Tag Archive for President Obama

AntiWar But Supporting Obama on Libya

The beginning of U.S. and NATO military attacks on Libya came as a surprise to most Americans — not least anti-war and pro-peace voters like myself who have supported President Obama as a candidate and now as chief executive. I was at the start, and remain, deeply concerned about the path the president is choosing.
There is a strong anti-war case for staying out of Libya Read more

No Fly Guy

No one said being President was going to be easy. And no one was right. You get yelled at for doing things and you get yelled at for not doing things. Often both times by the same people Read more

Vietnam WarEra Bombs Cause Current Day Casualties Demonstrating Need for Updated Weapons Technology

In Laos recently, a 10-year-old boy was killed by a buried bomb he and a friend disturbed while playing. While his friend was killed instantly, the boy survived the initial blast. In a video exhibit at Vientiane’s Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), his parents recount the details of the horrific injuries inflicted by the explosion and their frantic search for a truck to take him to the hospital. Their son survived the long trip to the nearest city and the ride to a second hospital but was denied medical care at both Read more

Big Coal Giveaway

This week, in the heart of one of the nation’s best potential wind energy-producing regions, the Powder River Basin, the Obama administration handed away thousands of acres of federal land — land owned by you and me — to the coal industry.
Coal companies have been pushing to expand mining in the West, and they are no doubt uncorking champagne right now in celebration of this enormous gift. But for those of us who aren’t coal executives, the giveaway comes at a high cost.
The new coal will spew nearly 4 billion tons of carbon pollution into our air — the equivalent of building 300 new coal-fired power plants, or twice the amount of new coal plants proposed by the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan back in 2001. It’s not just the global warming pollution that’s worrisome. Burning coal produces all kinds of other toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems Read more

Economic Policy Makers Need to Get Real

I wonder if other economic observers were shaken to the extent I was by recent comments by seemingly disparate actors, William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, and President Obama. The former sought to downplay the extent of price inflation by explaining that as is true with iPad devices and other consumer electronics, we are often receiving more for our money today than in the past.
“Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,” he said referring to Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) latest handheld tablet computer hitting stories on Friday.
“You have to look at the prices of all things,” he said.
The latter, referred to cars getting eight or ten MPG as having poor fuel economy.
When our policy-makers are out of touch with economic reality to this extent and not even embarrassed about it, it’s hard to be confident about our economic future. Mr Read more

Whats the Real Mission In Libya

What is the real mission in Libya? Not the no-fly zone– that’s a method. So what is the mission? How do we end this thing?
The president said in Santiago yesterday that the military mission isn’t aimed at getting rid of Gadhafi. He said we have other means to do that-sanctions and money freezes and that stuff.
Well, excuse me for being skeptical, Mr. President, but we’ve done all that before and regimes have survived it for years-many years Read more

Citizens United Will Be Overturned by Unions

Citizens United is not the last word on corporate speech. In the Citizens United vs. FEC decision, the Court of the Land, narrowly controlled by a majority of conservative judges, overruled the most recent lower court judgments on the issue of corporate rights to political speech. It will take time to sort it out with a likely Amendment to the Constitution, but we don’t have much time Read more

Arizonas Witch Hunt of MexicanEthnic Studies Begins This Week

Only days after the Arizona state legislature voted for punishing budget cuts in education, the now infamous witch hunt and audit of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American/Ethnic Studies program is readying to commence. Price tag: An estimated $170,000.
In a blistering letter yesterday, Tucson attorney Richard Martinez warned the backpedaling TUSD superintendent John Pedicone that the audit “lacks any legal basis,” and “should immediately cease and desist.” Representing the Mexican American Studies teachers and the Save Ethnic Studies organization in Tucson, Martinez called the investigation a “violation of federal mandates set forth in the Family, Education and Privacy Rights Act of 1974,” among other abuses, and called on Pedicone to “confirm without delay that TUSD’s cooperation will cease immediately or at a minimum comport with all applicable legal mandates.”
Only two months ago, the newly hired Pedicone had referred to Arizona’s notorious HB211 law as “unconstitutional.” If found in violation of the law, which bans any studies that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals,” TUSD could lose an estimated $36 million in funding Read more

No Fly A Tactic in Search of a Strategy

One of the unfortunate imperatives of public life is that when something is the lead story, you think you’ve got to be doing something about it. Not just have an opinion on it. Be doing something about it.
Volcano erupts? Prepare a news release on the new anti-volcano policy.
Zombies are multiplying? Introduce anti-zombie legislation.
Well, Libya’s been on the front page for a month now. Demonstrations Read more

Enjoy the Basketball While You Can

For reasons I do not totally understand, after four days of wall-to-wall college basketball my NCAA brackets place me in the 96th percentile. While this is not quite in President Obama’s league — he is at 99.9th percentile — it is a “personal best” – at least so far. The games, for the most part, have been awesome, and there are two great weeks of hoops ahead.
The delight of the annual college basketball festival has almost made me forget the NFL lockout, now in a two-week hiatus before the federal judge in Minneapolis holds a hearing on the request of former members of the Union for an injunction. The April 6th hearing obviously will be important for the NFL and the new trade association of football players, but also it will be vital for sports law in general.
The court will have to decide in the first instance whether, in fact, the Union decertification was valid Read more

On Black Men

When I first read the play “Fences” by August Wilson, it was 1993 and I had been given a second book contract to write a companion volume to my first book, “I Know What the Red Clay Looks.” The companion volume would be with black men writers, and I gave it the title “Swing Low” — an homage to the Negro spiritual, of course, but also because at that time, I very much thought about black maleness as the missing quantity in my life (I was adopted by a white family at birth, and reunited with my white birthmother when I was 11). When I thought of what that missing quantity might sound like, what I heard was a dark, honeyed hum — a chariot chorus in the distance, coming to carry me home to the black identity I was still then creating.
“Fences,” the title being a central metaphor throughout the play for walls and difficult choices, integrity and conviction, tells the story of a black family in 1950s Pittsburg led by patriarch Troy Maxson, a tragic hero whose life of highs and lows can perhaps best be summed up in this passage, with Troy trying to explain himself to his wife:
It’s an extraordinary passage, a phenomenal piece of writing, but the reason I was so moved by it back then was because at the time, I was involved with a black man about whom I desperately needed to believe was a kind of modern day Troy Maxson — his infidelities and shortcomings assuaged by his raw charm and charisma, his unapologetic black manliness in a cruel world of racial disparity. Coincidentally, right around that same time, I met my birthfather, my sole (then) living black relative, who had been described to me by my birthmother only once and like this: “Basically, he was a dog.”
Sitting across from me at the Au Bon Pain in Cambridge, Mass., not far from the Salvation Army where he was then living, my birthfather did not really send out a “dog” type vibe. His potbelly tested the zipper of his natty red nylon tracksuit, as his forehead gleamed with sweat and his eyes fell swollen and sad Read more

New Directions Religious and Community Leaders Address the Failed Drug War

On Saturday, March 19th, an unprecedented collection of community advocates, service providers, public safety personnel and public health professionals will come together at a day-long conference to chart a new course in drug policy that could serve as a model for the nation. The New Directions conference will examine the decades-old ramifications of President Nixon’s declaration of the “war on drugs” in urban communities like Newark and African American communities in particular.
One of the unique themes of the conference will be how the war on drugs has increased prohibition-related violence, leading to declines in property values, the evaporation of local businesses, and an array of social ills in urban areas. Convened at Bethany Baptist Church, one of the oldest and largest African-American churches in Newark, the conference will speak to the unique concerns and viewpoints of communities of color as they look for new ways to reduce the harms of drug use and drug prohibition Read more

Love Mountains and Miners Show Me the Money or a Coalfields Regeneration Fund

A 42-year-old coal miner in southern Illinois recently asked me a question I couldn’t answer: Who took Van Jones’ job in the Obama administration as the green jobs administrator?
Anxious to find a job in another field in a depressed town with no industry (but cross-country truck driving opportunities), my coal miner friend recognized that Van Jones understood, as a I wrote a year ago, that strip-mining operations have blindsided any progress for sustainable or diversified economic development and clean energy jobs in coal mining regions from Appalachia to Alaska.
Van Jones, alone in Washington, had included coal miners in his green jobs crusade.
Love mountains and miners? Want to end mountaintop removal strip-mining and get floundering labor, greens and jobs-scared coal-rich state Democrats at the same table?
It’s time to campaign for a joint public/private Coalfields Regeneration Fund.
Or, as my coal miner friend in southern Illinois badgered me, if the federal and state governments can provide billions of dollars in subsidies for multinational coal corporations during record years of profits, why can’t we establish a specific fund to assist impoverished coalfield communities into clean industries?
This coal miner, like many I have interviewed over the past decade, can’t wait to find another job Read more

Earthquake Denial Why is Peabody Building a Massive CoalFired Plant in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

As the second explosion at a nuclear power plant in Japan blew the roof off a containment area today, and authorities attempted to downplay the radiation fallout unleashed by the devastating earthquake, I’ve been thinking about the “Big Shake” in my southern Illinois coalfields and Big Coal’s policy of denial:
Why is Peabody Energy building one of the biggest coal-fired plants in the nation in the New Madrid Seismic zone?
A boondoggle in the making, the Peabody Prairie Energy plant has already doubled in construction costs–the ballooning $4.4 billion price tag will now be shouldered on utility ratepayers, among others.
But the spiraling costs–not to mention the 12 million tons of CO2 emissions that will annually be released–are nothing compared to a potential earthquake disaster.
Peabody’s 1,600-megawatt pulverized-coal plant is being built in Lively Grove, in southern Illinois–between the Wabash seismic and New Madrid fault lines. Anyone with a lick of history knows what happened in Lively Grove during the “Big Shake” of 1811, when the largest earthquake in US history in nearby New Madrid, Missouri altered the very waterways that will feed into the Peabody mine-mouth operation.
In brief: In the early hours of December 11, 1811, a rumbling noise swept across the southern Illinois region like a guttural moan of thunder. Then came the shocks and cracks Read more

President Obama Gets It Wrong On the Price of Oil and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

On Friday, facing criticism of his energy policies against claims that he has caused prices to rise by having clamped down on domestic production of oil, President Obama sought to reassure the public that global oil supplies were adequate (NYTimes “Energy Policy Defended as Prices Rise” 03.11.11). He pointedly emphasized that supplies were sufficient to offset current political instability in the Middle East.
In the same breath he also ruled out any immediate release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR). Integral to that statement, to that decision, President Obama revealed a dangerous lack of understanding of how oil markets currently function. Yes, there is adequate supply Read more

The World Is on Fire Are We Fiddling While It Burns

Think about it — the earthquake, tsunami and potential nuclear disasters in Japan; the earthquakes in New Zealand, Chile and Haiti; revolutions and protests in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, and Oman; slaughter in the Ivory Coast by a brutal dictator; continued fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. And in the U.S., the largest demonstration ever over worker rights in Wisconsin, flooding in Kentucky, rising oil prices, and tsunami damage in California.
It’s hard not to conclude that this is an impossibly difficult time for us and for the rest of the world. Is the U.S. responding appropriately you might ask? Is the president “fiddling” while the world seems to explode with danger and disaster? What would we want the president to do and say that would make us feel less unsettled and helpless? There are two distinct views on the administration’s approach
Read more

Jay Inslee and the Power of Stating the Obvious

Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) recently commented that Republicans have “an allergy to science and scientists” during a congressional hearing targeting the EPA. This observation is significant not because of its insight, as Inslee was doing little more than stating the obvious. It is, however, unusual to hear a member of congress make these kinds of matter of fact statements. While debate in congress is often quite intense, Democrats seem uncomfortable saying these kinds of things even when they are painfully obvious Read more

Our Priorities Should Not Include the Defense of DOMA

This week, Speaker of the House John Boehner is convening his committee intending to represent the government in court in defense of the various pending legal challenges to what is commonly referred to as “DOMA”, or the “Defense of Marriage Act”. Because of DOMA, the Federal Government does not recognize same-sex marriages. Because of DOMA, marriages that legally take place in one state, do not get automatic recognition in other states where same-sex marriage is prohibited. The legislation, implemented at the Federal level, gives legitimacy to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians Read more

Time to Act on Iran

For the past three weeks, tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets in Iran once again, demanding democracy and an end to the regime. Popular protests continue to haunt the fundamentalist rulers at a critical time in the region’s history. But without offering support to the Iranian people and their main opposition, this critical window of opportunity will be closed, and it will be much harder and too late to deal with the Iranian regime’s threat.
For the West, the expression of legitimate demands for freedoms and human rights across the Middle East has meant that the era of choosing tyrannical stability over democracy as a matter of foreign policy has ended.
To alleviate concerns about the role of religious fundamentalism in the region’s future, Washington should stop talking to the fundamentalist mullahs and start listening to the Iranian people.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have offered encouragement to the protestors. But, if not translated into tangible actions, words and concerns are simply benign.
Washington should stay ahead of the curve in the Middle East and update its policies faster Read more

Main Street Goes to War Against Itself as Job Crisis Persists

The February unemployment rate is 8.9 percent. The broader Bureau of Labor Statistics U6 jobless rate is 15.9 percent. The report shows a net increase of 192,000 jobs. However, we need 127,000 new jobs every month to keep up with population growth Read more

Wisconsin Is Front Line of GOP War on Democrats So Where Are the National Democrats

I wrote two weeks ago about how Gov. Scott Walker’s so-called budget repair bill was part of a larger Republican war on the working class. And the events of the last two weeks have backed that up.
Walker’s proposed budget, released yesterday, cuts taxes for the wealthy while drastically reducing funds for education. (Apparently Walker admires his colleagues in Southern red states, where low education spending directly correlates with low student achievement.) Howard Schweber did a great job outlining the insidiousness of Walker’s budget.
And we were treated to Walker speaking to a blogger pretending to be David Koch, making it clear that he is on a mission to return Wisconsin to the 1920s, regardless of how policies affect the state’s non-millionaire citizens Read more

Tim DeChristopher Deserves the Medal of Freedom Today Not a Prison Sentence

When President Obama conferred the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal on several American heroes yesterday, including Kentucky poet Wendell Berry, he forgot one last award: The Medal of Freedom to Tim DeChristopher.
Instead of being convicted today on two felony accounts for placing bids and disrupting an auction for pristine wilderness Utah sites that would have been opened to gas and oil exploration, 27-year-old Tim DeChristopher should have been receiving our nation’s highest honor for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States.”
In truth, according to DeChristopher supporters, the leases auctioned to DeChristopher were later overturned by the Obama administration on the grounds that the George W. Bush administration’s Bureau of Land Management had failed to complete the analysis required by federal law for the “protection of national and cultural resources.”
Mr. President: Just as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr Read more

Huckabees Move

Mike Huckabee has not declared he is a candidate for president, but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows he is now the favored candidate among Republicans. 25 percent of those polled supported the former Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor, edging out former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who had 21 percent in the poll.
Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008, has always played the nice guy. In his latest book he writes, “If you’ve come here looking for a personal attack on President (Barack) Obama and those in Washington, you should head to another shelf in the bookstore.” The book, which he is busy promoting, is called, A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need From Washington (And a Trillion That We Don’t!).
Of course, Huckabee was a preacher in Arkansas for 12 years beginning in the early eighties Read more