Monica Potts is a senior writer for The American Prospect and a fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program. Her work has appeared in TheNew York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.
As part of his effort to reform the way government contracts are rewarded, Obama plans to favor companies that offer higher wages and better benefits packages in government contracts, reports the New York Times. It would also reinstate controls started by Clinton and rolled back by Bush that prevent the government from doing business with companies that frequently violate regulations. Not surprisingly, the plan is drawing fire from business groups, who say it's an excuse to reward big labor and will hurt small businesses.
The Justice Department has launched a program to help states bolster and repair their legal defense systems for people who cannot afford a lawyer. While all states have a system in place for indigent defense, as it's known, the design of the programs and their quality vary from state to state. A Harvard constitutional lawyer, Laurence Tribe, will head the effort:
E.D. Kainprotests the sometimes elitist dismissals of tea-party folks, and -- as Jamelle Bouiepoints out -- some of what he says is fair. But Kain sets up an either/or dichotomy. Either you believe the tea partiers have valid concerns, or you think they're racists. Both ignore the possibility that the tea partiers' have concerns that sound valid and aren't explicitly racist, but are rooted in a history that is. Kain writes:
HUD announced yesterday that it would give grants to nonprofit agencies that help low-income families buy, build, or rehab new homes. In exchange for grants averaging $15,000 per dwelling, each homeowner has to volunteer 100 hours in work on the home.
Of the many biographical details that shaped Barack Obama as a political figure, perhaps none is more prominent than the absence of his father during his upbringing. The president's public effort to understand Barack Obama Sr. began with the publication of his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, shortly after he finished his term as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. In the book, Obama describes how difficult it was to grow up without a relationship to his Kenyan father, the man who gave him a name and a heritage but was not around to help him navigate America's complicated racial divide.