Suing Saudi Arabia

Congress rejects Obama veto of 9/11 bill, in first override of presidency

Congress rejects Obama veto of 9/11 bill, in first override of presidency

So let me get this straight… We want to “sue” Saudi Arabia for 9/11… as in holding a sovereign state culpable for ‘harboring’ participants of the terrorist acts leading to the attacks…?

First off… My LARGEST gripe would be why they haven’t already been awarded sufficient damages. I can not imagine what red tape is standing between these families’ financial healing. Resources should have been made available through the countless funds and trusts set up during the 2000s. And what about the port authority compensations to the families? I’m just surprised that the families haven’t been taken care of. Having to extend the suits overseas seems to be a last result of a long battle with red tape.

Secondly… regarding sovereign immunity, I don’t even know where to start. Again, I am all for 9/11 families being rightly compensated for having lost & endured so much. To that end the United States has been responsible for many deaths abroad. Do we want to field lawsuits from ALL of the collateral damage caused in the drone strikes in Afghanistan…? Or the families in Iraq…? We are absolutely opening ourselves to a tough conversation with several frenemies & foes in the theatre of war. Also a part of this bill it could be said that soldiers could possibly come under legally fire… even personally.

Additionally, see… the our lawsuits are set up… you have to disclose things… LOTS of things. LOTS of state-sponsored secrets. And an immense amount of special forces operations will have to revealed in order to draw the conclusions necessary for culpability. This seems to be prime for compromise our interests abroad. And while solving a problem here at home, we’ll take a huge hit overseas.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a letter 9/27/16 to a senior member of Congress, said he’s sympathetic to the intent of the measure. But the legislation could lead to the public disclosure of American secrets and even undercut counterterrorism efforts by sowing mistrust among U.S. partners and allies, according to Carter.

And we could all do a better job holding Congress accountable. There are eve several First Responder bills pending in Congress that could also help avail the families. I just hate that we’ve been relegated to such an extreme measure.

I can’t speak to the venue of such proceedings but you can bet what’s to come will be unprecedented in scale.

If a president’s veto can be overridden, this FOR SURE has the strength to do it. This will get interesting.

P.S. Saudi Arabia… You know damn well you should have offered some sort of assistance before now.

A Case for Reparations

I think this is easily one of the more interesting legal conversations and certainly, at first glance, the most obvious.

Are African Americans due reparations? 

However, after careful though (and ignoring ignoring Italian television) I was forced to consider a pratical approach to repairing one of our nation’s greatest blemishes.

A grand, top-heavy settlement with seemingly 100% of the African American population simply seemed intangible in today’s political climate. It’s a practical impossibility that’d you’d have a government agency proactively open itself to reparations. So you won’t see any “new” legislation around it; regardless of the continued efforts of Congressman John Conyers (NY).

There are simply not enough votes and certainly too much conservatism to pay any real attention to the “past” in that way. The government isn’t designed for “favors”.

Though it is designed to respond to formal legal claims.

If (and I mean a big IF) some portion of the American population was interested in reparations there is a framework to persue.

Since slavery wasn’t illegal for a significant period of time, you’d need to seek formal damages for acts occurring after abolition – allowing some buffer for the nation to “learn how to pay ex-slaves”. The term reasonable is used frequently in law and it typically assumes even with a duty of care, a defendant gets a reasonable amount of time to correct actions. I believe expecting anything else would be ill advised by any counsel.

Given that buffer, you’d then build a timeline of bad behavior or “Disservice Period”. Damages having occurred during this time would then need to be tied to reckless and wanton conduct by a governing body, like a municipality or a surviving corporation with contractual ties to a municipality.

The thinking here is to challenge these entity’s willful and consistent maneuvering of the new laws of the time rather than acting to rectify in – you guessed it – a reasonable amount of time. Show how that maneuvering was designed to benefit the group in some way.

Now comes the fun part. You’d need to lose that case. Not purposefully of course. But it is highly unlikely, because of statutes oo limitation that you’d lost on first account. You’d need an appeal and to lose again in a higher court.

What you’re looking for is a precedent built on firm cause – serious, actionable and capricious cause. And trust me, that will take some time, there is definitely enough cause.

You could get heard on res ipsa loquitur alone given the evidence we see everyday. But ultimately you’d have to show clear damages, a direct violation of the constitution and an entity of some kind that directly performed both. A municipality (or corporation having ties to a municipality) would be an interesting start since they’re less agile and have public records on collusion.

Now again, here comes the hard part… you’d have to have to stomach to see it all the way through to the supreme court… like 4 or 5 years battles worth of stomach. It would indeed get ugly. It would indeed be polarizing. It would indeed, formally, divide the country.

Then you’re on your way to getting Justice Roberts to issue this statement… 

“Any surviving entity having directly benefitted from violations of the rights of freed men (as set forth in our constitution) must not be allowed to singly benefit from those violations and instead must produce just remunerations to those directly affected. It is not this court’s purpose or intention to bankrupt these entities but to provide the platform to set right these obvious inflictions.”

Justice Roberts of course hasn’t issued this statement but he does have a healthy legal appetite that, on several occasions, has angered both parties. Good for us, bad for convention.

Moderate compensation terms are sufficient. You don’t want to scare the courts into throwing out your case prima fascia. Precedent alone will provide the volume required for collective wins spread across several actions and several years. You want to open narrow doors – only suitable for proven damages – for a steady flow to undebatable restoration.

Funny though, Colin Powell gave practically, the most pointed comment on these types of set backs.


It sounded a bit glib at first but honestly there’s nothing like simply out-performing EVERYone around you and achieving in the face of the obstacles in front of us. We hold the keys to judging what success and failure are in our own communities.

Then we rally those spoils. Rinse & repeat. I think we’re closer to another Black Wall Street than we think.

We’ve definitely got some groundwork to lay but the legal instruments above are certainly at our disposal.

This should be interesting.

So You Deserve “Slower” and “Lesser” Education?

Scalia: Some black students don't belong at elite colleges

Scalia: Some black students don’t belong at elite colleges

While I understand the need to play devil’s advocate during ruling, I have to think this exploration was rooted in at least some part of you that agreed with your line of questioning. I’m going to assume the words you’ve taken the time to impute into debate are at least similar to your own Justice Scalia.

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well…

That said, are we to believe that African American students do not even deserve the opportunity to succeed or fail at the best colleges? They probably won’t do well so why try…? They probably won’t do well so why would they attempt to enroll…? Is that the message that a Supreme Court justice uses his unencumbered literary prowess and historical briefs to purvey? Why try?

Surely you know my people better than that by now. We perform… at every level. And that they are somehow not suited to compete is a farce. I’m sorry but pursuing happiness happens to be one of the cornerstones of this nation. To “go after” what inspires you is – believed to be – what makes this country what it is. A justice would have to understand that, in his/her position, those words send staggering ripples throughout communities currently and diligently seeking better academic opportunities.

Gregory Garre Attorney for University of Texas @ Austin

Gregory Garre Attorney for University of Texas @ Austin

If you look at the academic performance of holistic minority admits vs. top 10% admits, over time, they fair better.


I can’t imagine spending my evening writing to a Supreme Court justice about the dangers of the sheer notion of calculative separation of a segment of students from the most valuable educations available. I can’t fathom lecturing an Associate Justice of the highest court on the idiocy of merely suggesting African American students have no place at faster-paced schools. It’s even more appalling that any current justice sits on a bench with a Yale education “Black”.

I can’t. I’m too busy trying to make heads or tales of this 2nd amendment confusion in the wake of San Bernardino than to be rehashing Brown v. Board with yo ass. I have neither the time nor the inclination to, again, make the case that separate but equal was not a good fit for a developed nation.

And before the scholarly break out the transcripts, I’m not sure I understand why one wouldn’t see the court’s time better spent lobbying for better education opportunities BEFORE high school so affirmative action would evolve past moot to obsolete.

For those wondering what Justice Thomas' thoughts are on the subject... in his defense... he was sleep during the proceedings.

The calls for Affirmative Action are still debatable but not dead. What I wholly agree with is Affirmative PROaction where there are smaller, targeted mandates that ensure an equal playing field in secondary schools and before. Thereby empowering all students with the same access to learning tools well before higher education is right around the corner. Don’t wait for special provisions to have to be applied. This almost guarantees conflict. Readiness is the key, not just access. Ensure adequate and equal public schooling is available for ALL students well before the time of higher education… well before the point of contention. That makes all Americans competitive for far more than just undergrad – how about the rest of the world is learning at a faster pace than our kids.

This notion that replacing hope for a better future with acquiescing to what someone else thinks you can do is unacceptable. If there are any potential college students reading this, take your asses to The Common Application and apply to a top school right now. Like RIGHT NOW.

And why are we discussing the students that have already been granted admission, who I personally know, have succeeded? Your ridiculous case is an obvious exercise of entitlement; not whether African American students can do the job once admitted.

What say you?

Assassination of The Pursuit

This tragic moment in “American” History has always bothered me to no end. It almost certainly stunted African American growth for many generations to come. How does a culture of citizens see any possibility of prosperity when the very symbol of progress, that they’d already, slaved to produce was so violently ripped away from them? How is it possible to feel positive about a future in a land where this is possible – with no vindication from anything resembling a justice system. How is your pursuit of happiness… protected?

It meant we could pour our financial & intellectual wealth into our own communities, see it destroyed and be offered no remunerations or support (dare I say no incentive) to rebuild.

Moments in time like this one and assassinations and supreme court decisions and countless others demonstrate, so clearly, this country’s societal immaturity throughout the decades. Such a disappointment that a land so vast in possibilities is constantly stagnated by fear and hatred.

I am saddened and confused every time I experience yet another recollection of these events where society simply has no answers for true justice. Delivering yet another skewed depiction of what it means to be free.

It’s a shame that a country with this much abundance and opportunity is so often reduced to putrid acts of bigotry and insipid decadence.

The United States could be much greater than even the fairy-tale history book your school district regurgitates year after year. We could have so much more if we would only free up the constipation that greed and racism so often leaves us with.

While We All Slept

Let’s see. What do I know about the Ukraine? Ooh! Back when I sold Greek apparel and ran, I cared about Belarus – where I bought the CCTLD .BY. Back then, I noticed the Ukraine touched it and I was like “huh, look at that.” That was the extent of my involvement with the Ukraine. And on the whole, unfortunately just another country with civil unrest.

Crimea actually was considered Russian sovereignty until the mid-1950s, when it was handed over to the Ukraine – an extension of the Soviet Union. Moreover, that area is pretty much enriched with a deeply ethnic Russian population and a handful of other Russian bullet points. It’s not foreign land to Putin – it’s home.

Which brings us to this latest “crisis”. In early March, a majority vote sought to rejoin Russia in what I think is a troubling referendum. Russian legislators voted to connext the Black Sea peninsula, where Russia has a strong naval presence, and Putin quickly signed that mug into law.

Since then, Moscow’s corralling troops near Ukraine’s eastern borders worrying the heck out of the interim government in Kiev. It’s also looking like other former Soviet republics, now belong to the EU and NATO are actually starting to worry. I guess the assimilation was going better than planned.

In response to all this mishegoss, the EU has taken some pretty bold steps to ensure Russia feels the affects of its decisions. A few of the annoyances levied on Russia: targeted sanctions, visa bans and – my favorite – canceling a number of engagements with Russia. Like thumbing our noses up at Russia is of concern of theirs anyway. But I also understand diplomacy works; even with idiots.

Net/net, these are looking like the strictest sanctions since the Cold War so I’m willing to bet Russia is at least loosening their neckties. They’ve pretty much isolated themselves – opting instead to stand alone in their whole mess.

Our president stands with world leaders with other world leaders. I’ve finally come to grips with who this president is when it comes to foreign policy. Better explained in its own diatribe, the brother is simply not in the business of sending our troops overseas flagrantly or half-cocked. Unlike the would be president Romney who has made it clear that he’d do everything in his power to create a climate where the theater of war was eminent.

And while I understand Romney’s concerns, I still don’t the US has risen to the level of dereliction, nor trend, as say Europe headed into the  World Was II. In Winston Churchill “While England Slept” it was made apparent he was defending his homeland’s “strategy” of diplomacy. So for a slightly more objective take, or at least for balance, fast forward to JFK’s “Why England Slept” to reveal England’s true strategy of simply stockpiling power. Little did they know, there was a powder keg brewing in Germany.

That said, our President must be mindful of power vacuum and attention deficits when it comes to geopolitical matters. I’ve never managed a country but in my mere 10 years of people management I’ve noticed that some people just don’t want to be lead. Some folk just won’t learn to coexist. Which is to say some countries simply will not align, don’t have an intention to and have no inclination towards it. Obama must be aware of these gaps and proceed accordingly. I will agree with Romney that he has a great deal of naivete when it comes to foreign affairs. And its becoming clear that what he may lack in acumen he doesn’t always make up for with vision.

The Response To The Romany Response

Romany Malco

Romany Malco

I’m actually a fan of Romany Malco, and specifically his character Zeke from Why Did I Get Married, or Look Like a Man Act Like A Woman or Deliver us from Eva or whatever other of my date night picks list. Yeah, him. Good actor and even better comedian. In fact, in everything I’ve seen him in, he’s delivered comedic-ally and thematically. Even in his latest blog post, A Message to Trayvon Martin Sympathizers, he delivers a strong performance.

I thought to myself, is he serious? The main message – Trayvon is not the only dead somebody we need to be worried about. I see where he’s coming from but to say the TM/GZ isn’t especially disturbing is being a little obtuse.

In this country, if it isn’t streamlined through mainstream media and pop culture, it doesn’t seem to warrant national debate.

His larger point is that we need to be constantly on alert when it comes to the well-being of our youth – not just when told to be. I can dig that.

And the violent crimes that have consumed “no headlines” is something that bothers him and, despite his op-ed, the rest of us a well.

But let’s be honest with ourselves. If the assailants of these Chicago atrocities were standing over the bodies of the victims they’d be arrested, charged, convicted and jailed with a routine swiftness. On the one had, there was a legal precedent set/affirmed with the entire Zimmerman case – one with ripple effects. On the other, a moral or chronic criminal illness plaguing entire cities.

Now are we allowed to be outraged, Zeke? Can we now agree that it’s not the media that “didn’t” arrest a gunman? It is with those that are entrusted to protect and serve that our concerns lie. The media didn’t coach us to outrage – the outrage did that.

To say that these concerns are otherwise unwarranted or even to suggest that TM/GZ is not uniquely qualified for our collective attention is glib and dismissive. I’m sure that’s not where we are.

Now if you want to now USE the nation’s recent “watchful eye” to lift up the conversation around our youth’s value and how it should be held sacred then I stand with you. I see THAT as useful. I see that as responsible. I see that as constructive and might just move us forward.

I’m not sure we can afford the separation. Aligning interests collectively is how we move forward. Let’s find that common ground, lift each others’ messages and have an even bigger voice.

Though I agree. There is a generally disgusting trend that ends in death for a number of our children – and its murder. But the GZs of the world aren’t responsible for most of those deaths – we are.

Tavis Smiley And Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

Tavis Smiley & Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

Tavis Smiley & Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

I understand their issue with Obama. It’s devotion. It’s about… “What are you spending your time on? And what aren’t you spending your time on?”

Any injustice is unacceptable.

They are seeking to be the conscience of the president and keep him at his pure word. They’re attempting to “keep him honest”.

Their message is anti-injustice (mainly with poverty) not anti-Obama. They are liberals still so rest assured their ultimate goals align with the president’s.

They keep their messages very direct and pointed directly at the issues and not at the temple of the president. That’s not to say that they haven’t taken shots. There have been many.

I understand them but I’m not sure where they go from here? Are they opponents of the president’s agenda. Should the administration ad them to the naughty list or the concerned citizen list. Or are concerned citizens considered naughty by this administration?

Tavis Smiley and Cornell West have already written a book on the matter of socioeconomic injustices – which targeted some of the president’s inaction. Aren’t they trying to fix an issue that the entire nation should be looking at? How can we criticize that?

Because it tears down the reputation of the first Black president?

As African Americans, we literally MUST hold this brother accountable. We have to show him and the rest of Americans that we take the office seriously. And mainly, we have to show ourselves. He encourages honest & thoughtful criticism. Trust me – he’s gone through a little bit in his day.

Tavis & Nelly make several good points and are certainly worth listening to. I don’t see them as “crabs”, I see them as voters.

Cornell West and Tavis Smiley are obviously salty. Barack Obama has, in the past, rejected a few key invitations and generally avoided officially aligning their agendas.

THIS is exactly the type of dialogue that is only possible when you encourage healthy
debate. Vetting ideologies is how ideas turn into initiatives – and then onto legislation. Dare I say it, even dissent is a necessary step in politics in order to get anything accomplished.

Enter: CorTav.

We need niches like the anti-poverty agenda they’re advocating to help vet the issues of today. Once they’re broken down into digestible pieces we can all begin prioritizing. That’s how we get to the problem solving we need. That’s how we bring about resolution – debate and action.

It’s the (in)action that CorTav have a problem with. They don’t see this president as having prioritized reconciling the plight of the banks or the “haves”. In fact, they’ve accused this president, not of commingling like opponents might, but of flat out dereliction of duty as it pertains to economic equal opportunity.

That’s a huge accusation that’s hard to digest when compared against this administration’s macro economic responsibility and efforts.

Where CorTav have a point is unlike the programs proposed by that of John Edwards, the politically-posthumous anti-poverty advocate, there has been no highlighted energy towards thwarting the negative effects of destitution. Insolvency and even starvation are both issues that America has to begin examining on a micro level. And while Obama enjoys the politically Teflon nature of a second term I understand CorTav trying to box him into hearing and dealing with these issue – however uncomfortable they might be.

They’re forcing the president into taking a position AND executing accordingly. It’s the same tactic the president and Harry Reid use when they try to force a public up or down vote just to show citizens where they stand. It’s a pretty slick strategy.

I get it though. Yeah, they may be salty about “The Covenant” and the “State of the Union” but they’re big boys. They can get over that just like the president will have to get over the 2010 elections… that we didn’t show up for and CorTav didn’t canvas for.

7 Steps to Protecting Our Sons

George Zimmerman Acquitted ~ CNN Video

George Zimmerman Acquitted ~ CNN Video

In the wake of the recent Florida acquittal of one citizen having taken the life of another I feel some next steps should be discussed. There is certainly an appetite for a discussion on how to keep our young Americans protected. Calls for a change in laws and behavior are in the air across the nation.

Also in the air – despondence. People are beginning to give up hope that the justice system is even concerned about repairing itself as our society evolves. The value of young Americans’ lives is in question. It needs to be addressed that a number of citizens don’t think their voices will be heard or quite simply – nothing will happen.  We can’t afford inaction. And we can’t afford to wait, so let’s start conversation about the way forward:

  1. Talk to your sons and tell them the threats of this world are real – and don’t always look like threats. Standing up for yourself always is very human. It’s a good thing to do so but how it’s done matters greatly. You never know what people have in their possession. And you never know people’s motives. Are you purposely being provoked? Recognize that some simply want to “get a rise” out of you so they can have a reason to react. Just remember if someone is provoking you, especially those in a position to protect you, they have an agenda. Manipulation in this way is poison on our society and rampant in policing our communities. Don’t be a victim.
  2. Neighborhood Watch

    Neighborhood Watch

    Where is the app for Neighborhood Watch personnel? We’re certainly at a point where the transparency of technology can aid in the monitoring of our communities. This is a simple and practical solve for both knowing your residents as well as the citizens devoted to crime prevention. In gated communities ALL residents are registered anyway. Why not extend these features to expected guests? Maintaining a running inventory of visitors is not a new concept and is already being used in other areas. Those charged with crime prevention should know this list well. This suggestion for neighborhood watch is to ensure they know their residents and their residents’ guests. In the event something happens, you’ve now empowered watchmen with the tools to stay informed.

  3. Know where your sons are at ALL times. Trayvon Martin’s father was unaware of his whereabouts for almost 12 hours after the shooting. Trayvon may very well have been the more responsible young man but no matter how “grown” our youth feel we have to stay in touch with them. It’s time-consuming and may feel burdensome but we simply have to keep tabs on our children – children meaning those in our immediate care. Yes – this could have happened to any parent but for that very reason we want to stay in close contact with our teenagers and be readily available to them when needed.
  4. Remove Section 2 (A) from Florida Law 776.041. It’s broad and essentially absolves provocateurs from being accountable for reasonable reactions from other citizens. All individuals who feel threatened in a real-world scenario should be protected by self-defense. However, creating the scenarios for which violence reasonably ensues should establish some order of intent. I can’t see all the freedoms and assumptions afforded to citizens being available to individuals who knowingly create dangerous situations. How others respond to an otherwise non-aggressive situation should be considered if & when these instances play out in court. Section 2 (A) provides too many luxuries to that of an aggressor.
  5. Minors without weapons should be excluded from Florida Law 776.041. Not just actions that rise to the level of imminent danger but only the use of deadly weapons should warrant the use of deadly force towards a minor especially WHEN one is themselves, the aggressor. We afford minors additional inherent protections against their own underdeveloped assessments in other instances – why not in physical altercations. We must also consider the actions of an aggressor just as complicated a set of circumstances for minors as their judgement in, say, sexual situations. These automatic protections should be levied here. Retrofitting a law would not service prior legal outcomes but we must consider all the ways we can protect youth and the Trayon Martin case offers us an example of a gap our children can unknowingly fall into
  6. Only 1 self-defense law should apply at a time – no 2 can apply. Combining these protections seems like bad practice. Remember, there are several lives at stake – not just that of the aggressor. That amounts to under-collateralized protection and almost promotes provoking attacks. It also promotes zero accountability. Does this mean good judgement no longer needs to be exercised? Or worse, that bad judgment is excused? The laws should not be in place to protect overzealous citizens in instances where their actions result in a death. This is dangerous and could lead to many fatal situations where the only witness to corroborate or counter these judgements will be unavailable for questioning.
  7. “Aggressor” must show just cause for approach AND be subject to legal exploration. This exposes ALL aggressor’s actions (including those leading up to an encounter) to explanation in a court of law. Jurors should have the opportunity to consider both “motivation” as well as motive when ruling. “Citizen” and “aggressors” can not mean the same thing. Zealous citizens cross a line and should accept a new standard and duty of behavior. Where we are today amounts to vigilante behavior.

I think these are practical considerations and can all be implemented in under 20 months. That may sound like a lot but it’s been almost that long since Trayvon Martin had his life stolen by George Zimmerman.

Can’t we get this done? Can’t we try?

A justice system without the justice is just… the system.

There are countless examples of a system that does not lean in the favor of minorities. It is more than obvious the courts alone can not keep our youth safe. In fact, the courts are not designed to – queue the prison industrial complex conversation. But more that it’s our job to own the protection of our children – with knowledge, fair representation in law enforcement and proper regulatory reforms.

I think there’s enough here for a spirited debate so let’s see where it takes us.


Nickels and Dimes and Legends

Jay-Z Slams Harry Belafonte, Tells Him to Respect ‘…Youngins Boy’

Jay-Z Slams Harry Belafonte, Tells Him to Respect ‘…Youngins Boy’

If you breath oxygen then you’ve no doubt noticed a recent album release that’s more than raised a few eyebrows. Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail is sucking all the air out of the music industry’s respective room. While igniting the creativity of a new generation of listeners and artists it’s also managed to incense a handful of legends – and 1 legend in particular to be exact.

Without mentioning, much, the fact that Carter has moved away from wearing chains to wearing God(ly) robes, this album is a premium-caliber exploration in narcissism. Oh, wait, my sources are telling me that’s just rap in general. Nevermind. He does a pretty good job cementing his place as THE great rapper of today by literally rewriting the rules of engagement.

Let’s now spend a little time discussing his rift with Hava Nagila and civil rights titan, Harry Belafonte. In the summer 2012, the Legend joined a conversation around how the current class of superstars are simply not pulling their weight when it comes to advanced their own cultures. In summary, Hollywood brothers & sisters simply aren’t getting it done.

I think one of the great abuses for this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile arts, power celebrities. But they [Black Stars] have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. ~ Harry Belafonte

Hopefully this is a non-story. Belafonte is definitely owed respect and that’s actually what happened.

Firing back with the Nickels and Dimes track, Jay-Z mentions extending an olive branch to former trailblazers, called Belafonte a boy, harkens conservative values and much more. Wait? Jay-Z calls Belfonte a boy? The answer is. While aggressively attempting to separate both his genre and era from Belafonte’s, Carter bookends a verse with “Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now”.

The boy thing is just plain inappropriate; certainly considering the context. But does Jay-Z not have the right to respond to criticism?

The hip-hop brand of respect (or any conciliatory action for that matter) is “mentions”. Jay-Z is definitely not advocating the same message as Belafonte. Belafonte’s was that of a pure, communal and social inclusion. Jay-Z’s theme is self-empowerment & narcissism. Dude considered himself a “god”. How can you expect their wavelengths to blend?

Mentioning your adversary as a form of respect in hip hop is definitely a stretch. It’s more the acknowledging than anything I thought was interesting. The fact that he said boy was definitely in poor taste but I’m not ready to say he disrespects Belafonte’s acumen and contributions. Not just yet.


An Ode to the Movement?
Because I trust Belafonte’s judgement in terms of civil rights I will always give him an ear on the matter improving the culture. His and Poitier’s and Cosby’s and Ali’s voice’s had to penetrate far more bigoted thickness than Carter could ever imagine.

I’d like to think he would go out of his way to pay homage to each of the greats… but in what way? In what way can you, HOV, a self-proclaimed “god” pay respect to similar “gods” from another time? By performing! By besting the industry itself. By engaging in a monopoly and buying & filling stadiums. You pay respect by literally being the best. I think Jay-Z is annoyed by having his name mentioned as part of the problem and simply felt he had to respond – especially since he thinks his plan for “us” is grand as well.

Social Responsibility
Note to Harry Belafonte, social responsibility has a very broad scope with deliberate and cerebral methodologies. Much in the same way President Obama serves a beacon of hope for change, I think both Jay-Z and Beyoncé emit an err of entrepreneurship. They also spend time on community-building initiatives and empowerment programs. In fact, just a few lines before the nudge in Nickels and Dimes (the same track Belafonte was jabbed in) Carter talks about how he wants to position people for opportunities and not handouts.

Though it’s very possible Belafonte acknowledges that. It may be that even in their efforts to help build up the culture, their lavish lifestyle draws too much attention away from these much-needed social endeavors. In Belafonte’s comments he mentions popular artists in general and later goes on to single out Jay-Z and Beyoncé – no doubt because of their influence.

I hate to sound like I’m advocating Carter’s boy sentiment or even apologizing. It was in poor taste. But I did want to draw attention to a fact that Carter also alluded to – having a conversation with the likes of Belafonte and probably all other old-heads. At least that’s what I gathered. It would definitely be worth seeing Harry Can-I-Bus back but maybe a quaint dinner at the 40/40 Club would be more appropriate.

Although there’s only 1 “B” in Carter’s life. He apparently wants to keep it that way.

How Much Should He Spend On The Engagement Ring?

How Much Should He Spend On The Ring

How Much Should He Spend On The Ring

The general consensus of 2-3 months salary is considered a good benchmark for an engagement ring. Sheesh! Heck, I remember when I considered 1 month’s salary as a good start but maybe I just hadn’t thought it through.

I love love right… I mean I do… but let’s put that in perspective…

That’s 6 of my checks – saved – that’s either no bills paid, no food eaten – or (more romantically/responsibly) suppressed spending for about 6 months.

Ladies; if your man got all frugal on you for 6 months he’d probably go in the dog house without even knowing why. And you’ll have committed an act of treason by condemning him for cutting off the spigot.

A good calculation I’ve chuckled at is, “Her ring should cost as much as she’s helped him save by being with her.” A very interesting proposition but it didn’t seem to be gaining any traction.

Although most guys probably wouldn’t blink twice about not eating good for 6 months to pad the down payment for a house for her.

A ring is just an accessory. Case closed, right?

There are number of reasonable rebuttals for the above arguments but I’m wondering if I’ll ever hear them from anyone. Maybe I’ll just make some up on my own.

  • Reasonable Rebuttal #1: This symbol of love should last a lifetime.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #2: A good price means a good warranty to maintain investment over time.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #3: She was integral in your earning potential being what it is in the first place – you’re merely returning the favor.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #4: A gesture of genuine sacrifice is needed to codify your commitment.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #5: We spend twice as much on vehicles that will be discarded in less than 5 years.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #6: She’s demonstrated that she is not only worth the spend but she’ll return the favor in loyalty.

I cracked my knuckles and moved on. Surely if a case was going to be made to spend big bucks on an engagement ring I’ve covered it sufficiently. Well, I obviously was met with rebuttals… to my rebuttals… and then I responded with yet more rebuttals. Just read.

Rebuttal to my rebuttal #1: me being here is a symbol of my love… and that will last a lifetime.

That’s a hard sell. She would probably just reply “so why get married at all if you just being with her is enough”. A marriage is an on-purpose departure from singleness. It is in itself a symbol.

A marriage should be full of symbols and demonstrations of love. It certainly shouldn’t stop at the 1 item of clothing she will be wearing for the rest of the time she knows you.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #2… gold doesn’t fade… you don’t have to spend $10,000 to have a warranty…

Well regular cleanings, sizing, retouching, replacements, insurance, resetting, adding anniversary goodies all come at a premium if that warranty ain’t right.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #3…I believe I had a job when I met her…and I’m pretty sure I’ll have one if she leaves…

Be that as it may, extraordinary women come with perks. They don’t just cheer on the sidelines (which is great too), they help with papers, they help with reports, they help rehearse lines and write scripts… the regular ones a “good thing” but the cold ones expose a man to a whole new set of blessings. I think that could be considered worth an extra month of Steak-umm®.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #5… we spend twice as much as that on vehicles that are eventually discarded, but those vehicles also have an actual use…people rent cars…borrow cars…does anybody rent rings?

This was an easy one. All I’ll say on that is try telling a potential wife her ring will be of no use. Good luck.

Rebuttal for rebuttal #6…she should be loyal for richer or poorer…I thought her loyalty came with it…

I’d considered this thought as well. Loyalty is definitely a requisite of marriage – but a good marriage is full of reassurances and promises to never take advantage of someone’s loyalty. So demonstrations of commitment go a LONG way during a woman’s daily thought processes. How happy she will make him is decided largely on how many of these demonstrations she consistently sees.

It’s a touchy subject but I would definitely consider loyalty weighed, not in finances, but in sacrifices. That means showing her an above & beyond sacrifice speaks volumes about your commitment to her.

Here’s the funny part – I’m an advocate for being frugal in every way you can. These rebuttals are a result of the conversations I know I’ll have to have when that day comes. I’m just trying to see the other side. And frankly the other side seems pretty reasonable. 2 months now doesn’t seem like such a stretch. And 2-3 will definitely just seem like overkill if you don’t subscribe to what was discussed here. I think the key is to not let it overwhelm you – but be very thoughtful.

If you really want to get gangster and be a faith-buff you’ll open an account specifically to save for a ring before you even have a candidate. But that’s another conversation.

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