Category Archives: United States

As Grammys Take Center Stage, Music Industry Must Also Confront #TimesUp

Billed as ‘Music’s Biggest Night’, the Grammy Awards, the very public face of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, o have become a staple of awards season.  Musicians all over the planet follow the nominees with anticipation, watch the annual event and dream of one day being able to share the Grammy stage, thank the Recording Academy, and take home the gold.

The Grammy Awards also pride themselves on being much more than an award show.  As one of the most prominent representations of the Music Industry, it’s no surprise that the artists and creators within are often committed to be on the leading edge of important social change.  As TMZ reports, this Sunday’s show is no different…

The white rose movement at the Grammys has florists scrambling to fill TONS of orders … the demand is so overwhelming they’ve had to turn away business.

We talked to a bunch of NYC flower shops who tell us they’ve fielded a crazy number of requests for white roses that Grammy attendees plan to wear Sunday at Madison Square Garden. As you know … guests are wearing them to show solidarity with the Time’s Up movement. It’s music’s version of the black gowns at the Golden Globes.

Kelly ClarksonHalseyCyndi and Rita Ora are among the many artists who plan to take part. We’re told Warner Music Group alone ordered 100 white roses for their Grammy festivities.

But in the #TimesUp era, visual statements are truly just the beginning, and they alone fall far short of the systemic change needed in the Music Industry.  Much like Hollywood, the professional world of music is full of gender bias, inequity, prejudice and misogyny.  The world has watched as artist Kesha had to fight for her very career against alleged abuser and long-time music Producer Dr. Luke… just one out of hundreds of tragic stories.  But even in the less extreme, women in the music industry still have far fewer options than their male counterparts.

This may seem shocking to some, as some of the most powerful women in entertainment today– Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele– come from the world of music.  But as lead artists and mega-stars, they are brave, bold exceptions to a tragic rule.

Take the field of Music Production, where female perspectives remain woefully few in 2018.  For a music project, such as an album, a Producer is the equivalent of the Director in a film… they take the songs as written, and do what’s necessary to bring them into fruition.  In the entire 43 year history of The Grammys, a woman has never won for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.  Though music legend Janet Jackson made history in 1990 as the first woman ever nominated for a Producer of the Year award, sadly only 7 other women have been as widely recognized for their Production work… Paula Cole, Sheryl Crow, Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin and Lauren Christy. Yes, in 43 years, only 8 women have been nominated! 

This year’s nominees?? All male.

And that’s not for a lack of trying.  Industry powerhouses like Madonna, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have produced throughout their respective discographies.  Many prominent female artists have copious production work not only for themselves but also other artists, including Missy Elliott and Linda Perry, among the most prolific.  But time and again, these voices are locked out of the production booth, and therefore locked out of an important seat at music’s most powerful table.  In this arena, the non-classical sphere should take an important cue from their counterparts in classical music.

As we all know, misogyny is more than just the locking of doors to deny opportunity, favor or understanding. It also shows up in how those in how those qualities are distributed in a controversy. Speaking of Jackson, most Americans probably remember one of the biggest stories of 2004– the infamous wardrobe malfunction, and massive fallout which occurred from the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.

In the midst of the firestorm were two artists… Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, both of whom were scheduled to appear at the Grammy Awards. Ms. Jackson, a 5-time Grammy winner multiple nominee and industry icon, was asked not to attend just before the show, while Timberlake not only kept his invitation, but went on to win major awards that night and practically laughed off the situation.  Jackson, in the midst of being lambasted by all corners of the press, also had to endure a cold shoulder from the music industry’s signature organization.

The Grammys have yet to apologize to Ms. Jackson, and she has not attended the awards show since that time.

Over the last year, a tectonic shift has begun in the very structure of American society. As we move away from the ‘default settings’ of resting power into the mostly male archetype, it’s hugely important that the music community stands up and speaks out on Grammy night. And after the celebration and parties conclude, it will be time to do some real work towards equality and respect.

Time’s Up.

Bargaining CHIP: To Side Step Dreamers, Republicans Hold CHIP Hostage For Government Funding

Wow, they did it.  The Republicans really did it.

The Same Party whose current leader, and President has insulted America’s immigrant communities at every turn…

The Same Party whose Governors, Attorneys General and GOP-dominated State Legislatures sued Former President Obama’s Administration when they tried to provide sensible Deferred Action for young Immigrants and keep families together (remember DAPA, anyone??)…

The Same Party which currently holds the Executive Branch, and majorities in the House and Senate…

Are now hiding behind America’s kids.

No seriously.  What is happening in Washington right now isn’t even pathetic.  They sank below the “pathetic” standard bar a few weeks ago.  It’s just plain shameful now.

They’ll never own up to it, but the Republican leadership in Congress just held out on funding healthcare for America’s kids for months… so they could use it as a ‘bargaining CHIP’ to run around the Dream Act.

This tweet from the Senate Republicans pretty much says it all (with screenshot in case they try to take it down)…

 

Yep you read that right… trying to re-label their mega-mess as the #SchumerShutdown, and hoping the American People’s attention span is short and pathetic enough to buy it.  But thankfully, the internet doesn’t forget.

The ONLY party that has brought any form of immigration legislation to a vote in the last decade? The Democrat-controlled Senate PASSED an Immigration Reform bill in 2013 (which was then ignored by the Republican-controlled House, led by then Speaker John Boehner). Oh, and thanks Senator Schumer for working hard on this bill when you last had the chance.

And in 2010, the House of Representatives, led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, PASSED the Dream Act (which was quickly filibustered by Republicans in the Senate).

And as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program??  Ironically, during the 8 years that Barack Hussein Obama was President our nation’s youngest citizens and their families never had to worry if their healthcare needs would receive funding from THEIR federal government.  The health of our nation’s kids was not up for debate or political .  And mind you, there ain’t no economic crisis going on right now… the national economy is roaring at an unprecedented (and let’s be honest… borderline scary) clip.  But suddenly, Donald Trump comes to office, and the Republicans play a foolish game of delay and deny for MONTHS, pretending like the American People aren’t going to notice.  Like we forgot that CHIP funding actually ran out on September 30th, and yet Republicans JUST NOW want to freak out about it?

#SchumerShutdown?  Really??

Yeah… I’m done.

 

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Texoblogosphere: Week of January 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks a house of cards built by a hyperactive six-year-old is more stable than Donald Trump as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best shot at getting elected.

SocraticGadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to actually take a political stance.

In a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump’s alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what’s new on Gorilla Channel viewing both run with Ken Silverstein’s Washington Babylon.

Neil at All People Have Value discussed the great Houston Democratic Socialists of America endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas communities. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Jim Schutze observes that life as we know it has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster.

Leah Binkovitz ponders the Houston region’s transit future.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Therese Odell reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Leif Reigstad rounds up the Texans we lost last year that we’ll miss the most.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.

 

Through Kwanzaa, A Celebration of Culture, Struggle and Hope

If you ask most people  about Kwanzaa, they will probably say that they have heard and seen the term at some point, and they may even say that it is celebrated mostly in the Black community.  But after that, the details get spotty at best.

It’s easy to associate this tradition with Christmas because it begins on December 26th of each year, and ends on January 1st.  But Kwanzaa is a Communitarian holiday not based in religion, but is rather a celebration of the culture, struggle and hope of African people.  Let’s learn more about this special holiday from its founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga writing for Ebony Magazine on the 50th Anniversary..

We remember our history and the legacies left and the people who made and left them for us and the world. We reflect on the expansive meaning of being African in the world, on the context and issues of our times, and on our way forward in struggle to forge a future responsive to our needs and interests as well as those of the world. And we recommit ourselves to our highest values, to our most anchoring, elevating and liberating practices, and as ever to the good of our people and the well-being of the world.

At this historical milestone and marker, it is good to remember and reflect on the origins of Kwanzaa, not only in the ancient African festivals of harvest and shared good, but also its origins in the relentless and righteous struggles of the 60s (i.e., the Black Freedom Movement for freedom, justice, equality, and power of our people over their destiny and daily lives).

For deeply embedded and ever-present in the celebration of Kwanzaa and the practice of its founding principles, the Nguzo Saba, is the constant call for and commitment to striving and struggling. Here, I use striving and struggling interchangeably, with the meaning being exerting great and focused effort to achieve, excel and advance. For the struggle, as we imagined and waged it and continue to do so, is not only to defy and defeat the oppressor, but also to overturn ourselves, removing from ourselves the legacy of oppression, clearing social space in which we can live, love, work, build and relate freely, and striving diligently then to come into the fullness of ourselves.

Kwanzaa, then, was conceived, born and came into being in the midst of struggle, in the fires and furnaces of the Black Freedom Movement, and therefore carries within it this legacy and the lessons from it.

Though it honors contributions which originated on the African continent and takes it’s terminology from the African language of Swahili, the first Kwanzaa was actually celebrated in the United States.  Now after 51 years, people all over the world observe this rich holiday tradition.

Here are some facts about Kwanzaa…

Each of the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba are celebrated on their own special day, and each occupy a candle on the Kwanzaa candle holder, or Kinara

Umoja for Unity

Kujichagulia for Self-Determination

Ujima for Collective Work and Responsibility

Ujamaa for Cooperative Economics

Nia for Purpose

Kuumba for Creativity

Imani for Faith

The colors of Kwanzaa represent unity and commonality for peoples of African descent…  Black for the people, Red for the struggle, and Green for their progress, and the hope for prosperity and achievement.

With the rise of movements like Black Lives Matter and such current and complex political struggles, it’s no surprise that recent years have seen renewed interest in the holiday festival.

Another great Kwanzaa resources is a 2008 film, The Black Candle.  The film, directed by M. K. Asante and narrated by Maya Angelou, is an in-depth examination of the holiday’s history, connections to the Black Power movement and other socio-political factors which surround its founding.

 

As we close out this year and wind down on a very busy season, Kwanzaa offers an opportunity to not only celebrate the year’s triumphs and the many incredible contributions of the Black community, but to help set important goals to achieve in the coming year.  With the complex challenges that are present today, we need holidays like this one perhaps more than ever.

Do you celebrate Kwanzaa, or have you celebrated in the past?  What are your thoughts on this holiday?  Let me know in the comments.

Heri za Kwanzaa / Happy Kwanzaa everyone!

 

 

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Holiday Stress: Watch Out In The Parking Lot!!

For all of their positive benefits, the Holidays is often the most stressful time of the whole year.  Be it physically, emotionally or financially, it’s easy to become over-extended during this fast-paced season.  It’s also very easy to become distracted.

While it may not be a surprise, these factors can also lead to an increase in traffic accidents at some at some very busy locations.  As Roland Rodriguez of KRIS TV Corpus Christi reports, be sure to watch out on your shopping trips this season…

During the holidays, parking lots at malls, shopping centers, and supermarkets are packed, increasing the possibility of a fender bender.  It’s a very common situation.  Parking lot accidents increase by 20 percent during the busy holiday season.

The holidays create a perfect storm for  accidents, especially in busy, congested parking lots.

“They’re so many vehicles on the road and in the parking lots. You add more vehicles and people, accidents are bound to occur,” said CCPD Lt. Timothy Frazier.

With all this activity and chaos in a small area, it’s no wonder that many car accidents happen in parking lots.

And don’t forget… unlike city streets, highways and other public roads, parking lots are often going to be private spaces owned by businesses, so it’s not a matter that can be handled by the police.  BUT by law when an accident occurs, you and the other party are REQUIRED to exchange information, so you can inform them of that.

Texas Insurance Agent Cheri Roman also posted a great YouTube video with some helpful tips on how to avoid such accidents, so it’s a good one to check out as well…

So in addition to dealing with increased traffic on the roads themselves, this is a helpful reminder to keep your guard up when you arrive and exit a busy destination.

Stay safe everyone!!

A Festivus Celebration!! Courtesy of President TRuMP

It’s a Festivus Miracle!!

And by “it” I do sincerely mean President Donald Trump.  For once, and maybe only once, Texas Leftist is going all in to celebrate our nation’s most distinguished 45th President.

After all, if the point of the cult holiday Festivus is to air our many grievances and let people know how much of a DISAPPOINTMENT they’ve been throughout the year, then it’s a holiday tailor made to recognize our fearless leader.

So, for the rest of us, here’s my Festivus list, with a TON of help from Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post, who did an excellent job of documenting 282 promises made by Trump when he was on the campaign trail.

  1. Trump’s Infrastructure Plans have deconstructed .  Remember all those good, America First jobs our President planned to spur by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure??   Though Trump continues to pay lip service to the idea, any actual plans have stalled out.  It’s a far cry from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was off and running well before the close of 44’s first year in office.  Whether one agrees or disagrees with that project, we can’t deny that it did put people to work, and tackled several infrastructure projects.
  2. Trump has long promised to protect the working class, create at least 25 million new jobs, and bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas, going all across the country telling steel mills, coal mines and other factories that they’ll be back in top production, and to rebuild communities that have been affected by automation.  MAGA, right??  But if that is indeed his intention, it sure doesn’t reflect in the recent Tax Giveaway Law.  Though Americans will see a slight bump next year (well-timed for the 2018 Election), after that working families are going to be footing the bill while the 1% receive very large tax breaks.   On Coal and Steel?  While true that there has been a slight uptick in the coal workforce since inauguration, the nation’s Steelworkers are going into their holiday season with a new round of layoffs.  Steelworkers are dependent on the Federal Government to pursue aggressive new trade deals which can promote American goods overseas.  And as for all of those jobs rushing back to us from overseas???  Kinda tough to do when the Trump Administration would rather infuriate and bully other world leaders.  So far, “the greatest jobs president that God ever created” isn’t getting the job done.
  3. Tax Reform that would simplify the Tax Code, and Reduce the number of Tax Brackets.  OK!!  At long last, we’ve got a promise kept here people!!  Before the GOP-led Tax “Reform” bill was signed into law, we had a total of 7 Tax brackets.  After the bill’s passage, we have 7 Tax brackets!!!!!!! The truth is, the Tax bill didn’t really simplify anything.  All those loopholes that were to be closed, basically none of them were. But any guesses as to what the GOP did accomplish in this bill?? With less money coming in to the Government, Republicans are now saying they’ll be forced to cut Government services like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and CHIP.  No, seriously, House  Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch are already talking about it.
  4. Guarantee 6 Weeks Paid Family Leave?  It was a nice gesture, but no.  Has Trump himself ever even mentioned this, or was it just First Daughter Ivanka?
  5. DRAIN THE SWAMP!!  Ah yes, a personal favorite of Trump while on the campaign trail, where he promised to end the influence of lobbyists in Washington, and be the “most transparent President, ever”.  Yet since his inauguration, our nation’s capital has reached a new low.  We can barely keep up with the daily litany of scandals and lies, with no end in sight.

We could go on, but that’s going to have to suffice for this year’s Festivus.  After a year’s wait, it feels great to finally celebrate our nation’s leader on the day that’s appropriate.

Happy Festivus, Mr. President!!  You’ve Been a Real Disappointment to us all.

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#GrandOlePriorities: After Massive Tax Giveaway, Budgetless GOP Scrambles On Short-Term Government Funding

The funny thing about our Republican leadership in Congress… for certain things they ALWAYS seem to find time.

After passing “the largest tax cut in our nation’s history”, which don’t forget is also the single largest ballooning of the deficit in our nation’s history from legislation, President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and a bunch of other GOP lawmakers were nothing short of jubilant.  Had they stayed long enough, there would’ve been dancing in the streets.

But for many millions of Americans, there’s no celebration to be had, because their representatives in Congress are not working   for them.  Here’s the story, from Rachel M. Cohen of The Intercept

IT’S BEEN 82 days since Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire. For months legislators have promised the public they would get it done — certainly by end of the year — working on a deal that would reauthorize the program for the next five years, at the cost of $8 billion.

But in a stunning turn of events, the House of Representatives released a continuing appropriations bill Wednesday that would keep the government open and extends CHIP funding only until the end of March, at the extraordinary cost of $2.8 billion. In order to avoid a government shutdown, legislators have until midnight on Friday to fund the government.

In addition to shorting CHIP, the bill also does not grant legal protections to so-called Dreamers, children brought to the United States without documents whose legal status is in jeopardy. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been pressing Republicans to include the DREAM Act as part of the spending measure. Without it, Republicans will need to find the votes to keep the government open on their own.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Pelosi told The Intercept that Democrats are whipping their members to vote against the continuing resolution.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  With Republicans in control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, they’ve went all year and never managed to pass a budget.  Since January 20th of this year, Republicans had plenty of time to take care of these issues, but instead chose to use their time (and OUR taxpayer dollars) to please their super-rich donors.  So as you see and hear all the news clips from their big legislative “win”, keep this in mind…

As they celebrate, kids and families in all 50 states are wondering how many weeks or months they will have healthcare for critical needs through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

As they celebrate, Texans in Gulf Coast communities like Rockport and Port Aransas are still waiting on Trump’s promise to help them rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

As they celebrate, American families of mixed immigrant status continue to live under the threat of being ripped apart by deportation, as comprehensive Immigration Reform now seems like a distant memory, and the Dream Act has barely been mentioned, except by Democrats.

As they celebrate, Americans are forced to walk, bike and drive on an aging infrastructure, wondering how long it will last, and if Trump really intends to keep his promise to rebuild like we’ve never built before.

Nice try TRUMP and Republicans, but the time to pass an actual  BUDGET and not a Continuing Resolution was long ago. A PATHETIC, 3-week CR for the holiday break is unacceptable. If the GOP truly cared about the American People they would have put our priorities FIRST.

So enjoy the Grand Ole Party, Republicans.  We’ll see if the American People can end it on November 6th.

 

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