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.

The more things change…

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Please give a warm welcome to TripLBee,  Skeptical Brotha’s newest contributor.

By TripLBee, Contributor

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Remember 1993? A charismatic young President rode into the White House in shining armor, liberating our tired and weary masses from 12 years of right-wing tyranny. We were giddy. We were hopeful. We were naive.

Within days of taking office, Bill Clinton gave us a clue as to the kind of President we could expect. Having campaigned on a promise to integrate the military, he promptly compromised his GLBT constituency with the ludicrous and triangulating “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. For GLBTs the abrupt about face may have been more aptly described as the “Don’t Trust This Mutha@#$%^& As Far As You Can Throw Him” policy.

Fast-forward 16 years. Another charismatic young President extricates Americans from the grip of a crazed GOP. He is handsome. He is “articulate and clean.” He sports a brilliant and beautiful wife, and two of the cutest kids on the planet. He quotes Jay Z and Jesus in the same speech. He is perfect. He seems too good to be true. Perhaps because he is.

Among the many promises he makes is one to overturn a Jim Crow redux, euphemistically titled the “Defense of Marriage Act.” This act essentially demotes GLBT couples to legally sanctioned second-class citizenship. Cut it and slice it any way you will, this is the essence of the legislation. Those of us concerned about basic civil and human rights are heartened that our new President is set to undo such palpable wrongs. Only he isn’t.

It took our perfect Prez only a few weeks to cause us some concern.

He’s extending the pull out date in Iraq by a year? Ummmm….okay, I guess.

What? He’s tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan, the graveyard of Empires? Oh dear.

He’s pumping money into the biggest banks in the country, but he’s not requiring them to fire their bosses, cap their pay or change the way they conduct their business? Now I am really confused!

Of course we’ve made excuses for our new Prez. Who did we think we were getting after all? Che Guevarra? Look, he’s gotta compromise a little bit. I mean, he has to govern 300 million people, many of them former Republicans. He’s gotta throw em a bone every once in a while. Right?

At some point however, compromise becomes a stale rationalization for “politics as usual.” By filing a friend of the court brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, President Barack Obama has officially become a typical Democrat.

This is a sad day indeed for those of us contributed to his campaign, knocked on doors until our knuckles bled and worked the phone banks until we were hoarse. Many of us, myself included, expected this brother to be different. So far he has proven himself to be smarter, more charming, and slightly more daring than the average bear. But in some fundamental ways, he’s no different.

Born to a white mother and black father in 1961, Obama was literally illegal in 17 states. His parents’ marriage would not have been recognized in many parts of the country. I wonder what they would think if they could see their baby defending state sanctioned bigotry?

And here’s the rub. He didn’t have to do it. He could have told his lawyers to take the day off and play golf. He could have told them to call in sick. Whatever pathetic excuse he has concocted, he didn’t have to go out of his way to spit in the faces of his GLBT supporters. He claims that he had to file the brief because the Defense of Marriage Act is federal law. Well, abortion is a constitutionally protected right. Did you see Bush filing friend of the court briefs when protections for abortion were being challenged in the courts? Nope. Bush knew where his bread was buttered. Apparently Obama does not.

Come on, People

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Reading some of the discordant grumbling in the black blogosphere about the gratuitous “haterade” on our beloved President is both amusing and disconcerting.  It is as if some of y’all have been oblivious to the feel good fiction spoon fed to a naïve public in the course of the last campaign.  Disappearing Acts is not only Terri McMillan’s best novel; it could also be the title of any serious examination of the President’s record on issues important to progressives of any stripe, especially the working class and people of color.

Cornel West, in response to a question from Rolling Stone about joining the Obama Admin said:

That’s not my calling. Yeah, brother, you find me in a crack house before you find me in the White House. I’ll go into the crack house before I ever go that far inside.

I respect Cornel for his candor, however clumsily he stated it.  Remarks like that can get a brotha’s feelings hurt in the blogosphere.   I am quite sho’ his Princeton email box got blown up by overly sensitive Negroes who equate the interests of the black community with the corporate financed agenda of Barack Obama.

There are many things I could say concern me about the direction of this Administration so far:  indefinite detention, dramatic escalation of the Afghan War, dropping cluster bombs on Afghan civilians, preventing the victims of Bush-Cheney torture from suing for redress, failing to prosecute CIA torture and those who ordered it, but I’ll just stick to the economy for simplicity’s sake.

Granted, it ain’t been but four months, and he will be president for more than three and half more years, but our Commander-In-Chief has been gettin’ busy and doing the nasty.  Not with some empty headed ho, but with the Gucci wearing corporate whores that comprise the Administration’s high-ranking financial officials and their coterie of advisors.

This Administration has thrown away trillions down a bottomless rat hole to bail out the white investor class and the financial institutions that they control. These are the people whose speculative greed and racist indifference destroyed our economy.  Ain’t y’all been paying attention?   The civil rights establishment that you gleefully malign has filed landmark class action lawsuits against the sub-prime lending industry that deliberately targeted Negroes, Latinos and anybody else deemed ignorant enough to believe that deceptively marketed exploding adjustable rate mortgages were created to help the colored working class achieve the American Dream of homeownership. What they were really meant to do is generate windfall profits for the white investor class that they could pass down generation after generation.

Our Commander-In-Chief has not directed his Justice Department to join the NAACP in the class actions against some of his more generous campaign contributors.  This goes to the heart of the reparations argument being advanced by the Black Intelligentsia—people like Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson.  Black Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who ain’t got nothin’ but love for Barack, has written extensively and persuasively on this topic.   The President told us over a year ago in the You Tube debate that he opposed reparations.

Honest white progressives like Krugman and Stiglitz and Warren have been eloquent about what this Administration is not doing to hold crooked speculators accountable for their unconscionably racist greed.  Real reform of the banking system is not in the works.

CPL, rikyrah, I love y’all with all my heart and soul, but attacking Cornel for some insignificant off handed comment is totally off base and changes the debate to who is hatin’ on Obama instead of what he is surreptitiously doing policy wise that the black community should hate.   We should be mindful of something that Maya Angelou said.  When people tell you who they are, believe them.   The President’s adherence to an insensitive white corporate agenda will not change.  Come on, People.  Let’s act like intelligent grownfolks and not like adolescents in the throws of puppy love.

Obama’s Collateral Damage

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HAT TIP:  Al Jazeera English

An investigation into a missile strike carried out by US-led forces in Afghanistan earlier this week has found that 13 civilians were among 16 people killed, the US military has said. The military made the admission on Saturday, after originally saying that 15 opposition fighters had been killed in the strike in the Gozara district of Herat province.

Afghan officials insisted all along that six women and two children were among those killed. Following Afghan outrage over the attack, US generals undertook an investigation, travelling to Gozara and talking to locals there. The generals said some anti-government fighters had also been killed in the strike. Michael Ryan, a US brigadier general, said that the investigation proved how seriously the US takes civilian casualties.

The US has come under increasing criticism over the past few months over the deaths of civilians in military operations in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said that rising civilian deaths was a source of tension between Kabul and Washington. There are currently 80,000 US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan, battling Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Barack Obama, the US president, is expected to approve the deployment of about 30,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan soon.

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An earlier Al Jazeera English article from late January amplified the criticism of the Pakistan’s President toward U.S.  bombing raids in his country.

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, has called on Barack Obama, his US counterpart, to end American missile attacks in South Asian nation’s tribal border regions with Afghanistan.Zardari’s comments were reported in the local media on Saturday, a day after the first US attacks in Pakistan since Obama’s inauguration.

“With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach toward dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism,” a ministry statement said. Such strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters are counterproductive, the private NNI news agency quoted Zardari as saying.

Eight alleged foreign fighters, including one aligned with al-Qaeda, were killed with 14 other people in a double strike in the Waziristan area on Friday, according to Pakistani security officials.

The foreign ministry said that an unspecified number of civilians were also killed in the air raid by an unmanned aircraft.The foreign ministry said that it had informed US officials of its “great concern”.

“We maintain that these attacks are counterproductive and should be discontinued,” it said.”

While there are some on this board that discount the collateral damage of U.S. Imperialism, I cannot.   Historically, foreign invasions of this region have yielded nothing but death and failure.  They’ve never succeeded.  For the last thirty years, these people have been subjected to unending war and it has reduced the Pashtun region spanning both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Dark Ages.   Primitive tribalism, Muslim extremism and Sharia Law reign supreme and repress the collective promise of the people.

Even more troubling are signs that President Obama is continuing Bush Administration policies immunizing government officials and their private sector agents from accountability for torture and extra rendition.   Democracy Now reports:

The Obama administration has decided to continue a Bush administration policy of invoking “state secrets” to dismiss a lawsuit accusing a Boeing subsidiary of helping the CIA secretly transport prisoners to torture chambers overseas.

On Monday, a San Francisco appeals court heard arguments on the American Civil Liberties Union’s attempt to reinstate the case against Jeppesen International Trip Planning on behalf of five former prisoners.

The lawsuit accused Jeppesen of arranging at least seventy flights since 2001 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Bush administration successfully won the case’s dismissal on the grounds it would risk exposing “state secrets.” On Monday, Obama administration lawyers told judges the government’s stance is unchanged.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said, “The] Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same.”

The Administration has made great strides and taken major steps toward intelligence reform in the thirty days it’s been in power, but its policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is troubling and deserves far more scrutiny than it is getting from the corporate media.  It damn sure deserves more scrutiny by blackfolks. Unnecessary civilian deaths and immunizing the facilitators of torture are not  and will never be “Change We Can Believe In.”