Monday, April 16, 2007

April 10 - April 16, 2007

April 10, 2007

Imus and Bad Raps

I'm not proud of it, but I admit it. I watch Don Imus in once in a while. Why? Can't say for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with rebellion. Rebellion against what? Rebellion against exactly the kind of hypocritical, hysterical nonsense we are being forced to witness right now.

In case you are just now emerging from a coma, last week Imus put both feet in his foul mouth and did a little dance. He called the Rutgers women's basketball team a bunch of “nappy-haired hoes.”

His bad -- VERY bad. He should not have said it. He apologized, as well he should. And, as is so in-vogue these days when a celeb or politician gets caught being human and/or just plain stupid, he immediately embarked on a “Great American Apology Tour.” Pretty soon he'll be in a town near you stopping people on the street to ask their forgiveness. (If that doesn't work he'll likey have to check himself into rehab.)

But give me a break. Look who's leading the charge against Imus – Al (Tawana Brawley) Sharpton and Rev. Jesse (Hymietown) Jackson. Both men are demanding that NBC fire Imus for his racial gaff.

But maybe white-boy Don Imus had simply been studying at the feet of the black community's wildly popular rap music sub-culture. Those young ladies from Rutgers did not deserve being called “nappy-haired hoes,” no question about it. But where's the outrage when men of color degrade black women every single minute of every single day in songs heard thumping out of passing car windows and apartments and boom boxes? Lyrics like:

Back in the day, I use to like bitches
But I'll tell you now days, Bitches ain't shit
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wedesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Don't let no girl, no bitch, no faggy nigger get in my way.

("Artist:" Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz -- Album, Crunk Juice

Or howz bout:
Write a little save-a-hoe speech all these fake-ass hoes...
Fake punk-ass bitches...
Do you know what i mean?
Fuckin'em up like this, man...
Short Dog's in the house, bitch!

Bitch, I'm buyin' you an ounce of this game
You better take it and shut the fuck up
Stop runnin' your mouth like a sucka
Cause you's a punk bitch

(“Artist;” Too Short - Album, Short Dog's in the House)

Or this snizzle of a ditty:

You wonda why they call U bitch
You wonda why they call U bitch.
You wonda why they call U bitch
You wonda why they call U bitch.
You wonda why they call U bitch
You wonda why they call U bitch.

In tha locker room
all the homies do is laugh.
High five's cuz anotha nigga
played your ass.

See it's your thang
and you can shake it how you wanna.
Give it up free
or make your money on the corner.

(“Artist:” 2Pac - Album, All Eyez On Me)

Try singing that one to your honey some night and see how romantic she thinks you be.

These self-demonstrably racist and misogynistic rap lyrics are pumped out by rappers, recorded, distributed and sold by companies as big as NBC. Why aren't Sharpton and Jackson et al picketing those companies? Why aren't they demanding the record labels “fire” those foul-mouth artists? Are there two different codes of conduct now? Can black rappers call black women "hoes and bitches" and, by doing so become show business icons, while a white radio host who uses the term “nappy-haired hoes,” during an adlibed comedy monologue must be fired?

Al Sharpton arguably is guilty of doing more to destroy interracial peace and understanding than anyone since David Duke. That would have been back in the late 1980s when a troubled young black woman, Tawana Brawley, then 15, claimed she was raped by six white men, some of them police officers, in the village of Wappingers Falls, New York. Then too it was Rev. Al to the "rescue." The whole thing was a lie. But that didn't matter to Rev. Al. Before he was done he had smeared nearly every white male in the legal system and sheriffs office, accusing them of complicity in the crime. At least one promising legal career was ruined.

Unlike Don Imus, Rev. Sharpton has never apologized for that. Nor has he “resigned.” Nor has Jesse Jackson demanded he be fired.

Look, I'm not defending Imus or racism. On the contrary. Everyone should knock that kind of low-brow discourse off. It's not only not helpful, it's crude, annoying, debasing and stereotype reinforcing.

But if our self-appointed word-sheriffs, Sharpton and Jackson, are really out to clean up Dodge, they should begin where the trash is deepest, and that's in their own community's rap culture, not NBC.

April 5, 2007

Buying Back America

Almost four decades ago Republicans came up with the concept of the “Silent Majority?” Then they claimed it as their own. It turned out they were right. There really was a Silent Majority, and it was tired of politics as usual.

Back then politics as usual was associated with what had become an entrenched Democratic legislative majority. Republicans were able to lay claim to a large pool of voters who, for various reasons – legitimate or otherwise – had turned sour on Democrats. Familiarity really does breed contempt in life and politics.

Ronald Reagan was the first to tap into that discontent, giving rise to that breed of political hermaphrodite known as the “Reagan Democrat.” Then came the 1994 GOP sweep of the House. Total victory arrived with election of George W. Bush in 2000 along with GOP dominance of both houses of Congress.

Ah, but the worm has turned. Now it's the GOP that's in the cross hairs of America's new Silent Majority. And it's not just familiarity that's breeding contempt for GOP governance. It's the lies, the functional incompetence, the deficits, the careless arrogance and disregard for consequences usually reserved for cocaine addicts.

But wait, there's more to this story than just voters turning against the GOP. This new Silent Majority doesn't like old-time machine Democrats either. You know, like the Clinton machine.

How do I know that a new Silent Majority has emerged? Just follow the money.

The top three Democratic Party candidates for President raised $30 million more last quarter than the top three Republican candidates. That's pretty remarkable in itself, since the GOP has always been able to tap the wealth of their corporate and wealthy supporters.

But there's more evidence buried inside those numbers. Barack Obama raised $25 million, of which 100,000 were small ($100 or less) donors. Not corporations, not bundlers, but individual, ordinary voters... members of the new Silent Majority.

Obama's Campaign Takes In $25 Million
He Nearly Matches Clinton, With Twice as Many Donors

Washington Post: Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million for his presidential campaign in the first quarter of the year, nearly matching Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's record-setting total and making it all but certain that Democrats will face a costly and protracted battle for their party's nomination. (Full Story)

Stop and consider for a moment who we are talking about here. We're talking here about a black guy with the strangest name ever associated with the US Presidency. A guy who only just decided to run. A guy up against the well-oiled Clinton machine and it's smarmy money-man, Terry McAuliffe, who twisted every donor arm in Hillary's and Terry's Rolodex to get to that money before Barack did.

While Hillary did beat Obama by $1 million, she (and Terry) had to pull out all the stops to make it happen. She had to tap her biggest and most reliable sources this early hoping that the shear size of her war chest would scare other would-be contributors into jumping on Hillary bandwagon before it's too late. That plan failed. And worse yet for Hillary, those easy sources of hard money have now been tapped, a likely tapped out.

Simply put, Obama's mushrooming grassroots support trumped Clinton's special interest, business as usual machine. It was the first tangible evidence of the new Silent Majority, and it caught the attention of not just his would-be GOP opponents, but Obama's Democratic opponents as well.

Which brings me to my point. Are you a latent member of this new Silent Majority? Are you among those of us out here who are just plain sick of watching big-money special interests call the tune election in and election out?

If so join those 100,000 who already do so for Obama, get your checkbook out and start firing back.

Because the real message in Obama's $25 million is that little money really can beat big money -- when little money donors join forces they become big money. And when enough of small donors join forces behind a single candidate they become the biggest money.

And here's the sweetest part of the tale. This is one of those rare moments when all those politicians who spent decades pandering to big money donors with tax cuts, regulatory and environmental free passes, one-sided trade deals etc, get hoisted on their own petards. Because, you see, the wealth gap has widened over the past decade thanks to all this big-business favoritism. The result on the ground have been that fewer and fewer Americans feel they have a stake in America's prosperity. The rich got a lot richer, the poor got poorer and America's once upwardly mobile middle class discovered someone had pull up the ladder to next level.

The net result -- the number rich now represent as smaller number of donors than the now expanded pool of “non-rich,” ordinary folk. The GOP created the situation and now they are going to pay dearly for it. The new Silent Majority understands it has been shut out of game, and American workers have seen their dream of upward mobility dashed by outsourcing and so-called “free trade” deals. They are not amused and they now outnumber well-heeled donors by the widest margin since just before the Great Depression of the 1930s.

That's the new Silent Majority. And, while feeling the stress of over a decade of GOP rule, they still have credit cards and checking accounts. While they may not be able to afford anything like the $2300 maximum individual contributions, they can write $25, $50 and $100 checks. And that's just what they did last quarter for Barack Obama.

Now we enter the second phase of the march towards November 2008. The new quarter has begun, ending on June 31. Hillary and Barack will be back out there shaking the money tree. If Barack can raise more money than Hillary during the next quarter -- and I believe he can -- it could spell the beginning of the end of the potentially catastrophic Hillary Clinton candidacy. And, as Martha would say, “that's a good thing.” A very good thing.

I've made no secret of my support for Obama. My money has been on this remarkable young fellow since the first day I heard him speak. There is something real there, real and good. Also America needs a fresh face, fresh ideas, a fresh start. In all my six decades I cannot recall a time when this country was in a more dire state.

Take a moment and try to imagine an Obama presidency. Imagine Barack and First lady Michelle Obama in the White House. Both accomplished as professionals, attractive as individuals and yes, “articulate.” Imagine the picture a black man and woman in the US White House – and this time not pouring coffee at state dinners, but running the America. Imagine that. What more could send the message to the world that America is back – the real America – the good old E Pluribus Unum America. Our America – the one we had before the Neo-con/neo-fascists stole it and had their way with Her.

So imagine that. Then grab your checkbook or credit card and join those of us who are trying to buy our country back. I too wish it were not so, that politics was first about ideas and only second about money. But the Supreme Court has ruled that money is equal to speech in politics so, as the lottery folks like to say, “you can't win if you don't play. It's been said before that “money doesn't talk, it swears.” Okay, if that's the way they want it, then let's swear like sailors. Tell Hillary and the other big-money sycophants to f—k off. Then, come the general election, send the same message to Republican candidates.

But for now, just write a check to Obama. Be a small-money donor for big change. We can do it. Together we can buy our country back. Imagine that.