Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Uncle Toms, Duke, Jalen Rose, and Grant Hill

The New York Times, today, released an Op-Ed wherein which current NBA player and former Duke star Grant Hill responds to the comments made by Jalen Rose on ESPN's "Fab Five" documentary. During which, Rose made the claim that Duke only recruited "uncle Tom's" and had no interest in the likes of he or other black players from urban, violent, impoverished neighborhoods. Rose went on to express the resentment, which at that time boiled close to a vitriolic level, toward Hill, and black athletes like Hill who were from less humble beginnings. Today, the Times published a piece where Hill feels the need to defend black success stories, in particular his own, and others from the Duke program. The piece can be found here. Grant Hill is either completely aloof or deliberately abstruse regarding Jalen Rose's comments. His Op-Ed was a rebuttal toward a comment that was never made or implied. On top of that, I find it extremely misfortunate that many on the blogosphere, Twitter, and the comment section of that very piece are lauding Hill for his writing ability, vernacular, and "class". It is without question that Hill deliberately wrote the piece in such a manner as to disparage Rose, selecting only from the lexicon of academia, while passive aggressively patronizing the members of the Fab Five.
Not once in the documentary, though, did Rose disparage Hill for actually being from a warm and supportive family, rather, he expressed a bitterness and a resentfulness toward it. He was spiteful and jealous. One could certainly see how a youth from an at-risk area such as Jalen Rose could harbor such feelings. For Hill to dismiss these thoughts shows a real ignorance on his behalf. Rose has nothing to apologize for, unfortunately, the word police, the thought police, and the race cowards will continue to applaud Grant Hill. But, at what end? Further dismissing the realities of millions of minority adolescence in low-income areas with broken families and dysfunctional homes? I certainly hope not, as this will only further the gap between "black elites" and "urban blacks" at a time when unity amongst all blacks is especially key.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Peter King (R-NY, not Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback" columnist and famed NFL guru), House Homeland Security Committee chairman, has decided to pursue the "self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community" in America. This fear-fueled, religious persecution and minority sniping is reminiscent of modern-day McCarthyism. King is nothing more than a fool who stands counter-productive to the cause. By persecuting Muslim American's, King is essentially verifying the libel that al-Qaeda spews. Leaders of the terrorist organization love nothing more than when American politicians wage war against Islam. Doing such allows them to rally disenfranchised or weak-willed youth around a cause. Instead, we should be waging a war against terrorism, as a whole, and specific terrorist cells within the United States or abroad. Unfortunately, Peter King is too dense to understand a basic principle such as this, and we, as Americans, continue to pay the price for the foolish few, not unlike most Muslim's pay the price for the radical few amongst them. Shame.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Tea Party's Attack on Unions and Social Rights

In my book, anytime the working man can stick it to the rich man it's a good thing. In Wisconsin, that is precisely whats happening. As Scott Walker, the Republican Governor attempts to turn the working man upon his fellow working man (non-union workers vs. union workers), I hope that his transparency is as clear to them as it is to me.
Here's the facts: Walker wants to eliminate the unions ability to collectively bargain pension plans and benefits. Currently, union members are paying astronomically low rates; less than 1% into their pension, only 6% into health care. In exchange, the unions take on lower salaries. Less money now, more down the line. All in all, the deal is a sweetheart deal, but let us be clear, there was no divine order stricken down from the heavens demanding that union members will only pay X amount into this or Y amount into that. The deal was negotiated. It was collectively bargained. But now, when its time to pay the "more later" bit, the government, headed by Scott Walker is attempting to renege. Instead of focusing on the facts, Walker continues to point out what a great deal these union workers have, correctly stating that other "working men", i.e. his relative at Sears, would love such a deal. It is a relatively smart bit of thinking, but with the aforementioned facts brought to light, it is also completely irrelevant.
If the fight were really about making economic concessions, though, the strikes would be over. Wisconsin union members are willing and ready to make the necessary compromises, so long as their ability to bargain collectively remains intact. Walker, though, refuses to allow it. Because, alas, it has nothing to do with the economic climate, it has to do with another "Tea Party Governor" trying to union bust and infringe on basic social rights of Americans. It is happening all across the country. Thankfully, Wisconsin has put its foot down, hopefully America takes notice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teach For America Not For Yourself

Richard Cohen, Op-Ed Columnist over at the Washington Post, wrote a column today in defense of Teach For America. The real point, a point by the way in which I wholeheartedly agree with, was that Tea Party Republicans are trying to slash programs they don't like under the guise of budget cutting. In reality, you don't get rid of "useless" programs, such as Teach For America and expect all of our problems to wash away. Swing for the fences. Eviscerate the defense budget. Tax the hell out of the top earners in the nation and reinvest it into those who never stood a chance. But, that's just an opinion and it's not what this blog is about. I'm not going to blast Cohen, because frankly, I just think he is ignorant - a fact which he essentially admitted to in the column - about Teach For America.
In full disclosure, I was one of the 48,000 Teach For America applicants this year. I was not selected for an in-person interview. Only 5,300 were, so I guess at first I didn't feel too bad that I wasn't amongst those invited to partake in the cause. Then again, I never really stood a chance did I? For one thing, the TFA Corpse is largely an Ivy League affair, about 1/5 of the graduating class from Harvard applied to the program. Plus, I'm white. I'm from a relatively middle class family and I grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., not exactly the redemption story that would captivate the application reviewers. But, perhaps, the cookie-cutter billboard faces that illuminate the TFA ads adorning college campuses across the country aren't actually the answer to the education crisis. They're not the type of people capable of making a difference. Not in my mind anyway. A potential flyer might highlight the plucky Latina from Los Angeles, or Joseph, the Jewish guy from New York City, or Derrick, the good-looking black guy who rose from the mean streets to the ivory towers going back into urban school systems to change lives. Sounds great on paper. Sometimes, I think that's all that matters to a lot of people.
All the while, the types of people who genuinely could make a difference are bypassed in the selection process to make room for self-serving, pretentious, frauds. It starts from the top at TFA. No doubt, the program is noble in its ideals and perhaps, sometimes, in its practice. I certainly hope that dividends are yielded, but I fear that the people at the frontline are not properly equipped to invoke change, let alone inspire a revolution. In my experience, the types of people who apply for TFA, try as they might to convince you or prove to you otherwise, are more interested in garnering the revere and praise of their peers for their "nobility" than actually making a difference. What about staffing yourself with people that genuinely care about kids? People who sincerely want to see others actualize their potential. They do exist, believe it or not. People that kids can relate to. They don't have be black, or latino, or white, or whatever, they just have to be funny. Or be passionate about real things, like sports, or music, or movies. Things that people can relate to, because without that nobody can trust you, you're just another stiff teacher that doesn't get it.
If we're going to spark a change with the youth, we need to enlist more real people, not the heroic University graduate who so humbly is donating their precious, valuable time throwing the less-fortunate a bone. What about hiring a man of the people, rather than someone who somewhere in their subconscious can't wait to write Teach For America on the resume so that their future interviewer at some Fortune 500 Firm can laud them with praise? It's pathetic, almost a way to equal military service for the "intellectually elite," an Iraqi war for the educated; let's go help these poor people turn their lives around so they can turn out to be just like me. The arrogance is astounding.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Oscar Predictions

These are my Oscar Predictions for 2011, keep in mind I've yet to see "Winter's Bone", "The Kings Speech", "127 Hours", and "Never Let Me Go", so I may be a bit tainted. Otherwise, though, I'm quite well versed in the Boldtop movies of the year. So here we go...

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win - The Social Network
Should Win - The Social Network
Why? Sorkin took a story that I initially thought trite and hacky and crafted it into a masterfully portrayed, riveting story.
Watch Out For - True Grit, 127 Hours, Never Let Me Go, Winter's Bone

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win - Inception
Should Win - Inception
Why? The most original film of the year. It was complex, multi-layered, easy to follow, and continues to make me think months after watching it. Film-making at its finest.
Watch Out For - The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actor:
Will Win - Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Should Win - Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Why? Bale's range as an actor can never be questioned. He magnificently portrayed a crack addicted ex-fighter with close bonds to his mother and younger brother.
Watch Out For - Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)

Best Supporting Actress:
Will Win - Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Should Win - Steinfeld, Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right)
Why? Because I'm spineless. I loved all three of the performances equally, but for different reasons. Steinfeld held her own against the likes of Bridges, Damon, and Brolin. Leo was perfect and Moore was incredibly intriguing.

Best Actor:
Will Win - Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Should Win - Colin Firth
Why? Haven't seen the movie, but apparently he was great. Ha. I respect the critics enough to know that their glowing reviews in such quantity must mean something.
Watch Out For - Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), James Franco (127 Hours)

Best Actress:
Will Win - Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Should Win - Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Why? Portman was brilliant. Her performance, flawless. If she won I would be quite pleased and unable to argue. But, Bening was phenomenal in a more "real" way. I felt that Black Swan was un-relatable and thus, it makes me harder to laud Portman's work. Bening, on the other hand, gave a moving and steadfast performance. Plus, she deserves an Oscar.

Best Director:
Will Win - David Fincher (The Social Network)
Should Win - Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Why? Inception was a 10-year-in-the-making masterpiece. Nolan flat out deserves it. The other movies were great and the other nominees will all - probably - be very worthy names, but Nolan takes the cake this year.
Watch Out For - Danny Boyle (127 Hours), Coen Brothers (True Grit), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)

Best Picture:
I'm just going to do my personal list of my favorite movies, with a star next to the "will win".
1. Inception
2. The Social Network*
3. The Town
4. The Fighter
5. Black Swan
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. True Grit
8. Shutter Island
9. Easy A
10. Rabbit Hole

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's not Bipartisanship, its Betrayal

Unsurprisingly, Obama folded under Republican pressures and watched the $250K+ club tax relief continue. Whether you realize it or not, this country is headed toward financial ruins and that very well may have been the nail in the coffin. Certainly, this is hard to believe when the Jayson Werth's of the world are commanding $130mil, and stock index levels have jolted slightly, but believe it or not unemployment is actually predicted to rise and the relief for the jobless to fall. Something seems wrong about that. President Obama campaigned on a message of hope and hope is exactly what he is sucking out of millions of Americans, just before the Holiday season.
Did Obama campaign on a bipartisan agenda, as well? Certainly. And, I would willingly concede that being able to reach across the aisle, is not just an important political skill, but also something all great leaders are able to do. However, any great leader would tell you that you do not do so at the cost of forsaking your greatest convictions. Obama is playing the fool now and is making everyone who campaigned and argued on his behalf - ahem - look stupid. Not only that, but he has taken the very dangerous step in letting the GOP set the agenda for the nation. Talk about showing weakness.
I mentioned in my previous blog entry how foolish it would be to end jobless benefits. I read today a jarring statistic, which essentially states that each $1.00 pumped into jobless benefits injects $1.60 back into the economy. Seems like a worthwhile investment, no? Obama knows this as well as anyone, his arguments prior to the election were incredibly convincing and emboldened, he had a hard stance: The tax breaks for the $250K + club are bad for the economy. So, why is he bending now? He has completely betrayed his supporters. Each day it becomes more and more clear that Mrs. Clinton was correct and Obama was not ready for the big time. This is not what we put him in Washington to do.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Democrats Should Show Fight

If the Democratic party is going to stand up to the GOP at all, this is the time. Just because they won the midterm elections doesn't mean you roll over and surrender complete control to them. Do you want cooperation and support down the road? Yeah, sure. I guess. But, if it means not just extending the Bush tax cuts, but making them permanent, than under absolutely no circumstances do you allow this to happen. In fact, if these tax cuts do become permanent it will be nearly impossible for even the staunchest base Democrat supporters to have faith in anyone in public office. Period.
What do the tax cuts mean to Americans, you ask? Well, here is a very simple break down from the great Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, who writes:

Here's what [the Republicans] argue: Extend the tax cuts for the richest Americans - in fact, make them permanent. Doing so would increase the deficit by $700 billion over the next decade, but this doesn't matter. We did tell you that we're the party of fiscal responsibility, however, so to prove it we'll block the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of jobless workers. Three weeks before Christmas.

In other words, there's no additional money in the national coffers for the victims of the most devastating recession since the Great Depression. But to help investment bankers start the new year right, perhaps with a new Mercedes or a bit of sun in the Caribbean? Step right up, and we'll write you a check.

Is this the type of garbage that anyone who voted Democrat in the midterms, or has ever voted Democrat, or has any liberal leanings, or really, any common sense is going to overlook? I really don't see how it would be possible. This one, in my mind falls on Obama, he is the leader of the party. It's time to rally up the troops and crush this in its tracks.
Anybody who has taken any type of Economics course in their life, or even has any sense of how an economy works, or how real world lives are impacted by a complete halt of financial support knows that ending jobless benefits HURTS THE ECONOMY. Think about it, people without any source of revenue take the money given to them by the government and funnel it directly into the economy. This is the money they use to pay rent, buy food, clothes, gifts, make car payments, etc. How is ending that going to help the economy at all?
But, alas, -and I hate to be cynical - the Republicans are not even that clueless to think the tax relief for the wealthiest Americans is actually good for the economy. So why be so adamant it get pushed through? The answer is simple. One, it stops a Democratic agenda, weakens the presidents resume, and what they hope will limit him to one term. Not to mention their chief donators are the ones benefiting most from the tax relief. So, this one falls squarely on Obama's shoulders. The Republicans are crippling the economy, stepping on the little man, and trying to drag Obama out of office after one term. Time for Obama, and the rest of the Democrats, to show some fight and kill the bill. No pun intended. But, I liked it.