Saturday, June 23, 2007

Billboards planned against negative forms of rap music.

The publisher of African American Opinion has decided to take a stand against demeaning and violent music. He says he is taking a stand against gangster and other forms of negative rap music.

Inspired by a recent post by fellow AfroSphere Blogger, Gem at What About Our Daughters and her report on the efforts of faith based leader, Rev. Micheal Pfleger in Chicago, he has decided to reach out to the larger community to say enough is enough.

He plans to place 5 strategic billboards like the ones in Chicago into 5 urban areas of America, including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Detroit, Baltimore , and Los Angeles.

His blog has now partnered with to raise funds to place the billboards in those cities. All funds raised will go directly to the advertising effort. He is urging other bloggers to place one of his widgets on there website or blog to assist in the effort.

The African American Opinion blog publisher says, “If all goes as expected we plan to make it a national effort, to have billboards in every urban area throughout America urging our youth to boycott rappers who degrade our young girls and women, excite violence and disgrace our communities.”It’s time to “Do the WRITE thing.” Rev. Micheal Pfleger a respected Chicago faith leader has stepped to the plate, African American bloggers need to follow his lead.

To obtain a widget to place on your blog or website, just go to the widget on African American Opinion blog and click copy. Then copy and paste the information onto your sidebar.

You can contact African American Opinion publisher via email at: for more information or visit the ChipIn website at:

Third and Long

The big dummy.

Trouble has found "Pacman" Jones again. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, Ken Ritter from the Associated Press tells us more about the troubled cornerback's journey into the Heart of Dumbness:

Pacman surrenders, makes bail at $20,000
LAS VEGAS — His distinctive dreadlocks gone, Adam "Pacman" Jones posted bail, walked out of jail early Friday and headed home to Nashville, leaving his lawyers to again sort out the legal entanglements of the suspended NFL player.

Jones surrendered to face charges in a Las Vegas strip club melee that preceded a triple shooting. The Tennessee Titans cornerback was released on $20,000 bail, and was scheduled to return for an initial court appearance July 23.

Jones will plead not guilty to two felony charges of coercion stemming from allegations that he threatened to kill Minxx club employees and that he bit a bar bouncer, his lawyers said.

If convicted, the 23-year-old Jones faces a maximum of 12 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The arrest was the sixth for Jones since he was drafted in 2005. NFL and team officials declined comment Friday.

I don't get it.

Dumb as he is, I'm sure "Pacman" Jones has figured out that the world is divided three ways: there's the rich, the poor, and the ever-shrinking middle-class (that's one paycheck away from being poor).

Jones is a rich African-American male in white America who loves his job, and he got that way by hurting people for a living. Give the other guy a concussion, get a bonus. Is this a great country or what? Financially, Jones doesn't have to deal with the brutal, day-to-day bullshit that everybody else does. He can buy a car or a house, afford to see a doctor, and pay for his children's college education without a second thought. Jones enjoys a ridiculously opulent lifestyle that ordinary people will never have.

But sometimes, Jones acts like he's trying as hard as he can to throw his hard-earned money away.

The National Football League has an unspoken "nudge nudge, wink wink" policy about the bad boys in cleats who misbehave: as long as you shut up and do your job, we'll look the other way. Keep your business on the DL, alright? When Al Davis said, "Just win, baby", he just wasn't speaking about the Oakland Raiders. But what pisses NFL commissioner Goodell off is when jerks like Jones get busted in public for being dumb, and ESPN lets everybody know about it the next day.

The Tennessee Titans are fed up, too. Coach Jeff Fisher refuses to comment any further about Jones, and quarterback Vince Young said, "I haven't talked to him. I love him a whole lot, but like Coach said, it's Pacman's issue...he's got to take care of his problems."

If "Pacman" Jones doesn't wise up soon, his problems are going to take care of him, and it'll be his own damned fault. Just another loser of an ex-football player living in a dump.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Why blogging matters

Last night I posted "What does it mean to be a blogger?" in response to a piece by Jerid of Buckeye State Blog (currently blogging from New Hampshire) entitled "Don't Tell Obama You Blog". Since then, Jerid has described positive interactions with Obama's staff (see his remarks at the end of this post)

Do check out some of the comments in the "Don't tell..." post to see what some of the concerns might be about admitting bloggers to such an event. In particular, one commenter suggested that maybe the candidate wanted to have an open discussion about faith with people who didn't want their opinions broadcast across the universe? maybe they didn't want their pictures taken. maybe they didn't want to be quoted.

Yeah, I can see that. In particular, the thought of some blogger snapping an unflattering picture of me, posting it on the internet, and me not being able to do a dang thing about it. It would be nice to have some assurance that people would have the decency not to do that. Maybe someone can answer this for me--are there any rules for "real" news media with regard to getting consent before publishing someone's image and/or words?

As a blogger, I don't really consider myself to be "press", but the "real" corporate press does have something to do with why I blog, and this goes back long before I was annoyed by the slanted coverage of the Dean campaign.

I used to participate in a program called Parents as Teachers. The program's headquarters were in a building that used to be a public high school, but at that point in time housed a number of continuing education and career and job search prep programs. There was this little resource center room which was childproofed and had books for parents and age-appropriate toys for infants and toddlers. I can't tell you what a blessing it was to have such a place available to me when my kids were that age. I was feeling pretty isolated during the day at home, but the logistics of taking an infant and a toddler out *anywhere* by myself were sometimes daunting enough that they often *did* keep me home.

The program also included (if you desired) home visits from a resource person who specialized in early childhood education. About once a month, she would come by with an activity or two to show us, and would give me a few printed handouts about "what to expect" at a given age. Having taken child development courses, and having devoured plenty of parenting books, I could have gotten by just fine without the handouts. But I really appreciated the social connection, and the reality check that the things I was dealing with really *were* par for the course for a parent of small children.

And one more thing...this program, unlike a lot of programs out there, was not aimed at "high risk" families. Nor was it designed for low income families. It was just a little bit of that "village" that makes raising a child a bit easier, especially for a new parent who didn't live near family or in a neighborhood filled with other young parents that the kids and I could hang out with.

This is where the press comes into the scene. You may have wondered where I was going with all of this, but it was necessary to try to give you a flavor of what sort of program this was, and what it meant to me before moving on to the part about the media.

One day a reporter from a Columbus news station came to the resource center to do a segment on the place. It was clear pretty early on that the reporter had some preconceived notions. I later heard from the woman who did our home visits that he kept asking her questions like, "So, everybody here comes from a broken family?" No, she emphasized, again and again. Nor is everyone here financially needy, or a teenage mother, or...or...or...

It didn't do a bit of good. That evening, Demetrius and I watched our local newscast, and were treated to the image of myself playing with little Son and Daughter in Ohio, accompanied by the voice of the reporter saying something to the effect that "This center is especially important to people from broken homes, who lack good role models for parenting. " Nice.

All of this took place more than 10 years ago, and the specific details are a bit hazy at this point. But I do recall Demetrius voicing his displeasure that his wife and children were portrayed in that sort of light. My response? Well, it didn't bother me right away. I wasn't especially embarrassed or anything like that. But the more I thought about the portrayal, not of me, but of the demographic served by Parents as Teachers, the more I found it offensive. Because the message really seemed to be, "You see this place? This is a special service that is made available to the poor, sad, clueless people who would be lost--LOST, I tell you--without it."

So, on the one hand, the resource center was getting some publicity. And that could have been a good thing. Sometimes there is a resource right in your own back yard that would be a big help if only you were aware that it existed. I loved the idea of making more people aware of that program. Parenting is a job for which most of us get precious little training--people from *all* walks of life, not just "people from broken homes, who lack good role models". But I wonder how many people automatically dismissed the program as something that is only for "those" people. How many people, who *could* have found that center to be a real blessing in those early years as a first-time parent, never even considered looking into it due to way that report was "spun".

I know we can all think of more egregious and damaging examples of media bias. Certainly, the media's complicity in helping Bush sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public was one of the biggies. But more mundane examples, like the one I described above, are significant in their own way. They certainly are capable, for better or worse, of impacting the lives of ordinary people. Back then, blogging the other side of the story was not an option I had available to me. I can't tell you how grateful I am that we now have this medium at our disposal. And that, when we work together, we have the ability to "set the record straight" in ways that can make a real, positive difference for people.

Cheney not part of Executive Department? Please Congress, make it so!

Vice President Harry S. Truman plays the piano as actress Lauren Bacall, perched on the instrument,
looks on, at the National Press Club canteen in Washington, Feb. 10, 1945.

After extensively researching the US Constitution this morning before I attacked the crossword puzzle I have discovered that the term Vice President appears in that revered and trusted document and its amendments no less than than twenty four times. In no instance does the term appear near the words "shall be an employee of the executive department," however, the term also does not appear near the words "shall maintain an office in the White House where he will hold secret meetings with the various "Captains of Industry" and where it will be convenient for him, from time to time, to pick up the President by the ears for a good corrective shake."

I guess what we have here is something historians call a "Constitutional Mexican toss up" which will be decided by the courts long after the deaths of the parties involved.

I do believe however, that a cursory study of photograph of the Vice President engaged at his duties above will convince even the most disinclined observer that the Vice President has historically exercised executive functions.

If anyone needs further research on this please wait until later, I still have to deal with that puzzle.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Why do we wait for the next election?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

I can’t stand it.

Pelosi is at again with her appeasement tactics citing the “we don’t have a veto-proof majority” meme. If you can’t get things passed, the you begin to block, but she is not about blocking. She is not about rocking the boat.

I wonder if she has read the following list of names?

Sgt. Richard K. Parker, 26, of Phillips, Maine
Pfc. Larry Parks Jr., 24, of Altoona, Penn.
Sgt. Eric L. Snell, 35, of Trenton, N.J.
Sgt. Derek T. Roberts, 24, of Gold River, Calif.
Spc. Val J. Borm, 21, of Sidney, Neb.
Spc. Farid Elazzouzi, 26, of Paterson, N.J.
Spc. Darryl W. Linder, 23, of Hickory, N.C.
Sgt. 1st Class William A. Zapfe, 35, of Muldraugh, Ky.
Pfc. Joshua S. Modgling, 22, of Las Vegas, NV.

Those names were announced by the Pentagon YESTERDAY as having died in the war.

Pelosi should read those names into the Congressional Record and apologize for her abject failure as a Speaker of the House.

I am tired of Dem consultants that we will need to wait until the next election to bring the troops home.

Sick and tired.

All that and "bad fashion decisions" too

Just found this via Plunderbund. The funny thing is that just last night I was writing a post touching on, among other things, whether bloggers should be considered "press".

"We didn't seed the presidential marketplace," says spokeswoman Tia Mattson. "We do have such a broad demographic that even though he's not a 'normal' consumer, he fits right into it: sporty, outdoorsy."
The president isn't a "normal" consumer--you don't say! This story was filed under "Top News" by the Washington Post.
Bush's decision to wear black socks with his Crocs was ill-considered. The combination makes one think of an old man on his way to the beach. Besides, the shoes were conceived for use on boats. The holes allow air to circulate and water to drain. And the non-slip bottoms offer stability. Pairing them with socks is a contradiction.
I just thought this was funny and decided to share. Would that we had a president who ONLY made bad decisions when it came to fashion...

Oh, and thank you, Washington Post, for getting us this scoop so that one of us bloggers didn't have to get out of our jammies to break that story!

Old Baseball Players Don't Die, They Just Fade Away

One of the hardest thing to do in sports isn't hitting a 90-mile-an-hour fastball, or racing in the Indianapolis 500, or making the game-winning basket with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.

It's knowing when it's time to go.

There's a short list of athletes who knew when it was time: Jerome Bettis, Rocky Marciano, Jim Brown, and John Elway.

Then there's the other list, the long list of athletes with diminished skills who didn't know when to go.

Hey look, there's Eric Lindos, Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Willie Mays, Patrick Ewing, Emmitt Smith, David Cone, Wayne Gretzky, Rickey Henderson, Martina Navratilova--uhh, let's stop here. As I said earlier, it's a long list.

When it comes to reading the handwriting on the wall, athletes remain stubbornly illiterate. I never understood why until I saw an interview with the blues guitarist Johnny Winter on television one day.

Winter was promoting a new CD and he looked tired and bored as he answered questions he probably heard hundreds of times before. But then, by accident, the reporter asked him the right question: "So, Mr.Winter-how do you feel about what you do for a living?" It was as if she flipped a light switch on inside him. A bright happy smile lit up his face and he replied, "Well, it's a job--but it's a good job."

As long he stays healthy and people keep buying his CDs and going to his shows Winter can do his job as long as he wants. John Lee Hooker was in his 80s when he died, the morning after his last concert. That's much longer than the guys wearing jockstraps, that's for sure. Michelle Kwan retired at what, 25?

When you're an athlete, the window where you can do your job productively is temporary. I realize that nobody wants to leave the best job they're ever going to have. But if you're not careful and stay around too long, Father Time will slam that window shut on your fingers. Hard.

Quit the job before the job quits you.

Roger Clemens 2057

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Many Degrees Separate Mengele from the APA, The Gestapo from the CIA?

The EDSA Revolution, also referred to as the People Power Revolution and the Philippine Revolution of 1986, was a mostly non-violent mass demonstration in the Philippines. Four days of peaceful action by millions of Filipinos led to the downfall of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and the installation of Corazon Aquino as president of the Republic. EDSA stands for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, the main highway in Metro Manila and the main site of the demonstrations.

In the last year or so I've posted more than a few articles protesting various aspects of the Cheney/Bush administration and their ill conceived, illegal and insane policies and on several occasions I've led the pieces with pictures that cast Cheney and Bush in Nazi uniforms. I have no facility with Photoshop so I "borrowed" the images from here and there around the web. My apologies to those unheralded graphic geniuses whose work I "borrowed."

The pieces were generally well received around the liberal blogosphere but locally, here in Dayton, Ohio I took no small amount of heat for comparing Cheney/Bush and his criminal minions with Hitler and his henchmen. I received some very unflattering comments, some hate mail, more than a few invitations to an ass kicking, mine was intended I believe, and one grammatically challenged death threat.

It is not always a friendly house we play to here in the "heart"land, this crowd can get tough.

I've long believed that no matter how great my fears of the criminal depths to which the government of my country has sunk, no matter how bad I suspect things have become, the reality is always, always, worse. much worse, way worse.

That is why I'm seldom surprised by reports of governmental abuse of the rights of our citizens and other human beings around the world and why I wasn't surprised when I read an article ("The CIA's torture teachers") in Salon today in which Mark Benjamin points out the emerging facts in several investigations currently underway which point to the active participation of members (Doctors, I believe) of the American Psychological Association with the CIA and Special Force components of the US military in the criminal interrogations of prisoners being held at Guantanamo and other sites known and unknown around the world.

I also believe that I've reached an age and a level of experience at which, if I notice that if someone is pissing in my boots and simultaneously trying to explain to me that it's raining, I have no problem kicking his ass without benefit of further evidence.

Bullshit, I feel, announces itself well in advance by it's unmistakable aroma, and my sniffer has only improved with age. And so, I believe, has yours.

This makes me what they call a loose cannon, so be it.

I knew, for example, long before the first court proceeding that Scooter, along with everyone in the VPs realm and the entire "unitary executive" had signed on to destroying Joe Wilson, his wife was just necessary "collateral damage." And so, I believe did you.

I knew that Bush's pathetic little sycophant at Justice was balls deep in doing exactly what Karl Rove told him to do the moment I read the first story of the attorney firings in the press nearly a year ago, as, in my mind at least, did you.

And, to the point, I knew when these assholes started beating breasts and investigating and charging and arranging courts martial for a few poor enlisted saps, and hanging fully expendable reserve officers out to dry over their involvement in the criminal abuses at Abu Graib, I knew that the policy directives/orders had flowed like water, down the big hill, always seeking the path of least resistance, right from the headwaters of criminal madness in the big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, down through the office of "Gee Willikers" Don, to be signed off on by every cowardly, ass kissing "General" in the sickening group of careerist traitors that passes for military leadership in this Alice in Neocon world, and rolled inexorably on, like some, some, giant nightmare snowballing turd, crushing the hapless, low level few who would be sacrificed so that the dreams of empire could continue on and the profits would not abate. Somehow, I don't believe that I was alone in my "knowledge."

This story, of which I'm sure I have not heard the end, coupled with the "The General's Report" in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh about the downfall of Antonio Taguba, an honest and honorable officer and how he became one of the millions of human casualties of the human filth in neckties who have taken control of my America and Glen Greenwald's piece this morning about Norman Podhoretz the lunatic who represents the "spiritual" core of this piratical band of psychopaths has pretty much driven my rage level to the ceiling.

I now live in a country that forces brave men like Antonio Taguba into retirement for behaving like honorable men, like soldiers, a country that rewards pathological scum like Norman Podhoretz the "Presidential Medal of Freedom."

I was right to portray Cheney/Bush as Nazis, but they are potentially far worse.

I'm ready for the barricades. I know it... let me know when you know that you are.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Public Education Failing the Grade from Washington to California

AAPP Says: Lou Dobbs says the U.S public school system is failing this generation of students. Lou Dobbs at CNN is becoming more of an advocate for black and latino children than the NAACP, Congressional Black Fox Caucus, and Urban league combined. Why do I say this? Because the NAACP, Urban League, CBFC, have been, more or less quite on the issue of education and black folks. Yes, they publish Annual Reports on the condition of Black America, but that’s as far is they really go. Candidly I would like to see these troups begin the advocate like they did under the old school leadership of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Where are African American Education, Political, Faith, and Social Leaders?

Where is the President? - Stupid question.

I watch Lou Dobbs regularly and find him an amazing man when addressing America’s problems. Today I have to give him a big HatTip for his most recent article, A legacy in search of a president. Here is some of what Lou Dobbs has to say:


“America’s once-proud public school system — the great equalizer of our democratic society — is failing an entire generation of students. Millions of high-school students are donning their caps and gowns this month, but a new Education Week report reveals that more than 1.2 million students will fail to graduate high school this year. Half of our black and Hispanic male students are dropping out of public high schools.

Nowhere is the news for our young people worse than in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit’s economy has been devastated by so-called free trade policies and awful management decisions. Tens of thousands of jobs are disappearing, and too many mothers and fathers have never attended a parent-teacher conference. Detroit’s community is in pain, and the city’s future is uncertain. And despite the best efforts of local and state leaders, hope is in short supply.

The Education Week report shows Detroit’s public high schools will graduate only 25 percent of their students. Cleveland, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland, will graduate less than 35 percent; Dallas, Texas, New York and Los Angeles, California, about 45 percent. In fact, 10 of our nation’s biggest cities will graduate fewer than half their students. This is nothing less than a national crisis.

Christopher Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and supervisor of that national dropout rate report says: “I think that really speaks to the challenge of getting students to graduate from high school at a time where it’s more important than it’s ever been…to provide opportunities for our young people to have a successful career and for the United States in general to be competitive in the world.”

The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that each high school dropout earns about $260,000 less than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime. The Alliance also reports that dropouts not only earn less money but also drain state and federal budgets through their dependence on social and welfare programs. Those students who drop out make up nearly half the heads of households on welfare, and they constitute almost half of our prison population as well. The cost to our society is overwhelming.” More Here


AAPP Says:

Fast forward to Washington, DC - Check out how DC Public schools are doing in Washington, DC. They get a D - by all accouts. The black Mayor just appointed a new school Supt. with no experience running a major school system, infact, she has never run any school system. She has never run any school operations at any level. Her only true work experience in public education was teaching in Baltimore schools for two or three years - go fiqure. As reported by WaPo, Mayor Fenty had been under fire for the racial composition of his Cabinet. Since becoming mayor he has been criticized for not appointing enough blacks to prominent positions in the predominantly black city, especially after he named Cathy L. Lanier, who is white, as police chief and Michelle A. Rhee, who is Asian American, as The new School Chancellor.

Michelle A. Rhee with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at a news conference where he announced her as his choice to replace schools chief Clifford B. Janey.

Now there is a political fight brewing, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray has asked Mayor Adrian M. Fenty for a detailed description of the selection process for Michelle A. Rhee as the new schools chancellor, saying he wanted to determine whether Fenty had followed the law. In a letter dated Wednesday, a day after Fenty (D) announced Rhee as his pick, Gray (D) noted that the takeover legislation called for a panel of teachers, parents and students to review résumés. Gray questioned whether the group was genuinely involved in Rhee’s candidacy. i guess thisis what happen when we have a green (oops) Mayor. At least he , (the Mayor) has taken some Corrective Action: In recent days the Mayor has appointed six new cabinet nominees, 5 are black; 1 is white. He may have an uphill battle getting Ms Rhee confirmed. check out the bogus procedures he used around stakeholder involvement.

Let’s see how his new Wonder Woman plays out.

‘Scare Tactics’ From Fenty’s Team?

Fixing D.C.'s Schools

Narrated Photos: In the Trenches

Across the city, dedicated teachers and principals work every day to guide their students through a school system beset by challenges. Here are two stories from D.C.’s elementary schools.

A Timeline of D.C. School Reforms

The Scorecard: Interactive Database

More From This Series »

Neil Diamond is Bad For America!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

Not really, but since Hillary has a theme song now, I guess Al Qaeda probably has one also.

I wonder if it played for their graduation ceremonies?

A video showing about 300 men and boys as young as 12 at an Al Qaeda training camp is creating fears, ABC News says, that suicide missions are being deployed to Canada and other countries.

But such fears were met with caution and skepticism yesterday by security officials and analysts.

"Of course it's a concern," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day told reporters of the video aired Monday on ABC News. "We've always said that Canada is not immune to threats of terrorism."

The video showed a graduation ceremony for a training camp for Afghanistan's Taliban movement, ABC News said.

The recruits were organized in four "teams" to be deployed on supposed suicide missions in Canada, the United States, Germany and Great Britain.

"These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places," Taliban military commander Mansoor Dadullah said to the crowd. "Why shouldn't we go after them?"

The footage is said to have been shot by a Pakistani journalist invited to the event somewhere in the Afghan-Pakistan border region June 9.

ABC’s Brian Ross broke an exclusive story Monday and the rest of the media has paid scant attention. They also don't pay much attention to Neil Diamond. Coincidence? You decide.

Mother Jones article on poliltical bloggers

It hit the news stands a couple days ago, but now the Mother Jones article for which Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing was interviewed a while back appears in the online edition of the magazine:

"This is what happens when you crash the gates. All of a sudden, you're not just a pajama-clad kid in his parents' basement; once you've demonstrated your power and influence, people start demanding accountability and transparency. They want to know, for instance, that you aren't pushing a candidate MERELY because you (or your friends) have been paid by that candidate to do so."

Read the rest here.



Boo hoo hoo (sniffle)

I'm gonna take my ball and go home!

Kobe keeps up trade demands
LOS ANGELES - Intentional or not, Kobe Bryant seems to be doing everything he can to pressure the Los Angeles Lakers into trading him.

So far, it doesn’t appear to be working.

The latest twist in the Bryant saga involves an amateur video of the nine-time All-Star denouncing general manager Mitch Kupchak and teammate Andrew Bynum.

Lakers spokesman John Black said the team was contacted about the video before Bryant first requested to be traded on May 30.

‘‘It doesn’t change our stance at all,’’ Black said a day after saying essentially the same thing - that the team has no plans to trade the two-time defending NBA scoring champion.

‘‘These people called us about a month ago, they told us they wanted to sell it, we told them we had no interest in buying it,’’ Black said. ‘‘That’s the end of the story. There’s been no further contact between them and us.’’

Kupchak declined further comment, saying, ‘‘I think enough has been said.’’

Did you hear that, Kobe? Shut up already. Nobody cares.

To judge Kobe as an athlete is easy: he's the best player in the NBA, with the gaudy statistics and the three championship rings to prove it. As a man, he's a petulant crybaby, and a backstabbing punk who cheated on his wife, betrayed his teammates, chased Shaquille O'Neal out of L.A., and publicly trashed the boss who made him rich.

But Kobe's ego has gotten so big, it's squeezed the common sense out of his head. Basketball isn't a one-man game like golf, so nobody, not even a cold-blooded, supernaturally-talented player like Kobe, can do it by himself. In today's NBA, the championship-winning Los Angeles Lakers were an anomaly: they had two Hall of Fame players on the team, not one. Ask Allan Iverson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Yao Ming, and Kevin Garnett how it feels trying to do it all by yourself every game. Yeah, you'll get big bucks and put up big numbers every game, but that's all. You'll never win the big game.

David Robinson figured out the math. On his way to being one of those great players doomed to never win a championship, a merciful deity dropped Tim Duncan into the laps of the San Antonio Spurs. It would have been easy for the Admiral to be an arrogant prima donna and refuse to share the spotlight with Duncan, but the aging superstar was intelligent enough to realize that this gifted young player could finally help him win a championship. For the Spurs, it was the beginning of a dynasty.

Until Kobe remembers what got him there in the first place, he'll never win another championship again. Boo hoo hoo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Pawns of George W. Bush

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

When it comes to Bush, he has an army at his disposal. I am not talking about the United States Armed Forces, I am talking about his army of pawns, which, apparently, now extend to the Democrats in Congress - and that reach has probably extended to there for quite some time - only we (the progressives) weren't too hot about admitting.

Pelosi and Reid, the shiniest of the Bush Pawn Collective, has successfully bogged themselves down in the investigation of Gonzales and the short term looks to be shaping up that the Gozales investigation will continue. Were they ever going to get to Katrina? Health care? How about the MOTHER-FUCKING war?

Ah yes, I went and asked the worst question I could. Where is the investigation into the war? Is it a problem of not knowing where to start? How about starting with the WMDs? Or Abu Ghraib? Or maybe the trillion other things that has gone wrong?

I want that investigation to start TODAY! Not tomorrow and I sure as Hell don't want to wait until Magic September when they tell us all will be well with the world.

Today. Because tomorrow, we may start the call for impeachment... of Pelosi and Reid.


A 45-year-old-man having sex with a 15-year-old is wrong. It's sick, inequitable, exploitative, immoral, and illegal. When a 17-year-old young man is having sex with a 15-year-old-girl, I'm not so sure. Usually, I don't think it's a good idea because even though teenagers are old enough to do the physical act of having sex , I don't think they're mature enough to handle the emotional consequences afterwards. If you're not careful, leaping into bed before you look is dangerous. Sex is difficult for adults to figure out, so how smart is a kid who's too young to buy a beer gonna be? Still, the power imbalance in the relationship isn't as pronounced, and if the sex is consensual, it's not a crime. It certainly isn't pedophilia.

Too bad for Genarlow Wilson that he did it in Atlanta. Although they say oral sex isn't a crime, they sure act like it is.

Man Wants Teen Sex Sentence Tossed

ATLANTA (AP) -- A man sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 should have to serve out the widely criticized mandatory term, a prosecutor told a judge Wednesday.

A lawyer for Genarlow Wilson, now 21, asked the appellate judge to throw out the aggravated child molestation sentence on the grounds it is grossly disproportionate to the crime. Defense attorney B.J. Bernstein noted that state lawmakers passed a law to close the loophole that led to Wilson's sentence.

But prosecutor Paula Smith argued that the new law cannot be applied retroactively.

"The General Assembly did not make it retroactive," Smith said. "They had the prerogative to do so; they did not."

Wilson, clad in a white prison uniform, watched as his legal team again tried to free him while they pursue a claim that his constitutional rights are being violated. Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson said he expects to issue a decision on Wilson's appeal by noon Monday.

Wilson's sentence has been denounced even by members of the jury that convicted him and the author of the 1995 law that put him behind bars.

"The law was designed to protect kids against really, really bad people doing very bad things," said the sponsor, former state Rep. Matt Towery, a Republican. "It was never intended to put kids in jail for oral sex."

Emmitt Till was lynched for whistling at a white woman, so Genarlow Wilson is lucky he's looking at only eight more years in jail, huh?

The idea that Genarlow Wilson sitting in a jail cell because he got a blow job is wrong, and it's hard not to see racism as fueling this decision. He was a good athlete and a conscientious high school student with a 3.2 GPA who never broke the law. Although these cruel white men would never admit it, maybe the prosecution thought Genarlow was getting "too uppity". This wasn't R.Kelly, a grown man who should have know better, having anal sex with a minor. This was Genarlow and a bunch of drunk kids with a video camera screwing around at a party on New Year's Eve. But then, most African-American men on the wrong side of the law don't get the benefit of the doubt most of the time.

Doesn't it piss you off Genarlow Wilson might spend more time behind bars than "Scooter" Libby? I guess the reports of Jim Crow's death in Atlanta were exaggerated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"I feel fantastic" video

Here's the video my husband Demetrius (the guy who designed the banner for this site) did for the The PopSci Podcast/Jonathan Coulton "I Feel Fantastic" Video Contest. (You can see some of the other videos here.)

This project ate up almost every waking moment of the past week for him--and many moments that should have been sleeping moments--so I thought I'd share.

Update: The winners have been announced.


Reputed Klansman, 71, convicted in 1964 civil rights crime

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. -- A jury on Thursday convicted reputed Ku Klux Klansman James Seale of kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1964 deaths of two black teenagers in southwestern Mississippi.

Seale, 71, faces life in prison in the deaths of Charles Moore and Henry Dee. The 19-year-olds disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964, and their bodies were found later in the Mississippi River.

"I thank the Lord that we got justice," Dee's older sister, Thelma Collins, of Springfield, La., said outside the courthouse.

Seale sat stone-faced as the verdict was read and showed no emotion as marshals led him out.

Federal prosecutors indicted Seale in January almost 43 years after the slayings. He is to be sentenced Aug. 24 on two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy.

Fuck him.

I remember a story my father told me when I was a boy. It didn't take long and he never mentioned it again but I'll never forget it. My father told me about a wooded area where he and his friends used to play until a black man was lynched there a few nights ago. The tree that they used to climb and play hide and seek was used for a terrible purpose and they never went there again after they learned what happened. It was the first time I can recall seeing my father vulnerable. I hated seeing the pain on his face and I hated the white men who put it there.

Generations of black men and women shared these horrible memories and fears for centuries. White men like James Ford Seale was an obedient cog in the White Killing Machine that murdered innocent people of color for entertainment.

So now I'm supposed to feel for Seale because he's a sick old man who's going to die in jail?

I feel sorry for Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two young black men who never lived past their nineteenth birthday.

Don't Just Change The Channel

I think it's foolish and dangerous to make television bigger than what it is. The TV set is not an evil, omnipresent Big Brother lurking in your home; it doesn't stick a straw into your head and suck out the juicy pink goo inside; it doesn't tell you what to do because it can't. Besides, how lethal can my TV be if it has an "Off" switch? I can make Rush Limbaugh go away whenever I want but pointing my TV remote at global warming won't make it stop. Television isn't real.

Television is a clever piece of furniture that entertains people and it's only as good as its audience allows it to be. People have been screwed over by bad parents, bad schools, bad hospitals, bad neighborhoods, bad drugs, bad health or bad luck. I don't know anybody who's ever been screwed over by bad television.

On the other hand, you can be screwed over by too much television. Barbara F. Meltz, a reporter on the Boston Globe, has the story:

Heavy TV viewing under 2 is found
Ignoring risks, parents cite 'educational' value

About 40 percent of 3-month-olds watch television or videos for an average of 45 minutes a day, or more than five hours a week, according to the first-ever study of the viewing habits of children under the age of 2.

The study, by pediatric researchers at the University of Washington, also found that by age 2, 90 percent of children are watching television for an average of more than 90 minutes a day.

Such early exposure to screens can have a negative impact on an infant’s rapidly developing brain and put children at a higher risk for attention problems, diminished reading comprehension, and obesity, researchers said.

Researchers said they were surprised not only by the number of hours young children are spending in front of the television but also by the primary reason: Most parents are using television as an educational tool, not for the more conventional explanation of babysitting. Despite nearly a decade of warnings by pediatricians to the contrary, parents believe that the content of programs aimed at babies is good for brain development.

‘‘I wouldn’t be so upset about this if I thought parents were doing it because they needed a break to take a shower or make dinner,’’ said Dimitri Christakas, the University of Washington pediatrician who co-authored the study. ‘‘What I’m troubled by is the notion that parents think it’s good for their kids. That’s more likely to lead to excessive viewing rather than occasional viewing."


Even though this is being done with the best of intentions, this is still child abuse. Why would you methodically squeeze your children's dreams dry?

A child develops by learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to interact with adults and other children, learning to go outside and trying to figure out how the world works. Life is where horror, comedy, tragedy, and adventure live; TV is a pale echo of this experience. An Emmy-winning HBO drama can't equate to the pivotal moments in your life. But if you sit rooted in front of the damned TV, you'll miss those moments, and you won't get them back.

Ain't no reruns in Life.

Thankfully, it's Linda Ellerbee, a respected and outspoken television journalist, who gives us a welcome breath of fresh intellect and common sense. Ellerbee said, Keep TV in it's proper place: beside us, before us, but never between us and real life. That's called being smarter than your television. And you are."

If you want to change the world, and your children, don't change the channel. Change yourself.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bad Girl

Bad Girl, Bad Girl,
What’cha gonna do?
What’cha gonna do
When they come for you?

Why, if you’re Angelina Jolie, you snap your fingers and make ‘em do tricks. Roll over. Play dead. Beg.

Aw, isn’t Brad cute? Tee hee hee.

On Alexander, Oliver Stone’s Achilles heel of an epic, there were rumors that a boozy Colin Farrell opened up his toga and repeatedly exposed himself to the women on the set. Some of the guys thought it was funny. I suppose some of the other guys didn’t think so, but they didn’t say anything. As you know, Angelina played Olympias in the film. No, she wasn’t good. Then again, neither was anybody else.

Anyway, Colin decided to share his dumb parlor trick with Angelina. To his surprise, she didn’t get angry, upset, or embarrassed. Instead, Angelina grinned at the Irish one-dick pony, grabbed not-quite-a-handful of Colin, and squeezed. Hard. Ouch. The other guys cringed. The women didn’t say anything, but they thought it was funny.

That’s what Bad Girls do. Independent, smart, tough-minded women who don’t start trouble but know how to finish it. Ida Lupino, Louise Brooks, Christina Ricci, Debra Winger, Barbara Stanwyck, Denise Crosby, Sharon Stone, Bette Davis, Frances Farmer, Glenda Jackson are in the club. Angelina has a key. Most of the time, they’re better than their movies.

Angelina’s career has been the usual seesaw. Sometimes she’s eye candy on a silver plate, as in the (ugh) ridiculous Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow or forgotten in The Good Shepherd. But, as poor Wynona (“Hey! That was supposed to be my Oscar!”) Ryder found out too late in Girl, Interrupted, Angelina is an excellent actress when given the opportunity. Her three Golden Globe awards next to the two Screen Actors Guild awards, tell you that other people think so too.

Even better, Angelina is one of those celebrities that gets it. The money Lindsay Lohan spent for a limousine to get sick in would have bought a lot of schoolbooks. If you got a few extra bucks to give, why not? Angelina gets it. After a visit to Sierra Leone in 2001, she understood “how completely naive I was to think I had a difficult life. It was as if someone slapped me across the face and said, ‘Oh, my God, you silly young woman from California, do you have any idea how difficult the world really is for so many people?’ I got out of myself pretty quickly.” Angelina is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. Paris Hilton probably thinks the UN is a nightclub.

Does Angelina say dumb things from time to time? Oh yeah. I bet she belches, farts, and picks her nose, too. And I’m sure that there’s a couple of bad films in the future with her name on them waiting to be sold for half price at Blockbuster as well. Hey, she’s not St. Angelina, y’know? But I give Angelina credit for trying, as Gandhi said, “to be the change you want to see in the world.” Maybe she’s a rich white woman living in a bubble, but it’s not a mirror.

Angelina is a Bad Girl who gets it. Good.

Who will step up?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

The list of do-nothing Democrats gets longer and longer every day we are in Iraq. In 2006, Americans sent a powerful message with their vote to end the war in Iraq. Now that the Democrats are in control of both halves of Congress, we are still in Iraq. We will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Bush has even said it will be his predecessor that brings the troops home. He has also embraced a “South Korea” scenario where we NEVER leave Iraq.

Since the 2006 election, even MORE Americans see the Iraq invasion as a horrible mistake and want our troops brought home and support such legislation. Still, we remain in Iraq. We don’t even have a withdrawal plan and this shouldn’t be surprising. We had no plan going into Iraq, why should we expect BushCo to have one for coming OUT.

It is time to STOP enabling Democrats and START making them vote for US, not their corporate contributors. The people of the 11th District may have voted to put Shuler in Congress, but it was a national effort of progressive bloggers and small donations from all over the country that paid for the ads, the mailers - the whole campaign. But Congressmen like Shuler should be made aware of just how tenuous their hold of their Congressional seat is. If he keeps voting the same way as Elizabeth Dole, I will do all I can to support his challengers in the 2008 Primaries.

In fact, any Democrat that keeps a voting record akin to Elizabeth Dole’s needs to be replaced. My question to you is, who will step up?

If I Had A Rocket Launcher

The GMs in Major League Baseball who sign up Roger Clemens are in an odd love/hate relationship with him. Oh sure, they love it that the the fiery pitcher-for-hire can still win games for them, but they hate the horrible things they have to do beforehand. This time, it was the Yankees turn.

“Jesus, this place stinks.”

“Over there! He’s in the cage where they used to keep Hannibal Lector.”



“It’s O.K., Roger! Look! We brought you a sportswriter!”

“No!” Dan Shaughnessy screams, “Aaiiieee!”

After the gory carnage is over, Roger picks his red-stained teeth with a bone and smiles. “ME VERY HORNY.”

"Huh? W-why are you looking at me?"

"Go ahead, Bill! George said to give him anything he wants!"


Suddenly, in a foul-smelling cloud of brimstone, a demon in a suit appears.

"My God! Are you S--"

"Of course not," the demon smoothly replies, in a voice that sounds suspiciously like James Earl Jones. "I'm The Rocket's lawyer. Now, this is a list of what my client requires, and there will be no negotiation. Please listen carefully , our time is worth $5,000 a minute, and I will not repeat myself. First of all..."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Unholy Triangle: George Bush, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and al Qaeda

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as crossposted at The Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

Foreign Affairs
published a sobering article by Bruce Riedel in their May/June issue entitled, “al Qaeda Strikes Back.” Riedel, a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution retired last year after 29 years with the CIA.

Essentially, Riedel outlines al Qaeda’s resurgence while the Bush Administration has undermined our geopolitical position with their foolish war in Iraq. Hardly a dove, Riedel believes it is essential to our national security for al Qaeda to be “decapitated.” I agree with him. al Qaeda is a clear and present danger as a manifestation of radical Islam.

Among the failings of the Bush Administration is how their incessant fear mongering has jaded Americans about the very real dangers of terrorism that still exist. What’s required is tough minded, realistic leadership that neither exaggerates dangers for political gain nor ignores threats as President Bush did in August 2001. The last thing this country should do is hand our enemies what they want: war with Iran. Riedel issues the following warning:

“The biggest danger is that al Qaeda will deliberately provoke a war with a ‘false-flag’ operation, say, a terrorist attack carried out in a way that would make it appear as though it were Iran's doing. The United States should be extremely wary of such deception. In the event of an attack, accurately assigning blame will require very careful intelligence work. It may require months, or even years, of patient investigating to identify the plotters behind well-planned and well-executed operations, as it did for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1996 attacks on the U.S. barracks at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton were wise to be patient in both those cases; Washington would be well advised to do the same in the event of a similar attack in the future. In the meantime, it should, of course, continue do its utmost to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and from fomenting violence and terrorism in the Middle East by using tough diplomacy and targeted sanctions. And it should not consider a military operation against Iran, as doing so would only strengthen al Qaeda's hand -- much as the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have.”
I have a different take on Riedel’s warning. To be blunt, the Bush Administration will not be “deceived” by a “false flag” from al Qaeda. Rather, Bush and Cheney are hoping for a pretext to avoid a humiliating withdrawal from Iraq. With Republicans ready to jettison the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy in September, a war with Iran would be quite timely and convenient.

Another false flag may be weapons smuggling into Iraq through Iran by operatives sympathetic to al Qaeda. Either way it is important to remember the antipathy that exists between Iran and al Qaeda. Iran has sponsored al Qaeda’s rival Hezbollah in Lebanon. After 9/11, Iran cooperated with Washington against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan out of their strategic self-interest. They view al Qaeda as a threat to their hegemony as well potential catalysts to instability on their borders.

Tragically, the world is at the mercy of an unholy triangle as the motivations of Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Bush Administration and al Qaeda are converging. Ahmandinejad is besieged with problems. He’s terrified of dissent as domestic dissatisfaction with his regime intensifies. A war with the “Great Satan” would be a welcome distraction, as Iranians will surely rally to him if attacked.

al Qaeda of course thrives on instability, chaos and any act that reinforces America’s image as an imperialist at war with the Islamic people. They’re laying in the high weeds to capitalize on instability in Gaza and Lebanon as well as exploit vulnerabilities in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is sucking wind and hemorrhaging support. The Republican Party is poised to pull the plug on Iraq in September. Bush and Cheney are desperate to avoid withdrawal and defeat in Iraq on their watch. A war with Iran would make extricating ourselves from Iraq nearly impossible. Of course our military, stretched to their limit in Afghanistan and Iraq is in no shape to prosecute any war with Iran. But the Bush Administration may be thinking that a controlled air war can be managed and strengthen their political position.

As we’ve also seen, the Bush Administration is not overly concerned with details such as blowback, the fog of war and the heavy lifting of managing the aftermath once hostilities are initiated. Perhaps they’re also hoping war with Iran will distract from the publicity surrounding their scandals. These people are eminently capable of deluding themselves that a controlled air war is viable and just the tonic for their problems.

Ultimately what I’m wondering is this: is America stupid enough to allow it? At this point I have little faith in the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership. It also doesn’t appear that the frontrunners for their party’s 2008 presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton nor Barak Obama possess the intestinal fortitude to stand up to aggression against Iran. They’ll sit back and see which the way the wind blows.

I don’t like cynicism and believe it’s important to work for a truly progressive majority that is sensible and mature. I will not abandon my efforts as an activist to accomplish the ideals I believe in. However, as much as I prefer optimism, we’re on a collision course with calamity. It’s like watching a pile up happening in slow motion on the freeway while George Bush, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bin Laden crash their cars after binge drinking at an all night keg party.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

Richard was an alpha werewolf. He was head of the local pack. It was his only serious flaw. We'd broken up after I'd seen him eat somebody. What I'd seen had sent me running to Jean-Claude's arms. I'd run from the werewolf to the vampire. Jean-Claude was Master of the city of Saint Louis. He was definitely not the more human of the two. I know there isn't a lot to choose from between a bloodsucker and a flesh-eater, but at least after Jean-Claude finished feeding, there weren't chunks between his fangs. A small distinction but a real one.

--Blue Moon, by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Crime fiction isn't an exclusive Boy's Club anymore. Sometimes the hard-boiled detective walking down those mean streets at night is wearing high heels. In a parallel universe where vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other creatures of the night co-exist in an uneasy truce, Anita Blake is a vampire hunter. Have Stake, Will Travel. It's a dangerous job, but she's good at it, and it pays the bills. Silver bullets ain't cheap.

Written by written by Laurell K. Hamilton (The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, The Lunatic Cafe, Burnt Offerings, Danse Macabre), the series cunningly uses the best elements of the crime and horror genres and dumps the worst. It's a happy marriage of Sue Grafton and Stephen King. The rules of Hamilton's fantasy world make sense, the quirky, well-defined characters have bite (sorry), the devious plots are as addicting as cocaine-laced junk food, and is thankfully absent of the pretentious goo that gummed up Anne Rice's later novels.

Marvel Comics is publishing a two-part series, Anita Blake-Vampire Hunter: The First Death #1, written by Hamilton and Jonathon Green with art by Wellinton Alves. A prequel of sorts to Guilty Pleasures, the comic examines the struggles of Anita's early days as a vampire hunter, trying to prove herself to a skeptical police force, and her hunt for a serial killer. Looks good.

Anita Blake is a superb and endlessly intriguing character, and I can't wait for the next book starring America's Favorite Vampire Hunter.