Friday, February 29, 2008

Why, Sistas, WHY!?!?!?

Ok, Disclaimer Time.

The video I'm about to show is to encourage discussion. I'm not passing any judgement on these young ladies for what they're choosing to do. I would like us to discuss exactly what motivates these young ladies to do what they're doing, however.

This video is probably not safe for work, although it's on YouTube. Consider yourself forewarned, and don't blame me if your boss thinks otherwise. The language is bad, and there's some lewd behavior, but you're not really going to be able to comment if you don't watch it in it's entirety.

A co-worker forwarded me this. I don't go scouring the web for this kinda stuff, but it was so disturbing on so many levels, I had to throw it to ya'll to make some sense for me.

I'm not sexist! Some of my best wives are women. Remember that before ya'll start flaming me.
Ok, now for some context: this is apparently an open audition for an upcoming Flavor of Love type reality show for Florida rapper Plies. You probably don't know him, but he's a college educated, Kirk Franklin look-alike who had a very minor hit last year with T-Pain called Shawty . He's no Jay-Z, but don't tell these young ladies that.

Watch and weep.

Sojourner Truth is crying inside. Ida B. Wells too. Hell, I'm crying myself.

I don't really know what angle to discuss this from, but I'd ask that we stay away from the typical responses (fatherlessness, sexism in hip-hop). Those are valid reasons, but they can't possibly explain away all of this. These young ladies are practically handing over their dignity on a silver platter for the possibility of being on an unscheduled (evar?) reality show with a 4th rate rapper. What sense does that make?

I'm not asking the question that follows for the sake of blaming or pointing fingers. And I don't want this to turn into a male vs female cyberbattle, but I gotta know.

Question: Why do SOME black women do this kinda stuff? Key word: SOME.

Bonus Vids: A Medley of Plies Greatest... uhhhmmm, Hits!?!!?

100 Years

Shawty (ft. T-Pain)

Got Em' Hatin'

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cell Phones For Grades: Outside The Box Thinking or Hidden Racism?

So, the fine folks of NYC are still at a loss for ways to motivate kids to learn. Last month, I told ya'll about a pilot program that's effectively paying kids for just showing up to school and taking (already required) standardized tests. Now, in another effort to encourage Tyrone to put down that PS3 controller (no small feat, just ask AverageSis) and pick up a book, NYC school administrators are really getting desperate.

What’s the cheapest way to call your friends? For thousands of New York City middle school students, the answer now is to earn an "A". Education officials began doling out cell phones to 2,500 students on Wednesday as part of a closely watched experiment to try to change the way teenagers think about doing well in school.

The pilot program, at three Brooklyn middle schools and four charter schools, is part of an effort by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to motivate students to perform better academically, and reward them when they do.

Each student is receiving a Samsung flip-phone in a package specially designed with the program’s logo. The phones come loaded with 130 prepaid minutes. Good behavior, attendance, homework and test scores will be rewarded with additional minutes.

While some have criticized Fryer’s incentive programs, saying they undermine the idea of learning simply for the sake of learning, Klein has ardently defended the experiments.
Oh, one minor thing, cell phones are banned on school property.

Thankfully, the money for this pilot program was raised from private donations, so your tax dollars are not being wasted on this kinda idiocy.

You can probably already guess my opinion on this, I think it's pretty darn stupid to keep having to essentially bribe black and brown kids to get them to learn. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. Sheesh.

Here's a few noble ideas: How about perhaps reconsidering the curriculum and finding ways to teach that make learning more conducive to the types of kids you're teaching? You could make lessons more hands-on, and incorporate music and physical activities like they do at AverageMentee's school. How about finding ways to lessen the need to spend so much time preparing kids to pass standardized tests? How about keepin' it all the way real and finding ways of penalizing parents who do not show up for parent teacher conferences and do not reinforce what's being taught in school by checking their kids homework and other assignments?

Giving away prepaid cell phones (do you know how quickly a 6th grader can burn through 130 minutes? Please) just looks like another kooky way of avoiding the obvious: if these kids aren't learning, it's probably because there's no emphasis on education at home. If it's not a priority, if a kid doesn't have parents who are involved and engaged in helping them develop a hunger for learning (and I don't just mean by doing well in school), then you're always going to be fighting an uphill battle.

But that's just my severely uneducated opinion. What's yours?

Question: Is the NYC Cell Phones for C's Program a good idea? What sorta ideas would you suggest if you were superintendent?

Get good grades, get a cell phone [NYTimes]

Paying for Grades: Outside The Box Thinking or Hidden Racism? []

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tired Of Politricks? I Sure Am.

This political campaign season has been a mixed bag for It's been good for bidness. Hits, comments, exposure, etc. have increased, although it's definitely not helping my cashflow since ya'll aren't still buying nearly enough t-shirts to fund my Jamba Juice addiction child's 529 plan! Anyways, the flipside is, paying attention to the latest smear, slight, or debate has it's downside. This stuff is energy sapping and at times downright depressing. It's made me realize that in my quest to bring you guys the brand of wit and wisdom that makes an award winning blog, I've begun spending inordinate amounts of time reading, listening, talking, and thinking about politricks.

Those of you who are recent to The AverageBro Party prolly think this site is all-Obama all the time, and if you've tuned in since December 07' or so, I couldn't blame you for that assessment. But when I look up and realize I've darn near spent three straight months covering The Race For The Number One Spot 08', I know somethin', somethin', just ain't riiiigghhttt!

So, in that vein, I'm really, really, really hoping that Obama pulls a clean sweep of Ohio, Texas, and whatever other two insignificant states that are up for grabs next Tuesday. Not necessarily just because I'm PrObama, but mainly because I'm getting pretty darned sick of talkin' about all this stuff. If that happens, expect to take a looong exhale and start shifting tone. You'll see a whooole lot more Crap Music, Hollyweird, and Grand HuStles, and a whooooole lot less PoliTricks as Usual and Barry 4 Prez. Seriously.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to take a nice long hiatus from being concerned with this nonsense until around September or so. What do ya'll think?

Question: Are you getting burned out by this political campaign or is it time for AB to take a badly needed vacation?

Obama vs Farrakhan!?!

[I didn't make the image, folks. This stuff's really out there.]

Well, I knew the N.L. had to kick in sooner or later. I've been saying it for weeks. Obama's dodged all types of attacks, from condescending Hillary, to that nutjob talk show host who kept calling his middle name, to those completely unnecessary photos of him in Gap khakis and a Somali headwrap. But when Minister Louis Farrakhan quietly endorsed him Sunday, I knew this might could come back to haunt him.

Last night, the other Nike dropped.
Sen. Barack Obama denounced the recent support for his candidacy expressed Sunday by controversial minister and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

“I have been very clear in my denunciation” of Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Obama said at the Democratic debate in Cleveland, “I did not solicit his support.” Obama said he “can not censor” individual endorsements but said there is no affiliation with his campaign and Farrakhan. “I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy,” Obama said, citing his support among Jewish Americans and stating that he would make it a priority to soothe historically tense ties between the African-American and Jewish communities in the nation. “I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago and in this campaign,” he said, describing himself as a “stalwart” on supporting Israel.
The worst part of the whole exchange was when Obama was pressed by moderator Tim Russert (who played the Jew card splendidly) to say whether or not he "rejected" Farrakhan's support, he haphazardly said "I have been very clear in my denunciations of him". Distancing oneself from another person's views is one thing, but going the extra mile and distancing yourself from that person is another altogether.

Peep the video and meet me after the jump...

That sound you just heard was a million bean pies being dropped in homes across America.

I think Obama was presented with an unfair question (he never asked for Farrakhan's support in the first place, nor does he associate him) for which he was obviously unprepared. The question was the classic lose-lose proposition. Diss Farrakhan and you will maybe gain a few skeptical white supporters and lose some blacks (maybe you drop from 80% of the black vote to, say 75%). Approve of Farrakhan's endorsement, and your political career is pretty much toast. Just ask Arsenio Hall how well that one panned out.

So, Obama took the blue pill, and now he'll have to deal with the fallout from some black folks who think he threw the Minister under the bus. I can already hear the reckless talk in barbershops nationwide today.

After mulling this over a bit longer, I look at it a bit differently though. Had Farrakhan not bothered to endorse Obama the other day, he would never have been put in such a position of having to answer such a trivial and loaded question on the eve of four primaries that could potentially end this thing altogether. Not that it will likely make a difference either way, but I suspect Farrakhan is wise enough to know that he put Obama in a trick bag with his comments, and is mature enough to not see his debate response as an insult. Just peep the Minister's comments from his address the other day.
In the past, Farrakhan has sparked outrage for his controversial comments, which include anti-Semitic statements. But in recent years, most significantly after his battle with prostate cancer in the 1990s, he has tried to strike a more conciliatory tone. His popularity among young black Americans grew significantly after the 1995 Million Man March.

Farrakhan said he refused to be a stumbling block to Obama's success.

"Why do you hate him so that you want to make me a stumbling block?" Farrakhan asked. "I want to see that brother successful and I don't want them to use me or that Nation of Islam."
That said, I would expect Farrakhan to issue a statement to this effect tomorrow, which would nip this whole nonstory in the bud. If he doesn't, that's probably for the better. I would think the Obama camp wants this story in the news as little as possible.

Question: Assuming you watched the exchange in it's entirety, do you feel Obama threw Farrakhan under the bus or does it really not matter either way?

[Editor's Note: on an unrelated debate note, did anyone else catch Obama doing his best Sapphyri imitation while Clinton was discrediting his stance on Iraq? Seriously, for a good 15 seconds there, he had his hands clasped and eyes closed. I could swear he was having a "Lord, please don't make me whoop this ***** ***!" moment. I'm surprised he didn't offer Hillary any "lip chap". Ok, maybe it was just me.]

Obama's Farrakhan answer gives Clinton an opening [LA Times]

Louis Farrakhan backs Obama for president [Chicago Tribune]

Monday, February 25, 2008

An MultMedia Exposé : Saturday Night Live Has Officially Jumped The Shark.

As I've said here repeatedly, my childhood institution Saturday Night Live definitely ain't what it used to be. Most of ya'll prolly don't even realize the show is still on, and for all intents and purposes it isn't. The show hasn't even been watchable since Will Ferrell kicked rocks a few years ago. Now, it's pretty much devolved into a bunch of godawful skits (let alone funny), B-List guest hosts, and musical acts I've never even heard of. Maybe they should just rename the entire show "D" in a Box (pictured above) and repeat that somewhat funny digital short for 90 minutes. It would definitely be better than anything they've done in a long time.

Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo are crying inside.

Anyways, I pretty much forgot about the show, especially after the strike and all, but lo and behold, I look at up yesterday and the Tivo's got a new episode. The kid's asleep, I've knocked out my Honey-Do list, so I figure I'll give it a look.

It's official, this show should now be off the air. Not because this episode was particularly bad (they all are), but because the show's signature political satire, something it's always hung it's hat on, took a wild turn for the worse and actually showed rank favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. Repeatedly.

Peep this terrible, and too-long parody of last week's Texas debate. I watched the debate, and I keep CNN on lock. I don't see anything particularly partial about their treatment of Obama. Apparently the fine folks at SNL do, which might could have something to do with CNN kicking MSNBC's butt in the ratings.

Ha! Ha! So funny I forgot to laugh. And just how hard is it to get a black cast member to play Obama? Keenan Thompson (of Nickelodeon's Keenan and Kel fame) is the only brother on the show now and he's a little too big in the britches to fit the role, so the privilege went to featured player Fred Armisen, who looks the part, but fails miserably everywhere else. MadTV's Keegan-Michael Key does an Obama 10 times better, and even he doesn't nail it. So, Strike One!

After some more awful sketches that I fast forwarded past, guest host Tina Fey (who used to be an SNL cast member, but now stars on 30 Rock, TV's best comedy evar!) shoots for the hills, turning Weekend Update into a Hillary-4-Prez Infomercial. Strike Two!

Bitch is the new Black? WTH!?!?

Tina Fey is certainly entitled to her opinions, and I'd have no problem with her (or any celebrity) shilling for their candidate of choice on their own time and dime. But using a not-ready-for-prime time comedy show to make your preference known to millions (thousands?) is just wrong on so many levels. I'm apparently not the only one who thought so, because both Obama and Clinton supporters are ripping her a new one on NBC's own boards, as well as Huffington Post. What's next? Is Tracy Morgan gonna endorse Alan Keyes? Sheez.

Still, even I have limits to my own rage, because TeeVee generally sucks and Fey's show is one of the few worth tuning in to. So I'm not takin' 30 Rock off my Season Pass, but man, it'll be hard to look at this chick the same way again. One show I will be taking off Season Pass... you guessed it, SNL!

At least they redeemed themselves somewhat with this other segment on Weekend Update, starring everyone's favorite uninvited guest, Mike Huckabee.

Say what you want, but a guy who can make light of his situation like that is alright by me.

Man, MadTV's never looked more appealing.

Question: Other than the blatantly conservative Fox News, do you find any cable news outlets or newspapers clearly favoring one candidate over another? Have you actually watched SNL since the Murphy Years?

[Editor's Note: Just in case you're wondering what Jump The Shark means, here ya' go.]

‘SNL’s’ return just as expected, unfortunately [MSNBC]

Hillary Is Mad As Hell! But Does She Have A Point?

So, trailing by 4 with 3.2 seconds left in the game, Hillary goes for her desperation heave this weekend, castigating Barry Obama for an inflammatory campaign flyer.

An enraged Hillary Clinton has dramatically ratcheted up her attacks on rival Barack Obama, telling him "shame on you".

Desperately fighting to salvage her White House campaign, Senator Clinton fiercely accused Senator Obama of distributing "blatantly false" leaflets about her healthcare plan and views on the North American free trade agreement. Senator Obama coolly dismissed her attack as a political ploy.

The former first lady, who is badly trailing Senator Obama in the US presidential race and must win the next contests in Ohio and Texas on March 4, challenged him to "meet me in Ohio and let's have a debate about your tactics". She said she was deeply disappointed by the use of the "false and discredited" information because Senator Obama had promised a new style of politics.

Senator Clinton went a step further, saying he was adopting the tactics of Karl Rove, former key strategist of US President George W. Bush.
Yikes! I haven't seen a black man get his ass handed to him like that since Tyson vs McBride. Never mind the fact that the mailings in question have been out there for over 6 weeks now. I guess Hill just conveniently got angry about this now that the latest polls show Obama gaining momentum in the Buckeye state. I just can't figure out why she did this on a Saturday, when hardly anyone (but me) is home watching CNN. Monday wouldn't gotten more run, but hey, I'm talkin' about it, soooo....

That said, once you get beyond the entirely inappropriate condescending tone ("Shame On You!"? Who does this broad think she's talking to? A 3rd grader?) I wonder if Clinton's plan is actually better than Obama's, so I did a little investigative reporting and whatnot.

I'mma be 100 with ya'll, healthcare is not one of my Top 5 issues. Not by far. I've worked on the same plantation for the same employer over a decade now, and I've been blessed with excellent healthcare that covers me and the whole fam. We get top notch care from great doctors, dentists, even eye specialists. We seldom, if evar, pay anything out of pocket. So, for real, for real, I just can't relate much to this topic. Call me ignorant, or shortsighted, but it's just not something I weigh too heavily when sizing up candidates.

The general economy (and specifically my mutual funds, 401k's, profit sharing, and 529 plans for AverageToddler), well, that's a whole nother' story, and it's one I haven't heard anyone voice real solutions for.

Note to all candiates: Everybody's issue ain't just home foreclosure.

[Editor's Note: Again, I know this sounds shortsighted and selfish, but I don't really see this as being a prevailing issues in whom I'm voting for. And after all, voting is pretty much the most selfish of acts you can commit, because, hey, everyone gets the opportunity to do so, so why not vote for what you want most, others be damned? I'm just sayin', think about it.]

Anyways, in the interest of being non-biased (since some of you have accused me of being a homer), I decided to look more in depth on each candidate's plan, which lead me to a helpful article in today's Post.

Both candidates want everyone to have healthcare. Hillary advocates a plan of "individual mandates", which means you don't really have a choice, you must purchase healthcare. If you either don't want coverage (it happens, especially in my line of work when you're talking about independent contractors or new college grads) or can't afford it, you'll be hit with a penalty, which is likely going to mean garnishment of wages or federal tax refunds.

Obama's plan focuses more on forcing healthcare providers to reduce the cost of coverage, while mandating that only children be required to have coverage.

You could make arguments for either side. States already require you to have auto insurance, so why not make you pay for health insurance as well? States are forced to cover the costs of the indigent, and if more people had their own coverage, this wouldn't be as much of a drain.

On the other hand, why can't you choose to have no coverage if you don't want or need any? People, for better or for worse, drive around all day, erryday without car insurance. And if you can't afford coverage, doesn't hitting you with a financial penalty just push you that much further away from being able to eventually get insurance?

I guess at it's root, the differences in these two plans come down to the classic Republican vs Democrat debate: do you want more government or less?

Question: After learning more about the differences in each candidate's healthcare plans, which plan (assuming you care) appeals to you more? If you don't know enough about the plans, peep the link below first. Also, if healthcare isn't the biggest issue you're concerned about, what is?

Watch Hillary completely emasculate Obama in the video below. Damn, I wonder how bad Bill caught it after that whole Lewinsky snafu.

Simple Question Defines Complex Health Debate [WaPost]

Friday, February 22, 2008

AverageBro Goes To The Movies: What Black Men Think

[With a toddler, I don't get to go to the movies at all nowadays. Pre-AverageBaby, I didn't miss an opening weekend. Now, Netflix is my best friend. So, I don't see things in a timely manner, but when I do, you get the best review in town right here.]

If you've been anywhere around the web over the past year, chances are you've seen a clip or twelve from the documentary What Black Men Think. After much searching, I finally got ahold of a copy, and I'm happy to report that the documentary lives up to it's considerable advance billing.

The flick starts off on an ominous note by rolling out a cast of "experts" I'm not necessarily very fond of. Conservative talking heads like Armstrong Williams, Shelby Steele, Joseph C. Phillips, Jesse Lee Peterson, and Michael Steele are intermixed with a gaggle of everyday dudes, including director Janks Morton, who provides Michael Moore-ish narration throughout.

The documentary then dives headfirst into debunking some commonly held stereotypes about black men, by providing some historical reference to attempt to explain why we're in our current state. Morton deftly rolls out stat after stat about black male incarceration, college enrollment, causes of death, annual salaries, the down-low brother phenomenon, and even interracial marriages, then tells a deeper story behind the numbers. By intermixing man-on-the-street interviews with expert analysis, the movie goes a long way towards dispelling some very harmful misconceptions about the state of Black men in America, while not coming off as apologist. And in doing so, it inadvertently pulls off an amazing feat: it makes guys like Steele, Peterson, and Williams human, likeable even. That's worth the price of admission itself.

Still, the doc's not without it's flaws. A longwinded explanation of how the civil rights movement was undone by the "free love/me me me" movement of the late 60's falls a bit short of it's potential impact. A frank discussion about the role of black men in childbearing, and a deeper exploration of the 70% out of wedlock birth rate is largely sidestepped. And eventually the movie turns into an exploration of racism's effects on Black America as a whole. You get the feeling that it's about 15 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Minor criticisms aside, I'd highly recommend getting a copy of What Black Men Think. The production quality is slick and at a running time of 84 minutes, things never get dull. And who knows, you just might learn a new thing or two about the Average Brother in the process.

Final Verdict: What Black Men Think is an insightful behind the stats look at the state of black men in America. 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Just in case you haven't seen the excerpts, here's a refresher.

WBMT Trailer

Taalam Acey's Market For Ni@@as: NSFW Language

What Black Men Think [Official Website]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

John McCain, SuperHoe.

You know, they say politricians are the biggest freaks. History has proven this to be true to some degree. Thomas Jefferson was bangin' Sally Hemmings. JFK and his brother both got down with Marilyn Monroe. We all know about Slick Willie and his penchant for chubby Jewish chicks. So, these allegations by the New York Times about a possible extramarital snafu by Republican Democratic candidate John McCain aren't outside the realm of believability.

Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
[Editor's Note: I'm 100% sure that everything I say after this point is going to sound judgmental. Let me be clear, I could care less what this man does in his private life. He ain't my Daddy. This issue at hand is, exactly what does how he handles his private life say about the character he'll employ while making decisions that affect millions in his public life. Nothing more, nothing less.]

Let's be real here, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. Unless Jayson Blair's been quietly rehired, New York Times would be idiots to throw this sort of allegation out there without having some substance behind it. With circulation lagging, and their reputation still being repaired, they have little reason to fabricate a story. Many have suggested this is a smear campaign to stop McCain's momentum. I don't entirely buy that for a couple of reasons. Namely because the Times endorsed McCain just a few months ago, although many suspect this was largely out of spite towards Rudy Giuliani. Then there's the not-so-small matter of timing. If they wanted to deep-six McCain, wouldn't they have played this card a month or so ago when the race was still competitive, or worse, in October when he's in the midst of the general election?

There's also the small fact that McCain's done this before. It's a well known, but seldom discussed fact that McCain hooked up with this current wife, Cindy, while having an affair that resulted in the dissolution of his first marriage of 23 years. So, hearing him and his wife, who's stolen somebody else's man before, talk all this riggamorow about how he'd "never do anything to harm our family" rings a little bit hollow.

And since we're talking about Cindy McCain, who else thought her botoxed, Stepford Wives looking ass was way out of pocket going at Michelle Obama the other day?
Campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Monday, Michelle Obama said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."

In a rare move, Cindy McCain, wife of the Arizona senator, took on Michelle Obama's comment Tuesday as she introduced her husband at a rally. "I'm proud of my country, I don't know if you heard those words earlier. I'm very proud of my country," she said.

The Arizona senator also made a subtle dig at Michelle Obama's comments during his victory speech Tuesday night.

"I have never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I haven't been proud of the privilege" of being an American, McCain said in Columbus, Ohio.
Hmmmm, let's see: McCain is the heiress of a beer distributor who's never had to work for an honest paycheck her entire adult life and single handedly financed her husband's first Congressional campaign. (Oh yeah, and she once stole drugs from her own foundation, setting off a federal investigation.) Michelle Obama is an Ivy-League educated, self-made corporate success who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, sharing a bedroom with her brother, and watching a multiple sclerosis hindered father drag himself to work every morning to make ends meet.

I think it's fair to say they might have different views on how "proud" they are of this country.

Note to Cindy McCain: Stay in your lane, homegirl. You don't want none.

Oh, and for before i forget: Bill O'Reilly, just go ahead and kill yourself for that dumb assed "I Don't Want To Go On A Lynching Party Against Michelle Obama Unless There's Evidence" comment. Your career's been dead since Andrea Mackris-gate anyway. Falafel anyone?

Still, what pisses me off most is that the affair was the least incendiary item in the Times article. In a society obsessed with who's sleeping with who, it's predictable that the media would run that aspect of the story, but what about all the other really questionable stuff dropped in there?
Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.

By 2002, he had succeeded in passing the McCain-Feingold Act, which transformed American politics by banning soft money, the unlimited donations from corporations, unions and the rich that were funneled through the two political parties to get around previous laws.

One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of bad publicity after news reports of the arrangement.
Again, if you're concerned about character flaws, don't get tied up on the carnal stuff and miss the forest for the trees.

Question: Do you care about a politician's extramarital bidness or does it make no difference? Are you concerned about some of the other ethical issues raised about McCain in this article?

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk [NY Times]

McCain vs Obama...Cindy vs Michelle, That Is [ABCNews]

Bill O'Reilly: "I Don't Want To Go On A Lynching Party Against Michelle Obama Unless There's Evidence" [Huffington Post] (props to my girl C.T. for the link)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just A Few More Reasons To Dislike Hillary Clinton: An MultiMedia Exposé - Sponsored By Walmart™

At, I've made no bones about my distrust of the Clintons, and why I don't feel Hillary is worth my vote, should she miraculously steal win the Democratic nomination. Of course, after losing 10 straight contests, she's about as likely to win the election as my Washington Wizards are to win the NBA title this year. For the NBA-unhip, that means it's technically possible, but prolly won't happen. On that note, I present to you, the first (last?) evar MultiMedia Exposé Sponsored By Walmart™ - A Few More Reasons To Dislike Hillary Clinton.

EXHIBIT A: Pander Express

Last week, in the wake of that Potomac Primary a$$-whipping, I sagely predicted that Hillary would step up her Pander-game for the great state of Texas. No sooner than you can say Nachos BellGrande, out comes Mrs. Black President with a junior mariachi band member.

Ceasar Chavez is crying inside.

EXHIBIT B: Black Kids Are Not Feelin' This Campaign Either.

Sick and tired of being used as props for Black History Month photo ops, black kids are revolting at middle schools nationwide. Apparently Hillary doesn't recall that an 8 year old has no logical reference for the good ole' days of Clinton I. Nope, all Lil' Mama knows is "this white woman better get her hand off my shoulder, or somebody is bout' to catch a juicebox beatdown!"

EXHIBIT C: Corny Assed Campaign Theme Songs

As ya'll know, I was no fan of that godawful Will.I.Am produced "Yes, We Can" video. That was so bad it made me long for "We All In The Same Gang", which is no small feat. Still, the extreme douchebaggery of this ode-to-Clinton makes "Yes, We Can" sound like Songs In The Key Of Life by comparison.

EXHIBIT D: There's No Crying In Politricks!

Seriously, I'm for gender equity and all, but there's no excuse for this. Men can't cry publicly unless sports are involved and then only if they've just won a championship. Just google the name "darius washington" and tell me what you get back.

EXHIBIT E: Pander Express - The Sequel

Just when you thought it was same to go back to your neighborhood AME Zion Fourth Baptist Chuuuch of God's Disciples In Christ's Name Hallelujah, The Pander Express arrives and Hillary morphs into Shirley Ceasar.

EXHIBIT F: The Cackle

Like fingers on a chalkboard.

EXHIBIT G: The Walmart Factor.

Hillary and Bill have gotten rich off their ties to Walmart.

It's no surprise that Hillary is a strong supporter of free trade with China. Wal-Mart, despite its "Buy American" advertising campaign, is the single largest U.S. importer, and half of its imports come from China.

Remember this the next time she touts "bringing jobs back to America".

Wal-Mart’s First Lady [VillageVoice]

EXHIBIT H: Black Kids Are Not Feelin' This Campaign Either - The Sequel.

Ok, so I know that's not a Clinton, that's President Bush. But I've been holding onto that picture for months and needed to do something with it, so there. Still, even childrens' B.S. Meters go off over this type of politricks. You get my point either way.

Question: Do you have your own reasons for disliking Hillary Clinton? Pile on, you know where. Got more pics to add? Email em' to me. Link is above on right.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Losing Momentum? Is Obama's N.L. About To Kick In!??!

I've got a really, really, really shaky feeling about today's Wisconsin Democratic Primary. You can call me pessimistic, but something tells me our boy is about to get tripped up tonight. On paper, Wisconsin is the sort of place Obama typically succeeds: It's Midwestern and overwhelmingly white, just like Minnesota, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, etc. All places where he's blown Clinton out of the water. So, this should be a shoe-in, right?

Well, maybe not.

The other night, I was watching that American Gladiators show on NBC (more on that later). I've tuned in a couple of times over the last few weeks and watched a humble black woman from Atlanta named Shanay work her way up to the Finals. I just knew Shanay was gonna take the whole thing, but wouldn't you know it, N.L. kicked in, and she ended up losing the whole thing in the final competition. This strange phenomenon also seems to happen every time a black person is winning heading into Final Jeopardy too. Steve McNair's N.L. always kicked in during a big game. In short, our luck just seems to run out at the most inopportune of times.

I'm just sayin', Obama might could catch an "L" tonight.

The March 4th primaries in Ohio and Texas have long been talked about as the crisis point for both campaigns, but something told me this was shortsighted. With time to burn and a couple of comparatively minor primaries before then to short-circuit Obama's momentum, I knew The Clinton Machine would kick into full attack mode, and start dredging up some ole' B.S. And of course, although the pickin's are slim, they've done what they could with what they've got. There was the dumb "speeches don't get things done" comment the other day, the "media" claiming Obama followers are "cult-like", then tagging Obama with borrowing a few lines (not those kinds of lines) from his boy Deval Patrick without crediting him. Today, I'm listening to this local talk radio bozo manipulate a soundbite of a Michelle Obama speech and thus suggest that she's Un-American.

Michelle Obama proclaimed yesterday that for the first time in her adult life, she was proud of America, as she spoke during a rally to support her husband’s presidential bid.

While Barack Obama spent yesterday deflecting accusations from Hillary Clinton’s campaign of plagiarizing part of a speech delivered in 2006 by Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick, Mrs. Obama made her own headlines.

Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change, she said during a rally in downtown Milwaukee.

I have seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues and it has made me proud, she told supporters.
Curiously missing from this account, and the version being played on the radio: the word "really". Listen to this YouTube video, and you can clearly hear the unnecessary jump cut between the words "I'm" and "proud".

Seriously, WTH?!?

It's becoming extremely clearer by the day that lots, and I do mean lots, of people do not want this man to become President. And by people, I don't necessarily mean Clintons only.

You'd like to think sane, rational Americans are wise enough to look right through this stuff, but reality is, politicians run attack campaigns because they have proven time after time to work. Especially when you can successfully work in race in a way that makes you not seem racist (or if you do come off as racist, who cares?). Willie Horton, anyone?

So, when I saw one poll last night suggest that Clinton leads Obama in Wisconsin by 6pts, I wasn't surprised. This is politricks as usual, and the stakes have never been higher.

Barry, you're swimming with the sharks now, bruh.

Question: Do you think The Obama Express is about to have a head-on collision with N.L.? If you're unsure what the heck N.L. stands for, email me. But still, answer the question, do you think Obama will win Wisconsin?

Michelle Obama finally proud of America [Boston Herald]

He Said, He Said: Did Obama Plagiarize Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick? [FoxNews]

Monday, February 18, 2008

There's An Election In Progress and T-Shirts to Sell. Where's Diddy!?!?

[Exhibit C in our ongoing Why You Should Never Ask A Rapper About Politricks series]

Waaaay back in 04', Sean "Diddy/P.Diddy/Puffy/Extreme Impregnator" Combs launched Citizen Change, his nonpartizan organization to encourage voter participation among youth. He was everywhere, from MTV, to Oprah, to CNN, extolling the virtues of the electoral process, and promising to remain engaged. The end result of this campaign was debatable: some say it was pointless hucksterism. Some say Diddy helped spur young GOP voters who kept Bush in office. But most of you prolly just remember those tacky, overpriced Vote or Die T-Shirts.

Still, 4 years later, here we are in the midst of an historic (but then again, aren't they all?) race for the Democratic candidacy, an economy in turmoil, a still sketchy Iraq situation, and the man everyone's looking to for answers (!) is nowhere to be found.

In short, where the heck is Diddy!?!?

Sure, he's still busy being the fake CEO of Bad Boy records. But seriously, who's the last artist that dropped an album from Bad Boy not named Christopher Wallace?

Cassie? Yung Joc? I hear Carl Thomas is working at UPS now. Sheesh.

Can't Stop, Won't Stop, huh?

One area where Combs really can't stop, and better not stop is paying that child support. Dude has done some Shawn Kemp sized babymaking the past couple of years, and coupled with his recent split from his live-in baby moms, he apparently is writing some hellacious checks at the end of each month. One publication suggested this was as much as $100k/month for one of his children's mothers. So, needless to say, the man obviously has more pressing issues to attend to.

Still, completely missing in action when there's a black man and well connected white woman running? How could he pass up the opportunity to sell more of those $45 shirts when the money's right there for the taking? Where is Sean Combs? Noted Hip Hop Journalist Davey D recently blogged about this and shed some light on the whole situation. of the glaring omissions from all this has been Sean 'P-Diddy' Combs. For the life of me I can't figure out why the guy who sold lots of t-shirts, started an organization called Citizen Change and coined the catchy phrase 'Vote or Die' has been M.I.A. Why has Diddy been absent from the hoopla surrounding an election that may go down in history?

We know he caught all sorts of heat after the 2004 election. Most notably from talk show pundits like like MSNBC's Chris Mathews and Fox News'Sean Hannity who both crucified and mocked Diddy. They asserted that the youth vote he sought to deliver did not turn out in high numbers and and as a result he failed to get Bush out of office.

The truth of the matter is that high numbers of young voters did come out. Organizations like CIRCLE bore this out. When Diddy kicked off Citizen Change he said he wanted to get 20 million young voters to the polls. His figures were in synch with other youth oriented organizations. Close to 21 million showed up.

I've not been able to get an answer as to where and why he disappeared off the political landscape. The recent stories that came out around his last album 'Press Play' didn't address that issue except in one instant where he said he vaguely suggested that he was going to return.

The rumor mill and speculations have run the gauntlet with some asserting that he was running out of money and that Citizen Change was just another unnecessary added expense. Others have noted that he was extremely embarrassed by the assessment put upon on by media pundits who claimed he failed. Many have written Diddy off and said that he was never fully committed and that he simply got bored with politics and moved on.
Interesting read, you may wanna peep it when you get a chance.

Since we're on the topic though, here's today's question.

Question: Do celebrity endorsements hold any weight with you? Does knowing who your favorite entertainer/athlete/celeb endorses make you see that person differently or does it really make no difference whatsoever?

Weigh in early and often, you know where.

[Editor's Note: Diddy quietly issued a Super Tuesday press release urging young'ins to go vote last week, but still hasn't been seen yet. Don't let that deter you from answering today's question though.]

Where the Hell is Diddy During this Historic Election? [Davey D Blog]

Friday, February 15, 2008

My New, Very Guilty Addiction: Def Jam ICON

Okay, guilty indulgence time. After two years of me dropping thinly veiled hints and waiting for the price to drop (not to mention those bugs), AverageSis finally bought me a PlayStation 3 for Christmas. Except for AverageToddler, this was prolly the bestest present I've gotten since I was in like primary school or something.

I'm not too big on playing anything other than sports games with the limited time I do have (specifically NBA 2K8 and College Hoops 2K8), which means I don't really really take prime advantage of the real power of the system. But I'm just not really into those shoot em' up and fighting games. Or so I thought. The other day I found myself in my local GameStop, which is more or less a used video game store. While perusing the shelves for a pre-owned copy of Madden 08' (games for this thing are like $59, so why not buy a used copy for much less?), I stumbled across Def Jam ICON, the latest in a series of rap music influenced fighting games branded by the actual music label. The game allows you to choose popular rappers like Ludacris, T.I., Lil' Jon, Big Boi from Outkast, Mike Jones, Fat Joe, etc. and put them in typical hip-hop environments (the club, the trap, but sadly not the mall) where they duke it out Fight Club-style.

Righteous dude that I am, I just couldn't resist the temptation of bringing motion picture styled black-on-black violence right into my own home. I mean, it was only $17!

Check this out. Warning: NSWF Language and Violence, so cop those headphones first.


Even better is the Build A Label feature that allows you to design your own low level henchman, work your way into an A&R job by beating up paparazzi and shady management for rappers like Paul Wall, and eventually juggle the day-to-day operations of your label, allocating funds for airplay, promotions, etc. As you work you way up you can "date" groupies, and amass material goods, outfitting your character in the latest gear, jewels, and tatts. It's like a 50 Cent album come to (virtual) life.

Awww hell, who are we kidding: This is all about the fighting!!!

Black men run over other black men with 64 Impalas on 30 inch rims. Black men throw other black men against a wall of speakers in a strip club. Black men slam other black men's heads into baby grande pianos. It is sensationalized, over the top intraracial violence at it's best (worst?), and I am SOOOO addicted to it.

But as soon as I turn the game off, I start feeling really, really guilty. Of course my son (nor for that matter wife) is never around when I'm playing it, but something just feels soooo wrong about the whole thing. Would I feel differently if the game was Asians beating up Guatemalans or something? Maybe, but I can't really say since I'm not well versed enough in other similar fighting games to make that call.

Since I know many of my AverageCommenters are non-gamers, two questions today.

1. Non-Gamer's Question: Do you have a potentially questionable guilty addiction? If so, share it you know where.

2. Gamer's Question: Should I feel a tinge of regret at playing this ultra-violent game, and if I don't, what does that say about my (or anyone else's) regard for the value of a black life? In short, should I stop playing this game or is it merely harmless fun?

Weigh in early and often, you know where.

Def Jam ICON Website []

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tavis Smiley Has The Crabs

[Crabs-In-A-Barrel Syndrome, that is. Image shamelessly jacked from]

Man, this one really, really hurts. I haven't been this disappointed in another black man since Kobe snitched on Shaq.

I can accept, and to some degree understand how civil rights era relics icons like Julian Bond, Andrew Jackson, and John Lewis blindly follow the Clintons. I can understand how self-servers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson remain opportunistically neutral. I can accept birdbrained rappers like 50 Cent and Nas spouting their usual Negro Nonsense. But for a contemporary like Tavis Smiley to manufacture a petty beef with the Obama campaign is beyond comprehension.

I don't usually believe anything I read on MediaTakeOut, or anything I hear on The Michael Baisden Show, but when there's actual audio to back up the claims, I gotta conclude that this is true.
Apparently Tavis Smiley is upset that Barack Obama didn't come and kiss his booty before announcing that he's running for president. Since then, Tavis has been publicly criticizing the Democratic front-runner.

But things all came to a head a few days ago. You see, Tavis put out the word that he wanted both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to attend his State Of Black America conference in Louisiana this week. Barack reached out to Tavis and explained to him that he's busy campaigning in States with upcoming primaries, so he can't make it over to Tavis' event. And he offered to have his wife Michelle attend the event in his place.

Well that wasn't good enough for Tavis - who put the word out that Michelle Obama is not welcome at the event. According to Tavis - if Barack can't attend, he didn't want Michelle there either.
I mean, c'mon Tavis. We know how important the Annual Soundbyte Olympics™ State Of The Black Union is to you, but I also it's pretty understandable that Obama not attend. I mean, seriously, it's not like he doesn't have something more important to do, with Texas and Ohio on the horizon and whatnot. Give the brotha a pass, dag. And what rule book says the man's wife can't just show up on his behalf? AverageSis saw Mrs. O. speak earlier this week here in the DC urreah and was mesmerized.

I may be missing something in the equation here, but Obama has made every Smiley/Joyner debate during this campaign. John McCain, however, followed the rest of the then-Republican frontrunners and completely stood Tavis up on nationwide TV during that PBS debate at Morgan State a few months back. I wonder if he'll uninvite Cindy McCain while he's at it. I'm not holding my breath though.

I could obviously bash Tavis for only looking out for self here at the expense of the bigger picture (duh, there's a black man in the midst of a serious run for the White House here!), but reality is, I'm so disappointed in him, I'd rather just end this post now.

MLK Is Crying Inside.

Question: Did Tavis drink a gallon of Haterade, or does he have a point?

Bonus: Obama also didn't make last year's State of The Black Union. He just happened to be announcing his candidacy that day. Watch Cornell West and Tavis rip him a new one.

Michelle Obama Discusses Tavis Slight On The Michael Baisden Show [Audio]


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

AverageBro Does NPR

So, today was the big day. Step One in AverageBro's Master Plan For Absolute Media Domination began with my virgin appearance on NPR's News and Notes with Farai Chideya. As I told you folks the other day, it's in my nature to be a bit nervous about this kinda stuff. Although I always seem to end up just fine, whether it's public speaking, Day Job presentations, etc. I always tend to get a case of the Bubbleguts anyway. This morning was no exception.

Note to Self: Lay off the spare ribs.

Anyways, I was a little concerned about the weather, and whether or not this might effect my ability to get out of the cul de sac and journey to NPR's Chinatown studios. Yesterday looked like something out of one of this "end of the world" movies. My car was iced over, the roads looked like a hockey rink. Thankfully, the precip turned to pure rain, and by noon I was on my way downtown. Crisis diverted.

Since I'm trying to make a good impression, of course I leave the crib with plenty of time to spare (I'm working a half-day, from home). But wouldn't you know it, Murphy's Law kicks in, and since the ice is still pretty bad most rooftop spots are closed, and my usual Metro parking deck is full, leaving only the 2 Hour slots available. By now, it's getting dangerously late, and I'm getting jive nervous. Showing up late for your first time on a show is a really good way of ensuring there will be no second time.

I traverse the parking deck twice before it finally clicks that I'm not gonna find a spot, and leaving the car in two hour parking is a guaranteed $50 ticket. So, I leave the car running, and step out to try and finesse one of the parking attendants into letting me slide. With my medium complexion and occasionally wild hair, I can pass for Ethiopian in a pinch (I've done it before), so I try and win favor with the guy, whose nametag is an odd and unpronouncable combination of lots of consonants.

"C'mon man! Let me slide. I prolly won't be any more than 2 1/2 hours tops."

"Sorry, Two Hours. Anything more is a ticket."

So much for diasporic relations.

After one final pass through the lot, it's really really getting late, and the prospect that I might could actually miss the show has me really panicking. I finally bite the bullet, leaving the inexpensive Metro lot to valet park in another office building. On the way out, I mean mug Mr. Too Many Consonants as I drive by the admin office. He grills me back.

Marcus Garvey would be proud.

After leaving my car with the valet attendants (a whopping $12!), I hop the train and hope for the best timewise. I start fidding with my BlackBerry to take my mind off my inpending demise. My sportstalk mailing list at work is buzzing about this Roger Clemens nonsense, and it looks like Jason Kidd is about to be traded. It's great to know my co-workers are able to chime in on such important subjects while billing clueless saps $350/hour. I'm sure our CEO is somewhere smiling about that one.

Alas, my Red Line commute to Gallery Place/Chinatown is quicker than expected, which leaves me time to grab a Grande Mocha Choco-Latte Iced Chai Green Tea with Soy and Vanilla from you-know-where. The walk to the angular NPR building (pictured above) is short and uneventful from there. When I arrive in the lobby, the security folks just happen to be on the phone with my local contact (Farai's show is done live from NPR West in Culver City, CA), which I take as a good thing. They instruct me to cop a squat in the lobby and that my contact will be out to escort me up shortly.

"How long?" I ask.

"About 35 minutes. You're really early."

35 Minutes!?!? I thought I was late! Argghhh!

So, I lay low in the cushy leather chairs in NPR's main lobby for the next half hour, watching a pretty entertaining montage of photos of show hosts that is being projected on a wall. It's pretty slick stuff, and reminds me just how many hosts and shows are on NPR. There's Kojo Nmadi. And Michele Martin. And Farai, smiling like she has the greatest job in the world. There are literally hundreds of these things. In the interest of full disclosure: I don't listen to NPR much at all. Maybe I should.

Anyways, as I'm perusing my crib sheet for the 128th time, I finally hear myself called.

"Jay Andrews?" says an affable Anthony Anderson looking dude from behind the security door. Since I'm the only one waiting, I assume that's me, mangled last name and all. I follow the dude upstairs, into the studio, and suddenly it hits me. I need a bio break.

Darn that Grande Mocha Choco-Latte Iced Chai Green Tea with Soy and Vanilla!

After getting that out of the way, I settle into the soundbooth, and am immediately greeted by the voice of the NPR producer who recruited me for the show booming through my headset.

"Greetings, Jay. Tell us how the weather in DC is today."

"Uhhh, it's still pretty icy, and blah blah blah..." I say, prattling on and about for a few seconds until I realize this is nothing more than a sound check. Next thing I know, there's some crunk/hyphy music cued, and the Blogger's Rountable segment, which closes the show, begins. Farai goes through some basic setup, running through the list of hot topics (politricks, Nas, black bloggers on the come up) that I'd cribbed the night before. I have my written list of "zingers" rared and ready. Then she throws the first softball to me and catches me completely off guard.

I expected a question about the Democratic race, specifically something about the Potomac Primary, but Farai asks me a question about how the possibilty of Obama winning is becoming realer for many voters now. Without really thinking, I launch into a nonspecific rant about how many black weren't checking for Obama until the Clintons started acting up, and how the momentum from Iowa, SC, and Super Tuesday is now convincing many to get on board. It's technically a good answer, but midway through talking, I realize that Farai intentionally set me up, based on having read my Politricks of Dreaming post last week. Instead of knocking it out the park on my first at bat, it's a sacrifice fly to center field. Rats.

The convo shifts to my co-guests, Carmen from AllAboutRace and DJ Black Adam over the next few minutes. They cover the prediscussed items about Obama's momentum, whether or not attacking family members of candidates is off limits, and how urban colloquialisms like "Pimpin'" and "Bling Bling" have jumped the shark into MSM. This goes on for like 4-5 minutes, as Farai goes back and forth between Carmen and DJ Adam repeatedly. I'm beginning to wonder if she just might could have forgotten I was on the phone. When the topic turns to Nas, and she cues Adam for another blurb, I'm really convinced I've been ethered on air. That lazy, unthoughtful and unsightful first answer has pretty much ruined my radio career before it starts. I try to laugh extra loud after one of Adam's quips, and contemplate just plain butting in to reassert myself. The ship be sinkin'.

Then, suddenly, like the consumate pro she is, Farai (who clearly knows what she's doing and is in total control of the guests and clock at all times) kicks the Nas question over to me. This is my opportunity to regain my footing.

I go with my prewritten quips...

"Nas hasn't made a good album since the Clinton Administration." I get some giggles on the other line. Base hit.

"When your album titles are more exciting than your actual albums, you've really got a problem." More giggles. Double.

"We can't expect anything thought provoking from a guy who bases his political opinions off forwarded chain emails." Outright laughter. Triple.

"What's he gonna rap about next? Getting a check from Bill Gates for forwarding that email to everyone in his address book?" Crickets. Chirp. Strikeout.

Thankfully, Farai keeps the ball rolling by kicking it back to Carmen, who provides some more insight, and before I know it, our segment is wrapping up. Time was apparently short, so we didn't cover the Black Bloggers in MSM angle, which is good cause I didn't really have anything to say there.

Overall, I walked down Mass Avenue afterwards thinking my maiden voyage on National Public Radio was pretty good. Yeah, I had a hiccup or two, but with a brilliant host and two guests who carried my dead weight, I think the net result was still pretty good radio. Looking forward to the next time, assuming they invite me back.

Let's all cross our fingers.

Question: After listening to the show, do you think AB will be invited back?

Peep the Audio from NPR's News and Notes with Farai Chideya's Blogger's Roundtable: February 13th, 2008 []

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama Sweeps The DMV

To the surprise of very few, Barack Obama looks like he'll be pulling a sweep in today's Potomac Primary. Despite hella bad weather here in DC, the pollsters are calling this a record turnout, which I guess is indicative of just how energized voters feel about this campaign.

On that note, I can't help but wonder if this latest run has buried Clinton for good. While Obama packed arenas from Baltimore to Richmond, Clinton could barely fill up the local public library. While Obama was practically ubiquitous around these parts the last couple of days, Clinton did a half-assed job and pretty much mailed it in. Most are predicting Obama will win the Wisconsin as well, which means the March 4th primaries in Texas and Ohio are shaping up to be Hillary's own personal Waterloo. If she can't stop the Big Mo' there, or April 22nd in Pennsylvania, it's pretty much lights out.

That said, we all know momentum is fleeting. I just watched my Washington Wizards blow a 23 point lead last night and lose to the Golden State Warriors. I darn near destroyed my remote control off that one. So the next couple of weeks before these major primaries will prove a crucial time for both camps. Will Obama find a way to translate winning the Hispanic vote in Virginia into success with a very different type of Latinos in Texas? Can Hillary stop the bleeding? Inquiring minds want to know.

My theory is the Clinton camp will pump up the Hispanic pandering (look for lots of photo ops of Hillary eating chimichangas surrounded by kids in sombreros) and ratchet up the attacks in the weeks leading up to Texas. One that note, I found a pretty cool Wiki-type page that catalogs all race-related Clinton vs Obama slights thus far. It's interesting stuff, and I expect the list to keep on growing.

Question: What does Obama need to do to win more of the Hispanic vote in Texas? Is there any hope for the Clinton campaign? Will Mike Huckabee ever throw in the towel? Did Alan Keyes get a single vote in his home state today? Take your pick, and weigh in early and often you-know-where.

[Editor's Note: Be sure to join me and my fellow bloggers tomorrow (Wednesday the 13th) on NPR's News and Notes with Farai Chideya, airing around 1:30pm EST on your local affiliate. We'll be discussing the Potomac Primaries, Nas' N-Word Fiasco, and the growing influence of Black Bloggers. See ya' then!]

Obama takes Virginia to stretch winning streak over Clinton [AP]

The Clinton/Obama Incident Tracker

Why You Should Never Ask A Rapper About Politricks: Exhibit B

[Warning: Gratitutous use of the "N-Word" ahead. Consider yourself warned!]

Nas, whose album titles are far more interesting than his albums nowadays, has an album called Nigger coming out sometime soon. Considering the upheaval at Def Jam records, and the generally bad numbers in the music industry as a whole right now, "sometime soon" could just as well mean 2010. But of course, that didn't stop Nas from using last night's Grammys to get some free pub, while making a political statement.

Exactly what his politcal statement is, I'm still trying to figure out.
Never one to steer clear of controversy, Nas wore a T-Shirt to the Grammy Awards last night featuring the title of his new album ‘Nigger.’

Despite protests from some quarters, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Nas is seemingly intent on pushing the title of the record. His wife Kelis was also at the ceremony wearing a jacket emblazoned with the divisive album title.

Speaking to CNN at the industry bash, Nas defended his fashion choice, saying: "Its all the experiences we go through every day, of all ethnicities - Black, White, indifferent.

“We’ve all at some point felt discriminated on, whether it's in Dominican Republic, whether it's in China, whether it's in Iraq with soldiers getting their heads blown off for reasons we don’t know why. The meaning of the word is supposed to be ignorant.

“So no longer are Black people still niggers, it’s also me and you (a white correspondent). I want people to think about what I’m thinking about today.”
Peep the video and note how comically uncomfortable the interviewer is with getting anywhere close to saying "The N Word".

Uh, Earth to Nasir Jones: The Voting Rights Act is a permanent federal law, which allows the right for everyone to vote, regardless of race. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 which covers some minor pre-clearance requirement of Section 5, the authority to use federal observers, and some of the statute’s language was extended last year. I suppose it's never too early to start worrying about it being renewed in 24 more years (not exactly the 23 noted here), but in the grand scheme of things, if that's the biggest of your problems, then clearly you're doing a lot better than the rest of us. Nas probably also knows some Nigerians who want to give him some money if he just emails them back, and also is expecting a check from Microsoft for all those forwarded emails any moment now.

Talk about Barbershop K-Nowledge at it's worst. Damn.

Then again, what else do you expect. It's not like Nas is sitting around everyday reading the NY Times. And that's a shame, cause if he did, he would already know this album is doomed to fail, just by virtue of it's name. There is no way in hades Walmart, Tar-jay, and whatever bargain retailer of choice is gonna put that one on the shelves. Just imagine the embarassment...

[scene: suburban kid in line at local Walmart...]

Uptight Cashier: "Damnit, this CD isn't scanning. Price check on 6!"

Black Clerk: "Uhhm, yeah, what is it?"

Uptight ashier: "Yeah, go get me the price on this album, Nigga."

Black Clerk: "Muth***** say WHUT!??!"

[and... scene]

Needless to say, this could get a little ugly. On the bright side, Al Sharpton would rack up, which I suppose is a good thing.

I'm sure that once all the weed smoke clears, Nas will say the album's trying to make some grand cultural statement about how a simple six letter word encapsulates the systematic oppression of a people for 400+ years, and how it's modern day effects are just as toxic, and whatnot, blah blah. And I'll just remember that this is the same Nas who made a gangbang anthem a few years ago (what did you think Oochie Wallie was about?), and the same Nas who hasn't said anything interesting since Illmatic, which was only, ohhh, more than a decade ago.

Nice try Nas, but we'll pass my Nigger. Maybe you should consider the same.

And before I forget, your bubbleheaded wife is thisclose to getting issued a H.S.D.

Reading, folks. It's called reading. It ain't Kryptonite. Try it sometime.

Question: Do you have any idea what the hell Nas is talking about?

Looks like Nas had a Super Bowl commercial pubbing his album that Fox refused to run. Peep this.

Nas Wears 'N*gger' T-Shirt To Grammys [Gigwise]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why The NAACP Stays Losing: Exhibit B

The NAACP Image Awards are just as much of a joke as the once venerable organization itself. I finally figured this out a few years ago when I looked at their list of nominees and found Robert Kelly nominated for singer of the year, and that child who played Baby Girl on The Bernie Mac Show nominated for Best Supporting Actress. I mean, seriously, R. Kelly shouldn't be nominated for anything other than castration. And nominating a 6 year old girl for an award? WTH? I guess Toni Childs from Girlfriends didn't do enough with her lines that year.

Still, just when I figured the NAACP couldn't possibly make itself anymore of a punchline, along comes the latest gaffe.

D.L. Hughley will host the 39TH NAACP IMAGE AWARDS on Thursday, Feb. 14 on FOX, it was announced today by Vicangelo Bulluck, executive producer of the telecast.

"I'm very excited that D.L. Hughley will host the 39th NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. He is an everyman's political satirist who brings humor and insight to the issues and concerns that face us as a nation," said Bulluck.

Hughley has earned his reputation as a true king of comedy. He currently stars in his fourth one-hour special for HBO entitled "Unapologetic." Taped before a live audience at the historic Lincoln Theater in Washington, D.C., the special features Hughley's take on humorous topics including: the immigration debate, airplane restrictions, freedom of speech, the price of gasoline, the NRA and more.
I mean, seriously, I know the ship's been out to sea since Kwesi was busted having sex with a subordinate rolled out, but dag. Are you seriously telling me they couldn't find someone better than D.L. Hughley?

Lest some of you think I'm doing my usual "tearing down of another successful black man", let's not forget what Hughley did last year, amidst very little fanfare.

I mean, c'mon now. This in the NAACP Image Awards. Why would you have a host who took such unapologetic glee at trashing the black female image last year? Hughley hasn't bothered backing off his original statement, despite some low level protests last year. Of course, we know this is all about show anyway, the NAACP just wants someone to watch their annual horse and pony show so folks know they're important, and you know how insecure people need constant affirmation.

Then again, I suppose it's possible that D.L. Hughley is just the best possible host they could get. I mean, seriously, if you look at the list of nominees themselves, it just underscores how bad the TV and Movie game is for black talent right now. I mean, when the (other) golddigger chick from Girlfriends, and that Mowry twin on The Game are nominated, it just illuminates the slim pickins'. Peep the list below, it's pretty darned sad.

Ida B. Wells is crying inside.

Question: Do you think there's anything wrong with D.L. Hughley hosting the NAACP Image Awards?

D.L. Hughley to Host NAACP Image Awards

39th Annual NAACP Image Awards Nominees

AB's First Time

Get your minds out the gutter folks, this ain't that kinda website. Nope, I'm talking about my first appearance on NPR's News and Notes with Farai Chideya, which I told you guys last week, is adding me as an occasional contributor to their weekly Blogger's Roundtable. If you're interested in listening in, the show airs live Wednesday (2/13) around [CORRECTION!] 1:30pm EST on your local NPR affiliate. If you miss it, of course like everything nowadays, it'll be archived so you can throw it on your iPod and clown me in perpetuity. I'll be sure to shoot ya'll the audio link.

Needless to say, like anything you're doing for the first time, I'm maybe just a little bit nervous about being on national radio and speaking to millions at once. I've done some production work for local radio in a past (hint), so I know the behind-the-scenes hustle that results in the final product you consume in your car. They say "legislation and sausage are two things you never want to see being made". Throw "making good radio" in there too.

This experience already feels different for many reasons. First and foremost, I'm the on-air talent now, and opposed to the man sitting next to the (wo)man. Then, the fine folks at NPR are top notch professionals who handle all the grunt work and free the talent (that would be me) up to just do what they do. Finally, they're throwing me on with a couple of seasoned pros (DJ Black Adam and Carmen from All About Race) for my first appearance. So, I shouldn't really be nervous about anything.

Still, it's live radio, and despite how prepared you are, Murphy's Law applies just as it does elsewhere in life. Despite all my best intentions, pre-written zingers, and thoroughly considered opinions, I could always bomb. It's happened to me before (albeit not in this medium). It's happened to other bloggers on NPR too, like my homey The Assimilated Negro , who "crashed and burned" when his made his first (only?) appearance on another NPR show, Michele Martin's Tell Me More last year. He wrote a post about it, like ta' read it (you should, it's entertaining stuff), the link's below.

AverageOlderSibling told me to just go up there and be myself. After all, none of other participants will physically be in the DC NPR studios with me (they're either in the Midwest or LA), so I won't exactly have to be concerned with watching people's reactions. If I just go in there and be the overly opinionated ghetto snob I am, errythang will work out just fine.

Sound advice if I've ever heard it. That's what big brothers are for.

See ya'll Wednesday.

Crash & Learn on NPR [The Assimilated Negro]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Audacity Of Help: AB Volunteers For Obama

We Got Your Back, Playa!!

[Editor's Note: This post is pretty lengthy, so if you're one to complain about such things, print this one out and save it for after lunch. It's also not really a "post" in the traditional sense of how I usually get down around here. Instead, it's really just my recollection of my experience volunteering for the Obama campaign this weekend. Maybe it'll remove some of the mystique of the whole process and encourage you to assist with your favorite candidate's campaign. Maybe it'll just be a colossal waste of 15 mins. I hope you read it either way.]

Anyone following this site clearly knows who endorses for President. I'm decidedly pro-Obama, and unapologetically anti-Clinton. Part (but definitely not most) of the allure of voting for Obama is tied to his promise of a "new type of politics". If that's true, and I believe it is, then this "new type of politics" also calls for a new type of voter. To me, this means I not only need to get behind the campaign I endorse with my vote, I also need to support it in more tangible ways.

Politricks to Translation: Get off your behind. And write a check while you're at it.

I gave money to the campaign many, months ago. While my massive $5 $500 pledge obviously helped the campaign financially, that was just the start. Yes, campaigns thrive off monetary contributions, but an equally necessary, though far less publicized component of a successful campaign is volunteering. In short, how much free labor can you get to fill in the gaps that your campaign funding can't cover.

So, in the interest of being a grown man fully engaged voter, this weekend I decided to put my free time where my mouth is, and spend a few hours volunteering with the Obama campaign in advance of Tuesday's Potomac Primary (which sounds so much better than Chesapeake Primary. Seriously, What doofus came up with that name?).

Anyways, after registering online a few weeks ago, I reported to my closest Obama campaign regional office not really knowing what to expect. When I arrived at the nondescipt downtown office building, I headed to the information desk in the lobby, which was manned by a youthful white dude named (what else?) Chad. And I immediately smelled a setup.

"Do you have a car?" Chad asked, without even bothering to ask me anything about what sort of activity I desired to help with.

"Uhh, Yeah." I replied without really thinking first.

"Ok, just stand to the side here and we'll get back with you in a moment." said Chad, motioning as if herding cattle.

"Don't I need to follow those guys to training?"

"Uhhh, no, just wait right there." He said, again pointing me to a seat beside an elderly white guy.

This felt hella suspect, because just moments before I walked up, I saw a large group of other volunteers whisked from the info desk down a hallway marked with a handwritten sign that said "Training". Why I was being asked to stand to the side made my Negro Antenna go up. Again, this being my first time, I only really had a vague idea of what garden variety volunteers like we are usually asked to do. Neither sounded particularly appealing from the jump.

Door-to-Door canvassing involves taking the campaign's message to the streets. You're given a list of registered Dems in a certain area and a basic "script" for how to engage voters and inform them about the campaign if needed. This is considered the most effective form of campaigning, since it's been proven that people are more apt to accept information when delivered in person. But while I'm obviously down with the cause and all, it was low 30's and very windy outdoors in the DC Urreah. And as I'm prone to so as a Southerner, I underdressed. The prospect of spending a weekend afternoon knocking on doors who knows where suddenly seemed less than favorable.

On the other hand, manning the phone bank has it's own drawbacks. I worked in telemarketing while a student at my Negro College HBCU, and it's by far one of the more demeaning jobs you could ever imagine that doesn't involve a pole and singles. Not that I'd know firsthand or anything, but I'm just sayin', it wasn't fun. Then again, it's essentially the same function as canvassing: contacting voters and asking for their support.

So, at this point, the old white guy and I are waiting for Chad and weighing the pros and cons of which activity we want to choose, although Chad, by virtue of asking us if we have transpo, has clearly made that decision for us.

A 20 something white woman walks up a few moments later and signs in. As opposed to sending her in for the training, Chad points to the two of us (well, actually just the old guy) and tells the young lady she can ride with one of us. She looks at me like I'm Willie Horton or some sh*t, and starts talking with the old guy about what area he's going to canvas. At this point, I'm 100% sure what I want to do, and it doesn't involve being outdoors in frigid temps with a bunch of folks who don't wanna be with me.

I nicely inform Chad that I'd rather do the phone bank. He looks at me, not quite like I'm Willie Horton, but definitely with some level of visible disdain. Tough sh*t, Chad! He dismisses me, giving me instructions to head up to the 7th floor and ask for someone named Lily.

When I arrive upstairs, I quickly locate Obama headquarters. It's an unleased suite on what appears to be a largely unleased floor, in the building, which I'm finally deducing isn't nearly as occupied as it appears from outside. There's a flurry of activity, offices packed to the gills with people making phone calls from cell phones and land lines. Lily, a thin and waifish college student who can be no older than 19, timidly gives orders to me, and the 4-5 other phone bankers who have also just arrived. I feel like a grown man working at McDonalds to feed his family, being ordered around by a high school McManager. I quickly remind myself something my mom always told me when I started complaining about this or that: "It's not about you".

Humility is restored.

Each person is given a script and 3 pages of phone numbers of registered Democrats in the immediate vicinity. We are to call the home, ask for the voter listed, go through our spiel from the script, deviating if we get the urge. But generally, your goal is to ask whom they're voting for. If they're for Obama, ask them to volunteer for canvassing Monday and Tuesday. If they're undecided, you're given a list of bullet points to go over and convince them to change sides. If they're for Clinton, or God forbid, still think Edwards is in the race, wish them a great weekend and keep it moving.

Once this "training" is over, Lily takes each volunteer and tries to locate a phone and desk for them in the winding office suite. As I follow her in search of my phone, I survey each room. There are lots of college students, mostly white, but some Asians assisting. No black kids. There are lots of black women, mostly middle aged, but not a single black man to be found. And there are a surprising number of elderly whites, especially Jews (I'm not stereotyping here, they are actually sporting the yarmulkes). While it's very likely that this demographic makeup had lots to do with the area I live in, I thought it still said something about the typical Obama supporter.

That is to say, there is no typical Obama supporter. And when you think about it, that explains a lot.

After much runaround, Lily finally finds me a desk and phone in a room with about 10 others, mostly middle aged black women and white men. The others look up briefly from their phone lists to acknowledge my presence, then quickly go heads down. I am having a deja vu moment from my days as a telemarketer, and it's not a good omen.

I finally settle in and review my list of 30 or so names across the 3 pages. In telemarketing, you could call 100's of numbers each 8 hour shift, and getting 3 "completes" would be considered a success. Knowing those odds, I'm well aware that on a somewhat nice day like this, my odds of getting folks to just pickup the phone, let alone respond to my urge for support are shaky at best. Sunny optimist that I am, I hope for this best as I pick up the phone and dial my first number.

Surprisingly, the person picks up, responds favorably to my introduction ("My name is AverageBro, I am a volunteer leader for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and I..."), and not only pledges her support for Senator Obama, but goes the whole nine and even signs up to volunteer the next day! I hang up the phone, elated, even raising my hands in a mocking fist pump, you know, like that thing Tiger Woods does. A leadoff homer in the top of the 1st! I am killin' em' already! The two black women sharing my table look at me quizzically.

"Beginner's Luck", one of them says, grinning a bit. She's clearly not in hater mode, just telling me in a polite way to temper my expectations.

Turns out she was right. Over the next few hours, I call a total of 60 homes, and my results are mixed at best. 2/3 of those called were either not home, disconnected phones, or didn't have voicemail at all. And of those who did, I got hung up on a few times (most disparagingly by what appeared to be a preteen), cursed out a few ("it's the afternoon, why are you calling me? I'm sleeping!" "we're eating, goodbye!" "please don't ever call here again!") and generally disrespected ("get a #&@^*% life!") some more.

On the other hand, when I did finally get people on the phone, the results were encouraging. Of the 12 who agreed to talk, 6 were solidly behind Obama, 2 were undecided (seriously, it's two days before the primary. WTF?), 1 was "torn", and only a couple were definitively for Clinton. Of course, these people then proceeded to quickly hang up on me, which I guess either says everything, or absolutely nothing about the character of the average Clinton supporter).

So, by my math, that all adds up to an Obama sweep in the Potomac Primary Tuesday. You heard it here first.

Leaving the office, I felt like I'd actually taken the next step in becoming engaged in our electoral process. Sure, it was just a few hours on a lazy weekend afternoon, and I didn't technically get anyone to "switch" to Obama, but at the very least, I can walk away feeling more invested and knowing I did something to help other than just voting (which is obviously important) for a change.

It's not hard, folks. Just like the other civic minded stuff I try and encourage folks to do, campaign volunteering is easy, you can find an activity and time that fits your schedule, and who knows, you just might convince someone to take part in the electoral process while you're at it.

If you're interested in helping with any campaign, I'd strongly encourage you to do so. I'm so serious about this, I'm taking the unprecedented step of providing links for every campaign's volunteer site.

Join Team Obama
Join Team Clinton
Join Team McCain
Join Team Huckabee
Join Team Paul
Join Team Alan Keyes (hurry, before his domain name expires)