For Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin and his dad, Tracy Martin

This evening a six member jury in Florida found George Zimmerman not guilty in the murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Though a verdict was delivered I can’t say justice was served.

A teenager walking home was profiled, followed and shot to death at point blank range by George Zimmerman. No one has been held accountable. That cannot be justice.

I do not pretend to comprehend all the complexities of race relations in America. However, I do think it is obvious that if Trayvon Martin was white, instead of black, George Zimmerman would have never assumed he was “suspicious”, never gotten out of his car, never followed him, and never ended his life. Trayvon Martin would be alive today. The bottom line is this: a man with a gun killed a teenager who was committing no crime because the boy was black – and the man was not held criminally culpable. As a parent, as a minority, that is a chilling and frightening outcome.

Tonight in America, justice was not served.

Over a century and a half ago, the minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker spoke about his belief that the scourge of slavery would someday end:

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

Parker was right. Slavery did end and justice was a step closer.

However, nearly a century of Jim Crow laws followed. Over a century after Theodore Parker spoke, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr echoed his words in his call for justice at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King said:

And I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing “We Shall Overcome” because Carlyle was right: “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: “Truth pressed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: “You shall reap what you sow.” With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!”

The arc was bending still toward justice. But less than a year after Dr. King spoke those words, an assassin’s bullet took his life.

A half a century hence, we are still not there. Justice remains unequal and elusive for many in the black community today. Jails in America are filled today with black men serving time on far less evidence than what George Zimmerman was facing. No fancy lawyers and expensive trials, just a quick arrest and a plea before heading to jail.

We are not there yet. There is no justice tonight.

So, I weep for Trayvon Martin. I weep with Tracy Martin, his dad. I weep for my country.

I take heart though that things will not always be this way. We will have stops and starts but I believe my daughter will inherit a better world – a moral universe closer to justice. I believe we will get there. Slowly. Slower than I want and much much slower than a lot of our fellow citizens deserve. Slower still to pay the debt we the living owe Trayvon Martin.

As Bobby Kennedy said on the night Dr. King was taken from us, let us “dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

Posted in Human Rights, Society | Comments Off

A Letter To The Ethicist

Months before General David Petraeus resigned as Director of the CIA, an anonymous reader wrote a letter to the New York Times’ Ethicist column complaining about an affair his wife, presumably Paula Broadwell, was having with a “government executive”. In response to the letter, Chuck Klosterman of The Ethicist wrote:

The fact that you’re willing to accept your wife’s infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it’s so over-the-top honorable that I’m not sure I believe your motives are real. Part of me wonders why you’re even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times.

Your dilemma is intriguing, but I don’t see how it’s ambiguous. Your wife is having an affair with a person you happen to respect. Why would that last detail change the way you respond to her cheating? Do you admire this man so much that you haven’t asked your wife why she keeps having sex with him? I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That’s not ethical, either.

It seems to me Klosterman hit the nail on the head.

Posted in Foreign Policy, Politics | Comments Off

Election Predictions: How Did I Do?

I had predicted an electoral landslide for President Obama with a 332-206 win. I had also predicted a popular vote margin for Obama of 51.5% to 48.5% head to head.

How did I do?

With Florida now in Obama’s column, he won with 332-206. So, I hit the electoral result exactly right.

Though some votes are still being counted, the popular vote tally right now is 61,122,638 for Obama and 58,130,991 for Romney.

That is a margin of 51.3% to 48.7%. So I was off by 0.2% nationally. Not bad I think.

As for the battleground states, my head-to-head predictions for the margins and actual results (as they stand now) are as follows:

Battleground State My Prediction Actual Result Variance
Colorado Obama 51%, Romney 49% Obama 52%, Romney 48% -2
Florida Obama 50.5%, Romney 49.5% Obama 50.5%, Romney 49.5% 0
Iowa Obama 52%, Romney 48% Obama 53%, Romney 47% -2
Michigan Obama 53%, Romney 47% Obama 54.5%, Romney 45.5% -3
Nevada Obama 53%, Romney 47% Obama 53%, Romney 47% 0
New Hampshire Obama 51%, Romney 49% Obama 53%, Romney 47% -4
North Carolina Romney 50.5%, Obama 49.5% Romney 51.5%, Obama 48.5% -2
Ohio Obama 51.5%, Romney 48.5% Obama 51%, Romney 49% +1
Pennsylvania Obama 53%, Romney 47% Obama 52.5%, Romney 47.5% +1
Virginia Obama 51.7%, Romney 48.3% Obama 51.5%, Romney 48.5% +0.4
Wisconsin Obama 51.5%, Romney 48.5% Obama 53.5%, Romney 46.5% -4

So, I nailed the margins in 2 states: Florida and Nevada. I missed 3 states by a hair: Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I missed the margins in 6 states by large margins of 2% to 4%. So, not bad on the battleground state margins but not great either.

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Willard Mitt Romney: Businessman

From NBC News First Read:

From the moment Mitt Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself.

Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked.

“Fiscally conservative,” sighed one aide the next day.

Sigh, indeed.

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Election Liveblog

7pm: Polls close in Virginia

7:02pm: Virginia too close to call. Not surprising.

7:10pm: Exit polls: Democrats outpacing Republicans and independents in Virginia.

7:10pm: Romney is toast if Virginia goes blue

7:30pm: Polls close in the big enchilada, Ohio. Too close to call. Again, not surprising at poll closing.

7:38pm: FYI. Usually rural counties come in first in Virginia. So far, thats the case. The numbers will change dramatically as Northern Virginia and the bigger counties come in.

7:48pm: Exit polls: Democrats outpacing Republicans and independents in Ohio.

7:56pm: Virginia suspends counting votes since there are still people in voting lines. They don’t want to unduly influence the vote.

8pm: Pennsylvania just closed. Obama has lead but too early to call. Florida too close to call with 41% vote in with Obama leading.

8:06pm Cuyahoga County results right now has Obama at 70%. He needs this too stay that way.

8:32pm: NBC calls it for Chris Murphy in the Connecticut senate race.

9pm: Michigan called for Obama.

9pm: New Mexico called for Obama.

9:06pm: Florida not looking good for Romney. 74% vote in but Obama leading with Miami-Dade only reporting 15%.

9:11pm: NBC calls it for Elizabeth Warren. This is a big one.

9:12pm: Indications are this won’t be a good night for Romney. We’ll see as the votes fill out on Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Also, watch North Carolina – closer than expected.

9:15pm: Pennsylvania called for Obama. So much for the Romney Pennsylvania gambit.

9:29pm: Wisconsin called for Obama. Another Romney fantasy meets reality.

9:36pm: The Nets won’t say it,  but it is near mathematically impossible for Romney to now win.

9:44pm: Joe Donnelly projected winner in Indiana senate. This is a big win for sanity, women’s rights and, frankly, humanity.

9:50pm: Obama wins New Hampshire. The door has closed for Romney.

10:10pm: Claire McCaskill wins in Missouri. Big win against another nutjob.

10:20pm: About Virginia: The big Northern Virginia counties have not come in yet. Those will all go Obama. The rural counties have come in predictably for Romney. The margin will close and Obama should overtake when Fairfax County comes in.

10:42pm: Ok, Fairfax is starting to come in. 63% in and Romney now only leads by 16,000. I think Virginia must now be said to be going to Obama. I’ll wait for the Nets to call it.

10:44: NBC News call Minnesota for Obama. Another nail in the coffin for Romney.

10:56pm: NBC News calls it for Tim Kaine in Virginia. Yay! No macacca this year :)

11:00pm: This one is for my brother. California – shockingly! – goes for Obama :)

11:03pm: Denver Post just called Colorado for Obama. Waiting on the Nets to call it. Fox News must be freaking out now.

11:05pm: Romney wins North Carolina narrowly.

11:10pm: Iowa called for Obama. I want to see Karl Rove’s face. Switching to Fox :)

11:14pm: Ohio has been called for Obama. Fox News studio is all depressed :)

11:16pm: Barack Obama has been re-elected as the President of the United States.

11:32pm: Obama now leads in Virginia thanks to Fairfax County with 91% reporting.

12:02am: Virginia called for Barack Obama!

12:06am: Nevada called for Barack Obama!

12:10am: NBC News finally calls Colorado.

12:10am: My mistake on Virginia. Thought it was called by the Nets. Not yet. Should be shortly.

12:26am: Obama now leading by 51,000 votes in Virginia with Democratic counties remaining. NYT has called it but not the Nets yet. They will wait for all the votes to come in.

12:37am: Tammy Duckworth won and beat deadbeat tea party dude Joe Walsh.

12:39am: Virginia now called for Barack Obama by the AP and CBS News.

12:42am: Karl Rove is having a meltdown on live TV on Fox News.

12:42am: Romney has still not conceded. This is getting sad.

12:51am: Romney to concede shortly.

12:51am: Waiting on Florida to make it 332-206! Come on Florida!

12:55am: Tammy Baldwin wins senate seat from Wisconsin.

1:04am: Mitt Romney concedes in a gracious speech – a graciousness that was lacking from him during the campaign.

1:17am: Its pretty clear that Florida will go to Obama giving him a 332-206 electoral victory. I’ll wait for the Nets to call it before I gloat about my prediction :)

2:00am: That was a powerful speech from the President.

2:20am: Now, unleash the Biden!

2:27am: NBC News finally joins every other Net and calls Virginia for Obama.

2:43am: Alan West defeated in Florida. Great news for sanity and civility.

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