Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em???: Obama Freezes Federal Employee Pay

To Cave or not to Cave? That is the question that was answered yesterday when President Obama agreed to take a page from the Republican talking points and freeze Federal employee salaries for 2 years - an undeniable step towards SHRINKING government. And as we all know, the Republicans love the idea of shrinking government.  As the Wall Street Journal reports:

it is more than this Administration has ever been willing to consider, and it suggests that Mr. Obama, post-midterm-shellacking, realizes he must show some willingness to restrain the growth of government.

But does this move really help anything?  As the LA Times reports:


The move would affect 2 million federal workers and save about $5 billion over two years.

The national debt is currently running at about $13 Trillion, and the annual deficit is currently running at about $1 Trillion/year in the red.  That's 12 zero's:  1,000,000,000,000.  Cutting $5 Billion off of the deficit is literally like paying $5 bucks on your credit card bill when you owe a thousand dollars.  So clearly this is a symbolic gesture to a symbolic request, which sends the message that Obama has catered to the Republicans in spite of his Democratic base who has blasted the move:

American Federation of Public Employees President John Gage yesterday derided President Obama's federal pay freeze as a "slap at working people."



Did Obama make the right move here economically?
Did Obama mkae the right move here politically?
Does the general public which voted on November 2 actually believe that Republican policies are good for the economy?
Is it smart policy to succumb to the same ideology that created the deficit in the first place?

Monday, November 29, 2010

From Scottsboro to Gitmo: Owning Up to America's Lynch Mob Mentality

In honor of the 4-day weekend with friends and family, my friends and I decided to treat ourselves to a Broadway show in Times Square.  We saw the Scottsboro Boys, named after the infamous and tragic true-life story of the 9 young Black men wrongly accused of raping 2 White women in the deep South in the 1930's.  The national public outcry was heard from coast to coast; it was like the Jena-6 of its day.  (for more details go here and here)  It would be the understatement of the century to say that none of the young men received a fair trial (or rather, trials, plural) in Alabama where they received the Death Penalty by an all-White jury for the alleged rapes of the White women (not to downplay the seriousness of rape but it typically does not warrant the Death Penalty).  Even after one of the two White women later recanted her story on the witness stand and admitted that the charges were false, the men were still re-convicted of rape and given the life sentences again on their retrial.  I was familiar with the story of the Scottsboro boys before I went to see the Broadway show, but while hearing it again this weekend something stood out to me when the local Alabama Sheriff, after debating whether or not to have a trial, finally said to his deputy "well before we hang 'em we should probably have a trial first."  I found this interesting because, since 9/11, we've been hearing the same argument in modern form as to whether or not terrorists deserve to have a trial. America seems to struggle historically with the inconvenience of following its own rules whenever somebody does something that we find to be repugnant.  As a nation, we'd like to think that we've progressed beyond the days of lynch mobs, but even in 2010 we're still having national debates about whether or not people who have allegedly wronged us deserve a trial in our courts.  In other words, America has not shed its lynch mob mentality.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Urban Beat - Thanksgiving Weekend 2010 Edition

Hope you have all had a good turkey day weekend. Here's a recap on the Urban Politico news of late:

1. Congress is looking to take a vote on the Dream Act this week.  With Republicans coming into the House majority in 2011, many say this is the last chance the Dream Act will have for years to come.

2.  Sarah Palin calls for the United States to stand with it's ally, "North" Korea.  Perhaps she meant to say "South" Korea.

3. Would-be Christmas Tree Bomber in Portland, Oregon is nabbed by the Feds before he can execute his plan to blow up a van during the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

4. Obama gets a rough elbow shot during a basketball game and ends up needing 12 stitches.

5. China gets involved in the latest North-South Korea feud and calls for everybody to come to the table and break bread.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: FROM THE URBAN POLITICO



As Thanksgiving Day rolls around,
It brings up some facts, quite profound.
We may think that we're poor,
Feel like bums, insecure,
But in truth, our riches astound.
We have friends and family we love;
We have guidance from heaven above.
We have so much more
Than they sell in a store,
We're wealthy, when push comes to shove.
So add up your blessings, I say;
Make Thanksgiving last more than a day.
Enjoy what you've got;
Realize it's a lot,
And you'll make all your cares go away.
By Karl Fuchs
 





From The Janitor, GODSON and The Fed, Happy Thanksgiving.  We are Thankful for our readers, writers and contributors.  Enjoy your friends and family.  May God Bless.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Airport Security: Where's the line?

We live in a country where people can and will protest any and everything.  If you are flying anywhere this Holiday season, please give yourself PLENTY of time.  People are PISSED about the TSA's new procedures on pat downs and screening.   Now, when you go through security, you may be asked to step into a screener that takes an x-rayed "picture" of you.  However, this has become highly controversial and many people are "opting out" and going for the every-so-personal pat down, which is, ironically, just as controversial as the x-ray screening.

I thought we had come to terms with the fact that we can't bring liquids of any kind on a plane including the deadly, lotion, cologne, shampoo or soda.  We learned to avoid this by simply putting those items in our checked baggage...then they tripled the rate of our checked bags....BASTARDS!!!   I thought we were okay with getting undressed, removing all belts, watches, chewing gum foil wrappers, shoes, coats, jackets, even sweat shirts that could be worn as a jacket.  We gave a pass to the "random" checks AFTER walking nearly naked through a medal detector, the need to show up at the airport 3 hours earlier than usual and we didn't mind profiling if it was used to detain someone with a "funny" sounding name or a towel around their head.  Before, ALL of that was fine.  It was generally accepted that it was ALL in the name of National Security and the War on Terror.  An opinion writer in the New York Times from 2007, expresses how baffled he was that the American Public was so tolerant of being "humiliated":
In the end, I’m not sure which is more troubling, the inanity of the existing regulations, or the average American’s acceptance of them and willingness to be humiliated. These wasteful and tedious protocols have solidified into what appears to be indefinite policy, with little or no opposition. There ought to be a tide of protest rising up against this mania. Where is it? At its loudest, the voice of the traveling public is one of grumbled resignation. The op-ed pages are silent, the pundits have nothing meaningful to say.  - NYT Opinion Pages December 28, 2007

Why were we so tolerant back then... but not so much now?  If you've been watching the news or listening to the radio AT ALL, you would've heard the latest "issue" with airport security.  Apparently, NOW it is just simply too intrusive.  Sure, there were grumbles here and there... but I've NEVER seen the TSA Chief (John Pistole) on television this much! 

So, my mind began to wonder...I must admit... my first thoughts (right or wrong) were that now that there is an African American Administration, there is just a general need to bitch and complain about everything to make life hell for the President.  But that wasn't fair... Was it?  My next thought was that the Republican spin machine was/is AMAZING!!!  Not only did they make it so you didn't care that you were poked and prodded and stripped down as you went through airport security, they made it so that you felt it was your patriotic duty to do so!  Now that my friends is PR for your ass!

Then I thought the outrage must be due to the scanners... but after a little digging, I learned it wasn't the scanners...even with fake pictures, Americans support scanners for security 2 to 1. So that wasn't it either. The outrage is actually due to the new pat down techniques.  Have you heard about these? It's the pat down were the public draws the line.  You can take an x-ray picture, but don't "touch my junk!"

So where IS the line?
If a terrorist hides a bomb under his...um... "Tea Bag" and blows up a plane or bomb, THEN would it be okay for more aggressive pat downs?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feds Up, Ho's Down: Ahmed Ghailani's Conviction and the Military Tribunal Myth

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat - If you are a true American patriot who cares about bringing terrorists to justice, then Military Tribunals are NOT the way to go.  Last week, the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal court under the Obama administration, Ahmed Ghailani, was convicted of Conspiracy to blow up U.S. buildings in the 1998 African Embassy bombings - a crime that caries a 20-years-to-life sentence. (We'll come back to the Conspiracy crime later - for now, just know that the crime of conspiracy is where two or more people agree to commit a crime in the future).  However, because Ghailani was acquitted by the federal jury on the 284 counts of murder charged against him, conservative Military Tribunal advocates are calling the 20-year-to-life conviction a "failure."  It didn't take long for folks like Peter King (R - NY), Liz Cheney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to start running off at the mouth with the usual talking points.  McConnell, who likes to characterize his inner thoughts as "the American people," had this to say:
“Most Americans wondered why we would even take the chance,” McConnell said today. “And now they’re wondering when the administration will admit it was wrong and assure us just as confidently that terrorists will be tried from now on in the military commission system that was established for this very purpose at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay, or detained indefinitely, if they cannot be tried without jeopardizing national security. When it comes to terrorism, we should err on the side of protecting the American people.” [substitute "Mitch McConnell" for "The American People/Most Americans" to get the true translation]
So why didn't Ghailani get convicted on the murder charges?  Short answer: because the federal prosecutors did not present any evidence on the murder charges.   Of course, this begs the follow up question, well why didn't they? We presented a more in depth break down HERE but the cliff notes version is this: the murder evidence was inadmissible because it was obtained from illegal torture. (note: the Feds conceded this point)

The pro-enhanced interrogation technique torture crowd, who all seem to be suffering from the same preconceived notion that anything goes in Military Tribunals, pointed to this admissibility problem as proof positive that if this trial had happened in a Military Tribunal things would have been different.   ALL evidence is admissible in a Military Tribunal...or so the argument goes.  If you let the Republicans tell it, in Military Tribunals, terrorists can't "lawyer up" because in Military Tribunals there are NO Constitutional Rights. Heck, there aren't even any lawyers.  It's just a room full of military bad-asses with big guns and itchy trigger fingers. To put terrorists on trial in Federal Courts (aka "Civilian Courts") is reckless, un-American and does not keep us safe.  And if you believe any of that, I have some land to sell you in Florida.

The fact that these myths are still being sold as viable arguments on all the cable news shows lets us further know that the main stream media is either too lazy or too inept at dealing in reality on the Military Tribunal issue.  On this blog, however, we like to deal in facts (lord forbid) so, if you don't mind, let's break this thing down, ok?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Post: Al Sharpton Calls on FCC to Stop Rush Limbaugh

Today's Guest Post comes from a regular contributor to the blog who goes by the name Sadbone.  Be sure to drop a few comments down below and engage our guest as we discuss the latest with Reverend Al and our good pal Rush Limbaugh.

****


Al Sharpton calls for the FCC to enforce standards that forbid racially charged language against Clear Channel’s golden boy, Rush Limbaugh.

For years, Rush has created a virtual database of compiled comments that violate basic decency standards set for federally controlled airwaves. Sharpton says that since the license of the stations that carry Limbaugh’s show is granted by the federal government, inappropriate racial comments are not covered by the laws of free speech.

He said, "I think that even if his advertisers can't be stopped with boycotts, the FCC must step in and deal with standards on how they give station clearances to people that just want to race-bait."

Liberal talk show host, Ed Shcultz has taken up Shaprton’s cause and the two are making some noise.  Fox News even picked up the story and has reported on their website, ”If the left can’t get Rush by reviving the Fairness Doctrine, maybe the race card will work.”


Also standing up to Rush is Radio One talk show host on XM’s The Power, Joe Madison, who said that he was going to gather support from civil rights groups to do “exactly what the anti-defamation league would do,” which is contact Limbaugh’s affiliates, sponsors, and the FCC to take action and regulate or boycott the indecency of Rush’s program.

What is Limbaugh’s reaction?  He’s a victim, of course.  He says that the left is out to get him and that his statements were taken out of the context of humor.  What he fails to realize is that he was the only one laughing. Rush has allies too.  His partner-in-racism at Big Government, Andrew Brietbart, is in Limbaugh’s corner, so his drones are upping the stakes by racial comments of their own, calling Clyburn a “House Negro.”  They are also claiming that it is “professional envy” that is motivating Ed Schultz to join Sharpton’s cause.

With the holidays coming and Rush going into hiding, how will all of this pan out?  Will Rush weather yet another firestorm of controversy, which has fueled his entire career?  Or, will time, Sharpton, and the FCC bring an end to the reign of ignorance from Clear Channel?

It is hard to answer because Rush’s show is not commercially successful anyway.  Clear Channel forces the show on its affiliates, even when PD's don’t want it.  And, it is given away for free.  Salesemen from local affiliates forced to carry the show hate it because the Limbaugh show is impossible to sell.  How does it make money then?  Answer: The “Barter” system.  In exchange for carrying the show and filling what would be dead air, Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, gets about 15 minutes in an hour of advertising time to, again, force-feed pre-sold national ads.  For example, Gold Bond has been a long-time supporter of the show, and you can hear their ads on the most remote locations in the U.S.

Considering these facts, it is easy to see why Rush has not been pulled off the air for a litany of inappropriate comments.  Also, he has not had the FCC on his back for a number of reasons, like cronyism, unspecific charges, and a lackadaisical attitude since none of the forbidden 7 have ever been uttered by Limbaugh.

Maybe now, his time has come.

Do you think so?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hide Ya Kids Hide Ya Wife 'cause George Soros is coming to get Everybody!

Dear Conservative Brethren (including Glen Beck)...if there's one thing that makes you lose more credibility than usual its your perpetual fascination with George Soros.  Let us help you out - enough with the George Soros boogieman stories already.  Ok?  But don't take our word for it...let the rally to restore sanity expert, Jon Stewart, reveal to you what you really look like when you go on these Soros tirades.   (video after the jump)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Everything You DIDN'T want to know about Social Security Benefits Calculations - And SOME of the Proposed Changes

In light of the recent scuttle bug created by the most recent elections and the Deficit Commission, I thought I would take our posting here a step further. Now that we have some proposed changes, what do they REALLY mean? You won’t get a straight answer from your congressperson, Senator or even the President. So I’m putting the general information out there, and you can discuss and decide for yourself.


There have been many recommendations over the last couple of years about how to solve the solvency problem with Social Security. The Commission made several recommendations:
  • Increasing the Maximum Taxable limit - curently it is at $106,800
  • Increasing the minimum retirement age to 62
  • Increasing the Full Retirement age to 69
  • Adding an additional 50% Bend Point
So what does this ACTUALLY mean? Well, Social Security calculations are COMPLICATED. I’m going to try my best to point out a few highlights, and show where the Deficit Commission is making SOME recommendations. Keep in mind that I’m just speaking in very general terms, and that Social Security is calculated on an individual bases.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jay-Z on Daily Show w/ new book "Decoded" (VIDEO)

George Bush isn't the only one out there on the stump lately trying to promote a new book.  Jay-Z recently released his own memoir entitled "Decoded" which explores J's background and, accordingly, breaks down all of the deeper meanings and metaphors contained in his songs.  Per Jay-Z:

When you're famous and say you're writing a book, people assume that it's an autobiography--I was born here, raised there, suffered this, loved that, lost it all, got it back, the end. But that's not what this is. I've never been a linear thinker, which is something you can see in my rhymes. They follow the jumpy logic of poetry and emotion, not the straight line of careful prose. My book is like that, too.
Decoded is first and foremost, a book of rhymes, which is ironic because I don't actually write my rhymes--they come to me in my head and I record them. The book is packed with the stories from my life that are the foundation of my lyrics--stories about coming up in the streets of Brooklyn in the 80's and 90's, stories about becoming an artist and entrepreneur and discovering worlds that I never dreamed existed when I was a kid. But it always comes back to the rhymes. There's poetry in hip-hop lyrics--not just mine, but in the work of all the great hip-hop artists, from KRS-One and Rakim to Biggie and Pac to a hundred emcees on a hundred corners all over the world that you've never heard of. The magic of rap is in the way it can take the most specific experience, from individual lives in unlikely places, and turn them into art that can be embraced by the whole world. Decoded is a book about one of those specific lives--mine--and will show you how the things I've experienced and observed have made their way into the art I've created. It's also about how my work is sometimes not about my life at all, but about pushing the boundaries of what I can express through the poetry of rap--trying to use words to find fresh angles into emotions that we all share, which is the hidden mission in even the hardest hip-hop. Decoded is a book about some of my favorite songs--songs that I unpack and explain and surround with narratives about what inspired them--but behind the rhymes is the truest story of my life.

Video after the jump:

Ear Mark Debate: Good Politics or Bad Policy?

With the recent waive of Tea Partiers invading the US Congress, Ear Marks, or Pork Barrel spending, are under fire... again.  This time, the efforts to end Ear Marks come with the new found clout of the Tea Party, and the GOP is getting in line.

Quickly, Ear Marks are money used by congress to fund special projects, most of the time, within the congresspersons home district or state. (If you recall, in the 2008 elections... Sarah Palin's support then convenient repudiation  of the "Bridge To Nowhere" is an example of an Ear Mark.) 

On Tuesday, with the measured support of the GOP's incoming Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate and House GOP passed a two year moratorium on Ear Mark spending.

From abcNEWS:
The resolution, which is non-binding, is identical to the one approved by House Republicans in the current Congress and forbids Republicans from engaging in the practice of funnelling federal tax dollars to pet projects in their home states. 
Side Note: House Democrats have restricted earmarks for private contractors but not outlawed them entirely. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Deficit Commission

We all know, perhaps all too well thanks to the screaming Tea Party, that the government is spending a lot of money recently.  "Too much spending."  "Out of Control spending."  We're certain that you've heard these mantras before.  Well the fact of the matter is, the US Government is currently operating at an annual budget deficit of about a Trillion bucks/year, and the overall national debt is approximately $13 Trillion, give or take a few dollars.  Despite what the Tea Party would have us believe, the history of our deficit problems did not begin on January 20, 2009.  Rather, the current problems can most notably be traced back to President Ronald Reagan in 1980 who simultaneously increased defense spending while giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy in what came to be known as "trickle-down economics" (help out the rich and it will "trickle-down" to the poor).  Long story short, after Reagan left office, he took the total national debt from about $900 Billion when he took office (if you can believe it was ever that low) to about $3 Trillion, literally tripling the national debt and setting it on a course that it has never quite fully recovered from still to this day. (see graph below)


The national debt actually fell during Clinton's presidency, but Bush 43 took the debt from $5.6 Trillion in 2000 to $12.3 Trillion in 2008.  In other words, Bush doubled the national debt during his presidency.  It was upon this backdrop that Obama became President.

Given this growing problem, President Obama formed a group that has been getting a lot of controversial press lately:  The Deficit Commission.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week In Racism: Mailman Fired for Being Called N-Word?



In case you thought that racism was dead in America here is a video to keep things in perspective. What's worse is that this man was reportedly fired by the US Postal Service once they found out he secretly recorded this video of the incident. If you listen closely to this woman, she is clearly a racist. Not just because she called a black man the N word, but because of what was said in addition and the anger behind the words. She clearly has a serious problem with black people and this postal worker unfortunately got caught up in her nonsense. 




What kinds of implications does an incident like this bring to the forefront of the racial debate, particularly if this man was in fact fired by the US Postal Service because of it?

How the Tea Party SAVED the Republican Party.

I've heard several conversations about how the Tea Party cost the Republican party the majority in the Senate.  I've heard that if Sarah Palin runs for President in 2012, she is basically handing the Presidency back to Obama with very little fight from the Right.

While all this has merit, I would also like to remind folks that if it wasn't for the Tea Party, the Republican Party may no longer even exist.

Who else remembers the crushing blow delivered to the Republicans in 2008?  I do!  I remember!

The Fall of 2008 was marked "The Death of the Republican Party!"  The media had stories, articles, op-eds, etc., there were books written on the collapse of the GOP... overheard during personal email conversations, or over lunch, were conversations like "Is McCain the best the Republicans have?"  "Is there ANYBODY out there that the Republicans can look too?"

Even our own Janitor (Love you Bruh) proclaimed (paraphrasing) "This is it...the Republican Party is dead and it will be years before they recover from this."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nightmare on Pennsylvania Ave: Pelosi Returns

While everyone has their eyes on the relationship between the Tea Party and the Republican Party, there is a self-inflicted rift brewing on the left side of the isle.

Just weeks after getting their ass handed to them by the American public and losing it's majority in the House, the Democrats are jocking for leadership positions. Unlike the Republicans, who now have a list of chairperson-ships to hand out and seem to be making a relatively smooth transition to power, the Democrats are continuing to be the poster child on how NOT to run a party.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

There's No Such Thing As Islamophobia - Unless You're in Oklahoma

I'm not making this up, but 70% of the fine people of Oklahoma passed a state-wide law last week during the midterms that bans the use of Islamic "Sharia Law" in the state of Oklahoma.  Let me repeat, 70% of the voters of Oklahoma felt it was necessary to pass a law banning Sharia Law in their state.  So I have to admit, prior to this story, as a Christian I had no idea what Sharia law was, let alone any knowledge that it was a pandemic problem sweeping across our nation, threatening to destroy our democracy unless we take swift action like the fine people of Oklahoma.  So I looked it up.  Per Wiki:

Sharia has been defined as:
"Muslim or Islamic law, both civil and criminal justice as well as regulating individual conduct both personal and moral. The custom-based body of law based on the Quran and the religion of Islam. Because, by definition, Muslim states are theocracies, religious texts are law, the latter distinguished by Islam and Muslims in their application, as Sharia or Sharia law."
Oh.  Ok.  I've heard about this before in passing.  Sharia law is the Islamic based law that a few Islamic nations like Somalia and Iran use in their country.  But this is America right?  And I'm pretty sure the last time I looked at the Constitution, we don't have to worry about being taken over by ANY religious law, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, whatever.  It's called the First Amendment and it goes something like this:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What the F has Obama Done So Far?

You may have seen this circulating through your inbox over the past few days, so we figured we'd give it some spotlight.  Per Uptown Magazine:

In the aftermath of last Tuesday’s election, some progressive folk have started a movement that is steadily building online traction. New website What The F*** Has Obama Done So Far made it’s debut on the eve of November 3rd and since then has accumulated followers in droves boasting nearly 600,000 link shares on Facebook and 4 million site pageviews. Featuring a slideshow with the Obama Administration’s accomplishments, the site brings to light the question on the average US citizen’s mind, and what some say is the primary reason for the lack of Democratic support in last Tuesday’s election; what has our President really done? We caught up with the creators of the site – Shavanna, Richard and Will – to get the dish on the inspiration behind the website and the backlash that has followed…
UPTOWN: What was your motivation for creating the site? How did the concept come about?
Shavanna: People are always complaining about how Obama hasn’t done anything. We figured he must have done something. Turns out he has.
How has the response to the website been so far?
Will: I’d say 70% positive, 20% negative, and 10% people who want us to make a no-swear word version so they can send it to their parents.
Do you think your site will help affect change by the next election?
Will: I think by the next election, people will have forgotten they were mad at Democrats, just like they forgot they were mad at Republicans this year.  And it will go back and forth like that forever.
Richard: The Internet has a short memory. I think this site will be long-forgotten by then. But the experience of working on this has shown me that small web projects like this have the potential to get a message to a big audience. I know we’ll be trying more of them in the future and I’m sure other people will as well.
Has there been any negative backlash about the site?
Shavanna: Some people have told us we should stop being so harsh on Obama.
Will: One lady called us bigots. I didn’t really get that one.
Richard: There have been some people who disagree with the site who have sent in their own suggestions for accomplishments like “he ruined the country” or “he convinced people he was born in the United States”. There have been a few others who didn’t understand the tone of the site and thought we were actually saying that none of the things the president has done were a big deal.
Do you guys (individually) work for the Democrats? What do each of you do?
Shavanna: No, none of us do. Our jobs are pretty unrelated to politics. I work in social media, and Will and Richard are developers.

***

What are you thoughts on this latest initiative to educate the public on Obama's accomplishments?
Will this have any impact in the Low-Information Voter crowd?
Do you believe Obama's accomplishments, on balance, have helped or hurt the country?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

He's Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

After 2 years of silence, W makes his way back into the spotlight with his book entitled "Decision Points" where he touches on quite a few topics.  Among them, interestingly enough, was the time during Hurrican Katrina when Kanye West made the infamous ad lib about Bush not caring about Black people (Video Below).  Believe it or not, Bush actually said that was a low point in his presidency and that he didn't appreciate being called a racist by Kanye.  Who knew Presidents actually listen to hip-hop artists?

In addition to Hurricane Katrina, the book covers other parts of Bush's presidency, including the War in Iraq.  When asked by NBC's Matt Lauer during a recent interview about whether or not he apologizes for the decision to go into Iraq now knowing that there never were any weapons of mass destruction, Bush, without flinching says:
“I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision.  And I don't believe it was the wrong decision."
*sigh*

One other interesting point, Bush said that he believed that the Bank Bailout (aka TARP) was necessary and "helped save the economy," which is blasphemy by today's Republican/Tea Party crowd.

Other highlights from the book after the jump:

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Repeal of Health Care?

Now that the Republicans have given a "shellacking" to the Dems, there's been a lot of talk about repealing the infamous health care reform act known in conservative circles as "ObamaCare."  But how realistic is repeal really?  Could the Republicans actually repeal the health care reform act or are they selling a lot of wolf tickets to gain political points?  Let's start with what we know.  We know that many Republicans ran on the platform of repealing the health care reform act.  We also know that there are 3 ways that an Act of Congress can effectively be repealed: (i) by Congress passing a new Act that repeals the old Act; (ii) by the Federal Courts (usually Supreme Court) ruling that the Act is unconstitutional; or (iii) by Congress refusing to fund the Act.  To help separate the fact from fiction, let's take a look at these 3 scenarios after the jump:

November Book of the Month: Let's Get Free


Let's Get Free (2010)
by
Paul Butler

Drawing on his personal fascinating story as a prosecutor, a defendant, and an observer of the legal process, Paul Butler offers a sharp and engaging critique of our criminal justice system. He argues against discriminatory drug laws and excessive police power and shows how our policy of mass incarceration erodes communities and perpetuates crime. Controversially, he supports jury nullification—or voting “not guilty” out of principle—as a way for everyday people to take a stand against unfair laws, and he joins with the “Stop Snitching” movement, arguing that the reliance on informants leads to shoddy police work and distrust within communities. Butler offers instead a “hip hop theory of justice,” parsing the messages about crime and punishment found in urban music and culture. Butler’s argument is powerful, edgy, and incisive.

A former federal prosecutor, Paul Butler is the country’s leading expert on jury nullification. He provides legal commentary for CNN, NPR, and the Fox News Network, and has been featured on 60 Minutes and profiled in the Washington Post. He has written for the Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times, and is a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

White men are "taking their country back!"

Since Obama took office in 2008, the conservative mantra was "take our country back!"  This mantra has been at the center of many debates.  The question has come up about WHO they were taking their country back from.  Is there a hint of racism due to an African American being in the White House?

A reasonable person wouldn't think that their country went anywhere, but simply that AMERICANS put in place by a democratic process simply have a different point of view.

But with a Black President, female Speaker of the House and a Latina and (allegedly) gay Jewish Supreme Court appointments (who apparently weren't "Mama Grizzlies") were JUST TOO MUCH!!!

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that the loudest proclaimers APPEAR to be mostly Southern, White Christians, and as we've heard so many times since the close of the November 4th elections, the American people have spoken!!!  As if to say "We gave you a chance, and we hated what you did with the place!!!"  "HAPS" give it back!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Suckered by the Spin Yet Again! When Will They Learn?

So let me get this straight, America...a gang of cats comes along and takes your job, your house, your car, your dog and your goldfish so naturally and understandably you turn to a different group of people to help you out....this new group of folks go to work specifically to get you back your job, your house, your car, your dog and even the goldfish buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut apparently you didn't get your stuff back fast enough so obviously you....run back....to...the gang that took your stuff in the first place?  Ooooooo-k.  Sure. Because that makes sense to you, right?  OK just checking.  As long as it makes sense to you then who am I to question such logic?

Bill Maher recently explored this question on his last show.  His video after the jump:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest Post: Thinking INSIDE The Box

And today's Guest Post comes from a very talented writer who has asked to remain anonymous so we will refer to her lovingly as The Kiwi Comedian (inside joke, sorry).  So please show today's guest some love in the comments as we discuss the stereotypes that put people in boxes.

***

I’m a mixed chick who has always dealt with boxes. I tried for years to push myself out of those pesky things only to find myself in another one. The wiser, older me realizes the battles served a purpose, though. Now I know it’s natural for folks to categorize and organize people they don’t understand. We all learned in psych 101 that people tend to stereotype like a mutha trucker in order to process large amounts of information quickly. Example number one: ole boy is carrying a knife while twitching and screaming at me that his mom wore white granny pants and he’d like to take me home and rub white terry cloth towels on my body…my stereotyping quick witted mind tells me this is a serial weirdo and I should run while screaming I’m allergic to underwear.

See! Stereotyping can be a good thing. That’s exactly why I started boxing and organizing political parties. When confused, start to learn and lump. Learn…and then lump. For this post, we’ll start with the Republican party. (smiles)

Here’s how I see it. There are four Republican boxes. In the first box we have Jesus’ homies. These are the beautiful people who don’t really know a lot about politics and silly little things like the hopper and who has power in the House and Senate. They just want to know who goes to church and who wants to vote on ridding the world of Harry Potters and Lady Gagas.

The second box holds the money pimps. MPs are down with Dubya and the green stuff. They make lots of money and want to keep that money. They care not if the roads have potholes. They have private jets bitches and they’re not afraid to use them. LL Cool J is in this group and proudly helps these folks shout how mama’s gonna knock them out if they tax their one more penny on their yachts.

The third box contains the WWMDs. What would mommy do folks don’t really care about politics. They just know their parents were Republican so they did the brain work for them. Instead of busting a brain cell, they’ll just hang out in the safe and familiar. These folks also tuck their napkins into their collars and don’t date until they’re 40.

The last group is in the box that I hope will save me from being choked out by the red ties. These folks are conservatives (yeah, sorry I couldn’t think of anything after the red tie bit) and they actually know what about their party and politics in general. They know the names of the hands gripping the necks of the head that runs the country. I had the pleasure of talking to one of these rare informed citizens. Patrick listened to my lovely little box descriptions and then shared the following:

… My parents are baby-boomers who voted liberal (AKA Democrat) until 1980. Jimmy Carter was the wakeup call that told them Liberalism does not stand for what they believed was freedom. My mother's family was a group of Italian immigrants. They believed in self-reliance and a greater good--charity from their heart and soul--not a government which forces them to give up part of their production ($$) and dole it out as others see fit. My father's family goes back to the founding of New Hampshire’s colonization. They were very liberal.

My religion is Catholicism which is a Bastian of the ideas of social justice and liberalism (and not the true American idea of equal justice with equal opportunity and no guarantee of equal outcomes). Religion did not shape my political ideology. I went to a Jesuit High School and a Jesuit University that were as liberal as liberal can get.

Socially, I am very accepting of everything that does not harm someone else. I keep my nose out of other peoples’ lives. In return, I’d appreciate it if the government stayed out of mine and my neighbor's.

As for the money box, Capitalism is an ideal and a way of looking at things much the same as Marxism. It is not a system, but simply a filter. I believe that Capitalism can set a society free. Only the free production and exchange of goods and services that people want, need and desire; unhindered by overregulation; unburdened by the use of force by a government to tax and seize part of that production to spread out to others; and unimpeded by the over abuse of the interstate commerce clause is how we keep Capitalism alive in America. I am middle class and at the short end of the stick when it would come to living in a Marxist ideal. (So he doesn’t fist bump with LL.)

In a nutshell, these people are philosophy pimps and drop old school knowledge on me until my head bursts out of confusion…”But that sounds so rational…and I did enjoy Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged…Should I be a Republican?! Gasp!”

After I put my little group of Republicans into their boxes I feel safe and calm. It’s only at that point I can interact with other human beings without biting, stabbing or burping the Star Spangled Banner. I realize the times are a changing though…I know this because the twitches usually reserved for wire hangers has started up again. With dirty words like moderate and tea party freak spewing out of mouths I don’t know what to do with myself.

That’s where ya’ll come in. How would you classify those with red ties? How about the Dems…or even more fun, how would you group the pinky up tea party crew?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Midterm Aftermath - What Does It All Mean?

As I was standing in line last night waiting for my turn to cast my ballot, I couldn't help but wonder what the outcome of this midterm election will mean for us going forward for the next 2 years.  But before we get into all of that, let's take a look at who won last night:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VOTE TODAY!!! (Because There Was A Time When We Couldn't)


'Nuff Said.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nicki Minaj: 1 Step Forward or 2 Steps Back?

OK we've been putting it off for a while but this latest annihilation poem by Jasmine Mans (video below after the jump) has officially forced our hand.  It is now time to talk about Nicki Minaj.  For our Hip Hop-challenged crowd, if you've listened to just about any top-40 radio station over the last year then chances are you've probably heard Nicki Minaj whether you realized it or not.  She first debuted on Young Money's "Bedrock" along with Lil' Wayne and his other protege, Drake, and, through those connections, she has effectively made a callabo appearance on every single hip-hop song to hit the airwaves ever since - despite the fact that she has not yet dropped an album of her own.   In a nutshell, she's the latest hip-hop sensation, appearing on song's by everybody from Usher to Eminem to Mariah Carey to Robin Thick to Kanye West.  Her most recognized hit is her slow jam single "Your Love" which interestingly enough departs from her trademark fast-paced spastic flow that she's come to be known for.  Speaking of what she's known for, she has also become known for her Barbie-doll persona, colorful (and of course fake) hair, nails, make-up, clothes, etc. (as evidenced by the pics to the right and below) and for her sex-appeal image.  This has caused some static with the keep-it-natural/Black-is-beautiful crowd but we'll touch on that in a moment.  To finish out the Minaj resume, MTV has recognized her as their #6 Hottest MC in the Game over her creator, Lil' Wayne, who was ranked at #7 (no comment). Not to mention, she's being compared to, elevated above, and criticized by some of the historic female emcee hall of famers like Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lil' Kim, Foxxy Brown and Rah Digga, to which Minaj responds in one of her latest tracks:

"Is this the thanks that I get for putting you bitches on? Is it my fault that all you bitches gone?/ You should have sent a thank you note, you little ho/ Now I'm gonna wrap your coffin with a bow."
Houston, do we have a problem?

Well...rather than let us tell it, why don't we direct your attention to the latest response from a poet by the name of Jasmine Mans who let loose at the University of Wisconsin’s 2010 Stomp Da Madness poetry event with her poem entitled "Miss-Education of a Barbie" dedicated to Nicki Minaj and all Black women in general in the entertainment industry: