Y’all need to chill! Seriously!

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Mitt Romney is the living embodiment of a President from Hollywood central casting.  His all-American good looks and patrician bearing are reassuring to some folk and harkens back to the halcyon days of yesteryear when times were simple and dark people, women and gays knew their proper places.  Following the lead of Congressional Republicans in racializing Obama’s policy agenda, Mitt Romney’s strategists, conscious of their diminishing odds of winning this election, elected to frame their horse’s throwback candidacy in a way that intentionally stokes a sense of white racial resentment.  President Obama’s every thought, word and deed is construed as a racial attack on God-fearing, taxpaying white Americans. Whites are cast as the victims in this alternate Republican universe and Mitt Romney is the savior they’ve been praying for.  It is a lie, like everything the modern Republican Party stands for. It doesn’t matter how confidently Mitt Romney recites his lies. A confident lie is still a lie. Remain calm. There is nothing that transpired yesterday between the contenders to America’s throne that should disturb any Obama partisan.

Let’s review. In the span of 50 years, we’ve gone from, “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever,” to the eleventh great grandson of the first enslaved African serving as President of the United States.  God is speaking through this recent revelation in Obama’s family tree. Can you hear him? I believe in my sanctified soul that Barack Obama’s miraculous rise to the presidency was predestined. The African ancestry traceable through his “white” mother shatters the myth of white supremacy and cleanses the stain of chattel slavery.  In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells his prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:10 states, “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Every step this brotha has taken in the last thirty years has been ordered by The One Most High.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama was a minor state legislator nobody had ever heard of. He gamely took on the State Comptroller and a Multi-Millionaire Businessman for the chance to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Heavily outspent, he vanquished them both. Plucked from obscurity by John Kerry to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, he electrified the nation. Two opponents, including his attractive Republican opponent, self-destructed in sex-scandals. Smears, misinformation and right-wing distortions, many of the same we hear today, were employed by an unhinged Republican to stop his rise.  None worked. Four years later he went on to defeat the most formidible political dynasty the Democratic Party has ever produced to claim the Democratic nomination for President. The Clintons questioned his fitness for the Presidency and Bill Clinton dismissed his ambition as a “fairytale” and prompted Teddy Kennedy to endorse Obama after letting rip, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Oh, how the worm has turned. President and Mrs. Clinton both serve at Obama’s pleasure now.

We love him because he has always displayed the cool serenity and regal dignity that every child of God should emulate.  This is the same president that shamed Donald Trump on Wednesday, punked his ass contemptuously on Saturday, and killed Bin Laden on Sunday.  Don’t believe for one minute that an empty suit like Mitt Romney got under our president’s skin last night.  Don’t fall for that.  Obama set a trap and Romney took the bait. Romney shook his etch-a-sketch so hard that he broke it.  This is the same president that allowed Republican extremism and obstructionism to trap them into the untenable position of opposing tax cuts, a grand bargain on deficit reduction and a debt limit extension.   To hear some pundits tell it, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he always seems to come out on top.

Romney still has much to answer for. The specificity of his budget and tax plan that journalists and pundits were critical of earlier in the week sure as hell didn’t materialize last night. What we heard was a lot of nonsensical doubletalk and backpedalling from what he was saying during the primaries.  The Obama for America campaign is sure to take a hefty pound of flesh from Romney for his evasions and falsehoods.  The ads should pretty much write themselves. All one has to do is stack Romney’s inconsistencies on top of one another and call it a damn day.

The corporate media knows that this race was over a long time ago. It doesn’t want to give up the ghost just yet because it invests the empty theatrics and ridiculous posturing of the modern presidential debate with more meaning than the serious policy discussions it was designed to facilitate. The contention that stagecraft means more than statecraft is a serious indictment of our fourth estate and an indication that the systemic corruption beneath the Media’s shiny façade threatens our democracy.  We need to continue working, watching and praying for healing and racial reconciliation in our country.

There is a hymn that goes, “We’ve come this far by faith. Leaning on the Lord. Trusting in His holy word… Just the other day I heard someone say he didn’t believe in God’s word. But I can truly say that God has made a way.  And He’s never failed me yet. That’s why we’ve come this far by faith.”

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.

Elizabeth Edwards passes

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Hat Tip: Reuters

(Reuters) – Elizabeth Edwards, a best-selling author and a driving force behind her husband John Edwards’ political career before it was destroyed by his infidelity, died on Tuesday at age 61.

“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family. We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life,” the statement said.

Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer and treated in 2004. In 2007, the cancer returned and spread.

She wrote two best-selling books, “Resilience” and “Saving Graces,” about her battle with cancer and the scandal surrounding her husband, a wealthy trial lawyer who served as a U.S. senator from North Carolina and twice ran for president.

President Barack Obama in a statement called her “a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty,” and said the county “has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.”

John Edwards’ personal and political fortunes changed after the National Enquirer, a tabloid newspaper, began reporting on his affair with a campaign aide named Rielle Hunter as he sought the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Elizabeth Edwards and her husband announced in January 2010 that they had separated after 32 years of marriage.

On December 6, 2010, she said in a Facebook posting: “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces, my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.”

2016

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When I last posted, the topic of conversation was Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee. The last time I wished to post was around the same time the Eddie Long controversy broke. Then I got sidetracked. I’ll get back to those topics ASAP, but what occurs to me today is that Deval Patrick is presidential timber.  If he wins in November, and it looks dicey right now, he could mount a campaign to succeed President Obama. This question of succession is one that has concerned me for some time even though it is decidedly premature.

Two people immediately came to mind, neither was Hillary Clinton. Both were women. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Senator Claire McCaskill are two logical choices in my view of logical successors to Obama. First, both endorsed him over Hillary Clinton, and both are younger than she is. Both women are centrists. Both women are natural executives and highly decisive people. McCaskill, the conservative of the two, is a radical centrist and her Senate votes are a little more to the center right than I am comfortable with, but it positions her perfectly for re-election and a national run.

Claire is articulate, no nonsense and a commanding presence. My favorite example of her leadership style is the way she scolded an enormous crowd during a health care forum for their churlish disrespect.  She came across as an angry mother that one should be wary of attempting to cross. McCaskill credits one of her daughters for pushing her to endorse Senator Obama and reassess his potential to lead the nation. Today, if I had that child’s ear, I’d be whispering that she should be telling her mom to prepare herself to run for president.

Janet Napolitano, by contrast, is the single and childless professional woman that Americans have been bred to fear. Napolitano is a kind of female Obama because she is a trailblazer. The first Democratic woman to be elected Governor in the Southwest, she was also the first woman appointed both U.S. Attorney and elected Attorney General. She is now the first woman to become Secretary of Homeland Security. The agents of patriarchy tell us that we have something to fear from such a woman as Napolitano because she apparently is fearless, competent, but more importantly, single and childless. Stepping into the role of national father as President will supposedly be problematic for her. With a fairly deep and resonant voice, she oozes authority. She even sounds Presidential. I can think of no real problems with her being President and can think of no woman better prepared for the job of leader of the free world.

Neither of these women, however, leads with her heart. Neither is known as a progressive. At my core, that is who I am, and that is who I want to lead my country. If I ever write a book, it will not be about Harold Ford, Jr. It will be about making the case for electing a progressive to the White House. That is the book I was meant to write, not a negative screed, entertaining though it may have been, about a corporate whore like Ford.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the kind of progressive candidate I could enthusiastically get behind. Most of us Negroes never seriously entertained the possibility of electing a black president much less two brothas from Chicago, but Patrick is capable of being elected President because he is so damn talented. First, the brotha is a compelling public speaker that rivals the President in his ability to move people. Second, he is blazing a path of progressive governance that Obama, bless his heart, is not. I do not know what his foreign policy views are, but Deval Patrick would make an excellent President because he is all of the things progressives projected onto Obama that he never was. I respect and admire Barack Obama and will work hard to get him re-elected. However, after two years, I realize that he is not the president I wanted, despite his extraordinary gifts and stunning accomplishments.

For awhile I’ve been telling friends that Obama is the only black president we’ll ever live to see or that there will ever be so we might as well be happy with whatever he does, even though I have not been happy bout a number of things. Today, I feel as I might have been wrong about that, and that gives me hope.

I’m Running

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For the last twenty years I have struggled with a lifelong desire to be a political figure and the realization that American politics is infected with what bell hooks terms “White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”   Trying to navigate shark infested political waters in a way that preserves my integrity has been a tough slog.  I’ve tried volunteering on campaigns, I’ve even run some for people I thought brought something special to the public arena.   I’ve tried writing and blogging.   None of it quite fits me even though I had some success.

I’ve been contacted by national writers from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times.  During the 2008 campaign I even saw my blog mentioned on CNN.  None of it was enough though.  I allowed myself to become disillusioned with politics and watched passively as life passed me by.

I need more.

I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m not getting any younger.  Next year when I hit forty I need to fulfill what I’ve always thought was my purpose: running for public office.  I ‘ve been obsessed with politics and  policy for as long as I can remember and life is too short not to try and make the world a better place.  I realize that I am just as fucking flawed as some of the politicians I despise and looking for perfection in this life is a fool’s errand.

I am a progressive that believes in what the good people of Black Agenda Report call “The Black Consensus.”  In sum, what that means is that we do no harm to the political, economic and social viability of the black community and that we do our level best to strengthen black institutions.   The last thing we need is a dependant and prostrate black community willing to sell out for the crumbs of imperialism.

Capitalism, for the most part, operates to the detriment of people of color.   Not always, but mostly. It is the obligation of African American pol’s to level the playing field in any way possible.   Some of you will complain that this explicit racial consciousness is un-American, but I can assure you that as a dreadlocked skeptical brotha, nobody allows me to forget my race.  The knee-jerk apprehension when I enter white spaces is palpable.

President Obama is the main example of this phenomenon.  Since the day it was apparent that he would defeat Hillary Clinton, it has been open season.  Conservatives have been ringing the bell and sounding a disturbing racial alarm.   The sound and fury of conservatives signifies discomfort with everything Obama symbolizes.   They refuse to accept his legitimacy as president and displace that into rhetoric questioning his citizenship, patriotism, and religion and they smear him as a socialist, Marxist, and Muslim.

Their thinly veiled racism and full throated hatred ain’t fooling nobody, honey.    They want to “take their country back” from the unwashed hoards of Negroes, Latinos, Asians, and Gays of all persuasions and turn back the clock to a simpler time when they knew their proper places in the underclass.

Some of us have gotten sidetracked the last 18 months worrying about these attacks, but it really isn’t about Obama, it’s about us, people.   Obama is just the proxy, y’all, conservatives are attacking progressive progress in general and the black community in particular. Obama is a very flawed politician despite his many gifts. I admire him tremendously, but his penchant for defending an unacceptable status quo and softening the edges of America’s harsh imperialism is not really admirable. TripLBee said it best:

When any President, including this one, glamorizes and sanitizes warfare, I will be offended. I found his speech offensive; especially because he knows he was spouting nonsense. Does he really want his daughters buying into his blather about the sanctity of waging war against the poorest country on the face of the Earth? He is sounding like every other emperor. It’s pathetic.

Lastly, I feel compelled to run because l feel an obligation to do something more than bitch and complain on a keyboard.   Some folk can effect positive change that way, but I don’t think that is really my gift.

Labor Day Open Thread

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The President  opened the fall campaign in his customary way today with a barn burning speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Continuing the piecemeal approach of incremental change that our political system allows, President Obama announced a plan for $50 billion of infrastructure investment.  The plan is weighted heavily toward roads, bridges,  high speed rail, smart investments and limited job creation.  Shrewdly, he performed the obligatory ass kissing of organized labor to create enthusiasm and excitement for the Democratic ticket in the fall. Moreover, he sold his plan with the customary feel good rhetoric and American Dream cliches.

Obama’s scathing criticism of the failed policies and right-wing propaganda of the Republicans was what some voters needed to hear.  Too bad white voters are not listening to reason this year.  Republicans understand the power of fear and are using it to their advantage, Democrats should be taking Republicans faces off for their hypocrisy, lies, and distortions on every front.  Fear about the future of Social Security is particularly potent, unfortunately, Obama has no credibility on that issue.

Lastly, the President gave what amounted to a middle class call to arms in this address but  he’s done precious little to address the foreclosure crisis that is decimating the middle class–particularly the black and brown middle class. We’ll see if it works. What is on your mind today?

Oval Office Address Open Thread

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President Obama addressed the nation on the occasion of the official withdrawal of combat forces in Iraq.  I am interested in your thoughts regarding the address and ask that you consider the following questions:  (1) Do you believe that the combat mission in Iraq was worth the cost in blood and treasure to the American people?  (2) Do you believe Bush’s trillion dollar imperial crusade improved Iraq in any way at all?  (3) Did the President reassure you that he is sufficiently turning his focus to domestic concerns–the economy in particular?  (4)  Does Obama look comfortable sitting behind the big desk and if not, why not? (5) What didn’t you hear that you expected and needed to hear?

Talk to me.  Don’t be shy.

Kendrick Meek: Movin On Up

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Whenever I think about writing, for some reason the soundtrack of my mind comes up with something apropos. I heard a familiar sitcom jingle and concluded that Kendrick Meek is synonymous with the iconic TV Negroes we came to know as The Jeffersons.  While Kendrick ain’t looking to snag him a dee-lux apartment in the sky, Carrie Meek’s baby boy has clearly been dreaming of movin’ on up to the Senate for sometime and has positioned himself accordingly.  His personality is best described as more Wheezy than George  because he is both humble and sophisticated.  Possessing a common touch that belies his power and status, Kendrick has always struck me as more of a regular everyman than a silvery tongued pol.   More Forrest Whitaker than Denzel Washington, Meek has a fierce battle to convince a skeptical electorate that he is the right man to represent them in  the patrician Senate.

Until a few months ago,  Meek thought he had a clear field and would coast to the general election facing the winner of a bloody and protracted GOP primary–then everything changed.   Gov. Charlie Crist’s statehouse rival, Marco Rubio, made the Governor’s centrist politics a centerpiece of his strategy to seduce the right-wing and hit paydirt. Mired in second place in the polls, the GOP Governor bolted the party and started wooing Independents and Democrats.  To add insult to injury, Meek picked up a  credit default swap billionaire as a primary challenger, Jeff Greene.  Meek suddenly had to tap his carefully husbanded $4 million dollar bankroll to defend himself against a fusillade of negative ads.

What looked like a competitive  but uphill two-party contest has degenerated into a three-way free for all.  A carefully orchestrated whisper campaign to challenge Kendrick’s electability caused White Democrats to defect en masse to Crist or remain neutral.  Meek is polling a very weak third place and was until recently in second place in the Democratic Primary.   What looked like a handkerchief head move to endorse Hillary and cozy up to the Clintons in 2008 looks shrewd today given the weakness of the current president’s poll numbers and the universal popularity of Bill Clinton.  Slick Willie has been down to the Sunshine state several times to fundraise and politic with his boy Kendrick and will be back again sometime in the future.  I heard tell last week that Obama is fixin’ to go down shortly.  Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s right hand, recently headlined a fundraiser as the Administration looks to be step up it’s efforts to help a brotha out.

Kendrick’s polls improved once he made it clear that his opponent was not a real Democrat and that the source of his money is proof of the adage: behind every great fortune is a great crime.

I am convinced that Kendrick can win this thing if he woo’s back White Democrats and unifies the Democratic Party behind his candidacy. Some folk don’t believe that Kendrick is worth voting for.  For example, the bloggers over at Down With Tyranny have their boxers in a bunch over a few bad votes Kendrick cast over the last eight years.  I acknowledge their legitimate concerns and their distaste with his fundraising from lobbyists–black lobbyists in particular have rallied around him. To borrow a phrase from The Lady Chablis in Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil:  if Clinton and Obama can pull one over on progressives  by openly colluding with the corporate power structure, then Kendrick’s little corporate whoring around in Washington, DC, is not going to mean anything to good Democrats in Florida. Especially not when the alternatives are a wingnut, a soulless opportunist or a damn crook.

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.

“Victory”

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On the cusp of a landmark “victory” on health care reform, President Obama dramatically addressed a boisterous throng of well-wishers convinced that his industry written reforms constituted positive change. The President glowed and fed off the positive energy in the air. He seemed revitalized and renewed as the crowd roared its approval.  The president’s earnest entreaties are beguiling and difficult to resist.  The recession weary public desperately wants to believe that “change we can believe in” is at last on the way. It isn’t.

Many on the left in the progressive blogosphere believe that “change we can believe in” was killed in the crib. The corporate infanticide of change was facilitated by a conspiracy between the Administration and the insurance lobby that gutted the public option, instituted weak cost controls, enforced a mandate to buy private insurance and left the anti-trust exemption, which allows insurance companies to engage in the most egregious price gouging, largely intact.  The reality leaves me drained and dispirited.

The average black person I meet is trapped in a post inaugural cocoon of black pride.  Any constructive criticism of the President provokes a defensive scorn, as if you called their upstanding, god fearing, churchgoing grandmama a trifling whore.  The relationship between the Obamas and the black community is not political but familial. They meet every benchmark of acceptability and are like the new bougie couple that just joined the church that everybody wants to get to know. We see ourselves in them.  Unfortunately, we’ve become so lost in the reflection of ourselves that we failed to notice that the black community is drowning in an ocean of narcissistic b.s. and benign neglect.

The Stockholm syndrome is so profound that if the Congressional Black Caucus had determined to sink Health Care Reform without a public option, blackfolks would have eaten them alive.  Some folk seem to think that God put them here on earth to be Obama’s pep squad.  The President may be black, but he is also a politician like all those that came before him who told us what we wanted to hear and then broke their backs to do the bidding of their corporate paymasters.

The absence of a real urban agenda, what some refer to as a “black agenda,” is a festering wound that will never heal without progressive policy solutions that address the corporate theft of predatory lending, support for mass transit, massive infrastructure improvement,  job training programs, de-escalation of both the prison and military industrial complexes and support for public education.  The president has done some good work on the education piece with a reform of student loans, but much more needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the stimulus was a tremendous help in stabilizing the economy, but we are in such a deep hole that we need much more. Everybody knows that there ain’t no damn jobs out here. State budgets are still tight and teacher layoffs, public school closings, and the loss of thousands of state and local government jobs is still a daily reality. The president damn near had to fight the civil war all over again with some ignorant Republican from Kentucky just to extend unemployment benefits for a short time.

Here in the Carolinas, Republicans  in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to the eliminate  state support for the entire budget for HIV/AIDS  prevention and assistance. That also includes the AIDS drugs assistance program that provides a lifeline to HIV positive people who cannot afford their anti-retroviral medications.  Republicans are the same people that spread the death panels red herring they claimed was embedded in Obama’s health care reform bill that would “pull the plug on grandma.”

The political calculus implied by this heartless proposal is that the people in the program are not Republicans and that helping them extend the quality and duration of their lives is unnecessary and too expensive.  Given the disproportionate numbers of HIV infections in black South Carolinians (8 times that of Whites), the racial animus behind this move is crystal clear. South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new  HIV infections in the country and the Republicans in the South Carolina legislature would rather pretend that this isn’t a problem as HIV ravages the black community unchecked.

The Health Care Reform proposal making its way through congress will do nothing to stop state governments from making draconian choices like South Carolina.   I pray it will provide something commensurate in the way of relief for the victims of state sanctioned indifference.  Health Reform still leaves out 24 million people from coverage because health care, despite the histrionics of the socialist obsessed right-wing, is still not a right.

The gluttonous plutocracy that masquerades as American Democracy is alive and well. If we truly want the victory over our corporate overlords, we need to stop putting our trust in personalities and parties and stick with our principles.

The Health Care Reform Summit

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The Republicans didn’t bring anything but the standard right-wing talking points composed of lies, misinformation and fear. They didn’t bring any policy ideas because they believe tactically that they must scuttle reform in order to gain seats and possibly take back the congress this year. They lost the message war today because they had nothing to offer but a lame arse call to start the process over which is nothing more than their way of trying to kill reform.  Nobody with a brain bought the b.s. they were selling.

The Republican game was to look earnest in discussing health care reform with the president while offering nothing of substance. They used their time to pander to whitefolks fears. That is ultimately a losing strategy. It is a larger part of their strategy to demonize the president and scare the stupid into believing that the insurance companies and their outrageous premium increases and denials of care are as American as apple pie and something that they should accept instead of fight.

The president had policy, facts, and the American people on his side. The Republicans have fear. Fear lost today.  He handled his critics with his trademark grace.

The President elegantly byotch slapped John McCain during his angry tirade and told him gently but firmly, “…We’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.” Barack Obama is what class looks and sounds like.  The Republicans cannot reconcile themselves with that reality.   So instead they deal the race card from the bottom of the deck and call him condescending which is a sophisticated way of saying the president is an uppity nigra that doesn’t know his place.

I am disappointed that he didn’t use some time to defend the public option which I believe to be critical to achieving meaningful health care reform. I will be writing my senator to ask why she hasn’t signed onto the public option.   It is probably in vain but I’ll do it anyway because she needs to hear more voices from the black community.

The President clearly enunciated his goals today:

Rather than start at the outset talking about legislative process and what’s going to happen in the Senate and the House and this and that… let’s talk about the substance: How we might help the American people deal with costs, coverage, insurance, these other issues. And we might surprise ourselves and find out that we agree more than disagree. And that would then help to dictate how we move forward.

His evenhanded and calm moderation of a serious discussion belies the wingnut talking points that attempt to demonize the president by painting a portrait of a violent, dangerous, left-wing radical.  The president is a centrist politician that seeks to govern by consensus.  He is not divisive or disagreeable by nature.  Any attempt to make it seem so is disingenuous.

In my humble opinion, the President won the day hands down and should now proceed towards reconciliation which includes a public option without delay.

A few thoughts on the Tavis Smiley controversy

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I’ve seen some interesting commentary on Tavis Smiley deciding to bring back a black discussion forum on Obama’s. CPL over at Jack and Jill Politics and also Shanti over at WEE SEE YOU. Here is my take:

Given the remorseless hate, vitriolic racism and disingenuous histrionics that rain down on President Obama from the right, it is hard not to give in to the impulse to rally around the flag and reflexively defend his every action. Some on the left, especially the gay community, seem to think that projecting their hostility and frustration onto their Negro president, instead of fellow whites that have rejected every marriage referendum, will magically produce the civil rights they long for.

The same could be said of the “fauxgressives”—yawl’s word, frustrated by the health care stalemate. White fear, stoked by misinformation, is killing the progress that could be made in a progressive direction by this president. He has made some mistakes along the way. For example, he’s allowed himself to believe that he could work toward consensus with the insurance industry and bad actors on the right, but what really seems to be driving the debate about all things progressive are the ridiculous fears of some whitefolks that President Obama is somehow out to get them.

Support is collapsing for health care reform in some Democratic quarters on Capital Hill because some members of congress don’t have the intestinal fortitude to push back against the smears and are reluctant to confront the ignorance, racism and fear enveloping their constituents back home. They would rather cut and run or just plain cave in and validate the fear.

It is easy to be lulled into a sense of false security that an urbane, sophisticated, and intelligent President will come out on top no matter what happens, or that the compromises he inevitably makes will preserve the progressive change that people overwhelmingly voted for—that would be wrong. President Obama will only be as good as the pressure we apply. Holding the President accountable, as Tavis suggests, doesn’t mean that we don’t love and admire him and Michelle; it is that our love for them is not a substitute for progressive policy and will not sustain black and brown communities under siege by recession and centuries of racism and economic injustice.

While it is true that Barack Obama has done some great things, like the stimulus package, we need him to do some truly astounding things because times are so damn bad. In order for him to be the president we need him to be we can’t be afraid of criticizing him when it is warranted. Agreeing to a bailout of Wall Street with no strings attached was not the best move, lets be honest. Failing to stem the foreclosure crisis which is hitting black and brown communities particularly hard is yet another. Nobody has to like Tavis Smiley, you don’t even have to agree with him, but you should at least listen when he makes a valid point about a black agenda.

Let’s not mimic some whitefolks and project our anger and frustration over a lack of progressive progress onto those that don’t deserve it. We really ain’t mad at each other or Tavis Smiley for pointing out the lack of a black agenda. We’re mad at those on the right attempting to stymie what little progressive progress this president is willing to fight for. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are a little peeved with Obama for not fighting harder.

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.

President Obama: Dazed and Confused

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Embracing his inner Jimmy Carter, President Obama revealed a heretofore hidden personality yesterday: deficit hawk.   Green eyeshade firmly affixed, the president has the audacity to believe that his proposed $477 billion dollar spending freeze in the middle of the deepest recession in more than twenty-five years is something that will work.  It never has. He coulda asked President Carter.  Better yet he coulda looked in the mirror and asked himself.  Candidate Obama campaigned against John McCain’s spending freeze.

To the consternation of many, President Carter insisted on spending cuts to domestic discretionary programs as unemployment remained stubbornly high.  Like Obama, he had an electoral mandate that he squandered and Democratic majorities in both houses that he wasted.  He produced no lasting domestic policy accomplishments and presided over a large defense buildup that Reagan continued and took credit for. Ideologically, President Obama, like Jimmy Carter, has been all over the map and it’s hard to keep track.

Obama was against the war in Iraq and then took office and escalated the war in Afghanistan. He railed against the greed on Wall Street and proposed a targeted tax on the banks, but facilitated the bailout of the worst hedge fund speculators and the unconscionable greed of investment banker con artists.  He has done next to nothing to confiscate or put the breaks on record bonuses and payouts to the banksters as they tighten credit to small businesses and profess a let them eat cake attitude to the victims of their predatory loan schemes.

Both Presidents are decent men.  Both are gentlemen and scholars with a flair for the written word. They also have a moralistic predilection for making self-defeating statements or addresses like Carter’s Malaise speech or Obama’s statement that he’d rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.  We’ve seen this movie before and this is one celluloid disaster flick I’d rather not sit though. For the sake of the tender feelings of my dear Elie, I’m, not the only one that thinks so.

In his continually futile attempt to be all things to all people and to just simply be liked, Barack Obama has embraced the conservadem me-too approach that has helped many blue dog democrats blur the lines between Democrat and Republican and appeal to fickle independent voters unhappy about the sad state of the economy and the nation’s burgeoning debt.

That is a loosing proposition.  No matter what he does, the Republicans will scream bloody murder, call him a socialist, and blow dog whistles to the troglodyte right.  The Republicans are the enemy.  Period.  The President should stick to the somewhat progressive platform he campaigned on, get off his damn knees, stop kissing arses and tell the Republicans and their conservadem handmaidens to go straight to hell.  He does not have to submit to the hazing of the corporate media and the right-wing.  He controls the message. Its time the Obama White House acted like it.  I pray for all our sakes that they stop channeling a dazed and confused Carter Administration.

We’re in Hell

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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.

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