Monday, October 31, 2011

I dunno who to believe...

I was reading this Robert Alter Article that really got me thinking.  It's talking about how there's been no real scandal from the Obama Administration in a record 3 years.  Now it can't be because it's completely pristine because no one can be that clean.  Alter goes through a lot of reasons, but one really strikes me: People react and believe news sources that seem to be disinterested participantsMeaning, that if you are perceived as objective, if you say something is wrong with a government official or anyone, you will generally be believed over someone who has a perceived agenda.

As usual, reading the comments at the end of the article are classic.  They're spouting all sorts of things the Obama administration has done that should have him impeached.  However, my point is not that Obama's government has been squeaky clean.  My point is that, the people who always bring up the problems are FOX news.  I'm sure that just because they have a point of view that I don't always agree with, doesn't mean that they are not good and thoughtful journalists.  Or, that their stories don't have some merit.  But when they break a story, I just have difficulty taking it seriously because I have no idea just how much is about getting to the truth of the story and how much is them presenting their subjective views on how much they hate/love whatever government party is in power at the moment.  I have this problem with MSNBC as well.

In a song that I've been writing and recording, I'm working with that issue.  Because….what can you really believe?!  Who do you trust to tell you what's actually happening?! These people talk like they know, but it's from their perspective not just the facts.  Though humans are all subjective creatures, at least journalists should TRY to put their beliefs aside and tell the story. Right now, I don't' know who to believe.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I was talking to a couple of my college students this afternoon.  I am a college professor at George Washington University.  Sounds hoity toity, but I teach jazz voice.  But in talking to them seriously about the future, they basically painted a very bleak picture for themselves. One of limited employment, lack of imagination of their peers, and a government that is bureaucratic and not willing to really look at the long term issues and tackle them head on.  The future looks pretty grim, they said.  I asked them what gets them up in the morning, then?  Now understand, these are not music majors.  One was a biology student, and the other was an international poli-sci major studying russian.  What gets them up each morning is music.  Listening to it.  Singing it.  Participating in it.  It was the thing that allowed them to have social interaction and connection with their peers.  It opened them up to things beyond themselves. "Music kind of defines who we are as people…" 

I thought this was a fascinating statement because I've made it myself many times.  Right after we secure food, shelter and clothing, we want to tell a story about how we did those things through song, dance, or just tell the story through words or writing.  These things define us as human beings and we ignore them at our peril.  During these separation inducing, depression creating, times of great stress as we change our system into…something else that we don't know…our music can sustain us in ways that nothing but spirituality and belief in a higher power can match. Fascinating...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's About Damn Time!!

Just heard about Obama's new plan to help homeowners re-finance their mortgages.  It's about damn time!  Y'all know I was turned down from all of the programs because I was making too much money and not making enough at the same time.  I am also penalized because I am self-employed.  But, I have paid my mortgage on time and have excellent credit.  I'm tired of getting the short end of the stick.  Well, my mortgage broker called me within hours of the announcement ready to talk about what can happen and how this program could possibly work for me.

I say hallelujah, but others are not so happy.  I really get that this is just somewhat of a stop gap and that it doesn't address the underlying problems in the economy.  I think this is the case.  However, I like many others who actually did the right thing like: putting 20% down, not buying the most expensive house on the block, having some savings, keeping my credit rating high, not buying at the peak of the market (though no one knew how low it was going to go).  I and people like me, have been penalized because we're not in "distress".  Then they just wait until we are in distress and say,"Now we can help you…oh..wait, oh no…we can't.  You're credit score is too low." Or some other excuse.  I know people who make good money yet can't get a loan.    

Does this plan address jobs? No.  Does this address the underlying banking issues?  No.  Does it let banks off the hook by guaranteeing loans, subsidized by the US taxpayer? Yes. But something's gotta be done.  No one will work it out in our dumb ass congress because it's political season and they gotta hunt some Wabbits rather than figuring out how to make the economy work.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


This is why people are pissed off:

Citigroup Settles for $285 Million; No Wall Street Exec Jailed Yet

I learned more from reading the comments after the article than the article itself, here's a few:

Hell, I've never had the option of a payoff without admitting guilt! Why do these yea-hoos always get that choice? (Posted by Unforgiven666)

$285 million! What travesty of justice. What did they make by shorting that CDO? Billions, probably. We stick it to them where it will hurt: Cut up those credit cards. (Posted by Rick)

That's what I'd like to know also: Just what sort of percentage does that $285 million amount to? I am guessing less than what most of us pay in banking fees. Give us a figure on those "staggering profits".(Posted by gardenernorcal)

What more evidence do we need that our government and those that enforce the laws have been entirely co-opted by Wall Street? Remember that our Congress voted to give AT&T retroactive immunity from their criminal act of spying on the phone calls and e-mails of American citizens. Corporations are continually allowed to violate laws, kill workers, pollute the environment and steal pensions with complete impunity. A fine that represents less than 5% of the money that was embezzled or stolen is not a penalty sufficient to discourage similar behavior in the future. Who was paid off in this deal? Obviously this government does not represent the people. I agree with the comment poster “iwonder”; blood in the streets will be coming soon to a city near you. If there is any justice, it will include the prosecutors who refuse to do their job. (Posted by PEAdvocate)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hillary gets the news...

Just thought this was kinda cool

Momar joins Osama and Anwar, finds out what 'leading from behind' REALLY is all about...

Andrew Sullivan underscores the point I made in an earlier post quite succinctly:

A Tale Of Two Presidents

A reader writes:
Bush and Saddam - One Trillion dollars and thousands of US lives.
Obama and Qaddafi - One Billion dollars and zero US lives.
Meep Meep indeed.
And this time, the Arab world loves us as well.
To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now.
Just sayin....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Say Occupy 'Em...

I've been reading and thinking a lot about the Occupy Wall Street movement and these two articles, one by Sally Kohn (from Fox the other by Julianne Malveaux (from, really have got me thinking.  The articles are essentially mirror images of one another on either side of the political spectrum.  One is saying that we should see these protests as a larger movement outside of the actual protestors, and the other one is asking what do the protesters really want?  Can you guess who is writing what?  I bet you would be wrong. In my best Spock voice, "Fascinating!"  

I find Sally Kohn's argument actually quite interesting.  I think the fact that no broader single issue is emerging is actually the point.  People are just mad. And I mean, hopping mad.  When you're mad at someone, you don't always speak well because, um, you're mad, a state which is not necessarily conducive to being completely cogent at all times, since you're so freakin mad.  I think this anger, which inspired the Tea Party as well, is largely based upon an underlying feeling of deep disgruntlement.  Anyone who has been following me on Twitter or on Facebook knows that I (1) have an underwater mortgage, (2) pay my mortgage on time, and (3) I can't get a re-fi.   The bank will not modify my loan because I don't make enough money and at the same time, I am not in any financial hardship which would lead to me needing help.  I was told that, by law, we cannot rescind your mortgage (So are you thinking about that?) The bank's suggestion? This is for real folks: the bank suggested FORECLOSE ON YOUR HOUSE OR SELL IT IN A SHORT SALE.  This was their advice over 2 measly percentage points on my interest rate.  I pay my health insurance every month.  But I don't get anything covered until I reach a rather high deductible.  So, don't get sick.  Don't loose your job.  Sh*t, don't fart in the wrong direction because you will loose errrrythang you got…and then maybe, juuuusssst maybe…we will help you, but that's not guaranteed.  And now you want me to pay $5 to take my own money out the bank?

This anger is not just mine.  Whole legions of folks - - enough to populate entire cities - - are one paycheck away from bankruptcy. The median price for a home in Detroit the last time I checked was $18,000.  Thats not the low end ya'll, that's THE MIDDLE.  So while Biff and Buffy are hanging out with Trump and the Housewives of whatever rich spot they're in, talking about how hard they have to work to get the schedule together so they can take this vacation or have a party or whatever, the VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS are struggling just to keep the quality of life they work 60-80 hours a week to maintain, from falling apart. Ain't nobody against people being rich or making money.  This is an aspirational country.  However, don't tell me that I'm part of a mob, or against capitalism, or that I have no respect for people's property, or that I don't understand what I'm talking about, or that I want a hand out, or I just need to work for it! !!!  I'VE BEEN WORKING M----A F---A, THAT'S THE PROBLEM! I WORK MY ASS OFF!!! TRICKLE SOME OF THAT SHIT DOWN! 

(deep breath) That's what this movement is about.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tangled up in their own rhetoric...

Was reading this article from The Economist.  I have been watching the debates and tracking the republican presidential race quite closely (as some of you may have read on my blow by blow twitter blasts of the wrestling matches we call the republican presidential debates).  Mostly I find the whole thing to be an exercise in hypocrisy. In the above article, they are talking about the lack of imaginativeness in the  economic and foreign policy plans that Romney has put out thus far.  For me, here's the hypocrisy: Say what you want  about Obama, but he pretty much did what he said he was going to do concerning Afganistan and Iraq. Also, and as noted in this article, as the Arab spring unfolded, his strategy of "leading from behind" has been a cost containing measure which has successfully gotten our allies to finally significantly contribute to that which we have been doing by ourselves for so long - - policing the world.

I would think that even though you want him out, you would have to agree that Obama has out Bushed Bush in his prosecution of our foreign affairs.  Bin Laden is DEAD, essentially assassinated, in the middle of the night, B.O. told no one...GANGTSA style. Ba-dow!! American muslim cleric with Al-Quaeda ties, Boom! Gotcha in da neck mo fo...Somali pirates shot dead by snipers, on direct order from Obama...I thought this is what republicans liked! He-took-them-out! But nooooo...Obama is an american apologist?  But Mitt Romney would keep the military Reagan-like strong in the midst of an economic crisis and there is no Soviet Union any more?  I'm so confused....on a gut level I just don't understand.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We all got an old country...

I've been thinking more about the song I was referring to yesterday, "The Old Country".  I'm a Nancy Wilson nut.  She can sound so harsh and smooth at the same time.  I've been thinking about the song in a certain way.  Some background: I was teaching it to a group of students when I was the jazz vocal teacher at Maryland Summer Jazz Workshop this past July.  The students really didn't like the song that much and thought it was a downer, and couldn't really connect with it.  But I really love the song because I believe it's a story about our country: immigration.  With the exception of us black folks whose ancestors got off a different kind of boat, almost everyone else in this country has an "old country".  They look back at that place as either the place they are finally free of or a place of nostalgia where everything is beautiful.

This country has difficulty when people whose skins have color - - whether yellow, red, brown or black - - are perceived to be looking to share in a piece of the pie.  Unfortunately there are still some folks that just get truly pissed off at those of us with darker hues who happen to believe that America's streets are paved with gold and that perhaps we might want even just an earring or a hair clip or a few coins to help us and our progeny have a better life.  But that's what America's supposed to be all about, right?? 

This song is really more about some old guy looking back longingly at his life and the singer disdaining him and his life.  But it brings up the dichotomy between between the old and new: countries, technology, children... The last line is "you won't see your homeland except thru me".  Who is me?  Who has the control? Young people who are now in this country and don't want to leave because this is the only home they've known, border police who want to deport them, certain political parties who don't want them to come to the country in the first place, the media and how they portray their home country??...Or is it just a scorned lover whose just pissed like hell at this guy and has created the ultimate revenge of stripping this old man of all his humanity, ethnicity, pride...leaving only death as a solution.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Job is a job?

My girlfriend participated in writing this article about the difficulty of the Alabama immigration law.  In looking at immigration, sustainable farming, and economic growth and development, I come back to an old jazz song I love, "The Old Country".   In talking about class warfare in America, there is another warfare going on against illegal immigration.  This article points out that farming, while a job is a job, is BACKBREAKING, HIGHLY SKILLED, work.  My family are farmers and I know of what I speak.  The joke in my family is that when my uncle met my aunt, he thought it didn't make any sense for a young woman to have a six pack at her young age.  That same aunt could crop tobacco at five, FIVE, at the same rate as an adult and expected her father to pay her the same as an adult.

In this time of joblessness, some people think that a job is a job.  But not just anyone can pick fruits and vegetables.  In picking blueberries at a "you pick it yourself" farm, everybody was gone in an hour, because it was too hot, buggy, and folks were just plain tired.  Not just anyone can write code on a computer, and while there is certainly a higher learning curve for technology, skilled is skilled, and it takes time to learn a new skill set.  

With technology abounding, just who is going to pick our food? Will we have robots to eventually do that too? Times are changing. Do we really want to pay more for our food?  After reading Bill McKibben's book, Deep Economy, there is a definitive argument  that we should, for the good of our local communities and job growth.  However, it's really hard for me to pay $1-$2 more for organic meat or vegetables, when right next to it is a cheaper, and not necessarily bad product, because my pockets are not flush...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I watched Jon Stewart last night and read Andrew Sullivan's blog last night about the whole "Niggerhead" scandal.  What it just says to me is that, people all over the country are living in the white supremacy virtual world.  We don't realize we're living in it, because we don't see this sh*t up close too often anymore.  To many it doesn't even feel real, hence, the virtual part.  

This is like when I found out they were using darkie toothpaste in India.  The white supremacy virtual world, or WSVW for short, allows one to just go along and live in a world where you can call just random things like Brazil nuts niggertoes or rock formations niggerheads: for DECADES, and it means nothing.  It's just what we call it.  WSVW is so prevalent that it's not just in the expected parts of the southern US, it's in Vermont, the Pacific Northwest, California, Michigan...oh lets just say it: the 50 states of America. You don't actually have to deeply believe in white supremacy to actually benefit by it, and you can simply say, that's just what was done.  I'm not making this up. For example,  take fans of the Washington Redskins football team: "I love that team.  It's an institution.  We just happen to call the team the most derogatory thing we can think of about a certain group of people.  It's not our fault. It's not me, somebody else came up with that name..."

Yes, it was done and said in the past.  No, you didn't start it. And yes, it is everywhere.  Is it a cheap political stunt to bring it up now? Maybe, but, as a passing thought, shouldn't it trouble us as a country in which the President is of a niggerhead hue, and a whole bunch of niggerheads in the country are at 16% unemployement, and another old niggerhead is talking about a non-niggerhead painting over a niggerhead sign on a property his father owned, that there are STILL so many of our public sites, foods, equipment, natural resources, named after one of the most derogatory epithets in the english language; So derogatory in fact, that you can't even say it, in passing, if you are not another fellow niggerhead?  Well, thisa heah niggahead's mine mus' be jus' lik' dat dere rock fo'mation, an' jus' don be gettin' it.  Night Niggas...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Am A Million Bridge

Forgot to post this...I wrote the bridge to a new song called "I Am A Million" while I was in Boston with Live Tropical Fish. Record is almost done now, I'm so excited!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Be Afraid, Very Afraid...

This is what we are afraid of.  I've been writing music about this very subject.  You got people talkin like they know and not dealing with reality.  Candidates are speaking about stuff that has nothing to do with my home being underwater and not being able to re-finance it.  Obama has not been able to get things done in the past year or been able to communicate what he needs to do in order to get things done.  The world is literally crumbling before our eyes and wall street bankers are sipping champagne taking pictures of demonstrators saying essentially let them eat cake.

It's a time to come together and figure out how we're gonna make this country work.  I think the reason that you are seeing the protests at Wall Street and other financial centers of the country is because people are tired of feeling like they can't do anything to make a difference.  Republicans are obstructing and the Economist is saying that Obama is initiating class warfare, which y'all know how I feel about that foolishness.  

No one seems to know what to do, and the article says that people want real talk.  I feel like saying to the world and the press the famous line from that Tom Cruise movie, "Truth!?!? You can't HANDLE the truth!!"  

Y'all didn't want to hear the truth because no one in public office is rewarded for the truth.  Why?  Because the truth hurts, that's why! Cuts hurt, because they make you bleed. Getting money out of stones is painful cause there ain't no money in a stone. You get diamonds by blowing up caverns and gold does not grow on trees. Plain talk is greeted with shouts of dismay and anger at the leader...see Greece. 

BTW, no one wants plain talk from a black man.  You'll just lynch him figuratively or in reality.  Plain talk got Malcolm and Martin shot.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Birthday Wishes

Today I've been watching my sunday morning talk shows on my birthday.  I've twittered about it all morning. Now Obama is supposed to "be real" and should have been "real" from the get go.  He shouldn't have been so optimistic and should have had a straight talk with the American people.  

Y'all reporters/pundits are on crack.  If you had heard him say that "we are really in trouble," it would have been, "this negro doesn't understand american exceptionalism!"  You already questioned his birth, his religion, his patriotism, his college record even!  If he had put on the figurative sweater of Jimmy Carter in the beginning of his presidency, he would have been ridiculed.  Now, we can have many opinions about how he has done, but can't nobody tell me that after "The Great Depression II - The Mini-Series That Never Ends", BP oil spill of death and destruction, Chernobyl Style Japanese nuclear meltdown, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes (btw, obama could really be the anti-christ if you're dumb enough), Republican obstructionism made into an artform, and the disintegration of the economies of Europe, that anybody would be doing more than treading water at this point.  I don't care what the great Bill Clinton would do; the worst thing he had to deal with is bodily fluids on a dress.  Ronald Reagan might have made us feel better, but that doesn't mean we would have BEEN better. I don't even need to speak about George H.W. Bush.

I don't want to be an apologist for anybody, but damn! On my birthday, I just want a little love in the room.  Take a rest...feel like things will be my heels three times and it will all be swept away....