Thursday, September 30, 2010

The White House Explains Why the Tax Cuts for the Rich Should Expire

hat tip-Politicalinaction.com


Thursday, September 30, 2010
The White House White Board

Austan Goolsbee draws up the current debate over taxes to show how Republicans are preventing everyone who makes under $200,000 a year from keeping their tax cuts so millionaires can keep theirs to the tune of $100,000 a piece and $700 billion we don't have. Basically, the Republicans are fighting for tax cuts for the rich that cost the exact same amount as Obama's healthcare bill that helps 50 million people get insurance. All I'm saying is that this lays bare the priorities of the parties.

If you're not a millionaire, you shouldn't be a Republican (This is a Democratic slogan waiting to happen.) Explain how the Republican party is fighting for average Americans.....no one can because they don't. They just say they do over and over and over and the Democrats refuse to fight them on it.



An example of what Citzens United hath brought

Congressman Pete DeFazio set out to find out who was funding commercials against him. $86,000 worth of ads began to pop up in his district, and he thought he needed to find out who these folks were. Rachel Maddow delves deeper into this scam.

Once again, this is the Citizens United case on display.

As the title of this piece says, It's Called MONEY LAUNDERING.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Does It Take a Genius to Discover Poverty?

Yesterday, David Simon, creator of HBO’s The Wire won a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. That’s great news for him, but it makes me question how someone gets slapped with the genius label for highlighting poverty. You do know right that poverty’s been around for a long time? Are we so immune to poverty (maybe, perhaps because of The Wire) that we can watch each scene unfold and not be prompted into action to find solutions to the poverty? Are the viewers of The Wire so immune to society’s ills that we can actually enjoy crime and poverty for an hour, then change the channel and pretend it’s not real?

Please take a moment and read the rest at The Loop.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Velma Hart simply is NOT the Posterchild for 'Blacks and this Recession'

I was gonna leave the Velma Hart situation alone, because I just thought it was obvious that she was a plant.

Her segment on Hardball:


There is a reason why Black folks are going---' woman, please'.

A household with TWO INCOMES?

Children in PRIVATE school?

And her pain is not being able to have a new car?

When Black unemployment is double that of the rest of the nation, and everybody knows somebody who is un - or UNDER - employed......

if you were trying to find someone Black... this woman shouldn't be your posterchild for 'what has happened to the Black community during this recession.'

Black folks listen to her and go ' what recession for VELMA'?

I'm not hating on Velma and her family.

I'm glad she and her husband were gainfully employed. but, if you want to face of this recession....(I don't usually go personal here, but I will on this occasion.)
If you want to see the face of Black unemployment, you can look at me.
I was fired from a job where I had nothing but excellent reviews. Call it downsizing, but it meant that I was out of a job.

I also know that I am blessed, and though it hurt, I've come upon luck that others have not.

The exact week that I was fired from my job, I got a call for a Supervisor's position in a local Census Bureau office. I had applied for a weekend position, and this came up, and though the hours were 'non-traditional', I gratefully took it. The pay wasn't what I was making, but it was enough to cover my cost of living, because I had long since turned into a ' cash is king' household, cutting out frivolities. I spent 8 months employed by the U.S. Census, and I want to thank the U.S. Constitution for mandating that it be done every 10 years.

Working at the Census, I saw a slice of the face of unemployment in this country. From our office, I got to interact with a nice diverse set of people. The bosses above me, save one, were all Black men. Highly educated Black men who had spent many years in Corporate America before being downsized. I worked with a number of people who were self-employed until the recession hit, and the businesses that had sustained them for years, but this economy was just THAT BAD.

Of all the ethnic groups, I'd say that the Latinos were by far the youngest people working in the office. The Blacks and Whites, pretty much without exception, were people with experience in the working world. By virtue of seeing their work ethic up close and personal, I can't believe that they were fired for being unproductive - it's just that bad of a market out there. Got to know many folks who were bitten by the downturn in real estate- genuine investors that had been bitten hard by the market, and the ramifications of folks skipping out because they just couldn't pay rent.

I'll never forget sitting at lunch one day with one of my colleagues - a 20+ year veteran of ad sales, said that she felt the Census was a sort of ' Main Street' bailout of sorts. That for many folks, it helped them just in time, gave them a sense of purpose, and stopped the pounding of the spirit that unemployment can cause. I had to agree with her.

One of the best things about the Census was working with so many veterans, from different wars, and to meet the younger people who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hearing their opinions about what was going on there was interesting. And, they were another reason why Ms. Hart irked me. The veterans I spoke with at the Census had nothing but positive things to say about this President. They see the changes in how veterans are treated and appreciated that it was trickling down to the ground level with the soldiers.

Even as the Census wound down, another blessing came my way, and a random resume I sent out half-heartedly came through with an interview, and a new position. I'm not making what I was making before I got fired, but, it's pretty close, and I feel fortunate to have found it. Remember to always count your blessings.

Listening to Mrs. Hart, I just didn't see how she missed all the blessings she has.

She's a CFO, talking about private school and bummed about a new car. Does she not realize how many folks would love to have her ' issues'?

Has the recession skipped her family?

I ask this, because there was a new report out about successful Black people and philanthropy.

In Affluent Blacks More Charitable, Feel Greater Responsibility to Provide Financial Support to Family Than Non-Blacks

Affluent Black Americans are more likely to give to charitable causes and feel responsible for providing financial support to adult family members than affluent non-Blacks, according to a Northern Trust survey of "Wealth in Black America."
...................

Significant differences in charitable giving between affluent Blacks and non-Blacks

Affluent Blacks feel greater responsibility to provide financially for adult family members than non-Blacks.
Affluent Blacks, more than non-Blacks, feel responsible for family members and expect to provide them with consistent financial support over the next ten years, according to the survey.

Currently, 50 percent of affluent Blacks said they provide financial support to adult children; 32 percent to siblings; 21 percent to nieces or nephews; and 18 percent to cousins. In particular, financial support of adult children has risen dramatically in the financial crisis, up from 24 percent in 2008.

When asked what needs would be met by their financial support of those family members, general living expenses was the No. 1 response, displacing long-term care and disability, which was the top response in 2008. This year, 59 percent cited general living expenses compared with only 42 percent in 2008.


Maybe Mrs. Hart just doesn't have this experience. Could be, but then nearly everyone I know can't do six degrees of separation between themselves and someone who has been affected by this recession that's family. We aren't talking about Pookey and Ray-Ray, but the family that never thought they'd be in this position, that this recession has put in this position.

You want to beat up the President about the ' Black face' of this recession, with unemployment double the national rate? Take a trip up to Detroit and talk to some former GM workers, who were good workers, and lost their jobs because of the bankruptcy and rebuilding the company.

Why don't you go find some of those highly educated Black teachers summarily dismissed by Rhee in DC. Sure, some of them might have been bad teachers, but I'm going to lay money & say not all of them were.

I don't hate on Velma because she's successful...that's fine.

But, don't put this woman up as representative of the true Black middle class in America. And definitely don't have her lying on national TV.

A Conversation With Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.


Hear an extensive interview with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (A Must Listen).

Direct Audio Link

The topics cover race, Obama's otherness being used against him as a weapon by the Republican Tea Party, post-racial America, anthropology, genealogy...etc.

Great discussion. A couple of Tea Partiers even call in....resulting in some interesting exchanges.

Democrats Show Ineptness Once Again - Run Scared on Tax Cuts



I told you they had serious PR problems. Putting this issue up for a vote, forcing Republicans to defend tax cuts for the rich and daring them to vote against cuts for the middle class would have been a winner for the Dems. Harry Reid is incompetent, and I have been saying it for at least a year...not long after he became Senate Majority leader.

And one reason they are running scared (besides the Blue Dog weaklings worried about holding their seats) is because they may be preparing to cave altogether on the Tax issue, as I suggested weeks ago. After the election... watch them cave and renew all of the Bush Tax cuts...including the tax cuts for the rich, which will cost us $700 billion on top of the debt that all the other tax cuts and the other deficit spending will cost (which is in the trillions). Democrats are so scared of the Republican media machine that they are running with their tails tucked between their legs... with just the mere threat that they may be hurt by attack ads or specifically targeted to be unseated in the midterm elections. This is a perfect example of how powerful the right wing media is...and it is also an example of why there should be a Progressive alternative... a Progressive media infrastructure which could act as a counterbalance.

Can we resurrect Tip O'Neal or bring back George Mitchell? How about Adam Clayton Powell? Seems to be a lack of people with courage in Congress. The U.S. will end up in one crisis after another...instead of preventing the next crisis ahead of time with corrective policies, because everyone is more concerned with the next election.

America is screwed, especially if it can't get spending under control within a few years.

Related

The "Taxes Are Too High" argument is a Republican media illusion

I could caption this one, lol.

Mavis Staples, The Voices of East Harlem, & The Pockets

Mavis Staples - Eyes On The Prize


Voices of East Harlem (C. Mayfield production) - Take a Stand


The Pockets- Come Go With Me

Arianna Huffington Discusses "Third World America"

Watch an interview with Arianna Huffington focusing on her book Third World America, which talks about deteriorating conditions for the Middle Class in America. Huffington suggests that we are headed for third world status if current economic trends continue. (I have mentioned several times that this is where we are headed, and believe that in some respects, we are already there). But what is different about Arianna Huffingtons commentary is that she sees things from a different perspective than most Progressives. The way that she somehow doesn't see the working class and working poor is quite annoying to me. In many ways, her perspective mirrors that of the Obama Administration in terms of being blind to the working class. Where in the Hell does she think the middle class comes from.... does she think they appear out of nowhere and are suddenly middle class? The working class and working poor of today are supposed to be tomorrows middle class. They make no effort to link these groups together and propose policies that benefit various groups collectively. They have a very myopic view of what the middle class really is.

This is one reason why I am not a big fan of Huffington. Her legitimacy is not very solid. I would much rather hear Barbara Ehrenreich speak on these issues. Someone who actually knows something about what life is like for the poor, the working class, and the middle class. But the discussions with Huffington were still interesting and worthwhile.

Hear a more in depth discussion from NPR.

Related Posts

The American Dream Harder Than Ever To Attain

The Need for Living Wages

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Republican 'Pledge to America' Authored By Lobbyist for AIG, Big Oil


The Republicans unveiled their Snake oil today... their "Pledge to America". Based on what is in "the Pledge" the Republican answer to our economic situation is to extend tax cuts for the rich (the top 3% of American taxpayers) and that will take care of everything. Absent were specifics about controlling deficit/lowering national debt, what to do about jobs going overseas, specifics on exactly how to create jobs, etc. But the Pledge does promise to repeal healthcare reform. And on the subject of Social Security, Boehner couldn't answer reporters questions, but from what he had to say, privatizing Social Security is still on the table for them (of course it is... that's what they intend to do, but he was afraid to say it). the pledge was critical of special interests.... ironic since the man behind the "Pledge to America" is a professional corporate lobbyist for such great companies as AIG and Exxon, among others. Basically the Republican program was authored by a corporate shill by the name of Brian Wild.

From The Huffington Post:

The Republican Party's 21-page blueprint, "Pledge to America," was put together with oversight by a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.

In a draft version of The Pledge that was being passed around to reporters before the official release, the document properties list "Wild, Brian" as the "Author." A GOP source said that Wild -- who is on House Minority Leader John Boehner's payroll -- did help author the governing platform that the party is unveiling on Thursday. Another aide said that as the executive director of the Republican leadership group American Speaking Out, Wild's tasks were more on the administrative side of the operations.

Until early this year, Wild was a fairly active lobbyist on behalf of the firm the Nickles Group, the lobbying shop set up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles. During his five years at the firm, Wild, among others, was paid $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse; $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum; more than $1.1 million from Comcast, more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil; and $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.

More here

For those who may have missed an earlier post regarding what the Republican Tea Party stands for.... Here is Their Basic Platform.

From Think Progress - No real mention of controlling the earmark pork spending in Congress:

As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports, the GOP’s new “Pledge to America” was directed by a staffer named Brian Wild, who until early this year, was a lobbyist at a prominent DC firm that lobbied on behalf of corporate giants like Exxon. Moreover, the insurance industry is the leading contributor to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican who led the effort. Consistent with its desire to placate lobbyists, the 21-page “Pledge” omits any mention of a key Republican mantra: a ban on earmarks.

Lobbyists have long supported the practice of “earmarking,” a maneuver that allows lobbyists to cajole members of Congress to add pet projects to appropriations bills. While it’s no surprise that the lobbyist-authored document drops any discussion of “earmarking,” it is nevertheless an interesting pivot for Republicans.

On March 11, 2010, House Republicans adopted a one-year moratorium on all earmarks, urging Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in Congress “to follow their lead.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) touted the decision as “an important step toward showing the American people we’re serious about reform.” While Democrats announced a ban on earmarks for private companies the day before, Boehner wanted to “put [all earmarks] on the line to win” the November elections. Republicans touted their measure as a message that they were going to “cleanse themselves” of corruption and bring about “a culture of change”:

See full commentary from Think Progress.

Two great commentaries on The Republican "Pledge to America"

One from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Another from the Examiner.

St. Louis Area Tea Partier Under Investigation for Threatening Obama Takes Hostage

When Federal Agents went to question him, he took a hostage and held police and agents at bay for 8 hours. He wanted to start a religious war and apparently hated Muslims and the President.

TPM has an excellent breakdown of events.

This doesn't surprise me. I am only surprised that it doesn't happen more often, especially here in St. Louis. As if Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh aren't enough to inspire these nuts, there is the St. Louis Tea Party. The St. Louis Tea Party chapter is one of the most virulent out of all of the Tea Party groups around the Country.

President Obama's Town Hall Meeting on the Economy


Highlights of the CNBC Town Hall

Also see Backyard Town Hall Meeting in Virginia

My Take:

He should have been doing nationally televised Town Halls months ago. In fact, he should have been doing these events on a monthly basis from the time he took office. If he would have been doing these back in April.. (just go back to Spring and Summer) the Democrats would be in much better shape right now in terms of public opinion. Instead, they have allowed the conservative media to control the national debate...even to the point of rewriting history to fool and confuse voters, and that has worked for the Republicans very well so far.

But in just the past week, since Democrats decided to fight back (somewhat), their standing has improved. I know this is campaign season.... but some of the strategy that the Democrats are using now should have been used much earlier in the year. I have mentioned Town Halls countless times. One of the big mistakes that Obama made when he won the Presidency was that he disbanded his fact-checking/debunking/ communications teams. The war room of fast reacting staff and volunteers who kept up with much of the lies and misinformation being told about the President during the campaign could have been put to good use during the first 2 years of his Presidency (and beyond). For some reason, President Obama assumed that all would be well after January 2009. But the truth is... on the Republican side, things were just getting started.

I still don't think he completely gets it. The frustration expressed by the guests at the Town Hall was exactly the kind of frustration that Republicans wanted them to have at this point. The GOP wanted to block as much as they could, so that the Presidents own supporters would be frustrated enough to lose faith, give up, and stay home. They definitely were successful at peeling away crucial support from independents. That's why if the Presidential election were held today... it would look more like 2000 or 2004 than the landslide of 2008. And Obama would likely end up on the short end like Gore and Kerry.

But recent polling suggests that when Progressives actually fight back... that when Progressive ideals are put side by side with Tea Party Republican ideals.... that when Progressive plans are compared with Conservative Republican plans, Progressives tend to do a little better in the Court of public opinion. A common sense Progressive vision is much better than what the Tea Party has in mind. Americans are receptive to Progressive views when you break things down into policy and explain it to them in a way that they can comprehend. Why can't Obama and Co. figure this out? Why can't they figure out how to develop a long term strategy that would allow them to compete in the information war?

Their rotten PR annoys me. It's like seeing a superior product being marketed by an atrocious salesman. Companies like this often fail, despite having better stuff.

Why Is Roger Craig Not in the NFL Hall of Fame?


I'm just sayin'....

He is simply the best running back that I have ever seen. There have been a number of great running backs over the decades, but Craig was the best that I saw every week. The best from my generation. Not to take anything away from Marshall Faulk, the Great Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown or the other greats. But Craig was the greatest all-around running back who ever played the game. He had the perfect size and power to be able to maximize all 3 skill sets of the running back (running, blocking, & catching). No other could do all 3 the way he could.

He was one of those pro-athletes who literally revolutionized the position he played. He became the new model for running backs in the NFL. In fact, I mentioned catching above, but catching wasn't a really important part of a running backs job before Craig. It was just something that was done once in a while....and primarily on short screen passes. Bill Walsh (one of his legacies) changed all that around...and gave birth to defenses like that of the Patriots, which many teams have some form of today. Defenses had to adjust to Bill Walsh's style of football (they had no choice...change..or get beaten badly when playing the Niners).

A Running back gaining 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards receiving in the same season? That was off the charts stuff back then. Unheard of. A running back leading the NFL in receptions for a season??? Bonkers stuff... (still crazy). His total yardage is up there with other greats... and if he had not been slowed by injuries later on in his career.... he would have amassed 10,000 career yards on the ground...easily. But his total yardage is still impressive. Not to mention his Super Bowl rings...and what he did in post-season games.

And Roger Craig the man is even more impressive. They don't make athletes like this anymore (or its very rare) and you rarely find men like this anymore in pro sports. The clowns that are in the NFL and NBA today..... well, I could go on for quite a while about that. If you have read this blog long enough, you know what I am thinking on that one.

Craig was also the most graceful and powerful running back that i've ever seen. Loved seeing him literally run through and run over defenders.

A few sportswriters are also beginning to raise a fuss about Roger Craig's omission from the HOF.  Here is a sportswriters top 10 list of players that he thinks should have been inducted by now.

It is a crime that he hasn't been chosen.






Highlight Reel (Just mute the Rap... my apologies...not my video).

Nice profile, with highlights

Fewer Than Half of Black Male Students Are Graduating from High School


A recent report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education found that the overall 2007-2008 graduation rate for black males in the U.S. was only 47 percent, and half of the states have graduation rates for black male students below the national average. Hear a conversation with the authors of the report. see the full report here.

The usual suspects (Black Civil Rights Inc., etc) have made their predictable arguments in response to the data. But frankly, I have been tired of hearing it for a long time. Their argument is always something along the lines of "the system" is leading these kids down a path to failure. "The system" is not spending enough money. "The system" is not coddling these kids enough. "the system, the system, the system".... "the system this... the system that". It's always "the system". Notice how this always seems to be the foundation and basis for all of their arguments. Why is it always.. "The Schools or the System is Failing Black Students". Why isn't the narrative - "Black Parents are Failing Public Schools and Their Own Children".... or "Is Black Culture Complicating Life for Black Children"? These narratives would better reflect the problems in my opinion, but they are not politically correct.

I have pointed out that this argument is a myth several times. One instance in particular would be my post a few years ago about the impact modern Black culture has on educational outcomes. The 2007 Policy Bridge report, entitled "The Rap On Culture: How Anti-Education Messages in Media, at Home, & On The Street Hold Back African American Youth", was confirmation of earlier research by others, including Dr. John Ogbu of UC Berkley, a leading figure in this particular area of research. But you never hear about these studies, because the Black establishment doesn't want to deal with the elephant in the room - Black culture itself. It's too big of a monster to take on. They are afraid of dealing with it because they would create too many enemies from within the so-called "Black Community" (hate that term). It's so much easier for them to blame "the system" and kick the can down the road.

This problem was highlighted rather clearly in last year's CNN report "Black In America" when Steve Perry, Principle of Capital Preparatory Magnet School pointed out that the parents of his mostly minority students, (paraphrasing) 'aren't around'... 'many don't seem to care'....that they 'just aren't involved' in the education of their children. That, ladies & gentleman, is the key to this whole human disaster that is taking place in this Country. And it's bigger than just the so-called "Black Community". This will have a harmful impact on the nation as a whole.... because many of those who aren't graduating, are (let's be honest) going to be involved in criminal activity, making victims out of you, your neighbors, will disrupt the quality of life in America, and they will be a drag on budgets and the economy, because they won't be contributing to society...to the tax base and it will cost money to warehouse them in jail and prison.

Parenting, the life choices of parents (especially Black women, yes I went there- stop laying down with no good thugs, criminals, & deadbeats), the household environment, and the culture that drives much of life outside of school have much more influence over how well a student does in the classroom. You can have the best teachers in the world... but rappers & other Black Hip Hop culture figures hold more sway with most Black youth. They will listen to the rap stars and take cues from them over their teachers....and in some cases, over their parents or other relatives (those who have responsible parents in their lives to begin with). But again, no one wants to talk about this in the national media... or if they do, they glance over it. This has been the elephant in the room for the so-called "Black Community" for at least the past 15-20 years. Civil Rights Inc. wants to avoid this because it actually deals with getting at the heart of the problem. And since the existence of this problem is their bread and butter, why fix it? Facing it head on would also anger half, if not most, of the "Black Community". This is something that the Sharpton's, the Dyson's, the Smiley's, and the Jackson's can't afford to do. Especially when they have books coming out almost every year. Dr. Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint weren't afraid.... but they haven't been able to inspire the fundamental shift needed in Black Culture (few men throughout history have been able to). But at least a few of us get it. Geoffrey Canada is one of those individuals who seems to get it... which is why he brilliantly incorporated parenting skills training, and a strong parent-teacher bond into his Harlem Children's Zone program early on.

I have understood the importance of parenting, doing well in school, moral compasses, structure and discipline for most of my life. Although I didn't have a perfect home situation early on, and was not always the best student. I didn't get in gear until I entered my Sophomore year of High School. But I still understood the importance of all those values. I knew that I had to take education seriously and that if I didn't do well, life was going to be harsh... that there would probably be a prison cell waiting for me.

I noticed something pretty simple back in my formative years. For one, Black youth with anti-education attitudes tended to do worse when they were clumped together...both in school and outside of school. Even in schools that are diverse tend to have this problem, because socially, Blacks tend to stick with Blacks... that's how it was in many of the grade schools and middle schools I was in, including DODDS. We have all (or you should have) read about this from the reports and studies on how students tend to segregate themselves in school (at lunch for example). Why were the outcomes worse? Well, my belief is... when you have like minded people together, certain beliefs and behaviors are reinforced. ("Group-think" for example). But I noticed that there were always pockets of Black students... either anomalies from within the group, or from outside of the group of other Black youth who seemed to excel. And the difference usually had something to do with the way they were being raised... with life in their households. Their lives were as different as night & day from lives of kids in the larger group. The kids with the more watchful and concerned parents, usually got better grades and had fewer (if any) behavioral issues. They may have faked it in school to a point, by buying cool clothes, playing sports, and having cute girls all over them... but that's where the similarities ended. At home, they had structure. The tougher the parents... the better the grades. The more structure... the better the outcomes. The more rules they had..and the more respect (or fear) they had for mom & dad...or the more desire they had to please their parents... the less trouble they found themselves in. The more activities that their parents had them involved in, the better. The more involved the parents were, the better. And I found this to be true no matter where I went to school... Kansas, Germany, Texas, etc. It always translated, without fail. So this is how I know that Civil Rights Inc. is full of s-tuff.

The Obama's are a perfect example of this. The President recently talked about the weekly routine for the first daughters Sasha and Malia. Part of their schedule involves plenty of positive activities. Homework is stressed...and the first couple keeps up with everything that needs to be done. He also mentioned one other thing.... that no T.V. watching is allowed during the week. NO TELEVISION! Even back in my day (mostly the 80's), that would be seen as a punishment. And I would argue that this is pretty much unheard of in the so-called "Black Community". I was allowed to watch TV, go ride my bike all over town (in Kansas), or go play basketball after my homework and chores were done. I lived like a King in Texas...had a King sized bed, had a huge floor model TV with my own cable box, my own phone and could pretty much do what I wanted. I almost wish I had the kind of structure that the Obama girls have now. But I am thankful that I had what I did. But what the Obama's are doing should be the blueprint for other Black families.

Now it is true that the Obama's enjoy certain advantages. For one, they are able to put their daughters in private school. Public schools are indeed a part of the problem (but not the major part in my opinion). In public school, "the system" and your child, who may actually want to learn, has to deal with disruptive students who have not had the proper parenting. Teachers and administrators must take up the slack and deal with the mess left behind by other people. They often have to deal with violence, and even with out of control parents. All of this, plus the misguided intervention from Federal and State governments...putting pressure on teachers to get better test scores out of students who do not want to learn and in some cases have been taught not to take education seriously. This often leads to a situation that chases good teachers away. Where do they go? To the white schools in the suburbs...where school administrations give them more support...and back them up.... administrations who don't take crap from disruptive students or their parents. The working environments tend to be safer (or at least they are perceived as such) and they are paid better to boot - Hell who wouldn't leave in that situation? That's exactly what the current system does...and has been doing for years.

Unfortunately, it comes down to this... the problem of the low Black male graduation rate...and low rates of graduation for Black students as a whole, is a problem that the school systems alone will never be able to fix. The problem is in the Black Culture itself. Teachers cannot solve that problem. Nor can "the system". They don't set cultural values....values at home, etc. It is time for Blacks to stop blaming both.

Black students are capable... that question has been answered. Urban Prep Charter Academy in Chicago, the Harlem Children's Zone, Steve Perry's Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Connecticut and others (along with the many individual success stories) are proof that Black students are capable. So that's not the problem. It is time to start dealing with the real issues rather than reading from the same script. The same old arguments don't work anymore.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Congress should have gone Gaga

When not rocking out, Lady Gaga speaks out. Yesterday, in Portland, Maine, the pop sensation spoke at a rally sponsored by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which supports repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Like Wyclef Jean’s activism in Haiti, and Alicia Keys’s anti-AIDS activism, Lady Gaga works hard whether or not cameras are on.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bethany Storro Acid Attack Story a Big Lie. Blamed Black Woman

Remember Bethany Storro, the Washington woman who reported that a Black woman threw acid on her? Well, she lied. The truth just came out this afternoon. Apparently she threw acid on herself.... and I guess creating a mythical Black suspect made the case more believable. It must have, because the national media jumped all over her story. Basic and obvious questions weren't asked. The suspect information seemed to lend more credibility to her phony story.

This story highlights two issues for me. Number one...would be the issue of Race - particularly the continued use of Blacks and Black images by non-Blacks to, in a way, authenticate reports of crime. The way that this continues to go on is troubling... in fact, this kind of nonsense seems to have picked up since the infamous Charles Stuart case in Boston which nearly tore that city apart. (look it up... I get a headache thinking about that one). And of course there was also the Susan Smith case several years later...which was almost just as bad. There have been a number of lesser known examples over the years. Like the bride who lied about being kidnapped a few years ago.... saying that she was taken by Hispanics. When the truth was revealed, it turned out that she simply ran away because she couldn't handle getting married. Just recently there was the story of a Philly cop who reported that he had been shot by a mythical Black suspect. The truth later revealed that the officer, Robert Ralston, shot himself. There are other smaller examples of this that happen all the time that no one hears about.

The other issue that this story highlights is the sloppy work of today's news media. Good old fashioned journalism and caution have been thrown out of the window. Professional journalism is basically dead today (although there are a few exceptions). Everyone is in a rush to get the story out, and they are forgetting to ask important and basic questions. But this wasn't even a breaking news type of event per se, where there was a mad dash to get something out. At least that's not necessarily how the story was presented. It was one of those... "feel sorry for this poor lady" stories that the big networks seemed to have gotten themselves caught up in. But there still should have been a basic attempt to do a little digging. Skepticism is an important & basic part of good reporting. There were plenty of red flags in this case. With just a little follow-up reporters may have noticed the doubt on the part of the investigators sooner, and held off for a few days before running with the story. That requires good journalism and good intuition on the part of reporters... something lacking in today's media culture where everything is happening so fast...and the news has become so profit driven.



Also see report from ABC national news.

The story made no sense to me from the start... for one, there was no logical motive. The media seemed to gloss over this fact. Also... where were the witnesses in and around all of the businesses in downtown Vancouver Washington? Apparently no one saw a suspect fleeing the scene. No witnesses at all? Typically in a situation like this, where would be surveillance, or a number of witnesses. Often, an attacker in this situation doesn't actually get very far from the scene. Everyone has a cell phone today and they take pictures of everything. But no one seemed to be able to verify this woman's story. No suspects anywhere...and there was nothing out of the ordinary before the incident.

But the report of a mythical Black suspect was just too hard for the media to ignore. That was all the verification that the world needed. This kind of nonsense is getting old.

And i'm still at a loss when it comes to a motive. Why would an attractive woman pour acid on herself? Was she this desperate for attention? (Now that I think about it... she did seem to enjoy all the attention that the media was giving her). Clearly there are some mental issues involved. Tragic!

Related Story

Woman Claims Black Obama Supporter Attacked Her

Jim DeMint Admits Gridlock is Republican Goal In U.S. Senate

Another Republican basically spills the beans on Republican tactics. I guess they are getting comfortable talking about because there has been no public backlash. Not only has there been no backlash....but the strategy has been working pretty well for them so far.

They are going to keep this up all the way through November 2010 and even until 2012. The mainstream media and the Obama Administration have done a horrendous job of highlighting this for voters.

I have mentioned the situation here plenty of times. I even posted graphs and stats showing that it really is different this time (comparing the current political obstruction and use of the filibuster to previous periods in American political history).

Why We Need Public Financing of Political Campaigns

The American political scene is inherently corrupt, and it will remain so until we have public financing of campaigns. The latest example of how the system itself is fundamentally flawed, is the story of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton & her supposed fundraising. Rep. Norton was apparently caught on audio tape begging for money from a lobbyist. Now, I am not suggesting that Rep. Norton is corrupt, but the system she has to navigate through certainly is. It is an environment that invites corrupt activity. I am sure this is a routine part of the job for members of Congress - just normal fundraising. And Rep. Norton technically may not have crossed the line into illegality, because she never specifically promises anything in exchange for a donation. (she knew she was leaving a voicemail recording... so there is really not much of a there there in terms of a scandal, unless the House Ethics Committee can find some technical violation).

But (even though I am skeptical of the source for good reason) the story highlights a broken system. The current system presents inherent conflicts of interest. It is hard for a member of Congress to argue that they are working for the average constituent, when they are really beholden to special interests and their powerful lobbyists.

The most troubling part of the recording is when Rep. Norton points out one of her committee posts, suggesting influence. Again... the issue for me is the inherent institutional corruption surrounding our politics.

If all candidates drew from a public pool, had to work with the same amount of resources, and were precluded from asking for money from the outside, it would make them more responsive and accountable to the people who they actually have a responsibility to represent - their constituents (and on larger legislative issues... the American people as a whole). Currently, corporations and trade groups hold sway over just about every major issue facing this Country.

How Adrian Fenty lost in Washington, D.C.

hat tip for the picture -The Black Snob



The Washington Post, who carried Fenty's water during his term for the most part, must have been anticipating this, because they had, within hours of the votes being counted, this long article on why the mayor lost.

A snippet:



How Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid for D.C. mayor
By Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writers

One afternoon in late June, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's political advisers invited their boss to a downtown conference room to report an unsettling development: Focus groups commissioned by the campaign were saying that Fenty's leadership style was offensive and that he was oblivious to constituents' concerns.

If the mayor had any chance of winning them over, the prospective voters told the campaign, he needed to apologize for his actions.

Tom Lindenfeld, the mayor's chief political strategist, proposed a cure, a one-page letter to be delivered to thousands of voters across the District, a letter in which Fenty would acknowledge mistakes and express remorse. He would promise to change.

"What is this?" the mayor said, reading the letter and tossing it away.

"The things you don't do now will be much harder for voters to ignore later," Lindenfeld told him.

The mayor slammed his hand on the table.

"I'm proud of my record," Fenty shot back, according to Lindenfeld and two others present at the meeting. The mayor stood and walked out.

..........................

How Fenty came to squander that success and the goodwill that catapulted him to office is the story of a mayor who misread an electorate he was sure he knew better than anyone, who ignored advisers' early warnings that key constituencies were abandoning him, who shut out confidantes who told him what he did not want to hear and who began to listen only when the race was all but lost. The account is based on interviews with more than a dozen of Fenty's advisers and supporters, including some such as Lindenfeld and campaign chairman Bill Lightfoot, and others who talked only on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to appear critical of the mayor. The sources were interviewed Tuesday or earlier with the agreement that the information would not be published until after the election. The mayor was interviewed in the final hours before the campaign ended.

Fenty, an incumbent with a $5 million war chest who lost to council Chairman Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday, used many of the same tactics that had won him the mayoralty in 2006, frustrating advisers who thought he needed a more sophisticated campaign. He refused to pay for pollsters to measure the public mood, for example, or hire researchers to dig up dirt on Gray.


Who gathers up a $5 million war chest and doesn't do polls?

That's a basic tenant of politics. The only folks that don't do polls, are campaigns that can't afford to do polls.

But, one didn't need polls, if you had just been reading the opinion columns of Colbert King and Courtland Milloy over at the Washington Post. I've been reading their columns on Fenty for a few years, and you can pretty much chart the building foment against Fenty within the Black Community against Fenty. A simmering discontent that built up over several years into where it boiled over.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why the GOP's love of tax cuts hurts African Americans

At what point do Americans need to reconsider our old political stereotypes? I would say the time is long past due. For too long Americans have labored under the misunderstanding that the Republican Party is the party of fiscal discipline, low taxes and limited spending. The great mystery is how this myth survives year after year.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dr. Ron Walters has passed away at the age of 72



hat tip-New Black Man
Ron Walters, Community's “Tallest Tree,” Dead at 72
by Talibah Chikwendu


For more than four decades, Ronald Walters, PhD. served the African-American community, the United States and the world as a consultant, teacher, writer, mentor and friend. His service came to a close Sept. 10, when he lost a battle with cancer at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. He was 72 years old.

Walters was born in Wichita, Kan. in 1938. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Fisk University and earned a masters degree in African studies and a doctorate in International Studies from American University. Walters was a professor since the early 1970s, teaching at numerous institutions including at Georgetown, Syracuse, Brandeis and Howard universities and the University of Maryland. He was chairman of the Howard University Department of Political Science and chairman of Afro-American Studies at Brandeis. He also served as a visiting professor at Princeton University and was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Walters’ longtime friend the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Howard University had recently convinced Walters to come out of retirement and return to teaching, and that Walters was looking forward to the opportunity.

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) met Walters while a student at Howard. “As a teacher, he always found time for his students,” Cummings told the AFRO. “When he was at Howard, we would fight to get in his classes. He was always telling us to reach high, to be a part of the political process.”

Walters also made his mark as a dedicated scholar, authoring and co-authoring more than 10 books and hundreds of academic articles and commentaries. He was awarded the Ralph Bunch Prize for his book Black Presidential Politics in America. He was also a political consultant, serving as policy adviser to former congressmen William Gray and Charles Diggs. He worked with a number of organizations and serving as director of public policy for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns.

Jackson, who said he visited Walters several times in the hospital over the last few weeks, called Walters a "scholar activist" and "a genius," as well as friend and mentor.

“He's [Walters] the tallest tree in the forest of activists, political scientists,” Jackson said in an interview with the AFRO. “I miss him so much already.”



Rest of the obituary at link above.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The White House Remembers 9/11

hat tip-blackwaterdog

The President was at the Pentagon.





The First Lady was in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where she appeared with former First Lady Laura Bush.





Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden were in New York.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Knock At Midnight - MLK, June 1967

Classic sermon from the Ebenezer Baptist Church. My favorite oratorical piece from MLK.

Listen Here

Shuggie Otis and Love Unlimited

Shuggie Otis - Oxford Gray


Love Unlimited w/ Love Unlimited Orchestra (Barry White & Co.) - I Belong To You



Barry White/ Love Unlimited - I Found Someone/ Live in London 1975

Video from Glenn Beck's 'I Have a Scheme' Rally

Oh my.... America is in trouble.

This ignorance is the force behind the GOP's Mid-term election strategy? Worse yet, they are actually getting away with it. Take a look at a recent video from New Left Media, filmed during the Glenn Beck rally.(Scary)

If you have seen my other postings from New Left Media... then you know their videos are entertaining.

Islamophobia On The Rise

Here are three stories on Islamophobia that caught my ear over the past week. One is a commentary from Reza Aslan. The two others are from NPR's All Things Considered, and Tell Me More. They focus on the wave of Islamophobia that is taking over the Country (whipped up by Republican media), and efforts that are being taken to deal with it.

Here is a post of an old story that I highlighted a few years ago that illustrates the impact that this idiocy has on real people. It's a story told from the perspective of a Muslim family. This is what the Republican media, led by folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, is doing to people. And they know exactly what they are doing. They know that their propaganda whips their followers into a frenzy...and they know what kind of risk that carries - particularly the risk of people being attacked. Yet hate mongers within the Republican media apparatus continue to do what they do. The only explanation for it is that they want to incite certain behavior from their followers.

Some are even hoping to incite Muslims with the hope of sparking some sort of crazy religious or culture war. They have even demonstrated a willingness to put U.S. troops and American citizens overseas at risk because of their stupidity and hate speech. Tea Party Republican pastor Terry Jones has even tried to wash his hands of any responsibility for harm to American soldiers as a result of his 'Burn a Quran Day' event, clearly anticipating violence (which he is hoping for). This shows just how sick some on the Right can be.

Tea Party Republican Pastor Gets Starkest Warning Yet About Planned Quran Burning

Obama: Quran Burning Could Incite ‘Individuals Who’d Be Willing To Blow Themselves Up In American Cities’

On ABC's Good Morning America, President Obama described the planned Quran burning by Tea Party Republican pastor Terry Jones as "destructive" and "contrary to the values of Americans".
as commander of chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan.

This is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.

watch clip



Notice the silence from Republican political leaders. I am annoyed whenever a TV news idiot claims that there has been wide condemnation of Terry Jones in the U.S. (when hearing this nonsense, I am thinking "No there hasn't... the Republican leadership hasn't said or done much of anything").

And you want to know why? Because the Republican leaders in Congress, in the RNC, and among those who wish to run for President, are afraid of challenging the Tea Party or those recognized and well liked by the Tea Party. They can't afford to come out against it. It's the same reason why Michael Steele is afraid of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Limbaugh, his Lieutenants Beck & Hannity, and the nuts in the Tea Party wing of the GOP are in control the Republican Party and its agenda, and the Republican establishment knows it. But there is a thing called courage... and clearly it is lacking among Conservatives. (And they compare themselves to Reagan?... they are nothing like Reagan). This isn't your grandfather's Republican Party.

Pamela Merritt Challenges the "Blackness" Police

Blogger Pamela Merritt challenges perceptions (from other Blacks) about what "Black" is supposed to mean. Love her response. Idiots like the ones she is addressing annoy the hell out of me. Worst than flies at a good barbecue.

Can we just flush the term and concept of "Blackness" down the toilet once and for all? Blacks aren't a monolith, and as such, there can be no one term to describe them.

This is why I am annoyed when someone tries to put me into a box, especially a racial one.

Related

Hear an interview with Pamela Merritt from NPR.

St. Louis Ranks High On List of Most Stressful Cities


I guess this is at least part of the reason why i'm so stressed out, tired, and "angry". St. Louis is like some sort of estranged lover...one that you occasionally get together with...and you still have passion for... but it's a situation where you know it's not really worth the nag and the hassle. Like the lover that you know may not be the best for you, but you can't leave them alone. It's like a love/hate relationship.... with more hate than love.

Portfolio.com has come out with its rankings for the most stressful Metro areas in the Country. See a summary of their report. No surprise that Detroit was ranked #1. But St. Louis wasn't very far behind, coming in at #5 out of 50. St. Louis ranked pretty bad in a few areas... including murders, where it was almost off the charts. See the interactive map. Also see the full list of 50 metro areas.

I don't typically blog about local issues... because that's not my focus. I really don't have much interest in local politics. But from time to time I complain about the nonsense happening here in St. Louis. Eventually something happens to compel me to write. These aren't just crazy rantings...

Ranking poorly on these kinds of lists has become a pattern for St. Louis... there are usually a handful of lists each year that highlight shortcomings in the Metro area. St. Louis (city proper) has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the nation, urban terrorists run rampant, major venues are not the greatest, it is one of the most economically/socially/racially divided cities in North America, the economy is terrible (few opportunities for college grads), it is an old industrial city full of broken dreams that has been slow in keeping up with the rest of the Country, traffic is horrible, safety is always a question mark, and much like Detroit it's a place that people want to get the Hell out of. This is part of the reason why I stay locked in my apartment. There are certain parts of the St. Louis Metro that I consciously avoid just for safety...and to avoid social/cultural pollution. Other areas where I have little choice in going, I try to minimize the frequency of trips. But I find myself making these calculations far too often. If you have to wonder about this constantly... then it can't be the best place for you.

I even despise going to work everyday... it's depressing and stressful. St. Louis is basically a service industry town with a growing low wage sector. It used to be a town full of middle class wages... from a booming car industry, a defense industry (we gave the nation the F-4 Phantom Jet...workhorse of the 1960's & 70's for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, the legendary F-15, and the F-18), airline industry, a booming hub airport, corporate headquarters for a number of Fortune 500's (we gave the nation Budweiser), manufacturing jobs, steel plants, factories, etc. Most of that is gone now. But the cost of living kept going up...as the good paying jobs left town. You have a lot of frustrated, tired people now who are killing themselves working more hours (in many cases... working 2 or 3 jobs) just to survive. And I haven't even mentioned that the dating pool is pretty bad & that the weather sucks.

St. Louis is still a city (and Metro area) mostly in decline.... as is Detroit. These old cities are examples of what the nation could be facing as a whole if it continues on its current path.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

WHY what's happening to Muslims in America Affects YOU

From the head of the New Republic:

hat tip-Andrew Sullivan



In His Gut
07 Sep 2010 08:59 am

This from my old friend and former boss Marty Peretz:

I wouldn't close my eyes or our eyes to the increasing number of both naturalized and native-born citizens who enlist in the Islamic terror networks of our time, here and abroad... [A]mong those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.


I am not a Muslim. I am a Christian. I have no interest in changing religions, and if I did, it wouldn't be to Islam.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution doesn't apply to some people.

It applies to ALL of the citizens of this country. Including those that practice the Faith of Islam. There is no means-test by which some citizens can use it, and others can't.

THIS

This obvious hatred and justification of discrimination against Muslims, and rationalization, in a supposed 'mainstream' publication, is frightening.

And WRONG.

You must push back against it if you call yourself an American. If you believe in the Constitution, you must push back against this.

The First Lady Celebrates Dance and Honors Judith Jamison


WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 07: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Judith Jamison observes a workshop with dance students from across the country in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison to honor Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and artistic director of the dance theater for the past 20 years.
----Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images




Students from different dancing schools take part in a workshop in the East Room at the White House in Washington on September 7, 2010. US First Lady Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks during The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 7, 2010. Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs during "The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison" in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 7, 2010. US First Lady Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The event was organized to tribute to Judith Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 07: The East Room of the White House is transformed into a dance studio during a workshop for students from across the country September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting the workshop with students from the Alvin Ailey School, Ballet Hispanico, Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Washington School of Ballet, the National Dance Institute's New York, Colorado and New Mexico affiliates, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and the Philadelphia School for Creative and Performing Arts.
----Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Students from different dancing schools take part in a workshop in the East Room at the White House in Washington on September 7, 2010. US First Lady Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 07: Malia Obama (L) and Sasha Obama (R) attend the first White House Dance Series with their mother, First Lady Michelle Obama, in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. The dance event was a tribute to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Judith Jamison, a famous modern dancer, choreographer and muse to Alvin Ailey.
----Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs during "The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison" in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 7, 2010. US First Lady Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The event was organized to tribute to Judith Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a tribute to renowned dancer, Judith Jamison, choreographer and artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010.
----AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite


Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs during "The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison" in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 7, 2010. US First Lady Michelle Obama invited world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration?s first event celebrating dance. The event was organized to tribute to Judith Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years.
----JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images



WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 07: First Lady Michelle Obama embraces Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Judith Jamison during the first White House Dance Series in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. The dance event was a tribute Jamison, a famous modern dancer, choreographer and muse to Alvin Ailey.
----Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sowing injustice: Black farmers still owed millions

Dear Black Farmers,

Thanks for all your hard work in the hot sun. Thanks for sweating and toiling day-in, day-out, so that I may eat nutritious meals and even have some leftover to share with poor countries in the world. Thanks for helping make America the world’s breadbasket. As a gesture of our appreciation, I’d like to deny you the opportunity to have access to loans that white farmers easily receive. In fact, I’m so indebted to you that I will refuse to pay you $1.25 billion dollars even after a federal judge ordered me to pony up.

Your BFF,
The United States Senate

Read the rest at The Loop.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Guess who's not running for re-election?

hat tips-JeffL and djchefron



King Richard Daley II is not running for re-election.


Mayor Daley is not seeking another term

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Chicago will have to learn to live without a mayor named Daley. The nation’s longest-serving mayor is calling it quits.

In a stunning development that hit the city like a political earthquake, Richard M. Daley announced Tuesday that he would not seek a seventh term.

Daley made the announcement during a City Hall news conference — deceptively billed as a “major cabinet appointment” — that lasted all of four-and-a-half minutes.

The mayor was flanked by his wife, Maggie, daughters Nora and Elizabeth “Lally,” son Patrick and son-in-law Sean Conroy.

Daley took no questions and choked up twice: when he referred to his son, Kevin, who died of spina bifida at the age of 2, and when he thanked his family for their “love and support . . . without it, I could not have done this.” He was clearly a man at peace with his decision.

“Today, I am announcing that I will not seek a seventh term as mayor of the city of Chicago. Simply put, it’s time. Time for me. And time for Chicago to move on,” said Daley, 68, who will surpass his father as Chicago’s longest-serving mayor in December.

“I’ve given it my all. I’ve done my best. Now, I’m ready with my family to begin the next phase of our lives. In the coming days, I know there will be some reflecting on my time as mayor. Many of you will search to find what’s behind my decision. It’s simple. I have always believed that every person, especially public officials, must understand when it is time to move on. For me, that time is now.”



Well, I thought I might never live to see the day.

The President gives a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee:




FULL TRANSCRIPT




It is good to be back in Milwaukee. Of course, this isn't my first time at Laborfest. I stood right here with you two years ago, when I was still a candidate for this office. During that campaign, we talked about how, for years, the values of hard work and responsibility that built this country had been given short shrift, and how that was slowly hollowing out our middle class. About how some on Wall Street took reckless risks and cut corners to turn huge profits, while working Americans were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat. And about how the decks were too often stacked in favor of the special interests and against working Americans. What we knew, even then, was that these years would be some of the most difficult in our history. And then, two weeks later, the bottom fell out of the economy. Middle-class families suddenly found themselves swept up in the worst recession in our lifetimes. So the problems facing working families are nothing new. But they are more serious than ever. And that makes our cause more urgent than ever.

For generations, it was the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world. It's got to be that way again. It was folks like you, after all, who forged that middle class. It was working men and women who made the twentieth century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today - the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans, those cornerstones of middle class security that all bear the union label. And it was that greatest of generations that built America into the greatest force for prosperity, opportunity and freedom the world has ever known. Americans like my grandfather, who went off to war just boys, returned home men, and traded one uniform and set of responsibilities for another. Americans like my grandmother, who rolled up their sleeves and worked in factories on the home front. When the war was over, they studied under the GI Bill; bought homes under the FHA; raised families buttressed by good jobs that paid good wages with good benefits. It was through my grandparents' experience that I was brought up to believe that anything is possible in America.

But they also knew the feeling when that opportunity is pulled out from under you. They would tell me about seeing their fathers or uncles losing jobs during the depression; how it wasn't just the loss of a paycheck that stung. It was the blow to their dignity; their sense of self-worth. I'll bet a lot of us have seen people changed after a long bout of unemployment; how it can wear down even the strongest spirits. So my grandparents taught me early on that a job is about more than a paycheck, as important as that is. A job is about waking up every day with a sense of purpose, and going to bed each night fulfilled. A job is about meeting your responsibilities to yourself, to your family, to your community. I carried that lesson with me all those years ago when I got my start fighting for men and women on the South Side of Chicago after their local steel plant shut down. I carried that lesson with me through my time as a state senator and a U.S. Senator. I carry that lesson with me today. And I know that there are folks right here in Milwaukee and all across America who are going through these kinds of struggles.

Eight million Americans lost their jobs in this recession. And while we've had eight straight months of private sector job growth, the new jobs haven't been coming fast enough. Now, the plain truth is, there's no silver bullet or quick fix to the problem. Even when I was running for this office, we knew it would take time to reverse the damage of a decade's worth of policies that saw a few folks prosper while the middle class kept falling behind - and it will take more time than any of us wants to dig out of the hole created by this economic crisis. But on this Labor Day, there are two things I want you to know, Milwaukee. Number one: I'm going to keep fighting, every single day, to turn this economy around; to put our people back to work; to renew the American Dream for your families and for future generations.

Number two - and this I believe with every fiber of my being: America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class, and the chance for everybody, no matter how humble their beginnings, to join that middle class. A middle class built on the idea that if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can get ahead - and enjoy some basic guarantees in life. A good job that pays a good wage. Health care that'll be there when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not rich. An education that'll give our kids a better life than we had. These are simple ideas. American ideas.

I was thinking about this last week. On the day I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq, I spent some time, as I often do, with our soldiers and veterans. This new generation of troops coming home from Iraq has earned its place alongside that greatest generation. Like them, they have the skills and training and drive to move America's economy forward once more. And from the time I took office, we've been investing in new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service that's worthy of their sacrifice. But they're coming home to an economy hit by recession deeper than any we've seen. And the question is, how do we create the same kind of middle class opportunity my grandparents' generation came home to? How do we build our economy on the same kind of strong, stable foundation for growth? Well, anyone who thinks we can move this economy forward with a few doing well at the top, hoping it'll trickle down to working folks running faster and faster just to keep up - they just haven't studied our history. We didn't become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We didn't come this far by letting special interests run wild. We didn't do it by just gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street. We did it by producing goods we could sell; we did it with sweat and effort and innovation. We did it by investing in the people who built this country from the ground up - workers, and middle-class families, and small business owners. We did it by out-working, out-educating, and out-competing everyone else. Milwaukee, that's what we're going to do again.

That's what's been at the heart of all our efforts: building our economy on a new foundation so that our middle class doesn't just survive this crisis - but thrives once we emerge. And over the last two years, that's meant taking on some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for too long. That's why we passed financial reform that provides new accountability and tough oversight of Wall Street; reform that will stop credit card companies from gouging you with hidden fees and unfair rate hikes; reform that ends the era of taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street once and for all. That's why we eliminated tens of billions of dollars in wasteful taxpayer subsidies to big banks that provide student loans. We're using those savings to put a college education within reach for working families. That's why we passed health insurance reform that will make coverage affordable; reform that ends the indignity of insurance companies jacking up your premiums at will or denying you coverage just because you get sick; reform that shifts control from them to you. That's why we're making it easier for workers to save for retirement, with new ways of saving your tax refunds, a simpler system for enrolling in plans like 401(k)s, and fighting to strengthen Social Security for the future. And to those who may still run for office planning to privatize Social Security, let me be clear: as long as I'm President, I'll fight every effort to take the retirement savings of a generation of Americans and hand it over to Wall Street. Not on my watch.

That's why we've given tax cuts to small business owners. Tax cuts to clean energy companies. A tax cut to 95 percent of working Americans, just like I promised you on the campaign. And instead of giving tax breaks to corporations to create jobs overseas, we're cutting taxes for companies that put our people to work here at home. That's why we're investing in growth industries like clean energy and manufacturing. And you've got leaders here like Tom Barrett and Jim Doyle who have been fighting to bring those jobs to Milwaukee and to Wisconsin. Because we want to see the solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars of tomorrow manufactured here. We don't just want to buy stuff made elsewhere; we want to grow our exports so the world buys products that say "Made in America." Because there are no better workers than American workers, and I'll place my bet on you any day of the week.

When the naysayers said we should just let the American auto industry vanish and take hundreds of thousands of jobs down with it, we said we'd stand by them if they made the tough choices necessary to compete once again - and today, that industry is on the way back. Now, another thing we've done is make sound and long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated and inefficient national infrastructure. We're not just talking new roads, bridges, dams and levees; but also a smart electric grid and the broadband internet and high-speed rail lines required to compete in the 21st century economy. We're talking investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs today. It was because of these investments, and the tens of thousands of projects they spurred all over the country, that the battered construction sector actually grew last month for the first time in a long time. Still, nearly one in five construction workers are unemployed. And it doesn't do anybody any good when so many American workers have been idled for months, even years, at a time when there is so much of America to rebuild. That's why, today, I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America's roads, rails and runways for the long-term. Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads - enough to circle the world six times. We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways - enough to stretch coast-to-coast. We're going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers - something I think folks across the political spectrum could agree on. This is a plan that will be fully paid for and will not add to the deficit over time - we're going to work with Congress to see to that. It sets up an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on the smartest investments. It will continue our strategy to build a national high-speed rail network that reduces congestion, travel times, and harmful emissions. It will cut waste and bureaucracy by consolidating and collapsing more than 100 different, often duplicative programs.

And it will change the way Washington spends your tax dollars; reforming the haphazard and patchwork way we fund and maintain our infrastructure to focus less on wasteful earmarks and outdated formulas, and more on competition and innovation that gives us the best bang for the buck. All of this will not only create jobs now, but will make our economy run better over the long haul. It's a plan that history tells us can and should attract bipartisan support. It's a plan that says even in the still-smoldering aftermath of the worst recession in our lifetimes, America can act to shape our own destiny, to move this country forward, to leave our children something better - something lasting.

So these are the things we've been working for. These are some of the victories that you helped us achieve. And we're not done. We've got a lot more progress to make. And I believe we will.

But there are some folks in Washington who see things differently. When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen the middle class and rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress said no. Even where we usually agree, they say no. They think it's better to score political points before an election than actually solve problems. So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle-class tax cuts. No to unemployment insurance. No to clean energy jobs. No to making college affordable. No to reforming Wall Street. Even as we speak, these guys are saying no to cutting more taxes for small business owners. I mean, come on! Remember when our campaign slogan was "Yes We Can?" These guys are running on "No, We Can't," and proud of it.

Really inspiring, huh? To steal a line from our old friend, Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women that they find so offensive? When we passed a bill earlier this summer to help states save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off, they said "no" to that, too. In fact, the Republican who's already planning to take over as Speaker of the House dismissed them as "government jobs" that weren't worth saving. Not worth saving? These are the people who teach our kids. Who keep our streets safe. Who put their lives on the line for our own. I don't know about you, but I think those jobs are worth saving. We made sure that bill wouldn't add to the deficit, either. We paid for it by finally closing a ridiculous tax loophole that actually rewarded corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. It let them write off the taxes they pay foreign governments - even when they don't pay taxes here. How do you like that - middle class families footing tax breaks for corporations that create jobs somewhere else! Even a lot of America's biggest corporations agreed the loophole should be closed, that it wasn't fair - but the man with the plan to be Speaker is already aiming to open it up again.

Bottom line is, these guys refuse to give up on the economic philosophy they peddled for most of the last decade. You know that philosophy: you cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; you cut rules for special interests; you cut working folks like you loose to fend for yourselves. They called it the ownership society. What it really boiled down to was: if you couldn't find a job, or afford college, or got dropped by your insurance company - you're on your own. Well, that philosophy didn't work out so well for working folks. It didn't work out so well for our country. All it did was rack up record deficits and result in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

I'm not bringing this up to re-litigate the past; I'm bringing it up because I don't want to re-live the past. It would be one thing if Republicans in Washington had new ideas or policies to offer; if they said, you know, we've learned from our mistakes. We'll do things differently this time. But that's not what they're doing. When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, he actually said they'd follow "the exact same agenda" as they did before I took office. The exact same agenda. So basically, they're betting that between now and November, you'll come down with a case of amnesia. They think you'll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they're asking you for the keys back. Do you want to give them the keys back? Me neither. And do you know why? Because they don't know how to drive! At a time when we're just getting out of the ditch, they'd pop it in reverse, let the special interests ride shotgun, and hit the gas, careening right back into that ditch.

Well, I refuse to go backwards, Milwaukee. And that's the choice America faces this fall. Do we go back to the policies of the past? Or do we move forward? I say we move forward. America always moves forward. And we are going to keep moving forward today. Let me just close by saying this. I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried, and there's still a lot of hurt out here. I hear about it when I spend time in towns like this; I read about it in your letters at night. And when times are tough, it can be easy to give in to cynicism and fear; doubt and division - to set our sights lower and settle for something less. But that is not who we are. That is not the country I know.

We do not give up. We do not quit. We are a people that faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats; and lit the way for the rest of the world. Whenever times have seemed at their worst, Americans have been at their best. Because it is in those times when we roll up our sleeves and remember that we will rise or fall together - as one nation, and one people. That's the spirit that started the labor movement. The idea that alone, we are weak. Divided, we fall. But united, we are strong. That's why we call them unions. That's why we call this the United States of America. Milwaukee, that's the case I am going to make across the country this fall - yours. And I am asking for your help. If you are willing to join me, and Tom Barrett, and Gwen Moore, and Russ Feingold, we can strengthen our middle class and make our economy work for working Americans again. We can restore the American Dream and deliver it safely to our children. That's how we built the last American century. That's how we'll build the next. We don't believe in the words "No, we can't." We are Americans, and in times of great challenge, we push forward with an unyielding faith that we can. Yes, we can. Thank you, God Bless You and the work you do, and God Bless the United States of America.