Tag Archives: Politics

Awareness Politics

Can Hip-Hop Change The Style Of Politics? : NPR

NPR asks an interesting question.  One that seems to come up every election season with increasing alacrity.  Can Hip-Hop Change The Style Of Politics?

I have to say that my suspicion is no.  Hip hop, like many other things with a following and with celebrity backing, can have an impact on changing public opinion.  Sure, it’s been crucial at raising awareness of many issues and probably has made a few people start thinking about things in a particularly different manner.  However, it cannot do it alone.

To get a better sense of the issues, NPR interviewed Lester Spence, an associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.  They had him to discuss his book: Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics.

The audio interview is 12 minutes if you can spare it.  Otherwise, there’s also a transcript that will let you scan the interview.  It’s actually a fascinating piece, and if you have the time I strongly suggest you take a read/listen.  Here’s a snippet.

MARTIN: So the idea that hip-hop is a core sort of truth teller, its primary purpose is to say sort of uncomfortable truth. Has that always been a part of its history?

SPENCE: Yes, it has. Hip-hop starts and rap starts as a way, as a vehicle for working class, black and Latino youth to express themselves and, although there is this boastful element to it, where you have MCs talking about how dope they are, etc., etc., people have always made the attempt, at least, to connect them to everyday reality.

MARTIN: What is not in dispute is that hip-hop is associated with a certain generation, or the rise of a certain generation with its own kind of preferences around music and style and a beat and so forth. And it doesn’t seem illogical to think that a generation that grew up with hip-hop as its primary musical form would also kind of take it into the voting booth, you know, as it were, or take it into the world of political activism.

Here’s a moment that crystallizes this for you very clearly, which you talk about in the book. The former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, elected in 2001 at the age of 31 – of course, he comes from a political family. His mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was the long time congressional representative from the Detroit area.

And you describe one of his inaugural events where he enters the room, but rather than silencing the crowd in the traditional manner to speak, he – finish telling us about that scene and tell us why you found it particularly powerful.

SPENCE: Yeah. I mean, so I was there. There were a number of DJs spinning house hip-hop all night long and he comes in while Biz Markie is DJing and Biz Markie is an old school MC who’s transitioned into being a DJ. And around the time the mayor walks in, Biz starts spinning his own stuff, like "You Got What I Need." Right.

And Kwame comes in and, instead of calming everybody down, you know, he takes up the mic and he starts singing with Biz Markie in the song. And then we all start singing with him. And I remember saying, like, man, this was the most charged political moment of my life. It was like, finally, there was somebody like us in office.

Featured

Harmonize THIS: King Gordon, Queen Carole and Why John Adams was Right

B.C. Legislature

Ed.: In this post, new 4080 contributor James Roy critiques a recent Tyee piece praising British Columbia’s system of government.

By James Roy

Alan Durning’s admiration of British Columbia’s political system warrants a typically Canadian response: thank you very much; but you’re wrong and here’s why.

He picks the best parts of the parliamentary (not our parliamentary, but the parliamentary) system and contrasts them to the worst aspects of the American system.  Curiously, he focused on the relatively popular Carbon Tax as opposed to the incredibly unpopular HST to conclude British Columbia’s government works better than its American counterpart.

Perhaps the reason Durning thinks our system works so much faster than his is because in British Columbia, the government need not concern itself with such trivial little frivolities as public opinion and democratic legitimacy.  It can simply force its agenda through and to hell with all opposed.  In the United States, yes, change often comes slow.  But change there is often more enduring.  Because of John Adams and the other Founders insistence on a separation of powers between the various branches of government, the American system demands that support for change has the essential breadth and depth of support from across the electorate.  Opponents of the recent healthcare bill must assemble as much public support to repeal it as proponents did to pass it.

There are several problems with American government.  The fundamental corruption of their campaign finance system is one (though I should blush as a British Columbian, because ours is also abysmally under-regulated).  The partisan gerrymandering of their federal and state legislative electoral districts is also a devastating flaw.

Again, I should temper my criticism.  American electoral districts at least have nearly equal populations, while British Columbia’s electoral map is slanted against the major population centres.  If you live in Vancouver in the 2013 provincial election, you’d be wise to vote two or three times.  The first time to cast your actual ballot, and once or twice more to give your vote as much power as a resident of Prince Rupert or Fort Nelson—ridings with as little as one-third the population of the average Vancouver constituency.

Another serious problem is the Senate filibuster.  Were it not for the filibuster, the healthcare reform bill likely would have passed one year ago and it would have probably more closely resembled a single-payer or public option model.

Still another problem in American politics is that they have two dominant parties.  Our multiparty system better reflects the political opinions and ideological cleavages of our society than theirs.

But the main problem with American politics at this moment does not spring from their system of government.  The main problem is that a fanatical lunatic fringe is systematically infiltrating the Republican Party, and that is having a consequential effect on governing.  Their problem isn’t John Adams; it’s Glenn Beck.

In 2009, British Columbians went to the polls, re-electing Premier Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals with 49 seats to 35 for the opposition New Democrats and one for independent Vicki Huntington in Delta South.  So goes the official version.

Here’s what really happened.

In an election with the lowest voter turnout (barely 50%) in British Columbia history, British Columbians elected 85 MLAs:  Premier Gordon Campbell, Leader of the Opposition Carole James, independent MLA Vicki Huntington and 82 troglodytic desk-thumping zombies.

Sounds harsh?  Ponder this: over the next month or so of parliamentary “debate” over the HST, how many Liberals do you seriously believe the NDP will be able to flip?  Zero.  Conversely, how many New Democrats will Colin Hansen be able to convince to support the HST?  None.  After all the shouting and screaming and re-finishing of well-pounded desktops, not a single mind will have been changed nor a single vote altered.

In the United States, that is simply unheard of.  Sustained public debate actually does change minds (and votes).  The passing of the recent health care reform bill is a prime example.  There was a great deal of debate, plenty of amendments and much compromise.  The result?  America has a new healthcare system.

It is important to look at what did not happen. What you did not see during the healthcare debate was an arrogant President Obama, confident that he would have the unconditional and unwavering support of every single Democratic Senator and Representative.  Just the opposite.  He flew all over the country aggressively campaigning, encouraging voters to tell their Senator and Representative to vote for reform.

What has Gordon Campbell done to “sell” the HST to BC Liberals?  His office has issued a couple of press releases and posted a lovely PowerPoint presentation on the Ministry of Finance’s website.  He could stay in bed for the next month and BC Liberals will vote according to his command on every single amendment, sub-amendment and procedural motion surrounding the HST bill.

What happened to those 34 Democrats who opposed President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid?  Were they kicked out of the party?  Stripped of any committee responsibilities?  Told they cannot run as Democrats in the next election?  Nope.  They were not punished for voting against their Party’s leadership.

In British Columbia, that literally would have been the last vote those representatives would have cast as party members.  They would have been expelled from their party and stripped of any committee responsibilities.

America elects representatives.  Men and women who need little reminder that they may be members of a party, their constituents elected them.

British Columbia elects trained seals.  We keep learning the sad truth that while we may elect our local MLAs, each MLA represents the Party in their district, and not their district in Victoria.

What explains this difference?  Party discipline.  Strict, unwavering, deluded, insane party discipline.  British Columbia has it.  America does not.  In the United States, the public actually has a realistic chance to change the votes of many elected officials, even in the face of a sustained campaign by political leaders.  In British Columbia, the public has exactly zero chance of doing so due to the insane degree of blindly-follow-the-leader mentality in our political system.

Our political system has perverted the original British ideal of party discipline (“most of the Party, most of the time”) to an insane degree.  And it is the primary reason our political system is in such a mess.

Glen Clark, Bill Vander Zalm and Brian Mulroney had, in the last months or years of their terms, a sustained public approval rating that was somewhere between herpes and personal injury lawyers.  Yet, with every single bill they introduced, they could count on the unanimous support of every representative of their respective parties.  Today, Gordon Campbell has a personal approval rating similar to that of George W. Bush at his lowest.  In 2008, many Republicans ran from the Bush record and congressional candidates refused to be photographed with him.  In 2010, Gordon Campbell reigns supreme as the Sun King of British Columbia politics.  And we are the ones with the more responsible and accountable political system?

Why is party discipline so strong in British Columbia and so weak in the United States?  It all springs from how the parties nominate their candidates for elected office. State and federal laws regulate the American system of primary elections—where all party members in a region vote to decide who will get the party’s nomination for each elected office.  Barack Obama has absolutely no role to play in deciding who gets the Democratic Party nomination for Representative in Washington State’s 2nd Congressional District — Seattle’s Democrats do.

In British Columbia, aside from some insignificant (and largely ineffective) financial disclosure requirements, political parties are essentially treated as private social clubs who can make and break their own rules as they see fit.  Moreover, by provincial law, a party’s candidate cannot get the party’s nomination unless two “principal officers” (basically, the Party Leader and one of his deputies) agree.  Our system does not require parties to hold nomination elections to determine the official candidate, and where parties choose to do so, the party leadership is free to ignore the results and choose someone else.

In British Columbia, all BC Liberal candidates owe their nomination to Gordon Campbell and all NDP candidates owe their nomination to Carole James.  The plain fact is: local party members (and the local electorate) are far less important.  And that, more than anything else, explains why our party discipline is ridiculously strict.

I could really go for some old-fashioned checks and balances right now.

With nearly eight in ten British Columbians steadfast in their fierce opposition to the HST, our system can hardly be described as accountable.  I think I can safely speak for a majority of this province when I say unequivocally, that I would be thrilled if we had a British Columbia Senate right now.

Specifically, a Senate comprised of Senators apportioned differently than our MLAs (either at large, on a regional basis or some hybrid) elected under a different (more proportional) electoral system, serving longer (staggered and limited) terms and most importantly—with members ultimately not responsible to Gordon Campbell and Carole James, but to their constituents.

A Senate that can restrain wild policy swings, veto stunningly unpopular bills, and demand a referendum before it agrees to pass a government bill that was ruled out during an election campaign but suddenly was very much in vogue mere weeks after.

Featured Politics

Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States

obama

It was an awe-inspiring day all around, and I have to say this is an amazing day for the United States of America.  Barack Obama was officially inaugurated as the 44th President.  He is the first black president, one of the youngest presidents elected, and a heck of a guy.

This is one of those days where you should forever remember where you were, when President Obama was sworn in at 12:00 pm EST.

Some things you may have noticed:

Rick Warren

What a guy.  Seriously!  He’s pretty notorious and controversial, but he gave a pretty solid prayer.  I think he did a decent job, even though he went way too long.   I’m pretty sure he was to get in around 2 minutes, but ended up closer to 5.

Aretha Franklin

She had the chance to sing “My Country tis of thee” and did a fantastic job of it.  She definitely took some creative license with it, but considering how long this Queen has been around for, she still sounds amazing.

Yo-Yo Ma

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill had a chance to play a new piece composed by John Williams (yeah he did do the scores for Indiana Jones and Star Wars) specifically for this.  Pretty awesome.

The Oath

Many people are saying Obama flubbed the oath.  You can see from the video below (providing that it’s still online) how it went down.

However, it should be noted that this is Chief Justice Roberts’ error. The cats over at Reuters caught this and are making it known.

Obama smiled slightly when he realized that Roberts, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, misplaced the word “faithfully” during the oath. but the new president joined in the fun and repeated it the way Roberts initially administered it.  (Lest we forget, in the Senate Obama voted against confirming Roberts to the high court. Last week Obama met with him and the other Supreme Court justices during a courtesy call.)

Here is how the oath is supposed to be administered: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

And here’s how it went:

ROBERTS:  I, Barack Hussein Obama…

OBAMA:  I, Barack…

ROBERTS:  … do solemnly swear…

OBAMA:  I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…

ROBERTS:  … that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…

OBAMA:  … that I will execute…

ROBERTS:  … faithfully the office of president of the United States…

OBAMA:  … the office of president of the United States faithfully…

ROBERTS:  … and will to the best of my ability…

OBAMA:  … and will to the best of my ability…

ROBERTS:  … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA:  … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS:  So help you God?

OBAMA:  So help me God.

The Speech

Finally, we get to Obama’s inaugural speech, seen below.

A tremendous start to an already ambitious presidency.

Here is the transcript thanks to the BBC.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Serious challenges

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Nation of ‘risk-takers’

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

‘Remaking America’

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Restoring trust

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

‘Ready to lead’

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

‘Era of peace’

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

‘Duties’

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

‘Gift of freedom’

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world… that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

His speech was touching and reassuring.  It was a ncie mix of practicality with optimism.  It was significantly less hokey than many previous speeches (less talk of change, more talk of sacrifice and determination).  Overall I was impressed.

What a wonderous day.

Featured Politics

Yay for Obama, but thumbs down to the other ballot measures

We all sort of had high hopes for this grand new day since Obama got elected.  But as the results begin to trickle in, we see that it basically was one giant step forward, but two steps back at the same time.

The USA, or rather four states (Arizona, Florida, California, and Arkansas) seemed to fan the flames of intolerance and ran away from more equality overall.

Those four states did their best to ban same-sex marriage, a position I simply can’t wrap my head around.  Arkansas, for their part, passed a measure that prohibited unmarried couples from adopting a child.  This will especially prevent same-sex couples from ever adopting a child in the state (until the law is repealed).  To be fair, this measure does also prevent unmarried opposite-sex couples from adopting as well, which is simply another form of discrimination as there are excellent single parents out there, and quite a few terrible married couples.

California’s Proposition 8 is the most fascinating case study so far.  Recently, California went ahead and legalized same-sex marriage.  Now, just a few short months later, the voters have completely overturned it.

The ironic thing about this whole thing?  It probably wouldn’t have passed if Obama wasn’t so successful at mobilizing black and latino voters.   The major news sources seem to agree that blacks and latinos were more likely to vote in favour of Proposition 8.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

While Obama publicly backed the “No on Prop. 8” effort, African American voters had no trouble voting overwhelmingly for the man who will be the nation’s first black president and then voting 70 percent in favor of Prop. 8, exit polls showed.

It’s tremendous how much of a contradiction exists in society.  America is no different than many other places in the world, but I think it’s just remarkable how all of this happened in the same election.

In summary, three states “restricted” marriage to a man and a woman, one banned non-married couples from adopting.  Two more states defeated restrictions on abortion rights, and nationally the first black president was elected.

Very much a mixed message.  So don’t go celebrating yet, world.  There’s a lot of work to do.

Geek

XKCD captures the post-election moment perfectly

This will be a really short post but I wanted to share this comic with you courtesy of XKCD.  Now that the election is finally over, and our man Barack is in charge, what will we do next?

read more »

Politics

Officials foil ‘plot’ to kill Obama

In what is basically breaking news, law enforcement officials in the US have “broken” a plot to kill Barack Obama.

The plot itself does lack some credibility, but I’m happy that the security officials took it so seriously.  In essence, this is what transpired:

Two neonazi skinhead douchebags (one of them pictured on the left) met on the internet, decided they needed to kill some people.  These idiots hatched a plan to murder 102 people by attacking a primarily black school.  Then, they would drive at Obama really fast and try shooting at him from the windows of their car.  Oh, and the whole time they’d be dressed in white suits with white tophats.

It sounds like something out of a movie, right?  Wrong.   This was actually their plan.  In fact, they were aware of its flaws and intended on dying during the ‘mission.’  This was, in essentially, a suicide mission.  The worry is that this really does highlight the underlying racial tension that is present during this electoral campaign.

Personally, I think that these two idiots are not representative of anyone.  They’re extremists, plain and simple, and deserve punishment.

[Source: The Guardian]

Music Politics

Why Ludacris should stay out of politics

So Luda, like a lot of hip hop artists, supports Obama.  Unfortunately, his efforts to produce a pro-Obama song haven’t really worked that well.

First of all, Obama rejected the song because it was too contraversial.  That’s a smart move on his part because the right-wing has really capitalized on it.

The lyrics are typically bombastic, but there are some seriously bad judgment errors.  For example, in the track Ludacris called Hillary Clinton a bitch.  Not the best move to keep the party united, so it’s no wonder Obama had to distance himself really quickly.

If anything, he’s doing way more harm than good.  He should live the political arena alone, or at least pull a Puffy and focus on trying to get youth out to vote.  No one needs to hear Luda’s opinions, but he can still be a positive force.

You can actually listen to it below.

[Source: LA Times]

Featured Politics

Tsvingrai pulls out of Zim. Presidential race

4080 Records is no stranger to the Zimbabwe controversy.  We’ve been reporting on the developments there for quite some time now, and it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Morgan Tsvingrai has pulled out of the Presidential Race.

Ever since he narrowly won the election a few months ago, there has been major speculation about what the “run-off” between Tsvingrai and Robert Mugabe would be like.  Pretty much everyone has reported that there is a better chance of Mike Jones winning a grammy than of this election being free and fair.

There has been a steadily growing campaign of violence against supporters of Tsvingrai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).  Mugabe has been blaming this on Tsvingrai, somehow claiming that he’s doing this to make Mugabe look bad.  Looking beyond the amusing denials of a senile old man, it is a definite tragedy that this is continuing.  70 MDC supporters have been killed so far, and many more have been detained or beaten.  A major opposition figure is even currently charged with treason, which could ultimately result in the death penalty.

Mugabe has pulled out all the stops, even getting the police to ban opposition rallies.  Somehow, the Zimbabwe court system overturned this ban and gave the opposition permission to hold their rally and campaign.  But the MDC rally was blocked.  This is apparently what caused Tsvingrai to finally pull out.

Here’s what he says:

“Conditions as of today do not permit the holding of a credible poll,” Mr. Tsvangirai told a hastily arranged news conference in Harare.

“We can’t ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives. We will no longer participate in this violent sham of an election.”

It’s true that the people of Zimbabwe (who are suffering insanely under the rule of Mugabe) were brave in voting against him in the first poll.  In a society that is as tightly controlled as Zim, it will be dangerous for them to try and vote against him again, unless the world pays closer attention.

It is majorly the fault of the neighbouring nations, especially South Africa.  It is with their support that Mugabe is able to continue his reign.  In recent weeks, more and more leaders have begun to turn against Mugabe, except for Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa.  If he doesn’t add his voice to the calls for Mugabe to step down, then Mugabe will likely continue his rule for a few years to come.

By not contesting this run-off, Tsvingrai will have handed a default victory to Mugabe.  He’s forfeiting, essentially.

It’s a sad day for Zim, and hopefully the world will take notice.

[Source: Globe and Mail]

Politics

New Black Panther Party’s hip-hop ambassador

The chairman of the New Black Panther Party‘s Boston Chapter is a rapper named Jamarhl Crawford (a.k.a. UNO the Prophet).  Besides being the leader of a chapter of a controversial black supremacist organization, Crawford also seems to take aim at conscious rappers.

“I’m respected because I’m not one of these conscious rappers who you can’t find a revolutionary part of,” Crawford said. “If the only thing you’ve contributed to the revolution is a poem or a rhyme, then you’re not a revolutionary, you’re just a poet or an MC.”

He actually seems to think that being revolutionary is somehow more important than being an artist.  That’s not to say he hasn’t done some really good work.  He’s currently organizing a peace march in Boston, which I applaud him for.  He also says this:

“Every single song I’ve ever released has, in whole or in part, been about beheading this beast,” he said of his battle against what he considers an oppressive economic and political system.

Sure.

[Souce: Boston Herald]

Politics

Gore backs Obama

Al Gore has come out in support of the Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

After Bill Clinton’s repeated meltdowns during the primary season, Gore is probably now the most respected Democrat in the party.  Many still see him as having won the 2000 election, and now that he won a Nobel Prize he’s doing pretty well for himself.

This is only major news because Gore stayed neutral on purpose during the whole Democratic primary.

The former vice president turned Nobel Prize winner playfully said he recalled one Republican nominee wondering out loud whether his Democratic rival for president was “naive and inexperienced.”

“And yet another said the United States cannot afford to risk the future of the free world with inexperience and immaturity in the White House,” said Gore. “Who were they talking about? Every single one of those quotes came from the campaign of 1960, when the the Republicans attacked John Fitzgerald Kennedy for allegedly lacking the age and experience necessary to be president.”

I think it’s funny that the first statement he made was going back to the whole JFK comparisons that have been all over this campaign.

What’s amusing is that the Republican’s big comeback is that Sen. Lieberman (the other half of Gore’s 2000 ticket) has endorsed McCain a while ago, and Gore’s only now coming out in support of Obama.

[Source: CNN]