Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Activist-Prankster Infiltrates Tea Party and Anti-Immigrant Rallies

This has to be seen to be believed. An activist who goes by the name of "Robert Erickson" has infiltrated Tea Party and anti-immigrant events to stage "Borat"-style pranks on the people in attendance.

This first video at the Minnesota State Capitol shows Erickson giving a speech to the assembled anti-immigrant crowd. Some excerpts from his speech:

Its no secret that with an invasion of immigrants, comes waves of crime.  We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans.  These aren’t new problems though, they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.
I say its time for us to say enough is enough!  Are you with me?  Are you with me?  Lets send these European immigrants back where they came from!  I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian!  European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinus crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery!  Its time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land!  I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown.  There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs.  Let's round them up and ship them out.  Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep, I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to?  We need to send every one of them back home, right now. Thank you very much, and we’ll see you in the streets! 

Columbus go home!  Columbus go home!  Columbus go home!

On the second video in Washington, DC, Erickson scores an interview with anti-immigrant activist Roy Beck of Numbers USA.

Illegal European immigration is one of the worst things we have going in this country, " Erickson tells Beck as the cameras roll. "It's not a new problem. It's been going on for hundreds of years."

Indeed, Beck agrees, apparently without realizing the he's the butt of the joke, "It helped finish off the Indians."

When asked what we should do with illegal Europeans Beck states: “We think that E-Verify ought to be used at every workplace…”  “European verify?” asks a straight faced Erickson.

Several minutes into the interview, once Beck realizes that Erickson is sarcastically advocating the deportation of all white Europeans, Beck brings the conversation to an embarrassing halt.

Erickson has a fan page on Facebook and is on Twitter. He is definitely one of the more creative and ballsy activists out there.

Republican in Tennessee Says 'Unemployed Should Just Find a Job'

Benefits about to run out? Too bad. You lazy folks should shut up and find a job.

From the Young Turks:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is it Black-Span or B-Span?

hat tip-TPM.com

C-Span Caller Rails Against Black Callers (VIDEO)
Rachel Slajda | March 29, 2010, 9:37AM

A caller to C-Span this morning, who identified himself as a Republican from North Carolina, accused the network of taking too many phone calls from black people.

"You have black folks calling in on the Republican line, independents. And you have so many of 'em I can't believe this is just an accident. If you keep on with the way you've been programming, you should change your name from C-Span to black-span," he said. "I know they have an opinion but I wish that they would be honest and call in on the right line."

"Everyone one of 'em thinks that Obama is Jesus Christ and they don't like when anybody criticizes him," he added.

zizi2 has two new name choices: Black-Span or B-Span

Minority-Owned Media A Must

Recently, I used this forum to write about the value of a diverse media, but diversity in mainstream media organizations is just one part of a diverse media. The second necessary part of a diverse media is minority-owned media targeted to minority audiences. There are real world ramifications for why minority-owned media matters.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Gadsden Flag

There is some interesting history surrounding Christopher Gadsden, particularly his connections to the 'Sons of Liberty' (South Carolina), and that groups connection (symbolic or otherwise) to the 'Knights of the Golden Circle'.

What was once a flag representing freedom and rebellion by the colonies, is now taking on a much different role. Unfortunately over the years, the symbolism of the flag has been co-opted by various movements. Upon learning the history of the 'Knights of the Golden Circle', and the 'Sons of Liberty', and understanding their tactics from 150 years ago, what we are seeing now becomes very clear. The roots of the flag date back to the Pre-Revolution era... but its use over the years can be traced back to splinter groups from the North that eventually found their way to the South.

Interesting, eye opening stuff... I encourage all to do some reading. Bells will go off in your head when the dots connect.

Is it a symbol of terrorism? I don't know if we can call it that just yet (but it could be well on its way). However, it is definitely becoming a symbol representing the Republican Party. Republican members of Congress have now been seen embracing and waving the flag at rallies. They can no longer separate themselves from the ideas or the people that the flag represents today.

Periello Blasts Republicans in Washington for Refusing to Unequivocally Denounce Threats Against Democrats

Hmmm. Well Mr. McCain, it looks like this isn't really a joke to those who are on the receiving end of the threats.

From Think Progress:

Democratic lawmakers are increasingly coming out and reporting incidents of harassment in response to their vote for health care reform. In addition to previously reported vandalism in Kansas, New York, Ohio, and Arizona — as well as disturbing threats surrounding Reps. Tom Periello (D-VA) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) — lawmakers have received images of nooses sent to their offices and had their personal information publicly distributed. At least 10 lawmakers have requested extra security after receiving death threats, and Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL) said that “he knows several Democrats who have told their spouses to move out of the home districts while the lawmakers are in Washington.”

See full story with video interview here.

John McCain Laughs Off Wave of Threats Towards Members of Congress

McCain completely laughs off the threats made against members of Congress and their children. He says Palin's actions are no big deal. According to him, the incidents that we have seen over the past week represent normal politics in America. He defends Sarah Palin's behavior (and by extension...he is defending similar behavior by others that is clearly aimed at ginning up followers to take action on their own....while the politicians use plausible deniability).

The coded language of Sarah Palin is really of no concern. It's all a part of our imaginations. Stop worrying. Go back to sleep.

(Of course he desperately needs Sarah Palin because she is the only hope for him if he's going to win re-election).

This guy is COMPLETELY senile and creepy to me. Maybe it's just me.

You have to see it to believe it.

Yeah... tell that to Congressman Periello and all the other members of Congress and their families, "targeted" by these fanatics. Laugh in their faces and tell them that it's no big deal. Of course Periello is a part of the real world and disagrees with the giggling idiot from Arizona.

Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn Give Press Conference on Threats to Democrats

An incredibly silly (or stupid) reporter asks Hoyer if his members felt as if they were at risk....are they really concerned about these threats.
Hoyer's reaction was....(adding what he couldn't say) YES... Damn right we are at risk. Damn right i'm scared and concerned. We have had some serious incidents over the last 48-72 hours. These jackasses are crazy. This is domestic terrorism. (looking perplexed by the stupidity of the question, lol).

Republicans have been mostly silent regarding the threats to members of Congress and their families. John Boehner gave a lame, half assed statement on Radio Rwanda (Faux News) yesterday... after he gave justification for the fanaticism on the Right. But Boehner is about 2 years too late. This stuff has been going on since 2008. Not a word from the Republican leadership. He decided to finally say something now because he felt pushed into a corner.

Boehner himself is part of the problem. He is one of the members of Congress who has been getting his Tea Party followers riled up with dangerous language.

John Boehner to Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus of Ohio (regarding his Healthcare vote):

Driehaus “may be a dead man” and “can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati” because “the Catholics will run him out of town.”

This is on top of the nonsense from Sarah Palin and others.

But this man is the House Minority Leader. Where is the responsibility?

Maddow on Threats to Members of Congress

Republican Terrorists Target Wrong House

I told you that the crazies would be ratcheting things up over the next few days and weeks.

Republican Party terrorists targeted Congressman Tom Perriello by posting what they believed to be the lawmakers home address....encouraging fanatics to pay Perriello a visit. But the information turned out to be the address to Perriello's brothers house. Bo Perriello, brother of Congressman Tom Perriello, apparently returned home on Tuesday evening and smelled gas. Someone had cut a gas line at the home, where the wife of Bo Perriello and their 4 small children live.

From Politico:

Law enforcement authorities are investigating the discovery of a cut propane gas line at the Virginia home of Rep. Thomas Perriello’s (D-Va.) brother, whose address was targeted by tea party activists angry at the congressman’s vote for the health care bill.

An aide to the congressman confirmed to POLITICO that a line to a propane tank behind his brother's home near Charlottesville had been sliced.

The FBI would not disclose the details of the incident but said that they have been to the home.

“This is very preliminary at this point, so we’re not making any comment at this time,” local FBI spokesman M.A. Myers told POLITICO.

Lee Catlin, community relations director for the Albemarle County Fire Marshal, said in a statement to POLITICO that the office is “investigating a suspicious incident” at the home of the congressman’s brother. “The Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting the investigation in cooperation with the FBI,” Catlin said. “While officials are not willing to characterize the exact nature of the incident because of the ongoing investigation, it did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence. However officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation,” the statement said.

POLITICO reported on Monday that Mike Troxel, an organizer for the Lynchburg Tea Party, posted on his blog what he thought was the congressman’s address, encouraging tea party activists to “drop by.”

One of the Tea Partiers posting the address thought it was no big deal:

Danville Virginia Tea Party leader Nigel Coleman and others posted the address information on their websites. When Coleman learned that the address was actually for the home of Perriello’s brother — and after Politico reported he and his wife have four young children — Coleman commented on another blog that the mistake was "collateral damage."

"Do you mean I posted his brother’s address on my Facebook?" Coleman wrote. "Oh well, collateral damage."

Read more from MSNBC's "First Read".

An official statement from Congressman Perriello was as follows:

"While it is too early to say anything definitive regarding political motivations behind this act, it's never too early for political leaders to condemn threats of violence, particularly as threats to other members of Congress and their children escalate,'' Perriello (D-Va.) said in a statement. "And so I ask every member of House and Senate leadership to state unequivocally tonight that it is never OK to harm or threaten elected officials and their families with anything more than political retribution. Here in America, we settle our political differences at the ballot box."

Perriello's district is largely Conservative. His seat was previously held by bigoted Republican (basically openly racist) Virgil Goode.... remember him? We've blogged about his antics before. So the activity of fanatics who live in the area should not be all that surprising.

More from the following blogs

Think Progress

Crooks and Liars



Please take a look at the "Republican Media Page" in sidebar...where all of this was discussed by me over a year ago. I started blogging seriously about this issue back in 2008. Unfortunately, some of my worst fears and nightmares surrounding this issue are being realized. But once again... No one is taking responsibility. The Republican Party, & their mouthpieces and foot soldiers in the Right wing Republican media are using plausable deniability.... they aren't responsible... the Democrats who voted for Healthcare Reform are responsible. They want citizens to believe that they had no part in encouraging these incidents by spewing fear and misinformation...that they are just as shocked as everyone else.

It's so incredibly f------- unbelievable that the only thing that you can do is shake your head and wonder if you are awake or dreaming. It's especially annoying when they say this stuff with a straight face.

Coffin Left on Russ Carnahan's Front Lawn

The St. Louis Chapter of the Republican Tea Party Terrorist organization has targeted Congressman Russ Carnahan for his support of Healthcare Reform. Terrorists left a coffin on his front lawn in St. Louis sometime on Wednesday. Additional link from NBC St. Louis affiliate KSDK (Channel 5). Unclear on what kind of beefed up security he may be needing tonight.

These incidents are now sprouting up all over the Country. Some of the events have not yet made national news.

Republican Tea Party Fanatics Target Bart Stupak

From CBS:

In the wake of his vote in favor of health care reform legislation, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a strong opponent of abortion rights, has been on the receiving end of a string of extremely hostile and threatening messages, including death threats.

Stupak's office released some of those messages to CBS News, and you can listen to them in the video at left, which is also available here.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today that more than 10 members of Congress have received threats in the wake of the health reform vote, and the FBI and police are investigating, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer Jill Jackson reports. The chief of the Capitol Police, the Sergeant at Arms and a representative from the FBI met with members this afternoon to encourage them to report all threats.

While the Capitol Police is in charge of security for members of Congress, the FBI is the lead agency in investigating threats against members and their families.

"All threats and incidents directed against Members of Congress are taken seriously and are being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies to identify and bring to justice those responsible," FBI Public Information Officer Katherine Schweit said in a statement. "Anyone with information about those who may be responsible or are connected to these incidents should contact their local FBI office or police department."

More here...

Republican Terrorists Threaten Congressman Clyburn

Republican Tea Party Terrorists send noose to Congressman James Clyburn. Incident appears to be part of a wave of terrorism and intimidation aimed at members of Congress who supported Healthcare reform.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The President Signs the Healthcare Bill Into Law

When People Say...

"America is a republic, not a democracy" what on earth do they mean?

Can anyone who subscribes to that view please explain what on earth you mean by that statement in an explanatory, non-snarky way? I have no idea what you mean and I'd really like to know. Consider this an opportunity to educate someone.

Thank you.

Anyone Else Having a Problem With Blogger

Or is it just me? I'm using firefox and have been having all sorts of problems.

Republican Fanatics Wasting No Time Responding to Health Care Legislation

Republicans are becoming more radical. Violence is not out of the question as the Right becomes more desperate.

The Fight For Health Care Reform Is Not Over Yet - U.S. Supreme Court Likely To Have Last Word

The U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the last word on the Health Care Reform legislation that was signed by President Obama today. John Roberts, along with Scalia and Alito are salivating right now.... especially Roberts. He loves being in this position at this moment. At the very least for Roberts, it's a chance to make Obama sweat. He has made it no secret that he is not fond of the Obama Administration, particularly after the spat about comments made by Obama at the last State of the Union address, criticizing the court for its ruling on campaign finance regulations in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Uncle Clarence probably can't wait either.

The lawsuits by State Attorneys General from across the Country (most of them Republican) will drag on for months. Writing in the Washington Post, Georgetown University constitutional law professor Randy E. Barnett breaks down the potential areas for legal challenges and the potential for their success. He concludes the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t likely to overturn the legislation - however, he admits that it is not out of the realm of possibility.

The courts won't be the only avenue that Republicans will use to try to kill the legislation. They will also try to interfere with the passage of reconciliation "fixes". If they can't find any traction there, they plan to continue to scare and misinform voters about the legislation. Yesterday, on one of St. Louis' local Right wing radio stations, callers were suggesting a move towards violence (with the host playing right along). On NPR last night... angry callers, brainwashed completely by the propaganda, talked about going to prison and the death camps they may have to endure because of the legislation (Ohhh yes, the Right has brainwashed the Hell out of Americans. You can do anything when you control media). Listen to the March, 22nd discussion on Healthcare from NPR's On Point. The GOP and Right wing media have been extremely effective at ginning up fear and using propaganda to turn public opinion clearly against Health Care Reform.

This will be a serious problem for Obama and the Democrats. They act as if this is a real victory... and it may be. But it may be an even bigger victory for Republicans who still control the debate... in fact, they control public opinion. Progressives have failed monumentally in the information war.... and it is showing. They have time to debunk the lies and recover somewhat.... but I don't think they have a clue regarding how to do it, and I don't think there is even a willingness on their part to do it, and because of that they will pay dearly in November.

The Democrats still have the problem of the economy, which was destroyed by Bush & Co. The public....real folks down on the ground... are concerned more about the economy and jobs than anything else. This is why Obama and the Democrats should have been more focused on jobs over the past year. Their interest in jobs and the economy have been luke warm...and people have noticed. This is why voters, misguided and vulnerable to Republican propaganda, will choose Republicans this Fall.... the same Party that is largely responsible for getting the Country into its current economic mess.

The Republicans will now run their campaigns using Health Care as their rallying cry. They will run on repealing it....and stupid voters (the targets of Right wing propaganda/lies) will respond by punishing Democrats. Of course Republicans won't be able to repeal it as long as the Democrats are in the White House. But a President Mitt Romney (or some other Republican President) is likely to sign legislation repealing it in 2013, before the bill has a chance to kick in completely. Stupid American voters are likely to give us a Republican House and Republican Senate (possibly this year) and a Republican in the White House in the 2012 elections.

Could they do this realistically? I don't think so.... but it all depends on how well they maintain their brainwashing. If they can continue to effectively misinform the public and continue to win the argument.... then a repeal is a possibility. Republicans have undisputed control over information and public opinion in this Country.... despite the fact that most evidence shows that their core principles and values are losing propositions. Their theories on politics, social policy, economics, and foreign policy have been proven failures. Yet, because they control the battlefield in terms of PR and information.... they can continue to be successful. It pisses me off that Progressives seem to be unable to understand the importance of winning the information war. They don't seem to get it.... even after all of these years... after 2000, and after John Kerry in 2003-04... they still don't understand what the Hell is going on. You can have the best policies in the World...and you could have better programs for improving the lives of voters...but none of that matters if you can't win the information war.

So all of this celebrating might be premature.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Exact Changes You Can Expect From Health Care Reform

Devona Walker at The Loop has an excellent bullet point list of exactly what changes are in store for you due to the health care reform just passed by the House

Democrats Did The Right Thing On Health Care

Yesterday, House Democrats took their boldest, most responsible action in years by passing health care reform. The Democratic bill will expand coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans. Yes, there will be a mandate that people acquire health care coverage, but this does not constitute a government takeover. The private insurance market will actually get larger. With an enlarged customer base, premiums for pre-existing customer should not rise at nearly their current rate of increases.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Also check out my podcast discussion of health care reform with Lenny McAllister.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

President Obama Comments on the House Vote

Thank you, House of Representatives

Thank you House of Representatives, and thank you Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has done something none of the ' legendary' Speakers were able to do.
Today was history, folks.

FINAL VOTE-HR 3590: 219 Yea 212 Nay

from Wonkette:
HAHAHAHAH. Nancy Pelosi loves pissing off teabaggers. Here she is linking arms with John Lewis, just like in the Selma march, to remind America of how teabaggers chanted “nigger” at John Lewis fifteen times yesterday. And if anyone gets in her way, she will smash their skulls into sandhills of calcium with her Weapon, the “1965 Medicare gavel,” forged by ancient socialist hobbits in a distant epoch, as a paean to Thor.

From BooMan:

Waterloo Bounces Off Us, Sticks to You
by BooMan
Sun Mar 21st, 2010 at 06:12:00 PM EST

David Frum is feeling glum.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum says Republicans bet that the health care reform bill would be President Obama's Waterloo -- "just as health care was Clinton's in 1994."

"Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton's 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure."

"This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none... We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."

I wouldn't say they got nothing. It just got a lot harder for those of us who would like to do away with the Hyde Amendment, and if we're not careful, the stupid Ben Nelson language in the Senate bill will make it harder for people to find a provider to help end a pregnancy. I'd say that the anti-choice movement made some progress in this messy process, and that's at least something that Republicans can point to as progress. But, in the larger picture, David Frum is correct. This bill might have been the Republican version of health care fifteen-twenty years ago. Today it passes with no Republican support. And they have so poisoned the minds of their supporters, that they will never be able to govern effectively in this new paradigm. They screwed themselves. Plus, this bill greatly expands Medicaid. Last I checked, not too many people using Medicaid vote for Republicans. If their party goes from being the Party of No to the Party of Repeal, they'll create at least 31 million solid Democrats. Idiots.

is it what I wanted?


But, it's a first step.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

They Are Who We Thought They Were

A bunch of no good, lowdown, mofos.

From HuffingtonPost.com

Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress
Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock.

Preceding the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

"It was absolutely shocking to me," Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. "Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus."

"It doesn't make me nervous as all," the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. "In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else."

Asked if he wanted an apology from the group of Republican lawmakers who had addressed the crowd and, in many ways, played on their worst fears of health care legislation, the Democratic Party, and the president, Clyburn replied:

"A lot of us have been saying for a long time that much of this, much of this is not about health care a all. And I think a lot of those people today demonstrated that this is not about health care... it is about trying to extend a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

God bless Jim Clyburn. Sometimes I marvel at the words he chooses.

President Obama addresses House Democratic Caucus

hat tip:W.E.E. See You

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

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

Friday, March 19, 2010

Marvin Gaye - Life's Opera

Extra: O'Jays - Now That We Found Love

The Right Attacks 11 Year Old Boy and His Family, Slamming His Effort To Support Health Care Reform In Mothers Memory

But the Right found a reason to attack Marcelas Owens and his family....
Lawrence O'Donnell talks to The Nation's Chris Hayes.

From Media Matters:
Right-wing media set sights on family of 11-year-old who spoke about his mother's death at health care event:
Right-wing media have recently targeted 11-year-old Marcelas Owens and his family for attacks after he appeared at a health care reform event to speak about his mother, who reportedly died after losing her health insurance. These attacks follow a history of media conservatives attacking or mocking the uninsured, and previous attacks by right-wing media on the family of a 12-year-old who spoke in support of SCHIP.
Read on...

Computer Issues This Week

I hate my computer... the new one is just as annoying as my old one.

Accepted firefox and comodo firewall updates this week and they threw everything out of whack. This is why I try to avoid updates.

Having trouble with blog too.

Coffee Party Could Serve as Sensible Counter to Tea Party Insanity

But overall, Progressives are once again following a misguided strategy. They always aim for the wrong target...the wrong problem. But this is at least a sign of life on the Progressive side. That's good considering that Progressives have often allowed the Right to control the debate on so many issues.

Will CBO Report Be Enough to Convince Reluctant Democrats to Vote for Health Care Bill?

As of yesterday, Congressional insiders were reporting that Pelosi was about 4 or 5 votes short.

Health Insurance Company Targeted HIV Patients

An example of the kinds of abuses that Health Care Reform (Reorganization) is supposed to stop.

The story of Natoma Canfield was also pretty troubling. Of course I knew of these kinds of abuses.... but the scale of the corporate insanity in the Canfield story was pretty bad....even for the insurance industry. You would think that the CEO's would be embarrassed.

Health Care Re-organization Bill Headed For Vote

I think it's probably better than nothing. But it could turn out to be a flop as well. It will be a few years before we will know the verdict on the legislation.
With few federal workers to monitor and enforce the provisions in this Bill...and with insurance companies left in charge...and with them knowing that no one is guarding the hen house... I suspect the results will be a mixed bag.

But Dems have to pass it first. Pelosi is a little on the inept side...so I won't believe it until I see it. Sometimes i'm not sure if she can even count to 216. Luckily she has James Clyburn. But even if it passes this weekend... the Republicans aren't giving up. They are revealing their mafia tendencies.

Michael Moore, in his appearance on Countdown, spelled out pretty well why Progressives are not exactly jumping for joy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Self-sufficiency is key to fixing Black unemployment

First the good news: Black unemployment in February was down 0.7 percent from January's recession high of 16.5 percent. Now, the bad news: it's still 15.8 percent, which is 7.1 percent higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent. Since the recession began in December 2007, the Black unemployment rate has gone up 7.8 percent, nearly doubling in two short years.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Business Lobby Develops Grassroots Operation

From the Los Angeles Times

U.S. Chamber of Commerce grows into a political force
A swelling tide of money could put the business group in a better position to sway elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is building a large-scale grass-roots political operation that has begun to rival those of the major political parties, funded by record-setting amounts of money raised from corporations and wealthy individuals.

The chamber has signed up some 6 million individuals who are not chamber members and has begun asking them to help with lobbying and, soon, with get-out-the-vote efforts in upcoming congressional campaigns.

The chamber's expansion into grass-roots organizing -- coupled with a large and growing fundraising apparatus that got a lift from Supreme Court rulings -- is part of a trend in which the traditional parties are losing ground to well-financed and increasingly assertive outside groups. The chamber is certainly better positioned than ever to be a major force on the issues and elections it focuses on each year, analysts think.

The new grass-roots program, the brainchild of chamber political director Bill Miller, is concentrating on 22 states. Among them are Colorado, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is vulnerable; Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces an uphill reelection battle; and Ohio, where the chamber sees opportunities in numerous House races and an open Senate seat.

The network, called Friends of the U.S. Chamber, has been used to generate more than a million letters and e-mails to members of Congress, 700,000 of them in opposition to the Democratic healthcare plan. That is an increase from 40,000 congressional contacts generated in 2008.

Full article here.

I took a look at their web site's "About" section to find out what they are about:

Friends of the U.S. Chamber believes that American prosperity depends on lower taxes and less regulation, not more burdensome paperwork and bureaucracy. It believes in access to affordable health care, not a government mandated solution. It believes America's energy supply needs to be diverse and secure, not legislated by special interests. It believes in allowing employees the right to secret ballot elections, not suppressing workers' rights with a union leader power-grab to further regulate the workplace. And Friends of the U.S. Chamber believes in helping companies grow jobs, not threatening their existence with the risk of frivolous lawsuits.

Lots of cash and resources on hand, all the legal parameters to spread it widely in support of legislation and politicians that support its agenda, the most sophisticated public relations and communications operation that money can buy equals a potentially formidable force for the corporate right wing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cannonball Adderley/Joe Zawinul & The Dramatics/Ron Banks (1951-2010)

Ron Banks (1951-2010) link. Report from ABC.

Urban Students Failing Because of Racial Oppression?

How much tax money is Arne Duncan going to waste on his Civil Rights adventure? The money that he is about to waste would be better spent creating jobs.

I'm sorry, I just don't buy Duncan's latest PR push to show that he is working to improve education in urban schools. He recently announced that he would launch dozens of Civil Rights investigations, targeting schools across the Country, suggesting that urban students aren't succeeding because their civil rights are being violated. Oh Please!!! I can't drink that Koolaid. Am I the only one who smells bullshit whenever Arne Duncan's name is mentioned? I have been skeptical about this guy ever since Obama appointed him to the post of Education Secretary. He's a Chicago crony. There were certainly better candidates for the job in my opinion. And Chicago's public schools aren't in the best of shape in case anyone hasn't noticed.

It just seems to me that Duncan is playing to the Black urban political elite with this move. He wants to go along with the same old narrative from 20 years ago. But that narrative is out of date. Sure, there are likely some cases of civil rights violations in urban schools that may be uncovered. I don't want to diminish that problem at all. There is probably an even bigger danger of civil rights violations in predominantly white suburban schools against minority students. Hispanics and others may face issues because they speak English as a second language. There may also be cases of students being steered away from certain programs. I can recall guidance counselors refusing to let me into some of the classes I wanted to get into when I first moved to rural/suburban Texas 20 years ago. To this day I don't quite understand what the rationale was. But I still received a decent education because it was a good public school system. However, I believe that these kinds of cases are probably few and far between. Certainly this is not the driving force behind failing students and failing urban schools, particularly those in Black communities. I believe that most students aren't getting into more challenging courses because they don't have the grades...they haven't shown that they can handle the work... not because they are Black. It's interesting how this point is avoided.

Duncan is using the convenient issue of race as a scapegoat, while ignoring the elephant in the room - Urban Culture/Black Culture/Hip Hop Culture and the failure of parents. Urban social norms have a much bigger impact on educational outcomes. Yes, some urban schools have mediocre teachers... that's because good teachers don't want to work in warzones or in environments where their careers are threatened in systems that tie job security to student performance. If I were a teacher in that situation I would probably choose to leave as well...for a better school in the burbs. So let's talk about the elephant in the room. Some students just don't want to learn. Is that the fault of the teacher? Some students don't have parents that are engaged and involved in their educations. Is that the teachers fault? Some students come from broken, dysfunctional families where they don't get the support that they need. Is that the fault of the teacher? Some students follow a Black Hip Hop culture that does not embrace or value education. Is that the fault of the teacher? Of course not.

Now I don't want to suggest that there are no good teachers in struggling urban public schools. You will find some of the most dedicated teachers in troubled schools (another reason not to fire them or threaten careers based merely on student test scores). The fact is, in many of these schools, certain groups of students aren't there to learn. They are there to pass time. Culture and other social factors are the biggest variables in the mix, yet they are the variables that schools have the least influence over.

Who wants to work in an environment where there is always a question about personal safety? I wouldn't do it...especially when there is no hazardous duty pay. I wouldn't teach in these schools even if the job paid more money than wealthier white suburban public or private schools. I would rather have peace of mind. You get the occasional Columbine situation in the white burbs, but most violence still takes place in urban schools. Teachers in urban schools have to deal with fights on a weekly basis. Some...on an almost daily basis. Some of these schools function more like penal institutions...with magnetometers at the doors and movements severely restricted in the hallways. And teachers are dealing with a level of disruptive, belligerent, disrespectful, and violent behavior that has never really been seen before....not like it is today. Urban youth today have almost no respect for any kind of authority. So just as a matter of course, many of these schools are out of control. I can post the youtube videos of Black "students" wreaking havoc, fighting in classrooms and teachers either being assaulted or having no way to control them.

And to aggravate the problems, you have school systems, court systems, and States that don't back up teachers who have to deal with belligerent and violent students (many of them are urban terrorists...period). Instead of supporting teachers who are trying to deal with this kind of madness everyday by giving them all of the tools and authority they need, school systems often punish them. School boards are also of no use. And the teachers not only have to deal with out of control prison inmates in training...and the possible violence from them, they also have to deal with the ignorant parents & relatives who often threaten violence. And who does the school board, the courts, and the State side with? Often with the ignorant parents....not because the parent is right...but because they see it as easier to throw teachers under the bus to avoid having to deal with parents and students who are out of control or who might cause problems for board members or administrators. It's a completely crazy system. I am constantly running across crazy stories in St. Louis regarding belligerent & violent students and their out of control parents....and most of the problems are in schools that are predominantly Black. It's the same nonsense in every big city urban school district across the Country... Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, L.A., Atlanta, D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland...you name it.

You could fill many of these urban schools with the best computers, the best teachers in the World, the best books, the best technology, and the healthiest food and I would argue that there wouldn't be much improvement academically a year later. Not as long as the other variables remain unchanged. In order for students to achieve in these schools, there would need to be a cultural paradigm shift among Blacks in this Country (and to some extent with Hispanics). Remember Steve Perry from CNN's Black In America Series? He was the Principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford Connecticut. Remember what he said about minority parents and their support of the students at his school? He admitted that parental support was almost non-existent.

This isn't about students not having access to education....that's a bunch of bull. And this PR move is really a slap in the face to all those who fought in the 1950's for desegregation of public schools.... those were the real battles regarding civil rights. Students today have all sorts of opportunities.

Please take a look at the Rap on Culture report that I posted a couple of years ago. (be sure to click on the pdf). The report, by PolicyBridge, looked at the impact of culture on educational outcomes. Others, like Dr. John U. Ogbu, a professor at UC Berkley, also looked at the issue of how cultural/social differences impact educational outcomes for Black students.

It's not about whether these students are capable of learning or not. We know that with the proper tools and the proper support, minority students can learn. The Harlem Children's Zone, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Connecticut, Urban Prep Academy for Young Men in Chicago, and stories from students like Steven Stafford all tell us that urban students have the ability to learn no matter what their circumstances are. It all comes down to the will to learn... the willingness to study and work hard, support from parents and teachers, and ultimately the degree to which Blacks value education.

Why are we wasting money on investigations when we know what the major issues are regarding minorities in urban schools? This issue has been studied backwards, forwards and sideways for the last 30 years. If Duncan wants to help urban students, he could start by telling Black/minority parents to turn off the damn television. But I guess that wouldn't be politically correct. He knows that the Black urban political elite - the constituency that he feels he has to keep happy- wouldn't like that very much at all.


Additional Report from NPR

Author Heidi Durrow Talks Race and Identity On NPR

Hear an interview with Heidi Durrow from NPR's All Things Considered. She was discussing her book The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. It's a story about human tragedy and the struggles related to race and racial identity (something that I wrestle with and can therefore relate to). Durrow creatively uses fiction to address serious social issues. She was able to highlight & challenge false ideas about what it means to be Black and what it means to be White in American society, even though the point of the story was to paint a picture of life for a mixed girl.
She doesn't accept the label of Tragic Mulatto for this story because it has so much more to say than that. In fact, it could be seen as the opposite of the Tragic Mulatto, because in the end..... well.. to find out what happens you will have to buy the book.

The book has subtle (maybe not so subtle) reflections of Durrow's own life interwoven throughout the plot, although she once vehemently stated that it's not really about her. However, if you have been listening to Durrow over the years (via her radio program) or have been following her blogs, you can pick up the similarities.

Reviews and Commentaries on the book:

Abagond Blog


Washington Post

Miami Herald

Christian Science Monitor

Book Named a Top 10 Debut Release for 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

“[An] insightful family saga of the toxicity of racism and the forging of the self . . . Durrow brings piercing authenticity to this provocative tale, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction.”
—Booklist [starred review]

“[A] breathless telling of a tale we’ve never heard before. Haunting and lovely, pitch-perfect.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, author and founder of the Bellwether Prize

“The Girl Who Fell from the Sky can actually fly ... Its energy comes from its vividly realized characters, from how they perceive one another. Durrow has a terrific ear for dialogue, an ability to summon a wealth of hopes and fears in a single line.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Rachel’s voice resonated . . . in much the same way as did that of the young protagonist of The House on Mango Street. There’s an achingly honest quality to it; both wise and naive.”
—Shannon Rhodes, NPR

“Echoes of the early Toni Morrison, resonances with Langston Hughes. . . . A stunning debut.”
—George Hutchinson, author of In Search of Nella Larson

“That rare thing: a post-postmodern novel with heart that weaves a circle of stories about race and self-discovery into a tense and sometimes terrifying whole.”
—Ms. Magazine

“Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate . . . as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary. ”
-Publishers Weekly

You can read more about Heidi Durrow and the book by visiting one of her many blogs or websites. Her main websites are HeidiDurrow.com, and Lightskinnededgirl.typepad.com. You can also find her on a weekly internet radio program called Mixed Chicks Chat (see links on our sidebar).

No One Would Listen - A Story of U.S. Government Corruption and Incompetence

Hear a discussion with two financial analysts who tried to sound the alarm about Bernie Madoff's activities but were ignored by your federal government.

Madoff often bragged about his cozy relationship with regulators... (which allowed him to do whatever he wanted). Many of the holes in the financial regulatory system still remain. And it's a symptom of a wider problem of corruption in government that Americans have not only grown to tolerate, but to expect. There was the muzzling of Brooksley Born, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission who tried to warn the nation about a looming financial crisis; The FDA being corrupted and controlled by the drug companies; and even oil industry execs openly providing gifts & having sex with federal regulators from the Interior Department in exchange for less stringent oversight.

Further Confirmation of Glenn Beck's Stupidity - Now He Is Attacking American Churches

Caption: Shhhh... (whispering) I'm making a killing by taking advantage of these idiots on the right, especially the dopes in that Tea Party Movement. They buy my act hook, line & sinker...and none of them have caught on yet. These people are so stupid... I can get them to support just about anything. They believe every lie that I tell, and I'm going to keep making money off of them. Thank God for stupid people...and Thank God for Roger Ailes for giving me this great platform.

I don't know if it's stupidity or genius... because after all, he is the one getting over by taking advantage of the ignorance of his followers. Hell, if I had millions of American zombies hanging on my every word & making me richer, I would probably take advantage of them too, as long as it was legal. Who wouldn't? But then again, I have a conscience and a moral compass, two things that Glenn Beck doesn't have. So I don't think I would do very well as a con artist.

This is the most phony right wing hack on the airwaves. He doesn't even make it a secret anymore. He's openly phony, yet his supporters (idiots) love to watch him. His latest antics involve encouraging his Christian followers to leave their churches if they notice any sort of "social justice" being practiced or preached. Problem is... this includes many right leaning evangelical churches, including The Catholic Church...and even his own Mormon Church.

Even though it is clear (no longer a secret) that his activities are part of an ongoing Republican effort to use fear to excite voters, his followers will unfortunately continue to support him. The idiots in the so-called Tea Party movement will continue to back him, even though they are openly being manipulated by scare tactics from the right...all for political purposes. Many of his followers hang on his every word, and will do exactly what he tells them. As I have stated many times before, it is amazing how the right is able to get these folks to even go against their own economic and political interests and their interests simply as citizens. The level of manipulation and propaganda is truly unbelievable to me. But what blows my mind even more is the fact that it works... the fact that so many people embrace the rights propaganda without questioning anything about what or who they are supporting.

Beck, a Mormon, said the word “social justice” is code for communism and Nazism.

From Media Matters:
Beck: Social justice is "infecting all" faiths

From the New York Times Blog The Caucus:

Last week, the conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck called on Christians to leave their churches if they heard any preaching about social or economic justice because, he claimed, those were slogans affiliated with Nazism and Communism.

This week, the Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical leader in Washington, D.C., called on Christians to leave Glenn Beck.

“What he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show,” Mr. Wallis, who heads the antipoverty group Sojourners, wrote on his “God’s Politics” blog. “His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern.”

Mr. Beck, in vilifying churches that promote “social justice,” managed to insult just about every mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, African-American, Hispanic and Asian congregation in the country — not to mention plenty of evangelical ones.

Even Mormon scholars in Mr. Beck’s own church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in interviews that Mr. Beck seemed ignorant of just how central social justice teaching was to Mormonism.

The controversy began when Mr. Beck said on his radio show: “I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.

“Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church,” he said, referring to the incendiary black pastor who led the church attended by the Obama family members when they lived in Chicago. “If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, ‘Excuse me, are you down with this whole social justice thing?’ ”

Religious Right Minister Prays for Control of Media

I guess they aren't satisfied with the influence they already have. Video.

States Making Deep Cuts to Child Welfare Budgets

States are making deep cuts to child welfare programs, due in part to severe budget shortfalls brought on by the recession. This highlights what is really valued (or not valued) in this Country. The true character of a nation is reflected in how it values its people, especially its children. And we know that whenever finances are tight, social welfare programs and budgets for protecting children are all too often among the first items to be cut. What does this say about the Country?

With the severe difficulty in achieving health care reform, consumer protection, labor rights, equity in elections vis-a-vis corporate influence, and other human needs, (battles that have already been fought in other industrialized Democracies), it is abundantly clear that American priorities aren't geared towards protecting its people or improving the quality of their lives. The NPR report linked above supports what I wrote last year regarding Shaniya Davis.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Documentary: Behind Taliban Lines

New documentary from PBS Frontline "Behind Taliban Lines" shows the challenges faced by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Najibullah Quraishi, an Afghan journalist, was able to infiltrate the Taliban and get a glimpse of life in Afghanistan in areas outside of the control of U.S. troops. The U.S. is losing the battle for hearts in minds in some parts of the Country, although the West has tribal support in others... but in many areas not physically held by U.S. troops & where the Taliban has found shelter, such as in Southern Afghanistan, the U.S. faces an almost impossible situation.

There is a reason why they call Karzi the Mayor of Kabul... because that is the only place where the Afghan government has effective control. The central leadership is poor due to corruption, tribalism, the lack of resources, and the ongoing insurgency. Outside of the Capital, the federal governments presence is spotty. Even in areas where the Karzi government has a presence... officials have been either compromised, corrupted or killed.

Luckily the U.S. is now on the offensive... but the hearts and minds battle is still a problem. The film raises questions about Afghanistan's future and its ability to stand on its own. It would probably require a strong NATO commitment of 5-7 more years (minimum), and billions more in American tax dollars. With all the other challenges faced by the U.S., I don't know if this kind of commitment is sustainable.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Nothing from nothing leaves healthcare reform?

The great pianist and songwriter Billy Preston once sang, "nothing from nothing leaves nothing." Although as 15 to 16 months, I've seen the promise of health care reform start with single-payer then morph into some sort of public option which, if it is robust should be able to contain health-care costs. This is kind of what they House passed. The Senate, on the other hand, is one confusing mess. Senator Max Baucus was given the keys to the city. I'm not sure what he came up with. As chairman of the finance committee, he was in charge of coming up with a health care bill that was attractive to at least a couple of Republicans. Olympia Snowe and others were courted with sweeteners which seem to eat away at the core of health care reform. Senator Kent Conrad decided that he would introduce his own health-care legislation which was some sort of co-op. Although he sold this idea on the Sunday talk shows and pushed it hard for 6-8 weeks, thankfully (hopefully), it is died a quick death.

The public option is been tossed around like a medicine ball. In Junior high school we were asked to throw a medicine ball in order to build up muscle strength and coordination. Every other throw, the ball was dropped, kicked and then picked up and thrown again. This is exactly what has happened with the public option. What was once a robust counterweight to private health insurance has turned into something that states can opt in or opt out depending upon the whims of their legislature. Oh, and it seems that opposing healthcare is a great way to get on TV and increase your image/status like Bart Stupak.

I have stated both on my radio show and on my blog that health-care reform must include something that is cost-effective, portable and increases access to healthcare. Currently, we are looking at a health-care bill that seems to do none of this. Many progressives have decided that they cannot support this bill. They want something else done. I understand the sentiment. I find this whole process extremely frustrating. Democrats seem to be completely unable to stick to their principles and stand up for the middle class. It seems like the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats know what is right but can't do it. Republicans have no idea what is right and won't do it. BTW, President Barack Obama is leader come lately. Look I love this man but I'm telling the truth. Where was he in the middle of the heat of the summer when healthcare was taking the big hits? He needed to be out of front stating that we HAD to have a robust public option but alias, he wasn't out there.

Here's my problem. Washington seems to be controlled by big business. Lobbyists from K St. seem to surround the Capital like locusts. If we scrapped the health-care bill and start all over, how are we going to come up with a different outcome? We're going to have the same politicians, the same White House and the same lobbyists. As a matter of fact, the lobbyists will be better armed to combat arguments they've already heard. They will probably be armed with more money. I'm afraid that starting over will leave us with a bill that's even worse than what we're looking at now -- if that is possible.
We're spending $2.4 trillion on health care every year (we spent that much in 2008). Isn't that enough money? Why do we need to pay any more? Everyone agrees that insurance does not add any value to healthcare. Why is Washington cobbling the insurance companies? Their whole reason for their existence is not to improve health care or help doctors deliver better care or help increase access to doctors by patients. Instead, their whole deal is to simply make money. They make money by not paying claims.

$2.4 trillion is enough money to take care of all 300 million Americans. Combine Medicare and Medicaid and SCHiP and all of the state run programs into one program. Medicare for All! The government will set up a system to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies and medical device/product manufacturers. Premiums are paid out of our taxes in a graduated fashion. The more you make, the more you pay. Let's extend patent protection for pharmaceutical companies by 2-5 years. Since the government is negotiating drug prices, pharmaceutical companies can recoup some of their losses through this mechanism. Doctors will be awarded for opening early and staying open late and on the weekends. This way, Americans can go to their physicians without having to take off from work. This increases access. Anyway, Medicare for All, at least for now, is a pipe dream. Right now, I'm good to try to work with my congressional representatives to try to get the best bill possible.

Billy Preston was right. Nothing from Nothing leaves nothing. The Senate is trying to sell us nothing and tell us it is something. They need to do better.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stop serving: More Blacks work in service compared to other races

In recent invited lectures I've given to government and civic groups, two basic but informative charts in presentation have really caught people's attention. The two charts speak about both the challenges and solution to improving the economic situation of Black communities across the country.

The first chart illustrates, by race, where people work in the five largest occupational categories. For African Americans, three categories dominate: Sales/Office, Service and Management-type positions. Most notably, far fewer African Americans work in management positions than whites or Asians, although Blacks do outnumber Hispanics. As a consequence of this fare, more Blacks work in Service (in comparable numbers with Hispanics) than either whites or Asians.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Media Alert-FLOTUS on The Simpsons!

hat tip -The 44 Diaries

First Lady Michelle Obama Appears On The Simpsons (well, sort of)
Posted by: Audiegrl

In a brand new episode of the hit cartoon series, First Lady Michelle Obama will be seen traveling to fictional Springfield to meet the local school children. The upcoming episode entitled “Stealing First Base” will air on Sunday, March 21st (8:00-8:30 pm ET/PT) on FOX.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Angela Bassett

Award-winning actress Angela Bassett will provide the voice of Mrs. Obama. Bassett has become well-known for her biographical film roles portraying real life women in African American culture, perhaps most prominently as singer Tina Turner in the motion picture What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as her portrayal of Betty Shabazz in the films Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in the The Rosa Parks Story, Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine in the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream and Christopher ‘The Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace’s mother Voletta Wallace in the film Notorious.

During the new episode Lisa Simpson’s classmates ostracize her for being an straight “A” student, and the First Lady comes to her defense. After being cast out by her friends, Lisa is thrilled when she gets a chance to meet the President’s wife. Ultimately, Mrs. Obama helps Lisa discover the joys of being an overachiever.


President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

The Immediate Benefits of Health Reform

Friday, March 05, 2010

Charter school in tough neighborhood gets all its seniors into college

Hat tip- JJP

From The Chicago Tribune

Charter school in tough neighborhood gets all its seniors into college

By Duaa Eldeib Tribune staff reporter

The entire senior class at Chicago's only public all-male, all-African-American high school has been accepted to four-year colleges. At last count, the 107 seniors had earned spots at 72 schools across the nation.

Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman surprised students at an all-school assembly at Urban Prep Academy for Young Men in Englewood this morning to congratulate them. It's the first graduating class at Urban Prep since it opened its doors in 2006.

Huberman applauded the seniors for making CPS shine.

"All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream," Huberman said.

The school enforces a strict uniform of black blazers, khaki pants and red ties -- with one exception. After a student receives the news he was accepted into college, he swaps his red tie for a red and gold one at an assembly.

The last 13 students received their college ties today, to thunderous applause.

Ask Rayvaughn Hines what college he was accepted to and he'll answer with a question.

"Do you want me to name them all?"

For the 18-year-old from Back of the Yards, college was merely a concept--never a goal--growing up. Even within the last three years, he questioned if school, let alone college, was for him. Now, the senior is headed to the prestigious Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. next fall.

Hines remembers the moment he put on his red and gold tie.

"I wanted to take my time because I was just so proud of myself," he said. "I wanted everyone to see me put it on."

The achievement might not merit a mayoral visit at one of the city's elite, selective enrollment high schools. But Urban Prep, a charter school that enrolls using a lottery in one of the city's more troubled neighborhoods, faced difficult odds. Only 4 percent of this year's senior class read at grade level as freshmen, according to Tim King, the school's CEO.

"I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal," King said. "Every single person we hired knew from the day one that this is what we do: We get our kids into college."

College is omnipresent at the school. Before the students begin their freshman year, they take a field trip to Northwestern University. Every student is assigned a college counselor the day he steps foot in the school.

The school offers an extended day--170,000 more minutes over four years compared to its counterparts across the city--and more than double the number of English credits usually needed to graduate.

Even the school's voicemail has a student declaring "I am college bound" before it asks callers to dial an extension.

Rest of article at link above.