Saturday, December 31, 2011

Movie Reviews-Straw Dogs (2011), Fright Night(2011) and more

Straw Dogs(2011)
This remake tells the story of a man , David (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) who move to Amy's culturally distinct Mississippi home town-Blackwater. (Shades of backwater or Blackwater Group??) David is a screenwriter and Amy is an actress. David is writing a book on the 1943 battle of Stalingrad.

Like its 1971 predecessor, Rod Lurie's remake poses some questions.

What does it mean to be a man? Can you change a tire? Re-roof a house?  Break down and clean a firearm? Overhaul a transmission? Do you even know the proper color of your car's transmission fluid?  Put up a fence? Kill an animal? Stand up for yourself? Fix your refrigerator coils? Physically intimidate other men? Enjoy or perform physically violent sports? Speak directly and with bass/baritone in your voice? Bench press multiples of your body weight? Are you a good partner for your wife/girlfriend/friend with benefits? Can she rely on you for protection?

David can't do any of these things. This almost immediately invites the contempt of the town's workers, including his wife's ex-boyfriend. This being the South though their contempt is initially expressed under a thin veneer of excessive politeness, deference and blink-and-you'll-miss-it-sarcasm. When David tells Charlie that Charlie and his crew are taking too long to re-roof the barn, Charlie replies with seeming actual kindness and curiosity "How long, in your experience, should it take to re-roof a barn, sir?".

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Silencing Progress One Youth Vote at a Time

It's Tuesday. One week from the Iowa Caucus. 7 days from the true and official start of the election season. So what do we have to greet us on this seventh day away from when Americans will go to the polls and exercise their right to vote? We have more Republican shenanigans to bar eligible voters from voting.

It's the 1960s all over again, only this time the target group under legislators' discriminatory ire are college students. The optimistic few who have yet to become disenchanted by our government, frustrated by our policies and ready to say to hell with the whole way of Washington.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holder/DOJ Score 1 Against Bank of America for Home Loan Discrimination

Underneath all of the Payroll Tax Cut news that flooded the airwaves last week was another story that was just as important: the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), led by Attorney General Eric Holder, successfully sued sub-prime mortgage lending giant Countrywide Financial Corp. (owned by Bank of America) for a record-breaking $335 Million for discriminating against over 200,000 Black and Latino home buyers during the height of the 2004-2007 mortgage bubble.   As you may recall, after the housing market collapse jump-started our current recession in 2008, an intense session of finger pointing ensued.  Conservatives like Michelle Bachmann took the position that the problem was caused by poor first-time home buyers (read Blacks & Latinos) who were forced upon the banking industry by big government interventions such as the Community Reinvestment Act.  Progressives like Chris Dodd & Barney Frank took the position that Wall Street preyed upon minority first-time home buyers, often giving them more profitable sub-prime mortgages even though they qualified for regular mortgages.  This victory by the DOJ against the banks finally settles that debate:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from The Urban Politico


Godson in Philly

The Janitor in New York

The Fed in DC

Shady_Grady in Michigan

The Storyteller in Florida

GrandCentral in New York

Old Guru in DC

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Reviews- Night Watch, Salem's Lot and more

Night Watch
by Sergei Lukyankenko
There are of course just tons of books about the battle between Good and Evil. You might say in some respects that's a central human feature. What makes an act good or evil? Is there any real difference? Who has enough foresight to tell? Is it all a question of point of view or does actual good and evil exist independent of our actions? After all if cattle could talk they would no doubt say, with some justification that human beings are pure evil and nothing but that. These questions and  many more are explored in Night Watch, an entertaining opening to a fantastic fiction tetralogy by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko.

Night Watch is thematically somewhat similar to Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series but Night Watch is quite firmly written for adults. There is a subset of superhumans who have always existed alongside humanity. These people call themselves Others and are the source for all of the myths about angels, demons, and other supernatural creatures. Others may not initially be aware of their powers but by natural events or training usually become familiar with them before adulthood in most cases. Others are divided into good (Light) and evil (Dark) and have roughly equivalent powers.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Wall Street Journal PWNS House R's/Boehner Over Payroll Tax Cut *UPDATED*

The Wall Street Journal, which could never be confused with anything Left-leaning, is calling shenanigans on the House Republicans (read: the Tea Party) and the man who apparently is unable to lead them, Speaker John Boehner. The issue - the Payroll Tax Cut which, in case you didn't know, you have been receiving for the past year.1  In a nutshell, both Democrats and Republicans want to pass the Payroll Tax Cut for middle class American workers, but they disagree about how it should be paid for and they also disagree on how much longer it should last (it's set to expire next month).  Nevertheless, the Senate recently passed a measure to extend the Tax Cut for another two months, but, for some strange reason, House Speaker Boehner is unable to get the House Tea Party Republicans to get in line and support the Senate's extension.  This has painted the Republicans as anti-tax cut for the middle class and, conversely, has painted Obama as the champion of the middle class.  And that, my friends, was the last straw for establishment Republicans.

Enter the Wall Street Journal:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Am I in the Tank for Obama? Part 1 of 2

Am I in the tank?  Am I drinking the kool-aid? If I am, I try not to.  Please let me know.  Every once in a while I require a sanity check.  This is one of those times.  I pride myself in trying to apply logic and understanding to various political positions. I make an attempt to understand where the other side of an argument is coming from; often, I may not agree with a counter argument, but I can understand the position.  I mean, it isn't like I haven't criticized Obama for some of the things he's done.  There is a reason I’m an Independent. I have some liberal beliefs and I have some conservative beliefs. I generally like to see the country prosper, and I while I have my opinions, I don’t care how we get there – generally speaking. What I mean is, if the end result is a win, then I don’t get too tied up in one argument or the other. That doesn’t mean I don’t argue one side or the other, but I will cheer a win for the country none-the-less.

Unlike the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, I don’t apply the Chicken Little approach to evaluating the president. I understand that much of the right wing rhetoric is political theater - I got that. If they want to win, one side must paint the other as the worst thing to ever happen to this country since Cochise was killed, but there appears to be an undertone to the rhetoric that seems to be…sticking. I’m not sure why. And that uncertainty has me asking this question. Look, I’m not one to disagree with EVERYTHING that Dubya Bush did, nor did/do I agree with EVERYTHING Presidents Clinton and Obama did/is doing (Shady, excellent job on that NDAA piece!). But for the life of me, I can’t understand the – what appears to be – growing perception among moderates and on the left, that Obama is one of the worst presidents in history. Really?  Currently, 6 in 10 voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy.  Why?

Republican Ignorance Strikes Again!

Ok folks, here we go again.  Apparently, Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican Representative from Wisconsin, stuck both feet in his mouth yesterday.  Apparently, this clown was overheard speaking on the telephone about the first lady's derriere.  Here are his words:

"She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself."

That's right, Sensenbrenner said Michelle Obama has a big ass.  Let me break down the sheer ignorance of Sensenbrenner's statement.  First, the statement is non sequitor, meaning it makes no damn sense.  "She lectures us on eating right" and "she has a large ass" do not follow.  Now, "She lectures us on eating but she is obese" or "she has cankles" or "she has flabby arms," would at least make sense logically.  It would still be wrong, but nonetheless, it would make sense.  Plus, Michelle Obama IS eating right.  Sensenbreener, have you seen her arms?  Most women would die for Michelle's arms.  But I digress.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Obama's Indefinite Detention Bill

President Obama is poised to sign a bill (The National Defense Authorization Act-NDAA) which really honestly leaves me almost unable to write because I'm so angry. To put it mildly this is a very bad bill.
It codifies and regularizes indefinite detention of American citizens without trial within the United States of America. Yes that's right. Theoretically you could be minding your own business, running your blog, sending naughty IM's to your SO, chatting with various people across the blog-o-sphere and suddenly jackbooted black helmeted thugs could break down your door, tase you and seize your pc and other private effects and documents, blind you, gag you and prevent you from hearing anything and leisurely drag you off to the local military base (or as far as I know private detention center) where military or national security personnel could keep you imprisoned for as long as they like.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rihanna: The Ultimate NiggaBitch... Yes Someone Really Called Her That

I don't even know how to begin this post. I have nothing tongue in cheek to say about this subject it seems I've addressed so many times in so many ways before. Yet here we are again addressing it again. Before we get to the specifics let's just all agree racism is real. Now let's further agree -- or agree to disagree -- there is a difference between what is acceptable in mixed company and what is acceptable in a group of a single race only. And I'm sure we all agree the world should be way past this intentional segregation but we are not. So let's not pretend we are.

Today's "I didn't know this was racist" story comes to us from Dutch magazine Jackie. In it a writer calls Rihanna The Ultimate Niggabitch.

Did you get the joke.

Me neither.

They come to their characterization of the Bajan -- not Jamaican-- pop sensation by her public persona.

In English:

"She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what's on can come off. If that means she'll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren't like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let's hope she won't beat anybody up at daycare."

From what I gather of this translation and the pictures in the magazine that accompany it is that they're trying to sell Rihanna's signature extravagant pantsless style to children who shouldn't rock it. But they do it by insulting the very artist they're trying to get tweens to emulate.

What I don't understand is how does having a ghetto ass -- donkey booty for you Real Housewives of Atlanta fans -- make you the ultimate niggabitch? I don't understand what having a golden throat means. Is that a nod to Kels' golden showers taken a disgustingly gross step forward? Is that a compliment of her singing talent? Is that another way to say Black people are indeed a monolith and can all sing? What exactly do they mean?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong II of North Korea Dead at Age 69

Late Sunday evening reports surfaced that North Korean leader Kim Jong II had died. North Korean state media reported the 69- year old was en route to give field guidance advice to factories, farms and military bases, when he died of "physical and mental overwork." It appears Jong suffered a heart attack, which caused his death.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"If I Were a Poor Black Kid"...But You're Not

By now you may have heard about Gene Marks' article in Forbes magazine entitled "If I Were a Poor Black Kid" in which he makes a valiant if not well intentioned effort to prescribe certain steps that poor Black kids growing up in the 'hood can take to earn their piece of the American Dream like he did.  Speaking as somebody who grew up as a poor Black kid, I can say from first hand experience that many Black children who grew up and are growing up under conditions similarly situated to my childhood experience would undoubtedly be benefited by much of Marks' advice.  So let me be clear from the outset: many Black children growing up poor in America today can and should be doing more to better themselves in terms of education.  There is no question about that fact. Where I depart with Marks, however, is with the following premise based in faulty inductive reasoning where he posits that literally "everybody" can earn their piece of the American Dream just like he did if they only pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps through hard work.

Mr. Marks stated, in pertinent part:
I am not a poor black kid.  I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background.  So life was easier for me.  But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city.  It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them.   Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed.  Still.  In 2011.  Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia. It takes brains.  It takes hard work.  It takes a little luck.  And a little help from others.  It takes the ability and the know-how to use the resources that are available.  Like technology.  As a person who sells and has worked with technology all my life I also know this.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Movie Reviews-Cowboys and Aliens, Supernatural Season Two, Rob Roy

Cowboys and Aliens
I saw a trailer for this while watching another movie. I thought it was just so silly it just might work. Well trailers can be deceiving of course. Don't get me wrong, it's a well crafted film (Spielberg and Ron Howard are among the producers) but there really aren't a whole lot of surprises. It is more or less completely predictable once the big reveal of aliens in the Old West is completed. It has a relatively decent cast-Daniel Craig, Adam Beach, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine and Sam Rockwell. It was directed by Jon Favreau. (Iron Man, Swingers) 

Cowboys and Aliens was a little longer than it needed to be and frankly the storyline didn't really appeal enough to me to use the character names so I'll just use generics here. It's not really a character driven movie anyway. The special effects are pedestrian and very video-game like.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Tea Party View of our Judicial System

After several months of debates on several different forums taking place on every news network known to mankind, I finally understand the Republican Presidential candidates' position on the role of our judicial branch of government.  If there was any confusion on what role the Courts should play in our society, the GOP presidential candidates finally cleared it up last night during their Iowa debate.  They finally spoke right down to Earth in a language that we can all easily understand.  Their message was simple and straight forward.  There's only one problem:

Nothing they said lines up with reality, let alone the Constitution of the United States.

According to the Republican presidential candidates last night, there are 3 branches of government:  (1) The Legislative (Congress); (2) The Executive (President) and (3) The Tea Party.  If that's not exactly how you remember your middle school civics class explaining our 3 branches of government then don't worry because you're not alone.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Join The Urban Politico Team: Live Chat - GOP Presidential Debates

LIVE CHAT with The Urban Politico Team THURSDAY Evening (TONIGHT) @ 9PM EST

GOP Presidential Primary Debate:
What will likely be the final GOP debate before the January 3rd Iowa caucuses will take place later this evening from the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The debate is sponsored by Fox News and will feature seven of the current GOP candidates.
Host - Bret Baier 
Moderators - Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto, and Chris Wallace

FOX News will broadcast the debate starting at 9 p.m. EST.
Join us this evening for a live-chat via and logging into our Chat Feature.

Israeli Settler Violence: Double Standards

Everyone has double standards. It's part of being human, unfortunately. If someone who's not on our team does something dirty we scream in horror and call for penalties. If someone who's on our team does the same action, we chuckle and say hey the guy's a bit aggressive sure, but ultimately he's a good fellow.

Although this might be par for the course it's really not a good thing. It's actually something humans need to strive to eliminate actually, especially when it comes to justice. You may not have heard about this but in the West Bank Israeli settler movement there is a subgroup of settlers who take what they call "price-tag" attacks on Palestinian homes, farms, churches, mosques and well Palestinians themselves. Occasionally these are in response to Palestinian attacks but are more usually done in response to "provocations" like the Israeli closing of a settlement outpost or other political moves. Settlers also seem to enjoy such fun date night activities as random beatings of/shootings at Palestinians, destruction of Palestinian olive groves and farmlands and just general harassment such as calling your mother all sorts of foul names.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Republican David Frum Gives Reality Check to the Right

Although it rarely happens, every now and again a voice of reason breaks through today's factually bankrupt political talking points.  The melee that is the 2012 Republican Primary has been followed by Americans lately as if we have been following the latest reality TV show.  In many respects, it is the latest reality TV show, complete with its own cast of characters getting voted off the island for various reasons.  Despite the absurdity of it all, what's even more absurd is the fact that nobody on the Right is calling a time out to draw attention to the fact that none of these candidates, save Jon Huntsman and possibly Mitt Romney, have even a modicum of decency, respect, or general electability that we've historically required of people running for President of the United States.  Nobody, that is, except for Republicans like David Frum.  He wrote a piece a few weeks ago that's worth repeating in part after the jump:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Secretary Sebelius Vetoes FDA and Blocks Plan B

Plan B Blocked By Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

I would like to start this post by asking you three questions.......

Abstinence or Safe Sex?
Birth Control or Abortion?
Pregnant Teenage Girl or Young Scientist Who Discovers the Cure for Cancer?

I think it's time we get out of our backwards way of thinking, forget the past and move into the present. It's time we fully understand the lives that our youth are living today. Crawl out from underneath your rock, put your bible down and put an end to all judgment.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GOP TO OBAMA "It's our way or the highway!"

Recently, in a weekly Republican radio address, House Speaker John Boener stated, "There's no time for it's-my-way-or-the-highway theatrics," regarding Obama's refusal to include approval for the Keystone XL pipeline in the payroll tax extension bill.  Mr. Boener, I could not agree with you more.  Only I wish you and your party would follow your own advice.

In typical GOP fashion, John "Tear Drop" Boener and the rest of the Republican Kindergarten Class of 2011, are refusing to extend a common sense bill in order to push through their corporate-friendly agenda. 

So what exactly is the payroll tax?  Actually, there are two types of payroll taxes, only one of which is at issue here.  The first kind is the tax employers are required to withhold from income.  Many people call this tax the "Pay-As-You-Go" tax.  However, the tax causing the GOP to take their Nerf football  during the game and go home is the Social Security/Medicare Payroll Tax.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Music Reviews-The LeBron Brothers, Slim Harpo and Roy Buchanan

The Lebron Brothers
African inspired music sounds (and is) different across the diaspora. However there are similarities, occasionally small and hard to hear, that link all of these various musics together and make it apparent that they share a common ancestral heritage, however remote that ancestry might be. From time to time various musicians within one particular New World heritage appropriate traditions more closely associated with a different New World heritage. For example the clave rhythms in much of Bo Diddley's music or James Brown's "The Big Payback" are more common in Afro-Cuban music than African-American music but are ubiquitous throughout almost all West African music, which was the source for African-American AND Afro-Cuban music.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Preview: Mad Magazine's Dumbest People of 2011

Every year Mad Magazine takes a strog jab at some of the dumbest things of the past year.  This year is no exception.  Expected to hit the news stands next week, Mad Magazine's Dumbest People of 2011 takes a no-hold-barred swing at politics, pop culture, scandal, and anything else that isn't tied down.  Nothing is safe.

Mad offers a preview to many sites on the Internet.  The pictures below came from the Huffington Post.  Once the latest edition hits the stands, I'll be sure to bring the humor to you.  Until then, enjoy a preview of the Top Five Dumbest People (and events) of 2011.

"If you ask me, their political commentary is often as spot-on and relevant as The Daily Show and SNL..."

Take a look at the top five after the jump.  I included Mad magazine's narritive.  (Click on picture to enlarge.) 

British woman spews hate

You may have heard about this. Old Guru brought it to our attention. A British woman, one Emma West, evidently lost it on a train and started ranting about the number of non-British people in Great Britain, including but not limited to Polish, Caribbeans and Africans. Basically like Eric Clapton and John Cleese before her, she noticed a change in the British demographic and weighed in against it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Common Problem of Being a 1st Generation Black Professional

In America, a college education has long been established as one of the gateways to the "American Dream."   From a young age we are told that if we go to school, work hard, and get good grades then it will all pay off someday.  But for many minorities who are the first in their family to go to school, there's an asterisk next to that mantra.  Studies show that of all graduating Black high school seniors, approximately 56% enroll in college.  Of that 56%, 49% (approximately half) of them are the first person in their family to attend college.  Ever.  While you're pondering that statistic, consider this: out of all the Black college freshmen enrolled around the country, 70% of them still lack the money to cover tuition and the cost of attendance even after receiving grants and scholarships.  Of those 70% who fall short, most of them take out student loans to cover the difference.  Given these facts, it is not difficult to see how this creates a problem for many first generation Black professionals.

Take the story of one of my best friends for example.  We'll call him Sam.  Sam is a doctor who recently graduated from his medical school residency.1  Like many residency graduates, he came out making a nice 6-figure salary.  However, Sam (who, BTW, is Black) is the first in his family to not only graduate from med school, but he is the first in his family to graduate from college. Period.  Unlike many of his med school classmates who received financial assistance from their 4th or 5th (or 6th?) generation college, and in some cases, med school-educated parents (some parents even paid for the entire cost of attendance), Sam graduated with over $200,000 of student loan debt.  That's how he's starting his professional life.

Similarly, those same classmates (who also happen to come from families that have had the luxury of owning property for several generations) were able to call upon their parents once again after graduation for that first down payment on a new home.  My friend Sam?  He rents.  But that's not even the most troubling part of this story.  The real kicker is this: not only is Sam's family unable to support him as he starts out on his own in the game of life, but in a most counter-intuitive Twilight Zone-type reversal of family roles, now Sam has to support his family.

This type of a scenario would ordinarily seem bizarre if only it weren't so common for so many young minority professionals in America.

It's All Fun & Games Until Somebody Gets 14 Years

Blago!  You all remember Blago right?  The former Illinois Governor turned reality TV sensation who acted as if the18 felony counts against him for corruption, including trying to sell then President-elect Obama's open U.S. Senate seat for the state of Illinois, were a joke.  As if federal prosecutors don't bat 99% every day in federal court.  Even his wife cashed in on the fame, making appearances on "I'm a Celebrity" and eating an occasional spider or two.  Well, folks, play time is over.

A federal judge today sentenced impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison, giving little weight to Blagojevich's first-ever apology this morning since his arrest three years ago.
"The jury didn't believe you and neither did I," U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel said.
Blagojevich was convicted on 18 corruption charges, including the scheme to peddle the vacated Senate seat of Barack Obama.
Blagojevich started the day telling the court that he was "unbelievably sorry" for his "terrible mistakes," his last chance to convince the federal judge that he deserved some mercy when he was sentenced on corruption charges.
"I'm here convicted of crimes. The jury decided I was guilty. I am accepting of it. I acknowledge it…" Blagojevich told Zagel. "I want to apologize to the people of Illinois, to the court, for the mistakes I have made. … I never set out to break the law.   "I never set out to cross lines. I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions and the things I did and I thought I could do. I'm not blaming anybody," Blagojevich said.
Prosecutors argued that he has failed the people of Illinois and instead "further eroded the public's confidence in government and government officials."
"He knew from a very early date exactly what he could do to help the people of Illinois and he didn't do it," federal prosecutor Reid Schar said. "Instead, what he did was first to seek personal benefits, jobs, millions of dollars, and things for him in relation to the Senate seat.
"He lied repeatedly, concretely, and on issues that went to the heart of the case and he lied on every episode that he was questioned," Schar said. "He is incredibly manipulative, and he knows how to be."
In setting a conciliatory note, Blagojevich's lawyers have already admitted - for the first time - that it was against the law for Blagojevich to seek a high-level Washington job in return for an appointment to Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. They also made a case for mercy, reading letters from Blagojevich's wife and oldest daughter.
His wife, Patti, cried Tuesday during the first day of the sentencing hearing as a defense attorney read her plea to U.S. District Judge James Zagel: "The punishment that he fears the most, one that would be most devastating would be that he would not be able to see his daughters grow. Please be merciful."

Merciful?  HAPS!!!  HAPS on your mercy!  14 Years, lady!!!
Child rapists literally get less time.  Murderers literally serve less time.  How's that for mercy?

1. Do you think Blago was guilty of trying to sell Obama's old seat?
2. Do you think 14 years in federal lock up is excessive?
3. Did Blago's TV antics cause him to get a higher sentence than what he normally would have received?
4. The court mentioned that Blago waited until sentencing to admit - for the first time - that he actually did anything wrong.  Did that make his sentence worse?
5. If you were Blago, would you have struck a plea agreement 3 years ago?
6. And the million dollar question: When Blago goes to jail is he finally going to get rid of that ridiculous hair cut???

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Mumia Abu Jamal Death Sentence Dropped

KATHY MATHESON,Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The district attorney announced Wednesday that prosecutors will no longer pursue the death penalty against former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, meaning he will spend the rest of his life in prison for gunning down a white police officer nearly 30 years ago.
The decision by District Attorney Seth Williams, made with the support of the officer's widow and the city police commissioner, comes after nearly 30 years of legal battles over the racially charged case.

Shutting Detroit Down

What's happening in Detroit?
You may not have noticed with all the national media attention on the Democrat-Republican fracas over the budget, the deficit, the Obama tax cuts, and payroll tax cut political gamesmanship but by some estimates the city of Detroit is on the verge of going belly up as soon as April of 2012. Detroit has a deficit of roughly $150-200 million and accumulated debt of somewhere around $10 billion. Vendors are already waiting in some cases as long as 18 months to get paid.

This has made some of the usual suspects happy but most people are angry or sad. Under the emergency financial manager law (which was given new teeth under the new Republican Governor's administration) the state has the power to appoint a manager who would have the authority to run the city, void union contracts and privatize services and sell assets. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Black Civic Organizations: I’d Like Mine Straight with No Chaser Please!

When I was a kid, I remember hearing stories from my parents about great civil rights organizations and movements.  There was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who under the legal brilliance of Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston, successfully argued Brown v. The Board of Education before the Supreme Court.  There was the Harlem Renaissance, where a collection of artists, musicians and intellectuals from novelist Jessie Redmon Fauset  to  philospher Alain Locke challenged, changed, and lead the conversation on black aesthetics, music, and intellect.  There was the Civil Rights Movement, where black leadership stood tall and fought for the rights of African-Americans under the fiercest opposition imaginable.  And then there were the Black Panthers, an organization deemed terrorist because they chose to fight fire with fire.  Many members in these organizations and movements paid the ultimate cost - their lives.

Well, my friends, the days of strong black civic organizations are over.  These organizations are nothing more than watered down versions of their former selves.  Of course, other than skinny jeans wearing, weed smoking, Lil' Wayne fans, there is no real social movement in the black community.  Interestingly, enough, there are more black organizations than ever.  These organizations do no more than raise money and smile for newspapers and television.  Here is my take on how the top five black civic organizations fail the African-American community.  I'll  rate each one with up to 5 of the coveted Old Guru stars to give you an idea of how they are performing.  Check it out after the jump.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

9/11 Memorial


Friday evening I finally had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City. Calm and serene are the best words I can use to describe the memorial. The memorial is a tribute to the lives lost on September 11, 2001. The reflecting pool of the memorial is the largest man made waterfall in North America. It truly is a sight to see. Inscribed into bronze panels with a reflecting light on the edge of the reflecting pool are the names of everyone who died in the 1993 and 2001 attacks. There is an electronic finder that allows you to enter a victims name and locate them on the memorial.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Movie Reviews-The Devil's Double, Conan The Barbarian and more

The Devil's Double
I want it all!!!
I wasn't going to watch this movie. But I saw that it was directed by Lee Tamahori-who directed the sadly magnificent Once Were Warriors, and the noirish Mulholland Falls. So I decided to see what he would do with this story. It turned out to be a pretty good film-perhaps even one that could win some awards. This is true despite the fact that although all the people depicted are of non-European Middle Eastern descent, the lead actors/actresses are all of Western European descent. I assume that this was done for commercial considerations as we almost never see the opposite.

The film is based on the true story of a man, Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), who was unwillingly made a body double for Uday Hussein (Dominic Cooper again), the eldest son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Whereas Saddam Hussein is shown as a cold callous man who mostly leaves citizens alone as long as they bow to his rule, Uday Hussein is depicted as a demented psychotic Freddie Mercury look-alike sybarite who views all of the Iraqi population, but especially the female half, as his personal slaves, who may be used and discarded as he sees fit.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Employment Rate: Behind the Numbers

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that the Obama administration received excellent news today. The unemployment rate fell by .4% to 8.6% for the month of November. Since the unemployment number has been the only barometer used politically to measure the success or failure of government assistance, it’s safe to say that this is pleasant news for Obama – not so much for the Republican candidates. While 8.6% isn’t great, it’s definitely better than the alternative.

We had some back and forth within the TUP staff and that got me to thinking… what is behind the numbers… So I did some digging, and this is what I found (not meant to be a complete evaluation of the economic situation, just some highlights from November):

December Book of The Month: Malcolm X-A life of reinvention by Manning Marable

Malcolm X A Life of Reinvention
by Manning Marable

Malcolm X remains a heroic, exalted icon for many people. Simultaneously, in some quarters Malcolm was a controversial, maligned and misunderstood political leader. Allegedly murdered by Nation of Islam members acting on winks and nods from the top of that organization, Malcolm's great life was tragically cut short at just 39 years of age. Manning Marable, a now deceased historian and political scientist always felt that the definitive biography and analysis of Brother Malcolm had yet to be written so he decided to write one himself.
Other Malcolm X experts, most notably Karl Evanzz, called into question some of Marable's scholarship and editorial decisions. Honestly, some conclusions Marable reached about Malcolm's life do not appear to be supported by the evidence. This caused a firestorm of controversy to erupt around the book. Some details about marital troubles didn't necessarily add a whole lot to the discussion. Unfortunately, Marable is no longer around to defend his arguments and choices as he died just as the book was released. He said that Malcolm was a hero of his but heroes deserved honest appraisals.

Still, on balance I think this will increase your understanding of Malcolm and the world he lived in, even as scholars point out that some of this book goes over well traveled territory. Please give it a read and come back to discuss. It's long but moves quickly and like its subject is very engrossing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kentucky Fried Ignorance

Unfortunately work has me busier than a one legged man in a butt-kicking contest. And believe me it's a full time operation to make sure I don't end up on the wrong side of that kick. So this will be a noticeably brief post. But I thought this news story was interesting for a number of reasons besides the obvious  "drive by and look at the ignorant goobers"aspect. Although that is fun, admittedly...

TOMAHAWK, Ky (Reuters) - A vote to bar interracial couples from a small church in eastern Kentucky has triggered hand-wringing and embarrassment.
Nine members of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church backed their former pastor, with six opposed, in Sunday's vote to bar interracial couples from church membership and worship activities. Funerals were excluded.
The vote was taken after most of the 40 people who attended Sunday services had left the church in Pike County, near the border with West Virginia. Many members left to avoid the vote.
Most members of the church "didn't want anything to do with this," said longtime church official Dean Harville, whose daughter and her black fiance had drawn pastor Melvin Thompson's ire.
At services earlier this year, Stella Harville, 24, who is working on her master's degree in optical engineering, sang "I Surrender All" with her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, 29, a Zimbabwe native, according to her father. Chikuni, an employee at Georgetown College in Kentucky, played the piano.
"There didn't appear to be any problem," Dean Harville said on Wednesday. "None whatsoever."
But Harville said Thompson told him the couple would not be allowed to sing at the church again. Thompson resigned in August but would not drop the issue.
Thompson told a local radio outlet, "I do not believe in interracial marriages, and I do not believe this (ban) will give our church a black eye at all."