The Essence of Politics

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Perspective: The War on Our Youth: Rise in Teen Pregnancy

It seems that our youth today have many issues that plague them but certain issues keep rearing its ugly head especially with data showing that the teen pregnancy rate is up after a 10-year decline. The U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade, reversing a long slide, a U.S. think tank reported on Tuesday. The overall teen pregnancy rate was up 3 percent in 2006, with a 4 percent rise in the rate of births and a 1 percent rise in the rate of abortions, according to the report by the Guttmacher Institute.

The United States has higher rates of teen pregnancy, birth and abortion than in other Western industrialized countries. This is truly alarming and something that needs to be deal with. There were 71 pregnancies per 1,000 U.S. girls aged 15-19. In 2006, 7 percent of all teenage girls got pregnant, according to the report. While fewer black teenage girls got pregnant, closing a gap with Hispanic teens. But rates among both groups were still significantly higher than for white teens, the report said, and rates went up for all ethnic groups.

I understand that some people might say this is 2010 and why are we looking at data from 2006 but when it comes to data, it lags behind the years so this data is the latest data to count on until the data of 2007, 2008 and even 2009 becomes available. So it is important to look at this data and understand that perhaps all the talk about teen pregnancy going down is over and we are in a new era of fighting this like never before. I remember in 2008 when my father told me a young at his school had told him that nearly 100 or more girls in the 9th grade class are pregnant and this was before the Fall/Winter semester had ended. Nonetheless this is what we are dealing and this data shows that we must fight against to rise in teen pregnancy.

"We're not quite sure yet whether this is just a blip or whether it's the beginning of a longer upward trend," Larry Finer, Guttmacher's director for domestic research, said in a telephone interview. "It's interesting to note that this flattening out of the rate and the increase in the rate is happening at the same time that we've seen substantial increases in funding for abstinence-only programs," Finer said. "We do know that when we saw the big decline in the '90s, that a lot of that decline was due to improved contraceptive use among teens."

Regardless if the data is isolated or not, the fact that teen pregnancy climbed in 2006 showed be taken serious because the abstinence-only programs, backed by many social conservatives who oppose the teaching of contraception methods to teenagers in U.S. schools, received about $1.3 billion in federal funds since the late 1990s but they are not as effective on its own. As I have stated before, we need to teach real sex education that encourages abstinence as the best result to fight offer HIV, AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as to prevent pregnancy because if you are not having sex than you can’t get pregnant and if you are not indulging in any sexual activities of any kind than you can’t get a disease. However for those who do engage in it need to know that they need to protect themselves with birth control and condoms (men and women).

The Obama administration's 2010 budget eliminated spending for abstinence-only, shifting funds to pregnancy prevention education that include abstinence along with "medically accurate and age-appropriate" information. This is the step in the right direction but it is not enough because it is how we teach, where we teach and how we get personal with it that we will fight the rise in teen pregnancy. Our youth need us to know that we care if they get pregnant and we care if they indulge in sexual activities. So as a collective community we all have a responsibility to raise our youth so that teenage pregnancy doesn’t continue to rise. It is not just up to parents to teach our youth about the dangers and pitfalls of teenage pregnancy and how harder having a child while you are a teen can be than when you wait because it’s not as rosy as some teens think it is. Now is the time to win this battle and both liberals and conservatives should work together on this to win this battle so that we can win the war on our youth once and for all.

SAVE OUR YOUTH!

Describing the Poor and Government Assistance

South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer recently likened government assistance to the poor to feeding stray animals. At a town hall meeting last Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Governor Mark Sanford is term-limited, said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."

While some people are screaming that Bauer’s words are immoral, it actually goes deeper than that. Bauer’s words are not just immoral but it shows how much out of touch many people are in regards to the poor and government assistance programs. Bauer said Monday that he regrets his choice of words but that government should expect welfare recipients to try to better themselves. He wants to require them to take drug tests and attend parent-teacher conferences if they have children in school. A child of divorce who benefited from free lunches himself, Bauer insisted he wasn't bad-mouthing people laid off from work in the recession or advocating taking food from children, but rather emphasizing the need to break the cycle of dependency.

Nonetheless, the Bauer’s choices of words were not only poor but in a way he expressed the feelings of a couple of Americans who are on the left and the right. Back in early 2009 when talking to one of my Democratic friends, she told me that she is tired of going to work every day while people with 3 or 4 kids sit at home and collect welfare on the back of my hard work. When I asked her what should be done about this situation, she told me that the government should not be in the business of handouts to those who don’t work or aren’t trying to work. To a degree she is perhaps but at the same time, this is nothing new.

"Do I wish I'd used a different metaphor? Of course I do," the 40-year-old Bauer said. "I didn't intend to offend anyone." However, Bauer still doesn’t understand what being poor really is. As my friend Akindele Akinyemi wrote in his Facebook status a couple of days ago, “The Greek word for poor, as used by Jesus, is poucos, which means non-productivity. To be poor doesn’t mean you don’t have anything; it means you aren’t doing anything. Poverty is cured by hard work. “Lazy hands make a man poor” (Proverbs 10/4). This is why we must continue to educate our children so we can stop the intergenerational problems of illiteracy which leads to poverty.

So when it comes to the poor, Bauer thinks being poor is wanting government assistance but what Bauer doesn’t understand is that not everyone who is on government is looking to be on government assistance forever. Still Bauer is not the first or the last politician who has misspoken when it comes to the poor but it is troubling how so many people don’t understand that there are some people who are poor not financially but mentally and physically because they lack the will to want to do something with their lives that is constructive and positive for their communities and there are people who mentally don’t want to acquire knowledge outside of the comfort zones they currently have.

As another one of my Facebook friends Steven Snead wrote:
“Well, let's not narrowly define "poor" as in lacking wealth, but perhaps a general "lacking". And while there are certainly outliers to any set of data, the fact remains that, to paraphrase another bible verse, "you reap what you sow"

An otherwise able and available wealthy man (or woman) around Detroit who does not do what he can to help lift people out of poverty, specifically in this case, out of illiteracy, might be considered to be "poor"; poor in character, in compassion, in generosity. A laziness of the heart if you will.

However, too often in America we define success in economic terms. And the poor, because they lack financial wealth, are often labeled carte blanche as unsuccessful. Add to that the American trait of consumerism. Look at how wants and needs have evolved over just the last 50 years. No Flat Screen, No cable, no internet, no cell phone, no auto lease, no 3000sq ft. home, no arm loan, no granite counter tops, no gucci, no prada, no stereo systems, no fast food, no frequent eating out.

Think about how our grandparents survived, when in their time, 50 years ago mimium wage was a little under $1 (just under $7 in 2009 dollars). Life was hard, true, but were they less happy than we are now?

I think if anything lazy hands indicate a lack of community, where those with resources (financial, educational, skills) do not feel a duty to train & mentor those without.”

Nonetheless it seems that we as a people always equate poor with finances just like we as a people equate success with monetary gains or with celebrity status but as I tell people success is what you consider success not what everyone else considers success. However when it comes to being poor or understand the poor and government assistance, there are problems in the system true enough. There are some people who are poor and on government assistance who don’t volunteer in their children’s schools if they have some and there are some who are poor who do. Nonetheless creating laws that detect who gets government assistance and what getting government assistance involves is something that politicians have struggled with every since the welfare system of food stamps was created.

Still it is not right for us to assume that when is poor just because they are on government assistance or that being on government assistance means one is not successful. In fact government assistance for some people helps them get a leg up or helps them achieve eventual success during a tough period of their life. Being on welfare does not condemn anyone to being poor and making minimum wage is nothing to be ashamed of because while people argue night and day for a living wage, it still won’t replace that there is a sense of community that we all must have so that we pick each other no matter how much or how little one makes. Being poor is simply a sense of lacking and not wanting, therefore it is not just financially and to understand why some are on government assistance it is perhaps a split between those who don’t want more and those who want more but can’t find anything more so they are doing the best they can with what they have so that their youth can have a better future than them.

Its not easy describing the poor and government assistance but it definitely isn’t easy understanding the poor either. However it is easy to understand that government assistance does help some people who want more and are seeking more but hinders those who don’t want better from seeking better. This is a slippery slope but it is no excuse for Bauer to compare the poor to stray animals because that is so far from the truth. No human being is an animal and should be treated or compared to animals that is truly inhumane and inconsiderate to do any such comparison of the sort.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Healthcare Reform will Finally Happen the Right Way

Prior to last week’s Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, many Americans were skeptical of healthcare reform including myself. However my skepticism was not that I didn’t want healthcare reform but was that healthcare reform would be costly as it was being drawing up by Congress. Still fears about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul increased significantly in December, according to a new poll released as the legislation's future hangs in doubt. The monthly poll out Monday from the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation measured consumers' views of how a remake would affect their own finances and access to care, among other things.

It was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 20, in the run-up to the Senate's Christmas Eve passage of sweeping health care legislation that brought Congress closer than ever before to enacting a comprehensive revamp of the nation's medical system. That effort was cast into turmoil last week when a GOP victory in Massachusetts' special Senate election robbed Democrats of their filibuster-proof supermajority. The survey shows a majority of Americans are following the health care debate in Congress — and their trepidation is evidently growing as they do.

Nonetheless, people still think that Obama should address the issue as part of dealing with the nation's economic slump, although the percentage of people who say that it's very important for Obama to do so has slipped from 56 percent in the survey conducted in September, to 49.5 percent in this month's report.

Among the polls other findings:
--33 percent of respondents said they believed their access to care would be worse if a health care overhaul occurred, a jump from 25 percent in the poll released last month. Thirteen percent said they thought they would have better access to care in a remade system, about the same as last month.
--30.5 percent said their personal finances would be worse under a health care overhaul, compared to 24.5 percent last month. Eleven and a half percent said their personal finances would improve, compared to 14 percent last month.
--35 percent said the country's access to health care would be worse under a health care overhaul, compared to 30 percent last month. Around 38 percent said it would be better, around the same as last month.
--42 percent said the country's finances would suffer under a health care overhaul, compared with 34.6 percent last month. Thirty percent said matters would improve financially, compared to 32 percent last month.

Nonetheless regardless of these numbers, Scott Brown’s victory has lead to many Democrats including President Obama to consider scaling back on exactly what they deal with in regards to healthcare reform. Instead of one massive healthcare bill that could improve certain problems in the healthcare industry while also adding to others, it seems as if President Obama and the Democratic Party are considering perhaps passing a healthcare bill that will deal with insurance companies denying coverage to those who have a pre-existing condition and perhaps expending coverage to children.

However former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. says, “Besides listening to congressmen and senators who "continue to face pressure at home about a health bill," he believes those crafting the plan should focus on three things: preventing denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions, implementing tort reform, and expanding coverage for all children.” Therefore it seems as if that might be the direction that Congress takes since it seems as if they won’t be able to pass their massive version of healthcare reform in the Senate without at least one Republican Senator agreeing to vote for yes which seems very unlikely these days.

Thus, I am celebrating to a degree because while some of my friends believe passing something is better than nothing regardless of how bad the bill is, I believe differently. I believe that passing healthcare reform the wrong way can create a worse problem just like when Congress passed No Child Left Behind thinking it would improve our nation’s education system but not only did it not improve it but it created several new problems such as students being educated to take tests and students falling through the cracks due to promotions based on age whether than what students actually knew. Therefore it is clear that while some things in the healthcare bill are good for our nation and many people, the reality is that the bill as a whole is nowhere close to perfect and is more like very imperfect than close to perfect.

So if Congress had of passed either the House or Senate version of healthcare reform, our nation could have increased its national debt as well as handed billions of more dollars to the pharmaceutical and insurance companies rather than actually curbing the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance as the bill as taunted that it would do. Scott Brown’s Massachusetts victory is in my eyes a blessing for healthcare because instead of passing a healthcare bill that would result in our nation coming back to the table to deal with the issue in the next decade, it allows us to get some things that need to done passed the right way passed. This will leave room for us to come back to the table to pass other things in the years to come or every year until we deal with healthcare reform properly.

Therefore instead of us just passing anything because something is better than nothing, we as a nation can pass something that is more good than bad rather than not passing nothing and rather than just passing something that is more bad than good. The time to finally get healthcare reform done the right way has arrived and while a public option might not happen, there are still things that can be done that will improve healthcare in this nation while taking some of the power away from the big pharmaceutical and insurance companies. We can’t afford to not get some healthcare reform done this year like we have done in previous years because we want the ultimate perfect. Instead as I told to my friends back last year, we need to get healthcare reform done the right way meaning that we won’t increase the national debt or deficits.

If Congress can get CPR-- Coverage, Prevention, Reform but also make sure that CPR includes health insurance stability, affordability, quality, and patient choice than it would be far better than what we currently have in the form of healthcare. Our nation can’t afford to not get something done in the shape of healthcare reform but we can’t afford to get something that would create future problems rather than improve the future of healthcare. Regardless of the polls, it is clear that Americans want healthcare reform done the right way rather than the wrong way and as it stands now; it is surely the wrong way that Congress is proposing and why Brown’s victory allows us to get some type of healthcare reform done the right way.

Wall Street Holding Stocks Hostage over Bernanke Confirmation


Wall Street is dictating America’s economic recovery. Last week, the stock market hit a high on Tuesday as it predicted a Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts but the rest of the week, stocks begin to fall as fast as Brown’s celebration quickly ended. The reason for the stock market falling is a result of the growing concern by many investors on Wall Street that Ben Bernanke the current Federal Reserve Chairman will not be confirmed for a second term before it is set to expire by the end of the month. Despite the growing concern, President Barack Obama has continued to say he support Bernanke as the Fed Chair for a second four year-term.

In fact, bolstered by a White House lobbying effort that included the president, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's chances at a second four-year term improved Monday, calming a stock market that had grown anxious over the uncertainty of his support. President Barack Obama championed Bernanke in an interview on Monday as his aides worked the phones to ensure the Fed chairman is confirmed by the Senate. "He has my strongest support. I think he's done a good job," Obama told ABC News. "What we need is somebody at the Federal Reserve who can make sure that the progress that we've made in stabilizing the economy continues. I think Bernanke is the best person for that job," the president said.

With Bernanke's term expiring Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expects a confirmation vote by the end of the week, his spokesman said. David Axelrod, a top White House adviser, said Bernanke has the votes to keep his job. Bernanke's brightening prospects provided the White House with a rare bit of good news amid political upheaval caused by simmering public anger over the economy, joblessness and bank bailouts.

The Federal Reserve, with its power to set interest rates that influence economic activity, employment and inflation, wields extraordinary influence over the lives of millions of Americans. It also plays a crucial role as the country's lender of last resort when banks can't get their money elsewhere. Bernanke still can count on several "no" votes when the Senate takes up his confirmation. But after a surge of opposition late last week, and with many senators still undecided, the tide appeared to be turning in his favor. Amid the news, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 24 points after losing 552 points over the previous trading days.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democratic leader in the Senate and the party's top vote counter, conceded many Democrats are apprehensive. But after meeting with Bernanke Monday in the Capitol, Durbin said the Fed chairman should win a second term with help from Republican senators. Complicating Bernanke's reappointment is his need for 60 votes to overcome a procedural hold on Bernanke's confirmation placed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who has been one of his leading critics.

But Durbin said even senators who might oppose the Fed chairman have said they would not attempt to block his confirmation from reaching the Senate floor. Among them are Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. "I don't like filibusters on nominations," Leahy said. Durbin said Bernanke in their meeting acknowledged "mistakes were made" before the financial crisis. But Durbin said Bernanke also noted that problems that created the crisis predated his government service. "Putting all this at his doorstep may be going too far," Durbin said.

A review of public statements and a survey of Senate offices Monday showed more than 30 senators supported Bernanke. Fifteen had announced their opposition. Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was among several senators who began falling in line behind Bernanke's confirmation on Monday. "Facing circumstances not seen since the Great Depression, he made a number of critical decisions that brought us back from the brink of economic disaster," Baucus said.

For better or worse, Bernanke has come to embody both the run-up and the response to the financial crisis that peaked in the fall of 2008. Critics blame him for not recognizing trouble signs and for being part of a massive bank bailout; advocates credit him for launching aggressive countermeasures that prevented a financial collapse. Even as momentum seemed to be shifting in Bernanke's favor, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., formally announced his opposition to the Fed chairman. The liberal MoveOn.org activist group called on senators to vote against Bernanke in an e-mail to its membership. "He must be held accountable for many of the decisions that contributed to our financial meltdown," McCain said in a statement.

The market's reaction last week to news that senators were lining up against Bernanke was a strong indication that Bernanke's defeat would rattle Wall Street and financial markets around the world and add new risks to the fledgling recovery. Economists fear that prolonged political wrangling over a successor could increase the odds of the economy faltering and dipping back down into recession.

Bernanke's term expires Jan. 31, and turmoil over his reappointment comes as he and his Fed colleagues begin a two-day meeting Tuesday to gauge the strength of the economic recovery and weigh efforts to wean banks from emergency lending programs. The Fed is all but certain to keep its key bank lending rate — it affects a wide range of rates on consumer loans — at a record low near zero when the meeting concludes on Wednesday. It is also expected to renew a pledge to hold rates at record lows for an "extended period" to nurture the recovery. Economists think that means rates will stay where they are for at least six more months.

Therefore it is clear that once again Wall Street continues to dictate where America’s economy goes. With Wall Street truly depending on the Federal Reserve which is suppose to prevent recessions and depressions from happening in this nation since it is the central bank, although one has occurred nearly every 10-15 years since the creation of the central bank. Thus, regardless if Bernanke is to blame for the “Great Recession” or not, it is clear that the Federal Reserve has not done what it was created to do and the American people as well as some politicians are starting to realize that.

Nonetheless the growing anxiety and frustration with the Federal Reserve is growing and with extreme liberal organizations such as MoveOn.org and moderate Republicans such as Senators John McCain and John Cornyn being involved in vote no to reconfirm Bernanke, it is clear that perhaps the Fed will be under more scrutiny than previously in the past. Therefore perhaps the politician who is celebrating in the hold up of Bernanke’s confirmation is no other than Congressman Ron Paul, (R-TX), who has fought for years to end the Federal Reserve and prior to the “Great Recession” his legislation to end the Fed or audit the Fed had little to no support. However this year, both pieces of legislation have gained momentum and strength which is why perhaps Bernanke confirmation is not as much as a sure thing as it might have been in the past. Thus Wall Street is showing that it has the power over the economy and if Bernanke isn’t confirmed that stocks will continue to plummet and this could put America’s economic recovery in doubt as well as the world economic recovery into a whole new spiral.



Sen. Cornyn will not vote to reconfirm Bernanke

During C-SPAN's Newsmakers (1/24/10), NRSC Chair Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said he won't vote to reconfirm Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. See the complete interview at the C-SPAN Video Library:
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/29...

Middle Class Populist Rhetoric is Back

Key Investments for Middle-Class Families

President Obama and Vice President Biden address a meeting of the Middle Class Task Force and lay out a series of proposals and initiatives designed to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and ease the burden for middle-class families. January 25, 2010.


Around this time just a year ago in the Obama administration’s first few days of being in office, the White House announced the creation of the Middle Class Task force. In fact just like what happened on Monday where President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden addressed the media about a set of proposals and initiatives that the Middle Class Task Force have decided to come up with in order to help the middle class continue achieve the American Dream. While most people might ask why after nearly a year is the Middle Class Task Force finally proposing any initiatives to help the middle class when during the first year, it seemed as if the middle class was ignored.

Some people might say it is about timing. Whenever any politician is in trouble, they revert to talking about helping the middle class or the poor which is populist rhetoric especially in economical tough times. Nonetheless promising repeatedly to "keep fighting" for average Americans, President Obama rolled out new proposals Monday to help struggling middle-class families, setting the stage for his first State of the Union address Wednesday night. "Unfortunately, the middle class has been under assault for a long time," Obama told a gathering of his Task Force on Middle Class Families at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. "Too many Americans have known their own painful recessions long before any economist declared that there was a recession."

Previewing key themes of his upcoming address to the nation, Obama unveiled initiatives to help the middle class by making it easier for people to care for dependents, repay student loans and save for retirement. The proposals are part of broader themes that the White House said Obama would tie together in his State of the Union speech, including the importance of job creation, the need to reduce the deficit and, as ever, the urgency of changing the way Washington works.

But his focus on the middle class will be critical as Obama tries to regain momentum after a series of political setbacks. To that end, he announced several concrete proposals, including:
-- nearly doubling the child and dependent care tax credit for families making under $85,000 a year;
-- limiting a student's federal loan payments to 10 percent of income above basic living allowance;
-- creating a new system of automatic workplace retirement savings accounts;
-- expanding tax credits to match retirement savings; and
-- expanding elder care help for the "sandwich generation" of baby boomers caring for parents and children.

In his remarks to the task force, which is chaired by Vice President Biden, Obama touted successes so far in creating jobs but made clear that the efforts have fallen far short of what is needed. "These steps have saved or created about 2 million jobs so far," he said, "but more than 7 million have been lost as a consequence of this recession." Obama praised the work of the task force, and he promised -- four times in less than five minutes -- to "fight for the middle class." "So we're going to keep fighting to rebuild our economy so that hard work is once again rewarded, wages and incomes are once again rising, and the middle class is once again growing," Obama said. "And above all, we're going to keep fighting to renew the American Dream and keep it alive -- not just in our time, but for all time."

The brief speech -- employing new, populist language that Obama began using last week -- heralded a tone that the president appears likely to sound in Wednesday night's address to Congress and the nation. In comments before Obama spoke, Biden said the measures announced Monday would help nearly 200,000 people balance work and their need to care for elderly family members, in part by providing 3 million hours of respite care. He said the initiative to limit federal student loan repayments would help graduates who enter the work force these days with an average debt of $23,000.

To assist the 78 million Americans who do not have employer-based retirement plans, Biden said, the proposals would prod employers to enroll their workers in direct-deposit IRAs and would simplify and expand a "saver's credit" that helps working families save for retirement by providing a 50 percent federal match on the first $1,000 of retirement savings. He said this incentive would save the government a lot more than the cost of the $500 matches in the long run by helping people build a nest egg for retirement so that they can care for themselves without having to "look to the government to provide some basic needs."

The new initiatives were announced at the 12th meeting of Biden's task force. The goal, Biden said, is to help people achieve the "old-fashioned notion of the American dream." "It sounds corny, but that's literally what it is," said Biden, who had to stall for nearly half an hour while Obama was delayed in arriving at the event. The task force, created shortly after Obama took office a year ago, is charged with developing policies aimed at raising the living standards of the middle class. Its members include the secretaries of labor, education, energy, Treasury, commerce, transportation, agriculture, health and human services and housing and urban development. Also participating are the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.

Nonetheless, the return of the middle class populist rhetoric is back after being away for nearly a year. In fact the last time the newly formed Middle Class Task Force made any headlines was on January 29 or 30 when it was announced such a task force was going to be created. Still the help is very much needed and the results of the initiatives should pay major dividends for much of the middle class. So it is about time the Obama administration is back to fighting for the middle class regardless if the timing of the populist rhetoric following the Democratic Party Massachusetts Senate lost. Sometimes in temporary defeat, is where most leaders find their voice and the right agenda for positive change so let’s hope this is it for President Obama.

Budget Deficits + National Debt = Domestic Spending Freeze

The Obama administration is finally getting serious about the nation’s budget deficits and national debt. However some people particularly liberals are screaming that a domestic spending freeze will cut some valuable funding to much needed domestic projects. Still conservatives will argue that it doesn’t go far enough. Therefore it is a win-lose situation for the Obama administration. However it is the right thing to do in order to get the nation’s budget deficits and national debt under control.

Facing voter anger over mounting budget deficits, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to freeze spending for some domestic programs for three years beginning in 2011, administration officials said Monday. The spending freeze would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.

The three-year plan will be part of the budget Obama will submit Feb. 1, senior administration officials said, commenting on condition of anonymity to reveal private details. They said Obama was expected to propose the freeze Wednesday night in his State of the Union address. The Pentagon, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department would be exempt from the freeze. The savings would be small at first, perhaps $10 billion to $15 billion, one official said. But over the coming decade, savings would add up to $250 billion.

The White House is under considerable pressure to cut deficits — the red ink hit a record $1.4 trillion this year — or at least keep them from growing. Encouraged by last week's Massachusetts Senate victory, Republicans are hitting hard on the issue, and polls show voters increasingly concerned. Still Congressional economists predict a slow recovery and that while budget deficits will decrease in the upcoming years from the trillions back down to the billions, the national debt will continue to grow despite the three year spending freeze the White House is proposing.

Congressional economists are predicting a slow rebound of the economy, with unemployment averaging 10.1 percent this year as the economy grows by just over 2 percent. The latest estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office see the economy growing only slightly more next year with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. But the CBO also projects that the economy will rebound sharply over the period from 2012-2014. That would be good news for President Barack Obama's re-election prospects. The latest estimates see a $1.35 trillion deficit for the current budget year, dropping to $980 billion next year — but only if a host of tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush are allowed to expire.

So this year's federal budget deficit will improve slightly thanks to lower spending on the Treasury Department's bank bailout and stronger than expected economic growth, falling to $1.35 trillion from the nearly $1.4 trillion previously projected, according to congressional sources citing a new analysis set to be released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The deficit is expected to improve over the long run as well, falling to $480 billion in 2015 from previous projections of $560 billion, the sources said.

Therefore the latest congressional budget estimates out Tuesday predict a $1.35 trillion deficit for this year as the economy continues to slowly recover from the recession. The CBO’s report predicts a sluggish economic recovery and continued high deficits that present twin political problems for President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies. The report sees a slow rebound of the economy, with unemployment averaging 10.1 percent this year as the economy grows by just over 2 percent. It would grow only slightly more next year with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.

"Economic growth in the next few years will probably be muted in the aftermath of the financial and economic turmoil," the CBO report says. It's a sobering reminder of the fundamental imbalance of the federal government's budget that comes just days before Obama's Feb. 1 budget submission. Therefore Obama’s proposal of a three-year freeze on domestic agency budgets, though the savings would barely make a dent will be a step in the right direction to a degree. Still what the Obama administration hasn’t said they will address is a proposal for tax hikes or cuts to spiraling benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

So while the deficit would slide to $480 billion by 2015, CBO says, but only if tax cuts on income, investments and large estates are allowed to expire at the end of this year. On the other hand, most budget experts see deficits as far higher once tax cuts and other policies are factored in. Thus the 2010 deficit figure is in line with previous estimates and would be a slight decline from last year's $1.4 trillion shortfall. But plans afoot on Capitol Hill for a new jobs bill and a coming Obama request for war funds would add to the total.

Keeping in mind, these figures arrived just hours before the Senate is likely to reject a White House-backed plan to establish a bipartisan task force to recommend steps to curb the deficit. The figures bring continued bad news on the deficit, keeping the pressure on Obama and congressional Democrats to demonstrate they're serious about taking on the flood of red ink.

Thus, the spending freeze, expected to be proposed by Obama during the State of the Union address on Wednesday, would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion. The freeze on so-called discretionary programs would have only a modest impact on a deficit expected to match last year's $1.4 trillion. The steps needed to really tackle the deficit include tax increases and curbs on benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. That's the idea driving the Obama-backed plan to create a special task force to come up with a plan to curb the spiraling budget deficit. But the Senate sponsors of the plan say it's attracted too much opposition from the right and left to prevail.

Republicans say the panel — it would try to develop a deficit reduction blueprint after the November elections for a vote before the new Congress convenes — would lead to big tax hikes. Democratic opponents say they don't want to vote on proposals to cut benefit programs like Social Security without being able to shape the plan. Therefore Obama's three-year spending freeze will be part of the budget Obama will submit Feb. 1. It's likely to confront opposition on Capitol Hill, where a handful of powerful lawmakers write 12 annual appropriations bills. They've gotten used to hefty increases but now are being asked to tighten their belts. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., declined to comment, his spokesman said. The Pentagon, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department would be exempt from the freeze.

As stated before the savings would be small at first, perhaps $10 billion to $15 billion, one official said. But over the coming decade, savings would add up to $250 billion which is not a whole lot of money considering that the national debt is nearly $15 trillion plus and might be even higher by then. Thus, it is clear that although the Obama administration inherited a deficit and a high national debt, they have surely added to both and things look to be getting worse if they don’t begin to take steps to do something now. Therefore the spending freeze proposal is bringing angry from the left and criticism from the right that it doesn’t go far enough but right now, it is clear that our nation’s leaders have to reign on spending across the board not just on domestic programs but even foreign programs that are not producing at its highest effective levels.

Even Sen. John McCain, who lost to Obama in last year's presidential election, said he supports any attempt to cut discretionary domestic spending. "We need to do so," he said Tuesday. But in an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," the Arizona Republican said Obama "has got to veto bills that are laden with pork-barrel spending, earmarks." Thus on these two issues McCain is right, the Democrats got away with a lot of pork-barrel spending, earmarks, because they layered them in the stimulus bill and last year’s congressional budget which Obama said would be the last time earmarks are included in a congressional budget bill at least under his watch.

Right now more than ever, all political officials in D.C. must get serious about dealing with budget deficits and the national debt which is one the proposed spending freeze is a step in the right direction. However President Obama and his administration can’t just stop there, they must look at cutting spending to certain homeland security projects, the pentagon and foreign aid especially to projects that are effective or perhaps are not working at its highest efficiency levels. It is time for the Obama administration to figure out what works in government and what doesn’t so that wasteful spending is truly eliminated and taxpayer dollars are going toward projects and programs that work effectively and efficiently.

So let the left bark that the spending freeze is unfair and will hurt the American people and let the right bark that it isn’t enough to deal with the mounting deficits and debt but what both don’t understand is that you have to start somewhere and if you don’t than it could lead to deficits and debt that are truly irreversible in the future.

On the Net:
Congressional Budget Office:
http://cbo.gov

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Next Great Empire is China

The title of this article shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that nearly every historian and economists is predicting that China is the next great empire when it comes to world dominance. Some might even say that China has already begun its dominance in the wake of the U.S. “Great Recession”. Others say that if you want to know why China is the (next) great empire than just look at how much China is invested in the U.S. economy and how they are buying the U.S. debt by way of U.S. bonds. Nonetheless regardless of how one looks at it, it is clear that China is well on its way to be the next great empire like Great Britain used to be when used to claim the sun never sets on the British empire and now us the United States, who has been on top of the World every since World War II even winning the Cold War or at least outlasting the Soviet Union depending on who you talk to.

Now China has truly arrived on the national economic stage like never before as it currently has a $2.4 trillion grip on the global economy. China disclosed the other day that its foreign exchange reserves had increased to about $2.4 trillion in 2009, up $453 billion for the year. These stupendous figures -- and the likelihood that the country's reserves will raise by a comparable amount this year -- have become a financial, economic and geopolitical reality of surpassing significance. The significance is not, as many imagine, that China might suddenly "dump" the dollar and dethrone it as the world's major international currency, undermining American economic power and prestige. Two-thirds or more of China's reserves are estimated to be held in dollars. As an economic strategy, dumping the dollar would boomerang. It would amount to a declaration of economic war in which everyone -- Chinese, Americans and many others -- would lose.

Consider what would happen, hypothetically. China would first sell securities in which its dollars are invested. That would include an estimated $800 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds and securities, plus billions in American stocks and corporate bonds. After unloading the securities and collecting dollars, it would sell the dollars on foreign exchange markets for other currencies: the euro, the yen and who knows what else. The massive disgorging of dollars could trigger another global economic collapse. As China's selling became known, other foreign and American investors might jump on the bandwagon, abandoning dollar securities and shifting currencies. If panic ensued, markets would fall sharply. Banks' and investors' capital and wealth would erode. The resumption of the global recession, even depression, would shrink foreign markets for China's exports (in 2009, its exports fell 16 percent). To protect jobs, other countries might impose quotas or tariffs on Chinese imports.

Why would China do this to itself? The answer: It wouldn't. Look elsewhere for the significance of the huge foreign exchange reserves. For starters, they confirm China's mercantilist trade policies. A country that practices mercantilism strives to increase exports at the expense of its trading partners. China has done this by keeping its currency, the renminbi (RMB), at an artificially low rate that gives its exports a competitive advantage on world markets. The resulting trade surpluses are huge -- even last year's, which were somewhat shrunken by the global slump.

It's often said that the United States "borrows" from China, because the Chinese hold so many Treasury bonds. This inaccurately describes reality. When China receives dollars, it could use those dollars to buy imports. Or it could limit the dollar inflow by allowing the renminbi to appreciate, making its exports more expensive and its imports cheaper. In 2005, China began a modest appreciation of the RMB against the dollar; in mid-2008, it stopped. Since then, the RMB has depreciated against many currencies, reports economist Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute. In 2010, Lardy expects the trade surplus to grow. So China accumulates dollars, which must be invested. The large surpluses cause China to "lend" to us and other countries, regardless of whether we want the "loans."

Even if China had no trade surplus, its foreign exchange reserves would probably grow because it receives earnings on its existing reserves. These reserves serve China's other strategic purposes. They're used to invest in raw materials (oil, food, minerals) and important technologies around the world; or they buy political influence with foreign aid or favorable loans. In effect, China has a $2.4 trillion stash to use as it pleases. The irony: Despite complaints about big Treasury holdings, these holdings advance China's economic aims of job creation through exports and protection against scarcities of vital commodities. The underlying purpose is to bolster the government's grip on power by ensuring rapid economic growth. Granted, China is trying to generate more growth from domestic spending; still, it is promoting strong exports until that happens.

But what's good for China may not be good for the rest of the world, including the United States. It's not simply a redirection of economic power but a question of how that power will be used, consciously or unconsciously, to shape the global economic order. Lopsided economic expansion poses many dangers. Already, China's huge reserves -- invested in U.S. bonds -- are cited as one reason for the low interest rates that brought on the financial crisis. The artificially depressed RMB hurts exports from developing countries and not just the United States, Europe and Japan. China grows at others' expense. The manipulation of trade subverts support elsewhere for open trading policies. For now, China has no desire to substitute the RMB for the dollar as the primary global currency. Its ambition is more sweeping: to create a world economy that serves China's interests and, only as an afterthought, anyone else's.

This is why China is the next great empire regardless if us as Americans like it or not but we have only ourselves to blame since we are the ones who constantly sell our debt to them in the form of bonds while China continues to invest in nation’s and continents all across the world particularly Africa. Thus as one of my friends continues to remind people of, if America doesn’t wake up and realize the potential of investing in Africa properly than China will surely have monopolized Africa as it has tapped into the region in ways that are unimaginable. In no way am I saying this is good for Africa because in some cases it’s not but this is just how China has become wise enough to understand economics and where the next wave of economics will head.

Thus, China’s economic power means its global domination on the world’s economy and perhaps so much more in the future.

Hatred vs. Criticism of Obama

It is no denying that after one year in the White House President Barack Obama and his administration has seen his fair share of both hatred and criticism. Now I am not saying that hatred is right and I am not saying that any time hatred is spewed it is fair but what I am saying is that Obama is experiencing what every other President has experienced when it comes to hatred and criticism. Some people might say that Obama’s hatred is unjusted and no merited as well as the criticism he is receiving. I am not here to debate that or to justify why Obama is hated by some and criticized by others.

However what I am here to say that hatred is never right but there is a difference between hatred and criticism that many Americans seem to have forget. Hatred is when people wish bodily harm on a person or bad things to happen to a person. I do however think that some people do wish that onto Obama and his administration as well as some of his political policies. However there are people like Danny Glover and me who criticize President Obama and his administration as well as some of his policies because that’s not what he campaigned on or the policy that he is pushing is not what Congress is pushing.

Therefore I want people to understand criticism is something that we all deal with, it just a part of life but at the same time, criticism can turn into hatred and that is something that I will not tolerate not from anyone but particularly myself. President Obama did inherit a mess and it is no denying that. Like it is no denying that things could be worse if Obama and his administration along with Congress didn’t do what they did but at the same time things could be much better if they did some things a little bit differently in regards to the stimulus package. So let it be clear that there’s a right way to do something and there’s a wrong way to do something than there’s a combination of a right and wrong way that can stop the bleeding partially of a situation but can showcase just how ineffective the combination of a right and wrong way can hurt the other part of the situation.

Nonetheless it is time that people wake up and realize that every time someone comes against Obama, they are not spewing hatred, in fact some people like myself are criticizing the President and his administration while actually offering alternatives to his plan that would be better than some of the policies that Congress is passing as legislation. I never criticize anyone or anything without saying why I disagree and giving an alternative to what a person could have did or how a policy could be better. At the same time, I will not sit back and say that Obama has not experienced hatred thrown his way because he has. Some of the tea party movement is just one example of some of the hate that is thrown Obama’s way but in no way am I condemning the whole tea party movement as a whole because there are some people who are a part of that movement that believe in exactly what the movement is suppose to be about which is debt reduction, lower taxes, transparency and accountability.

Still I am criticizing the tea party movement for not condemning some of the hateful signs that are displayed during some of the protests they have had. However those who criticize the tea party movement and Fox News for what they allege as racism should also criticize those who play the race card and make a profit off of it or those who discuss race but don’t offer any action oriented plans for us to do to improve race relations in this country. For example when people come on CNN and MSNBC and declare that people are racists regardless if it is true or not, everyone seems to applaud that as if it is improving race relations in this nation when all it is doing is continuing to keep that wedge alive.

In the 21st century, if we are to deal with hatred, racism and bigotry correctly, we must begin to not only discuss it on television but in our daily lives with people of our race and other races while at the same time condemning those who spew hatred no matter what race they are. For example when Jesse Jackson accused Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) of being an Uncle Tom and selling out African Americans for not voting for the House version of healthcare reform back in December, no one seemed to say anything. None of the liberal blogs talked about or even acknowledged it in a way that said Jackson was wrong but instead they celebrated it. However Congressman Davis who is running to be the first African American Governor of the State of Alabama said he is not going to get in a war of words with the Rev. Jackson who back during the 1980s helped champion a new vision for race relations in this nation. Thus Congressman Davis simply was saying by exchanging words with the Rev. Jackson about race that wasn’t constructive was a waste of time because what Jackson did only continues to divide the African American community and it doesn’t help improve the race debate in this nation.

In fact some people criticize President Obama for running away from racial issues and to a degree perhaps Michael Eric Dyson who was a huge Obama supporter during Obama’s run for the Presidency is perhaps right when he says Obama runs away from race instead of toward it and that is not right because that’s not what his race speech was about. What Dyson was angry about was Obama’s quick forgiveness of Senator Reid’s comments in regards to him. Still the reality is that, regardless if you agree with Dyson’s criticism, one could assume that Dyson has some hatred in him when it comes to whites using the N-word but not when blacks use it. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the fact is this, there is some hatred that exists when it comes to President Obama and there is sure enough some criticism that is justified as well as unjustified.

We as Americans must continue to fight against all hatred not just toward President Obama but toward all Americans while also understanding the difference between hatred and criticism and to understand that difference more below is an additional article by Dr. Boyce Watkins. Regardless if you agreed or know about Danny Glover and his comments, Dr. Watkins explains the situation and how we as a people should view it:

Analysis: Danny Glover vs. Barack Obama: Is Glover's Criticism Justified?
By Boyce Watkins, PhD
Jan 4th 2010


Just a few weeks ago, actor Danny Glover weighed in heavy on Barack Obama's work as president of the United States, effectively claiming that Obama is no different from former President George W. Bush in many critical areas, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When asked what he thought about Obama's policies, Glover had this to say:

"I think the Obama administration has followed the same playbook, to a large extent, almost verbatim, as the Bush administration. I don't see anything different," the activist and actor said. "On the domestic side, look here: What's so clear is that this country from the outset is projecting the interests of wealth and property. Look at the bailout of Wall Street. Why not the bailout of Main Street?"

Elliot Millner, legal adviser of the Your Black World Coalition, had a take on the situation, arguing that both men may be correct in their approaches. "This is a fair criticism, for a couple of reasons: Despite the conservative media's protests to the contrary, Obama ran as a moderate, and that is basically what he is on most issues (if you don't think so, compare Obama's campaign platform to that of Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards). Former President Bush, although a Republican, was also considered a moderate (too moderate for many Republicans) on many issues. So it is no surprise that President Obama may look similar to President Bush in his views and actions on some issues (most obviously in his war policy)."

I am not going to take sides on the debate between President Obama and Danny Glover, but I can say that strong voices in the black community are necessary when attempting to hold the president accountable. It doesn't mean that we should undermine Obama's progress, but we should certainly ensure that he actually is making progress. The great challenge of American politics is that there is always the temptation to think about career preservation over serving the collective constituency you represent. President Obama appears to be an ethical man, but we must be sure to remember that only squeaky wheels get oiled, so the black community's decision to silence all voices that disagree with Obama may ultimately backfire.

Here are three things the president can do to make things better when it comes to his black critics:

1) Deal with mass incarceration: Too many black families are being destroyed by the prison systems. Some kind of radical change is necessary to make this right, and the pursuit of such radical change may end some careers, but given that millions of lives are at stake, someone must be brave enough to make the sacrifice.

2) Work to address the unemployment gap: I am not sure how anyone expects black men to remain silent about the 50 percent unemployment rate in major cities, such as New York. If the rest of America can moan about 9 percent unemployment rates, then I want to scream about 50 percent. In fact, we should all be screaming right now.

3) Please educate our children: Radical reform is called for in the education system. Our nation is losing billions each year in potential productivity by not teaching our children how to read. This has got to change right now, and the problem must be addressed with the same urgency as the War on Terror.

African Americans pay taxes like everyone else, so it is absolutely unacceptable to presume that we are somehow weak for asking for government support to solve critical problems. The rest of America lines up to ask for government bailouts when times are tough, so, as an American, I expect to line up with the rest of them.

President Obama deserves our support, but so does Danny Glover. Real action must be forthcoming, not just from the president, but from all of us. Courage will be required.

My Perspective: The War on Our Youth—No Excuses

Many of our youth today don’t know who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. yet alone anything about the civil rights movement or about the holocaust. In fact many of our youth today, don’t know who their current politicians are yet alone who was the President of the United States of America during World War I or II yet alone who the President was during the Civil War. Therefore some might say it is not our youth fault they don’t know this, it is those who teach this to them that is at fault or it is the parents fault. However in the age of technological advances only dreamed about, it is time to stop making excuses for our youth.

Our youth today have more at their fingers than any other generation in history and the technology to do search will only get better and more advanced each passing day and year. Before there was internet and Google, previous generations had to use library catalogs to research people, places and things. However thanks to the internet, the youth today are capable to use their cell phones if they have the internet on them to research anything they feel like from a song lyric to the latest news topics to who Madam C.J. Walker was or who Princess Diana was.

So it amazes me how with all these technological advances and how our youth have it so easy to research things that people still find a way to make excuse for why our youth today don’t know basic historical facts or figures. Still what amazes me besides the excuses that are given for why our youth today don’t know is the fact that when you ask our youth to rap Lil’ Wayne’s latest rap lyric or sing Beyonce’s latest song, they are able to do it so quickly that you would have thought the song was played.

It is stop for us as a people to stop making excuses for our youth. Our youth today are capable of knowing history and knowing historical figures but they choose to spend their time on Facebook chatting with friends that they just saw earlier in the day or they choose to look up music and song lyrics as well as go to gossip sites to see what is the latest news on their favorite celebrities or celebrities they don’t like. Our youth today can know these things and much more if they would just devote more time to educating themselves on history and historical figures that have shaped history. However our youth today choose not to.

At the same time, perhaps we can blame the parents of the youth or the educators who are responsible for teaching them as well as motivating them to pursue more knowledge but the truth of the matter is that our youth have to want to obtain and seek certain knowledge on their own. Now I understand that our youth perhaps don’t know about these historical things or a historical figure which is why they are not stimulated or motivated enough to pursue to do research on their own unless it is for a grade for class. Even with that logical, we are still accepting mediocrity for our youth and are telling our youth that it is okay for them to not seek knowledge on their own.

I refuse to make that argument and I refuse for anyone to continue to make excuses for our youth not knowing certain facts about not just America’s history but their own cultural and ethnic history. Youth today need to want to obtain knowledge on their own and they need to motivate themselves to want to know more than just present history because those who don’t know their past or where they came from are bound to repeat the past or are in trouble of being lost in the future. Thus if we are to win this war on our youth, we have to win this battle of making excuses for why our youth don’t know. It is 2010, a new year and a new decade, thus it is time for us to stop finding excuses for why our youth don’t know and start figuring our reasons why they should know.

Our youth today should know and must know if they are to lead us to greater heights in the future but they can’t do that if we continue to make excuses for them while not acknowledging that they have it a whole lot easier to research things than any other generation. Just time about it, today youth can read books on the internet or on their phone through a service called e-books. Thus it is inexcusable for why our youth don’t know certain things but know rap lyrics, sports statistics of current athletes, and what their favorite celebrity likes to eat as well as wear but they can’t tell you who Abraham Lincoln is, what the Voting Rights Act was, or what is the Bill of Rights for this nation.

No excuses people, our youth should know and must know their history just as much as they know all this pointless non-sense about quote unquote celebrities. If we win this battle of not making excuses for why our youth can afford to pay for prom but can’t afford to pay a college application fee of $25 than we will win this war on our youth. We can’t continue to make excuses for our youth; the day of excuses is over. Like the students at Morehouse College said after Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America, no more excuses. Well I am telling all those who are involved in this war on our youth that there are no more excuses for why our youth can’t succeed or why they don’t know.

No more excuses for why we can’t can this battle and every other battle dealing with our youth so that we can finally win this war. No excuses for why we can’t put this war on our youth to rest this decade. I won’t accept any excuses and I hope all of you will stand with me and help me win this war once and for all so future generations of youth have no reason for why they can’t succeed because the war on our youth will be over this decade once and for all.


Save Our Youth!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blame Game in Massachusetts

The blame game has already started over who is to blame for the Democrats losing Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in liberal Massachusetts. The finger pointing and whose fault is started as soon as the polls closed at 7p.m. on Tuesday in Massachusetts. Days before Republican state Sen. Scott Brown officially captured the seat over Democrat Martha Coakley; Washington to Boston began dodging blame and pointing fingers at each other. Cool-headed analysis of what was driving independents from Coakley to Brown? No. The issue was who botched Democrat Martha Coakley's Senate campaign more: her state people or national Democrats.

Most spoke the classic Washington way, under the cloak of anonymity. But President Barack Obama's senior adviser took precise, public aim at Coakley's camp as Brown closed in on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat. "I think the White House did everything we were asked to do," David Axelrod told reporters. "Had we been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier." But the signs had been there. In the bluest of blue states, the election was seen, at least in part, as a referendum on Obama, on health care reform, on the Democratic majority that had controlled two of three branches of government for a year.

And the Republican candidate was surging. What of Obama himself? "Surprised and frustrated," reported White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, promising more presidential reaction Wednesday. "Not pleased." Democrats could agree on the obvious: Somebody had taken the seat for granted, had underestimated the public's anger over the economy, over the Democrats' health care overhaul, over plain old arrogance in Washington. Coakley pollster Celinda Lake acknowledged some missteps on the part of the campaign, such as failing to have enough money to go on the air early on to more sharply define Brown. But she said the problem was Washington and the Democratic Party. And she said the president's effort to overhaul health care was not defined enough to earn the support of some voters.

Disgust with Democrats runs so deep, Lake said, that the Coakley campaign was unable to persuade voters that the candidate had spent her career as a prosecutor going after Wall Street. "People didn't believe it, and they didn't vote for her because they think the Democrats in Washington are not putting up economic policies that serve Main Street and working families," she said. Retorted a White House ally: "If they thought there was a problem with health care or the nationalization of the race, why did they ask the president to come campaign for her?" asked the operative, who demanded anonymity to speak about internal party sniping.

For a week, high-level Democratic operatives panned Coakley's performance as so weak that even a personal appearance by Obama couldn't save her. The White House joined in Tuesday while people were still voting in Massachusetts, blaming Coakley and dismissing the notion that the toxic political environment had been a factor. Coakley's campaign fired back in a point-by-point memo that blamed that very environment. And, her aides added, if Coakley took the seat for granted, so did the high priests of the national party — the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. Her lead, Coakley's supporters argued, dropped significantly after the Senate passed health care reform shortly before Christmas, and even more after the Christmas Day attempted bombing in Detroit that Obama himself said was a failure of his administration.

"DNC and other Dem organizations did not engage until the week before the election, much too late to aid Coakley campaign," read one bullet point by a campaign operative brought in to work on the campaign. Please don't pass this on, the adviser wrote. "I'm not looking to get in a (fight) with the White House, but neither do I want to get steamrolled," this adviser wrote. Too late. "A pack full of lies and fantasies," shot back a senior national party official quoted by The Huffington Post. "The candidate in this race and the campaign have been involved in the worst case of political malpractice in memory and they aren't going to be able to spin themselves out of this with a memo full of lies."

Brown, a state senator, waged a door-to-door campaign that capitalized on voter dissatisfaction. He turned his pickup truck with 200,000 miles on it into a symbol of his workmanlike effort. He launched the campaign's ad war on Dec. 30 with a spot that commandeered the political potency of the Kennedy name. It opened with black-and-white footage of Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, arguing for an across-the-board tax cut. Then it cut to Brown finishing the speech. All this as Coakley, the state attorney general, paused.

After winning a four-way primary with 47 percent of the vote, Coakley cut back on her appearances and disappeared entirely Christmas week, confident she needed only community and political activists and their networks in what was projected to be a low-turnout special election. When she re-emerged, it wasn't to shake hands or rally supporters, but to sit on the stage at inaugurations for newly elected Democratic mayors. There was no stump speech, only press releases. And she balked at debates.

In a span of weeks, Brown had erased Coakley's double-digit lead. The Democratic establishment in Washington snapped to attention, airlifting so many aides from Washington to help Coakley that after a while, her own campaign officials hardly recognized anyone walking around headquarters. In the end, the verdict may not entirely be about any one party member or candidate. "The Democrats have the White House. The Democrats have the Senate, as well," said Griffin Smith, 24, a teacher, who voted for Obama last year. "I would like to have more of a checks-and-balance system."

Still, the stunning Republican victory in Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate race will force Democrats to fundamentally rethink the meaning of Barack Obama's election to the presidency, especially the notion that Americans want more government help in matters such as obtaining health insurance. Scott Brown's win in a liberal state will do more than vastly complicate Obama's bid to overhaul the U.S. health care system and pass climate-change legislation. It will prompt politicians of every stripe to redouble their efforts to understand voters' anger and desires ahead of the November elections for Congress, governorships and state legislatures.

Many Americans saw the 2008 election as a repudiation of George W. Bush's presidency, with Obama as the fresh new leader promising to harness the government to expand health coverage, discipline banks and stimulate the moribund economy. But Brown's victory over Democrat Martha Coakley suggests that many voters still harbor suspicions or outright resentment of the federal government, no matter who's in charge. Conservatives, perhaps sensing the mood better than liberals, have accused Obama of big-brotherism and even socialism as he pushes his health plan and pours billions of dollars into economic stimulus programs.

The president rightly notes that he campaigned precisely on those issues. But that's small comfort to nervous and perplexed Democratic lawmakers who now expect stiff anti-incumbent winds in November and heightened GOP attacks against "big government." Even the smartest political consultants may need time to sort out Tuesday's lessons. American voters rejected Republican control in the 2006 congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election. Democrats widely assumed that a top priority, and a winning political issue, was to make health insurance more accessible and competitive.

But now, just 14 months later, voters are snarling at the Democrats they put in charge, leaving them to wonder how to expand services without invoking public wrath. John Triolo, a Massachusetts independent who voted for Obama in 2008 and for Brown on Tuesday, exemplified the confusing message. "I voted for Obama because I wanted change," said Triolo, 38, a sales manager from Fitchburg, Mass. "I wanted change, I thought he'd bring it to us, but I just don't like the direction that he's heading." Everyone should have health coverage, Triolo said, "but I think we should take the time to look at it, but not ram it down our throat."

Karla Bunch, a 49-year-old teacher who also voted for Brown in Fitchburg, said, "It's time for the country, for the taxpayers, to take back their money. It's not a vote against the president." Obama may be as puzzled as anyone by his party's inability to keep the Senate seat long held by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy. The president "was both surprised and frustrated" by developments in the Coakley-Brown contest, spokesman Robert Gibbs said while voting continued Tuesday. Democrats were dismayed last November to see the GOP take over the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, states that Obama had carried the year before. But Tuesday's results are more painful and troubling.

Massachusetts is among the nation's most liberal states, and the candidates made it clear that a Brown victory likely would kill the Democrats' health care push in the Senate. Democrats now must ask: Did Massachusetts voters register their discontent based on a decent understanding of the complex health care legislation? Or did conservatives do a better job of framing and spinning the debate, starting with raucous public meetings in August that caught Democrats flat-footed with bogus claims of "death panels"?

The latest AP-GfK poll showed an even split between Americans who support the health care package and those who oppose it. But Republican lawmakers say Brown's victory proves that public intensity and momentum are on their side, and they plan to build on it throughout the year. Jon Cowan, president of the Democratic-leaning group Third Way, said centrist and independent voters in 2006 and 2008 were lending their support to Democrats, not granting it permanently. Their message on Tuesday, he said, is "you must hear our concerns and address them seriously if you want our long-term support." So far, Cowan said, they "still need significant convincing."

Obama's campaign clout also will be questioned, although he has ample time to regroup before his 2012 re-election bid. Surveys show that many Americans hold a dimmer view of government as an institution than they do of the president as an individual. The AP-GfK poll found Obama's approval rating at 56 percent, about the same as in October. But approval of his handling of specific issues, including health care, is considerably lower. Underscoring the deep and persistent doubts that Americans seem to have about their government, a slight majority still thinks the nation is on the wrong track. The number ran as high as 78 percent just before Obama defeated John McCain in 2008.

But Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have been unable to keep the wrong-track number below 50 percent, according to polls that ask the question every month or so. That's about the average finding from 2003 through 2005, and better than the results from 2006 to 2008. If Democrats can find the tiniest of silver linings in Tuesday's results, it's this: Massachusetts pollsters detected a strong anti-incumbent mood among voters, which could hurt Republicans as well as Democrats. On Tuesday, it mainly hurt Coakley, because her party dominates state politics. In November, hundreds of Republican senators, House members, governors and other state officials will seek re-election nationwide, and a big anti-incumbent wave might sweep them out with their Democratic brethren.

So while the blame game in Massachusetts continues, it is clear that Brown’s victory is something for Republicans to celebrate for the moment and Coakley’s lost is a signal for Democrats to rethink some of their policies in Washington. However if both Democrats and Republicans look at the 2006 midterm elections until now and see how independent voters are voting they will realize that these voters are growing and more of them are tired of the status quo and are voting for non-incumbent candidates or candidates of the opposite party in control of state governments. Also since the 2006 midterm elections, American voters are leaning more toward candidates who campaign on their own message and not the talking points of a political party or a political ideology.

Thus 2010 might not be the year of the Republicans or the year of Democrats losing their huge majority but it might be the year of the Independent/Moderate movement who want politicians who are willing to campaign and work from the center instead of from the far right or far left because that just hasn’t worked to solve our nation’s issues.

The War on Our Youth—Preserving SCHIP in the Healthcare Reform Battle

As the healthcare reform debate continues in Congress, it seems as if the SCHIP program that is aimed at giving healthcare for children is uncertain in the future. Democratic Congressional leaders are working to merge the House and Senate versions of major health care legislation, a big question is what they will do about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now provides coverage to more than nine million children and pregnant women and is expected to cover more than 14 million by 2013. The Senate bill would preserve the program, known as CHIP, and would extend federal financing through 2015, two years past its expiration date under current law. Two Democrats, Senators John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, fought hard to protect CHIP in the bill.

The House bill, by contrast, would end CHIP and redirect the millions of children either to Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, or to new health insurance exchanges where moderate-income Americans would be able to buy private coverage using new federal subsidies to help offset the cost. Unlike many of the issues facing Senate and House negotiators, the question of what to do with CHIP is not just a cerebral policy point. In recent years, states have made huge strides in covering children, particularly those in low- and moderate-income families, and experts say those gains could be put at risk.

“Attention must be paid to the possibility that some children who lose CHIP coverage could fall through the cracks and become uninsured,” Genevieve M. Kenney and Allison Cook wrote last month in a brief prepared for the Urban Institute, the Washington research group. Some House Democrats, including Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and a lead author of the health care legislation, have said it is difficult to defend a stand-alone government insurance program for children once subsidies are available for entire families.

But many children’s health advocates cite numerous risks. Simply shifting children from one program to another could result in some losing coverage, even on a temporary basis. And there is a chance that parents, even with new subsidies, will find coverage unaffordable and choose not to buy it for themselves or their children, despite a new mandate in both bills that nearly everyone obtain coverage. Then there are more complicated situations, like those of children whose parents have mixed immigrant status. Under both the Senate and House bills, illegal immigrants would not be eligible for the insurance subsidies.

Some experts project that as many as 14 percent of children with health care through government programs come from such families. And while the bills would provide for the creation of child-only insurance policies, it is unclear how those policies would work and whether children would face difficulties obtaining coverage that way. The bills also seek to push people with access to employer-sponsored health insurance to buy it, allowing exemptions only for families for whom such coverage would be extremely expensive. Many low-income workers already choose to enroll their children in CHIP because private coverage is too costly.

“The country has made remarkable progress in covering kids in recent years because of the success of CHIP and its companion program, Medicaid,” said Jocelyn A. Guyer, co-executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. “It would be a major problem if health reform undercut these gains by shutting CHIP down too abruptly or by moving kids into coverage that isn’t as affordable and as well-designed to get them the care they need to develop and grow.”

In an effort to tilt the debate in favor of maintaining CHIP as a stand-alone program, Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Casey prevailed upon the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to include two more years of federal financing — through 2015 — which would serve as a bridge beyond the creation of insurance exchanges, where people would be able to buy subsidized private coverage. Under the Senate bill, state-based exchanges would begin in 2014. The House bill calls for a national insurance exchange to begin in 2013.

Tied directly to the question of CHIP’s future is the proposed expansion of Medicaid, to include many more low-income Americans, particularly childless adults. Medicaid would grow under both measures, with eligibility expanded to individuals and families earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (currently about $29,327) under the Senate bill, and up to 150 percent of the poverty level ($33,075) under the House bill.

States have generally expressed apprehension about the proposed Medicaid expansion, because they would eventually share in the cost of covering new enrollees. Medicaid generally provides more comprehensive coverage than CHIP, but potentially offers fewer choices of doctors and other health providers because of Medicaid’s low payment rates. States currently must provide Medicaid coverage to all children through age 5, from families earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, and to children ages 6 to 18 with family income up to 100 percent of the poverty level.

The House bill, in addition to more broadly expanding Medicaid eligibility, would also increase payment rates for primary care physicians — a step that many health advocates say is needed to improve access to providers for children and adults. The Senate bill does not increase Medicaid payment rates. In a statement after the Senate adopted its health care bill on Dec. 24, Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund, a New York-based advocacy group, praised the keeping of CHIP, but criticized the Senate bill for not lifting Medicaid payment rates. “Unfortunately, the Senate bill fails to improve reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers and omits a provision to automatically enroll otherwise uninsured infants, both of which were in the House bill,” Dr. Redlener said.

Mr. Rockefeller, in an interview just before the Senate adopted its bill, said that he was prepared to battle against his colleagues in the House to preserve CHIP in the final health care legislation. “I am not going to drop kids,” he said. But Mr. Rockefeller also said he was optimistic that House Democratic leaders, however reluctant, would make the adjustments needed to get the final legislation through the Senate, where Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote. “The House doesn’t like the Senate, anyway,” he said. “I don’t blame them.”

So the war on our youth is in the healthcare reform legislation because there is a possibility that many children who are currently covered by SCHIP could slip through the cracks if SCHIP is taken away as the House bill wants to do. Therefore we must advocate against SCHIP being removed because it is essential to the healthcare battle on our youth and it critical to winning this war on our youth.

Progressive Group says Rahm Emanuel = Weakness

It seems as if Progressive groups who have fought long and hard for the public option to be included in healthcare reform were betrayed by one of their very own who decided for it not to be included in the Senate healthcare bill. So a liberal group is stepping up its offensive against White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, urging its members to sign a pledge claiming they will not to support the former Illinois congressman if he ever runs for public office again.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a television ad in December questioning Emanuel's handling of the health care issue. On Monday, the PCCC initiated a pledge campaign in response to a January 12 New York Times article that detailed how Emanuel met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and helped broker the decision to abandon a public option in order to garner the support of Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The Connecticut senator had just gone on a Sunday morning talk show to announce he would not vote for the Democrat's health care bill, and thus, could not be counted as Reid's 60th vote. The PCCC said Emanuel "undermine[d] progressives behind the scenes."

"There's nobody in Washington, D.C. who caves at the slightest hint of a fight with corporate interests more than Rahm Emanuel," PCCC co-founder Adam Green said in a statement. "We're making clear to Rahm that when he undermines progressives and the overwhelming will of the American people on issues like the public option, he will pay a political price back home." The pledge Web site says the PCCC's goal is 1000 signatures; as of Monday afternoon, about 950 PCCC members had signed the pledge, and the group planned an online ad campaign in Illinois to boost awareness of the campaign.

It is clear that the PCCC feels Rahm Emanuel is weak which is a part of their Facebook ad that those who pledge can post on their wall which I myself did but not because he brokered the deal to get rid of the public option. Since Rahm Emanuel was named White House Chief of Staff, I knew it was a bad idea and when he came out and said in times of crisis, you can pass or do things that aren’t always popular under traditional circumstances. Simply put Emanuel was saying that it times of crisis’s you can do unconventional things or you can just pull out odd blueprints that usually wouldn’t past and implement them now because people are looking for solutions and will go for anything. Okay I am just assuming that is Emanuel was saying but if you actually read his quote than you would take the same from it.

Therefore the fact that the PCCC is going after Emanuel to show that if he decides to run for any public office ever again is what is needed. Sending a message to those who are willing to bend over backfires for the health insurance industry or Wall Street is exactly what Americans are starting to do. The PCCC is going after Emanuel and they are not only using the social networks to do it but they are putting up political ads in Illinois to go after Emanuel. Regardless of how you feel about Emanuel, he will have some things to answer if he runs for political office again especially since there is a rumor he might run for mayor of Chicago if the current mayor doesn’t run again.

Healthcare without 60 Democrats

In the wake of Democrat Martha Coakley losing the United State Senate seat in Massachusetts to Republican candidate and now Senator-Elect Scott Brown, Democrats in Congress are scrambling to figure out how do they pass healthcare in the Senate without the guaranteed 60th vote. Still some people in the nation particularly those in support of this bad healthcare bill are saying that healthcare reform is dead or they are saying they hope this undesirable bill passes because it’s better than nothing. That alone is a debate for another day and blog but for now, all hope that healthcare reform can’t get passed without 60 Democrats is just flat out false.

At first it was an extraordinary hypothetical political situation that is now a reality as the fate of healthcare reform was somewhat determined by the outcome of Tuesday’s Senate election in Massachusetts. With Republican Scott Brown beating Democrat Martha Coakley in the special ballot to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat, the GOP now have 41 Senate votes. That means that if the GOP in the Senate stay together in the Senate, they could block final passage of the House-Senate compromise on healthcare legislation that Democratic lawmakers are now negotiating under President Obama’s oversight. Still if this happens, Democrats basically have three options:

1. TALK FASTER. House and Senate Democratic leaders could cobble together a final package at a more rapid pace and push it through both legislative chambers before the new Senator Brown is seated.

Pros: This would enable Democrats to settle their differences in the manner they had originally planned. Liberal House members would get their chance to move the final legislation leftward from the Senate’s more conservative version.

Cons: This method could also make Mr. Obama and other Democratic party leaders look as if they are thwarting the will of the people – specifically, the will of the people of Massachusetts – by acting before the new senator is sworn in. And Republicans might sue. Conservative commentator Fred Barnes, editor of the magazine the Weekly Standard, opined over the weekend that the current placeholder in the Massachusetts Senate seat, Democrat Paul Kirk, will legally lose his ability to vote the moment election returns are final.

2. BYPASS THE SENATE. House-Senate conferees could also simply agree to adopt the Senate’s version of healthcare legislation. The House would have to vote to approve this move, but the Senate would not, since the House would be considering the exact version of a bill Senators have already passed.

Pros: By bypassing another Senate vote, Democrats would avoid a scenario in which a new Senator Brown helps filibuster healthcare reform into oblivion. Plus, the White House prefers the Senate version of the legislation, anyway.

Cons: This could be described as another thwarting-the-people move – and one that looks a bit trickier than the “Talk Faster” option. Also, House members would be very unhappy about having to swallow the Senate bill, and could even vote the whole thing down.

3. RECONCILIATION. Obama and Democratic leaders could also junk months of work and start over with a stripped-down version of healthcare reform. Using "reconciliation" – a Senate maneuver designed for passing crucial budget items without a filibuster – a narrow, more budget-focused approach might need only 50 votes to get through the Senate.

Pros: Democratic leaders might look like they were heeding the will of the people. Lots of nervous moderate Democrats would prefer a less-ambitious healthcare bill, anyway.

Cons: The “reconciliation” approach is extremely controversial and complicated. It involves breaking the healthcare bill into many pieces and proving that each would trim the deficit. Using reconciliation on non-budget bills has been called the "nuclear option" because of the ill-will and partisanship it generates in the Senate. It would be subject to GOP attack at every turn. Moreover, President Obama would find it difficult to sell the result as the sort of healthcare reform worthy of being the defining domestic achievement of his first years in office.

None of these options are particularly good ones, notes one veteran Washington political expert. “They’re too artificial,” says Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Democratic leaders should not manipulate the legislative process to get healthcare reform through, according to Mr. Hess. He suggested another option: since the Massachusetts seat went to the Republicans, the Obama administration should redouble efforts to try and get Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine to vote for the finished healthcare effort.

Still for anyone who thinks healthcare reform is dead completely are misinformed and regardless of the outcome, Democrats have options to pass healthcare reform but the road to the final passage of healthcare reform is tougher than was just yesterday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Am King, You Are King, We are All King


As the nation celebrated the 81st Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is clear that for some people, the legacy of King perhaps reached its climax with the election of President Barack Obama. However for people like myself, the legacy of King only reached yet another pivotal moment with the election of Obama and that the climax of King’s legacy has yet to be reached. King’s legacy is not for debate but what is up for debate is the service of action in King’s legacy in the eyes of us the people and how much we have lived up to King’s service action orientated legacy.

Therefore, it is time for us as people to understand that King’s legacy and the climax of it has not been reached. King said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” So with that said, some might say that leader is President Obama but I say King wasn’t speaking of a politician but he was speaking of us as people to lead our families and communities by molding them to stop being divided but working on what we all can agree on and build off of that consensus in the hopes that it pulls them closer to solving other issues.

King said, “A lie cannot live.” Well he’s right, we must defeat lies and we must admit the lies we have told to others in our lives in the hopes of putting it out there in the universe in order to start telling the truth and healing our own souls of the demonic demons that latch on to us to pull us down. Still King’s legacy is far greater than perhaps any of us can understand but the embodiment of it is, “A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.” Therefore what are you living, what are we living for. We all should be living not for self but for the service of others and to make this world better than how we found it.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Independent, Republican, or if you belong to any other political party in this nation, the reality is that we all have a job to do which is to uplift, encourage and give hope to those of us who are sick, in despair and in need of help. As Dr. King said, “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.” Therefore, we all need to invest in the young Generation of Americans in order to help them become more educated than previous generations as well as to make them stronger to take the criticisms that might be thrown their way. We all have an obligation to make our minds strong and hard to withstand nonsense and b***s*** that won’t amount to anything than dragging someone down.

Still it is not enough that we invest in our youth but us as a people must make sure our nation and other nations are investing in the empowerment of the people rather than the empowerment of military defense. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If we as a society are investing more in military defense than social uplift than we are already dooming ourselves according to King and we can just look at America to see how bad things really in terms of social uplift. Just look at the fact we are at war in two nations and are spending nearly $800 billion per year on the wars.

Dr. Benjamin Jealous, the national President of the NAACP recently wrote, “Much of Dr. King's work was to end the scourge of poverty and he began to question the essence of our prevailing economic system. "We must ask the question why there are forty million poor people in America. And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy."” Therefore it is clear that much of King’s social action legacy still must be worked on. During King’s lifetime, Dr. King spoke of nearly 40 million Americans being poor, living in poverty or living near the poverty line meaning one paycheck away from poverty. Now if we look at those numbers today 39.2 million Americans still are living in poverty. Thus the greed and excesses of our system has led to one of the worst recessions in history no matter how anyone tries to look at it.

Dr. King was not just about civil rights but he was about equality and justice for all as well social-economic issues. King championed labor describing the labor movement as the "principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over our nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society," he said. Today, the laws on union organizing have been weakened and the percentage of unionized workers has fallen from 36 percent in 1945 to 12.4 percent of American workers, only 7.6 percent in the private sector.

And Dr. King asked us all to give of our time and our voice to change the injustice around us. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," King said. Therefore King devoted his entire life to the rights of people and making sure people got the rights that they deserved because King believed, “A right delayed is a right denied.” So think about today and the rights of our neighbors, our friends and our family and ask ourselves are their rights of equality and justice being denied in any way and if so than we need to work on their behalf to stop the delay of those rights.

Most of all we all must remember, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Therefore the time we invest in the social action movement and progression of uplifting the lives of others will not come easy but the rewards will come with true excellence in doing what is right. When is doing what is right ever too late? When is it ever too late to do the right thing? If we as a people remember that than we will always do the right thing even after we have done something wrong. We must do the right thing because it is never too late to do the right thing.

At the same time, we must be patient in what we do to serve others. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle,” said King. We as people must be consistent in our acts of service and we must not be discouraged when the results of our actions are slow to come because the results of our hard work and commitment to serving others will pay off in all due time. King’s legacy is one that lives in each and every one of us but it is up to us to live up the potential of that legacy. Are we as people going to continue to live darkness or are we going to come into the light to live up to our own potential of greatness and the potential to help King’s legacy occur.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” said Dr. King. So are we going show love to others so that we can lead humanity out of the darkness of hate that only tears down our society from the very foundations that we live on. Are we as people going to live in the light of love and showcase each and every day even if we know the world around us is going to pieces with the darkness of hate. Well King said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” So if King could understand this nearly 40 plus years ago than why can’t we. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness,” said King. Are we as a people going to walk in the light or in the darkness? This is ultimately the decision we face today.

The decision we face today is to be great by serving others because greatness is accomplished when we give more of ourselves to make the lives of others better. Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Our greatness is right here for us to take and live up. The ability to live up to the greatness of the legacy of King is one that we all can accomplish but we must want it.

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So now is the time to fully understand that all of which we see before us today didn’t happen by chance or circumstance but they happened because all the signs pointed to it happening but many of us just didn’t follow the signs to realize it. We as a people can be great but it begins with faith because as King said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Do we as a people have faith to take the first step even when we don’t see the whole staircase and do we have the faith to know that what we are working toward will happen because we have begun the process to accomplish it?

Are we as a people willing to make sure to release love into the atmosphere in order to defeat hate which only kills life. “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it,” said King. Love is just that powerful that it can overcome anything that hate does but we as people must overcome our hatred for people and things. We as a society must exhibit love no matter what because King said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” This is why we can’t participate in hate and we must not exhibit hate because by doing it, we are just as guilty as those who do hateful acts especially if we don’t fight against hatred.

King said it best when he said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” We are all good people but when we do bad things, we are considered bad; however we make redeem ourselves for our bad by not being silent in the face of injustices done to others. Dr. King said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” So will we give more of us tin order to continue the progression of humanity or will we sit by and do nothing as so many others have done throughout our history.

King’s legacy is about social action not just against injustice and for equality but for the salvation of humanity to live amongst each other peacefully. King said, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” So are we adjusting our life styles to help those who are less fortunate than us and who are underprivileged. We as people must be selfless and while some of us might crave power, we must not crave power that is immoral. “I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is the only type of power that we all should be interested in but it must be in a selfless power that is moral, that is right and that is good because that is the only power that will benefit all of society.

King believed that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. King understood that while the right thing can be temporarily defeated, it cannot be defeated forever. We as people must understand that when we do the right thing we can never be defeated and that we must always strive to do the right thing no matter how tempting evil might seem. We as a society must understand that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere as King believed because if an injustice takes place in Alaska, Maine, New York, Alabama, Michigan or California, we as a people must fight against it. An injustice anywhere can lead to the downfall of our society and if we don’t fight for it today than when will we fight against it.

King also went on to say, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This is why we must always believe that what we are doing today will affect future generations and what future generations do, will affect another generation of people. Nothing we do as a people will just affect us or those around us because everything that we do will have a direct or indirect affect on this world.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So with that said, we must act now to change the fate of our nation and this world we live up. If you were silent on the social issues that plague the young, the sick, the elderly, the underprivileged and the poor prior to this year than now is the time to speak up. If you were silent on any of the social issues that don’t allow for equality and justice for all than now is the time to speak up and be heard. This is the moment for all of us to King because “I Am King, You Are King, and We are All King!” We just have to live up to the legacy now more than ever before.

Jay-Z - History



(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighter)
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighters)
Victory is finally ours
(Yeah)
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours


[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long



Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)
CHANGE!

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)


Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook






It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.



Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen


“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.


Lift Every Voice and Sing


This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC (www.ascender-c.com) at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean




If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige



Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"


If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.

YES WE CAN



Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!

YES WE CAN!

Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions


Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.


The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.
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Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding



"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"

STAR SPANGLED BANNER


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?


On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!


O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President



Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

FIGHT THE POWER



We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.


We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.


We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!


FIGHT THE POWER!

PEOPLE GET READY


“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.


“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.


“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!


Alicia]
(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

[Lyfe]
People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

[Alicia]
There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


“PEOPLE GET READY!”

God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood


Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A