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Black History Month…Re-Imagined

Thoughts by WillieBeyond

I know February is Black history month, but I feel during this month a lot of the focus is on the past, that is very distant from the present.  Not that this history isn’t important, but I feel as we talk about the past we forget some of the things we are doing in the present.  Everyone one will say the greatest thing to happen in Black history recently, would be the election of President Barack Obama. I have mixed feelings about that statement.  This post isn’t about recognizing what will be in a book fifty years from now, but more about realizing the important events that have happened that won’t be recorded.  I would like to have Black History Month changed to Black Culture Appreciation Month or something like that.  I feel a lot of the troubles people get into is because they can only think of the good times of the past, but not of the silver lining in the clouds of the present.  Remember, segregation was no joke, but now we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King because segregation isn’t legal now (kinda sorta, depends on who you ask).  So lets think of the things that are happening now.

One of the things I feel should be marked and mention this Black Awareness Month (yeah, I like the sound of that) is Dave Chappelle.  Now before anyone gets upset, I am not one of those people who looks to celebrities, as a guideline for how to be happy.  Chappelle just happens to be a really good person to remember for one major reason.  Now we can all Wikipedia the info on Dave Chappelle, but I want us all to think of his actions.  The one I am mostly referencing is his decision to not do a Season 3.  He had the number one show and it was rising, but he stepped away for ethical reasons. I think that should be something that is marked down in history.  Everyone presented his refusal to do Season 3 as either a smart business move to make more money, or as just stupid and an effect of his mind spiraling out of control.  No one said it could just be for him wanting a better place to work (in an “I can sleep a night kind of way”).  Here is someone who had the integrity to step back and go “I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t feel good.”)

I think this action speaks louder than anything else as far as personal standards in my lifetime.  And yes I know Jerry Seinfeld also quit when his show was on the top.  But the huge difference in my mind is Chappelle had a wider resume than Seinfeld and Seinfeld was starting to peak, while Chappelle was still rising (look at season 4 and 5 of Seinfeld and tell me season 9 was as good).  But what do I know, it is just my opinion.  Also, because it doesn’t really matter, I feel I should take this time to point out Chappelle is a Muslim.  That’s right all you people who say Islam and Muslim is bad and yell out I’m Rick James (you know it…don’t lie to yourself) you were laughing a Muslim’s man sense of humor.  Also I don’t want this to be a thing where we forget about the person.  Yes, Dave Chappelle is a Muslim, yes he made us all laugh in one way or the other, and yes he got paid, but most importantly he is a man with a family.  He never let that escape his thought process. He is a man who has to live with himself, and that is what makes him one of my role models.

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In State of the Union, President Obama Criticizes “TV pundits” for “reducing serious debates to silly arguments”

From President Obama’s January 27 State of the Union speech
Hat tip to Media Matters
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The Death of U.S. Political Democracy For The People

Posted by: LibbyShaw

Will the Senator from Wal-Mart please yield to the Senator from Halliburton? The Congressman from Black Water has 5 minutes remaining before the Congresswoman from United Health may speak.

Mark your calendars, folks. January 21, 2010 is the day the radical and activist Supreme Court of the United States delivered the U.S. Democracy into the hands of the corporate sector and special interests groups. According to an article in the New York Times corporations, lobbyists and unions can now legally purchase their candidates of choice.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you – whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

The decision yesterday will usher in unimaginable numbers of Swift Boat attack ads. Corporate fat cats can now threaten and bully politicians to do their bidding or else.

“It will put on steroids the trend that outside groups are increasingly dominating campaigns,” Mr. Ginsberg said. “Candidates lose control of their message. Some of these guys lose control of their whole personalities.”

“Parties will sort of shrink in the relative importance of things,” he added, “and outside groups will take over more of the functions – advertising support, get out the vote – that parties do now.”

Front row: Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Back row: Associate Justices Samuel A. Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.

Some have called the SOTUS decision a power grab that is intellectually dishonest.

In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.

Many of those commenting on the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission have focused on the power-grab part. I agree with them. It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts had not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.

“If it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more,” a wise judge once wrote. That was Chief Justice John G. Roberts — back when — and dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens rightly turned that line against him.

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Republicans naturally and predictably love this recent ruling. But of course they would. Republicans embrace and fully support authoritarian forms of government. And the sad truth of the matter is the GOP has always worked for the corporate sector.

It is devastatingly unfortunate that Republican voters have never been able to understand the hard, cold and mean reality of those they elect into office. Politicians take an oath to serve the people in their districts but many merely give their constituents nothing but empty rhetoric. If one were to closely examine one’s Republican lawmakers’ voting records one would find who their elected officials really work for.

My guess is the teabaggers will wraps it head around the reality of the SCOTUS decision like we progressives have, for the only one imperative we do share in common is a collective outrage over the corporate takeover of the U.S. government and its legislative process by special interest groups and corporations.

But unfortunately teabaggers, unlike progressives, are far too easily led astray by the likes of Dick Armey, one of the numerous behind the scenes leaders of the teabagger movement. Armey’s main mission is to promote the interests of the health care industry. He and his organization, Freedom Works, uses teabaggers as its tools.

Republicans and teabaggers alike have been led to believe that the government is the root of everything evil while progressives know that government is the only force that can and will protect us from the evils of self-serving greed mongers of the corporate sector.

We are where we are today b/c the corporate sector has been enabled to run rough shod over the American people. We are broke. There are no jobs. We lost homes. We lost retirement savings. Meanwhile on Wall St. the fat cats who can now purchase politicians get richer by the minute.

Elections have consequences. The nice guy or girl candidate with whom to have a beer could very well be an anti-political democracy devil in disguise who has every intention of throwing the middle and working classes to the lions.

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Oh, and Prince Alwaleed, grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia and the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup and second biggest shareholder in News Corp (Murdock’s FOX “News”) doesn’t like Obama’s tax on the banks.

Who would have thought?

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TRMS: Navigating Race in America

Op-Ed by: Audiegrl

Rachel Maddow ShowLeave it to our girl Dr. Rachel Maddow to have the most meaningful, informative, substantive, and thought-provoking discussion on ‘race‘ during the MSM’s ‘Harry Reid said ‘negro dialect’…so now we have a shiny new ratings toy‘ moment. She actually had the fore-sight to invite a professor of Africana Studies on her show to discuss what could be a teachable moment for our country. And gasp! She even went as far as to criticize, in the way only Rachel can, the MSM in general, including her employer MSNBC, for their so far shallow and ultimately meaningless coverage of this moment. In just one 10 minute segment, Rachel and Professor Rose made more sense than all the talking-heads have for the last 72 hours. This is just one more reason that MSNBC needs to give Rachel ‘Meet the Press‘, so we can start watching it again, and have an open and honest debate of the political topics of the day. And please, give us more Professor Rose! Hers is a voice that needs to be heard. 🙂

In the video below, Rachel and Professor Rose discuss racial gaffes and insensitivities in politics and why some politicians suffer more severe consequences than others.

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Professor Tricia Rose, Professor and Chair, African American Cultural Politics and Gender Studies, Brown University

Professor Tricia Rose

Professor Tricia Rose

Tricia Rose (Ph.D, Brown University, American Civilization, 1993) is Professor of Africana Studies. She specializes in 20th century African-American culture and politics, social history, popular culture, gender and sexuality. In addition to her scholarly interest in black cultural production, the role of new technologies and ideologies about race in U.S. life, and the politics of intimacy and social justice, a central facet of her work reflects a deep interest in examining the current legacies of racial and other forms of structural relations and exploring the creative and visionary strategies developed by artists, communities and movements to build a more just society.

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44-D’s Best Music of 2009

Blogpost by: Ogenec

Never, ever on schedule, but always on time.” – Nas

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Hey y’all, Happy New Year!  I’ve been promising the list for some time, and I’ve been slacking.  Especially in the wake of AG’s most excellent best books list.  But like Kanye, “you should be honored by my lateness.”  🙂  What follows is a highly personal take on the best music of 2009.    The profusion in the quality and quantity of recorded music is mind-blowing.  And I especially love to be turned on to new stuff.  So I’m hoping you guys will chip in with your own suggestions.   Here we go.

Noisettes, Wild Young Hearts:  I’d never even heard of the Noisettes before Summer 09. But I heard their song “Atticus” at a store somewhere and went in furious search of the group.  Even though rock is not my genre, this is probably my favorite disc of the year.  Of course, calling this is a rock album is a serious disservice.  Most commentators call it a hybrid mesh of rock, blues, disco, and old school r&b.  They’re probably right, but it just sounds like the future to me.  The lead singer is DOPE, and I can’t wait to catch their live show.  Favorite cut: Atticus.

Mos Def, The Ecstatic:  He’s baaaack!!  Mos has floundered a little bit since his magnificent opus, Black on Both Sides.   I get it — he’s been distracted by his acting career (and weird appearances on Bill Maher).  And I liked The New Danger more than most folks.  But this is that classic Mos that we know and love.  Favorite cut: Auditorium.  Also love the remake of Roses with Georgia Anne Muldrow.

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Q-Tip, Kamaal The Abstract: The genuises at Q-Tip’s record label have to explain why they shelved this album for more than eight years.  I think it’s even better than last year’s The Renaissance.  Another hybrid album, this time with elements of r&b, soul, rock, and jazz.  Sounds like future Prince or Stevie Wonder.  Favorite cut: Do You Dig U?

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Drake, So Far Gone: Okay, this is a bit of a cheat.  The mixtape, which I’m still geeking over, came out in 2008.  But he re-released certain of the mixtape cuts on CD and itunes in 2009, so it qualifies.  As a bonus, the re-release contains an unreleased track “Fear,” which is bananas.  Hottest kid in the rap game right now, and with good reason.  Favorite cut: Fear.  Shout-out to DJ Khalil.

Lee Fields, My World: I gotta thank the good people of HBO’s Entourage for this one.  When I heard “Ladies” during the credits of one of the episodes, I lost my sh*t.  I had to cop the album.  Gutbucket soul, set to the sweetest harmonies you’ve ever heard.  And hey — I detect a little of the hip-hop influence as well.  Looks like the old school is learning from the new school, not just vice-versa.  I am a big fan of the ’60s renaissance in music.  If you love Amy Whitehouse, Joss Stone etc., check this OG out.  While you’re at it, check out Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings too.  Favorite cut: Ladies.

Rafael Saadiq, The Way I See It: I’m sticking with the retro soul angle here.  I’ve been down with Ray-Ray since Tony Toni Tone.  This is his masterpiece.  Again, if you like the Motown doo-wop sound, you’ve gotta check this out.  And while you’re at it, get the Live from the Artist’s Den DVD.  It’s fantastic.  Favorite cut: 100 Yard Dash.

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Fela, The Best of the Black President: “Eh-heh, let us get down.  Into another underground spiritual game….”  I have to show some love to the greatest Nigerian musician of all time.  If you want to know the meaning of “underground spiritual game,” you need to check out Fela!, the best show on Broadway.  This album will hold you over until you can.  It’s a compilation of Fela’s most popular cuts.  Note, however, that these are mostly edits: many of Fela’s songs run 20-30 minutes long, and you owe it to yourself to listen to the unedited versions.  Still, an excellent way to get familiar with the genius that is Fela.  Favorite cut: Water No Get Enemy.

Robert Glasper, Double Booked: And now we segue from Afrobeat to jazz (actually, less of a transition than you might think).  Robert Glasper is my favorite jazz pianist right now.  He’s just so melodic.  He’s also incredible live — the missus and I saw him last year at the Kennedy Center.  He can play everything from straight-ahead to fusion to soul jazz to hip-hop.  And here, he does.  The first half is an acoustic trio setting; the second, “The Experiment,” a fusion exercise with Bilal and Mos Def making vocal appearances.  Wonderful stuff.  Favorite cut: No Worries.

Roy Hargrove, Emergence: A little more jazz.  I’ve loved this guy ever since I saw him play in St. Louis many moons ago.  Like Glasper, Hargrove does all variety of jazz, soul and hip-hop-inflected music.  Indeed, my favorite album of his is Crisol, a Latin jazz homage.  Here, Hargrove goes big band.  I’m not generally a fan of the big band genre, but I love this.  Especially the treatment of Mambo for Roy from the Crisol album.  Favorite cut: Mambo for Roy.

Maxwell, Blacksummersnight: Maxwell returns.  He’s lost the neo-soul affectations of his first few albums, and is in full-on grown man mode.  I love it, and you will too.  The harmonies, the live instrumentation, the trumpets, it’s all so gorgeous.  And if you missed his North American tour, you missed the best concert of the year.  Period.  Favorite cut: Bad Habits.

Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Devil’s Halo: I think of this album as sort of a bookend to Bitter.  I liked Bitter, but found it to be a little dark for me.  This is dark too, but it’s not so depressing.  Just deep, slow, and sensual.  You know, kinda like Me’Shell herself.  Favorite cut: Love You Down (wonderful remake of the Ready for the World song).

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The Dream, Love vs Money: I don’t listen to a lot of commercial radio.  Obviously.  🙂  It’s virtually all dreck to me.  But I love me some The-Dream.  I don’t think there’s anyone else in R&B working at his level.  He’s behind most of the hits you’ve danced to, from Rihanna’s Umbrella to Beyonce’s Single Ladies.  But he saved the best for himself on this album.  The-Dream is the future of R&B.  Favorite cut: Fancy.

Major Lazer, Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do: I don’t even know how to classify this one.  Reggae meets rock meets electronica?  Dancehall meets punk?  I heard someone call it “electro reggae.”  Let’s go with that.  This album, from MIA’s producers Diplo and Switch, rocks HARD.  Just get it already.  Favorite cut: What U Like(WARNING: This is a VERY explicit and raunchy song.   Not for delicate ears!!!)

Raekwon, Only Built for Cuban Linx 2: The second installment of the Wu-Gambino crime-soaked masterpiece.  This is for all you who claim not to like gangsta rap.  Indulge your id and have a little fun with this one.  It’s not real, any more than playing Grand Theft Auto or watching Scarface is.  But it’s an escapist treat. Amazon says “Blazing tracks…delivered with Raekwon’s melodic flows and street oriented delivery.”  Werd.  Favorite track: We Will Rob You.

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The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not Want To Lose by Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy and Victoria Reggie KennedyWashington Post—My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars — and competing interests — were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation’s working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn’t do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn’t arise again for a generation.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn’t ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Ted often said that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He also said that it was better to get half a loaf than no loaf at all, especially with so many lives at stake. That’s why, even as he never stopped fighting for comprehensive health-care reform, he also championed incremental but effective reforms such as a Patients’ Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA continuation of health coverage.

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SNL Gets It Right – Do We Get It?

Posted by Guest Contributor Hail To the Chimp

World leaders are meeting to discuss climate change, there are wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran is taking away Nobel Peace Prizes from its citizens, the dollar just had its two month high against the Euro, our President just received a Nobel Peace Prize, the stimulas money is making its rounds in the economy, there is a health care debate still going on, there are still federal departments/agencies under continuing resolutions because Congress has not approriated money for FY2010, the economy is in shambles, the House just passed a questionable bill on financial reform, Guantanamo detainees, energy reform, Cap and Trade is being discussed, genocide is still occurring in Darfur, more children in the US are going hungry everyday, unemployment is between 10-19%, foreclosures are still high,…..

And the list goes on, but if you turn on the tube you would think that none of those issues exist or that there are no good stories on American heroes to report………

Every “news” channel is Tiger all the time. Will his wife leave him, can he redeem himself, what about his endorsements – what about John Doe who has been unemployed for 6 months, Cobra benefits are about to expire, is getting more and more calls from collection agencies, is about to lose his home, has to go to food banks to get food to feed his 3 children, has had his car repossessed, and is about to lose his home.

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SNL gets it right. Why is someone who has no responsibilities to the public being covered while politicians who have broken ethics laws, are hypocrites, and just purely being corrupt not covered? Ensign paid off his mistress’ family, Baucus tried to get his girlfriend to be made a US Attorney and only backed down when a reporter scooped him, several Republicans vote against bills knowing their constituents will still get funding for the earmarks they inserted in the bill, but voted against; governors cover up when they have executed innocent people, spouses’ companies get no-bid federal contracts, Congress cannot pass any bill, lets not forget that pesky lie that led to Iraq war…….

This is beyond just turning off the tv and just relying on blogs, research, and actual reporters. What exactly does the corporate media have to gain with this story, but not covering real issues that impact Americans? Why are the same lightweights on TV – David Gregory, John King do not know anything about the issues. They do not even know how to give rebuttals to the lies and spin that politicians give on their infotainment shows.

The 2008 election was about Bush and what he represented anti-intellectualism. The eight year war on science, math, and all–out critical and analytical thought. Sensationalism has always existed to some extent in the media, but there was always a difference between the National Enquirer and the NY Times. All one has to look at is the “op-ed” that someone wrote for Palin that was one of the top 10 reads for the Washington Post for 2009. Really? An “op-ed” that was a dishonest, non-fact supported rant in hope of getting attention. Surely this country can do better, but do we want to do better.

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