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November 2006

Rangel is right, reinstate the Draft

New York Congressman Charles B. Rangel is again proposing to reinstate the selective service draft. Not surprisingly, his colleagues are already pooh-poohing the idea, but I say, not so fast. Let’s think about the situation for a moment.

United States soldiers are killed every week in Iraq --- every week. I watch for the names of the soldiers every Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Just think about it… this week the names of 24 servicemen killed in action in Iraq were released… Then names are flashed on the screen; mostly men but some women, 18, 19, 20 year-old Americans --- dead. What we don’t hear about each week are those who returned wounded and maimed. It is horrible and needs to stop.

Military experts have advised that the U.S. needs a significant number of troops in the area simultaneously to take over in one fell swoop. Currently, our soldiers are sitting ducks being picked off a few at a time. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that our current military strategy is not the best.

As Americans, we should ask ourselves why. The answer is plain and simple. The United States’ volunteer army is not sufficient in number to provide enough troops for a U.S. attack. That’s why there are soldiers on their second and third tour of duty in Iraq. Hell-o, Iraq is another Vietnam. We are not winning but we are putting on a good game face. Our soldiers are being killed.

We need the Draft to build up our troops. How likely is it to happen? Not very. Why? Because we Americans are basically whiners. We want peace but we don’t want to endure the conflict that precedes peace. We want everything pretty and hunky-dory but that is not how the world works. There will always be conflict as long as there are people on Earth. It’s reality, let’s deal with it.

Who serves in the military now? The poor and minorities --- that’s not fair. The children of the wealthy should not be exempt just as the children of politicians shouldn’t either. Apparently it’s easy to sacrifice other people’s children because that’s what’s happening as you read this.

You can put lipstick on a pig but it still stinks. Reinstate the draft.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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Rest In Peace - Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown passed away to little fanfare. I confess I didn’t know much about her other than what I’d seen in the movies. She was quite an entertainer and underrated, in my view. I regret that I hadn’t taken the time to find out more about her. She will always be ‘Motormouth Maybelle’ to me. Rest in Peace, Ms. Brown.

Biography - Ruth Brown

They called Atlantic Records "the house that Ruth built" during the 1950s, and they weren't referring to the Sultan of Swat. Ruth Brown's regal hitmaking reign from 1949 to the close of the '50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's predominance in the R&B field. Later, the business all but forgot her -- she was forced to toil as domestic help for a time -- but she returned to the top, her status as a postwar R&B pioneer (and tireless advocate for the rights and royalties of her peers) recognized worldwide.

Young Ruth Weston was inspired initially by jazz chanteuses Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington. She ran away from her Portsmouth home in 1945 to hit the road with trumpeter Jimmy Brown, whom she soon married. A month with bandleader Lucky Millinder's orchestra in 1947 ended abruptly in Washington, D.C., when she was canned for delivering a round of drinks to members of the band. Cab Calloway's sister Blanche gave Ruth a gig at her Crystal Caverns nightclub and assumed a managerial role in the young singer's life. DJ Willis Conover dug Brown's act and recommended her to Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, bosses of a fledgling imprint named Atlantic.

Unfortunately, Brown's debut session for the firm was delayed by a nine-month hospital stay caused by a serious auto accident en route to New York that badly injured her leg. When she finally made it to her first date in May of 1949, she made up for lost time by waxing the torch ballad "So Long" (backed by guitarist Eddie Condon's band), which proved to be her first hit.
Brown's seductive vocal delivery shone incandescently on her Atlantic smashes "Teardrops in My Eyes" (an R&B chart-topper for 11 weeks in 1950), "I'll Wait for You" and "I Know" in 1951, 1952's "5-10-15 Hours" (another number-one rocker), the seminal "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" in 1953, and a tender Chuck Willis-penned "Oh What a Dream" and the timely "Mambo Baby" the next year. Along the way, Frankie Laine tagged her "Miss Rhythm" during an engagement in Philly. Brown belted a series of her hits on the groundbreaking TV program Showtime at the Apollo in 1955, exhibiting delicious comic timing while trading sly one-liners with MC Willie Bryant (ironically, ex-husband Jimmy Brown was a member of the show's house band).

After an even two-dozen R&B chart appearances for Atlantic that ended in 1960 with "Don't Deceive Me" (many of them featuring hell-raising tenor sax solos by Willis "Gator" Jackson, who many mistakenly believed to be Brown's husband), Brown faded from view. After raising her two sons and working a nine-to-five job, Brown began to rebuild her musical career in the mid-'70s. Her comedic sense served her well during a TV sitcom stint co-starring with McLean Stevenson in Hello, Larry, in a meaty role in director John Waters' 1985 sock-hop satire film Hairspray, and during her 1989 Broadway starring turn in Black and Blue (which won her a Tony Award).

There were more records for Fantasy in the '80s and '90s (notably 1991's jumping Fine and Mellow), and a lengthy tenure as host of National Public Radio's "Harlem Hit Parade" and "BluesStage." Brown's nine-year ordeal to recoup her share of royalties from all those Atlantic platters led to the formation of the nonprofit Rhythm & Blues Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping others in the same frustrating situation. In 1993 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 1995 saw the release of her autobiography, Miss Rhythm.

Brown suffered a heart attack and stroke following surgery in October of 2006 and never fully recovered, passing on November 17, 2006. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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O.J. Outrage, Pt. 2

This latest O.J. controversy has been nothing if amazing. I'm sure somewhere, somehow, a thesis is being written with O.J. Simpson as part of the research. Who would have ever thunk it? Profitting from the murder of his ex-wife, c'mon 'Juice."

Anyhoo, the people have spoken and O.J.'s book and television interview are in the toilet along with Michael Richards' career.

How could Judith Regan not expect a backlash? I mean really, who do we think we're kidding? Is O.J. required to return his advance or does he ride off in the sunset laughing all the way to the bank? Rupert Murdoch lost millions on the project. Oh, well. Now, if we could just impeach Bush 43...


Graphic credit: Duke S

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Put a Fork in Him...Michael Richards is DONE!

On Sunday night, while doing my usual multi-tasking, I heard a local TV news reporter mention Michael Richards’ racial tirade. I didn’t hear any other details so later that evening I Googled ‘Michael Richards’ to get info --- nothing. Needless to say, one day later, all hell has broken loose and Richards’ career is definitely in the toilet.

I read a few internet articles on the incident and then I saw the video. Oh, my God! Reading is one thing but seeing and hearing was quite another. Excuse me, but WTF is this? Kramer? I like watching Kramer on Seinfeld --- even in re-runs. Who is this guy having a meltdown while spewing profanity and horrible racial epithets. I can’t imagine being in the audience while this occurred. Reality check: Quirky, kooky Kramer is a role. Hello, this is the real Michael Richards and this is not pretty.

While watching and listening to the videos through my own anger, I realized that Michael Richards was out of control. The hatred and rage that came out of him was incredible. The situation could have become violent, thankfully, it didn’t. As much as he proclaimed to be sorry and that he’s not racist, on the Late Show with David Letterman, I say, I think not. Jerry Seinfeld, don’t try it; this was not a mistake. Your friend, Michael Richards outed himself as a racist --- plain and simple. Wait a minute...How many Blacks were even on Seinfeld? Hmmm......

As ticked as I am, I also noted that Richards did not blame his tirade on alcohol or being molested as a child or some other lame excuse as others have done. He did it and the world can replay it over and over again. No matter the apologetic words, he is still a racist. There was just too much venom and anger in his words to feel otherwise.

I am burned that The Laugh Factory allowed him to perform the following night. The Laugh Factory issued a statement on its website. Money was refunded to patrons…blah…blah…blah. Let’s be real, allowing Richards to perform speaks to the club management’s insensitivity and lack of respect for Blacks. Had Richards made anti-Semitic remarks, he would have been out of there with the quickness and not allowed to return even if he did apologize.

When all is said and done, does Michael Richards’ tirade represent how whites feel today? Watch the video and listen to the words. Perhaps he does. This is bigger than one man and it’s not funny.

Note to self: Learn to use the video feature on cell phone; you never know when some crazy sh*t is gonna jump off.

Michael Richards apologizes: 'I'm not a racist'

'Seinfeld' Actor's Racial Rampage

Richards' words shock audience

TMZ video

Michael Richards apologizes on David Letterman Show

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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Jay-Z and "The Truth Behind Hip-Hop"?

This is some eerie stuff. Do you believe this? Have you heard Jay-Z make a comment about it? I'm not a bible-thumping, pious, holier-than-thou kind of person but this definitely makes you think! Check out the video!

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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O.J. Outrage

The O.J. Simpson book backlash is growing. Some FOX affiliate stations are refusing to air the interview; advertisers are refusing to buy commercial air time; and boycotts of bookstores that carry the book are planned. I’d like to know who is surprised by the uproar. I’m certainly not.

People who thought O.J. was innocent before are wondering about his guilt now. To make matters worse, it has been reported that the book is not O.J.’s confession as has been reported; it is merely a hypothetical and possible setup for sequel. Can you imagine some folks demanding their money back for the book?

In the midst of this madness, the brilliance of the late attorney Johnnie Cochran is more and more evident. Cochran was able to keep this slug from serving time. The O.J. Simpson murder case divided racial groups in the United States. Whites thought he was guilty and Blacks (not me!) thought him innocent. This book has resulted in more Blacks questioning the verdict. Mark Fuhrman is walking around with his chest out and Cochran must be rolling in his grave. Go figure.

When all is said and done, I pity Simpson. He is clearly out of control and he doesn’t even realize it. Simpson has pocketed his $3.5 million for the book and now he’s waiting for more money to roll in. Let’s see what Rupert Murdoch and FOX TV’s next move will be because it’s all about the Benjamins.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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TomKat: Enough already!

Someone, get me a barf bag, please. I can't take it any longer. I am sick, absolutely sick of TomKat's $9,000,000 wedding and they're not even married yet. Arrrgh! I don't care about who was invited and who wasn't. I really don't. I don't care about which hotel wedding guests are living in. I care about the menu. I know I'm not alone. Enough already, damn!

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Who I'm vibing to now: india.arie

india.arie is one of the few true young musicians. I am constantly in awe of her dedication to her craft and refusal to conform to lowered music industry standards and eurocentric beauty pressures.

arie appears to be one of those folks who is doing what they truly love. She could have sold many more records and she somehow ends up not quite in the spotlight as she should be. Check out india.arie for a positive, uplifting message without the vulgarity we've sadly become accustomed to.

P.S. Is it just me or does india.arie look like she could be comedian Som'more's sister?

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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O.J. Simpson hypes new book

Just in time for holiday sales, O.J. Simpson gives his take on how he would have committed the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had he been responsible for their deaths. Someone wake me, please, I must be dreaming. On Nov. 27 and 28, Fox TV will air a two-part unrestricted interview entitled, “O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.”

Simpson will be interviewed by Judith Regan. Who is Judith Regan? She’s the publisher of his book which will be released a few days after the interview. Give me a break! How objective and honest can we really expect this interview to be? I’m not mad at anyone who’s making a living legally but come on, O.J., is this really necessary? This is like some bad Twilight Zone episode. What is the purpose of the book other than to separate people from their money? No doubt Simpson will make the rounds of talk shows and be covered by the print and electronic media. By any means necessary . . . promote the book.

You know we can expect the Browns and Goldmans to be incensed and rightfully so. Rehashing this tragedy to make a buck is all so very sad but what can we expect in the era of unreal ‘reality shows’?

For the record, I still think O.J. is guilty. Do I think he committed the murders alone? Perhaps not but I think he was involved. I have to agree with Chris Rock from his “Bring the Pain” routine. That whole O.J. verdict was about money, it wasn’t really about race. O.J. had the Benjamins to pay for the best legal defense and he was acquitted. Hell-o? That’s the way our legal system works. I could go on and on about that but that’s another post for another time.

When all is said and done, my heart goes out to the Simpson children. All of them. The children from Simpson’s first wife, Marguerite and the children with Nicole. They really don’t need to relive that time in their lives.

O.J. Simpson to discuss killings

Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (excerpt) <---WARNING: Explicit Language

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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A friend forwarded this message to me. I felt compelled to share it with as many women as possible. Please feel free to do the same as long as all sources and links are included when you forward. Thank you and be Blessed.

Lord, I am a woman-on-the-grow.

Please help me…

  • to find the strength to get up when I just want to give up.
  • to speak up the next time he/she disrespects or abuses me.
  • to guard myself from family/friends who challenge my trust, patience, time, faith and money.
  • to be grateful and show up for my job even though I don't enjoy it.
  • to be a good provider for myself and my family with less stress and struggle.
  • to resist my addictions (food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc.)
  • to say “no” to things that can destroy my life, health and relationships.
  • to discover my special anointed gifts, talents and purpose.
  • to be successful in my business and leadership roles.
  • to meet the right people who can enrich and better my life.
  • to fill my lonely hours with productivity, peace and wholeness.
  • to forgive and let go of my pain, bitterness and anger.
  • to heal my grieving heart for the ones I have lost and miss so much.
  • to stop worrying about my loved ones in trouble, the war, hospital or prison.
  • to endure and keep my faith as I wait for my miracle.
  • to remember, that spite of it all, I am, too blessed to be stressed.
  • to remember that You are the source of supply.
  • to be blessed and to be a blessing to others.
  • to keep pressing toward my mark of a higher calling.
  • to stay in the light to see You more clearly, follow You nearly and love You more dearly.
by Jewel Diamond Taylor, Motivational speaker, author and Founder

Permission is granted to republish this article on your website on condition that you include the byline with all hyperlinks. e-mail – [email protected]

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