You are invited!

I'll be speaking at the Cato Institute 2/27 at noon.

I suppose I should figure out what I will talk about...

Check the link, you'll be able to watch or listen to it online...


Quote of the Day!

I'm IT on Booker Rising...

A friend of mine thinks I should take comments from people on the Internet more seriously...

As usually happens, the first two or comments are on topic, then after that people start talking about each others' mommas...



Obama debating Keyes, 2004, education excerpt

PONCE: Thank you. Let's move to the question of education. Mr. Obama, you've said that you consider education as the most important civil rights issue facing America today. Currently, your children are in private schools. If you're elected to the Senate, will you send them to public schools?

OBAMA: Well, my children currently go to the lab school at the University of Chicago where I teach, and my wife works, and we get a good deal for it. But, so--

(laughter, applause)

OBAMA: --it depends on whether we move or not. And that, obviously, hinges on the election and what's gonna happen. We're gonna choose the best possible education for our children, as I suspect all parents are gonna try to do. And that's part of the reason why, consistently when I've been in the state legislature, I've tried to promote those kinds of reforms that would improve what I think is an inadequate performance by too many public schools, all across the state.

PONCE: But you're against vouchers, as a senator.

OBAMA: I am.

PONCE: You have the means, to have a choice--

OBAMA: Absolutely.

PONCE: --for your children. What about the families that don't have the means? Is it fair for them--

OBAMA: What they--no--

PONCE: --not to have a choice?

OBAMA: --what they need is more money in their pockets.

And that's why I've supported programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, that provides tax relief to low-income families, so that they can use that money any way that they want, including sending their kids into private schools.

PONCE: Is that enough of a help, Mr. Keyes?

KEYES: I'm sorry, y'all--I do not see the day when every American family is going to be employed by the University of Chicago so they, too, can have a choice.


KEYES: I think that we had better get there a little sooner than that. And I think that the way we get there sooner than that, is to let the money we spend on education follow the choice of the parents, so every family in Illinois--whether they are rich or poor--will be able to have the same scope to do what they think is best for their children.

I do not understand why we should believe it right to imprison the parents of people with less means in failing public schools, when, and then--oh! "I'll let them have a little more money, so they can go on paying twice for education"? Paying with the taxes, and paying as well with money they have to dig into their pocket to earn?

One of the most touching things [that] happened to me when I got to Illinois, was talking to a father who had worked hard to send his daughter to a private school--he was a worker over at Ford, the Ford plant--and we were sitting there in the restaurant talking about this, and in the middle of it, he tells me that his son had died in a drive-by shooting. And I'm looking at this man, whose heart was utterly broken, and thinking to myself that, for all that, he was still willing to make the extra effort, to make sure that his daughter got the best.

I don't think it should be that hard. I don't think it should be that hard. We have the wherewithal and, in addition to everything else, if we adopted a proper voucher program, we would equalize the scandalous inequities in education that occur in Illinois because of the funding mechanism that leaves some kids stuck in poor districts.

Give every parent the same amount that they'll be able to spend on their child, and you can bet, in faith schools and parochial schools and other, non-government schools, they'll be able to get better results for less money than we're getting right now.

PONCE: Thank you. A real quick response, before we move on--and we have to.

OBAMA: Right now, 90% of our school children go to public schools. Some of those schools are doing a good job. Some of them are not. It is absolutely critical that as we move, for example, in charter schools and encourage competition in public schools, that we don't blow up the public school system--which, essentially, is what Mr. Keyes advocates.

I mean, he has talked about eliminating all federal aid to public schools, the Department of Education. That is a 10% to 12% reduction in our school systems. Eighty percent of our schools, right now, are in deficit spending. Eighty percent. And, the kinds of proposals Mr. Keyes suggests would essentially, over time, drain money from the public school system, without any commitment that we would, in fact, create the kind of private school system on a parallel track, that would enable the children that he talks about from actually getting a better education.

We need to lift all boats. The public schools were fine, for most of the people in this audience, and worked very well. And, the notion that, somehow, the public schools can't work today, I think is erroneous. I haven't given up on the public schools.

PONCE: Gentlemen, I have, I have--Gentlemen. No, gentlemen--

KEYES: He made a false statement. I have not advocated eliminating all public monies for education, never did, never have--

OBAMA: Mr. Keyes, that's not true.

KEYES: --don't believe it, and--

OBAMA: You're on record as saying it.

KEYES: I am not.

OBAMA: Yes, you are. We'll show you--

KEYES: And the truth of the matter--

KEYES: The truth of the matter is, it's not a matter of whether we spend as a public, but whether we spend cost-effectively. And the notion that this drains money from public schools--

PONCE: All right. Thank you.

KEYES: --is not true. If you examine the case in Wisconsin and elsewhere, the more general the voucher program, the more general the choice was, the better the performance we got out of--

OBAMA: That is simply--that, that--

PONCE: Gentlemen? Gentlemen?

OBAMA: That is not the case.

* * *

find the full transcript here


Witches in Ghana

There was another report on women being banned as "witches" in Ghana.

Q: If a person was really a witch, wouldn't the witch punish those who banned her?


Bloggers' Roundtable: Did Obama Lift Lines?

News & Notes , February 20, 2008 · This week, our panel of bloggers dissects the plagiarism allegations leveled at Barack Obama this week. Plus, where were you when Michael Jackson unleashed his record-breaking album, "Thriller," 25 years ago?

Farai Chideya talks with Valencia Roner of Diary of a Content Black Woman, Casey Lartigue of The Casey Lartigue Show!, and Yobachi Boswell of BlackPerspective.

I will outline my comments later on.


Prince and Michael Jackson

One of the topics we discussed yesterday on NPR's roundtable discussion: the release of the CD marking the 25th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Below is a post I repost whenever I have an excuse to do so.

Michael Jackson, born August 29, 1958
Prince (Rogers Nelson), born June 7, 1958

Once upon a time, I wanted to be Mike. Michael Jackson was the lovable lead singer of the Jackson 5 during the 1960s and 1970s. His family had been poor, so it is no surprise that they were releasing at least one album a year. Michael was the family's lottery ticket.

I was a big-time fan. I was a member of the Jackson 5 fan club. My brothers and I tried to be just like Mike.

I'm the tallest of the three. Check me out, I was so C-O-O-L! Look at that 'Fro. Could there have been a cooler Bible-carrying kid? I could have hid entire African villages under that cap. And the African villages that could not have fit in that Afro could have squeezed into my bell bottoms. You'd have to pay me money to wear those beads today, but I was stylin' then. But it was clear that I was destined to become a scholar. Of the three of us, I was the only one with a book.

But I digress.

As I said, I was a big-time Michael Jackson fan during the 1970s. To this day, I have a photograph signed by Michael Jackson and his family, probably around 1977. Forget a college education. If I fall on hard times, I'll be selling that signed photo on EBay to pay off my home mortgage.

In the late 1970s, I first heard of Prince. He was very different from Michael Jackson. Kind of freaky in fact. Here's one of his early album covers.

I mean, come on, son! You finally make it into the music world and you want people to think that you're naked when you're making your music?

But I liked his music. I was buying his albums almost from the beginning. Prince and Michael Jackson were born the same year, but the contrast could not have been greater. While Prince was performing half-nekkid before hard-core fans, Michael was already internationally known and loved. In the mid-1980s, they both hit the top. Michael with the Thriller album, Prince with the Purple Rain album and movie. I was a pretty good singer and did a good Michael Jackson imitation, both singing and dancing.

No kidding--I have seen Prince's Purple Rain at least 30 times. Well, okay, maybe 50 times. Some people can recite from Shakespeare--I can recite from Purple Rain. As a college student, I got up at 3 or 4 in the morning so I could stand in line to buy tickets for his LoveSexy tour.

It was the 1980s.

Michael was the king of cool.

Prince apparently had started making enough money to buy himself some clothes.

I would post a photo of myself from that time, but I wouldn't want to cause a riot. I was dressing more like Prince was in his early musical days, and things only got worse once I got to college.

They both have had their ups-and-downs in their careers. But it is strange to see the directions they are now headed. Prince keeps pumping out the music; he's tried to be revolutionary by selling his CDs online; he gave out free copies to people who went to his concerts last year (I was on the road when he passed through DC on his tour). I'm pretty sure that he has released at least one CD or album a year since he started. Instead of being in the Michael Jackson fan club, I am now a member of Prince's online music club. Meanwhile, I recently read that Michael Jackson released an album last October--his first release in six years.

Michael is now the one who looks like a freak while Prince is looking sharp (at least, on those days he remembers to get dressed). Michael and Prince are both worth millions, but Michael is constantly fighting allegations of molesting kids while Prince has become a family man who appears to be in complete control of his life. In a few years, Michael will probably look the way Prince did in the 1970s.

Michael Jackson, today

Prince, today



In case I need an alibi...

Feb 17, 2008, 8 p.m. ET
I'll be a guest on the inaugural edition of Howard University TV's Let's Talk Education hosted by Leslie Fenwick, dean of the Howard University School of Education. Dion Haynes, Washington Post reporter, is the other guest.

Feb 20, 2008 1:30 p.m. ET
I'll be a guest on NPR's News & Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya. Other guests are Why Black Women Are Angry and Black Perspective.

Feb 21, 6:30 p.m.
I'll be attending a talk given by Kasey Pipes, author of Ike's Final Battle: The Road to Little Rock and the Challenge of Equality. The event is hosted by Republicans for Black Empowerment.

Feb 27, 2008, noon ET
I'll be a panelist at "Race and the State" forum at the Cato Institute. Bruce Bartlett will be discussing his book Wrong on Race.