Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Symposium on Poverty in America

See the full symposium on poverty which was held this January on the campus of George Washington University. The event was hosted by Tavis Smiley. The discussion was based, in part, on data from Indiana University, which focused on poverty and the impact of the Great Recession. See the full list of panelists here. Of course Tavis Smiley tries to take a few jabs at President Obama for not making the poor a higher priority. It's as if Tavis has been living in a bubble and is not aware that Congress has blocked and undermined Obama more aggressively than any other President in recent history. Despite Tavis Smiley falling out of favor somewhat with me, I still believe that the report and symposium are useful. Also Barbara Ehrenreich is on the panel.... which makes it worth it for me.

I'm one of those people who can't seem to get a good foothold in the middle class, so this is an issue for me. Although I know that neither party is going to do much of anything to help the poor/working class or recent college grads who can't find work, and nor do they want to help. Their main concerns are getting big donations, maintaining their corrupt relationships with special interests, keeping their benefactors happy, and getting re-elected. But these discussions may help force the issue into the national debate and thus force the candidates to address the issue. Voters want populist, pragmatic solutions and this is an issue which could actually help Progressives in November. It would help President Obama position himself as the more reasonable, populist candidate against an opponent who is literally sponsored by (and who literally represents) big business. Why Obama's advisers are reluctant to take a more populist/progressive position is a mystery to me. When issues are broken down piece by piece... to a level where Americans have an understanding of how policy will actually affect them, the more populist & progressive position almost always wins more public support. When progressives fail on PR, fail to communicate with the public, attempt to move too far right, allow Fox & other media to define candidates and refuse to fight back, progressives lose.

An Interview with Tuskegee Airman Dr. Roscoe Brown

                                            Dr. Roscoe Brown

Hear a great interview with real Tuskegee Airman Dr. Roscoe Brown and actor David Oyelowo. They discuss their work on the film Red Tails. Some black bloggers and commentators have trashed the film. Their criticisms include poor dialogue and the fact that the characters didn't behave like present day black minstrels by using the N-word and being playboys, attempting to bed every woman in sight. Completely asinine. But not surprising.

The so-called "Black Community", by in large, has come to expect Tyler Perry, Booty Call, Soul Plane, Get Rich or Die Tryin' or some other garbage that shows Black Americans, particularly Black men, in a negative light. It has become so much a part of the norm that they get upset when those stereotypes are not played up. One would think it should be the opposite. Blacks flock to the theaters in droves to see one ignorant Black film after another.

The fact is, I was not expecting Academy Award recognition with this kind of project. Red Tails is basically an action film with a particular historical context. The film is largely fiction, within that historical context.... we know that already. So there was no expectation of Sidney Poitier greatness with this one. So what if the dialogue doesn't make the film an Oscar contender. I have already seen the film "The Tuskegee Airmen", (a film that has thicker dialogue and digs deeper into the characters). I have also seen at least two documentaries on the Tuskegee Airmen, being the documentary addict that I am. I had no expectation that Hollywood would live up to those earlier projects. With a commercial film like Red Tails, my only expectation is to be entertained.... to feel proud for what those men accomplished, and to get a diversion from all the Hell I have to deal with struggling through life from day to day.

Upset with the lack of  the N-word in the dialogue? What? First, this was meant to be a family film for all Americans to enjoy. Again... it wasn't meant to be Booty Call or Soul Plane. Secondly, some have a serious lack of understanding about their own history in this country. It simply was not all that popular for Black men of that caliber to throw the N-word around the way that idiots do today. News Flash: Blacks were still being lynched and terrorized in the 1930's and 40's.

Who cares if there were no sex scenes or stories of girlfriends. I'm completely ok with that. It was World War II for crying out loud. The film is about the Red Tails, not Black Tail. It's as if Black men must always be portrayed as crazed oversexed animals and playboys, chasing every piece of ass they can find, in order for characters to be seen as authentically Black. Has this really become the expectation when it comes to Black men?

The bottom line criticism that seems to be the real issue is the fact that a white man, George Lucas,  produced and funded the film. The fact that it was not a Black project from conception, in some sort of strange way, takes away Blackness points. It's an incredibly strange & nescient mindset and I don't understand it. But it is no surprise to me. When positive Black films are released, Blacks (some... certainly a large segment) find a way to trash it, criticize it, or not to support it with the same enthusiasm that they would with a more urban picture or for a Black Friday sale...or a pair of sneakers made in a sweat shop overseas.

With Red Tails, we finally have a positive Black film that is intended for all Americans, as opposed to just one particular demographic. Finally there is a Black big screen film that shows not just one Black man.... but a group of Black men as American heroes. If this film peaks the curiosity of young Americans, particularly young Black Americans, and encourages them to learn more, then it's a worthwhile project on that basis alone in my opinion.

I don't usually go to the movies to see Black films. I have seen the Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson piece (because I can't resist a good mafia flick), Training Day, Eve's Bayou, Antwone Fisher, Men of Honor, John Q.  and Devil in a Blue Dress...but those were released quite a long time ago. How "Black" are those films anyway? Some weren't really "Black" films as we know them today. The bottom line is... those were good films, well put together, well acted, well thought out, and they didn't pander to the worst stereotypes about Black Americans. I steer clear of the other franchises... like Tyler Perry.
I haven't been out to see a movie (any film) at the theater in years for that matter, but I plan to see Red Tails next week. I was too sick and overwhelmed to check it out this week.... I prefer the second or third week anyway... it allows you to avoid crowds (I have a huge dislike of crowds) and actually enjoy the film.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The President's 2012 State of the Union Address

2012 State Of The Union Address: Enhanced Version

From Balloon Juice:

SOTU Reaction
by John Cole

I gotta say, every time I get some one on one time with that guy, which is basically what the SOTU is- an opportunity for the President to speak to America, I just want to vote for him early and often. The contrast between Obama and the crowd of miscreants in the GOP running to replace him is just striking.

One of the things I found interesting is that if you are a political junkie, you will find the speech from Obama a little bit feistier than those who are casual observers of the political process. I caught the references to Solyndra and telling the Republicans to back off on that nonsense, I got the DADT references, and so forth.

But most of all, every time I hear him speak, I am still aware of all the things I disagree with him on, but think “That is a good man doing what he thinks is best.” That is really all you can ask for from someone, because as far as I can tell, I’m the only one who agrees with me 100% of the time. And as you all know, if you give me a week, I’ll disagree with myself.

We really don’t deserve him. We really don’t.

Romney Claims His Real Tax Rate Is ‘Closer To 45 Or 50 Percent’

From ThinkProgress:

Watch Mitt Spin: Romney Claims His Real Tax Rate Is ‘Closer To 45 Or 50 Percent’

By Judd Legum on Jan 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm

During an interview with Univision, Romney was pressed on whether it was fair for him to pay about 13 percent of his income in taxes — as he did in 2010, according to his recently released tax returns — when many middle class families pay far more. Romney proceeded to claim that his actual rate is “closer to 45 or 50 percent.”

To justify his figure, Romney relied on his belief that “corporations are people.” When Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked Romney if his 13 percent tax rate is “fair,” Romney suggested adding the maximum corporate tax rate (35 percent) to his personal taxes to calculate his real rate:

RAMOS: You just released your tax returns. In 2010 you only paid 13 percent of taxes while most Americans paid much more than that. Is that fair?

ROMNEY: Well, actually, I released two years of taxes and I think the average is almost 15 percent. And then also, on top of that, I gave another more 15 percent to charity. When you add it together with all of the taxes and the charity, particularly in the last year, I think it reaches almost 40 percent that I gave back to the community. One of the reasons why we have a lower tax rate on capital gains is because capital gains are also being taxed at the corporate level. So as businesses earn profits, that’s taxed at 35 percent, then as they distribute those profits as dividends, that’s taxed at 15 percent more. So, all total, the tax rate is really closer to 45 or 50 percent.

RAMOS: But is it fair what you pay, 13 percent, while most pay much more than that?

ROMNEY: Well, again, I go back to the point that the, that the funds are being taxed twice at two different levels.

Romney glosses over the fact that he is not a corporation and doesn’t pay corporate taxes. Additionally, most corporations pay far lower than a 35 percent rate. In fact, many profitable corporations pay nothing at all.

In the alternative, Romney suggested that his tax rate should be considered “almost 40 percent” because he gave a substantial amount of money to charity, mostly to the Mormon church. Romney should be lauded for his charitable contributions — and received a tax deduction for them — but charitable contributions are not taxes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Beyonce Syndrome: The Impact of Pop Culture on Young Women of Color

I must be one of the three or four Black Americans who hasn’t been bitten by the Beyonce bug… because I just don’t understand why she is worshipped like a deity, especially by the masses within “Black America”. The same goes for the rapper Shawn Carter or "Jay Z". I just don’t understand the fascination with either of them. Those familiar with my writing are aware of how I generally feel about rappers and the whole Hip Hop culture. Let's just say if I could be a dictator for a week, one of my first acts would be to round them up and drop them all off on an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean so that they could fend for themselves. Only half kidding. Needless to say, I pretty much despise the rap community.

Beyonce has had an enormous impact on the popular culture - 75 million records sold is a testament to her reach. But no demographic has been more impacted than Black Americans, particularly Black women & girls. Her appeal is so strong that even the First Lady of the United States, and her daughters adore & admire her. She has established a tremendous following. Beyonce on being a role model:

“Being a Role Model Is Something That I’ve Always Been.”

Beyonce revealed recently that Michelle Obama contacted her and expressed gratitude that she was a role model for the Obama daughters.

The above statement attributed to Michelle Obama appears to be backed up by a video from 2011, courtesy of ABC and Politico.

Really Mrs. Obama? Your Harvard law degree, successful career and strong family doesn't respresent a better example? I'm not going to beat up on the First Lady... but the idea of Beyonce being a top role model is troubling.

The influence, though huge, has not been all positive. On the surface- seeing a successful African American woman should appear to be positive & empowering. But in the case of Beyonce (and those like her) the facts underneath the surface have done far more harm than good to Black women and the larger Black community. Beyonce’s tremendous influence over such a large demographic has resulted in what I call “The Beyonce Syndrome”. This term is not meant to be assigned exclusively to this performer. It represents certain lifestyles & values that could be assigned to a number of entertainers more collectively. However, Beyonce has become a symbol that encompasses all of the traits that are problematic about women of color in the 21st century. She is a symbol for what is happening as a result of pop culture’s influence over certain groups, particularly in the Black community.

The majority of  Black American women & girls between the ages of 15 & 35 indeed have “The Beyonce Syndrome”. I hate to be anecdotal but I would say, just through observation, that 50% would be a huge underestimate. What does Beyonce really stand for? What kinds of values does she stand for? What does “The Beyonce Syndrome” mean?

The following Youtuber really does a great job explaining a large portion of what “The Beyonce Syndrome” is all about. He used the entertainer "Mya" as the example here, but it's all the same thing.

Part I

Part II

“The Beyonce Syndrome” is a system of beliefs, behaviors and values that:

1). Has implanted into the collective sub-conscience of young women, especially young women of color, the idea that thugs, rappers, drug dealers, gang bangers, criminals, abusers and womanizers are not only acceptable as mates, but should in fact be the ideal.

2). Has completely changed the perception for women of what the ideal man should be, with disastrous consequences.

3). Has given young women a value system void of substance, that cheapens their image/bodies, and works against establishing good strong families.

4). Teaches women to put undue value on material possessions and looks.

5). Teaches women of color to use sex/their bodies to get what they want and show as much skin as possible.

Now I won’t get into a debate about whether a large number of Black American women (not all of course…but vast majority) are infatuated by the “thug” or thug image or any of the different variations of the “bad boy”. I have already debated that issue and those who share my view have already won that argument. The evidence is pretty clear on that one. No one can honestly say anymore that this isn’t happening. But of course, there are plenty of Black women who will continue to argue that this is all made up. That the phenomenon doesn’t exist at all. Ignorance is indeed bliss.

Debating this issue with Black women is like being out in the middle of a typhoon and having someone standing next to you telling you how sunny & beautiful the day is. Their perception of reality is different from what everyone else in the world sees.

What “The Beyonce Syndrome” has helped to do (more than any other phenomenon in the past 20 years) is normalize thug culture. It has turned the thug into a protagonist of sorts (Tupac is considered a hero in modern Black culture on par with civil rights icons… complete insanity). It has made the thug the ideal. Now, Black men like “Jay Z“, “TI“, “Lil Wayne”, 50 Cent ______ (plug in just about any popular rapper of that genre) are held up as heroes in modern Black culture. Black men who pursue education stay out of trouble, go to work everyday and take care of their responsibilities, send flowers and believe in doing thoughtful things for women…are considered by women of color to be undesirable cornballs…men who are weak. In fact, the friendzone is awash with gentlemen who are considered “too nice“.

Young Black boys, knowing now that this is what the opposite sex wants, are encouraged to emulate these modern black cultural icons (tongue in cheek) even more. They are encouraged to act out, join gangs, disrespect authority, disrupt the classroom, disregard education, and disrespect women, etc. They are desperately trying to impress the young Beyonce’s. This is largely why Black male student achievement is in the toilet. This perpetuates the negative cycle that continues to strangle the so called “Black community“ -- high rates of out of wedlock births, sexual promiscuity, poor educational performance, poor parenting, poor treatment of women, values that don’t promote education, and so forth.

We now have generations of young women of color who want to emulate Beyonce, Rihanna, and all the rest of the glorified “video vixens” who have reached stardom. Young women of color today now believe that dating a drug dealer is really hot. The danger is exciting (this is what they believe). They want to be just like Beyonce (dating the former drug dealer Jay Z). The fact that this man was once a drug dealer… makes black women fawn over him even more. nevermind the fact that Jay Z has apparently even referred to his own wife as “his bitch” in one song. How is that empowering for women?

Just look at what Beyonce promotes in her songs. Listen/check the lyrics of her songs. Researching the lyrics for this commentary… I found that the songs are worse than what I even thought. Check on the songs “Thug Love”, or “Sexy Little Thug”, or her anthem “Soldier”. These are just a few. But they get to the heart of what Beyonce is all about. All of the songs are aimed at praising and promoting thugs and the so-called “thug life”. Check out one of Rihanna’s ode’s to the thug, entitled “There’s a Thug In My Life”. There is a pattern here… this isn’t by happenstance. The worst thing about all of this is that there are millions of young women of color who are emulating (or who want to emulate) these women as much as possible.

Beyonce as the example has given young women the green light. This is no longer the exception…. but the rule today. Non-black groups also have their love of the “bad boy”… but it has always been the exception. That was once the case in the Black community, but women like Beyonce have helped to turn that exception into the rule.

It’s not just Black women with low education or who are socio-economically disadvantaged who have been affected by “The Beyonce Syndrome” (although poorer women are much less able to mitigate the consequences and thus suffer the most). Black women who are college educated, professional, churchgoing, and seemingly responsible have also embraced the Beyonce value system. I would be rich if I had $10.00 for each time I have seen “good”, decent women of color walking around with thugs with tattoos all over their heads and bodies, and/or pants down around their knees - in public w/ no shame. I’m talking about women, some of whom are supposedly the cream of the crop. Take Eudoxie Agnan for example… she’s apparently the long-time girlfriend of rapper Christopher Bridges, also known as Ludacris. Agnan is a former medical student. Keep in mind, Ludacris is a clown who openly and routinely shows degrading images of women, refers to them as whores, disrespects women (and the more he does it, the more they seem to want him…and of course his money). Agnan maintained a gig as a groupie on the side, and it looks like that may have paid off for her. She dropped out of med school once she hit the Hip Hop groupie lotto (what they all do once they reach their goal of getting together with a rapper, professional athlete, actor, media mogul, wealthy business man…etc). Basically she’s another glorified video vixen by another name.. But the point is… it’s not just the poor and uneducated girl from public housing who finds these men irresistible. This is happening with women of color across the socio-economic spectrum. Gabrielle Union (another glorified vixen), Jennifer Lopez, Vivica Fox, Mariah Carey and a long list of pop stars, entertainers, and women who have gone to college find these men attractive…both physically and culturally. There are millions of young women of color who emulate these entertainers and follow their lead on dating and relationships, just as they do with fashion.

The story of Brittany Smith is one of many examples of the college girl with a promising future who loved criminals and losers. Smith was a Harvard University student who ended up throwing her future away taking part in her thug boyfriends criminal activities, and then trying to protect him.

This is an epidemic. But it’s not just young women under 30 who have this warped mindset. Older women of color well into their 30's & 40's (and up) also play this game of minimizing thug culture and making up excuses for what they find sexy and attractive in these men. A different variation of "The Beyonce Syndrome" perhaps, but it's the same thing. I see/hear this nonsense often. They try to change terminology, and come up with all sorts of reasons why these men are acceptable...and why their peers should pursue men who display certain characteristics that fit the thug image, while at the same time, reassuring women of color that it's OK to bring these men into their lives...minimizing/ignoring consequences, and ignoring the fact that the authentic/real family man or "good man" is not the thug. When I hear this crap, my head starts to feel like it's going to explode.

This is why I have very little in common with the typical Black American woman. Of course there are exceptions, but there are not many Clair Huxtables, Lisa Bonet’s, Halle Berry’s, or Rachel True’s around. It is not even a 1 in 10 proposition anymore. It used to be…. But not today. This is why I can’t see myself dating a Black woman. Never have. The worldviews just don’t match up. I have seen Black women who are the exception to all of this madness…but they are so few and far between that it’s just not worth the time it would take to ever meet one, let alone connect. By the time you weed through all of the trash to get to a gem, you have wasted so much time and effort… Interracial dating is no walk in the park either. Needless to say, my dating options have always been extremely limited.

I noticed the differences between Black American women/girls and others early on. I cannot count how many times I was seen as a cornball in school because I actually wanted to do the work. I was too young to understand why that was happening at the time (middle school). My first dance (in middle school) was with a white girl. My early experiences with Black women/girls provided the imprint for how I would see them in adulthood. I can say with confidence, that my views have only been confirmed and solidified.

No Black woman has successfully been able to debate me on this issue. Most often they have either reverted to name calling when they realize they can’t win the argument, or they have just avoided the debate. I recently tried to have this debate on the website “ThoseGirlsAreWild.com”. This is supposed to be a comedy/pop culture site run by 2 young women from Canada. They are kids basically. They are young women of color in their early 20’s… the demographic most influenced by the Beyonce world view. I would say they are above average… but I wouldn’t consider them to be “the cream of the crop”. They have a distorted view of relationships and pop culture. Nice young women nevertheless. It’s no surprise that they happen to be absolute devotees of Beyonce. I simply wanted them to admit to the harmful impact their hero has had on women of color. Of course they did no such thing and resorted to name calling. They refused to debate because in their minds, no problem existed.

The issue that caused me to raise the subject came about when one of the bloggers from “ThoseGirlsAreWild.com” (who I won’t name) criticized a Canadian entertainer for using sex appeal/or showing skin, to get ahead in her career. Since they are devotees of Beyonce, Rihanna, and several others who rely heavily on selling sex (people who can’t make it on singing/musical talent alone - who I would go as far as saying rely primarily on sex appeal as opposed to talent) I thought the comments were hypocritical.  They were unable to debate me on any of the merits of the argument that I presented. None.

What has become clear to me is that many of those with “The Beyonce Syndrome” don’t know that they have it. It is so deeply ingrained in their sub-conscience that they don’t realize it. That makes it even worse. That is like a child who doesn’t feel pain - they have to be monitored closely because they may kill themselves. They tend to dive into situations (literally and figuratively) because they can’t feel pain. When someone has behaviors, beliefs, and conditions that are causing them harm and they either can’t or refuse to acknowledge the problem…it makes it worse. It’s the same thing that makes drug addicts such a danger to themselves - denial, denial, denial. They are often unaware of how bad things really are.

What we have now are black women who are diving in head first into a relationship culture that devalues them. I have covered this before in “Black women & The Race to The Bottom”.

Writer Kerri Herndon gives some insight on the thinking of women who find these men and this lifestyle attractive.

So what has been the result of “The Beyonce Syndrome”? Besides the continued high rate of out of wedlock births, households without a good father, sky high crime rates in inner cities, and a culture of violence and criminality, we have young women of color who have not only embraced the Beyonce value system, but have become agents for those who abuse them. Listen to this recent NPR report on the domestic violence case involving the performer Rihanna (reluctant to call her a singer…because well… she can’t sing). The story is disturbing, but it didn’t surprise me at all. It supports everything that I have been saying over the past several years. After the beating… (just as I had predicted) Chris Brown is more popular than ever and the women crave him even more. I can recall one video clip where Brown was romancing a 16 year old girl on stage (not long after the beating)…. Makes you wonder what kind of mother would allow that…because you know what kind of message it sends. Horrible. I know one thing for damn sure…. that kind of mother will not birth my children. No chance!

BTW, Gina McCauley completely missed the elephant in the room in her comments in the NPR story. She spends the segment trying to come up with a way to blame Black men for the behavior of black women/girls, the mothers of black women/girls, and the entertainers who act recklessly when it comes to their responsibility as role models for young women.

What is it about the social DNA of Black women/women of color that makes them more susceptible to this madness? I understand socio-economic disadvantage… but that can’t explain it all. When will people admit that this is a problem?

Youtube Links:


Black woman admits

Thug Appeal

No Comments

I just don't have the time to police ignorant comments.

2012 State of the Union Preview

hat tip-The Obama Diary:

Behind The Scenes: Writing the 2012 State of the Union Address

January 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm
The First Lady’s guest list tonight:

SGT Ashleigh Berg, USA
Malibu, California

SGT Ashleigh Berg is from Malibu, California, and joined the United States Army in July of 2004. SGT Berg has been stationed in South Korea and Germany, and has served two tours of duty in Iraq. Her husband, SGT Matthew Berg, USA is currently deployed to Afghanistan on his 3rd combat tour. SGT Berg is currently assigned to the 94th Army Missile Defense Command in Fort Shafter Hawaii, and is serving a three year tour as the Commanding General’s Executive Administrative assistant.

Alicia Boler-Davis
Plant Manager, General Motors Orion Assembly
Detroit, Michigan

Alicia Boler-Davis lives in Detroit with her husband, Fitzgerald, and their two young sons. She is the plant manager at General Motors Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, and is responsible for overseeing the production of the first new small car program from General Motors to be manufactured in the United States. Last October, Ms.

Boler-Davis led President Obama and President Lee of South Korea on a tour of the General Motors Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping. President Obama and President Lee traveled to the GM plant to highlight the free trade agreements and the resurgence of the American auto industry.

Debbie Bosanek
Assistant, Berkshire Hathaway
Bellevue, Nebraska

A Nebraska native, Debbie Bosanek has worked for Berkshire Hathaway for 37 years and has been Warren Buffett’s secretary for almost two decades. Last September, the President proposed the “Buffett Rule” as part of comprehensive tax reform, and is working to build an economy that works for everyone, including Americans like Ms. Bosanek, not just a wealthy few. Ms. Bosanek lives in Bellevue, Nebraska with her husband of 23 years and their son, and spends most of her time and energy trying to keep up with her boss.

Jackie Bray
Process Operator at the Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub
King’s Mountain, North Carolina

Jackie Bray is a single mother from King’s Mountain, North Carolina.

Last January she was laid off from her job as a high speed packaging mechanic. That is when she enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College to prepare for Siemens pre-hiring test. After finishing the course and passing the test, Ms. Bray was hired by Siemens in August of 2011. This type of partnership between businesses and community colleges is exactly what President Obama hopes to strengthen to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placements. Ms. Bray now works as a process operator, combining her machinist background with new skills she has been trained on since working at Siemens: laser training, robotics training, penetrant inspection training, and product orientation.

Mayor Julián Castro
San Antonio, Texas

Mayor Castro was first elected mayor of San Antonio in 2009 and at 37 years old is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He is a former city councilman and founder of a law firm. He graduated from Stanford University and earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2000. During his Administration, the Milken Institute ranked San Antonio as the best-performing city in the nation in 2011. In January 2012, Mayor Castro announced that CPS Energy, a municipally-owned utility, has entered negotiations to bring at least 800 jobs and $100 million in capital investment to San Antonio. This is expected to be one of the nation’s largest solar projects resulting in 400 megawatts of zero-emissions solar energy.

Bruce Cochrane
President and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture
Lincolnton, North Carolina

Bruce Cochrane comes from a family that has manufactured furniture in North Carolina for decades, but when Cochrane Furniture was sold in 1997, the new owners moved manufacturing to China. Two years ago, Mr. Cochrane decided the time had come to start his own furniture company back in his home state. In January 2012, production began at Lincolnton Furniture in the same plant his family once ran. Lincolnton Furniture is expected to add 130 new jobs to the area. Mr. Cochrane attended President Obama’s Insourcing American Jobs Forum earlier this month.

Sara Ferguson
Teacher, Columbus Elementary
Parkside, Pennsylvania

Sara Ferguson teaches literacy and math at Columbus Elementary, and has worked for the Chester Upland School District for 20 years. She is a third generation educator in Chester Upland, and a proud product of that district. When the Chester Upland School District faced bankruptcy earlier this year in light of severe state budget cuts, Ms.

Ferguson vowed to continue teaching even without being paid, saying “we are adults; we will make a way. The students don’t have any contingency plan. They need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job.”

Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita
Founder, President and CEO Quality Electrodynamics
Cleveland, Ohio

Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita is founder, president and chief executive officer of Quality Electrodynamics (QED), in Cleveland, Ohio. Coming to America from Japan in 1988 and after receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1998, Dr. Fujita chose to continue his professional training in America. In 2006 he started his own company, QED, which is a developer and manufacturer of highly proprietary state-of-the-art MRI radiofrequency antennas. QED is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of these products and ships throughout the globe. In 2010, Dr. Fujita founded his second company, eQED, a solar energy-related electronics development and manufacturing company. With the founding of both QED and eQED, today Dr. Fujita is creating high tech, advanced manufacturing jobs in the healthcare and energy sectors in the United States.

Mahala Greer
Denver, Colorado

Mahala Greer grew up in Paonia, a small town in rural Colorado. She is currently a student at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in Spanish, and has just been accepted into Teach for America as a Bilingual Education Corps Member. In May she will graduate with more than $35,000 in student loans. Last October, Ms. Greer introduced President Obama when he spoke to students at CU Denver about how his Administration is working to make college more affordable and reduce student loan debt.

Adrienne Howard
San Diego, California

Adrienne Howard is a military spouse from Lynchburg, Virginia, and currently lives in San Diego, California with her three children. Her husband, Commander Colby Howard, USN, is currently on a seven month deployment. Mrs. Howard has moved 14 times during her husband’s career, and their oldest child has attended 9 different schools along the way. For nearly 20 years, she has been heavily involved as a volunteer in family readiness groups and Navy spouse organizations. This past September, Mrs. Howard was inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to reach out to her community, and the response was overwhelming. Mrs. Howard shared her story of rallying her community to ‘adopt’ a Sailor on the Joining Forces Blog.

Mike Krieger
Co-founder Instagram
San Francisco, California

Mike Krieger is the co-founder of Instagram, the fastest growing social mobile startup in the U.S. today, with over 15 million registered users. Mike was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to California in 2004 to attend Stanford University, where he studied computer science and cognitive science. In 2010, he joined up with Kevin Systrom to co-found Instagram, and now employs a talented, growing team of designers and engineers. After graduation, Mr. Krieger worked for a year on his student F-1 visa, later applying for and receiving an H-1B visa as a high-skill worker. Mr. Krieger wants to permanently stay in the U.S. and has applied for a green card.

Captain Mark Kelly, USN, Ret.

Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired US Navy Captain, best-selling author, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. The winner of many awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Defense Superior Service Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He has also commanded Space Shuttle Discovery and is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions. Already a celebrated American, Kelly became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience with the world.

Lorelei Kilker
Analytical Chemist
Brighton, Colorado

Lorelei Kilker is an analytical chemist for an environmental laboratory, and lives in Brighton, Colorado with her domestic partner and their two children. In October of 2011, Ms. Kilker was one of a class of women who benefitted from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) investigation of alleged systematic sex discrimination at her former employer that resulted in the award of back wages and significant remedial relief, arrangements that were achieved through a cooperative process between the employer and EEOC. Since the creation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010, EEOC obtained almost $50 million in monetary relief through administrative enforcement for victims of sex-based wage discrimination, obtained changes to workplace practices that benefit over one quarter of a million workers, and filed five cases including sex-based wage discrimination claims.

Admiral William McRaven, USN

Admiral McRaven assumed command of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) on June 13, 2008. Prior to assuming command, he served from June 2006 to March 2008 as commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). In addition to his duties as COMSOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC), where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and inter-operability of all NATO Special Operations Forces. Adm. McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commanding general for operations at JSOC, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, commander of SEAL Team 3, task group commander in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, task unit commander during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.

Adm. McRaven’s diverse staff and interagency experience includes assignments as the director for Strategic Planning in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff, assessment director at U.S. Special Operations Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and the chief of staff at Naval Special Warfare Group 1.

Adm. McRaven’s professional education includes assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he helped establish and was the first graduate from the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict curriculum.

Joan Milligan
Orlando, Florida

As deep rooted Orlando, Florida, residents, Joan Milligan and her husband Bill share a strong commitment to their community and volunteering. Faced with losing their home, President Obama’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) allowed Joan and her husband to refinance their existing loan when other means of refinancing were not open to them. As Mrs. Milligan has said, “I can’t believe how easy the process was. The bank bent over backwards to accommodate us”. The Milligans will celebrate 50 years of marriage in October 2012.

Amber Morris
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Amber Morris, a Virginia Beach resident, responded to the White House’s call in December asking Americans “What does 40 mean to you?” saying, “Forty dollars a pay check means that I’ll be able to pay my bills, but most months it’ll be a tight squeeze. It means that I’ll have no spending money which means I can’t do my part in encouraging my local economy. Forty dollars a paycheck may not seem a lot, but it could mean a steady job for me and my coworkers or unemployment.” Ms. Morris graduated from Northeastern Law School in 2008 and found herself unable to find a job in her field.

She was working for a non-profit in Boston, but after they lost funding she found herself unemployed in 2009 and forced to move back home with her parents. She’s since found work as a waitress in a local restaurant and although it’s less than ideal, she feels “lucky to have paycheck” to help pay student loans and help save up for the Virginia bar exam.

Laurene Powell Jobs
Founder and Chair of Emerson Collective
Palo Alto, California

Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of Emerson Collective, an organization focused on harnessing the potential of individuals from underserved communities to help them build a better life.

Ms. Powell Jobs also serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college. Started in East Palo Alto, College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans and Aurora, Colorado. The program’s intensive academic and extracurricular program is designed to ensure admittance to and graduation from college. All of the program’s graduates have completed their secondary education and gone on to college.

In addition to her work with the Emerson Collective and College Track, she serves on the boards of directors of NewSchools Venture Fund, New America Foundation and Conservation International. She also serves as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ms. Powell Jobs holds a BA and a BSE from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Earlier in her career, she spent several years working in investment banking and later co-founded a natural foods company in California.

Adam Rapp
Fall Creek Township, Illinois

Adam Rapp lives in Fall Creek Township, Illinois, and is the only child of Stephen and Lisa Rapp. On his 23rd birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer, and without the Affordable Care Act he would have lost health insurance coverage the same day. Adam’s mother wrote President Obama a letter last May thanking him for passing the health reform law so that her son could remain on their health insurance policy. After undergoing treatment, Mr. Rapp is now cancer-free and engaged to be married to Adrienne Mast of Quincy, Illinois.

Juan Jose Redín
North Hollywood, California

Juan Jose Redín was born in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico before coming with his mother and younger sister to the United States at the age of 10. After enduring many challenges throughout his journey to achieve his dream of higher education. Juan benefited from California’s Assembly Bill 540 and was able to enroll, and excel, in his studies at UCLA. He received both his undergraduate (with honors) and law degrees from UCLA. Now a US citizen and a practicing attorney, Juan is as passionate as ever about ensuring educational access to all.

Bryan Ritterby
Lab Technician
Holland, Michigan

Bryan Ritterby had been in the furniture manufacturing industry for more than 25 years working on the manufacturing floor, in the quality department and as a field service representative, but was laid off in February of 2009. Mr. Ritterby then went through the Grand Rapids Community College Composite Technician Training Program in conjunction with a new start-up company, Energetx Composites. Upon completion of the program,

Mr. Ritterby was hired by Energetx Composites as a composite technician in April of 2010. Today, Mr. Ritterby is a Lab Technician for Energetx Composites conducting material tests in the company’s laboratory verifying materials to be used in wind turbine blades, as well as working on blade validation tests for all of the community scale wind blades Energetx is manufacturing.

Colonel Ginger Wallace, USAF
McLean, Virginia

Colonel Ginger Wallace is an Air Force intelligence officer who has led airlift and intelligence operations during Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, PROVIDE RELIEF, UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, ALLIED FORCE, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. She currently lives in McLean, Virginia with her partner of over a decade, Kathy Knopf. In December, Ms.

Knopf attended Col. Wallace’s promotion ceremony and participated in the “pinning on” of Col. Wallace’s rank, marking the first such event reported following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Col. Wallace is currently training to deploy to Afghanistan in the Spring 2012 through the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Bain and Willard's Tax Rate Matters

It seems as if the ' inevitable' campaign of Willard Romney has hit a snag. You know what happens when 'inevitable' campaigns come up against serious challenges, don't you? They don't seem to have a plan 'B'.

Willard has been running for President for a good five years, and he doesn't have a scintilla of genuine political skill. He doesn't know how to play a room. He doesn't know how to get the room behind him. Nobody's gonna cut someone for Willard. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if Willard's checks didn't clear, nobody would know his name.

Willard's entire campaign for President is based upon this:

This country needs a CEO to lead it to better economic times.

Condescendingly, Willard says that the President is a ' nice guy, but he's in over his head'. I kid you not. So, of course, it's up to Willard to show the President how it's done.

Willard knows nothing about foreign policy, and everytime he opens his mouth about it, he looks like a clown. WHO is Willard's foreign policy team? ALL the folks that lied us into Iraq. THAT is who's giving Willard foreign policy advice.

So, since he has nothing with regards to foreign policy, his entire campaign is based upon ECONOMIC POLICY.

He has nothing else, and quite frankly, I don't think that's a strong position for Willard.

Because, he's run away from his time as Governor of Massachusetts. It doesn't even come up in the conversation about why he should be President.

So, he put forth his time as a businessman as the reason he should be President.


That means BAIN.

Let's make this clear. The point of his work at Bain wasn't to create jobs; it was to get money back for the investors. If jobs were created, then that was a by-product, but it wasn't Willard's focus at Bain. The focus was making money; nothing wrong with making money, per se, but you can't base a Presidential campaign upon something that didn't happen. This is the era of Youtube; the internet. And, in each of the companies that went bankrupt because of Bain's Vulture Capitalism, there are plenty of workers to tell their stories; of lost pensions, and destroyed financial lives, all the while, even as the company went BANKRUPT, Willard and his minions made MILLIONS.

People aren't against capitalism in this country. All but the furthest left of the left-wingers, is against capitalism in America. But, there's a difference in an entrepreneur who invents something, brings a product to market that had never happened, creates the better mousetrap, per se, and builds a business that way. That is the traditional way I think most Americans think of capitalism. What Willard is, and the ilk like him, were people who never produced anything, other than schemes of how to invent ways to make money, even if it wound up destroying otherwise productive companies. There's a reason why someone like Warren Buffet doesn't deal with people who do what Willard and Bain did; he knows the difference between traditional capitalism, and the VULTURE capitalism that Willard and Bain practiced.

Rachel Maddow did a good segment on Willard, Bain, his inevitability, and if the economy improves, there IS NO REASON TO VOTE FOR MITT ROMNEY:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Etta James Has Passed Away at the age of 73

From Philly.com:

Etta James, the husky-voiced R&B singer, dies at 73
By Dan DeLuca
Inquirer Music Critic

Etta James, 73, the powerful rhythm-and-blues singer whose more than five-decade career spawned such enduring hits as "At Last" and "Tell Mama," making her a profound influence on younger generations of female vocalists, died Friday.

Ms. James, who suffered complications from leukemia, according to her manager, had been beset with a variety of health problems. In 2009, she was diagnosed with dementia; the following year, she was hospitalized with a staph infection. In December, weeks after the release of The Dreamer, which was billed as her final studio album, Ms. James' doctor told the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise that the singer, who also had been diagnosed with hepatitis C, was terminally ill with chronic leukemia.

A genre-bridging singer equally commanding and comfortable singing the blues, jazz, and rock-and-roll, Ms. James was a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winner and a member of the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame. The legendary producer Jerry Wexler called her "the greatest of modern blues singers . . . the undisputed Earth Mother."

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938 in Los Angeles, Etta James was the daughter of a 14-year-old mother and a father she never knew. She would later claim to have reason to believe her father was the legendary pool player Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone Jr.

Ms. James began singing in the gospel choir of a Los Angeles church at age 5. She knew even then that she would be a performer, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2006, "because I was always a show-off." At an early age, she developed a taste for what she referred to as "rotgut, lowdown blues," but her mother also made her listen to the smoother sounds of Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole. Her music would reflect that combination of influences throughout her career.

As a teenager, her vocal group, the Creolettes, was discovered by the bandleader Johnny Otis, who rechristened them the Peaches, after Ms. James' nickname. (Otis, as it turned out, also died this week, at age 90 on Tuesday.)

In 1955, the group scored a No. 1 R&B hit with an answer song to Hank Ballard's risqué "Work With Me Annie" called "The Wallflower." (Its original title was "Roll With Me Henry," which was considered too sexually suggestive for the era.) The Peaches scored one more hit, with "Good Rockin' Daddy," before Ms. James went solo. By 1956, she was on tour, opening for Little Richard.

Ms. James' solo career failed to catch fire in the late '50s. Then she signed with the Chicago blues label Chess and, in 1960, released At Last!, an album that surrounded her husky voice with lush strings in an effort to court a broader pop audience than usual for a label that was home to the electric bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.

It worked. The album scored four pop hits, including the title cut, written by Mack Gordon and Henry Warden for the 1941 musical Orchestra Wives. It became Ms. James' signature song and a perennially popular first-dance choice at wedding receptions. In 2009, Beyoncé Knowles sang "At Last" at an inaugural ball while President Obama danced with his wife. Knowles had portrayed James in Cadillac Records, a 2008 movie that depicted a fictional affair between the singer and Chess cofounder Leonard Chess.

The South Carolina Primary

So, Little Newton Leroy spanked Willard in South Carolina.

Newt Gingrich is projected to be the winner of South Carolina.

It's not even close.

Newt - 41%
Willard - 26%
Newsletter Paul - 13%

Here's the thing....they might vote for the Mormon in the general when faced against the Kenyan Mooslim Soshulist in the White House, but, for now, the Holy Rollers aren't giving their votes to the Mormon.

Among those who take the religious identity of the candidates seriously, Romney was stomped by Gingrich and Santorum. Romney won only 22 percent of evangelicals.


According to exit polls, Mitt Romney lost voters of all income levels to Newt Gingrich except those making over $200,000 per year in CNN’s exit polling. Among these wealthiest voters, these early numbers show Romney winning 47% to Gingrich’s 31%.

hee hee hee

The GOP Clown Car continues.

found this tweet:

Seriously, cannot overstate the historic SC vote. Mitt the first establishment frontrunner to lose SC GOP primary EVER. As in "EVER.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let's Support RED TAILS

This Friday, the Movie Red Tails, will be opening. It is a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and their fight to be able to fight in World War II.

It was produced by George Lucas.

Rob M left this in the comments last week:

VIA an email sent to me:
For all you movie buffs. Please help get the word out. As you may know, Red Tails is George Lucas' version of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen,
20 years in the making, and has a predominantly Black cast, certainly all the main actors are Black.

As it goes, when the movie was finally ready for production, no production company would take it, so George Lucas had to write a check. After production was completed, no distribution company would take it. So, George Lucas had to write another check. The advanced viewing was sponsored by Wells Fargo and the Museum for Black History Diaspora (not sure of the exact name).

The movie is intriguing and has edge-of-your-seat action. It's well done, and certainly worth the look.

I'm urging all of you to see this movie, and tell others about it as well. Anything we can do to ensure large numbers of viewers in the first few
days of release, scheduled for 20 Jan 2012, will make a statement to the production and distribution companies that were not interested in
this film for whatever reasons, that they made a mis-calculation.

If each of you tells as many people about this as you can, and attempts to take 4 or 5 people with you to see the film, that will be like a
geometric progression, and could potentially push the numbers off the chart.

Black folks like to talk about the lack of choices that we get as Black-centered entertainment. Well, when something different comes up, we need to support it.

Red Tails Trailer 2 Official 2012 [HD]


In the fight against radical right-wing agendas, the people of Wisconsin have spoken:

Those involved in the fight to recall right-wing Koch Brother Stooge Scott Walker have filed ONE MILLION SIGNATURES in their fight.

From Business Week:

Wisconsin Governor’s Foes Have 1 Million Names for Recall
January 17, 2012, 7:48 PM EST
By Tim Jones and Marie Rohde

Opponents of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have about 1 million signatures on petitions to force a recall election, according to a state Democratic Party news release.

If the state’s Government Accountability Board rules that at least 540,208 signatures are valid and any legal challenges fail, Wisconsin will hold the third gubernatorial ouster vote in U.S. history. The Republican politician championed restrictions on bargaining by public-employee unions, prompting the effort. The signatures are to be filed today.

Today’s submission in Madison, the capital, will escalate a partisan war that has raged 11 months and divided a state with a history of progressive politics. Voters ousted two senators in August who voted for Walker’s collective-bargaining curbs, and now the governor, lieutenant governor and four Republican state senators face possible removal votes in the second or third quarter.

The million people favoring a recall election for Walker compares with the 1.1 million votes that elected him in 2010.

Walker, in an interview today over Milwaukee radio state WTMJ, called the effort “a baseless recall.”

“We’re going to get a chance to do what’s never been done before: be elected twice in the same term,” Walker said.

Democrats and union members also collected about 850,000 signatures to recall Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and 20,600 names to recall Senator Scott Fitzgerald, about 4,200 more than necessary. Also targeted are Senators Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.

Out-of-State Money

The Accountability Board has said it will need at least 60 days to verify the signatures, and Kevin Kennedy, its director, said Jan. 12 he would need even more time to search for duplicate and fictitious names. The board has estimated the cost of the recall to be at least $9 million.

No Democratic candidate has emerged to challenge Walker.

Recall campaigns in nine legislative districts in 2011 were prompted by the battle over public-employee union collective bargaining rights and drew $44 million in contributions, most coming from out-of-state interests, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Madison.

In August, Walker said in an interview that voters had “had it” with recalls and that ‘things will quiet down.’’

He raised $7.6 million in anticipation of a recall, according to a Jan. 10 report filed with the board. He recently attended fundraisers in Washington and Austin, Texas.

Rev. Al discusses it:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Schultz did a segment on this:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach talks with Rachel Maddow about the massive response to the call for signatures on recall petitions to remove Governor Scott Walker.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama

Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.....

First Lady Michelle Obama stands with President Barack Obama, not pictured, as they wait for the arrival of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for a reciprocal dinner at Winfield House in London, Wednesday, May 25, 2011.
-----AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., kisses his wife, Michelle Obama, after giving his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008.
----AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

hat tip-The Obama Diary:

Today we celebrate the national holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Presidential Proclamation -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2012

- - - - - - -



On a hot summer day nearly half a century ago, an African American preacher with no official title or rank gave voice to our Nation's deepest aspirations, sharing his dream of an America that ensured the true equality of all our people. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a movement that would push our country toward a more perfect Union.

At a time when our Nation was sharply divided, Dr. King called on a generation of Americans to be "voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion." His example stirred men and women of all backgrounds to become foot soldiers for justice, and his leadership gave them the courage to refuse the limitations of the day and fight for the prospect of tomorrow. Because these individuals showed the resilience to stand firm in the face of the fiercest resistance, we are the benefactors of an extraordinary legacy of progress.

Today, Dr. King is memorialized on the National Mall where he once spoke, a symbol of how far our Nation has come and a testament to the quiet heroes whose names may never appear in history books, but whose selflessness brought about change few thought possible. Dr. King's memorial reminds us that while the work of realizing his remarkable dream is unending, with persistence, progress is within our reach.

On the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, we celebrate the man who fought for the America he knew was possible. Dr. King's faith in a God who loves all His children and a Nation grounded in the promise of equality would not let him rest until victory was won. As we work to meet the challenges of our time from fixing our schools so every child gets a world class education to ensuring all Americans have access to strong and secure economic opportunity let us draw strength from Dr. King's stirring affirmation that "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." In his memory, let us continue climbing toward that Promised Land, one more fair and more just for all people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2012, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service

projects in honor of Dr. King, and to visit www.MLKDay.gov to find Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


MLK Day Legacy: John Lewis

MLK Day Legacy: Ruby Bridges

MLK Day Legacy: Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vulture Capitalism at its finest: When Mitt Romney Came To Town

When Mitt Romney Came To Town — Full, complete version

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Upward Mobility Down and Inequality Up: How the American Dream Has Become A Fairy Tale

The 'American Dream' has been a fairy tale for many in this country for years now. Pundits and researchers are finally catching up and are discovering what people toward the bottom of the socio-economic ladder have known for years. Barbara Ehrenreich has been sounding the alarm for at least a decade now.

NPR's 'On Point' covered the issue of falling upward mobility and rising inequality this week. Europe and Canada now have better upward mobility than the United States. Scandinavian Countries in particular were found to have much better upward mobility. How is this possible with the huge social safety net programs in Europe? American (Conservative) economic philosophy tells us that the cost of social safety nets, healthcare, and labor regulations would create such a drag on economies that no jobs would be created, slow growth would be endemic and nations would be full of poor people. But what Scandinavian economies have shown is that you can have meaningful and responsible social safety nets, strong healthcare programs, labor protections while maintaining healthy growth and a solid standard of living for citizens across the board. In fact, the labor rights and good healthcare allow for greater mobility and more balanced economies. When people are confident that they will have a job, they are more willing to go out and spend money. When people are more secure about their health (knowing that they don't have to choose between food and medicine and won't go bankrupt just because they get sick), they are more comfortable with spending money and even making big ticket investments in their future. On the contrary, when people are job and food insecure, as many are in the United States right now, they are more likely to hold on to their money, not knowing if tomorrow will be the rainy day when they will need it. Conservative economic theorists don't get it. The bubble that they live in doesn't allow them to grasp this simple concept.

This is also an issue about national priorities. European Countries have made a fundamental decision to make education, investing in infrastructure, and investing in human capital (their people) a high priority...at least higher than what we see in the U.S. In Europe, there is not the same drive to be global cop and thus defense spending is not such a huge chunk of budgets overseas. Europeans care less about maintaining some sort of global empire. They even get to slack on their own defense. Canada and Europe have little incentive to maintain robust defense budgets, since the U.S. has everything covered. It all comes down to priorities. Until the U.S. makes a fundamental change on the question of what its priorities will be in the future, then no one should expect any change in economic disparities.

How bad is the inequality in the U.S.? The following map, based on the Gini Coefficient, shows that the U.S. is out of step with most of the developed world. When it comes to economic disparities, the U.S. looks more like some of the world's poorer countries.

Whether you make it in the U.S. (reach the middle class or higher....or whether you are able to do better than your parents) increasingly depends more on who you know, or who your parents know...and what socio-economic class you were born into rather than any variable that you control.... (like working hard, obtaining education, etc.). A college education no longer guarantees a pathway to the middle class and the "American Dream".

I have written about my own realization that the American Dream was more of a myth than anything that could actually be achieved. See my latest  piece on the subject, How Do You Maintain Your Manhood and Dignity While Living Underemployed? (See the full commentary here). More and More data has surfaced lately, letting me know that this issue is not just my imagination. This is nothing new for the working class, and those who have graduated from college in the past few years who are struggling to find meaningful work. I have been a canary in the coal mine. I have watched my American Dream fade over the past decade or so. As I mentioned, not only have I not done better than my father... I have actually done worse. Just as an example... this past year, I lost my health coverage. The new company that I was absorbed into after a management shakeup doesn't offer any real coverage. For the first time in my life, I don't have health coverage. For 37 years, I had health coverage. Hard to wrap my head around to this day. Even when I was in poverty in my early childhood living with my biological mother in St. Louis...in one of the worst ghettos in America, I still had health coverage (through State and via military). It's amazing that i'm doing worse now. 2011 was one of the worst years of my life. 2012 won't be much better.

There will be no relief for the U.S. anytime soon. None of the Republican Presidential candidates will seriously address the issue. In fact, they want to make it easier for the top 10% of earners to make even more money, while maintaining a system of high job insecurity. They want to go back to Bush era policies that allowed corporations to ignore regulations, ignore workers and rake in billions. Leading economists called the 2000's (the Bush era) "the lost decade". This is what the GOP wants to go back to. In this tax averse culture (an atmosphere created by Republicans), there will not be enough revenue for human needs, or to get the deficit and debt under control. How Republicans have won this national argument (at least so far) is truly amazing to me. Americans actually agree with Progressives when this issue is broken down into practical pieces that voters can understand (when they can get a sense of how policies will affect them), yet we lose the national argument. This is largely due to the lack of Progressive leadership...lack of a message, and a lack of media savvy in my opinion. There is no reason why Progressives should lose the argument on these fundamental issues. This years general election will come down to these kinds of core questions... basically it will come down to who we are as a nation. It is strange that with all of the indignation aimed at Wall Street, Americans are considering literally putting Wall Street (Mitt Romney) into the White House as a solution to the Country's problems. It makes no sense to me... but a lot of things don't make sense to me about this Country.

Not only have the Republican candidates avoided addressing this issue with any real solutions, they have engaged in not so subtle racist attacks to gin up support from their base. I am frustrated beyond words when Santorum and Gingrich... two rich, privileged white men who have no idea what real work is all about, suggest that Blacks just want to lay around and collect food stamps. The suggestion (in their mind) is that lazy filthy blacks don't want to work. The message that they want to send to their base is that lazy Blacks are stealing tax dollars...and they (along with their Black President) are responsible for decent hardworking white people not having a job. They used to call this dog whistling.... code that only white racist constituents in red and purple states could hear...like a dog whistle that is barely audible to the human ear. But it's safe to say that members of the Republican field have thrown their dog whistles away. They are trying to out scream one another with their racist comments...and this is just the beginning of the Republican Primary. I was expecting the blatant racism in the general election... not this early.

President Obama? I'm not convinced that this is a top priority for him either. However, at least he has pushed initiatives that are helpful to working people, such as college tax credits, programs for reducing the impact of student loans, and healthcare reform (although flawed). At least I get the sense that this President won't exacerbate the mobility and inequality problem by stacking the deck completely against workers. But I have to admit that my vote (if I vote) will be against the Republican Party...to try to prevent someone worse from taking the White House, as opposed to a vote FOR Obama. Although my vote in Missouri will likely not make a difference.... being that this State is fairly anti-Obama. This is what I hate about a system of 51 separate elections...as opposed to a true national election. This is one of the primary reasons why I don't see the American system of voting as a truly fair and Democratic one.

Is the American Dream still alive for you? I think the answer to that question has a lot to do with what socio-economic position you were in before the economy (an already sluggish economy) got worse in 2007-2008. The answer also has a lot to do with what kind of family you were born into, etc. When you have resources... and you can network...or you have family that can network for you... it is easier to get through an economic crisis.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees for 2012

 See the full list of 2012 inductees.

Freddie King - Same Old Blues

Laura Nyro - The Bells (Backed by Labelle)

The Faces - Maggie May

Sunday, January 01, 2012


From all the bloggers here at MOA...


I hope you're spending a wonderful day with family and friends.