Saturday, February 28, 2009
In honor of Motown Records 50th Anniversary, here are my seven favorite Motown cuts (in no particular order)...
1. "Can't Get Next To You" (The Temptations)
2. "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
3. "Ain't That Peculiar" (Marvin Gaye)
4. "I Was Made To Love Her" (Stevie Wonder)
5. "Love Child" (Diana Ross & The Supremes)
6. "Nowhere To Run" (Martha Reeves & The Vandellas)
7. "I Want You Back" (The Jackson Five)
And, to the youngins... this was good music. (Nuff said!)
Friday, February 27, 2009
Let me get this straight. I think I'm missing something here. The Republicans have pooh-poohed President Obama's stimulus bill and the other night they pooh-poohed his budget and plans to improve our infrastructure and the housing situation. They said that this was "irresponsible spending" and proof that the Democrats are the "tax and spend party." Our deficit is now over a trillion dollars so, I'm with the Republicans on this... this is not something I want to see but, then again, I have to ask the question of why it's like this. How did all of this happen? I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here.
We know that when George W. Bush entered the White House, our economy was doing pretty good. In fact, we had a surplus. Then came the events of September 11, 2001 and both parties, Republican and Democratic, gave President Bush a blank check to spend as he saw fit to fight "THE WAR ON TERRORISM", which is as vague as Superman saying that he is fighting "THE WAR AGAINST EVIL". It's not structured, has no boundaries, and no perceivable ending.
Can I be real here for a minute? I know I'm going to piss some people off here but, no Republicans and certainly no Democrats said anything to George W. Bush about irresponsible spending during the first three years of that war. Nobody is saying anything about the spending we are still doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan to this day... building roads, bridges, schools, etc. that get blown up by terrorists shortly after they are built and then, rebuilt in a country that has money. I don't hear any hue and cry about that.
Yet, here is a president that at least talks about building roads, fixing bridges, building schools, making health care available, and other things here on our soil and people can fix their mouths to say that it's irresponsible spending? Are they serious? I'm willing to say that we wouldn't be in this much red to begin with if not for the irresponsible spending of the previous administration.
Iraq is part of the Muslim world. How come nobody has asked Iran or better yet, Saudi, Arabia to kick in and contribute all of their resources to rebuilding Iraq's infra-structure? I am surprised that not one of these conservative "country first" Republicans have not been screaming about that. The Saudi's have plenty of money to go around... especially, since they've been soaking us with oil prices for years.
I mean, does that make sense to you? What world are these Republicans living in? Am I wrong? Am I looking at it from a simplistic or naive viewpoint? I think there is a parallel world and some people are stuck in it... and, obviously have no clue as to what is going on in this world.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Starting with Germany, my travels took me to France, England, Italy, Bosnia, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, and Mexico. At first, my motivation for going was purely because of the money and I got paid more for overseas trips (per diem). As I got older, my motivation became knowledge and that is what brings me to the reason for this post.
It has occurred to me that a lot of the guys I grew up with (and a lot of Americans period) have never really been anywhere. I know some guys here who have never been anywhere but Atlantic City... and, if you live in New York or Philadelphia, you know that that's not far. Some folks haven't been out of their neighborhood and it's a shame because, when you limit yourself to just your surroundings and to people who look and think like you, you limit yourself to a whole world of possibilities. I think everybody who can, should travel to some place different at least once a year. If you can go to another country, even if it's in this hemisphere but, by all means do so.
I didn't come from a wealthy family... my beginnings were quite humble. I would say that we were lower middle class at best but, I was able to use the opportunities that were available to get a college education and travel to other countries. I will say that getting out of Philadelphia and seeing how other people lived changed my thinking a lot. For one thing, I began to appreciate what I have in America a lot more. I've been in countries where people of my particular class can't even dream of owning a house or where three square meals a day is a major achievement and not an expectation.
I've also learned enough of the native languages to talk to the common people in these lands. One thing I learned is that, in most countries, it's not so much that they hate the American people... they hate American policies and alliances with governments that are holding them down. I've also seen some Americans go to these countries and disrespect the customs of the people there and treat these people as if their ways are beneath them and backwards. This goes a long way to understanding why some Americans are not thought of in such a good light by some people in some countries.
The average American citizen living in "inner city America" or "small town America" who has never been outside of their area, doesn't understand it when he sees people in Pakistan or Iraq burning American flags or burning our former president's image in effigy. They just think that these people are ignorant and hateful. They have no idea what is sometimes done abroad in their name at any given time by people representing our government.
Many people were stunned on September 11, 2001 and they really didn't understand that there are people who hate America, whether justified or not abroad. Just as many people are shocked that our "little recession" is being felt around the world. The reason why is because they don't understand the global markets and how they are all interwoven... that doesn't make interesting reading. Nobody I know personally reads a foreign newspaper or watches a foreign news station. If you have cable, BBC News is broadcasted nightly as well as Spanish News and Japanese news. It's all on basic cable and I watch everything. I have a natural curiosity and I like to know how other countries report the same things that I see on CNN.
In this millennium, with what is going on now, I think it would be good for every American to start thinking globally... to make it his or her business to read just a little of what is being reported in other countries. To learn about the global markets and how they effect you. And, if you can't do anything else, take a vacation somewhere out of the United States, talk to people, and consider another point of view. We can't afford xenophobia any longer.
(That's why I went to college... so I could throw around cool words like that and dumbfound mah friends. Just joking!)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
You know, I can't tell you how many times a woman has said to me, "I've got to lose some weight." I would reply, "What are you talkin' about? You look fine. Besides, men like a woman with a little junk in their trunk." The woman would then say to me, "It doesn't matter what y'all like. What matters is how I feel." Of course, I couldn't understand that and I didn't have any concept of what the woman meant. I've heard this and had that conversation several times and with several different women.
This morning, I weighed myself after I got out of the shower and I didn't like the results. I'm 224 lbs. I stand at 6' 1 + 1/4" so, that probably sounds better than it looks and better than I feel. Now, I understand what all of those women must have meant. About a month ago, I was so proud of myself, because I had lost weight and was down to 215 lbs., with a goal of being 200 lbs. by my birthday. It wasn't a "resolution" because I don't make 'em and it was an "achievable goal".
In between the time I last blogged about it, I suppose I've gotten just a little bit too leisurely. It's cold and when it's cold, I tend to stay in the house, eat a little bit more, and fall asleep on the couch, in my bed, or wherever. As it gets warmer, I know I'll be out and about more... swimming, on my bike, (which is in my garage, gathering dust right now), and walking up to the track, the Chinese store, over the bridge... everywhere more.
I'm no longer going to put a time limit on when I get down to 200 lbs. I'm just gonna do it (especially since it now looks like I'm not going to make it by my birthday). It's also back to fresh fruits and water in the morning, salads for lunch, and then a hot meal for dinner. No red meat (although, I haven't been eating any), a lot of poultry, some will power and no more power naps...
Stayed tuned for the next "progress report".
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Unfortunately, death did NOT take a holiday in Philadelphia this weekend...
1. Domestic Dispute Leaves Woman Dead and Child Stabbed:
An unidentified 30 year old man stabbed his 31 year old girlfriend, Yolanda Pickett, to death and when her 11 year old daughter tried to intervene, he stabbed her as well, according to police. The enraged man then lit himself on fire while lighting the entire house on fire too, officials said. Police found both adults dead in an upstairs bedroom.
The argument began around 10:00am in 2300 block of North 13th Street in Philadelphia. Three children, two of whom were Pickett's, were in the house at the time of the dispute. Two other children in the home ran to a neighbor's house to try and get help. The neighbor said he found Pickett's 11 year old daughter outside the house bleeding from her wounds. The injured child was taken to Christopher's Hospital for Children. Neighbors and friends gathered near the crime scene Saturday night for a candlelight vigil to remember the mother and pray for the recovery of her daughter.
2. Woman Shot More Than 10 Times (4 year old daughter also in car):
A 29 year old woman was shot and killed right in front of her 4 year old daughter Saturday night in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, according to police.
The shooting occurred in a KFC parking lot at North Clarissa Street and W. Hunting Park Avenue, police said. Laurossa Gonzalez was shot more than 10 times in the head, neck, and torso inside of a car and left at the scene. The car, which was found abandoned a few blocks away, was towed away late Saturday night. Gonzalez's 30 year old boyfriend, Willie Scott, is behind bars and has been charged with murder and reckless endangerment. Gonzalez's 4 year old daughter was not hurt and is being taken care of by family members.
These two horrific crimes occurred over the weekend in my "fair" city. As disturbing and uber-violent as they are, what is more stunning is that nobody is shocked or outraged by these incidents. This type of thing seems to be par the course for city living.
There was a time, probably before I was born, when one of these two events, if not both, would have been front page news and people would have been talking and outraged. Nobody is too outraged and most people read these two stories while they were having their morning coffee and said, "Oh well, who won the Oscars last night?"
There was a time when I would have said that the mainstream white population doesn't care because these incidents involved African Americans and Latinos. The truth is, the African American and Latino community doesn't care either so, that takes race out of the equation. Regardless, these were human beings and when a human life is lost like this, it cheapens all of us. We all seem to be numb to these types of goings on.
Cain answered the Lord, when he asked him where his slain brother Abel was by saying, "Am I my brother's keeper? I don't know the answer to that but, it would be nice if the answer to that was yes. This numbness... this social novocaine... is killing me.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Most of the older men that I observed in my family could cook (if they had to). I don't think any of them cook as much as I do. My wife and I have an arrangement where we trade off nights Sunday through Thursday... I cook one night and she cooks the next night (no one cooks on Friday and Saturday nights). Whoever doesn't cook on a given night, washes the dishes and cleans the kitchen. It's an unconventional arrangement but, one that has lasted throughout 20 years of marriage.
I didn't set out to cook at all. Like most things in my life, it happened by circumstance and accident. The circumstance was, I just got plain bored with shop classes in high school. In 9th grade, I had electric shop, which was kinda cool. In 10th grade, I think I had wood shop, which I hated. When I wasn't nicking myself, I was dropping something or breaking something. The teacher always joked that it was good that I planned on going to college because I'd never be a carpenter. Another year though, and I'd have made one heck of an electrician. I was friends with this girl and she suggested that I try a home economics class. I thought she was kidding and besides, that was for girls. No guys would be caught dead in one of those classes.
Before you think that I was some pioneer or some kind of "negro first", forget it. There was two guys from the football team and one guy from the basketball team already taking home economics. They were taking the class because their girlfriends were in the class. I didn't have that excuse but, I certainly was tired of my experiences in wood shop and hey, there were some pretty attractive young ladies (the entire cheerleading squad, to be exact) in the class so, come junior year, I enrolled in a home economics class.
There was another guy in my class who lettered in football, track, and basketball and who (like myself) was a ne'er do well. We became fast friends and since we were both on the track team, we sat together in the class. (Today he's a cop and I don't think he cooks.) He was a clown and he did things on purpose to get a laugh... like toss dough up on the ceiling and then, laugh when it fell off and hit someone. Strangely enough though, I applied myself and finally, in addition to being good at track, I had found something else that I could do. We made Quiche Lorraine, pizza, pancakes, and for our final project...we baked a cake. My cake fell but, the teacher was impressed with my effort and this was the beginning of cooking for me.
My brother and I took a summer job at a Jewish summer camp and we both cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinners for children ages 5-15. We took another guy with us but, he did more skirt-chasing and joint-smoking than cooking. From there, this lead to more jobs as a short order cook when I needed some quick cash. I may have liked to cook but, I still never intended to be one. It was and still is a side thing... a side skill that I have and insurance that I'll never starve.
In the Air Force, I worked in the Port Mortuary. I put tags on the feet of the recently deceased and made that dreadful call that nobody likes to get to somebody's parents or next of kin, telling them that their relative was no longer amongst the living. It was depressing and after the death of a 21 year old guy, who I had known in passing, I knew that I never wanted to see another dead body, process another form, or call another relative so, I cross-trained into the cooking field. The Air Force sent me to their school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, CO, where I was trained extensively for four months and I graduated close to the top of my class.
I cooked in large facilities for both the Air Force and The Navy and by the time I was 30 years old, I was supervising my own crew... which meant, I just prepared the menu and they did the actual cooking. I got bored with that and cross-trained again. This time it was arms training... firing the M-16, the M-38, and the M-45. I taught the safe usage of the weapons for about three years and had to qualify on all three weapons every six months. I enjoyed it but, during the last 10 years of my time in the Air Force, I returned to supervising the dining facilities and cooking. I found that I loved it and there was no shame in doing it. It had it's perks. I got to travel anywhere and with any unit that wanted to eat, which was everybody. So, I got to do something else I came to love... travel.
As proud as I was of what I could do in the kitchen, I remember the first time I brought my then fiancé over to my house for a meal. We got to laughing and talking so much that the meal got away from me and when I looked in the oven, the "meal" was black enough to poot smoke. She was cool about it and we wound up having a happy meal from McDonald's. The next time she came over I did better... I fixed a delicious spaghetti dinner (easiest thing to fix) for her and as far as I know, I haven't burned a meal that I've prepared for her since!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
There are still serious issues to discuss and serious posts to write but, this isn't going to be one of them. It's Saturday!
I went to see Friday the 13th yesterday because I was chilling out. "Madea Goes To Jail" was sold out and I just wanted some "mindless" fun (the emphasis here being on mindless). This Friday the 13th didn't disappoint... it was as mindless and cliched as a motion picture could be.
You know, I saw the original Friday the 13th (1980) and, believe it or not, it was actually a very good movie. It had a believable plot and the story kept you engrossed and actually scared you. This was probably the first of what was to become known as the "slash and dash" genre. Jason wasn't in the original Friday the 13th. For those of you who have never seen original, I suggest you rent it.
Jason was mentioned... he was a little boy who drowned in 1958, because the randy young camp counselors were having sex (in 1958?) and not paying attention to him. Twenty-two years later, his mother, who was built like one of the linebackers on the Pittsburg Steelers and still upset about her son drowning, went on a killing spree on Friday the 13th. She killed young randy campers who probably were just being born the year that Jason "bought it" in the lake.
It was a great horror movie except, they had to make a sequel! If you saw the original, you know that Jason's mother really lost her head. Seriously, she was beheaded at the end of the movie. So, they decided to bring Jason up from the bottom of the lake. I suppose he was about 29 years old by that time and really pissed off that he was left for dead so many years ago. So, he takes up where mommy left off... ("Kill them, mommy. Kill them!!!")
For a guy that's been at the bottom of a lake, Jason looks like hell and I suppose that's why he wears the hockey mask (even he can't stand the way he looks). He's also an Olympic athlete in that, he can catch young campers a generation younger than him, slaughter them with ease, and in the most gruesome ways. And, that's because they are busy having sex.
It never fails... in all thirteen Friday the 13th movies that follow, Jason kills kids after they finish having sex, smoking a doobie, or sitting on the toilet. He even leaves Crystal Lake, goes to Manhattan, goes to Hell, and then reappears in outer space. That's how ridiculous the sequels got.
So, here comes this one... the new movie. It takes place right now in 2009 at Crystal Lake. The new crew of doomed campers features a Black guy, an Asian guy, and several sexy, young blonde females who are going to have sex only with the two white guys who came along on the trip. From the first time I see this crew I know one thing... that only one of them was going to make it through this movie.
Well, I was wrong about that but, that's only because there is another girl, already trapped in the woods, who is going to make it. I knew that both the Black guy and the Asian guy were not going to be having sex with these white girls and I was right about that. I also knew that neither of them was going to make it through this movie alive and I was right again.
As for the girls in the movie, one who was a little too eager to shed her clothes with a guy she barely knows was going to die. Another girl, who can't wait until the host's girlfriend is off the scene before bedding him, is going to die. The joint smoking loser, the stuck up host, and an innocent naive cop who is foolish enough to come out there by himself are also going to die. Where was this cop for the past 29 years? Did he not see any of the other movies?
Hell, I wish I hadn't seen this one!
Friday, February 20, 2009
I plan to finish reading "The Right Mistake" by Walter Mosley, a novel I purchased about a month ago...
I think I'll finally listen to the new CDs by Musiq Soulchild, Keyshia Cole, and Anthony Hamilton that I got for Christmas...
I also have a bottle of wine that one of my cousins gave me for Christmas that I really enjoyed. I actually enjoyed their bottle. I never opened mine so, I think I'll have some of that too!
Unless inspiration hits me, I'll give blogging a break for the weekend too. But, you know me... I'm liable to renig on that one at anytime. It's quite obvious now that I'm addicted to this medium. Here I am writing a post about relaxing and not writing a post. Well, I've got to hand it to myself, this is an original. I defy anyone else to tell me where they can find something like this.
I've already written three paragraphs more than I intended to write so, I'm off to enjoy my Friday and my weekend. Have a blessed weekend everyone and don't stand too close to any monkeys. (I couldn't resist that!)
The Maverick of all Bloggers has left the keyboard, for now...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You can say a lot of things about Al Sharpton (who thought that this cartoon was racist in nature) but, you can't call him wrong on this one. I think he got it right. ... Making fun of the (any) president is one of our rights. I've certainly made a lot of fun of the last few men who have sat in the White House. It comes with the territory. However, Racist, hateful cartoons with a hint of calling for an assassination does not... this is reprehensible and the cartoonist ought to be ashamed of himself.
I wasn't going to blog about this dumb cartoon today. I know that people all over the blogosphere are probably weighing in on it as I write this. Being the "Maverick of all Bloggers" and also being emotionally and intellectually drained after writing my last two posts, (I did a lot of research on those last two posts) I was just going to coast today and write something smurfy but, I find that I have to say something.
This cartoon is obviously racist. The cartoonist thought he was being cute and whatever he was trying to say, obviously got by a whole lot of people. The editor of the New York Post is on the wrong side of history. He's an apologist and a very bad businessman. This could cost him a lot of revenue and one thing the traditional news media is... it's a business. You don't want to be losing revenue in this day and time, because you've pissed off a large segment of the paying public with an unecessarily nasty cartoon. Bloggers like me, who provide information for free because we are passionate about writing and sharing, could sound the death knell of your newspaper because of something just like this. I'm sure that as I write this, computers and BlackBerrys are buzzing with outrage about this cartoon... that cartoon... that damned cartoon. Hmmmm!!!
This said, I leave it to your interpretation of what the cartoonist meant in the above cartoon. Do you all think it is racist, blog fam? I personally think it was mean spirited but, that's just me. When you become president, comedians, cartoonists, journalists, and bloggers are going to take their shots at you. It's part of the game. We've all got to get a thicker skin and we've got to learn to fight back. Any Rush Limbaugh parodies out there? I can think of a few. Shame I can't draw.
(Special thanks to The F$%K it List for bringing this to my attention!)
P.S. If YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY... BOYCOTT THE NEW YORK POST!!! This is how you let people like that know that you don't support this. Don't support people and institutions that do not support you!!!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Apparently, investors around the world still do not have any faith just yet that America is back in business again. Probably, because it's not. Ailing banks, nearly bankrupt auto makers, tumbling home prices/values, and broke desperate individuals (like myself) who are watching every dollar and not so apt to spend anything right now are the reasons why they don't have faith and the reasons why, stimulus bill or not, nothing is going to change just yet.
General Motors and Chrysler had the nerve to ask for another bailout. General Motors says it needs $16.6 billion more in taxpayer money to survive. Chrysler is requesting an additional $5 billion and says it will cut 3,000 more jobs. (What did they do with the money they were already given?) As I said, we are still in a recession and there might not be any signs of a light at the end of this tunnel until the middle of the summer.
One thing economists fear is rapid deflation or falling prices. On the surface, falling prices look good for you and I but, if they continue to fall, that leads to lower wages due to lower profits and companies will wind up slashing their capital investments, which ultimately leads to more layoffs and brings us right back to where we started.
The positives about yesterday's Stimulus bill are tax breaks for families that send a child to college, possibly $13.00 more in your paycheck starting in June, couples will receive $800.00 back in their income tax returns, a $1,000 a child tax credit for low income families, and an $8,000 tax credit for first time homeowners.
If you have lost your job and subsequently lost your healthcare too, it will now be cheaper to hold on to that coverage while you're looking for your next gig.
For the first time in years, that pothole on a stretch of bad highway or road that broke your axle or realigned your car for you will be repaved. The steel on that bridge will be reinforced, and a new school might be built right over that bridge for your children to go to. If your kid is going to college, you or your child will be eligible for up to $2,500 to help pay tuition and related expenses in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010.
Finally, all green things like energy efficient windows, furnaces, etc. will make you eligible for a 30% tax credit towards the cost of the materials.
Good stuff, huh? Well, here is the bad. The National Debt will still be high... over a trillion dollars. Like it or not, your children and grandchildren will be footing the cost of the Stimulus bill regardless of whether it jumpstarts the American economy or not. The saddest thing of all is that America, who used to lend everybody money, will now be forced to borrow money from China and other countries.
This recession is like war... easy to get into and hard as hell to get out of... and our futures will continue to tumble like tumbling dice within it. It's still winter in America but, buck up... summer's coming. Ronald Reagan told me so.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Thanks to the party line (i.e. Partisan) nature of Congress's votes on the economic stimulus package, the plan to turn around the worst financial crisis facing the country in more than 50 years, now carries not only enormous fiscal stakes but also political stakes that are nearly as large. Not one Republican in Congress voted for the bill. President Obama tried to woo some of them but, the bottom line is... they were elected by people who have no intention of siding with President Obama on anything and that isn't going to change anytime soon.
President Obama's advisers are betting that the historic legislation he signs today will bear fruit quickly and they plan to do everything they can to highlight evidence of it creating the jobs he has promised. That public relations effort kicks off some time today as a two-day swing through the West begins. But, the Republican Party has made its own bet: That the stimulus package the Democrats rushed through Congress will be deemed a failure by the time the 2010 elections arrive, leading voters to rebuke President Obama and reward the GOP with much-needed victories. (Whining and wishful thinking on their part. I hope the American people see just who is Bi-partisan and who is not.)
Whatever side proves to be right, the sharp, partisan lines over the stimulus bill make it plain that both parties intend to exact a political cost over last week's votes... and, their leaders are looking to history for inspiration as they consider how to maneuver in the weeks and months ahead.
The Democratic guide will be Franklin D. Roosevelt, who even with unemployment still above 20%, led House Democrats to pick up 9 seats in the 1934 mid-term elections. Senate majority whip Richard J. Durbin (Democrat-Illinois) carries with him a book called "Traitor To His Class," a new biography of how FDR built the Democratic domination that endured for three decades.
But, the House minority whip Eric Cantor (Republican-Virginia), who led the fight to deny President Obama every Republican vote for the plan, is studying Winston Churchill's role in leading the Tories in the late 1930s, a principled minority that was eventually catapulted into power over the Labor Party. He calls the stimulus bill "a stinker." (I could call him a few things but, I'm trying to be civil and objective here.)
If the economy turns around, President Obama could eventually benefit much as Bill Clinton did after pushing his economic recovery plan through Congress in 1993 with very little to no Republican support.
Though it was far smaller than President Obama's bill, Clinton's plan was nonetheless controversial at the time, requiring Vice-President Al Gore to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Republicans insisted then that the bill would be an albatross around Clinton's neck. And, they succeeded in using the controversial tax increases to help them sweep into power in the mid-term elections of 1994, when Newt Gingrich (Republican-Georgia) led a revolution of young and conservative House members. Remember the laughable "Contract With America"? Where is it and where are those clowns now? For that matter, has anyone seen Newt Gingrich lately? (I could've sworn I saw him with Elvis at the 7 Eleven last night.)
But, when the sluggish economy began to soar several years later, Clinton claimed full credit (as well he should have) and used Republican opposition to the legislation as fuel for his successful bid for re-election. Now, it is President Obama's turn and the political stakes, like the mammoth bill itself, are much larger. He has acknowledged that little else he does in the next four years will affect his legacy if jobs and prosperity have not returned.
President Obama told a crowd in Fort Myers, FL last week... "Now, look... I won't lie to you. If it turns out that a few years from now, people don't feel like the economy's turned around, we're still having problems, folks are still unemployed, and our health care system's not more efficient, then, you know, you guys won't applaud me the next time I come down here."
President Obama has never shied away from calling the stimulus package "my bill" while stumping for it around the country. With only three Republicans supporting the measure in Friday's votes, there is almost no political cover for him if it doesn't work.
And, Republicans have made it clear that they intend to try and shift the economic debate toward concern about the federal deficit. They are also preparing to use the ballooning deficit to renew their push for additional tax cuts. Groups including the Club for Growth (Growth of what? More economic downturns? Give me a break!) and GOP leaders such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich say such cuts would do more to improve the economy than the spending plan would. (The operative words were "former House Speaker".)
Gingrich said in an interview, "The Republicans' job is to say, here's a model we know is going to work. If they do that, they will be astonished at how good 2010 will be. Democrats have taken a huge gamble. I can't imagine them spending $780 billion without so many examples of waste and corruption. Big bureaucratic spending... it never works." This from the party that got the country in this mess. Then, what does work? Trickle down economics? Give the fat cats tax breaks and they'll create more jobs? Tried that... didn't work! Come again, Newt. Better yet, don't. In the words of my grandmother, go somewhere, sit down, and shut up!
These same Republicans rarely worried aloud about the deficit during the spending spree of George W. Bush's presidency, as Bush largely ignored the mounting red ink as he waged war in Iraq and battled terrorism. Many conservative Republicans, including Senator John McCain (Arizona), blamed last year's congressional and presidential losses on the lack of fiscal discipline shown by their party under Bush's leadership. (Hmmmmm!)
But, the massive stimulus plan has given Republicans a political opportunity to try to erase the memory of those years by convincing the country that they have found religion again when it comes to spending. (Don't make me laugh!)
Cantor says bluntly that President Obama and the Democrats have decided to "assume ownership of the era of the bailout." And, he predicted that voters will recoil at the prospect of huge, growing deficits and an increase in the size and role of the federal government in their lives. He said Saturday, "I think the 2010 elections certainly will be a test for the mandate of change that this administration was elected with. I do think that there will be a price to pay."
But, some Republicans worry that it could be their party paying that price. Senator Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), one of the three Republicans who voted for the legislation, said the GOP risks becoming "the party of Hoover," echoing a warning that Vice-President Richard B. Cheney delivered last year during negotiations over the Bush administration's rescue of the auto industry.
After President Herbert Hoover left office in 1933, amid the economic rubble of The Great Depression, Specter noted... "Not until Eisenhower came up decades later, did a Republican win the presidency, and he was a war hero."
In the coming weeks, if the stimulus package works as Democrats have described, federal money flowing into state coffers may allow many governors to announce that fewer layoffs are necessary. Construction projects that were delayed could start up again, providing much-needed work for laid-off construction workers. Consumer confidence could rebound, sending people to the stores again.
President Obama will be poised to take credit for such successes and he will, regardless of whether they are a result of the legislation he passed or not. This is just the spoils going to the winner. It's the nature of the beast.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) said shortly after the bill passed the House on Friday... "We stand as Democrats ready to be accountable to the American people for this legislation and for the results we predict it will bring."
Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, predicted just that kind of Democratic bragging in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal late last week... "If history is a guide, sometime late this year or early next year, the economy will rebound on its own. When that happens, Democrats will argue that their un-targeted, permanent spending actually revived the economy." (Like you guys wouldn't do the same thing!)
If Rove is right, Republicans could find themselves answering uncomfortable questions from their constituents about their no votes. In the meantime, much depends on which party succeeds in shaping public opinion about the effect of the legislation. The President's aides appeared yesterday on morning news programs to begin lowering expectations. Press secretary Robert Gibbs warned on CNN's "State of the Union" that it will take time before people see improvement in their lives.
Gibbs said, "I think it's safe to say that things have not yet bottomed out. They are probably going to get worse before they improve. But, this is a big step forward toward making that improvement and putting people back to work." For his part, Rove believes the 2010 elections could be a victory for the GOP. "The President won this legislative battle," he said in a Wall Street Journal column, "but at a high price -- fiscally and politically." It would have been an even higher price if he had not of fought aggressively for the passing of this bill and allowed our economy to slide even further down the toilet.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Well, the weekend is over and I hope that everyone had a very Happy Valentine's Day. For once, just once, I wasn't "Last Minute Lester". There were years when I just picked my wife up from work and walked into three or four "tony" (I always keep it "tony" on Valentine's Day) restaurants only to be told... "I'm sorry sir, we're all booked. You should've called for reservations." We had to hope for a little luck, mixed with divine intervention, to get into a nice spot.
Last year, three days before V-Day, I realized that I hadn't made any reservations so I said, "Forget it. It's too cold to even go out so, I'm going to do something original." I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and bought new silverware and plates. Then, I went to the State Store and purchased a bottle of wine. Next, I went to the market and had them to cook some seasoned shrimp and scallops. While I was waiting for that, I purchased some lamb chops, potatoes, and some fresh lettuce and vegetables for a nice salad.
Long story short, when my wife came home, I had the candles lit and a nice meal cooked that included lamb chops, shrimps, scallops, au gratin potatoes, salad, and a bottle of wine chillin' in the refrigerator. I had the remote control in my hand and I hit the CD player which began playing "Just To Be Close To You" by The Commodores... one of her favorite songs. She was surprised, to say the least, and happy. When you calculate it all, I may have spent the same amount of money if we had went out. The night was just as fabulous and better still because it was original. But, that was last year...
This year, I called and made reservations at a nice restaurant like I was supposed to do. (Ahhh, the wonders of Microsoft Outlook and its reminders!) With the reservations made and confirmed days ahead, I was free to get that fresh haircut, get my clothes ready, buy a V-Day card, and gas-up the car for the occasion. As a result, yesterday went off without a hitch. We enjoyed a delicious meal by candle light at a very nice spot, saw a small jazz band, and had a delightful "Clark Gable"-like conversation (I was "Dark Gable").
If you were expecting somebody to take their shoes off, pull out their teeth, or anything else bizarre, you are reading the wrong post. It didn't happen last night and we had a very nice time. I may need some of the money from President Obama's stimulus package to help pay my Visa bill next month, though. (I'm kidding... well, not completely!)
Saturday, February 14, 2009
friend emailed to me. I hope you all enjoy it...
A woman rubbed a bottle and out popped a genie. The amazed woman asked if she got three wishes. The genie said, "Nope, sorry. Three-wish genies are a storybook myth. I'm a one-wish genie. So, what'll it be?" The woman did not hesitate. She said, "I want peace in the Middle East. See this map? I want these countries to stop fighting with each other and I want all the Arabs to love the Jews and Americans and vice-versa. It will bring about world peace and harmony."
The genie looked at the map and exclaimed, "Lady, be reasonable. These countries have been at war for thousands of years. I'm out of shape after being in a bottle for five hundred years. I'm good, but not THAT good! I don't think it can be done. Make another wish and please be reasonable."
The woman thought for a minute and said, "Well, I've never been able to find the right man. You know... one that's considerate, fun, romantic, likes to cook, helps with the house cleaning, is good in bed, gets along with my family, doesn't watch sports all the time, and is faithful. That is what I wish for... a good man." The genie let out a sigh, rolled his eyes, and said... "Let me see the damn map again!"
Friday, February 13, 2009
I have a couple of friends who will be alone this Valentine's Day because they just recently broke up with their significant other. So, if you're in that category, I hope this unfortunately true story from out of my past will at least give you a much needed laugh...
As I may have stated, I have worked many jobs. In between college and the military, I had a job at a shoe store in the mall for a hot minute selling women's shoes. It didn't pay anywhere near the kind of money I needed but, I got to talk and socialize with a variety of women and hang out with the other former college students (like myself) who were working minimum wage jobs to start paying off those hefty student loans. Jobs that were once going to teenagers were now going to us twenty-somethings who were just coming out of college and entering a recession. (Why does that time period remind me so much of today's world?)
Valentine's Day was coming up and I had just got my first paycheck from this job. It was very disappointing but, I was still living with my parents then so, I was able to keep most of it. I had a date with one of the girls who worked in the bank and the date with her depended on if I could hook her girlfriend up with a date too. My date's girlfriend was attractive but, she and her boyfriend had recently split up and she was facing sitting at home alone on V-Day.
All of my other running buddies in the mall had dates so, the only person I could think of to hook her girlfriend up with was a guy I'll call Clem who worked in the Children's Place. Like all of us, Clem had a degree, had come home from Lincoln University, was hit with student loans, and had to take a job as a cashier at the Children's Place to start paying off those loans and not default. Nobody I knew had gone to college without a student loan... grants and scholarships were far and few between us.
I didn't really know Clem, except to speak and occasionally talk about sports during lunch break. Most of the guys in the mall would either go to Burger King (where I also worked on the weekends sometimes) or McDonalds to sit, eat, and chat. I approached him and pointed out the girl he would be taking out and he readily agreed. The date was set up and I went to get my suit out of the cleaners.
There was something about Clem that bugged me though... he had little nervous twitches and little weird habits that sometimes I overlooked but I felt that a girl would notice. I thought about it and then I figured... well, I'm not the one going out with him.
The four of us went to see Luther Vandross (I still can't believe that he is gone...) that night. I remember because he was a relatively new singer then. His first album, "Never Too Much", was out and he was touring with Angela Bofill, for those ol' skool R&B heads out there who remember her. Luther gave out plastic roses that lit up to all of the women in the audience that night and the roses were $8.00. The first thing I noticed about Clem... he was cheap. He yelled out, "Eight dollars! Do I get a drink too?"
Both of the girls kinda gave him the side eye. Then, he whispered to me..."Uh, yo player. Listen here. Can you help me out? She's kinda lookin' like she wants one of those damn cheap ass light up roses." He could've been a little more discreet because she heard him and saw me pass him some money so he could buy her one of the roses. However, the biggest shocker of the night was yet to come...
We left the concert which was on Broad Street at the Merriam Theatre and walked down to 17th Street. Today, there is a modern state of the art office complex on that street called Liberty Place, which has a very "tony" mall inside that houses Victoria's Secret, J-Crew, and several other establishments. But, back then (in the 80's), there were several movie theatres and clubs on that street.
One club we frequented was called Blueberry Hill and it was notorious for it's "buy one, get three" drink specials. (I sure miss Blueberry Hill!) We found a table and because it was Valentine's Day, you can imagine that was not an easy thing to do. We sat down and Clem decides to take his shoes off! We all gave him the side eye but, little did we know, it would get worse. After a few drinks, he got a little too comfortable and took his teeth out!!! Yeah, took 'em out and laid them on the table!!!
Okay, I'm going to stop right here... I said that I didn't know him that well. I certainly didn't know that he had false teeth and I didn't know he was going to take them out and lay them on the table. I have memories of being a little kid and some relative would take their false teeth out, put them in a jar of water, and leave them in the bathroom. I would walk in, see that, and was traumatized. I would run out crying and screaming. So, here I was, a grown man and reliving this experience with Clem.
All I remember is that my mouth dropped to the ground and I heard a sound that sounded like a girl screaming. It wasn't me... it was Clem's date! My date put her hand over her mouth and dropped her head. I didn't know if she was crying or laughing. I looked at him and started cussing. I won't write what I said but, I asked him in no uncertain terms if he had lost his mind and would he please put his teeth back in his mouth!
Like all bizarre people, he couldn't see what he did wrong. What he did was ruin any future I could've had with this girl (I can't even remember their names now). I never did go out with her again and her girlfriend demanded to go home right after that happened. I was a gentlemen to the end... I gave both of them cab fare and apologized profusely.
I don't know to this day if they blamed me for the way he acted or not. All I know is this... the next day, I was broke, didn't have a woman, and thoroughly embarrassed. Now, I needed a drink and couldn't afford one. The only good thing that happened that Valentine's Day is, I got to see Luther Vandross during his first tour to Philadelphia so, the night wasn't a complete bust... but, I've certainly had better Valentine's Days!
Enjoy the weekend everybody and...
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I thought I might be forced to blog about an incident involving a certain young celebrity couple that occurred in the wee hours of the morning between Saturday and Sunday but, fortunately today I won't have to. If I know right, the subject is probably being discussed on a number of other blogs so, I'll hold my commentary on that subject until all of the facts are out. Instead, I'm going to talk about a person of interest that I ran into today. I have never named this person but, I did write two blog posts last year with this person's lifestyle in mind and the affect that it had on me (see Related Posts links below).
This person, who attended college with me for awhile and majored in journalism as I did, was actually living the life that I wanted for myself. He actually did something with his degree. He was doing freelance writing for a couple of credible magazines (at least that's what he told me at the time). He set his own hours, didn't really answer to anybody, and when in New York or Los Angeles, he got to hobnob with athletes, rappers, and actors that I could never dream of even meeting. That was living large in my eyes and that was the life I once desired for myself.
Well, yesterday I happened to run into my friend in the train station where I was sampling some strong Cuban coffee and reading the newspaper, while bringing my blog up on a co-worker's BlackBerry and doing my best imitation of 12Klye-lololol! He asked me if my job was "hiring" and I was shocked! The guy who was me or who I thought I would be was asking about a straight job?
He went on to say that he hadn't had a decent writing gig for a while and his bank account was starting to shrink. He and his girlfriend had broken up and he had to move out of the Brownstone they shared in New York City and return here to Philly. (He's actually from Chester but, has no desire to move back there.) He said he was currently staying with a young lady we knew from college but, wearing out his welcome there.
I asked him if he had any celebrity friends who could help him out because he had once shown me photos of himself with people like Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, Charles Barkley, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Nas, Stevie Wonder, etc. He said that he didn't really know them and that he had just been at events where they were and posed in pictures with them (not at all how he portrayed himself to me last fall, when he was in town last).
And, what about all the cool clothes, the nice car, and the electronic toys he had? He had to sell the car... he still had the wardrobe ("Da gear is real man, you know I was always about the gear!")... as for the electronic "toys", he still had his BlackBerry but little else. He told me that practically all but one of his five credit cards was maxed out and he was just about at the end of his rope.
I felt bad for my former college associate but, not so bad about myself anymore. I know, that's horrible and I'm going to psychic hell for that but, I'm just keepin' it real... that's how I felt at the moment. I still would've liked meeting all of those people, being invited to a bunch of free events like he had, and living to write about them but, maybe I don't have it so bad after all. My credit cards aren't maxed out (I hardly use them) and I have a roof over my head. I'm married and not living with some girl. Best of all (for the time being), I'm still gainfully employed. (Knock on wood.)
I gave him a couple of bucks and my cell phone number. I also took his cell phone number and told him I would keep my nose open and give him a call if I saw or heard anything. He told me that he had gotten in touch with a few other people we went to college with and they told him the same thing. He has a pretty extensive resume so maybe, even in this bad economy, he can find something sooner rather than later.
We said our goodbyes and my co-worker and I left to get the bus to work. I looked up at the sky and pondered for just a second, how the grass does appear greener on the other man's lawn sometimes.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
When it came time for questions and answers, this silly reporter gets up and asks him, "Mr. President, what is your take on A-Rod and the steroid scandal?" A-ROD??? A-ROD??? WHO CARES ABOUT A-ROD right now??? Are you serious, man??? Was it me or, if you saw that, were you as stunned as I was??? This is the President of the United States, giving an address about the economy, during what is being called the worst economic disaster since The Great Depression and you're asking him about A-ROD??? This isn't SportsCenter, man!!!
Okay, I'm calm now. I just had to let that out. What is it with reporters and stupid questions? Just like last year during the presidential debates... someone asked Obama why he didn't wear the U.S. flag tie clip or some foolishness. I think I blogged about that too. Do they think they're being cute or are they really that stupid?
Was it me or were you shaking your head too?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
A guy sees a woman in a bar. He sends her a drink. She smiles at him. He sends her another drink. She accepts the second drink, lifts her hand in a toast, and drinks his second drink. He sends her a third drink and a fourth drink. Each time, she smiles at him and enjoys the drink. Around this time, he walks over to where she is sitting to begin a conversation. As he does, another guy walks over to her... a guy who hasn't spent a dime on her. She smiles at the guy and begins talking to him. They both get up and walk out of the bar. The guy who just bought the four drinks feels like the biggest fool known to man.
The next week, the same guy sees another woman in the same bar that he finds attractive. He sends her a drink. She not only smiles but, she winks at him. He smiles back and lifts his glass to her in a toast. A few minutes pass and he sends her another drink. She smiles at him warmly so, he sends her yet another drink. She smiles at him and he sends her one more drink. They are both smiling at each other now and he walks over to her. She introduces him to the guy sitting next to her, her husband, who hasn't bought his wife a drink all night. He didn't have to because her drinks were all bought and paid for by this poor guy. They both thank him, they got up, and left. Once again, this guy feels and looks like the biggest fool known to man.
What is wrong with this picture? I'm glad you asked and here it is... This man didn't learn a thing from the first week, did he? Here he is the next week, buying drinks for yet another woman that he doesn't know and here, once again, the woman leaves with another man who hasn't had to do anything. The moral of this story is... if you keep doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same results.
I have a dear friend who keeps getting involved over and over again with a guy who obviously has either a stalker or another girlfriend. Every time she has spent the night with this guy, his other woman has knocked on the door early in the morning and my friend has to leave because the man she has been spending the good part of the night with has wanted to avoid a scene (if you can believe that). She leaves vowing to never see him again. A few months go by and it's the same scenario again. I'm shaking my head here.
Then, there is my other friend who, after being told by her man that he's been cheating on her for years, was asking me today if I had any ideas of how she could get him back! My question was... Why would you want him back? Then, I remembered something a wise old Delta said to me once. "Fresh heartbreak is better than stale loneliness any day." Is it?
If you keep doing the same thing with the same people over and over again, you're going to get the same result. Why will it be different the next time? Why should it be? And, I'm saying that! Feel me?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Record of the Year: "Please Read The Letter," Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; T Bone Burnett, producer; Mike Piersante, engineer/mixer; track from "Raising Sand" (Rounder)
Song of the Year: "Viva La Vida," Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay), track from "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends" (Capitol Records; Publishers: Universal Music-MGB Songs)
New Artist of the Year: Adele
R&B Album: "Jennifer Hudson," Jennifer Hudson (Arista)
R&B Song: "Miss Independent," Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Shaffer Smith, songwriters (Ne-Yo), track from "Year of the Gentleman" (Def Jam/Compound; Publishers: Pen in the Ground Publishing, Universal Music-Z Tunes)
Contemporary R&B Album: "Growing Pains," Mary J. Blige (Geffen)
Female R&B Vocal Solo: "Superwoman," Alicia Keys, track from "As I Am" (J)
Male R&B Vocal Solo: "Miss Independent," Ne-Yo, track from "Year of the Gentleman" (Def Jam/Compound)
R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: "Stay With Me (By the Sea)," Al Green featuring John Legend, track from "Lay It Down" (Blue Note)
Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: "You've Got the Love I Need," Al Green featuring Anthony Hamilton, track from "Lay It Down" (Blue Note)
Urban/Alternative Performance: "Be OK," Chrisette Michele featuring will.i.am, track from "I Am" (Def Jam)
Rap Album: "Tha Carter III," Lil Wayne (Cash Money/Universal Motown)
Rap Solo Performance: "A Milli," Lil Wayne, track from "Tha Carter III" (Cash Money/Universal Motown)
Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Swagga Like Us," Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne (Roc-A-Fella/Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Rap/Sung Collaboration: "American Boy," Estelle featuring Kanye West, track from "Shine" (Homeschool/Atlantic)
Rap Song: "Lollipop," Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, James Scheffer, Stephen Garrett and Rex Zamor, songwriters (Lil Wayne featuring Static Major), track from "Tha Carter III" (Cash Money/Universal Motown; Publishers: Young Money Publishing/Warner-Chappell Music, Herbalicious Music/Blackfountain Music/EMI-April Music, JimiPub Music/EMI Blackwood, Three Nails and A Crown Publishing/Roynet Music)
Reggae Album: "Jah Is Real," Burning Spear (Burning Music Production)
Contemporary Jazz Album: "Randy in Brasil," Randy Brecker (MAMA)
Jazz Vocal Album: "Loverly," Cassandra Wilson (Blue Note)
Jazz Instrumental Solo: "BE-BOP," Terence Blanchard, soloist; track from "Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival" (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars) (Monterey Jazz Festival)
Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group: "The New Crystal Silence," Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Concord)
Large Jazz Ensemble Album: "Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard," The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts Recordings)
Traditional Blues Album: "One Kind Favor," B.B. King (Geffen)
Contemporary Blues Album: "City That Care Forgot," Dr. John and The Lower 911 (429)
Gospel Performance: "Get Up," Mary Mary; track from "The Sound" (Columbia)
Gospel Song: "Help Me Believe," Kirk Franklin, songwriter (Kirk Franklin); track from "The Fight of My Life" (Fo Yo Soul Ent./Zomba Gospel; Publishers: Universal Music-Z Songs/Kerrion Publishing)
Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album: "Thy Kingdom Come," CeCe Winans (PureSprings Gospel/EMI Gospel)
Traditional Gospel Album: "Down in New Orleans," The Blind Boys of Alabama (Time Life)
Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: "The Fight of My Life," Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul Entertainment/Zomba Gospel)
Rap or Rock Gospel Album: "Alive and Transported," TobyMac (ForeFront Records EMI CMG)
Click here to see a simple but complete listing of ALL the Grammy winners posted by the Associated Press shortly after the broadcast.