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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Drink, or Donate: Lesser of Two Evils?

    OK, if the dilapidated barn photo mystified you, try this one on for size:


Is this the campaign equivalent of a designated driver?  Designated donator?  Is the campaign implying that its supporters might need to be persuaded to lay off the bottle?  Is this another subtle indication of the panic setting in among the Democrats?

Nothing Says "Forward" Like a Big, Old Barn [Updated]

    The Obama campaign just posted this photo on the site's blog today:


Hmmmmmm.  This might not be the mental image that the Obama campaign would wish to plant in the minds of voters.


 UPDATE: OK, I was wrong. Now they tweeted the photo.

Given that they appear open to suggestions, I have one of my own:

Source for unedited photo is here.
Yes, I know.  I should just invest in some decent photo-editing software.  But it's the thought that counts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Obama Campaign Blog: Is This "Story of Recovery" Fact or Fiction? - Part 3

Note: This is Part 3 of a post that was published on Wednesday, July 25th.

    Much of my coverage of the BarackObama.com blog's Story of Recovery of Joseph Nicolas's business has focused on the subject of the posting, Joseph Nicolas.  However, I did report some background of the writer of the post as well, the recent high school graduate Austin Wright-Pettibone.  As it turns out, the day before I published my first story on Nicolas, Wright-Pettibone (left, in photo) was among those greeting President Obama as he arrived in Seattle, WA, on July 24, 2012, for a couple of fund raising events (via AP photos at Daylife.com.)


Wright-Pettibone has a similar image on his Facebook account:


Wright-Pettibone's participation in the greeting event was noted by a friend of his on the Facebook page of Washington United for Marriage:
My friend, Austin Wright-Pettibone, is set to greet President Obama when he arrives in Air Force One today! LUCKY him!! sweet....       July 24 at 12:54pm 

    Although I still have no evidence to suggest Wright-Pettibone knew of Joseph Nicolas's background or the inconsistencies in his story when the blog post was written, his apparently increasing profile in the Obama campaign, at least on a local level in Seattle, will only serve to magnify the impact if Nicolas's tale turns out to be false.  And while I say there's no evidence Wright-Pettibone knew Nicolas's background, Nicolas, as Ariel Anatole, is one of only 37 followers of Wright-Pettibone's Twitter account, so it seems unlikely Wright-Pettibone is entirely unaware of Nicolas's alias.  [Note: For full disclosure, as you might notice if you clicked on the link,  I am following Wright-Pettibone on Twitter as part of my effort to get additional information about this story.]  If Wright-Pettibone or anyone from the Obama campaign responds to my emails or these blog posts, I will follow up and post the additional information.

Part 4 is now posted here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Obama Campaign Blog: Is This "Story of Recovery" Fact or Fiction? - Part 2

Note: This is Part 2 of a post that was published on Wednesday, July 25th.

    Several days ago, I reported on the remarkable and increasingly strange and incredible Story of Recovery of the business of Joseph Nicolas that was first told by the Barack Obama campaign blog on March 28, 2012.  I have found several other resources that link Ariel Anatole with Joseph Nicolas, including this OK Cupid profile and this Shelfari profile.  The photos match other Ariel Anatole profiles to which I linked in my original posting on Nicolas and also the photo on the BarackObama.com blog post.  In addition, I located a YouTube profile for Ariel Anatole.  One of the "favorited" videos on this profile is an MPower video of outakes from a 1997 interview with "Joseph."   I found this same "Joseph" in another 1997 MPower video identified as being from Albuquerque, NM.  Here is a screenshot from this video (around the 9:07 mark):


The Ariel Anatole Live Journal profile places him in Albuquerque in the mid-1990s.  [Update: I found a reference to the video on his Live Journal account. In 2009, Ariel wrote: "An interview I did 12 years ago with an HIV prevention youth group."]  Although the picture is from 15 years ago, there is certainly a close resemblance not only to the more recent pictures of Ariel Anatole (Shelfari):

but also to the photo of Joseph Nicolas used on the BarackObama.com blog:


And now, via the MPower video, the name "Joseph" is linked as well.

    In addition to this further evidence that Ariel Anatole and Joseph Nicolas are one and the same person, I have found more evidence that casts doubt on the Story of Recovery as well.  The following entries are from the Live Journal account of Ariel Anatole (alias Joseph Nicolas) that I have mentioned several times before.  The entries are not listed in any particular order:

10/1/2011
As a former small business owner I am well aware of how banks use debit and credit cards to reap huge profits. [emphasis mine]
2/28/2011:
I am self employed because there isn't an employer including myself I did not cheat, or downright steal from...I lie.  There is not a person alive or dead that I have not lied to. Yes my disease has a lot to do with this, but again it is not the end all excuse.  I have, and do realize after the fact that I have lied.  Every time this happens I make a choice to not correct the lie, out of shame, and fear I either continue the lie, or simply hide in my own Delusions, or worse I run.  These are not the actions of a basically decent, good person.  Those actions can not be explained away by my disease, I own those actions.
2/13/2011:
In my younger days I was a telemarketer.  I was the person calling you during dinner to get you to change your long distance carrier.  I worked for MCI (pre Worldcom) at a call center in Albuquerque.  My stint at Dessert Hills was finally over and I found myself in the real world.  The pay was great and I genuinely liked the people I worked with.  Of course some of the time a caller would go off on me and I would laugh it off and move on.  Telemarketing suited my illness well, each new call allowed me to become a completely different person.  During high cycles I made a killing, more than enough to buffer me when low cycles hit.  I would work for a a couple of months take a leave of absence due to my disease and was always welcomed back when I was well again.  The great thing about sales jobs is if your a good seller the bosses let you get away with a lot.  I was an amazing seller.  I went on to work for AOL and a few other small telemarketing companies, I was planning on making it my career.
3/1/2011:
I had a great telemarketing job at an AOL call center that paid insanely well but knew I couldn't maintain that for much longer.  So a weekend getaway turned into a permanent stop.  I stayed at the hotel for a month, found an apartment, and managed to hang on for a little over a year.  In that time I managed to live in a three bedroom penthouse near Seattle University, and a host job at a downtown restaurant; then a rented room on Capitol Hill, and a waiting job in Bellevue, then a rented room in Bellevue and telemarketing job in Bellevue.  The whole company was a scam, a pyramid scheme and I again found myself making really good money, moved back to Capitol Hill another rented  room, in a huge house.  I told people I owned the house.  My employers pyramid scheme started to topple and I bailed out before the demise to another telemarketing job, that lasted less than a month before I burned out and found myself back in Albuquerque, NM.
3/14/2011:
Father did 'own' a mortgage company; however if he did earn anything from this venture we never saw it.  Nor can I find any clients, just an office and business licence ( I suspect that his 'company' was a lot like my Venture Capitalist Delusion).
3/5/2011:
I still have failed to tell the man who thinks I'm a Venture Capitalist that everything he knows about me is a lie.  I've kept up the base facade created during a DD episode.  I've told him that our investors have backed out.  If that was all then just maybe I could have some self respect, but it doesn't stop there.  I actually told him, I am looking or new investors.  Not only do I lack the spine to fess up to my delusion, I perpetrate it further by holding the door open.
2/13/2011:
On Friday my doorbell rang and I answered it without looking through the keyhole.  There in front of me was someone I had lied to.  He believes I am a Venture Capitalist and that I want to invest in his business idea.  Standing there I should of just revealed what I really am.  A very sick, extremely troubled person.  Instead I lied my way out of.  I used to think this was not a bad thing.  In the end he's gone and no one is really hurt.  The truth is, every single time I lie and know about it, I cause harm to myself and those around me.  I know this now, and still have this persons phone number, all it would take is a call.  A call unfortunately that will not be placed because I am still a coward.


    In his own words, Ariel/Joseph appears to be a very "troubled person."  I still have no response from the Obama campaign or the blog post author Austin Wright-Pettibone, but the evidence is casting more and more doubt on the purported Story of Recovery of the business of Joseph Nicolas.  What remains to be seen is how this story came to be included on the blog of President Obama and how long it will take the campaign to respond by defending and backing up the story, or retracting it and taking it down.  I have received some feedback recently from my original posting on July 25th that has shed further light on the background and credibility of Joseph Nicolas.  If anyone else has information about Joseph Nicolas or his business, email me by clicking here.  I will continue to follow up and post Part 3 of this series as soon as further developments warrant such an update.


Part 3 is now posted here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Student Loan Apples and Mortgage Loan Oranges

    For several months leading up to a July 1st deadline, the president's Twitter feed was filled with urgent warnings to followers to urge Congress to extend the interest rate reduction on Stafford student loans.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the president's tendency for what Politico, in a case of anti-hyperbole, termed "hyperbole."  In reality, it was a blatant misstatement of fact, inflating the potential savings to students by a factor of eleven.  I didn't realize it at the time, but this deception had actually begun in April:


Incredibly, two months later, the president was using the same line, largely unchallenged.  The fact was that the $1,000 figure was the amount that a student loan holder would save over the life of the loan, generally 12 years.  The president's plan worked and Congress acquiesced rather than be blamed for sticking it to the poor students.

    Now that the president and Congress have saved certain student loan holders a whopping $7/month or 25¢/day, President Obama has turned his attention back to mortgage holders:


The president is harking back to a proposal he had set forth in February:
Broad Based Refinancing to Help Responsible Borrowers Save an Average of $3,000 per Year: The President’s plan will provide borrowers who are current on their payments with an opportunity to refinance and take advantage of historically low interest rates, cutting through the red tape that prevents these borrowers from saving hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year.
Note that the annual savings claim is present again.  However, this time, there's actually something to it.    There is an example in the original proposal about how the savings are realized:


EXAMPLE: How Refinancing Can Benefit a Borrower With a Non-GSE Loan
 A borrower has a non-GSE mortgage originated in 2005 with a 6 percent rate and an initial balance of $300,000 – resulting in monthly payments of about $1,800.
 The outstanding balance is now about $272,000 and the borrower’s home is now worth $225,000, leaving the borrower underwater (with a loan-to-value ratio of about 120%).
 Though the borrower has been paying his mortgage on time, he cannot refinance at today’s historically low rates.
 Under the President’s legislative plan, the borrower would be eligible to refinance into a 4.25% percent 30-year loan, which would reduce monthly payments by about $460 a month.

Reducing payments $460/month results in a cash flow savings of $5,520.  (Actual "savings" would be less; $272,000 at 6% for a year is $16,320; $272,000 at 4.25% for a year is $11,560; the interest savings is $4,760.  This is a rough calculation; the real savings would be less as the years go after taking the amortization of principal into account.) However, this example does not represent the "average" borrower.   The average balance on mortgages these days is about $155,000, not $272,000.
    So I have used this amount, $155,000, plus the current average rate borrowers are paying on outstanding mortgages (5.09% per the Commerce Department) and the current average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate (3.53% per Freddie Mac.)  The above example then becomes a $176,000 mortgage taken out in 2005 at 5.09% with payments of $955 per month.  The principal balance is now $155,000.  Refinancing at 3.53% would yield a monthly payment of $696 per month, a reduction of $259 per month, or $3,108 over the course of a year.  Bingo!  The president's claim is correct!
    Sort of.  As I indicated above, there is a difference between cash flow "savings" and actual "savings."  Let's say you owe someone $500 and agree to pay them $100/year for 5 years.  Times are tough, so they agree to have you pay them back over 10 years at $50/year.  Your cash flow savings is $50/year, but in reality you have "saved" nothing - you still have to repay $1,000.  And if they are charging you interest, the longer term will actually cost you more.
    That is similar to what is going on here with the president's claim of a $3,000/year savings.  It's a cash flow savings.  Granted, that's what most people are interested in, and the benefit to household budgets in tough economic times would certainly be tangible.  But during the student loan debate, the emphasis (obscured as it was) was on total savings over the course of the loan, not the 25¢ per day.
    So what is the real savings for the average mortgage holder?  Under the original loan, $955/month for 30 years is $343,800.  Under the refinance, the mortgage holder pays $955/month for 7 years, or $80,220 (2005-2011).  Beginning in 2012, the payment is $696/month, but due to the refinance, the term of the loan now extends 30 years again, not just the 23 years left from the original mortgage term.  A payment of $696/month for 30 years is $250,560, plus the $80,220 already paid totals $330,780.  The difference after refinancing?  An actual dollar savings over the life of the loan of $13,020, or $434/year.  Still a savings, yes, but the mortgage holder is in debt seven years longer than before.  (Based on his $5 trillion increase in the national debt, long-term debt doesn't weigh heavily on the mind of the president.)

    I know, I know... I wrote the above and even I can barely follow it.  Accountants might be the only ones reading these words since non-accountants eyes probably glazed over several paragraphs ago.  But the bottom line is this: the president ignored and even distorted the 25¢ per day cash flow savings that was at stake during the student loan debate and used a trumped up "additional $1,000 in debt... per year" to sell his position.  Now that the immediate cash flow savings is truly significant, the president focuses there rather than the less attractive but comparable $1.19/day savings over the life of the refinanced mortgage.  Time and again, Barack Obama has shown he will stretch the truth or frame the facts in whatever way is most favorable to his positions.  And time and again, his opponents must call him on it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Obama Campaign Blog: Is This "Story of Recovery" Fact or Fiction?

    President Obama could use Joseph Nicolas's help after the controversy stirred up by his "If you own a business, you didn't build that" speech.  As a March 2012 blog post at BarackObama.com tells it, Nicolas's company could be the poster child for the president's portrayal of the public-private partnership that he believes is the key to building and preserving America's economic success.
    Joseph Nicolas was struggling to keep his small business afloat.  The telemarketing job about which Nicolas was passionate had been outsourced to India and he was faced with two choices: "follow the job and run an India-based call center or start his own business here in the United States."  He chose the latter.  But as it was the end of the Bush administration and money was scarce, he was forced to hire a third-party company to help.  Things were looking bleak.  Failure loomed.
    But then, in rode the federal government.  As Nicolas puts it, "If it wasn’t for the Obama administration and his small business programs, I would not be in business today." He was able to get help from the Recovery Act as well as a Social Security Administration initiative targeting the hiring of the disabled.  He soon added 15 jobs, and plans on adding 10 more with a year, and can even offer his employees health insurance, thanks to ObamaCare.  Nicolas says, "There’s no way I could do that without [a government subsidy]."  To top it all off he's even been able to open a new office in the prestigious Columbia Tower in Seattle where he rubs elbows with major corporations such as Amazon.  All in all, Nicolas's is a remarkable Obama administration "Story of Recovery."

    There's just one catch.  Very little of the story can be verified, and some is demonstrably untrue.  Just for starters, the blog post says that Nicolas "is now able to secure larger contracts after having opened an office in the Columbia Tower with [major corporations such as] Amazon and the Virginia Mason Hospital."*  However, according to the Seattle Times, Amazon vacated their offices in Columbia Tower (now the Columbia Center) for newer quarters in 2011 - the blog post about Nicolas's company was published on March 27, 2012.  Virginia Mason Hospital is located several blocks away from the Columbia Center.  There is no evidence they have or ever had offices in the Columbia Center.  I contacted the Communications and Public Relations Department of Virginia Mason Medical Center who confirmed this finding.  Two of the most easily verifiable facts in the story are wrong.
    What then of Nicolas's business?  The story implies Nicolas started a telemarketing business to pursue his passion.  However, several online resources identify Nicolas as a Licensed Massage Practitioner, among them AskYP and Hot Frog.  Both of these sites list Nicolas's business address as 1301 1st Avenue in Seattle, which is in a building complex called Harbor Steps (AskYP lists Suite 815), not the Columbia Center.  The phone number (206-354-5722) is the same phone number listed for Joseph Nicolas seven times on BarackObama.com (here and here) as the contact phone number for Nicolas as the host of Obama campaign events.  And it is also the same number listed for Anatole Massage on multiple online directories.  So where does "Anatole" fit in?
   As it happens, Joseph Louis Nicolas himself is apparently better known online as Ariel Anatole.  There is a Facebook account under that name, a Live Journal account, and a Twitter account, as well.  The photos of Joseph/Ariel on those accounts are somewhat ambiguous, but the photos on Ariel's Real Jock account (left) are unmistakably the same individual pictured (see above photo) at BarackObama.com.  Several other online resources also link Joseph Nicolas and Ariel Anatole: Peek You, Merchant Circle, and My Life.  Taken separately, the reliability of these online records might appear dubious, but in the aggregate, along with the shared phone number for Joseph Nicolas and Anatole Massage, they establish a clear link between the Joseph Nicolas of the blog post and Ariel Anatole.
    So what of the funds reportedly received via the Recovery Act and the SSA program?  I contacted Recovery.gov and asked them about a loan or grant to a Joseph Nicolas.  Their reply was as follows:
All information on recipients displayed on Recovery.gov comes directly from the reports the recipients submit.  In most instances, the recipients are not required to name officers of the company.  We have searched for “Joseph Nicolas” but there are no results which is probably an indication that information about the award the company received was submitted under the company’s name.   However, if you’re willing to do some digging you might be able to find the information using the Recovery Explorer.  Choose the State of Washington, and Seattle. You will then be able to see all the recipients of awards in the city of Seattle.
    I searched the aforementioned database in various ways, for "Nicolas", "Joseph Nicolas", "Ariel Anatole", "Anatole", and other combinations and could not turn up anything.  I also searched for physical therapy businesses, massage businesses, and telemarketing businesses in the Seattle area and came up with no matches for anything like Nicolas's business.
    Next, I contacted the Social Security Administration and asked them first about Joseph Nicolas and a possible grant.  The reply I received was a terse, "The Administration does not have any information concerning this."  I made the same request about "Anatole Massage" and received another terse but rather oddly worded reply, "Social Security Administration  doesn't have to know about this ,yet [sic]." These replies were so non-specific and cryptic that I am hesitant to assume they are the definitive answer, but on the face they seem to mirror the results from Recovery.gov.  Absolutely nothing.
    My last attempt to find Nicolas's company was to search for a telemarketing firm located in the Columbia Center, which is located in Seattle at 701 5th Avenue.  The search brought up two results:  One is called Outsource to India and the other Call Centers India.  Needless to say, it seems unlikely the Obama campaign could be interested in broadcasting either of these companies as Stories of Recovery after having spent months blasting Mitt Romney for outsourcing jobs overseas at Bain Capital.
    Obviously, since none of the preceding information could be verified, other details such as the "third-party company", the fifteen new employees, and the plug for ObamaCare are also called into question.  How is it possible that a growing and apparently prosperous business located in an iconic building in one of the largest cities in the Northwest could be so difficult to track down?


    Next I turned to the author of the blog post.  Austin Wright-Pettibone's profile at Linked-In lists him as the "Digital Lead - King County at Obama for America."  A Google search of BarackObama.com reveals that Wright-Pettibone has been quite a prolific writer for the site.  Although he often writes about LBGT-related issues, his posts cover broader topics as well, often appearing on the local Washington state blog of the campaign's website.  But on a number of occasions, his work appears on the national blog as well.  The Joseph Nicolas post is one such story.
    Wright-Pettibone wrote the Joseph Nicolas story in March 2012 when he was a senior at Inglemore High School in Kenmore, Washington, where he wrote for the school newspaper, the Nordic News.  He also writes for the Bothell Reporter, a Seattle-area publication, which in fact published an article by Wright-Pettibone only a few weeks after the Nicolas blog post was published at BarackObama.com. 
    My attempts to contact Wright-Pettibone about his story have gone unanswered.  I attempted to reach him through Facebook, his Flickr account, and finally Twitter to no avail.  I also emailed the Washington office of Obama for America on June 25th as follows:

I am trying to reach Austin Wright-Pettibone.
----------------------------------
Dear Austin:
I read your blog post on BarackObama.com dated March 27th about Joseph Nicolas.  I am interested in finding out more about his business and his story, but the post does not mention the name.  Can you tell me what his company is called?
Thanks,
Jerry Bier 
I received this reply on July 4th, though it was unsigned:
Hi Jeryl,
Thanks for your email! We have forwarded it to Joseph and asked him to get in touch with you. 
However, I heard nothing and sent a follow-up email on July 10th, but still received no reply from Nicolas or Wright-Pettibone.  More recently, on July 19th, I sent yet another follow-up:
It’s been nearly four weeks since I sent my first email, and I am still waiting to find out the name of Joseph Nicolas’s business that was the subject of the March 27th “Stories of Recovery” blog post.  Does anyone at OFA know the answer?
I have not received a reply to this email either.  I made one final attempt at emailing on Tuesday, July 25th:
I am close to publishing an article concerning the blog post on BarackObama.com dated March 27th about Joseph Nicolas by Austin Wright-Pettibone.  I have not been able to confirm any of the facts in the blog post, and have found at least two statements to be wrong.  Additionally, I can only find one business associated with Joseph Nicolas, that being Anatole Massage.  Is this the business that is the subject of the blog post?  Neither Austin Wright-Pettibone or Joseph Nicolas have responded to my attempts to reach them about this story.  I would appreciate any documentation that they or the Obama for America organization can provide to back up the claims in the blog post, or to provide clarifications or retractions.
As of the time I published this post, I still had no response.

    Why the silence?  The campaign's initial response on July 4th demonstrates they know that the Nicolas blog post is provoking some interest.  Wright-Pettibone must be under enormous pressure as a recent high school graduate with a fairly high profile position in an incumbent president's reelection campaign.  And in Joseph Nicolas/Ariel Anatole's last entry on his LiveJournal account on May 28th, he expressed some anxiety about his increasing level of involvement in the Obama campaign.  Why not head off a misunderstanding if there is some reasonable explanation for what appears to be a poorly researched story?  Why not jump at the chance to clarify and draw more attention to a story that would help their candidate and possibly give Nicolas's business yet another boost?


    If this Story of Recovery turns out to be untrue or substantially embellished, the results could be personally and professionally damaging for both Nicolas and Wright-Pettibone and a black-eye for the Obama campaign to boot.  Certainly the interests of all would be best served with open communication, either confirming the story with documentation, or retracting it.  My attempts to contact to Obama campaign will continue as I try to determine if the remarkable story of Joseph Nicolas is reality or simply an extreme case of fan fiction.


Click to go to Part 2.
-----


*It has occurred to me that an entirely ungrammatical but alternate reading of this quote might be that the larger contracts were with Amazon and Virginia Mason Hospital and the phrase "after having opened an office in the Columbia Tower" is in the wrong place.  But until the Obama campaign responds, I am assuming the statement is intended to be read as it appears.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guns, Further Thoughts

    Two further thoughts on my "Guns" posting:

    Since Utopia remains a fictional country dreamed up by Sir Thomas More, I do not believe it is useful to discuss how much better society would be without guns.  Guns are here to stay, and so are knives and spears and clubs and countless other deadly weapons that fallen human beings in a sinful world have used to kill each other before guns were invented.  While the earth lasts, guns will only go away once someone invents a simpler, cheaper, more efficient way to kill.  This sounds horrible, and it is, even if stated somewhat glibly.  As good-intentioned as gun control laws may purport to be, the main effect of removing guns from the hands of the law-abiding is providing peace of mind to the criminal who is doing the shooting.  James Holmes reportedly wore body armor during his attack, but how concerned did he really need to be that anyone was going to fire back?  Let's not make it any easier on the next would-be mass assassin.

    Second, a headline of a recent Yahoo! News article reads:  Calls for gun control stir little support.  The story reports that "...Barack Obama's White House pledges to safeguard the Second Amendment in its first official response to the deaths of at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a new Batman movie screening in suburban Denver."  As quick as the White House has been to jump on liberal bandwagons to gain the support and votes of disparate groups, why would the president take this position given his past support of gun control?  Could it be that the spectacle of the administration of Fast and Furious infamy calling for keeping guns from law-abiding citizens would be too much for the public to bear?  Two-thousands illegal guns for the Mexican drug gangs, but none for thee?  The capacity for cognitive dissonance even among the supporters of Barack Obama must have some limits.

Guns

    The horrific crime at an Aurora, CO, movie theatre has given new voice to gun control advocates.  This time, there is a preemptive element to the usual calls for more restrictive gun laws.  Various writers are expressing disdain and even mocking the conservative position that the Right to Bear Arms is a necessary and reasonable check on government power.  Here are two examples [emphasis mine]:

New York Times
The country needs laws that allow gun ownership, but laws that also control their sale and use in careful ways. Instead, we have been seeing a rash of “stand your ground” self-defense laws, other laws that recklessly encourage the carrying of concealed weapons and efforts to force every state to knuckle under to those laws. 
What we do not need is more heedless rhetoric like we heard on Friday from Representative Louie Gohmert, the Texas Republican who drew a bizarre connection during a radio interview between the horror in Colorado and “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.” 
Mr. Gohmert added: “It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying? That could have stopped this guy more quickly?”  
That sort of call to vigilante justice is sadly too familiar, and it may be the single most dangerous idea in the debate over gun ownership. 

Roger Ebert
This would be an excellent time for our political parties to join together in calling for restrictions on the sale and possession of deadly weapons. That is unlikely, because the issue has become so closely linked to paranoid fantasies about a federal takeover of personal liberties that many politicians feel they cannot afford to advocate gun control.
The Times's and Ebert's implied reasoning can be summarized as follows: "The Second Amendment notwithstanding, it's ridiculous to think that the federal government will ever take away our personal liberties.  But tell you what: if we ever feel like the government starts heading in that direction, we'll simply have our elected representatives repeal the gun ban!"  That appalling thought process is naive at best and disingenuous at worst.


    Liberals tend to put an inordinate amount of faith in government, but this is truly Big-Brother-is-looking-out-for-you thinking.  A famous sentiment of Ronald Reagan is:  The scariest words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."  Liberals don't get the joke.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Republican-controlled States Dominate Job Growth [Updated]

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the June state-by-state jobs numbers on Friday, July 20th.  As I have reported twice before on this blog in April and May, states that are under Republican control ("control" defined as holding at least two out of three of the governorship and the legislative houses) have dominated whatever good news has come on the jobs front since 2009.  The following contrast sums up the results well:
  • When looking at the 50 states plus D.C., out of the top 26 with the best performance on unemployment, 21 are Republican-controlled and only 5 are Democrat-controlled.  
  • Of the bottom 25, 15 are Democrat-controlled and 10 are Republican-controlled.  
Other telling statistics are:
  • The unemployment rate in Democrat-controlled states taken as a group is 9%.
  • The unemployment rate in Republican-controlled states taken as a group is 7.5%.
  • Of the states with the lowest unemployment rates as of June 2012, 9 out of 10 are Republican.
  • The four states with the worst unemployment are under Democrat control.
The raw data I used to compile these statistics is found here.  I would welcome further analysis and/or critiques of my analysis if I have misrepresented any of the data.  But the contrast is stark and clear.  Any improvement in the job situation in this country over Barack Obama's presidency has far more to do with the help he's received from the opposing party at the state level than with any stimulus or policies implemented by the president and his party on a federal level.
    If this election is about the economy as elections usually are, Mitt Romney and the Republicans need to continue to tell this story if the GOP is to recapture the presidency and hold onto the House and, in a best case scenario, win the Senate.  Barack Obama often talks about the government building "roads and bridges" to stimulate job growth and get the economy moving.  But Mark Styen has it right when he said the president has more often built roadblocks than roads.
    It is often said (usually by the party in power when the economy is faltering), "There's really not much the president can do about the economy."  In some ways, that's true.  To go with the road-analogy, if the economy is a runner, there's not much anyone can do to help him run faster.  It's not as if someone can double his speed.  But someone (think Barack Obama) can sure put obstacles in his way and even slow him down or even stop him.  The way to help then becomes removing the obstacles and protecting the runner from interference.
    If we were starting with optimal conditions, the president could not do much to improve the economy - but we're no where near optimal.  Romney should not campaign on "I will create jobs," but rather, "I will remove obstacles keeping the private sector from creating jobs."  Republicans in the states have already shown this can be done.  Now Republicans need to present the case to the American people that putting the Republicans in charge nationally also will accelerate the return to a prosperous economy.  As the analysis above shows, the numbers are on their side.


UPDATE:  As the "right-wing hack" author of this "right-wing rag" referenced in the comments on this article on the Ventura County Star website, I want to stipulate that I am making no claims about the job gains in the month of June 2012, but rather the changes from 2009 to the present.  As noted above, I linked to my raw data so hopefully that gives me some "cred."  Monthly changes are often insignificant or anomalies, but the changes over several years can, and in this case, do tell a significant story.

Friday, July 20, 2012

YOU Didn't Build That

    President Obama, perhaps more than any president in recent history, has garnered a reputation for (to put it delicately) first-person pronouns.  CNS News reported recently that in a July 5th appearance in Sandusky, OH, the president used "I" and "me" a total of 117 times in a 25 minute speech.  Over his years as president, this tendency, as well as other self-referential habits, has earned him the unflattering title in some quarters of Narcissist-in-Chief.  In light of this, there is some great symbolism in the use of font sizes and styles on the current banner headlining the Obama campaign website featuring a quote from the president:

    Two big “ME”’s and one wee little “we”.  Upon further reflection, the campaign might find that perhaps the following rendition with different emphases might have come across as more appropriate and deferential:
"Stand WITH me, Work WITH me, Let's Finish What WE Started."
 After all, if you've got a presidency, you didn't build that.

It Depends on What the Meaning of the Word "That" Is

    The defenders of Barack Obama have been clocking a lot of overtime this week.  The president's "If you've got a business, you didn't build that" statement from a speech last week in Richmond took a while to build up steam before it exploded this week.  Now the Obama campaign is even going to extraordinary lengths to explain that the president didn't say what he undeniably did say as the Weekly Standard reports.  The president's own Truth Team at his campaign's website provides a tortured reading of the president's words.  James Taranto of the Best of the Web at WSJ.com dissects their reasoning:
The [Obama Truth] Team then explains: "The President's full remarks show that the 'that' in 'you didn't build that' clearly refers to roads and bridges--public infrastructure we count on the government to build and maintain."
That's bunk, and not only because "business" is more proximate to the pronoun "that" and therefore its more likely antecedent. The Truth Team's interpretation is ungrammatical. "Roads and bridges" is plural; "that" is singular. If the Team is right about Obama's meaning, he should have said, "You didn't build those."
Although they are not even willing to go this far, the president's defenders are saying in effect, "Come on, give him the benefit of the doubt.  You know he really didn't mean it like that."  Just for the sake of argument, let's try that shoe on the other foot.  Imagine if Mitt Romney said this in a speech:
Sure, I think it's great for the government to provide low cost medical care and women's health services to those who can't afford it.  But if you want a contraceptive, I don't think you should get that.
Liberals would be falling all over themselves to get in front of a microphone to say: "Mitt Romney wants to ban contraceptives!" And grammatically, they'd have a point.  "That" more logical applies to the singular and more proximate "contraceptive" rather than the plural "low cost medical care and women's health services" from the preceding sentence.  Instead, Romney's theoretical statement should be:
Sure, I think it's great for the government to provide low cost medical care and women's health services to those who can't afford it.  But if you want a contraceptive, I don't think you should get those.
    The construction is still awkward, as was President Obama's statement, but at least it would be clear that "those" referred to "low cost medical care and women's health services."  The point Romney would be making is that the government should not be paying for contraceptives, which would be entirely consistent with his position stated often elsewhere.  But if he used the former statement rather than the latter, his foes would latch onto "that" as evidence of his desire to oppress women, especially poor women, because it fits their preconceived notions of Romney, however caricatured those notions are.


    Barack Obama, on the other hand, has given us plenty of reason to doubt his commitment to small business and free enterprise. It's not much of a stretch to get from "spread the wealth around" to "you didn't build that."  Is it any wonder that his listeners are inclined to take his latest words at face value?




UPDATE:  I've been informed by one reader that my theoretical Romney statement is wholly inadequate.  I'm having a hard time disagreeing.  Perhaps I should stop writing blog posts after midnight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

YouTube Allows Romney to Go [Al] Green

    On Tuesday, I wrote about how YouTube (as reported by Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller) had removed a campaign ad by Mitt Romney over a copyright complaint by BMG.  The Romney campaign had used audio and footage of Barack Obama singing a portion of an Al Green song in a web ad.  As that link shows, and as Politico reports, YouTube has restored the ad, "concluding it did not infringe on Green’s copyright to the song."  In addition, YouTube had "also removed video posted months ago of Obama’s riff by the Associated Press and ABC News," and those copies of the video have been restored as well.


    However, as I had reported on Tuesday, there was no mention of the version posted on the Obama campaign's Tumblr site that was posted six months ago.  At no time during the past two days when I checked had this version been disabled.  I speculated Tuesday that perhaps the Obama campaign had licensed the song, but I have no direct confirmation of that.  The question then remains:  How did YouTube determine which versions of Obama-sings-Al-Green were copyright violations and which were not?  However, now that all versions of the footage apparently have their (and presumably BMG's) blessing, we may never know the answer.

When a Tax Increase is Not a Tax Increase

    Repeating a claim that has been around in some form at least since January, the Barack Obama Twitter account tweeted this on Wednesday:


    The source for this claim is an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.  The president's claim about about Romney's plan raising taxes on 18 million middle-class Americans comes from one sentence fragment of the analysis: "...about 11 percent of tax units would see their 2015 taxes go up an average of nearly $900..."  This fragment is pulled out of this passage:
Compared with the current law baseline, the Romney plan (absent base broadening) would cut taxes for about three-fourths of taxpayers by an average of more than $7,000. In contrast, compared with current policy, about 11 percent of tax units would see their 2015 taxes go up an average of nearly $900 while 70 percent would get tax cuts averaging almost $4,300.  [emphasis added]
So what about those increases on the 11% (or, with 165 million filers in the U.S., that’s about 18 million people)?  In May, Politifact weighed in on the matter when Obama claimed that Mitt Romney has "proposed cutting his own taxes while raising them on 18 million working families."  They rated that statement as "mostly true."  But in doing so, Politifact made the following observations:
Romney’s tax plan also allows the expiration of tax cuts enacted in the economic stimulus package, including:
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit raises the maximum education tax credit from $1,800 to $2,500 and it makes the credit partially refundable so low-income people who don’t pay any taxes would still benefit.
  • The stimulus bill also increased the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families from 40 percent to 45 percent. An extension enacted in 2010 increased the maximum credit for families with three or more children from $5,236 to $5,891 in 2011.
  • The child credit, a tax benefit to offset the cost of raising a child, is a partially refundable credit of up to $1,000 per child. Recent legislation lowered the threshold for qualifying, so that working families with earnings above $3,000 qualify for at least a partial credit.
  • These tax cuts provide substantial cuts for low-income taxpayers. And since Romney’s plan would allow them to expire, that’s who would see a tax increase under his proposal. (We are defining "working families" as tax filers or non-filers who receive a benefit from those tax cuts.)
    In other words, in all likelihood, a substantial number of that 18 million do not pay any federal taxes at all to begin with.  They are only going to see a reduction in the amount given to them by the government via refundable tax credits.  By this logic, a reduction in welfare payments is a tax increase on welfare recipients.  And "18 million middle-class Americans"?  How many middle-class Americans are "low-income people who don’t pay any taxes"? Or would be talked about as "working families with earnings above $3,000"?  Or have such low income that they are "non-filers"?  The president "middle-class" part of the claim does not appear in the Tax Policy Center's analysis but rather seems to have appeared out of thin air.  But it makes a great tweet.

    Certainly there is room for debate on how taxes should be cut and raised and on whom.  And might there be some in the middle-class whose taxes would rise under Romney's plan?  Perhaps so.  But are there so few clear and unambiguous claims that the president can make about his own record or about Governor Romney's plans that he must continually resort to distortion?  Silly question?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

At These Prices, There Had Better Be a Lot on His Plate!

    Today it was reported that the president's Jobs Council has not met publicly for six months, calling into question the laser-like focus on jobs that the president has often professed as his obsession.  Jay Carney, the president's press secretary was asked about this (via RealClearPolitics):
REPORTER: So there's no reason they haven't met publicly?
CARNEY: No, there's no specific reason except that the president's obviously got a lot on his plate. 

Interesting choice of words... in the last six months:
June 28, 2012 - Marc Anthony's $40,000-a-Plate Obama Fundraiser
June 13, 2012 - Obama Fundraiser Nets $40,000 A Ticket In Washington D.C. 
May 10, 2012 - George Clooney Throws Obama A $40,000-A-Plate Party
May 3, 2012 -  Obama attended two private, $40,000-a-plate fundraisers
April 9, 2012Lunch: $10,000 a plate. Good seats to hear John Legend sing: $5,000. Dinner: $30,000 per couple.
March 9, 2012Barack Obama ... $10,000-per-plate fundraiser in ... Atlanta, Ga. at the Tyler Perry Studios.  
March 1, 2012 - Obama ... at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen... dinner cost $35,800 a plate. 
February 23, 2012 - Obama's Florida trip includes All-Star NBA [$30,000-a-plate] fundraiser 
February 15, 2012 - Actor George Clooney... joined the president for a $35,800-a-plate dinner.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but you get the idea.  However, the president is not the only one with a busy schedule, and I am out of time.  I've got a lot on my plate, too.  Or at least I will as soon as I make dinner.  I'm still working out the per-plate price.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Obama Campaign is Going [Al] Green (But Not Romney) [Updated]

    Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller reported today that YouTube used a copyright claim from BMG to remove a Mitt Romney campaign web ad:
Mitt Romney’s new web video, featuring audio of President Obama singing a few lines from Al Green’s, “Let’s Stay Together,” has been pulled down from YouTube via a copyright claim of BMG Rights Management.
According to a release, the video, titled, “Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs,” used news reports to demonstrate that “[i]nstead of working to restore [our] economic security, President Obama is too busy rewarding his biggest donors.”
The ad, which someone has re-uploaded here (and YouTube has apparently not noticed yet) is only 35 seconds long, yet BMG had it pulled.  Matt Lewis closed his piece by asking, "What is more, one wonders if an Obama ad featuring Al Green’s song would have also been pulled down?"  Well, wonder no more.  The same video of the president singing is posted on the Obama campaign's Tumbler site.  (Note the "Donate" button close by.)  Can any lawyers or someone in the advertising industry explain this?  Is BMG just playing favorites?  Could the Obama campaign be paying royalties?  Inquiring minds...


UPDATE:  Since the Obama campaign is selling a President-Obama-Sings-Al-Green ringtone, perhaps the simple explanation is that they've licensed it from BMG.

The Dynamic Duo

    For at least several hours Tuesday night, Drudge headlined a Paul Bedard/Washington Examiner story (via the Washington Times) linking the new Batman movie and its arch-villain Bane with the Democrats' apparent salivating over the chance to conflate Romney's Bain with the movie Bane:

    Bedard reports:
"Bane" is the terrorist in the new movie who drives the caped crusader out of semi-retirement in the final Batman movie. Democrats, who believe they have Romney on the ropes over the president's assault on his leadership at Bain Capital, said the comparisons are too rich to ignore.
    Although Bedard's story was published on Monday, it appears the Obama campaign got a jump on the Batman-theme on Sunday with this tweet:


Was the Obama campaign tipped off?  Did the secret Bat Campaign Phone deep under the White House receive a secret call sometime on the weekend?  Was the Bat Signal spotted in the clouds over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?  Tune in next time to find out these answers (or not)!  Same Bat Time! Same Bat Blog!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Insourcing a Luxury?

    A recent DrudgeReport headline screamed:
OUTSOURCED IN SPACE: NASA ASTRONAUT ON RUSSIAN ROCKET
The headline linked to an Investors Business Daily website story about NASA's next astronaut heading into space:
Now, here's some real Obama outsourcing. 
This morning, Kazakhstan time, the next mission to the International Space Station successfully blasted off carrying the usual trio -- a Russian commander, an astronaut from the international community and an American in a seat rented by NASA since the retirement of the last U.S. space shuttle a year ago this month.
Given the Obama administration's recent criticism of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital as serial outsourcers, this story has more than a touch of irony.  However, the irony is sharpened by an Obama comment I unearthed recently during the student loan interest "Don'tDoubleMyRate" debate.  The president had stated that "Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved for the privileged few."  So I looked back at some other non-luxuries from past Obama statements and found this:
"And so, as President, I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it’s not an afterthought in America’s quest for a brighter future -- it is an essential part of that quest."
So essential, in fact, that we must outsource the transportation for our space exploration to Russia?  Sort of like the Canadian-made bus that the Obama campaign got for the president?  I guess some luxuries are more luxurious than others.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

President Obama: Let Me Be Unclear [Updated]

    On July 9th, President Obama gave a speech touting his administration's record on taxes, especially for the middle class.  The speech appears to be part of laying the groundwork for his push to allow the "Bush tax cuts for the wealthy," as they are commonly known, to expire at the end of 2012.  In his speech, he made the following claim (via RealClearPolitics):
That’s why I’ve cut middle-class taxes every year that I’ve been President -- by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family. Let me repeat: Since I’ve been in office, we’ve cut taxes for the typical middle-class family by $3,600.
The president's campaign liked this line so much they tweeted it out later that day:
President Obama: "I’ve cut taxes every year that I've been President by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family.”
Pretty soon, Twitter was alive with incredulity at the president's claim, as Twitchy documented:
Oh, dear. President Obama is not too good at those “teachable moment” things, is he? Earlier this month, Twitters tried to teach the president a little lesson about putting “FACT” in front of his absurd statements, as if that would make them true. Looks like The One didn’t heed that advice, because he is at it again.
Some of the responses were: "First define 'fact', 'typical', and 'American'"; "Not in my typical home!"; and "Baloney, you sure didn't cut my taxes. In fact you've drastically increased them with the ObamaTax."  But the rush to heap scorn on the president for his tax-cutting claim, Twitchy and the tweeters missed the larger deception.  There will always be debate about what constitutes a "tax cut" and what exactly is the "typical family," but the president was citing figures from a April 2012 White House document called "Keeping America's Women Moving Forward." This passage appears on page 9:
Tax Incentives for Middle Class Families: 2009 – 2012 
A typical family making $50,000 a year has seen their taxes cut by $3,600 during President Obama’s first term in office...
In 2009, as part of the Recovery Act, the President signed the Making Work Pay tax cut of up to $800 for a family (and $400 for a single individual) in 2009 and 2010. A typical working family making $50,000 per year would have gotten $1,600 in relief from this law over those two years.  
At the end of 2010, the President signed a 2% payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans and their families, which provided $1,000 in tax relief for a typical family during 2011. At the end of 2011, President Obama stood firm against the opposition of Republicans in Congress and ensured that the payroll tax cut was extended into 2012, and then for the entire year – providing an extra $40 per paycheck for a typical working family this year...
Now that we've looked at the source of the claim, look at the president's statement again:
President Obama: "I’ve cut taxes every year that I've been President by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family.” [emphasis added]
Cut taxes every year by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family? Wow!  That's quite a savings!  Oh, but wait.  Look at the White House documentation again.  "$1,600 in relief from this law over those two years" and "$1,000 in tax relief for a typical family during 2011" and "the payroll tax cut was extended into 2012."  This is not $3,600/year.  They are adding $1,600, $1,000, and $1,000.  This is $3,600 over FOUR years, or $900/year.  President Obama exaggerated by a factor of four.  This is reminiscent of his recent "hyperbole" over student loan interest savings.  Perhaps this explains the more recent "evolution" in the statement that the campaign put out later on Twitter:
FACT: The typical middle-class family's taxes have been cut by $3,600 over President Obama's first term.
Notice the "every year" part has been quietly dropped.  Is this a case of the president's campaign fact-checking their own candidate?  Or is it a case of a deliberately misleading statement that will reach the largest audience followed by "clarification" that can provide deniability later on.  Call me a skeptic, but I tend to believe the latter.

UPDATE:  The president has doubled down on the original deception.  The Barack Obama campaign Twitter account tweeted this from the president's speech in Ohio today:


Since when has "tax burden" ever meant anything other than annual?  This is an in-your-face falsehood that the president is daring someone to call him out on.  Let's see if anyone in the media steps up.

UPDATE:  Well, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air stepped up and chose this post as his "Obamateurism of the Day," for which I am grateful.  That will greatly increase the chance that more people will be aware of the president's (as Ed Morrissey generously puts it) "confusing" statement.  But will it lead to a true Obama campaign clarification?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Civil Rights Reboot - The Obama Administration's New Take

   On July 2, Rep. John Lewis wrote a blog post on Democrats.org, the website of the Democratic National Committee, marking the 48th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Lewis was personally involved in the struggle to secure full participation for blacks in the democratic process in this country.  Despite the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution nearly a century before, the right to vote was still elusive for many blacks in America.  In the decades since the Civil Rights Act was passed, great progress has been made in guaranteeing the "blessings of liberty" for all Americans of all races, culminating in the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

    But Rep. Lewis does not spend much of his post celebrating the success of the Civil Rights movement.  The second paragraph contains some nods to progress, but both are quickly followed by "buts" tempering the successes.  The remainder of the post focuses on the "systematic effort to restrict access to the polls" that Lewis and the Democrats warn is spreading across the land.  The tone of the piece is that the Civil Rights struggle is far from over and the fight must continue.

    Downplaying progress is often a talking point of the Democrats when discussing any efforts to reform or strengthen voting laws.  It was just a little over a year ago that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said that Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws."  Also in 2011, Lewis himself called voter ID laws a "poll tax."  Even when the Obama campaign launched their GottaVote.org website that Lewis references in his blog post, there was initially a statement that implied that blacks did not have the right to vote as late as 1915.  The statement was corrected within a day, but lingered for over two weeks on the Spanish language version of the site (I chronicled this in a series here, here, here, and here.)  To hear the Democrats tell it, the hard won victories of the Civil Rights movement are on the razor's edge.

    Given the tenuous nature of those Civil Rights victories,  you would expect that the White House would have mounted a concerted effort to make sure that gains were secured and the "many barriers [that] remain for the basic civil right of casting a ballot" that Lewis wrote about were broken down.  However, the section of the White House website dedicated to Civil Rights reveals a different priority.



    Fully eight of the eleven items on the Civil Rights "Progress" list deal with LGBT-related issues such as gay marriage, don't ask-don't tell repeal, and federal benefits for same-sex partners.  (One of the eight was the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which is named after a gay man and a black man who each were victims of terrible crimes.)  Of the remaining three items on the list, one is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, meant to restore "basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers," and another is the signing of settlements of six lawsuits, five brought by Native American tribes and one by black farmers.

    Further down on the page is a single statement addressing voting rights:
The President is committed to expanding funding for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to ensure that voting rights are protected and Americans do not suffer from increased discrimination during a time of economic distress. 
To say that traditional concerns of the Civil Rights movement have received nominal attention from this administration would be an understatement.  And yet John Lewis and other Democrats have continued to line up behind the president anyway.  Which, come to think of it, could explain why their concerns have received scant attention.  Why spend time and energy securing the support of voters who are already firmly in your corner?  Or is it that the "concerns" over traditional civil rights are overblown and the label is being broadly applied to secure the support of other constituent groups that are not quite as reliably Democratic?

    In any case, it is difficult to see how this president can claim much credit for carrying the torch on civil rights.  And indeed, as a town meeting in August 2011 with Rep. Maxine Waters, the frustration began to boil over:
“We don’t put pressure on the president,” said Waters. “Let me tell you why. We don’t put pressure on the president because ya’ll love the president. You love the president. You’re very proud…to have a black man [in the White House] …First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us.”
“When you tell us it’s alright and you unleash us and you tell us you’re ready for us to have this conversation, we’re ready to have the conversation. The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president too. We’re supportive of the president but we’re getting tired ya’ll…we’re getting tired. And so, what we want to do is…we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity…but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now, he’s not in any black community…we don’t know that.”
    So what has happened since August 2011 that could change Waters outlook and that of the Congressional Black Caucus?  When the latest unemployment numbers were released, unemployment among blacks was up to 14.4%.  But Waters and the CBC have no intention of abandoning Obama, no matter what he does or doesn't do on "civil rights."  Their political fortunes are too closely connected.  But could the Obama administration's co-opting of the civil rights mantle for LGBT issues finally break the Democrats' hold on the black electorate?  The election in November should be a good indication if such a sea change is occuring.

    Oh... and the eleventh "civil rights" item of "progress" claimed by the White House, the one that Valerie Jarrett recently touted to the National Association of Black Journalists?
The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.
Lighter sentences for drug offenders masquerading as "civil rights" for blacks.  Is that why Martin Luther King and John Lewis marched in Selma?  Was that the dream?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Will Bet on Whom?

Illustration source: Ehow.com
    Yesterday, I poked fun at the Obama 2012 campaign's new slogan, "Betting on America."  At an Ohio stop on his new bus tour, the president said:
I was betting on the American worker and I was betting on American industry. 
And then this morning, the June jobs numbers were released.  The New York Times reports:

The economy added 80,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported Friday, after a revised increase of 77,000 in May. The unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent.  Economists are expecting similarly tepid job growth for the rest of the year.
    Considering that the United States has now had forty-one consecutive months of eight-percent-plus unemployment, more important than Barack Obama "betting on the American worker" is will the American worker be willing to bet on Barack Obama again in November?