VOTE. “NO”vember 4th, 2014 is 13 Days Away. #RallyWomen


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If YOU decide to stay home and NOT vote on “NO”vember 4th, 2014, Then you have no right to complain, bitch or moan. Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.

 

 

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United States Elections, November 4th, 2014

 

Elections in the United States are being held throughout 2014, with the general elections scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested; along with 38 state and territorial governor ships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia), four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races.

 

2014 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election day November 4
Senate elections
Seats contested 33 seats of Class II
and various mid-term vacancies
Color coded map of 2014 Senate races
Map of the 2014 Senate races
Light red: Retiring Republican
Dark red: Incumbent Republican
Light blue: Retiring Democrat
Dark blue: Incumbent Democrat
Gray: no election
House elections
Seats contested All 435 seats to the 114th Congress
Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested 38
Color coded map of 2014 Gubernatorial races
Map of the 2014 gubernatorial races
Light red: Term-limited or Retiring Republican
Dark red: Incumbent Republican
Light blue: Term-limited or Retiring Democrat
Dark blue: Incumbent Democrat
Green: Incumbent Independent
Gray: no election

 

Issues

One election-year dilemma that faces the Democrats is whether or not President Obama should approve the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline. Tom Steyer, and other environmentalists, are committed to making “climate change a top-tier issue” in the elections with opposition to Keystone XL as “a significant part of that effort.”

 

Other issues include the income gap, net neutrality, and the effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”).

 

According to the political commentator Stuart Rothenberg, the foreign policy crises plaguing the Middle East, Ukraine, and Russia are likely to dampen the public’s mood, hurting the Democratic Party’s chances in the federal elections of 2014

 

Federal elections

Congressional elections

 

Senate elections

All seats in Senate Class II will be up for election. Additionally, special elections will be held to fill vacancies in the other two Senate Classes.

 

House of Representatives elections

All 435 voting seats in the United States House of Representatives will be up for election. Additionally, elections will be held to select the delegates for the District of Columbia and four of the five U.S. territories. The only seat in the House not up for election will be the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves a four-year term.

 

On March 11, there was a special election for Florida’s 13th congressional district.

 

State elections

Gubernatorial elections

Elections will be held for the governorships of 36 of the 50 U.S. states and three U.S. territories.

 

 

Local elections

Numerous elections will be held for officeholders in numerous cities, counties, school boards, special districts and others around the country.

 

Mayoral elections

Various major American cities will hold mayoral elections in 2014, including the following:

 

Mid Term Election Day, “NO”vember 4th, 2014, Is 60 Days Away. Are You Ready To VOTE?

 

Thirty states currently have laws in place requiring voters to show identification at the polls, (11 require photo ID,) according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and more look to be on the way.

 

Since the Supreme Court in June 2013, struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which required certain states to get approval from the federal government on any changes made to voting laws, strict photo ID requirements in Mississippi and Texas no longer face roadblocks, and will likely be implemented in the near future. Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia will become photo ID states in 2014. And North Carolina’s newly-signed photo ID requirement will go into effect in 2016.

 

Protect YOUR right to vote. Be prepared. Have The RIGHT ID. Know YOUR States Requirements To Legally Vote.

 

Bet ‘Em With The Ballot Box. 

 

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All The Information You Need About The 2013 Mid Term Elections

 

Mid Term Election Day, “NO”vember 4th, 2014, Is 60 Days Away. Are You Ready To VOTE?

 

Next Battle: The “NO”vember 4th, 2014 Mid-Term Elections.

 

Mid Term Election Day November 4th, 2014…15 Months Away. Get Prepared. Barack That Vote!

 

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House Negro Alert: TAVIS SMILEY: ‘IF YOU’RE BLACK OR BROWN,’ NOT A LOT OF ‘GOOD REASONS’ TO TURN OUT TO VOTE.


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On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” PBS host Tavis Smiley acknowledged the Democratic Party has not given some minority voters the inspiration to turn out to vote in this election cycle.

 

“If you’re black or brown, if you’re — let’s be frank about this — if you’re black or brown other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons that you turn out to vote this time. Now, I’ll catch hell for saying that,” Smiley said.

 

“I’m not suggesting that people ought to stay at home and sit on their hands but what I’m suggesting is neither party has focused clearly on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turnout in 2014,” Smiley added. “And we may say the same thing in 2016.”

 

Steve Harvey Calls Tavis Smiley & Cornel West Uncle Toms For Criticizing Obama

 

 

TAVIS SMILEY: That’s a good point. And I think that issue would probably play better. And a lot of the reasons it might not be the top of the agenda is that Democrats respectfully know that they haven’t even done everything they could have done on this issue.

 

The slogan that it could have been worse is not a winning slogan. And I think the economy is certainly better now that we expected it would have been a couple years ago. I think the president gets some credit for helping put what policies that have turned this economy around slowly.

 

Having said that, there’s been no real fight even by Democrats for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage in this country. That measure can only go so far if you don’t have the record to back that up.

 

There’s a front-page story, George, as you know, in “The New York Times” today. They talk about the black vote is what the Democratic Party is relying upon now to save the Senate. News flash: if you’re relying on the black vote, in a midterm election — and I’m not suggesting that black voters don’t care about this — but if you’re relying on that vote, then I think it’s uninspired because we have double- and triple-digit unemployment in the African American community.

 

And again, if the message is something other than employment and what we’re going to do for you, then what’s the reason to go vote?

 

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SMILEY: But if you’re black or brown, let’s be frank about this. If you’re black or brown, other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons and you turn out the vote this time.

 

Now I’ll catch hell for saying that…

 

No, I am not suggesting — I’m not suggesting that people ought to stay home and sit on their hands. What I’m suggesting is that neither party has focused clearly enough on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turn out in 2014. And we may see the same thing in 2016.

 

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I don’t ever have to say much about Tavis Smiley, his predatory lending scam against HIS OWN BLACK people, the very same Black people he and his partner in stupid, Dr. Cornell West, profess to love, say all that needs to be said. Read from a plethora of reports on his agenda below:

 

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From All Voices:

 

Melissa Harris-Perry compares Tavis Smiley to Tuskegee syphilis study‘s black nurse

 

It is no secret that there has been some very “bad blood” flowing between, on one side, Dr. Harris-Perry, and on the other, Tavis Smiley and Princeton Professor Dr. Cornel West. Indeed, I have written about their ongoing feud in the past. The attention has mainly been focused on Drs. West and Harris-Perry. Today, however, Dr. Harris-Perry exponentially ratcheted up her critique of Smiley by directly comparing his role in the Wells Fargo bank’s now defunct “wealth building” program to nurse Rivers’ function during the TSE.

 

Wells Fargo will pay at least $175 million to settle lawsuits charging that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers in violation of fair-lending laws, the Justice Department announced last September.

 

Wells Fargo is this nation-state’s largest residential home mortgage lender. From 2004 to 2009, the bank allegedly engaged in a pattern of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers. Deputy US Attorney General James Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in over 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

 

Wells Fargo also will pay $50 million in direct down-payment assistance to borrowers in cities most targeted by the bank: Washington, DC; Chicago; Philadelphia; Oakland; San Francisco; New York City; Cleveland; Riverside, Calif.; and Baltimore.

 

The problem Dr. Harris-Perry has with Tavis Smiley involves his contracting with Wells Fargo — for a reported $4 million — to organize and orchestrate putative “wealth building” seminars in black neighborhoods nationwide starting in 2005. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan demurred and called these seminars nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans through Wells Fargo.

 

Since the settlement, however, Richard Prince has reported in his “Journal-isms” column that Smiley has promised to sever all ties with Wells Fargo. Interestingly, until recently Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International (now canceled), and underwrote the annual C-SPAN-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes (now defunct). Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events.

 

“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” Smiley declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he would not say how much. Smiley said his relationship with Wells Fargo was a “package deal.” In return for the company helping to finance his radio show, he went on the road for Wells Fargo.

 

On her show today, Dr. Harris-Perry argued that the seminars only appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth. They were actually just the opposite. By signing up for subprime mortgages they could not afford, foreclosure was the inevitable result. Often the bank would not even try to help the defaulted lenders, nor would it even attempt to re-sell the foreclosed properties. Instead, it let them sit in once “nice” neighborhoods, essentially abandoned. The run-down and abandoned appearance of these homes spread blight throughout their neighborhoods. In many cases, whole neighborhoods were simply destroyed.

 

In the now settled lawsuit filed by Attorney General Madigan, it was charged that from the outset Wells Fargo’s plan for the “seminars” was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

 

Opinion:

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry is essentially calling Tavis Smiley a traitor to his race for his role in Wells Fargo’s “wealth building” scheme in black communities. Her comparison of him to Nurse Eunice Rivers is telling. She knew that the men she was “treating” for syphilis were not being treated at all, but were, in fact, being destroyed by her and the government’s efforts. It is not clear, however, whether Smiley knew beforehand whether Wells Fargo was simply trying to further feather its own substantial nest at the expense of poor black and Hispanic mortgagees. He says he did not know. That, to me, seems incredible. How could such an otherwise astute businessman and media mogul not know, or at least suspect, that something nefarious was going on here?

 

And then there is his relationship with Walmart. The retail giant has been under fire for years for its reprehensible treatment of its employees. Yet Walmart has been a staunch supporter, advertiser and sponsor of many of Smiley’s business ventures.

 

I once wondered why Melissa Harris-Perry has never deigned to have Tavis Smiley or Cornel West on her show. Now I do not have to wonder any more.

 

Thank you All Voices.

 

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From The American Prospect:

 

When the NAACP filed suit against Wells Fargo for allegedly targeting black people regardless of income or credit history or sub-prime loans, the bank became a symbol of how greed and racism contributed to the outsize effect the foreclosure crisis has had on the black community. In court affidavits, former Wells Fargo employees testified that the bank deliberately targeted the sub-prime loans — or “ghetto loans” as they were referred to internally — at “mud people.” In Baltimore, for example, 71 percent of the homes vacated due to foreclosure on a Wells Fargo loan were in black neighborhoods. Wells Fargo was the eighth largest recipient of bailout money — they received $25 billion.

 

Wells Fargo, however, has also long been a sponsor of the State of the Black Union,Tavis Smiley‘s annual black political symposium. Mary Kane reported that Smiley had been hosting “wealth building seminars” in black communities since 2005 — according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the seminars were part of Wells Fargo’s attempt to lure black voters into buying sub-prime loans. One employee was even told she was “too white” to speak at one of the seminars — the company wanted a face nervous black folks buying a home for the first time could trust. A black face. Someone well-known and trustworthy. Someone like Tavis Smiley. Wells Fargo maintains they have done nothing wrong and are fighting the suit.

 

Smiley would also hardly be the first important black political figure to have ties to sub-prime lenders. As Stephanie Mercimer reported for Mother Jones last year,Charles Steele Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference defended sub-prime lenders in the Washington Post last year, Al Sharpton has cut commercials for LoanMax, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition has worked with Compucredit on “job fairs and economic summits,” and the Urban Leage has worked with the Consumer Financial Services Association to conduct “financial literacy seminars.”

 

Following Kane’s article, Richard Prince reported that Smiley was cutting all ties with the bank.

 

“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” Smiley declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he said he did not know how much.

 

I’m not sure how much moving away from Wells Fargo cost Smiley. But if the information in the suits against Wells Fargo are accurate, probably less than the folks who lost their homes because the bank foreclosed on their “ghetto loan.”

 

The revelation of Smiley’s efforts in helping Wells Fargo sell sub-prime loans in the black community is likely to further erode Smiley’s standing among black folks. During the 2008 campaign, Smiley criticized Barack Obama for not attending one of his symposiums, which many felt was somewhat self-serving and unfair. At the time, Smiley said, “Just because Barack Obama is black, doesn’t mean he gets a pass on being held accountable on issues that matter to black people.”

 

Thank you The American Prospect

 

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From Febone 1960.net Blog:

 

Wells Fargo Uses Tavis Smiley For Subprime Loan Trap?

 

 

Did Tavis Smiley help Wells Fargo herd black people into subprime loans? Yes, according to information contained in a lawsuit filed recently by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The suit alleges that Smiley was the hook used to draw in potential customers for subprime mortgages.

 

You might be familiar with the “Wealth Building” seminars that Wells Fargo conducted beginning in the year 2000. Smiley was the headline speaker at these events, held in Baltimore; Chicago; Richmond, Va.; and San Francisco. The seminars were advertised aggressively in black media and aimed directly at black communities. They were a huge success. Often, standing room only audiences would hear Smiley speak about how he mostly disliked banks while strongly urging attendees to invest in real estate as a sound strategy to build wealth.

 

Turns out that keynote may be responsible for many unsophisticated, would-be home buyers being particularly vulnerable to the subprime loan slop Wells Fargo allegedly intended to push toward them:

 

But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the “Wealth Building” seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

Wells’ plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

 

According to a former Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employee, one of these “Wealth Building” seminars held in Maryland was planned for an audience that would be virtually all African American, the suit said. The plan for the seminar was for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage employees to talk about sub-prime mortgages, although they were directed by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to use the term ‘alternative lending’ when marketing these products.” The former employee, who is white, was scheduled to speak at the seminar, but was told by a manager that she was “too white,” and that only black employees could make presentations, the suit said.

 

Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and a recipient of $25 billion in government bailout money, has denied all the charges in the Illinois suit, as well as other allegations of unfair lending. The bank did not respond to requests for comment on the seminars. Smiley, an author and advocate who hosts the late-night talk show, ‘Tavis Smiley,’ and who organizes the State of the Black Union symposiums each year, also declined comment. Source: Suit Alleges Trusted Black Figures Drew Minorities to High Rate Loans, Washington Independent

 

These are extremely serious allegations that will play out in the legal arena. But having worked with Smiley during the last “State of the Black Union,” I do not believe he intentionally set out to hurt black people or poor people in general. That would be like me believing that Wall Street intentionally set out to destroy its own money-making schemes.

 

There are at least two glaring takeaways from this. For Smiley, I’m sure he’s learned the hard way to be much more careful about how people use him and his established goodwill to sell stuff. I am skeptical of all corporations. But the other takeaway is the observation that this white company used a black spokesman to instantly gain trust and credibility where it had done little work on the ground in the black community to EARN it themselves.

 

All of us need to be particularly cautious when any company pushes a black person to sell you something they want you to “feel” good about and not understand.

 

Thank you Febone 1960.net Blog.

 

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From CLUTCHMAGAZINEONLINE:

 

In 2007, the NAACP brought a predatory lending suit against banking giant Wells Fargo — and eventually, 14 others like it, including Citibank and HSBC — for lobbing unfair and discriminatory practices against brown folks. Last year, in the first formal enforcement action and largest consumer-enforcement fine ever imposed by the agency, the Federal Reserve strong-armed the Wells Fargo powers-that-be into paying $85 million in restitution for allegedly steering borrowers—again, of the Black and Latino variety—into high-cost, subprime loans, though they never really admitted any guilt.

 

Then, in the beginning of 2012, the company also agreed to a $175 million settlement in a fair-lending case for saddling the same kind of customers with those cursed and dreaded adjustable-rate loans, forcing them to unknowingly pay more than white borrowers. Between 2004 and 2009, Wells Fargo was showered with accusations and findings that pointed to the active pimping of our communities. It’s not a secret, it’s not classified information. It’s all over the news, corporate press releases and the web.

 

So it stands to reason that, even if he didn’t know anything about their underhanded financial debauchery before, Tavis Smiley could’ve, at the very least, performed a simple keyword search online (“Wells Fargo, African-Americans” works quite nicely) before agreeing to galvanize the masses and lead them into “wealth-building seminars.” Hosted by Wells Fargo for five years until 2009, the events, held in Black communities, were introduced as part of the company’s reparations package following its reign of lending tyranny. Tavis was the face of the effort and lent his celebrity and credibility to get attendees involved in the programs. Incidentally, Wells Fargo also helped to finance his radio show.

 

For leading the lambs to slaughter, he was paid a handsome $4 million. All we got was shafted with what Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called “nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans.” Tavis severed his relationship with Wells Fargo and issued a statement about his involvement, throwing in that closing the deal caused him to lose a great deal of money, but the damage was already done. Before you sign up for any endorsement deal or business partnership, it’s your responsibility to know who you’re working with.

 

So on her show last week, Melissa Harris-Perry took Tavis to task, albeit a little late, comparing him to Nurse Rivers, the woman who infamously led some 600 men into deception about the real purpose of the Tuskegee Experiment with syphilis. (Mmmm…ouch.) One consciously allowed the people under her care to be put through agonizing medical trial, the other rallied the troops to jump over the financial cliff.

 

Now, we already know there’s bad blood between her, Tavis and Dr. West. There’s nothing worse than when a group of highly intelligent, highly influential, highly visible Black folks with a heavy dose of media influence and airtime dedicate their energy to volleying digs back and forth at one another. It’s exhausting for the viewer (namely me) who just wants to know the issues without being sucked into the commentator’s personal vendettas. I love me some Melissa Harris-Perry — this video right here is part of the reason why — but it took a little dirt-digging to come up with this one. Still, Tavis deserved to be called out for his double-dealing. That obligates her to stay squeaky clean, though, because best believe he and Dr. West are going to be on the prowl for the next round of retaliation. Scholars gone wild…even better than Real Housewives.

 

Thank you CLUTCHMAGAZINEONLINE.

 

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West

 

From The Wattree Chronicle:

 

A QUESTION FOR BOTH TAVIS SMILEY AND CORNELL WEST

 

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Mr. Smiley, do you intend to return the Millions of dollars to the people who lost their lifesavings and homes that you reportedly made from herding poor Black people and Hispanics into the Wells Fargo “Ghetto Loan” Scam? And Dr. West, in your learned opinion, what is the appropriate course of action for your friend and associate to take, in accordance with the “prophetic tradition,” of course?

 

A discrimination lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, and several articles, including one seeded on Newsvine entitle, “Tavis Smiley – “Ghetto Loan” Peddler for Wells Fargo,” closely associates PBS talk show host, Tavis Smiley, with the Wells Fargo Bank scam targeting poor and middle-class Black and Hispanic borrowers. The article quotes Kelvin Boston, host of “Moneywise, and Keith Corbett, of the Center for Responsible Lending, as calling Tavis Smiley “the big draw” of the Wells Fargo scam. Specifically, the article states the following:

“Smiley was the keynote speaker, and the big draw, according to Boston [host of “Moneywise”] and Keith Corbett, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who attended two of the seminars. Smiley would charge up the audience — and rattle the Wells Fargo executives in attendance — by launching into a story about how he hated banks, and how they used to refuse to lend him money for his real estate projects in Compton, Calif., and elsewhere… But what appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth was actually just the opposite, according to a little-noticed explanation of the “Wealth Building” seminar strategy, contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

“Wells’ plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.”

 

Subsequent to the law suit, Richard Prince reported in The Washington Independent that Smiley issued a statement indicating that he would sever all ties with Wells Fargo until charges that the company steered minorities into higher-rate loans are resolved. The article went on to say,

 

“Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes. Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events, he told Journal-isms.

 

‘“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,’ Smiley declared. He said the move cost ‘a lot of money’; he said he did not know how much.”

 

On July 12, 2012 Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $175 million to settle the discrimination suit which, according to the Department of Justice, targeted over 30,000 Black and Hispanic borrowers for subprime loans with a higher interest rate than for similarly situated White borrowers between 2004 and 2009.

 

State Of The Black Union

 

What makes it particularly ironic that Tavis Smiley would be associated with this scheme to target poor and middle-class minorities is that Smiley is the primary promoter of what he calls “The Poverty Tour,” along with his friend and associate, former Princeton professor, Cornel West. During the tour, on their joint radio talk show, and on numerous media appearances, Smiley and West have gained a reputation for being President Obama’s harshest critics, indicating that the president is not sufficiently focused, and “accountable,” to the nation’s poor and minority community.

 

In a statement by Wells Fargo put out after the bank agreed to a settlement of $175 Million, they said that while not admitting to any wrong doing, Wells Fargo agreed to a settlement of the law suit because the bank felt that it was the right thing to do.

 

CNNMONEY quoted Mike Held, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, as saying, “Wells Fargo is settling this matter because we believe it is in the best interest of our team members, customers, communities and investors to avoid a long and costly legal fight, and to instead devote our resources to continuing to contribute to the country’s housing recovery.”

 

The settlement includes Wells Fargo paying the Black and Hispanic victims of discrimination $125 million in compensation, and an additional $50 million in down-payment assistance to borrowers in the affected communities.

 

So the question that remains is, if Wells Fargo Bank feels that paying compensating to the poor and middle-class victims of this scam is the right thing to do, shouldn’t Tavis Smiley, the most strident advocate of “accountability” and fervent crusader for the interest of the poor, feel obliged to do the same? Certainly, benefiting from the misery of the poor and minority community would run counter to Mr. Smiley’s zeal for the need of the powerful to maintain accountability.

 

We’d also like to put that question to Smiley’s friend and associate, Dr. Cornel West. What do you think your good friend and associate should do, Dr. West? What does the “prophetic tradition” dictate is the proper course of action?

 

We’ll be anxiously awaiting your response.

 

Thank you The Wattree Chronicle.

 

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Fmr Wells Fargo Subprime Loan Officer: Bank Targeted Black Churches for Subprime Loans 1/3

 

Uploaded on Aug 28, 2009

Up until two years ago, Elizabeth Jacobson was the top producing loan officer in the subprime division at Wells Fargo. Today she is speaking out against the practices of her former company. Earlier this summer, she filed a sworn affidavit with a federal court in support of the city of Baltimores lawsuit against Wells Fargo for pushing high-interest, subprime loans onto African Americans in Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs, leading hundreds into foreclosure.

 

 

 

Subprime loans target black churches, at taxpayers expense!!!-2/3

 

 

 

Subprime loans target black churches, at taxpayers expense!!!-3/3

 

 

 

ALL OF THIS WAS GOING ON WHILE CORNEL WEST WAS SAYING THE FOLLOWING ABOUT OBAMA (NOTICE THE WELLS FARGO LOGO):

 

Cornell West on Barack Obama

 

Uploaded on Feb 10, 2007

Princeton professor not pleased about Obama’s snub of Covenant With Black America conference

 

 

 

Cornel West: Obama is ‘Republican in Blackface’

 

 

 

Cornel West Introduces Barack Obama

 

Uploaded on Nov 30, 2007

Cornel West Introduces Barack Obama at the Apollo Theater, Nov. 29, 2007

 

 

 

As evidenced by the above videos, The Dr. Cornell West loved Barack Hussein Obama’s dirty boxers until he imagined Barack snubbed Cornell’s  Covenant With Black America conference. The dislike Cornell has comes from this petty bullshit. Not to mention Barack’s social secretary made the mistake of ignoring a request from Cornell for additional 2009 inauguration tickets…thus was born Dr. Cornell West’s “issues with Barack.”

 

The moronic Tavis Smiley had Barack on his PBS TV show….

 

Barack Obama on Tavis Smiley

 

Uploaded on Oct 20, 2007

Obama 2012: Are you in? http://my.barackobama.com/tavis3vid

Tavis Smiley interviews Barack on October 18, 2007.

 

 

 

The “story” of the split between Barack & Tavis is said to be born from Barack not accepting an invite to a Tavis function shortly after Barack took the Oath Of Office. Barack had a previous commitment and sent 1st Lady Michelle in his place. That made Tavis very unhappy with Barack. Now personally I’d take Michelle over Barack any day…

 

Can you say petty ass Black folks?

 

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From Deadline.com:

Documentary Banned By St. Louis Theater Heads To VOD Amid Racial Tension

 

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Talk about timing. Spanish Lake, the racially-charged documentary banned from St. Louis’ Wehrenberg theaters in the aftermath of the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson — known by the locals now as Ferghanistan — is now heading to VOD. The film couldn’t have come at a worse or better time (depending on your perspective). It chronicles the white flight out of Spanish Lake, a city only a few miles from the center of where the rioting and protests are taking place. The filmmaker’s father still lives in Ferguson which is on the verge of receiving more news about the white police officer involved in the shooting and whether or not he will be acquitted. Walmart today started to remove ammunition from its shelves in the hotbed area in light of that fact and after yet another police officer involved shooting.

 

SPANISH LAKE – Race, Class and White Flight in Missouri Documentary

 

Published on Sep 5, 2014

SPANISH LAKE, the new documentary on white flight, economics, race and class in Missouri is shared by documentary filmmakers Philip Andrew Morton and Matt Smith. In the wake of the Ferguson police shooting and protests, this documentary is particularly relevant to America and the ongoing discussion in the media and society, and the insights we get about the film with the trailer and film clips contribute to an illuminating edition of the world’s only talk show on documentary films, BYOD.

 

 

SPANISH LAKE is a bold and uncompromising documentary focused on economic oppression in the suburb of Spanish Lake, Missouri. Operating without a local government, the lack of community leadership has disastrous effects, including a mass exodus of the white population in the late 1990’s. The themes of the film parallel America’s growing political divide, underlying racism, and rise of anti-government sentiment. Most notably, the recent shooting of 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson – only 8 miles away from Spanish Lake… In fact, the unrest in Ferguson caused the film to be banned by Wehrenberg Theaters in North St. Louis County, citing fear of the daily protests. AMC, in turn, also banned the film.

 

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Related: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis Police Officer Under Investigation Following Call To Protester’s Employer.

 

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The White House Blog

 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Our Response to Ebola Right Now

 

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press after a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government's Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press after a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

Chart of the Week: The Deficit Falls to Its Lowest Level Since 2007

 

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What You Missed: The First Lady Answers Your Questions on Let’s Move! and the White House Garden

 

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garden to Table: The Fall White House Kitchen Garden Harvest

 

October is National Farm to School Month, and in celebration of the incredible farm to school programs across the country, the First Lady invited students from schools in California, Arizona, and Ohio to participate in the fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden. Each of their schools incorporate fresh, local food into their meals and teach students about healthy eating through hands-on experience in their own school gardens as well as nutrition education in the classroom.

 

In addition, three chefs paired with three of this year’s Kids’ State Dinner winners as part of the Kids and Chefs Cook for Success collaboration also joined the fall harvest. Through the collaboration, all 54 winners of this year’s Kids’ State Dinner have been paired up with chefs in their communities to host free and healthy cooking demonstrations, reaching kids and families across the country.

 

All of the participants joined the First Lady in harvesting a variety of vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden. Following their time in the garden, each chef worked with a Kids’ State Dinner winner and a team of students to prepare a delicious and nutritious fall-inspired meal with the produce harvested.

 

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Find all of the recipes on the Let’s Move! blog and try them out at home!

 

In Case You Missed It: Vine Q&A with the First Lady

As part of the fall harvest, the First Lady participated in her first-ever Vine and Twitter Q&A to answer questions about Let’s Move!. During the chat, Mrs. Obama talked about tips for eating healthy and being active, the White House bees, her favorite fall vegetable, and a turnip that you don’t want to miss!

 

Check out the full Q&A and follow Let’s Move! and the First Lady on Twitter for the latest updates and more opportunities to engage with Mrs. Obama and Let’s Move!.

 

Let’s Move! Active Schools Reaches 10,000 Schools

Last year, the First Lady launched Let’s Move! Active Schools to reintegrate physical activity before, during, and after the school day to ensure 60 minutes of physical activity each day is the new norm for schools. Last week, Let’s Move! Active Schools announced the milestone of reaching over 10,000 schools across 50 states and impacting more than 5 million students!

 

Join the movement today and become a school champion! Sign your school up at www.letsmoveschools.org.

 

Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Goes Nationwide

Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties helps local elected officials develop long-term, sustainable and holistic strategies to promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity in their communities. Last week, Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties announcedthat more than 450 cities, towns and counties are now participating in the initiative, including all fifty states, which impacts almost 70 million Americans.

 

With national participation in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, sustainable strategies are being implemented in every state, and as Let’s Move! expands to more cities, towns and counties across the country, we ensure healthy communities and healthy futures for all of America.

 

Blog Highlights

This week is National School Lunch Week, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting school champions and districts working hard, coming up with innovative solutions to provide healthy meals that students enjoy. Check out the Let’s Move! blog for more great success stories from schools across the country.

 

Variety and Consistency are the Pillars to CentroNía’s “Eat Healthy, Live Healthy” Program
CentroNía is dedicated to providing healthy options to their students by cooking meals and preparing snacks that incorporate whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, more vegetarian proteins and local produce. They have been creative in coming up with a variety of new meals the students enjoy and consistent in offering healthy options. Thanks to their hard work, they have seen the positive impact of the students consuming healthier meals.

 

Farm-to-School and School Nutrition Programs: Dedicated to Serving Healthy Fresh Food
In Delaware, schools participate in farm to school programs to provide fresh, local produce to students in school meals. They also hold taste tests to introduce students to new vegetables and get their input on the taste and preparation. Through their work with local farms, students get access to nutritious foods, and the purchasing of local food supports the local economy as well.

 

For the full recap of recent activities and to get involved, visit the Let’s Move! blog, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

 

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What You Need to Know: Our Push To Get Long-Term Unemployed Americans Back to Work

 

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The Department of Defense Must Plan for the National Security Implications of Climate Change

 

President Obama Joins International Military Leaders to Discuss Coalition Efforts Against ISIL

 

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It's Raining Videos™

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The President Meets on the U.S. Response to Ebola

 

 

 

WATCH: Iowa Police Force Pregnant Woman In Labor To Ground At GunPoint

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Pregnant Iowa woman in labor forced to ground at gunpoint by cops for speeding on way to hospital.
(NYDailyNews) Rachel Kohnen and her husband, Ben Kohnen, were rushing to the hospital in time to have their fourth child on Tuesday morning. Cops used tire spikes to stop the car and ordered the couple to the ground after they refused to pull over.

A pregnant woman was held at gunpoint on her way to the hospital after she and her husband refused to pull over their speeding car Tuesday in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

 

Rachel and Ben Kohnen sped to the hospital at about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning as Rachel Kohnen was in labor. They drove at 85 mph in a 55 mph zone, police said.

 

The Kohnens did not stop the car after an officer pursued them, Manson Police Chief Tom Ritts told the Daily News. The officer called for backup, and police laid tire spikes on the road to stop them.

 

Ben Kohnen told NBC13 the spikes blew out all four tires and forced them to come to a halt. The couple was ordered to the ground and held at gunpoint until officers realized what all the rush was about.

 

Rachel Kohnen gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, a nearly-10-pound baby named Hazel, about an hour after police escorted her to the hospital.
Rachel Kohnen said they could not stop the car because the baby was on its way quickly.

 

“I think I was screaming, ‘Oh, dear God, we can’t have the baby in the car,” the mother told NBC13.

 

The couple tried to call 911 to alert them, but the dispatcher could not understand them, Ritts said.

 

“She was in so much pain,” he said. “They couldn’t make heads or tails out of what she was saying.”
The police chief said the officer did not know why the car would not stop and followed typical protocol for a high speed chase.

 

“Normally when you get somebody clocked like that and they fail to pull over, the first thought in my mind is we’ve got somebody drunk or on drugs,” Ritts said.

 

No charges have been filed against the couple at this time, Ritts said.

 

Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage

 

 

Remember the long gone days when if you were speeding to get your pregnant wife/girlfriend to the ER for delivery, the cops would escort you with sirens & lights blazing/flashing? Today you get your tires blown. My thought is, if you blow the tires of a car speeding to the ER, with a pregnant wife/girlfriend for delivery, you put everyone in that car at risk/danger to roll over and crash. In this case, mother to be, father to be AND unborn baby. Good use of common sense & logic Iowa cops.

 

 

The Black Panthers Party Founded in October 1966

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

Eddie Conway, Baltimore Black Panther describes the political and social conditions that gave rise to the militancy and politics of the Black Panthers Party.

 

 

 

Umar Lee St. Charles County Announcement

 

 

 

Activist confronts Cop trying to intimidate her

 

Published on Oct 15, 2014

A Saint Louis community officer calls the employer of a local activist @stacksizshort in an attempt to intimidate and cause her to lose her job.

 

 

 

CDC Director: No Symptoms Before Nurse’s Flight

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

CDC Director Tom Frieden was grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday on wide-ranging topics related to the agency’s management of Ebola, including giving a Dallas nurse permission to fly to Cleveland. (Oct. 16)

 

 

I’m not even going to call this idiot a lying muthafucka, even though he is a lying muthafucka. If this nurse called the CDC and said she had a fever, why would the CDC give her an all clear to travel without examining her? Think about it, she boarded a plane, with a fever, and other passengers. Dumbfuckery.

 

 

Supreme Court Lets Abortion Clinics Reopen, Easing Crisis of Access in Texas

 

 

 

‘Why Not A Military Coup?’ asks Right Wing Government Official

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan finds nothing wrong with her Facebook posts that have been brought to nationwide attention asking the military why they don’t just overthrow President Obama in a coup.

 

 

 

Gay USA 10/15/14

 

 

 

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The Last 24™


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Federal Judge Richard Posner poses in his Chambers in ChicagoBz7HyE_IYAEaMzJ

JUDGE RICHARD POSNER, Reagan-Appointed Federal Judge, Writes Dissent Against Wisconsin Voter ID.

 

From Talking Points Memo:

9 Scathing Quotes From Judge Posner’s Dissent Against WI Voter ID

 

By 

 

Posner dissented against the decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals not to hold a full court re-hearing of a three-judge panel’s ruling authorizing implementation of the Badger State‘s voter ID law. Posner clearly regrets his previous position on voter ID, writing in a new book that he now pleads “guilty” to writing a majority opinion “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” (The Supreme Court temporarily put enforcement of the law on hold for the midterm elections.)

 

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Here are the most scathing quotes from Posner’s opinion.

 

—”Some of the ‘evidence’ of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid, such as the nonexistent buses that according to the ‘True the Vote‘ movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places.”

 

—”Even Fox News, whose passion for conservative causes has never been questioned, acknowledges that ‘Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud.'” [Link included in the original.]

 

—”As there is no evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?”

 

—”There is no evidence that Wisconsin’s voter rolls are inflated — as were Indiana’s — and there is compelling evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is essentially nonexistent in Wisconsin.”

 

—”The panel opinion states that requiring a photo ID might at least prevent persons who ‘are too young or are not citizens’ from voting. Not so. State-issued IDs are available to noncitizens … — all that’s required is proof of ‘legal presence in the United States[.]‘

 

—”This implies that the net effect of such requirements is to impede voting by people easily discouraged from voting, most of whom probably lean Democratic.”

 

—”The panel opinion does not discuss the cost of obtaining a photo ID. It assumes the cost is negligible. That’s an easy assumption for federal judges to make, since we are given photo IDs by court security free of charge. And we have upper-middle-class salaries. Not everyone is so fortunate.”

 

—”There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”

 

—”The authors’ overall assessment is that ‘voter ID laws don’t disenfranchise minorities or reduce minority voting, and in many instances enhance it’ [emphasis added]. In other words, the authors believe that the net effect of these laws is to increase minority voting. Yet if that is true, the opposition to these laws by liberal groups is senseless. If photo ID laws increase minority voting, liberals should rejoice in the laws and conservatives deplore them. Yet it is conservatives who support them and liberals who oppose them. Unless conservatives and liberals are masochists, promoting laws that hurt them, these laws must suppress minority voting and the question then becomes whether there are offsetting social benefits—the evidence is that there are not.”

 

Read the complete Dissent written by Judge Richard Posner,

 

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From The Brad Blog:

 

Reagan-Appointed Federal Judge Who Approved First Photo ID Law in 2008 Writes Devastating Dissent AGAINST Photo ID Voting Restrictions

 

Judge Richard Posner: ‘If the WI legislature says witches are a problem, shall WI courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?’

 

By BRAD FRIEDMAN

 

This article now cross-published by Salon

 

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If you read just one top-to-bottom dismantling of every supposed premise in support of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions laws in your lifetime, let it be this one [PDF]!

 

It is a dissent, released on Friday, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was the one who approved the first such Photo ID law in the country (Indiana’s) back in 2008, in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Posner’s ruling was affirmed.

 

If there was ever evidence that a jurist could change their mind upon review of additional subsequent evidence, this is it. If there was ever a concise and airtight case made against Photo ID laws and the threat they pose to our most basic right to vote, this is it. If there was ever a treatise revealing such laws for the blatantly partisan shell games that they are, this is it.

 

His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

 

Posner is, by far, the most widely cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according toThe Journal of Legal Studies. His opinions are closely read by the Supreme Court, where the battle over the legality and Constitutionality of Photo ID voting laws will almost certainly wind up at some point in the not too distant future. That’s just one of the reasons why this opinion is so important.

 

This opinion, written on behalf of five judges on the 7th Circuit, thoroughly disabuses such notions such as: these laws are meant to deal with a phantom voter fraud concern (“Out of 146 million registered voters, this is a ratio of one case of voter fraud for every 14.6 million eligible voters”); that evidence shows them to be little more than baldly partisan attempts to keep Democratic voters from voting (“conservative states try to make it difficult for people who are outside the mainstream…to vote”); that rightwing partisan outfits like True the Vote, which support such laws, present “evidence” of impersonation fraud that is “downright goofy, if not paranoid”; and the notion that even though there is virtually zero fraud that could even possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, the fact that the publicthinks there is, is a lousy reason to disenfranchise voters since there is no evidence that such laws actually increase public confidence in elections and, as new studies now reveal, such laws have indeed served to suppress turnout in states where they have been enacted.

 

There is far too much in it to appropriately encapsulate here for now. Ya just really need to take some time to read it in full. But it was written, largely, in response to the Appellate Court ruling last week by rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook which contained one embarrassing falsehood and error after another, including the canards about Photo ID being required to board airplanes, open bank accounts, buy beer and guns, etc. We took apart just that one paragraph of Easterbrook’s ruling last week here, but Posner takes apart his colleague’s entire, error-riddled mess of a ruling in this response.

 

Amongst my favorite passages (and there are so many), this one [emphasis added]…

The panel is not troubled by the absence of evidence. It deems the supposed beneficial effect of photo ID requirements on public confidence in the electoral system “‘a legislative fact’-a proposition about the state of the world,” and asserts that “on matters of legislative fact, courts accept the findings of legislatures and judges of the lower courts must accept findings by the Supreme Court.” In so saying, the panel conjures up a fact-free cocoon in which to lodge the federal judiciary. As there is no evidence that voter impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials? If the Supreme Court once thought that requiring photo identification increases public confidence in elections, and experience and academic study since shows that the Court was mistaken, do we do a favor to the Court-do we increase public confidence in elections-by making the mistake a premise of our decision? Pressed to its logical extreme the panel’s interpretation of and deference to legislative facts would require upholding a photo ID voter law even if it were uncontested that the law eliminated no fraud but did depress turnout significantly.

And this one…

There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.

And remember, once again, this is written by Richard Posner, the conservative Republican icon of a federal appellate court judge — the judge who wrote the opinion on behalf of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals approving of the first such Photo ID law in the country in 2008, the very case that rightwingers from Texas to Wisconsin now cite over and over (almost always incorrectly) in support of similar such laws — now, clearly admitting that he got the entire thing wrong.

 

One last point (for now): Our legal analyst Ernie Canning, who (along with me) will undoubtedly have much more to say on this dissent in upcoming days, suggests we award The BRAD BLOG’s almost-never-anymore-bestowed Intellectually Honest Conservative Award to Judge Posner. And so it shall be.

 

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Thank you BRAD FRIEDMAN & The Brad Blog

 

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From Associated Press:

 

Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud

 

Several states adopted new laws last year requiring that people show a photo ID when they come to vote even though the kind of election fraud that the laws are intended to stamp out is rare.

 

Even supporters of the new laws are hard pressed to come up with large numbers of cases in which someone tried to vote under a false identify.

 

“I’ve compared this to the snake oil salesman. You got a cold? I got snake oil. Your foot aches? I got snake oil,” said election law expert Justin Levitt, who wrote “The Truth About Voter Fraud” for The Brennan Center for Justice. “It doesn’t seem to matter what the problem is, (voter) ID is being sold as the solution to a whole bunch of things it can’t possibly solve.”

 

Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have passed laws this year that allow voters without the required photo ID to cast provisional ballots, but the voters must return to a specific location with that ID within a certain time limit for their ballots to count.

 

Indiana and Georgia already had such laws. Other states have photo ID laws too, but provide different way to verify a voter’s identity without a photo ID. Texas and South Carolina are awaiting approval for their laws from the Justice Department because of those are among that states with a history of voting rights suppression and discrimination.

 

Indiana’s law, passed in 2005, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. Levitt combed through 250 cases of alleged election law fraud cited in legal briefs filed in that challenge. He found only nine instances involving a person allegedly voting in someone else’s name, possibly fraudulently or possibly because of an error when the person signed in at the voting booth.

 

“They identified a lot of fraud, but very, very, very, very, very, very little of it could be prevented by identification at the polls,” Levitt said.

 

The remainder involved vote buying, ballot-box stuffing, problems with absentee ballots, or ex-convicts voting even though laws bar them from doing so. Over the same seven-year time period covered by the cases Levitt reviewed, 400 million votes were cast in general elections.

 

“If there was evidence of this, we’d know about it,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters. Her organization, which has affiliates in every state, knows voter registrars, attends election meetings, observes and works at polls and is intimately aware of how the election system works.

 

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, said one reason there is scant evidence of voter fraud is no one checks ID at the polls. He cited a mid-1980s grand jury report that described how, over a 14-year period, “crews” were recruited in Brooklyn, N.Y., to vote multiple times in multiple elections at various polling places, using the names of real voters, dead voters, voters who had moved away and fictitious voters.

 

“Nobody’s saying its large scale,” but such fraud could make a difference in close races, said von Spakovsky, who led the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President George W. Bush.

 

“It is something that happens in an instant and then it’s gone,” Republican Rep. Todd Rokita, who spent eight years as Indiana’s secretary of state, testified during a recent Senate hearing. “Witnesses dissipate. These are volunteer poll workers. It’s not a domestic violence case. It’s not something that leaves visible scars or bruises. It’s the kind of case that is very hard to prosecute. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

 

The laws and other voting restrictions have riled civil rights leaders and voter protection groups. Some groups say the new state laws are the equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests that effectively kept minorities out of voting booths.

 

They argue that blacks, Hispanics, senior citizens, people with disabilities and the poor are more likely to lack the required photo ID. But they also contend others could be disenfranchised: voters who fail to bring ID with them; students whose school IDs are deemed unacceptable; people whose drivers’ licenses have expired; women whose driver’s licenses do not reflect their married names or new addresses.

 

“We basically see these voter ID restriction laws as a solution without a problem,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, a civil rights group.

 

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott, a Republican, launched an investigation in 2005 to uncover what he called an “epidemic” of voter fraud. But reviews of Abbott’s investigation two years later yielded no cases of voter impersonation fraud. A Dallas Morning News review in 2008 found the 26 cases prosecuted were all against Democrats, most involved blacks and Hispanics, and typically involved people who helped elderly voters with mail-in ballots, but failed to follow state law by signing their names and addresses on the envelopes.

 

Abbot’s investigation was paid for with a $1.4 million Justice Department crime-fighting grant.

 

After a five-year hunt for voter fraud, the Bush administration’s Justice Department came up with little widespread fraud, finding mostly cases of people mistakenly filling out voter registration forms or voting when they didn’t know they were ineligible, The New York Times reported in 2007. But none of the cases involved a person voting as someone else.

 

Lorraine Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” spent years researching voter fraud after finding that pushes for election reform often raised concerns that the proposed changes could lead to more voter fraud.

 

Her research turned up one case of voter impersonation from 2000 to 2005: A New Hampshire teenager who cast a ballot as his father, who shared the same name. Minnite said she concluded “the whole problem is way overblown” largely for political reasons.

 

Asked by The Associated Press for examples of unprosecuted cases, Rokita’s office pointed to suspicious or poorly filled out voter registration cards submitted in 2008 by the now-defunct community activist group ACORN. Rokita’s spokesman Timothy Edson said the Indiana photo ID law prevented people from fraudulently voting under those registration cards.

 

But Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who led the hearing where Rokita testified and opposes the photo requirement, insisted such fraud should be prosecuted if it is happening frequently enough to warrant the new laws.

 

“There ought to be a clear example to the people of this country we just won’t stand for this wherever it might occur,” Durbin said.

 

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J.C. Penney Gets Its First Black CEO In 112-Year History

 

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Marvin Ellison was executive vice president of stores at Home Depot and spent years at Target prior to that. There are currently just six black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies.

 

From Associated Press:

J.C. Penney’s newly tapped CEO has a big challenge ahead of him: The troubled chain is showing signs of improvement after racking up billions in losses, but still hasn’t figured out how to get shoppers back into its department stores.

 

Penney said Monday that Marvin Ellison, a 30-year retail veteran and executive vice president of stores at Home Depot, will become its CEO next August. Ellison will be the first black CEO in the company’s 112-year history.

 

Ellison succeeds Mike Ullman, a former Penney CEO who came out of retirement last year to take the helm again. His mission was to stabilize the business following the ouster of Ron Johnson, a former Apple executive who tried unsuccessfully to reinvent the beleaguered chain by getting rid of sales and some basic merchandise. That led to billions in losses of profit and sales.

 

The company’s profit losses — which have amounted to a total of $3.16 billion in 11 of the last 12 quarters — have slowed significantly under Ullman’s leadership. But the company is still in the red, and analysts say Ellison’s challenge will be to fix the fundamental problems that caused Penney to lose customers in the first place.

 

They say the retailer doesn’t have merchandise that sets it apart from rivals like Macy’s and H&M. Its stores are drab and unexciting. And its web site doesn’t offer the selection and services that shoppers like.

 

“While bringing in a credible new CEO has some benefits, J.C. Penney’s customers are leaving the store,” said Michael Binetti, an analyst at UBS in a note to clients Monday.

 

THE TRANSITION

Penney is looking to Ellison, 49, to help right the ship. Ellison spent 12 years with Home Depot and before that, 15 years at Target. He has expertise in store operations and logistics, but lacks experience in fashion.

 

Ellison, who also will join Penney’s board, will become president in November, before taking the CEO title next year. At that time, Mike Ullman will become executive chairman of the board, serving for a year.

 

It’s rare for a management transition to last that long, but Walter Loeb, a New York-based retail consultant, said the time is needed. “I think (Ellison) is an excellent leader … but he needs time to learn the fashion business,” he said.

 

Ullman said in a statement that he looks forward to working closely with Ellison and the rest of the team in the coming months to ensure a “smooth transition and a successful future for J.C. Penney.”

 

Penney said Ullman and Ellison weren’t available for interviews on Monday.

 

WHAT WENT WRONG

Ullman was CEO for seven years before Johnson was brought in to modernize the stores. But customers didn’t like Johnson’s changes, and Johnson left after 17 months. Ullman, who was brought back in April 2013, began restoring sales and basic merchandise that the company ditched under Johnson’s tenure.

 

Under Ullman, Penney has recorded three straight quarters of increases in sales at established stores. Still, those increases haven’t outweighed last year’s drastic declines.

 

In the latest fiscal year that ended Feb. 1, Penney recorded a loss of $1.39 billion, while revenue dropped 8.7 percent to $11.86 billion. And last week, Penney warned that its sales at stores open at least a year last month were weaker than expected. It also cut its outlook for sales at established stores for the current quarter.

 

FIXING THE PROBLEM

The CEO announcement comes after Penney last week unveiled a strategy that it said would boost sales by $2.55 billion over next three years. It entails improving the productivity of its stores’ home department, expanding e-commerce and sprucing up areas like jewelry, shoes and handbags.

 

Penney sees the opportunity for an additional $1 billion in sales from continued market-share growth. That would bring the chain’s annual revenue to $14.5 billion by fiscal 2017. Still, that’s well below the $17.3 billion it generated before sales went into a freefall under Johnson.

 

The company also has focused on cutting costs. Earlier this year, it cut 2,000 jobs and shuttered 33 stores. But the company didn’t announce any more store closures last week as analysts had expected.

 

On news of the CEO appointment, J.C. Penney’s shares closed up 3 cents, or less than a percent, to $7.09, on Monday. That’s after having risen more than 3 percent earlier in the day.

 

J.C. Penney shares have lost more than 80 percent of their value since early 2012 when investor enthusiasm was high over Johnson’s turnaround strategy.

 

This undated photo provided by Home Depot Inc. shows Marvin Ellison, the company's executive vice president of stores. J.C. Penney on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 said that Ellison will become its president in November and CEO next August. (AP Photo/Home Depot Inc.)

This undated photo provided by Home Depot Inc. shows Marvin Ellison, the company’s executive vice president of stores. J.C. Penney on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 said that Ellison will become its president in November and CEO next August. (AP Photo/Home Depot Inc.)

 

Thank you Associated Press.

 

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The Twitter Storm™

The Twitter Storm™

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Racism does not exist...so says the UnSupreme Court.

Racism does not exist…so says the UnSupreme Court.

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Rolling Stone: In Defense of Obama.


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The Nobel Prize-winning economist, once one of the president’s most notable critics, on why Obama is a historic success

By | October 8, 2014 For Rolling Stone Magazine

 

When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

 

And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.

 

But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn’t deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

I’ll go through those achievements shortly. First, however, let’s take a moment to talk about the current wave of Obama-bashing. All Obama-bashing can be divided into three types. One, a constant of his time in office, is the onslaught from the right, which has never stopped portraying him as an Islamic atheist Marxist Kenyan. Nothing has changed on that front, and nothing will.

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There’s a different story on the left, where you now find a significant number of critics decrying Obama as, to quote Cornel West, someone who ”posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit.” They’re outraged that Wall Street hasn’t been punished, that income inequality remains so high, that ”neoliberal” economic policies are still in place. All of this seems to rest on the belief that if only Obama had put his eloquence behind a radical economic agenda, he could somehow have gotten that agenda past all the political barriers that have con- strained even his much more modest efforts. It’s hard to take such claims seriously.

Finally, there’s the constant belittling of Obama from mainstream pundits and talking heads. Turn on cable news (although I wouldn’t advise it) and you’ll hear endless talk about a rudderless, stalled administration, maybe even about a failed presidency. Such talk is often buttressed by polls showing that Obama does, indeed, have an approval rating that is very low by historical standards.

But this bashing is misguided even in its own terms – and in any case, it’s focused on the wrong thing.

Yes, Obama has a low approval rating compared with earlier presidents. But there are a number of reasons to believe that presidential approval doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on. Obviously the midterm election hasn’t happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage – Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states – most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn’t what you’d expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.

More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.

 

HEALTH CARE

When Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, an excited Joe Biden whispered audibly, ”This is a big fucking deal!” He was right.

 

The enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, has been a perils-of-Pauline experience. When an upset in the special election to replace Ted Kennedy cost Democrats their 60-vote Senate majority, health reform had to be rescued with fancy legislative footwork. Then it survived a Supreme Court challenge only thanks to a surprise display of conscience by John Roberts, who nonetheless opened a loophole that has allowed Republican-controlled states to deny coverage to millions of Americans. Then technical difficulties with the HealthCare.gov website seemed to threaten disaster. But here we are, most of the way through the first full year of reform’s implementation, and it’s working better than even the optimists expected.

We won’t have the full data on 2014 until next year’s census report, but multiple independent surveys show a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, probably around 10 million, a number certain to grow greatly over the next two years as more people realize that the program is available and penalties for failure to sign up increase.

It’s true that the Affordable Care Act will still leave millions of people in America uninsured. For one thing, it was never intended to cover undocumented immigrants, who are counted in standard measures of the uninsured. Furthermore, millions of low-income Americans will slip into the loophole Roberts created: They were supposed to be covered by a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, but some states are blocking that expansion out of sheer spite. Finally, unlike Social Security and Medicare, for which almost everyone is automatically eligible, Obamacare requires beneficiaries to prove their eligibility for Medicaid or choose and then pay for a subsidized private plan. Inevitably, some people will fall through the cracks.

Still, Obamacare means a huge improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans – not just better care, but greater financial security. And even those who were already insured have gained both security and freedom, because they now have a guarantee of coverage if they lose or change jobs.

What about the costs? Here, too, the news is better than anyone expected. In 2014, premiums on the insurance policies offered through the Obamacare exchanges were well below those originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office, and the available data indicates a mix of modest increases and actual reductions for 2015 – which is very good in a sector where premiums normally increase five percent or more each year. More broadly, overall health spending has slowed substantially, with the cost-control features of the ACA probably deserving some of the credit.

In other words, health reform is looking like a major policy success story. It’s a program that is coming in ahead of schedule – and below budget – costing less, and doing more to reduce overall health costs than even its supporters predicted.

Of course, this success story makes nonsense of right-wing predictions of catastrophe. Beyond that, the good news on health costs refutes conservative orthodoxy. It’s a fixed idea on the right, sometimes echoed by ”centrist” commentators, that the only way to limit health costs is to dismantle guarantees of adequate care – for example, that the only way to control Medicare costs is to replace Medicare as we know it, a program that covers major medical expenditures, with vouchers that may or may not be enough to buy adequate insurance. But what we’re actually seeing is what looks like significant cost control via a laundry list of small changes to how we pay for care, with the basic guarantee of adequate coverage not only intact but widened to include Americans of all ages.

It’s worth pointing out that some criticisms of Obamacare from the left are also looking foolish. Obamacare is a system partly run through private insurance companies (although expansion of Medicaid is also a very important piece). And some on the left were outraged, arguing that the program would do more to raise profits in the medical-industrial complex than it would to protect American families.

You can still argue that single-payer would have covered more people at lower cost – in fact, I would. But that option wasn’t on the table; only a system that appeased insurers and reassured the public that not too much would change was politically feasible. And it’s working reasonably well: Competition among insurers who can no longer deny insurance to those who need it most is turning out to be pretty effective. This isn’t the health care system you would have designed from scratch, or if you could ignore special-interest politics, but it’s doing the job.

And this big improvement in American society is almost surely here to stay. The conservative health care nightmare – the one that led Republicans to go all-out against Bill Clinton’s health plans in 1993 and Obamacare more recently – is that once health care for everyone, or almost everyone, has been put in place, it will be very hard to undo, because too many voters would have a stake in the system. That’s exactly what is happening. Republicans are still going through the motions of attacking Obamacare, but the passion is gone. They’re even offering mealymouthed assurances that people won’t lose their new benefits. By the time Obama leaves office, there will be tens of millions of Americans who have benefited directly from health reform – and that will make it almost impossible to reverse. Health reform has made America a different, better place.

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FINANCIAL REFORM

Let’s be clear: The financial crisis should have been followed by a drastic crackdown on Wall Street abuses, and it wasn’t. No important figures have gone to jail; bad banks and other financial institutions, from Citigroup to Goldman, were bailed out with few strings attached; and there has been nothing like the wholesale restructuring and reining in of finance that took place in the 1930s. Obama bears a considerable part of the blame for this disappointing response. It was his Treasury secretary and his attorney general who chose to treat finance with kid gloves.

It’s easy, however, to take this disappointment too far. You often hear Dodd- Frank, the financial-reform bill that Obama signed into law in 2010, dismissed as toothless and meaningless. It isn’t. It may not prevent the next financial crisis, but there’s a good chance that it will at least make future crises less severe and easier to deal with.

Dodd-Frank is a complicated piece of legislation, but let me single out three really important sections.

First, the law gives a special council the ability to designate ”systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs) – that is, institutions that could create a crisis if they were to fail – and place such institutions under extra scrutiny and regulation of things like the amount of capital they are required to maintain to cover possible losses. This provision has been derided as ineffectual or worse – during the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney claimed that by announcing that some firms were SIFIs, the government was effectively guaranteeing that they would be bailed out, which he called ”the biggest kiss that’s been given to New York banks I’ve ever seen.”

But it’s easy to prove that this is nonsense: Just look at how institutions behave when they’re designated as SIFIs. Are they pleased, because they’re now guaranteed? Not a chance. Instead, they’re furious over the extra regulation, and in some cases fight bitterly to avoid being placed on the list. Right now, for example, MetLife is making an all-out effort to be kept off the SIFI list; this effort demonstrates that we’re talking about real regulation here, and that financial interests don’t like it.

Another key provision in Dodd-Frank is ”orderly liquidation authority,” which gives the government the legal right to seize complex financial institutions in a crisis. This is a bigger deal than you might think. We have a well-established procedure for seizing ordinary banks that get in trouble and putting them into receivership; in fact, it happens all the time. But what do you do when something like Citigroup is on the edge, and its failure might have devastating consequences? Back in 2009, Joseph Stiglitz and yours truly, among others, wanted to temporarily nationalize one or two major financial players, for the same reasons the FDIC takes over failing banks, to keep the institutions running but avoid bailing out stockholders and management. We got a chance to make that case directly to the president. But we lost the argument, and one key reason was Treasury’s claim that it lacked the necessary legal authority. I still think it could have found a way, but in any case that won’t be an issue next time.

A third piece of Dodd-Frank is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild, an agency dedicated to protecting Americans against the predatory lending that has pushed so many into financial distress, and played an important role in the crisis. Warren’s idea was that such a stand-alone agency would more effectively protect the public than agencies that were supposed to protect consumers, but saw their main job as propping up banks. And by all accounts the new agency is in fact doing much more to crack down on predatory practices than anything we used to see.

There’s much more in the financial reform, including a number of pieces we don’t have enough information to evaluate yet. But there’s enough evidence even now to say that there’s a reason Wall Street – which used to give an approximately equal share of money to both parties but now overwhelmingly supports Republicans – tried so hard to kill financial reform, and is still trying to emasculate Dodd-Frank. This may not be the full overhaul of finance we should have had, and it’s not as major as health reform. But it’s a lot better than nothing.

THE ECONOMY

Barack Obama might not have been elected president without the 2008 financial crisis; he certainly wouldn’t have had the House majority and the brief filibuster-proof Senate majority that made health reform possible. So it’s very disappointing that six years into his presidency, the U.S. economy is still a long way from being fully recovered.

Before we ask why, however, we should note that things could have been worse. In fact, in other times and places they have been worse. Make no mistake about it – the devastation wrought by the financial crisis was terrible, with real income falling 5.5 percent. But that’s actually not as bad as the ”typical” experience after financial crises: Even in advanced countries, the median post-crisis decline in per- capita real GDP is seven percent. Recovery has been slow: It took almost six years for the United States to regain pre-crisis average income. But that was actually a bit faster than the historical average.

Or compare our performance with that of the European Union. Unemployment in America rose to a horrifying 10 percent in 2009, but it has come down sharply in the past few years. It’s true that some of the apparent improvement probably reflects discouraged workers dropping out, but there has been substantial real progress. Meanwhile, Europe has had barely any job recovery at all, and unemployment is still in double digits. Compared with our counterparts across the Atlantic, we haven’t done too badly.

Did Obama’s policies contribute to this less-awful performance? Yes, without question. You’d never know it listening to the talking heads, but there’s overwhelming consensus among economists that the Obama stimulus plan helped mitigate the worst of the slump. For example, when a panel of economic experts was asked whether the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus, 82 percent said yes, only two percent said no.

Still, couldn’t the U.S. economy have done a lot better? Of course. The original stimulus should have been both bigger and longer. And after Republicans won the House in 2010, U.S. policy took a sharp turn in the wrong direction. Not only did the stimulus fade out, but sequestration led to further steep cuts in federal spending, exactly the wrong thing to do in a still-depressed economy.

We can argue about how much Obama could have altered this literally depressing turn of events. He could have pushed for a larger, more extended stimulus, perhaps with provisions for extra aid that would have kicked in if unemployment stayed high. (This isn’t 20-20 hindsight, because a number of economists, myself included, pleaded for more aggressive measures from the beginning.) He arguably let Republicans blackmail him over the debt ceiling in 2011, leading to the sequester. But this is all kind of iffy.

The bottom line on Obama’s economic policy should be that what he did helped the economy, and that while enormous economic and human damage has taken place on his watch, the United States coped with the financial crisis better than most countries facing comparable crises have managed. He should have done more and better, but the narrative that portrays his policies as a simple failure is all wrong.

While America remains an incredibly unequal society, and we haven’t seen anything like the New Deal’s efforts to narrow income gaps, Obama has done more to limit inequality than he gets credit for. The rich are paying higher taxes, thanks to the partial expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the special taxes on high incomes that help pay for Obamacare; the Congressional Budget Office estimates the average tax rate of the top one percent at 33.6 percent in 2013, up from 28.1 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, the financial aid in Obamacare – expanded Medicaid, subsidies to help lower-income households pay insurance premiums – goes disproportionately to less-well-off Americans. When conservatives accuse Obama of redistributing income, they’re not completely wrong – and liberals should give him credit.

THE ENVIRONMENT

In 2009, it looked, briefly, as if we might be about to get real on the issue of climate change. A fairly comprehensive bill establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions actually passed the House, and visions of global action danced like sugarplums in environmentalists’ heads. But the legislation stalled in the Senate, and Republican victory in the 2010 midterms put an end to that fantasy. Ever since, the only way forward has been through executive action based on existing legislation, which is a poor substitute for the new laws we need.

But as with financial reform, acknowledging the inadequacy of what has been done doesn’t mean that nothing has been achieved. Saying that Obama has been the best environmental president in a long time is actually faint praise, since George W. Bush was terrible and Bill Clinton didn’t get much done. Still, it’s true, and there’s reason to hope for a lot more over the next two years.

 

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First of all, there has been much more progress on the use of renewable energy than most people realize. The share of U.S. energy provided by wind and solar has grown dramatically since Obama took office. True, it’s still only a small fraction of the total, and some of the growth in renewables reflects technological progress, especially in solar panels, that would have happened whoever was in office. But federal policies, including loan guarantees and tax credits, have played an important role.

Nor is it just about renewables; Obama has also taken big steps on energy conservation, especially via fuel-efficiency standards, that have flown, somewhat mysteriously, under the radar. And it’s not just cars. In 2011, the administration announced the first-ever fuel-efficiency standards for medium and heavy vehicles, and in February it announced that these standards would get even tougher for models sold after 2018. As a way to curb green house-gas emissions, these actions, taken together, are comparable in importance to proposed action on power plants.

Which brings us to the latest initiative. Because there’s no chance of getting climate-change legislation through Congress for the foreseeable future, Obama has turned to the EPA’s existing power to regulate pollution – power that the Supreme Court has affirmed extends to emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And this past summer, the EPA announced proposed rules that would require a large reduction over time in such emissions from power plants. You might say that such plants are only a piece of the problem, but they’re a large piece – CO2 from coal-burning power plants is in fact a big part of the problem, so if the EPA goes through with anything like the proposed rule, it will be a major step. Again, not nearly enough, and we’ll have to do a lot more soon, or face civilization-threatening disaster. But what Obama has done is far from trivial.

NATIONAL SECURITY

So far, i’ve been talking about Obama’s positive achievements, which have been much bigger than his critics understand. I do, however, need to address one area that has left some early Obama supporters bitterly disappointed: his record on national security policy. Let’s face it – many of his original enthusiasts favored him so strongly over Hillary Clinton because she supported the Iraq War and he didn’t. They hoped he would hold the people who took us to war on false pretenses accountable, that he would transform American foreign policy, and that he would drastically curb the reach of the national security state.

 

None of that happened. Obama’s team, as far as we can tell, never even considered going after the deceptions that took us to Baghdad, perhaps because they believed that this would play very badly at a time of financial crisis. On overall foreign policy, Obama has been essentially a normal post-Vietnam president, reluctant to commit U.S. ground troops and eager to extract them from ongoing commitments, but quite willing to bomb people considered threatening to U.S. interests. And he has defended the prerogatives of the NSA and the surveillance state in general.

Could and should he have been different? The truth is that I have no special expertise here; as an ordinary concerned citizen, I worry about the precedent of allowing what amount to war crimes to go not just unpunished but uninvestigated, even while appreciating that a modern version of the 1970s Church committee hearings on CIA abuses might well have been a political disaster, and undermined the policy achievements I’ve tried to highlight. What I would say is that even if Obama is just an ordinary president on national security issues, that’s a huge improvement over what came before and what we would have had if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won. It’s hard to get excited about a policy of not going to war gratuitously, but it’s a big deal compared with the alternative.

SOCIAL CHANGE

In 2004, social issues, along with national security, were cudgels the right used to bludgeon liberals – I like to say that Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists. Ten years later, and the scene is transformed: Democrats have turned these social issues – especially women’s rights – against Republicans; gay marriage has been widely legalized with approval or at least indifference from the wider public. We have, in a remarkably short stretch of time, become a notably more tolerant, open-minded nation.

Barack Obama has been more a follower than a leader on these issues. But at least he has been willing to follow the country’s new open-mindedness. We shouldn’t take this for granted. Before the Obama presidency, Democrats were in a kind of reflexive cringe on social issues, acting as if the religious right had far more power than it really does and ignoring the growing constituency on the other side. It’s easy to imagine that if someone else had been president these past six years, Democrats would still be cringing as if it were 2004. Thankfully, they aren’t. And the end of the cringe also, I’d argue, helped empower them to seek real change on substantive issues from health reform to the environment. Which brings me back to domestic issues.

As you can see, there’s a theme running through each of the areas of domestic policy I’ve covered. In each case, Obama delivered less than his supporters wanted, less than the country arguably deserved, but more than his current detractors acknowledge. The extent of his partial success ranges from the pretty good to the not-so-bad to the ugly. Health reform looks pretty good, especially in historical perspective – remember, even Social Security, in its original FDR version, only covered around half the workforce. Financial reform is, I’d argue, not so bad – it’s not the second coming of Glass-Steagall, but there’s a lot more protection against runaway finance than anyone except angry Wall Streeters seems to realize. Economic policy wasn’t enough to avoid a very ugly period of high unemployment, but Obama did at least mitigate the worst.

And as far as climate policy goes, there’s reason for hope, but we’ll have to see.

Am I damning with faint praise? Not at all. This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to. FDR left behind a reformed nation, but one in which the wealthy retained a lot of power and privilege. On the other side, for all his anti-government rhetoric, Reagan left the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society in place. I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn’t quite say, a big deal.

 

Thank you  &  Rolling Stone Magazine

 
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