Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Birth Of An Industrial Evolution

Not too long ago, Pittsburgh was one of the greatest industrial hubs in the history of the world. Mills and factories employing hundreds of thousands workers once lined the banks of the Ohio, Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers. Back in the 1860 and 1870s, new technologies allowing for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron were being developed and Pittsburgh made itself into the steel producing capital of the world.

Today, the mills and factories that once lined the city's three glorious rivers are gone and some say Pittsburgh's best days are behind us. I say Pittsburgh's best days could be right around the corner. I believe that we have the same type of opportunity our fore-bearers did in the 1860s and 1870s. Instead of investing in heavy rail, coal and building polluting factories, we can create a green industrial revolution that will invest in a new economy that will provide opportunity for all people, while protecting our fragile environment.

Pittsburgh appears to be once again at the crossroads of history. Leaders and citizens from all walks of life are plugging in to the green jobs movement. Yesterday, as part of Green For All's Green Jobs Day of Action hundreds of Pittsburghers participated in the day long series of activities. The day began with speakers, including nationally renowned poet Vanessa German addressing a diverse crowd of grassroots activists, environmentalists, high school students and concerned citizens. We then boarded buses headed for The Healcrest Urban Farm and G-Tech's Larimer Site for hands-on activities. In the afternoon, a rally was held with a number of community leaders and elected officials including City Councilmembers Bill Peduto & Patrick Dowd, State Representatives Joe Preston & Chelsa Wagner and City Controller Michael Lamb. It is refreshing to know we have elected officials who we can count on as allies in this effort to bring green jobs to Pittsburgh.

Don't get it twisted, the politicians weren't the only folks in the house, luminaries such as Christiane D of Soma Mestizo, Paradise Gray from X-Clan/1 Hood and DJ Supa C came through to support the cause. Paradise even got on the mic to hype up the crowd to the chorus of "I'm Ready", as Supa C dropped several classic instrumentals turing Penn Avenue in East Liberty into a makeshift amphitheater. Afterwards I was talking to my homie Franchise, local MC and community organizer. He said to me,
"I listened to speeches and read a lot of material that was being handed out. I never knew the situation was so serious with the environment. At the same time, I didn't know about these solar panels and these green jobs. If we could bring green jobs to the hood, we could deal with the violence and poverty, by giving cats an opportunity to get off the block".

Shouts to everyone who participated in Pittsburgh's Green Jobs Day of Action! Job Well Done.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Soundbite?

Over the past week or so, it seems like Sarah Palin is proving to be more of a One-Hit Wonder than the full package the Governor is being presented as. The media appears weary of the way the McCain campaign is "handling" her, or some would say out right barring her from any uncontrolled interaction with the press. During a clumsy interview with Charlie Gibson, the so-called "Barracuda" was more like a robot repeating pre-programmed responses or a 1980s pop-star doing the 200,000th rendition of their one hit song, pretty uncomfortable to watch.

This week Sarah Soundbite topped herself in her interview with Katie Couric on CBS. I'm not going to ruin it for you, check it out yourself:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Harry Belafonte on the dream, a King and a man who could be President.

This video was taken on August 28th, 2008, the day Barack Obama accepted the democratic nomination, 40 years to the day Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream Speech". Mr. Belafonte, a close friend of Dr. King, took a moment to give his thoughts about the significance of the moment and his hopes for the future, while traveling through my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For information about Harry Belafonte's most recent project "The Gathering for Justice" click here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Every Superhero Needs Theme Music

From Hip Hop DX:
"It's no secret that many musicians have backed Senator Barack Obama in the race for The White House. Although many have already released songs in support of the Senator, plans are also set to release an entire album to show solidarity on the side of Obama.

Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement is the presumed title of the project, said to include artists including Kanye West, John Legend, Jill Scott, and others. It will be available for digital download at $24.99 and $30 for the actual CD through Hidden Beach Recordings. Proceeds will benefit the Obama campaign."

The Obama Campaign purchased the rights to the CD and they have it for sale on their site,, along with a small statement.

"Through their musical contributions, the artists seek to mobilize voters in the final stretch before the November election. Many of the artists involved will also be volunteering their time to promote voter registration."

Here is one of the stellar tracks on the compilation, "Promised Land" featuring Malik Yusef with Kanye West and Adam Levine of Maroon 5

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Re-Birth of a Nation.

“We know all too little about the factors that affect the attitudes of the peoples of the world toward one another. It is clear, however, that color and race are at once the most important and the most enigmatic.” - John Hope Franklin
Over the last 24 hours, an explosive issue has begun to creep back into the national political conscience. This issue has played a central role in American politics since the 18th century and could decide the presidential election on November 4th. As reported yesterday a recent poll suggests that up to 1 in 3 white democrats may not vote for Barack Obama due to racial biases they hold against African-Americans. Today, a Chicago Sun-Times article on the poll went on to say:

"Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks -- many calling them ''lazy,'' ''violent'' or responsible for their own troubles. The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 -- about 2.5 percentage points. Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents. More than a third of all white Democrats and independents -- voters Obama can't win the White House without -- agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views."

“I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office.” - Abraham Lincoln

My friend Selena Zito, wrote an interesting column in the conservative leaning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review entitled "The States of the Unions", exploring the challenges unions in Ohio and Pennsylvania are facing to get members to vote for Barack Obama. PA State AFL-CIO President Bill George is quoted in the article as saying:

"There is no question, earlier in the primary campaign the racial issue was there, just like the gender issue was with Hillary for some unions," he says."We in America like to think we don't have any hang-ups or stereotypes. But because of our history and because of a lot of industrial psychology controlling the masses, people have innate prejudices."

Ben Smith & Avi Zenilman of Politico.Com weighed in on the re-emergence of race as an issue in this election:

"It may not be in Obama's political interests, but the national conversation on race may have just begun. But if Democrats hope to muffle a discussion of race, which polling and reporting have long suggested is a crucial factor in swing states, discussion of it also carries risks for the Republican nominee. McCain has largely steered clear of anything that could be interpreted as race-baiting, and the Republican Party earlier this year warned its officials to stay on message on the sensitive topic".

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The article reminds us that during the democratic primary in New Hampshire when asked "if he would launch another "national conversation about race." Obama responded in the negative. "I'm less interested in a conversation about race in the abstract," he said. "All the self-flagellation, it's not useful. African-Americans get all riled up, and whites get defensive.""

A short two months later, he gave his historic address on race in Philadelphia. He may find himself giving a similar address in a battleground state in the weeks to come.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Race Matters.

What happens when the party that has portrayed itself as a champion for civil rights, diversity and other issues of import to African-Americans, does not close the deal for Barack Obama? This is a storyline yet to be explored in the general election scenario.

What happens if rust-belt and rural democratic strongholds perform considerably poorer than the past two elections? I predict a disastrous post-election backlash from people of color, young people and the left wing of the party. What began as a slam dunk for the democrats could very well turn into the worst implosion down the stretch since the 2007 NY Mets.

Today, a poll came out suggesting that up to 1 in 3 White Democrats may not vote for Obama based on racial bias. Here is a sample of the results:

"Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama,” By Ron Fournier and Trevor Tompson: “Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo! News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks … The poll suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points. …

“More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views."

For many people this is not a revelation, but a validation of their concerns, fears and frustrations about race in America. We'll see how far this country has come on November 4th.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public Expression or Propaganda?

Doctored pictures of John McCain that recently surfaced on renowned photographer Jill Greenberg's website have started a furor and sparked outrage from the GOP nominee's supporters and the "independent"media. The pics, shot for the October cover of the Atlantic Monthly, were later "photoshopped" capturing several very unflattering visuals (see above) of John McCain and caused one helluva firestorm in the process.

The text below is from Slate.Com
"The Atlantic offered an apology to John McCain this week after the photographer for the October cover, Jill Greenberg, posted doctored pictures of the Republican nominee on her personal Web site. It also emerged that Greenberg, a fierce anti-Republican, had photographed McCain for the magazine while he stood over a deliberately unflattering green light. In 2006, Jim Lewis discussed whether "the photographer who makes kids cry" unfairly exploits her subjects."

This a sample of what the Atlantic Monthly had to say about it:
Editors' Note
"We stand by the respectful image of John McCain that we used on our cover, and we expect to be judged by it. We were not aware of the manipulated and dishonest images Jill Greenberg had taken until this past Friday. When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics—instead, we assess their professional track records. We had never worked with Jill Greenberg before (and, obviously, we will not work with her again). Based on the portraits she had done of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and her work for publications like Time, Wired, and Portfolio, we expected her, like the other photographers we work with, to behave professionally. Jill Greenberg has obviously not done that. She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images of John McCain she has created for her Web site."

We're still 40-some days out and the circus has not even truly started.

A New Way To Watch The News!

A locally grown, but nationally known emcee/activist/spiritual leader started dropping the news via hip-hop recently. This Week with Jasiri X kicked off in incredible fashion, combining politics, pop culture, sports and of course, lyrics.

Check out the Keith Olberman of Street Soldierin'

Stay tuned!

Week 1

Week 2

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not to switch topics, but...

Soldiers barking orders at each other is so 20th Century. That's why the U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing "thought helmets" that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone.

From Mark Thompson's article entitled: "The Army's Totally Serious Mind Control Project"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obama Hits Back

For all you Democrats that wanted Barack to hit back, you got your wish.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bram & The Trib weigh in on Ford-Gate.

Today, Bram from the Pgh Comet & The Tribune Review weighed in on the growing suspicion around the administration and its' dealings with the URA. There seems to be a rising tide of questions about how business is being done on Grant Street. Expect a larger chorus of interrogators to descend on the 5th Floor of the City County Building with questions about corruption in the Ravenstahl Administration. Whether the allegations are true, the deeper scrutiny into city affairs will provide a level of transparency that in the end will benefit not only city government itself, but more importantly the taxpayers who support it.

The Trib pulled no punches today in an editorial entitled: A putrid deal: Hush Money It starts off a little something like this...

"Is the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh a corrupt criminal enterprise? Is the administration of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl? We are forced to ask these serious questions in light of activities that reasonable people could conclude suggest both."

If you thought the intro was juicy check out the conclusion...

"Now, the URA will pay Pat Ford six months beyond his contract expiration to prevent him from making further public allegations and from filing a lawsuit. Well, if Ford's allegations are baseless, and therefore reckless, why's he being paid off? And what was Ford going to sue for? He wasn't terminated, he quit, under an ethics cloud, and he's not even in town anymore. This deal is putrid. Somebody's hiding something. Who? And what? Both are great questions for a grand jury."

This morning Mr. Bram from the Pgh Comet provided us with a Keith Olbermann-esque analysis and call to action for all citizen's of Pittsburgh.

"We must make ready to shoulder this burden on our own. Whatever entreaties ought be facilitated to higher authorities have been facilitated already. There's no profit in waiting on avenging angels to do our dirty work.

We should all conduct ourselves as though We the People are the sole arbiters of justice. That should be more than sufficient to throw off this yoke of infantile and self-serving gall.

Woe betide any clique, or Committee, or Conference that dares run interference on behalf of the sordid old status quo in Pittsburgh. Change is inevitable -- fundamental change. The occasion for it is the stale and increasingly ludicrous sameness championed by the callow functionaries presently inhabiting our City Hall.

The levees of machine politics are topping, and they will break soon or sooner still. It only remains to be seen who will be on the leading edge of this change -- who will be scrambling to catch up to it -- and who will be left behind."

Are these voices a militant minority of Luke-Haters? Or does this reflect a bigger problem for the Mayor as the 2009 primary nears. STAY TUNED.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"I would be surprised if they're not already investigating."

From all outward appearances, the grenade Doug Shields tossed across the 5th floor of the City-County building has started something more than just a "small skirmish". It seems like the battle lines are drawn and the troops are lining up in formation.

City Controller Michael Lamb is saying things like, "if the "non-disparagement" clause in the unwritten settlement prohibits Ford from talking to him about an audit of how the URA awards contracts, Lamb will file a legal challenge in an attempt to invalidate it. When asked about federal and state investigations Mr. Lamb said, "I would be surprised if they're not already investigating." Those are ominous signs if you ask me. Foreshadowing for all you poet laureates out there.

In the meantime, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday issued the following statement in response to Council President Shields' letters to the U.S. Attorney and the state Attorney General:

"Doug Shields has forgotten that he was sent to Council to do the people's business, not to promote a political agenda focused on hurting me and aggrandizing himself. As he has communicated to others in the back offices of City Council, he is using his public office in an attempt to hurt people politically, personally and professionally. While my administration and I have been getting the work of the City done, cleaning our neighborhoods, fixing our finances, fighting crime, and resolving potential lawsuits to protect City taxpayers, he has been playing political games. Shame on him.

Over the last two years, through an underwhelming run for citywide office, Shields' use of public funds to advance his political agenda, and his erratic and unprofessional behavior on Council, he and his cohorts have embarrassed themselves, their public offices and this City.

Shields' actions are cheap, ill-motivated and just plain wrong. I have full faith that the people of Pittsburgh see right through Shields, to the truth. It is time for Shields and company to stop playing politics and get back to the business of the City."

Say what you will about Doug Shields, you can bet he knows how to make a Mayor's life a living hell via the Council President's office. Remember this guy helped orchestrate the classic O'Connor vs. Murphy battles in city hall. I can bet this will get more interesting, before it gets less interesting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Doug Shields takes the nuclear option.

As reported by Bob Mayo: Council President Doug Shields has sent requests in writing to US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan and PA Attorney General Tom Corbett to investigate city development affairs. Details to follow.

Wow! That's pretty extreme, don't you think? Looks like the gloves are off down on Grant Street.

More from the P-G: Pittsburgh Council President Doug Shields formally asked the U.S. Attorney and the state Attorney General to investigate city development affairs today, in the wake of yesterday's settlement between the Urban Redevelopment Authority and its former executive director, Pat Ford.

More from the Burgh Report

In the letter addressed to PA Attorney General Tom Corbett and US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, Council President Shields wrote, "With serious allegations of illegal activity acknowledged in writing and nearly $100,000 taxpayer dollars being used in conjunction with what is effectively a gag order on the people raising the allegations, the time has come to put rumor and innuendo to rest and get to the truth. It has become imperative that a fulsome inquiry be conducted because it is only under oath that this matter can be definitively resolved."

What more can I say?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pastor Problem?

Looks like Sarah Palin might have a pastor problem these days. Check it out

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig?

Over the last day or so, Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment has been all over the airwaves. Many wonder if it will have a real impact on the voters, especially working class, older and independent women voters in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania & Ohio.

Will the voters fall for Pig-Gate!

Monday, September 8, 2008

McCain up 10 in Gallup poll?

What the hell's goin' on out here?

Today's USA Today Gallup Poll has McCain up 10% among likely voters, up 4% among registered voters. This is an interesting turn of events when you consider a number of things:

- Obama's nomination speech vs. McCain's nomination speech
- The Obama campaign's VP search vs. the McCain campaign's VP search
- The Democrat's Convention vs. The Republican's Convention

Personally I am baffled. If you examine the three things I just mentioned, any reasonable human being would agree the Dems did better in all three areas. What does this mean? Is the GOP that good? Do they understand the psyche of the American people better? The real question is: Does Sarah Palin really boost the GOP's ticket? Based on recent polling it appears so. At the same time this could be an aberration, but if not the next 50 some odd days will be a helluva fight.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

5 Predictions for the NFL season

As I sit in front of my TV about to watch the kick-off of the NFL season, I am super excited. I truly believe that pro football is the best sport ever invented. The combination of teamwork, strategy and intensity is unparalleled in the world of sport. As you all know, early September begins with hope and promise for 32 teams, only to end in ultimate glory for one team in February 2009 at the Super Bowl. Along with the hope and promise, come the predictions and prognosticators. It is always fun to look back later in the year and make fun of the predictions that were way off and salute the predictions that were dead on. In the spirit of the new season I'm going to get in on the fun, so to speak. So here it is...My top 5 predictions for the NFL season.

5. AFC Championship Game: Pittsburgh vs. San Diego. Roethlisberger and Rivers, now seasoned vets will begin to take their place among Brady and Manning as super elite QBs in the AFC.

4. Chad Johnson will get traded to Oakland. First of all, I refuse to refer to him by his new ridiculous last name. Secondly a true class act like Marvin Lewis (from Western PA, by the way) won't tolerate Chad's foolishness for long. Lastly, Al Davis is only guy in the NFL who will tolerate that kind of foolishness.

3. Favre will take the Jets to the divisional round. The NY media machine will ride the Favre express until early January, overshadowing underachiever turned overachiever Eli Manning. Once the Jets gets dispatched, Madison Ave will refocus on the defending Super Bowl Champs, who will make it to the NFC Championship Game.

2. NFC Championship Game: New York vs. Dallas. Manning and Romo will continue a duel that could become the Steve Young/Troy Aikman rivalry of this era.

1. Adrian Peterson will break the single season rushing record. I feel like there isn't much to explain, if you have seen him play you know what I'm talking about. If not take look at this:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Trooper-Gate Drama in Alaska.

This could literally sink the McCain-Palin ticket. Apparently the results of the investigation are scheduled to be released on October 31st, the Friday before the national election. As time goes on, more holes are being poked into the Palin defense, it looks as if Palin's attorney is trying put the investigation in a holding pattern. One of Palin's staffers was scheduled to testify in front of the investigatory body, but under advisement from Palin's attorneys he did not show up.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, September 1, 2008

May be more to Palin scandal in Alaska.

The Palin corruption scandal may have some legs. If I was the GOP i'd want the focus to stay on the teen pregnancy story. Allegedly, the first term Governor used her office to pressure state employees to fire her former brother in law. The incident is under investigation and Governor Palin has retained an attorney.

Here's a link to a recent AP article:

Below is a Youtube that really breaks it down and raises red flags!

The Fall Sprint has begun...

I spent last week in the euphoria of the of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO. A week that started semi-shaky with loud grumblings from Clinton loyalists, ended in dramatic fashion with a unified and renewed democratic party, a party poised to dominate American politics for the next 25 years.

I first arrived in Denver just hours before the Joe Biden announcement. As I walked the then empty streets of Denver's growing western metropolis, I couldn't have anticipated the impact of the week's events.

Major highlight's included: SEIU's kickoff party, the CBC Insitute's party, the Youth Council's press conference, the America Votes/Catalist briefing, the Vote Hope luncheon, the Bus Project's block party, Planned Parenthood's party, Rock the Vote's Party and Joe Biden's address to the PA delegation on Thursday morning.

The most incredible thing about the week was the build up of momentum. On Sunday, Monday & Tuesday, things moved quite slow and there still was some sense of disunity in the party. But beginning on Wednesday a crescendo began to build culminating with Bill Clinton surgical masterpiece and Joe Biden's colorful oratory.

On Thursday morning it was clear. Democrats were unified and understand the importance of this election. Throughout the day, you could feel the energy in the city streets from Governors to Janitors to even the street vendors who selling t-shirts that said, "Black Man Running... And It Aint from the Police".

As I walked up to the stadium I was in complete awe. To be in a building filled with 90,000 women and men of all races, ages, lifestyles, income levels, religions and backgrounds waving flags, singing and dancing for the purpose to moving our country into a more enlightened age was deeply humbling. Yeah I said it, "waving flags, singing and dancing", it sounds corny until you're right in it. It makes you think
man, love of country can be a beautiful thing.

As I left out of the stadium, I felt a collective sense of purpose, unity and mission that I didn't feel on Monday and Tuesday. It wasn't until I watched the replay did I realize how amazing the event looked on TV. The imagery, the message and delivery places this event in the pantheon of great political rallies.

Now the hard work begins to ensure that last night is truly the beginning of a reawakening in this country, the birthing of a New America, a New World and brighter future for all of humanity.