Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking Down The Code Words

This in politics I have heard a lot of different things out there that are meant to confuse people. This is especially true when it comes to politics. The politicians are using words that they think the general public can not readily identify. So I decided to breakdown some of the codes I have been hearing from some of our leaders just in case you didn't know what you were hearing.

Entitlement programs
Republicans in the House and Senate have talked about cutting entitlement programs. They feel like these programs will help relieve some pressure on our national budget. The truth is that cuts to these programs would help with the budget crisis because they make up around 50% of the federal budget. The problem is that politicians don't explain what these programs actually include. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all entitlement programs. Could you image what the backlash would be if you told senior citizens that you want to cut their social security and medicare benefits. Especially since there are programs that we pay for individually out of our pay checks with the understanding that the money will be there when we get older. Other major programs include Veterans' Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs. Sounds like pretty important stuff and also I don't think that you want to cut any of these benefits anytime soon. A few that come under attack are unemployment and food stamps because of the stigma's around the programs. The problem is that these are some of the smallest programs that come under this category.

Earmarks / Pork Barrell Spending
Both the Democrat and Republican politicians love to say how we need to get rid of earmarks. They talk about how it will help out with out budget and spending bills. The truth is that no politician wants to get rid of these because they all use them. What are they you ask?
An Earmark is a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. The pork reference alludes to that these spending exceptions are fat that have been tacked on to bills. Some things that they will not tell are that almost every spending bill in Congress contains earmarks because all politicians use them. Either for the projects in their district or allowing them to happen to get a vote from one of their colleagues. Also there earmarks make up a very small part of the federal budget and almost unnoticeable.

Have to love Honest Racism
Grady Warren is a self professed Tea Party member who wants to be president. The problem with Grady is that he is an unapologetic racist. I find him hilarius and kind of cute. He shows that we still have a long way to go in race relations.

Grady himself is not dangerous but his attitude is part of a growing trend in this country. It is slowly becoming okay to be racist again. This means that these people will not only spread this garbage to a larger audience but also to their children who will carry on this stupidity.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Hope William and Kate Elope

The coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has gotten to the point that it is disturbing me. The coverage of this wedding has gotten out of hand in the United States of America. I could see the coverage being this out of control because this is their monarchy but we have more engaging things to talk about in our own wonderful nation that we don't have to obsess over a wedding. It doesn't even bother me that the entertainment channels and news organizations are pushing hard because that is what they do but major reputable news stations such as CNN, Fox news and MSNBC should not be devoting large portions of their real news time to a wedding for over 2 weeks. I am to the point that I wish these 2 young people would elope and ruin all of this stupid coverage for these news outlets.
There are no 2 people that are this important that their wedding should be followed for over 2 weeks for hours on end on every channel possible. I hope these two young people live a long fulfilling life together but I don't need to hear about every second of it. This also shows me that the media and paparazzi have absolutely no shame whatsoever. After the way the paparazzi stalked this young mans mother to the point they are responsible for her death you would think that some kind of human instinct would kick in and say that we should not stalk this kid the same way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Don't Hate Tyler Perry, I Just Don't Like Him

This week Tyler Perry is releasing "Madea's Big Happy Family". With the release of the movie this week Perry has been doing some press and decided to respond to some 2 year old comments by Spike Lee saying that Perry’s films resorted to negative stereotypes of African-Americans. Now I do think that Tyler does make movies that are not helpful to the black community but I do think that his intentions do come from a good place. He tries to attack social issues and instead bringing awareness to them he creates a divisiveness effect within the black community. He the right to make movies and just like Soulja Boy in rap everybody has a place. I guess brother Tyler had enough of not only what Spike had to say but what a lot of black people are saying.
His words actually were "I'm so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee," Perry said during the press conference (via Box Office Magazine). "Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, 'this is a coon, this is a buffoon.' I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: 'you vote by what you see,' as if black people don't know what they want to see." The funny thing about was that nobody ever actually asked him about Spike Lee at this particular time, Mr. Perry just kind of snapped off. Yes your audience does vote with their ticket receipt and does have right to enjoy your movies but others do have the right to point out that fact that you make horrible movies. When I am say horrible I am not just attacking the subject matter but the way the movies are shot and produced. It is kind of ironic him going to hard to defend his audience when he insults them himself by putting out bad products. Also his belief that he has to put out dumb down product so it will relate to his audience.
Maybe the craziest quotes from this particular interview were when he says that "Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois went through the exact same thing; Langston Hughes said that Zora Neale Hurston, the woman who wrote 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' was a new version of the 'darkie' because she spoke in a southern dialect and a Southern tone," Perry offered. "And I'm sick of it from us; we don't have to worry about anybody else trying to destroy us and take shots because we do it to ourselves." Let's not get ahead ourselves nothing that you are doing Tyler compares to the work that this individuals produced and has no where near the intellectual content. If you are comparing Madea to the Souls of Black Folk, I am going to have to ask you to submit to a drug test.
Lets not play the black hating on other blacks angle that comes out from those just don't produce good products. I can name 3 black directors that put out very good products such as F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen), Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun, Brooklyn's Finest) and John Singleton (Boyz N The Hood). Unfortunately the perception is that the black director in Hollywood to have is Tyler Perry.

The Misuse of The Black Church Audience

Tyler Perry movies are made to target the support of the black church. As one pastor can be quoted "Tyler will always try to work God into his movies". That maybe true but that is like the guy who can't sing at Apollo doing a gospel song. The crowd knows that the guy sucks but they don't boo because they feel like they are booing God. Just because you are marketing to an under served segment of society does not give you right to give them sub par work. The black church is the most faithful audience in the world and loves to take care of what they feel is their own. In return Perry gives this audience simplistic characters that are either demons or angels with no depth. He also provides them with almost an identical plot line for most of his movies.

The Hollywood System
This one isnt Perry's fault he is just a part of it and almost a victim of what I call the Hollywood system. The major film industry has always taken a one at a time kind of approach towards black cinema. What do I mean either they are only letting one type of movie with a predominately black cast out with in a certain time period. Remember the era where all black movies starred gangsta rappers who sold drugs in a shoot em up type flick. Then there was the middle class urban professional movie that always ending in a wedding and starred Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut types. Now we are in the black cross dresser era see Madea and Big Momma's house. A big part of that does rest on us the audience by not supporting other types of movies when they come out and keep buy tickets to sub standard movies.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Funny Stuff I have seen

As I was cruising through the news stories for this week I came across a few were particularly interesting. We have a few scandals and an 8 year old getting pepper sprayed just to let you know how crazy things are nowadays.

They Caught Another One

This week Republican Senator John Ensign announces his resignation. The Senator from Nevada is the subject of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Ensign contends that he has done nothing wrong and does not want to bring any more negative attention to his family. The investigation centers around an alleged affair that Ensign was having with the wife of his former top aide Doug Hampton. The Senator will send a letter to Vice President Joe Biden on Friday stating that his resignation from office will be effective on May 3, 2011. Ensign, 52announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection to a third term in 2012.
In 2009, the senator admitted to the extramarital affair with the wife of his former top aide. The problem comes with that soon following the revelations that Ensign's parents paid the Hamptons $96,000, and that the senator helped Doug Hampton find a lobbying job.
Where I think that this story in interesting is that Ensign was one of the good old family values politicians. In 1998 while running for Senate he was one of the leading voices requesting that President Clinton resign after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. This was not his last big stance either as Mr Ensign stated back in 2004 that he would support an amendment to the Constitution that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Ensign said the amendment, which ultimately failed, was necessary to protect “the institution of marriage“. That one always kinds of gets me because I will never understand how allowing gays to get married would effect their marriage. What destroys that institution of marriage is cheating on your wife. He was not done with his self righteous judging of people because September 2007 he called for the resignation of Sen. Larry Craig when he got caught up with trying to solicit sex from a man in an airport restroom. Ensign called Craig a “disgrace” after he was arrested in June 2007. Yet the junior senator from Nevada would not have resigned if not for the upcoming Senate investigation into his actions. The is typical of politicians and others in our society who sit back and judge other mistakes and are quick to condemn them to hell. We have to remember that all of us make mistakes in this life that we live. The key is to learn from them and not repeat them. We have to be careful on how we judge our fellow brothers and sister before our self righteous chickens come home to roost.

Articles on Issue-

Do We Really Have to Pepper Spray 8 year olds In other general craziness, police in Colorado felt that they had to pepper spray an 8 year old kid that nobody could control. Apparently police were called to the school after Aidan Elliot had just thrown some chairs and a TV and was trying to use a cart to bust through a door in a office where teachers where trying to protect themselves and other students. The young boy was found with a piece of wood with a knife like point that he was threatening to stab his teachers with. The police decide to pepper spray Aidan when they could not calm him down. The youngster was savvy enough to block the first spray with a piece of cardboard. So the cops hit him with another spray which too the little boy down. After this incident Aidan's mother went on the national TV circuit saying that pepper spraying an 8 year old was too much. I will agree with her but she needs to figure out what wrong with her crazy 8 year old. Not only that if you see the interview below the young boy admitted that he was trying to hurt these adults in front of the interviewer and his mother. She should have been trying to correct him and that behavior right there.
I pretty much think everyone involved overracted to the situation and the police should have never been called in the first place. There is no 8 year old bad enough to scare me into a backroom somewhere. Sure you are thinking well he had a sharp object that he could have stabbed them with. That came after he was throwing chairs and a TV, couldnt somebody had grabbed him at this point. I would have taken the bad press for kicking an 8 year old in chest rather than the bad press from having to call the police. Between 2 teachers somebody could have grabbed the little kid. Not sure what the laws are in Colorado but I am sure it does allow for some drastic measures to be taken in an emergency situation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Civil War Week Anniversary

The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

One of the big topics of discussion out there last week was the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Well it would irresponsible to have a social studies blog that didn't talk about one of if the most important event in our history. The ramifications of the Slavery and the Civil War still have a major effect on how we interact as a society today. It was and still is the bloodiest conflict to ever involve the United States.

Studying the Civil War at schools in both the North and the South I find that there are very different views today on what really happened. Both sides appear to have a very idealistic view of their position and still blame the other for alot of what happened. So I figured I would take this blog time to talk a little about whats real in the the Civil War. Some people think that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. It was one of the causes not the cause of the war.

Viewpoint vs Reality

Both sides of the war believed that they were right and fighting for a noble cause and had to stop the others evil. In this section I will breakdown the perception each party wanted to convey and what is actually closer to the truth.

The Noble North- The Northern cause is sold as the noble federal government who was just trying to keep the United States intact. Everything that the North did was for the purpose of ending slavery and perserving the Union.

Civil War Myth / The Emanicpation Proclamation Freed the Slaves

During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln issued a document known as the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So We are shaving Points in San Diego

The University of San Diego basketball program has come under a federal investigation for being apart of a point shaving and marijuana distribution scandal. In all 10 people have been charged in this scandal. Some of the accused include the school's all time leading scorer Brandon Johnson who is now playing in the NBA D-League, former player Brandon Dowdy and former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown. What is point shaving? By definition it is the illegal practice of deliberately limiting the number of points scored by one's team in an athletic contest, as in return for a payment from gamblers to ensure winnings.

Some of you maybe wondering why I am talking about what appears to be a sports story on my social studies blog. Well I first of all sports tend to have in incredible impact on the interaction of our society that most sports stories can be viewed from a sociological perspective. Also this story involves a lot social science, there is government/civics, economics and psychology all at work with this multifaceted situation.

The NCAA plans to do its own investigation into the allegations that have been levied but they want to wait until the FBI finishes their work. All the people involved are charged with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conducting an illegal gambling business and distributing marijuana. Eight out of the 10 accused charged have plead not guilty in federal court. Once the federal government gets involved it goes without saying that we are in some serious territory.

History of Point Shaving
Point shaving scandals are not new in college sports especially in basketball. Basketball maybe the easiest sport to fix because you need the least amount of people to pull it off. Other sports have too many variable actors to try to control the line of a game. This goes back as far as the 1950's when players from NCAA champion CCNY, University of Kentucky and other schools in that years tourney had accepted money from gamblers to fix the outcome of the tourney. This was in 50s when the money was a lot less than what it is now in college sports.
One of the biggest scandals of all time happened at Arizona State University with their basketball program in the 1990s which resulted in the mastermind Benny Silman receiving a 46 month prison sentence.

The NCAA has taken steps to try to get a grasp on the situation by developing relationships with people in Las Vegas who contact them when unusual betting patterns occur. Which is good but they need to get a deeper understanding of the situation. Watching line movements is okay but guess what NCAA? Point shaving does not usually involve line movements it involves making sure the line stays where it is or finishes above or below the line. The key is monitor how many times a school finishes above or below the line and what are the odds on those games. That's just my amateur gamblers opinion.

The Money Involved
The reason why point shaving scandals happen because there is so much money involved in college sports from so many different angles. College sports is a multi billion dollar business that are tied to universities that have millions passing through. Some where an underground economy is going to develop. You have players who are not making any money and not allowed to get jobs its not hard to influence them with cash. Especially those who may not be potential professionals. The kids do see all the money is being made off college sports and want a piece of the action. You would think that a school like San Diego may not have a gambling issue but they are a perfect target. Their all time leading scorer is playing in the NBA D League making a few hundred bucks a week to him the point shaving may have been worth the risk. Kids at schools like Ohio State may not think that the risk is worth it and they are getting money already quiet as kept. If you google Vegas Lines, or College Gambling you will see more web pages than you can imagine. Also if you look in your local sports page it has the lines for all the games for that day even though in most states sports gambling is illegal. The only problem with this is that it can become a dangerous situation because people who fix games are not strangers to criminal behavior. These college kids get exposed to some very dangerous individuals who may harm them once they get in too deep and want to get out.

The Institutions
In a situation like this all the institutions involved are scrambling to protect themselves. The NCAA and University of San Diego both have to protect the integrity of basketball and make people believe that this was an isolated incident. Hopefully they are also trying to find ways to protect the kids from the gamblers and the problems associated with them.

Articles about this story
NY Times Article

Washington Post Article

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hey Crazy World

Hello family, I know the blog has been down a for a minute but I have been busy making some changes to bring a more dynamic and interesting experience to Social Studies with Keith. Also I would like to announce that there will be a podcast associated with this blog. The podcast will be called Social Studying with Keith and it will be the podomatic web page. I have provided a link at the bottom of this post.

In the news there has been some craziness going on and I decided to use this time to chime in on some hot button topics.

So You Want to get rid of Planned Parenthood If you have been keeping up with federal budget problems you know that the Republicans believe that the government should make a lot of cuts to social programs that actually do a lot to serve their local communities. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the debate about the national budget is hung up on one detail alone: public funding for Planned Parenthood. Republicans argue they do not want funding to go to Planned Parenthood, which offers abortions as one of its services. Now before I go on my rant let me say that I am not a passionate pro life or pro choice person. I am just a person who tries to see things from all angles.
Here is what Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the people trying to score of the pro life movement wont tell you. That less than 2% of the Planned Parenthood budget goes to abortion services. You are not really worried about all the counseling services that they give or low cost health care Planned Parenthood provides to under served areas. For all of you supposed to be Christian groups, do you really think that Christ would not want to help an organization that wants to help the poor and underprivileged that would not otherwise have access to such services. Or is there some upper middle class Bible that I don't have access to reading.

If you think that Glenn Beck is Gone you are mistaken So Glenn Beck has announced that he is leaving his Fox News program sometime this year. Liberal around the country are rejoicing, believing that some kind of victory has been scored. Trust me Glenn Beck will not be gone for long. He will be back spreading his brand of crazy sooner than later. First of all Fox and Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts, said Wednesday they will stay in business creating other projects for Fox television and digital, starting with some documentaries Beck is preparing. Not to mention he has delivered a definite date that he will be gone.
Beck is not leaving a because of any pressure except from the higher ups at Fox News who are scared that he is going even too far for them. The was show was losing sponsors which is the honey for TV and radio shows. when you have 400 Fox advertisers telling the company they did not want their commercials on Beck's show. His ratings were slipping especially among younger viewers that are convented by advertisers. It was fine when he was going after Obama and other Democrats but him putting Republicans on the hot seat is going too far for Fox News. He is a loose cannon and nobody can control a loose cannon. Fox News will still need him for the election season to stir up the Tea Partiers and extreme Right Wing so be on the look out. Our buddy Glenn wont be too far out of reach.

Donald Trump is a another cartoon character
So Donald Trump thinks that he could be President of the United States. Trust me even the Donald is not that delusional to believe he can win, he is just trying to drum up more publicity for his TV show. He is not a real person, much like Glenn Beck the Donald is a real life cartoon character. What disturbs me is that he is picking up supporters. Polls show that the billionaire reality star's popularity has been on the rise as he's taken up the so-called "birther" cause. That is making me question the intelligence of alot you all. If you are even considering casting a ballot take this into account he has no background whatsoever in politics. He also has a nice track record with failure. If you remember the United States Football League (USFL) it was a flourishing football league until Trump got involved. Not to mention his bouts with bankruptcy. After watching his interview with Bill Oreilly I really dont understand how any one could vote for Mr. Trump. Bill even tried to let Donald off the hook of some of his stupid comments but in true Trump fashion he kept rolling with them.

"Intelligence plus character is the true meaning of education." - MLK

Web Address for the Podcast