Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Byrd's evolution on matters of race mirrors a nation maturing

The life of Senator Robert Byrd is a testament to how much we can all change in our lifetimes. Once a Ku Klux Klansman, Byrd spent more time apologizing for that episode of his life than he ever actually spent with the Klan.

Like many young white men of his generation in the 1940s he grew up when the Klan actually meant something. In small towns across the nation, and not just in the South, all the local political elite were members of the Klan. If you wanted to be something, you joined in. Even noted Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black was in the Klan in his native Alabama. That’s not to defend Byrd’s decision to join. The Klan was a hateful organization to its core, but in some places it was the only game in town.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Arc of a Man's Life - Senator Robert Byrd Passes Away at 92

West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jun 28, 6:02 am ET

WASHINGTON – Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday. He was 92.

A spokesman for the family, Jesse Jacobs, said Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. He had been in the hospital since late last week.

At first Byrd was believed to be suffering from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, but other medical conditions developed. He had been in frail health for several years.

Byrd, a Democrat, was the longest-serving senator in history, holding his seat for more than 50 years. He was the Senate's majority leader for six of those years and was third in the line of succession to the presidency, behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a fellow West Virginian in the Senate, said it was his "greatest privilege" to serve with Byrd.

"I looked up to him, I fought next to him, and I am deeply saddened that he is gone," Rockefeller said.

In comportment and style, Byrd often seemed a Senate throwback to a courtlier 19th century. He could recite poetry, quote the Bible, discuss the Constitutional Convention and detail the Peloponnesian Wars — and frequently did in Senate debates.

Yet there was nothing particularly courtly about Byrd's pursuit or exercise of power.

Byrd was a master of the Senate's bewildering rules and longtime chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which controls a third of the $3 trillion federal budget. He was willing to use both to reward friends and punish those he viewed as having slighted him.

"Bob is a living encyclopedia, and legislative graveyards are filled with the bones of those who underestimated him," former House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, once said in remarks Byrd later displayed in his office.

Rest of obituary at link above.

The President Comments on Byrd:

President Barack Obama says the country has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

In a statement, Obama says Byrd had a profound passion for the Senate, and held the deepest respect for members of both parties. Obama says that as a young senator, he appreciated Byrd’s generosity with his time and advice.

He said that Byrd, in his words, was “as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chambers and corridors.”

Speaking earlier in the day at an event in Louisville, Ky., Vice President Joe Biden remembered Byrd as a tough, compassionate leader and said the Senate “is a lesser place for his going.”

The Supreme Court Says the 2nd Amendment Applies to All Citizens

High Court Rules in Favor of Gun Rights

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled for the first time that gun possession is fundamental to American freedom, giving federal judges power to strike down state and local weapons laws for violating the Second Amendment.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that binds states.
"Self defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day," wrote Justice Samuel Alito. He was joined in reaching the result by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The legal question before the court had much to do with questions of constitutional history. Before the Civil War, courts held that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. After the Union victory, the Reconstruction amendments were adopted to elevate individual rights over state powers and cement the federal role in enforcing them.

I think I'm to the right of the rest of the bloggers here on this issue, but I agree with this ruling completely.

The only people in America, that cannot legally obtain firearms, are law abiding urban dwellers like me.

Suburban folks have them.
Rural folks have them.
The criminals that run rampant in urban areas CERTAINLY have them - the gun restriction laws have never slowed THEM down.

I'm not saying that I will run out and purchase a gun. The point for me was, if I wanted to, I should be able to, as a law abiding citizen of this country.

Coming to an urban area near you: the Crispus Attucks Gun Club.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The President's Remarks on Wall Street Reform

hat tip-W.E.E. See You

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

Lots of Charts

I've updated my Charts page. It's good stuff, if, you know, you're into that sort of thing. My favorite one is the first one showing how much Texas leads the nation in executions.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tim Scott's South Carolina win is a loss for African Americans

The mainstream media portrays Paul Thurmond as the loser in last night’s Republican primary for South Carolina’s first congressional district, but that’s all wrong. The real losers are African Americans.

After Tim Scott’s victory, Republicans will treat us with a steady diet of “look how diverse we are.” One black face in a sea of white Republicanism doesn’t equal diversity, it’s more like a rounding error.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Either the President is the Commander-In-Chief, or he is not

hat tip-SouthernGirl2

From Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan was fighting for his job Tuesday after being summoned to Washington to explain a magazine profile that included derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Gen. Stanley McChrystal's comments were "distractions" to the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal, who publicly apologized Tuesday for using "poor judgment" in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, has been ordered to appear at the White House Wednesday, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

He'll be expected to explain his comments in the magazine's profile, titled "The Runaway General," to the president and top Pentagon officials, officials said.

A top military official in Afghanistan told The Associated Press that McChrystal hasn't been told whether he will be allowed to keep his job. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions between Washington and the general's office in Kabul.

McChrystal spent Tuesday calling several of those mentioned in the article to apologize, officials said, including Gates and Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special envoy to Pakistan.

Gates issued a statement saying McChrystal made "a significant mistake" and used poor judgment in his remarks to a magazine reporter.

He can apologize until Jesus returns.

McChrystal needs to go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chart: Number Executed In Texas

Digging through the archives I found this chart I made two years ago for my classes. I could update it through 2010, but it would just show a longer line for Texas.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Republicans Say No to Helping Gulf Coast Victims of BP

Republican Party Spokeswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann came out against the idea of helping the victims of the Gulf Coast oil disaster - one of the biggest environmental disasters in American history. Instead, she took the side of BP, defending the company and encouraging it not to be chumps...basically encouraging BP to fight the claims from victims. She frames the compensation of victims as an attempt to fleece the company.

She was basically calling the aid an unjustified welfare program for the lazy, rather than necessary compensation for hard working fishermen & business owners who are trying to save their livelihoods. She describes the $20 billion aid fund as a redistribution of wealth... a government cash grab (despite the fact that the money will come from BP...a private entity, and the funds will be administered by a 3rd party).

Bachmann is one of the few spokespersons for the Republican Party. What she says usually represents at least the leanings of the Republican leadership, if not official policy.

Another Republican, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, claims that the $20 Billion compensation fund was an unjust "shakedown" of BP, and he even went as far as apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward because his company has to pay for the damages caused by the oil leak. Crazy enough for you?

But none of this matters unfortunately. The sad thing is.... Republicans are still going to win coast to coast in November's elections. The voting public in this Country, as a whole, is plain ignorant. As I have stated before... I have no faith in the American voting public. It is ultimately why this nation won't be able to effectively deal with the monumental problems it will face over the next 50 years. It is the reason why the U.S. is basically screwed.

Bill Withers - World Keeps Going Around

Awesome live performance - from the live @ Carnegie Hall album

Don't Forget About The Silent Truth

Don't forget about Lavena Johnson and the wider epidemic of assaults and attacks in the military, particularly against women. The Silent Truth, is supposed to premiere sometime this year. You won't see this on Faux News or CNN.

Related Links

A Look at The Experiences of Women in the Military

Rape & Cover-up in Iraq

Gasland - Disturbing Documentary on U.S. Gas Industry

Learn how the gas industry is polluting drinking water (and lying about it) and how the the U.S. Government, via the EPA, has dropped the ball. (Hear an interview with filmmaker Josh Fox.) This industry could be coming to a city near you...and there wouldn't be much of anything that you could do to stop them. It's amazing how this kind of corporatocracy has been allowed to take over the Country. Certain things just shouldn't happen in America considering the individual rights we supposedly have...rights that are supposed to be sacrosanct. But I have come to learn over the years that individual rights are only truly granted to those who can afford the money to take advantage of them. Rights concerning safety, health, and freedom don't apply equally to all in the real world. Much is determined by socio-economic status. The poor don't have the same rights as the well-to-do.... not in real terms. In other words, if you can't afford an expensive attorney to advocate for you, then you're screwed. If you can't acquire a legal dream team to challenge corporate lawyers, then you are at the mercy of big business. Government agencies aren't going to help you... they are either too bureaucratic and ineffective, or they are in the pockets of the corporations.

Corporatocracy rules America... It is why the British and the Canadians laugh at us when you explain our for-profit Health Care system to them. The U.S. sees the health and well being of people in a fundamentally different way than many other modern free Countries do. Here, the profits of corporations always seem to be placed above the well being of people. We see that story told time and time again. And in this anti-government, anti-regulation climate we live in - a climate that Republicans/Conservatives are shoving down our throats - this problem is only going to get worse. They swear by the idea that the private sector should somehow police itself and will fix everything (complete nonsense).


Film will premiere nationwide on HBO on June 21st.

See interview from PBS.

See review from Indiewire

Websites for film and the Gasland movie blog.

Interview with Hiromi Uehara

Hiromi performs 'Choux a la Creme' on NPR

Extraordinary pianist. She reminds me of Keiko Matsui, who is one of my favorite pianists.. although Matsui plays in a more melodic style.  Hear quick interview from NPR's All Things Considered.

Hear a more detailed interview w/ performances from Piano Jazz.

See report from CNN.

Article from The Examiner.

Eugene Robinson's Commentary on Obama's Oil Spill Response Hit the Mark

Eugene Robinson was pretty much on target with his commentary questioning Obama's response to the oil spill in the Gulf, and BP's negligence. It basically mirrors some of what I wrote on June, 4th. The Obama Administration should have been more aggressive in dealing with this disaster earlier on. The administration should have done more to get as much equipment as possible to help with containment and cleanup, and it should have forced BP to do more.

Obama's address to the nation on June 15th, and his follow-up the next day with concrete results were some of the first real indications that at least someone was at the wheel regarding the Gulf crisis. The speech didn't wow me... I think it fell a little short. Dailykos poster and fellow blogger Icebergslim shares some of my views. But at least he's trying. The $20 billion committment that he was able to get from BP is a start.

What happens now will depend on good policy and follow-up. I remain perturbed by the fact that BP still has control over so much of the process... that makes me a little skeptical. But I am willing to give the Obama Administration some time to get back on track (at least on this issue). As I mentioned in my comments under the speech post, the problem with waiting 4, 5, 6 weeks is that it allowed Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Party nuts to grab control of the narrative and poison public opinion. The lack of good advisers and strong PR has plagued Obama for a couple of years now...and I have been screaming about this problem online, via the blog and @ sites like the Dailykos (only to be criticized for not showing blind allegiance to Obama). The PR and media problems are issues for Democrats in general...but especially for Obama. And now it has been laid bare for all to see. The problem has always been there... but this disaster exposed it in a way that other situations had not been able to in the past.

BP and Its Dubious Safety Practices

Investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten has uncovered a track record of corner cutting at BP. The company basically developed a culture where safety was trumped by profits. More of the same unchecked free-market capitalism that has been shoved down our throats by Conservatives/Republicans who support laissez-faire philosophy.

Hear detailed interview from NPR.

The Wounded Platoon - New Documentary on Mental Casualties of War

PBS Documentary on the often forgotten and often hidden casualties of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On November 30, 2007, 24-year-old Kevin Shields went out drinking with three Army buddies from Fort Carson, Colo., a base on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. A few hours later, he was dead -- shot twice in the head at close range and left by the side of the road by his fellow soldiers. Shields' murder punctuated a string of violent attacks committed by the three, who are now serving time in prison for this and other crimes, and it contributed to a startling statistic: Since the Iraq war began, a total of 17 soldiers from Fort Carson have been charged with or convicted of murder, manslaughter or attempted murder committed at home in the United States, and 36 have committed suicide.

Read more

The Idiocy of American News Media

I find myself agreeing with this point (almost reluctantly) about the fiasco surrounding the BP Chairman's comments & how American media too often diverts attention to the wrong issues, wasting precious time that could be spent educating/informing the public on much more important facts and events. Just to be clear though, I basically hate BP & companies like it and am not a fan of the practices of greedy corporations. (anyone who has read this blog for more than 6 months should know how I view corporations). So i'm not defending them one bit.

But this comes at a time when the mainstream news media (more & more a venue for info-tainment) already spends too much time on nonsensical non-news stories on the level of cats stuck in trees. (this is national news i'm referring to..even in times of crisis/turmoil). I have contacted news agencies on a few occasions over the years to get them to cover real news... only to be told that they weren't interested. This is one reason why I lost respect for mainstream news (or for what imitates news & journalism these days) and decided to start blogging.

This is why Americans are clueless about oil spills in Nigeria, war & genocide in Sudan and Congo (several orders of magnitude worse than in Kosovo...for which Bill Clinton was willing to start WWIII), the ongoing Cold War in Central Asia and the Caucusus, life for troops in Iraq & Afghanistan, modern day slavery, the American health care system and American Democracy as compared to other nations, the time leading up to the financial crisis and how Bernie Madoff Made-off w/ so much money, Americas upcoming day of reckoning regarding its ballooning debt (what could be coming will make 2008-09 appear minor), the shady oil & mining industries, the lack of labor protections/labor regulations to protect workers, etc, etc.

As far as the news business is concerned, I wish we could go back to the days of Ed Bradley, Walter Cronkite & Bernard Shaw. Unfortunately, a lot of the really good journalists who are still left have had to go online and/or independent, and can't reach a wide audience. It just seems that with the Fox News Faux News model leading the way, we are stuck in a race to the bottom in terms of news coverage... and we have a less informed/educated populace as a consequence.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Regulatory Capture And The Deepwater Horizon

The Obama administration's efforts at fighting BP's Deepwater Horizon oil leak would have been a lot easier had all federal agencies been on board in the fight to correctly monitor federal agencies. By that, I mean Minerals Management Service within the Interior Department essentially abdicated its responsibility to protect the public. Instead, it became a textbook example of regulatory capture. How does this happen? Gifts from the oil industry. It also helps when Republican presidents appoint political puppets with ideological dispositions to believe that government regulation is inherently bad.

Current Topics On Race

How we talk about race has changed considerably over the years, but as the following sample of stories illustrates, our conversations about race are generally bad and still involve reactionary politicians (I'm talking about you Steve King).

Dylan Matthews says race affects American's support of welfare programs. That's been painfully obvious since the 1930s. Conservatives deny this charge, but as a commenter rightly says, "they're just putting their heads in the sand." Read Ira Katznelson's When Affirmative Action Was White to get a full picture.

Devona Walker picks up on a Republican's ridiculous raghead comments in South Carolina.

An unintended consequence of high black male incarceration rates is the high number of unwed, black females.

In the partisan sense, Obama may have made life more difficult for black candidates by activating white voters motivated by racial animus.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The President's Speech to the Nation

Remarks of President Barack Obama-As Prepared for Delivery

Address to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oval Office


Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about forty miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge – a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.

First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history – an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost forty years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and cleanup the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I have authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, clean beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims – and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we are working with Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

As the clean up continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response becomes, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. That living is now in jeopardy. I’ve talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don’t know how they’re going to support their families this year. I’ve seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers – even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back. The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they’ve lost. It’s about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.

I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short-term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that has already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, a former governor of Mississippi, and a son of the Gulf, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.

The third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again. A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe – that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.

That was obviously not the case on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. The American people deserve to know why. The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion – these families deserve to know why. And so I have established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency – Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. His charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog – not its partner.

One of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked – not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels will take some time, but over the last year and a half, we have already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that will someday lead to entire new industries.

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs – but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation – workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors.

When I was a candidate for this office, I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towards energy independence. Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill – a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy – because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party – as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development – and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fear hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny – our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea – some for weeks at a time.

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago – at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “…even in the midst of the storm.”

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through – what has always seen us through – is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it. Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black and Brown are the New White

The coming demographic storm that threatens to shake up American politics gets closer every year.

New Census figures indicate that minority births (mostly driven by Latinos) accounted for 49 percent of all births in 2009. In 2010, minority births should be a majority. In at least 10% of America’s counties, minorities are a majority and the trend shows no signs of stopping.

Read the rest at The Loop.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama Gives Commencement Address at Anacostia High School

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the graduation ceremonies at Anacostia Senior High School on June 11, 2010 in Washington. This is a beautiful, powerful commencement address by the First Lady.

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obama In a No Win Situation Regarding Gulf Oil Spill

And of course I knew this all along. See CNN report discussing the risks of Obama being labeled the 'Angry Black Man' and the whole double standard surrounding it. He will be criticized no matter what he does.... mainly because there is a huge Republican PR and media machine dedicated to this task 24 hours a day, although Progressives (myself included) have also been complaining. But I also believe that there are things that he could have done (and could do in the weeks and months to come) to minimize the damage...both to the Gulf and to his reputation. For the most part, Obama hasn't done much to help least not until recently.

I have felt from the beginning that simply getting angry would not be enough. Showing anger is necessary in a situation like this. However, anger with no action to back it up, is just acting and pandering. It's empty rhetoric. He needs to do more than that.

His response to the BP mess (and now the Country's mess) has been lacking in both words/emotions AND deeds. So he has to show the anger/emotion, but he must also back it up with some sort of meaningful action.

See previous post on Obama and the Oil Spill Disaster


McClatchy Commentary - Why Are They Making Obama The Oil Spill Fall Guy?

BP Dodging Responsibility for Oil Spill - Victims Facing Wall of Red Tape

Why Wasn't This Predicted? It Was Certainly Predictable To Me

This is why FEMA or some other Federal agency should be running the claims process. The government should pay the victims and make them whole, then go to BP and ask ...take the money to reimburse the taxpayers. This should have been the plan from the beginning. I never understood the logic behind allowing BP to handle every part of this, from controlling their own crime scene (outrageous), all the way to handling the financial claims for the victims (when the company has a clear incentive and motive not to pay). It makes absolutely no sense. I thought it was idiotic from the start...and that this would be the likely outcome.

It appears that BP intends to create so much red tape that the people simply give up in frustration and go away. THIS is the kind of madness that I want Obama to do something about. He shouldn't just get angry. Anger with no action to back it up is just acting to me. He has to couple his anger with deeds. He has to demonstrate both.

From MSNBC report on BP's mishandling of claims:

GRAND ISLE, La. - Gulf Coast fishermen, businesses and property owners who have filed damage claims with BP over the oil spill are angrily complaining of delays, excessive paperwork and skimpy payments that have put them on the verge of going under as the financial and environmental toll of the disaster grows by the day.

Out in the Gulf of Mexico, meanwhile, the oil company Wednesday captured an ever larger-share of the crude gushing from the bottom of the sea and began bringing in more heavy equipment to handle it.

The containment effort played out as BP stock plunged to its lowest level in 14 years amid fears that the company might be forced to suspend dividends and find itself overwhelmed by the cleanup costs, penalties, damage claims and lawsuits generated by the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

Shrimpers, oystermen, seafood businesses, out-of-work drilling crews and the tourism industry all are lining up to get paid back the billions of dollars washed away by the disaster, and tempers have flared as locals direct outrage at BP over what they see as a tangle of red tape.

"Every day we call the adjuster eight or 10 times. There's no answer, no answering machine," said Regina Shipp, who has filed $33,000 in claims for lost business at her restaurant in Alabama. "If BP doesn't pay us within two months, we'll be out of business. We've got two kids."

An Alabama property owner who has lost vast sums of rental income angrily confronted a BP executive at a town meeting. The owner of a Mississippi seafood restaurant said she is desperately waiting for a check to come through because fewer customers come by for shrimp po-boys and oyster sandwiches.

Some locals see dark parallels to what happened after Hurricane Katrina, when they had to wait years to get reimbursed for losses.

Continue to full report

Hear an NPR discussion on the failures surrounding the BP disaster.

On the Vilification of Helen Thomas

Excellent Commentary from Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer

The media tirade against Helen Thomas is as illogical as it is hysterical. The few sentences uttered by her were, as she quickly acknowledged, wrong—deeply so, I would add. But they cannot justify the road-rage destruction of the dean of the Washington press corps. Suddenly this heroic woman who broke so many gender barriers and dared to challenge presidential arrogance was reduced to nothing more than the stereotypical anti-Israel Arab that it is so fashionable to hate.

“Thomas, of Lebanese ancestry and almost 90, has never been shy about her anti-Israel views,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, in a non sequitur reference to a reporter born in Winchester, Ky., in 1920 when few—Jews included—supported a Jewish state in Palestine and whose parents were Christians. Obviously Cohen, who attacks Thomas for “revealing how very little she knew” about the history of Israel, is unaware that Lebanese Christians have been the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. Indeed, they provided the shock troops who, under Israeli cover, massacred the unarmed inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps. To attribute Thomas’ views on Israel to her Lebanese parents is no less offensive than it would be to suggest that a Jewish reporter cannot be objective because, as in my case, his mother escaped anti-Semitism in Russia.

Continue to Full Commentary

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What Part of ' If You Ain't White', don't you understand?

hat tips-lamh32

I had to sleep on this, because I had to calm down about it.

from Wonkette

Arizona School Demands Black & Latino Students’ Faces On Mural Be Changed To White

This is America, in 2010, and there’s a dozen more states and endless white-trash municipalities ready to Officially Adopt this same Official Racist Insanity.

From the Arizona Republic:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity ….

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

The children depicted on the mural, as we mentioned before but feel compelled to repeat, are little kids who go to the school — “a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project.”

And these children, for the past several months as this happy mural encouraging “green transportation” was being painted by local artists, have been treated to the city of Prescott’s finest citizens driving by and yelling “Nigger” and “Spic” at this school wall painted with pictures of the children who attend the school. And this has been encouraged by a city councilman, Steve Blair, who uses his local radio talk show to rile up these people and demand the mural be destroyed.

And now the faces are being painted white, “because of the controversy.”

Let that sit around in your brain for awhile.

Let's make this clear: they are erasing the presence of STUDENTS THAT GO TO THE SCHOOL.

These are Black and Brown children THAT GO TO THE SCHOOL.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Oil Spill Disaster, President Obama, and a Confused GOP

As the oil spill disaster has unfolded over the past several weeks, I have been dismayed by the images and the coverage. I have been especially annoyed by Republicans hoping to use the catastrophe against President Obama by calling it his Katrina- with the mainstream media more than willing to entertain the Republican talking points. All they are concerned with is the next election or the next opinion poll. I was especially annoyed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Mr. Anti-Big Government himself (particularly the Federal Government).

Republicans have been thrown for a loop by the Gulf oil spill disaster. It is clear that they are extremely confused. In the early days of the disaster, they were warning Obama not to be too heavy handed against the oil industry and to take a soft approach towards BP. In response to his tough talk, they suggested that too much government involvement in BP because of to the disaster would be inappropriate and would be tantamount to fascism (they were already accusing him of fascism during the first couple of weeks of the disaster). They wanted the clean-up to be handled by BP.

However, once the disaster went into its third week and it became clear that the folks at BP were lying about the amount of oil being released and were not doing everything possible to contain the leak… Republicans started to whisper that it was Obama’s Katrina. They were hoping that they could make political hay out of the suffering of others along the Gulf Coast. Once the disaster went into its fourth week, Republicans (and Progressives) started to scream for a government takeover of the Gulf operations (while at the same time, still playing up the nonsense about fascism….to keep their political base energized - the biggest hypocritical jackasses that I have ever seen in my life). Leading the charge has been Bobby Jindal… the biggest Republican Jackass associated with this disaster. He has certainly been the one with the biggest mouth. Now all of a sudden he wants the government to take control from the private sector. This is the same man who lambasted the President last year about too much government - that government was too big and should have a very limited role in American life. Now this jackass is on TV everyday attacking the President (along with other Republicans) for not taking over the operations in the Gulf of Mexico from BP. Mr. Anti-Federal Government has been calling for a federal takeover of the cleanup. Some have suggested that Obama also take over the containment operations at the well site itself. Admiral Thad Allen has had to explain to a number of these idiots that the Navy simply doesn’t have certain special deep sea robotic equipment nor the expertise to cap oil gushing from a well 5,000 ft below the surface. This event has highlighted how confused and confounded Republicans are about what the role of government should be. They don’t seem to know what they want.

I personally believe that a criminal investigation should have started sooner, and everything that the jackasses at BP did from day #1 should have been watched closely and documented. Independent scientists and Federal investigators should have been brought in right away, and documents and any evidence should have been preserved. The Federal government should have taken control of overall operations, while leaving BP in charge of leak control. Instead, it appears that the perpetrator was left in control of his own crime scene for several days….potentially allowing BP to get rid of evidence, tamper with evidence, to turn off cameras, lie or mislead others about the amount of the spillage (because they had/have a financial interest in doing so), and potentially get rid of documents, delete files, and encourage workers not to talk to the media and perhaps even investigators. This is basically the equivalent of police detectives allowing a murder suspect to stay behind and control his own crime scene days after the killing. It makes no sense and it doesn’t happen like this anywhere in the civilized world outside of the realm of corporations. A crime scene in the real world is secured immediately, evidence is preserved just as it was after the incident…or to the degree that this is possible, documents/records are collected and witnesses are identified and separated. This is standard operating procedure. In this situation, the suspect has fewer opportunities to collude, develop a good lie, or to get rid of evidence. Why should we behave any differently when dealing with a corporation like BP? Clearly they are just as capable of doing harm and engaging in serious, outrageous criminal activity as any other organization, group or individual.

Dear President Obama - Every Now and Then Americans Like to See a Glimpse of John Wayne in Their Leaders

I have also been dismayed by President Obama. Although this is not his Katrina….his response and his ability to muster resources has left a lot to be desired. Obama should have called for more tankers and should have put more resources on containment boom duty. There should have been a call for volunteers and more boats. There is no reason why oil should have been coming ashore in areas where containment boom was sitting unattended on docks and where boats and other resources were not being used, as was the case in Southern Louisiana over the past couple of weeks. There is no reason why oil is still coming ashore while there is no robust containment effort underway to stop it. We are talking about an event that provided 3, 4, 5 weeks notice that an oil slick was probably going to be threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. He should have addressed the nation from the White House, and explained to the American people exactly what the problem was and what his plan of attack was going to be…and he should have marshaled resources….in part by mobilizing the American public by telling them what he needed them to do. If he would have done that weeks ago… we would have had an armada of boats, ships and an army of volunteers in the Gulf, on top of what we already have. Instead, he has gone on trips, has been on Democratic fund-raisers, and has been focused on all sorts of other mundane issues. To the American people, it looks like he’s not connected with what is going on. He certainly isn’t very good at creating a sense of urgency for certain things…this event has been a perfect example.

Even if he is connected…the point is, he doesn’t look like it. The Gulf disaster has really highlighted the weakness in PR that he has been dealing with even before he became President. This PR problem is something that I pointed out a couple of years ago… now everyone can see it. It’s exposed like an open sore. I know there are thousands of people working in the Gulf…and there are hundreds of Coast Guard folks working… but the cameras aren’t showing enough of that, at least they weren’t showing it in the first few weeks of the disaster. This allowed Republicans to run with a narrative that suggested that he wasn’t doing enough. Controlling perception can be as much as 50% of the job for a political figure. The best President in the World can fail if his PR is no good. On the contrary, an idiot can convince a nation to jump into a war that it doesn’t need, as long as he has a powerful and effective PR machine behind him. And there are/have been many examples of these kinds of leaders around the World. President Obama’s political advisers have been doing a horrible job of controlling their message, keeping Obama engaged, and understanding what Americans are feeling.

I also agree that Obama has not been forceful or passionate enough during this crisis. Yes, I criticized the Bush Administration for its cowboy diplomacy and for having a John Wayne approach to everything. But the keyword here is “everything”. The Texas Cowboy President being on duty all the time and the oversimplification of issues just doesn’t work. However, there is a large part of America that does want to see a take charge, John Wayne, ass kicking kind of man in its Presidents on occasion…. and always has. Even Progressives like to see this in their Presidents (don’t let them tell you they don’t). George Washington had it. Abe Lincoln had it. FDR showed it in his speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor. JFK showed his John Wayne during the Cuban missile crisis (although I - and several experts- would have rather seen another approach). Reagan showed it when he told Libya to go to Hell…and dropped bombs when they didn’t do what he asked them to. George H.W. Bush showed his John Wayne when he yelled at Saddam Hussein… demanding that he get the Hell out of Kuwait or he was going to insert his foot in a very sensitive place. (H.W. Bush didn't literally say that last part of course, but his visceral emotion said it...and that's the point). These are the kinds of flickers of anger and strength and visceral emotion that every strong President has to have and should be prepared to show. There is just no way around it. And when Americans don’t see it…. When they don’t see you as their vessel for expressing their feelings to the rest of the world, you appear disconnected. Americans want a man who feels deeply…but who is strong…. Or can at least appear so… like John Wayne in the classic film “The Longest Day” (still one of my favorite war movies… have seen it at least 7 times… but I never get tired of watching it). The point is… Americans like to see a strong leader….a take charge kind of a man. Not someone who doesn’t show glimpses of anger and who is fund-raising in the middle of a national catastrophe.

Obama still has time to get it together. All is not lost. Attorney General Eric Holder has just announced a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the spill (although the announcement came several weeks late IMO). His advisers (many of whom should be replaced) finally got the message to him…. Or he figured it out for himself.. that he needs to be more hands on with the Gulf disaster. He has learned that he needs to “appear” more engaged…regardless of what he has been doing behind the scenes in some obscure Situation Room. Americans don’t know much about that mundane stuff…and they frankly don’t care. What they want to see is a man who appears on top of the situation. And in America…that means being on the scene…. early and often. Running the Country is not like running a law firm or being an academic in Chicago or Cambridge Massachusetts.

P.S. You can check out "The Longest Day" online.... I believe the whole movie will play. (Love that film).

Nice Sounds From Mixcloud

Will add to sidebar.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

PBS Frontline Documentary - Flying Cheap

See an excellent PBS documentary highlighting how the airlines, via regional carriers, are cutting corners. This is why I don't fly. Yet another example of unchecked free market capitalism.... like Massey and BP. The pattern always seems to be the same.

Vast Majority of Americans Can't Name a Single Supreme Court Justice

Nearly two-thirds of Americans were unable to name one member of the U.S. Supreme Court in a new poll by Only one-third could name one justice. Practically none were able to name all 9. See more details.

This is why I always mention that America is screwed. Americans seem to lack the basic concept of civics and understanding government. This is just the latest example of why we need more civics education in this Country. But I have a feeling that the politicians like it this way. They like the idea of a poorly informed electorate. Look at what you can do with a poorly informed electorate... just look at Faux News and the Tea Party nonsense.

Hell, I can name all 9. I guess that makes me some sort of geek. Even if my brain is foggy, I can name the majority of justices - 6 or 7 - with no problem.

This is why the majority of Americans don't get upset about Miranda rules being eroded, or an immigration law in Arizona that is legally marginal at best.... nefarious at worst, and likely unconstitutional (even with the changes made to the law by Arizona politicians as a way to dodge legal challenges).

This is one of the main reasons why i'm always disgusted with the state of American politics, and the general apathy & lack of awareness of citizens.

St. Louis Is Out of Control - When Will Blacks Stop Blaming Whites for This Insanity?

The National Guard Should Have Been Called Up a Long Time Ago.

This is just a glimpse of the daily chaos gripping the City (mostly its Black North Side). It's the same thing every year.. particularly when we get warm weather. The urban terrorists also wreak havoc in the Northern suburbs. They are even branching out to the Southern burbs where I live. A brutal home invasion took place in my neck of the woods just a few weeks ago. The victims were beaten nearly to death...left for dead.

Officer Ambushed & Shot 8 Times in Broad Daylight.

Attention Tea Party Nuts - Where Were You During The Bush Administrations Financial Mismanagement?

Source: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The New Republic has a great commentary on the Tea Party budget myth. The above chart puts debt and deficit in clearer context. Stated here a million times...

Deepwater Horizon Workers Blowing the Whistle on BP & Affiliates

Excellent 60 Minutes Segment

Part I

Part II

From Workers Describe Failures on Rig Before Explosion

Yet another example of unchecked free market capitalism. There is a clear pattern here (and it gets to the core of why I despise the private sector, corporate culture... corporate greed, don't trust corporations, etc). All of this bad behavior by corporations shares a common theme regardless of industry -- greed and the lack of adequate regulation. The right wing anti-regulation message is crushed over and over, yet Republicans are allowed to control the narrative. The debate about regulation should be over. Each one of these incidents should provide a clear contrast between those who support a strong role for government, particularly in terms of regulation, and those who support unchecked free market capitalism, where corporations are allowed to run wild, lie, commit fraud, etc. The choice should be an easy one. Yet the Republicans and their PR machine, act as if facts and the moral arguments are on their side. Unbelievable! And the media goes right along with the charade... acting as if this is a debate where both sides have equally strong and logical points (when this is so obviously not the case, lol).

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Good Riddance to Artur Davis

In case you don't know, Congressman Artur Davis lost in his bid to be the Democratic Party's nominee for Governor of Alabama.

He got whupped.

He lost 62% - 38 %.


Yes, I said GOOD.

Davis was a candidate that thought he could spit all over the Black constituency, as he begged for White votes, and that Black folks would just ' understand'.

What else do you say about a candidate, who, from his election into Congress, never served the interests of his constituents?