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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama the Nobel Prize: He Earned IT!!!!!!

In response to a student editorial claiming that President Obama did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, I said the following:

I found your editorial (President Obama does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, 10/12/2009) to be very shortsighted and "Fox News-ish." We are talking about an honor bestowed upon our president and the United States of America. The Nobel Prize for Peace is about the world!!! He was the recipient because of the impact he has made on the world. Rather than policies of warmongering, aggression, occupation, belligerence and arrogance, President Obama presents a new face for America. He has made a commitment that the U.S. does not torture or break other international laws. He extended a hand to the Muslim world. During his Cairo speech some in the audience yelled out "We love you!" a sentiment that received a thunderous applause. Even before he was elected, 200,000 people turned out to hear him speak in Berlin. Whether it is Europe, Africa, Asia, or Latin America, America is respected again. That has not been the case for many years and certainly not the eight years of Bush-Cheney. Having traveled in Europe, Africa, and Latin America during that time, George Bush, with all due respect for the institution of the presidency, was an embarrassment.

From its inception more than two centuries ago, America has been under the hegemony of white nationalism. The election of Barack Obama changed that. For the first time in American history, a president was elected without the majority of white voters. While 55% of whites voted for McCain, the overwhelming majority of the electorate that elected Obama was a coalition: 45% of whites, including a lot of students and young people, 95% of African Americans, 67% of Latino Americans, 62% of Asian Americans. It was his/our victory over white nationalism that presents a new America to the world. That alone merited him the Nobel prize. Having Barack Hussein Obama elected president of these United States and the "leader of the free world" is a giant step forward for America and the world.

You say: "Students should be critical of their president on what he can do for them, not what he can do for the rest of the world." Talk about being short-sighted? The last time I checked students are and will be a part of the world. The President is setting out to change our energy policy from fossil fuels to green energy. It seems to me that students should be concerned about climate change. The President has begun talks with the Russians to eliminate nuclear weapons. A world without the threat of nuclear annihilation should be of interest to students for their future and the future of their children. Does the editorial board really think his accomplishment, as President, should be about whether or not he is going to provide students money for their books or lower their tuition?

By February the the first, just a few days after his inauguration, the world was witnessing a new way in which America was going to interact with the world. The above are his historic "actions" over the past two years not simply "intentions." Yes, President Obama deserves the recognition for changing America and having the U.S. respected again. [End]

This could apply to the right wing as well. The problem is Obama keeps thrashing them. The more he wins, the more desperate they become. The rabid right is becoming unhinged!!! And Media Matters is exposing them. RGN

Media Matters: Right again makes an anti-American ass of itself following Obama's Nobel win
October 09, 2009 9:50 pm ET

On Friday, the nation awoke to the news that the Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to President Barack Obama. "I am both surprised and deeply humbled," Obama said that morning. "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership...I will accept this award as a call to action."

But sadly, Obama's words failed to touch the hearts of some of the world's most esteemed and principled critics and commentators, all of whom have proven their love for America and her values time and again. I'm kidding of course.

After resolutely working to undermine Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games and then roundly applauding the International Olympic Committee's decision to eliminate the U.S. city from competition, the right-wing media responded with furor to the Nobel Committee's decision. "I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota," wrote Erick Erickson at the conservative RedState, who just last week had laughed at the idea that Obama had improved America's standing in the world.

The full article

Monday, October 5, 2009

Krugman on Brats!!! The Right Wing Hissy fit about Chicago.

As usual Paul Krugman is right on target. When it was announced that Chicago had lost their bid to host the Olympics, the right wing cheered, and that includes the staff at the Weekly Standard (Bill Krystal and Rupert Murdock's publication that has never made a dime). Like Rush Limbaugh they want Obama ti fail. And in doing so, they wish America to fail. Their instincts are correct, politically. To be sure if Obama succeeds, conservatism might never see the light of day again. When everyone has healthcare, the American people will be thrilled. The lie of conservatism has been exposed for what it is: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Bill Krystal, Charles Kruathammer, Bill O'Reilly, Rupert Murdock, liars and sociopaths all. RGN

October 5, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
The Politics of Spite

There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago’s bid to be host of the 2016 Summer Games.

“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.

Now, it’s understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage — just as most Democrats opposed President Bush’s attempt to convert Social Security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.

But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.

The Republican campaign against health care reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main G.O.P. line of attack is the claim — based mainly on lies about death panels and so on — that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party’s traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.

Think about just how bizarre it is for Republicans to position themselves as the defenders of unrestricted Medicare spending. First of all, the modern G.O.P. considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan — and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare’s creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.) In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich tried to force drastic cuts in Medicare financing. And in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly decried the growth in entitlement spending — growth that is largely driven by rising health care costs.

But the Obama administration’s plan to expand coverage relies in part on savings from Medicare. And since the G.O.P. opposes anything that might be good for Mr. Obama, it has become the passionate defender of ineffective medical procedures and overpayments to insurance companies.

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let’s not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America’s real problems has to understand.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ron Walters: Violence on the Domestic Front and the Obama Administration

Walters addresses the violence in Chicago and what it means for the Obama presidency. The analysis is nuanced in that he recognizes that we are in a transition from 30 years of Republicans ignoring the cities. Even so, the Chicago killing means that there is an urgency to improving the conditions which foment such behavior. Walters calls for the White House to step up its urban policy initiatives. To do otherwise will only condemn other young people to this out of control mob behavior that is such a blight on black communities all across the nation, including mid-sized cities like Saginaw, Flint, and Pontiac in Michgan and their counterparts aroound the nation. RGN

Chicago School Violence and the Urban Crisis
By Ron Walters

It was with some concern that when the 16 year-old student Derrion Albert was killed recently by other youth wielding wooden clubs in Chicago, the White House responded by deciding to send Attorney General Eric Holder and Schools Chief Arne Duncan into the fray. First of all, we should be pleased that this incident attracted action by the White House at all, but my concern is that at base it is really not an issue of policing or one of school administration, since 400 youths have been killed in Chicago in the past year.

The missing piece of this was the White House Office on Urban Affairs. In his latest book, More Than Just Race, Professor William Julius Wilson’ legendary research on Chicago poverty concludes that people behave the way they are socialized and structural racism has had a big role in developing the culture through which blacks view and engage the world. He means by structural racism, segregation – isolation - from other races through systematic patterns of housing placement and discrimination, the lack of productive work and its replacement by illicit activity, intractable poverty and the psychological reinforcement of negative status stereotypes, and other things. These things undercut positive parenting and shape the response of youth to events in their environment.

Where Wilson comes out then is where many behavioral scientist do; environment has a strong influence on behavior and most often, one institution, such as the school is not strong enough to change it. This points back to doing something about the urban environment which has a systemic impact on the behavior of youths and others. With a 50% unemployment rate in most big cities for youth 16-18 years old, most youths now days leave school not headed for jobs, so what about using the Stimulus money to create more jobs for them? With the home foreclosure rate bringing down the price of housing, why not make it more attractive for low-income families to get normal mortgages and get out of apartments? And with the Stimulus grants now emphasizing the greening of public housing and other facilities, why not begin robust job training programs for youths who live in these areas?

This has to do with Urban policy, but when I look at what the new White House Office is doing, it seems from the tour in which Director Adolfo Carrion has been engaged, the emphasis is on fostering regional economic growth or “sustainability.” That is fine in one sense, because it fits in with my emphasis on jobs, but I don’t see robust programs in the tour preparing low-income folks to participate in the new opportunities that have come on stream in cities like Kansas City, Mo; Portland Oregon; and Denver Colorado.

Well, on one hand I get it, Urban policy has been so maligned in the past 30 years by conservatives that it has been ignored because it was problem oriented and peoples of color were pegged as the reason for the problems as opposed to the conditions under which most were forced to live. The Obama Administration is attempting to change the image of cities by connecting them to metro areas and placing them in the role of the engines of growth for the country and for their impact on the global economy.

This fair enough, but I don’t see how it works with Blacks and Hispanics becoming a larger share of the population and constituting populations that experience many of the social problems that drove whites away from cities into the suburbs in the first place. And now that whites are coming back into many cities and Blacks are moving to the suburbs, the problems that were once considered strictly “Urban” are now part of the Metro areas. So, there still needs to be strong programs dealing with poverty elimination, job creation, excellent education in the public schools, and the like. All of the research I have seen suggests when this happens and the environment improves, violence will decrease. Without urgent action, the White House had better get ready for an increase in such violent incidents among youth in other cities as the unemployment rate for Blacks moves from 16% now to over 20% by next year.

So, I would hope that the White House does not make the Chicago situation a “drive-by” event but uses it as a paradigm for its new approach to urban-metro America.

Dr. Ron Walters is Professor of Government and Politics Emeritus at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is, The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press).