Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pelosi: Resolution on Michael Jackson unnecessary

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaks during the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 7, 2009.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shut the door Thursday to a resolution honoring Michael Jackson because debate on the symbolic measure could raise "contrary views" about the pop star's life.

Lawmakers are free to use House speeches "to express their sympathy or their praise any time that they wish," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "I don't think it's necessary for us to have a resolution."

A resolution sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, cites some of the singer's charitable acts and proclaims him an American legend, musical icon and world humanitarian.

Even before Pelosi's comments, some Democrats said privately they did not support the resolution and a divisive debate would hurt House efforts to muster the votes for priorities such as health care and climate change.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who posted a video on YouTube calling Michael Jackson a "pervert" and a "pedophile," has pledged to do all he could to block the resolution.

Michael Jackson was acquitted in 2005 of charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy. Those allegations, and his admission that children slept in his bed at his home but nothing sexual occurred, have led some members of Congress to put distance between themselves and any formal honor for the entertainer.

"A resolution, I think, would open up to contrary views to — that are not necessary at this time to be expressed in association with a resolution whose purpose is quite different," Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill news conference where she discussed various legislative matters.

Unbowed, Jackson Lee said she will seek support from colleagues who thanked her when she introduced the measure June 26, one day after Michael Jackson died. She said honorary resolutions don't often "pass the next day."

"On this floor we elevate people and doing that we have to work to tell your story," she said after a House vote. But she would need support from Democratic leadership for the resolution to advance to the full House from the committee where it is now.

When members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a moment of silence in the House after Jackson died June 25, some lawmakers walked out of the chamber.

Jackson Lee has pledged that the resolution, now before the House Foreign Affairs Committee where she is a member, would come to the full House for debate. Such honorary measures normally move quickly from committee to the full House and pass on a voice vote.

But Jackson Lee's resolution was in trouble early. It drew only one co-sponsor, Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and was not endorsed by other black caucus members.

From the stage at Jackson's memorial Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Jackson Lee hoisted a framed copy of the resolution.

Seriously, what can Ron Artest add to a Los Angeles Lakers team that already won the NBA championship?

Replacing Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest is a downgrade, let’s just put that one out first.

Sure, Ron Artest is obviously the more talented player but why in the world did the Los Angeles Lakers let an energy guy like Trevor Ariza go and jam Artest up on their roster that just might mess up the chemistry these guys have been trying to establish the last couple of years?

That is the dilemma the Lakers are in heading to the brand new 2009 NBA basketball season. For a team that already won the NBA title, was getting a guy as volatile as Ron Artest the right way to go?

For all of you who didn’t know, Ron Artest signed a mid-level exception to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, receiving $18 million over three years.

This is the same guy who mixed it up with Lakers star Kobe Bryant on multiple occasions during the 2009 NBA playoffs. Hell, they almost killed each other with elbows then and they’re suppose to be teammates now?

Sure, he will add extra toughness to a Lakers team trying to defend their championship. But if Artest can’t put his ego aside, they might as well kiss their bid for a re-peat goodbye.

Well, they’d have to anyway with Shaquille O’Neal now playing alongside LeBron.

The deal came on the day we learned that the Lakers weren’t interested in giving forward Trevor Ariza more than the same mid-level exception they offered Ron. Ariza has since signed a new deal to play with the Houston Rockets, basically trading places with Artest.

Artest should bring defense, tenacity, three-point shooting and another player able to create his own points. This deal solidifies the Lakers’ chances to repeat as several other contenders have bolstered their lineups through trades and free agent signings, including the San Antonio Spurs, who traded for Richard Jefferson, the Cleveland Cavaliers who signed Shaquille O’Neal and the Boston Celtics who finally saved Rasheed Wallace from Detroit.

Unless Artest fucks it up, which we think he will, eventually.

Man Dies in Vat of Chocolate

A 29-year-old man has died after falling into a vat of molten chocolate at a factory in the US. Vincent Smith II was with three workers dumping chunks of chocolate into the simmering liquid when he somehow lost his balance and fell in.

TV pictures showed one of his distraught colleagues standing outside the factory in Camden, New Jersey, his clothes covered in chocolate. He had apparently tried to rescue the man, who had died by the time emergency services arrived at the scene ten minutes later.

Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said an investigation has been launched into the incident. "He somehow slipped and fell into the vat," he said.

"Inside the vat, he was hit by a piece of equipment called the agitator that's used to stir, and that killed him."

Mr Laughlin said the vat at the Cocoa Services Inc plant was around 8ft deep. "At this point there's no suggestion of foul play," he added. "It appears to be an accident. This man unfortunately fell into this hole and passed away before anyone could rescue him."

Cocoa Services employs another company - Lyons and Sons - to do the mixing at the factory.

Note: Willie Wonka was not available for comment at the time of publication on
Today's News NJ

Luv Coach Q&A: Who do you trust?

After a loveless eight-year marriage and messy divorce, I started seeing a married man. I didn't want to be tied down again, and the relationship worked for a while. After five years, I decided sharing a man wasn't for me, and ended it. One day he called begging for my help -- he had left his wife not long after I broke it off and went on a downward spiral. I helped him get back on his feet, and we began seeing each other again. Eventually, he and his son moved in with me and my kids. My problem is that I struggle with a trust issue everyday, He has been nothing but good, but just knowing he cheated on his wife with me for all those years makes me wonder if he will do it to me. We have a great relationship, our three teenagers are happy and we do well financially. How do I trust him like I should?

Nicole, Ill.

When you enter into a relationship with someone who is cheating, you create a weak foundation of trust for the relationship to build upon. There are no guarantees that he will be faithful, but what you can do to create more trust within your own mind is to find out why he cheated on his first wife and how he feels about betraying her trust and their marriage. You want to find out if he is regretful or remorseful in any way for his actions and the choice he made to cheat on his wife. If he can rationalize his reasons for cheating, then be weary because he may choose to cheat again. If he is aware that cheating is selfish, hurtful and damaging to a relationship and he realizes that he made a poor choice then you have less to worry about. I would recommend that either way, you should have a serious talk about your fears within this relationship, and both of you should set the boundary that monogamy is a requirement for this relationship.

My sister won't believe her husband is cheating on her even though I gave her proof. I'm concerned for my sister, because I believe that her husband is having an affair with one of their friends. My sister's husband is a party person, and my sister is not. The friend of theirs is a bartender. She enables him and gives him free drinks. My sister works 12-hour days, caters to this man and is a faithful wife. We have been hearing about this affair and we even laid out proof of it, but still my sister believes them and not me. They say I am lying, but my sister knows I don't lie. This woman has created a divide in our relationship. How can I make her truly see the light?


Your sister is in a state of simple denial, which is a defense mechanism used when a person is faced with a situation that is too uncomfortable to accept and so she rejects it. Insisting that an affair is not happening even though there is overwhelming evidence is her way of protecting herself from feeling pain and dealing with the reality she is faced with. She may feel vulnerable right now, and this may threaten her sense of control over her life. It can be difficult to show people the truth when they are not ready or willing to deal with it. The key to reaching her is to have a candid conversation about what she fears and allow her to open up and express her emotions. Take this time to point out any irrational beliefs she may have pertaining to her husband, and inquire what the potential negative consequences will be if they are having an affair. Let her know that no matter what you will be there for her, and that you are reaching out to her because you love her. She will see the truth only when she is ready, so be patient and give her mind the time to work through this traumatizing realization.

Philadelphia Private Swim Club: I thought black folks couldn't swim. Why are you Negroes going to the pool in the first place?

Look mommy, that nigger is getting in the water. Oh my, and there is even more of them. I bet they are from Philadelphia. What's the matter, they don't have their own public pools? Hurry dear, jump out of the water before you catch something.

Honestly, I don't know if that conversation took place between little Johny and his mom or not, but let me say this; knowing this area the way that I do, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it did.

Now what I do know is that a bunch of day campers made up of mostly black children, were told in no uncertain terms that they could not swim in the Valley Swim Club, pool. Yep, it seems the white parents and swim club members were outraged when they saw all the little Negroes invading their pool space. Poor white folks, No matter how hard they try they just can't get away from those Negroes.

Apparently, according to the President of the club, all those Negroes would change the color of the water in the pool. Did you know that if Negroes are in chlorine long enough that the black will come off? Nothing worse than trying to swim in dark water.

"There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club," John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement.

Of course Mr. Duesler, I understand exactly where you are coming from. Nothing like a bunch of Negroes to change the "atmosphere" of a joint. Trust me, I know all about it, I invented the 12% rule.

"I heard this lady, she was like, 'Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?' She's like, 'I'm scared they might do something to my child,'" said camper Dymire Baylor.

Oh come on Dymire. Are you sure she said black kids and not b-a-d kids? I am sure you all were acting up. You know how you little Negroes can act up sometimes. Especially when you see water. You all saw that that big swimming pool and lost your minds.

Seriously folks, I have been getting e-mails from folks wondering about my hometown and how this can be happening in 2009. Folks, welcome to the real world. Philadelphia, Pistolvania is no different than Philadelphia, Mississippi in terms of racial attitudes. In fact, it might be worse. Oh it's a "city of neighborhoods" alright, and it's a proudly segregated one. But it's not just Philly; pick any city in the Northeast. Anyone. I guarantee you that you will find the same type of prejudices and ignorance among the races.

The Valley Swim Club is a nice Sunday morning jog from my house, and the type of people who make up the membership are the ones who joined to get away from all the Negroes who might pollute the city pools. So this story is not surprising. What's surprising is how surprised everyone seems to be that this actually happened. Obviously they don't read black blogs. And they certainly don't keep up with the racism chasers. If they did, they would realize that we can't keep up. Racism is all over the place, and chasing it is becoming just too damn hard.

Holla at the folks at The Valley Swim Club and let them know that in the age of Obama even little Negroes should be able to swim in peace.

(215) 947-0700

Steve McNair's Girlfriend Sahel Kazemi DUI Video

Here's the DUI arrest video of Sahel Kazemi, the 20-year-old woman who was found shot to death alongside former NFL quarterback Steve McNair.

Kazemi was arrested on suspicion of DUI on July 2, two days before she killed Steve McNair and herself. McNair was a passenger in the vehicle when Kazemi was arrested. McNair reportedly bailed Kazemi out of jail the day of her arrest.

Kazemi had been "spinning out of control" in the days leading up to Saturday's shocking murder-suicide in her Nashville condo, cops said.

"The police department has concluded that Steve McNair was murdered by Sahel Kazemi and that, in turn, Sahel Kazemi killed herself with a single gunshot wound to her head," said Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas. "The totality of the evidence clearly points to a murder-suicide."

My Phone Call from the Obama Administration

Hey peeps,

I wanted to share something with the YBW family. As you know, I've said quite a bit in my writing about President Obama's policies, both good and bad. Much of what I do as a Black Public Scholar is driven by what I read in the emails that you send to me (I apologize for not always being able to reply, but I always appreciate them). For example, last year when we went after Bill O'Reilly in response to his attacks on Michelle Obama, I did it because I got the sense that Black folks were frustrated by O'Reilly's underhanded activities and that I could use my media access to help give a voice to those I love (yes, I love you and I am not afraid to say it!).

Well, there are times when I've praised President Obama when his decisions serve the interests of our community, but I also try to engage in just enough critical analysis to never give a blank check to any politician. Perhaps as a result of all this, I received a call last week from someone within the Obama Administration. I should probably not say his name in public, but I have made it clear that I represent the people, so I want to share the spirit of our correspondence with you.

In light of the fact that many Black newspapers and magazines across the country are unfortunately going bankrupt (due to the decline of print media), he and others are looking to the Internet to see what the Black community is thinking. AOL Black Voices is the largest Black news website in America ( is number 2, according to his calculations and my own), so it's natural that this be one of the places that the administration looks to see what African Americans are happy and not so happy about.

You know that I don't typically hang out with politicians (I'm not interested in being a politician, since I am addicted to telling the truth), but I listen when people talk. After listening to this official for an hour (who was very respectful and informative), I got the sense that he really wants our feedback. Now obviously, there is a difference between listening and acting, but Barack is in a very tough position right now, and I think we should at least make sure that his administration hears from us when they make critical decisions. The last thing they want to do is roll something out and then find out that it has made us angry.

The Obama Administration official has offered to run ideas by me before releasing them to the public (which I am fine with him doing), but the truth is that I don't want to be any kind of "public voice" that mutes the individual voices in our community. So, I let him know that while I would certainly be happy to share my own opinions, it is most important that I help facilitate the sharing of opinions from those within our coalition. As a statistician, I know that you can get pretty meaningful inference from reading the general trend of opinions which appear on websites and blogs. It is by reading the tone of your reactions that I get a sense of what the community is feeling (which impacted the articles I wrote last week about the BET Awards).

So, I will start by asking you to submit your opinion of the president's performance over the first 100 days in office. I have set up a link on my blog for this (which you can get to by clicking here), and after the comments have been made, I will make sure that the link is forwarded to our contact in the White House. I am hopeful that they will listen and it is my greatest hope that we can help the president succeed by telling him how we truly feel. While I certainly can't force the president do anything, we should at least supplement their information set by letting them know what matters to us and then holding them accountable in their reactions.

Here is a link to the blog. Here is a link to a video I put together breaking it all down in case you want to hear it "straight from the Boyce's mouth."

Take care and God bless,

Dr Boyce

Just What Does $340,000 Buy You These Days?

By Richard A. Lee

By raising more than $340,000 for his independent campaign for governor, Chris Daggett has qualified for public matching funds, as well as the right to participate in two official debates this fall.

Just what else will result from having met the $340,000 threshold is not so clear.

Does it give Daggett a realistic opportunity to compete with the two major party candidates? Will his candidacy take votes away from Republican candidate Chris Christie? Can it somehow hurt Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine’s chances for re-election? Or will it simply be a wash with relatively equal numbers of Democratic and Republican voters opting for an independent candidate?

We won’t know the answers to these questions until after Election Day in November, but in the interim, there will be plenty of speculation. For my part, I decided to take a look at three research studies on independent and third-party candidates and see how the findings may – or may not – apply to this year’s race for governor in New Jersey.

There is a progression in the three studies. The first takes a broad look at challenges to our two-party system; the second focuses on minor party candidates in gubernatorial elections, and the third examines the successful campaign of a third-party candidate for governor – Jesse Ventura, who was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. Here is what I found:

Challenges to the American Two-Party System: Evidence from the 1968, 1980, 1992, and 1996 Presidential Elections by Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, Philip Paolino and David W Rohde (2000)

In this study, the authors found that independent candidates benefit when voters’ connections with the major political parties are weakened. Moreover, dissatisfaction with the major party candidates – as opposed to their parties – played a greater role in voters’ support for independent candidates. According to the study: “The people supporting an independent candidate are not those harboring a long-developed disaffection from the major parties, but rather are those who can be moved to express anti-party views because, and probably only because, they are disaffected from the parties' candidates in a particular election.”

In New Jersey’s race for governor, both major party candidates have been blaming the opposing party for today’s dire economic conditions. At the same time, there have been many direct attacks upon both Corzine and Christie. Based on this study’s findings, independent candidates such as Daggett would benefit more if the major party candidates target each other, rather than their political parties.

Picking Their Spots: Minor Party Candidates in Gubernatorial Elections by Steve B. Lem and Conor M. Dowling (2006)

Lem and Dowling examined gubernatorial elections in all states between 1982 and 2000. Their research was designed to determine why minor party candidates run for office when the chances of winning are slim. The authors also suggested that independents can benefit from “ideological gaps” left by the major party candidates. Such gaps create opportunities “to offer something different than the Democrats and Republicans,” they wrote.

Providing voters an alternative to the major party candidates has been a big part of Daggett’s message. By exploiting gaps in the Corzine and Christie campaigns, he and the other non-major candidates in the race could increase their appeal to New Jersey voters if this year’s election is consistent with Lem and Dowling’s findings.

The Origins and Impact of Votes for Third-Party Candidates: A Case Study of the 1998 Minnesota Gubernatorial Election by Dean Lacy and Quin Monson (2002)

Of the three studies, this is the most interesting in that it explores the circumstances surrounding an independent gubernatorial candidate who won an election. However, many of the factors accounting for Jesse Ventura’s 1998 victory in Minnesota were unique to that campaign.

While Ventura entered the race with high-name recognition due to his career as a professional wrestler, he also benefited from a well-timed newspaper report, a rare state election law, creative use of public funds, the absence of an incumbent on the ticket, and a tight campaign between the two major party candidates, both of whom had emerged from hotly contested and potentially divisive primary elections.

According to Lacy and Monson, as late as mid-October, polls were showing Ventura with just about 10 percent of the vote. But his numbers rose steadily in the latter part of October – so much in fact that on the Sunday before Election Day, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that he had a realistic chance of winning the election. The report had a profound and positive impact for Ventura.

“Even though he never officially led in the pre-election polls, the signal communicated to voters through the press was that Ventura was in a position possibly to win,” the authors explained. “In the close three-way race this significantly reduced the incentives to vote strategically. Third party candidates face a perpetual problem of losing their supporters to strategic voting: third party voters often defect to their second most preferred candidate in order to avoid electing their least preferred candidate. With his momentum in the polls and eventual victory, Ventura overcame the usual trend.”

The timing of the newspaper report was extremely beneficial for Ventura because Minnesota is one of the few states that allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day, making it possible for those who decided to support him – even at that late stage of the campaign – to cast ballots. Ventura’s rising poll numbers also made it likely he would qualify for public funds – but not until after Election Day. So he took out a loan, used it for late advertising and paid it back after the election.

The scenario in New Jersey this fall will be much different, but one element of Lacy and Monson’s findings may have implications in the Garden State, where Democrats hope to nationalize the election and benefit from President Obama’s popularity, while Republicans contend that state issues will determine the outcome. The study found that voter attitudes on the condition of the nation had no effect on Ventura’s support. Conversely, the condition of the state played a more significant role.

“Ventura's electoral success was due to dissatisfaction with Minnesota government rather than a reaction to national conditions,” Lacy and Monson wrote. “People who believe Minnesota is on the right track are more likely to vote for the major-party candidates than for Ventura.”

* * *

These research studies provide a good starting point for discussion of New Jersey’s race for governor. At the end of the day, however, every election is unique with its own set of candidates and circumstances. How Chris Daggett and the other candidates fare in New Jersey in 2009 will be determined by the distinctive factors in place in our state this year.

# # #

Richard A. Lee is Communications Director of the Hall Institute of Public Policy – New Jersey. A former journalist and Deputy Communications Director for the Governor, he also teaches courses in media and government at Rutgers University, where he is completing work on a Ph.D. in media studies.