How I’m celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

There is a light snowfall gracing Philadelphia today. The kind of quiet snowfall that brings with it an invitation for some reflection.

Saturday I got up as if it was a work day and headed to class. In a Villanova FastForward class, you attend once a week, and participate in mandatory activities online. For this class that boils down to a weekly timed online quiz, on Tuesday, and a new discussion topic to participate in each week.

Turns out many of my earlier fears were unfounded, at least for this particular class. There was a good mix of people aged from around 20 to around 60. So I didn’t turn out to be the old guy at the bar. And I did participate in answering questions from Dr. Pohlhaus, our instructor. Still, there is a required oral report later in the semester – I won’t be able to pull off my usual avoidance of public speaking. Scary, but this is good practice for me. That’s the only way to get better at something.

The course is required of all students going to Villanova – Christian Theology: An IntroductionTHL 1050-101. I’m enjoying the subject matter. Which is good because in this short running class there are four books to read. I’ve needed to reacquaint myself with note taking while reading, I haven’t hand written so much in such a short span in years.

Particularly timely is Stephen J. Nichols’ “Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us About Suffering & Salvation”. Getting to listen to Blues in class and talk about how it relates to theology is terrific. I lucked out in my first course. The music angle makes this easier for me – Heavy Metal loving, horrific songwriting guitarist that I am.

Grace, redemption, and hope from suffering, oppression, sorrow and pain.

In a way – I realize now that is the story of my mom’s life. It is the story each of us are compelled to write for ourselves one way or another. And it is a story that has written itself out in big strokes through history time and again.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Thank you.

And here is to tomorrow.

While I don’t look at President Obama as the miracle worker some do – and nor do I think things are going to radically ‘change’ because he is president – it does mark a new day in America and a recognition that massive change has already taken place. There is reason to hope. While some feel hope is a wasted emotion – I know otherwise. As does history. Hope encourages us to act and to fight for something better. We’re all in this together.


14 thoughts on “How I’m celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  1. Fear is the mind killer neo.

    One: Robert Reich is an *advisor* to Obama.

    Want me to fear and hate you for the things people who have known you have said or done?

    The proof will be in the pudding. The policies and their execution.

    Two: Reich was taken out of context. When people dig for soundbites and remove the words that surround them to provide them additional meaning and context – well I can make Mother Theresa sound bad if I tried.

    Here is Reich’s reply:

    Free your mind neo. Judge people on their collected works and writings, not one sentence snippets that the digerati – the pundits – those with an agenda to drive division and hate for their own ends – promote. Don’t let the cognitive dissonance they dish keep you distracted.

    There are plenty of things to get mad about.

    Robert Reich? Really?

  2. Karl – I’ve seen a lot of people taking the same shelter from what he said. You can feel free to see the entire hearing via CSPAN.

    His comment that is used in that clip starts around the 28:40 minute mark.

    I’ve seen people say, “it’s taken out of context,” The video is “fake,” and a lot of other stuff. I see people saying Reich doesn’t speak for Obama, anything that points the blame away from him. Words are words, and you as a songwriter know what that means.

    If Reich had replaced the words White Construction workers, with lazy blacks, you can rest assured his ass would be skinned by the time the press (and public outrage) got through with him. But he’ll get a pass because the “Middle class are too busy trying to survive to care,” as Mr. Rangel so eloquently put it.

    I realize what this clip is designed to do. I’m not stupid, it’s designed to divide. It’s purpose is to stoke racial hatred. Once you understand how the Elite in this world and in the US operate, it makes perfect sense.

    Reich can blame Rush, Hannity, whomever, this clip didn’t come from any of their shows. It was public domain since the hearing on January 7th, 2009. Regular hard working citizens picked up on this. And they aren’t happy about it.

    It’s ok, if their taxes go to bailout Wall Street, but screw them when it comes time to job creation using those funds.

    Here’s what I want you to do. When/if the job growth in the construction sector is given preference to low skilled minorities. And they get their training on let’s say BRIDGE BUILDING. And qualified and skilled contruction companies don’t get these contracts. I want you to pack up your family and be one of the first to cross over that bridge in your car. And when/if it collapses killing you and your whole family, then say, hey, it was taken out of context.

    I’m sorry that I have to put that visual into your head to make you realize exactly how serious things like this are.

    Or imagine, instead of Construction, the field of employment was IT. Would you still feel the same way?

    Be honest… I’d really like you to think about this and reply.


    – Neo

  3. Neo, he isn’t suggesting what you think he’s suggesting. Listen to the whole thing.

    He was suggesting job creation elsewhere – but he never suggested to hire alternatives to ‘white construction workers’ for ‘construction jobs’! That’s putting words in his mouth.

    Also – he’s talking about getting the money out *for* job creation. He’s specifically talking about that. And doing it fast.

    On one hand you say he is a proponent of giving more money to wall street and on the other you say it is about getting jobs to ‘low skilled minorities’.

    So… which is it?

    You’re right about what the video is meant to do – the question is why are you falling for it and stroking flames further.

    The infrastructure spending he’s talking about hearkens back to New Deal infrastructure spending. Do it fast. Do it with a minimum of politicking.

    People are hurting. Jobs are being lost left and right.

    That people want to play politics right now is just unbelievable.


    Hold the administration and Congress to account on transparency. Make sure Obama lives up to his promises on that score (he seems to be right now). And if so, we will – for the first time – be able to ‘follow the money’.

    That’s monumental forward progress for everyone.

    And if money is spent in a way that is bad for the country, or is in someway spent biased – we will be able to see it. Speak of it. Speak loud.

    So far – who knows where the bailout money is going? It *does* sound like some already well to do people are getting rewarded for their bad behavior. That needs to stop NOW. It looks like the effort will help do that.

  4. Karl –

    I never said Reich is giving money to Wall Street, please re-read my reply.

    Transparency is gone in the US Government. It died back in 2000, and people for the last 8 years slept through it.

    Why am I using Reich as an example? Because this is a unique opportunity for people like me to reach out to other people who still haven’t let up off the snooze bar. I’m actually spending time reaching out to people who are trying to use the race crutch to educate them into opening their eyes.

    I don’t need an explanation for what Reich said. I watched the entire exchange, I’m not just cherry picking details that support a cause. These words came from his mouth.

    As for the banks that received Bailout money, I’ve followed as much as possible (or reportable) as their exec’s took taxpayer funded vacations and retreats with John Q’s tax money. I watched as the banks REFUSE to detail where this money has been spend and what for. Remember the Congress and Senate said there would be transparency to ANY funds that were allocated? Did you honestly believe that?

    And now Obama wants another 850 Billion dollars.

    That’s about 1.7 Trillion so far by my count.

    What did small business get? NOTHING, what did homeowners that struggle (NOT the ones that tried to make a killing on the real estate bubble) to keep their homes after losing their jobs get? NOTHING. I’m waiting for a press conference where someone in the Government Finance just outright comes out to say “Ya’ll on your own, deal with it.”

    And Roosevelt’s New Deal from the Great Depression? You do realize of course that what Roosevelt did back then was unconstitutional right?

    Follow the money right? Sure, just like they followed the campaign funds that were untraceable were followed too.

    You know, I’m just so dumbfounded by you. Years ago, you were the type of person that would be questioning all of these things and not just “Gettin’ along,” to get along.

    What exactly happened to you?

    Are your eyes that closed?

    This isn’t ALL about Obama, this about a failing of a beautiful Republic (That’s right REPUBLIC, NOT DEMOCRACY) Jefferson KNEW this day would come, and people remain blind.

    This is about your rights, and the rights of everyone in America to be supported by their elected officials and be properly represented.

    When those elected representative are bought off by lobbyists who is left to defend the people?

    You wrote a song a long time ago that I still remember about Willy the Salesman, do you still remember WHY you wrote it?

    Do you also remember the Philadelphia Inquirer series about America that you had me read back in the 90’s?

    Have you really forgotten all of this?

  5. This is bunk, even if it is said all over the place – when we are young, we are liberal, and as we age, we become conservative.

    As a teenager, as now, I remain neither of these.

    I’d like you to consider just how much you are following the conservative story line and think hard about it.

    I tell ya what happened to me – I’ve realized that it is better to look at human incompetence instead of conspiracy as the root of many of the ills we face.

    Looking for conspiracies helps us dodge self-blame.

    The irony is that while you still focusing on them you’ve forgotten the one I used to talk about the most – which may still be true – that we are being marketed into ineffectual little niches.

    And it appears you’ve actually fully bought into one. An angry niche that looks down on everyone else as stupid, inferior, and asleep.

    Another thing I’ve learned over the years is how little I actually know and how much more I have to learn.

    Here’s the thing – Obama represents many – although not all – of my views finally being given their shot. And they may fail. But at least they have their shot now.

    I will speak out if he doesn’t keep up on his promises (there is one already actually that has steamed me).

    But as I’ve said elsewhere, he is nowhere near as liberal as conservatives fear and no where near as conservative as liberals will think.

    I *like* that. It may not work. People may not be ready for it. But its radical and it will piss everyone off.

    And in general, if it is pissing the pundit class it is a good thing.

    The pundits of the day hatted Jefferson, Adams, and Washington ya know.

    We’re agreed on this – the country – the republic – is near utter failure. It’s been inching that way for a while now and under the Bush administration it accelerated.

    If that recognition is me being ‘asleep’ – well then consider me among the many.

    There is a chance to hold the line and stand back from the precipice a bit.

    But people need to be given their shot. They need to work together. They need to fight.

    His administration is a week old and you’ve already declared it, and the country, done.

    “The Salesman” was about a person who bought so much into one aspect of the American Dream – working hard for some form of reward – that when he realized all was not as it appeared – he had nothing but pain. He sacrificed everything, but most important, his family, just to meet sales goals.

    Still relevant. Not bad.

    There was another song I wrote back then that was even more to the point – “Did America Die?”.

    A reminder about the lyrics:

    “Did America die? Was it all just a lie? Is the dream a lullaby? Did America die?”

    Lyrics I would scream at the top of my lungs.

    It was a question. It has yet to be answered. And that means it can go either way yet.

    And so I can still scream those lyrics with their original meaning intact.

    Not bad as well.

    Shit I was good.

  6. A reminder of when DAD was written – immediately after watching the 92 GOP convention speech by Pat Buchanan and having it click for me – the use of fear of the other to drive votes to win and keep people from uniting in any effectual way across divides.

    Tuesday I witnessed the exact opposite take place for just one day. There was a lot behind making that day happened. People *died* making that day happen.

    I’m prepared to be disappointed – and glad that I have the opportunity to be for once.

  7. What Neo fails to realize in his own rhetoric is that he is playing right into the Rush Limbaugh mindset. He *WANTS* Obama to fail. He will grasp at straws looking to split hairs with the words of others to try to make his point because Neo never wanted this person to lead our nation. And, just like any good conversative limbuah-ite will do, he will stand on the very platforms he mocked built by the progressives – remember when we all said the politics of fear the Bush Admin blanketed us with, when people like Neo would mock us).
    It is absurd and sickening to see ANYONE suggest Obama is trying to instill fear into people to support his plan. All you need to do is take a stroll down to your unemployment office and look at the lines. Take a look at the yellow tape around the house of a man who killed himself and his entirefamily over losing his job, take a look at the unemployment rates, climbing in every state and no end in sight. Look at growing list of companies either restructuring or flat our closing down. This isn’t politics, it is not one man or his team saying the boogie man is coming to get us. It is reality. All Obama is doing is underlining what is already smack right there in our faces. And I will say it blunt, anyone who thinks he is using fear tactics to pass a bill that may or may not help the problem is a FUCKING MORON.

    Neo, quit grasping at straws to acheive an “i told you so about Obama” because it makes you look foolish at best. If you choose to use examples, please use ones you can speak with some experience on. Bridge building, sir, is frought with so many regulations at so many levels, and there are so few companies that specialize in bridge building, it is an example without merit. Next, I will ask you to abandon the spin train you have been following probably since the Regan days, and think for yourself. Look past the mere words of what Reich said and realize he was using the “white construction workers” merely as the poster child for what always has been – i.e. the good ol boy network. He did not mean “We do no not want to hire white males who work in construction” when he said that. He meant we want to break away from the business as usual handing over contracts to the same people over and over again and give EVERYONE a shot. If you have ever bid on government contracts and/or have seen or been a part of that process, you would see it is completely unfair and biased and in some cases, criminal.
    Finally, you really need a reality check if you honestly think Obama is up there to hold down the white man with one hand and lift up all black folks with another. I hope you do have some common sense to see past that, if not, put your tin foil hat on and I will know to pass along because there is no arguing with a conspiracy theorist.

  8. I have a news flash for you Neo. The election is over. You can quit riding the “socialist” bandwagon now, the wheels fell off of that ride a long time ago.

    And last time I checked, nobody said Rush Limbaugh was not allowed to say what he feels. Free speech isn’t really free – there are always going to be consequences for things you say, and if you are willing to accept them, then so be it. But for someone who is the self proclaimed savior of the GOP, he should excercise more responsibility. To even suggest that the admnistration fails, is send a clear message that he cares not one shit about the backs of the American works that will break without some sort of plan. And if the GOP does not divorce itself from such asshole rhetoric from such a disgsuting person like Rush Limbaugh, what does that say about the GOP then? No wonder they lost their credibility with the American people.

    But you and people like you still absolutley amaze me, the contradictions and double standards that come out of your mouth all in the same breath, for me is literally breath taking. You sit and defend Rush’s statements “being taken out of context” but then the very next paragraph you won’t even consider that same platform for Reich.

    Newflash, I agree Rush’s statement was taken out of context, but I do not agree he sent the right message. Disagree with the Presidents plans, call them what you want, but don’t wish failure on anything because you are wishing failure on everyone. And as far as Rush Limpdick is concerned, he is another windbag that pisses, whines, complains, moans, while sucking on his big brown cigar dicks and never once offers solutions for anything he spews on about.

    If that is the type of politics you, Neo, wish to participate in, I say good luck to you. You are becoming a dinosaur stuck in the tar pits. Will see you in a few million years as a quaint fossil.

  9. It approaches cowardice when one refuses to make his view point public.

    Too bad you are unwilling to smather your banter that copies tired campaign phrases that have reduced figures like Sarah Palin to an airport lounge sideshow. The “Country First” signs are falling apart now. Time for you neo, to stand on your own merits and devise a debate based on your own ideas and not some failed spin machine that its parts are dismantled and distributed and sitting in such wonderful institutions such as the John Locke Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and working 3am stints on Fox News.

  10. Steve – Right… I’m a coward, which is why you haven’t sent me an email to start a debate that you will lose.

    I deal in facts, I deal with sources that you probably don’t bother to look at because you must know it all.

    What I AM doing is respecting my friends board from unloading on you like I know I’m capable of. If Karl comes back to this thread and gives me a green light, I’ll be more than happy to do it here publicly. But out of my respect for him I thought it would be more thoughtful to do it away from his board.

    I’ve been down this road on paradox1x before, and after the last time I promised myself that I wouldn’t muck up his comment sections with flame wars with ill prepared name callers such as yourself.

    You obviously don’t know a thing about me, my ideals, or my patriotism. You are simply following along like a good ol’ sheep to the slaughter. And the funny thing is you don’t even see the man with the club standing in front of you.

    As I’ve said, just let Karl give me the green light…

    In the meantime, my invitation is still extended if you have the manhood to bring it…

  11. I am standing right here. And isn’t it amazing you sit here contradicting yourself “I don’t want to start a flame war and respect my friends boards” yet you are doing just that.

    And there it is, because I do not agree with you, I am a sheep and unpatriotic. Spoken like a true chickenhawk.

  12. Hey Karl, that’s what I thought I was doing.

    I tried the higher ground, you’ve gotta give me points for that.

    I’m not going to take the blame for the birdseed that brings in the pigeons right?

    I listed an email address to take this elsewhere. What more can I do?

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