Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rev. Joseph Lowery Speaking In Chicago This Month

This speech (sermon) was recorded a week after the inauguration of Barack Obama (1-25-09). He briefly touches on his benediction. His appearance at the St. Sabina Church in South Chicago was part of an MLK celebration.

Listen to Speech (You may have to turn off firewall to get audio to load)

Double-Take of the Week: All I Do Is Think Of You

All I Do Is Think Of You

Written By Michael Lovesmith (A St. Louisan by the way) and Brian Holland

The Jacksons - Original Performance (1975)

Troop - (1989)

Verdict: I prefer the version done by the Jacksons... Troop, although they did it well... tried too hard.

This is one of those remakes that could go either way....

The Jackson's version also seems slower... Troop's version seemed to be geared more towards the New Jack Swing R&B of the time (which I never cared for). That was about the time (20 years ago) when I really started to delve into other music besides the Rap and the Commercial stuff of the moment... like Jazz, 60's and 70's material, Rock, Fusion, etc. The commercial stuff started to sound the same to me.

There is a reason why the 60's & 70's was the greatest period for American music... Soul and Rock in particular.

Obama Will Soon Be Faced With A Serious Military Crisis

Livni, Netanyahu, Barak

And it will likely come from the Middle East.

One of the Most Dangerous Men In The World Is Close To Taking Power In Israel

Americans should be focused very closely on the Parliamentary Elections that will be held in Israel in a few days (Feb. 10). These elections will likely determine whether Israel drags the U.S. into a serious military conflict or not in the next couple of years. Why this isn't getting more coverage in the U.S. is a mystery to me.

The three main candidates vying for the Prime Minister post are former Prime Minister and current defense chief Ehud Barak, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barak and Livni are from more Centrist Parties (Labor and Kadima respectively) and they are considered moderates when it comes to the Palestinians and Iran. However, Benjamin Netanyahu is a hardliner. I consider Netanyahu to be one of the most dangerous pro-war political figures in the World... (Donald Rumsfeld or John Bolton on speed). He's an extreme version of a Bush neocon...and a dangerous megalomaniac.

This is why I have stated on more than one occasion that Obama's biggest challenge will be his foreign policy.... not his domestic policy. If his foreign policy is in crisis, he won't be able to deal with the domestic problems we face... World events have the potential to drain his time, and the nations resources. This is why the make-up of his foreign policy team was so important. The U.S. needed a Secretary of State that could tell Israel "No"...and if necessary could tell them to go to Hell. Instead... Obama (like every other President since 1948) has set himself up to be a lapdog for Israel. That's going to be a very serious problem... probably within the next year or two.

It is very likely that Netanyahu will launch an attack on Iran, with or without U.S. backing. This will draw a military response from Iran (with the support of Syria and Russia). And of course as a lapdog of Israel, Obama will commit this Country to war once again...and it could put us on a collision course with the Russians. Russia will likely send ships, troops and equipment to assist the Iranians (because Russia has assets and interests in Iran). Russian military leaders (off the record) have already indicated that they may join the fight...alongside Iran in any military conflict with Israel or the United States. And it appears this nightmare might be setting itself up like many had feared.

Why voters in Israel want this.... I don't know. I don't understand their logic. They learned nothing from the war in Lebanon in 2006....or the latest conflict in Gaza.

Judd Gregg As Commerce Secretary - A Smooth Move By Obama

Republican Senator Judd Gregg is being considered for Commerce Secretary... a move that could put the Democrats in reach of a majority in the Senate. This is championship chess playing by Obama... If the Democrats would have played like this years ago we may not have had to endure 8 years of George W. Bush.

But I am pretty sure that the Republican leadership will instruct Gregg to turn it down... for strategic reasons. And like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago... the Republicans are very disciplined...they don't cave and they don't think for themselves... like obedient slaves, they stay in lock step with their leaders in Congress. The recent vote on the so-called "stimulus plan", where no Republicans voted for the legislation was a demonstration of the kind of Republican discipline I often mention here. So I fully expect Gregg to decline the offer. Even if he disobeys his Party leaders and accepts the position, there is no guarantee that Democrats will have a majority with no problems. It still won't be a true majority. There is always the problem of Joe Lie-berman... he may help the Republicans obstruct legislation. Or he may even be forced to switch Parties. I actually thought that Lieberman would have switched to Republican by now..... this development could force his hand.

Republicans Hope to Be Obstructionists Towards Obama

Let me get this straight... the Party that primarily brought the Country to economic ruin, now believes that we should follow their advice on bringing the Country back to financial health??? Talk about delusional. They want more tax cuts... but we did that for several years already under their watch... and it didn't work. And of course they are offering no real alternatives.

When will Obama face the fact that the Republicans don't care about helping the Country... and that they are mainly interested in seeing him and the Country fail? Their leader, Rush Limbaugh, basically stated so last week. And the fact that Obama is non-white just aggravates them even more. It's killing them. Therefore, there won't be any bipartisanship in Washington. They plan to obstruct everything proposed by Obama and the Democrats. Since most of the Republican members of the House of Representatives are in "safe seats", they will cater more to their Conservative base. Unfortunately, having tea or Cocktails at the White House once a week isn't going to change any Republican minds. It appears as if they will be forced to play to the racial fears & partisan feelings of their constituents at home (particularly in the South...where most of these folks are concentrated). This may end up being a good thing for Obama... particularly if Obama can turn the economy around within the next two years. It will help keep the Southern Party marginalized.

Something tells me that half of these RepubliKlans go to bed at night just praying that Obama fails... or worst... that something happens to him.

But I like Obama's approach to them... by taking the high road and reaching out, Obama will keep the GOP marginalized for quite some time... he will blunt arguments that Obama is a far left partisan or doesn't listen to their concerns.

I do agree with some Conservative economists who believe that the stimulus is not the best piece of legislation. There seems to be little in the "stimulus" bill for sustainable job creation....or job creation over a wide range of industries. Obama's economic advisers believe that increasing employment in the Construction and heavy equipment industries will somehow spread through the rest of the economy. I don't see how temporary infrastructure projects will help the retail clerk, the telecom worker, the Bank rep, the Sales rep, the Restaurant manager, the Real Estate agent, or customer service person who has lost a job. This bill has plenty of money.... spends a lot, but does not seem to wisely target the money to areas that would create the best return - creating jobs (sustainable jobs). Although it will help the economy...simply because it is so massive. And apparently there was not much Republican input.... could there have been more...probably... but then again, Obama has the support of the American electorate to move in a different direction of economic policy. Why should we go back to what failed under Bush? The Republicans are behaving as if there is fresh evidence that their fiscal policies actually work. They don't!

I hope Obama succeeds. The Republicans are gambling... hoping that he fails as President....and that the Country goes down the tubes too. That's how desperate they are to regain power... hoping for the downfall of their own Country. But if the stimulus plan works (and there is probably a 50-50 chance that it will help enough to cause the economy to at least turn around), the Republicans will have to live with their vote. Hopefully the Democrats won't let American voters forget how the Republicans voted....that they actively voted against improving the lives of Americans during a time of economic hardship. I hope Obama takes some of his campaign money and runs ads reminding people that every Republican in the House of Representatives voted against his bill. Because you know what the Republicans will do.... if the stimulus fails... they will distance themselves from it (the whole purpose for their vote)...but if it succeeds... they will claim that they were responsible for it succeeding...and they will steal the success from Obama by lying their asses's the same trick that they always play around election time.

Meanwhile, while the Congress twiddles its thumbs... the economy continues to slide further into a hole.

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

Go Claire McCaskill!

Senator Claire McCaskill, upon finding out that after taking taxpayers money, the greedy mofos of Wall Street paid themselves 18 BILLION DOLLARS IN BONUSES for companies that were going under. McCaskill wants to pass provisions limiting compensation for companies that take taxpayer money to the salary of The President of the United States.

Priority #10 For the Obama Administration - Revitalize Urban America

One of the top 10 priorities for the Obama Administration should be to revitalize/invest in urban America. Investment, tax revenue and jobs have abandoned America's inner cities, leaving crime, poverty and hopelessness to fill the void.

Obama can do this by establishing a service culture and challenging young Americans to volunteer. The new administration should also put billions of dollars into the building of Federal job training centers and free or low cost 2 year colleges in the 40-50 largest metropolitan areas in the Country, where the need is greatest. In each of these training centers, students can learn everything from construction, carpentry, and plumbing to computer technology and green jobs.

There should also be tax incentives for companies that provide jobs in economically depressed areas.

Unfortunately... poverty has not been a top issue for Obama. But he does have a Progressive Social Secretary- Desiree Rogers - who seems interested in improving conditions in urban America. We shall see.

World War II Vet Freezes To Death After Michigan Utility Cuts Power

So much for taking care of the Greatest Generation. Apparently the richest nation on earth can't find the resources to take care of those in need within its own borders... We may not have debtors prison in this Country...but in this economy you might be better off going to prison over your financial situation. At least you'll survive. This economy is dealing out even worse punishment than prison - death.

According to the medical examiner, the 93 year old victim, Marvin Schur, died a slow and agonizing death in his home. All because he got behind on his electric bill. No bailout for Mr. Schur. Meanwhile, Wall Street managers got billions in bonuses with my tax money. I would have rather seen that money go to Marvin Schur, or 90 year old widow Addie Polk of Ohio, or all the other people struggling just to survive.

What is this Country turning into?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Middle Class Task Force Is Unveiled by Obama

Today, the Obama administration unveiled a new initiative specifically designed to address the concerns of the middle class. This is the first explicitly Populist and pro-Labor move that the Obama administration has made.

Obama, Biden Task Force On Middle Class (MSNBC)
On the campaign trail then-candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden cast themselves as champions of labor and middle class, men who had not forgotten where they came from and who would fight for the concerns of ordinary Americans.

Today's announcement of a task force aimed at studying ways to raise living standards for middle class Americans and help the poor become middle class is in line with that same populist theme and with Obama's consistent focus on economic issues at a time of rising unemployment.

Middle Class Task Force (White House Web site)

The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. It is comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities. The Task Force will be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The Vice President and members of the task force will work with a wide array of federal agencies that have responsibility for key issues facing the middle class and expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families.

Members of the Middle Class Task Force include: Vice President Biden, Chair; the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

From his remarks upon the announcement of the creation of the Middle Class Task Force

I also believe that we have to reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we've seen these last eight years, policies with which I've sharply disagreed. I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it's part of the solution. We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement. We know that strong, vibrant, growing unions can exist side by side with strong, vibrant and growing businesses. This isn't a either/or proposition between the interests of workers and the interests of shareholders. That's the old argument. The new argument is that the American economy is not and has never been a zero-sum game. When workers are prospering, they buy products that make businesses prosper. We can be competitive and lean and mean and still create a situation where workers are thriving in this country.

What do you think of this move by the Obama administration?

Michael Steele Elected RNC Chairman

Follow-up - Michael Steele a Black Radical? (The Republican Base Responds, lol).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

President Obama Signs First Bill - The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2009

Remarks of President Barack Obama on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act bill signing:

It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we are upholding one of this nation's first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.

It is also fitting that we are joined today by the woman after whom this bill is named – someone Michelle and I have had the privilege of getting to know for ourselves. Lilly Ledbetter didn't set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job – and did it well – for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits – losses she still feels today.

Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court, and lead to this bill which will help others get the justice she was denied.

Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows this story isn't just about her. It's the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn – women of color even less – which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

But equal pay is by no means just a women's issue – it's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition or child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where, when one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves, that's the difference between affording the mortgage – or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor's bills – or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month's paycheck to simple discrimination.

So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it's not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it's about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, though, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are – and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals. Whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put to paper more than 200 years ago really mean something – to breathe new life into them with the more enlightened understandings of our time.

That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in honor of those who came before her. Women like my grandmother who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day, without complaint, because she wanted something better for me and my sister.

And I sign this bill for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

In the end, that's why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her – that this bill wouldn't undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied. But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation. It's what we've always done in America – set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and grandchildren.

Now it's up to us to continue this work. This bill is an important step – a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness to American workers – and I want to thank this remarkable and bi-partisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And this is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did – and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did – we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.

Thank you.

Video of The First Lady honoring Ledbetter -HERE.

Governor Rod Blagojevich Removed From Office

In an unanimous vote, the Illinois Senate has voted to remove Rod Blagojevich from office.

There was another vote to deny him from ever holding office in Illinois again- Unanimous again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Juan Williams Insults First Lady Michelle Obama

Fox's Juan Williams attacked First Lady Michelle Obama on Bill O'Reilley.

Hat tip: JJP

Juan Williams on Michelle Obama:
"[S]he's got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross."

I mean Juan, you know that New Yorker cover was meant to be a joke right?

Here's the video:


dnA from JJP breaks it down further:

And, after thinking about it some more, dnA explains why Williams truly is foul.

I've been rolling Juan Williams' statement about Michelle Obama around like a wad of gum, trying to figure out why it bothers me so much. The first thing is that Juan is a genuinely nice guy, with whom I've had the pleasure of talking a few times. But the second, and the much bigger thing, is that I realized that I've never heard --and I don't think I ever will hear -- a rapper call Michelle Obama a bitch. But you don't have to call a woman a bitch to treat her like one.

I've tried for a long time to reconcile my love of Hip-hop music with its unapologetic misogyny, or even the fact that so many friends I've known since knee-high flick around the word like spent cigarettes no matter how many times we argue about it. The bitches/sisters explanation is patently unsatisfying, it's basically a reinvention of the old madonna/whore dichotomy. I can't really come up with an explanation, other than that there are ugly sides to most of the things we love. But Williams is one of the most vocal critics of Hip-hop; of what right-leaning black pundits refer to as "street-culture." I see little that's different in what Williams is saying about Michelle from what you might hear from Young Jeezy. This isn't an isolated statement about something someone said last year, it fits into an established narrative of who black women are. Rather than being the hyper-sexualized Jezebel popular in rap music, she's portrayed as the masculine ball-buster, the kind of women ignorant men write "why I don't date black women" essays about, trying to convince themselves that there's something rational about hating the kind of woman who gave birth to you. Williams' statement makes me angry not because it's about Michelle, but because it's so manifestly not about her, but about black women in general. And maybe with some kind of messed up, terrible rationalization I can divorce myself from what happens in Hip-hop because I know Jeezy isn't talking about my mama. But when people talk about Michelle like this, they're talking about this universe of brilliant, accomplished black women who never seem to get their due. They're talking about the women I know; my mother, my aunts, my cousins. And it makes me furious.

My own personal opinion is that Williams needs a beatdown. A good, old fashioned, Junebug and Ray Ray visiting him, beatdown. How he feels he can so freely disrespect and LIE about Michelle Obama, comparing her to a MAN, no less, trying to strip away her humanity.

No thank you.

She's the First Lady, and Juan's '300 pieces of silver' behind better signify.

President Obama's First Post-Inauguration Interview

Given to Al-Arabiya

Obama's Intersection of Foreign and Domestic Policy

Environmentalists have known for years that America's dependence on foreign oil was problematic for the nation's foreign policy. It requires us to bow before OPEC; instead of being unconstrained, we're forced to make foreign policy decisions based on who has the the oil (i.e. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia), not who has real problems (i.e. Darfur).

This is why Obama's announcement yesterday that he would require the EPA to review Bush-era guidelines which prohibited California and other states from adopting auto emissions guidelines stricter than federal emissions standards is such a good move.

We need to applaud any move that increases our chances of becoming energy independent. In the end, America will save in lives and in treasure; we won't have to fight for oil and our energy dollars will go to domestic suppliers and spent in our domestic markets.

This move, ultimately requiring more stringent auto emissions standards will be difficult on the auto industry, but now is the right time. If you let the auto companies pick when they'll change their behavior, we'd never have seat belts, airbags or anti-lock brakes.

Besides pure common sense, another reason Republicans, like John Boehner need to support his policy, is their own ideological convictions. Traditionally, conservatives take a states-first mentality. They normally don't like the federal government dictating to the states. However, when Bush was doing it, they didn't mind. With Bush gone, the GOP should return to its conservative principals and support a move that puts states - and the country - first.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Confused White People, Malia and Sasha Obama are NOT 'bi-racial'.

I'm reading in the comments, and I see this discussion going on.
I was reading Jezebel earlier and they were talking about the Obama girls and I notice this on other sites as well and want to ask a question. Since when are the Obama girls "biracial"? When did this happen?

Yeah, when did this happen?

This reply was given by our ever astute Town:
I think "biracial" is being pushed around by white people to divorce their non-white offspring/non-white person they like from the "undesirable" minority group they came from.

That's why it confuses many whites when Obama willingly, conciously CHOOSES to self-identify as black, marry a black woman and have two black kids. Why would he do that, they wonder?

I think the "biracial" movement is being pushed by whites who don't want their offspring stigmatized and by those non-whites who don't want to be stigmatized.

By calling the Obama girls "biracial" they are totally erasing Michelle from the mix. Which I guess is the point, huh?

Town, always comes around to the point of things.

Blago Compares His Problems with Mandela, MLK and Gandhi

Blago is at it again. First he invoked the attack on Pearl Harbor to describe the morning of his arrest by the FBI. Now, as part of his media tour, he has compared his problems with the struggles of Nelson Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. Hear story from NPR.

Here is what he stated on NBC's Today Show Sunday, when reflecting on the December 9th, 2008 arrest at his home:

"I thought about Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi and tried to put some perspective to all this and that is what I am doing now."

You almost have to see it to believe it.

Blago's narcissism, and insanity are finally overtaking him just as I suspected they would. It should be pretty clear to folks at this point that Blago's elevator does not go up to the top floor. He wants everyone to know that this whole ordeal is part of a conspiracy against him (by a Democratically controlled State). He has even taken the step of hiring a Public Relations firm as part of his effort to change public opinion. He won't attend his State Senate impeachment trial (because he knows he's guilty), but he'll go through all the trouble and expense of hiring a PR firm.


Almost as annoying as Blago is the willingness on the part of the mainstream media to help him with his tour of the TV networks. They want to give him a platform for his propaganda and fulfill his desire for constant attention. They will basically do anything for ratings.

Even attorney Ed Genson can't deal with Blago's nonsense. Genson announced over the weekend that he was resigning as Blago's attorney in the Federal criminal case because Blago wouldn't listen to counsel. Wow... that's a shocker. Apparently Genson was tired of Blago running his mouth and was against the idea of having a media tour. But Genson must not have understood...that this whole fiasco has nothing to do with Blago wanting to defend himself... it has always been about The Rod Blagojevich Show and this man's incessant need to be in the spotlight. Genson had already decided not to represent Blago in his impeachment case.

Genson's comments over the weekend:

"I have been practicing law for 44 years. I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen to what I say," Genson said. "I believe in this case it would be better off, and I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case. And I wish the governor good luck and Godspeed."

Additional Commentary from the Chicago Tribune Blog

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Media Alert: Air Force One

National Geographic Television is airing a special called " On Board Air Force One", 8 pm EST.

Here is the Website.

Yes, there is a part of this program with President Obama.

Patricia J. Williams and Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Obama Inauguration

Hat tip: Prometheus 6

This is from Bill Moyers. This is an excellent conversation with these women. I couldn't find a way to embed it, so go HERE to watch this conversation.

Double Take of the Week - A House Is Not A Home

"A House is Not a Home"

Written by Burt Bacharach

Original performance by Dionne Warwick (1964)

Cover by Luther Vandross (1981)


This is one of the rare cases where the cover artist establishes the new standard. Vandross killed this one. Not taking anything away from Warwick, who was probably Luther Vandross’ main musical inspiration. He retouched several of Warwick’s recordings. But he really remade this song and made it his own.

These double takes are something new that I will try to post once a week…. I will try to find tube videos of original tracks to compare them with prominent remakes…. I was bored at work one day this week… and came up with about 40 songs for my list. I will probably only be able to find 2 videos (including an original) for only half that many. So suggestions are welcomed. I’d particularly like more suggestions from the Blues, Pop and Rock genres.

Problems With Obama's Economic Recovery Plan

I see a few fundamental problems with Obama's $800 Billion economic stimulus plan as it is currently being presented. Today's economic situation has created an opportunity to establish new sustainable industries. However, the plan doesn't focus on providing incentives and seed capital for the creation of "Green" Companies.

There are three main reasons why this is important:

1. The Federal government doesn't have the capacity to create jobs like the private sector could. It's the private sector that will have to create the bulk of the 3 million new jobs over the next few years that Obama says he wants.

2. The infrastructure projects will probably have a very narrow impact in terms of job creation. It will be great for the road construction contractors, the concrete suppliers, folks who are in the construction trade, and the few businesses that will get a residual benefit. However, I don't see how this will help workers across the board who have either lost their jobs or who are in danger of losing their jobs. Most of the job loses have been across the spectrum... from finance/banking, to retail and manufacturing, to tech companies and airlines. In fact, one of the only healthy and insulated job sectors is in the Healthcare industry. There will always be a need for nurses, hospital staff... billing agents, pharmacists, etc. But other than that... workers are feeling the pinch across the whole spectrum of employment. So narrowly focusing on certain kinds of infrastructure improvements (which the Country does need) doesn't seem to make much sense to me. This probably won't be a benefit to most of the workers who have lost jobs over the past year or so... or to those who are about to lose their jobs.

Furthermore, it will take quite a long time for this kind of spending to trickle down through the rest of the economy, and even when it does, it will be so narrow that the impact may not be as fruitful as policymakers hope.

3. The benefits from this kind of spending will be temporary. Once roads and bridges are built or rehabbed and all the money is spent, the jobs created through temporary State and Federal contracting will have to be eliminated. There is no sustainability involved in the plan. Where will the jobs come from once the construction projects start or when they are completed?


As I have mentioned before in a suggestion to The Obama Administration should create a quasi-government entity (like the FDIC, TVA, Corporation for Public Broadcasting...there are templates for this already), that would be responsible for allocating funding to help seed the creation and development of new industries to meet current and future challenges. This entity would provide grants and low interest or no interest guaranteed loans for start-up companies. This government entity would also help spur innovation by encouraging competition among existing and future companies, and encouraging research (including doing research of its own). Once this entity is in place, massive amounts of money could go towards establishing new sustainable jobs in new industries. Green jobs, jobs in technology, education, transportation, urban development and housing could all be created...and these would be sustainable jobs that would be around years after the initial funding dries up.

The current plan seems to focus too much on throwing massive amounts of money into a black hole, rather than investing the money and directing it to the areas of the economy that would create the biggest and most sustainable return on the investment over time. There would be more Federal and State tax revenues as a result of a more comprehensive and sustainable job creation plan, and there would be a much wider impact from the residual jobs that would be created (jobs that would be created in sectors that support the larger industries receiving the Tax money).

Without this, Obama's plan runs the risk of falling flat, while costing taxpayers more than a Trillion dollars... debt that the Country already cannot afford, but that would be even harder to pay back in the context of a failed jobs creation effort. These new jobs and new industries will not sprout up on their own. Banks simply don't want to loan money for corporate projects; and existing transportation, technology and energy companies aren't being pressured to innovate due to inadequate competition and the lack of new markets to sell their goods and services. Companies have no incentive to spend money on R&D, especially at a time when everyone else is pulling back on spending and watching every cent. They want to be certain that there will be a market (that would create a return for them almost immediately) before they invest tons of money on new projects. Therefore, the Federal government must intervene to act as sort of a seed factory and incubator for the creation and development of new industries. It must also encourage innovation and competition among existing companies by doing research of its own, by creating a market that companies will want to compete for (Federal Government contracts, retrofitting Federal buildings for energy efficiency, providing Fuel efficient autos, etc), and by supporting new entrants.... start-up companies that will be the companies of the future.

Much more should also be done to stabilize the Housing Market... where one of the main focuses should involve helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Top Ten Priorities For The Obama Administration

Over the next few weeks I will post my top ten list of Obama Administration priorities.

I'll try to post one a day... starting with ten and moving up, and adding a summary explaining why that particular item is important in Obama's first term.

I already have most of my list completed... but what issues or problems are most vexing for you? Of course we know about the obvious two or three...there are certain issues right now that will be at the top, but what are some of the less obvious problems?

Condi Was Like the Wicked Witch of the West

This is according to State Department Staff.

Harpers Magazines Scott Horton notes that last week several career State Department staffers compared former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz:

I met last week with a number of career State Department employees and was surprised when one said she was looking forward to the “Glinda Party” next week. I asked her: if Hillary was Glinda, the Good Witch of the South from the Wizard of Oz, did that make Condoleezza Rice the Wicked Witch of the West?

“You’re on to it,” she said. Another person pointed out to me that after Rice’s arrival in 2005 the tone of official State Department publications changed; they began to praise and glorify Rice. “No prior secretary,” said the twenty-year veteran, “did anything like this.”

I suspected as much...

Obama Foreign Policy to Include "America Houses"

Here's a great post from the ladies at "Whirled View" detailing possible foreign policy approaches of the new Administration. One of the initiatives discussed by Clinton will involve more "America Houses" overseas, particularly in the Arab World.

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

The Future of the 50-State Strategy

I just got this email from the organization Democracy for America.

What a great week, right? Finally, we have a President intent on getting America back on track and he hasn't waited a single day to get started.

But why can't we say the same thing about his leadership of the Democratic Party?

The 50 State Strategy will go down as one of the most successful long-term programs the DNC has ever implemented, providing resources for increasing voter registration, maintaining a national voter file available to local parties, developing leaders at all levels of office, and employing official DNC staff in every state.

This week, word leaked from Washington that the DNC might return to the short-sighted policies of the past and only focus real resources on swing states in preparation for the next Presidential election.

If it ain't broke, don't break it. We must step up our aggressive campaign to immediately reinstate the 50 State Strategy...

Yesterday, local DFA members delivered our "Reinstate the 50 State Strategy" petition with signatures and comments representing over one million DFA members nationwide.

We can't sit idle and wait for a response. Local elections for Mayors, City Councils and School Boards are coming up fast. Congressional elections in 2010 will need the grassroots groundwork we lay right now. And in 2012, Barack will need a strong people-powered Democratic Party nationwide.

Since President Obama appointed Gov. Tim Kaine to be the new Chair of the DNC, both Barack and Tim have said many nice words about the 50 State Strategy. But praise is not action and over 200 organizers have been let go with no announced plan to replace them.

Keep up the pressure and make sure Gov. Kaine understands that if it ain't broke, don't break it.

Apparently the Democratic Party is seriously considering doing away with the highly successful 50-State Strategy for political and community organizing and going back to the short-sighted focus on swing states as its main political strategy. This relates to an issue percolating late last year where 200 local community organizers were fired by the DNC after Howard Dean stepped down as DNC chair.

Friday, January 23, 2009

" I Won"

Hat tip:This Week With Barack Obama

From The Wall Street Journal

January 23, 2009, 2:32 pm
Obama to GOP: ‘I Won’
Jonathan Weisman reports on the White House.

The top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship.

But Obama showed that in an ideological debate, he’s not averse to using a jab.

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.

Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”

With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

An Interview with Alice Smith

I caught a great interview yesterday with Alice Smith, courtesy of NPR's On Point.

Alice Smith has been around for a while, but has not gotten the kind of acclaim and exposure she deserves. But she has been getting more recognition over the past few months (finally). Smith is a multi-talented and multi-faceted musician, in the same general vein as Raul Midon, Theresa Andersson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Darius Rucker, Jamie Lidell, Nikka Costa, Corrine Bailey Rae or even more established legends like Prince or George Benson. She can't be put into a box....and that's exactly how it should be. She seems well suited for Jazz, Pop, R&B, solo vocals, Blues, Country... or a mishmash of a variety of styles all at once.

She talks about the problems with the corporate music business, echoing the complaints that I often make about the music industry. The commercial cookie-cutter music culture chokes off creativity. Everyone seems to want to sound the same these days. I often have trouble distinguishing one performer from another. This is why I stick mostly to public radio or "oldies" programming.

I'm glad to see that she is finally getting more national exposure. I prefer the Alice Smith's who are out there.... over the Beyonce's. Beyonce can't be found in my music collection.


Change Is In the Air for 2009, Hopefully for the Better

Random Thoughts on Personal Change & more...

So what does the Obama Victory, and now Presidency mean to me? I'm still not sure. My feelings keep changing. A few weeks ago I wrote commentary (that I never posted) where I praised Obama's victory, but didn't think that it would really have a positive measurable impact on how Black youth perceive themselves, how they performed in school, and how they navigated through life in general terms. I wrote that many of the problems for Blacks, especially Black males, would remain.

I also believed (at the time) that Obama wouldn't have much of an impact on my own life in terms of my problems with Black identity, how I perceived myself or how others would perceive me as a man of color. I believed (and for the most part still believe) that I would still be seen through a stereotypical lens by Whites and other non-Blacks....that I would be seen as less than because of my skin color. I will probably always feel this way. I understand that no matter how well Obama does, I will still have to run faster and jump higher just to be considered a worthy equal by non-Blacks. I will continue to have to work for some sort of White approval...whether I want to or not....and whether I even know it or not (I often find myself doing this when I am not trying to and when I am not cognizant of it).

However, after the events of the past week, I don't feel as rigid or hardcore about these views. The pride of seeing Obama take the oath, and seeing him saluted by his honor guard, seeing well over a million Americans of all ethnic groups in Washington to witness history first hand, seeing him walking outside of his limo to greet onlookers, and seeing White powerbrokers calling this man "Mr. President"... it is all having a moderating effect on me already. I expected to be in my watchdog, (almost anti-Obama) mode this week... ready to pounce on the first signs of backtracking or of a mistake. And yes.... I will eventually get into that mode of being critical of Obama... and he will make plenty of mistakes. But for now, I have been somewhat neutralized by events. I am already looking at myself differently.


I am hoping that things will begin to pay off for me this year.... that my financial situation will begin to change. My financial paralysis has always led to a sort of social paralysis...and general life paralysis for me. I have never enjoyed a "normal" life situation in adulthood.... something that others take for granted. This has led to an absolutely pathetic "existence" (not really "a life" at all). Other folks would have probably committed suicide and would have been done with it by now... but my faith that something better would eventually come has kept me alive. I don't know how much longer that will last...but for now, i'm still here. But this situation of no money, and thus no relationships, no woman, and few comforts has to change and change soon.

Obama's victory, and his 2 days in office so far have already provided me with much needed fuel. Waking up each day and looking at myself in the mirror isn't quite so dreadful. My old hopes (some which died a long time ago) have been stirred again....
I think 2009 will be a pretty good year for me. Tough... but good. No matter how I feel about Obama's policies... his Presidency has put a little bounce in my step.

More Random Stuff...

I hope to start getting out more this year (for me that simply means taking myself to a movie or treating myself to dinner a few times).... I may even challenge myself to date again... at least one time. I despise dating (i'd rather lose an extremity).... mostly because I am so financially ill equipped and always have been. As a man, I am defined by what's in my bank account....and by how I make a living, even when I know I may have a few other things to offer. I know that once I find better (what I consider dignified) employment, how I view myself will immediately change. My crippling shyness and lack of confidence will begin to shift too... I'm 35 and I don't ask women out (for a variety of reasons). My attitude is... "why bother". I hate it so much that I didn't have my first date until I was 30. But with age is coming the fear that I will die without leaving anything behind... or I will be 40, 45, 50, with nothing. I'm already wishing that I could hit a rewind button to take myself back to 17, 18, or 19 to start all over again... Every major decision would be different.

I can't do anything about the past though... I only have control (or at least some control) of the future. And Obama is turning out to be a welcomed sight for me... i'm starting to reset my goals already.

Right now...on the personal front... i'm just hoping not to surpass former NBA Star AC Green when it comes to celibacy. If I pass AC Green, then i'll probably go ahead and make an appointment with Kevorkian. But that leaves me with 3 & 1/2 years. I just haven't been motivated. It has been by personal choice...but mostly because of financial circumstance. I hate myself...and feel like slitting both wrists when I see lesser men walking around with gorgeous women, and I see this everyday at work. It's like seeing someone enjoying Prime Steak when you are eating SPAM, bologna, and cheap bread everyday. But I just keep hoping that God has some sort of plan or purpose for me and that it will make sense at some point.

I also hope to reconnect with family this year. I have zero relationship with my 3 siblings. Mostly because I am embarrassed (of life, etc). Again... Obama is causing a rethink. I keep in touch with 1 or 2 family members on a scant basis... simply so they can claim me once i'm dead. I am detached from everyone else.... even from the Grandmother who helped raise me. "Change in our own lives" is definitely in order for me. It was something about the last several years that have been stifling.... Being social was always exhausting and draining for me... I have to work 10 times as hard as everyone else to do it... but I think 9/11 (among other things) helped pull me back into my cocoon. I mean... I'm not totally anti-social. I work where there are millions of visitors a year...where there are thousands of people passing through daily... in a work situation or in school... (although labored), I am able to do what I need to in order to accomplish the immediate task... I can navigate all sorts of social situations. I seem to be able to do this by zoning out..and blocking thoughts of weaknesses, etc. It's my personal life that is most dismal. So i'm making 2009...the year of personal improvement.. to be a better man (although it will probably take several years to get where I need to be... starting is the hard part).

On a lighter note...

I don't usually watch much TV... i'm always working during prime-time anyway. But I have recently found myself hooked on "The Cash Cab". If I were in New York City, I would be out looking for that damn Cab, even though there are thousands of Cabs in the Big Apple.

I'm also hooked on "Manhunters". It gets my adrenalin going. Generally, I tend to enjoy A&E, TLC, Discovery Channel, NatGeo, and the History Channel. Every now and then I will turn to MSNBC for news (since I am a politics and news junkie)... But I have been less interested since the election. You can only take so much corporate news. I get most of my daily news and info from NPR, CBS radio, USA Today, and more than a dozen internet sources. I do enjoy watching 'Countdown' on occasion though.

BTW... I was hoping that I would have something to really complain about after Obama's first 48 hours in office. But uhhh... I couldn't find anything to criticize. I guess that's a good thing... but it has an impact on my blogging inspiration. The man's first 2 days as President have exceeded my expectations.

David "Fathead" Newman (1933-2009)

David "Fathead" Newman

Newman was a beast on the Sax for 4 decades. His playing covered a wide range of styles, including traditional straight ahead Jazz, and R&B. With his gritty sound, he contributed to the Soul-Jazz fusion of the 1960's and 70's. Along with others, Newman became a template for Sax players who came to prominence later on in the Soul-Jazz sub genre, such as Grover Washington, David Sanborn, and Ronnie Laws.

He was one of the busiest sidemen and studio musicians around, often a "first call" player for major R&B artists. As a result, much of his recorded work ended up on the albums of other musicians. He is definitely more of an underground, unsung musical figure...known more to DJ's, music lovers, and by his peers, than by the general public.

See report from the New York Times

Commentary from the Blog 'Between The Grooves'

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

' The People's House'

Thanks to NMP for this hat tip.

The President and the First Lady opened up the White House to ' the people' on their first day in the White House.

Look at what The Sista is wearing on her back. She's got Africa on one panel, Barack Obama on another. I don't know what's on the other side. OF COURSE, she would wear it to The White House with pride.

When I first saw the picture, I smiled. Then, I reread NMP's comment:
Another 'look how far we've come moment'. Young Black men (braids in all) in the White House meeting the Black President......

When I commented that Obama wasn't the first President to open The White House to ' the people',

NMP responded:
True enough, but how many of 'our people' have ever had any interest in going inside? Or should I say felt like they belonged inside? knowing DC as I know it, there are countless kids that look like him and of the same age who have lived in DC all of their young lives and have never been past Eastern Market. That's effectively the segregation line in DC. They have never seen the Capitol, Washington Monument or the White House up close. As far as they were concerned, those national monuments meant as much to them as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Despite DC being majority Black, it's one of the most segregated cities in the country. Yesterday may very well have been the first time that DC was integrated. So for me, that image was powerful.

NMP was right. I studied the first picture, and I was lucky enough to find at The Black Snob the one of the young man shaking President Obama's hand.

Look at that picture. How many of us have passed this young man on the street and had all these ideas about him? Was one of those ideas - ' this young man wants to meet The President of the United States'. No, I believe it wouldn't have made the list.

This was a goosebumps moment that I didn't even realize I wanted to see.

Black First Family 'changes everything'

Thanks to Miranda for the hat tip.


Black First Family 'changes everything'
By John Blake

(CNN) -- Jamaal Young was watching Barack Obama and his family greet an ecstatic crowd in Chicago, Illinois, on Election Night when he realized that something seemed wrong.

Obama didn't shout at his wife, Michelle, to shut up. The first lady didn't roll her eyes and tell Obama to act like a man. No laugh track kicked in, no one danced, and no police sirens wailed in the background.

Young had tuned in to celebrate the election of the nation's first African-American president. But he realized that he was witnessing another historic first. A black family was being featured as the first family, not the "problem family" or the "funny family."

"They are not here to entertain us," says Young, a New York Press columnist. "Michelle Obama is not sitting around with her girlfriends saying, 'My man ain't no good.' You're not seeing this over -sexualized, crazy black family that, every time a Marvin Gaye song comes on, someone stands up and says, 'Oh girl, that's my jam.' "

The nation didn't just get a glimpse of its new first family when Obama and his family waved to the crowds on Inauguration Day. The Obamas are offering America a new way to look at the black family, Young and other commentators say.

America has often viewed the black family through the prism of its pathologies: single-family homes, absentee fathers, out of wedlock children, they say. Or they've turned to the black family for comic relief in television shows such as "Good Times" in the '70s or today's "House of Payne."

But a black first family changes that script, some say. A global audience will now be fed images of a highly educated, loving and photogenic black family living in the White House for the next four years -- and it can't go off the air like "The Cosby Show."

"The last time we had an image of a black family that was this positive it was "The Cosby Show," but this is the Real McCoy," says Jacqueline Moore Bowles, national president of Jack and Jill of America Inc., a predominately black organization for youths.

A new vision of black intimacy

The new first family could inspire some of their biggest changes within the black family itself, some say

In 1965, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democratic senator from New York, warned the nation about the rise of fatherless black families. He concluded that many black families were caught in a "tangle of pathology." The pathology persists. The U.S. Census Bureau said that 69 percent of black women who gave birth in 2005 were unmarried (it was 31 percent for white mothers).

The relationship between Obama and his wife may help untangle some of that pathology, some black commentators say.

It could start with black intimacy. The American public is routinely exposed to sexually charged relationships between black men and women. "Street lit" books with titles such as "Thugs and the Women Who Love Them," and "A Project Chick" now crowd bookstores and public library shelves.

Yet the new first couple offers America an example of a black, passionate, marital relationship, says Jennifer Brea, a writer for

"They are the most natural and accessible first couple this country has ever had," Brea says. "You see a politician give a peck on his wife's cheek after a speech and often it looks staged. When you look at them, you feel like that there's this chemistry and spark."

Several black women actually sighed as they talked about how much Obama seems to touch his wife and exchange soulful glances with her in public. They said Obama will show young black men how to treat women -- and young black women how they should be treated.

"We don't get to see black love," says Heidi Durrow, the prize-winning author of the forthcoming novel, "Low Sky Dreaming."

"But every time you see them [the Obamas] on stage, it's been super," she says. "It's an amazing image to see these dynamic, smart, progressive people just openly affectionate. I'm all for it."

Obama's apparent closeness to his wife may help untangle another pathology -- the preoccupation with skin color and "looking white," Bowles, president of Jack and Jill, says.

Bowles says some powerful black men marry women who are white or fair-skinned. Obama's decision to marry a darker-skinned woman like Michelle Obama shows black women that black can indeed be beautiful.

"Too often successful black men look for other things ... a white woman or someone who is light, bright and darn near white," Bowles says. "She [Obama] is a true sister, and she makes no bones about it."

'They're not 'Bebe's Kids' '

But what about those blacks who haven't been considered "true sisters" or "true brothers." A black first family changes that script as well, some say.

Obama's family shows that there is not one way, but many ways for someone to claim membership in the black family, some say.

Brea, the writer for, is the daughter of a white mother and a Haitian-American father. She says she felt pressure to claim one race growing up. She never quite felt like a full citizen.

Obama's biracial background and his "exotic" upbringing relieves her of that pressure. Obama will help other blacks who come from multiracial backgrounds and immigrant communities to be comfortable in their own skin, she says.

"It's changed everything," she says. "You can sort of be whatever you want in all of its complexity, and it's something to be proud of."

The Obama's two daughters, Malia and Sasha, also offer America a new way to look at black kids, others say. Throughout Inauguration Day, the two girls stood before the cameras and waved, smiled and played to the cameras.

Durrow, the author of "Low Sky Dreaming," says it's refreshing to see well-spoken black children on television who act nothing like "Bebe's kids," the unruly black kids from the ghetto immortalized by the late black comedian Robin Harris.

"It's wonderful for people on the world stage to see young black kids who are so poised and vivacious," Durrow says. "They're not 'Bebe's Kids.' I see them and I get the sense that they're going to be OK."

Though the new first family may seem like a novelty to some, for others they are familiar.

Barbara McKinzie, international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, says she grew up in a small town in Oklahoma surrounded by black couples and an extended family of teachers and neighbors, who were knit together like the new first family.

She didn't need to look at the Inauguration Day festivities to see a vibrant black family.

"It's not new, but it appears new," she says. "The president and his wife and children are not a novelty in the African-American community.

"It's the only family I've known in my life."

I was on another blog, and this discussion came up, and many folks took exception to another blogger who had said in essence the same thing as in this article. Person upon person spoke about how THEY had grown up seeing Black love. My position was that, of course, Black love exists. It's always existed. It's how we have sustained ourselves throughout the centuries. But, remember, I was thankful for Michelle Obama because she was representative of the INVISIBLE part of America that has never been shown - until now. So, even if you saw it in your own life, you can count the number of times you've seen it respresented with consistency in the Media.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The First Couple's First Dance

The Work Ahead

In towns like Hollandale, MS hopes are sky-high that Obama will return a sense of economic normalcy to towns like it and hundreds others across the country that are adrift in a new world order that doesn't seem to appreciate what they have to offer.

In Hollandale, unemployment and poverty are twin cousins of evil that keep large swaths of Mississippi economically stagnant. Bush's policies did little to help and if you believe his critics his policies did much to exacerbate Hollandale's problems. Disdain for the poor while currying favor among the rich left the Hollandale's of America adrift.

The key is to council patience and recognize that change won't come like a lightning bolt from the sky, but only after years and years of meaningful investment.

Barack Obama Is Sworn In As The 44th President of the United States of America

Rev. Joseph Lowery's Benediction

Praise Song For The Day - The Poem by Dr. Elizabeth Alexander

'Praise Song For The Day'.

'Praise Song for the Day' - Full Text

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

ALEXANDER: A farmer consider the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Inauguration Day Pics - Post #2





Obama Inauguration


The 44th President of the United States of America

The Presidential Address:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.