Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ignorance of War

As missiles pelt Libya, the intellectual battle wages on in America, and for that matter the world. Arguments for and against military action against Libya fly around. I’d like to request a no-fly zone on much of the discussion, but I don’t think my endeavor would be too successful.

Hermain Cain Invites Blacks To The Tea Party's VIP Section

I've wanted to dig into the phenomenon that is Herman Cain for a little while now. The Tea Party's recent embrace of him has made this as good a time as any (or better). So I did a little research and talked to two of the most astute folks I know in the world of Tea Party politics - David Webb, co-founder of Tea Party 365 and host of the David Webb Show on Sirius 144 and XM 166, and Richard Shorter, founder of Hip Hop Republican and a political consultant in New York City. Thanks a bunch to these guys for giving me some great insight. Below is an excerpt of the article which appears in The Loop 21.

Herman Cain is in the unique position of being the only African American Republican actively seeking the Presidency in 2012. While that is bound to draw the usual finger pointing, guffaws and “Uncle Tom” jokes, Cain is serious. So serious he was the first out of a crowded field of GOP aspirants to announce his exploratory committee.
The problem with Cain is not so much that he’s black. It’s the fact that no one knows him – except the Tea Party. His paucity of public service is both rare and attractive to the Republican rank-and-file. Enthusiasm for Cain has been percolating as he crisscrosses the country delivering an old message in a new tone. Late last month he spoke in Phoenix to a raucous Tea Party crowd and took home a straw poll win in the process. While it's true that straw polls are worth about as much as Miami Dolphins tickets during an NFL lockout, they may be an indication of something to come.

"Straw polls don't mean diddly. Typically a candidate will flood a straw poll with their supporters and benefit from the lopsided vote on their behalf," says David Webb, co-founder of TeaParty365 and spokesman for theNational Tea Party Foundation in a conversation with theLoop21. "Furthermore, Cain doesn't have a good shot at winning the primary. But his run shines a light on the mistaken notion that the Tea Party isn't open to diversity." 
Maybe the barometer determining Tea Party comfort with minority candidates shouldn't be based on how they embrace Cain. Instead it should be based on how the Tea Party differentiates Cain’s generational profile and policies from President Obama should he win the Republican primary...

          Read more here:

Mayor Booker Responds to My Question

Thanks to the Daily Beast for giving readers an opportunity to ask Mayor Corey Booker a few questions. They actually ended up choosing one of mine and it's the first one the mayor answers. Check out the video below. Questions by others can be seen here:

Obama and Libya: Dangerous Combination

"Allied strikes pummel Libya’s air force but do little to stop attacks on civilians,"

That headline in the Washington Post sums up my thoughts on the effect the UN coalition will have on Quaddafi's rule. And this blog post by Prof. Michael Dorf elucidates why I believe Pres. Obama is in violation of the constitution by avoiding congressional approval before committing troops and equipment to attack a sovereign nation. Below is an excerpt of that post (emphasis mine).

[President Obama's letter to Congress] cites no congressional delegation of power.  Instead, it simply invokes the President's "constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."  Absent further elaboration, this statement appears to rest on the theory that the President does indeed have the authority to use military force whenever it is both permissible under international law and in what he regards as in the national interest.  To my mind, that is a far too sweeping assertion of power.  The President was not required to obtain a formal declaration of war from Congress.  But he did need some congressional authorization.  Thus, I conclude that the President probably has acted unconstitutionally.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the Air

I'm on the New School political show hosted by Charles Ellison right now on Sirius 110 and XM 130. Check us out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obama Administration Says "Yes We Can" Keep Guantanamo Bay Open For Business

(Excerpt of my weekly column in The Loop 21)

As waves of protests swarmed through parts of North Africa (stay tuned on Libya), America looked on eagerly as though it had birthed democracy and freedom, passing out cigars in the global waiting room to take on prompt congratulatory calls. But, if America really were pregnant with either concept during President Obama's tenure, then she must have taken Plan B the morning after his inauguration.

Recently, the Obama administration announced they would no longer require Guantanamo Bay detention facility trials be moved to civilian criminal courts on U.S. soil. Their reasoning: Congress blocked funding that would be needed for the prisoner transfer as well as the establishment of a secure location on U.S. soil. It's true that Congress wouldn't allow the prison transfers or appropriation of funds. But, at least Congress isn't saying one thing and doing another. While President Barack Obama claimed his goal was to bring more transparency to the detainee process and no longer hold enemy combatants in legal limbo – just like the Bush administration - in reality he was asserting even more legal authority on grounds so shaky it would make a Cirque Du Soleil performer get queasy.

You know it’s shady when Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who has never seen a Muslim who wasn't a 9/11 co-conspirator, gives you a pound for a job well done.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SUNO-UNO Consolidation Approved

For months, scores of academics, activists, and alumni have debated over whether two universities in New Orleans should merge.

Both Southern University of New Orleans, a publicly funded HBCU and University of New Orleans, a majority white public institution, have been plagued with low enrollment and extremely low graduation rates.
Yesterday, the Louisiana Board of Regents has voted 9 - 6 to recommend to the Louisiana legislature that the administrations of the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans be combined.

"We are not talking about a merger," said consultant Dennis Jones. "If you proceed with a merger, frankly it is inconsistent with our criteria and recommendations."

Before the vote, the panel discussed insuring that the "history, tradition and culture" of each school will be preserved under this plan.

The move, which goes next to the Louisiana Legislature, will allow students at either university to utilize the resources of both schools and combine what officials called "back office operations."

The goals expressed included improving the ability of both universities to offer students better opportunities for success by consolidating governance and saving money by not duplicating administrative functions

But combining any aspects of the two institutions waters down the identities of both universities. SUNO students, faculty, staff and supporters think the idea is the wrong move and will be the beginning of the end of the HBCU. One student begged the board, "Don't take my school away, don't take it away."

UNO students have concerns as well. "I think one of the most important things about this, is that nothing is really decided yet," said John Mineo, UNO student body president.

Mineo told WWL-TV after Tuesday's decision by the Board of Regents to send the proposal to lawmakers, students should pay attention, but not panic.

"We have to wait and see what the facts are when the actual bill gets presented to the legislature and what it says, but I know a lot of students are worried about losing their identity of what UNO is and worse, they're worried about compromising the standards," he said.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Attacking the President Isn't Funny

By Khyla Craine

Yeah, this is a bit late, and our 30 second attention spans forgot about this many times over, but it needs to be said. Recently, we heard that during a town hall meeting, one of Congressman Broun's constituents asked him when someone was going to shoot the President. The Congressman's immediate reply…well I'm still waiting for one that is actually worthy of the question. What he did say was, "The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president. We're going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."

 Sir..that is all you had to say? The best answer you could come up with is to pivot to healthcare? Really? No matter it is now just shy of two months, 8 weeks, 57 days, since Congressman Gabrielle Giffords was shot at one of her own town hall meetings. Despite the fact that it is FEDERAL OFFENSE, to make such comments about a sitting president. And just on a basic, human level, this man, we call president, at his most simple form is a father, husband, brother and uncle…and that's all you have to say?

 To his credit, by Friday of the same week, he had a more appropriate response: In a statement Friday, Broun said, "I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements – made in sincerity or jest – that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated." Broun also said his office "took action with the appropriate authorities."
Eerily silent is our admittedly emotional Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The same Speaker who, days after Rep. Giffords attempted assassination, tearfully led members of the House of Representatives in a moment of silence in honor of their wounded comrade. Is it because the town hall meeting was in Athens, Georgia and not Alexandria, Virginia? Or is it because we are so quick to be reactionary versus proactive and speak out against the most reprehensible of commentary by our fellow Americans.

 If I didn't support the president would I have the same reaction, you ask? YES! I'll say it again, regardless of what you think about his policies, or lack thereof, he is a man with a family. The life he lives is all he has. ANYONE that so nonchalantly asks such a damning question about anyone…should give us pause. According to the Washington Post blogger, Melissa Bell, it gave the secret service enough to find the woman who posed questioner and ask some questions of their own.

We're better than this… and Rep. Broun should be ashamed of himself for not repudiating the statement before she even finished her question. Contrary to popular opinion, freedom of speech has limits.

About the Author
Khyla D. Craine 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 as 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 also a guest political writer for The Lab Convos.

Monday, March 7, 2011

State of Wisconsin Wants To Ban Prank Calls

My new article in The Loop 21 looks at the ensuing fiasco in Wisconsin that  has legislators trying to ban prank calls. Yup, seriously. They claim their motivation is to stamp out fraud but we all know better. It's really an end run around free speech and a way to prevent Gov. Walker from ever having to worry about a fake David Kock calling. Check it out below, and read the rest at The Loop 21.

As if being a public employee in Wisconsin weren't bad enough, now drops a bill circulating in the state's legislature that would make it a crime just to have a sense of humor.
The proposed law, according to the Wisconsin Badger Herald, bans prank calls and specifically “forbids a caller from intentionally providing a false phone number and convincing the person receiving the call that it comes from someone other than the actual caller." Should it pass, it will clearly scare the be-Jesus out of just-hit pubescent boys across the state. But, what’s really the motivation for this new frontal assault on tasteless phone jokes and, ultimately, free speech?
It more than likely has to do with the prank call Governor Scott Walker (R), or as his friends probably like to call him 'Union-Busta,’ had with a Manhattan, NY-based blogger posing as prominent Republican donorDavid Koch.
The recorded call caught all of Gov. Walker's chest thumping, further exposing his use of Wisconsin's budget shortfall as an excuse to decimate public unions.Walker let it be known that he would not be having negotiations with the unions or their legislative supporters and even that he only appears on left-leaning MSNBC shows because he likes to debate, not because he thinks anyone would actually be watching...
Read more here:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is Medical Tourism The Answer to Rising Healthcare Costs?

By Shewit Woldu

We are no strangers to the ever-changing, and most notably, growing healthcare costs, and the impact it’s had to the economy. The numbers speak for themselves with employee-sponsored health insurance premiums having more than doubled in the last 9 years. In 2011, employees are expected to see even more of a rise in healthcare costs. One report forecasted that the health care will rise from an average of $9,028 to $9,821 per employee in 2011. As a result, Hewitt associates have predicted that they may resort to asking employees to cover 12% more of these costs from their own pockets. Kenneth Thorpe’s article reiterated these points, stating that in 2011, America’s federal government will expend $3.8 trillion, the second largest in history on healthcare.. He even points out the three large federally-funded health care programs Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP make up 21 percent of the federal budget. We know the problem, but do we know the solution? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is Tim Kaine the Black Virginian Choice?

(Excerpt of my weekly column on The Loop 21)

Last month’s mayoral race in Chicago was called a “black political disaster” and the next Senate race in Virginia could prove to be similar. With current Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), the cantankerous Renaissance lawmaker, author and Vietnam War vet, announcing his retirement, Democrats have pretty much settled on Tim Kaine as his best replacement.

Kaine, a current Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair and former governor of Virginia, is expected to announce a run pending the best picked news cycle and location. Democrats are elated and have little fear of Kaine losing to likely Republican challengerGeorge Allen, a former governor and Senator, who came within 10,000 votes of beating the now outgoing in 2006.

But don’t believe the hype, Kain isn’t the only man able to do the job. Despite its Capitol of the Confederacystigma, African Americans make up roughly 20 percent of the electorate in the Commonwealth. Surely this is a welcome mat for a door that plenty of African Americans can walk through. But do black voters and potential African American contenders even realize it?

Surely, politicians shouldn’t automatically be considered more qualified than anyone else based off their skin color. It's not about them understanding “their people” any better or being more empathetic. It's simply about them getting appropriate support in a political structure that has long left much to be desired in the way of qualified minorities running for office.
There shouldn't be a political test of color or diversity. Yet, rare is it when those qualifications take into account what is important to some of the most vulnerable populations. This is particularly pervasive when African Americans are running for office.

That said there are a number of qualified African American contenders that voters should be aware of...

About the Author
Connect: LinkedIn Facebook Twitter
john [at] 
A proud graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, John is currently a Master's of Public Health candidate at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University  where he is studying health policy & management. He is also a weekly contributor to theloop21.comand founder of So Educated (, an education policy and reform blog focused on widening the debate surrounding education and empowering parents and teachers - frequently the least thought of. 

Areas of interest include health care reform and education reform, particularly: access to health care, health care exchanges, and Medicare and Medicaid; in addition, charter schools,  K-12 funding, and educational equality.
John is wholeheartedly determined to contribute to the rapidly changing dialogue in the health care and education communities. He has made continuous contributions by conducting research, publishing articles, interviewing practitioners and professors, and engaging students through on-campus organizations.

John's publishings have appeared in fora such as: The Orlando SentinelThe Daily VoiceFrum Forum (formerly New MajorityWiretap magazineBlack Web 2.0The Daily CalifornianClub and Policy Net. In addition, his commentary has been dissected on Countdown with Keith OlbermannCNN,Think ProgressYahoo News, and Mediaite.

Previously, he served as a legislative fellow in the offices of the Honorable David Englin (D) and  David Bulova (D) of the Virginia House of Delegates, in the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, respectively. John also interned in the office of the State Attorney General of Virginia, and completed a Governor's Fellowship in the Office of Gov. Bob McDonnell where he worked with the deputy secretary of health on projects regarding aging, HIT and disability.