Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Insignificant numbers?

The number of U.S. troops who have died since the invasion of Iraq: 4,000.

Iraqi civilian deaths: estimated at between 83,000 - 90,000 (but unknown for sure)

When told in an interview that most Americans don't think this death toll was worth whatever "success" has come from the Iraqi conflict, your VEEP Dick Cheney said, "So...?"



At this point, all I can do is pray for Cheney's redemption. I really hate to say this because it's not my place; it's for the Creator to determine: but at this rate, Cheney's soul will burn eternally for this.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Richardson endorses Obama

I just found out that New Mexico Governor and former Presidential candidate Bill Richardson has offically come out to endorse Sen. Obama. I can imagine that Hill is steamed. Not so much at Richardson or Obama, but at President Clinton.

Apparently, while they were hanging out watching the Super Bowl, William Jefferson didn't spike Richardson's french onion dip as well as he thought.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fire Kwame!

I'm gonna take a break from my regularly scheduled programming about a black politician who inspires me (Obama) in favor of a black politician who continues to embarass me.

I just read that Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has rejected the city's call for resignation after being caught up in a host of scandals (H/T to my sister for the link). Ever since his appointment as mayor he has been engulfed in a variety of controveries; most recently the scandal where he and Christine Beatty; a high ranking city aide were complicit in a steamy, illicit series of communication via text messaging on a city cell phone. When questioned under oath, both Kilpatrick and Beatty perjured themselves. This story has been parodied by a few folks, but here's the funniest clip I've seen to date:

This, coupled with giving his boy millions of dollars in undeserved contracts, relying on the race card to get himself out of trouble, allegedly hosting a party with strippers (on the taxpayer's dollar), the now infamous Whistleblower lawsuit, leasing an SUV for his family during a budget crunch, and secretly receiving over $8600 to stay in a five start hotel in La Costa. As far as scandalous public officials go, Kwame's at the top of the list.

What's particularly unnerving is that all of this is happening as the city -- and, indeed the entire state of Michigan -- is on the decline.

As much as I’m trying not to come across as being another crab in the barrel, the city of Detroit needs to aggressively push for current mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign if it stands any chance of emerging from its current state of decline. The city has been left in a state of paralysis by Kilpatrick’s corruption. All throughout the time of his administration, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he has absolutely no regard for the city and the people to whom he is beholden.

Only the most crooked, sleazy, underhanded city officials could sit back and watch as his city's schools shuts down, thousands of its jobs get elimated, hundreds of its communities decay, and precious city revenues get soaked up for personal amusement. The city's deterioration under his negligent watch not only cripples Detroit, but it leaves a black eye for the entire state. The largest city in the state is losing more and more of its ability to gain the political posturing and economic influence necessary to convince businesses to invest in the state (in fairness to him though, our illustrious Governor also shares much of that responsibility). Why would anybody come to this state when we have an incompetent Governor and a thug mayoring its largest city?

Perhaps what's even more annoying is the love he's still getting from many black supporters just because he's black. If a white politician pulled some of the same stunts in a predominately black city, he'd be gone in a nanosecond. Oh...scratch that. Maybe it doesn't have as much to do with him being black as it does with him being a Democrat. I mean, we all know how black folks love them some Democrats, even if they don't love us. Maybe it's just that some of Detroit's citizens are masochists. Perhaps they get a certain kind of pleasure from being abused. Who knows?

All I know at this point is that the city is in desperate need for someone who will tirelessly fight for quality in public education, job development, neighborhood improvement (and not just when the Super Bowl comes to town), and for the citizens. Frankly, that's not happening now. For that reason -- in addition to the obviously scandalous behavior of said mayor -- Kwame needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY!

I won't even lie: I initially predicted some pretty big things for Kwame; largely because we share many common interests. He's a young, African-American professional with an interest in politics, a perfect marriage of "book and street smarts", and had a bright outlook for a diminishing city. But it didn't take too long into his adminstration for me to realize that maybe I put my hope in the wrong person. Instead of using those skills and attributes to the city's advantage, he's using them for himself and his crew. Not good for the city.


I'm conceding to Joslyn and the Hippie Conservative who think that their Kilpatrick videos are funny than the one I used. Here they are:

Joslyn's video:

...and the Hippie Conservative's video:

I'll let you decide.

But at least we should all be able to agree that this joker needs to get fired. Now.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Race, religion, and hypocrisy

In a strange, but somewhat expected turn of events, Sen. Obama is set to address has addressed the nation regarding race relations tonight. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect in this speech, though he’s at least hinted that he will address some of the controversial statements made by his fiery preacher Jeremiah Wright regarding this country’s lingering history (and consequences) of social injustice. Hopefully this damage control will be adequate enough to dissipate some of the backlash Obama has been receiving during this presidential campaign. But I’m not holding my breath.

Similarly, I’m not counting on hypocritical right-wingers to turn the spotlight on themselves while they attempt to smear Obama for his association with Rev. Wright.

Week after week, hoards of GOP supporting, white ministers unleash heavy assaults on this country because of its “wrongdoing”. They preach of our impending 'Sodom and Gomorrah'-type doom for embracing homosexuals. They label the country as murderers for legalizing abortion. They preach that AIDS is God’s way of condemning this country for its ‘immoral’ sexual practices. Hell, even one of my old colleagues (conservative, if you didn’t already know) said that God allowed 9/11 to happen because the nation “turned our back” on Him. This sentiment, I should note, was also proclaimed by both Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell; two preeminent conservative ministers. Yeah -- thousands of people (whose only sin was to report to work that day) died because our country turned our back on God. Gotcha.

Despite all of these clearly inflammatory statements from white, conservative ministers; Rev. Wright’s messages are the most scrutinized. When Rev. Falwell died last year, I clearly recall conservative leaders, pundits, and average GOP subscribers conspicuously remembering him as a ‘great American’, a ‘man of God’, and a ‘prophetic leader’. But not ONCE did I hear anyone mention his hateful and ignorant statements. Not once did I hear any of the aforementioned fans of Falwell being asked to “reject or denouce” any of his anti-America statements.

In a scene from the movie “A Time To Kill”, Matthew McConaughey’s character gives his closing arguments in a racially-charged case involving Samuel L. Jackson (on trial for killing two men who raped and brutalized his young daughter). In the summation, McConaughey has the all-white jury imagine the gruesome details of the crime. At the end, he then asks them to imagine the victim being white. I’m challenging the GOP to do the same thing. I’m challenging conservatives RIGHT NOW to take all of the controversial, hateful, scornful messages being allowed to run free from evangelical pulpits and imagine those messages being delivered by Rev. Wright. All hell would break loose. Before he could say “Oops, my bad”, Wright would be crucified with old rusty nails. He’d be labeled un-American, un-patriotic, treasonous, and any number of other bullshit labels we use for people who don’t buy into the flag-waving, anthem singing, American pie eating duties to which we all apparently have to subscribe. White conservative ministers in the Bible Belt say this kind of stuff and they’re calling for the nation to repent. Wright does it and he’s number two on America’s Most Wanted list; only proceeded by Osama bin Laden.

I can only hope that enough people will wise up to this nonsense before the conservative media can capitalize too quickly. Likewise, I hope that Obama’s attempts at assuaging this situation (though he shouldn’t have to) will be successful. But, as I stated before, I’m not holding my breath.

While all this is going on, I can imagine how the Hillary camp is salivating. It's no secret that Hill has been pulling out all the stops to smear Obama; most predominantly using race as the stimulus. Their attempts to undermine Obama's campaign are only fueled by the virtual marriage they're in with right-wingers who devote every ounce of their being to also smear Obama. But I wonder what naughty little sermons can get dug up from some of these peoples' ministers. Would the onslaught cease at that point? I'm not so sure. But if I were Obama, I'd at least pose the question. What's the harm in that?


My illustrious blogging buddy has informed me that I'm late. Sen. Obama has already given his speech. Transcripts can be found here.

***UPDATE (Again!)***

The video of the speech has been posted on YouTube. Here it is:

H/T to Carmen over at All About Race for the video.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Shake that money maker

I'm gonna leave this topic alone, mostly because it's not worth the time it takes to blog about it (You know; that whole war, bad economy, upcoming presidential election thing ranks a little higher on the priority list). But Jay Smooth makes a brilliant and compelling argument aimed at folks accusing the Spitzer call girl of being a sexual opportunist:

Of course, she really is a sexual opportunist. But hey: if the demand is there, why not offer the supply?


Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting your money's worth

Maybe I'm going to hell for this, but am I the only person who thinks that the call girl involved in the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal is not pretty at all? Just in case you haven't seen her, here she is:

I'm in no way endorsing prostitution, but if I were to ever get caught up in a sex scandal with the exotic type, I'd go for the most beautiful woman on the planet. Her.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keith lays the Smackdown on Hill

Here's a clip of Keith Olbermann's "Special Comments" where he rips into Sen. Clinto for basically being idle while former campaign committee member Geraldine Ferraro unleashed a series of ignorant, racially charged statements about Sen. Obama. Take a looksy:


H/T to Don for the vid.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Elections for Dummies

My blogging homeboy, the Hippie Conservative just wrote a great piece which offers the most lucid answer to the Michigan/Florida primaries controversy I've heard so far. Just to give you a recap of the sitchy-ation:

  1. Michigan and Florida legislators decided to essentially break ranks with the DNC party rules which state that only Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina were allowed to hold democratic primaries before February 5. Michigan and Florida wanted to increase their influence on the process of selecting the party's candidate (Honestly, I really can't say I blame them for this. I happen to agree.)

  2. The DNC punished the two states by removing their delegates from the convention.

  3. Five of the Democratic presidential candidates (included in the group is current front-runner Sen. Obama) honored party rules by not campaigning in the violating states; nor did they place their names on those state's ballots. Consequently, those candidates all got rolled into the "Uncommitted" section on the ballot. Meanwhile, the remaining candidates (included in that group is Sen. Obama's opponent, Sen. Clinton) placed their names on the ballot despite party rules.

  4. Clinton wins both states convincingly. But, assuming the nomination was in the bag, Hillary thought nothing more of those two states. But since Obama has emerged as a legitimate (and arguably, favored) candidate, Clinton is demanding that those once insignificant delegates be reinstated.

Hippie goes through all the possible scenarios currently being tossed around to handle the controversy. So I won't bore you with the details. Instead, I wanna highlight the conclusion: where he presents a pretty brilliant solution fair to both Obama and Clinton. The simple solution to this whole debacle is to reinstitute another vote at the expense of the state legislators who decided to break party rules in the first place. Let them jokers pay for it. That way, the onus to fix the problem falls on the very people who created it.

See? This is what I'm talkin' about. This is why Hippie's the odds-on favorite to be my running mate one day. Unless, of course, he's losing in the popular vote. At which case (following the Billary model), I'd have to be his VP.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In the news

Here's a roundup of some of the stuff hitting the airwaves (or not):

Spitz or swallows?
OK. Fine. That was a little crude. Still, it's a pretty appropriate headline for NY Govenor Eliot Spitzer after it was revealed that he has been tied to prostitution. Using the psuedonym "Client 9", Gov. Spitzer -- husband and father of three -- was recorded by an FBI wiretap engaging with a high priced called girl in Washington. With him being a resident of NY, some folks are calling for him to be prosecuted under the Mann Act; which (among other things) prohibits transporting women to other states for prostitution.

I honestly can't say whether or not the charges will stick. But whether they do or not, this dude still needs to resign immediately. Maybe I stand alone in my principles, but I'm sick of hearing about these corrupt politicians. Yes; we all do wrong. Whether the vice is money, drugs, or sex, we all have our demons. But how many of us stand on a bully pulpit everyday decrying the very sins that we commit ourselves?

Hill to Obama: Be my VEEP
Obama to Hill: Hell-to-the-naw!

According to reports, Billary has been hinting at the notion of having Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama as a Vice President. Sure, Hill's got...uh...35 years of experience (Oliver Willis has his fun with this argument), but as it stands: she's currently LOSING this contest. If Hill wins the nomination, this offer will make a little more sense. But right now, isn't it a bit presumptuous and arrogant to assume that a person currently winning a contest should lie down and become an underling?

Obama thinks so:

Supporting torture?
According to the AP, sources from the White House have announced that President Bush will veto the anti-torture bill this week. This bill will prohibit the use of waterboarding, or simulated drowning, or suspected terrorists.

It always makes me chuckle when I remember how Bush said that Jesus was his most influencial political philosopher. I mean, we all know how Jesus loved him some war and waterboarding.

Don't drink the water
Speaking of supporting things, here's another classic example of your government "supporting the troops". KBR, a contractor hired by the U.S., has been providing soldiers stationed in Iraq with questionable water which has likely contributed to health problems of some troops. If you think Blackwater is bad, try Dirtywater.

KBR (then owned by Halliburton. Yes. That Halliburton...) was first investigated regarding dirty water in January of 2006. But it's just now being brought to light. Between this, overcharging for food, and contractor's fraud, somebody is due for some serious prison time.

Deadly day in Iraq
Another eight U.S. troops and 16 Iraqis were killed Monday from separate incidents involving a roadside bomb and a suicide bomber. These deaths are pushing us close to the 4,000 U.S. casualties mark. All this, and the war still doesn't have an end in sight.

Suing for stupidity
File this one under "WTF?!": A former attorney who lost nearly $1 million has filed a $20 million lawsuit against several casinos in Atlantic city, who she has accused of allowing her to compulsively gamble away her own money. I'm seriously not making this up.

Lester Street Murders
My heart sunk after hearing this story; particularly since I was in Memphis not too long ago: Two toddlers and four adults were brutally tortured and murdered inside a Memphis residence. Three other children are being treated in the hospital with injuries ranging from mild to critical. Though the police have a suspect, they have been unable to form a solid case.

Interestingly, another development in this story has surfaced. A blogger somehow snuck into a Memphis funeral parlor and took gruesome photos of one of the murdered victims. As far as I can tell, no charges have been made on the blogger.

What disappoints me about this story (in addition to the obviously horrific nature of the crime) is the limited attention this story has received from the media. While "the nation is mourning" the deaths of UNC student Eve Carson and Auburn student Lauren Burk (tragic as they both are), very little coverage has been devoted to the Lester Street murders. I suspect that America's Missing White Woman Syndrome also applies to stories of murder. But -- whatever the case -- let's keep all of these victims' families in our prayers.

I guess I'll wrap it there. I'm not sure if I can handle too much more of this for one day. God bless this nation. God bless this world.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Awwww! Poor little rich kids

Whoever said "Money can't buy happiness" is an idiot. Or, at the very least, they didn’t watch C-SPAN yesterday.

Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing about the extraordinarily high compensations received by financial executives in the face of a looming mortgage crisis. Included on the panel were a host of high level executives from some of the nation's biggest mortgage lenders.

This hearing was long overdue. It's no secret that, by all measures, executive compensation has been steadily on the rise while the pay of average workers continues to diminish. In the 80's for example, CEOs earned somewhere around 35 times the salary of an average worker. Today however, they make nearly 360 times as much. Though today's figures are down as compared to a couple of years ago, the disparity is still too alarming to ignore. Particularly interesting in this situation is that these CEOs are being rewarded with insane compensation packages even when their companies have performed miserably; recording billion-dollar losses, contributing to a record number of property foreclosures, and causing shareholders to lose millions.

As expected, the questions, comments, and observations provided by the committee cut across party lines. Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) vehemently justified the compensation for CEOs; citing that the committee was playing a "...derivative and potentially damaging role in the discussion of complex transactions, proprietary business decisions and marketplace dynamics." Meanwhile, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was scathing in his assault of these CEOs (most notably former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo who -- in a 2006 memo -- complained about Countrywide not paying the taxes that incurred from his wife's travel on the company jet. Yes. While his company was recording major quarterly losses, he was trippin' about paying taxes for his wife to fly on their company jet.). One by one, the committee (with the exception of the more-than-forgiving Republican members) grilled the CEOs on their exorbitant salaries; juxtaposed to the miserable losses faced by their companies. One by one, the executives defended themselves by testifying on how they really did deserve their payoffs.

Finally -- also as expected -- the committee adjourned by doing absolutely nothing. Well, I guess to say they did nothing is a little understated. Committee chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) did at least congratulate the CEOs on their success and "their many contributions to our country" before ending the hearing. He also made it clear that the committee's questions were -- in no way -- intended to "disparage their records”. Yes, you heard me correctly. At the end of the day, executives who land hundreds of millions of dollars while their companies burn are likely to only receive a figurative slap on the wrist.

So I say again: whoever says "money can't buy happiness" is an idiot.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

When race and music collide

I was just over at Jess's site: Stuff White People Like (You should stop by. I think you'll agree that -- regardless of race -- this site is hilarious!). Just so I'm not branded a racist (just covering myself here), I think the author of the site is white. So please folks, no nasty letters.

Anyway, one of her guest writers put togther a list of the top 10 rap songs white people love. To keep things on an even keel, the writer also created a list of the top 10 rock songs black people love. I haveta admit, I found myself doing the occasional air drumming when I heard some of the rock songs on this list. Likewise, I can remember times being out with some of white friends watching them cut a rug to some of the rap songs on the other list. Ultimately though -- at the end of the day -- I gather this is all just a little racial/musical humor.

Still, I was a little suprised not to see Kris Kross's "Jump" on the white people's rap list:

...or Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" on the black people's rock list:

What other songs do you think should've made the cut?


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bill Clinton endorses Obama

Wow! Who would've thought that Bill Clinton would ever diss his wife; especially after being put in the doghouse after the Lewinsky affair? But apparently, he has. In lue of one of Hill's latest attack ads:

...and one of Barack's messages of hope:

...Bill Clinton has jumped ship and is now officially endorsing Obama:

Cool, huh?


Monday, March 03, 2008

In that number

'Sup party people?! I'm back from New Orleans. Actually, I've been back for a few days now. But tying up loose ends hasn't left me much time to blog. As it usually is the case with my hiatuses, there's lots to eventually catch up on. But in the meantime, I'd like to share a little bit of what went down in the Big Easy during the week.

As a reminder, I joined a group of UM-Flint staff, faculty, and students in Louisiana for the school's annual Alternative Spring Break. Though the university typically changes venues each year, our terrific experience last year was enough to motivate us to go back again this year. Besides as I mentioned before, for this city to even become a sample of what it once was, rebuilding projects will be needed for years to come.

For starters, we stayed at the India House; a hostel close to downtown New Orleans. Having never been to a hostel, I didn't know what to expect. In fact, I was admittedly a little anxious about the idea of staying there; mostly because of the bad rap hostels receive from the horror flick. But the location was nothing like the movie (thankfully). Instead, it had a sort of frat house feel to it. We essentially rented a bed while having access to all of the common areas; the bathrooms, a kitchen, a television room; a sitting lounge, and the outdoor facilities. This common sharing gave us a strong sense of community; especially in interacting with other visitors literally from around the world. In addition to the rich and unique experiences the other residents brought to the table, the hostel staff (all NOLA residents) were incredible to us. Between sharing their pre/post Katrina lives and offering tips on the cities hotspots, they did everything possible to make our stay as comfortable and memorable as possible.

Our work was with the Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association of the lower 9th ward (NENA); a grassroots organization committed to providing consulation and aid to displaced victims of New Orleans. Made up entirely of residents (both current and former) of the 9th ward, the NENA staff have committed their time, skill, and energy to reviving their homes while avoiding red-taped bureacracy that comes in aiding others; much more than what the city, state, and federal governments have been able to do at this point. The work they've done up to this point is nothing short of amazing. Particularly, our group was assigned to do debris removal and clean up in vacant lots. What we initally thought would be a relatively easy job (especially compared to last year's work) wound up being just as arduous. However, I have to admit that -- in a sombering way -- this work wasn't as rewarding as were our previous efforts. In the Musician's Village, we were able to see the fruits of our labor. We were were able to see the houses we helped build, the fences we helped to erect, and the residents who labored with us. In the case of our work with NENA, we were clearing out a vacant yard from a homeowner who had no intention of returning, and which is likely to be cleared away once city contractors came around. Still, just knowing that we've saving the city some expenses with our work left us with a sense of reward. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our work came in the shape of the beautification projects we took on for homeowners still in the area. For some of NENA's clients we cleaned yards, hauled debris, and planted flowers. In areas that were completely leveled by the storms, such beautification were most welcomed.

Our free time was mostly spent in the French Quarter and the surrounding area. As expected, this section of the city is fully restored and doesn't appear to be at all affected by the storm and its aftermath. Multi-colored beads still fly through the air at unsuspecting street walkers. Local musicians still play sets on the corner while trying to get "discovered." Bourbon Street is still...well...Bourbon-ish. As I've cited before, I've always been disturbed at how this section of the city was relatively unscathed while the rest of the city has been left to ruin. However for our kids (and I suspect for most tourists), a restored downtown was a much needed escape from being around destruction all day. I suppose that it also represents the vitality and life that can be found in an otherwise dead city. However, I'm confident that with years of dedication from individuals like NENA, the same life and energy that can be found in the Quarter can one day be shared by the entire city.

To date, this is my fourth visit to New Orleans; the third since Katrina. Each time I visit, I've try to take something new away from it. While some things have been pretty consistent (namely, the opportunity to meet new people and hear new stories), I did at least acquire a new-found love for cajun-prepared alligator (this stuff is OFF THE HOOK!). Yet one thing that has gone unchanged is my anger and sheer frustration with our government. While it continues to commit billions of dollars a month in Iraq, the government's response to the suffering of the average person in America remains laissez-faire. This is especially evident in New Orleans, but it isn't -- by any means -- exclusive to this city. What makes New Orleans so noteworthy to me is that (1) it's considered one of the greatest cities in the country; yet still largely ignored, (2) most of the diaster is the product of man made failures, and (3) that the tourist sections of the city are fine while residential areas remain in dire need. Still; as with before; I'm forever encouraged by the strength and fighting spirit of the residents. Even when their government has failed them, their President has ignored them, their insurance companies have robbed them, the media has lied on them, and their countrymen have criticized them, they remain committed to rising from this. I believe it can be done. But it will take time, resources, and most of all -- us.

If you can, I strongly encourage you to get involved in some aspect. Indirectly, you can always donate money, supplies, or food. But directly, I'd encourage you visit the area for yourself. Make your mark. You can find relatively inexpensive lodging; especially at places like hostels or volunteer camps. And trust me when I say that you won't have a hard time at all finding a place to voluteer. Organizations are in desperate need of volunteers to do just about everything. The harvest is plentiful. Laborers are needed. Get those hands dirty!