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Monday, November 30, 2009

The Arabs Have Stopped Applauding Obama

I wonder what this is about?
'He talks too much," a Saudi academic in Jeddah, who had once been smitten with Barack Obama, recently observed to me of America's 44th president. He has wearied of Mr. Obama and now does not bother with the Obama oratory.

He is hardly alone, this academic. In the endless chatter of this region, and in the commentaries offered by the press, the theme is one of disappointment. In the Arab-Islamic world, Barack Obama has come down to earth.

He has not made the world anew, history did not bend to his will, the Indians and Pakistanis have been told that the matter of Kashmir is theirs to resolve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same intractable clash of two irreconcilable nationalisms, and the theocrats in Iran have not "unclenched their fist," nor have they abandoned their nuclear quest.

There is little Mr. Obama can do about this disenchantment. He can't journey to Turkey to tell its Islamist leaders and political class that a decade of anti-American scapegoating is all forgiven and was the product of American policies—he has already done that. He can't journey to Cairo to tell the fabled "Arab street" that the Iraq war was a wasted war of choice, and that America earned the malice that came its way from Arab lands—he has already done that as well. He can't tell Muslims that America is not at war with Islam—he, like his predecessor, has said that time and again.
...
Steeped in an overarching idea of American guilt, Mr. Obama and his lieutenants offered nothing less than a doctrine, and a policy, of American penance. No one told Mr. Obama that the Islamic world, where American power is engaged and so dangerously exposed, it is considered bad form, nay a great moral lapse, to speak ill of one's own tribe when in the midst, and in the lands, of others.
...
Mr. Obama could not make up his mind: He was at one with "the people" and with the rulers who held them in subjugation. The people of Iran who took to the streets this past summer were betrayed by this hapless diplomacy—Mr. Obama was out to "engage" the terrible rulers that millions of Iranians were determined to be rid of.

On Nov. 4, on the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran, the embattled reformers, again in the streets, posed an embarrassing dilemma for American diplomacy: "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," they chanted. By not responding to these cries and continuing to "engage" Tehran's murderous regime, his choice was made clear. It wasn't one of American diplomacy's finest moments.

Mr. Obama has himself to blame for the disarray of his foreign policy. American arms had won a decent outcome in Iraq, but Mr. Obama would not claim it—it was his predecessor's war. Vigilance had kept the American homeland safe from terrorist attacks for seven long years under his predecessors, but he could never grant Bush policies the honor and credit they deserved. He had declared Afghanistan a war of necessity, but he seems to have his eye on the road out even as he is set to announce a troop increase in an address to be delivered tomorrow.
So the thesis of this op/ed is to say that Obama has great difficulty trying to take sides. At that, he seems to want to be universally acclaimed by friend and foe a like. And even more, he seems very willing to throw the successes of the previous administration under the bus because before he won the presidency he knew that regime was proven unpopular.

What do you think? Do you think the President is nothing more than a much smoother waffler?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I remember the Bozo show

On the morning of Thanksgiving when normally I would either be watching Jerry Springer, Hawaii Five-0, or even Steve Wilkos there was a special on the Bozo show on WGN. It was very good seeing the evolution of a classic Chicago produced children's program. I would have had no idea there were two Bozo's as I watched the program during it's waning years.

In fact on mornings before I went to school I would often have the TV on WGN and watch "Bozo's Circus". Thankfully I often had the luxury of not having very far to go when it was time for me to be in class. More often than not I was late, however, it may well have been that I wasn't very enthusiastic about school in those days. Daytime TV was more often than not a treat to enjoy especially since more often that not I was going to school.

Sometimes I miss these more children's oriented programming that aired in the mornings or the afternoons during the week. Things change unfortunately and as a result these days we see more news, talk shows, court shows, or even reruns on any given time during the day. Some of that seems almost like pollution with no given value to the viewer other than something to watch. I would especially direct that statement toward the talk and court shows as in the past decade there has been a proliferation of such programming.

Bozo was funny but the humor just wasn't doing it for me anymore at some point. Cartoons well I miss those the most whether it was WGN or FOX 32. You don't really see either Looney Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, Popeye, or even Tom & Jerry anymore. I don't even watch Cartoon Network if they even have those programs on the schedule.

All this to say that while there are those who can go WAY back with what used to be on TV during the day, I've witnessed the tail end of those days. Sometimes times do change, and it's often a good thing. At the same time I long for the days where I could watch those programs during the day that I used to enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dump the dollar! Buy gold!

You know I have been seeing more of these commercials lately urging us to invest in more Gold, especially on Fox but that's not exactly the only place you can find them. You might see a commercial with either G. Gordon Liddy or Dan Florek (you might know him from Law & Order as Capt. Don Cragen).

Anyway this article is about Chris Pia, this article talks a lot about his background in trading and then offer's his picks on both the US Dollar and Gold:
The dollar: Down 10% vs. euro

Pia predicts that the dollar will take a double hit: First, China and other Asian exporters to the U.S. are already maxed out on dollar reserves from the ever-rising sales of their exports and the interest on the Treasuries they've been buying with their dollars. In addition, those exporters will diversify into gold and the euro as they fret about U.S. inflation.

Gold: To $1,300+ an ounce

Pia now sees gold as a smart play during both market crises and booms when investors think stocks are overvalued. Other drivers include central banks' decreasing their dollars as a reserve currency in favor of bullion (as India did in early November), and gold's populist appeal: "Joe Investor understands gold much better than, say, IBM stock."

Oil: $70 - $100 a barrel

Cheap oil no longer equals a healthy economy: "Oil now goes up with stocks, and prices rise with growth," says Pia. He predicts that oil will swing between $70 and $100 a barrel, so investors should buy it toward the low end of that range and exit as soon as prices hit triple digits. "At $100," says Pia, "rig and pipeline construction booms. New oil supply comes out of the woodwork, and prices fall sharply."
I added oil just because. I hope that I can own some gold. Well there are many that hopes that the US Government will once again adopt the gold standard. Even better, I think I should be able to make purchases with gold. We'll see.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Most effective President

I was watching this 10 year old C-Span video of a call-in segment where callers who discuss who they believed was the most effective President. This was sort of a conclusion to a series where C-Span explores the lives and careers of the 41 Presidents of the United States. In fact you can visit their website @ http://www.americanpresidents.org/. There you can see most of the segments and this series was produced before the end of the Clinton Administration thus there are no programs for Presidents Bush and Obama's presidency is so young, yet!

The answers from callers ran the gamut from Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln (but, of course), George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson or Richard Nixon. Those answers weren't very bad answers, btw. In fact I would agree with most of them.

My answer, well most of the Presidents of my lifetime I couldn't necessarily see as very effective. I don't think Clinton was very effective. George W. Bush was probably more effective especially in terms of national defense and the fight against terrorism, but he wasn't without his problems. I know a lot of people like Reagan, but he also wasn't without his problems. He may have spurred economic growth and took the fight to the Soviet Union, but it's difficult for me to place it's eventual downfall as a result of his policies.

Nixon as one caller mentioned was effective, however he also wasn't without his problems. Those problems may have lead to his downfall in the middle of his second term. But he was pretty good in diplomacy especially in seeking relations with Communist China. Who knows Nixon's skills are missed in terms of figuring out how to deal with Muslim nations and on the situation in Afghanistan as things are heating up once again in that nation.

And finally let's point to Lyndon Johnson. He was very effective in domestic policy, whether you agree with it or not. He got a lot of things done in that area, however, his problems were in the area of military policy and foreign affairs. President Johnson before he left the Presidency was unable to secure the peace in Vietnam. It seems Vietnamese Communists were some very resilient adversaries and it wasn't so easy to defeat them. Any president who might have had to deal with them might have been kept up late at night by any persistent fighting. So whatever accomplishment Johnson might have had in domestic policy, it was sort of shoved aside by his activities in Vietnam.

Who do you think was the most effective President?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

China cold open: Obama gets blasted by SNL



I saw this on Washington Journal this morning (or was it C-Span Newsmakers?) either way they showed this from last night's episode of SNL. This is kind of a slam at the cliche that we're only owing China more money for our debt. Especially since the current administration is spending money on stimulus and seeking to take on the health care system.

On finances in the states

Almost a week ago I ran across this Wall Street Journal column at Instapundit regarding the dire straits of state finances in both Michigan and California. Both of those states have well reported problems. In Michigan we see some evidence of how well that state is doing by looking in part at Detroit as we did on Friday.

I wasn't going to excerpt, but let's look at California:
As of July 2009, California's budget shortfall was 49.3% of its general funds. States have considered drastic options to fill such gaps.

"I looked as hard as I could at how states could declare bankruptcy," said Michael Genest, director of the California Department of Finance who is stepping down at the end of the year. "I literally looked at the federal constitution to see if there was a way for states to return to territory status."

There were no bankruptcy options, and the legislature chose to cut back sharply on education and health care to fill the gap. Mr. Genest already predicts the 2011 shortfall will outpace the projected $7 billion gap. It is a smaller deficit than this year's gap, but the choices will be more difficult because so many cuts have already been made.

Mr. Genest estimated that, eventually, 40% of the state's budget would go to the state Medicaid program, 40% to education, 10% to debt service and 6% to retiree medical services and pension—leaving little left for anything else, such as the state's corrections system.
You know I've heard this a lot of states are putting a lot of money into Medicaid or Medicare and it's literally eating budgets.

What about Michigan:
Mr. Bean described a similarly depressing scenario for Michigan, which could end the recession with 25% fewer jobs than in June 2000 and a total of one million job losses. Michigan's unemployment rate in September was 15.3%.

He suggested that strict term limits often lead to political gridlock that prevents large-scale changes, such as overhauling the tax code so it is broad-based with lower tax rates. Mr. Bean said lawmakers will likely have to trim the budget at least 12.5% this year after closing a $2.8 billion gap last year.

"Citizens don't quite understand yet the implications of some of the cuts that we've made," Mr. Bean said. "A lot of it has fallen on local governments. I am very concerned that we're going to have a lot of insolvencies in local governments."
Via Newsalert there was a Rasmussen report on how New Yorkers view their budget deficit:
New York voters aren’t very optimistic about the financial solvency of their state, but they're also sending their elected representatives mixed signals. They oppose budget cuts in a couple key areas but are against tax hikes even more.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds that 56% of voters say it is at least somewhat likely that New York will be bankrupt by the end of the year. Twenty-one percent (21%) say it is very likely.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) believe that outcome is unlikely, but only nine percent (9%) say it is not at all likely.

An overwhelming 81% of say the bigger problem in New York State today is not that voters are unwilling to pay enough in taxes but that politicians are unwilling to control government spending. Just eight percent (8%) think the bigger problem is voter unwillingness to pay enough taxes.
Sometimes it's great to look at what other states are doing to work with this current economic environment. There are some states who are managing better than others, but it's also important to note the political conditions.

We see some evidence of that in Michigan, term limits lead to gridlock according to that state's finance director. In California, it may be state leader's unwillingness to do anything about their generous public pensions.

To be sure public pensions are an issue here. Illinois is either too generous with the pensions or it's underfunded. Of course that's not the only issue here. The bottom line is politicos this could be any state or even in the Federal government are unwilling to make the very difficult decisions.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

This evening we're going to vicariously take another trip to Detroit. We've been taking momentary journeys there as of late this year since I paid a visit to this struggling city this past summer. In addition to that we've looked at the politics of the city although recently we haven't taken a very close look at Detroit politics.

In Chicago there has been a debate over the transport of dead bodies, but Detroit has the problem of unclaimed corpses:
The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied to each toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezer in Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of a wardrobe.

Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.

“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”

Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.
Hmmm, they used to have pauper graves don't they. For those who can't afford the services of an undertaker:
Then in June, the $21,000 annual county budget to bury Detroit’s unclaimed bodies ran out. Until then, if a family confirmed that they could not afford to lay a loved one to rest, Wayne County — in which Detroit sits — would, for $700, bury the body in a rough pine casket at a nearby cemetery, under a marker.

Darrell Vickers had to identify his aunt at the mortuary in September but he could not afford to bury her as he was unemployed. When his grandmother recently died, Mr Vickers’s father paid for her cremation, but with a credit card at 21 per cent interest. He said at the time it was “devastating” to not be able to bury his aunt.

What has alarmed medical examiners at the mortuary is that most of the dead died of natural causes. It is evidence, they believe, of people who could not afford medical insurance and medicines and whose families can now not afford to bury them.
That last paragraph. Making a case for universal health care? We're living in some unusual times, ultimately they will get better. Economic cycles are cyclical, even though Detroit has been struggling for years. Even then times weren't this difficult where a municipality or a government hasn't been able to bury bodies of people who are unable to afford the services of an undertaker.

Hat-tip Newsalert!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts upon watching author T.R. Reid on C-Span this morning



That segment lasted close to 45 minutes on Washington Journal this morning was certainly thought provoking. Health care was the hot debate starting in the summer and it's still hotly debate as the US Senate is to take on this subject after the House of Representatives passed a bill in an historical vote close to two weeks ago.

I've come to my own conclusions regarding health-care based on merely my own needs and perhaps something that is generally accepted. My own need is that I have no problem paying out of pocket for a check-up. That is I should be able to spend my money to go to a regular physician, dentist, or optometrist. Another thing that is generally accepted by the public at large or experts is that we need to find a way to lower costs in the health care system.

In general, I'm opposed to universal health care or the public option or even any kind of plan that involves government paying for health care. But it's not too hard to disagree with T.R. Reid in his new bookThe Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care, about health care to say that perhaps the American system of health care is disjointed.

See we operate mainly on a system of private health care similar to what may exist in France in Germany. We also operate a system similar to that which exist in Cuba or United Kingdom (UK). We also operate a system that exist in Canada. Finally we also have a system similar to what exists in third-world nations such as India.

What does this all mean? Well France and Germany mainly have a system of private healthcare or insurance. In Cuba or UK the system is primarily provided by the government and you get no bill, with that in mind you would have to be a veteran to have that type of system.

If you're 65 and older and you get Medicare then you have a system similar to what you get in Canada. That is there are private hospitals, but the government provides the insurance. So apparently while there are those who want the Canadian healthcare system replicated here, it already does just for the elderly. The difference is that there are those who want that for everybody.

Finally if you can only utilize a public hospital for care or otherwise have to pay out of pocket for care then you have a system similar to what exists in a nation such as India, which is considered a developing nation. It may well determine the type of care you recieve which is whether or not you can pay. If you are poor and you can't afford the care, then there's a good chance you'll go without.

In watching that portion of Washington Journal with T.R. Reid, well I came to a conclusion. I'm not certain it's his, but I should beg the question. Perhaps our system isn't working very well because it's so disjointed. Perhaps instead of one health care system we have four or we have 50. Every state has their own regulation for health care. This could be a reason why health care for many is so expensive, and you have callers to C-Span this morning talking about their experiences with health insurance.

That is some patients have lost their health insurance. Insurance companies sit on critical paperwork that causes some patients to not receive their necessary treatment. Or even the often stated refrain that some patients have died or suffered needlessly because they couldn't afford to get treatment earlier for their symptoms.

I know I said a mouthful, but this morning T.R. Reid talked about those things and there were other issues at play. Such as lowering costs by reducing tuition for medical school. It seems like a bit of an economics problem when you think about it. How does reducing the cost of a medical education for aspiring doctors contribute to the cost of healthcare?

Either way at the very least while Reid doesn't rule out universal health care. What he seeks is a solution that is more affordable. It could be a government provided universal health care system or a mostly private insurance system. He suggested Japan as an example of a good private insurance system with the main idea being that prices are very low there.

Reid suggests that we should consider taking the best ideas from around the world to make a better system here. It may not be smart to hold steadfast to oppose any health care reform because of the fears of any type of government takeover of health care. But what is necessary is to know that there are problems with the system as it exists currently. What is prudent here is to take the best ideas from those places that have provided health care in the best way.

Besides in Reid's book, he dedicated it to President Eisenhower. Eisenhower, who was a five-star Army General during the Second World War, saw the the system of highways (autobahn) built by the Germans. The Germans provided a template for the Interstate highway system that was built in earnest during the Eisenhower administration. Reid's purpose he says was defensive. To deflect criticism onto him that him using other health care systems around the world is somehow "un-American". At the same time the Interstate highway system wasn't entirely an American invention.

Finally, I have no problem with the idea of health care as a commodity. It seems the emphasis with T. R. Reid was to remove profit and I don't necessarily agree with that. Besides the best doctors should be rewarded if they do the best job for their patients. What I don't disagree with is that there has to be ways to lower costs and make the cost of health care more affordable for the patients.

I would recommend his book, but I have to buy it and read it first. Before rejecting any of his arguments I would like to give them some though and attempt to get some understanding of some of the world's health care systems. Reid does say that members of Congress are reading his book, but he says that his book has NO policy impact. And that's reflected in the health care bills that are currently under debate in Congress currently.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Mississippi HBCUs could be consolidated

This is news! Alcorn State and Jackson State Universities are rather well known HBCUs. Can't really say that about Mississippi Valley State (MSVU), the only thing I know about that school is that I have two relatives as alumnus from that school.

This almost reminds me of a story out of Georgia, where the state government there wanted to merge public HBCUs not with other public HBCUs, but with other more majority public universities. Unfortunately it's just the sign of the times state governments are stuggling right now. Some states are doing better than others, but in those that aren't doing well, they have to consider consolidating services or cutting them.

That's what was going on in Georgia and Mississippi. The thing is in this article there may be some serious opposition from Alcorn Alumni at least. This story however indicates that these three aforementioned HBCUs will be merged amongst each other. It looks like Jackson State University may have satelite campuses that consist of Alcorn and MSVU campuses. It's just that those two universities will likely have to give up their individual identity, they will no longer have their individual athletic programs.

With Jackson State however, there is one benefit for them:
[Miss. Gov. Haley] Barbour said the mergers will also elevate Jackson State as a premier historically black college and urban university.
But what would that say about Alcorn and MVSU? What about those communities that surround those universities? Jackson State may benefit by acquiring scholars from those other schools and the works of those scholars. Perhaps there will be an increase in enrollment for Jackson State University because what was once three choices is now one. I can't say for certain.

It can be said that some alumni will have some problem with this proposal in spite of this environment:
Although the governor said it will save millions of dollars for the state, some Alcorn students past and present said it'll destroy a priceless legacy. Lawmakers would have to approve the governor's plan to merge the schools before it happens. The governor said the plan may not be popular, but it's necessary to help balance the 2011 budget as revenues continue to fall. "It would be like stripping us of part of our culture and out heritage and our camaraderie," said Alcorn graduate John Smith.

Smith graduated from ASU in 1999. He was a football player. He said news of merger upset him.

"That would kill the legacies left behind by the Steve McNairs, the Walter Peytons, the Issac Holts, the Jerry Rices," Smith said.
...
Universities that could be affected responded to the news.

"The Alcorn State University National Alumni Association will vehemently oppose any proposal that will include the merger of our beloved Alcorn State University," said ASU National Alumni Association president James McDonald.

"We will fight against merger and closure and will work to secure the funding and support necessary to keep it independent and healthy while honoring its mission," said Friends of the W.
The choices states have to make in this environment. Especially in terms of financial viability. This will have to be either cut or consolidated. There would be much help from Uncle Same right now. As a result three historic Black colleges may have their futures altered thanks to this current financial environment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Southern Avenger - Selective "Hate"


Do some people treat one ideology as more dangerous than others? That's what the Southern Avenger attempts to explore. Bouncing off of the shooting from Ft. Hood, Texas Army Base.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Michael Scott, President of the Chicago School Board, commits suicide

This morning I fired up my PC and found some horrible news about Michael Scott. He had been found dead in the Chicago River near the Merchandise Mart this morning. In February, Scott was re-appointed as President of the Chicago Board of Education. He also held that title from 2001 to 2006

At first via Chicago Breaking News, the report was that Scott was tentatively identified as the body that was pulled out of the Chicago River (excerpted accordingly at The 6th's Blog). It was also reported that his Cadillac was parked in that area and his cell phone was used to trace the late school board president. I could have only hoped that it wasn't him, but the evidence reported in the media seems very clear.

An autopsy reported that Scott has committed suicide. A gun was found near his body as well only confirming the worst about what happened.

Now when I found this out I thought one of two things foul play or suicide. I hoped neither and that he may have been around somewhere, because the other conclusions would be troubling.

Being a public official as Scott has been is certainly a pressure cooker to say the least. Right now a lot of people are speculating on what troubled Scott. Was it corruption in city politics or were there trouble at the city schools that had him depressed?

I get the idea at this moment that we may never know what caused him to take his own life. Hopefully we'll know more in the coming days about what led up to his suicide. It wouldn't surprise me that his family will talk about any depression that he may have had and bring further awareness. It also shouldn't surprise me that he may have talked about some things that may have trouble him about Chicago politics and the behind the scenes issues at the public schools.

My thoughts are with his family for whatever led up to this. I also know seeing some tweets on this subject (largely posted at The 6th's Twitter). There will be a lot of speculation some of it not very truthful or even downright horrible. But I expect that we will know more in the near future or at least I hope so.

BTW, I was working on this post over the weekend regarding a mother's fight to transfer a son to another school. This young man was attending Fenger High School and his mother kept him at home for three weeks, especially in light of incidents that could have been troublesome for him. Well this news puts this on the backburner!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Charles Payne visits his old Manhattan neighborhood


Visits with radio & TV personality Glenn Beck (he just so happens to be on FOX News Channel). Charles Payne is a frequent guest on FOX's Glenn Beck show and yesterday Beck and Payne visited Harlem where Payne grew up. Payne talked a lot about his young life and how he wanted to be a businessman, a vision not shared by his peers and they made him suffer for it. Of course one can only wonder where his peers are today.

Well he shouldn't have to waste time on it. He's on TV and has his own business so take that to those of you who decided to make his life difficult because he had his own vision divergent from Payne's. Believe it or not it's a story you hear about, young people from the ghetto has visions of going to college and making it in life.

At the same time you have to deal with people who have great uncertainty about their own lives that they aren't able to imagine that anyone has a positive vision for where they want to go. So they may make fun of you for doing what it takes to be successful. I've heard that people were made fun of for making excellent grades, speaking proper English. Beating someone up for that is an extreme, but it shouldn't surprise me because there are those who are into intimidation.

In Charles Payne's case he was happy to have gotten a briefcase as a gift and someone decided to bust it open. Does this make sense to anyone? Someone who knew him did that probably. It could've been an accident, but also out of "hate". That being who does he think he is with that briefcase!

The one aspect of this video I want to address is at 4:35 into this video where he talks about voting for Obama out of obligation for Civil Rights heros such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, or Medgar Evers. Then expresses his disappointment in President Obama.

I'm much younger than Payne and I don't have a great connection with the Civil Rights movement and who knows it would have influence me if I did have that connection. However, it forced me to confront why I chose not to cast a ballot for the President last November. Would it be right to cast a ballot for those Civil Rights leaders? Would it be an insult to them if I voted for someone who I felt wasn't "qualified" to be President?

I put qualified in quotes because I'm putting my own spin on it. Obama fits the general requirements for the presidency (although some may still believe the controversy over his birth certificate), but for me I wanted to see a little more than his time as a community organizer, a state Senator, or even a very brief time in the US Senate. I wanted some indication of leadership experience that I wasn't seeing from Obama, even if he was leading a winning Presidential campaign. Not sure that takes much leadership if you got a great team around you.

I believe that before he ran for the Presidency he was the chair of a foreign policy sub-committee that had never held a hearing. That could've been some leadership experience but sadly he neglected that one possibility. Of course we couldn't have known that at the time. He generated a certain excitement that may not have been seen in politics for a long time and he's still generate a certain passion either in support of him or opposed to him. Although it seems the passion is opposed to him.

Either way, I didn't want to vote for him based on this dream of a black President. I wanted to vote for the best man for the job and I felt that Obama wasn't it, but don't get me wrong there were some things I admired about him. I admired that he generated some passion towards him and had charisma the ability to draw people to him. That wasn't enough for me to vote for him, but it certainly wasn't seen by me as a negative.

Of course I feel more justified in that opinion. He has another 3 years to turn things around and I'm not certain that he can. But no one can say that I or others who may not have been certain about what he'd do as President didn't give him a chance.

BTW, when you get the chance you should watch Beck's program geared towards Black Conservatives that aired yesterday. I would also refer you to another Beck segment filmed in Harlem where he talks to a Black Marine who believes that Obama is unfit to be Commander in Chief.

Friday, November 13, 2009

State's Attorney wrongly takes on student journalist

Hmmm, there was trouble I thought last year when she was on the cable access TV program Public Affairs she said that no one should buy guns and that we're safer without them. She was mentioned in a recent article regarding an Illinois Supreme Court ruling about having guns in your car. She really doesn't trust people with guns.

Today she turns her attention to Northwestern University journalism students:
The story involves Anthony McKinney, who has been in prison for more than 30 years for gunning down a security guard.

McKinney wants his freedom, arguing he's innocent, based on evidence gathered by journalism students at the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University.

Alvarez wants all the students' notes and materials, as well as their class grades, to see if they skewed their reporting for better grades.

Her prosecutors also allege the students paid for witness statements, an allegation the young journalists firmly deny.

But Alvarez is guilty of trying to do an end run around a key right for reporters.

In Illinois, there's the Illinois Reporter's Privilege Act. Because of the act, a prosecutor must jump through several high hoops before a judge will allow access to a reporter's source materials.
She a Latina woman who was the first to be elected Cook County States Attorney. She had two things going for her if no one was really impressed by her background as a prosecutor for the Cook County State's Attorney. She was a woman and a Latino. That works for a lot of people especially if they want to see more Latinos or women in offices like these.

Unfortunately one wonders if she just realized the powers of her office and is a little to eager to use them.

Via CapFax morning shorts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SNL on FOX News


SNL having fun at FOX News' expense. Not the first time, but it certainly won't be the last. Especially since FOX News Channel is easily identified as a right-wing, conservative, Republican leaning media outlet.

I know I'm behind the curve on this one. This has been the talk since this aired last Saturday. Bill O'Reilly talked about this on his program on Monday I believe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day November 2009 in DC



From Reason. Showing our World War 2 veteran taking a tour of the memorials in Washington, DC thanks to a group called Honor Flight. Honor Flight flies elderly veterans and terminally ill veterans to Washington free of charge. Many of them may have had their last trip away from home!

Happy Veteran's Day for all of our veterans and thanks for your courage!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Klotkin: Obama Still Can Save His Presidency

Joel Klotkin in five parts points on how Obama can save his presidency. One good piece of advice is to get away from Chicago-style politics. But it's much deeper than that, although I have to wonder if Obama is willing to take on most of those points. Will he pursue natural gas and go against his "green" advisors?

I'm not sure I have a lot of faith in that.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Obama & the economy

Graphic to the left found via Exurban League with a link to a report regarding the nationwide unemployment rate. So that's what that graphic represents. That link is to a CNN story ironically.
The nation's unemployment rate rose above 10% for the first time since 1983 in October, a much worse jump than expected as employers continued to trim jobs from payrolls.

The reading, reported by the government Friday, is a sign of the continued weakness in the labor market even though the economy grew in the third quarter following the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

The government reported that the unemployment rate spiked to 10.2%, up from 9.8% in September. It is the highest that this rate has been since April 1983. Economists had forecast an increase to 9.9%.

There was also a net loss of 190,000 jobs in October, according to the Labor Department, an improvement from a revised estimate of 219,000 job losses in September. However, economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of only 175,000 jobs in October. This was the 22nd straight month of job losses.
The green economy hasn't provided much opportunity according to this story from the Washington Post:
In Baltimore, the 300 block of East 23 1/2 Street is getting patched up in time for winter. One economic stimulus program is paying to insulate 11 rental rowhouses, another is paying for furnaces and a third is covering the cost for reflective roofs to be installed by prison inmates in a job-training program.

The block is part of one of the biggest initiatives ever undertaken by the federal government, a nationwide push to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. But as the national unemployment rate crosses into the double digits and Republicans question the stimulus program's impact, the work on East 23 1/2 -- even with all of its activity -- has so far not produced a single job.

Nine months after Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus package, there is little tangible to show for one of its biggest single areas of investment, the $25 billion energy-efficiency effort. That points to one of the central tensions of President Obama's landmark stimulus package: His goal was to inject money quickly into the economy while at the same time laying the groundwork for his broader, transformational agenda on energy, education and health care.

Officials overseeing the energy-efficiency effort want to fundamentally alter the way the country uses energy. They are trying to craft initiatives that will produce real savings to build the case for continued private or public investment. And they are putting safeguards in place to avoid any spending scandals that could tarnish the effort.

All this deliberation comes with a tradeoff: The full force of the spending will likely not be felt until well into next year, potentially undermining the job-creating aim of the stimulus.
Another article suggesting that Obama's stimulus has failed:
Since the $787 billion stimulus was passed in February, the economy has lost 2.9 million jobs - for a total of 4.3 million since the end of 2008. The silver lining, some say, is the number of jobs lost each month is shrinking. But they lose sight of this: There's no guarantee the economy's 3.5% growth in the third quarter will continue.

Indeed, some worry the economy is on a slow-growth path that will lead to permanently high joblessness, weaker income growth and fewer opportunities. The Blue Chip consensus of more than 50 economists nationwide expects unemployment to remain above 8% at least into 2012.

Why should this be? Well, start with the fact that virtually all job growth comes from companies with fewer than 500 employees, and that startups and very small businesses are responsible for more than half of all new jobs.

Today, these entrepreneurial job creators are running scared. That the White House vows to jack up taxes on those with "high incomes" (that is, entrepreneurs) is one reason why. Next year's scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts that pulled the economy out of the 2001 recession is another.

Higher income taxes, a flood of stiff new regulations and the possibility of at least $2 trillion in new taxes related to cap-and-trade and a health care overhaul over the next decade have created a climate of uncertainty - for small and large businesses alike.

Businesses are hunkered down. They have $1 trillion in cash stashed away, but they won't invest out of fear it'll be taxed away or some government czar will tell them how to run their business.
And now for the final point, that this is now Obama's economy!
Fast forward. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment figures for October 2009. The official rate was 10.2 percent, up more than 50 percent from the time Obama gave that speech. Oops, nevermind.

(By the way, the underemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who want to work full time and those who’ve given up searching, is a staggering 17.5 percent.)

Job creation has dropped from top priority to one of many, and President Obama has been remanded to pandering for patience and offering excuses. On the one hand, he argues the tortured rationale that there is good news in the awful numbers: Things are still getting worse but at a slower pace. On the other, he incessantly reminds us that he inherited the crisis. The implication: Don’t blame me, blame Bush.

But this president can’t keep deflecting to the last one. Pain is presently felt. The crisis that took form on Bush’s watch is being experienced on Obama’s. Fair or not, finger-pointing is not effective policy.

This is now Obama’s crisis, and it carries political consequences. During Tuesday’s gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, nearly 9 in 10 voters said that they were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy in the next year. And the majority of those who held that view voted for the Republican candidates. This could portend a flashback to 1994.
I don't know. It seems things are moving at a crawl currently. What say you out there?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joseph Cao was the lone GOP vote for the health care legislation

Before we get to the man who replaced William Jefferson in the US House of Representatives let's look at what was actually in this legislation:
The House of Representatives Saturday passed, by a 220-215 vote, historic health-care overhaul legislation that would require virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance and create a government-run health insurance plan to help them do so.

If passed by the Senate, the bill would bring about the most sweeping changes in the American health care system since Medicare was created 44 years ago.
...
In addition to creating the so-called public option government-run insurance program, the House-passed bill would bar insurers from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions and set up health care "exchanges," or marketplaces, where consumers could easily shop for coverage.

The changes are expected to mean that by 2019, 96 percent of eligible Americans would have health insurance, up from the current 83 percent.
...
A bigger boost may have come from a deal to bar coverage by government-subsidized insurance policies of elective abortions.

As originally written, the measure would have required insurers to separate public and private money, so that only private funds could be used for elective abortions. Abortion opponents were concerned that such a policy would effectively expand the government's role in improving access to abortion, and as many as 40 Democrats threatened to withhold support from the health care bill unless changes were made.
I'm somewhat bothered by something else I heard in this provision, that we have to have insurance or face fines for not having insurance. That's a very unfortunate provision and people would liken this to Massachusettes, hopefully I can find something that indicates that costs in Massachusettes are only going up. The issue is costs here so how do we bring down costs.

Anyway this blog post from And So it Goes in Shreveport discusses Joseph Cao. It seems as if this blogger may have already seen this coming from him:
Why did Cao vote yes? He'll surely offer explanations in the days ahead, but we could see it coming. This is what he said in August:

"At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me," said Cao, who studied to be a Jesuit priest. 

"Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice," Cao said. "I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives.

"I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career," Cao said, "but I have to live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, 'How does it profit a man's life to gain the world but to lose his soul.' "

Cao's district has been Democratic since 1891. He won the seat in 2008, defeating William "Cold Cash" Jefferson who was then facing 16 felony indictments.

The district represents almost all of New Orleans and the demographics are 30% White, 64% Black, and a small percentage of Asian, Hispanic, and Native American.

For his part, Cao has always made it clear that he would vote to represent his constituents. In a December 2008 interview with NPR, Cao expressed some frustration with the Republican party who he says "ignored" his campaign until they saw that he might win. He says it was not until three weeks before the election that the Republican establishment finally kicked in to help him defeat Jefferson. Governor Bobby Jindal didn't offer an endorsement of Cao until three days before the election.

Then you have to consider what Cao calls the Hurricane Effect. Katrina had displaced lots of voters. The election had been delayed by Hurricane Gustav in early September. Only 66,000 voters participated in the election.
And when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, that's not going to put a lot of Republicans at ease as many of them would rather he votes the party line. He might get re-elected there or he may face a decent Democratic challenger and absolutely little help from Republicans.

Besides it was noted that he started getting Republican votes when they realized that he might win. If I understand correctly Louisiana's run-off electoral system may have played a role in Cao's ascension to Congress. Although all things being considered William Jefferson, the man who was convicted of corruption that year, should have been doomed. However, this may not have been his year being weakend in a primary run-off and then having to face Cao in December.

In that election in December turnout was even more depressed. If I understand correctly, people were just confused they may have thought the election was over. Who knows they may have been disenchanted and stayed home. It enabled a Cao win.

The question here is what would this mean in the future for Joseph Cao can he live this vote down?

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Myth of '08, Demolished

So where has this new transformation that an Obama presidency was supposed to bring at?
In the aftermath of last year's Obama sweep, we heard endlessly about its fundamental, revolutionary, transformational nature. How it was ushering in an FDR-like realignment for the 21st century in which new demographics -- most prominently, rising minorities and the young -- would bury the GOP far into the future. One book proclaimed "The Death of Conservatism," while the more modest merely predicted the terminal decline of the Republican Party into a regional party of the Deep South or a rump party of marginalized angry white men.

This was all ridiculous from the beginning. 2008 was a historical anomaly. A uniquely charismatic candidate was running at a time of deep war weariness, with an intensely unpopular Republican president, against a politically incompetent opponent, amid the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. And still he won by only seven points.

Exactly a year later comes the empirical validation of that skepticism. Virginia -- presumed harbinger of the new realignment, having gone Democratic in '08 for the first time in 44 years -- went red again. With a vengeance. Barack Obama had carried it by six points. The Republican gubernatorial candidate won by 17 -- a 23-point swing. New Jersey went from plus 15 Democratic in 2008 to minus 4 in 2009. A 19-point swing.

What happened? The vaunted Obama realignment vanished. In 2009 in Virginia, the black vote was down by 20 percent; the under-30 vote by 50 percent. And as for independents, the ultimate prize of any realignment, they bolted. In both Virginia and New Jersey they'd gone narrowly for Obama in '08. This year they went Republican by a staggering 33 points in Virginia and by an equally shocking 30 points in New Jersey.
I think Obama had a solid win last year, but one just has to note the anger and discontent out there. Some of it a result of undue expectations on the new President. Some of it may well be about deep disagreement with the policies enacted by the President. Oh and some of it may be personal, but then that's to be expected in politics, because you're on the "other side" people are not going to like you much anyway.

All the same I believe that New Jersey has to be the worse loss from Tuesday. A Democratic state with a Democratic incumbent Governor who was a self-funder and even had Obama campaigning for him. It didn't happen!

Still we're a long way from seeing whether or not the Obama magic has faded.

RELATED:
Can This State Be Saved? - National Review
New Jersey in November '09; Illinois in November '10? - Proft for Governor
The Obama magic has faded - New York Post

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The recent elections provided some recent posts

Before Monday I hadn't posted in a little under a week. I want to really reflect on the elections in New Jersey and Virginia where Republicans were elected Governor of those respective states. But now it's bed time and I really don't want to start on such a post at this late time.

The only reason I'm posting this is to continue some sort of consistency in my posts that has been lacking since I graduated in May. I have skipped two or three days in the past but never a week for no good reason (excepting vacation or spring break or whatever). So I want to be sure to let you know what I have in mind before you think that I'm playing hooky from here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

ABC: Breaking ground in Atlanta

This is the story from Nightline discussing Mary Norwood. An Atlanta City Councilwoman who will face off against Georgia State Sen. Kasim Reed next month in the race for that city's mayoralty. Norwood may be the first white mayor in a little over 30 years after a string of black mayors of that southern city from Maynard Jackson to the outgoing Shirley Franklin.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ABC video about mayoral race in ATL

Looking for online video of the Nightline segment on the ATL mayoral race. Found this instead segment probably aired on ABC's World News Tonight on Tuesday. It should set the scene for what's going on there. Like I said blacks would race see another black win the race, almost like many blacks up here in Chicago. There is some hope GA State Sen. Kasim Reed will face off against City Councilwoman Mary Norwood on Dec. 2nd. As an added bonus Houston, TX could elect an openly lesbian mayor.

If that video of that Nightline segment is ever uploaded, I'll be sure to link to it!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tomorrow is Election Day somewhere



There are three races to watch tomorrow. Mainly two gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey in addition to a special election for a congressional seat in New York.

That race in New York has generated some publicity this past weekend as the original GOP candidate, Dede Scozzafava, withdrew from the race and endorsed Bill Ownens, Democratic candidate in that race. Scozzafava has a lot of GOP money behind her but the third party candidate Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman really galvanized conservatives or in fact, "The Tea Party" movement. Needless to say Scozzafava (a member of the NY State Assembly) may have won herself a few enemies amongst Republicans whether conservative or not.

Who knows how that race will turn out tomorrow. One Governor's race may be won in Virginia but there's less certainty about New Jersey. Like in NY there are three candidate's vying for that state's governorship. There is a third party candidate and he's expected to pull some votes away from the upstart Republican, Chris Christie.

The incumbent, Jon Corzine, already has the advantage of incumbency but there is a good chance that people have a bitter taste in their mouth about him. If that's true then the third party candidacy may not be a big problem for New Jersey voters.

BTW, the video above is from last week's Hannity. A focus group of mostly New Jersey Democrats talking about their upcoming gubernatorial election. A lot of interesting comments to be had there.

If you want to know why I'm paying attention, let's just say that these elections might be a barometer of sorts for the upcoming midterm elections next year. These three races will be touted as a referendum on President Obama. Of course if that's to be beleived we'll know for sure in November 2010.

Also another race of interest is in Atlanta. The bits and pieces of news from the city that's home to Morehouse College and Spelman College is that a credible white could be elected mayor of the city too busy to hate this year. Blacks are struggling to get behind a black candidate so that they may feel like they remain in control of a city that has had a black mayor since the early 70s.

(Can anyone say Maynard Jackson!?!?)

Anyway the race angle is somewhat shocking. It might be something I would expect from Chicago. For example concern over losing the Cook County Board Presidency has caused a group of Black ministers to convalesce around incumbent Todd Stroger. Stroger is already a weak candidate thanks to a number of factors mainly how he got in and his high sales tax.

The Black ministers' concern is over the plethora of other Blacks running for Todd Stroger's job next year with Dorothy Brown, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, and Congressman Danny Davis (who also just so happen to have recently filed papers to run for re-election to his 7th Congressional Seat). Them in addition to Terry O'Brien from the Water Reclamation District who is Irish. Concern 4 Blacks in this race could split the Black vote and allow a white man to get elected county board president.

Unfortunately in their case they may have picked a losing horse. All the same, whether the eventual nominee is an Irish white man or any of the black candidates or even the Republican, any or most of them could be an improvement over Stroger. But only after Nov. 2010 will we know for sure!