Monday, February 28, 2011

The American Dream Fallacy

"You've been living in a dream world, Neo...You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?  Look again."
- Morpheus

For as long as we can remember, we've all been hardwired with the same version of the American Dream: go to school, work hard, get good grades, and then graduate so that you can get a job, work hard there too and then someday buy a house with a white picket fence where you can raise your family with 2.5 kids and a dog.  And apparently, for over 90% of us, the wisdom of this mantra is gospel and beyond reproach.  The only problem with this bill of goods that we've been sold is that it leads us to believe that if we follow this mantra then someday we, too, shall make it into the promised land of the wealthy.  And because we are so "helplessly dependent" on this dream of someday becoming rich, when political issues arise that would affect the rich (such as (i) tax cuts for the rich, (ii) estate tax loopholes, (iii) lower corporate tax rates, (iv) no collective bargaining rights for unions, etc.)  we will fight to protect the rich, even if we are among the bottom 99% of Americans that the rich prey upon.  And why?  Because, again, we have all been programmed since birth to trust that going to school and getting a job will, someday, place us among the super rich that these laws will affect.  So, in a weird, looking-out-for-our-future-selves kind of way, a vote for the super rich is a vote for our American dream...or so the logic goes.  However, if we look at the facts concerning income inequality in America, the truth of the matter is that the "American Dream" as we know it is a falsehood and we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, and run amok.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Reviews-Barnes &Due, N.K. Jemisin and Stephen King

Underwood, Due and Barnes at NAACP Image Awards

In the Night of the Heat by Barnes and Due with Underwood
This book was written by Steven Barnes and his wife Tananarive Due with creative inspiration and some input by the actor Blair Underwood.
It's the second in a series but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. It's partly a retelling of the O.J. Simpson story combined with civil rights era mysteries. It features the writers' fallen hero, Tennyson Hardwick, one time ladies man, struggling actor, and informal private investigator/martial arts enthusiast. Hardwick turns down the request of an old girlfriend to help protect her cousin, the recently acquitted football star T.D. Jackson, from murder threats. Shortly afterwards T.D. Jackson is found dead from apparent suicide. Hardwick gets drawn into the case, much to the displeasure of the LAPD, and other more sinister parties.
Barnes lives in California and also works in the entertainment industry. Barnes has said that he thought O.J. was guilty as hell and that if he did have any hearsay inside information or ideas about how O.J. would have committed the crime and gotten away with it, a mystery novel certainly would be the place he'd put it...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Point-Counterpoint Guest Post: Why Obama WILL NOT Be Re-Elected Next Year

Today, The Urban Politico and The Uppity Negro have joined forces to tackle an impending question that has rapidly moved to the forefront of our collective minds in these recent days since we've officially arrived in the year 2011: Will President Barack Obama be re-elected next year?  It's a simple question but it doesn't necessarily have a simple answer.  Up until now, the answer to this question has been dismissed around the blogosphere as premature since the year "twenty-twelve" sounded like it was so far away.  But now we're here; 2012 is literally around just around the corner.  So it's time to ask ourselves - is this man going to actually be re-elected?  Today, the Uppity Negro will make the argument as to why Obama will NOT be re-elected next year, and we will do our best to make the argument as to why Obama WILL be re-elected next year.  The Uppity Negro weighs in after the jump:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Government Shutdown: T Minus 10 days and counting

Tomorrow, February 23, we can start the count down toward a government shutdown.  Unless both sides come together and compromise, the government will run out of money on March 4.  This compromise can include either fund the government at its current levels or at a reduced level.  If nothing gets done, the federal government will be closed for business.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker vs. The Wisconsin 14

Back during my former life as a law student I used to serve as the Treasurer for my school's Student Bar Association, which is basically the Congress-like body within each law school that governs how the school's student fees are spent.  I'll never forget this one session we had where things got so heated that one of the student representatives got up and walked out.  What made this particular session memorable is not the fact that the guy merely walked out but rather its how he walked out.  In the middle of all kinds of yelling and screaming and cursing, this guy patiently and quietly waited until he was recognized to speak by the chair and then he stood up, made a motion for a quorum call and then, upon hearing how many students representatives were necessary to maintain quorum, he remained standing and did a quick head count around the room.  After he completed his head count he turned to his two buddies (also student reps) and simply said two words: "let's go."  After all three of them walked out, the Secretary announced that we were, at that precise moment, 1 representative shy of the number of representatives necessary to have quorum.  In other words, this guy and his two buddies not only ended the heated debate on the issue that we were about to bring up for a vote, but he basically shut down our entire student government.  At the time, I couldn't appreciate that cat but I did have to respect his Gangster.

Fast forward to last week, Republican Governor Scott Walker, a product of the 2010 Republican Mid-Term election wave, introduced a bill into the Wisconsin State Senate that would have some negative effects for State workers and their union.  In a nutshell, his proposal would:

  1. Require State employees to double their current pension contributions to 5.8% of their salary
  2. Require State employees to increase their health insurance contributions from 5% to 12% of their salary
  3. Limit State employee salaries to no higher than the Consumer Price Index
  4. Eliminate collective bargaining rights for the State worker's unions on all issues except wage increases
The Wisconsin State Senate was set to entertain (and likely pass) a vote on Walker's bill until the 14 Democratic State Senators got up and walked out of the State Senate...and kept on walking right on out of the state of Wisconsin.  Because there are 33 State Senators in Wisconsin, and at least 17 are needed to maintain the quorum necessary to conduct State business, the Dems effectively shut down Wisconsin's state legislature.  Gangster.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Movie Review-Winter's Bone and White Pathology

The writer Ishmael Reed had a serious issue with the HBO series "The Wire". You can read about it here.
In short Reed viewed it as relying on stereotypes about black pathology for the voyeuristic entertainment of white people who refused to critically examine their own troubles. The creator of "The Wire", David Simon, didn't care for that characterization and battle was joined. I respect Reed and have learned a lot from reading his work. But I disagree with his take on "The Wire" though I definitely see his POV. I wonder what Reed would make of the movie "Winter's Bone" which examines white pathology and poverty in the Missouri Ozarks. No Black people were stereotyped or otherwise harmed in the making of this movie. "Winter's Bone" received four Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. It already won at Sundance.

The movie opens with Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) playing a tough as nails 17 year old who is the default leader of her family. Her brother and sister are too young to provide for themselves. Her mother is a catatonic depressive and her father is usually away selling or producing drugs. Methamphetamine is the drug of choice though cocaine is also shown. In short, this is a dysfunctional family. Like Michael in "The Wire", Ree takes care of things as best she can. We see her walking her siblings to school and making sure they do their homework.

The sheriff and bondsman arrive to inform Ree that her father Jessup has skipped bond. Ree doesn't really care about that but she learns that because her father signed over the family home to make bail, if he doesn't show for trial, the house will be forfeit. Because she is still a minor she would lose effective custody of her siblings.

This is unacceptable to Ree. Girl or not, Ree is still a Dolly and that means something to her.

Friday, February 18, 2011

YOU Make Me Sick!

As we watch Republicans attempt to bust up Unions, giving employers ultimate power in Wisconsin and Ohio, my attention was drawn to a news report last night. A study released in the Journal of Food Protection shows that almost 90% of those who work for a restaurant do not have employer-provided health insurance and lack sick days, and close to 80% don't get paid vacation time.

Not a big deal right? Minimum waged employees - who cares?

We should ALL care!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Obama Budget Proposal

President Obama released his 2012 budget proposal. I have written before and continue to believe that the President is not a particularly strong negotiator. He assumes goodwill on the part of his opponent. He seems to think it’s important to show his own benevolence by being a bit too generous at his starting points. This makes sense if you see your role as a facilitator bringing two sides together. It makes absolutely no sense if you are actually one of the partisans in the negotiations.  If I’m trying to purchase a house with an asking price of $90,000, I’m not going to start my offer at $100,500 and go UP from there. That makes no sense. If you were using a real estate agent that recommended such a strategy and who seemed rather chummy with the sellers, you might start to wonder just who the agent was representing.
Unfortunately I think that President Obama is at or near such a point now. His proposed 2012 budget shows that either he is still hopelessly lost in the fantasy of bipartisanship and/or is just a really bad negotiator.
You can read the budget for yourself here and here
There are some items worth highlighting because I think they represent some real problems with the budget. Consider that this proposed budget is what the President thinks he can get through Congress AND what he wants. I’ll repeat that. This proposed budget is what the President wants.
So what should progressives make of these things:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Great Ronald Reagan???

On February 6, conservatives across the country celebrated the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. From coast to coast, there were documentaries, celebrations, countless articles, tributes and political references made, and even a new "Forever" postage stamp. With everything going on, you would SWEAR that President Reagan somehow lead us into an era of prosperity and as far as Presidents go it was Washington, Lincoln and THEN Reagan - with a few others in between!

Even President Obama has often referred to Reagan as inspirational.

For the life of me... I'm trying to figure out why!

To begin, why is it that every African American I know remembers Reagan differently? Are there two Ronald Reagans (well... actually there is - his son - Ronnie Reagan - but you know what I mean).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Supreme Clientele

Justices are appointed for life to be above the political fray, to be a crucial check to Congress and the president, who mostly are driven by the political. But the vision of justices as impartial arbiters upholding the Constitution appears to be na├»vete considering several incidents in the past year. –

We know that Justice Thomas is reaping financial gain from groups who want to repeal the health care law. He received financial compensation from a group who benefits from the Citizens United decision and failed to disclose other information. Yet, when asked to recuse himself from decisions, Justice Thomas time and time again has said “no.” Judges on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) are supposed to recuse themselves sue sponte (on their own motion), unfortunately, this is on the “Honor System” and I hate to say it, but our SCOTUS is running extremely low in the honor department. If justices aren’t willing to remove themselves from decisions where they personally gain, it would be nice if the people could remove them. Sure, there is an impeachment process, but let’s be honest, in the history of the United States, only one Supreme Court Justice has ever been impeached, Samuel Chase.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Facebook, Twitter & Texting: The Miseducation of the Young Money Generation

Hat tip to Tablazines, FreshXPress, and AverageBro for featuring this article.

In my family, I happen to be the oldest of all my siblings.  On the opposite end of the spectrum from me is my kid brother who just recently graduated from high school.  Let me tell you about this character.  As a star athlete, my little brother was one of the most popular kids in his high school.  And the fact that he can dance like Chris Brown and Usher all but secured his permanent status among the "cool kids" and guaranteed his inclusion at all the parties where "anybody who's anybody" was sure to be in attendance.  In short, he was your quintessential teenager living the American dream.  Similarly, his entourage of young men and young women were equally as popular and successful in the high school universe.  All of them, including my brother, can recite the lyrics of the latest Drake or Nicki Minaj song at the drop of a dime and will argue with you to no end as to why they are the greatest rappers of all time.  In addition to music, all of them, including my brother, have all the latest gadgetry when it comes to electronic communication tools.  Blackberries and iPhones come standard issue with this group, and each device is, of course, equipped with the most current software applications for Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry messenger, AOL instant messenger, text messaging, etc.  You name it, they've got it.  If a kid so much as picked his nose in the back of Mr. Wilson's math class at 10:16am, by 10:17am 1500 other kids all over the school had status updates and live stream video of the same event.

This generation's rapid adaptation and instant utilization of state of the art communication devices and electronic media is arguably unparalleled by any prior generation in American history.  There's just one minor problem for my kid brother and his generation of IDK LOL OMG bandits: these kids can't f***ing read!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Music Review -Jimi Hendrix West Coast Seattle Boy

This release features four CD's and DVD footage from a man widely considered to be the greatest guitarist who ever walked the Earth (not that I really believe in "greatest" anything when it comes to art and music). It is also a deliberate attempt to emphasize Hendrix’s overlooked R&B, soul and jazz roots. So what's not to like? This must be the Holy Grail. Yes? Everyone should run out and get this, right? Not necessarily.
First off let me say what this release isn't. Unlike say How the West was Won by Led Zeppelin or Agharta by Miles Davis this is emphatically NOT a cohesive set of concert recordings or a fabled lost album.
This release will probably be of interest primarily to hardcore Hendrix fans or obsessive collectors. For the first person the desirability of this may depend on price. It opened at $69 on Amazon and is now fluctuating between $47 and $53. The stripped down version can be had for between $13 and $20.
 The second type of person obviously will buy it no matter what I write but he/she should at least pick it up used. Ok, enough caution, what about the music?

Friday, February 11, 2011

And here comes the SPIN! This time, it's Job Growth.

From the  Bureau of Labor Statistics
Remember when McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate in 2008?  One of the Republican talking points in her favor was that she was the governor of the "largest state in the union!"

WOW!  Sounds impressive doesn't it?  I mean, come on.  You can't go wrong when you are talking about experience!  This woman was the leader of the LARGEST state!  Now THAT is something you can put on your resume....... right?  WRONG! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nathan Bedford Forrest

“Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m”
-Nina Simone

JACKSON, Miss. - A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the "War Between the States." The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014.
"Seriously?" state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. "Wow."
Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading an 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.
Sons of Confederate Veterans member Greg Stewart said he believes Forrest distanced himself from the Klan later in life. It's a point many historians agree upon, though some believe it was too little, too late, because the Klan had already turned violent before Forrest left.
"If Christian redemption means anything — and we all want redemption, I think — he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words," Stewart said. "We should respect that."
And here we go again.  As Faulkner wrote “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”.  This is true of America in general, the South in particular and perhaps Mississippi most of all.  This is ultimately what these constant battles over history are about-whether it is textbooks in Texas,  Michele Bachmann’s whitewashing of the Founding Fathers or the never ending battles over the Civil War and associated symbols.  Who gets to define history?  Who gets to tell the story? That’s the question.  Here’s what one eyewitness had to say about the Fort Pillow massacre:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Republicans Be Careful What You Wish For - Tea Party Blocks GOP on Patriot Act

Remember back in November when all of the Republicans were jumping for joy and dancing in the streets at their recent "shellacking" of the Democrats during the midterm elections?  'Member?  You 'member!  Do you also remember all the Tea Party rhetoric about "taking their government back" from the establishment?  'Member? You 'member!  Because if you do remember then you have a better memory (or perhaps you just paid better attention) than the Republican party, because as it turns out, while John Boehner and the Republicans were enjoying a good cry over their victory at the polls last November, they missed out on an important lesson.   As the great Kelly Lebrock once said: "You had to be big shots didn't you? You had to show off. When are you gonna learn that people will like you for who you are, not for what you can give them? Well, in your race for power and glory, you forgot one small detail."  But unlike Wierd Science's Wyatt and Gary, the small detail here wasn't remembering to hook up the doll.  The small detail that the GOP overlooked here is this: the Tea Party doesn't like you guys either.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

O'Reilly's Pre-Superbowl Interview with Obama (VIDEO)

Even for a political junkie like myself, the last thing I want to be burdened with during the Superbowl is politics.  So I was surprised to see Fox (the network carrying the Superbowl this year) even go there with a pre-game interview between conservative show host Bill O'Reilly and the POTUS.  Nevertheless, the interview was actually interesting on a number of levels.  O'Reilly started off with Egypt and worked his way through the Florida Judge's ruling on the Health Care mandate, the "redistribution of wealth" claim from the Right, Obama's apparent move to the center, and then came out with the "people hate you" question statement that seemed to be more of a hat-tip to the Right who was watching then it was an actual substantive question for a sitting President.  Although some may find it inapropriate, I actually found the "but people HATE you" question quite interesting because it accomplished two things: (i) it managed to captured the tone of the entire interview in a nice memorable sound bite; and (ii) like many of the questions posed to Obama during the interview which were clearly intended to trip up the President, it actually backfired against O'Reilly when Obama was able to provide an intelligent answer each and every time.  In fact, you could probably summarize the interview's pattern as follows:

"Well what do you think about this [Right-Wing Presumption], Mr. President?"
"Well actually, Bill, [Dismantle Presumption and Clarify with Facts]."
"OK OK, but what about this [Right-Wing Presumption]?"
"Again, Bill, [Dismantle Presumption and Clarify with Facts]."
 [repeat for 14 minutes]

(see the interview after the jump)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Angry Black Woman Goes to the SuperBowl

If you're like most of us, during the Superbowl you look forward to the commercials as much as you look forward to the game (sometimes you look forward to the commercials more than you look forward to the game).  Over the years the Superbowl has given us some of the best commercials TV has to offer, like the E-Trade baby, the Bud-light and the "waaaaa-suuuuuup" guys and the infamous Spuds McKenzie dog.  At $2.6 Million/30Seconds, advertising agencies can get pretty creative.  This year, my personal favorites included the Doritos commercial where the guy licked the other guy's fingers after the other guy finished a bag of Doritos, the Volkswagon commercial where the kid dressed as Darth Vader used "the force" to start the car (with dad's help), and the Bridgestone Tire commercial where the guy ran around knocking everybody's blackberries and laptops out of their hands after he is told that he sent a "reply-all" e-mail that he shouldn't have sent.  One commercial that wasn't particularly funny but that is nonetheless causing a little bit of a stir among the blogosphere was the Pepsi Max commercial featured below.

In this commercial, you see a young black couple going through the trials and tribulations of trying to keep the young man on a diet.  Ever time the brother attempts to eat something that is bad for him, his girlfriend appears out of nowhere and either smacks him or snatches the food out of his hand.   In the final seconds of the commercial we see the young brother sit down on a park bench and enjoy a Pepsi Max and brace himself for the hit that never comes from his girlfriend who, surprisingly to him, approves of the beverage.  Then, in a last ditch attempt at humor, we see a White girl sit down at the bench beside the brother and flirt with him slightly, he smiles back, and the Black girlfriend, seeing this, throws her Pepsi Max can at the brother, who ducks, and she inadvertently hits the young White lady in the head; thus exposing the angry Black woman who constantly emerges to remind the Black community that we are losing our Black men to White women. But are we really? (video after the jump)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Urban Politico Celebrates Black History Month: Black women in SNCC

Sometimes we have happy accidents in life.  Things that seem far apart can come together quickly. Yesterday I was waiting to get a haircut at my normal barber.  After about two hours one of my old buddies from high school came in.  As it so happens he had just recently moved back into the area, gotten married and is a doctor affiliated with the local university.  For the longest time our common barber had been telling each of us that we had just missed the other fellow.  It was good to see him after more years than I care to remember.
But that’s not really the point of this mini-post.  A while back one of our commenters made a tongue-in-cheek reference to when were we going to feature some black women in the ongoing Black History series.  Believe it or not my high school friend’s mother just happens to be a writer who is one of the editors/co-authors of the book “ Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC” 
The book is a collection of interviews with and stories about the women who were a large number of the on-the-ground activists in SNCC-the people who put their jobs, well-being and lives on the line so that segregation could be defeated. They tell their stories in their own words.  As I have mentioned elsewhere it is quite easy to sell woof tickets in 2011 about how you would have done this or would have done that if you were around during the terror state dominant in much of the southern US and echoed in the North during the fifties and sixties.  But it’s always useful to hear first hand from the people who dealt with this.  How did they keep their sense of integrity and respect alive when faced with such vicious hate?  I always tip my hat to any black person born before 1950 or so because they went through some things I can’t imagine.
Anyway I can’t honestly offer this book a review because I just found out about it.  My barber has a copy now. And probably the next time I see my friend, I’ll get a copy from him.  But although I can’t review it I can say that if you are interested in what the movement was like, especially from the point of view of everyday women who participated in it, give this book a read.  I intend to do so. Or if you've already read it please feel free to share your impressions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Revolution Prevails? Egypt Ruling Party Resigns ***Breaking News***

According to Egyptian TV the ruling party of the country has resigned, including President Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, who was also said to be his father's successor.  President Mubarak has not resigned himself, but several key members of his cabinet has, as a good faith gesture, to ensure anti-government protesters that they are in fact serious about reform.

Huffington Post had this to say:

State TV said the ruling party's six-member Steering Committee of the General Secretariat stepped down and was replaced. The council was the party's highest decision-making body, and el-Sharif and other outgoing members were some of the most powerful -- and to many Egyptians, unpopular -- political figures in the regime.

El-Sharif was replaced by Hossam Badrawi, a party figure who had been sidelined within its ranks in recent years because of his sharp criticisms of some policies.
The new appointments to the body were largely young figures, one of the replacements Mohammed Kamal told The Associated Press. "It's a good change. It reflects the mood of change that is sweeping the country," he said.
Gamal Mubarak, who was a member of the Steering Committee, was widely seen as being groomed by his father Hosni Mubarak to succeed him as president. But Vice President Omar Suleiman promised earlier in the week that Gamal would not run for president in elections due in September.

Will this act bring peace to a burning Egypt?
Is Egypt's Government serious about reform or is this just for show?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Urban Politico Guest Post up at The Intersection of Madness & Reality

Go check out our guest post:

Racial Integration, School Funding, & the Battle for Memphis City Schools Charter

on Rippa's blog, The Intersection of Madness & Reality

The Urban Politico Celebrates Black History Month: African American Firsts

The Urban Politico would like to celebrate Black History Month by bringing you the first achievements by African Americans. Many African Americans broke down color barriers, forced a culture change or established a new way of doing things. During Black History Month, we will highlight their achievements.

Hiram Rhodes Revels

Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican, was the first African American to serve in the U. S. congress as a Senator from the state of Mississippi.  A minister and educator, Revels entered politics reluctantly, fearing racial friction and interference with his religions work.  Eventually, he won a seat in the Mississippi state senate launching his political career.  With the two senate seats vacated by Albert Brown and Jefferson Davis' when Mississippi seceded from the Union, after the Civil War, the state wanted to elect an African American to one of the seats.  Black legislators felt the move would “be a weakening blow against color line prejudice.” The Democratic minority also endorsed the plan, hoping a black Senator would “seriously damage the Republican Party.  After three days and seven ballots, on January 20, 1870, the Mississippi state legislature voted 85 to 15 to seat Hiram Revels in Brown’s former seat.  Highlighting this magnificent accomplishment, in the 140 years since Revels term, there have only been 5 African Americans (and only 1 African American Female) in the U.S. Senate.

Today, The Urban Politico salutes Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Urban Politico Celebrates Black History Month: African American Firsts

The Urban Politico would like to celebrate Black History Month by bringing you the first achievements by African Americans. Many African Americans broke down color barriers, forced a culture change or established a new way of doing things. During Black History Month, we will highlight their achievements.

Macon Bolling Allen

In 1844 in Portland, Maine, Macon Bolling Allen became the first African American licensed to practice law in the United States.  Shortly after being admitted as the first licensed Black American attorney to the bar in Boston (1845), he became the first Black American Justice of the Peace.  Allen was born free in Indiana in 1816, the same year Indiana was admitted as the nineteenth state to join the Union.  While in his twenties, Allen moved to Maine where he met General Samuel Fessenden, who established a law firm and took on Allen as an apprentice.  According to Maine law at that time, anyone of good moral character could be admitted to the bar. Allen was rejected, though, because he was not a citizen (born in Indiana before it joined the Union). Allen then applied to be admitted by examination. He passed, was recommended, and admitted. On July 3, 1844, Allen was declared a citizen of the State of Maine with good moral character.

Today, The Urban Politico salutes Macon Bolling Allen , the first African American Licensed to practice law in the United States. 

Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Zach Wahls:1 Iowa House:0

This week the Iowa House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Iowa State Constitution (62-37) to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in their entirety.  The proposed amendment, which must now pass the Iowa State Senate, would place Iowa among the minority of states that have taken constitutional measures to not only ban the recognition of gay marriage, but also ban the recognition of any other type of same-sex unions that would allow civil benefits between same-sex couples such as hospital visitation rights, tax benefits, family trust and estate rights, etc. 

Republican Rep. Rich Anderson had this to say in favor of the ban:

“If we remove the gender requirement for marriage, there is no rational basis to define the number. So we open up the possibility of the constitutional recognition of polygamous relationships. That’s a slippery slope. And I don’t know where the logic is to draw the line. We wouldn’t recognize incestuous relationships between two consenting adult brothers and sisters. That raises up within us disgust, and we can’t accept that. We draw lines. We define marriage.”

But before the Iowa House went on to pass the measure, it received a good old fashioned grade-A PWNING from a 19 year-old engineering student, the likes of which have not been seen since Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade single-handedly dismantled the Baird School for boys.   Hear the oral argument from 19 year-old Zach Wahls after the jump:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Urban Politico Celebrates Black History Month: African American Firsts

The Urban Politico would like to celebrate Black History Month by bringing you the first achievements by African Americans. Many African Americans broke down color barriers, forced a culture change or established a new way of doing things. During Black History Month, we will highlight their achievements.

Thomas Mundy Peterson

In 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African American to vote  in the United States after the passage of the 15th Amendment.  Considered a Reconstruction Amendment, following the Civil War, the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen suffrage based on that citizen's race, color and previous conditions of servitude - slavery.  Born to slave parents, Thomas Mundy Peterson, a Republican, voted in an election held in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on March 31, 1870.  He was a recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Gold Medal.

Today, The Urban Politico salutes Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first African American to vote in the United States.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pro-Life VS Pro Choice: The Man's Version

Paul and Sue stumbled outside of a party one Friday night; they had attended for a mutual friend. As they flagged down a cab, drunk from the party and eager to get out of the winter air, they continued the make out session that had begun earlier inside the function they had just left. The heated session continued in the cab and into Paul’s bed, a most perfect ending to what had began as a friendly conversation. Now fast forward 3 months later when Sue calls Paul, whom she had not spoken to in 3 months to tell him that she is pregnant with his baby and that even though when the condom broke and she claimed that the morning after pill she would take the next day was a sure thing, he was about to be a daddy.

Health Care Debate (Again)

Roger Vinson, a US federal district court judge in Florida, ruled that the Health Care Reform bill was unconstitutional in its entirety.
Judge Vinson is a Reagan appointee. His decision was therefore trashed by people opposed to it as “judicial activism” or “making policy from the bench” or all the other usual comments that one side often makes when it loses in court. This language is normally used by the Right, who has made a cottage industry railing against “unelected judges” so it’s ironic to see some people on the Left losing their religion over this.
When those opposed to the HCR individual mandate raised questions or voiced their concern about it they were mostly dismissed in the corporate media and blog-o-sphere as libertarian cranks, right wing mouth breathers, insane die hard anti-Obama racist nutsos, desperado anti-corporate leftist zealots, or loony anti-tax militia types that lived in the woods and married their relatives. I don’t deny that some of those people are in the opposition. I actually know a few.
But I don’t think one can automatically ignore an argument based on the author. I lack the time, space and frankly the expertise to go into a long discourse here of the whys and wherefores of the various case histories of tax law, federal government limitations or Commerce Clause interpretations, so my fellow co-blogger, The Janitor, and I decided to post our dialogue on this issue in point-counterpoint format to spark discussion on the following question:
What are the limits to the power of the federal government?

The Urban Politico Celebrates Black History Month: African American Firsts

The Urban Politico would like to celebrate Black History Month by bringing you the first achievements by African Americans.  Many African Americans broke down color barriers, forced a culture change or established a new way of doing things.  During Black History Month, we will highlight their achievements.

Alexander Twilight

In 1823, Alexander Twilight became the first African American to earn a bachelor's degree from an American college or university, Middlebury College.  He attend Middlebury College from 1821 until his graduation in 1823.  A true Renaissance Man, Mr. Twilight was a minister, educator, and politician.  In 1836, he was the first African American elected to public office as a state legislator, serving in the Vermont General Assembly. 

Today, The Urban Politico salutes Alexander Twilight, the first African American baccalaureate and legislator.