Monday, October 31, 2011

Pre-Herman Cain black presidential candidates

With Herman Cain dipping his feet in the presidential nomination pool, the idea of another black candidate running for the Oval Office is headline news.

However, a quick review of American history reveals that as early as 1904 an African-American named George Edwin Taylor from Arkansas sought the presidential nomination for the National Liberty Party.

In fact, other African-Americans have sought nomination for or campaigned for the U. S. presidency representing major and minor political parties, including Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver (Peace and Freedom Party, 1964), NYC Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (Democratic Party, 1972) ( People’s Party, 1976), Lenora Fulani (New Alliance Party, 1984), Jesse Jackson (Democratic Party, 1984, 1988) and (Alan Keys, Republican Party, 1992).

What’s ironic is that in Africa and most Caribbean countries a man of color as president is the norm.

Herman Cain: A (Bitter)Taste of the Limelight

With sexual harassment accusations dogging Herman Cain, he is getting his first taste of intense public scrutiny by the media. Truth or no, it places a cloud of suspicion over his presidential bid that might kill his chances.

Well, maybe not. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Norman weathered similar charges during his October 1991 nominaton hearings when former colleague, Anita Hill, alleged that he made inappropriate sexual remarks.

Despite her testimony, the Senate voted to confirm his nomination (by President George H.W. Bush) 52-48.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It makes you wonder...

Case #1

Recently, I received three letters from the same department of an insurance company with the same date but different instructions about when to pay my back premiums.

First letter--Pay by 10/26/11
Second letter--Pay immediately
Third letter--Pay within 10 days of receipt of letter

Confused, I called the insurance company to ask which pay date I should honor. After fumbling for words, the customer rep put me on hold to check with a supervisor. When she returned, she advised (in a stern voice) that I pay before the 26th.

This major corporation, however, only accepts payments by mail or automatic withdrawal. No telephone or online payments. Go figure.

Case #2

A cousin of mine who had applied for early social security (at age 62) continues working fulltime. Consequently, she must stay within income guidelines established by the Social Security Administration or pay back a portion of benefits received.

During the past three months in different letters (some arriving on the same day), the SSA has informed her that:

1. She owes several thousand dollars which will be recouped by stopping her checks for a specified period of time.

2. She owes several thousand dollars and must pay immediately.

3. She will receive a check for a smaller amount the next month.

4. She is owed back money from SSA calculation error.

This week, she received another later stating that she will not receive checks for the next two months.

What happened to the "security" in Social Security?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: Wimps No More

U.S. suffragettes in the 1900s. Civil rights marchers in the sixties. Protestors at the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle in early 2000s.

Observers questioned these groups' motives, tactics, even their right to assemble, often labeling them misguided, disruptive of civic order, or “outside agitators.” Today’s Occupy Wall Street protestors face similar criticism.

Nonetheless, OWS protestors give a public face to Americans’ frustration at the ineptitude of state and federal governments and the perceived avarice of multinational corporations when addressing the nation’s financial crisises.

For example, in order to circumvent recent congressional legislation limiting onerous bank fees, some commercial banks introduced new “fees” (e.g. for debit card usage or previously “free” checking accounts) to make up for revenue shortfalls.

Nonetheless, certain media pundits argue that OWS protestors are not representative of groups that suffer the most economic hardship—low income and working families. Others say that OWS needs a coherent message—to galvanize public attention—or a credible spokesperson to articulate clearly their grievances.

Last week, on Bill Maher’s Real Time, guest P. J. O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, asked, “What solutions do they offer?” Come on O’Rourke. Neither Washington nor Wall Street has long-term solutions for long-term problems that confront the nation—from curbing the deficit to creating jobs. Why should protest leaders have answers to complex economic issues?

Occupy Wall Street is slowly spreading to other parts of the nation…and the world. More citizens are expressing their discontent. Let us hope that this nascent movement grows large enough that those in public office or on corporate boards no longer consider us a nation of wimps.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Job Promises: easy to make; difficult to keep

Most Republicans vying for the 2012 presidential nomination bash the Obama administration for failing to create jobs; they confidently promise to get unemployed Americans working again.

If reducing unemployment is so easy to accomplish, why no has prior administration (i.e. the Bush Administration) done so successfully?

Job growth occurs primarily in one of two ways: through private sector (small and large businesses) hiring or public works initiatives by the federal government.

Do Republicans have a secret weapon? If so, what is it?

Democrats also have failed to provide us with clear-cut explanations about their policies and plans to get America working again.

How exactly will President Obama’s billion-dollar jobs plan work? How many thousands of jobs can we expect it to generate? Who will be eligible for these jobs? What kinds of jobs will be created?

Republican primary candidates also need to answer hard questions about their plans for job creation.

Mostly, however elected officials give us slogans and sound bites.

The public needs substance—the how, what, and when of Democratic or Republican plans to create jobs.

On the other hand, the media and the public should demand concrete answers.