Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'll Be Sweeter The Next Time

At a time when the nation is facing the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the Republicans are up against the most naturally talented politician in the last 100 years, they send up a 37 year-old neophyte.

Jindal was an embarrassment. Maybe the Republicans should send Michael Steele the next time. Steele would regurgitate the same old republican dogma, but at least he would lay it to rap.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The New York Post Does Not Care

Yes, the cartoon is racist. And believe me the New York Post does not give a damn that Al Sharpton or anyone else is mad. They knew the cartoon was racist. And, they knew it would create a lot of publicity. And, other than that, for "The Post," it was a good day.

I am a New Yorker. To be a New Yorker you simply have to move there, rent or buy a closet for a lot of money, and learn how to ride the subway. Part of the trip of living in New York is reading the New York Post. Even the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan, intellectual New Yorker reads "The Post."

The only way to deal with the hassle of riding a train everyday is to read "The Post." "The Post" plays to its readers worst instincts. It is racist, voyeristic, sometimes funny, and devoid of any journalistic integrity. And most importantly, it is written at a fifth-grade level. New Yorkers read it to avoid making eye contact with the homeless panhandler who is dancing, singing, or reciting poetry on the train for his next high.

"The Post's" sole mission is to collect 50 cents from as many readers as possible, every day. And they will peddle any shit and call it news. So go on, have deep conversations about the historical linkage of people-of-color and their relation to monkeys, or is it chimpanzees?. Rupert Murdoch don't care. He just got a few hundred thousand more people to "read" "The Post." Mission accomplished.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Appoint A 21st Century Earl Warren

Today, the New York Times reported that Chief Justice John Roberts recently stated, in a speech, that every member of the Supreme Court was a former United States Appellate Court Judge and that was a good development. Roberts surmised that judges are more likely to put aside their policy concerns and focus on the law. The fact that the Chief Justice could make such a statement makes you wonder how he became the Chief Justice in the first place. Does it have anything to do with the fact that George Bush appointed him?

Obviously, Roberts has squared away Bush v. Gore, a ruling that any respected legal scholar, of any ideology, has concluded came down to a 5-4 political vote. Roberts has overlooked that his fellow Justices, Scalia and Thomas, set aside decades of conservative ideology, which their whole careers where based on. Scalia and Thomas held the view that the Federal Courts have no right to intervene into pure state issues, yet they suddenly found an equal protection claim in Florida voting precincts, and overruled the Florida Supreme Court which halted vote counting and gave Bush the Presidency. Scalia’s response "Get over it."

As the Times pointed out, even former Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote that a Supreme Court, made up of all judges, was not good for the country. A University of Pennsylvania Law Review study found that there is no supporting data that former judges are more likely to put aside their policy preferences when ruling on a case.

Part of the problem in Washington is that it is run by technocrats who have lived very insular lives. They all went to a few elite institutions. They have, for the most part, worked in Washington (government) or New York (business) – usually moving between both - for most of their careers. This trend cuts across political party and ideology.

Frank Rich, in The New York Times, pointed this out in a recent column,on Barack Obama Team Of Rivals. Rich wrote how LBJ came to, then Speaker Sam Rayburn, bragging on the intellect and talent of JFK’s new cabinet and Rayburn responded "I wish one of them had run for Sheriff." Rich was rightly cautious of Obama's new Team Of Rivals because they all came out of the Washington-New York group think.

Ironically, Obama, other than having graduated from Harvard, is the opposite of most Washington elites. He spent most of his career on the Southside of Chicago and most of his political life as a State Senator. We can all agree he is doing okay.

It is highly likely that Obama will make an appointment to the court sooner, than later. He has indicated that he is looking for the next Earl Warren. It can be argued that Earl Warren is the most important figure of the 20th Century. The Warren Court reshaped race in the country in Brown v. Board of Education; he gave every citizen protection from police misconduct with the Miranda v. Arizona ruling; and he established the principle of one person, one vote in Reynolds vs. Sims.

Earl Warren, for the most part, was a politician. He was a former District Attorney from Sacramento and Governor of California. Warren’s common life with common experiences helped shape his leadership on the court. Warren always considered how the law would impact upon ordinary citizens. To conservatives, he was the anti-Christ. They argue, with some merit, that Warren shaped the law to fit an outcome. However, I don’t think anyone believes that the country would go back to pre- Warren, if it could.

Obama’s first appointment should have a background as a trial lawyer or state court judge. He or she should be someone who, has either represented regular people or had to make rulings that affect their lives, and had to see the look on their faces and families after they ruled. Obama should not appoint some cloistered intellectual who has argued theory his or her whole life. And they ought not to have lived in Washington or New York.

The country has gone over 40 some years without a great liberal voice on the court. It is time to bring some balance back.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ruth, Bonds, Rodgriguez: It's Just A Game

This whole idea that steroids have tainted the game of baseball is ridiculous. First of all, baseball ain't no sacred undertaking - delivered to us by the Gods, as a symbol of the precision of the universe, that epitomizes the ideals of America to the rest of the world - as George Will and Bob Costas would have us believe.

IT IS A GAME. And, a boring game at that.

World peace or the cure for AIDS, or solving the 21st century financial crisis does not rest on whether some juiced-up hitter, knocked a grand slam off another juiced-up pitcher, in front of some drunken fans, who snuck away from work.

Alex Rodriguez’s emotional confession, after he was outed by Sports Illustrated, only fed into the hypocrisy. I find it hard to believe that Costas and other sports personalities did not know that Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were juiced when they were sailing baseballs into the center field bleachers like bullets out of a shotgun at a turkey shoot. They were too busy celebrating that baseball and their livelihood was being saved after the 1994 strike.

Costas and others made Barry Bonds the poster boy for the evil steroid era and Bonds came right out of Hollywood casting for the part. He was surly, rich, spoiled, petulant and even a bit bi-polar. The fact that he was black and told sports writers and fans, who are mostly white, to kiss his ass on a regular basis, made dirtying him up in the Heartland even easier.

The Owners hoped Rodriguez, a baseball savant, would, only in a matter of time, take the home run crown from Bonds and restore the integrity of the game. Now that A-Fraud has been caught, we are now left with Bud Selig's hypocrisy. Selig has announced that he is considering fining Rodriguez.

I must admit that I took far more satisfaction watching Roger Clemens' rise to junkie status than A-Fraud. Clemens had carefully crafted the image of the hardworking, All-American Roy Hobbs, who became a Hall-Of-Famer because of his work ethic. Have you ever noticed that white athletes have work ethic and black athletes have natural talent? Well, Clemens like the rest of baseball, including the owners and sports writers, were dirty.

The game has never been pure. Babe Ruth, who held the home run record for decades, never played against the best athletes of his era. How possibly could his name not have been removed from the record books or attached with the dreaded asterisk "*" that so many sports writers and fans claim should be next to Bond's record. Imagine Larry Bird making a claim to greatness and never having competed against Magic or Jordan.

Most of the major league pitching records were accomplished in the dead-ball era. Does that make CY Young any less of a pitcher?

What is most disturbing about Rodriguez' situation is that he was tested under an agreement between the Union and the Owners to determine the extent of steroids in the game. Those tests were never supposed to be public and no player was ever supposed to be subjected to retribution for testing positive. Well, that did not happen.

Rather than tearing up on ESPN, A-Fraud should have sued the Union and Owners for a clear breach of players’ privacy. Maybe, like Curt Flood a generation before him, he should have put the rights of his fellow players before his own selfish P.R. needs. But then, if he had that kind of integrity, his fellow players would not be calling him A-Fraud in the first place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

State vs. Pookie Johnson AKA "Lil Stuff"

Judge: The Court now call the matter of State vs. Pookie Johnson

District Attorney: Your Honor this is Assistant District Attorney Jason Bourne representing the state and Attorney Larry English representing the defendant. Mr. Johnson is on for sentencing after having been found guilty of intent to distribute two kilos of cocaine.

Judge: Good Morning Mr. English

Mr. English: Good Morning Your Honor

Judge: Mr. English before I pass sentence is there anything you would like to say on behalf of your client

Mr. English: Yes, your Honor. Your Honor the United States Mayor, former Presidential candidate, and former United States Attorney, the Honorable Rudy Giuliani came out in defense of the 20 billion dollar in bonuses that Wall Street bankers paid themselves after taking 350 billion dollars of government money as good for economy of New York

Judge: Mr. English what the hell that got to do with Pookie Johnson’s case

Mr. English: Well your Honor, Mr. Johnson selling hundreds of kilos of cocaine in the depressed inner city has also been good for the economy. Mr. Giuliani rightfully pointed out that Wall Street bankers bonuses fuel the real-estate industry in New York. I mean who else can afford 30 million dollar apartments. Those bonuses are the bedrock of Bergdorf Goodman and other stores along 5th Avenue. The rest of America may be angry, but New Yorker understand, that so goes the bonuses, so goes New York.

And your Honor Mr. Johnson expresses that same entrepreneurial spirit as Citi and Bank Of America. Mr. Johnson proceeds may be illegal like Wall Street, but your honor, he gainfully employs young black males who have been left behind in this global economy, his taste in jewelry and fast cars have been a savior to those industries in these tough economic times. Mr. Johnson has purchased rent houses all over the city, so he is putting affordable houses on the market.

District Attorney: Your Honor, this is unbelievable Mr. Johnson purchased rent houses to hide money

Mr. English: Your Honor our good DA's criticism of Pookie, like our well meaning President criticism of Wall Street bonuses is misguided. As Mr. Giuliani so rightfully pointed out somebody got to help the real-estate market in these tough times. That is exactly what Pookie Johnson has been doing.

Judge: Mr. English have you lost your mind?

Mr. English: No your honor I just think that Mr. Johnson should be given the same consideration as the CEO’s that have raped the public and private coffers and As Mayor Giuliani said..

Court: Mr. English you are an idiot and so is Rudi Giuliani

Mr. English: Yes your honor

Court: Pookie Johnson, I hereby sentence you to 15 years and I suggest that when you get out, you apply your considerable business skills on Wall Street. There stealing is legal. Court dismissed.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Republicans You Can Believe In

The election of Michael Steele to lead the Republican Party was another milestone for African-Americans. Steele has a tough line to walk to reach out to minorities and moderates and not tell Rush Limbuagh to fuck himself. However, it was a statement by the Republican Party that the world has changed. But it also represents a window for African-Americans and other people of color to consider the Republican Party.

The election of Barack Obama has not erased the bad taste of decades of pimping of black people by the Democratic Party. We need competition for our votes.