A+ R A-

George Curry

President Obama's Surprising Jobs Record

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) Although unemployment rates are unacceptably high, especially for African Americans, President Obama has done a better job improving the jobless rate than most critics are willing to concede.

That becomes abundantly clear when reading FactCheck.org’s dismantling of Senator Rand Paul’s attack on the president’s unemployment record. Just as he was caught plagiarizing, Paul has been caught again, this time for providing misleading information about Obama’s accomplishments.

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.

“Sen. Rand Paul says ‘black unemployment in America is double white unemployment’ and ‘hasn’t budged’ under President Obama,” the research group recounts before adding: “Actually, the black unemployment rate is lower now than when Obama took office, and the gap between the races is below the historical average. The black unemployment rate has averaged more than double the white rate for several decades.”

Like most believable lies, Paul’s charges are wrapped in partial truths.

“It is true that the black unemployment rate for November was double the white unemployment rate. The rate in November was 12.5 percent for blacks and 6.2 percent for whites, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, this is not new,” FactCheck.org noted.

However, it pointed out, “The current 12.5 percent unemployment rate for blacks is unquestionably high. But by historical standards the current black unemployment rate is consistent with the average from 1972 to 2004, and the ratio of black-to-white unemployment rates is actually below the historical average.”

The deeper the researchers dug, the stronger they made Obama’s case.

“We looked at the average rate of unemployment for blacks and whites in the first 58 months of the last four presidents who were reelected to a second term: Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. (We averaged the monthly unemployment rates from the first February in office to the first November in their second term.),” FactCheck,org stated.

And what did they find?

“Obama had the lowest average ratio (1.9), followed by Bush (2.1), Clinton (2.2), and Reagan (2.3).”

Seeking to further clarify, researchers acknowledged, “Paul was talking about the November unemployment rates and ratio – not the 58-month average unemployment rate and ratio – but even by that measure the black-to-white unemployment ratio is lower under Obama (2) than it was under Reagan (2.6), Clinton (2.4) and Bush (2.5) at this point in their second terms.”

Further dismantling Paul assertions, FactCheck.org stated, “Paul also said that the black unemployment rate ‘hasn’t budged’ under Obama, but it has. It reached a high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 and dropped to a low of 12.5 percent in November – lower than the 12.7 percent rate when Obama took office. That wasn’t the case for two of his recent predecessors, Reagan and Bush.

“Under Reagan, the black unemployment rate went up a full percentage point from 14.6 percent in January 1981 to 15.6 percent in November 1985 – even as the white unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 5.9 percent. Under Bush, the rates went up for both blacks and whites. But it went up faster for blacks, from 8.2 percent in January 2001 to 10.6 percent in November 2005 – the biggest increase in the black unemployment rate of any of the four presidents at that point in their second terms. The white unemployment rate went up more than a half percentage point, from 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent.”

Paul is a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2016. Last week, one of his chief rivals for the White House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), created a controversy when he said on former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s radio show: “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

The comment was immediately criticized by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) as “a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated.”

Ryan refused to apologize for his comments, saying in a statement later, “After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make. I was not implicating the culture of one community – but of society as a whole.”

Whether a brazen affront such as Ryan’s comment about “inner city” Black men or Rand Paul’s more subtle attack on Obama’s record dealing with unemployment, the Republican Party keeps proving it has done nothing to deserve the support of African Americans.

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

Cummings Exposes 'Dead End' Republican Politics

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) When Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, shares more information with conservative Fox News than with Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, that’s enough to make Cummings go ballistic.

And that’s just what he did when Issa sought to forcibly silence him on March 5. The heated exchange took place shortly after Lois Lerner, a former IRS official, refused to testify before the committee, citing her 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Issa was on a crusade to prove that the White House was behind the IRS’ decision to target conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status. Cummings contended no proof existed for such a claim.

Here’s a transcript provided by MediaMatters:

--

CUMMINGS: For the past year, the central Republican accusation in this investigation [microphone cut]

ISSA: We’re adjourned, close it down.

CUMMINGS: — that this was political collusion directed by, or on behalf of, the White House. Before our committee received a single document or interviewed one witness, Chairman Issa went on national television and said, and I quote, “This was the targeting of the President’s political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year.” End of quote.

ISSA: Ask your question.

CUMMINGS: If you will sit down, and allow me to ask the question, I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of this. We have members over here each who represent between them 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. That is absolutely un-American.

ISSA: We had a hearing. Hearing’s adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question, you had no question.

CUMMINGS: I do have a question.

ISSA: I gave you time for [inaudible], you gave a speech.

CUMMINGS: Chairman, what are you hiding?

ISSA OFF-CAMERA: She’s taking the Fifth, Elijah.

CUMMINGS: He continued this theme on Sunday, when he appeared on Fox News to discuss a Republican staff report, claiming that Miss Lerner was quote, at the center of this effort to, quote, target conservative groups. Although he provided a copy of his report to Fox. He refused my request to provide it to the members of the committee. The facts are, he cannot support these claims [emphasis added]. We have now interviewed 38 employees, who have all told us the same thing. That the White House did not direct this [inaudible] or even know about it at the time it was occurring. And none of the witnesses have provided any political motivation. The Inspector General, Russell George, told us the same thing. He found no evidence of any White House involvement, or political motivation.”

--

MediaMatters, the media watchdog group, cited e-mails that were even more damaging to Issa’s claim of White House interference.

It observed, “The Fox News segment Rep. Cummings was referring to took place on March 2, where Rep. Issa presented a draft copy of a report written by House Republicans, as well as previously undisclosed emails from Lerner, which Issa claimed revealed ‘evidence’ of political targeting.

“What was omitted during the Fox appearance was that the September 2010 emails reveal Lerner counseling her colleagues to be careful not to focus on political activity while examining 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Early in that email chain, which was obtained by Media Matters, Lerner wrote: “My object is not to look for political activity–more to see whether self-declared c4s are really acting like c4s. Then we’ll move on to c5, c6, c7 – it will fill up the work plan forever!”

“Furthermore, the emails do not appear to be about reviewing organizations’ applications for tax exempt status, which is the process the IRS is accused of inappropriately conducting. Instead, the emails reference the ‘self declarer project,’ which attempts to review groups which self-declare as tax exempt but do not file an actual application, to ensure those groups are still following the rules. (The ‘Self-Declarers Questionnaire’ which tracks these groups is entirely voluntary.)”

Early in the Obama administration, Republican strategists made no secret of their plan to use Congressional hearings to harass Obama. And this was a perfect example of executing that strategy.

According to Talking Points Memo, a reporter asked Issa afterward if he was still “confident” the investigation would “get to the bottom of this.”

Issa replied, “It may well be we have gotten to the bottom of it. At this point, roads lead to Ms. Lerner. The witness who took the Fifth. That becomes – she becomes one of the key characters at this point. Had she been willing to explain those emails which were provided through separate subpoenas, then we could have perhaps brought this to a close. Without that, it may dead end with Ms. Lerner.”

Dead end or not, Issa demonstrated how the Republican majority in the House can twist an institution to satisfy their political needs – even when the discrediting campaign ends up in a dead end.

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

My Sister's Keeper

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) In all the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, overlooked is that fact that our young girls also need to be targeted for special attention. Sure, they outpace Black males in college attendance and, in many instances, in the workplace. Still, that does not mean they do not also need special attention and encouragement.

Nothing illustrates this better than events of the past week. Sandwiched between President Obama’s White House announcement of his special effort to help Black males and jubilation over Lupita Nyong’o winning an Oscar for best supporting actress in “12 years a Slave” was news out of Florida that Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a “warning shot” in the direction of her estranged and abusive husband, will be retried and could face 60 years in prison instead of the original 20.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, the same prosecutor whose office failed to win murder convictions against George Zimmerman in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin and, more recently, against Michael Dunn for the death of Jordan Davis, announced that instead of the 20 years originally given to Alexander, she will seek to triple that by requesting that her three 20-year terms be served consecutively rather than concurrently.

Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2012 and was sentenced to 20 years under Florida’s 10-20 law that requires stiffer penalties for crimes committed with guns. On appeal, the conviction was overturned because Circuit Judge James Daniel placed the burden on Alexander to prove that she was acting in self-defense. In his instructions to the jury, the judge said Alexander had the responsibility to prove that she had been battered by her husband.

In a cruel twist, the prosecutor has announced that she will re-prosecute Alexander, this time seeking a longer sentence.

Marissa Alexander shouldn’t have ever been prosecuted, let alone convicted. If Florida’s Stand Your Ground law should apply to anyone, it should be Alexander, not George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn.

If convicted a second time, Alexander will join other Black women who make up the fastest growing segment of prisoners.

According to the Sentencing Project, the number of women in prison increased by 646 percent between 1980 and 2010, from 15,118 to 112,797. As of 2010, more than 1 million women were under the supervision of the criminal justice system.

Black women are three times more likely to be incarcerated than White women. While most men are in prison for violent offenses, women are more likely to be in prison for drugs or property crimes. Many, like Kemba Smith, become romantically entangled with drug dealers, often serving as their “mules” to transport drugs and money.

While Florida was gearing up to triple Marissa Alexander’s sentence, there was some good news out of Hollywood. The fact that Lupita Nyong’o was awarded an Oscar at Sunday’s Academy Awards lifted the spirits of dark-skin girls across the country and indeed around the world. African Americans, especially females, are told in so many ways that when it comes to skin color, White is right. And if you can’t be White, light is the next best thing.

Of course, there was the famous dolls test conducted by psychologists Ken and Mamie Clark, which was instrumental in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing racially segregated public schools. When asked to pick out the most beautiful doll, most Black girls selected White dolls over Black ones. When the test was repeated in recent years, the results were the same.

Muhammad Ali described racial brainwashing this way:

“We’ve been brainwashed. Everything good is supposed to be white. We look at Jesus, and we see a white with blond hair and blue eyes. We look at all the angels; we see white with blond hair and blue eyes. Now, I’m sure there’s a heaven in the sky and colored folks die and go to heaven. Where are the colored angels? They must be in the kitchen preparing milk and honey. We look at Miss America, we see white. We look at miss world, we see white. We look at Miss Universe, we see white. Even Tarzan, the king of the jungle in black Africa, he’s white. White Owl Cigars. White Swan soap, White Cloud tissue paper, White Rain hair rinse, White Tornado floor wax. All the good cowboys ride the white horses and wear white hats. Angel food cake is the white cake, but the devils food cake is chocolate.”

Little chocolate girls are still being peppered with those White-is-beautiful images. Yes, we need to save our Black boys. But we can’t save our community without saving Black girls, too.

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

"Run, Jesse, Run" – 30 Years Later

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) The recent Wall Street Project conference in New York City was old home week for many of us who were involved with Jesse Jackson’s first presidential campaign in 1984. There was Frank Watkins, the former candidate’s longtime press secretary and the driving force behind Jackson’s decision to run. Also present were Emma Chappell, the campaign’s national treasurer; Rev. Herb Daughtry, senior pastor of The House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn and an early supporter; economist Julianne Malveaux, who worked in Jackson’s presidential campaigns and four key parts of the 1984 rainbow – Jim Zogby, Butch Wing, Steve Cobble and Robert Borosage. Former Louisiana Congressman Cleo Fields shared memories as did former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

I was asked to moderate a discussion about the impact of the 1984 campaign on the nation and, yes, an African American now sitting in the White House. I covered Jackson’s first presidential run while working for the Chicago Tribune. I knew most of the major players, but it wasn’t until we sat down as a group with Jesse Jackson that we had collectively reflected on the historic events of three decades ago.

Cleo Fields recounted what the campaign meant to him in deeply personal terms.

“When I was in the fifth grade, I was going through a lot of depression,” Fields said. “The first day of school you had to state your name and what you wanted to be in the future. At the time, I wanted to be a police officer, but everyone before me had said doctor, lawyer or engineer. My mom had 10 children, my daddy had died and I had hand-me-downs.

“I stood up – I wanted to say something bigger than everyone else – so I said, ‘My name is Cleo Fields and I want to be (and the only thing I could think of was president) president of the United States of America.’ Everybody laughed, including the teacher. I didn’t want to go back to school because they thought it was a big joke and I was depressed about it.”

Two years later, Fields was present in the audience when Jackson asked students to repeat his trademark “I am Somebody” exhortation.

“It was at that moment that I started believing I can be anything I wanted to be,” Fields said. “I became a state senator at the age of 23. And that was because of Jesse Jackson. And a congressman at the age of 28. I became the Democratic nominee for governor at the age of 33. And that’s only because of the inspiration from Rev. Jesse Jackson and I just want to say thank you.”

While working as a student organizer for Jackson, Fields was invited to join Jackson’s national staff.

Jackson’s presidential runs also represented a breakthrough for James J. Zogby, an Arab-American.

“For me and my community, what was historic about this was it brought together two parts of my life,” he said. “I had always been involved in civil rights and anti-war work. But when you became an Arab, when you put on the Arab hat, then allies you had in those movements wouldn’t talk to you anymore.”

Zogby told of politicians, including former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, returning campaign contributions donated by Arab-American groups.

“He [Jackson[ said, ‘Our time has come.’ It was my community’s time, too. We felt welcome and included for the first time in an American political campaign.”

David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor, said he would not have been elected without the ’84 presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson. He said, “I know what Jesse did for me.”

Frank Watkins, the former press secretary, had urged Jackson to run for president against Jimmy Carter in 1979, but Jackson declined. But this time around, Jackson was willing to listen.

“I wrote a memo outlining the reasons for Rev. Jackson to run: increase voter registration, to increase political awareness of people and to galvanize the Black community to get more involved in politics,” Watkins remembered of his 1982 document. “I didn’t necessarily think that we would win, but I tried to put together a strategy where we could win.”

Jackson said a number of Black leaders were urged to run before he made his decision to enter the contest, including former Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young. When they declined, Jackson stepped forward.

“It really was not running for office, I was running as an organization,” Jackson stated. “…We kept trying to pull the party back to the moral center, which we called the Third Rail. What became clear was that civil rights, social justice, gender equality, workers’ rights were not on the agenda. Somebody had to get to the stage to get the cameras to hear us. We had no platform on which to stand to make our case. In the end, that was driving the situation.”

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

Another Florida Man Gets Away with Murder

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) As we approach the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder on Sanford, Fla., justice again has been shortchanged in the Sunshine State. It was incredulous that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman and wannabe cop, was found not guilty of murder after killing the unarmed Black teenager who had visited a nearby convenience store to purchase a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Tea.

Last Saturday, a hung jury could not decide whether Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old White computer programmer, was guilty of murdering Jordan Davis by fatally shooting him in the chest groin. According to court testimony, Dunn pulled into the parking lot of a Jacksonville convience store and became involved in an argument after he accused 17-year-old Jordan Davis and three of his teenage friends of playing their music too loudly.

Apparently, an argument erupted. Dunn’s lawyer claims that Davis used vulgarity-laden language to tell his client what to do to himself. Witnesses said Dunn shouted at Davis: “You can’t talk to me that way!”

Taken by themselves, the words have no special meaning. However, when uttered by a White man to a Black teen in a region that prided itself as this nation’s last bastion of White supremacy, they take on a separate life of their own. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago when Blacks were expected to stare at the ground when speaking to White folks. They were expected to say “Yes, sir” and “Yes, Ma’m,” knowing that their parents, regardless of their age, would always be addressed by their first names, even by White children. Refusing to show what was considered proper respect to Whites often had violent repercussions, even death.

I can almost hear the words: You can’t talk to me that way!

And to prove his point, Dunn opened fire on the Black teenagers, striking Jordan Davis twice. Even as the teens peeled rubber trying to get away, Dunn, 6’4” and 280 pounds, continued to shoot into the vehicle, firing 10 times in all.

He would later say that he thought he saw the barrel of a shotgun protruding from a window of the Dodge Durango SUV. But no such weapon was ever found and for good reason – it did not exist. Even Dunn’s girlfriend said he never told her about the teens having a shotgun.

And what did Dunn do after he killed the Black teenager? He returned to the hotel room where he was staying after attending his only son’s wedding. He acted as if he had just finished a routine day at the office. He didn’t bother to notify police. Dunn acted as if nothing had happened.

But something did happen. Jordan Davis had his life cut short that day. The high school senior would never get the chance to make his parents proud by donning a cap and gown and walking across a stage to receive his high school diploma. He would not get a chance to attend college or pursue a career. He wouldn’t even get a chance to breathe again because he wasn’t supposed to talk to a White man that way.

According to Rolling Stone, Dunn told detectives, “They didn’t follow my orders. What was I supposed to do if they wouldn’t listen?”

For starters, he wasn’t supposed to take the kid’s life. But he did. His lawyer plans to argue that Dunn was Standing his Ground.

His lawyer, Corey Strolla, told Rolling Stone last year, “I don’t have to prove the threat, just that Mike Dunn believed it.”

Evidently, Strolla sold the jury on that belief. They couldn’t agree that his client murdered Jordan Davis, who was shot twice. But in their contorted reasoning, they found him guilty of three counts of attempted second degree murder. In other words, he was not guilty of murdering Davis, but was guilty of attempting to murder Davis’ three friends, neither of whom were struck by a bullet.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey said she will retry Dunn on first-degree murder charges. But this is the same State Attorney who unsuccessfully prosecuted George Zimmerman for first-degree murder. If she puts on a case as poorly as she did against Zimmerman, Dunn won’t have anything additional to worry about.

Still, he’ll probably die in prison. And if some of the true thugs catch up with him in the slammer, he might like how they are going to talk to him.

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

Page 4 of 35

Quantcast