Monday, December 31, 2012

Fed Up's Top 12 of 2012

Well, another year has come and gone.  2012, an election year, brought a ton of stories and news.  Seriously, this time last year did you even THINK the things we saw were even possible?  Be honest, who knew what "sequestration" even meant?  Collectively the nation laughed, cried, gasped, cringed, and cheered.  There was good news, great news, bad news, and tragic news.  2012 had many historic moments and some that were not so memorable.  There were stories that had nothing to do with politics that highlighted ever news paper, internet site, and TV station.  From Gabby Douglas to Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.  Yes, 2012 will go down as a year to remember.  

But I've put together my list of the biggest political story lines of 2012.  Clearly this isn't an exclusive list; there were MANY honorable mentions (gay marriage, CIA sex scandal, and Citizens United opening up the flood gates).  For me, this list includes stories that either will have a huge impact, or significant outcome.  So please, if you disagree, let me know down in the comment section.  

Without further adieu: Fed Up's Top 12 political stories from 2012!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movie Reviews-Django Unchained, Curse of The Golden Flower

Django Unchained
directed by Quentin Tarantino
Django Unchained is a great movie. A black man seeking  to rescue his wife is the hero. As Marv said in Sin City, this woman is worth dying for, worth killing for, worth going to hell for. Amen. Black heroes like this haven't been widely seen in American movies since the early seventies during the brief "blaxploitation" craze. For whatever reasons, and some people have written essays on this, in successful large budget movies aimed at mainstream white audiences, many black actors have often been relegated to comedic or sidekick roles. Getting the girl is usually out of the question. Heroes get the girl. Heck even if you're the hero, like Wesley Snipes in the Blade series, chances are 50/50 you won't get the girl, as Blade indeed did not. Three movies and Blade never got the girl. Weird that. Things HAVE changed of course, but not as much as I would like. I think everyone likes to see themselves reflected positively on the screen in a lead or important role. How do you do that when the historical and cultural narratives are so different? Francis Marion is a hero to some but not to me. My ideal movie about him probably wouldn't have looked like The Patriot.

Anyway, Django Unchained throws out the usual conventions about race and heroics. The hero kills many white people. Or rather I should write that he kills many slave owners and their supporters. Their whiteness is less important than their moral depravity. White people and black people die in many of Tarantino's movies. This film should be different? Django Unchained rejects the normal American slavery frame. In this film the slave owners and their minions are the bad guys. How many movies have been made where the hero is that supposedly common ex-Confederate soldier who owned no slaves and didn't believe in white supremacy? How many movies have been made where the slaves were all well fed, happy, and loyal to their white owners? How many movies have been made where slavery is kept off screen while the "true" tragedy of the (white) nation tearing itself apart or some southern belle being unable to find the the right man to accompany her to the soiree is put front and center?

Far too many.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Examination of "Scandal" and the 25th Amendment

Even before I received several e-mails from friends asking me to take a look at one of its latest episodes, I have been hearing good things about ABC's new hit television show "Scandal" starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope.  I've watched a few episodes and, from what I've seen so far, the show is about as close to being on par with HBO-level programming as one can hope to see on a commercial television network.  The basic premise of the show is that Kerry Washington's character (Pope) is a former White House Communications Director who left the White House to start her own crisis management firm, Pope & Associates.  The firm, based in Washington D.C., charges top dollar to make sure that whatever skeletons you may have in your closet stay there for good.  As you can imagine, this type of service comes in quite handy in our nation's capital.  Oh and I forgot to mention one minor little detail: Olivia Pope is banging the President behind the First Lady's back.  Thus, the title of the show not only refers to Olivia Pope's clients but also to Pope herself.

***SPOILER ALERT - THIS POST DISCUSSES THE DECEMBER 6, 2012 EPISODE***

In a recent episode, President Fitzgerald Grant (played by Tony Goldwyn) has been shot in an assassination attempt and is rushed to a nearby hospital where he remains in critical condition.  Vice President Sally Langston (played by Kate Burton), who has a severe Type-A personality, ambitiously wastes no time in trying to assume command of the Presidency.  When the Secret Service, following our nation's protocols during such a crisis, attempt to take the Vice President to a secure location, the following conversation ensues:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

College: Ticket For Upward Social Mobility or Widening the Gap b/w Rich & Poor?

Things are a little bit different when you have money.  When you're rich...wait I almost forgot, nobody wants to admit to being quote/unquote "rich."  Ok fine. Strike that.  What I meant to say was when you have money you have a general idea of how much of it is in your bank account, give or take a hundred bucks or so.  When you're poor, you know exactly how much money is in your bank account - to the penny.  You don't have "maybe 500 bucks" in the bank, you have "sixteen dollars and thirty-two cents" in the bank and it has to last until the 15th.  When you have money you go to the doctor regularly.  When you're poor you avoid any and all medical facilities unless you are dying - and even then you have to think about it.  When you have money, you own your home.  When you are poor you are behind on rent to the person with money who owns the home. When you have money and need to get some of it to a distant friend or family member in need you may wire it directly from your account to theirs.  Depending on the bank, this is typically done for free.  When you're poor you go to Western Union and pay $25 bucks to wire $25 bucks.  And speaking of bank accounts, when you have money you usually work for the type of place that does direct deposit.  When you're poor, the people at the neighborhood check cashing place -- who take a nice big bite out of each check you cash -- know you on a first-named basis.

And so it should come at no surprise that when people with money send their kids to college those kids have a completely different experience than poor kids.  Such a conclusion was reached (or rather reiterated) recently by the New York Times piece "For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in Hard Fall."  The piece follows three young women from poor families and reports on their respective difficulties as they attempt to navigate the college experience.  The results are somewhat predictable but the article raises a valid question about whether higher education truly serves as a social ladder for the poor or whether it merely serves to maintain the status quo of the American Dream Fallacy.   

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from The Urban Politico!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Movie Reviews-The Hobbit, Supernatural: Season Four, Lust for a Vampire, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

The Hobbit (An Unexpected Journey)
directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is a very very very long movie. Interminable. And did I mention it was long. Look let's be honest here. If you are a Jackson or a Tolkien fan you're going to see this movie no matter what anybody writes. You're a Tolkien junkie and you need your fix. I am too so don't try to kid a kidder. If you're not a Tolkien fan, well just be aware that this is a lengthy film that simultaneously takes a lot of liberties with the source material but still attempts fidelity to its spirit.
I was a little worried when I read that Jackson's producing and writing partners, Phillippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, disapproved of the lack of any women characters in The Hobbit and changed things so that there would be some female energy. They added a few scenes with the elf Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) that weren't in the book but I didn't mind that much. I didn't like the implication that Gandalf had to report to Galadriel. Saruman yes, but not Galadriel. Anyway that was minor. Blanchett IS Galadriel and Galadriel IS probably the most powerful elven leader still in Middle-Earth so it's all good.
J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit was mostly written for children. Tolkien had conceived of some back story but not all of it and wasn't sure if or how it would be connected to The Hobbit. So the book is a light short romp about a well fed, relatively incurious hobbit of The Shire (a virtual stand in for pastoral England) who is accidentally drawn into a quest to restore a dwarfish kingdom and defeat a dragon. During his adventure he encounters wizards, dwarves, elves, trolls, a lonely cave dweller with a magic ring, greedy merchants, evilly intelligent giant wolves, nasty giant spiders, human heroes, goblins, and of course a rather sarcastic dragon with an ego that matches his size. It's only at the end where there's a huge battle royale over gold and revenge that the book's tone briefly changes to something a bit more majestic and darker.

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of Days Mayan Style! (NOT)!

Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its
own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the
reverent in the right - right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright
light, feeling pretty psyched.

It’s the end of the world as we know it ~REM

If you're reading this, then the world has NOT ended.  TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) unless, of course, you believed that the world was coming to an end. That’s right. The time is upon us, December 21, 2012. This is the day that the Mayans, whose civilization lived from 1000 B.C. to 1519 A.D., marked their calendar as the day the world would end. You see, the Mayan apocalypse predictions arise from a misunderstanding belief of the ancient Maya Long Count Calendar, which ends a 400-year cycle called a b’ak’tun on December 12, 2012, the day of the winter solstice.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Corey Booker Exploring Senate Seat (VIDEO)



Mayor Cory Booker (D) announced today that he would complete his second term as Mayor of Newark, NJ dispelling long time speculation of his plan to become Governor of New Jersey. In a video address posted on the Mayor's Youtube page, Booker announced his next political move.


”I will complete my full second term as mayor. As for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for The United States Senate in 2014, he stated. He also used the announcement as an opportunity to praise his administration for its success.

"We are at the center of America's efforts to reform education," he stated. "Amazingly in a down economy Newark is in its biggest period of economic growth since the 1950's," Booker continued.


While Booker had been criticized for being too often out of town, making television appearances and building his celebrity star power, Booker has argued that his networking is responsible for the city's economic growth.

The senate seat is currently being occupied by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who at 88 years of age is the oldest member of the Senate. Lautenberg has said he would seek reelection in 2014.

For the last few months many have anticipated a political bout between Booker and Governor Chris Christie (R), who had recently gained an edge in polls in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. While the speculation surrounding the two rising political heavyweights signals it would have surely been one to watch, it looks like spectators will have to hold off on that match. Presidential election anyone??

Watch Cory Booker's video address below:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Friends Don't Let Friends Use Resort Stays Vouchers

We interrupt our normally scheduled political commentary to bring you this special public service announcement.  If you're thinking of doing some traveling this holiday season or perhaps maybe in the new year then you may be looking for some cost efficient ways to get out there and see the world.  Being the smart shopper that you are, this might prompt you to search for various deals on travel websites.  And maybe, just maybe, it might prompt you to take a deal on Groupon for a certain business entity going by the name of "Resort Stays Voucher."  Do yourself a favor: don't do that.  You may recall last year I suffered through the indignity of flying with the mom-and-pop-shop bootleg franchise known as Spirit Airlines.  I suffered through that indignity so that you won't have to.  Once again I have suffered through another indignity on your behalf so listen to me closely when I tell you that you want no part of Resort Stays Vouchers.  If you've never heard of them then GOOD. Consider yourself lucky.  Less damage for you to erase from your memory later on.  If you have heard of them and, worse yet, if you're actually considering using them for your future travel plans then stop what you're doing and pull up a chair because boy have I got a story for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who is Tim Scott?

With Tea Party favorite Jim Demint leaving the Senate for a more…lucrative… job as president of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley was tasked with appointing his replacement.  Today she made her announcement: Tim Scott. 

Today's appointment makes Tim Scott the ONLY sitting African American senator.  He will be the first African American senator from a Deep South state since reconstruction.  He will be the second Black Republican Senator (Edward Brooke) and just the seventh (yes, you heard that right, 7th … total) Black Senator in the history of the United States. 

Out of the nearly 1900 Senators in our history, seven have been of African American descent; with Scott, there have been five in modern history.  (Side Note: Of the seven, only 3 of been elected by popular vote.  Two were elected by their State Senate and two were appointed by their Governors.  Oh… and three out of the seven are from Illinois)

Obama: "We Can't Tolerate This Anymore" - Has America Finally Reached a Tipping Point on Gun Violence?

We now know significantly more today than we did a few days ago about the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  Adam Lanza, a 20 year-old young man, shot his mother in their home multiple times until she was dead.  His mother, incidentally, was an avid gun owner and had regularly taken Adam and his brother to the shooting range in the past.  Adam then loaded up his car with a shotgun, two hand guns, 100's of rounds of ammunition, and this:

AR-15 Semi-Automatic Assault Rifle w/ 30-round clip
The weapon that you see above is the AR-15 assault rifle.  You may recall that it was the weapon of choice used by James E. Holmes when he shot 58 people (killing 12 of them) at a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado earlier this summer during the opening night of the third movie in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.  It has the capacity to carry a 60-round clip or a 100-round drum in military applications; civilians are limited to purchasing 30-round clips.  We now know that Adam Lanza loaded several such 30-round clips prior to embarking upon his rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and we also now know that even though he took a total of 4 guns with him that day he only used this weapon, the AR-15 assault rifle, to shoot his victims.

Perhaps the most horrifying yet revealing fact that we now know is this: of the 20 children and 6 teachers who were shot by Adam Lanza last Friday, every single one of them was shot multiple times. The police now tell us that each victim was shot no less than 3 times and that some individuals were even shot as many as 11 times.  The scariest part about this fact is that Lanza only needed at most 10 clips (and possibly as few as 4 clips depending on the average shots per victim) to accomplish this massacre.   

The Office Christmas Lunch/Party

This is the time of year when many corporate offices/teams have the annual Christmas party or lunch.

I hate this.

It's nothing personal of course but I would just as soon not go to lunch with most of the people I work with. And I have even less desire to attend an official "FUN" event with them. My basic outlook on work is "Let's just keep it arm's distance shall we? Mmmmm-okay". I've been told on and off the record countless times that this attitude is a personal failing that limits my upward mobility. Well that's tough. Even if I wanted to I'm not changing primal personality traits at this point in my life.

There are a number of reasons I dislike the Christmas lunch/party. I usually attend out of a baseline sense of politesse and career protection but honestly I'd rather not. Why do I feel that way?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Reviews-The Racketeer, Grimm Reapings, The Don is Dead, Detroit: Then and Now, When I left home: my story

The Racketeer
by John Grisham
It's been a while since I read a John Grisham book. There were mixed reviews on The Racketeer but I'm usually willing to give a familiar writer a chance. I liked this book. It set a pretty fast pace but it wasn't difficult reading. Like many of Grisham's previous works the protagonist is a lawyer.

In The Racketeer the hero is a black man. This is not critical to the story. People are people. IMO, Grisham gets a few very minor things wrong, like the protagonist calling/referring to his father by his first name. I've never known any black person who did that, even as an adult. Possible? Sure. Just not very likely in my neck of the woods. No sir.

Anyway, the hero, Malcolm Bannister, narrates most of the story. There are occasional switches back to third person so that the reader can learn things Bannister doesn't know yet or see events take place in Bannister's absence. Bannister is a federal convict with about five years left on his sentence. Previously he was an up and coming lawyer at a small black owned law firm. Bannister briefly did some arms length work for a shady lobbyist and was, according to him, wrongfully convicted of money laundering. Insisting on his innocence, he refused to plead to a lesser charge and was as surprised as anyone when he was convicted, given a sentence that exceeded guidelines and ultimately sent to federal prison. Bannister's wife has divorced him and remarried. His son is learning to call another man father. His own strict father visits him infrequently and seems to believe that Malcolm must be guilty because otherwise he wouldn't be in prison. He is a source of shame to his previous partners who hired him when racist white law firms threw his resumes in the trash. 

Though the ex-military Bannister is still buff enough to have avoided any unpleasant physical incidents with other inmates during brief stints in higher security jails or prisons, the fiercely intelligent man must show deference and submissiveness to dim bigoted white prison guards and wardens. This grates on Bannister. But he still has one card left to play.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Urban Beat - Breaking News: At Least 20 Children Shot by Gunman in Connecticut Elementary School


As of 1:07pm ET 26 people confirmed dead; 18 children, 8 adults.

Per CNN at 12:54pm:

(CNN) -- Two school employees died in a shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, a parent who was inside the school during the incident told CNN.
Multiple local media outlets also were reporting more than one fatality in the shooting Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Police have not confirmed those reports to CNN.
Hospital officials in neighboring Danbury said they were treating three people wounded in the shooting. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said the victims were in "very serious" condition.
The shooter is dead, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN's Susan Candiotti. The suspect's body is in a classroom at the school, the source told CNN.
The parent, who has a second-grader at the school, said she believed more than 100 rounds had been fired.
Police have recovered two weapons from the suspect, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, the source said. It's unclear if police killed the suspect.
The Newtown Bee newspaper said one child had been carried out by a police officer and emergency crews had set up triage facilities, expecting additional patients. The Hartford Courant newspaper said one victim had "numerous gunshot wounds."
Aerial images from CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey showed police officers armed with rifles following a dog into woods near the school.
Other officers, some in tactical gear, stood around the school with guns drawn, CNN affiliate WFSB reported.
A photograph published by The Newtown Bee showed teachers and police leading students out of the building across a parking lot.
One student, a third-grader, told CNN affiliate WTNH that she was sitting in her classroom when police flooded the area.
"We saw police officers and we heard them on our roof and in our building," the girl said.
Some of the children were crying, and others felt they had a stomachache, she said.
The girl's father told the station the incident was shocking.
"I was pretty shaken up," he said.
All schools in the city were on lockdown Friday as police assessed the situation, state police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said.
Students were evacuated to a nearby firehouse, the Danbury News-Times newspaper reported.
The first calls came into police around 9:40 a.m., according to media accounts.
Police scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. ET.
Newtown is about 60 miles north of New York.


Per ABC

More than a dozen people, including elementary school children, were shot and killed at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school this morning, federal and state sources tell ABC News.
A shooting involving two gunmen erupted at a Connecticut school this morning, prompting the town of Newtown to lock down all of its schools and draw SWAT teams to the school, authorities said today.
State Police confirm that one shooter is dead. A second gunman is apparently at large. Car-to-car searches are underway.
It's unclear how many people have been shot, but more than a dozen people including school children are dead, multiple federal and state sources tell ABC News.
The shooting comes just three days after masked gunman Jacob Roberts opened fire in a busy Portland, Ore., mall killing two before turning the gun on himself.
Today's shooting occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, about 12 miles east of Danbury.
Watch State Police News Conference Live at 1 p.m. at ABCNews.com
State Police received the first 911 call at 9:41a.m. and immediately began sending emergency units from the western part of the state. Initial 911 calls stated that multiple students were trapped in a classroom, possibly with a gunman, according to a Connecticut State Police source.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Breaking News:Susan Rice Withdraws from Consideration for US Secretary of State Nomination


US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Withdraws from Consideration for US Secretary of State Nomination


U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from the list of candidates for secretary of state Thursday afternoon, ending a weeks-long fight with Republicans over statements she made on television talk shows shortly after the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
In a letter to President Obama, Rice said: “I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.T he position of Secretary of State should never be politicized. . ..I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What is the Fiscal Cliff?

As explained by Thomas Kenny at About.com:

The Fiscal Cliff Explained
“Fiscal cliff” is the popular shorthand term used to describe the conundrum that the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect.

Among the laws set to change at midnight on December 31, 2012, are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts (resulting in a 2% tax increase for workers), the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, shifts in the alternative minimum tax that would take a larger bite, the end of the tax cuts from 2001-2003, and the beginning of taxes related to President Obama’s health care law. At the same time, the spending cuts agreed upon as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011 will begin to go into effect. According to Barron's, over 1,000 government programs - including the defense budget and Medicare are in line for "deep, automatic cuts."

In dealing with the fiscal cliff, U.S. lawmakers have a choice among three options, none of which are particularly attractive:

•They can let the current policy scheduled for the beginning of 2013 – which features a number of tax increases and spending cuts that are expected to weigh heavily on growth and possibly drive the economy back into a recession – go into effect. The plus side: the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, would be cut in half.

•They can cancel some or all of the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts, which would add to the deficit and increase the odds that the United States could face a crisis similar to that which is occurring in Europe. The flip side of this, of course, is that the United States' debt will continue to grow.

•They could take a middle course, opting for an approach that would address the budget issues to a limited extent, but that would have a more modest impact on growth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michigan: Right to Work State?

My home state of Michigan is in many ways ground zero of the modern industrial labor union movement. Even as unions have lost ground nationwide and been all but outlawed in the South, unions in Michigan have persevered even though they have but a shadow of their former strength and militancy. Roughly 18% of Michigan workers belong to a union. In some respects the union movement is on life support. But if there's one thing the Republican establishment agrees on it's dislike of unions. So the Republican dominated House and Senate passed bills that would establish Michigan as a "right to work" state. Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who had previously cast himself as a moderate technocrat and said that he thought such legislation was divisive and not very useful to the Michigan population, has done a 180 and said that he could sign the measures into law as early as today.

So what brought us to this point? Well a lot of different things actually. You can't just point to one item. There has always been a struggle between labor and capital simply because the interests are different. If capital could go back to the bad old days of the 1920s or before when they had no unions, compliant politicians, non-existent worker protections and virtual immunity from legal consequences they would do so. If labor could get back to the 1950s when they had strong large popular unions they would do that as well. But the proximate cause of this fight is strangely enough not something in Michigan at all. Michigan unions, and their supporters, deeply worried about labor rights in the wake of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's successful trimming of labor protections in his state, backed an amendment to Michigan's Constitution. This Proposal 2 would have enshrined labor rights in the Constitution by guaranteeing public and private sector employees the right to organize and collectively bargain for wages and benefits. This was decisively rejected at the polls.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fat Women in Stockton Offended at Being Called Fat

Obesity is a serious societal problem that is rising in America. All else equal, being morbidly obese puts you at higher risks for a number of life threatening diseases and conditions including but not limited to Type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, higher infant mortality rates and cardiac disease. I've seen obesity and related illnesses kill people that I cared deeply about. So it's no joke. The unpleasant fact about obesity is that you can't hide it. Well you can hide it for a while with different types of clothing or a really good tailor, but generally speaking if you're really fat, everyone knows it. This is not necessarily the case if you happen to have an extremely bad temper, are a sexually jealous paranoid, are a horrible spendthrift,  are incredibly bossy, are a stone cold bigot, are as lazy as can be, have an allergy to sexual fidelity, are dumber than a box of dirt or have other ugly internal personal flaws that may only become apparent over time to people who know you intimately. You can cover up those things from the general public. But, if you're WAY past a BMI of 35 or so that's immediately evident to everyone who sees you. People will judge. And many people will make unpleasant judgments about your willpower, sex appeal, health and ambition.
There are all sorts of reasons which might explain why you're so heavy but the mechanics are very simple. You're eating too much and not exercising enough. You're storing the excess as fat. End of story.

Should Cory Booker Seek a Higher Office?

We all knew this day would come, sooner or later. Talks of Newark Mayor Cory Booker exercising his political ambition, and seeking a higher office. Cory Booker is perhaps my most favorite politician. He's my favorite because he is not perfect, and forces me to flex my brain power when analyzing his political moves and positions on certain issues. He makes me happy and pisses me off. I've spoken favorable about him here and criticized him here. However, at this point my opinion or thoughts probably don't mean squat, because I live in New York City and am not a resident of Newark or the State of New Jersey. Even though New York and New Jersey like to interject themselves into the issues and politics of each others state, an intelligent argument about Mayor Booker's moving forward in politics, must come from the people who know him best and will be most effected by his decisions regardless of what political path that he takes -- the residents of Newark and the people of the State of New Jersey. So, I am going to sit this one out, hopefully guide the conversation and ask that you, the great people of New Jersey weigh in and let your voices be heard. 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Music Reviews-Felix and Jarvis, Mingus: Blues and Roots, Van Halen: 1984, Steely Dan, David Ware, Mickey Baker

Felix and Jarvis
There was a glorious time back in the post-disco early eighties in which people didn't care about what you called music, they just wanted to dance. Disco had temporarily spent itself; hard rock had gotten flabby and soft; funk had lost its way but new wave and rap were just getting started. Out of Detroit, came a group that combined elements of all of the above and then some. That group was Felix and Jarvis.

I don't know much about Felix and Jarvis other than they started out as either dancers or producers for The Scene. The Scene was a mid seventies to mid eighties Detroit dance show that everybody in Detroit watched in order to know all the latest dances and styles.  Along with local DJ's like The Electrifying Mojo, The Scene was instrumental in helping to introduce Detroit to then unknown people like Prince or The Time. The Scene was a little raunchy for the times but certainly not compared to what goes on today. About the worst thing ever heard on The Scene was the signoff line "Sugar is sugar and salt is salt / If you didn't get off it's not our fault!".

Detroit humor.

Anyway I mention Felix and Jarvis because for the longest time I had been trying to find a song they they did. However I had of course forgotten they they were the group that did the song. Completely out of the blue a cousin of mine put a selection from Felix and Jarvis on his FB page, not even knowing I was looking for a song. That jogged my decaying brain cells and all sorts of fun music memories came flooding back.

As mentioned you could call Felix and Jarvis' music electro-funk or rap or proto-House or rock-n-roll or new-wave or whatever you wanted. It was always danceable though no matter what you called it.
The song I was looking for was Make it Rise. The lyrics "...you know I'm not that kind of girl/There's part of me that wants to get down but my mama told me to keep my feet on the ground" always make me smile. Felix and Jarvis also did Flamethrower Rap Flamethrower Rap (Live at The Scene) Jam the House and Bounce.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Urban Beat Breaking News - Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.7%, November Adds 146,000 Jobs


Per CNBC:


The U.S. economy created 146,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate slid to 7.7 percent, in a report much better than economists had expected.
Though most on Wall Street expected Superstorm Sandy to tamp down job growth, the Labor Department said the late-October storm that decimated the East Coast actually had little effect.
The government said the storm's effects might be more accurately gauged in next months' report.
Overall, the report was well ahead of expectations of about 93,000 new jobs, but internally the report showed considerable weakness. 
"It's good news against expectations, but that's about it," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research.
The numbers had some puzzling contradictions, particularly in the assertion that Sandy "did not substantively impact" the jobs count for November, and in substantial downward revisions from previous months.
Also, the drop in the unemployment rate appeared to reflect little more than a continued exodus of workers from the labor force.
The labor force participation rate, already around 30-year lows, fell further in the month to 63.6 percent. That represented 350,000 fewer workers.
In all, there were a net 122,000 fewer people with jobs.
An alternative measure of unemployment, which counts those who have given up looking for jobs as well as those working part-time for economic reasons, also edged lower to 14.4 percent.
"Same old, same old. The government managed to get the unemployment rate down by shrinking the labor force and convincing a lot of people they're better off collecting unemployment benefits or living off welfare than working," said Peter Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital. "It's more bogus government numbers."
Economists had been expecting a gain of 93,000 in nonfarm payrolls and a steadying of the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, though estimates varied widely. 
Deutsche Bank's Joseph LaVorgna, for instance, forecast a gain of just 25,000 positions, due in large part to residual effects from Sandy. 
Market reserach firm TrimTabs, conversely, projected 202,000 new jobs, though it expected the government's count to be lower.
Previous month's employment gains also were lowered through revisions.
The Labor Department's initial report for October showed a gain of 171,000 jobs, but now is listed at 138,000. The September gain of 148,000 was taken down to 132,000.
Much of the November gains came in retail, which added 53,000, while professional services grew 43,000.
The closely watched construction industry, however, lost 20,000 jobs, while manufacturing was flat.
"The momentum in hiring we thought we saw after October failed to materialize in November. Sixth percent of the job gains were in retail, health care and amusement - gambling or recreation," Blitz said. "When I add it all up I get more of the same."

Trucks, Carbon Taxes and Global Warming

There have been a few unfortunate financial setbacks of late but nevertheless if all goes according to Evil Overlord plan I intend to purchase a new vehicle in the next few months. And the vehicle won't be a hybrid. It won't be a small car. It won't be an electric car. It will probably be a large American truck that MIGHT get 18-23 MPG on a good day. Dedicated environmentalists may gnash their teeth and cut sharp looks at me but on this issue I don't care. I want what I want and I'm not interested in other people's opinions on the matter. I drive a minimum 50 mile daily commute, sometimes more, and I would like to do so in a vehicle that is large, safe, comfortable and actually has some extras that I like. If the rest of you want to drive Priuses that is just fine with me but don't expect to see me in one. And someday soon when I get real money then I would ditch the modern truck and get a gas guzzling classic car from the 40s to 70s period. But that's just me-frustrated lowrider and occasional blogger.

If you haven't noticed from the ridiculously mild winter we've been having so far in the US there is a serious problem with human caused climate change.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest Post: Conservative Black Chick Ironically Plays Race Card to Explain Obama's Re-Election


Today's guest post comes to us from Political and Communications Consultant Katrina L. Rogers.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below:

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“[Barack Obama] got reelected only cuz of his race. People felt sorry 4 black man.” This is how Black Republican Crystal Wright of the blog ConservativeBlackChick.com (a former guest on The Urban Politico's October 14, 2012 radio show "That's What's UP"), explained this year’s presidential election. Since November 6, I’ve heard so many ridiculous reasons for Obama’s re-election, but I think this one tops the list.

We all know the Romney story: from trust fund to riches. Romney, who could never make a solid connection with voters -- because he never really knew where he stood, on anything -- was the Republican left standing in a pool of candidates who excelled in not getting “it.”  But let’s be real for a second - President Obama was re-elected for a number of reasons, and not one of them is because people felt sorry for the Black man. Seriously. Almost 64 million people voted for Barack Obama because they felt for the Black guy? Word?

What’s even more interesting is the day after Election Day, Wright (also known by her Twitter handle GOP Black Chick) penned an essay pointing out reasons for the GOP's failures. Most of them addressed the party being out of touch and refusing to acknowledge a national constituency that more and more does not look like our nation’s founders.

In her piece entitled "Republicans Got the Shellacking We Deserve," Wright points out that the Republican National Committee was not interested in investing in Black voter outreach. She calls the party’s thinking "backward" and points out how it does not even have so much as one Black person working in its Communications department.

The thing I find most endearing and fascinating about many Black Republicans is their willingness to race-bait. There’s sheer irony in a Black Republican saying Obama got on due to his race when it’s not far-fetched to think that Black tokenism played a significant role in their own success of being a novelty in politics. In fact, that's exactly how Wright markets herself.

If we’re honest with each other, we can say Barack Obama was re-elected despite of his race, not because of it. He will serve four more years even though so many were dedicated to “putting the 'white' back in White House.” (Have you ever been to a Tea Party rally? It’s not just about taxes.)

Wright’s delusional tweet falls right in line with the Republicans' on-going game of “let’s see who can say the craziest stuff and keep a straight face.” And, to be fair, the rest of the tweet reads “& #gop ran weak candidate.” Because no matter the number of things we see differently, we can all agree that Romney was a horrible candidate for the GOP, but a great one for Obama supporters.

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It should be noted that The Urban Politico contacted Conservative Black Chick for comment, but she declined.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lately I've Been Pretty Uninspired...How About You?


Although that's not me on the floor, it might as well be.  You may have noticed an overabundance of nonsense in the news lately.  Bengahzi this.  Fiscal cliff that.  It's as if they've run out of things to talk about since the election and now they overemphasize everything 24/7 in order to make up for it.  If I have to hear one more person speculate about whether we're going to go over the so-called "fiscal cliff" or whether Susan Rice purposely misled the American people I'm going to throw my TV out of the window.  On second thought, I love my flat screen too much to sacrifice it over this BS so scratch that.  Lately, I've just been leaving the TV off when I come home after work (unless, of course, I'm catching up on Boardwalk Empire or Homeland). I don't even want to hear what these fools have to say anymore.  These topics bore me.  They bore me because they're made up.  Fabricated BS so that cable news pundits can put on a suit and a tie and have a job and feel important.  Let me tell you something, news pundits and self-proclaimed "political strategists": you're not important.  You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

By the way, "political strategists"?  Who came up with that crap?  I love that term, don't you?  It's the most made up term on television.  Sort of like calling a Janitor a "custodial engineer."  You're not a political strategist.  Getthefuckoutahere.  No politicians out there are consulting with you for strategic purposes.  You offer no value.  To anything.  At all.  Get off my TV.

Oh wait I forgot, my TV is turned off because of you so nevermind.  Carry on with your political strategizing and whatnot.  Very important work I'm sure.

Well, don't worry.  I'm not going to do what you all think I'm going to do, which is FLIP OUT!  I'm not gonna take any fish with me on the way out the door.  No, in fact, despite my overwhelming and palpable sense of being uninspired by the news lately, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay right here and wait for something of substance to come along that is worthy of discussion. Until then, the Janitor is on strike!

How about you guys?  How do you feel about the news lately?  
Have you been tuned out since the election?
What do you do when you're not watching the news?
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

HBO Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Finale

I haven't discussed HBO's Boardwalk Empire on the blog very much nor have I written any recaps. Recaps take a lot of time to write and edit before the next morning so I'd rather save that energy for when Game of Thrones starts up again on March 31, 2013 (if you haven't heard me mention that 10,000 times already).
But Boardwalk Empire is nevertheless a favorite show and one that you should check out. I'm not sure yet if I will write reviews of previous seasons. On Sunday, December 2, HBO aired the season 3 finale. This saw a tidying up of quite a few different storylines but also left a few things open and unresolved for future seasons.

So what's this series about? A lot of different things actually. The dominant thread is actually the quintessentially American spirit of making money and not looking too closely at how that money is earned. On the simplest level Boardwalk Empire tells the story of 1920's Prohibition and its impact on a variety of people in three cities-Atlantic City, New York and Chicago. Enoch "Nucky" Johnson was a real life Atlantic City, New Jersey political leader, who despite avoiding more prominent elected roles, was understood by everyone to be the political boss of New Jersey and the man to see if you wanted to get business done, legal or illegal. Johnson was a corrupt facilitator of bootlegging and somewhat "half-a gangster". There is no evidence he ever murdered anyone or ordered anyone's murder, though he certainly rubbed shoulders with men who did.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Politics and Sports are Off Limits: Bob Costas Under Fire for Gun Control Remarks

By now you've probably heard about the horrific murder-suicide that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning which involved Kansas City Chief starting linebacker, Jovan Belcher. Belcher murdered his girlfriend and mother of his 3-month old daugter, Kasandra M. Perkins  Belcher then proceeded to drive to the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility where he thanked his coach and general manager, Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli, and then shot himself in the head in front of them. 

The tragic event sent shock waves throughout the sports community, especially Kansas City. Emotions were still running on level 10 as the Chiefs resumed business as usual and went head to head with the North Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon. The Chief's beat the Panthers 27-21. 


Apparently, this didn't sit well with NBC Sunday Night Football host Bob Costas. 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

That's What's UP: Join us at 5PM (ET) for Our Weekly Radio Show


Join us Sunday, December 2 at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Movie Reviews-Lawless, Take the Money and Run, Game of Thrones S2: Making Histories

Lawless
directed by John Hillcoat
I wanted to like this movie a bit more than I did. It was entertaining but there was just a little missing. I'm not quite sure what. It hit all the right notes, period clothing, taciturn roughnecks with hearts of gold, brutal gangsters and equally brutal lawmen, and of course loyal fallen angel babes that are eager to offer their honor to previously mentioned taciturn roughnecks.

I think I just couldn't buy Shia LaBoeuf in his role. But that was a personal issue I guess. Anyway Lawless is based on the real life adventures of the Bondurant Brothers, Virginia bootleggers during Prohibition. They are based in Franklin County, Virginia, also known as the "wettest county in the world" because literally everyone and their mama is cooking moonshine. Moonshine is the country business. The Bondurants are perhaps first among moonshiners but this isn't really explained how and I guess it's not that important. There are three Bondurants.

The oldest brother is Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy, Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) a man of few words, deep thoughts and quick fists who is rumored to be indestructible on account of having survived not only some horrible battles in World War I but also the Spanish Flu of 1919 upon his return. You don't want to get on Forrest's bad side as there are several stories of his fearsome capacity for violence. He'll take you places you don't want to go. But he's a fair dealing man. His word is bond and he's no bully. The middle brother is Howard Bondurant (Jason Clarke), who is even bigger than Forrest and faster with his fists though he's not quite as mentally sharp.
Finally there's kid brother Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBoeuf) Obviously Jack is the center of the story. He's not allowed to go on moonshine runs by himself and his brothers take pains to distance Jack from any violence. There is a flashback of a young Jack being unwilling to kill a pig for dinner. His brothers don't think he's got the grit for deeper involvement in the business. Like Michael in The Wire Jack is the small puppy with big paws that strains against the unfair rules and rough guidance that he gets from his older brothers.