Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yarmuth v. Northup II

It's official.
John Yarmuth v. Anne Northup II -- the Thrill in the Ville.

This morning Republican congressional candidate Chris Thieneman dropped out of a potential primary face-off with Anne Northup, paving the way for a rematch of the close 2006 congressional race. He also endorsed her opponent, Rep. John Yarmuth.

Thieneman had recently snitched on the GOP's attempt to bully him out the race, including a name drop of the Godfather of KY, Sen. Mitch McConnell. This caused an uproar in the KY GOP.

Hat tip to Stephen George over at LEO:

"None of the people who have allegedly pressured Thieneman — [L'ville GOP chair Jack] Richardson, McConnell aide Larry Cox, State Sen. Dan Seum (on behalf of Northup) — have said he is lying. Instead, some have said he's misinterpreted what the Republican inner circle has told him, which appears to be this: Get out of Anne's way."
Good point. If he's lying, just say so.

Thieneman spoke with Rick Redding at the 'Ville Voice:

"Thieneman told me that 'someone in Mitch McConnell’s inner circle' told him that the Senator had made it clear who his choice was in the race. He summarized what McConnell expressed to his aide this way:

'There is no way that Chris Thieneman is going to win this primary. Anne Northup is my pawn from now on.'..."

Kilpatrick to Detroit: "I'm sorry"

Oh Kwame:

The latest controversy for Detroit's hip-hop mayor stems from a police whistle-blower trial last summer. Two ex-cops sued the mayor saying he retaliated against them for pursuing an investigation of the mayor's inner circle that might have exposed his love affair. He testified that no affair took place. Soon the Detroit Free Press obtained nearly 14,000 text messages from his mistress and former Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty.

Here's the funny part, Kilpatrick and Beatty were sending these explicit messages over Beatty's city-issued pager! C'mon Kwame, that's player code 101.

"Speaking at length about the text-message scandal for the first time publicly Wednesday night, as he held hands with his wife Carlita, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick apologized repeatedly to residents, supporters, opponents, his wife and his sons for what he called 'the embarrassment and disappointment' of the past few days.

'I want to start tonight by saying to the citizens of this great city: I'm sorry," Kilpatrick said in a live television address from his church'..." For full story click here

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

(L'ville) Urban Decay

This from LEO's General Sense of Outrage blog, which posted a website that has a collection of photography documenting public housing and urban decay across North America. Although I never lived in the PJs, the pages on Louisville bring back memories of the ones that have since (and thankfully) been razed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Haiti's menu --- dirt for dinner

At .05¢ each

The Republic of Haiti has a history punctuated by brief moments of triumph and long periods of tragedy. The latest peril is at a fundamental level.

According to the Associated Press the poverty in Haiti has become so extreme that today the people are eating Mud cookies, made from a recipe of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening. Rising food costs and shortages due to the devastation of hurricanes are partly to blame. Yet one cannot overlook the abject poverty, political corruption and neo-colonial rule as a cause of their suffering.

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the western hemisphere, ranking 146th of 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The article notes that 76% of Haitian live on less than $2.25 a day, and 55%t live on less than $1.13 a day ("One dollar per every human being!" - Mos Def).

Another tragic example from a failed murdered state.

Kwame Kilpatrick, the anti-Obama

"I did not send a text message to that woman."

Is he black enough for ya?

Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick has been described as America's hip-hop mayor. Well he's certainly acting like it. From strippers at the mayor's mansion to "leasing" a Lincoln Navigator, he proves you can take the mayor out the hood but you can't...ah, y'know the rest.

Well now Mayor Kilpatrick has broken new ground with the first booty call text message scandal. According to text messages obtained by the Detroit Free Press that were published on Jan. 23, Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty lied about their affair under oath (a la Bill Clinton) and their involvement in the firing of Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown.

Here's an example of just one of the messages:

Beatty: "And, did you miss me, sexually?"

Kilpatrick: "Hell yeah! You couldn't tell. I want some more. "

There was also evidence that Kilpatrick and Beatty used city funds to arrange romantic getaways. Beatty resigned as chief of staff on Jan. 28 28, 2008 amid allegations that she and the mayor lied under oath about an affair.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Local Notes

A few interesting items in the Derby City.

  • The "Why Buy Local" event organized by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance, b.k.a "Keep Louisville Weird", provided needed advice for local businesses competing against big box retailers. According to the C-J, John Timmons, owner of Ear X-tacy Records, admits that he cannot compete on price so he tries to provide better service, expertise and selection. LEO's blog also noted that the panel's keynote speaker, author Stacy Mitchell said that due "tremendous consolidation", Wal-Mart now captures one of every $10 spent on retail goods on the country. Unbelievable.

  • Hat tip to 'Ville Voice. On redneck radio this morning rebel Republican Chris Thieneman, who spearheaded the defeat of the library tax and announced he's running for Kentucky's 3rd U.S. congressional seat, was snitchin' on the GOP. According to 'Ville Voice, Thieneman said various party officials, including Mitch McConnell aide Larry Cox, told him to sit this year out so serial loser Ann Northup can get her rematch against Rep. John Yarmuth. At the moment the conversation is getting ugly.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama defeats 'Billary' 2-to-1 in S. Carolina

"Y'know you done fucked up, right?"

A few quick thoughts after witnessing Obama's 55% victory.

  1. Billary's Black Backlash: Billary's attempt to turn Barack into the "black candidate" with snide remarks and innuendo and direct lines of attack backfired. Now an entire generation (hip-hop!) of black voters that were never loyal to Democrats in the first place, are sickened with the Clinton & Clinton brand-name (see: The Clintons, Black Folk & America). Billary looks bitter, salty, robotic and paternalistic --- with the Negro Spiritual leadership of old still eating crumbs at the Clinton table (Andrew Young, John Lewis, Charlie Rangel, Sheila Jackson-Lee, etc.) few new black voters will support Billary.

  2. Obama is the Youth Candidate: Barack is an inspiration to black folk, he trounced Billary with 81% of the black vote, however, he also won 52% among white voters age 18-30. He's the youth candidate. He's the candidate bringing an entire generation and formerly cynical citizens into the democratic process. An enormous 75% more voters turned out to vote in this year's SC Dem. primary than in 2004. Basically, Obama won more raw votes than all the votes for all the candidates in the 2004 primary.

  3. On to Florida...and America Samoa?: After losing Billary basically said screw the people of S. Carolina, "...on to Florida." Thing is Florida is not in the Super Tuesday vote for the Democrats. Where in the blue hell is Democratic National Committee chair, Howard Dean? Can anyone stop Billary from making up the rules as they go along? On a funny side note, a press release mentioned the importance of the American Samoa vote, not a state but a territory of the U.S. --- Billary looks desperate.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Son of a Mitch -- McConnell to Mom: You're Fired!

Waiting outside her workplace at Maiden Alley Cinema with her 12-year-old daughter, Paducah, KY residentHeather Ryan wanted to ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about the Iraq war. Sen. McConnell was at the theatre last week filming a campaign commercial. Thinking wisely she also brought her videocamer to tape his answer.

Not surprisingly Mitch gave her the cold shoulder. When American politicians ascend in rank their power shields them from a dosage of citizenry. What put this story on blogs across the country, from KY homegrown blog, DitchMitchKY to the nationally known DailyKos was that only a few days later Ryan was fired as director of the Maiden Alley Cinema.

Hat tip to DitchMitchKY for not just blogging from afar but for going down to Paducah and talking with Ms. Ryan personally (watch it here).

And watch the local coverage below.

I'm honestly surprised. My days as a McConnell Scholar at U of L taught me that at the very least Mitch was a decent human being. Even when he attacked 12-year-old Graeme Frost during the State Children’s Health Insurance Program debate last fall, I thought, hey that's a casualty of political warfare, another unfornate victim of the Godfather of KY's ruthless right-wing Machiavellianism.

But the pettiness of this...breathtaking.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Buy Local?

Hat tip to veteran journalist and Ville Voice blogger Rick Redding.

He posted an entry about an event this coming Sunday hosted by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance,the folks that brought us the Keep Louisville Weird campaign. The event, "Why Buy Local", features author Stacy Mitchell who wrote the book,“Big Box Swindle”, which slams the economic ills of big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart, Lowe's and Best Buy.

Read more here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yeah he's frustrated. But at least he's not going to cry

Hat tip to Jack & Jill Politics for their "Making Obama The Angry Black Man" entry. The aftermath of the pissing contest at the last Democratic debate on CNN is clear, the new strategy from Clinton & Clinton is to poke Obama and then call him "frustrated" (i.e. angry) for responding.

From TPM Election Central:

"I think what we saw last night is that he's very frustrated," Hillary said at a press conference this morning in Washington. "The events of the last ten or so days, particularly the outcomes in New Hampshire and Nevada, have apparently convinced him to adopt a different strategy." She then added that Obama came to the debate "looking for a fight."

I told everyone last year that the subtext of Obama's candidacy was eventually going to turn him into the next Emmitt Till.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The SOULution in Velocity

Oh no, that ol' SOULution went commercial! From Public Enemy to Ying Yang Twins. What's next, BET sponsorship? No, but seriously, hat tip to Sis. Javacia Harris over at Velocity. She profiled The SOULution on her blog Monday.

My prose regularly rinses its sharpest zings in a faucet of salty contempt for the peacocks in the party & bullshit crowd (y'know who you are). Therefore many might see our writing styles as worlds apart. I agree.

Still, even if you roll your eyes at Velocity's pop culture exterior, Javacia has consistently written on subjects about entertainment that should ignite substantive and serious conversations in LousyVille, namely her articles for Black Music Month last year on the dying R&B scene and the struggle of female MCs that profiled three L'villeI artists (sorry dear readers, Velocity's archives have no links).

Given the Pluto-sized world of black writers and journalists in the Louisville media universe it would be much easier (and profitable) for her to be another milquetoast gossip columnist
(I won't mention names...yet). So give Javacia's blog a regular visit.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against wet-dry vote

Ruling that their cases had no merit, Jefferson Circuit Judge Martin McDonald dismissed two lawsuits that delayed results of a special election banning alcohol sales in four Shawnee neighborhood precincts. Last September, 86-percent of residents in those Shawnee precincts (N104, N105, N107 and N109), an area that includes a sliver of Portland, voted to ban alcohol sales.

Last week LEO reported
on the ongoing legal battle between residents and store owners, punctuated by series of "Respect the Vote" rallies by dry supporters. The lawsuits, filed on behalf of five business owners and ten residents, alleged improper electioneering, use of illegal polling stations, that residents were ignorant about the implications of their votes, and that at least one registered voter was turned away. Also tied to the lawsuit was the accusation of racial discrimination on the part of dry supporters. Most of the store owners affected by the ban are of Palestinian descent.

Addressing the issue of anti-Arab discrimination, Judge McDonald's ruling read:

"This is not a ban on the sale of alcohol by those of Palestinian descent; no one will be permitted to sell alcohol...Further, nothing prevents the affected license holders from engaging in other types of business within any of the four precincts."

"I'm relieved that Judge McDonald respected the vote," said Rev. Clay Calloway, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition. Rev. Calloway and others saw the lawsuits as an attempt to ignore the communities voice, which believes banning alcohol will help deter crime and ameliorate their neighborhoods. "People now see our vote does count," said Rev. Jeff Ellis, pastor of Greater St. James AME, who has been intimately involved with the dry movement since it began. Rev. Ellis concurred with the sentiment of relief but added that the message from the vote supplemented by Judge McDonald's decision is clear. "The folk in opposition to us now know the game is up," he said.

Councilwoman Cheri Bryant-Hamilton, who has been a visible supporter of the ban since last year agreed. Hamilton had taken several shots since the lawsuits were filed. She was specifically named in at least one of the lawsuits for violating electioneering laws, which may have been why she was publicly reticent about the issue until a few weeks ago. The opposition also highlighted that the exemption of precinct N106 was due to her relationship to Anthony French, who owned Shawnee Plaza, a tiny mall in the Shawnee neighborhood that sells alcohol. According to election records French contributed more than $1,100 to both of Councilwoman Hamilton’s reelection campaigns.

Hamilton told LEO she now feels personally vindicated by McDonald's decision. "Throughout this process we were confident that everything was done legally," she said. "Hopefully the owners of these establishments will respect the judges decision and stop selling alcohol immediately."

"My clients are disappointed with the decision," said attorney Thurman Senn, who represents a handful of residents and three of the store owners who filed the lawsuit. Senn said he briefly spoke with his clients after receiving McDonald's decision. He declined further comment but told LEO he plans to speak with his clients tomorrow afternoon to discuss the decision in detail.

Attorney Terry Gordon, who represented the plaintiffs in the other lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

Monday, January 21, 2008

ACLU-KY selects new Executive Director

After an extensive three month search the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has reportedly named Michael Aldridge, Development Director at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth its new executive director. The decision was made last week, according to a source within ACLU-KY. The two finalists for the position were informed of the decision Saturday.

Aldridge has been the chief fundraising coordinator for KFTC in their London, KY office since 2005. Before working with KFTC, Aldridge was involved with Vote No Amendment Campaign, which was defeated in 2004 when Kentucky voted to ban gay marriage as an amendment to the state constitution. He is also a board member of the Fairness Campaign.

Earlier today in an interview with Aldridge, he would neither confirm nor deny being selected as the new ACLU-KY director. Instead he said a press release would be released in the next coming days on the organizations decision.

Note: Aldridge is salty. Earlier this month in LEO, I wrote a piece on the ACLU-KY raising questions about the organization's health since losing most of its general staff last year. I also found out he and another person were the two finalists. When I questioned Aldridge he asked, "How did you get that information?"

It's called being a reporter.

Happy MLK Day from The SOULution

And to help you celebrate here's a few links.

More than just a single speech, King's philosophy was just as prolific in prose. Here's an important essay,Let Justice Roll Down, written for The Nation on March 15th, 1965. But if you're more interested in speeches check out those explaining hisopposition to the Vietnam War.

One of histories greatest ironies is that President Ronald Reagan signed the MLK holiday into law. I bet that burned ol' Ronnie Ray-Gun's briches.

Still, the legacy of King far more important than one man. As writer and activist Grace Lee Boggs highlights in an essay, King's Legacy of Change, there's a battle for freedom currently we'd rather forget.

Beyond that I'd suggest you at the very least take time to pause and reflect on the meaning of giving your individual talent and deeds to liberation. Oh, and if you're one of those who it still bothers to acknowledge Dr. King's contributions to civilization, here's a message from the old school, Public Enemy, "By the time I get to Arizona".

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MLKville, KY

Flipping through the pages of the C-J this Saturday I read: Activists want city to name street for King. Didn't we deal with this foolishness last year? Almost an exact year ago the same idea was proposed for 22nd street. Problem was that residents of the mostly white neighborhood of Portland (much like the citizens of Arizona) wanted no parts of Dr. King. The brazen bigotry wielded to stop the renaming of 22nd street was an ugly episode for America's 16th largest city. Instead of renaming 22nd street a compromise was offered with state officials stepping in and renaming the expressway (I-65) after MLK instead.

For some that was not good enough:

"The Rev. Louis Coleman, director of the Justice Resource Center, applauded state leaders for the honor, but said Louisville 'has a moral responsibility' to pay King a similar honor as many cities have done."

I have incredible respect for Rev. Louis Coleman. I agree with him more times than not. He's been the general of the Black Freedom Struggle in Louisville for decades. He's done more for social justice than most will know or appreciate.

However, let it go.

Should city leaders have named a street after Dr. King decades ago --- yes. Would this be a priority on the list of a living Dr. King --- no. By continually submitting King's legacy to a series of parks, streets, memorials and postage stamps with messianic fervor (dare I say, Passion of Dr. King) we're losing the substance and sight of incredible disparities. C'mon Rev. Coleman, don't fall into the trap of becoming a caricature.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

BET founder, (Hopin') Bob Johnson apologizes to Obama

After taking serious hits, especially from the black blogosphere (see Davey D's blog: Why Bob Johnson is an Asshole & Hypocrite) good ol' hopin' Bob apologized to Sen. Barak Obama. On Sunday the BET founder made a clear reference to Obama's drug use as a teenager at a Clinton rally when he said:

"As an African American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues, when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing but he said it in his book..." - Bob Johnson on Obama
Initially Johnson said his comments were being mis-characterized. The Clinton campaign agreed saying Johnson was referring to Obama's years as a community organizer in Chicago. Why would he not want to mention Obama's organizing? Hmm... Johnson sent Obama a letter that said:

"I'm writing to apologize to you and your family personally for the un-called-for comments I made at a recent Clinton event...In my zeal to support Senator Clinton, I made some very inappropriate remarks for which I am truly sorry. I hope that you will accept this apology. Good luck on the campaign trail." - Bob Johnson' s letter to Obama
Now if we can only get him to atone for BET.

Sagging legislation debated in ATL

Coming out of A.T.L. (Atlanta, Georgia for you lames) in late August '07, the anti-sagging law introduced by City Councilman C.T. Martin ignited national news and spawned similar legislation in Baltimore, Dallas and parts of Florida and Louisiana.

Depending on where you live the punishment's
severity varies. For example, according to the NY Times, in the small town of Delcambre, La., population 2,231 and 80 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, sagging now carries a stiff fine of "as much as $500" and " up to a six-month sentence."

Critics say that not only are these laws an attack on hip-hop culture but also allow for further harrassment of young black males. Yesterday in ATL the proposal was debated.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Councilman Martin says he introduced the law not to punish young people but to start a conversation about the impact of the dress style on their lives.

Yeah. Right.

Like Martin, most city politicians who introduce these sorts of laws are also black. Thus the battle is more generational although there is a racial consequence to such legislation. Sadly these old Negro spiritual leaders and their outdated strategies have nothing better to offer. For many, there time is up. Instead of passing the torch or offering wisdom they perform an ancient ritual of sacrificing their children and grandchildren to the legal system. Granted, sagging is an ugly dress style but fines, community service sentences and jail time go beyond the pale.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

...but does alcohol sales produce crime?

Check out my article in LEO magazine regarding the ongoing legal battle and debate over the wet-dry vote in the Shawnee neighborhood of L'Ville.

This fight has been building up since last year and culminated in a Sept. 11 special election with 86% of residents voting to ban liquor sales.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What the Huck?

Speaking to a crowd in Michigan, Republican presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Huckabee (Obama for hillbillies) told an audience that the U.S. Constitution ought to be changed to fit "God's standards" (watch here):

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."
Even for an evangelical this is an explicit theological declaration. If you're a secularist, freethinker, agnostic, atheist or just plain modern human being this is somewhat unsettling. I suggest you consider just a few implications (read A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically) of Gov. Huckabee's GOD amendment.

However, this is the same presidential candidate whose most popular endorsement (i.e. running mate) is from Chuck Norris (see: Huck & Chuck).

So I'm not particularly worried...yet.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Big (Pulpit) Pimpin'

"The preacher is the most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil."
- W.E.B. Du Bois

Let the church say Amen. I remember reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's profile on Bishop Eddie Long (pictured above) in 2005. Long was doing it big! He earned $1 million a year, lived in nine-bathroom mansion, and drove a $350,000 Bentley. Problem is, he didn't have a real job. No, living off the work of your congregation's donations (tithes) is not a job.

Preacher pimps beware, serious oversight into this hustle called "prosperity gospel" began last year and could be coming to a pulpit near you. Lord knows we'd welcome it in Louisville.

Read excerpt below, for full article click here:

"In November, [U.S. Sen. Charles E.] Grassley, who serves as ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee, ramped things up a bit. He announced that he is seeking detailed financial information from six mega-ministries, Long's among them.

The move sent shock waves through the evangelical community. Grassley is a conservative Republican whose votes on social issues usually please the Religious Right. (His 2006 rating from the Family Research Council was 87 percent.) But the senator has long had an interest in preserving the integrity of the tax laws and has in the past complained about secular non-profits violating the law.

In 2005-06, Grassley held a series of hearings on Capitol Hill that included testimony from large non-profit groups such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Red Cross. Now he's turning his sights to the religious sector.

Grassley's investigation focuses on six ministries, all of which preach the "prosperity gospel" -- the theological assertion that wealth is a reward from God."

All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men

Hat tip to the Lt. Uhura of the blogosphere, Sis. Anovelista. Her recent post highlights the history of ignoring black women, which has been an integral perspective at the intersection of the race v. gender debate, which has been renewed in the Democratic presidential campaign.

"The 'All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men' argument with the black woman rendered either invisible or as a convenient prop has astounding historic precedent that is constantly ignored and underreported today. It was not taken into account in an article in today's New York Times, Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course by Mark Leibovich.

Leibovich writes about the complex history of the civil rights movement and the women's movement and especially the 15th Amendment controversy with a focus on
Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton." - Anovelista

I especially enjoyed her shredding Gloria Steinem's NY Times piece. Steinem wrote that black men received the constitutional right to vote a half century before (white) women as a way to say gender is more restrictive than race in America.

True enough, the 15th amendment (1870) granted black men suffrage long before the 19th amendment (1920) extended the franchise to all women. We certainly know sexism was at play. However, after the end of Reconstruction (1877) the black man's vote was not protected until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Steinem forgot to mention the literacy tests, the grandfather clause, poll taxes, lynchings, the KKK and Jim Crow.

As Chris Rock noted on SNL:
"...white women burned their bras, black men were burned alive!"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

L'Ville levees graded 'minimally acceptable'

For the second straight year Louisville's flood system is one grade above failure. According to an article in the C-J, "Trees threatening levees", the Army Corps of Engineers cited "too many trees, some of them historic, next to levees and flood walls...[t]ree roots can suck rising floodwaters underneath levees and walls, softening the soil, making them more likely to fall over and cause damage or a breach."

Hat tip to the C-J for reporting this.

One would think less than three years after New Orleans was engulfed, we'd have greater alarm. Unfortunately the length of the American memory is two weeks. I also noticed that the article mentions a lack of oversight:

"The federal agency is particularly concerned that trees have been allowed to grow close to the wall. Corps officials say they've had a rule for years that requires removal of all vegetation within 15 feet of the base of a flood wall or the bottom of a levee. The roots of larger trees have to be removed and the soil compacted."

I highlighted that point because a little later the article mentions that the head of the Olmsted Conservancy, Mimi Zinniel, said public safety comes first but she's concerned for the trees.

Concerned for the trees?!? I hope conservation was not a reason for leaving those trees up. More than likely it was the usual government incompetence. Still, without a major stadium my cynicism tells me that Louisvillians incapable of escaping a devastating flood ought to reserve their "refugee" seat in Freedom Hall.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Murders Metro

I'm not into the murder news, but after coming off a record homicide rate last year (highest since 1996), which was punctuated by the brazen murder of Donald "Big Don" Boyd, it's important to note that 2008 began with a series of murders. We're not even finished with the second week of January.

Louisville is reaching a tipping point. Over three-fourths of the homicides in 2007 were African-Americans and according to police reports three-fourths were drug related. So much for being a duffle bag boy.

The latest incident was two fatal shootings in less than a day. If we're serious about addressing or reducing violent crime we'd better come up with new strategies. Presently we have airbrushed t-shirts, banning liquor stores and the Ghetto Grim Reaper.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Can't beat 'em --- lynch 'em!

Yep, it's still America.

Speaking about Tiger Woods' dominance in golf with Nick Faldo, Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman jokingly chimed that young golfers ought to get together and "lynch him in the back alley." (see video)

Tilghman was quickly "Imused", meaning there was brief knee-jerk uproar, shorter national conversation and she'll return six months later as the owner of the Golf Channel. In usual race-neutral fashion the world's greatest golfer (and richest -- $122 million last year!) insulated himself from the incident, quickly accepting Tilgham's apology. My sentiment is that while her comments were outrageous, she was talking about Tiger ("I'm not black, I'm caublasian") not Tupac...

al-Cracka threat level: Yellow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Congressman John Conyers visits L'Ville

Hosted at the historic Simmons College, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, visited Louisville today as a part of Rep. John Yarmuth's "Congress on the Corner" initiative, the discussion was criminal justice. One of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers has a remarkable political biography that has stirred Washington's power pot from Watergate to the Downing Street memo.

Today I sat down with Rep. Conyers as we discussed among other things, juvenile justice and the impact of the Jena 6.

"We've got a school to prison pipeline," Conyers said almost immediately after asking him about the crisis with juvenile justice. He stressed that the state of juvenile incarceration is tragic and a growing majority of incarcerated youth (shockingly!) are people of color. "

Regarding the controversial case in small town Louisiana that led to a national outcry and massive protests, Conyers highlighted that the Jena 6 case put a needed spotlight on the fairness of prosecutors, selective enforcement and draconian sentencing. "It touched a nerve," Conyers said, but "there are Jena 6s all over America."

Later during the community conversation Conyers described a country sitting at a crossroad between progress and peril and added that the job of a representative in Washington should be led by two basic principles, find good ideas and implement them. "The trouble with Washington," Conyers told the packed crowd on Simmons' 7th street campus, "we have a surplus of bad ideas."

After his brief remarks Conyers took questions from the audience with Rep. Yarmuth on a range of issues. "Congressman Yarmuth was very pleased to hear different opinions from the community," said a Yarmuth spokesperson. "The work in Washington begins with hearing from people in Louisville."

Obama: The choice of a new generation?

Barack Obama has successfully done what his elders in the civil Rights generation have not been able to accomplish for the last twenty years -he has engaged the youth (the Hip-hop generation, if you will) in a political movement and has them (us) excited about the possibility of changing the nature and direction of American politics. Change (now there's the million dollar word of 2007) has been the rallying cry which has brought together those groups traditionally described as "apathetic" or "politically disengaged" and has worked to mount a movement against what has now been described as the "old guard" of the Democratic Party; The Clinton juggernaut.

This has clearly been a great story for our country -no matter what happens in the primary or the election. Barack has made an irremovable mark on American politics. He has caught us all off guard, but no group has been caught sleepin' on Barack more than some of the "old school" civil rights generationer's who were quick to dismiss Obama's chances of winning and bought in to the "inevitability" narrative pushed by the Clinton machine. I am curious to see what Clinton supporters like Charlie Rangel and John Lewis do when the Obama wave comes to their towns and the pressure begins to build. Do they: A) hold the line for Hillary or B) They do the Democrat shuffle, ditch Hillary, and hop on the Obama bandwagon while seats are still available and there is still time to pander to the youth....My money is on B.

Our generation, the Hip-hop generation (blacks, whites, and brown's alike) has become a respected force over the last few years. Howard Dean's campaign tapped into it in 2004, but Dean lacked Obama's charisma, he wasn't sexy. Obama hasn't side-stepped race but he has moved the conversation forward in a way that is palatable to a broader spectrum of listeners. He is appealing to principles we all want to claim as our own -and it is working, especially with young people.

I think Obama has a chance to restore the credibility of the American. The Civil Rights old better recognize this or they run the risk of looking like they are beholden to the Clinton dynasty -and they will find themselves, once again, out of step with the youth.

Obamania II: New Hampshire

Today the New Hampshire primary is set to provide a sequel to Obamania. Every significant poll shows him beating Hilary, some as much as 13 points, according to the USA Today/Gallup. For most pundits the only question left is Obama's margin of victory.

As a result Hilary over the past few days has...

  • went diary of a mad white woman at the ABS News/Facebook debate.
  • attempted to thaw her ice queen image and cried yesterday.

Meanwhile Obamania gains momentum. One implicit endorsement came yesterday from former Sec. of State Colin Powell who praised Obama on Tavis Smiley, who commented:

"This argument about him not being black enough, that's just absolute nonsense. He is putting himself forward not as a black man but as an American man who wants to be president of the United States of America. We should see Barack as a candidate for president who happens to be black, and not a black candidate for president."
At the beginning of 2007 Obama endured an extraordinary black authenticity test. All African-Americans face it at one moment or another. Obama's was acute because he existed at the crossroads of bi-racial identity and presidential politics.

Today the "Is Barack black enough?" question is irrelevant. It is an outdated inquiry in 21st century America. The burning dilemma is whether black America can shed its crippling racial paranoia? The euphoria met with Obama's victory in Iowa from Harlem to South Central and across black communities large and small demonstrates a willingness to shed that cynicism. We want to believe.

Yet black America has been here before. Anchored by our deep and justifiable reservations (Katrina, Jena 6, etc.) there's a collective anxiety underneath the Politics of Hope, waiting for a disaster --- a gaffe, a scandal, a Clinton comeback, a Republic smear campaign, an assassin's bullet. We enter New Hampshire with Barack, holding our breath and wanting to believe.

Monday, January 7, 2008

One of Kentucky's Finest?

Byron Crawford's Sunday column in the C-J was a reminder that race in America is a waltz: two steps forward, one step back (sometimes the reverse). Even with Obama making history (and a 10 to 13 point lead in New Hampshire), it's still necessary to pause and celebrate one of Kentucky's finest, D.W. Griffith, a filmmaker whose notoriously racist propaganda flick, Birth of a Nation, yearned for a time when the darkies knew their place.

I'm not surprised. I can recall the crocodile tears and uproar over actor Jon Voight's portrayal of another well-known bigot, UK basketball coach
Adolph Rupp, in the movie Glory Road.

Crawford's column briefly mentions the controversy over Birth of a Nation but quickly returns to the biographical bj of the Oldham County born Griffith. No mention that it helped reignite the KKK. No mention of the protests and outrage that followed its premiere. No mention of its dehumanizing images. No mention of it being completely ahistoric (The Chronicles of Narnia is closer to historical or non-fiction than Birth). But if Rev. Louis Coleman (the L'ville version of Al Sharpton) & Co. grabbed their bullhorns and
surrounded the C-J in protest (a futile gesture that I'm not calling for), they'd be accused of trying to "sanitize" history.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We're back --- The SOULution reloaded

I'll be honest, coming up with a concise inaugural blog entry was harder that I thought (and I call myself a writer!). The best thing I can say is that The SOULution blog, broadcasting mainly from Louisville, KY, hopes to offer incisive commentary and lucid information from local to global perspectives.

The SOULution is becoming sort of a brand-name -- beginning as a campus newspaper that evolved into a national website and now resurrected as a blog -- with a history of rousing debate on a number of topics and issues. That tradition will continue with this incarnation.

I just hope you participate, comment, and most importantly think.

Peace & Freedom,
Phillip M. Bailey