Sunday, January 31, 2010

Americans caught taking children out of Haiti


Americans caught taking children out of Haiti
Posted Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:41pm AEDT

Haitian police have arrested 10 United States citizens caught trying to take 33 children out of the earthquake-stricken country in a suspected illicit adoption scheme, authorities say.

Authorities fear traffickers could try to exploit the chaos and turmoil following Haiti's January 12 earthquake quake to engage in illegal adoptions.

But one of the suspects, who says she is leader of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children's Refuge (NCLR), denies they have done anything wrong.

The five men and five women are in custody in the capital Port-au-Prince after their arrests on Friday night.

They were detained at Malpasse, Haiti's main border crossing with the Dominican Republic, after Haitian police conducted a routine search of their vehicle.

Authorities said the Americans had no documents to prove they had cleared the adoption of the 33 children - aged 2 months to 12 years - and no papers showing the children were made orphans by the quake.

Yves Cristalin, Haiti's social affairs minister, says the incident is "totally illegal".

"No children can leave Haiti without proper authorisation and these people did not have that authorisation," he said.

But Laura Sillsby from the Idaho group NCLR says the group has done nothing wrong.

"We had permission from the Dominican Republic Government to bring the children to an orphanage that we have there," she said.

Now, if anyone knows about the history between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, this should have been the first red flag for you.
The stories are legendary about how the Dominicans try and prevent the people from Haiti from crossing over their border; so, does it seem plausible to you that they would be opening their arms to orphans from Haiti?

Doesn't smell right.

There were more than a few of us putting up flags at seeing all these folks grabbing for these supposedly orphaned children from Haiti. We thought they were moving way too fast; that there hadn't been a serious attempt to determine if they were TRULY orphans, with no family. The calls went up from several corners about slowing down this process. Maybe it's because I've watched too many L&O:SVU episodes. But, somethings in your GUT just look wrong when you see them; you don't exactly have the ' evidence', but you can feel it in your bones that something's ' not quite right' in this situation.

These arrests confirm everything I and others have been feeling in our guts. As others have pointed out, these folks don't even have this supposed proposed orphanage/charity work -UP ON A CHURCH WEBSITE! WHO provided the money for them to go down there? WHERE is the money coming from to transport these children? That should also make you think twice about it. [Edited] Something is wrong here, and not only should the government of Haiti prosecute to the fullest extent of the law - the UNITED STATES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT needs to be all up in this from THIS country's end.

Found this at W.E.E. See You: Here it is - they had a plan and here it is.

More information: Haiti Orphan Appeal: "I am no orphan" says 8 year old transportee

Check out this thread over at W.E.E. See You - folks have been doing more investigating. These folks are SUSPECT.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The President Speaks at a GOP Retreat -and totally schools them

Craig Hickman wrote the best reply about this:

From Craig Hickman:


I just watched the replay on C-Span (minus the vacuous commentary by the propagandists – liberal and conservative alike) and I’m reminded of an admission a straight white male writer wrote in a review of one of my performances in the Boston Globe circa 1995: he didn’t know whether or not he wanted to fuck me or kill me.

That’s exactly what I saw in all those white men in that room (and a few of the women). They are enamored of this man and it makes them weak. WEAK, I tell you.

Weak. That’s why they keep trying to say HE’S weak.

Projection of the highest order.

All of them came across as punks. Straight up punks. And when Obama was finally done slapping them into place, they looked like they wanted to suck his dick.

You see the way they look at him when it was all over? Eric Cantor may as well have turned around and bent over.

That’s the white man’s burden, right there. Why you think they had to castrate us when they tied us up to the fucking trees?

Because they’re insecure and weak as tissue paper, that’s why.

I don’t give a shit what he calls himself, the white man has NO IDEA how to handle an intelligent, wise, and yes, ARTICULATE Black man who PUTS HIM IN HIS PLACE.

Sorry for the explicit rant. Well. No I’m not. It needed to be said.

That’s all.

Tell it, Craig.

State of the Union Recap & Reactions

Voters React Positively to Obama's Message

Media Reaction & Commentary

Great speech, but Republicans will remain united in opposition to this President. His ability to govern or to do anything significant legislatively will be limited. The Republicans are hellbent on making sure that most of Obama's agenda is scuttled or delayed. A few token initiatives might get through this year, but most (if not all) of the big ticket legislative items will be blocked. Here is where Obama's agenda currently stands in my opinion.

The State of the Union failed to sway any moderate Republicans towards supporting Health Care Reform. Serious banking reform, campaign reform, stimulus Part II, and many other plans also seem very questionable. I think all three of the initiatives that I mentioned are either dead or will face significant opposition.

The Republican plan appears to be to make Obama look like a weak, lame duck President who won't be able to claim very many major legislative successes going into the mid-term elections. It's a crude & shrewd political game, but they are playing it because it works for them. They see the recent Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia and now Massachusetts as the reward for their obstructionism... so they have no reason to change their strategy. Their road to Republican victories in 2010 and 2012 is to create as much gridlock as possible. Their biggest threat is a Democrat in the White House who is actually able to make things happen and could point to substantive accomplishments that have a positive impact on the lives of everyday Americans. That is a situation that Republicans won't be able to allow.

One way out of this madness would be to change the rules on cloture and eliminating the magic number of 60. The problem with that approach is that it would take a 2/3 majority of the Senate to approve such a change. So unfortunately, that's just not going to happen.

In the meantime, the gridlock remains. All of the Country's big problems (that require fundamental sweeping change) will remain. The United States of America will continue its slow, steady decline. Watching this Country is like watching a house burn down in slow motion. The impact of the gridlock is palpable.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chris Matthews forgot the President was ' BLACK' for an hour

Tweety attempts to 'explain'

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Howard Zinn has died at the age of 89

From The Boston Globe:
Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87
January 27, 2010 05:40 PM
By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

"His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. "When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide."

For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. Dr. Zinn's best-known book, "A People's History of the United States" (1980), had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and the union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."

Certainly, it was a recipe for rancor between Dr. Zinn and Silber. Dr. Zinn twice helped lead faculty votes to oust the BU president, who in turn once accused Dr. Zinn of arson (a charge he quickly retracted) and cited him as a prime example of teachers "who poison the well of academe."

Dr. Zinn was a cochairman of the strike committee when BU professors walked out in 1979. After the strike was settled, he and four colleagues were charged with violating their contract when they refused to cross a picket line of striking secretaries. The charges against "the BU Five" were soon dropped, however.

Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public schools and worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard before joining the Army Air Force during World War II. Serving as a bombardier in the Eighth Air Force, he won the Air Medal and attained the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war, Dr. Zinn worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University as a 27-year-old freshman on the GI Bill. Professor Zinn, who had married Roslyn Shechter in 1944, worked nights in a warehouse loading trucks to support his studies. He received his bachelor's degree from NYU, followed by master's and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.

Dr. Zinn was an instructor at Upsala College and lecturer at Brooklyn College before joining the faculty of Spelman College in Atlanta, in 1956. He served at the historically black women's institution as chairman of the history department. Among his students were the novelist Alice Walker, who called him "the best teacher I ever had," and Marian Wright Edelman, future head of the Children's Defense Fund.

Rest of obituary at link above.

RIP, Dr. Zinn.

I believe everyone should read "A People's History of the United States".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's Agenda Faces New Realities

Since the Spring of 09, I have been pointing out that one of Obama's biggest failures was that he took his eye off the ball (the economy) and drifted into all sorts of other areas that probably wouldn't be good for his Presidency. We now know even more definitively that this has turned out to be the case. Not that Health Care wasn't a laudable goal.... I just didn't think that it was very realistic, especially in the middle of what historians may end up calling a mild depression. At a time when everyone is pulling back on their spending and conscious of every wasn't a great idea to ask for a huge expenditure. In addition to that problem, there was the issue of a stimulus package with a huge price tag that most Americans could see was falling flat. Hard to go back to voters after that to ask for more money.

Health Care would have been a hard sell, even in the best economic conditions. The same corrupt system would have fought to kill it, no matter what. But pushing Health Care reform in the middle of an economic crisis didn't help.

I wrote back in the Spring/Summer of 09 that more attention should have been given to job creation, particularly as part of the stimulus legislation. But Obama got bogged down on Health Care, and allowed all sorts of other distractions.

Now Obama is paying the political price for not keeping his eye on the ball (the economy and jobs) over the past year. He almost squandered 2009. Some suggest that he wasted the past year. I won't go that far. But he certainly got bogged down dealing with Health Care non-reform and the Republicans. Now I hope that he understands that Republicans are obstructionists. They wanted to make his first year so difficult that he wouldn't have much to show for his first year in office...and would be seen as faltering leading into the mid-terms. It's amazing how Republicans were the primary culprits in creating the crisis, yet they successfully put the problem in the laps of President Obama and the Democrats and made them the bad guys in the eyes of voters. (And the Dems didn't challenge that nearly as hard as they should have). Unbelievable.

A year later... Obama suddenly wants to rediscover the pulse (and the concerns) of the voters. Voters are concerned about the same thing that they were concerned about in September of 2008.. the economy. It hasn't changed. But Obama may be a year too late. It should not have taken the election of Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat to wake anyone up.

Here is where Obama's agenda stands right now in my view: Initiatives that will or won't become policy

America's Decline Continues (it's like watching a Horror Movie, except you are part of the show).

Cap & Trade/Climate Legislation/Copenhagen promises Dead on Arrival

Meaningful Campaign Finance Limits to Save What Few Remnants of Democracy We Have Left Nope

Immigration Reform Dead on Arrival

Meaningful Campaign Finance Limits to Save What Few Remnants of Democracy We Have Left Nope

Meaningful Health Care Reform Nope

• Financial Reform -- Maybe

Protecting the Least of These Nope

• Creating Jobs -- Maybe ✔ (But more on Republican Terms...which may end up limiting success. They will attempt to water down anything President Obama proposes)

Energy Independence Nope. Special Interests (oil companies) have too much to lose.

Stabilizing Afghanistan and Staying on track in Iraq Unlikely. Iraqi's need their own military hardware. Until they receive it, they will be dependent on the U.S. They have yet to prove that they can operate as a fully independent force. The insurgency has continued, although with less intensity.

In Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to chase ghosts. Ultimately, you can't fight and defeat an ideology with troops, bombs and tanks. The U.S. has to pour more resources into creating jobs/an economy, combating poppy farming and providing farmers with good paying alternatives, and training Afghans.

Green Jobs Nope (we needed a more aggressive FDR type of an approach to job creation as part of stimulus)

Net Neutrality This will depend on how policy is made. Right now, I will say it's unlikely.

Fairness Doctrine Nope. This is not a stated goal of the Obama Administration but it should be. If he tried to enact it, Republicans would likely try to block it in the U.S. Senate.

A Second Stimulus Spending bill Dead on Arrival.

Spending Freeze/Tackling Deficit in any meaningful way Maybe. But unlikely to be effective. Won't save much money. Too many obligations with two wars, and a crisis in Haiti (not to mention any other crisis' that we don't know about yet).

Big Bank Tax Nope. Unlikely to pass Senate as currently proposed.

• Student Loan Relief -- Maybe(Love this proposal...what took so long Mr. President?)

Rebuilding Electric Grid Nope. The money that was going to be used for this purposal was to come from the Cap & Trade plan, and Cap & Trade is Dead on Arrival.

Modernizing Train Travel...building new track for high speed rail, etc. Nope.


This doesn't leave Obama with much of an agenda at all. He should focus on smaller goals...and should choose battles that are winnable IMO. He has to also (more important that anything) run a more effective and aggressive PR campaign. If he continues to lose the information war.... allowing Republicans to control the megaphone and the message like they have been... his Presidency will continue to suffer, no matter how many Democratic Party Karl Rove's he reaches out to for help. No one will be able to salvage his Presidency in that scenario.

Teddy Pendergrass 1950-2010

Tribute Video

There are so many great tributes, that it made no sense to do my own...especially considering that my computer isn't set up with all of my music. It would have taken me hours.

My fellow music guru's already covered most of what I was going to do.

When it comes to Pendergrass... I have a few favorites, but his signature song for me is "Wake Up, Everybody". "Somebody Told Me" isn't far behind. I like the mushy stuff too.... but being a perpetually single man, I never had the opportunity or need to put those songs into use. But the music behind the words.... that signature Philly sound... was, and continues to be, superb. Timeless. Gamble and Huff w/ the help of the great MFSB had such a unique sound that they were able to separate themselves quite a bit from Stax & Motown. All three had great backing bands btw, with the MG's in Memphis and the Funk Brothers in Detroit...but their styles were completely different.

More Tributes

From T. Grundy (Music lover and DJ extraordinaire...and reader of this blog).

From Soulful

Podcaster ArtLuv

Funky16corners blog

You can’t Hide From Yourself

Where Did All The Lovin’ Go

Hear an interview from a few years ago


Article from Rolling Stone

Republican Lt. Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Equates Help for Poor People to Feeding Stray Animals

Just another day at the office for Republicans.

Meet Andre Bauer, the latest Republican jackass to have a Freudian slip of the tongue. Bauer is the current Lt. Gov. of South Carolina (yes... That South Carolina) and is in the process of running for the Governorship. It seems as if South Carolina has a tag team trio of idiots - Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson, and Andre Bauer. Some believe that Bauer could have other ambitions, and may be interested in running for President or VP in 2012.

From the AP

At a town hall meeting Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Sanford is term-limited, said:

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that." Read full report

Bauer tried to explain himself to Politico, but i'm having a hard time buying any of it. Maybe it's just me, but I decoded his comments as not only an attack on the poor, but as an attack (in a roundabout way) on minorities. He's in a State that's roughly 1/3 Black and where racial divisions are still very evident. So it's not as if these were innocent comments in a vacuum....with no context. I also found it interesting that he made the comments with the crisis in Haiti as a backdrop - one of the largest relief efforts certainly in the history of North America. Just a coincidence that he made these comments with Haiti in the news all day and night? Maybe so. But it's a strange coincidence. I'm sure he was focusing on local politics and local issues in South Carolina, with his eye on the Governors office.

But even if he was referring to the situation in his State or in the lower 48, doesn't he know that a growing number of his Conservative voters now fall into the "poor" or "needy" category? Many were plunged into "poor" status at the hands of his fellow Republicans (Oh how soon they forget in Massachusetts). Doesn't he have a clue that an increasing number of White Suburbanites...many of whom are Republican... are dealing with hunger and are turning to food banks and public assistance? (Hear the NPR Hunger Series). Hell, I work with some of these folks everyday. The Republicans could kill their children, and they would still lean Republican. There isn't a damn thing that I or anyone else could do to get them to like Obama.

It boggles the mind to know that these are the kinds of politicians (Wilson, Bachmann, Palin, Bauer, etc) who are Representing the Republican Party and who American voters feel comfortable with.

Where are all of the critics who tried to paint Obama as elitist? Will they do the same for Republicans? Probably not. But Republicans will continue to be credited for being more in-tune with the "little guy" or the average struggling American (a lie of course).

Writer and Veteran Gordon Duff had an interesting take on Bauer's comments - see here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

British Boy Raises $160,000 for Haiti

hat tip- W.E.E. See You


Charlie Simpson, 7-Year-Old, Raises $160,000 For Haiti

LONDON — A young British schoolboy has raised nearly 100,000 pounds ($160,000) for Haiti's relief effort.

Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson was so upset by the devastating images of Haiti's deadly earthquake that he asked his mother if she could help him set up a sponsored bicycle ride around his local park in west London.

Charlie originally hoped to raise 500 pounds ($800) for UNICEF's Haiti appeal with Sunday's 5-mile (8-kilometer) bike ride, but his Internet page was flooded with donations.

He raised nearly 50,000 pounds in a single day and money is still flooding in after Charlie's story was splashed on the front page of Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper Monday.

His mother Leonora Simpson says she can't believe the public response.

Here is a link to his UNICEF page.


just WOW.

To Make You Laugh

hat tip- The Daily Dish

The Failure Of The Left

The disaster in Massachusetts whereby a Republican, Scott Brown, won Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat is a story entirely about both the failure of congressional Democrats to understand how to govern with the majority and a weakness of activists on the Left.

First, congressional Democrats should have heeded Barack Obama's campaign slogan to change the way Washington works. Even though the American public gave congressional Democrats commanding majorities in successive elections does not mean people do not want comity in the legislative process. In fact, they were quite sick of Bush, Rove and Cheney's bullying ways and by taking Republicans down a peg were actually sending a message that they wanted both different polices and a different way of achieving public policy: honest and transparent negotiating between both sides. Americans want and have always wanted consensus but Democratic leaders seem not to know this.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

This Pretty Much Sums It Up

A commentator (Kall) at Matt Taibbi's blog made a passionate and excellent comment that perfectly crystallizes the frustration that many Progressives and liberals are feeling towards the Democratic Party. The comment is making its rounds in the blogosphere and I thought I'd help in spreading the word.

The idiot pundits proclaiming this as a protest to Obama’s “overreach” are just morons and deserve to be ignored by anyone with half a brain. In a just world, bankers would wipe out their savings, after which they’d be fired and have to stand in today’s unemployment lines.

The lesson Obama should take from this is that people are not fooled by Obama throwing out platitudes like “I didn’t run for President to please fat-cat bankers” and then appointing people like Tim Geithner of Goldman Sachs to Treasury, keeping Ben Bernanke around, and having people who caused the economic pain for so many people like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as his economic advisors. And are not fooled when he does nothing but mouth platitudes, or makes a scene of phoning a bank to tell them not to buy a plane, as the largest round of banking bonuses is handed out the year after they did the financial equivalent of blowing up the world. And are not fooled when he gives a speech to Wall Street politely requesting them not to be so greedy, and that they don’t need to wait for him to enact legislation to change their behavior. And are not fooled when all the popular elements of reform like a public insurance option are gutted out of the health care reform bill in order to “pass something” and call it a win, and then lie that you “never campaigned on a public option” (for someone who ran such a new-media campaign, it’s pretty brazen to act like in 2010, people don’t have the YouTubes!).

Health care reform with the public insurance option was popular with 60% of people – the health insurance industry giveaway without it is popular with about 30% of people. And people are not fooled when he generally doesn’t enact anything meaningful because he is so comfortable in his bubble and so weak and “above the fray” of the den of rats that is Congress that he bows and scrapes to the 60th corrupt, brainless, and paid-for Senator like Ben Nelson or Joe fucking Lieberman for absolutely anything and everything.

I think Obama and his circle really believed that if he just talked the talk, and acted more empathetic in his photo-ops, no one would notice they were carrying on with the contempt Bush and Republicans had for the general public. But people did notice, and people who they counted on before to volunteer and vote for them because “they have no one else to vote for” are sick and tired of playing that game – not seeing a meaningful difference between the parties, they didn’t play the game this time and either sat out or expressed their disgust.

Whether he will take that lesson remains to be seen. He seems incredibly tone-deaf to me, and the corporate donors to the Democratic Party have no interest in that message getting through. Whether he’ll even feel the inclination to act on that lesson if it actually does sink in is also highly questionable.

I came of voting age just a little before 2000, and could never really understand why people would “waste” a vote on someone like Nader. And although I was a supporter of Kucinich in 2004, once he was out, favoring Kerry made sense to me. But I’d never really had a real opportunity to see the modern Democratic Party running things in my adult lifetime.

Now I understand why people vote third-party. When the country is teetering on the brink and can’t get by on non-solutions anymore, and avoiding failed-state status actually depends on starting to fix the problems rather than just pretending it’s trying, and EVEN THEN the Democratic Party can only respond by offering trillions to Wall Street and legally requiring people who can’t afford health insurance to buy it from private, oligopolistic, profit-maximizing companies, all because of industry’s hold on Congress… then there’s nothing else you can do. In such a sick system, all you have left is your integrity as the country goes to hell, and I understand with crystal clarity why people vote third-party.

I write for another blog in additon to MOA, Third Party and Independent Daily. One of the reasons I do so is because I feel there is a growing potential audience and constituency of people angry and frustrated by the two major parties and are looking for solid, political alternatives.

Third parties and independents operate at a severe disadvantage in the American political system. If people like the commentator I quoted above want political alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans they have to really want it enough to work for it and make it happen.

The good news: there are people and activists who have been working the independent and third party beat for years -- even decades. The angry commentator and those who share her anger should seek out and familiarize themselves with this marginalized sector of American politics and work to make it stronger and more viable. That's the only way we're gonna get alternatives to the status quo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reaction to Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Money in Campaigns

Reaction to yesterday's Supreme Court Decision in case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The other reactions let me know that I wasn't the only one blown away.

Listen to NPR reports here and here.

Congressman Grayson

Howard Fineman

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment

Time to do what you can do for healthcare

Which is CALL YOUR CONGRESSMAN and Senators.
Call your Congressman and tell him/her to vote for the Senate Bill.


from Balloon Juice:

Phone your Representative. It feels better than yelling at pseudonyms on an internetblog.

Here is how you do it.

(1) Use a phone. Email has nigh on zero impact. Trust me on this. Letter mail gets read, but you don’t have time. Reach the House switchboard at (202) 224-3121 .

(2) Remember, this person works for you. You pay his or her salary and you voted for them. You’re the boss here, or at least one of them, and it’s they who should worry about what you think of them.

(3) Identify your name and the town or neighborhood where you live zip code. If you are not a constituent don’t bother. Since you guys never listen to me, at least google a zip code in the appropriate district before you call.

(4) State the issue. This is easy: pass the Senate bill or the party gets it. We can (and certainly will) fix the shortcomings later.

(5) How strongly do you feel? Don’t apologize about feeling passionate or pissed off. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

(6) What are you going to do about it? (Updated from earlier) This part is not that relevant when they’re getting a ton of calls. Every teabagger threatens the end of the world, so they get pretty jaded about it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The President and First Lady Host A Reception for a White House Mentoring Program

U.S. Supreme Court Embraces Corruption

Court rules 5-4 to remove certain corporate spending limits for campaigns.

From the Washington Post:

Thursday, January 21, 2010; 10:18 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed.

"The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.
However, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.
The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

The case also does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.

It's interesting (and fitting in a way) that this ruling would come just as Health Care Non-Reform is perhaps taking its last breaths, after months of being changed, watered down at every turn, and dismantled by the powerful insurance lobby which threw millions of dollars into all sorts of campaigns to kill it. Even if some sort of Health Care bill passes...the insurance industry has already used its power (and the members of Congress that it owns) to shape the legislation in a way that would favor big insurance companies. So they had all bases covered either way.

The Supreme Court move will allow the insurance companies & other corporate interests to reward the members of Congress that they already own...and to (literally) buy more politicians. It's like a D.C. meets Nevada kind of thing. It makes Prostitution legal in the U.S. Congress... & turns the Capitol into a legal brothel.

Read the full decision here, or in window below.

Republican Spokesman & Tea Party Hero Arrested

A Republican Spokesman and Tea Party hero has been arrested in Oklahoma on several felony charges, including child rape, according to the AP. Stolen military weaponry found in home. But we won't see any news conferences or media frenzies about how we "dodged a bullet" on this one...

Funny how big media decides who and what Americans worry about.

Additional report

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Picture of the Year for Year 1 of the Obama Administration

There are some pictures worth 1,000 words. This one exceeds it by far.

Some other nominees:

Celebrating First Lady Michelle Obama

I created a slideshow in celebration of our First Lady, Michelle Robinson Obama.

At first, I was just going to do this slideshow, but in going through the year's worth of pictures of First Lady Michelle Obama, I couldn't help finding myself smiling, picture after picture. There was no hiding my respect and admiration for the woman who would become the first Black First Lady of the United States.

I watched 'Hater' Robin Givhan on Washington Watch speak of the 'disappointment' in the First Lady when she proclaimed that she would be the 'MOM-IN-CHIEF'. To that, I will respond as I did in November 2008:

The Inauguration of Barack Obama - 1 Year Anniversary

Today is the 1st Anniversary of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama Sworn in as the 44th President of the United States & The New President's Inaugural Address

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Insight as to why Wyclef's charity was attacked.

Wyclef had a news conference defending his humanitarian efforts in his home country. I'm clear about why I believe he has been attacked: he raised one million dollars in a DAY, through $5 texts. ...doesn't that explain it to you?

Due to problems for people with the video, I took out the video,
and you can follow the link.

from poster zizi:

by zizi2:
Wyclef Jean just learned a big lesson about the hypocrisies entrenched in the big club of the lucrative world of American and global humanitarian industry. I know, my spouse works for the United Nations, and tells me I would not believe that the organization and the donors just see this new tragedy like all the previous ones - a business opportunity from which money is to be made and circulated, the usual suspects fat-salaried, missions extended over long-periods. The problems on the ground are not intended to be solved in ways that empower the indigenous people. "Aid" is intended to create a dependency syndrome that ensures the prolonged footprint of the humanitarian industry in the disaster zone. Cold and cynical, but that is what I learned.

The kneecapping being done on Wyclef is not so much because of the eye-popping amounts of money he is raising, although that too is a factor. It is because he is challenging the paradigm of the humanitarian industry. He is seeking to EMPOWER the victims. He wants to move the victims to safe locations where they can begin to rebuild communities with the assistance of global donors. He wants the victims taking charge. His face being front and center is jarring to the default image we usually see of outstretched black and brown hands during disasters around the world being handed charity from Western and European hands. The status quo cannot have anyone challenge their paradigm of creating permanent dependency. Can't. Have. That!

So here we are. Instead of Yele Haiti getting on with the work of saving lives and sowing the seeds to rebuild the lives of Wyclef Jean's Haitian compatriots, Wyclef now has to appear in the court of trumped up suspicions to answer questions about the technicalities of running a non-profit organization. I can assure you that these are technical problems that can be found with just about every single small-scale non-profit organizations. Heck the Red Cross itself ran into problems as well as a PR nightmare about excessive executive compensation barely a few years ago. But they don't get tarnished in one fell swoop.

To Wyclef Jean's accusers, it is not the FACTS of the issue that matter to them it is about sowing seeds of suspicion. Wyclef is Haitian? he must be corrupt? Can you trust him with your hard earned dollars? It was enough to get Yele Haiti knocked off the list that initially appeared in all the MSM about where people could send their money. This gotcha means the White House and State Department cannot be seen to work with Yele Haiti. Now we have only the Red Cross and Unicef being trumpeted. The fix is in. Sad to watch really. An old but good book on the humanitarian industry's shenanigans is Barbara Harrell-Bond's _Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees_ (1986), as well as her more recent _Rights in Exile: Janus-Faced Humanitarianism_ (2005, with Guglielmo Verdirame).

Remember Tiger donated 3 MILLION to Wyclef's charity; Wyclef raised ONE MILLION IN ONE DAY through $5 cellphone texts....

follow the dots, folks.

As Trumystique says, it's a "Development Industrial Complex", and Wyclef dared to challenge it in the name of Black self-determination.

Brown vs. Coakley: Gullible Voters & Phony Populism

Another Example of America's Political Paralysis & Decline

Maybe this is just a bad dream. Later today, voters in Massachusetts will decide who will fill Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. Democrats find themselves desperately fighting to hold on to a Senate seat that they have held for 4 decades in a State that leans Democratic. Worst still is the fact that the Republican opponent, Scott Brown, is a Tea partier, and former nude model. Really? This is who they have been frantically attempting to fight off over the past few weeks? SNL could get enough material from this to run an entire series of skits. This would be hilarious if it were not so pathetically sad.

Voters in Massachusetts and beyond now seem ready and eager to turn back the clock and give their support to the same political party that destroyed the U.S. economy just over a year ago, and nearly gave us the collapse of the financial system and the end of America as we know it. Yet folks want more of the GOP. I guess they want to give Republicans a chance to finish the job (and finish us off as a Nation). We aren't even out of the woods from the last crisis they gave us, and Americans already have a taste for more. The Republicans had 10 years (counting the last 2 years of Clinton’s lame duck period in office), and they thoroughly wrecked the Country. They somehow believe that the a Democrat, who happens to be the first Black/biracial President, should be able to magically turn things around in less than a year. President Obama hasn’t even been given a full year yet, and brain dead voters already want to purge him and his Party. Repairing the damage of the last 10 years would take at least 2 full terms. This is yet another indication that we are unfortunately in a backwards, center-right Country…an ignorant backwards center-right Country.

Whenever these situations arise, I lose more faith in the American system and in the American people. I have no faith in the American voter. None! Yes, the Democrats put forth a weak, mediocre candidate (unfortunately you have to have charisma in the political game…it’s more important than substance), and they ran a lousy campaign, as they so often do. But that’s not the only factor here. In this race, the right wing media propaganda machine decimated the Democrats, despite the DNC spending tons of money on ads. Once again, Democrats have been outfoxed. They have done a poor PR job and are paying the consequences. This has become the norm for Democrats.

But this race says more about the fickle electorate, and provides insight into America’s future. For me, it represents further confirmation of Americas continued decline. With a government that can no longer function or function effectively- essentially paralyzed- the U.S. will continue to be stuck in a sort of political malaise for the foreseeable future. That's basically what we have right now... a government that is unable to work effectively. Gridlock is the new normal. That doesn’t bode well for the Country. Republicans - who vote as a block/seldom breaking ranks- understand that with 41 votes in the Senate, they will be able to stop President Obama’s agenda. They will block every piece of major legislation that Obama pushes. So essentially, Obama has reached a sort of weakened lame duck status already, after just one year as President. Meanwhile, as the nation is stuck in its political paralysis, or God forbid as the clock is turned back, the rest of the developed world and even the developing world, will be on the move, leaving the U.S. behind.

Part of what’s behind Americas decline is an unengaged and often uninformed electorate. Voters have become irrational. There have always been these irrational voters, but there seems to be more of them now, and this band of idiots gets to make decisions for the rest of us….impacting real lives. In many cases it no longer matters which candidate has the best ideas, has the best track record, the intelligence, the vision, or has a platform that will benefit the average citizen. None of that matters anymore. Why? Because an uninformed or misguided electorate can’t make heads or tails of what’s really happening. They aren’t motivated by facts, or actual policy positions. Instead they are fueled by blind anger, propaganda, fear and Party identity....more than anything else. In fact, political candidates, especially Republicans, have figured this out over the last few years and rarely run on platforms, facts, or policy positions. This is boring stuff and voters rarely react to it in any positive way. This is largely because they aren’t able or willing to invest the time in learning the issues, and separating the facts from the propaganda. It's too much work.

Republicans are tapping into the general sense of misguided as it may be...and they are taking advantage of the short memories or just plain ignorance of voters. Instead of running intense, fact-based/issues-based campaigns politicians in big elections have resorted to dumping millions of dollars into private PR firms for ads to manipulate voters, often with misleading propaganda. They also spread fear and misinformation via news networks and talk radio and in print. And they do this because this is what the lazy American voter responds to. And yes, I see this much more often on the Conservative side, although so-called Progressives engage in some of the same nonsense- is notorious for these kinds of tactics.

Culture is also playing a part here… the fact that we have a Black/biracial President is having an impact on voter behavior, even when Obama himself isn’t on the ballot. Yes, race matters. It’s all about stopping his agenda. And as I mentioned earlier, there doesn’t seem to be the same willingness to allow this President to govern for a reasonable period of time, as has been afforded other Presidents (white Presidents) throughout history. If Obama were white, he would be catching some of the same Hell, but the opposition to him wouldn’t be nearly as intense and more Americans would be fighting off any Republican attempts to freeze his agenda and paralyze the Country. I think a White Democrat would catch more of a break from white independent voters at this point. But as I mentioned in mid 2009, voters are blaming Obama for an economy that he didn't ruin. It's someone else's mess.

Essentially, I am calling out the American voter. I hate to say it, but collectively, American voters are boneheads. The nation is now beginning to deal with the consequences of a mediocre, misguided, and in some cases, a failed public education system (where critical thinking isn’t taught aggressively enough…nor is civics/government, history, world politics, etc). And I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck with energy independence, meaningful healthcare reform, a sensible foreign policy, reigning in corporate abuses, fixing the financial system, labor rights, consumer protection, investing in education/children, investing in the American people, a meaningful social safety net that preserves the dignity of every American, fixing the infrastructure of the Country, saving the economy long-term, creating green jobs, advances in science and technology, keeping America at the forefront, protecting the least of these, etc. None of this is going to happen- at least not in any meaningful way in our lifetimes…not if the Country stays on the same course…. Not without a fundamental shift in American thinking.

Even if Martha Coakley squeaks by in a nailbiter, the Republicans could rightfully still claim victory...under the circumstances. The message would be sent loud and clear... not necessarily that Americans are against wholesome Progressive bread and butter values... but that they have fallen for the Rights propaganda...and that Democrats have a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing their profound weaknesses & disadvantages in media and PR. I personally don't think they can fix it by November.... particularly when they are clueless to the fact that this is a big part of the problem.

I still believe... even in a Centrist... or center-right Country, that if the playing field were fair and level, most Americans would embrace core Progressive values. One of Obama's problems is that he has allowed his agenda to be hijacked by all sorts of side issues and Liberal causes, like Gay "marriage", which has scared off some independent voters. I personally support the idea of civil unions...and robust legal protections but the real bottom line is... this issue is not among the top 10 or even 15 issues that are the most pressing for me. I don't have a horse in that race.

President Obama is also attempting to tackle the wrong issues at the wrong time.... instead of pushing initiatives that he can get through, even with a few drops of bipartisan support... creating a list of successes that he could build on. Instead, he is considering pushing major immigration reform as his next big initiative...something that is extremely dead on arrival. Again, an example of bad counsel from his advisers.... to push the wrong initiative at the wrong time. He will expend a lot of political capital on an initiative that, in the end, won't bear much fruit.

My advice to thinking Americans…. Is become as self-reliant as possible. Be ready for the next crisis...the next bubble (and yes, there will be more). You can’t count on a functioning, effective government anymore to look out for you. Haiti could visit the U.S. anytime, anywhere. Yet, there is an anti-collectivism running rampant throughout the Country that says, you're on your own (unless you are on Wall Street or you're rich and that case, you'll be taken care of).

I still don't want to believe that Americans are this gullible and fickle.

Give To Haiti Relief

Donate what you can through any of the following: Some Among the Best Rated


Habitat for Humanity


Doctors Without Borders

Mercy Corps

Red Cross

Direct Relief International

World Food Program


International Rescue Committee

Save The Children

Operation USA

To Check Quality or Legitimacy of a Major Relief Charity You Can Visit the Following Websites:

Charity Navigator

BBB Charity Reviews

Charity Watch (American Institute of Philanthropy's Top Rated List)

A Look At Obama & Race After Year One

Hear an interesting discussion from NPR's On Point, on the impact of Obama's Presidency after his first year in office.

Personally, I never understood America's fixation with the idea that Obama would magically solve the problem of race in this Country. I have been especially amused by Blacks who believed that Obama would be "The Black President" instead of The President of the United States. In other words, there are some Blacks who feel that they should have access to the Presidents direct phone line and should get all sorts of special treatment. Unbelievable!

While I do agree that Obama has not been aggressive enough on the economy more generally....and that he could do more for urban communities, I completely understand that there is no way in Hell that he could be (or should be) simply "The Black President"...or the President for Black America. Yet there are Blacks who somehow believe that this should be the case... that he should or even could magically solve all of the problems faced by Black Americans (even when most of the big issues can't be solved by government).

The problem of race in America did not magically disappear after Obama's inauguration. It has been fascinating to see how Americans are still coming to terms with Obama's Presidency.

Olbermann's Reaction to Republican Spokesman & Leader Rush Limbaugh and the Senile Pat Robertson

Eugene Robinson's response was classic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti, Bush, Obama And The CBC

Even George W. Bush recognizes that Obama's response to the Haiti earthquake isn't political.

However, as I write in my weekly column for The Loop, there is one group that has been looking out for Haiti for a long time...

The travesty in Haiti and the ill-conceived, thoughtless comments by both Rush Limbaugh and the Rev. Pat Robertson has actually served to ignite serious questions about Haiti and the nature of American foreign policy. No, Haitian's did not make a pact with the Devil to rid themselves of the French. Neither is Obama using the Haitian earthquake to score political points as Rush foolishly points out. George W. Bush did not use the 2004 tsunami for political points and neither is Obama.

Unfortunately, after the media moves on to the next cycle and Americans return their attention to American Idol, members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be among the few still looking after Haiti's long-term interest.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

President Obama Visits Vermont Avenue Baptist Church for MLK Day

Obama Haiti

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Obama's Remarks today:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Praise be to God. Let me begin by thanking the entire Vermont Avenue Baptist Church family for welcoming our family here today. It feels like a family. Thank you for making us feel that way. (Applause.) To Pastor Wheeler, first lady Wheeler, thank you so much for welcoming us here today. Congratulations on Jordan Denice -- aka Cornelia. (Laughter.)

Michelle and I have been blessed with a new nephew this year as well -- Austin Lucas Robinson. (Applause.) So maybe at the appropriate time we can make introductions. (Laughter.) Now, if Jordan's father is like me, then that will be in about 30 years. (Laughter.) That is a great blessing.

Michelle and Malia and Sasha and I are thrilled to be here today. And I know that sometimes you have to go through a little fuss to have me as a guest speaker. (Laughter.) So let me apologize in advance for all the fuss.

We gather here, on a Sabbath, during a time of profound difficulty for our nation and for our world. In such a time, it soothes the soul to seek out the Divine in a spirit of prayer; to seek solace among a community of believers. But we are not here just to ask the Lord for His blessing. We aren't here just to interpret His Scripture. We're also here to call on the memory of one of His noble servants, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, it's fitting that we do so here, within the four walls of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church -- here, in a church that rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the civil war; here in a church formed by freed slaves, whose founding pastor had worn the union blue; here in a church from whose pews congregants set out for marches and from whom choir anthems of freedom were heard; from whose sanctuary King himself would sermonize from time to time.

Happy Birthday to First Lady Michelle Obama

Happy Birthday to First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama.
May this day be peaceful and full of love.

Michelle Obama

Some new articles/interviews with the First Lady. (hat tip-Angelar)

The First Lady Looks Back on Her First Year
Thursday, January 14, 2010 | 12:30 PM
by Cynthia Gordy

In an exclusive roundtable discussion, Michelle Obama talks about motherhood, advocacy and race in the White House

First Lady Michelle Obama says she can't believe it's been a year since she and her family moved to Washington. But as she strides confidently into the White House Old Family Dining Room on Wednesday morning, wearing a red sheath dress and brown knee-length boots, she appears to be perfectly at home.

"I was talking to somebody about what I was thinking this time last year," she told reporters from seven media outlets, including ESSENCE, after taking a seat at the dining table where she and the President host small dinners. Mrs. Obama described how, back then, she was just worried about her daughters adjusting. It wasn't until March, when Sasha and Malia announced liking their new home, that she could relax into the role of First Lady. "That was the first time that I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, despite anything that had happened up to that point," she said. "Hearing that they were okay with this move was like the beginning."

Reflecting on her first year in the White House, Mrs. Obama says she is pleased with the initiatives she took on, more than 200 events including growing a White House garden with local schoolchildren and talking about nutrition, visiting six military bases to advocate for military families and launching a White House mentoring program for teenage girls. "If there is a program that speaks fundamentally to who I am it is [the mentoring] program," she says of the 16 Washington-area girls who she and other White House officials meet with once a month. "The notion that they're preparing to meet with the President, and that they can sit down and address anyone, is just that kind of intangible confidence that can really push kids from mediocrity to fabulousness."

Still, she says there is much more she wants to do.

Rest of article at link above.

From Jezebel:

Obamas Discuss Mammograms & Tiger Woods, Offer Movie Recommendations

In two new interviews, Barack and Michelle Obama reflect on their first year at the White House and reveal that they still make time to check out indie films and keep up with tabloid gossip.

The Obamas gave People magazine their first interview of 2010 (and apparently felt totally comfortable nuzzling in front of People photographer Martin Schoeller). The President said he's proud of getting the health care bill through the House and the Senate this year and Michelle talked more about her White House garden, but both said they're proudest of how their girls have adjusted to living at the White House. Michelle explained:

We've tried to keep their day-to-day life pretty ordinary, so they seem like the kids that we've always known. But we talked about how fun it was just watching as they met the Pope. I think the girls were much more poised and calm in front of the Pope than Grandma and Mama Kaye [their godmother]. It was interesting, the pictures of the Pope and Malia and Sasha standing there exchanging conversation: "How's school?" "It's fine."

Though Barack was questioned about terrorism and Afghanistan, People had a much more intimate question for Michelle: As a woman under 50, would she stop getting annual mammograms in light of the controversial new guidelines on breast cancer? She replied:

I do [get annual mammograms], and I'm not going to change. I tend to err on the side of caution in every aspect of my health. The broader message to women is that we have to own our health. Listen to advice, but ultimately we've got to take care of ourselves.

Rest of article at link above.

Morehouse Whiz Kid is Causing a Stir: 13-Year-Old Dominates College

hat tip: Dr. Boyce Watkins

Morehouse Whiz Kid is Causing a Stir: 13-Year-Old Dominates College
By Boyce Watkins, PhD on Jan 13th 2010 7:45PM

At thirteen years of age, Stephen Stafford is causing quite a stir at Morehouse College. Stafford has a triple major in pre-med, math and computer science. Though he loves playing video games and playing his drum set, he is no typical teenager.

"I've never taught a student as young as Stephen, and it's been amazing," said computer science professor Sonya Dennis. "He's motivating other students to do better and makes them want to step up their game."

Stafford began his college career at the age of 11, after being home-schooled by his mother. Stafford's mother said that when Stafford began to teach her instead of being taught by her, she knew he needed to be in a college environment.

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. Stephen Stafford, in my opinion, represents exactly what black men are about: Intelligence, ambition and high academic achievement. This is not to disrespect men in other walks of life, but the truth is that you will never see Stephen Stafford's accomplishments promoted like a rap music video.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Politics is About People, Not Parties

Sometimes I come across a particularly profound political insight that I just have to share it widely. This is one on the political participation of young people in European politics from the Personal Democracy Forum:
Young Europeans do not want political parties in their lives. Only 4 percent of young people (15-29 year olds) participate in a political party or trade union (on Euronews from Eurostat statistics). This is a clear figure of what young people want or do no want. Political party politicians and their acolytes would quickly blame the education system, capitalism, the television or even the Playstation for the lack of interest in politics of young people. They are blinded by their group thinking and narrow perspective of what politics is. Politics is not only, and not even mainly, about what political parties and their representatives (the so-called "politicians") do. This fact, many people, including young people, know very well. I recommend the party people to go one night around bars in any city or town in Europe, to listen to what people are talking about. They talk about politics beyond political parties and their captive public institutions. They will be surprised to hear that there is political life outside the party. For politics is mainly about people and what they do, and not about organisations of any kind. That is why we need to reform the system to give chances to those who want to talk and participate in politics, but do not want to be captive of an organisation that has its own interests, often different than the interests of the rest of us.

Given the oft-cited statistic that the number of self-described political independents in the U.S. is surging rapidly I would say that what is said in the quote above holds true for us here in the U.S. as well. Politics should be about people, their needs and solving problems. Not narrow partisan interests. Most people are wising up to that insight and would prefer a political system that is responsive to those needs.

Yes to people-centered participatory democracy and no to narrow partisanship!

Teddy Pendergrass On One of His Classics

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American Music Legend Teddy Pendergrass Passes On

March 26, 1950—January 13, 2010

Pendergrass was one of the greatest Soul singers, and American performers of his generation. Contribution was huge... can't be quantified. His body of work was incredible. His conscious voice provided balance to his romantic work. While Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding were the Prince's of Stax Records, and Marvin Gaye & Smokey Robinson were the Prince & King respectively of Motown, Teddy Pendergrass was the Prince of Philly Soul (Philly International Records).

I will be posting a tribute or two. It will take me forever, especially since I am on a new PC...much of my music had been uploaded onto my old broken Computer. I will probably pick my top 20 Pendergrass tunes (including the work with the Bluenotes)... but that probably wouldn't even cover the range of his work.