Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gen Y: No jobs, lots of loans, grim future - Business - Eye on the Economy

They are perhaps the best-educated generation ever, but they can’t find jobs. Many face staggering college loans and have moved back in with their parents. Even worse, their difficulty in getting careers launched could set them back financially for years.

The Millennials, broadly defined as those born in the 1980s and '90s, are the first generation of American workers since World War II who have cloudier prospects than the generations that preceded them.

Certainly the recession has hurt young workers badly. While the overall unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in June, it was 15.3 percent for those aged 20 to 24, compared with 7.8 percent for ages 35-44, 7.5 percent for ages 45-54 and 6.9 percent for those 55 and older.

Among 18-to 29-year-olds, unemployment is the highest it’s been in more than three decades, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. The report also found that Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are less likely to be employed than Gen Xers or baby boomers were at the same age.

Millennials are generally well-educated, but they have have been cast as everything from tech savants who will work cheap to entitled narcissists. The recession has pitted these younger workers against baby boomers trying to save for retirement and Gen Xers with homes and families.

Vote: Do you think Millennials are more disadvantaged than previous generations?

Just ask Michael Barreto.

Eleven months was all it took to bring him from post-graduation autonomy back to his parents’ home in Apple Valley, Calif.

Armed with an undergraduate degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine, and experience from an internship, the 23-year-old Barreto believed he had a better chance than many of his peers to find a job. But more than a year after graduation, Barreto is still struggling to find employment.

"Right now I'm just trying to find any sort of full-time work that would allow me to live on my own and save money for the future," he said.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

E.J. Dionne Jr. - Enough right-wing propaganda

The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics. This is not, as the now-trivialized phrase has it, a "teachable moment." It is a time for action.

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story." And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year's election.

The administration's response to the doctored video pushed by right-wing hit man Andrew Breitbart was shameful. The obsession with "protecting" the president turned out to be the least protective approach of all.

The Obama team did not question, let alone challenge, the video. Instead, it assumed that whatever narrative Fox News might create mattered more than anything else, including the possible innocence of a human being outside the president's inner circle.

Obama complained on ABC's "Good Morning America" that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles." But it's his own apparatus that turned "this media culture" into a false god.

Yet the Obama team was reacting to a reality: the bludgeoning of mainstream journalism into looking timorously over its right shoulder and believing that "balance" demands taking seriously whatever sludge the far right is pumping into the political waters.

This goes way back. Al Gore never actually said he "invented the Internet," but you could be forgiven for not knowing this because the mainstream media kept reporting he had.

There were no "death panels" in the Democratic health-care bills. But this false charge got so much coverage that an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll last August found that 45 percent of Americans thought the reform proposals would likely allow "the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care to the elderly." That was the summer when support for reform was dropping precipitously. A straight-out lie influenced the course of one of our most important debates.

The traditional media are so petrified of being called "liberal" that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream journalists regularly criticize themselves for not jumping fast enough or high enough when the Fox crowd demands coverage of one of their attack lines.

Thus did Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander ask this month why the paper had been slow to report on "the Justice Department's decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party." Never mind that this is a story about a tiny group of crackpots who stopped no one from voting. It was aimed at doing what the doctored video Breitbart posted set out to do: convince Americans that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites.

And never mind that, to her great credit, Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, dismissed the case and those pushing it. "This doesn't have to do with the Black Panthers," she told Politico's Ben Smith. "This has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration." Instead, the media are supposed to take seriously the charges of J. Christian Adams, who served in the Bush Justice Department. He's a Republican activist going back to the Bill Clinton era. His party services included time as a Bush poll watcher in Florida in 2004, when on one occasion he was involved in a controversy over whether a black couple could cast a regular ballot.

Now, Adams is accusing the Obama Justice Department of being "motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law." This is racially inflammatory, politically motivated nonsense -- and it's nonsense even if Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh talk about it a thousand times a day. When an outlandish charge for which there is no evidence is treated as an on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other-hand issue, the liars win.

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Tom Burrell - Are Black Leaders Brainwashed?

Published on /The Root/ (

Home <> > Are Black Leaders Brainwashed?

 Are Black Leaders Brainwashed?

By: Tom Burrell
Posted: July 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM

The rush to condemn Shirley Sherrod exposes a lack of courage that we cannot afford in the coming media war.

The debacle surrounding the virtual lynching of black agriculture official Shirley Sherrod has left everyone involved scrambling for cover. President Obama, while not directly linked to the premature decision to fire Sherrod, called her Thursday to apologize. Video provocateur Andrew Breitbart has insisted he was not after Sherrod but after the NAACP. Fox News' Glenn Beck displayed a time line on his show to argue he only covered the story after Sherrod was shown to have been unfairly dismissed.

But the role played by black leaders in this tragic story deserves a closer look. It tells us a lot about the state of black leadership in America and the lack of courage among these leaders in the face of the relentless campaign from the conservative right to demonize black America. When the incriminating video first aired, implying that Sherrod had discriminated against a white farmer, the NAACP quickly repudiated Sherrod, defining her words as ''appalling, shameful, intolerable and racist.'' CNN's Roland Martin expressed solidarity with the NAACP, saying its admonishment was correct.

When the truth came to light -- that the video posted by Breitbart was heavily edited to dilute Sherrod's anecdotal story of racial reconciliation -- NAACP president Ben Jealous retracted his organization's repudiation, claiming they had all been ''snookered'' by Fox News and Breitbart. Jealous said the orchestrated smear campaign represented a ''teachable moment'' for activists and journalists.

I beg to differ. For black political and community leaders, media pundits and voters, this is not just a ''teachable moment.'' It's our moment of reconciliation, our moment to take a stand. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Breitbart said he released the truncated* *Sherrod video in response to the NAACP's use of ''propaganda'' to smear the Tea Party. It was a classic pot-kettle maneuver from a member of the camp that has resurrected and expertly utilized fear-based, Nazi-era propagandizing techniques. Judging by the right's record, the Sherrod affair is just the warm-up act before the fall elections. It's a safe bet that race-based attacks will be part of the propaganda war to drive Obama* *from office.

On the winner-takes-all, scurrilous, new-media battlefield, there's no room for political naiveté or acquiescence. Frankly, it's embarrassing that the leader of a prominent civil rights organization allowed conservative operatives to influence his decision to demean a socially conscious black woman. To admit he was ''snookered'' by Fox News is akin to being surprised that the Ku Klux Klan's has a distaste for black people. Judging blacks ''without all the facts'' is a tepid response from a black president who doesn't seem to have the stomach for racial confrontations.

*Wake Up, Stand Up*

Rest assured, the propaganda war is in full swing. With a presidential election on the horizon, black leaders and black media must adopt a new code of conduct. Before the media's next ''big thing,'' we must identify the puppets and puppet masters -- the race baiters and power brokers who exploit America's fears and pull black leaders' strings. Now, more than ever, we have to recognize the indications of weak black leadership and deep racial conditioning.

In the ongoing battle for equality, opportunity and progress, it's imperative that we fully understand the new racial paradigm. We are but a few decades removed from the most heinous forms of racial barbarity and oppression, yet black people are expected to be contrite, apologetic and on the defensive so as not to be considered ''racist.''
A week before the Sherrod incident, NAACP members caught hell from conservatives after voting for a resolution demanding that the Tea Party ''repudiate the racists'' in its ranks. No doubt, the NAACP leader's knee-jerk response to Sherrod's supposed controversial remarks was motivated by a burning desire to acquiesce, to appear fair and balanced. Unfortunately, it is an attempt to please an unfair and unbalanced opposition that could care less about compromising overtures.

Considering the source, high-profile blacks should have vetted Breitbart and Fox News' story before trashing Sherrod. It's an indictment of black leadership (and that includes President Obama) if they aren't willing to fight for what's right even when it crosses into the unsavory realm of race.

The stakes are higher for people denied opportunity for centuries. It's reckless to abide with black leaders who place their own needs above the collective's. This is the time for media-savvy blacks, like the National Association of Black Journalists, to use their skills to fact-check, vet and counter rigged propaganda maneuvers. Expert black voices must emphasize the ramifications of losing the high-stakes media war. We must use our numbers and economic clout. Fox News and its advertisers should understand that there will be serious consequences if the network continues to underwrite propaganda disguised as ''fair and balanced'' news.

The story of an innocent black woman who became a pawn in the high stakes ''gotcha'' media game also speaks to the mercenary component of politics. Americans, repulsed by the idea that opportunistic media manipulators can destroy innocent lives, want the boundaries of decency reinforced.

According to recent news reports, Sherrod has been asked to consider a new and ''unique'' position with the USDA. This doesn't erase the fact that the NAACP and White House officials sacrificed Sherrod for reasons of self-interest. In an evolving environment dictated by a post-racial fantasy, we can ill afford brainwashed, compromising leadership.

A serious blow was struck against segregation 55 years ago when Rosa Parks refused to vacate a seat for a white passenger. Black leaders need to remember that progress inched forward because a real black hero remained seated on the bus -- unlike Shirley Sherrod, a modern-day hero who was thrown under it.

/Tom Burrell is a marketing communications pioneer, founder and former CEO of Burrell Communications, and an Advertising Hall of Fame inductee. He is the author of /Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority <>/ (Smiley Books).

 Tom Burrell's Brainwashing Diagnosis

By: Tom Burrell
Posted: July 23, 2010 at 1:25 PM

The advertising pioneer compiled a list of 10 symptoms to look for in our leaders.

You know black leaders are brainwashed when ...

*1)* ... they fear that talking about racism may hamper their success.

*2)* ... they roll over at the slightest hint of retaliation.

*3) *... they allow avowed enemies to define their agenda.

*4)* ... they quickly retreat from already weak positions.

*5)* ... they swiftly throw another black person under the bus to appear less racist.

*6)* ... they are more concerned about status among whites than defending black people.

*7)* ... they equalize racism, making it a black /and/ white thing.

*8)* ... they legitimize, tolerate or excuse white groups, pundits or individuals who race-bait.

*9)* ... they allow whites to redefine the meaning of ''racism.''

*10)* ... they accept the ''post-racial'' illusion as our reality.

/Tom Burrell is a marketing communications pioneer, founder and former CEO of Burrell Communications, and an Advertising Hall of Fame inductee. He is the author of /Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority <>/.// (Smiley Books). /

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

David Ignatius - A president tripped up by the spontaneous

If you want a handle on what ails the Obama administration (and who doesn't, these days), try thinking about it as the "scripted" presidency.

Barack Obama has been very good at following his mental teleprompter -- he has passed health care and much of the rest of the legislative agenda he campaigned on, as his supporters rightly keep stressing. But he has been less successful at responding to the roiling free-for-all of events that is part of governing.

For a genuine political animal, such as Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton, it's these unplanned events that make the job exciting, because they plunge the president into the maw of politics. By contrast, Obama and his advisers seem to avoid these moments whenever possible, and when the unexpected happens, as in the BP oil spill or the phony "racist" accusations against Shirley Sherrod, they often handle the media storm badly.

What accounts for this failing? Obama talked during the 2008 campaign about how he wanted to break from the politics of division. But 18 months on, I begin to wonder if it's politics itself that he doesn't like -- the messy process of wheeling and dealing, of making lowdown compromises for high-minded goals.

A memorable Obama moment came when he was a young senator listening to a consummate politician, Joe Biden, ramble on as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Shoot. Me. Now," wrote Obama to one of his aides.

A man who knows Obama well speculated a few months ago that this president isn't in love with the White House. The Post had run an article saying that with his dry intellect, Obama would be happier on the Supreme Court than in the Oval Office. The insider nodded his head. "That's true," he said.

This White House famously doesn't like surprises. The president gives few news conferences, and the ones he does hold are often wooden events, with little of the spontaneity and human theater that allow the country to get to know its leader. Obama calls on a pre-selected list of reporters; his answers are overlong and taxonomic. He is always smart and well prepared but rarely personal. Even as he was taking the country deeper into war in Afghanistan in December, his call to arms was bloodless.

This president doesn't do many unscripted interviews, either. The White House may grant one when it wants to roll out a prepackaged policy or theme. But Obama avoids open-ended sessions that might be "fishing expeditions," aimed at catching him in a mistake or on a subject outside the talking points.

Contrast the scripted, dry-bones nature of this White House with President Johnson, as described in an excellent new biography by Charles Peters, the longtime editor of The Washington Monthly. Peters captures the aspects of Johnson's conniving, manipulative "power personality" that were most unattractive -- the way he compulsively seduced women and humiliated men.

Johnson could be a monster. But as Peters reminds us, he was a brilliant politician. He loved getting in the muck and wrestling with people and events. His testosterone-crazed presidency produced some disasters, notably Vietnam, but he provided White House leadership for the civil rights movement in a way that began to remedy our deepest injustice.

I asked another administration insider to describe how Obama deals with sensitive national security issues. This official generally had high praise for Obama's intellect and analytical precision. The odd thing, he said, was that Obama doesn't often ask "presidential questions." By this, he meant that Obama rarely steps out of the scripted briefing points to ask: "Why are we doing this?"

Here's what I hope, as someone who wants Obama to succeed: His script is going to blow up in November. It's increasingly likely that Democratic House and Senate losses will be so large that Obama will have to scramble all the time. "Staying on message" and "no drama" won't be options in the freewheeling political environment that's coming.

Assuming that Obama wants a second term (which isn't always clear), the president inevitably will begin campaigning for reelection in 2011. That should get him out of the scripted realm, too, unless his advisers foolishly try to campaign with photo ops, canned events and a White House bubble machine.

Real politics, as opposed to the scripted variety, is fun to watch. Dealing with the unexpected is how politicians grow in office -- and how the public gets to know them better and like them more. Throw away the talking points, Mr. President, and just talk.

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Op-Ed Columnist - You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing

Check out this website I found at

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