Helen of Troy

"Loving me kills people, destroys families, causes such grief
you cannot imagine." -Helen, from the tv movie 'Helen of Troy' (2003)

Troy Davis was executed last night.

Cindy Anthony, spent the second half of June and the first half of July, 2008 repeatedly asking to see her granddaughter Caylee. Her daughter! Casey, made up an assortment of reasons why that would not be possible, including her being away with a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez (also referred to as "Zanny the Nanny" by Casey).

Troy Davis was executed last night.

On July 13, 2008 George Anthony, Casey's father, received a notice from the USPS to pick up a certified letter at the post office. On July 15, 2008 he went to the post office to retrieve the letter, which informed him that his daughter Casey's car was in a tow yard. When he went to pick up the car, he and the tow yard worker each noted that the car had a strong stench emanating from the trunk and each described the smell as that of "decomposing flesh." When they opened the trunk there was no body, but a bag of trash they determined not to be the source of the smell. When George returned home and told his wife of the discovery, Cindy Anthony did not call her daughter, she called 911.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

Cindy Anthony did not report her daughter, the owner of the car, as missing to police. Instead, she reported her granddaughter Caylee missing and, more importantly, said she "had been missing for 31 days (the last time SHE had seen the child). In her conversation with police she told them, "There is something wrong. I found my daughter's car today and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

Troy Davis was executed last night.

When the original detective investigating the case questioned Casey Anthony, she told him Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. Police questioned friends and family; not a single person had ever seen this nanny before—not even once.

She told investigators she worked for Universal Studios. When they took her to the company and asked her to show them to her office, Casey walked them around the campus for a few hours before admitting she "had not worked there for years," even though her family was u der the belief she was still employed there.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

Cash Anthony was arrested on July 16, 2008.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

On August 11, 2008 a meter reader reported seeing a suspicious trash bag in an area of brush not far from Casey Anthony's house. Police told him to call the case's tip line, which he did, but the call was not returned. The next day he called police again and a car was sent to the scene. The police canvassed the area without him, and reported they saw nothing strange in the area. The meter man walked the area again on December 11, 2008 (TWO MONTHS LATER), and called police again. When they arrived they found the partial remains of a child in a torn trash bag. A wider canvas of the area found bones from other body parts scattered around the general area of the discovery. On December 19, 2008 the medical examiner determined the remains to those of Caylee Anthony.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

Hair found in Casey Anthony's trunk was found to match that of samples pulled from Caylee's brush at the Anthony residence.

Forensic evidence proved that "a decomposition event had occurred" in the trunk of Casey Anthony's trunk., where traces of chloroform were also found.

Among other bits of digital evidence pulled from the computer in Casey Anthony's home was evidence of Google searches of the terms "neck breaking", "how to make chloroform", and "death."

The prosecution also showed that the same type of laundry bag, duct tape, and plastic bags discovered at the crime scene were found in the Anthony home.

Cindy Anthony had told investigators her granddaughter's Winnie the Pooh blanket was missing from her bed. This type of blanket was found at the crime scene.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

Casey Anthony's defense team told the judge and jurors their clients was not guilty because Caylee had died accidentally in the family's swimming pool. And that the reason Casey had not reported the death to ANYONE was due to her having a habit of hiding pain as a result of her being sexually assaulted by her father since the age of eight. They provided ZERO proof for the explosive accusation toward her father, and George Anthony's denial of having molested his daughter while he was under oath went unchallenged by Casey's defense team.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

The defense admitted Casey Anthony made up the nanny, Zanieda Hernandez-Fernandez.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

The defense put forward the theory that the meter man had found the remains elsewhere and brought them to the spot of discovery.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

The trial lasted six weeks, and on July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse. She was, however, found guilty of four misdemeanors associated with her lying to law enforcement officers. The charges were for:

Count Four: The defendant told law enforcement that she was employed at Universal Studios during 2008, pursuant to the investigation of a missing persons report. [source:Wikipedia]

Count Five: The defendant told law enforcement that she had left Caylee at an apartment complex with a babysitter causing law enforcement to pursue the missing babysitter. [source:Wikipedia]

Count Six: The defendant told law enforcement that she informed two "employees" of Universal Studios, Jeff Hopkins and Juliet Lewis, at Universal, of the disappearance of Caylee. [source:Wikipedia]

Count Seven: The defendant told law enforcement that she had received a call and spoke to Caylee on July 15, 2008, causing law enforcement to expend further resources. [source:Wikipedia]

She was sentenced to four years, one year for each count, and a fine of $4,000.

Troy Davis was executed last night.

On July 17, 2008 Casey Anthony walked out of jail a free woman, not quite serving the full term of her due to having time knocked off because of "good behavior."

Troy Davis was executed last night.

There was no physical evidence that tied Troy to the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail. The ballistics expert testifying on behalf of the PROSECUTION stated that "there was no conclusive evidence" that the casing from the bullet that killed Officer MacPhail was fired from the gun associated with Davis, "only a possibility."

Troy Davis was executed last night.

With no physical evidence, the case would turn to eyewitness testimony. Of the nine key eyewitnesses testifying against Troy Davis:

-Seven would recant their testimony for various reasons, including: intimidation, coercion, being misquoted, fatigue and being fed foreknowledge.

-One other, it has been determined, could not have seen the crime committed from the vantage point she claimed based on the poor lighting and distance between herself and the spot where the crime was committed.

-The last of the nine eyewitnesses has been identified by MULTIPLE SOURCES AS THE ACTUAL KILLER of Officer MacPhail.

And yet, at 10:53 pm...

Troy Davis was executed last night.


The Help: Two Takes on America's #1 Movie

by Arnum Cohran and Sirami Cohran

Editorial Note: I never planned to see the movie The Help. Really, such things do not interest me beyond a bit of ridicule based on what I see in the commercial for them. I can remember literally laughing out loud when I saw the trailer before seeing Thor, of all things.

However, my nephew Arnum, whom I have profound respect for, and with whom I share a pretty similar world view, saw The Help on Friday night against his will, and LOVED it!

I called him on Saturday morning with a question: Would he write a short piece on why he loved the film, if I agreed to immediately go to the cinema, watch The Help, then write a piece on why I hated it? He readily agreed to the terms, and this is the result. We did not have the benefit of seeing each other's work before publication, so this is not in the form of a rebuttal. Just our thoughts on what has become the #1 film in America.

One major warning: ****THERE ARE SPOILERS GALORE****. Other than that,we hope you enjoy our work.

by Arnum Cohran

Every so often, Hollywood makes an attempt to cinematically express the harsh reality of racism and its effects on the African American community, as well as the country as a whole. Great films such as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Glory, Amistad, Rosewood, Remember the Titans, and countless others have made valiant efforts to capture the realism and depth of what it must have been like to have suffered at the hands of White Superiority. Sadly, all of the above have fallen short in one way or another. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that although Hollywood loves to appear to care about the plight of African Americans, their true goal is to capitalize on the emotional content that this topic effortlessly incites, tugging at the underlying sympathies of many ticket buying moviegoers. In an effort to appease and or soothe the target demographic, they often rely on what many refer to as the “High John the Conqueror” technique, which means that even though by definition, the antagonist in a movie about American racism must be white people, the hero of the story must always be, whether directly or indirectly, a white person.

Sadly, the 2011 movie “The Help” is no different in that respect. It is the sole reason my girlfriend had to drag me kicking and screaming to a theatre in Highland Park, IL to see the film last night. I intentionally mention the location because, for those that don’t know, Highland Park is one of the wealthiest suburban cities in the country. Its residents according to the 2010 census happen to be 91.2% white and 0.18% black. Suffice it to say, we weren’t just the only black people in the theatre, we were also the only non-whites. I remember walking into the theatre thinking to myself, “Even if the movie sucks, this should make for an interesting experience.” As I would soon find out, that was an understatement.

Referring back to the “High John the Conqueror” technique I mentioned earlier, “The Help” proves the old adage “It’s not what you do, but how you do it.” If you are going to make some random white person emerge from a sea of racism to stand up for the plight of oppressed African Americans in the old Jim Crow south, at least respect our intelligence enough to show how that might be possible. Basing the movie around the premise of white children being groomed into racism while simultaneously being raised by black women seems to fit the bill, at least in my opinion. My limited knowledge of that era in our history leads me to believe in the mere possibility (however improbable) of that sort of moral conflict.

Speaking of morality, or the lack there of, the movie depicts the behaviors and views of citizens in an openly racist society quite accurately. So much so, that it nearly obliterates the unbelievably prevalent myth that racism in America is on a rapid decline. Although the movie takes place in the Old South, the inhumane, disgusting and morally depraved behaviors portrayed in the movie seem all too familiar. We see them every day. Not only do we see them, not only are we affected by them, but we are often tormented by the fact that people go out of their way to convince themselves and others that they don’t understand what’s wrong with this type of behavior. People who display these attributes often rationalize and pretend not to be unscrupulous to the point where eventually, they become convinced.

“The Help” does an amazing job of forcing the aforementioned disillusions into non-existence. When the movie ended, we sat and watched the people around us in the theater, and could not believe what we saw. As the credits rolled, no one moved. They just sat there, looking straight ahead. People who had come in groups weren’t even speaking to each other. It was like they were under some sort of trance. If I were to guess what they must have been thinking, I would start by assuming that whatever it was, they were ALL thinking it. I believe that the movie had done such a good job of showing the TRUE face of racism, and that many of my fellow moviegoers were seeing their own behaviors, as well as those of their communities, unabridged, for the first time.

Now, by no means am I saying that all white people are racist, or that they are all monsters. What I AM saying is that racism is far more prevalent than most Americans like to admit, and I am also saying that this fact is and has been well known by non-white Americans for quite some time. The inconvenient truth is that racism is woven into the very fabric of our great nation, and if anything is ever going to be done to alleviate it (which every American I know will vow means a great deal to them), we must first be able to properly identify what racism truly is. In my opinion, “The Help” does a superb job of this, while being simultaneously entertaining. I hope that this movie serves as one of many catalysts for “The Help” needed to push our society closer and closer to the dream had by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rather than the pretend version we have today.

by Sirami Cohran

There are only a few films I knew I would hate before watching one frame of the film: Birth of Nation, Gone with the Wind, Madea’s What-What Extravaganza. What leads me to watch such films is their supposed sense of having a “wider cultural importance.” In each instance, I walked away from the viewing unchanged in my original opinion.

On Saturday, The Help joined their number.

I could easily rip to shreds the film’s historically inaccurate—or should I say, purposeful obfuscation—of Jim Crow-era Mississippi, which I found doubly-vexing, considering I am the son of two Civil Rights pioneers and a student of History. Instead, I will try not to impose the gravity of what surrounds the movie’s place in time, and just take apart what I saw in the film, itself.

The Help, as it’s press release states, is described as:

“A look at what happens when a southern town's unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship.”

To start, I was led to believe I would be seeing “three” courageous women in this film. What I saw were many courageous women, in excess of 30, and even a few courageous men, but not the three the filmmaker promised.

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer play two Black maids, Aibileen and Minny, who work for seemingly middle-class White families in early-1960’s Jackson, Mississippi. They, and others who toil in their trade, deal with a multitude of every day indignities, threats, tasks and challenges, all while never being elevated beyond the status of an afterthought in the minds of the families they care for.

Emma Stone plays Skeeter, a White, southern society girl who returns home college determined to become a writer, is forced by a NewYork publisher to “send her something fresh,” so decides to document the plight of the maids that populate the same space of her social class, without the benefit of basic human consideration.

And so we are off on an adventure.

Problem being that, while I clearly understand the bravery that Aibileen and Minny display—waking up Black in the South is still courageous in 2011—by agreeing to risk their very lives, and the lives of their families, to speak out about the injustices they encounter on a daily basis, I am left with an absolute blank as to what Skeeter does that is praised by those in the film and you, the real-life public, that can be remotely considered courageous?

Here is a list of opportunities Skeeter had to display courage, and failed:

  • When she asked her parents what happened to her own beloved maid, they tell her an obvious lie. She presses the issue a bit, but then leaves the room instead of searching for an answer she wants to know.
  • When attending the society bridge game, she hears a proposal to make all White homes have a toilet in them for exclusive use by the Help (thus the title), and directly from the creator of the proposals mouth. Does she shout her down? Does she vigorously, or even mildly, debate the insanity of the issue? No, on both accounts, she makes a glancing remark then continues on with her game.
  • When asked at a Society meeting, why she is stalling on doing what was asked of her, she stands up and does not have the courage to say what is really in her heart, instead promising to follow through and get it done.
  • She is forced to go on dates, by her friends and her mother, that she has no interest in going on. Yes, she walked out, but she also showed up before she walked out.
  • Seemingly every opportunity, great and small, to show courage and fortitude by Skeeter is, instead, passed up.
  • Even the book she writes, published as a tome authored “by Anonymous,” allows her to remain in the shadows amongst all, save a very select number of people who have deeply personal stories written about them in the book. Yes, I know her name could not be on the cover because it would have threatened the lives of the maids who shared their stories. Yet, I can’t help but feel it to be another example of Skeeter’s willingness to never confront anything!

Played against the two women who, again, routinely risk their lives, and the lives of their families, to meet with her, Skeeter’s cowardice is magnified. To believe Skeeter is courageous, is to believe there are different types of courage—and I don’t believe that to be the case.

I believe it courageous to be an Societal pariah and yet, not move away and take on the most popular woman in town, as Celie Foote did.

I believe it courageous to continue to try to have children when your body rejects them, and quietly and poignantly keep your suffering to yourself, as Celia Foote did.

I believe it courageous to try to organize a group of your friends to try an change a system that oppresses you, as Aibileen and Minny did with other maids.

I believe it courageous to lead an economic boycott against Jim Crow merchants, as Medgar Evers did.

I believe it courageous to take the side of righteousness, even against family, when it is presented to you, as Holly’s mother did.

I believe it courageous to pass information about organizing in the segregated South on to members of another race, as Henry the Waiter did.

I believe it courageous to take a one in a million chance at providing your children with the best possible future (this time by attempting to send them to college), no matter how wrongheaded, as the maid who took the ring did.

I believe uplifting the earthly lives and giving purpose to a community, while under the threat of lynching, is courageous, as did Preacher Green.

I believe it courageous to face the certainty of your mortality while battling cancer, with grace and without complaint, as did Skeeter’s mother—an otherwise unsympathetic figure.

And I certainly believe all those Black people in the background, who decided not to flee north, instead choosing to stand their ground while living amidst terrorists, were courageaous.

All of this courage was swirling around Skeeter, yet her contribution to the ‘Courage Pot’ was to document it... and secretly.

Even after the story is resolved and the book has been published and the villainess has been rebuffed and the marriages have been strengthened and the stereotypical abusive Black man has been put out to pasture and, as required, Kennedy’s funeral has been relived and the mother has come around to see the quality of the daughter and the maids are m=now being fed by their employers and the church has said, “Amen,” and the older people have faced their demons and come to grips with the folly of the ways and daylight has come and he wants to go home. After all this, Skeeter is yet given another opportunity to be brave.

Momma: I want to buy you some new clothes for New York.

Skeeter: How did you find out?

Momma: I’m a mother, and your publisher called.

Skeeter: But you have cancer and are dying.

Momma: This little ol’ cancer? I’ll be okay.

Skeeter: That works for me, let’s start at Macy’s…

Then again (after she has already told her mother she has decided to go to New York)

Aibileen and Minny: You are going to do great in New York.

Skeeter: I’m not going.

A & M: Why?

Skeeter: I can’t leave you two. After all you risked for me; there are bound to be nasty blowback as a result of the book. You could be killed!

A & M: We will be fine.

Skeeter: Works for me, can you give me a ride to the airport?

Never has the lead character of a movie been given so many opportunities to shine and come up empty. If this were and Indiana Jones film, our hero would have contracted gout on the plane and died of measles during the opening credits.

I get this movie and, more importantly, I get why it works. Every 6-8 years Hollywood decided to discuss the undiscussable: RACE. Sometimes it is done in a profound manner (To Kill a Mockingbird, Do the Right Thing, In the Heat of the Night); sometimes in a decent fashion (Crash, Imitation of Life, Finding Forrester); sometimes it's done tragically (Dangerous Minds, Lakeview Terrace, Obsessed). Regardless of quality, each time one of these films is put out, their importance is discussed widely because our society is yet again presented with an opportunity to discuss the Race Issue. Which is never done in any meaningful way.

I have never understood this phenomenon, as I discuss and am aware of Race in all things. That is not to say I see racism in all things, but being a Black man requires, for purposes of survival, I see things from more points of view than my own. And since I was not raised by cowards, nor raised to be a coward, I discuss all manner of things with everyone I know, Race included. I have never required popular culture to ignite that in me, though I understand my upbringing and life experiences to be unique.

My issue with The Help is not that it is an inferior movie about Race. My problem is that it is an inferior story, which means it had no opportunity to be anything other than an inferior movie, full stop. So by definition, since it is not good film, it cannot be an important film.

And that is my take on The Help.

(As an aside, should you want to see the companion film to The Help, which follows what these “Society Women’s” husbands where doing during their bridge games, please rent Mississippi Burning)


Hand Job

Everything written in this article is based on economic information gathered on Wednesday, August 10, 2011. All sources for claims made in the article have been hyperlinked for substantiation purposes.

The President is talking about job creation.

The Speaker of the House is talking about job creation.

The Senate Majority is talking about job creation.

Your Mayors, Governors and local governments are talking about job creation.

The reality, my friends, is that they are only talking about it. More jobs are not going to be created in the foreseeable future. I have the proof that will make you second guess your desire to spend money on that Career Coach, drop $40,000-100,000 on going back to school to "be better equipped for the job market," or plan any aggressive move to "get your name out there" in this market.

Regardless of what everyone else is saying about bringing jobs back to America, the reality is ...those jobs which have left, and are gone permanently. How do I know? Read on...

I never rely on what media says about anything to make my mind up, so screw those links I laid out before. Here is what I have been monitoring to make such a bold statement.


Monster.com is one of the Top 20 most visited destinations on the web, out of over 100,000,000 sites. It is the second most visited job site in America.

So how has Monster been performing in this wonderful, "everyone who is important is talking about jobs" environment?

Their stock price, due to the jobs outlook, has dropped exactly 50% since the beginning of May 2011, or more plainly, the last 3 months. The market snapped another 10% off the online job center in Wednesday's trading. Does that sound like insiders are thinking a furious crush of jobs are about to be thrown the public's way? I don't think so either?

To compound the problem, Manpower, the largest temporary staff solutions provider? employer in the world, is down 45% since the start of May, or, more plainly, in the last three months. Does that sound like great things are in the offing for new job creation? I don' t think so, either.

By watching these two companies, and using them as metrics for the future, it is not hard to surmise, jobs are not in the plans for America's near future. Sorry to break it to you, but as Levar Burton used to say on Saturday mornings: "Knowing is half the battle."

Plan accordingly.


Bull(sh*t) Market

Of note: I am writing this after the close of the bell on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. Therefore, any mention of stock price, metal price or index performance is in relation to the close of business on this day. All highlighted text are hyperlinks to my sources, so feel free to click through for proof of what I am saying. Other than that, I stand by everything you will read in the following article.

This afternoon, in a rally that started 35 minutes before the closing bell, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 429 points, to end the day at 11,239. And while the world stood up and cheered the magnificent run-up to end the session - and 1,000+ negative swing over the last few trading days - I thought it the worst possible thing that could have ever happened in an uncertain investment environment. Here's why:

The Bizarre

The responsibility for rally lie solely in the lap of the Federal Reserve, whose chairman, Ben Bernanke, made a nationally televised statement centered around two points:

1. The economy is in worse condition that they, the Fed, previously thought.
2. The have seen fit to keep interest rates, for financial institution borrowing, stagnant for the next couple of years.

On point one: The sole job of the Fed is to manage the money supply, ie watch the economy. Nobody in the world has more adept men and women in their job to do just this task. Chairman Bernanke is one of the world's foremost authorities on the subject of economics during the Great Depression. So if he, and they, are telling you that they are in new, unexplored territory, then you are in new, unexplored territory.

On point two: The Fed, which historically (before 2007) addressed the issue of interest rate adjustments once per quarter, has usurped that process by announcing that the rate for institutional borrowing will remain near 0% until at least 2013. In the past, traders had stood breathlessly awaiting the word of the chairman of the Fed on that one Tuesday per quarter where he would announce a rate increase (bad for markets), or decrease (great for markets). The actions of the chairman today were indeed bold and, perhaps, necessary to stave off a market implosion. However, he shot the entire load on this one announcement. There is literally nothing else left in the Monetary Policy bag of tricks to counter whatever roadblock is put in the path to economic recovery later on. This is vastly important to remember, but more on that later.

On a day when markets supposedly "rallied," GOLD closed higher - and not by a little bit. Gold is the place money goes when it is worried about the future. That is why Gold, that closed above $1700 for the second day in a row, has risen 132% since the day President Barack Obama was elected. Don't you find that a strange occurrence during a "rally?"

Here is more bizarre for you: Where does money go to hide in time of uncertainty? Switzerland. The Swiss Franc rose another 2.2% against the U.S. Dollar today, to continue it's steady climb toward parity to the Euro (or death to the Eurozone, should that happen). Why all the interest in Swiss Francs? Because in war and peace, in good times and bad, Swiss banks make good on all accounts; always have, always will. But why, you ask, would this happen during a "rally?"

More bizarre for you: Oil fell nearly 3% on the day, which allowed for the most bizarre news of the day. Exxon, as a result of the oil dip, lost market value at the same time the market darling, Apple, was shooting up. Apple would overtake the energy giant to become the World's Most Valuable Company, if only for a brief moment before close. Now help me understand how, in the midst of a Global Depression, with tightening credit, and massive job loss, and Austerity measures being put in place in every country in the Western world, a consumer products company (Apple) overtakes and energy giant (Exxon) in market cap? IPhone 5, my ass! Yes, Apple makes much desired products. Yes, they have the most anticipated product of 2011 hitting shelves sometime in the next six weeks. But, no, people will not have the money (or should i say "the available credit" to make the splurge. Some will, but I am certain many won't, if only because they can't. Anyone sitting on Apple shares will be crying for mercy come October. $374 will look more like $275, or even $249 (since Apple likes to end prices with nines), but more on this later.

A Few Major Companies Peek Into the Future

GM - They of the Biggest Car Company in this, or any Universe, has announced their doubts about hitting their year-end target for auto sales in the United States. Now that is a pretty odd announcement to make before your brand spanking new 2012 models hit the showrooms later this month. And even before all those great rebates and sales marketing blitzes to clear out the 2011 models have taken place.

What does GM know that the market doesn't? They know that even if you: like the car, love the car, want the car, the bank is not going to approve your loan without a substantial down payment (which you do not have), or a stratospheric credit score (which you also do not have). Banks know you do not have these requirements because if you did have them, you would not be buying a GM vehicle. That is not a joke, and was not meant to be a putdown. It was merely intended to convey the thinking behind the determination made to refuse the vast majority of loan applications that will cross their desk this Autumn. Believe it!

Fossil - The watch company that makes FOSSIL, MICHELE, RELIC, ZODIAC, ADIDAS, BURBERRY, DIESEL, DKNY, EMPORIO ARMANI, MARC BY MARC JACOBS and MICHAEL Michael Kors watches, announced that it will be coming up short this year, and shares promptly dropped 12.5%. What does Fossil know that the market doesn't?

They know that purchase orders for 4th Quarter, far and away the busiest time of the year for retailers, are trickling in this time of year, and the ordering is clearly lighter than in years past. Normally a store can write an order and have it filled within 30 days. However, the orders for 4th Quarter are so large, Fossil needs more lead time to make the product, so they require orders to be turned in by mid-July or mid-August, for delivery at the beginning of November. This year's orders must look mighty bleak for them to come out mid-year and say, "we ain't gonna make our number." But, that is exactly what they did.

Bank of America - Yes, that Bank of America. The one that nearly every person on the West Coast has an account with. Bank of America has lost half of it's market value in the last 4.5 months. That is a loss of $77,000,000,000.00 (with a "b") in four months, and oh so quietly has tis taken place. Raise your hand if you knew they are actively being sued by multiple partied to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. It is not a question of if they are going to lose, but how much the company will end up paying in damages. So the Big Five will become the Big Four, and possibly before next Summer. Doesn't seem like a good thing for the market's long term outlook.

Europe in Crisis

I have hollered about the PIIGS countries long enough, so you should be well aware of that problem be now. I will only say, if it weren't for the Arab Spring, you could look at a heat map of all the rioting in non-Islamic countries, and my case would be made. Austerity is not going down too smoothly in Europe.

There are two major stories that have come out in the last week that have not been covered by the American Press, and so here they are:

1. Italian banks, in a move to make themselves more handsome for bailout funds from the EU, have openly stated their intent to give fewer loans in the foreseeable future. That will directly impact the cost of everything at all of the world's favorite luxury goods makers. And right before 4th Quarter production runs begin. Ouch!

1.1. France, the main motor behind the Greek loans just one month ago, is now in the crosshairs for a Rating downgrade. There is a critical need for the government there to reduce their spending through passing Austerity legislation. This would show the EU that they were serious about their debt issue and, perhaps, qualify them for immediate loan assistance from the European Union. One problem: the French don't play that shit. The last time someone tried to thrust Austerity on the French, via "let them eat cake," her head wound up in a bucket. This, though necessary, will not be easy. So it cannot be good for the long term health of the market.

2. Only two (2) traditionally White Western countries are creditors at the moment. Wow, can you repeat that? Yes, I can. Only two (2) traditionally White Western counties are creditors right now.

Only the United Kingdom, which is on the Great Britain Pound, not the Euro, and Germany, which is everyone in the Euro zone is indebted to, are creditor nations in the Western world, at the moment. All of the rest of the European Union and the Americas are indebted to Asian countries (specifically Hong Kong, China and Japan). The Old Boys Club way of settling repayment "issues" out of the public eye is over! There is no more back room dealing to be done; things will not be done publicly, regardless of how embarrassing it may be.

China has already said they are not buying any US Treasury Bonds until they are backed by something other than "good faith." They want assets, and that poses a problem because I am not sure America has any assets. I am serious.

The United States

Which brings us back to the Untied States. The U.S. Credit downgrade was a major embarrassment to the political class, characterized by their flummoxed, rambling, uncoordinated and incoherent response to the news. The one unifying theme that both sides of the political aisle coalesced around was, the Super Congress being put together to look for further deficit reducing implementation strategies to bring the budget more in line. This is exactly why the more the investment community looks into what will come out of this Super Congress, the more uncertain, and unpalatable, the market's future become.

Here are a few factoids you can feel free to bank away:

There will be 12 members on this special committee. Yes, we elected 635 members to Congress to represent us (535 House of Representatives, 100 Senators), but the future of our country will be decided by only 12 members of that body - less than 2.5% of the total - and their decisions will be binding.

The findings, defining up t0 $1,500,000,000,000.00 (that's trillion with a "t!"), must be made public on November 23, 2011. For those keeping score at home, that is the day before Thanksgiving. But more importantly, two days before Black Friday, the most important shopping day of the entire American calendar year. I can't think of a better idea than releasing the most catastrophic slashes, sure to impact every soul in the country, in the nation's history, the day before everyone is meant to go out and spend all the money they do not have. Doesn't sound good for the market, does it. But wait, there is more...

After the Super Congress's determinations are made public the day before Thanksgiving, the law states that they must be voted on by, you guessed it, December 23, 2011 (since Congress does not sit on Christmas Eve or Christmas). So then these massive cuts will be made into law just in time to make it under the Christmas tree of every American, young and old. Historically, the last Saturday before Christmas is the second busiest day on the American shopping calendar. Though, since this year Christmas falls on a Sunday, that will most likely fall to the Friday before Christmas (American store usually close early on Christmas Eve, and I say "usually" with great hesitancy). So what is the date of the Friday before Christmas this year? Yeah, December 23rd. Do you think that bodes well for the market? For anyone? I don't either. But wait, there is still more...

If the Congress decides that they are afraid to vote the recommendations of the Super Congress into law - perhaps because it will be political suicide to have your name attached to this - and so vote them down, or decide not to vote at all, an automatic across-the-board cut of $1,200,000,000,000.00 (with a "t") will go into effect. So it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. Austerity is coming to a Christmas tree near you this holiday season. Which can't be good for the markets, can it?

On a side note, Max Baucus and John Kerry were just named to the Commission, so Democrats can forget it! 75-90% of the cuts will come from your side of the aisle. I'm serious.

In Closing, and Back to That Big "Rally" on Tuesday

The run up to a +429 point win for the Dow took all of 35 minutes. It was done with the full knowledge of everything I just posted ...by a few people. And those people just manipulated the market up so that they might get rid of a few of their more questionable investments. And now that this problem has been solved for those few, what is in store for the rest of us? Investors are not stupid, and they will be up all night, just like me, putting together this puzzle i have just laid out for you. When they walk into work tomorrow (Wednesday) things are going to be crazy!

That fake 400+ point rally has to disappear. So I will share with you that, the worst single day drop in the Dow Jones' history was on September 29, 2008, when it fell by -778 points. Due to the faux run-up on Tuesday afternoon, that number will be eclipsed sometime in the next 8 sessions, or between Wednesday, August 10, 2011 and Thursday, August 18, 2011.

Hold on to your hat.


The Telethon: A Photo Essay

Dear America,

I watched the Hope for Haiti telethon the other night.

The funds will go to rebuild schools . . .

Rebuild the commercial buildings destroyed due to neglect and poor building standards . . .

Hopefully the Arts can be rebuilt as well . . .

So many have died in these ruins . . .

Tens of thousands of homes sit abandoned, in unlivable condition . . .

While so many of us live a homeless existence . . .

Thank You for your efforts on behalf of the afflicted in Haiti.

What about us?

Yours Truly,

Detroit, Michigan

ps. All images taken inside the city limits of Detroit, Michigan.

The "Right" Kind of Populism

Last week, in light of the stunning loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, I pointed out the two forks in the road for Democrats in general and President Obama, specifically.

The left fork led them down the path of Progressive politics, which is the platform he, and they, ran on during the historic 2008 election. This would have them focusing on Job creation through domestic infrastructure improvements, a 6 month moratorium on foreclosures, creation of a federal loan modification agency, launching investigations into how and who crashed the financial system in 2008, tearing up the Health Insurance bill and forcing through a Health Care bill that covers every American, and embracing direct government lending to small businesses to get the economy rolling.

Exit polling from Massachusetts showed voters were displeased with the President and Democrats because they were not being Progressive enough, not because of spending. 

This seems like a lot, but President Lyndon Johnson did more, and in less time.

The other, right, fork led down the path pocked with the footsteps of Bill Clinton. This fork led to governing from under the desk in the Oval Office, embracing the ideology of the Right in hopes of squelching the criticism from the Conservative media.

President Obama, as I thought he would, has take his first, Jesse Owens-sized leap down the path on the right.

In announcing a $400+ billion DOMESTIC spending cut, President Obama has embraced the three-headed dragon of Conservative policy. And resoundingly so. The Conservative credenda requires:

  1. Cutting government spending on Americans. It is so easy to call it "domestic," but in fact, all things domestic have to do with Americans. The "Domestic Spending" argument from the Right has been code language for "Americans have too many services," though we rank nearly last among our Western counterparts in nearly every category.
  2. Not touching Defense Spending. This is important for the right because this is where they all go to die, or retire, or go after they retire from politics. The privatized militias and defense contractors are all run by, not just Republicans, but hyper-Neo Conservative Republicans, the Rightest of the Right. There is never, EVER any fat to be skimmed away from this part of the budget, though it comprises nearly 50% of the entire Federal expenditure each year. Obama chose to leave these in the category of "hands off" in his cutting.
  3. Balancing the Budget. This is the most oft-repeated phrase you will hear from the Right. the problem is, they do not believe in it, do not pursue it when in power and only make it a platform when they are thrown out of office after going on spending sprees that would make Imelda Marcos blush. Ronald Reagan, the deity himself, said (while he was in office, of course) "deficits don't matter." This of course while he was busy spending more money than all 6 Presidents before him, including some on illegal weapons deals that were part of Iran-Contra. George W. Bush put the country in a debt box from which the country could not possibly emerge, but now, after 8 years of silence while putting the tab for two wars off the books, it's time to balance the budget. The purpose of the Domestic cuts by President Obama is to meet this measure.

So he's running to the Right, and, barring a shocking, 180 degree directional shift during his State of the Union speech, look for Democrats to fall in lock-step.

I wondered what he would be able to say from the pulpit on Wednesday night, with his first year being so full of fluff ("concerns, conviction . . .the emotional kind, sympathizing and being clear") and dander (Heath Care? Murder at a yet-to-be-closed Gitmo? Afghanistan? Pakistan drone escalation? Iraq continues? No Climate legislation? No Green Jobs? Bonus Scandals? Resurgence of the opposition party? 10% Unemployment? Failed Mortgage Relief programs? Monster Banks? Bankrupt Municipalities? Massive Trade Deficits? Blanket Immunity for CIA? Prosecuting Whistle-blowers? Loss of 2 Governors and Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat? Rise of the Tea-Baggers?)? I guess the answer comes in the form of this announcement. 

While watching the speech on Wednesday, expect the Democrats to give standing ovations for nearly everything the President says. And though the last time he spoke to Congress he was called a "liar" mid-speech, when President Obama announces the Domestic Spending Freeze, expect the Republicans to get out of their chairs to take their two hands off the neck of Congressional legislative pipeline, and applaud this "Right" kind of populism.


A Most Uncomfortable Moment

This coming Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at approximately 8pm EST, President Obama will stand at a podium to deliver his 1st State of the Union Speech to the nation. The irony of the timing could not be more pronounced. 

For on that very day another address will probably steal the the President's thunder. Steve Jobs is expected to use his highly-anticipated early afternoon talk to unveil the latest in a string of innovative, revolutionary Apple products, the iTablet, which will dominate the consumer electronic category, breathing life into a dormant economy. . . which is a bit more than anyone expects will come from the pulpit in the evening. 

But back to the President and his speech.

The State of the Union proceedings are full of customs, with attendance, seating arrangements and even the first line of the President's speech, already laid out. And therein lies the rub.

This will perhaps be the most uncomfortable State of the Union in our nations history. Since the State of the Union was not read aloud by a President from 1801 to 1923, instead being delivered in written text to Congress, there was no SOTU address preceding the Civil War, which would have been the only time I can imagine being as uncomfortable.

The problem is not in what the President will say after all the formalities are covered, it's everything up to that point.

The President has to stand in front of a seated Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Joe Biden. While Biden remains a fairly popular figure with the public, he has, much to everyone's surprise, been pushed far into the background during this first year of the Obama Administration. Speaker Pelosi,on the other hand, has one of the lowest public approval ratings of any person to hold that position. And she is the person who must call the chamber to order.

Next, we must then consider that both the entire House and Senate will be seated before the President. This at a time when these members Congress are under attack (rightfully) by members of their own party.

 Democrats are only now awakening to the wrath of the Progressive members of the party, who are seizing on the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts this week, to redirect their political contributions and assail the parties actions over the past 12 months in print and in the blogosphere. 

Republicans are grappling with how to appease the  Teabagger element of it's party, who have already won seats in the Senate and Governors mansions across the country, by running it's candidates against other Republicans.

Congress, as a whole, is polling far worse than even Speaker Pelosi.

Seated in front of the Congress will be members of the Presidential Cabinet. Among their number will be the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The public dismay with two costly and increasingly deadly wars (one of which we just escalated), allegations of murder at Gitmo, military contractor misconduct (some criminal), ballooning budgets (46% of the total national budget) and the increasingly shocking revelations about CIA actions in regard to secretly run black sites still being run around the globe, have a growing chorus calling for the President to relieve Secretary Gates of his duty, in an effort to seek a needed new direction on these fronts.

And then there are the members of the very first row, the Justices of the Supreme Court. After Thursday's ruling in favor of granting 1st Amendment Rights to corporations, this will be the first time in the television era where these nine men and women will be more than "the people people in black." Without getting into the details of the decision itself, the public outcry over the ruling has been rancorous and, with each day giving understanding of it's impact, fearful.

Then there's President Obama, who has spent a year throwing away nearly every bit of the enormous political capital he was swept into office with in his efforts to "make friends" with legislators who have: questioned his citizenship, distributed political fliers with racist themes about himself and members of his family, called him a liar ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, refused Cabinet positions he has offered, stalled every piece of legislation he has asked for from the Congress and spent the summer starting and stoking fears of his creating "Death panels" that would kill their family members. 

In the 1st year in office, no President has ever seen a larger drop in the public approval rating. Made more remarkable because, no President in the modern era has ever entered the Oval Office with higher approval ratings than Barrack Obama.

President Obama's signature piece of legislation, the Health Care reform that became the Health Insurance reform Bill, is hugely unpopular and has still not reached his desk. This despite the President setting a deadline of early-August 2009, then October, then Christmas and lastly, before his State of the Union speech. 

With Congress, at the President's direction, working on appeasing the minority opposition party, every other piece of important legislation had to be tabled in an effort to "get things done" on Health Care. And things have not "got done."

So it is in this environment, with the specter of; 10.5% (officially, though some estimates are now at 18.9%) Unemployment, Wall Street Holding the country's credit system hostage, record foreclosure, record evictions, municipal and state governments cutting back on critical services due to financial struggles (to the point of California holding a state-run garage sale) and withering American industries, from automobiles to insurance to retailers, hanging over his head, the President is required by protocol, to deliver this as the first line of his speech:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the State of the Union is strong."

Regardless of how eloquent or soaring the speech is from that point, this requirement will seem detached from the realities for many in the country, and make for a most uncomfortable moment.


Three Party System

As a 17 year-old, I can distinctly remember sitting in the cinema, watching the curtains part (they used to do that, you know) and escaping into the fantastical world of RoboCop for two hours.

At the time, RoboCop was one of my favorite movies, and though I have only seen the original one time, it was such a visceral experience, I still maintain almost complete recall of it's story.

In those younger days of mine, the takeaway from the movie was an awesome, kick ass police officer who, when challenged, BLEW SHIT UP! Bank shots off metal plates to save a witness, bionic arm smacks that sent bad guys 200 feet into the air and an internal laser-sight, which allowed for perfect targeting with each shot. I was a teenage boy, and nothing could have been a better source of escape than an invulnerable half-human super robot crime-fighter. Pathetic, eh?

Now I am much older and have not thought of the movie for years. Yet, yesterday, upon hearing the Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of corporations being granted 1st amendment rights, right after thinking, "OH MY GOD, NO!," my thoughts travelled back to RoboCop, only from a different perspective.

I thought about the corporation in the film, Omni Consumer Products, and how the Mayor of Detroit (where the corporation is located) was, literally, always at their headquarters. In every scene where the CEO of OCP needed to speak to the Mayor, he would take an elevator, walk into another room, or just spin around in his chair and, abracadabra, there he was. 

Additionally, the Mayor of Detroit not only does exactly what the CEO of Omni Consumer Products tells him, when in trouble, he actually seeks council from the company as well. 

This, in my younger years, slipped by me as outlandish and impossible. Chief Justice Roberts and four other Justices just made this, not a probability, but an eventuality.

In giving corporations the legal right to directly finance political campaigns, much like the life of Jesus of Nazareth, life in America can henceforth be known as B.D. (before decision) and A.D. (after decision).

If you feel this is an overreach, here are 10 questions you need to ask yourself before telling me I am crazy.

10. Walmart will chart $405,300,000,000 (that's Billion!) in sales by the time the fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month. That's $1.2 billion a day, $50.5 million an hour (on a 24 hr sched.) and $842,070 per minute. 

The maximum allowable donation an individual can give a candidate is $2300 per election contest (you can give $2300 for primary, then another $2300 for a General). 

Walmart makes $2300 every 0.17 of a SECOND (as in $14,030 per full second). 

For a person making $75,000 per year, this is the equivalent of donating ONE PENNY of your salary each year.

How do you think any individual, or group of donors, will be able to compete with that?

9. The hardest thing to do for any political candidate, is getting a crowd together. That is why President Obama's run for the White House was so amazing. His ability to pull in crowds, was the main reason media could not overlook his candidacy. Same with all the (wrong-headed) "buzz" about Sarah Palin's book tour.

If the company you are working at calls a "meeting" at which a political candidate is going to speak, what percentage of the people who work in your office are going to be no-shows? EXACTLY!

8. What will stop corporations from getting a bailout every time they have a poor quarter?

7. Since it is now legal to directly finance elections, what will stop your company from sending you, or hiring a workforce, to distribute campaign literature, knock on doors, drive people to the polls and work the phones, on behalf of their candidate?

6. What is to stop companies from REQUIRING you have a Voter Registration Card as a condition of employment? 

5. What is to stop corporations from using their candidates to overturn all the workplaces freedoms we currently take for granted? Sick pay, vacation, cost of living raises, medical benefits, privacy of our records (medical, education and employment), the ability to seek arbitration, severance packages, maternity leave, OSHA standards, workday limits and workplace injuries come to mind.

4. What is to stop, say, Microsoft from getting their legislators to change Eminent Domain laws, then removing every resident from the south side of Chicago, so they can the land cheaply, build a new campus for headquarters, all in the name of "civic beautification?"

3. Is not disposing of toxic materials in the air, water and soil illegal ONLY BECAUSE THE LAW SAYS IT IS? Change the laws and it is no longer illegal, and all you need to change the laws are new legislators.

2. Since all corporations are essentially multi-national now (most certainly the biggest and most powerful are), how can we deny the immediate impact of foreign influence on our political system AND LAWS? 

Sony (Japan) says only it's eReader will be allowed in public universities, CitiBank (Saudi Arabia) says only it's credit cards are allowed for LINK payments, Mercedes (Germany) school buses are required in all districts and Nestle (Switzerland) products will be the only approved products for school lunch programs. All mere examples of the limitless possibilities in the offing.

1. Why would your "representative" EVER answer the phone, shake hands or answer your email? 

This ruling will make raising money from individuals unnecessary. I foresee, in the very near future, that much like the charitable drives that have invaded the workplace (ie Susan Komen walk and United Way drives), your political contributions will be "suggested" to be done through your place of work.

"Jim Wilson is going to keep our plant open, and he got that government contract for us. You WERE going to give him that money, correct? Why not just write the check out here?"

These are only a few of the most rudimentary questions for those of you, Republican or Democrat, to ask yourself. 

Others include: 

  1. Why the need for social services? Why would a company want to fire you, then pay for you to "do nothing?" 
  2. Why fund schools with government money? This has been in the cards for years. It can be a reality now.
  3. Why allow the Internet to remain a place where ideas (dissent) can be exchanged?
  4. Why not make it harder (impossible) for people to change jobs by claiming humans (and all their accumulated knowledge) as intellectual property? This is already slowly working it's way up the courts.
  5. How can there ever be a reform of any industry when the industries are writing the law?

Here in America, the most progressive of us have long wanted a third party, so as to check the Democrats and Republicans on their back and forth shafting of the taxpayers. 

Unfortunately, through the 5-4 decision of the Court, we have just witnessed the birth of that 3rd party. Which in a matter of a few short years, will be the dominant force in American politics . . . and our daily lives.

Post Script:

I have noticed two prominent Republicans, John McCain and Olympia Snowe, out on the stump decrying the actions of this court. They are both two politicians who are on their way out the door and are looking for "legacy points."

When the chips were on the table, at confirmation time for Justices Alito and Roberts, let us see how these two pillars voted (click for enlargement).

As the late, great Bernie Mac put it: NUFF SAID!


Will You Hear Us Now?

President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel infamously stated, "there is no need to worry about the left." He was talking, of course, about the deafening screams coming from the ordinary citizens who call themselves Democrats, each time a piece of the Healthcare Bill was stripped away to make Republicans happy.

His thinking was, what are Democrats going to do? Vote for a Republican? Stay home and not vote? 

Well now that the seat of the most famous Senator on the issue of Healthcare, Democratic Icon Ted Kennedy, has gone to a Republican in today's election, that question has been answered resoundingly in the AFFIRMATIVE!

Make no mistake about it, this is a smack in the face of the Democratic Congress and their overly-mollifying leader, President Obama, of stratospheric proportions. A Republican holding the Senate Seat that was held by Ted Kennedy for over 4 decades, inherited from his brother, Jack, upon taking the Office of the Presidency, is akin to Israel electing a Palestinian to the Presidency. I am not kidding about that either, Massachusetts is on fire tonight.

This election result is that devastating. 

A rapid switch to bullying position, with a series of 15 minute prime-time press conferences to explain why he has abandoned his courtship of the do-nothing, stall-everything Republican members of the Congress, and is now forging ahead, with the full support of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, on a broad and immediate Progressive Agenda.

So now what? There are two roads. I will discuss the least (nearly impossible) likely first.

President Obama could fire the Republican-lite Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Since the COS decides who sees the President and sets the Administration's Agenda, anything other than the resignation of Emanuel will signal a "Stay-the-Course" policy. With new blood in the Office, Obama would gain access to the many (and growing) voices from around the country that been grotesquely disappointed by the President's inaction on many fronts thus far, from jobs to healthcare. 

Using the Executive Order as a weapon, Obama could:

  • Create jobs overnight with the stimulus funds still in the bank.
  • End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the Armed Forces.
  • Close Gitmo.
  • Redirect money and resources from the two War theaters to Haitian relief efforts.
  • Open investigations into those responsible for the collapse of the entire world's Financial system.
  • Ask members of Congress to stay in town until a new, single-payer healthcare bill is passed, and make said bill effective in January 1, 2011, not 2013, as the current bill calls for.
  • Place a national moratorium on all foreclosure action for 6 months, while your team puts in place a Federally-run mortgage re-negotiation network.

This would cause his (and Congress's) poll numbers to plummet in the short term, as, while many Americans expected such actions after his election in 2008, many are wary of such overt strong-arming these days. But as more Americans start to see jobs return to their communities, neighbors start to share stories of mortgage relief, news reports start to show arrests of those few financially malevolent persons on Wall Street and health clinics begin to reopen in communities across the country, those concerns will give way to broad, firm support for the President's actions.

This, of course, will not happen.

What will happen is, the President will go the route of William Jefferson Clinton, and start to govern EVEN MORE to the Right, as a political survival tool.

When Clinton lost the midterms in 1994, he ran to the Right with warp speed. In his haste to please Republican legislators in the run-up to the 1996 Presidential election, Clinton gutted the "socially irresponsible" Welfare program, decreased unemployment benefits and gave employers the go-ahead to reduce COBRA benefits by two months. The coup-de-grace was his signing into law, the Financial Modernization Act, which was the origin of the Financial collapse of 2008 and, conversely, made each of those reductions in the societal safety net all the more devastating, as more Americans were in need of a helping hand than any time in the last 60 years.

I have already suggested President Obama as Carol Mosley Braun, the last "promising" Senator from Illinois who squandered their national spotlight, only to be roundly defeated in a re-election bid. The threat of Obama irrelevancy is real: President's that serve one term are not the stuff of legend. Just ask Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. What he does to get a second term, which is now certainly threatened, must be closely watched.

The decisions by Clinton were not just awful, they were dangerous. Fortunately, they were amidst the backdrop of an America in the primacy of of it's financial heft. Should this President choose to go down the same path, which seems likely, the consequences will be incalculable. 


Oh, Pat!

So Pat Robertson says that:

"Haitians freed themselves in the 1700's by making a pact with the Devil, who subsequently helped them defeat the French." And since then (due to the "pact"), have been cursed by one disaster after another."

Well here is the real history of the time period Reverend Pat is talking about.

In the late 18th century, Haiti's Black native population was almost entirely enslaved, though a few were free land-holders. The overwhelming majority of the island was in possession of France, followed by Great Britain, then Spain.

A former slave by the name of Toussaint L'ouverture, who up until 1793 considered himself a French Loyalist, joined the Spanish armed forces in Haiti, because he saw the Spaniards as being the group most likely to free ALL the Island's slaves.

By the end of the year, slavery in all the Spanish territories was abolished. And when Britain sent thousands of reinforcements to the island to protect their "business interests," Haitian emancipation was forcibly put down in every territory the troops took back. 

Choosing to hide and rethink his former strategy, L'ouverture was able to, in a few months, organize nearly all the islands 3,800,000 former slaves into a militia. Yes, he was uneducated and lacked an understanding of military strategy, but, as the saying goes, they had more on the line than the opposing forces.

L'ouverture started by routing the Spanish, his former allies, as he saw them as being willing to renegotiate the articles of emancipation, in an effort to keep a part of the Haiti in Spanish hands. 

The Spanish defeat was swift and thorough. Within 11 months the Spaniards would lose control of over 85% of their former holdings and spend the following 9 months buying time for rescue ships to pick up the remaining infantrymen, who were allowed to live in peace during their wait, as long they did not pick up arms again.

Next, in 1795, after subduing the Spanish battalions, L'ouverture and his army turned to fight the British. While the ultimate victory over the British army would come, officially, in 1798, the Haitians would need only 13 months to beat back the Brits to the ocean. There were few, if any, British fighting forces anywhere on the island, save a few coastal towns, after 1796.

In 1801, after the Spanish formally surrendered their remaining interests in the island, L'ouveture announced a new Constitution for Haiti. In summation the Constitution:

  1. Abolished Slavery
  2. Made Him Governor of the Haiti for the rest of his life

Yes, Pat. you read that correctly. Within the founding document of the newly-free Haiti, are articles making the State religion, CATHOLICISM! And TO THIS DAY, 80% of all Haitians consider themselves CATHOLIC.

No voodoo. No devil. No talismans. No blood rituals. 

They went to Sunday Mass, celebrated Easter and Christmas, built churches and sent to Rome for members of the clergy. And still do!

There was no "pact with the devil." However there was a "pact" with a young nation by the name of the United States of America. 

You see, Pat. One of the Founding Fathers had grown up in the Caribbean Islands. Alexander Hamilton had vivid memories of watching slaves beaten half to death, or crushed and burned in the sugar cane mills that worked around the clock to sate Europe's insatiable appetite for the sweet substance.

His horrific memories of those younger days translated, in 1799, to Hamilton supporting a Trade Agreement between the United States and Haiti. Hamilton, at the time, was the highest ranking economic figure in America, so his support was the difference. The agreement, Hamilton understood, was a crucial first step for a newly-formed country, as he had been part of the diplomatic effort to secure trade just 10 years prior for the brand new U.S. This, and a similar agreement with the British, proved to Haiti's dominant source in it's quest to become economically empowered.

Unfortunately, the Agreement between the countries would be nullified in 1801, with the ascension of a slave-owning member of the Southern Planter -Class, Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton's biggest political rival (at the time. Of course, in time Aaron Burr would come to define "political rivalry."), to the Presidency. The idea of Black self-governance was just too beyond the pale for my distant ancestor to be able to come to grips with.

In the end, Napoleon would mount a furious attack on the island in 1802, and his troops successfully captured L'ouveture. Though, instead of killing the Haitian leader and inflaming the passions of the island's 4 million plus inhabitants, Napoleon suffered him exile. 

This would prove disastrous, because with knowledge of L'ouveture being alive, there were frequent uprisings against the French troops and officials living in Haiti. 

With France already in terrible economic shape from the infamous Revolution which had ended only a few years before, and with brewing plans for war with Great Britain, Napoleon had few avenues available to him for the purpose of raising the funds needed to raise, outfit, train, ship and pay the number of troops necessary to secure Haiti from insurrection, properly. 

As a matter of fact, he had exactly one option in his pocket, so he reached for it.

Napoleon would, in the Autumn of 1802, instruct his Treasury Minister to raise funds by selling off their "useless" western holdings. The "western holdings" sale was finalized in the Spring of 1803.

History, correctly, never refers to it as the "western holdings" sale. Generally it is referred to as "The Louisiana Purchase," which more than doubled the size of the United States and abolished from our lands, the greatest foreign threat to our young nation, thus allowing the U.S. to grow in peace.

That is what I think of, Reverend Pat, when I think of Haiti.

So if you want to take your ball and go home because this particular poor country has not allowed your 'ministries" to make significant inroads with the population, that's fine. Just try not to call a country chockfull of fellow Christians, "heathens" on the way out.