium on capital punishment in Texas, as did Republican Gov. George Ryan in Chicago, Garrett said, "I'll put it his way. If Texas had the record that Illinois has, half the people on death row have been found not guilty . . . if we had the same record like that, then yeah," says Garrett.

Since 1976, 12 convicted criminals have been executed, while 13 condemned men were exonerated in Illinois during the same time frame. Texas reversed and dismissed 11 convictions since 1979. The most noted death row inmate was Clarence Bradley of Conroe, Texas, falsely convicted of raping and murdering a white student in Conroe, where he worked as a janitor at the high school. He was exonerated October 1, 1990.

Political Tough Talk: Crime And Punishment

The Death Penalty in Texas: 
A 40 Year Retrospection 


Part 4: Dorothy Charles Banks
Special to The Villager
August 2000

Candidate Michael Dukakis 1988
Politicians talk tough about crime and punishment to get elected. Gov. George Bush, a pro-death penalty proponent, doggedly sticks to his belief that all condemned criminals executed in Texas were/are guilty. When George Bush, Sr., ran for president in 1988 he used the  heavily bearded Black face of convict, rapist and murderer Willie Horton to strike fear in the hearts of White Americans. One of his campaign promises was to bring back the death penalty, making sure it was used nationwide. In 1988 only four people were executed in Texas.

During a debate with Bush, Sr., presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was asked what he would do if his wife was raped and murdered. It was a question created to get a presidential candidate's stance on the death penalty as a deterrent. It was a political make or break capital punishment question. Dukakis answered honestly, saying  he had no proof that capital punishment was a deterrent to crime. 

Voters, the media and critics alike said Dukakis appeared "too weak on crime and the death penalty." With his wife being the hypothetical victim, women voters were outraged and incensed that Dukakis did not show outright anger in his response to the question. He lost the presidential election to Bush.

Gov. Clinton and capital punishment

As a first-term governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton appeared too soft on crime and capital punishment. He commuted the death sentences of 44 murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Clinton did not set execution dates for 24 death row inmates. His anti-death penalty stance lost him the bid for re-election in 1980. In 1982 candidate Clinton readjusted his thinking on capital punishment. He told voters that he would not commute as many sentences this time around if they voted for him.

After winning the governor's seat again Clinton kept his word. He set execution dates, commuted only seven capital punishment sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He did not agree to, or grant any requests for clemency. When Clinton ran for president he talked tough about crime and his support for capital punishment.

In the middle of his campaign for president in 1992, Bill Clinton stopped campaigning long enough to return to Arkansas for the execution of 40-year old Ricky Ray Rector, a Black man who shot to death a White policeman. News reports say Rector shot himself in the head rather than be taken alive by police. His self-inflected head wound was severe but not deadly. Doctors saved his life; however, doctors had to perform a lobotomy. Rector recovered. He was executed January 24. Unable to understand that he was about to be put to death, Rector asked prison guards to save his desert, a slice of pecan pie. He intended to eat it later when he returned to his cell.

Bob Dole, a presidential candidate running against Clinton, took a tour of the death chamber in California to impress voters with his stance on the death penalty. He vowed to push for laws that would speed up executions.

National clemency rate falls

From 1961 to 1970 there were 1,115 death sentences handed down in the U. S., 182 commutations, or one commutation for every 6.3 death sentence. From 1979 to 1988 there were 2,535 death sentences handed down and only 63 commutations, or one commutation for every 40.2 death sentence. Only one death sentence was commuted in 1994, and no death row inmates were granted clemency in 1995. These figures demonstrate that  governors are afraid of being labeled soft on crime if they commute death sentences.

Between 1984 and 1998, 33 mentally retarded death row inmates were executed. Their IQ's ranged from borderline to mildly retarded. Some of their IQ's were as low as 62, the highest being 76. With the exception of Girvies Davis from Illinois, and Reginald Powell from Montana, the overwhelming majority of inmates were from southern states; 23 were African Americans. Five were executed in Texas, more than in the other state.

Congress, influenced by citizens favoring capital punishment, brought back the federal death penalty in 1988, which was passed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Legislatures signed it into law a few months later. Fifty new offenses were added to the bill--all of them punishable by death.

SB 326 introduced

Senator Rodney Ellis
In 1999 Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), pro-death penalty, introduced SB 326 to ban the execution of mentally retarded inmates. It passed the Senate by a 23-7 vote. Ellis said in a press release, "As a supporter of the death penalty, I know that prohibiting the death penalty against the mentally retarded is the right thing."

Under SB 326, life without parole would become the maximum penalty for retarded offenders if convicted of a capital crime. The bill died in the House Calendars Committee. A statewide poll showed that 86 percent of Texans supports the death penalty for mentally retarded inmates.

"We do not execute children in Texas. We should not execute those that have the mental capacity of a child," said Ellis. "The ultimate penalty should be reserved for those that can clearly comprehend why they are going to die. It is time for Texas to do the right thing and stop executing the mentally retarded," Ellis concluded.

Johnny Paul Pentry, a White male, raped and killed a 22-year old woman from a prominent family in Livingston, Texas. She identified Pentry as the person who attacked her before she died. Pentry confessed to the stabbing and rape, and signed a confession. Reportedly, he is unable to read or write. Although he had been charged with a prior rape in 1977, he was released on parole August 1979. He committed the rape and murder of the Livingston woman the next month.

Pentry's lawyer appealed the case. It went to the U. S. Supreme Court. A split decision was returned in 1989. The Court said jurors "should have been able to consider Pentry's mental abilities as a mitigating factor when assessing punishment." The Court decided that executing the mentally retarded was not "unconstitutionally cruel."

Thirteen states stopped executing the mentally retarded in 1989 after the Pentry vs Lynaugh decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. Those 13 states are: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, and New York. The federal government also passed laws that stops the execution of the mentally retarded.

According to Ellis, "Compassion is not a sign of weakness. You can be tough on crime and show compassion at the same time. Executing the mentally makes Texas look bloodthirsty, not thirsty for justice."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Day of Absence

A Day of Absence 
Author unknown

This is the story of a little boy named Theo, who woke up one morning, and said to his mother, "Mom, what if there were no Black people in the world?"

Well, his mother thought about that for a moment and said, "Son, follow me around today and let's just see what it would be like if there were no Black people in the world. Now go get dressed and we will get started."

Theo ran to his room to put on his clothes and shoes. His mother took one look at him and said, "Theo, where are your shoes? And those clothes are all wrinkled, son. I must iron them." She reached for the ironing board. It was no longer there.

Sarah Boone, a Black woman, invented the ironing board. Jan E. Metziger, a Black man, invented the shoe lacing machine.

"Oh, well," she said, "Please go do something to your hair." Theo ran to his room to comb his hair, but the comb was not there. Walter H. Sammons, a Black man, invented the comb. Theo decided to just brush his hair, but the brush was gone. Lydia O'Newman, a Black man, invented the brush.

Well, this was a sight. No shoe laces, wrinkled clothes, hair a mess. Even his mom's hair was mess without the hair care invention of Madam C. J. Walker. You get the picture.

Theo's mom told him, "Let's do our chores around the house, and then take a trip to the grocery store. Theo's job was to sweep the floor. He swept and swept and swept. When he reached for the dust pan, it was not there. Lloyd P. Ray, a Black man, invented the dust pan. So he swept the pile of dirt in a corner and left it. He then decided to mop the floor, but the mop was gone. Thomas W. Stewart, a Black man, invented the mop.

Theo yelled to his mom, "Mom, I'm not having any luck!"

"Well, son," she said, "let me finish washing these clothes, and we will prepare a list for the grocery store."

When the wash was finished, she went to place her clothes in the dryer, but the dryer was not there. George T. Sampson, a Black man, invented the clothes dryer.

Theo's mom asked him to get a pencil and paper to prepare their list for the market. Theo ran to get the pen and paper, but he noticed the pencil lead was broken. He was out of luck. John Love, a Black man, invented the pencil sharpener.

His mom reached for a pen, but it was not there. John Purvis, a Black man, invented the fountain pen. As a matter of fact, Lee S. Burridge invented the typewriting machine, and W. A. Lovett, invented the advanced printing press.

Theo and his mother decided to head to the market. When Theo opened the door, he noticed the grass was as high as he was tall. The lawn mower was invented by John Burr, a Black man.

They found their way to the car. It just wouldn't start. Richard Spikes, a Black man, invented the super charge system for internal combustion engines. They noticed that  few cars moving were running into each other, having wrecks. There were no traffic signals. Garrett A. Morgan invented the traffic light.

It was getting late so they walked to the market, got their groceries and returned home. Just as they were about to put away the milk, eggs and butter, they noticed the refrigerator was gone. John Standard, a Black man, invented the refrigerator. They left the food on the counter. By this time Theo noticed it was getting cold. His mom went to turn up the heat, and what do you know. . . Alice Parker, a Black woman, invented the heating furnace. In the summer time they would have suffered through the heat if Frederick Jones, a Black man, had not invented the air conditioner.

It was almost time for Theo's father to arrive home. He usually takes the bus but there was no bus. Its precursor to the electric trolley, was invented by another Black man, Elbert R. Robinson. Theo's father usually takes the elevator from his office on the 20th floor, but there was no elevator. Alex Miles, a Black man, invented the elevator.

Theo's father dropped off the office mail at a nearby mail box, but it was no longer there. Phillip Downing, a Black man, invented the letter drop mail box, and William Berry, a Black man, invented the post marking and canceling machine.

Theo and his mother sat at the kitchen table with their head in their hands. When his father arrived, he asked, "Why are you still sitting in the dark?" Louis Howard Latimer, a Black man, invented the light bulb.

Theo quickly learned what it would be like if there were no Black people in the world, especially if he were ever sick, and needed blood. Charles Drew, a Black scientist, found a way to preserve and store blood, which led to starting the world's first blood bank.

What if a family member had to have heart surgery? This would not have been possible without Dr. Daniel L. Williams, a Black doctor, who performed the first open heart surgery. So if you ever wonder, like Theo, where the world would be without Black folk, well . . . it's pretty plain to see. We would still be in the dark.

Smoking Brown Bag Cigarettes

Smoking Brown bag Cigarettes

untrained fire-eaters
is what we were


smoking
brown cedar cigarettes
rolled up in
brown paperbags borrowed
from mr yancy's
grocery store


thrilled
we choked and
coughed as hot
flames roasted our throats
and tongues


tears stuck their
fingers in our
wide stretched eyes

we didn't care

we were
sophisticated
 playing
grown with our
skinny legs crossed
like big daddy
when he's smoking
store bought cigarettes


"what you children
doing under
this house of mine?"
grandmama asked

"you children too
quiet under there to
be doing good."


"she heard us coughing,"
peter said, choking on smoke

"we not being bad, miss grandmama,"
annie lee, my best friend said.
"we playing a game."


"playing a game with
our hand rolled cigarettes,"
leelee said real low,
a gleam in his
devilish eyes


copyrighted by dorothy charles banks

Monday, August 2, 2010

Night.mares 1 and 2

Night mares 1 and 2

I slow/motioned into your
revealing night.mare
seductively
dancing on
cellophane images of
a dissipating hero

Oh excuse me
I said dramatically
I have reason to
believe
this is my
self/induced
night.mare

I had no idea
our minds were
so synchronized

come, dance with me

our fourlegged dancing
halted in the middle
of a highstepping
Do.Si.Do and around
we both go

in sign language
I spoke in a steady groove
my brain and skin
cringing at the
100
sights and sounds of
me tearing apart
at the seams

you watched in horror
  

I pulled myself
together, ordering you
to perform the same explosion
or Do/Si/Do into
next year's night.mare
completely
Alone

without the benefit
of the latest
foot stomping music
 and me
encouraging you to
discover
who you really
want to be

 
copyrighted by dorothy charles banks 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Becoming One

Becoming One

I stood naked
in front of you
beads of perfumed
water dripping
seductively from

my body

forming ringlets
at my feet 
 and yours
you clenched
my waist
and I felt the

smoldering passion in
your hands
as you
seized my
own smoldering passion

I shivered in
sheer ecstasy
when your lips kissed
the palm of my
womanhood
 
making me a
complete
part of you
copyrighted by dorothy charles banks

Lost Time, Lost Years

Lost Time, Lost Years

Lost time, lost years behind me.
Delivered from myself when
I needed to feel whole and wanted.
My remembered years have
Distinct aromas and in-house scenes:
Pancakes. Crisp bacon. Coffee brewing.
Overloaded kitchen table. Homespun
Conversation seasoned with corny jokes.
Adults with radiant faces and
Loving hearts. Boisterous children
Protected from all outside influences.
Did I single-handedly parent
These jubilant days?
Were they mere keepsakes
With no authentic meaning?
My life is a daily rotation of emptiness.
Zero given. Plenty taken.
My mysterious past is traumatizing me.
What happened in the midst
My early adulthood? Lost time,
Lost years, why are you hiding?
Do you not belong to me?
Day after day I feel like
Mary with little lost lambs
Trailing humbly behind me.
I believe my lost time,
Lost years are very much alive,
Dwelling in someone else’s eyes.
Yet, they refuse to
Stay open when they see my face.
An old woman told me
In the summer of my hunt:
Your life was my life many moons ago.
I wanted to feel loved and whole.
Finding my lost time, lost years
Was important to me. However, I stopped
Looking the second winter of my hunt.
One day to my surprise, I found them on
My back porch neatly stacked and tied
Together with a single black ribbon.
A note said: “Open at your risk.”
I took a chance and untied the ribbon.
My lost time, lost years leaped out of
My hands when I touched them.
Was my grip was too tight?
Did my eagerness scare them?
I concluded they didn’t want me
To reclaim them if I couldn’t
Live with the story they’d tell.
After much thought I left them alone.
I commenced a new life without more
Lost time, without more lost years.
What I’m telling you is: Some
Experiences shouldn’t be revisited
If you can’t forgive the event.
Here’s a few words of advice,
Mixed with a little bit of wisdom:
Take the lemons you’ve collected
And make some sweet lemonade.
Drink to appreciating yourself,
To appreciating your new life,
To all the happiness that’s out
There waiting for you.
Sometimes it’s better to be full
Of cold sweetness, rather than
Cold bitterness about your lost
Time and lost years that won’t come
Home the same way they left.


copyrighted by dorothy charles banks

Nighttime Memories

Nighttime Memories

Like a rose
memories bloom and
mysteriously die
in the middle of the night
Only new made
memories will revive
the old ones
Momentarily
The old and new fuse
explode and
die separate deaths
I, like old memories
die a living death
in the middle
of the night
with thoughts of you
consuming me
I reach out
but you don’t
give me new life
you only give me
more of my
old life

 
copyrighted by dorothy charles banks

I

I


I am the forsaken child
that life plays
cruel jokes and
tricks on


the teenage girl who
hums the blues of
country and western singers
intermingled with the
torch songs of
Aretha Franklin
and other singers like her


my audience is curious owls
 sitting stoically
 observing me


waiting for me
to rock myself to
sleep like a new
born baby
in need of something
it couldn’t name


                                                            copyrighted by dorothy charles banks

Poor try at creating controversy where there is none when the president visited The View

 
The View co-hosts from left to right: Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, President Barack Obama, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd and Elizabeth Hasselback.

President Barack Obama was right when he said the media and pundits will strive to create controversy where this is none. The media, pundits and bloggers always develop severe cases of ass bumps when they hear the president call them out for focusing on daily trivia instead of serious news and events that serious journalists should concentrate on.

So naturally, after the president’s appearance on The View, Thursday ( July 29), many faithful critics said the President had disgraced the office of the presidency. Never mind that President George Bush was interviewed by Dr. Phil at his Crawford Ranch in Texas. None of these “critics” said a single, solitary word. Because they bottled Bush’s urine and drank a glass of it twice a day without question, they now feel they must scrutinize and question everything President Obama does. It's payback for sleeping soundly for eight years.

Immediately after the interview on The View ended, I read and listened to the critics. I was interested how they would spin the appearance. Not to my surprise, they did not focus on the serious portions of the interview. They proved exactly what President Obama has been saying. They created a make believe controversy between Snooki, a reality show player, and the President of the United States! They said the president lied when he said he did not know who Snooki is. He was accused of “dodging” the question about a screaming, intoxicated Mel Gibson. 

Hell, I did not know who Snooki was! I later learned that she was on a reality show. I have never seen the show.

Someone in the media dug up a video of this year’s press dinner, where President Obama, in his comedic mode, read jokes that someone had written for him. One of the jokes about tanning bed taxes included Snooki and Sen. Boehner. Reading a joke does not amount to knowing Snooki.  None of the gossip or serious news programs mentioned that the president was reading jokes written for him.

Lawrence O'Donnell
Lawrence O’Donnell, subbing for Keith Olbermann on Countdown, said President Oabma lied when Joy Behar popped the question to him about Snooki. He and his guest declared with a degree of unproven certainty that Michelle Obama did not take time out of her busy to watch The View like the president said. Perhaps they are close friends to President Obama and the First Lady. So they know both their schedules and habits.

Below is part of the script that focuses on the president:

Lawrence O’Donnell: President Obama took a little time today to enjoy The View. Because there he was, the first time a sitting president visited a day time talk show. Although then President Bush was on Dr. Phil, he did not go to the set of Dr. Phil. So The View can, indeed, claim bragging rights. And in our #1 story, the highlights, as well as the inevitable question: Why? The show was taped yesterday, touching on all the obvious subjects, and it gave the president a chance to do what all president do: criticize the media.

O’Donnell plays a clip of President Obama: The things that the media may focus are not necessarily things I focus on. I have to sign letters to parents of children who have been killed in Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is that the media culture right now loves conflict. And if there is a story about cooperation between the two Parties, that story doesn’t make the news. What makes the news is somebody who says something outlandish or as outrageous as possible.

On the Shirley Sherrod controversy the president broadened the blame. President Obama (another clip): A 24/7 media cycle that’s always looking for controversy, and oftentimes doesn’t get to the facts first, generated a phony controversy. A lot of people overreacted, including people in my administration. And part of the lesson that I want everybody to draw is let’s not assume the worst of other people.

Now various times throughout the show the president highlighted his administration’s accomplishments, and he stressed an improved economy even while acknowledging consistent unemployment.

O'Donnell plays another clip of President Obama is answering Elizabeth Hasselback’s question about the number of jobs losses prior to his taking office and now.

The president submitted to a lightning round on pop culture, including the question about if Snooki should run for mayor of Wasilla.

Laughing, President Obama admitted that he does not know who Snooki is.

The View fans were left wondering if there was any significance to the fact that all the co-host were dressed in black, and or white. Hummm. Let’s bring in the White House correspondent for Politics Daily, Alex Wagner. Evening Alex. Let’s go to the big question: Why, oh, why did the president of the United States do The View?

Alex Wagner: This was slow pitch softball, Lawrence. And if it was not a home run, it was a solid base hit.

Now the president lied about the reason he chose to be on The View, saying that he was looking for a show that his wife actually looked (at). Now isn’t this the old political tradition of just pretending the wife is some of....you know... fully... not loaded intellectually in character. Here is a Harvard law school graduate, Michelle Obama, at 11 a.m. in Washington is not watching The View. There is no reason for anyone to believe that, is there?

Just to clear up any questions the audience might have from our opening, he (President Obama) did acknowledge that he was aware that Lindsey Lohan was in jail, but he told that big lie about not  knowing who Snooki was. Snooki doesn’t fit into that category. Did he get the answer right with the false claim . . . obviously a  false claim that he does not know who Snooki is.

Alex Wagner: (laughing nervously) You know that was that tanning bed tax that both Boehner and Snooki were asking him to repeal. You know this Snooki thing . . . you know whenever Obama breaks out into a smile like this, his popularity goes up at least few points. And yes, he’s talking about the very serious side of being the Commander-in-Chief, which is writing notes to the mothers and fathers of the children who have been killed in Afghanistan... and you know he can’t do that and segue into that and say I also watch Jersey Shore everyday.

Alex Wagner, thanks for helping us get Snooki into Countdown.

O’Donnell, like his  gossipy co-horts, made three notable statements in which he attempted to create controversy where there is none. He had no proof to back the assumptions he made. The women on The View were not dressed in all black or white. Only Elizabeth wore a white dress. I doubt if Countdown viewers noticed the color the women were wearing. Whoopi had on a dark gray coat, white blouse and black pants.

O’Donnell said Michelle Obama did not watch The View, implying that the show was beneath her intellect. Again, he is trying to create controversy where there is none. He called President Obama a lie when he said he did not know Snooki. He offered no proof as to how he knew this for a fact. The president has stated publicly that he likes sports and a variety of music. No one needs proof of that. The president said it himself.

O’Donnell’s ass bumps were itching, and the only way he could scratch the itch was to attack President Obama, and his appearance on The View. That’s called trying create controversy where there is none.