Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Video: woman attacks Obama on citizenship

Congressman Michael N. Castle (R-DE) had a town hall meeting on health care. A woman at the meeting argues that President Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States, she demands to see his birth certificate.

What do you think leave a comment?

Dr. Wilmer Leon on Henry Louis Gates’ Arrest

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

On Thursday July 16, 2009 after returning from a trip to China, Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. had difficulty opening the front door of the home he leases from Harvard. After he and his driver struggled with the front door Dr. Gates gained entry through the back door of the home, shut off the alarm, opened the front door, and the driver left.

According to Cambridge Police Department Incident Report #9005127, a neighbor called the police and reported a possible breaking and entering at the residence. The woman “…observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch…” Her suspicions were aroused when, “…she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.” The uniformed police officer went to the front door, saw Dr. Gates standing in the foyer and asked him to step out onto the porch. Dr. Gates refused.

According to the Incident Report, after identifying himself as Sgt. Crowly and explaining that he was “investigating a report of a break-in in progress” at the residence, Dr. Gates opened the front door and stated, “why, because I’m a black man in America?” After supplying the officer with Harvard University identification, the officer radioed for Harvard University Police.

One thing that is not discernible from the Incident Report is the demeanor of Sgt. Crowly. All too often police officers introduce “attitude” into a situation with an aggressive or condescending tenor and tone that can quickly escalate an already naturally tense situation. When the element of race is injected into the equation, all too often a simple traffic stop or investigation by the police can escalate into confrontation. It has not been indicated by any of the reported statements made by Dr. Gates’ attorney, Charles Ogletree that Sgt. Crowly injected any “attitude” into the situation.

This gets to right to the heart of my point. As an African American male I have always been taught to show respect to the police, even when or if I feel that the officer is wrong. As a survival technique, I am teaching this to my son and I convey this to my students and all of the other young people that I engage in my lectures. My parents and other elders have always taught me, “an argument with a cop is an argument you will always loose…if you don’t get along with the police; you will probably go along with the police and that’s a trip you do not want to take. Even when you’re right, if you fail to comply you’re wrong. You’re objective during an encounter with the police is to leave that encounter in the same manner in which you entered it, in one piece. You can challenge the officer later in court. ” That’s “Black Man – 101.”

Instead of simply and calmly complying with the officers request, showing proof that he lived at the residence, and thanking the officer for protecting the neighborhood; Dr. Gates decided to follow the police officer outside and berate him in front of a gathering group of people. According to the report, “As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him.”

Even after the officer warned Dr. Gates that he was becoming disorderly, according to the officer, Dr. Gates continued to yell. “Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police offices and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gate’s outbursts…It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest.” Once Dr. Gates embarrassed Sgt. Crowley, in Sgt. Crowley’s eyes, he was left with few options. Sgt. Crowly may not have been right, but that was real!

If Dr. Gates ignored the warning and continued to yell, there are very few police officers that would allow themselves to be humiliated in front of their co-workers and the public. The police operate from legal as well as perceived authority. Once the perception of authority is challenged, in their minds; they have difficulty being effective.

With the number of people who had gathered at the scene, it should be fairly easy to determine who is telling the truth. I am sure that this will all come out in court or through another fact-finding process.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a 58 year old African American male. He is the director of Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research. As a Harvard University professor he failed “Black Man – 101” don’t argue with the police unless you want a beating and to go to jail! Has he not seen the arrest data? Has he not seen the incarceration data? Has he failed to learn the lessons from his elders that I have learned from mine?

Some of Dr. Gates’ African-American colleagues are saying that this is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge. Some believe that the arrest would not have happened if professor Gates was white. These points may very well be true and we all wish for and are working towards the day when racial profiling is no longer a reality in America.

In 2009 in Cambridge and in most other towns in America, even with his Ph.D., Henry Louis Gates Jr. is still an African American male in America. The lesson to be learned from this; if you don’t get along with the police; you will probably go along with the police and that’s a trip you do not want to take. Even when you’re right, if you fail to comply you’re wrong. Is this fair? No, but it’s real!

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer/host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "On With Leon" and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, DC. Go to or email

Not Black Trailer

DOCUMENTARY: "I'm Biracial, Not Black Damn It!"

Filmmaker Carolyn Battle Cochrane has recently produced the documentary I'm Biracial, Not Black Damn It!, a fascinating look into the day-to-day lives of multiracial people.

Here's a trailer for the documentary:

State of the Race: New Jersey (7/23/09)

This morning, Strategic Vision released the numbers from a survey of New Jersey. For Chris Christie, the results of the gubernatorial trial heat are another feather in the Republican's cap. But for Jon Corzine, they offer yet another ominous sign.

Christie: 53%
Corzine: 38%
Daggett (I): 5%
Undecided: 4%

Margin of Error: +/- 3 points
Sample: 800 likely voters
Conducted: July 17-19, 2009

Sadly, there are no attendant crosstabs, so digging down can only go so far. However, here are a few thoughts. This is the first poll since independent candidate, Chris Daggett was added to the questioning that Christie has cleared the 50% barrier. In fact, the Republican has not topped that mark since the calendars were flipped to July. To break through, then, and hit the highest point he has had throughout all the polling conducted on this particular match up since the beginning of the year is telling for Chris Christie. Of course, the flip side of this result is that, at 4%, the undecideds are at their lowest level of any poll as well.

But those sorts of fluctuations are why FHQ applies its weighted average to the polling results. Christie did jump (over a point) in the average to extend his lead over the incumbent Democrat to nearly ten points. [And incidentally, the undecideds are sitting right around the 11% mark when averaged. Sure, but doesn't that include the data from polls where the undecideds were over 20 points back in the earlier part of the year? Yes, but the graduated weighted scheme takes care of that. For transparency's sake, however, if we look at just the polls conducted since the New Jersey primary on June 2, that number drops to about 8.5%. In other words, still above the 4% we see in this current Strategic Vision poll.] If we look at just the polling done since Christie's primary victory, the Republicans advantage grows to just 10.5 points.

Christie, then, is ahead and comfortably so at that. But what about Corzine? The thing that is most troubling for the incumbent is that he is seemingly stuck in a rut. There has really been no movement in his numbers -- good or bad. The governor has settled into the 37-41% range and hasn't really budged. That tempts me to stop making comparisons between this race and the Brendan Byrne comeback victory in the 1977 gubernatorial election. At a similar point in that race Byrne, trailed his Republican opponent (Raymond Bateman) 53-36 among likely voters. Eerily similar, right? Yes, and even though there was only scant polling in that 1977 race prior to that point in July, the fact that Corzine has basically not moved all year -- other than his March swoon -- is troubling to say the least. It is still relatively early in this race (most voters may not be paying attention yet), but not as early as it once was.

Just to throw another number out there, Obama's approval in New Jersey in this poll was right at 50%.

CNN looks for different angle in Black in America 2

Written By: Shawn Williams

One of the biggest complaints that I heard regarding last year’s groundbreaking spcecial Black in America on CNN, was that it painted the African-American community with a negative brush.

Struggling fathers and mothers, Black women who can’t find a man, people in prison, the argument was there for the making. But it was also the place I remember hearing that White Americans with a felony have a better chance of getting a job than African-Americans without one.

This time, CNN is touting a solutions oriented approach with Black in America 2 that airs Wednesday night at 8 PM Central, and Thursday night at 7 PM. Without directly responding to criticism of their generally well received first attempt, marketing for the program has promised something more.

Last night my family and I sat down to watch the 40 minute screener sent to us by CNN. There were five impactful segments which were included:

The story of “Journey for Change,” a youth empowerment program founded by activist Malaak Compton-Rock
A segment on Black Marriages and one couple’s fight to stay together
A look at the Tyler Perry phenomenon and the success of his studio
Steve Perry and Capital Prep, a school he founded in Hartford, Conn. Capital Prep has mostly African-American students in an urban setting and 100% of the students go on to attend a four year college upon graduation.
John Rice, brother of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and his program which grooms minority executives
I was captivated by the stories of Rice and Steve Perry. These two young men identified a need and are working to meet that need. It’s a route that more individuals are going to have to take if our communities are to succeed.

The same can be said for Tyler Perry. For people like me familiar with Perry from his stage play days, there really wasn’t anything new here. But it was still good to see the model of a man not just complaining about lack of African-Americans on T.V., but employing African-Americans on camera and behind the camera.

Rock’s program didn’t strike me the same way, but some of the kids highlighted in the piece did. One young man (I think he was 15) was a tall and outstanding basketball player, yet when Rock interviewed him for the program he was barely audible. He constantly looked down and mumbled as he spoke, a far cry from the confidence he displayed in clips shown of him on the basketball court.

Similarly I was impacted by a young lady from Capital Prep who said when she was 15 her only goal was to get her G.E.D. and move into an apartment. How many African-American girls across the country have also set such a pitifully low bar for themselves? She’s now on track to attend college due in large part to her time at Steve Perry’s Magnet School.

I applaud CNN and Soledad O’Brien, as I did last year, for attempting to highlight the unique challenges that face African-Americans. I also welcome their decision to focus on solutions and highlighting those who are out busting down walls, myths and stereotypes.

It’s easy to forget that prior to 2007, a show like Black in America barely made it to the idea phase, less known onto the screen. NBC Nightly News kind of got it rolling in November ‘07 before Black in American in ‘08. Now show’s like TV One’s Stand in 2009 don’t not seem like outliers anymore. Now that we see a Black President on TV everyday, it’s easy to forget that just a couple of short years ago -before Jena 6- Black folks on television was a rarity.

I will be locked in tonight (after the President’s Press Conference) at 8 PM Central to support CNN’s Black in America. I hope it will inspire people to do more than just keep score, but to also get in the game and work to make a difference.

Hillary: ‘Defense Umbrella’ Over Gulf

Clinton Hints at ‘Defense Umbrella’ to Deter Iran


July 23, 2009

PHUKET, Thailand — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the United States would consider extending a “defense umbrella” over the states in the Persian Gulf region if Iran does not bow to international demands to halt its nuclear program.

Her comment, delivered at a freewheeling town hall meeting in Bangkok, was both a warning to the Iranian government and a glimpse of how the Obama administration might cope with a nuclear-armed Iran, should Tehran continue with what Washington says is a sustained effort to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Mrs. Clinton later said that she was not articulating a new American policy toward Iran, merely demonstrating that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon would not give it the safety and security it believes it would.

A defense umbrella in the Persian Gulf would move the United States closer to the explicit security guarantee that Washington gives allies in Asia, though that is a nuclear umbrella — a term Mrs. Clinton did not use Wednesday. She did talk about fortifying the military ability of Iran’s neighbors.

“We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment that if the U.S. extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf,” she said, “it’s unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.” …

A senior administration official also said Mrs. Clinton’s remarks did not reflect a shift in the administration’s policy of preventing Iran from obtaining a weapon.

“She is making an argument to Iran about why they should not do this,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because only Mrs. Clinton was authorized to speak publicly on such issues…

We realize that Ms. Clinton is desperate to get back into the spotlight. But she should consult with her boss, Mr. Obama, before she makes such statements.

She seems to have not gotten the news that Mr. Obama has already practically renounced any such missile defense programs, or even any “weapons in space.”

But we’re sure the North Koreans were fooled. Just like they were when her husband was President.

Mind you, this is the same smartest woman in the world who earlier suggested that we should encourage North Korea to eschew nuclear weapons by doing away with our own.

Coach K to Coach Team USA in the 2012 Olympics

We have already laid out our thoughts on the possibility of this occurring earlier, but it’s worth bringing up again because USA Basketball made it official today that Mike Krzyzewski was returning to lead Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London. For as much hate as he gets as the coach of Duke, we have to say that he has done a great job of rebuilding USA Basketball with Jerry Colangelo although that it can be argued that his best attribute was that he didn’t bench his best player (see George Karl in 2002) or select a squad that was horribly put together/too young and act like an insufferable jerk while coach that team (see Larry Brown in 2004). Perhaps the biggest impact Coach K’s return will have is convincing the team’s stars (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade) to return for another run at the gold medal. Team USA version 2012 could potentially field a team that is legitimately as dominant as The Dream Team (none of this ridiculous “Redeem Team” junk from this year) as the 2008 team’s core players will be entering their primes with the exception of Kobe. Here’s a quick look at a potential roster for London:

PG = Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Derrick Rose

SG = Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Brandon Roy

SF = LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant

PF/C = Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, and Chris Bosh

Obviously that’s more people than could suit up, but they would probably lose at least one guy to age/injuries (candidates: Kobe, Wade, and Jefferson) or might drop one of the potential PGs (likely Rondo or Williams). Griffin is also the other wild-card here since we’re forecasting his success in the NBA, but Team USA’s weakness is inside and it seems like he would be perfect in the international setting with the up-tempo pace that Team USA would likely employ even if Malcolm Gladwell thinks that style of play is a recipe for an upset. In any case, this team would be enormous favorites in London and would highlight a talent–recruiting–that was once considered Coach K’s greatest asset back when he used to simply coach Duke.

Speaking of Duke, I can imagine that the Duke boosters [Ed. Note: Does Duke have boosters? I would think they might have something more snooty than that. Philanthropists who happen to support basketball?] are not too thrilled about Coach K returning to Team USA although at this point he’s so untouchable that nobody would criticize him for anything. That’s where we come in. Conceding the fact that nobody can be expected to sustain the level of success that Coach K’s Duke teams had in the era leading up to his taking over Team USA, it is instructive to compare his team’s tournament success before and after taking over the reigns of Team USA.

Before taking the job:

2000 = 29-5. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Florida
2001 = 35-4. National champions.
2002 = 31-4. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Indiana.
2003 = 26-7. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Kansas.
2004 = 31-6. Lost in the national semifinals to eventual national champion UConn.
2005 = 27-6. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist Michigan State.
After taking the job:

2006 = 32-4. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist LSU.
2007 = 22-11. Lost in the 1st round to VCU, who lost in the next round.
2008 = 28-6. Lost in the 2nd round to West Virginia, who lost in the next round.
2009 = 30-7. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist Villanova.
Since taking the job in 2005, Coach K’s Duke teams are just 5-4 in the NCAA tournament and while he is still able to land a few top recruits (Josh McRoberts, Shavlik Randolph, and Kyle Singler come to mind) he isn’t able to land the guys who can put his teams over the top any more (see John Wall). The question is whether this is just a stretch of relative bad luck–nobody could expect him to pull in a Jason Williams-Carlos Boozer-Mike Dunleavy Jr. class every year–or if this is reflective of Coach K’s absence from the summer circuit. In light of the recent news of Bruce Pearl losing Josh Selby while Pearl was coaching a clinic overseas, we’re leaning towards the side that says Coach K’s absence is hurting is Duke program. If that is the case, don’t expect to see the Blue Devils back in the Final 4 any time soon.

Whitney Houston Lifts Off in New York

After bringing the house to its feet in London last week, Whitney Houston previewed her new album, I Look to You, in New York City on Tuesday. Everyone from Whitney’s mother Cissy to Martha Stewart to Dionne Warwick gathered at Lincoln Center to hear the diva’s first studio album in seven years.

Rumored couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz were on hand to hear the song they wrote and produced, “Million Dollar Bill,” played over the speakers. Alicia even whipped out her camera to capture the moment.

Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin File For Bankruptcy (PHOTOS)

Stephen Baldwin, actor and brother of 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin, is millions of dollars in debt and opted to file for bankruptcy in New York on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old filed for Chapter 11 protection along with his wife Kennya Baldwin. The couple owe more than $2.3 million; $1.2 million on two mortgages against their 1.4 acre New York property on the west shore of the Hudson River, and $1 million in back taxes. There is also credit card debt according to court documents.

The actor describes himself as a born-again Christian and recently did stints on Celebrity Apprentice and the 2009 summer reality show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! that took place in the Costa Rican jungle. He currently hosts a Saturday Christian talk radio show on Xtreme Radio called Baldwin-McCullough that airs on 195 stations across the country.

Why Are They So Biased?

Last week Sally Lehrman published an interesting op-ed, titled “Why are people of color presumed biased, and we are not?“ in the Oakland Tribune. Here are some excerpts.

On the first day of the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, one senator after another demanded assurances the judge would not allow her background to influence her decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, decried anyone “who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision in favor of or against parties before the court.”

It’s certainly fair to demand that members of the high court set aside personal politics and prejudice in their deliberations. But it seems odd to me that a series of white men can so easily assume themselves and everyone who looks like them to be impartial — and, at the same time, conclude someone of a different background would inevitably make tainted decisions.

Unfortunately, though, it is an all-too-common instinct. In every field, it seems, people from underrepresented groups must prove themselves able to transcend their identity. “A person of color is immediately suspected of bringing bias and perspective into their decisions,” observes Luis Fraga, a political scientist at the University of Washington.

Peer reviewers search for distortion in the research of scholars of color. Editors press minority journalists to see whether they can fairly cover their own people. But those of us who are white enjoy a great privilege instead — our objectivity is presumed.We would do well to follow Sotomayor’s advice — that is, to pay attention to the lenses through which we see the world. In the oft-quoted 2001 speech at UC Berkeley, Sotomayor said that personal history can make someone wise. Again in the hearing Tuesday, Sotomayor acknowledged her own life story as a Latina can shape her reactions. But in both situations, she did not stop there. She clearly pointed to the need for judges to examine those feelings and, as she put it Tuesday, “accept that they may not be appropriate.”

* * *

But white people rarely have to think about the ways in which our cultural and social experience of skin color affects us. We are not called to do so — both our majority status and messages from institutions such as the media and medicine feed the assumption we have no special perspectives, that our truth is the “real” truth.

Mainstream news outlets commonly present white perspectives as if they were representative. . . .

Life experience matters. In fact, the whole field of cognitive and experiential psychology is based on that concept: “Almost every result we have shows that (it matters) in some way,” says Harvard University experimental psychologist [and Situationist contributor] Mahzarin Banaji.

Unfortunately, white men and women often close our eyes to this fact when it comes to the impact of our own race on our own decisions. As Fraga says, with her insistence that identity shapes perception, Sotomayor rightly “requires all of us to take a deep look in the mirror.”

Investigators want more info from Jackson doc

Investigators trying to figure out what killed Michael Jackson are looking for additional information from the doctor who tended to him as he was dying.

Edward Chernoff, who represents the physician Conrad Murray, posted a statement on his law firm's Web site late Tuesday saying investigators from the Los Angeles County coroner's office have asked for medical records in addition to those already provided by Murray.

"The coroner wants to clear up the cause of death; we share that goal," Chernoff said in his statement. "Based on Dr. Murray's minute-by-minute and item-by-item description of Michael Jackson's last days, he should not be a target of criminal charges."

Murray has emerged as a central figure in the investigation into Jackson's death. The doctor, who had been recently hired by Jackson, was with him in his mansion and tried to revive him.

Although Chernoff has said the doctor didn't give the pop star any drugs that contributed to his death, Murray has nonetheless received attention from those angry over the singer's death.

"Dr. Murray was the last doctor standing when Michael Jackson died and it seems all the fury is directed toward him," Chernoff said. "Dr. Murray is frustrated by negative and often erroneous media reports, he has to walk around 24-7 with a bodyguard. He can't operate his practice. He can't go to work because he is harassed no matter where he goes."

Investigators found the powerful anesthetic propofol in Jackson's home, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. The person is not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. The officials are working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and California attorney general's office to determine how the medications got there.

Police detectives have already spoken to Murray twice — once immediately after the singer's death and again two days later. Police investigators say Murray is cooperating in their investigation.

A cause of death has yet to be determined for the pop star. The coroner's office is expecting to release autopsy results next week.

Chernoff's spokeswoman Miranda Sevcik said the interview with coroner's investigators might happen Friday. Murray is currently in Las Vegas, where he has a medical office, she said, and Chernoff would be speaking to investigators without the doctor being present.