Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama's Interview with Fox News Was Both Disrespectful and Problematic

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

The Democrats must pass health care reform. If they pass the legislation, they are still going to get hammered in the mid-term elections. If they don't pass the bill, the hammering will only multiply in its intensity. Right now, our Congress finds itself in a terribly complex situation, with terms like "reconciliation" and "deem and pass" being thrown around like profanity against a growing backlash from a portion of the American public. If we could go back in time, President Obama would never have taken on this issue.

I watched President Obama's interview with Brett Baier on Fox News with intrigue. I wondered why Obama would want to appear on a network that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars undermining the White House. I then realized that Obama's appearance is likely in line with the White House strategy of taking on the Republicans face-to-face. Rather than appearing to be an elitist leader who hides from his adversaries (as George Bush might have done), Obama is walking into one lion's den after another, making his presidency even more interesting than it was when he arrived. Also unlike President Bush, Obama is savvy and intelligent enough to debate 100 Republicans in a single bound, the way Tiger Woods can dominate a golf course with scores of non-black competitors. Barack Obama is his own greatest asset.

What got the nation's attention in last night's Fox interview was Baier's blatant disrespect for the president. In one instance after another, Baier would cut Obama off in the middle of his answers and wouldn't let him finish his points. He was appeasing his right wing supporters by chopping the presidency down to size, and putting Obama "in his place." I could understand the source of Baier's frustration, since Obama and the Democrats are not exactly listening to the Republicans as they put forward their talking points, and this was their chance to come after Obama.

Ron Paul's Racist Newsletter Shows Problems in Republican Party

remember when I was a college student at The University of Kentucky writing in the campus paper. Most of the white students at this conservative school in the south pretty much hated my guts. I didn't mind that, since the pain of growing up as a black man in the state of Kentucky left a scar so deep that it significantly thickened my psychological skin. One of the articles I wrote linked the Republican Party to racism in America. The editor of the campus paper, a conservative who loved to paint me as a raging liberal (I am honestly not all that liberal), titled the column, "Republicans are Racist: Guilty by Association."

While I didn't agree with the editor's assertion that guilt by association should matter to any of us, he may have had a point. The truth is that even guilt by association can get us into serious trouble. The case of former Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul is one that reminds us that the Republicans are having a great deal of trouble shaking their perceived connection to the very worst parts of America. The release of Paul's newsletter from the 1990s only makes matters worse, as the newsletter presents a goldmine of incredibly racist statements and accusations that would make Rush Limbaugh blush.

Some of the most interesting statements in the newsletter are presented below:

"Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."

"Just after a basketball game ended on June 14, blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot, even breaking through protective steel shutters with crowbars to steal everything in sight."

"If you live in a major city, you've probably already heard about the newest threat to your life and limb, and your family: carjacking. It is the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos."

In addition to making outlandish statements about people of color, Paul presents other interesting information, such as a poll in which he claims that only 5% of African Americans have sensible political opinions. He also mentioned that "if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."

To say that Ron Paul's newsletter is ignorant would be an understatement. Also, it is my greatest hope that this revelation is enough to ensure that the Republicans do not give him serious consideration for the presidency. What is most interesting, however, is that Paul's newsletter brings an ironic and almost refreshing sense of honesty into our conversation about race in America. Paul's statements are not as scary as the fact that there are millions of Americans who agree with him. Many whites have equally "interesting" beliefs about African Americans, which lead to a serious disrespect of our humanity. We are seen as fleet-footed car-jackers who love R&B music, rather than a heterogeneous group of Americans who have the same flaws and capabilities as anyone else. The goal is not to believe that all black people are good: The goal is to know that we are normal.

I am not sure what ridiculous story Ron Paul's advisers are going to come up with to try to explain this one away. But the truth is that you probably won't see Paul making a serious run for the presidency, and that is a good thing for America.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Japanese Hip-Hop producer Nujabes dies

Jun Seba, a Japanese DJ and Hip-Hop producer, died in February in a fatal car accident in his native Japan.

A statement was posted this week announcing his death on February 26th, the same day a 7.0 earthquake rocked Japan:

We deeply regret the loss of a unique talent and a close friend. Through his soulful music, Nujabes has touched so many people around the world, even beyond his dreams. He was a mysterious character to most as he avoided the public limelight, rarely conducted interviews, so only a few got to know the man behind the signature production. Yet it continued to amaze me how young listeners of all backgrounds learned of his enigmatic name, and expressed support for his music.

The label founded by Nujabes, Hydeout productions, confirmed the DJ’s death on their website (translated from Japanese):

The sudden, very sudden, you have to sad news.

nujabes presided hydeout productions, 2010 February 26, at the point of leaving the Minato Ward, Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Wednesday night, suddenly been transported to hospital by ambulance Shibuya Ward ran into a car accident, a hard life-saving treatment have been decorated, and without that raise the heart beat again, took off into the sky.

I died just 36 years old birthday.

Funeral, nujabes with music, as a private burial in the family, was held in Shimeyaka. Our sincere gratitude to the antemortem厚誼here, We have pleasure to inform you. Treat the passing of a sudden, one day and sorrow, we regret even more pitching.

Hydeout confirmed that Nujabes’ legacy will be preserved via the future release of new tracks he left behind. Nujabes was 36 years old.

Youth Pastor Watch, O They Will Know We Are Christians, There Is No Morality Without Religion, Etc.

Posted by Dan Savage

A Minnesota man who allegedly pimped his wife out for sex on Craigslist has been charged with a felony following his arrest at a downtown Chicago Hotel. Clinton Danner, 32, of Rockford, Minn., is accused of forcing his wife to have sex with strangers at locations across the country.

He was arrested Sunday night by Cook County Sheriff’s Police as he arrived to pick up his wife from a downtown Holiday Inn where he made her stay for the weekend, prosecutors said today. Though he’d planned for her to fly home Monday, he called to tell her he was disappointed by how little money she’d made over the weekend and was personally driving to Chicago to confront her, authorities said.

Seeking help, his wife secretly called the Polaris national sex trafficking hotline, leading to Danner’s arrest by Sheriff’s police.... Danner met his wife five years ago, when she was 17 and he was a 27-year-old church youth counselor, Antonietti said. By then, Danner already had a string of felony convictions in Minnesota, including two burglary convictions in 1996, a 1996 lottery fraud conviction and a 2002 drug conviction.

The Chicago Sun-Times didn't name the Minnesota church that allowed Danner—a man with a string of felony convictions"—to serve as youth counselor/pimp to teenage congregants.

Diddy Wants a Soccer Team

Let these other entertainers become minority NBA team owners. Diddy wants a soccer team (or football as it’s called everywhere else). The Sun reports that the Puffster is thinking of purchasing London’s Crystal Palace team. Word is the team is presently in bad shape. They reportedly were docked 10 points by the Coca-Cola Championship league for their debts. Diddy plans to move the team to the Premiere League if he acquires the franchise.

Jackassery Patrol (Greenspan)

Now here's a good idea:

“The most pressing reform that needs fixing in the aftermath of the crisis, in my judgment, is the level of regulatory risk-adjusted capital,” Greenspan said in a paper prepared for a Brookings Institution conference today. “Adequate capital eliminates the need for an unachievable specificity in regulatory fine-tuning.”

Banks may need to hold capital equal to 14 percent of their assets, compared with about 10 percent in mid-2007 before the financial crisis, Greenspan said.
Really Alan?

Does the capital have to be real? That's the question, you know. Lehman allegedly had plenty of capital and plenty of cash too - $50 billion worth, in fact, that was allegedly "cash" on their balance sheet.

Oh wait - it wasn't real, was it? Well ok, it was real - for a day. Then it went right back to its lender and the garbage can full of used dogfood that they "tendered" to get the $50 billion came back to them!

This is the general problem with Greenspan's "solution" - all solutions for sound lending require regulators that are not corrupt, so when someone tries to pull a scam like that they get arrested and the scammer is outed so the investing public knows what's going on!

This means that FRBNY (and counterparties!) that become aware of such frauds must have a duty to report them. In this case we know for a fact that counterparties were aware of the problem and we have reason to believe from the narrative that FRBNY was. Yet nothing was done.

But we can't have that! Why if we had that happen then we'd be stuck with firms that couldn't hide risks off their balance sheets, we wouldn't have firms that claimed fictitious levels of cash, and we wouldn't have firms that claim HELOCs are all "money good" when behind underwater and defaulted first mortgages!

All of those sins are still occurring.

I agree that "more capital" solves most problems with banks. But the simplest way to do this is to set reasonable standards for excess capital (e.g. 6% Tier 1) and then enforce one dollar of capital (beyond that "last chance" reserve) for each dollar of unsecured lending.

The "last chance" reserve is thus present to cover the liquidation costs and insure that the FDIC doesn't have to cover anything. Bondholders and shareholders are fully exposed to being wiped out, of course.

If you take this approach then the problem disappears. A HELOC behind an underwater first is an unsecured loan, as the collateral is insufficient to cover the paper. Therefore, if a bank wants to hold a HELOC on a home where the first is underwater they must hold one dollar of capital for each dollar out in that HELOC. If the HELOC is then not paid for any reason, the bank is still secure and cannot go bust.

The question we have to ask is this: Do we really want a secure and sound banking system, or do we want a system that has to be bailed out every few years because at the end of the day too many people are crooked and we haven't busted enough of them for the crooks to be concerned about being arrested.

The Sestak Scandal: This Is “Draining The Swamp?”

By Howard Rich

In addition to promising an end to Republicans’ out-of-control spending, Democrats vowed to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington D.C. prior to winning their Congressional majorities in 2006. Of course that was just an entrée for the real “hope and change” to come, as Barack Obama stormed to victory in the presidential election two years later promising to “change Washington” – and cut taxes for a majority of Americans.

In both cases, Democrats positioned themselves to the right of Republicans on fiscal issues – which obviously wasn’t very hard to do given the GOP’s record of excess – and then hammered away relentlessly on Republican corruption. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, blasted a “seriously ethical and possibly criminal streak” in the GOP.

“An ethical cloud hangs over the Capitol,” Pelosi said in 2005. “This culture of corruption must stop.”

Yet now – just over a year into Obama’s first term (and over three years since the Democratic takeover of Congress), has that “culture of corruption” stopped?

Get full story here.

Small Government Advocates Must Not Lose Sight of EPA Ambitions

By Kevin J. Mooney

Even as the public remains understandably preoccupied with President Obama’s proposed government takeover of healthcare, it is imperative for free market activists to remain vigilant against environmental extremism.

In the past few months, the credibility of the “science” underpinning catastrophic claims of global warming have been sullied and discredited thanks to the growing “Climategate” scandal and updated research. However “inconvenient” these revelations may be from the perspective of centralized planners within the Obama Administration, it has not slowed their statist ambitions.

Consider for a moment the President’s remarks from his State of the Union address: “I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy,” he said. “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -- because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.”

Come again?! Regardless of what the evidence says, we are pressing ahead with “incentives” — make that regulations — that stymie fossil fuels in deference to so-called green technology. Meanwhile Russia and China are moving forward with oil and gas development that could leave the U.S. in the dust as it tinkers with unproven, unreliable “alternative” energy sources.

Get full story here.

All Politics is National: By Following Obama, Vulnerable House Democrats are Sealing their Own Fates

By William Warren

Despite the mainstream media’s attempts to downplay the national backlash against government-run health care, the word is out and the American people are clearly fed up with Barack Obama’s endless attempts to force “ObamaCare” down their throats.

The polling speaks for itself. The latest Rasmussen Reports survey indicates that a significant majority of Americans oppose the healthcare plan that the Democrat hegemony in Washington has proposed. This sentiment is clearly echoed in the latest Obama job approval poll from Gallup as well, in which the President finds himself firmly in hostile territory (47% disapprove, 46% approve).

Most interesting of all, however, is how this public opinion is playing out on a local level in places such as Benson, Arizona; Butler, Pennsylvania; or Southhaven, Mississippi. While the Democrats might be busy making a big splash in Washington, D.C., the ripples are being felt in places like these and many others across the nation. And the “ripples” are quite significant.

A recent batch of polling data regarding individual House Democrats in crucial swing districts indicates just how outraged their constituents are—and it all hinges on ObamaCare.

The polls, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research and commissioned by Americans for Limited Government, asked a sample of 400 voters in each district some very simple questions. The survey gauged voters’ overall views on health care reform, whether they would likely support a candidate who votes for health care reform, and whether they would likely support their specific Congressman should he or she vote for health care reform.

The results were overwhelmingly conclusive. In nearly every congressional district surveyed, voters made it clear that they do not support ObamaCare and will not vote for the incumbent Democrat should he or she vote in favor of ObamaCare. It’s almost insultingly obvious.

Simply put, never before has a single national issue played such an influential local role in district after district.

Get full story here.

Barnes & Noble promotes Lynch to CEO post; Steve Riggio to remain as vice chairman

Steve Riggio has signed off as CEO of bookseller Barnes & Noble to become the company's Vice Chairman. Replacing him at the helm will be William Lynch, who has heaps of experience in e-commerce under his belt and was previously President of B&N's main website ( The company also announced the promotion of COO Mitchell Klipper to chief executive of the company’s retail group, which encompasses the Barnes & Noble retail business and the Barnes & Noble College Booksellers business.


Feb leading indicators tick up; slow recovery seen

By Ruth Mantell
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- A slow recovery is expected this summer, and economic conditions will improve moderately in the near term, the Conference Board said Thursday. As expected by analysts, the index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1% in February, marking 11 consecutive gains, following an increase of 0.3% in January. The interest rate spread and real money supply made the largest positive contributions in February, while average weekly manufacturing hours and stock prices made the largest negative contributions. "Going forward, the big question remains the strength of demand," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. "Without increased consumer demand, job growth will likely be minimal over the next few months."

Last Night's American Idol Loser: A Beautiful Eulogy

We are gathered here today to remember the first vanquished contestant in American Idol’s Top 12. Veils down! Mascara running! Kara DioGuardi weeping into Simon Cowell’s chest before motorboating it! The voting public picked the wrong chirper, but contracts state that Randy Jackson must shoot somebody in the throat, and America voted for the following (wrong) victim. Spoiler ahead!

Lacey Brown

Legacy: Ms. Brown combined the chickadee coo of a Cracker Barrel waitstaff with the haircut of a professional babysitter. Her youthful reserve gave way to her old soul, and old everything. Since she’s 58. Or 62. The age where you give up fannypacks but don’t part with the Scooby Doo leather jacket. 66. Nice girl though.

We Will Miss Most: Her quest to sit down even during a standing-encouraged performance. The triumphant second chorus of “Ruby Tuesday” was no match for her floor-hungry ass. That was beginner sitting for her. She’d sit during a “Locomotion/Hokey Pokey/Jump Around” medley. She’d pop a squat during Flo Rida’s “Low” right at the start, when getting that low hasn’t occurred to most shorties yet. Then she’ll observe, “That’s weird, I was sitting down already,” with hurtful elitism.

What Could’ve Been: According to Lacey herself during last night’s episode, she considered a country career. I’d have loosened my rhinestone corset for a good cry during her “Before He Cheats” rendition. Ryan would’ve thrown to guest-judge Dolly Parton, who’d wait a beat and then sputter, “Wait a minute, wait a minuet. Lacey? Lacey BROWN? Lacey Brown, is that you?! Girl, it’s Dolly! You lived by Stony River Joe before the laws came! I remember the Pigeon Forge Margarine Dame Pageant like it was yesterday. Your bouquet of daisies and long rocks had even the clergy hooting, not to mention the children, from the crossroads on up to the basketball field. You had all the boys then, girl! And their ferret emblem handkerchiefs. (Wink.)”

Closing Remarks: Lacey Brown, you gifted us with many “tender dawg” moments, as the Unholy Rev. Randy Jackson might note, but you mostly gave us serviceable takes on classic karaoke jams. That’s all we really wanted. Well done, and happy hunting trails, Lady Bird.

Written by Louis Virtel

March Madness Betting Florida Gators vs. BYU Cougars

March Madness betting action is finally here! All of the action will kick off on Thursday afternoon when the BYU Cougars and Florida Gators officially start the NCAA Tournament just after 12:00 ET.

The Gators were considered a very questionable tournament team at best. At 21-12, the only thing that really got them into the field of 65 was a few quality out of conference wins and a respectable SEC record. Nothing was overly alarming though.

BYU's 29-5 mark was very respectable though, as the Cougars were consistently one of the top two teams in a conference that has sent four teams to the field of 65.

Both teams crashed out of their conference tournaments prematurely by their standards, but both will look to make amends with a victory in their first March Madness games this year.

#10 Florida Gators (21-12, 15-13 ATS) vs. #7 BYU Cougars (29-5, 18-13 ATS)

College Basketball Odds:
Florida Gators +5
BYU Cougars -5
Game Total 147

Florida doesn't have a particularly deep squad, and it might ultimately cost it a shot at advancing in this tournament. The starting five plays a ton of minutes and scored virtually all the points on this team.

The bench is only producing 11.0 points per game for HC Billy Donovan's team, making it one of the lowest scoring benches in the entire nation.

The blue and orange must strive for consistency at the offensive end of the court, particularly against a team like BYU that can fly. UF has averaged just 68.3 points per game in its L/4, and went just 1-3 SU in those four outings (2-2 ATS).

Trying to figure out how to stop F Jimmer Fredette is going to be a tough task as well. Fredette, who is averaging 21.7 points per game this year, scored 75 points combined in his L/2 battles in the MWC Tournament. He has a knack for getting to the foul line (36 attempts in his L/2 games) and is fantastic when he gets there (35/36 in those two games and 89.6 percent for the season).

He's the catalyst for an offense which is scoring a whopping 83.0 points per game this year, #2 in the entire country. The Cougars also play respectable defense, allowing just 65.2 points per game, and they're one of the few teams in the land that is shooting better from beyond the arc (42.0%) than it is allowing opposing teams to shoot from the floor (40.7%).

College Basketball Insider Betting Tip: The Cougars are 7-2 ATS in their L/9 games as college basketball betting favorites.

BYU has had a bad history early in this tournament of late. The Cougars haven't advanced out of the first round of any national postseason tourney since the '02 NIT, and they only missed one postseason in that stretch.

Still, this is their year. It's pretty well accepted that Florida is overrated as a #10 seed and that BYU is underrated as a #7. This is probably the best BYU squad since the Rafael Araujo days, and wasting this type of talent with a first round upset defeat isn't an option.

Expect the Cougs to march on easily.

“Attention Walmart Customers: All Black People Leave The Store Now”

Someone got hold of the public address system at a Washington Township, New Jersey Walmart store Sunday night and asked “all black people” to leave the store. (via Oliver Willis).

Company spokeswoman Ashley Hardie says the incident was “unacceptable.” The retailer is looking to prevent it from happening in the future.

Washington Township police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office also are investigating.

Management apologized, although it’s unclear how someone got possession of the public address system.

Alex Chilton of Big Star Dead at 59

Alex Chilton, the singer, songwriter and guitarist best known for his work in the Box Tops and Big Star, has passed away. According to Memphis' Commercial Appeal, the 59-year-old died at a New Orleans hospital from what is believed to have been a heart attack.

Chilton, a Memphis native, rose to fame at only 16 years old when the Box Tops had a chart-topping hit with 'The Letter' in 1967. After the group split in 1970, Chilton helped form rock-pop group Big Star, consisting of several Memphis-area musicians.

Though Big Star never achieved major chart success, their first three albums -- '#1 Record,' 'Radio City' and 'Third/Sister' -- have been lauded by critics and discovered by a new generation of fans. The band split in 1974 and reunited in 1993, eventually releasing their fourth studio album, 'In Space,' in 2005, with Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens as the only original members remaining. Last September, Rhino Records released a 98-song box set, 'Keep an Eye on the Sky,' featuring Big Star's greatest hits as well as rarities and unreleased demos.

"It's obvious to anybody that listens to his live performances or his body of recorded work, his tremendous talent as a vocalist and songwriter and instrumentalist," John Fry, who worked with the band and founded the Ardent label, told Commercial Appeal. "Beyond the musical talent, he was an interesting, articulate and extremely intelligent person. I don't think you'd ever have a conversation with him of any length that you didn't learn something completely new."

Big Star was scheduled to play SXSW this Saturday. Chilton is survived by his wife, Laura, and son, Timothy.