Kagan confirmed 63-37

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Hat Tip: By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.

The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed

Justice Elena Kagan

retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan.

Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said.

Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country.

Kagan is the first Supreme Court nominee in nearly 40 years with no experience as a judge, and her swearing-in will mark the first time in history that three women will serve on the nine-member court together.

Her lack of judicial experience was the stated reason for one fence-sitting Republican, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, to announce his opposition to Kagan’s confirmation Thursday, just hours before the vote.

“The best umpires, to use the popular analogy, must not only call balls and strikes, but also have spent enough time on the playing field to know the strike zone,” Brown said.

In my skeptical opinion, Scott Brown cast a political vote wholly without merit in order to preserve his future political viability as a Republican presidential candidate.

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“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.

I want the public option, dammit

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I want the public option, dammit.

I’m tired of sharecropping on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s corporate plantation.

I’m tired of weak politicians that don’t have the courage of their convictions.

I’m tired of the lies, misinformation, ignorance, and racial fears that stupid people cling to for dear life. Some folk would opt to place their lives in the hands of corporate predators hungry for excessive profits rather than trust Barack Obama or a public option no different than the Medicare they trust already.

I’m tired of people dying unnecessarily.

I’m tired of being sick and tired. My patience is damn near gone.

I’m tired of trusting Negroes who believe that everything will be alright as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

But most of all I am tired of politicians with two faces telling the public that they support the public option at the same time that they’re a cutting deal in a Capitol Hill backroom to kill the very thing they say their for.

This is your life, y’all. Don’t let your member of Congress get away with lying to your face and stabbing you in the back. Fight. Support the public option because your life, or someone you love, might one day depend on it.

Devil’s Advocate bows out

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The unspeakable evil that is Harold Ford, Jr. has formally ended his “exploratory campaign” challenging Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  Let the Church say, Amen.  There has never been a corporate whore more skilled in the art of seduction as Harold Ford, Jr.  He was so close to regaining a foothold on power. Ford’s bid collapsed under the weight of his opportunistic lies, galactic narcissism, rank hypocrisy and the threat of a general election challenge from the right in the person of Billionaire New York Daily News Owner Mortimer “My-Only-Concern-Is-Israel” Zuckerman.   I hope The Devil’s Advocate slithers back to the pit of Hell and den of Wall Street thieves from whence he came.

The Devil’s advocate made a triumphant return to MSNBC’s Morning Joe today. Mika all but threw her panties at Harold as he walked on set and eagerly complied with her request for a kiss in a way that made it seem there might be an assignation in their future.  It went downhill from there.

Wall Street’s crown prince of deception put on a brave face as he gravely recounted his brief foray into the rough and tumble of New York politics. Harold laid it on thick as he described his harrowing trial by fire as the victim of party bosses and unnamed insiders maneuvering against an altruistic bid to push Kirsten Gillibrand down a flight of stairs so that he could better serve the people of New York.

Joe Scarborough and Newsweek’s John Meacham played their assigned roles as keepers of the flame of Harold’s burning ambition. Poor Melissa Harris Lacewell could hardly get a word in edgewise and never laid a glove on the pedicured prince. Mika, delirious with jungle fever, acted as though MSNBC hired her to play footsie with Harold under the table. After it was over, I ran to the bathroom and blew chunks into the toilet.

The Devil’s advocate is biding his time.    I see a UN Ambassadorship in his future.  If Hillary is serious about serving just one tour as Secretary of State, and Susan Rice is elevated to succeed her, there will be a vacancy at the UN. Harold would be the perfect fit.  The UN Ambassador’s stately Manhattan residence has cachet and is the perfect place to cement his ties to the powerbrokers of New York. Moreover, he could shamelessly showcase his fealty to Israel’s war crimes and seal the cracks left by Kirsten Gillibrand’s brief flirtation with J Street, AIPAC’s moderate rival for the leadership of the Israel lobby.

Kirsten’s foolish schoolgirl flirtation with a dangerous J Street thug and Harold’s brief challenge left the door open for Mort-My-Only-Concern-Is-Israel-Zuckerman to challenge Gillibrand from the right.  It is clear that the Devil’s Advocate expects Gillibrand to lose and for a 78-year-old Mortimer Zuckerman to stand down in six years.

Senator Gillibrand just appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show in rebuttal to the Devil’s Advocate.  The gloating over her vanquished Negro rival was short lived and she had no real answer to the question of how she could defeat a billionaire’s bankroll. Andrea’s questions stripped Gillibrand naked in front of a national audience and her manifest weakness as a candidate was made plain. Girlfriend is doomed.

The battle is not over and the saga continues.

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.

Harold Ford’s gay marriage reversal is a bad omen

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Writing of Harold Ford in the past, I have made snarky references to the fundamentalist end times theology in the book of Revelations about the Antichrist and the Omen trilogy of horror films. I make no apology because the evil that the corporate whore from Tennessee represents cannot be understated by my use of a provocative rhetorical device.

That said, I think if somebody were to check underneath Harold’s fade, I sincerely believe you’d find a 666 birthmark in the back of his head. The way Harold has effortlessly revived his political career in the most cutthroat place imaginable and become a contender for New York Senate seat is, to be frank, fu*#ing scary. He pushed up and outmaneuvered the top dog in New York politics, Chuck Schumer, like a seasoned ward heeler.

The last several months of maneuvering reads like the script from the Omen. To review, the son of Satan is “born” to an influential political family and the minions of the devil eliminate all obstacles and kill off all people that seek to thwart his rise to the presidency and his eventual dominion over the earth.

Yesterday’s nakedly political and deeply disingenuous reversal on Same Sex Marriage is just further evidence that Harold Ford Jr is a congenital liar that will say or do anything to beat Kirsten Gillibrand’s political career to death.

In October of 2006, right in the middle of his fevered Tennessee Senate Race, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay unions had to be recognized under the state’s constitution. A majority of the court left it up to the legislature to design what shape the recognition would take. After the decision was announced, Harold Ford Jr released the following statement:

I do not support the decision today reached by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage, and have voted twice in Congress to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. This November there’s a referendum on the Tennessee ballot to ban same-sex marriage – I am voting for it.

Harold’s position, as wrong as two left shoes, was unequivocal. Gillibrand’s people have done some good work in poisoning the well against Harold because of his positions on choice and same sex marriage. He finally responded. On the Today Show the demonic spawn said, “My support for fairness and equality existed long before I moved to New York.”

Bull*hit

He continued spinning the lie after being asked if this was a major change. He said, “Maybe in the language.” “…But I’m a believer that benefits should flow to same sex partners and if indeed the fiction of the language, the title, should be changed, much like Chuck Schumer who changed his mind on it and Bill Clinton’s evolved, I’m of the opinion now that nothing is wrong with that.”

The following clip must be seen to be believed. It puts to bed any notion of Harold’s veracity.

The Whore must defeat NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand because she stands in the way of Harold’s nefarious designs on the seat of ultimate power. Moreover, he is running to put himself into a position to one day become President.

Everything seems to be falling into place in the complicated chess game that is New York identity politics.

Last week, according to the New York Times, Al Sharpton and Ford, “chatted warmly for about 10 minutes. Mr. Sharpton did not seek to discourage Mr. Ford from running, and recommended that he begin to reach out to the state’s black leaders and clergy.”

They end the article by telling us, “Mr. Ford will be the keynote speaker next month at the conference of the state’s Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.” And that the organization’s leader believes Harold will encounter a “receptive” audience as he debuts before the state’s Black and Latino establishment.

Taken together, these developments are a bad omen indeed.