Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Bloomberg Businessweek Racist Cover

The Businessweek cover is wrong on so many levels..the stereotypes and suggestion that blacks and Hispanics caused the housing crisis and are ready to cash in again...

As the managing editor of a small magazine I can tell you much thought goes into the cover art and text. It has been the same on every publication or book I've ever worked on. A simple apology is not enough to forgive a mindset that allows the publication of a magazine with this cover....

Think Progress relates:  Bloomberg Businessweek Should Explain How Its Racist Cover Got Selected And Published | ThinkProgress:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 5


The Sequester -- Here We Go Again.'s almost here and the question is - do most Americans care?

What is the misery index for these forced budget cuts, and how high does it have to be to get the public upset?

Are we sick of the 'budget blame game' yet?

The truth is $85 billion in automatic spending cuts start Friday if Congress fails to act. Both the economy and Defense department could take major hits. Yet...Washington seems locked into the a bad reality series.

The media is doing their part to rile up the American public with stories of dire consequences if no deal is reach...but again...does the public care? Or, do we all have 'battle fatigue' from the ever-looming fiscal cliffs we find ourselves in since a significant number of House Republicans decided they will not support anything the President proposes....(even if they were once for it).

Even frequent Obama-foe Newt Gingrich in discussing immigration, admitted many in his party have such a dislike for Obama that they oppose ANYTHING he is for.

Because of this, we can be assured that if any deal is reached in the coming weeks, it will just be a temporary matter. The Republicans seem content to just keep sitting on the ball and running out the clock. This has been their strategy the past four years and will continue to be. 

In the meantime, the President is taking the case to the people, while his administration department heads prepare to make devastating cuts.

Not to be outdone, Boehner pushed the blame to the Senate. CBS News Reports (February 26, 2013):
"House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, clearly frustrated with the lack of a solution to avert the sequester, which kicks in on Friday, let some frank language slip on camera today, pushing the Senate to act on dealing with the impending budget cuts.
The president "is going all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders," while, Boehner argued, "We have moved a bill in the House twice." 
"We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," he added."
Among the populace, battle fatigue, or boredom, or a feeling of helplessness when it comes to our government, is real -- a PEW Research poll released yesterday found that only one in four people (25%) are following the sequester now, compared to 40% in December of last year. 

Folks may be tired of hearing the sky is falling...even if it really is.

In other news...

Coronating Hillary

A lot of stories this week on how the Democratic nomination AND the Presidency is Hillary's for the taking. Warnings went out to all Democrats who would dare to challenge her..."Don't even bother. She's got a lock on this." I like her chances and think she would make a good President ..but I've got to admit to a little deja vu here...she was considered inevitable for 2008 and ran her campaign that way. AND we know how THAT turned out.  I'm sure...if she does run...she won't make the same mistake never know who's lurking.  And there IS Providence.

Turning Back the Clock

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. There are those who think the Act is no longer needed because we have a black President.  Maybe they didn't notice the voting fiascoes that went on in many states this past election season in attempts to suppress minority voting.

President Obama's First Term -- A Look Back at Week Five - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog, February 25 2009)

  • Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso became the first foreign leader to meet with the President in the White House. The two discussed economic and foreign policy issues. 

  • President Obama sent a budget to Congress for fiscal year 2010. The budget projects a $1.75 trillion deficit and calls for more than $3.5 trillion in spending. The budget reflects the administration’s attempt to turnaround the country’s financial crisis. 
  • President Outlines End of Iraq War - Fulfilling a promise he made during his campaign, the President outlined a plan for troop withdrawal from Iraq. He stated, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,." The President made his remarks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 
  • First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of women in the military and military families—a cause she has championed. The event marked Women’s History Month, and Mrs. Obama began her remarks by highlighting the achievements of U.S. military women throughout history and thanking them for their service to the country.

And Finally,

Mrs. Obama has 'Moves' and she has 'Haters' (probably because she has moves)

The same folk who dislike her husband, have no love for her either.. (they complained about her appearance on the Oscars this past week)...Still, she continues to razzle, dazzle, and SHOW them HOW it's done:


Inauguration Day 2013


Monday, February 25, 2013

Minority Voter Rights at Risk in Upcoming Supreme Court Ruling - New America Media

Voting Rights still very much an issue in 2013:

Minority Voter Rights at Risk in Upcoming Supreme Court Ruling - New America Media:

From the article:

"The Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of Shelby County v. Holder on February 27. A decision will most likely be rendered in June before the court’s summer recess.  “When the 2000 Census revealed that the town had become majority black for the first time, the town’s all-white board of aldermen responded by simply trying to cancel all elections in order to prevent African Americans from being elected to office,” explained Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel of the Political Participation Group, NAACP LDF."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 4

The Sequester is coming...The Sequester is Coming!

The Sequester Countdown Clock:

So what does 'sequester' mean?  

According to as a verb it means: to remove or withdraw into solitude or retirement; (Using this meaning, there are many politicians we would like to sequester!)

As a legal term, sequester means: to remove (property) temporarily from the possession of the owner; (Yes...they are 'holding up' our government!)

As a noun, sequester means: A cut in government spending. (What we have here...maybe.)

The sequester we are currently facing  (and please know that WE ALL face is not just a Government exercise) came about because of a lack of a budget agreement from the GOP-controlled House (or maybe I should say tea-party controlled House), and the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. 

This comes as a result of kicking-the-can-down-the-road too many times. The sequester is designed to be something neither side wants -- budget cuts (to balance the budget and lower the deficit) that would make both sides miserable if they take effect.  In a 'common-sense' situation -- (I know, I know) -- both sides would negotiate and agree to a compromise.  Not this time.

NPR sums up how the sequester came to be in a story by Frank James: "Whose Sequester is it Anyway?", suggesting:
"By now, it's widely accepted that indiscriminate spending cuts in defense and domestic programs due to start March 1 are likely to occur owing to the failure of President Obama and the Republican-led House to reach an agreement to avoid the budgetary cleaver.
So now, the contest boils down to each side scampering for the higher ground of moral indignation."
However, what most Americans want to know -- what will be cut?  What's real and what is fear-mongering?

For a list of possibilities....What programs could be effected? Who could get furloughed? What would this mean for us? ...check out the comprehensive list at the end of this HuffPo article: 
Budget Cut Warnings May Prove Harsher Than Reality
The warnings are getting pretty dire...with both sides casting blame.  From the White House blog:
President Obama: Automatic Budget Cuts Will Hurt Economy, Slow Recovery, and Put People Out of Work
And then there is House Speaker John "Can't Control my Own Party" Boehner':
John Boehner: Sequester Is Product Of Obama's 'Failed Leadership' 
(HuffPo from Boehner's Wall Street Journal editorial published 2-19-2013)

Will we get a deal before the sequester?  Doubt it!  The House will let the sequester take effect and then vote to restore funding in the areas they support... knowing the bill(s) won't get past the Senate and White House...and the blame game will continue. Or, maybe another sequester...


A Nostalgic look at Week Four - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog, February 24 2009)

  • "Republican governors say 'NO' to stimulus money" -- a group of Southern Republican governors decided to turn down some of the money from the economic stimulus package.“I just have a fundamental disagreement with this package,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said. He opposes expanding eligibility for unemployment, for example, because it would increase employer taxes. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have also said they may not take the stimulus package's unemployment money. Critics suggested these governors were putting ideology over the needs of their cash-strapped constituents.
  • The President and Vice-President met with actor George Clooney to discuss the deteriorating situation in Darfur and American relief efforts.
  • The President unveiled a housing plan designed to help up to 9 million people.
    He laid out the four key elements of the 'Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan':
1. refinancing help for four to five million homeowners who receive their mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.   2. new incentives for lenders to modify the terms of sub-prime loans at risk of default and foreclosure.   3. steps to keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle class families looking to secure new mortgages.   4. additional reforms designed to help families stay in their homes.

And, Finally:

From the White House Blog: George Washington's guide book "Acts of Congress." 

"During Washington’s first year in office, Congress ordered 600 copies of the Acts of Congress to be printed and distributed to federal and state government officials. The book compiled the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other legislation passed by the first session of Congress. George Washington’s personal copy of the Acts of Congress contains his own handwritten notes in the margins."

George Washington's birthday is February 22.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 3 (Part 2)

The State of the Union (SOTU) -- Part Two

"Partners for Progress....Really?"

Watch the speech below:

Partners for Progress?  Really?

President Obama began his State of the Union address in his usual style of offering an olive branch to his opponents -- in this case what seems to be the entire Republican party.  

Obama began with the words of JFK from his State of the Union speech of fifty-one years ago: “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…"

Doesn't seem to make a difference.  According to a recent Washington Post report and poll:
"Seven in 10 people in the survey said they would support a path to citizenship, including 60 percent of Republicans. But when the same question was asked of a separate sample of respondents, this time with Obama’s name attached to it, support dropped to 59 percent overall and just 39 percent among Republicans."
Think Progress summarizes it further:
"Republicans have long opposed policies only after Obama endorsed them. For instance, GOP lawmakers backed away from the individual health care mandate they supported throughout the 1990s and as late as 2009 after Obama included it in his health care reform principles. According to a Reuters/Ispos poll, strong majorities of Republicans back key provisions of Obamacare, but hate the law because Obama’s name is on it."

A New Agenda....or have we heard this before?

It is true the President trotted out some of his past ideas such as creating jobs through infrastructure repair and 'new' green energy initiatives. He also acknowledged the upcoming battle with the sequester coming (mandatory cuts unattractive to both sides of the spectrum)...and the need to r
educe the budget deficit through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. (Remember, the sequester was created to induce both sides to an agreement).

Nevertheless, there were new ideas offered--although we can't be sure they will get through Congress...these include: universal pre-school and a $9.00 minimum wage.

The President also made a stronger case for addressing climate change, citing recent storms and that the 12 hottest years on record have occurred the past 15 years.

If I had to guess where the President will spend his 'political capital' -- the support he has in the populace -- I would guess it would be in the three areas he argued for most forcefully:

1. Comprehensive immigration reform, providing a path to citizenship.
2. Voting Rights extension -- in was touching seeing the elderly (102-year-old) woman who had to wait hours in line to vote in Florida.
3. And, some kind of gun control. Again, touching to have so many victims of gun violence in the audience and the President, at his best, calling on Congress to act saying:
"They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote."

Was Boehner Angry, Sad, Bored, Tired, Confused or All of the Above?

Boehner had the strangest expressions during the speech. Didn't clap or stand for anything hardly...which again begs the question..."What are they for?"   "What will Republicans stand up for?
(Whatever it is, if Obama proposes it they will be against it.)

The First Lady's Box

The White House has put out a neat interactive feature where you click on a chair and it gives a description of who was sitting in the First Lady's Box.  Access it here.

A Nostalgic look at Week Three - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog, February 17 2009)

  • In his first major act as President, Obama shepherded his Stimulus Bill through Congress this week, and signed the bill—called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus)—into law.  The bill had strong opposition from Congressional Republicans, although the public, as well as revenue-strapped Governors and Mayors from both parties, tended to support the legislation. The Administration suggested this needed stimulus package was only the first step in solving America’s economic challenges.
  • Marking the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, President Obama, who has stated his admiration of the 16th President, participated in several commemorative activities.
  • President Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, Senator Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination on Thursday, saying there were “irresolvable conflicts” between him and the administration. The president selected Mr. Gregg after his first choice for commerce secretary, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, withdrew from consideration because of a federal investigation into his state contracts.
  • The administration launched, billed as: “a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going…..the money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going -- to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors.”


President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Washington Watch: Week Three (Part 1)

The State of the Union (SOTU) -- Part One

(Prayers for all innocent victims and their families as the Big Bear situation unfolds.)

A Crowded Room.....Who Doesn't Have an Invite?

Seems like there's going to be a lot of extra people tonight at the SOTU. Normally, there's the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court (they may not all show up), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President's Cabinet. Normally, we see the President's invited guests in the gallery with the First Family.  The tradition has been to use these guests to paint a human face on the President's agenda items (or policies).

At tonight's SOTU various members of Congress are also bringing guests.  Some are bringing shooting victims while others are bringing celebrities. Politico reports that House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi is bringing singer Tony Bennett as well as a child from Newtown, Connecticut (home of the Sandy Hook massacre).

Wonder is anyone bringing Jay Z or Beyonce?  

The "celebrity" guest getting the most attention is anti-Obama rocker Ted Nugent. MSBC's Rachel Maddow covers this well in her blog.  Maddow says:

"Last year, Ted Nugent went after Barack Obama with rhetoric that was violent enough to get the attention of the Secret Service. Tonight, at the State of the Union, Ted Nugent will be the guest of a Republican congressman. If the GOP intends to stop being, in Bobby Jindal's words, the "stupid party," they have a long way to go."
Hope they have enough seats.

Speaking of the"Stupid Party"  (Jindal's words)

Looks like they will have two responses to the SOTU speech. One given by the face of the 'new' Republican Party (yeah right) Marc Rubio. The other from Tea Party Conservative Rand Paul.  TWO RESPONSES!!  Normally, the party picks ONE -- Jindal did it himself once in a forgettable performance after Obama's First SOTU back in 2009. Here's what HuffPo's Sam Stein reported:

"Both Democrats and Republicans alike panned Jindal's rebuttal in terms that were decidedly harsh: "amateurish," "laughable" and, most commonly, "a missed opportunity."  "After watching Jindal," one Democratic strategist emailed, "I'd pay a lot of money to be back watching a Palin speech.""

What to Expect When You're Expecting Details

Don't expect details. I'll be pleasantly surprised if there are details.  What to look for:
  1. How much time spent on foreign policy vs. domestic policy. He's facing opposition over his Defense and National Security picks (despite much opposition Hagel should be confirmed -- although  Republicans are calling for a walkout at his confirmation hearing.) The Middle East is still a powder keg, and now North Korea is testing Nuclear weapons. are we supporting our armed services and veterans with healthcare, housing, and jobs!
  2. Speaking of jobs....let's see what he says...another stimulus? This is the ISSUE for most Americans.
  3. He is sure to address voting rights and the long lines many had to stand in this past election.  Remember Florida?
  4. Guns....will he talk about how he likes to 'skeet shoot at Camp David?  Hope not. What agenda will he lay out regarding reducing gun violence,especially with so many relatives of shooting victims as guests?
  5. Climate change? Will it be discussed in light of so many major storms?
  6. Immigration reform...perhaps an area for bi-partisan agreement?
  7. Will he address the tragic situation going on in Southern California?  
Prayers for all innocent victims and their families.
SOTU Part Two after the speech.....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Surveillance Drones Are Coming

Surveillance drones are coming... whether we like it or not.  The Seattle mayor rightfully stopped their use (see article below)...but in some of our 'red' states I foresee them being activated. They will be used for "data collection" as the article states.  They will start in minority neighborhoods, but eventually they will be everywhere.  Hopefully, legal efforts can keep them at least for awhile. And if they are weaponized in America?

To be honest, I'm more concerned with private industry use of these drones, which will be harder to monitor than government use.....

Or can we monitor government use? Do we know what the administration is doing with drones?

What about those who want to know where we work, live, play and SHOP? How will they use drones?

Seattle mayor scuttles police plans to use drones - CBS News:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Washington Watch: Week Two

Fireside Chat to Discuss Immigration Reform

The White House hosted a fireside chat with Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council as a Google hangout to address Immigration Reform  moderated by award-winning journalist and immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas. 

btw...Vargas, formerly with the Washington (& Huffington) Post...was one of the few national journalists to cover our local Obama movement during the first election. He came to Riverside to hang out with us and wrote a feature on me. Vargas  was also one of the first to document and appreciate the role technology played in the election... especially the grass-roots online organizing of the Obama campaign...which is now legendary.  And speaking of legendary...Vargas became the story when he announced he is undocumented. He is now a loud and respected Voice for all those seeking immigration reform. He founded Define American -- an organization which brings the issue to the forefront.    A very nice young American...who loves Langston Hughes and Donny Hathaway. I am one of the throngs who respect him and call him friend. Watch the video.

And just what is the Administration's proposal for immigration is the summary chart released by the White house:  (or read the summary fact sheet)

Since you Probably Didn't See This on the 'Mainstream' News

President Obama delivered this video-taped message (with Swahili subtitles) to Kenya -- the land of his Father -- on the occasion of their upcoming historic elections. (And, please NO 'birther' nonsense...see below "A Party Divided...Will it Stand?")

He Shoots....He Misses

I'm not going to post the photo that made the rounds last week of Obama holding a shotgun and supposedly skeet shooting at Camp David. I guess it is authentic...but I wish he had not released it.  The purpose was of course to appease American gun owners...showing a camaraderie with them...but again, even if he really does enjoy skeet shooting, I wish he had not released the picture.  It reminds me of a teenager, drinking a lot or taking drugs just to show his or her friends that he or she 'belongs.' We tell our kids not to do this and pray they listen.

I keep thinking of those young Sandy Hook survivors who now see a photo or their President...the one who came to comfort them...shooting.  I wish he would have said, "Yes...there are many who own guns and hunt and that is their right...but I don't want anything to do with firearms."  Instead he coalesced.

A Party Divided...Will it Stand?

So the same people who blew over $300 million in a failed attempt to retake the Presidency and the Senate, are now going after members of their own party.  A Karl Rove affiliated PAC will attempt to keep those on the far right (and the loonies) from winning Primary elections against more moderate Republican candidates. The reason being, the more moderate candidates are more competitive against Democratic challengers. Yes, it has come to this for the Republican party. The 'established' Republican party against the Tea Party. Should be fun to watch.

Next week:  The State of the Union (watch Tea Party House member responses) and the Sequester (forced budget cuts) is coming....

A Nostalgic look at Week Two - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog February 3 2009)

    • President Obama expressed his dissatisfaction with the huge bonuses paid to Wall Street execs, many of whom benefited from the recent bail-out.  He stated, “The American people will not tolerate arrogance and greed.”
    • President Obama nominated the third Republican to his cabinet  -Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, as his choice to lead the Commerce Department. Gregg joins Secretary Ray LaHood (Transportation) and Secretary Robert Gates for a total of three Republicans in the cabinet.
    • Eric Holder was sworn in as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, becoming the first African-American to hold the position.

    • Former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, after controversy over unpaid taxes and relationships with healthcare corporations.  Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, apologized for failing to pay his taxes in full.

    And, Finally...

    The 100th Birthday of Rosa Parks...are Blacks Still on the Back of the Bus?

    President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Michigan. April 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Friday, February 1, 2013