Friday, September 26, 2008

Ted Stevens Gets a Jury of His Peers

From The Hill today:
Despite having served in the Senate for four decades, longer than any Republican in history, 12 jurors and four alternates hearing his criminal case have acknowledged knowing little about Stevens.
I guess they never served on Appropriations.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:14 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie on Federal Bailout Controversy

By David Almasi:
Mychal Massie, the chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network Project 21, has this to say about our nation's current financial mess and those willing to do anything but let free market mechanisms bring things back to normal:
Our nation's current financial turmoil should be no surprise to those charged with overseeing our financial system, yet those yelling the loudest about our not being prepared seem to have been the ones with their heads in the sand the longest.

Case in point: When the Bush Administration suggested a regulatory overhaul of the housing finance industry in 2003, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) said: "These two entities - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing." (Source: "New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae," New York Times, September 11, 2003) The Fox News Channel is broadcasting a similar pronouncement by Frank made in 2005.

At the time, Frank was the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee. Today, he is the chairman. He is part of the crowd seeking the bailout that will probably cost taxpayers well over a trillion dollars to correct. It could and should have been prevented by something he refused at the time to acknowledge.

To add further insult to this epic fiscal injury, lawmakers and members of the Bush Administration are seeking ways to game the free market to correct the very problem that government negligence allowed to happen in the first place.

It is unwise for the government to presume American taxpayers do not have a breaking point. It is a misrepresentation of that which is being proposed to portray this - as they are - as a "recovery plan." It is a "bailout," and a wholesale bailout of industries ad nauseam at that.

It is simply unfair and unjust for taxpayers to essentially be the financial safety net for those responsible for foreseeable economic misdeeds on a gargantuan scale.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:01 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Physicists, Fewer Fullbacks: Project 21's Robinson Commentary in The Root Sets a New Mission for Black Colleges

By David Almasi:
This week, the White House is focusing attention on historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with an official week of commemoration and a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Project 21 member B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. is marking the week by calling on HBCUs to commit more resources to train students in science and technology to meet the growing demand in those fields. This, Robinson believes, will help foster further black prosperity and help equalize employment opportunities.

Since this will obviously drain tight budgets, Robinson offers a suggestion: HBCUs should cut back their athletic programs.

In his commentary on the subject, which was published by The Root - a black-focused web site jointly operated by The Washington Post and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University - Robinson wrote:
Among black students in particular, there is a distinct technological training deficit. According to Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 from the federal National Science Board, only 8.4 percent of college graduates in 2005 who received degrees in science and engineering were black.

There has been a slow and steady increase of black science and engineering graduates over the surveyed period of 1985 to 2005, but this black progress was nonetheless outpaced by Hispanic and Asian gains.

Compounding the problem of so few blacks receiving science and engineering degrees is that a consistent rate of over 30 percent of incoming black freshmen over the years regularly intend on pursuing such majors while less than a third actually obtain a degree...

Given that their budgets and access to resources are limited, how can HBCUs increase their science and technology focus? They should not "Rob Peter to pay Paul." They should simply take "Peter" out of the equation. The HBCUs' Peter is money-losing athletic programs.

HBCUs should consider converting resources set aside for athletic programs into resources for scientific research and development...

For the future of black America, HBCUs and the nation, it seems appropriate that HBCUs turn their athletic and competitive swords and spears into productive and scientific plowshares and pruning hooks.
To read the full Robinson commentary, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 AM

Monday, September 08, 2008

Project 21 in Washington Times

Project 21 members and staff have been published in the Washington Times' op-ed page several times recently. Fans of the group may wish to click on one or more of the following:

"Speed-Limit Myths" - Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie takes on Senator John Warner of Virginia's trial balloon favoring a federal mandate to lower speed limits. After explaining who/what really would benefit from such a policy (hint: not the environment, but it involves something green), Massie suggests that "it might be better if Mr. Warner just drove off into the sunset. If only he could go a little faster."

"History is the Final Judge" - Project 21 member Ak'Bar A. Shabazz asks, "if we disregard the calls for freedom and democracy in places such as Tibet, where are we placing ourselves as it relates to world history?," and quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., saying "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Property Rights" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein examines the government's use of eminent domain power in a predominately black city to take choice land from small businesses in order to sell it to large ones. He says, "Self-professed champions of the poor don't help when they oppose eminent domain reform. Doing so simply allows government to take from one and give to another - at the expense of communities - just to rake in tax dollars."

"Let Them Eat Cake" - Project 21 member Kevin L. Martin calls on Congress to allow more oil drilling, saying "There may be a day when we all have electric cars, but the one I have right now doesn't have a plug, solar panel or hydrogen converter. It takes gasoline. While I don't object to the possibility of alternative energy sources in the future, I know that most Americans own cars that need gas and live in homes that are powered at least in part by coal. When the elites stifle access to plentiful power, the financial burden is a lot smaller for them. They can afford to pay more for a hybrid car and rave about getting better gas mileage. They can also feel better about their indulgences when they buy imaginary 'carbon credits' that give them the moral authority to use more energy than they want to allow the masses. Like Marie Antoinette, they think the rest of America can 'eat cake' like they can. Sadly, we can't."

"The Civil Rights Shakedown: Myth or Reality?" - Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli takes a look at shakedown allegations against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and describes her own effort to urge a corporate board not to be part of such a process. Deneen wrote, in part, "Frustrated by what appears to me to be a long history of Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton using semi-subtle campaigns to pressure corporations to donate, I spoke up at the JPMorgan shareholder meeting. After Mr. Jackson spoke, I took his place at the microphone and asked Mr. Dimon and his board: 'Will there ever be a day where you will stand up and say 'No' to Mr. Jackson and to his demands and messages of victimization and divisiveness? This is the United States of America, and this is not the 1960s. People should be hired based on their talents and they should be retained based on their results. There should not be color-coded hiring in the United States.' Shareholders clapped. But, unlike Mr. Jackson's, my question went unanswered."

"Gaining Access with Identification" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein turns the Voter ID debate into a civil rights issue -- but maybe not in the way you think: "The bottom line is that someone without proper identification is out of step. And those who want to keep them there are out of line."

"Black America is Still Not Free" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein reviews the new book "Sweet Release: The Last Step to Black Freedom" by psychologist Dr. James Davidson, Jr.: "...although he criticizes liberals, Davidson is quick to note he is no conservative. He writes: 'My behaviors and ideas [are] anything but conservative. Trying to improve one's social and economic lot by rejecting traditional societal and black community standards for achievement seemed antithetical to [being] conservative.' The apolitical goal of Sweet Release is to create advancers: 'What you seek is simply not in the 'hood. It never has been, and it never will be... We must now move beyond our own remaining chains, beyond the mental barriers that keep so many of us constrained in our thoughts and deeds.'"

"Governance drives this crisis" - Project 21 associate and Initiative for Public Policy Analysis executive director Thompson Ayodele asks, "Hunger is an everyday problem in Africa. What can be done about it?," and answers, in part: "For one thing, a better governmental infrastructure and incentives can stimulate production if done right. Anything that would dampen competition, and thus lower the incentive to produce, should be avoided. When these programs are instituted, they must be administered with professionalism and transparency."

"Too few Watts: 'Segregated News' is Not the Answer" - Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie isn't too thrilled about former GOP Congressman J.C. Watts' plans to create a black news television channel: "...the question begging an answer is what exactly constitutes 'black news.' There are things that happen to black people in black communities that don't really have an impact on the rest of America, but that doesn't mean they should be provincial to black America. News happening in America is American news, and it should be everyone's concern."

"Jesse Jackson Outrage Strategy: No Dough, No Go?" - Project 21 staff director David Almasi and research associate Justin Danhof wonder why Jesse Jackson never challenged XM Satellite Radio for alleged racial insensitivity for a gold tooth ad similar to one run by Toyota which Jackson did protest. They ask: "Remember when Jesse Jackson challenged XM Satellite Radio for its racist advertising? Probably not, since it never happened. Why he didn't is the question." Could it be because Toyota has more money?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:45 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Project 21's Borelli on WWOR-TV this Sunday

By David Almasi:
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli will discuss presidential politics and race this Sunday on WWOR, the New York-area television superstation.

Deneen will be a guest on the "New Jersey Now" program that will be broadcast at 12:00 pm eastern on September 7. She is scheduled to address the issue of how race may play in the upcoming presidential election (and if it should at all) with host Brenda Blackmon and former New Jersey lawmaker Leroy J. Jones, Jr.

Outside of the New York City media market, WWOR can be found on the Dish TV satellite system on channel 238. Additionally, WWOR is carried on many local cable systems - sometimes under the name MyNetworkTV.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:05 PM

Detroit Mayor Finally Removed from Office, Project 21 Member's Suggestions Finally Acted Upon

By David Almasi:
After months of controversy, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) finally admitted his guilt this morning and resigned from office. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice related to his lying under oath during a police investigation into his political inner-circle.

In addition to Kilpatrick's resignation, he is expected to serve up to four months in jail, five years of probation, up to a $1 million in fines and at least a temporary revocation of his law license.

Back in April, Project 21 member Tara Setmayer wrote a New Visions Commentary entitled “Haters Didn't Hurt the Hip-Hop Mayor, He Did” that points out how politicians have a duty to live up to the public trust. If they want to live fast-and-loose, as Kilpatrick did, Setmayer noted that public office is not the place for them.

Among other things, Setmayer wrote:
From Marion Barry to Eliot Spitzer and Richard Nixon to Mark Foley, character and integrity - or the lack thereof - know no party affiliation or skin color.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, "King Kwame" or the "Hip-Hop Mayor" to some, is yet another example of a politician drowning in his own narcissistic sense of infallibility. The opportunity to earn the public trust is a privilege, and politicians often forget who they are working for.

Anyone aware of Mayor Kirkpatrick's tenure shouldn't be surprised. Arrogance and a sense of entitlement are a recipe for disaster, especially when the resources of an entire city are at one's disposal and "yes men" who occupy high-ranking city positions act as enablers.
She added:
I'm sick and tired of people saying the very serious felony charges are the product of an overambitious prosecutor's witch-hunt over a sexual affair. Let's not forget that Mayor Kilpatrick not only took an oath to uphold his office with honor, but another to honor his marriage. He has apparently failed miserably at both and has only himself to blame.

We all make mistakes, but part of learning from those mistakes is accepting responsibility for them. This often requires paying a heavy price.

No one is above the law. Not even Mayor Kilpatrick. Not even in Detroit. No matter how large the entourage, how luxurious the vehicle or how flamboyant his clothing, he is still a public servant accountable to the people of Detroit.

If the Hip-Hop Mayor wants to live the lifestyle of a 50 Cent, he needs to relinquish his public office and become a member of G-Unit on his own time - not on the taxpayers' dime.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:51 PM

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