Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Only Two Arguments Democrats Need On Mitt Romney’s Taxes

My latest in Mediaite looks at Romney's taxes from a different perspective. How should Democrats go after him? What's really the most effective strategy?

Mitt Romney has bank accounts flung across the globe; The Washington Post noted a few countrieswhere he has them, including Luxembourg, Ireland, Cayman Islands, and, until 2010, Switzerland, which is a notorious tax haven.
I’m not suggesting that Romney has done anything untoward when it comes to his taxes. On the contrary, it looks as though he has toed the legal line extremely well. But therein lies his problem:
(1) If the system as is benefits people like Romney so much, what is the motivation for him to change the tax code? Clearly he’s doing just fine.
(2) How exactly will Romney make the argument that the average American is overtaxed? He’s not one of them. And most wealthy people in his position are paying a similarly low effective tax rate. How can he help the middle class with tax woes?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Am I Playing the Race Card?

Since my article "Red Tails Could Set Black Film Back" came out all kinds of discussion has taken place. I'm glad. I think the film as well as George Lucas's comments on it are worthy of a candid conversation. That that conversation appears to be happening (not just do to this particular piece but in general) is a very good thing.

What I find peculiar though is this: Some readers have asserted that I'm playing the race card. How so? It wasn't me who broadcast to the nation that Hollywood wouldn't support this movie due to its all-black cast. It also wasn't me who said that the movie "was made for black teenagers." So while it may be easier to assert that the writers sparking commentary about the film are "pulling the race card", it's really just lazy and flat wrong.

Lastly, if I was wrong and the typical audience for black films wasn't predominantly black, then why would Hollywood have such strong misgivings about their ability to market an all-black film? Wouldn't they jump at the opportunity if they felt everyone would want to see it, especially considering George Lucas was behind it?

See the problem here isn't just Hollywood, it's also the fact it's still hard for society to have candid conversations about these kinds of subjects.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

“Red Tails” Could Set Black Film Back

Over at NewsOne, my newest outlet for writing opinions of all kinds, I've sparked a discussion about the movie "Red Tails," the all-black film produced and marketed by George Lucas. Below is an excerpt. Check out the full story here.
Red Tails, an all-black film, is opening January 20 at a theater near you. If you happen to see it, do me a small favor: take a gander at the rest of the audience and see if they resemble the thespians on film. Chances are, they will. Supporting black films, and black art in general, should be a tenet of the African-American community. And frankly, it’s usually the African-American community that Black films are accustomed to relying on. What makes Red Tails unique in this regard is that it was produced, financed, and marketed by George Lucas, the billionaire creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, who is white.
SEE ALSO: Brandy, Monica Reunite For Record
Red Tails tells the story of a crew of African-American pilots who are called to service while in the Tuskegee Airmen training program during World War II. Lucas is to be commended for truly believing in this story — he started working on it in 1988 — to bring it to the big screen and to do so with his own money. Sure, he has plenty, but Red Tails cost $58 million to produce and another $40 million to market — that’s not chump change. And Lucas also gave us a candid bird’s-eye view into how Hollywood thinks. 
While appearing on the John Stewart Show, he said he was shocked not only at the fact Hollywood wasn’t willing to get behind the film but also by the reason he was given: they didn’t “know” how to market a film with an all-black cast, Hollywood said.
Red Tails is a universal story of integrity, leadership, perseverance, and values. There’s little doubt that everyone should watch it. I wish for it to be successful and spawn more faith in the creation, promotion, and patronage of black film, but chances are it won’t achieve any of that.
And George Lucas is to blame.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dr. King vs. President Obama: No Comparison Necessary

A bright colleague of mine, on this year's anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth, wrote an article positing the question of whether Dr. King would publicly endorse President Obama for re-election. My colleague then proceeded to answer the question by contrasting the late Dr. King’s track record with President Obama’s. Initially, this may seem like a practical means of discovering the answer to this strange inquiry; however, there are some serious problems with the rationale used in his commentary and generally with people that are quick to criticize the president.

In his piece, Wilson expressed severe discontent with the President's efforts to deal with the housing crisis in comparison to Dr. King's leadership in the civil rights movement to challenge racial discrimination in the housing market.

Wilson posited,

"Whether Congress goes after fraudulent lenders are certainly not within Obama’s discretion. However, the range of enforcement the Justice Department pursues utilizing existing laws is directly under Obama’s discretion, and that of his Attorney General Eric Holder.

Clearly, this is a case of having spoken too soon as, less than two weeks following his article’s publishing, President Obama directed AG Eric Schneiderman to head up a new mortgage fraud unit which would essentially serve as a Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group further extending on the already established Federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Moreover,

Secondly, the article and situation Mr. Wilson refers to below for his point:

"President Obama has sought to enshrine “prolonged detention” of terrorism suspects into the legal system. Such detention would prevent suspects from gaining access to courts to address charges brought against them, even though that is guaranteed in the constitution’s sixth amendment. Obama finally got his wish. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes language that will allow for exactly the sort of detention envisioned in 2009, months after Obama took office. A constitutional scholar not only neutering constitutional protections but codifying such denigration (with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act), is as incongruous as seeing Tim Tebow in a brothel…with a Super Bowl ring on," unreasonably implicates the President in an imaginary conspiracy.  

For one, the President didn't seek to enshrine; the system was already in place and after failing to topple Gitmo several times during his presidency, he chose the best option available: to make it the fairest indefinite detention system he could. Having noted the apparent failed critique of the initial portion of the commentary, it would do well for Obama critics to allow the president to do his job before judging: he still has a lot of time left.

Lastly, I see no real basis to attempt to contrast Dr. King and President Obama. These two men, both led in different circumstances and times; however, despite the seemingly discrepancies between the men’s political records, according to Dr. King’s dream, I can only imagine that he would be proud of our president for what he has done so far. Yes, it is true that perhaps the President is neither doing anything immediate nor specifically beneficial to African-Americans, but he is not just a Black president; he is the President of the United States. This country has issues that are affecting everyone and so that continues to be the theme of his Administration: to help everyone. The president has proven himself to be worthy of a second term, which without, nobody wins.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NDAA's Critics are Wrong

By CJ Louis

Many people have somehow gotten the idea that certain sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stifle our civil rights by allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens on the mere suspicion that they are loosely affiliated with Al-Qaeda or if citizens simply decide to openly oppose the government. This is not true.

The NDAA for people who don’t know anything at all, is a law passed annually for the past 50 years. At its core, it’s a piece of defense legislation that simply details the spending budgets and authority of our Defense Agencies. Sometimes, things are added in to detail specific projects or initiatives that the Federal Government is taking on at the time. This year is the first time it has received such widespread international attention from the masses. Why? I won’t make any unfounded assertions, but it’s no mystery that the President has been on thin ice ever since he was sworn into the White House because of this and every move he makes is under intense scrutiny, and with good reason, because our nation is in a very delicate state.

The National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 is controversial among the general public mainly for the following two portions of the legislation:

  1. Subtitle D – Counterterrorism: Section 1021: Affirmation of the Authority of the Armed Forces of the United States to Detain Covered Persons Pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
  2. Subtitle D – Counterterrorism: Section 1022: Military Custody For Foreign Al-Qaeda Terrorists.
A little context: three days after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress passed a joint resolution known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. The AUMF granted the use of our military against those found to be responsible for the September 11th attacks on the United States and granted the President the authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.