Thoughts on State of the Union: Great Speech, Great ACT-Key Word ‘Act’

Thoughts on President Obama’s State of the Union address last night?

It was a great campaign speech. It took me back for a moment to 2008 when all the euphoria and desire for hope and change kicked in..

Was it a lot of hot air?

At the end of the day it was..

Am I mad at him for delivering it?

No.. I’m not

In thinking about Obama’s speech I was reminded of a conversation I had last summer with rap artist KRS-One. He said people need to be get one thing clear when dealing with President Obama; ‘He’s not your man.. He’s not your homeboy. He’s the president’, KRS said.

He’s not your buddy he’s the commander and chief, and as President he will do what they all do… protect and manage this system as corrupt as it is.

KRS added it was important to not project too many things on him and get too emotionally attached. He urged us to see him as he is and move accordingly. In short make sure your interests are protected… KRS was on point..

It was clear last night with all the flowery rhetoric, President Obama was concerned about one thing… getting himself into political position to be re-elected. That’s his agenda. That’s his interest. As former Vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente pointed out in our round table interview the other day, ‘President Obama’s job was to make a good speech to make everyone feel better even as things are progressively getting worse for many’.

His job is to prop us up. keep the proverbial natives from being restless and run some more game that takes us further down the hole. That’s his goal. What’s ours?

My goal is to figure out how to make rent. My goal is to figure out how to pay this whooping 900 dollar electric bill which is the result of these new fangled smart meters and 2 weeks of bitter cold weather during from last month.

My goal is to figure out how I can avoid paying 39 dollar late fees to a bank that absolutely refuses to change my due date to the end of the month when I do a get a pay check that has been slashed 20% and may have to take another hit.

Wells Fargo was one of those bailed out banks who got their chance to rebound, and then turned right around and smashed on their customers who are seeking to get back on their feet. We won’t even talk about the credit game these institutions are running. Pay late, get bad credit. Get bad credit, no job or stay stuck in the one you got until you can repair your credit, which is constantly being upended by fees, fees and more fees. Thats the battle millions of us our waging. That wasn’t talked about last night during the State of the Union.

My goal is to get away from this sort of madness. My goal is to escape this indentured servitude and to no longer be a sharecropper to a bank, gas company or some other entity that is ‘air-lining’ (charging all sorts of fees) me to death.

My goal is to see what can be done to make sure my neighbor who owned her spot for 30 years doesn’t lose it because she had to refinance a few years ago to send her only child to a college that was charging more than most homes cost. When all was said and done her situation was upside down…Her husband died suddenly, money got funny and the next thing you know a bailed out bank is at her door talking about her home is now owned by them.  Was she able to get bailed out by one who was bailed out? Hell naw. It’s hard watching an elder in our community who struggled for years to make sure we get our civil rights lose out in the end.  It’s almost like it was payback from a system that is resentful and refuses to change.

Again, such stories are not unusual. They’re typical for far too many who live in my world and sadly it’s not something that was or would ever be addressed in any real way during the State of the Union.

Nope President Obama while he may bear some resemblance to the Black men in my neighborhood with his beautiful wife and kids at the end of the day is not my man. When I don’t hear him pushing for policies that are designed to clear a path to serious economic relief, then this point is underscored even more.

It was frustrating to watch him  stand before us and tell us about how we can all go on-line and be innovators and entrepreneurs knowing that he sat back and let his boy who chairs the FCC Julius Genachowski gut Net Neutrality protections, after getting over 3 million letters saying keep them in place.  Watching him gloss over that and casually suggest that we could be innovators in cyber space knowing that the large telecoms will forever be in our way thwarting our every effort , something that Netflix is seeing happen right now, than its clear President Obama is nowhere near being a friend.

Hearing him say go online and be innovators while Homeland Security has been steadily shutting down seizing and shutting websites without a hearing or due process didn’t sit well. I kept thinking to myself, a true friend, a real homeboy doesn’t lie to his peoples. The guy on stage last night did.

And no we should not have to charge his transgressions off to some half ass wisdom that states: ‘that’s what politicians do’ or ‘that’s how the game is played’.. That’s all nonsense.

I’ve heard president Obama speak on numerous occasions to folks in our community where he’s demanded that we ‘pull up our pants’ and strive for excellence. I’ve heard him demand dead beat dads stand up and be counted. I pretty much heard him last night call for all of us to make a commitment to excellence and to not settle for being mediocre.

Maybe someone needs to tell our President its mediocre when you lie and omit truths.  That’s not excellence. That’s called pimping. It cheapens the lofty ideals he puts forth. It’s like praying to God to help you be good at committing a sin.

Anyway, after last night, things hit a point where I no longer care if crazy white folks are running around carrying signs with him eating watermelons, or dressed like Hitler. He’ll be alright. He’s got money. Both him and Michelle are he’s the Commander and Chief so he has the military at his disposal and they got Secret Service protection.

Many who I know don’t have any protection. They’re not protected from increased foreclosures, increased deportations, increased police brutality and increased prices for basic things like food, heat and shelter. There’s no protection from the outright lies being told by TV pundits who make a few thousand for a speech telling us the flowers are starting to bloom when we know damn well it ain’t.

What’s the solution? many say we needed to get out and work for the Hope and Change.. That’s a pimp game gone awry. That’s an attempt to refocus us and dismiss the truth. People need to be reminded, long before president Obama came along, we were working for Hope and Change.

We did this in 2000 when millions of voters were disenfranchised in Florida as we watched all 100 senators including the fool we voted for Al Gore, not raise their hands to fight for further investigations and recount counts. Y’all remember that right? Y’all remember the opening scene in Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9-11?

We saw folks take to the streets only to watch a lot of Hopes dashed on that one.

In spite the immense disappointment we regrouped, got ourselves together endured 4 years of hell under George Bush and came back swinging in 2004.

We had large anti-war rallies, some which numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

We saw artist step up and record at last count over 200 anti-war songs. Folks forget what went on back in those days.

We all came together pushed for more change… We stepped up and brought out record numbers of voters (the most for any presidential election). We saw folks standing in long lines in the rain in some cities ready to do what needed to be done to turn things around..

Sadly at the end of the day, we  saw our hopes dashed by voter disenfranchisement in Ohio..I recall talk show host Tavis Smiley sitting on ABC News speaking to this.. We saw some of our champions like the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs speak to this..but there was no change and no real fight to correct the wrong.

Instead we saw many criticize P-Diddy and his Vote or Die campaign for not bringing out the Youth Vote when in fact young people not only came out, but was the only demographic to vote in the majority for John Kerry.

Nevertheless we all got up dusted ourselves off, regrouped and went back to work. We organized, strategized and in doing so, we got behind one of the emerging bright stars who were first introduced to in 2004. We voted Barack Obama who electrified us during his speech at the 04 DNC into the US Senate. Impressed that he was speaking out against the war and echoing many of the ideals we had fought for since 2000 we saw him as another catalyst for the change we were pushing for.

Around that time, we saw millions of Brown folks take to the streets, flexing potential political power demanding immigration reform. We saw a proposed Draconian bill The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 that would’ve criminalized undocumented folks defeated.

We saw our Hope and Change manifest itself  when we gave the Senate and Congress Democratic majorities with the expectation that those who were newly minted with power would stop the war, impeach the President (GW Bush), bring about election reform to stop things like Swift Boat campaigns. We gave folks in power the tools and mandate to start correcting a lot of wrongs

We saw impressive sea changes locally all over the country. This was best symbolized in a city like Dallas, which is notoriously known for being red. We saw it flip to blue. We saw folks vote in a new DA named Craig Watkins who started looking into questionable cases where folks were wrongly convicted and he started to correct things.  he was overturning cases and making moves to bring about justice.

We elected Nancy Pelosi, a long time liberal from San Francisco to be the Speaker of the House. She was the first woman to ever hold that seat and many figured since she came from place that was a key epic center to anti-war fever she would exercise her power to wheel and deal.

The stage was set. Tools were given. Folks were anxious for the change to began. We were told to hold off and wait just a bit longer. Everything would be set once we put in a president. This would ensure us not being vetoed. So everyone bit their tongue and got behind the election of the man who personified the Hope and Change. He was the crowning jewel and the key to putting everything in motion.

Many of us worked, gave money and followed the game plan  to get him into office. Once elected he had the excitement and enthusiasm of the people. He had Democratic majorities in both houses. He had all the tools.. All that was squandered. Very little has happened. There’s been surface changes at most, lots of lip service, and tons of excuse making.  The cold part about it is that there’s been an attempt to erase the hard work that was put in for the past 8-10 years to turn things around.

So last night’s State of the Union was hollow and the realization that as much as I would like and naively expected, this president is not trying to address the realities that are impacting my world on a daily. There is obviously another audience he feels needs to be reached. Maybe its corporate backers, or some phantom independent voters in the middle of the country. Whatever the case it’s certainly not the activists who was leading those huge marchers or organizing to bring about the changes I described.

So God Bless to those he was speaking to.. For the rest of us, we understand this script. We dust ourselves off, regroup and come up with a better game plan…one that ensures the interests of poor and working class are not only protected but pushed forward. That’s the goal for 2012 Support and votes are not guaranteed

That’s how President Obama is playing it. He doesn’t see us as friends, his homies or anything like that. He sees us as potential voters who need to be seduced or conquered into buying his agenda which bears little reflection of our  realities. I understand.

Great Speech, Great show.. President Obama deserves an Oscar. His act is convincing. key word ‘Act’

Something to ponder

‘Davey D





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, and 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 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

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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