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Archive for January, 2010

Thank You Mr. President

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Thank you Mr. President.  President Obama’s State of the Union address relieved some of my jitters. As the captain of  our ship, President Obama  reassured us that we are not lost in the storm.  He assured us that we are on the right course, even if it doesn’t appear so right now.   It’s always darkest before the day.

Obama stressed that we as Americans do not lose hope in hard times. We keep on pushing to get the job done.  He needed to address the lightening bolt speed in which we now expect results. Rome was not built in a day. The mess we’re in will not go away in one either.  Intellectually that may be true. Emotionally we need results sooner rather than later. Sometime this year some job relief must be seen. It must be measurable results.  President Obama spoke long and hard about jobs. Yes, he’s listening to us.

I was glad to hear him say that no one was pleased about bailing out Wall Street and the banks. He likened it to having a root canal. He clearly felt our pain on that one. As far as General Motors and Chrysler, he and I will just have an agreement to disagree. I want to hear and see him do for regular Americans what he did for Wall Street and the others. Bail us out too.

Obama acknowledged that  he can’t go it alone. We need help across the party aisles. We also can’t do it without President Obama becoming a little, no a lot more involved in the process. I hope he has seen by now he cannot just let Congress and the Senate alone to their own devises.  He cannot just show up at the last minute to attempt to right a wrong path, as was done in health care legislation. Regardless of separation of powers, he needs to be more hands on with our legislators. He owes us that. When adults act like children, you have to adjust your pattern. And yes, our legislators act like children.  In President Obama’s words, “just saying no to everything” is not good leadership. It’s what a two year old does every day.

I was happy to hear about reducing student loans in payment amount and repayment time. No one should be impoverished just because they received a higher education. I’ve been shocked to hear the monthly payment on some students loans equal a mortgage payment  or more.

I chuckled at his idea of America doing more exporting. No offense but we need to improve the quality and the way we make our goods before more countries will want to buy them. There is a reason why we lose some jobs overseas. That one is a little more complicated to fix overnight or in 4 years.

Our journey to recovery is going to take longer. It will still be painful for us. Yet, I feel hopeful that help is on the way.  Only time will tell the story.



Sunday, January 24th, 2010

A year ago, I stood in awe as I watched President Obama being sworn in as our first African American president. I listened intently as he spoke about change and hope coming to America.  A year later, I’m wondering whether President Obama is listening to us.

Now I know change means different things to different people.  In the past year, I’ve seen bail outs for Wall Street, banks, General Motors and Chrysler. Is this the change we needed?  Where is the bail out for Main Street? Change has come to America. It’s just not the change I signed on for. To use the words of President Obama, “let me be clear” that’s not the change I was expecting. I want change in areas of  increased jobs, lower unemployment rates, homes for the homeless, foreclosure relief, affordable health care and consumer bank and credit card relief to name a few.

I know we live in a society where we want everything at broadband lightening speed. I didn’t expect change to happen overnight.   Although it appears change did happen overnight for General Motors, Chrysler, banks and Wall Street.  But I did expect some measure of change in a year. Was that too much or too soon to ask for?

Jobless rates rose in 43 states in December, 2009. New Jersey’s rate rose to the highest in 33 years.  Home foreclosure filings of default notices, bank repossessions or auction sale notices were up 14 percent in December, 2009 from November.  Overall, it was a 15 percent increase from a year ago. Experts estimate about one in every 366 households has received a foreclosure filing.  That’s a lot.  A year ago in January 2009, employers slashed 598,800 jobs off US payrolls.  In December, 2009, the country lost 524,000 jobs. President Obama acknowledged that behind these statistics are “real lives, real suffering and real fear”.  Health care reform is now on life support.

President Obama’s inauguration speech acknowledged that our economy was weakened, jobs have been shed, homes have been lost, and health care is too costly. He acknowledged that the state of our economy called for bold and swift action and new jobs.

The poor state of our economy was inherited from eight years of the Bush Administration.  President Bush definitely left us in a quandary. Now, the ball is in President Obama’s hand. He must dribble, pass, make a play and score. A year later, I am still in awe of President Obama. I just want him to make things right for the average Joe and Jane.  President Obama are you listening? You’ve got to do whatever is necessary to get us where we need to be. It needs to be done with all deliberate speed.

As we approach President Obama’s first State of the Union address, I’m still waiting with bated breath for change to still come to America. I hope that it will come soon.



Guns and Gilbert Are No Laughing Matter

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

At age 28, Gilbert Arenas is learning that guns are no laughing  matter.  Arenas entered a guilty plea on January 15, 2010 to a felony charge for carrying an unregistered gun into the District.  This charge carries a maximum of 5 years. He could have been charged with four felony counts for the four guns he brought to the Verizon Center locker room.  He might have received a misdemeanor charge had he not already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in California.  Gilbert’s been around the block more than once on gun charges. 

All of this started when Arenas allegedly jokingly placed 4 guns with a note to Wizards player Crittenton to pick one.  He continued laughing, joking, shucking and jiving about the gun issue until Commissioner   Stern pulled the plug on him. He was suspended indefinitely for his continued gun playing shenanigans. Before suspension, Arenas jokingly stated he feared Commissioner Stern more than the prosecutor.  Obviously, Arenas valued his livelihood and his $111 million dollar contract more than his liberty.  Unfortunately what he failed to realize is the two are intricately linked together. 

At his sentencing on March 26, 2010 the prosecutor will seek no more than 6 months jail time. The judge could give him anywhere from probation to   up to 5 years. Let’s see if Arenas will be able to dodge a bullet on the jail time.  All joking aside, I doubt it. Judge Morin is likely to give Arenas a split sentence with some jail time followed by a lengthy period of probation, a fine and community service.  He will have plenty of time on his hands to do any community service.

Will his $111 million contract be voided? By all accounts, it looks like his contract is already voided.  All signs of Arenas are gone from the Verizon Center. Gilbert has already left the building.   All that’s left is the formal announcement.   The Wizards are waiting for the appropriate moment to announce their divorce from Gilbert.  But make no mistake the train has already left the station without Arenas on it.

After pleading guilty Arenas must face the music of the NBA and Commissioner Stern. Stern as his name implies will probably issue a harsh sanction against Arenas. The NBA will want to deliver the two punch suspension. But, the NBA should not impose a suspension or sanction greater than what is required under the circumstances. Arenas should not be used to set an example to other players.  He will already miss the rest of this season, probably lose his remaining $80 million contract and may serve jail time. If that happens, it should inflict enough pain.

But Gilbert Arenas in the long run has only himself to blame. After March 26, 2010, let’s see who’s left laughing about guns.

Did Senator Harry Reid Miss the Post Racial Memo?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Senator Harry Reid ( D. Nevada)  must have missed the post racial memo. You know the one that says we are in a post racial society. Senator Reid admittedly said during the 2008 campaign that President Obama, was a “light skinned African American” “ with no Negro dialect”.   A white man using the word “Negro” when speaking about an African American in 2008 doesn’t sound complimenatary to me. Reid claims the comments  were said off the record or doing a private conversation.  I would have loved to heard the tone of his comments.  They probably sounded like a throw back to the 1960’s. His comments about President Obama reflect the times we live in now.  We are not post racial in the eyes of Senator Reid.

Senator John Cornyn ( R. Texas) and those calling for Senator Reid to resign are being disingenuous. If every white politician who made inappropriate racial comments resigned, we’d probably have very few, if any, politicians left.  I do not condone Senator Reid’s racially inappropriate comments nor those of any other politician. What bothers me the most are those who speak and engage in conduct that is racially insensitive, inappropriate and against the law.

Unfortunately Senator Reid is not alone in his non-post racial attitude. Senator Reid is joined by the Cambridge police department and  Cambridge police officer responsible for arresting Professor Henry “Skip” Gates. Remember Professor Gates was arrested in allegedly post racial 2009 by a white Cambridge police officer at his house. The crime he committed was failing to remember “who’s the boss” when it comes to African Americans and white police officers, even if you are committing no crime while standing inside your own home. Of course the charges were later dropped but the humiliation remained.

Speaking of police, the US Capitol Police has been battling an almost 9 year old lawsuit filed against it for racially discriminatory practices and hostile work place environment.

In 2009, a lawsuit filed in 2001 by over 270 US Capitol black police officers was allowed to proceed forward after previously being dismissed.  The Capitol police protect the Congressional buildings, lawmakers and visitors on Capitol Hill. Some of the serious allegations raised in the racially charged lawsuit are:

  • Use of racial slurs against black officers referring to them as “gangsters” and white officers who befriend them as “FOG’s” or friends of gangsters
  • Hangman’s noose and swastika-like symbols found on lockers of African American officers
  • Use of the term “bear hunting’ to mean writing up black officers for anything at all
  • Using racial epithets, the “N” word and  telling racial jokes around black officers;
  • Using the term “boy” when referring to African American officers
  • According to affidavit, a white lieutenant reportedly said in reference to a black officer applying for a K-9 Unit that “ The nigger already has a badge and a gun and he thinks he’s gonna get a dog”
  • Giving African American officers less desirable assignments and units
  • Promoting whites with less seniority over blacks

The Congressional Black Caucus has called the matter a national disgrace that their own Capitol police force are being confronted with issues of racial discrimination of such magnitude. During President Obama’s inauguration, 2 veteran white Capitol police officers were suspended from working the inauguration due to alleged suspected activity with racially insensitive groups. Apparently, the US Capitol police didn’t get the post racial memo yet.

Just last week, the NAACP filed a lawsuit against US Airways for allegedly creating a hostile work environment for African Americans.  The law suit alleges US Airways used racially coded words to describe some African Americans such as “The Ghetto”, “The Hood” and assigned them to smaller markets with large black populations.

So no Senator Harry Reid is not alone in failing to get and read the post racial memo. Apparently, US Airways, the US Capitol Police responsible for protecting Capitol Hill and lawmakers, the Cambridge Police Department and countless others failed to read the post racial memo. I don’t think one really exists.

Wild Wild West Gilbert Arenas Is Without The Wizards

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

If the gun proponents have their way, DC could become the gun toting wild wild west. Wizards player Gilbert Arenas could be their poster boy. Fortunately we are not there yet. On December 21, 2009 Gilbert Arenas brought 4 guns to the Wizards locker room. He claims he needed to get them out of his home and away from his children. So he brought them to work around players and fans. He called everything a joke or a prank involving an alleged confrontation with another player. He thought the DC laws allowed him to bring guns.  What’s even stranger is that former owner Abe Pollin changed the team’s name from the Bullets to the Wizards out of his opposition to gun violence.  No offense but Abe Pollin is probably turning over in his grave right about now. 

Gilbert’s incident is no laughing matter.  The NBA has a clause in its contracts forbidding guns at arenas, locker rooms or any promotional appearances.  Permanent repercussions could come from the NBA league against Arenas. The US Attorney’s Office is convening a Grand Jury to investigate to see if any DC hand gun laws were broken. An indictment could be issued. And unfortunately for Arenas, ignorance of the law is never an excuse.  As recently as January 5, 2010, Arenas has been laughing and joking over the entire matter. Guns are no joke. They kill, maim and injure persons. Arenas fails to realize his livelihood or liberty could be at stake.  He says he feels no remorse because he doesn’t feel he did anything wrong. He even called Commissioner Stern “mean”.  

Well, Commissioner David Stern apparently decided enough is enough. So Gilbert Arenas who turned 28 on Wednesday, January 6 got a birthday present from NBA Commissioner Stern. The Commissioner indefinitely suspended Arenas.  It’s clear that Arenas has shot himself in the foot by shooting off his mouth. Hopefully he’s not mortally wounded by his own actions. Maybe now Arenas will have the time on his hands to ponder the seriousness of the incident and his response to it.  In the interim, he could always  go work for the NRA (National Rifle Association).