23 August 2007

Like Mike...

I have to admit that I'm pretty stunned at the outcry for Michael Vick to be allowed to return to the NFL after he does the jail time that is coming his way.
This morning I discovered that NBA player Stephon Marbury felt that dog fighting was a sport and Vick is a man that is hurting and being brought down.
The NAACP was on the morning news standing firm behind Michael Vick being allowed to resume his gainful employment with the NFL after he pays his debt to society. R.L. White of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP said that Vick was getting more attention than he would have if he had killed a person. White then said something foolish like, we should all join hands with Vick and embrace the fact that he is only human.
Then, Jason Whitlock of FOX Sports, who I usually kinda' like, wrote the most ridiculous piece of non-sense that I have seen all year crying foul against anything negative that should befall the precious Mr. Vick. In his article he said that "As a society, we should aid in Vick's rehabilitation and welcome a new Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football." He goes on to say that Vick, deserves the opportunity to re-enter society and earn an honest living..."
One of my co-workers stood tall for Mike Vick, proclaiming that she'd heard about a lot of guys in Baltimore dog fighting and she felt that it was a "legitimate sport like dog-racing" and she felt that the justice system was just trying to bring another Black man down.
God, if I write one more quote from these bleeding heart imbeciles - I am going to drop dead right here on my keyboard.
This whole - "Cry For Mike" campaign that so many people are participating in is nothing short of astonishing. I wish this kind of outcry occurred for the hundreds of Black people that are shot, stabbed and killed by other Blacks every day. I wish groups like the NAACP re-established their value in our community by standing taller and stronger for the law abiding Black people and took less of a presence for Blacks who are LEGITIMATELY convicted of and confessed to criminal activity. (please note the word "legitimate" in the previous sentence, I am ALWAYS for the defense of innocent Blacks that are falsely accused and railroaded into our jails)
This whole Vick thing comes down into three parts in my book:
1. The criminal act of dog fighting
2. The media blitz surrounding Vick
3. The post prison life for Vick
Here's my two cents...
#1. This dog fighting thing. It's some of the most vile and savage stuff I've ever seen. I'm disheartened that so many people in the Black Community have either embraced it or dismissed it. With all the Vick hype in recent months, everybody is racing to show as much as they can of this spectacle and I've tried to watch it to grasp just what MIGHT be sport like about it, and sadly I didn't have the stomach for it. It is animalistic, sub-human and barbaric... two dogs - raised and trained to kill, are in a pit and forced to bite and claw each other to death. They sink their fangs into each others throats and rip and tear - trying to pull enough skin, muscle and arteries off of one enough to break the other dogs spirit and continue ripping into it to bring about death or submission. Then for the losers who aren't fortunate enough to die, the thugs that own them take them to the side and find sadistic ways to kill them.
Why fools think this is a REAL SPORT is beyond me. They need to stop making excuses for the criminal and inhumane behavior of thugs and hoodlums. They need to stop trying to coddle that element in society that makes padlocks, lo-jacks, burglar alarms, mace, steering wheel locks and guns for home protection necessary! At some point, we - especially as Black people need to acknowledge crimes as CRIMES. Everything illegal does not warrant a wave of sympathy and excuses. SOMETIMES - SOME PEOPLE have no regard for the law and SOMETIMES things are actually CRIMES!
#2 This media blitz. Okay, I'm tired of seeing Vick - I really am. But he brought this mess on himself! He is a public figure... dare I say a 'celebrity' in many people's eyes. When you are a high profile figure, in this country, in this day and age - everything you do, even the slightest bit negative, is going to be captured on a camera, on a phone, on the Internet - somewhere! You are going to be scrutinized, whether it is fair or unfair, it is going to be publicized. So, Vick should have known that if he was involved in something illegal - regardless of whether it was dog fighting, gun running, drug smuggling, DWI, DUI, gambling, handgun violations, weed smoking, dice, or peeing in public - it would be the lead story on ESPN and FOX news! I'm actually starting to wonder what the hell Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan are doing this week?
#3 Post prison. My buddies think I'm being hard on Mike Vick when I say that he should be banned for life from the NFL. My reasoning for this has nothing to do specifically with the dogs or the color of his skin. It has, however, everything to do with the National Football League. It is a PRIVILEGE to play in the NFL, it is not a RIGHT. It is a PRIVILEGE to put on an NFL team uniform and take the field on the grandest stage in the world, it is not a right. It is a PRIVILEGE to have the opportunity to earn millions of dollars a year playing the greatest game in the world, it is not a right. And, it is a PRIVILEGE to live the dreams of millions and millions of boys and men across the globe by being a professional football player, it is not a right. Vick knew this and he took it for granted and he broke the rules and now he should not be allowed to participate in the game again. He had the opportunity - the once in a lifetime opportunity and he squandered it - thus it is called a ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity. Bleeding hearts like White and Whitlock are begging for Vick to be given a chance to earn a living when he gets out - NEWSFLASH - Mike Vick already has more money in the bank than 90% of Americans will ever see in a lifetime - earning a living is the LEAST of his worries, so again - GIVE ME A BREAK! And just because he may not be allowed to play football again, nobody said he couldn't be a plumber, or an electrician, or a dentist, or an airline pilot. There are only about 96 NFL quarterbacks in the world, so there ARE other jobs out their for him. Besides, after he gets out of jail, I'm confident that Vick a.k.a. Ron Mexico will find plenty of other shenanigans to get into!
For those people that are crying about the justice system trying to pull down another Black man, please, please, please, please, please give me a break. Michael Vick did not just wake up a few months ago wearing Black skin. Unless they have been living under a rock, or they've been in the Republican party for more than 10 years - 95% of Blacks over the age of 18 knows that the justice system in this country is far from perfect when it comes to Black people. Let's be honest here. Vick, assuming he has a modest amount of sense, knows that he as a Black man, and not just ANY Black man, but a Black MULTI-MILLIONAIRE is not going to be untouchable when it comes to the law. He knew this. So for all these people acting like the US justice system just suddenly became unfair and unbalanced in the case of this guy, get over yourselves, its the same game it always has been and Vick knew the rules and the risks!
Let me share a little something with anybody that is not a Black man living in 21st century America. I respect police officers for the most part - but when it comes to the justice system as a whole, I am ALWAYS on guard. With the exception of mornings when I take the trash out, I am never without legal identification a.k.a. MY LICENSE. Because I am always aware that as a Black man, if I am ever pulled over, or detained, or question by law enforcement - there is a reasonable chance, that in this day and age - I could be blamed, charged or even incarcerated for any given amount of time for virtually any crime that has occurred within 50 miles and 48 hours of my present location. And, this is simply because "I fit the description" - Black Male, 25 - 45 years old, 5' 8" to 6'1" - it sounds crazy. Yeah - it sounds insane, but it is true. If you don't believe me, ask around. I'm never slippin'. I am always able to prove who I am. I'm always inbounds. And frankly, Mike Vick was slippin'. He went out-of-bounds. He thought he was above a justice system that thrives on Black men. He thought he was above the laws of human decency. He thought he was above the rules of the largest sports organization in the world. He wasn't - and now he has to face the music.
Mike Vick was living the dream. The dream that so many boys and men have. He was an NFL Quarterback. He was a professional athlete. The world was his oyster, and he threw it all away for some foolish, thuggish, criminal, barbaric ignorance. I have no sympathy for him.

18 August 2007

Et tu E-Z-Bake?

I wasn't too surprised when I heard, a few weeks ago, that Sesame Street toys made in China were being recalled. Leading this particular recall were Big Bird and Elmo toys. I always thought that Big Bird was pretty clean cut, but Elmo's a different story. I always KNEW that there was something sinister about him.

All that red fur and googly eyes, and that little voice. I knew HE was a bad dude, I knew HE was just the kind of toy to try to harm our kids. Him and his CRAYONS and his little goldfish... pleeeease.

But the Easy Bake oven recall came out of left field.

Well, actually none of this should surprise me and a big part of me is happy its happening. These incredible recalls; fish, dog food, cat food, toothpaste, toys this week, toys last week, toys the week before last, toys next week - its shameful. Shameful and disgusting. But NOT shameful and disgusting because of anything the Chinese have done. No, it's shameful that WE have so much of our economy, our products, and our welfare resting squarely in another country's hands!!!

I came to a scary conclusion a few years ago... one morning I was lying in the floor playing with a bunch of toy trucks with my son and I happened to notice that the one I had was made in China. For no particular reason I checked another one and it to was made in China. A third was made in Taiwan, two more in China, two more in Taiwan. I got so caught up in this reality check that I ended up spending the better part of an hour trying to find anything in my home, toys or otherwise, that was made in the good old U.S. of A. When all was said and done I'd have to say that less than 10% of the things I checked were made in this country.

Even in my wildest imagination I thought that maybe 30 or 40 percent might be made in America. But I was way off base. This is the fact that I'm so shamed and bothered by. The politicians of this country have so much against China. Its the classic case of smile in your face and stab you in the back, yet while China and the US are smiling at each other - we are importing hundreds of billions of dollars in materials and goods from them each and every year. Yet deep down we don't trust them. And while trust is a big issue, there is an even bigger problem that has me scratching my head.

Why in the world aren't we Americans making our own toothpaste? Why aren't we Americans growing and producing our own fish and fruits? Why aren't we making and painting our own toys for OUR kids? Why?

Have you read your orange juice bottle?
"made with oranges grown in China, Chile, Brazil..."

Have you looked inside of you sneakers?
"made in Taiwan..."

Have you looked on the bottom of your laptop or keyboard?
"Japan no doubt..."

Why aren't WE in America stepping up and making our own merchandise?

Let me be real for a moment, I know its all about money, everything is. American importers want to use the cheaper Chinese labor and China wants the business. I'm all for international trade and international commerce, and I understand that the United States needs to be a big part of that. But must we COMPLETELY sell ourselves? I honestly doubt that millions of little Chinese and Taiwanese boys and girls are crawling around on the floor playing with toy cars and toy trucks, and little airplanes and dolls made in America. I doubt it seriously.

Honestly, it's that same "let somebody else do it" mentality that is fueling so much of the immigration problem we have in this country. If I hear one more politician say, the illegal immigrant population does the jobs that American's are unwilling to do - I'll scream. The truthful statement is "Illegal Immigrants will do the jobs that Americans are unwilling to do for slave wages." When it comes to Asian manufacturing for American importing the statement is "Chinese will manufacture the goods that Americans are unwilling to do for slave wages." And, nobody should HAVE to do ANYTHING for a slave wage. It is this type of shameful financial treatment of lower tier employees that creates a multi-generational poverty among working class people.

It's disgusting. Multi-billion dollar companies refuse to shave a small portion off of their profit line by hiring the men and women, the mothers and fathers that will buy their products - to make their products. These importers want their toys, and snacks and products sold in Detroit, Washington DC, Boise, Tampa, Cleveland, Sacramento, Boston, Miami, Denver and all of these kinds of places, but they are not willing to hire the people that live in these cities to make these same products at a decent salary. And we're telling them, "It's okay."

"Sure, it's okay to not hire me, an American, to build a product that is intended for American stores and American citizens. I'm not upset. There's NOTHING you can do to create jobs for Americans that ARE willing to work, but can't find a job that pays enough to buy food and healthcare. It's okay. I know your profit is very important to you and I wouldn't want to interfere with your profit. So please, give me that Elmo with the lead painted eyes, the truck with those loose little magnets, and the Easy Bake oven that gives off those deadly fumes... my two-year-old will love them."


15 August 2007

Guns + Young + Poor Judgement = Safer Schools for all.

I found my jaw hanging wide open a few days ago when I read about a big push in Virginia to allow college kids with concealed weapons permits to carry handguns on campus.

Of course, the overwhelming justification the supporters of this bill are using is the tragic massacre that took place at Virginia Tech this past April.
I take nothing away from those effected by those terrible killings. It was an unthinkable crime that seemed to come from nowhere and I'm certain that many folks will never ever fully recover from such overwhelming violence. I think it shames the memories of all of the victims at Tech, for these people to call for even more handguns on our college campuses.
To me, it's as if the Gun Lobby, the Gun Nuts, the Wing-Nuts - whatever you want to call them, can't wait to push the NRA mindset of more guns, more guns, more guns into American hands. These people are saying "What if April 16th happens again?" "I have to arm my kid so I can rest easy knowing he's on campus." They are just waiting to buy Junior his first Glock, or Sig, or Smith and Wesson, and a cute little ankle holster.
To these people I want to say, "Open your eyes! You are making college campuses 10 times more dangerous WITH more guns than it is without the guns!"
So many people think that if you have a gun and a violent crime occurs, you can use sound judgement, safely and quickly draw your weapon, check your background, take careful aim, wait for the right moment, wait, breathe, wait some more, breathe again, double-check the target and the background, wait, aim, aim, breathe in deep, exhale slowly, aim, squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze - BANG! Check your target and do it all again. This, I promise, will be virtually impossible to do for 98% of all people. If you doubt me, ask My Man - GUNFIGHTER.
Simply put, college aged kids, need to focus on being students and professors need to focus on professing - not trying to be pseudo-cops. I'd be more scared KNOWING my kids were on a campus with a hundred [or more] hidden handguns all around them. If Virginia, and the other states considering similar bills were to pass these into laws, they would be lighting the fuse to an even more deadly explosion of violence. 19 to 21 year olds are the very last people that should be carrying weapons while trying to go to school, take classes, pass tests, do homework, think about jobs, and worry about mounting school loans. It's just too much, I think. And, the next mass shooting is just one failed exam, one breakup with a girlfriend, one overlimit credit card bill, one embarrassing professor away from happening when a stressed out sophomore declares that he has "had enough."
To parents and students that want guns on campus, so they will feel safer - please think twice. You are going to get someone - either YOUR kid, or someone innocent - KILLED. Let your student, study and if they want to carry a gun to make the world safer, send them to the local police academy or the local Marine recruiter, then at least they'll be properly trained. But don't get them killed or make them into a killer. Guns and shooting are serious business and should not be bought and used without sincere and mature consideration. And if after this consideration, you still want to be armed and on a college campus - stay out of school, because you're obviously not smart enough to handle it.

03 August 2007

Driving in DC

I’ve never been in combat. At least not “REAL” combat with folks shooting guns at me, with hand grenades going off and tanks and jets blowing up everything in sight. Naw – nothing like that.

But, you know what I have done, and lived to tell about it?

I’ve driven in Washington DC.

Yup. And for the most part – I’ve survived.

Now, Washington is a great city to drive in – provided you are the only car on the road. There is history, great architecture and impressive landscapes from one end of this city to the other. The streets, while bumpy and crappy for the most part, are arranged in a reasonable and very user friendly configuration in which one street will be going north and the very next one will be going south, the same typically applies to east and west. Most of the streets are identified on the signs with NW, SW, NE, or SE and if that doesn’t work and you can see the dome of the capital and the sun, then you can pretty much figure out what part of town you’re in. Like I said, it’s a great city to drive in if you are the only car on the road.

And that happens… never.

This morning I saw so much aggressive driving, so much crazy lane changing, so many middle fingers being thrown that I almost pulled over to wait until rush hour was over. It was incredible! Typically I take the DC metro [subway] into work, and despite all the gripes and complaints about the fares that metro charges – I’d pay $20 a day to avoid all the foolish crap that people do on the roads inside the beltway!

As I drove cautiously past Union Station, several minutes after seeing a massive SUV narrowly miss hitting an Audi sedan, I asked myself why do things seem so crazy here in DC. My conclusion was this:

The District of Columbia is made up of four major groups of drivers. You have the Hob-Nobbers, the people that live and work in the high profile parts of DC - Capital Hill, Georgetown, Arlington, etc. They are very focused on themselves and the assumed rightness of their mission. They are very oblivious of most other drivers because they are Senator’s aides, Government hotshots or up and coming executives at the hottest law firms and companies. They are ALWAYS headed somewhere more important than you or I and they MUST be able to get home or to the office. These people can usually be seen in their Volvo’s, Audi’s and Mercedes’ impatiently whipping in and out of lanes as they become bored with having us mere mortals around them.

Then you have, The Tourists. These people come from all over the country to see the sights, and that’s where the problems start. They land at Reagan National Airport and pickup a minivan or SUV and head right into the city – AT RUSH HOUR! They have no clue as to where they are going and where ever the are, they are awestruck! They have to slow down to look at every damn thing in sight. Then they make an illegal turn at the next intersection so they go back and see it again. To these people I want to say, take some time to read your map, have a driver and a photographer that are two separate people and drive between 11AM and 2 PM and 8PM and 11PM ONLY!!! You can always spot these people, because they go 20 miles per hour and swerve a lot.

After The Tourists, you have The Residents. They know the lay of the land and they just want to get from point A to point C without getting stuck at point B. They don’t care about the Capital, the Mall, the Jefferson Memorial, Union Station or the Senate Office buildings – they just don’t feel like being bothered by all the other non-sense. These people tend to be aggressive to most of us because typically their cars are already beaten up because the DC streets are so rough and raggedy and I think they figure that if they hit a few of us other drivers, maybe we’ll spread the word to stay out of town! The Residents tend to drive way to fast and way too close to your bumper!

Finally you have The Commuters, like me. We don’t live in DC, we just work and play here. We like the Capital and the White House and the Smithsonian, but we don’t pay them much mind because we’ve see them a million times. We like our jobs, but we won’t kill to get to them, and we know pretty much how the city is laid out, but we won’t break our necks to get to where we’re going. We just come and we go. Our traffic screw up is an odd combination of all three - illegal turns, too much and too little speed, a touch of tail gating and a sprinkle of quick lane changing. But see – we HAVE to drive this way in order to survive those other three kinds of drivers!

It’s kill or be killed sometimes on the roads in DC, and like I said, “I’ve never been in combat…” but I’ve been REAL close!