Monday, April 30, 2007

Israeli Leaders Admit Lebanon War Was a 'Failure in Judgement'

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is under fire from Israeli leaders who have concluded he took them to war with Lebanon "hastily" and without a solid plan.

From the BBC:

Retired judge Eliahu Winograd presented the findings of the six-month investigation at a news conference.

He said the decision to launch the war without a well thought-out plan showed "a severe failure in judgment, responsibility and caution".

The aims of the war - to crush Hezbollah and force it to hand back two Israeli troops captured in a deadly cross-border raid - were "overly ambitious and impossible to achieve", Mr Winograd said.

Some 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the 34-day conflict, while the two captured soldiers remain in captivity.

Israel was almost universally criticized for the invasion, though some right-wing observers still defend the action. US officials, like former UN ambassador John Bolton, rushed additional weapons to the Israeli army, blocked an attempted cease fire and prolonged the conflict. For their part, those US officials say they are "damned proud of what they did".

By admitting that misconduct and failures in judgement occured, the Israeli government takes a definitive first step toward correcting the errors of the attack on Lebanon.

Wouldn't it be nice if the US learned something from Israel here?

Bill Clinton, Barry Sanders and the Future of the NAACP

Originally posted by Nadir at


Billed as the biggest sit down dinner in the world, the 52nd Annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner attracted 10,000 to Detroit’s Cobo Hall on April 29. Dinner itself was unremarkable. (Reports confirm that each entree - cajun beef, some unidentified fish or a mushroom pasta - was equally mediocre.)

What was most important about this dinner though was the guest list. The governor, both of Michigan’s US senators, several congress members, the mayor and other public officials, business and union leaders, entrepreneurs and preachers all joined grassroots activists to honor and support the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

During the three and a half hour event, Lifetime Achievement awards were given to Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, attorney and politician Joel Ferguson and former NAACP head Ernest Lofton. But the main attraction was the keynote address from the man described by several of the night’s speakers as “our president”, William Jefferson Clinton.

In spite of the evidence that his administration wasn’t very good for African America, Black folks love Bill Clinton. Forget Barack Obama’s potential ascension to the Oval Office in 2008. The title “first Black President” has already been bestowed on the very light-skinned former governor of Arkansas.

History shows that more Black men were incarcerated, the job-stealing NAFTA agreement was signed, and an asprin factory in Sudan was bombed all during Clinton’s presidency. He continued Bush Sr.’s war against Iraq, which set up Bush Jr.’s invasion. He planned the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taleban before 9/11, but couldn’t secure the basing rights in Turkistan and Uzbekistan needed to carry it out. Still he is loved and missed as leader of the free world.

It’s unfair to compare Clinton to Bush Jr. America’s worst presidents - James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover - look like geniuses next to Dubya.

Last Chocolate City contributor Tommy Gibbs uses a Detroit sports analogy to explain America’s love for Slick Willie. All US presidents are like the Detroit Lions. They suck. There may be some promise during the pre-season (the campaign), and you root for them because they are the home team, but when it comes down to it, they are always terrible.

According to Tommy Gibbs, Bill Clinton is the Barry Sanders-era Detroit Lions. The team itself was still terrible, but they were watchable because at any moment Barry might break one of those spectacular runs that made you forget how bad the rest of the team was.

This is Bill Clinton. He could sell blocks of ice in the Arctic and salt water at the Dead Sea. Clinton often gets credit for the econmic boom that occured during his tenure, and let’s face it, he’s an intelligent and likeable guy. You gotta love him, no matter what his record looks like. Especially when compared to the idiot who is in the office now.

Bill Clinton did not disappoint his many admirers at the Fight for Freedom dinner. After several lengthy speeches had lulled the crowd into a haze, Clinton was brief, witty and relevant. This wasn’t a Hillary campaign speech, as many of us expected. Clinton listed three initiatives that he wanted Detroit’s NAACP to focus on for the future.

1. Fight the scourge of predatory lending. According to the former president, payday loan establishments outnumber McDonald’s franchises in the US. “This economy of ours has been great for me and for several of you, but it’s not been such a good deal for a lot of people,” he said. “More people are working and losing their family’s health insurance. More people are working and falling below the poverty line.”

2. Work to reduce diabetes and obesity. “The next president and Congress can give you quality, affordable health care,” Clinton said. “But in ten years we’ll be right where we are now, if we don’t do something about the rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes among our children, it is threatening our future.” Clinton remarked that his outlook on life was changed after he nearly died. Last year, the former president underwent heart surgery. He blamed his heart disease on his life-long love of Southern cooking.

3. After a visit to Tech Town, Clinton urged the NAACP to support Governor Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in their efforts to create Michigan jobs centered around energy efficiency and a greener America. Clinton’s point was that you can’t outsource window replacement or the laying of sod on a roof in and effort to keep the building cooler.

The NAACP has been struggling for many years, with stagnant membership, leadership controversies and questions about the organization’s relevance. Many argue that the 98 year-old civil rights group is obsolete. Like America, the NAACP is facing a crisis of leadership and is at a crossroads in its history.

Bill Clinton reminded the group that there is still much work to be done, and as a good leader should, he offered guidance and direction. Hillary’s campaign for the presidency is fueled by Bill’s energy and the promise of his return to the White House. Maybe Matt Millen and The Detroit Lions should pay Clinton to come and speak to the players and the administration. If nothing else, he would make them feel better about losing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bush, Gonzales Attorney Firings Suppressed the Black Vote

Originally posted by Nadir at

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refuses to step down over the politically motivated firing of eight US attorneys. His boss, President George W. Bush, continues to support Gonzo despite bipartisan calls for his ouster. However, new information about the attorney firings may take on greater relevance in a post-Don Imus world.

Reports have surfaced
that at least two attorneys in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were fired because they failed to file charges that would have helped disenfranchise Black voters.

From Democracy Now:

Former Justice Department attorneys have publicly accused the Bush administration of politicizing the department’s Civil Rights Division which was formed 50 years ago to protect the voting rights of African-Americans. According to a recent report by the McClatchy newspapers, the Bush administration has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates.

The administration did this in part by alleging widespread election fraud in largely Democratic areas and to push new voter ID rules. Civil rights advocates contend that the administration’s policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats.

Let’s not forget that Bush emerged the victor in two highly contested elections where Black voter disenfranchisment was a key strategy. These new charges offer evidence that this practice has continued.

The chorus of voices that forced Don Imus’s firing over racist and sexist remarks should rise up for another refrain. Gonzales should also be fired, and investigations into voter fraud and misconduct by the Bush administration should commence immediately.

If all of these civil rights leaders, and journalists can work so hard to get a talk show host fired, certainly they can put just as much effort into firing the attorney general, the president’s chief advisor and the president himself for a conspiracy to suppress the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Black Americans.

Democracy Now

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Cheney

Cynthia McKinney introduced articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice before she left Congress. No member of the House of Representatives picked up the baton in the new session. Until now...

Answering those critics who say, "If you impeach Bush, we'll end up with President Cheney", presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced articles of impeachment against Cheney first. Now it's up to us to pressure our congress members to support Cheney's impeachment. Maybe we can dismantle this embarassing and destructive regime one brick at a time.

Here is the transcript of Kucinich's press conference courtesy of the Washington Post:

REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH, D-OHIO: Thank you very much for being here.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.

These words from the Declaration of Independence are instructive at this moment. Because not only whenever any form of government, but whenever any government official becomes destructive of the founding purposes, that official or those officials must be held accountable.

Because I believe the vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation. Today, I have introduced House Resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment Relating to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. I do so in defense of the rights of the American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful.

It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers of war against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war, again based on false pretenses.

Let me cite from the articles of impeachment that were introduced this afternoon, Article I, that Richard Cheney had purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States armed forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security.

That despite all evidence to the contrary, the vice president actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

That preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the vice president was fully informed that no legitimate evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The vice president pressured the intelligence community to change their findings to enable the deception of the citizens and the Congress of the United States.

That in this the vice president subverted the national security interests of the United States by setting the stage for the loss of more than 3,300 United States service members and the loss of 650,000 Iraqi citizens since the United States invasion; the loss of approximately $500 billion in war costs, which has increased our federal debt; the loss of military readiness within the United States armed services, through an overextension and lack of training and lack of equipment; and the loss of United States credibility in the world affairs and decades of likely blowback created by the invasion of Iraq.

That with respect to Article II, that Richard Cheney manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and Al Qaida in order to justify the use of United States armed forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security.

And that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the vice president actively and systematically sought to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and Al Qaida.

That preceding to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the vice president was fully informed that no credible evidence existed of a working relationship between Iraq and Al Qaida, a fact articulated in several official documents.

With respect to Article III, that in his conduct while vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran, absent any real threat to the United States, and has done so with the United States's proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security interests of the United States.

That despite no evidence that Iran has the intention or the capability of attacking the United States, and despite the turmoil created by the United States's invasion of Iraq, the vice president has openly threatened aggression against Iran.

Furthermore, I point out in the articles that Article VI of the United States Constitution states, and I quote, "This Constitution and the laws of the United States shall be made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land. Any provision of an international treaty ratified by the United States becomes the law of the United States."

The United States is signatory to the U.N. Charter, a treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the United Nations Charter states, and I quote, "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

The articles conclude by pointing out that the vice president's deception upon the citizens and the Congress of the United States that enabled the failed United States invasion of Iraq forcibly altered the rules of diplomacy so that the vice president recent belligerent actions toward Iran are destabilizing and counterproductive to the national security of the United States of America.

These articles of impeachment are not brought forth lightly. I've carefully weighed the options available to members of Congress and found this path the path that is the most important to take.

The justifications used to lead our nation to war have unquestionably been disproved. Brave soldiers and innocent civilians have lost their lives in a war the United States should never have initiated. The weight of the lies used to lead us into war has grown heavier with each death. Now is the time for Congress to examine the actions that led us into this war, just as we must work to bring the troops home. This resolution is a very serious matter, and I will urge the Committee on Judiciary to investigate and carefully consider this resolution.

At this time, I'm happy to take any of your questions.

QUESTION: Congressman, at this point do you have any other -- any fellow members support this?

KUCINICH: At this very moment, the resolution is being transmitted to members of Congress. Because this resolution is so weighty in its import, it's going to be important for members of Congress to have sufficient time to study the articles. This is unlike any other type of legislation or resolution. This is not something that you can ask anyone to make a snap judgment on. It took me a while to come to this point. And I would expect that members of Congress, given the opportunity to review these articles, will be able to come to a conclusion consistent with their own concerns and the concerns of their constituents.

QUESTION: But at this point, you stand alone, at this point?

KUCINICH: At this point, I believe that I stand with millions of Americans who have expressed concern through their state legislatures, through petitions to Congress, through contact with their members of Congress, that something has to be done to reclaim our country's goodness, to reclaim a government which the American people want to be honest, want to be just.

And so I do not stand alone. I have multitudes of people backing this.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Chairman Conyers to look at this?

KUCINICH: I will discuss this with Chairman Conyers, now that this has been introduced, and I will ask for his consideration. And I will communicate this to all members of the House and ask them to give it the kind of thoughtful consideration that it deserves.

KUCINICH: I might point out that -- that when you read the annotations here, you will see that everything that has been said in these articles has been carefully documented. In fact, I would imagine that some of you have even reported some of the statements, although perhaps the statements have not been challenged in this way until now.


KUCINICH: The question relates to why I'm bringing the articles of impeachment against Mr. Cheney, and not Mr. Bush. Is that it?

QUESTION: Why solely Mr. Cheney?

KUCINICH: Well, there's a practical reason here. And the practical reason is -- first of all, I want to say that each and every charge against Mr. Cheney relates to his conduct or misconduct in office.

Now, with respect to the president. I think that it's very important that we start with Mr. Cheney. Because if we were to start with the president and pursue articles of impeachment, Mr. Cheney would then become president.

It's significant and responsible to start in this way, because if the same charges would relate to the president as relate to the vice president, you would then have to go through the constitutional agony of impeaching two presidents consecutively.


KUCINICH: Well, actually -- I'll wait until that truck goes by here.

Let me tell you the difference. The difference today is that this vice president is actively encouraging aggression against Iran. It is urgent that Congress take steps to check the abuse of power. And that's what this impeachment resolution will do.

KUCINICH: There is no comparison whatsoever -- in any way, shape or manner -- between these articles of impeachment and the articles of impeachment which were presented to the House of Representatives in 1999.

In fact, these articles of impeachment are deeply researched, will stand up in a discussion in the House and in the Senate. And I believe that they are -- that they're imperative to bring forth right now because the threat of war against Iran is very real.

And this vice president cannot be permitted to continue to violate both the U.S. Constitution and the U.N. Charter.

QUESTION: Congressman, you're running for president. Are you hoping to get the others (OFF-MIKE)?

KUCINICH: Each person has to -- each person will have to make his or her own decision.

This goes beyond partisan terms. This is being done to defend our constitutional system of government. This is being done so that all those of us who took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States can understand that this impeachment is one valid way in furtherance of the defense of our Constitution.

I don't see this as being distant from anyone, in any capacity in our government. Everyone must reflect on this.

Years from now, people will ask, "Why didn't the United States government respond when they saw this threat to our democracy? Why didn't people inside the government respond?" if this doesn't move forward.

And so this really isn't so much, I might add, about the vice president as it is about who we are as a people. What is it that we stand for? What kind of government do the people of the United States expect and deserve?

KUCINICH: It's not appropriate for the government to lie to people. It is wrong for government officials -- you know, the vice president, in this case -- to take this nation into war based on lies.

And so, again, this becomes a question of who we are as a people. And so this resolution 333, articles of impeachment against the vice president, will let future generations know that no one is above the law of this country and that Congresses have the specific responsibility to provide a check to administrative abuse of power. That's the way the framers set this government up.

QUESTION: Congressman, Speaker Pelosi has said on more than one occasion she's not interested in impeachment.

Have you had conversations with her on this, or some exchange, in your mind...

KUCINICH: No, I have not discussed this with Speaker Pelosi.

I want to stress that this is not a partisan action at all. I have not confided in anyone in the leadership of my party, because I take this action beyond partisanship, beyond party, as an obligation and commitment to my nation and my loyalty to America and my willingness to say, "Stop the lies. Stop the lying. Stop the dying that's occurring in Iraq over lies."

It's imperative that America stand for the truth. It said in the Bible, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Well, let then these articles of impeachment help set our nation free from the lies that have enveloped our governmental process, the lies that are trapping us still in a war in Iraq, the lies that could take us into a war against Iran.

This is about the truth.

QUESTION: Congressman, it's been said by some pundits that you're just introducing these articles to gain publicity for your presidential campaign.

What do you make of those allegations? And do you think this is going to help you out in your race for the presidency?

KUCINICH: These articles are about the conduct of the vice president of the United States, that he deceived the people of the United States to take this country into a war, that he continues to exhibit a pattern of conduct that could take this country into another war based on false pretenses. That's what this is about.

KUCINICH: And I believe that the people of this country are demanding that someone stand up and anyone has been free to do this. Anyone in the House of Representatives could take similar action if they so choose, or could take action against the vice president or the president.

QUESTION: Pelosi says it's not going anywhere.


KUCINICH: Have you talked to her today?

QUESTION: Yes, I did.

KUCINICH: Then I would say I have not talked to her. And as much as I admire the speaker, as much as I voted to support her, I feel that it's my obligation as a member of Congress to introduce these articles of impeachment. And I believe the American people will be the final arbiters as to whether or not these articles should go forward.

QUESTION: Just to follow up, when you say the vice president led us into war, wouldn't that be President Bush? Isn't Cheney working for Bush? (inaudible)

KUCINICH: Well, let's go into Article I. "Mr. Cheney: 'We know they have biological and chemical weapons.'" Said this in a press conference on March 17th, 2002. "We know they're pursuing nuclear weapons." He said this in a press briefing on March 19th, 2002. "He is pursuing, activity pursuing nuclear weapons at this time." He said this on "CNN Late Edition," March 24th. "We know he's got chemical and biological, and we know he's working on nuclear."

"Meet the Press," May 19th: "But we know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." "There is no doubt he's amassing them against our friends, against our allies and against us." August 26th, 2002.

On and on and on. "He has in fact activity and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons." September 8th, 2002, "Meet the Press."

"He has in fact reconstituted nuclear weapons." March 16th, "Meet the Press."

This vice president was a driving force in trying to create the circumstances to justify the United States's attack against Iran. And he not only deceived the people of the United States, and the Congress of the United States, he deceived the American media.

KUCINICH: And so these articles are tightly focused on the conduct of the vice president. And to the extent that they may reflect in some way on the conduct of the president of the United States, is another matter for another day.


KUCINICH: I think the record is very clear, that this vice president used his conduct of office to promote a war and Article I and Article II are very clear that he conducted himself in such a way as to use the power of his office to promote that war.

And so this relates to the vice president. And I think I answered the question earlier about why the vice president and not the president.

Anyone else? I want to thank you very much for being here.

QUESTION: Do you have anyone you would identify as a replacement? If Vice President Cheney were impeached, it would have to be voted on the House and the Senate for confirmation.

KUCINICH: That would be up to President Bush.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pistons Give Magic Bitter Pill

Originally Posted by Nadir at

Former Detroit Pistons Grant Hill and Darko Milicic sound a little bitter.

Both Orlando Magic players recalled bad memories of Detroit upon their return for the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Going back to Florida down two games to none certainly won’t help their dispositions.

Hill was a superstar in his six seasons with the Pistons, but seems to place some blame on the team, its medical staff and Piston fans for aggravating the ankle injury that has hobbled his career since the 2000 playoffs. As the Detroit News reports the forward was tired of being called “soft” so he played on a bad ankle.

Hill had grown weary of people in Detroit perceiving him as a silver-spoon softie. He had grown weary of not getting his team out of the first round of the playoffs. He was determined to play.

There is no medical proof that his play in that game made his injury more severe, but it may have. After several surgeries (most of them to correct the botched first operation), Hill is a great comeback story that is making a contribution to his new team in their quest to upset his former club.

Darko endured the boos of the Palace crowd that once called him “The Human Victory Cigar”. He is finally showing some promise in Orlando after two and a half seasons with the Pistons. He called them “the worst two and a half years of my life”.

But Milicic was under a lot of pressure in Detroit because Joe Dumars passed on Carmello Anthony, Chris Bosch and Dwayne Wade to draft the 7-footer from Serbia. Those other players entered the league as immediate superstars turning their teams around. Two and a half years later, Darko is finally blossoming into an okay second string center.

Hill and Milicic return to Orlando two games behind their old team. Most observers believe the Magic are outmatched and have no chance of beating the Pistons. The arrogant, overconfident Pistons are the ones who offer the Magic a glimmer of hope. Their “sluggish” play has allowed Orlando to stay in the series.

But Detroit was the only team in the NBA this year who had a better record on the road than they did at home. Hopefully they will carry their brooms on the team plane and sweep these dudes. Do it for Grant and Darko, so they don’t have to return to this land of broken dreams and regrets.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Berlinization of Baghdad

Well, this certainly didn't work the first time it was tried in Berlin, Germany during the cold war... but then the Bush administration's failed Iraqi invasion has often ignored the lessons of history, the advice of the miltary and public opinion in the occupied country and here at home.

How in the world could constructing a wall around the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya in Baghdad do anything but increase polarization and violence in the city? It shuts workers off from their jobs, separates family-members, and becomes a living symbol of imperialist dominance of an occupied nation.

The BBC quotes a Baghdad resident:

"The Americans will provoke more trouble with this," one resident, Arkan Saeed, told the BBC. "They're telling us the wall is to protect us from the Shia militia and they're telling the Shia they're protecting them from us.

"But it's the Americans who started all the sectarian violence in the first place."

Isn't this what we saw with the Berlin wall? Aren't we seeing this with the Israeli security fence? Who's bright idea was it to repeat another strategy that has been proven wrong in the past?

One failure after another. When will Congress stop this madness and end this senseless imperial occupation??

Update from AP courtesy of Huffington Post:

Iraq's prime minister said Sunday that he has ordered a halt to the U.S. military construction of a barrier separating a Sunni enclave from surrounding Shiite areas in Baghdad after fierce criticism over the project at home.

The challenge to the U.S. initiative came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began a regional tour to shore up support from mostly Sunni Arab nations for his Shiite-dominated government as sectarian violence persists despite a nearly 10-week-old security crackdown.

"I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop," al-Maliki said during a joint news conference with the secretary-general of the Arab League. "There are other methods to protect neighborhoods, but I should point out that the goal was not to separate, but to protect."

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver declined to comment on whether construction of the wall would stop, saying only that all security measures were constantly under discussion.

"We will coordinate with the Iraqi government and Iraqi commanders in order to establish effective, appropriate security measures," he said.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blame the Corporate Media

Less than one week after Don Imus was fired, only days after Oprah's round table with hip hop, and days after a gunman killed 33 people in Virginia, nothing has changed in the world.

I was listening to commercial radio in Detroit for the first time in months. I'm giving a songwriting workshop at a high school next week, and I wanted to hear what the kids are listening to so I don't seem "out of touch".

I heard the word "ho" bleeped or edited out more than I heard any real lyrics or original ideas. Let's not even talk about how bad the songs are as "songs". Let's just talk about the language and the subject matter. It's ridiculous.

But alas, I know that this is the state of the music industry. As an independent artist, I can't get a song on commercial radio without literally paying THOUSANDS of dollars, but these knuckleheads with NO real lyrical content and NO real musical content get played over and over in Clear Channel's 14 song playlist.

Do I sound bitter?

Some of these cats are real artists. Tupac? Great artist. Ludacris? Great rhymer and entertainer. Justin Timberlake? No comment.

But, it isn't just me. Why don't I hear Lupe Fiasco, who was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy last year, on hip hop radio? Why weren't they playing Nas when he is performing in Detroit tonight? Where is Kweli? Where are Detroiters like Invincible or J Dilla or Amp Fiddler - real artists who are recognized as great artists all over the world?

I'm sorry, kids. I had to change the channel every other song just to keep my brain from going numb. Music is supposed to be food for the soul, but this nonsense is the musical equivalent of pork rinds and kool-aid. It's completely devoid of anything nourishing.

Influential political rapper and entrepreneur Paris wrote a great blog post this week in response to the Imus/Hip Hop controversy that laid it out plain:
Like I said, I'm not calling for censorship, but I am calling for balance. I'm calling for more representation of points of view other than gangsta rap and escapism. More revolutionary voices. More voices of women. Where is the diversity?

Music can only be kept artificially young and artificially dumb for so long before an inevitable backlash ensues, and that's what we're seeing take place now. Overall album sales for the January 1-April 2 period are down 16.6% -- with a 20.5% decline in CD album sales since last year -- and an even greater decline in hip-hop. Since LAST YEAR (and it was already raggedy last year, believe me). We're seeing the industry implode before our eyes.

I heard somebody say recently that in this current era of style over substance Stevie Wonder, Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield and others would never have been signed. Let that sink in for a second. They would never have been signed. Some of the very architects of black music as we know it would have been sidelined too, just as countless others are now, because they wouldn't have fit into white corporate America's cookie-cutter feel-good box of acceptable black behavior and appearance. Same goes for me, Public Enemy (they'll take the Flav, but not the Chuck), Kam, X-Clan, BDP, Wise Intelligent, dead prez, Zion-I, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots,
Blackalicious, Immortal Technique, The Coup, T-K.A.S.H., Michael Franti and a host of others.
Don Imus can't blame rap music for his words because I'm sure he doesn't listen to Tupac or Biggie or Ludacris. But commercial radio does. The corporate music industry does.

There are so many great artists who can't get play on commercial radio. Thank GOD for the Internet right now! I would be going insane! As it is I listen to more old music than anything.

One thing Paris doesn't point out in the excerpt above is that Stevie Wonder, Parliament/Funkadelic, and Curtis Mayfield were all signed to smaller independent labels even back in the 60s. The indies have always lead the way. Even NWA and 2-Live Crew, the pioneers of gangsta and misogynist rap, were on indie labels.

The difference was that in the 60s Curtis Mayfield could get his music played on the radio without paying a mint in payola. George Clinton benefited from radio stations that were largely programmed by the disc jockeys who spun the records. Now corporations determine the playlist from an ivory tower hundreds of miles away from the streets of Detroit or St. Louis or Blacksburg, Virginia.

Those same corporations (Viacom and NBCUniversal) that buckled under a mass national and local advertiser exodus during the Don Imus scandal happen to own major media outlets like MTV, BET, VH-1, Universal Records and countless radio stations. With this "Imus Incident", they have proven that they will bow to pressure from the threat of massive consumer boycotts.

But only days later, the world is still the same. If anything, Detroit's commercial radio stations were playing more offensive music than usual. I'm sure it's the same elsewhere.

Why do we put up with this? In this new economy, the consumer holds the power. It's high time we use that power to change our media for the better or leave it behind.

Support the media outlets that play what you want to hear, and more importantly, don't support the advertisers who spend their money on radio and television networks that continue to feed garbage to the public.

This isn't just a racial issue. It's an economic issue. It's a spiritual issue.

At the heart of it is this: consumers are abandoning the corporate music industry and corporate radio in droves. When those same consumers stop purchasing the products of those advertisers who still support those outlets, those advertisers will demand change.

Until then, there's lots of great music on the Internet and in your local clubs. Turn off the radio.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

And Now a Message from My Sell Phone?

Originally posted by Nadir at

I don’t use my mobile phone to access the Internet, so that may be why I haven’t become inundated with mobile ads yet.

But according to Business Week, if you are surfing on your cellular, you may begin seeing more commercials on your phone. Advertisers are gearing up to use targeted mobile ads in a big way.

Let’s face it. Your phone knows a lot about you - your name, your location, who your friends are. And if you use the web on your phone, it knows even more.

Advertising is about to get very personal. Marketers are taking tools that they already use to track your Internet surfing and are preparing to combine that information with cell-phone customer data that include not just the area where you live but also the street you’re standing on. The aim is to target the exact person who is most likely to buy a product at the precise moment they’re most likely to buy it. It’s the ad industry’s dream come true: a perfect personalized pitch. For privacy advocates, though, this combination of behavioral and geographic targeting is an Orwellian nightmare.

So don’t be surprised if your cell phone pops up with an ad for a carmel machiato right when you walk past a Starbucks.

Business Week

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dept. of Injustice Punks Congress

Raw Story reports that House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers (D-MI) is "disappointed" that the US Justice Department failed to comply with a subpoena that the Congressman issued last week. The subpoena had requested documents about the firing of eight US attorneys.

According to Raw Story, Conyers has threatened that there will be "consequences" because of this failure to comply by Justice. Justice sent over a few documents last week, but they didn't send everything that was requested, and much of the information was redacted even though the subpoena asked for complete versions.

The Bush administration has refused to comply with the rule of law before. Why would we suspect anything different now?

The real question is what will Conyers do about it?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

911 Flight 97 Data Contradicts Official Story

A very interesting post from one of our favorite sites
Pilots for 9/11 Truth, an ad-hock international organization of pilots and aviation professionals, petitioned the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) via the Freedom of Information Act to obtain their 2002 report, “Flight Path Study-American Airlines Flight 77″, consisting of a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file and Flight Path Animation, allegedly derived from Flight 77’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR). The 9/11 Commission relied heavily upon and frequently sited the NTSB Flight Path Study in their Final Report.

In August, 2006, members of Pilots for 9/11 Truth received these documents from the NTSB and began a close analysis of the data they contain. After expert review and cross check, Pilots for 9/11 Truth has concluded that the information in these NTSB documents does not support, and in some instances factually contradicts, the official government position that American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001.

  1. Altitude data from the FDR shows the aircraft on a different heading and at least 300 feet too high to have struck the light poles along Highway 37 moments before striking the Pentagon.
  2. The rate of descent data is in direct conflict with the aircraft being able to impact the light poles and be captured in the Dept of Defense “5 Frames” video of an aircraft traveling nearly parallel with the Pentagon lawn.
  3. The FDR record of data stops at least one second prior to official impact time, thus omitting crucial, final moment impact data.
  4. If data trends are continued from the last recorded, the aircraft altitude would have been at least 100 feet too high to have hit the Pentagon, even if it were on the correct path to also hit the light poles.

An excellent lecture, summery and slide presentation by Calum Douglas, an engineering student at Oxford Brookes University and member of was just put up on google video.

This video presentation can be found by clicking HERE

So the pilots reading the 911 data say the flight data doesn't add up. From my vantage point, the 911-Truth movement (negatively called "the conspiracy theorists' movement") has more scientific data and common sense on our side than the official government accounts. Polls show that most Americans believe as we do, that the true story hasn't been told.

If a presidential candidate stood up and said, "I will initiate a real investigation into exactly what happened on the day of Sept. 11, 2001 and the cover-up that followed," he or she would immediately be the frontrunner.

And then that candidate would probably be assassinated a week later.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring Cleaning Time

The most talked about news of the week has been that Don Imus was fired for racially insensitive remarks. Imus had a history of racism, sexism and just downright nastiness that stretched back for years.

His ouster reminds us that perhaps it's time for a bit more spring cleaning. There are other public figures who should also get the boot for past and present deeds.

Huffington Post offered a few names
, and I'd like to add some to the list.

Bill O'Reilly: This guy offends every night, and his flagship show at the Faux News channel has got to go. Besides his repeatedly racist rhetoric, he shouts down his guests and turns off their mics when they disagree with him, and he cannot debate them on a fair footing. This is not the news. What was the CBC thinking?

Rush Limbaugh: Rush told his listeners this week that they are coming for him next. And he is right to be worried. It's only a matter of time before he maligns Black quarterbacks or insults everyone as he did when Survivor tried to play the race card.

Howard Stern: Stern may be safe for a while on the realm of satellite radio, but his sexist and racist rants are well known. What about his Aunt Jemima fantasy?

Paul Wolfowitz: This NeoCon poster boy is currently in hot water for helping his love interest get a raise at the World Bank. But he should be indicted, tried and convicted for his role in starting the Iraq War back when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Alberto Gonzales: A recent poll says most Americans agree that "Gonzo" should resign for overseeing the politically motivated firings of several US prosecutors. But what about his history as the chief architect of US torture policy and facilitating war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Karl Rove: Bush's Brain is always up to something. You know it. I know it. Congress knows it. The problem is he has an uncanny knack at legally covering his tracks. So now that four years Rove emails have come up missing, we have to wonder just what else this sinister villian has to hide?

Dick Cheney: We all know that Evil Dick is the mastermind behind much of the Bush administration's misguided policies. From the Plame/Wilson affair to falsifying evidence to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq, from his energy task force to shooting his buddy in the face, why can't we find a reason to indict this guy? I still want to know about the live fly war games on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001... Impeach Dick Cheney NOW!!

George W. Bush: If there we are to maintain any faith in the rule of law and the US Constitution, the US House of Representatives has got to begin investigating President George Bush for impeachable offenses. He has admitted to breaking federal law by spying on US citizens. He has overstepped his authority by issuing hundreds of signing statements. By signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and Public Law 109-364 (or as I like to call it "The Martial Law Act of 2006") Bush has turned the office of the president into a defacto dictatorship.

Bush lied us into an illegal and immoral imperial invasion and occupation of Iraq, and his policies have caused the deaths of nearly 700,000 Iraqi civilians, far more than 3000 US soldiers and the wounding and maiming of tens of thousands of people. Now his determination to escalate the occupation in spite of the advice of leading generals, his own bipartisan Iraqi Study Group, Congressional and public protest, and basic common sense demonstrate not incompetence, but a desire to bog the US military down in an imperial conflict that will only lead to more deaths and continued looting of the US treasury. He must be stopped. We can't wait another year. Impeach Bush NOW!

Nadir: I'm sure I'll offend someone again soon. Probably at my show tonight. Maybe during this post. In my own defense, however, I have resigned from that blog where I used to argue and cuss at right-wing pundits, and I apologized for using racially descriptive language on That's gotta be worth something, right?

The Ramifications of Racial Remarks

Originally posted by Nadir at

The Imus/Rutgers insult and the furor that followed illustrate both the power of words, and the volatility of race as an issue in America and the world.

The remarks that he made have struck nerves on so many levels. The term “nappy headed” invokes Black hair politics; the reference to women as “hoes” is degradation; darker skinned Blacks are pitted against fairer skinned Blacks with the “jiggaboos vs. wannabes” comment; and all of it raises questions like Who has the right to call people names? Why is it okay that Blacks can use certain language while others can’t? How responsibile are Black people for the words that are used against us when we perpetuate the issue by continuing the use of those words?

On April 10 after the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team’s press conference, I submited a post titled, “Not a Nappy Head in the Bunch” on Last Chocolate City. The post pointed out that those beautiful women had responded to Don Imus’s comments with poise and grace. The title implied, though the article did not clarify, that none of the women had what most Black folks would consider, “nappy” hair. Unfortunately, some people were offended by my reference to the women’s hair.

I didn’t mean to offend anyone with that statement. I apologize personally, and on behalf of and The Michigan Citizen, Inc., I apologize as well.

Imus and his team had attacked the women for their physical appearance, and the women of Rutgers obviously did not fit the description of “nappy headed hoes” by any stretch of the imagination. My intention with my post was to emphasize the fact that Imus’s comments were not only hateful, but inaccurate. However, by stating that there wasn’t a nappy head in the bunch, I stirred up some deep seated animosities within the Black community.

For the record, I am a brother with waist length locs. My hair is nothing if not nappy. The comment I made was intended to be a humorous remark directed with love for my sisters on that team and for my people. But by making comments that were offensive to someone else, my intentions (and my hair) were not scrutinized. What mattered was the perception and that another human being was hurt by my words.

The politics of hair is still a sticky subject especially among Black women. I have heard sisters criticized for having natural hair and for having perms, for having weaves and for being bald headed.

Blacks have been struggling with the language we use to describe ourselves and our people for many years now. Our choice to continue using the derogoatory terms that are used to insult us is coming back to bite us.

African culture has always been adapted by the dominant culture in the US. Why would we not believe that as Black culture becomes mainstream, that others would not mimic our speech? They always do. This has been the case from “goobers” and “yams” to “cool” and “chillin’”. So when Imus uses our own language to demean our women, we shouldn’t be surprised.

But the question is also, are we not offended when Blacks refer to each other using words that start with the letter “N”, the letter “H” or the letter “B”? Maybe all this talk of banishing “the N-word” is working. I cringe every time I hear someone use it. I get a knot in my stomach when I reflexively use it myself.

Natural African hair is still viewed by some as a curse or as a negative aspect of our appearance. Yet white kids work very hard to lock their hair. Japanese kids pay hundreds of dollars to have their hair “dreaded”. The frequent sightings of afros, cornrows and locs in public let us know that nappiness no longer has the negative conotations that it once did.

But when a white man calls a group of sisters “nappy headed hoes”, and then a Black man says, “No, they aren’t nappy,” emotions flair.

Is it time to remove all racially identifiable language from our speech altogether?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Not a Nappy Head in the Bunch

Originally posted by Nadir at

The Rutgers Women’s Basketball team responded with class and poise to racist comments from Don Imus’s Imus in the Morning show at a press conference on Tuesday.

The radio/television host and his producer, Bernard McGuirk, referred to the Big East champions as “nappy-headed hoes” and “jiggaboos” last week after their loss to Tennessee in the NCAA Women’s National Championship game. Imus will serve a two-week suspension beginning on Monday, April 16.

Rutgers team members refused to comment on the severity of the punishment or on whether they thought it was just. The university used the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the group this season and to focus on their intellectual prowess. Rutgers has tough academic standards, and according to Coach C. Vivian Stringer

“These young ladies before you are valedictorians, future doctors, musical prodigies… these young ladies are the best this nation has to offer and we are so very fortunate to have them at Rutgers. They are young ladies of class, distinction. They are articulate. They are gifted.”

The team has agreed to meet with Imus to discuss his comments at an undisclosed location.

According to a transcript of the segment (from MediaBistro), Imus and McGuirk compared the game between Rutgers and Tennessee to “the Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes” from Spike Lee’s School Daze (misidentified by the show’s co-host as Do The Right Thing).

DON IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between — a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women’s final.

SID ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night — seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and –

BERNARD McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That’s some nappy-headed hos there. I’m gonna tell you that now, man, that’s some — woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like — kinda like — I don’t know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes — that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough –

CHARLES McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don’t know if I’d have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

This isn’t the first time Imus’s crew has been guilty of “racially insensitive remarks”. In 2001, sports guy Rosenburg said Venus and Serena Williams would have a better chance at appearing in National Geographic than in Playboy. And Imus called the New York Knicks a bunch of “chest-thumping pimps.”

Many, including Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosted Imus’s formal apology to the African American community on his talk show, believe Imus should be fired for his remarks. Sharpton told Matt Lauer on Tuesday’s Today Show that suspension was, “not nearly enough. I think it is too little, too late.”

There is a chance that Imus will emerge from his suspension unscathed. Perhaps these comments aren’t as incendiary as Michael Richards’ racist tirade or Mel Gibson’s Jew-hating rant, but the Imus show is simulcast on national radio and television. He must adhere to a higher standard than Richards in a comedy club or a drunken Gibson in a bar.

What message does this send if Imus gets a two-week slap on the wrist for yet another racist joke?

And why doesn’t the suspension begin immediately? Imus is supposed to host a telethon for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and his networks don’t want the charity to lose money because of Imus’s absence. His very presence may have the same unfortunate effect.

The most frustrating aspect of this incident is that rednecks like Imus and his team can steal thunder from these powerful, intelligent and yes, beautiful women with racist remarks and bad jokes. This was their time to celebrate a magnificent season, not defend their womanhood, beauty and race from idiots like the Imus crew.

As additional pennance, Imus and his entire team should each donate a month’s salary to the Rutgers general scholarship fund and Imus’s radio station WFAN and MSNBC should match the number. That might start to undo the damage they have done.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sometimes It Snows in April

Sometimes it snows in April. That's what Prince said anyway.

And that's what happened this Easter weekend. After most of the US experienced a warmer than normal December, a colder than normal February, an early spring in late March, we now get a cold snap in the beginning of April.

and I thought we'd escape the cold in Michigan with a weekend trip to my hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee. When we got here there was snow on the ground.

Snow in Texas. Sleet in Louisiana. What's going on? What about global warming, Mr. Gore?

On the blog Reformed Leftist & Friends we've been debating the global warming phenomenon like many others. Reformed leftists (i.e. right-wingers) Paul Hue and SixStringSlinger argue that the current consensus of scientists around the world should be called into question. They feel that human contributions to global warming are minimal at best, and that economic interests should not be hampered when the science is shaky.

I side with the scientists. It's obvious to me that man made greenhouse gases affect the environment.

Yes, the Earth has always undergone periods of climate change, even prior to the Industrial Revolution. Many believe the great flood that engulfed the planet in antiquity was an example.

So mounting evidence that the sun and other planets in the solar system are warming right along with Earth doesn't come as a surprise or as refutation of manmade warming theories. Neither does snow in April. If anything it confirms that weather and life on our little rock are going to become more irregular.

Scientists compare man's effect on the climate to loading dice. Myles Allen, director of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford University explained it like this to National Geographic

"What you can say is, global warming can increase the chance of a heat wave occurring, and a good analogy is loading the dice."

Loaded dice increase the odds of rolling a specific number. For example, by replacing the three on a die with a six, the odds of rolling a six are doubled. The odds of rolling two sixes in a row are quadrupled.

But when the die is rolled many times and six shows on a third of the rolls, the loading effect is clear.

Even if the dice are loaded, they won't roll six every time. So as Al Gore pointed out in An Inconvenient Truth, the weather will become more unpredictable.

That means warming and cooling trends that don't fit traditional models. Which could mean super hot summers, super cold winters or cold summers and warm autumns.

And yes, sometimes it may snow in April.