What Sort of Leadership Do We Want From Our Leaders?

He's no Malcolm X, but could we handle Malcolm X today?

President Obama went to the Congressional Black Caucus dinner and spoke about Black unemployment, Black problems and Black people.  All the things critics like Maxine Waters and Tavis Smiley and all the other professional “leaders”  have ripped Obama for not saying he said out loud and on the record.

“With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.

“I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.”

Seems they didn’t dig Obama telling them to “stop complaining.”  Complaining is what Waters and Smiley do best.  Smiley sputtered,  “How does he get away with saying this to Black folk?” Waters sniffed indignantly, “I don’t know who he was talking to because we’re certainly not complaining,”

Negroes, please!   I hate to see bourgeois Black people get their ass on their shoulders when they get called out.  Tavis all you do is talk and if talking’ could solve a problem we wouldn’t have any.  Maxine,  you’ve been in Congress for 21 years!  How are your constituents in South Central L.A. doing these day?  With all the ethical clouds hanging over your head where do you get the balls to be so damned morally superior?

Waters and Smiley are so focused on their disdain for the messenger they didn’t bother listening to the message.

"You talkin' to me? I know you aren't talking to me."

With all the whiny responses to the president’s remarks I got to wondering.  What would happen if a real flamethrower spoke to the CBC?   How would these proper and respectable Negroes handle being called out by a Black man who spoke in capital letters and with no regard or concern whether or not they wanted to hear what he had to say.

What would happen if Malcolm X spoke to a group of politicians and professional Black leaders?   What would that sound like?

Maybe something like this.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”

“The greatest miracle Christianity has achieved in America is that the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent. It is a miracle that 22 million black people have not risen up against their oppressors – in which they would have been justified by all moral criteria, and even by the democratic tradition! It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy! It is a miracle that the American black people have remained a peaceful people, while catching all the centuries of hell that they have caught, here in white man’s heaven! The miracle is that the white man’s puppet Negro ‘leaders’, his preachers and the educated Negroes laden with degrees, and others who have been allowed to wax fat off their black poor brothers, have been able to hold the black masses quiet until now.”

“You can cuss out colonialism, imperialism, and all other kinds of ism, but it’s hard for you to cuss that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, your soul goes.”

“Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.’ What did we do, who preceded you ? I’ll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don’t you make the same mistake we made….”

“Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”

“Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race… is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!”

 “People involved in a revolution don’t become part of the system; they destroy the system… The Negro revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system it has condemned to accept them…The price of freedom is death. “

“Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We shall overcome … Suum Day…’ while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against ? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and ‘I have a dream’ speeches? And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.”

“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American…. No I’m not an American, I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy…. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.”

“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.”

“If you’re afraid of black nationalism, you’re afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house — quicker than the master would. If the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

“We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.”

“I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do. And that’s the way every Negro should get. Any time you know you’re within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don’t die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“If it doesn’t take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man. You let that white man know, if this is a country of freedom, let it be a country of freedom; and if it’s not a country of freedom, change it.”

Yeah, if Malcolm X spoke to some of these so-called “Black leaders” there would be smoke coming out of their ears and their heads would explode.

At some point Waters and Smiley and all the professional pessimists who call out Obama for not showing concern about issues of poverty, unemployment and the suffering of African-Americans will to have to decide if they’re primarily interested in only criticizing him when he’s wrong instead of supporting him when he’s right

It used to be Black people responded when they were challenged by their leaders and yes, Barack Obama is a leader.   He’s not a fire starter as Malcolm X was and he’s far too careful at times but this is not the first time Obama’s policies have come wrapped in a moral lesson.  Waters and Smiley don’t want to be challenged.  They want to be asked real nicely.   They don’t even want solutions to problems.   What would they do if they had nothing to bitch about?

What would they say if Malcolm X challenged them to stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying?  If a Black moderate like Obama annoys them so much how would an outspoken Black nationalist rock their world?  Malcolm loved Black people but he wasn’t afraid to chide Black people for not stepping up their game.   Writing in The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates pondered the parallels between the fatherly advice both men gave Black Americans.

Always lurking among Malcolm’s condemnations of white racism was a subtler, and more inspiring, notion—“You’re better than you think you are,” he seemed to say to us. “Now act like it.”

Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as “our living, black manhood” and “our own black shining prince.” Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama. Progressives who always enjoyed Malcolm’s thundering denunciations more than his moral appeals are unimpressed by that message. But among blacks, Obama’s moral appeals are warmly received, not because the listeners believe racism has been defeated, but because cutting off your son’s PlayStation speaks to something deep and American in black people—a belief that, by their own hand, they can be made better, they can be made anew.

Barack Obama is no Malcolm X.   No one would argue that,    What else can’t be argued is Black people aren’t what they used to be either.

Chris Christie’s Plus-Sized Problem

A contrast that won't be ignored by comedians

Another day and another Republican “thinking seriously” about getting in the race. Chris Christie, the first-term governor of New Jersey has become the darling of the Tea Party, Karl Rove and other GOP insiders for his blunt speaking ways, union-bashing policies and tough style of governing.

Christie says he’s not running, but he seems to be enjoying all the attention he’s getting from Republicans imploring him to do so.   They see him as their Last Best Hope of denying President Obama a second term.  He sees himself sitting out 2012 and waiting for 2016 when there may be a wide-open contest without the formidable challenge of being an incumbent.

Stop in the name of love. God, I know Rick Perry had a shitty week at the debate last week, but between him and Mitt Romney, that’s a pretty good one-two punch for the Republicans. Sorry if they aren’t perfect, but I can’t believe how fast the rats abandoned the Perry ship after his debate swan dive.

Christie getting in would lively up the base–for about a couple of weeks until his considerable flaws as a candidate are exposed. One of them is his weight.  He’s too fat to win.

This is not to say Christie wouldn’t be a good candidate and a formidable challenger for Obama, but America is a weight-obsessed country. The hefty Christie would be chided as being undisciplined and appearance does matter.  It shouldn’t matter, but everyone knows it does.

Pretty trumps ugly, thin trumps fat, a headful of hair trumps a bald scalp and sexy always trumps frumpy.   These are some of the biological hurdles  Christie is not built to clear.  Hate me for saying it, but prove that I’m wrong.

Christie would be picked apart by commentators cruelly focusing on his size, not his standards. He would be a punchline for every lame comedian looking for an easy and cheap laugh.

This country is never going to choose another ugly, obese, or short president. Why do so many of her supporters think Sarah Palin would be a good president despite her total lack of qualifications for the job?   Because she looks good to them.  Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson would be considered too unattractive to head a presidential ticket.   The media consultants would tell them to get some plastic surgery and don’t come back until then.

It is said the weight of the world rests on the shoulder of the President.  In Christie’s case it looks like it’s slipped to his waistline.   It’s not right and it’s not fair, but it’s not right or fair there’s never been a plus-sized Miss America either.

If you think I’m picking on Christie’s weight just because it’s a soft target you probably think I shop at Casual Male because I like the fashions so much.   I feel for the guy.  I don’t like his politics, but if some naysayes thought Barack Obama was too skinny to be president, Christie doesn’t have a prayer.
Christie should consult with a former paunchy GOP governor who ran for president.  Mike Huckabee dropped 100 lbs before he decided to run for president.

He should give Huckabee a call, drop some lbs and stay in Trenton until 2016 comes around. Christie’s time will come, but it’s not going to be in 2012.   If you don’t look like you could run for the bus you’re not going  to convince the majority of voters you can run for president.

Is America ready for a president that looks like America?

In search of…somebody to beat Obama

The Republican demolition derby continues in this weekend’s Florida straw poll as The Herminator comes crawling from the wreckage.

Former pizza executive Herman Cain surprised rival Rick Perry with an upset victory on Saturday in a Republican presidential straw poll in Florida, dealing a disappointing loss to the Texas governor two days after a shaky debate performance.

Perry, leading in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, had needed a victory in what was an early test of strength to salve the wounds left over from a debate with his rivals on Thursday in which he struggled.

Instead, former Godfather’s Pizza executive Cain, who is far behind the two top-tier candidates Perry and Mitt Romney, won with 37 percent of 2,657 votes cast.

Perry was a distant second at 15 percent, just ahead of Romney, who won 14 percent despite not participating in the poll. Further back were Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann.

Florida’s straw poll is a nonbinding popularity poll and is significant only in terms of showing a candidate’s strength in the state. The state contests to determine the Republican nominee do not start until early next year.

Cain, an African-American who promotes himself as a pragmatic problem-solver with a clear tax reform plan, eagerly welcomed the victory.

“This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored,” Cain said after his win.

Most political analysts give him no chance of winning the nomination.

But Florida’s Republican Party had noted that since 1979 every winner of the Florida straw poll has gone on to become the party’s nominee. Senator John McCain won it in the 2008 cycle and defeated Romney to become the nominee.

"Pack your fudge for you, sir?"

As Scooby Doo might say, “R’uh-oh!”

Will the GOP really try to pull an Obama and make an African-American unknown their nominee? Hey, if all else fails,  send a Black guy to get rid of a Black guy.

Thing is they tried that once before in Illinois when the GOP recruited Alan “Carpetbagger” Keyes to knock off a young Democratic up-and-comer. That didn’t turn out so good.

Here’s what winning a straw polls means.  Nothing.  No delegates.  No states.  No nuthin’.  It’s just for bragging rights and ego strokes.

Because nobody really believes a pizza company CEO is going to be the Republican standard bearer next year.  Nobody.  The nice thing about Cain’s meaningless win is how it embarrasses Perry and Romney while emphasizing their considerable weaknesses as national candidates.

Despite the media’s desire to make it seem like the president doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning a second term, Obama was right when he said, “the odds of me being reelected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”

That’s true and Republican insiders know it.  This is why they continue to look for still more candidates to get in the race.  The hope is someone will turn to be The One to beat Obama.  They thought it might be Governor Goodhair, yet despite vaulting Mittens as the presumed front-runner, Perry has begun reminding everyone why the more there is to learn about him the less there is to like about him.

Somewhere in New Jersey, Chris Christie is brushing pizza crumbs off his shirt and picking up a desperately ringing phone as a near hysterical Karl Rove on the other end begs, “please, baby baby, PLEASE!”

It’s a mighty long way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and until someone emerges Obama is still poised to use and abuse any and all of these chumps.

Cain: "Hey baby. I heard you dig the sexual chocolate." Palin: "Duuuuuhhh."

The Last Day In the Death of Troy Davis

After the execution of Troy Davis comes the tears

(ORDER LIST: 564 U.S.)




The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.

Clarence Thomas, huh?  Why am I not surprised to find his dirty little hands all over this?  He probably wishes he could have killed Davis himself.   But as much as I would like to blame Thomas for Davis’ death, he is shielded from direct responsibility by the secrecy of the Supreme Court.

Each member of the Supreme Court is assigned a portion of the country where all capital punishment cases go to for stay of execution.  Georgia is in Thomas’ ball court.  The entire Court decides whether the stay is granted or not but rarely do they comment either way.  Thomas probably voted with the rest of the Court’s conservative wing to deny the stay, but nobody knows but the justices themselves how they voted.

Not that it makes any difference now.

Davis was put to death for the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1989 and 22 years later, still proclaiming his innocence, he was given a lethal injection and killed by the state of Georgia after the Supreme Court gave them the green light.

If you lock up the wrong guy for burglary or robbery or extortion or arson, there’s always a chance they can be exonerated, vindicated, compensated and freed.

Screw it up with a capital punishment case and that’s it. No do-overs, no takebacks, no second chances to right a wrong. It’s game over. Fuck it up and someone is dead who should not be.

And how do you make up for that?

This is why as someone who has previously supported the death penalty, I am coming around to the conclusion I may no longer be able to do so.

There is nothing any president could have done to spare the life of Troy Davis. That said, while Rick Perry boasts how he sleeps perfectly well having sentenced over 230 people to die, Obama can’t take a pass on commenting on the state-sanctioned murder of Troy Davis.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the president believes in fairness in sentencing but, ” it was not appropriate for him “to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.”

I understand that explanation.  I don’t accept it.

How many votes did Davis have his in his favor among The Nine?

Even if the President doesn’t have the power to pardon a man in a state case, that doesn’t mean he can or should remain silent on one of the biggest and most painful issues of the year.

His silence would equal cowardice.

A leader doesn’t just speak when his people call upon him, but when his people are speaking and he remains quiet.  The president is failing this test of leadership.  It’s nothing new for the Supreme Court to keep their lips zipped.  When Obama dummies up its noticeable by the roaring silence.

The Republicans are scheduled for another debate tonight.  Think anybody will have the balls to ask Rick Perry what he thinks about Troy Davis?

As MLK said, “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict” and the president’s neutrality is not serving him well at this time.   It’s not that Davis was necessarily innocent or a good guy.   There were just ample reasons to delay his execution until some of the unresolved issues hanging over this case were answered.

Apparently, the Court felt after 22 years, all the questions had been answered in their mind.

Obama needs to end the silence and find his voice.  His refusal to say anything is maddening and frustrating.

Every one knows what’s right and what’s wrong. You can’t stay silent in a time of great moral conflict. When MLK was marching and getting dogs sicced on him and hosed down, HE MADE THE CHOICE TO STAND FOR SOMETHING!

I know Obama cares about Palestine and jobs and the government not shutting down. What does he care about one Black man being put to death for a crime he may not have committed?

I got mad respect for Obama, but when he avoids issues of race like Superman avoids Kryptonite he looks like the worst kind of coward.

Troy Davis is dead.   Everybody feel safer now?

"Troy Davis? Hmmm...don't think I know the brother."

The Strange Symmetry of Two Condemned Men

Does Troy Davis deserve to die?

I’m writing this today about Troy Davis because as things stand as this moment, by this time tomorrow he’s likely to be dead.

He probably shouldn’t be.  The State of Georgia plans to put Davis to death for a murder numerous witnesses now say he did not do.   That’s reasonable doubt.   That’s a reason for justice to be swift and merciful.

But justice and mercy seem to be absent in the state of Georgia.

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s pardons board rejected clemency for Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite high-profile support from figures including an ex-president and a former FBI director for the claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.

Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked. It is the fourth time in four years that Davis’ execution has been scheduled by Georgia officials.

“Justice was finally served for my father,” said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down. “The truth was finally heard.”

Kim Davis, the inmate’s sister, declined immediate comment on the decision.

Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the panel decided to reject Davis’ request for clemency after hearing hours of testimony Monday from his supporters and prosecutors. The board did not elaborate on the decision and didn’t detail the breakdown of the five-member board’s vote.

The decision appeared to leave Davis with little chance of avoiding the execution date. Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis’ last option, but he didn’t rule out filing another legal appeal.

Davis’ lawyers have long argued Davis was a victim of mistaken identity. But prosecutors say they have no doubt that they charged the right person with the crime.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who plans a noon EDT vigil at the state prison in Jackson on Wednesday, said he’s asking his supporters to urge the pardons board to reconsider. And he is also asking Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to block the execution.

Over In Texas, where Rick Perry’s Death Machine keeps turning live prisoners into dead ones, they’re really busy this month.   There are four executions scheduled this month with one occurring the same day Troy Davis is to be put to death.  One execution was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

This one isn’t likely to be.

No remorse from a racist killer.

 Working only sporadically, the hands of the clock atop Texas’ 19th century Huntsville death house are an uncertain indicator of the hour. For the hundreds of killers whose lives end in the red brick building, though, the faulty timepiece’s message still is clear: Time is up.

With four executions scheduled in two weeks, September is the execution chamber’s busiest month since May 2010. And, in each instance, a cadre of death penalty opponents – bullhorn and placards in hand – gathers to decry what it considers the supreme barbaric act.

They will travel to Huntsville Wednesday for the execution of North Texas small-time hoodlum-turned-killer Lawrence Russell Brewer. Coming after the high-profile, initially successful campaign to stay last Thursday’s scheduled execution of Houston double-killer Duane Buck, Brewer’s death may seem anticlimactic.

“If we hadn’t had four cases in nine days, we would have focused more on this case,” said Gloria Rubac, of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. “Most of our members work full-time. We do what we can. But, my God, we have so many executions we don’t do anything but go up to Huntsville to protest.”

Brewer, 44, will die for his role in the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., an African-American who was dragged two miles down a lonely Jasper County road in a crime that shocked and sickened the nation.

Unlike Buck’s case, in which Texas Defender Service lawyers filed a barrage of appeals and held news conferences with a surviving victim who urged the killer’s life be spared, Brewer’s presents few legal options or grounds for empathy.

“He is not a sympathetic person,” Rubac conceded.

Kristin Hule, president of the Texas Coalition to End the Death Penalty, said that while her group’s members “unconditionally oppose all executions,” her Austin-based organization must “as a matter of resources and capacity focus on the case that’s right in front of us,” referring to two cases with execution dates before Brewer’s.

Law enforcement officials who recently visited Brewer on death row said he expressed no contrition for the Byrd murder.

Brewer was one of two Byrd murder suspects sentenced to die. The other, John William King, remains on death row. A third, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison.

On June 7, 1998, the trio grabbed Byrd, who was walking along a local road, beat him, then attached log chains to his ankles and dragged him about two miles behind a pickup. Byrd was decapitated when he struck a culvert.

The killers dumped Byrd’s body at a Jasper County cemetery, then went to a barbecue. Brewer’s DNA was found on a cigarette and beer bottle at the crime scene. Byrd’s blood was found on his shoe.

Brewer and King, who met in prison, were avowed white supremacists.

A Black man is convicted of killing a White man, but there is reasonable doubt he did it. A White man is convicted of killing a Black man, but shows no remorse for doing it.

Davis is alleged to have gunned down a police officer.   He denies it.  Brewer was convicted of chaining a Black man to the back of a truck and dragging him down a road until he was decapitated.  He’s probably happy about the whole thing.

Which one of them deserves to live and which of them deserves to die?

We're civilized. We sterilize the needle before we kill them.

James Carville’s Panic Attack

James Carville

His nickname is the "Ragin' Cajun", not the "Reasonable Cajun."

People often ask me what advice I would give the White House about various things. Today I was mulling over election results from New York and Nevada while thinking about that very question. What should the White House do now? One word came to mind: Panic.

— Democratic strategist James Carville

You panic when you’re behind or when you’re losing. Losing your cool because you lose one House seat is a serious overreaction.

And James Carville is notorious for overreacting. His nickname is the “Ragin’ Cajun” for a reason and it’s not because he’s so reasonable.  That’s why he’s on CNN running his mouth instead of working for President Obama running his reelection campaign.

Carville seems to be forgetting how a Democratic president he worked for, Bill Clinton, was so marginalized by the hammering the Republicans laid on Clinton and his party in 1994 when Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America crowd took over the House.   Not long after that bloodbath, a humiliated Clinton said in an interview,  “I am relevant. The Constitution gives me relevance. A president, especially an activist president has relevance.”

I don’t recall Carville offering to fire himself then and neither does another Democratic strategist, Bob Shrum during a similar low point for Clinton.

Writing in The Week, Shrum observed, “So thus, the “geniuses” of 2008 become the scapegoats of 2011. Playing a hasty game of musical chairs would turn Obama’s ship of state into the Titanic. It’s a reflex, a gimmick — and it’s ahistorical. As Bill Clinton’s campaign chief in 1992, Carville didn’t panic — he certainly didn’t fire himself — in the early summer of that year, when Clinton was in last place, at 22 percent, in a three-way race with Ross Perot and the first George Bush.”

Shrum is dead on target with the incessant whining and full-blown panic of “the crybaby chorus” led by goofs Carville.  For what reason should Obama take the advice of a cueball egotist and Clinton loyalist who once sneered, “If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two.”

With allies like this, does Obama need enemies?

What would running around like a chicken with its head cut off accomplished?   There are people in the Obama Administration who don’t need to be there.  Start with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and work the list, but turning over the team is what a second term is for.  Firing staff en masse and chopping off aides at the ankles now won’t make the president look strong.  It will only make Obama look like he’s running scared and nobody needs a scared president.

Twin brothers of different mothers

I’m with Carville in that I agree a Washington with Republicans in complete control would be a disaster in waiting.  Especially, with these particular Republicans whom are extraordinarily conservative and extraordinarily inflexible.

Instead of dumping staffers for the sake of appeasing panicky libs, the president is wisely drawing vivid and unmistakable difference between himself and the GOP with both his jobs plan and now his “Buffet Bill” proposal.   Neither of these efforts are likely to go far in the House or the tied-into-knots Senate, but it’s nevertheless important in the symbolism.   Who could be opposed to putting Americans back to work and making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share?

The 2011 extremist Republican Party, that’s who.   Most Americans are focusing on getting a job or keeping the one they have.  The last weeks of baseball and the start-up of football as well as the fall television season are all most interesting to them than a special election in New York to replace a disgraced congressman.

Is it time to be concerned?  Certainly.  The president’s poll numbers are bad and he’s losing support with key demographics he relied upon in 2008.   The economy blows and there are no jobs being created.  The political process is broken and there’s no signs of fixing it without radical measures.  Rather than freaking out like Carville,  the warning from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that continued high unemployment could spark the sort of unrest and rioting seen in the Middle East, should be sending out alarm bells in Washington, but only the Democrats seem to hear them.

Obama would be smart to ignore Carville. Anyone who has Mary Matlin as a foot warmer is not to be trusted.  The suggestion Obama needs to make a sharp turn to the Left is not going to get him reelected.   I’m further to the Left than the president is, but as it was pointed out on The Reid Report blog, the supposed might of the Progressive Left is more theoretical than actual.

For all we know Carville talks in his sleep. I like the way how the anti-Obama “experts” who don’t have the President’s ear keep trying to whisper in it. If Obama wanted Carville’s advice, he’d call him, not the other way around.

Beware experts.  They always tell you why it can’t be done until someone does it.  Carville contributed nothing to the election of Barack Obama.   He may be earnest, he may be sincere, but he isn’t contributing anything to Barack Obama’s reelection either.   He needs to take a Xanax and lie down some place where there are no microphones nearby.

I searched for a photograph of Carville and Obama together.  You know what?  I couldn’t find one and if you can’t find something on the Internet, it’s probably not there to be found.

The absence of even a casual moment shared between the president and Carville should tell you how much Obama needs Carville.   Not at all.

“Unsung,” Ugly Egos and a Superstar That Wasn’t.

"Unsung? Who me?"

I watch very little television anymore.  I’ve been getting smarter every day.  A lot of pro football, throw in some news and DVR Frontline, and I’m pretty much good.  I don’t do reality shoes, competition shows, talent search shoes and any kind of Real Basketball Skanks from Jersey Whores crap.

Television doesn’t entertain me much these days so I’ll settle for being educated.

Which is why I enjoy TV One’s Unsung.   I learn stuff.  If you’ve got a favorite R n’ B act you’ve been jonesing to find out what they’ve been up to after they fell off the charts and have been relegated to night clubs and state fairs, this is your show.   It’s about as good a Behind the Music clone can be since VH-1 killed that show off and resurrected it as an zombiefied version of the original.  .

For those whom aren’t familiar with the show, the Wikipedia synopsis will fill in the blanks.

Each episode usually begins with the upbringing of the artist within his family, painting a picture of the issues driving the artist in his adult music career. Themes of “escaping the hard-life of the streets” and “experiencing physical abuse”, as well as “signs of musical genius”, can be found in many of the lives of the subjects of Unsung. Those interviewed in this segment of the show typically are family and friends, although some are famous if the subject of the episode is an R&B group. The story then progresses into the trials and triumphs of the artist’s early days in the music business, as the artist chases his “big break” which propels him into the limelight on the way to stardom. Fellow artists / music producers / managers of that time pepper this section of the show with anecdotes of the artist’s musical prowess and potential, and also possible hints to what may have lead to the subject’s downfall. The next stage highlights the pinnacle of the artist’s fame with the perks and perils that come with it. The final part of the show details the “turning point”, in which a major incident, mainly of a tragic, health-related nature, occurred that caused the artist to put his music career on hold for an indefinite period, if not permanently.

Unsung has tailored this formula, depending on the show’s subject, to portray artists whose “turning point” occurred for more business or personal reasons, and who may have recovered from it to continue a far-less famous, but rewarding, career.

A wizard, a true star, and a total egotist

The three stories I wish they would tell are the rise and fall of Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone and I doubt they ever will because nobody else has.   Remember a few years ago there were not one, but two Marvin Gaye bio-flicks in production, one that was supposed to star Jesse L.Martin from Law and Order?   Not ringing any bells?  Probably because they’ve been in development hell for so long we’re no closer to seeing a Marvin Gaye movie today than we were in 2008.

There are other acts I’d like to see get the Unsung treatment including Tevin Campbell, Ray Parker Jr., Angela Bofill, Mtume, Stephanie Mills, Starpoint, Karyn White, The Brothers Johnson, Stevie Woods, Atlantic Starr, and Terence Trent D’Arby,  Especially Terence Trent D’Arby.   As far as “the Next Big Thing” goes, it doesn’t get bigger than D’arby.

Ah, TTD.  Before Kanye West grabbed the crown of the world’s most arrogant pop star, the American-born, British transplanted singer was the undisputed champion of the Ugly Ego.

D’arby was good.  Real good.  His 1987 debut album Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby (pompous album titles was a running theme with TTD) sold 12 million copies including a million copies within the first three days it went on sale.

At the time, TTD was being mentioned in the same breath as other superstars like Prince and Michael Jackson. It seemed like he could do everything they could and then some.  He was also something of an egotistical prick.  He was nasty to interviewers, uncharitable to his competitors and hostile to his record label.   He had a Master’s Degree in boastful braggadocio.

“I had a job writing in a weekly newspaper but after a while that got boring because I realized the people I was interviewing were far less interesting than me and I didn’t see why I should be talking to them.”

“I am a true soul genius and, unlike certain other singers, 100 per cent man.”

“I may say a lot of strange and incomprehensible things as far as other people are concerned, but that is the way of all brilliance.”

These are not the words of a man suffering from a surplus of humility.   Long before Kanye West declared himself a genius and the rest of the world had better come to accept it, Terrence Trent D’arby was letting Prince and Michael Jackson, that there was a new neo-soul sensation on the scene and he wasn’t settling for running third behind them.

Hadn’t he already proclaimed his first album was better than Thriller and The Beatles ‘ Sgt. Pepper?  TTD was here to kick pop star ass, take names and without naming Jackson and Prince, serve notice there was only one “100 percent man” on the scene and it was him, not them.

What did D’arby in was the failure to follow-up The Hardline with a sophomore effort that could approach the debut’s brilliance.   The follow-up Neither Fish Nor Flesh: A Soundtrack of Love, Faith, Hope & Destruction was a pompous, sprawling, eccentric mess that tanked without fielding even one hit song. Nobody who sings as well as D’arby and has as many ideas can be a total failure, but by into indulging his excesses, D’arby confused his audience, turned off the critics and missed his chance to solidify his status.

You can be a smug little goof and an indulgent flake, but you have to deliver when it comes time to feed the fans.  A wounded D’arby chose retreat after Neither Fish flopped and wouldn’t release another record for four years until Symphony or Damn which while not as good as The Hardline,  it’s not as terrible as Neither Flesh Nor Fish.

Instead of showing he was 100 percent man, all D’arby’s bluster, hype and b.s. proved  was the difference between a shooting star and an enduring superstar.   A star does it once and flames out.   A superstar does it over and over and even when they fall off, they have built a legacy that extends beyond one lucky hit.

D’arby came, saw and he didn’t conquer.   He didn’t even have enough successes to be a failure.  He did it once and anybody can do it once.

That’s pretty much where the story ended for Terence Trent D’arby.  Literally.  He changed record labels, cut his dreads, dyed his hair blonde and legally changed his name to Sananda Maitreya.    He still makes music on his own label and like most other Unsung subjects, claims he’s never been happier.

Riiiiiiight.  Who wants to sell millions of records and make millions of more dollars?.  Going back to bars and nighclubs to sing for your supper is so much more rewarding.

Look, I get it that it’s better to be true to yourself and have no audience than play to the audience and have no self.   I’ve been known to put the intangible of art before the commerce of being a salesman, but one of the most played, tired and unbelievable clichés is the Musician Who Has It All, Loses It All and Couldn’t Be Happier That It’s Gone.   I’m not saying it’s impossible.  I am saying not everybody is happy about it and they need to stop lying that they are.

I am not expecting Sananda to be the first.  Okay Unsung, I’ve practically written the episode for you.  Go to work.

"Man, I'm boring myself."

Tavis Talks Mo’ Trash

Tavis Talks Trash

The Tavis Smiley Update Desk has replaced the now closed Michael Steele Update Desk.  New subject, same old Negro Foolishness.

Every time I think I’m done with Tavis Smiley, he says or does something so ridiculous he forces me to address his garbage all over again.  This time he went on Sean “the Hater” Hannity’s show and dropped this little nugget.    “I respect the president, I will protect the president, but I will also correct the president when I think he’s wrong.”

Roll around in your head for a moment what kind of monumental egotism it requires to appoint yourself as the President of the United States personal instructor where you can CORRECT him when YOU think he’s wrong.

Smiley’s vendetta against Obama goes back to 2008 when he was backing Hillary Clinton.  Nothing wrong with that.  Clinton had a lot of Black support and with good cause.   But the election is long over and Smiley still can not and will not let it go.

No matter what causes he champions or injustices he rails against, Smiley always finds a way to bring it back to one central point: “Obama ain’t shit.”   What makes it worse is Tavis refuses to acknowledge that is his message.

Here’s a dude who went on C-SPAN and bitched, “Once he got elected and my critique of him about holding him accountable to various things didn’t sit so well with him or the people around him, he has not at this point come on my TV or radio programs one time since he’s been in the White House. This is the first president in my professional career that hasn’t invited me to the White House.”

But Smiley turned around to The Grio and said, “I have never leveled a personal criticism of the president.  My job has always been to hold presidents accountable to the best interest of all Americans but specifically and unapologetically for [African-Americans] .”

How did Tavis get the job holding presidents “accountable” (his favorite word) and who hired him?  It wasn’t me.  Was it you?

Smiley cast his lot with Hillary Clinton in 2008 and he’s still crushing on her.  His first primetime special for PBS featured an interview with Clinton after she became Secretary of State.  One reason for Smiley has publicly grumbled that Obama has not invited him to the White House,   Perhaps he figured he’d be sleeping overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom if Hillary had won.

Holding hands and making all kinds of plans

Tavis trotted this “ree-spect, pro-tect and kee-rect” line out on Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, but Kennedy wasn’t having any of it as Les Payne wrote in The Root.  His Obama Derangement Syndrome is so intense when he says he’s been friends with Obama for 15 years and he’s never made a personal criticism of him, he genuinely seems to believe it.   It’s as if the incident with his blatant disrespect of Michelle Obama never happened at all.

Smiley is so lost in his hatred and jealousy of Obama he’s created his own separate reality where he’s the crusading advocacy journalist and the president is the soulless sell-out whom he must expose.   Tavis has wagered his popularity among Black Americans against that of President Obama and that’s no contest at all.

The best takedown of Tavis came not from me or any other cultural critic tired of him running his mouth, but from someone who helped him rise to prominence, Tom Joyner.  Joyner penned a devastating critique on Black America Web following TIME columnist and MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin disrespecting the president calling him “a dick.”   Joyner said he had no expectation of Halperin, but Smiley and his sidekick, Cornel West had let him down.

“…I’m even more disgusted with Smiley and West, two brothers who I did have expectations of – and thought I knew. These two have done much worse than what Halperin has done because they set the tone for it, opened the door to it, and must take much of the blame for creating a climate that would make a white, professional journalist feel comfortable verbally and vulgarly attacking the first black president of the United States.”
When you think you know a person, when you’ve given a person a forum to present his views, when you’ve had a hand in a person’s success, you want to believe that he is the same person he always was.

Remember THAT Tavis – the one who could take any complicated political story that had an impact on black America and “break it down” for us every Tuesday and Thursday in less than five minutes. The one who coined the phrase “radio advocacy” and alerted us any time anyone – from a private business owner to a politician to a corporate giant – even thought about doing black folks wrong. The Tavis that loved black people so much that he would sometimes, during his commentaries, be moved to tears. Where is that guy? You know, the guy that would have been telling me, “Fly Jock, Halperin has got to go.” For a while, I thought he was still with us, even though people around me (and many of you) tried to convince me otherwise. “Tavis is a hater.” “Tavis is only about himself.” “Tavis is jealous of the president.” I wouldn’t believe any of it. I had so much respect for him before his primary goal became selling books, and, later, selling out.

So, yes, MSNBC, fire Mark Halperin. I hope he never works again. I’ve already fired Tavis and Cornel. There’s nothing either can ever do for me or with me again.  I’ve got a new D-word for the two of them: Done

Smiley is an ass.   Every day that goes by he becomes just a little less relevant and a lot smaller than the day before.    His egotism knows no bounds.  He has no humility.   He’s petty and vindictive.

I am grateful to Smiley for one thing.  I no longer read or buy his books.  I no longer watch his television shows. Taking Tavis Smiley out of my private time has saved me plenty of it.   Now if he would only shut up for a while I could banish him from my blog as well.

A message from the First Lady to Smiley the Saboteur