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.

Michael Steele: Concern Troll

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The blackface minstrel the Republican Party installed as its chairman has had the audacity to call on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign.  Yesterday on Meet the Press, the preeminent Salon of Sunday talk, Steele was asked if Senator Reid should resign for saying Barack Obama was a viable Presidential candidate because he was “light-skinned” and because he did not speak with a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

I refuse to defend Harry Reid, but even an idealist like me knows the difference between a Majority Leader who advances the agenda of a black president and a Majority Leader who defended segregation.

Steele said, “[F]rom my perspective, whether he steps down today or I retire him in November, either way, he will not be the leader in 2011.” That is mighty curious statement because The Steele Sambo felt differently when Trent Lott found himself in a similar predicament.

The Politico has the scoop:

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 14, 2002: “Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele said last night that he was personally upset by U.S. Sen. Trent Lott’s praise for Sen. Strom Thurmond and his segregationist past, but said Lott should not be forced to relinquish his leadership position in the Senate. ‘Trent Lott apologized, but he needs to keep apologizing because this is a very sensitive issue to the black community,’ Steele (R) said at an event celebrating his election as Maryland’s first black lieutenant governor. ‘I know Trent Lott personally, and I know that this is not his intent. But it’s still unfortunate. And I think he needs to apologize a little bit more.’”

The New York Times quotes Steele:

What’s interesting here is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough,” Mr. Steele said. “If that had been [Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the United States,” Democrats would be “screaming for his head, very much as they were with [Former Senate Republican Leader] Trent Lott.

What the record proves, what it always proves, is that when Republicans say racist things an apology is usually enough and The Steele Sambo will be there to back them up.

Perhaps y’all remember this little tidbit from last year in Politico:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”

My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.

Class, let’s review what The Steele Sambo has enormous respect for.

Rush Limbaugh has said:

Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

[To an African American female caller]: Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.

I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

[On Justice Sotomayor] “So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

At every turn, The Steele Sambo has used his race and status as a Republican leader to defend the most aggressive purveyors of the racism he now claims to be offended by. In the blogosphere we called creeps like The Steele Sambo concern trolls. It is a delicious epithet because they damn sure ain’t the least bit concerned about whatever they comment on. And they are almost always an ugly wingnut troll. To be fair, Michael Steele is not ugly, but the racism he consistently defends as the Chairman of the Republican Party is.

While I am no fan of Barack Obama’s safe establishment politics, I hope The Steele Sambo’s book and his rancid political agenda fails.

Defending Serena

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By TripLBee,

Can we give Serena Williams a little love? If you are an ESPN junkie, as I am, coverage over the past few days would lead one to believe that Serena had been financing a dog fighting ring, or running a drug operation, or using enhanced interrogation techniques against orphans and widows.

If any of you good people watched her semi-final match in the US Open, then you saw what the rest of the tennis world saw. During a critical point at the end of the match, a line judge called a foot fault against Serena. Not only is a foot fault NEVER called, but Serena didn’t even commit one. That horrible call—-the single worst I’ve seen in 30 years of watching tennis—put Serena a point away from defeat. So she blew her top. She lost her cool. She told the line judge that she wanted to “shove this ball down your f#$%ing throat.”

To be sure, Serena’s actions were over the top. But it’s the first time she’s thrown this kind of tantrum in 11 years of professional tennis, in a sport where infantile tantrums are the norm. Why exactly is the sports media blowing this incident out of proportion? Why is it receiving wall-to-wall coverage when Roger Federer’s misbehavior two days later has barely been mentioned? Why is she condemned as the second coming of Jeffrey Dahmer when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were celebrated as “brash” for their bad boy antics?

Perhaps it was the sight of an enraged, 6 foot, heavily muscled, dark skinned sister from Compton, that set the tennis world on edge. This was not what Grand Slam officials envisioned when they decided to allow women to play professionally. Venus and Serena serve as hard as the men, and Serena could kick most of their asses. They have kept the lid on their “blackness” for their entire careers. And when they’ve been interested enough to practice, they have wiped the court with the competition. The tennis world has accepted them because, for the most part, they’ve been gracious winners. But Serena apparently violated her unwritten contract with professional tennis, by losing her temper and acting a fool. It’s okay for Martina Hingis or one of the petite country club girls to throw a tantrum, but Serena has to keep it in check.

Perhaps this is the jolt Serena and Venus need to re-focus their energies on tennis, and bring home some more Grand Slam trophies. And this time they can bring those trophies home to Compton, where they are still respected and revered.

Fashion Disaster

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The controversy over Sarah Palin’s opulent, fashion forward makeover is indeed an interesting one because it speaks volumes about her and how unfit she is for assuming the role of Commander-In-Chief. The Republican National Committee spared no expense to ensure that the most inarticulate and ignorant Vice Presidential contender in modern history looked the part while she rigidly adhered to a demagogic and hypocritical script of racial appeals to stereotypical, white Joe Six-packs and hockey moms more accustomed to the cramped aisles of a plebian Wal-Mart than the rarified air of Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Sistah Robin Givhan of the Washington Post has written:

As a country, we remain predisposed to assessing the attire of women with an eye toward meaning and revelation. Some say it is sexist to do so. They are wrong…Clothing can evoke authority, but at the most basic level it is an expression of control.

How does a woman get elected to be a state’s chief executive-a job that entails presiding over the management of billions of dollars and thousands of employees and not have an appropriate wardrobe befitting her station that quietly and and elegantly conveys that authority? She did it, I presume, by running on the vacuous tripe of personality and biography. It also means and the evidence proves that she is not really in control.

In almost every aspect, Ms. Palin is totally unqualified for the job she holds and doubly unqualified for a promotion to the Vice Presidency. If she pieced together her wardrobe and political resume together like she did her Bachelor’s degree-a little bit here and little bit there, it tells me that she is unfocused, shallow, and lacks the intellectual curiosity and depth necessary for wielding executive power.

Again, according to Sistah Givhan”

Attire is not the sole provence of women, but n comparison with men, it remains an area in which they have the greater number of choices, more flexibility, [and] the heavier burden.

Sarah Palin didn’t somebody aside and wisper a request for a makeover. Palin’s handlers knew damn well that she needed one and planned accordingly and spent extravagently. That by itself gives the lie to Republican claims that she is ready for primetime.

The wardrobe they selected for Palin is elegant, simple, understated and very fashion forward. It embraces femininity without conveying frivolity or sacrificing authority. However, it should be noted that Governor Palin didn’t select a stitch of it-her handlers did.

Sarah Palin is fond of calling Barack Obama a socialist while sporting $150,000 of other people’s money on her back. This is a fine example of the racist hypocrisy that African Americans find so repellenat and why we so soundly reject the Republican brand. Can you imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and the Obamas were at the receiving end of this type of subsidized extravagance? Lord, have mercy. Can’t you just hear the howls of wingnut indignation? Moreover, I seriously doubt whether we would be hearing Mika Brezinzki and Campbell Brown defending Michelle Obama.

If Palin’s handlers had been as serious about what they put in the Governor’s head to get her up to speed on national issues as they were what they put on her back, John McCain’s choice would be lauded as a touch of brilliance and perhaps he would still be inthe hunt for the Oval Office he has long coveted.

Sistah Givhan relates:

The public has already settled on the defining characteristics of a powerful man: He wears a dark suit that is well tailored. He pairs it with a crisp white shirt, and if he wishes to underscore his authority, he wears French cuffs…He tries to look dignified and serious.

Sarah Palin’s selection is akin to a fashion disaster or like pairing a garish tie with an expensive suit. The Alaska Governor is the personification of ostentatious fraudulence and her makeover shatters the image of dignified seriousness and gravitas McSame has tried to run on.

When Sarah’s fairy godfather loses the election and the ball is over, campaign flacks claim that the designer duds that McCain’s right-wing Cinderella acquired will be donated to charity. I don’t believe that-especially when we’ve heard talk about whether she would need to claim these clothes on her income tax, which implies that these clothes were meant to be kept after the campaign.

In other words, the campaign is spinning another line of B.S. that, coincidentally, aptly describes the McCain-Palin campaign thus far.

O.J. Simpson: guilty of stupidity

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Hat Tip: By Linda Deutsch, Associated Press

Las Vegas, NV – O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and a friend, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison after he is sentenced Dec. 5.

A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read in rapid fire by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.

The Hall of Fame football star was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said he brought a gun at Simpson’s request.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom.

His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed and paramedics were called, according to court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer.

The jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as the entered and each of them answered firmly when asked if “this was their individual verdict.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days.

The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record, but she rejected that.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

The verdict came 13 years after Simpson was cleared of murder in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

From the beginning, Simpson and lawyers argued the incident in Las Vegas was not a robbery; instead, they said, he was trying to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a gun and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30 years.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify, but was heard on a recording of the confrontation, screaming that the dealers had stolen his property.

“Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men initially charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the confrontation in the hotel room, said he netted $210,000 on the tapes from the media. He received immunity, and his recordings became the heart of the prosecution case.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, confrontation, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the incident.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would. And the judge told jurors they had to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

Simpson’s lawyers also expressed fears during jury selection that people who believed he got away with murder a decade ago might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that he should have been convicted of murder.

 

Barack and Jeremiah

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Jeremiah Wright doesn’t believe that God’s purpose for him on this earth is to make white people feel comfortable with him or Barack Obama. His silence is not required by our constitution nor commanded by God or the Obama campaign. He rejects the false litmus test that he’s become and that only Obama must pass so that he is acceptable to a white electorate skittish about electing an African American president.

During the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, the fact remains that Plains Baptist Church refused to be integrated and forced the resignation of the pastor who insisted that it should. Neither Carter’s commitment to the church or his faith were questioned in the same manner that Barack Obama’s church and faith has been.

This litmus test is a racist double standard that should be unacceptable in the twenty-first century and an example of a religious test that our constitution forbids. At the end of the day, Barack Obama can only be held responsible for his own words and record as a politician and not that of an evil old preacher who feeds the homeless, sends hundreds of young people to college and seminary, and voluntarily serves his country when the last two presidents were literally missing in action.

Why Obama strategist David Axelrod continues to act as if Barack has something to apologize for, I’ll never understand. I know in my heart of hearts that if Barack Obama is not acceptable to the White America he claims doesn’t exist because we are supposedly one people, no black person ever will be. Moreover, if Obama throws Wright under the bus as the media has commanded him to do, he’ll accomplish the feat of gaining the whole world while losing his soul. He will also lose my vote again and those of other African Americans like me deeply offended by his passivity in the face of racist attacks against the Black Church.

 

Friday Open Thread: Obama crosses the line on Wright

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“Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying at the church,” –Barack Obama on The View, Friday morning.

What is he saying? I know he didn’t just do this after people like me, Hell, the whole of the African Diaspora, has come to the defense of his pastor. I need somebody to help me-Now. OMIGAWD. Please, Jesus. Tell me that I didn’t just read this on Huffington Post and TPM. Lord, tell me that this is just a surreal nightmare. What has this all been for if he cannot go the extra mile and continue to defend Dr. Wright while giving whitefolks the “disagreement” that they need to hear? Why did he cross the line, Lord? Why.

I don’t know if I can forgive this tacit acknowledgement that the round the clock, racist smear campaign against Dr. Wright and the Black Church had merit. I am so angry with Barack right now that I don’t know if I can continue my support. Talk to me.

Joe Klein’s love affair with Obama is over

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It never ceases to amaze me what wild speculation, fantastic scenarios, and ridiculous fantasy Joe Klein is paid to produce on a regular basis.  His writing takes on the persona of an empty headed teenager looking to be swept off his feet by a handsome and virile presidential contender.  

This week’s love interest is Al Gore because Klein has clearly fallen out of love with Barack Obama.  It is a flabbergasting turn of events after his public falling out with Bill Clinton whose bathwater he happily drank for 16 years.  Writing of the man he calls the Natural, he said, Bill Clinton has redefined his wife’s campaign. He has made it a co-candidacy. He has cheapened it by using cheesy, misleading tactics against Obama.” 

Now, just one week after singing Obama’s praises after the Speech in Philadelphia, he’s spinning some bulls*it Al Gore-as-compromise-nominee-scenario when every other pundit in the land predicts Barack winning this thing.  Talk about kicking a brotha when he’s down.  I genuinely thought that Klein was truly in love this time and I don’t mean with the sound of his own voice, but truly smitten with Barack in the same way he was with Bill Clinton.   

In his 2006, 3,178 word piece, The Fresh Face, he made a great show of kicking Barack’s tires and probing his intellect, but it was subsequently clear that he was smitten and self-conscious of his growing puppy love and the betrayal of his soul mate, Bill Clinton.   Words are like sperm to Klein and spilling that much seed must really mean true love, or at least lust.  It is sad for it to end this way and a real tragedy for America.

All of us, myself included, wait with baited breath for Joe’s columns to come out so that we know how to think, act, and feel.  His flights of fancy become ours and his loves become ours as well.  The entire nation lives vicariously through him.  His importance, at least in his own mind, cannot be overstated.  If I were to run into his editor at Time I’d simply say, “After payin’ imperial narcissist Joe Klein’s exorbitant salary for umpteen years, I know y’all got room for a level headed Skeptical Brotha like me.”

 

Hillary Clinton, Warrior Princess

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Today, Hillary said that Jeremiah Wright wouldn’t have been her pastor.  No sh*t, really?  I’m stunned.  You coulda fooled me, I thought she loved the black church and “don’t feel no ways tired” of being racially condescending to black folks.   

Honestly though, I am stunned by her audacity and hypocrisy regarding the man who was called to the White House on September 11, 1998 to give “spiritual counseling” to a president engulfed by scandal and exposed as a liar and serial philanderer. Dr. Wright was apparently good enough to be a Black religious prop in a public relations fraud then and too damaged to be a Black minister of the gospel and Pastor to Barack Obama now.   

After remaining mute for over a damn week, why say anything at all?  Perhaps it was because she felt the need to deflect attention away from her bogus little Bosnia war story.  What story, Skeptical Brotha?   It’s the story you haven’t seen run in a continuous loop on every networks freakin’ programs for a week in a calculated effort to poison the electorate against her.  

Last week, Senator Clinton told a tall tale of her legendary heroism and foreign policy cachet, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

 

Somebody attempted to assassinate the First Lady of the United States in a damn foreign country and this is the first we’re hearing of it?  Wow.  Move over Zena, there is a new warrior princess in town.   What a piece of work.  As Barack Obama is being mauled by a racist, duplicitous and rabid press corps over something somedbody else said, the warrior princess is allowed to escape accountability for a week for lying to their faces about her so-called “foreign policy experience.”  Now that’s a double standard worth discussing. Quick, somebody go find Geraldine Ferraro.