Sunday, June 30, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour


That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, June 30th at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.

  • Edward Snowden Drama
  • Immigration Reform
  • SCOTUS 
    • DOMA
    • Prop 8
    • VRA



Listen Live Online HERE 

Or Call In to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Movie Reviews-Compulsion, Snitch

Compulsion
directed by Egidio Coccimiglio
This weird sad little indie film is a remake of the South Korean film 301, 302. It stars Heather Graham, Carrie Anne Moss, Joe Mantegna and Kevin Dillon. It's something of a mix between a thriller, horror film and parody, although I'm not quite sure what it's parodying. As you might surmise from the cover Graham is seen in really tight form fitting cleavage bearing clothing complete with heels and stockings throughout the entire film. 

Amy (Graham) is an evidently independently wealthy dilettante whose primary indulgence is food. I don't mean just eating it. I mean creating it. She's right up there with Hannibal Lector in her obsession with choosing the exact right amount and type of food for her exquisite palate. She never eats out. She strongly prefers to do all of the cooking for herself and her businessman fiancee Fred (Kevin Dillon). Amy intends to be a television chef someday and may be working towards that goal. Or she may just be delusional. In any event Amy loves to cook. Unfortunately she also loves appreciation for her cooking. I mean a LOT of appreciation. She is one of those annoying people who will do something nice for you and then ask you over and over and over and over again if you appreciated it, how much did you appreciate it, did you appreciate it more than the last time she did it and so on. Food and sex are very connected for Amy. She can almost go to the Promised Land so to speak just from inhaling the aroma of the food she creates. The flip side of this is that even when she's engaged in intimate activities with Fred, anything that is even a little bit off about her food or the appreciation she craves can quickly ruin her mood and shut things down. Amy's constant hectoring of Fred for compliments and feedback gets on Fred's nerves. He starts looking for outside nookie and almost as unforgivably from Amy's POV, outside (fast) food.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Honor and Pride in The Godfather and A Game of Thrones

The patriarchs of both the Corleone and Stark families make some very critical mistakes which bring each of their families to the brink of utter and complete destruction. Neither of them realizes that their world has changed in some very fundamental ways since they ascended to leadership. Therefore each leader is a little too secure in his authority and doesn't realize quickly enough that other people are playing by a different set of rules.

Ned Stark doesn't recognize that Queen Cersei or the relatively low-born Littlefinger can actually be threats. So he, from misguided mercy and possibly benevolent sexism, informs Cersei that he knows her secret and intends to act against her, never imagining that she will dare to harm him or the king, in order to keep her incest, adultery and cuckoldry secret. Ned makes his disgust with Littlefinger clear and contemptuously refuses to take or even pretend to consider Littlefinger's advice. Ned states that he will act in a manner which is clearly opposed to Littlefinger's best interests. He is nonetheless quite shocked that both Littlefinger and Cersei act in ways which, while dishonorable and underhanded, advance their own interests to Ned's fatal cost. Ned's pride in his status as Hand of the King, Warden of the North, and Lord of the oldest House makes him blind to the fact that he has a very weak position in King's Landing, especially after Robert's death. Ned has a very rigid stance on honor and rectitude, one that he's unwilling to part with even at the cost of his own life.  By the time he is willing to shelve his honor and perhaps even regret his extension of mercy to Cersei it's too late to save his life or spare his daughters from some very hard times indeed.  Ned thought people should have obeyed him because it was the right thing to do. That may have been true but in Ned's world and ours getting people to do the right thing may require an application of force, a realistic threat of the same and an appreciation of other people's self-interest. Ned lacked all of that.



Paula Deen and her defenders

I think just about everything that can be said on the Paula Deen situation has been said already and I don't have a whole lot to add except for the following.
There seems to be some misunderstanding about what "free speech" is. All free speech means is that you have the right to say what you want or think what you want without being jailed or sued or fined by the federal or state or municipal governments. Of course I am sure some intelligent reader or lawyer can find a few exceptions as there are exceptions to almost everything but no prior restraint on speech is the essence of the First Amendment.

And if you've read this blog for any period of time you know that I am a stickler for abiding by the letter and the spirit of the Bill of Rights. It's important to remember however that the First Amendment is a restriction on the ability of governments to stop you from saying something or punishing you if you do. It says absolutely nothing however, about the ability of other citizens to criticize what you say or for private businesses or organizations to decide that they'd rather not be associated with you or set rules for their partners or employees.

The Real Tragedy of Rachel Jeantel: Education

OK let's get the obvious out of the way up front: Rachel Jeantel was not a great witness for the prosecution.  Before we expand on this point, it's important to observe a few other facts about Rachel Jeantel.  First, she did not ask to be put into this tough situation.  Second, she was the last person to talk to Trayvon Martin (other than George Zimmerman) before Trayvon was killed, a fact that would weigh heavy on any of us.  Third, it is undoubtedly uncomfortable (to say the least) to be seated in the same room with the man who killed your friend.  And lastly, lest we forget, the girl is only 19 years-old.  So she can certainly be afforded some slack here.  Nevertheless, there is a serious problem underlying her poor performance in the courtroom this week which is common to not only Rachel Jeantel but to millions of Black youth all over the country: too many of our youth think it is cool to be uneducated.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Senate Passes Immigration Bill 68 - 32. Your move Boehner!


The U.S. Senate passed their version of immigration reform today, 68 - 32 (with 14 Republicans voting for the bill).  While this is a good step in the right direction and ultimately will do some good, there are some poison apple items in the Senate bill.  However, the bigger issue is waiting and watching the House to see how they handle this issue.  There traditional bullshit won't work on THIS issue.  You can't use "Obama isn't leading" or "The Senate must make the first move, it's their fault" or "This isn't a bi-partisan issue..."  Nope.  No more hiding.  Everyone will see you for the party you are (or want to be - looking at you Reince).  Everyone will see through the spin, past the hyperbole, and over the extreme right wing rhetoric.  It is just you and a decision (minus a few tweaks here or there).

The Senate bill in a nutshell:
  • Unauthorized immigrants can apply for a green card in 10 years and U.S. citizenship 3 years later AFTER they:
    • pass a criminal background check
    • pay a fine and outstanding back taxes
    • maintain a clean record
    • and have a job
  • Government spend $30 billion to DOUBLE the size of Border Patrol to nearly 40,000 agents (poison pill #1) and another $8 billion on drones, helicopters, airplanes and surveillance technology to monitor 2,000-mile border between U.S. and Mexico. (Poison Apple: The near $40 billion from the same folks that cut defense by $42.7 billion with sequestration.  Also, the budget and size of the Border Patrol could be more than that of the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service, and ICE COMBINED - with room to spare!  I guess we can see where the priorities are... crime and punishment or keeping Mexicans out... you tell me.)
  • Expand E-Verify program nationwide, requiring all U.S. business owners to use it to check the immigration status of all new hires within four yours (yes, that means YOU too!).
  • Introduce Biometrics to "monitor" foreigners leaving the country and those who've stayed past their visas (poison pill two: this will require MORE money for the agencies that need to update their software)
  • Issue temporary visas for those trained in science, technology, engineering and math.  In addition to creating a NEW type of visa for those working in lower-skilled jobs (construction, retail, hospitality, etc.)  (poison pill #3 - get ready for some leaders in the Black community to take issue with "losing jobs.")


Well, whatcha gonna do NOW Boehner? You either give two shits are you don't.  Either way, the truth will come out.  It appears as if the fate of your party is in the hands of Boehner and the House Republicans.  Good luck!




Will the House Republicans pass an immigration bill?
Why or why not?
If they do/don't, what is the potential benefit/fallout?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA but Punts on Same-Sex Marriage Due to Lack of Standing

The Supreme Court ruled today in the case of United States v. Windsor (for background on this case click HERE) that the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") which denied federal benefits to same-sex married couples is unconstitutional.  Similar to yesterday's ruling on the Voting Rights Act, the Court's decision today was split down ideological lines by a 5-4 vote. Only this time, Justice Kennedy (aka the "swing" voter) sided with the progressive Justices of the Court (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) to strike down DOMA on 5th Amendment Due Process/Equal Protection grounds (which we have blogged about HERE and HERE).
Also today, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry (for background on this case click HERE) that the issue of whether states can ban same-sex marriage could not be decided by the Supreme Court due to lack of standing in this particular case.  [EDITOR'S NOTE: we predicted the lack of standing issue HERE back in March].  In an ideologically mixed 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts (a conservative), joined by Justices Scalia (a conservative), Ginsburg (a liberal), Breyer (a liberal) and Kagan (a liberal) (who could have foreseen that line up???) ruled that the group who was responsible for putting California's Prop 8 on the ballot (a sate law which banned same-sex marriages in California) did not have proper standing to argue the state law on the state's behalf.  That responsibility, according to the Court, remains with the state itself.  And since the State of California refused to defend Prop 8 in court, there was no standing in this case.

Our break down of each case after the jump:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of the Voting Rights Act


In the case of Shelby County v. Holder (for background on this case click HERE), the Supreme Court ruled today that times are a changin' with respect to racial discrimination.  The 5-4 majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts split down ideological lines over whether states with a history of discrimination must continue to get permission from the federal government before they will be allowed to change any aspect of their voting laws.  As you may recall during this most recent 2012 Presidential election, the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), led by Attorney General Eric Holder, was able to block South Carolina's attempt to implement a voter ID law which would have prevented many Blacks from casting their ballots. That is just one example of how the DOJ is able to use Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in order to stop states from discriminating against voters on the basis of race.  But according to today's ruling, the formula contained in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (a formula which allows the federal government to determine which states must get permission and which states don't) is outdated and needs to be replaced by Congress.  We break down today's decision and what it means for the future of the Voting Rights Act after the jump.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Supreme Court Passes the Buck on Affirmative Action Back Down to the Appeals Court

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been waiting since October's oral argument for the Supreme Court to actually make a ruling on the merits as to whether or not affirmative action in college admissions is Constitutional and today we are no closer to that ruling than we were 9 months ago.  In a 7 to 1 majority opinion written by the "swing" Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ("5th Circuit") did not apply the correct test when it decided to uphold the University of Texas' use of affirmative action in the case Fisher v. University of Texas (click HERE and HERE for more background on the case).  Accordingly, the Supreme Court has remanded the case back to the 5th Circuit with specific instructions on how to apply the test properly.  The lone dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argues that the 5th Circuit actually did apply the proper test when deciding this case, therefore there's no need for the Supreme Court to kick this case back down to the 5th Circuit.

So what is the proper test and what does all of this mean for affirmative action?  We'll get into all of that after the jump:

Breaking News- Bobby Bland Dies

Bobby "Blue " Bland, who was one of the greatest singers all of time, just passed away at 83. Although he was primarily known as a "blues" singer, his singular style encompassed everything from soul, jazz, blues, funk and gospel , rock-n-roll, and occasionally a little country.  He was one of my favorite singers. I wrote on him here.  I first discovered his music when I was a young teen. It was miles apart from Muddy Waters or Jimi Hendrix which is what I was into at the time so I didn't pay him a lot of mind. It wasn't until I had grown up a bit, gone through some heartbreak of my own and gotten some bass in my voice that I went back to my parents' Bobby Bland records and really listened. I think I also got interested in his music when I learned that he was tight with BB King, who I've always been crazy about. In any event, he's passed on to his ancestors and left a lot of good music behind. In a lot of aspects Bobby Bland was the epitome of cool to me, along with people like Johnny Hartmann, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding. He could scream if he had to but his crooning baritone voice was something I loved listening to and always tried to emulate. He showed that even in music that was called "blues" there were just a million and one different styles, sounds and approaches. If you weren't hip to him shame on you because you missed out but his music lives on.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

That's What's UP - No Show Today


That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Sorry family, there's no show today (Sunday, June 23rd (ET).

Please join us next week, June 30th, as we pick right up where we left off.

Thanks
The UP!

Why George Zimmerman Will Be Acquitted

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin the night of February 26, 2012. However, whether or not he will be punished for that killing on the charge of second degree murder is a totally different story.

I'm not an attorney so I will save the explicit legal reasoning of why I think Zimmerman will be acquitted to our resident attorneys if they have such an opinion. What I am is a legal resident in the state of Florida working in the media on this high profile case.

With six women, five White and one Black or Hispanic deciding the fate of one man who's already admitted to killing 17-year-old Martin the verdict can go either way.

There are nearly 20 million people in the state of Florida. More than one million of those people have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and the Stand Your Ground Law makes that permit a license to kill. As has been discussed in the 16 months leading up to this trial is that under the Stand Your Ground law there is no duty to retreat. If you feel fatally threatened or are witness to a crime you can use deadly force to protect yourself, thus standing your ground. The fact George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor matters not.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Movie Reviews-Hangin' With The Homeboys, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Hanging With the Homeboys
directed by Joseph B. Vasquez.
Joseph B. Vasquez was a Latino/Black filmmaker from The Bronx.
This 1991 film travels similar ground as Diner, Swingers, American Graffiti and maybe even Cooley High.  It didn't make as big of a cultural (or financial??) splash as any of those movies did but it did feature some actors who would later become relatively well known and in Leguizamo's case arguably a star. It details the adventures of four black and brown New York men in their late teens/early twenties, who on a Friday night like any other go hangout together as they normally do. They're just looking to have some fun, enjoy each other's company and perhaps meet some interesting people of the opposite gender. However this night is for some reason different. Change is upon the young men though not all of them realize it. Just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong on this night.
All four men are either versions of Vasquez at some point in his life, interpretations of Vasquez as other people saw him or based in part on Vasquez's close friends. It's amazing rewatching this movie to realize how young these actors were at the time and how old I am now. Time flies. It's also a shame that Vasquez died of AIDS from drug addiction a few years after this film was released. Black and Hispanic American film would have been much richer had he survived. His death was also bitterly ironic as both of his parents were drug addicts who met in recovery programs.

In some aspects this film has a very theater like or stage feel as the four men get close to 90% of the film lines and the camera stays very tight on them throughout the movie. They are quite well developed characters. All four of them are different people but with enough complementary similarities to hang out together at least once a week. But their friendships undergo some strains and by the end of the movie at least two of the men are entering new stages of life.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Supreme Court Gearing Up For Landmark Decisions

The Supreme Court again passed on the opportunity to hand down several highly anticipated decisions today which were argued during the Fall Term.  Typically any cases that were heard during the fall term will be issued before the end of June.  The Court issues its decisions on Mondays and Thursdays, leaving just Monday the 24th and Thursday the 27th in order to hand down the following:


AFFIRMATIVE ACTION - The Court will decide Fisher v. University of Texas which will decide whether state colleges and universities can consider race as one of several admissions criteria (we have written on this case HERE and HERE).

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE - The Court will decide Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.  Hollingsworth will decide the fundamental issue of whether states can ban same-sex marriage.  Windsor will decide whether the federal DOMA law which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples is constitutional. (we have written on these two cases HERE and HERE).

VOTING RIGHTS ACT - The Court will decide Shelby County v. Holder which will decide whether the "preclearance" section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- a section which requires certain states with a history of racially biased voting laws to seek permission from the federal government before they can change their voting laws -- is constitutional.  (we have written about this case HERE).


Care to give us your predictions on these 4 landmark cases?




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

AMA Recognizes Obesity as a Disease

To the two folks that read my rant yesterday, this may be slightly weird, and I'd agree.  I as soon as I read this I developed a slight case a remorse...  I know all to well the issues that come with poor nutrition, I just had to vent in the moment.  I'm back now...

I've had similar conversations among my friends and colleagues on other issues.  So I thought I'd put it out for us to discuss.  I believe there's a lot (good and bad) that will come from this.

Read AMA decision here

From New York Times:

The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments.
In making the decision, delegates at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago overrode a recommendation against doing so by a committee that had studied the matter. 

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” Dr. Patrice Harris, a member of the association’s board, said in a statement. She suggested the new definition would help in the fight against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are linked to obesity. 
 
To some extent, the question of whether obesity is a disease or not is a semantic one, since there is not even a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes a disease. And the A.M.A.’s decision has no legal authority. (Read the rest here)

I would say "weigh in with your comments below" but the Janitor would boo me...

But I am interested in your thoughts.

Is this a good thing?
Is this a bad thing?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fed_UP Rant: The Meaning of Life??? Without Food!

First and foremost, I understand that healthy eating is very important and shouldn't be taken lightly.  But I felt compelled to write down my first thoughts in response to some articles I read today.  However, we have FAR more sensible posts on the importance of health on our site.  Here is a guest post done by one of our wonderful followers, MollyAnn64. Here is another by our own Grand Central.  Both provide important facts and insight to the importance of health eating.

Now, if you'd just give me one moment to rant...these were my firsts thoughts after reading some articles on "bad food"...

What is the meaning of life...without good food???

Or, more specifically: Is a life without the things you enjoy a life worth living?  I don't know?  And, as much as I'd like to be, I'm really not that profound.  I just REALLY love food.  I really do!!!  So few pleasures in life, and of those, most are bad for you.  Why is that?  I give up!  It's over.  Of course, like most, I think living longer is a good thing.  But, if I can't even have a steak - medium rare with extra char - then, is it worth it?

Detroit's Last Stand?

You're surrounded and running low on ammo. You're outnumbered at least 20-1. The cavalry tried to come to your rescue but they all got mowed down in a hail of machine gun fire. Your erstwhile allies are the ones who set you up for what's turned into a massacre. Most of your best soldiers are dead or dying. You and your remaining ride or die loyalists are badly wounded and probably won't make it through the night. Your troops are telling each other "It's been an honor serving with you" and "See you on the other side". Your enemies are really not all that interested in accepting your surrender. Even if they were your pride certainly wouldn't allow you to stoop to offer it. In short there's nothing for it left but to ante up and kick in. You'll live on in stories. You drive into that roadblock. You go out hard and take as many of the SOB's with you as you can in a Bolivian Army ending.

That's the way it is in movies of course. Film often imitates real life. I haven't written about it for a while but my home city of Detroit is pretty much at that point. If you hadn't heard Detroit is under the control of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointee Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who over the last week released his reports on Detroit's dire financial situation as well as some of his plans to potentially avoid bankruptcy, which he is publicly willing to state is a 50/50 proposition. Looking at some of the numbers I think that if Orr is okay with revealing that bankruptcy is that likely, I think it's even likelier than that.

There is much more to come in future detailed breakout meetings with union leadership, pension boards and creditors but the major takeaways from Mr. Orr's plan included:
  • Immediate cessation of debt payments, starting with a $39 million payment that was due Friday. (This already happened)
  • Some unsecured creditors receiving as little as 10 cents on the dollar after all is said and done.
  • Unspecified reductions in pension payments for current retirees and reductions in planned future pension payments for current workers.
  • Reductions and/or eliminations of health care benefits for current workers and retirees.
  • Removal of the city water department (which serves much of SE Michigan) from city authority and transfer to a regional (suburban) authority which would make unspecified payments to the city.
  • Lower income and property taxes (which are generally already at the statutory maximum) in order to try to attract people back to the city
  • Lease Belle Isle (a roughly 1000 acre park in the Detroit River) to the state. City Council previously refused to do this.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour


That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, June 16th at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.





Listen Live Online HERE 

Or Call In to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Movie Reviews-The Purge, Parker, Luther Season One

The Purge
directed by James DeMonaco
I was born in, well never mind, but fortunately I missed the more explicit and violent eruptions of racism. One of my parents grew up under Southern segregation. Earlier generations had to watch their step very carefully because at any second the white Americans they lived around could with virtual impunity harm them or start a pogrom, riot or lynching. Law enforcement and the justice system would usually ignore any crimes committed against black people. Such actions weren't uncommon from the 1880s through the 1940s and only subsided recently, historically speaking. I tend to be a vibrant - some would say tiresome - defender of the right to keep and bear arms because of this history. But today the greatest danger doesn't come from a majority tyrannizing a despised minority but rather from individual criminals of all races, who, filled with self-hate, anger or greed don't mind taking their frustrations out on each other and any law abiding citizen, regardless of race, who either has something that they want or is unlucky enough to take a wrong turn in a bad neighborhood. If you ever read the comments on any Yahoo news story featuring a black subject, you will realize that the sort of eliminationist and supremacist rhetoric that  was once openly expressed in American society hasn't left. It's just not publicly acceptable. But if some had their way, we'd have death camps for criminals, particularly non-white ones. 

The Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson argued in his book Rituals of Blood, that the various atrocities which black people once endured had almost religious sacrificial overtones for the white racist community. Socially sanctioned violence gave them unity and provided a societal scapegoat. This was also true of the Jewish community in German and European society. Without such scapegoats, the majority society would turn on itself. Believe it or not this reasoning is not as far fetched as you might think. In a book I recently reviewed, The State of Jones, a postbellum southern white politician made a serious argument that without the ability to use black women as concubines, prostitutes or rape victims, white men would be forced to slake their lusts on white women, thus leading to more white prostitution, which would be a bad thing.



Friday, June 14, 2013

A Modest Proposal

But my assessment and my team's assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content, that on net, it was worth us doing. 

Some other folks may have a different assessment of that, but I think it's important to recognize that you can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy, and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society.

President Barack Obama
As you can see the President thinks his Administration's actions are modest and worth doing. How soothing. He just forgot to inform us about his actions. I'm sure that was a minor mistake. In the manner of Jonathan Swift, Dear Readers, I also would like to submit a modest proposal to solve the vexing problem of danger and evil in the world. We must have safety as many folks from across the political spectrum have demanded. I can offer you complete safety. There will just have to be a few minor, yes modest changes to make in our political system but if they keep you safe, then surely it's worth it yes?

This constitutional republic thing just isn't working out. Besides our nation is more diverse now. Why should this country be ruled under systems that came out of Anglo-Saxon and Western European 18th century political thought?  No we must update our political process to reflect today's needs. Elections are wasteful and give too many opportunities to our enemies or those sympathetic to them to gain power. In fact there's too much decentralization of power in our system. I commend the President for recognizing that, at least. But now, we must have autocracy. All legislative, executive and judicial authority will be handled by yours truly. Since I will be a permanent ruler the rest of you will save oodles of money on silly little things like elections or political campaigns. Political corruption will decline because there will only be one person in charge. Me. And I assure you I am not corruptible. Congress will be disbanded. Only my leadership will keep us safe. Don't you want to be safe?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stay Tuned: The Tale of Two Black Politicians

I wanted to introduce you to two new Black faces in politics.  I get the feeling you will hear more about both within the next year or so.

                                        The first is Anthony Brown.              

Mr. Brown is the current Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.

Born and raised in New York to immigrant parents, Brown graduated from Huntington High School.  During his Sr. year, Brown became the first Black President of his schools student body. 

Brown received his undergrad and J.D. from Harvard.  Prior to law school, Brown received several medals while on active duty in the U.S. Army and served a tour of duty in Iraq.  He is currently a Colonel in the US Army Reserve.

After representing Maryland's 25th District for nearly 10 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, Brown was elected Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with Tommy Carcetti Martin O'Malley.

On May 10, 2013, Brown announced his candidacy for Governor of Maryland where, if elected, he would become the state's first Black (and the country's 3rd mainland elected) governor.


The second is Earl Walker (E.W.) Jackson.

Born in Pennsylvania, Mr. Jackson grew up in foster homes. When he reached military age, Mr. Jackson joined the U.S. Marine Corp during the Vietnam War.  After, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston and his J.D. Harvard where he also studied theology.

Currently, he is head pastor at Exodus Faith Ministries and is an outspoken conservative contributor on many political talk shows.

Raised Democrat, Mr. Jackson's Christian beliefs fueled his move towards the Republican Party where he's become an unapologetic advocate encouraging Blacks to move from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

Jackson made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.  On May 18, 2013, Jackson was nominated as the Republican Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor and running mate for  Kenneth Cuccinelli.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is Big Brother Watching...or Are We Inviting Him to Dinner?

I posed a single question to my facebook wall yesterday which has created a lot of discussion so I will pose the same question here to get your take on the latest situation with Edward Snowden, the 29 year-old former IT contractor who disclosed our government's classified "PRISM" datamining program which looks at patterns in calls, emails, etc. (but does not read content without a warrant):

Question: can we honestly have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" if we're all constantly "tweeting" every aspect of our day, publishing our respective status updates and "checking in" to every single unimportant place that we visit?

Monday, June 10, 2013

HBO Game of Thrones Season Finale Recap: Mhysa

In the same fashion that GRRM goes out of his way, perhaps too much so, to break artistic convention perhaps the HBO showrunners could start to do the same. For three seasons now the most gripping and shocking moment has been in episode nine while the finale mostly deals with the repercussions. Things really don't have to be this way. It worked for season one because it was almost demanded by the source material. This trope was okay in season two but didn't quite work in season three. The book that season three was mostly drawn from was widely considered to be among the most compelling in the series. I'm not necessarily sure that always came across this season. There may be more on that later. But since this season was the most successful so far does anyone really care besides purist book readers? I don't know.

Anyway the season finale, as expected, starts in the Red Wedding aftermath. Roose Bolton looks approvingly on the final mop up of Stark and Tully forces. Men are hanged, burned alive, and hacked apart. In a horrific scene drawn straight from the books Bolton and Frey men surround the mutilated corpse of Robb Stark. He's been decapitated. Grey Wind's head has been attached to his body. The men mock the King in the North. Arya and The Hound see it and ride off. The Hound thoughtfully grabs a Frey banner as to blend in. You've really got to feel for Arya. In a very weird way she's grown up though. Yoren once held her and prevented her from seeing her father's execution and corpse. The Hound makes no such concession to her sensibilities. It is what it is.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour



That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, June 9th at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.


This week's discussion:
  • NSA, Patriot Act, and Government Leaks
  • Leaks vs Whistleblowers
  • Gun Control - Again
  • Obama's Court Dare?
  • Pot Prohibition 
  • GoT Red Wedding


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Music Reviews-Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace, Led Zeppelin: How the West Was Won, Alligator Stomp

Aretha Franklin- Amazing Grace
Many classic soul, R&B and funk singers came out of the black (generally Baptist and Pentecostal) church. Once they hit it big some left the gospel genre and never looked back as they predominantly performed secular music for ever more. Others eventually grew disillusioned with secular music and returned to the church. Some kept a foot in both worlds, releasing a back to roots gospel album every few years to prove to themselves and their audiences across the musical spectrum that they loved gospel and hadn't forgotten their roots. Perhaps some of this was just cynical marketing practice but given the very real venom with which some gospel partisans and critics viewed the practice of gospel stars crossing over, it's really no surprise that some gospel singers who made it big in the secular world would occasionally feel the artistic, personal (and religious?) need to produce a "purist" gospel album.

There are many such gospel/soul stars who have done this. Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, and Sam Cooke all come to mind but today I just want to quickly pull your coat to Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace album. This 1972 masterpiece was recorded live with Aretha Franklin's touring band (which included heavyweight musicians like bassist Chuck Rainey, guitarist Cornell Dupree and drummer Bernard Purdie) and with gospel superstar James Cleveland (an influence on both Aretha Franklin and her father Rev. C.L Franklin), Cleveland's crack choir and Aretha's father himself. Mrs. Franklin herself obviously is the featured vocal soloist but also holds her own on piano. I'm not sure if she was featured on organ. In any event it was a glorious and seamless combination of traditional gospel music mixed with some more popular forms. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

China-The New Frenemy

There is a long ugly history of Yellow Peril in American and Western literature and thought. This phenomenon generally looks at the much more numerous Chinese and/or East Asian peoples and sees in them not only unfathomable cultural and racial differences but also finds an insidious threat to the American way of life. This fear and hatred was once so great and well respected that authors like Jack London  (Call of The Wild) could write fiction calling for the complete and utter annihilation of Chinese-total genocide. Obviously no one is calling for such steps today but people from across the socio-political spectrum are starting to realize that while China may not quite be a threat but it's very much not a friend to the United States. China may be something a bit more dangerous than a competitor. Some have pointed out steps that the US must take to aggressively pursue its own desires vis-a-vis China.

These calls to action are not necessarily based in racist thought but in the very real fact that China's rise to economic prominence, its relentless demand for natural resources and its increasingly muscular foreign policy is not necessarily in the United States' or even the world's best interest. And when I say United States' best interest I am referring to the military-security state, the corporate superstructure, and the generally muted concerns of labor and environmentalists.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

US Government Seizing Verizon Phone Records????

I don't have very much to add about the below story. It grows out of the Patriot Act, which was initially passed under President Bush and extended/expanded under President Obama. All I can say is IF this is true then it once again proves my point that when you give government expanded power to investigate you, violate your privacy and keep a watch over what you're doing, government will use it. This is not just about President Obama and/or his advisers and appointees having a disregard for privacy or limited actions to discover leaks or criminal wrong doing. Although in my opinion they certainly do have that disregard. No the problem here is that under the Patriot Act and associated legislation this is probably all completely legal. The only limitation to executive branch snooping is not the law or divided government but the caprices or morality of various people in the executive branch. This is not how our society is supposed to work but you know what I'm starting not to care any more. The Patriot Act was passed and passed again. People just don't care about civil liberties.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kaitlyn Hunt is NOT Rosa Parks...

..though she MIGHT be Genarlow Wilson...if Wilson had been a legal adult when he did what he did. 
Formal equality under the law is a funny thing. There are still some remaining exceptions to it. Women do not have to register for selective service, though I think that will change soon. Women still pay less for life insurance and auto insurance. Ladies' Nights in bars or nightclubs are generally still legal. Men are arguably shortchanged in divorce and child custody claims. Private organizations have greater latitude to include or exclude people as they see fit. Men and women are both free to take maternity/paternity leave though men often do not, which adds to inequality. And so on. 
Most Americans would probably agree that equality under the law is a good thing. If I am accused of a crime the judge, jury or prosecutor should treat, judge and sentence me based on the evidence. I shouldn't be treated differently because I am of a particular age, gender or race. There shouldn't be any laws that dictate that person A of group A receives this sentence while person B of group B gets that sentence for the exact same crime. Obviously this is the theory and not the practice as there are still several instances where people don't get equal treatment. We've discussed "marriage equality" or what was more commonly known as "gay marriage".  This means that two people of the same gender should be able to marry just as two people of the opposite gender can. Some think this to be the greatest civil rights issue of our time. Well maybe. I don't much care one way or the other. But I do think that if a community wants equality under the law for the good things in life then it must be willing to accept equality under the law for the bad things.

To wit the Kaitlyn Hunt case. You may remember the Genarlow Wilson case in which a seventeen year old young man had sexual relations with two girls (young women) who were seventeen and fifteen. This was evidently part of a group sex incident. The case facts were recently rehashed here. Some people still view Wilson as a rapist. Kaitlyn Hunt is an 18 year old woman who had sexual relations with a 14 year old girl. They met in a Florida high school. Hunt has refused a plea deal and appears ready to proceed to trial. Her parents and attorney accuse the minor's parents and prosecutors of homophobia. Contrary to what's been reported Hunt admits to being eighteen before starting a sexual relationship with the minor. Hunt doesn't view herself as a child abuser. Neither do some people in the gay community or the media.

Shakeup on Obama Foreign Policy Team: Susan Rice to be named National Security Adviser

Samantha Power, Susan Rice, President Obama
Susan Rice will depart as US Ambassador to the United Nations and head over to the White House where she will have direct access to the President, as National Security Adviser. Rice will replace Tom Donilon who is leaving the post, after serving on the Obama Foreign Policy team for more than four-years. Replacing Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations will be Samantha Power. Though I'm still a little bitter with Rice for her withdrawal from consideration for Secretary of State, I think that this may prove to be a good move for her. Rice gets to bypass Senate confirmation for this position. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Police Brutality: Jasper Texas

Sometimes, just showing the video is enough...

I will say one thing: from Jena Six, Trayvon Martin, and other like videos, is it simply coincidence that black folks are on the receiving end of crap like this?  Instead of fighting to get rid of things like  Affirmative Action, maybe we should work on diversity training for all law enforcement officials.

Watch, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.



Thoughts?

Please share.  It really doesn't matter the 'crime.'  This simply can't go on!

Breaking News: US Senator of New Jersey Frank Lautenberg Dead at Age 89

US Senator of New Jersey Frank Lautenberg Dead at Age 89

Lautenberg served New Jersey for 29-Years as US Senator. He was the oldest US Senator and the last World War II Veteran serving in Congress. Earlier this year, Lautenberg announced he would retire at the end of his term, not seeking reelection. This was only after the very eager and undiplomatic Mayor Cory Booker of New Jersey, made the public very aware of his intentions to grab the seat, without giving Lautenberg the FYI. Lautenberg scolded Booker, and I believe a peace offering and possible blessing was given to Booker. 


WASHINGTON — Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, a liberal Democrat who wrote some of the nation's most sweeping health and safety laws, died early Monday, his office announced.
Lautenberg's office said he died from complications stemming from viral pneumonia at 4:02 a.m. ET at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell.
Lautenberg, who battled stomach cancer and various ailments in recent years, had already announced that he would retire in January 2015 at the end of his fifth term. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, will appoint a replacement.
Lautenberg had been battling muscle fatigue and weakness in his legs for more than a month when he made a dramatic return to the U.S. Capitol on April 17 to vote on bills to reduce gun violence, one of his pet issues. He was ushered onto the Senate floor in a wheelchair, and proudly called out "aye" in support of expanded background checks on gun purchases — a measure that ultimately failed.
Ladies and Gentleman, I advise you to put this story on your radar and keep an eye out. It's about to get very interesting -- The Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, who happens to be a Republican, gets to appoint someone to the seat :)

Let's see how this all plays out!

HBO Game of Thrones Recap: The Rains of Castamere, Robb Stark and Red Wedding

Life at last sit and listen while the fun begins
Hearts are broken and the bad guys win
Sit and listen all the cutting up is easy
And this isn't for the queasy or the weak of heart
You had better start for home while there's still time

-Life at Last by Paul Williams
Well now you know the exact moment in the book A Storm of Swords that made me hurl the book across the room, run over to pick it up to see if there was some mistake and then upon discovering that there wasn't, seriously consider hunting GRRM down and going completely Annie Wilkes on him.  Ok. Well not really. I am joking. It's just a story. But I would like to just ask him WTF dude? Why? I stopped reading the book for a few days because I was so po'd. Well life goes on. There are other shocking moments remaining in the published series. I'm sure GRRM probably has a few others planned in the books yet to be written. And no doubt Benioff and Weiss have their own surprises in the HBO adaptation. But I don't think anything will ever shock or anger me more.

Who could have expected The Red Wedding. In hindsight it was obvious. Robb was unbeatable in battle. Unfortunately Robb neglected to understand Bolton's self-interest, Frey's pride and duplicity and the political challenges caused by Stannis' loss at King's Landing. 
This episode was extremely powerful not only for the brutal betrayal but also because it kept to a very tight group of characters with minimal jumping around. Before we get to the event which really changed everything even more than Ned's execution did, let's take a quick look at the other storylines in the ninth episode.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour



That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, June 2nd at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.


This week's discussion:
  • Republican Party
  • Race Relations - Cheerios
  • Climate Change?  Hurricanes and Tornadoes 
  • Walmart employees and the cost of doing business

Cheerios Commercial
 


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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Movie Reviews- Broken City, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Pawn, Hammer of the Gods

Broken City
directed by Allen Hughes
I've often wondered how people who are married to or seriously involved with actors, actresses, models or other artistic folk keep their equanimity when their spouse or significant other does a love/sex scene or photo shoot that either seems too real or features graphic nudity. Imagine everyone seeing, enjoying and commenting on what you thought only you were supposed to see. I certainly couldn't deal with that but obviously thousands of people do so quite easily. Artists are different folks. If you can't accept the very particular artistic and business requirements that a performing artist works under or the fact that your significant other may have wildly different ideas than you concerning privacy and decorum then you probably should be with someone whose values and mores are a closer match to your own.

I mention this because it's a minor plot point in Broken City. New York City private eye Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) has a relationship with Natalie Barrow (Natalie Martinez), an actress and would be screenwriter. The two really come from different worlds. Billy is a former NYPD cop who killed the criminal who raped and murdered Natalie's sister. He's a former cop because though he was cleared of murder charges, the NYPD decided it could do without his services. Natalie's parents love Billy but Natalie herself is showing worrying signs that the thrill may be gone. The movie implies that the Puerto Rican Natalie may think that the Caucasian and temperamentally conservative Billy is no longer a good fit for her ambitions or her artistic, metrosexual, liberal, heavily minority circles. Gratitude isn't a good basis for sustained erotic interest.