Category: Prime Politics Written by Bankole Thompson
President Barack Obama is set to be in metro Detroit next week, April 18, to take part in two major fundraisers for his 2012 reelection battle against likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Obama is already leading Romney in Michigan, a state that is not a surety for Democrats in this election cycle.
But the weight of what promises to be a gruelling 2012 presidential campaign is already weighing in on the campaign to reelect President Obama.
Aside from making history as the nation’s first Black president after a bruising 2008 campaign, the question now is, can the man who said “Yes We Can” pull it off in November?
Can he win reelection in a rancorous political climate where the economy is slowly recovering and the fate of his landmark health care law is now being decided by the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court?
In private lunch and dinner meetings with some top Democratic and White House officials, Democrats are very concerned about their message in this campaign season, and are treading cautiously.
While some top Dems and those who work for the president are convinced that Romney – if he is the nominee – can be defeated, they also are not forgetful of the fact that the nation that reelected George W. Bush can do the unthinkable. That though the Republican candidates seemed on the surface to be unelectable, it still doesn’t exempt the GOP from a real shot at the White House.
So in a very real sense Democrats are not taking the president’s reelection chances lightly even if their current behavior suggests the opposite.
If the U.S. Supreme Court bans the health care legislation, it would create a momemtum for both Republicans and Democrats to energize their base. While Republicans will champion it as a triumph for individual liberty, Obama can use it as campaign fuel by running against both Congress and the Supreme Court.
Obama senior campaign advisor David Axelrod said the campaign strategy in 2012 will be to show how Romney is disconnected from the middle class and the rest of the nation. This despite the fact that a Washington Post early poll shows Romney ahead of the president on who best can handle the economy.
While there is nothing serious to read in early polls, it still signals a tough battle for the Obama campaign because this time around they are facing a different candidate, and the leader of the free world is running as an incumbent, not as a Washington outsider.
Michigan is among those states that will help determine how the presidential pendulum swings on the road to Election Day. And Detroit, the state’s largest Democratic constituency, is crucial in that campaign.
With Obama’s visit, Democrats in the state are expecting to raise almost a million dollars from the two functions.
The first fundraiser is at the Henry Ford Museum, where the tickets starts at $250. To join the fundraising dinner and receive a photo, the cost is $5,000. Anyone interested in being part of the “VIP rope line” must pay up to $1000.
The second fundraiser will take place at the home of University of Michigan Board of Regents member Denise Ilitch and Jim Scalici in Bingham Farms. The ticket for that event is $40,000 per person for a formal photo, dinner and the cocktail reception, and $10,000 per person for dinner and a candid photo.
Detroiter Simone Lightfoot, a campaign veteran, said she would like to “see Obama here in a presidential role to help us with the challenges we are facing. It’s one thing to raise money, it’s another thing to enlist the support of the people so they can feel like you are helping them on the ground.”
Lightfoot said Detroit is facing many challenges politically as well as basic human rights matters.
“I’ve love for him to weave that into his remarks as he receives contributions,” Lightfoot said.
It makes sense that Obama is making his 11th trip to the state and raising money, because the campaign needs to make an early impression on not only its base but also on independents and women.
The Republican orchestrated war on women is a Christmas gift for Democrats, if only they know how to utilize the politics of contraception by separating fact from fiction and letting women know exactly what is at stake.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 16:19
Category: Prime Politics Written by Hansen Clarke
Our fight for voting rights was supposed to have ended decades ago. Yet, right here in Detroit in 2012, it’s a fight that still continues. If the city of Detroit is taken over by a state emergency manager as part of an agreement to restore the city’s finances, our people will lose a fundamental and hard-won right: to choose their own leaders.
Let’s keep control of our city.
Last week, I presented a plan called The Detroit Growth and Stability Act in the U.S. Congress that would enable us to do just that. It would provide up to $500 million in federal loans for Detroit to overcome the current crisis and get back on solid financial footing. This bill would ensure that all of our rights are preserved. It would ensure that our elected leaders are able carry out our will.
Just as importantly, it would help Detroit ensure real recovery by investing in our people. I reject the idea put forward by politicians in Washington and Lansing that the only way out of the crisis is by slashing budgets for essential programs and services. If the city is forced to address the crisis by cutting police officers and funding for roads and buildings, crime will rise and businesses will flee. If the city guts basic services and breaks union contracts, we’ll lose more of our population. All this would make our city’s financial situation worse.
I’m calling for investment rather than abandonment. The plan I’ve proposed is a proven solution. Back in the 1970s, a similar plan for New York City (which was then a city facing troubles much like our own) proved successful. With stable city finances and a stronger economy — led by the rebirth of manufacturing — we can rise to any challenge.
I believe in the people of Detroit. I am asking the nation to believe in us as well.
Hansen Clarke, Democrat, is a U.S. representative for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 April 2012 01:16
Category: Prime Politics Written by Debra Walker
When I was growing up, right and left indicated which shoe to put on which foot. And red and blue were the primary colors of our flag. While different, they were not approached as opposites, in a confrontational manner. Today, right and left designate political leanings. Red and blue identify a state as Democrat or Republican. Then, of course, there is that Senate and Congressional ‘aisle’ that no one, yet everyone, wants to cross. We have created so many divisions that have increased our ignorance and intolerance. We tend to listen and read only those who share our beliefs and goals. We are continuously the choir listening to the preacher. When we should be reading, watching and paying attention to all sides. Ignoring only leads to ignorance. If you are a Liberal, it might be tough to listen to Limbaugh and O’Reilly. Conservatives may have a hard time watching Maddow and Oberman. But it is essential. Wherever you lean, go where the other side goes. Observe their rallies. Learn what they are teaching. Listen to their radio shows. Watch them on television. Read their blogs. “Fore warned is fore armed.” As you use the internet, make it a habit to check at least three sites before forming decisions about an issue. Knowledge is power. And as we have our passionate arguments and disagreements in barber shops, hair salons, in hall ways, or party stores, it is necessary that we respectfully share our [fact-based] ideas and thoughts with all sides.
Much of the rhetoric, on both sides, stems from the lack of complete information. In today’s fast paced, 24 hour news environment, everyone lives on sound bites. There is no effort spent in discovering the full story – the whole truth. So many issues are addressed with words taken out of context, or without fact checking. Ron Paul continues to talk about Planned Parenthood’s greatest mission being that of performing abortions. This has been proven not to be the case. The testimony by the Georgetown University student, about the need for her school’s medical insurance to cover female birth control, has been discussed ad nauseum, with the basis of those dialogues being nowhere near the real issue. Pundits keep saying she wants tax payers to pay for her contraception. This has nothing to do with taxes. It has everything to do with insurance companies covering female birth control just as they do vasectomies and Viagra, and recognizing that contraception is used in treating numerous female health issues, beyond birth control. Another concern is the concept of global warming being a hoax. You don’t have to read “Scientific America” to know that this is a very real phenomenon. Neil DeGrasse Tyson (cool African-American Astrophysicist) says, “If you don’t believe what the humans are saying, just watch the animals and the change in their migration patterns.” Also, let us not forget Newt Gingrich stating the lack of need for good public education, and that poor children should just become janitors and laborers, because they have no role models to teach them a good work ethic. Whether we like it or not, free speech gives voice to all opinions, and is a tenet of our foundation. We all have a right to be heard.
And it is also all right to disagree with the President. He is not perfect. It is how we choose to display that disagreement that determines whether or not we are heard. Some have been downright disrespectful, calling him a snob and a liar. There is a reverence that comes with the office of President that should be respected no matter who holds the position. That respect includes letting him know when we think he is wrong, as well as when we think he is right.
We should teach our children the correct foot on which to place their shoes. They should be shown how to color our beautiful flag. There should be no aisles in the classroom. And if aisles are necessary, it is essential that there is representation from a diverse group on all sides. If we don’t purport these divisions, maybe we can help mold a generation that sits together and sees only one flag moving forward, with tolerance and respect for all ideas.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:16
Category: Prime Politics Written by Valerie Jarrett
It has been two years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, and already the new law is improving the lives of African-Americans.
Since March 2009, more than 2.4 million African-American seniors with Medicare have received free preventive services such as diabetes screenings. About 410,000 more African- American young adults who would otherwise be uninsured gained coverage due to the law. In addition, 5.5 million African-Americans with private health insurance now have coverage for preventive services without paying an extra penny at their doctor’s office.
And 10.4 million African-Americans with private insurance coverage no longer face lifetime limits thanks to the new health care law - in other words, your insurance company can no longer drop your coverage at a time when you need it most.
Behind each of these are statistics are stories of mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors, who are healthier because of the new law. I know firsthand that the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference in people’s lives. When my daughter, Laura, was between school and a new job, she was able to go on my insurance plan thanks to the new health care law.
Vanessa Mishkit is a nurse in Tampa, Florida, who knows firsthand what it’s like to go up against insurance companies on behalf of her child.
The new health care law will also make health care more accessible in the African-American communities most in need. Nearly 26 percent of patients served by community health centers in 2010 were African-American, and the Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to those centers in all 50 states. They currently serve more than 19 million patients, and by 2015, because of the health care law, they will be able to serve millions more.
The Affordable Care Act has also helped triple the number of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps since President Obama took office. The Corps is a network of primary care providers serving areas of significant need and helps medical students pay back their loans in exchange for their service.
Finally, the new health care law is helping to level the playing field and eliminate health disparities, a key priority for the Obama administration. Today, African-Americans are less likely to have health insurance than Americans as a whole. They are also less likely to have access to a primary care physician and less likely to receive high quality care.
Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, the average African-American child is twice as likely to be hospitalized from asthma and more than four times as likely to die from it.
The Affordable Care Act takes steps to change all this. The Department of Health and Human Services has developed and is implementing the first-ever department-wide Action Plan to Reduce Health Disparities. The new health care law is providing new tools and resources to put the plan into action, including upgrading data collection standards to better understand and ultimately get rid of gaps in the quality of health and health care across groups.
Over the next few years, the health care law will introduce new tools that will make a huge difference in the lives of millions of African-Americans, expanding access to health coverage to 34 million Americans, including nearly seven million African-Americans. Starting in 2014, Affordable Insurance Exchanges will serve as a one-stop marketplace for Americans, new tax credits will help families buy coverage, and Medicaid will be expanded to cover more low-income Americans.
Of course, we still have a great deal of work to do to make sure every American has access to affordable, quality care, and eliminating health disparities entirely is a goal that will take a great deal of time to achieve. But each and every day, we are making progress, and we will continue to do so, until all Americans have the care and security they deserve.
Valerie Jarrett is a White House senior adviser.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 17:01
Category: Prime Politics Written by Denise Stewart
The Selma-to-Montgomery march concluded on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, but organizers say their fight in the causes for which they have marched will not end.
For six days now, marchers have trekked from Selma, about 54 miles, to Montgomery in hopes of focusing the nation’s attention on voting rights, worker’s rights, immigration rights, labor rights and education.
“The next step is litigation,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and leader of the National Action Network. “We’re going to start going to these 34 states where they have enacted discriminatory voter identification laws, and we will challenge the laws in court.”
Sharpton made the statement to BlackAmericaweb.com, as a he took a brief break from the march.
In some states, early voting has been eliminated, mostly through the actions of Republican-controlled legislatures. In other states, there have been new requirements for using state-issued identification in order to vote.
The tough voter ID laws in several states could greatly reduce the number of potential voters in upcoming elections, said the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“More than 5 million African-Americans in this country do not have the photo ids required for voting in some states,” Jackson told BlackAmericaweb.com. “In Texas, students can use a gun license as identification for voting, but they can’t use their student ID cards to meet the voting requirement.”
“We must do two things,” Jackson continued. “We must call on the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene to protect the legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and we must occupy the polls.”
Jackson said an alarming number of African-Americans who could vote are not registered.
“In Alabama, there are 300,000 unregistered potential voters. In Georgia, there are 700,000 unregistered Black voters,” Jackson said.
Nationally, Jackson noted that there are 16 million Black voters, but another 10 million potential voters who are unregistered.
“The ball is in our court. This year we have to register people to vote and we have to show up at the polls,” he said.
In 1965, the young Jackson marched from Selma to Montgomery with leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. This time, he’s been on the trail once again.
Thousands started out Sunday on the first leg of the march. A dedicated core of marchers have started the walk each day after spending the night at a central location, then being bused to the starting point each day.
At the front of the march on Monday were three of the nation’s top civil rights leaders – Sharpton, Jackson and Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP. Sharpton and Jackson have marched each day. They have been joined by longtime activists, such as Dick Gregory, as well as some younger activists, incuding actor/singer Tyrese.
It was 47 years ago that a similar historic march took place focusing the nation’s attention on voting rights. When those marchers set out to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were beaten back by Alabama State Troopers.
Images of the brutal treatment of non-violent marchers were shown around the world. Soon Congress was prompted to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
Each day of the march has carried a specific theme. Thursday, the focus was on immigration rights. Last year, the Alabama Legislature passed some of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the nation. An estimated 1,200 marchers walked about 10 miles, often singing the familiar anthems of the Civil Rights Movement.
The rallying point for the conclusion of the march was across the street from Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the church pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at the time the Montgomery Bus Boycott started in 1955.
Sharpton predicted that thousands would join in for the final steps of the march that Friday.
“We’ll wrap up the march in Montgomery, but it won’t stop there,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 14:06
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