Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The other day I was thinking about the greatest gift we have been given – TIME. Time is our most valuable commodity, 1440 minutes each day is all we get. Unfortunately, once spent it can never be returned concluding that most of us understand we have less time in front of us, than we have behind us. Or another way of putting it is that we are dying slowly, and I mean that literally, from a life standpoint and from the standpoint of life. So I thought I would stroll down memory lane and “Remember the Times” in which we have recently lived; the 90s and recall some of the highlights or maybe low-lights.

The decade began with a huge scam called Y2K. Remember, the world was supposed to end when all of the computers shut down – it didn’t. This was just the start of what was to come. We witnessed the nation’s capital paralyzed with fear because of the two psychopaths known as the DC Snipers. At its resolution, I received a huge shock, and dare I say so did most people, when it was discovered that these terrorist were black – particularly most African Americans. It was believed that crimes such as this were committed by others. This was just an example of insanity being a disease that is a human condition, which will be relived throughout this decade.

The nation was introduced to a Texas Governor, who was known for putting more people to death via the prison system than anywhere else in America. However, he became infamous as the new president for what many believe was stealing the election. He and his partner in crime, you know the guy, who shot his hunting partner in the face, left the scene and the wounded friend apologized for catching the bullet. This ushered in an era of what I call “Gangsta Politics”.

Then about 8:30 AM on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the world changed as we knew it - the unthinkable happened. The nation was attacked by nineteen guys with razor blades. They high jacked four commercial planes crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington DC with one crashing into a Pennsylvania field killing thousands – a horrible tragedy. The worst attack upon America since WWII. Let me pause to offer my condolences to the families of those lives lost. But something has always puzzled me, they were able to find bones, identify rings and watches of victims but never found any of the black boxes from the planes.

The United States under the direction of the new regime responded to the attacks by launching a War on Terror invading the “Graveyard of Empires” (Afghanistan) to depose the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists. The president and the shooter used this event to invade Iraq under the guise of many misrepresentations, like “weapons of mas-destruction”. These wars, which appear to be endless, caused the deaths of over a hundred thousand people and wounded countless others, and no victory. They then funneled all of the money authorized to a company once headed by the shooter. They hired mercenaries and hung the leader of one of the country who had nothing to do with the attack.

When in fact the culprit was a villain or an international terrorist known as Osama Bin Laden who is like the invisible man that can’t be found, but he has put out more videos than Tupac. They have satellites that can tell the time on your watch from space, yet they can’t find this guy. Now in a country where people make a dollar a week, why has no one come forward with information concerning his whereabouts, particularly with millions of dollars on his head?

Our government enacted what became known as the USA Patriot Act giving the them the power to do anything they wanted supersede all or most Constitutional rights, and George became King. The hunt for him and these wars introduced us to torture, rendition, secret prisons, and GTMO (Guantanamo Bay). Oh, I cannot leave out the “Coalition of the Willing”, which was a group of nation’s supporting us so small and insignificant that no one knew they were on this planet. I will forgo the remainder of the “Gansta Years” because we all know the story.

However, the most reprehensible act of King George’s rein, aside from refusing to attend any of the NAACP conventions, was his regimes response to Hurricane Katrina. As it was happening he was enjoying a birthday party and did not take an interest in New Orleans drowning until he returned to Washington. The televised images of visibly shaken and frustrated political leaders and of residents who remained stranded on roof tops because of flood waters without food, water, or shelter. He sent his friend “Brownie” down to help.

Deaths from thirst, exhaustion and violence days after the storm had passed, fueled the more criticism, as did the dilemma of the evacuees being called “refuges” at facilities such as the Louisiana Superdome (designed to handle 800, yet 30,000 arrived) and the New Orleans Civic Center (not designed as an evacuation center, yet 25,000 arrived). Of the 60,000 people stranded in New Orleans, the Coast Guard rescued more than 33,500 people of which most were black. Some alleged that race and class contributed to delays in the government’s response.

I am sure you will never forget the images of how America abandoned its poor people. This caused many to agree with rapper Kanye West who veered off script at a benefit concert for the victims to harshly criticize the government's response to the crisis, stating that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." They can get aid anywhere in the world in almost a heartbeat yet did attempt successfully to do so for its own citizens within its borders.

As desperate as the situation was a shining knight appeared as God sent his best soldier to the rescue - General Russell L. Honoré. He gained my respect, praise, and accolades for turning around the situation in the city. In one widely played clip, Honore was seen on the streets of the city, barking orders to subordinates and, in one case, berating a soldier who displayed a weapon, telling him "We're on a rescue mission damn it!"

Mayor Ray Nagin, who I fondly call “My Nagin”, was quoted on a radio station saying: "Now, I will tell you this -- and I give the president some credit on this -- he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is Lt. Gen. HonorĂ©. And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done." - I thank you General.

Now, I will fast forward to the election season of 2008. The country was in disarray as we endured a presidential primary election campaign that seems too lasted forever. Actually, it was kinda like the Mod Squad - one Black, one woman, and an OLD guy. This is very significant because the Black guy beat a formidable opponent in the wife of whom I thought was the closest we would get to a black president in my lifetime – Brother Bill. Now, during the campaign in support of his wife he digressed a few time letting us know that he was still a white man, but all has been forgivin.

Now, the real opposition, the Republican opponent was a different story. He took a page straight out of the fifties with racism being the foundation of his campaign. One of his themes was to repeatedly ask “Who is Barrack Obama?” Implying and reminding his constituents that he was a Negro, but it was the war hero’s running mate that came off as the real redneck. Caribou Barbie came into the race as the pure example of white womanhood, which lasted about a week. Then it became clear she was about as unqualified as a door knob and about as well informed. However, the joke took every opportunity to remind those of the same hue that they represented the “Real America”.

I have learned that there comes a time when time itself needs a change and after the brutal rein of “King George” - that time was now. There had always been Robber Barons but this crew was “straight gangsters” with one objective “cash and cash only”. The economic situation was a mess nearing times compared to the Great Depression. Unemployment rocketed, home foreclosures skyrocketed as everyone struggled financially, and investment money seems dry up as Wall Street was bailed out with government funds. It was like they thought we were unaware of crooks like Bernard Madoff, Bernard Ebbers, and the likes of ENRON - but Wall Street prospered.

Then the unimaginable happened - Barrack Obama was elected the first African American president in the nation's history. From the hatred and racism that followed from some quarters, it must have been the same feeling the confederates had when colored men were freed after the Civil War. Nonetheless, Obama has broken a huge barrier and has had a profound impact on the entire world. A black man and a man that is the embodiment of what so many African Americans have prayed so disparately since we were dragged onto the shores of Virginia to build this country. Ironically, the new president won the state were the first slaves landed, which was also the home of the confederate capital that fought to keep us enslaved.

The election of a Black man president of these United States is something no one living or dead ever thought would happen. I cannot think of a single event more significant in world history, or at least since the resurrection of Christ, to compare it too. Ironically, the thought of a scripture comes to mind, which tells us that “the first will be last and the last will be first”. His recent Nobel Peace Prize award just goes to show how much the rest of the world values his presence and feels the impact. However, in spite of this there has been talk of secession and tea parties were formed instigated by the Drugster, the Alcoholic, Caribou Barbie, and of course Fox comparing our president to Hitler as many prayed for his death, and that of his family using Bible verses to rally their faithful (Psalm 109:8).

Then in June the world stopped to mourn the death of “the King of Pop” Michael Jackson. In the pop culture world, no story has been bigger than this one. Michael Jackson was an iconic music legend, and his unexpected death shocked and upset millions of fans around the world. The legacy of Michael Jackson will no doubt live on for all eternity.

Probably the most dangerous of all the issues was health care reform. It brought out the birthers, deathers, and the tea party crowd to represent the most extreme right-wing politics since the citizen’s councils ruled a segregated society. I found it amazing that a cause so moral and just would cause people to come to where the president spoke openly armed bringing Christ into the debate. Like these Bible thumpers misread the part where Jesus healed the sick, which was his mission – provide for the least of thee.

Thankfully, as the decade ended something in terms of health care reform has passed to provide for the needy. Is it a good bill, we’ll see, but it is better then what the insurance company cartel’s have offered. To show how deranged the world has become a woman jumped the barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down Pope Benedict XVI as he walked down the main aisle to begin Christmas Eve Mass. Oh what a time…

The John T. Wills Chronicles

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to the Future

The insight of history is a powerful thing and I have lived long enough to have had the opportunity to witness many things. I can remember watching the KKK marching through the rural area where I lived as a small boy carrying crosses. I have also seen those strains of thinking espoused by the John Birch Society, the religious right, compassionate conservatives, and other right-wing groups during the segregated days of 1950s and 60s. Today there is a new repackaged conservatism that is a diverse movement with many philosophical threads and tensions who call themselves the Tea Party.

In my view, the rise of the Tea Party movement is nothing more than a throwback to an old form of libertarianism that sees most of the domestic policies that government has undertaken since Roosevelt as unconstitutional, to include many civil rights initiatives. The reason, I believe is because from that point in our country’s history the government became socially conscience and began to address the needs of the elderly, the poor, and the least of thee. This element of society typically perceives these issues as dangerous threats to freedom and to the well-educated elitists that support "American values" or as they say the “Real Americans”.

Let me be a critic for a moment. These compassionate folks tend to show their compassion, often times, in support of big-business with their public rhetoric intended for their own self-serving agendas. For example, last week Rep. Joe Barton apologized to BP as if they were the victims of what is happening in the gulf. While basically calling the President a thug with the "shakedown" comment of the company for $20 billion on behalf of those hurt by the gulf oil spill. This is embarrassing precisely because it underscored how far this element is to the extreme as it relates to mainstream America. When faced with a choice between supporting a large British corporation or a federal government battling for compensation of the disaster's victims, Barton sided with Big Oil as did many of his conservative counterparts.

Now, the guy did or was forced to apologize because of pressure from other Republican leaders, but many in the party and on the right continue to echo his views. Like the Republican Study Committee made up of more than 115 House conservatives called the escrow fund a “Chicago-style shakedown” while leaders of certain factions of the Tea Party called it “extortion”. Could it be that the stock they may have in such companies really be the reason for their greater concern.

A group called Tea Party Patriots that describes itself as "a community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!" Tea Party Nation says it is "a user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God given Individual Freedoms which were written out by the Founding Fathers." My question is to them; have they read the original Constitution? These Founding Fathers were really terrorists and the same men who owned slaves, wrote in it that Negroes were 3/5th a man, and denied women all rights. Is this what they want to go back too?

What's remarkable is the extent to which the movement has displaced the religious right as the dominant voice of conservative militancy. The religious conservatives have not disappeared, and Palin, a Tea Party hero, does share their views on abortion and gay marriage. But these issues have been overshadowed by the broader anti-government themes pushed by the New Old Right, and the "compassionate conservatism" that inspires parts of the Christian political movement has no place in the right's current order of battle. This seems un-American to me, dangerous, and frankly resurrecting an American that even they want to forget.

Please visit: http://johntwillschronicles.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“If You Really Want to Live, Be Extraordinary”

I have moved “Thought Provoking Perspectives” to The John T. Wills Chronicles information portal @ http://johntwillschronicles.com I want to share a profound message taken from a novel Chapter Excerpt FROM “If You Really Want to Live, Be Extraordinary” written by Jo Lena Johnson & Dr. Lee Roy Jefferson. I encourage you to read the featured article on the The John T. Wills Chronicles in its entirety.


Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, church leader, business owner, or simply a concerned citizen, Mrs. Raglin demonstrates honor, commitment, leadership, integrity, love of teaching and learning. A few pages of her wisdom are worth their weight in gold!

Six Things I Really Want Teachers to Know

1. As a teacher, you are always a learner.

2. You can’t teach kids you don’t take opportunity to know—and for whom you don’t allow opportunity to know you.

3. Because people and actions are always connected, there is no way for you to mistreat a child and not have it come back to you.

4. Students should be prepared to take care of the world one day, just as you and I as children were taught to do our part in taking care of the world. Teaching should be a revered position. It’s not to be taken lightly when you are training a mind for optimal results in knowing, being, and doing.

5. Students have the right to learn how to think. If you don’t teach them how to think, they won’t know how to live. Thinking is what is going to save them—and all of us. It’s not always all about teaching subject matter at the start. What is ultimately important for your students is that they master the ability to process information: to know through understanding. Once exposed to information, knowledge comes as a result of analyzing, synthesizing, and never failing to evaluate what one hears, sees, and even thinks.

Students can’t learn how to think by simply memorizing someone else’s ideas. If you teach them how to think and imagine they will be able to choose what information will be useful for their own future…livelihood, well-being, career, citizenship, humanity. Students need to have a point of reference in the things taught and required to learn, to be able to relate those things to something they already know, care about—have already “studied”—or can use. What they read and learn—and the way it is presented—should be something that will forever help students make good decisions. And, believe me; that is your grave responsibility.

6. Low self-esteem leads to rebellion. There is probably nothing worse in school for a child than sitting in a room where everyone else knows “stuff” he/she doesn’t know. When children don’t know such things as decorum and are doubly embarrassed by not having academic skills, it makes them unable to think logically in the moment. Yes, they act out in the classroom, but they will act out even more so in life without mastery of big and little things. You are creating a monster when you don’t teach a child. There is joy for children in learning, and there is a joy for real teachers in watching children learn—watching them become able to understand and explore…observe someone else’s creativity and, in doing so, gain access to their own. To teach is to help a child discover self, personal talents, goals—along with connections to others and the use of the gift of life only for good.”

Mrs. Raglin explains in detail in the feature. It is a must read.

Chapter Excerpt FROM “If You Really Want to Live, Be Extraordinary”
Jo Lena Johnson & Dr. Lee Roy Jefferson

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where did this guy come from???

I am proud to announce that I have moved “Thought Provoking Perspectives” to The John T. Wills Chronicles information portal. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my followers for reading and I humbly invite you to visit my blogs new home as it is as thought provoking as ever with much more information sure to empower you. In the ten days since the “Chronicles” launched it has received more than 3500 hits and hundreds of comments posted to the many articles, and I say again thank you for your support. Please visit: http://johntwillschronicles.com.

I just have to talk about a news story that has blown my mind. So I’ll get right to the point and ask the question that everyone is thinking but have not asked. “Where did THEY get this Negro?” I am talking about Alvin Greene the Senate nominee who won the South Carolina Democratic primary this week. I guess I should say first that he is from South Carolina, which might explain or answer the question, as they have had their share of odd characters. Mr. Greene, and I use that loosely, has the distinction of being the first African American to win a major party nomination for U.S. Senate in the state and faces the Republican Party Senator or maybe Tea Bagger Jim DeMint in the general election.

Let me tell you a little about this character Greene before I agree with everyone else except those who planted him into the equation. He won the Democratic primary race in June of 2010 with 58% of votes cast despite virtually no campaigning, no campaign spending, no website, no computer, no cell phone, and had only one campaign sign. He was in the Army and Air Force before an involuntary honorable discharge to which he says is a long story. He is currently unemployed and lives with his father. Ok, so far, not so good.

The state Democratic Party chairperson says she has not seen Greene since he filed the papers to run. Clarendon County Democratic Party Chairman Cal Land told local newspaper The Item that local party leaders have never met Greene. Lend went on to say, he had not attended any local Democratic events and had not responded to any invitations to local stump meetings. He did not attend the state Democratic Party convention nor did he file the legally required forms with the Secretary of the Senate or the Federal Elections Commission. He also said Greene attempted to pay his $10,400 filing fee with a personal check, rather than a check from a campaign account.

Now, this is where it gets messy: The day after the primary election, the media reported that Greene was facing felony charges stemming from a November 2009 arrest for allegedly showing obscene internet photos to an 18 year old University of South Carolina student in a computer lab. As a result of these charges, the South Carolina Democratic Party issued a statement calling for Greene to step down, saying:

"We are proud to have nominated a Democratic ticket this year that, with the apparent exception of Mr. Greene, reflects South Carolina's values. Our candidates want to give this state a new beginning without the drama and irresponsibility of the past 8 years, and the charges against Mr. Greene indicate that he cannot contribute to that new beginning. I hope he will see the wisdom of leaving the race."

Greene has refused to bow out of the race and emphatically stated that "The Democratic Party has chosen their nominee, and we have to stand behind their choice. The people have spoken. We need to be pro-South Carolina, not anti-Greene." When asked to explain how he won Tuesday's primary, Greene rambles for a bit and then concludes "just hard work," which frankly appears to be revolutionizing the definition of "hard work." The interviewer posed a follows up question, "You didn't hold any campaign functions, you had no campaign signs, no campaign literature, no website, how did you work to get the name out, I mean what did you physically do?" Greene said, "I did just simple old fashioned campaigning, nothing fancy or expensive."

I am going to give him the benefit of doubt although I don’t believe any of that old fashion stuff. Baffling is to kind, but let’s say that all the stars lined up and God sent him to deliver South Carolina. Has anyone asked his position on anything? Well the only thing I have been about to find about his platform was "jobs, education and justice."Let’s be mindful that the U.S. Senate has only had a few blacks elected to that office and never more than on at a time. So, are we supposed to be leave that this guy is the beneficiary of Martin Luther King’s – I have a dream?

There has been speculation that he might be a Republican plant in order to stir up trouble in the Democratic Party in order to ensure his opponent an easy victory. Could it be that the Republican’s crossed over casting their votes for him? House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and other have suggested that Greene is a plant and has called for an investigation into the primary. I will say this, and I have lived in America for a half century, this notion, particularly after hearing him speak, is as ridiculous as the Governor going for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Let me go back to the charges against him. The news report says he has not entered a plea or been indicted in connection with the obscenity charge. Greene asks: "I have not been indicted? Indicted? What does that mean?" His brother, according to reports, explained during an interview that a charge and an indictment are different things.

Greene's now 19 accuser have said she didn't know Greene was running. "I really wish I'd known before the election, so I could have said something so that people would have known who they were voting for." She says, Greene asked her to look at pornography on his screen at a computer lab in a University of South Carolina dormitory and suggested, "Let's go to your room." Both her and her mother wants Greene to withdraw from the race adding one other thing: "We want this guy to crawl back under the rock he came from." Enough said…

The John T. Wills Chronicles

Just a Season

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The New Miranda Rules

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that criminal suspects should speak up if they want to preserve their right to remain silent. This is a stunning shift concerning the latest test of the court's famous Miranda rule and shifts the burden to suspects to invoke their right to refuse questioning. If we can go back to 1966 and remember why the original decision was rendered, it is hard to understand the court’s reasoning today. When we consider law enforcement practices prior Miranda it was necessary for the court to require law enforcement to make what became known as the Miranda rights part of routine police procedures to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. This decision is widely viewed as a huge setback to citizen’s rights.

This is a drastic shift from the spirit of the 1966 law that says; “statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them”.

The newest member of the court, Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that "Today's decision turns Miranda upside down," while accusing the majority of casting aside judicial restraint. "Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent … which, counter intuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so."

Justice Sotomayor, a former prosecutor who some had speculated might be less protective of the rights of suspects than other liberals on the court, called the decision "a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination." She was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who wrote for the majority said, "Where the prosecution shows that a Miranda warning was given and that it was understood by the accused, an accused's uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver of the right to remain silent.” Kennedy was joined, of course, by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

A little history about the landmark Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966) case with its 5–4 decision of the 1966 Court, which revolutionized the way the nation's police departments were required to interrogate arrested persons by informing a suspect of their rights under the ruling, termed a Miranda warning. The Miranda decision was widely criticized when it came down, as many felt it was unfair to inform suspected criminals of their rights, as outlined in the decision.

President Nixon and many conservatives denounced Miranda for undermining the efficiency of the police arguing that the ruling would contribute to an increase in crime. Nixon, upon becoming President, promised to appoint judges who would be “strict constructionists” and who would exercise judicial restraint. Many supporters of law enforcement were angered by the decision's negative view of police officers. The federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 purported to overrule Miranda for federal criminal cases and restore the "totality of the circumstances" test that had prevailed prior to Miranda.

The validity of this provision of the law, which is still codified at 18 U.S. Code 3501, was not ruled on for another 30 years because the Justice Department never attempted to rely on it to support the introduction of a confession into evidence at any criminal trial. Miranda was undermined by several subsequent decisions which seemed to grant several exceptions to the "Miranda warnings," undermining its claim to be a necessary corollary of the Fifth Amendment.

In this case the court ruled 5 to 4 that a Michigan defendant who incriminated himself in a fatal shooting by saying one word after nearly three hours of questioning had given up his right to silence, and that the statement could be used against him at trial. In the case before the court, suspect Van Chester Thompkins was read his rights and, at police request, repeated some of them out loud. But he did not sign an offered waiver of the right, and he did not acknowledge that he was willing to talk. Nor did he say that he wanted the questioning to stop.

Detectives persisted in what one called mostly a "monologue" for about two hours and 45 minutes, until one asked Thompkins whether he believed in God. Then a follow up question - "Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?" Thompkins answered "Yes" and looked away. The statement was used against him, along with other testimony, and Thompkins was convicted of killing Samuel Morris outside a strip mall in Southfield, Mich.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said that Thompkins's prolonged silence "offered a clear and unequivocal message to the officers that Thompkins did not wish to waive his rights." "The fact that Thompkins made a statement about three hours after receiving a Miranda warning does not overcome the fact that he engaged in a course of conduct indicating waiver." Today the conservative arm of the Supreme Court disagreed making the case a president and now law. This decision, I believe will have a far reaching dangerous impact on a society that is becoming largely more diverse.

I am not a lawyer but I was around prior to the 1966 ruling and I will tell you that there was significant reason to establish that law because of what police departments were able to do to suspects in custody, and get away with it. So I would encourage you to advise you children and young people how to conduct themselves once they have been detained by police, and to be aware yourself that anything you say can and will be used against you.

The John T. Wills Chronicles