The Worship of Sports in America

Simply put, Americans take sports way too seriously.

How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Friday, October 26, 2012

What You Might Have Missed...The Third-Party Presidential Debate


 One of the biggest complaints anyone has with almost any aspect of the sociopolitical status quo in America is that the powers-that-be—namely those with controlling interests in the way things are—tend to silence the voices of dissent…or at least those voices in the wilderness we tend not to pay attention to. And one of the reasons I began this blog is to give an airing to items and issues in the news that are either overlooked, or not even considered within the context of critical (as opposed to ideological) thinking.
As an example, I cite the presidential debate from this past Tuesday. No, I’m not talking about the presidential debate between Democratic and Republican nominees President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. What I refer to is the lesser-known, barely-covered in the media debate between the third party candidates for the White House in Chicago earlier this week. The Chicago-based Free and Equal Elections Foundation sponsored the event, which was moderated by former
 Click on the video to watch the third party debate in its entirety

CNN talk-show host Larry King (See, "Third-Party Debate" for the background to this debate)
The event was arranged to counter the rules of the Democratic and Republican-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates that exclude political parties which do not fall within the parameters of their rules, which include:

Rule 1: The candidate must be constitutionally eligible to hold the office of the President of the United States. Rule 2: The candidate must “have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election.” 
Rule 3: The candidate must have achieved “a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.” 

In regards to Tuesday's debate, the rule that only parties with at least 15% of popular support was used to exclude the third party candidates. What’s more, it seems that many of us ordinary citizens are complacent with the way the two major political parties dominate the political voting process. The Green Party candidate for the White House, Jill Stein was arrested outside the venue of this week’s major political party debate when she showed up with her running mate, Cheri Honkala, to protest the Democratic and Republican virtual monopoly on the debate and election process in America. Stein was taken away to a detention center and handcuffed to a chair for several hours as the Republican-Democratic debate carried on without her…or any third party candidate (See: "Our handcuffed politics: What The Arrest of Jill Stein, The Green Party Candidate, Tells You About America").  And then we wonder why we have legislative gridlock at both the federal and state levels across the country…!
And if such efforts to limit the level of participation of those who would bring a different political view to issues, there is a call from some within established circles to streamline the process even more. Many conservatives during this year’s primaries complained that “that entirely too many candidates were invited to take part, including hopefuls who were consistently polling around 2 or 3 percent.”
What most defenders of the current electoral system don’t know is that some of our nation’s Founding Fathers were not only against the notion of organized political parties, but warned Americans against their control of the political process. Consider their words:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
- GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."
  --John Adams

Even activist the Tea Party Movement, which might have sprang from noble intents, was a cause (or series of causes) that eventually became co-opted by right-wing neoconservatives, and has become representative of the very type of candidates that they were trying to keep from being elected…purveyors of a big corporate government!
And despite the reality that some of our most revered Founding Fathers’ thinking on political parties assert the opposite, many political party activists make attempts clothe their contribution to the gridlock of our current political process in the notion that they are “the party of…,” implying some level of legitimacy or being representative of the idea of a real America!
When I think of the current two-party political system and the resulting political polarization it has influenced, I think of the of Thomas Jefferson:

Men are naturally divided into two parties,'' he wrote, "those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests.''

Ask yourself, "Where do you stand?"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Adults...Children's Worst Enemy! Conclusion

Forget the questionable (and often rash) decisions that young people can and do make—sometimes leading to tragic consequences. Forget about cyber- or actual in-the-flesh bullying that some teenagers perpetrate against one another. Don’t even think about the last time you witnessed a fight between teens in high school hallways. When you think about the safety and well-being of today’s youth, think about the shock-value inherent in the actions Jerry Sandusky and the whole Penn State crew. Or think about Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old Colorado girl who went missing for a week before she was found dead and dismembered. If you want to know the source of the issues today’s youth have to deal with, you needn’t go further than the nearest mirror.


Many so-called adults in America are simply bad parents! And while I know that questioning the child-rearing capabilities of many of today’s mothers (and fathers) by a man is the female equivalent of telling a man his penis is too small, many simply are doing a terrible job at raising today’s kids…the results of which we see as part of many a human interest story on the evening news. Take for example the recent story of Jessica Stilwell, the Canadian mother who recently made news by “going on strike” in order to “teach her kids a lesson” (yes, I know Canada is not a part of the United States, but I used this particular news item illustrate my overall point, which Stilwell’s actions illustrate). The frustrated mother, proclaiming herself to be tired of “constantly reminding, cleaning, and nagging her children” about cleaning up the mess they would make of the house daily, refused to clean up behind her 10 and 12-year daughters, videotaping the results of her refusal to clean up the residence and posting them on Facebook. An online article of the story at the Huffington Post supported the mother’s actions by reporting that “the results will make you want to pump your fists and do a solidarity dance.”
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Quite the contrary, as I read the story I imagined kicking my feet off in their backsides to illustrate the roles and responsibilities of responsible parents. This kind of lazy parenting and overly-liberal attitude toward modern child-rearing does nothing more but reinforce a child’s thinking that they are the ones in charge of our homes. I actually found myself thinking, “Who’s the child in this family?”
Today’s parents—due to time constraints, laziness, irresponsibleness, guilt, or stupidity—are simply too afraid to apply and instill any measure of discipline in their children, and the rest of us pay the price. As a former camp counselor for at-risk teens, I would see and experience the results of such questionable parenting up close and personal (I spent 24 hours a day, anywhere from 7-15 days at a time, sleeping, eating, and using the bathroom out in the woods for 2 years with these teens—I dare you tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about). I also saw how others in society are eventually forced to clean up the mess that other parents make when I was a long-term substitute teacher. Parents are all-too willing to accept any excuse for the behaviors of their children (a dubious clinical medical diagnosis, social trauma, or simply “being different”) other than the most reasonable explanation…they are simple not doing what they should be doing to raise children to be responsible adults.
No parent should have to go “on strike” in order to encourage their children to clean up. First and foremost, children should be taught how to clean up from the earliest moments they are able to hold a broom handle competently; I know that was the case in our house. My mother taught my siblings and I how to clean a house from top-to-bottom. In addition, she taught us how to iron out clothes (including how to align the hems in pants), and cook. During my stint as a camp counselor, teenage boys (and girls) would tell me how they didn’t know how to make up a bed because they usually had such a simplistic chose performed by them by over-doting (and irresponsible) mothers. If there should ever be a “strike” in a house, it should be the strike of a belt or an open hand against an unruly backside! Call it “barbaric,” call it “outdated,” but I’ve seen how spankings used in conjunction with active parenting works (See: "To Spank Or Not To Spank? Hell Yes!"). Back in the day, the police would pick up unruly children, and take them home to an expected meeting of hickory switch and butt by a responsible. Now in a perverse role-reversal, police are expected to jail parents who care about their children enough to ensure they aren’t a danger to themselves (or others). For the sake of any children that I might someday raise (and the nieces and nephews I helped to raise), I would hope that the local authorities would adopt an equivalent to a witness protection program in the event that one should decide to call the authorities on me for doing my job as a parent...and that's the attitude most parents and guardians should have!  And I’ve talked to many parents who quake in their shoes at the prospect of going to jail for administering a spanking to their children. In effect, their children are in control of the household, coming, going, and doing as they please.
The result is a generation of children who have little respect for adults. It’s one of the reasons an incident occurring at the end of the last school year in New York caught so much attention. Almost everyone remembers the story of 68-year old former bus monitor Karen Klein, who was taunted at the hands of disrespectful middle-schoolers to the point visibly crying. The entire incident was captured on video tape by others on the bus as it occurred.
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To their credit, the middle-schoolers apologized publicly to the former bus monitor. However, it took shaming on a national stage before they developed the testicular fortitude to do so. It also illustrates how little respect that today’s kids have for adults who, by virtue of their parents’ fears and ineptitude as parents, have instilled in them the idea that they are the equal of adults…which they are most certainly not! 
If parents do not do their jobs, they should expect others to take the initiative to do so. This happened earlier this year in Texas. A 6-year old kindergartner attending Salinas Elementary School, near San Antonio, Texas had developed a reputation for being a bully at the school (and it’s only reasonable to believe that the parents had been notified of their child’s status as a school bully). So his teacher devised a lesson for the class’s resident terror; the teacher had each of the “24 other students in the class line up and slap Neely one-by-one” (See: "Mom Says Teacher Had Students Slap Her Son").   Granted, such an overboard action has its risks, it also illustrates how society will develop ways to correct aberrant behavior in children whose parents fail in their responsibility to instruct them in how to interact with others. Sadly, the teacher was fired by school officials (you guessed it...I applaud such actions as instructional objects in the pitfalls of bullying).  We need more adults willing to take such hard approaches in order to teach life-long lessons to such kids who parents are obviously not up to the task!

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This is not to say that there are not responsible parents left in America. Some not only do engage in regular directing and responsible parenting, but they are not the sort who hovers over their children’s every actions in the name of keeping them from potential harm. Too many parents are raising wimps. They do not allow their children to explore their limitations. They put a bandage on every scratch and scrape. They are afraid to let their children do this or that without a suit of armor. As children, my friends and I explored every nook and cranny of our city…without relative harm. We climbed trees. We went to local ponds, explored abandoned houses (this was before they became havens for dope fiends), and always traveled in packs for safety. And our parents were well aware what we were doing.
But today, even when parents are responsible and aware enough not to treat their children like fragile glass, other over-doting parents tend to overact. In La Porte, Texas, a stay-at-home mother was arrested on a charge of child abandonment after one of her neighbors called the police because on the complaint that her children to play outside their mother’s immediate presence, which was not true. On its face, the case was eventually dismissed by authorities. The mother is in the process of suing the local police for false arrest (See:  "Mom Sues Police After Being Arrested for Letting Her Kids Play Outside").

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It's sad that the paranoia fear of other weak parents has to interfere with how another chooses to allow her children the freedom to be independent (and to grow).
If this was the worst the mother can do in regards with raising her kids, she could do a lot worse. Many Americans see far worse on a weekly basis in the form of parents who exploit their children for fame. The Learn Channel’s “Toddlers and Tiaras” and the “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” spin off caters to the lowest in decadent parental behavior. Such shows sexualize and objectify underage girls, and puts their emotional and physical health at risk for the same of fame…of a sick perversion of it. And the fact that such shows garner so many viewers is indicative of how far we’ve such as a society in how we validate and enable bad parenting.

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"Honey Boo Boo" from TLC's series of the same name

The bottom line was parenting and parents was much better back in the day.  When I was younger, playgrounds were covered with rocks, not padding. We weren’t mandated to wear bicycle helmets. We stayed away from our homes for hours at a time. There was an underlying element of minimal danger, but our parents were OK with it all. Parents spanked, and police would often collaborated with the dynamic. It didn’t mean parents were less responsible; quite the contrary, they were more responsible. We didn’t have courts, interloping social services organizations on hair triggers for any perceived sign of “abuse” (to which, the scope of what constitutes such has become so wide as to encompass everything short of yelling “boo”), or interfering paranoid adults who bring their personal judgments and prejudices into how others responsibly raise their children. Our parents weren't parading us in front of the world in order to gain the notoriety of an audience who couldn't give a damn about our emotional and physical health.  And we as children were definitely more respectful to not only our parents but most adults. 
We need to get back to the spirit of tough love in raising children, allowing them the privilege and opportunity of exploration in order to facilitate both their independence and growth. But at the same time, being cognizant of the need to restraint impulsiveness and disrespectful attitudes, as well as ungratefulness for having their immediate needs (not wants) met. And we definitely need to get back to the understanding that what you do in your house with your children definitely affects how the rest of us have to deal with your mistakes as parents!And this is something every adult can do, not just parents.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Adults...Children's Worst Enemy! Part 1

Over the past year, I have time again come across examples of young people—children and teenagers—making questionable decisions, and involved in questionable behaviors. Forget about the children I see in working with at-risk youth and their parents; I’m talking about those engaged in decisions which have become newsworthy human interest stories that illustrate a certain social pathology in behavior among our youth. What’s more, many of the questionable decisions I have witnessed children make today have had the tacit or explicit blessing of their parents. This leads me to conclude that the reasons today’s American youth are so trapped in an ethos of negative decision-making is due to the adults in their lives as both negative influences and as mentors.
Take for example 19-year Miami native Amanda Rodriguez. A day before her 17th birthday, she underwent the radical medical procedure—radical for a teenager—known as gastric bypass surgery. Watching the health segment on NBC’s Today Show from a June airing spotlighting Rodriguez’ decision, I decided to research not only her case, but those involving other teenagers either considering or having undergone the final-option procedure for weight loss. I was surprised to learn that something under 1,000 teens a year have some kind of medical procedure related to stimulating weight-loss in dangerously obese children.
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Granted, there are many benefits of this radical medical procedure for those young people who opt to undergo it, the fact that such an extreme measure is needed at all to address health issues related to teenage obesity—issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes—speaks volumes about how much bad parenting and by adults mentoring adversely affects young people.And the ironic thing about this procedure is that:

Surgery usually requires preliminary weight loss and then a strict postsurgical regimen of dietary changes, vitamins, and exercise. If the teen and his family aren't fully committed, the results can evaporate quickly or fail to materialize in the first place (see: "Surgery Is No Quick Fix for Obese Teens").

In addition, there are other possible post-surgery complications based on unrealistic expectations of the radical and often irreversible surgery, including an “increased likelihood” of nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, possible follow-up surgeries, and anemia. Teens receiving this surgery “must be committed to becoming more active and eating healthier for life,” indicating that there are life-long obligations and consequences of having to undergo such a radical means of confronting childhood obesity. The funny thing is that the same level of healthy and active lifestyles required after such procedures could have been employed by responsible parents prior to the decline of their overall health by simply monitoring their children’s diets…things parents are supposed to do.
 A superimposed photograph of a teenager from the 1950s and today.

Instead, we have a nation of parents who enable such deleterious decisions by their children by shirking their responsibility to directly parent to their children, opting instead to avoid the conflicts and tantrums inherent in opposing their desires. In the case of fattening our children, it should come as no surprise that many parents often reward their children with food for various reasons. In addition, many parents do nothing to discourage laziness in today’s crop of youth; I can’t tell you how much I have heard older teenagers whine and complain about having to actually walk someplace as opposed to being chauffeured by parents who have too-little time to spare for such menial tasks. Furthermore, we are no longer a nation of manual labor; we have not only become too dependent on technology, but actual work—especially that consisting of breaking a sweat of even minimal amounts of physical exertion–is almost unheard of. And then we wonder how is it that our children have become so fat and lazy…!  Our inexplicable addiction to watching the misadventures of “Honey Boo-Boo” anesthetizes us to the health-related dangers of over-indulging (and in Boo-Boo’s case, exploiting) our kids for whatever reason!
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And then there is the sense of morals—or lack thereof—that parents nowadays instill in their children. Earlier in the year, I was watching CNN’s sister network, Headline News when it aired a piece featuring a controversy involving former adult “actress” (although I think “actress” in such a context stretches the credibility of the word) Alana Evans. Evan was fired from her job as a public school science teacher after her co-workers had revealed that she had been an x-rated porn star. An administrator for the school where Evans had been fired from asserted that “her presence would disrupt student learning.” Having been a long-term substitute myself, I applaud the school district’s decision as a prudent move to avoid the distraction her presences would have no-doubt caused.
What I found so astonishing was Evans’ unapologetic attitude about her sordid past; she was literally a “working mother” at the time of her involvement in her former profession. She proudly defended her decision to seek out such work in order to “take care of her children.” While I agree that being able to put food into the bellies on one’s children is important, so too is what we feed their hearts and minds. A sense of morals and responsible parenting is just as important a contribution to a child’s upbringing as ensuring their nutritional and material needs are met.
My mother used to say that “all money isn’t good money,” and perhaps no level of questionable decision-making illustrates this notion than this (and other related) instance. The problem with being able to justify our actions, our responsibility to take care of our children is that it fosters a sense that making money is the most important thing in the world—no matter what the moral and/or social implications. This mentality doesn’t make much room for being able to look our in children in their eyes and explain to them that we were able to meet their needs in ways which don’t (or shouldn’t) foster a sense of embarrassment in having to explain one’s choice. And one can only think of the stigma Evans’ children would have to endure because of her ill-thought-out decision to take on a vocation with such negative social connotations attached to it. In short, just being able to house, feed, and clothe a child doesn’t necessarily make one a good mother. Yes, it sounds a little judgmental, but maybe judgments are what we need in order to become better models for our children. How many of us would really want our children to mimic our mistakes in judgment? “Legal” doesn’t necessarily mean “right.”
When I was a teenager, my mother took me and my younger brother out with her to farm fields to help her pick fruits and vegetables in order for us to pay our rent and utilities. She didn’t have to resort to such a morally bankrupt vocation in order to take care of us…and I have nothing but respect for her for not having to do anything she would be ashamed to tell us about. Bottom line, there are always options which don’t emotionally scar our children as we fight for their souls trying to raise them. However, too many adults don’t consider the consequences of their often selfish thinking when it comes to how we influence children today. And then we wonder why our children think it’s ok to lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want…!  It's because of our often selfish decisions as poor role models for teaching children that the ends justifies the means.

To be concluded...!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Election 2012 - Perception vs. Manipulation!

At the risk of favoring one pundit over another, I thought last Friday’s (10-05-12) segment of “New Rules” on HBO’S Real Time with Bill Maher provided an excellent analysis of reality versus perception (I know many on the political right cannot stand Bill Maher). If you count yourself among the number who cannot tolerate Maher’s take on society, politics, and personal observations for more than a few minutes, I have taken the liberty of clipping the more irrelevant parts of his weekly “New Rules” monologue and posting the more relevant portion where Bill Maher gives an insightful clarification of the economy…a reality presented by one side in the current election discourse.
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I’ve also taken the liberty of posting President Obama’s newest campaign ad satirizing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s declaration that he would cut federal subsidies to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), potentially affecting the noncommercial network’s hallmark long-running children’s “Sesame Street.” Granted, Obama’s attack ad is a little over-the-top, it’s also a tragically funny-as-hell illustration in how far political campaigns go to manipulate the public perceptions to the point of the effectiveness we see in Maher’s observations (and how many people embrace the negative).

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As I have reiterated so many times before on my blog, people...take the time to actually read, research, and actively think about how you perceive reality, not how your beliefs influence how you perceive it. Take the time to measure whether your beliefs and your experiences are in-synch with the way the world operates. Questions perceptions and propaganda, not embrace them.  In other words, use your heads, not your hearts or emotions!

Friday, October 5, 2012

African-Americans & The Democratic Party, Conclusion

                     
Continued from Part 1:

At one time in my life, I was as guilty as any other partisan type when it came to judging and basing my thinking on my personal beliefs rather than an objective observation of the facts, evidence, proofs, statistics, and ascertaining how my personal experiences mesh with the facts of a given situation. But, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, when I knew better, I thought better. I don’t subscribe to the belief that truth is always somehow the average of opposing ideas. Oftentimes the meeting point of liberal and conservative ideology is not where truth is…sometimes, some people are right, and some are wrong. But our reluctance to either see or accept this fact is what contributes to our perception that it’s always others who are “wrong,” and that our beliefs “represent” the position of the good guys. This is why it’s so easy for those identifying themselves as Republicans to believe that they are patriots who love America, while those “evil liberals” want nothing but handouts and want to see the destruction of “American values.” It’s why Democrats can view Republicans as narrow-minded theocrats who see no value in diversity, and care more about markets than people. And it’s why we as African-Americans tend to continually (and without questioning) ally ourselves with the Democratic Party after 50 years of only mixed results economically and politically, while ignoring other options.
And perhaps no other point speaks to the need to question African-Americans hitching unquestioningly to the Democratic Party wagon than our overall quality status as a respected demographic in America. One of the things which come to my mind is the effect that general Democratic support for some entitlement programs has on black families. Consider the 1990-era expansion of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is the government program which allows for government payouts to families—usually low income—with children diagnosed as being “disabled.” While this program helps some needy families, the problem with it is that virtually any diagnosis by a medical professional, especially those linked to behavioral disorders, results in a monthly SSI paycheck to address the “disability.” In reality, such supplemental income goes to families in order to help meet the burden of paying monthly bills and living expenses.
Additionally, such over-diagnoses and labels legally compels public schools—by federal law—to accommodate the “special needs” these children “require.” Among these accommodations is forcing schools to overlook or treat with “understanding” the disruptive behavior these children exhibit, which contributes to crippling the learning environment of both individual classrooms and as well as entire schools. In a lot of cases, the only problems these “disabled” children have are parents who are just too lazy to administer a disciplined hand at rearing them. Rather than a New-Age clinical diagnosis of a behavioral “disability” (such as “Oppositional Defiance Disorder…yeah right) and psychotropic drugs, the only thing many of these kids require are parents willing to place a boot in their backsides, and school districts not willing to tolerate or have their learning environments held hostage of irresponsible parents who threat to sue if “their rights” are not acknowledged. But instead, many low-income African-Americans are content with receiving "crazy checks" (as entitlements based on such mental/learning disabled diagnoses are known as in the black community), which reward bad parenting, and enables these children to misbehave and be disruptive in both school and society--with an "explanation."  Between this reality of the "learning impaired" disruptive element in our schools, and the general half-assed and apathetic parenting of other students, it's no wonder why teachers fail to make a dent in test scores or why they strike for better working conditions. More still, many of these children grow up with an increased propensity to physically assault just about anyone and/or anything that happens to get into their way, spurred on by their "I'm crazy" diagnosis. At the risk of using anecdotal evidence, my years as a long-term substitute teacher gave me a ringside seat to observe this reality of life in the ‘hood. The results of such Democratic-backed entitlements are parents who don’t participate in the labor market (those who are capable of), spurred on in part by receiving entitlement payments (for those whose need for them are questionable at best), schools forced to shift resources to special education programs, at the expense of other students, and an increased likelihood that families will associate the negative behaviors of their children with some form of mental impairment, in a sense justifying their behavior. Sure, entitlements have had a negative effect on contributing to the breakdown of the black family as a unit, but as a direct and singular cause, I can’t see how. Can we say that entitlements make young black men wear their pants down behind their butts? Does welfare force young black children to gravitate and celebrate the “gangsta” lifestyle portrayed in music videos and today’s rap music? Or why there are so many absent fathers? Granted, there are many sociological and social-psychological explanations for a great deal of these behaviors, but the existence of entitlement programs doesn't explain why, for example a 33-year old Tennessee man fathering some 30 children by 11 different women…
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No, entitlements are not the sole (or even primary) reason that the black community's allegiance to the Democratic Party should be questioned, but it is one worthy of consideration.
Approximately 70% of black children are borne to single mothers. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in the black community. Irresponsible decisions should not be rewarded (or encouraged) by the assurance that tax dollars will be provided to support a decision whereby the consequences of which were not considered (say what you want, but economic motives have a way of altering behavior; its why there are fines for speeding, and monetary penalties for late bill payments).  The Democratic Party's rabid promotion of female reproduction as a "right," even among teenagers simply does nothing to benefit the black community. 
When I think of all of the possible reasons for why the black community is sacked with absent fathers, why there is so much unemployment in the black community, why we allow so much crime to go unchecked (for fear of being labeled a "snitch"), I cannot help but conclude that the Democratic Party is the party of excuses and justifications more than promoting self-determination and personal responsibility. I'm definitely not meaning to imply that the Republicans are a better option, but maybe the black community needs to adopt a mercenary style of voting...selling our votes to the highest "bidder" as it were. Maybe if we start putting out indications that we will vote for who we feel not only represents our interests but will actually work toward our interests, maybe we can start seeing changes.  However, this is not mean to absolve the black community of responsibility for our socioeconomic ills.  For all the years African-Americans have given electoral allegiance to the Democratic Party, we have to ask what does it owe us, and what do we owe ourselves?