About Me

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New York City, New York, United States
41 year old African-American Male. I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades and a master of none...I rely on reasoned common sense, rationality and what my gut tells me is right/wrong (combined with the well reasoned opinions of others!). I don't consider myself an expert on anything in particular, but I have lots of opinions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OWS

I haven't figured out why I am so slow at times...Today was the first day that I decided to see if there is an actual web-site for Occupy Wall Street---there is and here it is...http://occupywallst.org/

I decided to look for it after my partner and I decided that we would contribute financially to the protesters...I still don't know why I didn't take a moment to search for it sooner...

Cain is a Fraud

Herman Cain is a fraud, but I didn't need this article to tell (detailing his extensive ties to the ultra wealthy Koch brothers, who have an extensive history of funding radical and extremist right wing causes) to tell me that...In fairness, I guess he is no different than most politicans, who are pretty much bought and sold by special interests.  Nonetheless, it does add even more color to the origins of his "ideas" (and I use that term loosely).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wall Street Views OWS with Disdain

According to this story in the New York Times, most bankers privately view the OWS crowd with disdain...That's not really surprising considering that a prime (although not the sole) target of the protesters appear to be excessive corporate greed (as I understand the OWS movement).  There is no place that I can think of where corporate greed is more pervasive than on Wall Street.  I mean, honestly...one banker quoted in the article stated that financial services is one area left in this country where "we" (meaning, presumably, Americans) perform well.  Really?  The economic downturn of the last several years was caused by whom?  The sole proprietor of the bodega around the corner from my house?  Or, maybe it was my local dry cleaner? Perhaps it was the sales clerk who helped me at a local department store this afternoon...

I don't personally know any of the organizers or the protesters (so, I can't profess to speak for them), but I certainly understand their pain and fristration...The rate of income inequality in this country is a sad state of affairs (and, contrary to the popular narrative, is not a correlative to effort and/or competence---either for those on the top or the bottom of the inequality pyramid).  I was a proponent of the TARP program because I was under the belief that it was necessary to stave off wide spread economic disaster....But, I wasn't a fan of providing bailouts to the largest financial institutions without conditions (which is exactly what the politicians did).  To express their grattitude for saving their behinds, what did the bankers do?  Instead of using the money to ease the credit crunch (which presumably was  factor in causing the downturn to reverberate throughout the economy), they instead awarded themselves out sized bonuses that in no way were tide to performance (or, they wouldn't have needed the bailouts in the first place!).  I still have a hard time understanding how/why AIG was allowed conscious to pay their counter parties 100% on the dollar for claims (what ever happened to negotiating!) or how AIG was able in good conscious to award retention bonuses to their employees (again, whatever happened to negotiation?!  As a condition of receiving federal bailout fund, AIG should have been required to go back to all necessary parties and re-negotiate those agreements!!!!!!)...I also don't understand how a hudgefund manager is able to pay a federal tax rate of 15% on his/her income (which is often many multiples of millions of dollars) under the auspices that the income is a "return on investment" or the equivalent of a dividend.  The reality is that most hedge fund managers are not really earning a return on their own actual investment (of either their sweat or financial equity).  The money used to make their risky investments is often borrowed.  Contrast that 15% tax rate with the rate federal tax rate of 25% - 35% for folks earning a standard salary (and who lack the funds to lobby politicans for favorable tax treatment).

Here is but another example of questionable business practices by one of the country's "esteemed bankers"....Goldman Sachs makes a foray into the shady area of for-profit educational institutions...The institution at issue experiences phenomenal growth (and, therefore, an substantial increase in federally guaranteed student aid)...Except that the enrolled students have questionable credentials, are often manipulated and/or coerced into enrolling and when they default on their government back loans, the average American (that's you and I) are left holding the bag while Godman makes out like a bandit (literally).

So, when a banker says that s/he doesn't understand why Americans are so upset about the current economic climate or that they don't "get" the ire of the OWS crowd, I respond that s/he (the banker) just doesn't get it....and, I suggest a look period of introspection...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Made in America...As Easy is ABC...

This little series being run on ABC News (actually, I think that the official title is World News with Diane Sawyer) is interesting...The reporter(s) attempt to showcase all us what we can do to help the American economy by purchasing American made products (a laudable goal).  Given that the ABC is part of the huge Walt Disney conglomerate, I am curious as to what their own purchasing department (not just ABC, but the entire Disney organization) is doing?  Just me being cynical I guess...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Link to a post from the New Deal 2.0 on why the Wall Street protestors should not be ignored...I have noticed the mocking tone taken by some in the MSM media (to the extent I can stomach any of the MSM)...I have been a little confused about the point of the protest (and may be that's just it...they are protesting many different things...frankly, there is plenty to be upset about).  The corrupt and intertwined financial poker game that is been played on the majority of people who don't constitute the "1%" should cause outrage.  I just don't have an answer on what can/should be done...

Kanye's Designs

Kanye's first showing of his women's wear designs appears to have been a bust...All I saw were the pics that accompany the linked article...Not sure if any of that stuff is...worth calling "designs".  Maybe he will try again.

Fred Shuttlesworth

I have to admit that I knew nothing of Fred Shuttlesworth, who died on Wednesday.  I just read this op-ed piece on the New York Times today on the contributions of Mr. Shuttlesworth.  (Of course), I am not foolish enough to believe that King was a lone soldier in the Civil Rights Movement and I know that there are more unsung folks who have not (and likely will not) receive their dure praise...He is but one of that bunch.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Surcharge? What is a Surcharge?????

Will this "millionaire surcharge" replace the tax code loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay the same tax rate on income equivalent to the rate for long term capital gains (15%)?  If so, I am already against it.  I thought that these folks were going to get serious about rectifying the inequities of our the tax code?  Moreover, the whole idea of a "surcharge" just sounds punitive...and, stupid!  I am no fan of Mitch McConnell, but I somewhat wish Reid would have lost his leadership position in 2010...At least with McConnell, I expect nothing...Damn, I wish Pelosi were still in a leadership position (in the House)!

An Angry Black Man Emerges....

This is why I am not voting for Herman Cain- he's a moron...It has nothing to do with me being "brainwahsed".

Scholar and advocate Derrick Bell Passes

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Info on Wealth/Income Inequality

More info of wealth/income inequality...I'm not exactly in the Peace Corps nor am I in the nonprofit sector...I also am not in the Top 1% of wealthy Americans (which is cool)...I recognize that I earn a higher income than the average American (and less than some other Americans)...I have been fortunate...I am willing to pay more in taxes if that means someone less fortunate will have access to certain services they might not otherwise be able to afford (like food, shelter, some time of health care...you know, the basics...).  As I have gone on ad nausem-extensive income inequality is and has been a problem in this country for some time.  Real wages for the middles have been stagnant for decades...This is enormous implications for the country's continued economic growth.

What's It All About?

I watch a lot of political television and read even more about politics. I often wonder if all the pundits do is point to what the opposing side is saying and talk about how crazy it sounds?  I just am not finding much interesting or new...no proposals, no new solutions...just the same b.s., which would be find if the country were not headed in a downward spiral...Maybe I should just stop worrying about it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Take By the Dream update...

I have to say that I am disappointed, but not surprised by the scant media coverage given to the "Take Back the Dream" conference being held right now in DC...But, that's ok...Although I am not there in person, I am present in spirit (along with a recent monetary contribution toward the group's efforts).  Keep up the good fight my friends!

Below...some words from Van Jones (that I lifted from the "Take Back the Dream" blog as written by Bill Scher)...


We Don't Need  A Messiah.We Have A Movement.
Van Jones put to rest the notion of a divided Left, as he kicked off the Take Back the American Dream conference today.
Noting the wide-ranging feelings about President Barack Obama among the thousands attending the conference, Jones said: "Some people love the president. Some don't. But the point is, what are we going to do?"
To solve the jobs crisis, to rebuild our infrastructure, to restore tax fairness, to renew a vibrant middle class, we don't need to agree about Barack Obama. Because, as Van Jones said, the slogan of 2008 wasn't, "Yes HE Can." It was "Yes WE Can."
Jones counseled the crowd not to wait for a "messiah" or a "Superman," because the American Dream movement is "your movement."
And lest anyone had forgotten what the movement had already accomplished, despite the blows we had already suffered, Jones offered a recent history lesson.
The movement rallied millions to stop President George Bush from invading Iraq. He ignored us. "We could have quit then, but we didn't," reminded Jones.
Even after progressives fell short in ousting Bush in 2004, and Karl Rove pledged to establish a "permanent Republican majority," folks did not quit. And just years later, Rove's dream was shattered by the lost of the Congress.
"You get knocked down, but you get back up," said Jones.
Today, we are getting back up. Jones reported that American Dream rallies outnumbered Tea Party rallies 10 to 1 in August. And now, proudly said Jones, "The White House is talking different because we are walking different."
Jones gently chided those who have feel disaffected and disengaged, saying, "Call your grandmother. Get some perspective." Our predecessors fought for economic fairness during the Great Depression. Our predecessors fought for civil rights in the face of fire hoses. There is no reason think we cannot stand together today, and take back the American Dream for all Americans.
Judging from the crowd, by the time Van Jones was done, any demoralizing disappointment that came into the room had vanished, replaced by a renewed hunger to show what we can do. By ourselves. Working together

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yet Another Reason to STOP Watching Network News Broadcasts

A week or so ago, the network news shows (I happened to catch the story on ABC's evening news tabloid show w/ Diane Sawyer, a broadcast and anchor that I loathe, but my partner feels some connection to ABC, so that's the compromise that I make for the sake of our relationship)...The crack reporters at ABC were all over the "story" about $16 muffins bought by the DOJ for conferences.  The outage! The horror!  Except, well, the story isn't quite accurate (surprise!  a network news program, especially one on ABC news, got something wrong!).  Here's another take....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the Need for Increased taxes on the Wealthy...

My explanations and justifications for raising taxes (as a percentage) on the wealthy would probably go much deeper than this, but I think that this statement from Professor Elizabeth Warren is a pretty good starting point and one that "should" be accessible to most people with average intelligence...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I have been "gone" for a while, just processing a bunch of the craziness happening all around (in addition to just doing my regular "J-O-B").  Here's is something interesting on the alleged "Solyndra scandal" that's making the rounds not just on Fox News, but in supposed more respectful news outlets that are not doing sufficient homework...But, what's new?

I am also curious as to why I haven't heard more about the "Take Back the American Dream" conference that's happening next week in DC (more information here).  I guess I shouldn't be surprised or disappointed...Afterall, this conference and gathering doesn't have the same level of loudmouthblowhards as a Rush or Glenn Beck, so it does not quite provide the level of sensationalism from a news perspective...As I have mentioned before, I wish the organizors the best...I can't personally attend, but I will be following up on the event.

Finally, I came across this article from Melissa Harris Perry over at The Nation...It echoes a lot of the sentiments that I have been trying to articulate (very often, I guess I am not quite as eloquent in writing as others, but such is life).  I rember when former President Clinton signed DADT into law, I was livid!  I was living in DC at the time and attending law school....I remember calling the White House switchboard (from a payphone, lol) to express my outrage...I also wrote a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post (that was never published).  I thought that DADT was a HUGE blow to the gay community and I didn't expect that anything good would come from it.  Similarly, I was equally outraged when former President Clinton passed "welfare reform" into law...Although, I didn't call the White House this time (or, write the paper), I was equally upset because I knew that the poor and working class would basically get shafted with these changes in the country's social saftey net.  The point is that in neither instance did former President Clinton suffer the same level of criticism from the "left" (although there was some criticism) as President Obama onhis failure to immmediately fight for a repeal of DADT (despite the fact that the economy was headed into a free for all downward spiral)or that he appears to have compromised with the GOP on a number of issues (as someone who negotiates for a living, I can tell personally state that just saying "no" all of the time never accomplishing anything)...so, Professor Harris Perry highlights out some interesting points of analysis...







Thursday, September 15, 2011

You Can't Squeeze 4 Decades Into 2 Years, No Matter How Hard You Try!

There has been a lot of talk this week as a result of published reports that more Americans are living in poverty than since "forever"!, or, since these type of statistics began being compiled...What's missing from this story is any type of real analysis---the fact that more Americans are impoverished is not a shock considering that we are currently experiencing the "worst financial crisis in a generation", but what's even more telling (to me at least) is that this process has been in the works for some time now....At least for the last 4 decades according to this article from The New Yorker.  I have actually been saying this for a awhile---real wages have been stagnant for some time (the situation is even worse for African-Americans, although I don't have the figures handy).  For a number of reasons, including access to easy credit and faulty memories, many people seem to believe that this all started in January 20, 2009...I am not trying to give President Obama a pass---I think that the stimulus bill from 2009 should have been more aggressive, but, I have this nagging tendency to focus on facts...that tells the real story.  And, honestly, given the performance of the Republicans over the last 2 years, I don't expect the situation to improve any time soon.  As they have shown repeatedly throughout this calamity, "politics before country" will be their guiding principle.  I hope that people take the President's call seriously and bombard their "representatives" to pass [the President's] jobs bill...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Playing Politics With the Rights of the Citizenry

reminder that serious issues remain with respect to ensuring that all duly qualified citizens who have the right to vote are able to exercise that right...I wish and hope that people in the affected states are not asleep and allowing these undue restrictions to happen without a fight!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If You Are Interested in Recapturing a Long Forgotten Time...

I should be offended by this story, but I am not...It's just so damn stupid...It shows the sheer cluelessness of some in the  fashion industry (I don't want to denigrate an entire industry of people).  Truly, a "what were they thinking?" moment.  Additionally, I hate the use of the term "ethnic" when describing jewelry, clothing, etc.  What in the hell does that mean?  For me, the implicit statement is that there is some objective standard (read: white/European) and any deviation from that standard is "ethnic", when really, everything probably has some ethnic orign (ie., related to some ethnic or culture group). 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

video
I am late to the game on this...Jon Stewart's take on the blowhards at Fox News who have lambasted Warren Buffet's op-ed piece...Honestly, there is not much more that I can say, the clips speak for themselves...

Part II

video

In fairness, I have to link back to this article from The Atlantic I discovered the clips (I am in the bad when Stewart comes on).

Snooze Alert

Far be it for me to judge how anyone uses his/her time, but I think that there are most likely better uses of social media than this---a flash mob at a suburban shopping mall (unfortunately, I have been to Strongsville, OH...maybe there isn't much else to do).  I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this cheap publicity stunt considering that this guy is affiliated with Bad Boy Records (do they even exist?).  Sigh and yawn at the same time...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thank Goodness Someone Else Wants to Take Back America!

Looks like Van Jones has been keeping busy...His group is planning a big march on Washington.  I am glad to see folks on the left/Progessives doing something (better late than never) to combat the misinformation and out right lies being perpetrated by corporate media/MSM and the far right.  I really wish that I could go, but timing is off (maybe I am not sacrificing enough?????  That's an internal debate that I will have to resolve).  I wish them the best and I will be following.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Philly Mayor Michael McNutt thinks that the so-called "flash mobs" of primarily young blacks (and especially men) are doing a disservice to "their race" (Actually, I am really paraphrasing...He said that the dress and demeanor of some young black male youths is doing a disservice to "race", but the article that I linked to referenced the flash mobs...I think that they are related).  I have to disagree.  I think that the lack of self respect that these folks manifest (whether they are in flash mobs or are just generally unproductive) is a disservice to THEMSELVES [even if I am empathetic to some of the root causes behind this dysfunction]...Call me crazy, but I am just not going to accept everything that some black person does (whether it is good or bad) as an indictment or reflection on the entire race.  That makes absolutely no sense [to me, at least].  Its not an a matter of being black unidentified (or naive), its just a reflection of my thought process.

I wish I could explain how I feel, but this strain of monolithic black essentialism is incredibly troubling to me (and, its not something that's new).  I think that is part of the tendency to see a black person who has "achieved" some level of success in American society and want to translate that "success" out to the larger black community irrespective of whether the community actually benefits (which, generally speaking, they do not).  I understand the importance of symbolism (which is a separate but related issue).  I felt it the night that President Obama was elected.  At the same time, I have had a realistic perspective on what he could actually achieve (and, I recognized that he was not quite as progressive as I would have liked).  Similarly, I have just taken the position that I am not going to extrapolate the behaviors of individuals across the black community as a whole...This may not make much sense and it may appear to be two disparate strains of thought...But, in my warped mind, they are one in the same.

Random Thoughts to Close Out the Evening...

I am watching "The Last Word" (Melissa Harris-Perry is substituting for Lawrence O'Donnell) where they featured some interesting clips on Rick Perry...I am not surprised by any of the fact, but I hope that people who don't know take some time to read up on this guy...Its almost like GW II (maybe its just the Texas accent)...


Additionally, I downloaded to my Kindle Professor Randall Kennedy's latest tome, The Persistence of the Color Line (one review here)...so far, so good...Surprisingly, this is the first book by Professor Kennedy that I have read (but, it won't be the last), which surprises me since I tend to gravitate toward books by law professors that analyze and critique social issues...I can't explain why I have been sleeping on this guy!

A&F is TRIPPIN'?

A&F is going to pay someone NOT to wear its clothes?  I don't watch "Jersey Shore" nor do I wear A&F (although I find it hilarious that the company refers to itself as an "aspirational" brand...really? for whom, 10 year olds?  But, I digress...).  Given A&F's marketing campaigns over the years, this seems a little silly...I don't know ANYONE (maybe I need to widen my circle) who would get distressed b/c the clothing from a mass market retail brand where they happen to shop is also worn by a... (I'm thinking of a delicate way to put this...) "colorful" reality show television personality...I think someone is taking themselves too seriously and its not the guy from the television show...

Two Guys Board a Bus...

I have to say, I was cracking up when I read this---Steve Harvey clowns Tavis and Dr. Cornell...As I have said repeatedly, I don't have problems with folks who want to criticize the President (and in deed, there is plenty to be critical of him about), but there should be some logical or rationality behind it...I liked Harvey's pointing out that poverty existed before the President's inauguration (this is the same argument I have used against the Tea Party---where were they when President Bush & Congress were spending like drunken sailors at a strip club?).  I just seems to be that some of the criticism is personal and the professed "issues" are subterfuge...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Country Doesn't Matter

Fiction Can Be Better Than Facts

Some interesting points on Texas Governor Rick Perry from those who have ran against him.  The media seems really into his entry into the GOP nominating contest, if for no other reason than the rest of the field is a total mess.  I lived in TX for 3-4 years and honestly don't remember anything about Perry.  Over the last few years, he has made some memorable comments---TX should secede from the Union (imagine if President Obama had said something similar...Of course, Obama is President and not a governor, but I found this comment interesting considering that Obama's patriotism has been relentlessly challenged), and then there is today's comment that printing more money would amount to "treason" (of course, there is no explanation...which is typical of this field...make ridiculous and inflammatory statements without backing them up).  Based upon my time in Texas, I don't know if the state's mindset will translate nationally (admittedly, it worked once, but boy did that cost us!!).  I guess only time will tell.  Personally, I see Rick Perry as the male version of Sarah Palin---a governor (or, former governor) who has managed to lead a wild-card state and benefit from intrinsic aspects of that state, which in turn, hasn't required much from of them in terms of putting forth novel ideas.  More often than not, they [Perry/Palin] says boneheaded things, which captivates the MSM, but at the end of the day, there is not much there in terms of substance (Palin's ridiculousness is well documented.  Perry's ridiculousness is starting to come to light...Like his claim to have balanced the state's budge...He fails to mentioned that it was done with the dreaded STIMULUS money, but why let a minor detail stand in the way of a great story?!). 

YAWN

This story is a snoozer on so many levels...I certainly hope that Jay and K didn't pay $370k for this car (most likely, it was furnished for the publicity) and who wld pay any kind of money for an automobile that is effectively, a piece of junk?  ( Sure, some people might call it "art", but I call it junk).  In these times of economic uncertainy, is it wise to engage in this kind of frivolity (I don't have have an opinion on this particular issue---I think that whole thing is kind of stupid, my that's my opinion).  Oh well, I guess you can't please everyone.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I don't want to accuse anyone of doing anything improper, but this should raise plenty of eyebrows---perhaps even more than Vice President Joe Biden charging the Secret Service rent or Congresswoman Michele Bachman's own blatant hypocrisy on government spending...Maybe I am just naive, but I tend to think that when you take an oath to serve the public interest (an oath that I have not taken), I think that you should do just that...Apparently, others disagree...

A Reminder

Ok...I am child-less (and intend to remain that way), but I have a 13 year old nephew and 9 month old niece, in addition, I have an 11 year old God-daughter and a partner who has young nephews...my point is that I am definitely into rearing (or ASSISTING) in raising well-mannered, introspective young people...I came across this article in Parents.Com and quite frankly, I know plenty of adults who should keep these ideas in mind---saying "please", "thank you" and/or "excuse me" is always welcomed!

Why We Need to Increase Government Revenue

Attached is an op-ed piece that appears in the New York Times and is written by none other than Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the WORLD, on the problem with the "no revenue increases" mantra that is being touted by a certain vocal segment in Congress.  In very plain language, Mr. Buffett outlines the absurdity of this position in a time of alleged "shared sacrifice".  I have yet to understand how this crazed minority (if you believe public opinion polls) has been able to convince the America public that raising taxes on the "super rich" will be bad for the economy.  WE ALL benefit for services provided by the government, from defense of the country to maintaining the safety of air travel (when its not being held hostage to political wrangling) to research conducted by various federal agencies.  Yet, WE ALL don't pay for these benefits equally.  Personally, I don't have an income or investment portfolio that comes close to approximating that of Mr. Buffett and his super rich friends (and, in fact, he pays more in taxes that I can probably expect to earn over the course of my life). Yet, I earn considerably more than the average American.  I would have no problem paying more in taxes if it means that those less fortunate are able to retain more of their income---those  the people most likely to spend and quite frankly, they are the ones most in need.  And, its the right thing to do.

There is this narrative that prevails in this country about hard work and self reliance.  Quite frankly, its a lie.  In fact most of those who are "self made" are anything but, whether its through connections, education or through  the maintenance of a system that tolerates such gross inequalities in wealth distribution, no one has ever really made it 100% on his/her own.  But, people believe in that tired story because it makes them feel good.  I wish that the President would just be frank and honest about why tax increases are both important and necessary.  Its not about patriotism (another lie in itself) or notions of altruism.  Its the price we pay to live in this society and each of us to should be forced to pay according to our resources (this is a bit simplistic, but I think that the point still applies).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=1

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is Really Crazy

I have been too tired and too frustrated to write anything lately, but I will say this---the government is a mess...These crazy ass Republicans who have no basic idea of economics are quite simply, ridiculous...From the defunding of the FAA to the b.s. over the debt ceiling and the federal budget...But, its their constituents who are really to blame...For what ever reason, the American public decided to vote in these morons and this is what we have...People who lack a very basic understanding of economics and even worse, people who have no common sense to boot!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Stop the Crazy

Michele Bachman and her gay-looking husband are homophobes.  So what?  (I am a card carrying gay, so I feel that I have authorization to call him that...).  This isn't news---anyone with half a brain knows that she is nothing more than a religious zealot who is full of contradictions and short on actual ideas.  As much as her team tries to distinguish her from Sarah Palin, they are in fact cut from the same cloth...I would much rather hear some investigative and in-depth reporting on how the GOP is holding the economy hostage with their refusal to negotiate in good faith on raising the debt ceiling.  Or, perhaps, instead of the reporting on the knee jerk reactions to the jury verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, we could talk about how as a society we actually profess to care about children, but we have structures and systems that in reality manifest anything but concern for children that may be in danger.  So, to the MSM---stop with the reports on Mrs. and Mrs. Bachman---they are meaningless.  The Bachman Presidential Campaign is purely a vanity project and those two nimrods have taken advantage of the "big" government that they profess to loathe---from the farm subsidies to the Medicare reimbursement to Michele's former work as an IRS Attorney... Let's talk seriously about real issues they have real meaning in the lives of everyday people.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Two Stories that made me Smile

Two stories that put a smile on my face....

First, a high school basketball standout donates his winnings to fellow competitors because he didn't need them!  This was an inspiring story and is a reminder to all of us about the importance of looking out for our fellow man/woman (Wall Street---are you paying attention???????).  I think this player's actions are even more laudatory (at least from my perspective) considering that he is part of a sub-culture (sports) that generally places a huge emphasis on material acquisition over all else...

Second, 2 recent gay appointments at West Point (that bastion of....whatever you want to call it) and at The College of William & Mary...I feel like these appointments further illustrate that we all have contributions to make in this society.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let the Truth Rule

Finally, someone is calling out the GOP for their ahistorical positions on deficits, balanced budgets, government spending and abuses of federal power.  For some reason, the MSM has had a complete failure of memory and as the writer of this article states, have forgotten that 2001 - 2008 ever happened!  Its as if the GOP and the Democrats are coming from the same position, which they are not.  Fortunately, I gave up looking to the MSM media for substantive coverage of basically anything a long time ago---if its not a salacious tabloid trial, some trival issue related to some bland and mildly talented media personality or the propogation of extremist views by some right wing opportunistic zealot, the MSM basically doesn't appear interested.

If not just that George W. Bush was a horrible President (he was), but he (along with the Republican controlled Congress) presided over unbridled government spending (just not on anything that actually benefited the country), irresponsible tax cuts for those least in need of them and the unchecked expansion of governmental power into the personal lives of American citizens (under the auspices of "national security").  However, the MSM hides behind the fiction of objectivity and continues to refuse to do its job (similar to the lead up to the Iraq War, where the MSM yielded to populist rage and pretended that rational minds did not know that the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was flimsy).  Again, I am glad that I know better.  And, quite frankly, irrespective of the facts, some folks will believe what that want...Facts be damned!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DSK is a D@ck

More on DSK's accusser...And, again...I repeat what I have already said...if the Psoecutors (and I use that term loosely in this context) believe that fa orcible sexual encounter occurred, all of the other information/allegations are irrelevant to me.  DSK pretty much appears to be a sexual predator, but I guess that his power and financial resources are more credible and more important than his guilt.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Who Is Entitled To Their Body?

This is somewhat interesting, albeit on the salacious side regarding the credibility of the chamber maid who accused Dominque Strauss Kahn of rape.  I don't know if I believe one things has to do with the other---actually, I do know what I think...it does.  True, involvement in one aspect of possible shady dealings does raise questions about character, but I don't that its a irrefutable presumption that someone is a bad person.  Similarly, just because DSK is a well-heeled international financier does not mean that he didn't rape the victim.  It would be interesting to see what some leading feminist scholars and women's rights activist have to say about this---I see it as another way that the "system" is complicit in its brutalization and victimization of "certain" women, which is rooted in class, ethnic and racial ideologies and biases.  From what I recall about the evidence, its clear that a sexual encounter between the two parties occurred and its looks like it was forcible...So, is the prosecution saying that because the woman might have a shady past, she is not entitled to protection from a sexual predator?  In a society that pretty much monetizes everything under the sun, is she entitled to compensation from having sex forced on her (one of the allegations against the woman is that she had a jailhouse conversation with a "friend" about ways to secure compensation from the incident with DSK...the conversation was recorded).  I guess its not justice, but "just us" in securing protection of the laws.


Update:

Link to an article by Patricia Williams on DSK...Professor Williams is much more objective on this subject than I even pretended to be...She gave me some things to think about in my own analysis...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I will take tea if "Morning Joe" is all that's available!

Nice take from Salon.Com on Mark Halperin referring to the President as a "dick".  I have never been a huge fan of "Morning Joe" and I am glad to see that I am not the only...

An Honest Assessment of Our Founding

I found that I rather enjoyed this little piece on the Founding Fathers...Much, if not all of it, I already knew (yes, I am a smarty pants),but it was nice to see someone one giving the truth the power instead of all of this nonsense that so often poses as fact (the "Founding Fathers" worked tirelessly to end slavery?  Yeah, right Michele Bachman...what planet do you live on!?!?!?)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

LinkedIn Is Not Going To Save The Economy

LinkedIn a $10 billion company?  Really?  This is the kind of shenanigans that should piss investors off...Unless they [LinkedIn] have another method for making money up its sleeve, I don't know where the $10 billion will come from (note:  last yr, they made $243 million...that's a long way from $10 billion!).  Oh yeah, most of the analysts what the most upbeat predictions were also lead underwriters on the recent IPO...I'm sure that's a mere coincidence...*


*Note:  I have no financial interest in LinkedIn Corporation whatsoever nor am I involved in the financial industry.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What's B Been Up To?

Here is a review of B's latest album.  I agree with the reviewer that the first single is a dud.  I have generally had mixed feeling about her---although I don't necessarily consider much of her material memorable or substantive (although she seems to think that it is), I have some of it on my Ipod.  I also think that she could be a little more subtle in the use of her sexuality..."Shaking her Couche for Jesus" is how I refer to her schtick.  Maybe the review is right...Maybe the new disk will showcase a broader range of influence (note to B:  the influences that she mentions---DeBarge, Lionel Ritchie, Teena Marie are from the 80s, not the 90s).  We will shall see...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Leave 'em the F$ck Alone!

This is an interesting note about an Indian tribe outside of Brazil that has had no contact with the "outside" world.  Let's hope that things remain this way...The article cites a few other instances of "uncontacted" tribes who died of disease and otherwise had their subsistence disrupted once the outside world infringed on their existence.  This really irritates the hell out of me, especially the story about the Zo'e tribe where several members perished after contact with missionaries in 1987...What is it that the missionaries what?  These people have made a conscious decision to maintain a certain lifestyle and that choice should be respected.

I Do...Believe that NY's Political Leaders Made the Right Choice

It is now legal for gay couples to wed in NY! 5-10 years ago, I honestly never thought that the topic of gay marriage is something that would that would even by a reality, let alone something that would come to fruition.  I applaud Govenor Cuomo's leadership on this issue and I give credit to NY's leadership for moving forward.  The right of a couple to wed---whether they are same sex or heterosexual is a decision that the respective couple, not the state should determine.  Well done.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Need for Immigration Reform

After several days of delay, I was finally able to read the piece in the Times by Jose Antonio Vargas- it was pretty moving and pretty scary...I applaud his courgage for deciding to tell his story...

Update 6/25/11
Here is another take on the Vargas situation...Jack Shafer (the Slate writer) and I had a very cogenial back and forth email exchange on the topic...I disagree with his analysis and conclusion, but respect his opinion on the matter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Something Does Seem Quite Right on The Supreme Court...

Is Clarence Thomas for sale?  I guess you can decide for yourself...since I have always thought of him as a "sell out", I wouldn't be surprised if his vote were for sale to the likes of the American Enterprise Institute!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two Pols Walk Into A Bar...

Contrasting the real with the imaginary...Ellison is right...not only are we as a country deficient in the obvious (jobs), there is a serious problem with infrastructure (I am thinking of infrastructure in the physical sense)...I thought that some of this was going to be addressed with the Stimulus Plan that was enacted '09...But, that doesn't appear to be the case...No one ever thinks about these things---bridges, tunnels, high speed rail/improved rail line, etc. until there is an catastrophic accident...And, more importantly, no one wants to pay for these things (if one is to believe all of the talk about government spending and the deficit)...The President (and the formerly Democratically controlled Congress) lost the opportunity to do something about this...You can certainly bet the that a Republican Congress is not going to do anything that might provide the President with a competitive advantage going into the '12 race...irrespective of the possible benefits to the country as a whole---And, I certainly doubt that the President will take any substantial risk anyway...So, we are still at square 1...Hopefully, "we" the people will take some action to get our "elected" officials to actually represent public sentiment (as difficult as that it to ascertain).

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

Some people may consider Matt Taibbi a "muckraker" which has negative connotations to me, I am a fan (what some may perceive as biasis, I consider passion, in his writings)...This is a link to a follow-up article on the fleecing of Jefferson County Alabama by Wall Street (there is also a link to the original article, which I read last year).  I think that generally, when folks talk about the current economic crisis, they reference primarily the housing market, but the problem is (and remains) much bigger than housing...Financial institutions worked their snake-salesman oil pitch (I hope I got the reference right!) on all segments of the market---from the derivatives that were sold to P&G in the mid-to-late 90s to the exotic funding mechanisms sold to public governments, no one was safe!  These guys and gals have been insulated from  more scrutiny because of the wide ranging belief that they are so much smarter than everyone else...I contend that they are quite simply much less ethical than everyone else...I would like to think that the era of them (the bankers) being considered "untouchable" is over, but its not.  It will manifest itself in another incarnation as politicians continue to follow the money trail and sacrifice the collective good for the benefits of political cash, connections and even future "symbolic" employment (i.e., see Judd Gregg, Harold Ford and others) where they trade their the political ties for large paychecks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Y Are You The Only Ones Who Can Drive?

Let's go women in Saudi Arabia! Drive on!!!!!!  I support religious freedom, but not to the extent that it infringes upon the rights of other individuals...I also have a problem with women being forced to wear the burka, but that's a separate (but, related) issue...One could argue that some women do it as a choice, which raises the question as to how free they are to choose...I could be thinking in an ethnocentric manner, but I see all of this as examples of the subjugation (and objectification) of women...Where they are deprived of individual agency and seen as delicate creatures in need of protecting (instead of being thought of as being able to protect themselves).  This is very reminiscent of Victorian American thinking (not that we have totally eliminated this mindset...)

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Athlete Sticks Foot in Mouth (and Makes Up Facts) in Opposition to Gay Marriage

Morons like this guy should probably learn that their personal opinions are just that...their opinions...Gay marriage is a slide toward anarchy????  Really?  Nevermind growing income inequality, lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to affordable housing and persistent and systemic education inequality...When we people understand that irrespective that marriage is truly an arrangement sanctioned  by the "state" (I don't care what your religious beliefs are).  Homosexual relationships have existed throughout history (I will admit that I am not as up to speed on the history as I would like...but, I have never professed to be a historian nor a sociologist).  I really attribute a large portion of the vehement reaction to gay marriage to ignorance...plan and simple.  Ignorance and fear of the "unfamiliar", not unlike the opposition to interracial marriage, which was the case only a few decades ago.  Also, who decided to label this guy Tyree a "hero"?

I am trying not to react to every bonehead comment (I wouldn't have time to do anything else if I did) on issues that are dear to me, but sometimes...its hard (its like my refusal to indulge in the foolishness of the "field" of Republican contenders, both real and imagined).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who is Worst---the Creator or the "Actors"?

Yes, this video is ridiculous..., but I also have a question to the "rappers" and the woman who portrayed the stripper---"did it not occur to you that what you were being asked to do was problematic?"  At some point, "we"---African-Americans, woman, gays, whatever, have to take responsiblity for our actions...I refuse to allow some ignorant political video offend who I am as a person...I clearly understand the "people" who think that its ok to put out this type of garbage. 

Book On the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

I picked up this book "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded" which is edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence...Its a collection of essays on what has been called the "non-profit industrial complex".  I have only been reading the past few days, but its interesting, especially for me as I seriously contemplate a move to the non-profit sector...The various contributors (some who contradict one another, as they should) offer insights into the ways in which the non-profit sector (as a result of various reasons) regenerate the many of the social ills it claims to work toward erradicting.  I don't take this a a justification not to engage.  To the contrary.  It simply means (to me) that a different paradigm is necessary.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who Is Surprised?

The host of a Fox Business News show apologize for language "interpreted" as racist?!?!?!? This sh#t is blatantly racist, no interpretation necessary, but should anyone be surprised?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron

Musician, activist, writer and all around renaisannce man Gil Scott-Heron past away at age 62.  I just added a track from "I'm New Here" ("New York is killing Me") to my playlist for our bar-b-que tomorrow in celebration of Heron's life and recongition of his contribution to music and social thought.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Turning Around Economic Dispairity

Interesting article  from The Times about how the most "selective" colleges remain bastions of economic segregation (my words) as well as a profile of efforts of Amherst to change the current dynamic.  I have always thought (and may have even discussed) the amount of wasted human capital in our country's urban and rural ghettos that's not being adequately addressed or remedied by our public policy thinkers and political leaders.  To the contrary, there has been a growing income and wealth disparity over the last few decades that continues to increase and shows not intent in subsiding unless drastic steps are taken to ameliorate the problem.  Moreover, there is significant social costs of not addressing this problem---there is obviously the lost productivity, but there is also an increased need for social services that in some respects are directly attributable to the income/wealth gap---the need for housing, medical services, basic sustenance needs (food, clothing) as well as the need for increased police (not to imply that only the poor commit crimes...we all know about the allegations against Bernie Madoff and Dominique Strauss Kahn). 

Koch Industries

A few weeks ago, I tried to compile a list of products produced by Koch Industries, but I didn't get very far...well, the folks at The Nation must have been reading my mind b/c they have put together this list, which is very helpful...

In case you don't know about the Koch Brothers, the link to the article provides a good starting point. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gov Arnold isn't too Sane!

Former Gov Arnold has admitted to fathered a love child with a former household employee...Ok, I can somewhat see why people might be interested (although, honestly, I am not).  What I find problematic is that the press has identified the woman involved!   What I also find hilarious is that the press (notably, GMA) blurred the child's face---after announcing the name of his mother and his age to the world (or, its viewing audience at least!!!!).  What bs....If the point is to protect the child's identity, that's blown!  Moreover, the woman involved is not a public figure and given that she is a former household employee---no one knows the dynamics involved (i.e. the employee-employer relationship is inherently suspect in terms of there being an imbalance of power).  Isn't there something important to discuss...like the reported increase in terror threats since the killing of Osama?

Harry Belafonte

Over the last fews months, I have become more learned about the work and contributions of Harry Belafonte and I have been more and more impressed...Considering the self-motivated focus of many folks in "entertainment" today, he is certainly the last of a dying (if not entirely gone) breed.  There is a new documentary on his life that airs on HBO this fall that I am looking forward to watching.  Attached is a link to an interview with him on Democracy Now!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Black Leadership Class

Wow, someone eloquently calls out members of the hypocritical self-appointed black leadership class!  Bravo Professor Harris-Perry...I have grown tired of Professor West's empty diatribes for some years now...As I have said repeatedly, I have no problems with substantive criticisms of President Obama (I have my own), but some of this crap from the left and the right is downright ridiculous...And in general, the members of the black elite who basically look out for their own self interest under the guise of the "betterment of the race" make my stomach turn...They are nothing more than pimps!  I could go through a list of them (or, at least the ones that I consider contemptable), but its not worth the effort.  My bottomline is simply this---ask yourself whether what you are doing benefits solely yourself or the (black) community as a whole?  There is nothing necessarily wrong with looking out for self, but, be clear about your motives and don't act under the cloak of "blackness"...That's all I am saying...Also, another point to keep in mind...The race as a while doesn't benefit simply because one of its members happens to live well...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Public Education in this Country is Crazy!

Schmes like this are but one reason public school education in this country is a travesty..The State of Texas is investing $25 million in a questionable sporting event that may/may not bring the promised dividends while simultaneously cutting its education budget (including laying off teachers).  While NYC isn't planning to do the exact same thing, significant cuts (and, a corresponding lay off of teachers) are on the table if they haven't already been finalized.  This just under cuts fundamental notions of fairness and equity (not too mentioned ensuring equal opportunity), but from a purely self interest perspective, this country continues to undercut its own human capital development, and as a result, the ability of the United States to compete internationally (hence, our continued decline in international education matrices).

I think this video says it all...

Student Demands More Demanding Curriculum

NBA Executive and CNN anchor Come Out as Gay

An NBA executive comes out as gay.  This article is interesting on many levels.  As a gay professional man, I can relate to Rick Welts' experiences.  Until the last few years, I led a fairly compartmentalized life, which is not healthy and felt inauthentic (funny, that Welts used similar words to describe his own experience).  As recently as Friday, I had an interview with a company (where I was already on the fence about whether I was interested in the position).  The interviewer (another attorney) asked me whether I was married (from what I understand, this is not a legal question).  I don't know if this person suspected me of being gay nor do I really care...The old me would have responded with an answer that concealed my sexuality.  Instead, I responded that I wasn't married, but that I am attached (although I don't think this guy is too bright, I assumed that he could figure that out what this meant).  The first thing Saturday morning, I emailed the recruiter to tell him that I didn't think that there is a good fit.  Like I said, I was already on the "interest" fence anyway.  After my talk with this moron, I decided that I have no interest in being in an environment that believes that its okay to ask this type of question.

I do hold out hope that eventually we as a society will reach the point where, as David Stern stated, coming this is a "non-event" (or, even necessary). We certainly are not there yet.  As recently as this week, I started seeing advertisements against gay marriage in NY.  The reasons against gay marriage are ridiculous (one of the arguments used in the ads are that some NY teachers had taken elementary students to a gay wedding or some foolishness---one would have thought that the teachers took them to a porn show). 

Being gay is not all of who I am, but it is a part, a significant part.  I can no more separate being "gay" from being male or being black (or, being impatient).  All of these different qualities, characteristics and attributes combine into making me the person that I am, and I should not have to separate them out from any reason (nor do I have any intentions of doing so).

Yes, we have come a long way, but we are not there yet.

Update 5/16/2011...CNN Anchor Don Lemon has come out as gay...Not that I am all that surprised, but, I applaud Don's courage...I have always enjoyed watching him on CNN (and, it doesn't hurt that he is easy on the eye!)...But, I think it took a great deal of strength to do what he has done and I look forward to reading his book next month.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Craziness...

The WH better not back down on its invite to Common at a poetry event this week...So what if that moron Sarah Palin and the conservative blog the Daily Caller has something negative to say...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Living While Muslim...

I just don't even know what to say about this.  I don't typically like to engage in comparative forms of discrimination or oppression because I think its futile and sets up false dichotomies, but this might be more oppressive than "driving while black"...Ironically, these Muslims were on their way to a conference on irrational fears against Muslims (using the logic of the pilot and others who express a fear of Muslims, all non-white men should be scrared as hell given the history of white men toward "others")...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who Is Anti Israeli?

Well known playwright Tony Krushner had been denied an honorary degree from City University of New York because of his views on Palestine---you know, the whole issue of human rights and all.  I am no where near an anti-Semite, but one of the things that I found troubling about certain pro-Israeli advocates is that they seem to believe that Israel can never be criticized, even when its wrong (nevermind that Krushner himself is JEWISH! and a damn good playwright).  This tendency toward extremism in the  pro-Israeli advocacy is something else that bothers the hell out of me. 

This is but one instance of the attempt to silence critics.  Something similar happened with the independent film Miral, which was released a few months ago (btw---I saw the movie and read the book!).  All that I will say is that right is right...

After typing and posting, I found this update on the Kushner situation ...Maybe the board should consider asking for the resignation of the trustee involved in this little fiasco...I certainly question his judgement and objectivity...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More Thoughts on Osama

As one might imagine, there has been a ton of ink spilled (both literally and figuratively) over the killing of Public Enemy No. 1 (aka Osama Bin Laden).  I am actually pretty ambivalent (as I think I stated in a post yesterday).  First, I am generally opposed to capital punishment...so, I have a problem "celebrating" death---irrespective of who it is...More importantly, I don't understand the chants and euphoria surrounding the killing of Osama...It seems rather...silly to be frank (yesterday on "Morning Joe", Peggy Noonan said that she was "happy" and I thought, "Happy?  Really?")  I guess I question the point of killing Osama---deterrence?  We are dealing with people who relish in suicide, so I don't think killing a terrorist accomplishes much.  Do I feel safer?  No, I don't and considering the increased police presence in NYC, some folks at the top realize the need for increased vigilance.  Retribution?  Well, as a family member of one of the victims said yesterday, it won't bring back a deceased loved one.  Justice?  Given the enormous costs to us as a country (both financially and in terms of lives lost), I ask whether the ends justified the means?  I guess killing Osama had to be done, but again, I really do question the reaction and what it says about us as a country.  A friend sent me this article today and I think the writer sums up my feelings in more artfully than I seem capable of doing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama is Killed

President Obama's speech on the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  Given the time, lives and financial resources spent tracking down Bin Laden, this is a significant accomplishment by all involved from the President on down.  Personally, I don't take the death of any person lightly---that's just the humanist in me.  Moreover, as many commentators have noted, this doesn't (and will not) end the campaign against terror throughout the world.

What I have found a little disturbing are the crowds (including outside of the WH) chanting "USA"????  This isn't a soccer match!  Real lives have been at stake.  This response seems a little simplistic to me (but, that's just my opinion).  Maybe "disturbing" isn't the right word---but, I certainly don't understand it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

2011 TriBeCa Film Festival

The 2011 TriBeCa is coming to a close.  This is a list (and links where I can locate them) to films that I saw over the past week.  This was the first time that I actually saw any films as part of the festival and I have to say that I feel like I hit the jackpot!  Before the festival started, my partner and I sat down with the festival schedule and move descriptions and selected movies that appealed to our various interests.  For the sake of appreciating the work of each filmmaker, I hope that each film is able to find a wider audience.

"Mama Africa" about South African singer and social activist Miriam Makeba.

"When the Drum is Beating" about Haiti's most popular and celebrated band...But, this film is about so much more...

"Renee' "  about the first openly transsexual professional tennis player

I am looking forward to next year's selections!!!!

WH Correspondents Dinner

President's Obama's comments at the White House Correspondent's Associatioon Dinner...They were pretty hilarious...There were the obligatory (and deserved) digs at Trump, the President himself, and a few  jabs at our current political climate.
I just found out about this organization this morning!  I am just doing my part to spread the word!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Monarchy...Really? In 2011? That's Crazy

Whew---I thought that I was the only person who is sick of this "royal" ridiculousness!  The entire concept of a monarchy (a constitutional one at that, that has no authority) is ridiculous...For years, I have been trying to wrap my head around this concept (and yes, I acknowledge that in the states, we have our own problems with worshipping individuals for basically doing nothing)...

This writer (whom I think is British) sums up my own feelings in a way that I seem to have problems articulating.  This morning, I went to watch GMA (begrudingly) as I normally do, only to find that the program, (as bad as it is) had been hijacked by the "royal" wedding hyseria (meanwhile, I coundn't find out any info regarding the devastation that hit the midwestern US yesterday).  To make matters worse, the insufferable Barbra Walters urged viewers to "...wake up the kids so that they could see a fairy tale happen" (or, something along those lines).  Its was all so ridiculous and silly (and, honestly, a bit...vulgar, maybe?  such opulence in a time of such economic deprivation seems inappropriate especially considering that the opulence is funded by the taxpayers...).  I may not be a British citizen, but that doesn't mean that I don't find the monarchy system problematic and the American media's coverage of the wedding a serious lapse of judgment.

"Just Us" or Justice?

More voter suppression tactics...this time in Florida.  This should come as little surprise given the importance of Flordia to the presidential electoral process and how strongly Florida went for President Obama...what is surprising is how much isn't being done by activist in response to these actions...Well, maybe I should take that back...Since the law hasn't actually been passed by the Florida legislature, maybe action in opposition is a bit premature.  I did hear (I think it was on Rachel Maddow, but I can't be sure) that the Brennan Center for Justice well be looking into this...(and, I imagine taking litigation action).  I seriously hope that the Department of Justice is eyeing these developments as well.

About 1 month ago, I told my partner that I anticipate that the election of 2012 will be ulgy...very ugly...2008 was merely a warm-up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beyond Crazy...

There have been many sad days in this country and I add this as one of them---President Obama and the White House have released his long form birth certificate today (I haven't bothered posting a link as I am sure that there are endless places online where one can review this document if you are so inclined. I personally, have not interest).  The endless indignities and slights endured by this President, the first black president in the country's history, continues.  I don't think that President Obama is entitled to a pass from criticism to the extent that someone has a legitimate beef with his policy focus. However, I have a serious problem with the manner in which the character and personal attacks against the President (and the First Lady) are often coded (and, sometimes, not so coded) in ugly racial language designed to appeal to certain segments of the population.

Very often, I have read questions online from people who have asked why the President didn't just release the birth certificate sooner, to which I respond [rhetorically], "Why?"  What other president has been forced to release a birth certificate?  What other President has had his religious beliefs and patriotism repeatedly questioned? What other President has endured the number of threats against his life?

All credible evidence that has been produced substantiates the proposition that President Obama was born in the United States.  Not one proponent of the "birther" controversy (including the annoying and self congratulatory Donald Trump) has produced a single scintilla of evidence to the contrary.  Moreover, I am not even sure that the release of the long form birth certificate will even end the matter...But, like I started off...this is a sad day in America. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Who is exploiting Whom?

See black folks, we don't need to worry about exploitation coming from any other corners since we seem to be doing a damn good job ourselves!, I mean Snoop-do you not have enough Ca$h?  Or, my personal fav is the b.s. Rushcard from Russell Simmons, who just wants to ensure that "everyone has access to the American dream"(this tag line is taken from his commercial, so I may be off a little, but the sentiment is there...)  How does paying Simmons & Co. fees for this b.s. prepaid debit card provide access to the American dream?  I am still trying to figure that one out...

Lawrence O'Donnell on The Donald

This clip is Lawrence O'Donnell's editorial on the dangerous campaign being waged by Donald Trump "questioning" the President's place of birth...I have been laying off of the opinion/political/news shows for a bit (this gets me too work up!).  I did see this clip when it aired originally aired.  Well said...



Lawrence O'Donnell Clip

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spike vs Tyler

So, Spike and Tyler are still at it?  Personally, I am not a fan of Tyler's movies...I saw one "Madea" movie and knew that it wasn't my cup of tea.  I watched "Why Did I Get Married" at the urging of my sister.  I wasn't impressed...It was flat and the characters were pretty one dimensional.  This is the same complaint that I have about Tyler's work in general...I guess he has a right to put out the work that he does (and, apparently, there is a market for his product)...The real issue for me is that there is a considerable lack of diversity and depth in the images and portrayals of movies with African-Americans (not to mention other folks who are non-white).  I try to speak with my wallet---I support the work of people who do things that interest me (I use the same approach with television, which greatly limits what I watch since most of television is pretty much mindless)...At the same time, I do feel like perhaps Tyler Perry should exercise some degree of responsibility given his platform (and, he is not the only person with whom I impose that obligation).  He professes to have grown up around people like his characters and I guess my response would be, "Really?  Are you still in therapy?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Don't I Know!?!?

I just finished reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the noted historian and scholar Manning Marable (who died 3 days prior to the book's official release).  I found the book very well written and documented.  I hadn't read Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X in almost 20 years! So, it was nice to revisit Malcolm's story and ponder what his legacy means to me.  Something that I found disheartening was a post by a blogger (http://gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com/2011/04/malcolm-and-marable.html) who apparently hadn't bother to read the book, but yet felt it necessary to call the "tome" mean spirited (btw-I did send the blogger a comment asking whether she had actually read Marable's book-as of yet, she has yet to post my comment (which clearly she has the right to do since that is her blog).  This incident recalled another situation that I encountered sometime in 2010.  My partner and I had attended a matinee performance of the Broadway musical The Scottsboro Boys---we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was well done and emotionally moving.  However, we didn't know that some group in NY had organized a boycott of the production and was picketing the theater (not that it would have mattered).  Their beef had to do with the fact that the pay had been done as a minstrel show (designed to mock racism and the incident that led to the infamy of The Scottsboro Boys).  I ended up having a lengthy email exchange with one of the organizers (?) of the boycott...who hadn't seen the damn play!

I just don't understand how a person can criticize something they haven't seen (or read) based upon snippets (or, their own preconceptions).  That just baffles me!  I think the issue boils down to a lack of critical thinking ability and this need to flatten out what is/is not "authentic".  I am certainly not saying that everyone has to like everything, but I do believe that its difficult to raise opposition to something when you don't know what you are opposing.  Apparently the blogger (that I referenced) is upset with Marable for his allegations that Betty Shabaz and Malcolm may have been unfaithful during their marriage (based upon his research).  So what?  Last time that I checked, both of these individuals were human with respective human shortcomings (that plague all of us), so it is conceivable that infidelity could have played a role in their marriage.  More importantly (from the perspective of Malcolm's legacy), that's a family issue and it does not diminish from the interesting dynamic presented by his life story.

I felt the same way about the "organizer" that I traded emails with about The Scottsboro Boys.  Beyond that fact that the cast is 99.9% black (which isn't necessarily a barometer for anything), the telling of this story and the manner in which it was done (as a minstrel) served as a harsh reminder of how far blacks have come (and, thanks in large part to certain entertainers who shall remain nameless for now), how far we have to go to have our humanity universality recognized.

I can just hope that we (all of us) will continue to evolve in our thinking (naturally, myself included), some of the things that I read and see are just...well, crazy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Calling Trump To The Carpet

Bill Cosby and John Legend have both taken justifiable shots at Donald Trump---thank goodness since Meredith Viera apparently didn't feel any obligation to call Donald "Media Whore" Trump to task on his factual inaccuracies. I honestly don't know nor do I care whether he intends to run for president, whether he honestly believes the "birther" crap and quite frankly, I am not all that interested in his views on race...I am just sick of him getting a pass to espouse his foolishness...He allows himself to be interviewed, he states these ridiculous views that have been debunked and the interviewing journalist just sits there and doesn't challenge him---wtf?  Is it too much to ask some of these folks to do their job?

Just so I am clear, I don't have a problem with legitimate criticism of President Obama (or any African-American...I don't think that anyone should be off limits).  But, relying on crazy theories that feed into the xenophobia of fringe elements (which, scarily, appear to becoming mainstream) that are tinged in racism is a problem.  I am a little uncomfortable with John Legend calling Trump a racist---I don't know if he is or isn't...I do believe that this birther bullshit has its roots in racism, but like calling someone an anti-Semite, a sexist or homophobe, I believe that calling someone a racist should be based on uncontroverted evidence, but that's an issue John Legend will need to deal with...He has the resources and intelligence to defend his position, so I don't want to appear to be speaking for him, I just wanted to throw my own opinion into the mix.  I am just glad to see someone who can garner media attention who in turn utilizes that platform for something other than promoting them self (or some product). 

NY Public Schools

This is an honest and insightful article from the Times about a Bronx Middle School's relative success and the never ending challenges it faces.  I have said it repeatedly, parents have to be involved, irrespective of the resources of the school.  Additionally, it seems that NYC DOE and NY State DOE regulations that stand in the way of this principal (or, prohibit him from receiving the extra resources that he needs) should be re-evaulauted---it makes no sense that he is penalized in some ways for his success.  [One, another note, I am glad that Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg's initial choice to replace Joel Klein as Chancellor, has "resigned".  I just wish the Mayor had left with her].

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bristol Palin Earns What?

The absurdity of this story speaks for itself...Suffice it to say that I won't be counted as a contributor to this organization.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Whose Crazier---Charlie Sheen or the Ticketholders?

This is kinda funny to me, in a sick way, I mean, what honestly did the ticket buyers expect?  Why would ANYONE pay $150 per ticket to see Charlie Sheen do anything?  Personally, if I were Charlie Sheen, I wouldn't give any thought to giving these people a refund. I guess there is some truth to the old saying that a sucker is born every minute...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who Looks Crazier?

This is part of the reason that I have a problem with religion---First, this lunatic Pastor Terry Jones decides to put the Koran on trial, and, upon reaching a "guilty verdict", burns the Koran ...In response, some Muslims react with violent protests...As strongly as I hold certain beliefs and ideas, I am not about to engage in violent demonstrations because some mentally deranged media whore who calls himself a pastor defaces an inanimate object of symbolism that I hold dear...Both of these actors look bad (and, by no means do I think that the actions of these demonstrators are demonstrative of the overwhelming majority of Muslims...), but, this is a mind set that I can't process...

Manning Marable Dies

Well known historian and social critic Manning Marable died yesterday (and, coincidentally, he has a new biography on Malcolm X that will be released on Monday). 

I remember reading some of his work for a research project in college...He was very deep...I look forward to the new tome.

Buffet's Straight Talk

When I first read about the resignation of Warren Buffet's possible successor, I thought that Mr. Buffet's excuse and/or justification rang pretty hollow.  Apparently, I am not the only person who thought so...Same thing happened within the last 12 months when Goldman was under intense scrutiny for its business operations following a multi-billion $ tax payer bailout (and some serious gaffes from its CEO).  No less a savior than Warren Buffet came to Goldman's rescue (for the second time, I might add...at the height of the financial collapse, Mr. Buffet provided Goldman with $5 billion in capital in exchange for some period advantageous business terms---the Treasury Department should have been paying attention). 

Its not surprising that Mr. Buffet would defend his businesses (and, in some case, the folks that work for him).  I think (for me, at least) what's a little unsettling is that  Mr. Buffet is considered my most to be a straight talker (I don't know him, so I can't say that I share that view).  However, in the instances outlined by this op-ed columnist (and, the Goldman scenario), Mr. Buffet did what [most?] people tend to do---they throw objectivity out the door for the sake of self-serving statements or positions (whether those protections are in protection of themselves or their businesses interests).  For one the country's (and, indeed, the world's) wealthiest men, this appears a little unseemly...Why risk your credibility to defend what in many cases (at least those that have been outlined) appear to be indefensible?  I think this is a pretty straightforward question.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Whose crazy here?

So Snooki earned more than Toni Morrison for an appearance at Rutgers (yes, there are some subtle considerations involved as outlined in the article), but the bottomline is---are you kidding me?  Its no wonder this country is in its current state (which was a long time coming!).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crazy Grang Rape Story from Cleveland, TX

This story is sad and problematic on so many levels.  This is actually the 2nd version of the article from the NY Times...The initial story in the NY Times was vilified for lacking balance (a sentiment echoed by the Public Editor of The Times)...(I tried to post the position of the Public Editor, but I can't find that article).  The issue (about the coverage of The Times for this particular story) was discussed on NPR this afternoon---much of the criticism of The Times was a result of a perceived lack of empathy for the alleged victim (honestly, considering that there are cell phone videos of the attack- and I didn't know there were multiple attacks, and the girl is 11, I think that we should dispense with using the word "alleged")...An ancilary issue that was brought up during the discussion on NPR is that some "activist" are claiming that the suspects (who are predominantly African-American) are being targeted because of their race...Normally, I believe in innocence until proven otherwise...But, I repeat that there is cellphone video of the attack(s) and the girl is 11 (below the legal age for consent in TX)...So, my guess is that there is more going on than targeted selection based upon anything other than vulgar and cowardly act(s) by a bunch of males who are definitely less than men.  There are times when I certainly believe its appropriate and justified to bring up race---this isn't one of them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

London Protests

Huge protests in London regarding the drastic budget cuts (I heard something like 300,000 jobs will be lost)...Hmmm...sounds like to me that they might want to start with eliminating the financial support of the "royal" family...Just a thought...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Voter Suppression law moving through the Ohio Legislature...I grew up in Ohio (and couldn't wait to get out), but this hurts...I don't suspect that the Ohio Senate will stop it (ditto for Republican Gov. Kasich) ...and, just time in time for the 2012 elections!  Maybe the Dept of Justice will step in, but for some reason, I am not holding my breath...

Rising Income (really, it should be wealth) Inequality

Bob Herbert, [now a former] NY Times columnist, wrote his last column today.  I generally enjoy ready Herbert's work, which today centered on the growing income inequality in the country (one point that I would like to note is that these periods the rosy less income inequality generally didn't apply to black, women, Latinos...but, hey...that's a minor issue)...The problem of income inequality has gotten out of control and we all seem to accept it as inevitable, which it is not.  Yesterday, the Times ran 2 other interesting articles....One concerned G.E.'s successful tax avoidance strategies (which should give all of us pause for concern...)  and the other concerned a borrower who was sent to jail to taking a "liar loan" (also known I think as a "stated loan" where a borrower states his/her income on the mortgage application without providing any substantiation)---this is contrasted with the former CEO of Countrywide Home Loans, whose CEO got a slap on the wrist...Yes, I do suppose that the rich are different from you and I---they don't actually have to suffer the consequence of their actions, we do!  (and, apparently, we no only suffer from our actions, but we suffer from their's too...).

Just a thought...in light of this article on G.E., the President should ask for Jeffrey Immelt resignation from this Presidential Commission (that I am certain doesn't really do anything...)...I am certain that I am expecting too much, but its a thought...