Category: Children/Youth


There are defining moments in each president’s term of office. The death of

President Obama

Osama bin Laden may become the most important incident that President Obama has done as the leader of America. This successful mission has given Americans the opportunity to be patriotic and believe in the president.

There will always be a debate on what happened to the body and why was it buried at sea? There will always be the non-believers who don’t believe that Osama bin Laden was a real person, and news of his death was a fabrication of facts and information.

Mitt Romney

But for the millions of Americans who feel they have been vindicated by Bin Laden’s death are able to celebrate with other citizens. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney called it “a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere, and praised our intelligence community, and military, and the president.”

President Obama’s poll numbers have increased by 10%, and he is being congratulated by many of his enemies. This is a great time for his presidency and he has changed the national narrative into a positive discourse about our strengths as a nation. The president is now thought of as a powerful commander-in-chief, who is under control and can fulfill his promises.

In 2008 during the presidential campaign, Obama promised to bring the troops home from Iraq, and

Al Queda

pledged to pursue Bin Laden until he was caught. “We will kill Bin Laden. We will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority,” said Obama in an October 2008 debate during the campaign.

The president’s track record has been based on transparency, integrity, and credibility, and with the killing of Bin Laden, it is hard not to trust the president. Even Al Qaeda has publicly issued a statement that Bin Laden is dead. They have confirmed the information from President Obama that he is dead.

President Obama could not have better timing with his announcement on last Sunday. The president will benefit from a new wave of patriotic sentiment, as he begins to campaign for his re-election for 2012. President Obama was able to accomplish the mission of the death of Bin Laden in 2 ½ years, when President Bush had tried to complete it, in 8 years, but was unsuccessful.

Rush Limbaugh

Even Rush Limbaugh said, “Thank God for President Obama,” and he was always condemning everything the president proposed. Many in the opposition party, who are diehard Republicans are acknowledging a job well done. They are being forced to concede that the president is not weak, and he has the ability to protect American citizens.

As the entire country celebrates the death of Bin Laden, it is necessary for our leaders to re-evaluate our foreign policy. For the past 10 years, our country spent $400 billion dollars to track down and kill someone, who at one time was a friend and ally. There is some thing fundamentally wrong with our foreign policy when our enemy is living in a country that claims to be our friend.

The killing of Bin Laden closes a chapter on the war of terror, but it does not end the insanity of global killing and war. Our president was able to get the job done with 2 helicopters, 40 navy seals, and great intelligence. But our president is spending trillions of dollars around the world, and we are not sure who we are fighting.

Life at this moment is good in the White House, and many citizens are proud to be Americans. But America needs a foreign policy, where there is less violence and less of an over-use of military power.

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Billboard asking about Obama's birthplace

Last week President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, and he hopes there are no more questions about the legitimacy of his presidency. Even though the governor of Hawaii and independent investigations by news outlets has confirmed that President Obama was born there, there is a movement to discredit the information.

In the Republican Party, 45% are sure the President was born outside of the United States, and 22% are not sure where he was born. With the Independents, 46% are not sure where the President was born and some believe he was born outside of the country. Now with the White House release, there are still birthers’ who don’t believe the certified records and facts.

Michael Tomasky, reporter from British paper, The Guardian

Michael Tomasky, reporter from The Guardian, wrote in his column, “The birthers’ conspiracy had to be the only explanation for how this black man got to the White House. If you think race isn’t what this is about at its core, ask yourself if there would be a birther conspiracy if Barack Obama were white and named Bart Oberstar.”

This movement or conspiracy is silly and makes no sense, but the leader, Orly Taitz, has filed many unsuccessful lawsuits and questioning the new document’s authenticity. With the release of the president’s birth certificate, the only explanation for the movement is white supremacy and racism. Many of the birthers are angry with having a Black man as the head of the country.

Many were under the impression when an African American became president that mentally our country had reached a milestone spiritually and psychologically. America was finally practicing what it preached, and all men were created equal. Any person born in America had an opportunity to become president or start a company and make millions.

Barack Obama as a baby with his mom

But instead of the country moving forward, there are millions that have deep seated hostilities about race. These millions want to turn back the clock and live in a world where the white race makes the rules, and every other race is expected to follow. Even though they are delusional, and racism is a sickness, it is still very prevalent in every system in our society and world.

Political candidate and business conglomerate, Donald Trump

The birthers’ controversy is not going away, as much as we hoped it would just disappear. The reality of a Black man running the country does not sit well with millions of Americans. Donald Trump is taking credit for the publication of the document. He is honored and proud of his accomplishment.

Obama's actual birth certificate

Here is a man who is worth millions, and could be making a significant contribution to the poor and disenfranchised in the country. Instead, he would rather worry about the birth of our president, as opposed to making a difference in someone’s life.

As the country gets closer to the 2012 election, the attacks against the President will get more vicious. Legally, many “birthers” know that they can’t be overt with their racism so they will have to use code words and symbols. Many of the birthers believe that President Obama is less American and a socialist.

With the pervasiveness of the media, the racist elements against our president will start a new silly conspiracy soon. The birthers will have to evolve into another side-show. With the campaign beginning, everyone is looking for dirt to thrown at President Obama. The “birther” conspiracy did not stick, but it did get media coverage, and a public discourse.

Racism is based on ignorance and the “birther” movement fits the model. It is time for the president to debate legitimate issues with organizations that are based on truth and knowledge. It is my hope that the release of the long-form birth certificate has closed the foolish chapter of the birther movement.      

 

Libya on the streets in protest

As President Obama takes a five day trip to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador, there are many major events bombarding the president. There are a series of bloodless revolutions and bloody civil wars that have spread through Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Libya. In Japan, there is an earthquake and tsunami, with the possibility of 10,000 people dead, and trillions worth of property destroyed.

Everyone has been waiting for decisive action from the president on global issues, and on Saturday, March 19, 2011, President Obama authorized limited military action against Libya. France, Britain, and the United States have warned Gadhafi that they would resort to military measures if he ignores the United Nations resolution demanding a cease-fire. 

Initially Libya agreed to a cease-fire, and promised to stop military operations against its citizens to prevent international military intervention. The United Nations authorized a “no-fly zone” and all necessary measures to prevent the regime from striking and killing its own people. Once this announcement came from the Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa

Moussa Koussa, foreign minister of Libya

 Koussa, it was followed with a fierce attack by Gadhafi’s forces against Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the western half of the country.

Once the coalition forces observed that Gadhafi was not going to abide by the United Nations cease-fire resolution, it was time to take decisive action. The United States is taking part in a five country operation, “Odyssey Dawn”: along with Britain, France, Canada, and Italy. Their goal is to stop the innocent slaughter of the civilians.

U.S. Navy soldiers stand in preparation for efforts towards Libya

The United States has a host of forces and ships in the area, including submarines, destroyers, amphibians’ assault and landing ships. A senior military official said the United States launched air defenses with strikes along the Libyan coast that were launched by Navy vessels in the Mediterranean. The assault would unfold in stages, and Obama once again stated that the United States would not send ground troops to Libya.

America is in a precarious situation in this particular conflict. This country is still one of Africa’s largest oil producing countries on the continent. We know we need oil and President Obama has emphasized that the purpose of this operation is not to get rid of Gaddafi.

In a letter to President Obama, Gaddafi said, “If you found rebels taking over American cities with armed force, tell me what would you do?” There is no simple answer to this question, because all around the world, in Asia and Africa there are civil wars with governments against rebels and grassroots people. Many of these people are deprived of their human rights and dignity, but very little is done because countries have their own national sovereignty.

President Obama addressing Libyan conflict

President Obama has laid out a leadership role for the United States for the Libyan civil war. “In this effort, the United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone – it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together,” says Obama.

It appears that the United States has learned its lessons in going into countries without international support. It makes sense to strategically plan responses to international conflicts, because once you are in, it is hard to get out. Hopefully the Libyan conflict will not be a long protracted war, but a quick conflict where the different factions can reach a compromise.  

President Obama is taking a stand concerning global justice and other tyrants and dictators should take notice. There are basic human rights that all citizens should have protected, and global coalitions can bring this to fruition. It is easy to talk justice and treating everyone with human rights, but it is hard to make it a reality.

President Obama

 The Democrats and the Republicans are on different sides of the fence, and neither party has a plan to reduce federal deficits, balance the budget, and cut spending. The Republicans in the House want to cut $61 billion to fund the government thru September 2011, and the Democrats in the Senate want to cut around $10 billion.

There is a huge gap between what the Republicans want to cut, and what the Democrats are willing to cut. The two parties were able to work out a deal to keep the federal government running until March 18, 2011. This Continuing Resolution included $4.1 billion in cuts, with $650 million from the highway, $468 million from Department of Education, and the rest from programs that were going to be cut by the president in his 2012 budget.

“I’m pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together and passed a plan that will cut spending and keep the government running for the next two weeks,” said President Obama. He also stated, “we cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy.”

Both parties in the two Houses have an agenda and there is little room for compromise. As our leaders continue to operate the government with the threat of a shutdown, everyone is operating from an emergency mindset. Everyone is stressed and many of the plans and policies at this point are not well thought out.

In all probability, the two parties will pass another short term Continuing Resolution before the March 18, 2011 deadline, but still there is no movement on the $61 billion cuts that the House has agreed on. Somewhere in this bureaucratic mess, there is a need for leadership and direction from the president.

Michael Petit: president of Every Child Matters

The majority of the cuts that the Republicans are proposing in the House impact government social programs, children, youth, the poor, and families. Michael Petit, president of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, said: “Even before the House adopted its shortsighted budget; the United States was far behind most other developed nations in caring for children. To further shred our nation’s already frayed safety net with additional cuts to babies and mothers are unacceptable.”

The cuts that the Republicans in the House are proposing will cripple our country’s most vulnerable group of citizens and will attack social programs. Some of the programs that will be impacted if the Democrats in the Senate agree to the cuts by Republicans would be as follows: Head Start cut by $1.1 billion, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant cut by $50 million, School Health Clinics cut by $380 million, Low Income Heating Assistance Program cut by $390 million, Pell Grant Program cut by $5.7 billion, and other Block Grants cut by $55 million.

There appears to be an all out assault on our children, youth, and mothers and we hear very little from the president. The president has stated that he would not sign a bill that harms our children, but how far will he go to appease the radical arm of the Republicans?

President Obama is still talking compromise and bipartisan, but the Republicans in the House are pushing their agenda. The stage has been set and everyone is waiting for leadership from the president. He is always talking about shared responsibility, but the social programs are for the citizens who have barely anything.

It is time for President Obama to take a stand and protect the social programs that many of the citizens need. As the president takes a stand, more citizens will also take a stand and support the president’s initiatives. There are other ways to save money, than cutting programs that hurt children, youth, mothers and the poor.

President Obama

 Today, February 14, 2011, President Obama will present his 2012 budget to Congress. He has labeled this budget as a “middle ground”, where there are areas for investing, and specific areas will things will be cut.

There will be hard decisions that the president will have to make, because everyone in the country will be forced to make adjustments and sacrifice.

The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but it embodies the values, priorities, and aspirations of the president and his administration. President Obama has promised spending cuts that are an expression of “shared sacrifice” needed to balance a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

The nation has projected deficits over the next decade of $12.5 trillion, so at this point our budget is in the red. It is important that the president’s budget begins to put our country on a path of sustainability, and we stop spending money that is not in the bank.

This year the president is presenting his budget, and it is expected that it will be in the area of $3.6 trillion. The president has pledged that the 2012 budget would help the United States, “live within our means while investing in our future.” Many of the political pundits interpret the term investing with spending money, and funding programs that keep our country in debt.

Nevertheless, the president will call for a five year spending freeze and no pay raises for federal workers. He will target social programs, including cuts to a home heating assistance program for low income households. He also proposes reduction in the popular Community Development Block Grant programs, and in funds for community action grants.

It is obvious that this year, President Obama has a divided Congress and he will be forced to negotiate with the Republicans in the House, who believe that the cuts don’t go far enough. The president made it clear in the State of the Union address that he wants to work with Congress with our country’s short-term and long-term fiscal challenges.

As the president said in his State of the Union address, “Now that the country is back from the brink of a potential economic collapse, our goal is to win the future by out-educating, out building, and out innovating our rivals so that we can return to robust economic and job growth.” This will not be easy, because in the inner cities the unemployment rate is anywhere in the 35% to 50% range.

Everywhere you look around the country everyone is talking about cutting programs as opposed to expanding programs. Many of these programs that are being cut impact the basic needs and necessities in poor communities. With a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, everyone will be forced to make “shared sacrifices” and it will impact everyone.

Once the budget is presented that is only the first step. Now 40 congressional committees and 24 subcommittees will debate and hold hearings on what is feasible. Some of the president’s proposals will be accepted, some will be thrown out, and others will be compromised on. The process is exhausting, and once both houses can agree, it is sent to the president for his signature.

If everything goes according to schedule and goes well, the formal federal budget for 2012 is signed by the president and goes into effect October 1, 2011. If all doesn’t go according to plan, Congress will pass a temporary spending measure known as a continuing resolution to continue funding on September 30th.

This year, Congress did not agree so the government has been running on a series of short-term continuing resolutions. Now Congress will be forced to debate another budget and the 2011 budget has not been formalized. All we can hope is that Congress can agree on something.        

Uproar in Egypt

As the drama unfolds in Egypt, it becomes increasingly clear that the United States government will have to make a decision on what side they support. The script is very similar around the world, where certain regimes have been in power for thirty years. There is an unfolding of a grassroots uprising, and democracy and human rights is at the core of the fundamental problem.

In Egypt, there is a call for a Democratic movement and President Obama finds himself in the middle of the conflict. In one breath, the United States is saying we want an immediate change in Egypt with free and fair elections. “Now means now,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said of Egypt’s transition, repeating

 that continued aid to Egypt would be influenced by the government’s responses to the crisis.

On the other hand, Egypt has been an ally to the United States and a close friend to Israel. President Mubarak’s regime has been good for Israel, because it preserved peace on the southern border. Since it was an autocratic regime, it did not have to be responsive to public opinion, and it could take a soft line on Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

As long as Egypt took a soft line on what happened to the Palestinians, the Israeli

President-Barack-Obama with Muburak

 government can maintain its current policies. But if the Egypt government became a responsive democracy, it would have to address public opinion and human rights.

President Obama has denounced the Egyptian government’s acts of “suppression and violence” during the protest, and called for “an orderly transition process right now.” Our president has stopped short of demanding that President Mubarak leave office immediately.

At this point, President Obama is doing a juggling act, because there are concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood is highly organized and they will play a role in the new democratic government. This group is a threat to the stability of Israel and rejects much of the United States’ agenda in the region.

President Mubarak has agreed not to run for office in September, but the hundreds of thousands protestors have indicated that’s not good enough. There have been clashes between the pro-Mubarak supporters and the protesters, and it appears that violence will accelerate. Some experts believe that the pro-Mubarak supporters are gangs that are being paid to create more violence and bloodshed.

Nevertheless, their army will be forced to bring order back to the country eventually, and the Egyptian army will be given a wide scope to detain people. The United States finds itself in a precarious situation, because the world is watching and waiting.

The United States has always been a leader for legitimate democracies around the world. Even though these are the values we project, for thirty years Egypt was not a genuine democratic country. President Obama knows that the decisions that our country makes in Egypt will determine what happens to our country in the rest of the region.

As the drama plays out, eventually there will be fair and impartial elections. The Muslim Brotherhood will play a vital role in the transition of power. Political Islam is a reality of doing business and politics in this region of the world and America can not discriminate against the Muslim Brotherhood.

If President Obama and the United States believe in transparency and inclusion in Egypt, the will and human rights of the people must be protected. With hundreds of thousands protesters demonstrating against the government, there is something fundamentally wrong with the present administration.

The United States is in a difficult position, but it should side with the will of the people. The values of democracy, freedom, and transparency are what we hold dear as the cornerstone of country. If we believe in these values, we should want the same in Egypt.

by Roger Caldwell

President Obama made an historic appearance on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” This was an unprecedented performance for the president and a special format for the show. It was the first time that one guest was scheduled for a single episode, who happens to be the sitting president of the United States.

Jon Stewart has recently been described as a talk show host, a comedian, a media critic, America’s anchor in waiting, the court jester, and the mouthpiece. For the president to be a guest on a comedy show indicates the collective power that television programming and stars have, and how they influence our country’s thinking. Jon Stewart has become famous by making jokes about politicians and prominent people and built his show into a successful media franchise.

On Wednesday October 27, 2010, President Obama was the featured guest, and even though there were some laughs, the tone of the show was serious. It was no mistake that President Obama was on the show six days before November 2, 2010: Election Day. Jon Stewart is a progressive liberal whose show’s demographics can help mobilize Democratic supporters and deliver the vote.

Their discussion was respectful with a touch of humor, but candid, political, informative, and educational. The show started with some humor from Jon Stewart asking the president why the Democrats were begging the country for votes by saying, “Please baby give me one more chance.” The mood of the country has changed from two years ago when the country was excited about change and the new president.

President Obama responded to this humorous question with a serious answer, and the friendly sparring was on. Obama indicated that he was well aware that the “honeymoon” with the American public would not last. He was not surprised when there was a backlash, and when the economy was not improving fast enough.

Obama talks about the unemployment rate at 9.6% and over a quarter of all the homes in America, where the price of the house is more than the market selling price. He realized that many Americans are frustrated.

Jon Stewart is extremely articulate and he kept the president on the “hot seat.” “Is the difficulty that you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered? You ran with such, if I may audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times,” said Stewart.

The president’s answer to this question was, “Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you, this notion that the health care was timid. Many people concentrate on the 10% we didn’t get and forget the 90% we did get.”

It was obvious there were contentious moments during the president’s interview with Jon Stewart. As a spectator, we will never know what was rehearsed for the 30 minute program, but the host never backed down. There are questions on the American public’s mind and our president was transparent and communicative.

The president is aware in the last 18 months his administration has been extremely busy getting new laws and reforms that will fundamentally change our system. The major problems with many of the reforms are that they are still in the formative stages and they have not gotten to the citizens, on the grassroots level.

Moving forward the president made it aware that he never promised that change would be easy and it would happen overnight. In 18 months, the president is content with his accomplishments, but is not satisfied with meeting his expectation level. There are many promises that the president made during his campaign that remained unfulfilled.

When Jon Stewart asked the humorous question if the president was planning a surprise party filled with jobs and health care, I really thought for a minute, maybe the president’s second term, he could make this happen. I bet the president didn’t think this was funny.

Check Roger’s other posts and columns, PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH at http://www.presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com OR blospot.com

In the month of September 2010, there were four US teens that received local, regional, and national exposure from the media, because they committed suicide as a result of bullying. It is obvious that there is a fundamental problem in our culture, when teenagers are threatened, intimidated and abused because their sexual orientation is different.

These tragic incidents indicate that our society is failing in protecting our children, and parents, teachers, administrators and leaders are looking the other way and not doing their job. For example, in Florida, James Jones, a father decided to take matters into his own hands and admitted getting on a school bus, and threatened students who were bullying his daughter. There is an epidemic in our schools and it is terrible that someone has to die or almost die before laws are enacted.

At a federal seminar this year, the Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave 2007 bullying statistics, which are appalling and an indictment on safety in our schools. In 2007, 1 out of 3 students in middle school and high school during the school year reported being bullied. Over 2.8 million students said they have been pushed, shoved, or spit on during the school year. Over 1.5 million have been threatened with harm and 900,000 high school students reported being cyber- bullied.

In every school system, there is a need for diversity training and respect for alternative lifestyle choices. It is important that parents and teachers receive training with the students and learn what to do when there is a problem. The parents and teachers must be aware of the signs, when a student needs help.
New Jersey student Tyler Clementi jumped from a bridge after his roommate allegedly taped him having sex with a man and posted it on the internet. Asher Brown, a 13 year old from Houston Texas shot himself after being accused of being gay. Seth Walsh and Billy Lucas of Indiana hung themselves for being bullied for their sexual orientation.
Teasing and practical jokes is something that teens and young adults do when they are having fun. However, there is a thin line when the teasing is vicious, malicious, and becomes a criminal act. Laws will have to be enacted to stop and control bullying in our schools.

Opening the lines of communication with the students is vital, if our society accepts respect for everyone. Because someone is different or sick does not condone disrespectful, bullying, and aggressive behavior.