Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Makes A Play For Black Voters. Uhhhm, Yeah, Good Luck With That.

A few months ago, I bemoaned the GOP's half assed, well, actually non-existent push for black votes this cycle. Unlike in 2008, when the party did actually hold a poorly attended debate at Morgan State University and hoist perennial Token Negro Candidate Alan Keyes in to the race to save face, this year they haven't even tried. Maybe this is common sense and smart campaigning, given President Obama's death lock on black voters. But for a party that promised to "open its tent" with its own historic election of Michael Steele a few years ago, 2012 has signaled a return to the dark ages[1] of only using black folks to scare white voters into voting Republican.

In an attempt to move himself back to the "center" Mitt Romney made a trek to West Philly last week to visit a black charter school and talk education reform. Hilarity, but sadly no YouTube classics, ensued.
Making a rare inner-city campaign stop, Mitt Romney preached the merits of traditional two-parent families and touted his platform of educational choice at a West Philadelphia charter school Thursday.

The Republican presidential candidate had little political reason during the primaries to visit heavily Democratic neighborhoods like Carroll Park. And his initial foray as the all-but-certain GOP nominee probably had more to do with outreach to suburban moderates than to African Americans, who are strongly behind President Obama.

When Romney's customized campaign bus rolled up to the Universal Bluford Charter School, he could see signs on the row houses across the street, including one that bore Obama's picture and the words "We got your back." Another read, "Stop Privatizing."

Inside the newly renovated two-story brick school building, the welcome was much friendlier, though Romney was challenged repeatedly during a round table discussion with educators to defend his claim that reducing class size doesn't improve student performance. The former Massachusetts governor contends that pressing for smaller classes is a ploy by teachers unions — one of his favorite targets — to get more teachers hired.

Steven Morris, a music instructor at Bluford, told Romney: "I can't think of any teacher in the whole time I have been teaching, 13 years, who would say that more students [in the classroom] would benefit them. And I can't think of a parent that would say I would like my teacher to be in a room with a lot of kids and only one teacher."

Ronald Benner, whose technology classes range from 23 to 28 students, chimed in that "you can give more personalized attention to each student if you have a smaller class size." Another teacher emphasized the importance of keeping classes below 18 students in early primary grades.

Inside the school, Romney debated issues with educators and tried to connect with the students. When he visited a classroom where the kids in the elementary school choir were standing, swaying and clapping to the beat of Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile,” Romney appeared charmed but did not dance with them. Rather, he tapped one of his toes slightly and bobbed his head, but did not catch the rhythm..

“You just sang a song about smiling,” Romney told the kids. “You’re all smiling right? Smile! Oh, that’s great.”
Classic Romney Awkwardness™. Where is the YouTube, doggonit, I needed to see this. I'm willing to bet it didn't look to different from this...

"Who Let The Dogs Out?" was already played out when the 2008 election rolled around, but don't let that distract from the awesome awkwardness on display here. As a guy who sometimes struggles with what to say/do in social situations himself, I find this sorta endearing, and think Romney would be wise to play it up in a self-deprecating manner. I doubt he has that level of self-awareness though.

What's very clear here is that this isn't a play for Black votes, but an end-around to white moderates and independents. After a primary season in which Romney either sat idly by, or in some case co-signed some truly appalling statements by his opponents, he needs to look "inviting" "accepting" and "open minded" to appeal to well-meaning white voters who aren't crazy about Obama but don't really care to be associated with the stench of what was a really negative, and in some cases scary GOP primary seasons. When in doubt, pull in some adorable black kids. Never mind Romney's out of touch theories about class size and two parent households being the Bain[2] of black education. A photo-op cures all concerns.

Now if he'd just do something about that Trump endorsement.

Question: What's Romney's real goal here? Can he capture 10% or more of the black vote?

[1] Pun intended.

[2] Ditto.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mitt Romney's Trump-Sized Problem.

Hmmm, funny how that whole "guilt by association" thing works.
President Barack Obama's campaign is highlighting what they call Mitt Romney's "refusal" to condemn Donald Trump's continued highlighting of the "birther" conspiracy.

The release of a new video by the president's re-election team Tuesday morning comes a few hours after Romney appeared to downplay Trump's comments, and a few hours before Romney teams up with Trump at the business magnate and reality TV star's hotel in Las Vegas for a fundraiser for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Asked on his charter plane Monday night whether Trump's questioning of Obama's birthplace gave him pause, Romney said he was grateful for all his supporters.

"You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in," Romney said. "But I need to get 50.1% or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."
Wow, what a cowardly response. But what else would I expect from Mittens. Wasn't this guy calling for Obama to refudiate repudiate Fidel Castro's niece when she "endorsed" Obama last week? Never mind the fact that Mariela Castro isn't even an American citizen and was mostly endorsing Obama's stance on gay marriage. In Mittens Logic, this all makes perfect sense.

I'm not begrudging Romney's right to accept money from a poorly coiffed reality show host, but would it have really killed him to say that he unequivocally doesn't agree with Trump's birther claims? This sort of mush-mouthed "I don't really care" nonsense isn't really becoming of a Presidential candidate.

Then again, he needs to money. So there.

Question: Should Romney disown Trump's endorsement?

Are Voter ID Laws Really Racist?!?

Yeah, I know, I gave a contrary opinion on this awhile back and got bombed out. I don't care, and I still stand by my comment. Anyone who wants to vote should have a valid for of ID. How can you make it through life and navigate a complex society without one? If you can't cough up $10 to merely get a government issued ID, I don't really think I want you voting.

If that makes me sound like a douche, so be it. I just don't see why this is such a big deal, nor do I see it as racist. I think it's sorta racist, actually, to assume that poor or elderly voters are so shiftless that they can't get a damn ID. I hate how this obviously political issue has been so terribly politicized by both sides. Republicans are obviously raising this issue in response to Obama's astronomical black vote advantage, Dems are playing their typical condescending paternalistic role.

But I don't think requiring someone to prove who they are in order to exercise their right to vote is discriminatory. Hell, I have to produce a valid ID to sign my child up for swim lessons. Is that also discriminatory? Enough already!

How about we just have the gov't issue exceptions for free ID's for the elderly and/or poor? That'd solve this whole problem, but of course, who'd gain politically from such common sense legislation?!?

Question: Go ahead, tell me how backwards and wrong I am. Then explain to me how a person can live so far on the fringes of society that they can operate without a valid form of ID (not to be confused with a driver's license).

Chris Hayes, Soldiers Are "Heroes". Please Just Shut Up, Already.

I'm not the biggest fan of MSNBC host Chris Hayes. Perhaps moreso than any person on TV, Hayes seems to embody the ultra-liberal, cocktail partying, apologist pantywaist image that many on the right ascribe to those on the left. The guy's soft as Cottonelle, and seldom, if ever, has anything pertinent to say. I didn't particularly care for him when he subbed for the network's primetime shows like Rachel Maddow and Countdown, and his weekend show Up makes me wish I'd stayed asleep.

So with all that said, I kinda think the guy's getting a bad rap for a slightly out of context comment he made this past weekend.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes sparked controversy and debate on Sunday when he said that he felt "uncomfortable" calling soldiers killed in action "heroes" because the term can be used to justify potentially unjust wars. He later apologized for the statement. (See apology below.)

Hayes spent a large portion of his Memorial Day-themed show on questions of war and of the people killed on all sides of military conflicts, from American soldiers to Afghan civilians.

After speaking with a former Marine whose job it was to notify families of the death of soldiers, he turned to his panel and, clearly wrestling with what to say, raised the issue of language:

I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- uncomfortable -- about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that.

Hayes' fellow panelists expressed similar discomfort. Linguist and columnist John McWhorter said that he would "almost rather not say 'hero" and called the term "manipulative," even if it was unintentionally so.

Hayes then said that, on the flip side, it could be seen as "noble" to join the military. "This is voluntary," he said, adding that, though a "liberal caricature" like himself would not understand "submitting so totally to what the electorate or people in power are going to decide about using your body," he saw valor in it.
If there's one thing I sorta admire about Up and MSNBC's offerings on whole, it's that they generally have longer segments that allow the hosts/guests to actually discuss issues at length, which provides more time and space for nuance, making these shows generally less combative/sensationalist like that other network which shall not be named. What Hayes was trying to say is that while what the soldiers do is noble and honorable, it's probably not in the best taste to refer to them as "heroes". After all, for every soldier returning home, there are many more people left dead when that solider departs, many of whom are for all intents and purposes innocent. It's the unfortunate and ugly side of war: someone has to lose, and those on the losing end aren't always "bad guys". Nobody is (obviously) blaming these soldiers for merely carrying out orders, merely stating that the unintended consequences of those actions might sometimes be less than heroic.[1]

So yeah, Hayes should have picked his words better, and oh yeah, probably refrained from saying something of this sort on, I dunno, Memorial Day!!!

Question: Was Hayes' comment stupid, misconstrued, or a little bit of both?!?

[1] That said, if volunteering to serve your country, knowing that your life could be at risk and that your assignments might include unintentionally harming innocent people isn't "heroic", then what, exactly, is? Pitching a no-hitter? Putting out a fire? Teaching school in a dangerous neighborhood? Donating a kidney? I dunno, but in the grand scheme, I'd say "soldier" and "hero" go hand in hand better than any two other phrases.

A Few Notes From The Management Of


I'm in week two of a very nice four week paternity leave/vacation break, and enjoying every moment of my time at home with AverageBabyGirl™. Having a daughter does indeed change your perspective of life in a million and one ways that you can't even imagine. I'm sure I'll elaborate on this at some point, but today is not such a time.

There wasn't much new material here last week, but that'll be changing shortly, now that the baby has settled into a much more predictable sleep routine (as has my wife). I'd like to thank Antonio for his insightful piece on Obama's Same Sex Marriage pivot, and apologize for not running it sooner. Blogger's got a "new" interface, which proves that "new" isn't always "better". I thought I'd scheduled the piece to run Monday, only to find out long after the fact that it hadn't. So again, thanks to Antonio.

I'm going to try out a new "experiment" in the coming days. We just passed the magical 3,000 post mark last week, and I'm going to seize the occasion to switch things up. In the next few days, you'll see far more frequent, but far less wordy posts. The goal here is to keep things rolling, lessening the burden of me cranking out wordy posts, while keeping current stories alive for you guys to weigh in on. We'll see how this works.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some DVR'd episodes of The Office to catch up on.

Two Fingers,


Tuesday, May 22, 2012 Guest Post - Black Gays... Caught in the Middle?

[Editor's Note: When news broke last week that President Obama was formally endorsing gay marriage, I asked AverageNation™ regular, Antonio to give us his opinion on what this means to him, black America, and President Obama's re-election prospects. As usual, show our guest some love you-know-where.]

Almost immediately following Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, the media began speculating about its impact on black voters. After all, blacks have been slower than other groups to embrace gay rights. Will they stand behind Obama in a show of racial solidarity or stay home come Election Day? Unsurprisingly, polls show that the announcement had virtually no effect on black voters’ opinion of Obama.

Still, African Americans consistently poll lower than on LGBT issues compared to whites. This can largely be attributed to the prominence of religion in the black community. Analysis of Prop 8 results showed that frequency of church attendance was better than race for predicting how someone voted. The media naturally went for the convenient and more sensationalist angle.

The movement for gay rights has many parallels to the civil rights struggle of the mid-20th century. Gays want equal access to housing, employment, and benefits that straight people have. Like blacks, gays have been smeared as sexual predators, dysfunctional, and dangerous for society. LGBT people deal with insulting stereotypes in the media, although things have improved considerably in the last ten years. It’s not hard to see why prominent activists like Julian Bond say that “gay rights are civil rights”.

But gay is not the new black. Blacks are still black, gays are still gay, and some of us are (gasp) both. White gays don’t have to contend with racial profiling or the numerous ways our criminal justice system targets people of color. If they can pass for straight, harassment and discrimination become nearly non-existent[1]. And for all the press about black homophobia, black gays have experienced racism in so-called “safe spaces”. For all the supposed progressiveness of the gay community, the bars, clubs, and events can be every bit as segregated as mainstream American society.

This leaves black gays in a precarious position. As far as the media is concerned we might as well not exist. To (some) black people our sexuality is a result of the nefarious influence of ‘white people’. To (some) gays our race is a punchline for their hipster racism. We’re horrified by the bigotry displayed by white gays in the wake of Prop 8 and saddened by the familial relationships damaged by daring to live our lives authentically.

So the effects of Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage could a huge boon to us. Maybe more blacks see our relationships as worthy of respect. Maybe certain activists will stop throwing tantrums at every slight disappointment by what is unquestionably the most pro-gay president in history. Certainly it’s prompted many conversations in barber shops, bars, and churches.

Question: What do you think?

[1] This shouldn’t suggest that being ‘in the closet’ makes being gay a walk in the park. The deception brings on a host of other issues and complications.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Open Mic Monday.

I'm happy to announce the newest addition to AverageFam™. AverageBabyGirl arrived last Thursday morning, clocking in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces of joy. We're all back home now and searching for some semblance of normalcy. I suspect it will take a minute.

In the interim, I've got a great guest post from Antonio coming your way tomorrow, and prolly a few posts from me later in the week. I'm sure ya'll understand the reasons for the slow updates. Babies don't really care about blog posts. At least not yet.

So yeah, entertain yourselves some more. I'm gonna try and grab a nap.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paternity Leave Open Mic.

By the time you read this, I will be the father of three, as our baby girl is due to make her grand entrance into the world any moment now. So yeah, it's gonna be a minute. Entertain yourselves.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obama Vs Romney In A Political Ad Version Of The Oppression Olympics.

If you know me, you know I love political ads (heck, ads in general). They even have their own tag here. So yeah, it's sorta my thing. Two new ads from the Romney and Obama campaigns will be making it to TV in the coming days. Seeking to attack each other's economic record, the campaigns took two very different approaches. But which ad is more impactful?

Obama's "GST Steel" Ad.

With a great level of detail, this ad talks about how Bain Capital bought a Kansas City steel company, immediately loaded it with debt, decimated the pension and benefits of its workers, and took a healthy profit as the company went kaput.

Romney's "Obama Failed Iowa" Ad.

Romney's ad is a bit less focused. With first person accounts of average Iowans[1], Romney attempts to show how Obama's comparative lack of economic growth has left many Real Americans behind. One woman bellyaches about how her unemployment benefits have run out. A man talks about not depending on the government to come up. Still another talks about his family and the effects of joblessness. Oddly not mentioned is that Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at just 5.2%.

Not surprisingly, I'm going to roll with Obama's ad. It's much more impactful because it deals with specific actions of Romney (while head of Bain Capital) and their aftermath. Romney's ad is all emotion and no logic. There's no clear delineation between their people's lot in life and anything Obama's done (or not done) as President. Nobody lost their job as a direct result of an Obama policy. The woman talks specifically about how things are gotten worse since her unemployment benefits ran out, and we know who wants to cut unemployment. The second guy's misfortune seems to be just as much about a divorce (blame Obama!) as a job loss. The last guy is so completely anti-Government (I'm assuming he's a Tea Partier) he can't be taken seriously, and he actually seems to be finding work as a gravedigger and mover. He also appears to be a moron, in a Kevin Malone-sorta way.

Romney would be much better served attempting to show how Barack Obama's politics have directly lead to a loss of jobs in some meaningful way. Obama's ads attacking Romney's alleged job creation record are far more effective.

Question: Which ad is more effective in your opinion?!?

[1] Not much diversity here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tamron. Miss Hall, If You're Nasty.

The Conservative blogosphere has its panties in a bunch over a dustup between MSNBC host Tamron Hall and Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney last week. Hall bought the Romney supporter on her show to discuss a recent Washington Post article about allegations that Mitt Romney was a gay bully in high school. Personally, I thought the Post article was kinda silly, and thought the timing was dubious. Still, Carney was bought on to discuss this, and seemed intent on changing the topic to President Obama.

Hall, needless to say, was not havin' that. Fireworks ensued.

Some say this only proves MSNBC's bias, while others think Hall was well within her rights as a host to read this bama and cut his mic. What say ye?

Question: Was Tamron Hall out of bounds?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Will Black Churches Turn On President Obama In The Fall?!?

[Editor's Note: I realize this topic was likely covered in the comments section last week. I figured it still made sense for me to blog about it anyway. If you find this repetitive, pass.]

Not long after President Obama's hesitant embrace of same sex marriage last week, politicians and pundits alike immediately started analyzing how this might effect his re-election prospects in the Fall. Sure, it will likely energize the liberal base, and help solidify support of Mitt Romney from Conservatives, but reality is very few voters are likely going to switch sides based on this single issue. Most peoples' minds have already long since been made up.

Except for, of course, black folks.
The pulpits of the nation's black churches took measure Sunday of President Obama's decision to support gay marriage, and the result was conflicted.

Some churches were silent on the issue. At others, pastors spoke against the president's decision Wednesday — but kindly of the man himself. A few blasted the president and his decision. A minority spoke in favor of the decision and expressed understanding of the president's change of heart.

The conflicted sentiments within African-American churches reflect a broader struggle in the American public. A USA TODAY Poll showed that slightly more than half of Americans agreed with the president's decision. A scientifically valid breakdown of African Americans was not available, but past polls have shown blacks generally opposed to gay marriage.

African Americans are a key voting bloc for the president this November. In 2008, exit polls showed Obama lost to John McCain among white voters but won more than 95% of the African-American vote.
I really, really hate stories like this, and for lots of reasons. First and foremost, taking the word of a handful of pastors as somehow representative of the entire black electorate is just silly, silly, silly. It assumes that black folks can't think for themselves, and that so many of us are so dependent on the opinion of a (wo)man we only see for about 30 minutes each week, that it overrides all common sense and individual critical thought. Poppycock.

Stories like this also paint black folks as somehow more bigoted than the rest of society at large.[1] Who else can forget the subtext of the 2008 elections in California when black people were essentially blamed for same sex marriage ban? Never mind that a majority of white and Hispanics, who are a far larger percentage of the electorate in Cali than black folks, also overwhelmingly voted yes on Prop 8. Nope, blame the supposedly enlightened, anti-discriminatory black folks.

Seriously, that is some bullsh*t.

I should be very clear here: I'm not saying black folks aren't, nor should'nt be allowed to be single issue voters. If you feel that seriously about something, you by all means should be allowed to vote your conscience. Whatever. It's a free country, and each man's vote is his own. There are single issue white voters who plant stakes in the ground on everything from abortion to gun rights. So, whatever. Vote for what you believe, even if it might not even be something an elected official can even influence. Still, I really just don't like the silly notion that this one issue, exposed a full 6 months before the election, is going to sway black voters any more than it sways the rest of the electorate.[2] The economy is, and has been the biggest issue of note. It still will be come November.

While I'm sure a bunch of folks will point to President Bush's 2004 gains with black voters on this very issue that helped him win re-election, we're in a very different time right now. The economy wasn't in nearly the same shambles then, and most black people are smart enough to know that Romney's economic policy is virtually identical to that which got us screwed up in the first place. Black voters didn't have a fraction of the affinity for John Kerry that they have for President Obama. And oh yeah, I'm thinking most black people with a brain have been paying attention to the constant barrage of covert and downright blatant racism that's been levied by the GOP in recent years.[3] Finally, support for the issue aside, Obama can't do anything to "fix" the gay marriage dilemma. It is, after all, still as states' issue.

That said, if you're a black Obama supporter who is still dumb enough to vote for Romney over this single issue, be my guest.

Whatever you do, just don't stay your black a$$ home come November 6th.

Question: Is this whole issue being overblown? Are black voters going to turn on the President over this single issue? Do you personally know any black people who say they're switching sides?

[1] News Flash! Yes, black folks can be just as ignorant, close-minded, and yes, discriminatory as any other race. Welcome to Amurrica.

[2] Which is to say, not at all.

[3] Though I should note, by comparison, Romney's been a relative grown-up when it comes to issues of race.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't Free Lil' Boosie.

There are dumb people, and then, there are really, really, really, really, really dumb people. Guess which one of those cRapper Lil' Boosie is?
Jurors in the first degree murder trial of Torrence “Lil Boosie” Hatch partook in a listening session of sorts yesterday (May 9), when the prosecution played a selection of Boosie’s music, supposedly recorded just before and after the shooting murder of Terry Boyd in October of 2009.

Baton Rouge’s The Advocate reported that the jury was played a selection of a song entitled “187,” in which Boosie raps, “Yo Marlo/He drive a Monte Carlo/That bitch gray, I want that nigga dead today.” The “Marlo” Boosie is allegedly referring to is Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding, who Boosie is accused of hiring to kill Boyd. According to computer forensics expert, Konstantinos Dimetrelos, Boosie recorded this verse less than an hour before the murder took place.

Dimitrelos also testified that on the night of the shooting, 15 outgoing phone calls were made from the cell phone of Boyd, between the hours of 11:22 p.m and 12:56 a.m and that the calls began in the vicinity of Boosie’s home, moved to the scene of the crime, and ended back at the Boosie residence.

Hatch’s attorney, Jason Williams, refuted the prosecution’s notion that these lyrics implicated Hatch, claiming that the mentioned rhymes were much earlier works and were being “resampled” at the time of the recording. Boosie’s additional counsel, Martin Regan, claimed the state prosecutor, Dana Cummings, is using Boosie’s music to slander his client and that the lyrical content of “187” is “not relevant” to the case at hand.
Here's the news story, for those of you who don't like reading on Fridays.[1]

Here's the song where Boosie essentially snitches on himself, around the 2:20 mark.

Try not to laugh too hard at this ignant sh*t, because again, a man is actually dead as a result of this nonsense. Maybe this is the rare case where life actually imitates life.

Yep, "play it for the jury" indeed.

I used to be a pretty bit fan of Lil' Boosie's music (yes, really), and if I had a shred of remaining sympathy for him, I might argue that rap lyrics are indeed "art" and shouldn't be taken seriously enough to be considered evidence in a freakin' murder case. Then again, this idiot did use real names of real people involved in a real murder, so there's no sense in blurring the lines. All the lines, of course, point to this Negro being guilty.


Question: Should rap lyrics be permissible as evidence in a court of law? What makes rap lyrics any different than, say, journal entries?!? Is Lil' Boosie the dumbest motherlover you've ever heard of?

Lil Boosie murder trial: Did his lyrics show an intent to kill? [LATimes]

[1] How is he still getting that "Lil' Boosie fade" in jail?!?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The AverageBro Show™ Instant Take: Obama's Risky Embrace Of Gay Marriage.

So, yeah, there was some kinda big news made yesterday.[1] I had an instant reaction on this, which I recorded, since I don't have the time to blog right now.

Weigh in with your thoughts on this topic below.

Question: What do you think? Was President Obama pressured into doing this? Was this whole thing orchestrated? How is this going to play out in the Fall?!?

[1] Peep that photo above. Props to Fox News' website for keeping it classy, as always.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 Open Mic Tuesday.

I'm busy today, so either entertain yourselves or weigh in on last week's threads. Drop links, write your own posts. You know the drill by now.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Look Mama, I'm In The Paper!!! (Again)

The Washington Post Express newspaper seemed to like last week's post about the new Obama "Forward" campaign slogan.

Go peep that.

AB Goes To The Movies - Think Like A Man.

In post-Tyler Perry America, the romantic comedy is a staple that seems headed the way of the BetaMax VCR. While the 90's and 00's boasted such solid romcoms as Love and Basketball, The Best Man, Brown Sugar and Two Can Play That Game, the genre has fallen on hard times of late. Every film's either got some misplaced Come To Jeeezus!!! undertone, or a crusty, grown-assed black man in a dress and pumps. I'll pass.

For these reasons and many others, I was less than enthused when I started seeing the ads for Think Like A Man pop up during NBA broadcasts. Okay, I'll just keep it two hunned: I'm not the biggest fan of Steve Hightower Harvey. I think it's beyond comical that a man with more ex-spouses than Elizabeth Taylor has somehow convinced black women that he's a love doctor and relationship expert by releasing a ghost-written book full of common freakin' sense. Now that sh*t cray is funny. Still, Harvey-hatin' aside, I guess I have to admire the man's hustle. When he realized his days as the (self-proclaimed) King Of Comedy were coming to an end, he did a complete 180 and rebranded himself. His book "Think Like A Man, Act Like A Woman" is a New York Times bestseller, and the basis for said film. I'm blogging about said film, basically giving it free pub.

Advantage: Hightower Harvey!

That said, the movie itself is actually good. Surprisingly good. Shockingly good. So good that you're left scratching your head during the closing credits, wondering "How in the hell did something associated with Steve Hightower Harvey turn out that good?" Honestly, this might (keyword: might) be the best black romantic comedy since Boomerang.

Yes, I said it. This movie's that good.

I haven't read the book (shocker!) but the film inadvertently (or perhaps, blatantly, depending on how you look at it) serves as an infomercial. 10 Los Angelenos with relationship statuses in varying states of disarray try to resolve their differences in a game of cat and mouse that revolves around the wit and wisdom contained in Harvey's aforementioned book.

Kevin Hart plays a recently divorced man trying to re-adjust to life as a single guy. Michael Ealy is a "Hapless Dreamer"[1] whose lack of ambition clashes with Taraji P. Henson's high powered corporate status. Romany Malco is the stereotypical "player" who falls prey to the charms of a newly chaste Meagan Good. Gabrielle Union cannot seem to get her fratboy, action figure-obsessed boyfriend Jerry Ferrara to grow up and commit. Mama's boy Terrence J juggles the demands of his two most favorite women when he falls for single mother Regina Hall. BET comedian Gary Owen is happily married with kids, but for some odd reason has permission time and energy to hang out with a bunch of single dudes playing basketball and barhopping every night. A boatload (and boy do I ever mean a boatload!)[2] of D-List ancillary characters helps move the storyline along at a brisk pace. Harvey (predictably playing himself) provides relationship advice while a guest on an Oprah-like show at plot-intensive intervals, all the while smiling and oddly filmed with a soft-focus lens.[3]

If this sounds like entirely too much going on for one movie, you'd technically be correct. Emsemble casts are usually a recipe for complete disaster, but somehow it works quite well in this Tim Story (Barbershop, Fantastic Four) helmed flick, which was somewhat confoundingly written by two Jewish guys. There isn't a single incapable actor performer, yet there's no real star either. This cast is kinda like the Memphis Grizzlies. Each couple gets equal airtime, and although Ealy is the nominal headliner, Kevin Hart is actually the show stealer here, providing well-timed comedic relief. I'm not 100% sure if this is the star vehicle that propels Hart into the Eddie/Martin/Richard Hollyweird stratosphere, but he clearly shows that in the right context, his brand of humor translates to the big screen. Good for him.

None of the couples dilemmas is actually too deep/complex, and thankfully, for once, the movie's plot culmination does not involve childhood rape(!) Anyone else who has seen a black film in this century will probably breathe a huge sigh of relief after reading that. The movie is well-written, steers clear of any annoying coonery, and even the dialogue is relatively cliche-free. My wife and I laughed a lot, and well, that's sorta what a romantic comedy should be about.

Final Verdict - This movie was actually very good. Surprisingly good. Shockingly good. I'm sure Steve Harvey and his ultra-white veneers will be laughing all the way to the bank. And hey, for once, I'm actually laughing with him. Eff' a matinee, pay full price! 4 Stars (Out Of 5)

Question: Did you see Think Like A Man? What'd you think? Was it actually as good as I'm saying, or am I grading it on the Tyler Perry Scale Of Dramatically Lowered Expectations?!?

[1] Lightskinned, green-eyed handsome guy who can't hold a steady job in the movies = "Hapless Dreamer". Not-so-handsome, not-so-green-eyed guy who can't hold a steady job in real life = "Jobless Loser".

[2] I'm literally talking every black person not named Denzel or Angela that's ever appeared in a movie or UPN TV show. All of em'. Seriously, the cameos and bit parts just kept coming and kept getting more and more absurd.

[3] That "Barbara Walters" camera trick that makes her look younger than the 82 years she actually is. Yeah, it was kinda weird.

Friday, May 4, 2012

April Job Numbers Are Bad News For Obama Re-Election.

Folks, lets not try and sugarcoat sugar honey iced tea. These numbers are bad. Bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good. No other way to spin it.
The U.S. economy added 115,000 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, the lowest level since January 2009. While some may focus on the rate, the more important fact is that job creation was disappointing.

2012 started off with a bang in terms of job creation. In January, the economy added 275,000 jobs; February was revised up to 259,000 from the originally reported 240,000; and March was also revised up to 154,000 from 120,000. With today's data, the average monthly job creation this year has been 200,000. The big question that looms: Were the January-February results an anomaly and are the March-April results indicative of where the economy and the jobs market really stands?

In the weeks leading up to the report, there seemed to be impending doom. Weekly claims were trending higher (claims averaged about 384,000 in April, up from an average of 369,000 in January, February and March); the ADP private sector employment report was weaker than expected; and then there was everyone's favorite scapegoat: The weather. Economists said there would be payback for that mild winter that much of the nation enjoyed.

Analysts said that employers hired more than expected in December, January and February, "borrowing" those jobs from March, April and May. Goldman Sachs analysts guessed "that weather has boosted the level of payrolls by around 100,000 as of February, and may have shaved about 20,000 from the March report. Going forward, we currently expect payback of about 50,000 in April and the remaining 30,000 in May."
I know some folks on #TeamObama are going to try and place the blame for these anemic numbers somewhere other than the White House. And yes, there's plenty of blame to go around. Congress isn't helping. States are still laying off workers. The winter was unseasonably warm. Amare and Linsanity are both hurt.[1]

While there's truth to all of that, reality is, when you're President, the buck stops with you. If you take credit when things are going well, you have to take the heat when things aren't. I praised Obama when the job numbers were on the upswing. They're now ominously rolling back in the opposite direction. That's not good, misleading 8.1% unemployment rate not withstanding.

None of this changes my vote. Romney's practically non-existent financial plan presents no real solutions other than "get rid of Obama and do the same sh*t that got us in a recession in the first place". No ma'am.

But let's not make excuses for bad performance. Call a proverbial spade a spade.

Unless these numbers improve dramatically, November's election is wide open.

Question: What do you think? What (if anything) can be done to reverse this downward trend in job growth?!?

[1] Oops, wrong set of excuses.

Strange, Leathery Looking Woman Puts 5-Year-Old In Tanning Bed.

Okay, I know everyone's gonna rush to make fun of this woman's appearance, as they should.[1] She looks like a Chic-O-Stick™ in human form. I mean, seriously, she looks hideous.

Lots of people have picked this story apart, making it some weird referendum on the merits of tanning. This story, clearly, is not about tanning at all. This woman has a serious psychological condition. Where is CPS?

On a strange, somewhat related note: So much for that ObamaCare Tan Tax hurting business. This lady must have a lifetime membership.

Question: What's up with this lady?!?

[1] Eff it, make fun of her. Gimmie your best one-liner in the comments section. Open Mic Friday.

Oops. I was out of town all week and forgot to leave an Open Mic. Make up for lost time. I'm still busy today, so either entertain yourselves or weigh in on last week's threads. Drop links, write your own posts. You know the drill by now.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Romney SuperPac "Obama's Too Cool" Ad.

Funny how political narratives are a dual-edged sword. In 2008, candidate Obama's "newness" made him a phenomenon in the world of Presidential politricks, which he successfully leveraged to reel in young voters and energize the Democratic base. Of course, there were many who thought Obama's "cool" and "celebrity" masked his comparative lack of experience. Ads pointing this out were summarily dismissed as plain ole' garden-variety haterism. After all, his opponent (John McCain) was pretty much the antithesis of Obama in the area of social charm and physical presence. So, whatever.

Anyways, after some of the President's recent pop culture-friendly media appearances, the "style vs substance" debate is once again in full swing. Taking a play from the same losing playbook, Karl Rove's American Crossroads SuperPac is now running a near exact replica of that 08' campaign ad, the aptly titled "Cool".

Okay, here's the funny thing about this latest line of GOP attacks. President Obama really, really isn't all that "cool". Come on, seriously. I've been saying this since the beginning. He simply looks "cool" because a black guy with his worldliness and sensibility has never risen to this level of politics. He looks "cool" by comparison to the ultra-square Romney, brittle and angry John McCain, and Mr. Tan Man John Boehner. He's Stephon Urkelle to their Steve Urkels, but that doesn't make him "cool". Again, what's the basis of comparison?

Obama is not Mike Tomlin cool. He isn't 65-year old Kappa who dresses 30 cool. He damn sure isn't Montrell Holmes cool. Again, this is by contrast.

Oh, and BTW, his relative "cool" has nothing whatsoever to do with his policies, which is why ads like this don't ever work. More than anything else, it draws even more attention to Mitt Romney's social awkwardness, without really talking about his solutions to the very issues he claims Obama has screwed up.[1]

Yeah, that was awk-ward.

I'll take "relative coolness" anyday.

Question: Are these "Cool" ads an effective method for attacking the President on matters of policy? Is Romney's awkwardness sorta endearing? Is Obama really that "cool" or does he just look cool compared to the herbs that oppose him?

[1] Seriously, can anyone tell me, in 3 sentences, what Mitt Romney's economic plan is?!? No Googling, just tell me.