Friday, September 30, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True
What do those words, spoken by the character Polonius*, from Shakespeare's Hamlet mean to you? They are often interpreted as advising us to live in harmony with our conscience. Although there are some people with warped consciences or who don't have consciences, most of us would probably agree that if someone is trying to live consistently in accordance with his or her internal values they are likely attempting to live a "good" life. 


Or would we agree with this at all? After all there are other ethical, moral and legal considerations that life requires besides living in harmony with our conscience. Sometimes these considerations conflict. Two recent stories piqued my interest on this. 

LEDYARD, N.Y. — Rose Marie Belforti is a 57-year-old cheese maker, the elected town clerk in this sprawling Finger Lakes farming community and a self-described Bible-believing Christian. She believes that God has condemned homosexuality as a sin, so she does not want to sign same-sex marriage licenses; instead, she has arranged for a deputy to issue all marriage licenses by appointment.
But when a lesbian couple who own a farm near here showed up at the town hall last month, the women said they were unwilling to wait.
Now Ms. Belforti is at the heart of an emerging test case, as national advocacy groups look to Ledyard for an answer to how the state balances a religious freedom claim by a local official against a civil rights claim by a same-sex couple.
Ms. Belforti, represented by a Christian legal advocacy group based in Arizona, the Alliance Defense Fund, is arguing that state law requires New York to accommodate her religious beliefs.
“New York law protects my right to hold both my job and my beliefs,” she said in an interview last week, pausing briefly to collect $50 from a resident planning to take 20 loads of refuse to the town dump. “I’m not supposed to have to leave my beliefs at the door at my government job.”
But the couple, Deirdre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael of Miami, are arguing that the law requires all clerks in New York to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The couple are being represented by a liberal advocacy organization, People for the American Way, based in Washington. “Gay people have fought so long and hard to get these civil rights,” said Ms. Carmichael, 53, a filmmaker. “To have her basically telling us to get in the back of the line is just not acceptable.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

As ObamaCare Heads to Supreme Court, We Ask 1 Question: How Will J. Kennedy Feel That Day?

Meet Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

You probably haven't really heard much, if anything, about Justice Kennedy.  In fact, if you're like most Americans, you probably don't really know too much about the mysterious Supreme Court itself, who's on it, how many judges are on it, or just what the heck those people actually do anyway.  Considering the fact that only 1% of all Americans can actually name all 9 current members of the Court, it would not surprise us in the least if your natural reaction to the first line of this post is "Justice Who?"

Just who is this Justice Kennedy cat anyway, and why should we care?

Well, for starters, you can see all of his basic biographical info HERE, but that's not why we care.   No, the real reason why legal nerds like myself even bother to commit this cat's name to memory is because in a country where we have a blatantly politicized Supreme Court that likes to decide cases down ideological lines instead of actually listening to the merits of each case, this man is the tie breaker.  And when the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") makes it's way to the Supreme Court - which may happen as early as January 2012 - you can bet your bottom dollar that whether Obama's signature piece of legislation lives or dies will be determined by this one Supreme Court Justice.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is Chris Christie far enough right for the Right?

My blog partners and I were discussing whether or not Chris Christie, if he decided to run for president, would be elected by the Tea Party.  Christie has taken some liberal positions on several issues very important to the extreme right; would they still vote for him?

Micheal Crowley at TIME had a interesting article on this issue.  Let us know what you think.

By MICHAEL CROWLEY Time.com

Despite the entreaties of wealthy Republican donors and reporters yearning for a hot new storyline, Chris Christie looks like he's not going to run for President. Speaking at the Reagan library in California on Tuesday night, Christie delivered a crowd-pleasing address complaining that President Obama had failed to meet his promise and that America needs new leadership to restore its greatness. "This is not a leadership style, this is a re-election strategy," he said of the current administration's stewardship. "What happened to State Senator Obama? When did he decide to become one of the 'dividers' he spoke of so eloquently in 2004?"


Christie gave no sign that he actually intends to run. When an audience member posed the question, he declined to issue a straight-forward denial, but referred to an online video montage of the countless ways he's ruled out a White House bid in the past. "Those are the answers," he said. And why would he run? However weak the Republican field may look right now, ChristieMania has always been out of sync with his true prospects as a Republican primary candidate.

The problem for Christie is that he's a moderate in a party with little taste for moderation. From a distance, that may not be clear. Everyone knows that Christie's blunt and tough, happy to tell off his critics with raw Jersey attitude. He's also taken on public employee unions and slashed his Democratic-leaning state's budget by $3 billion without raising taxes. He's avowedly pro-life and opposes gay marriage. He thinks "The Jersey Shore" is idiotic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

High-Five for Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Vetoes "Jersey Shore" Production Tax-Credit



Yes, I usually have negative comments about Governor Christie; my past posts have attacked his leadership style and character. Today, I am here to give Governor Christie a high-five and even offer to buy him a drink. Governor Christie put his big mouth and bully pulpit to good use by letting New Jersey tax-payers off the hook for the monstrosity known as "Jersey Shore."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't Just Tell Us... Tell the GOP TOO!

This weekend President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner. If you've seen news headlines you know he told Black folks to quit complaining and press on. To put your marching shoes on and fight for the rightness of his cause. Reading articles about the speech before actually watching the speech my initial reaction was, "Why is he telling us that. Why doesn't he tell that to Republicans." After watching the speech I have the same reaction. Let me explain why.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Governor Rick Perry Violates Voting Rights Act of 1965

Texas Governor Rick Perry Seeks to Suppress the Votes of African-Americans and Latinos through Congressional Map Restricting and Changes to Voter ID Laws

Pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. 1973c, jurisdictions covered by the Act's special provisions must obtain preclearance of any redistricting plan prior to implementation.

After January 20, 2009 a well orchestrated plan was put into place with the hopes of ensuring that this country never repeats the outcome of the 2008 election. Two mechanisms thought to be easily implemented on the state-level by Governors, changes to voting laws and post-census congressional map redistricting, are now under question by the US Department of Justice. Up on deck is Texas Governor Rick Perry.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Music Reviews-Betty Davis and The Holmes Brothers

Betty Davis
Betty Davis is a funk singer, songwriter and musician who received some notoriety in the late sixties and early seventies. For a short time she was Miles Davis' (second) wife and muse. Her roommate tells the story that Betty went backstage to meet Miles, found Miles with another woman and told him 
"I'm Betty Mabry. I'm a musician and I think you might want to get together with me. And when you throw that **** out, I'll be back".
Betty says it didn't happen like that and that Miles made the first move. 
Although Miles and Betty were only married for a year , Miles was heavily influenced both sartorially and musically by his much younger wife. Betty wasn't too much into jazz but was extremely well versed in the new funk and rock that was coming out. Per Miles' autobiography: 
"That year was full of new things. Betty was a big influence on my personal life as well as my musical life... If Betty were singing today she'd be something like Madonna; something like Prince, only as a woman". 
Miles wrote music for his wife, "Mademoiselle Mabry" and put her on the cover of his album Filles de Kilimanjaro. Per Betty, Miles also asked her opinions on his upcoming album Bitches Brew.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Fine Mess: Government Shut Down II - Coming Soon

As October 1st looms, the country finds itself in another custody battle between the Republicans and Democrats both trying to define the role of government. As usual, the jobs of hundreds of thousands federal employees; federal museums, parks, and monuments; and the profits of all the tangential private sector business are on the line.

Raise your hand if you’re tired of this! We’ve been here before; remember back in February when congress took us to the edge of a shutdown? Or what about that one time…when the government brought us to the edge of global catastrophe trying to agree upon a debt ceiling deal.

Dang, when was that? I remember it like it was yesterday….

Land of the Free? A Review of the Death Penalty in the United States

In the wake of Georgia's execution of Troy Davis, America has turned its focus once again to the debate surrounding the inclusion of the death penalty in our criminal justice system.  Therefore, we thought this would be an appropriate time to take a detailed look at the death penalty.  Of the 50 states in our country, 34 of them allow the death penalty while 16 of them (plus D.C.) have abolished it.  Since 1976, the United States has executed 1,269 convicts who were on death row.  Of those 1,269 executions, 1,042 (82%) of them were administered in the South and 475 of them (37%) were administered by the State of Texas alone.  Although Blacks only make up 12% of the United States population, they made up 35% of all of the nation's executions since 1976 and they make up 42% of all inmates currently awaiting execution on death row today.  Of the 25 states with the highest murder rates in the country, 20 of them allow the death penalty; of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in the country (1. Louisiana, 2. Maryland, 3. Missouri, 4. Mississippi, 5. New Mexico, 6. Arizona, 7. South Carolina, 8. Nevada, 9. Georgia, 10. Alabama) all but New Mexico use the death penalty.  At the other end of the spectrum, out of the 25 states with the lowest murder rates in the country, only 14 use the death penalty.  Last but not least, 130 people have been released from death row since 1973 where evidence was later found after their trials which proved their innocence.   Similarly, since the introduction of DNA evidence testing in 1989 there have been 273 people released from prison for crimes that they did not commit.  Of those 273 people, 166 (61%) were Black.  It is notable to observe that of those 273 people, 17 were on death row awaiting the death penalty.  Now that we've provided you with the facts, the members of The Urban Politico will weigh in with our thoughts after the jump.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Join The Urban Politico Team: Live Chat - FOX NEWS Republican Debate

LIVE CHAT with The Urban Politico Team THURSDAY NIGHT (TONIGHT) @ 9PM EST


Join us for a LIVE CHAT TONIGHT during the FOX NEWS Republican Debate


FOX NEWS live-stream here:
http://live.foxnews.com/


FOX NEWS, Google and The Republican Party of Florida are co-sponsoring the GOP debate tonight with all 8 Republican Presidential candidates and newcomer, Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. The debate will take place in Orlando, Florida and will be live streamed on FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS' Bret Baier will moderate along with FOX NEWS anchors Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace serving as panelists. The questions will come from the moderator and panelists as well as video questions submitted via YouTube.

Tonights debate kicks-off the Presidency 5 event sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida. This 3-day event will feature forums and speeches with the culmination of the Florida Straw Poll on Saturday, September 24th.

As usual, The Urban Politico staff will be here in real time chatting it up and adding our 2 cents on all of the priceless nuggets of GOP wisdom that will invariably provide tonight's entertainment.

See you then.

The White House is Unfriendly to Female Staffers?

Looks like the "Old Boy's Network" has struck again. This time its hit an unexpected place, the White House. According to a new book written by Ron Suskind, "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President," female staffers felt excluded, under valued for their policy ideas and lacked the equal access to the President, that their male counterparts freely enjoyed. The frustrations of these women hit a boiling point, forcing the President himself to step in and attempt to rectify the situation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A State Called Palestine



The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, will submit a bid for Palestinian statehood to the UN Security Council this week. The US will veto this application. The US has been working diplomatically to prevent Abbas' move. The US claims that "unilateral" actions are unhelpful though somehow it never seems to get too upset about unilateral Israeli actions. Abbas has a fallback option of submitting an application for UN observer membership (similar to the Vatican) to the UN General Assembly. This can't be vetoed. Either way, a Palestinian state would have greater access to international treaties, organizations and courts. This worries Israel. The US and its allies have tried to persuade some UN states to vote against the application, though it is conceded that a General Assembly vote offers the Palestinians a better chance of success.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Plausibility of Class Warfare



"This is not class warfare. It's math."



~President Barack Obama, Monday, September 19, 2011



"I don't believe that class warfare is leadership. And, you know, we could get into this tax the rich, tax the rich, but that is not... that's not the basis for America. It is not going to get our economy going again. And it's not going to put people back to work."



~House Speaker John Boehener, (R) Ohio, Monday, September 19, 2011

Ladies and gentleman I believe we have the makings of a fight on our hands. As you may already know, I think Obama's going to compromise, cave, tap out if you will. But this morning as I ran a soundbite from John Boehner equating government spending to a cocaine addiction, and another producer ran a soundbite from the President of the aforementioned statement about simple math, I began to think more deeply about class warfare. About pitting the classes against each other. The plebeians and proletariats against the patricians. The poor, impoverished and disenfranchised against the uppity, high-falutin' bourgeoise. And I thought on sheer numbers alone we the working poor and what's left of the middle class surely outnumber the Warren Buffetts of the country. Yet what we have in number we lack in power which is why class warfare isn't really plausible, isn't really what this -- whatever it is -- is. No matter how good it sounds it's just not. The poor in all their strength in numbers rarely rise up against the rich and the powerful because if we are not firmly United our front can easily be broken by bribes. (Unless of course this is Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc or seven Jamaican women slaves in The Book of Night Women.)

While class warfare is highly unlikely economic warfare is not.


**BREAKING NEWS** TROY DAVIS DENIED CLEMENCY

CNN reported a few minutes ago that the Georgia Board of Pardons has just denied clemency for Troy Davis, who we have been blogging about recently and is scheduled to be executed this Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately the shadow of doubt, which has loomed over the conviction as well as the sentence, was not enough to move GA into changing their original decision. As everyone knows, there has been overwhelming support by the country, as well as some individuals in high places who have spoken out against the validity of the Troy Davis verdict. As if that were not enough the GA State Board of Pardons was handed as petition in support of Troy with over 660,000 signatures.





Denying clemency for Troy Davis is not just about his case, it is about the entire justice system of Georgia being virtually a joke. They have chosen to put their careers and reputation above the justice they swore to uphold and worst above the life of a fellow human being.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Has Finally Ended!

Today marks the end of 18-years of discriminatory practices upheld by our nations military and the United States Congress. At 12:01am this morning, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," signed by President Obama last December went into full effect. Gay men and women can now serve openly in the US Military without fear of persecution or discharge. All pending DADT discharges have officially been halted, as well as investigations of violations of DADT.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Perry vs. Obama: Drawing Lessons from Goldwater vs. LBJ

George Santayana once said "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  That may very well prove to be the case if the Republican party nominates Texas Governor and Tea Party icon Rick Perry for President over the establishment Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  In a political climate where an establishment Republican candidate (or even a well financed Independent candidate for that matter) would be well positioned to deliver the final blow to an embattled Democratic President, the GOP would be foolish to allow the conservative wing of the party to toss out the best chance that it has of securing the victory in 2012.  Indeed, to do so would be to fail to divine the lessons learned from the now infamous '64 election between Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson ("LBJ").  Ladies and Gentlemen, I respectfully submit to you that we have seen this movie before and (spoiler alert) it doesn't end well for the ultra-conservative guy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Reviews-Mob Killer, The Store, The Devil You Know, Lion's Blood

Mob Killer
by Anthony DeStefano
Charles Carneglia, who is imprisoned for life, was a killer for the Gambino Crime Family, most specifically the Gotti faction. He was directly involved in at least five murders committed under the Family aegis. He was well known throughout the NY underworld for his "enhanced interrogation" skills and for making bodies disappear.
Although I'm not sure it was the author's intent, he simultaneously strips off any glamour from the criminal lifestyle and almost makes you feel sorry for Carneglia, who despite spending his entire adult life toiling away in the NY underworld, never progresses financially. He lacks wealth and respect. No yachts, fat bankrolls, long cigars or harem of busty blondes for Carneglia. 
A delusion persists among some Mob enthusiasts as well as some deluded Mafia members and associates that the Mafia is somehow different than the so-called "street" gangs –more majestic in its goals, possessed of a sort of Dark Side of the Force grandeur that we reluctantly recognize even as we condemn it.

Bullhockey.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Call to Action: STOP THE EXECUTION OF TROY DAVIS ***UPDATE***



The Urban Politico has partnered with the Black Bloggers Connect to host the Blogging for Troy Davis Conference this weekend, beginning today, as well as a twitter forum Sunday, 7pm-8pm est, highlighting the Troy Davis case. There will be blog posts featured from around the world that have been written regarding the Troy Davis case and controversy. We are encouraging all our readers and supporters to join us this weekend via the BlackBloggersConnect.com homepage, as well as on twitter by following @urban_politico and @bloggersconnect and joining in on the discussion. You can also join the Urban Politico chat homepage and chat with us about the case and the forum as well.

There are also a number of online petitions circulating which we encouraging folks to sign as well. One is on the Amnesty International and there is also one on Change.org.

Lastly if you have a website and would like to be part of this conference email info@BlackBloggersConnect.com.

With only a few more days left before the execution of Troy Davis it is imperative that we pull together every resource possible to try and stop a tremendous injustice from occurring in the name of justice. If it was me or a family member I only pray that I can not only garner this kind of support, but that in the end it would actually make a difference. Faith is believing that what we are doing right now WILL make a difference, even though we have no tangible evidence to support the feeling. Allow your faith to stand with us. All we are asking is for you to sign a petition and allow your presence online to be felt this weekend.


Godson



In approximately ONE (1) week an innocent man will be be murdered by the state of Georgia.  For 20 years this man and his family have been fighting a system of racism and corruption, eventually receiving a verdict of death from the same pit of evil.


I decided not to do much writing on this subject and let what has already been done and said on the matter speak for itself. I believe that most of you, our readers, already know who Troy is and what is going on with the case so this is not to inform you - it is to inspire you to take action.


Who is Troy Davis?





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Too Scared to Change

It has come to my attention thanks to Shady_Grady that the Democrats are hesitant to pass President Obama's $447 billion (paid for) American Jobs Act. They instead want to pass the bill piece meal instead of in one fell swoop. In the Senate they want to bring up parts that will fail to make Republicans look bad.

Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has a problem with only closing loopholes for oil companies which makes sense since she represents the interests of oil rich Louisiana. Others have a problem with the payroll tax cut. Republicans have a problem with tax increases. Basically it's safe to say that everybody has a problem with this bill. My take.... So What.

UPDATE: Slavery the Game: A Teaching Tool


As promised we here at Urban Politico have received a formal statement from Microsoft regarding Slavery the Game. (If you missed the original post take the time to check it out and then return for the follow up.)

Bethany, with Microsoft, responded to our media inquiry on behalf of Microsoft's Xbox 360 with a statement from Microsoft's spokesperson:

"Microsoft has no knowledge of this title and it is evident this is a hoax. Additionally, Xbox is a family friendly games and entertainment console and does not allow Adults Only (AO) content to be certified for use on its platform, and would not condone this type of game for Xbox 360."

Bethany also sent us a link to the "real truth" behind the game. Turns out the "game trailer" is actually a viral video ad to promote a television series in the Netherlands. The series which will air on public television in the Netherlands is targeted toward children and adult. In the youth series children will learn about slavery in general and how it still exists today as far as human trafficking. In the Adult series the focus will be on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Dutch involvement from 1600 to 1800.

In the article there is a youtube video where one of the contributors to the series, a Black Dutch man by the name of Lyangelo Vasquez further explains the viral video ad and the series and the impetus behind it. Simply put, Vasquez wanted to do the series because in the Netherlands Dutch history is taught often but there is little to find on the history of the Black Dutch brought to the country as slaves. The host of the interview with Lyangelo agreed and said that in school he didn't learn much about the slave trade at all. The two also issue an apology for the insensitivity of the game [my words] to us Americans where slavery is a much more hot button topic than it is in the Netherlands.

For further explanation of the documentary series which will air this Friday in the Netherlands, and to hear Lyangelo's explanation of the game just watch the video below. Oh you have to read the subtitles.







My take on the program that will air in the Netherland is that it is a good thing. It's good to start this dialogue especially if it has never happened before. The viral video was catchy and clearly got people talking. The problem is that once it was posted on the internet it was not going to stay within the network of computers who use .nu to access the internet. In that respect I feel the viral video was misguided even thought it was effective.

But that is just the opinion of The Storyteller. Let us know how you feel now that you've all got the facts.



Questions:
1. Do you think a documentary teaching slavery to people in a country that participated heavily in the transportation of slaves around the world is a good idea?
2. Is there a better way NTR could have promoted their series without the use of the viral video ad.
3. If this docu-series were to air in America what kind of response do you think it would receive?

Social Security: Is it a Ponzi Scheme?

Social Security has always been one of the more hotly debated political topics.  Thanks to our friends in the Republican Presidential Primary race, it has been forced into the mainstream yet again.  The more I listen to the bickering back and forth, the more I am amazed about how much misinformation is out there – actually, I’m more amazed at the misinformation of our "so called" leaders and decision makers.  If they are either ignorant or are knowingly telling lies, then OF COURSE the public will be confused and undereducated.  There are two issues that I think we should clear up:  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Racial Profiling on Airplanes-Detroit Incident

It's never a good thing to be accused of or questioned about something that you had nothing to do with. When the people doing the accusing or questioning have the full might of the US Federal Government behind them, it's even worse. And it's really bad when the primary reason for the accusation or questioning is not something that you did, it's how you look. I've been through some minor instances of this a few times but never anything like what recently happened to Shoshana Hebshi, a Toledo woman of Jewish-Arabic heritage.

On September 11, 2011, there was an incident at Detroit Metro Airport that made national news. Reportedly a few dark-complected men were allegedly "acting suspiciously" during a Denver to Detroit Frontier Airlines flight.  The story was that they were in the bathroom together or one was in the bathroom for too long. F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and escorted the airliner to its suburban Detroit destination.

New York - 9 Special Election

Congratulations "Grand Old Party," for the first time since 1920, you've managed to win a congressional seat in New York District 9. Go ahead take your victory lap, make calculations about 2012 and continue to do nothing, to move this country forward. "Grand Old Party" you don't owe this win to frustrations with President Obama, David Wepin's support of same-sex marriage passage in New York State, or even to Bob Turner being a good strong candidate. You owe this win to Anthony Weiner's lapse in judgement. For as long as you hold this seat, you are indebted to the untidiness of the New York Democratic Party.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guest Post: Jobs vs. Innovation: What Patent Reform Really Means for America

***In light of the recent Patent Reform law that, at the time of this posting, is on Obama's desk awaiting his signature, we thought it would be a good idea to hear what the experts think about this new law.  Today's guest post comes to us from a Patent Attorney who goes by the blog name "The Examiner."  The Examiner is a technologist turned lawyer from the East Coast who has traveled extensively throughout South East Asia, Africa and Europe before deciding to settle down back in the U.S. He is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and lives in New Jersey where he currently practices Patent Law. Before going to law school, he spent most of his career building technologies for fortune 500 companies and now uses his law degree to protect that type of innovation from those who would steal it.  The Examiner has agreed to field our questions about this new law so please be sure to engage our guest in the comments below***


There is not much in the current political environment that Congress can agree upon.  From health care to the debt crisis, it appears that compromise has taken a backseat to political ideology and vacant rhetoric.  In spite of this, on September 8, 2011, the Senate, by an overwhelming 89-9 vote (and the House by a vote of 304-117), passed the most sweeping change to the U.S. Patent system in almost six decades. “The America Invents Act” (AIA), purports to put America to work by finally addressing the ostensibly broken U.S. patent system, which allegedly stifles innovation and progress.  This bill has been on the wish list of many deep pocket campaign donors for several years.  In fact, a consortium of some of the largest technology companies in America has vehemently supported the bill, which by all accounts will soon be signed into law by President Obama.  

The America Invents Act was passed in the moments before the President’s much-anticipated (or hyped depending on your persuasion) speech on his new jobs initiatives.  As the bill’s chief architect, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), asserts, this legislation “is a true jobs bill at a time when we need it the most.” Some even estimate that as many as 200,000 jobs will miraculously materialize in wake of this legislation.  Now you may ask yourself: is this too good to be true? Does this really affect me, the average citizen? Where are these jobs? How can I apply?


In order to address these questions, we need to examine what effect the AIA will actually have.  Although parts of the AIA will align applicable patent statutes with major court decisions, a more critical provision will move the U.S. patent system from the unique “First-to-Invent” (FTI) regime to the more European-style “First-to-File” (FTF).  Currently, our FTI system rewards the inventor who first conceives of an idea and diligently reduces it to practice by building a prototype or filing a patent application.  Typically, the patent is valid so long as the inventor does not abandon, suppress or conceal the invention.  One apparent problem with the FTI system is that when two inventors file a patent for the same invention, a costly interface hearing ensues to determine the “true” patent owner.  


By contrast, it is the simplicity and practical advantages of the FTF system that explains why many see it as an attractive alterative.  Under the FTF system, there are no expensive interference disputes (hearings where two different companies try to claim the same patent).  The applicant with the earliest postmark to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) gets the patent.  

Consequently, with this simplified patent system more patents should be granted, which as we are led to believe will translate into more jobs [I’ll get back to that point later].  As expected, not everyone is in favor of this change.  Small inventors and mid-sized companies view the FTF system as unduly favoring large corporations, which have armies of patent attorneys on speed dial who are ready and able to rapidly churn out patent applications in exchange for billable hours.

To understand the underpinnings of the U.S. FTI system and why changing it is so controversial, a quick history lesson of Patent Law in America is required.  The U.S. Constitution, pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, provides that Congress shall have the power “To promote the progress of science . . . by securing for limited times to . . . inventors the exclusive right to their respective . . . discoveries.” (emphasis added).  It is this constitutional provision that is the foundation of our current U.S. Patent system.  As such, the FTI system is deeply rooted in our laws because the Constitution provides Congress the power to grant patents to “inventors” who, by definition, are the first to invent not the first to file.  Hence, under an “originalist” view of the Constitution, to change to a European-style FTF system may not be what the Framers envisioned to promote the progress of science.  Yet, this inevitable constitutional challenge to the bill is not why it is most troublesome.  It is the misguided belief that U.S. patents = U.S. jobs. 

As many inventors can tell you, patenting an invention and making a profit from it are two totally different things.  The average entrepreneur has very little experience with patents, and many do not know how to exploit or even protect their newly acquired rights.  While there are a few who manage to spin their invention into the next multi-million dollar widget, and employ thousands of US workers, this is the exception not the rule.  Usually, only the large corporations are savvy enough to mass market their patent portfolio to the point of producing a profit.  But most of them do not manufacture the invention in the US.  Instead, they bypass the US workforce in favor of outsourcing overseas where they are able to exploit foreign economies of scale. Just look at the bottom of any hi-tech electronic and next to the demarcation indicating the item is U.S. Patented, you are most likely to also see the brand “Made in [pick your foreign country]”.


The reality is that besides the lawyers and big businesses, the only other group that the AIA will be popular with is the USPTO; a funding provision in the bill grants the USPTO the ability to increase revenue streams by self-regulating its own fees.  This will likely allow the hiring of at least some additional patent examiners to tackle the huge backlog of patent applications and reduce internal USPTO workloads.

So in sum, what does the AIA mean for you? Well, if you are a part of a unique and often small community of highly skilled workers (patent attorneys/USPTO) or a worker overseas, then this bill is for you; for everyone else in America, not so much.  Thus, until Congress is ready to agree to finally reform the outsourcing of American job creation, the AIA will be just another example of a failed attempt to get Americans back to work.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Join The Urban Politico Team: Live Chat - CNN Republican Tea-Party Debate

LIVE CHAT with The Urban Politico Team MONDAY NIGHT (TONIGHT) @ 8PM EST


Join us for a LIVE CHAT TONIGHT during the CNN Republican Tea-Party Debate

CNN live-stream here:
http://live.cnn.com/

The Tea Party & CNN (how's that for a match up?) are co-sponsoring the 2nd GOP debate tonight with all 8 Republican Presidential candidates.  The debate will take place in Tampa, Florida and will be live streamed on CNN.  CNN's Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator, however, questions will also come from people in the audience and from Tea Party events around the country.

As usual, The Urban Politico staff will be here in real time chatting it up and adding our 2 cents on all of the priceless nuggets of Tea Party wisdom that will invariably provide tonight's entertainment.

See you then.  Until then, check out the following preview for tonight's debate:





Jacqueline Kennedy's Choice Words


During her recollection of past interviews with high profile guests, Oprah recalled a conversation she had with John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996 in which she shared with him her journalistic goal of landing an interview with his late mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Oprah told the young Kennedy that she was glad that she never got the interview and also glad that Mrs. Kennedy Onassis never gave an interview to anyone. Well it looks like Oprah was wrong. In 1964 the recently widowed Mrs. Kennedy gave a series of interviews to former Kennedy aide and historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. The interviews are being published as a book and audio recording. The usually soft spoken passive Mrs. Kennedy had a few choice words and candidly admits her true feelings about several people she encountered during her late husband's presidency.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Urban Politico's Reflections of September 11, 2001: 10-Years Later


As we reflect on the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I think it's important that we find a way to make this day a day where we do something positive to honor the memories of our fallen brothers and sisters and their families. There is a big push to make September 11th a national day of service going forward. This morning, I will be one of many New Yorkers participating in various service events around the city and I invite you to do the same in your local community. If you don't have the opportunity to participate in a service event today, you can still do something in memory of the lives we lost on September 11th at a later time this year.


September 11, 2001 was my second full day of classes at St. John's University here in New York City. It was a Tuesday morning and my first class began at 9:25 am. Of course I overslept that morning and was rushing to get out of the dorm around a little before 9am. I didn't have the television on. My suite-mate ran into my room around this time and said "Oh my God, a plane just hit the World Trade Center." We were both in shock and concerned, her uncle worked in the building. I immediately stopped getting ready for class and we were glued to the television. Then we heard the second plane had struck the second tower, then we panicked. My roommate and two of our other suite-mates ran back to the dorms and alerted us classes were cancelled and that the country was under attack. One of my other suite-mates was extremely shook up and immediately ran out of the dorms, both of her parents worked in the towers. We all immediately went off to check on family members and report that we were all safe in the dorms. Because I was only in school for a few days, I had not setup the phone service in my dorm and I didn't have a cell phone as yet. I went outside to use a pay phone to call home and check on my aunt who worked in midtown Manhattan, at the time. When I got outside of my building, my campus was in mayhem, people crying and running around. Within the hour, my university alerted us that no one could leave the campus, including commuters and the national guard was brought in the guard the campus. The main campus of SJU is located in Queens and we also have another campus located in lower Manhattan, one block from where the World Trade Center stood. My memory is a little foggy about what took place that day after 12pm, but I remember feeling very sad and helpless. At one point that day, my suite-mates and I went up to the 6th floor of our dorm, where we had a clear view of Manhattan and we could see a cloud of black smoke. Late in the afternoon my suite-mate who had both parents working in the towers, confirmed her parent were out of harms way and my other suite-mate confirmed the same for her uncle. Later that evening I went to university-wide mass. This tragedy shut my city down and changed our lives dramatically. Being a New Yorker and being here when everything happened gave me a feeling that is hard to describe.

Today, I work directly across the street from Ground Zero, so everyday, I am reminded of that tragic day and I always think about the lives lost and say a silent pray for them and their families.

Saturday afternoon I took a quick trip to Lower Manhattan, took a moment to reflect on the last 10-years and I took these pictures to give you a closer look at the rebuilding efforts at Ground Zero.

World Trade Center Rebuilding






Reflections on September 11, 2001:

The Janitor
I remember like it was yesterday. I had not yet moved to NYC, and was working on a construction site in my former life as an engineer. Construction work starts early (7am) so we were up before the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46am Eastern Time (7:46 Central where we were). And some time around 8am central time, I'm out on the site going over construction blue prints with an iron worker foreman and one of his iron workers comes up and says that a plane just ran into the World Trade Center in New York.

We were thinking that this was some kind of small passenger prop plane or something, shrugged our shoulders, and kept on working. Then about 15 minutes later I looked up and saw all the construction workers one by one leaving the job site. First a few, then dozens at a time. I was like WTF is this about?

Then I found myself following the crowd doing a small jog as I try to ask the guys next to me why the hell we're all running? One of them replies back to me that it's official that a second plane has hit the other World Trade Tower and that we're under attack. So everybody was running to the nearest TV to see what was going on.

And when I got there they kept showing the replay of the second plane crashing into the South Tower at 9:03 am Eastern. And that's when we knew that America would never be the same.

10 years later, as real as we all know it was that day, it seems like the stuff of legends. We'll all be telling our kids or our grandkids about this story one day and they'll think we're making it up because it just seems so far fetched that anybody could actually do that to America. But we know it happened. America knows it happened. In addition to those 3,000 souls who lost their lives that day, a small part of America died that day also. Since then, we've struggled to come to grips with the proper balance between safety vs. freedom. I think that the lesson that we've (hopefully) learned over the past 10 years is that no matter how tragic 9/11 was, if we give up our freedoms then we've allowed the terrorists to win because they will have achieved what they were after - to have America live in fear. We can't let that happen.

Shady Grady
I was at work when one of my co-workers sent me an IM saying a plane had hit the WTC. At first I thought it was an accident. Then everyone else started getting the same message and the second plane hit so we knew it was no accident. My brother called me. I was happy to hear from him since he works in the financial industry and was in and out of the WTC all the time.

I also heard from relatives closer to home wondering what was going on. Work had pretty much ground to a halt since everyone was going to the web to get updates or just hanging out in each others cubes/offices sharing concern.

Shortly after we heard about the attack on the Pentagon our company sent everyone home as a precaution.

I remember thinking that the people who did it were crazy twisted SOB's and that this was likely some sort of blowback. I was mostly happy that my brother was ok.

The Storyteller
I was 15 years old, sitting in economics class waiting for the bell to ring. The classroom was awash in light chatter but I really wasn't participating in it. I was quiet to myself. The door to the classroom was open. I looked up and the security guard was running down the hallway. She stopped and told our teacher, "A plane was flown into the world trade center." My teacher immediately jumped on the internet to find out what was happening. I remember thinking to myself, "What's the world trade center."

The chatter in the classroom grew louder with the news. The bell rang. My friend and I bounded up the stairs to the next period. The recent news mixed with the sounds of teens living their lives created the ultimate collision course of the mood of the day. In 2nd period our teacher pushed a television to the front of the classroom. I now know we were watching America being attacked but then I didn't quite get it. I wasn't ignorant to the world. But to have lived a life where America was always at war but never in America made what I was watching seem unreal. I just didn't get it. Or rather I didn't want to.

By the time home room came the events of September 11th had already unfolded. Towers felled, the Pentagon on fire, a plane crashed into the ground. This is Chicago. Central time. An hour behind. But panic sweeping my high school of two thousand students. In home room, rumors were flying like crazy that a plane was coming to the Sears Tower. I don't remember being scared. I remembered being caught up in everyone else's emotion. The gravity of that day really didn't have an affect on me until last year.

Working in news you can become disconnected from the emotion and vulnerability of events in the name of producing a good product. My first station September 11th was a Friday. I watched bits and pieces of the MSNBC 9/11 As It Happened Coverage. But not enough to really make a difference to what I had already known, what I had already seen. But last year 9/11 fell on a Saturday. I made it a point to watch MSNBC. I watched for about three hours straight. Watching the second plane crash into the tower shook me to my core. Watching the towers collapse gave me goosebumps. It was with adult eyes I felt what I should have all those years ago. It was with adult eyes I understood why our world has never been the same again.

At 15 I knew the facts as they were given to me. I debated them on my high school debate team. I wrote about how the events affected my collegiate future in scholarship letters. But those were just facts, no emotion. Now I have very real feelings. They let me know, no matter how much I blog about change, write the President about my frustrations in wars that have gone on for too long, that there is a reason we are doing this. There is a reason for life as we know it. And unfortunately we can never go back. I and the world can never be as blissfully ignorant in our stability and security as we were before that day. I'm not 15 anymore and neither is the world.

How will you honor the memory of the lives lost on September 11, 2001?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Movie Reviews- Red State, Let's Do it Again, Cherish and more

Red State                 
I had virtually given up on Kevin Smith as a director. I thought his muse had left him. On a lark I decided to watch his movie Red State on VOD. It was described as a horror movie.
It wasn't a horror movie.
But it is Smith's best film since Clerks or Chasing Amy. Smith has matured as a director and writer. I'm not saying this movie is Oscar material but it does have an Oscar winning performer (Melissa Leo) in it. The story's strength surprised me. And at just under 90 minutes there's no flab here.

It is Smith's vision of what would happen if Rev. Fred Phelps, he of the "God hates homosexuals" and "I'm glad your son is dead" fame, had decided to "start using the Second Amendment and not just the First" as one of the film's characters puts it.
Three desperately horny high school boys (are there any other kind?) are surfing the net to find free sex. They come across a local solicitation from an older woman who agrees to simultaneously service all three boys. Excited, the trio pile into one of their parent's cars and burn rubber to the agreed destination....

Friday, September 9, 2011

President Obama: The American Jobs Act

President Obama Unveils $447Bn Plan



Thursday evening before a Joint-Session of Congress, President Obama unveiled The American Jobs Act.


"Pass the Bill" - these were the words of the evening. The President urged Congress to put politics aside and move the urgent needs of their constituents to the top of their priority lists. The political dysfunction of Washington DC is at an all-time high and citizens have grown weary and tired of the games. The latest jobs report released by the Department of Labor, put an end to the 18-months of consecutive job growth, that the nation's seen. Zero jobs were created in the month of August and the US unemployment rate stands at 9.1%. The unemployment rate for African-Americans has reached its highest level since 1984 - 16.7%. The stock market is on a roller coaster ride and consumers are still fearful of the future and have reduced their spending habits. The 112th Congress has been in session since January 3, 2011 and nothing has been done to move the country forward or put Americans back to work. The time for Congress to act is now. Let's take a close look at the plan.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

We're Back Live 2Nite: The President's Speech on Jobs @7pm


Join us again for a LIVE CHAT TONIGHT during the President's speech on Jobs at 7:00 pm EST.

The White House will live-stream the video here:

The GOP Presidential Debate Recap

Wednesday's GOP debate in Simi Vally, California at the Ronald Reagan library marked the first time that Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the stage with the rest of the Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the dynamic created a noticeable difference between this debate and the previous debate in New Hampshire that we blogged about HERE.  Whereas the previous debate boiled down to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party Caucus Chair Michelle Bachmann, last night's debate was certainly dominated by the slick talkin', Texas Southern accent twangin', non-question-answerin' Perry.  Mr. "Audios Mofo" himself.  When the other 7 candidates weren't busy bashing President Obama (which made up for about 90% of their stand up material) they were focused on taking shots at the Texas front runner.

Our Winners and Losers after the Jump:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Join The Urban Politico Team: Live Chat - GOP Presidental Debates

LIVE CHAT with The Urban Politico Team WEDNESDAY NIGHT (TONIGHT) @ 8PM EST



GOP Presidential Primary Debate
@
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
8pm EST TONIGHT on MSNBC


Join us this evening for a live-chat via www.theurbanpolitico.com and logging into our Chat Feature.

Some of the Best Chat Comments of the Night after the Jump:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Attention Black Leaders: You will need more than Town Hall meetings and Tours with this Congress.

   
Apparently enough is enough!  GOOD!!!  It's about time. It appears that many Democrats finally have that fire in their belly. That same fire that drives the Tea Party appears to have been lit in many prominent democratic figures. Black "Leaders” [Editor’s Note: “Leaders” is very general – used more as a catch-all. Someone from the Black community with more than their share of national attention – for good or bad] are angry over the Black unemployment rate - which has always been higher than the average - and are taking steps to help improve the numbers.  The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has launched their "For the People Jobs Initiative" hosting several job fairs, hosting town halls, and introducing legislation that will create jobs!  Other "leaders" have launched similar initiatives all in an effort to improve conditions within the Black community. 


Their actions should be applauded.  Doing something, anything, in my opinion, is better than doing nothing.  However, there is more that could/should be done.  While these are noble actions, I've noticed that the "leaders" have also directed some of their anger towards President Obama. I will be the first to admit, some of that anger is deserved.  However, if they want political results, I’m not sure this is the best approach. While this president deserves much of the criticism headed his direction, some of that criticism needs to be directed at Black “Leaders” like YOU, Maxine Waters, Tavis Smiley, Cornell West, and others. I don't believe you can complain about the politics - or lack thereof - and then not use the political tools at your disposal to change it.  Going after the president is a good talking point, but it is NOT results oriented. To be clear, this is not to be confused with speaking out against Obama. If you disagree with his policies, then by all means, be my guest. If you don’t like his leadership style or you’re critical of his handling of congress, then write him a letter – I fully support it. However, if you are looking for specific government action and results (i.e. black unemployment) then blaming the President and asking him to do something in this political climate is not the correct course of action.

About that Libyan War

Imperialism's most dangerous aspect is its seductive nature. This can be just as sexy to self-identified progressives or liberals as it is to unabashed conservatives and reactionaries. The only difference lies in the arguments made. Progressives are likely to be unmoved by open claims of racial, religious or national superiority, greedy interest in someone else's natural resources or simple conquest for the sheer pleasure of violence and dominance. These days, those sorts of honest justifications don't work on many people to the left of Max Boot or Niall Ferguson. 


But there is a different set of casus belli that turns progressives into bloodthirsty killers. Those who would get progressives to support a war or at least mute their opposition to it know exactly which buttons to push. Reasons that turn progressive Poodles into rabid Rottweilers are such claims as "Unfortunately we must intervene in those people's countries and protect them from themselves" or "We're helping set them on the right path for their own good" or "We're protecting women from their sexist patriarchal countrymen" or best of all "We're preventing genocide by invading this country".


Now that Colonel Qaddafi is no longer in control of Libya it might be a good time to take a quick look at some arguments for intervening in Libya that were made by the President, his advisers and supporters. Many of these premises have been shown to be wrong. A few were nonsensical from the start.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slavery The Game: Not Good, Not Even in Theory


"The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the Black man's misery."
~Frederick Douglass


Go back to the 17th Century when Europe ruled the world and make a tremendous fortune.
Buy Slaves.
Discipline them.
Exploit them.
Become the most powerful Slave Trader.
Slavery. The Game.
Coming Soon.

The above paragraph is not something witty I came up with. It is the narration of a trailer for what appears to be a video game; Slavery the Game. I say appears because there is a bit of discrepancy of whether or not this is real or fake.

Take a look and then join me after the jump...




Sunday, September 4, 2011

Open Letter to the President: The GOP Does NOT Respect You. Act Accordingly.

Dear Mr. President,

Like you, I grew up as "the son of a black African father and a white American mother [from Kansas] search[ing] for a workable meaning to his life as a black American."  See Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama at back cover.  Like you, my family grew up poor and struggled to get by.  Like you, we used food stamps.  Like you, I followed my goal to attend law school.  Also like you, I buckled down and made the Law Review while I was there.  And although it's a safe bet that you've easily got me beat on the hours of involvement, like you, I, too, have dedicated a good portion of my life to community service.  So when I tell you that I can relate to where you're coming from, you can rest assured that those words are not being offered as a platitude.  We do, however, differ in one critical respect and it is this fundamental difference that has caused me to write this letter to you today.  If you will indulge me for a moment, I believe what distinguishes us might be best illustrated through a brief story.