Friday, July 30, 2010

Land of Valtrex and Steroids: The Reign of the Booboisie

Coming from an Italian-American upbringing, I suppose you could say that I do not fit the archetype of what is depicted of my community in Hollywood or on MTV.  No one in my family has ever been arrested since arriving in this country, not even for a minor offense like disturbing the peace.  There are no mobsters, murderers, thieves, swindlers, or smugglers.  Yes, there were a few boxers, but none of them were thugs or ruffians.  And yes, I do come from an urban, working-class family, but I did not supplement my income as an enforcer for a local hood.

In my life, I have obtained multiple degrees, all of which I worked myself through school for, studied endless hours, applying the same work ethic instilled in me by four generations of steel workers.  Admittedly, I also retain a natural tan and a love for cooking (most stereotypes are based on generalizations that can be circumstantially and partially true).  

The aforementioned notwithstanding, if I counted the number of times one of my students over the past few years told me that I looked like one of the characters from The Sopranos, simply because I look Italian (with my hair, facial features, and clothing preference), I would quickly run out of toes and fingers.  I actually had a student once ask me if it was normal for folk from my background to just beat people up who crossed us in any way.  I had to bite my tongue in explaining to this youngster that I do not as a standard policy 'beat people up,' and have yet to kill anyone.  I remind myself that these attitudes are not an accident, the expression of which has become more frequent over time. They are sadly the product of a collective consciousness of what the purveyors think about an entire group of people--an attitude developed from decades of propagandization by the lever holders of our popular culture.

I know I should not care about some of these things.  I am told it is a joke and to get over it, but you can at least say that there is a mafia in this country and historically it was (until recent times) dominated by Italian-Americans--after all, Al Capone was not Scottish.  However, I never grew up with any male in my neighborhood who waxed himself, took steroids, and wore lip balm--never mind young men who took pride in denigrating themselves before millions of others while shucking in front of a camera, in bars, and through fist fights with other brain-toasted, self-described 'guidos.'  If Al Jolson were alive today, this is what the modern minstrel show would look like:

Maybe this sounds outdated to someone in his/her teens, although I am not that old (the median age in this country), but if I ever dared to act or look like the loser in the above picture during my childhood, exulting in this self-hatred by calling myself a guido/wop/dago (since all of those words really mean the same thing), I could expect to be corrected immediately by my family and peers for purposely caving in to the very worst language and stereotypes that the larger society has of us.   Yes, there was the gangster culture when I was a teen, but it never occurred to me to want to live the poor man's version of it, which is what the ethnic stereotypes of Italians on American t.v. revel in showing.

Something changed in the culture, which was not there in my youth.  My Italian-American colleagues from the east coast have conceded to me that this caricature has existed, but that it is isolated to a small group.  If so, then why is it that my students' perception of people from my background include this?


Here's The Situation: Cast of 'Jersey Shore' rings opening bell on New York Stock Exchange

NEW YORK — "Gorilla juiceheads" fist-pumped on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning as the cast of "Jersey Shore" kicked off trading in one of the more anticipated opening bell ceremonies in some time.

Traders on the increasingly quiet floor said it was one of the most crowded days in years as the deeply tanned cast of the MTV hit rang the bell and stayed to sign autographs amid a crush of onlookers and a flood of media.

"It was like a car crash here this morning; people couldn't help but stare," said Benedict Willis, director of floor operations at Sunrise Securities Corp. "It was very crowded, but most of the crowd were summer interns. It was like P.T. Barnum's freak show was in town."

The show has become a cultural phenomenon due to the oversized personalities of its cast, including pugnacious Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and gym rat Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, who have introduced several catch-phrases into the popular lexicon, including "gorilla juiceheads," which refers generally to muscled-up guys seen at New Jersey's shore.

"Gorilla juiceheads"?  Does that ethnic refrain sound familiar in the history of this country?  What kind of person would call himself that?  A person who does not care if he or she is reducing the entire group to the lowest common denominator.  The kind of person who does not have to live or suffer what they perpetuate.  The kind of person with no sense of self-respect. 

To think, all of those years I spent in school studying, all of those jobs I have worked since the age of 9, saving to get myself to the point where I am at in life, following all of our laws, paying my taxes, trying to live a life of substance and with the values imparted by my family (and partly as a counterfactual to the stereotypes transposed on us since our arrival to this country a century ago), all of this was for naught.  The entire time, I could have been giving myself a body wax, taking HGH, putting Vaseline on my lips, spray tanning myself the same color as a construction barrel, and beating down any peon less orange and muscular than myself, so that I too could be opening the NYSE, "pumping bitches" (as Mike the Situation would say), and relegating myself to a life of weekly clinic visits.  Whenever I think of why I do not watch MTV anymore, why I stopped watching just about all t.v. shows (reading all of my news and getting my movies and documentaries from Netflix), the cultural toilet that is Jersey Shore illustrates perfectly what we have come to.

On behalf of the 95% of my community who do not enjoy seeing ourselves portrayed as a race of drug and sex-addled, ill-tempered morons, please, stop it.  We are not amused.  And to the other 5%, put down the pills and pick up a book.  Study what it means to be "proud" of a heritage that you are running into the ground. And just in case you need a primer, here are a couple of real Italian-Americans that your school history text books, printed in Texas, are unlikely to cover.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Democratic Leaders: Just Don't Get It

Notice the paternalistic tone from the White House and its advisors on why folks like us just need to ride it out and be nice to the president.  After all, they are really trying.

Democrats wary of motivation problem with liberals

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer

LAS VEGAS – The Democratic Party has a motivation problem.

Party officials acknowledged low morale within their left wing and urged liberal bloggers and activists Friday to keep faith with President Barack Obama in an election year as Democrats brace for losses in Congress.

"We need to find a way to get our voters really engaged in this election," Democratic National Committee executive director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon said at the annual Netroots Nation convention. "It's more important, every single day, to know what's at stake."

Jon Vogel, executive director of the Democratic House campaign organization, predicted Democratic voters would get energized when they focus on what Republican gains would mean for the Democratic agenda.

"You start to educate folks as to differences in candidates, the enthusiasm gap certainly will close," Vogel said.

Liberals who helped put Obama in the White House in 2008 are disillusioned over the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, slow movement on gay rights and the failure to create a government-run insurance option in the health care overhaul.

The racially tinged furor surrounding the ouster of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, who was forced to resign but later received a personal apology and job offer from Obama, left many feeling the White House was manipulated by the conservative media.

"People are in a down mood," said Michael Lux, who heads Progressive Strategies, a Washington-based consulting firm.

Carol Olszewski, 65, of Schenectady, N.Y., said she traveled as far away as North Carolina and Ohio to campaign for Obama. But she believes the party has been too accommodating to Republicans who "want to destroy him." She puzzles why the party backed former Republican Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Senate race rather than Democrat Joe Sestak, a two-term congressman who won the nomination.

"I am discouraged. I'm fighting against my inclination to say, 'The hell with it all,' " said Olszewski, an administrative judge for New York state.

Democrats are trying to hold on to control of Congress in a year when polls show the president's popularity is slipping, particularly among independents. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has seen the rise of tea party activism, which is shaking up races across the nation.

J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, acknowledged there is frustration that that the Democrat-led White House and Congress haven't achieved the party's full agenda but quickly added, "We're not done yet."

Earlier in the day, former White House environmental adviser Van Jones urged activists and bloggers to have patience with the president. Jones resigned last year after he was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the 2001 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.

"Change is still possible," he said, echoing the president's 2008 campaign slogan.


I have a crazy idea.  Why not try to govern as a real liberal?  The Republicans will think you are a socialist no matter what.  You might as well give them a reason to cry.  So, here are some things you might try doing, so to shore up your unmotivated base:

  • Stop stabbing us in the back every single time a piece of legislation comes up and you water it down, caving into the Blue Dogs or Republicans.
  • Stop treating us as fools to come to every few years and sucker for votes.  Respect the people who put you in office, for a change.
  • Stop telling us about your support for bills like the Employee Free Choice Act, while refusing to lift a finger to get it passed.
  • Gutting the compromise of your health care bill (the public option), telling us it is the only way, and then getting mad at us for daring to say anything, while holding private meetings with the likes of Senators Coburn and Lieberman to include their pet projects on the said bill.
  • Stop telling us how you are going to follow the "rule of law" by shutting down Guantanamo, while keeping it open.
  • Stop putting yourself (and by extension your voters) out on a limb by advocating civilian trials for terrorists, only to cave in and divert them to military tribunals after Republican complaints.
  • Rescind your assassination list that includes our own citizens, who will not only lose habeaus corpus rights, but will be murdered by their own government on sight.
  • Stop talking about compromise with people who see you as a foreign born Muslim and terrorist.
  • Stop insulting our intelligence by telling us how much you support our ideas and then every time cave into Rahm Emanuel and Lawrence Summers, eviscerating the financial reform bill and doing everything possible to help those corporations you phonily claim to oppose.
  • Stop screwing around with who to pick as your next commanding general, and failed war plans, and get out of Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Stop with the empty speeches.  At this point, we only respect actions.
So, there you go, White House.  If you really care, which I know you do not, that is what your base wants.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Face of A Murderer: Profiles in Corporate Crime

If only Jeffrey Dahmer had been a CEO. He could have gotten away with murdering en masse his two dozen victims, and danced on their graves at a press conference by calling it commerce. Such is life in a society that views non-billionaires as mere expendable waste to be processed and thrown away like garbage--on the condition that the people processing and throwing you away have the resources to do it and who can subsidize the political class of this country to get away with their crimes.

Thus, the corporate mass murderer, and union-buster, of the day, Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship. This is what a Charlie Manson interview with the Washington press corps would look like, if he were given parole.

Massey CEO Blankenship On Mine Disaster: No Regrets
by Dan Froomkin 

Don Blankenship, whose Upper Big Branch coal mine had been cited hundreds of times for safety violations before it blew up in April killing 29 workers, came to the National Press Club on Thursday to face the Washington press corps -- but not in order to express contrition.
Oh, no. There was none of that.
Instead, the Massey Energy CEO, widely considered to be the most arrogant and dangerous man in a dangerous and dying industry, lectured the assembled throng about global poverty, preventable disease, the national debt, highway deaths, physics, the relationship between facts and happiness -- and oh, yes, the need for the federal government to get off his back.
In hindsight, is there nothing Blankenship would have done differently before the worst mine disaster in 40 years? No.
Well, maybe one thing. 
"What I could have done is be more like I normally am, and sued MSHA [the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration] the first time they turned off a scrubber, instead of waiting until they turned off 43," Blankenship said.
In what he insisted at the time was not an act of retaliation, Blankenship sued MSHA last month for disapproving the use of scrubbers to take coal dust out of the air. 
Blankenship said hesitating wasn't like him. But, he acknowledged, such lawsuits "get you a terrible reputation of being unreasonable."
In the latest in a litany of revelations about unsafe practices at the mine , NPR reported last week that two months before the blast, an electrician deliberately disabled a methane gas monitor on a continuous mining machine because the monitor repeatedly shut down the machine.
Ventilation issues appear at the heart of the several investigations into the explosion. Former Massey employees have told reporters the company routinely ignored federal requirements for airflow.
Blankenship didn't bat an eye when protesters from the Rainforest Action Network unfurled banners in front of him, saying "MASSEY COAL -- NOT CLEAN SAFE OR FOREVER." 
"You can see there are people who have opinions without the discomfort of thought," he said, after the protesters were escorted out of the room.
Amanda Starbuck, one of the protesters, told the Huffington Post afterward that the group was trying "to send a clear message that Massey Energy are reckless, they're arrogant, and they're a big obstacle to moving toward a clean energy future that our president and country are pulling for. They are the BP of the coal industry."
Indeed, it's probably only thanks to BP's Tony Hayward that Blankenship isn't the most hated man in America.
The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward jotted down this exercise in self-justification:
I'm a realist. The politicians will tell you we're going to do something so this never happens again you won't hear me say that. Because I believe that the physics of natural law and God trump whatever man tries to do. Whether you get earthquakes underground, whether you get broken floors, whether you get gas inundations, whether you get roof falls, oftentimes they are unavoidable just as other accidents are in society. So, the idea that we can prevent it from happening again is one that I'm cautious not to say that, although I can tell you there is no one more motivated and intending to try harder to avoid it happening again than I am and Massey's management time is.
Blankenship offered a variety of history lessons to the audience, including one that described slavery, among other things, as examples of how "businesses always seek to have low cost labor and have a cost advantage, and that's something we have to be aware of."
There were plenty of howlers, but the prize might go to his insistence that mountaintop removal -- a particularly destructive form of mining which involves blowing the top off mountains, thereby destroying entire ecosystems -- was actually bringing "more wildlife" and "more wetlands" to Appalachia.
Blankenship dismissed reports that Massey miners live in fear of him. "We feel very good about what we've achieved in the area of communication with our employees," he said. 
As an example, the notorious union-buster said the reason that all six recent union drives at Massey mines have failed was that the miners know how much the company cares about them.
He said it was an "almost inhuman insinuation" that anyone in his company had intentionally jeopardized any miner. "We certainly would never put profits above safety. Never have, never will."
So he doesn't feel at all guilty? "I think that the word guilty is not the right word," he said. "I feel that I don't want to experience it again. I feel sorry for the families."
While extolling the virtues of unfettered private enterprise, Blankenship had one bone to pick with some of his fellow CEOs. "I do think that American businesses need to be honest as opposed to being politically correct," he said.
Blankenship's pro-business message boiled down to this: "At the end of the day, productivity divided by population equals quality of life." That maxim earned him wild applause from half a dozen ringers at a back table.
"I consider myself a word I created myself, a competitionist," he said. 
There's probably a very special word for Blankenship, but that isn't it.
Ellen Smith, the editor of Mine Safety News and one of the most astute chroniclers of the mine industry, told the Huffington Post Thursday that Blankenship is nothing if not consistent. 
"He's never changed," she said. "You can watch his speeches, you can watch his testimony, he's never changed his tune. It doesn't surprise me at all."
Here's the video from C-SPAN.

If nothing else, Mr. Blankenship is at least an honest man. He understands perfectly the stakes and consequences of his actions, and like all members of the criminal class that are our CEOs he simply does not care. Of course, I am sure it has nothing to do with the hundreds of millions he has amassed off the charred and butchered bodies of his workers that he disingenuously asserts to care about (before blowing them to smithereens, that is). Their blood and short lives made his luxuries possible.

For those who would counter my harsh words with the war cry about coal providing jobs, over three generations of my family mined in and around that area of the country. I never knew any of them because all of them, every single one of them, were dead before the age of 60 (with Blankenship checking in at the age all of those miners in my family never made it to). My grandfather, great grandfather, great-great grandfather, over a dozen great uncles, uncles, and cousins, all of them died in those mines, either in accidents or for the most part by black lung. Well, I take that back. One of them, a great uncle who was a miner, avoided that fate, by being killed in World War Two. The rest of them were not so lucky.

To the people of West Virginia who so love this industry and the company that is killing off all of your men, ask yourselves: if coal mining is such a great thing for your economy, then why after more than a hundred years of mining your state the surrounding areas remain some of the most poverty-stricken in the US? Coal still provides half of our energy source, with those companies making tens of billions of dollars over the decades, and probably hundreds of billions over the past century. In spite of this, West Virginia has to sprinkle toll booths throughout the state just to afford a highway patrol, and still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in America.  Your streets should be paved with gold, not the buried bodies of your workers.

At what point will you realize that people like Don Blankenship are not just cold blooded killers but destroyers of your lands, your mountains, your resources, and treats you like fools by buying both parties in your state, the governor's office, most of the state assembly, and the chief justice of your state supreme court? Your vote, your voice means as little as a slave in the 19th century in your state, to which that is all you are to the likes of this man. When will you finally hold accountable those whose concept of life is to take your young men and depart them from this earth into fire and pieces? The day you can honestly answer those questions is the day you can do something about Don Blankenship.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Old Spice Guy and the Horned Tenant

It is not everyday you get to see the Old Spice guy and Mel Gibson together, even if it is spliced and put on YouTube, but by gum here it is.

BTW, I think the last time I wore Old Spice, I scared an ex-girlfriend off for a week. She said I smelled like Irish Spring when I wore that stuff (and no, I do not use Irish Spring, either), so it is nice to see that Old Spice has decided to try to appeal to an audience younger than my grandparents who last bought me Old Spice.

Act II: I was going to put this guy in a separate moron report, but I felt that had I done so I would be insulting the memory of the two brothers who were intimately horned in the running of the bulls.

Jesse Thornhill, Tulsa man with horns in head, released from jail after trying to run down landlord

BY Nick Klopsis

Landlords, beware: If you mess with a bullish tenant, you could get gored.

A man with cosmetic horns implanted into his head was released from jail Thursday morning after allegedly attempting to attack his landlord with a car.

Police had responded to a disturbance call in Tulsa Wednesday morning, where the landlord told an officer that she and Thornhill had an "altercation" that overflowed into the street.

The police report, posted on, goes on to note, "While in the street, Jesse attempted to strike her with his vehicle." However, the landlord successfully played the role of matador by jumping out of the way in time.

Thornhill's body modifications are noted in the "personal oddities" section of the report as "horns, neck tattoos, implant earrings on head."

The 28-year-old Thornhill was released from the Tulsa County Jail after posting $10,000 bond. He is facing a felony charge of assault with a dangerous weapon.

The saddest part is going to be sight of this poor fellow in the big house, or when he gets out and tries to get a job. I know I should not, but I feel kind of sorry for him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Smearing of Shirley Sherrod

For those living under a rock in this country for the past week, meet Shirley Sherrod, who was fired from her Agriculture Department job after the hacks from Fox "news," courtesy of right-wing blogger/"producer" Andrew Breitbart, accused her (and of course the NAACP) of racism, as a means of diffusing the very real racism of the teabaggers (given to us in a breakdown of racialist honesty from teabagger leader Mark Williams).

Sherrod gets biggest 'I'm sorry' — from Obama

WASHINGTON – Flooded with apologies from everywhere, Shirley Sherrod got the biggest "I'm sorry" of all Thursday — from a contrite President Barack Obama, who personally appealed to the ousted worker to come back.

Sherrod, who was forced to resign on Monday because of racial comments she made at an NAACP gathering, was asked by Obama to rejoin the federal government and transform "this misfortune" into a chance to use her life experiences to help people, said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Obama had stayed out of the public brouhaha that followed Sherrod's ouster from the Agriculture Department after a conservative blog posted a clip of the black woman's comments and portrayed her as racist. Once it became clear that the speech in question was advocating racial reconciliation, not racism, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to her and offered her a new job Wednesday. Gibbs also apologized publicly "for the entire administration."

Thursday morning, Obama spoke by phone with Sherrod and said he hoped she would accept Agriculture's offer of a new position, Gibbs said. He added that Obama thought Sherrod was "very gracious."

Sherrod said she hadn't decided whether she would accept the invitation to come back, but she did accept the apologies.

As top government officials begged for her forgiveness, Sherrod did not shy away from telling her story on television. She hopped from network to network, even chatting with the ladies of ABC's "The View" and letting CNN film part of her call with Obama as she traveled the streets of New York City in a car.

Even the president of the United States had a hard time getting to Sherrod while she did interviews. Obama had tried to reach her twice Wednesday night but could not, said a White House official. She was on a plane traveling from Atlanta to New York, where she appeared on several morning shows.

The fracas started when Sherrod was forced to resign as Georgia's director of rural development Monday after a conservative blogger posted a video of her telling a crowd at a local NAACP meeting about her initial reluctance 24 years ago to help a poor white farmer seeking government assistance.

Sherrod took to the media Tuesday denying that her comments were racist, and the NAACP — which had at first condemned her remarks, then later apologized — posted the full 43-minute video showing the entire speech. The farmer in question also did interviews and said Sherrod had eventually helped him save his farm.

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart said he had posted a portion of Sherrod's remarks in an effort to illustrate that racism exists in the NAACP, an argument he was using to counter allegations by the civil rights organization of racism in the tea party movement.

"He was willing to destroy me ... in order to try to destroy the NAACP," Sherrod said Thursday. She said she might consider suing Breitbart for defamation.

Breitbart, who has not responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press, offered a narrow correction on his website, He acknowledged that Sherrod's remarks about hesitating to help the white farmer referenced something that took place before she worked for the government. The site had previously said her comments were about her work as a USDA employee.

However, the site has not backed off its claim that Sherrod's remarks were racist and still labels the Sherrod posting with the heading, "Video Proof — The NAACP Rewards Racism."

Sherrod has said she resigned under White House pressure, but Vilsack has said repeatedly the decision was his. In offering his remorse Wednesday, he told reporters: "This is a good woman. She's been through hell. ... I could have done and should have done a better job."

As Obama stayed out of the public fray before the phone call, questions remained about White House involvement in the decision to ask Sherrod to resign. Had there been White House pressure?

"No," insisted Vilsack. He said he made the decision without knowing all the facts and regretted it. "I am accepting the responsibility with deep regret," he told a news conference.

Gibbs, too, has insisted the decision was made at the Agriculture Department. He told reporters that Obama spoke with Vilsack on Wednesday night, but he wouldn't discuss the substance of the conversation. Gibbs said he doesn't see any reason for Vilsack to resign.

If there is a hell, there is an extra place reserved for the likes of you, Mr. Breitbart. Not that you would care. Of course, that is the beauty of the conservative media. They do not have to worry about things like, say, professionalism, ethics, or standards. After all, this is the same news station whose owner gave the world Hitler's diaries.

BTW, here is what Mr. Breitbart would not show you, least he display the kind of soul his ideological forebears lacked back in the day when his fellow conservatives openly opposed civil rights (many of whom are still of a like mind): This if the full speech by Shirley Sherrod. You will notice in the part that Breitbart edited, she was in actuality arguing against racial discrimination.

And conservatives wonder why minorities do not vote for them? You have only yourselves to blame. This is why I do not lament the demographic changeover in this country. By the middle part of this century, this country's Andrew Breitbarts are going to have to find new targets (other than non-whites and secularists) to sucker this country's lumpens into voting against their interests and letting the Rupert Murdochs keep more of his loot.

Of course, this is the same self-victimizing wretch who set up and destroyed ACORN, so it should come as no surprise that he targets African Americans and race baits them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Freedrom of Spleach: Palin's Tweetiest Tweets

If like most functionally literature adults, you are surprised to find out that Sarah Palin, or one of her assistants, is posting on Twitter, I am sure you are even less shocked to discover what she thinks of the construction of a mosque near ground zero in New York City, in between her butchery of the English language.

Palin sparks Twitter fight on mosque
by Maggie Haberman

Sarah Palin, who waded into a New York political fight by endorsing Ann Marie Buerkle in NY-25, is drifting into a decidedly higher-charged battle: The fray over a planned mosque near Ground Zero. 

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing," she tweeted Sunday.

The building's planners, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, have said it's modeled on religious and community centers such as the YMCA, and that the 13-story, $100 million building would also include an arts center, gym and a swimming pool, as well as a mosque. It would be two blocks away from Ground Zero. 

The project, which has become an increasingly partisan issue in New York, received a renewed burst of national attention when CBS and NBC rejected an ad from the National Republican Trust PAC that crosscut footage of the 9/11 attacks with the sounds of Muslim prayer.

"On Sept. 11, they declared war against us," a narrator says. "And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at ground zero." 

While a recent poll showed a majority of New Yorkers oppose the plan to build the mosque built near Ground Zero, an aide in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's City Hall hit back at Palin, first tweeting “@SarahPalinUSA mind your business." 

The aide, policy hand Andrea Batista Schlesinger, followed that up with: "@SarahPalinUSA whose hearts? Racist hearts?"  Schlesinger deleted both tweets shortly after posting them.  "Andrea was only speaking for herself, and she has the right to her own opinions," said Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser.

Schlesinger posted three new tweets Sunday evening, explaining why she wrote, and took down, her Palin response: "Deleted post bc I regretted curt response. But fact is, I believe this city belongs to everyone - and no one more than another"

"Unlike @SarahPalinUSA, I was born here grew up here. Was showing off to a visitor today - look at how beautiful and diverse my city is."

"I felt pain of 9/11, the trauma. I got through it by believing in my city. Not through fear and hate."

Bloomberg has defended the plan for the mosque, arguing that blocking it would impinge on religious freedom, and he's denounced calls to look into the group's funding – led by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio in a bid to engage his rival, Democrat Andrew Cuomo — as "un-American."


And to think (or apparently not for some of our citizens), these are the same forces who want to make English our national language. 

I am sure being a stabbed heart type, the ex-Governor of Alaska should feel inclined to 'refudiate' the construction of all churches in the US on or near lands that were at one time deeded by treaty to Native Americans. After all, most all of the lands that comprise this country are the site of the very real and longstanding theft of these territories from its original occupants, oftentimes under the guise of Sarah's favorite carpenter-philosopher (and done so in attacks by white settlers and our preferred government that summated in terms of the lives lost for the native victims much greater in magnitude as what we endured on 9/11 [if you just look at how many Choctaws were marched to death in the Trail of Tears, and that was just one act of many]). No, somehow, I think we all know the answer to that one.

Display no. 1,202 of the coming white race war in this country.

Islamophobia and the Muslim center at Ground Zero
By John L. Esposito

(CNN) -- The proposal by the Cordoba Initiative to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero has drawn major media attention and engendered fierce debate. 

Right-wing political commentators, politicians, hard-line Christian ministers, bloggers and some families of 9/11 victims have charged that it is insensitive to 9/11 families, dishonors memories of the victims and will be a "monument to terrorism."

But here are the facts:The center is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away, and the Cordoba Initiative seeks to build a center, not a mosque. The center is not designed as a local mosque for a Muslim community but rather to serve the wider community. 

It is meant to improve interfaith and Muslim-West relations and promote tolerance -- not just to provide services to Muslims. The proposed 15-story community center will include a prayer room, offices, meeting rooms, gym, swimming pool and performing arts center.

The controversy over Cordoba House is not an isolated event. It is part of a much more far-reaching pattern and problem.

Mosque construction in the United States has become a catalyst for increased anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment, discrimination and hate crimes in recent years. 

Efforts to construct mosques to accommodate growing Muslim populations have sparked intense opposition. A commentary appearing in the New York Post last month attacked plans to construct mosques in the state of New York: "...There's no denying the elephant in the room. Neither is there any rejoicing over the mosques proposed for Sheepshead Bay, Staten Island and Ground Zero because where there are mosques, there are Muslims, and where there are Muslims, there are problems."

It continued: "Before New York becomes New Yorkistan, it is worth noting that the capital of Great Britain was London until it became known as 'Londonstan,' degenerated by a Muslim community predominantly from South Asia and Africa, whose first generation of 'British Asians' has made the United Kingdom into a launching pad for terrorists."

In the face of such rhetoric, where do we go from here? 

Globalization and an increasingly multicultural and multireligious America (and Europe), with their significant Muslim populations, tests the mettle of Western democratic principles of free speech and freedom of worship.

Unfortunately, American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims often blur the line between the peaceful and rational mainstream majority of Muslims on the one hand and the acts of a small but dangerous minority on the other.

In some states, opposition to mosque construction has been led by politicians -- individuals charged with representing and upholding democratic values.

In June 2010, a Tennessee Republican candidate, Lou Ann Zelenik, opposed the Muslim community's proposal to build a mosque in Murfreesboro, charging the Muslim center was not part of a religious movement, but a political one "designed to fracture the moral and political foundation of Middle Tennessee."

She warned, "Until the American Muslim community find it in their hearts to separate themselves from their evil, radical counterparts, to condemn those who want to destroy our civilization and will fight against them, we are not obligated to open our society to any of them. "

The charge that Muslims do not condemn terrorism has been made repeatedly, despite that post-9/11, many Muslim leaders and organizations in America and globally have consistently denounced acts of terrorism. But major media outlets do not seem to find them newsworthy, and thus they must be found in smaller outlets on the internet. 

Even though major polls by the Gallup Organization and PEW research center show that the vast majority of American Muslims are well-integrated and, in contrast to many Muslim countries, pluralistic in outlook, a 2006 USAToday-Gallup poll found that substantial minorities of Americans admit to having negative feelings or prejudices against Muslims.

Fewer than half the respondents believed U.S. Muslims are loyal to the United States. About four in 10 favored more rigorous security measures for Muslims than those used for other U.S. citizens and requiring Muslims who are U.S. citizens to carry a special ID and undergo special, more intensive, security checks before boarding airplanes in the United States.

Islam-bashing charges leveled with no concrete evidence by pundits and politicians ring hollow. The call by some New York politicians for a delay in the construction of the Cordoba Center to examine its funding is simply grandstanding that reinforces the notion that somehow all Muslims, mosques and Islamic centers are guilty until proved innocent.

Why should Muslims who are building a center be any more suspect than Jews who build a synagogue or center or Christians who build a church or conference center? 
As New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it: "If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn't be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can't. I think it's fair to say if somebody was going to try to on that piece of property build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming. And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too."

Muslims are part of the mosaic of America, citizens and believers who are economically, educationally and politically integrated. No longer predominantly new arrivals, many are second- and third-generation citizens. Despite terrorist attacks by a very small but dangerous minority of extremists, the majority of Muslims, like their non-Muslim fellow citizens, are loyal citizens.

Islamophobia must be recognized for what it is, a social cancer as unacceptable as anti-Semitism, a threat to the very fabric of our democratic, pluralistic way of life.

The line that distinguishes Islam from those who commit violence and terror in the name of Islam --between the majority of mainstream Muslims and the acts of a minority of Muslim terrorists -- must be maintained.

Blurring these distinctions risks the adoption of foreign and domestic policies that promote a clash rather than co-existence of cultures and threaten the rights and civil liberties of Muslims.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John L. Esposito. 

No. 1,203.

Williams steps aside as chairman of Tea Party Express
From Martina Stewart

Washington (CNN) -- Conservative radio talk show host and prominent Tea Party activist Mark Williams is giving up his role as the chairman of the Tea Party Express, Williams told CNN Saturday.

Williams said his decision stemmed from his involvement in two other major projects.

One is opposing the construction of a mosque near the site of Ground Zero in New York, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001.

The other is leading a recall effort against some members of the Sacramento City Council and running for a spot on the local body himself after the council voted to boycott Arizona over its new immigration law.

"What I'm doing is thinking globally and acting locally," Williams said of his bi-coastal commitments.

Williams said he will continue to be involved with the Tea Party Express as a spokesman, a featured speaker at the group's events, in television and print media and generally as a public face of the organization. 

But Williams will be taking a back seat when it comes to the Tea Party Express' day-to-day managerial responsibilities.

"I'll still be shooting my mouth off and appearing on TV," said Williams. "I just won't be as critical in strategy which is fine by me."

Pointing out that the organization has grown so large and consists of a network of volunteers spread out all over the country targeting a number of midterm races, Williams said the group now needs something akin to a chief executive officer. 

The Tea Party activist said he's already weighed in internally within the organization about who should succeed him as chairman.

And the outspoken conservative said recent controversial comments on his part played no role in his change in status within the Tea Party Express.

"This initiative came from me," said Williams. "Once I got involved in this recall effort, I realized I would have zero time."

Williams also said the recall effort "is an example of Tea Party philosophy in action. You see something wrong and you step in to fix it."

Oh, yes, it is all 'bout freedom, so long as you are white, Christian, and Republican, that is. 

I know I have repeated this for the past three years like it is a broken record, but this is only going to get worse, as whites get closer to our ground zero of becoming a numerical minority by the middle part of this century. As 2050 closes in, what you are reading now is going to be tame by comparison, and our politics, especially the politics of the right, is going to transcend into more openly racist and white supremacist predilections. Hopefully, it will not tear this country apart and the electoral process will simply vote this hatred out. Otherwise....well, I just hope I do not live to see what they want come to fruition because I have no illusion about what kind of America the Sarah Palins and Mark Williams's have in mind for folk of different hues and faiths than their own.

I now remember where I last encountered the writing style/speech mannerisms as Sarah Palin. Yes, none other than the great Roman Moronie.

Friday, July 16, 2010

iPhone 4: The New Vista

Wonder why Steve Jobs threw such a fit over the 'theft' of an iPhone 4 prototype some months back? Well, now we know why. He knew he was passing a lemon on the general public.*


Apple knew about iPhone 4 antenna design flaw

Company ignored concerns of senior antenna engineer

by Suzanne Choney

Early in the iPhone 4's design stages, Steve Jobs was told by Apple's senior antenna expert that the antenna would cause problems, yet the concerns were ignored, according to a source who spoke to Bloomberg News.

"Last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert, informed Apple’s management the device’s design may cause reception problems, said the person, who is not authorized to speak on Apple’s behalf and asked not to be identified," Bloomberg said.

"A carrier partner also raised concerns about the antenna before the device’s June 24 release, according to another person familiar with the situation."

Apple criticized the account, with a spokesman telling The Wall Street Journal: "We challenge Bloomberg BusinessWeek to produce anything beyond rumors to back this up. It's simply not true."

The news comes amid a furor about the iPhone 4's antenna woes, with Apple planning a press tomorrow to talk about it. On Monday, Consumer Reports said it could not "recommend" the fourth-generation iPhone because there is "a problem with its reception" caused mainly by the antenna being wrapped around the phone's casing.

On Wednesday, the publication said use of a rubber bumper around the phone "does remedy the issue," as would a piece of duct tape "or just being careful how you hold the phone. But these options all put the onus on consumers to solve or pay for a fix." The publication said it is "still calling on Apple to provide an acceptable free solution to the iPhone 4's signal-loss problem.

Caballero, the senior engineer, shared his concerns with Jobs, Apple's CEO, according to the source who spoke to Bloomberg. Caballero told Jobs that the antenna design might lead to dropped calls and presented a serious engineering challenge, the source said.

"The metal bezel surrounding the handset would need to be separated in sections to create individual antennas capable of handling particular ranges of the radio frequencies for different wireless networks," the source told Bloomberg.

It was known that "if a user covered one of the seams between the sections, their finger would act as a conductive material, interfering with the signal, the person said."

So far, the company has not acknowledged the antenna problem other than to say:

"Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone."

The company said that those iPhone 4 users who have the problem should "avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available (phone protector) cases."

Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst who specializes in wireless communications equipment, and who has a bachelor's degree in engineering technology, said as cell phones have become smaller, "it becomes harder and harder for manufacturers to place antenna in phones," especially at a time when phones are housing more and more wireless radios — including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS — that need antennas.

While the iPhone 4's antenna design idea "was good in that the antenna is low on the phone, and not covered by the iPhone's metal back, it can cause other problems as we have seen, as people hold the phone they can cover and 'short-out' the antenna, if you will, with the conductance of their skin," he said.

"In addition to all that there is another problem: Phone makers have tried to reduce the radiation that users experience when they hold the phone next to their head, so this typically means that phone makers have generally moved antennas to the bottom of the phone, because the top contains the earpiece that goes next to your head," Nogee said.

"With the iPhone, placing the antenna is even more difficult because most of the back of the iPhone is a metal plate, and you can't enclose an antenna in metal and expect it to work well."

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple and AT&T, exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, over the iPhone 4's antenna reception.

And what do you, the consumer, get from Steve Jobs, who initially blamed everything on those of you who dared to hold his phone on the left side? A free rubber case, smile, and a sorry. Terrible reception, heal thyself.

Apple gives free bumpers to all iPhone 4 owners

Customers get a free case and an apology, but no hardware fix

by Wilson Rothman

Today, as expected, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would offer free rubber "bumpers" to anyone who bought an iPhone 4 in order to fix the problem caused by the antenna's design flaw. However, Jobs did not promise a hardware fix which would alleviate the problem without marring the phone's aesthetic.

"We're not perfect," Jobs told reporters. "Phones aren't perfect either," adding, "but we want to make all of our users happy."

The free offer is available through Sept. 30, and a full refund will be issued to those who already bought the $29 case. The deal will appear on Apple's website "late next week," and if the supply of bumpers runs out, Apple will offer "a choice of cases," presumably all in the $29-or-less price range.

"It's very hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem," Jobs said, "but that problem is affecting a very small percentage of our users."

During the Q&A period following the press conference, Jobs did offer an apology to customers: "To our customers who are affected by the issue, we are deeply sorry," adding, "To those investors who bought the stock and are down by $5, I have no apology."

Apple opened the event with a jab at the media's overreaction to the antenna issue, playing a video of Jonathan Mann's "The iPhone 4 Antenna Song," which includes the lyrics: "If you don't want an iPhone 4 don't buy it. If you bought one and you don't like it, bring it back ... but you know you won't."

Jobs announced that Apple had sold more than 3 million iPhone 4s in three weeks, and that it's been judged the No. 1 smart phone by many publications, including Consumer Reports, who had withheld a "recommended" rating because of the antenna issue.

Jobs also said that the problem itself had not caused an unusual upsurge in customer-support calls. He said that just 0.55 percent of iPhone 4 owners have called tech support, adding "historically ... this is not a large number."

According to AT&T's dropped-call analysis, the iPhone 4 dropped 1 percent more calls than its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

The antenna problem has plagued the iPhone 4 since the first days of its release. Though its impact on calling has perhaps been overdramatized, it is a demonstrable issue: Hold your hand too tightly around the bottom of the phone, and in many cases you will lose reception, and perhaps drop a call.

Yesterday, some speculated that Apple might offer a hardware repair, an invisible fix that Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar called "a rubber bumper on the inside."

This is the third time Apple has publicly addressed the antenna issue. The first time was on June 24, when a company statement said that this was a general problem that all phones experience, and that when using the iPhone 4, people should "avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

Later, on July 2, when Apple, "surprised" to learn of these problems, attributed the flaw to a software issue, wherein the cellular reception bars displayed more signal than was actually available. "the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong."

The firmware update, which came out yesterday, recalibrated the reception bars to better represent actual cellular coverage, but most agree this did nothing to mollify actual reception loss.

This is not dissimilar from when Toyota claimed the design flaw on its breaks were a product of the floor mats. The rubber cover case is the floor mat of this product. On the positive side, the iPhone 4 will not be driving you off the road.

Remember when Apple was the little guy? The one you cheered for? The ones who were not releasing inferior products on us? Well, neither do I, except the inferior products one, until now, but Jon Stewart sure does, and his observations are most apropos for this day: The day the overpriced, self-deluded great product line figleaf was revealed for the profiteering criminal that it is.

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*=For the record, I own and use both an Apple iTouch and iPhone.