Thursday, August 27, 2009

Taps for health care or for Teddy

By Don Klein

The passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy brings to mind the inaugural address of his older brother, John F. Kennedy. On January 20, 1961 he said, "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."

With the last of the Kennedy brothers gone that "new generation" is history.

The question is what happens with today’s generation? The American era that started with JFK brought Olympian changes to the American scene – a period of nearly a half century of social, political and emotional upheaval in the history of the country. Sadly it also brought virtually endless military conflicts of ignoble and nasty circumstances.

Ted Kennedy played an important role in those years and even might have been president if it weren’t for the fact he was perceived as a womanizer and an inebriate. When he first entered the Senate at the minimal age of 30, he was considered a lightweight riding on the broad shoulders of his more accomplished and influential bigger brothers, Jack and Bobby.

Still many looked at him as the heir to the Massachusetts senate seat and possibly even presidential timber. Then there was the Chappaquiddick incident in which a young woman died in his car after he drove it off a road and it sunk into the harbor. They had just left a party of former Kennedy campaign volunteers at which much boozing occurred.

But the new era to which Jack Kennedy envisoned was kept alive and Teddy played important roles along the way. Civil rights legislation was passed, the Supreme Court knocked down school segregation, there was abortion relief, laws helping the disabled and aimed at improving educational opportunities were enacted. New acts on immigration, minimum wages, women’s issues, mental health care and children’s health insurance came into being.

Teddy may have started out as a lightweight and got himself into a lot of unnecessary and unwise troubles associated with a spoiled rich kid but he eventually straightened out. One can only guess what kind of country we would have today if Teddy had won the Democratic primary against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and went on to defeat Ronald Reagan for president in the general election.
The new generation his brother Jack talked about in his inaugural address went on with the first Bush moving into the White House following Reagan and Bill Clinton coming along after him. Then there was the calamitous second Bush presidency, making a mockery of the high ideals Jack Kennedy had aimed at 40 years earlier.

But the Kennedy generation was still alive as long as Teddy was alive.

Today there are no successors to the Kennedy dream now that Teddy is gone. There are no senators, Democratic or Republican, who can carry the title of a bona fide political leader. And we have a president who has yet made his mark on the public, let alone history. With Barack Obama, however, we have the hope a new generation of leadership which at this point still needs definition.

Obama won a stirring victory in the primary and the general elections last year, true, but had a rocky first seven months in office. It is hard to imagine this is a new era of great accomplishments unless an achiever emerges. There are none in Congress at the moment, so we will have to settle for Obama, the only potential mover of the body politic, the only current inspiration for a new generation.

It is never fair to compare leaders from different times. The Jack Kennedy and Obama circumstances were and are different. The problems were and are not the same. The opposition was and is dissimilar. It may be just that Obama may not have the intestinal instincts to go after his opponents like a Kennedy would.

Obama has been soft-selling his health plan even though he had a filibuster-proof majority. He has been seeking bipartisanship that doesn’t exist. Tragically he has lost that trump card with Teddy’s death.

Now the Republicans hold the trump card. We all knew the 60-40 majority was in danger with Teddy’s mortal ailment yet the White House diddled the time away and is now in grievous straights with the bill. If this period is to eventually be called the Obama era, the president has to move quickly and start twisting arms of resistant Democrats and making deals with disobliging Republicans.

We will soon see if this new president is all promise and little clout.

The Kennedy era will fade away as they lower Teddy’s coffin into the earth near his assassinated brothers in Arlington National Cemetery. Army buglers will play the plaintiff strains of Taps and a major question will remain: Are they playing it to honor Teddy’s nearly five decades of public service or are they playing it for Obama’s failed drive for a national health plan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Curse the dark or light a candle

By Don Klein

If universal health care for Americans is weakened because of an honest discourse between the people and their government representatives,
that would be democracy in action. No dispute from me.

If on the other hand health care gets diluted to the level of being eyewash rather than a substantive reform because of fear, misinformation and downright lies, that’s a national disgrace.

What is going on now is a strange combination of both these propositions.

Fear seems to be playing the biggest part, though. When Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley put himself in the same box with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin suggesting old people might be euthanized there is only one explanation. Spreading fear.

Grassley knows better and should be ashamed of himself. I’ve given up on Palin. I can’t figure whether she is a demagogue or just plain stupid. She fits both personas.

There will be no medical coverage for illegal aliens nor will abortion seekers be handed free care, as many believe. But there are legitimate other concerns on the part of many people and even though I don’t indorse these worries, they are real.

For example, older folks feel that in order to do all that must be done to reform health options and to pay for it, Medicare recipients will have to accept reduced services and possibly higher deductions and co-pays. Obama said he wants to eliminate waste in Medicare and that raises the alarm bell for many seniors who love the program just the way it is.

Then there are the veterans who fear their health benefits will be severely altered to save money needed to fund the new health program. Obama swore their benefits will not be touched.

There is the fright that the government can’t run a complicated program like health care because government doesn’t run anything well. That is generally true, but it is not an axiom. The government runs Medicare well enough to please most seniors. It also does a fairly decent job with the military, although at an awfully high cost. And any retired person will attest to the dependability of Social Security.

What I see as the most consuming problem when universal health care becomes available will be the lack of adequate numbers of health care providers. There are simply not enough doctors to handle the health needs in the country now. Try to get a doctor’s appointment today without having to wait three or four or more months. I have to call my specialists for annual check-ups in November for January-February sessions or I have to wait months longer.

What is going to happen when we add the 46 to 50 million Americans who currently are uninsured. Even if only half of those who will be brought under the new health plan need to visit a doctor, the medical work load will more than just bend, it could fracture. This is especially so if we begin a new era, as Obama has said many times, of preventive medicine.

As of now doctors only spend a few minutes with each patient and in that time they are supposed to give you the full benefit of their medical expertise. We spend more time explaining the problems of our automobile to the service manager at a car repair shop than we do with doctors.

There is no excuse for the mechanic not making the correct repairs, but the doctor may fail your diagnosis because he has little time to thoroughly evaluate your problem and if the symptoms are not obvious it might be overlooked in the crush of his schedule. Add millions more to the patient pool and the situation could become disheartening.

That doesn’t mean we should not bring those in need into the medical insurance program. The worst thing we can do in do nothing because that invites even worse circumstances. We need portability of insurance, we need protection from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, we need other procedural updates outlined many times by proponents of the plan.

We must expect a disruption in the way things proceed for the 80 percent of the country who are already covered by insurance. The change will not be smooth, change never is, but change is necessary and inevitable. Given these factors, I have a simple question to ask those who oppose universal health care.

Please tell me why you are championing the multi-billion dollar insurance industry which currently is pushing the nation towards bankruptcy to feed its own greed? There is absolutely no advantage to leaving things the way they are. None of us will benefit except the big insurers. So opponents should stop worrying about "death panels" that were never considered in the first place nor an Orwellian future of an all powerful government running our lives.

Today’s insured will loose some conveniences and the uninsured will gain coverage under a new system which will include everyone. It is a good trade off. We will still have our favorite doctors (although we will have to share their services with a larger clientele), we will still get our emergency care, our preventive medical treatment and no one will deny grandma her medicine when she turns 80.

Health care in this country now is more expensive than it should be. The costs get worse. We deserve better. So what’s the big deal in changing it and hoping for better. When it comes to health care the choice is clear: We can either curse the darkness or light a candle.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Horrifying road images

By Don Klein

The tragic death of eight guiltless people, including four children, on New York’s Taconic Parkway on a recent July Sunday brought back a troubling nightmare which to this day – more than a half century later -- reoccurs in my thoughts.

I am talking about the incident in which a mother of two was driving her offspring plus three young nieces back from an upstate lakefront campsite when for some unknown reason she ended up driving the wrong way on a busy Westchester County road. After a miraculous 1.7 mile flight of accident avoidance as others swerved around her, she plowed her minivan into a SUV occupied by three men.

The driver of the errant vehicle, Diane Schuler, 36, her daughter and nieces, ranging in age from 2 to 8 years, and the three men all perished. Only her five year old son survived and will spend weeks in the hospital recovering. This disaster reminded me of what happened in 1955 when I was a young reporter just out of college at my first newspaper job.

I can remember it as if it happened yesterday and that’s the worst part of it. I was finishing off my morning rewrites at about 11.30 when the editor of the The Journal-News in Nyack, NY, came over. "There’s been a bad accident," he said, "Why don’t you grab one of the cameras, run over and get some pictures for tomorrow’s paper."

My boss, Norman Baker, was an experienced and easy going leader who helped shape the early years of my career. As a 9,000 circulation community paper in the shadow of the giant New York city dailies, he had to focus on local news to hold readers. Norm, an instinctive newsman, was always thinking of tomorrow’s front page.

I was eager to cover a breaking story. After all wasn’t that the reason I wanted to be a journalist and weren’t those the skills they tried to instill in us at NYU’s journalism school? The breaking news I had envisioned were major stories in New York, or big time politics in Washington or crucial stories of conflict and wars around the world, not a traffic accident. But you had to start somewhere.

I grabbed one of the paper’s two archaic Speed Graflex cameras and headed for the scene. When I arrived it was clear there was a calamity unfolding. Emergency vehicles with flashing lights were all over the place and as I approached the crash site with camera in hand I could see what happened.

A giant tanker-trailer had crossed over the center line and crushed a private sedan against the opposite side railing. The crash had occurred on an elevated portion of the road where it passed over a small hamlet in the valley several hundred feet below. The cab of the tanker had been propelled over the edge and crashed in a field many feet below. The tanker itself was crunched against the squashed car on the road.

The auto looked as if a King Kong-like creature had stepped on it and as the volunteer firemen were working feverishly to free its inhabitants I couldn’t understand why they were still at it some 20 minutes after we had learned of the accident by police radio.

Later I learned that the rescuers feared using acetylene torches to cut away the roof of the car to get to the trapped souls because they did not know the contents of the tanker and feared a spark could cause an explosion. Instead they used giant hand-powered saws to cut off the roof.

When they were close to hacking through the roof I positioned myself a few feet up a lamppost for a better view, focused my camera on the car and watched as the rescuers bent back the shattered remains of the car. I then saw a vision which has haunted me ever since.

There were six people inside, all members of one family. There was a father and mother, two children and two grandparents. They were jumbled up and entangled like the sorriest collection of discarded dolls in a child’s closet. The difference was that these were human beings. The first one out was the young mother. You could see she had a terrible head wound and was dead. Her eyes stared sightlessly at the sky as they carried her body passed where I was standing.

The elderly couple also were crushed beyond life as was the little girl. Their bodies were horribly contorted by the crash. Blood was everywhere. The father and son recovered, and were hospitalized for many months. The truck driver died inside his fallen cab many feet below. I took many pictures which appeared in the next edition and wrote the story. Made sick by the experience, I couldn’t eat dinner that night.

The investigation found no obvious cause for the accident and in the end police concluded that the truck driver, who had been on the road for a long stint, apparently fell asleep as his rig entered the bridge, crossing into oncoming traffic and caromed into the car crushing the family coming in the opposite direction.

The final toll: Five people died, two were seriously injured. Two families – those in the sedan and the truck driver’s wife and children – were decimated.

The conclusion: It didn’t have to happen if only the truck driver had rested.

The Taconic accident also didn’t have to happen. A toxicology report revealed that Ms. Schuler’s blood-alcohol level was twice that for determining drunken driving and there was a high level of marijuana in her system.

Less than 30 minutes before the fatal crash she had spoken to her brother by cell phone and complained of having trouble focusing. He told her to pull off the road and he would come get her. She didn’t.

If only she had heeded his advice.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ramirez-Ortiz out, Vick in

By Don Klein

Isn’t it ironic that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz who tested positive for taking illegal performance enhancing drugs are still allowed to play baseball in the major leagues and Michael Vick who after completing a 23-month sentence for promoting dog fighting can’t find a job in the National Football League.

Here we have two men who evidence proves cheated other players and the public are blissfully allowed to continue their exorbitant life styles while another athlete who made a horrible mistake and paid for his blunder by serving his full prison time is treated like a pariah.

Is it fair that cheaters get a bye while thickheaded behavior is forever punished?
Face the facts. Vick made a error in judgment, a serious error true, but he paid the price. He went to court, received a fair trial, was convicted and served his term of incarceration. He handled an extremely difficult situation like a man. He deserves a second chance in a profession at which he was a stellar performer.

Vick was one of those rare individuals in sports who could draw a crowd just by his appearance on the field. There are not many contemporary quarterbacks who are as exciting and innovative as Vick. He is a credit to the game. As far as we know he never cheated the fans. He did not use steroids nor did he ever throw a game or bet on them. These are capital crimes in sports.

If it wasn’t for foolishly arranging dog fights, his life would have been without regret. Who among us have not made regrettable mistakes. In a New York Daily News recent poll 56 percent of respondents favored Vick's return.

Of course, drawing a crowd means nothing to the NFL which packs them in at every game wherever played and collects multi-millions in television fees. No one today is as relevant to football as Babe Ruth was to baseball in the pre-television, pre-million dollar contract days. People paid money at the gate to see Ruth and that made team owners rich. Now stars are seen for free on television every week and the owners are even richer.

Vick, 29, was not to football what Ruth was to baseball. No one is. But Vick was not a pedestrian player either. During the six seasons in the NFL he played for the Atlanta Falcons and completed more than half the passes he attempted in five of those years. He pitched 71 touchdown passes and scored 21 others running the ball in on his own. He made the Pro Bowl three times.

Most importantly he was a crowd pleaser. Fans who rooted for his team, or against them, never knew what to expect from Vick. A chill would run up the spine of all when the center snapped the ball to him. Would he step back and pass like most quarterbacks or would he take off in one of those unpredictable, unorthodox scrambles in the back field that often ended up with a massive yardage gain on the ground. In short he was a sports delight.

Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, acknowledged that Vick, suspended roughly four months before beginning his prison term, has been partially disciplined. But he gave no hint on how much of a bearing that might have on potential reinstatement.

When asked if Vick will be reinstated for the 2009 season, Goodell said: "I haven't sat down and looked at his case. I haven't met with him. I haven't understood where he is. I'm not going to try to guess."

The Falcons who own Vick's contract rights don’t want him back. Too much bad publicly, I guess. Perhaps figuring prison has diminished his talents they are attempting to trade him.

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith believes Vick deserves a chance to compete for a job but added he is committed to Kyle Orton as his existing quarterback,
"I would look at Michael like I look at every other prospect that's available. He goes back into the pool," Smith told reporters. "That's what everyone in society does. Martha Stewart went to prison. She paid her time. Now she's back in society.

"Mike made a mistake, and he's paying the price for that mistake. Once you've paid your debt to society, you have to say, 'OK, let's go on from there.' "

Meanwhile there is almost no noteworthy reaction to the fact that Ramirez, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and David Ortiz, still with the Boston Red Sox, tested positive for illegal drugs in 2003. Ramirez and Ortiz were critical components of the Red Sox victorious World Series winning season in 2004.

It may be sacrilege to Boston’s insane Sox fans but the Ramirez-Ortiz scandal besmirches the Red Sox victory that year and should lead to the possibility of an asterisk being placed next to the team’s 2004 record. The only sound argument against such action is that there had been so much steroid corruption in baseball these days that all the teams were equally at fault in allowing their stars to take drugs. There should be an asterisk against all teams.

Every year baseball fouls itself with more drug scandals. Its players continue to insult the public and downgrade championships while baseball’s hierarchy does little about it other than give lip-service to its inadequate attempts at reform. Baseball is headed for the dump heap thanks to its greedy players aided and abetted by its even greedier and inept owners.

If the 1920s and 1930s where baseball’s golden years, the 1990s and 2000s has to be its contamination years. Ramirez and Ortiz should be thrown out of baseball as should all other ball players who cheat. It should be a dire warning to future players if the game is to continue in good faith.

Ramirez-Oriz out, Vick in. That's my formula for sports this year.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Still 'The Comeback Kid'

By Don Klein

They used to call him The Comeback Kid. Recent events proved that he still is. The Obama team thought they left him vanquished in the dust after trashing him mightily for the crime of supporting his wife’s candidacy for president during last year’s primary race. Bill Clinton proved them wrong.

He has what no living ex-president has – the golden touch – and is still the most successful Democratic leader since Harry S. Truman. Overseas he is the most honored and revered American leader even though he holds no high office nor any power except for the high regard with which he is held in the international community.

Even President Obama can’t match him on that score at this point in time.
Ronald Reagan spent his post-White House years making speeches at $2 million a shot. Bush-41 couldn’t draw a crowd if he sat on top of a 100-foot pole and sang all four roles of the Ode to Joy. Bush-43 is exiled to Texas from where most hope he never emerges. Jimmy Carter travels around the world putting his foot in his mouth and often defying US foreign policy.

None of them are preferred for their uniqueness or specialties.

Bill Clinton is the exception. His stature makes him a welcome American emissary wherever he travels. His charisma is what eventually led to the release by North Korea of two American journalists arrested and convicted of entering the country illegally and sentenced to 12 years at hard labor.

No one else could have accomplished the deed.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il made it clear to the US that if they wanted the captive women back, it would take a visit by Bill Clinton to fetch them. Acting as a private citizen on a humanitarian mission he made the trip. Spent less than a day with the Korean potentate and the release was accomplished.

Kim Jong-il wanted to meet Clinton for more than a decade. When Clinton was president he sent condolences when Kim’s father died and the tyrant never forgot it. He invited Clinton to visit when he was still in the Oval Office but it never could be arranged.

Clinton’s goodwill gesture never was forgotten by Kim and when the Swedes, representing the US which has no relations with North Korean, urged the released of the held reporters Kim jumped at the chance to fulfill his desire to meet Clinton, his unrequited hero. The deal was eventually made to everyone’s satisfaction.

I liked Clinton when he was president. I liked him in his post-presidency years. I still like him. I obviously am not alone. Kim likes him also, as do many other political leaders of all stripes around the world. He is a known factor and an accomplished international leader, a role that the present president, in office only six months, has yet to attain. In time Obama could surpass Clinton in world eclat, but he has not yet reached that level.

There isn’t a soul who watched the arrival of the freed correspondents, Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, at Burbank airport the other day and the reunion with their loved ones who would not be touched by the significance of Clinton’s accomplishment. Big Bill is back on center stage which he relishes like Teddy Roosevelt once did and is in a role he should be destined to play for the rest of his life.

Way back when Obama was elected last November I flat out contended that the new president had an advantage that not many other beginner presidents had. Bill Clinton was available as a worldwide trouble shooter and if used intelligently would be a great asset. Obama insiders rejected such a role. Clinton would suck all the oxygen out of Obama’s glory and foreign policy, they believed.
At the time there was no way to predict the situation that evolved in North Korea with the two journalists, but it was exactly where the Clinton role would be best used.

Back then I saw Clinton as an envoy without portfolio who would be a natural American of influence to be sent to worldwide tinder boxes and brewing trouble spots that needed the uppermost attention. I saw him as a peacemaker among the Israelis and Palestinians or as a mediator of Pakistani-Indian tensions or as a goodwill ambassador in the Persian Gulf.

Who would be more effective in rebuilding American stature in Europe which was so badly weakened by eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime? Which American would have more influence in just about any region of conflict in the world? The answer always seemed to be Bill Clinton, and the North Korean incident was vivid proof.

Clinton and Kim met at the latter’s insistence and a terrible situation was neutralized within hours. That’s what makes past presidents of repute so important. Presidents never serve more than eight years. If they are young enough and physically able to travel and handle the work, as Clinton obviously is, they should not be put to pasture. Like retired generals and admirals, they should always be available to be called to active duty for spot opportunities.

Even though Clinton had to deal with a degenerate foreign leader like Kim he served America with dignity and correctness. Although Kim beamed in Clinton’s nimbus, the former president never gave the dictator anything but a grim and determined gaze. Kim got the photo opportunity he wanted but Clinton walked away with the cool victory of freed Americans and no reciprocal rewards for the tyrant.

The vision of Ms. Lee upon her return to California freedom hugging her four-year-old daughter, Hana, gave the innate value of Clinton’s feat. Americans should be proud we have Bill Clinton to stand up for us.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An irreversible racial future

By Don Klein

Let’s face it. There has been tremendous racial progress in this country in the last four and a half decades. That, however, does not mean there is no racism in today’s America. To me the problem is that too many critics throw around racism charges when they should not and thereby water down those legitimate cases of bigotry.

Evidence: When the Obamaphiles accused Bill Clinton of making racist
statements during the primary battle between his wife and Barack Obama in South Carolina last year. That was an abomination and all those guilty of intemperate charges should be ashamed of themselves. They fired blanks that deeply injured the only decent presidential candidate the party had in three decades up to that time.

Just recently we witnessed another instance where too many were quick to label the arrest of Harvard Prof "Skip" Gates as being the result of racial profiling. As the professor, the arresting officer and Obama sat down last week to enjoy a beer together at the White House many of those accusations have been withdrawn as more facts came to light.

But these are moments not worth lingering over when there are real hateful activities are smoldering on the airwaves. According to Fox TV’s Glenn Beck, the racist is Obama. He sees a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Why? Because Obama’s instincts were to stand up for a black Harvard friend before he knew all the facts. It’s certainly probable that if Gates was a white friend, Obama would have supported him as well. That’s not racism, but fellowship.

A more insidious form of prejudice in the country is this ridiculous campaign to question whether Obama is a naturally born American. There is an element of unpleasant people propelling an absurdity insisting that Obama prove he is an American. If it can be proved he is not a native citizen he is unqualified by the Constitution to be president.

The question of Obama’s citizenship has been answered time and again yet the self-appointed guardians of our democracy keep harping on the negative message as if the powers that be are withholding evidence. Isn’t it great to know our nation is being protected by the vilest all commentators, people of the Beck and Sean Hannity ilk?

Lou Dobbs, another cable news broadcaster who years ago did yeoman work in debunking illegal alien supporters, has now turned his attention to the Obama birth issue. He described critics of his asinine arguments demanding evidence of Obama’s presidential legitimacy as "limp minded, lily livered leftists." If anything is "limp" it’s Dobbs alliteration, if anything is "lily livered" its his incomprehension of clear fact.

All this is nothing less than raw demagoguery disguised as an alleged serious point of law.

This is not the first time Obama’s "Americanism" has been challenged. Remember during the presidential campaign there were Republican crowd pleasers who were happy to imply that the president-to-be was a Muslim. They drew that farcical conclusion because the president’s middle name is Hussein. That’s like assuming I am a cowboy because my friends once called me "Buck."

Several years ago there was a Time magazine cover which carried a artist’s version of the American of the future. If was a tan-skinned young woman with mildly Oriental eyes, dark hair and physical qualities of every race in the world. She was beautiful, and Time called her the American of the future. It was the realization that the land, known as the home of exiles, was rapidly becoming non-white as time passed.

There is no challenging that fact. Soon enough there will be more non-white Americans than there are whites. That means power will shift. Already there are many blacks and Hispanics in Congress and in other important elective offices. But the inevitable shift is on and many of the old white establishment don’t like. They feel it is their country and Obama sitting in the White House is the symbol of their worst nightmare.

Look at the figures: As of 2007 the US had a population of slightly more than 300 million, of which 221 million were white, 44 million were Latino, 41 million were black, 13 million Asian and 19 million other and mixed races. These figures do not add up to the total number because there are millions who fall into more than one racial category and are counted more than once.

But look at the forecast for 2050 by the Census Bureau. Non-Hispanic whites will be 46 percent of the population, Hispanics will be 30 percent, blacks will be 15 percent and Asians 9 percent. If you don’t believe these projections, take a gander at these figures, and swallow hard: 45 percent of today’s American children under the age of five years are non-white. The shift is on.

It is clear that a certain portion of the landed white gentry which have ruled this country since it inception more than two centuries ago are unhappy. Some of them see the writing on the wall and are fighting it. It is a senseless battle. Nevertheless Obama as president represents this monumental change in the country and there are those in government who are not going to make it easy for him.

They will fight his legislative programs not because they are bad governance but because they are his. They will oppose the bailout and health care measures for the same reason and oppose his Supreme Court selection even if by doing so they guarantee the loss of a significant portion of the fastest growing electorate.
And in a final hopeless thrust, they will launch bigoted accusations as if that can slow down the foreseeable and irreversible racial future.