Tavis Smiley’s Pathetic Paranoia and Increasing Irrelevance

Always complaining. Increasingly irrelevant.

The job of the artist, the activist and the journalist is to engage in uncomfortable analysis.  If they don’t then all they’re feeding the masses is a steady diet of nothing but comfort food.  There is no intellectual nourishment in always entertaining people.

Then there’s Tavis Smiley.  The self-appointed President of Black America who has been both a race hustler and a shameless corporate shill even as he prowls the country on a “poverty tour” designed for no other reason than to try to embarrass the twice-elected President of the United States.

Not that is has.  Lately nobody seems to notice Tavis  and his stunts.  His pandering for press attention has reached Lindsay Lohan levels of desperation.   For a minute it was fun to watch Smiley babble how he was going to hold Barack Obama “accountable.”   It became clear Smiley really desired Obama to be accountable to him.

That’s when the rank odor of Smiley’s bullshit finally became overwhelming.   Smiley used the 10th anniversary of his PBS television program to accuse the White House of pressuring advertisers to abandon his show and of course he had a reason why they would go after him.

“This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not…They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question…“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”

Oh Tavis, really?  Now you’re so desperate to play the victim you’re reduced to hiding behind your “White progressive colleagues” as your beard?  Negro, please.   Your “White progressive colleagues” aren’t the ones  grinding an axe since 2008 when you began your “I Hate Obama” campaign after he declined to appear at your State of Black America conference  to kiss your arrogant ass.

The causal observer may notice when Smiley speaks about President Obama he asserts he’s only trying to hold him accountable.   This might lead you to think that was Smiley’s favorite word.   Perhaps it is and not simply the title of a book Smiley wrote that bombed.   Here’s the thing about that word.  It can be applied to Smiley too as it was in 2009 when citizen journalist Faye Anderson looked into the race hustlers rewarding relationship with Wells Fargo in pushing sub-prime loans to African-Americans.

Smiley’s complete lack of credibility and anti-Obama  agenda has subjected him to a withering barrage of criticism for his latest unsubstantiated charges against the president.

Shannon Williams: Over the years I have watched Smiley go from a balanced public speaker who offered credible and thought-provoking perspective to his analyses to a bitter man who has used his platform to unjustly attack people who, in his opinion, have treated him in a bad or disrespectful manner. It almost seems as if he has had some sort of breakdown over the years that has caused him to speak in a vindictive and erratic manner. Though a breakdown would be a good escape goat, I think Smiley’s true problem is an overinflated ego. When people haven’t done what he thinks they should do, that ego gets bruised and Smiley gets angry. The way he “repays” the “wrongdoers” is he publically talks about them under the guise that he is holding them accountable.

Accountability is a marvelous thing that we all should be held to, but the said conclusions need to be derived from a thorough and fair judgment system. Public accountability cannot hold a personal vendetta.

Eric Wattree:  …why would Tavis’s corporate benefactors even want to hide the fact that they were being pressured by Obama? Trying to put pressure on Walmart, Nationwide Insurance, or Exxon/Mobile would not only be extremely dumb on the part of the administration, but it would be a gift from God to Tavis’s ALEC connected corporate benefactors. Can you just imagine what Darrell Issa could do with something like that in his House Oversight Kangaroo Committee? He’d turn it into Watergate.
So it seems that yet again Tavis is being deluded by his overblown ego – the same ego that made him assume that Obama had an obligation to come on his “State of the Black Union” show to be anointed by Tavis to run for president; the same ego that made him think that he’s been slighted when Obama failed to do so; the same ego that caused him to go all over the media complaining that “For the very first time in my career I haven’t been invited to the White House;” and the very same ego that made him think that he had enough clout in the Black community to challenge the first Black president of the United States.
The fact is, President Obama hasn’t given either Tavis Smiley, or Cornel West, a second thought since he’s been in office. He hasn’t had to, because he, like just about everyone else in America – at least, with good sense – could see that he didn’t have to. Tavis and West were making themselves look like perfect fools on their own accord, so the president didn’t have to say, or do a thing. All he had to do was sit back and watch them implode – and that’s exactly what he’s done.

Michael H. Cottman: In a month where Republicans have accused Obama of everything imaginable –with the possible exception of Robert Griffin III’s knee injury — it seems that Smiley snagged a timely moment to pile on.

I would argue that the White House doesn’t care enough about Smiley to assemble a team of administration officials who would surreptitiously spend time thinking up new and creative ways to suppress Smiley’s voice.

Smiley says his self-imposed mandate in life is to hold Obama’s feet to the fire and keep him accountable to black people. That’s his choice and his path to follow, but I don’t believe there’s a clandestine campaign within the Obama administration that is secretly trying to shut Smiley down.

He’s just not that important.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.    There is no reason for Obama to sic the dogs on Smiley because his importance is largely in his own mind and his impact is nil.   Take down Tavis?   Why bother?  He doing a fine job of it all by himself.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

The Trashing of Trayvon Martin

The innocent victim or a future thug?

The innocent victim or a future thug?

When the character of the defendant is less than sterling if you’re a smart (and somewhat unscrupulous) defense attorney the next best option if your client’s reputation is less than pristine is to dirty up the victim instead.

The trashing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman‘s attorneys and family has been brutal, ruthless, systematic and ugly.   They are playing hardball.   They are showing no mercy.   Zimmerman’s lawyers began in earnest last week when they released text messages from Trayvon in trying to depict him as a punk kid with violent tendencies.    Zimmerman’s mother did even worse to the teenager.  She made him invisible and irrelevant in a letter she released to her son’s supporters.

Today, April 11, 2013 is the anniversary of the most unfortunate arrest of our son George. I am writing from my heart and with incalculable gratitude to our family members, dearest friends, and those we have not personally met but who have nonetheless offered their unwavering moral and spiritual support. Those who read this letter should do so of their own free will, and do so because they are interested in its message. If you read this letter with the hopes of finding material to mock or rebuke–please stop reading now, because this letter is not intended for you.

April 11 2012 will be forever remembered by the Zimmerman family as the day the justice system failed us as Americans, and as a consequence an innocent man was arrested for a crime he did not commit, solely to placate the masses. George was charged with murder. By confusing the public and manipulating perception in order to sway the “court of public opinion”, Benjamin Crump & co. finally achieved their “first base” victory.

A year later, we find ourselves–as Mr. Crump put it–in “third base” posture: we are awaiting trial. Throughout the past year, as evidence came forth and was later published, we have fought at every turn to be certain George is afforded a fair trial and equal protection under the law. It is imperative now more than ever that George receive fair treatment by the judicial system, as this is the quintessential birthright of every American.

Gold grillz does not a gangsta make.

From the beginning, this case has been heavily publicized and a false narrative was developed surrounding a very real tragedy when there was little evidence available to the public. It is astounding that despite the vast amount of information and evidence now available that supports George’s self-defense claim, the majority of the media avoids its publication. It is indeed alarming that even more media outlets do not regret misinforming the public and have not taken steps to retract the fabrications they are responsible for perpetuating.

The media, with the help of social media made it their prerogative to judge and sentence George before and after his arrest. Even members of Congress and self-proclaimed “activists” used and routinely use to this day the term “murderer” when they speak of him–in effect they are re-enforcing the only acceptable judicial outcome in their eyes. Many have seen to it that he be judged by the public, the very public they were keen on misinforming.

It is for these reasons I share my thoughts and heart with you today. Despite the mythological monster the media created, those who knew George did not abandon him, and those who have become familiar with him throughout the course of this ordeal have prayed daily for him, his wife, his parents and siblings. Without your constant prayer, words of comfort, and endless search for truth–our family would not have made it this far.

After reading Gladys Zimmerman’s letter and its total absence of decency or humanity I understand where George’s racism comes from.   It is more than misleading, self-serving and selfish.  It is inhumane.  Not once is Trayvon Martin’s name mentioned.   No one in the Zimmerman family has a shred of compassion in their cold hearts.

“For the Zimmerman family to allege that the justice system doesn’t work simply because they are unhappy their son was arrested in the first place is disingenuous and disrespectful to the very system that is currently affording him every available opportunity to defend himself. The arrest of an admitted killer is not a violation of due process, it is due process. “Most will agree that no one has been given greater consideration by the justice system for killing an unarmed child than George Zimmerman.”

The Zimmerman family is waging a public relations war on the behalf of their murderous son and nobody has been vocal in his unwavering son than kid brother Robert.  His recent rampage of Tweets to slime Trayvon will likely have no effect on the upcoming trial, but it does show how low Bobby Z. is willing to stoop to.

robertzimmerman_tweetrobertzimmerman_tweet2The Zimmerman defense team released a series of photographs and text messages from Trayvon on their website depicting the teenager discussing guns, being suspended from school and smoking marijuana.    In a text message sent 12 days before Zimmerman gunned him down Martin tells an unnamed friend he was suspended from school for fighting.

“Why you not in school?” a text he receives asks.


“I thought you was going out with ur friend,” the reply says.

“Naw my ol g say she dont want me home caus she think ima get in mo trouble,” he texts back.

Martin’s texts also indicate he may have been curious about guns.

“U gotta gun?” reads a text from Martin’s phone, sent on Feb. 18, 2012, to a friend of his who was on the phone with him on the night of the shooting.

“You want a 22 revolver” asks someone in a text he receives that day.

Three days later, Martin mentioned a caliber of gun while asking a friend in another text, “U wanna share a .380 w.[redacted]?”

Other texts released allude to problems Martin was having at home and with authorities.

“My mom just told me i gotta mov wit my dad,” says one from Nov. 22, 2011. “She just kickd me out.”

“Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because of the way he looked?” Benjamin Crump said,  “If so, this stereotypical and closed-minded thinking is the same mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of his car and pursue Trayvon, an unarmed kid who he didn’t know. The pretrial release of these irrelevant red herrings is a desperate and pathetic attempt by the defense to pollute and sway the jury pool.”

From what I’ve read from legal experts none of this crap will probably ever be heard by a jury and will not be admissible.  Certainly Team Zimmerman would like to put Trayvon’s character on trial as he is already dead and cannot defend himself.   Perhaps there is also the hope that painting Martin as wannabee thug, doper and gangsta will play to the worst fears of potential jurors.

Of course, anyone with the brain power of a house plant should ask, “What does this have to do with why Zimmerman shot Trayvon?  He didn’t know any of this.”  But the defense is going to muddy the waters as much as they can to get their client off.   If they have to trash Trayvon in the process, you’d better believe they’re gonna do it.

It doesn’t make it any less disgusting.   Mark O’ Mara wants to “niggerize” Trayvon Martin as a wannabee gangsta and future criminal.   That’s understandable since its his client who is a killer with a prior criminal record.    Writing in his legal blog, attorney Frederick Leatherman  denounced the  tactics of Zimmerman’s defense team saying,   “This is quite possibly the sleaziest tactic that I have ever seen. To intentionally poison a jury pool a couple of weeks before trial with false and misleading information about the victim of a homicide calculated to incite and unite White racists to approve of the execution of an unarmed Black teenager is astonishing.”

“These two lawyers are fortunate that I am not Judge Nelson because I would jail them for contempt of court and file complaints against the bar association requesting their disbarment from the practice of law.”

In a series of rulings that were described as favorable to the prosecution, Judge Debra Nelson denied the defense’s motions to admit Martin’s marijuana usage, disciplinary records from school,  possible interest in guns and fighting.   Robert Zimmerman called upon the prosecution to drop the second degree murder charge against his brother.    The defense asked for a delay in the trial which Judge Nelson also rejected.   Jury selection begins June 16.

What we’re witnessing now is simply the public relations spin and the preliminaries.   When the trial actually begins that’s when the circus will really start.

Zimmerman’s day in court is two weeks away.


Madea’s Big Dumb Publicity Stunt

madea benjamin

“Listen to me! I am a well-meaning idiot and have many important things to say and I must say them at the top of my lungs!”

Wherever the president goes the sideshow follows.   Vendors set up tables to hawk their t-shirts and buttons.  The press descends on the place hoping for a juicy quote, an off-guard mistake and even to cover what he says.  If it’s a public event, people make plans to come hear and see the president in hopes they might get close enough to snap a picture and maybe even shake his hand if he ventures near the crowd.

Other folks get excited too.  These are the professional protestors whose calling in life is appearing where politicians, CEO, celebrities and other famous people can be found so they can yell loudly, wave banners, and call undue attention to themselves.  President Obama has faced his share of heckling coming from this critics on the Right, but he gets it in the ear from what passes as the lunatic fringe of the Left too.  During his national security speech on Thursday, Obama came face-to-face with one Madea Benjamin,  a founder of the anti-war activist group Code Pink  interrupted the president several times before she was hustled out of the building.

Toward the end of Obama’s address, a woman identified in the White House pool report as Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the anti-war organization Code Pink, implored the president to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and otherwise criticized his foreign policy.

Through three separate episodes, the president traded words with the woman, asking her to let him finish and succeeding — at least momentarily — twice.

“Why don’t you sit down, and I will tell you exactly what I’m going to do,” Obama said, ending their first exchange. “Thank you, ma’am.”

But soon, Benjamin was back, apparently not happy with Obama’s comments about sending detainees to other countries, pleading with him to “release them today.” She was again quieted, and Obama even acknowledged her opinion was valid.

“Okay, Madea. I’m convinced. I’ll release the prisoners at Gitmo and lock your ass up instead.”

Tickled pink (Sorry. Couldn’t resist) Benjamin rushed to celebrate her little stunt plastering the web with a series of self-congratulatory stories, including “Medea Benjamin Calls President to Account”  By Medea Benjamin if there was any question who deserved the credit.

Like most zealots, Benjamin believes completely in the righteousness of her mission and is repulsively self-righteous in how obnoxious she is in shoving it in everyone’s face.

While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners’ throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude.

At one point during his speech, President Obama said that the deaths of innocent people from the drone attacks will haunt him as long as he lives. But he is still unwilling to acknowledge those deaths, apologize to the families, or compensate them. In Afghanistan, the US military has a policy of compensating the families of victims who they killed or wounded by mistake. It is not always done, and many families refuse to take the money, but at least it represents some accounting for taking the lives of innocent people. Why can’t the President set up a similar policy when drone strikes are used in countries with which we are not at war?

Benjamin makes some valid arguments, but can’t she find a way to make them without screeching like a cat with it’s nuts snagged on a fence?  Yelling at the president isn’t speaking truth to power.  It’s only publicly making an ass of yourself like getting drunk and urinating in public.

Madea’s Big Happy Protest Parties are all-purpose.   Here she is fighting for her right to dance at the Jefferson Memorial.  Why does anyone want to dance at the Jefferson Memorial?    Aren’t there all sorts of clubs, ballrooms, country bars and living rooms for that sort of thing?   Of course there is, but the right of the people to shuffle around  like zombies with tired feet shall not be abridged by a capitalist running dog lackey.

I grew up with Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders marching for their civil rights and catching hell.  I was around in 1968 when college students took to the streets to protest the Vietnam War and drive Tricky Dick Nixon insane.   I saw the Black Panthers strut  around in public with loaded rifles daring the cops to start something.   You think I’m impressed by some ditz in pink flitting around like the world’s oldest fairy princess acting like a diva because she can’t twitch like a spastic at a national monument?    Is this what passes for the Left in this country has been reduced to?    Protest cabaret?

Welcome to the full-time malcotent.  George Bush had Cindy Sheehan (and a guy who tossed a shoe at him) and Obama has Madea’s Big Dumb Publicity Stunt, but while  this isn’t a Tyler Perry production it is another bad comedy.   This woman is a dunce who is impossible to take seriously and her clown act only serves to lessen the chance her causes will be taken seriously either.

Protestin’ ain’t easy.  At least not the way dummies like Mad Madea do it.   She doesn’t just give activism a bad name.   She makes it a bad joke.   Madea may actually be sincere in her beliefs, but the way she chooses to express them to the world is by acting out like a spoiled brat thrashing around on the dirty floor of a Wal-Mart embarrassing themselves.

"But..but I don't WANT to go to Gitmo."

“But..but I don’t WANT to go to Gitmo.”

Star Trek: Into Dullness

“What do you mean you forgot to put a toilet in this cell?”

 Note:  There are no big, heavy SPOILERS in this post, but there may be some plot points mentioned that may reveal more than you might want to know if you haven’t seen Star Trek: Into Darkness, so go watch the movie and come back to read this after you have.

As a summer blockbuster full of sound and fury signifying nothing but an easy way to kill two hours in the dark, Star Trek: Into Darkness more than capably delivers the goods.

And purely on the basis as a summer blockbuster, I give  the movie a “B+.”   J.J. Abrams knows how to keep the camera moving, the special effects and set pieces are dazzling and there’s always something happening on the screen.  And there lies the problem.   It’s all too much flash and bang and not enough detail or character development.    It’s a darn good action movie.   It’s not a real good Star Trek movie.

As a Star Trek movie, with the exception of the overkill of fan service it fails spectacularly.  Utterly.  Completely.  This movie is all eye candy.  It has no brain and it certainly has no heart.     Abrams has said he wasn’t a fan of the show, but with a budget of nearly $200 million,  he needs all the Trekkies and Trekkers he can get to line up and buy a ticket multiple times and he certainly gives them a ton of  “Did you notice this and that?” moments.    Maybe way too many such moments.

I don’t share the love the critics and audiences have shown for Star Trek: Into Darkness and I wish I could.  I also wish I could go into detail why, but I can’t without giving away the story.   But I can say after a good beginning and middle,  the third act  sags and is flat with no dramatic tension after it is undermined by Abrams showing us way too early how the big shock will be resolved.   There is one particular line was delivered so badly even William Shatner would have said, “Now, that’s some bad acting.”

Abrams made some terrible decisions as a director and the first was don’t try to remake the strongest and most beloved entry in the Star Trek film canon.   You’re only going to draw comparisons you don’t really want to make and fall short of them on nearly every score and that’s what earns the movie an overall tepid “C” from me.

“Dammit, Captain, I’m a science officer, not a stripper.”

No spoilers here, but I literally slumped in my seat during the third act and thought to myself, “Are they really going to do this?”  And then they did it and it was even worse than I feared it would be.

I walked out of the theater feeling slightly numbed by the movie.  It’s undeniably exciting and I was never bored.   Though Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk still hasn’t moved beyond the rule-breaking brat of the first film, I did like Zachary Quinto’s Mr. Spock and Zoe Saldana’s Uhura and their strange relationship better in this second go-round.  Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy wasn’t given all that much to do while John Cho is a very good Sulu does a lot with his few scenes.   Simon Pegg’s feisty Scotty is given a lot more to do than worry about  the dilithium crystals and Bendict Cumberbatch makes a compelling villain even if Abrams and Damon Lindehof’s screenplay can’t decide whether he’s a good man turned bad or a bad man turned worse.

What seals the deal for me and drops Star Trek into just below a passing grade is how forgettable it is.   It’s been a week now and it’s largely faded from my memory as Into Darkness feels like it’s been sandwiched between two super hero spectacles, Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel.     This is a bad movie as much as it is an inconsequential one that feels like a generic action flick carrying the Star Trek name on it.

Superman has been a cultural icon for 80 years.   Iron Man was a second-string Marvel Comics character who turns 50 years old this year.  Star Trek began its five-year mission 47 years ago as a cancelled TV show that never rose about #52 in the ratings.   Yet as the baby of the bunch the movie seems to harken back to its past even as it tries to move away from its corny roots.     Too bad even though this installment entertains it doesn’t make a leap into hyperspace.

Into Darkness?  Into Dullness, is more like it.   This time the Enterprise is a empty vessel.

In space nobody can see you shower.

“No More” Say Critics of Obama’s Morehouse Speech

"Okay, enough encouragement.  Here comes the scolding."

“Okay, enough encouragement. Here comes the scolding.”

The president is invited to give the commencement speech to colleges all across the country.   As far as speakers go, President Obama and  First Lady Michelle Obama are considered major “gets.”

However, his speech last week at Morehouse College got on the nerves of some of his critics.

    “We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t.

Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

    “You now hail from a lineage and legacy of immeasurably strong men – men who bore tremendous burdens and still laid the stones for the path on which we now walk. You wear the mantle of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, Ralph Bunche and Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver and Ralph Abernathy, Thurgood Marshall and yes, Dr. King. These men were many things to many people. They knew full well the role that racism played in their lives. But when it came to their own accomplishments and sense of purpose, they had no time for excuses.”

    “I was raised by a heroic single mother and wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me. And I know there are moms and grandparents here today who did the same thing for all of you. But I still wish I had a father who was not only present, but involved. And so my whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me. I’ve tried to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.


“I’m going to scold the Black president for scolding Black people.”

    “It’s hard work that demands your constant attention, and frequent sacrifice. And Michelle will be the first to tell you that I’m not perfect. Even now, I’m still learning how to be the best husband and father I can be. Because success in everything else is unfulfilling if we fail at family. I know that when I’m on my deathbed someday, I won’t be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won’t be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received. I’ll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters. A lazy afternoon with my wife. Whether I did right by all of them.

    “Be a good role model and set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know someone who isn’t on point, go back and bring that brother along. The brothers who have been left behind – who haven’t had the same opportunities we have – they need to hear from us. We’ve got to be in the barbershops with them, at church with them, spending time and energy and presence helping pull them up, exposing them to new opportunities, and supporting their dreams. We have to teach them what it means to be a man – to serve your city like Maynard Jackson; to shape the culture like Spike Lee. Chester Davenport was one of the first people to integrate the University of Georgia law school. When he got there, no one would sit next to him in class. But Chester didn’t mind. Later on, he said, ‘It was the thing for me to do. Someone needed to be the first.’ Today, Chester is here celebrating his 50th reunion. If you’ve had role models, fathers, brothers like that – thank them today. If you haven’t, commit yourself to being that man for someone else.”

This was a pretty standard Obama riff: be responsible. Be a man.  Take care of your responsibilities.  Don’t blame others for your lot in life.  We’ve heard variations of this uplift-the-race speech from Obama since 2008.   This is not new.

What is news is how some Black commentators have had enough and don’t want to hear it anymore.  They want President Obama to talk to them the way he talks to predominantly White audiences.

Ta-Neshi Coates:  Taking the full measure of the Obama presidency thus far, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this White House has one way of addressing the social ills that afflict black people — and particularly black youth — and another way of addressing everyone else. I would have a hard time imagining the president telling the women of Barnard that “there’s no longer room for any excuses” — as though they were in the business of making them. Barack Obama is, indeed, the president of “all America,” but he also is singularly the scold of “black America.”

Courtland Milloy There is something vaguely contemptuous about the president’s style of criticism when addressing black audiences. Invariably, his rosy rhetoric comes with insensitive scolding — his mesmerizing visage leaving them oblivious to the blood he has drawn.

“Heh-heh. I have destroyed their youthful spirit.”

“The blood he has drawn?”  Come on, Courtland.  You can make your point without resorting to heavy-handed and silly exaggerations.   Coates has also written much better columns than this and he, as well as nearly every Black columnist I’ve ever read have all scolded Black Americans over one thing or another.    Sitting back and pointing out where others have come up short is practically what the job description for a columnist.

What the President said was not drastically different from what others from Bill Cosby to Minister Farrakhan have previously said. I, like many others here have “called out” my own people for our failings. Leadership is not always telling us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. Why should this be more of an irritant coming from Obama than anyone else?

And to my Super Soul Sister Tonyaa Weathersbee , who took the president to task on Facebook, I must take issue with your observation that “Obama’s speech on black male responsibility is wasted on an audience of Morehouse graduates who get it. They’ve already been responsible enough to pursue a degree, so why drive home what they already know?”

How do we KNOW the president is telling these grads “what they already know?” Who’s to say the social conscience of a Morehouse man is more highly attuned than the working class brutha holdin’ down a 9 to 5? You don’t have to accept W.E.B. DuBois “Talented Tenth” concept to know more than a few Blacks who graduate from institutions of higher learning, have no intentions of doing anything to uplift the race and are going to run as far and as fast from those who haven’t been as blessed as they are. Their top priority is finding a high-paying gig with a Fortune 500 company because baby needs a new pair of shoes and to pay off those student loans too!

If Obama’s tone to the grads at Morehouse is different from that of The Ohio State University, perhaps he realizes the odds differ for their success and the stakes are higher.  A graduate of OSU that blows it once they live school may have alternative paths to success.   A Morehouse man may only get one shot to make it and if they fall short, that failure reflects on not just them and their family, but the collective hopes of the Black community.

If the educates classes of Blacks don’t want to hear any more “tut-tut-tutting” from the President and the working class masses aren’t paying attention, who’s left?

Instead of saying, “I’m tired of hearing Obama telling me what I already know” a better way of looking at it is, “Is he saying anything that isn’t still a problem?” Maybe we should pull ourselves away from Kerry Washington’s imaginary love affair with the fictional White Republican Chief Executive long enough to look at the unresolved real world issues the Black Democratic one is bringing to our seemingly unwanted attention.

Those bitching about the president’s speech are probably the same ones who bitch about how Obama ignores the concerns of Blacks.   Now when he mentions them  and suggests its up to Black grads to address some of the outstanding issues that have plagued the race for decades,  if not centuries, he’s lecturing Black audiences in a way he doesn’t do White audiences.   Well, duh.   Black folks don’t have the same problems as White, gay, Latino and female audiences do.

Don’t kill the messenger because you don’t dig the message.   If we truly want Obama to be the Black president, don’t complain when he speaks to problems peculiar to Black people.    It’s unfortunate Obama’s speech fell on so many deaf ears among the Black illuminati.  Instead of telling the president he has no business talking about the problems Black folks have, they should be writing columns proposing solutions to them.

Next year when Obama doesn’t speak at any Black colleges and says, “Who needs that drama,”  he’ll catch hell for only speaking to White graduates.   You can see this train coming long before it gets here.

I went to college for four years and all I got was rained on and a lecture from the President.

Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Hate ALL Democrats. Just the Real Ones.

"I'd like Obama more if he were more like my fantasy presidents."

“I’d like Obama more if he were more like my fantasy presidents.”

Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist whose rep is based upon her sharp-edged nasty snark than deep political insights sniped at President Obama over the Senate’s failure to pass any meaningful gun legislation, “Unfortunately, he still has not learned how to govern,”  Dowd wrote with each word dripping in acidic scorn,  “How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him. ”

Dowd, who has never held any elected office besides runner-up to the homecoming queen helpfully suggested Obama should look to Hollywood for pointers on what to do,  “The White House should have created a war room full of charts with the names of pols they had to capture, like they had in “The American President.”

The rank stupidity of Dowd’s brain-dead advice was not lost on Obama when he said during the White House Correspondents Dinner, “Everybody has got plenty of advice,” the president said with his own Snark Gun loaded and cocked, “Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in ‘The American President.’ And I know Michael is here tonight. Michael, what’s your secret, man? Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? Might that have something to do with it?”

Instead of the I.R.S. investigating the Tea Party,  someone ought to investigate why the Times continues to give Dowd space to spew  nonsense.

“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress,” the president said. “‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?”

“I just have to be snarky. I don’t have to make sense.”

That was a laugh line for the president, but the next one was him speaking from the heart.   “I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”

Obama has hosted Republican Senators for dinner.  He invited Paul Ryan to sit down for lunch.  He’s played golf with other Republicans.   As far as outreach goes, the president has tried everything but a pajama party sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom.

This is the kind of “bipartisan” reaching out b.s. that make the collective nipples of the Washington press corps hard and erect.   In the wake of the I.R.S. investigations, the continued Benghazi story and the Justice Department’s surveillance of the Associated Press, last week was Christmas in May for the professional Obama bashers in the GOP and right-wing noise machine.  What made things a bit more unusual was how the supposed Obama worship ping “liberal” media piled on as well.

The nature of the professional press is they are at your feet one day and at your throat the next.   The easy (and lazy) way to lay the blame for the failure of Congress to get anything done even when a clear majority of Americans want it, is to go Dowd’s way and lay it all on the wimp in the White House.   That allows the Republicans to claim their hands are clean and that is exactly the cover idiots like Mo Dowd provide them.

Dowd’s specialty is supposed to be politics, but she doesn’t seem to know how to count votes, how deals are cut to win votes, and how hard it is to “punish” lawmakers who don’t do the president’s bidding when they’re more afraid of special interest groups, possible primary challengers and irate voters back home than the man in the Oval Office.

Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home. It’s about background checks, nothing to do with access to guns. Heidi, you’re a mother. Think of those little kids dying in schoolrooms.”

This is how bubblehead liberals like Dowd breathing the rarefied air in their ivory towers believe the world should work.  Come on Obama, you gutless wonder!  Be like President Josiah Bartlett and impose your will, reward your friends and punish your enemies.    Guilt trip a balky Democrat if you can and ridicule them if you must.  It’s easy.  Just call President Bartlett and ask him!

“I got 99 problems, but being Charlie Sheen’s dad ain’t one of them.”

And then what?  What if Sen. Heitkamp says, “I’m sorry, Mr. President.  My constituents don’t want this bill and I don’t either.”  What can Obama do then?  Call Harry Reid and tell him to make sure Heitkamp only gets the crappiest of committee assignments?  Obama was in the Senate with Reid before he moved from the Capitol to the White House.  He knows Reid has no clout juice and they don’t fear Obama, they laugh right in Reid’s face.

The truth why President Obama can’t seem to get anything through Congress the answer is simple  The strategy of Congressional Republicans is to give him NOTHING.  If Obama is for it, they are against it.  Even if it is something Republicans normally favor.    This has always been known.   Now even some Republicans are ‘fessing up to the strategy, but that doesn’t shake the conviction of the skeptics who say if only Obama twisted arms a little harder and thumped that bully pulpit a little more.

There are far too many fools like Mo Dowd who think the President can do what he wants simply because he IS the President.    They blame Obama because it is easier than to blame a few hundred Republican obstructionists in Washington whose policy position is if Obama is for it, they are against it.   This is by design, not accident.   I’m reading Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein‘s It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism and I’d be doing Dowd the biggest favor of her life if I passed it on to her to once I’m done.   There are lots of answers for her between the book’s covers.

Ornstein, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, ” It’s time to acknowledge how far the Republican Party has veered towards tolerating extreme ideological beliefs and policies, and how the GOP has embraced cynical and destructive means to advance political ends over problem-solving.”

While Dowd would have us all believe if Obama would only grow a pair he could knock some sense into the GOP.   Ornstein and Mann know that’s too simple by half and despite the eagerness of the press to slice the pie into even slices of who’s to blame for the political gridlock, they aren’t reluctant to point to the Republicans as deserving the lion’s share.   “…However awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.”

Derailing Hillary Clinton 2016 is the real target of the Benghazi “scandal.”  If it hurts Obama too, that’s just gravy to the wing nuts.   According to her polling numbers, Clinton has become more popular, not less.  The Republicans and Fox News haven’t laid a glove on her.

The Republican Strategy explained by a Republican.

The Republican Strategy explained by a Republican.

Dowd is impervious to reason, logic, history or fact.  She preens from her perch as the Grey Lady’s Red-Haired Harpy lacking the gravitas of Paul Krugman, the intelligence of Thomas Friedman, the compassion of Nicholas Kristof or the social conscience of Charles Blow.

But she’s still got Obama to kick around for another three years.  Unless her Republican friends successfully impeach him first.  She’d probably like that.

I WENT to New York last week to cover the TV presentations for the new season, shows like “Scandal,” “Shark Tank” and a faltering “American Idol.”

 I may as well have stayed here.

You know that the faltering American idol in the White House must be reeling in this scandalous spring. No Drama Obama is immersed in drama so over the top it could have been scripted by Shonda Rhimes and Karl Rove.

Who knows? If Washington keeps imploding, Hillary may run in 2016 on restoring honor to the White House.

If the system is broken it helps to know who broke it.

If the system is broken it helps to know who broke it.

You know Dowd is sippin’ that purple drank when an relentless Hillary-hater is looking wistfully to her for relief.   Could that be why she forget how much she despises Hillary as she spitefully made clear in 2008.

 As a possible first Madame President, Hillary is a flawed science experiment because you can’t take Bill out of the equation. Her story is wrapped up in her marriage, and her marriage is wrapped up in a series of unappetizing compromises, arrangements and dependencies.

Instead of carving out a separate identity for herself, she has become more entwined with Bill. She is running bolstered by his record and his muscle. She touts her experience as first lady, even though her judgment during those years on issue after issue was poor. She says she’s learned from her mistakes, but that’s not a compelling pitch…If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.

What is Dowd anyway?   A smug, smart-ass who is passed off as some sort of “liberal” but comes off more like the Times version of a self-hating one like Fox’s Kirsten Powers or a TV critic?   Why should anyone take seriously a political columnist who doesn’t seem to know how politics works?
If you believe the op-ed page even the Times doesn’t believe Dowd parroting the G.O.P.’s talking points about “scandals.”

The American public, Greg Sargent pointed out this morning, does not find a presidential scandal in either the Benghazi talking points or the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of right-wing groups seeking a tax-exempt and disclosure-free status.

In a C.N.N. poll released over the weekend, 61 percent of Americans say President Obama’s comments about the I.R.S. investigation were mostly or completely true, and 55 percent say the I.R.S. acted on its own. On Benghazi, 50 percent believe that early statements about the attack reflect what the administration believed at the time, compared with 44 percent – 76 percent of them Republicans – who say officials intentionally misled the public.

The blind hatred of the Republicans for this president will gradually lead them to overplay their hand.   For now Obama will have to take incoming fire from the front from Republican Klingons trying to depose him as well as backstabbing “liberals” and the eighth biggest hack in journalism who have the  long knives out after Obama the same way they were for  Bill and Hillary, Al Gore, John Kerry and every other Democrat who doesn’t measure up to Joe Bartlett.

Because in Dowd’s wacky world, the only good Democrats  are Democrat who aren’t real.

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The Stones at 50: Exiles On Viagra Street

There’s more creases and wrinkles on these mugs than a unmade bed.

Get out the Epson salts and rocking chairs!  The Rolling Stones are about to head out for a series of concerts for their “50 and Counting” World Tour (which certainly sounds better than the “We’re Not Dead Yet” and “We’re Back For More of Your Money” tour).

The group that once was the World’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band will yet again trot out a set list of some of their best with a few new tunes nobody cares about or wants to hear (The Stones’ last studio album, A Bigger Bang came out eight years ago).   I guess you’d call this a celebration of sorts to see Mick Jagger prance around yet again, Keith Richards and Ron Wood swap guitar leads and cigarette smoke and Charlie Watts pounding his small, but mighty drum kit.

Are we celebrating the fact the longevity of the Stones or that these old bastards can still put on a show for two hours without passing out or soiling themselves?  “Brown Sugar…how cum you taste so good?  Just like a black girl should…aw, I done a Number Two in me Depends.”

They still put on an EXPENSIVE show, that’s for sure.   When the minimum to see the Stones is $150 for the nosebleed seats and they top out at $2000 (notice I did not say they were for the best seats), you are officially engaged in price-gouging.   Even other musicians recognize that as Kid Rock said, “We’re all over-paid. It’s ridiculous. People stopped going to concerts because they can’t afford them! The Rolling Stones are charging $600. That just makes me speechless. I love the Stones, but I won’t be attending.”

Me neither.  Even if I could, I can’t justify a mortgage payment to see a bunch of old farts cranking their catalog of hits onstage.  I can go home, pop in a CD, turn down the bass, turn up the treble and accomplish the same thing.  Besides the Stones have released nearly a dozen live albums, so what’s the point?

Sucking in their Seventies.

Rock n’ roll is a young man’s game and when you’re pushing 70 (and 70 is pushing back hard) and your age passes your belt size, it ain’t a good look.   Mick and Keith are 69.  Charlie turns 71 next month and Woody is the baby at 65 and you mean to tell me they STILL can’t find no “Satisfaction.”  Man, if you ain’t got it by now you ain’t never gonna get it and even if you do what will you do with it when you get it?

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship hung it up precisely because she said she hated to see old people on stage.  She told Vanity Fair, “I left rock and roll professionally at about 49. That’s too long as far as I’m concerned. Some people can do it; it depends on what you were. If you were pretty and young and wore short skirts and were busy trying to be sexy and all that shit at 25, it worked. If you’re 50, it doesn’t work quite as well. ”

Jazz and blues are the only genres of music you can do well into your sunset years and nobody thinks you look ridiculous doing it.   Slick nailed it when she declared,  “I don’t want to see old people doing rap or rock and roll. It makes me cringe.”

I saw the Stones back in ‘76 at Cleveland Stadium.  The old Cleveland Stadium.  They tore it down and built another one.  Mick and Keith were older than me 37 years ago and if I’m too damned old to be sitting on a football field to see a show, they’re too old to be up on stage strutting around like two elderly roosters.

These Rolling Stones don’t roll all that much anymore.  Rolling gall stones is more like it.  The World’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band  circa 2013 is simply the World Greatest Rolling Stones Tribute Band.

Your pretty faces have gotten pretty old.

For the Love of Dirty Laundry

Even when the room is full it’s empty.

This was not prompted by any event specific event being bandied about on the television, on the radio or online.   Think of this as a primal scream from a particularly dark night of the soul.   No single event set me off.  It’s more of a cumulative effect of overexposure to too much raw bullshit being passed off as “news.”

I’ve come to a realization.   It isn’t original or even profound.  It just took me a while to recognize it even when I was having my nose rubbed in it.

The Washington press are lapdogs to power and privilege, starved for the newest “scandal,” live on the table scraps from their favorite insiders like John McCain and Newt Gingrich and do a lousy job of investigative journalism, interviewing and simple reporting.

As time goes by, I have less and less regard for the incestuous insider relationship between Washington-based “journalists” and the political power hub they slavishly bend the knee to.

If a Washington-based talking head tells you it’s freezing outside and there’s a snowstorm coming, open all your windows, put on a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses and plan for a picnic at the beach. They lie, they deceive and they mislead.

What attracted me to journalism in the first place was I believed in how it was the unofficial Fourth Estate that served as part overseeing the Presidency, Judiciary and Legislative branches.

The press loves to quote Thomas Jefferson’s “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter” because it make them feel good about themselves.  What the press prefers to forget is Joseph Pulitzer’s admonishment that “A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.”

If we’re not there yet, we’re well on the way to getting there, folks.

As just another cash-feeder to their corporate owners (CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the three network news programs, I’m looking at you) the first thing to go in these sleek, but stripped down to little more than fancy studio sets and movie special effects is foreign bureaus because who cares about what’s going on in Asia or Africa?  The next is anything that smacks of investigative reporting and documentaries.   The last and most obvious is even the thinnest pretext of objectivity.

We’re not mad as hell, but they’re trying to drive us mad as hell.

Coming from someone as opinionated as I am and as distrustful of the protestations from the press of their “impartiality” that might sound funny, but there’s nothing amusing about it.  As a calling I don’t know anyone still with a job feeling real comfortable about it.   As a craft, journalism is killing itself with its own unprofessionalism and sloppiness.  Reference CNN’s absolutely abysmal coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing where mistake after mistake after mistake was made for the evidence of  this.    I’ve had it up to here with the whole “get it first now and we’ll get it right later” mindset.

When the most sensible “journalist” is Jon Stewart that is a sure sign how lousy the profession of journalism is because  typically I cannot stand Jon Stewart.

At this time, I’m struggling not to give in to the prevailing sentiment that what we laughingly call “the mainstream media” is only concerned about superficiality, scandal, sex, sleaze, celebrity and mindless amusement of the masses while the critical, complicated and difficult decisions and issues go ignored and unreported.  And I’m losing that struggle.

I’ve never been more unhappy about the state of journalism or more depressed to be a journalist.   I hate to think that Sarah Palin was right.  About anything.   But she wasn’t all wrong when she dubbed the press “the lamestream media.”

We call it news, but only because that’s better than calling it what it has become; infotainment on a level that Network could only hint at.  Once upon a time  Paddy Chayefsky‘s Network was hailed as dark satire.   Now it’s  Monday night programming on cable news.

Not a real journalist but more respected than those who are.

I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em all around

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam
in her eye
It’s interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom got a
running bet
Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry

You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re stiff
Kick ’em all around

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do “The Innuendo”
We can dance and sing
When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
We all know that Crap is King
Give us dirty laundry!

~ “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley & Danny Kortchmar