Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mr. President, What DO You Know?

Socrates once said, "True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing" or some variation.  If that's true, then Obama's knowledge transcends his own urban legend because apparently, he doesn't know a damn thing.

Look, I'm an Obama supporter.  I wouldn't go as far to say I'm an apologist, but I do think he's faced unprecedented levels of obstruction and disdain.  As such, I typically try to give more leeway than others. But damn Mr. President, you sure are making it hard for your supporters.  I mean there's "plausible deniablity" and then there's something similar to what Bill Cosby referred to as "brain damage."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Daily Show Jabs U.S. Foreign Policy From Drones to Spying on Our Allies

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movie Reviews-Sunlight Jr., The Conjuring, Pacific Rim

Sunlight Jr.
directed by Laurie Collyer
This movie is extremely well acted, written and directed. It's Oscar bait. It also takes a left turn (pun definitely intended) to put itself firmly on one side of a social question. This happens in the film's denouement. 
I was blindsided but some other people who saw the film thought that the twist was incredibly obvious and that I evidently simply hadn't been paying attention to earlier events. Either way afterwards I felt a little manipulated. 
But sometimes those are the feelings that a good writer/director brings forth right? YMMV on the ending. It made clear poverty's cost. It also might make you think just how far are you from a much reduced standard of living? This is a pretty bleak film that doesn't pull punches on what impoverishment does to people. There are choices that people make that are informed or rather deformed by lack of money. Anyway.
Melissa (Naomi Watts) is a convenience store clerk who lives in a motel with her boyfriend, former construction worker Richie (Matt Dillon- who seems somehow not to have aged at all over the past twenty years-good genes and clean living or deal with the Infernal Powers?). Richie is permanently crippled and lives off his small disability check. Richie's got a good heart. 
He is mechanically handy but also likes to drink. He hasn't fully accepted that he can't do the things for his girlfriend that he'd like to do, and no I'm not talking about sex as Richie and Melissa have a pretty active intimate life.
I'm talking about simple things like buying his girlfriend a working umbrella or leaving the motel. Richie doesn't like that Melissa is the breadwinner or that his car runs out of gas as he drives her to work. Richie never feels sorry for himself and refuses to let anyone else do so.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why Black People Generally Don't Vote Conservative

If you read what the blog members have written here, over time you will find a wide variance of opinions. Some people are strong feminists; others are skeptical of or hostile to feminism. Some are adamantly pro-life; others are just as profoundly pro-choice. Some are quite supportive of expansionary activist government; other people look askance at increased executive authority. Some are anti-war; others support increased drone strikes at America's enemies. Some people are gung ho about gay marriage while others think that linking gay issues to black issues is somewhat opportunistic and ahistorical. Some people's views evolve or change over time; others remain as rigid as Mount Everest. And so on. In short, just like every other black person in America, the black people on this blog have different views on different issues. And that's also reflected in and among the blog readership regardless of race or gender. That should not be a surprise to anyone.

Occasionally you will hear some conservatives (usually but not always white), express frustration and even outrage that in presidential elections, the black electorate usually supports the Democratic candidate. In fact since 1964 the Republican Presidential candidate has struggled to get more than 10% of the black vote and sometimes has gotten as little as 3-4%.

Such conservatives wonder then since black people also tend to show greater levels of religiosity and occasional adherence to "traditional values" why more black people don't vote for conservatives, especially social conservatives. There is a very easy answer to this which is embedded in the picture at the top of this post.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ObamaCare: Sebelius Says President Obama Was Blindsided

The federal government's website portal for PPACA (ObamaCare) has not worked very well. The federal government has not released information about how many people have been able to successfully sign up for health insurance via the federal exchange, only that millions of people have visited and that demand remains high. Well, yes I guess demand would be high once you pass a law stating that people must buy a product.

Although the rollout has so far not been very complimentary to the technical skill set or managerial know how of the people involved in overseeing the launch, I believe that over time, things will be fixed. I work in IT and have been a team lead, programmer, project manager and business analyst -- sometimes all in the same job. I've worked on projects that have proceeded quite smoothly from the first glimmer in some vice-president's mind to a low level underpaid coder (often me) migrating code to production. I've also worked on projects that were poorly designed, insufficiently tested, lacked buy-in from appropriate stakeholders, had unrealistic launch dates, lacked proper funding, had the wrong personnel, or attempted to solve problems that either didn't exist or could be fixed more cheaply and much more simply in other ways.

It's a RARE large project that meets all its target dates and deliverables and comes in on time, under budget and with no post-launch fixes. As project complexity, scope and size increase the chances of perfection or even anything close to perfection (eg. Six Sigma) decline dramatically.

Has Lhota Injected Race into this Campaign?

We are less than two weeks away from election day, where New Yorker's will head to the poll and elect the city's first new mayor in twelve years. The city is hungry for change and in desperate need of a new leader with ideas and a clear agenda, that will move the city forward and ensure to include everyone in that move. I must admit that my attention to this race has somewhat fallen to the wasteside. With the government shutdown and 16-day hollywood production we all just witnessed, once the government reopned I tuned out politics and decided to read a book and catch up on missed episodes of this seasons Top Chef. However, last night I decided to watch a little television and my mouth hit the floor when I saw this ad.....

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Exclusive: Kanye West's Interview Prior to Proposing to Kim

It's official Kimmy and Yeezus are headed down the aisle. In typical Kanye fashion he went big --renting out the AT&T Park Baseball Stadium in San Francisco, to lace Kimmy with a $2.5M 15-Carat Lorraine Schwartz diamond ring.

Well prior to the big ceremony on Monday evening Kanye sat down with 99.7 NOW in the Bay Area to profess his love for Kimmy, Baby North and dish about his Yeezus tour. Check out the video's...

I don't want kids. Am I selfish?

Am I selfish?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe I'm just being honest with myself.  Hell, maybe it's a little of both.  Bottomline: at this point in my life, I do not want children.  And, as it stands, I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Prior to moving to the East Coast, my job required me to talk to couples, former couples, widows/widowers, and newlyweds. etc.  The number of folks that I spoke with that loved their kids but would NEVER do go through the child rearing years again far outweighed the number of folks that wished they could do it all over again.   Now, I readily admit that this is nowhere near scientific and extremely anecdotal.  However, it was convincing enough to underscore my leanings against parenthood.

I've been told that I'd make a good father.  When I told my own father that I didn't want children, he actually paid me a great compliment.  He told me that me (and my two sisters... I guess...) where his greatest gifts and that I taught him things and how to be a better father.  If I can teach him how to be a better father then he KNOWS I would be a great father.  So much for those that can't, teach - am I right?  Seriously, that was probably one of the most meaningful conversations I've ever had with my father.  Yet I remain unconvinced.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Celebrity Steel Cage Match 2: Timbaland v. Monique Mosley

"Tell 'em we want prenup.  WE WANT PRENUP!!"
-- Kanye West, Gold Digger

Cue in Kanye West's Gold Digger for this one.  Apparently, multi- platinum producer Timbaland, who is worth about $80 million, and his soon to be ex-wife, Monique Mosley, are headed to divorce court.  And let me tell you, Ms. Mosley is going for the jugular, the femoral artery, and the achilles heel.

So here's some background:  Timbaland and Monique have been together about ten years but they have only been married for five. They have one daughter together and both have other children from previous relationships. The lovely pair married in Virginia about a year after their daughter, Reign, was born.

Here's what Monique is requesting:

For the minor child, Reign

  • life insurance, private school, vacations, summer camp, child support, other expenses
For herself
  • permanent alimony, lump sum  rehabilitative alimony, attorney's fees
For her other child not fathered by Timbaland
  • child support
That's right, she's asking for child support for a child not even fathered by Timbaland.  But before I get into my thoughts of how I think this case will turn out, here's what some of Urban Politico staff thought about this case.  Check it out after the jump.

Former Kansas Attorney General Disbarred for Political Prosecution of Planned Parenthood

Former Kansas AG appearing on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor in 2006

Although I've been a New Yorker for going on a decade now, I was born and raised in the heartland of good ole Kansas.  Yes, there are Black people in Kansas.  Having paid my dues as a resident there for so many years I believe that I've earned the right to offer a few observations about my home state.  Kansas has pockets of progressive thought scattered here or there around the universities and colleges, but other than that Kansas is one big tried and true "red state."  As a red state, it adheres to all of the traditional notions that are commonly prevalent amont red states, especially the issue of abortion.  You might recall back in 2009 when abortion clinic Dr. George Tiller was literally shot dead in Wichita, Kansas while he was attending Church with his family.  Shot dead. IN CHURCH!  Ironically, he was killed by a "Pro-Life" activist; an irony apparently lost on his killer.  

With that backdrop, it should come at no surprise that when the state's former Attorney General, Phill Kline, was recently disbarred for violating the attorney code of professional conduct, the issue the motivated him to violate the code was none other than abortion:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Music Reviews-The Como Mamas, United Soul (US), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The Como Mamas
Just as you might expect from the name, this trio of singers (Ester Mae Smith, Angela Taylor, Della Daniels) hails from Como, Mississippi. Two of them are sisters. The Como Mamas sing the kind of hardcore real gospel and spirituals that inspired and informed so much of African-American popular music. They generally do so a cappella. This isn't music that they went to school to learn how to sing. This is stuff they grew up with in their community. Smith is also a preacher while Taylor's and Daniels' grandfather Miles Pratcher was a professional musician (guitarist, fiddler) who played with many other bluesmen, including Mississippi Fred McDowell. So this music is something they've been with all of their lives. Della Daniels once had an invitation to record in Nashville as a young woman but her mother turned it down out of protectiveness. Smith is the primary "lead" singer. Obviously the three ladies were also inspired by such people as Dorothy Love Coates, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and of course Aretha Franklin. The women have been singing together since they were children.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Gephardt Rule: How the Republicans Broke the Debt Ceiling

Then overzealous Republicans went and broke it again

From The Atlantic:

The current debt ceiling fracas stems from one thing, and it's not spending. It's the pointless, silly, and potentially very costly, two-step process by which the United States, and no other country, goes about budgeting and spending money. First, Congress passes a budget resolution that determines how much will be spent. Then it raises the debt ceiling to accommodate that spending. The fight now is being driven by Republicans, and some Democrats, who don't want to do the second part, even though the spending decisions have already been made. I've likened the issue to having dinner in a restaurant and then haggling over the check. But given the tenor of our politics, a more apt analogy might be bulimia. First dinner, then...

Well, anyway. The obvious question is, why have two steps? Why not just agree that the debt ceiling will rise to accommodate what Congress agrees to spend? After all, decisions about spending should be hashed out in the budget. That's the point of having them. Breaking the process into two steps only creates the possibility of default, which would harm everyone. (Just ask Wall Street.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Republicans Finally Cave - Gov Reopens, Debt Ceiling is Raised & ObamaCare Remains Untouched

Per the NY Times:

Congressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their bitter budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law as the House and Senate approved last-minute legislation ending a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and extending federal borrowing power to avert a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions.
With the Treasury Department warning that it could run out of money to pay national obligations within a day, theSenate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, to approve a proposal hammered out by the chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders after the House on Tuesday was unable to move forward with any resolution. The House followed suit a few hours later, voting 285 to 144 to approve the Senate plan, which would fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7.
Mr. Obama signed the bill about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
Most House Republicans opposed the bill, but 87 voted to support it. The breakdown showed that Republican leaders were willing to violate their informal rule against advancing bills that do not have majority Republican support in order to end the shutdown. All 198 Democrats voting supported the measure.

QUESTION: So what was the point?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cory Booker is Headed to the United States Senate!

Cory Booker Wins NJ US Senate Special Election

From The Washington Post:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising national Democratic star, was elected to the U.S. Senate Wednesday and will become New Jersey's first ever African American senator.
Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota. With 58 percent of the vote counted, the Associated Press called the contest for Booker, who was carrying 56 percent of the vote.
When Booker is sworn in, the Democratic Caucus will once again hold a 55-45 advantage over the GOP Conference. Booker will fill the seat once held by Frank Lautenberg, a long-serving Democratic senator who died in June. Gov. Chris Christie appointed fellow Republican Jeff Chiesa to be Lautenberg's interim replacement.

"Democracy Has Been Suspended": House Republicans Literally Changed the Rules to Continue Government Shutdown

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland's 8th District) exposes the latest rule change by the House Republicans.
If you've ever served on any type of student leadership organization or a board of directors then chances are you have run across parliamentarian procedure (aka "Robert's Rules of Order").   The purpose of these rules is to allow the members of any organization to conduct business in an orderly fashion as opposed to getting sidetracked on tangents, gossip and other irrelevant nonsense.  However, in the United States Congress, it does not appear that all of the rules were designed for this purpose.  Indeed, the latest rule change adopted by the House Republicans on the eve of the government shutdown has a much more sinister motive.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The State of Young Black Women

As a 30-year old young black woman in pursuit of opening doors and shatering the proverbial glass ceiling, I'm scared for the young women of the generation behind me. I'm scared that those young women might be lost for decades to come. So lost that they will be unable to physically,mentally or spirtually find their way back. I fear that they will refuse to understand the beautiful souls that they are for their inner and outer beauty. If young women like myself extend our hands to show them and tell them just how special they are, will they take our hand and accept our words? 
I fear that the very young men whom we entrust as a community to protect and guide these young women of tomorrow, will fail them grossly, for they no longer view young women as mothers, sisters or a loved one -- merely objects. I'm terrified that today's widely accepted social norm of objectification, self hate and the over sexualized characterization of women, will become the standard and last forever. 

Forgotten are morals, self-respect, the etiquette of what it means to be a proper young woman. We are morally divided as a society. A large portion of us not only accept and defend young woman who break the codes of being a "decent and acceptable young woman," we reward it. The other half of us struggle to understand what in the world is going on with our girls. As my colleague FedUp pointed out in an offline discussion on Miley Cyrus and her recent antics, every generation has an artist of antics. From Josephine Baker's topless banana skirt routine classified as "artistic dance," to Madonna's numerous hyper sexualized performances, songs, and videos throughout the 80's and 90's; to Miley's disgustingness that she called a "performance," to Rihanna's slackness in her recent video for "Pour it Up," the classlessness continues, because we allow it. We make excuses for these people.

Once upon a time husbands and wives didn't even sleep in the same bed. In fact, it was Betty Ford then US First Lady who declared that not only would she sleep in the same bedroom as her husband in the White House, they would sleep in the same bed. Yes, that was unacceptable by social standards of the 1970's, but pales in comparison to what we are seeing today. 

Where are we today and where are we going tomorrow?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hypocrite? Ted Cruz, We Don't Believe You!

Sorry Sen. Cruz, it’s hard for me to believe you.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before:  It will increase the national debt.  Enrollment will be a train wreck.  It’s just too confusing.  Let’s just delay it.  The President did a poor job with messaging.  The government shouldn’t get between you and your healthcare providers.  
Or you may have heard something like this: 
“The denouncers said the new benefit was too expensive, too complicated, a boondoggle created by the [health care] industry, and yet another example of bad public policy run amok.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  I bet you’d attribute all these comments to Sen. Cruz, wouldn’t you?  If I was referring to “Obamacare,” you’d be correct.  But I’m not.  Nope, these comments were made some 10 years before “Obamacare.”  These are just a handful of the comments directed towards the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA)of 2003, better known as Medicare Part D.  And, as far as I can tell, Sen. Cruz, Rep. Bachmann, Gov. Palin, etc., said nothing.  They did nothing.  And we certainly didn’t see any anger or rage or disdain from anyone on the right demanding a shutdown or default.  No demands to recall congressional members.  No threats to impeach President Bush.  No filibusters.  No debt ceiling threats.  No offensive commercials.  No budget battles.  No crashing town hall meeting to shot down congressional members.  And, I certainly don’t recall ANYONE yelling “You Lie!” during President Bush’s State of the Union addresses.        

Obamacare Losers

First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan - you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."
President Barack Obama

President Obama's statement has been shown to be untrue. I don't ascribe ill intention to the President or PPACA supporters. PPACA may prove broadly beneficial. But those who lose their current coverage and receive no government subsidies will be worse off. The counter to the claim that they're worse off is that their new plans will have increased level of (mandatory) benefits which are better for them and society. 

I am unconvinced by this argument. It's exactly like saying that instead of driving your $12,000 compact car with minimal upgrades and a low chance of being undamaged in an accident, you MUST purchase a fully loaded $60,000 large sedan, SUV, or pickup truck with a better chance of surviving a serious collision. So the government forces auto companies to stop making the $12,000 compact that you prefer. Though you have little financial capacity and less desire to drive something large which also has voice activated commands or rear view cameras, the choice isn't yours anymore.
At least 146,000 Michiganders — and possibly thousands more — with health coverage purchased directly from insurers now are learning their polices will end Dec. 31 because they don’t meet the minimum requirements of the federal health care act. Under the law, each policy must cover essential benefits in 10 categories. Instead of beefing up these policies, insurers are opting to drop them, advising consumers to consider other policies that are now available either from the insurers directly or though the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the state exchange. The policies that are ending were often less expensive on the individual market because they provided limited benefits and were sold to healthier consumers.
And that was fine with consumers such as Josh Mulder. Mulder had landed a plan several years ago that cost his Wixom family of four just $291 a month. That policy will end Dec. 31, according to a letter from his insurer. The policy didn’t cover things such as maternity care or prescription drugs, but, Mulder said, his family is generally healthy and he was willing to take the risk.“I had a great rate,” he said. Rates that meet the required benefits under health reform average $762.06 a month on the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace for his family of four..

Sunday, October 13, 2013

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

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, October 13 at 5pm (ET).

Listen Live Online HERE 

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Reviews-Pym, The Beauty of Trees

by Mat Johnson
Just. Get. This. Book. Now. Seriously. Temporarily stop reading this review and carry yourself over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local library and arrange to have this book sent to you, downloaded to your reading device, or ready for you to pick up somewhere. This is the best book I've read so far this year. It's also FUNNIER than hell.

Although some of the humor in the book may be most deeply appreciated by those who are Edgar Allan Poe experts or academics (tenured or not) or scientists, or people suffering from unrequited love or those rare birds who are all of those things I truly believe that you will find this book hilarious no matter your race, ethnicity, work experience, age, gender, sexuality, blah, blah. It's freaking funny and that's it. It's UNIVERSALLY applicable to the human condition. I am very very very happy that I crossed this book off my "to read" list. I am definitely going to find more work by Mat Johnson to enjoy. I may start with his graphic novel Incognegro which I'm pretty sure I have laying around the home somewhere.  It was a gift from my brother who is a comic book fanatic. It's amazing that entire worlds lay at your fingertips. All you have to do is reach over and pick them up. Pym is so complex and so simple at the same time that after you finish you ask yourself why didn't I think of that?

This book is both parody and satire that touches on slavery, racism, American race relations, inter and intra-racial personal interactions, academia, art, and most especially Edgar Allan Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. It had been decades since I had read this work of Poe's. I remembered nothing about it. And according to both Mat Johnson and his in-universe stand-in I didn't miss much. Poe's work was a hastily written and poorly designed pulp novel about a mysterious journey to Antarctica, a racial mutiny, encounters with savages/pseudo-humans so black their teeth were black and a final meeting with a larger than life mysterious white figure. Having reread it after reading Pym, I can say that Poe's work was internally inconsistent and somewhat racist (though that was of the times). It did however inspire similar works by Jules Verne, H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness and most fortuitously Pym. So that's a good thing.

Much like Erasure, this book very much brings to mind such writers as Vonnegut, Heller and Twain. I've rarely read satire done so well and created from such seemingly disparate elements.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicago Woman Brutalized by Police

I've written before about how I'm somewhat distrustful of police officers in general and stories like this only add to that sense of unease. The problem I have with police is not so much that they like any other human being can lose their temper or their patience, have or show prejudice and bigotry, or resort to violence more quickly than is required. After all those are all human traits . It would be silly to single out police officers for those failings. No, as we've discussed before the problem with police, who are after all agents of the state, is that they often get away with these things and/or are rarely held accountable to the full extent of the law. After all prosecutors often work hand in hand with police departments. So of course many prosecutors aren't often necessarily looking to arrest, prosecute and convict police officers, no matter how far they get out of line. This is bad because by law, custom and the fact they tend to be both armed and larger than you, people generally give physical deference to the police. We allow them to lay hands on us, arrest us and take us into custody precisely because we accept the authority of the state. Well what if the state consistently starts to behave in such a manner that a reasonable man or (in this case) woman decides that authority is no longer valid?

A Chicago woman has sued the village of Skokie and one of its police officers, alleging she was seriously injured after being shoved headfirst into a jail cell bench after a drunken driving arrest last winter. Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, said in a federal lawsuit that the incident required facial reconstructive surgery and the insertion of a titanium plate to "replace the bones that had been shattered."
Part of the alleged incident was recorded on jail video cameras, which Feuerstein's attorney, Torreya Hamilton, released Wednesday."The video speaks for itself," Hamilton said. "She does nothing to justify what this male police officer does." In a written statement released today, Village Manager Albert Rigoni said the village has “deep concern for Ms. Cassandra Feuerstein’s injuries that occurred at the Skokie Police Station.” The statement said that an officer involved has been placed on station duty, with no contact with the public, while both the village and the state’s attorney investigate.
Feuerstein was arrested for drunken driving March 10, according to Hamilton and court documents. The video shows officers searching Feuerstein inside the jail cell, where she appears to be asked to remove her boots and bra before being removed from the cell for additional processing. An officer then takes Feuerstein by the arm and appears to push her back into the cell. Video shows Feuerstein falling forward and striking her head and face on a bench, before officers and paramedics tend to her as a pool of blood spreads on the floor.
According to Feuerstein’s lawyer, Torri Hamilton, seconds after her client asked to call her husband and children, the officer hurled the 110-pound woman back into the cell with such force that she fell and landed face first on a concrete bench.
Police brutality may be closer to home if you happen to be black but as more and more stories show, race won't protect you from running into a brutal cop who LIKES hurting people. As Angela Davis said, if they come for me in the morning they will come for you in the night. Such police are dangerous to all citizens they encounter, regardless of their race or gender. Watch the graphic video below the fold and let me know what you think. The officer involved has not been disciplined nor has he been criminally charged. Now if you got this angry at someone on your job and did what he did, what do you think would happen to you? I imagine immediate discharge followed by arrest would be most likely.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Detroit Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Sentenced to 28 Years

Back in March, former larger than life Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of multiple federal criminal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, bribery, and mail fraud. These all grew from him and his father demanding kickbacks from city contractors or other individuals seeking to do business with the city. Many of these kickbacks went to the mayor's good friend, construction mogul Bobby Ferguson, who was also found guilty of multiple charges. Basically if you wanted to play, you had to pay. Well today was sentencing. Mr. Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. As he is 43 years old, this is close to if not akin to a life sentence. By way of comparison other noted white collar criminals received both higher and lower sentences.
Bernie Madoff got 150 years in prison. Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio received six years in prison for insider trading, a sentence he believed was brought about from his refusal, absent a court order, to cooperate with the NSA surveillance programs. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich received a 14 year prison sentence for soliciting bribes for political appointments. People's sentences for various white collar corruptions range all over the place. It all depends on various factors, including your criminal history, how much you stole, whether or not you had the public trust and so on. Kilpatrick not only could have been a great mayor, he indeed had the energy and charisma to become a Michigan Senator or perhaps even Governor. 

On the oppression of male youth in Palestine and the US

Today's guest post comes to us from Temple University graduate, Michelle Zei. Michelle is a freelance journalist who recently visited the Aida Refugee Camp in Israel. Her experience gave her a unique perspective on the turmoil surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 

During the summer, most Americans probably took vague notice that peace negotiations resumed in the Middle East. “Peace in the Middle East”, a phrase often thrown around allusively with little context, and a general attitude of futility. ‘There will never be peace,’ most people might think, ‘Why even try?’

“There's war on the streets and the war in the Middle East.” Tupac said it in the 90’s and it rings true today.

But approaching any situation as an endless conflict has never helped in the past and to take it a step further seeing the ‘Israeli- Palestinian Conflict’ as continuously hopeless doesn’t garner interest from the American public. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Opting Out of ObamaCare's Medicaid Expansion: Protecting America's Freedom or Contempt for Obama?

Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka "ObamaCare").  However, in that same Supreme Court opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that the federal government could not force the states to opt in to ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid if they did not choose to be a part of it.  Medicaid is health insurance for certain groups of people (kids, pregnant women, the blind, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor) which is paid for by the States who are, in turn, reimbursed by the federal government.  ObamaCare expands Medicaid to include ALL adults under the age of 65 whose annual salaries fall below a certain level (133% of the federal proverty line)...that is if the State in which they reside agrees to opt in to ObamaCare's Medicaid coverage.  The Supreme Court having finally laid to rest the infamous "individual mandate" debate in favor of President Obama, opponents of ObamaCare were thrown a bone it seemed -- albeit a small one -- that allowed them to continue their anti-ObamaCare campaign.  Today, over a year after that decision was handed down, the country stands divided: 24 states have opted in to ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid while 26 states have opted out.  But which states have opted out and why?  A closer look at the political map may provide us with the answer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Politics of Natural Hair: The Storyteller's Hair Journey

Aevin Dugas boasts the world's biggest afro - measuring an incredible four-and-a-half foot around the middle

It seems to me that since Black people have been living in America, anything we do that seems out of the "norm" becomes a meme or zeitgeist that keeps tongues in Middle America, the Upper Eastside, and Hollywood wagging. Be it jazz, hip-hop, twerking, our use of Twitter, the way we praise the Lord, or the way we wear our hair if it's different than it's something to be discussed, analyzed, and researched instead of just being accepted as an everyday part of Black life. The latest Black American pet project that continues to make headlines is the way we wear our natural hair.

The New York Times recently discussed the apolitical afro; to me a non-story considering all the natural hair blogs who profit from telling men and women how to style their natural hair into shapes and forms that will keep the masses tame. Then there are the Black blogs who over the last five years have discussed the pros and cons of natural hair in the workplace and on self-esteem. A Google search of natural hair will bring you everything from news articles, to blogs, to videos, to advertisements for products that will turn your coils into kinks.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Republican "Negotiations": Pissing on Your Head and Calling it Rain

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t piss on my head (or leg) and tell me it’s raining.”  Generally Today, unfortunately, this is synonymous with politics.  But beyond that, it is the current Republican strategy to deflect blame for the government shutdown.  

In the past, whatever side employed this strategy, it was usually done with some degree of ... let's say... sophistication.  No more.  Today, the lie is so transparent and thinly veiled that I find myself, to some degree, in disbelief.  While I expect a degree of misdirection in politics, this tactic is borderline insulting.  

Has Ted Cruz Painted Himself Into a Corner?

During the 2012 election, while America re-elected Barack Obama into his second term, the great state of Texas elected a man to the United States Senate who, how shall we say, marches to the beat of his own drum.  A self-proclaimed Tea Party member, Senator Ted Cruz ran on a campaign of platitudes that mainly centered around opposing anything and everything that involved Barack Obama.  And so, based upon this promise to stop Obama, he was elected to the Senate.  In the 1 year that he's been Senator, he has done his best to stir up controversy at every possible turn.

From publicly deriding Senator Diane Feinstein's knowledge of the Constitution during a gun law reform meeting in the wake of the Connecticut School shooting to the recent Cruz-inspired shutdown of our federal government over ObamaCare in the House of Representatives, Cruz has strategically placed himself in the middle of every controversy in order to ensure that the Right's favorite talking points (not to mention his face) are front-and-center on the 6 o'clock news each night.  The general consensus on the Hill is that Cruz is using all of this attention to run for President in 2016 - a goal which, by the way, would be complicated by the fact that he was born in Canada.  Even setting that aside for the moment, Cruz may have a bigger obstacle to overcome between now and 2016: he may have painted himself into a corner by ostracizing everybody, including his own Republican Party:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Movie Reviews-Breaking Bad(Final Season), World War Z

Breaking Bad, Season Five (Part Two)
Created by Vince Gilligan
Although I do not list or discuss every spoiler that happened here, some are inevitable and may freely be discussed in comments if you wish. The show is over and that's that.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
"Time" -Pink Floyd

Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) greatest strengths (and weaknesses) are his intelligence and rationality. Some have used the show to criticize whiteness or masculinity. I think those critics miss the point. Walter White did not feel entitled because he was a white man. Walter was angry because through a mostly unexplained chain of events during or immediately after graduate school he either left or was pushed out of a company he co-founded which later became a billion dollar entity. He spent the next twenty years trying to forget about that. And what did he have to show for that time? He had a son that was more respectful of and responsive to his uncle than to Walter, a patronizing nosy sister-in-law, two low pay low status jobs, maxed out credit cards and a pushy, occasionally bossy wife. So when Walter received a terminal cancer diagnosis he had nothing to lose by breaking bad. Walter has accurately believed that he's always the smartest person in the room. He thought that he could successfully apply rationality and intelligence to the criminal world the same way that he's done in the chemistry lab. He was wrong.
Walter White's double life gave him everything he wanted. Walter won although he was estranged from his apprentice and partner Jesse (Aaron Paul). Despite a few minor hiccups, such as personally murdering a co-worker from pique, watching another child die, considering murdering another female co-worker on multiple occasions, and hiring neo-Nazis to murder redundant workers, Walter avoided the spotlight and prevented any family member besides his wife Skyler from discovering his actions. Walter had some close calls but via luck and inventiveness, stayed off the radar of his outwardly jovial DEA ASAC brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). 

With the assistance of canny and paranoid corporate executive Lydia Rodarte-Qualye (Laura Fraser) Walter expanded his meth empire overseas. Walter earned so much money that Skyler could neither launder nor hide it. Once Walt realized he was worth over $80 million, finally even his greed and pride were satiated. He retired and turned over his supply chain to a local business partner. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lauryn Hill Released From Prison, Drops New Single

Lauryn Hill was released from prison early Friday morning after serving a 90-day long sentence for tax evasion, and to celebrate the Grammy Award winning artist dropped a new single entitled, Consumerism.

In the song, Hill rhymes frantically through a laundry list of social problems or "isms," over a rough, disoriented beat, a long stretch away from her 'Killing Me Softly' days. She takes aim at terrorism, sexism, and hedonism just to name a few.

One thing that a prison term will do for anyone is give them time to think, read and write. For someone as creative and talented as Lauryn Hill, I wouldn't be surprised to here more new music coming down the pipeline soon and hopefully a new album dropping. Although we miss the old Lauryn, we are anxiously anticipating what life and experience has done for her music.

Listen to the new track below.

What do you think of the new track?

Woman Shot to Death by US Capitol Police After 12-Block Chase in DC

By now you're probably heard about this incident that took place yesterday in D.C.  If not, please see the news sources below.  The woman, Miriam Cary, 34 of Stamford, Connecticut was unarmed and had her 18 month-old daughter in the car at the time. Although it's unclear whether she was shot while she was in her car -- news reports confirm that she was shot after she exited her car.  So I have only one question:

Should the Capitol police have shot this woman to death?

Hollaback!'s Final Solution: An Open Letter To Ms. Debjani Roy

"When it comes to combating street harassment, increasing criminalization is not the answer."
-Debjani Roy, "Hollaback!: Finding Effective Solutions to Street Harassment", The Huffington Post, Apr 26, 2013

There have been those who have questioned me as to why I have chosen to focus on the matter of street harassment, and I have answered a number of those questions in previous writings on the topic here and other venues where my writings have appeared regularly; but perhaps a key, and major, reason, is, to use a metaphor, bring balance to the Force. In other words, I do what I do, and write what I write, because I see a massive imbalance and distortion with the way so many issues - in this case, and especially, those along Sexual Politics lines - are presented. I want to foster and open up a real discussion, conversation and debate about these issues, coming from a Black, male and blue-collar/working class perspective - one that is for all intents and purposes, virtually extinct from the extant "public square" that is the Internet and attendant venues.

It is with the above thoughts in mind, that I now turn my attentions to an article recently appearing on the Huffington Post website dated Apr 26, 2013 entitled, "Hollaback!: Finding Effective Solutions to Street Harassment", by one Ms. Debjani Roy, who is the deputy director of the Hollaback! organization. I got wind of her piece by way of one of her colleagues who I'm in contact with via Twitter, and who directed me to Ms. Roy's essay in response to my recent article "Move Over Stop And Frisk - Here Comes The Street-Harassment App!" - the argument, so says my Hollaback! Twitter friend, is that Hollaback! in general, and Ms. Roy in particular, doesn't support the criminalization of what they consider to be street harassment.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scandal Season 3 Premiere TONIGHT!

While we collectively hold our breathes and pray that the Republican Party releases us from captivity, lets pause to clear our minds and partake in some easy entertainment.

Gladiators GET READY!

Tonight our minds will quiet and our questions will be answered. If you are a true Scandal fan like myself, you probably screamed out expletives at the conclusion of last seasons final episode. You were shocked, called a friend, maybe even fell to the floor. Just so happens, I did all of the above.

See Sneak Peaks of Season 3 (Spoiler Alert)

Revenge Porn Outlawed

Let's say that you're happily married or otherwise paired up. Or let's say that you're not but all the same you've found someone with whom you like to pretend you're married on a regular basis. Well over time and this time can be a relatively short period for some people you will probably relax around this person. That is, after all, the very definition of intimacy. This man or woman will know things about you that no one else does. Pillow talk can be quite revealing. During this relationship you and this person might even exchange notes, pictures, letters and e-mails that are really for your eyes only sort of stuff. Some people share more than others but if you're human and have been in a relationship no matter how brief or fleeting, your partner has some information about you which is not available to the general public. Few people stay together forever. Ideally if a break up occurs it's a mutually agreed upon thing where two people decide that they can't or shouldn't live or sleep together any more and respectfully and calmly part ways. Right. Unfortunately many breakups aren't mutual. And they certainly aren't respectful or calm. Insults may be hurled, tears may be shed, threats may be uttered and decades long feuds may develop over who paid for (and thus owns) mutually enjoyed items. 

Something else that may occur during or after a breakup is that one or both parties to the breakup may decide to share with the world (or at least their former lover's/spouse's circle of friends) the kind of information I detailed above. This is most definitely NOT a morally good thing to do but the urge to hurt someone the way that you think they hurt you, ESPECIALLY if you were the dumpee and not the dumper, could be overwhelming. I think this is wrong but emotions can overwhelm morality when it comes to affairs of the heart. If a man suddenly gets a text message from his wife that she's dumping him, doesn't ever want to talk to or see him again and oh by the way she's been playing house with her co-worker for the past two years, you might understand why this fellow might start venting some negative emotions about said woman. Of course this is not gender specific. Each gender is equally capable of being emotionally swept away by tidal wave feelings of hostility and revenge that could arise from imagined or real mistreatment. 

Bohemian Gravity

I understand very little about physics and even less about string theory. But I think I understand a tiny bit more after watching this video. This was created by Canadian Tim Blais, a musically talented McGill University physics Masters candidate. As it turns out Queen guitarist Brian May, besides having co-written the song (Bohemian Rhapsody) that inspired this cover, also happens to be a professor of astrophysics. He linked to this song on his website and called it astonishingly good. So if you want to get a quick explanation of what string theory is or just like hearing another version of Bohemian Rhapsody, check this out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bikers Attack Family in New York City

ObamaCare vs. The Affordable Care Act

ObamaCare or The Affordable Care Act ?

I couldn't resist :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Obamacare Site Experiencing Technical Difficulties On Launch Day

The much anticipated launch of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare has finally arrived, and with it a shiny new website, The site launched this morning at midnight, yet it is already experiencing technical difficulties preventing users from applying for health coverage.

The site makes you choose which state you are currently living in before you can apply, and depending on where you choose you could remain on the government site or be redirected to a third party site, specific to your state. We chose the state of Maryland first and were redirected to the Maryland Health Connection website, ( where we were told the site was experiencing connectivity issues and to return back to the page at noon today.

Next we tried the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as our state of residence and we remained on the the healthcare site, only to be told again that the system is down and that it was being worked on. We were told to try again later.

Lastly we tried applying in the great state of New York but were greeted with the following message:

SRVE0232E: Internal Server Error.
Exception Message: [null]

If you are one of the millions of Americans currently living without health insurance you have likely been anxiously anticipating this day since President Obama announced the measure back in 2009. Unfortunately whether due to a massive flow of traffic to the site or to some other technical glitch you may have to wait a little longer before you can apply for the benefit. But hey, we've been waiting 4 years, what's a few more hours? With what regular Americans stand to gain from this historic piece of legislation we are willing to give the site's developers a pass on such an epic launch day fail.

The controversy surrounding Obamacare reached new heights today as the bitterness between President Obama, Democrats and the GOP led to the first government shutdown in 17 years. Hopefully at some point today users can at least take advantage of the measure that has caused so much animosity within our leadership

Have you been able to apply for Obamacare today?

Which states have allowed you to apply in your experiences so far?

U.S. Government Shuts Down For the First Time in 17 Years Due to Fight Over ObamaCare

How was your night last night?  While you were (hopefully) sleeping, you may not have noticed that two historic events took place at the stroke of midnight last night:

1. The United States, for the first time ever, joined other industrialized nations in providing its people with access to health care exchanges through ObamaCare; and
2. The House Republicans, unhappy with historic event number 1 above, created their own historic event by shutting down the United States government for the first time since '96.

How did this happen, you ask?  Every so often the federal government has to adopt a budget called a "continuing resolution."  This is normally a routine measure that passes without any hoopla or fanfare. But not this time.  After losing the argument about ObamaCare's constitutionality in the Supreme Court and after unsuccessfully voting to repeal ObamaCare over 40 times in the House of Representatives, House Republicans saw an opportunity to defund ObamaCare in last night's continuing resolution.  Even though the members of Congress continue to collect a paycheck after the government shut down, the Republican Party is now coming to terms with the political fallout of being the party that is clearly responsible for shutting down the entire U.S. government on GP. And do you know what the worst part about this government shut down is?  It still didn't defund ObamaCare!  That's right.  You heard that correctly; House Republicans specifically shut down the government to defund ObamaCare, and still failed to defund ObamaCare.

And this is just the appetizer folks.  Just wait until we have the fight over the debt ceiling on October 17th.

But for now, our government is officially shut down.  So what does this mean for you?