Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott's Plan Backfires

There is a major misconception about recipients of public assistance in this country. Florida Governor Rick Scott convinced himself that welfare recipients in Florida were drug users, therefore making Florida tax-payers subsidizers of drug addiction. According to Governor Scott, studies showed that people on welfare use drugs much higher than people in the general population. Scott signed the bill in June and the law took effect on July 1st, requiring all welfare recipients to pay for the drug testing upfront, if they pass they will be eligible for a refund from the state. Well the results are in!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Hot Coffee" & Tort Reform: A Corp. Lawyer's Insight on Why Corp.'s Want U to Think it's a Good Idea

Since the HBO documentary "Hot Coffee" came out a few weeks ago, some of you have asked me for my 2 cents on it and on the broader issue of "tort reform" (defined after the jump) so that's what this post will try to address.   What makes this topic particularly interesting to me is the fact that I happen to be what you would call a "corporate lawyer," which means that I represent the very fortune 500 companies, Wall Street banks and other business entities that stand to benefit from a wide sweeping reform of America's tort system.  Thus, it would stand to reason that, as the legal counsel to these entities, I, too, should try to convince you here in this post that tort reform is good for America's economy and good for you because it helps to protect our job creating businesses from the millions of frivolous lawsuits generated every day by an overly litigious society.  Yes, I should try to convince you of that.  But I can't.

You see, the fact of the matter is that when you've seen what my fellow corporate attorneys and I have seen and you know what we've come to know about the kind of advantages that our big business clients have over the individual plaintiff when both parties walk into that courtroom, the notion that corporations need tort reform is like saying that Terry Tate needs a football helmet in order to tackle Paul in accounting.  That proposition simply does not line up with reality.

With that being said and, more importantly, without revealing anything that might get me fired from my day job, I'll give you guys as much of the inside scoop as possible as to why "Tort Reform" is not in the best interest of "we the people."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Slavery is Never Chic; The Black Experience Don't Come Cheap

Good morning boys and girls, dedicated readers of The Urban Politico. It is time for story time with The Storyteller. Today we're talking about the latest foolery to hit the Black community in America as well as the continued devastation caused by one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Now you may be thinking that foolery and catastrophe have nothing to do with each other, but trust in The Storyteller and you will see The Light of the Sun... Word to Jill Scott.

And now that I've mentioned Ms. Scott let me kick off the first story. Jilly from Philly, when she first stepped on the scene, was seen as this neo-soul Earth Mother. That homegirl sister-friend that every Black woman had could relate to. The kind of friend you shared clothes or swapped jewelry with. Jewelry like big thick wooden bangles or your favorite pair of hoop earrings. Well this past week the fashion industry took it upon themselves to rebrand your door knockers as "slave earrings." The culprit Vogue Italia.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene Info

For our East Coast readers, we hope you've taken all necessary precautions and observed any evacuation orders for your area.  For updated tracking info on Hurricane Irene go here:

NYC Evacuation Map:

New Jersey Evacuation Maps:

Philladelphia Public Transit Closing:

Virginia Evacuation List:,0,4501377.story

Maryland Evacuation:

And for your entertainment, a message from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

Music Reviews-Elmore James, Billy Joel, Rigoletto, and more

Elmore James
Slide guitar is one of the best known techniques in blues. Playing slide is one method of permitting the guitarist to temporarily turn the guitar into a fretless instrument and more easily reach those microtones, the notes between the notes that are not normally recognized in Western music but are essential in many non-Western musics, especially much African music. As blues is African-American music it is unsurprising that slide guitar became (somewhat stereotypically in present day) a blues guitar hallmark. BB King, who does not play slide, came up with his distinctive trilling technique by initially trying to imitate the slide sound of his cousin, Booker White.

There were and are many great slide players as well as guitarists who occasionally made use of a slide but were just as talented without one. Some of them I may mention in the future-Hound Dog Taylor, JB Hutto, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Booker White, Ben  Harper, Duane Allman, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Blind Willie Johnson, and several others. But one who stood apart was Elmore James. He was also a singer of some renown who had a distinctively masculine voice that sounded like a lovesick bull braying. You can hear both pain and pride in his voice and he's real about both of those feelings. Along with Muddy Waters, Elmore James virtually defined post-war slide technique.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Michigan Cuts Welfare: 11,000 Families Lose Benefits!

Michigan Republicans to welfare recipients: 
Elections have consequences. That is something that people who won the last election like to smugly say to people who lost the last election. This is nowhere more true than in Michigan since the recent election of Republican Governor Rick Snyder, former chairman/coo/president of Gateway, who with the assistance of a Republican majority in the legislature, has instituted some sweeping changes.
The latest change is that there will be an end to cash assistance welfare for families who have received more than four years of help. This starts October 1-just as school is starting up and winter is coming.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jon Stewart Destroys Right-Wing "Class Warfare" Talking Points (VIDEO)

CIA & NYPD Join Forces to Fight Terrorism in NYC But Is It Legal?

September 11, 2011 will be the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that claimed the lives of over 3,000 Americans in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania.  It is notable to observe that American men, women and children from every walk of life were killed on that day: Black, White, rich, poor, Christian, and yes, even Muslim.  All of them were victims of the acts of a handful of terrorists that day who happened to be radical extremist Muslims.  America has never been the same ever since.  Like a scorned teenager who just got dumped by his high school sweetheart and now views all women as evil, we've now come to view ALL Muslims as terrorists, or, at the very least, potential terrorists.  Sure, it's a simplistic way to view the world, but what else is new?

If you saw any newspaper on Wednesday that has anything to do with the associated press then chances are you saw this story about the 10 year marriage between the CIA and the NYPD.  Long story short, the article chronicles how former CIA Deputy Director David Cohen came to the NYPD shortly after 9/11 and helped it to form what amounted to mini-CIA counter terrorism units within the NYPD that have infiltrated, spied on, collected intelligence about, arrested and prosecuted just about any American Muslim living in the New York City metro area who has even so much as looked at America the wrong way.

On the one hand, the motivation for keeping the City safe that I and about 18 million other Americans call home is completely understandable and, to be sure, commendable.  Who wants to see another 9/11?  We damn sure don't.  However, on the other hand, something about the CIA using the NYPD to do what the CIA cannot legally do on American soil just doesn't sit well with me.  The primary function of the CIA is to collect information about foreign governments and foreign citizens -- not American citizens.  So is this union between the CIA and the NYPD legit?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Post: A Word on Running, Health, and Balanced Living

***Today's Guest post comes from a woman who needs no introduction to The Urban Politico readers.  You all know her as MollyAnn.  So be sure to engage our guest in the comments below***

I can’t remember what was going through my mind the first morning I went running. It was the spring of my 16th year in 1980. There was a park with a baseball diamond a couple of houses away. Just after sunrise, I put on sneakers, a t-shirt and shorts, and went running around the outside of the fence enclosing the field. My Dad ran cross country track in high school and college. He kept running until he was in his 40s. I guess this would be what put the idea in my head.

Why? At first, it was about losing weight. I’m not thin. I’m not meant to be. This is fine with me now. Back then, I felt self-conscious and awkward. Up to the early 30s, I would run between 3 and 4 miles with an occasional longer run. In an attempt to deal more effectively with stress, I increased the distance to between 6 and 8 miles in the early 30s. Now, I run either 5.8 or 7.5 miles most days. In the winter, the distance depends on the temperature and the amount of snow. In the spring, I alternate short and long distance to ease into the longer distances and the warmer temperatures.

I no longer time the runs. I let my legs pick the rhythm and the pace. I concentrate on form. I want running to be something that has its own natural flow instead of another activity to be measured and recorded. Running stopped being a struggle the day I left the watch at home.

The only serious running injury I received was in 2003. The injury was a broken tendon on the sole of my left foot. I ignored the warning pains. I paid the price. It hurt a lot. It took 9 months to heal. Before 2003, I did a collection of stretches each day picked up from high school gym class, articles in magazines, and ones I made up myself. My Dad had shown me some books his physical therapist recommended. I remembered the name of one of the authors, Pete Egoscue. He has a system of stretches to correct posture issues and the resulting pain and to stay pain free. The stretches I do now are based on his method.

Earlier this year, I read the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. I thought it was a fascinating read. After the injury in 2003, I changed the way I was running. I didn’t do it on purpose. It was finding the answer to the question of how can I run and my foot not hurt. I now run with my feet under me when they hit the ground with a foot strike of outside to inside. This is the way the group of runners whose story is told in the book run.

My legs do get tired and sore, but it is a good tiredness. I pay attention to any pain in my muscles when I run. Almost always, the twinges and tightness go away as my legs warm up. The key is that I have no expectations for speed. If one of my muscles is tight, I start out slower than normal until it loosens up. If my foot starts to feel tight, I know my running form has gotten sloppy. I shorten my strides and get my attention back on making sure my form is even and symmetrical.

I grew up in a household where healthy eating was required. For the most part, I kept eating healthy after I left home. I wouldn’t be able to say how much of either the weight stability or the general healthiness can be attributed to running. It has become clear over the years that eating certain foods assures weight gain regardless of how much I run. It is complicated. Luckily, I appear to have stumbled on a way of eating that works even if I’m not entirely sure why. I do know that my blood pressure is down in the athletes' and children's range of the chart. Other than a few times, my weight has remained in what I consider a reasonable window.

What keeps me running is the beneficial impact it has on my emotions and my mind. I know that I can’t be happy all the time. There is unavoidable pain in life: the loss of a loved one, heartbreak, the loss of a job, and many others. My response to all these events is to go running. It calms my emotions. It clears my head. It is both relaxing and comforting. It has taught me the value of observation. I watch the birds, the butterflies, and the flowers. I feel the wind and the sun on my skin. I let go. And then, on the lucky days, I end up in a place that is independent of space and time. I remember my younger self: the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the bubbling joy of a child seeing her first butterfly. This is my source of strength and it is invaluable.

If you want to start running, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It is wise to consult your doctor first. Alternating running and walking is a good way to begin. Carry a bottle of water. Concentrate on form before speed. Tiredness and fatigue are to be expected. Pain is not. Have fun. If it is fun, then you will keep going.

I have one more thought. I don’t find living healthy a chore. Fresh whole foods taste good. Running is often the highlight of my day. If you decide, for whatever reason, that you want to try and live a healthier life, my suggestion would be to aim your efforts in the direction of harmony and balance. If you don’t enjoy running, then find an activity you enjoy. Experiment with whole fresh foods and find ones whose taste you like. It doesn’t have to be an added irritation. It can be an interesting adventure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Were You when the Quake Hit?

Two-thirds of the Urban Politico staff who call the east coast home received an unexpected surprise today in the form of an earthquake that could be felt all up and down the eastern seaboard. There are a lot of things that you come to get used to living on the east coast: traffic, crowded streets, subways, skycrapers, 24-hour everything...but one thing you don't really expect is to be sitting on the 50th floor of your office building in the middle of the day and as it sways back and forth like it's doing the Dougie.

Tell us your stories about today's Quake.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Urban Politico Interview: Verizon Union Strike

Verizon Union Busting or Genuine Belt Tightening?

From Verizon's Corporate Website:

Verizon is a global leader in delivering innovative communications, information and entertainment. We offer voice, data and video products and services over intelligent wireless, broadband and global IP networks that meet customers' growing demand for speed, mobility, security and control. As a committed corporate citizen, we use our advanced communications services to address important issues confronting our society.

Verizon Communications Inc is a publicly traded corporation and home to more than 194,000 employees. Of those 194,000 employees, 45,000 belong to two unions, Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. According to Verizon's 2010 Annual Report, the company earned $106.5Bn in revenue in 2010. Outgoing CEO Ivan Seldenberg relayed his satisfaction of the results to shareholders stating:
"Our results in 2010 reflect the fundamental strength of our company. Revenues grew 1.9 percent on a comparable basis for the year, the second straight year of positive revenue growth in a very sluggish economy. Our growth was propelled by strong performance in wireless, broadband and strategic business services, and our results improved in the second half of the year, giving us good momentum entering 2011."

According to a Communications Workers of America communication to Union Members, Verizon Communications Inc. earned a place on The Washington Times - Tax Evader's Wall of Shame for its combined 2009 and 2010 pre-tax income of $24.2Bn and U.S. tax refund of $1.3Bn. Verizon Communications Inc. paid $0 in Federal Income Tax for 2010. In 2010, CEO Ivan Seldenberg earned $30.9M in Total Compensation, which included a base salary of $2,100,000, a cash bonus of $2,953,125, and other compensation of $25,880,000. Seldenberg earned himself a spot on Equilar's 2010 Top 200 CEO List and the 11th spot on Forbes 2010 CEO Compensation List.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why the WaTimes is Wrong for Crying Foul on Obama's Diversity Exec Order

This past Thursday, President Obama issued an Executive Order (read the Order HERE) that requires the federal government to be inclusive of all walks of life in its hiring, training and promotions in an effort to increase diversity within its federal agencies.  It provides in pertinent part:
Our Nation derives strength from the diversity of its population and from its commitment to equal opportunity for all.  We are at our best when we draw on the talents of all parts of our society, and our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.
A commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion is critical for the Federal Government as an employer.  By law, the Federal Government's recruitment policies should "endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society."  (5 U.S.C. 2301(b)(1)).  As the Nation's largest employer, the Federal Government has a special obligation to lead by example.  Attaining a diverse, qualified workforce is one of the cornerstones of the merit-based civil service...
By this order, I am directing executive departments and agencies (agencies) to develop and implement a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion as a key component of their human resources strategies.  This approach should include a continuing effort to identify and adopt best practices, implemented in an integrated manner, to promote diversity and remove barriers to equal employment opportunity, consistent with merit system principles and applicable law.
This would seem to be pure common sense to most Americans who are ready to turn the page on this country's ugly racial past (not to mention an "about time" moment for many who claim Obama has not done "enough" for the minority community), however there is a strong contingent within our society who doesn't see it that way.  A recent Washington Times editorial entitled "Obama [says] Whites Need Not Apply" has taken the classically flawed zero-sum approach to the diversity debate whereby any inclusion of minorities must, of course, result in the exclusion of whites.  More from the Washington Times after the jump:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movie Reviews-Rise of the Footsoldier, Salt,Downfall and more

Rise of the Footsoldier
Rise of the Footsoldier, directed by Julian Gilbey, is a pretty gritty British gangster film that centers on the two decade evolution (devolution?) of soccer hooligan Carlton Leach and his buddies from mindless rioters into even more mindless gangsters, extortionists and drug dealers. It has more than few similarities to Goodfellas. The film is based on a true story, the Rettendon Range Murders, which also featured in another good British crime film, Essex Boys. Carlton Leach tells the story in voiceover and freezeframe, which gives it even more of a Goodfellas style. However if anything this film is even more pointed in its depiction of violence and brutality, which is unrelenting throughout. 

The only people scarier than Carlton and his friends are the Turkish Mafia, which is shown to be capable of depravities beyond your normal English thug. There are no sympathetic figures in the movie. Carlton is depicted as less violent than two of his best friends, which is not surprising as I believe the movie was based in part on Carlton's book and input. The most violent and chaotic of Carlton's friends is Pat, who is similar to Goodfellas' Tommy. Don't tell Pat what sort of pizza his girlfriend can or can't have deliveredI enjoyed the film. It was very dark, both in the actual shooting of the picture and the theme.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Breaking News: Immigration Reform

In news that is sure to please some supporters of "immigration reform", the Obama Administration announced that it was suspending deportation proceedings against "non-criminal" illegal immigrants in order to focus on the "criminal" element. Link to complete NYT Article.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.
White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws. Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.
The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes."  The action would also bolster President Obama’s reputation with Latino voters as he heads into the 2012 election. Just a week ago the leaders of major Hispanic organizations criticized his record, saying in a report that Mr. Obama and Congress had “overpromised and underdelivered” on immigration and other issues of concern to Latino voters, a major force in some swing states.
As many readers no doubt are aware I don't support either normalizing work status or putting illegal immigrants on a "path to citizenship". I know that's a minority view here but that's fine. I could be wrong. I don't say no to that. If "normalization" or "reform" were truly the will of the American people as expressed by their duly elected Representatives and Senators then I would have no choice but to accept it. I might mumble a bit but I'd accept it.
But this?
This looks like an end run around the law and appears to be another executive encroachment on Congress' role-just like the Libyan war. Aside from the capriciousness and obvious political self-interest of the Administration's decision there are at least four other reasons why I think this should give people pause.

  • We have 9.1% unemployment. Unemployment is even higher in the black community. Econ 101 and sheer self-interest indicate that we simply do not need additional workers in the economy now.
  • President Obama has once again caved to a particularly loud interest group that threatened to use its leverage. Surely his enemies must notice this but so will his friends. It's not a good look. 
  • We don't know who the unlawful residents are. They didn't undergo background checks or any of the other tests and verifications that legal immigrants have to endure.
  • People shouldn't ignore the law. It's the law it's not a suggestion. There are laws which I don't like but they are part of being an adult citizen. People obey these laws not only out of an internal belief that they are correct or at least guarantee the past of least resistance but also from the fact that breaking the law carries unpleasant consequences. But now we see that one group of people (of whom it bears repeating are not citizens and can't vote) have consistently refused to obey the law-not because they have any logical cogent rationale about why the law is unjust but because they find it inconvenient. Ok. Does that mean that a right-wing citizen who doesn't want to pay his income taxes (as many illegal immigrants do not) or purchase health care insurance, can refuse to do these things, if he or she finds enough likeminded people to raise a stink? We consent to be ruled by law in the belief that all are subject to it equally. That is of course an ideal not reality. But once anyone can pick and choose which laws she wants to obey, everyone else will clamor to do the same. The center won't hold.
But again, perhaps I am being melodramatic. Your call.

1) Do you think this is a good/moral move by the Administration? Why or why not?
2) Will this help the Administration with Hispanic voters? Hurt them with others?
3) What is the solution to unlawful entry/residence in the US?
4) If we are no longer going to deport people unless they are felonious, why bother with borders at all? Let's just let non-citizens decide how many people the US needs.

Allen West Takes Coonin' to a Whole New Level (VIDEO)

I've got just two words for Florida Tea Party Congressman Allen West:  "Whatchutalkinbout Willis!?!?!?"  Now I'm all for free speech, and certainly we all understand that within the world of politics we must come to accept and allow a certain level of spin and hyperbole, but this negro just might have lost his natural mind on this one.

But before we turn to Uncle Ruckus and his perpetual 1985 high-top fade, let's make sure we have a firm understanding of what "Cooning" means.  Pursuant to the authoritative Urban Dictionary:
Cooning: Cooning is a verb derived from the word coon. A coon was/is a person of African decent whose sole purpose was/is to entertain white people. These 'coons' started out as wearing black face, characterized by having big eyes and painting big red lips on their face. These people would tap dance, play instruments and sing. Modern day coons are blacks who play stereotypical roles and black entertainers that promote ignorance. Cooning is someone is acting like a 'coon'.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, enter the Tea Party's favorite coon, Allen West.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Selective Patriotism: The Conservative Glass House

Is Michele Bachmann Anti-American?

Let's take a quick stroll down memory lane......

Black Images: What's Good

Welfare Queen

These are just some of the stereotypes of Black men and women. Some of them date back to slavery. Others, like the welfare queen are obviously more recent. They have been discussed in scholarly articles. They have been refuted and dismissed by Black people who don't realize the archetypes are cast in many major motion pictures, television shows, and books. And they have been decried as one dimensional characterizations of Black life which we all know is rife with richness.

These archetypes, their history, significance, and current relevance is revisited every time a controversial movie or book or TV show comes out.

Enter The Help.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Killing in Mississippi is 'Reverse Racism'

On a recent Sunday morning just before dawn, two carloads of white teenagers, including Deryl Dedmon, drove to Jackson, Mississippi, on what the county district attorney says was a mission of hate: to find and hurt a black person.

In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim.  James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including "White Power!" according to witnesses.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says a group of the teens then climbed into their large F250 green pickup truck, floored the gas, and drove the truck right over Anderson, killing him instantly.  

Warren Buffett v. Republicans onTaxing the So-Called "Job Creators"

For as long as any of us can remember, the Republicans have been telling Americans that we actually need to lower taxes on the rich because, as legend has it, if the rich are allowed to keep more of their money then they will invariably find it in their hearts to use those savings in order to create jobs for the rest of us mere peasants.  The Reagan Administration used to call this theory "Trickle-Down Economics" back in the 80's.  Today, we call it the "Bush Tax Cuts" which give millionaires and billionaires one of the lowest tax rates they've ever enjoyed during modern times.  No matter what you call it, the Republicans have made it clear that raising taxes on the rich is out of the question.  They'd rather default the entire country before they raise taxes on the rich.  After all, the rich are the "job creators" so obviously they know things about the economy that our feeble cavemen brains cannot possibly comprehend.  The only problem with this "don't tax the job creators" narrative is that even the rich themselves know that it's a complete falsehood.  Enter Warren Buffett.  Buffett is currently the 3rd richest man in the world (in 2008 he held the title as the richest man in the world when he passed up the legendary Bill Gates).  Given Buffett's level of wealth, one would reasonably expect that if there was even an ounce of truth in this Republican narrative that he, of all people, would fully endorse it.  Not so much.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Government's Role in the Mortgage Industry

A major portion of the recession involves the mortgage market. The mortgage market is also crucial to the recovery efforts of the US economy. With S&P's recent downgrade of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Obama Administration is looking to use the role of government to strengthen the industry and aide in the recovery efforts. Along with the Federal Reserve Bank's pledge to maintain the current historically low interest rates through 2013, its time we find away to revamp this jilted industry and save American homeowners from the foreclosure monster.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Looking to Buy Stocks? Try Juvie

In a page straight from the book of corruption and greed, epitomizing the worst and most deplorable aspects of American government as well as the American spirit, a Luzerne County, PA Judge, Mark Ciavarella, was convicted of sending juveniles to private prisons in exchange for about $1 million in kickback money. Judge Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for his involvement in a "Cash for Kids" scheme, which landed many children as young as age 10 in jail, serving real life county sentences. According to multiple sources, including Ciavarella's attorney, this case has gained more attention than any capital murder case and as a result should have ensured a much less stringent sentence than the one handed down to this monster, because after all, his reputation and career as a result of this case are irreparably harmed. Fortunately the Judge did not agree and Ciavarella will likely die in jail.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movie Reviews-Ironclad, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Warrior's Way and more

written and directed by Jonathan English. 

Ironclad depicts the 1215 siege of Rochester Castle. King John was extremely angry at being forced to sign the Magna Carta. If a King's authority could be limited by men but the King received his authority from the Church and God, then the Magna Carta was not only treasonous but blasphemous. That was King John's (Paul Giamatti) opinion anyway, and he was sticking to it. Giamatti really chews up the scenery here and spits it out but the viewer will buy into his anguished and murderous outrage.

King John hires numerous Danish mercenaries. With his new best friends King John travels across Britain for friendly chats with the various barons or priests who forced him to sign the Magna Carta. When he meets them he just completely ruins their day. When the King inquires if that's your signature on the document, the correct answer to give is no. DO NOT respond with the 13th century equivalent of  "Yeah I signed it so whatchu gonna do about it, son?"  Not wise.

Rochester is the final castle that King John must subdue. The King is opposed by Baron Albany (Brian Cox) and a small group of big bad mofos (sort of a Magnificent Seven) that Albany recruits around England in a Blues Brothers "We're putting the band back together" montage. These roles aren't well fleshed out but they don't need to be. The group includes a young naive unblooded squire, a rambunctious brawler, a vicious fellow who claims to only be in it for the money, a ladies man, an older family man ready for One Last Assignment, a skilled archer, etc.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dylan Ratigan Rant: But Does the Man Have a Point Though? (VIDEO)

Check out the video after the jump.

The Battle Over The Color Red: Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent

Happy Friday Everyone!! Since we're always so politically driven and serious here at The Urban Politico, I figured we could lighten the mood and have a little fun today.

As as junior "bag and shoe mista," I found this story particularly interesting. Let me preface this by saying, I haven't graduated to Christian Louboutin's (the plan is to move up on my 30th Birthday) but I salute this designer and have the utmost respect for the "Red Bottom." I can spot a pair of "Red Bottom's" a mile away. If shoes were an automobile Christian Louboutin's are a 3-7-Series BMW (a nod to The Janitor). There is the classic pair, which most females make their debut in, then you gradually move into seasonal additions and when you've really hit it big, you move into boots or seasonal exclusives. In my humble opinion Christian Louboutin caters to the woman at every stage of professional growth of her life. I look at shoes as an investment. I am not a retail addict, so once every two to three years, I pick up a pair of pumps (usually a classic black patent leather, currently Ann Taylor) and I will literally wear them until the heel falls off or my cobbler, tells me he can no longer fix them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More In Common Than a Little Bit

I think we've got it all wrong. For the last week and a half we've been on perpetual DOW watch to judge how good or how bad the economy is doing. Last Thursday it dropped 500 points. Friday it rallied 61. Monday it dropped 600 points. Tuesday it rallied 400. This morning it's given back all those gains. These swings in the stock market are not indicative of the current economic climate, or even the future economic climate, it is only indicative of the state of mind of the got-it-together, well off, and wealthy set who don't want to lose any assets they have. For the rest of us not into stocks because we're still trying to get into jobs, the DOW watch, drops, and swings have nothing to do with the way the economy is working for us.

Enter Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and Louis Farrakhan and, of course, the President

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisconsin - The Face of Democracy: Recall Elections

Democracy at Work

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law.

Scott Walker marched into the Wisconsin Capitol on January 3, 2011 with an anti-Wisconsin agenda - dismantle the unions, abolish women's rights and put the state of Wisconsin on a path backwards. Swept into office on the Republican wave, Walker was said to be a moderate republican, who would reduce taxes, cut spending, create jobs and grow the Wisconsin economy. This all sounded great to the voters of Wisconsin, so they elected him Governor with 52% of the vote. Unfortunately, voters were unaware of Walker's plan to balance the budget on the backs of government employees with the exception of law enforcement personal and firefighters. With control of Republican State Senate and legislative maneuvers Scott Walker was able to pass his anti-union bill and sign it into law on March 11.

The people of Wisconsin did not sit around and accept the bad cards they were dealt, they galvanized and took democracy into their hands. Using the Wisconsin Constitution, the put into play a series of unprecedented recall elections. Since 1908, only 20 recorded state legislative recall elections have taken place.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Tea Party's "Mandate" Decoded: Why the Math Doesn't Add Up

We all know about the political shift from Democrat to Republican that occurred during last November's Midterm election.  And ever since that time, there's been an unchallenged narrative floating around out there that the "American People," clearly tired of Obama's out-of-control spending in Washington during his first 2 years in office, overwhelmingly threw their support behind the Tea Party which vowed to "take our government back" and put an end to "big government" spending.  And so a narrative was born.  Republican talking head after Republican talking head quickly signed on to the notion that the "American People" had spoken in favor of the Tea Party, giving them a clear mandate to stop government spending.
"The American people sent a wave of new lawmakers to Congress in last November’s election with a very clear mandate: to put our nation’s fiscal house in order."
- Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, August 2, 2011 (emphasis supplied).

"The House must continue to do everything it can to live up to the mandate the American people gave Congress last fall and continue to tackle Washington’s reckless spending habits and free up the private economy to create jobs."
- Rep. Joe Walsh, July 29, 2011 (emphasis supplied).

"I have a message, a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words:  We've come to take our government back... The mandate of our victory is huge."
- Sen. Rand Paul, November 2, 2010 (emphasis supplied).

Just so we're clear, the claim being made here by the Tea Party is that they have received a mandate from "The American People."  The American People.  As in, all 307,006,550 of us.  Or at least a simple majority of all 307 million of us, since we are, after all, talking about elections where the majority rules. But let's put those numbers aside for now and get back to the narrative. The narrative is that the majority of the "American People" voted in favor of the Tea Party in the 2010 midterm election, which, if true, would surely be a mandate. And, truth be told, until the recent debt ceiling fiasco, America hasn't really questioned whether this Tea Party narrative is true or not.  We've just accepted it as fact.  But what if I told you that the Tea Party actually did not receive a majority of the votes in 2010?  In fact, what if I told you that the Tea Party - the party which told us that it was authorized by the American People to nearly destroy the country last week - did not even receive 10% of the vote from the "American People" last fall?

Monday, August 8, 2011

FED UP: Five Things of Little Importance that Really Bother Me (Part 1)

I know there are a lot of things going on here in the US and throughout the world: There are international economic woes that both parties are trying to make appear as if they only exist in the US and they are the other party's fault; there are droughts in Texas and floods in North Dakota; and Harry Potter stomped Twilight at the Teen Choice Awards (oh the horror)!!!

So I felt like writing about something else. I’m going to vent. Now, I’m not special – clearly. I fully understand everyone has their own pet peeves, but I’ve got a blog, therefore a platform, so…like I said, I’m going to vent.

So read on if you’d like, if not, move to the next post – which probably contains a very well thought-out and poignant message. While there are many things that irritate me – like wet socks, there are some that stand out more than others do. So, without any further ado, I bring you the my top five (little issues) that actually bother me quite a bit – Part one.

S&P Downgrades US Credit Rating

Friday evening at 8:11pm, the US ratings agency Standard & Poor's (commonly referred to as S&P) went public with an historic downgrade to the US credit rating. Since 1917, the United States has always maintained a AAA credit rating and since 1941 from S&P. On July 15, S&P put the US credit rating on CreditWatch Negative. This is essentially a warning that the credit rating could be negatively impacted. As of Friday evening, Moody's and Fitch have reaffirmed their AAA credit rating of the United States. With this ratings downgrade, are we seeing the first back lash from the compromise debt-ceiling/budget deal that was passed Tuesday afternoon or are we seeing a rogue ratings agency looking to scrub blood from their hands?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Taliban Claims 30 in Afghan Chopper Attack

The deadliest day since the war in Afghanistan began, has claimed the lives of 30. A Chinook transport helicopter was shot down by insurgents on Saturday. Of the American forces killed, were Navy Seal Commandos of SEAL 6 - the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden. However, the commandos killed were not the SEAL 6 members who executed the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. 8 Afghans were also killed on Saturday.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Book Reviews-The Outfit, Hard as Nails, Deathstalker Legacy and more

The Outfit
by Gus Russo
The classic era of American organized crime was from the thirties through the seventies. During this period the Chicago Syndicate aka "The Outfit" was close in power to all of the NY Five Families combined. Chicago famously enforced an edict that stated "Anything west of Chicago belongs to Chicago!". The Outfit controlled or oversaw satellite families or crime organizations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee and other areas. It shook down Hollywood studios, kept a heavy hand in labor unions, and maintained a presence in Las Vegas. 

Although it had to share the Teamsters Union with the Midwest and East Coast Families, the Outfit was the primary organization that used Teamsters Pension Fund monies to invest in a wide variety of legal and illegal activities.
Gus Russo details this story. After Capone went to prison, the new leaders of the Outfit met to set up a structure that would endure for seven decades.
The differences between the Chicago Outfit and the NY Families were:

  1. The Outfit was organized more along the lines of a corporation instead of a Mafia Family
  2. The Outfit had eliminated or subsumed all serious competition within Chicago
  3. The Outfit made more use of "front bosses" 
  4. The Outfit seemed to have a few more open psychopaths
  5. The Outfit allowed non-Italians to rise to positions of authority and dominance, although the ultimate leadership remained Italian

Friday, August 5, 2011

NJ Gov. Chris Christie: Enough with the Sharia Law Crap Already!!! (VIDEO)

In this country of ours, we have this document known as the Constitution.  You might have heard of it.  It guarantees that, in this country, we will always have a republican form of government where the people - and not monarchs, religious rulers, or even religion itself - are in control of what happens here.  This is spelled out quite plainly in Article IV of our Constitution for anybody who cares to read it.  But who are we kidding - Americans don't read the Constitution!!!  Especially the staunch conservative Bible-belt Americans who love to drone on about how Muslims are plotting to take over our country by using "Sharia Law."  Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain has even gone so far as to say he would absolutely not appoint a Muslim judge to any court because he is afraid they will attempt to implement Sharia Law in America.

The Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, apparently fed up with hearing about this Sharia Law propaganda from within his own party, hit back recently in response to his decision to appoint a Muslim judge to the bench:

The Government Can't Save You: Return to Chains (Part 3)

It's unemployment rate day and that means it's time to once again see how close we are to no longer being free.

The Labor Department just announced the economy added 1117,000 jobs for the month of July. The unemployment rate thankfully dropped to 9.1 percent. This is marginally good news following the drama of the week. The debt-ceiling deal that may or may not have sold the country to the devil, China downgrading our credit, Moody's keeping our credit rating at AAA but effectively putting us on downgrade notice, and then yesterday's Wall Street free fall with the DOW tumbling 512 points -- the most since October 2008. To say the least it's been a rough week. This notion got me to thinking that if in one week we can see triumphs and still consider them epic failures than actual epic failures are catastrophic catalysts to explode the country. Which basically means you better fend for yourself because the government can't save you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sex, for Money, for Tuition.... For Real

*I preface this post by saying I am not nor have I ever been a stripper, exotic dancer, a worker in the oldest industry known to man, or one known to do something strange for a piece of change. I had at one point for a very short amount of time considered it. Let me explain.

Much is being made about the Huffington Post's expose of website If you haven't read the article let me sum it up; college girls needing help with tuition expenses etc. create a profile on the website. The website matches them with a suitable sugar daddy and then a transaction commences; i.e. sex for money for tuition.

The story is an extension of The Stripper Myth as The Janitor referred to it or as Grand_Central prefers The Player's Club/Diamond Complex. No matter how you label it the subject has been discussed at length on blogs, in barbershops, beauty salons, campus squares, and of course dorm rooms and college apartments.

This is where my story begins and ends.

The United States Congress at Work: FAA Shutdown

Congress Departs on August Recess as the Federal Aviation Administration is Shutdown

The latest victim to be caught in the partisan cross-hairs of the United States Congress is the Federal Aviation Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration, commonly known to most of us as the FAA, is responsible for regulating U.S. commercial transportation space, regulating civil aviation, issuing, suspending, or revoking pilot certificates and a plethora of other responsibilities unbeknownst to us. The FAA is most commonly associated with the Air Traffic Controllers, who sit in the FAA Control Towers and literally hold our lives in their hands when we travel by air. After a string of bad publicity and public squabbles regarding a long disputed staffing practice of FAA Control Towers, the FAA has found itself as the center of attention once again. Only this time, The United States Congress holds their lives, in the palm of its partisan hands. To many there seems to be no reasonable end in sight.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Christian Blind Spot: Terrorism

The best way to cleanse oneself of the ills done in the name of one’s religion is to deny that those doing the “ills” are – in fact – part of one’s tradition and belief system.  Here recently, when you hear the word “terrorist,” immediately your mind starts to think about that brown-skinned man wearing the turban you saw walking through the airport the other day; here in America, we’re okay with that stereotype. 

In America, Islam has become synonymous with terrorism.  Like most stereotypes, it is partly true; there is a small section of Muslims – we’ve identified them as extremists – who do “terrorize” parts of the world.  The problem is that (i) this is ONLY reserved for Muslims, and (ii) that the act of these few now represents the entire religion.  Christians are quick to lump every evil done by a person or group into the Muslim faith indiscriminately; this has been clearly illustrated by the faux “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, the Qur’an burnings by Christian Snake Oil Salesmen issue, and even the campaign rhetoric of presidential hopefuls.  Even after the overwhelming majority within the Muslim faith from around the world condemn extremism and terrorist activities, we (Christians) find it near impossible to not blame the entire Islamic faith.  However, when the tables are turned and the perpetrator is a self-identified Christian, those within his same faith are quick to separate and resolve that he is not Christian. 

Hypocrisy at its Finest!

I am not a parent, but I understand the parent to child relationship to be a sacred one. I have god children, nieces and a nephew, whom I care about dearly and feel strongly enough for, that I would lie down on train tracks for them, if it meant they wouldn't have to suffer or be in harms way. I also know first hand the consequences of having a parent who didn't care enough about me and made reckless and selfish decisions, for their own self interests. I know first hand the ordeal that one parent must face, when the other decides to be irresponsible and not provide for the children. The job of a parent is to put their child or children FIRST at all times. Nothing should prevent you from being the best parent you can be and nothing should prevent you from going above and beyond for your child or children - BOTTOM-LINE! I have no sympathy and zero tolerance for deadbeat parents, in this case a dead beat dad. Pay your child support and if you can't do so, move mountains to make sure that you can.

US Congressman, Joe Walsh had these words for President Obama regarding the debt-ceiling debate.
"I won't place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids, unless we structurally reform, the way this town spends money."
So here we have Rep. Joe Walsh worried about the debt as it would apply to his children and future grandchildren. This is interesting coming from Rep. Walsh, since he owe's his wife more than $117K in child support, from a period where he claimed to be umemployed with no income or money to aide his ex-wife in supporting their children, but ironically had $35K to loan his campaign to run for congress.

August Book of the Month: Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese

Per Publisher's Weekly:

Lauded for his sensitive memoir (My Own Country) about his time as a doctor in eastern Tennessee at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Verghese turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations. Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a devout young nun, leaves the south Indian state of Kerala in 1947 for a missionary post in Yemen. During the arduous sea voyage, she saves the life of an English doctor bound for Ethiopia, Thomas Stone, who becomes a key player in her destiny when they meet up again at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Seven years later, Sister Praise dies birthing twin boys: Shiva and Marion, the latter narrating his own and his brothers long, dramatic, biblical story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia, the life of the hospital compound in which they grow up and the love story of their adopted parents, both doctors at Missing. The boys become doctors as well and Vergheses weaving of the practice of medicine into the narrative is fascinating even as the story bobs and weaves with the power and coincidences of the best 19th-century novel.