Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Immigration Reform Could Be Bonanza for Democrats

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The immigration proposal pending in Congress would transform the nation’s political landscape for a generation or more — pumping as many as 11 million new Hispanic voters into the electorate a decade from now in ways that, if current trends hold, would produce an electoral bonanza for Democrats and cripple Republican prospects in many states they now win easily.

Beneath the philosophical debates about amnesty and border security, there are brass-tacks partisan calculations driving the thinking of lawmakers in both parties over comprehensive immigration reform, which in its current form offers a pathway to citizenship—and full voting rights—for a group of undocumented residents that roughly equals the population of Ohio, the nation’s seventh-largest state.

If these people had been on the voting rolls in 2012 and voted along the same lines as other Hispanic voters did last fall, President Barack Obama’s relatively narrow victory last fall would have been considerably wider, a POLITICO analysis showed.

Key swing states that Obama fought tooth and nail to win—like Florida, Colorado and Nevada—would have been comfortably in his column. And the president would have come very close to winning Arizona.

Republican Mitt Romney, by contrast, would have lost the national popular vote by 7 percentage points, 53 percent to 46 percent, instead of the 4-point margin he lost by in 2012, and would have struggled even to stay competitive in GOP strongholds like Texas, which he won with 57 percent of the vote.

The analysis is based on U.S. Census and Pew Research Center estimates of illegal immigrant populations by state, and presidential exit polls showing how Obama and Romney performed among Latinos.

To illustrate the potential voting shifts once immigrants are able to vote, look at Texas, Arizona and Georgia. The total undocumented immigrant population in each of those states exceeds Romney’s margin of victory.

Texas, where the unauthorized immigrant population is second only to California’s, had an estimated 1.65 million undocumented immigrants in 2010, according to statistics from the Pew Hispanic Center. Romney won the state in 2012 by just under 1.3 million votes.

In Arizona, Romney won by 212,000 votes — and there are an estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants in the state as of 2010.

Even Georgia, which isn’t a border state and doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of immigrant-heavy states, would be affected: Georgia had an estimated 425,000 undocumented immigrants in 2010, per Pew Hispanic Center’s estimates, and Romney won there by 308,000 votes.

If all those immigrants had voted in 2012 and President Obama had won 71 percent of them—the percentage he won among Latinos nationally—he would have come in less than 50,000 votes short in Arizona, within about a half-million votes of winning Texas and 125,000 votes shy in Georgia.

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Pew: For Every 10 Americans, Only 3 Trust the Government

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. has found that fewer Americans than ever trust the decisions made by the government.

Data collected from a survey taken in January of this year indicates that all demographics and partisan groups experienced an increasing lack of faith in government leadership, according to a release posted on the Pew Research website late last week.

“However, there are disparities,” the official summary noted. “[M]ore than twice as many Hispanics as whites (44 percent vs. 20 percent) trust the federal government, and more blacks (38 percent) than whites trust the government.”

Researchers additionally observed that younger Americans trust the government more than their older counterparts, and that more liberals believe in the administration of President Barack Obama than either independents or Republicans.

Conversely, distrust of federal government is presently at 73 percent. Earlier on in the Obama administration, it reportedly hit a record high of 80 percent, according to a graph constructed and presented by researchers at Pew.

According to Pew, almost 60 percent of people in the United States had confidence in the federal government before President Bill Clinton left office. When Bush left, national trust was down to about 25 percent of the nation’s people.



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Obama Economy Erasing Gains Made After Civil Rights

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

On the stump, President Barack Obama often insinuated to black voters that Republicans would take them back to the pre-Civil Rights era of Jim Crow, but his economy has wiped out nearly all the gains the black middle class has made since integration.

A record number of black voters went to the polls in 2008 and 2012 for President Barack Obama, but his economic policies–on top of the housing bubble that burst due to reckless subprime mortgages before the Great Recession–have decimated the black middle class, wiping out nearly 30 years of gains.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, “black households had a median net wealth of just $4,900 in 2010, compared with $97,000 for white households,” and a “a third of black households had zero or negative wealth.”

Since blacks have not been able to accumulate “generations of wealth,” home values account for nearly 60% of an average black family’s wealth.

The American Prospect found that while most “middle-class families hold all of their wealth in their homes,” this is “especially true for the median black family” because many families do not own any stocks.

“That means the housing crisis has wiped out an entire generation of black wealth,” The Prospect wrote. This is made tougher because there is “no family wealth to fall back on in hard times” because “wealth is not very deep” in minority communities.

The Prospect profiled Prince George’s County in Maryland as being emblematic of the rise and fall of the black middle class. In that county, foreclosure rates “were 4.19 percent, compared to 1.87 percent in Maryland and 2.21 percent in the nation as a whole.”

In 1999, after President Bill Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which “allowed lending banks and investment banks to operate under one roof,” predatory lenders targeted areas like Prince George’s County, which had a lot of minorities.

Today in Prince George’s County, “the typical client has a mortgage of $300,000, and their house is worth $150,000.”

In 1990, Prince George’s County became majority black for the first time since slavery “because black professionals were mostly displacing rural and working-class whites.” It also became the “wealthiest majority-black county in the nation” as “most of the professionals who bought homes in Prince George’s County came from Washington’s black middle class.”

According to the Prospect,  laws “that expanded minority homeownership, combined with a booming mortgage market, brought more and more black residents out to the suburbs” as blacks made up 65% of the county’s population in 2010, up from 14% in the 1970s. In addition the county was one of the few “that grew wealthier as it became blacker” as “median income in Prince George’s outpaced the national median from the 1970 census forward.”

But when the house of cards that was the housing market collapsed, many in the black middle class were left living paycheck to paycheck. This is an issue Obama has rarely discussed or addressed because his economy has made it nearly impossible for those in the black middle class to rebuild their wealth let alone tread water.

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700,000 Americans petition the White House to secede from the US

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

In the one week since US President Barack Obama won his bid for re-election, representatives from all 50 states have filed petitions with the White House asking to secede from the United States.

Just seven days after a citizen of Louisiana asked for the state’s peaceful secession from the rest of the country, hundreds of thousands of electronic signatures from around the United States have been submitted to for review as Americans from all corners of the country ask the president to grant them amicable separation from the union.

According to the White House’s own rules on the ‘We the People’ portal of the Executive Branch’s official website, a staffer from within the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will respond in a timely manner to any petition that can garner more than 25,000 signatures. As of the morning of Nov. 14, pleads out of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee have all crossed that threshold, with petitions from the rest of the country quickly accumulating enough signatures to soon require a reply as well.

In almost every case, signees say that the time has come to do something about the state of the union.

Using bureaucratic means to “bypass the will of the people” is a complaint that 1,758 people as of this writing say is reason enough to separate Virginia from the current rule of the US in one petition; elsewhere on the site, a separate petition also calling for that state’s secession has received more than triple the signatures, with residents agreeing with an interpretation of the Declaration of Independence that decries, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”

Browsing the more than 100 petitions currently open on, it’s easy to see that those sentiments expressed by the country’s forefathers are evident with many Americans today: almost all of the petitions from each of the 50 states cite the Revolution War-era doctrine to detail the necessary of separation.

In Texas, over 97,000 signees agree that secession is necessary, especially given what’s described as a rampant mismanagement of the country’s operation by means of the “federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending.” Elsewhere in the explanation for their request to “withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government,” citizens of the Lone Star State say, “The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights,” specifically calling into question the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA). Several states have already repealed on local levels the NDAA and its provision that gives the president the authority to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or trial, and next year lawmakers in Texas are expected to weigh in on a proposal to ban that legislation and another that will outlaw the procedures regularly used by TSA agents. With more and more Texans demanding secession, though — and hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country demanding separation from the United States in other petitions — locally-binding legislation might not be enough to keep citizens from standing up and voicing their opposition off the Web.

In an editorial published this week in the Daily Caller, author Bob Smiley says that even if the demands of nearly 100,000 rebels from Texas aren’t being taken seriously in Washington, all that could very well change.

“No doubt Texas’s desire to break free is a source of amusement inside a White House that has mastered the art of belittling the opinions of its challengers, but there is one not-so-small problem here: Texas could pull it off,” Smiley writes. “Texas currently sits on one-quarter of the nation’s oil reserves and one-third of the nation’s natural gas reserves. Even more, fully 95 percent of the country receives its oil and gas courtesy of pipelines that originate within Texas. This is what one might call leverage,” he explains.

As if oil wasn’t enough reason for a civil war to start up, Smiley says there is more than just that though. He cites the Texas’ economy as building up faster than any other state’s, and writes that it is also the only one to have its own power grid. Also, of course, is the fact that historically speaking, Texas has followed through with its threats to secede twice before: once while under Mexican rule and again when it joined the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already issued a statement through his press secretary rejecting the petition to separate from the US, but tens of thousands of new signees have added their names to the plea in only the two days since he was prompted to respond. By Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was driven to issue a response after a petition aimed at “Helping the people of Tennessee” by seceding crossed the 25,000 threshold as well.

“I don’t think that’s a valid option for Tennessee,” Gov. Haslam (R) said on Tuesday, the Tennessean reports. “I don’t think we’ll be seceding.”

A spokesperson for the top official in Alabama issued a similar statement to on Tuesday, saying that “While there is frustration with the federal government, Governor Bentley believes that states can be great laboratories of change.”

As signatures pile up though, responses from state leaders and eventually the president might be the only answer that’ll address those grievances as they amount exponentially. By noontime on Wednesday,

703,326 Americans have signed their names to the petitions — a substantial figure but still less than one percent of the country’s population

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Jackson: Black Voters Deserve a Return on Election ‘Investment

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday said that President Obama’s reelection was “a great victory,” but that it would be incomplete with a reconstruction of urban America and an investment in the communities where the blacks who voted overwhelmingly for the president live.

Despite attempts at voter suppression in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, Jackson said, blacks turned out en masse to vote, enduring waits that stretched into hours in many places.

“We voted early, we voted long. Our votes won,” he said.


“What do we want? We want, we want, we want, we deserve, we deserve … a return on our investment.

“What’s good for us is good for everybody. What’s good for blacks is good for everybody,” he said. “We bled too much, we died too young, we cried too much, we prayed too long, now we want a return on our investment.”

Referring to those voter suppression efforts, he said, “these acts of meanness had unintended consequences.” Rather than keeping blacks and Latinos away from the polls, voter ID measures and the curtailing of access to the voting booths made people more determined to vote. “Suppression became stimulation and people fought back,” he said.


Jackson said blacks, who voted for Barack Obama for state senator, for U.S. Senator, and now twice as President of the United States, should demand, bargain, and march if necessary, for an end to “patterns of race discrimination, (for) our share of jobs.

Saying that automobile companies and banks got bailouts, “we’re the people who provided the votes — we want to be bailed out. We need jobs, education, healthcare now. If we can be targeted for voter registration and voter turnout, target us for reconstruction, now.

“We are the new mainstream,” Jackson said. “We are the America of shared hopes and shared dreams. We have the power, we have the votes.

“It’s time to march again. March for healthcare, march for jobs. When we march great things come our way. “

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Puerto Rico Wants to Become the 51st State of the US

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state.

The measure will require approval from the US Congress, but President Barack Obama has said he will respect the vote.

The island is currently a US territory, which uses the dollar and whose citizens travel on US passports.

But it does not return senators to the US Congress and is represented in Washington by a non-voting delegate.

Almost 80% of the island’s electorate took part in the referendum, the fourth in the past 45 years.

With almost all the votes counted, almost 54% voted to change the island’s relationship with the US.

And in reply to a second question on what future they favoured, nearly two-thirds wanted full statehood.

If Congress grants its approval, Puerto Ricans would have the right to vote in all US elections, but would also have to pay federal taxes, something at present they are excused from.

The island came under US control in 1898 when Spain lost the island at the end of the Spanish-American war.

Ties were strengthened in 1917 when Puerto Ricans became US citizens and were allowed to serve in the military.

‘No other option’

There are now almost a million more Puerto Ricans in the US than on the island.

Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, singer Jennifer Lopez and the former jazz musician Tito Puente are all of Puerto Rican descent, though all three were born in New York.

Ties between the island and the mainland are strong and many on the island considered it inevitable that a full union be requested.

A young voter in the capital San Juan, Jerome Lefebre, said: “Puerto Rico has to be a state. There is no other option.

“We’re doing okay, but we could do better. We would receive more benefits, a lot more financial help.”

But that opinion was rejected by Ramon Lopez de Azua: “Puerto Rico’s problem is not its political status.

“I think that the United States is the best country in the world, but I am Puerto Rican first.”

The island has been hit hard by the current recession—it has debts of $68bn (£42bn) and unemployment is more than 13%.

President Barack Obama, who visited the island last year, has said he will respect the will of Puerto Ricans if there is a clear majority.

Any change would require approval by the US Congress, but no territory has ever been denied a petition for admission to the States.

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Ryan Warns Obama Will Take Nation on a ‘Dangerous Path’ That Threatens ‘Judeo-Christian Western Civilization’

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Despite the bitterness of the long-running election campaign, some hot-button issues—notably religion—have largely remained off the table.

But yesterday that appeared to change, as Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a late play to shore up support among evangelical voters.

In a conference call with tens of thousands of church-goers, the Wisconsin congressman spoke in apocalyptic tones about the ‘dangerous path’ on which Barack Obama will lead the country if he is re-elected tomorrow.

He warned that the President would threaten ‘those Judeo-Christian, Western civilisation values that made us such a great nation in the first place’.

White evangelicals are among the strongest Republican supporters in the U.S., with around 80 percent expected to vote for Mitt Romney, four years after 74 per cent of them supported John McCain.

However, many in the GOP have feared that turnout may be unusually low among the group, owing to a reluctance by some to vote for the Mormon former governor of Massachusetts.

Romney has been reluctant to play up religion during the presidential race as his Mormon faith risked him being seen as an outsider to the majority of Americans at a time when he was trying to convince voters he was human too and like them.

Similarly, Obama, a Christian, has downplayed religion because it provokes conservative conspiracy theorists who are convinced he is Muslim.

In an attempt to get as many evangelicals to the polls as possible, the candidate’s running mate spoke to Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Sunday evening, in a conference call which apparently attracted tens of thousands of listeners.

The Roman Catholic Ryan spoke about his faith in more depth than he usually does, revealing he keeps a rosary on him at all time as he claimed, ‘We pray throughout the day.’

He told listeners they should vote for Romney if they were ‘worried about . . .  whether or not we’re going to go down the path the President has put us on.’

Describing that path as ‘dangerous’, Ryan added: ‘It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilisation values that made us such a great nation in the first place.’

He specifically criticised the Obama health reforms which force religious organisations to fund free contraception for their employees, saying, ‘My church is suing the federal government.

‘We should not have to sue the federal government to keep our constitutional freedoms. Imagine what he would do if he actually got re-elected. It just puts a chill down my spine.’

Ryan revealed he carries a rosary in his pocket as he said his faith ‘sustains us on a daily basis’, adding: ‘It keeps us humble, it keeps us strong, it keeps us in a great place, it gives us peace of mind.’

He paid tribute to the goodwill of strangers on the campaign trail: ‘I can’t tell you how important it is to have the prayers of the tens of thousands of people we meet across the country.

‘It’s because so many people around this country are praying for us and offering their prayers and coming up and giving us so many mementos that show they really care about this country and that they’re praying for us.’

Reed told listeners that the Faith and Freedom Coalition will have made more than 120 million contacts with voters ahead of the election, with tactics including phone calls, emails and personal visits to evangelicals in its database.

Issues of religious identity have largely stayed in the background of the election, despite a number of controversies which have raged on the sidelines of the campaign.

Romney is the first Mormon presidential candidate, a fact which some suggested could alienate Republican-leaning Protestants and Catholics.

And Obama’s relationship with his former pastor Jeremiah Wright has long been a source of contention—not to mention fringe conspiracy theories which claim that the President is secretly a Muslim.

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The Price of a Black President

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

When African-Americans go to the polls next week, they are likely to support Barack Obama at a level approaching the 95 percent share of the black vote he received in 2008. As well they should, given the symbolic exceptionalism of his presidency and the modern Republican Party’s utter disregard for economic justice, civil rights and the social safety net.

But for those who had seen in President Obama’s election the culmination of four centuries of black hopes and aspirations and the realization of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a “beloved community,” the last four years must be reckoned a disappointment. Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites—from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members—have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House.


But the triumph of “post-racial” Democratic politics has not been a triumph for African-Americans in the aggregate. It has failed to arrest the growing chasm of income and wealth inequality; to improve prospects for social and economic mobility; to halt the re-segregation of public schools and narrow the black-white achievement gap; and to prevent the Supreme Court from eroding the last vestiges of affirmative action. The once unimaginable successes of black diplomats like Colin L. PowellCondoleezza Rice and Susan E. Rice and of black chief executives like Ursula M. BurnsKenneth I. Chenault and Roger W. Ferguson Jr. cannot distract us from facts like these: 28 percent of African-Americans, and 37 percent of black children, are poor (compared with 10 percent of whites and 13 percent of white children); 13 percent of blacks are unemployed (compared with 7 percent of whites); more than 900,000 black men are in prison; blacks experienced a sharper drop in income since 2007 than any other racial group; black household wealth, which had been disproportionately concentrated in housing, has hit its lowest level in decades; blacks accounted, in 2009, for 44 percent of new H.I.V. infections.

Mr. Obama cannot, of course, be blamed for any of these facts. It’s no secret that Republican obstruction has limited his options at every turn. But it’s disturbing that so few black elites have aggressively advocated for those whom the legal scholar Derrick A. Bell called the “faces at the bottom of the well.”

But as president, Mr. Obama has had little to say on concerns specific to blacks.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama weighed in after the prominent black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. The president said the police had “acted stupidly,” was criticized for rushing to judgment, and was mocked when he invited Dr. Gates and the arresting officer to chat over beers at the White House. It wasn’t until earlier this year that Mr. Obama spoke as forcefully on a civil rights matter—the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida—saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Instead of urging Mr. Obama to be more outspoken on black issues, black elites parrot campaign talking points. They dutifully praise important but minor accomplishments—the settlement of a longstanding class-action lawsuit by black farmers; increased funds for black colleges; the reduction (but not elimination) of the disparities in sentences for possession of crack and powder cocaine—while setting aside their critical acumen.

It wasn’t always so. Though Bill Clinton was wildly popular among blacks, black intellectuals fiercely debated affirmative action, mass incarceration, welfare reform and racial reconciliation during his presidency. In 2001, the Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree called the surge in the inmate population “shocking and regrettable” and found it “shameful” that Mr. Clinton “didn’t come out and take a more positive and symbolic approach to the issue of reparations for slavery.” But Mr. Ogletree, a mentor of Mr. Obama’s, now finds “puzzling the idea that a president who happens to be black has to focus on black issues.”

Black politicians, too, have held their fire. “With 14 percent unemployment if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House,” Representative Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told The Root last month. “The president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”

Some argue that de-emphasizing race—and moving to a “colorblind” politics—is an inevitable and beneficial byproduct of societal change. But this ideal is a myth, even if it’s nice to hear. As Frederick Douglass observed, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Mr. Obama deserves the electoral support—but not the uncritical adulation—of African-Americans. If re-elected he might surprise us by explicitly emphasizing economic and racial justice and advocating “targeted universalism”—job-training and housing programs that are open to all, but are concentrated in low-income, minority communities. He would have to do this in the face of fiscal crisis and poisonous partisanship.

To place policy above rhetoric is not to ask what the first black president is doing for blacks; rather, it is to ask what a Democratic president is doing for the most loyal Democratic constituency—who happen to be African-Americans, and who happen to be in dire need of help. Sadly, when it comes to the Obama presidency and black America, symbols and substance have too often been assumed to be one and the same.

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Analysis: Could Romney Pass Immigration Reform in His First Year?

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

In a night of heated exchanges at the second presidential debate, a question about immigration thrust the issue into the limelight for the first time in the debate season.

The candidates largely stuck to their talking points. For Mitt Romney, that meant reiterating that he wouldn’t round up millions of people for deportations. President Obama, meanwhile, spoke of wanting a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

After calling out the president on his failure to deliver immigration reform in his first term, Romney added, “I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year.”

So what would it take for Romney to actually pass an immigration reform bill during his inaugural year? {snip}

1. A Consensus on What Constitutes Reform

Just like any sweeping legislative package, immigration reform is a different thing to different people. The reform plan proposed by George W. Bush (and defeated in 2007), would have created a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented people in the U.S.

President Obama considers such a pathway part of comprehensive reform. But Romney has repeatedly said he does not support amnesty, which, in a historical context going back to the Reagan years, has been understood as a large-scale legalization program.

So before a discussion about immigration reform can get very far, Romney has to be clear about what he would do with the 12 million undocumented people in this country, if not offer them “amnesty” or some other form of citizenship.

2. Cooperation from Congress

You may get your own jet and entourage, but being president comes with a few limitations, namely having to work with a bipartisan Congress to get legislation passed. And as President Obama can tell you after the Obamacare saga, tackling a giant issue with one big reform bill can make for some rugged negotiating and grumpy people on both sides of the aisle.


3. The Economy Would Need to Get Better

Whether or not you believe economic growth is necessary for a reform bill to pass, it seems to be a requirement for some conservatives.

Take Grover Norquist, for example: Last week, he spoke at a conference about the need to encourage immigration to strengthen our economy and the fabric of our society. In an interview with ABC/Univision after the speech, however, he stressed that the poor economic conditions over the past four years have made it impossible to have a serious dialogue about immigration reform.

The logic: With unemployment rates that have hit 10 percent during the past four years, elected officials aren’t willing to spend political capital on the legalization of 12 million people, when constituents are worried about the economy and jobs.

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Chicago Store-Owner Labeled ‘Racist’ for Anti-Obama Business Sign

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

An outspoken and controversial shopkeeper who has been a fixture in Lincoln Square for the past dozen years has been targeted by a vandal.

75-year-old Sam Wolfson owns String a Strand bead shop.

His political leanings—anti-Obama—are posted on his store window.

Like his handwritten signs that say: “Romney, if you want to be president, you have to say this: ‘If I’m elected, I will not bow down to the king of Saudi Arabia” and “Obama, I built this business working 7 days a week, you didn’t.”

“I walked in,” he said. “I was coming to work and in lipstick it had a sign, ‘Racist.’ I’m not a racist. My wife is Spanish. Come on.”

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