Addressing Jobs

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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.

Incremental Change I Can Believe In

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As the nation sits on the precipice of default and worldwide Depression, my frustration with progressives has turned from annoyance to blind rage.  The delusional fantasy that Barack Obama can wave a magic wand, part the Red Sea, and create progressive change with the stroke of a pen, just won’t die.  And it frustrates the hell out of me.  I understand the mindset intimately because I was there.  This presidency is a unique moment in American history and it has fueled the idealism of the American people. That’s a good thing.  However, it has also unleashed a tsunami of unrealistic expectations.  

Our system of government is designed to frustrate reform and change, especially progressive change. Whatever change we manage to get is ALWAYS incremental and a foundation that can be built upon. I thought that was widely understood.  I was wrong.

Anybody who hasn’t been under a rock for the last few weeks understands that there is no reasoning with the Republicans on Capitol Hill or anywhere else.  David Brooks said it best:

… the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative. The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

…If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.

And they will be right.

Given the ruinous catastrophe that the country faces, I find it maddening that some progressives think that the president is going to be able to achieve anything worthwhile as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives.  Didn’t we learn this lesson 16 years ago when Bill Clinton was president? After Clinton’s re-election the GOP doubled down on the crazy.  Bill Clinton was immensely flattered to be considered the first black president and the Republicans resolved that any white male that would cop to that should be treated like a nigger. That’s what the humiliation of impeachment was ultimately about and they haven’t changed. The thin veneer of solidarity with African Americans and other people of color displayed by our party leaders renders the Right-Wing constitutionally incapable of accepting any Democratic President’s legitimacy.

Thirteen years later, the president who saved us from Depression, secured comprehensive health reform, and reversed DADT without embarrassing his wife, his family, and the nation with sordid details of oval office fellatio, can’t seem to do anything right for the people who vigorously defended the philanderer-in-chief who got all of that progressive policy wrong in addition to weakening the social safety net and deregulating the banks that speculated us into the current predicament.  In the African American community, there is an aphorism that we are taught as children: We have to be twice as good to get half as much.  True to form, Barack Obama is twice as good as Bill Clinton ever was and doesn’t even get half the credit.

I’m tired of the cacophony of criticism from the firebagger caucus that President Obama is somehow defective.  He’s the most effective president on domestic policy since LBJ. Unlike Charlie Sheen, Barack Obama IS winning, which I think is the realization fueling the Republican drive to blow up the economy and his presidency so they can play blame-a-nigga games during the 2012 Presidential election.

The fact that firebaggers refuse to acknowledge the latent racism behind Republican machinations blocking a raise in the debt ceiling reveals that Republicans are not the only ones with a race problem they need to own up to. The need for Barack Obama to be perfection personified before some progressives can trust and applaud his leadership is delusional at best.  At worst it is racist and it is time we had an adult conversation about that. His election has not exorcised the demon of racism in this country and relieves no one of their moral obligation to continue supporting fairness and equal opportunity.

If President Obama has a failing, it is that he refuses to acknowledge that truth and the racism behind the animus he faces from the Republicans.  Whatever.  I’ll support him regardless because nobody in my lifetime has demonstrated that they’re more worthy of being President.

Governor Davis: a fantasy in black and white

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Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy

Artur Davis is a facinating politician in many respects. The power of his intellect and sharp political skills set him apart from most pol’s.  The sky should be the limit for Artur.  In Alabama, congress is the limit for Artur.  If not for the Voting Rights Act, he would not be a member of congress from Alabama.

In America, it should be a no brainer that any child born anywhere should be able to reach for the highest political rung in state government and not be deterred, discouraged or attacked on the basis of race. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in despite the fantasies of some whites that we live in a post-racial utopia.  It does not matter how many blackfolks buy into the white fantasy that Artur can win this year.  It isn’t true. This diary seeks to explore the reasons for this bitter reality.

A black man might be president,  but he would not be if America was a cultural mirror of the state of Alabama.  Only one in ten white voters, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, voted for Barack Obama.  Extreme racial polarization is a fact of life in the Deep South that smart people can’t get around.

The President of the United States is a biracial man of color who is the product of an interracial marriage. He was raised almost exclusively by his white kinfolks. Most rural whites in the Deep South cannot process these facts and are profoundly threatened by his presidency.

They displace their discomfort with his race by questioning his citizenship and asking to see his birth certificate.  They are willing to question his professed and demonstrated Christian faith and believe any smear about him being a Muslim terrorist because the father he never knew was a Muslim.   They then voted for a Republican Senator universally known to have been born outside the continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone because “at least he is American,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for being White.

The President of the United States is the most nonthreatening black politician in American history. He is decidedly centrist in word and deed to the chagrin of most of us on the progressive left.  To most rural whites, though, he is a Socialist, Marxist, Communist Antichrist hell bent on creating a segregated, racist society in which only non-whites rule and whites are subjugated. That is a nifty piece of racist projection most psychologists would love to get their hands on and take apart.

Because of this ridiculous racial paranoia, there will be no ability to see a similar black man any differently.

Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama

Race is still a bar to achievement and advancement in the United States in some fields of endeavor. Our inability to talk about race or be honest  about our racial fears is part and parcel of the infrastructure, which reinforces the bar to achievement and advancement.

Alabama is stuck in both a time warp and in a black hole of its own making with regard to race. There can be no change unless people are willing to smash the taboo of cross racial cooperation.

Meaningful cross racial dialogue and genuine fellowship is rare anywhere in the Deep South but more likely to occur in urban areas with a large University presence. On the other hand, if folks live in larger communities, they are still largely segregated. Nobody wants to go to school with us or live in our neighborhoods. If we are fortunate enough to live in communities where both white and black do go to school together, the interaction is largely superficial.

When time comes to choose a college, the choices are still segregated. We live separate lives and pretend that it is normal. It isn’t. We (blackfolks) are usually the ones that have to stick our necks out to make change.  It is rarely the other way around.

I think it is wonderful that most of the people on this board look favorably on Artur Davis and the egalitarian ideal his candidacy represents, but the hard work and foundation for an eventual win by a black candidate for Governor has not been done in any state of the Deep South–Georgia included.  Anybody who believes he can win in this backwards and hostile cultural environment is deluding themselves.

Nobody in the grip of a rural Tea Bagger’s poisonous racial paranoia is capable of building community with the blackfolks they see everyday that mirror them in every demographic respect.

They might know your people, might have known your extended kinfolk back to the Civil War, but it still don’t mean that they’ll vote for your daddy to become the first black sheriff. I have a hard time understanding why Artur has to come along like a Negro in a buddy movie and be their black friend when most rural whites have only superficial relationships with the blackfolks they see everyday.  There is no sense of community where stereotypically everybody knows and is kin to everybody. Ultimately, this is why Artur cannot be elected Governor this year.

Dr. King spoke of a desire to “..foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality…Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living–integration.” That does not exist in Alabama or anywhere in the Deep South.  It doesn’t even exist up north but most of the time northerners are not so blinded by race that they will vote against politicians of color they are philosophically compatible with because they are not white.

We are still living separate lives despite dramatically less racial polarization in the north. The South is less physically segregated than the North but it is more functionally segregated on the ground.  This has to change.  Only hard work done by committed blacks and whites will change it.  Most of the onus is on whites though, and becuase it is I doubt seriously that it will happen anytime before I turn 50 in 2021.

History has arrived

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votebw4

I am headed to my poll location now to work.   Share your thoughts with me as history is being made.

After several hours at the polls, I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

The Grandmother of Barack Obama, Madelyn Dunham, has gone home to see the King.

This is a bittersweet moment for all of those, myself included, who prayed and asked the Lord to allow Mother Dunham to see her grandson elected President. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in God’s plan.

Barack’s tears touched me.

APTOPIX Obama 2008

They took me back to the death of my grandfather.

I don’t know what it is like to lose a grandmother and don’t want to know. My maternal grandmother is my heart. She is the matriarch of our family. My grandmother is sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. She is quiet dignity and unconditional love. She is collard greens and cornbread. She is my rock, my anchor, my role model. I cannot imagine life without her love, her prayers, or her presence.

Fifteen years ago, Grandma discovered that her husband of 35 years had slipped away quietly in his sleep after a long illness. She called the sheriff to pronounce the body and the funeral home. While waiting for momma and me to arrive, grandma had a massive heart attack. She was right in the middle of it as we arrived. She rocked back and forth on the foot of the bed as she prayed softly. We called her name and rubbed her back. Mama continued rocking back and forth and praying softly. She finally fell out as they lifted her onto the gurney and transported her to the hospital. It never dawned on me that she was having a heart attack. The whole thing felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.

We waited helplessly for several hours with other family as they worked to stabilize her in intensive care. When they finally let us in to see her, she was hooked up to a respirator and there seemed to be tubes coming from everywhere. I lost it and quickly dissolved into tears. Grandma gestured for a pen and scribbled a note that read: God told me it is not my time. Stop crying.

That didn’t reassure me.

I spent the next five days on my face, fasting and praying. Nearly a week after being on the brink of death, Mama walked out of that hospital and buried her husband with the characteristic dignity and resolve she’s always displayed. She never had another heart related incident. God spoke to my grandmother clearly and told her it was not her time. There was nothing more to fear. God said it. He did it.

For those of you who believe that we cannot predict an Obama win because you are superstitious, there is nothing to fear because this is his time and nothing will change that. I look forward to April 27, 2009 when the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, writes to my grandmother and wishes her a happy 80th birthday.

Y’all be good and go vote. Do it for all the grandmothers who couldn’t be with us and whose sacrifices made this moment in history possible.

Another Obama Assassination Plot foiled

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Hat Tip: Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Law enforcement agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Monday.

In court records unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn., federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of ATF’s Nashville field office, said the two men planned to kill 88 African Americans, including 14 by beheading. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree after the Tennessee murders, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

“They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

No immediate comment
An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.

The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., are being held without bond. Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.

The two men were arrested Oct. 22 by the Crockett County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office. “Once we arrested the defendants and suspected they had violated federal law, we immediately contacted federal authorities,” said Crockett County Sheriff Troy Klyce.

Cowart and Schlesselman are charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president.

The investigation is continuing, and more charges are possible, Cavanaugh said.

The court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people.

Ram vehicle into Obama?
For the Obama plot, the legal documents show, Cowart and Schlesselman “planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows.”

“Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt,” the court complaint states. “Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”

Cavanaugh said there’s no evidence — so far — that others were willing to assist Cowart and Schlesselman with the plot.

He said authorities took the threats very seriously.

“They seemed determined to do it,” Cavanaugh said. “Even if they were just to try it, it would be a trail of tears around the South.”

The court documents say the two men met about a month ago on the Internet and found common ground in their shared “white power” and “skinhead” philosophy.

14, 88 are skinhead symbols
The numbers 14 and 88 are symbols in skinhead culture, referring to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two “8”s or “H”s stand for “Heil Hitler.”

Helena-West Helena, on the Mississippi River in east Arkansas’ Delta, is in one of the nation’s poorest regions, trailing even parts of Appalachia in its standard of living. Police Chief Fred Fielder said he had never heard of Schlesselman.

However, the reported threat of attacking a school filled with black students worried Fielder. Helena-West Helena, with a population of 12,200, is 66 percent black. “Predominantly black school, take your pick,” he said.

liddy dole’s fallen and can’t get up

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s relentless television assault on freshman Senator Elizabeth Dole,73, has laid the Plastic Magnolia low. Politically speaking, Liddy Dole has fallen and can’t get up. I can show you better than I can tell you.

The folksy old men are devastating, but the man on the street testimonials in Salisbury, her hometown, nail the coffin shut on her chances for re-election. Person after person and even the people on the street where she claims a residence have never seen her.I have a friendly wager with a co-worker that she’ll lose Jesse Helms’ seat. He vigorously disagrees, but with 400 paid Obama staffers on the ground in dozens of offices throughout the state mounting the most aggressive grassroots campaign in nearly 50 years, I have no doubt that she’ll lose.

State Legislator Kay Hagan, 55, a Greensboro Democrat, is running a top notch campaign with the assist of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ads running non-stop. She vows to send Bob and Liddy Dole back to Kansas because she believes that there is no place like home. During some years in her tenure, Liddy Dole has spent less than two weeks in North Carolina. Ranking 93rd in effectiveness and voting with President Bush 92% of the time, Mrs. Dole, just like her plastic surgeon, hasn’t delivered on what was promised. Her tenure has already been a bad joke and if she’s re-elected, nobody should be laughing.


Hate First

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Video Hat Tip: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Crooks and Liars

The mainstream media has been talking around this for weeks now, but Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern news channel, lays it out plain and shows White voters spewing out the racist, sectarian, xenophobic, Anti-Obama talking points of the Republican Party.  The Republicans have been playing a ridiculous game of denial with the media and everyone else that calls them on their bullshit–thus, the histrionics by Republicans over John Lewis’ open letter calling out McSame and Failin’.  They know exactly what they’ve been doing because they’ve been doing it for over 40 years.  They have been masters at the non-denial denial and the art of deliberately stoking the racial resentments of their white constitutent base against the liberal enemies of the moment.  Southern Strategy, anyone?