Black President by Rick Schmidt


Hello again.  Happy to be back on BLOG as the US election gets uglier!  Now Georgia Representative John Lewis, a Black veteran of civil rights protests, says the tone of the Republican campaign reminds him of the hateful atmosphere that racist George Wallace (also a Presidential candidate) encouraged in Alabama in the 1960s.  WHITE McCain against BLACK Obama!


Many chapters in BLACK PRESIDENT focus on the US race question;  riots and bombings in the 60s to the difficulties of a Black family raising kids under economic hardship, the multi-problem family where at any one time some close Black relative or friend is experiencing deprivation of basic human needs (lack of food, housing, income, respect). In 2005 Congress declared an official APOLOGY to the Black community for having ‘lynching as part of a policy’ in America.  And earlier THIS year Congress again offered another official apology, this time for ’slavery in America.’  Does it seem that these declarations are too little too late?  Actually lynchings aren’t so distant an

occurance — last ones happened in the 1960s!!  The important question NOW is, how active is racism in America and how will the memories and the facts of discrimination impact the ‘08 Nov. election?  Can Obama get the votes he needs when the average American closes that black cloth behind him/her in a tiny voting booth and marks the ballot for President of the United States according to his/her subconscious imprinting?


In this final lap to the voting booths things are definitely heating up, especially as Republicans see victory slipping away.  Have you heard Palin or McCain calling themselves “mavericks?”  Well, the Texas relatives of a guy named Samuel Augustus Maverick, who lived in eaarly 1800s and got his name from deciding not to brand his cattle, are insensed.  Maverick’s great grandson, Maury Jr., a lawyer, who defended draft registers, atheists, etc, served in Texas Legislature during the McCarthy era, and wrote his final column in the San Antonio Express opposing the war in Iraq, is disgusted with McCain cosying up to his family name.  He says, “John McCain IS NOT A MAVERICK in any use of the word, “uppercase or lowercase.”  Another family member, Ms. Terrellita Maverick, 82, is a member emeritus of the board of the San Antonio ACLU and represents family that stands for progressive politics from the 1600s (an early Boston ancestor got into trouble with the law “over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants”).  She’s enraged that McCain, who has voted often for his party’s platforms, says he’s not part of the Republican herd  “He’s a Republican,” she says.  “He’s branded!”


So what’s at stake in this US election?  Some say the basic way of life in America is on the table.  Invading soverign nations?  Continue letting the richest 2% continue to rake in 20% of the profits while the rest of us live on credit cards because we don’t earn enough to cover all the rising costs of housing, gas, food, etc.?  What about a woman’s continuing right to choose?  And it’s frightening to live in a country where Homeland Security has tried to strip the basic rights of US citizens.  Here’s what a fellow filmmaker friend sent me a while back, warning me that even our overseas correspondence could be suspect and dangerous:


“WARNING: Due to presidential executive orders and signing statements, and provisions passed by the previous Republican-controlled Congress, the National Security Agency may have read this posting, as well as and any other private correspondence of mine, and may listen to my private phone conversations without warrant, warning, or notice, and certainly without probable cause. They may also arrest me without telling me of any charges against me, even transport me outside the United States, and hold me secretly and indefinitely in an undisclosed location without notifying my wife or relatives, and deny me access to an attorney. They may take my property under the executive order of July 17, 2007, never to be returned. They may torture me without fear of penalty or repercussions to them for their actions. They may do all these things to me, or to you, with little or no judicial or legislative oversight. This danger became ever more apparent, and ominous, on Sept. 19, 2007, when the U.S. Senate failed to reinstate habeas corpus as an inalienable right of American citizens.”


Enough food for thought?  Check out The New York Times article about blocked habeas corpus: . Here’s what says about the initial Act of 2006 (McCain voted FOR IT, Obama AGAINST IT!):


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The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was — and remains — one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate (65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act — because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees — “sets back basic rights by some 900 years” and was “patently unconstitutional on its face” — and Specter then proceeded to vote for it.


The greatest victim of the 9/11 attack has been our core, defining constitutional liberties. Of all the powers seized by this administration in the name of keeping us Safe, the power to imprison people indefinitely with no charges and no real process is the most pernicious.


Passage of the Military Commissions Act was spearheaded by John McCain, who was anointed by cowardly Senate Democrats to speak for them and negotiate with the White House. Once McCain blessed the Military Commissions Act, its passage was assured. Barack Obama voted against it, and once its passage appeared certain, Obama offered an amendment to limit it to five years. That amendment failed, rendering the MCA the law of the land without any time limits.


The Supreme Court today did what the Founders envisioned it should do: it protected our basic constitutional guarantees from erosion and assault by a corrupt majority within the political class. In so doing, the Court took a mild though important step in reversing some of the worst and most tyrannical excesses of the last seven years.”

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See for that full article). On June 12, 2008, habeas corpus was finally reinstated by the Supreme Court, in a close 5 to 4 decision. 


So it’s pretty chilling to be an American in 2008 and beyond. Bush and his cronies (various secret intelligence agencies) have come close to destroying the basic fabric of this country, usually under the flag of ‘patriotism.’ What we have to worry about now is how the next President will impact the US Supreme Court, when justices step down and are replaced (one vote saved habeas corpus!). BLACK PRESIDENT gives a glimpse of American conspiracies, subterfuge and scandals over the last 50 years that have ushered us into this entangled mess.



2 Responses to “Black President by Rick Schmidt”

  1. Gisela Hoyle Says:

    Hi Rick: exciting times – in all sorts of ways. I really liked the small history on the word ‘maverick’ – too many people abuse it to mean vaguely interesting!

  2. Rick Schmidt Says:

    Thanks for the comment Gisela. Sounds like you are covering some amazing things in your The White Kudo. A friend of mine, Gary Thorp, wrote a book on his search for ther elusive California mountain lion (he never spotted it, but understood the journey as the thing, a zen journey (‘Caught in Fading Light,’ Walker and company, 2002). Sounds like you book has a similiar transformational quality. I love your reference to deserts. Still yearn for Santa Fe, New Mexico desert and Death Valley in California/Nevada (have shot several movies out there when the temperature was nothing like the 130 of high summer). At any rate, you remind me of that special feeling when you discuss The White Kudo. Looking forward to reading your book!

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