Monday, January 31, 2011

When Saying "NO" isn't even enough - WTF?

With Southern Christian Evangelicals calling most of the shots within the Republican Party, we knew it wouldn't be too long before abortion made its way back into the lime light.  I had no idea it would return like this. 

For years there has been this - understanding - between the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers.  With the exception of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, federal law restricted the use of government funds to pay for abortions.  This law has been in place since 1976 under various administrations and congresses.  Now, the Republican party is looking to change this law. With their new bill, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," Republicans are looking to define "rape" as requiring force.

"Global Warming" or "Climate Change" which is it?

For years I've heard the Left Wing and Scientists talk about "Global Warming." Basically, human beings are causing the average temperature of the Earth to heat up. The argument is that the increase in temperature has caused the ice caps to melt and caused the temperature and the level of the seas to rise, among other things. The problem was, not everyone bought into "Global Warming," especially those on the Right. The argument wasn't that the planet was/wasn't warming but whether or not its problems were manmade.  The other argument that I heard the most was that a rise AND fall in temperature is normal and we shouldn't make too big a deal over it.

Film Review-Takers

Film Review-Takers

Michael Mann’s “Heat” cast a heavy influence over many heist movies that came after it. “Takers" referenced this in the first 15 minutes by having the ski-masked, body armor equipped, assault rifle wielding robbers take down a bank and get away clean.  “Takers” features a multi-racial group of robbers and this could have been an interesting part of the story.  However the film, directed by John Luessenhop, mostly sticks to genre conventions.
I didn't care about the characters until the last 20 minutes or so. The movie doesn’t succeed in making you care about them.
The robbery team is composed of Idris Elba (the leader), Paul Walker (the quietly efficient and dangerous second-in-command), Hayden Christensen (a blues piano playing front man who is tougher than he looks), and Michael Ealy and Chris Brown (who play brothers who are quite protective of each other)

An imprisoned crew member (T.I.) is released early and comes to the crew with a BIG job that must be done right away. This violates their rules as Idris prefers to plan out jobs to the last detail.  He also likes to take at least a year between heists.  But the money is too good to miss and so the big job is undertaken. T.I. apparently holds no resentment for the fact that Michael Ealy is marrying T.I.'s former girlfriend (Zoe Saldana), or the fact that he’s been in prison for the past few years. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yeah...About Those "Founding Fathers" (VIDEO)

Look, there's a fine line between spin and a flat out lie.  We've all grown accustomed to the spin on both sides of the aisle from politicians who are trying to persuade us that their ideology is the correct ideology for the job.  That's to be expected.   What is inexcusable, however, is when our so-called leaders flat out lie about verifiable facts in order to score political points.  There's already enough misinformation floating around out there about the laws and policies that effect our day to day lives, so we certainly don't need politicians out there trying to rewrite history to fit their political agenda.  One such politician, Michelle Bachmann, recently volunteered the following statement about slavery while giving an address to the Tea Party:

"But we also know that the very founders who wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States. And I think it's high time that we recognize the contribution of our forebearers who worked like John Quincy Adams who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the Country."
Um, what country are YOU talking about, lady?  Or perhaps more straight to the point, what history book have you been reading from because the history books that all the rest of us have are very clear on this topic.  The Founding Fathers did not end slavery.  Period.  And they certainly did not work tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United Sates.  In fact, the Founding Fathers wrote slavery into the Constitution in two places:

Article I Sect. 2, which defines the House of Representatives, states that slaves were to be counted as 3/5 of a person for purposes of determining how many Representatives should be apportioned from each State based on its population.

Article IV Sect. 2 states flat out that if a slave escapes from one State and runs across the border into another State, then the latter State must return to the slave to the former State. 
So let's be clear, the Founding Fathers saw no problem with codifying slavery into our Constitution back in 1789 when the Country was founded.  And when we're talking about the "Founding Fathers," let's also be clear on who we are talking about.  We're talking about these guys:

  1. Benjamin Franklin (owned slaves and died in 1790)
  2. George Washington (owned slaves and died in 1799)
  3. John Adams (actually did not own slaves and died in 1826)
  4. Thomas Jefferson (owned 100's of slaves and died in 1826)
  5. John Jay (actually did not own slaves and died in 1829)
  6. James Madison (owned slaves and died in 1836)
  7. Alexander Hamilton (owned slaves and died in 1804)
  8. John Hancock (owned a slave and died in 1793)
As history clearly shows us, most of these guys owned slaves.  So any claim that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly "until slavery was no more in the United States" we know can't be true.  Perhaps their SLAVES worked tirelessly, but as far as the Founding Fathers themselves working tirelessly to end slavery, that is just flat out false.  Now as for the 2 Founding Fathers that didn't own slaves, the longest living one died in 1829.   In fact, none of the Founding Fathers lived past the 1830's.  Why is this important?  Because it is an indisputable FACT that slavery did not end in the United States until the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865 as a direct result of the Civil War.  Out of all the Founding Fathers to this country, NONE of them were alive when this happened.  In other words, Michelle Bachmann is full of shit.

Video of Chris Matthews correctly taking the Tea Party to task over this nonsense after the jump:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Power to the People

They know we’re not satisfied, so we begin to holler
They make us a promise and throw in a few more dollars
There’s no price for happiness, there’s no price for love
 Up goes the price of living, and you’re right back where you was
“(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People"- The Chi-Lites

"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
-Frederick Douglass
 “I would not refer to him as a dictator” 
-Joe Biden speaking of Hosni Mubarak who has ruled for thirty years, uses emergency decree as a normal state of affairs and exiles, imprisons or tortures political opponents.
At the time of this posting Hosni Mubarak is still the dictator of Egypt.  He has shut down the internet and phone service in an attempt to stop protesters from communicating.  The Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei was placed under house arrest. The state has placed tanks in the streets of Cairo and the police are in full attack mode –water hoses, beatings, tear gas, the works. There are differing reports on how many have been killed so far but one thing seems to be safe to say : the protesters don’t want reform-they want revolution. On MSNBC last night one protester was helpful enough to carry a sign that read “GET OUT” in English, French, Arabic, German and what looked like Spanish.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where were you 25 years ago? The Challenger Explosion

Our history is full of “where were you when” moments. The longer we live, the more moments we experience. If you talk to your parents, you will hear many of them: Nixon and Watergate, JFK assassination, MLK assassination and John Lennon’s death - just to name a few. Unfortunately, my generation has had its share from OJ Simpson in his white Bronco, people stranded after Hurricane Katrina and of course, no one will forget 9/11.

But today – January 28 – marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. This is another moment that is burned into my generations mind. For this post, we are going to recall where we were when the Challenger exploded.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stop playing the "Kid" card!

For years I’ve sat back and listened to (mostly) conservatives talk about not passing along “our debt” to their children. Most recently, in response to the President’s State of the Union Address, Congressman Paul Ryan said:

On this current path, when my three children – who are 6,7, and 8 years old – are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it’s one of my greatest concerns as a parent – and I know many of you feel the same way.
REALLY? One of your greatest concerns? Not nuclear war? Not a solar flare? Not some unknown virus? But the debt? Really?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Still wrong after all these years

Walter Williams
A physicist, biologist, and economist are shipwrecked on an island with no food except canned goods. They have no can opener. They soberly consider their dilemma. Each professor presents a plan to the others.
The physicist has identified some coral reef. He proposes that at low tide he carefully wade out to the reef, break off some coral, attach it to a stone and use that tool to open the cans. The biologist disagrees. She states that because this island is known for inedible and highly acidic snails they should dig for those snails and express their acid to cut through the can lids.
The two scholars look expectantly at the economist. He says "Let's assume we have a can opener".
Walter Williams is an economist.  Much like the economist in the story, he is prone to making useless assumptions. Williams was the subject of a recent WSJ column
As a right wing libertarian Williams has a blind spot to free market inefficiencies and immoralities. He assumes morality. Williams thinks the majority of issues which impact black people are either their own fault or caused by the government.

Today just 17% of construction workers are unionized, but Democratic politicians, in deference to the AFL-CIO, have kept Davis-Bacon in place to protect them. Because most black construction workers aren't union members, however, the law has the effect of freezing them out of jobs. It also serves to significantly increase the costs of government projects, since there are fewer contractors to bid on them than there would be without Davis-Bacon.

Analysis of this issue launched Mr. Williams' career as a public intellectual, and in 1982 he published his first book, "The State Against Blacks," arguing that laws regulating economic activity are far larger impediments to black progress than racial bigotry and discrimination. Nearly 30 years later, he stands by that premise.

"Racial discrimination is not the problem of black people that it used to be" in his youth, says Mr. Williams. "Today I doubt you could find any significant problem that blacks face that is caused by racial discrimination. The 70% illegitimacy rate is a devastating problem, but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with racism. The fact that in some areas black people are huddled in their homes at night, sometimes serving meals on the floor so they don't get hit by a stray bullet—that's not because the Klan is riding through the neighborhood."

Williams glosses over a few things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The State of the Union Address - 2011

Watch the State of the Union Address Here:

Join us tonight at 9:00 PM EST as we discuss the SOTU address.  We will discuss the speech as President Obama delivers it, reacting to what he says, and how congress reacts.  We hope you join us.

The Urban Beat: January 25, 2011

1.) The Illinois Supreme Court appears to have a little more common sense than their appellate courts do.  Today they stayed the lower courts decision allowing Rahm Emanuel's name to appear on the ballot.

2.) Money Matters!  A recent study has determined that as wealth in a family increases, the choices of adults and the child's environment play a much smaller role in determining the mental ability of their children.  The converse is also true, the poorer a family, the choices of the adults and the child's environment play a much larger role.  With many black families growing up in poorer neighborhoods, this isn't very new news.  However, it does emphasize the point that we all must do a better job of parenting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rahm Emanuel Thrown Off Ballot Over Technicality

Much like the presidential aspirations of Wyclef Jean, it appears that Rahm Emanuel's dream for becoming the next mayor of Chicago may be in trouble of becoming a dream deferred.  Apparently in order to become the mayor of Chi-town you actually have to live in Chi-Town.  Who knew?  Per the associated press:

An Illinois appellate court on Monday threw former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel off the ballot for Chicago mayor because he didn't live in the city in the year before the election.
The decision cast doubt over Emanuel's candidacy just a month before the election. He had been considered the front-runner and had raised more money than any other candidate.
The court voted 2-1 to overturn a lower-court ruling that would have kept his name on the Feb. 22 ballot.
Emanuel plans to appeal the matter to the Illinois Supreme Court. Early voting was set to begin on Jan. 31.
State residency requirements are a tricky thing because they're not like national residency issues where the nation of one's birth determines citizenship. You can become a resident of a state simply by intending to return to a state where you previously lived, provided that you used to live there for a certain amount of time.  Anybody who has ever attended college is probably familiar with this general rule. So although Emanuel is out for now, he still has one last shot at the Illinois Supreme Court which may overturn this ruling in his favor.  On the other hand, States have a vested interest in stopping outsiders from seeking elected office within their borders.  The rationale is pretty straight forward - if you don't live in a state then you probably don't know what's going on in the state.  Bottom line, there are strong arguments on both sides of this fence.

Should Rahm be included on the Chicago Mayoral ballot?
Do you think that any of the other Mayoral candidates had anything to do with this appellate court decision?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann is out!

Keith Olbermann sleeps with the fishes.

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC ended their contract Friday night. There were rumors that the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal would mean that Olbermann would either leave or have his wings clipped. So this is not completely surprising but it is somewhat unusual in its abruptness.

NEW YORK – Keith Olbermann was MSNBC's most popular personality and single-handedly led its transformation to an outspoken, left-leaning cable news network in prime time. Despite that, he often seemed to be walking on a tightrope with his job. Friday night, it snapped.
Olbermann returned from one last commercial break on "Countdown" to tell viewers it was his last broadcast, and read a James Thurber short story in a three-minute exit statement. Simultaneously, MSNBC e-mailed a statement that "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract." The network thanked him and said, "we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Neither MSNBC President Phil Griffin, Olbermann nor his manager responded to requests to explain an exit so abrupt that Olbermann's face was still being featured on an MSNBC promotional ad 30 minutes after he had said goodbye.

Book Review-From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain

From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain 
by Minister Faust.

Minister Faust is the pen name of Black Canadian politician/writer/activist/teacher Malcolm Azania.
I don't quite know how to describe this book. I liked it a LOT, I can say that. It's a satire that works on at least three different levels, maybe more, not all of which may be immediately obvious. It's definitely the sort of work that bears reading twice. The closest comparison would probably be "Watchmen" but this book is a LOT funnier, covers more subjects and moves more quickly. Imagine if Phillip Dick, Tim Dorsey, Ishamel Reed, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Kurt Vonnegut, Baraka and Kevin Smith all got together in one person to do a bit of writing.

It's definitely the FUNNIEST thing I've read in a long time. This has more jokes per line than any book I can think of.
The surface story is that in current day America, all of the costumed superheroes have apparently defeated, killed or imprisoned all of their bad guy counterparts. Unfortunately instead of ushering in an era of peace, there is more conflict, deadly office politics, sniping and profiteering than ever before. So the most prestigious umbrella superhero organization, the Fantastic Order of Justice (or F.O.O.J-it used to be the Fraternal Order of Justice before an equal opportunity lawsuit by a lesbian superheroine) has decided that its six most notable members need to undergo psychological counseling or be thrown out of the organization completely.
These members are:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are Chinese Mothers Superior?

Are Chinese Mothers Superior?
The Wall Street Journal recently published an excerpt from a new book  (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) by Amy Chua, (Yale Law Professor, Harvard Law grad (cum laude), writer and apparently a very intelligent person) that seemed to answer yes to that question.  When I read the article I thought it was a satire but it wasn’t.  I couldn’t imagine the Wall Street Journal or any other mainstream publication publishing anything that apparently endorsed the superiority of Caucasian/Black/Latino mothers.

To be fair both in the article and especially after publication Chua was careful to parse her words just enough to not endorse a generalized belief in the absolute superiority of every Chinese mother or suggest that there weren’t demanding no-nonsense mothers to be found in every group. She stated that she would not have chosen the title for the Wall Street Journal excerpt and that her book details a journey from one place to another, where she becomes a different kind of parent.  Chua explains

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Politics of Repealing Health Care

Back in November we ran a piece on the mechanics of Repealing Health Care Reform which basically concluded that there are only 3 ways to repeal this new law:  (i) Congress can pass a bill which repeals this bill (in part or in whole); (ii) the Courts can declare the law unconstitutional; or (iii) Congress can "starve" the law by refusing to vote for its funding.  Of the three, we figured that the most realistic form of actions for Republicans determined to "repeal" the law would be #3 - starve it - as they likely do not have the votes in either house to actually do a flat out repeal of the law.  But now that the New Republican-lead Congress is in session, a new question is being posed by the American public with respect to repealing the Health Care Reform law - "Why?"  As in, remind us why are we repealing these new-found benefits exactly?  And with the President's numbers back on the rise (currently standing at about 53% give or take) the Republicans are having an increasingly hard time making the sale to the American public that we should forgo these new health care benefits simply because Obama created them.

Case in point, watch Republican Congressman Connie Mack (FL) struggle with Mike Barnicle on yesterday's  Morning Joe when Barnicle asks him, point blank, whether (a) the fact that his 25 year-old son can now stay on his health care coverage until age 26 and (b) the fact that his son cannot be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions should actually be repealed:  (watch from 07:16 to 08:30)

Many agree that the Republicans' attempt to repeal "Obama-Care" was purely political, but given that an increasing number of Americans actually don't want to see it repealed, is it good politics for the Republicans to continue down this road?

The Urban Beat: What's going on in the world?

1.I'm sure you are all aware of the Republican vote to repeal the "Job Killing" "Job Crushing" Health Care Bill.  As this has no chance of getting past both the Democratically controlled Senate and the Veto of the White House, the Democrats are calling this "Political Grandstanding" and a waist of tax payers money.  Is it?

2.Chinese President  Hu Jintao is visiting the US.  On the agenda; The Economy and China's Human Rights woes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Leon Walker a Criminal?

If I call from work and the phone is busy
I never, never, never, never, never ask who was on the line (oh no)
If I get home late she don’t ask any questions (no she don’t, you know why)
Cause she’s got her thing going and you know I’ve got mine
-Isaac Hayes “One Big Unhappy Family”

Married people lose some freedom of action and privacy. That’s life. A marriage where one spouse is constantly telling the other one to mind his or her own business is one that probably won’t last. Her business becomes his business and vice versa. On the other hand married or not, people still are individuals and have some expectation of privacy, don’t they?

Leon Walker worried that his wife Clara was cheating on him with her allegedly abusive second husband. He decided to check her email accounts. He found proof of her affair and notified her first ex-husband, who decided to use this information in a custody dispute. Ex #1 was supposedly concerned that his child was being exposed to possible abuse by Ex #2. Leon was also allegedly apprehensive about his own child's safety.

So what right? This is nothing new. Some happy or trusting spouses have joint email accounts which either may use. They sometimes share their passwords with each other. Less trusting or more private spouses often keep an eye on each other and may even occasionally surreptitiously check emails, text messages, voicemails, etc. Morally such actions may be somewhat dubious but it’s not like the police are going to arrest you or the local prosecutor will try to convict you of hacking or spying or anything like that. Well not usually anyway….  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating Dr. MLK Day: How it Should Be Done!

We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge today as the day we set aside to honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's legacy has been condensed into what we call the MLK Day of Service. A day in which we are suppose to use our day off from work to engage in community service oriented projects like street cleaning, feeding the homeless or some other noble, volunteer act.

All over the country folks use this opportunity to "give back" to those less fortunate and to honor the legacy of Dr. King by doing for others. But does this "Day of Service" which was developed 25 years ago really encompass what the legacy of  Dr. King truly is? Personally when I think of community service, I think of someone who was caught doing a crime and forced to give back to society as punishment....I'll leave that one alone!

Most Memorable Moments of 2010

So 2010 came and went without any flying cars, teleportation devices or time travel machines, but we did have our own memorable moments.  We took a poll of the most memorable moments of 2010 and the people have spoken.  Our Top 10 Countdown of the most memorable moments of 2010 according to you, the viewers, are as follows:

10. The Shirley Sherod Controversy
Just when you thought the media couldn't get any worse at fabricating false stories to keep ratings up...

9.  Rep. Weinger Takes GOP to Task on House Floor over 9/11 Bill
Sometimes you just have to keep it real and tell folks about themselves.

8.  The November Midterm Elections
And after all the media hype over the Tea Party, most of them actually LOST the midterm elections.

7.  The Urban Politico Won Best Political Blog of the Year
Hey, thanks for including us in your memorable moments. It was a moment we will not soon forget.

6.  Congress Ended Don't Ask Don't Tell
After 17 years of existence, DADT was ended.

5.  Health Care Reform Bill signed into law by Obama
After an entire year of bitching and moaning, heated rhetoric and downright ugliness in town hall meetings from coast to coast, Health Care reform was finally passed into law. 

4.  Obama's First State of the Union Address
From our summary of the State of Union back in January: "Obama has successfully pissed off both the right and the left. Even on our own blog, which admittedly leans to the left, we have criticised him. So I'm not getting this concrete resistance from the right to EVERYTHING that Obama says. Last night, I felt there were plenty of moments where EVERYONE stood up and applauded. But he tried to keep it right down the middle. He attacked the left, the right, and the middle (in a perfect world, the middle would be the SCOTUS...but I will write about them in the following days...) He acknowledged that he should have communicated better, stated that both right AND left policies are good for jobs (small business tax cuts, jobs bill), good for the environment (of shore drilling, clean coal, cap and trade), and the budget (spending freeze - after we fix the economy...because "That's how budgeting works." If (and only if) we are honest, we can say that of course Obama is a left leaning president, he came from the Democratic party. But it is CLEAR, at least in rhetoric, that he is putting forth the olive branch toward the right to work together."

3.  BP Oil Spill
And how could we ever forget the BP oil spill?  We only had to watch it on TV everyday for about half of 2010.

2.  Arizona's Immigration Debate
We all remember the "Paper's Please" law that is currently making its way through the Courts as we speak.  As we said back in April:  "Arizona, like MANY other southern states, is proud of their guns, their John Wayne and Ronald Reagan posters, cowboy hats and confederate flags, but the bottom line is you CAN’T be exclusive and expect to be successful in today’s America. Whether you like it or not, we are becoming a country of many different nationalities, ways of life, and physical features. You can be proud of your own while still working WITH everyone else."

1.  The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy
The grand daddy of them all for the year 2010 was none other than the manufactured "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy.  Nothing says irony like a religious controversy in a country founded upon religious tolerance.  As we said back in August: "To blame all Muslims for 9/11 and oppose all Mosques is the logical equivalent of having a family member murdered by a person of a particular race and, from that day forward, blaming all members of that race and opposing any of the members of said race from moving in next door to the crime scene."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One was Presidential the other...not so much...

Was Presidential.

The Other...
was not.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Obama's Memorial Speech in Arizona (VIDEO)

For those who missed the memorial service at Tucson, Arizona, President Obama delivered a powerful speech which honored the 6 fallen victims of Saturday's shooting, praised the hero's who acted, informed us that Gabrielle Giffords has opened her eyes for the first time since the shooting, and challenged Americans to honor the memory of those who were lost as we discuss this tragedy going forward:

"That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted. 

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."

Film Review-Night Catches Us

Night Catches Us

It is a cliché in some progressive circles to dismiss the Black Panthers as sexist, misogynist, misguided brutes.  Many reactionaries regard them as dangerous racist thugs. One must remember that whatever small truths may be found in those stereotypes (Eldridge Cleaver anyone?), the Black Panther Party started as the next step in the struggle for Black self-determination and self-love. The members were in many cases little more than youth who had the audacity to believe that the Constitution applied to black citizens and intended to do their best to make that belief a reality.

The Party was destroyed from without and within. Internal rivalries, gangsterism, gun worship, immaturity, COINTELPRO, police brutality and murder, prison, etc all played a part. We all know the story even though it really hasn't been told on screen the way it should be.

This is not that movie. This is a much smaller, more focused tale.  Night Catches Us is a story of the human costs of activism. It's really almost a Sophie's Choice type of film for the generation that made up much of the Panther's membership/ leadership. How do people move forward from the heady days of the sixties/early seventies when the movement was strong?

This movie was the big screen debut of writer/director Tanya Hamilton. It takes place in 1976 Philadelphia.

Anthony Mackie plays Marcus Washington, a former Panther who returns to his Germantown home for his father's funeral. Marcus has been away for a long time (it's strongly hinted that he's been on the run but he also may have been imprisoned-this is not really resolved and for my purposes here doesn't need to be).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

'Member? You 'Member Part 1: Old School Video Games

For no reason other than it has been on my mind, I'm going old school!  Nestalgia!!!  Things are just SO different now.  Everything is different.  From movies to music and even video games.  Don't get me wrong, many of the games today are great!  But some have gotten SO serious, that they aren't even fun anymore.  They are jobs!!! 

So call me whatcha want, but I felt like chatting it up about some of the entertainment I had growing up.  And if you grew up in the 80s or 90s, there wasn't that much out there that was more influential than video games.  While PONG was good... I'm talking about those games after PONG and Pac Man... but before PlayStations and Wiis came along. 

I would wager that many of you had an old school Nintendo, Atari, Turbo Graphics 16 (was I the ONLY one that had a TG16?) or Sega... 

So, if you know If you know what this Code is - 007-373-5963, or what this code does - Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right 'A' 'B' Select Start, or what a Turtle Tip is, then join me, and let me know what was your game of choice!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guest Post: Wow. Is Sarah Palin Running the American Taliban?

This guest post comes from a fellow Philadelphian, as well as former classmate of mine. I originally read this post as a note she had dropped on Facebook, but when I read it I was immediately taken aback and had to make sure our readers had the opportunity to see this powerful piece. Diva Bleu writes with passion and creativity and her points are hard to ignore. I hope you all enjoy this piece as much as I did.


This should ruffle some conservative, extremist moose fur, and I don’t care at all.
I believe that what the Tea Party will ultimately fester into, if gone unchecked, will resemble something like an American version of the Taliban. Think about it, the Taliban was born out of smoldering rhetoric and hateful behaviors leveled at not only government corruption and infighting, but at entire groups of people in society and different races in that society as well.
Now, take a look at the similarities that I see and tell me if you see what is spelled out in plain English:
  • According to, in March of 2010, Sarah Palin released a list of “targets” (members of the House who voted for Obamacare) on her Facebook page no less, with a graphic depicting the areas said members could be found complete with ACTUAL target symbols. 
  • Among those included on the list were targeted Democrats: Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), Harry E. Mitchell (Arizona), Gabrielle Giffords (Arizona), John Salazar (Colorado), Betsy Markey (Colorado), Allen Boyd (Florida), Suzanne M. Kosmas (Florida), Baron P. Hill (Indiana), Earl Pomeroy (Alabama), Charlie Wilson (Ohio), John Boccieri (Ohio), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pennsylvania), Christopher Carney (Pennsylvania), John M. Spratt, Jr. (South Carolina), Tom Perriello (Virginia), Alan B. Mollohan (West Virginia), and Nick J. Rahall II (West Virginia).

»this one strikes me as extra blatant. i mean, if “targeting” people who voted for OBAMACARE was your goal, why not “target” those in YOUR OWN PARTY who voted for what you have deemed such an abomination? but i guess we aren’t supposed to be smart enough to see that the goal was to kill “eliminate” the Democratic leaders in these areas and replace them with Tea Party backed candidates.

  • Palin also, although denying that she was trying to incite violence against any of the “targets” on her list, took to her Twitter calling on her followers to not retreat and “Instead – RELOAD!” after posting the list and graphic to her Facebook.

  • as recently as September 2010, the obviously conservative, Tea-Party backed site posted an article that AGAIN named Gabrielle Giffords as a “target” using the word TARGET.
  • Rep. Giffords was shot through the head yesterday morning, January 8, 2011 by a 22 year old man named Jared Lee Loughner. in March, a few hours after the vote to pass the health reform bill, the glass door of her office in Tucson was smashed. the evening following the vote, Sarah Palin revealed the aforementioned list. on March 25, MSNBC interviewed Giffords about the attack on her office. she said, “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district, and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.”
  • MSNBC co-host Chuck Todd defended Palin, saying, “In fairness,campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years… I understand that in the comment it may look bad, but do you really think that’s what she intended?”
Listen, I don’t care WHAT she “may have” intended. When you don’t have enough respect for your fellow Americans and politicians to NOT place targets on their heads, than you’re nothing but a terrorist. How can she actually believe that this wasn’t either directly or indirectly caused by telling her MILLIONS of her “Stans” that they should “RELOAD!” While being such a strong proponent of guns? Her own constituents have even remarked about her Yosemite Sam-esque tactics both during the 2008 election climate and most recently as her cable show Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
Isn’t placing God and guns in the same category the same as how the Taliban and other extremist groups recruit their most LOYAL, angry followers? When you study the history of extremism in just about any region, you find that the volatile mix of religious rhetoric, political over-zealousness and indignation, calls to violence and uprising, and poor, undereducated people becomes a civil war waiting to explode. Not only was a woman wounded today because she wanted to provide VALUABLE services to her countrymen and women, but 6 people died and 13 others were wounded.
What are we coming to, America?
No, i rephrase that. what HAVE we come to, America?

Diva Bleu

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Gabrielle Giffords Lesson: It's Time to Hold the "2nd Amendment Remedies" Crowd Responsible ***EDIT***(VIDEO)

It's all fun and games until somebody gets shot.

As you've probably heard by now, on Saturday United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at point blank range by a 22 year-old man named Jared Loughner while she addressed supporters at a public speaking event in Arizona.  Ms. Giffords was the narrow winner in a 2010 House race against Tea Party supported candidate Jesse Kelly.

Several times during this past year's midterm election, many of the Tea Party Republicans and their respective followers consistently made reference to the need to inject guns and/or violence into our political discourse.   Some of them even felt the need to bring loaded weapons to political rallies. Sharon Angle, a Tea Party candidate in Nevada who lost to Senator Harry Ried in the 2010 midterms, coined the phrase "2nd Amendment Remedies" during an interview when she explained how the people should deal with the government if the votes don't go their way. In a similarly reckless attempt to rally Tea Party supporters, Sarah Palin suggested that people "reload" to take out Democratic supporters of Obamacare.  Consequently, one of those Democratic "targets" was Representative Gabrielle Giffords. (see pic at right, left column of names, 4th from the top)  Per CBS News:

We do not yet know what prompted 22-year-old accused gunman Jared Loughner to allegedly shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others, including a child and federal judge who died from their wounds.
But critics of Sarah Palin have already drawn a link between the shooting and the fact that the former Alaska governor put Giffords on a "target list" of lawmakers Palin wanted to see unseated in the midterm elections.
In March, Palin released a map featuring 20 House Democrats that used crosshairs images to show their districts. (You can see it here.) Critics suggested at the time that she was inciting violence by using the crosshairs imagery and for later writing on Twitter to her supporters, "'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'" 
But let's be clear, this ignorance is not just limited to the Tea Party.  This type of violent rhetoric has ramped up in the media significantly since Obama was elected in 2008.  At first it was disturbing, troubling even, when media figures would suggest taking out the President or others they disagreed with politically but then we heard it so often that it practically became commonplace.  But it's not commonplace and America, of all countries, should know better than to suggest or even joke about resorting to violence in our politics.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Birds Keep Falling! But What Does It All Mean?

The Huffington Post reported on this earlier today.

UPDATE: Hundreds and possibly thousands of dead birds have reportedly fallen from the sky in Italy.
UPDATE: Wildlife officials say that even more previously unreported dead birds were found in Kentucky last week.
Millions of dead fish surfaced in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay in the U.S., Tuesday, while similar unexplained mass fish deaths occurred across the world in Brazil and New Zealand. On Wednesday, 50 birds were found dead on a street in Sweden. The news come after recents reports of mysterious massive bird and fish deaths days prior in Arkansas and Louisiana.

ParanaOnline reports that 100 tons of sardines, croaker and catfish have washed up in Brazilian fishing towns since last Thursday. The cause of the deaths is unknown, with an imbalance in the environment, chemical pollution, or accidental release from a fishing boat all suggested by local officials.
In New Zealand, hundreds of dead snapper fish washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches, many found with their eyes missing, The New Zealand Herald reports. A Department of Conservation official allegedly claims the fish were starving due to weather conditions.
While all three events are likely unrelated, they come after recent reports of mysterious dead birds falling from the sky in both Arkansas and Louisiana. Thousands of dead birds were found in Beebe, Arkansas on New Year's Eve, and a few days later, around 500 of the same species were found 300 miles south in Louisiana. A Kentucky woman also reported finding dozens of dead birds scattered around her home. In the days prior to New Year's, nearly 100,000 fish surfaced in an Arkansas river 100 miles west of Beebe. Officials are now saying that fireworks likely caused the Arkansas bird deaths, and power lines may be to blame for the death of the birds in Louisiana. 

New Voice on The Urban Politico

Oyez Oyez Oyez!!!

Once again, with the New Year comes a New Era of stirring the pot, so The Urban Politico is proud to announce our newest addition to the family, a long time Urban Politician who goes by the name "Shady Grady."

Shady Grady hails from the great state of Michigan and was born and raised in the Motor City (Detroit). He comes to us as a well known writer and contributor to several blogs throughout the blogosphere. You've seen his work before from time to time on The Urban Politico, and he's been known to hold his own against us and other readers in the comments section during some of our more heated debates.  No matter what position Shady takes on an issue, you can rest assured he can and will back it up with facts.

As far as his political ideology, Shady brings a moderate perspective to the blog that is slighltly to the right of the 3 of us, which is a welcomed fresh breath of diversity.  According to, he scores as a left-wing libertarian.  He argues for civil rights (especially for racial minorities) but against immigration; for health care reform but against the individual mandate, and for religious freedom but against the mixing of church and state.  And with respect to religion, he doesn't believe in God but respects those of us who do.  In other words, the art of cognitive dissonance is not lost on this brother.

Shady is a die hard Godfather fan and will quote from the movie frequently when making an argument.  He admits that sometimes he just likes to argue for the sake of arguing and hopes that when he does people will not take it personally.  And by the way, this guy knows more about old blues songs than just about anyone else on the planet.

So please show your love and give a warm welcome to our newest blogger and keep an eye out over the days and weeks to come for a new voice on the Urban Politico.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

No more Ni99as in "Huck Finn"

I'm sure you heard by now the controversy surrounding the removal of the "n-word" from the book Huck Finn. 

For those of you that don't know, there are words and characters in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" that have always been controversial, N*gger Jim and Injun.  The publishers of "Huck Finn" have decided to replace the "n-word" in the book with the word "slave" and removed the word "Injun" in an effort to make the book more "appropriate" for school children.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Founder's Day to the Brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi - 100 Years!

We'd like to take a small commercial break to recognize the 100 year anniversary of the most noble clan to which The Janitor and The Fed are both a part of: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  The Fraternity was founded by 10 young Black male college students in Bloomington, Indiana during the height of the Ku Klux Klan which was prevelant in Indiana during that time.  Since that time 100 years ago, the organization has grown to over 150,000 members at over 700 chapters at American colleges and universityes as well as Alumni chapters all over the globe and has come to include among its ranks brothers such as Johnnie Cochran, Esq., Arthur Ashe, Wilt Chamberlain, Cedric the Entertainer, John Singleton, Montell Jordan, Tavis Smiley, Robert Johnson, Mayor Adrian Fenty, Mayor Tom Bradley, Representative John Conyers, Representative Sanford Bishop, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Gayle Sayers, Coach Mike Tomlin, Penny Hardaway, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russel, just to name a few.

Congrats on 100 years!!!

Yours in the Bond,

The Janitor
Mu Chapter

The Fed
Alpha Mu Chapter

January Book of the Month: Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
Eugene Robinson

From Publisher's Weekly:
In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormous influence, a mainstream middle-class majority, a newly emergent group of recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and an abandoned minority "with less hope of escaping poverty than at any time since Reconstruction's end." Drawing on census records, polling data, sociological studies, and his own experiences growing up in a segregated South Carolina college town during the 1950s, Robinson explores 140 years of black history in America, focusing on how the civil rights movement, desegregation, and affirmative action contributed to the fragmentation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the "best-educated group coming to live in the United States," are changing what being black means. Robinson notes that despite the enormous strides African-Americans have made in the past 40 years, the problems of poor blacks remain more intractable than ever, though his solution--"a domestic Marshall Plan aimed at black America"--seems implausible in this era of cash-strapped state and local governments.

The Urban Politico Has Reached 100,000 Viewers!!!

When we started this blog back in April 2009 it took us slightly over 1 year to reach 50,000 hits.  Only half a year has passed since we hit our first 50,000 views but, nevertheless, it is our distinct privilege and honor today to say "Thank You" to you, the readers, for helping us reach 100,000 views!!!

Next stop...250,000.  Hope to see you there!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!

- The Urban Politico

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Originalism on the Supreme Court is a Bad Idea

Most people are aware that we have this thing called the Supreme Court and that it's made up of Supreme Court Justices.  Now how many Justices or who these cats are is asking a bit too much for your average American, so it should also come at no surprise that most folks are unfamiliar with the different types of Judicial Philosphies that are used to decide our Constitutional Rights every single day on the Court.  There are those who believe the "Purpose" of the law should be followed when in doubt; this group is opposed by the "Strict Constructionists" who believe that the letter of the law - typos included - should be followed strictly at all times, purpose be damned.  Then another group (usually liberal) believe that the Constitution is a "living document" meaning that it changes with the times; this group is opposed by the "Originalists" (usually conservative) who believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was written by the Founding Fathers in 1789, and that each amendment should be interpreted in accordance with the respective year in which it was drafted.  One such Justice who follows this "Originalism" philosophy to the letter is Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest serving Justice currently on the Supreme Court (24 years) and also the Court's most notorious conservative.

Recently, California Lawyer ran a piece on Scalia which captures why Originalism is probably not the best way to go about interpreting the law:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gov. Barbour Finally Pardons Scott Sisters

Those of us in the Black blogosphere have known about the Scott Sisters for quite some time, but if you're not familiar let me summarize the facts of the case for you:

The Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, went to a mini-mart in Forest, Mississippi around 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1993.  The two victims, Johnny Ray Hayes and Mitchell Duckworth, also stopped at the same mini-mart around that time after getting off work.  According to the victims, the Scott Sisters approached the two men because they had run out of gas and asked them for a ride to their parents’ home in Hillsboro, Mississippi, a few miles north of Forest.  The two men agreed.

What happened along the ride is up for debate, but the end result is that, at some point, either one of the Scott Sisters or one of the two men pulled the car over along a narrow country road where three teenagers armed with a shotgun ordered the victims out of the car and robbed them at gunpoint and took a whopping $11 dollars from the victims (although it may have been as much as $200).  The next day, deputies from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Jamie’s house with a warrant for her and Gladys’ arrest on robbery charges. Ten months later, a Scott County jury comprised of 7 White jurors and 5 Black jurors found the sisters guilty of armed robbery and sentenced them each to double life sentences. (apparently the laws of the State of Mississippi actually allow a LIFE SENTENCE for, we're not joking).  The kicker is that the 3 teenagers who actually held the victims up at gunpoint only received 8 years a piece, and of those 8 year sentences, they each only served about 10 months in prison before they were paroled as a reward for their testimony against the Scott sisters.