Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The awkward co-dependence of Blacks and Liberal Democrats

By Star Parker

What does Caroline Kennedy have in common with black America? If your answer is not much, I'd tend to agree with you.

When I think of Caroline, I think of Manhattan and Park Avenue, not the Bronx and Brooklyn. I think of Brentwood and Beverly Hills, not Watts and South Central Los Angeles.

But there is something that Caroline and black America do have in common. The Democratic Party.

Whether Kennedy succeeds in her effo rt to slide into Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat will have little to do with her Democratic Party bona fides. Per her policy positions ticked off the other day, she is in perfect and predictable liberal alignment with party boilerplate. If she fails, it will be for reasons other than her views.

So what exactly is the common political ground that Kennedy bluebloods share with the 90 percent of America's blacks who vote for Democrats?

A careful look shows the deep internal contradictions of the Democratic Party and the complexity of the political psyche of black Americans.
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Plight Of Black Men Worsens

The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless - that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.

In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.

Parenthetically, half of all Hispanics drop out of high school in America. Imagine the last 30 years of the Hispanic immigration deluge hadn't happened. The pay for lower skilled jobs would be higher and more black high school drop-outs would be employed. The automation of manual labor jobs and the export of jobs to lower wage countries still would have caused a decline in the fortunes of black males. But the decline would not have been as great.

I am amazed at the rationalizing abilities of liberals who support weak immigration restrictions who also bemoan the plight of blacks. They support policies that screw over the least skilled people in our society. Then they move to white flight suburbs while condescendly claiming that white conservative racists are to blame for the social problems of blacks and Hispanics.

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Roundtable: Lengthen school day, school year?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently argued that the average school day and school year in the United States need to be longer. Is there merit in lengthening the school day and/or school year?

Associated Press
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan listens to fourth graders read at Delaplaine McDaniel Elementary School in Philadelphia Sept. 29. Duncan has suggested the United States consider lengthening the school day and school year.

Longer year, yes; longer day, no
Our nation’s schools are in trouble due to the economy and the standards we use to gauge success. I would not be in favor of a longer school day for students. I believe an eight-hour day is enough to have students in the classroom. The average work day is based on an eight-hour day and students need time to be children outside of a classroom setting.

However, I would be in favor of a longer school year. Cutting summer vacation to two months would be a start, but we need to also address the standards with which we measure schools and teachers as well. We need to reform how we judge good teachers from the bad and make sure we have the best teachers in the classroom. Our educational system also needs to be more streamlined as far as curriculum is concerned. Just throwing money at a problem isn’t the answer. Kevin Williamson

Lengthen both, but it will cost
Not being an educator, I will answer as a parent and that answer is an emphatic “yes” to lengthening both the day and the year. I’m sure teachers won’t like to hear that kids should have a longer day.

The reason for taking the summer off goes back to the days when the kids were needed to work on the farm. Obviously that is not the case anymore. In fact, if they were needed for planting and harvest, summer isn’t the time.

Teachers and students wouldn’t be the only people who would have to re-adjust. Renegotiating teachers’ contracts would be expensive and it would require taxpayers to pay more. But if we want better results, we have to pay for it.

Oh, yeah. If I were still a student my answer would be completely different. Harry Bulkeley

Extending school day has merit
I’m sure my students would hang me for saying this, but yes, this idea does have merit. A longer school day would allow more contact time in the classroom which will only increase what students are learning. I know that there are many days when I have to push hard to get through a lesson — an extra 10-15 minutes would allow me to finish a lesson in one day and perhaps allow me to cover more in the course of a semester.

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Viral Video: Clinton’s Diplomacy in the Conan-Newark Mayor Feud

by Kara Swisher

It looks like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have her hands full with pretty dicey nuclear and terrorism issues in North Korea and Pakistan this week, but she managed to find time last week to try her diplomatic hand at working out the comic state of emergency between late-night television talk show host Conan O’Brien and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

It started when O’Brien joked on “The Tonight Show”: “The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, wants to set up a citywide program to improve residents’ health. The health-care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark.”

As a counter-joke, Booker went to YouTube to make his comedy case several times via video messages, including one barring O’Brien from flying out of Liberty International Airport in Newark.

O’Brien whacked back with some good gibes, until Clinton stepped in this week in a spoof.

Maybe she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize?

Governor's aides sought to change direction of Forensic Commission investigation

The Chicago Tribune got former Forensic Science Commission chair Sam Bassett to open up and talk about the pressure Governor Perry's office put on him to influence the "direction" of the scientific evaluation in the Todd Willingham case:

Samuel Bassett, whom Perry replaced on the Texas Forensic Science Commission two weeks ago, said he twice was called to meetings with Perry's top attorneys. At one of those meetings, Bassett said he was told they were unhappy with the course of the commission's investigation.

"I was surprised that they were involving themselves in the commission's decision-making," Bassett said. "I did feel some pressure from them, yes. There's no question about that."

A Tribune investigation in 2004 raised the possibility that Perry, who was governor when Cameron Todd Willingham was executed, approved the lethal injection of an innocent man. That story revealed fundamental flaws in the arson theories used to convict Willingham.

In a clemency plea four days before the execution, Willingham's attorney raised questions about the forensics in the case. Perry has said he examined the information. But he did not delay the execution. ...

The Forensic Science Commission was created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 to improve forensics in Texas as well as investigate specific complaints. The Willingham case was among the panel's first complaints.

According to Bassett, the governor's attorneys questioned the cost of the inquiry and asked why a fire scientist from Texas could not be hired to examine the case instead of the expert from Maryland that the panel ultimately settled on.

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Crowning of first non-black Miss HU divides campus

Hampton University nursing senior Nikole Churchill, center, was crowned Miss Hampton University last Friday. She was the first non-black to win the title. (Joi Louviere, Special to the Daily Press / October 9, 2009)

HAMPTON — Hampton University crowned its first non-black Miss HU Friday, leading to a division on campus that prompted her to write President Barack Obama.

Nikole Churchill, 22, competed against nine black students in the 15th annual Miss HU scholarship pageant. The senior nursing major attends the Virginia Beach campus and is the competition's first non-black winner, according to executive pageant director Shelia J. Maye.

Churchill, who is from Hawaii, wrote Obama on Sunday to tell him that her crowning was met with negative comments because of her skin color. She invited him to visit HU and speak about racial tolerance.

"I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent," she wrote, "but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making toward accepting diversity."

In a local television report, she said her father is from Guam and her mother is Italian.

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Michael Jai White is superbad in ‘Black Dynamite’

Just call him Superbad.

Or not. Actor/writer Michael Jai White was going to use the name for the title character of his movie “Black Dynamite.” White stars as the karate-kicking fighter, and lover, in this spoof of ’70s blaxploitation cinema.

“I used to look at these old blaxploitation movies and I always thought they were funny in their execution. They reflected their time,” said the champion martial artist-turned-actor.

“It was listening to James Brown’s ‘Super Bad,’ I got the whole idea and became obsessed with it.”

White, 41, was ready to be called Superbad. “But that other movie beat me,” he said. “They registered that name a month before I did - and that name didn’t even fit that Judd Apatow movie”

So he became Black Dynamite, battling drug dealers in the ghetto in an era when The Man was code for white corruption and when kicking butt meant eliminating a dozen armed men at once.

What about today’s kids who don’t know blaxploitation from exploitation?

“I have teenagers,” said White, the father of five. “When I watched one of these movies they enjoyed it. Look at ‘That ’70s Show.’ It’s just a very interesting era, the fashion, the sexuality, the political quotient. All of these things are absolutely entertaining if you grew up with it or not.”

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “blaxploitation has a negative connotation but there were tremendous films of that era that embodied the spirit of the ’70s. It was the first time black people saw themselves in heroic roles in movies. It was a few years after Vietnam and there was mistrust of government and a lot of corruption.”

White appreciates the era’s black stars like Jim Brown and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson.

“It was machismo and it reflected the world at the time. It seems our more dominant alpha males today are imports: Eric Bana, Russell Crowe. You can’t point to an action star who’s not from England or Australia. Back in the day we had Charles Bronsons and Steve McQueens. They don’t make men like they used to.”

Sharpton, Jackson attack Limbaugh's Rams bid

ST. LOUIS — The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attacked the bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams on Monday, saying the conservative radio host's track record on race should exclude him from owning an NFL team. Sharpton sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, arguing that Limbaugh has been divisive and "anti-NFL" in some of his comments.

Jackson said in a telephone interview that Limbaugh had made his wealth "appealing to the fears of whites" with an unending line of insults against blacks and other minorities.

"The National Football League has set high standards for racial justice and inclusion," Jackson said. "He should not have the privilege of owning an NFL franchise — and it is a privilege." The civil rights leader said he's had contact with numerous players and ex-players concerned about the bid.

Limbaugh shot back at Sharpton on his radio show.

"Now, this saddens me as well this disappoints me," he said. "I know Rev. Sharpton. Sharpton is better than this. He knows better than this. You know, I didn't judge Al Sharpton's fitness to be in radio when he wanted to earn an honest living for once, given his well-documented past as the author of the Tawana Brawley hoax. I believe in freedom and I also don't discriminate."

Limbaugh said last week that he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues hockey team owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams. He has declined to discuss details of the offer, citing a confidentiality agreement.

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'New' Jackson song penned in 1983

The "new" Michael Jackson track premiered on Monday was written in 1983 by the star and singer Paul Anka, it has emerged.

Few details about This Is It - the first track to emerge since Jackson's death - were originally released.

But later on Monday, the Jackson estate confirmed Anka had co-written the song - originally called I Never Heard - after he had threatened legal action.

A version of the song was recorded by Puerto Rican singer Safire in 1991.

I don't think that anybody tried to do the wrong thing - it was an honest mistake

Paul Anka
Jackson and Anka wrote the track for possible inclusion on the latter's 1983 album Walk A Fine Line.

Anka told celebrity website TMZ that Jackson then "stole the tapes" from his studio.

Anka, 68, told the Associate Press news agency that, after he complained that he had not been credited, Jackson's estate moved quickly to acknowledge his involvement and promised him 50% of the song's profits.

"They did the right thing," he said.

"I don't think that anybody tried to do the wrong thing - it was an honest mistake."

The stars who have carried on singing from beyond the grave
The new This Is It recording - released to radio stations and on the singer's website - features backing vocals by Jackson's brothers.

The song takes its name from the ill-fated series of comeback shows that were to have taken place at London's O2 arena.

The Jackson estate, in a statement acknowledging Anka as co-writer, said: "The song was picked because the lyrics were appropriate because of the name Michael gave his tour.

"We are thrilled to present this song in Michael's voice for the first time and that Michael's fans have responded in unprecedented numbers."

Anka, who had UK hits in the 1950s with songs including Diana and Lonely Boy, also wrote hits including She's A Lady by Tom Jones and wrote the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's My Way.

The song This Is It will be the only original track on a double CD of the same name due for released on 26 October.

It will also feature in the closing credits of a film, also called This Is It, which has been made using footage of rehearsals for the O2 concerts, due to be released in cinemas on 28 October.

Oprah Sued Over Alleged Airplane Intimacy

In a new lawsuit obtained by ET, a woman who says she was a flight attendant on Oprah's private jet alleges she was fired after two of her co-workers claimed she'd engaged in "inappropriate intimate conduct" during a flight.

Corrine Gehrls alleges in the lawsuit that two other members of the flight crew -- one of whom she claims is the daughter of Gayle King -- falsely told Oprah and her production company Harpo, Inc. that Gehrls and the jet's chief pilot "had been observed having inappropriate intimate conduct outside the cockpit of the plane" during a flight in June.

Gehrls claims the allegation led to her and the pilot's firings. She is suing Harpo and the two flight crew members for $75,000 in damages.

Bad Ass Sheriff Joe Will Continue Immigration Crackdown Despite Federal Withdraw Of Power

Bad Ass Sheriff Joe Will Continue Immigration Crackdown Despite Federal Withdraw Of Power
October 12th, 2009 Posted By Erik Wong.

Fox News:

A firebrand Arizona sheriff known for his hard-line immigration enforcement is vowing to press ahead with an illegal immigrant sweep Friday, defying a revised Department of Homeland Security policy that takes away his federal authority to make such arrests.

“I’m not gonna stop,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in an interview with FOXNews.com. He said the federal changes amount to a political hit job and that if Immigration and Customs Enforcement won’t take illegal immigrants off his hands he’ll personally drive them to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Nothing will change,” he said. “I’m not going to be deterred by any bully.”

A spokesman with DHS or ICE could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear whether the agencies will try to stop or punish the county sheriff should he go forward with the sweep on Friday.

The federal government stripped Arpaio of part of his federal authority to enforce immigration law by changing its rules under a program allowing local police to enforce those laws. Under the changes, Arpaio’s jail officers would still be able to check inmates’ immigration status but would not be able to make federal immigration arrests on the streets.

More than 1,000 local law enforcement officials nationally have had those special powers, but Arpaio has signed more officers onto the program than any other agency. He has 100 deputies under the program, and his office reports having investigated and arrested 33,000 illegal immigrants — or 25 percent of total arrests under the program.

Arpaio claims he still has authority to make the arrests under state human smuggling laws and other provisions, regardless of whether he’s charging the suspected illegal immigrants of any other crimes. He said that if ICE won’t take his suspects, he’ll drive them down to U.S. border patrol agents. If they don’t take them, he said, “I assume they won’t accept any illegals.”

The idiosyncratic sheriff is one of the most controversial local officials in the country. He’s cultivated a tough guy, almost outlaw, image — occasionally referring to himself as the third-person, “The Sheriff,” and unabashedly calling his band of volunteers and officials “the posse.”

“I am the poster boy. Everybody knows that,” he said.

But Arpaio is notorious among immigrant rights groups for his treatment of suspected illegal aliens once in custody. He is known for clothing inmates in pink underwear, making them work on chain gangs and subjecting them to other harsh conditions.

The Justice Department has been investigating his office over claims of discrimination and unlawful practices.

Frank Sharry, director of advocacy group America’s Voice, said in a written statement last week that DHS should “pull the plug on bullies like Arpaio.”

“It is making a historic mistake by lending the full force and legitimacy of the federal government to a rogue cop certain to go down in history as a serial violator of civil rights and an enemy of the Latino community,” he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, previously the Arizona governor, said in a written statement that the latest changes are meant to “improve accountability and safety” in the detention facilities as part of the move to employ “smart and effective” immigration enforcement.

Arpaio remains defiant. He said he’s glad to be able to conduct immigration sweeps without having to follow federal guidelines.

“They can’t stop this sheriff. I don’t report to the feds. I report to the people,” he said. “They should give me a medal — shouldn’t be the Nobel Peace Prize, but it should be something.”

King Children Reach Agreement Over Estate

After a year of what had been said to be a heated feud, the children of late Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King have reached an agreement to settle control of their parent’s estate without a public trial.

According to Fulton County sources, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville declared the siblings “deadlocked” as shareholders and will appoint a temporary custodian who will run King Inc. and work with them to determine the future of the corporation Monday. The temporary custodian is also meant to add credibility to the troubled estate and allow the siblings a chance to focus on healing their personal relationships. According to the AP, all three siblings said they looked forward to mending the rifts of recent months and that significant progress had been made with Monday’s resolution.
“It was a tiring day, but I would say a very triumphant day,” Dexter King said after the hearing.

“This allows us to begin the healing process. I’m looking forward to the future. The most important thing is that we can advance the legacy of our parents.”