Thursday, January 31, 2013

Uncle Ruckus Live Action Film Seeking Production Funds

If your like me and are obsessed with the animated, no holds bar tv show, The Boondocks, than you may also follow their updates on Facebook. For the last few days the shows page has viciously dangled an upcoming announcement before its fans, making us suffer through intense speculation of what this message could possibly be. A date for the upcoming new season? Or maybe even some clips from the long awaited new episodes. Well folks the wait is over.

Anybody Can Make It In America If They Just Work Hard Enough...Right?

The questions above touches on one of the most fundamental principles relating to America:  opportunity.  Many Americans, and just about every politician out there, pride themselves on the idea that America is the land of opportunity.  And for some, that statement is 100% accurate.  However, that doesn't seem to be the case for everybody.  I think most Americans are probably ok with notion that the American Dream (ie. opportunity) does not happen for every single person in America just so long as it happens for most Americans -- especially the ones who try hard.  But is it still true for most of us?  Even if we try hard?

A few years back we did a post on the fallacy of the American Dream which answered these questions in the negative.  It seems we are not alone in our observation.  A group has recently put out a documentary on this topic which just so happens to take place in my fair town of New York City.  The documentary, entitled "Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream?" asks a powerful question in its introduction:   In today's America, what are the chances that somebody who starts their life on this Park Avenue [in the South Bronx] will end up living on this Park Avenue [on the Upper East Side of Manhattan]?

Admittedly the documentary is a little long (about an hour) but just watch the first 2 minutes and 45 seconds to get the gist of it:

1. Does our country allow most people born into poverty the opportunity to get out of poverty?
2 .Is "Hard Work" enough?
3. If not, then why do we repeatedly say that it is?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another African American Senator: William 'Mo' Cowan

With the confirmation of Senator John Kerry to Secretary of State, the state of Massachusetts had an open Senate seat.  William 'Mo' Cowan is Governor Deval Patrick's choice to serve as the interim US senator until the successor to John Kerry is voted in June 25 during a special election.

So who is 'Mo' Cowan?  From

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Granny's Got a Gun!!!!!

Many people who are hostile to concealed carry or dismissive of an individual right to keep and bear arms like to say "No one needs a gun in today's society" or "Why does anyone need more than x" bullets. Well, recently in Detroit one suburban 56-year old great-grandmother found out that having a gun with a magazine of more than six shots can be pretty handy when you are in the process of being beaten and mugged. I'm glad she was able to defend herself. It seems as if she might need to spend some more time at the range, though. Just maybe.  In any event it's an excellent example of how when it goes down hard, you really can't count on anyone but yourself. Feminism and fatherlessness killed chivalry. Most people don't want to get involved. An older woman can't automatically rely on anyone to come to her assistance if she's being attacked. I used to ride this bus WAY BACK in the old days when I went to U-D. It's the Wild West Side of Detroit. Of course it's a good thing this didn't happen in New York, as under the new law, magazines with more than a seven round capacity are illegal. We are definitely living in strange times. Incidents like this are why I am so vociferously in support of every law abiding person's right to keep and bear arms. We live in neither heaven nor earthly utopia. This world is unfortunately full of people who live to do wrong, some areas more than others, it seems.  When a grandmother feels the need to be ready to come up blasting, something has gone DRASTICALLY wrong in our society. Watch the video below as the lady explains just what went down and how she reacted.

Obama and the White Male Power Structure

Resolved: White men run America.  You know it.  I know it. We all know it.  Let's not waste each other's time debating about whether or not this is a fact.  Of course it's a fact.  Nobody said it was fair, it just is what it is.  It may make a few of you uncomfortable, but that doesn't stop it from being true.  What, you're not convinced?  You actually need proof of this?  OK, fine.   Let's start with the basics:
  • We've had 44 Presidents throughout the history of the United States - 43 of them (97.7%) have been White men
  • White men make up 90% of the House Majority Party (the Republican Party)
  • White men make up 70% of all House Representatives
  • Within the leadership of the House: the Speaker, the Majority Leader, the Majority Whip and the Majority Chief Deputy Whip are all White men
  • White men make up 77 of the 100 U.S. Senators
  • Within the leadership of the Senate: the President, the President Pro Tempore, the Majority Leader and the Assistant Majority Leader are all White men   
  • White men make up 5 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices
  • Within the leadership of the U.S. Supreme Court: the Chief Justice is a White male
  • There are 7 members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who run our nation's military - all 7 are White men
  • If we turn to private industry, White men make up 43 (86%) of the top 50 wealthiest Americans
  • If we look at the top 50 "Fortune 500" Companies, White men make up 43 (86%) of the top 50 CEO's 
Need we go on?

Now that we've established that there is a White male power structure in America, it is easy to understand some of the criticisms of late with respect to President Obama's 2nd term cabinet appointments:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Phil Mickelson, Taxes and Fairness

You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money
-Billy Joel "Moving Out"

During my time on this planet I've known several people who are doing much better financially than I am. I'm sure you have known people more successful than you are. Some of these people were born to it or inherited it. Others worked for it. Some were smarter and harder working than I was. Some have skill sets which I lack. Other people are just older and more experienced. Other folks simply happened to marry well. In any event very few of them liked giving money away, and certainly not to the state or federal government. I remember listening to a rant by a former friend, who having built an income in the high six figures, was outraged that to her mind, so much of it, too much of it was going to the federal government. It seems like it was a weekly event of listening to her whine about taxes and how it wasn't fair and blah, blah, blah.

I've also known a few wealthy people who made it a point never to complain publicly about their taxes because they considered it gauche and something not likely to engender sympathy. I certainly didn't feel much sympathy or empathy for the friend I mentioned. This lack of sympathy often occurs because when you're living paycheck to paycheck you don't see how someone making high multiples of what you make can have too many financial problems. I look at some people making more than I make and think they have it made. But I also know some people who earn much less than I do and think I have it made. And I assure you that is so not the case. It's all relative.

This feeling of "Buddy we've all got it tough" could be what golfer and California resident Phil Mickelson ran into when he complained about the high taxes he was paying, and specifically the increased taxes he would owe under the fiscal cliff deal and California's just passed 13% income tax rate.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour: Sunday, January 27th @ 5PM EST

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour

Join us Sunday, January 27th at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.

This week's discussion:

  • President Obama's Inauguration Speech
  • Hillary Clinton’s Testimony on Benghazi
  • President Obama's "inter-session" appointments ruled unconstitutional
  • The Urban Beat
    • Robin Roberts is back. Despite her push to increase bone marrow donors, there's still a shortage of African-American Donors. What can we do?
Listen Live Online HERE or 
Call in to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Movie Reviews-Supernatural Season Five, Amelie

Supernatural Season Five
created by Eric Kripke
In Season Four Sam (Jason Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) sniped and feuded all season long about Sam's use of strange psychic powers, the disgusting things he was doing to maintain these powers and his closeness (that kind too) with the demon Ruby (Genevieve Padalecki) who claimed to want to help Sam kill the demon Lilith. Dean and Bobby (Jim Beaver) took drastic steps to try to "cure" Sam, including locking him in a supernatural detox tank, from which he escaped. The bad blood culminated in an ugly, vicious, lengthy knock-down dragout no holds barred sibling battle royale which the bigger, stronger and by now much angrier Sam won. Despite Dean's final warning Sam chose Ruby over his brother and went off to kill Lilith with Ruby's assistance.

Well it turns out that sometimes big brother Dean really does know best. Trusting demons is never wise. Sam killed Lilith and got revenge for all the evil things she had done. But as Ruby triumphantly revealed to Sam, Lilith's death was the final seal to unlock the key to Hell. Ruby was a secret agent who was ordered to manipulate Sam into killing Lilith. Lilith was a willing sacrifice. By killing Lilith Sam unwittingly opened the path for Lucifer to invade the earth and set off the Apocalypse. Dean learns where Sam is and with Sam's help, kills Ruby. But it's too late. The Morning Star himself is entering our plane of existence

The brothers mysteriously escape Lucifer's arrival. They don't know how they did it and the angels or demons don't know either. The brothers get more bad news. As things are in Earth so are they in Heaven. Just as Sam and Dean have a fractious relationship with Sam being a rebellious son to John Winchester while Dean was a dutiful son, Lucifer and Michael have the same exact relationship with each other and God. In fact each Winchester brother is destined to play a part in the Final Battle, on opposite sides! When Dean broke under torture in Hell and agreed to torture others, that was the breaking of the first seal and Sam's killing of Lilith was the last.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Guest Post: Beyonce Lip-Syncing: Can We Please Move On. It’s Not That Deep

Today's guest post comes to us from the heart of DC Tasha Rose.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below:

If you’re anything like me, you are sick to death of the Beyonce Inauguration story by now.

On the one hand we have those such as the commentators on Fox news last night comparing Beyonce's lip-synching with fraud, and on the other, we have the Beyonce Stan’s (i.e. extreme, die-hard fans) defending her to the death. Somewhere in the middle we have those, such as me that don't really care, or who know a little something about performing and see how minor & common this little situation is as it pertains to performing in certain venues and temperatures. What amazes me is that today, with bigger issues and topics to talk about, that this is making news. I'm by no means surprised, because that is just the way things our society seems to operate. I even acknowledge that this existence of this column just proves that. But what I struggle to understand is why is this news? Oh that’s right, because our society is celebrity obsessed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Did Cory Booker Violate an Unwritten Rule on Protocol?

I am fully aware that a seat in the United States Senate doesn’t belong to the individual who occupies it, but belongs to We the People. I know that the US Senate seat in Massachusetts didn't belong to Ted Kennedy, even though we all identified the seat with him. However the reason we identified that Senate seat as Ted Kennedy’s seat, is because the people of Massachusetts reelected Ted Kennedy seven times. He must have done something right to hold the trust of the people for so long. I don’t live in New Jersey, but I’m leaning towards the same sentiment on Frank Lautenberg. Lautenberg has not served as long as Kennedy, but he’s served a considerable amount of time; 1982-2001 and 2003 to present day. Obviously, he’s done something right. People don't give you 29 years for doing nothing.  The other Senator in New Jersey is Bob Mendez who joined the Senate in 2006 through appointment and later by full-term election. So knowing this, it came as a surprise when current Mayor of Newark, New Jersey Cory Booker announced last December that he was exploring a run for the US Senate to represent New Jersey. Who does Mayor Booker intend to replace?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Testimony Before Congress

Today our outgoing Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton gave testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she handed adversaries of the Obama Administration the business. See the exchange below.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hot for Teacher-Adult Actress Teacher Stacie Halas Fired

I've got it bad
I've got it bad
I've got it bad
I'm hot for teacher
Hot For Teacher-Van Halen
It's been a minute since I was in grade/middle school. I don't remember having crushes on any of the women teachers there. I knew virtually nothing about their personal life and wasn't that interested. It was big news when occasionally their boyfriend or husband would pick them up from or drop them off at school. I mean who knew that Miss or Mrs. so-n-so actually had a life outside of the classroom? Of course I was a bit of a solipsistic young lad and the times were more conservative so it wasn't surprising that I didn't know anything about a teacher's extra curricular life or her activities and lifestyle before she became my teacher. Of course, as the Stacie Halas story shows us, maybe it's a good thing that I didn't know anything about my teachers' lives prior to them becoming an educator.

32 year old Stacie Halas was a California middle school teacher who was recently fired from her job. She lost her appeal of that firing as well. Why was she axed? Well she was terminated from her position because she was, prior to working as a teacher in her current school, but perhaps not other schools, an adult film actress. Evidently some other teachers and/or students recognized Halas' .... (ahem)... face and did some quick research to make sure. Once this information became public, Halas was let go. People found interviews in her movies in which she talked about being a teacher and hoped her other job choices would not be discovered. I wonder who got the job of downloading and reviewing those movies, purely for research purposes of course.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Movie Reviews-Zero Dark Thirty, The Baytown Outlaws

Zero Dark Thirty
directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Zero Dark Thirty (ZDT) is an extremely well crafted film that flirts with a message that is morally despicable and vacuous. It is about the search for and ultimate assassination of Osama Bin Laden (OBL). The driving force behind this is a midlevel CIA analyst, Maya, played with barely restrained fury and icy discipline by Jessica Chastain. Maya is less analyst and more Valkyrie. Maya is likely a composite character. Does the first "other" in an environment need to try harder to fit into the dominant model? Yes. The first black policemen or firemen had to deal strategically with racism in order to lay the groundwork for those coming after them. In the seventies and eighties some professional office clothing for women tried to hide that women aren't men and don't look like men. In ZDT Maya is ice water, that is when she's not cursing at CIA Director Leon Panetta (James Gandolfini) or engaging in other bad behavior usually considered to be men's bailiwick. Perhaps this story element appealed to Bigelow, who is a first of her own. Only Bigelow can say for sure. It certainly seemed that way. 

Better writers and smarter people than I have debated ZDT's stance on torture. Naomi Wolf compared Bigelow to Leni Riefenstahl, which may seem like a low blow, but shows you how seriously people take the issues. Bigelow defended herself by writing that "depiction is not endorsement" and that smart or artistic people should understand that. I don't think that Bigelow consciously set out to make a pro-torture movie. And I don't know and don't really care about her politics or those of the film's primary actors. But she opened herself up to criticism by claiming that the film is "journalistic". ZDT is a film that strongly implies that:
  • Torture works
  • Torture helped us find OBL 
  • Everyone in the relevant government agencies knew about the torture 
  • A woman is heroic to the extent that she engages in morally questionable behavior, just like the guys 
  • Torture is a fitting punishment for some people.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Manti Te'o Girlfriend Hoax and Notre Dame

People will do anything to keep the hype going. That's the lesson I learned from the Manti Te'o story. Actually that's the second lesson I learned. The first lesson I learned about Manti Te'o was the one that Eddie Lacy delivered a few weeks back as he ran around, through, over and under Te'o in an Alabama a$$-kicking of the Notre Dame football team and especially of Te'o, whose job it was to stop the run. Ok well Eddie Lacy made Te'o look silly. But Lacy did that to a lot of people this year. No big deal, right? Te'o was still a character guy at a character school (Notre Dame) who had been through a lot of tragedy with his grandmother and girlfriend dying so close to each other (within 6 hours). Te'o was everything that was right about college football. He was classy, honest and hardworking. If he could persevere despite those body blow tragedies then surely we lesser beings could get off our keister, get out there and win one for the Gipper, right?

Well not so fast. Deadspin did some very basic fact checking of Te'o's story and started to find some discrepancies. The fact checkers found some very ugly and obvious discrepancies. Like no one had ever seen this Te'o girlfriend. Evidently Te'o had been dating Mr. Snuffleupagus. His girlfriend did not exist.

Lance Armstrong is a Liar and a Junkie!

Earlier this week I learned with everyone else that Lance Armstrong planned to sit down with Oprah Winfrey and admit to the world, that he did indeed use performance enhancement drugs while competing in the Tour de France. Initially, I felt a deep sense of disappointment, not for Lance the athlete, but for Lance the man behind the LIVESTRONG organization. The LIVESTRONG organization holds a special place in my heart because of their tireless work and dedication to raising awareness and funds towards cancer research. Initially, I planned to come to you all today in defense of Lance. Because in my mind, despite Lance's egregious acts, betrayal of his supporters and all athletes worldwide, I strangely felt that LIVESTRONG trumped all of that. However, I am now annoyed and somewhat torn on how I should feel about Lance Armstrong and his admitted drug use.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are Employers Using ObamaCare as a Scapegoat to Cut Back on Workers' Pay?

Last week Taco Bell and Wendy's became the latest businesses to claim that the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") is responsible for their decision to cut back on workers' hours (and thus, workers' pay).  We've heard similar claims from Papa John's Pizza, Applebee's and Darden Restaurants which owns Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.  According to these food industry corporations, ObamaCare's requirement that they provide health care for their "full time" employees is too onerous.  This provision of the healthcare law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2014, impose a $2,000 per employee penalty on employers with more than 50 employees who do not offer health insurance to their full-time workers.  The Internal Revenue Code defines "full time" employees as anybody who works over 30 hours per week.  Even though this provision of ObamaCare does not take effect until a year from now, some of the above-mentioned corporations have already begun to reduce their workers' weekly hours to anything below 30, citing ObamaCare as the reason for the change.  Which begs the question: if ObamaCare hasn't even taken effect yet, then how can it be forcing these businesses to cut back on employee hours?  Is ObamaCare the real cause here or is there something else going on?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NRA Gun Ad Attacking Obama

I don't have any deep analysis here. I just want to know what do you think of this new NRA advertisement. Slate writer Matt Yglesias tweeted that he was
"Pretty comfortable saying that the president’s children are in fact more important than yours"

What do you think?

Louis Seidman: Is the Constitution Outmoded??

After the electoral stomping that President Obama gave to a hapless Mitt Romney as well as the slow transformation of once solidly red states into purple or even blue states, many people on the political left are chafing at limits on Presidential and/or majoritarian power. Whether it's Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow getting their talking points from the White House and dutifully coming out against whatever the "evil Republicans" are doing or immigration rights activists urging the President to meet their goals through executive orders or law school deans jawboning the Supreme Court to not invalidate a law because the President really wanted it, some folks aren't fond of limited government or separation of powers, at least as long as their guy is in charge.

There's an unseemly amount of outrage, among the Right and the Left that the other side is able to thwart their goals by using procedural mechanisms built into our system of governance. This is currently most obvious among the Left but that's just because the Left is politically ascendant while the Right is still slightly better at unified opposition-or at least it was until the fiscal cliff deal.

If you ever took a civics or political science class, you know that we have three co-equal branches of government. The President doesn't get to make law, only enforce it. The courts can interpret but have no enforcement capacity. Congress can withhold money and write law but can't tell the executive branch what to do. So theoretically, each branch can prevent the other two from carrying out unlawful or unconstitutional actions. And human nature being what it is each branch tends to be jealous of its powers and prerogatives. Purely from spite one branch may oppose another branch and limit its options. This rivalry and jealously should work to the citizens' advantage as there is no all powerful centralized government which can create, enforce and interpret law all at once.

That's the theory of our Constitution.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5-Year Old Nailla Robinson Found

Over the last few weeks we've all shared and reflected upon the common sentiment that the safest place for a child other than their residence, is a school. Even in those unfortunate circumstances where a home may not be the place of safety and solitude that all children require, we should always be able to count on our schools to shield and protect our children from any unnecessary pain or danger. This story will most certainly continue to unfold over the next few days. People will dig and try to come up with their own conclusion or create scenarios around why this incident took place yesterday. I'm just glad that Nailla Robinson was found at a park nearby from where she was taken. She appeared to be safe and unharmed and will soon be reunited with her family and loved ones. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Scandal and the Black Blogosphere

We break away from our regularly scheduled political discourse to discuss the political television dynamo that is Scandal.

Scandal was the first prime-time show to feature an African-American woman in a lead role in decades. Groundbreaking is the word that comes to mind with the kind of flutter Kerry Washington and Shonda Rhimes caused when this show was first announced for ABC's spring debut back in 2012. Now that the ground has been considerably broken Scandal is now open as fair game for criticism just like any other show that comes on the boob tube. If you're wondering like me, "What's there to criticize, the show is ORGASMICALLY AMAZING," then brace yourself.

In one corner you have Kirsten West Savali's musing that "some" (and I use that term as loosely as possible) Black men have a problem with Scandal. In the other corner you have a rebuttal from a Black man of The Uppity Negro Network who says Ms. Savali is straight bugging.

Feel free to dive in to both of these manifestos to see what the drama is all about. If that's just to much print on screen to read for a Monday, then allow me to be brief in my assessment of the beef.

Self-procaimed scholars (read: multi-degreed bloggers) can find anything to take issue with, but they should probably leave entertainment alone.

But if I must dig through both arguments, I find myself agreeing with the brotha from the Uppity Negro Network. Sorry Ms. Savali, much respect, but you don't start a post talking about an unscientific study and then make assertions based on this unscientific study about Black women being powerless, emasculation, the role of Black male masculinity, and allusions of misogyny. I'm proud Ms. Savali that you blew the GRE verbal section out of the water but these multi-syllabic words don't add any merit to your unscientific study. Your study is still unscientific making your analysis to go along with it an opinion, a vey well written opinion, but an opinion none-the-less.

Now remember the great thing about an opinion is just like _____ (insert appropriately titled body part here) everyone has one.

Ms. Savali's entire take on "some" Black men and Scandal is they hate the show because a Black woman is doing a White man... and well might I add. Personally, if people are still fixated on this glaring scandal in Scandal then I do believe you've missed the whole purpose of the show. Shonda Rhimes addressed the Sally Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson undertones of Liv and Fitz's relationship this season. She went back and explained why Liv left the White House so she would no longer be a playmate for the President. Personal feelings of interracial extra-marital relationships aside, this is not the only story line of Scandal. While an easy story line to come back to, especially because of the power dynamic, Waiting to Exhale this is not.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We're Back!!! That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour: Sunday, January 13th @ 5PM EST

Happy New Year!!! Welcome to Season 2 of That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour

Join us Sunday, January 13th at 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.

This weeks discussion:
  • Round 2 of The Obama Administration
    • The Fiscal Deal - What did we get?
    • President Obama nominates Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense, John Brennan to Head the Central Intelligence Agency, and Jack Lew to Secretary of Treasury
    • The looming debt-ceiling debate and budget crisis
    • What should President Obama in his 2nd term?
  • Our National Conversation on Gun Control
    • Vice President Biden meets with the NRA
    • School shooting at California High School on Thursday
    • Should we have a national ban on Assault Riffles?
  • The Urban Beat
    • NYPD Stop and Frisk Policy found unconstitutional
Listen Live Online HERE or 
Call in to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Music Reviews-Fishbone, Buddy Guy, Wanda Robinson, Keely Smith

Fishbone is a band originally from Los Angeles. They originally all met in junior high and high school. Fishbone is extremely difficult to define. Frantic, exuberant, brash, raucous, happy, eclectic and funky might be a good way to start but that wouldn't be half of it. Fishbone's fundamental building block is probably ska, that Jamaican and Caribbean forerunner to reggae. But although ska themes run through a lot of their work they also make use of punk, metal, alternative hardcore, funk, soul, jazz, reggae, and occasionally a little bit of blues, blues-rock and rock-n-roll just for fun. Lyrically they have a great deal of absurdist and political humor in their music. They're anything but dull. The musical humor reminds me a little bit of Frank Zappa. Outside of Funkadelic I can't think of too many other bands who could do so many different things well. Because Fishbone is so eclectic their early albums have a bit of a roller coaster feel. There aren't necessarily unifying themes. There were numerous songwriters in the band, something else which gave Fishbone a lot of different musical paths and sounds to investigate, sometimes in the same song. There's a little Funkadelic in their sound but they also owe something to musicians like The B-52's, The Untouchables, The Bus Boys, Bad Brains, Fela, The Skatalites , Dead Kennedys, and Led Zeppelin.

I first ran across them in the John Cusack movie Tapeheads, where they were playing a blues/country song "Slow Bus Moving" about busing, interracial sex and the KKK. It was so warped and so unusual for blues material that I decided to look up the rest of the music that they did. Fishbone existed before the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction, Extreme, or No Doubt. They influenced all of those bands. Fishbone was quite outspoken about their experiences of music industry racism, something that probably contributed to bad relations with industry insiders.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Scandal" Looks at Torture & the Constitution (SPOILER ALERT)

A few weeks ago we took at look at the new hit show on ABC "Scandal" (starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope) because it addressed Hollywood's favorite Constitutional Amendment of all time: the 25th Amendment.  This is the Amendment that, in theory, allows the Vice President to take over as President if he or she collects enough signatures from the heads of the Executive Branches [See our old post to see the discussion on that issue].  Last night's show took on a different and more realistic Constitutional issue which our country still struggles with: torture.  This would be a good time for a spoiler alert so here it goes in nice big font so that you can't miss it:


HBO Game of Thrones: Stark Children Rap

I found this on a great fan site. Unfortunately the site's comments are dark and full of spoilers so I won't link to it here. Anyway this video is just silliness. Obviously none of the actors involved should give up their day jobs. This is from the commentary track on the upcoming Season Two DVD/Blu-Ray set, which will be released on February 19th.
March 31st is only 79 days away....

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

AIG Should Sue!

Yes I said it! However, before you decide to jump down my throat, let's review the facts and take a moment to fully understand what's going on here. I'm going to reflect on a Christmas morning conversation that I had with my Republican friends in upstate New York. Now, they may not agree with me on this matter (I've yet to build up the stamina to check in with them), but the statement that rang through my head as I read the details of this AIG vs. The American People debacle, were the words of one of my dear friends, "Capitalism is great, because it has the ability to make the tough decisions that humans just can't make."  This is true and indicative of American economics. If I were a less knowledgeable person who didn't know anything about American business or the rationale for our economic decisions, all someone would need to do is recite that statement about capitalism and I would fully understand what the deal was. 

I can scream and preach all day and all night until I am blue in the face about the importance of placing humanity on a higher pedestal than capitalism. It doesn't mean squat because humanity will not put food on my table or keep the lights on, that is the job of capitalism, 
profit's offspring. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Royce White: Sick Man or Unrealistic Child?

Every job has certain requirements. Generally speaking the more difficult these requirements are, the better paying the job will be. The more important the job is, the more critical these requirements are. This is common sense. I'm a solitary personality. I'm not a particularly adept or engaging public speaker. I don't like traveling more than absolutely necessary. So I work in a career field and more specifically in a job class where constant travel and public presentations aren't huge requirements. I very rarely must do either. Looking back I can say that I probably consciously or subconsciously steered my career this way. It was my decision. I realize now that I must change to make more money but that's my cross to bear.

Let's say I applied for and obtained a job where I needed to be an enthusiastic extroverted IT manager leading cross-functional teams in different countries, traveling most of the year and selling work to various business owners. This job would pay two to three times what I earn now, not even counting bonus. That's good. Immediately after I got the job assume I told my new boss that I didn't want to travel, hated doing presentations, didn't like rejection, corporate rivalries and backbiting, and disliked being responsible for anyone's work but my own. But I still wanted the big paycheck. Well my new boss would probably tell me to leave. She would be upset. Unproductive or unhappy subordinates make her job more difficult, call her judgment into question and put her year end bonus and future promotions at risk. So before hiring someone at a high skill, well paid job, companies usually try to make sure that the person can do the work and will be happy doing it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A 2nd Term With Nothing to Lose?: President Obama Serves Republicans a Dose of their Own Medicine

"This is an in-your-face nomination by the President to all of us who are supportive of Israel. I don't know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon -- little, if any -- so I think it's an incredibly controversial choice." - US Senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (R)

Ladies and Gentleman get ready for a fun ride. Over the next four years, I think we are going to see another side to President Obama. A take no prisoners middle finger in the air, kind of Presidency. Probably the Presidency that everyone wanted and expected to see during his first 4-years, but obviously couldn't because the President didn't have the political capital to exercise such prudence against his adversaries - republicans in congress. 

Over the weekend we learned that President Obama intends to make to crucial appointments this week; Secretary of Defense and Head of the CIA. His first nominee has both Republicans and Democrats scrambling with their undergarments in a bunch. Chuck Hagel is set to be nominated by President Obama to Secretary of Defense, a post currently held by Leon Panetta. I don't know anything about Chuck Hagel except that he is a former republican US Senator from the State of Nebraska and a highly decorated war veteran. However,If I were to solely base my thoughts on him from what I've read across the various news sites, and the panic attack that Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had above, I think I might like Chuck. 

Marine Joshua Boston on Gun Ban: Unconstitutional Laws aren't Laws

The atrocity at Sandy Hook caused much discussion about what the United States Congress and/or the President can do about gun violence in this country. There has been a lot of talk about Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposed assault weapons ban, Vice-President Biden's task force on guns and President Obama's hints about assault weapons bans or other possible actions that he can take without Congressional approval. As you might imagine almost none of these ideas have gone over very well with people with expansive or as they would term it strict constitutional views on gun rights. One man who is getting some attention for speaking out against such possible gun control legislation is (former) Marine and Afghanistan Veteran Joshua Boston, who recently responded online at CNN to Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposed assault weapons ban legislation
in pretty much the same manner as King Leonidas responded to a Persian demand to throw down his weapons all those centuries ago. His letter in full is just below:

Senator Dianne Feinstein,
I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government's right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma'am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one. 
I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America. I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man.
I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public. We, the people, deserve better than you. 
Respectfully Submitted,
Joshua Boston Cpl, United States Marine Corps 2004-2012

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Reviews-The Silmarillion, The Shining

The Silmarillion
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion is Tolkien's earlier work. It was published posthumously by his son Christopher. Unlike the Lord of The Rings (LOTR), which was fixed in Tolkien's cosmology by the author's trick of having the hobbits write down their adventures for posterity, The Silmarillion was a work in progress. In Tolkien's world The Silmarillion is simultaneously the Bible, the ur-text, the Word of God and legends handed down from ancestors of elves, men and dwarves through untold eons of time. Tolkien was constantly modifying and updating the work, changing stories, adding and subtracting characters and altering motivations. Like the Bible the initial published book is as much a product of interpreter editing as it is the unvarnished authorial word of God. There are many other Tolkien notes and stories published since The Silmarillion that contradict or further illuminate stories told in this book. In some cases Tolkien had written himself into a corner and hadn't figured a way out. In other cases he hadn't decided on competing theories for certain characters or world events. Even so, this is a very satisfying book. Tolkien certainly knew how to create a living breathing world, back story and animating mythos and that is what The Silmarillion is. Much of The Silmarillion's story happens many thousands of years before LOTR or even untold eons before that, when the universe itself was being created.

This is an intensely Christian work. Although Tolkien famously disliked allegory and said so repeatedly, this book would not have been possible without his deep and profound belief in Christianity, specifically Catholicism. Although over time this theme becomes apparent, especially if you look for it, he never beats you over the head with it. Tolkien also skillfully reworks Celtic, Norse, Finnish, Classical and even some Romantic myths to make an incredible story.

The Silmarillion starts with Eru (God) creating the Ainur (Angels). With them he creates Time and the Universe including Earth. But the Angels are very much sub-creators, they can influence but can't create anything on their own. One Angel named Melkor who is more powerful than all the others combined isn't too happy about this and tries in vain against Eru's will to make his own creations. Eru rebukes him and shows him that no matter what Melkor tries to do everything in the end just rebounds to Eru's glory.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who Were the 85 Republicans Who Voted For the Fiscal Cliff Deal?

For those of you who may be new to the blog, FED UP and I are poker players.  Not necessarily "Rounders" per se but we've each won a few tournaments in our day.  One of the most interesting aspects of poker to me is that you really get to see a person's true colors.  When you force somebody to make a decision at the poker table, you witness their true thought process as they either put up or shut up.  From where I sit, this whole Fiscal Cliff debacle was one big poker game.  The President was dealt a pair of Aces and, after he won re-election, the flop came along and gave him a 3rd Ace for a game winning three-of-a-kind.  The Republicans, on the other hand, had a 7-2 off suit and, as luck would have it, they were never able to pair the 7 or the 2.  Before the normal round of bluffing even had a chance to take place, the President telegraphed the fact that he had the winning hand.  There was no mistaking it.  He knew it.  They knew it.  It was all over but the crying.  The only thing left at that point was to see how the Republicans would actually play their losing hand.  As Kenny Rogers once said "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," and the proper move here for the Republicans, the respectable move, was to fold.  When the Fiscal Cliff Deal was voted on, there were 242 Republicans in the House of Representatives.  85 of them "folded" (i.e., voted for the deal).  The rest of them, for reasons unknown, decided to go "all in" with their 7-2 off suit and lose.

This got me to thinking: these 85 Republicans just might be the only hope we have left at both sides actually working together.  Just out of curiousity, who are these cats?  And more importantly, how many of them will be around in this new 113th Congress?  Answer after the jump.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Something Wicked This Way Comes - THE BUDGET

I’m sure you’ve all been keeping up with the “fiscal cliff” debacle going on in our nation’s capital.  Riveting stuff, I know.  Taking the entire country -- and the world -- right up to the Thelma and Louise line before making a decision to raise taxes on some and do nothing on spending cuts.  However, if you’d allow me to, I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an illustration for our current political climate by quoting one of Canada’s famous cultural illustrators, Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO):

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  B-,b-,b-, baby, you just ain’t seen na,na,nothing yet.  Here’s somethin’ that you’re never gonna forget. B-,b,-,b-, baby, you just ain’t seen na,na,nothing yet.”

Now, while our prophetic brothers to the North weren’t speaking about our current congress while riffin' in 1974, it sure does help me find some bit a levity – even if it is extremely small and superficial – when I think about what’s coming down the pike.  

Kansas: Who's Your Daddy???

What does it mean to be a father?

A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child.
A man who adopts a child.
A man who raises a child.

Ideally I think the first and third definitions of that word should be found in the same man. But for better or worse times have changed. Most children born to women under thirty are being raised in single parent (primarily mother only) homes. Women who are lesbian or bisexual are marrying each other and bearing children or, in states where such marriages are not recognized, living together cobbling together piecemeal, such legal recognition as they can get.

I generally don't care about such changes though I'm not completely convinced they're good for the children involved or for society as a whole. I'm somewhat conservative socially. But it's not my life and the kids involved aren't mine so whatever the adults want to do in pursuit of their own happiness is more or less just dandy with me, provided they and their kids keep their hands out of my wallet and do not try to tell me what to think.

Of course, biology being what it is, it isn't possible for anyone in a gay male couple to bear children or for anyone in a lesbian couple to sire children. Those actions must be taken with the help of others, i.e. often surrogate mothers or sperm donors. Presumably, unless you happen to be a polygamist looking to deepen his bench, two's company and three's a crowd. The surrogate/donor is usually not asked to be a part of the gay/lesbian couple's life or the child's life. The surrogate/donor might be asked to sign a document giving away rights. Everyone's different of course but many state laws do not recognize more than one mother and one father nor do they accept "gender neutral" roles for father and mother.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How Much Do You Have To Make To Be "Rich"?

Last night our nation's "leaders" debated a measure on the floor of the House of Representatives aimed at ameliorating the effects of the so-called "fiscal cliff" that America went over yesterday when Congress failed to act by midnight on December 31, 2012.1  Since technically taxes went up for all of us yesterday, one of the sticking points to this debate was whether or not to allow the Bush tax cuts to sunset for the "rich."  Begging the question of how we define "rich."  How much money does an individual or a couple need to make in a year in order to be classified as "rich."  Initially, President Obama set this threshold at individuals making over $250,000 a year.  During the course of the fiscal cliff negotiations, the President raised this threshold to $400,000 a year for individuals, and $450,000 a year for couples.  The Senate adopted this threshold and the House voted in favor of the $400/$450k threshold last night 257 to 167.  But I don't really care to talk about the fiscal cliff.  I'm sure the news pundits will explore the ramifications of that issue over the coming weeks.  I'm more interested in exploring our collective perceptions of what we consider financially "rich" in America.  Does earning $250,000 a year make you rich?  $300,000?  $500,000? A cool million?  At what magic number can most of us point to you and agree that you are, in fact, "rich"?

The answer, of course, depends on where you live.