Friday, July 30, 2010

How Deregulation Devastated Community Banks and Small Business

Crossposted from The People's View.

Republicans in the Senate put their crony and political interests ahead of that of the American people once again on Thursday - by voting in unison to block a small business jobs bill.  Despite a plea from the President (or perhaps because of it, we'll never know) to put partisanship aside and help small businesses, here's what the Republicans blocked:
  • A one-year, $30 billion loan program (through purchase of financial institution common stock and other methods) for community banks and credit unions when they make loans to small businesses.  If the treasury makes money from this program (through repayment of the loans), it would go to pay down the debt.
  • $12 billion in additional tax breaks tax cuts to help small business.

Brian Leiter Assesses the Current Legal Environment

Top Law Schools did a great interview with Professor Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School. Definitely worth a full read.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sen. Jim Webb is preaching Civil Rights that don't sound right

(Author's note: This is an excerpt of my weekly column in TheLoop21.)

Last week in the Wall Street Journal Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) opined that federally sponsored diversity programs should be halted. It seems Webb — senator by day, apparently civil rights historian by night — has surveyed the landscape and come to the perplexing conclusion that the most overlooked barrier to climbing the ladder of success in the U.S. is being white.
“After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers,” Webb says.
He continues, “In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.”
The fallacy in Webb’s argument is this: his definition of "racial harmony" seems to be a state where "marginalized white workers" feel good about themselves and their prospects for advancement in social status and employment. But that, to me, isn’t the definition of racial harmony; it’s an ego trip that harks back to the day when WASP elites — who contrary to Webb’s "research" still are very much in control of the levers of power in the halls of congress, academia, and private industry — only faced competition among themselves because laws specifically excluded others.

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Bringing in More Talent

Policy Diary has teamed up with Deaniac of The People's View blog who will be cross-posting great progressive content twice a week. PD Readers have no doubt seen Deaniac's two posts this past week, and most have probably wondered 'who is he?' I'll be doing a formal introduction fairly soon but I'm happy to have Deaniac come aboard as a regular contributor.

PD readers have reached out to me on Twitter and Facebook to tell me they have liked Deaniac's posts on Bush's tax cuts and privatizing Social Security.

Please check out The People's View when you get a chance!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Why Bush's Tax Giveaways for the Rich Should Expire

Crossposted from The People's View.

Congressional Republicans have been prancing around the capitol making demands that unemployment payment be paid for by reducing federal spending elsewhere, but that tax giveaways for the ultra-wealthy ought to be charged to our national credit card.  Those who are serious about economic policy and the soaring federal deficit, however, must act like adults.  The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress (with the exception of a few) want to eliminate the Bush tax giveaways for individuals making more than $200,000 or families making more than $250,000, while extending the breaks that are enjoyed by middle class and poor Americans.

There are three good and essential reasons why tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should expire: those tax cuts don't create jobs or spur consumer spending, those tax cuts are burdening the federal deficit, and those tax cuts are keeping us from making essential investments in our future.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Back on Facebook...with New Pages

I have yet to hear back from Facebook, and since I don't have time to waste I've moved on and created new profiles. Please add my personal page here, and the Policy Diary page. I'm working on getting the PD page back to full functionality.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Facebook Arbitrarily Disabling Accounts

You won't be able to view or join Policy Diary's Facebook Page. As of last night, Facebook disabled my personal account (which is linked to the Policy Diary page) without reason. I have no idea when it will be back up — that is, if it ever comes back up. I've contacted Facebook and am awaiting their response. Hopefully I'll have some answers soon.

Unfortunately, this isn't a new occurrence. Reports have floated around for years (see here and here) saying that Facebook too often limits access or disables accounts with little to no reason to do so or without having done due diligence when a complaint is filed against someone.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Merits of Social Security Investment in the Market

Crossposted from The People's View.

Investing social security in the market?  That sounds an awful lot like "privatization!"  No?  No.  There's an idea floating around - catching attention from former SEIU President and member of the President's deficit commission (formally the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) Andy Stern - to gradually invest a portion of the social security trust fund in the stock market.  This investment would be done by the government, not individuals, unlike the private accounts called for by Republicans.

Let me make an argument on the merits.  The argument is three-fold: first, it's very important to understand why the government investing part of the social security trust fund in the market is different from individuals investing portions of their own social security taxes.  Second, over the longer term, the earning potentials are large and can help close the long term structural deficit in social security.  Finally, this is not a new concept.  Canada and other western and Asian countries already utilize the market to invest their public pension funds, and states across the US do the same.

How the GOP Miscontrues Health Care Rationing

My weekly column at The Loop 21 is up. The article, "The GOP Flip-Flops on Health Care Rationing Again" is about how rationing done by health insurers in the free market gets a pass from the GOP while even a slight threat of it by government is met with disdain and over the top rhetoric (death panels, anyone?). Check out the article and let me know what you think.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Confessions of a Drama

Editor's Note: This piece was written in early 2009 and cross-posted from 'Running in Stilettos' in response to a lack of media diversity, and how the chimpanzee attack was used in an offensive manner in a NY Post cartoon. I'm posting it here because it has strong relevance to how the NAACP v. Tea Party dispute is playing out in the press.

curtain rises
okay, so. if you know me, you know my arm can get tired from a lot of things, but never from raising my black power fist. i fight the good fight for a living and when i say i love my people, i strongly believe love is an action word. making life better for us is a passion of mine. however, i just got (another) email from the naacp that made me feel i had to come out of the closet on this issue. as you know, on february 18 this delonas character drew this cartoon for the ny post. the outcry has been tremendous to say the least and i have to say. . .i feel some kinda way about it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Reality Behind the Resolution: NAACP v. Tea Party

“MISS NAACP!” I have earned this moniker for the better part of a decade as I have traversed this nation, the southeastern portion of it in particular, supporting, defending, explaining and training youth and adults alike on the ins and outs of this great organization.  That said, I think that I am more than qualified and have paid my dues, literally and figuratively, in order to say what I will about the 101-year-old organization.  The pontification about whether the Association is, inter alia, relevant and necessary is a discussion for another time.  Quickly, if you still have issues like the Oscar Grant incident in California, the SB 1070 law in Arizona,  the fact that America’s urban schools only graduate 50% (if that) of its children, then the answer to the previous question is unequivocally yes and yes.
Now…The resolution that MEMBERS of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People passed was one of many designed to: focus the organization’s policies, change the constitution or make a collective statement about a recent or on-going issue. What many that are not knowledgeable about the organization and its resolution process don’t realize is, to have a resolution addressed at the national convention is an incredibly slow process.  Not only must the NAACP unit have the resolution passed at its State Convention, held during the fall of each year, it then must be sent to the Resolutions committee of the National Board of Directors.  In May of each year, that committee sorts through numerous resolutions that are filed and select those that will be voted on by the National Convention delegates.  Unless the President/CEO or the Chairman of the Board of Directors places an emergency resolution on the convention floor, the aforementioned process is how resolutions reach the National Convention each July. I have meticulously explained this for a reason…keep reading.
            Last year, as many know, was the centennial year for the NAACP.  With everything surrounding the Association during that time in New York, for whatever reason, neither the President/CEO nor the Chairman of the Board decided to place an emergency resolution on the floor condemning the Tea Party.  Moreover, the tea party “movement” was just getting its bearings during 2009, and thus too late for the traditional method of having a resolution presented to the body during the centennial convention.  Therefore, it is appropriate that the resolution came about now, instead of last year.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Association was involved FROM THE BEGINNING of the Oscar Grant story.  The California State Conference and the Oakland Branch spoke out, helped in the investigation, and were advocating for justice on behalf of Mr. Grant and his family.  Moreover, after the verdict various leaders in the NAACP gave their reaction.  The lesser-known issues such as the Troy Davis case in Georgia we have continually fought.  The Association was on the scene in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina BEFORE the cameras, the federal government and the Red Cross.  When the cameras leave and turn to the next story of the month, it is the great effort of our branches, youth councils, college chapters and even prison branches that continue the thankless second job that is social justice advocacy.
As far as the tea party resolution being a “priority,” I think that is a mischaracterization of the organization.  Unfortunately, instead controlling the message of the organization, especially during the week of our national convention, the association allowed the media to put this ONE resolution out as the resolution for this year.  During this debate over the tea party resolution, you won’t hear about the resolutions put forth on how to combat education, health and criminal justice disparities.  You won’t hear about policies the local branches, youth councils and college chapters would like the organization to tackle regarding veterans affairs, electoral equity and the economy.  No mention about the absolutely fantastic job that our Washington, D.C. bureau, led by Hilary Shelton, does in compiling the yearly legislative report card on how all 535 members of congress have voted on issues that the NAACP ACTUALLY deem a priority.  Nope. All you will hear is about what one branch felt was important enough to send through the resolutions process regarding the acts of the tea party.  As President/CEO Ben Jealous stated Wednesday night on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” the NAACP itself has members who are ALSO members of the tea party.  Nevertheless, as the NAACP has done throughout his 101-year history, we call out people and organizations about their actions and its impact on people of color. 
However, as much as I will defend the organization, I am one of its major critics.  I agree that too often the Association is reactionary.  Whether it is the tea party’s antics, the economic crisis, oil crisis or other issues, too often, we speak out after plenty have already shaped the debate on the issue.  Specifically speaking on the tea party, the heads of the Association should have publicly spoken out about the vile, racist rhetoric that has permeated through the tea party, almost since its inception.  NAACP President/CEO Jealous stated on “Countdown” that he has spoken privately with RNC Chairman Michael Steele about the rhetoric, to no avail.  In looking at the various signs, posters, ads, and speeches made by members of the tea party, it is clear that not only do some of the members not have respect for the Office of the President, but also do not care for persons that look like the man who sits in that chair.  Must we remind ourselves of the slurs spewed at Congressman John Lewis, the death threats left at Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s Office, and to top it all off the spit hurled at Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver during the health care debate?  We need to do a much better job of telling our story, instead of having it told to and for us by others.
That being said the issue is not who presented the resolution to the floor of the convention…or in some way, when.  The issue is the resolution’s validity or lack thereof.  I’m glad that finally someone has said in a public forum what needed to be said for months, or even a year now.  Yes, there were persons from OTHER countries that called President Bush the devil, but did organizations say that openly and often on American soil? Would the tea partiers and other have continued, into the second year of his presidency, to question John McCain’s nationality had the election turned a different way? What about “You Lie?” and other disrespectful statements/ messages coming from elected officials during a forum with the president?  The method maybe different from what you would choose, the timing may be off, but AT LEAST someone decided that enough was enough.  The NAACP membership is not attempting to stop the grassroots organizing of the tea party; that has been our method for over a century.  What they are saying, what we all should say is…debate the issues, not the man.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Khyla D. Craine, RN BSN, is a nurse and social activist who has given speeches and  written numerous opinion-editorials on the topic of race in America for such publications The Tennessseean, The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, SC) and The State (Columbia, SC).  A graduate of South Carolina State University, Khyla has spent the better part of the past decade working to end racial and health disparities through direct action, education, and training, professionally as a practicing Registered Nurse and as former member of the NAACP's National Youth Work Committee. Currently, Khyla is a 2012 JD Candidate at Howard University School of Law and a guest political writer for Policy Diary and The Lab Convos.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

NAACP Needs to Stop Chasing the Tea Party

My new article is up at The Loop 21. In it I'm going after the NAACP for their decision to repudiate the Tea Party for their inability to curb "racist elements" within the organization. Do racist elements exist? Sure. Are they apart of the leadership? Most likely not. Should the NAACP even spend time worrying about it. Of course not. Read all about it here.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Taking it too far: Lebron James, Dan Gilbert, and Roland Martin go overboard

My first contribution to appeared earlier today. This is the start of a weekly commentary I will be doing focused on politics and finance. This first piece basically delves into Lebron's ESPN special, Dan Gilbert's behavior in publishing his letter denouncing Lebron leaving, and Roland Martin's recent comments on the issue.

Obviously this has been big news. What hasn't been looked at enough, I think, is that the media is doing their job by covering a legitimate news event sure to interest readers/viewers. But is Lebron doing his job? His job is to win and maintain his focus on the basketball court. Increasingly it seems as though his focus is elsewhere.

Taking it too far: Lebron James, Dan Gilbert, and Roland Martin go overboard (via Loop 21):
So the Lebron James multi-million dollar sweepstakes is over. And it felt like one too. The hoopla was there and the only thing missing was a cheesy Ed McMahon with a sanctimonious grin and a stuffy suit. But Jim Gray was there to take his place during the one hour ‘Decision’ special that aired on ESPN. Sadly enough, he fit the bill.
Don’t get me wrong I think Lebron was justified in his right to not only leave the Cavaliers but also ensure he gets the best deal he can secure along with the best opportunity to earn a championship. He’s fulfilled his obligations to the Cavaliers, and he’s obviously also building his brand as well.

*UPDATE* Roland Martin responded to my article, via Twitter: "and the piece is nonsense."

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If that Apology Doesn't Work I Can Make Up Another

 Excellent article in The New York Times about the lackluster apologies and crisis (mis)management that has been foisted upon the public recently (BP, anyone?).  As I was reading it struck me that I haven't met too many college students interested in a career in crisis management.

In fact, I have yet to meet any.  Usually those majoring in public relations will tell me something like 'crisis management takes too much work.'  Fair enough.  But these days it's a vital skill set that (a) is overlooked or just not truly valued until it's needed, and (b) probably provides an invaluable experience in management and organizational psychology.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Martin Ginsburg's Undying Love

Last week Martin Ginsburg, husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, passed away. While he has been properly remembered by the LA Times, New York Times and others, what stood out to me was Ginsburg's devotion to his wife and his marriage.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The New Bachelor Party: Less Bump & Grind, More Food & Wine

The New York Times ran an interesting story over the holiday weekend about the new trend in bachelor parties (don't worry this is safe for work). It seems some gentleman are looking for a more austere experience than can be had downing cheap beer and stale peanuts while surrounded by exotic dancers earning money to supplement Pell Grants as they "wind" their way through college.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Preparing for Business School

The old adage is 'free advice is usually worth what you paid for it.' However in some cases when the person dishing it out has been there, done that, and is outstretching their hand to help, well, you'd have to be a fool to not pay attention.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Common Standards - Who is on Board?

 "The Common Core State Standards is an effort (led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) to establish a single set of clear educational standards for English-Language Arts and Mathematics that states can share and adopt. The standards have been informed by the best available evidence and the highest standards across the country and globe," according to Dr. Tom Burnham, state superintendent of Mississippi.

Implementing Health Care Reform Pt 2

Is your state as prepared as Oregon is to implement the Affordable Care Act? I doubt it. While some states (at last count 14) are suing the federal government over the individual mandate, precious few others are building a consensus on a local and state level, as Oregon is, to ensure a smooth overhaul.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Want to Blog?

Policy Diary is seeking submissions and bloggers.

In many cases folks would like to blog but don't have the time to start and manage their own. In other cases some folks just love to write. Regardless of one's inclination, as long as they are passionate about an issue or aspect of public policy, politics, public health, education, or sociology they have a home here. Please check out the flyer for more details. And don't hesitate to share it with your friends.

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Investing in Innovation Fund

The Department of Education started this with the goal of supporting bold, creative ideas that will reform schools and transform education models around the country. Applications for those dollars are booming.

According to Education Week:

Demand is far outpacing resources in one hot segment of the education innovation market, as districts, schools, and nonprofits pitch reform proposals worth $12.8 billion for competitive grants to be awarded under the federal Investing in Innovation Fund, or “i3”—nearly 20 times what the U.S. Department of Education has available.

The $650 million competition funded by the economic-stimulus package drew 1,698 applicants by the May 12 application deadline, creating a wish list that ranges from a $22,282 proposal to improve students’ writing in Connecticut’s Preston Public Schools to a $50 million plan to expand the Teach for America corps.

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Drug Industry Pares Down Jobs

The New York Times reports that Big Pharma is paring back on jobs and seeking to increase productivity possibly to thwart the effect health care reform will have on the bottom line.

According to the Times: 
Government and nonprofit sectors announced 98,776 job cuts this year to date, compared with 34,987 by pharmaceutical companies, and 26,181 by the retail industry, according to a new report by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a Chicago-based out-placement consulting firm. The firm noted in a release that the pace of retrenchment has slowed compared to last year, when drug companies cut 51,000 jobs; retail 85,000; and government 102,000. And the report said more employers are confident looking ahead. Still, the industry faces the prospect of more job losses to try to help its bottom line as patents expire on prominent drugs within the next year.

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Thurgood Marshall, Jr. Speaks Out

The confirmation hearing of Elegan Kagan has had its moments. And while she has yet to crack, the GOP certainly has looked at times as though they are on unsure footing. They have especially seized upon Kagan's clerkship with and admiration of Justice Thurgood Marshall. Today in the Washington Post Marshall's son, Thurgood Marshall, Jr., speaks out.

Washington Post:

I was too young to attend the confirmation hearing of my father, Thurgood Marshall, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee 43 years ago. But I have been witness to a rehearing of sorts as the Senate Judiciary Committee considers Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.
I believe that this spectacle is partly a result of my father having lived a life of consequence as a practicing attorney and as a jurist. The rhetoric serves as a reminder that President Lyndon Johnson displayed wisdom and great courage in nominating my father to the Supreme Court. Yes, he had served as solicitor general of the United States and as a federal appellate judge who authored more than 90 opinions without a single reversal, but as notable is what he did before holding those positions.
When my father was confirmed 69 to 11, more than four decades ago, that historic act came after he worked for years in private practice drafting wills, trying murder cases and engaging in all legal issues in between; after working in the courts to bring long-overdue voting rights to the disenfranchised and to desegregate schools.
If there is to be a new round of battles on those issues, then I suspect that the victory margin would be far greater since legions of Americans of every stripe regard the resolutions of those issues as achievements that make our union more perfect. If there is to be a new round of battles over my father's jurisprudence, his vision of the role of the courts or his belief in the 14th Amendment, then I like those odds, too. As Kagan, who clerked for my father in the 1987 Supreme Court term, noted this week, my father revered the high court because "his whole life was about seeing the courts take seriously claims that were not taken seriously anyplace else."

My father appreciated the talent and dedication of his law clerks. While it is true he often referred to them as knuckleheads, it did not matter whether they agreed on all issues. He was grateful for their service and took pleasure in following their accomplishments over the years.
Two former clerks, Ralph K. Winter and Douglas Ginsburg, were nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan. Those nominations did not prompt the kind of harsh innuendo to which we have been subjected this week.
A debate this week about judicial activism seems to have revealed only one thing: One person's activism is another's adherence to constitutional principle. And to my ear, a progressive jurist sounds far more desirable than a regressive one. But the Kagan hearing is not the proper forum to rehash my father's work. 


Elena Kagan is her own person. If she is confirmed, that is precisely how she will serve her country as an associate justice. I have worked closely with her and know well that she has far too much respect for the rule of law and for the Supreme Court to render decisions by seeking to channel anyone else. Her intellect and integrity are impeccable.

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Implementing Health Care Reform

In Health Affairs Prof. Jost highlights some of the pitfalls to implementation. Policy Diary readers will remember an interview Prof. Jost did with Policy Diary earlier this spring.

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