• Paul Ryan is an idiot. Most of us know this already. So it was no surprise that he would attempt to woo Obama Derangement Syndrome sufferers with the following patented dogwhistle:

    The above conjures up the ages-old image of the indolent Negro and the equally old argument that a Negro whose back was not under the direct path of an overseer's whip was a Negro bound for a life of excessive sloth and inexcusable leisure. Therefore, it was nearly a moral imperative to "encourage" otherwise indolent Negroids to donate their sweat equity to the cause of hard labor for his white American betters. The
    "convict lease" programs of the early 20th century were more or less an involuntary push to deliver the Negro from the ills of idleness.

    Fast-forwarding to the modern era, scolding the black community over the lack of well-paying jobs and the resultant poverty is a comforting pastime for conservatives and quite a few progressives, as well. Solving the actual problems of poverty and joblessness among inner city black Americans requires a structural teardown and rebuild of our society, something that many Americans are loath to do. Instead, it's much easier to scold from afar, although that does as much good as blaming a man who woke up in the eye of a hurricane for his current predicament.

    Suggesting that poverty and joblessness are cultural problems allows people to equate systemic failures among a group of people as a moral and personal failing of said group. It makes it that much easier to dismiss inner city black Americans as a lazy, shiftless lot unwilling to do a hard day's work - consequently an echo to those times when even an accusation of loitering spelled swift imprisonment under the employ of a farm or a mining company, for starters. Nevermind that job prospects for black Americans have always been dismal.

    Ryan's feigned pseudo-sincerity over the inner city black American's plight exists only to gain an edge in the popularity polls and all the electoral advantages they offer.

  • One of the many problems that come with dealing with the fallout from ingrained, institutionalized racism isn't just knowing who your allies on the other side of the color line are, but whether or not you can trust them to not backstab you for their own gain or to score points with their own.

    That's the problem W. Kamau Bell faced during his recent appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher:

    Mr. Maher started off the segment with Mr. Ryan’s recent comments about inner city poverty and the cultural dynamics that perpetuate such cycles. The HBO host then asked if Mr. Ryan was simply making an honest observation or something motivated by racial ill will.

    Comedian W. Kamau Bell intimated that some sort of racial malice was involved.

    “You can’t blame the people living in the inner cities, blacks and latinos, for not having jobs where there are no jobs in the inner cities. You can’t blame them when the schools suck, the hospital sucks, there’s no grocery store, all of their fathers are in jail,” Mediaite reported. The panel’s fellow left-leaning guest agreed.

    Then the “Real Time” host tricked his guests, saying: “Let me read something else. Here’s something else Paul Ryan said. He said: ‘When it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. They’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader — they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.’ Oh wait, that wasn’t him. That was Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama said that.”

    The camera showed Mr. Bell stunned, at which point Mr. Maher turned to the audience and said: “Hushed silence! […] Is something less true if a white person says it about black people?”

    Note that this comes on the heels of Paul Ryan's recent pontification on "inner city" individuals. And Mr. Bell's response?

    “We talk to each other differently than when we talk to [white people],” Mr. Bell responded.

    Which goes on to illustrate yet another problem that comes with dealing with ingrained, institutionalized racism: a sometimes deliberate lack of understanding by white American liberals of how black Americans see the problems before them, how white conservatives and the unreconstructed see them and a failure to recognize context.

    The First Lady's statements come from a place of genuine concern and understanding of the problems black Americans face in the inner city.

    Paul Ryan's statements come from a place of malice towards and a vocal disdain of said black Americans, for the benefit of his unreconstructed supporters and constituents.

    Listening to Ryan's aired commentary, I'm reminded of Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern's similar assessment of black Americans and other minorities, this time laced in that sugary, patronizing "bless your little heart" tones that struggle to pass for feigned concern. Wondering why Negros just can't seem to get themselves together remains quite the national pastime.

    Meanwhile, Bell didn't get bamboozled so much that he was caught flatfooted behind what was essentially a betrayal by someone he thought was on the same page. He tried to brace himself for getting sucker-punched by someone looking to score points by unearthing a "black leftist racist" on his show, presumably for whatever shock value that'd get him...and he still "got slept."

    He was so shocked that he couldn't articulate why it was disingenuous of Maher to treat those two statements from two ideologically different people of different backgrounds as one and the same, or better yet, as vindication for anyone looking to tar and feather black liberal thinkers and commentators as somehow more racist than their white counterparts. As I've found out myself, talking about racism among such people invites accusations that it's you who's the "real racist," as the best way to "end" racism is to stop talking about it, even if it involves conversation on how to resolve it.

  • As of this moment, yours truly is doing his best to navigate through the Healthcare.gov site, but between the constant waiting and error messages (how can your account get locked after you tried logging in for the first time?), it's not going well. The deadline itself is being pushed back for those who got started on their applications. More to come later on.

  • Conservatives have a man-crush on this man because he's literally their anti-Obama - a certifiably white and notably conservative leader of a country that's historically taken no shit from others and does its best to operate from a position of strength, whether its real or perceived. And right about now, they're hoping Vlad will do something or say something that makes the president look or sound like a complete chump.

    And while ordinary conservatives are smooching and tonguing a poster of shirtless Putin in all his middle-aged pectoral glory, neoconservatives are cultivating semis over the possibility of fulfilling their dream of tangoing mano-a-mano with the ruskies as a part of their wet dream of a "three front war" - with Syria, Iran and Russia as the battlefields for endless military offensives performed either directly by U.S. troops or through a collection of proxy fighters loaded with the finest in U.S. military hardware.

    Meanwhile, what Vladimir Putin likely wants more than anything is to make sure the U.S. and other western powers dispense with encircling Russia with a motley crew of U.S. and west-friendly nations. It's something the Russians have been paranoid about for ages.

    He also realizes that at this point, the ball is completely in his court - after all, he's the one who figured it was a good idea to emulate America's M.O. of invading and occupying countries on the pretense of insuring a continued "democracy" that best benefits U.S. and western interests. Except he did it to a nation aspiring to westernness (in the form of entry into the European Union) in full view of the rest of the E.U. Right now, the most pressing question likely on Putin's mind is how to maintain a grip on Russian naval interests in Crimea without sparking a messy war with NATO and the U.S.

    Given the recent phone call between POTUS and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it's implied that either Vlad's under as much pressure as POTUS or he's completely lost the plot.

  • After months of following the Bitcoin saga, I still don't get what the big deal is about it. To me, it's cryptography willed into electronic currency by a bunch of people in search of a tech-driven way to fulfill libertarian principle while sticking it to the IRS and financial institutions everywhere. Meanwhile, Mt. Gox somehow went from trading Magic the Gathering gaming cards online to trading said electronic currency. It's all volatile as hell and if you weren't in it before everyone rushed in for a quick buck, you'll wind up spending thousands of dollars in equipment and utility costs just to extract a few hundred in e-coins that you can't even exchange for fiat currency properly.

    So it was no surprise to me when the entire thing looked like it was going up in smoke. Bitcoin just seemed to have "ponzi scheme" written all over it.

    And despite a number of people and stores taking Bitcoin, I highly doubt it's gonna be the wave of the future as far as currency's concerned, but then again, that's just the natural-born cynic in me.

    As a side-note, Dogecoin is just downright adorable. So coin.

  • It's been a while since yours truly mentioned the case of Jordan Davis on DDSS. After reading Tom Degan's thoughts on Davis and his killer, Michael Dunn, I figured it was time to share my own thoughts on the case.

    1) People say Michael Dunn was "threatened" by Davis and his friends and "feared for his life." I find it hard for any adult to be threatened by the empty bluster of teens being told to turn down that "rap crap" by some white guy. The excuse of him thinking there was a weapon in the car was just that - an excuse.

    2) Had Jordan Davis and his companions been the stereotypical gangbangers that most God-fearing Americans quake in fear of, chances are Dunn would had kept walking and minded his own business. Even the most rabid bigots know that approaching people who can do genuine harm to you and yours is an unnecessary risk. In comparison, approaching a bunch of teenagers minding their own business is nowhere near as risky, in most cases.

    3) Had Jordan Davis and his companions been ordinary white suburban kids playing Slayer at max volume, chances are Dunn wouldn't had been inclined to be "threatened" by them or shoot them "in fear of his life." He'd probably yell at them to turn their crap down, shook his head in anguish and went about his way.

    4) The lack of a murder conviction was a tragedy in its own right. If anything, it sent yet another clear message to the black community when it comes to themselves and their young: "it's open season."

    5) The common denominator between this and other similar cases throughout the U.S. and throughout history? An entitled white American male felt it was well within his right to exercise his personal authority over a person of color, usually one younger, weaker and/or less-advantaged than himself. Upon not receiving the immediate, proper deference as felt deserved of his kind, said white American male then felt entitled to reaffirm said person of color's proper place at the feet of white American mankind - even if that meant putting that person of color several feet in the ground.

    In that regard, Jordan Davis lucked out in being cut down with bullets. Decades ago, he and his friends would have been forcibly transformed into "strange fruit."

    6) I have no faith in Angela Corey's abilities to bring a first-degree murder retrial to fruition, let alone one that results in a conviction against Dunn. The only comfort is the possibility of Dunn serving all three attempted second-degree murder sentences (20 years minimum) consecutively, resulting in a total 60 years to serve. If anything, I expect all three sentences to be issued concurrently, putting Dunn in his late sixties when he's eventually released, provided time isn't shaved off his sentence for "good behavior."

    7) Admittedly, I've only heard bits and pieces of the interview of Dunn's neighbor. What little I've heard has been enlightening as far as Dunn's personal character is concerned. If you didn't think much of Dunn as a human being, this interview practically confirms it.

    8) What happens to Michael Dunn is no longer important to me. I'm more concerned about the environment that allows the likes of Dunn to, for all intents and purposes, to get away with murdering young, nonthreatening black boys and men. If the environment does not change or if black Americans don't make greater strides to protect their young from this historical type of predation, more cases like these will happen.

    9) Many people blame "black criminality" while wielding the latest FBI crime statistics like a medieval mace. Not only are said stats often interpreted to highlight crime among black Americans as some sort of devastating epidemic that warrants the black community's undivided attention, they're also trotted out to distract from the historic problem of disaffected whites exercising their rights to upbraid and put blacks back in line as they see fit. Predictably, someone somewhere will see all of this and think yours truly is "excusing the black crime epidemic" or "making excuses for blacks."

    Yours truly wishes he had the time and funding to construct a massive third digit upon which these folks could collectively mount themselves on and rotate, preferably at as high a speed as possible.

    10) Creshuna Miles is wrong. She apparently fell for the "justice" bit hook, line and sinker, allowing another injustice to take place.

  • You'd figure the Ku Klux Klan would be a nascent relic of the bad old days long gone. In spite of the sheer terror inspired by these and countless other groups at the height of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era, it remains hard for many folks to take seriously a bunch of bed sheet and bath robe-wearing imbeciles with a remarkable persecution complex. Nevertheless, the following should give anyone brief pause:

    Deal: "Why do you want your face covered here?"
    Grand Dragon: "Because I care about my job."
    The two claim to be part of an invisible empire.
    "We have police officers, paramedics, judges," said the grand dragon. "They're everywhere."
    And the members said they're 1,000 members strong and growing.
    "You start looking at numbers, start looking at census and you realize whites are the minority," said the other klansman.
    That's why he joined a year ago, saying he's interested in preserving the white race.

    Unless you're a FBI agent deep undercover within these groups, it's hard to suss out whether or not this is all just hot air. But given the predilection of law enforcement officials to heap abuse on minorities and for legal system representatives to stack the deck against them, it's something that'll undoubtedly occupy the backs of many a minority's mind.

    And that's the thing. In many cases, no one knows what lurks in the hearts of men and women, especially when it involves them dealing with black Americans and other minorities. Whereas the Deep South and other places touched by Jim Crow proudly wore their collective racism on their sleeves for all the world to see, today's racism comes in a variety of innocuous and covert forms. With overt racism relegated to society's dustbin, many of the unreconstructed among us have opted for a quieter, more covert form of bigotry involving dog whistles, code words and a simple refusal to air their views in "polite company."

    For many minorities, it's nearly impossible to know if the smiling face they see in front of them hides a butcher's knife intended for their back. Black Americans and other minorities have plenty of reason to be distrustful of their white counterparts, often to the detriment of white Americans who mean well but are nonetheless slighted by what they process as "black racism."

    When you think about it, there's already an "invisible empire" of police, judges and others of authority, but you won't see them at the next Wednesday night cross burning ceremony - they're not interested in what the Klan has to offer. Instead, its a tangled web of individual prejudices, whether personally held or institutionally or parentally indoctrinated, converging into a matrix of racism that transcends boundaries. Chances are this "invisible empire" has little to no inkling that it's working to maintain the white status quo through millions of individual movements, but that's exactly what's happening.

    There's something else that's freaking the hoods right out:

    "You start looking at numbers, start looking at census and you realize whites are the minority," said the other klansman.

    The writing is on the wall, according to recent U.S. Census studies - it expects white Americans to fall into minority status as soon as 2043. A sobering thought for anyone who subscribes to Racial Holy War (RaHoWa) theory and obsesses over the Turner Diaries. Fears of turnabout being fair play with "Whitey" in the minority's seat is driving what I can only accurately describe as a terminal case of psychosis within the ranks of the unreconstructed and a rush to embrace the same sort of "victimhood" that black Americans get taken to the woodshed over on a regular basis. Better to prepare for the inevitable, I suppose.

    Unfortunately, many other Americans are preparing in other ways, namely by hoarding more guns and adopting a quasi-survivalist's mentality that relegates the cities to the so-called "chimps," "thugs" and "liberals," while "real Americans" hunker down in concrete bunkers while burning their own dung and filtering their own piss through expensive water purification systems, all while watching "zombies" descend on the Super Bowl on a flatscreen TV attached to one of several brand-new generators they had stocked up during the last "scare."

    As for the Klan itself, exposing many of these hood-doning cowards would quickly thin out the ranks until only the most unrepentant were left. And for all of their bravado, they and other white supremacist groups will never express the desire to take on the likes of the Black P-Stones, Gangsters Disciples, MS13 or any other well-armed and well-seasoned minority gangs. As any sensible predator would have it, only the weak and vulnerable will do.
  • Last time on DDSS, yours truly brought to you a comparison between the criminal trial of Amanda Knox and that of Richard Hinds and James Blackston. Since then, there have been a few developments.

    Predictably, Hinds and Blackston were convicted and sentenced to 5 to 10 years and 3 years, respectively. However, Hinds testified that Japanese police officials altered his statement to secure a more ironclad case:

    At the Tokyo District Court, Hinds stated that Furlong had repeatedly asked him to put his hand on her neck. He says that he did so, but only used light pressure for periods of 30 seconds, and that’s what he told the Japanese police. Hinds’ lawyer is arguing that his statement was changed, and police wrote that he used pressure for periods of “two or three minutes.”

    Do take care to flag and report the unsavory comments left by individuals who are absolutely tumescent over the prospect of a black male being treated at the hands of the Japanese prison system. Right about now, someone somewhere is looking up the katakana for "prison bitch."

    Meanwhile, you'd think that Amanda Knox would be somewhere working out a book deal on her harrowing ordeal at the hands of Italian law enforcement while savoring her new-found freedom.

    Turns out that freedom might be fleeting, after all:

    Amanda Knox said in an emotional interview on Friday that news of the Italian court reinstating her murder conviction in the 2007 killing of her British roommate Meredith Kercher hit her "like a train."

    "I did not expect this to happen," Knox told Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America. "I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent before."

    The 26-year-old shared a house in the Italian town of Perugia with Kercher, then 21, who was found partially naked in a pool of blood, her throat slashed.

    Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 29, were convicted of the crime in 2009 and had spent four years in prison before their acquittal in 2011.

    However, Italy’s highest court overturned the acquittal and ordered a new appeal, saying the first was riddled with “shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies.”

    Though she was not in the Florence courtroom Thursday when Judge Alessandro Nencini sentenced her to 28 years and six months in prison, more than the 26 years she received at her first trial in 2011, she told Roberts she watched an Italian television station online to hear the verdict.

    "I needed to hear it for myself," she said. "My whole family was there and I was listening and I'm the only one who knows Italian and I'm trying to listen and then tell them."

    If the conviction's upheld, Knox will likely find herself on a one-way flight back to Italy:

    "I will never go willingly back to the place where I ...," she said, pausing. "I'm going to fight this to the very end. It's not right and it's not fair. ... I'm going to do everything I can."

    Apparently, Knox's (ex) boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito knew what was up and attempted to book it out of Italy, but wound up being stopped short of the Slovenian and Austrian borders.

    It's amazing how circumstances can change in a short amount of time.
  • Courtesy of Bowdoin College

    Until recently, the heartbreaking tale of Malaga Island remained buried within the recesses of Maine's collective history, largely as something most wanted lost in the sands of time. And like the stories surrounding Rosewood, Florida and the Greenwood community of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it's a story where prejudice and hatred took center stage to annihilate a community:

    A century ago this spring, Maine Gov. Frederick Plaisted oversaw the destruction of a year-around fishing hamlet on Malaga Island, a 42-acre island in the New Meadows River, just off the Phippsburg shore. The island's 40 residents -- white, black and mixed race -- were ordered to leave the island, and to take their homes with them, else they would be burned. A fifth of the population was incarcerated on questionable grounds at the Maine School for the Feebleminded in New Gloucester, where most spent the rest of their lives. The island schoolhouse was dismantled and relocated to Louds Island in Muscongus Bay.

    Leaving no stone unturned, state officials dug up the 17 bodies in the island cemetery, distributed them into five caskets and buried them at the School of the Feebleminded -- now Pineland Farms -- where they remain today.

    Several islanders spent the rest of their lives in this state-run mental institution. One couple, Robert and Laura Darling Tripp, floated from place to place in a makeshift houseboat, but, unwelcomed, wound up moored to another scrap of an island. Malnourished, Laura fell sick during a gale; when her husband returned with help, he found the couple's two children clinging to her lifeless body. Many others suffered from the stigma of being associated with the island.

    "After the island was cleared, people did not really want to talk about this incident, especially the descendants, because to raise your hand and say you were from Malaga supposedly meant you were feebleminded or had black blood in you or both," said Rob Rosenthal, whose 2009 radio documentary "Malaga: A Story Better Left Untold" helped draw attention to what is one of the most disgraceful official acts in our state's history. "Nobody wanted to declare that."

    The prelude to Malaga Island's wholesale clearing rings similar to the events preceding the destruction of Rosewood and Greenwood - whereas the latter involved the perceived threat of miscegenation through sexual assault, Malaga Island was a community where not only did black and white Americans co-mingle freely, but the threat of miscegenation was realized through the presence of mixed families on the island. By all counts, that was something that neither the eugenicists of the era nor those who endorsed their views could abide by:

    But the shell middens offered no protection from Gov. Plaisted, who visited the obscure island with his entire executive council in July 1911. That December, the governor ordered the eviction of the community, and officials institutionalized eight residents, some for failing to identify a telephone (which none had likely seen) or for not knowing that William Howard Taft had succeeded Teddy Roosevelt as president. Those who remained were given payments for their homes and ordered to leave -- with or without them -- by the first of July, 1912.

    Later that year, the cemetery was cleared and the island sold to a close friend and business partner of the chair of Plaisted's executive council, Dr. Gustavus C. Kilgore of Belfast, who played a central role in the creation of the governor's policies, including signing the commitment orders for those sent to New Gloucester.

    Nobody has lived on the island since.

    A Sun Journal article (Google cached version here) describes how the island came under ownership of the MCHT:

    In 2001, the MCHT bought Malaga Island from a man who sold it at a bargain price because he wanted the island to be preserved. He wanted to keep developers away and he wanted local fishermen to continue using the island.

    "But for this generous landowner," says Rich Knox, communications director at MCHT, "there would be houses out here. There would be no archeology, no education. If it wasn't for land conservation, you wouldn't have these kinds of places."

    Now this is interesting. I'd like to know about this man and anyone else who came into ownership of the island after Kilgore.

    It took nearly a century for the state of Maine to express regret and issue an apology. That's another common thread linking Greenwood, Rosewood and Malaga Island together. The passage of time does a lot of things. It dries freshly drawn blood and turns hot, vivid pain into a dull, distant ache. It makes people forget, especially if what's to be remember is buried under the ever-growing rubble of history itself.

    But for better or worst, it makes talking about events such as those on Malaga Island "safe" to talk about, as the people involved in this injustice are themselves long in the ground and therefore only culpable in the eyes of history. The descendants of those who perpetrated this terrible act are also removed from any culpability by virtue of time. All that's left is the descendants of the victims and their willingness to make the world aware of what happened. And, of course, the various historians and archaeologists tasked with studying what life was like before the community was destroyed:

    Malaga's people were certainly poor. The island's soil is inappropriate for farming, and fishing, laboring or doing laundry and carpentry for mainlanders didn't pay well. Their homes were modest, and one family lived in a converted ship's cabin. Some relied on charity from the town to get through the winter, and in 1908 private donors stepped in to help build an island school. School ledgers have survived.

    "The papers written by the students show their penmanship was perfect and their spelling was better than mine," said Lynda Wyman, a trustee at the Phippsburg Historical Society, which also will have a small Malaga exhibit this summer. "It absolutely shows that kids were educated, not illiterate or so-called feebleminded or any of those things."

    Archaeological digs by University of Southern Maine researchers Nathan Hamilton and Robert Sanford show the islanders caught lobsters, shellfish, cod and even swordfish. Thousands of buttons near the home of the island's laundress attest to how much washing she took in from Phippsburg's boardinghouses.

    They built their homes on piles of discarded clam, mussel and scallop shells because they could be made level and provided excellent drainage. In doing so, they inadvertently gave a valuable gift to 21st-century archeologists.

    "The shell middens protected almost all the artifacts and household stuff they mixed into it, and we actually know who lived on each spot," Hamilton said. "To actually have a patch of ground where we know the name and age of the individuals associated with it, their race, their jobs and when they lived there -- that's really interesting and unique."

    These people made a life for themselves, free of the interference, strife and hardship that was endemic in many places where various forms of prejudice were tolerated and even given legal sanction. And because the community's existence upset the sensibilities of a powerful few while giving license to naked greed, Frederick Plaisted and his executive council found ample justification to right what they saw as a wrong and, in the process, committed a crime that cast a lingering pall over Phippsburg and the rest of the state for an entire century.

    The events that happened afterward were especially appalling. To erase practically every single trace of the inhabitants' existence from the island by unearthing and removing its dead meant harboring a blinding, intense hatred and nearly unfathomable disrespect. To declare a fifth of the population as "feebleminded" and condemn them to a life of unjustified institutionalization required a mind attuned to the belief of the Negro and those who deigned to mix with them as "feebleminded" as any mentally ill individual. To re-intern those dead on the same grounds of that institution required pure, unadulterated malice.

    It didn't just border on evil - it practically was.

    The first step of reconciliation involves admitting you were wrong, but that's only the beginning:

    Relatives of the Malaga evictees say having a high-profile exhibit at the state's official museum is cathartic, but there is another step Voter would still like to see. "Closure for me is to return the bodies to the island because my aunts died there believing their bones would become part of it," she said. "Removing the bodies was the difference between eviction and annihilation."

  • We all know how tone-deaf Republicans tend to get when it comes to women's issues. Par for the course for those folks. In an effort to go against type and score those sweet, precious political points, Mike Huckabee crafted what Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post describes as a "three-coil steamer." Well, she's being extraordinarily polite here:

    I think it’s time for Republicans to no longer accept listening to Democrats talk about a war on women. Because the fact is, the Republicans don’t have a war on women. They have a war FOR women. For them to be empowered; to be something other than victims of their gender. Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war ON them, it’s a war FOR them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing or them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let’s take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, Enough of that nonsense.

    This, from the same folks who brought to you mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds and cockneyed theories about rape, birth control and pregnancy.

    But even if Huckabee's "Uncle Sugar" speech went over like a lead balloon with women everywhere, at least it resonated with the base. A recent poll shows Huckabee in the top spot for the GOP presidential primary for 2016:

    Following the controversy over his 'Uncle Sugar' speech Mike Huckabee has...taken the lead in the Republican primary race for 2016. He's at 16% to 14% for Jeb Bush, 13% for Chris Christie, 11% for Rand Paul, 8% each for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, 6% for Scott Walker, and 5% for Bobby Jindal.

    There's been more movement than usual over the last month, with Huckabee and Bush each gaining 3-4 points, and Chris Christie and Ted Cruz each falling by 6 points. Cruz had been leading the field among 'very conservative' voters for months but in the wake of Huckabee's press attention last week he's taken the top spot with that group. He's at 20% to 15% for Paul, 11% for Cruz, and 10% for Bush. In the wake of Bridgegate Christie's supremacy with moderate voters is being challenged- a month ago he led Bush by 23 points with them, but now his advantage is down to 3 points at 28/25.

    The same poll also shows Sarah Palin winning the "Ms. Congeniality" prize of "best liked person."

  • Yesterday, yours truly had the pleasure of being trapped in the midst of Atlanta's very own Snowmageddon. A couple of inches of snow and scads of ice turned a 30-minute trip into a seven-hour ordeal. But at least I didn't have to spend the night in a grocery store or a school, as hundreds had to overnight.

    The above shot is I-75 facing northbound, a ghost town compared to last night. Meanwhile...

    - It doesn't take much for black Americans to lose their lives in these United States. For instance, all you have to do is inspect a shed on your newly-purchased property:

    A man from Barboursville, W.Va., fatally shot his new neighbor and the neighbor’s brother without warning as the two men were inspecting their property, New York's Daily News reports.

    Rodney Bruce Black, 62, told authorities that he thought his victims were breaking into a building he owned. However, although the building is on land that once belonged to Black’s family, that was not the case anymore.

    One of the victims, Garrick Hopkins, 60, and his wife had just purchased the property next door to Black and were planning to build a house within the next few weeks, Sheriff Tom McComas told the Daily News on Monday. Hopkins invited his brother, Carl, who was 61, to inspect the property with him Saturday afternoon.

    Black saw the two men looking into a shed and, allegedly without warning or calling the police, took his rifle and fired at the men. They died at the site. Both men leave behind their wives and children.

    Of course, race isn't being factored into the shooting.

    - Then again, it doesn't take much for anyone to lose their life, these days. Could you imagine getting killed over poetry?

    - The parents of this seven-year-old girl are thankful their child wasn't killed behind this:

    7-year-old girl suffered a mild concussion after she was beaten unconscious by four boys at Thomas Claggett Elementary School in District Heights, Md., on Tuesday, Fox 5 reports.

    The incident occurred during a recess in the school's gym, into which 75 students were allegedly crammed, with only about five teachers supervising the crowd. The teachers apparently did not see the attack.

    The girl was taken to the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

    Needless to say, her parents are outraged and can't fathom how this could have happened, the news site reports.

    "That's my baby. I bring her to school and that's the last thing I expect is a phone call informing me that my daughter is unconscious," the girl’s mother, Phersephone Holland, told the station.

    Her father, Rodney Smyers, said this was not the first time his daughter had been bullied and attacked at the school, having come home with bruises before.

    "One incident, she came home, she had a split in her lip," he said, acknowledging that he had not expected school officials to allow the situation to get this out of hand. "It's an ongoing problem."

    An ongoing problem that school officials apparently won't take seriously until someone dies or lawyers get involved. I say it's past time for the parents to open a can of legal whup-ass on the school district.

    - Remember the as-of-yet unidentified 18-year-old who flung racial insults at Kim Kardashian, resulting in a quick laying of hands by Rev. Kanye West of the Church of Yeezus? Guy's looking for a cash settlement. Figures.

    - Unlike most people, I could care less about what Justin Bieber's doing. Whatever it is, he'll get off lightly and not miss a beat.

    - I could also care less about some white Russian socialite making an ass of herself. The only lesson she'll learn from this is how to hide her fetish for "ethnic furniture" a bit better.

    - Contrary to what designated bleach-blonde talking head Martha MacCallum thinks, the solution to sky-high arrest rates for minorities isn't abstinence from demon weed.

    - Twitter finally sees Black Twitter. As a potential cash cow. Funny how certain black issues, activities and products only get recognized when someone finally figures out how to make money off of them.

    - In his State of the Union address, President Obama threatened to veto a new sanctions bill for Iran, in light of careful negotiations over that nation's nuclear program:

    “The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible,” he said, but added, “let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.”

    Which sent the co-sponsor of said bill, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) walking sideways away from it:

    “I did not sign it with the intention that it would ever be voted upon or used upon while we’re negotiating,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “I signed it because I wanted to make sure the president had a hammer if he needed it and showed him how determined we were to do it and use it if we had to. But with that being said we’ve got to give peace a chance here and we’ve got to support this process.”

    Introducing a new set of sanctions on Iran in the middle of diplomatic talks smacks of the highest levels of stupid.

    To those in the Atlanta metro area, stay warm and stay safe. Winter Storm Leon's work isn't done just yet and the state of Georgia is still under a state of emergency.

  • For those who didn't get a chance to catch the 2014 State of the Union address or just want to watch it again, here it is in its entirety.

    The White House also has a transcript of the full address. Thoughts from yours truly are forthcoming.