Saturday, September 20, 2008

If twice you succeed, why not try again

Where else but Florida, home of the 2000 stolen presidential election, that once again GOP shadiness is afoot.

NPR reported Friday that registered Democrats have received mailings from the Republican National Committee, informing them that records show that they are registered Republicans. Of course, this isn't the case, and of course, RNC officials deny everything but that the other party registered folk received the wrong mailing.

Warning to Floridians, and everyone else -- don't open any mailing from either party. If you applied for an absentee ballot, make sure that it is official. If you are not sure, then go to your local secretary of state office for verification.

Remember, the GOP have done this twice before, and they are not beyond thinking along these cheating lines again in order to suppress voter turnout.

Stay forewarned and former vigilant.

In other related news . . . The McCain-Palin "traveling salvation show" swept through Minnesota Friday, speaking to 10,000 at a Blaine airport hanger. A 16-vehicle motorcade carried the two to the same folk they are used to speaking to.

McCain has yet to swing through the Black community here, as opposed to his opponent Barack Obama, who has. Instead the GOP running mates, who seemed now joined at the hip, speaks to suburban and rural crowds, steering way clear of urban areas.

It's keeping with McCain's "Country First" theme.

Again, be forewarned and forever vigilant.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Save Troy Davis

Following is my interview with Troy Davis, who is scheduled for execution on Sept. 23 unless the Georgia Parole Board changes its mind, from May, 2007, and later published in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (

Troy Anthony Davis was all set to join the U.S. military. Instead, he has been locked up in a Georgia prison for almost two decades.
Davis was convicted and condemned to die in 1991 for killing a Savannah, Ga. police officer. After having exhausted his appeals, Davis was scheduled to die by lethal injection July 17th until the Georgia parole board granted him a 90-day stay of execution for “evaluating and analyzing the evidence provided during the board appointment.”
After he was sentenced, seven of nine witnesses who testified in his trial that he shot Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989 have recanted their testimonies and now say Davis did not shoot the police officer. Davis all along has contended that he is innocent of the crime.
Davis and a group of friends were outside a Greyhound bus station in Savannah, where a man was getting beat up on by Sylvester Coles. After being told by Coles to get away while trying to break it up, Davis and a friend then left the scene.
McPhail, who was off-duty at the time, then came over to offer assistance, and was shot twice. He was White.
A few days later, Davis was out of town preparing to join the Marines, when family members called and told him that he was wanted for the shooting. Davis then turned himself in. Two years later, he was convicted and has been on Georgia death row ever since.
In an exclusive interview in May, MSR asked Davis several questions. The following are his unedited responses:

MSR: Troy, explain how have you kept your composure, patience, sanity, etc. during almost two decades of maintaining your innocence?
TD: I have been able to remain positive and keep my composure due to having a strong family and truly believing that my innocence has to come to light somehow. My mother raised us to believe in God so I asked God to keep me safe and help me prove my innocence. It hasn’t been an easy road trying to be patient, but I am a strong minded person. I see so many traumas, sadness, fear and many other emotions in the other death row inmates, and hatred from some of the people that work here.

MSR: Throughout the entire ordeal, why hasn’t the authorities heard your side of the story?
TD: The authorities wanted to find a cop killer. Once Sylvester Coles (who testified against him) and his lawyer pointed the finger at me, they made a secret deal agreeing not to charge him if Sylvester (Red) gave them what they wanted. They took his word at face value and thought it was an open and shut case. In order for the authorities to even entertain my side of the story, they would have to admit to lies, coercion, unethical conduct and threats they made to me.

Soon after the McPhail shooting, Coles and his lawyer went to the police and made a statement exonerating him and implicating Davis as the gunman. During the trial, Coles admitted that he carried a .38 caliber handgun, the same type of gun used in the shooting. However, investigators never found the murder weapon.

MSR: Did you do anything to Sylvester Coles that you would think spur him to falsely accuse you?
TD: I have never done anything to Sylvester Coles (Red). Red always has been a very mean spirited person, who felt as if guns were his power. I am assuming he thought I might snitch on him because he had the gun, and he was attacking that man, so he ran to the police station a few hours after the shooting with a lawyer and pointed the finger at me. I did not even know anyone was shot, especially a policeman until my family told me I was on the news.

MSR: Anything that I didn’t ask that you wish to talk about?
TD: The incident started for me when I tried to stop Red from pistol whipping and attacking a homeless man over a can of beer. The man was struck by a left-handed attacker, as he testified. I am right handed.
I want people to know, I voluntarily turned myself in, once I knew I was suspected of the murder. I had nothing to hide and I thought by telling the truth I would be released. Once at the police station, the only question was, “Tell us where the gun is and make it easy on yourself.” In their minds, I was already guilty and convicted. They never asked me what happened that night, and from then on my life and the life of my family was forever changed.
My prayers go out sincerely to Mr. McPhail’s family. They hate me because of lies but until a court agrees to view all the new real evidence of what happened, they’ll never know the truth. They deserve justice. Just like I do.
I refuse to hate those who stole my life from me because that is not who I am. I am angry that I have missed so much of my life and my family’s life. I have missed my father’s funeral.
I just want my freedom back. I want justice once and for all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vikings coach bailed out

Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress caved in worse than a house of cards by benching starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. This bail out is nothing compared to what the federal government recently did with ING and the Mae's, but the head coach's action tells you something about the man.

His word is about as good as a three-dollar bill.

All off season long, Childress told the world that Jackson was his QB. Then two games into the 2008 season, the coach pulled the starting rug right from under the young man's feet. Instead, Childress names journeyman Gus Freotte as starter for the remainder of the season, much to the delight of Vikings fans, and more importantly, the Twin Cities media.

Jackson's vote of confidence from Childress lasted all but two games and barely 48 hours.

Childress cowardly bowed to media pressure, many of whom never was high on Jackson in the first place. Now they can go around with dislocated shoulders from all the back patting they're doing.

These media second-guessers or every morning quarterbacks essentially forced Childress to switch quarterbacks, and the coach responded in kind. He sent a clear message that whenever the Twin Cities scribes say jump, Childress doesn't ask how high, but instead just bends over and start kissing their feet. It's easy for him to do that because based on his latest decision, Childress has no backbone.

It's common knowledge that pro quarterbacks usually take longer to develop, learning to correctly read the myriad of defensive schemes thrown at them, which are not seen during their college days. There has been few QBs who have come into the NFL that prepared.

The brothers Manning struggled before they got the right offensive line, backfield and the right coaching and tutorage to properly mold them into their now great selves.

Should we attribute Jackson's struggles to the same? I would, but most of the local scribes would beg to differ. Did Jackson play all 22 positions in the two Minnesota losses? No.

Is he solely the blame for the defeats? Depending on who is asked, will determine the answer to this question.

If you ask the local scribes, they'd say yes. If you ask Vikings fans, they'd say yes.

If you ask a head coach who months previous said that Jackson was his man through think and thin, that he'd back him all the way, Childress' recent actions also would say yes.

I feel for Jackson, not that he lost his starting job, but how again can he trust the head coach, now knowing that when the heat is on, Childress is outta there looking for cover.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stay away from anti-Obama book site

The Republican National Committee on Tuesday launched new "friend updates" on its slam Barack web sit (actually called BarackBook).

It links Obama with Alaska state senator Hollis French, who according to the RNC is connected with special council Steve Branchflower, who is investigating Gov. Sarah Palin.

Give it to the RNC to spin it in their own way, making you think that Obama has something to do with Palin being investigated on allegations that she tried to have someone fired because that someone wouldn't fire her former brother-in-law.

Of course, this isn't the truth, but when have the Republicans allowed truth to get in the way.

If Palin is innocent, or not guilty, then let it be shown. If she is guilty, then let that be shown as well -- between now and Election Day.

This is more important than than propaganda tactics that the GOP love using.

Stay away from their book on Obama -- it isn't friendly and more likely, isn't true. You want the truth, check out, a non-partisan web site dedicated to examine what each candidate is saying. Thus far, it has been finding out that John McCain's nose has been growing just as long as the RNC's list of mistruths in this campaign.

That's what it is even more important to vote. If you're not registered, get registered.

If you need an absentee ballot, call your local secretary of state office and get one. Get one now, fill it out and send it in.

Don't take anything that is not official -- if you are not sure, take it to the officials (not the GOPers) and have it checked out.

These sneaky Republicans will try anything to steal this election.

Remember 2000 and 2004!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

50 days and counting down

There are 50 days left in the presidential campaign and if Sen. Barack Obama is to win, he quickly needs to change strategy.

Obama must get 90 percent or more of the Black vote, 70 or more percent of females, and at least 20 percent of those who claim to be independent if he wants to win in less than two months from today.

Sen. John McCain is avoiding urban America like the plague -- he and his running mate is focusing on the suburbs and rural American instead.

If I was advising him, following is my plan to get the three aforementioned groups -- none of which are locks in the Obama camp.

One, there are 14 million Black registered voters, and 9 million of them did not vote for Obama during the primaries. Therefore, he should do weekly teleconference calls with the Black press: mainstream media isn't going to get his message out to urban America -- the Black press is better at doing that.

Two, send Sen. Hilary Clinton out to address the women. If she is committed to helping Obama win as she claimed during the convention, then action and words are better than a glorified speech. She can rally the females, which would truly negate McCain's Sarah Palin, who really is speaking to the White male gun-toters.

Then have her husband, former President Bill Clinton, follow up right after his wife, to charm the masses. No one can give an impromtu speech better than Clinton, who also could follow after Obama to help seal the deal.

Third, Obama must go on radio talk shows (this is what Warren Ballentine has been saying for the longest). But in addition to Black radio program, which Ballentine suggest, I would add that Obama also hit those middle of the road outlet, and take only listeners' questions.

There will be some crazies who will call in, but that can be easily negated with the good ones. This way, the senator is speaking directly to the people, listening to them and answering them. It would be his own town hall meeting, and every city has a talk station or something close to it.
Don't go to those right-wing stations because Obama isn't going to win over those folk.

Fourth, Obama must stay on message every time he speaks. Get your points on every pertinent issue every time the camera and microphone is on. This gives him a free 30-second TV and radio spot because the media are covering him. This would go further than those political ads, and would hit those independents.

Finally, if the Democrats are to win the White House for the first time in this century, then every one of them must get out on the campaign trail. Send Joe Biden to the small towns. As mentioned earlier, send out the Clintons. And where is the Congressional Black Causus -- they should be speaking out more for Obama, talking to the Black press as well, doing the attacking on McCain and Palin, exposing the lies and deceitfulness of the GOP campaign.

The 50-day hourglass sand is running.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can we get back on track

Is this presidential campaign about makeup or issues?

Sen. Barack Obama's so-called "lipstick" remark wasn't about Gov. Sarah Palin. We all have something like this, including Sen. John McCain, to talk about saying something crazy or bad and trying to dress it up as something fresh and new.

But the McCain campaign's outrage over this smells like Karl Rove. It's stinks!

Using CBS' Katie Coric's earlier remark about sexism during Sen. Hillary Clinton's primary campaign in their latest ad attacking Obama, is another Rove tactic that McCain is using.

But didn't Palin started all this mess with her asinine comments about the difference between herself, a so-called hockey mom, and a pitbull.

"Lipstick," she gladly told the GOP convention folk last week.

However, I am not looking for the next president's Max Factor knowledge; rather I am looking for an extreme makeover.

Am I hearing this so far? Not from McCain. Not from Palin, who's getting more celebrity treatment from the media than anything Obama supposedly received.

What happened to the high road campaign McCain earilier promised that he would conduct? It went out the window as soon as he chose Palin as running mate. She has been on the attack ever since her selection.

Like a pit bull . . . oops!

And just like Obama shouldn't, I won't apologize for this.

Isn't it time to get back to the pertinent issues: economy, health care, education and post-working security? Isn't it time to stop playing up to the crowds, the folk that is going to vote for you anyhow, and tell me something about how as president, you are going to make things radically different than the last eight years of lies and deceit, or

Friday, September 5, 2008

The last night was a bang

While Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain spoke inside on peace and prosperity Thursday night, outside the few blocks away from the 2008 GOP convention, it was a return to the past.

Police from near and far, came loaded for bear, as over 200 protesters were arrested during demonstrations.

As I left the Xcel Energy Center for the final time this week, walking down the narrow passageway created to keep those not wearing convention badges from entering, I watched scores of police dressed in war-like garb from head to toe. Helicopters constantly surrounded us from above.

After finally being allowed to leave the 'compound,' I got to see first-hand what was happening.

A group, estimated at over 700, had a permit to rally and march, but according to police, it had expired at 5 p.m. Thursday. The demonstrators wasn't taking no for an answer, and neither was the police, who lined up across the John Ireland Boulevard bridge over Interstate 94.

One officer dressed for war, complete with gas mask, told me that they stopped the demonstrators in their tracks.

"You can check CNN's web site," said one officer when asked for some details. He and two fellow officers -- all from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were diverting traffic elsewhere: "We don't know," chimed the other two as they walked away from me.

Since I parked in the Sears store's parking lot, I had to choice but to get in the midst of the mess.

It was nothing short of a scene from those 60s protest marches:

"The whole world is watching," one of the repeated sayings bellowed among the crow

A 30-year-old man, originally from Kenya, who now lives in St. Paul, stood and watched what was going on. He and others wanted to join the protesters but were blocked by police.

"We are just shocked to see what's going on here," he notes. "This is the same as Zimbabwe."

What happened to free speech, asked another 30-year-old, who migrated here from Cameroon.

"We think this is just a method of . . . not allowing the GOP to see people protesting," he adds. "That is so wrong."

Apparently the police earlier decided that they were not going to allow another incident that took place on Monday, where windows were broken and tires slashed in downtown St. Paul.

"They didn't marched when they supposed to, so this is what is happening now," says Marvin, who was among the citizen "Peace Team" that St. Paul police often employ to help with marches and large gatherings. "They (the police) got (the crowd) in an holding area. This is a big night for McCain."

When asked, were all these folk the troublemakers the media has spoke about all week, Marvin responded, "You ain't ducking are you? We are (standing) talking. I would think it is pretty safe. You always have a few folk who does the alternative, but I think most people want to stand up for their rights."

Later, as the protesters retreated off the bridge, being told by police to move, they headed east to another bridge, cutting through the ground around the Veterans Affairs building. It was like following golfers around, I and others followed closely behind, while the police did a John Wayne and headed them off at the pass, stopping at them at the next checkpoint.

"Let us march," said the protesters before they plopped down and sat en masse in the intersection -- police instead stood in a Black Adder array: the first line with officers on horses, who used the street as their convenient restroom, with two more lines with clubs and pepper spray. As most of the crowd members sat unarmed, the police were strapped down like they were about to be dispatched to Iraq or Afghanistan, not downtown St. Paul.

And the crowd chanted: "Whose street? Our street. Whose war? Their war?"

"I think that when the sun goes down, it is going to get crazy," predicted a photographer.

He was right. It did. On this night, it was war in these streets.

Almost 90 people later were arrested, including two reporters. About a dozen more media members were also issued citations but later released.

"I'm seeing police acting like we are in another country," observed a 28-year-old male onlooker. "They are arresting people for nothing. They are using horses to knock people over. This is really weird."

I constantly took pictures (which my newspaper plan to run in our next edition) and recorded sound. At one point, I watched police intensely searched a man for dangerous weapons or something. He didn't have any, and they pushed him along. The police, however, allowed me to keep taking pictures uninhibited.

I spoke to two local reporters were roughed up by the peace officers.

"We were in the circle, and they asked us to leave," explained Jeff Shaw, a City Pages web editor. "I showed them my press pass, and they told me that I had to leave the circle. I told them that this is a public street. I got shoved, and I fell down. The next thing I had three to four cops were shoving (me), and one cop was shoving me with his billy club. Then I got throw out of the circle."

"I kept saying that I was a member of the media and not a protester, but they kept shoving me around," continued Shaw.

Andy Mannix, an intern at City Pages, got maced. "One guy told me to get down (on the ground), and I put my hands behind my head. They started macing me from behind and at the side of my head and face, and told me to get the f*** up. He helped me get up by grabbing my body and hoisted me."

"We didn't nothing to provoke them," says Shaw. "We repeatedly said that we are not resisting and just doing our job."

While McCain spoke of change, and balloons and streamers dropped from the ceiling, was he and the GOP convention goers aware of what was happening outside? Did they really cared during the coronation of their king?

"It is not fair to me," said a 27-year-old mother of two, who only wanted to get to her night job at the "CNN Grill," a restaurant that the cable news company temporary took over for the convention. The police would not allow her to cross their human barrier to continue to work, despite holding a special pass, given out to employees who work at businesses near the convention site.

"The rude-ass police told me that he didn't give a damn what pass I got," she said. "I am not going to be able to cross over until the protesting is down. They (are) missing with my money. I got food and bills to fu**ing pay. They can protest all they want - I just want to get to work."

She soon turned around and walked to the bus line to go back home.

"I've been trying to get to my car for over three hours," adds a 44-year-old man, who works in the area, but unfortunately parked in a garage across the bridge, which was blocked by police. "I was supposed to pick up my son from day care but I had to call my sister to go pick him up.

"There are a lot of people down here who don't have nothing to do with this," he says of the protesting. "It is a mess." As he pointed across the street, "There are people on that side that needs to get over to this side. I have been looking for an escape route but there isn't any. They got all the bridges closed off."

There was good news from all of this -- the GOP convention is now history, and perhaps things around downtown St. Paul and the capitol area will soon return to some sort of normalcy.

"Thank God," the man and the woman both said in unison.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Outside the GOP convention, Part 1

As a prelude to today's scheduled Poor People's March from Mears Park to the arena site of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, the 2008 National Truth Commission took testimony on economic human rights violations in the U.S.

Hosted by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, the Sept. 1 event held at Christ Lutheran Church, just a few blocks from the RNC, was a multi-ethnic gathering of people not wearing outlandish convention-style costumes, or holding state placards.

There were cheers Monday night but not for a presidential nominee, but for the many speakers who came forward and testify not about the virtue of a political party using Madison Avenue slogans, but about the injustices they have faced in the greatest country on Earth.

"I can not afford health care," Annette Toney of Cleveland, Ohio told the audience. "I do not want to depend on others."

Ann Patterson, who has worked as a nurse for 17 years in Minneapolis, says she has seen her monthly health insurance premiums leaped from zero to now $500. "My husband recently lost his job," explains Patterson. "We've used our credit cards, savings and our children's savings. We are not able to make it. It is stressful."

Also a mother of five children, two of which are dealing with regular health concerns, Patterson adds that despite almost two-decades experience on her job, she has seen her job lay off others with even more seniority than hers. "I have no comfort that I will have a job tomorrow," she notes.

Rev. Gregory Lockett of Tampa, Florida is dealing with high blood pressure but publicly admitted Monday night that he had on many occasions become "dishonest" in getting his medications "because if I told the truth, they (officials) would told me to go someplace else," he points out.

"The (federal) government can spend millions on a war but can't take care of its people," says Carol Sawall-Smith of Chicago. "We need to do something about the health care in our country."

Not only health care, but housing concerns also was testified about.

Donte Davis of Louisville, Kentucky and his two children live in a crowded one-bedroom apartment. "They don't understand any of this," says the single father of his children's constant bewilderment of their current living conditions.

William "J.R." Flemming of Chicago says, "(It) is a fact" that the U.S. is in violation of human rights. "I am human. I deserve human rights. If you won't do it for me, do it for my (ten) children."

These violations have been ongoing and "is being largely ignored," says Peter Brown, a Minneapolis attorney who specializes on human rights complaints. "The right to housing, health care and education is the right of everybody, everywhere," he surmises, adding that not only the U.S. is responsible but "we also bear some responsibility, especially in holding (elected) officials accountable."

After its first day, in which activities either were curtailed or postponed because of Hurricane Gustav, the GOP convention is back on track today.

But Monday's night "truth" hearing went on as scheduled. Too bad the GOP faithful, the ones with the funny hats, couldn't had boarded their bus and rolled down a few blocks and heard these folk talk.

Then again, hearing the truth is not what most conventioneers want to hear.