Addressing Jobs

Standard

The President’s address introducing his jobs bill was a masterstroke of simplicity and cunning I’ve come to expect from this White House.  If Hill Republicans are serious about job creation, they will pass the Obama jobs package which is heavy on payroll tax cuts and tax credits for small business—an approach to job creation that no Republican can object to philosophically. If they refuse they reveal themselves as charlatans hell bent on sabotaging our nation’s economy for political advantage in 2012, no matter what the cost. Either way, Obama wins.

Obama in the Lions Den

Standard

Sorry, y’all.  I am one of the poor people that doesn’t have internet access at home and I messed around and got snowed in.   But if y’all ain’t seen this nearly hour and half long exchange with the President and the House Republicans, you really need to.  It is one thing to know the president is brilliant, it is quite another to see it in real time.  They knew the brotha was coming and they knew his purpose was to engage them in serious dialogue. They brought less than nothing to the table.  These are the fools the good people of Massachusetts sought to empower through the election of Scott Brown.  The Republicans are revealed here in all their ostentatious glory as the ignorant, obstinate, and fact challenged dilettantes that they are.  The president is nothing short of amazing.  This is the president that I voted for.

We’re in Hell

Standard


I remember it like it was yesterday.  In the fall of 1994, I was an intern for the North Carolina Democratic Party. The 1994 elections were a watershed of fear, racist projection, and ignorance. The election night parties were full of tears and slack jaws as damn near everyone went down.  I went home with my tail between my legs.

Devastated by the previous evening’s events and looking for solace I stepped into the HBCU counseling center office of my play mom, Ms. Chisholm.  A South Carolina native, she made everyone feel like family but wasn’t a stereotypical, syrupy sweet, southern Mom. She looked up and saw the newspapers I had collected announcing the Republican sweep and said gravely, “we’re in Hell.”

This week has felt like that as a veil of ignorance and fear descended over Washington in the wake of Scott Brown’s election to the United States Senate in Massachusetts.  A wake up call to be sure, it provoked some interesting reactions and farcical moments.   As the president finally located his stones and called for a broad tax on the predatory banks to recoup the trillions in bailout largess they extorted from the U.S. Treasury, the Supreme Court reversed a century of precedent and plunged the United States back into the Gilded Age of Robber Barons and monopolistic trusts.

President Obama only had a year-long window to make any kind of change and he squandered it by trying to compromise with the Republicans, the banks, and the insurance companies.  Everything from here on out will be filibustered unless Harry Reid uses reconciliation.  But even that handy little tool will be useless with the new toy the Supreme Court has given our corporate overlords.

Campaign Finance Reform, an issue I care deeply about but never discuss was front and center yesterday as the Supreme Court struck down any limits on corporate independent expenditure campaigns on free speech grounds.  They now have the power to use their general treasuries and their billions in profits to buy every friendly politician in sight or mount saturation level campaigns targeted at their political enemies.

Scared by the browning of America and the Presidency of Barack Obama, the Supreme Court finally pulled the trigger on fascism, shredded the constitution under the guise of interpreting it, and effectively destroyed our Democracy.  The Republicans will finally be able to rely on an endless tsunami of cash to fund their campaigns and elections will be nothing more than contests to see who can most effectively whore out to the corporations.

I refuse to participate in, to borrow a phrase from Keith Olbermann, a “farcical perversion.” I will finish this election season out and work for the candidates I have committed to but this is Skeptical Brotha’s last campaign.  I’m done.  I am going to do what I should have done years ago and finally learn Spanish and French.  I am going to leave this country and go somewhere that doesn’t elevate the rights of corporations over the rights of people.  I love my Momma.  I love my Daddy.  I love my family, but I refuse to stay here and be a slave on this corporate plantation.

Condi Busts a Move

Standard

Condoleezza Rice has made a series of overtures in recent weeks toward the wingnut establishment which indicate that she is surreptitiously campaigning to be named as John McCain’s running mate. Now that her time as Bush’s concubine and plantation Negress is drawing to a close, she is busting a move toward conservative apostate John McCain. Her fealty toward Bush no longer has the cachet it once did and she is looking to replace one massuh with another.

Content and empowered as Bush’s Foreign Minstrel and the black face of American Imperialism and White Supremacy, Condi now sees it in her best interests to contest for the Vice Presidency at this time. The GOP consensus is that Barack Obama has a lock on the Democratic nomination, so the time is right for Condoleezza Rice. I have written of this possibility in the past and I clearly wasn’t too far off the mark.This has been out there for awhile but I felt that today is the perfect slow news day to discuss it. Have at it

MSNBC cancels Tucker Carlson

Standard

Word came today that Tucker Carlson’s show on MSNBC has been canceled. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus. No word or term adequately describes how much I loathe Tucker Carlson. He reminds me of the grade school classmates that I despised as a child. Their privilege and disdain of Negroes was some kind of a birthright that they wore proudly on angelic faces that showed me nothing but expressions of contempt.

I rarely call adults significantly older than me by their first names. Living in the south for more than 15 years has intensified that trait. I use Ms. or Mrs. or slap Mr. or Ms. in front of a first name. I can recall going home to the Midwest once and going to the grocery store my semi-retired grandma worked in as a demo-lady and came across some teenage boy calling her by her first name. It was like fingernails on a chalk-board. I almost lost it before grandma shooed him away. Mama confessed that she didn’t like children in the store calling her by her first name, but had resigned herself to that Midwestern habit.

I told grandma that I considered it HIGHLY disrespectful and hoped that she would say something. It was all I could do at the time to keep it together and not go off on the kid. Nothin’ makes me see red quicker than oblivious or deliberate disrespect. All of that brings me to Tucker Carlson, the subject of this post. He reminds me of that boy in the grocery store: disrespectful and oblivious.

Tucker Carlson is the kind of smug prick that causes sweet, Christian ladies like my grandma to bake up sumptuous batches of homemade cookies laced with rat poison and offer it to him with honeysuckled sweetness. Tucker ain’t got no home training and is contemptuous and disrespectful of any and everything black, or anything which could level the playing field. In short, he is addicted to white supremacist notions of superiority and is in desperate need of an intervention.

I know what you’re thinking, “Skeptical Brotha, that’s kinda strong isn’t it?” Sadly, no, Carlson is an unrepentant critic of Affirmative Action, Black politicians, Democrats, or anybody else more liberal than a movement conservative with an affinity for the confederacy.

Four years ago he asked Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton the following question about the University of Michigan case, “At the heart of one of these cases is a story of a woman named Jennifer Gratz. She applied to the University of Michigan. She had a 3.8 grade point average and she didn’t get in, partly because she was white. Now if your daughter was applying to college and she didn’t get in part because she was black, meaning her race counted against her, I think you would call that what it is, it’s racism. And I think you’d call it that. Why not call it that here?”

Where to begin? First, Tucker

 

Second, you should discard these antiquated and illogical fallicies about Affirmative Action. He wouldn’t know what was fair if it came up and bit him. It is supremely insulting that anybody could actually say with a straight face that stealing someone’s labor for two centuries and actively discriminating against them for another 75 years doesn’t merit some form of recompense. It’s completely absurd.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, before it was denatured and de-fanged with the addition of a stable of right-wing Handkerchief Heads, wrote, “Discriminatory actions by individuals and organizations are not only pervasive, occurring in every sector of society, but also cumulative with effects limited neither to the time nor the particular structural area in which they occur. This process of discrimination, therefore, extends across generations, across organizations, and across social structures in self-reinforcing cycles, passing the disadvantages incurred by one generation in one area to future generations in many related areas.”

“These interrelated components of the discriminatory process share one basic result: the persistent gaps seen in the status of women and minorities relative to that of white males. These unequal results themselves have real consequences.”

Tucker Carlson fails to recognize the context of America’s persistent inequality and fixates on the fiction of “reverse discrimination” to the exclusion of the routine “every day” racism which genuflects to white privilege and grants him two shows on two different networks to disseminate his ignorance to an unsuspecting public.

Lastly, Tucker has a rather odd fascination with the United Church of Christ-or rather Barack Obama’s church. It seems that Obama’s membership in a mainline protestant denomination is troubling to the Episcopalian Carlson. Senator Obama himself has said, “Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect. …Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement.” He added, “So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help.”

His attacks on Obama’s “separatist” faith and the black church are tinged with the acceptable racism of snarky disdain and contempt I felt from my white peers many moons ago. Coupled with the right-wing inspired Muslim smear and fear bomb, they are a potent cocktail too strong for the average member of the white working class and bedrock of the GOP coalition.

Thanks be to God that the preppy klansman no longer has two mainstream media perches from which to spew his racist condescension and religious bigotry. I know Grandma is just as pleased as I am. Perhaps now that MSNBC has finally given Tucker the boot, they can find a woman or person of color ” to diversify their all white-male line up.

Grandpa McCain’s chick on the side

Standard

WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain’s confidence in his ability to distinguish personal friendships from compromising connections was at the center of questions advisers raised about Ms. Iseman.

The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.

Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”

That February, Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.

A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.

In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.

Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

Mr. Weaver added that the brief conversation was only about “her conduct and what she allegedly had told people, which made its way back to us.” He declined to elaborate.

It is not clear what effect the warnings had; the associates said their concerns receded in the heat of the campaign.

Ms. Iseman acknowledged meeting with Mr. Weaver, but disputed his account.

“I never discussed with him alleged things I had ‘told people,’ that had made their way ‘back to’ him,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She said she never received special treatment from Mr. McCain’s office.

Mr. McCain said that the relationship was not romantic and that he never showed favoritism to Ms. Iseman or her clients. “I have never betrayed the public trust by doing anything like that,” he said. He made the statements in a call to Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, to complain about the paper’s inquiries.

The senator declined repeated interview requests, beginning in December. He also would not comment about the assertions that he had been confronted about Ms. Iseman, Mr. Black said Wednesday.

Mr. Davis and Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s top strategists in both of his presidential campaigns, disputed accounts from the former associates and aides and said they did not discuss Ms. Iseman with the senator or colleagues.

“I never had any good reason to think that the relationship was anything other than professional, a friendly professional relationship,” Mr. Salter said in an interview.

He and Mr. Davis also said Mr. McCain had frequently denied requests from Ms. Iseman and the companies she represented. In 2006, Mr. McCain sought to break up cable subscription packages, which some of her clients opposed. And his proposals for satellite distribution of local television programs fell short of her clients’ hopes.

The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman’s clients only when their positions hewed to his principles

A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain wrote letters in 1998 and 1999 to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to uphold marketing agreements allowing a television company to control two stations in the same city, a crucial issue for Glencairn Ltd., one of Ms. Iseman’s clients. He introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. And he twice tried to advance legislation that would permit a company to control television stations in overlapping markets, an important issue for Paxson.

In late 1999, Ms. Iseman asked Mr. McCain’s staff to send a letter to the commission to help Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, on another matter. Mr. Paxson was impatient for F.C.C. approval of a television deal, and Ms. Iseman acknowledged in an e-mail message to The Times that she had sent to Mr. McCain’s staff information for drafting a letter urging a swift decision.

Mr. McCain complied. He sent two letters to the commission, drawing a rare rebuke for interference from its chairman. In an embarrassing turn for the campaign, news reports invoked the Keating scandal, once again raising questions about intervening for a patron.

Mr. McCain’s aides released all of his letters to the F.C.C. to dispel accusations of favoritism, and aides said the campaign had properly accounted for four trips on the Paxson plane. But the campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain’s advisers say he was not required to disclose the flight, but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Recalling the Paxson episode in his memoir, Mr. McCain said he was merely trying to push along a slow-moving bureaucracy, but added that he was not surprised by the criticism given his history.

“Any hint that I might have acted to reward a supporter,” he wrote, “would be taken as an egregious act of hypocrisy.”

Statement by McCain

Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign issued the following statement Wednesday night:

“It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

“Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.”

Barack Obama, a proxy for racial equality

Standard

 

Barack Obama is a proxy for some people for the conversation about race that they have no courage or inclination to have.  At best, he is a denatured Negro and political centrist acceptably black and mainstream to the white power structure chiefly because of his moderate Senate record and because he refused to discuss the incendiary, racial polarization games of Bill Clinton. After sweeping 13 states from coast to coast and running up 7,369,798 votes, 41% of white voters, and 48% of white males, some pundits, like Juan Williams, are still calling Obama, “the black candidate,” a charge I find both ludicrous and offensive.  

What’s the matter Juan, Fox News looking to replace you with a more rabid right wing Uncle Tom?  Wasn’t your recent softball interview with Dubya enough to prove your fealty to the dark side? Somebody else got their eyes on your prized perch of televised Negro servitude?   

All last year, I mined the depths of my ambivalence for Barack Obama, and exposed and explored his politically expedient positioning for this White House bid.  I was brutally honest and as fair as I knew how to be.  The crux of my criticisms, in a nutshell, was his departures from the consensus of black opinion regarding slave reparations, voting to confirm Condoleezza Rice, and voting for tort reform and free trade-which seems like slavery to those ensnared by it.   He is most certainly not “the Black Candidate” and Black voters, not known for reading the fine print, know little about that record.

Instead, Black voters support Barack Obama because of the extraordinary marketing campaign being run by his team and the compelling power of surrogates like his wife Michelle and Oprah Winfrey.   It also didn’t hurt that Clinton surrogates tried to smear Obama with a criminal label and the epithet of “Black Candidate” like Bill Clinton and so many others have tried to do. The brotha makes us proud and lets us hold our heads up high for a change.  

Truthfully, this is as good as it gets.  We won’t have a chance like this again for some time-if ever, we know that, and we’ve fallen in line.  The power structure has allowed this brotha to compete as long as he is clear on a few ground rules:  no material changes will be made to the racist global economic order, Africa will not be liberated from its economic dependence on the World Bank and the IMF, and incremental changes in domestic economic institutions like the health care system will be permitted within certain limits.  

Race and the deleterious effects of institutionalized racism are not on the white power structure’s agenda of sanctioned items for the next President because his very election will be misinterpreted to mean that this nation has moved past race.  It will be up to us to put it on the agenda where it belongs until it is properly dealt with.  We’ve got to be realistic as a community.  A candidate who risks political suicide by having a truthful discussion about race will never be the progressive champion we envision without pressure.

While not hostile to black interests per se, Obama will probably be less than helpful in implementing a “black agenda,” as defined by the esteemed Black Agenda Report.  A President Obama will need to be treated like any other president and held to a high standard by the black community.  

Most of us are hopeful that the example of a black man as President will change things and change people in positive ways.    I am sure that it will but I am less sure that the positive change will be lasting or that he will be able to implement a transformative agenda.   Tom Bradley was Mayor of Los Angeles for twenty years, a mentor to good brothas like Tavis Smiley, and still gangs and drugs are prevalent in our community.  

Ten years ago, Gary Orfield, a professor of Education at UCLA, speaking on a panel with Michael Eric Dyson in Dyson’s Book “Debating Race,” said, “There are tremendous inequities in our society today, [measured] by race and by poverty.  They’re growing. We have the most unequal distribution of income and opportunity of any major democracy.  In the mid 1960’s and 70’s we developed a set of policies to try to make that work better.  We’re now dismantling them on a very large scale under the leadership of a Supreme Court that was constructed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.”   

“We do not have an alternate plan.  We think it will just work out automatically, and it won’t.  And we have to face up to that.   We have not cured the problems of our history.  We have not achieved equality for even one day, in terms of outcomes in this society.  We can’t deny that, and we have to try to resolve it.  And we have to resolve it, those of us who are white, before we become the minority, and minority rights become not just a theory but something we have to worry about also.”   

Nothing has changed under this President Bush.  His malevolent agenda has made things even worse than those that came before. This week, speaking to my Grandma, I reminded her to caucus this weekend for Barack Obama.  During the course of the conversation, Mama told me that she went to a mall in my Midwestern hometown to have her blood pressure checked.  An older white man from the Carolinas checked her pressure and then broke down crying asking Mama for her forgiveness for all whites had done to our people.  

I was speechless.   

While confession is good for the soul, I don’t know how good that confession really was for Mama.  She had the conversation about race that I wish we all could have but it lacked any discussion of remuneration. I would have preferred that she’d been paid what she was worth as a nurse for 37 years at a Veterans Administration hospital.  

Mama never did make the top pay grade after all that time, a fact I found out when I worked as a nursing assistant at her hospital during college. She would be getting more in retirement now if she had and could rest a little easier. Rhetoric about hope aside, which we desperately need, we still need to get down to brass tacks about the inequity in this society.    

Progressives are being drowned out by opportunistic handkerchief heads like Juan Williams who know damn better. They undermine the consensus of opinion in the black community and make it difficult for savvy and pragmatic politicians like Barack Obama to advance by pushing a progressive agenda.  I have been clear that I don’t like the accommodations Obama made to get to this point, but I realize that his candidacy would be impossible without them.   

The tragedy of our system is that corporate accommodation is mandatory for political advancement and I remain hopeful that the inspiration Obama provides to young brothas and sistahs will mitigate the damage our plutocracy inflicts on their dreams and aspirations for the future.