Cliven Bundy Has A Negro Problem

American Idiot.

I admit it wasn’t until the last 48 hours that I paid any attention to the strange saga of Nevada cattle rancher, anti-government zealot, and Fox News folk hero Cliven Bundy and his battle with the Bureau of Land Management over the $1 million he owes the federal government and us in his refusal to pay grazing fees.

Nothing new about White men who don’t believe they have to pay for what’s not theirs and should be able to do what they please. Nothing new about anti-government zealots who speak plainly and find they quickly can be transformed from strange cranks to a just cause for militia groups and talk radio listeners.

Nothing new about someone like Bundy who invokes sympathy one day and scorn the next when he opens his mouth and the ignorance comes flying out. Enjoy his time in the spotlight due to the stand-off with the government, Bundy has taken to holding daily press conferences where he can share his wisdom on many topics.

For example, America’s Negro Problem.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said recalling driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

That sound you hear is the collective “D’OH!” coming from every floor of the Fox News Channel headquarters. And it just keeps getting worse.  Or better depending on your politics.

Free room and board, full employment, and happy slaves. Yep. Those were the days.

Because.
Bundy.
Just.
Won’t.
Shut.
Up.

“I’m wondering if they’re better off under a government subsidy and their young women are having the abortions and their young men are in jail and their older women and children are sitting out on the cement porch without nothing to do.

I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were when they were slaves and they was able to their family structure together and the chickens and the garden and the people have something to do?

So in my mind, are they better off being slaves in that sense or better off being slaves to the United States government in the sense of the subsidy? I’m wondering. The statement was right. I am wondering.”

Al Bundy

“Please don’t be related to me!”

I’m wondering too. Wondering how fast Sean Hannity, Rand Paul and the rest of the “we’re not racist, we just hang out with racists” right-wing pack will scurry away like scalded dogs from the latest stupidity to spill from this shitkicker’s pie hole?

For the losers, extremists and anti-government nihilists who side with a racist nut like Bundy they are receiving a harsh reminder of the danger of wrapping your arms around an extremist.  Now because Bundy is a raving racist asshole doesn’t mean those defending him are raving racist assholes themselves.   However, it does indicate their comfort level with raving racists assholes. As my friend Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman tweeted, “Lie down with Bundy-sized dogs and get up with Bundy-sized fleas.”

Like a crash between a bus and a train the sight and sound of an ignorant man with no sense of how ignorant he really is and no inner filter to couch his bigotry in more mainstream language, Bundy is a horrible to behold, but fascinating in how blissfully he plows on without a care in the world.   Bundy has probably always referred to Blacks as “Negroes” in public and likely far worse in private.

For him, this is probably as politically correct as it gets.

“Hey , here comes Mr. Bundy. Everybody look busy!”

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Chris Standring Takes Jazz Back to the Dance Floor

chris_standring2

If jazz is to avoid being relegated to the pit of obsolescence where VCR’s, pet rocks and NBC’s fall lineup for the last five years has been consigned to it won’t be enough to simply continue catering to the true believers and faithful die-hards that currently maintains the genre. Jazz will have to go places it hasn’t been before and go after potential listeners who think of it as the music their grandparents listened to.

One of those places are clubs where people gather not to be hipsters draining their glasses of wine and proclaiming how the masses didn’t “get” Coltrane and Mingus the way they do, but to sweat, to move and to groove to music that makes them not simply nod along approvingly, but actually get up on the floor and bust a move. Too many musicians have grown afraid of changing up their groove they forget a groove can quickly turn into a rut.

Don’t Talk, Dance! is Chris Standring‘s latest left turn since he decided to change course from standard smooth jazz to deeper explorations into extended improvisation, string quartets, classical, now deep danceable grooves that incorporates his varied musical tastes including electronica, drum and bass, trip-hop and funky beats and make no mistake, Standring isn’t half-steppin’ on his commitment to aggressive infuse dance beats into his jazz guitar playing. That same “all or nothing at all” approach he brought to Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe, 2010) and Electric Wonderland (Ultimate Vibe, 2012) blends seamlessly into the propulsive Don’t Talk, Dance!

Standring is more than ably assisted by his regular bandmates, keyboardist Rodney Lee, bassist Andre Berry and drummer Dave Karsony and while live drums are becoming an endangered species in music today, along with Karsony, no less than six more drummers are called to duty here. The four-piece string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) Standring applied to good purpose on his last two recordings return on five tracks as does a horn section on “Inside Outside” and “Another Fine Mess.”

It’s hard to choose the stand-out track here as Chris’ Excellent Adventure takes both him and the listener through an adventurous exploration of various styles including Euro-styled drum/bass chill, ambient trance, electronic dance music and dubstep. The funkiness of the opener, “Sky High” gives Lee a showcase for his skills on the Fender Rhodes and organ while the shimmering shuffle of “Inside Outside” is an irresistible groove monster. Joey Heredia’s drums on “Voices In My Head” will compel heads to bob and toes to tap. The aptly named “Crazy Bom Baizy” is where Standring pulls out all the stops and goes solo playing all the instruments on a tripped out workout that never stops jamming as if Sun Ra returned from outer space with a weird remix of dubstep and electronica. The party slows down for a mid-tempo tune, “Ride” where Lauren Christy contributes a sly, soulful vocal where she questions a potential suitor if he’s old enough to go where she might take him.

In a time where many musicians are content to recycle the same patented riffs time and again with different titles, it’s rewarding to hear one who keeps exceeding expectations as Standring does here. Don’t be surprised when Don’t Talk, Dance! ends up appearing high on numerous 2014 “Best of” lists.

Checking the smooth jazz charts Don’t Talk, Dance! is either occupying the number one spot or right behind whatever is.   Chris is a genuinely nice guy and I’m happy to see smooth jazz radio and fans finally giving this guy his due.

Track Listing: Sky High; Inside Outside; Sneakin’ Out the Front Door; Voices In My Head; Soul Symphony; Another Fine Mess; Crazy Bom Baizy; Ride; Absolute Madness; Yesterday’s Heaven; Imagine That; Scatterfunk; Nothing Lasts Forever

Personnel: Chris Standring: guitars, keyboards, programming, vocals, talkbox; Rodney Lee: Fender Rhodes, organ (1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12); Andre Berry: bass (1-6, 8, 9, 12); Dave Salinas: drums (1); Janelle Sadler: vocals (1, 3, 5); Nikki Garcia: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Barbra Porter: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Tom Tally: viola (1, 5, 12, 13); Cameron Stone: cello (1, 5, 12, 13) ; Guy Richman: drums (2); Doug Webb: tenor sax (2, 6) ; Chris Tedesco: trumpet (2, 6) ; Steve Sidwell: trumpet (2, 6); Nick Lane: trombone (2, 6); Sergio Gonzales: drums (3, 8); Joey Heredia: drums (4); David Karsony: drums (5, 6, 12); Lauren Christy: vocals (8); Neil Steubenhaus: bass (10); Eric Valentine: drums (10, 11); Chris Blondal: drums (13)

Record Label: Ultimate Vibe

Style: Contemporary/Smooth

This review originally published at All About Jazz.

chris_standring

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The Republicans Hate Slavery But Sure Love Talking About Slavery

“If I’m so stupid how come I’m richer than you schmucks?”

What in the hell is up with Republicans and their obsession for making these utterly inept and inane comparisons between slavery and anything else? Is this some new fetish with you guys or what?

Sarah “Pay Me!” Palin: Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China,” she said at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s fall fundraiser at the State Fairgrounds Saturday night. “When that money comes due—and this isn’t racist, but it’ll be like slavery when that note is due. We are going to beholden to the foreign master.”

“Woo hoo! There’s nekked wimmen on the Internets!”

Rand “This Really Is My Hair” Paul: “With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to healthcare, you have to realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me,” Paul said recently in a Senate subcommittee hearing.

“It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.”

There’s a joke here, but Allen West’s parents made it a long time ago.


One-and-Done Loser Congressman
Allen West: “He [Obama] does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning, and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.”

Gifted hands. Brain dead mind.


Sean Hannity bestie Dr. Ben Carson:
“You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson, who is African American, said Friday in remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. “And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

“You been hymotized!”

Repeat Offender Michelle “Batshit-Crazy” Bachmann: Health Reform: In a 2009 speech in Colorado, Bachmann railed against healthcare reform. “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass.” Claiming that many Americans already pay half their income to taxes, she said, “This is slavery…It’s nothing more than slavery.

National Debt: In January, Bachmann offered her now infamous take on American colonial history in which she declared that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Bachmann then framed her speech as an argument against the “slavery” of the national debt. “It is a slavery, it is a slavery that is a bondage to debt and a bondage to decline,” she said. “It is a subservience of a sovereign people to a failed, self-selected elite.”

In 2011, Batshit Bachmann and Rick “Foamy” Santorum were the two GOP presidential contenders to sign a pledge against same-sex marriage which included a passage that stated Black families were better off under slavery.

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA‘s first African-American President.”

That’s okay, Rick. Nobody is taking you seriously.

Governor Goodhair Rick Perry: “I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of … not spending all of our money, not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks, because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. And we become slaves to government.”

Extra Super Fun Fact: Perry’s family hunting camp was known as “Niggerhead” ranch.

Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler: A Nevada assemblyman said he would vote in favor of legislation allowing for slavery if it was something his constituents wanted him to do.

Jim Wheeler, a Republican from Gardnerville, was talking to a crowd of Storey County Republicans in August he when said “yeah I would” vote for slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted.

If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that’s what the citizens of the, if that’s what the constituency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for,” he said. “That’s what a republic is about. You elected a person for your district to do your wants and wishes, not the wants and wishes of a special interest, not his own wants and wishes, yours.”

Debated Sarah Palin. Was only the second dumbest person on the stage.

Fair and Balanced equal time inclusion from Joe “I Say Whatever Crazy Think I Think” Biden: Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden said a rally in Danville, Va. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

Chattel slavery was an absolute evil and as practiced in the United States it became a monstrous abomination. All these cheap politicians and cheaper talking heads are not only engaging in racially insensitive and tone-deaf metaphors with their banal slavery comparisons, they are exhibiting lazy thinking to the extent they think at all.

Republicans in particular should know better. One of their own, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, an accomplishment his fellow Grand Old Party comrades point to with chest-puffing pride when they come in from criticism for their racial views.

It’s doubtful Abe would be down for the casual way Republicans throw the word “slavery” around today. After all, he is the guy who said, “Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

Me too, and it’s a little early, but how about a remake of 12 Years A Slave starring Palin, Perry, Bachmann, Paul, Carson, West and Wheeler? As the slaves.

Abraham Lincoln: Republican Slayer

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Hank Aaron: Still Hammerin’

40 years later, Hank is still hammering home the truth.

 

“We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

~ Hank Aaron

There must be a whistle going off somewhere only conservatives and Republicans can hear that reveals Aaron really was saying, “President Obama is left with his foot in the stuck in the mud from all of the [racist] Republicans [everywhere, but especially in Congress] with the [racist] way he’s treated.”

That has to be the only answer, because there was NOTHING in Aaron’s remarks that put all the Republicans in America in general or in Congress on blast as being racists which is a term Aaron never used.

It would seem crying wolf about racism is not a malady confined only to The Left.  I guess all those right-wingers losing their shit missed the part where Aaron said, “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements,” huh?

Another baseball legend, Frank Robinsonspoke to USA Today in defense of Aaron.

It is 2014, we have twice elected a black president, and Jackie Robinson is an American icon, celebrated annually on April 15. And yet: Hank Aaron is receiving hate mail, which reminds us that black people are still held to a different standard, when it comes to expressing strong opinions on race.

American Hero. Then and now.

“Hank Aaron is a black man,” Frank Robinson told me on Tuesday, after helping to light the Empire State Building in Dodger blue to honor the 67th anniversary of another Robinson’s debut. “He only spoke his mind. I have seen and heard other people in this country say worse things, and they don’t get hate mail. It shows you we still have a ways to go.”

Robinson — a Hall of Fame player, the first African-American manager and MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Development — did not list those “worse things,” but here are a few: Tea Party rallies where people hoist signs showing a Hitler mustache on President Obama, activists sending around emails portraying the president as a monkey, Braves fans calling Aaron the N-word, repeating what the home run king endured 40 years ago.

On Tuesday, USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale, who wrote the original piece, clarified that Aaron did not directly compare Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan. “Never in our 50-minute conversation did Aaron suggest anyone critical of President Obama is racist,” Nightengale wrote. “Never did he compare the Republican Party to the Ku Klux Klan. . . . Simply, Aaron stated that we are fooling ourselves if we don’t believe racism exists in our country.”

Whether or not Aaron meant to invoke the KKK, the ensuing hate mail is a larger story. The Braves received hundreds of calls, emails and letters eviscerating Aaron, according to USA Today. “Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur),” read one of the notes.

I asked Robinson the obvious follow-up to his initial comment: Are we still in a place in our society where a black person makes controversial comments, and is more vulnerable to vicious criticism than a white person?

“I think so,” he said. “We have made great progress, but we still have a different standard. And it’s too bad. But we keep fighting, and we keep going forward, and taking the cause forward.”

I’m not even a fan of baseball. Don’t like the game and don’t watch it, but I know what men like Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson have done for both their sport and to make this country a less blind, less backward and less racist place than it has been.   The fact that Aaron’s wisdom prompts such knee-jerk reactions and bigoted invective is proof of how blind, backward and racist America remains.

There is nothing anyone can say that in way diminishes Aaron’s standing as the man who broke Babe Ruth‘s home run record and was reviled, vilified and had life threatened by bigots every step of the way who could not their tiny little minds around the idea that a “nigger” could surpass the legendary Bambino.

It is laughable that someone tapping on their tablet or laptop can even slightly tarnish the luster of Aaron’s accomplishments. This is a man who took the worst the most hostile racists could throw at him and emerged triumphant and his pride intact.   This is a country that still bitterly resents whenever a Black man speaks the truth about race instead of what they think is the truth.

Aaron was asked why for 40 years he has kept all the hate mail he receives.

“To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

Can a brother get a “boom shakalaka” from the choir?

The mouth-foaming frenzy of Aaron’s conservative critics proves him to be a prophet. He’s still hammering home the truth.

Speak softly and beat some sense into a bigot’s skull with some wood.

 

Aldon Smith: Troubled Man

Smith is a young man blessed with considerable athletic ability and not a bit of good sense.

I don’t really want to talk about football in April though it was cold enough yesterday to play football. I don’t want to, but as a San Francisco 49ers fan it’s hard not to talk about football in April even though the team stopped playing in January. It’s what they’ve been doing off the field since then that has made for the worst off-season I can ever recall for the Niners.

Since the Seattle Seahawks sent the Niners in the NFC Championship for the right to slap the crap out of the hapless Denver Broncos, the 49ers have been headlines news in sports pages from California to Columbus and for all the wrong reasons.   The head coach was supposedly leaving to take over the Cleveland Browns.   Then the coach was staying to continue working with a general manager he barely spoke to.  Then the starting center was busted for drunk driving.  Then, Chris Culliver,  a cornerback who made an ass of himself during last year’s Super Bowl by making homophobic comments followed that up by getting injured and missing all of the 2013 season.   He started this year by getting involved in a hit-and-run and faces criminal charges.  Then Colin Kapernick, who was hoping for a reworked contract, was named in an investigation about a woman who says she was drugged and left naked in a hotel room and woke up to find herself in a hospital.   No charges have yet been filed against Kapernick and wide receiver Quiton Patton.

Then Aldon Smith, a dominant force on Sundays and a train wreck every other day tested the sense of humor of TSA agents at Los Angeles Airport when he claimed he had a bomb.   He didn’t, but those humorless TSA agents arrested him anyway as the 49ers Off-season from Hell continues.

Once is an Accident, Twice is a Coincidence, Three Times is a Pattern. Then there’s All-Pro linebacker’s Aldon Smith‘s crime spree where screwing up three times isn’t a pattern. It’s Friday.

The 49ers have to decide by May 3 whether to pick up the option year of Smith’s contract to avoid him walking away as a free agent in 2015. Or being driven away to prison. Smith would see his pay raised from $3 million to cashing checks worth $9.75 million if the team chooses to take the plunge. They shouldn’t. Smith is too volatile, too erratic, too undependable and too prone to trouble.

Check the record.

Four arrests including two for drunk driving. Gun possession charges including an assault weapon, bomb threats. These are not the acts of someone who is simply high-spirited.

“Man, thinkin’ is hard!”

Smith isn’t the most troubled player the 49ers have ever had. Besides Haley, there was Lawrence Phillips and of course, O.J. Simpson, though he hadn’t killed anybody when he was wearing the crimson and gold. At least nobody we know of.

The old NFL cliché about injuries is, “You can’t make plays from the locker room.” You can’t make plays from the courtroom either and that’s where Smith will be spending a lot of  time.   The legendary Bill Walsh was one of the least sentimental coaches in football history. Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, and Jerry Rice were all-stars for the 49ers and Walsh and his successor, George Seifert sent every one of them out-of-town. Walsh’s philosophy was cold, but pragmatic: “Better to get rid of ’em a year too soon than a year too late.”

Aldon Smith is an unquestionable talent and losing him would hurt the 49ers in the short run, but he is replaceable. Every player in the NFL is.

The Niners have been here before with a player who had All-Pro talent and an all-time head case. That was Charles Haley, another superfreaky talented pass rusher who was a terror on the field and just terrible off it.

He simply wore out his welcome in San Francisco with several well-publicized outbursts even though he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1991.

In one notable episode, he got so upset after a 1991 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders that the 49ers called on his former teammate, Ronnie Lott, to come out of the Raiders locker room to calm him down.

Coach George Seifert of the 49ers has said that Haley’s departure “helped team chemistry.”

Hall of Famer Bill Walsh never coached Aldon Smith, but it’s hard to think he would have for very long.

“You never knew when he was going to go off,” 49ers running back Dexter Carter said. “Other guys would kid around and tease, but Charles was different. He was meaner. I didn’t like the guy, and I told him that to his face. And believe me, I’m not alone.”

Haley later learned he was bipolar. Maybe Smith should give him a call and chat?

I’ve heard on sports radio Smith needs help, not condemnation. If Indianapolis Colts Robert Irsay has alcohol issues, it’s already known Smith does after he voluntarily checking into a rehab center with 49ers owner Jeb York standing by his side in the locker room and the approval of Goodell. Neither man will be as accommodating to the troubled linebacker from here on out.

We’ve passed the point of diminishing returns on this dude. The 49ers have become the new Raiders of the NFL with all the criminality and stupidity and Smith is Public Enemy #1. Even if he somehow holds on to his place on this team (and by now it should be by the thinnest of threads), how long is the suspension going to be coming from Roger Goodell‘s office? The commissioner was probably already ticked off by the poor box office performance of Draft Day and when he heard what spectacularly stupid thing Smith had done this time he had to thinking, “Ge’ez, not THIS guy again?”

Giving Smith four games off without pay would be a gift, but Goodell could double the punishment and it still might not get through to Smith how tenuous his future employment in the NFL is. Maybe half or all of a season without football would get through to him. But nothing has before so why should believe it will now?

I hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a Seattle Seahawk uniform terrorizing the 49ers two or more times a season, but I’m beginning to hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a 49ers uniform at all.

Aldon_Smith

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A Real American Horror Story

is this the face of a criminal? Or a victim?

A woman should not leave two children in a truck in the sun with the window partly open and the keys left in the ignition. Not even if she’s homeless, has no one to watch her kids and chooses to take an awful risk so that she can make the job interview that just might be her path out of poverty and desperate decisions.

When you’re faced with nothing but bad or terrible choices who wouldn’t try to choose the least awful option? Shanesha Taylor shouldn’t have done it, but she did it and all it got her was a week behind bars, her children taken from her and the scorn of every morally superior idiot who never committed a sin and is armed and ready with a pocketful of rocks.

So much cynicism. So little heavy lifting to prove this story isn’t every bit as tragic a damning indictment of both bad personal decisions and an American society that doesn’t give two slimy shits about poor people as long as they stay out of sight and die quietly in their hovels.

Is anyone really giving Shanesha Taylor a pass for the bad decision to leave two infants in a locked car? No, but nobody has nominated Taylor as Mother of the Year material either.   There are plenty of creepy politicians like Paul Ryan happy to exploit the most helpless while accepting back-slapping praise for guns, not butter budgets.

Contemporary conservatives like Ryan  backhand away any concern for someone like Taylor. His ilk are determined to punish people like Taylor for her sins. The sin of being a poor Black woman with children who probably doesn’t vote the right way.

Shanesha Taylor without tears.

I understand Ryan’s lack of compassion for and inability to identify with Taylor’s plight. They have never been an impoverished, homeless and desperate Black woman with two kids facing a bad choice and a worse choice.    Any indignation I feel for Taylor’s irresponsible decision is tempered by sympathy for the dilemma that drove her to make it.

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” Malcolm X said that. I second it.

Like me, he was a Black man who could see the connections and contradictions of Shanesha Taylor’s story and those whom self-righteously penalize her for being too weak to carry the weight of a system that fails poor women and children with disgusting certainty.

How many Wall Street executives are sleeping on a thin mattress with their backs to the wall lest they receive a midnight visit from a Nazi skinhead with a swastika face tattoo? Think of all those corrupt Congresscritters who resign to “spend more time with their families” as well as their mistresses and boy toys on the side. If leaving infants in a truck in the heat of the Arizona day is grounds for legal sanction then what should be done with a president, vice-president, National Security Adviser and Secretary of Defense who lie an entire country into a phony war and kill nearly 5,000 U.S. troops and possibly a million Iraqi citizens?

If George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld don’t deserve to be arrested for war crimes, can’t they at least have the goddamn decency to hide in their holes like the criminal scum they are? Why hasn’t someone performed a citizens arrest yet and marched the lot of them into The Hague or at least a Supermax prison?

This is what real criminal behavior looks like.

Putting Taylor behind bars may satiate the need to make her pay for her bad judgment, but it glosses over how states like Arizona balance the books on the backs of their least affluent and most needy citizens eventually creating “solutions” as dire as the original problems.

Criminalizing poverty is insane. Conservatives have made it their mission to slash and gut social programs designed specifically to assist women like Shanesha Taylor. Welfare, daycare and childcare, food stamps, homeless shelters, jobs programs, WIC, and anything else that isn’t a sacred cow like tax cuts and military spending.

A tax cut wouldn’t have helped Taylor and neither will Paul Ryan’s latest punish the poor Congressional budget. The Republican Party wants people to learn how to catch their own fish instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to give them fish to eat. They forget how hard it is to catch a fish when you can’t afford to buy a pole or bait.

Probation, jail time, and the other suggested corrective measures for Taylor show the disdain of the well-fed and markedly unsympathetic for a woman who doesn’t look like them, doesn’t belong in their circles they travel in and whose circumstances they can’t begin to conceive.

Conservatives like the idea of poor people working, but they want them to suffer a bit for whatever little help they receive and if they can be humiliated and have their dignity peeled away from their body in strips, that’s always good for a laugh.

When they actually break down in tears as Shanesha Taylor did, then it’s downright hilarious.

Taylor is, we are told, a bad mother. A loser. A dope who probably made dopey and bad decisions all her life so we must hold her up to contempt and compare her to welfare cheats and con artists.

But race has nothing to do with it. Gender has nothing to do with it. Poverty has nothing to do with it and how do we know this? We don’t. We just say we do because then its all of the individual’s fault and society is blameless.

American Injustice.

Taylor lives in an America most Americans don’t see because she cannot claim “affluenza” to escape responsibility.  Pleading she would not fare well in prison  is not a defense available to her.  Any society that has no fairness, understanding or compassion in it for desperate people is a society with no goodness or mercy in it and is not a society that can be defended.

“This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

One day we will have to stand before the God of history and we will talk in terms of things we’ve done. Yes, we will be able to say we built gargantuan bridges to span the seas, we built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. Yes, we made our submarines to penetrate oceanic depths. We brought into being many other things with our scientific and technological power.

It seems that I can hear the God of history saying, “That was not enough! But I was hungry, and ye fed me not. I was naked, and ye clothed me not. I was devoid of a decent sanitary house to live in, and ye provided no shelter for me. And consequently, you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness. If ye do it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye do it unto me.” That’s the question facing America today.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break the Silence” delivered on April 4th 1967

 

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Collision Course: Captain America vs. Superman vs. Batman

superheroes

There are plenty of reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that opened last weekend to kick off the summer movie season (in April?) and pocketed a tidy $93 million dollars even before I sat down in my seat. This isn’t another one of them. It’s just a few thoughts I had that aren’t spoilers, but one might be “spoilerish.”

Saw the fuck out of the flick on Sunday. It’s really good, though I wouldn’t go so far as some to call it “Marvel’s Dark Knight.” Pump ya brakes and slow ya roll.   It is a fun time in the dark, but there’s no Heath Ledger performance anywhere in sight. Certainly not from the Winter Soldier.

If Kevin Feige reads this, it is time for a Black Widow movie. I was surprised by how much screen time Scarlett Johannson had but this was far and away her best turn as Natasha Romanoff. If we wait for DC to finally give Wonder Woman her shot, we’ll be waiting around for another five years or so. I’m convinced the audience will turn out for Black Widow kicking ass in her own movie.

Come on, Kev. Make it happen!

DC/Warner Bros. is in a completely reactive mode where they have squandered their advantages of having a line of iconic super heroes, yet have utterly and completely failed to exploit that edge into successful franchise films without Batman or Superman.

Over the next two years movies featuring Marvel properties include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man(?!) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron all up and taking swings at box office supremacy before Superman vs. Batman finally get up to deck in 2016. Two years with nothing to offer is an eternity for a genre of films that has to peak sometime (but hasn’t as of yet).

Oh, and Captain America 3 is already claiming the same 2016 opening week as Supes vs. Bats (does Cap die and Bucky/Winter Soldier pick up the shield as it played out in the comics?). You would think Marvel has to be nuts to go mano a mano against DC’s biggest guns, but they claimed the release date first.

Both of these 500 pound gorillas can’t occupy the same weekend without one being severely wounded by the other. Someone is going to blink and move out of this opening week and I’m willing to bet it will be the one that already moved once already.

Cap ain't afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

Cap ain’t afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

I would expect in a head-to-head competition, Captain America 3 would falter against the joint might of Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman and whomever else the hell DC stuffs into the movie, but if blunts their box office momentum and it doesn’t open to somewhere in the $100 million range, Warner Brothers will need real superheroes to catch all the falling bodies being tossed out of hi-rise office towers.

The trap DC is in is they have bet their entire superhero film future on one movie. This movie can’t underperform or fall short the way Man of Steel did which barely edged out Thor: The Dark World in profitability.    If you’re a Superman fan, how does a Thunder God most people associate with their high school class on mythology give the Last Son of Krypton a run for the money?

It’s because Marvel has followed a plan to build a universe where even it’s “B”list characters can battle DC’s “A” list heroes to a virtual draw.

Marvel has been able to load its gun with several bullets so even if  Thor misses they still have Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers locked and loaded with more possibilities for The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Falcon. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige says they have their movies planned out to 2028! The fact that actors like Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier) are signed to do six to nine pictures makes it clear than when Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and others “age out” or are done slipping on the spandex, the franchises will go on and on and on…

I don’t see a similar game plan from DC/Warner. They are dealing with a recast Batman, David Goyer and Zack Snyder turned loose without a Christopher Nolan to reign in their worst excesses (and Nolan disagreed with their decision to have Superman kill Zod).

Nolan is gone to pursue his own vision and while the hope is Snyder/Goyer will successfully set up a Justice League franchise it all hinges on Supes/Bats doing billion dollar business.

It could all come together as planned. But if it doesn’t DC isn’t as well-positioned as Marvel to overcome a cinematic setback.

As for Captain America: The Winter Solider, it’s really good. Easily the best superhero movie I’ve seen since The Avengers. Chris Evans has really grown into the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is good. Samuel Jackson finally gets to do more as Nick Fury than stand around and glower. Scarlett Johannson surprised me in how central her role was in my enjoyment of the flick.

I give it a solid “B+” and I’d take my wife with me for a second viewing.

"Let's tell Disney to give you your own film right now!"

“Let’s tell Disney to give you your own film right now!”

 

 

 

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A Strained Relationship Between Obama and the Black Press.

 

Has Obama turned a blind eye to the Black press?

Is the bromance between Obama and the Black press over?

Human beings have the unfortunate habit of looking at their own circumstances, incorrectly blaming others for problems of their own making and complaining bitterly it’s the other guy who needs to clean up the act.

Recently, George Curry, editor of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), took the easy route and griped how President Obama had shown “disrespect” for the Black press.

“There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview,” Curry said on TVOne’s “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin.”

It’s understandable Curry is bent if Obama opts to talk to a “stupid White comedian” like  Zach Galifianakis and not him, but he underestimates his own importance and misunderstands than in the final push to get the Obamacare enrollment numbers over the top,  the smarter media strategy is to plow resources into a You Tube video that garnered  11 million views of the video, and a 40 percent spike in traffic to Healthcare.gov from the day before.

That doesn’t happen in an interview with The Oklahoma Eagle or any other Black newspaper.    Old media takes it on the chin yet again from new media.   You’d think they’d be accustomed to it by now.

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

Black want more meetings with Obama like this one in 2010 (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

The president is no different from most of Black America.   The problem isn’t the president pays no attention to the Black press. The problem is the Black press gives him no reason he should.   Their clout within the Black community has withered and faded in the face of competition from Twitter, hip-hop web sites,  bloggers, podcasting and the rest of social media.

Obama does need to spend a little more time with the Black press and throw them a bone now and then to make them happy,  but he didn’t need them in this fight. Black folks are three times in favor of healthcare reform. It was White folks–specifically YOUNG White folks he needed to recruit. The Black press can’t even deliver young Black folks. Obama would get more attention from an interview with World Star Hip-Hop than the Chicago Defender.    The support for Obamacare by Blacks is three times that of Whites.   Clearly the White House doesn’t believe it needed Curry and company to sell the program to Black America.

If the Black press feels disrespected it earned that disrespect.   Most of its wounds are self-inflicted and chief among them are a failure to adapt to both changing demographics, embrace the technological innovations that could have resuscitated it and enabled it to thrive in the 21st century, but that takes money and the willingness to try something new and different.   I haven’t seen a lot of publishers in the NNPA who aren’t convinced yet their problems are due to a failure to adapt and that is why they don’t matter all that much.

Black journalism has a proud history and a sketchy future.  The audience they need to thrive is made of up young people who don’t read Black newspapers, don’t see how it is relevant to their lives and can smell the musky, antiquated thinking and unwillingness to meet them where they are.

As a former editor and reporter of the Columbus Post newspaper, I saw first-hand the push-and-pull between the reporters, editors, photographers, and staffers who were committed to creating a quality product and the publishers who were more interesting in protecting their turf, currying favor with favorite politicians, pushing their pet projects, schmoozing with old cronies, nursing grudges and settling scores with other prominent people in the Black community.

The tragedy is there has never been a greater need for a healthy, robust, dynamic and energized Black Press. Many of the advances made by African-Americans are under assault by a hostile Republican Congress, a fickle and unprincipled Democratic Party, right-wing activists from the Tea Party to the U.S. Supreme Court.   Now more than ever the Black Press is needed to tell our truth to our people and now more than ever it seems unprepared for the task.

If Bams gives the Black press the “sit at the little kids table” treatment, what have they done to earn a place with the adults?  Not historically. but from a contemporary and serious journalism perspective.  Break any major stories? Do any enterprise or investigative stories lately? Earn any Pulitzer Prize nominations?

Politicians and the press maintain a relationship of mutual need  that at times has to become adversarial.   Curry, Martin and the Black press wants more respect from Obama they need to realize they need to do more to get it.   Simply grumbling over the Obama Administration making them them sit at the little kids table doesn’t cut it.   They need to raise their game as journalists to a point where even the president realizes it is politically advantageous to keep the Black press in the loop.   Right now there’s no particular price to pay for Obama if he doesn’t set out the good china and seat them at the grown-ups table.

The president can do better but so can the Black press.

Martin wants more face time with President Obama, but will he get it?

 

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