Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Senator Levin: “Your Clients Lost. Goldman Profits”

I was tooling around the internet for awhile yesterday, looking for a transcript of the Congressional hearings that featured Goldman Sachs executives and traders as the star witnesses, before I realized that nowhere in print was there any real sense of what had gone on. Congressional hearings may have been effective at some point in the past, but these days, the witnesses are usually far too polished and used to dissembling for hours at a time to be of any real value, and the senators and congressmen who are asking the questions are usually too polite to do more than ask questions of little or no value.

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Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Can Kevin Powell Win the Role of Congressman for NYC 10th District?

I opened by email account this weekend to find a Facebook invitation to join the group “Kevin Powell for Congress.” It was one of those moments where I literally leaned back from my laptop shaking my head in surprise. Who would ever have thought that Kevin Powell, the soulful, soft spoken young black poet who starred in the inaugural episode of The Real World, would end up running for Congress? It seems as if we have watched Powell mature from a prickly, self righteous, struggling artiste into a world renowned writer, speaker and activist.

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Politic365 uses modern technology to express and support the voices of minority populations in a way not often seen in today’s political media landscape. Politic365 covers political issues related to the economy, healthcare, technology, energy as well as a variety of social and cultural issues from the perspective of minority communities.



Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Goldman Sachs Needs "Investment Banker Toolkits" For Their Troops

I used to have a joke I told all the time, back when the mortgage business was booming, about the “loan officer’s tool kit.” If I saw someone standing in front of the copier, frowning at the papers they were rifling through, most likely because the borrower had disclosed an annual income for the 1003 Uniform Residential Loan application that was higher than the actual income reflected on the copy of the W2 the loan officer was frowning at, I might say, “looks like you need to pull out your ‘loan officer’s tool kit.’"

Bewildered, because there really was no such kit, they would invariably ask “what’s that?” Whereupon I would give them a cheesy smile and say, with as straight a face as I could muster, “a bottle of White-Out and a pair of scissors.”


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You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.


This could be a week the boys at Goldman Sachs would like to forget, but it's more likely to be the equivalent of falling asleep on the beach - it'll sting for a few days, and their faces will be boiled lobster red, but in a week they'll be okay. Between the showdown in the senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try to make the GOP walk the plank as they reject the Democrats financial reform proposal, and the oh so scary thought of the fifteen or twenty Goldman employees who are expected to testify tomorrow in front of Congress, you would think something might finally come out of all this that would really make a difference to the general public.

This ain't that kinda party.

In fact, it never is. I love my president to death, but he does not have the will to stick hot pokers up the collective asses of Wall Streets denziens until they scream out for mercy. For a nation that is obsessed with the truth, even as our lives are constructed mostly out of half truths and convenient fictions, it would simply be too much for the average American to process the kind of stream of consciousness confession this kind of torture might elicit, the kind of rambling harangue between tears that would reveal to the public how little connection there is between the rows of zeros they play with and the actual hard earned pensions and savings and mutual funds they represent, the kind of coughing, sputtering, agonized howl of foul, vile invective that would really show you how much they cared about your American Dream.


And even if he had the will, he couldn't do it, because no one does this in modern politics. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the Libertarians, not fanatical the Ron Paul acolytes - not even the overcounted, underprincipled Tea Baggers have the guts to take the country back to 1907, or 1870, or 1835, or 1793, or any one of the times in our nation's first 150 years when white Americans enjoyed everything on the Tea Party's bullshit wishlist - a limited and weak federal government, practically no taxes, and markets that were lightly regulated.

These were such great times, in fact, when there were no roads to speak of, patent medicines that killed or maimed people by the thousands, regular epidemics that wiped out hundreds of thousands, factories that tacked the value of lost limbs on the wall the way you see prices for a Big Mac at McDonald's, no libraries, few public colleges - the list could go on, but at the top of it were those oh so honorable Robber Barons like Vanderbilt and Gould and Sage, men who manipulated markets and cooked the books and renamed liabilities as assets like...

...well, like Goldman Sachs.

But so long as we are willing to wink at Wall Street when it tells us that 2+2=5, we deserve what we get. So long as we are willing to welcome the latest invention they've cooked up in the lab, because it helps us to get what we want today, even if we don't have the money for it, or the cash flow to pay it off, we deserve what we get. So long as we get weak in the knees while reading about multi-million dollar salaries and billions of dollars in bonuses for standing on top of OUR money, we deserve what we get. This is why Congress won't do diddly - because we aren't demanding anything more than a slap on the wrist to make it look good for the cameras. Until the SEC has the same powers the FBI has, or at the very least what the IRS has, we are just whistling Dixie.

I'll bet the folks in Greece are wishing they'd never heard of Goldman Sachs right about now.

One thing the "we don't need no regulation" Tea Baggers might want to consider - back in the good old days, when the Robber Barons ran the show on Wall Street, there were no bailouts from the government. They just failed, often without warning, stopping the entire economy in its tracks. If you would quit listening to Glen Beck and Michelle Malkin long enough to read some actual history instead of struggling so hard to grasp what the Constitution really says, maybe you would see this.

I'll be looking for you Tea Baggers in the Goldman Sachs cheering section - I imagine you'll be the ones who AREN'T wearing the $3000 suits.



Big Think Is Moving On Up



Actually, we are moving on DOWN, to the bottom side of the Google News page, but that’s a bit of semantics for the pedantic reader to worry about. As the theme song for The Jeffersons still says somewhere every night in TV syndication land, "we finally got a piece of the pie."

If you go to the bottom of the Google News page, you will see a feature called "Fast Flip". I have to confess – before I went looking for this thing, after my editor at Big Think announced that we were one of the publications featured in it, I had never been to the Google News page.

Sadly enough, despite the often misleading headlines and wandering prose, the first place I click to find out what’s going on is the Huffington Post, mostly because it’s a good way to see what everybody else is looking at, but also because they’ve got headlines and pictures of a lot of different kinds of stories all on the front page. In a way, I think the lack of uniformity between the different articles gives it a more eclectic feel than a lot of more modern looking sites, even though most of HuffPo’s stuff are sensationalist fluff.

I guess the people at Google figured this out too, because this Fast Flip, if you are on its main page, looks a lot like HuffPo, with a lot of headlines you can just skim through pretty quick. I actually skimmed through the Boing Boing site this way a few minutes ago after seeing their name on the list of publications. It is a place I’ve been meaning to visit for months, but just never got around to doing.

Is this Fast Flip a good thing for the contributing sites? I don’t know. But if the IPhone and Android apps for Fast Flip do what I think they do, allowing the user to flip through one snapshot of a page at a time, this makes a lot of sense. In fact, if there was a mode I could chose that would allow me to do the same thing on my laptop, I’d like it even better, because I can barely see anything but the headlines with these middle aged eyes I have. Who knows, it may actually already have that feature and I just haven’t found it yet.

In any case, you need to check it out, because yours truly has a few pieces in the Big Think section under my real name, Kris Broughton. All I can say is, it is cool as hell to be able to flip through this thing and see your own work pop up next to the big boys of the media.

Maybe it will inspire me to go to sleep in a few minutes so I can get back to work in a few hours and crank out some new blog posts.




Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Can Democrats Capitalize On The Latest Media Narrative About GOP?

If you have been reading the op-ed pages lately, you have begun to notice in the last week or so that a subtle change in their rhetoric is taking place. Scott Brown of Massachusetts is no longer a brilliant maverick who rose to the Senate on the back of a vibrant Tea Party movement and discontent about healthcare reform, according to the leading edge of conventional wisdom – now he is a lackluster politician with no clear sense of direction who is looking more and more like he will only be a special term senator. The idea that the Republicans will take control of the House and gain a few seats in the Senate is no longer seen as a forgone conclusion by a growing number of our professional political prognosticators.

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Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Goldman Sachs Lawsuit Will Rearrange The Game on Wall Street

On Thursday, President Obama will go to New York to deliver a speech to Wall Street’s financial elite. He will lecture them. He will be stern with them. And he will use phrases to describe the creation of trading exchanges for derivatives that will carry great meaning for those whose job it is to write about such things. When his speech on financial reform is over, the rest of us, especially many of us who are African American, will turn the channel, or click on the next C-Span video, or wait until the guy on Comedy Central gives us the short, funny version, and then be on our way, as if these things don’t really concern us.

We would be wrong.


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Politic365 uses modern technology to express and support the voices of minority populations in a way not often seen in today’s political media landscape. Politic365 covers political issues related to the economy, healthcare, technology, energy as well as a variety of social and cultural issues from the perspective of minority communities.




Yardwork, Brown Man Style


There wasn’t much TV watching or newspaper reading or web surfing going on this weekend in our house. I didn't get to see the man who wanted Lindsay Graham come out of the closet, although I had no idea he was even in a damn closet, or watch the endless hours of billowing ash clouds shown over and over that obviously touched the inner child inside of the cable network news producers fascinated by the idea of a real live volcano, or catch the clip of El Dumbo Rusho blaming the volcano eruption on the black man who lives in the White House, or listen to the incessant chatter from political pundits about the Supreme Court nominees as if they were contestants on American Idol.

Nope, this was one of those weekends where instead of cobbling together an extended profane political polemic like “Goldman Sachs Got 99 Problems But Telling Lies Ain’t One”, S. and I were eagerly working in the yard, cleaning away dead leaves, pruning trees and bushes, and spreading a black velvet colored mulch around the yard. Okay, “eagerly” is probably the wrong word for the attitude I had. It was probably more like “why the hell am I, a well documented life-long allergy sufferer, outside in all this damn pollen?”

The yard does look a lot better, although I am still itching and sneezing. I guess “yard” is probably the wrong word too – there is no grass (hallelujah!!) at all, just a couple of narrow, mulch covered areas between the house and the street. The only topiary are bushes that ring the red brick colored pavers of the turnaround and the perimeter of the front, bushes that are now like old friends whose hair I cut every week with scissors-like shears.

A friend of mine from across town showed up Sunday afternoon with his two boys and their friend after attending a soccer game just around the corner. Two four year olds and a nine year old, they were the Three Musketeers – one mini afro, one mini fade, and one Mini Wheats colored shock of blonde hair that kept disappearing around corners and behind cars, at least until the kids from next door came outside.

The family next door are Russians, as in Russians from Russia, with heavy accents like they have in the movies and an insane obsession with cars. Their daughter is in the second or third grade, and their son, who speaks a totally unintelligible polyglot of Russian and English fragments, is three. In twenty minutes, I’d gone from being a lone field negro bagging dead leaves while breathing through a makeshift turban to starring in a cast of characters that included S. with the dog, a bowl of popcorn, three pre-testosterone boys following the Russian princesses every move, and a three year old I had to do sign language with who hollered every time he saw a bee.

Needless to say, a good bit of that pile of mulch remains right where the truck dropped it off. For in the midst of all this chaos, my buddy remembered the brace of cigars he’d brought over, and pulled them out of his pocket. A word to the wise - if you ever get to choose your friends, choose the kind that are apt to pull a handful of Romeo Y Julieta double coronas out of their pocket . They are even better than the occasional bottle of hooch when it comes to making a friend's flaws recede into nothingness.

By the time this was all over, I had been forced to pull out my Super Soaker to defend my manhood. The kids had dropped so much popcorn on the paving stones, the dog had simply given up trying to eat them all. The pink Barbie Escalade had run out of power after careening around the cul-de-sac loaded down with passengers. And young Master Mini Wheats surprised himself by yelling “I love you” to the Russian princess from the backseat of my friend’s truck as he pulled off.

As I write this, there is a Thank You note on the table from another pair of kids who live a few houses down. They are likely to be of Russian origin themselves, although their families have been mainstream Americans for a few generations. The note reads, “Dear Miss S. – Thank you so much for our candy filled pumpkins, We are so happy that you live in our neighborhood!”

I thought about all of these things later, while S. and I and that handy Romeo Y Julieta I was puffing on began to start spreading the mulch over the deweeded, deleafed areas. I thought about the disconnect in America between our brownskinned president of the United States and those Americans who feel so strongly that he does not belong in the White House, that he is not their president, that he cannot be trusted to talk to their kids. I thought about all of the people I live around, who most of whom are white, to whom S. and the dog or me and my cigars and my hedge clippers are as ubiquitous as the pine trees are in the subdivision we live in. Why can't the crazy folks across America I didn't get to see on my TV this weekend see what my neighbors see? I mean, S. is tall, and is a lawyer, like Michelle. And I like to talk a lot, and I'm biracial myself, just like the president...

...okay, maybe being half black and half Geechie isn't exactly the same as being half black and half white - more like half black and half rice - but you get where I'm going with the general theme. Smart, well educated, well behaved, well mannered black folks like us and practically every black person who reads this blog have been goodwill ambassadors before anybody even knew who the Obama's were, bridging the gap between the ignorance of stereotypes and the reality of our existence.

I thought about the disconnect between my neighbors, who expect to see me and know who I am, and the weekenders touring the neighborhood whose eyes often jump when they see me trimming hedges in my “Obama” t-shirt while puffing a trusty stogie. I think of the one weekender in particular who saw me coming out the garage a couple of years ago and slammed into reverse. It took three months for the paint he scraped away from the bumper of his brand new car when he hit the stone wall ringing the cul-de-sac to fade away.

Meanwhile, a stubborn subset of white America continues to embarrass their saner, more normal brethren on an almost hourly basis these days on my TV. It's almost enough to make me want grab one of those choice Romeo Y Julietas my buddy brought me and head outside to that slowly dwindling pile of mulch and get to spreading.

Then again, I could just smoke the cigar and think about doing some work.









Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Goldman Sachs Really On The Ropes This Time

If you are up too late, and the TV is on, chances are at some point you will hear the “bom bom bom bom bom” of Law and Order’s iconic intro music. In one particular episode, a delusional poet who’d lost her own daughter kidnapped a 10 year old girl who had been one of her students, taking her away from a life of neglect in a foster home. There was something about the way the woman had totally convinced herself that her actions were not only not illegal, but above reproach and ordained by God, that had me thinking about one Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, leader of that band of merry men known to the world as Goldman Sachs, who feels he is doing "God’s work" as chairman of one of the most powerful investment banks in the world.

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Big Think is yours. We are what you think.







S. mentioned to me Thursday night that Joe Barry Carroll was suing The Tavern at Phipps, an upscale restaurant and bar in Phipps Plaza.

Normally, this would have no significance for me, because I don’t follow NBA players of today, let alone yesteryear, but in this case, I had to laugh, because we’d attended a Kwanzaa celebration a couple of years ago where Carroll was also a guest. It was a pretty small gathering, so we all ended up talking to each other quite a bit during the evening.

If you can picture a shock of long braids on a seven foot tall black man in a tailored blue business suit, the most XLLLT white-on-blue dress shirt I’ve ever seen, and a pair of two-toned leather spectators that looked half a mile long, then you might have a chance at imagining his presence back then. When a dude this big talks with his hands, you listen. Although, being the Brown Man, that didn’t last long, and after I got over having to tilt my head back to look up at him, I was back to being my usual bombastic self, arguing with him and the others about everything and nothing.

He was a smooth talker, who looked like he was used to being the center of attention, but then, who wouldn’t be at that height? He didn’t hold his tongue that night at the holiday celebration as we talked about everything from pop culture to societal issues to politics. I imagine the same Joe Barry Carroll was on display at The Tavern at Phipps, a bar I’ve frequented myself.

I thought of all this in just a couple of seconds before I responded to S.
"I’ve been to The Tavern At Phipps. It used to be a broker bar, a financial services bar, a lawyer bar, a sales rep bar, the kind of place where shit talking and political incorrectness reigned after work, that also attracted some of Buckhead's moneyed elite. The bar staff wasn’t really there to serve you – they did bar tricks. And the customers are arrogant as hell. I don’t think this is the first time they’ve been sued for discrimination. I think two black guys sued them a few years ago."

It turns out Carroll was one of "the two black guys" who sued them a couple of years ago – their case is just now coming to trial. More accurately, pre-trial stuff that will determine whether or not the case goes forward.

"I guess he must live on the Southside," I continued, "because any black guy who hangs out on the north end of town knows how quick the whole place looks up when you walk in." I thought about my own run-ins over the years in the waterholes right around John’s Creek and Alpharetta, where black people doing anything in them besides bringing your drinks can still be a rarity. In particular, I thought about a story I wrote about on this very blog, one of dozens of times it felt like I’d walked back into the fifties.

I was in my own neighborhood bar a couple of years ago, a bar I had frequented enough to have a few friends and a rapport with the bartenders that found my favorite beer waiting on me by the time I sat down, when I ran into a guy on a mission. There was only one seat open, so I sat next to him. Because the bar was busy, I had to wait for my beer to be served. The next thing I knew, the guy sitting next to me turned in his seat, looked directly into my eyes, and said, "You know buddy, I think you’re looking for another bar."

He looked like all the other guys in for a few cold ones, guys whose company I’d grown to enjoy. So I said "what’s wrong with this one?"

He leaned in, as if I was a mouse in a cage in a science lab, his eyes piercing, a snide laugh escaping his lips. "I just figured – you know – a fellow like you might like this bar over in Roswell a little better."

I was kind of annoyed because my beer was taking so long, so I answered him before I realized what he was trying to say. "Dude, this is the closest bar to my house. Roswell is too far."

He snorted, his nostrils flaring, and took another tack. "I think you’ll enjoy the music they play over there better than the stuff they play here. You know, the music your kind of people like."

In half a second, he had taken all the prospective fun out of my Friday night. I was alternately livid and outraged, as well as angry at myself for getting too comfortable in a place where I stood out like a sore thumb. In another half a second, I’d made up my mind. "This sum-bitch is not running me out of this bar tonight" I said to myself as I glared back at him. Then a smile came over my face. I leaned in towards him. "Actually, I like the music in this place. Jeff is a pretty damn good musician. When he does Sinatra, he’s on the money."


from Afraid Of The Dark : Racial Animosity
Why do you go to a place like The Tavern At Phipps? Because at night it is glitz-and-glamour tits-and-ass central, with waitresses who look like they could work at a strip club without changing clothes, and a clientele that is all swagger, some of them in designer shit you never heard of, with married, single, divorced, and "girls night out" cleavage everywhere, a heightened swirl of testosterone and estrogen hanging thick in the air. The music is too loud and the crowd can be obnoxious as hell, but if you go there in the right mood, in the right threads, AND NOBODY ASKS YOU TO GIVE UP YOUR SEAT BEFORE YOU ARE READY, it can be a fantastic time.

I wasn't there the night Carroll says he got the boot for being black. I didn't read the lawsuit, although I would imagine, if he got kicked out along with his lawyer, it's probably a pretty damn good one. None of that really matters. I don’t know what proof the judge wants, but if he needs more evidence, he can call me.

Because Carroll is right.

The way some people look at you if they come into The Tavern At Phipps and see you sitting at the bar can make you feel like a cross between O.J. and the Scottsboro Boys. Most of the white guys there who are customers there don’t give a damn how black you are, so long as you don’t bother them, or you know who won the game last night.

But there is a certain type of Buckhead Betty, or Buckhead Betty lookalike, who purses her lips like she is trying out for a starring role in Gone With The Wind, whose dander gets up when it looks like dark-skinned interlopers have invaded their inner sanctum and deprived them of prime real estate - seats at the bar.

They make private clubs for people like these.

There have been times when I’ve been at The Tavern at Phipps and given up my seat when I knew I was about to finish my drink…

…and the women eyeballing me were cordial or friendly, or even a little flirty.

And there have been times when I have stared right back at women whose arms were laden down with bags, women with sourpuss faces whose insistent, fidgeting stances were meant to signal to me that they wanted, no they DESERVED the seat my ass was in. Stared back at them and bit slowly into my burger, or sipped slowly at my drink, because I had come there for a piece of prime bar real estate myself.

I reserved my angry black man scowl, the one that completely rearranged the flesh about my eyes, giving their brownness a murderous glare, for those breathy, brassy types, the ones who were forward enough to tap you on the shoulder while a half eaten burger was still on your plate and a fresh beer was in your hand to ask "are you going to be here long?" if I was eating by myself next to a single empty bar stool

I’m nowhere near as tall as Carroll, though I imagine he can scowl just as fiercely as I can, only he's got more face to work with, so I can only wonder at the kind of uproar that might have ensued.

All I can say is, I hope he was wearing those cold-as-hell two toned spectators that day they kicked him out.





"I thought it was Slavery Celebration Month."

It’s a good thing I was at home when I read this sentence, because I would have scared the shit out of the coffee shop crowd when I hollered out. Between that and the woman last night on Twitter who kept insisting to me that Obama has “failed”, even as the man on my TV recounted the number of nuclear non-proliferation deals the president got done this week, I am convinced that these Tea Baggers and militia men and and Governors Bob McConnell and Haley Barbour have fallen down a rabbit hole, and are now watching real life from behind a glass enclosure, where a mixture of laughing gas and goofer dust is being pumped into the air they breathe.

The headline I saw a couple of days ago over at Talking Points Memo read “VA Gov McDonnell Institutes Writing Test For Felons Seeking Voting Rights.” It won’t take USA TODAY 24 hours to come up with a color coded chart that shows in graphic detail how many of these felons are minorities. Bob McConnell is obviously trying to get his “Cracker Cred” up to snuff. Or maybe the dumb ass political consultant with the slicked back hair, the one the Virginia state GOP is paying waay, waay too much for this kind of advice, is smoking crack for breakfast before he jumps on the strategy conference call. But even if he were, BOB - cause you don’t deserve to be called “Governor” of shit right now – wouldn’t you realize, when someone threw this out there as an idea, that it is politically tone deaf? Do you think you only serve the people who voted for you, and not your entire state?

For those of you who have no idea what the Civil War was all about:

By 1860 there were approximately 4,000,000 slaves in the United States, the second largest slave society--slave population--in the world. The only one larger was Russian serfdom. Brazil was close. But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars--that's just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today's dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself, and no one can really put a dollar value on all of the land of North America.

it was about the money - the same thing its about now. But I bet you won't see this kind of stuff in your kid's history books. Not so long as Americans who long for the inequities of yesteryear insist on teaching "2+2=5", so that the bullshit they are trying to pass off as "authentic history" will pass the smell test.

As I used to tell my buddy years ago, when he asked why so many Southern whites were still mad about the confederacy, "Can you imagine waking up one morning to see all your money walking around free? Black people waving at you from across the street, telling you that you've got to PAY now for the labor you used to get for providing a few meals and a rickety roof to lay their heads under?"

This is really, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant - black people are here to stay. And most of us - let me repeat that - THE MAJORITY OF US - are doing the right thing 24/7/365.

So if I were you, BOB, I'd take my pseudo-Nazi Confederate paraphernalia and pile it up with all the others who continue to insist on paying homage to the most treasonous act in the history of the United States, soak that shit in a few thousand gallons of gas, and burn every goddamn remnant until there's nothing left but a pile of ashes.

Robert E. Lee is not coming back, the Calvary will not ride again, and your great-great grandmother was, is, and will always be wrong about "the South will rise again", so long as you and Haley Barbour's Boss Hogg ass are the best you have to offer.

This is "America Has A Black President" month.

The next celebration will begin May 1st. The one after that will be June 1st. The one after that...

...I think you get the picture.

 Is that "Hail To The Chief" I here playing?







Last month I had a few pieces at Big Think I really liked, so I've put together a list of links to them.

Enjoy.

A Glorious Waste Of Time 
We were in the middle of a conversation around the table at a restaurant when our first year art student made a comment about her classes. "You might be a better artist than you know," I said. "You’ve just got to put the time in. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something." She looked at me with the kind of skepticism only a teenager could muster, her eyes widening in disbelief.  Read More
 
Real Education Reform Begins With "No Parent Left Behind"
A Blueprint for Reform, The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the next big idea for the nation’s school systems that the Obama Administration wants Congress to implement, when you really think about it, is simply a mechanism to provide access to quality elementary and secondary educational opportunities in as many communities as possible. I applaud the president’s efforts to de-emphasize standardized testing. I commend his administration for realizing that the input from local school districts is more important than ever. But I think the bill we really need would be called "No Parent Left Behind."   Read More
 
Japanese Film Legend Kurosawa: Master Craftsman 
I’m writing a novel, titled Anamorphosis, that revolves around the challenges an African American auteur experiences when he agrees to direct a film because he needs the money. I’ve never made a movie myself, so I’ve had to rely on research and my imagination to generate the chapters I’ve accumulated so far. My protagonist, at one point in the story, is enamored of the time he spent in Japan, where he was forced to use the lack of space to his advantage as a director. The amazing thing about this scene I made up is, until this week, I’d never seen a movie by a Japanese director, but when I watched Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa, I could feel I’d been on the right track all the time.   Read More
 
My Favorite Cigar Store Closes Down Today
My favorite cigar shop is closing today. I got an email on Friday from the owner. "Closing down sale, cash only sale, all must go." I've lived through the demise of a business or two myself, so I am acutely aware of how hard it was for the owner to type those few terse words. It was the only cigar store in the area with a bar in it, attracting an eclectic clientele who often hung around to debate the issues of the day over a glass of beer or wine. In many ways, the closing of this small business is a grim, uniquely personal reminder of the fundamental weakness that continues to persist in our national economy.   Read More

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Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


The Supreme Court Shortlist Loves Leah Ward Sears

Years ago, back in 1994, when I returned to Atlanta to stay, I went to a reception for Judge Leah Ward Sears, who had been selected by Governor Zell Miller in 1992 to join the Georgia Supreme Court. She was the youngest justice ever appointed, and the first African American woman to serve on the state's highest court. It was a gathering sponsored by Marvin Arrington, now a Fulton County superior court judge, who at that time was in private practice with his partner, David Hollowell, a noted civil rights attorney. Arrington, one of the first two blacks to enter Emory University’s law school, had always reached out to Emory’s African American students and alumni, so it was no surprise to be invited to affair he held in his high rise office in downtown Atlanta for Emory Law alum Sears.

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Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Back To The Future With Timescast Webisodes

I’ve been a New York Times junkie since I was thirteen years old. This in itself shouldn’t be a big deal, but if you were growing up in a small Southern town in the seventies, it wasn’t like you could buy a copy from the bodega on the corner, namely because we had no bodegas. The lone newsstand in our town was the only place to go to get out of state newspapers. The New Yorker was the gateway periodical. Their writers talked about “The Times” so much that one week, I ponied up and purchased, for what seemed like an enormous sum at the time, the biggest Sunday paper I’d ever read in my life.

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The Brown Man Is Now In The Nazi Killin' Bidness


The Confederates lost.

I never liked those damn Civil War reenactments.

I mean, could you imagine the Germans reenacting the Nazi Occupation of France? Cause that's the category Confederates sympathizers and reenactors and "the South will rise aginers" are under in my book.

American Nazis.

As Brad Pitt's character Lt. Aldo Raine in the movie Inglorious Bastards was wont to say in his Tennessee accent, "I'M IN THE NAZI-KILLIN' BIDNESS!"

If they were real Confederates, then they would know what the Constitution actually states, and understand what the real Confederate soldiers knew - that to wear that uniform and fight against the union was to risk death or imprisonment if they lost.

Which they did, but since Lincoln was such a bright guy, who understood that killing or imprisoning THESE Nazi's was likely to cause more problems than it would solve, they got to walk around free.

Where I think our modern day American right wing Nazi's - led by their Fuhrers Beck and Hannity and my number one fan, Michelle Malkin - have lost touch with reality is this insistence that the federal government, the one that seemed to be just fine 18 months ago when Commandant Bush was in charge, doesn't look so good these days.

Maybe if we called the UNITED States of America what it really is - a collective - then the collectivist notions that have helped to make this country great wouldn't seem so communistic. This COLLECTIVE of states has done more to advance the interests of Americans than any one state or combination of states could achieve. It has done more to elevate our standard of living, create opportunities for economic growth, and educate our children than any ragtag effort by individual states could have ever hoped to achieve.

Europe has the kinds of nation-states these right wing Nazi's seem to want to create so nobody can tell them what to do, but guess what? The 40 billion the EUROPEAN COLLECTIVE is ponying up to keep Greece afloat is the same thing we do here, only without the national chestbeating, when we ship cash from rich states to poor states to keep the collective operating.

The German Nazi's were wrong then, and the American right wing Nazi's are wrong today.

EXCERPT:

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction
-- Brittanica Concise Dictionary

Well, finally. It's high time somebody had the guts to say the S-word -- sedition -- right out loud.
When the indictments against the Hutaree were unsealed last week, the S-word was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of "seditious conspiracy," charging that the defendants "did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown...to levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law."

This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They're by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.

We saw it again last Thursday, when the Guardians of the Free Republics -- a Sovereign Citizen group that believes that the oath of office taken by state governors is invalid under their twisted Bizarroland interpretation of the Constitution -- sent letters to most or all sitting state governors telling them to either a) take what they consider to be a legitimate oath of office; b) stand down; or c) or be removed "non-violently" within three days. The FBI, rightly, regards this as a potentially seditious threat against the governors.

These two events are a wake-up call for progressives. They're telling us that it's time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of constitutional democracy in America. When they're in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they're out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all -- indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government's authority and capacity to run the country. And it's been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.

This long assault has gone into overdrive since Obama's inauguration, as the rhetoric has ratcheted up from overheated to perfervid. We've reached the point where you can't go a week without hearing some prominent right wing leader calling for outright sedition -- an immediate and defiant populist uprising against some legitimate form of government authority.

Moderates and liberals are responding to this rising threat with feckless calls for "a return to civility," as if all that's needed to put things right again is a stern talking-to from Miss Manners. Though that couldn't hurt, the sad fact is that we're well past the point where it's just a matter of conservatives behaving like tantrum-throwing spoiled brats (which they are). When a mob is surrounding your house with torches and telling you they intend to burn it down, "civility" really isn't the issue any more.

Sara Robinson
None Dare Call It Sedition

Now I know why the Christian Right has to tell you how religious they are all the time - so you don't see the tails peeking out behind them.

And I know why they keep looking for "real Americans" - because they are the furtherest thing from them.

"Real American" corporations are deserting the rancid rantings of Glen Beck daily.

"Real Americans understand that the Confederacy was a lost cause from the getgo, and its weak modern day militia minded imitators have less chance than they did of tearing this American union apart.

"Real Americans" are holding their hands over their ears whenever the UnHoly Trinity of Beck, Hannity, and Malkin get to boiling over with baseless invective.

"Real Americans", though are going to have to come in from the cold.

Cause it's time for us "Real Americans" to get back into "the Nazi killin' bidness" stateside.

I've got my cigar ready.









The Brown Man Can't Keep His Eyes Open Tonight


I pride myself on coming up with original stuff to post here on a regular basis, but tonight I just don't have it. Too many visits from old college buddies and my homeboy and another buddy's birthday party, combined with a sinking feeling that I may be writing for too many places, even though I just added another blog I'm supposed to get started with next week, plus that dreaded four letter word W-O-R-K that keeps getting in the way of any writing downtime means it was all I could do today to keep my eyes open during the final round of the Masters.

So I have nominated a fellow scribe over at Daily Kos to fill in for me today. "Sorry, The Sarah Palin Argument is Enough For Me" pretty much reinforces the soapbox I've been on lately (you're probably wondering, "which soapbox is he talking about - he's on a new one all the time), the one points out how stupid the Democrats are these days for not standing tall with the guy in the White House who SHOWED THEM HOW TO WIN.

"Real life politics are different from what we dream of. In reality, you have to start where you are - in a country that's been pushed hard right for 30 years - and deal with that reality while pushing back. I see President Obama as a real life politician. He knows he's not going to get everything he wants and he's willing to accept that. He's not willing to sit back and not try because it's too hard, he's not going to push his own agenda under a rug because he has to deal with Blue Dogs and the party of Hell No You Can't, and he's not going to lose big because it's the only way to please the left. If we can rein ourselves in and stop demanding the impossible we might actually get some pretty radical things accomplished."
Sorry, The Sarah Palin Argument is Enough For Me


Tiger said it best in his post-game interview with Peter Kostis today, after Kostis asked Tiger if he thought coming in fourth was a pretty good finish, given the circumstances. "I didn't win."

Winning isn't important, it is crucial.

How crucial? There will probably be at least one more retirement from the Supreme Court before 2012, and two or three more between now and 2016, for starters.

I'm quitting here before I get wound up, but check out "Sorry, The Sarah Palin Argument is Enough For Me" - it is directed at progressive Dems but should be a must read for anybody who pushed the button for Obama in 2008 who is getting weak in the knees about his presidency.






Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Following In Your Father's Footsteps

My college buddy from Detroit is in town this week. We stayed up too late last night talking, just like we used to do when we were back in school at Emory University. My buddy was in Atlanta this weekend to bring his son, who recently received his acceptance letter to Emory, for a visit to our alma mater.

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Tiger Woods Is Back To Kicking Ass And Taking Names



Tiger is back.

For real.

Kicking ass and taking names.

I talked to my buddy this morning. He was surprised, but then he would be, because he takes all of his cues from the bullshit he hears on TV.

“Think about it,” I said. "His mind is clear. No phone numbers to hide, no elaborate ruses to keep his wife from finding out what’s going on, no confusion over just which chick might be next in the rotation – “was it #9 this week, #23, or am I going with an 'even numbers between 20 and 30' combo? – I mean, he has NOTHING on his mind these days but golf.”

If you live in Georgia, either your boss is going to the Masters, or you are the boss, and you are trying to find tickets so you can go to the Masters. Or he or you are holed up in his/your office watching the live feed on ESPN.com and calling his/your buddies to talk about...

...what else? How Tiger is doing.

Or you are on the job, cursing the pollen and furtively clicking on ESPN.com, or checking the leaderboard on your phone, or pretending you are working from home today so you can watch the whole thing on your big screen TV at home, or are at a looong, loong lunch watching the highlights over a "I'm not going back to the office with this on my breath" type of beverage.

Add to this the phenomenon of spring break for two metro counties, and this is practically a holiday week in the ATL.

I actually would have enjoyed the whole week, but since USA TODAY insists on paying Christine Brennan a salary to crow about how a man SHOULD be acting when he is in the situation Tiger is in, I am more than a little ticked off at her columns, which suggest, without any subtlety at all, that Tiger needs to be declawed.

The crowd of well-to-do white men ringing the greens at Augusta, home of the He-Man Woman Haters Club for Rich Men and the world’s greenest golf course in captivity, like Tiger just the way he was, profane and intense and twice as good as Phil Mickelson. These men are not interested in political correctness. These men do not care how much quality time Tiger spends with his kids, or whether he screws every woman on his block.

What they want is to see a man smack a dimpled white ball from an impossible lie in the rough so that it curves AROUND a stand of pine trees and plops down on the green 10 feet from the pin.

What they want to see are herculean three hundred and fifty yard drives down the narrow fairways at Augusta that soar so high they appear to be headed into orbit.

Christine Brennan can go kick rocks.

Actually, she can join Don Quixote and spend the rest of her life searching for the impossible. She will never find type of ideal man she and her cohorts dream about – a kindergartner with a credit card who is allergic to other women.

So long as Tiger Woods is to golf what the Kennedys were to politics, bringing a Camelot level of excitement and panache to a tedious sport the way the Kennedys brought glamor and style to government service, his infidelities will tarnish him the same way Jack Kenney's infidelities have tainted his legacy - not at all. 






Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Financial Reform Bill Offers Real Benefits for African Americans

Despite the debate between black pundits and black leaders about whether or not the Obama administration has a “black agenda,” one thing is clear — the financial reform proposals President Obama would like to sign into law this year are poised to bring clear and immediate benefits to an African American population that has borne its share of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

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Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Anti-Obama Billboard Threatens Anonymity Of Original Backers

These are the list of questions I sent BillboardsAgainstObama when I requested an interview with them.

Do any of your Billboards Against Obama business partners businesses employ African Americans?

Do any of your Billboards Against Obama business partners do business with African American markets?

Do any of your Billboards Against Obama business partners do business with local, state, or federal governments?

Do your anonymous businessmen who have partnered with you in this venture feel that a comparison to the Klu Klux Klan members penchant for wearing white hoods to obscure their identities would be an accurate assessment of their desire to remain unknown?

Is your organization a 503(c)(3) nonprofit?

Do you plan to disclose audited financials to those who donate or sign up for monthly contributions?


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I never really thought of Easter as a holiday growing up. Back then, Easter meant interminable treks through department stores, looking for new clothes. A longer than usual church service, where you sat scrunched up next to people because all of the once-a-year Easter visitors who came that Sunday.

The only saving grace was the food.

I still don’t think of it as a holiday, but S. does. Which means we have a feast, the kind that requires us to pull out a hundred dishes that will take two hours to clean up afterwards. A variety of wine. Scrumptious desserts. And then we sit down to eat after church, where I am now one of those once-a-year Easter visitors who makes everybody sit closer to their neighbors than they really want to be, and eat and talk for hours.

There is something about the languorousness of it all, the slow progression from your first serving to your second, the settling effect that allows you to begin digging into dessert an hour or so after the main course, and the warm patina a few glasses of wine give to the whole thing, that makes it feel positively Italian, if real Italian family dinners are as decadent and baroque as the ones we see depicted in the movies. It felt even moreso this year when the Resident Diva dubbed my brother “Luigi” out of the blue, after the Super Mario Brothers video game character.

The conversation is, loosely speaking, a round robin affair, with stories and gossip and imaginatively recounted memories that are poignant and hilarious and heartfelt all at once.

Which is how I learned who Waka Flocka Flame is.

How my brother, isn’t much younger than me, knows who this rapper with no album is is beyond me. But the Resident Diva, who was as surprised as I was that my brother knew this, took the storytelling baton from my brother and kept running with the tale about the rapper with the crazy name.

The name was so funny I kept saying it over and over.

Waka Flocka Flame

Then I open up my USA TODAY yesterday(yeah, I know, its a schlocky excuse for a newspaper, but hey, I’m a writer – a social and political commentator, no less - you gotta look everywhere for ideas these days) and I see that Michael “Money Mike” Steele has got all his executive rats jumping ship.

Waka Flocka Flame

I turned on the TV last night to see slimy Republican hatchet man Alex Castellanos, who was an unpaid advisor to Steele just last month, stare into the camera and call for Steele to step down. Castellanos looked as if the big money boys in the GOP had a gun in his back. If you ran diagnostics on the video with some super sensitive recording analyzer you could probably pick up a faint “TELL THAT NEGRO TO WALK THE PLANK! NOW!” coming through the Castellanos earpiece.

Waka Flocka Flame


Steele, looks like you are on the ropes. The way “Luigi” and I and a few of my other brown-skinned consigliore’s see things, your boys have two choices. They can offer you a cushy landing pad at one of these fake ass think tanks they pay to print up propaganda and drop $30,000 or $40,000 a month in your direct deposit for a year or two, to keep you quiet…

…or jump into this dogfight to get you out of office with both feet and risk having you spill the beans on the whole operation.

If I were you, “Money Mike”, I’d call in Waka Flocka Flame. Tell the board you are working on a “resurrection” of your chairmanship, and Mr. Flame is your first new “disciple.” Keep it simple - make him your “fuck you” consultant. From what I’ve seen in the videos on youtube, he is very, very good at saying “fuck you” with meaning – not Samuel L. Jackson type good, but pretty damn good for a rookie who says he’s only been rapping for six months.

Could you imagine Brian Williams having to report on that shit? "In today’s political news, RNC political consultant Waka Flocka Flame dropped the 'F-bomb' 37 times…in one sentence during a fundraising call before exhorting large donors to 'help us get our stacks up, bitches' for the fall election season."

Think about it, Money Mike.

You’ve got nothing to lose. You would make history. Who knows? The RNC board might even kick in a NetJets lease for 12 months “to ease your transition” if you brought enough real flavor to the office to scare the shit out of them.

That’s W-A-K-A F-L-O-C-K-A F-L-A-M-E

Blacksheep Political Consulting won't even send you a bill for this hour, Mike...

...but we'll be happy to let you take us to the strip club the next time you're in the ATL.







Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Where Did MLK Jr. Stand Politically Before His Death?

Sunday, April 4 was the forty-second anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The 39 year old civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner was shot with a high powered rifle by assassin James Earl Ray on April 4th, 1968 as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King had just made the “I’ve Been to The Mountaintop” speech the night before at the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ.

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Today At Big Think: Not How The Story Ends This Time



Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Not How The Story Ends This Time

When a bullet from the muzzle of a high powered rifle hits the flesh of a human target, the skin is instantly eviscerated by the speed of the bullet’s hot metal tip. The projectile rips apart muscles and arteries, and if the shooter is close enough, can shatter bone into pieces of meal and dust. Despite all of the protest march footage and protest rally speeches that are replayed over and over every year on the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is the vivid, violent, crimson colored image of a dead man lying on a balcony that sits in the front of my mind.

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Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Georgia Abortion Bill Targets African American Women

“Black children are an endangered species.”

That is the message you will see in gigantic letters on 80 billboards in Georgia. This message, alongside pictures of African American infants, is plastered almost exclusively across Dekalb County and Fulton County, areas with some of the highest concentrations of black residents in the state. There is no coincidence that Georgia House Bill 1155 and Georgia Senate Bill 529, which seek to criminalize “race-based” abortions, are currently making their way through the Georgia legislature.


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*******I normally don't put notes on these announcements of my work at other venues, but just reading the line "black children are an endangered species" raises my damn blood pressure. This is some straight up bullshit. Where are the rappers with a killer remix that keeps this kind of shit on the front burner? Where are the black women's groups? The black sororities? The black women who need to take out their frustrations on somebody?*******


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The announcement by the White House about the proposed offshore oil drilling expansion has upset the color coded political narrative that labels policy positions red or blue. It has upset the ideological positions on the environment that many progressive minded Democrats are as crazed about as NRA members are about their guns. And most of all, it has upset the political punditocracy on TV who get paid big bucks to recycle the same old political metaphors in binary fashion, forcing some of them to make even more illogical statements than usual to stick to their party line.

The funny thing is, I didn’t think about the actual drilling, or the potential for oil spills, or even the jobs this could possibly “create” (jobs “creation” is a bigger crock of shit than “Obama is the Anti-Christ. If there is no business going on, nobody needs to hire anyone. A job isn’t "created" – it grows out of a need to either keep up the pace or expand, two things very few businesses are experiencing right now) or even how much oil might be in these areas. The only thing I thought about was "what will the reaction from the Democrats be?"

Considering what the GOP thinks is meaningless – they are committed to the fervent belief that Barack Obama is a pox upon their house, and anything they do or say in response to any political developments begin and end with their obsession to destroy him and his presidency.

It is the “why” behind the Republican obsession with President Obama that should make the Democrats suck up their courage and follow the president off of the ideological reservation they have been living on for the past 50 years.

The GOP hates Barack Obama because he has shown the Democrats how to successfully win the presidency by campaigning actively in all 50 states.

The GOP hates Barack Obama because he has shown the Democrats how to mobilize the kind of successful get-out-the-vote effort for which they used to be known.

The GOP hates Barack Obama because he has shown the Democrats how to successfully expand their donor base to erase the traditional fundraising advantage they normally enjoy.

The GOP hates Barack Obama because he has shown the Democrats how to successfully use the internet to build online communities so potent they don’t need to own TV stations, cable news networks, hundreds of radio stations, or fund dozens of phony think tanks and employ thousands of people to get their message out.

The GOP hates Barack Obama because he has shown that he can and will successfully appropriate any and all of their manipulative techniques and deceptive political subterfuges to achieve his own ends.

If there really was a "liberal media", a phrase that has to be the biggest hype job the GOP has ever entered into the political lexicon, you would know this, because you would see these true statements repeated over and over every single night on TV. Instead, the only thing you hear from the media about the president, who at this time, no thanks to them, is STILL the frontrunner for president in 2012, are a list of negatives, beginning with how “weak” he is, how “fragile” his presidency is, or how much of a “long shot” legislation is.

Back to the word I deliberately seeded this post with earlier – suppose the Democrats began to believe that they are successful? Suppose that the Democrats understood that they are actually winning these days, and started to like the feeling? Suppose the Democrats decided to quit wallowing in martyrdom, self-pity and self-righteousness and begin to truly understand the dictum “to the victor goes the spoils?”

This drilling announcement has about as much teeth in it as the executive order Obama signed for Stupak two weeks ago that did nothing more than restate a position we were already bound by law to abide regarding abortion funding.

But what it DOES do is put the White House on the offensive. It allows them to dictate the political debate. And over the next few weeks, it will put a lot of old wives tales about oil companies to rest as we begin to see how little interest oil companies have had in domestic production for years and how much money they make with much less investment by being middle men.

The Democrats who are ideological hard asses are basically in the same position the Masters golf tournament was with Tiger Woods. They could remain ideologically pure, or they could go with the guy who has made the PGA a resounding financial success the past ten years.

Special interest Democrats have a decision to make too – to remain on the reservation of ideological purity, or go with Barack Obama, the guy who has made your party a resounding political success.







Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Is Learning Without Walls The School Of The Future?

I spoke with one of Atlanta’s former mayors last week about the new advocacy organization she had just joined. Shirley Franklin, the first black woman to run the city, seems to be enjoying life after City Hall as a professor at Spelman College. Though she is selective about the causes she works for these days, she has recently joined the Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) as a senior advisor. The most impressive thing about the interview was when she told me about Learning Without Walls, a pilot program the ADE administers in three cities. In fact, the library based broadband project sounded so good that after the interview, I decided to do a little digging.

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Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Census Day Is Here

What does that mean to you? If you haven’t filled out your census form, you need to take ten minutes to answer the ten questions on the form and send it in. Why is it such a big deal today? Because April 1 is the day that the U.S. Census Bureau uses as its baseline to measure the population of the nation. And because, according to this map, if you live in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia, New York, or Alaska, your state’s participation rate in the 2010 census is below 50%.

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