Monday, January 26, 2015

FOX News isn’t journalism, it’s dangerous propaganda



If you’re a regular watcher of FOX News, please stop. It’s garbage. It’s not just mindless junk, like “Maury” or “The Jerry Springer Show,” it’s toxic waste that can be harmful to your health, and actually get people killed. You could write a whole book critiquing FOX News. If you want to see an extensive documentary on the ills of FOX News, check out Robert Greenwald’s “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.”

I was going to write a column criticizing the laughable claim by FOX News commentator Steven Emerson, where he said the British city Birmingham was totally Muslim and had no-go areas. Anyone who is familiar with Birmingham would know that while it has a large Muslim population, (about 20 percent) it is far from Muslim dominated. Emerson just pulled that “fact” out of his ass. It was a bald-faced lie. I have worked in journalism for almost 20 years and if any reporter at a newspaper or small-market TV station pulled that kind of stunt, they would be fired. But since FOX News is not a news organization, Emerson has yet to be terminated.

Emerson was roundly criticized, even by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and his gaffe spawned a Twitter hashtag. FOX News reporters made several red-faced apologies, but Judge Janine Pirro, who invited Emerson on her show and didn’t challenge his comment, is still employed.
However, the outrage from FOX News comes thick and fast. Several FOX News commentators have made controversial statements about “American Sniper,” the biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. This is always going to be a controversial topic, because FOX has been known for its jingoistic promotion of the Iraq War. Greenwald’s documentary pointed out FOX News staff were ordered to change all references of military snipers to “sharp shooters,” because that had a more positive connotation.  A 2010 University of Maryland study showed FOX News viewers actually had a worse grasp of world events than people who didn’t watch any news. Many FOX News viewers still believed in the George W. Bush administration’s reasons for the Iraq war. They thought we found weapons of mass destruction. Recent comments from FOX News personalities are not just incorrect, they are disgusting. FOX News contributor Todd Starnes bashed Michael Moore’s criticism of snipers, and said Jesus would have congratulated Chris Kyle for sending “Godless jihadists to the lake of fire.” There are several things wrong with this statement. Most Christians interpret Jesus’ message as being one of love and peace. He encouraged his followers to turn the cheek and love their enemies. There is little in Jesus’ teachings that encourage crusades to kill unbelievers. Also, Islam is an Abrahamic religion, so Muslims worship the same god as Christians and Jews. But Starnes doesn’t seem to either know or care about this. More troubling, is he seems to care more about shaping the War on Terror as a war between good Christian soldiers and Muslim heathens. (Kyle also shared this belief.) If that wasn’t enough, FOX News host and resident neo coon Charles Payne said American troops literally “saved the planet,” and were responsible for millions of people moving into the middle class. Now, the sacrifices of American troops may have saved the planet from Nazi tyranny and America did win the Cold War. However in recent years, American troops have not been fighting to rescue the planet. The war in Iraq killed more than 100,000 Iraqis and installed a government so dysfunctional, Iraqis long for the days of Saddam Hussein. He may have been a murderous tyrant, but at least he maintained law and order. The Afghanistan war has killed an estimated 20,000 local civilians and the U.S. is propping up a shaky regime that is likely to fall to the Taliban, the very people American forces kicked out. Also, the U.S. is still carrying out drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan, which often take out nearby civilians, who are labeled collateral damage. Needless to say, many people around the world, don’t see American forces as liberators. If you go into the military thinking you’re going to save the world, you are in for a rude awakening. You’ll likely end up fighting, dying or getting maimed to support corporate interests. According to the International Business Times, Halliburton, formerly lead by Vice President Dick Cheney, made $39.5 billion from the Iraq war. And they are not the only company. Erik Prince, the founder of private military contractor, Blackwater, which has changed its name several times, has received more than $1 billion from the U.S. government. Much of this was motivated by the War on Terror, where the firm was doing everything from guarding diplomats to supporting CIA missions. FOX News is apparently pretty popular in military circles. This is not surprising, because like “American Sniper,” it boils the War on Terror down into an easily digested message. We (Americans) are good Christian soldiers, they (Muslims) are savages who need to be put down like rabid dogs. This is not the work of a journalistic organization. A real news outlet is supposed to take a balanced approach to the news and present both sides of the story, not promote an erroneous view. But again, FOX News is not journalism, it’s dangerous propaganda, designed to demonize the enemy. The scary thing about propaganda is it doesn’t have to be true. As I have pointed out in this article, FOX News employees, regularly lie and present falsehoods as the truth. And they don’t care, as long as their viewers believe it. The scary thing is many Americans do. By the way, if you thought the foreign wars were winding down, many right wingers are calling for an attack on Iran, to curtail their nuclear program. FOX News may soon begin demonizing Iranians.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast

Monday, December 22, 2014

10 Worst Modern-Day American Politicians



Politicians are not in most people’s good books. The results of the last elections, in which about two thirds of the electorate chose not participate, shows overwhelming apathy. Politics is a business which involves raising lots of money, making false promises and to be willing to destroy your opponents. So it’s doesn’t exactly attract angels. But, there are some particularly bad politicians whose misdeeds rise above the usual political shenanigans. Here are some of the worst modern-day politicians.


10. Michele Bachmann. Rep. Michele Bachmann recently resigned her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She claims she was looking for new challenges, but in reality she is facing an FBI investigation for campaign finance violations.  Bachmann was a terrible politician on many levels. She never passed any significant legislation, she was well known for making wacky comments, that were often flat out lies, and she was also a rabid Christian fundamentalist. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Bachmann wanted to ban the cartoon “Aladdin” from her school, because she thought it promoted witchcraft. Bachmann, whose gaffes could take up a whole article, was a favorite of late-night comedians because she was a great source of material. She was a national embarrassment and her antics, along with the other 2012 Republican candidates, caused German magazine Der Spiegel to question if this was the best the U.S. had to offer.


9. Marion Barry. The late Marion Barry had many problems as mayor of Washington, D.C. He was a charmer, who was known to operate a corrupt city hall. He also oversaw D.C. during the crack wars of the 1980s. But, the final straw seem to come when he was arrested for smoking crack in a FBI drug sting. It all started so well for Barry. According to the Washington Post, he came from a family of sharecroppers and became a student activist during the civil rights movement. Barry wore dashikis and participated in sit ins. But when he was elected mayor, his political career was marred by incidents like getting shot, drug and alcohol problems, four marriages and tax problems. In spite of this, Barry, a Democrat, was still popular with his constituents and was elected four times. Even after his career had been tainted by scandal, he still ran and won a seat on the city council.


8. Sarah Palin. It’s difficult to say if Sarah Palin is a politician anymore. The last election she was involved, with was the disastrous 2008 presidential race, where she essentially tanked the McCain campaign. To be fair, the Republican party was in a bad position in 2008. The economy had crashed and the public was growing frustrated with George W. Bush’s foreign wars. (More on him later.) However, Palin didn’t help. When faced with national press scrutiny, Palin was found to be woefully unqualified. Her awful interview with Katie Couric will go down in history as one of the worst ever. She has also coined a phrase called “Pulling a Palin,” which means making a terrible political decision. Now, Palin is known more for making rambling comments on FOX News and her reality show, but she still has her rabid followers, who plead for her to run for president. However, a recent incident in which her family was involved with a brawl at a party, make Americans shudder at the thought of the Palin family in the White House.


7. Gordon Klingenschmitt. Klingenschmitt is a little-known state representative from Colorado and former Navy chaplain. He was being tracked by liberal web site Right-Wing Watch, which monitors crazy statements by conservative politicians. The web site wrote several articles about Klingenschmitt making outlandish comments, like claiming homosexuality is satanic and also saying he had conducted an on-air exorcism of President Barack Obama. However Slate.com, reported that he won his election by a 40 percent margin. Way to go Colorado voters.


6. Ron Paul. Ron Paul is a former representative from the state of Texas, who has run for president several times as a Republican, although he holds libertarian views. His three runs for president attracted rabid supporters including some celebrities such as Vince Vaughn. Young people were attracted by his ideas, which included legalizing marijuana. Many military members were attracted by his non-interventionist ideas, which supported closing foreign military bases and getting the U.S. untangled from international conflicts. However, there is a darker side to Ron Paul. Ron Paul was speaker at the 50th anniversary celebration of the the far-right John Birch Society. Bear in mind, the John Birch Society spoke out against the civil rights movement and was so extreme, it was denounced by William F. Buckley, who is considered the father of American conservatism. Ron Paul also has ties to white supremacist organizations. He was pictured standing arm-in-arm with Don Black, the founder of white supremacist website, Stormfront. His campaign also received a donation from a white supremacist group and he refused to return it. White supremacists perceived Ron Paul as supportive of their cause because he has been critical of the Civil Rights Act. Also, in the 1980s, Ron Paul published a newsletter filled with racist comments. Ron Paul later said although he was publisher of the newsletter, he didn’t closely monitor the content. His son, Rand Paul, is continuing the fight for libertarianism, as a senator from Kentucky.


5. Steve King. Steve King is a socially and fiscally conservative representative from Iowa, who has made several statements that could be construed as racist and Islamophobic. In 2008, King told The Spencer Reporter, that Barack Obama’s election would be seen as a victory for Islamic terrorists. King seemed to be bothered that Obama’s middle name was Hussein. He is also a staunch opponent of affirmative action, and told Politico that affirmative action would lead to “white men being excluded.” But, some of King’s worst comments have been about illegal immigration. When King told conservative magazine Newsmax, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred  (illegal immigrants) out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” even Republicans had to condemn his remarks as ignorant.


4. Louie Gohmert. Louie Gohmert, a representative from Texas, must be one of the dumbest people in Congress, especially as Michele Bachmann has resigned. He regularly shows up in the media for his idiotic statements. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Gohmert told FOX News the tragedy could had been avoided if the teacher had a rifle nearby. Gohmert also took to the floor of the House of Representatives to say foreign women were coming to America to give birth to children who were going to be later trained to be terrorists. When asked where he got the information, Gohmert cited an anonymous FBI agent. Gohmert was also one of five Republican representatives who sent a letter to the heads of several security agencies, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of infiltrating the government. He pointed the finger at Huma Abedin, who was deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas accused him of McCarthyism.


3. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio might be a surprise member of this list, but he is an elected official. And he is a canny, if corrupt, politician. Arpaio presides over Maricopa County and runs it as his personal fiefdom. The New York Times called him “America’s Worst Sheriff,” and Rolling Stone wrote an article calling him “America’s Most Racist Cop.” He became famous for making inmates of the county jail wear pink underwear and serving them rotten food. Locals refers to his tenure as a “reign of terror.” When The Phoenix New Times wrote stories about Arpaio’s crooked business dealings, he had the owners arrested at their homes and thrown in jail over minor charges. Hard to believe that this happened in America. The charges were dropped and the owners of The Phoenix New Times filed a successful lawsuit against Arpaio. Arpaio's department is so bad, the county regularly pays out settlements for abusive policing, wrongful arrest and racial profiling. Former Maricopa County District Attorney Andrew Thomas, who helped Arpaio carry out his witch hunts, was eventually disbarred. Arpaio is also currently under investigation for racially profiling Latinos. However, in spite of all Arpaio's crimes he has been won election five times. The only hope we have is that he eventually gets taken down by the Department of Justice or Father Time. Arpaio is 82.


2. Rick Perry. It takes some doing to get labelled dumber than George W. Bush, but outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry did it. Perry served as agriculture commissioner and lieutenant governor before replacing George W. Bush, when he became president. Depending on who you talked to, Perry had a successful tenure as governor of Texas, a state that leans Republican. His supporters point to his ability to attract businesses to the state, but his critics point to the state’s lousy environmental record and its high numbers of uninsured. As governor, Perry flirted with Christian fundamentalists, compared homosexuality to alcoholism, and presided over the executions of hundreds of people. In August, Perry was indicted by a grand jury for abuse of office and coercing a public employee.

1. George W. Bush. How could we finish this list without including former President George W. Bush, the man who oversaw two foreign wars, the financial crash of 2008, a federally-sanctioned torture program, the Hurricane Katrina debacle and failed to capture Osama Bin Laden. He also went to war and approved massive tax cuts, which New York Times columnist and Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said has never been done in human history. Bush’s failed presidency virtually guaranteed the election of the relatively-unknown Sen. Barack Obama. However, even though Bush has been out of office for six years, we are still paying the price for his failures.. The torture program did irreparable damage to America’s reputation in the eyes of the world. According to the Washington Post, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost between $4-6 trillion. And that is not factoring in the emotional cost of the families who have to deal with wounded soldiers. We will also likely see an increase in homeless veterans. Bush is the gift that keeps on giving. However, a recent poll showed that Americans now view Bush more favorably than when he left office. And his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently announced he is running in 2016. Be afraid.


Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast

10 Worst Right-Wing Media Commentators


Rush Limbaugh

There is a reason why the conservative media is called the right-wing noise machine. America has a large number of conservative media outlets that exist to promote a right-wing agenda. Many commentators function like FOX News and their job is to put out opinions that support a conservative agenda. These commentators are not journalists, they are opinion leaders and they do not produce balanced news. However, many Americans believe them and repeat their opinions as fact. There are many offenders out there, but here are a few of the worst.

10. Dr. Keith Ablow. Believe it or not, Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist, who actually has a practice. He is unpopular in psychiatric circles and has resigned from the American Psychological Association. He seems to spend most of his time making inflammatory comments on FOX News. Before finding his way to FOX, Ablow worked for Newsweek, The Washington Post and USA Today, as well as making several appearances on a host of television shows. Ablow seemed to be your average TV-friendly psychiatrist, but it was on FOX News that he really began to show his true colors. He started making political comments and also giving his opinion on the psychological state of people he had never diagnosed. He has made so many controversial comments it’s difficult to keep track. He criticised First Lady Michelle Obama’s weight and stated President Barack Obama may want the United States to suffer like other countries and would not protect the country from ebola. Ablow also stated we should lead an American Jihad to convert other countries to our political system.

9. Laura Ingraham. Laura Ingraham seems to have figured out how to make a living as a right-wing commentator by following the mean girl school of thought, like Ann Coulter, who will be talked about later. Ingraham has a long history of spiteful behavior, which goes back to her college days at Dartmouth. As the first female editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review, a conservative newspaper, she outed gay students. She sent a reporter to gay organizations, taping their meetings and then sending the information to their parents. Apparently, she was very anti-gay, until her brother came out of the closet, forcing her to change her attitude. Now, she has lucrative gigs as a political commentator on ABC, her own radio show and is an author who pens books railing against the liberal elite and supporting family values. It is ironic, because she has never been married and has three adopted foreign-born children. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s odd, considering Ingraham is a single mother, who claims she supports traditional family values.

8. Pat Robertson. Some people might question why Pat Robertson, who runs Christian Broadcasting Network, is on this list, but he has been known to make the odd political comment. Robertson actually ran for president in 1988 and came second in the Iowa caucus. Robertson has a host of religious theories, but let’s stick to his political commentary. Fond of making predictions, which often turn out to be wildly incorrect, Robertson predicted President George W. Bush would win the 2004 election by a landslide. Bush barely squeaked by. He also predicted Mitt Romney would beat President Barack Obama and be a two-term president. Whoops! Wrong again. Robertson blamed 9/11 on pagans, gays, the ACLU and feminists. He also said Hurricane Katrina was punishment for abortion. However, Robertson is so toxic now, serious Republican politicians stay away from him.

7. Michael Savage. Michael Savage is another product of the Conservative Entertainment Complex. A former college professor, Savage, whose real name is Weiner, decided to reinvent himself as a right-wing shock jock when his education career stalled. Many people believe Savage’s image is an act. Savage specializes in launching vicious, verbal attacks against illegal immigrants (he has accused them of bringing diseases to the United States,) Muslims (he has made jokes about genocide) and gays. Savage was once fired from his short-lived MSNBC show for telling a gay caller “to get AIDS and die.” Inspite of his controversies, Savage has still maintained a successful career as a political commentator and author. Apparently, there is a market for hate in the U.S. However, Savage’s comments are not without consequences. In 2009, he was banned from entering Britain for “fostering hatred.”

6. Eric Bolling. It’s hard to stand out among FOX News sea of outlandish commentators, but Eric Bolling has. Bolling, who comes from a Wall Street background, is co-host of FOX News’ roundtable show,“The Five.” He is known for making racist and sexist jokes. When President Obama invited Gabon President Bongo Odimba and rapper Common to the White House, Bolling accused him having “hoods in the hizzouse.” He also depicted Odimba with a gleaming gold tooth. Bolling had to apologize for that stunt. He also accused Obama of slacking off by “drinking 40s.” Bolling made a joke about a female pilot from the United Arab Emirates fighting against ISIS, saying it would be “boobs on the ground.” Another apology was issued. Recently, like a lot of right-wing commentators, he has taken to making jokes about torture. Yeah, waterboarding is hilarious.

5. Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter is the premier conservative female political commentator. She was one of the first women who figured out how to make a comfortable living by throwing bombs on TV, writing incendiary columns and selling books to her rabid followers. It helps that she is very photogenic and wears short skirts. She has been doing it for more than 20 years and it’s good work, if you can get it. According to Celebrity Talent International, Coulter’s booking fee is anywhere from $30,000 -$175,000. Coulter thrives on controversy and has been fired from a number of publications. She has a history of making insulting and thinly-veiled racist comments. After one of her friends was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack, Coulter wrote a column saying, we should invade Muslim countries and “force them to convert to Christianity.” She has also used words like “camel jockey” and “raghead” to refer to Middle Easterners. Although she has used the word “faggot” jokingly, she is a member of GOProud, a gay Republican group. This speaks to the central contradiction of Coulter’s life. She promotes family values and claims she is a Christian, but is single and has never married. She makes quasi-racist comments, but was rumored to date Jimmie Walker. Many political insiders suspect like Savage, this is all an act, and she is strictly in it for the money. She was satirized by the cartoon show “The Boondocks,” which portrayed her as a fraud, who was supporting an unemployed black lover.

4. Sean Hannity. Like a lot of right-wing commentators, Sean Hannity is also an author as well as being a radio and TV show host. He was a little-known radio jock, until he was hired by FOX News to co-host a show with liberal Alan Colmes. Eventually, FOX ditched Colmes and gave the show to Hannity. Hannity may have mastered the art of doing good broadcasting and penning bestselling books, but that doesn’t mean he is a journalist. He has a bad habit of getting things wrong. The liberal website, Alternet tracked 10 of his worst lies. According to Alternet, Hannity is a climate denier, and also repeated the lie that President Obama was a Muslim. Hannity regularly has Muslim fundamentalists and black supremacists on his show, as this helps portray the left as dangerous. And when he does want people of color on, he regularly invites self-loathing African-American Jesse Lee Peterson to make the racist comments white people are afraid to say. (Peterson said the black victims of Hurricane Katrina were lazy and immoral.) Hannity failed to disclose that he made a large donation to Peterson’s nonprofit foundation. In addition, Hannity used to have close ties to neo Nazi Hal Turner, a convicted felon, who used to regularly call into his radio show. Turner said Hannity gave him the secret number to make sure his calls would always air.

3. Bill O’Reilly. Bill O’Reilly is such a big media star that he even spawned an imitator,  Stephen Colbert, who based his clueless conservative character on him. Apparently, O’Reilly was not amused and loathes Colbert. O’Reilly started off as a regular journalist, appearing on several news magazines, before finding his way to FOX News. And that was when it all changed, out went the objectivity and in came opinion-based news slanted to the right. Part of “The O’Reilly Factor” involves O’Reilly staring into the camera and making commentary. The piece is labelled opinion, but most people probably can’t tell the difference between that and real news. O’Reilly’s interviewing style is abrasive. He asks leading questions, points, shouts over people, cuts people’s mics off and sometimes calls people “pinheads.” O’Reilly may have once done real news, but that was a long time ago. The worst thing about O’Reilly is he portrays himself as a permanently outraged culture warrior who decries a coarsening culture. It’s all an act for his geriatric viewers. O’Reilly settled a sexual harassment suit for $5 million. Before settling, he called his accuser, Andrea Mackris, and threatened to send FOX News’ goons after her. Mr. Family Values is also divorced and tried to get his marriage annulled. And he hounded porn star Jenna Jameson for free DVDs when she appeared on his show. In an interview in Playboy magazine, Deepak Chopra described O’Reilly as “playing a bigot” on TV.

2. Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck comes close as the no. 1 worst right-wing commentator.  Beck’s antics proved so insane even FOX News couldn’t tolerate him. His act, and that’s what it is, is very entertaining. It consists of crying on air, prophesying doom and gloom, then selling survival gear to his followers, playing with dolls and dressing up as various characters, including Yoda. Initially a shock jock, Beck came to national prominence when he got a show on Headline News. He moved to FOX News and that’s when he really took off. Beck’s show received top ratings on FOX, even though many of his colleagues hated him for damaging the network’s reputation. Beck crossed the line when he accused the president of being a racist. This lead to complaints to advertisers who eventually boycotted his show. FOX News President Roger Ailes was forced to show him the door. But he didn’t go away. He created his own subscription-based network, The Blaze, which made $27 million in it’s first year. Beck is a great marketer who essentially sees his cult-like followers as walking dollars signs. He sells them subscriptions, a variety of books, survival seeds, tickets to his stand -up show, newsletters and even jeans. In an interview with Forbes, Beck once said about his empire, “I could give a flying crap about the political process. We’re an entertainment company.”

1. Rush Limbaugh. Without doubt Rush Limbaugh is the granddaddy of the Conservative Entertainment Complex and the worst right-wing commentator. He gets the credit because he still has the no.1 political talk show in the country and literally made AM radio a home for nothing but right-wing talkers. Some Republican politicians fear getting on his bad side. Limbaugh, who managed one semester in college, initially tried to be a regular DJ, but reinvented himself as a political shock jock. At the time, few people were doing it and he literally created the industry. His career has made him fabulously wealthy. He is a multimillionaire who signed a contract that runs through 2016 worth $400 million. Limbaugh’s show consists of conservative commentary and humor. Although he insists he is an entertainer, many of his viewers look at his show as news. In his show, he also makes insulting “jokes” about every other group apart from conservative white men. Liberals, gays, African Americans, women, environmentalists and immigrants are all fair game for his humor. He once told a black caller to take the bone out of his mouth. And he got into trouble with his advertisers when he called activist Sandra Fluke, a slut and prostitute. Limbaugh is also not too bright. When he criticized Fluke, he didn’t seem to understand how birth control worked, and he sided with the Ugandan terrorist group. the Lord’s Resistance Army, because Obama had launched a military operation against them. He didn’t realize the group practices rape and sex slavery. D’oh! Like most right-wing commentators, Limbaugh, who promotes conservative family values, is a total fraud. He was addicted to painkillers, and has been married four times, producing no children. Limbaugh also went on vacation to the Dominican Republic, a noted child sex hotspot, with a group of men. According to the Smoking Gun, he was busted returning with a bottle of Viagra, not under his name.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast

Monday, November 24, 2014

People of Color, Women Can’t Afford to Be Average


I have previously written several articles about how most Americans are pretty clueless. The results of the last elections showed that. A lot of Americans stayed home, and people from states that depend heavily on government programs, such as food stamps, welfare and social security, elected Republicans -- the very people who have said they plan to slash these programs.

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, caught flak for referring to American voters as stupid, but he is right. Bill Maher, who is known for his biting comedy, recently ran a video montage showing all the times he had also expressed that Americans are stupid.  If you need any further evidence of this, a recent YouTube video showed some Texas Tech students who were unable to answer basic questions, such as which side won the Civil War or who was the vice president. Of course, they all knew what show Snookie was on.

As much as we can laugh at these videos, there is something serious going on here. I don’t think people of color and women can afford to be that stupid. They need to be at the top of their game academically. White men will do fine, no matter how dumb they are. If they wear the right clothes, join the right country clubs and stick it out long enough, they will eventually get shunted up the ladder in Corporate America. George W. Bush is a great example. Bush never showed any great academic talent, but still graduated from two Ivy league schools. And after several failed businesses, he finally struck gold with the Texas Rangers, managed to get elected governor of Texas and used his family connections to win the presidency. The good-old boy network is alive and kicking.

I have worked alongside a lot of white men in Corporate America, and while they dominate the field, they are not always the best workers. I’ve seen white men who sexually harassed co workers, refused to show up to work on their first day and showed downright incompetence, yet they weren’t fired. The other white men in Corporate America will generally cut them some slack or overlook their flaws, until it reaches a breaking a point.

Other groups don’t have that opportunity. People of color and women are expected to be darn near perfect in Corporate America. Screw up a few times and you will be out the door. Chris Rock talked about this in an interview for the HBO documentary film “The Black List.” He said he lived on the same street as Jay-Z, and a white guy was his neighbor. The white neighbor was just an ordinary dentist. Rock pointed out he and Jay-Z were at the top of their games in their respective fields, but their neighbor was just an average dentist.

When quizzed about their lack of diversity, CEOs often say they can’t find qualified graduates of color. I find this hard to believe considering all the colleges that are churning out graduates. It is also a false argument because a lot of the white graduates they hire are not the cream of the crop, but they still employ them anyway.

So while white men can still flourish, in spite of being average academically, people of color cannot afford to follow in their footsteps. They need to excel in class. President Barack Obama is a great example. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and yet people still accuse him of being incompetent.

Black people have to be not only book smart, but street smart. A young black man not only has to know how to succeed academically, but also how to avoid the long of the arm law. They have to learn how to navigate the tortuous American criminal justice system and avoid “riding dirty.” Black men are also taught to be very careful in dealings with America’s trigger happy police force, who have a habit of killing them. Black men who decide to rely on street smarts alone often realize they need book learning, especially when they are faced with complex, sports/entertainment contracts. Ignoring the business side of show business is how many entertainers and athletes go broke.

Women are often held up to a higher standard than white men too. Sarah Palin was a good example of a woman who benefitted from white privilege, but also suffered the backlash of sexism. She was unqualified to be vice president, but no one ever asked how someone as dim as her ever got to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? There is no way a person of color, with her kind of baggage, would ever get that chance. And while Palin was pilloried for her lack of intelligence, the press went easier on Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, who were not intellectual titans. Being white men, they were given a bye, after all they looked the part. They had greying hair, played golf and looked good in a business suit. They fit in at the country club. There are plenty of people in Congress who are plain stupid, such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, but they still seem to get elected.

White men might bleat about their supposed loss of status, but they still have a firm grip on the reins of power. (They’re just mad that they don’t have 100 percent of the pie anymore.)  No matter what pseudo-news outlets such as Breitbart.com and FOX News say, the black and brown people and women are not taking over -- at least not yet. According to Diversity, Inc., 1.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are black and only nine black men have ever been elected to the U.S. Senate. White men, even the mediocre, ones are doing just fine.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast


Friday, November 7, 2014

Teabaggers Hate the Government, But Love Government Programs


I am still recovering from the midterm election results, but I hope two years of a Republican-run Congress will convince voters to get off their asses and put a Democrat in the White House. I often find it hard to take Republicans seriously, because so many of their arguments fall apart under close scrutiny. Republicans are an odd bunch, some of their ideas show many of them have no idea how government works. During the rise of the tea party, there was an infamous quote from a woman at a rally, who said, “Take your government hands off my Medicare!” Who does she think provides Medicare? I never got the mentality behind teabaggers and even their love for President Ronald Reagan. Reagan once said the most frightening words in the English language were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” He had a general disdain for government, which was odd because he sought the highest government position in the land.


Today’s tea baggers are even more conservative than Reagan, and have absolute contempt for the government. They loath government employees and think the government can’t get anything right, even though thousands of Americans depend on services, such as Social Security and Medicare. Maybe teabaggers’ contempt for the government is the reason why they are quick to push for a government shutdown.


This hatred for the government is actually pretty dishonest. Many teabaggers have benefitted from government programs, they just don’t seem to realize it. My definition of a teabagger is someone who hates all government programs, except for the ones he uses. In 2012, the New York Times ran an in-depth article about Chisago County, Minnesota which had turned into a Republican stronghold. One of the people featured in the article, Gordy Peterson, was a self-described conservative, who railed against government spending. He also later admitted he had been on disability for three decades! The article stated, “Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates. Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. “


I was researching Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary company Blackwater. Prince, who has deep ties to the Republican party, describes himself as a libertarian and thinks the government does things inefficiently. The growth of Blackwater was brought about because the George W. Bush administration decided it wanted the military to focus on fighting wars and many of its services could be outsourced. As a result Blackwater has received more than $1 billion in government contracts. Blackwater soldiers were tasked with protecting American diplomats and even took on some CIA duties. Blackwater is a great example of what Republicans mean when they talk about privatization. What they actually mean is they want to turn over government services to a private company, owned by one of their cronies. And the taxpayer still gets stuck with the bill, but usually gets worse service. 

If your company has received more than $1 billion in taxpayer money, then essentially it’s a government company. You don’t get to turn around and bash the government about being inefficient, when your sucking on the government teat. If you hate the government so much, how about you stop taking its money?  

Another example of this hypocrisy is seen in rising GOP star Joni Ernst, who was recently elected to the Senate. Ernst, who has been compared to Sarah Palin (Is that a good thing?), has bragged about her expertise in castrating hogs as an example of how she would cut pork when she got to DC. She also said she keeps her nine millimeter handy to protect against a potentially tyrannical government.

She conveniently fails to mention that she has spent a lifetime working for the government she supposedly loathes. She is career National Guard and has health care and a nice retirement package paid for by the government. The Des Moines Register writes, “Joni Ernst hates the money government spends, but she sure enjoys the revenue her family receives from the government and will continue to receive from it. She was a county auditor, state senator and National Guard officer. She will receive a military pension at age 60. She is eligible to take advantage of Social Security laws due to the fact that her husband is 61 and will be exempt from her proposed privatization scheme.”

I would take Ernst more seriously if she didn’t benefit from the very government programs she rails against. Tea partiers seem to live by the motto, “I hate the government, but give me my government program.”

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dumb American Voters Put GOP Back in Power


Midterm election reveals dysfunctional political system 

So, this is the day after Republicans have taken control of the House and the Senate. Their success just proves to me something I have been saying for years, Americans are dumb. And it’s not just me who says it, talk show host Bill Maher says it and so does author and journalist Chris Hedges, who articulated this in his depressing book, “Empire of Illusion.” In the book, he suggests that most Americans are so ill informed and poorly educated, they can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. And this might explain why the Republicans won on Tuesday night. 

The Republicans convinced Americans to vote against President Barack Obama, even though Osama Bin Laden is dead, the stock market is up, unemployment is down, gas prices are falling and more Americans have health care because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)

And this is where cognitive dissonance comes in. Take the Affordable Care Act, which is nicknamed Obamacare, for example. In street interviews on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, some Americans said they didn’t like Obamacare, but they were in favor of the ACA, not realizing it was the same, damn thing. A New York Times article said Democrats did badly in states which benefited from expanded health care coverage caused by Obamacare. So Obamacare got more Americans health care coverage, yet they were still mad at Obama and the Democrats. Republicans managed to convince some Democrats that Obama was so toxic, candidates like Alison Lundergran Grimes actually avoided campaigning with him. In an interview, she refused to admit she voted for the president. 

The fact that Americans are this ill informed is helped along by right-wing propaganda outlets like FOX News, which actually works as in reverse as a journalism organization. Journalism is supposed to inform people, but FOX News and other right-wing media, actually makes people less educated. They spout outright lies and the gullible American public laps it up. A university study showed most FOX News viewers believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 911, and so did former presidential candidate Sarah Palin. 

This lack of awareness must be the reason why Americans voted to put the GOP back in power. This is a party that doesn’t believe in evolution, climate change, or even a minimum wage. Steve Adams, a California tea bagger who lost to incumbent Mark Takano in a House race, said he wanted to invade Mexico to free a U.S. Marine who was jailed for illegally crossing the border, while possessing firearms. Fortunately, California voters were smart enough not to send Adams to Washington. But, around the nation, voters reelected awful GOP governors like Floridian Rick Scott, who wasted millions on drug testing welfare recipients while using a company his wife owned, Sam Brownback, whose tea party policies tanked the Kansas economy, and Scott Walker, who waged war on public employees in Wisconsin. 

Some of the candidates elected to congress were even worse. Iowa voters elected Joni Ernst, who has accused Obama of being a dictator and says she is armed in case the government rises up against her. When columnist Charlie Pierce confronted her with the fact only one person died of Ebola in the United States, she said that was “his opinion.” Georgia voters elected Jody Hice, a minister and talk show host (that should be your first warning.) Hice compares abortion to nazism, doesn’t think Muslims should be protected under the First Amendment and thinks gay people prey on children. Colorado voters elected Gordon Klingenschmitt to the state senate. Klingenschmmitt believes gays and Obama are possessed by demons. And these people are going to be setting policy. 

The Republicans won for several reasons. Americans are still upset at Washington over the sluggish economy. I think voters fail to remember how bad the economy was under George W. Bush. The problem with the American political system is it only offers two choices, if you are mad at one party, you vote for the other one, even if they are not going to make things any better. 

The GOP doesn’t have the answer to stagnant wages, rising college costs, healthcare and other problems plaguing working-class Americans. And they know this, that is why they run on wedge issues like gay marriage, prayer in school and abortion, which get voters riled up but have absolutely nothing to do with the economy. Republican policies, such as tax cuts for the rich and deregulation, do nothing for working class people, so the only way they can convince the average American to vote against their interest is by engaging in political bait and switch. This election they focused on anger towards President Obama, and scare tactics such as ebola and ISIS. And although Americans love social programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, they just voted for a party who wants to slash or privatize them.

Republicans also relied on voter suppression tactics and voter ID laws that worked to turn old, poor, black and brown voters away from the polls. In Georgia about 40,000 new registrations from mainly black counties vanished and the Secretary of State’s website crashed on Election Day. In addition, only about 40 percent of voters showed up and many Latino voters also sat out the election. Republicans were also helped by campaign laws which allow billionaires like the Koch brothers to pour million in TV ads. Democrats had to resort to cyberbegging through endless emails pleading for micro payments.

Many Americans simply do not understand how their political system works. Democrats tend to come out in droves for presidential elections, but fail to show up for the midterms. They fail to realize other elected officials, school board members, city council members, state officials, and federal representatives and senators, also play an important part in writing laws that actually affect their lives. The president doesn’t make laws. He can only sign laws presented to him by Congress and those laws depend on if he has liberal or conservative legislators to work with. And the Republicans in Congress have determined to block any legislation Democrats suggested. 

So, if you think reelecting the party who believes tax cuts are a silver bullet to all of the country’s problems is going to improve your life, you are in for a rude awakening. Two terms of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush proved that trickle-down economics don’t work. If they did, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. Giving back power to the party of supply side economics is doomed to fail.

Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email clavell.jackson@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/uroast

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Some Black Obama Critics Are Motivated By Personal Agendas


If you hadn’t noticed, there have been a lot of attacks on President Barack Obama coming from so-called black intellectuals. Self-proclaimed black leaders, such as Dr. Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley have always had a bone to pick with Obama, ever since he got elected. They even went as far as organizing a multi-city bus tour to highlight poverty, which was highly ironic. I am sure the money spent on the bus tour would have probably been better spent on actually helping poor people. But it gave the pair some media publicity and allowed them to peddle their products.

Both West and Smiley’s animosity towards Obama is highly suspect. Smiley is still smarting from a perceived snub. He is upset that when invited he Obama to his annual State of Black America conference in 2008, Obama offered to send his wife instead. Apparently, Smiley was miffed Obama refused to kiss his ring and honor his position as King of the Negroes. West is upset at Obama because he failed to receive enough tickets to the inauguration. Unfortunately, both of these characters have their own petty agendas.

The latest black intellectual to hop on board the hate Obama train is Dr. Boyce Watkins, a finance professor, author and media personality. He has recently been pushing several social media posts, memes and articles stating that Black Americans are worse off under Obama. He recently made a Facebook post where he said black people had been conned into voting for Obama, who was “six years of George W. Bush in blackface.”

Watkins says black wealth has not increased under Obama. However, the United States has been undergoing seismic economic changes in the last 40 years. Manufacturing jobs, which a lot of blacks relied on, have been going overseas. Also much of the black wealth was tied up in real estate and was largely wiped out by the 2008 crash. The problems that led to the real estate bubble can be pinned on both parties, not Obama alone.

Yes, the middle class and Black America is still suffering, but that is largely due to the policies of past governments. I remember talking to a white liberal friend of mine in 2008, who said it might take more than two terms to recover from the damage done by the George W. Bush administration. According to the Washington Post, the George W. Bush administration pushed the deficit over $5 trillion. This was mainly caused by starting two wars and cutting taxes. Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-winning economist, said no country in the history of mankind has gone to war and actually reduced taxes. Krugman also recently penned a Rolling Stone article praising the successes of the Obama administration.

Watkins has handily posted several anti-Obama articles that link back to websites he owns. (One of these sites pays a whopping $4 per post.) Smiley recently said there was no reason for blacks and Latinos to vote at all. You have to wonder why all of this anti-Obama propaganda is coming out just before an election. There are many polls and stories in the media designed to cultivate despondency among Democrats. This is sophisticated propaganda produced to encourage Democratic voters to give up. Republicans want Democratic voters to stay home on election day and believe there is no point in voting, because they are going to lose anyway.

And they are not beyond funneling money to liberal groups to encourage them to snipe at Democrats. According to the Village Voice, Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential campaign was funded by Republicans, who wanted to siphon away votes from the eventual nominee, John Kerry.

I am very disappointed Watkins has become a firebagger, a liberal who is so anti Obama he sounds like a teabagger. I have my issues with Obama too -- I don’t think he is liberal enough -- but I do realize he has to work within the constraints of an almost dysfunctional political system. He also has to work with the Congress and Republicans, who seemed to determined to block any legislation he suggests. Obama is also hamstrung by his race. He has passed some legislation that has benefited Africans Americans, such as Obamacare, reduced drug sentencing, extending unemployment, the black farmers' settlement, ect., but that is not enough for some black people. They don’t seem to realize Obama is president of the United States, not Black America. Also, if he made any attempt to exclusively aid Black Americans, he would be hammered by the Republicans and right-wing media.

If liberals want more progressive legislation, universal health care, more social programs, a higher minimum wage, ect., then they need to vote for representatives and senators who support those policies. Unfortunately, it is darn near impossible for true liberals to get elected, especially to higher offices such as the presidency. Elections are expensive, it takes money to pay for campaign workers, political advertising and travel expenses. In order to fund a campaign, politicians have to raise money from wealthy individuals and corporations. So it's unlikely that, when elected, they will pass laws that will hurt those corporations and individuals.

Some liberals might want to get behind candidates such as Ralph Nader and Sen. Bernie Sanders. But Nader has never won an election in his life. Sanders, an independent, has somehow managed to get elected, but he comes from one of the most liberal states in the union, Vermont. Sanders is one of the few politicians who articulates the problems facing the shrinking middle class, declining wages, healthcare, skyrocketing college education, ect., but I don’t think he will ever be elected president. He is a democratic socialist. And while Americans love their socialist programs, such as public schools, libraries and Medicare, they think socialism is akin to devil worship.

Watkins and other black Obama critics, love to pontificate, but they don’t offer solutions. Watkins, West and Smiley have all never served in elected office and I don’t hear them offering realistic answers to America’s political and economic problems. I would take these critics more seriously if they weren't motivated by their own agendas. I’m all for realistic criticism of Obama’s policies, but when you compare him to George W. Bush, one of the worst presidents of the 20th century, that’s just ridiculous.