Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Reviews-Game of Thrones, Hit Me Fred, The Big Book of Pulps

A Game of Thrones
By George RR Martin
I finished this book, thankfully before the HBO series completed. Some people have compared it to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (LOTR). I enjoyed LOTR. However Tolkien minimized the ability of lust and greed to motivate people.

For example, when Aragorn arrives to claim his kingdom, the last King had been missing for about ONE THOUSAND YEARS.  At the story's end the Steward eagerly hands over rulership. While such unwavering duty, honor and loyalty was indeed the ideal of the Anglo-Saxon, Finnish, Celtic and Norse myths that inspired Tolkien, real life events were messier.  Were Tolkien more realistic, the Stewards would have declared themselves Kings ages ago. If Aragorn showed up, the current King would have arranged a very quick execution for Aragorn and his supporters.

The noted sci-fi/fantasy author Michael Moorcock once referred to LOTR as "Epic Pooh". I think that is too harsh but lust is not mentioned in LOTR. By contrast, the concept as lust as one of the deadliest sins is central to Malory's "King Arthur". Arthur is of course conceived by rape and later is tricked into impregnating his half-sister, who raises a son, Mordred, who will kill his father. How's that for family values? In LOTR Aragorn is away from his betrothed for decades and never seems to seek out feminine companionship. Right....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Post - Communication is the Key:The Path to Prosperity vs The People's Budget

Today's Guest Post comes to us from long-time reader, first poster on The Urban Politico - MsChan.  So please show her some love in the comments below as we explore the Path to Prosperity plan vs the People's Budget.


On April 5, Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District Representative Paul Ryan released the highly anticipated GOP budget plan – The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. I downloaded the 73-page color PDF and took a stab at it. The scope of the plan served as a comparison guide, (Obama v The GOP) including graphs, side-by-side analysis, clear language, and repetitive GOP talking points. This told me two things; the GOP understands their audience (language, comparison and graphs) and they clearly have a communications strategy – that is kicking our ass! I decided not rush to judgment and test the waters for a possible democratic strategy. I called my Congressman Charlie Rangel’s Office to inquire. Just as I thought, there was no freaking strategy! Congressman Rangel’s office referred me to the President’s February announced budget, which is over 1000-pages. Why didn’t the Democrats have a 25-page plan to hit back at the GOP the next day? Why did they allow Paul Ryan’s plan to shine, receive praise and glory? Why can’t democrats win the communications war?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Like and Equal are not the same thing at all!

Let's say that Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Duane Allman, Eddie Hazel or BB King,after picking up a guitar and passing through an arduous 10,000 hours or more of constant practice, repetition and study which put them on the verge of greatness, had then been told that they needed to forget about their music dreams and go drive a truck because there weren't enough women that were interested in playing the guitar. Assume this was backed up by law.
That sounds ridiculous yes?
That is the state of college athletics today.  It is one thing to do outreach to people, remove barriers and confront stereotypes, or from time to time give a nod to someone who is equally qualified but underrepresented in a given field. I support that. I support affirmative action and expanding the field of applicants.

But to rule as a matter of law that everyone must be doing the same thing in the same proportion is something I don't support. In fact I think it's insanely misguided. This is current policy thanks to Title IX.

The recent NYT article on Title IX implementation made it clear that many colleges are having to cook the books to meet the requirements.
Ever since Congress passed the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX, universities have opened their gyms and athletic fields to millions of women who previously did not have chances to play. But as women have surged into a majority on campus in recent years, many institutions have resorted to subterfuge to make it look as if they are offering more spots to women.

At the University of South Florida, more than half of the 71 women on the cross-country roster failed to run a race in 2009. Asked about it, a few laughed and said they did not know they were on the team.

At Marshall University, the women’s tennis coach recently invited three freshmen onto the team even though he knew they were not good enough to practice against his scholarship athletes, let alone compete. They could come to practice whenever they liked, he told them, and would not have to travel with the team.
At Cornell, only when the 34 fencers on the women’s team take off their protective masks at practice does it become clear that 15 of them are men. Texas A&M and Duke are among the elite women’s basketball teams that also take advantage of a federal loophole that allows them to report male practice players as female participants.

News Flash: Hip Hop is Homophobic

Who would've thunk?  An eight-year-old, animated, gangster wanna-be, Riley, from The Boondocks, dropped mad knowledge on us and relationship between the black (mostly hip hop community) and the gay community.

Riley: Pause! You said something gay, so you've gotta say "no homo," or you're a homo.
Granddad: I'm not saying "no homo." All I said was I'm going to give him everything I've got.
Riley: Pause, Granddad! That is gay, and you've gotta say "no homo." How am I supposed to know you're not a homo, Granddad, if you don't say "no homo."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

UPDATE - White House Releases Long Form Birth Certificate: Debunking the Birther Theory...Again


Today, April 27, 2011, the White House released President Obama's long-form birth certificate.  In a statement released by the White House's Communications Director:

"The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country.  It may have been good for politics and good T.V., but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country."

Obama gave a press conference on it this morning where he said, "I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.  But I am speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve."

Donald Trump has already taken full credit for the release.

"I feel I've accomplished something really really important and I'm honored by it."  Trump feels this development will give his own presidential prospects a boost as he was the only one to get the document released, which has long been requested.

We didn't really get any "new" information from the long form birth certificate.  We see that he was born at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital.  He was born on Oahu Island in Honolulu (just as he said).  His father was born in Kenya, and was a student (just as was said before).  And his mother was Caucasian, born in Wichita, Kansas.  It has the signature of the doctor and the registrar.  Basically, it repeats what President Obama has been saying the entire time.  Maybe now we can have closure.

Psst - it's still called a "Certificate of Live Birth", I'm quite sure sure, someone will complain about that.

Is this a victory for the 'birthers' since they forced the president to acknowledge this race-based crap?

Will it back fire on the White House?

Will we see the poll numbers of those who believe the president was foreign born go down? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Monkey on the Tea Party's Back (

"Now you know why – no birth certificate!" - Marilyn Davenport
I was going to post on the recent email sent around by Republicans in California, but I like what Lee A. Daniels and Stacy Patton had to say in their OP-Ed over at

By Lee A. Daniels and Stacey Patton, Special to the NNPA from –

Another day. Another outrageous example of how deeply the election of a Black American of mixed parentage has unhinged some conservative White Americans.

And further evidence, thanks to Marilyn Davenport, a Tea Party member who sits on the Republican Party central committee of Orange County, California, that the Tea Party continues to be the organizational refuge for some significant number of them.

Recently a local newspaper reported that Davenport, a longtime party committee member, had sent to some fellow committee members and others an e-mail depicting President Obama as belonging to a family of chimpanzees: his face was superimposed on a chimpanzee that was clearly meant to be the offspring of a male and female chimpanzee - also in the photo.

Underneath the doctored photo, Davenport, who is 74, had typed the words: “Now you know why – no birth certificate!”

Debt Ceiling In a Nutshell

Just coming off the heels of the hotly debated FY2011 budget, we are staring yet another financial issue right in the face.  The Debt Ceiling.  Traditionally, unless you are a political nerd, you may not know what the Debt Ceiling is or why you should even care.  And, traditionally, I would say you are correct.  Historically speaking, it has never been a "real" issue.  Since the debt limit's introduction in 1917, each and every time the need to raise the limit came up, Congress never failed to raise it.  Of course, NOW there is the issue of not raising the ceiling and letting the country go into default.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A refusal is not the act of a friend-John Boehner and Cinco de Mayo

If you work for other people, especially in an office setting, there's a good chance that from time to time you will have to pretend interest in boring stories concerning other people's children, grandchildren or spouses. Sometimes you may even have to accept invitations to luncheons, going away parties/dinners, welcome aboard lunches for new hires, office outings to baseball games or bowling alley trips and so on.
I could do without most of this, personally but this is how human beings generally behave. You come to my events and I'll come to yours. Unless you are the top boss and can tell everyone exactly where to stick that invitation or you are so low on the totem pole no one even cares to invite you in the first place, chances are you've had to attend some of these functions or occasionally even, God forbid, organize them. I HATE these things but I go to just enough so that when year end reviews are due, hopefully no one -or at least no one really important- is saying "Who the hell is Shady? I only know of him because he never socializes with anyone. To hell with a raise/promotion for him!!!

John Boehner evidently feels it's time to do away with such niceties.
In a reversal of congressional tradition, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has decided not to host a reception next month to mark Cinco de Mayo, according to his spokesman.
In the place of a Speaker's reception, Boehner has encouraged the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to host the event. 
Cinco de Mayo, or 5th of May, commemorates the victory of Mexican forces over French soldiers in 1862, and has evolved into a celebration of Mexican heritage in the United States. 
Previous House Speakers have hosted an annual event to mark the holiday.
Initial reports about the cancellation of the annual event surfaced last week, prompting Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) to pen a letter to the Speaker, asking him to reconsider. The request, however, was rejected, and a spokesman for Boehner confirmed Monday that the reception is off.
The reasons behind the reversal are likely political, reflecting the tougher stance on immigration reflected in the new Republican House majority.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Music Reviews-Burnt Sugar, Eddie Harris, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Louis Prima

Burnt Sugar
Burnt Sugar is a musical collective, predominantly but not exclusively made up of African-American players, that creates uncategorizable music. The nominal "leader" is Greg Tate, our book of the month author . Sometimes the band follows Tate's conduction; sometimes there is collective improvisation. Burnt Sugar owes debts to Sun Ra and P-Funk among others. But Burnt Sugar's closest parallel (and its seminal influence) was the Miles Davis' band of the late sixties and early seventies. Miles was becoming more fascinated by the rhythmic and melodic musical steps forward by such people as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Stockhausen, Sly Stone as well as the hardcore blues of Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed. He may have also been trying to reconnect with younger audiences. The addition of electric instruments and the adoption of funkier and LOUDER basslines outraged many jazz purists some of whom (Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch) still haven't forgiven Miles to this day, long dead though he is.
Burnt Sugar features many women as full band members, not just singers but instrumentalists and writers, which makes it rather unusual, even today. 
So if you can appreciate a band that can  flow through avant-garde jazz, bebop, Chicago blues, jump blues, formless chaos, heavy metal, soul, reggae, modern R&B, dance, trance, soul jazz, hard rock, funk, funk-rock, Western Classical, Calypso, blues-rock, Indian drones, Middle eastern inspired rhythms, Eastern European chants, West African polyrhythms and many many more styles and still sound good, this might be the band for you.  Check out their versions of James Brown's "Bring it Up" and Max Roach's "Driva Man".

Friday, April 22, 2011

Have We Become Ungovernable?

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood. From sea to shining sea!

~America the Beautiful           

It appears some of our greatest strengths have now become some of our greatest weaknesses.  There was a time when I sincerely thought that no matter what, we were ALL Americans.  That was our great strength.  We were a melting pot.  Yeah, I know... it sounds kinda sappy - I KNOW - but it's true. 

For the amber waves of grain in the Nebraskan cornfields, to the purple mountain majesties in Colorado, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, we were brothers (and sisters).  And outside of the EXTREME minority, we all wanted to see each other succeed and prosper.

Not so much anymore.

Not only does the American public feel that Republicans and Democrats can't work together, but that they won't work together.  To make matters worse, the rift between the two parties has trickled down to the public and now the under-informed, strictly ideological, single-issue voters are wrecking havoc with one another.  Is this the first time our country has regressed to such a point?  NO, but the last time it went past the point of no return, it ended with a war between the states, the "formation" of a separate government, and the death of the president of the United States.

In CaseYou Missed It: Obama's Facebook Town Hall Meeting (VIDEO)

In case you missed it, we'll provide the recent townhall meeting that was hosted and streamed live by Facebook.  Facebook's creator, Mark Zuckerberg, moderated the townhall with live questions for the President.

Be sure to peep the question from Facebook employee Loren Hale in Part 3 of the Video where she asks the President about how the narrative got shifted from (A) Jobs for the people to (B) the spending and deficit of the Government, and how Obama plans to shift the narrative back to (A) Jobs for the people.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trump All Talk & No Substance, Gets PWNED on Roe v. Wade (VIDEO)

"Open your eyes, Gail [Collins], there’s at least a good chance that Barack Hussein Obama has made mincemeat out of our great and cherished Constitution!"
- Donald Trump, April 8, 2011, New York Times

For as much as conservatives love to reference the Constitution, I'm always amazed at how very little they actually know about it and, for that matter, the Supreme Court.  They are correct to recognize the fact that the Constitution is what makes our country great because it is, after all, the very document that created our country. Without it, the United States of America would no longer exist.  Literally.  So its quite alright for anybody (even our presidential hopefuls) to give a shout out to the Constitution from time to time, but if you do we're going to need you to actually know something about it.  Like...oh I dunno...what it actually says would be a good place to start I suppose.

Now before I get to the PWNE-AGE of Donald Trump, a quick word on the Constitution.  I'm quite sure that we could randomly pick any sentence out of the Constitution and my personal interpretation of that sentence would be different from your personal interpretation of that same sentence.  And it also stands to reason that if we were to ask 100,000 people about that same sentence from the Constitution, we would probably get 100,000 different answers.  With all this room for ambiguity and personal interpretation, how in the world can anybody ever know what the Constitution actually says?  Well, fortunately for you and I, the Founding Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, created this thing called the Supreme Court.  And the Supreme Court's job is to provide all 300 Million Americans with ONE interpretation for each sentence, clause and phrase contained in the Constitution.  So, for example, we don't have to guess if there is a right to privacy in the Constitution because the Supreme Court has already established for us a long time ago that there is.  With this in mind, let us now turn to "The Donald."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TSA Pats Down Six Year Old Girl

I was going to write out a very long essay explaining why I think these TSA searches are demeaning, illegal and unconstitutional. Many of the TSA's processes need to be stopped for good.  But honestly I  (a) don't have the time, (b) am far too angry having watched that smirking saurian Napolitano defend the practice on MSNBC's Morning Joe and (c) think that this video and the parent's statements tell the truth of what all this is about far more than I ever could hope to do.

“Nobody likes to see those kinds of things, in we doing that even though it was done professionally according to the protocols,” Napolitano said. “But, what TSA is doing is reexamining those protocols all the time. It’s all in relation to threat – what is the threat? And one of the things we do see is if you categorically remove a group from any type of screening, well those who seek to do us harm will then exploit that group. So you have to be very careful on how you do it.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hell Hath Frozen Over: AZ Gov. Jan Brewer Vetoes "Birther" Bill

Holy unbelievable acts of common sense we never thought we'd see in our own lifetime, Batman! 

No this is not April fool's day.  You read that headline correctly. Arizona's Governor, Jan "I can't remember my lines" Brewer, a known conservative who just months ago led a Constitutionally suspect charge against illegal immigrants in her state, used her gubernatorial veto power last night to block a bill passed by both of Arizona's state legislative houses last week that would have required Presidential candidates to show their birth certificates in order to be included on the ballot in Arizona (because apparently States are dictating the terms of National elections now???).  Just when it seemed like there was no stopping the great state of Arizona from adding yet another law based on the fears of the fringe right-wing tea party, Governor Brewer comes out of "Left Field" (pun intended) and vetoes a bill that was rooted in "Birther" conspiracy theory hysteria.   Per the NY Daily News:

"I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their 'early baptismal or circumcision certificates'...this is a bridge too far...this measure creates significant new problems while failing to do anything constructive for Arizona."
*golf clap*

Monday, April 18, 2011

Michigan Republicans Attack Democracy

I'm in charge now you see.

Haven't you ever wondered, once a representative who differs politically from you, has said or done something that you find spectacularly stupid or offensive, what a nice thing it would be if the person just wasn't in office any more OR had his authority limited to something more appropriate to his intelligence, say for example asking you "Paper or plastic today?"

You probably have.

Unfortunately the flaw in this here republic is that people get to vote on their elected representatives, no matter how stupid you may think they are or how immoral you may find their political positions. So this means, absent term limits, internal legislative rules or criminal convictions, someone you don't like may hold her elected position with all the authority of that position for as long as she likes, no matter how much damage she may do to her constituency. Bottom line is that the people get to decide on their elected representatives. Period.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Movie Reviews-Glengarry GlenRoss, The Godfather, Your Friends and Neighbors

Glengarry GlenRoss
A long time commenter, Molly, asked what is it with men and The Godfather? I discuss some of that in the following review but another classic film that defines and debates masculinity is Glengarry GlenRoss. Even more than The Godfather, this film explores rigid ideas about manhood. And if you don't fit within those conceptions, hit the bricks pal, cause you are going out! This film was directed by James Foley but it was written by David Mamet and based on Mamet's play. It's Mamet's film. It had an all star cast (Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, and Al Pacino).

A group of real estate salesmen, having failed to meet their bosses' expectations are given one last chance to redeem themselves. I'll stop here and let Alec Baldwin explain it. He was truly at the top of his game here and could not be touched. He almost won an Oscar for this and should have. This scene was also "lifted" and used in Boiler Room. I used to work for someone like this character. I didn't always enjoy it but I did get better at what I do.

Obviously with that sort of incentive the salesmen take a variety of steps in order to keep their jobs. But don't be fooled by the sales setting. This film is really about competition among men and how men (and society) define men based on $ucce$$ or lack thereof. Good film.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Illegal Immigration Backlash-Coming Soon to your state?

This will be a very short post (by my standards) because I have tons more to say on this issue and want to organize my thoughts better for later discussions. But in case you missed it, there is another immigration enforcement law controversy brewing in a US state. This time it's Georgia, not Arizona. However the law is very close to what Arizona tried to do. Basically the state intends to, via its police powers, make life rather unpleasant for illegal immigrants. If someone is suspected of committing a crime the police may verify immigration status. Georgia also intends to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to get hired.
I can't speak authoritatively on the constitutional issues although some of my blog partners certainly could and likely will. I am more interested in the political and social implications. The new Census data shows that the Hispanic population in Georgia grew 96% in the last decade while nationwide a full 22% of all children were Hispanic . Hispanics now outnumber Blacks in most metro areas.
Overall the Hispanic population grew four times faster than the US population.
In short this country's demographics are changing rather dramatically and there is a growing number of people across the board who are more than a little peeved at this. They are also convinced that it's been done via illegitimate means (i.e. illegal immigration) Of course it's not just Hispanics who are illegal immigrants but it's safe to say that's the group most partisans on this issue have in mind.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Donald Trump: "The Blacks" are to blame for Obama (Audio)

You know...

I wasn't going to say a damn word about Donald Trump and his pandering to the lunatic fringe of the Tea Party with his birther mess.

I figured in time, even if he decided to run for president and he made it past the Republican Primary, more sensible minds would prevail and Trump would lose.  I figured Trump was a businessman.  He saw Sarah Palin climbing into the top 1% with her lunacy, so far be it for him not to capitalize.  And capitalize he has, leading in the polls for the Republican candidate and telling people to watch his show for his presidential announcement. 

Again, I wasn't going to say a word.  But damn it, he forced my hand!

Obama's Long Term Budget: The Start of the 2012 Campaign? (VIDEO)

The Urban Politico team watched the President's live speech yesterday afternoon about the long term national budget, and we couldn't help but notice that the President drew a few lines in the sand on some of the more contentious budget items between Democrats and Republicans.  The speech served as a well timed shot across the bow of Republican ideology at a time where the progressive Left has been waiting for the President to take a stand against the Republicans on, well, anything really.  And he did just that.  In a well crafted visual, the President put abstract budget-talk into a real-life context, saying this about the Republican's plan to provide tax cuts to the rich:

Republicans want to “give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs.”

“That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m president,” he pledged, earning rare applause from his mostly silent audience at George Washington University.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Start the movement: Ask WHY NOT?

"By saying we must increase taxes on the American people--as his budget does-- my response will be clear; tax increases are unacceptable and are a nonstarter."

This was Leader John Boehner's quote in response to questions about Obama's reduce-the-debt discussion.

Look, I have been a critique of President Obama and some of his recent "deals" with the Republican Party.  But I do have to take issue with the Republican Party's attempt to act like raising the taxes of the richest 1% is raising the taxes on everyone.  Why are they protecting that 1% as if they represent the entire country when they CLEARLY do not? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Airing Dirty Laundry: Cornel West v. Al Sharpton (VIDEO)

Despite the relatively high approval rating for Obama within the Black Community (85% as of this month), there is a sharp (but often unspoken) divide among Blacks towards the President.  This divide generally splits into two large camps: (1) those who feel that the President has not addressed the Black Agenda, and (2) those who feel that the President is addressing it (we've previously written on this divide HERE).  This divide came to a head in front of a national audience last night on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" in a manner that quickly deteriorated into an embarrassing display of veiled personal attacks cloaked in merit-based points relating to the Black Agenda.  Public displays of buffoonery aside, the exchange (hopefully) served as a reminder to some and a wake-up call to others that there are some very valid concerns voiced by both sides of the divide that need to be addressed by this country.  And when I say "by this country" I mean by President Obama, Congress (including the Congressional Black Caucus), the Judiciary, State and local officials, Black "leaders" (including Black Academia), community organizers, and the entire Black Community at large.  Oh Yes, this includes you too.

By The Time I Get To Arizona: Part III - Fed Appeals Court Stops AZ's Immigration Law

With all the media attention on the controversial Republican Governors of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida, many of us may have become derilect in our duty to pay our respects to the original gangsta who kicked all of this Republican Governor controversy off in the first place - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  That's right.  Ya'll musta forgot.  It seems only yesterday that Governor Brewer and crew announced their new law to the country that targets Mexicans sought to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the State of Arizona.  Racial discrimination aside, what made this law so controversial on a national stage is that it required local police to regulate immigration which is a job that belongs solely to the federal government.  Typically, states are precluded from doing things that the Constitution specifically assigns to the federal government - like creating the post office, printing money, declaring war, signing treaties with foreign countries, etc.  However, supporters of Arizona's law have argued that since the federal government has failed miserably to live up to its duty to police immigration, the States have therefore been forced to take matters into their own hands.  Maybe so, but is it legal for a State like Arizona to do what it did?

Monday, April 11, 2011

That isn't rain Mr. President

The most recent budget negotiations reminded me of a Quentin Tarantino joke:

This guy comes into a bar, walks up to the bartender. Says, "Bartender, I got me a bet for you. I'm gonna bet you $300 that I can piss into that glass over there and not spill a single, solitary drop." The bartender looks. I mean, we're talking, like, this glass is like a good ten feet away. He says, "Now wait, let me get this strait. You're tryin' to tell me you'll bet me $300 that you can piss, standing over here, way over there into that glass, and not spill a single drop?" Customer looks up and says, "That's right." Bartender says, "Young man, you got a bet." The guy goes, "Okay, here we go. Here we go." Pulls out his thing. He's lookin' at the glass, man. He's thinkin' about the glass. He's thinkin' about the glass. Glass. He's thinkin' about the glass, glass. Thinkin' about his dick. Dick, glass, dick, glass, dick, glass, dick, glass, dick, glass, dick, glass, dick, glass. And then, *foosh*, he lets it rip. And he-he's pisses all over the place, man. He's pissin' on the bar. He pissin' on the stools, on the floor, on the phone, on the bartender! He's pissing everywhere except the f***ing glass! Right? Okay. So, bartender, he's laughing his f***in' ass off. He's $300 richer. He's like, "Ha, ha, ha, ha!" Piss dripping off his face. "Ha, ha, ha, ha!" He says, "You f***ing idiot, man! You got it in everything except the glass! You owe me $300 punta." Guy goes, "Excuse me just one-one little second." Goes in the back of the bar. In back, there's a couple of guys playing pool. He walks over to them. Comes back to the bar. Goes, "Here you go, Mr. Bartender, 300." And the bartender's like, "What the f*** are you so happy about? You just lost $300, idiot!" The guy says, "Well, see those guys over there? I just bet them $500 a piece that I could piss on your bar, piss on your floor, piss on your phone, and piss on you, and not only would you not be mad about it, you'd be happy."

President Obama, YOU are the bar tender! 

How Do You Just "Find" 14,000 Votes?

In America, there is no right more precious to the people than the right to vote.  The vote is how "we the people" hold our government accountable to us.  If we like a certain idea, we vote for it.  If we dislike a certain candidate, we vote against them.  No matter what you believe in, no matter what your cause or issue, this country prides itself on the fact that for over 200 years we have successfully governed ourselves not by violence but by voting.  Without the vote, the people literally have no voice in the laws that affect their daily lives.  Every citizen deserves the right to vote, and every vote counts.  That being said, nothing makes the Founding Fathers turn over in their graves quicker than when somebody's vote is not counted.

This past week, the State of Wisconsin (yes that state with all the union issues) held an election to decide one of its Supreme Court Justices.  [*yes, some states elect their judges but that's a whole other blog topic*] Although neither candidate officially belongs to a political party, the Democratic-backed candidate is JoAnne Kloppenburg and the GOP-backed candidate is incumbent Justice David Prosser.  Now what makes this story so interesting is that after all the recent drama between Wisconsin's newly elected Republican Governor, Scott Walker, and the public worker's unions, Wisconsin voters have had a change of heart.  19 counties that went for Walker in the infamous November 2010 election this time flipped and went for the Democratic-backed candidate, JoAnne Kloppenburg.  And after all was said and done, approximately 1.5 million Wisconsins voted and the Democratic-backed Kloppenburg won the election by a narrow 200 votes...

...or so we thought.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Book of the Month: "Everything but the Burden" by Greg Tate.

"Everything but the Burden: What white people are taking from Black Culture" 
Greg Tate

From Publisher's Weekly:
There's an old remark to the effect that if you toss a Harvard boy in a locked room with a ghetto kid for a month, well, who'll come out sounding like whom? This collection, edited by Village Voice critic Tate (Flyboy in the Buttermilk), attempts a sociology of that transaction, as repeated perpetually throughout American culture. Contributors including Carl Hancock-Rux (on Eminem), Hilton Als (on Richard Pryor) and Renee Green (on a complex of film and social theory) advance considerations more specifically directed than Norman Mailer's classic "The White Negro." 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Reviews-Chuck Berry, The Mob, and Obama

Brown Eyed Handsome Man
By Bruce Pegg
What thoughts first come to mind when you hear the words "Chuck Berry"?
The TRUE King of Rock-n-Roll? A countrified Black man and the MC Hammer of 1950's popular music? A Black man that was too friendly with white women?  An Oldie McOldster that hasn't done anything new since the early seventies? Someone who Keith Richards stole every lick from? The coolest guitarist ever who popularized such stunts as the duckwalk, riding the guitar, or playing behind his head?  A Brown Eyed Handsome Man? A true poet? A lazy one-trick musician? An extremely mercenary and bitter old man that demands cash up front and EXACT adherence to his contract?

Well all of these descriptions and more make up Mr. Berry's persona. The book Brown Eyed Handsome Man (the title is taken from a Chuck Berry Song) by Bruce Pegg is both a biography of Chuck Berry, a rehab of his image and an history of just how bad it was for Black people-in this context Black musicians- in the forties, fifties, sixties and seventies. I have said it before and I'll say it again and again. I have nothing but wonder and respect at any Black person that came of age before 1970 or so and still managed to keep his or her internal dignity intact. Because it wasn't always easy to do that.

This book discusses Chuck Berry's middle-class origins, his early brushes with the law, his mix of cautious integrationism and prickly if oft hidden pride in his musical skills, business acumen and blackness. "Maybelline", the song that could be said to jump start rock-n-roll was an adaptation and rewrite of an older traditional country tune, Ida Red. With Berry's deliberately "whitened" diction and a mixture of straight-eighth and shuffle rhythms, the tune was a big hit with white audiences but also led to such humiliations for Berry as being turned away from live performances when the promoters didn't know he was black.
Many such Black entertainers, athletes, and musicians have such stories to tell, of course-especially back in the fifties. Nat King Cole was brutally assaulted by the Klan. Bo Diddley's maracas player almost caused a riot/lynching when temporarily overcome by the music, he forgot where he was, jumped into the audience and started dancing with a shapely young Caucasian maiden. Although men like Berry and Diddley were idolized by millions, they STILL had to know their place. Failing to do so could be professionally, legally and personally costly. Ironically some of the same hoodlums who turned out en masse to protest integration or assault civil rights demonstrators were likely Chuck Berry fans. It's a hypocrisy that persists in America to this day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Politics of Compromise: Who's to blame for the shut down?

Compromise.  The first thing that comes to my mind is: finding common ground or agreement through communication. 

Sounds good, right?  Most of the country agrees that compromise is necessary for the government to function.  The only group that views compromise as a bad word, is the Tea Party.  Now that group has gone to congress and hijacked our government.

According to a study conducted by Allegheny College, a slight majority expressed a willingness to compromise verses standing firm on ideology.  However, when you look into the numbers, a majority of both liberals and independents wanted compromise.  But 65% of all conservatives - including 72% of those who identify themselves as VERY conservative - strongly favored standing firm on ideology over finding a compromise. 

A similar study conducted by the Pew Research Center just before the 2010 elections, found that more than twice as many Republicans (40%) as Democrats (19%) or independents (15%) said they would be less willing to favor a candidate willing to compromise.  Just like the study conducted by Allegheny College, the Pew Research Center found that 71% of those who identify with the Tea Party "Admire political leaders who stick to[their] positions" and refuse to compromise.

School Integration-What's in it for you???

People moving out/People moving in
Why/Because of the color of their skin
Run,Run,Run but you sure can't hide
Ball of Confusion-The Temptations

As you may have heard, Detroit has lost a lot of people.
The census report states that Detroit is currently home to about 713,000 people.  This means that Detroit stands to lose revenue sharing funds from the State of Michigan as well as from the Federal government. Detroit will also (unless the state legislature rewrites the laws) lose the ability to levy an income tax on non-Detroit workers or add fees to utilities bills or several other Detroit-specific actions. The reasons for the increasing population decline are myriad but are mostly centered on such issues as 1) crime 2) poor public schools 3) high taxes and high insurance costs 4) lack of job opportunity 5) older housing stock.
Of course the local political establishment demanded a recount but it’s rather unlikely to get one or reach the magic ceiling of 750,000 residents, which allow it access to all the items mentioned in the above paragraph. That’s all neither here nor there. Anyone paying attention locally would have seen this coming a long time ago. What IS interesting though is that unlike the initial wave of departures in the fifties or the accelerated exodus in the sixties or seventies, those leaving Detroit in waves now are mostly Black people. In fact proportionately so many Black people left the city that Detroit’s proportion of citizens who are white may have increased.  Again, there are still more reports to be released.
This Black hegira has had some positive and negative results. South East Michigan (Metro Detroit) is no longer the most segregated area in the nation.
We’re number 4. Whoopie. Believe it or not, 3 of the 10 most segregated census tracts are found in Michigan.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Boycotts Worked: Fox Terminates the Glenn Beck Show

We never thought we'd see the day.  Fox News actually shows Glenn Beck the door.  Who'd a thunk it?

Per the Associated Press:

Fox News Channel on Wednesday said it was dropping Glenn Beck's afternoon talk show, which has sunk in the ratings and suffered financially due to an advertiser boycott.
Fox and Beck said the show will end later this year.
Fox News and Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts, said they will work together to create other projects for Fox television and digital.
Beck was a quick burn on Fox News Channel. Almost immediately after joining the network in January 2009, he doubled the ratings at his afternoon time slot. Fans found his conservative populism entertaining, while Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert described Beck's "crank up the crazy and rip off the knob" moments.
He was popular with Tea Party activists and drew thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington last August for a "restoring honor" rally.
Yet some of his statements were getting him in trouble, and critics appealed to advertisers to boycott his show last summer after Beck said President Barack Obama had "a deep-seated hatred for white people."
More than 400 Fox advertisers told the company they did not want their commercials on Beck's show.
Viewers also began turning away. Beck's 5 p.m. ET show averaged 2.7 million viewers during the first three months of 2010, and was at just under 2 million for the same period this year, the Nielsen Co. said. His decline was sharper among younger viewers sought by advertisers.

Na Na Na Na...Na Na Na Na....Hey Hey Hey....Goooooood-Bye!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Connecting the Dots: MLK and Unions

Even if you're one of those people who doesn't keep up with (or who has purposely tuned out to) the news as of late, chances are you've probably still at least heard something about the thousands of people protesting the anti-union efforts of the new Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio.  Folks are camping out in state capital buildings, interrupting legislative sessions, talking about kicking the new Republican governors out of office and the whole nine.  The people have spoken.  And they are royally pissed off.

With all of this clamor, one might wonder "so what's the big deal?"  So some Republican governors want to get rid of the unions that represent state what?  State workers don't need unions, right?  They'll be fine on their own.  Why do we need unions anyway?  What's so good about them?  Maybe the Republican governors are right.  Let them kill the unions if they want to.  Who cares?  

Well, we know for a fact that one person who actually would care about the union trouble up in Wisconsin and Ohio right now is none other than the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be Tried at Gitmo After All ***UPDATE***

So after all of the debates back and forth, and the Obama Administration (by way of Attorney General Eric Holder) looking as if it had finally taken a stand against the Bush policies of old, at the end of the day the progressive base has been dealt another blow; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, will now be tried in a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay.

Now I can understand why the Right-Wing Bush-ites like Karl Rove and his ilk feel vindicated by the Administration's choice to double-down on Gitmo.  Not only does it serve to keep them out of jail for committing war crimes against humanity, but they also get the added bonus of being able to say "I told you so." But for the life of me, I still can't quite get my head around why people in this country, especially the families of 9/11 victims, feel that trying these terrorist suspects in military tribunals - as opposed to federal courts - is the "right" thing to do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Film Reviews-Irish Gangsters, Mama's Boys, Alien Invasions and more

The Town
This was a very entertaining film although it used virtually every known cliché of heist flicks/Irish gangster movies/action movies and ran maybe 20 minutes too long. Affleck plays the leader of a tight-knit clan of bank robbers. Affleck's father (Chris Cooper) is incarcerated for similar crimes. Affleck is determined not to make the same mistakes as his Old Man. Also look for a good bit of acting from the late Pete Postlethwaite, who plays an understatedly sinister Irish gangster boss who runs a floral shop. Shades of Dion O'Banion perhaps?

It was testament to Affleck's directing skills that the movie was this good as not every director can make an entertaining film from a story that includes such obvious tropes as "Hot tempered second-in-command", " Unfaithful girlfriend", "Racist Irish", "One Last Job", "An offer you can't refuse", " No cop can outdrive the Kid", "Just like his father", "Four man band", "The good girl", "It's quiet out there-Yeah too quiet", "You were like a brother to me", "I'm not going back to prison" and so on. Unlike the film Takers, this film puts a love story at the center. Affleck is MOTIVATED.  It has a few similarities to the underrated Bluehill Avenue.
The movie looks great (especially on HD/Blu-Ray) and really brings out the beauty of Boston and surrounding areas. Still if you've seen "Heat" or "Takers" you've already seen most of "The Town". The only question is do you like heist movies?

I didn't recognize any of the actors in this nifty little horror film and it was just as well because I had no expectations. It's a simple premise. Three college students (boyfriend/girlfriend and a second guy -best friend of the first guy) decide to go skiing together, despite the second fellow's open resentment at the fact that the girlfriend is taking up more of his friend's time.

Through a combination of stupidity and honest mistakes the trio is stranded in a ski lift between 50-100 feet off the ground when the ski resort closes down at night. The ski resort will not open again for four days as there is a holiday. The trio can't call for help as their cell phones are back in their lockers.

The temperature is dropping dangerously. Storms are approaching. They must decide whether they want to wait it out and risk frostbite/gangrene, jump down or try to climb down icy steel cables. A local pack of wolves is attracted to their cries for help. That last item was pretty ridiculous of course but I let it slide.

Even though this movie had a low budget and limited area of action it worked for me. It certainly didn't LOOK low budget. It felt like something that really could happen to careless people. Have you ever locked yourself out of your car/house or waited too long to get a car repair? Decisions have consequences and in this film they're grim. Maybe that's you up there in the lift. The acting was good but the move worked primarily because of the tension and suspense. In some respects this was a throwback to 70's movies in which directors assumed the audience actually had an attention span. The film manages to be scary without over the top gore.

Friday, April 1, 2011

We're the government-We know better than you!!!

Got to be free to do what I want
Walk if I want and talk if I want
Got to be free to say what I want
Make what I want and play what I want

I've got to be proud and stand up straight
And let people see I ain't nobody's slave
I've got to be free before it's too late
I've just got to be free
"Got to be Free"-Ray Davies

What is the single most defining positive characteristic of America? I would argue that it is freedom. It's the freedom of the individual to make his or her own decisions for better or worse. Although it's become associated with right-wing thinking the statement that "The government which governs least governs best" was actually first popularized by Henry David Thoreau  who by no means could be considered a right-winger.

Plenty of people disagree with what exactly "freedom" means or if people should even have freedom but fortunately those people are still in a minority in America. Unfortunately many of these folks do work in areas where they get their greedy little paws on legitimate authority and proceed to abuse it. We've all known some of these people.

Police can be the worst and most dangerous because they can actually kill you but whether it's the irritating bureaucrat who won't get off her large fundament to assist unless something is signed and notarized in triplicate and approved by nine different bosses or the procurement manager whose only answer to questions about process improvement is "We've always done it this way" or the crusading do-gooder who once elected to office, immediately tries to outlaw anything HE thinks other people might enjoy, such people ALWAYS have to be watched VERY carefully.

Unemployment Drops Again in March

Last month, national unemployment numbers (for February) dropped into the 8% range for the first time since this recession hit.  Fortunatley, the slow but steady trend has continued into the month of March where the unemployment rate droped by one point from 8.9% to 8.8%.  216,000 private sector jobs were created.

In March, the U.S. economy added 216,000 new jobs, beating Wall Street expectations and continuing a trend of solid job growth. This is the second straight month of gains in the 200,000 range -- the benchmark number that economists say the American economy must hit, month over month, in order to bring the unemployment down to pre-recession levels in 5 years.
The unemployment rate dropped by one percentage point to 8.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released this morning. The labor force participation rate held steady, indicating that the pool of millions of Americans who have grown too discouraged to seek work have not begun to return to the job market.


The economy added jobs in professional and business services (+78,000), health care (+37,000), leisure and hospitality (+37,000), and mining. Employment in manufacturing continued to grow as well (+17,000), while employment in state and local government continued to shrink. Local government has lost 416,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.

Is this proof positive that the stimulus is working?
Are the numbers painting a false picture due to the numbers of people who have given up trying?
Bottom line, is the Economy moving in the right direction?