Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt Ceiling Armageddon Open Thread.

Sometime between now and August 2nd, this whole debt ceiling nonsense will be resolved. There will either be a deal, or we'll be in financial freefall. Doesn't matter cause I'll be on a beach either way. My birthday is Monday (send your well wishes via PayPal) so this is your open thread for discussing all the nonsense in this ongoing made-for-basic-cable monstrosity.

I'll probably amend this post with some running thoughts of my own until I totally check out. Here's just a few.

Obama - Dude, seriously. What's the strategy here? Are you secretly working behind the scenes with Reid and Co. or have you totally checked out yourself? Doesn't matter because public perception is that you're sitting this one out (yet again!) and delegating control to Reid & Pelosi. That worked out just swimmingly during the Healthcare and Stimulus debates, didn't it?

14th Amendment Remedy - If all else fails, I suspect Obama will go nuclear and raise the ceiling on his own, flexing little used Presidential authority (which may or may not be legal in this situation). I don't see this boding well for him politically either. TeaBaggers can blame him for raising the debt ceiling without any cuts. This same scenario plays itself out again in a few months. The bond rating probably still gets lowered. It's a lose-lose, and only marginally better than doing nothing.

Boehner - If John Boehner was a pimp, I believe the operative term would be "he can't keep his hoes in check." Come on, Tan Man. It's taken you all week just to bring your flimsy plan to a vote in the GOP controlled House? F'real? Tell those Baggers to sit the heck down and shut up. Despite what they might think, nobody in "Real America" wants to see their mortgage rate skyrocket to 10% overnight. This is the personification of being strong and wrong. Tell them to "get their a$$es in line" or else. Your political future (what remains of it) is on the line here.

Hypocritical Tea Baggers - Not that this story should shock anyone, but some of the same guys whining about "fiscal responsibility" don't practice it in their own lives. Blabbermouth Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh is (allegedly) a startling $117k in arrears on his child support payments!!! Of course, he says this is "Real American" behavior. Lovely. And hardly surprising.

The Economy - Anyone notice the steady stream of bad economic reports being overshadowed by this nonsense? Is anyone focusing on jobs? Does anyone else notice that the massive cuts being suggested will only worsen the jobs numbers by sending more government workers and contractors to the unemployment lines? Does anyone even case?

Conservatives Shouldn't Rap - Please, please, please stop this nonsense.

The End Game Prediction - I think a "compromise" that cuts about $2T and raises no new revenue squeaks through at the last possible moment.

Question: What are your thoughts on this whole debacle?

The Epic Eli Porter Documentary.

I can't believe that...

1) They actually created a serious documentary about a viral video.

2) I watched the whole thing.

3) A few "Friends Of" are in this video, but I wasn't bigtime enough to be included.

4) It's clear this is all tongue in cheek/ a damn joke to everyone but the kids themselves.

5) I think/hope Eli got paid for this.

Are You Ready For Some Footbaaaaaaall?!?

Since it's pretty clear I'm going to need to follow the NFL to get my pro sports fix this Fall, I'm trying to get back on the Redskins non-existent bandwagon. They haven't made a single inspiring offseason move yet. They're removing seats from their stadium to avoid blackouts. They have a starting QB (John Beck, sadly pictured above. No, that isn't the guy who plays McGruber.) with a mullet. It's the perfect recipe for an epic 2-14 season. Personally, I can't wait. I'm sure my cyber homegirl Vanilla Latte will be hooking ya' boy up with some comp tickets again this year, since they won't likely be in high demand. Don't forget about me, VL.

Since this is Friday and I don't feel like working, I figured I'd ask you guys what you think about the free agent moves so far, and which teams look poised to make moves this season.

Question: Which teams have made the biggest leaps so far in free agency? Can a QB with a mullet actually thrive in the NFL?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Wall Streetball Highlights.

Cause it's the summer... what else is there to watch? It'll probably be another 6 months before the Association returns, if then, so stuff like this has to tide you over. And yeah, this post is on some serious fanboy sh*t. You wanna make somethin' of it? Didn't think so. Roll the tape.

That play at the end was just insane. In. Sane. And believe it or not, but I saw him pull that off at least twice last season. It seems more impressive in a hot, sweaty BMore gym for some reason, but the result's the same.

I know, he's basically playing a bunch of high schoolers here. Still, the outside shot looks better. This dude just needs confidence in his jumper and he's All-NBA. Seriously. It's that simple.

The upcoming epic Goodman vs Drew League matchup is going to be must see streetball. And yep, I'll be there.

Question: When will this effin' lockout end?!?

Eddie Long's 5th Accuser Comes Forward. Double Pause.

Just when you thought the Eddie Long Saga was over...

No need to lie, it seems like the local Fox5 affiliate is just piling on right now. That said, where there's smoke there's usually fire, and given how little credibility Bishop LongStroke has left, I wouldn't outright dismiss Centino Kemp's allegations.

And since we're on the subject...
Why does the narrator of this story sound like the same narrator who introduces the plaintiff and defendants on those judge shows?

Maybe Bishop Schlong and Centino got a 2-for-1 special at the beauty parlor.

Did Kemp do this story to plug his music career?

How can a presumably serious "journalist" do such a sh*tty story like this with a straight face?

Maybe Bishop Schlong and Centino got a 2-for-1 special at the tattoo parlor.

Don't this dude look a whole lot like Boris Kodjoe? Sorry ladies, it's true.

Dude got that Danny Brown haircut.

Doesn't this whole story just reek or pointlessness, rank exploitation, and under ball sweat?

Look at that bama run!!!

What's up with that 1998 limo dude peels off in at the end?

Do you also need a shower now?
Damn, Eddie. Just quit while you're ahead, bruh.

Herman Cain Backpedals On Muslim Fear Mongering.

One time pizza magnate and awful gospel singer Herman Cain's presidential aspirations get less likely with every Michelle Bachmann surge in the Iowa polls. It's not like anyone expected Daddy Green to make it to Super Tuesday anyway. We all know the end game here is a Fox News show. Cain has already plied his trade as a conservative talk radio hack for years, so it's not like this would be a major stretch. If a boring guy like Mike Huckabee can cash in handsomely for his longshot 2008 run, the far more dynamic and entertaining Cain could surely find a similarly lucrative cable news show in his future.

That said, he's got to maintain the appearance that his run for the Presidency is serious to gain the legitimacy and name recognition needed for the job. His run thus far has been a roller coaster is surprising debate performance, followed by lousy debate performances, with a cluster of news grabbing flubs thrown in for entertainment value. Perhaps nothing's gained Cain more media coverage (and scrutiny) than his comments about Muslims, most of which began with this YouTube Instant Classic.

With this dominant "he hates Muslims" narrative beginning to define him, Cain kept putting his foot in his mouth, trying to backpedal only to make the situation worst. Of course, being blatantly racist/xenophobic/bigoted/insert your own "ism" here isn't good for business, even on Fox News. So Cain (finally) apologized yesterday.
Herman Cain had his much-ballyhooed meeting with Muslims Wednesday, and he emerged, he said in a campaign statement "humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends."

Cain stood behind his past remarks about Islam and sharia law, but he apologized to the Muslims he may have offended. In a recent interview, Cain said that Americans should be allowed to ban mosques from their communities if they so choose.

"While I stand by my opposition to the interference of sharia law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends," he said in the statement. "I am truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it."

Cain's meeting came at the ADAMS Center, a Northern Virginia mosque complex that recently hosted deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. At ADAMS, Cain met with Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director of the center, as well as several other top officials. In the statement, Cain said he found common ground with the Muslims he met with Wednesday from his own past.

In the past, Cain has been less willing to take his own experiences and connect them with the lives of Muslims in modern America. In the Fox News Sunday interview July 17 where he said American communities have the right to keep out mosques if they wish, Cain rejected a direct comparison with discrimination from the Civil Rights era. Show host Chris Wallace asked Cain about the mosque comment as well as Cain's past promise to use special precautions to ensure Muslim applicants for his administration are not not "terrorists." Wallace said that sounded like religious discrimination to some.
I suppose I should give Daddy Green some credit for going into the belly of the (figurative) beast, taking the heat and apologizing. It would have been easier to simply duck the topic or issue a cowardly press release. On the other hand, with his sham of a campaign on the rocks, partially because of this issue, did he really have any other option?

Question: Was Cain sincere in his apology, or is this mere political maneuvering to salvage a sinking ship? Has Michelle Bachmann stolen most of his Christian evangelical thunder? Is there any way his campaign makes it to South Carolina?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Black/White Wealth Gap Reaches A Record High! Where Is Obama?!?

While I love adding my witty commentary to posts here, sometimes it's best to just roll out the ball and have you guys play amongst yourselves. Add the obligatory [pause] here if that last sentence didn't sound quite right.

Worsened by the housing bubble bursting and financial meltdown, the wealth gap between white and black families now is the largest since the government began tracking the data, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

White households on average now earn 20 times more than the typical black family and 18 times more than the average Hispanic family, the study found. The disparities are three times the gap that existed three years ago.

When Pew first began tracking wealth disparity by race in 1984, white families earned 12 times as much as black families.

“What’s pushing the wealth of whites is the rebound in the stock market and corporate savings, while younger Hispanics and African-Americans who bought homes in the last decade — because that was the American dream — are seeing big declines,” Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specializes in income inequality, told The Associated Press.

According to the Pew research, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among black households from 2005 through 2009. During the same time period, the study found wealth of white households fell16 percent.

The typical black household had $5,677 in wealth — defined as assets minus debts — in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth, and the typical white household had $113,149, Pew found.
Just as a matter of context, the government has only been studying this gap with actual data since 1984, so it's not like we're talking a historical, all time worst evar (!) gap here, just the worst in the 25 or so years such a thing has been measured. I notice this rate didn't only began being compiled after Reagan's first term. We might need to get Rebb'n Al to look into that one.

I'm not so sure if there's much to read into here. A sinking tide drowns all boats [1] so with black folks already catching a beatdown during good economic times, it's no shocker we're on the ass end of the pyramid right now. Still, I'm sure someone's gonna make some correlation between the first Black President and the worst gap evar! Have at it below.

Question: Is this study much ado about nothing, or is it simply indicative of the unrealized dreams of the Obama presidency?

[1] Or however the inverse of that corny analogy goes...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Perhaps The Weirdest Congressional Sex Scandal Evar. Thanks, Congressman Wu.

While all the buzz here in DC is obviously focused on last night's lame dueling speeches[1] and the pending Armageddon, an ongoing sex scandal has quietly come to an end. And thank goodness, cause something tells me the longer this one went on, the weirder it mighta gotten.
Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., announced his resignation today following allegations he engaged in "aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior" with a young woman. Wu said that his resignation would be effective upon the resolution of the debt ceiling crisis.

National Democratic leaders had stopped short of calling for Wu's resignation, but House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday asked the House Ethics committee to investigate the allegations against the seven-term congressman.

Last week's allegation against Wu is the latest in a series of charges that the congressman has engaged in questionable behavior. Earlier this year, Wu acknowledged that he sent erratic emails to his staffers, including a picture of himself around Halloween in a tiger costume. Several of his staff members resigned following his re-election in November, and Oregon newspapers reported that his campaign staffers had pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help the week before the 2010 election. Wu said in February he has sought mental health treatment, including counseling and medication.
While I'm sure those on the right are gonna point to this as yet another example of a liberal who can keep his thing in his pants, I think we should all show a bit of compassion for Mr. Wu. The man clearly has some mental issues at play. Any grown man who dresses up as Tigger (or calls himself Tigger), obviously is a few sandwiches shy of a Quiznos.[2] This coming from a guy who once dressed up as Hip Hop Harry. At least I had an excuse (my kid's birthday). I don't think Rep. Wu had one.

Question: Is this yet another example of unethical liberals ruining the moral fabric of Congress, or does Rep. Wu clearly have some mental health issues that need to be addressed?

[1] Dueling pianos >>> dueling speeches. And dueling pianos is jive lame in and of itself.

[2] BTW, rest in peace Quiznos. I always liked Subway more, but at least you were a toasty alternative.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The NFL Lockout Is Over. Who Cares?!?

Breaking news alert!
The NFL Players Association executive board and 32 team reps have voted unanimously to approve the terms of a deal to the end the 41/2-month lockout.

Owners overwhelmingly approved a proposal last week, but some unresolved issues still needed to be reviewed to satisfy players; the owners do not need to vote again.

The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that is for 10 years, without an opt-out clause, a person familiar with the deal told the AP.

Owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league's old labor contract, which expired this March. That's when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.
I guess I'm supposed to be hyped about this development, since it means I can stop pretending to care about baseball, and Ray Lewis' dire predictions of (non-deficit ceiling related) Armageddon will be averted. Still, I can only get so excited about this, because it only highlights just how pathetic the NBA's ongoing lockout looks by comparison. You knew all along there was no way the NFL wouldn't miss any games. There's too much money to be made.

The NBA, on the other hand, looks like they'll blow half (if not all) of next season in a petty squabble between millionaires and billionaires. Half the players are headed overseas, and plenty of owners will gladly skip the season and the millions of dollars in losses that would accompany it. Lovely.

But hey, football's back. It's better than a Fall full of baseball and hockey.

Question: Did you ever think the NFL lockout would result in missed regular season games? Will the NBA be back before the 2012 general election? Open Mic - 7.25.11

I'll have some fresh blog for you later. For now, here's your open mic.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Either/Or - Baking Summers Or Freezing Winters?!?

[Editor's Note: Social Experiment time, yet again. The rules are simple. Answer the question as stated below. There are two possible answers, choose one and go with it. Despite what Cosmo says, you can't have it all in life. Nobody can get everything they want. Sometimes life is an either/or proposition where you have to choose the lesser of two evils and keep it movin'. The rules are simple: pick a choice and explain why you picked it. And to that effect, I present today's edition of Either/Or.]

After a mild start to the summer, the usual East Coast heat wave is now in full effect. Here in DC, we've had a string of your typical humid days, but this weekend might mark a new record of sorts, as The Urreah[1] is facing the prospect of three straight days over 100 degrees.

I hate extreme hot temperatures for lots of reasons. I can't do my daily runs. You can't really take the kids out to the park. The lawn's always a mess. The pool's overcrowded. The beach is suddenly so far away. And invariably, our HVAC unit chooses this convenient time of year to conk out. Yeah, that really just happened. It's miserable.

Given the choice, the other extreme, a blizzard, isn't nearly as bad (to me). You can usually take the day off, the kids (and wife) are home. You can sled. You can make snowmen. You can have a Winter BBQ. Except for the obvious (shovelling), it's all gravy.

Of course, this is just my preference. Given the two very extreme opposite options, which would you choose?

Question: Would you rather deal with miserably hot and humid temps, or a one foot blizzard? Why? Please don't mention how you prefer the Fall/Spring. Those are not options. Stick to the basic question, please.

[1] Eff' a "DMV". Sorry, that's just corny and will never catch on. "The Urreah" Fo' Life!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Very Common Sense Approach To Getting The US Out Of Debt.

Random thought here. Indulge me.

Let's say you magically find yourself in $10k in debt. Don't worry about how it happened, just suppose it happened. You can do a few things to get rid of it.

1) Spend Less Money - This is pretty self explanatory. In order to have more money to pay off your debts, you free up money you would otherwise spend to dig yourself out of a hole. For many people, this might mean getting rid of a car, downsizing homes, putting their kids in public school, doing your own hair, cutting your own grass, and eating out less. In short, the less money you spend, be it on obligations (rent, food, transpo) or luxuries (eating out, entertainment, smartphones), the more you have to pay off your debt.

2) Make More Money - Spending less isn't the most foolproof way of getting yourself out of a hole. Life still goes on, and any unexpected bill (car repair, medical issues) pushes you that much further away from financial freedom. You can speed things up by asking for a promotion, finding a weekend job (no small undertaking in this economy), starting a legitimate side bidness (blogging, cutting grass, doing hair) or hustlin' (selling weed, phone sex). Either way, this means more income, and thus, more money to dedicate to paying down your debt.

I don't really see any other choice here. You could borrow money to pay off your debts, but you're likely just trading one problem for another. You could default on your debts by filing for bankruptcy, but again, pick your poison. Not the best option either.

Of course, as I watch these continually silly deficit/tax/debt ceiling deliberations continue on, I can't help but wonder why those on the Hill (and in the White House) can't come to some simple middle ground that mixes a bit of options 1 and 2. Cut spending and bring in more revenue in the form of raised taxes. If this works for Real Americans, why can't it work in DC? This isn't rocket science.

Of course, you guys are experts in deficit reduction, so I'm sure you'll tell me why my analogy is flawed. Have at it.

Question: Is reducing the deficit really as simple as spending less and making more? Why not?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Al Sharpton Completely DESTROYS Tea Party Congressman.

As I've said many times here, I like Al Sharpton. I think the guy gets unfairly lumped in with his contemporary Jesse Jackson, where there are really few parallels between the two. Sharpton runs the National Action Network, a mostly respectable organization that's quietly crossed over into issues like gay marriage and immigration in recent years. His protest run for President in 2004 was the impetus to his gradual transition to the mainstream. His national radio show is pretty good. His move to MSNBC host has been encouraging thus far, mostly because he's the sort of host who won't allow any bullsh*t to go unchallenged.

Case in point, some freshman GOP Congressman named Mo Brooks (is that an NBA player's name or what?) made the grave mistake of showing up on Rebb'n Al's show the other day to defend the party's resistance to raising taxes in exchange for a debt ceiling compromise. The results, well, they speak for themselves.

Rebb'n Al's never been mistaken for an intellectual giant (then again, neither has any other cable news host), but the ease with which he dissects this guy's standard Tea Party talking points is both awesome (for Al) and sad (for Rep. Brooks). If the major tenets of your platform can be dismantled so easily, what does that say about the Tea Party and the "Real Americans" that sent them to DC? I think it says the party is little more than a Grand Hu$tle and power grab by the party's elite, cleverly disguised as "Real American" populism. But that's just me.

I think Sharpton proved just how flimsy the Tea Party platform really is. I also think Rep. Brooks should fire whatever staffer booked him on this show. Seriously, this was a bad look.

Nice work, Rebb'n Al.

Question: Did Al Sharpton completely destroy this Tea Party talking head, or am I just overexagerrating as usual?

People I Strongly Dislike: Political Cheap Shooters.

Retail Politricks is obviously not a sport for those with thin skin. When you choose to run for office, you willingly submit yourself to a few-holds barred process in which only the fit (and well-funded) survive. It takes a special brand of narcissist to submit oneself (and one's family) to such punishment, which explains why very few ethically sound people bother going into politics in the first place.

Even though gutter tactics are commonplace in modern day American politics, there are still some people who hit a bit too far below the belt. Here's a handful of recent examples of Political Cheap Shooters that I Strongly Dislike.

Playing The "Totally Unnecessary Race" Card - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee

Shelia Jackson Lee's implication that Republicans were hatin' on Obama "because he black" was tasteless and beneath the office of a US Congresswoman.

Seriously, what point does this prove? Do you think anyone on the GOP side is actually going to come out and say "yeah, you know what Shelia, you're right. We're obstructing because we hate this Negro." Of course not. I've maintained all along that a majority of the Tea Party resistance to Obama has been typical partisan sour grapes. Sure, there's some element of racism at play here, but using the floor of the House to toss out allegations you can't prove just makes you look like a pure jackass, and undermines the entire point (that the GOP is obstructing for political gain) you're presumably trying to prove.

Playing The "Mooslims Are Eeevil!" Card - Daddy Green Herman Cain

Herman Cain can't seem to keep up with his lies and anti-Muslim hatred. I wonder how many Muslims he has in his family. Is there a black person in America that doesn't have a Muslim in their extended family? I've got two myself.

While I get the "short game" (cater to anti-Muslim fears in hopes of winning Iowa) here, I don't get the "long game" (winning the Presidential election). At all. How does Cain think such terribly racist and xenophobic stances are going to play out on the world stage, should he by some miracle of modern medicine, happen to get elected?

Playing The "You're Against Gays, So You're Prolly Gay!" Card - Jon Stewart

I'm a fan of Jon Stewart's style of humor/politricks, but lately dude seems to be wading a bit too much in the Bill Maher waters of tackiness and cheap shots. I'd be the last to defend Michelle Bachmann, but I still think political spouses (yeah,even men) should be off limits. Spare yourself the agony of watching a closeup of Lawrence O'Donnell in HD and skip to the 1:00 mark.

I don't like the inference that Bachmann's husband Marcus is gay any more than I liked the stupid rumors of the Michelle Obama "whitey" tape a few years back. How about we simply judge the candidates on their own views, and their own views alone? Wasn't raising the level of political discourse the whole point of Stewart's pointless rally last Fall? Or was the point just raising the level of Jon Stewart's popularity?

Playing The "Say It Loud! I'm A Douche And I'm Proud!" Card - Rep. Jason Chaffetz

Tea Party favorite Jason Chaffetz seems to be trying hard to win the title of Biggest Douche On The Hill now that Alan Grayson is gone.

What is this guy, a middle schooler? Shouldn't words like "Stupid!" be completely removed from your vocabulary when you win political office? Would a more nuanced critique of your own party's plans hurt, or is Chaffetz too stupid to understand what the word "nuance" means?

Playing The "I'm Ex-Military, So I Can Get Away With Being A Total Jackass Without Suffering Any Consequences" Card - Rep. Allen West

Something (other than that haircut) about this guy always struck me as slightly unhinged. He can go on a venomous screed against Democrats one moment, then appear as perfectly sane and reasonable on TV the next. But this latest attack by the Tea Party favorite, well, it's just out of bounds.

Seriously Colonel West, challenging a woman to a literal fight? Go sit down, sir.

Question: Got any other examples of political cheap shot artists that you strongly dislike?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

As If The NBA Lockout Wasn't Painful Enough...

The 2011-12 schedule came out earlier today. So did this nifty, if not Blake Griffin-biased and incomplete, video of last season's best jams. Just a handy reminder of everything you're missing while millionaires and billionaires quibble over pieces of a revenue pie most of us could only fantasize about. Lovely.

Enjoy the show. It might be a minute. Or two.

Question: Who had the best dunk last season? Hot Topics - 7.19.11

Here's the daily rundown.

Debt Ceiling Manuvering - At this point, who knows how this thing will be resolved? And who cares? What's increasingly obvious is that the GOP is willing to punt on working with Obama on a deal, simply because they want rich people to keep their hard-earned tax cuts, even if it means the country going into default. Call me nuts, but $3T in decreased spending in return for $1T in tax cuts seems like a fair deal where I come from. Then again, this clearly isn't about the deficit. Or tax cuts. Or spending. This is all about November 2012. If you had any doubts about the GOP's true motives, there you have it.

NFL Lockout - Looks like both sides have struck a deal, and the season will be spared. I guess this is good, since it means we'll have pro football in the Fall. On the flipside, it makes the NBA's labor strife look that much more pathetic.

News Corp Hacking Scandal - Maybe I'm the only one, but it's hard to feign interest in this scandal until I see some link to News Corp/Fox News in the US. As is, a bunch of Brits having their cell phones hacked by a tabloid simply isn't interesting on any level.

AB On The Hip Hip Digest Show - I was in studio for the taping of my favorite podcast over the weekend. Go have a listen.

Question: What do you think about these issues?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Section 8 Stampede.

I have no words for this. No. Words.

Question: Comments? Pithy remarks? Care to make any light of this?

An MultiMedia Exposé - Lil' P-Nut. Must. Be. Stopped.

Why erry black kid gotta rap? The venerable Lil' P-Nut is just playing the weedcarrier role in this video, but I'm thinkin' both of these kids need to quit grabbing their packages and go do some homework or something otherwise productive.

Where Is Obama?!? Better yet, where are the parents?

Ok, who am I kidding? If my kids had this sorta natural Swag. Man do I hate that word! charisma, I'd prolly be trying to prep them for Disney Channel careers instead of getting exploited by the music industry.[1] But that's just me.

I just wanted an excuse to run this video, because I'm hip like that, and I went to to a Lil' Wayne concert this weekend (true story). So there. But the more videos I see this kid pop up in, the more concerned I get. Dude is clearly ready for his Roc Nation contract. Peep the work.

The positive/introspective/social commentary track.

The street/traaaap song.

The song for the b*******.

He's even got haters.[2]

Yep, this kid's gonna flame out by age 10.

Question: What's the career trajectory for a pre-teen rapper? Is it possible to turn this into something other than passing internet fame? Is this child being exploited or are his parents simply cultivating his natural talent?

[1] Am I the only one noticing all the "John Wall" references in rap songs of late? I'm thinking it's got more to do with an easy-to-rhyme name than dude's actual popularity.

[2] Yeah, this was meant to be WSHH a parody. It failed. Miserably.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Facebook Killed The Class Reunion. For Me, At Least.

[Editor's Note: I was gonna give this post the epic title "The Irrelevance Of The Class Reunion In Post-Facebook America". Then I came to my senses and realized a shorter title was better for SEO. Sue me.]

I didn't like high school.

There, I said it.

I really, and truly didn't enjoy it, for a million reasons too lengthy and too personal to go into here. I did make some lifelong friends, I did accomplish what I needed to (full academic ride to my HBCU), and I did appreciate growing up in a small town without a million and one distractions (crime, drugs, autotune) to take me off track. That said, when I walked up to get my diploma, my life as a high schooler was over. I haven't been back, and don't plan on going back. I "came into my own" in college, and have gone on to accomplish some good things in life. I'm generally not a "dwell on the past" sorta guy anyway. High school is a period in my life best observed via the rearview mirror. Or simply forgotten altogether.

All that said, my 20th (!!!) class reunion is coming up this Fall, and I'm sorta on the fence now. Clichés Of Typical American Life™ say you're supposed to return triumphantly to your class reunion to relive those wonderful moments of youth with long lost friends. I was unable to make my 10th, so I guess it would be kinda wrong to miss the 20th as well. But I don't feel much of a pull to go. I'm already in contact with most (not all, but most) of the people I want to be in contact with. Finding childcare for an entire weekend, driving/flying all the way down to NC, getting a hotel room, etc. is a lot to invest. And then there's the obvious.


My class reunion has its own Facebook group (or is it fan page? I have no idea how FB works.) and most of my graduating class of 169 is up there. Class reunions are mostly about going back to check up on who's where, who had a baby with whom, and whether or not the baddest chick in your graduating class is pushing 275. With Facebook, especially if you've got some page/group for your graduating class, you can find out all this stuff in a matter of minutes, sans the awkward "sooooo, what are you doing with your life now?" small talk. You can snoop around see photos of people and their kids, find out where they live and what they do for a living, and yes, you can verify whether or not the baddest chick in your graduating class is pushing 275 (she isn't). If the mood really hit you, you could email/chat with whomever you're interested in catching up with. All of the pleasure, none of the awkwardness.

Isn't that essentially the entire point of the class reunion in the first place?

I may be biased here, because again, I didn't particularly enjoy high school and have no special fondness for most of the people I graduated with. Scrolling through the dozens of sorta-familiar faces and long forgotten names on my class' page/group was a nice trip down memory lane, but I didn't feel any pull to drive 300 miles and spend hundreds of dollars to see these folks in person. I didn't like most of them then, I don't like most of them now. I barely talked to these people when I saw them everyday. Why go through all the trouble (and money) to have the same odd conversations now?

I guess, to me at least, Facebook has essentially made the concept of the class reunion a relic of the past. What say ye'?

Question: Are you going to your class reunion or has Facebook made this pointless? Has the convenience of catching up with people via social media made in-person interactions less important? Did you enjoy high school, or is the past the past?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The (Debt) Roof, The (Debt) Roof, The (Debt) Roof Is On Fire!!!

If you've paid any attention to the ongoing debt ceiling debate, you're probably sick and tired of the deception being perpetrated by those on both sides of the political aisle.

The President says he can't promise Social Security checks would go out if the debt ceiling wasn't raised, a claim which is dubious to say the least. The GOP claims the Democrats aren't open to touching entitlements, which doesn't seem entirely true either. The Democrats claim not taking action would prove cataclysmic. The GOP asserts the effects would be marginal at most. While not raising the debt ceiling would obviously not be preferable, both sides are likely trafficking in quite a bit of hyperbole here.

At the crux of everything holding up the debt ceiling debate is the GOP's insistence on keeping tax cuts for rich folks which have been proven to not create jobs. If this sounds like deja vu, it's the same hostage-taking technique they pulled to force Obama to extend those very same tax cuts back in December. It's all a huge sh*t sandwich that shows everything wrong about the current hyper-partisan state of American politics.

Instead of yet another pointless round of debating which side is right here, I want to cut to the chase and ask a slightly different question. Please read thoroughly before answering!

Question: When all is said and done, how (specifically) do you think this debt ceiling debate will end? Will the limit be raised (again, as usual)? Will the GOP's insistence on keeping those tax cuts for the rich prevail? Will the Democrats and Obama totally cave? If nothing's done, what would happen as a result? Again, leave your personal thoughts on how this should work out of the equation, and focus on how you think it will work out instead.

Black, White, Or Other?!? - The Bobbitt Wannabe.

Stereotypes are a way of life in America. We feed into them so readily that they take on a life of their own. But just how well do you really know your racial stereotypes?

Black, White, Or Other?!? lists a particularly heinous crime/news story, with incriminating bits of info omitted for the sake of confidentiality. Your job is to guess whether the protagonist is black, white, or the omnipresent "other", and to tell why you guessed how you did. The best guessplanation wins a week's supply of Cyber CapriSuns. And yeah, you could prolly Google the news story to find out the race of the person, but what sorta loser does that? Seriously. And if you already know about the story, and thus the answer, sit this one out. Be a good sport. Don't cheat.

Anyways, here's today's entry...
A woman accused of cutting off her husband's penis with a 10-inch kitchen knife was ordered held on $1 million bail, officials said Monday. {redacted} was arrested by {redacted} police on suspicion of aggravated mayhem, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony, poisoning and spousal abuse. If she's convicted on the mayhem charge, she faces up to a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

The couple had been married for a year and half. Court records show they began divorce proceedings in May. The record suggests that the husband initiated the divorce. Lt. {redacted} of the {redacted} Police Department said police were aware of the divorce case but didn't have a clear motive for the crime.

Officers arrived at a home on the 14000 block of {redacted} Street after the woman called 911 about 9 p.m. Monday and found a man tied to a bed and bleeding from his crotch, according to a {redacted} police news release.

{redacted}, 48, told police she had drugged her husband’s dinner to make him sleepy, then tied him to the bed. As he awoke, she cut off his penis with a knife, tossed it in the garbage disposal and turned the disposal on. Police untied the victim, who was taken {redacted} Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Police said {redacted} and her husband, 51, were going through a divorce and that she told officers he “deserved it.”

The severe nature of the crime led detectives to classify it as “aggravated mayhem,” an offense punishable by up to life in prison, {redacted} said.

The victim, who was not identified, told detectives {redacted} made him dinner, but he believed something was wrong with his food. He went to lie down and woke up to find himself tied to the bed, with his wife tugging his clothes off, he said, and then cut off his penis. The victim went into surgery before detectives could get further details. Investigators searched the home and recovered a rope and a knife.
Question: Is woman who committed this dastardly deed Black, White, Or Other? Why?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can The First Lady Eat A Damn Hamburger In Peace?!? Sheesh.

Michelle Obama Navel Gazing© is a fun, frequent activity for Conservative sites. Take a quick trip to National Review, The Drudge Report, or the infamous Fox Nation, and you'll inevitably come across a mundane public interest story about the First Lady, with a sensationalized title (Michelle Obama Wears $400 Sneakers... To Feed The Homeless!!!) to draw in the crazies. These stories are like dog whistles, intended to drum up anti-Obama animus and guaranteed web traffic. It's a surefire way for a lazy web editor to get some easy hits without much actual work.

I assumed the venerable Washington Post was above such silly tactics. I assumed wrong.
First lady Michelle Obama ordered a whopper of a meal at the newly opened Washington diner Shake Shack during lunch on Monday.

A Washington Post journalist on the scene confirmed the first lady, who’s made a cause out of child nutrition, ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke while the street and sidewalk in front of the usually-packed Shake Shack were closed by security during her visit.

According to nutritional information on Shake Shack’s Web site, the meal amounted to 1,700 calories.

Obama, who launched the “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity last year, has previously admitted to having an “obsession with french fries,” which she says are fine to indulge in occasionally. “It’s all about moderation,” Obama told reporters.
In case you were wondering, this ever important tidbit didn't appear in the Style section, or the Food section, or the Health section, or even the gossipy Reliable Sources column.

Nope, it showed up in the very popular 44 Blog, which is all about "Politics and Policy in Obama's Washington".

How does the First Lady going to get lunch get categorized as "Politics and Policy in Obama's Washington"?!?

ABC News got in on the hype too.

Interestingly, whereas the comments on The Fox Nation for this story were full of anti-"Moochelle" hatred, most of the comments on the WashPost story questioned the point of including such a news item. I, for one, was delightfully surprised. Good work readers! You suck, Washington!

Still, 3 years into this bullsh*t, I can't help but wonder why this woman is bashed for mercilessly by Conservatives. I think this disturbs me so much, because I obviously hold the First Lady (and all First Ladies) in high regard and think she should be somewhat off limits when it comes to this sort of criticism. I don't recall prior First Ladies being bashed to this degree, but then again, blogs (and their comment sections) weren't nearly as prevalent in the past as they are now.

She's clearly in great shape for a woman her age, and can obviously shake off a high calorie meal better than most people. So does she bring some of this on herself by advocating healthy eating and workout habits for children? Is this backlash because of the media's obsession with her arms/general fitness? Is this just typical partisan hackery? Or is this largely about race? Ya'll tell me?

Question: Why does it seem like some (key word: some) Conservatives hate Michelle Obama so much?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lil' B And The Weirdness Of Internet-Only Fame.

One of the weirdest things about the internet is that web-centric fame sometimes is completely segregated from mainstream recognition. In short, there's a million and one pieces of pop culture that exist solely on the web. You wouldn't know who Antoine Dodson, or Rebecca Black, or the infamous Bubb Rubb were if you didn't frequent The Internets, as I'm often reminded when I discuss stuff of the sort with my wife, whose rare free time is exclusively spent perusing sites for very expensive shoes. She knows nothing about internet sensation Lil' B, and there's probably a good chance you don't either. Your kids (or nephews) probably do though.

For the clueless (me included), Lil' B is a rapper from the Bay Area who was once in a group called The Pack that had a marginal hit called "Vans" a few years ago. Since then, he's gone solo and makes mixtapes full of largely unlistenable music that lots (and I do mean LOTS!) of people inexplicably actually listen to. He also makes lots of low budget and awful Youtube "music videos" with millions of views. I once long ago did a post about the incredibly terrible "Hoes On My D**k Cause I Look Like Jesus", a song just as hideous as its title would suggest. He also made somewhat of a national story a few weeks back by announcing that his next (since leaked) album would be called "I'm Gay". Hang around any crowd of suburban teens, and his ubiquitous catchphrases like "swag!" and "thank you based god!" will inevitably pop up at some point. All this, for a guy without a successful album, radio friendly single, or mainstream media recognition. Or talent for that matter.

Every 2-3 weeks, a Lil' B song will magically become a trending topic on Twitter, disguised as a title as one of his songs (ie: the deplorable "Wonton Soup"). Last Friday, I happened logged on to find the term "Bill Bellamy" trending. The obvious ("damn, Bill Bellamy's dead?") thought came to mind, until I clicked on the phrase to find out that "Bill Bellamy" was just the latest awful Lil' B song and its accompanying video. Be forewarned, the following video contains lots of expletives and awful rapping.

I'm no Lil' B genius, but I didn't think Bill Bellamy had that many (any?) felonies. It's poorly mixed. There are more b*tches than a dog pound. The lyrics are nonsensical. The bars are poorly structured. The song makes no sense, and is so awful that it's almost brilliant.


I'm a hip hop aficionado, but I don't consider myself a "hip hop is dead!" snob by any means. I listen to lots of LCD rap music. Lots of it. I get the appeal of being able to zone out with an amazing beat as background music while you cut the grass, drive, or write source code. Everything ain't gotta be super lyrical or deep. Sometimes, music is just background noise.

Still, I just don't get the appeal of Lil' B. Do you? Help me out. Maybe I'm just old.

Question: Assuming you've heard of him, what the hell is this guy's appeal? Does the whole concept of Internet-Only fame puzzle you?

Lil B Gets Extra Felonious On "Bill Bellamy" [Baltimore Sun]

Monday, July 11, 2011 Open Mic - 7.11.11

I'll have some fresh blog for you later. For now, here's your open mic.

Hey, did anyone else notice it's 7-11-11? Where's my free Slurpee?!?

BTW, go peep my latest over at the ATL Post, and leave comments over there.

She’s Palin 2.O: Michele Bachmann’s 10 Goofiest Gaffes & Craziest Quotes [ATLPost]

Question: What's on your mind today?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shut Up, Bill Clinton!!! Being Asked For Your ID Does Not Equal Jim Crow.

I'm not the biggest fan of Bill Clinton, and never really was for reasons too numerous to list here. Plus it's a Friday so I really don't have the energy. The guy has always typified the "racial politrickin'" side of the Democratic party that just irks me. Consult the AB Google if you need the back story on this one.

Anyways, never content to just drift away into post-Presidential irrelevance, Clinton now fancies himself as a sage, ready and willing to deposit pearls of wisdom when whatever thinktank or organization is willing to write a large enough check. Having a podium doesn't mean you're right, however, and I can't help but categorize Clinton's recent remarks about voting rights restrictions in Florida as the worst kind of racial pandering. Not that Clinton's any stranger to racial pandering of course.
Former President Bill Clinton Wednesday compared GOP efforts to limit same-day voter registration and block some convicted felons from voting to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.

In a speech to liberal youth activists Wednesday, the former president called out proposals in battleground states like Florida and Ohio that could limit the voter rolls.

“I can’t help thinking since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time,” Clinton said at Campus Progress’s annual conference in Washington.

“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” Clinton added.

Clinton mentioned Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s move in March to overturn past state precedent — including under former GOP governors — that allows convicted felons to vote once they’ve served they’ve finished probation periods.

“Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they’ve paid their price?” Clinton said. “Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics who tended to vote for Democrats. That’s why.”
I'd prefer to not make this an issue about the voting rights of ex-felons. That's a topic for another week and another blog altogether. What puzzles me is Clinton's brazen attempt to tie Governor Scott's decision to the far more restrictive and outdated concepts of poll taxes. Those were routinely imposed on all people of color as a deterrent. Revoking the rights of ex-criminals isn't the same thing, not by a country mile, but why let such logic interfere with a good attempt at pandering. Never mind the fact that Clinton was hardly speaking to the audience most disenfranchised by such a decision.

Some of what Clinton is advocating is worth the fuss. GOP proposals to stop college students who are from other states from registering to vote where they go to school are just wrong. Voting shouldn't be that damn difficult. On the other hand, proposals asking people to register at least a week before voting is sensible. Do you realize how easy it is to register to vote? It takes all of 5 minutes. Asking people (college students or otherwise) to do this isn't a violation of civil rights, nor is asking someone to present a valid form of identification. If you're not smart enough to register in advance or provide a driver's license at the poll, then you're probably too dumb to vote.

Suggesting otherwise is in a lot of ways an underhanded insult to the very people you're supposedly advocating on behalf of.

Then again, this is Bill Clinton we're talking about.

Question: Does Clinton have a point about voter disenfranchisement, or is he just up to his usual routine?

David Duke For President?!?

I couldn't make this sh*t up...[1]

Question: Assuming he goes through with this, will the GOP shun Duke or should he be allowed to participate in debates like every other fringe candidate?!?

[1] BTW, I haven't tuned in to Current or whatever Olbermann's new channel is, but mannn, that set looks hella low budget. Is this on public access TV or what?!?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ArmChair Obama™ : Fixing The Black-White Employment Gap.

When people were on the campaign trail back in 2008 chanting about how "race doesn't matter" and "we're postracial" simply because they found a black(ish) guy they could stomach voting for, I knew we were gonna be in for some real trouble should candidate Obama win. For the record, yes, I think lots of people did indeed vote for him because he was both qualified and just so happened to be black. And no, I didn't think there was anything particularly bad about this.

People vote for folks because of their gender, place of birth, stated religious beliefs, and of yes, because of their race all the time. It's not anything new, nor does it send some gloomy message about the state of the American electorate. People trust people they can identify with, and they usually factor this into their voting habits, whether deliberately or subconsciously. It quite simply is what it is.

That said, it is somewhat dangerous for people (black and white) to vote for a candidate on the flawed premise that doing so would magically erase decades of racial inequality and tension. In fact, it's downright comical and thankfully, it's something candidate Obama repeatedly warned his supporters about. There is so silver bullet to fixing longstanding issues of uneven education, employment, and wealth. The election of Barack Obama hasn't resulted in any dramatic shift in the achievement gap in public education. Blacks have lost their homes at startling rates due to the recession. And of yeah, it's still harder for the AverageBro to both get and retain a job, as a recent Salon article dissected in depth.
Like the country it governs, Washington is a city of extremes. In a car, you can zip in bare moments from northwest District of Columbia, its streets lined with million-dollar homes and palatial embassies, its inhabitants sporting one of the nation's lowest jobless rates, to Anacostia, a mostly forgotten neighborhood in southeastern D.C. with one of the highest unemployment rates anywhere in America.

Live in Washington long enough and you'll hear someone mention "east of the river." That's D.C.'s version of "the other side of the tracks," the place friends warn against visiting late at night or on your own. It's home to District Wards 7 and 8, neighborhoods with a long, rich history. Once known as Uniontown, Anacostia was one of the District's first suburbs; Frederick Douglass, nicknamed the "Sage of Anacostia," once lived there, as did the poet Ezra Pound and singer Marvin Gaye. Today the area's unemployment rate is officially nearly 20 percent. District-wide, it's 9.8 percent, a figure that drops as low as 3.6 percent in the whiter, more affluent northwestern suburbs.

D.C.'s divide is America's writ large. Nationwide, the unemployment rate for black workers at 16.2 percent is almost double the 9.1 percent rate for the rest of the population. And it's twice the 8 percent white jobless rate.

That may account for the soaring numbers of unemployed African-Americans, but not the yawning chasm between the black and white employment rates, which is no artifact of the present moment. It's a problem that spans generations, goes remarkably unnoticed, and condemns millions of black Americans to a life of scraping by. That unerring, unchanging gap between white and black employment figures goes back at least 60 years. It should be a scandal, but whether on Capitol Hill or in the media it gets remarkably little attention. Ever.
The question is, what can a President do to fix these issues?

Play Armchair Obama™ and tell me what you'd do.

Question: What did you think the President can do to fix the black/white employment gap?!? Does a riding tide lift all ships, or does the President need to focus specifically on the issues of the black community? What would you do to remedy the situation?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Raise Your Own D@mn Kids.

No need to lie here, despite having made two children of my own, I generally find other peoples' kids[1] to be obnoxious and annoying. Since I do have two kids of my own now, I find myself in more and more environments frequented by obnoxious and annoying kids. It is what it is.

Of course, this isn't a politically correct statement, and ESPN writer LZ Granderson's recent story on is drawing a lot of attention (2,600+ comments). Since I'm still sorta digging myself out of a hole here on the Day Job, I'm gonna throw an excerpt of the commentary here, and ask ya'll to go read the rest over at, then come back and comment. Got it?
If you're the kind of parent who allows your 5-year-old to run rampant in public places like restaurants, I have what could be some rather disturbing news for you.

I do not love your child.

The rest of the country does not love your child either.

And the reason why we're staring at you every other bite is not because we're acknowledging some sort of mutual understanding that kids will be kids but rather we want to kill you for letting your brat ruin our dinner.

Or our plane ride.

Or trip to the grocery store.

Or the other adult-oriented establishments you've unilaterally decided will serve as an extension of your toddler's playpen because you lack the fortitude to properly discipline them, in public and at home.

And we know you don't discipline them at home because you don't possess "the look." If you had "the look," you wouldn't need to say "sit down" a thousand times.

If you had "the look," you wouldn't need to say much of anything at all. But this nonverbal cue needs to be introduced early and reinforced diligently with consequences for transgressions, just like potty training. And whenever a kid throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the shopping mall it's just as bad as his soiling his pants to spite his parents, and it stinks just as much.

This is the part of child-rearing people don't like to discuss, because socially, it's not OK to dislike kids. The ugly truth is it's the spineless parents who parade their undisciplined children around like royalty that make people dislike kids.

Parents who expect complete strangers to just deal with it are not doing anyone, including their children, any favors. They are actually making things worse. Not only are their children allowed to interrupt social events and settings when they are young, but they often grow into disruptive forces in the classrooms later. And nobody likes them for that.
Peep the rest here.

Question: Does "new age parenting" encourage kids to be self-centered brats? If you're a parent, where do you strike the balance between allowing your child the freedom to explore the world around them, and having them respect the rights and boundaries of others?

[1] Well, other than mine and those related to me.

* Yeah, I know, that photo at the top makes no sense. But maaaaaan is it funny.

h/t: Vanilla Latte

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony Acquittal Open Thread.

Okay, so she (mostly) got off. I'm not really sure why, or whether I should care, but since ya'll are gonna inevitably talk about this, why not do it here?

Question: What are your thoughts about Casey Anthony (mostly) getting off scott free? What really happened here? Why did this story garner so much media attention? Open Mic - 7.5.11

Okay, I'm back from vacation. The blog isn't yet. We'll be back soon enough. Chime in below.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Big Daddy Kane On TVOne's Unsung.

While the inclusion of Mister Cee on anything seems like a misstep in retrospect, you gotta give TVOne props for thoroughly documenting The Greatest Rapper Of All Time.

Yeah, I said it. The Greatest Rapper Of All Time. Anyone care to dispute me?!? Didn't think so.