Monday, March 28, 2011

The Next Great Black Exodus

Last week, Charles M. Blow, New York Times op-ed columnist grappled with the new census numbers showing that more black people are leaving urban areas for the suburbs. Though many factors have been pointed to, to explain this shift, Blow fingers a far more insidious culprit.

Read his take on this exodus at The New York Times

Government Shutdown Looms

From the Wall Street Journal:
The White House and Democratic lawmakers, with less than two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown, are assembling a proposal for roughly $20 billion in additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to people close to the budget talks.
That would come on top of $10 billion in cuts that Congress has already enacted and would represent a deeper reduction than the Obama administration and Senate Democrats had offered previously in negotiations. But it isn't clear that would be enough to satisfy Republicans, who initially sought $61 billion in spending cuts and face pressure from tea-party activists not to compromise....
The Treasury Department this week is likely to issue an updated report on when it expects the ceiling on the federal debt will have to be increased; its most recent estimate was that the borrowing limit would be reached between April 15 and the end of May. ...
Anticipating tough tea-party opposition to raising the debt limit, Senate Republicans are planning soon to mount a new push for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget, which may be unveiled soon after Congress reconvenes this week.

posted by Social Security News

Video: Gaddafi's hometown seized by rebels - reports euronews

Erdogan Warns Libya Can Turn into another Iraq, Afghanistan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Sunday that the ongoing conflict in Libya could turn the country into a “second Iraq” or “another Afghanistan”, the Guardian reported.

"When western forces entered Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, people were talking of it being over in days, and people said the same in Iraq. We don't want to see a similar picture in Libya," Erdogan said.

The premier also warned the current “civil war” in Libya could have serious consequences for NATO countries involved in the crisis.

Erdogan said Turkey is ready to broker a ceasefire in Libya, stating that negotiations with Gaddafi's government and the opposition-founded Transitional National Council are being done right now, but emphasized Gaddafi must “provide some confidence” practically.

Commenting on the western coalition air strikes on Libya, Erdogan said they “will be devastating for the entire Libyan people, and the repercussions will not be restricted to Libya, but will have a direct impact on those countries that have intervened."

Hosni Mubarak and family are under house arrest in Egypt

President Hosni Mubarak - Under house arrest

CAIRO, March 28, 2011 (AFP) – Ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family are under house arrest, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said on its website Monday, denying that the former leader had fled to Saudi Arabia. ”There is no truth to reports that former president Hosni Mubarak has left Egypt for Tabuk in Saudi Arabia,” the country’s military rulers said in a statement on Facebook. ”He is under house arrest, with his family, in Egypt,” it said. The council has ruled Egypt since Mubarak was forced to quit on February 11 after 18 days of massive street protests against his 30-year autocratic regime.

On March 3, Egypt’s prosecutor general denied media reports that Mubarak was in Saudi Arabia, insisting that he was at the family retreat in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Media reports suggested that Mubarak had gone to Tabuk to receive medical treatment. The state-owned daily Al-Akhbar claimed Mubarak, 82, was receiving medical treatment for cancer.

Troy Davis Appeal Denied – Execution Date Could Loom

Posted by: Brian Evans,
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Troy Davis’ appeals and set the stage for him to possibly face a fourth execution date.  Davis will not be allowed to challenge the August 2010 ruling of the federal district court judge that he failed to establish his innocence, nor will he be able to challenge the standard used to make that ruling.

Doubts about Davis’ guilt, of course, have not been resolved, as most of the witnesses used to convict him continue to maintain that their trial testimony was false and, in many cases, coerced by Savannah police. 

With such witnesses as virtually the only evidence, the case against Troy Davis was always thin, but, ironically, that has meant that, once convicted, Davis has had little to drawn on to prove his innocence.  Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, but, especially in this case, where the evidence available to establish either guilt or innocence is so flimsy, an execution would be a terrible miscarriage of justice.

Message to O.

"After two years of being called a tyrant and a dictator, President Obama returns to Washington from a five-day overseas trip to find he has become a weakling.

Would-be opponents such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Sarah Palin had been trying out this somewhat contradictory line of attack for more than a month as Obama gave mixed signals about events in Egypt and Libya. But the "weak leader" charge gained traction last weekend as Obama chose to launch the attack on Moammar Gadhafi's forces while on an excellent adventure with his family in South America.

At about the moment the Tomahawk missiles began to rain down on Libya, Obama was joking with Brazilians about Carnival, the World Cup, and the Olympics. Rather than an Oval Office address announcing the new war, Americans got word from the president in a scratchy audio recording. As warheads pounded Libyan forces, Obama was kicking a soccer ball, seeing the sights, and watching cowboys in sequins.

It was perilously close to George W. Bush's "The Pet Goat" moment, when he continued reading a children's storybook after being told the second World Trade Center tower had been hit. Bush later said he was trying to maintain calm. Likewise, White House officials tell me the decision to proceed with the South America trip was made in part to convey that the Libya bombardment was not a major military action.

Weak or stubborn?
Obama administration officials calculated that he would take a hit. But they appear to have been surprised by the force of the weakling complaint, coming not just from usual suspects such as Karl Rove, but from liberals such as my Washington Post colleague Richard Cohen, who saw Obama "quite literally distancing himself from the consequences of his own policy."

My own sense, based on years of Obamology and confirmed by discussions with current and former Obama advisers, is that Obama's decision to proceed with spring break in Rio comes less from weakness than from stubbornness. Since his earliest days on the campaign trail in Iowa, he has made clear his aversion to the flavor-of-the-day news cycle, instead measuring his progress toward a few broad-brush goals. If something - such as the uprisings in the Middle East - doesn't fit unambiguously within his big goals, his instinct is to brush it off.

"I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle," he told reporters once. "I'm not. OK?"

Laser focus
This worked to his benefit during the campaign, when he kept his focus on electoral mechanics rather than the vagaries of his opponents' attacks. But his broad brushes have not always served him well in the presidency, as when his laser focus on health care left voters with the sense that he didn't care about unemployment. He lost the House, and with it the rest of his agenda.

The attack on Libya presented the toughest test yet of Obama's defiance of the news cycle. In a USA Today op-ed before his departure, Obama wrote that while the Middle East is important, he was going to Latin America because "our top priority has to be creating and sustaining new jobs and new opportunities."

The administration officials I spoke with argued that this was a sign of strong leadership. "To abandon course at every moment of pundit criticism is not strength," said one of the president's top advisers. They pointed to polls showing most Americans continue to regard Obama as a strong leader, and they argued that, beyond Washington, headlines from Obama's trip justified his strategy. ("Obama's trip to Brazil key to N.J. businesses," reported North Jersey's Record.)

But the White House is also discovering the perils of broad-brush leadership. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll found that when Americans were asked who is taking "a stronger leadership role," Republicans had a seven-point advantage over Obama; three months ago, Obama had a narrow lead.

The White House justifiably complains that the criticism of Obama's Libya policy has been inconsistent: First he was too slow to take action, and now he's rushing to attack without congressional approval - even though Congress is on its own 10-day spring break.

But it doesn't matter if the criticism is fair. Obama left a vacuum, and his opponents filled it. For a president suddenly called "weak," such is the tyranny of the news cycle." [Source]

O, I have to agree with Dana Milbank: You are acting as if A-merry-ca still loves you. She does not. You were the flavor of a November month when A-merry-cans were being...well, A-merry-cans. This is, after all, the country that made "Snooki" famous. If you want to win in this country, you have to get out in front of the story. Do not let the story get in front of you. Do not give your political opponents an opening so that they can create their own story.

We all know that if you were a republican president the wingnuts would be calling you a hero. We all know that the pretzel- logic they are using to say that you were wrong to join the UN and other countries (such as the African Union) to attack Libya is laughably ludicrous. But this is politics in A-merry-ca. This is what you came from, so you have to deal with it. I just wonder why no one in your inner circle told you this before

BTW, in the future, you might want to work on your soccer skills before you go kicking a soccer ball with a bunch of Brazilian kids. They are kind of good at that game.

Bill Ayers claims again that he wrote Barack Obama’s book

The domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, still wanted for questioning in San Francisco in the bombing death of a police officer, spoke at Montclair State University in New Jersey Thursday night.

Tea Party activists made up at least half of the audience and questioned Ayers on a number of issues.

The most startling revelation of the night was his claim that he wrote “Dreams from My Father”, Barack Obama’s first book.

A reporter recounts the exchange:
The most astounding thing that Ayers said came toward the end of the question-and-answer session. A local Tea Party member asked Ayers to comment on the quality of Obama’s autobiography, Dreams of my Father. Ayers said,
I think [Dreams] was a very good book, but [Obama's] second book is a prize example of political hackery. And by the way, I wrote that first book.
The participant asked,
You wrote that?
Ayers replied:
You help me prove that, and I’ll split the royalties with you.

More coverage here and here.
This is not the first time Bill Ayers has claimed to be the author of “Dreams of My Father”.  He made the same claim in October of 2009!

Gates: Attacking Libya Was Not a ‘Vital Interest’ to the US

Sunday March 27, 2011 10:16 AM - One Comment
robert-gatesLibya was not an imminent threat to the United States when the president ordered the American military to participate in airstrikes against Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said today.

“No, no. It was not,” Gates said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about. The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake.”

Gates said that the no-fly zone had been established and the Libyan leader’s forces have been pushed back, and he said the U.S. forces that have command and control of the strikes were preparing to step back after a little more than one week.

“We and the Department of Defense are already beginning to do our planning in terms of beginning to draw down resources,” Gates said. “First from support of the no-fly zone and then from the humanitarian mission. Now that may not start in the next day or two, but I certainly expect it to in the very near future.”

NATO will be taking over the lead role in the next step, which is protecting Libyan civilians, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

“What is quite remarkable here is that NATO assuming the responsibility for the entire mission means that the United States will move to a supporting role,” Clinton said. “Just as our allies are helping us in Afghanistan where we bear the disproportionate amount of sacrifice and the cost, we are supporting a mission through NATO that was very much initiated by European requests joined by Arab requests.”
{The Hill/ Newscenter}