Should We Feel Bad for Charles Rangel? Immortal Technique, Rosa Clemente & Rep Barbara Lee Weigh In

Charles Rangel

Yesterday many of us saw how long time Congressman Charles Rangel and former chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee stand on the floor of Congress and get censured. This came on the heels of him recently being found in violation of 11 house ethic rules in a 9-1 vote by the House ethics committee members. Being censured was the strongest punishment aside from expulsion that could be applied a man who served Harlem for over 40 years.

In recent years especially after President Obama got elected many have  seen, felt and experienced the effects of what is often described as a highly racially charged climate. Hence  to see a Black man who was arguably one of the most powerful men in the country and definitely congress be reduced in such a public way was more than bothersome. Adding to Rangel’s censuring is the fact that 8 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus including long time congresswoman Maxine Waters are being investigated or also facing a hearings on ethic violations. One can’t help but think that Black elected officials are being targeted and hence the wagons must be circled.

Many of us including myself immediately thought of elected officials who have done far worse and haven’t gotten as much as a slap on the wrist. The violations range from Congressman Joe Wilson shouting at the president during the state of the union to former vice president Dick Cheney shooting his  friend Harry Whittington in the face and then being accused of trying to cover things up.  Years later we come to find out that Cheney didn’t even apologize. We think about those elected officials who were negligence behind the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe or those who deliberately misled  us into to war and one can only ask why aren’t the people behind those transgressions being censured?

Long time Harlem resident Immortal Technique said we should not feel bad for Charles Rangel

I’ll be the first to say a guy like Rangel has been no angel and his tenure as Congressman has drawn mixed response.One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that his 40 years of services means enough people from what was known as the Black Mecca liked him enough to keep sending him back.

However longtime Harlem residents like rapper Immortal Technique have publicly stated that one should not feel bad for Rangel and the punishment he’ll be getting because he sold Harlem out a long time ago. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this critique from residents who feel like as Harlem has been massively gentrified with lots of poor folks having been literally kicked out withRangel leading the charge.

Just as word came down that there would be no leniency as requested shown for Congressman Rangel. I posed the question on my twitter feed and Face book Page as to how Harlem residents felt?  Did they think it was unfair Congressman Rangel was being censured?

I made the comparison between his ethic violations and the transgressions of others.. Very few came to his aid on my often overtly opinionated timeline which includes many people from my former uptown stomping grounds of Harlem.

Rosa Clemente goes in on Charles Rangel

Long time activist, journalist and former Green Party Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente weighed in and gave us all serious food for thought …It was in response to this statement I made..

Dick Cheney can shoot a man in the face and not apologize and he’s good but Charles Rangel misuses some stationary-gets censored

Rosa responded:

Well Charles Rengal did not just do that..the man has three rent stabilized apartments in Harlem, where half the population is poverty poor. You can’t use Dick Cheney as an excuse. Rengal deserves to be censured, as most of those cats do.. The problem is particularly black men in politics think they can act like white men.. History shows that never works, but being from NYC him and 90% of all Black and Brown politicians need to go. They are rich ass millionaires pimping our communities….You do not get a pass cause your Black.  How many brothers right now living in Rangel’s district are being stopped, frisked and arrested for a nickel bag or for other petty crime. I bet they  wish all they were getting was a tongue lashing

Rosa’s sentiments resonated with a lot of folks who feel that far too many officials are disconnected from the communities they serve and that when they get into office they start catering to big money interests and not the people who voted them in.. After 40 years did Rengal lose his way? Should he have been extra careful in such a hostile climate or was he unfairly being made an example? The fact that all he is getting is censured versus jail time is something we might also keep in mind, but does that reflect badly on Harlem or us as Black folks?

Here’s what Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus had to say on the matter.She issued a statement that read as follows..

“Today’s vote by the House of Representatives to censure Congressman Rangel was an overly harsh sanction, especially considering that after a 2-year investigation the Committee found no evidence of corruption or personal financial gain. Under House precedents, a reprimand would have been a fairer sanction for the lapses that he has long since admitted and corrected.

“The censure sanction is a departure from the customary sanctions in other cases that have been adjudicated over the years. According to the Committee’s counsel, Congressman Rangel’s misconduct resulted from overzealousness and sloppiness, not corruption.

“Today’s action in no way diminishes Congressman Rangel’s distinguished 50-year history of service to his country and constituents who again overwhelmingly returned him to office in November. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are proud to call Congressman Rangel our colleague and friend.”

Something to Ponder

Davey D

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What’s the Real Story Behind Home Land Security Shutting Down Hip Hop Websites?

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday something very disturbing took place… Homeland Security along with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) , the Department of Justice and the National Intellectual Property Rights Co-ordinating Center seized over 80 websites including popular Hip Hop websites RapGodfathers.com, dajaz1.com and Onsmash.com. These Hip Hop sites were accused of copyright violations, which is crazy, because their popularity rested in the fact that they mostly worked with artists to promote their work and help establish a buzz.

Was there anything on those sites in violation of copyright law?  The nature of any music site as robust as the ones mentioned, is you will inevitably find material. It might come in the form of someone posting a song on a message board or a video clip from a concert. It might be a link to a third-party site where folks can download a song, which was the case with the aforementioned sites. My experience over the years has been oftentimes its the artists themselves coming to sites asking for their material to be posted while the labels which also own part of the copyright objects.

In most cases if a site wasn’t blowing things up too much, most industry folks didn’t trip. in talking with label heads they note  that in most cases if a song or material was being highlighted prematurely or jeopardizing upcoming promotions a letter, email would be sent out or a phone call made asking for the files or links to be removed. Most sites comply without too much fanfare. It’s the way things have been done for years. It’s the symbiotic relationship that has long existed with record labels and media.

It’s important to note this practice of labels asking media outlets to stop playing or highlighting material has been around long before the internet. Working at a major radio station and several large music outlets, the name of the game  was for us to get material way ahead of its release date. Sometimes we managed to get a hold of a ‘press copy’ of a song given to magazines months in advance. Other times it was someone inside the label ‘leaking us a song’ which we would play for a couple of days only to get a letter from the record labels lawyers ordering us to cease and decease playing their material. Many of these stations including ours would post those letters up on the wall and even frame them. It was a source of pride and demonstrated your ability to have impact.

Granted the internet and us being in a digital world has allowed for unlimited copies of material to be distributed and there has definitely been rough patches with digital media and record labels, but at the end of the day all this boils down to relationships and the rule of thumb has been-know the people who run the sites and ask them to remove anything that was causing problems.

All these popular music sites were seized w/o warning

In the case of these Hip Hop sites, no warning was given. Not only that, but the entire websites were seized. In some cases we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of message board postings, articles etc. This wasn’t a shut down of a website. It was the shut down of a community and no matter how one feels about copyright law and how vigorously it should be enforced shut downs without due process should be disturbing to every last one of us.

What should be even more disturbing is how those shut downs took place. Who in Homeland Security was up on Onsmash.com enough to sit down and make a sound decision to shut down the site and seize its domain? How did they know the sites were in violation of any copyright? Was it the word of copyright owner? Did DHS check to get the other side of the story? Did the owners get arrested? Had they been fined or in trouble for any of this in the past?

Let me paint out a couple of scenarios that folks should consider before people start puffing out their chest and acting all righteous about websites breaking the law. First as mentioned earlier take down notices should be given thus allowing one the opportunity to straighten anything out. Thats first and foremost.

Second, oftentimes you have artists and even promotional folks at labels that will come along and give you material and a greenlight.  I could show you at least half a dozen emails that I’ve gotten in the past two weeks with folks asking how I can get material on my site. two have offered to pay. What many of us who do this work have discovered is that what the promo guys and the artists want may not always be in lockstep with what the lawyers or the trade organization for major labels (note I said labels not artists-remember that) the RIAA is pushing. The relationship with the artists and labels are fluid and informal while the relationship with the RIAA and lawyers for the label may be strictly by the book and to the letter of the law. One often has no idea what the other is doing. End game mass confusion.

The RIAA has railed against copyright infringement before there was an internet. They were mad about cassette tapes, then DATs, then CDS and now the web. This powerful lobbying group has always been a presence up on Capital Hill pushing for laws that would protect the interests and intellectual property rights of MAJOR record labels.  They definitely been up on the hill pushing and many say help right some of these new copyright laws, which leaves one wondering are they pointing out offending websites to Homeland Security?

That’s not a far-fetched notion and should have all concerned. Corporations sitting along side law enforcement to protect whose interest? All of our interests or just theirs?  Are the police and law enforcement following the dictates of corporations at everyone else’s expense. At the end of the day that’s called Fascism.

days after this photo was taken, editor Jason Chen got a vist from REACT

We saw blatant display of this earlier this year when a task force consisting of several police agencies called (REACT)  California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team went banging on the door of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen entered his house and took his computers to see if he was behind the leaking of Apple’s next-gen i-phones. The task force claimed they were investigating to see if a law was violated.

Initially some clapped and felt the police were doing their job, until it was discovered that Apple sat on the board that oversaw the new task force that took Chen’s computers. Did the police do this because of Apple’s initial complaints or because they sat on the board?

Fast forward to a troubling news story a few weeks ago here in the Bay Area where a young man had a computer stolen from his office. He had a tracking chip inside that took a picture of the thief, however local police did not immediately follow-up with an investigation. The man resorted to taking his story to local news stations and even then there was no action. Talk about an imbalance of power and influence.

We did an interview earlier this week with Peter Eackersly of Electronic Frontier Foundation which has been in the forefront of protecting internet freedoms. He noted that what took place was far reaching and will continue to be so, because now the US is shutting down sites overseas. he also noted that what took place here without due process appeared to be the first step in the government with the assistance of corporate interests seeing how far they can go before they get push back.

While following these cases keep a close eye on the types of steps and reaches made around the Wikileak saga. Whatever the government is allowed to get away with is gonna set a precedent. Thus far we’ve seen shut down attacks  and seizures take place. Even more disturbing has been American companies like Amazon taking down the Wikileak cables. They officially say it was because of terms of service violations, but most experts are noting they got pressured.

Senator Joe Lieberman has been threatening websites without due process

To show you just how far the government is going, look what Senator Joe Lieberman just did. He threatened a Seattle-based company called Tableau to take down information that was legal and not classified, but reported on and issued charts about who and what countries were discussing Wikileaks.. His actions prompted a scorching response from commentator Glenn Greenwald.

“Those are the benign, purely legal documents that have now been removed from the Internet in response to Joe Lieberman’s demands and implied threats. He’s on some kind of warped mission where he’s literally running around single-handedly dictating what political content can and cannot be on the Internet, issuing broad-based threats to ‘all companies’ that is causing suppression of political information.”

You can read the story HERE

Today its Wikileaks being taken down which one might accept it because arguments can made about sensitive material being revealed and national security at stake could be argued. But what happens tomorrow when its you or me, because we represent competition or hold political beliefs that aren’t agreed upon? What happens when its you or me and the justification is that we’ve always allowed government to take down websites without a day and court, why complain now?

During our interview with Eackersly he noted that it was important for artists and others in the Hip Hop community to stand up, be aware of what transpired and come to the aid of those Hip Hop websites and communities that were shut down especially if they meant something to you.

After our interview Eackersly wanted to know the type of support the seized websites were getting. In his mind, he knew such large outlets would have throngs of artists ready to go to war for them. I think he was a bit surprised to see that more of us were talking about Lil Kim vs Nicki Minaj then the undue processed seizure of music websites. Even sadder is that many have callousesly moved onto other sites as if the shut downs of Onsmash and RapGodfathers was no big deal and was just another day in the life. Mark my words not understanding this and being dismissive will come back to haunt folks.

Understand this.. the seizure of websites without due process, corporate interests lobbying and then writing laws that allow them to be the police and t personally enforce, the battle over net neutrality is all about concentrating power in the hands of a few. This is about controlling the flow of information and being a gate keeper in the communications arena. Its the first step in moving a democracy toward a dictatorship. The next step is getting a population to endure fianacial upheavels and hardships.

The internet was the most democratizing tool we’ve had in a long time and now those who hate having to share and be accountable are trying to shut things down.It’s a power grab of the highest order. Don’t ever get used to being oppressed..It’ll be your undoing for years to come..Stay alert be ready, because they coming for you next.

You can peep the full interview we did on Hard Knock Radio with Peter Eackersly of EFF right HERE

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/81785/

Also be sure to peep this excellent article on alternet about this topic..Here Comes the Homeland Security Internet Police

Lastly after printing this I just got wind of a story Democracy Now just ran…

State Dept. Bars Staffers from WikiLeaks, Warns Students

The U.S. State Department has imposed an order barring employees from reading the leaked WikiLeaks cables. State Department staffers have been told not to read cables because they were classified and subject to security clearances. The State Department’s WikiLeaks censorship has even been extended to university students. An email to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs says: “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.”

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Our Interview w/ the Legendary DJ Premier of Gang Starr

Davey D interviews the legendary Dj Premiere at RTB 2010 Bay Area for hip-hop.com. They discuss what it takes to be a dj, the passing of longtime former partner Guru. We talk about the special tributes held for Guru after his death. We talk about DJ Premiere’s hip-hop beginnings starting in Houston, Texas and culminating in NY. Most importantly we talk about the art of producing.. We discuss at length some of Premiers favorite producers..You’ll never guess who he’s included in his list.

http://vimeo.com/16644299

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