Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler
1947 - 2006

"At the present, I feel so unhopeful. I recognize we will pay more attention when we have different leadership. I’m not exactly sure where that leadership will come from. But that doesn’t mean I think we’re all going down the toilet, I just don’t see where that hope will come from. I think we need people with stronger ideals than John Kerry or Bill Clinton. I think we need people with more courage and vision. It’s a shame we have had people who are so damn weak."
Octavia Butler

There was a time when I would go to book signings on a regular basis. Ironically I spent time this weekend looking over some of those books. My copy of Parable of the Talents was signed by its author, the science fiction writer, Octavia Butler. "To Margaret, Best Wishes, Octavia E. Butler." I walked down memory lane without knowing that Ms. Butler passed away on Friday after falling and hitting her head on the pavement near her home in Seattle.

I discovered Ms. Butler because of my obsession with Star Trek. My compulsion to read everything about it brought me to a magazine called Starlog. Starlog was mostly about movies and television shows but it also covered science fiction authors as well. One issue of Starlog had an interview with Octavia Butler. Until that moment I had no idea there was a black female science fiction writer.

Dawn was the first of her books that I read. The protagonist is a black woman, but the publishers used the image of a white woman on the cover. Octavia had to sell a lot more books before people who looked like her characters were allowed to advertise them.

She wrote about time travel, interspecies breeding with aliens, and survivors of civil war. I always felt that any of her books would have made wonderful movies. Hollywood rarely sees things my way.

That is too bad. Octavia Butler's work would fascinate and enlighten millions of people. I hope that those who have never read her books will do so now.

Julia Mancuso's Drug Dealer Father

She announced at a press conference that her mother's grandfather had been a liquor runner for Al Capone.
NBC Olympics

It was a bleak winter olympics for American corporations. They had pinned their hopes for advertising gold on the injured Michelle Kwan and lazy ski bum Bode Miller. On one of the last days of competition however, there was a small ray of sunshine. American Julia Mancuso won the women's giant slalom gold medal.

Mancuso was best known for sporting a tiara on and off slope. Whatever. Apparently she is a good athlete and proved herself in the clutch.

While perusing NBC's olympic website, I came across this little gem of information. Mancuso's father, Ciro Mancuso, was a drug king pin who ran a multi million dollar marijuana smuggling operation and ended up serving 5 years behind bars. Being the inquisitive chick that I am, I just had to do a Google search.

Ciro Mancuso is one interesting guy. Before he did his stretch in a federal penitentiary, he snitched on his own lawyer, Patrick Hallinan, and dozens of others, all in attempt to keep from doing time himself. Hallinan was eventually acquitted and out-of-control prosecutor Anthony White turned his rath on Mancuso, making certain he went to the slammer.

Mancuso didn't do too badly, however. His snitching to the feds gave him a leg up on other drug dealers.

Because of his assistance to the government, Mancuso was allowed to remain free until his legal case was resolved and to keep between $2 and $4 million in cash and land that were earned from his trafficking business in Thai marijuana.

Do you recall that when the "war on drugs" was launched we were assured that the "kingpins" would be the ones who went to jail? As an excellent documentary on PBS' Frontline told us, snitches get off. Family members snitch on one another to avoid life sentences. If you have no information to give, you do big time, kingpin or not.

Of course, the mass incarceration of black people began with the monstrous war on drugs. The Mancusos of the world do less time and even get to keep their cash.

There is more I could say. For example, if a black olympian had criminals on both sides of the family, would that information be repeated over and over? I'm guessing that the answer would be yes.

If Madison Avenue wants to use Mancuso to sell products that is their business. But the Mancuso story is not just a personal one. It is the story of how the government has become as corrupt as the criminals they pursue, all in the name of saving us from drugs, and putting more colored faces behind bars.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thanks for the Hook Up

I have to thank David Neiwert at Orcinus and Steve Gilliard at The News Blog for linking to a Black Commentator column I wrote last February on the never ending efforts of white supremacy groups to foment hatred and violence in our society. Neiwert is always alerting us to the dangers these groups pose. He has noted a disturbing surge in neo Nazi activity in the northwest. Please donate to his "Say No to Nazis" campaign. The Nazis and others are shrewd and are using different tactics than they have in the past. They have learned to clean up their image and that makes them even more dangerous.

I also need to thank Znet and Smirking Chimp for posting my Black Commentator column on Halliburton's contract to build detention centers.

It is good to know that other people find my work useful and want to spread it around. Next Thursday in Black Commentator I will get to the truly outrageous aspect of the Dubai port security deal. Can you say bribery?
Dumb Blondes

If they're (Lou Dobbs and Chris Matthews) both true blonds at 60, they should be put on display at a medical museum.
Jack Shafer, Slate

No need to question if white supremacy is ascendant. Just look at the women, and men, who read the news. MSNBC, Fox and CNN must have a requirement that all women on camera become blonde. Even the Weather Channel is in the act. Brunettes aren't allowed to tell us about high pressure systems and noreasters. Slate must be thanked for this great photo essay on television's Aryan nation.

Rita Cosby is the host of one MSNBC's many awful programs. She proved her fitness to only peddle missing blonde girl stories when she said Democrats were going after the "hoodlum vote."

"They (Democrats) are going after the quote, hoodlum vote. I mean that I think is very racist. Clearly they are going after the African American vote." When the usually brain dead and also bleached blonde Chris Matthews asked her to explain herself, Ms. Cosby added,"They're going after the felons. They're going after the convicted felons. They're going after these rosters saying that some of these felons should be able to vote."

Yes, Blondie, former felons who have finished their sentences should be allowed to vote. The lack of voting rights for felons is the great untold story of the Florida election theft in 2000. Jeb Bush removed thousands of eligible voters, by claiming they were felons when they were not.

Blondie should be asked why it is racist to turn out the black vote. It is racism that makes black people a disproportionate pool of the incarcerated population and it is racism that allows these citizens to lose their voting rights.

It is bad enough that we have to look at an endless pool of bleached blondes. Unfortunately we also have to listen to them.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Letterman on Cheney

Letterman gets to the root of the problem here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

CBS Covers for Cheney

It has already begun, the press cover up I mean. CBS has already scrubbed its website of anything that the Bushies don't like. CBS initially reported that the Secret Service prevented local law enforcement from interviewing Cheney. Now those quotes are gone.

The press corps tore into Scott McLellan yesterday but it couldn't last. We are back to business as usual between the White House and the corporate media.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Accident Schmaccident

"I said, 'Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper,"' she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "And he said, 'You go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing."' McClellan said: "The vice president thought that Mrs. Armstrong should be the first one to go out there and provide that information to the public, which she did. She reached out early Sunday morning to do so."

OK, forget what I posted yesterday. Dick Cheney shot this guy Whittington on purpose. Whittington was wearing a bright orange jacket. He was shot in the face, neck and chest. He was in intensive care. The Secret Service turned the local sheriff's office away when they came to interview Cheney.

There is more to this story and we won't know what it is until Whittington speaks up. He is a mover and a shaker in Texas politics. If he wasn't he wouldn't have been hanging out with the Veep in the first place. He isn't the type to remain silent after getting shot.

We have all experienced panic and done something stupid because of it, but this is just beyond the pale. What idiot told Mrs. Armstrong to call the press? Who decided not to get in front of the story and put a good spin on it? It all points to the shooting being something other than an acccident.

I always knew that Bush and Cheney were criminals, I just didn't think they would start shooting their own kind.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dick Cheney Shoots

What the f**k? Today we are told that Vice President Dick Cheney was hunting for quail in Texas and accidentallly shot another hunter, Harry Whittington. The shooting took place yesterday but was not reported until today.

The news did not come from the Vice President's office. The story was first broken by the Corpus Christi Caller Times (registration required) and the first confirmation came from Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the hunt took place.

My first take on this story is that Cheney hoped the incident could be covered up. He had good reason to believe he could get away with it. On June 28, 2005, I posted that Cheney showed up at the hospital in Vail, Colorado under the name Dr. Hoffman. Arrianna Huffington, thank God she hangs out with the swells, happened to be in Vail at the same time and noticed that the Veep's plane had landed. If it were not for Arianna we wouldn't know anything about this hospital visit.

Huffington heard that Cheney had an EKG, Cheney claimed to be visiting his orthopedic surgeon, that surgeon's staff denied he was even working that day. The corporate media laid low, as they always do, and Cheney got away with lying about an illness that sent him to the hospital.

I am not expecting anything better from the media this time around. There are grounds to impeach Cheney for his obvious conflicts of interest with Halliburton and for ordering Lewis Libby to leak classified information to the press. The media haven't gotten around to saying much about those issues either.

Let's hope the stress doesn't give Cheney a heart attack. Of course, if it does no one will tell us about it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

“Let Condoleezza Rice, Bush and all the tyrants shut up."
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

It is hard to argue with those sentiments. I have said the same thing myself. Condi can never leave well enough alone. The Scandinavians were taking the heat on the Muhammad cartoons, and instead of keeping quiet she accused Iran and Syria of instigating trouble.

Syria and Iran don't have to instigate anything. Muslims are mad that the prophet was depicted and they were even madder that he was disparaged.

Now it seems that the Danes were a little choosey about whose religion they laughed at. Jyllands-Posten, the paper that sparked the uproar, refused to publish cartoons making fun of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Muhammad Cartoons

Should European newspapers have printed the cartoons of Muhammad? I say no, and for a very simple reason. Muslims do not depict Muhammad, in any way, shape or form. Any depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemous, so I see no reason to create them.

I know that we have freedom of expression. I am free to insult and offend, but it is freedom that I choose not to exercise.

Writers or artists can express their opinions about the role that Islam plays in politics without resorting to means that they know will cause ill will. Anyone who wants to debate suicide bombing or terrorists who kill in the name of their religion should do so. It isn't true that we have to decide between speaking out or demeaning religious belief.

I would not riot if Muslims depicted Jesus in a way that I found offensive and it is terrible that demonstrations have resulted in deaths. I am a Christian but I acknowledge that much of religious belief is metaphor about the human condition. I wish that people weren't dying over metaphors about Muhammad or any other religious figure.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Blame Jennifer Aniston

I can't stop the Oprah bashing. I already took her on in my Black Commentator column last week but I'm just having too much fun. Steve Winn of the San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting take on Oprah. Her much talked about tongue lashing of Frey made her look like Joan Crawford in a tizzy over wire hangers.

As I said in BC, Oprah is the corporate honcho extraordinaire. Nothing wrong with that, just don't pretend to be "your best self" when the real issue is cold, hard cash.

This bizarre episode began when Oprah wanted to interview Jennifer Aniston. Aniston owns the film rights to Frey's book, and demanded that Oprah promote it in exchange for the sit down. Oprah also got a warning from a past guest that Frey was lying before he even appeared on the show. Too late. A deal is a deal. Frey went on the air and the rest is history.

When proof of Oprah's knowledge of the lies started to come out, the damage control began. You have to give her credit. She knows how to get herself out of a jam.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Joint Chiefs in a Snit

"Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon is beyond tasteless."
Joint Chiefs of Staff letter to Washington Post

No, cartoons aren't tasteless. Death because of military aggression is tasteless. The Joint Chiefs had to know that occupying Iraq made no sense militarily, but they work for Bush, so like millions of other Americans they did what their boss wanted them to do.

Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles was called on the carpet by the brass because of a cartoon that made fun of Rumsfeld and by extension the Joint Chiefs as well. They all need a better sense of humor and they need to get the hell out of Iraq, where most quadruple amputees go without treatment of any kind.