Friday, December 30, 2011 Holiday Open Mic

The blog is taking a much needed holiday hiatus. We'll be back soon, but till then, entertain yourselves.

Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ron Paul Is Not Too Fond Of Blacks. Or Gays. Or Jews.

If there's one thing about politricks that really peeves me, it's the constant game of guilt by association that typically pops up during political campaigns. People's past business partners, 3rd cousins 5 times removed, and college weed man all become co-signers through which a candidate's character is judged. This special brand of nonsense reached its zenith during the 2008 campaign when Barack Obama's occasionally nutty occasional pastor became a household name.

"...coming home... to roost"

So when I first heard about Ron Paul's alleged newsletters back in 08', I sorta dismissed it as more of the same. Paul wasn't registering high on anyone's polls, and really wasn't in any danger of actually, you know, winning a primary or caucus. This year, Paul's still in no danger of actually, you know, winning a primary or caucus, but with slow news cycles leading up to Iowa, the press has to have something to talk about. Cue the Newsletter Outrage, complete to fact checking via the Washington Post.
Accusations of racism against Paul first surfaced during the candidate’s 1996 congressional campaign, when Democratic opponent Lefty Morris unveiled racially tinged quotes from a newsletter the Texas libertarian had published during his 12-year hiatus from public office.

The national media latched onto the issue during Paul’s 2008 presidential bid, after the New York Times and the New Republic highlighted derogatory statements about blacks and gays from the bulletins.

The issue resurfaced as Paul moved to the front of the GOP pack in recent weeks, and the congressman appeared to be fed up with the matter as he walked away from an interview in which a CNN reporter pressed for more answers.

We won’t be the judge of whether Paul is a bigot, but we can examine the extent to which he had control over his publications. Are we to believe he never reviewed the newsletters that bore his name? Would he have eliminated the messages if he’d seen them?

Paul helped form the Ron Paul & Associates corporation in 1984, and the now-defunct company, for which he served as president, began publishing newsletters the following year. The monthly publications included Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.

Many of the derogatory comments came from a 1992 commentary in the Political Report titled “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism.” The article blames African American men for the L.A. riots, saying, “The criminals who terrorized our cities — in riots and on every non-riot day — are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are.”

Another passage from the article tries to explain how the tumult finally ended, saying, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.” The writer gives no credit to police, state troopers or soldiers from the National Guard and Army and the Marines who helped end the chaos.

That wasn’t an isolated incident with Paul’s newsletters. A separate article from the Survival Report said, “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”

The Paul publications also criticized homosexuals, saying gays “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick,” referring to AIDS.

The articles contain no bylines and no signatures, just Ron Paul’s name in giant letters on the publications’ mastheads. This leaves a tiny bit of wiggle room for the Texas congressman to defend himself. That’s what he’s done, telling the media he has “no idea” how the inflammatory comments made it into print.
Hosting a blog that runs ads and occasional guest posts is a fair enough parallel to running a newsletter back in the mid 90's, so I'm gonna put on my expect hat here. Paul was supposedly making enough money to supplement his income as a doctor, so there's a good chance this wasn't something he just did for a few hours a weekend over the kitchen table. His haul for these newsletters was supposedly in the millions, so there's little to no chance he had no clue what was actually being written there. Even if he didn't know, he was responsible for hiring the people who did.

On this blog, when I run guest posts, it's with the (unwritten) disclaimer that I don't necessarily agree with everything the guest says. On that note, since it's technically my house, it's (correctly) assumed that I made the decision to run the post, thus, I've got a reasonable amount of culpability should people object to what's said, because, after all, I made the decision to post it. And yeah, there have been lots of times when I regretted running a guest post. CJames, I'm looking at you.

On that same note, Paul can't both profit from a newsletter and feign ignorance at its contents. It's not fair to assume that he thinks "95% of black males in DC are are semi-criminal or entirely criminal", but it he made the editorial decision (or hired someone who did) to publish such an ignorant statement, and profited from it, there's some sliver of a co-sign there.

I'm just sayin'.

Of course, none of this matters. Paul won't make it to Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney was born to lose to Obama, and that's pretty much all she wrote.

Question: Is it fair to make Ron Paul guilty by association because of the ignorant comments in his newsletter? How about guest posts on blogs? It is partially assumed that if I run a guest post, I sorta agree with it?

Thursday, December 22, 2011 Guest Post - A Flag, A Noose, and a Blank Stare.

[Editor's Note: AverageCommnenter™ extraordinaire Marbles shares a recent encounter of race, flags, and revisionist history. As usual, show our guest some love (or not) you-know-where.]

This week a Facebook friend of mine, someone I’ve known casually since elementary school[1], posted a photo entitled “another drawing.” The photo was of a sketch, neatly rendered in colored pencil, of the Confederate flag. In front of the flag was a noose. Underneath, flying proudly on a banner, were the words “Southern Justice.”

“WTF?” I commented below. “Are you serious?!

“What?” she replied. “It’s a symbol just like the American flag. It represents honor and tradition.” Her husband then chimed in. “This flag symbolizes what this country was built on and should still stand for,” he said. “It symbolizes living your life the way you want to without government assholes interfering, and the right to say what you please.”

“That’s the southern revisionist narrative,” I said. “That flag stands for nothing but domestic terrorism. The kind practiced by those who could burn people alive on Saturday and go to church on Sunday.”

“You need to get an education,” said one friend-of-the-friend. “Both blacks and whites fought under that flag and died with honor.” “It’s a shame that she just wanted to share her drawing with her friends and you come on here and insult her,” added another.

“You guys don’t understand what ‘southern justice’ really meant,” I said. “Do you know what that noose truly means to people?”

“The noose conveys the right to exercise backwoods justice instead of letting the courts give child molesters and drug dealers get a slap on the wrist,” the husband replied. “It’s tradition, not racism.”[2]

“Mob justice has no place in a civilized society,” I said. “As for the other thing, the motivating force behind the Confederacy is a matter of public record.”

“You are showing your ignorance,” said the husband. “I could argue the facts with you all day long, as I’m quite the Civil War buff.[3] The war was about southern states being taxed to death, not slavery.”

“That’s completely bogus,” I said. “The reasons for the war are not disputed history. And you just don’t get you’re really invoking with that noose and flag. Look into the ‘postcards’ that were so popular. Read about the ‘souvenirs.’”

“One of the few freedoms we have left in this country,” the husband replied, “is the freedom to have our own opinions. And you’re perfectly entitled to believe anything you read in a government-produced textbook. “In case we don’t talk again,” he added, “Merry Christmas. Unless that offends you, too.”

Something nagged at me.

I walked up to the desk of “Cam,” the only black woman working in the office and a former southerner in her fifties. “Cam,” I asked. “When you were a kid in West Palm, what exactly did they teach you about the Civil War?”

“They taught us whatever they taught us,” she said breezily. “Whatever it was, I read it in the schoolbooks they gave us, passed the test, and moved on.” I didn’t like where this was going.

“Yes, but what was in those books?” I pressed.

“Now how do you expect me to remember something like that?” she said, looking at me skeptically. “There were a million things in those books they gave us. And they’re all the same things that are in those books today. You read ‘em, you pass the test, and you’re done. You can’t keep all these things in your head. You just can’t!”

“Yes, but…” Regrettably the ultimate jerkass question was called for. “Do you remember what the Civil War was fought over?”

“Well, I don’t know,” she said. “I suppose I could remember if I thought long and hard about it. But I don’t think about these things on a day to day basis, Marbles. I don’t go around thinking about the Civil War.”

“Wasn’t it about civil rights?” piped up the white girl who works at the other desk. Ever felt like a drowning fish?

“You guys really don’t know what the American Civil War was about?” I was talking to them both, but my eyes were squarely on Cam. “It was about civil rights!” the white girl asserted again.

“You really expect me to recall something I looked up in a book a hundred years ago?” Cam said in amazement. “You think I got the time to rack my brains like that? I don’t remember what it was about and it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not gonna use that stuff for anything in my life.”

“Cam,” I said, “it was over slavery.”

“Well, so it was over slavery,” she shrugged. “I never lived through any of that. I don’t spend my time thinking about things like that, Marbles. I got other things to think about in my life, you know.”

“Guys,” I said, regretting that the office’s walls weren’t mine to bang my head against. “If we’re all this historically illiterate…”

“Hey,” the white girl frowned.

“If we’re all this historically illiterate,” I went on, “that’s why we’re so easy to manipulate.”

“I’m not easy to manipulate,” Cam replied with singsong firmness. “Nobody manipulates me.”

There was nowhere left to go from there, except back to my desk.

“She is right ,” I had to admit. “Nobody does.”

Question: What’s behind this northern embracing of sanitized southern mythology? Is it an inevitable result of national, rightwing backlash culture? Does Cam’s nonchalance indicate a larger problem with historical amnesia among those most affected by our nation’s past? How the bloody #&%$!! does all this happen, anyway?

[1] Keep in mind these Facebook people are all fellow northerners. I don’t get it, either.

[2] I know what you’re thinking, and answer is yes. They invoked that kid.

[3] Incidentally, this is a link the guy sent to “educate” me. Queensland, Australia? Really? (shrug)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The GOP Hands Obama A Victory. Obama Concedes Defeat.

While I'm obviously not #TeamGOP come November 2012, I'm hardly all that gung ho about pulling the lever for President Obama either.[1] A candidacy that seemed so capable of excellence has essentially resulted in a presidency full of "meh". This brotha should legally change his middle name from Hussein to Mediocrity.

Chief among my concerns about President Obama has been his style of leadership, or complete and utter lack thereof. He delegates when he should set the agenda. He leads from behind instead of pulling the wagon. He compromises with an opposition to whom "compromise" is a four letter word. And of course, he walks softly, and carries the proverbial small stick when it comes to calling out the GOP on their foolishness.[2] Like hair loss in women, he's one great big ball of disappointment. Yesterday was practically a textbook example in Obama's own patented brand of leadership #fail.
The House on Tuesday rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, along with unemployment benefits, plunging Washington on the eve of Christmas into uncertainty about the fate of the tax cut enjoyed by 160 million workers.

On a vote of 229 to 193, the House set aside the Senate bill and requested a formal conference with the Senate, setting up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama, who has demanded that the House approve the short-term plan now to avoid a Jan. 1 tax hike.

Seven Republicans voted against defeating the Senate bill and sending the legislation to conference. Democrats, who have pushed for the full-year payroll tax cut for months, say Congress should accept the temporary measure now and return in January to solve an impasse over how to extend the cut for the full year.

The Senate deal would also postpone a scheduled cut in reimbursement rates for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
So, essentially, by pulling their typical d*ck move, all in the name of rewarding special interests with permission to build a gas line to Canada, the GOP is holding up the extension of a payroll tax holiday, which could take money out of the pockets of Real Americans in a few weeks. Public opinion polls show Real Americans are solidly behind Obama on this issue, and many within the GOP were for this issue before they were against it. Obama's own approval rating is now back around 50%, which probably says more about the circus tent of GOP 2012 contenders than anything he's done personally. If there's any time to call the GOP out on their BS in the most damning, and public of manners, this would be it. So what does Obama do?!?
Shortly after the House vote, Obama made a statement calling on House Republicans to “do the right thing” and “put politics aside” to vote on the Senate bill.

“Let’s not play brinksmanship. The American people are weary of it. They’re tired of it,” Obama declared. “I’m calling on the speaker and the House Republican leadership to bring up the Senate bill for a vote.”
"Do the right thing"?

"Calling on the speaker and GOP leadership"?


What. The. F*ck?!?

Seriously, if there's a time when Obama would be totally justified in dropping an expletive, this would be it. But in his typical reserved, rehearsed fashion, he just says more even-keeled baloney about "bipartisanship" and "putting politics aside". Who exactly does he think he's up against? This isn't like playing Sasha and Malia in a friendly game of Wii Tennis, this is fullscale retail politricks. Kindly calling on the GOP to "take up a vote" and "do the right thing" is like asking T-Pain to kindly stop using AutoTune. It's not going to happen, my friend.

Whatever happened to driving over to Capitol Hill and bustin' some heads open? How about threatening to withhold the salaries of Congress until this gets done? Maybe threatening to force the Senate to return and no vacations till this gets resolved?!?[3] Where is the passion for the plight of millions of Americans who will see their paychecks shrink because the GOP is playing political chicken with a completely unrelated issue of special interest?

Where is the fire, damnit?!?

Of course, I've answered my own question, and have nobody to blame but myself. Common sense would have shown that at no point in Obama's bio or professional history has he been the type to confront, clap back, or call someone out. History would have also shown that the GOP is more than willing to do all the above, and then some, even when the facts don't back up their assertions.

Obama isn't a fighter, Obama is Young Berg.[4]

In a perfect world, the GOP would just snatch his chain and the rest of us would be spared the residual damage. In the real world, Obama's lack of fight will probably mean a few less dollars in our pockets very soon, and an closer than it needs to be presidential election next November.

Grow a pair (or two) Barry. I'm just sayin'.

Question: Who's to blame for Obama's lack of leadership? Obama himself, or us for stupidly assuming he'd somehow morph into a fighter once he took office?

[1] Dear Obama Campaign, please stop calling me asking for donations. Thank you.

[2] I don't have the time to list all the examples of where/how his leadership has been lacking. Click on that "The Negro Prez" tag and get familiar before you come at me sideways.

[3] No, I don't know if this is legal or Constitutional. I don't care. Nor do the American People. Do it anyway.

[4] In case you missed that one... here. Play catch up.

Literally Ashy Or Classy?!? - Palmer's Cocoa Butter For Men Commercial.

As a medium brown brother with combination skin, I love me some Palmer's Cocoa Butter[1]. I mean, love it, especially after shaving. At this time of year, slathering a bit on can help keep the ash away. It's like Kryptonite for ashy skin. Of course, the problem with cocoa butter is the smell. It's overpowering. It's hard not to notice. You smell oily. And yes, my wife hates it.

Married Dude Problems.

Anyways, when I heard sports talk radio commercials for a special brand of scent-free Palmer's Cocoa Butter just for men, I rushed right down to my neighborhood CVS, which, of course, doesn't carry the product. If you know where to get it, holla at me. I'd hate to order something so frivolous online, but I also can't drive around all day looking for it.

So, I'm Googling the product, and I come across this f*ckery...

Look, I'm not much of an NFL fan, so I can't tell you if the McCourty twins are gainfully employed with a real team, or one of those Arena League outfits. What I can tell you is that whoever their agent is, that bama needs to be fired.

Seriously, what's the point of this ad? Do they simply want to portray these twins are two shiftless footballing Negroes who can barely read? Because if not, they might need some help with voice inflection or something. And oh yeah, don't think I missed the subliminal message at the end. Did you?

Sorry, this might just be the Ashiest commercial I've ever seen. Literally.

All jokes aside though, if you know what store carries that product, holla at me.

Question: Literally Ashy Or Classy?!? Do these guys need a new agent? Are they even in the NFL?!? What's up with the Jungle Fever-ness at the end?

[1] Despite the preponderance of such things around here of late, no, this isn't a paid plug. I just really like the product, and my wife really hates the smell. So somebody help me find this, please!!! Open Mic Tuesday.

Chasin' paper today. Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Monday, December 19, 2011

If I Were A Poor Black Kid.

Okay, I'm admittedly (waaay) late to the show here, but hey, maybe you were under a rock last week and missed this opinion piece from For the clueless, tech section (?) "contributor" (?) Gene Marks used the President's recent speech in Kansas as the starting point for a much-maligned essay about how inner city youth could do so much better in life if they'd just work a bit harder and learn how to use Google Scholar. (?) It is practically a textbook example of liberal[1] white guilt and paternalism. I'm only going to excerpt a bit of it here, since the piece probably needs to be read in its entirety to get the full gist.
The President’s speech got me thinking. My kids are no smarter than similar kids their age from the inner city. My kids have it much easier than their counterparts from West Philadelphia. The world is not fair to those kids mainly because they had the misfortune of being born two miles away into a more difficult part of the world and with a skin color that makes realizing the opportunities that the President spoke about that much harder. This is a fact. In 2011.

I am not a poor black kid. I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background. So life was easier for me. But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city. It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them. Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind. I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed. Still. In 2011. Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.

It takes brains. It takes hard work. It takes a little luck. And a little help from others. It takes the ability and the know-how to use the resources that are available. Like technology. As a person who sells and has worked with technology all my life I also know this.

If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

President Obama was right in his speech last week. The division between rich and poor is a national problem. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality. It’s ignorance. So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them. Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grand mom) is working two jobs to survive and are just (understandably) too plain tired to do anything else in the few short hours they’re home. Many have teachers who are overburdened and too stressed to find the time to help every kid that needs it. Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves – like my kids. Except that my kids are just lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system around to push them in the right direction.

Technology can help these kids. But only if the kids want to be helped. Yes, there is much inequality. But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.
Again, you probably need to read the whole thing before you comment, but I think you get the basic premise. If black kids just tried a bit harder, and were a bit more resourceful in utilizing technology, they could all be mediocre writers for a mostly irrelevant magazine's website. This, obviously, is pure sh*t.

Look, I've never been a poor black kid either. Black, sure? Poor? Not so much. My parents busted their humps in college and worked hard to become the first ever graduates from their prospective families, excelled in their careers, and stressed education to my and my brothers. I grew up in a relatively crime-free suburb of a mid-sized city in the South, and went to okay (not great, but certainly not terrible) schools. I've never wondered where my next meal was coming from, whether or not we'd have a place to sleep at night, or had to dodge bullets on the way to the corner store. So in the most crude of senses, I'm just as clueless about some aspects of what is means to be a "poor black kid" as Mr. Marks. At least I can admit as much.

The problem with Marks' advice is obvious: if escaping poverty was as simple as downloading a few apps, there wouldn't be any poor people left. If you're worried about keeping a roof over your head, getting WiFi is probably the least of your concerns. If your school seldom has heat and working bathroom, let alone capable instructors, getting grades good enough to skate off to a posh private school isn't happening. School choice is great if you happen to win the choice lottery, but well, it's a lottery, which means far more families lose than win. Let's not even get started on bigger structural, societal, and familial issues that can drag down even the most optimistic self-starter.

The sad thing is, the article's best suggestion gets lost in the "I know what's best for you, even if I don't know anything about you" premise of the whole post. Black kids should indeed learn how to write code, design websites, and develop apps. This is where jobs are going to be in the future, not in manufacturing, and certainly not in anything even remotely government related. Of course, most urban schools don't have the resources to support these sorts of programs. A better use of Mr. Marks' lofty pedestal might have been to challenge companies and those in tech fields to invest time and money into developing and supporting such programs. You know, mentoring, aka: taking The AverageBro™ Challenge. As is, Marks' simply puts the challenge on the kids themselves to be resourceful. Again, if it were that simple...

Perhaps this whole article is easier to explain away with some context. Forbes "contributors" like Marks get paid by the page-click. Marks has a history of writing such bait, including a notable recent hit piece about Steve Jobs' death. This guy's goal is a agitate, all the name of the almightly dollar. So, essentially, anyone who bothered to argue with this brick wall has only made him richer in the process. Shame on me. Shame.

Nice try Mr. Marks, and nice try Forbes. Do better.

Question: If you were a poor black kid, how could/would you singlehandedly lift yourself from a life of despair and shiftlessness?!?

[1] I'm just making an assumption here. The tone of the piece (to me) seemed to have good intentions, as opposed to the typical conservative "pull yourself up by your bootstaps" blather. I could, again, be very wrong.

Friday, December 16, 2011

AB Grades The NBA Trades.

Funny how things can change over the course of a month. Just a few weeks ago, I was cursing David Stern and the NBA's ludicrous millionaires vs billionaires pissing match. After the new labor deal was struck, camps opened, and an unprecedented flurry of trades and free agent moves, the NBA's preseason kicks off tonight as my Wizards host the 76ers.[1]

It goes without saying, but of course, all is forgiven.

It may seem like an exaggeration, but it seems like at least 1/3 of the league's players have changed places this offseason. I personally can't keep up with all this stuff, and I'm a diehard fan. Lots of free agents are still out there, so it's possible dozens of additional players won't land anywhere until opening (Christmas) night. But since we have nothing better to do today (sorry, I'm not touching this budget nonsense in DC, or those increasingly wacky GOP debates. All done.) why not break down a few of the most notable player moves?

Chris Paul Goes To Hollywood - I've been the both Lakers and Clippers games. The difference is startling. The Clips have always been more of the "working man's" team (read: Mexicans), mostly by virtue of having tickets that go for half those of the Lakers. I still found the Clippers fans to be a lot more knowledgeable and focused on the game, regardless of outcome. Lakers fans personify "see and be seen". At both Staples' Center and The Great Western Forum, I've witnessed crowds so disengaged and disinterested, you'd swear you'd somehow stumbled into a mortuary. For a franchise so storied, so successful, it was kinda weird, but hey, winning eventually gets boring too. Clipper fans, assuming they can still afford tickets after the team's jacked prices through the roof, will surely relish the prospect of being LA's better team this year, and with Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler, it's possible. Still, I think at some point they'll regret giving up Eric Gordon. Badly. And need I remind you, these are still The Freakin' LA Clippers. Calvin Murphy's Law Of Basketball still applies.

What The Hell At The Lakers Doing?!? - First they were trading for CP3. Then Dwight Howard. Then they inexplicably gave Lamar Kardashian to a heated conference rival for a bag of Utz. Meanwhile, the team's core is just getting older and older, there's still no point guard, depth is questionable, and some guy named Metta World Peace will be jacking up 3 pointers all season. I'm not predicting a total meltdown, but this squad might find itself opening the playoffs on the road. Possibly at Staples Center.[2]

The Knicks Finally Get Their Big Man - I didn't think New York had the cap room to make any moves, but they cut the aforementioned Billups and landed prize free agent big man Tyson Chandler. How can I put this nicely? This is going to end badly. Bad. Ly. Chandler isn't the most durable of big men, so it wouldn't shock anyone to see him go down and miss his customary 30+ games this year. To get him, the Knicks gave up their only proven PG, and dropped some valuable reserves. There's absolutely nobody behind Stoudemire and Chandler, two young guards will be manning the backcourt, and D'Antoni's plan to fix it all is to put the ball in Melo's hand and have him initiate the offense. Am I really the only one that sees this trainwreck in motion?!?

Superman Is Grounded - I would feel bad for Dwight Howard if I had half a heart for a division rival. I don't. As-is, Howard seems likely to just play out his contract in Orlando and hit the free agent market next Summer, at which time I will become Dwight Howard's biggest fan if he signs in DC. Of course this won't happen, and neither will the Magic make the playoffs this year. If that sounds a bit too bold a prediction to you, consider Howard's running mates (awful), coach (lame duck), and GM (very lame duck). Combine this with a sulking star player who'd rather be elsewhere, and you have the recipe for a .400 season.

The Best Signing Of The Summer - David West to the Pacers. West (assuming he's healthy) is exactly what the upstart Pacers need. The guy can put up 16/7 in his sleep, will play well off Roy Hibbert, and make life much easier for Danny Granger. I'm still not really sold on Darren Collison at the point, but mark my words, Paul George is going to have a breakout year. This team is still too boring to watch on League Pass (just being honest), but I see the makings of a 50 win squad.[3]

Heat Check - While a few other Eastern Conference teams made moves to improve, Miami has essentially stood pat, still leaving their gaping holes at PG and C unaddressed. Signing Shane Battier just smacks of duplication. Where exactly is he going to play, given how many minutes Bron and D-Wade already take up? I'll make a not-so-wild prediction, and say the Heat don't return to the NBA Finals this year. Tying up your cap with 3 max-salaried players doesn't leave much room for tinkering around the edges.

A Few Teams Will Really Suck. Perhaps Historically. - I don't see how the Bobcats or Hornets break 10 wins this year. Combined. If that seems a bit bleak, it probably is, but if there are two teams that really need to be relocated, these would be my pick. I don't see Toronto being much better.

My Early (aka: extremely premature) Predictions...

Rookie Of The Year - Derrick Williams
MVP - Dirk Nowitzki
NBA Champion - San Antonio Spurs (yeah, really)
NBA League Pass "Must Stay Up Till Midnight And Watch" Champions - Clippers
NBA League Pass "Probably Terrible, But Intriguing Anyway" Champion - Minnesota Timberwolves
Player Most Likely To Become A Household Name - John Wall

Question: What was the most impressive offseason move in your opinion? Any predictions for the season?

[1] No, I won't be there, nor at Verizon Center very often this year. My buddies and I all decided to either not renew, or cancel our ticket packages very a variety of different reasons. Still a fan, just not (necessarily) a paying one. This season.

[2] Do the math.

[3] In a regular 82 game season, of course.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 Open Mic Thursday.

On the road (again!). Hey, it's Q4 and deals need to be closed, because Montessori school doesn't pay for itself. Sorry. Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

AverageNation™ Obama Approval Rating - December 2011.

Okay, it's AverageNation™ Obama Approval Rating Poll time yet again. Try saying that 5 times!
This is probably one of Obama's lowest showing in our poll to date. No need to lie, I was originally supposed to run this every quarter, but well, this is a black owned and operated website. Typical CPT rules apply.

Eventually I'll get around to compiling the 3 years of poll results into a nifty graph, but much like other approval ratings, our general trend has been downward. Going into an election year, I'm wondering what ya'll need too see from The Prez, and what he specifically needs to do to get re-elected. Chime in below.

Question: Did you Approve of Obama's job performance or Not? Why? Open Mic Tuesday.

Long weekend, longer week ahead as I try and wrap up end of fiscal year stuff on The Day Job. Activity may be light this week, so entertain yourselves. Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

And The Burn Notice Sweepstakes Winner Is....

...K_Jones601 from Hattiesburg, MS. Congrats K_Jones, your Burn Notice prize pack is on the way. And thanks to you guys for the 100+ entries. I had no idea AverageNation™ were such big fans of Burn Notice but there's a great chance most of the entries were directed to the contest from some other site.

Anyways, props to USA Network and 360i for the gift bag.

Name That Sample - "I'm Ready".

Yep, it's back!!! Name That Sample is simple: I play the original song, you tell me who sampled it. Winner gets a day's supply of Cyber CapriSuns™. As always, no Googling! Google is for losers.

This mostly forgettable 80's song by Kano has been sampled numerous times. But who can name the most songs that have used these delightful bars?

Difficulty Level: Easy as pie.

Question: How many songs can you name that used the "I'm Ready" sample? Don't be fooled into just listening to the opening bars, or you'll prolly miss half the possible answers. Feel free to cheat and use other commenters' work, but do NOT Google! Google is for losers.

Monday, December 12, 2011 Hot Topics 12.12.11

Hey, it's 12.12 today! Cool, huh? Here's the daily rundown, with headlines taken from links you sent in/suggested.

GOP Debate Shenanigans - Okay, no need to lie, I started tuning these out after the 342nd one back in October. But this weekend's debate apparently had some rapid fire back and forth between heated rivals. Speaking of which...

Peterson/Khan. - For those of you who think the sport of boxing is rigged, this bout probably didn't exactly improve your perception. Seriously, I was rooting for Peterson myself. Once-homeless DC kid, gets title shot in hometown versus greatly favored foreign opponent. It was a storybook ending that wrote itself. Unfortunately, Khan got dinged for two very questionable pushes, the judges made did some iffy scoring, and Peterson ends up winning a much-disputed title. Good for DC, but not exactly good for the sport.

NBA Trade Shenanigans - I didn't think the Chris Paul/Lakers trade either, but don't think the league should have vetoed it. Now, poor Paul is probably headed to the Clippers, a punchline that just writes itself.

Obama/60 Minutes- I didn't watch it, did you?

Cannibus-J. Cole Diss - How random.

Question: What do you think about these issues?

Friday, December 9, 2011 Open Mic Friday

Long weekend, longer week ahead as I try and wrap up end of fiscal year stuff on The Day Job. Activity may be light this week, so entertain yourselves. Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

(No Longer All That) Fat Joe Speaks On Dramatic Weight Loss.

No need to lie, I think this dude prolly did gastric bypass, but I'm just glad to see him still alive.

Drop a gem on em', Joey Crack.

Do We Really Need A Payroll Tax Extension?!?

Nobody likes paying taxes. I've yet to meet a person who wouldn't want to bring home more of their check. Unfortunately, stuff has to get paid for somehow. If you love paved roads, police protection, and libraries, you just grin and bear it.

Oddly, when the Congress' sole focus should be on creating more jobs, we're on the cusp of a Presidential election season and the somewhat (un)related issue of taxes is front and center yet again.
Republican Party that has for decades benefited from a commitment to lower taxes is now finding itself on the defensive on the issue, as members face a deep split over a Democratic plan to extend a payroll tax reduction.

What might normally be a no-brainer for most congressional Republicans is being resisted by many tea-party-conscious members who oppose what they consider a short-term gimmick that would worsen the federal deficit and siphon money from Social Security.

Republican leaders fear that the party, which has spent the past year fighting Democrats’ proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, cannot now allow the payroll tax to increase without handing Democrats a powerful election-year argument that the GOP supports lower taxes only for the rich.

House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss what to do. After suggesting that they might vote on a GOP-sponsored proposal this week, Republicans now plan to keep debating the issue in the coming days and are unlikely to vote until next week.

Republican leaders say they want to find a compromise with Democrats that would keep the payroll tax rate at 4.2 percent next year, rather than allowing it to revert to 6.2 percent — but they reject a Democratic plan to charge a surtax on people who make more than $1 million a year to pay for the tax cut.

Democrats have proposed lowering the tax even further, to 3.1 percent, saying that the more workers keep and spend, the better it is for the economy.

At that rate, the average family would pay $1,500 less than it would at the 6.2 percent rate, at a cost of $185 billion. If the rate remains at 4.2 percent, the average family will continue to save $1,000 per year.

House leaders are hoping to entice conservative support by packaging the payroll tax extension with other priorities, such as a provision that would make it more likely that construction would begin soon on a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
I'm gonna call BS on both sides here. Honestly, if the deficit situation is as dire as everyone says it is, then nobody should be getting a tax cut right now. A tax hike across the board, would actually make more logical sense. It wouldn't be easy to swallow, but it would be the right thing to do. Sure, tax the rich at an even higher rate, but make everyone pay more so the pain is shared universally. Again, if we're in as deep a hole as the Tea Party says, everyone should indeed be on the hook. Of course, this isn't the politically expedient thing to do, which also leads me to believe the deficit issue isn't nearly as dire as those in power say it is. How come there's no serious discussion about severely cutting the money wasted on defense contractors each year?

The Democrats are indeed waging class warfare here, all in the name of creating an election year talking point. Instead of keeping the payroll tax rate steady, they want to lower it even more. Sure, this would help me personally, but it's somewhat dishonest and unnecessary. Just keep the rate as-is. Paying for this cut by taxing the rich is obviously a ploy to piggyback on some of the Occupy Wall Street momentum and translate it into enthusiasm in the voting booth.

The GOP is also waging their own version of class warfare, it just happens to be of a far more nauseating variety. In a sense, they're doing the very thing they always accuse Democrats of doing: wanting something but not wanting to pay for it. Giving that payroll tax cut to the middle class is going to cost a lot of money (in lost tax revenue) and that money's only going to add to the deficit unless there are corresponding cuts in spending elsewhere. It does indeed make complete logical sense to offset this by asking those least vulnerable during this recession (aka: the rich, who have only gotten richer) to pay. No, it isn't "fair", but it does make sense. By threatening to essentially raise taxes on the working class in order to avoid raising taxes on the wealthy, the GOP is playing right into Obama's hands. I'm sorta shocked they don't see this, but then again, foresight isn't a quality often associates with the Republican Party circa 2011. Just look at the bozos they're running against Obama.

In the end, I think how much/little President Obama is involved in getting this resolved will be quite telling. If he has learned his lessons from the past, he'll make getting this handled his number one priority between now and Dec 31st. He won't delegate this to Pelosi and Co. He will be visible and audible in his leadership. He won't leave for his annual 17 day (!!!) Hawaiian vacation until this is done. He will not compromise by allowing the rich to get off scott free. He will demand this be paid for in full by imposing some reasonable surcharge on the rich that covers the cost of the cuts for the middle class. He will not allow this to go to the 11th hour, just as last year's tax cuts/debt ceiling debates played out. He will (for once, damnit!) be the leader we all thought we elected in 08'.

Maybe "compromise" means keeping the payroll tax at the current 4.2% rate instead of cutting it further. And he sure as hell better not allow something like an oil pipeline that won't create any jobs anytime soon to be the deciding factor. That's classic GOP maneuvering, and Obama should certainly be smarter by now. Call this nonsense out, and don't cave in.

We'll see what happens.

Question: Should payroll taxes be cut further, stay at the same rate, or raised? Should these be paid for by taxing the rich? Is this a winning election year strategy for the GOP or the Democrats? What sort of leadership do you need to see from President Obama as this plays out?!?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Should A Woman With 15 (!!!) Kids Be Evicted?!?

Okay, you know the routine by now. Sometimes I rhyme slow and sometimes I rhyme quick give my spin on stories, and sometimes I just roll em' out there for you to dissect, sans my patented brand of snark and Negro Nonsense. Today, would be the latter.

Watch this video, and go in. It's a compilation of a few news stories, so you might have to watch the whole 10 mins to get the full context before commenting. Got it? Good.

I'm sure this convo could probably take a million and one different directions, so I simply ask that you all keep it respectful. I will police the comment threads if I have to. Consider yourselves forewarned. You don't wanna face the wrath of sheriff AB.

Okay, chime in below.

Question: What, if anything, did you take away from this video?!?

* Hat tip (as usual) to Bol.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Enter The Burn Notice Sweepstakes!!!

This contest is now closed.

While I'm a big fan of USA's Suits, Burn Notice is actually a better show in many respects. If you love the hit show as much as I do, you'll love our latest giveaway.

The fine folks at USA Network and 360i are giving away an awesome Burn Notice prize pack to one special reader. The prize pack includes:

* Custom Tote Bag
* Season 4 DVD
* Bar Set
* Mojitos 101 Book
* Burn Notice T-Shirt
* Burn Notice Hat

All you have to do to enter is shoot me an email telling me why you're Burn Notice's biggest fan. No entries in the comments section, please!

The winner will be announced here next week.

Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 10pm Eastern on USA Network.

Why Would A Black Man Wanna Fly A Confederate Flag?!?

Okay, since you asked for it...
Byron Thomas is 19, black, a freshman at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and a proud Southerner. He hung a Confederate flag in his dorm room window until the university asked him to take it down because several people had complained about it. (The university later stepped back from the request, saying all students have the right to free speech.)

"I know it's kinda weird because I'm black," Thomas said in a CNN iReport he submitted. "When I look at this flag, I just don't see racism. I see pride, respect. Southern pride, that's what I see."

"Ignorance gave that flag a bad name, ignorant people like the KKK," he told CNN's Don Lemon.

The post got other iReporters talking, including Omekongo Dbinga, who said Thomas has the right to fly the flag, but there's no denying the flag's history. Egberto Willies said he doesn't understand Thomas' view of the Confederacy, but he thinks the North and South both have ugly histories with race relations.

Thomas said he won't put the flag back up, although he believes he has the right to do so. The university plans to host a discussion about the flag after students return from winter break.
Here's the video.

I'll refrain from sharing my comments here. I'd much rather hear yours.

Question: Is this Negro out of his mind, or is he simply displaying pride in his Southern heritage?!?

Name That Sample - "I Like What You're Doing To Me".

Yep, it's back!!! Name That Sample is simple: I play the original song, you tell me who sampled it. Winner gets a day's supply of Cyber CapriSuns™. As always, no Googling! Google is for losers.

This mostly forgettable 80's song by Young And Company has been sampled numerous times. But who can name the most songs that have used these delightful bars?

Difficulty Level: Hard.

Question: How many songs can you name that used the "I Like What You're Doing To Me" sample? Don't be fooled into just listening to the opening bars, or you'll prolly miss half the possible answers. Feel free to cheat and use other commenters' work, but do NOT Google! Google is for losers.

Monday, December 5, 2011 Guest Post - The Day The Cooning Died: Herman Cain “Suspends” Presidential Campaign.

[Editor's Note: I too saw Herman Cain's disgraceful exit from the candidacy in real time Saturday, but then I clicked back over to the UNC/Kentucky game and totally forgot about writing a post about it. Thankfully, my cyber homie RiPPA did. Here are his thoughts, which are pretty much my thoughts as well. As usual, show our guest some love, you-know-where.]

So it was with great anticipation that I awaited Herman Cain’s big announcement today. Not that I supported him, his platform, or anything he had rto say. Instead, the blog author in me wanted to see if this most recent gift from the political comedy Gods would fade to Black. Would he stay? Would he leave? Would he join the Miami Heat? These were all the thoughts twirling around in my head. I figured as much as he loved the media attention, there was no way that he would drop out of the race. Let’s face it, Herman Cain is like Sarah Palin with a penis; the more face time they get on camera, the more money they make. Sure they say that their aspirations are fueled in the interest of we the people. But I’m sorry, ain’t n’aan one of them fools ever paid a bill in my household. Instead, in their infinite narcissism their’s no such thing as bad press, if it makes you money.

As the time drew closer, I wondered if Herman Cain would disappoint me by actually dropping out. Sure his campaign was now all but in full Rigor mortis since Ginger White announced their thirteen year affair. An affair which saw the exchange of money all unknown to Mrs. Gloria Cain, the wife of my latest political humorist motivation. An affair within which Cain has denied any sexual improprieties. I suppose one can conclude that it was strictly platonic, and Ginger wasn’t one to be doing something strange for a lil’ piece of change. But after all the hype of all the speakers and prayer leading up to Cain’s appearance all with the carefully planned embrace of wife Gloria in tow. Herman Cain did what I feared: he dropped out. Then again, maybe he’ll be back. He did after all “suspend” his campaign, no? Maybe that’s me not wanting to see him go; he can come back, no?

So what did Hermsan Cain do today? Well, aside from suspending his campaign, and setting Black folks back seventy five years when it comes to politics, he failed. He failed to convince anyone that he was indeed serious about running for president. He failed to shake all accusations that he was in it to sell books and make money by promoting his so-called Plan B of setting up a website to solicit donations. Donations from the very people who he successfully tricked into believing that he was the real deal. Let’s be honest: Herman Cain took a lot of money from white folks and ran. And even in the end, as his arrogance became a bit too overbearing for Black folks like myself. He reminded everyone that he was Black by referencing an era of segregation he grew up in. An era which he most recently proudly described himself to be a bystander who proudly sat on the sidelines, while others toiled. Yes Herman Cain has made many mistakes as he said in his speech today.

The ultimate mistake he made, however, was not a thirteen year affair with a woman outside of his marriage. That wasn’t a mistake, that was a choice. His mistake however, was thinking that he would be able to to continue lying and gaining favor with the very people who supported him. But then again, that might not be a mistake because they are in fact who they are. Just like Herman, they’re ideologically bankrupt, and as he has shown, they tend to place a premium on ignorance. That being said, you can best believe there’ll be no more Herman Cains coming forth to represent the GOP in politics on a national stage. I could be wrong, but the antics of Mr. Cain, in my opinion, has made it harder for members of the Black Republican fold to ever be trusted. But then again, even they may be of the opinion that what happened to Cain was indeed the result of Liberal racist attacks meant to destroy the character of a Black man who happens to be a Republican. The funny thing, is that let them tell it, racism is dead. However, the racist Liberal media is alive and well.

Sorry Herman, you can blame the media, you can blame it on racism, but at the end of the day, you have nobody to blame but yourself. As bad as I hate to see Herman go, as a Black man, I am relieved to know that we will no longer be witness to his cooning, and the shucking and jiving Minstrel we have known him to be.; and that he has become. He can say that his string of allegations has been painful for his family, and this might be true.

But the existence of the Herman Cain campaign as it were, was a big insult to the intelligence and aspirations of Black folks across America. You can cite all his accomplishments in life if you like, but life was a lot better for us all before this clown came into our lives. And here’s to hoping nobody gives him a Reality TV show. Lord knows I can’t handle him or Eddie Long getting one called, “Pimpin’, Preachers, & Politicians: The Lyin’-Ass Negro Show”.

If you feel like watching the 10lb bag of fail that is his drop out speech, catch it below. Good bye Mr. Cain, and I wish you and yours well. It was fun while it lasted, but thankfully, the foolishness has come to an end. It’s just too bad that your dropping out had nothing to do with the idea that someone not wanting to see you become president. No seriously, nobody really thought you would have won the nomination, much less become president. C’mon, Herman; even you knew it .

For me, I would have rather seen you exit stage left upon the realization that America finally understood you to be the idiot that you are politically. Instead, you go out for being an arrogant buffoon without any game or ability to pull the ladies; as well as, being an “alleged: serial sexual harasser, and thirteen year trick daddy juiced by a white woman. But I understand: when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Heaven forbid if a mulatto child who repeats the phrase 9-9-9 should surface any day now asking why you weren’t at his birthday party with the black walnut ice cream. If character is what’s seen when nobody is looking; unfortunately for Herman Cain, we’ve seen enough. And sadly depending on how you l;ook at it, we know just who he is.

Question: What's next for Daddy Green? Is the joke actually on us (and his wife)?!? Was his "Plan B" actually his "Plan A" all along? Is it somewhat ironic that by "suspending" his campaign, he can use your hardearned taxpayer dollars to help pay off his campaign debt?!? Open Mic Monday

Long weekend, longer week ahead as I try and wrap up end of fiscal year stuff on The Day Job. Activity may be light this week, so entertain yourselves. Here's your open mic. Speak on it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Friday, December 2, 2011 Hot Topics 12.2.11

Here's the daily rundown, with headlines taken from links you sent in/suggested.

US Unemployment Rate Drops To 8.6% - The devil, it obviously in the details here. Fewer people looking + 120k new jobs + revisions of prior months = drop. Still, most people will only see the final number, which is the first time we've been below 9% since I can personally remember. While this obviously bodes well for the White House and the President's re-election bid next year, it's hardly an indication that we're out of the woods. Sidenote: if state and local governments weren't busy laying off so many workers over the past 3 years, the rate would probably be in the low 7's. Is this reason enough for another costly stimulus? Probably not, but you could also argue that without the first one, we might still be in the 10's. Soooooo....

Newt Just Can't Help Himself. - I'm just as puzzled at Gingrich's rise atop the polls as everyone else. Sure, the Cain Train Derailment, and Rick Perry "going Rick Perry" probably contributed to it more than Newt himself, but still. If "douchebag" was in the encyclopedia, a photo of this megalomaniac would surely be somewhere on the page. Yesterday, in explaining his rationale for using child labor to fix urban poverty, he dropped this gem. "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and nobody around them who works to earn money — unless it's illegal". Seriously, is this the guy we want anywhere near 1600 Penn Ave? And BTW Tea Partiers, are you seriously getting behind a guy who was King Of All Lobbyists and made millions off defending Fannie and Freddie? Really? Because if so, I'm sorry, you officially have no principles. Other than getting Obama out of office, of course.

The Eagles Are Toast- Hey Philly fans, how does it feel? You followed the Dan Snyder Plan For "Winning The Offseason" and now you won't have a postseason, as your playoff hopes officially croaked last night in Seattle. Andy Reid, it's been real, my man.

Question: What do you think about these issues?

The Most Hilarious 20 Minutes Of Cable News You'll Watch This Year.

Wow, give it to this guy, he's got some brass balls, that's for damn sure. I guess I should also give Neil Cavuto credit for not tossing a bunch of softballs at Cain, but he probably could have followed up on some questions a bit more. Then again, who am I kidding? Cain's going to be his co-worker in a few months, so why bother with the agitation.

I'll be honest though, White's story isn't adding all the way up. There's no way you spend a decade of your life getting smanged by someone on the regular, and have no proof other than a couple of cell phone bills. Where are the bank statements? The vacation photos? The inevitably disgusting VHS tape of them gettin' busy? I'm just sayin', she doesn't have anything but a Verizon bill, after 13 years with a man? Really?

Sorry, sista girl. We don't (quite) believe you. You need more people. Where are the receipts!

As for Cain, I'm not sure what he's still doing in the race. He says he's most concerned about his wife/family, yet he's still shilling for campaign donations by painting himself (yet again!) as the victim of a left-wing swear campaign. If his family is his biggest concern, why the heck isn't he at home with them right now, explaining his a$$ off?!?

Negro, please!

Does he really think President Obama is scared of facing him, and thus he needed to be "destroyed"? Really? I didn't realize Herman Cain was so delusional, but Herman Cain apparently is just that delusional because Herman Cain refers to himself in the 3rd person even more often than Herman Cain does.

Go sit down. Please.

Question: What's up with Cain's accusations of a left wing conspiracy? Does his logic for explaining away those 4am text messages make any sense at all? Why is he still running?!?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WorkPlace 101: Legal Side-Hustles.

"Children grow, some women produce, Some men they work, and some steal. Everybody's got to make a livin'."[1]

Unless you have a sugar daddy like Herman Cain, or are a repeat guest on Maury[2], there's a good chance you've got to wake up every morning, and head off to somebody's job. Despite what anti-Obamabots would like to suggest, we still do live in a capitalist society, which means you've gotta earn money to keep a roof over your head, food in your stomach, and pay for NBA League Pass. Everybody's got to make a living. Ain't no way around it.

Of course, in this economic recession, there are fewer jobs to go around. The government officially says about 9% of us are unemployed, although you could certainly argue that the actual number is probably twice that. Some of these people are getting unemployment benefits, but many have seen their benefits expire. Thanks GOP.

I consider myself a prideful and resourceful man. I work hard on my Day Job, and pray every morning that I get to keep my gig, in spite of how bad the economy gets. Should something happen though, I have a handful of ways to make money and feed my family until I find another Day Job, without having to take penitentiary chances.

This blog makes money, although obviously not enough to feed a family of four. I would/could also teach French lessons[3], tutor kids for money instead of free, do yardwork, paint houses, do basic electrical repairs, design websites, wash and detail cars, design club flyers, do photography/videography, pickup freelance writing gigs, and cut hair if the need arose. While I think college is great because it opens doors to great career opportunities, any man worth his Lawry's has gotta have a hustle on the side. It's all about survival.[4]

I can't say there's any particular reason for asking, but I'm wondering what you guys would do/have done to make ends meet should The Big Check™ stop coming.

Question: Got any legal side hustles?

[1] Cyber CapriSuns to the first person so can tell me the origin of the quote above.

[2] Think about it.

[3] Oui, vraiment.

[4] Yes, I would also collect unemployment. And yes, I'd use the technical skills developed on my Day Job to do contract work.