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


Co-Valedictorians Crowd Academic Tradition Off The Stage

My mother was the valedictorian of her senior class in high school over fifty years ago. She doesn’t remember exactlywhat she said at graduation, but she does remember having to memorize her speech word for word. “You weren’t allowed to read your speech at all.” In a rural farming community that understood how important and education was for the future of their children, being recognized as the top academic student in her school meant a lot.

If my memory serves me correctly, my own grade point rank put me somewhere in the high twenties or low thirties in my own senior class ranking order, where more than five hundred students earned diplomas. Now that I think about it, somewhere in the high twenties sounds about right, especially since we had weighted averages for more difficult classes—basically, everyone who took both AP Calculus, one of the few AP classes I didn’t take, was ahead of me, since I didn’t dare step into the world of floating polynomials.

But if I had graduated this year, instead of 25 years ago, I still might have had a shot at being a valedictorian myself, even with a class rank in the double digits. In the Sunday edition of the New York Times, the article titled How Many Graduates Does It Take to Be No. 1? held me attention so long my coffee got cold.



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Today, It's All About The Video



The Brown Man is tired.

Between the painful calluses on my mouse hand from some impromptu brush clearing, and an violently irritating poison ivy rash all along my non-mouse arm, and a preoccupation with promoting my new book, along with the obligatory day job grind, the Brown Man has not been getting much sleep lately.

In fact, I have given up on worrying about it - at this point, I am willing to just take what sleep I can get when it comes, if it happens to be dark, and push on if it comes when that inevitable wave of drowsiness happens in the daytime.

Which means it has been very hard to come up with the type of blog posts I normally have waiting for you several times a week. Very hard to put together more than a few words before losing the trademark Brown Man steam that puts the fire in my posts.

The collection of anti-inflammatory potions I have been applying seem to working, though. And the angry red blotches across the abused flesh in the palm of my mouse hand have begun their retreat. So I'll be back in action in the next day or so.

In the meantime, you can check out my new book trailer for DADDYMOMMA, the short story collection that debuted here last Sunday.



I've seen these book trailers - essentially short commericals - around the web for other books, so I decided to make my own. If you don't like to read, or never read short stories, check it out anyway. The background music alone is worth the minute and a half you'll spend watching the video.

If you are an author who does book reviews, or a book reviewer who is addicted to the free copies the publishing industry sends you, shoot me an email at brownmanthinking@gmail.com

There are versions for Kindle, Kindle for PC (Kindle's FREE software for PC and laptop owners), Mobipockets Reader and EPUB readers, which means you IPad and IPhone owners can download it too.

The good thing about a Sunday is, it's one of those few days where if a wave of drowsiness overtakes you, you can indulge yourself right smack dab in the middle of the day. If I can tear myself away from this keyboard before some new topic sets off my writing mojo, I think I am going to slather another round of potions and cortisone cream on my aching mitts and snatch a few daytime zzzzz's.







I will be on the radio this evening at 8:30 pm EST with Sean Yoes, a senior reporter at The Afro American, trying to figure it all out. Yoes is the host of "The WEAA/AFRO First Edition", an hour-long political talk show on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WEAA-FM (88.9 FM), which airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

This week we talk about South Carolina, which has been in the news a lot these past few weeks with political stories that are all over the map. We cover everything from the historic candidacy of Tim Scott, who hopes to become the first black Republican member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina, to the divisive and ugly campaign battle Nikki Haley has endured as she seeks to become the state's first Indian American governor, to the bizarre mission of Alvin Greene, who has successfully overcome the first hurdle to becoming a United States Senator - winning the Democratic primary to be on the ballot in the fall - without seeming to do any visible campaigning at all.

You can click this link and push the "Listen Live" button at the top of the page to hear the show. My segment comes on at 8:30pm.

Find out what Sean Yoes and I think tonight on the show.

As always, it was fun. Check it out tonight if you have a chance.



The news media will dance around this for the next two weeks as if they are warming up for a slot on Dancing With The Stars. The White House can’t comment, even though they’d love to, because…

…well, because the office of the president is supposed to hold its head high when its opponents start hitting below the belt.

And our Republican friends in Congress and on the airwaves will deny until the end of time that the idea of obeying the orders of this Negro president is first on their list of political “thou shalt not” commandments.

I guess that leaves me, and other brave, sleep deprived bloggers to tell it like it is.

Number One – we have not ever had a chance of winning a war in Afghanistan without putting several million troops on the ground – troops who would be doomed to stay there for the rest of their lives, if we even had several million people who were willing to suit up in uniform.

Which means keeping McChrystal on because he is “integral to the strategy” of an operation whose only aim is to make defense contractors rich makes no sense at all in the real world outside the political Twilight Zone where constant breast beating is mandatory and flag waving is required. The Taliban don’t have to have any offensive victories – all they have to do is hold out for twelve months until we give up. They know this.

Number Two - I am convinced that the resistance to the idea of a black man running the country runs so deep in some quarters that if members of this deranged minority, whose numbers are shrinking daily, were drowning in the middle of the ocean, they would refuse a life preserver from Barack Obama.

This is what is behind all of this “take by the country” nonsense. This “Founding Fathers were infallible” bullshit. This “the government is a failure UNTIL something goes wrong and we need the feds to send us some money with no strings attached” garbage.

UCMJ article 88:

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."


Which is why Rush Limbaugh can go smoke some Oxycontin. Glen Beck can keep fake vomiting his guts out on his TV show. Sarah Palin can keep reading somebody else’s prepared statements. The right wing of the Republican Party has become the wrong wing, a collection of political misfits, misanthropic TV hosts and rogue radio announcers who would feel right at home at a Three Stooges convention. Maybe one day they will make the rest of the GOP so disgusted that they will throw them all in a giant burlap bag. This gang that can't shoot their mouths off straight are a Democrats delight this election year as they sink to new lows in their always vociferous denunciations of President Obama's latest actions.

If they have any sense left, which is doubtful, they will call for McChrystal’s head. Because there is no way this guy has a leg to stand on, especially with the Republican veterans who understand and abide by the venerated military traditions that are part and parcel of the chain of command

There is no man in the Army who cannot be replaced.

McChrystal deserves nothing less than a full court martial.

But he won’t get court martialed, because gentlemen do not ram other people’s guts out when they open themselves up for attack, and if our president isn’t anything else, he is a gentleman.

It really won’t matter to the president’s sworn political enemies which way he decides, because to them, so long as he is breathing, and he is in the White House, he is in the wrong, a victim of that latest phenomena, “leading the country while black.”

To the rest of the reality based majority however, known as “the U.S. citizens who have good sense”, President Obama is just a man with a tough job, who has to deal with a hardheaded employee with no respect for his post or his commander-in-chief.

This reality based majority says “don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you, General.”






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


Firing A General Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Generals sometimes become presidents.

Our nation’s first president became a full general posthumously. Eleven other generals rose to the rank of commander-in-chief. So I don’t have a problem with General Stanley McChrystal’s career aspirations if he is interested in making a run for the presidency in 2012 or 2016. But until he becomes the commander-in-chief, he needs to act like a soldier, which means he needs to quit giving interviews and take his orders from his commanding officer the same way he expects the troops to follow his lead.


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Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

My Book "Daddymomma" Hits The Web Today



Father's Day is here. In a few hours, I will sit down to breakfast with my own father.

I usually rerun a piece I did a couple of years ago about him, but this year, I'm doing something different.

I'm unveiling a book that has been a long time in the making, a book that is a collection of stories I have been shaping and revising for some time.

If you come to this blog regularly, you've seen the banner ad for Daddymomma for the last few days floating at the top of the middle column.

This is from my other night job as a writer of fiction.

The first story in it, titled "Separate But Equal", is the story of an African American father and son who both learn something about themselves one Sunday afternoon.

All of these stories, in some way, are about black men in relationships - relationships with their children, their lovers, their wives, their ex-wives, their jobs, and their futures. I guess I could have actually titled it "Brown Men Thinking Hard", but I've always liked the moniker I affixed to the title story long ago.

So download a copy, if you have a Kindle, or Kindle for PC, or a Mobipockets reader, or an IPad, or a copy of the numerous other ereaders or ereader software that is available.


It will be good.

  







What A Real “Oilpocalypse” Looks Like



I talked to a buddy of mine last night, who is a personal injury attorney, about the 20 billion dollars the president got BP to agree to put in escrow. “Dude,” I said, “it’s as if the opposing counsel on one of your big cases called you up before the first motion was filed and said ‘here’s a few hundred grand to tide your client over until we figure out how much we’re going to be on the hook for.’”
My buddy actually rephrased my statement with the correct terminology, but he wholeheartedly agreed with my underlying sentiment. “Damn,” my buddy said. “That’s one hell of a settlement. Obama is really a personal injury lawyer.”

So we bantered back and forth for awhile about how ridiculous we thought the media mafia was for pretending this was any less than a stupendous accomplishment. Then my buddy said something that snapped me back to attack mode. “This kind of thing has never happened before.”

“Uh, actually this kind of thing has happened before. In fact, it's happening right now. In Nigeria.”

“Nigeria?”

“Yeah, Nigeria, the place where the U.S. gets almost 40% of the oil it uses, has had oil spills this bad practically every year for decades. The shit is ugly.”

“You know, I didn’t know that.”

“I know – because the weak ass son-of-a-bitches who waste time every night on your TV, yakking it up about bullshit instead of bring you some facts have never thought it was important. Those people in Nigeria who have looked at oily assesd water for years think Americans are spoiled to death.”

“You should write about this.”

“I will, just so I can send your ass a link.”




Over a 20-year period spanning 1976 and 1996, an average of 300 cases of oil spills per year were recorded in Nigeria's oil region. On the average, some 370,000 barrels of crude spilled into the environment each year, out of which only about 40 percent was recovered.

"The environmental effect of spilled oil is a function of time, type of oil spilled, its degree of weathering, the sedimentary characteristics of the receiving environment and the season of the year," said Chindah at a recent workshop. The immediate impact on vegetation are wilting, defoliation and loss of the productive cycle or outright death of affected plants.

On freshwater swamps, the studies showed, the effects are more devastating due to the longer water retention time. Lower plant forms, such as algae and lichens die off immediately. Animals, fish and other water organisms dependent on such ecosystems also die off sooner or later. In turn the communities in the affected areas suffer loss of livelihoods, poor health and other adverse consequences.


Science In Africa


On 1 May this year a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million gallons into the delta over seven days before the leak was stopped. Local people demonstrated against the company but say they were attacked by security guards. Community leaders are now demanding $1bn in compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood they suffered. Few expect they will succeed. In the meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast.

Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger pipeline was attacked by rebels. A few days after that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland. "We are faced with incessant oil spills from rusty pipes, some of which are 40 years old," said Bonny Otavie, a Bayelsa MP.

This point was backed by Williams Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno: "Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable."


Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it





BP, Shell and other conglomerates and oil multinationals have engaged in these egregious disregard for human lives and pristine environments, in their hurry to make profits. And many nations such as Ecuador and Nigeria have dealt with this for decades and decades and were ignored by all, but now, because this current BP disaster and catastrophe occurred on American waters, BP and other oil companies are in trepidations and are gyrating speedily and rapidly, to avoid soiled sullied public image in America, and avoid a corporate black eye and bruises from the Gulf of Mexico disaster. But why? These same oil companies have for decades foisted pollution and deaths on the peoples of Nigeria, Ecuador and other nations without remorse or regret and remedial actions! So why now? Why the difference in attitudes and actions? It is good thing that this massive spill, this disaster and catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is actually a blessing and a wonderfully good thing in disguise, because, from now on, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will become a point of reference or benchmark for oil spills and remediation or remedial actions

It has to be assumed as well, that from now on, conversations about death and destruction caused by oil companies, are no longer seen as merely collateral damage in hydro carbons searches and as such, merely ancillaries and extraneous matters which should not bother Americans.

This is precisely what Niger Delta in Nigeria have experienced for fifty years and the world ignored it and considered it collateral damage, an ancillary and extraneous matter in the search for hydrocarbons to power the engines of the world’s economies. But now, the world knows, the chickens have come home to roost! American Oil Spills In Gulf of Mexico and Lessons for Nigerians and Ecuadorians.


American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie




Why are oil companies forever so willing to act voluntarily to compensate and act properly in response to disasters such as the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in Alaska or in the North Sea or currently in the Gulf of Mexico, but these same oil conglomerates are unwilling to similarly act voluntarily or even under compulsion through court judgments or orders when in the persisting environmental catastrophes in Ecuador and Nigeria, even as you read this?

American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie




What explains these selective attitudes to victims of toxic pollutions caused by the same American and European oil giants? What explains permanence in always selectively choosing to compensate Americans and Europeans; but quite unwilling to compensate Ecuadorians and Nigerians, as the oil companies remain adamant in denying their liabilities?

American Oil Spill – Lessons for Nigeria; by Paul Adujie





Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: "Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care."

Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it


If this isn't the personal injury of all personal injuries, I don't know what is. THIS is why I can call the media monkeys who invade your TV every night chump change motherfuckers with impunity, because they deserve every skewering they get when we've got real life situations out here to compare and contrast corporate missions statements with their actual track record, and all they can do is carp about what idiot congressman A said about idiot congressman B in breathless wonder, or lionize one of their own brethren for squawking like a plucked chicken when they want the president to be their bitch and he refuses.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, brown skin continues to soak in oil that seems to never stop spilling.

 




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


Obama Gets Billions From BP Without Beating His Chest

I have railed against some of the shortcomings during the BP oil well blowout with great vigor during the past few weeks. I wanted to know why we weren’t getting more accurate measurements on the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf. I wanted to know why we were being shown low definition images of the leak, when higher definition ones obviously existed. I wanted to know why BP was wasting its money trying to tell us how good things were going with an expensive television ad campaign when putting cash on the street was the only tangible way to begin to show the people of the Gulf region the message those ads were trying to convey.

I actually wrote the words “since BP is not financially able to put $20 billion in an escrow account that we can debit as needed for clean-up costs, economic damages, and fines” ten days ago on this very blog because I liked the escrow account idea, but thought it would never fly. And I have been extremely critical of the booming techniques we have continued to rely on for decades that even folks in the oil industry are willing to admit just won’t work.

So I’ve been very impressed with the changes that have occurred over the last few days. I don’t invest a lot of energy in “what if’s?” or “what could we have done differently?” when we are still in the throes of a crisis, especially since the past is unalterable. Arguing over “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, TV pundit style, is the biggest waste of energy in this whole mess.


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I am glad that I didn't write this yesterday.

Because I would have wasted a few hundred words recycling the same old profanities about the media and the same old irate rants that have populated this space for the past few months about media irrelevance.

All I can say, Mr.President, is this - the only productive way to get anything out of your relationship with the political pundits in the media is to look at it as training camp for living with a teenager.

Teenagers and political pundits are capable of listening to a two minute harangue that describes in detail why something will probably NOT happen and only hearing the word "might", a a fleeting, "this word did not go with all the others" utterance in which they are then capable of investing every ounce of their emotional energy...

...which makes the letdown all the more dramatic when you do what you told them you were going to do in the first place.

Teenagers and political pundits have a bad habit of equating "I want" with "we need", which often leads to a lot of pouting when you have to remind them what the difference is between needs and wants. It doesn't really matter how many times you explain this, though - they have the innate ability to turn a want into a need instantly. The world as they know it, they will opine, and whine, will come to a screeching halt if they do not get what they want. The more artful teenagers and political pundits can make it sound pretty damn ominous. Your deconstruction of their version of a need into the want that it actually is will usually increase their outcry.

The other thing that teenagers and political pundits lack is a sense of proportion. When you try to impress upon them how much something they need is going to cost, their level of nonchalance can be frightening, as if money actually does grow on trees.

Which is why, Mr. President, your stupendous achievement yesterday of getting BP to agree to put in escrow THE STAGGERING SUM OF $20 BILLION is one that should just about blow the mind of anybody who's ever negotiated anything with a major corporation, a corporation that is still wrangling over their potential liabilities in this oil spill. But like teenagers, political pundits can get so fixated on how you say something that they fail to pay attention to what it is you are doing. The old "actions speak louder than words" truism cannot penetrate the brains of teenagers until they reach their twenties - for political pundits, whose minds are usually pickled in the ether of their own greatness, there is often no hope of it ever taking hold. 

The real loser in all this, Mr. President, if you were to look at it this way, would be Malia. Because many of these columnists and pundits, due to their own industry-wide affirmative action plan that rewards juvenile logic and pulp fiction prose, have been teenagers forever. If you use this opportunity to hone your parenting skills when these media tantrums occur, the way you used to do in those continuing legal education seminars you had to go to in order to keep your law license up to date, your daughter won't have a chance, because between the columnists at the New York Times, The Washington Post, and all of TV pundit land, you will have seen every teenager trick in the book.




We have the ability to control and plan for so many little things that I think it has lulled us into a false sense of security and omnipotence. We can fix any problem. We can overcome any obstacle.

But there are some things that are bigger than us. We're mostly a nation of juveniles, though, so we need someone to blame, some one to be responsible, when there is often no way that is humanly possible to prevent death, disease, or destruction of property.

The only way to save all the lives in New Orleans was to have had them begin evacuating ten days ago. But that's not going to happen the next time down there, or for that matter in any other major city in the country.

Georgia is on a fault line. There hasn't been a real big earthquake in a long, long time here. But scientists are calling for another one to hit sometime soon. A year or so ago, we had a small tremor, which for people who live in earthquake land, usually signals that more are coming.

Have we dug up our natural gas pipelines and replaced them with flexible pipes? Have we buried all of our powerlines to prevent falling trees from interrupting power? Are our homes built to earthquake proof standards? What about our tall buildings? Have we stockpiled food and water as individuals?

Nope.

Are we stupid for not planning ahead for this?

How much can you spend to prevent a catastrophe before the expenditure itself becomes a financial disaster?

You could build the entire city on an elevated platform that raises it twenty feet above sealevel, in hurricane proof buildings with leakproof roofs and redundant emergency power systems today...

...if money was no object, time was not a factor, and there was no intrinsic sense of historical value to consider.

South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Hugo years ago. Wiped out a bunch of homes that were poorly built. Obliterated a legion of mobile homes from the coast up to the Lowcountry.

The trees are still gone in many areas, but the building codes haven't changed, and the mobile home dealers sell more units than ever.

When freedom of choice intersects with an overabundance of caution, the urge to remain unfettered usually wins out here in the US.

I would actually go so far as to posit that if you could guarantee someone a healthful, disease free, disaster free life, with a "do not return to maker until 75 years of age" stamp on their ass if they would confine themselves to the grounds of...let's say the buildings and grounds of the Pentagon, which is a pretty big place, for their entire lives, to work and live under a sort of military junta...I bet they would choose to take the risk of not making it, of not being healthful, of not being disease free, in order to do what they wanted to do.

Its in our blood. We'll do it our way if it kills us. And it frequently does.




I wrote the paragraphs above five years ago after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, back when the only people who read what I wrote were in my online writing group. We argued a lot about what should have happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back then the same way the nation's media is arguing over what should be happening during the BP oil spill every night on my TV.

I would imagine that I could repost the same piece five years from now, when the next unforseen catastrophe hits, and it would be just as relevant.

We are a nation of forensic experts, with an ability to assign blame and liability in small increments to a multitude of parties in multiple jurisdictions, but the past cannot be changed. What is is.

When I am in the middle of a self-made mess, I do not spend very much time worrying about how it happened - I spend 99% of my time trying to figure out what I am going to do going forward.

Our media wastrels, by contrast, are spending 99% of their time looking for someone to blame, even though the probability for any of the solutions proffered thus far have all come with caveats like "this is a highly risking maneuver" or "we've never done this before under these conditions."

Maybe we need to send our Know Everything, Do Nothing media stars to the Gulf and stick their asses in some clean-up suits for twelve hours a day for the next six months. Or put them in an operations center with a phone and a clipboard and put them to work coordinating response efforts until the last marsh has been flushed out with water from the Mississippi.

I have howled like a dog on this blog and the other venues where I write for the past few weeks about the things that were not being done, so it has been a pleasant surprise to see many of the things I suggested - an escrow account for damages and a measuring device at the leak to more accurately detect what flow rate is, among other things I've been adamant about - so I have to believe that they are listening to some of us here in the blogosphere.

I am glad the White House is trying to bypass the media as much as possible. The Fourth Estate squandered what little credibility it had long ago, and now have been reduced to playing cheerleader for their favorite causes.

 


Blacksheep Political Consulting is real busy right now running a whisper campaign against Rand Paul in the race to be the next senator from Kentucky, although we have been running out of ways to insinuate "this sum bitch is crazy", and our "before and after" Hair Club for Men style flyers depicting Paul without his toupe are running low.

But we can always make time for homeboys, especially when they are homeboys like my man Alvin Greene, who needs a political makeover in the worst way.

Alvin, my man, you can give us a call later this week - we are currently booked to go strip club hopping with Michael Steele for the next few days, since they've gotten some fresh donor cash over at the RNC, which means we probably won't be be all that interested in answering our phones unless its a 3G emergency. Your situation doesn't look good, but right now you are still at the 2G emergency level. So don't call us, we'll call you. 

For now, I'll shoot you a list of a few things you can be working on until we get to town.

#1 - You seem to be overly nervous on TV, and extremely careful of what you say, probably because you are worried about saying the wrong thing, or being caught in a lie.

This is politics, buddy. Lying 101 is a prerequisite to Graft 202, Advanced Lobbyist Shakedown Technique 320, and Talking Big, Doing Nothing 345. In fact, saying the craziest shit you can think off (i.e., "I can see Russia from my house", You lie!, "The president is a Muslim communist socialist Marxist anti-christ") will get your more supporters and more contributions than any policy stance ever will.

#2 - This phrase "I'm running on the issues" wouldn't get you elected class clown. Nobody knows what "the issues" are, but everybody knows what their single "issue" is. You could pick one of the biggies - abortion, gun control, first amendment - but then you would have to deal with all the people who are crazier than even you are coming out of the woodwork to either kneel at your feet or spit at your back.

You don't need to worry about this so much. The easiest way to do it is to adopt the entire platform of the Democratic Party, since they've worked so hard on it, then come up with a phrase that gives it a personal twist. This unemployment thing seems to be a hot button issue with you - how about "Jobs For America"? Simple, can be printed in big letters on t-shirts, is hard to forget, in case you doze off during an interview or a debate, and can be spun to mean more education, more tax breaks for the rich, more tax credits for the middle class, more stimulus packages or less government waste, less outsourcing, less anti-union laws, and less loopholes for corporations to jump through - a perfect "be what you need it to be" platitude that can allow you to fill souls and empty pockets at the same time.

#3 Speaking of money - there are tens of thousands of people across the country who are still sad they quit selling Pet Rocks or Magic Seahorses. This is your base. They will send you money just because your campaign is the kind of crazy, against all odds kind of long shot that gets their juices flowing.

Take it. All of it. If you grew up in Manning, and were born in Florence, which is just up I-95, then you have got plenty of relatives there that you can put on the payroll. In fact, I've got plenty of relatives there myself - will be forwarding you a list of names who need to be put on the payroll. Stay away from those political consultants out of Columbia, or black preachers out of anywhere - as soon as they smell the cash coming into your campaign, they will be lined up outside your door.

One thing Blacksheep Political Consulting can do to help you out is make the amount of our retainer so high you won't have any money left to give anyone else after you pay us and your/our relatives.

#4 The infamous Green Family Reunion t-shirt needs to be retired permanently. If you can't bear to burn it, we will take a picture of you wearing it that you can keep in your wallet, while we lock the actual shirt in our "dirty secrets we will bribe our clients with later" vault.

If you are really committed to looking like you are "one of the people" we will supply you with a few dozen t-shirts with the American flag across the front.

#5 The sexual misconduct charge is frankly, a lightweight accusation that wouldn't even rate if you were a GOP candidate. If there are any Rentboy.com adventures you haven't told us about, though, all bets are off.

Don't look at this pending felony charge as a weaknesss to be avoided. This is a perfect pivot point for you to bring up all the GOP sex scandals in the past year or two. It doesn't matter if they don't have any connection to your opponent Jim DeMint - all you have to do is "mis-remember" that he lived in the C-Street manison in D.C. where all of the other GOP fruitcakes, sex fiends, adulterers and molesters who served in Congress camped out away while they were away from home.

#6 Don't lean on Jim Demint too hard - if it comes out that one of his fatcat donors put up the cash for your adventure, or that he is connected to the vast right wing conspiracy's techno geek squad in charge of electronically switching votes, a conspiracy that is now in danger of being uncovered because one of their fat fingers slipped and typed in "100,000 votes for Greene" into the stealth software program piggybacked on the mainframe where the votes are tabulated, instead of "10,000 votes for Greene", you will have to go back to wearing that that green t-shirt and watching cable TV.

Which is something I don't think you want to do, Alvin, because as painful as it is for us to watch, you look like you ENJOY this attention. Dime Demint's cronies out and all the cameras go away. 

#7 Keep a diary. Do not update it once a week. Update it two or three times a day. Type the names, places, times, locations, what was said, what happened, how you feel about what is going on. Do not write this down - type it into the body of an email, and then email it to an account you have that nobody knows about. This will end up being the most valuable asset of your campaign, one that unscrupulous people will be willing to tear your house apart to get.

This diary will be your retirement plan, once you turn it into a "tell all" book. You will sell more copies than Sarah Palin. And with all those millions, you can take that "e" off of the end of your name and nobody will even recognize you. In fact, they will be so confused at why this black man doesn't have an "e" at the end of his name they probably won't even recognize you if you have on that damn green t-shirt.

Hey, the limo from the RNC called to say it was on the way...

...I gotta run.

Good luck, homeboy. We'll be calling you in a couple of days.






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


SC Voters Spotlight Chief Misery Of Democracy

Chances are, you don’t know where Manning, South Carolina is. Chances are, you’ve never heard of this small southern town. I only know where it is because it was the halfway point to my grandmother’s house from my hometown. For all the hundreds of times I’ve passed the town, I’ve never been anywhere other than the gas stations and the fast food restaurants that cluster around the exit to I-95. Other than those brief pitstops, Manning remains a mystery to me.

Which is kind of how the rest of the state, if not the rest of the nation, feels about Alvin Greene, a Manning resident who has defeated opponent Vic Rawls in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, which means, at least for now, that he will face current South Carolina senator Jim DeMint in the fall. The media is shocked, not because democracy is actually working, but because none of them had even thought to do any more than a cursory Google search of Greene when he filed to run for office. The opponent is most definitely shocked because he totally overlooked this no name candidate. I’m not there in South Carolina right now, but I would imagine that the population is shocked to various degrees, with some of them appalled that such a thing could happen, and others who are pleased that the Democratic establishment has had its comeuppance.


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Today's topic at TheGrio.com:


Is surprise SC senate candidate a 'plant' or just peculiar?

"I got sixty percent of the vote is not luck. Sixty percent of the vote is not an accident."

-Alvin Greene, S.C. Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate

Eddie Murphy was in a movie years ago called The Distinguished Gentleman, where Murphy played a con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson who won a seat in Congress because of the similarity between his name and that of a recently deceased congressman. The similarities between con men and politicians that the film showcased made for great comedy on the big screen.


Now we have real life imitating art in South Carolina, where an unknown, unemployed, 32-year-old ex-military man with pending felony charges who lives with his parents in his hometown garnered over 100,000 votes in the South Carolina Democratic primary to become the party's presumptive nominee for the U.S. Senate. Alvin Greene defeated opponent Vic Rawl, a former circuit court judge and four term state representative, which means, at least for now, that Greene will face current senator Jim DeMint in the fall. with no campaign staff, no campaign contributions, no campaign website, no campaign literature, and no communication with his state party organization.


How did Mr. Greene get elected by a margin of almost 20 percent with an invisible campaign?

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TheGrio.com is the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.

TheGrio.com features aggregated and original video packages, news articles, and blogs on topics from breaking news, politics, health, business, and entertainment, which concern its niche audience.is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

TheGrio.com is brought to you through the cooperation of NBC News and the production team that brought you the documentary film, Meeting David Wilson.





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


Fishgrease Will Make You Smarter

There is a phenomenon going on out here in the blogosphere called "good information dissemination", a trait that often distinguishes us lower paid or usually unpaid bloggers from the members of the media who routinely trumpet the thoroughness of their own work. In the progressive political oasis known as DailyKos, there are often experts who show up from time to time to fill the void for those of us who are hungry for knowledge that is specific and precise, when our rich cousins in the mainstream media start to broadcast more recycled misinformation than we can stand.

One such person, the ironically named “Fishgrease”, a self described oil and gas industry veteran for 30 years, has been giving lessons in proper booming technique and oil well production for the past few weeks after becoming enraged at the miles and miles of incorrectly laid boom that TV anchors and federal government officials can be found in front of whenever a camera is rolling.


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


BP Should Fire Advertising Consultants

BP should fire its advertising consultants.

Today.

By the close of business.

A 50 million dollar advertising campaign that includes full page ads in newsrags like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and prime time television ads all over the place could not be a more counterproductive effort if it tried, especially if it relies on the same trite, overused platitudes we all utter when we don’t really mean what we are saying.

Don’t they have any Americans in their executive suite? Don’t they understand that the droll, understated British TV dramas and dry, ironic comedies that occasionally catch on in the U.S. are only watched by a fairly small slice of our population? That British accents are only cool if they come out of the mouths of handsome movie stars, popular rock stars—sorry, Tony Blair and Prince Charles—or soccer phenoms?


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"Obama 'cain't do nuthin' for ya, man',
if all you can do,
my Negro Candidates,
is be black
and holler "yes we can."



I happened into a post at Jack & Jill Politics today, which was a good thing, because the rant I posted in response to Artur Davis: What Went Wrong got to be long enough that it qualified as a bona fide blog post, AND it allows me to use one of the dozens of pictures I have collected of Obama doing something besides scowling at the camera, his preferred pose of late.

Writing Artur Davis in the same sentence with Obama is like comparing me to the Nobel Prize winner who went to my alma mater. Because the only thing Davis has that is remotely close to being in common with Obama is Harvard Law School. Obama's coattails cannot carry dead weight.

I just got off the phone with my dad about South Carolina politics to see this, and I'll say the same thing to you guys that I said to him and the crowd at Jack & Jill Politics.

"Black candidates for political office in this election cycle have about as much in common with the Obama campaign as the man in the moon."

None of them, incumbents or challengers, used his blueprint of broadening their message to be more inclusive, building a grassroots presence, decentralizing their campaign team authority, indoctrinating a core of true believers to spread their gospel, or integrating the web into every aspect of their campaigns.

None of them.

Millions of Obama supporters - some black, some white, some latino, some asian, some indian - almost all of them are sitting at home right now. The ones I talk to are looking for something to do, because they liked the sense of being on an important mission it gave them.

Replicating the kind of mission statement Obama had for a lesser office would be hard, but it is doable. Mobilizing the kind of enthusiastic core group of supporters, even in smaller numbers, is expensive, time consuming, and slow to come together. But now we know it can be done.

So why isn't ANYONE, from Deval Patrick on down, doing any of this? Do their political consultants have a multi-year non-compete clause in their contracts that says "you are obligated to pay my lazy, myopic ass a huge penalty fee if you refuse my services for your next election?"

You wouldn't know Thurbert Baker was running for the governor of Georgia if it wasn't for a slow news day once in awhile, where the local news trots out the canned shots of the candidates.

Black candidates are finally raising enough money to be competitive, but until they begin to mobilize communities instead of trying to beat the man at his own game of Big Money Donor Bingo and Major Endorsement Dog and Pony Shows, they need to take a picture of Obama's coattails, because that's as close as they are going to get to them.


"Obama 'cain't do nuthin' for ya, man',
if all you can do,
my Negro Candidates,
is be black
and holler "yes we can."


Eating One's Own

It has taken me awhile to get around to writing anything about the sordid saga in my home state of South Carolina between Nikki Haley, who is hoping to become the first Indian American woman governor in the country, and her Republican party colleagues who have gone all out in the last few weeks to rename her “Darling Nikki”, the title of a Prince song about a fictional sex fiend.

We were in the mall a couple of weekends ago, where we ran into several of our old neighbors and friends of the Resident Diva that we haven’t seen in awhile. One of the families was from Brazil. Their youngest daughter, who had always seemed to be in the middle of some emotional turmoil during her middle teens, looked like a new person. Aster they walked away, I said to S. “It’s good to see her smiling. She used to always look so sad.”

S. didn’t miss a beat. “It’s because her eyes turn down.”

“What?”

“The corners of her eyes turn down – that’s what makes her look so pitiful when she frowns.”

Maybe Will Folks and Larry Marchant, the two miscreants in this whole mess, as Petey Greene used to say, wanted to get Nikki Haley to frowning all the time on TV, because if you look at Mrs. Haley closely, you will see that her eyes turn down at the corners too. But Mrs. Haley has hung in there gamely, with a grim, determined look on her face these days, even as South Carolina’s Republican party has become more fully committed to eating one of their own.

Instead of building the front runner for governor up, in hopes of retaining the governor’s seat, the South Carolina GOP has decided to risk tearing apart a woman who is very likely going to be their party’s nominee by 11 o’clock tonight.
Usually, animals eat one of their own when they are weak and sickly. When they pose a danger to the herd. When they are undersized or slow to develop the skills necessary for survival in the wild.

Could it be that at the last minute, the good old boys who pay for a lot of the political machinery in SC decided they weren’t quite ready for a female Bobby Jindal? Could it be that some of the more ultra right wing elements of the party , elements whose brains have been pickled by the poison of fundamentalist religious beliefs, could hold their tongues no longer, because god dammit, no woman is supposed to be the head of anything, much less an entire state government?

I’ve written four hundred and thirty five words without once addressing the central issue in this “whodunit to Nikki?” mystery – who is telling the truth here? - in this “they said, she said” situation.

With the right amount of time, space, and opportunity, any man or woman has the capacity to take a walk on the wild side. No pedigree, no wedding ring, no line of children out the door has yet proven to be the antidote to the human libido. I’ve lived long enough to know that people who think they are smarter than average tend to feel that they can get away with more than middle America Joe Blow. And lying for a politician is an art form as old as politics itself, so I wouldn’t rule out for one second the notion that these assignations could have happened.

What I do wonder is, now that Bo and Luke Duke have let the proverbial cat out of the bag, what are they going to do now? Will Folks swears he has a team of lawyers going over his information, or evidence, or his blue dress that he didn’t take to the cleaners, a la Monica Lewinsky, but unless his evidence had to be delivered by tractor trailer, or his lawyers were one of those weak minded scions of SC legal dynasties who had to have the bar exam jimmied so they could pass it, I guess he’s just hamming it up for the cameras until a book deal comes his way.

Larry Marchant is probably avoiding the press since his old client, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, has gone out and taken a polygraph test in secret, a test he is now happy to flap about because it shows the right result. Could Larry Marchant perform well enough to look like he is telling the truth on a publicly administered polygraph, or has he lied so much for so long that that is impossible to measure any variations in his breathing patterns or heart rate?

Maybe, if we were really lucky, Governor Mark Sandford would play Pied Piper, take his entire party “hiking on the Appalachian Trail”, and forget how to find their way back.


President Obama Is A Lot Like My Homeboy



At a Memorial Day gathering last week, one of the guys from my hometown entertained a small group of us guys for an hour with some of that old South Carolina storytelling magic. My homeboy has been in law enforcement for almost 30 years, which means he has a never ending stream of stories highlighting how ridiculous human beings can be some times. While we were catching our breath after laughing our heads off at the climax of one of the capers he was involved in thwarting, I baited him with a question.

“In every story I’ve ever heard you tell, you always call for back up. Nobody ever calls for back up on TV.”

He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “That’s why they call it TV.”

Which brings us to the point I want to make today about our president.

He is not Harrison Ford, hanging out of the back of an airplane thousands of feet above the earth, or Michael Douglas, snarling at the White House press corps like a man possessed, or even Dennis Haysbert, calling a government agent on the phone to be updated on an international crisis. Barack Obama is a real life president, with real life president problems, who has to deal with issues that may take years, if not decades, to solve. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to put on a full court press against his administration whenever they seem to less than willing to provide us with facts instead of fiction, or hold his feet to the fire when he tells us one thing, and then does another.

Even now, with a deliberately low definition video feed of oil spewing into your living rooms every night in high definition, with Jews from New York to Florida wondering whether to cheer Israel on to slaughter another group of aid workers or roast Netanyahu's ass on a spit for giving the world a reason to rally against the Jewish state, there are thousands of other lesser known situations going on that still need to be addressed, lest they blossom into another catastrophe or international incident.

Which is why President Obama is a lot more like my homeboy than he is these make-believe presidents , or the mythological constructs the press has erected around the other ordinary men who have risen to this office.

They all put their pants on one leg at a time – Washington, Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama.

None of them put all their chips on the line on any one issue. None them, not even "Star Wars" Ronald Reagan, nor "Civil Rights" Lyndon Johnson, ever "went off, one time" the way our friend and racial mascot Spike Lee insists he should.

And they all “called for backup” when they were in the White House, the same way a real police officer does when he is trying to take a suspect into custody.
Dying like a hero, even if it is only a political death, is pure cinematic fiction.

Living to fight another day is the sign of a true professional.







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


Straight, No Chaser: Images From The Gulf Coast

The defining image of the BP oil spill is a suspiciously low resolution video feed from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The much maligned Huffington Post seems to be the only organization willing to focus on the actual devastation taking place 5,000 feet above, along the coastlines where oil has begun washing ashore. It is amazing, in a world where we have the latest information technology available, with dozens of television channels dedicated to news, that the images of dying animals and oil water are doled out so sparingly, as if they are being rationed by an unseen agent who feels that the publican oly handle a few pictures of the death and destruction at a time.

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


Journalists Married To Flawed Political Narratives

I have finally stopped yelling at my computer screen this morning, after making the rounds at POLITICO, Talking Points Memo, and The New York Times. It seems that among the chattering class, a group which I am slowly becoming a member, only me and Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic are willing to do more than whitewash the results of the Artur Davis campaign for governor of Alabama with the same old tired political chestnuts.

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


Do I Really Need An IPad?

For me going to the mall is like traveling to a foreign country. But somehow I found myself in the Apple store on Saturday, playing with the IPad, the latest electronic confection from the wizards of Cupertino. As snazzy and shiny and well designed as this device is, I am having a hard time figuring out how I would actually use it on a day to day basis. Once that little keyboard pops up on its high resolution touch screen, I immediately begin to pine for the full sized keyboard on my laptop.

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