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George Curry

Surge in Polls Helps Obama's Re-election Prospects

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(NNPA) After winning the show-down with House Republicans shortly before Christmas over extending unemployment insurance and receiving an uptick in his job-approval ratings, President Obama is now in a better position to win re-election, despite a sluggish economy.

With the Iowa caucus over and New Hampshire as the next GOP battleground, Obama is expecting to face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the general election next November. Former Speaker of House Newt Gingrich, like other candidates before him, briefly assumed the front-runner mantle before his poor performance in Iowa.

The good news for Obama is that his populist themes and his willingness to call out Republicans are winning over voters.

A story in the Washington Post observed: “A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that Americans are still broadly disapproving of Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs, the top issues, but that views of his overall performance have recovered among key groups, including independents, young adults and seniors.”

It noted, “Obama’s job-approval rating is now its highest since March, excluding a temporary bump after the killing of Osama bin Laden: Forty-nine percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.”

The poll, taken Dec. 15-18, found Republican Congressional support has fallen to 20 percent.

Both parties have actively courted middle-class voters. And Obama seems to be winning that matchup as well, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. When asked about protecting the middle class, 50 percent of respondents said they trusted Obama over Republicans, who were favored by only 35 percent.

This does not mean that Obama is guaranteed re-election.

While Democrats enjoyed watching Republican candidates form a circular firing squad in Iowa, aided by unprecedented spending by outside groups called super PACs, they realize that once the GOP selects a nominee, all that negative campaigning will be aimed at Obama. A large segment of the GOP hates Mitt Romney, but they hate Obama more.

This will be the first presidential election since a pair of 2010 Supreme Court decision cleared the way for unlimited corporate and individual donations to support independent political organizations. It is estimated that such contributions to candidates seeking federal office could reach $6 billion to $7 billion this year.

On another front, the Washington Post reported Sunday that Republican officials have created a video catalogue of every word Obama has uttered since launching his 2008 presidential campaign.

The story said, “The GOP playbook is designed to take one of Obama’s greatest assets – the power of his oratory – and turn it into a liability.”

One attack on Obama will feature a 2009 clip from the “Today” show in which he said that if he could not fix the economy in three years, “then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told the Post, “That’s a clip the American people will hear and see over and over and over again…The nice thing about Barack Obama is that he’s given us plenty of material. The one thing he loves to do is give speeches.”

Obama plans to use even more speeches to argue that he is a stronger advocate for the middle-class and unemployed workers than Republicans. He hopes to depict the GOP as concerned only about the plight of superrich and keeping tax loopholes for large corporations.

Like Harry Truman, who campaigned against a do-nothing Congress, Obama is drawing a sharp contrast between his administration and Republicans. However, Obama can’t totally disassociate himself from Congress if he wants any additional legislative victories. One of his first tests in 2012 will be to obtain a one-year extension of unemployment benefits, which is set to expire in less than two months.

Obama’s team also must do a better job communicating his message if he is to win a second term. Many polls show that although Obama’s personal approval ratings are low, many of the policies he has proposed – including using a combination of higher taxes on the wealthy and spending cuts to lower the deficit – resonate with most voters, including many Republicans.

Both Democrats and Republicans are disappointed that the economy remains sluggish.

When asked on the CBS program “60 Minutes” why he should be re-elected, Obama replied, “Not only saving this country from a Great Depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we’re going to start lowering health care costs and you’re never going to go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Making sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts and the system is more stable and secure. Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Decimating al Qaeda, including Bin Laden being taken off the field.”

He added, “But when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And we’re going to keep on at it.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

Ron Paul's Racist Rants

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(NNPA) If you’ve watched any of the Republican debates, you’ll remember Ron Paul, the 76-year-old libertarian congressman from Texas whose oversized suit coats look like they are about to fall off his frail shoulders. You’ll also remember that no debate questioner asked him about the overtly racist views that appeared in his newsletters for two decades.

But now that Paul has surged to front-runner status in Iowa, he is being grilled about comments that range from denigrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to objecting to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the 1990s, he described Dr. King as a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and “seduced underage girls and boys.” He even claimed – without a hint of proof – that Dr. King “made a pass at” fellow civil rights warrior Ralph Abernathy, who succeeded King as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

When Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King Holiday bill into law, Paul wrote, “What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!” He added, “We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.”

The controversial remarks were published in various for-profit Ron Paul newsletters in the 1980s and 1990s. The newsletters included: Ron Paul’s Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul’s Survival Report and the Ron Paul’s Investment Letter.

On January 8, 2008, The New Republic ran an article on Paul titled, “Angry White Man.” It was accompanied by an illustration of Paul wearing a confederate necktie and rebel hat. The story, written by James Kirchick, noted that Ron Paul’s newsletters were published on a monthly basis from 1978 to at least 1999. Most are on file in the right-wing extremists literature collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Kansas.

Here are some excerpts from the newsletters, which were said to earn Paul at least $1million a year:

· After the uprising in Watts, the Ron Paul Political Report said in June 1992, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.”

· According to the newsletter, the uprising was caused by government-backed “’civil rights,’ quotas, mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black tv shows, black tv anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda.”

· “*… If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-age male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be,” one report said.

· According to a newsletter bearing Paul’s name, “…Opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions.”

· The late congresswoman Barbara Jordon of Texas was called the “archetypical half-educated victimologist.”

· I* a December 1989 edition of Ron Paul’s Investment Letter, it was predicted that “Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities.” According to the publication, “…Mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white ‘haves.’” · I* In June 1991, following a racial incident in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, D.C., one headline screamed, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.”

· I* In October of 1992, a newsletter bearing Paul’s name stated, “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”

· “* Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of black males in that city are semi-criminal if not entirely criminal,” one Ron Paul newsletter asserts.

· * Praising former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 1990, Ron Paul said through his newsletter that “our priority should be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race-privilege, anti-foreign meddling message of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom.”

Ron Paul’s venom was not limited to his newsletters. While many were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in 2004, Ron Paul was still objecting to it, saying June 4, 2004 on the floor of Congress, “…the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.”

Incredulously, Ron Paul wants us to believe that not only did he not write the un-bylined racist comments in the newsletters that carried his name, but that he was unaware they appeared in his publications.

“I didn’t write them, I didn’t read them at the time, and I disavow them,” he told Gloria Borger of CNN. “I never read that stuff. I was probably unaware of it 10 years after it was written, and it’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this. CNN does it every single time. When are you going to wear yourself out?”

When Borger continued to press Paul, he abruptly terminated the interview. “These are pretty incendiary,” she told Paul. Unclipping his microphone, he said, “Only because of people like you.”

No, only because of Ron Paul’s documented record of racism.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

The Obama Blueprint for Re-Election

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(NNPA) With the next election 11 months away, President Obama has begun sharpening his populist message and drawing a sharp contrast between his vision for America and the Republican alternative.

Obama’s speech last week in Osawatomie, Kan. provided an example of how he plans to attack his Republican opposition.

“There is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. ‘The market will take care of everything,’ they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty…That theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work.”

President Obama realizes that it will not be sufficient to simply portray his Republican challenger as hawking a discredited economic theory while he highlights economic inequality. In an interview that aired Sunday night on the television program “60 Minutes,” Steve Kroft asked: “Why do you think you deserve to be re-elected? What have you accomplished?”

Without hesitating, Obama replied, “Not only saving the country from a Great Depression. Not only saving the auto industry. But putting in place a system in which we’re going to start lowering health care costs and you’re never going to go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. Making sure that we have reformed the financial system, so we never again have taxpayer-funded bailouts and the system is more stable and secure. Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. Decimating al Qaeda, including Bin Laden being taken off the field. But when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And we’re going to keep at it.”

It would be a serious mistake to think that Obama can match his 2008 numbers in the upcoming election. Don’t forget that his 53 percent of the popular vote was the largest share a presidential candidate had attained in 20 years.

In his “60 Minutes” interview, President Obama acknowledged the economy could be a stumbling block to his re-election.

“We’ve gone through an incredibly difficult time in this country,” he said. “And I would be surprised if the American people felt satisfied right now. They shouldn’t be satisfied. We’ve got a lot more work to do in order to get this country and the economy moving in ways that benefit everybody, as opposed to just a few.”

The electoral contest between Obama and the eventual Republican nominee begins almost even, with the president holding 186 votes in his core states and the GOP controlling 191. As always, the outcome will be largely determined by what happens in the 12 battleground states.

Changing demographics could work to Obama’s advantage.

“The six Midwest/Rust Belt states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) are all marked by slow growth and by a relatively small and slow-growing percentage of voters from communities of color,” according to the Center for American Progress report on electoral votes titled, “The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election.”

It continued, “These states are projected to average around 15 percent minority voters in 2012, ranging from a low of 10 percent in Iowa to a high of 21 percent in Pennsylvania. But this relatively small base of minority voters is supplemented for Democrats by fairly strong support among these states’ growing white college-graduate populations, who gave Obama an average 5-point advantage in 2008.”

The three Southwest swing states – Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico – have experienced a significant increase in voters of color, primarily Latinos. Their projected non-White electorate is expected to average 36 percent, ranging from 21 percent of the electorate in Colorado to 52 percent in New Mexico.

In the three New South swing states – Virginia, North Carolina and Florida – there is both good news and bad news for the president. The good news is that voters of color are expected to comprise 31 percent of the electorate. The bad news is that unlike the Southwest, White college graduates in the South favor Republicans over Democrats.

As Obama strategists carefully craft his re-election, it is obvious that the plan includes resisting efforts to depict him as a weak president.

When asked in a news conference about Republican charges that his foreign policy is one of appeasement, President Obama replied: “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al Qaeda leaders who were taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or, whoever’s left out there. Ask them about that.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

No Supercommittee Deal is the Best Deal

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(NNPA) Although automatic cuts in defense spending and domestic programs are scheduled to go into effect as a result of the congressional supercommittee’s failure to reach a budget deal by Wednesday, those reductions are far better than what Republicans on the committee were proposing and Democrats were willing to accept.

According to the Congressional Budget Committee, defense spending will be slashed automatically by 10 percent in January 2013 while domestic programs will be reduced by 7.8 percent. Additionally, Medicare spending will be lowered by 2 percent. Exempted from the automatic cuts are Social Security, veteran benefits, Medicaid and certain low-income programs.

“No deficit deal is better than a bad deal, and a bad deal may be the only kind this committee can reach,” Orson Aguilar, executive director of the Greenlining Institute, said as it became clear the committee of six Democrats and six Republicans would not come to an agreement. “As we reported this summer in our study, ‘Corporate America Untaxed,’ nearly all of the deficit reduction goal can be achieved by closing down offshore corporate tax havens and making the richest companies pay their fair share. There is no need to devastate vital programs for the elderly and other vulnerable Americans.”

The goal of the supercommittee, formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, was to reduce the budget by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. As an incentive to complete a deal, an automatic trigger was set go into effect if the committee failed to reach that goal, slashing an equal amount from military and domestic spending.

Under the most progressive GOP proposal, if it can be called that, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) offered $300 billion in new taxes, a far cry from an equal split between spending reductions and new tax revenue favored by Democrats.

What is more disturbing is that Democrats on the committee were willing to make concessions that would hurt their core constituents. They offered a proposal to reduce deficits by $3 trillion over 10 years that included $500 billion of savings in health care programs, higher Medicare premiums, and a new form of indexing inflation that would reduce cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries.

The compromise deficit proposals were to the right of the Simpson-Bowles plan of last year, with minimal revenues and as much as $600 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, the Greenlining Institute noted.

Greenlining, a multi-ethnic public policy and advocacy group, wrote to the committee in August stating that simply closing offshore tax havens could reduce the deficit by as much as $1 trillion. One of its studies showed that by using offshore tax havens, major companies such as Exxon and General Electric pay far less of their income in taxes than the average American, and in some cases no taxes at all.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans have been steadfast in supporting their base, which includes the wealthy and major corporations.

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, 52.5 percent of the Bush tax cuts go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers. The Treasury Department reports that extending the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent of taxpayers will cost $678 billion over the next decade.

GOP leaders refuse to consider letting the Bush tax cuts expire. In a concession to Republicans last year, President Obama broke a campaign pledge by agreeing to extend the tax cuts beyond their original expiration date. He made that agreement in exchange for Republicans extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cuts.

There is broad public support for requiring the wealthy to shoulder a fairer share of the tax burden.

In an October Washington Post-ABC News poll, three-quarters of Americans backed a tax hike on millionaires. A Washington Post-Bloomberg News poll that same month found that more than two-thirds supported raising taxes on households earning at least $250,000.

The committee seemed doomed from inception, evenly divided with no member willing to break party ranks. The supercommittee’s inability to reach a deal marks the third high-profile budget failure over the past 12 months, following a bipartisan deficit commission and unsuccessful talks last summer between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner.

The decision to invoke automatic spending cuts as part of raising the national debt limit in August was intended to pressure Congress into making tough budget cuts. But now that it didn’t happen both Republicans and Democrats are looking into ways to come up with another gimmick that will again postpone making tough decisions.

Republicans conveniently ignore that fact that the deficit problem was caused by a combination of two George W. Bush wars, a poor economy and two Bush tax cuts. When Bush assumed office, he had a $128 billion surplus. Bush, on the other, ran up deficits every year he was in office.

When Obama assumed office, the deficit was more than $11 trillion. An additional $4 trillion was added under Obama, some stemming from Bush’s 2009 budget. Overall, approximately 75 percent of the deficit was incurred while Bush was in office. Where were the Republican voices then?

Politicians being politicians, look for some more political shenanigans that will do everything except seriously tackle our fiscal problems.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

The Legacy of Jesse Jackson

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(NNPA) Al Sharpton has patterned his career so closely after the Jesse Jackson model that he could be justifiably charged with identity theft. Like Jackson, he began wearing a Martin Luther King medallion around his neck. Like Jackson, he started his own civil rights organization. Like Jackson, he ran for president of the United States. Like Jackson, he now has his own radio and television shows. And like Jackson, he has become a confidante of the man who occupies the White House.

At a ceremony last week at Georgetown University to celebrate Jesse Jackson’s 70th birthday and a half century in the civil rights movement, Sharpton proved that he not only had studied Jesse Jackson, but the civil rights movement just as carefully.

“We try to go from ’68 to ’08 – like we leapfrogged from Dr. King to the president of the United States, Barack Obama,” Sharpton explained. Much of the progress in Black economic and political development between the time Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis and the election of Obama in 2008 should be largely attributed to Jackson, Sharpton suggested.

Jesse Jackson was among the handful of top aides to Dr. King. When King was killed in Memphis, Ralph Abernathy succeeded King as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but it was Jackson who assumed the mantle as Black America’s top civil rights leader.

Jackson, who was selected by King to head Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, challenged major corporations to not only hire more Blacks, but to expand opportunities for African-Americans to own automobile dealerships, fast food franchises and provide goods and services to Fortune 500 companies.

Sharpton listed Richard Parsons, former CEO of Time Warner, and American Express CEO Ken Chenault as beneficiaries of Jackson’s early work.

“There would not have been anybody in the corporate elite had it not been a movement led by Jackson to say you can’t put a glass ceiling on how far we can go,” Sharpton explained. “It wasn’t that Blacks weren’t qualified to be chairman of major corporations until the ‘80s. There was no movement that had broken the ceiling.”

Lifting the ceiling from national politics was also part of the Jesse Jackson legacy. Although other African-Americans had run for president – including Frederick Douglass, Shirley Chisholm and Dick Gregory – none were as successful as Jackson in 1984 and 1988.

Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who organized the appreciation event with his wife, Marcia Dyson, who served as Operation PUSH Trade Bureau’s first chief of staff, said what many in the audience were thinking: “Without Jesse Jackson, there would be no Barack Obama.”

The Jackson-Obama relationship turned sour after Jackson was recorded saying that the then-presidential candidate talks down to African-Americans and he would like to dismember a certain part of Obama’s body. While that crude comment hurt Jackson’s standing among African-Americans excited about the prospect of electing the nation’s first Black president, it does not alter the fact that Obama would not be in the White House without Jackson’s presidential campaigns.

Sharpton was uncharacteristically diplomatic in how he addressed the relationship between Obama and Jackson, noting that after Dr. King had helped Carl Stokes become the first Black mayor of Cleveland, he was excluded from the victory celebration.

“The misnomer is that students watching think because you weren’t at the party that you had nothing to do with the achievement,” Sharpton said. “Don’t get confused by the invitation list to the party with those who created what you are celebrating.”

At the tribute to Jackson, he was celebrated for developing a long list of leaders, including Sharpton, Former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, political strategist Donna Brazile, activist Marcia Dyson, Assistant Agriculture Secretary Joseph Leonard, Black Leadership Forum Executive Director Gary Flowers, ACLU Washington Director Laura W. Murphy and Lezli Baskerville, president of the National Association For Equal Opportunity (NAFEO).

Rev. Freddie Haynes of Dallas, in what he called an oratorical thank-you note to Rev. Jesse Jackson, spoke about the impact of Jackson’s presidential campaigns.

Looking at Jackson, he recalled: “After your speech I was in the barber shop – and you know how we kick it in the barber shop in the ‘hood – and some brothers were talking about, ‘Did you hear Jesse?’ Jesse. Jesse. Jesse. And I wasn’t feeling them disrespecting Rev. Jesse Jackson like that. So I said, ‘Do you know Rev. Jesse Jackson?’ And the brother jumped right back at me and said, ‘I don’t know Jesse, but Jesse knows me.’”

Sharpton said Jesse Jackson led the way in urging children to spend less time in front of TV, curbing violence in the Black community and getting youth to believe that “I Am Somebody.”

Sharpton stated, “In many ways, I would say that from the economic fights from the end of the decade he started in the ‘70s to the political empowerment that resulted in the first Black attorney general and the first Black president to the whole concept of coalition building, he has defined the last part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century.”

Michael Eric Dyson put it this way: “Like Muhammad Ali, he shook up the world.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

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