Jesse Jackson takes Obama to task over Jena 6

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Hat Tip: By Roddie A. Burris, the State

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called Tuesday on Democrats seeking the 2008 nomination for president to give S.C. voters “something to vote for” when they go to the polls in January.

On a statewide tour to register new voters, Jackson said South Carolina will determine “who has momentum” in the primary when it votes Jan. 29.

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La. Jackson, who also lives in Illinois, endorsed Obama in March, according to The Associated Press.

“If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said after an hour-long speech at Columbia’s historically black Benedict College.

“Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment,” said the iconic civil rights figure, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1965 Selma civil rights movement and was with King at his 1968 assassination.

Later, Jackson said he did not recall making the “acting like he’s white” comment about Obama, stressing he only wanted to point out the candidates had not seized on an opportunity to highlight the disproportionate criminal punishments black youths too often face.

Jackson also said Obama, who consistently has placed second in state and national polls behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, must be “bolder” in his political positions if he is to erase Clinton’s lead.

Jackson is the only African-American ever to carry South Carolina in a presidential primary election.

Obama’s South Carolina campaign pointed to a statement it released last week in which Obama called on the local Louisiana district attorney to drop the excessive charges brought in the case.

“When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy,” the Obama statement said. “It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions.”

Thousands from across the country, including some from Columbia, are expected to converge on the small town of Jena today to protest the “Jena 6” arrests.

Jackson told the 500 to 600 students in his audience at Benedict that “criminal injustice,” instead of a rope, is the pressing civil rights issue of their day, but that voting remained their strongest ally.

Your fight is not about ropes, it’s about hope,” Jackson said, blasting the flood of guns and violence he said permeates many black communities.

Civil rights, he said, has become the counterculture of the day rather than the prevailing culture. “You can’t call on the Justice Department anymore; it’s not there.”

Jackson, who became only the second major black candidate to run for president, won five primaries in his 1984 bid for the office, then 11 primaries and nearly 7 million votes in his 1988 run.

He said the 2008 presidential candidates must speak most directly to the pressing S.C. issues of housing, high tuition costs, health care and a plan to end the war in Iraq.

“The candidates have got to speak to South Carolina,” said Jackson, who was traveling also to S.C. State University in Orangeburg and to Charleston Tuesday evening before wrapping up his registration drive tonight in Aiken.

A Greenville native, Jackson said he hoped to register thousands of new voters during the statewide swing, which began Saturday in Rock Hill.

“Their votes must equal change,” he said, referring to residents in a state where only 1 in 4 eligible voters go to the polls. “I want to make sure the right agenda is being voted on in 2008.”

His approach worked for senior mass-communications major Darius Dior Porcher, 21, who graduated from famed Scotts Branch High School in Clarendon County, which produced the Briggs v. Elliott school desegregation case of 1954.

“The main thing when you speak to students is to get them to move,” Porcher said. “He moved students today. He got them to come down to the floor and register to vote.”

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Charges against Mychal Bell overturned in Jena 6 case

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Hat Tip: Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, USA Today 

NEW ORLEANS — A state appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the beating of a white schoolmate in the racially tense north Louisiana town of Jena.

Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday. He could have gotten 15 years in prison.

His conspiracy conviction in the December beating of student Justin Barker was already thrown out by another court.

Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, and four others were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Those charges brought widespread criticism that blacks were being treated more harshly than whites after racial confrontations and fights at Jena High School.

Bell’s attorney Louis Scott said he didn’t know whether his client, whose bond was set at $90,000, would get out of jail immediately.

“We don’t know what approach the prosecution is going to take — whether they will re-charge him, where he would have to be subjected to bail all over again or not,” Scott said.

Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, had been planning a rally in support of the teens for the day Bell was to have been sentenced.

“Although there will not be a court hearing, we still intend to have a major rally for the Jena Six and now hopefully Mychal Bell will join us,” Sharpton said in an e-mailed statement.

Said Jackson: “The pressure must continue until all six boys are set free and sent to school, not to jail.”

Jena, La., is a mostly white town where racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. There followed reports of racial fights at the school, culminating in the December attack on Barker.

The reversal of Bell’s conviction will not affect four other teenagers also charged as adults, because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight and no longer considered juveniles, said attorney George Tucker of Hammond.

Prosecutors have the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court. District Attorney Reed Walters did not return a call Friday.

Judge J.P. Mauffray had thrown out Bell’s conspiracy conviction, saying it was not a charge on which a juvenile may be tried as an adult. But he had let the battery conviction stand, saying Bell could be tried in adult court because the charge was among lesser charges included in the original attempted murder charge.

Teenagers can be tried as adults in Louisiana for some violent crimes, including attempted murder, but aggravated battery is not one of those crimes, the court said.

Defense lawyers had argued that the aggravated battery case should not have been tried in adult court once the attempted murder charge was reduced.

The case “remains exclusively in juvenile court,” the Third Circuit ruled.

The Audacity of Ambivalence

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Twenty-three years ago, I was transformed by the presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson.  I became the political animal that haunts this blog with sporadic amounts of humor and cynicism.  The campaign became a coming of age that should define a generation of us in our mid-thirties. The rhetoric of the campaign was uplifting and edifying in a spiritual way and inspired a new generation of African American politicians great and small.    

In his convention address, Jesse said, “No generation can choose the age or circumstance in which it is born, but through leadership it can choose to make the age in which it is born an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, and peace, and justice. Only leadership — that intangible combination of gifts, the discipline, information, circumstance, courage, timing, will and divine inspiration — can lead us out of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Leadership can mitigate the misery of our nation. Leadership can part the waters and lead our nation in the direction of the Promised Land. Leadership can lift the boats stuck at the bottom.” 

After seven years of movement conservative disaster, America is looking for a leader that can heal our land and lead us toward what Dr. King described as the beloved community, “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” The beloved community is an ideal founded on the biblical principle embodied by the commandment to, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The opening salvos of this Presidential campaign was a period of assessment in which we could go to our quiet place, commune with ourselves, and reflect on what it is that our President should embody besides white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.   

Over $100 million dollars has been raised by just two of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and I find myself wondering, “is this it?”  “Is this shit all there is?”  I really don’t need to hear more deceptive rhetoric masquerading as courage and understanding. Quoting Big Mama’s favorite bible verse is not gonna cut it this year. I need to get a sense that there is a plan for progressive transformation behind the Machiavellian mask.  

Hiding deep in the recesses of their rhetoric should be some amalgamation of the hopes, fears, and wild aspirations of the average working class person.  What we’ve all been hearing for the last six months is the emotionless recitation of the same broken promises that we threw our votes away for the last four times.  Playing it safe in order to keep power is what got us here to start with and placating the establishment so that it facilitates the rise to the ultimate power of the Presidency is not my idea of radical transformation.   

Creeping up inside of my listless and dispirited soul is a powerful melancholy because we’ve been on the smooth glide path toward plutocracy for over a century and nothing in the last twenty-five years has slowed down the process.  Instead, what we’ve seen is an acceleration of the total corporate hegemony over our democracy.  

I am incapable of realizing the eminent death of our democracy and the moribund nature of national democratic leadership while smiling optimistically into the face of Barack Obama as the physical embodiment of my youthful idealism and the personification of my adult ambivalence.   

While Rev. Jackson paid homage to this nation’s diversity, America is not like a blanket — one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt: many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread. The white, the Hispanic, the black, the Arab, the Jew, the woman, the native American, the small farmer, the businessperson, the environmentalist, the peace activist, the young, the old, the lesbian, the gay, and the disabled make up the American quilt.” 

“Even in our fractured state, all of us count and fit somewhere. We have proven that we can survive without each other. But we have not proven that we can win and make progress without each other. We must come together.” 

Obama tipped his hat to a white vision of race-less, class-less American-ness, “…there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”  

Common ground can never be reached by a pander bear reaching out to people blinded by willful ignorance and deliberate racial amnesia.

I am angry that  Rev. Jackson has bequeathed the legacy of his progressive imprimatur to a man with the audacity to deny the necessity for slave reparations.    

I am angry that Obama is content to go through the motions of opposition while leaving reactionary power arrangements intact. 

I am angry that Obama claims the mantle of the biblical Joshua and then secretly  dons the robes of a Pharaoh.  

I am angry that our system of presidential selection is a closed process of capitalist kabuki dancing that is all calibrated to telegraph the non-threatening intentions of the contenders to the white power structure so that they may choose the most willing corporate whore.  

I am angry that my voice no longer matters and that the hunger for true leadership is turned against us so that we’re forced to accept Wall Street’s favorite ventriloquist dummy as our President.  

I am angry that identity politics is no longer a means of empowerment but an instrument of our oppression.  

I am angry that my youthful idealism is in reality a childish delusion.  

I am angry that I am losing my willingness to stay in this country and fight the forces of reaction that are devouring our planet and killing our people.  

I am angry that my writing and local activism isn’t enough.   

I am angry that the one man that speaks to my frustration, Dennis Kucinich, is marginalized, belittled and ignored.

I am angry that I am still just one lonely voice as powerless after 225,000 site views as I was the very first day I posted over a year ago when nobody was listening. For me, the thrill of politics, the driving passion of my life, is gone.

CBS AXES IMUS

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 IMUS BLOWS (ON) IT

HAT TIP:  AP NEW YORK – CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show Thursday, the finale to a stunning fall for one of the nation’s most prominent broadcasters.

Imus initially was given a two-week suspension, to start Monday, for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his programs.

“There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. “That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”

Rutgers women’s basketball team spokeswoman Stacey Brann said the team did not have an immediate comment on Imus’ firing but would be issuing a statement later Thursday evening.

Time Magazine once named the cantankerous broadcaster as one of the 25 Most Influential People in America, and he was a member of the National Broadcaster Hall of Fame.

But Imus found himself at the center of a storm after his comments. Protests ensued, and one by one, sponsors pulled their ads from Imus’ show. On Wednesday, MSNBC dropped the simulcast of Imus’ show.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson met with Moonves to advocate Imus’ removal, promising a rally outside CBS headquarters Saturday and an effort to persuade more advertisers to abandon Imus.Sumner Redstone, chairman of the CBS Corp. board and its chief stockholder, told Newsweek that he had expected Moonves to “do the right thing,” although it wasn’t clear what he thought that was.

Hillary’s Catch 22

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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Nominee. Now, more than ever, that is a debatable proposition. Work with me. Y’all with me? O.K. It’s July 2008 and Hillary, who 50% of the American people are adamantly opposed to voting for, is facing a decison about a Vice President.

Hopefully can we agree that Barack Obama, regardless of his flaws and evasions from the progressive black consensus, has earned consideration for Vice President. Even if we don’t agree, I think the majority of African Americans believe that. If Obama continues on as he has and comes close, but falls short of the mark in the primaries and Hillary doesn’t choose him to be her VP, Black folk are gonna be, as Momma says, “much pissed.” You see, Obama is who my mother is for. I view Momma as kind of an “everyblackwoman” and can gauge a lot of things accurately by her responses. Momma made it plain that she, “don’t want her” [Hillary].

Dukakis before her had a similar decision regarding Jesse Jackson in 1988 and his poor handling of that politically charged and delicate decision resulted in the lowest share of black support for a Democratic nominee in quite some time. A lot of black folk just sat on their hands at home and let him twist in the wind. Being white and female however, is a different situation.

The woman pictured above with Hillary is former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest daughter of former Senator Robert F. Kennedy. A popular figure, she blew her big chance at the corner office in 2002 when she chose a republican as her running mate instead of a number of qualified black elected officials. That was perceived as a slight by the African American community that had never elected anybody to statewide office. It was a weakness that Bob Ehrlich deftly exploited by choosing Michael Steele, a corporate lawyer and freelance Uncle Tom, as his running mate.

It is interesting that in a democratic state with one of the most affluent black suburbs in the nation, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend didn’t feel free to choose an African American as her running mate for fear that she couldn’t win. Race, as much as we like to deny it, is still the elephant in the room. Some people just can’t wash that white woman/Mandingo taboo outta their hair. Black folks responded to that by either turning out in lower numbers or voting in higher than normal numbers for the ticket with the brotha on it.

I don’t harbor any illusions about who and what both Hillary and Barack represent. They are both servants of the multi-national corporate power structure. Politically speaking though, Obama’s candidacy represents a cross-roads for African American Democrats. If he is spurned, the relationship between African Americans and the Democratic Party will be irreparably damaged.

Will Hillary make the same mistakes as Dukakis and Townsend? She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t in some respects. Only time will tell. Talk to me. Don’t hold back.

Barack’s Betrayal

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Barack Obama, displaying his peerless skills as a courtier in Rich Daley’s racist court, endorsed the Mayor in his bid against a qualified, competent, and honest opponent: Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown“I had made a determination well before the exploration of my presidential candidacy that this was the right thing to do.  I am a Chicagoan.  I care about the city.  This is where I live. This is where my wife works.  This is where my kids go to school, and I want to continue to see the city make the progress it has made.” By turning his back, he shows his true colors to anybody intelligent enough to see the import of this endorsement for what it is: a betrayal of justice and a betrayal of the black community.

 

The politically astute could see this coming because the Mayor’s brotha Bill Daley, a former Clinton Commerce Secretary, was added to the Obama campaign payroll in an “advisory” capacity. Obama really believes what the pundits breathlessly write about him and was duty bound to return the corrupt favor to the Daley regime.

 

Some of you might say, “It’s just politics,” or “He has to cut deals to get to the next level.”  To that, I would ask, who does he step on to elevate himself to the Presidency? And by what right does he spend political capital to endorse Rich Daley and spit in the face of the black community? These questions are best answered by examining the political culture of Chicago and by revealing in explicit detail the victims of Daley’s regime and Obama’s ambition.

 

CHICAGO’S POLITICAL CULTURE OF WHITE SUPREMACY & CORRUPTION

 

During Harold Washington’s historic campaign for Mayor of Chicago in 1983, he was introduced at an event by a preacher as, “an amalgamation of all the good qualities of past mayors. There were no good qualities to be had, Washington said upon taking the podium, Daley included: “He was a racist to the core, head to toe, hip to hip, there’s no ding or doubt about it. He eschewed and fought and oppressed black people to the point that some thought that was the way they were supposed to live, just like some slaves on the plantation thought that that was the way they were supposed to live. I give no hosannas to a racist, nor did I appreciate or respect his son. If his name were anything other than Daley, his campaign would be a joke.”

 

The general election campaign against Harold Washington in 1983 was hands down the most racist in Chicago history. Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Vrdolyak succinctly put the naked hostility and public revulsion expressed by the white community at the prospect of having a black mayor by saying, “It’s a racial thing. Don’t kid yourself. I’m calling on you to save your city, to save your precinct. We’re fighting to keep the city the way it is.” (Controlled by white ethnics) 

 

Washington defeated Incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne andCook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, son of the legendary mayor in the Democratic primary.After the primary, neither lifted a finger for Harold Washington. Their white supporters and the Democratic machine outside of black precincts defected en masse to the Republican challenger, Bernard Epton.

 

From Gary Rivlin’s book “Fire on the Prairie,” “Whites attending Epton rallies startled reporters with their frank comments about not wanting a nigger mayor. They held up signs calling Washington a “crook” and took to wearing a variety of political buttons decidedly racial in appeal: one showed a watermelon with a black slash through it, another was simply all white. VOTE WHITE, VOTE RIGHT one popular T-shirt boldly proclaimed.”…They passed out literature saying, “You will be robbed or killed. White women will be raped. With a black police chief there will be absolute chaos in the city.” 

 

Washington’s first three years as Mayor were marked by a bitter and protracted battle with a white cabal of Alderman for political primacy.Stung by their loss of access to the power of the Mayor’s office and the political patronage that serves as the lifeblood of a ward heeler, they reacted like spoiled children and became obstructionists hell bent on crippling Washington’s authority. They hurled racist insults and taunts dripping with homophobic invective toward the Mayor. Moreover, they conspired with a compliant media in a racially motivated PR campaign to stoke white fears in an effort to stymie Administration initiatives.

 

The swirling cauldron of white racial animosity towards the black community shaped the politics of Chicago then and still shapes it today.  Two years ago, the Daley machine that seized power after the death of Harold Washington wouldn’t give Barack Obama the time of day during his run for the Senate. 

 

In keeping with the tenants of racial preferences and political nepotism for their own, they endorsed Dan Hynes, the son of Tom Hynes, an acolyte of the Daleys and pinstripe bigot who challenged Mayor Washington’s re-election by running against him as an independent. Now, when Obama’s star shines brightly enough to put the lights out on Daley’s re-election as Mayor, they endorse him for President.  How convenient.   

 

CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: KLANSMEN IN UNIFORM

 

July of last year saw the release of a whitewash report by Special Prosecutor Edward Egan, which was the culmination of four years of investigation and $7 million in taxpayer funds.  The report acknowledges, according to a new standard news report, “clear proof that torture took place at Area Two, a 60 square mile police district on the city’s south side,” during the 70’s and 80’s.

 

Kari Lydersen, a staff writer for New Standard News wrote, “Significantly the report lacked any mention of the racial component which some critics saw as the most important facet of the case.  Almost all of the 60-plus men who claimed to have been tortured by [Jon]Burge and other officers are black; the officers were all white.  Alleged widespread racism on the part of officers was just part of an overall racist justice system; in the 1970s Chicago prosecutors were known to compete in a game called “niggers by the pound” to see who could convict the most black defendants.

 

From the website of the University of Chicago’s Police Torture Archive: Between the years of 1972 and 1991, approximately [192] African American Men and women were arrested and tortured at the hands of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command at Area 2 police headquarters.  Some of these victims were as young as thirteen years old. Various court cases have established that the methods of torture used in the interrogation of suspects included electric shock to the ears and genitalia, mock executions, suffocation, and burning. While Jon Burge was ultimately fired by the Chicago Police Department, not a single perpetrator of the tortures has ever been criminally prosecuted.  Ten of those tortured were sent to death row. 

 

According to the Chicago Reader, “More than 50 men alleged that they were tortured by Burge and his detectives during Daley’s term asCook County state’s attorney, from 1981 to 1989. He was put on notice several times, most dramatically in the case of Andrew Wilson. Photographs of Wilson’s stitches, burns, and alligator- clip wounds made compelling evidence in court, underlined by [DA]Hyman’s failure to ask if Wilson had given his statement voluntarily. Received copy of letter from Dr. John Raba, who as medical director of Cermak Hospital examined Wilson’s injuries, urging police superintendent Richard Brzeczek to investigate. Brzeczek told Daley he had promised to investigate all cases of police brutality but did not want to jeopardize Wilson’s prosecution and asked for guidance. Daley sent no reply.” 

 

Daley’s tenure as prosecutor is stained by his craven capitulation to an electorate and a power structure in thrall to an ideology of white supremacist hate.  Prosecuting police officers for their sadistic torturing of black criminal suspects, and their prosecutor enablers on his staff would have permanently put an end to his political support in the white ethnic wards of Chicago that still had fond memories of the brutal repression of anti-Vietnam political dissent at the 1968 Democratic National Convention ordered by Daddy Daley. Ultimately, Daley’s power rests on a foundation of deliberate indifference. 

 

I don’t care how many handkerchief head Nigras Daley surrounds himself with.  I don’t care how many Negroes people his Administration. I don’t care how many Negroes show up to his re-election press conference to create an illusion of inclusion.  I don’t care that Michelle Obama worked for Daley and treated her well. What he has done cannot and will never atone for this. Dorothy Brown finally realized that and has asked U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to investigateand prosecute the Klansmen in uniform responsible for these crimes. 

 

On the Senate floor, Barack Obama opposed the Military Commissions Act because it gave short shrift to the rights of foreign terror suspects. He said, “…the fundamental human rights of the accused, should be bigger than politics. This is serious and this is somber…”  If he really meant that, he would be defending those same rights here at home, not endorsing a man who repeatedly turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the screams of scores of black men tortured by those sworn to protect and serve white supremacy in a south side Abu Ghraib.

 

From important quarters in the black community, we’ve heard a cacophony of uncritical praise. Jesse Jackson and the black press are simply delusional, and the black Chicago political establishment has clearly been corrupted.  Nothing else explains their cavalier attitude regarding Obama turning his back on Dorothy Brown, black victims of torture, the black community, and quite frankly, himself.

 

Debra Dickerson claims that Barack Obama’s heritage is not African American.  Born the child of a Kenyan and a white woman, he lacks the cultural legacy of a descendant of slaves. Moreover, she believes that because his upbringing was managed by white relatives that we have nothing in common.  It is my contention that the sistah is mistaken.  Barack Obama is an indentured servant to the Daley machine and a slave to his own ambition. In the new millennium, becoming a willing tool and psychological servant to a corrupt white power structure is very African American.

 

I expect better from a former community organizer, constitutional law professor, and civil rights attorney than the politics of expediency.

 

 

 

 

OBAMA, SHARPTON AND THE LEGACY OF KING

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“And so we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with an enthusiasm that enables us to rally support for them based on confidence and trust. We will have to demand high standards and give consistent, loyal support to those who merit it.  We will have to be a reliable constituency for those who prove themselves to be committed political warriors in our behalf. When our movement has partisan political personalities whose unity with their people is unshakable and whose independence is genuine, they will be treated in white political councils with the respect those who embody such power deserve. ” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

As we profess to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr this week, we should be mindful of his words. As the leader of a movement tasked with dealing with politicians large and small, he came to become intimately familiar with human nature and the psyche of the black politician. He came to understand what made each tick and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Barack Obama has taken a step this week on a journey that no other African American has ever been on. It is a step leading to the precipice of ultimate power: the Presidency. We, along with the entire world, will get a chance to see what this brotha is really made of. Unlike the dashing enigma that some in the corporate media have portrayed him to be, in reality, he is nothing of the sort.  

His path to power has been eased by his gracious personality and his craven political accommodations to those of greater power. His unique positioning in the field of 2008 contenders is both calculated and largely deceptive. While Senator Obama is one of us, his candidacy is not from us. 

This boom-let of uncritical and fawning praise and publicity culminating in his announcement for President is not a creation of the black community. We actually chose Jesse Jackson. He spoke for an undiluted consensus of black political thought. He did so eloquently and forthrightly despite the enormity of his vanity and ego. In contrast, Al Sharpton’s political persona is substantially weaker and his vanity, ego, and manifold character flaws are even greater. However, the substance of his critique of the Democratic Party as an institution which takes African Americans for granted is valid. Obama, on the other hand, speaks for those to whom he is indebted.   

Dr. King was insightful when he wrote, “The majority of Negro political leaders do not ascend to prominence on the shoulders of mass support. Although genuinely popular leaders are now emerging, most are selected by white leadership, elevated to position, supplied with resources, and inevitably subjected to white control. The mass of Negroes nurtures a healthy suspicion toward these manufactured leaders.” 

Obama is a manufactured leader who has allowed himself to be advanced by a cabal of media elites and “DLC centrist” political actors determined to choose an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Those of us in the progressive black blogosphere have ample reasons to be suspicious of brotha Barack. While it is important to examine what a politician stands for, it is just as important to examine who stands behind them pulling the strings.

Standing foursquare behind Senator Obama is the Chicago Daley machine.  The Daley machine of old led by their father, and the Daley machine of today, have always stood for the maximization of white ethnic political power and the subjugation of minority communities to their corporate backed rule. As I’ve said before, Mayor Daley has endorsed Obama for President in a self-serving power move designed to eliminate the looming black threat against his re-election in a metropolis that long ceased to be majority white. His brotha Bill Daley, the former Gore Campaign Chairman and Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration, has also come aboard ship Obama, signing on as a senior advisor.

In the Daley Machine of old, the contenders had to make a great show of coming to Chicago and kissing daddy’s ring.  During that time, he controlled the Illinois delegation of convention delegates to the Democratic National Convention. His active support was usually critical and his active efforts in 1960 led to JFK’s narrow win over Nixon.  Today, the Daley brothers exercise that power as a team.

Mayor Daley heads a Chicago political fiefdom in which he is virtually unchallenged.  He has maintained that control by buying off black elected officials with patronage and pork barrel projects and by shamelessly catering to rapacious corporate interests.  He issued his first Veto in 17 years as Mayor to prevent the City of Chicago from mandating that Wal-Mart and other big box retailers pay living wages of at least $10.00 an hour.       He did this despite an accumulation of over $78.9 billion in assets for Wal-Mart’s founding family. 

Mayor Daley’s brotha Bill Daley negotiated NAFTA on behalf of the Clinton Administration and PNTR with China.  These, and other regressive free trade packages advanced by the corporate friendly Clinton Administration facilitated the ongoing destruction of America’s manufacturing base by shipping jobs to Mexico and other developing nations better suited to paying workers poverty wages and leaving Americans unemployed.  He is now the Chicago front-man for the investment banking firm of JPMorgan. 

Obama’s vote for the Oman free trade agreement is probably the source of Bill Daley’s enthusiasm and should be a basis for progressive skepticism. Oman prohibits union organizing and is nothing more than a top down dictatorship with a record of human rights abuses. Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis as he supported a strike by black sanitation workers for living wages and collective bargaining rights. It is an affront to King’s legacy and contrary to his dream to support right-wing trade agreements that fail to uphold people’s basic human right to a living wage.

Political Scientist Michael Parenti has postulated that “American capitalism represents more than just an economic system; it is an entire cultural and social order, a plutocracy — that is, a system of rule by and for the rich — for the most part.”  Now that Obama’s moderate, mealy-mouthed political manifesto has met with critical acclaim and made him a millionaire, he is acceptable to the ruling class as a colored proxy and Trojan horse for their malevolent interests.  

During the contentious debate over the nomination of dangerous black reactionary Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nations second highest and most important appellate court besides the Supreme Court itself, Obama said, “I am not somebody who subscribes to the view that because somebody is a member of a minority group they somehow have to subscribe to a particular ideology or a particular political party. I think it is wonderful that Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans, and others are represented in all parties and across the political spectrum. When such representation exists, then those groups are less likely to be taken for granted by any political party.”  Part of that statement contains a kernel of truth but also reveals a stunning lack of insight about liberation movements and  progressive social change. Nobody tasted freedom by becoming an Uncle Tom reactionary.

None of the groups he has mentioned has been unscathed by a bald-faced economic, social, and politically directed racism meant to subjugate them under a paternalistic white hand. His lack of fortitude in filibustering the nominations of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and Appellate Judges like Clarence Thomas Clone Janice Rogers Brown, reveal a political moderation that goes against the progressive grain of the black political consensus and a capitulation to the contemporary forces of reaction.  

This betrayal and lack of fortitude make him palatable to the teeming masses of white political activists yearning for the chance to wave their support of Obama in our faces as proof of their liberalism while the racist underpinnings of our imperialistic domestic and foreign policy remain intact.  I believe in the old adage “show and prove.”  Both Obama and the liberal white blogosphere must do copious amounts of both before they are “absolved of all sin” by me.  His run for the White House was paved by the efforts of Jesse Jackson and the black community 20 years ago. Obama has yet to show himself worthy.

While Jesse Jackson was at heart a black politician and part-time preacher in search of political legitimacy. Al Sharpton is a street hustler with a clerical collar in search of a better hustle. If that means partially representing the black political consensus by running for President while simultaneously living the high life on campaign funds solicited by GOP operatives trying to embarrass and weaken the democratic party, he seems to be O.K. with that.  That, in a nutshell, describes Reverend Al’s 2004 Presidential bid.

Al is always getting in bed with disreputable people he has no business dealing with in an unscrupulous effort to make a damn dollar.   Rhetorically however, he comes closer to being on point than most of his so-called mainstream brethren.  He sounds the right notes at the right times from an undiluted, and politically honest sheet of authentically black music. 

“This is not about a party. This is about living up to the promise of America. The promise of America says we will guarantee quality education for all children and not spend more money on metal detectors than computers in our schools.”  

“The promise of America guarantees health care for all of its citizens and doesn’t force seniors to travel to Canada to buy prescription drugs they can’t afford here at home.”   

“The promise of America provides that those who work in our health care system can afford to be hospitalized in the very beds they clean up every day.”  

“The promise of America is that government does not seek to regulate your behavior in the bedroom, but to guarantee your right to provide food in the kitchen.”  

“The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it’s to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen.” 

“The promise of America [is] that we stand for human rights, whether it’s fighting against slavery in the Sudan, …AIDS in Lesotho; (or)… police misconduct in this country.”  

For the aforementioned reasons, I feel it necessary to sanction another run by Al Sharpton. America, especially black America, could use a sober dose of candor regarding race and its relationship to the Democratic Party.  While this falls far, far, short of an endorsement, I feel his presence necessary to articulate what Obama always fails to say.  If for no other reason, I relish the chance to see Sharpton “spank the donkey” one more time.  If he has to slap some damn rhetorical and policy sense into Barack Obama in the process, so be it.  If nothin’ else, it might keep Barack honest enough for black folks to eventually support and honor the legacy and dream of a King.