Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Minnesota Supreme Court Says AL FRANKEN is the Winner


From The LA Times:

Minn. rules for Franken in Senate fight
From the Associated Press
11:21 AM PDT, June 30, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's long-running Senate race.

The high court rejected a legal challenge from Republican Norm Coleman, whose options for regaining the Senate seat are dwindling.

Justices said Franken is entitled to the election certificate he needs to assume office. With Franken and the usual backing of two independents, Democrats will have a big enough majority to overcome Republican filibuster.

Coleman hasn't ruled out seeking federal court intervention

Now, it's time for that punk Pawlenty to certify it, and give Minnesota Equal Representation in the U.S. Senate.

Getting Franken in there would mean that the Democrats would have 60 votes and NO MORE EXCUSES.

QUEEN Michelle?....Sigh.....Here we go again.


From Politico:
Queen Michelle the First?
By JEREMY D. MAYER | 6/30/09 4:44 AM EDT

Michelle Obama wants a bigger role in her husband’s administration, according to The Washington Post. Unlike Laura Bush, who focused on a few peripheral issues, Obama wants a seat at the table when key policies are made.

Obama’s new chief of staff, Susan Sher, is part of the crucial 8:15 a.m. White House staff meeting. The first lady’s team of more than 20 has been told to think “strategically” about how to make her a player on policies she cares about.

This could be a very bad idea.

Washington insiders haven’t seen a first lady this ambitious since Hillary Clinton, without question the most powerful holder of that unofficial office.

Clinton put herself in charge of her husband’s plans to radically reform health care, and the nation is still paying the price for her mistakes.

While the failure of the Clinton administration’s health care agenda had many causes, she made some missteps that a more experienced Washington policymaker would not have made. And because she was the spouse of the president, it was very tough for anyone to tell her husband that things were going badly.

Clinton was a Yale-educated lawyer and, without a doubt, a brilliant woman (and she has learned a lot since then). And much the same could be said about the double-Ivy League-degreed Obama.

But if you throw a pebble up in the air at rush hour in Metro Center, you would very likely hit someone with an Ivy League degree. Succeeding at policy development and advocacy at the highest levels of government takes a lot more than that.

Marrying a top policymaker doesn’t magically grant you the rare skills necessary for your spouse’s profession, any more than marrying Serena Williams would enable you to win Wimbledon.

I know few music fans who believe Yoko and Linda improved the music of John and Paul with their contributions.

Yet even if Obama is a natural and immediately grasps how Washington works, there is something troubling about the whole concept of a presidential spouse with a multimillion-dollar staff.

Two Great Progressive Initiatives That Aren't Being Touted By the Obama Administration

Why isn't the Obama Administration touting great policy initiatives that would be popular with Americans...initiatives that are either underway or close to being implemented? To me it's more proof of what I have mentioned before... Obama has lost control of his agenda and his Presidency. It has been hijacked by Liberal fringe interests. All we have been hearing about over the last few months is Gay Marriage, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gitmo and Torture. I'm not suggesting that these issues aren't important. Certainly they are of primary interests and importance to a few. But these issues have hijacked the spotlight and the Obama Administration at the expense of other interests...that are of primary importance to a very large part (likely a majority) of the Country. This is what I warned about in a couple of previous posts.

There are currently two important initiatives flying under the radar- one I heard about in a 5 second radio news clip a couple of months ago...(and hadn't heard anything else since). The initiative has to do with the Obama Administration pushing the idea of guaranteeing sick leave for American workers. Roughly half of all private sector workers (yours truly included) don't get any sick leave.... no paid leave at all. Without sick time you can't take care of a family member and you can't take care of yourself. I used to have paid sick leave at the same workplace, but when the business was taken over several years ago by a cut-throat company... workers lost paid sick leave. Even when I had the paid sick days (which amounted to about 5 days a year) I rarely took them. I would take 1 day every 18 months to 2 years. Even then I would usually go to work sick. Now I have no choice. Missing just one day puts me behind- a consequence of being in the "working class". But I liked the way things were before because I at least had the option. It's bad enough that I have inadequate health coverage...and practically have no health care program to speak of and have no doctor, but things are magnified even more when I can't afford to get sick and can't take a day off to even see a doctor (which ends up creating delays that make health conditions worse).

Obama is crazy for not having this kind of initiative (which is a political winner on top of just being the right thing to do) at the top of his agenda. Touting this initiative would be PR gold IMO. And he would probably be able to win a fight with Congress on that issue....and use it as a victory. I believe he tried to sneak this into the Tobacco Bill, but Republicans made him take it out (although I may be mistaken). But why is he being quiet and sneaky about such good legislation...about something that the voters would get behind him on?

The second initiative is one that apparently is already going to happen. It has to do with providing relief for those who have student loan debt, and it even includes provisions for loan forgiveness. Again... PR gold for Obama. But there's just one problem. No one has heard about it! I was certainly not aware of it... and i'm drowning in student loan debt. In fact, i'm pretty much facing Financial Armageddon because of student loans. I'm months away from Bankruptcy... although Bankruptcy won't clear my student loan debt. But the fact is... the Bankruptcy would clear my other debts...allowing me to deal with the student loans. Granted...the student loan initiative would not cover every borrower... because there are so many different kinds of student loans (too many.... I have at least 5 different kinds myself). But it would provide me with a few more options and might be able to help a little. And when you're dealing with Financial Armageddon, you'll take whatever help you can get.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Obama's find a new church - and, it's not in the Black community

From Time Magazine:

The Obamas Find a Church Home — Away from Home
By Amy Sullivan Monday, Jun. 29, 2009

For the past five months, White House aides and friends of the Obamas have been quietly visiting local churches and vetting the sermons of prospective first ministers in a search for a new — and uncontroversial — church home. Obama has even sampled a few himself, attending services at 19th Street Baptist on the weekend before his inauguration and celebrating Easter at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Now, in an unexpected move, Obama has told White House aides that instead of joining a congregation in Washington, D.C., he will follow in George W. Bush's footsteps and make his primary place of worship Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David.

You can read the rest of the article at link above.

Now, I could say a great deal about this, but I won't.

Court rules for white firefighters over promotions

From The Washington Post:

Court rules for white firefighters over promotions
The Associated Press
Monday, June 29, 2009; 11:19 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.

New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when there is no evidence it was intentional.

"Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion for the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them."

Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens signed onto Ginsburg's dissent, which she read aloud in court Monday.

Rest of article at link above.

Of course, we know which way Unca Clarence voted.

Bernie Madoff gets 150 years

From The AP:

Bernard Madoff gets maximum 150 years in prison
NEW YORK — Bernard Madoff has been sentenced to the maximum 150 years in prison for his multibillion-dollar fraud scheme. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin handed down the sentence in New York on Monday.

Defense attorneys had sought 12 years, while prosecutors wanted the maximum. The federal probation department had recommended 50 years. Chin called the fraud "staggering" and noted that it spanned more than 20 years. He says "the breach of trust was massive."

(enlarge photo)Michael De Vita, a victim of Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme, speaks to reporters before Madoff's sentencing outside Manhattan federal court in New York, Monday, June 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The 71-year-old former Nasdaq chairman pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges in March and has been jailed since.

He's only a cog. I want all the rest of them that helped him pull off his scam.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Media Alert

hat tip: Young, Black and Fabulous


In a rare decision by TIME, they are putting out a rushed mid-week special edition hitting stands Monday. It will showcase the life and legacy of Michael Jackson and will pay special tribute.

From around the world:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Review of Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny

The bottom line: the Liberal Arts Dude gives a hearty standing ovation to Theresa Amato for writing this book. I give it an enthusiastic five out of five stars! Why the overwhelmingly positive review? Let me explain by illustrating with a story about ordinary people seeking a change to the status quo to something better resembling the promise of democracy.

In more than one occasion in online forums which discuss social and political problems in the U.S., I have observed people say that they are sick of seeing professional politicians pay lip service to reform and solving problems but who, upon closer inspection are ineffective, corrupt, or turn out to be uninterested in reform despite their political rhetoric.

The disgruntled citizen then offers him or herself as a viable alternative to the status quo and announces his or her intentions to “throw the bums out” by running for office. The citizen seeks to prove that an honest and concerned citizen can do much better at cleaning up American politics than the traditional, professional politician.

For every concerned citizen who has ever felt this way and are serious on a run for electoral office I suggest very strongly that they first read Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny. This book should be required reading for those who seek to make a difference in American society and who aims to make that difference by using political office as a vehicle for social and political change.

I would even assert that every concerned citizen should read this book as a guide to where the roots of the problems lie and to distinguish real, effective reform efforts from non-issues that sidetrack reformers and which distract from what truly needs to be done to reform American politics.

The book, in large part, is an exhaustively-researched and documented chronicle of the pitfalls, traps, lopsided and unfair rules and regulations, legal and procedural hurdles in the American system of running for political office for those who operate outside the traditional major parties, the Republicans and Democrats.

Grand Illusion will strip away any illusions the average, civic-minded citizen might have about the notion of fair play, fairness, efficiency and ease of participation for political outsiders in American politics. In fact, the author puts to question the oft-boasted claim of traditional politicians that America is a shining beacon of democracy, that it values democratic practices and does its utmost to encourage democratic participation among as many and as wide a range of individuals among its citizens as possible.

In reality, the author Theresa Amato argues that the rules for political participation are lopsided overwhelmingly in favor of the two major parties. Third parties and independents are at a distinct disadvantage by design of the two major parties who govern and make up the rules for political participation in the U.S.

From rules surrounding ballot access, signature requirements for candidates to get on the ballot, redistricting rules which favor incumbency, control of the governing bodies which make up the rules for elections (the Federal Election Commission and Congress) to who gets to participate in televised debates the major parties have made it so onerous, financially expensive, and a nightmare to navigate the byzantine bureaucracy of the political process. These processes of course, largely exempt candidates from the two major parties.

Thus, just starting out of the gate, third and minor parties and independents—most likely cash and resource-strapped shoestring operations already—are very much at a disadvantage. And this is just to enter the ring.

Amato also describes in great detail—using the Ralph Nader 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns that she headed as case studies—what happens when a third party or independent candidate presents a legitimate challenge to the two major parties. She presents in mind-numbing detail the outrageous and dirty tactics the Nader campaign experienced largely in the hands of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic party sought to prevent the Nader campaign from getting into the ballot in as many states nationwide as possible. To make this happen they initiated a campaign of harassment, intimidation of campaign volunteers, sabotage, outright threats and even bribery. Most outrageous and maddening were Amato’s description of the Democrats’ strategy of tying up the Nader campaign’s resources, time and energies in expensive litigation and lawsuits.

More than just a disgruntled person with an axe to grind, Amato is a practicing lawyer and activist who is deeply knowledgeable about the strategies needed to fix the flaws of the political system. To this end she details nine important court cases that need to be revisited at the Supreme Court level in Chapter 5.

In addition, in the Conclusion, among the many great ideas for reform she proposes are:

  • eliminating the Electoral College

  • consider adopting alternative methods of voting which remove the spoiler factor in voting for third parties and independents such as Instant Runoff Voting

  • add an affirmative right to vote in the Constitution

  • Federalize Federal elections

  • adding third-party and independent representatives in the Federal Elections Commission and the Election Assistance Commission to make them truly non-partisan

  • federal financing for federal elections

  • free airtime for all candidates regardless of political party

  • rewarding low-donor campaigns or PACs

  • adding proportional representation at the federal, state and local levels to make them more participatory

  • Adopt a binding NOTA (none of the above) option in elections

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates should be reconstituted as a nonpartisan entity

  • Move Election Day to the weekend to encourage greater participation

  • Remove administration of federal elections from partisan secretaries of state, state election boards or their subsidiaries

  • A permanent, national registration of voters

Regardless of how you feel about Ralph Nader, third parties, and whether or not you consider yourself an independent, Grand Illusion is a book that is, first and foremost, about the practice and procedures regarding democratic participation.

Yes, the book is largely, about democratic participation among those who are marginalized in American politics—those most likely to go against the grain and take on public stands on controversial topics which need to be addressed in the public sphere but the two major parties are reluctant to touch.

But if you believe that in a democracy, that every vote should count, that people should be given a wide spectrum of political options that truly reflect their beliefs and values, and that society should encourage, support and reward political participation and civic-mindedness among its citizens, Grand Illusion is a book that you should read.

The book largely outlines how American society and government in modern times largely fails to live up to the promise and ideals of participatory democracy. But if you care about such matters you owe it to yourself to shake up your perspective of the stability, fairness, and essential benevolence of the American political system. Once your equilibrium has been disturbed by this book hopefully it will spur you into seeking out and joining with the reformers who seek to turn to practical reality the ideals of democracy and democratic participation.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monica Conyers pleads guilty to conspiracy

Hat tip: parker404, who left this great comment:

Damn Monica!!! Was it worth it? Triflin ass.

From The Detroit Free Press:
Monica Conyers pleads guilty to conspiracy
She faces up to 5 years in prison
Updated at 1:30 p.m.

Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers pleaded guilty this morning to conspiring to commit bribery and is free on personal bond.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said, "The defendant now stands convicted."

The one count of conspiring to commit bribery is punishable by up to five years in prison.

No sentencing date has been set.

In court, Conyers’ combative demeanor was gone, replaced by soft-spoken resignation as the judge and his staff several times asked her to speak up.

Conyers, the wife of powerful Democratic congressman U.S. Rep. John Conyers, appeared before Cohn to answer charges in connection with the wide-ranging probe of wrongdoing at Detroit city hall.

She has long been under suspicion in the Synagro Technologies bribery probe, not least because she had been a vocal opponent of the contract before suddenly switching her sentiments. She became the deciding voice in the city council’s 5-4 vote to approve the sludge-hauling deal in November 2007.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Micheal Jackson - Billie Jean

I know that this was just posted but I thought that I would give my perspective. Billie Jean really sums up Michael Jackson the king of pop.

Michael Jackson has died at the age of 50.

When Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album (yep, it was an album back then, 1979) came out, I bought it the first week it was out. I was in college. MTV was just starting. Off the Wall's first hit was Don't Stop Until You Get Enough. This was a hit. A huge hit. This begins Michael's best time as a creative performer. He does the voice track for ET. He wins a Grammy for that.

MTV was getting big. Billie Jean was released. As I recall, the song was just doing okay. Nothing big. Nothing huge. Then MTV played the video. No Black artist that I know of was on MTV before Michael. The video was slick. It was more than some guy with big hair sticking his touch out at the camera for 3 minutes. Was the video nuclear physics? NO. It was a huge breakthrough.

There was just a hint of BET (Black Entertainment Television) at this time. Most houses couldn't get BET. There was no satellite. Cable was still really young. WGN and TNT were the main channels on cable. HBO and Showtime were the only movie channels that I can remember at that time.

So, it is May of 1983. Motown is going to have their 25th anniversary show. I'm running around with graduation from college duties. I miss the special. Everyone who saw it was amazed at Michael's performance. This performance, if I'm not mistaken, wins Michael an Emmy. The combination of the video and the live performance caused Michael Jackson to blow up. He was HUGE.

Michael and Quincy Jones, the producer who really was responsible for the sound, cleaned up at the Grammy's. They won 8.

Just a few words about this performance. There are 2 new dance moves that Michael breaks out for this performance that floors the crowd and become legendary Michael Jackson moves. He does the moonwalk for the first time. He also does the thing where he goes up on his toes. I have no idea what that's called. But he was so fluid, and moved so well that the audience just stares at one point.

No one was as big as Michael Jackson, in my opinion. No performer. Not The Beatles? Maybe. Not The Stones? Maybe. Elvis? Nope. Here's why I say this. Michael Jackson was popular all over the world. With TV and truly world tours, he had the ability to be worldwide like no other performer. Thriller which was the zenith of his popularity sold over 104 million copies.

Michael Jackson has Died at age 50

Hat tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates

From TMZ.com:

Michael Jackson Dies
Posted Jun 25th 2009 5:20PM by TMZ Staff

We've just learned Michael Jackson has died. He was 50.

Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon at his Holmby Hills home and paramedics were unable to revive him. We're told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back.

A source tells us Jackson was dead when paramedics arrived.

Once at the hospital, the staff tried to resuscitate him but he was completely unresponsive.

We're told one of the staff members at Jackson's home called 911.

La Toya ran in the hospital sobbing after Jackson was pronounced dead.

Michael is survived by three children: Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince "Blanket" Michael Jackson II.


Video Clips: Sorry, most of his Thriller stuff and forward has been disabled over at Youtube, but here's a sample of Michael that I could find.

Supreme Court Votes 8-1 AGAINST Illegal Stripsearch of teen. Guess who was the ' 1'?

Hat tip:Muzikal

From HuffingtonPost.com:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school's strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.

Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills _ the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.

"What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."

Farrah Fawcett Has Died


I know I'm not the only little Black girl who used that curling iron to give themselves the Farrah Flip. This poster was a huge part of pop culture ' back in the day'.

From HuffingtonPost.com:
Farrah Fawcett Dies At 62
BOB THOMAS | June 25, 2009 01:11 PM EST |

LOS ANGELES — Farrah Fawcett, whose luxurious tresses and blinding smile helped redefine sex appeal in the 1970s as one of TV's "Charlie's Angels," died Thursday after battling cancer. She was 62.

The pop icon, who in the 1980s set aside the fantasy girl image to tackle serious roles, died Thursday shortly before 9:30 a.m. PDT in a Santa Monica hospital, spokesman Paul Bloch said.

She burst on the scene in 1976 as one-third of the crime-fighting trio in TV's "Charlie's Angels." A poster of her in a clingy swimsuit sold in the millions.

She left the show after one season but had a flop on the big screen with "Somebody Killed Her Husband." She turned to more serious roles in the 1980s and 1990s, winning praise playing an abused wife in "The Burning Bed."

She had been diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. As she underwent treatment, she enlisted the help of actor Ryan O'Neal, who had been her longtime companion and was the father of her son, Redmond, born in 1985.

This month, O'Neal said he asked Fawcett to marry him and she agreed. They would wed "as soon as she can say yes," he said.

Her struggle with painful treatments and dispiriting setbacks was recorded in the television documentary "Farrah's Story." Fawcett sought cures in Germany as well as the United States, battling the disease with iron determination even as her body weakened.

"Her big message to people is don't give up, no matter what they say to you, keep fighting," her friend Alana Stewart said. NBC estimated the May 15, 2009, broadcast drew nearly 9 million viewers.

Michael Jackson has had a heart attack


Hat tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates


TMZ.com First Reported Jackson Health
Updated: Thursday, 25 Jun 2009, 3:57 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 25 Jun 2009, 3:47 PM CDT

LOS ANGELES - The website TMZ says Michael Jackson has suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital on Thursday afternoon.

TMZ says Jackson was loaded into an ambulance just after 2 p.m. Central time., and his mother was to meet him at the hospital.

Paramedics were seen performing CPR on the singer, who suffered the heart attack at his home on Los Angeles.

For more on this story, visit TMZ.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ed Schultz on Grassley's ' No Public Option'

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

From TPM:

Grassley's Government Health Insurance Hundreds Of Dollars A Month Cheaper Than Average Health Insurance
By Brian Beutler - June 24, 2009, 1:27PM

Earlier today, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--the powerful ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee--lashed out against a public health insurance option, and government involvement in health care generally.

Well, thanks to the government's involvement in health care, Grassley himself saves a pile of money insurance costs himself. In a letter to the Des Moines Register earlier this month, Grassley wrote, "I pay $356 a month for Blue Cross insurance coverage, a plan that is available to federal employees."

That, of course, is significantly cheaper than the average monthly cost of insurance for American families--and that's notwithstanding Grassley's age, which makes him a significantly riskier insuree than the average citizen. But Grassley opposes a public insurance option, which supporters say would lower the cost of insurance for all consumers.

He's a damn U.S. Senator and pays $356 for him AND his wife? My single sister pays more than that for her coverage.

The First Lady's Inner Circle

The First Lady at the National Volunteerism Convention

The First Lady Talks Health Care

Chris Matthews Gets it Right on Healthcare

One of the dumbest moves in a VERY long time - Gov. Sanford (Update)

He was where? Seriously? This may be the dumbest move in the last 5 years. I cant' think of anything dumber off the top of my head.

I'm currently looking for video of Sanford's news conference. (I found it.) Although Sanford might not be the dumbest man alive, he is clearly in the running for the award. So, if I don't show up for work for 5 days is that okay? If I don't call or e-mail to tell folks where I BE at, is that cool? All, I have to do is give some tearful apology and I still have my job?

From the Daily Kos: From The (Columbia, SC) State:

Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsville-Jackson International Airport Wednesday morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media. Sanford's whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who's in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery. Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State Media Company, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money. Sanford said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an activity he said he has enjoyed since he was a high school student. "But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic," Sanford said "... It's a great city."

This episode is unbecoming of a public leader.

OK, I get needing some R&R. I even understand wanting to go to Buenos Aires: I hear it's a great city and has a ton of American ex-pats living there. But the governor of a state cannot just go incommunicado, have a staff sending out BS reports of whereabouts, and not let anyone know about it. Moreover, governors are potential targets for hostile entities abroad. Traveling without security in such an instance is an unnecessary risk.

More from The State:
Sanford said he left Thursday night from the Columbia Metropolitan airport. Media reports said a SLED SUV the governor drove that night was spotted in the airport's parking lot. Sanford said he decided not to return via the Columbia airport to avoid the media. The State Media Company was the only media who greeted Sanford Wednesday morning. "I don't know how this thing got blown out of proportion," Sanford said. Sanford said he has taken adventure trips for years to unwind.

Emphasis added. Sanford's bemusement reminds me of when Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) explained his inaction on the Mark Foley scandal by saying he took the matter to his "supervisor," in that case, Denny Hastert. Jon Stewart mockingly remarked, "Tom Reynolds: United States Congressman, or Assistant Manager at Applebees?"

Update from the State:
“The bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife,” the two-term governor said before a mass of press in the State House outside the governor’s office. “Let me apologize to my wife Jenny and my four boys ... for letting them down.”

Asked directly if he and first lady Jenny Sanford are separated, Sanford said: “I don't know how you want to define that. I’m here and she's there. I guess in a formal sense we are not.”

Sanford acknowledged he misled his staff earlier this week when he lead them to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford said he would resign as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association — a platform he has used over the past few months to broadcast his opposition to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package and fueling speculation that Sanford was considering a 2012 run for president.

Gov. Mark Sanford Abandons State for Mistress

So after all the lying and misleading with phony stories about hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, Mark Sanford has been forced to publicly admit his affair.
"Mr. Religious"...and "Mr. I'm not going to provide my citizens with stimulus money to keep food on their tables" has been creeping on his wife.

If he wants to creep around on his wife...that's fine. But what leaves me scratching my head is the fact that he practically abandoned his State in order to do his creeping around. He abandoned his responsibilities as Governor. Apparently this wasn't the only time he has done so.

How could he leave the State as Governor and not fully inform the Lt. Governor and the leadership in his legislature? This is especially shocking in this post Sept. 11th World we live in. It's ironic because these Republicans, especially Republican Governors, are always invoking 9/11 and touting their leadership responsibilities.

I should have known Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were on to something when they kept sniffing around on this. You don't have to be a bloodhound to pick up on the odor of Bull----.

He's resigned as the chairman of the Republican Governors Assoc. .... hopefully he'll resign as Governor next. It's enough that he tried to starve his own people. It's also enough that he's a religious hypocrite. But now he has abandoned his State and his responsibilities as Governor.

From Rikyrah:
You tell your wife 5 MONTHS AGO, and you're still messing around?


If MY husband steps to me with ' I'm having an affair'

the next sentence better be
a) it's over with HER and I want to work things out with YOU


b) I believe OUR marriage is over, because I want to be with HER.

The ' I dunno, and I'll hump her for a few more months while I make up my mind' is NOT an option.

He only ' confessed' BECAUSE HE WAS CAUGHT!

Follow the money...how many other ' trips' did he take like this...and how many were on the public's dime?

Our Low-Expectations For African American Youth?

Every summer for the past eight years I have scored the Advanced Placement American Government & Politics exam. It's a rigorous endeavor but not one that I would soon give up. You learn a lot about the state of American education from the perspectives of both high school and higher education. This comes from 7-10 days of socialization with nearly 600 educators at both levels. While I was there, I had a series of discussions with a teacher at a charter school in Los Angeles. We talked extensively about the black-white/Asian achievement gap. No matter how it is measured - tests, GPA, college acceptance, high school matriculation, university matriculation, career earnings - there is a significant gap. Why? How?

While not a definitive answer, much of our discussions focused on low expectations in the black community and in that regard we discussed the following column by Leonard Pitts on the low expectations we tend to have for African American youth.

I've long advocated for anything that can get more parental involvement and high expectations start at the home. It's one thing for parents not to help their kids with their homework. It's another thing much worse to not expect more of your kids. Parents can't blame society for having low expectations. Turning around the achievement gap only begins when individual parents expect their kids to be high achievers.

What do you think?

Documentary on the Influence of the Israel Lobby on U.S. Foreign Policy

This documentary is a couple of years old, but is still relevant to what is playing out today between the U.S. and Israel. The documentary centers around a policy paper written by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer back in 2006 critical of U.S. policy towards Israel. The two scholars later published a book expanding on the article (see links below).

Related Links

An in-depth discussion on the impact of the Israel Lobby

Reports from NPR

See the Full Walt/Mearsheimer Paper (available for download).

An Interview with Laura Izibor

Hear a quick interview with new artist Laura Izibor.

Great Mix from EJ Flavors

EJ Flavors has some great Prince stuff posted... I have all of Prince's significant work.... (about 17 albums or so). Definitely one of my favorite musicians growing up (way back in the 80's). This makes me want to start posting my own mixes again.

Take a listen to parts one and two.

Check out EJ's mainpage.

Did Another Terrorist Attack Go Under the Radar?

Did we have another terrorist attack by Republican Right Wing extremists?

Apparently illegal immigration activist leader Shawna Forde has been charged in connection with a double murder in Arizona (including the Cold blooded killing of a child). Was this a terrorist attack made to look like a home invasion robbery? Or was the crime intended to fuel more extremist activity? Either way... this was a deplorable act. I'm sure her feelings towards Hispanics (the dehumanization of them) probably made it easier for her to be involved in this crime (if she's in fact guilty).

Why hasn't Faux News been reporting this story day and night? The same goes for the other big networks. This didn't get nearly as much airtime as the story about Obama taking his wife to dinner....or the latest antics from someone in Hollywood.

See related story w/ video from Crooks and Liars

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On healthcare -- Riddle me this Batman, why do we need trillions more for healthcare?

Everyone is talking about throwing trillions of dollars at healthcare. Look, as a trauma surgeon, I am happy to make more money. You can throw as much money in me as you would like. What many people are talking about, many progressives, is universal healthcare. This means you eliminate insurance costs from the equation. This frees up $700 billion. Somebody go get a calculator. We spend just over $7,000 per person in the United States. We have 46 million Americans who are currently not covered by any insurance. We can use this $700 billion and cover all 46 million Americans. No extra cost.
Joe Scarborough is trying to split the argument into two pieces. First he wants to talk about taking care of the 46 million Americans because, as he says it, "it is a moral issue." Secondly, he has no idea how we get a control exploding costs. Well, Jack Welch threw out some words without actually throwing out a coherent argument of how to control costs. Here's how we control costs:

-- create a Healthcare Board. Yes, I know, more government bureaucracy. This is critically important. This Healthcare Board will be in charge of health care in the United States. They will be able to direct NIH monies. Monies will be directed to finding "the best of care" strategies for the most common diseases (congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension to name a few).
-- Congress needs to give this Healthcare Board the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. Negotiating drug prices will push healthcare costs down.
-- this Healthcare Board must be given the authority by Congress not to approve certain drugs which come up for FDA approval. Currently, the FDA is charged with figuring out whether a drug is safe or not. The FDA does not evaluate if the drug does the same thing that three other drugs already do. There are something like 50 different drugs available to treat hypertension. There are seven or eight different beta-blockers (these drugs act directly on the heart to slow the strength of the hearts contraction. Therefore, lowering blood pressure.) We are wasting resources developing the same drugs over and over and over again. The Healthcare Board can reject drugs that aren't BETTER than current drugs that are on the market.
-- the Healthcare Board must evaluate all medical products. There are literally thousands of medical products. This market includes everything from titanium orthopedic rods which stabilize fractures, to examination tables, to mammogram machines to those scooters. Scooters are an excellent example of an explosion of a product. 15 years ago, there were no scooters. Sales in wheelchairs and scooters top $3.2 billion in 2005. These costs need to be controlled. Along the same lines, does every hospital need a 64 slice CT scanner which has the ability through sophisticated software to show physicians a three-dimensional image of the heart and spin that image in space? Does every hospital need magnetic resonance imaging? Currently market forces are pushing hospitals to buy more and more technology. This is driving up costs. It is unclear whether it is driving up quality (I'm pretty sure that it is not). The Healthcare Board through scientific evaluation can curb these expenses.

-- the one thing that Jack Welsh said, almost under his breath, was that we need to talk about end-of-life issues. We need to go back and examine the Terri Schiavo case. We, as a country, need to decide when we are doing something to the patient as opposed to for the patient. Although the numbers aren't crystal clear, it is commonly believed in the medical community than 50-70% of some patient's overall medical expenditures are spent during the last six months of life. Therefore, if it is possible to identify these patients, prospectively, should we work on increasing the patient's quality of life and not their quantity of life? This needs to be studied and thoroughly debated.

The Racial Politcs Of AIDS

Up at The Loop, I have a column on the racial politics of AIDS. Check it out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Voting Rights Act Upheld, but Narrowed. Vote was 8-1. Three guesses as to whom was the ' 1'.

From The Atlantic Monthly

Jun 22 2009, 10:37 am by Marc Ambinder
Supreme Court Upholds, But Narrows Voting Rights Act

By a vote of 8 to 1, The Supreme Court upheld Section 5 of Voting Rights Act, but says that it raises "serious constitutional questions" and that localities can "bail out" if practices survive scrutiny.

That suggests that the Court wants a new challenge to the constitutionality of the provision, kicking the can down the road, in essence.

The lopsided majority is seen as a surprise, as is the opinion's author, Chief Justice John Roberts. During oral argument, he evinced considerable skepticism about the government's arguments that preclearing election procedures in localities with a history of racial discrimination was still necessary. Administration officials worried that Roberts intended to build a majority to strike down the entire provision.

Section 5 requires federal preclearance of voting procedure changes in places where minorities were discriminated against in the past. Congress overwhelmingly reauthorized Section 5 in 2006; most parts of the 1966 1965 Voting Rights Act are permanent.

The court did not explicitly rule on the constitutionality of the act, although it recognized that its implementation more than 40 years after passage of the Voting Rights Act raises "serious constitutional concerns," and that the "preclearance requirement represents an intrusion into areas of stateand local responsibility that is otherwise unfamiliar to our federal system."

The case involved an attempt by a small utility district in Travis County, Texas to seek relief from the preclearance provision. There had been no history of discrimination by the district itself. A court disagreed, ruling that only an entity that formally registers voters could apply for a so-called "bailout." The Supreme Court remanded the decision, concluding that a fair reading of the VRA's legislative intent did not mean to limit bail-out applications to those districts or municipal divisions that registered voters.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the act had run its course and the conditions that allow its imposition no longer exist.

A Justice Department spokesperson said the opinion was being reviewed.

Colbert King of the Washington Post - we told you so.

Say it with me:


The People Know What They Want - A PUBLIC OPTION IN HEALTHCARE

Hat tip: Prometheus 6:

From The NYTimes:
In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health
Published: June 20, 2009

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.

That paradox was skillfully exploited by opponents of the last failed attempt at overhauling the health system, during former President Bill Clinton’s first term. Sixteen years later, it underscores the tricky task facing lawmakers and President Obama as they try to address the health system’s substantial problems without igniting fears that people could lose what they like.

Across a number of questions, the poll detected substantial support for a greater government role in health care, a position generally identified with the Democratic Party. When asked which party was more likely to improve health care, only 18 percent of respondents said the Republicans, compared with 57 percent who picked the Democrats. Even one of four Republicans said the Democrats would do better.

The national telephone survey, which was conducted from June 12 to 16, found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers. Twenty percent said they were opposed.

Media Alert


The President and First Lady will be on Good Morning America this week.

The First Lady on Tuesday.
The President on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day from MOA to all the men who are doing what's right.

Dedication To Black Fathers
by Richard Rowe
The Leadership Circle
Baltimore, MD

To Black fathers who have tried to provide and protect.
Stay strong.
To Black fathers who continue to encourage and empower their children.
To Black fathers who love Black mothers.
Thank you.
To Black fathers who practice what they preach.
Set the example.
To Black fathers who reach out and reach back.
Continue to uplift.
To Black fathers who are honest and honorable.
Remember Martin King.
To Black fathers who are determined and disciplined.
Remember Malcolm.
To Black fathers who have not given up.
Remember Mandela.
To Black fathers who are courageous and demanding.
Remember Douglass.
To Black fathers who are systematic and work hard.
Remember DuBois.
For Black fathers who are self-determining.
Remember Booker T.
For Black fathers who have decided to win,
who have decided to fight back,
who don't make excuses and
who promote and practice the essence of
black fatherhood/manhood/brotherhood...

Let's continue to celebrate the power of our endurance.
Let's continue to choose the right path.
Let's remain strong and let's keep the faith.

thank you, djchefron

Daddy's Promise
Fatherhood Institute
Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood
Daughters of Men: Portraits of African-American Women and Their Fathers
Self-taught fathers: Absent a role model, these dads just try not to fail
Just Be There For Them": Perceptions of Fathering among Single, Low-income Men
'We Need Fathers To Step Up' by President Barack Obama

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Funky Arabs!

From the Racialicious Blog, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch.

The new “Funky Arabs” single by Jad Choueiri, the Lebanese singer known for crooning love ballads, has had over 150,000 views on YouTube in one month.

Choueiri spends four and a half minutes singing about how Arabs are not the evil figures typically portrayed in Western media. “We’re not what you see on CNN and the BBC. […] Ain’t no bombers, we’ve got the guts,” starts off the track. So far, so good. But then the main message of the video really unfolds, which, when translated from pop star-speak, can be summarized:

“Arabs aren’t terrorists! We’re just like you, the all-wonderful West. We too have sexy blond girls with silicone boobs dancing in next-to-nothing clothes in smoky nightclubs, gyrating their hips and filing their nails. Our guys are all cut, and walk around wearing bling. We love to smoke, drink, and take drugs. We party all night and we are oh-so-cool.’

A disclaimer at the beginning announces that everyone who participated in the music video is an Arab, just in case you can’t possibly believe that such beauty, sexiness, and botox addiction exists in our countries.

With its over-the-top scenes, such as Choueiri arriving at a nightclub red carpet on a camel, and women injecting themselves with botox in the bathroom, Choueiri’s music video seems to be the poster child for parody. The singer’s handlers insist he is quite serious—inasmuch as pop can be taken seriously.

The idea behind Funky Arabs is to show a different point of view of a segment of the Arabic society,” reads an email from Jad Choueiri’s management to me. “It doesn’t have the pretension to represent the real face of the Arabs like some media has suggested. In a pop song, which is meant to be entertaining and fun, it would be probably inappropriate to display the cultural and social achievements of the Arabs in different fields. So the side that was chosen to be represented is the side that has to do with partying and fashion which is adequate when you are a member of the pop culture community. Although it may sound superficial to some, it is supposed to make us look more appealing to the West by showing that we endorse that type of ‘culture.’ You cannot follow these trends and be a terrorist or a close minded person because they are a representation of a deeper matter, the one of tolerance and openness.

A vigorous discussion is on both at Racialicious and the Muslimah Media Watch which (I believe, rightly) excoriate Jad Choueiri for substituting one extreme negative stereotype (of the overly materialistic, shallow and oversexed Arab) for another (Arabs as religious, militant zealots who are terrorists). The most astute comments centered on how aping the most negative aspects of Western culture puts Arabs in a negative light as much as the Islamic terrorists. It's either a Bomber or a Bimbo.

'Wife Camp' for 10 year olds?

From Maccleans:
It’s ‘wife camp’ for 10-year-olds
Opinions are divided on a new summer camp for young girls

Two years ago, concert pianist Wonny Song attended a reception in Paris. The host’s 13-year-old daughter greeted guests at the door and made proper introductions. “She could speak to ambassadors, artists, business people—everyone. It really made an impression,” recalls Song, vice-director of the Lambda School of Music and Fine Arts in Montreal.

Inspired by this encounter, Song is starting a new summer program for girls. The goal of Make-over Camp is to instill poise, grace and confidence in girls between the ages of 10 and 14. For two weeks, they will learn to improve their posture, voice, table manners, conversation skills, wardrobe choices, makeup application, hostessing skills and music appreciation. “We see a lot of young ladies who can benefit from a makeover program,” said Angela Chan, director of Lambda and co-creator of the camp. “They need to develop their presence.” Marc McCreavy, an industrial designer and interior decorator, will teach the girls how to host events and decorate a table. “It’s important to learn about appropriate topics of conversation and appropriate attire,” he said.

“This reminds me of my days at French finishing school before heading off to Cambridge,” laughed Alison Silcoff, the leading force behind Montreal’s Daffodil Ball. “They taught me how to enter a room while closing an umbrella. We spent 90 minutes a day on deportment. Back then, a woman was, foremost, her husband’s wife. She was expected to host dinner parties for his business associates. But today, people realize that substance is more important than form. It’s more important to work on your career.”

From a feminist perspective, the optics are dreadful on something called Make-over Camp. “It’s a deficit name,” explained Kim Gordon, head of school at the private girls’ school Bishop Strachan in Toronto. “When our school opened [in 1867], we taught the daughters of Anglican clergy to become wives. We taught all the same things as the camp, like etiquette, grace and confidence. It’s still needed, but in the context of being successful. It’s infused in our curriculum, holistically, through general presentation skills. We see these skills as power tools for girls.”

“I’m sorry, but I cannot call a charm school feminist,” said Carrie Rentschler, assistant professor of communication studies at McGill. “Yes, young girls lack confidence, as we know from studies and books about the Ophelia complex, but the way to solve it isn’t to teach them how to be good hostesses!”

Yet some parents are desperate to help their daughters act in a more dignified manner. “Parents have asked us for this kind of class,” said Holly Potter, of Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s all-girls school in Montreal. “And our alumni are telling us to teach students table manners for business luncheons and events. We’re looking into starting an after-school program, but it will not involve walking with a book on their heads.” Sam Blyth, director of the co-ed Blyth Academy in Thornhill, Ont., shudders at the thought of a stand-alone class for poise and presence: “There are all kinds of things, outdoor things, kids that age could be doing in the summer. Let them participate, don’t just modulate their behaviour.”

The concept of makeover camp also polarizes parents. While full-time mom Heather Monaco eagerly enrolled her daughter because she’s “looking to raise a little lady,” some parents aren’t impressed. “It reinforces old, gendered expectations about ladylike behaviour,” says Tina Verma, a Toronto mother and TV producer. “Reverting to that 1950s model of repressed housewives is a way of responding to the crisis of the average household—fractured by divorce and busy schedules.”

Teaching niceties to girls alone makes sociologist Marc Lafrance irate. “It might as well be called Wife Camp! Is Betty Draper happy on Mad Men? No! She’s miserable! Things like makeover camp send the message that a girl’s value lies in being entertaining, ornamental, totally innocuous, accommodating and polite,” said the assistant professor of sociology at Concordia University. “I’m also concerned because it targets girls. Where are the boys?”

Lambda conducted a survey among its students to gauge interest in the camp. “There was zero per cent interest from the boys,” said Song. “Look, this is not a boot camp to reinforce the notion that girls should stay home. It’s not sexist. We would love to include boys, but what can we do?”

Political correctness makes the marketing tricky for anything that segregates the sexes. “When I went to the Parsons Mead finishing school for girls in England in the late 1970s, the school was already trying to hide the fact it was a finishing school,” recalled Carolina Gallo La Fl├Ęche, the corporate social engagement director at Ogilvy Canada and key organizer behind many of the museum galas in Montreal. “They called it empowering. The same thing happens today. Society has always been fearful of femininity and tries to control it.”

I'm going to get into trouble here. I agree with the camp. My only thing is that boys should be going to. I bring this up every once in awhile, when we're talkign about what we haven't passed onto the younger generation. Basic manners is one of those things, and they're talking about middle-class White folks, there are a whole lot of Black kids who need this, and much more. I don't see it as preparing them to be someone's 'wife'. I see it as them being taught what our parents taught us. If they want these young women to go far in their careers, there are social norms that they will have to know. Is this any different than the finishing school Berry Gordy made his Motown acts go to ' back in the day'?

I believe we should bring back Home Economics. You have children today who don't have a clue about many ' real world' things. When I think about knowing how to cook, it's just not some ' domestication tool', it's about knowing how to choose the foods that are right for you. Knowing how to cook enables you to be able to stretch your money even more if you can get inventive with what you can use. Not knowing how to cook makes you a hostage of the fast food industry, both on the streets, and in those boxes in the refridgeration aisles at the supermarkets - those things are chock full of preservatives, chemicals, and sodium. Knowing how to cook means that you can control what comes into YOUR home. A whole lot of these kids just don't know the basics; don't know anything about having a checking account, balancing a checking account; what to wear to a job interview, how to act in a job interview; how to write a letter. They don't have a clue. So, I'm not mad at these parents for realizing what their children don't have and trying to give it to them.

She Finally Has a Home ----Harvard

I dare you not to have tears after reading this:

From the Los Angeles Times:

She finally has a home: Harvard

Khadijah Williams, 18, overcomes a lifetime in shelters and on skid row.
By Esmeralda Bermudez
11:03 PM PDT, June 19, 2009

Khadijah Williams stepped into chemistry class and instantly tuned out the commotion.

She walked past students laughing, gossiping, napping and combing one another's hair. Past a cellphone blaring rap songs. And past a substitute teacher sitting in a near-daze.

Quietly, the 18-year-old settled into an empty table, flipped open her physics book and focused. Nothing mattered now except homework.

"No wonder you're going to Harvard," a girl teased her.

Around here, Khadijah is known as "Harvard girl," the "smart girl" and the girl with the contagious smile who landed at Jefferson High School only 18 months ago.

What students don't know is that she is also a homeless girl.

As long as she can remember, Khadijah has floated from shelters to motels to armories along the West Coast with her mother. She has attended 12 schools in 12 years; lived out of garbage bags among pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. Every morning, she upheld her dignity, making sure she didn't smell or look disheveled.

On the streets, she learned how to hunt for their next meal, plot the next bus route and help choose a secure place to sleep -- survival skills she applied with passion to her education.

Only a few mentors and Harvard officials know her background. She never wanted other students to know her secret -- not until her plane left for the East Coast hours after her Friday evening graduation.

"I was so proud of being smart I never wanted people to say, 'You got the easy way out because you're homeless,' " she said. "I never saw it as an excuse."

A drive to succeed

"I have felt the anger at having to catch up in school . . . being bullied because they knew I was poor, different, and read too much," she wrote in her college essays. "I knew that if I wanted to become a smart, successful scholar, I should talk to other smart people."

Khadijah was in third grade when she first realized the power of test scores, placing in the 99th percentile on a state exam. Her teachers marked the 9-year-old as gifted, a special category that Khadijah, even at that early age, vowed to keep.

"I still remember that exact number," Khadijah said. "It meant only 0.01 students tested better than I did."

In the years that followed, her mother, Chantwuan Williams, pulled her out of school eight more times. When shelters closed, money ran out or her mother didn't feel safe, they packed what little they carried and boarded buses to find housing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ventura, San Diego, San Bernardino and Orange County, staying for months, at most, in one place.

She finished only half of fourth grade, half of fifth and skipped sixth. Seventh grade was split between Los Angeles and San Diego. Eighth grade consisted of two weeks in San Bernardino.

At every stop, Khadijah pushed to keep herself in each school's gifted program. She read nutrition charts, newspapers and four to five books a month, anything to transport her mind away from the chaos and the sour smell.

At school, she was the outsider. At the shelter, she was often bullied. "You ain't college-bound," the pimps barked. "You live in skid row!"

In 10th grade, Khadijah realized that if she wanted to succeed, she couldn't do it alone. She began to reach out to organizations and mentors: the Upward Bound Program, Higher Edge L.A., Experience Berkeley and South Central Scholars; teachers, counselors and college alumni networks. They helped her enroll in summer community college classes, gave her access to computers and scholarship applications and taught her about networking.

When she enrolled in the fall of her junior year at Jefferson High School, she was determined to stay put, regardless of where her mother moved. Graduation was not far off and she needed strong college letters of recommendation from teachers who were familiar with her work.

This soon meant commuting by bus from an Orange County armory. She awoke at 4 a.m. and returned at 11 p.m., and kept her grade-point average at just below a 4.0 while participating in the Academic Decathlon, the debate team and leading the school's track and field team.

"That's when I was really stressed," she says, at once sighing and laughing.

Khadijah graduated Friday evening with high honors, fourth in her class. She was accepted to more than 20 universities nationwide, including Brown, Columbia, Amherst and Williams. She chose a full scholarship to Harvard and aspires to become an education attorney.

Early adversity

She tried her best; she never smoked or drank, never did drugs, and she never put us in abusive situations. However, that was the best she could do.

There are questions about her mother Khadijah is not ready to ask, answers she is not ready to hear. How did her mother end up on the streets? How come she never found a stable home for her daughters? Why wasn't there family to turn to, no father, no grandparents? And what will become of her little sister?

"I don't know. I don't know," is often her response. Ask personal questions about her mother and the fire in Khadijah's eyes turns dim. She knows when she arrives in Cambridge, Mass., she will need to seek counseling. So much of her life is a blur.

She knows she was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a 14-year-old mother. She thinks Chantwuan might have been ostracized from her family. She may have tried to attend school, but the stress of a baby proved too much. When Khadijah was a toddler, they moved to California. A few years later, Jeanine was born.

She has chosen not to criticize her mother. Instead Khadijah said she inspired her to learn. "She would tell me I had a gift, she would call me Oprah."

When her college applications were due in December, James and Patricia London of South Central Scholars invited Khadijah to their home in Rancho Palos Verdes to help her write her essays.

When they went to return her to skid row, her mother and sister were gone.

Khadijah accepted the Londons' invitation to spend the rest of her school year with them.

In their comfortable hilltop home, Khadijah learned a new set of lessons. The orthopedic doctor and nurse taught her table manners, money management and grooming.

She won't be the first homeless student to arrive at Harvard.

Julie Hilden, the Harvard interviewer who met with Khadijah to gauge whether she should be accepted, said it was clear from the start that Khadijah was a top candidate. But school officials had to make sure they could provide what she needed to make the transition successful.

They plan to connect her with faculty mentors and potentially, a host family to check in with every so often. She will also attend a Harvard summer program at Cornell to take college-prep courses.

"I strongly recommended her," Hilden said. "I told them, 'If you don't take her, you might be missing out on the next Michelle Obama. Don't make this mistake.' "

Seeking connections

"I think about how I can convince my peers about the value of education. . . . I have found that after all the teasing, these peers start to respect me . . . . I decided that I could be the one to uplift my peers . . . . My work is far reaching and never finished."

Khadijah expected to feel more connected after nearly two years at Jefferson, to make at least one good friend.

Students flock to the smart girl for help with homework and tests and class questions. She walks through campus tenderly waving and smiling and complimenting everyone she knows.

But when prom pictures arrive, they show her posing alone in a silky black and white dress. In her yearbook, hundreds of familiar faces look back, but the memories are missing.

"It's a nice, glossy, shiny, colorful yearbook," she said. "But it feels like they're all strangers. I'm nowhere in these pages."

In the last six months, she saw her mother only a few times and on Thursday tried to find her. Khadijah headed to a South-Central storage facility where they last stored their belongings.

She found Chantwuan sitting on a garbage bag full of clothes.

"Khadijah's here!" her sister Jeanine yells. Chantwuan's face lit up.

She explained the details of her graduation, the bus route to get there and gave her mother a prom picture. She said she would leave for summer school Friday.

There is no talk of coming home of for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Proudly, Khadijah modeled her hunter green graduation cap and gown and practiced switching the tassel from right to left as she would during the ceremony.

"Look at you," her mother says. "You're really going to Harvard, huh?"

"Yeah," she says, pausing. "I'm going to Harvard."

Hilarious Video: He's Barack Obama!

From JJP:

Introducing the newest black superhero. No, not the Green Lantern. Neither Storm, Shaft nor Superfly. And definitely not Huey from the Boondocks. No: it's Barack Obama!

Poor Barack. He's got a lot of expectations on him, tru dat. I wonder how badly that brother really wants to sneak behind the White House for a soothing cigarette. Don't do it -- the last thing we need is for SUPERBAMA to get lung cancer...

From Mashable yesterday (thanks djchefron for the original tip):
The head honchos at JibJab, brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, are debuting their latest creation in front of the President himself. The duo are showing off their soon-to-be viral video hit in front of Barack Obama at the 65th Annual Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner tonight.

He’s Barack Obama follows our new President as he tackles the challenges of the world at large in super hero form, suit and all. The video is set to a heavy metal interpretation — far from the banjo-style we’ve come to love — of the historic song, When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

The Spiridellis’ used their reputation as web video superstars to tap composer John Frizzell to direct the extra special composition. The rock star lineup includes Chris Shiflett and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck), and Jess Harnell.

The video has just hit the Web and was sent straightaway to us, so without further ado, here’s He’s Barack Obama:

President Obama's Weekly Address

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Obama's Health Care Reform Effort Is Headed for Defeat

Obama's strategy on this was flawed from day one.

#1. Obama allowed his Presidency to be hijacked by other issues & by leftist interest groups who have their own narrow agendas apart from the rest of the Country (It was Obama's fault for allowing and even playing into this hijacking). He took his eye off the ball...which should have been the economy. Gitmo, Torture, Gay Marriage, Don't ask don't tell.... and all sorts of other distractions took over his Presidency...and of course the media couldn't resist. By putting these divisive wedge issues at the top of the agenda...instead of keeping the focus on the economy (reminding Americans of who destroyed it) he provided the Republicans with the gift that they needed. This is partly due to the wingnuts on the left.... but it's also the fault of Obama for not dealing with his own constituency effectively. The Gay folks want everything their way...right away...and they should have never had that expectation to begin with. Same with the far left enviro/human rights nuts....who are focused almost exclusively on Gitmo (when there are so many other problems). Obama failed to communicate that to these people. Now they are all going nuts....and dragging down Obama and the Democrats in the process. This is something that I expected...but I didn't expect it to happen so soon and so dramatically. These failures have been huge.

#2. Obama should have never proposed massive healthcare reform in the middle of an economic crisis....when the nation is completely broke. It was one of the most stupid political moves that I have ever seen. Massive healthcare reform would be an uphill battle even in good economic times... but it's impossible during an economic crisis. There is no money to pay for all of these proposals...unless there is a tax increase...an option which is not on the table. You can't raise taxes in the middle of an economic downturn. But even in good times, it would be difficult to get a tax increase (but you could at least talk about one).

#3. Obama lost the PR battle (as I expected). The Republicans have the most dominant media apparatus in American history. I have been saying for years...that Progressives need to establish their own media if they want to have any hope of controlling their own message. Clearly the American people have bought into the Republican message, at least on this particular issue...and on Torture and so forth...the polls show that to be the case. The Republicans control the narrative on these issues. This is one thing that Republicans do well... controlling information... using their media dominance to their advantage and influencing public opinion. Of course their talking points don't have to be based on facts or common sense... they simply have to talk the loudest and repeat their point over and over again until Americans buy their arguments. And if you repeat a lie enough times... folks will eventually buy into the lie.

#4. Obama is trying to make reforms in a Country where Americans want to see changes...and want better healthcare, but they don't want to pay for it. Americans don't want to pay for anything. Republicans have successfully turned the Country into a tax-averse nation. Conservatives have successfully convinced Americans that investing in the Country is bad...that it is somehow unpatriotic to invest in our own nation and our own people. In other words...they have been taught that all taxes are bad....and that they should fight any efforts to raise them (even temporarily). This is why this Country is in the midst of a slow death and will continue to be so...with its crumbling schools, crumbling bridges and infrastructure, poor transportation (when compared to other developed nations), deteriorating health system and stagnant and now falling standard of living. Another reason for the decline is the nations incessant focus on foreign conflicts, instigating wars, and its support for a huge military industrial complex. Approximately 1/4 of this Country's annual budget goes towards defense or defense related costs, and that doesn't include the full costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans don't complain about that spending...because they are convinced that the nation needs to maintain its empire status in order to keep them safe. This is a nation that is more concerned with spending money to build more bombs than to build better lives. It is more concerned with investing in military hardware than investing in its own people. That's a recipe for disaster....and we are starting to see the results. America's priorities are still out of order. Until that is changed...the nation is doomed. (and this is a sentiment that comes from a man who believes in a strong military and a strong defense). But I firmly believe, that if we were to change our current aggressive, pro-war, Truman Doctrine based interventionist foreign policy... then we would be able to scale back military spending while still maintaining a robust defense. The U.S. could save in the neighborhood of $200 Billion to $400 Billion or more per year. That's half of your health reform money. The other half could come from creating efficiencies and raising revenues (modest taxes on income, tobacco, liquor, etc).

#5. It's not that Obama is trying to do too much. The problem is... he is trying to do too much at once. A better approach to this issue would have been to concentrate first on healing the economy. After a couple of years...once the economy had a chance to recover sufficiently...and after bringing more troops home (thus decreasing military expenditures and having more money available from that change) then he could have tackled healthcare. I never believed that he would accomplish this in his first term... let alone his first year. His strategy was far too ambitious... and his overly ambitious approach to problems is now catching up to him. But the bottom line here is that healthcare would have been an easier sell if there was more money available...and there was a better economic outlook. There would have been more options to deal with costs if the deficit and the total debt outlook were more manageable (which is what would have been the case in a few years).

#6. The American political system is thoroughly corrupt. Obama should have dealt with rooting out the systemic culture of corruption and should have fought for a campaign finance overhaul before actually trying to get serious healthcare or financial legislation passed. Obama failed to cut the cord between corporate America and politicians in Washington before he set out to do all of these changes. A recipe for disaster. Members of Congress (from both parties) are servants for corporate America... they act as lobbyists for private industry. And when I say cut the cord... I mean cut it completely. Obama should have been pushing for public financing of elections, the elimination of all Quid Pro Quo activities between politicians and private interests... but he failed to do so. This means that private corporations will continue to have strong influence over legislation and over members of Congress. In fact, corporations still write legislation (just like the Tobacco Bill from a week ago...which was written by the Tobacco companies). In this kind of environment, serious change really isn't possible.

Before real change can be accomplished, there must be fundamental changes to the underlying structure of business and politics in this Country...and changes to the way Congress operates. Without new rules of the road on that front... everything else is really a joke.

Like I have stated... if there is a healthcare bill... it will be watered down to something pointless by the time Obama signs it. And he will use what little PR system he has to celebrate the legislation as a victory... (IF anything passes at all).

The same is the case for the new financial policy proposals. That will be watered down too... because the banks and the financial firms don't want it... and they usually get what they want because they control much of Congress.