Can We Deport American Prayer?

// August 28th, 2008

Please say a prayer for America.  There is an epidemic building whereby celebrities and musicians are creating cheesy songs as some sort of exercise in self-adulation to show their support for Barack Obama.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that the preaching of the famous holier than thou set can only hurt Obama’s campaign to win the hearts and minds of America’s people.  Maybe they can go away for the next 2 months or so and come back when the election’s over?

I love Obama as much as the next guy, but seriously?  Is Dave Stewart even an American citizen?  Because if he’s not, we should deport him for this horribly cheesy song!!!

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Obama’s Celebrity Army

// March 4th, 2008 has followed up the star-studded Yes We Can with another song & video for Obama named We Are One:

The video features Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, George Lopez, Kerry Washington, Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo!), John Leguizamo, Regina King, Tyrese, Eric Mabius, Macy Gray, Zoe Kravtiz, Tabu, Tichina Arnold, and Freddie Rodriguez among others.

It’s not too bad, but to be honest, I find these celebrity political endorsements to be somewhat annoying and patronizing. They mean well, they really do, but in the end, they might just ruin it all for Obama. I’m talking about the backlash against Hollywood when celebs start getting all preachy and holier-than-thou on the rest of us - especially when it comes to politics.

By and large, just about every celeb in this video has never been politically active nor vocal in the past. All of a sudden, here they are, basically telling us to vote for Obama without delving into any matters of substance whatsoever. Hey, it’s the new cool thing to do! Just like those Livestrong bracelets a few years ago & being green last year…

The fact that people who otherwise wouldn’t care much for politics feel so strongly about a candidate & getting involved is a testament to Obama’s strength as a leader & symbol for hope & change, but that doesn’t mean that more bandwagoning celebs, especially B-listers trying to stay relevant in the public eye, will help the cause. That remains to be seen, but Time seems to think that this year, things might be different:
Obama’s Celebrity Army

Maybe these guys should take a page out of George Clooney’s book:

“You know, my father ran for Congress two years ago. But…everything was categorized as Hollywood versus the heartland, and I actually hurt him, as he was running as a Democrat in Kentucky. I could do damage to Obama. So, I don’t necessarily know [that] saying I back him is helpful.”

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Obama’s Greatest Hits

// February 26th, 2008

For all of my readers out there, yes all 2 of you (are there even 2 people reading this???), I’m sorry for being delinquent in posting recently. I’m becoming a lazy southern Californian… I have emerged, however, to share with you this:

Obama’s great and all, but what’s really great are all these songs he has dedicated to him.

First we had Yes, We Can by & an all-star cast:

Pero para mi gente, los Amigos de Obama, here’s the new Obama reggaeton anthem:

Think it can’t get any better than that?
Well it can.
Mariachi style mutha uckers!!
Mariachi Aguilas de Mexico with Viva Obama!:

Si se puede!!!
Yes we can!!!

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Super Tuesday

// February 5th, 2008

Super Tuesday y’all!

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9/11 Is Over

// October 2nd, 2007

Thomas Friedman’s op-ed this weekend in the New York Times (that bastion of the liberal media that helped build the run up to an illegal war against Iraq!) touched upon something that I personally, as well as many of my fellow New Yorkers I’m sure, have been thinking for some time now:

9|11 is over

Giuliani and various other fearmongers have invoked 9|11 incessantly over the last few years, and it’s about time that they stop. The analogy I liken it to is that of having a family member pass away several years ago and having someone constantly bring it up when you’d like to just move on with your life - but they just won’t let you.

These politicians won’t let you move on because they have nothing to offer for the future as they are mired in the past. They need for you to be afraid so that you have no hope. As Friedman succinctly puts it:

I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

And I, for that matter, will not vote for any candidate that advocates war. It is time to right our ship before we descend upon our downward spiral!

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Looking Back & Looking Forward

// September 11th, 2007

6 years ago today, it was a beautiful, clear and sunny day…and then the sky fell upon us.

Today, it is T-storming and pouring torrentially. The gods must be angry.

It’s been 6 years since the tragedy of 9|11. Despite the fact that we still do not observe this day as a national day of memoriam, it is a time to reflect on our past and our future and how they were affected by that one day in our collective history. When I reread my memoir from 6 years ago, I am deeply saddened, dismayed, and ashamed of what has transpired since then.

Our government has engaged in occupation wars with no end in sight. They give us false reasons, circular logic, and tell us we are safer while putting us in fear and innocent people die every day overseas. Now they want war with Iran. Don’t let it happen again. I promise you it will result in both a political and military disaster that could threaten the well-being of our republic. There is too much at stake to allow these military/energy industrial elitist autocrats to continue to act barbarically in our name without recourse. They care not about you nor our soldiers, nor our country, they only care about themselves. Do not allow the ruling elite class continue to keep us under their thumb.

Remember Katrina and never forget 9|11.

She [America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy… She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….
- John Quincy Adams

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows
- Japanese proverb

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VCs for Africa: What Bono Should Be Talking About

// July 17th, 2007

I’m up here in the T-dot aka Toronto aka Tehranto visiting my numerous family members up here.

I saw one of my cousins last night who is pursuing his PhD in Economics and met an African friend of his from Zambia named Mundia. Mundia is also a student of economics like I was in my past life. We got to talking about aid for Africa & his thoughts on Bono, Bob Geldof & various other champions of debt relief for Africa. He believes, as do I, that aid or debt relief in & of itself is not a viable economic solution for Africa’s troubles. In our opinion, supporting private enterprise in African nations is a much more worthy pursuit.

That’s when I started thinking of the promise that establishing venture capital funds could bring to businesspeople looking for funding to build companies in African nations. The private sector, and in particular, small business, is the major engine of growth in free market economies such as the U.S. In capitalism, we believe that the private sector is more efficient & innovative in serving the needs of the public from energy, transportation, health care, education, telecommunications & anything else under the sun. Public sector companies, on the other hand, are inefficient & bureaucratic because they do not face any competition.

So why is it that one of the causes du jour is relieving debt to Africa, which is essentially aiding African governments? We all hear the stories that African governments are corrupt, but this is true of all governments. The issue at hand is that giving money to a government does not strengthen & build the economy of a nation - private enterprise does.

Of course there are pitfalls & hurdles facing venture capital in Africa as detailed here in AltAssets. Among them are the lack of private funding, the lack of liquidity through regulated stock exchanges, the fluctuation in currency, inadequate infrastructure, a lack of transparency & governance in government, political unrest, and the spectre of AIDS & HIV among the workforce.

However, there are organizations such as the Village Enterprise Fund, which has stepped up to invest seed capital, business training, and mentoring to over 7,000 small businesses in Africa. Nearly 75% of the fund’s capital has come from Silicon Valley VCs who want to make a difference.

The World Economic Forum’s Africa Venture Capital Fellows (AVCF) program aims to “promote venture capital in Africa by educating and training future venture capitalists and leaders of high-growth and early stage companies based in Africa.” The idea behind these initiatives is that VCs help create spending power & jobs by accelerating the entrepreneurial economy in Africa.

Bono is a managing director & co-founder of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm in the states. He is most likely making a fair amount of money investing in companies on top of the millions he makes from being the front man of U2. At the same time, he is quick to criticize so many political and NGO leaders, saying that they are not doing enough, when his main solution is debt relief. Relieving the debt of African nations does not necessarily stimulate the advancement of private enterprise. In America, our government operates a massive budget deficit, numbering in the trillions of dollars, but our private sector is robust, alive, and doing very well. So why is that Bono, the omniscient one, does not prescribe private equity for Africa when he adopts it for his own financial well-being?

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So Poor & So Black

// July 9th, 2007

Today, Michael Moore went on a rampage on Wolf Blitzer & CNN for not “telling the truth” to their viewers about Iraq and skewing the facts on his documentaries.

Here’s the segment:

Wolf didn’t muster up much in response other than to say that the news is a business after all and that he’d stack up Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s record on medical issues vs. anyone in the business. He had a bit of a rough day today, but at least he didn’t look as bad as he did when he said this:

“[They] are so poor and they are so black…”

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War is Expensive!

// July 9th, 2007

I stumbled upon this article today at Y! News:

Report: War costing US $12B a month

I just rekindled this blog this week, but before I did, I was looking back at some of the things I wrote about 3 years ago, decrying how much of a grave mistake this war on Iraq would become.

As I would often say back then, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war, there is no good, holier than thou feeling about being able to say, “I told you so” when it means that thousands upon thousands of innocent American, Iraqi & Afghan people have died for absolutely no reason at all other than an imperialistic land grab on behalf of the military industrial elite.

In fact, the feeling is quite the opposite. If one had the foresight or common sense to understand and know what would happen once the war began and still could not stop it, the resulting feeling is one of weakness and lack of power in the face of our increasingly unilateral government.

During those times, I spoke my voice, wrote poems, joined protests, and even participated in a live town hall on The Today Show (albeit Saturday morning show at 7am - not even my parents woke up to watch it!), where I grilled David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector, who supported the notion that Iraq had WMDs, only to resign a year later, stating that “we all got it wrong.”

And so, where are we now? $500+ billion spent on a war that is only endangering us even more and further accelerating the decline of our young empire. The current administration is going to be off the hook in a year, leaving this mess for someone else to clean up, namely another administration, but even moreso, US. We are paying for this, not them. Lord knows that collectively, the war profiteers have the money to cover the costs of this disastrous endeavor, but rich people don’t go into government to spend their own money, they go into it to spend YOUR MONEY. They put in none of the cost, and they enjoy all of the benefit aka the revenues.

So if the majority of we the citizens of this country do not want to be involved in this war any longer, why are our taxes still paying for it? If ever there was an example of taxation without representation (the reason this country was even born!), this is it. We’re not spending that tax money on education for our children, on health care for those who need it, on national security, on strengthening our infrastructure, for relieving African debt, or whatever your cause may be.

It reminds me of 2 quotes in Sicko:

Former Britsh MP Tony Benn:
“If we can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.”

American expatriate living in Paris:
“One of the things that keeps everything running here is that the government is afraid of the people. They’re afraid of protests. They’re afraid of reactions from the people. Whereas in the States, people are afraid of the government. They’re afraid of acting up. They’re afraid of protesting. They’re afraid of getting out.”

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my misled brothers

// November 7th, 2004

in response to an iranian-american thrill of victory for bush:

i’m going to be brutally honest here. at first, i just read and dismissed your email, chalking it up to yet another one of our fellow countrymen foolishly placing upon bush the hopes that he will topple the mullah theocracy in iran as some sort of benevolent messiah of democracy sent to us by god to liberate the middle eastern peoples. i am sad to say, that much like the people of “faith” and “moral values” of this country, you appear to be blinded to reality by your hopes. none of us will argue against the idea that democracy in the middle east and liberation from the clutches of tyrants is vital to the future of the region, but i think where we differ is in the means to these ends. democracy does not come by gunpoint, unless that gun is pointed at the very oppressors who occupy the power of your country. in iraq, as it stands right now, that opressor is us. we have replaced one regime with another. as iranians, i think we all know very well what foreign intervention, even in its stealth forms, can do to the stability and future of a country. in fact, to this day, we are still paying for this in iran. democracy in and of itself is not sufficient for people in the middle east. right now, in iraq & afghanistan, we love to talk on & on about how people are free. what we don’t like to talk about often is how these people can now vote freely, but can’t get the work, electricity, food, water, health care, etc. that they need to survive. some even say that if allowed, saddam hussein would win an election in iraq. this is b/c at least under his rule, people knew they could survive. would you support that result?? because if you don’t then you don’t really want democracy in the middle east.

you mention civilizing the middle eastern nations, but how do you civilize people by violently imposing your ways upon them??? this is a very curious idea. if you can point to one example of this working, i’d be glad to hear it. i suppose this could mean that if israel simply bulldozed palestine into becoming a democratic state and installed a dictator for a while, palestinians would enjoy a life of freedom, democracy & no homes or no jobs. dr. martin luther king once said that “hate begets hate, violence begets violence, until we find ourselves in a downward spiral.”

i am a new yorker. i was born in this great city, i have made my life here, it is inextricably part of who i am and embodies all that i love about america: freedom, opportunity, diversity, etc…. i live in downtown manhattan, not more than a mile away from the world trade center. i lived through 9/11. i know people who died on that day. you can read my thoughts from that time here:

as i read those words again, i am even more saddened. i am saddened b/c it appears that we have learned absolutely nothing from 9/11. we have squandered away and dismissed everything that was good that we might have gained or learned from our tragedy. instead, violence & war, senseless killing, have become our lesson. the politics of division have taken root in our country and the power of religion has strengthened its grip on our government. oddly enough, it is almost as if we aspire to become a theocracy like our “evil” enemy iran. you and the cabal of neoconservatives who have taken control of our government believe that might makes right. you believe that violence is the means to an ends, but where you differ and why your support of bush is fallacious, is that you believe that they have the goodwill of the middle eastern people in their hearts and minds, when in actuality, all they want from the middle eastern people they strive to intimidate is for them to establish “democracies” which are disguises for puppet governments across the region that will give a free pass to american corporations to come in & fleece these people’s countries of their oil.

and so it is that i deeply resent yours and anyone else’s support of bush when the concerns of millions and millions of people like myself who live in this nation’s cities, the veritable targets for terrorist attacks, are completely and utterly ignored. apparently, it’s OK for bush to hijack our tragedy b/c it really was new york’s tragedy, to invoke it relentlessly and to use it for political gain, all the while when having contempt for the people who were the victims of the tragedy.. take a look at the map of america and how its counties voted. you will notice that EVERY major city in this country voted against bush. there is something telling in that. we just don’t believe that by warmongering all over the middle east, we are any safer. funny, i thought that if you wanted to diffuse a violent situation, you don’t resort to violence itself. it extremely saddens me to say that this country is playing directly into bin laden’s hands. in fact, it is almost like he is playing chess to our game of checkers. and everytime someone supports violently overturning regimes in the middle east, that someone should realize that this is exactly what bin laden wants us to do, so that he can further polarize this world into a devolving holy war. think about it, right now, in 2004, we have a country that is increasingly moving towards christian fundamentalism, while jewish fundamentalism moves on unchecked in israel and muslim fundamentalism rages on throughout the middle east. and somehow you believe that injecting violence into this very tense situation will make it all better……….

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