Eclectique Citizen: The President’s Weekly Below the Fold

The great divergence: Since the late 1970s the America I knew has unraveled. We’re no longer a middle-class society, in which the benefits of economic growth are widely shared: between 1979 and 2005 the real income of the median household rose only 13 percent, but the income of the richest 0.1% of Americans rose 296 percent.
— Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 18, 2007

Before watching or reading the President’s Weekly, check out this video commentary by Slate’s Timothy Noah which appeared on CBS “Sunday Morning” today. It must be digested, if you can. If there’s anything that should be making people boiling mad, is the growing income gap. Or in the words of that famous Billie Holiday ballad, “them that’s got shall get; them that’s not shall lose.” The rich get richer; the middle class are getting poorer. Noah sites Paul Krugman for coining the phrase “The Great Divergence.” But he too has been writing about “The United States of Inequality” as part of a series for Slate since September of this year. It’s odd that rising stocks are good news in the face of a stagnant job market and salaries. Shouldn’t that signal that something’s completely out of balance?

Meanwhile, back in the oval office, President Obama is holding firm on his administration’s implementation of the Wall Street Reform bill. But a Republican takeover of the House could spell doom for consumer protection from predatory creditors and lenders.

Recently, one of the Republican leaders in the Senate said that if Republicans take charge of Congress, repeal would be one of the first orders of business. And he joins the top Republican in the House who actually called for the law to be repealed even before it passed.

But if the record shows, as Noah mentions, that the income gap widens when Republicans are in the White House, favoring the top 1%; and the gap narrows giving the middle classes a lift during Democratic presidencies, what kind of kool-aid is being passed around if politicians and the public can’t see the obvious?

That’s why I’ve put Noah above the fold.

Transcript for the President’s Weekly available here.

Michelle Obama Hearts DC Arts

This was a big month for DC’s young artists. This week, the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Young Playwrights Theater a Youth Program Award. Young playwright Mariana Pavon Sanchez received the award on behalf of YPT from First Lady Michelle Obama. Mariana is the author of the play, “Mariana’s Wish” about a young woman who longs to visit her mother in Nicaragua, but must first convince her father to give his permission. Mentors of Minorities in Education Inc. was the second DC-based group to receive an award. Gee, I remember receiving their grant applications when I was program director at the Humanities Council of Washington, DC back in the day. It’s always great to see organizations you’ve known since the beginning get applause.


In the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar, an interview by Laura Brown with the First Lady features photos with D.C.-based performing arts groups including students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University, and dancers from the Joy of Motion Dance Center (posing with members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and Indian dance troupe Bhangra Empire).

Since my last September issues, I’ve given Bazaar thumbs up on diversity in their fashion spread with real people (still needs a little work with models…but I digress).

I recall former social secretary Desiree Rogers saying earlier this year that the White House and the First Lady’s office would focus on encouraging arts professionals to mentor young artists. Whereas Jacqueline Kennedy put a spotlight on arts that inspire, this White House wants to focus on artists that aspire to greatness.

I can testify that I have been inspired by peers, especially the ones a grade or more ahead of me, who aspired to be great artists. I would watch them receive their accolades saying to myself, “that’s going to be me.” In some instances I achieved, in others, I had to chalk it up to a “teachable moment.” But if there was a First Lady in the White House as supportive and enthusiastic about young artists as Michelle Obama when I was in high school, I definitely would’ve aspired to that special invitation.

Congratulations!

A Community Organizer Hall of Famer in the Making

Associated Press

Associated Press

In 2008 I started a Community Organizer Hall of Fame, a series of profiles of persons who are doing selfless work for the benefit of others. Yesterday Marisol Valles Garcia, a 20-year-old mother and student of criminology was sworn in as sheriff of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a small border town caught in the crossfire of two rival drug cartels. Her only police experience has been as a secretary in the station. The former sheriff was gunned down July 2009, according to the AP story. No one would take on the job until Garcia stepped up.

The tiny but energetic Valles Garcia, whose only police experience was a stint as a department secretary, says she wants her 13 officers to practice a special brand of community policing. She plans to hire more women — she currently has three — and assign each to a neighborhood to talk with families, promote civic values and detect potential crimes before they happen.

“My people are out there going door to door, looking for criminals, and (in homes) where there are none, trying to teach values to the families,” she said in her first official appearance on Wednesday. “The project is … simple, based on values, principles and crime prevention in contacts house-by-house.”

As I’m reading a biography of Elizabeth I, I am applauding this Garcia on so many levels. I will also keep her in my prayers.

For the complete story by AP writer Praxedis G. Guerrero click on this link.

Hat tip: Clayton LeBouef

Boo! It’s the Haps

I always loved this song – “Spooky” by Classics IV (1968). Get your trick or treat on this month.

Eatonville Food & Folklore

Tuesday, October 26 at 6:30 PM
Eatonville Restaurant
2121 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Osunyoyin Alake, an African American anthro-photo-journalist, initiated priestess of the Yoruba River Goddess Osun (in Osogbo, Nigeria) and sidereal astrologer will be the guest presenter for this month’s 4-course comfort foodie event.

HORS D’OEUVRES
Jambalaya Poppers
Cajun Fried Eggplant
Haitian Beef Kabobs

1ST COURSE
Timlice Salad with Grillots and Field Greens

2ND COURSE
Baked Voodoo Chicken with Red Beans and Rice
and Garlic Bread

3RD COURSE
Traditional Bread Pudding with Caramel and Raisins

All for $45. Reservations required. Call 202-332-6432

AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLEN POE AT DUNBARTON HOUSE

October 27, 28 and 29

6:00 p.m. – Bar opens
7:30 p.m – 8.30 p.m. – Performance
Location:
Dumbarton House, 2715 Q street NW (just after Dumbarton bridge in
Georgetown -15 minute walk from Dupont Circle metro)
Dress Code:
Gothic fancy dress optional (but encouraged).
Ticketing:
Purchase tickets at http://aneveningwithpoe.eventbrite.com
General Admission $10.00
Wine and Crepes available for purchase on site

Michael ClementsGenki Media LLC has teamed up with The Picnic Theatre Company once again for “An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe.” The company will produce three short 15-minute plays adapted by Robert
Mason.

“We think people are pretty much bored with the same options for Halloween. How many hollow Halloween parties can go one go to at a nightclub? We’ve taken Poe’s uniquely eerie 19th century plays, and brought them to Washington, so people can get a good ole fashioned fright, plus Poe was from Baltimore, it’s close enough that we think his ghost might come as well,” remarked Picnic Theater co-founder Oli Robinson.

DC Challenge Haunted History Race & Costume Bash

October 30
Party at the Old Post Office Pavillion
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue
4:30 PM until 12 midnite

presented by DC Challenge
The 2nd year for costumed Challengers to compete in a “trick or treat” urban race, solving clues to locate ten of the scariest, haunted or infamous spots in DC’s history and collecting candy at each. Then, teams will race back to the finish line at the Old Post Office Pavilion, where a huge Halloween costume bash awaits for all with live music, an enormous costume contest and other treats!

More than $3,000 in cash prizes will reward the ten fastest teams and the ten best costumes. There is a $25 entry fee for teams who want to compete in the challenge. More information and registration available at http://www.dcchallenge.org/.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (Day of the Dead) OPEN HOUSE

October 31
Mexican Cultural Institute
2829 16th st, NW
Washington D.C. 20009
10 AM – 4 PM
The inauguration of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altar, a quintessentially Mexican tradition, is one of the institutes most lively events of the year and always fun for the entire family. This year, the altar will be dedicated to the Mexican Revolution, one of the most important social movements of the 20th century, which celebrates its landmark centennial anniversary in 2010.

The altar will be on display throughout the month of November, Monday through Friday between 10am and 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
To make group reservations, please contact porozco@instituteofmexicodc.org

Eclectique Citizen: The President’s Weekly

Winning this fight will not depend on government alone. It will depend on the innovation of American entrepreneurs; on the drive of American small business owners; on the skills and talents of American workers. These are the people who will help us grow our economy and create jobs.

But government still has an important responsibility. And that’s to create an environment in which someone can raise capital to start a new company; where a business can get a loan to expand; where ingenuity is prized and folks are rewarded for their hard work.

— President Barack Obama

This message was aimed at workers with dreams to be business owners. Business owners and entrepreneurs who dream to get unstuck and hire again. It also brings back the 2008 primary debate about jobs going overseas. Keep jobs at home and you’ll receive tax breaks and rewards.

As much as I want to exhale optimism from the President’s Weekly to re-boot or tweak the economic situation through stay-at-home entrepreneurs, I couldn’t help but agree with the following opening statement in an article in today’s Washington Post Business section by Fortune magazine’s Allan Sloan, Tory Newmyer and Doris Burke:

There is nothing that the U.S. government or the Federal Reserve or tax cutters can do to make our economic pain vanish overnight. There are no all-powerful, all-knowing superheroes or supervillains who can rescue or tank the economy all by themselves.

From listening to what passes for public debate in our country, you’d never know that. You’d think that the federal government could revive the economy quickly if only Congress would let it be more aggressive with stimulus spending. Or that the Fed could fix it if only it weren’t overly worried about touching off inflation. Or that the free market could fix it if only we made deep and permanent tax cuts.

Watch enough cable TV, listen to enough talk radio, read enough blogs and columns, and you’d think that they – the bad guys – are forcing the country to suffer needlessly when a simple and painless solution to our problems is at hand. But if you look at things rationally rather than politically, you’ll see that Washington has far less power over the economy, and far less maneuvering room, than people think.

Nevertheless, everyone has to do something. Sitting on our hands is not an option.

Now, one of the keys to job creation is to encourage companies to invest more in the United States. But for years, our tax code has actually given billions of dollars in tax breaks that encourage companies to create jobs and profits in other countries.

I want to close these tax loopholes. I want to give every business in America a tax break so they can write off the cost of all new equipment they buy next year. That’s going to make it easier for folks to expand and hire new people. I want to make the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. Because promoting new ideas and technologies is how we’ll create jobs and retain our edge as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation. And I want to provide a tax cut for clean energy manufacturing right here in America. Because that’s how we’ll lead the world in this growing industry.

There is no “get-rich-quick” plan for the economy to recover. The system is too complex and too kooky (set up to rule in the top 1%’s favor). There are certain truths for the majority to digest. One is there are no quick fixes (as stated above) for the state we’re in. The second is to get moving with ideas. Feeling stuck is a sure way to feeling powerless which ultimately leads to some pretty destructive behavior. Ideas may not turn things around overnight, but ideas can lay great groundwork for the future. Third and an unspoken truth is these are sobering up times from the spend/loan/debt/spend binge enjoyed by so many. No super villains and only a handful of super victims. If you have to eat hot dogs and beans again to pay for college, you do it!

As the career/life self-help guru Barbara Sherr said, “…you can have whatever you really want in this life, in one form or another, sooner or later. All you have to do is take care of your health and be lucky enough to live for a while. But you can’t have it all at once and you can’t have it forever.”

Transcript available here.

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