Friday, December 31, 2010

Can One Black Make Us All Look Bad?

Whenever we propose that one Black can make us all look bad, one of the most subliminally interesting things that we’re suggesting about white people is that they’re so dumb that they can’t tell us apart.

Could You Have Been A Slave?

Post by RK Byers in NewsOne Original on Dec 31, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I’m always offended when some 21st Century jerk-off, made soft from fast food and text messaging, starts in with a line like, “I couldn’t have been no slave.”

'Give It Back For Jobs' Helps Affluent Return Tax Cuts

For affluent Americans outraged by the fiscal and social consequences of tax cuts handed to them by President George W. Bush and recently extended for two more years, a trio of similarly dismayed academics has furnished a way for them to put their money where their mouth is.

What Message Does This Commercial Represent In The African American Community

The Reverend Al Sharpton tried to speak up for the Black Agency that Burger King let go early during this year. I heard several people Get on the Rev. about this very reason. This is why you have a Black voice when you try to sell goods in the Black community.  For that matter any community, but ours is dumped on without warning or worth.  This Ad can say a lot of things, but what does it really say?

Potential GOP 2012 Presidential Candidates Use PACs To Skirt Federal Campaign Fundraising Laws

USA Today reported yesterday that 6 Republicans considering a run for president in 2012 — Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas governor MIke Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) — have raised millions of dollars in political action committee accounts “that allow them to get around federal campaign laws that limit presidential fundraising”:

MTV’s Controversial Special On Abortion Stars Black Teen

Baltimore — Last night, MTV aired No Easy Decision, a spin-off of the popular reality series, 16 and Pregnant. The special follows 16 and Pregnantalum Markai as she struggles with the decision to have an abortion after unexpectedly becoming pregnant for the second time.

Houston Black Professionals Claim Racism After Party Shut Down Due To “Look Of Crowd”


A group of young, African American professionals are claiming racism after a party of theirs was shut down at the Hudson in the trendy Rice Village area of Houston.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tea Party Leader Calls NAACP “A Liberal Hate Group”

Judson Phillips, head of Tea Party Nation, recently released his picks for 2010's "top five liberal hate groups." Among them is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a selection that is unlikely to smooth the rocky relationship that has developed between the two organizations over the past year.

Andy Martin, 'King Of The Birthers,' Announces Presidential Run

A recent rekindling of "birther" news hascompelled Andy Martin, who calls himself "king of the birthers," to announce a run for the White House in 2012, becoming the first GOP candidate to officially do so.

Alter's 'The Promise' Epilogue: Obama Team's Dysfunction Prompted Lack Of Focus On Jobs; Bill Clinton Annoyed At White House

Some revelations about the Obama administration detailed in the new epilogue to the upcoming paperback release of Jonathan Alter's bestseller, "The Promise," probably won't please too many folks at the White House. Alter claims that a dysfunctional relationship between top White House aides hurt the administration's policy on job creation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was almost dropped from financial reform legislation and was only reinstated after complaints by Elizabeth Warren, and Bill Clinton continually grumbles about being disrespected by the administration.

E-Books Outsell Paper Books On Barnes & Noble's Online Store

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. on Thursday said its line of Nook e-reading devices are the biggest-selling items in its history, and added it sold nearly 1 million e-books on Christmas Day.

Keith Olbermann: 'Fox News Is 100% Bullshit'

Keith Olbermann is anything but hesitant when it comes to a battle with Fox News, and the MSNBC anchor took to Twitter Wednesday to share his views on the TV network he probably wouldn't even call a rival.

Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav found guilty of rape

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says Moshe Katsav is expected to appeal against the judges' unanimous decision.

Most Americans Support Health Law Or Want To Make It More Progressive

One of the major rallying cries of the Republican Party and the wider conservative movement has been torepeal the recently passed health care law. To justify this demand, these conservatives claim that Americans want the law to be repealed and that they think it goes too far in expanding the government and would prefer a free market approach to health care (which has no history of working anywhere at anytime).

Spike Lee’s Malcolm X Will Be Added To Library Of Congress

BALTIMORE — The Library of Congress has selected Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic about Malcolm X and a 1959 film dramatization of a discussion between blacks and whites about jazz are among the images that will be preserved as part of its National Film Registry.

Obama Bypasses Senate, Announces Recess Appointments

HONOLULU — President Barack Obama bypassed the Senate Wednesday to make six recess appointments, including a deputy attorney general whose links to the insurance giant American International Group had stalled his confirmation.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kissinger’s Long History Of Complicity In Human Rights Abuses

Earlier this month, audio tapes from the Nixon White House were revealed to the public that captured a shocking exchange between Nixon and then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In the tapes, Kissinger responds to an appeal made by Israeli leader Golda Meir toHouston Black Professionals Claim Racism After Party Shut Down Due To “Look Of Crowd” Soviet leaders to allow the emigration of Russian Jews to her country. He tells Nixon that the “emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”

Krauthammer Warns Against Defunding Health Law: Will Lead To ‘Chaos’ And ‘Incoherence’

As Republicans prepare to defund parts of the Affordable Care Act in the new Congress, conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer is warning conservatives that the strategy could lead to “chaos” and “incoherence” in the health care system. During an appearance on Fox’s Special Report on Monday, Krauthammer suggested that the GOP would be better off by holding hearings to “expose” the measure and orchestrating symbolic repeal votes:

Georgia Bill Would Force State Taxpayers To Pay Only In Gold Or Silver

Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) loves to introduce far-right reactionary bills. Among his greatest hits are an assault of Georgia’s authority to vaccinate its citizens, an unconstitutional bill declaring Roe v. Wade a “nullity,” and, of course, a bill eliminating income taxes.

MS Rep Tried To Kill Historic Civil Rights Education Law Because It’s ‘Accusatory Of One Group’

Next year, Mississippi will make civil and human rights curriculum mandatory for public school students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. While civil rights is typically part of the Social Studies program, Mississippi will now be “the first state to require civil rights studies throughout all grades in its public school systems.” The subject will now be included in the assessment test students must pass to graduate. Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), who signed the requirement into law five years ago, praised the new requirement: “To learn the good things about Mississippi and America and the bad things about Mississippi and America is important for every Mississippian.” These comments, of course, came “just days” before he offered his own version of civil rights history.

Are Atheists Right?

The most amazing thing to me about atheists, other than the mere fact that they exist, is that they’ve somehow managed to get themselves labeled as “open-minded”.

Pardon Me, But Can A Black Man Protect His Family?

Somewhere mixed up in all the convoluted history that we’ve been forced to internalize, the image of the non-violent Black in the face of white hostility has still managed to survive despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The Health Risks of Being Unemployed

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There’s no doubt that unemployment can have a negative impact on your bank account, but several studies in recent years have shown it could hurt your health as well.

Obama under pressure to deliver on climate

Jan. 2 isn't your ordinary Sunday.

It's the day the Obama administration will officially start regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and critics have issued dire predictions of economic destruction.

Rep. Danny Davis To Bill Clinton: Stay Out Of Chicago Politics

Rep. Danny Davis has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Don’t take sides in the Chicago mayor’s race — or else.

Neil Abercrombie Should Rethink His Decision To Take On The 'Birthers'

Newly elected Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has decided that he will be the guy to finally settle the whole "birther" conspiracy, a matter that was settled in sane circles before it even began.Slate's Dave Weigel, who has written more substantively about the birthers than anyone else I could name, gets right to the heart of why this is a mistake:

Tucker Carlson: Michael Vick 'Should Have Been Executed' (VIDEO)

Tucker Carlson filled in for Sean Hannity Tuesday night on Fox News and made a shocking claim: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should be executed.

Gulf Oil Spill: BP's Costs Appear Manageable 8 Months Later

NEW YORK — As the Gulf oil spill gushed out of control, BP's financial liabilities seemed big enough to sink the company. No more.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Saves City From Snow With Twitter

NEWARK-For the second year in a row, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been handling requests from snow removal personally via Twitter. The massive snowstorm that has hit the east coast has left several people stranded in their own homes in Newark. Here are some of Booker’s Tweets:
If ur stuck DM me ur # RT @MsSugarpie: Please clean 1 st btwn Broad & Washington st..plez I me Issued work stuck on Warren st by Rutgers
On it. RT @LadiShanti: @CoryBooker can we please have trucks on Wainwright Street ASAP? My street is terrible!

NAACP Tells Nashville To Hire More Black Officers


Nashville's NAACP wants to have a sit down meeting with the mayor and police chief about what they call a "chronic problem" with recruiting and promoting black officers.

Iraq Wants the U.S. Out

BAGHDAD—Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out the presence of any U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, saying his new government and the country's security forces were capable of confronting any remaining threats to Iraq's security, sovereignty and unity.
In his first media interview since the Iraqi Parliament confirmed his new cabinet in December, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sat down for an exclusive conversation with The Wall Street Journal's Sam Dagher. Here are some excerpts.
Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier.
A majority of Iraqis—and some Iraqi and U.S. officials—have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."
He also said that even as Iraq bids farewell to U.S. troops, he wouldn't allow his nation to be pulled into alignment with Iran, despite voices supporting such an alliance within his government.
"For Iraq to be dragged into an axis or an orbit, that's impossible, and we reject it whether this comes from Iran, Turkey or the Arabs," he said.
He added that a kind of "paranoia" about a Tehran-Baghdad alliance in the U.S. is matched by a fear in Iran about U.S. influence: "An Iranian official visited me in the past and told me, 'I thought the Americans were standing at the door of your office,' " he said.
In an interview in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden also said Iran had failed to buy influence during the election or to co-opt Mr. Maliki, who was among the members of the current Iraqi government who briefly took refuge in Iran during the reign of Saddam Hussein.
Max Becherer for The Wall Street Journal
Nouri al-Maliki seated in his office. In an interview, he said Iraq would assume responsibility for all its own security by the end of 2011, and would not fall into alignment with Iran.
Mr. Maliki's new majority depends partly on followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. But Mr. Biden credited Mr. Maliki for denying Mr. Sadr's bloc any control of Iraqi security, while forming a government with full buy-in from Iraq's main factions of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
U.S. military commanders still accuse Iran of funding, training and providing sanctuary to Shiite militias, like Mr. Sadr's Promised Day Brigades, which they say are responsible for attacks against U.S. forces and gangster-style assassinations that continue to plague Baghdad and other areas.
Max Becherer for The Wall Street Journal
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talking with The Wall Street Journal.

Maliki on Iraq's Future

"Our country has the liberal, secular, Islamist, conservative, Christian, Muslim, tribal. This is our country. ... Now listen, all those that you meet among the officials are referred to by their tribe. I am al-Maliki attributed to Bani Malik, a large tribe present in Iraq and extending to the Hijaz and Yemen. So denying reality will produce nothing."
-- More from the interview
Mr. Maliki suggested his government had co-opted militias like the one associated with Mr. Sadr. "The militias are now part of the government and have entered the political process," said Mr. Maliki. The Sadr contingent, he added, "is moving in a satisfactory direction of taking part in the government, renouncing violence and abandoning military activity, and that's why we welcome it."
Security is the new government's top priority, Mr. Maliki said, as in his previous term. Sectarian violence and suicide bombings continue to plague the country as the full withdrawal of U.S. soldiers nears. Almost a dozen people were killed in double suicide bombings on Monday outside provincial government offices in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, according to security officials.
A resumption of more extreme violence, of course, could alter the thinking in Baghdad and Washington about the U.S. timetable.
But Mr. Maliki said the only way for any of the remaining 50,000 or so American soldiers to stay beyond 2011 would be for the two nations to negotiate—with the approval of Iraq's Parliament—a new Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, similar to the one concluded in 2008.
That deal took a year of protracted negotiations in the face of vehement opposition from many among Mr. Maliki's own Shiite constituency, and no repeat is expected.
Mr. Maliki and U.S. officials have refrained for the most part from raising the issue publicly during the months of political wrangling in Baghdad, as Mr. Maliki negotiated with potential coalition partners, many of whom have adamantly opposed an extended U.S. stay.
A senior official in President Barack Obama's administration said Washington was "on track" to withdraw all its remaining soldiers in Iraq by the end of next year. That's the final milestone in the security agreement, following the reduction in American troop levels to below 50,000 in August and the pullout of U.S. soldiers from most Iraqi inner cities in June 2009. "The prime minister is exactly right," said the senior official.
During the interview, Mr. Maliki said he was heartened by America's "commitment" to honoring the agreements it reached with Iraq, and he laughed approvingly when told that U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey keeps a frayed copy of the so-called Strategic Framework Agreement in his leather briefcase. That document calls, in broad terms, for long-term cooperation in security, defense, economy, energy and culture, among other areas.
In a briefing for Western reporters last week, Mr. Jeffrey said that despite the requirement to pull out all American troops at the end of 2011, the framework document and other agreements between Baghdad and Washington contain "a very robust security agenda."
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad will house a "significantly sized" office aimed at security cooperation, Mr. Jeffrey said, made up of about 80 to 90 military personnel that would take over most of the current functions of the U.S. military in advising, assisting, training and equipping Iraqi forces. That's similar to arrangements with other countries in the region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The embassy would also oversee a major Iraqi police-training program.
Mr. Maliki played down Iraq's need for any major help from the U.S. military, even while acknowledging serious deficiencies in areas including control of airspace and borders. He said the days when ethnic or sectarian-based militias roamed the streets of Iraq and operated above the law were over.
"Not a single militia or gang can confront Iraqi forces and take over a street or a house," said Mr. Maliki. "This is finished; we are comfortable about that."
He said full withdrawal of U.S. troops also will remove a prime motivator of insurgents—both the Shiite fighters tied to militia groups and Iran, and Sunnis linked to Mr. Hussein's ousted Baath party.
Mr. Maliki defended his political horse trading with rival factions, many of which are seen as far apart on several substantial policy issues. He called the post-election process—in which he managed to prevail despite his own party bloc failing to gain the most votes—"very arduous."
He acknowledged that he expanded the number of cabinet seats just to placate the squabbling parties that he eventually cobbled together into his governing coalition, arguably the broadest since the fall of Mr. Hussein.
"I mean seven to eight ministries are, allow me to say, ministries for appeasement purposes," he said.
Mr. Maliki said he agreed to several Kurdish demands, including a referendum in contested northern regions, though he didn't think it was feasible without a constitutional amendment to accompany it.
Washington is so concerned about the standoff in the north—where Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and smaller ethnic groups have faced off—that a large contingent of U.S. soldiers continues to staff joint security checkpoints there, as diplomats work on political solutions.
The referendum was one of 19 demands made by Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in exchange for a power-sharing deal that ended the gridlock that followed the March elections. The resulting unity government headed by Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, includes Kurds and a Sunni-dominated bloc headed by the secular Shiite and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Mr. Allawi, whose bloc won the most seats in the election but couldn't form a majority, will chair a new National Council for Higher Policies, but won't be able to implement policies without broad government support.

Chris Christie Slammed For Staying In Disney World During Devastating Snow Storm

Critics are taking aim at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his decision to embark ---- and now remain -- on his Disney World vacation even while his state digs out of a massive snow storm. Compounding the criticism is the fact that Christie's second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, is simultaneously on leave in Mexico.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Longs For 'Golden Age' Of The Bush Years

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Longing for the early years of the Bush administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been consumed by anti-U.S. conspiracy theories, convinced American officials are now working against him, according to a diplomatic cable from the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
The cable was sent in July 2009, which would become the deadliest month for foreign troopssince the 2001 invasion. The surge in casualties resulted from an offensive to oust the Taliban in opium-rich Helmand Province, as well as the increasing power of roadside bombs. On July 7, when Amb. Karl Eikenberry met with Karzai, the Afghan president was looking backward rather than forward, wistfully longing for the early days of the Bush administration, which he referred to as a "golden age."
"Karzai then returned to a familiar theme, his wish for Afghan-U.S. relations to recover the spirit of 2002-04 -- a period Karzai sees as a 'golden age' in the relationship," wrote Eikenberry in a July 16 cable obtained by WikiLeaks and published by The New York Times. "He would like for U.S. forces to again be able to drive their humvees through villages, greeted warmly by villagers who would shout, 'Good morning, Sergeant Thompson.' Karzai claimed, as he has many times, that his concern over the erosion of public trust in the U.S. was a driving factor in his increasingly strident criticism regarding civilian casualties, night raids and detentions."
Eikenberry took issue with Karzai's characterization of that period being a "golden age" -- and reminded him that he should be looking forward to the future rather than back to the past. Even in 2002-2004, Eikenberry told Karzai, it was clear that "trouble was brewing as the focus on security and reconstruction drifted and declined due to lack of resources and a comprehensive strategy."
"I stressed to Karzai that our primary goal in Afghanistan is not to win public support for the U.S., but rather to help the Afghan government win its own people's hearts and minds by enabling it to provide basic security and effective governance to the people," relayed Eikenberry. "In five years, we expect to still have forces in Afghanistan, but with the majority as advisors and trainers in support of ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] in areas such as logistics, air support, intelligence, etc. Returning to Karzai's hopes for the future, I told him Americans do not long for a day in which their soldiers are hailed throughout Afghanistan; they are instead growing impatient for the day a respected Afghan Army and national police force are fully capable of providing security to the Afghan populace. Time is not unlimited."
Amb. William Taylor, vice president at the United States Institute of Peace, was in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003, working for both the Afghan finance minister and the U.S. embassy, coordinating international assistance coming into the country. He returns to Afghanistan two or three times each year, going as recently as a few weeks ago. He said that security and people-to-people relationships shortly after the invasion were better, although there were significant shortcomings in other areas.
"I traveled with the military, but I also traveled with the assistance providers -- USAID and some of their implementing partners -- without very much security," he told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. "So we were able to travel around pretty much as we wanted. As we traveled, I was struck by the warm attitude of Afghans toward Americans ... It was a very good time for U.S.-Afghan people relations."
That time, however, was also characterized by inadequate resources flowing into Afghanistan from the international community, which made progress difficult.
"The problem, of course, was the resources that were available to the United States in particular, and to other alliance partners more broadly, weren't anywhere near what were required and necessary to make some progress both on reconstruction and training and equipping the army and the police," Taylor added. "So in that regard, again, looking back on it, that's what we know now, because now we're finally getting the resources there. The resources that are available to both the embassy and the coalition now -- in terms of people and soldiers and dollars and assistance -- today it just dwarfs what we had in 2002 and 2003."
Karzai also repeatedly focused on anti-U.S. conspiracy theories and took a "blame America" approach that worried Eikenberry, and further, made him and the Afghan government not seem like credible partners. Karzai would consistently tell senior U.S. visitors that America had "failed in Afghanistan," and he refused to "acknowledge any meaningful progress resulting from U.S. contributions."
Further, Karzai was convinced that Obama administration officials were helping his challengers, including Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, rather than helping him in his bid for reelection. "Karzai clearly expected (or hoped) to receive the same U.S. support for his candidacy that he received in the 2004 election, and interprets our neutral stance in this election as evidence that the U.S. is 'against' him," wrote Eikenberry.
Amb. James Dobbins was President Bush's first representative to the Afghan opposition, dispatched to the country in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He told The Huffington Post that while personal relationships were stronger in the early years of the Bush administration, many of the early expectations on each side were inflated, leading to disappointment afterward.
"I think Karzai, personally, was grateful to the U.S.," said Dobbins. "The U.S. was instrumental to his emergence as a leader, and the U.S. was certainly responsible for supporting his insurgency effort against the Taliban. And the U.S. was pleased with the emergence of Karzai as a leader in a part of the world where extremism and xenophobia were legend, if not entirely accurate; he seemed to personify a modern, cosmopolitan, and progressive worldview. And the Afghan populace, as a whole, were grateful to the U.S. and the international community that had defended a Taliban regime that had been generally unpopular, and promised substantial external assistance. I think some of those early expectations were disappointed on both sides."
But at the time, added Dobbins, who is now with the RAND Corporation, there were underlying difficulties mounting in the security arena. "The Taliban were regrouping and posing a more dangerous threat, largely from a sanctuary in Pakistan, so it wasn't entirely visible at the time," he said. "Promises of international assistance were slow to arrive, and manifested less visibly than expected. And Karzai's government was having trouble taking hold, in part because the international community wasn't providing the back-up they should have."
Questions about Karzai's fitness to be the leader of Afghanistan and a key U.S. ally run throughout several of the cables obtained by WikiLeaks. As The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim highlighted, Karzai has also repeatedly released well-connected officials convicted of or charged with drug trafficking in Afghanistan, frustrating efforts to combat corruption and providing evidence that he himself is corrupt.

Right-Wing Groups Abandon Conservative Forum For Inviting Gay Conservatives To Participate

The religious right has grown apoplectic over what it sees as the harbingers of its demise: gay conservatives. The emergence of the GOProud, a right-wing group of conservatives that support gay rights, is spurring a civil war between conservative bigwigs. This summer, WorldNetDaily publisher and proud “birther king” Joseph Farah and right-wing ranter Ann Coulter launched into ahyperbolic squabble after Coulter agreed to keynote GOProud’s inaugural “Homocon” conference. Fearful of GOProud’s impending “coup” of the conservative movement, Farah even called for extra security at his WND conference panel “is GOProud conservative?” because, as his loyal followers noted, GOProud could bring its “radical gay” supporters to help in its “infiltration of the conservative movement.”

Obama’s Economist Pick Seen As Sign Of New Agenda

HONOLULU — Among the first announcements President Barack Obama will make upon returning from his Hawaiian vacation is his choice for top economic adviser, a decision that could signal a new direction for the administration as it struggles to jumpstart the economy and wrestle down unemployment.

Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg Offered $1M To Fight Each Other

For those who are tired of looking at Floyd Mayweather's mugshots, there may be something worth looking forward to in the sport of boxing.

Obama's (Conservative) Liberal Agenda

Rather than simply dismissing conservative criticism, liberals have internalized it -- and modified, narrowed and adjusted their goals accordingly.

As we reach the end of a successful lame-duck session of Congress and the second year of the Obama presidency, Perry Bacon writes, "This blitz of bill signings completes a dramatic first two years for the nation's first black president that included the enactment of arguably the most major liberal policies since the Johnson administration but also the Democrats' biggest loss of House seats in 72 years."

It's interesting to think of the Obama administration's agenda as the most liberal in generations, if only because of how much it reflects liberals internalizing conservative critiques of liberalism or outright embracing conservative goals.

New START is a modernization and extension of a treaty negotiated by President Ronald Reagan and signed by President George W. Bush. "Don't ask, don't tell" was a Clinton-era "compromise" -- and, while seeking its appeal, the Obama administration went to great lengths to appease all the relevant stakeholders and neutralize potential backlash. The Affordable Care Act closely resembles the Republican "free-market" alternative to Clinton's 1993 health care proposal and the plan put in place in Massachusetts by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

Even many of the initiatives that failed had conservative bonafides. The 2010 DREAM Act was a much narrower version of legislation that had long been part of the moderate Republican agenda on immigration,having once been sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). And while some conservatives descended even further into climate change denialism, cap-and-trade was, like the Affordable Care Act, meant to be the "free market" environmentalist approach.

The Obama administration's agenda, by and large, reflected a liberalism chastened by past failures and willing to endorse more market-based solutions to problems. Rather than simply dismissing conservative criticism, liberals internalized it -- and modified, narrowed and adjusted their goals accordingly. Where conservatives said liberals were too ambitious, liberals sought more focused solutions. Where conservatives said the market would work better than government, liberals tried to find a market-based path to the same goal. When conservatives pointed out that judicial decrees, even in matters of civil rights, are no substitute for the legitimacy conferred by legislative action, liberals took it to heart.

Of course, as liberals moved right or recognized conservative criticism as legitimate, conservatives mostly leveled the same tired epithets at everything liberals tried to do. A more limited DREAM Act with harsher behavioral restrictions became "amnesty," Reagan's arms treaty would lead to nuclear annihilation and a national version of Romneycare became the twilight of freedom in America. In the hands of liberals, conservative policy ideas become dangerous, elaborate plans for the unmaking of the country.

Read the rest of this article at the Washington Post.

Blind Man Comes To The Rescue Of Woman In Burning House

An elderly blind man heard his neighbor's screams for help yesterday and did not hesitate, rushing into her burning Queens building to try to save her.

James Shackelford, 73, a retired JFK Airport cook blind from diabetes for a dozen years, then became engulfed in flames himself.

Fortunately, he wasn't the only good Samaritan on hand. Two others, driving down 194th Street in St. Albans on their way back from church just after noon, saw Shackelford stumble out with his clothing on fire and rushed to his assistance.

"It was good he was able to make it out of his house," said Thomas Brannon Jr., who, with Douglas Davis, rolled Shackelford on the ground to put out the flames.
James Shackelford
James Shackelford
Shackelford was taken to Nassau University Hospital with burns over 50 percent of his body, and remains in critical condition.
A resident of the block for more than three decades, Shackelford heard a friend and neighbor calling for help, and did not hesitate, his wife, Anna, said.

"He was always the first one to try to help," she said. "Anyone in the neighborhood who needed something -- he would always be there. He'd give up his last penny for someone."

His daughter, Yvonne Dunson, said that although she admires her father's bravery, he had no business going inside.

"I know you should always try to help someone, but he's blind," she said. "I just have to wonder what he was thinking."

Baby Boomers Near 65 With Retirements In Jeopardy

CHICAGO — Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they’re hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.

The boomers, who in their youth revolutionized everything from music to race relations, are set to redefine retirement. But a generation that made its mark in the tumultuous 1960s now faces a crisis as it hits its own mid-60s.
“The situation is extremely serious because baby boomers have not saved very effectively for retirement and are still retiring too early,” says Olivia Mitchell, director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
There are several reasons to be concerned:
- The traditional pension plan is disappearing. In 1980, some 39 percent of private-sector workers had a pension that guaranteed a steady payout during retirement. Today that number stands closer to 15 percent, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C.
- Reliance on stocks in retirement plans is greater than ever; 42 percent of those workers now have 401(k)s. But the past decade has been a lost one for stocks, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index posting total returns of just 4 percent since the beginning of 2000.
- Many retirees banked on their homes as their retirement fund. But the crash in housing prices has slashed almost a third of a typical home’s value. Now 22 percent of homeowners, or nearly 11 million people, owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Many are boomers.
Michael Vanatta, 61, of Vero Beach, Fla., is paying the price for being a boomer who enjoyed life without saving for the future. He put a daughter through college, but he also spent plenty of money on indulgences like dining out and the latest electronic gadgets.
Vanatta was laid off last January from his $100,000-a-year job as a sales executive for a turf company. And with savings of just $5,000, he’s on a budget for the first time. In April, he will start taking Social Security at age 62.
“If I’d been smarter and planned and had the bucks, I’d wait until 70,” says Vanatta, who is divorced and rents an apartment. “It’s my fault. For years I was making plenty of money and spending plenty of money.”
Vanatta is in the majority. Some 51 percent of early boomer households, headed by those ages 55 to 64, face a retirement with lower living standards, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Too many boomers have ignored or underestimated the worsening outlook for their finances, says Jean Setzfand, director of financial security for AARP, the group that represents Americans over age 50. By far the greatest shortcoming has been a failure to save. The personal savings rate – the amount of disposable income unspent – averaged close to 10 percent in the 1970s and `80s. By late 2007, the rate had sunk to negative 1 percent.
The recession has helped improve the savings rate – it’s now back above 5 percent. Yet typical boomers are still woefully short on retirement savings. Even those in their 50s and 60s with a 401(k) for at least six years had an average balance of less than $150,000 at the end of 2009, according to the EBRI.
Signs of coming trouble are visible on several other fronts, too:
- Mortgage Debt. Nearly two in three people age 55 to 64 had a mortgage in 2007, with a median debt of $85,000.
- Social Security. Nearly 3 out of 4 people file to claim Social Security benefits as soon as they’re eligible at age 62. That locks them in at a much lower amount than they would get if they waited.
The monthly checks are about 25 percent less if you retire at 62 instead of full retirement age, which is 66 for those born from 1943 to 1954. If you wait until 70, your check can be 75 to 80 percent more than at 62. So, a boomer who claimed a $1,200 monthly benefit in 2008 at age 62 could have received about $2,000 by holding off until 70.
- Medical Costs. Health care expenses are soaring, and the availability of retiree benefits is declining.
“People cannot fathom how much money will be needed to simply cover out-of-pocket medical care costs,” says Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania.
A 55-year-old man with typical drug expenses needs to have about $187,000 just to cover future medical costs. That’s if he wants to be 90 percent certain to have enough money to supplement Medicare coverage in retirement, the EBRI said. Because of greater longevity, a 65-year-old woman would need even more to cover her health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses: an estimated $213,000.
- Employment. Boomers both need and want to work longer than previous generations. But unemployment is near 10 percent, and many have lost their jobs.
The average unemployment period for those 55 and older was 45 weeks in November. That’s 12 weeks longer than for younger job-seekers. It’s also more than double the 20-week period this group faced at the beginning of the recession in December 2007.
If financial neglect turns out to be many boomers’ undoing, challenging circumstances are stymieing others.
Linda Reaves of Silver Spring, Md., never had much opportunity to save as a single mother raising two sons and a daughter. After holding a variety of positions over the years – hotel office manager, research analyst for a mortgage company, hospital mental health counselor – she was still living paycheck to paycheck. Then she was laid off in 2007 at the age of 57.
She entered a training program to learn new skills, but all she has found since is a string of temporary jobs. In her daily quest for clerical or administrative work, she competes against much younger applicants.
Reaves, who turns 60 this month, plans to work until she’s at least 70 and then wants to travel, even if she doesn’t know where the money will come from.
“I just keep going. I don’t really worry about it,” she says.
Add this all up, and there’s a “slow-burning” retirement crisis for boomers, says Anthony Webb, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research.
“If you have a crisis where the adverse consequences are immediately clear, then people understand that they have to do something,” Webb says. “When the consequences will be felt 20 or 30 years in the future, the temptation is that we kick the can down the road.”
As a result, he believes many won’t change their behavior.
For less affluent boomers, it won’t take that long to feel the pain of poor planning. Concerns about financial trouble will hang over many of those 65th birthday celebrations in 2011.
Many seem to view their plight through rose-colored granny glasses. An AARP survey last month of boomers turning 65 next year found that they worry no more about money than they did at age 60 – before the recession or the collapse of home prices. But in an acknowledgement of reality, 40 percent said they plan to work “until I drop.”