It is finished

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Late in the midnight hour, the President addressed the nation basking in the glow of a landmark political triumph over right-wing massive resistance to health care reform. His understated demeanor and measured words belied the enormity of this breakthrough.

Ted Kennedy would be so proud that his dream of universal health care is on the path to reality. His instinct that Barack Obama was the president we needed was vindicated in last night’s roll call. At the president’s side in this fight was the most effective Speaker of the House in living memory, Nancy Pelosi.   She refused to let this effort die and she helped revive the push for reform the pundits thought dead.

Nobody but Barack Obama could have pulled off this legislative victory.  Behind the genial exterior and megawatt smile is a disciplined, ruthless, pragmatic pol equipped with a flawless mastery of policy minutia.

The president’s  politically expedient compromises with the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies greased the skids of the legislative process and ultimately resulted in the enactment of a recycled package of Republican proposals from the last health care showdown 16 years ago that provide at last a framework for health insurance for most Americans.

While others focused on progressive goals like covering everyone, bringing down health care costs and providing competition, Obama focused on getting a passable bill that partially addressed those goals. This President is interested only in the art of the possible.  Ideology is secondary.

Obama won and left the Republicans sputtering unintelligible nonsense for over a year.  They showed their arses last night, every flat hairy butt cheek. They used every arrow in their quiver to defeat reform: fear, deception, xenophobia, and racism.  They still lost.

Over the course of the next few years, 32 million Americans will finally gain access to health insurance they should have had all along. It is the most expensive in the industrialized world and doesn’t cover what it should, but it is better than nothing at all. 

My hat is off to the Commander-in-chief for this triumph over unadulterated Republican evil.

I still want a public option.

Obama in the Lions Den

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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.

Skeptical Brotha to Martha Coakley: Thanks, Byotch

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Her Imperial Majesty Queen Martha I, Empress of Massachusetts

Your Imperial Majesty,

On behalf of the 45,000 Americans without health insurance who may die this year because you sat on a 30 point lead. Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of the dozens of unemployed men I pass on the way to work everyday that viewed Ted Kennedy as a hero and needed another one to look out for the rights of unemployed workers. Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of those who revered Teddy Kennedy as a progressive champion and are thankful to God for his 47 years of service. Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of the Kennedy Family—particularly Vickie and Teddy Jr. who deferred campaigns of their own and instead wasted their time raising money for you and cutting television ads on your behalf.  Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of all the judges Barack Obama could have appointed to reverse the right wing B.S. that reigns supreme in the federal courts had you won.   Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of the struggling taxpayers at the mercy of the banks and credit card companies that could use a consumer protection agency that will never materialize because you were to %*& # busy vacationing in the middle of a special election campaign.  Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of the struggling homeowners who were targeted by banks and mortgage companies as suckers to saddle with predatory loans.  Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of those sickened by the smiles you put on the faces of racist miscreants like Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, and Rush Limbaugh for making their dreams of total Republican obstruction come true.  Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of those who saw through Scott Brown’s campaign of fear and ignorance because they know that mindless obstruction is no substitute for creating jobs, and standing strong for peace and economic justice.  Thanks, Byotch.

On behalf of those who took the time to vote for your imperial candidacy even though you couldn’t be bothered to actually come up with a coherent campaign theme and tell people who you were and what you stood for.  Thanks, Byotch.

Sincerely Pissed,

Skeptical Brotha

Demonizing Barack: The enduring racist double standard

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(Obama sets the record straight on Race, Religion, and his Pastor)

Having absorbed all of the calumny, reprobation, and histrionics I can stand regarding Barack Obama, Trinity United Church of Christ and its former Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, I can be silent no more.

Having failed to make the manufactured Farrakhan smear stick, Obama’s tormentors have succeeded in distorting Jeremiah Wright into his horrifyingly racist doppelganger.

First, let me say that Barack Obama’s “denunciation” of some of Dr. Wright’s justifiable indignation about America’s hypocrisy regarding race, war, and Hillary Clinton, left a bad taste in my mouth, a very bad taste indeed.

Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, has labored mightily to run a campaign which focuses on that which unites rather than that which divides because it is a reflection of the way he has lived his life and made his career as an organizer, lawyer, state legislator, senator, and presidential candidate. He hasn’t always met that goal. His unequivocal support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of innocent Lebanese civilians in 2006 and his failure to adequately address the Clinton campaign’s deliberate and repeated attempts to racially polarize Democrats reflect his craven accommodations to America’s racial hypocrisy.

A sistah named Cassandra from Michigan emailed me saying, “For the first time I don’t care whether or not he wins if he must shed his spirituality and dilute his soul to neutralize the stench and sting of truth that so many White Americans refuse to acknowledge…The hypocrisy and denial of how racism is destroying the integrity of working class and poor American blacks, whites, Latinos, Arabs and Asians is the seam that is dividing and will eventually shred the Democratic Party.”

Americans talk a good game, but in the end, as Jesse Jackson before him, he is being held to a racist double standard that previous white Presidents and Presidential Candidates were not held too.

Barack Obama’s religious affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christ is an affirmation of his own bi-racial heritage as the son of a Kenyan and white Kansan. To say that his membership in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination created in 1957 from the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Reform Church is somehow suspect or racist is both ludicrous and false.

Trinity United Church of Christ is both integrated and welcoming of all people-including gays and lesbians. When Hillary Clinton’s denomination, the United Methodist Church, sent conflicting signals over the issue of homosexuality and restricting the role of gay clergy and the ability of gay congregants to have their unions blessed in the Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ went in the opposite direction in affirming its covenant with gay clergy and parishioners. Years before then, Wright established an AIDS ministry and a singles ministry for gay and lesbian congregants.

Lisa Miller, writing in Newsweek said, “As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.”

“At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians—a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.”

Given the hatred and venom spewed forth in too many black pulpits toward black gays and lesbians, Dr. Wright stands out as enlightened, inclusive, and welcoming. But he would have to be in order to grow the church from 80 to 8000 members in three decades. Dr. Wright is the opposite from the bitter, angry, and bigoted portrait the corporate media has fashioned.

Come on, people. Do you really believe that a “black racist” would choose a 90% white denomination in which to plant his flag or are you just some kind of a damn moron engaged in a typical form of racist projection. I defy anyone to name one integrated, gay-friendly, mainline, protestant, predominately African American congregation you’ve ever stepped foot in where you’ve experienced hatred. I know damn well that nobody can because there is no such thing. Are you seriously scared of a moderate, bi-racial politician who bends over backwards to be inclusive, mainstream and non-threatening? Please.

Don’t fall for the right-wing attack campaign launched by Fox News and its corporate mimics.

Obama’s rise to prominence has been swift but it is not unlike that of another little known state politician who rose to prominence over thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter. Carter, you’ll recall was a born-again Baptist layman who also made common cause with all people regardless of race, religion, or background in order to heal the nation after Watergate. During the first months of his presidency in 1977, his home congregation, the Plains Baptist Church, of Plains, GA, forced out Pastor Bruce Edwards, because he sought, with the support of the President, to integrate the church.

During the waning days of the Presidential campaign, a black minister and “publicity seeker,” Rev. Clennon King, challenged the official policy of the church forbidding “Negroes and other civil rights agitators,” from membership. I find no record of the firestorm of criticism we see regarding Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Nobody called on him to resign his membership or denounce the racially prejudiced people with whom he had lived his entire life.

Plotting a middle ground, the church, following Carter’s lead, denied Rev. King membership. The final straw, however, came after Pastor Edwards and his wife adopted a half-Hawaiian child. According to the President’s brother Billy, it was bad enough that the pastor was a liberal integrationist, but adopting the “tan-skinned” child was “99 per cent of the preacher’s problem,” wrote Margaret Montagno in Newsweek.

The Plains Baptist Church subsequently changed its policy in word, but not in deed. Nicholas King, writing in the New Republic said, “The ‘opening’ of the Plains Baptist Church was achieved last fall under the leadership of the Carter family…But there was opposition to the opening from the church’s old guard, and the only black face in the congregation the Sunday Jimmy Carter first returned to Plains as President belonged to a Secret Service man.” After he left the presidency, Jimmy Carter left the church and joined with former Plains Baptist Church members at Maranatha Baptist Church. The small congregation of 135 opens its doors to 12,000 visitors a year to hear the President teach Sunday School. A few years ago, Carter also left the hopelessly right-wing Southern Baptist Convention.

According to the Los Angeles Times, during the 1980 presidential campaign, in the midst of a conservative tide taking over the Southern Baptist Convention, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, proclaimed, “God almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” Again, nothing was heard from the media calling on President Carter to renounce the convention of which he was a member or for then Governor Ronald Reagan, who had addressed the same gathering of evangelicals in Dallas that same day to renounce the divisive and anti-Semitic statement of a right-wing supporter. The Washington Post covered the story on page F10 on September 26, 1980. The New York Times covered the story on three occasions and A 18 was the closet it came.

Lastly, can anybody recount for me the media firestorm over Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Refresh my memory about how many times the clip of the Religious Broadcaster and Baptist Minister advocating the assassination of the president of Venezuela, a supplier of oil to the United States, was run on Fox News and the rest of the corporate media in denunciation of Giuliani. How many times did they run the clip of Robertson agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the proper blame for 9/11 on abortions and gays and lesbians in a manner meant to accuse Giuliani of intolerance?

Today, nothing is materially different for the Hawaiian bred Barack Obama than it was for the half-Hawaiian son of Jimmy Carter’s Pastor. America, like Plains Baptist Church, has the same problem and like Jeremiah Wright has pointed out eloquently for thirty-six years as Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, race is 99 per cent of it.

Pastor Wright leaves Obama campaign

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Hat Tip: by Alex Johnston, MSNBC

 

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., condemned racially charged sermons by his former pastor Friday and urged Americans not to reject his presidential campaign because of “guilt by association.”

Obama’s campaign announced that the minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., had left its spiritual advisory committee after videotapes of his sermons again ignited fierce debate in news accounts and political blogs.

Obama did not clarify whether Wright volunteered to leave his African American Religious Leadership Committee, a loose group of supporters associated with the campaign, or whether the campaign asked him to leave.

“I think there was recognition that he’s obviously on the verge of retirement, [that] he’s taking a sabbatatical and that it was important for him to step out of the spotlight in this situation,” Obama said.

Wright was the latest in a series of advisers to Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who have stepped aside as supporters of both candidates trade racially charged accusations.

Obama rejects comments
Obama spoke warmly of Wright, who retired last month as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Wright is a man “I’ve known for 17 years, [who] helped bring me to Jesus, helped bring me to church,” he said.

“I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man,” Obama said. “He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country.

“That’s the man I know,” Obama said. “That’s the man who was the pastor of this church.”

But Obama acknowledged that “there’s no doubt this is going to be used as political fodder, as it has been in the past.”

“What I hope is [that] what the American people will trust is what I believe,” he said, that “my values, my ideas, what I’ve spoke about in terms of bringing the country together will override a guilt by association.”

But the sermons, at least one of which was delivered long before Wright retired last month, revived uncomfortable questions about Obama’s ties to the minister, whom conservative critics have accused of advocating black separatism.

A videotape of one sermon captures Wright using a harsh racial epithet to argue that Clinton could not understand the struggles of African Americans.

“Barack knows what it means, living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said on Christmas Day of last year. “Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a [N-word]!”

In another sermon, delivered five days after the 9/11 attacks, Wright seems to imply that the United States had brought the terrorist violence on itself.

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York, and we never batted an eye,” Wright says. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is brought right back in our own front yards.”

In a later sermon, Wright revisits the theme, declaring: “No, no, no, not God bless America — God damn America!”

Obama: I didn’t hear inflammatory sermons
Obama took the title of his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope,” from a sermon by Wright, who baptized him and officiated at his wedding. He has called Wright “a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible.”

In his remarks on MSNBC, Obama expanded on a brief posting that was made under his name earlier Friday afternoon on the Huffington Post Web site.

“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” the posting said, adding that over the years, “Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life.

“In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.”

Obama wrote that he had known of similar statements by Wright over the years, which he strongly condemned. He wrote that he chose to remain in the church because “Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community.”

Clinton adviser gives Obama a pass
There was no formal reaction from the Clinton campaign, but Lanny Davis, a senior adviser, said he took Obama at his word.

“I give Senator Obama completely — completely — the benefit of the doubt that he has nothing to do with this bigotry that’s being spewed forth by this man,” Davis said on MSNBC’s “Tucker.” “For me, that’s all he has to say.

“I think we should stop this guilt-by-association thing, because some of our supporters say stupid things,” Davis said.

But the videos created a firestorm among political observers and commentators.

“Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright’s church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views,” Wall Street Journal columnist Ron Kessler, publisher of the conservative Web site NewsMax.com, wrote Friday.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the Web site of the conservative magazine National Review, wrote Friday that “now we know he’s contributed money to, voluntarily listened to, and publicly defended a cleric who peddles racial warfare.”

Others saw an attempt to “smear” Obama.

“How come righteous Republicans are rarely asked about the views of their spiritual advisers? Or why wasn’t George W. Bush (and the presidents preceding him) forced to distance himself from the anti-semitic comments of Billy Graham?” Ari Berman wrote Friday on the Web site of the liberal magazine The Nation, for which he is a contributing writer.

MSNBC cancels Tucker Carlson

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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.

Giuliani’s Christmas Ad (Revised)

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Copying front runner Mike Huckabee and sinking in national polls like a stone, a desperate Rudy Giuliani came out with his own holiday ad to deceive and reassure gullible Republicans.   

Rudy: There a many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for peace with strength, secure borders, a government that spends less than it takes in, lower taxes for our business and families, and I really hope that all the presidential candidates can just get along.  

Santa:  Ho, Ho, Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one. 

Rudy:   Can’t have everything. I’m Rudy Giuliani and I approved this message. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.   

This is the parody ad I would have him release.  

Rudy:  There are many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for another 9/11 to scare the American people into voting for me, a government that spies on its own people, huge tax loopholes for the rich, and I really hope that before Bernie Kerik goes to jail, his mob friends will help me rub out the smug prick with perfect hair, Mitt Romney. 

Judi, the social climbing homewrecker: I wanna be First Lady and America’s Queen. 

Black Santa:  Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one.  

Rudy:  You black bastard, I’ll teach you to never say everything that pops into your head to a white woman.

Rudy’s security team shoots Santa in the back 41 times and calls it justifiable homicide because Black Santa “fit the description.” 

Rudy:  I’m Rudy Giuliani and I enthusiastically approved this gross display of racist police state fascism.  Merry Christmas. Seig Heil.