Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Kanye West - It's YOUR Ignorance NOT Racism

Visionary Kanye West Shares His Vision w/ Photographer
Visionary. Revolutionary. Inventor.

Originially, I planned to come to you today with a long winded explanation of everything I found wrong with this interview and Kanye West as a person. However, i've decided to take a different route and let you review the evidence and make a decision for yourself.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Reviews-313:Life in the Motor City, Frank Frazetta: Icon, Great Feuds In History

313: Life in The Motor City
by John Carlisle
John Carlisle is a native Detroit journalist who has written about and photographed the city for the local "alternative" newspaper, The Metro Times. 313: Life in the Motor City is a collection of photographs and columns about the city and its various people. Most of these stories are broadly speaking positive but quirky. There are a few tales that will make you look strangely at the people described or the author, a few that might make you say you'll never visit Detroit and a lot that will make you say you want to get on the next plane and see things for yourself. 313 is the telephone area code for Detroit.

The theme of the book is that Detroiters, good, bad or otherwise are survivors and hustlers. When I write hustler I mean that in the best sense of the word though there are a few legally or morally dubious people detailed. This book shows Detroiters as people who may never quite reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but they certainly won't stop working to get there. Hard work pays. Most of the people in this book are hard workers. They make the best out of what they have to work with, which in most cases ranges from nothing at all to not very much. But they keep punching and fighting no matter what. That is the Detroit way.

Although the stories in this book were written and published before the recent events around the emergency manager and pension funds, the book definitely captures the sense of general decline that would lead to those occurrences. But the stories, though often gritty are nonetheless often optimistic. There's a lot of good news in this book. I wouldn't term it poverty porn. Carlisle is obviously interested in seeing the city and its people do well.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Suffocating Echo Chamber

This isn't anything you haven't heard before.  However, I do think it was a good read from the New York Time's Nicholas D. Kristof.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
When Senator Ted Cruz of La Mancha jumped on his trusty steed and charged the windmills, he explained: “Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy.” He added that accepting the Affordable Care Act would be like appeasing the Nazis. 

Cruz is a smart man, and maybe this is just disingenuous demagoguery. But there’s a scarier possibility: After spending too much time in the Republican echo chamber, he may believe what he says. 

In the 1990s, as conservative talk radio spread across America, liberals felt victimized. But, in retrospect, the rise of talk radio, Fox News Channel and right-wing Web sites may have done greatest harm to conservatives themselves. 

Move Over Stop And Frisk - Here Comes The Street-Harassment App!

"Well since “stop and frisk” is on the way out, and black men seem to be the target demographic for “The war against street harassment”, maybe they can just substitute “stop and gag”. Can’t let all that taxpayer money go to waste. Got to give the cops something to do."
-A commenter in response to my article, "Considering Tatyana’s Street Harassment “Crusade” at Just Four Guys

No sooner than my recent article taking up the burning issue of our era, "street harassment" hit the Interwebs, did one of my readers alert me to the fact that, as the quote above so presciently observes, there ARE indeed moves afoot to criminalize this supposed pandemic of the behaviors of lecherous Men. The Atlantic ran an article about two weeks ago, detailing how the Hollaback! organization, a multi-state "the sky is falling" franchise chockfull of the kinds of Do-Gooders one is likely to run into in Left-leaning havens like New York City, has released an updated version of their original "street harassment app" that came out back in 2010. The newer version - "Hollaback! 2.0" if you will - was granted $20K USD in taxpayer funds back in 2011 and was recently released for use in the Big Apple with the blessings and support of local politicos Julissa Ferraras and Christine Quinn - the latter of which being a mayoral candidate in her own right. Aside from all the usual "features" you'd expect from an app - like the ability to take and catalog pictures and/or video footage of the putative "offenders", GPS stuff and balloons mapping when and where some guy you don't like was, gasp! looking at you - the app has raised concerns among the Best and Brightest for one other updated feature: the ability to collate data. You see, when you use the app, you can then send your findings in to a kind of Big Blue database - in this case, something called Councilstat - which kinda sounds like Compstat, doesn't it?-where, instead of merely the mayor of NYC will have access to such "reports", just the NYC council members. Like Ms. Ferraras. Or Ms. Quinn.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Marissa Alexander Gets a New Trial

Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman who was sentenced to an unnerving 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot that didn't hurt anyone, will get a new trial.

Jury Duty: Who Are Your Peers?

What is a peer?

Well according to the dictionary a peer is a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else.  A peer is one that is of equal standing with another or especially one who belongs to the same societal group based on age, grade or status.

You have a constitutional right to a criminal trial by a jury of your peers. I will leave it up to the experts like The Janitor or Old Guru to fully break down exactly what are the exceptions to that rule and what peers mean in a legal setting but for many non-lawyers I think it's safe to say that in that context peers would mean adult US citizens. There are of course some questions about whether or not a criminal defendant is guaranteed to have a jury made up of people who share their immutable characteristics (I don't believe this is the case) or whether the state can deliberately and maliciously exclude people who share such characteristics with the defendant (also I don't think this is, with a few exceptions, the case).

But in today's world of ever increasing globalization and immigration, should peer be restricted to US citizens? And when it comes to such things as elections and jury duty who really gets the last word? The federal government or the states? Well that answer can often depend on which side you're on when it comes to such things as immigration. People who point to federal supremacy when a state like Arizona tries to make life more difficult for illegal immigrants often turn a blind eye when a state like California tries to make life easier for them. And people who scream about the primacy of states rights when Alabama attempts to kick out illegal immigrants wax poetic about federal supremacy when California, Illinois or New York try to do end runs around specific federal programs designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Poll: The Wire vs. Breaking Bad

Earlier this week, I posed a question to my blog partners: With The Wire and Breaking Bad being called 'The Greatest Show Ever,' which is better? They both can't hold the number one spot. The response was interesting and varied. So, I'll ask you all the same question. Which is the better show? Give us your thoughts in the comment section.  A case could be made for neither or both.  Or, as The Janitor stated, it may depend on the season.  All good points.  Also, what makes these shows (and shows like them) so attractive to American audiences?

Also interesting to note: The Wire was only nominated two times for an Emmy.  Both were for writing.  No actors were ever nominated for their work on The Wire.  Why did The Wire receive similar praise to Breaking Bad, but receive none of the accolades?  Breaking Bad has received NUMEROUS EMMY and Golden Globe nominations and wins.  Just asking...

Let me know your thoughts.

  The Wire vs. Breaking Bad

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Terrorists Defeated at Shopping Mall in Kenya

By now you've probably heard about the tragic set of events in the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya where armed young men claiming to be members of Al Shabaab (literal translation in Arabic, "the boys" or "the lads"), an affiliate of Al Qaeda, took hostages after killing and injuring several innocent civilians.  Well that siege appears to be over.  The New York Times reported the following just moments ago:

NAIROBI, Kenya — Claiming to have “ashamed and defeated our attackers,” President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya on Tuesday declared victory over the Islamists militants who stormed into a crowded Nairobi shopping mall and killed dozens of civilians.
In a national address, Mr. Kenyatta declared three days of mourning, saying that 61 civilians and six members of Kenya’s security forces had died in the effort to retake the mall. He added that “five terrorists were killed with gunfire” and that 11 suspects were in custody.
“These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons wherever they are,” he said. “Kenya endured. Kenya endures.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Considering Tatyana’s Street Harassment “Crusade”

"This is their idea of debate - hog the Public Square and drive everyone else out!"
-Dinesh D'Souza, Kings College debate with Christopher Hitchens, Oct 22, 2007

Last Friday over at the popular website Very Smart Brothas, I participated in a discussion on the question of Street Harassment, the latest tempest-in-a-teapot "cause" on the part of what have come to be known, perhaps appropriately so, as Internet Feminists. A number of them have raised a ruckus over the past few years, and seems to have been successful in garnering their fifteen minutes of infamy.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kerry Washington was NOT Robbed!

The power of diversity in television is very apparent tonight. For the first time ever, I actually sat through the entire emmy broadcast. Early in the evening I declared that I was watching because I wanted to see Kerry Washington make history and be the first black woman to win Best Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series. A win for Kerry would have been so much more than history, because not only did she deliver an emmy worthy performance as "Olivia Pope," she would have pulled out a win against some serious competition. Kerry was up against actresses who all delivered emmy worthy performances in their respective roles -- particularly Claire Danes. When the envelope was finally opened this evening and Kerry Washington's name was not called, yes I was disappointed but not pissed off and thinking that she was robbed. I watch Homeland and believe that Claire Danes delivered a performance that was worthy of an emmy win -- even against Kerry Washington.

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

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, September 22 at 5pm (ET).

Listen Live Online HERE 

Or Call In to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Does the President Need A Different Style?

Recently with the self-imposed confusion over policy in Syria, new threats over government shutdown, the debt ceiling, gun control defeat, the sequester, the liberal revolt over Larry Summer's possible appointment as Fed Chairman, and a few other so-called controversies there were quite a few articles and columns questioning, mocking or outright attacking President Obama's personality and leadership style. Some were questioning his manly vigor. These ranged from the snarky and mean to the more level headed and analytical:

Maureen Dowd
With a shrinking circle of trust inside the White House, Obama is having trouble establishing trust outside with once reliable factions: grass-roots Democrats and liberals in Congress. As Peter Baker wrote in The Times, the president is finding himself increasingly “frustrated” by the defiance of Democrats who are despairing of his passive, reactive leadership. 
Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana on the banking committee, told Jonathan Martin for Politico in February, after he scraped through to a second term, that the president was not engaged with the Hill, that he had not met with Obama at the White House since 2010, and that he was sorely missing aides like Rahm Emanuel, who tirelessly worked and stroked Democrats in Congress. Tester was one of three Democrats who spurned the president on his favorite to run the Federal Reserve, Larry Summers. The White House didn’t call Tester until Friday, when it was too late; Summers was allowed to twist in the wind, like Susan Rice before him. Top Democrats who used to consider Obama one cool cat now muse that he’s “one weird cat,” as one big shot put it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Won My Case At The YMCA!

There are some musicians such as Prince, Toby Keith, Madonna, Jimmy Page and several others who are quite knowledgeable about the business side of the music business. They make it a point never to make the same mistake twice. They often have complete control over when, where, how and by whom their music is used. If someone is using their music then they are going to be paid in full, right down to the penny, according to the law governing that use. Although such musicians are not uncommon today, I don't know that they're the majority. It's a rare person who is expert in tax, copyright and contract laws of multiple jurisdictions, can successfully run international multimillion dollar concert promotion companies, can handle all their own merchandising, advertising and publishing, understands accounting backwards and forwards, and finds the time to continue to be the one in a million amazing songwriter, bandleader, musician or performer who originally grabbed the adulation of millions. There have always been performers who were more concerned with "sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll" than with ensuring that their business was tight. When their manager or lawyer told them to sign something they signed it. When their record company got cute with royalties they didn't demand an outside audit. And when a radio DJ's name showed up on a song they alone wrote they shrugged and told themselves that was the cost of doing business.

Book Reviews-The Third Bullet, Warrior Queen

The Third Bullet
by Stephen Hunter
I like Hunter's writing style generally speaking though I'm not sure I'd agree with him politically on much. I'm impressed with how his hero gets older and more damaged throughout his books. Bob Lee Swagger sounds like a bada$$ name and indeed the former Marine sniper and Vietnam Vet is one tough SOB. This is the case even though he's old, retired, and dealing with worsening physical infirmities. In the first Bob Lee Swagger novel, Point of Impact, there is a point in time when one of the bad guys has been killed by Swagger's buddy and sometime sidekick, FBI agent Nick Memphis, himself an excellent shooter though not in Swagger's class. People are rummaging through the bad guy's effects and come across what is described as "a curious collection of fired 162 grain .264 caliber bullets from some bizarre project or other in the early sixties, found in his safe deposit box." Now reading that line and knowing the deadly skill of the bad guy who had just been put down it was pretty obvious what Hunter was teasing. IIRC he didn't come back to that line until now, when he's written what could be the last Bob Lee Swagger novel, roughly 15-20 years after the events in Point of Impact.

As is obvious from the title and the book cover this is Hunter's take on the JFK assassination. Trouble finds Swagger though he's happily married, retired and living semi-incognito. If you like black humor Hunter serves it up here. He writes himself into the novel as a balding, overweight, bearded, pompous, alcoholic, blowhard thriller author. The author is killed in a hit and run "accident" that is no accident. This man was a conspiracy buff. His widow tracks down Swagger to ask him to investigate her husband's death. Swagger is gentlemanly but stubborn. He's retired. Despite his previous experiences with various conspiracies, he's not interested. Lots of people die in hit and runs. When the woman describes the apparent professional nature of her husband's killing Swagger is intrigued. But when she makes an offhand comment about a prosaic item discovered in Dallas after fifty years Swagger is suddenly chilled to his bones and decides to investigate. Although this was something which linked back very obviously to Point of Impact, I didn't pick up on it until later. Maybe I'm just dumb but in my defense it was a very innocuous statement.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Daily Show: "It's the Income Inequality Stupid" (Video w/ Robert Reich)

A few years ago we did a post on income inequality that highlighted some of the then-recently publicized stats which showed just how far apart the "haves" are from the "have nots."  Recently, Jon Stewart explored this topic with guest Robert Reich on the Daily Show:

STEWART:  Anytime you talk about when income inequality gets like this or when we start to value investment so much more than labor -- which is what I think has happened over the last 30 or 40 years -- if you bring that up it is "class warfare."  To register a complaint against a system is "class warfare."  Yet to turn around and diminish people because they need food stamp assistance or because they might need other types of assistance that, in this country, have always allowed people struggling to get their footing and find a way out of that predicament, that is never considered, apparently, "class warfare."  That's just looking out for government expenditure.

REICH: Well there is an ideology that has come about in this country that is very very kind of mean spirited, but if you ask somebody who is conservative and saying "well you shouldn't be giving out food stamps" [and] you say "shouldn't it be a country in which everybody who is working full time -- if you're working hard and working full time -- shouldn't you be able to get out of poverty? Shouldn't you be able to raise your family out of poverty?"  And they say "well yeah yeah" and then I say "well if that's the case then shouldn't the minimum wage be raised to being a living wage?"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Too Big To Fail Giant JPMorgan Chase Admits to Breaking the Law...Sorta

You might recall last year when JPMorgan Chase caught everybody's attention after it reportedly lost $2 Billion dollars on a single trade (subsequent reports noted that the loss was actually $6.2 Billion).  This became known as the "London Whale" scandal named after Chase's London-based trader Bruno Iksil who made huge bets in the derivatives market on Chase's behalf.  I'll spare you the details, but long story short Chase's "London Whale" began placing risky bets on a massive scale that caught the attention of smart hedge fund managers like Boaz Weinstein who, in turn, began betting against JPMorgan Chase.  In the end, Weinstein won.  Chase lost.  Big time.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem. After all, Wall Street banks win and lose money all the time on massive levels.  But what made this story so significant is that this was the first time a loss on this scale had happened with the public's money after the great recession of 2008. And when I say the public's money, I literally mean the money that you and I deposit into our Chase bank accounts every 2 weeks.  Chase took that money, placed it on the roulette wheel, and lost it.  Hence, the significance of this loss was much bigger than the nearly $6 Billion dollars that JPMorgan Chase lost through its failed credit default swaps.  No.  This loss symbolized our worst fears: Wall Street's "Too Big To Fail" banks have not learned their lesson from the 2008 recession.  Which means that, at any moment, they could (and in all likelihood probably will) cause the U.S. economy to fall off the cliff again. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Worried about Obamacare? Fear Not

With implementation upon us and Republicans in the House of Representatives threatening to destroy the country and the entire global financial community, I thought it was a good time to reinforce the FACT that generally speaking, Obamacare is a GOOD thing.  At the very least, it is FAR from catastrophic and nowhere NEAR a reason for global collapse.

Aaron Carroll wrote a opinion piece for CNN that I felt re-explained Obamacare in plain language.  Now we can only hope that the message spreads.  Dr. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the director of its Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research.  He blogs about health policy at The Incidental Economist and tweets at @aaronecarroll.  (following him... and tell Pete Dominick you did).

Timeline: Government Shutdown....AGAIN

The threat of a government shutdown became a lot more real this week. The House Republican leadership was forced to delay a vote to fund federal agencies after fiscal 2013 ends on Sept. 30 because the party’s most conservative wing refused to support the temporary spending measure. Tea Party Republicans called a concurrent resolution defunding Obamacare and linked to the stopgap measure a gimmick because Senate Democrats could have easily defeated it and kept the government open by passing a clean continuing resolution.

GOP leaders hope to hold a vote on a stopgap spending measure next week, but a feasible plan hasn’t emerged yet. The House is scheduled for another recess the week of Sept. 23, which means lawmakers have five legislative days to pass something to keep the government open. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has said the leadership might cancel the recess if lawmakers fail to accomplish anything next week.

The anxiety -- and déjà vu -- over a possible government shutdown marks the first major fiscal deadline Congress and the Obama administration face during the next few months. Here’s a timeline of upcoming important dates to watch as the latest budget drama unfolds.

Movie Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler

I'm a sucker for historical drama: novel, documentary, made for TV movie, or a film that is preceded by Academy Award buzz. If the phrase "based on a true story" or some smattering of words similar accompanies the trailer description it is an almost absolute guarantee I'm going to see the film in theaters and at the very least pay a dollar at the RedBox when it finally gets there.

When I saw the trailer for Lee Daniels' The Butler many moons ago I knew upon first look I was going to see it as soon as it came out. Then I read The Washington Post write up of the man the film was loosely based on and I was sold before I'd even bought my ticket.

With all that pretext I'm sure you can already tell my expectations were high going into the film. But at the end of it all I felt like something was missing.

Blood Sacrifice to the God of War

The God of War and Guns (GWG) received his bi-monthly offering of blood and death earlier thisweek in the Nation’s capital city.  The 2nd%ers, the loyal servants of the GWG and blind followers of the Second Amendment, all rejoiced as the offering was accepted so that they may live and enjoy the use of their weapons undisturbed.

Every four years, the 2nd%ers pray to GWG that he brings them a messenger that promises to keep his word pure and free from regulation and dilution.  However, if that messenger doesn’t come, the flock rises up in mass raising their voices to the sky demanding, “We apologize for upsetting you.  Please, command us, what do you need?”  To which the GWG responds, “Blood and Sacrifice.” 

As it is commanded, it must occur.  In Washington D.C., thirteen died for you to have “your rights.”  Many will mourn, rightly so.  But not you.  You shouldn’t shed a tear!  You shouldn’t offer an apology.  You should stand resolved in your faith.  You understand that this death is mandatory for your cause.  It will occur.  It MUST occur.  Without it, the GWG will unleash his wrath …. and pass… some sort of … I don’t know… law. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

What does it mean to be an "American" again?

What is America?  Better question: What does it mean to be American?  I’ve asked before so perhaps it is a purely academic question like, “What is love” or, “What is the meaning of life?

Recently, with the increased vocalization of the Tea-Party and ultra-conservative movements, the question became a little more than academic.  Not only did it become the desired “goal” of the far right – not unlike a game of capture the flag attempting to seize “America” back from the evil clutches of Barack the Barracuda – but it is also at the heart of the immigration debate.  So yeah, we’ve written on this subject before; it isn’t a new issue. 

Floyd Mayweather and the State of Boxing Today

Boxing has always held a special place in American sports.  Aside from the occasional spat in Hockey, it's the one time where you actually get to see two grown men slugging it out like savage gladiators to determine who's the baddest man in the land.  When I was a kid, that designation when to Mike Tyson.  He was the face of boxing during the 80's and 90's until Evander Holyfield took over.  Growing up during the era of the Mike Tyson administration, you grew accustomed to a few things.  For example, when Tyson fought he fought to win.  And when I say win, I don't mean dance around for 12 rounds and win by decision after the clock runs out. No. I mean he intended to do harm upon the body of another man until said man ceased to be able to stand on his own two feet or remember what day of the week it was.  Sure, getting paid was a nice bonus and, to be sure, Tyson had his share of endorsements (Pepsi, Ninentdo's "Mike Tyson's Punch Out", etc.), but Tyson in his prime was concerned with one thing: being the champion of boxing. And for Mike, that meant destroying his competition so as to remove all doubt.  And he did just that.  Tyson would routinely knock out grown ass men in the first round of the fight with ease.  In 1988, he knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds.  91 seconds!  Think about that; in the amount of time it takes the average person to microwave their lunch, Mike Tyson managed to render a trained heavyweight fighter unconscious.

Even after Tyson's fall from grace, the spirit of boxing lived on in Sugar Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko.  Millions of viewers would tune in to watch these men who were all driven by the same fire that drove Tyson to be the champ.  Today's boxing has, however, taken a slightly different turn.

Attack Of The She-Creeper

"Marrrrrcus - I don't have any panties on."
-Eartha Kitt/Lady Eloise, "Boomerang"

2013 will go down as the Year of the Creeper, given all the attention the topic has received in so many venues online: Popehat, Dr. Nerdlove, John Scalzi, Hugo Schwyzer, and of course the familiar Internet Feminist outlets like Jezebel and Feministing and Feministe, etc, et al, have discussed this topic at marathon-length, with heaping helpings of even more discussion on topics such as Street Harassment and the like along the way, and all of it again, is rightly deserved.

Of course, your intrepid correspondent is always on the lookout for, as Steve Sailer likes to call it, the dog that doesn't bark - and in that case, that would be what I refer to, as the She-Creeper.

Oh yes, there IS such an animal, as the She-Creeper - and unlike the Yeti or Lochness Monster, we've all seen her in action, too. But just for kicks, let's go there - who, is the She-Creeper?

Does Your Parachute Work?

Things are finally looking up for me financially. Nevertheless I still operate on a thinner margin than I would like. It's taken hard work to get where I am and will take more hard work to get where I want to be. Bad decisions made years ago have ripples down through the decades. There's nothing I can do about that except live and learn. I was reminded of all this recently while I was stopped at two different expressway exit ramps, watching two different young men hold up signs asking for help. They avoided eye contact and I'm sorry to say so did everyone else. They had what appeared to be their worldly belongings in either a milk carton or a backpack. Of course you see people like this all of the time and unfortunately you get used to it. Some people make bad decisions in life. There's plenty of work if you aren't lazy. It's not my problem. There's a decent safety net. Maybe those people all have substance abuse problems. And so on. Those are the things we privately tell ourselves in order remain convinced that WE would never fall so low as to be begging on the street.

But recent unfortunate events in my personal circle of family/friends and the news that the income gap between the richest 1% and everyone else has grown to the widest ever and that even the top 10% are also taking more than half of total income, also a record, have made me wonder (and will hopefully make you wonder), does your parachute really work? How easy is it to find another job that pays the same or more as the one you currently have? How far are you really, from begging strangers for money? 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

No Radio Show Today

We're taking a brief hiatus this week and will see you next week.  Thanks.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Movie Reviews-The Iceman, Now You See Me

The Iceman
directed by Ariel Vroman
There are some actors who either through their looks or their skill at their chosen craft bring an unique intensity to all of their roles. Michael Shannon is such an actor. I first became aware of him as the self-loathing tightly wound Treasury Agent in Boardwalk Empire. His large almost Cookie Monsterish eyes allowed him to project a lot of emotions, mostly nervousness, hidden rage and desperation. He also had a funny turn reading the letter of an angry and EXTREMELY PROFANE sorority girl. So when I read that he was going to take the role of Richard Kuklinski, a serial killer who moonlighted as a mob hitman, or maybe he was a mob hitman who moonlighted as a serial killer, I thought that was a good role for him. Having watched The Iceman I can now say that not only was this a good role for him but was also was the role he was seemingly born to play. 

The film's makeup department did a great job at making Shannon look like Kuklinksi. Shannon is close to the same height as the gigantic Kuklinski was. The majority of the credit must go to Shannon himself, who via his body language, carefully swallowed vowels, ominous silences and sudden sarcastic asides, manages to become Kuklinski, or as he was known, The Iceman.

The Iceman, (his nickname referred to his cold blooded nature and his innovation of freezing the corpses of his victims to prevent coroners from determining time of death), was a murderer who worked for the East Coast Mafia as a contract killer from the 60's thru the 80's. He also killed people for his own reasons. Annoying him was dangerous. He occasionally killed someone just to see how a particular weapon or technique worked. He was both a serial killer and a profoundly professional and mercenary one.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Black Men Don’t Know How To Protect Black Women: An Open Letter To Lincoln Anthony Blades

"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research."
-Malcolm X

I was cruising the Black Interwebs last week when suddenly, I happened across the following piece by one Mr. Lincoln Blades, one of the newest class of Black Relationship Experts out there on the scene today. Now, to be fair and to fully disclose: me and Linc know each other, and to be honest, I like the guy. I wouldn't say we're best buds - we just know each other on Twitter - but we've chatted a bit back and forth, and we've retweeted each other a number of times. I'm all for another Brotha doing his thing, even when I find myself at odds with it; you see, it's my view that there are far too many Black Men out there who pander to what Black Women Want To Hear, and far too few Black Men who are willing to assist Black Men where it matters most. Linc knows this, just like all the other Black Relationship Experts do, but...well, you see, there's no money in assisting Black Men - and there's tons of money to be made in telling Black Women What They Want to Hear. There, I've said it - and if Linc values the late great Brother Minister Malcolm as much as he claimed in his article that he wrote for Uptown Magazine last week, about how Black Men Don't Know How to Protect Black Women, then he shouldn't have a mumbling word to say about the truth I just spoke above. 

So, it should then come as no surprise, that such an article would appear by him; indeed, it's all par for the course among the "Good Black Men(TM) crowd. As I've made clear previously, the Black community, such as it is (more on this in a moment), is no stranger to the Hugos of the world. You see, while there's no money to be made in actually helping and focusing on Black Men, there IS money to be made in "shaming" them, because, again, it serves the Black Relationship Expert agenda, of telling Black Women What They Want to Hear; upbraiding Black Men puts money into the coffers of these people (the majority of whom, as the popular website Single Black Male rightly identifies, are Black Men themselves).

Imagine, if you will, Mr. Blades writing this article: "Why SHOULD Black Men "Protect" Black Women?" - and then proceeded to layout the following facts:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Possible Presidential Pardon for Wife of Jesse Jackson, Jr.

As the head of the Executive Branch, it is within the President's constitutional powers to pardon or commute the sentences of people who were prosecuted by the federal prosecutors (the U.S. Attorneys' Office) of the Executive Branch.  It's not unusual for a President to give pardons to people who were convicted by the federal government.  Typically, Presidential pardons come at the end of a President's term in office.  At the end of his 2 terms, President George W. Bush pardoned 200 people.  Bill Clinton pardoned 459 people.  President H.W. Bush pardoned 77 people.  And Ronald Reagan pardoned 406.

So far, President Obama has only pardoned 39 people, making him the most non-pardoning (trademarking that word) President in modern history.  A rumor is currently spreading around the hill that Sandi Jackson, wife of former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., is looking to become number 40 on Obama's list.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

POTUS Speech on Syria

Speech Highlights:
1. President agrees that the United States is not the world police
2. President will not entertain putting troops on the ground in Syria
3. Russian President Putin has asked Syrian President Assad to give up chemical weapons
4. Syria has admitted that it has chemical weapons and has verbally agreed to give them up
5. Syria has verbally agreed to sign the Convention which prohibits chemical weapons
6. President has asked Congress to postpone its vote on military force while items #4 and #5 are negotiated

Full speech transcript after the jump:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

****UPDATE - Bill Thompson Concedes***Primary Day in New York City - Who Will Run the Big Apple for the Next Four Years?

Bill Thompson has conceded and dropped out of the primary race, making Bill deBlasio the Democtatic Nominee for Mayor of New York City. deBlasio and Lhota will face off on November 5th in the General Election.
Bill Thompson has conceded the Democratic primary and dropped out of the New York City Mayor's race.
"It would be a disservice to my supporters, a disservice to Democrats and, most of all, a disservice to the people of New York City who are desperate for a new direction," Thompson said in explaining why he was ending his campaign.
Even though he was dropping out of the race, Thompson called on the Board of Elections to count all the votes cast during the primary.
"If this were a general election with consequences about the fundamental direction of our city, you can bet I'd fight until the very last vote," he said, calling for reform to the election process.
He is also endorsed Bill de Blasio as the Democratic nominee at the event, which is believed to have been organized by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"The best way to return fairness and decency, justice and dignity, hope and equality to every neighborhood in New York is to return a progressive to City Hall," Thompson said.
The change of heart comes as Thompson's advisors saw some of the results of this weekend's recanvassing of voting machines.
Meanwhile, the counting of paper ballots almost a week after residents headed to the polls to vote in the primary has begun and will continue.
The Board of Elections spent the weekend double checking the counts on 5,059 voting machines. Now, they turn to 78,000 paper ballots, making up 11 percent of the vote.
Primary winner Bill de Blasio is currently slightly about the 40 percent mark that he needed to avoid a runoff with Thompson, who garnered 26 percent of the vote.

George Zimmerman: How Many Breaks Can You Get?

When I was a young kid I was constantly getting busted in elementary school.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a bad kid (at least not by today's standards).  In fact I was a nerd in school.  I studied hard, got good grades, always did my homework, etc.  But for some strange reason, whenever I made a joke in class or goofed off with the class clown(s), invariably my teachers would make it a point to hold me accountable while letting my peers go Scott free.  In fact, 9 times out of 10, whenever I would get reprimanded for doing something wrong it was because I was doing the exact same thing that the other kids were doing.  This, of course, led to many speeches from my folks as to whether or not I would jump off a bridge if all of my friends jumped off a bridge.  Bridge speeches notwithstanding, something still seemed odd to me, even then, about my detention record versus the detention records of my respective peers.  It was as if they could do no wrong, and I was the convenient scapegoat.  25 kids could have all laughed at the same classroom prank but my name was the only one that would end up being written on the board.  To this day, I honestly can't say why I was singled out more than my peers.  Perhaps it was because I was the new kid.  Maybe it was because all my teachers saw "so much potential" in me that they didn't see in my classmates.  Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I was the only black student in my entire class all throughout elementary school.

This last proposition that I've mentioned is an unpopular proposition but it is one that many black folks can relate to when circumstances arise that tend to only be explainable by our race.  We don't want to see the disparity in treatment, but sometimes it's there all the same whether we want to see it or not.  One of the most challenging aspects of being black in America is that it is quite often difficult for black people to tell if they're receiving a particular adverse treatment because they are black or because of some other race-neutral reason.  If I'm doing 100 mph in a 20 mph school zone and a cop pulls me over, obviously that's a case where anybody in my shoes would expect to get pulled over.  But, on the other hand, if I'm driving the speed limit and observing all applicable traffic laws and a cop pulls me over anyway, then those kind of circumstances beg the question of whether race played a roll. 

It was precisely this latter scenario that caused the George Zimmerman trial to make its way onto the national stage. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Playing The "Misogyny" Card

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
-Winston Churchill

When you've been hard at the blogging game as long as yours truly has - four years next month - it is to be expected that you're likely to ruffle a few feathers. Indeed, much of the conversation between myself and the powers-that-be here at The Urban Politico prior to beginning my tenure as a regular contributor, had to do with precisely this dynamic, one of irate commenters and the like who, because what you wrote has struck a raw nerve in them, are not able or willing to respond with reasoned debate, but rather with Id-rage fueled invective. One of the more recent ploys toward tarring and feathering one's interlocutors, while at the same attempting to shutdown any meaningful examination of the issues along Sexual Politics lines, is to label anyone who says anything you, as a (Black) Woman, doesn't like, as a...

wait for it...


Guest Post: This is about Worth Not Wages!

You may have noticed the recent agitation for a higher minimum wage. The real value of the minimum wage has eroded greatly over time. People opposed to raising the minimum wage point out that it's designed for entry level low skill workers. We thought who better to lead the discussion here than labor activist and frequent contributor Reece Chenault. He lets you know where he stands below. Please give your feedback in the comments. 
This is About Worth, Not Wages!
I know some people you may have seen on the news recently.  They were being arrested because workers in Walmart, McDonald’s and many other well-known but horrific workplaces have been struggling to organize for decades around the basic problem of being paid way too little.  In Prince George’s County, many of these folks in fact sat in jail until yesterday afternoon because of the “minimum wage.”
The data shows consistently that when you pay people less than what they need to thrive – meaning grow and contribute, not hanging on by your fingernails – they tend to suffer.  That suffering metastasizes, consuming not just those folks who are unfortunate enough to have landed themselves in a dead-end job at Wendy’s or Burger King, but the rest of us too.  We’re rapidly becoming an economy fueled by what Joe Clark/Morgan Freeman called a “permanent underclass.”  There are many who make the argument that this is what capitalist power produces as a necessity… and I agree with them (though in this case for different reasons, regardless of party... also, I still hate Rush Limbaugh, regardless of how accurate his description of the glee businesses displayed over the rise of low-wage labor is.)

Book of the Month - Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

Per NY Times:

“Mo’ Meta Blues” is the title of a new memoir from Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove, the thoughtful and charismatic drummer for the hip-hop/neo-soul band the Roots. He’s also the musical director of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and an irrepressible presence on Twitter, where he has more than 2.5 million followers.
If you’ve seen Mr. Thompson, you probably haven’t forgotten him. He describes himself in his memoir as “a peculiar-looking 6-foot-2 walking Afro,” which isn’t far-off. There’s something intense yet beatific about him. He’d probably groan at the comparison, but visually he’s hip-hop’s Jerry Garcia. He presides.
“Mo’ Meta Blues” — the title is a nod toward Spike Lee’s drama “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990), which starred Denzel Washington as a jazz trumpeter — is a busy thicket of musical geekery. It’s a proper memoir in the sense that it eventually gets his story told, all 42 years of it thus far.
But it’s more about the music that’s pricked up his ears, the stuff that’s made him the tastemaker that he is. The end pages on my copy are crammed with song titles; they resemble the back of a popular girl’s senior yearbook.
I suspect I’m going to be listening to more Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Prince, the Isley Brothers, Rufus, Public Enemy and D’Angelo than I have for a long time.
Mr. Thompson grew up in Philadelphia. His father was a pioneering doo-wop singer who later toured on the oldies circuit. His mother was a singer and dancer who ran a clothing store. The whole family sometimes went on tour, like a groovier version of the Partridge Family. From a young age, he sat behind the drums.
At home he was an indoor kid, obsessed with vinyl. Other kids played dress-up or house. “I played record store,” he says. He collected back issues of Rolling Stone and made wallpaper out of the Robert Risko drawings that accompanied the lead reviews.
To this day, when he is making a new Roots record, he admits, “I write the review I think the album will receive and lay out the page, just like it’s a Rolling Stone page from when I was 10 or 11.”
This is among the reasons Mr. Thompson and his book are so likable. He thinks and sounds the way you think you’d like to think and sound if you were a rock star: funny, self-deprecating, a bit awe-struck.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Movie Reviews-Pain & Gain, The Colony, Three Extremes

Pain & Gain
directed by Michael Bay
Back in the day there was a late night infomercial get rich quick scheme promulgated by Tom Vu. Like all good pimps salesmen Vu played on his audience's fears to convince them that they had what it took to make him money to make themselves rich. Vu stood apart because of his VERY strong Vietnamese accent and because he openly and unabashedly aimed at his apparently mostly male audience's base desires of women, cars and big houses. Especially women. In his commercials the diminutive Vu would be surrounded by numerous curvaceous women. To his audience this evidently proved his business model worked. Vu denigrated people who didn't believe in his process as "dummies" or "losahs". His thick accent and seeming earnest nature explained his appeal. It's probable that just as many people were laughing at him as with him but when your business model involves a "free" seminar followed by suckers buying your hugely overpriced semi-worthless materials, you only need to slaughter a few sheep to make big bucks. It's all about volume evidently. Vu is a high stakes poker player now.
Pain & Gain follows three bodybuilders who decide, after inspiration from the Vu stand-in, to grab the good life (women, cars and big houses) for themselves, legalities be dammed. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Word On Street Harassment - Actually, Quite A Few

No sooner than my newest/latest post hit the Internet on my personal blog The Obsidian Files, about the importance of the Brothas to put their cars in "park" and stretch their legs on walkabout, did one of my longtime readers, one Mr. Zaz Brown, alert me to the fact that the popular website, Single Black Male recently run an article entitled "Cat Calling Pick Up Lines: Is ‘Street Harassment’ Ever Acceptable?". This was important, Mr. Brown wrote to inform me via Facebook, in light of the increased attention the phenomenon known as "street harassment" has gotten in more recent times - and has been bundled into the laundry list of grievances on the part of the Sistahood in the wake of the #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen kerfuffle sparked by's Ms. Jamilah Lemieux. The resultant article which examines this issue, raises a number of key points that I should like to address. 

But before I do that, it is very important to understand, that in a very real sense, Single Black Male is the Black analogue to the Good Men Project - and is as often derisively spoken of in various corners of the Internet known to many as the Manosphere. The above article that forms the basis of my own here, lays out precisely why that is.

Just My 2 Cents on Syria

My colleague Shady Grady penned a post which details all of the many different factors at play in Syria and, trust me, there are a lot of different factors going on here.  Anybody who thinks this is an easy situation to deal with is not paying attention.  But rather than jump into the weeds on Syria's civil war, I just want to throw out my feelings on the entire situation as it relates to our involvement and the debate that's taking place in America right now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Health Benefits of Exercise

Have you been exercising as much as you should? There really is a use it or lose it calculus that applies to the human body, regardless of gender or age. It's unfortunate to look around as I often do in the great state of Michigan and see people that are not using what God or evolution gave them to the best of their ability. It's like seeing someone with a brand new car treat it like garbage. This is obviously particularly noticeable in the summertime. Clothing gets skimpier but fat rolls become more apparent.

It's easy unfortunately to get so caught up in other things and leave your body to the last. Of course there are a million and one reasons behind this. These reasons can be emotional, psychological, sexual, what have you. Not everyone is meant to be a certain size of course and no one should be shamed into thinking that they're automatically less than human because they are over a certain weight. That sort of thinking is short-sighted and ugly. That said I sometimes wonder if certain heavy people these days don't go too far in denying that they have a problem. Some even attempt to bully other people into saying that morbid obesity is somehow attractive. Morbid obesity isn't attractive. And it's associated with a higher risk for a number of dangerous conditions and diseases.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Detroit Woman Loses Temper Over Cell Phone

This is madness. No decent woman behaves this way in public!!

I had actually slowed down writing these sorts of posts because they're too obvious. However I am currently super busy with paid work. So this quick and short post was something I couldn't resist. I'm from Detroit. Most of Detroit's convenience stores aka "party stores", independent grocery stores, gas stations and phone reseller shops are owned and operated by citizens or immigrants of Middle Eastern descent who stereotypically, fairly or not, often have a reputation for treating their clientele with disinterest, avarice and contempt. The clientele is mostly African American and it, stereotypically, fairly or not, often has a reputation for disrespect for other people's property and flying off the handle at the slightest hint of unfairness. I've seen both groups do shady stuff. 

No one should shop where they're disrespected or cheated. I was taught that from day one. If I were in charge I would bring down the full force of criminal/civil law on people who think because they operate in Detroit they can sell postdated milk or overpriced used junk repackaged and branded as new. I would unleash city, county and state regulators on city businesses until there was no quantifiable difference in cleanliness and quality between city stores and suburban ones. But I would also remind people that if they don't like another group owning many businesses in what they consider "their" neighborhood, there's no law preventing them from getting off their rusty dusty and opening their own business. 

The African-American woman (I can't call her a lady) in the video was foul. Was the store clerk was cheating her? He may have been. Rules around refunds and returns are often quite flexible. Perhaps the shop owner or manager had noticed some irregularities with returns/refunds and insisted on a strict limited refund policy. Who knows?

Monday, September 2, 2013

African Americans Should Thank Betty Friedan As Well As Martin Luther King

Last week's observance - indeed, a celebration - of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was well deserved, as it chronicled the struggle of African Americans to gain their freedom and realize the American Dream. It was, and continues to be, a worthy and lofty effort. 

But what some may not be as aware of, was the fact that 1963 is important for another reason: It was the year Feminist Betty Friedan published her classic work "The Feminine Mystique" - a powerful treatise that greatly informed what has become known as the Second Wave of the Women's Movement in America and ushered in the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s - a grand time of openly challenging the prevailing sexual mores of American life, especially as they regard Women, and shortly thereafter, Gays and Lesbians. Fueled partly by the new technologies of The Pill and medically safe abortions, and made possible in large part by granting Women increased educational, career and economic opportunities, the Sexual Revolution deeply and profoundly changed the way we Americans did business, so to speak.