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The Real Al Sharpton

The civil rights activist, the radio/tv personality, the revered reverend, the best selling author, the voice of black America, the founder and president of The National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton has been a lightening rod of controversy for decades now. But ever since Barack Obama became president Reverend Al’s close relationship with him has raised his national profile in ways that even he did not expect. The positives are quite obvious such as increased visibility which gives him a platform to bring attention to specific areas or incidents of injustice, an hour-long cable news program on MSNBC (Politics Nation), a lucrative book deal for The Rejected Stone which chronicles his personal evolution from a controversial street activist to a national civil rights icon, increased visibility for his nonprofit civil rights organization the National Action Network, and a seat at the table when new civil rights legislation gets crafted. His proximity to power is envied by many, but there is a downside to being as outspoken and unapologetically supportive of President Obama. That downside is Fox News and the cabal of conservative media who are dedicated to destroy the president, his legacy, and anyone who supports him.

Every liberal commentator and political activist in this country should expect harsh and sometimes unfair critiques from their conservative counterparts. It comes with the territory. I’ve heard people say a vigorous debate is a sign of a healthy democracy, which is true. But there’s a caveat that says if you’re going to enter the world of politics you better have a tough skin, a strong sense of who you are, and a clear set of guiding principles that underpins everything you say and do. If you’re lacking in any of those, it will show sooner or later and the power and influence you thought you had will all disappear. The Reverend Al Sharpton has been in the public eye fighting for civil rights for almost 5 decades and continues to prove himself effective when injustice victimize’s the voiceless. There aren’t many leaders who have a 5 decade long history that sees their power and influence grow exponentially without being the real deal. Character, integrity, and passion aren’t things you can fake sustainably. That’s why all the hate and vitriol being thrown at him constantly over the years have never stuck and that’s why many African-Americans respect and revere him as a leader. Conservatives tried to block Barack Obama’s first bid for President and failed. They tried to stop President Obama’s reelection and failed. Now they are trying to attack Sharpton and marginalize the power of his organization, and they are failing at that as well. Their most recent attack came from Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly after the murder of an unarmed African-American teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri. The African-American community of that town expressed their anger and outrage through nonviolent protest. There was a very small number of people who used the protest as a cover to loot and vandalize local businesses. Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News hosts accused Reverend Sharpton of inciting violence and inflaming tension between the African-American community and the police.

Bill said Sharpton inserted himself into the protest to get media attention and no one asked Sharpton to get involved or for any help. Of course none of that was true and anyone who knows how to use google could debunk everything O’Reilly said with an internet connection and two minutes. For example, here are two video clips. The first video is Al Sharpton’s first speech given as soon as he arrived in Ferguson at the behest of Micheal Brown’s family. The second video is Bill O’Reilly lying on air saying Sharpton incited violence.

There’s not one word in Sharpton’s entire statement that anyone could misunderstand as inflammatory or a call for violence. Sharpton clearly called for peace and pleaded with the community to keep the protest nonviolent. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly never aired this clip and made a conscience decision to lie on air to their viewers. Fox does this all the time but O’Reilly lies over and over about issues that involve race. Here’s another video where O’Reilly lied saying that African-American democrat organizers of an MLK day event excluded white republicans from speaking. The day after he lied and ranted about this he had to apologize on air because the press called him out on it.

Bill O’Reilly has a very skewed racist view of black America and constantly confuses Hip Hop culture and entertainment with African-American culture. Al Sharpton invited O’Reilly to have dinner in Harlem at one of Harlem’s most popular eating establishments Sylvia’s. After the dinner O’Reilly told his radio audience about it the next day. He told them that he was surprised how clean and nice it was even though it was owned and run by African-Americans. He said no one was yelling profanity, everyone was nice and respectful, and the African-American’s eating there were well dressed and well-behaved. He was amazed by this. When talking about Bill O’Reilly I always go back to this story about Sylvia’s because it explains how he views African Americans. So when he calls our first African-American president and our first African-American attorney general thugs, and calls well-respected African-American civil rights leaders “race agitators” or “race hustlers”, we all know what kind of mind that comes from.

One of Al Sharpton’s most popular critiques from conservatives asks why doesn’t Sharpton talk about black on black crime. Why isn’t he organizing and marching in Detroit and Chicago where inner city crime is rampant? You’ll hear that one on Fox a lot too. I have to laugh every time I hear a conservative say that because it shows they have no idea what they are talking about. Al Sharpton and his nonprofit have organized rallies and marches in both of those cities. He held a widely televised town hall in Detroit and even temporarily moved into an inner city apartment in Chicago to see first hand what the impoverished residents were dealing with. Despite how easily accessible this information is, somehow it remains hidden from Fox and other conservatives.

Another popular critique from conservatives is Reverend Sharpton only wants to help black people, so that makes him racist. To debunk this first we need to understand what a civil rights activist is. A civil rights activist or a civil rights organization uses political levers to secure equal opportunity for members of a less powerful minority group. The key word there is “equal”. So if you’re working towards making things equal for every race, you are trying to give minorities the same rights and treatment as those in the majority or those who have more power. African-Americans are a minority group who have been and continue to be discriminated against because of race. So a civil rights organization or activist takes on issues where African-Americans aren’t being treated as equals (to whites). That does not mean you only want to help black people because you don’t like white people. That is just ridiculous. When we finally have racial equality then we will not have a need for civil rights activist anymore.

One more popular critique I’d like to discuss is why doesn’t Al Sharpton and his organization help out when a black person kills a white person. First we need to correct a common misperception. Al Sharpton and his organization do not get involved with every case where there’s a black victim and a white perpetrator. To get involved they look for instances where the crime that was committed has racial elements that lead to the crime or racial elements that have the potential to hinder a fair and equal outcome. I’ll use the Trayvon Martin case as an example. Al Sharpton did not get involved just because Trayvon was a black kid. He got involved because the district attorney in Sanford had no plans to charge George Zimmerman with anything. Check the facts and you’ll see that the D.A. hadn’t filed charges a full month after Trayvon’s death. Then the family called Reverend Sharpton for help. He organized protest and used his high-profile to get the media to pay attention to the incident. The pressure from media and other civil rights organizations finally forced the DA to file charges against George Zimmerman. So Sharpton and NAN weren’t asking for a conviction, all they were asking for was a fair trial. If the district attorney in Sanford would have presented the case to a grand jury (just like they are supposed to) there wouldn’t have been a need for Sharpton to get involved.


I wrote this blog because I thought Reverend Sharpton didn’t deserve all the hateful comments and coverage from conservative media. He is flawed just like any other human and has made mistakes in the past, but the people who are throwing slurs and criticizing him for being passionate about civil rights hasn’t done anything close to the kind of work he’s dedicated his life to. This man is cut from the same cloth as MLK or Kennedy. Don’t believe the racist caricature the conservative media has tried to make him out to be. Do some research about the real man and see what he’s about before passing judgement. We have so few national civil rights leaders left. We should be thankful that he is still able to fight on our behalf, even when his character gets called into question and the hate gets thrown. I’m not sure I’d be able to withstand that kind of scrutiny. So please do some research on him and his nonprofit group National Action Network and see for yourself. Don’t let people who have an agenda tell you who he is (me included).

President Obama’s First Debate 2012

The first debate of the 2012 Presidential election is over. Now the pundits and the American people are deciding who won.  Just to be fair I feel I need to let you know that I have been and always will be a very liberal democrat.  After watching the debate I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the way the President handled things.  I could concoct some kind of spin or rationalization that would diminish President Obama’s shortcomings during the debate and leave the impression that I believe Romney lost.  But that wouldn’t be the truth and if I go down that road I’ll become everything I abhor about Mitt Romney.  His history of misrepresenting the truth, flip flopping, changing his message to suit each crowd he’s speaking in front of (pandering), and spouting outright blatant lies whenever it’s politically advantageous.  But like I said, I can’t do that.  My conscience and upbringing just won’t allow it.  So here’s the truth.  President Obama lost this first debate.  Simple as that.  I’ll get into what this may cost him politically and if it’s as important as some might think later in my post.  But first I want to go over what I think were the President’s biggest missteps.  The first thing I want to talk about is body language.  I picked up on this very early into the debate.  Most of the time when Romney was speaking President Obama had his head down writing notes.  Romney was facing the President trying to engage him and look him in the eye.  This was a pretty big mistake for the President because it made him look passive.  No one anywhere in any country, business, organization, etc wants a passive leader.  It’s an oxymoron to even put those two words together; “passive leader”.   But let me be clear about this because I do not want anyone misunderstanding what I’m saying here.  I said it made the President “LOOK” passive.  Anyone who can remember Obama vs Hillary four years ago saw from the very beginning that this man is definitely not passive.  But in these kind of televised debates perception is more important than truth or reality.  Mitt proved that point time and time again.
The second misstep was letting Romney say misleading things without correcting him in the moment.  This drove me completely crazy the whole night.  I was almost yelling at the television at some points.  Here are a couple examples:  Mitt said “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.”  Which was a seriously bold statement when anyone with a calculator and a little common sense can easily prove that this is a lie.  An independent economist at the Tax Policy Center ( have shown that the price tag for Romney’s tax cuts equals about $360 billion in the first year which extrapolates to $5 trillion over a decade.  It’s simple arithmetic and for those that don’t believe me I included a link to the Tax Policy Center’s website where you can see it for yourself. 

Here’s another example of Mitt misrepresenting the truth:  About half way through the debate Mitt says “We’ve got 23 million people out of work or who have stopped looking for work in this country.”  It’s true that we do have a lot of people still out of work in this country due to the Republican’s bad economic policies under George Bush, but the actual figure is 12.5 million.  Not 23 million.  Here’s how slick Mitt manipulated the numbers to lie for dramatic effect in the debate.  He counts more than 8 million wage earners who hold part-time jobs as also being “out of work”.  Clever but still misleading? 

One of the biggest outright lies of the night was when Romney said “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.”  He suggested that his health care proposal would guarantee coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.  This is just not true.  Under Romney, if you have a pre-existing condition (such as I do) and have been unable to obtain insurance coverage or if you have had to drop coverage for more than 90 days because you lost your job or couldn’t afford the premiums, you would be out of luck.  I was born with Sickle Cell and the cost of my medical care throughout my life so far has been upwards of one million dollars.  Someone like me needs this pre-existing condition protection to get proper medical care.  So for people like me this is a life or death issue.  Watching Romney be so careless with the truth and exhibit such a callous disconnect infuriates me to no end.   Under Romney’s plan Insurance companies could continue to discriminate and deny people like me coverage.  This whopper of a lie was even too big for his campaign staff to stomach.  Immediately following the debate Romney’s top adviser had to release a statement saying that Romney  “misspoke about his health care plan including pre-existing conditions”. 

In my opinion someone who lies so easily has no right to become president.  Some people might bring up Clinton as a counterpoint to this statement, but I would ask them to think about what both individuals have lied about.  President Clinton lied about straying from his marriage.  Mitt Romney has lied about his economic plan, lied about President Obama’s record, lied about details in his health plan and misrepresents many other politically important issues that will affect the direction of this country.  Bill Clinton’s lie had absolutely ZERO effect on the welfare of the country and it’s people.  That’s why the comparison of the two isn’t even legitimate. 

Back to the debate; now the final misstep President Obama made that cost him the debate.  Letting Mitt Romney play the bully all night and gain control of the debate format.  It was very clear early on that slick Mitt Romney wasn’t going to abide by the debate rules that both parties agreed to prior to taking the stage.  President Obama should have seen that coming.  I knew even before the debate began that Mitt wasn’t going to keep his word and abide by the rules.  That’s just who he is.  Mitt Romney believes that rules and laws aren’t meant for wealthy people like himself.  His whole attitude and outlook was shaped by the privileged world of wealth that he grew up in.  He’s shown us this time and time again.  Remember the hate and disdain he showed for the 47%  who he deemed as leaches and lost causes because they grew up with financial hardships and work low paying or minimum wage jobs.  This man speaks a completely different language when he’s among his wealthy peers.  There’s no way he can relate to real Americans and he acts as if it’s a bother to even try.  So based on the 47% video, his economic disconnect and his history, the Obama team should have seen the bully takeover coming and prepared ways to counter it.� 

There are a few more areas where the President could have improved his performance but those are the main ones that ended up costing him this first debate.  Now, it remains to be seen whether this changes the polls any and that will be apparent in the days to come, but if we look at past presidential debates where an incumbent lost his first debate, we’ll see that it really has no correlation to winning the White House.  Here are the stats: 

DeMon’s Debate History Chart:
1976 Incumbent Gerald Ford lost 1st debate against Carter CARTER WON ELECTION
1980 Incumbent Carter lost 1st debate against Reagan REAGAN WON ELECTION
1984 Incumbent Reagan lost 1st debate against Mondale REAGAN WON ELECTION
1992 Incumbent George Bush Sr lost 1st debate against Clinton CLINTON WON ELECTION
1996 Incumbent Bill Clinton won 1st debate against Bob Dole CLINTON WON ELECTION
2004 Incumbent George W Bush lost 1st debate against John Kerry GEORGE W BUSH WON ELECTION
2012 Incumbent Barack Obama lost 1st debate against Romney ??????????????????????
So history tells us that out of the last 7 presidential debates, three incumbents lost the first debate but still won the election.  And an equal amount of incumbents who lost the first debate also lost the election.  I’m using this piece of presidential history to make a point.  Romney may have won this first debate, but it really isn’t that big of a deal when you put it into the proper perspective.  So I want my fellow dems to stop with the doom and gloom.  President Obama is still leading in every single poll they’ve taken in the swing states.  Romney still has to deal with his likability issues and he has to somehow try and make Americans forget that he wrote off 47% of the country as moochers and lost causes who can’t take responsibility for their own lives and they consider themselves victims.  That’s a HUGE hurdle to cross and 5 weeks is a very short time to do it in.  It’s time we own up to the loss of this first debate, then move on and find ways to help the president win this election.  Let this ignite our resolve and do whatever we can to take an active role in this election. President Obama is only one man and he can’t win all by himself.  I can do more, you can do more, we ALL can do more.�


Perplexed over Obama’s Choice, Rick Warren

I know I said I wouldn’t get too political on this blog (which is supposed to be a lighthearted look into pop culture), but I feel this issue is important enough to veer into the world of politics just this one time. I feel justified in doing this because the line dividing pop culture from politics seem to be disappearing currently anyway (sign of the time we live in I guess).

I’m perplexed over President Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren to do the invocation at his inauguration. Here’s a little back-story about Rick Warren:
He’s an evangelical preacher with a HUGE following. He has very outspoken anti-gay views. Earlier this year he lead the charge to pass proposition 8 in California, which repealed an earlier judicial decision to legally recognize gay marriage in that state. This homophobic bigot has also equated homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality in numerous interviews and sermons. Despite all this, his church boasts having the 3rd largest congregation in the US with a seating capacity of 3,500. He built a $20 million dollar student ministry facility called the Refinery. It houses the middle school (Wildside) and high school (HSM) consisting of nearly 1,500 students. He is most famously known for a book he wrote called “The Purpose Driven Life” which has sold over 20 million copies, becoming one of the best selling non-fiction books of all time. That’s what makes this man so dangerous to anyone that believes in civil rights, and the separation of church and state. He’s not some lone backwoods nutcase living out in the woods somewhere in West Virginia. He’s an opportunistic religious leader with the ear of white middle America. Whenever I would hear people talk about how polarized this country is, I really didn’t give it much thought. I chalked it up to media hype, and republican spin… but this whole situation with Rick Warren opened my eyes to a dark and glib reality. There’s a huge force of Christian Evangelicals that are growing in number as we speak. They want to impose their beliefs and way of life on everyone living in the US. And they think anyone that’s not straight white and Christian doesn’t deserve any rights or protection under this government. I’m sure I made my opinion of Pastor Warren very clear. So you might ask, what am I perplexed over? I obviously disagree with this man, and his perversion Christianity… so you’d think I’d be 100% against and strongly opposed to Obama choosing him to speak at his inauguration? …right? Well, not exactly… and here’s why:

When Obama announced his decision to run for president, I really didn’t know much about him. I knew he was a Senator, and I remembered what a great speech he gave during the Democratic convention back in 2004 when John Kerry was running. Other than that, I didn’t know a thing about this man or his beliefs. The more I found out about him, and the more I found out about his politics, I instantly switched my whole attitude about politics from absolute cynicism, to energized optimism. I made it my business to do anything I could to help this man get in office. I happily volunteered at the local Democratic office every chance I got. I wholeheartedly believe in this man and his ability to lead this country in the right direction. When Obama won the election, he said something that made a whole lot of sense, and it was so simple and so true, it made me think why haven’t I heard this before from any politician. He said that although a majority of America cast their vote for him, he still had a great number of Americans that voted the other way. He then went on to say that he’s not going to be President to just the “blue states” and all who voted for him, but all of America. He said he wanted his office to be as inclusive and diverse as our country is. That means that we need to listen to those we agree with, as well as the ones we disagree with. That’s what a true democracy is supposed to be. We’re still extremely polarized in this country, but ignoring a particular group just gives them more power and more of a reason to separate themselves from us. In a way it legitimizes their cause. So even-though I don’t agree with Pastor Rick Warren, he has very strong influence with middle America. And the way our economy is looking, we can’t afford to ostracize anyone.

I think we need to change the way we look at politics. We’re so use to the “status quo”, of how our government and elected officials operate, that we think that is the way it should be done. For instance, everyone has made such a big deal over Obama’s staff choices. He has women, men, Democrats, Republicans, Blacks, Whites, Asians, etc etc. He’s picking the people that he thinks are best qualified for whatever position. Previous Presidents have always picked only staff members from their political party, and family members, and even people that they owe a favor to. We’ve seen this happen that way for so long, that we’re blinded to the ugliness of it.

Ok, there’s my “two cents” (lol). In conclusion, I strongly disagree with all of Pastor Warren’s religious and political views, but I think President Obama made a wise choice in choosing him. He’s reaching out to a huge Evangelical community, and showing them and all Americans a lesson in love and togetherness.

Embedded video from CNN Video

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