Archive for the ‘ The White House ’ Category

This week, President Obama issued a controversial, three-part executive order preventing the deportation of over five-million illegal immigrants.

Presto! You are legal!

In Thursday night’s pathos-saturated speech to the American people, the president relied heavily on rhetorical questioning to appeal to our hearts and our patriotism,

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?”

“Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families and works together to keep them together? Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us, or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America? That’s what this debate is all about.”

No, Mr. President; we are not. We are a nation which has famously welcomed the “tired, the poor,” the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the statue 2“wretched refuse” of other nations.  The Statue of Liberty calls, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But once the immigrants get through that golden door, what happens? What becomes of them? In the case of the illegals who snuck in a golden back-window in the dead of night and then lived in constant fear of deportation, they may remain here, though they don’t necessarily have a path to citizenship just yet. They are assured that their family can and will thrive in the land of milk and honey, and if they cannot, their adopted Uncle Sam will see to it that they have what they need.

Yeah. That’s exactly how it works. Just ask the people in Appalachia, many the ancestors of the Scots-Irish and Europeans who waited in long lines to trudge through that golden door to mine black gold in the hills of West Virginia, Virginia, southern Ohio, and eastern Kentucky. immigrants2

When King Coal was dethroned, our nation expanded and extended support to the poorest counties of these states, via government social programs that were intended to get people on their feet. Fifty years after LB Johnson declared his  “War on Poverty, the poverty rates in rural Appalachia average slightly over 30%. In some areas as many as 47% of the people live on government support (Gabriel).

Consider, too, how this nation has provided for  the people who had already claimed this continent when the Europeans began colonizing. Our Native-American communities, confined within awkward reservation boundaries, fit the true definition of ghetto—there  is little escape from the cycle of poverty. One in four Native Americans and Native American Eskimos survive below the poverty level, with proportionately less government assistance than other American-poor (A Quiet Crisis).

poor-native-american-indians-well-water-pump-pumping1

Yet, Obama essentially has allowed millions of people who have bypassed the golden door to stay on and get an even bigger piece of the shrinking American pie, without any regard for the generations whose ancestors we welcomed centuries ago, nor for those who were here long before the United States of America existed.

President Obama’s bold action last week further taxes this nation’s resources and even further reduces its ability to improve the lives of America’s forgotten poor.

Signing that executive action, then asking us to be compassionate is akin to the neighborhood crazy cat  letting one more sad-eyed kitten in the door, crazy cat ladythen

 

 

another, then another, even though she hasn’t the time nor the resources to properly care for the ones she is already housing.

This laughably loose analogy doesn’t account for the fact that people can and, for the most part, want to work. But it does describe how taking too many people in as a compassionate act can have unintended consequences.

While I am a staunch advocate of our duty to care for, provide for, and fight for people throughout the world, I wonder why our president is more concerned with making things easier for people who disregarded American laws instead of investing in programs and industries and businesses that could boost the economic potential of rural Appalachia. The citizens of this region are among those Obama referred to in his address, who

“…go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens.”

I wonder why our president is not instead advocating for real change for  the Native Americans and Native Alaskans who live on resource rich territories with as high as 54% poverty rates, according to the 2010 US Census? I wonder why our president is not brazenly crafting and signing legislation that would extend loans to businesses willing to set up shop in coal country, bringing more jobs to some of the nation’s poorest areas.

America already cares for these people, you say? Sure! The people in need in these areas get Food Stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, government-subsidized education yet, wonder of wonders, they are still exceedingly, excruciatingly poor. Some areas could be described as  third-world poor. Almost 15% of Native American homes and schools on American reservations have no electrical service, though they may have wiring. A staggering 20% have no plumbing, and 18% have inadequate sewage-containment systems (US Census). poor-native-american-indians-shelter-shack-dilapitaed1

 

 

There are homes in rural Appalachia without connections to a local water service. No pipes, no toilets, no sinks. I’ve seen homes there with no windows. I once met a 19-year-old woman there who had not tasted a peach or a pear until I shared with her.

Is this the America the president closed his speech stating that “we love?” Is this the American Obama spoke about the other night, the one with a

“… shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will”?

As we were  reminded Thursday night, “we are and always will be a nation of immigrants.”  Ah, the romance. Then the roses stop coming…

America hasn’t made good on its promise to all of its immigrants. The country hasn’t even treated its native populace with honor and respect. It is ludicrous to  allow so many more people in, with so many more to follow, without ensuring that those that are already here can prosper.

References

“A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country.” US Commission on Civil Rights.  Report. July 2003. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/na0703/na0204.pdf

Gabriel, Trip. “50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back.” New York Times. April 20, 2014.

Krogstad, Jens Manuel. “One-in-four Native Americans and Alaska Natives are Living in Poverty.” Pew Research Center. FactTank: News in the Numbers. June 13, 2014.

Obama, Barack. Immigration Speech: Transcript. Washington Post. Nov. 20, 2014.

US Census Bureau (2000). US Census FactFinder. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.

Images from Native American Poverty in the US., The Simpsons.com, US Immigration Archives.

 

The Cool Kids Get All The Breaks

Is President Obama taking the appropriate action to protect our troops and interests in Afghanistan? Is he making appropriate diplomatic choices while visiting with Asian leaders? Did he really think through his decision to try the 911 hijackers in New York City? Is he making flippant and irresponsible statments about the inevitability of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s conviction? Is he doing what he can to revise and negotiate a health care reform bill that will not bankrupt the country and burden our future generations?  

Who the hell cares? According to USA Today, he is the hippest cat in America!

Get a load of this graph from a November 3 article:

“President Obama may not have delivered on all the policy changes he promised since his election a year ago, but he and his family have brought dramatic social change to the nation’s capital and to the country’s collective image of its first family — and not just because they’re the first African Americans in charge at the White House.”

 While I see how the family has changed the image of the first family, I can’t think of  any “dramatic social change” the Obama’s have  brought.

The article details all the cool things the Obamas do, like hosting poetry slams, hiring Stevie Wonder,  Fergie,  and the Foo Fighters to entertain at their house, and they go to Paris and Martha’s Vineyard as a family! The first couple use iPods! She Twitters! He is addicted to his Blackberry.  She has a Facebook page.

 They go tho their kids soccer games. They work out….and they go out on the town… a lot.

If he got any cooler, he’d be able to bump Johnny Depp from the People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive throne.

The fact is, we all take our kids to soccer games, and we love or iPods, and social-networking tools. We travel with our families, and though we can’t have big-name acts play at our parties, we can entertain with their music. Obama is no cooler than the rest of us. The only difference between us and him is his success or lack thereof in his job, and his approval rating.  Hard-working Americans can sit at my cool table. Until The President proves himself worthy, he’ll have to find another spot in the cafeteria.

The Sins of Silence

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
Abraham Lincoln
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You can say a lot of things about President Obama, but you can never accuse him of slacking in his momentum to get things done. It helps that he has an army of supporters in Congress–there is strength in numbers.

This makes me nervous. The current legislative branch has a lot more power than I am comfortable with. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have been privy to enough government corruption in times when the ideologies in Washington DC, were much more balanced.

If Obama’s Cap and Trade steamrolls through Congress, we will see higher energy costs, which will send what remains of our suffering manufacturing sector overseas. I keep hearing that these jobs will be replaced with green jobs, jobs which will produce the cheaper energy. Just because we use the solar energy doesn’t mean that it will be cheaper for solar-panel producers to make them stateside. They will suffer from higher costs, too…and will likely move their operations to cost-effective climes.

If the Kennedy- Dodd Health-Care Reform bill passes (and the president wants some major progress by August), we will eventually see an entire private industry eliminated and replaced by the low efficiency of the government sector. I know, I know, according to the plan, we can keep our current insurance and doctors. Sounds great on paper. But I doubt any employers are going to continue administrating health care plans when the government will do it. This will spell the end of the health insurance industry, and put some more folks out of work. I don’t need to make all of the arguments that already exist about quality of care, waiting periods, etc….

I do need to get to my point: those of us who might agree that we could do more to produce and rely upon alternative energy and those of us who might agree that we could and should make some changes to the current health care situation, BUT disagree that that the government-administrator route is the answer, need to do something, lest we commit the very sin of silence Lincoln referred to in the quote above. But what?

ONE: Read the legislation posed by Kennedy-Dodd and Sen John McCain’s counter “offer.” You can access all legislation at Govtrack (Click here to reach the search page).
If the bills are too much to grasp–and they are difficult reading–read the synopses that summarize the material. These are located in the navigation box on each bill’s main page.

This goes for all of you–those who side with and against me. I have little tolerance for those who oppose me who tell me things like “the majority of Americans do not have health care!!!!!!” and “people are dying because they don’t have access to health care!” Yet, they don’t even know what is in the bill, nor do they have ACCURATE statistics. Those who are on board with Kennedy and Dodd will be surprised to see just who this health reform helps (hint: People making more than $33,000 per year…not the poor who will continue to be covered by Medicaid and Medicare that will undergo reforms at a later date).

Thomas Jefferson said, “Knowledge is the currency of democracy.” We have evolved into a people that believes government knows best, and a people who would rather learn every detail about Michael Jackson’s rise and fall than the text of a bill before Congress that affects our livelihood and puts our country in increasingly precarious financial straits.

TWO: Pick up the phone and call Senators and tell them that you agree or disagree with Cap and Trade and health Care reform. Tell them if you are happy having the government’s checkbook trillions of dollars in the red.

Court the Moderate senators. I am spending the next couple of days on the phone doing just this. Below is the list of Moderate senators who could go either way on Cap and Trade and Health-Care Reform. I plan to tell them I disagree with both plans, and the out-of-control spending, and I plan to urge them to vote against both bills, and go back to the drawing board.

Moderate DEMOCRATS
Evan Bayh, Indiana(202) 224-5623
Kent Conrad, North Dakota(202) 224-2043
Mary Landrieu, Louisiana(202) 224-5824
Joe Lieberman, Connecticut (Independent, but caucuses as a Democrat)(202) 224-4041
Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas(202) 224-4843
Ben Nelson, Nebraska(202) 224-6551
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania(202) 224-4254
Mark Warner, Virginia(202) 224-2023
Jim Webb, Virginia(202) 224-4024

Moderate REPUBLICANS
Susan Collins, Maine(202) 224-2523
Olympia Snowe, Maine(202) 224-5344
George Voinovich, Ohio(202) 224-3353

Scarecrow or Tin Man?

Dateline Oz: The Wizard of Oz today selected the Tin Man to fill a soon-to-be vacated Supreme Court seat, snubbing the conservative’s choice of the Scarecrow, known for exercising judicial restraint on the bench.

The Tin Man has an impressive record of decisions informed by the empathy of his big heart, most famously when he ruled in favor of the promotion of “the horse of a different color,” invalidating the merit-based promotions of the white stallions because the colored horses weren’t proportionately represented in the promotion process.
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In a little more than a week, we may get a break from the Michael Jackson drama when the headline news will cover the less-than sensational Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomoyer, President Obama’s pick to replace David Souter on the high bench.

Sotomoyer has the experience that Harriet Miers, Geo. W. Bush’s selection to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, lacked. And with that experience is a record of decisions that lends insight into what we might expect from her should she pass the Senate’s oral exam. She was appointed to the federal district court in 1991 by George H.W. Bush, and has been pegged by many as a moderate or bipartisan judge. On any rulings on abortion, she’s upheld current limitations. Her work on the 1994 baseball salary cap issue demonstrates she’s tough on the corporate machine and pro union…even if that union is representing workers who pull in multi-millions. Her recently overturned ruling against the New York firefighters who didn’t get their merit-based promotions because racial quotas weren’t met, indicates she is a supporter of Affirmative Action policies.

More troubling, however, is her own admission that she rules with her heart, rather than her head. In a commencement speech at the University of California at Berkeley she offered, “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

I wonder whether or not she appropriately views justice as blind or rather, as color blind, as any judge should. In that same speech, she said, “I would hope a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor said.

And this idea that empathy has some role in judicial decisions was one of the main reasons informing President Obama’s selection of Sotomoyer. In his May 1 press briefing regarding Souter’s retirement, he said,

” I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.”

He continued,

“I view that quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

Actually, the rule of law dictates that justice IS about legal theory and footnotes, it is about written law and precident, and not about understanding how the people are affected by the law. On the other hand, political and human considerations ARE the job of the executive and legistative branches of government. Congress and the President are accountable to the people; the Supreme Court is not. Plain and simple, they are appointed to uphold the laws that were enacted by the representative government–nothing more. They must cast aside personal ideologies, empathy, and sympathy, in order to enforce the law objectively, rather than subjectively.

The Republicans and Moderates have a chance to put up a good fight in the confirmation hearings, but they will probably take the stance of the Cowardly Lion, talking big in advance, then cowering when they have the chance to throw some effective punches.

Gender Bend

Former First Lady Laura Bush has been involved with a couple of causes, the better known of which was her dedication to improving the nation’s literacy rate. Another is her husband’s initiative to tackle what is known as “Boy Advocacy,” or “Breaking the Boy Code,” the drive to eliminate those outdated notions about masculine behavior that keep boys from achieving their potential, and make them more likely to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, to fail in school, and often beget violence and depression.

According to Laura Bush’s now-inaccessible White House website, “Statistics show that boys are at greater risk than girls for learning disabilities, illiteracy, dropping out of school, substance-abuse problems, violence, juvenile arrest, and early death caused by violent behavior.” Her mission was to combat the problem through intervention and culture change, which she discusses in a National Public Radio interview.

Surprised to hear that Laura Bush worked for this cause? If so, it is probably because it got little press coverage.

On the other hand, since February, I have heard broadcast journalists mention at least ten times that First Lady du jour, Michelle Obama, lists among her important causes, advocacy for women and girls. And that is as far as the story goes…I’ve been digging and digging can’t turn up a lick of mention of just what this advocacy entails, or why it is necessary, whereas I can find plenty on the “boy problem,” including this Business Week article , and a San Francisco Chronicle piece that put the issue in perspective.

What’s my problem with this? Well, for starters, I haven’t heard one bit about just what Mrs. O plans to do to advocate for women and girls. Just soundbites. I cannot help but think that she’s wearing the Girl Power badge because it seems to be the liberal thing to do.

Next, I hate to see good work get started by one administration, only to be abandoned by the next. Third, research shows that overall, girls have an edge in school, are less likely to be medicated for behavioral problems, and are less likely to be depressed. Girls have made great advances in school since the AAUW report How Schools Shortchange Girls raised much needed awareness. This is not to say that I do not believe girls are influenced and harmed by the same sort of erroneous gender prescriptions as harm boys. Many of us recognize the media influence on female behavior, dress, and self image. And that is just my point…many of us realize what is happening to girls.

BUT, boys are overlooked and their behavior and troubles are rarely blamed on institutionalized gender roles. Instead, boys are characterized as “being” rough, rambunctious and wild by nature, rather than nurture. But this must change. George and Laura Bush recognize this. The Obamas need to do the same.

Additional Reading:

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men