Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Indoctrination Tactics At Play - Or Just Another Ni88er Movie?

I received this email alert from website All Hip Hop. I may not listen to most of it but I do like to know what's going on.
Hip-Hop star Ice Cube has been cast as a rogue cop in a new action comedy set to be produced titled Ride Along...Cube plays a rogue cop in the comedy, who attempts to sabotage his sister's marriage to a white psychiatrist by taking him for a ride during his work day.
I saw this and immediately thought this movie is going to be a hot mess! I wondered if it was the studio's idea to make it into another black/white comedy. You know how much Hollywood loves those films. I also wondered if the movie ends up with a predominantly Black cast how chock full of stereotypes it will have. You know what I'm talking about! Plus do we really need to making light of the action of rogue cops?

The thing that really raised my ire though was the blurb about the character meddling in his sister's interracial marriage. It doesn't indicate the white husband has done anything wrong, but that Cube's character doesn't like the fact his sister is married to one. Now Black men exercise their rights to date whomever they like so where is this attempt at controlling the mating choices of Black women coming from?

Could it be that it's in the best interest of the bottom-feeders and those that would take advantage of Black women feeling desperate by limiting their choices? Or getting them to believe their choices are limited? So many of us already believe we are not worthy of being protected, cherished and provided for that all sorts of pathologies have emerged. It's time to expose that for the lie that it is!! 

If the situation was reversed and it was a white actor playing a rogue cop out to scare his sister's Black husband, the NAACP would be holding a press conference decrying such a racist script. So why not the reverse? Don't Black men have enough problems to continue perpetuating this type of behavior?

As it is I won't be seeing this film and if it gets completed I heartily support a straight to DVD release. Yet again I am shaking my head at the short-sightedness of those in positions to know better who choose to rub themselves in filth for a buck. I do hope in some twisted way that seeing the interracial couple together will still seep in the message there are plenty of good men available for us and to be open to finding a man of a different race/ethnicity/religion. 

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When Protect & Serve Becomes Obstruct & Harm

I wrote about the demise of the intact and thriving working class Black American community in yesterday's post and gave some reasons why. When you open a book there's a left page and a right page, so today I'd like to present some of the situations that may prompt people to want to be protectionists. 

In Oakland the funeral for the four officers killed by Lovelle Mixon was held at a huge auditorium. Their deaths were senseless and the retaliation will be swift and long. I say "will" and not "may" because law enforcement - like our brand of justice in this country - is highly subjective based on class, gender, finances, orientation, appearance and the other prejudices of those involved. Even the determination of what laws to apply can vary depending on the circumstances. So what begat Oscar Grant III begets Mehersle begets Mixon begets ????? 

When prosecutors can charge an 8 year old child of color with murder I think we can safely say we've jumped the shark in this country. So the officers in that scenario may not have engaged in anything untoward when they met their demise we can't say for certain they never harassed, framed or intimidated any innocent people in their pursuit of "justice".  

Take the officer who drew his weapon on the Moats family in a hospital parking lot for goodness sake! Who goes to the hospital to cause trouble and commit crimes - seriously? That dirtbag officer has now offered some lame and insincere apology. Mr. Moats showed incredible restraint even calling the officer Sir repeatedly but still didn't get one ounce of common courtesy. We could have been reading about the NFL player shot to death while his mother-in-law died instead, but the Moats are obviously classy even during times of great stress.

Officer Robert Powell (remember the name!) knew he was wrong from the get-go because Mrs. Moats insisted on exiting the car to see her mom before she passed.  He knew he was wrong, but let his prejudice, pride and the power of his shield rule his actions. He threatened to "make trouble" for Moats. That indicates this officer has a pattern of abusive behavior. I'm certain he has a list of offenses that have been ignored and buried. He of course wouldn't be the only officer that would fit that bill. Duanna Johnson's murderer may very well be the former cops that battered her. That officer can't do jack about the time he stole from the family to see a loved one before they died. It's only because of the public embarrassment that he's even offered the token apology. Had Moats not been an NFL player would we have even heard about this? So celebrity trumps the average citizen and I hope leads to the end of that officer's career and a policy revision. Though I suspect his evil will remain unless he has a Road to Damascus epiphany. Somehow I doubt it.

Certain people don't change - and should've been weeded out at recruitment. Law enforcement is very flawed, full of criminally-minded officers who engage in racist/sexist behavior with an ineffective Internal Affairs. Where's the checks and balances? President Obama isn't going to change that. Law enforcement, armed forces, private contractors and militia are all the same thing. It seems for quite a few those behind a badge, a suit or a uniform are engaging in creating chaos, killing with impunity, rape and controlling certain populations by using terror tactics. We have to demand change and accountability with established consequences ready to implemented. Part of that will require that we cease harboring the neighborhood miscreants. It undermines legitimate efforts at establishing boundaries and priorities. Demand we must if we want to make inroads otherwise we'll just keep hearing about it, complaining but not resolving this.

Here's the Moats' interview on Good Morning America

We need to continue discussing this but it's time for action  - and punishments!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Black Americans Are Like Newspapers

I recently visited my family in Upstate New York. It felt like an episode of “This Is Your Life”. I admittedly have a disdain/hate relationship with the city I grew up in. Lots of institutional racism, segregated neighborhoods and the combo of Blacks who were either into social climbing or the lowest common denominator behavior had me declaring at age 8 how I was moving to NYC after I graduated high school. I’d also noticed a pattern of the first born female (mom & grandma) having their first of many children at age 18. I knew that tradition was going to end with me as well, lol!

Despite the unemployment rates in NYS being high they’re nearly double in California right now. Despite parental concern I did go to NYC and loved it. As a native New Yorker we are a breed unto ourselves. Having lived in California and specifically San Francisco for the last 8 years I have to admit that I’m now a California girl (woman). You know what I mean! I’d still like to be bi-coastal actually and to do so I’m going to have to step up my game so to speak. With the average home purchase price hovering around $1M with the average rent $2000/mo I know why I may stay broke if I continue to live in San Francisco as a single child-free woman of a certain income bracket. So I may also need to change that status and be actively doing so. Which brings me to the point of this blog post.

Seeing some of the same thriving business districts and surrounding residential areas of my town of birth I’ve never considered it “home” because I had no say in where I was born and raised. The city is always building something (parking, sports arenas) yet the bulk of the areas where Blacks lived during my formative years are in near total disarray. Abandoned or burnt-out buildings litter many neighborhoods bringing the housing value down to those that are either too old or too stubborn to leave. Apparently the ones who haven’t left (like all of my friends and school mates) have moved to residential areas that were exclusively white. 

There was a time I would’ve declared that “progress” but I think through a different critical prism now so I realize it’s likely the result of whites having left the area as well because it’s not “integrated” AND a look at the class status/temperament of those people who’ve remained deserves an evaluation. Not that their aren’t any well-off Blacks in Buffalo or poor whites but it always seemed geared towards affluence for a majority of whites. I used to think it was “racism” as the only cause but I think there were other factors at play. I used to say there’d be a Black President before a Black Mayor of this city but alas I was proven wrong! 

So admittedly it was the combination of how the Blacks in the area did – or didn’t - wield power politically and certain aspects of my family that I find troublesome that generate this reaction out of me. I used to think it was like a rubber band or better yet, a boomerang, that no matter how far away I moved even across the pond to London some problem would force me back even though it was usually for a brief time. Like now with the horrible economy. It’s nice to see my immediately family but I am itching to be away. I need to be a large metropolitan area with diversity and more than one dominant culture to be at my happiest which usually means living in one of the more expensive cities. By the way I tried Atlanta, and no offense to ya’ll but it’s way to provincial for my tastes. I can’t live in a state that flies the Confederate Flag. I think out of all the cities I’ve lived in I may like Toronto the best but it’s way too cold in the winter. I really liked Denver when I went there for the Democratic National Convention and they are wooing Californians right now.

I was out recapping my lapsed driving skills – because you don’t need to drive in San Francisco (or NYC) but I need to be able to handle my business behind the wheel in case I end up living in a city that requires it. I noticed one of the areas surrounding the park I’d been driving in had really deteriorated. I remember as a child taking the bus through this area to attend school and how I’d always thought it looked a little worse for wear so now it was really bad. It was around 8pm and I counted six younger AA men standing around doing….what I don’t know.

Well one was sitting at the entrance of a dry cleaner that was closed drinking a can of beer. He looked rather pissed to me. I’m not sure if he was drunk (Euro expression) or angry. Two were across the street in front of another store “talking”. Three others were standing in front of the corner store. Are you getting the picture? My mother commented how these areas had only poor people left because the Middle Class had left. I responded these neighborhoods were full of the criminally-minded and being poor may play a role in the decline but that didn’t excuse the potential tinder box of danger and illegal activity displayed before us.

I was glad we were in a car because I would NOT have wanted to be a lone female out there with them. Of course we disagreed but I’m reminded of the potential dangers of people who may look like us that don’t share any of our values. One such person decided to drive out of his residential cesspool and come to ours to shoot at people…one of the victims was my second youngest brother and he didn’t survive.

I realize speaking to my mother about certain things is an exercise in futility. Generation Gap Alert!! Like how it’s time to leave the neighborhood she’s lived in for the past 25 years because the encroaching areas have become cesspools of criminal activity and having a Black Chief of Police and Mayor isn’t going to make other people bent on destruction change their evil ways. Some family that moved down the street decided to supplement their income by casing all of the houses in a two block radius and attempting robbery. My mom’s next door neighbor caught some of them standing on top of her garbage cans at 4am. Thank goodness there are still some men left in the neighborhood that paid them a visit, issued a warning and outlined the consequences for any further violations. That’s how it used to be but that’s not the way things are usually handled today.

How do I know this? Because of the idiocy of my brother’s “friends” and their stop snitching vow of silence crap the police know who murdered him but don’t have enough evidence to prosecute because none of the witnesses would say anything. It’s been nearly three years and my anger over this hasn’t dissipated. I don’t think a 21-year old college student with a job in the banking industry and an all-around sweet natured person being just another statistic of Black on Black crime because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time is something that should be forgotten. There are many such stories and not just Black men are being brutalized. So those that were protesting the shooting of Lovelle Mixon need to seriously have their heads examined.

This wasn’t supposed to be a personal essay. I was going to keep it brief (for me anyway) and speak in general tones but this is what came out. If it appears intact then I guess I decided to post it. I’m not sure yet. So why did I title it the way I did? Newspapers were once considered stalwart and venerable. Didn’t we always think there’d be a local and national newspaper? Yet from the Christian Science Monitor to the San Francisco Chronicle to the Seattle (name) they’re all folding or on the verge of collapse. I’ve always loved newspapers. It’s the tactile sensation of holding it and smelling it. The ink would bleed all over your hands. 

I couldn’t wait to get to the Sunday cartoons and attempt completion of the crossword puzzles. Of course unless you were of a particular income bracket the coupons were eagerly anticipated as well. Don’t we tend to think of the Black community as a national collective of people in the struggle against white racism? That’s the shtick anyway that we were sold from those individuals who came to a very limited power during the aftermath of Civil Rights. Notice I specified Black Americans and I am referring to those whose ancestors were enslaved. We’re talking those whose family gene pool goes back starting from three generations ago and backwards. Like the neighborhoods of our youth that our grandparents lived in, those old alliances are for the most part gone. 

The reality is for the majority those times have long since passed and those alliances were tenuous at best. When 70% of Black women are single and not by some “empowered” choice but because they’re holding onto these old ideas that the majority of Black men have long since abandoned it’s pure foolishness. When the majority of these single women - and by single I’m talking never married - also have at least one child then it’s not just about personal choices and responsibility. Some of these women were young girls taken advantage of by men old enough to know better or those that knew they weren’t sticking around to begin with. How can you make an empowered choice when you don’t know what that means? They’re the ones that are living in these deteriorated neighborhoods with boys that grow into angry abandoned men who have literally bitten the hands that fed them and then some.

Before anyone starts balking - yes of course there are exceptions, good men, intact families and thriving neighborhoods. Let’s get real here, though. While you may be living your life of exceptionalism, good people and cheer you may rub up against some of those on the periphery. Admit it, if you were superstitious you might throw salt over your shoulder and say “there but for the grace of God…” Or you may be living your high profile life with all its pressures just trying to swim with the other sharks. Meanwhile that periphery has a domino effect. It’s like when there’s a power outage and the lights on the block go out one by one.

There will be a day of reckoning but by the time you notice it, it’ll be too late to stop the bleeding. There are stereotypes about how certain ethnic groups are all wealthy because they make sure the entire collective is doing reasonably well by comparison to others. They have businesses that cater to their needs and are unabashedly supportive of their interests. They work with each other and hire each other. They don’t claim speaking well and being educated is a violation of belonging to that group. They don’t eschew therapy. They have thriving communities. Their men haven’t publicly disdained women from their group by touting the virtues and beauty of other groups of women. They don’t label it a “preference” when confronted about it. They don’t abandon their children. They don’t say “give a brother a chance” when they’re engaging in substandard behavior and activity. They don’t separate the women in the group by skin shade or hair texture declaring some women are worthy of praise while condemning the rest. There isn’t this disconnect where the majority of women and children are left to fend for themselves. Again this is speaking of the majority  - which you can see played out over and over if you look - not individuals.

None of these things occur in a vacuum or by osmosis. It’s a mentality that is either supported or rejected and all the actions that follow are the result of that choice. This goes beyond white racism. This goes beyond the choice of a few individuals to “live their lives as they see fit”. This is a matter of survival. Some believe it’s too late for the collective and individuals who want to survive must separate themselves immediately. In the most heinous environments I agree, but there are still areas that have not deteriorated to that point yet. There are still people out there fighting the good fight. At least I hope there are.

Like newspapers will we admit there’s a serious problem and address it or will we continue to deny, deny, deny until the damage is complete and we have to sever the limbs or face sudden demise? I used to deny it even after what happened to my family. I used to think there was always a couple of bad seeds in the bunch but the bunch was a bushel and it was good. After what happened at Dunbar Village, after reading the blog Black & Missing and after looking at actual crime stats I realized those seeds have multiplied and sprouted an angry violent army of aggressors and fueled mass willful ignorance. It’s sad but you’ll get over it. It’s time to demolish the old and create something new and better in its place. Black women of quality can create quality Black children with whomever they mate with since we are the daughters of Eve. Will we stop looking through a narrow prism of choices and open ourselves to the spectrum of an entire world with as many options available to us as we’re willing to seek?

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Does Anybody Have Time to Read Blogs on Sundays?

Well I already know the answer to that – yes. I mean I read them everyday but you know I spend a lot of time on the internets. Eventually I’m gonna have to uh…disengage a bit more. For now though I have a little too much free time on my hands. Of course time isn’t really free. Our clocks are ticking away until they…stop. We just have no idea when that will be. When you’re young didn’t you think you’d live forever? Or at least I remember when I was eight years old and thought sixteen was really old and it would take me forever to get to that age. Now that’s it been an equal amount of time since I then I’d like to be able to slow down the passage of time. Every year seems to go by faster and faster now.

I’ve noticed the traffic on my blog slows on weekends presumably because all of you are out living your lives – which is a great thing by the way. I have things I need to do, want to do and don’t want to do. I’m a notorious procrastinator. So I must admit reading is a nice distraction or tool of postponement. It’s all in how you look at things I suppose.  

Ok I just realized though I should be more aware of my time but I should also not bash myself. I could’ve married to first guy who paid attention to me and plunked out a few kids. I’d be busy but would I be happy? Now there’s another conundrum for ya. Right now I can get up when I want, sleep when I want, eat whatever I want and I don’t have to answer to anybody (human at least). There’s that whole spiritual aspect I’m avoiding right now…..

I mean here I am trying to come up with topics to keep my online play cousins entertained and challenged. It’s also a good rant forum and I can finally get some things off my chest. So really this is a win-win scenario for all of us. I’m also practicing one of the few avenues of discipline I’ve been consistent at. I made a declaration to write something every day and four months later I’m still at it. I’m relieved to know I can be consistent and I hope providing a variety of quality content.

Now it’s time to expand this to other areas of my life that I’ve long since abandoned out of fear, mediocrity, frustration, confusion or just not having a vision. What do you want to conquer that you’ve let lapse? How are you spending not just your Sundays but every day to make it work for you?

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Can't I Buy Wine At The Supermarket?

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You know I've lived in California for so long there are certain things I've apparently taken for granted. I've thought nothing of perusing the wine section of most supermarkets for a selection. These stores have wine buyers whose selections often times reflect their tastes. In San Francisco I met the buyer for a local upscale organic-leaning grocer at a lounge bar. It caters to people in the nightclub industry so I got an in-depth schooling on great varietals. 

All of those shows with sommeliers/foodies on Fine Living Network and subsequent personal study have paid off as well. Another local grocer sells this one great brand of Blanc de Blancs French champagne (the real stuff) that's less than $12.  In fact, even Trader Joe's touts Charles Shaw wine otherwise known as 2 Buck Chuck - though it's $3 now. I've been able to sample a lot of wine and of course living in Northern California aka Wine Country has certainly developed my palate. You have to swish and spit by the way lest you get drunk before the tour ends!

This doesn't even begin to cover the pricing of wine and the use of undocumented workers on wineries to keep their profits up and allegedly prices low. When the prices of imports are roughly the same as domestic (except when you start getting into specific years, etc) I don't see how that argument holds water. That's another topic for a post that I will cover one day soon. 

New York State produces its own wine too, but unlike in California I can't buy my cheese, wine and toilet paper at the same place. You'd think there'd be this coordinated effort to showcase wines from the Empire State but the only time I've seen any was on the above-mentioned network as the "forgotten" domestic. Now the question of whether I'd want to buy all three together is a matter of personal taste for mass retailers (i.e. Gallo) do abound at supermarkets. 

Is that because of the advertising money spent marketing these wines or is that because the general public has simple (unsophisticated) tastes? There was a time when I thought I hated red wines. There was a time when a $5 bottle was sufficient. I'd dare say a $45 bottle of Tattinger Estate isn't in the weekly budget of the average consumer. I'd also opine those that have wine cellars aren't buying from Sam's Club necessarily either. 

Governor Patterson wants to allow grocers to sell wine to raise revenue for the state. See you New Yorkers don't realize how lucky you are to only have a $15B deficit instead of the $43B one slapped onto California with the looming $8B and counting in next year's budget.  Oh well, I never tire of pointing out the foolishness of those voters that were dazzled by the unqualified movie star who's helped edge the state a little bit closer to that cliff we think won't hold when the Big One comes. Where will all the celebs go when their houses fall into the Pacific? If you've visited Southern California to behold the beauty and peril of building a mansion on stilts on the side of a cliff then you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

So New York has until April 1st (really no joking) to decide on his budget proposal. The Liquor Lobby opposes this, including the Teamsters. Well...everybody's grabbing for a piece of the pie but to me this is a no-brainer. It's ridiculously archaic to not be able to purchase wine at the supermarket. Apparently the wine shops can't sell beer so I say open it up and be done with it. The last thing I'd want to do is be slave to whatever wine shop is in my vicinity or gasp - the liquor store that litters poorer neighborhoods. That's not elitist of me. They tend to grossly inflate prices. It's almost as bad as having to pay $32 for a $20 bottle of vodka in Ireland due to the ridiculous tariffs added to alcohol.  

Here's the weigh-in from Eric Asimov via The Pour blog at the New York Times:
The current system is an antiquated remnant of the post-Prohibition days. We eliminated blue laws prohibiting wine shops from opening on Sundays, and the world seems to have survived.

When Starbucks opened on seemingly every other corner in New York City it didn’t drive all the existing diners and coffee shops out of business. It did force many of them to improve their coffee quality and selection. Eventually, people began to react negatively to the Starbucks ubiquity and many smaller coffee specialty shops began to emerge playing the anti-corporate, connoisseur-quality card.
He has a point. You'll only find me at Charbucks because I needed a Hotspot internet connection or for the Tazo tea. As I can personally attest every wine shop isn't created equal. It's usually hit or miss - mostly miss as I've had some disgusting selections suggested. The one exception came from the one shop I went to in the Tenderloin of all places where I discovered L de Lyeth - thanks to the owner actually listening to my preferences.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Ever Been Followed Around A Store For One Reason Only?

Yeah I'm going there. I have experienced overly persistent sales associates out for a commission but never followed around a store unless it's because someone assumed I was going to steal if left to my own devices. Now if I entered a store looking like a crack-addict I could understand the need for monitoring. I've worked retail and aside from obvious shifty behavior usually the people that steal do so out of greed than "need". It's the ones that put on airs that can be the most notorious. Like many things Black people have to put up with the assumption of guilt of a crime before one has been committed or even considered is just one of those things some of us have to endure in a racist world. What may come as a surprise is the actual culprits are not the ones assumed to be those most likely.

This segment from "What Would You Do" features a Black woman being stopped in what they describe as an upscale store.  I've been followed in stores. In San Francisco it's happened at the drugstores Walgreens and Rite Aid. Walgreens tends to have the Asian staff following me and other Blacks and Rite Aid it was the security guard on duty. I was shocked to find the guard lurking in a corner when I came out of the feminine hygiene product section which was all the way in the back like we're supposed to be embarrassed about normal body functions.  

Anyway I found the segment somewhat manipulative and over the top. I also didn't think the store they chose was truly upscale, just small. It wasn't Target so that makes it upscale? Have they been to the Prada store? I get that the point was to educate the deniers...and white people because most Blacks are already aware of this. I also found the categorization of "Shopping While Black" to be a bit ridiculous, but I won't discount it. "Driving While Black" is an accepted point of reference to describe harassment people receive going to and fro in their vehicles.

I also was certain the manner by which the salesclerk spoke to the shopper would've left the store vulnerable to a lawsuit - or at the least very bad publicity. In today's tech-oriented world people have video cameras at the ready to record the misdeeds of others in public places. So anyone being that inflammatory is just plain stupid and deserving of all legal recourse available.

This of course is my take on things. Watch the segment for yourself and if you wish to share, drop a line in the comment section.

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Old School Friday

Ah it's the end of the work week for those still lucky enough to have jobs! Or perhaps you're on a career path that's paid out for you in spades. So this week's theme "Bad Day At Work" may or may not apply. Does one have a bad day due to a jerk boss, an incompetent assistant, an overbearing client, an unexpected deadline or because of problems at home? Or considering what's going on today, that "bad day" might just be the day you find out you won't have a job because your entire company has gone under? I wonder how the employees at Lehman felt - those that weren't in the loop or who had left other companies to work there? 

I honestly have no idea what songs would adequately capture the mood of the range of emotions that wouldn't be expletive filled. So I think hugging it out is a better choice. Yup I'm going for the sap, er poignancy. Now that I'm looking at the video with its slice of life visuals and people working....see I was right! Plus I believe him when he says he wants love. Unlike this porno theme I heard on the R&B station last week that made me want to gouge out my ears about some guy wanting to throw a woman on the counter, break out a video camera and....I had to change the station because I didn't want to hear anymore. 

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

80's Guilty Pleaure: Xanadu

Ok I admit it: I love Xanadu. I love the roller skates, the leg warmers and the music. The plot of the movie is nonexistent really. Olivia Newton John is one of eight muses and falls in love with the man she was sent to inspire. He's a frustrated artist who has a job painting album covers that he considers an interference to his true passions (opening a roller disco)! Boy have times changed. How many of us would kill for an artistic "job" like that? Me me me! I haven't even mentioned the best part of this movie though: GENE KELLY. It was his last film. The sight of him on roller skates and in a rink is priceless. The choreography was also great. Kenny Ortega got his big career break with this film. He went from dancer to choreographer to director (High School Musical) like another talent - Debbie Allen. Even if you think the movie is cheesy you can safely allow your kids to watch it and I've really come to appreciate not feeling assaulted from what's on the tv these days. Somebody obviously liked the concept so much they brought the concept to Broadway as well.

The theme song and movie finale. Just to jog your memory.

This one scene from the movie was one of the best I think. Who wouldn't have wanted to sing and dance with Kelly?

 Xanadu wasn't the first time Kelly donned roller skates

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Did you know regenerative medicine has advanced to the point where you can grow your own organs outside of your body?! I know it sounds kinda freaky, science fiction tv show-ish but the future presented on shows like Star Trek is available now. Using your own blood and cells, doctors can make a mold to grow a replacement organ or tissues in a matter of weeks!

Yesterday's Oprah episode covered ways to improve your life expectancy. One technique is following a diet that restricts calorie consumption which forces the body to use its cells more productively. Now being on the youngish side of the age pendulum I would usually gloss over this as something for the elders, but I'm not so young anymore. When you have nieces who will be 16 then I guess not. 

Now it is all about preventative techniques to avoid illnesses or boost quality of life. We're all not going to be young forever! Plus with so much plastic surgery being performed like it's a visit to the dentist it's more difficult to actually see and experience people aging naturally without looking like frozen statues. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has a report on The Future of Regenerative Medicine that states: 
Regenerative medicine is the next evolution of medical treatments. Derived from the fields of tissue engineering, tissue science, biology, biochemistry, physics, chemistry, applied engineering and other fields, regenerative medicine is the first truly interdisciplinary field that utilizes and brings together nearly every field in science. This new field holds the realistic promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in vivo (in the living body) through reparative techniques that stimulate previously irreparable organs into healing themselves. Regenerative medicine also empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in vitro (in the laboratory) and safely implant them when the body is unable to be prompted into healing itself.
The benefits of regenerative medicine are endless! From helping people with life-threatening illnesses, to reducing the demand of organ and tissue donations this is the right direction for medicine and it returns it to its origins of doing no harm. It will also reduce the overall costs for care - which will be a welcome relief to millions who either have had HMO plans that denied them adequate care, no health coverage at all or to those that have filed bankruptcy as debt relief from huge bills.

What does regenerative medicine do? First and foremost, it cures by either encouraging your body to create undamaged tissues or by accepting transplanted tissues or organs. The difference is that the transplant will NOT be from a matched donor that your body may later reject, but it's your own. 
Collectively, these treatments allow for two substantial advances over current medicine. The first advance is the potential to in vivo (in the living body) regenerate currently irreparably damaged tissues so that they return to full functionality. The second advance is to be able to produce tissues in vitro (in the laboratory) to be used for transplantation purposes when regeneration is not possible. This technology has the potential to cure diseases ranging from diabetes (through regeneration of islets) to the repair of cancerous tissues (by replacing the removed cancerous tissue with externally grown healthy tissue). By creating these “tissues for life,” regenerative medicine treatments will undoubtedly lead to a tremendous improvement in quality of life and healthcare.
President Obama's support of stem cell research  - which he again mentioned during his second press conference last night - is vital. With regenerative medical techniques those that want to object over the use of embryonic stem cells won't have a leg to stand on because it won't be an issue. Of course I suspect some people will never be satisfied and always find something to protest. 

Here's a report on CBS. It's not CGI either!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Did You Think About The PBO Press Conference?

I thought President Obama conducted himself well and answered each increasingly lame and non-important question with more patience than I would've had. First CBS' Chip Reid started with the nonsense. Then CNN's Ed Henry tried to move an elephant with his obnoxiousness. He may clap his paws with glee over some added attention but he gets no reward for dragging the First Daughters into his stupid gotcha moment. CNN is trying to take over for Fox as most partisan and inflammatory network. It's no coincidence they hire some idiot that used to work at Fox in their quest for bigger ratings. Big FAIL!

So between browsing a few political blogs and Twitter someone mentioned that he only called on a small number of female reporters. When one of them wanted to ask him about race (why?) and how he was faring these some 60 odd days, how was he supposed to respond? We all know Obama DOES NOT LIKE TALKING ABOUT RACE for one thing and two - the question served NO PURPOSE WHATSOEVER. As he responded, the people may have noticed the historical context but the average citizen is concerned about the economy. 

It seems it's certain right-wing leaning media personalities that are still carping on race and the other pundits are looking for gotcha moments. Anything but actually trying to help support the President's agendas. Even as I question his hiring practices, the loyalties of those that are serving and honestly whether the evil empire infrastructure will be dismantled I do want all the little people to experience some freedom for a change. I can't say the same for those in the media who seem hell-bent on planting seeds of dissent and spreading drama in their wake.

It's time for some new blood and I am tired of all the aging white mostly male faces that not only make up the WH Press Corp but corporate media period. Alas we Blacks let that ship sail and this is what we're left with. No control, marginal representation and a lot of haterade. Thank the stars for us bloggers but that too will be corporatized in a few years. I hope we're taking steps to ensure our participation remains intact. 

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I Pity The Woman Who Takes Relationship Advice From Steve Harvey Alone!

Don't be a fool ladies. Oprah may have found his shtick funny but it's not as if she's going to stop whatever works for her life with Stedman to adopt Steve's rules of engagement. I blame best friend Gayle who clearly lacks some critical thinking skills and knowledge of what's happening in today's dating world by suggesting the book in the first place. Oprah had him on for a brief Friday Live segment two weeks ago and he was funny so she invited him back for an entire episode. That's when I went, oh no! Perhaps they thought it was a great book because it's a generational thing since they're all in their 50's? Which only proves how out of touch they are! 

So I asked if anyone had watched this Oprah episode on Twitter and I was directed to this article by author Roslyn Holcomb on her self-titled blog: Don't Take Relationship Advice From Men.

She asks why women are so eager to listen to men giving relationship advice and I know why. We think we're going to learn something valuable. It's making an assumption though and you know what they say about those! It's also because a lot of us (Black women) may have grown up without reliable...ok I'm gonna be blunt...without hardly any (good) male role models so of course we'll gravitate towards that. Plus this is a patriarchal society so it should come as no surprise. 

Okay, I will concede some of what Steve Harvey said made sense but he's a comedian!! He doesn't have a PhD in psychology and he's not a social scientist: he's out to sell a book. He's a celebrity for goodness sake! Since when are celebrities role models for stable relationships? Besides isn't his current wife the woman who was the side chick that he left his previous wife for? How long do you think that relationship's going to last after he comes out of his "getting his groove back" lust haze? Do you really want to listen to a man who cheats as your only source of dating and relating information? Just because someone is on the teevee doesn't make them an authority on anything. Take it with a grain of salt at least.

This isn't to say that we should never solicit the advice of a man, but it needs to be the right one. I wouldn't advocate listening to what a lot of women have to say either. In what is commonly referred to as the "Black Community" a lot of women are taught to notice skin tone, hair texture, to attend a church and call it religious belief, to give all of their time and money away indiscriminately, to hold up the entire world...all at the individual female's expense. Then they're supposed to pat themselves on the back for the "giving to others" and doing the "Christian thing" meanwhile when they need help nobody's home. 

The adopted mantra should be "Ain't Nothing Going On But the Rent". If you ever question this one-sided practice (for Black men are NEVER told to do this) or drift towards thinking of yourself for more than a few seconds you'll be accused of being selfish. It also seems to be this invisible electronic fence that holds women back from considering all men of all ethnicities and races as viable partners. We're missing out because other women don't hesitate to date and marry "our" men. Nor do "our" men hesitate to chase after them in the most disrespectful manner and abandon us. The "us" would be our selves and any offspring we may produce with them as well. 

On the other hand, there's another phrase that's become popular (and this falls along class lines) "ni**ers ain't worth sh*t" in referring to Black males. Wow..and wow. So it's either become a mule or do everything yourself because you can't possibly rely on a Black man for anything. And keep to yourself and be lonely. This isn't about the abilities of men based on race, it's about choosing to be with a quality man that can pull his own weight in the world so you won't have to. It's about finding the man who values you and proves it by his actions. Neither of the extremes will work. Yet Harvey posits we should think like a man. It's total BS. I can't abide by that at all. 

Actually...let me revise that slightly. I'm dropping in a quote from Roslyn's article:
Male loyalty is sketchy at best. They are first loyal to themselves, then to other men, then to the woman they sleep with. (I'm adding the possibility of looking out for a daughter.) If you’re not in one of those categories, in all likelihood, you fall far down in the hierarchy. Further, you have to keep in mind that even if he’s not sleeping with you, most men are at least considering the possibility that you might be a good back-up
During the show segments Oprah had mostly Black women on. The first female guest had a long list but the first thing on it was her ideal man had to be African-American. So I'm guessing a foreign Black male is out of the question let alone seeking out other races. Right there she's reduced her chances of finding a husband by 98%. Black women outnumber Black men 3-1. 70% of us are single. Then if you add any kind of standards whatsoever that percentage decreases, plus she's in her 30's. Harvey did ask her if she was willing to be everything on her list that she wants a man to be? That I will agree with. She doesn't just need advice - she needs a reality check. They were joking with her about how she was seeking out Jesus incarnate for a husband. Unless you believe the Da Vinci code then that wouldn't even be possible then...or now! 
The question I'd be asking is:  You have to have the standards, but how do you know what those standards are? How do Black women in particular clear their minds of the indoctrination tactics fed to BW that keep them tethered in the barn and get free of them?
Another guest who is clearly delusional claims she won’t have intercourse or give oral sex for “religious” purposes but she receives oral sex from the men she’s dating because “they offer”. They’re offering because they’re hoping to convince her to go all the way. Plus I’d go so far as to say she’s setting herself up to get raped by one of them one of these days. There are just some things you don’t play around with. Maybe if you’re 18 and experimenting but this woman looked as if she was at least 25. I wouldn’t be testing those boundaries. “What religion?” Steve asked because he wanted go to her church. He was making jokes the entire show which only shows how serious he isn't.

Another guest discovered her boyfriend of 4 years had been cheating on her with scores of other women when she found a hidden cellphone. They were praising her for ending the relationship but nobody asked the obvious question: Why was she dating a guy for 4 years? Why did she consider her relationship a "commitment" when it was a guy who was just her boyfriend? Not to mention the fact that she let him move into her place. I'd love to know if she was paying all the bills, too? Then it went from bad to worse. She said she called the most frequently used number on the phone. The other woman claimed to have not been in love the guy – but that woman chose to spend 7 years with the guy. Who was she kidding?
This just proves a lot of us just don’t know what to look for and how to discern who quality men are. We don't set adequate standards. All of the women featured were attractive and intelligent. We have our own unresolved emotional issues that get in the way. We also have to do our part for attracting the type of men we claim we want. I felt as if the onus placed was too much at the disposal of the female guests as if some sort of blame game argument could be attached later. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Since the audience was multi-racial and they threw in one white woman who was insecure about her age a lot of useful information that Black women need specifically wasn’t discussed.
Plus this was to sell a book and provide entertainment. If Oprah was seriously going to give women advice it should have been a "break out the notebooks" and put on your thinking caps show. When Steve kept making funny faces and Oprah was laughing at his responses when women asked specifics about sexual activity and grooming I found myself getting very frustrated. It wasn't in the same way I feel the Tyra Show lacks depth but it was the right subject with the wrong person.  In fact, he was about to make a comment about his wife and the women in the audience indicated that he should shut up. See…he’s not that wise! 

They closed out the show with these 5 questions a woman should ask a man she's dating. Oh I guess I should mention you can check out chapter information here. One thing he did say that I totally agree with is waiting at least 90 days before engaging in any physical intimacy, but this isn't anything new. Of course not all women will want to adhere to that but again, you have to decide if you're looking for fun or if you're looking for a husband and act accordingly:

Ask the man about his -  
1. short term goals
2. long term goals
3. views on relationships
4. what he thinks about you
5. what he feels about you 

We want to be able to bake the cake, eat it and fat flush the calories away. Just remember: there's always consequences for our choices. So we should boldly go forth..and engage!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Link Time

Howard Dean Gets A Gig - It's about time we get to hear from him. I still don't accept the excuse about not meshing or whatever excuse was used to justify Dean not being part of the Obama administration. Not when the agitators and combatants got positions and not when others with questionable ties and loyalties remain. Not when highly paid and wealthy officials decide certain laws are like a cafeteria menu that they can pick and choose which ones to follow are supported by the President. Something in the milk ain't clean.

African Nations Exchange White Oppressors for Asian Ones - By barring the Dalai Lama from entering South Africa for China approval. Meanwhile China is taking resources just as quickly as the Europeans did. You'd think some of these (mis)leaders would review a page from history and get a clue...but that seems to be asking too much!  

History of Violence in Oakland: Will This Serve As A Wakeup Call to Blacks? Probably not the ones it needs to. While people are still raw about the Oscar Grant III shooting, some lunatic killed 4 police officers at a traffic stop this past weekend. What are the odds of the cops stopping to ask questions instead of shooting first NOW? It's not all about white racism. When will people stop harboring the criminals and ex-cons in their neighborhoods and stop making excuses for their behavior? They're not all "babies" or "misunderstood" or "otherwise good people". 

Continuing with this conversation, the Mehserle preliminary hearing has been postponed by the judge. It feels like every accommodation to avoid prosecution of the former transit cop will be made under the guise of "justice". 

If you're not using Twitter - STOP - and join now! I'm telling you it opens up your entire network and social circle in a way you'd never imagine. We need more people of color involved in technology ventures and you can't do that if you're not even in the loop. 

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tyra Did Her Own Show on Teen Dating Violence

Phew I didn't have anything to record this with but it was more harrowing than the Oprah episode from last week. I see parallels in how there's been a lot of social gains but other core basics have been ignored and a lot of social ills have emerged more virulent than ever. Apparently the dating violence rate has nearly doubled in the past decade. The Oprah episode with Robin Givens and Kevin Powell was pre-empted in my market on Thursday for March Madness so I hope it repeats again soon. This Tyra episode scared me quite frankly.

She had several teen girls on who talked about being punched, strangled, choked and hit with objects. She featured one couple who are 17 and 18 with a toddler where the male thinks he's stone cold and didn't want to take any responsibility for his actions. He'd punched his girlfriend at least 4 times and choked her, causing her to black out. So Tyra thanked him for sitting on the panel but referred to him as a kid. Oh well, I'm not a medical professional but that's just bunk! At 18 you can serve in the military and go to prison, okay. He isn't a baby - he has a baby! 

Men who batter look to women to make them feel good and increase their self-esteem. So basically they feel vulnerable and perhaps defeated in other parts of their lives and take it out on someone they think is weaker. So this guy kept denying he felt powerless, he claims he feels nothing that battering is not trying to be manly. So the therapist who spoke was trying to offer critique and he was blowing her off. So what are the odds this guy will admit he's abusive, get help, do the work necessary and break the cycle? I'm sorry but I'm not holding my breath.

Tyra offered both teens therapy and the young woman being victimized said she'd go. I want to have some amount of sympathy but I'm more inclined to tell her to run and not look back. Don't try to find any excuses to stay with someone who could kill her. Her mother was on the panel and mentioned how her grandchild's demeanor has changed because of what's he's been exposed to. Hello!!!!

Oh..I just did a Youtube search and this aired last week in certain markets so here's the video. Our young women really need help! The flippant attitude from some in the audience was beyond belief.

The main young woman featured said she hopes she'll stay away. She also mentions that she was financially supporting her deadbeat, lowlife, gutter boyfriend. I won't be able to watch these segments again for a long time. I suspect this young woman will end up dead and if not she is extremely lucky, but I can't say her choices so far indicate that she'll have a quality life.

I don't know what to say. I see patterns that these women have been sexualized at a young age, have babies, may still be in high school and have a lot of burdens placed on them quite frankly that I'd find challenging and I'm a decade older. I just feel like they've been failed by the people around them. As for Tyra last remark about there being "two sides to every story" that sounded like a legal caveat. I say put these "tough" guys in prison for a few days since they think they're so tough. Let them experience some of what they've dished out and they'll see how tough they really are! Then offer some that *may* have remorse therapy and a chance at restitution with a no violation clause. I think some of these "men" are beyond redemption though and even at 18 it may be too late for some have already killed their girlfriends. Every young man doesn't act this way and I think we may want to be lenient when it would be a mistake to do so. 

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First You Get Jacked For Your Bags - Now It's For What's In 'Em

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I read this and asked myself if it was April Fool's Day yet, but alas it's not. Apparently there was a sting operation that went down where airline contractors where stealing items out of our checked bags. This went down in St. Louis and they claim it was only one airline, but how much do you want to bet this sort of thing has happened all over the country with all of those suckers? I've recalled having things missing from bags before and the airline liability is a joke! Plus we can't lock our bags without giving them the keys. These are supposed to be highly scrutinized airline employees who have to pass a background/criminal check, but they're stealing?!

See this is why I'm very suspicious of the TSA. We have practically no rights when we "decide" to travel by air. Our bodies are scanned, we have to take off our shoes and they can rifle through all of our most intimate belongings all in the name of "safety". Sounds like a police state to me!

Then to add insult to injury the cheapo airlines - who lobby the government by the way - have stolen our beverages, our food, our kneecap and elbow space and inching closer to our sanity and they wonder why people don't want to fly. Our flights are bumped, the planes aren't being maintained on schedule and the customer service is negligible at best. Unless you're a First Class flier - then you're ok. See how paying more nets you basic hospitality but only accounts for a portion of the airlines' profits while the masses in Coach who are supporting the entire operation get treated like gum on the bottom of their shoe?

I actually was stopped by one of those hacks who measured my carry-on bag for American Airlines and claimed it was too bulky and it had to be checked. They did it to 10 other people. Nobody's going to convince me these airlines aren't involved in some sort of racket - especially when they offer $10 sandwiches on a 5.5 hour flight and not so much as a peanut to tide you over.

Since Amtrak's been severely handicapped for years and we're so ass-backwards in the United States there's no high-speed affordable rail like the TGV in Europe. In fact a lot of the rail tracks that did exist were deliberately torn up thanks to the oil companies working in collusion with the automakers and the government building the highways and ordering interstate traffic. Now that it just costs so darn much they want to rethink it. The roads are crumbling and a proposed bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles has a $10B pricetag. I mean I'm all for the train but that's a lot of money you know. 

I question the innovation of those that wanted to be fuel efficient and have an alternative years ago, from electric car technology to using cooking oil as a gas replacement but were thwarted in favor of short term gains and profits for a few. I also want to know when the airlines are going to held accountable for their government bailouts and corporate welfare using tax payer money when they're gouging us. If AIG can be taken to task why not them? I want all of my checked bag fees refunded via the tax return and meal credits. Is that too much to ask?

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tori Amos Debuts New Material at SXSW

This was the one year I really wish I had gone to SXSW and could've paid cash for it. I know you can volunteer but already heard from some locals the experience isn't pleasant. So I guess I didn't want to go that much. There were some great panels including Blacks in Tech, and participants including Racialicious, Rob Fields and others. Now SXSW has expanded into Film and Interactive sessions, but it's still the music that brings all the people in the yard. 

This year drew some big names to the festival including one Tori Amos. Usually established artists at her level don't go back to play these events but she was never one to follow convention anyway. Plus, picking up some new fans never hurts. She performed three songs from her 10th studio release "Abnormally Attracted to Sin", which will be out May 19th - hey that's my mom's birthday!  Do you think mom would be mad if I bought her the CD and burned a copy for myself?! Ha! 

Now before some of you get either excited or riled-up by the title alone you should read her autobiography, Piece By Piece where she goes into detail about her religious upbringing (her dad's a minister) and some of her views. Amos isn't adverse to controversy - after all she posed with a piglet clutched to her chest so that it appeared she was suckling it! She even took on Enimen back in the day (see where his career went) for his misogyny, stating people would dance to songs where there was "blood on their sneakers" and not even notice. 

I am unabashed fan, even if I sometimes feel she's slipped us a pill on the way down the musical rabbit hole. She has a child and husband to attend to and doesn't tour as much as she used to but certain cities she's known to play multiple gigs and she usually does a completely different set. This does all but guarantee the need to see her more than once. Now the last time she came to San Francisco area she played 3 nights at Oakland's Paramount Theatre where the seats are spacious and cushy and the acoustics are excellent. 

I didn't have a blog then for I most likely would have written a scathing review about how pissed I was that there was a camera crew shooting her DVD and the dolly went back and forth every 30 seconds obstructing our view. It's not like there was any advanced warning about it and the shows were sold out. Now that was an otherwise glaring blip on usually excellent shows.

I met Tori in London in 2003. Live and in person in her very warm dressing room and she referred to me as a "beautiful mocha presence". Honestly only Tori could get away with saying something like that. There's a story involved in how I met somebody milling about the venue entrance before the show who knew somebody who worked for Tori and offered to let us backstage past her (intimidating) bodyguard to meet her. She was absolutely lovely and gracious and it was totally unexpected. I don't have the pictures because the other person was a jealous lizard who kept them all!! It wasn't my camera used as it was unexpected. I have the memories though as well as the encouraging words of a woman who's fought to maintain a career in a less and less forgiving industry where they want fluff over substance. I also know to bring a camera with me at all times now - or use the cell phone!

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Have You Checked Out Dhani Tackles the Globe?

Well it's about time we get to see a Travel Channel show with Black people! We do go places you know. I would love to see a show with a regular person versus an NFL star but this is a good start. If we watch the show and petition the network for more shows like this we will. I wish more people would take advantage of the chance to leave the US and see the world while completing their education. There are high school and college exchange programs and if you search there are affordable ones. There are also work exchange programs so you can earn a loonie, peso, euro or pound while you're at it. Plus there's quite a few scholarships available. I wrote an essay and got 1/3 of my expenses covered with it. Financial aid took care of the rest. You don't have to be middle class or wealthy to do it - you just have to want it! Or have someone point out the huge growth potential involved in participating. Here's one of the trailers: 

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Hard To Believe People Still Think Like This

Via the UK Guardian:
Iris Robinson, the Democratic Unionist MP who referred to homosexuality as an abomination, will not be prosecuted after official complaints were made to the police over her remarks.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland confirmed today it was not proceeding with an investigation into the MP's comments.

Robinson, who is married to Northern Ireland's first minister, Peter Robinson, also said gay people could be "cured" of their homosexuality by psychotherapy.
Oh really? Haven't we already put that whole idea to rest in the 1970's when psychiatric associations declassified it as an illness? I mean labeling it a sickness allowed for all sorts of legal discrimination. It wasn't used in the way addiction is labeled a disease mind you. Though she won't face any legal ramifications, hopefully she will face public scorn that will give her pause. 

As unpleasant as her statements may be I think it's great when people share their inner most thoughts uncensored. We need to know what people really think instead of hiding behind this fake political correctness crap. We need to know who our enemies are and it's much easier to rally against or monitor them when they make themselves known so clearly. Just some food for thought.

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Old School Friday

This week's meme is songs with the word "Baby" in the title. I immediately thought of TLC. They had some really cool videos but they could also perform live, hence the footage from their Apollo appearance.

You thought I was done, didn't you. I had to include the song that TLC famously turned down which spawned the career of one Britney Spears. Ok but I'm not showing her - Travis does an interesting cover though. Have a great weekend!

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Highlights from PBO on Leno

I would've posted the full interview but all personal videos have been pulled from Youtube over a copyright infringement flag. Mind you the news organizations are able to rerun portions to their hearts content, but the little people...not so much! Here's the Twitter stream of messages about the interview - and I just found out the full interview is available on NBC's website. Very clever of them to direct the traffic back to their site, eh?

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Condi Rice Continuing Her Lap Dance of Lies for Bush

Dr. Rice was the solo guest on Rose's show. She is articulate, intelligent and cunning. I'm certain she has many stories to tell - including a promised book about her parents that I'd definitely read. She is an anomaly and would be considered atypical to the usual portrayals of Black women people are used to seeing. She is her own person and doesn't give a damn what any of us think of her. 

For all of her accomplishments she is still stumping for the Bush administration and is a liar liar pants on fire about the events surrounding 9/11 and the takeover of Iraq. I don't care how well she looks as the lies spill from her ruby painted lips, she is still an agent for chaos. The irony is of course her rise in the Republican party would not have been duplicated had she been a Democrat. At least I don't think so. That fact is mostly bitter with little sweetness. She is certainly not unique in that many other minions of Bush did his bidding and the Democrats have their hands just as dirty for rubber-stamping everything. 

It's just Dr. Rice doesn't strike me as someone who does things she doesn't want to do - not unless it will benefit her long term goals. She's no pushover. She supports education across class structures and I hope to find some common ground where other women and even some Black women would be able to work with her. Why? She's a formidable ally. We need those that can hang tough when the rubber meets the road. So here's the interview. Take your medicine in small doses if you must, but I think this is a something to watch all the same.

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