Jan 31, 2012

This will be the first time I've ever done this. After a suggestion from one of my loyal supporters I felt it was worth trying and so here we are. Tonight I will be opening up the chat room at www.blogtalkradio.com/thesavvysista at 7PM EST to discuss the election results for the Florida GOP primary.

In order to participate in the chat, you have to register on Blog Talk Radio. Trust me it's really simple.

Hopefully if everything works out and this proves to be pretty successful, this is something I'm willing to do for all subsequent elections and perhaps other big events that are taking place.

If you have any suggestions or comments you would like to share with me about tonight's event please feel free to leave them as a comment.

(AJC)-After five years at the helm, Robert M. Franklin is stepping down as president of Morehouse College.

In a press release issued by the Atlanta school, Franklin will remain at the college until the end of the 2012 academic year. Then he will take a sabbatical as a Scholar in Residence at Stanford University's Martin Luther King Jr. Institute.

"I look forward to a sabbatical during which I intend to travel, write, speak and interview leaders about the condition of boys and men in the U.S. and around the globe, research that I began years ago in my book, ‘Crisis in the Village,'" said Franklin.

A 1975 graduate of the all male school, Franklin plans to return after his stint at Stanford.

Morehouse’s board of trustees named him President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor, the college’s highest honor.

"I am grateful to the board of trustees for the invitation ... and the opportunity to continue supporting the mission of Morehouse in a different way,” Franklin said.

Under Franklin's leadership, he helped increase alumni giving from 17% to 36%, three times the national average, according to the school's press release. Franklin also helped generated more than $60 million in federal grants and contracts and $33 million in support of the college's comprehensive campaign, during its quiet phase, from corporations, foundations and individual donors.

"Dr. Franklin has served an integral role leading the renaissance of Morehouse, and his dedication is greatly appreciated," said Robert Davidson, chairman of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. "In addition to his years of service, Robert has led by example, dedicating a substantial portion of his time to community service, which is one of the core values that Morehouse seeks to instill in each and every one of its students. We will miss him as the Board endeavors to find a successor who will help to usher the college into a new era."

Davidson said the trustees have already started “a rigorous search to identify a successor and Franklin is committed to a smooth and seamless transition.”

If a new President has not been selected by July 1, Franklin has agreed to stay on board until Dec. 31.

Jan 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — As Mike Ainsworth walked his two sons to a school bus stop, he heard a woman being carjacked scream, and ran to help. The woman was not hurt, police said, but the Good Samaritan was shot to death by a suspect who fled.

When police gave out the details of Ainsworth‘s killing, they also announced he had been arrested for drugs and other non-violent crimes, keeping with a year-old policy in which criminal records for slain victims are released – sometimes before they’ve been publicly identified.

New Orleans police say revealing a victim’s rap sheet lets the public know that much of the violence is happening between people with similar criminal backgrounds. Families of the slain victim’s say the practice is insensitive, and others outraged with the policy say it has racial overtones and sends a message that the victims got what was coming to them.

“I don’t understand why they want to do it,” said Kathryn White, whose 25-year-old son was gunned down in what she said was a case of mistaken identity. White said her son was arrested just once for a small amount of marijuana.

“You are already in so much pain and then you have to see people saying bad things about your dead child. What good does that do anyone,” she said.

In a city often cited as the nation’s murder capital – more than 20 people have been slain so far in January – police are hard-pressed to find solutions.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said publicizing arrest records gives a better picture of the killing, which authorities said usually involves young men who are killing people with similar backgrounds.

Serpas estimated 62 percent of those killed in 2011 had prior felony arrests. He said 40 percent of people arrested for murder in 2011 – and 39 percent of those killed – had previous arrests for illegal possession of a firearm

“If I walked into the doctor’s office and he told me there was a 40 percent certainty that something I was doing would affect my life, don’t you think I would want that knowledge?” Serpas said. “This is knowledge people need to know, and talk about.”

The stakes are high for New Orleans, a city where tourism and free-wheeling visits are promoted for events like the Sugar Bowl, the Final Four basketball tournament this spring and the 2013 Super Bowl, not to mention Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Serpas acknowledge New Orleans’ per capita murder rate is 10 times the national average. In 2011, there were 199 murders in a city of 344,000, up from 175 in 2010. However, those numbers are far less than the 400-plus killings during some years in the 1990s when the pre-Hurricane Katrina population was higher.

Landrieu hopes to fight the crime surge with an emphasis on mental health, education and employment, as well as more patrols and targeting hotspots.

Many big-city police departments avoid a blanket policy of releasing criminal information on victims.

In Baltimore, police track whether homicide victims had criminal histories, but people who inquire are referred to online court records. In 2011, 80 percent of murder victims had criminal records, according to Baltimore police.

“We may confirm whether the person was known to the police if we’re asked, but we try not to disclose too much information about victims for their privacy and security,” said department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

The Detroit Police Department does not release victims’ criminal records unless there is a correlation between the victim’s criminal activity and the homicide, like a convicted drug offender slain during a drug deal. For $10, criminal records are available from the Michigan State Police data base.

Serpas also had a blanket-release policy in Nashville, but after he left 18 months ago, the department decided not to release every rap sheet. Someone with 100 arrests or a person with drug convictions being shot in a drug deal is different than someone with a drunken driving arrest from five years ago, said Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron.

Whether a murder happened in New Orleans, New York or Nashville, there often are common threads, experts said.

“What the New Orleans department is responding to and is true everywhere, is the nature of criminal homicide is that both the offender and the victim tend to have robust criminal records,” said David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Today’s victim is very likely to be yesterday’s perpetrator.”

Releasing all crime records might have unintended consequences, said Charles Ewing of the University of Buffalo Law School.

“One of which is to say to the average citizen that this is not going to happen to you,” Ewing said. “You are a law-abiding citizen so you are safe, which is not always true.”

Ainsworth, the Good Samaritan, had been arrested for possession and distribution of marijuana and LSD as well as several other non-violent charges. He was on probation for marijuana possession from 2006-2008, and for distribution of LSD from 1987 to 1989. Police said they are still looking for a man who shot him.

The policy has also drawn criticism for what some called its racial overtones.

Police tout building community trust and getting witnesses to testify as a large part of the crime-fighting effort, but the policy on murder victims is a poor way to reverse long-time problems what has been mostly black areas, said Mary Howell, a civil rights attorney in New Orleans.

“To insult and add to grief of these families at the same time they’re saying they want community policing, is incredible,” Howell said. “All I can see this has accomplished is to instill anger and deepen grief.”

Jan 29, 2012

In an exclusive interview to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Martin Luther King III opened up as to the true nature of why he left his post of CEO at the King Center. The reason he left is just another reason to make you shake your head when it comes to the King children. I swear there has been no one more detrimental to Dr. King's legacy than his own children. These people just cannot get their stuff together. I'm sure there are other families just as dysfunctional as the King family, but you would hope they could get their stuff together to continue their father and mother's legacy.

As reported by the AJC:

In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Martin King said his concerns about the blurring of lines between the nonprofit King Center and the for-profit King Inc. left him with no choice but to leave the organization he had led for 18 months.

This month, the center’s seven-person board of mainly family members removed King as CEO, replacing him with his sister, Bernice King. At the same time, Martin King, still bearing the title of president, said he was stripped of his executive powers and responsibility, leaving his position little more than a “ceremonial” one.

“I disagree with the new direction of the board, which makes the center essentially an extension of King Inc. rather than acknowledge the fundamentally different and at times conflicting motives of a for-profit corporation vs. a public foundation,” King wrote in a resignation letter he submitted to the board Jan. 17. “The convergence of the two entities is evidenced by the placement of King Inc. staff in control of the center, including the interim managing director position.”

But while King is citing philosophical differences, a person close to the situation is claiming that King was stripped of his powers in essence because he wasn’t a good leader.

Houston attorney Terry M. Giles, who was appointed by a judge to serve as the custodian of King Inc., said as president and CEO of the King Center, King was not moving the organization forward.

Giles, who is applying through the Fulton County Superior Court to be the custodian of the King Center as well, said that during King’s time at the helm, virtually no fundraising had been done to “assure the future and proper care of the center.”

In essence, the whole of the King estate is divided into two parts, King Inc. and the King Center.

Click here to read the entire article.

Jan 27, 2012

I know some of you were looking for a mixed tape or rather a compilation album of all the racist comments Republicans have made about black people. Well, someone has heard your cries and granted your wish. He/she has put together all the most recent classic pieces of the republicans inserting their foot into their mouths. You'll get to see some of your personal favorites such as Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and let's not forget Rick Santorum.

Trust me, after you black people get finish watching this clip you'll take to the streets and demand jobs and not food stamps. Hell, you may even be inspired to take a class on swimming.

A lot is being made about April Justin's, mother of football player Landon Collins, reaction to her son's selection of Alabama as his school of choice. As soon as her son made his choice, his mother shook her head and proceeded to tell ESPN that she disagreed with his choice because she felt the coach of Alabama, Nick Saban, disrespected her.

How did he disrespect her you ask. Well, she felt disrespected because she felt that Saban was very stereotypically when it came to the recruiting of her son. She was more interested in him discussing her son's academic future as well as how he would fit in on the campus, but yet when he (Saban) visited her home he only talked about the possibility of a future NFL career. Ms. Justin found such talk to be very stereotypical.

In the end, those concerns about the Alabama program didn't affect Landon Collins, who gave off the sense that he had been in awe of the program since taking in the Crimson Tide-Florida game in Tuscaloosa during his junior season. Sensing his son's inclination, Collins' father -- who has long been separated from April Justin -- continued to encourage him to go with his instincts. [source]

Now there are a lot of people on the internet who are criticizing April Justin for her behavior. Many people say she upstaged her son and she should just be happy that he's going to college. But as a mother, isn't she entitled to her opinion as to what school her son goes to? Did she go about it right? Probably not. But does she have a point when it comes to the recruitment of black players? Maybe so.

We always complain about the fact that no one is really taking an interest in academics when it comes these young athletic recruits. When a parent does show interest, she/he gets crucified. Is it because of the way she went about it, or is it the fact that she had the audacity to be vocal about her dissatisifaction?

Tell me what you think.

Jan 26, 2012


WASHINGTON — The secret was still intact when President Barack Obama, entering the House chamber Tuesday evening to deliver his State of the Union speech, pointed at his Pentagon chief and said, “Good job 

Unknown to a global television audience watching the annual Capitol Hill ritual, a bold U.S. raid was still playing out half a world away with an elite Navy SEAL team’s rescue of two hostages in Somalia, one of them an American. It was the same unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, two U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Publicly, Obama did not tip his hand during his speech, though microphones picked up his congratulation to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he entered the House chamber. Obama pointed his index finger to Panetta and said, “Good job tonight. Good job.” Panetta smiled broadly.

Obama had learned shortly before that American aid worker Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, a Dane, were safely in U.S. military hands. Immediately after the speech, Obama telephoned Buchanan’s father from the Capitol to tell him that she was safe and “on her way home,” according to the White House.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said that although the two hostages were safe by the time Obama gestured to Panetta, the secretive rescue mission had not yet been completed.

Kirby and other Pentagon officials declined to reveal details of how the rescue was conducted, although they said the Americans originally intended to capture alive and detain the kidnappers. Instead, for reasons that have not been explained publicly, they killed all nine of them.

Panetta’s press secretary, George Little, said the kidnappers were heavily armed, with explosives “nearby.” He said neither the two hostages nor any members of the U.S. assault team were injured.

Little said one factor in deciding to go ahead with the rescue was that Buchanan’s medical condition had been deteriorating. He said it was believed that her condition could be life-threatening. Neither Kirby nor Little would say more about her medical problem or say how the U.S. learned of it getting worse.

In his State of the Union speech the president did not mention the rescue, though he did refer to another successful military operation – the May 2011 killing of bin Laden in Pakistan by Navy SEAL Team 6.

“One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden,” Obama said in his speech.

Tuesday’s rescue was carried out by the same SEAL unit that carried out the bin Laden operation, two U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the operation. The unit is the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6. The members of the unit who carried out the rescue operation were not the same personnel as those who killed bin Laden, the U.S. officials said.

In a predawn White House statement, Obama praised U.S. Special Operations Forces who rescued Buchanan and the Dane, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint by Somali pirates in October.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts,” Obama said in a statement.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the top secret operation, said the SEAL team parachuted into the area and got to the rescue site on foot. The official said U.S. Air Force special operations planes carried the SEALs to the parachute drop zone, and Army special operations helicopters carried the raiders and their hostages to safety.

Panetta, in a statement, said Buchanan and Hagen Thisted “have been transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home.” He said the two hostages were not harmed during the operation, and no U.S. troops were killed or injured.

“This was a team effort and required close coordination, especially between the Department of Defense and our colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Panetta said.

On NBC’s “Today,” Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. decided to move after determining that Buchanan’s health “was beginning to decline.”

“We wanted to act,” Biden said.

Obama approved the mission Monday. On Tuesday, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, gave the president half a dozen updates on the movement of forces and the progression of rescue operation.

About two hours before Obama was scheduled to begin delivering his State of the Union address, Brennan told him Buchanan and Thisted were safe and in U.S. hands.

After delivering his address, Obama called Buchanan’s father. In his statement Wednesday, Obama said he told John Buchanan “that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family.”

“The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice,” Obama said. “This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.”

Biden had high praise for the special forces. “It takes your breath away, their capacity and their bravery,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “These guys and women are amazing.”


Jan 25, 2012

 As a proud alumnus of FAMU, I have to admit this video made me laugh especially the part about the 'Net Check'.  I'm still waiting on my 'Net Check' and I graduated damn near ten years ago...LOL!

I can definitely relate to a lot in this video from my car getting towed (true story).  I was at the Career Center for an interview and came back and my car was gone.  I cried like a baby...lol!  Those FAMU police don't play about those tickets either.

I love my alma mater!

It must be nice to be a member of the 1%. Not only did Mitt Romney's tax returns from the past two years show what we already knew about him (in the words of NeNe Leakes, he's rich b!&ch), but it revealed just how rich he is. Mitt Romney is at the upper echelon of the one percent, which in itself is not a problem but what maybe a problem for a lot of people is the fact that he pays taxes at an effective rate of 13.9% which is far less than the average Americans pay.  But in all fairness, there is nothing average about the amount of money Mitt makes.

Now, I realize a lot of you are scratching your heads as to why Willard's taxes are so low, but the truth of the matter is the fact that most of his income come from capital gains which only carries a 15% tax rate. This also explains why Warren Buffett pays less taxes than his secretary.


Here's how the media is breaking down the tax returns:


Via AJC:


The Romneys gave away $7 million in charitable contributions over the past two years, including at least $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney’s family has for generations been among the Mormon church’s most prominent members.

The Romneys sent somewhat less to Washington over that period, paying an estimated $6.2 million in federal income taxes. According to his 2010 return, Romney paid about $3 million to the IRS, for an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent.

For 2011, Romney estimates he will pay about $3.2 million, for an effective rate of 15.4 percent. That’s in line with his earlier estimates, but sharply lower than the rates paid by President Obama and Romney’s closest Republican rival, Newt Gingrich.

Among the new details contained in the documents are Romney’s continuing profits from the private equity firm he founded but no longer runs, a Swiss bank account closed just as Romney launched his White House run and new listings of investment funds that were set up in offshore locations from the Caribbean to Ireland and Luxembourg.

Romney’s advisers stressed that he met all his federal tax obligations, provided maximum transparency and did not take advantage of “aggressive” strategies often used by the ultra-rich.

“The average American has a hard time understanding their own two-page tax return let alone Gov. Romney’s 200-page return,” said Joseph Bankman, a Stanford University professor of business and law who has testified to Congress on tax issues. “What would jump out at anyone is the sheer amount of money and low tax rate he pays, as well as the enormous complexity of his financial transactions.”

Romney’s income puts him in the top 0.006 percent of Americans, based on the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, from 2009. That year, only 8,274 filers reported income above $10 million.

He could be worth up to $250 million, based on previously released financial information.

Asked during a round of TV interviews Tuesday about Romney’s tax rate, given that he’s a multimillionaire, White House adviser David Plouffe said: “We need to change our tax system. We need to change our tax code so that everybody is doing their fair share.”

Romney’s GOP rivals had no immediate comment.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended Romney’s tax rate as being close to what most Americans pay on long-term capital gains from the sale of investments.

“We all know that there’s a reason we have low rates on capital gains,” Boehner told reporters. “That is because it spurs new investment in our economy and allows capital to move more quickly.”

Romney had long refused to disclose any federal tax returns, then hinted he would offer only a single year’s return in April. He released the returns Tuesday after mounting criticism from his rivals and a hard loss in last week’s South Carolina primary.

Romney advisers acknowledged he continues to earn money from investments from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded and managed between 1984 and early 1999. Under an agreement when he left, Romney continued to earn “carried interest” on new Bain investments as a former partner even though he no longer ran the operation.

Romney earned $7.5 million in Bain earnings in 2010 and expects to make $5.5 million in 2011, Ginsberg said.

Gingrich released his 2010 returns last Thursday showing he paid almost $1 million in income taxes, a tax rate of about 31 percent.

Romney’s advisers acknowledged Tuesday that Romney and his wife had a bank account in Switzerland as part of her trust. The account in the United Bank of Switzerland was worth $3 million, said R. Bradford Malt, a Boston lawyer who makes investments for the Romneys and oversees their blind trust, which was set up to avoid any conflicts of interest in investments during his presidential run.

Malt said he closed the account in early 2010 for “diversification” and because it “just wasn’t worth it.” He also said it “might or might not be inconsistent with Gov. Romney’s political views.” Malt has sold off other accounts in recent years — including investments in firms that did business with Iran and China — because of possible political inconsistency or embarrassment with Romney’s political positions.

Malt also confirmed that some of Romney’s investments are routed through affiliate funds set up in the Cayman Islands. He said there were no actual offshore accounts, and Romney paid the same amount of U.S. taxes as he would have if those investment funds were set up in the U.S.

Romney’s 2010 return also shows a number of foreign investments, including funds based in Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg. The documents also detailed another investment fund routed through a Bain Capital affiliate set up in Bermuda.

Romney’s charitable giving is above average, even for someone at his income level. In 2009, more than 37 million filers claimed charitable deductions averaging more than $4,000. Among those making more than $10 million, the average charitable deduction was about $1.7 million, according to the IRS.


Jan 24, 2012

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary

January 24, 2012

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
State of the Union Address
“An America Built to Last”
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery –

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought – and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a Nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share – the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.

Let’s remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.

The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can’t bring back every job that’s left our shores. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.

We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.

So let’s change it. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

My message is simple. It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I’ll sign them right away.

We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration – and it’s made a difference. Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing finance or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that – openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.

That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My Administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers – places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning – the first time that’s happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.

We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.

Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

That doesn’t make sense.

I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.

The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.

Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don’t gut these investments in our budget. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.

What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”

Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy. An incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our States with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.

There’s never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest-hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren’t the only ones hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who’ve seen their home values decline. And while Government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

That’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.

Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a Government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them. That’s why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don’t destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.

There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill – because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.

I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.

And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system’s core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, start a business, or send a kid to college.

So if you’re a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits. You’re required to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail – because the rest of us aren’t bailing you out ever again. And if you’re a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can’t afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them.

We will also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there’s no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That’s bad for consumers, and it’s bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

A return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help us protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.

When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.

The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.

We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last.

I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt; energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right now: Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?

I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad – and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let’s take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.

Some of what’s broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything – even routine business – passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.

The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote. That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our Government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.

Finally, none of these reforms can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.

I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States. That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work. That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about Government spending have supported federally-financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective Government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.

That is the lesson we’ve learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.

From this position of strength, we’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators – a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can’t be reversed, and that human dignity can’t be denied.

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us. That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years. Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.

That’s why, working with our military leaders, I have proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they served us. That includes giving them the care and benefits they have earned – which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our Nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we are providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I’m proposing a Veterans Job Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.


Jan 23, 2012

It's just Monday and I'm already raving mad. If I see one more post about how Black people should not feel "obligated" to see the movie "Red Tails", y'all gon make me lose my mind up in here, up in here. Now it wouldn't be a Lovelylocks post without a confession so let's get that out of the way. I am probably the only person in America who has never seen a Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie. It's nothing personal. I just don't really do sci-fi and Indiana Jones, whatever genre it is, just never grabbed my interest.

Even so, I was excited when I heard George Lucas and Aaron MacGruder were collaborating on a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. I had plans to support the film long before the media decided to create some hoopla about the lack of Black film funding in Hollywood (thank you Captain Obvious... Black people realized a long time ago, that whenever possible, we will be handed the shirt end of the stick). So although, I've probably never before given a dollar to George Lucas's well stuffed pockets, I was happy to stand in line this weekend and help him recoup his 100 million dollar investment.

Honestly, Red Tails won't make my all time favorite movie list because I am just not an action movie kind of girl but I am so happy that I went to see it and if you called me this weekend and asked me to go again, I would. There was a sense of camaraderie between the entire audience as we anxiously settled into our seats and waited for the movie to begin. The scene where the airmen declare, "We fight, we fight, we fight" caused my heart to swell with pride because these brave men did fight and in the end they proved to the world that were not only competent pilots, but that they were some of the best fighter pilots to ever sit in a cockpit. As we exited the theatre, we all wore a collective smile. We felt strong, proud, and unified. We fight!!

Of course, I should have known that reality would come crashing in at some point and the feelings of unity and solidarity would be marginalized. Sunday morning, I awoke to a myriad of blog posts and articles decrying support for the movie. Normally, I'd be content to agree to disagree but the arrogant countenance of the detractors has reay started to make my teeth itch (don't get it twisted, no matter how much education I get when I get angry, the Southern girl comes out in me... Lol... For you northerners, when someone tells you that you are making his/her teeth itch, it means you are getting on his/her last nerve and they are contemplating doing physical bodily harm to you).

So I am going to address the two most prominent arguments put forth by the movie's detractors.

1) I don't like historical/war/action movies and I go to the movies to be entertained. To me, this is another version of the it doesn't personally affect me argument. If you can quote every lyric to a song by Nicki Minaj but you are unaware of how these brave men risked their lives so that you would have a country to call home then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. You are dumbing down my race. Yeah I said it. You are the reason that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum feel that they can make ignorant comments about Black people needing to cash pay checks instead of welfare checks. See they know that you are so busy worrying about being "entertained" that you won't take the time to get angry and call them on their lies while the closeted racists that they are pandering to tell themselves that they were right to think all Black people are lazy. Don't get me wrong. I do certain things purely for the entertainment value, like visiting amusement parks but when you pass up a chance to uplift our race because you'd rather be "entertained" your priorities are really screwed up. #realtalk

2) We shouldn't throw our support behind a white director telling our story. Our resources and support should be going to independent Black filmmakers. I don't see why we can't support both. Why should we settle for one or the other? I say we demand equal representation in both arenas. I think that some of you feel that George Lucas is somehow using the Tuskegee Airmen story to his advantage and I don't see it that way at all. First, George Lucas is a kazillionaire (okay that is not a word but come on, not many people have George Lucas money or fame) and a huge heavyweight in the film industry. If Hollywood investors would not give him the money to make a Black film, you know independent filmmakers have little to no chance of securing funding. Secondly, the man put up his own money for this project. As an author contemplating publishing my own book for the first time, I know that when you put up your money, it's a labor of love. So I don't think he's using anyone. I think he saw them for the heroes that they really are and wanted to tell their story. Now if we can prove him right and make this a success then the next Black filmmaker with a dream and a camera might find it a little easier to find money for their project.

We can keep telling ourselves that this is a movie and not really important to our status in America, but we are mistaken. Just like politicians cater and listen to citizens who organize and vote, Hollywood pays attention to the things consumers spend money on... if we want more Black films, more Black actors working, more Black directors, and more varied stories told from the Black perspective then we have to start by supporting this film. To steal and paraphrase, "You want respect. Well respect cost and right here is where you start paying." (Listen, y'all know I'm a little dramatic...lol) Shoot, I've motivated myself to go and see the movie again. Who's with me?? If you live in the Atlanta area, hit me up. We'll go and see it together.