Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Stellar Remarks at CBC Awards Dinner

If you were unsure why you should in this election, First Lady Michelle Obama made it plain why you should.  Speaking last evening at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (CBCF) Phoenix Award Dinner, the first lady gave all in attendance some tough political thoughts to take home.

Coming off a rousing speech this month at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and making several campaign fundraising speeches in support of her husband, President Barack Obama, the first lady's speech last night was booth encouraging and inspiring, touching on several issues that included her saying that this election "is the march of our lifetime."

The First Lady wearing a floor-length, off the shoulder black Micahel Kors gown with a shimmering, diamond-like sequenced belt, addressed the crowd telling them, "But today, how many of us have asked someone whether they’re going to vote, and they say, no, I’m too busy, and besides, I voted last time; or, nah, it’s not like my vote is going to make a difference? See, after so many folks sacrificed so much so that we could make our voices heard, too many of us still choose not to participate. So when it comes to casting our ballots, it cannot just be "we the people" who had time to spare on Election Day. Can't just be "we the people" who really care about politics, or "we the people" who happened to drive by a polling place on the way home from work. It must be all of us. That is our birthright as citizens of this great nation.  That fundamental promise that we all get a say in our democracy, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like , or who we love. So we cannot let anyone discourage us from casting our ballots. We cannot let anyone make us feel unwelcome in the voting booth. It is up to us to make sure that in every election, every voice is heard and every vote is counted."
The first lady also praised the Congressional Black Caucus for their tireless work in ensuring the rights of African Americans and all people.
"But from so many unlikely places, members of this caucus rose up and lived out their own version of the great American Dream. And that is why they came here to Washington. They came because they were determined to give others that same chance; they were determined to open that doorway of opportunity even wider for those who came after them. They came because they believe that there is no higher calling than serving our country, no more noble a cause than that of our fellow citizens."
"You all are part of a proud tradition, one that dates back not just to the founding of this caucus, but to the beginning of so many improbable journeys to the halls of Congress."
Obama also recognized the passing of Congressman Donald M. Payne who passed earlier this year, succumbing to colon cancer.  Payne served nearly two decades in Congress.
Of course it would not be a complete First Lady Obama speech without her mentioning child hood obesity, the life's work of her Let's Move campaign.
"And make no mistake about it, change absolutely starts at home. We know that. It starts with each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and our families. Because we know that our kids won’t grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That’s on us.  We know we won’t close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise that homework, and serve as good role models for our own kids. That’s on us. We know that."
President Obama spoke at both the 2010 and 2011 CBC Phoenix Award Awards dinner.
The Phoenix Award symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit and an eternal desire to reach its full potential. Recipients of this year's prestigious award included:
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. will receive The CBCF Chair's Award. The award is presented to an individual whose work and accomplishments stand as a role model for the African-American community and the African Diaspora.
  • Writer, director George Lucas will receive The CBC Chair's Award. The award is presented to an individual who exhibits the highest standards of dedication, ability and creativity;
  • Representative Corrine Brown of Florida and the first African American Mayor of Charlotte, NC, the Honorable Harvey Gantt will each receive The Harold Washington Award. The award is presented to an individual who has contributed immeasurably to African-American political awareness, empowerment and the advancement of minorities in the electoral process;
Recent past recipients of the award include EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; Athlete, Entrepreneur & Humanitarian George Edward Foreman, Sr.; Civil Rights Activist Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery; and U.S. Rep. and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Mitt Romney Will Not Be The Next President of the United States

We've offered those sentiments to all of the other Republican candidates in the 2012 election, and we were correct in our prediction.  Now, we're also certain we can say the same about Mitt Romney.

Here's why Mitt Romney will not be the next president of the United States.

The real Mitt Romney.
He doesn't care about 47% of the American population.  It's not speculation.  It comes from the horse's mouth.

In a video from a fundraiser earlier this year Mitt Romney says that he will never be able to change the minds of 'those' Americans who can't take personal responsibility for themselves, nor is even worried about them, calling them government dependent.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney states.

“All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Brad's 47% message to Mitt Romney.

Trying to fix the latest mess where the presidential nominee further stuck his foot in his mouth, Romney held an impromptu press conference where he again spoke his heart, telling reporters basically that he meant what he said, he just didn't sugarcoat it, calling his remarks “not elegantly stated” and that he had "spoken off the cuff.”

We applaud Romney for speaking his heart, as it shows Americans the true Mitt Romney.  No longer is there the need to ask will the real Mitt Romney to please stand up.

He already has.

Did Mitt Offend Palestinians Too?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Obama Administration Challenges China’s Export Subsidies To Auto and Auto Parts Manufacturers in China

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States has requested dispute settlement consultations with the Government of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s auto and auto parts “export base” subsidy program.  Under the program, China provides extensive subsidies to auto and auto parts producers located in designated regions, known as “export bases,” that meet export performance requirements.  China’s program appears to provide export subsidies that are prohibited under WTO rules because they severely distort trade.  The subsidies provide an unfair advantage to auto and auto parts manufacturers located in China, which are in competition with producers located in the United States and other countries.  Based on publicly available documents, “export bases” made at least $1 billion in subsidies available to auto and auto-parts exporters in China during the years 2009 through 2011. 

“The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the rights of nearly 800,000 American workers in our $350 billion auto and auto parts manufacturing sector.  We insist upon having a level playing field on which our world-class manufacturers can compete.  Today we are continuing to make it clear to our trading partners that we will fight to support each job here at home that this sector supports,” said Ambassador Kirk.  “Export subsidies are prohibited under WTO rules because they are unfair and severely distort international trade.  China expressly agreed to eliminate all export subsidies when it joined the WTO in 2001.  China benefits from international trade rules and must in turn live up to its international obligations.”

“The export subsidy program that we are challenging today is implemented through dozens of Chinese legal instruments,” said Ambassador Kirk.  “We are in a position to address this trade problem because the Administration’s newly created Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) has provided crucial investigative and analytical resources to this effort.  This is one example of how ITEC, relying on a whole-of-government approach, is expanding and accelerating the United States’ trade-enforcement capabilities and activities.”

This is the latest in a series of enforcement actions the Administration has taken to ensure that China complies with its WTO commitments.  In 2010, the United States challenged China’s local-content subsidies to its wind power equipment manufacturers, resulting in China’s revocation of the subsidy program.  In three separate WTO disputes initiated between 2009 and 2011, the United States is challenging unfairly imposed duties China places on, U.S. automobiles; U.S. steel products; and U.S. poultry products.  Earlier this year, the United States successfully concluded a challenge to China’s export restraints on key industrial raw materials and, in March, launched a dispute against China’s export restraints on “rare earths,” a class of raw materials used in high-tech and clean-energy products.   In July, the United States prevailed in its challenge against China’s market access restrictions on U.S. providers of electronic payment (e.g., credit and debit card) services.

The request for consultations also includes transparency-related claims addressing China’s failure to notify the subsidies at issue to the WTO. Separately, the United States today requested that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to address China’s imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on more than $3 billion in exports of American-produced automobiles.  The United States and China tried to resolve the matter following the U.S. request for formal dispute settlement consultations in June, but the consultations did not succeed.  Therefore, the United States is taking the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process.  This action underscores yet again the Administration’s commitment to enforcing U.S. rights at the WTO on behalf of U.S. auto workers and their families. Background: China has designated certain municipalities to be auto and auto parts “export bases” through which it provides funds and support to auto and auto parts manufacturers in the on the basis of their export performance. 

China requires that these “export bases” encompass auto and auto parts manufacturers who have demonstrated strength in the production and exportation of auto and auto parts and sets continued export performance requirements to maintain their “export base” status. The auto and auto parts “export bases” use central and local government funds to provide a variety of export-contingent subsidies to auto and auto parts exporters such as grants, tax preferences and interest rate subsidies, in apparent violation of Article 3.1(a) of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.  Based on publicly available documents, “export bases” made at least $1 billion in subsidies available to auto and auto-parts exporters in China during the years 2009 through 2011. 

Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process.  Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the United States may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why Then All The Campaigning If...

Rumors are swirling around the Internet that election won, or not, the first lady, her mother - Marian Robinson - and daughters Sasha and Malia may be moving to the beautiful state of Hawaii.

While the first lady indicated that she loves the Chicago Bears when asked what her favorite football team is, she may not love its wintry weather as much.

Photo from the Obama Facebook page that reads, 'Keep them around four more years". Commit to vote."

The Obamas have vacationed several times in Hawaii since President Obama was elected and have found the state to be a welcome retreat from the cold, winter weather of Chicago and the Nation's Capital.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Mrs. Robinson first gave an impromptu reference to the family's decision to put their Hyde Park home on the market and move to Hawaii in 2013.

Several sources further indicate that the Obamas may have already found a house - to the tune of $35 million.

Whether it will be a vacation home, or a full-time permanent residence, inquiring minds want to know why the planned move to Hawaii, especially during a close election campaign.

Many questions remain unanswered, like:

Will the move take place after the girls finish out the school year at Sidwell Friends were they currently attend?   If the president is re-elected, does this mean the first lady will no longer reside in the Nation's Capital, along side her husband?  (Certainly her mother wouldn't move to Hawaii without the rest of the family).

The first lady, making an unscheduled stop in Spotsylvania County at a local YWCA last Thursday, after being asked by a youth where her family would live if her husband was not re-elected said, "We'll figure that out."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Photos: On The Campaign Trail, Two Guys Just Having Fun?

Out on the campaign trail the President and Vice President make a few unexpected stops along the way, and have two totally different experiences.

President Obama, while campaigning today in Florida, stops unexpectantly by the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant and gets an unexpected lift by the owner.

Restaurant owner Scott Van Duren lifts President Obama giving him a bear hug.
Meanwhile, while also on the campaign trail, Vice President Biden makes a stop at a local restaurant in Ohio and gets cozy with a female patron.

Vice President Biden schmoozes with a female patron at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio.
Is this action conduct unbecoming of a VP?  What must our second lady be thinking?

Mitt Romney's One-Term Fund

Mitt Romney has created a fund called the One Term Fund and he wants supporters to donate $25, or more, to "put President Obama out of work".

The fund's page asks, 'What is a one term president worth to you?'.

Per the Romney campaign:

We're not better off when 23 million people are struggling for work. Nor are we better off when, for every net new job that was created last month, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. We're not better off when poverty rates are headed toward a 50-year high, and nearly 47 million Americans are on food stamps. No amount of liberal mythology or political theater in Charlotte can mask the cold, hard truth: this president has not kept his promises and America is not better off. Thursday night, President Obama asked for four more years to get it right. But it's time to hold him accountable. Americans deserve new leadership that will get our economy moving again.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs and lead us out of this economic crisis. It paves the way for more jobs, more take-home pay and better opportunities for all Americans.

Romney says he and his VP pick, Paul Ryan, have a plan to create 12 million jobs.  He plans to put half of the 23 million unemployed to work.

Meanwhile the Obama team is pointing to an article that reveals the Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan.

The article points out that under their plan seniors, beginning in 2023, would receive vouchers to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies or from traditional Medicare. If premiums for traditional Medicare or the private plan they choose cost more than the voucher amount, then seniors would have to pay the difference themselves. The Romney-Ryan plan would also convert the joint state-federal Medicaid program into a so-called block grant program, designating a reduced amount of fund s for each state. And the Romney-Ryan plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act, which reduces drug costs and Medicare premiums and increases access to preventive services for all seniors.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Presidential Conventions

With the RNC and DNC conventions at a close, we look back and give you our thoughts, critiquing the tone and vibe of the two. Starting with the Republican Convention.

We find that the Republican convention looked more and more like Midwestern America with its mostly Caucasian audience.  This is troubling because it seems to suggest that the Republican model speaks to only white people.  While the speakers at the DNC were diverse, one was hard pressed to find ten people of color in the entire listening audience. 

We know there are at least ten people of color in the Midwest.  Judging from the camera angles at the RNC, not even they are supporting Mitt Romney.

The DNC audience looked more like the face of America: people of all races, creeds, and nationalities convening harmoniously, to listen to the words of their party's platform. 

At the RNC reports of hate and bigotry surfaced.  Stories that a CNN reporter had peanuts thrown at her, and had the words, "This is how we feed the animals" yelled at her by an attendee, was deplorable.

How can the Romney campaign suggest they are working for the 'American People' when their party shows offensiveness and bigotry toward the American people?  (We wonder which American People Romney is referring to).

As if that weren't enough, the Romney campaign solicited the stage act of one Clint Eastwood to talk to an empty chair.

These acts by the Republicans, including those that have tried to block the president's plans for a successful America, have given the likes of even former Florida governor Charlie Crist reason to pause, leading him to say,  "I'm ashamed at where my Party's taken me."

Christ, a former anti-Obama Republican who claims his party ousted him -- giving him no where to turn -- is voting Democratic in November to re-elect President Obama (on these grounds).

But let's be fair. The DNC, with its magnanimously fired up crowd, did have its share of hostility when one over-zealous delegate told a reporter that she would "kill Romney" if she saw him in the street.

She is now under investigation by the Secret Service, and perhaps even ICE.

A Tale of Two Acceptance Speeches. Romney Acceptance Speech | Obama Acceptance Speech

DNC2012: The Speeches You'll Remember

From Bill to Lilly Ledbetter, from Michelle to Deval Patrick inspiring DNC speeches you'll remember, in support of President Obama's re-election.

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton wants a president who's "cool on the outside, but burning for America on the inside."

"I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for President to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before the election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression. A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children and keep their hopes alive."

Clinton told the crowd that what works in the real world is 'cooperation'.  Will we see more cooperation between the parties if Obama is re-elected, or more of the same stalled politics?

First Lady Michelle Obama
The lovely First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage in support of her husband to tell America "we will always have your back".

"I've seen the very best of the American spirit."   It's that 'spirit' the first lady will hope get her husband re-elected.

Lilly Ledbetter
President Obama invited Lilly Ledbetter to show America what he's accomplished over his reign in the Oval Office.   "Equal pay for equal work is an American value", said Ledbetter.   (This is really 500 years late, but President Obama got it done).

Ledbetter was left a 'tip' from an unknown person on her job informing her that she was making less than her male counterparts. Today, her goal is advocating for all workers to make sure they understand where they are when it comes to their pay and benefits.

Listen to Ledbetter talk about how the Supreme Court casted her down, and how President Obama lifted her, and all women, to greater heights.  "He put me in the history books".

She also talked with Democracy Now!'s reporter Amy Goodman.  "Paycheck fairness is critical. It's a human right, and that's a no brainer."

Deval Patrick
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick recounts the days of former governor Mitt Romney

"We know Mitt Romney", said Patrick.

Calling Romney "a good salesman", Patrick said, "By the time he left office Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation—during better economic times—and household income in our state was declining. He cut education deeper than anywhere else in America."

"Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he's fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn't one of them", Patrick said in his speech during the DNC.

See all of the speeches from both the DNC and the RNC.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

At DNC, Women's Issues Take Center Stage

Ann Romney may have touted that she "lovvvvves women!" during her speech at the RNC last week in Tampa, however at the DNC this week, women's issues were front and center, and addressed - something that was severely lacking during the RNC.  (And by the way, no one called Ann Romney gay because she said she "loves women"; yet Time Magazine called President Obama the first gay president when he sided on the rights of same sex marriage).

Former Georgetown law student, and recent completor of the CA bar exam, Sandra Fluke.

Beginning with Lilly Ledbetter's rousing speech on equal pay and benefits for women (President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbedder Fair Pay Act (LLFPA) during the first days of his administration making it unlawful for employers to pay women less than men for equal work), to Sandra Fluke's stance on contraceptive and preventive health care for all women, the current-day issues that affect women in the United States were highlighted.

The first speaker during the prime time slot last evening, Sandra Fluke, the former University of Georgetown law student who was shut out by Republicans on a hearing on contraception, got her chance to let her voice be heard.  Said Fluke, "During this campaign, we've heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women—and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They're not imagined. That future could be real."

Fluke was heavily chastised by right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, calling Fluke a "slut for wanting to be paid [government sponsored birth control] to have sex".  Limbaugh later apologized.

"I don't need his apology", said Fluke.

Lilly Ledbetter, a tire plant manager who found out she was making 40% less than her male counterparts, made a convincing argument during her speech at the convention.

"The Supreme Court told me that I should have filed a complaint within six months of the company's first decision to pay me less even though I didn't know about it for nearly two decades. And if we hadn't elected President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court's wrongheaded interpretation would have been the law of the land."

She went to say how the president's decision to draft the LLFPA was a win for women.

"And that would have been the end of the story. But with President Obama on our side, even though I lost before the Supreme Court, we won. The first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I think it says something about his priorities that the first bill he put his name on has my name on it too."

Even former president Bill Clinton (who may have swayed a few Republicans over to the Democratic side last evening with his powerful convention speech last evening) held up the banner on women's issues sighting the president's decision to hire his own wife, Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton. Clinton even made mention that he wanted to vote for the man who decided to marry Michelle Obama.    

"I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.  A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama", Clinton said.  

Both are women who have made, and continue to make, amazing strides in women's issues, world-wide.

Where Romney stands on 'The Issues'.