May 25, 2013 at 9:50 am #89032
This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carol King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University.
As you spend this weekend with family and friends, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.May 25, 2013 at 9:50 am #89033
Good Morning, EveryoneMay 25, 2013 at 9:52 am #89034
Child preaches the gospel against the controversial Chicago schools closure planMay 25, 2013 at 9:56 am #89035
A Transformative President
by Japa (@deaconmill)
In 2008, during the primary campaign, in an interview, then Senator Obama talked about how Reagan had been a transformative President and how he hoped to be the same. He was immediately attacked by many, included his main opponent as being supportive of Reagan’s policies. That attack, like many others before and since (clinging to guns and religion, they didn’t build that, etc.) was, of course, based upon a deliberate misreading and misinterpretation of what he said and meant.
If it isn’t obvious to everyone now, and it should be, President Obama represents the antithesis of everything President Reagan stood for. He has repeatedly called out the GOP for continuing the failed policies of Reagonomics. His approach to immigration reform is radically different than Reagan’s blanket amnesty with no follow-up policy. He does not see foreign policy as a case of who can puff up their chest the biggest, like Reagan and his successors did. He supports unions. He supports all human rights. He abhors the policies of racism. He truly recognizes the difficulties and nuances of decision making.
Yet, as much as Reagan Presidency was transformative in a negative way, President Obama’s is becoming transformative in a uniquely positive way. In fact, it may end up being the most positively transformative Presidency in the history of our country. And this is not due to specific legislation passed with his urging, although much of that legislation will impact this country and how it views the government’s role in helping its citizens for decades to come. Nor is it due to the fact that he is, probably, one of the top three President’s in terms of rhetorical skills. Nor is it because he is the first black President. All of those are important to his legacy, but they are not transformative in terms of how the country is run or how the President interacts with the other branches of government.
Earlier, Liberal Librarian posted a piece about how the President’s recent address on national security disavowed the concept of eternal war. As has become expected, that post was incisive and caught the point of an important aspect of that speech. It turns a corner in what, for many Americans, has been the major focus of this country for much of their adult lives.
I want to focus, for a minute, one the other important aspect of the speech, the part that to me shows how transformative this President is. Throughout the history of this country, President’s have consistently been ceded powers by the Congress, especially in the military realm, but in other areas as well. This culminated under the Bush administration with the AUMF and the Patriot Act. The Congress, representing us, gave Bush and his cronies unprecedented powers which they used to the utmost. It was, rightfully, called The Imperial Presidency.
However, that Imperial Presidency could not have happened if over the decades and centuries prior to that, Congress had not given, or at least looked the other way, the Presidency increasing powers. Oh, there were times, during our country’s history, when Congress would try to take back some powers or take the President down a notch or two. But the general pattern has always been increased Presidential powers which the Oval Office clung unto, passed to the next in line, and worked very hard not to give up.
Until May 23, 2013. For probably the first time in history, a President actually came forward and requested that Congress take away some of his powers. This is a President who realizes that with great power comes great responsibility. And it isn’t that President Obama is afraid to take on responsibility, but he realizes that having that much power placed in the hands of one person is dangerous and can easily lead to abuse of those powers. Some would say he has abused those powers already, especially those who say they speak for the “left”. I would argue that point, but this is not the time to do so.
Rather, I would point out that this is a transformative moment, piled on top of other transformative moments throughout this Presidency. This is a man, a constitutional scholar, who deeply respects the separation of powers as delineated in the Constitution. He has, sometimes to a fault perhaps, respected that separation. He has seldom tried to strong arm legislation through (not that he would have been successful anyway considering the current insanity of the Republican Party).
Even yesterday, he made sure to emphasize that in regards to certain things, such as Guantanamo, that it is up to Congress to do the right thing and allow him to end that stain on the American character. And he has done this repeatedly. Congress has its role and the Executive Branch has its role to play and they should not get confused and tangled up with each other.
But for a President to voluntarily request that powers already ceded to him by Congress be taken away is as transformative as it is unprecedented. It says to the world that the President of the United States believes in a process that should not be abrogated at a whim. And it says to the nation that, hopefully, we will not, due to fear, make the same mistakes again in the future. It is still too early to see if some of these transformational moves stick in our body politic, but one can hope. And isn’t it with that very thing this all started.
Hope and Change, or more accurately Hope can lead to Change.May 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm #89037
In Praise of Barbara Lee
by Michael Tomasky May 24, 2013 12:31 PM EDT
With the global war on terror officially over, it’s worth recalling that she was probably the most prescient person in post-9/11 Washington, says Michael Tomasky.
Now that the “global war on terror” is officially over, as President Obama declared yesterday, I think back to those fevered days after September 11 and wonder whether the whole thing wasn’t ridiculous or worse. Back then, if you didn’t support the war in Afghanistan, you were written off as a nutcase, an abject pacifist, or a freedom-hater. But 12 years later, who can seriously say that the war was such a great idea? Maybe fighting terrorism should have been a “police matter” all along. Two things are for sure. The first is that the country and the world would be a hell of a lot better off if we’d followed Barbara Lee’s advice instead of Paul Wolfowitz’s. And second is that the foreign-policy establishment of Washington, including loyalists of both parties, will never, ever, ever, accept the first fact, which dooms us to unending expense, death, and tragedy.
Who’s Barbara Lee? She’s the Democratic congresswoman who represents Berkeley. On September 14, 2001, with the World Trade Center ruins still asmolder, the House of Representatives considered House Joint Resolution 64, the authorization of the use of military force against the terrorists involved in 9/11 plus their aiders and abettors. It passed 420 to one. Lee was that one.
Of course she was mocked at the time. Mocked? Worse than that. For a spell, she needed around-the-clock bodyguards. Such was the atmosphere created by the Bush administration, the right-wing agitprop media, and, one might add, the craven opposition that accepted nearly all of Bush’s war on terror premises.
Lee’s short floor speech explaining her vote is on YouTube; here it is, have a look. Citing “my conscience, my moral compass, and my God,” she asserted that “some of us must say let’s step back for a minute … and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.” Elsewhere in defense of her vote, she said things like the United States should be “careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target” and criticized the vote afterward by saying: “It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events—anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.”May 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm #89038
Man finds winning $4.85 million lottery ticket in cookie jar
Ricardo Cerezo, of Illinois, said he accumulated 11 lottery tickets in the cookie jar for a rainy day
An Illinois man made a sweet discovery at the bottom of his cookie jar.
Ricardo Cerezo, of Geneva, who was facing eviction, found a winning $4.85 million lottery ticket in the jar, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“It couldn’t have happened at a better time,” Cerezo, a management consultant, told reporters.
“I just thought, this is how God works.”
Cerezo said his wife was cleaning out the kitchen and told him that the 11 lottery tickets he had accumulated in a cookie jar needed to be checked or she would put them in the trash.
Cerezo, 44, took them to a nearby store and while he had no luck with the first 8 tickets, the next one from the February 2 draw was a winner.
“I’m awestruck, this is unbelievable,” he said, ABC News reported.
He and his wife plan to use the money to pay off their mortgage and other bills, share a portion with their son and daughter, and donate to their church and favorite charities., NBC reported.May 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm #89039
More on Morehouse
There’s something that’s been ruminating in my head all week. And I think I’ll take a lazy Saturday morning to see if I can put it into words. It has to do with President Obama’s speech at Morehouse and those who are criticizing it.
What I’ve been thinking about is that over the years, we’ve developed certain rules for how we’re supposed to deal with victims of oppression/violence/racism. One of those rules is “never blame the victim.” I totally agree with that rule.
For the sake of comparison though, lets imagine that we’re talking to a victim of domestic violence. It is important to always affirm that she is not at fault. But the truth is – she has some choices to make about how to deal with her situation. Part of our job should also be to empower her to make those choices…for herself. To simply focus on her as a victim of her circumstances robs her of that choice.
Empowering a victim to make their own choices doesn’t mean that you blame them – or that you don’t hold the perpetrator responsible for what they’ve done. But victims are – by definition – powerless. When we reinforce that sense of powerlessness, we are inviting further victimization.
What I’ve just said here is something that has often put me at odds with much of the human services field I’ve been a part of professionally for over 30 years. I don’t want to disparage the entire profession, but there’s a reason why the term “bleeding heart liberal” was invented. It usually refers to the fact that many of us enter this business to rescue the “poor victims.” That puts us squarely on what Stephen Karpman calls the Drama Triangle.
In doing so, this becomes not only how we see the world, but these three roles become the only ones available for us to play.
To empower a victim means inviting them to step out of that triangle and take charge of their own lives. Contrary to “blaming the victim,” that is what I believe President Obama was inviting the Morehouse graduates to do.
I understand there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: “Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.” Well, we’ve got no time for excuses. Not because the bitter legacy of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they have not. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; we know those are still out there…
Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and they overcame them. And if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.
Now that’s some tough love he’s dishing out there, isn’t it? You see…he knows that racism and discrimination are going to continue to come their way. But he also wants to empower them to not let that define who it is they’re going to become. He was inviting them to step off that drama triangle that would only see the world in terms of victims, perpetrators and rescuers. And the vision he offered as an alternative is a grand one indeed.
As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when somebody asks them where they come from or tell them to go back. Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love that they share. Muslim Americans feel it when they’re stared at with suspicion because of their faith. Any woman who knows the injustice of earning less pay for doing the same work — she knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.
So your experiences give you special insight that today’s leaders need. If you tap into that experience, it should endow you with empathy — the understanding of what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, to know what it’s like when you’re not born on 3rd base, thinking you hit a triple. It should give you the ability to connect. It should give you a sense of compassion and what it means to overcome barriers.
So it’s up to you to widen your circle of concern — to care about justice for everybody, white, black and brown. Everybody. Not just in your own community, but also across this country and around the world. To make sure everyone has a voice, and everybody gets a seat at the table; that everybody, no matter what you look like or where you come from, what your last name is — it doesn’t matter, everybody gets a chance to walk through those doors of opportunity if they are willing to work hard enough…
That’s what we’ve come to expect from you, Morehouse — a legacy of leaders — not just in our black community, but for the entire American community. To recognize the burdens you carry with you, but to resist the temptation to use them as excuses. To transform the way we think about manhood, and set higher standards for ourselves and for others. To be successful, but also to understand that each of us has responsibilities not just to ourselves, but to one another and to future generations. Men who refuse to be afraid. Men who refuse to be afraid.
I think that’s a lesson we can all take to heart.May 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm #89040
Speaking of victims…Tavis Smiley SOOO wants to join that party
I just finished writing about the need to empower victims when I ran across this story about Tavis Smiley.
Smiley contends that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have pressured sponsors to drop their support of his projects, including his anti-poverty initiatives.
Oh puhleeze! Does Tavis really think the White House cares about his sorry-ass “projects?” And just what “anti-poverty initiatives” is he talking about? The only one I’ve heard about lately is that he and his buddy Cornel West wanted us to petition the White House to sponsor an anti-poverty conference. You know…one where guys like them could preen for the cameras to TALK about how horrible poverty is without DOING a g-d thing about it.
And what sponsors are they that Smiley thinks the White House might be trying to pressure? Of course he won’t say. But perhaps he’s talking about his relationship with the plutocrats (one of West’s favorite words) at Wells Fargo and their “Ghetto Loan” program. No? Mr. Smiley’s spokeswoman identifies the one sponsor that’s sticking with him:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the PBS show’s underwriter since the start, has “consistently stood by our side,” said a Smiley spokeswoman.
Yes, you read that right. Mr. Smiley’s major sponsor these days is Wall-Mart – the largest purveyor of poverty in the country.
One other fascinating tidbit from this article:
Smiley speaks to an overwhelmingly white audience on his Public Radio International shows and on TV, and said he appreciates the opportunity to introduce them to a different perspective.
In other words, the African American community has pretty much abandoned Mr. Smiley and he’s eeking it out on PBS with the elite white liberals who are their base. But in a classic case of avoiding any personal responsibility for that – he’s attempting to claim the victim mantel and blame it on the nasty folks who occupy the White House. I’d suggest that Mr. Smiley go take a look at what President Obama said to those young brothers at Morehouse last week…”no more excuses.”May 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm #89041
Obama at Morehouse: Try Another Listen
You might find that attacks on his commencement speech — a hit among graduates — missed the mark.
By: Jack White | Posted: May 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM
This is, of course, nothing new. It’s been evident since Obama’s first election that America was dividing into two different worlds, broadly defined by demographics. He was swept into office by a relatively youthful, ethnically diverse coalition in which huge majorities of blacks and Hispanics were allied with a minority of whites. His opponents consisted mainly of older whites unsettled by the emergence of a new America. These were people, as I wrote some years ago, who “went to sleep in their America on Election Day 2008 and woke up in another country, as though they had been swept up in a spaceship and transported to an alien world.”
But now, if we can judge by the disagreement between highbrows such as Coates and Capehart, a similar disjunction may be starting to develop in some rarefied segments of black America. Obama’s conservative white critics twist his every word and action into further proof that he is a socialist, crypto-Muslim bent on destroying the country. In much the same way, his emerging cadre of black, usually leftish, critics interpret his every move as evidence that he is a pro-establishment cynic using his speeches to black folks to send coded “Sister Souljah” speech messages to white folks. They’re determined to find fault with Obama even when he does something right — and in this case at least, they are as out of touch as the president’s right-wing opponents.
That’s the conclusion I reached after rereading Obama’s Morehouse remarks in light of the strong critiques from Coates and Kai Wright, my esteemed former colleague at The Root. I didn’t hear the “convenient race talk” that Coates detected or the browbeating that troubled Wright. I didn’t even hear the voice of a politician.
I heard the voice of my father.
It could have been my dad lecturing me across the dinner table when Obama declared, “You have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by.”
And again, when he admonished the graduates to “be a good role model, set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know somebody who’s not on point, go back and bring that brother along. Those who’ve been left behind, who haven’t had the same opportunities we have — they need to hear from you.”
And yet again, when he urged them to “recognize the burdens you carry with you, but to resist the temptation to use them as excuses. To transform the way we think about manhood, and set higher standards for ourselves and for others. To be successful, but also to understand that each of us has responsibilities not just to ourselves, but to one another and to future generations. Men who refuse to be afraid. Men who refuse to be afraid.”
Those are the messages that my father, a medical-school professor at Howard University who died 25 years ago, pounded into my head as I was growing up, and that I’ve tried to convey to my own children.
And they’re pretty much the same sentiments I’ve heard expressed in every HBCU commencement address I’ve ever attended. To have them delivered by the first black president brings joy and inspiration to my heart — as it seems to have done to the graduates, who, perhaps lacking the critics’ exquisite sensitivity to condescension, stomped, cheered and whooped in response to the speech. To accuse the president of talking down to the throng is to miss the occasion. What he said was entirely appropriate — and entirely familiar.May 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm #89057May 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm #89058
Culinary degree was 39 years in the making
By Kristin E. Holmes, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: May 24, 2013
Between her Easy-Bake Oven days and earning a culinary-arts degree came what Jackie Hill calls the “horrible” years.
Now a 55-year-old grandmother, at 28, she was a single mother of five children, living in public housing and cleaning offices to make ends meet.
It was a life Hill walked into after her father died, and she felt adrift. Pregnant at 16, she dropped out of high school. But she never resigned herself to a fate of just getting by.
“I kept thinking about getting my degree,” said Hill, of Norristown. “Being a chef was always on my mind.”
On Thursday, Hill walked across the stage during graduation ceremonies at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell after securing what in her view was 39 years in the making: an associate degree in culinary arts.
The moment Hill gripped her diploma case, she became the first in a family of 10 children to earn a college degree.
“We’re so proud of her,” said Hill’s sister, Daisy Powell, 61. And although Powell is older, “I call her my ‘big sister.’ ”
In the time since Hill entered the college in 2008, she has been on the dean’s list six times, become a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and joined the advisory board of the college’s Culinary Arts Institute. She graduated summa cum laude.
“I have watched Jackie grow from being very tentative as an adult returning to school to a whole different level of poise and grace,” said Karen Stout, president of the school.
Hill’s story is like that of many other adult women, Stout said. They are women “needing to find themselves,” and build confidence, Stout said.
Hill made a living cleaning, working as a prison guard and at a wholesale membership club. At 30, she embarked on the first of two marriages, both of which ended badly. Her first husband died; the second turned out to be a bigamist.
“When I found out [about the second husband],” Hill said, “I packed my stuff and left.”
All the while, Hill built a reputation as a fierce home cook, baking for family, friends, and her church.
“She was the sibling in our family who always held the dinners to keep the family together,” said Tangie Avery, Hill’s daughter. “She cooked on holidays, and everyone would come over and she would never ask anybody to bring anything.”
Hill began following the careers of celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Gale Gand.
It was the election of President Obama that inspired her to go back to school.
“If a black man could be president of the United States, I could get my diploma,” Hill said.
Hill began taking courses at the Center for Literacy in West Philadelphia and earned her high school diploma.
When she began her classes at MCCC, it wasn’t easy. She took advantage of the school’s tutoring and support programs and worked hard.
“If her class started at 8 a.m., she would get up at 5 a.m., get there early, and wait in the parking lot and study,” Avery said.
Through her classes, Hill expanded her culinary repertoire to include global cuisine, and experimented on family and friends.
“I love it when she brings her lessons to church,” said the Rev. Dr. Clayton Furlow, pastor of Philippian Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Hill’s congregation.
With her degree in sight, Hill hasn’t been able to stop crying.
She cried when she picked up her cap and gown. She cried when she picked up her tickets. She cried on the afternoon of graduation with financial-aid counselor Denise Nuccio, who had helped her find funds for tuition.
“I registered for four classes with no money. She made it happen,” Hill said of Nuccio.
Hill is now working as a chef at a nursing home where she cooks for the staff. She hopes to work at an instructor’s planned barbecue restaurant and plans to continue her education so that she can one day return to MCCC to teach.
Hill says she’s finally found her place. It’s where “people come together to eat, talk, and eat some more.”May 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm #89059
The GOP doesn’t oppose Richard Cordray. It opposes his whole agency.
By Mike Konczal,
Published: May 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Harry Reid could go nuclear this summer.
Reid is looking to take dramatic action to get Richard Cordray confirmed as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And according to reports this week, he’s likely to push for a major battle over the filibuster this summer once immigration reform is finished, but before the fall budget battle heats up. Although the massive increase in the use of the filibuster in recent years is a general problem, it’s of particular concern for financial reform. Instead of just disapproving of a candidate, Senate Republicans are explicitly blocking Cordray in order to rewrite important parts of Dodd-Frank they don’t like.
The GOP has been quite frank for several years now: their problem isn’t with Cordray, or with any specific candidate. They just don’t want anybody in the office with the CFPB structured the way it currently is under Dodd-Frank. Just look at the arguments conservatives put forward in early February, when 43 Republican senators signed a letter explaining why they would block any candidate for the position. (It’s very similar to a letter Republican senators signed in 2011.) The senators state, “We will continue to oppose the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until key structural changes [are made.]”
Conservatives are in a double bind when it comes to the CFPB. Their argument is that the CFPB “would wield nearly unprecedented powers” and lack “normal, democratic checks.” The CFPB, by their account, represents a major power grab on a scale never before attempted in the history of the regulatory state.
That is clearly wrong. The CFPB is structured to look like all the other banking regulators. Indeed, it is consciously modeled as a consumer-focused version of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). And as we’ll see, the powers that Republicans are arguing are unprecedented are actually the same powers and structures the other banking regulators have.This isn’t to say the CFPB isn’t a serious banking regulator. It is not a committee set up to go study something and make recommendations or an advisory panel that will disband before doing anything. Already it’s bringing accountability to the financial sector on behalf of consumers: It’s gone after illegal or deceptive practices at American Express, Discover, and Capital One and is bringing extensive new regulations to the housing market. It is, as they say, a big deal, and it is now the law of the land.
However, the law of the land also requires it to have an executive to be fully operational. As the Congressional Research Service summarized, “Until a CFPB Director is appointed, [Dodd-Frank] provides the Secretary the authority to exercise some, but not all of the Bureau’s authorities.“With the Senate stonewalling, President Obama recess-appointed Cordray. The constitutionality of this action was brought into question when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. rejected a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board made at the same time.
The status of the CFPB’s actions, authorities and regulations is a source of profound regulatory uncertainty. So why is the GOP blocking Cordray so aggressively? The Republican senators argue that there are three major changes they need to see before they’d let a nominee through. None of them are really things that make the CFPB less accountable or more likely to deliver worse rules than any other regulator.May 25, 2013 at 11:03 pm #89060
Time stands still in Cook County Jail for some inmates
BY FRANK MAIN
Accused rapist Andre Holmes has been locked up in the Cook County Jail for more than a decade — and he is still waiting to go to trial.
Holmes, 48, is accused of raping a female high-school acquaintance in 2002.
He is one of 40 inmates who have been held in the jail for more than five years, almost a third more than the number a decade ago. Those figures suggest the wheels of justice continue to grind slowly in Cook County’s criminal courts.
“Justice delayed is justice denied, both for the victim and the accused,” said John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group. “We haven’t been able to solve this problem. It’s time for Cook County to bring in an independent group outside of Illinois to look at this problem.”
Holmes is a poster boy for the issue.
Of the nearly 10,000 inmates in the Cook County Jail, he’s been waiting the longest for trial.
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