Thursday, October 29, 2009

Former Senator Edward Brooke Receives Congressional Medal of Honor

  • Edward Brooke is the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote
  • Using perseverance, he avoided anger, disillusionment, President Obama says
  • Brooke, 90, was a GOP senator from Massachusetts for two full terms, from 1967 to 1979
  • Brooke, thankful for honor, says he misses friend Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died in August

Washington (CNN) -- Edward Brooke, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, was honored Wednesday with a Congressional Gold Medal.

"At a time when so many doors were closed to African-Americans, others might have become angry or disillusioned," President Obama told an audience in the Capitol Rotunda, where the ceremony honoring Brooke for Congress' greatest honor was held.

"They might have concluded that no matter how hard they worked, their horizons would always be limited. So why bother? Not Ed Brooke," he said.

Brooke, 90, was a Republican senator from Massachusetts for two full terms, from 1967 to 1979.

"He ran for office, as he put it, to bring people together who had never been together before, and that he did," the president said.

"I don't know anyone else whose fan base includes Gloria Steinem, Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy as well as Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush. That's a coalition builder," he said.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Loathe the War, Love the Warrior

My Two Cents:

by Ron Powell

Bravery and valor on the battlefield are of no consequence if the war being fought has no just and honorable cause or purpose....There are no legitimate goals or objectives in an unjust or invalid conflict being prosecuted by force of arms and the blood of good people.

My take on the war(s) in the Middle East is simple: We shouldn't have gone in the first place and we have no business being there now...Whether the Department of Defense or the State Department agrees with him or not, the young ex-marine who resigned his diplomatic postition in protest over our continued presence in Afghanistan has it absolutely right. We should stand with him in his brave and bold move to bring attention to the fact that what we are doing in that part of the world is just plain wrong....

In the wake of 9/11, and the notion that we are seeking to bring an international criminal and his criminal enterprise to justice, we have wasted resources and lives on a manhunt that ought to have been concluded long ago.....There is no succinct or cogent articulation of the reasons why we have been at this for as long as we have, and we should not commit another American life to a nefarious conflagration that has, at best, nebulous ideological, philosophical and political underpinnings......

If we truly believe that Bin Laden is alive and being harbored in the region, we should withdraw all of our troops and issue an ultimatum in the strongest possible terms and, failing that, anihilate all of the targets where he may be hiding in such a way as to not risk another American life and then, completely and absolutely walk away from it all.

Nothing good can come from continuing to work with an illegitimate government, rogue mercinaries, drug over-lords and wasting American tax dollars and American lives....I am in full and unfettered support of our troops in the Middle East. I do not, however, accept or agree with our 'reasons' for sending them there....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Then and Now


A Black girl escorted to school - 1960

On November 14, 1960, nearly 49 years ago, 6 year old Ruby Bridges faced hostile crowds, and had to be escorted by U.S. Marshalls , because she was the first black child to attend previously all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ruby was 6 years old. (Norman Rockwell created the painting above depicting that event.)
That morning, she had only been told by her mother that she was going to be attending a new school that day and 'had better behave.' Little did little Ruby know that she would be bombarded with jeers and even death threats; and that she would end up being the sole child in her first grade class because all the other children were kept home by their parents. All because Ruby was Black.


A Black girl escorted to school - 2009

On January 5, 2009, nearly 49 years after Ruby attended her school, 7 year old Sasha Obama, faced cheering schoolmates as she is escorted by her Mother and U. S. Secret Service Agents to Sidwell Friends Elementary School in Washington , DC . Her Mother, the current First Lady of the United States of America, had Secret Service escort because Sasha's daddy is now the 44th President of the United States.

Can this be one of the reasons why people under forty have a different view of the world.....????

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soul Heaven: The 'Soul' of America

Some were absolute giants and some were less well known, but all of these performers had an impact on our culture and our lives in ways which most of us will not be able to recognize or acknowledge. In many respects these African-American artists charted and navigated the course for likes of President Barack Obama by making the African-American experience an integral element of America's culutural life and heritage. We owe them a debt of gratitude and many, many thanks......

Sunday, September 27, 2009

President Obama On Saturday: AM & PM

AM: Weekly Radio and TV Address: The G-20 Summit

PM: Remarks on health care at the Black Caucus Dinner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Geography Refresher: Iran, The Middle of the Middle East

by Ron Powell

Secret nuclear facilities have been revealed in Qom, Iran. Failure to fully report the existence of these facilities, which as President Obama said," are inconsistent with a peaceful program", to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and permit the required inspection, will bring sanctions and other dire consequences.

Obama accuses Iran of building secret nuclear plant

President Obama with Prime Ministers Gordon Brown of England and Nicholas Sarkozy of France spoke as one at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh.

With a line drawn in the sand, and an October 1st deadline for a meeting with the UN Security Council ( United States, Russia, China, France, England) and Germany (P5+1) regarding compliance, Iran will be at the top of the news for the next week and beyond...A refresher in geography seemed to be in order.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sarah Palin Keynote Speaker On Foreign Policy In Hong Kong?

by Ron Powell

Who is CLSA-Hong Kong? What could they possibly want/get from Sarah Palin?

Or Was she "punked" with a six figure payoff?

The CLSA (Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia-Hong Kong) Investors Forum in Asia features former Republican nominee for Vice-President, Sarah Palin discussing China as well as other foreign policy subjects. This is Sarah Palin's first keynote speech outside the boundaries of North America.

Jonathan Slone, the CEO of CLSA, said that Sarah Palin was asked to speak on U.S. foreign policy, healthcare, governance, and China. The keynote speech by Palin to investors in China was closed to the media. She did acknowledge that her speech would be "different" with the media in the room.

The CLSA decided that their clients were more important than the possible media circus they would get with "media types trying to prove how stupid Sarah Palin is".

No doubt there will most likely be a youtube video of Sarah Palin's foreign policy speech about China and other issues that will be posted not long after the speech is finished. Sarah Palin was due to speak at the forum today.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Business Type: Private Founded: Hong Kong (1986) Headquarters: Hong Kong, China

Key people: Jonathan Slone, Chairman and CEO Industry: Diversified financials

Products: Financial services Employees: 1,350 (2009) Website:

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets is one of the region's largest and most highly rated independent equity brokers and financial-services groups, focused on providing broking, investment banking and asset management to corporate and institutional clients around the world.[1][2]

Founded in 1986, CLSA has its headquarters in Hong Kong and offices or representatives in 15 cities across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as New York, London, San Francisco and Dubai. CLSA is majority owned (65%) by Crédit Agricole, France's largest retail-banking group, with the remainder held by staff.

Unlike most of its competitors, CLSA is a research-driven agency broker.[3] It's known for its annual investor forums (particularly the calibre of its keynote speakers and the star acts at its parties), as well as its unique reports, the hallmarks of which are colourful and sometimes irreverent "cartoon" covers[4], outrageous pranks at gatherings, and analysis that goes beyond the numbers and 'tells the story' (a legacy of the journalism background of its founders). It has produced a number of seminal reports, including Billion Boomers and Mr & Mrs Asia

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Values Voter Summit: A Sampling

Ordinarily, I would consider this some kind of stand-up comedy routine....But, these people are serious and this is no joke: 
This is the stand-up comedy routine performed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) at the Values Voter Summit that only a certain kind of indvidual would find humorous....
Then there's this; the Right Wing understanding of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state: 
And this:  An anti-abortionist V V speaker wants us to "hear angels singing as we ponder the glory of conception".  
 I am sure that there are a few women at OS who could tell this young lady a thing or two about "hearing angels" and about the many and various other things she might wish to hear. They know she might want to "ponder the glory" of getting a good f**k. ;-)  Which, if she works at it really hard, and has a bit of luck, might well occur prior to conception.
Contraception and birth control being what they are today, 
she doesn't need to be overly concerned with the prospect or consequences of conception, unless she is so inclined. 
Never undersetimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Does The 1st Amendment to the Constitution Give Us The Right To Lie?

By Ron Powell

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. --- George Orwell

Quite some time ago, I read Sissela Bok's seminal work: Lying: Moral Choice in Private and Public Life (1978). The book is still in print , nearly thirty years after its initial publication. I have used it in my classes when dealing with the questions and issues of morality and ethics in professional and personal life. Its continuing broad readership pays tribute to the book's lucidity and good sense. Bok's work has no equal as a serious treatment of a central, but neglected, dimension of moral life.

Note: Sissela Bok is the daughter of Gunnar and Alva Myrdal both Nobel Prize recipients, and the wife of Derek Bok, formerly President of Harvard University (1971-1991).

Formerly a Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University, Bok is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

What exactly is a lie?

A lie is a statement, believed by the liar to be false, made to another with the intention that the person be deceived by the statement. This is the definition used by Sissela Bok and it has antecedents as far back as St. Augustine. I often like to throw in curve balls like; What if the liar knows the statement to be true but wishes the person to whom the statement is made to believe it to be false?

What's the difference between lying about the day or time you'll be able to deliver yourself to a particular location for a dinner date and lying about the day and time you'll be able to deliver goods or services to that same location?

One situation seems to involve a purely or primarily interpersonal or social arrangement and the other involves a contractual or commercial agreement. One situation may not become the basis for a legal sanction being levied against the liar, the other provides the foundation for taking legal action against the liar. One case involves a'harm' done to anindividual the other involves a 'harm' done to society at large.

A good person does not lie.

It is this intuition which brings lying so naturally within the domain of those things and behaviors which we believe to be categorically immoral or wrong. Yet many lies do little if any harm, and some lies do real good. How are we to account for this stringent judgment on lying, particularly in face of the possible trivial, if not positively beneficial, consequences of lying?

What the lie accomplishes is deception:

There are many ways, of course, to deceive without actually lying.

Consider this scene: The Doctor enters your hospital room looking cheerful. "Have you seen the test results?" you ask. "No," the doctor says, "they'll be available tomorrow. Relax and get a good night's rest." In fact, the doctor isn't lying - the final results won't be available until tomorrow - but he is deceiving you by his manner. He already has preliminary indications of what the test results will show, and your prognosis is not good. Was he justified in assuming a deceiving manner?

What if we altered this scenario so that the doctor actually lied? Would that make his deception worse?

What makes lying wrong? What makes deception wrong, when it is wrong?

You want to lie to someone? Well, what if you were the one being lied to? Or the one being lied about? Would taking up that perspective change your view of the lie?

Take the example of the human resources consultant (an example Sissela Bok discusses in her book) who was proud of her method for getting reliable recommendations about job candidates. She floats lies about the candidates she's investigating to see how a recommender responds. "I hear Smith doesn't get along well with her colleagues," the headhunter offers. "I hear Jones sometimes takes credit for other people's work." By gauging recommenders' reactions to these manufactured rumors, she elicits a richer report on a candidate's character and experience, so she is convinced.

The headhunter is so proud of her method in part because she is obtuse. She never imagines herself on the receiving end of her method. She never imagines herself as somebody being lied about by a seeker of information regarding her. Were she vividly to imagine that scenario, she might come very quickly to appreciate the great potential for harm in what she was doing. She might reflect:

Suppose my boss is just about to make a choice to promote me rather than a colleague - a close call - when he gets a phone query from a headhunter dropping unflattering rumors about me. Even though my boss denies the rumors, perhaps hearing them leaves a residue of doubt in his mind, and he reverses his decision, promoting my colleague instead of me!

No one wants to be harmed by a lie. We've no reason to suppose otherwise about the consultant. Thus, we've every reason to believe she would object to being on the receiving end of her method.

I highly recommend Sissela Bok's book as it is still the foremost treatise and analysis on the social and moral dynamics of lies and lynig.

Our focus here is; do we have a right to lie under the constitution? What are the questions and issues posed by what seems to be taking place in the contemporary media and political arena?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Are lies and liars protected under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution?

Yes and No:

Yes: Political and religious speech are categorically protected, hence falsehoods, half-truths and down right lies that are promulgated within the context of such speech are also protected...So too, are the people who are responsile for the false, misleading or deceptive utterances couched in politics or religion. This appears to be so whether the speaker intends the lie or not.

Yes: Commercial and journalistic speech are protected for the most part. However, unlike political and religious speech and speakers which enjoy absolute protection, there are areas in which commercial speech and journalistic speech are measured or evaluated in terms of veracity and or intent regarding the queation of damage or harm to either an individual or society. In these areas commercial and journalistic speech which is deemed intentionally deceptive and the cause of damage or harm is not protected and may result in the perpetrator being hit with a civil or criminal penalty of some kind.

(In the law the concept of intent is critical because without showing the requisite intent, the harm or damage caused by the liar's lie may not result in the liar being subject to civil or criminal liabilty and penalties.)

No: Interpersonal speech that results in harm or damage to another, particularly where the damage or harm caused is intended or reasonably forseeable, because it is fraudulent, libelous or uttered as part of or in the furtherance of a criminal activity, a criminal conspiracy or a criminal enterprise.

No: Speech that is intended to cause or incite violence, or riots.

No: Speech that is seditious or intended to cause rebellion against the government.

No: Speech that is intended to impede or interfere with the legitimate exercise of govermental power or authority. (Lying to the police, or falsifying a tax return, etc.)

In the instances where the speech is not protected the speaker is subject to civil or criminal liabilty and penalties when held responsible or accountable for the non-protected speech.

Where does this leave us?

The right to political or religious freedom of speech gives the speaker a constitutionally protected right to lie as long as the speech stays within the parameters of protectd speech.

The journalist who lies without the overt intention to cause damage or harm is, for the most part, also constitutionally protected.

As the ones being lied to, our best protection against the barage of lies we are subjected to on a daily basis, is to seek and learn the facts, and arrive at our own truths....It is not only our right but our responsibilty and civic duty as citizens.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Recession’s Racial Divide

New York Times Op-Ed Contributors
Published: September 12, 2009

Note: This piece is absolutely essential reading if we are to fully comprehend and appreciate the meaning and impact of the current economic crisis on black people as individuals, black families, and the black community as a whole-RP

What do you get when you combine the worst economic downturn since the Depression with the first black president? A surge of white racial resentment, loosely disguised as a populist revolt. An article on the Fox News Web site has put forth the theory that health reform is a stealth version of reparations for slavery: whites will foot the bill and, by some undisclosed mechanism, blacks will get all the care. President Obama, in such fantasies, is a dictator and, in one image circulated among the anti-tax, anti-health reform “tea parties,” he is depicted as a befeathered African witch doctor with little tusks coming out of his nostrils. When you’re going down, as the white middle class has been doing for several years now, it’s all too easy to imagine that it’s because someone else is climbing up over your back.

Despite the sense of white grievance, though, blacks are the ones who are taking the brunt of the recession, with disproportionately high levels of foreclosures and unemployment. And they weren’t doing so well to begin with. At the start of the recession, 33 percent of the black middle class was already in danger of falling to a lower economic level, according to a study by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University and Demos, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

In fact, you could say that for African-Americans the recession is over. It occurred from 2000 to 2007, as black employment decreased by 2.4 percent and incomes declined by 2.9 percent. During those seven years, one-third of black children lived in poverty, and black unemployment — even among college graduates — consistently ran at about twice the level of white unemployment.

That was the black recession. What’s happening now is more like a depression. Nauvata and James, a middle-aged African American couple living in Prince Georges County, Md., who asked that their last name not be published, had never recovered from the first recession of the ’00s when the second one came along. In 2003 Nauvata was laid off from a $25-an-hour administrative job at Aetna, and in 2007 she wound up in $10.50-an-hour job at a car rental company. James has had a steady union job as a building equipment operator, but the two couldn’t earn enough to save themselves from predatory lending schemes.

They were paying off a $524 dining set bought on credit from the furniture store Levitz when it went out of business, and their debt swelled inexplicably as it was sold from one creditor to another. The couple ultimately spent a total of $3,800 to both pay it off and hire a lawyer to clear their credit rating. But to do this they had to refinance their home — not once, but with a series of mortgage lenders. Now they face foreclosure.

Nauvata, who is 47, has since seen her blood pressure soar, and James, 56, has developed heart palpitations. “There is no middle class anymore,” he told us, “just a top and a bottom.” Plenty of formerly middle- or working-class whites have followed similar paths to ruin: the layoff or reduced hours, the credit traps and ever-rising debts, the lost home. But one thing distinguishes hard-pressed African-Americans as a group: Thanks to a legacy of a discrimination in both hiring and lending, they’re less likely than whites to be cushioned against the blows by wealthy relatives or well-stocked savings accounts. In 2008, on the cusp of the recession, the typical African-American family had only a dime for every dollar of wealth possessed by the typical white family. Only 18 percent of blacks and Latinos had retirement accounts, compared with 43.4 percent of whites.

Racial asymmetry was stamped on this recession from the beginning. Wall Street’s reckless infatuation with subprime mortgages led to the global financial crash of 2007, which depleted home values and 401(k)’s across the racial spectrum. People of all races got sucked into subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages, but even high-income blacks were almost twice as likely to end up with subprime home-purchase loans as low-income whites — even when they qualified for prime mortgages, even when they offered down payments.

According to a 2008 report by United for a Fair Economy, a research and advocacy group, from 1998 to 2006 (before the subprime crisis), blacks lost $71 billion to $93 billion in home-value wealth from subprime loans. The researchers called this family net-worth catastrophe the “greatest loss of wealth in recent history for people of color.” And the worst was yet to come.

In a new documentary film about the subprime crisis, “American Casino,” solid black citizens — a high school social studies teacher, a psychotherapist, a minister — relate how they lost their homes when their monthly mortgage payments exploded. Watching the parts of the film set in Baltimore is a little like watching the TV series “The Wire,” except that the bad guys don’t live in the projects; they hover over computer screens on Wall Street.

It’s not easy to get people to talk about their subprime experiences. There’s the humiliation of having been “played” by distant, mysterious forces. “I don’t feel very good about myself,” says the teacher in “American Casino.” “I kind of feel like a failure.” Even people who know better tend to blame themselves — like Melonie Griffith, a 40-year-old African-American who works with the Boston group City Life/La Vida Urbana helping other people avoid foreclosure and eviction. She criticizes herself for having been “naïve” enough to trust the mortgage lender who, in 2004, told her not to worry about the high monthly payments she was signing on for because the mortgage would be refinanced in “a couple of months.” The lender then disappeared, leaving Ms. Griffith in foreclosure, with “nowhere for my kids and me to go.” Only when she went public with her story did she find that she wasn’t the only one. “There is a consistent pattern here,” she told us.

Mortgage lenders like Countrywide and Wells Fargo sought out minority homebuyers for the heartbreakingly simple reason that, for decades, blacks had been denied mortgages on racial grounds, and were thus a ready-made market for the gonzo mortgage products of the mid-’00s. Banks replaced the old racist practice of redlining with “reverse redlining” — intensive marketing aimed at black neighborhoods in the name of extending home ownership to the historically excluded. Countrywide, which prided itself on being a dream factory for previously disadvantaged homebuyers, rolled out commercials showing canny black women talking their husbands into signing mortgages.

At Wells Fargo, Elizabeth Jacobson, a former loan officer at the company, recently revealed — in an affidavit in a lawsuit by the City of Baltimore — that salesmen were encouraged to try to persuade black preachers to hold “wealth-building seminars” in their churches. For every loan that resulted from these seminars, whether to buy a new home or refinance one, Wells Fargo promised to donate $350 to the customer’s favorite charity, usually the church. (Wells Fargo denied any effort to market subprime loans specifically to blacks.) Another former loan officer, Tony Paschal, reported that at the same time cynicism was rampant within Wells Fargo, with some employees referring to subprimes as “ghetto loans” and to minority customers as “mud people.”

If any cultural factor predisposed blacks to fall for risky loans, it was one widely shared with whites — a penchant for “positive thinking” and unwarranted optimism, which takes the theological form of the “prosperity gospel.” Since “God wants to prosper you,” all you have to do to get something is “name it and claim it.” A 2000 DVD from the black evangelist Creflo Dollar featured African-American parishioners shouting, “I want my stuff — right now!”

Joel Osteen, the white megachurch pastor who draws 40,000 worshippers each Sunday, about two-thirds of them black and Latino, likes to relate how he himself succumbed to God’s urgings — conveyed by his wife — to upgrade to a larger house. According to Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, pastors like Mr. Osteen reassured people about subprime mortgages by getting them to believe that “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and bless me with my first house.” If African-Americans made any collective mistake in the mid-’00s, it was to embrace white culture too enthusiastically, and substitute the individual wish-fulfillment promoted by Norman Vincent Peale for the collective-action message of Martin Luther King.

But you didn’t need a dodgy mortgage to be wiped out by the subprime crisis and ensuing recession. Black unemployment is now at 15.1 percent, compared with 8.9 percent for whites. In New York City, black unemployment has been rising four times as fast as that of whites. By 2010, according to Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, 40 percent of African-Americans nationwide will have endured patches of unemployment or underemployment.

One result is that blacks are being hit by a second wave of foreclosures caused by unemployment. Willett Thomas, a neat, wiry 47-year-old in Washington who describes herself as a “fiscal conservative,” told us that until a year ago she thought she’d “figured out a way to live my dream.” Not only did she have a job and a house, but she had a rental property in Gainesville, Fla., leaving her with the flexibility to pursue a part-time writing career. Then she became ill, lost her job and fell behind on the fixed-rate mortgage on her home. The tenants in Florida had financial problems of their own and stopped paying rent. Now, although she manages to have an interview a week and regularly upgrades her résumé, Ms. Thomas cannot find a new job. The house she lives in is in foreclosure.

Mulugeta Yimer of Alexandria, Va., still has his taxi-driving job, but it no longer pays enough to live on. A thin, tall man with worry written all over his face, Mr. Yimer came to this country in 1981 as a refugee from Ethiopia, firmly believing in the American dream. In 2003, when Wells Fargo offered him an adjustable-rate mortgage, he calculated that he’d be able to deal with the higher interest rate when it kicked in. But the recession delivered a near-mortal blow to the taxi industry, even in the still relatively affluent Washington suburbs. He’s now putting in 19-hour days, with occasional naps in his taxi, while his wife works 32 hours a week at a convenience store, but they still don’t earn enough to cover expenses: $400 a month for health insurance, $800 for child care and $1,700 for the mortgage. What will Mr. Yimer do if he ends up losing his house? “We’ll go to a shelter, I guess,” he said, throwing open his hands, “if we can find one.”

So despite the right-wing perception of black power grabs, this recession is on track to leave blacks even more economically disadvantaged than they were. Does a black president who is inclined toward bipartisanship dare address this destruction of the black middle class? Probably not. But if Americans of all races don’t get some economic relief soon, the pain will only increase and with it, perversely, the unfounded sense of white racial grievance.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of the forthcoming “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.” Dedrick Muhammad is a senior organizer and research associate at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are The Republicans Trying To Get President Obama Killed?

by Ron powell

Should we take comments like the "lie" shouted out by Representative Joe Wilson, as a mere moment of passion, or a part of a larger plan in which the GOP tries to delegitimize Obama's Presidency? Are the Republicans feeding red meat to the GOP base, fomenting secession and the bearing of arms at public meetings? If that is the goal, aren't Republicans also placing Obama's life at risk?

I purposely did not include material involving Dobbs, Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Malken, since they are not Republican elected officials.....However, when you add this stuff to the posture of the likes of Rove, Cheney, Gingrich and Buchannan, what you have, in my view, is clear evidence that these folks are indeed out to "get" President Obama...

Since Mr Obama took office, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service.

Some threats to Mr Obama, whose Secret Service codename is Renegade, have been publicised, including an alleged plot by white supremacists in Tennessee late last year to rob a gun store, shoot 88 black people, decapitate another 14 and then assassinate the first black president in American history.

Most however, are kept under wraps because the Secret Service fears that revealing details of them would only increase the number of copycat attempts. Although most threats are not credible, each one has to be investigated meticulously.

According to the book, intelligence officials received information that people associated with the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabaab might try to disrupt Mr Obama's inauguration in January, when the Secret Service co-ordinated at least 40,000 agents and officers from some 94 police, military and security agencies.

More than a dozen counter-sniper teams were stationed along the inauguration parade route and the criminal records of employees and hotel guests in nearby buildings were scrutinised.

Despite all this, there were glaring loopholes in the security. Kessler describes how more than 100 VIPs and major campaign donors were screened by metal detectors but then walked along a public pavement before boarding "secure" buses and were not checked again.

It could have been relatively simple for an assassin to have mingled with them in order to get close enough to shoot the new president.

After Mr Obama was elected president, his two children Malia, 11, codenamed Radiance, and Sasha, eight, codenamed Rosebud, began receiving Secret Service protection. Mr Obama's wife Michelle is codenamed Renaissance. The Secret Service also started to protect Vice-President Joe Biden's children, grandchildren, and mother.

Instead of bringing in more agents - instantly identifiable because of their bulky suits, worn over bullet-proof jackets, and earpieces - the Secret Service directed agents to work longer hours to cover the extra load and to miss firearms training, physical fitness sessions and tests.

"We have half the number of agents we need, but requests for more agents have fallen on deaf ears at headquarters," a Secret Service agent told Kessler. "Headquarters' mentality has always been, 'You can complete the mission with what you have. You're a U.S.S.S. agent'."

Mr Biden's constant travel, including back to his home state of Delaware-the burden has meant that all agents on his team have ceased training. According to Kessler, however, they fill in forms stating they have "taken and passed all tests, when they have not, creating a dishonest culture".

The Secret Service has increasingly cut corners after it was absorbed by the new Homeland Security Department under Mr Bush. Kessler said that when Mr Biden threw the first pitch at the first Baltimore Orioles game of the 2009 season, the Secret Service did not screen any of the more than 40,000 fans, stunning his agents and the local Secret Service field office.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barack Obama Became President Last Night

By Ron Powell

There are some here and elsewhere asking who were the Republicans who didn't stand or applaud the President during his speech on health care reform before the joint session of congress. My reponse is candid, honest and simple: You would do better trying to identify the very,very few Republicans who will support efforts to reform the health care delivery/finance system...or anything else the President proposes.

I have posted and commented on the number of Republicans in congress who are racists, hate mongers, liars, birthers, deathers, tenthers, obstructionists, immoral and amoral crooks and thieves.

When you look at the videos and see the faces of those who refuse to acknowledge the veracity, validity, and legitimacy of what the President was saying, you are looking into the faces of the racist hate mongers who would sooner see the President dead than to work with him or any black man of consequence on anything meaningful, universally beneficial or constructive.....

These are the people who now know that they cannot bring him down, or box him in, or shut him up...These are the people who will resort to violence to protect their interests, and the interests they represent. The interests that have long been in control of the government and that have been out of control as relates to their complete and utter disregard for the needs and concerns of ordinary cititzens.

These are the faces of those who are there to represent and protect the interests and concerns of the rich, the white, and the very powerful. They are the people who wish to maintain the status quo....

President Obama has manifest a level of courage the far exceeds anything that they could have possibly anticipated or imagined within the context and framework of the images and stereotypes that they have worked long and hard to develop and maintain. These are the people who will stop at nothing to keep the 1st black president from succeeding to the point of instilling sufficient trust and confidence in American voters to win a second term.

I have often said in my posts and comments here and elsewhere that the surest way for the President to secure a second term is to BE president in his first term. He began to step away from campaign mode and into presidential mode last night.

It is the moment I have been waiting to see and hear for the past eight months. It is the moment that very nearly equals the night that we got the news that Senator Barack Obama had indeed won the election and would become the 44th President of the United States. It is the moment that the racists and hate mongers have dreaded since the day he was inaugurated.

This is what they fear most and why they didn't stand. It is because they realize now, more than ever, that the country not only elected an African-American to the office of President. The country has an African-American who has the courage, confidence, conscience and competence to stand up, speak out and BE President of the United States of America.

I couldn't be more happy or more proud.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Closet Birther Outed At Teaparty!

At a Teaparty held outside of Cincinatti during Labor Day weekend Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is caught on tape telling Birther: ‘I Agree With You’:
Schmidt was among the members of Congress featured in Firedoglake’s Know Your Birthers video. In the FDL video, Schmidt can be seen running away from blogger-activist Mike Stark when he asked whether or not she has any questions about President Obama’s citizenship status.

In July, following her 15 minutes of YouTube fame, Schmidt’s office issued a statement to Ohio’s Loveland Magazine to clarify her views:

"The President is indeed a Citizen of this country. I voted as a Member of the House to certify the vote of the Electoral College electing him as our President. I may not agree with his politics but there is no doubt he is our President and has my full respect as such."

Schmidt’s exchange with the birther this weekend directly contradicts her July statement. The footage appears to indicate that Schmidt is a closet birther who questions the citizenship of the President.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Republican Congressional Support And Encouragement Of The Lunatic Fringe

by Ron Powell

Some Republican lead town hall meetings are taking on the aura of KKK meetings or White Supremicist, or Militia Movement meetings. Where's the discussion or debate about health care or anything else for that matter?

Town Hall Meetings, like the two shown here, are becoming witches
kitchens where ignorance, stupidity, and fear are being stirred in with overtly racist language and not-so-veiled threats of violence, insurrection, and sedition.

Congressman Wally Herger (R-California) praises self-proclaimed birther and right-wing terrorist, Burt Stead, as a good American.

Newly elected Kansas congresswoman, Lynne Jenkins, said that her remark about fellow Republicans struggling to find a "great white hope", was not a reference to someone who could challenge President Barack Obama or his political agenda.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, The Lion Of The Senate, Dies At 77

(February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009)

AP- HYANNIS PORT, Mass. – Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

Kennedy's family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.

For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a dominant voice on health care, civil rights, war and peace, and more. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving brother of a storied political family.

Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, when his brother John was president, and served longer than all but two senators in history.

Over the decades, Kennedy put his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to clear the Congress.

The youngest of the Kennedy brothers, considered the least likely to have an impact, and in many ways the most consequential. So closely after the death of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Kennedy family must grieve again and again the nation must grieve with them....

After the death of President John Kennedy, LBJ picked up the banner of justice and equality and so it was that a Southerner from Texas was able to get The Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act through congress. In many ways this was done in memory of his predecessor in office JFK....

This congress has the opportunity to pass the Edward M. Kennedy Health Care and Insurance Reform Act ( with a public option, not as a sliver, but as the center piece) in honor of the Lion, now gone, who spent a significant portion of his career on trying to repair the broken system for the benefit of the common person.........

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Cost Of Profit In Health Care

by Ron Powell

On several occasions I have written about the matter of health care reform and have indicated in posts and comments that there can't be true reform of the healthcare system without removing profit and the profit motive from the equation. At the moment the debate and discussions center around reduction of costs and the notion of a "public option" being the primary element in any proposal that purports to reduce the costs involved in the delivery of health care services.

It has been my contention that "costs" are the euphamism or code for profits. In other words, I believe that if we can reduce or eliminate profits we can reduce or eliminate costs. This is what the insurers and providers are acutely aware of and are fighting against. They know that when the government gets involved the gravy train will come to a screeching halt.

Over the past several years the insurance companies have reaped record profits without any improvements to the system of health care. How does this happen? It happens in any number of ways: increase of premiums, increase of deductibles, increase of co-payments, denial of coverage, cancellation of coverage and the denial of claims. All of this is designed to enhance revenue streams while reducing or eliminating risk by reducing or eliminating the obligation to make payments within the context of the language of health insurance contracts.

If you have health insurance my suggestion is to read it, all of it, especially the fine print. You may discover why many of the people who have been driven into financial ruin as a result of a catastrophic illness, are people who have health care insurance.

Having a health care insurance policy is not the equivalent of having health care coverage and that is where the mother load of profits are for health care insurers. I am a veteran so I'm covered with a government financed/controlled option and in a couple of years I will qualify for medicare as well, so I'm good to go.

However, there are a vast number of people between the ages of 25 and 65 who are paying for health care insurance, either directly or through employer group plans, for whom the insurance companies do not intend provide coverage i.e. payment on claims.

Banks and credit card companies have been loan sharking for years. The health care insurance companies have been engaged in a protection racket also designed to cheat and gouge the public. When all is said and done, reform of the way in which business is done in this country will require revisiting the notion of what is legal and what is not.

The conservative element has had decades to undo what had been done to ensure that the public was protected from unscrupulous business practices. The process of the systematic deregulation and removal of controls from profit-driven free market enterprises that are built on public trust and confidence must be reversed. In order to restore sanity to the debates and discussions the 900 pound profit gorilla has to be removed from the room or it will continue to wreak havoc and nothing will get done, nothing will change and we all know we can't afford that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Newt Gingrich The Reason Why The Right Is Ahead In The War Of Words?

by Ron Powell

One of the key elements of Republican success in controlling the current discussion/debate about health care is their use and manipulation of the languagae of the discourse. The Republicans distribute talking points with the intention of controlling what is said. In addition they are adept at providing instruction and insight as to how to say it.....

Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo:

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

In the GOP training video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. The video has been used in training sessions and mailed to Republican candidates and operatives across the country. Speaking like Newt Gingrich takes years of practice. But, the belief was/is that doing so could have a significant impact on a campaign and the way candidates and operatives communicate with a little help . That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.

While the list could be the size of the latest "College Edition" dictionary, we have attempted to keep it small enough to be readily useful yet large enough to be broadly functional. The list is divided into two sections: Optimistic Positive Governing words and phrases to help describe your vision for the future of your community (your message) and Contrasting words to help you clearly define the policies and record of your opponent and the Democratic party.

Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or additions. We would also like to know how you use the list. Call us at GOPAC or write with your suggestions and comments. We may include them in the next tape mailing so that others can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

Optimistic Positive Governing Words

Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!

active(ly), activist, building, candid(ly), care(ing), challenge, change, children, choice/choose, citizen, commitment, common sense, compete, confident, conflict, control, courage, crusade, debate, dream, duty, eliminate good-time in prison, empower(ment), fair, family,freedom, hard work , help, humane, incentive, initiative, lead learn, legacy, liberty, light, listen, mobilize, moral, movement, opportunity, passionate, peace, pioneer, precious, premise, preserve, principle(d), pristine, pro- (issue): flag, children, environment, reform, prosperity, protect, proud/pride, provide, reform, rights, share, strength, success, tough, truth, unique,vision, we/us/our

Contrasting Words

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party:

abuse of power, anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs, betray, bizarre, bosses, bureaucracy, cheat, coercion, "compassion" is not enough, collapse(ing), consequences, corrupt, corruption, criminal rights, crisis, cynicism, decay, deeper, destroy, destructive, devour, disgrace, endanger, excuses, failure (fail), greed, hypocrisy, ideological, impose, incompetent, insecure, insensitive, intolerant, liberal, lie, limit(s), machine, mandate(s), obsolete, pathetic, patronage, permissive attitude, pessimistic, punish (poor ...), radical, red tape, self-serving, selfish, sensationalists, shallow, shame, sick, spend(ing), stagnation, status quo, steal, taxes, they/them, threaten, traitors, unionized, urgent (cy), waste, welfare

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Do You Know About The History Of Health Care Insurance?

by Ron Powell

There have been a number of blogs about healthcare reform proposals recently, and there will no doubt be more before it comes to a vote in congress. Most bloggers, including me, are not old enough to have first hand memories of the major events and forces that shaped the system as we know it today. Health care insurance in America has an interesting history.

The first insurance plans weren't for "health" insurance at all. In the 1900s some Americans began buying "sickness insurance". Around 1900, workers wanted insurance that covered paid sick days and were not as interested in more expensive medical benefit insurance. They purchased industrial "sickness insurance" through employers. Since medical treatments were relatively ineffective then, the insurance was meant to cover wages lost while a person was too sick to work. Imitating benevolent societies, industrial sickness (sick day) insurance companies raised money from entertainments as well as membership dues and held social events for members. They sold beer.

In 1908, the average "establishment" (employer) insurance plan had 730 members in workplaces of 1,652 workers, so approximately 44 percent of potentially covered workers were actually covered. A 1909 audit of early life and "sickness" insurance plans showed that fewer than 5 percent had actuarial data. During the depression, hospitals were suffering from a lack of patients, so they began offering prepaid hospital care as a way to get a steady stream of income.

The first modern employee group benefit plan was an agreement between Dallas County public school teachers and Baylor Hospital in 1929. The Baylor Plan was organized by a hospital administrator who had previously been a school superintendent.

The American Hospital Association was afraid that hospitals would begin competing with each other for patients, thus reducing revenues for everybody. So they formed Blue Cross, with the help of legislation that enabled them to avoid the requirements of reserve requirements that true insurance companies had to have to guaranty solvency. Physicians, who were largely unaffiliated at that time, became concerned that Blue Cross would lead to hospitals insuring for, and providing, physician services in competition with them, causing their fees and income to drop. So the AMA preempted this by forming its own "insurance" plan for physician services, called Blue Shield.

The biggest boost to these private health insurance plans came from World War II. The Wage Stabilization Act of 1942 was enacted to prevent rapid wage escalation due to the shortage of available labor during wartime. But that act also allowed companies to use other incentives to attract workers, and gave favorable tax treatment to employer paid health insurance. In 1944, the Baylor Plan merged into Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. By that time, more than 3 million Americans were covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield policies.

As part of the deal that enabled Blue Cross and Blue Shield to avoid the restrictions insurance companies faced, they were required to charge premiums based on a "community rating" system. That is, they had to charge the same premium to healthy people as they charged sicker ones. This opened the door for other companies to enter the increasingly lucrative health insurance market. Since most large companies tended to employ workforces that were younger and more healthy than society as a whole, they could cherry pick those companies and either avoid insuring people who would likely incur profit draining claims, or charge higher premiums to those groups.

When Medicare was first adopted in 1965, legislators feared that doctors would refuse to treat patients covered by that plan. So they agreed to reimburse doctors for their services at their "usual, customary and reasonable rate", and allowed them to bill their patients directly. In this way, doctors were able to charge patients more than Medicare would pay, forcing them to pay the difference. Medicare payments began spiraling out of control, reimbursement policy underwent major change in 1983. From then on, providers were reimbursed according to a set fee schedule based on diagnosis.

Today, the labor market is very different from the days when employer provided insurance became popular. Currently, there is no legal obligation for an employer to provide it, as long as they don't discriminate by offering it to some employees and not others. Just as many employers abandoned defined benefit pension plans when they became too costly, it is likely some will want to drop health insurance benefits as costs continue to rise.

Due to a combination of factors, such as an aging population, introduction of expensive diagnostic technology, skyrocketing malpractice awards and so on, health care expenditures in the US account for one of every six dollars of our gross domestic product (GDP). We spend 50% more per capita on health care than any other major country, and that gap is increasing every year.

With that as background, many Americans are reaching the conclusion that the status quo cannot be sustained. Yet any attempt to change it is met with hysterical opposition and demagoguery. The insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies that are benefiting from the current system are pulling out all the stops to prevent changes to it.

There are no market forces that will keep the cost of healthcare from continuing to climb. Private industry practices which have resulted in their reaping obscene profits by discriminating against the very people they purport to cover and denying coverage to people who need it most or can’t afford to pay exorbitant premiums or deductibles are at the root of a process of economic erosion that is bankrupting American families at an alarming rate. They will eventually bankrupt the entire country if something is not done to alter the course we are on with things as they are.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama Must Learn To Play Hardball

by Ron Powell

It is time for President Obama to learn to play hardball and stop acting as though there is a legitimate basis upon which to build or develop bipartisanhip or compromise.

1. He ought to have learned by now, that there is no bipartisanhip or compromise to be had with people who have decided to be uncooperative regardless of the nature of ANY proposal that he puts forward on health care or anything else for that matter.

2. He should know by now, that if he and the Democrats remove any significant element from the health care reform measures being considered, it will be the Republicans who will claim victory even as they continue to refuse to participate in the legislative process that brings a bill to the President's desk to be signed into law.

3. Any measure that is signed into law that does not include a public option that will signal a reduction of the runaway profits the insurers now enjoy, will be a capitulation to the insurance industry and other special interests that stand to gain from maintaining the status quo.

4. At this moment the Republicans have nothing to fear by resisting efforts at bi-partisanship and feel that they have nothing to gain from cooperating with the President.

5. It reqiures an entirely different set of skills to govern....The skills needed to get elected are quite different and not easily transferred....

6. Playing in the big leagues you have to learn and be willing to take bases with your spikes up. The people around him have to step up and give him the kind of advice he needs or his administration will be in the toilet before his first year is up.......

7. President Obama needs to be reminded the if LBJ and Dr. King had compromised and capitulated when the Dixiecratats and conservative Republicans were determined to derail Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation he would not be in office today....

8. It's time to step up and stand up, have some guts and show some backbone. Many of the people who are being frightened into resisting change wouldn't be frightened if the President showed that he was indeed ready, willing, and able to fight with everything he has at his disposal to ensure that the health care system and health care insurance were reformed or changed for the benefit and good of the entire nation.

Friday, August 14, 2009

6th Grade Reporter Scores Interview With President Obama

Damon Weaver has chosen a great way to begin building his resume.

KEC-TV is located in K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School
Palm Beach, Florida