West vs. Obama

I’ve been on a bit of hiatus from my blog, in part due to work and in part to just taking a bit of a break.  I rarely run out of things to say, but sometimes one has to do more listening and reading than “saying” and I find that’s good to do exclusively on occasion to gain some perspective.

It looks like we’ve got a fight brewing between the president and  Princeton professor Cornell West over Obama’s credentials as a black man and West taking personal affront to being not respected.  This really isn’t new as West has been having issues with Obama since shortly after his inauguration.  In my view, some of the heat Obama is taking from West is to be dismissed while he has legitimate points on others.

First, let’s deal with that which should be dismissed.  West asserts that Obama’s background is such that he’s more comfortable dealing with elite whites than he is dealing with “free black men”.  Presumably, West counts himself among those who are free black men.  I think it would be impossible for Obama to have become president with the support among the elite if he wasn’t comfortable moving in those circles.  The converse is also true; that’s to say that there must also be a comfort level with him felt by the elite players.  Based on our existing political structure in this country, pretty much anyone who ascends to the presidency has to meet that particular criteria and that’s the primary reason why many of the people who’ve been in that office are a product of the nation’s elite educational institutions and organizations.  I’d imagine that West himself would have had to meet similar criteria in his experiences at Harvard and Princeton.  So this criticism is pretty much a cheap shot way of calling Obama an Uncle Tom and I really think it can and should be dismissed as such.

But once one gets past that, there is a substantive critique of Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, particularly those domestic policies revolving around the financial crisis.  On the latter, West suggests that Obama is “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of the corporate plutocrats.”  Again, the reference to Obama being a black mascot clouds the issue and smacks of calling him an Uncle Tom, so I reject that part of the statement, but I find myself in agreement with the concept that Obama is very much a captive of the oligarchs.   Rather than using this crisis to pursue much needed reforms,  punishment of those who caused the problems and actually break the hold they have on the economy, Obama and his economic team have instead pursued accommodative policies that delay the inevitable day of reckoning.    Rather than bringing the change on this front that everyone hoped for, we gotten a milquetoast response to a true crisis that really hasn’t ended.  It’s only been ameliorated by delaying the day of reckoning.

On the foreign policy front, we’ve largely seen a continuation and expansion of the Bush policies.  The war front has been expanded in Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan and the sorts of things that have always gone on in pursuit of Pax Americana abroad continue unabated.  Drone attacks have been expanded,  Guantanamo remains open, domestic spying continues unabated and you can’t travel without getting groped and felt on.    He continues the Bush policy of “exporting” democracy in the middle east as a tool for regime change while standing down on regime change for the tyrants that happen to be our “friends”.  On the so called war on terror, the doctrines of Obama and Bush are virtually indistinguishable.  That’s certainly not the change that many voted for and West’s critique here is spot on.

What we have here is a right wing democrat and rather than promoting change, Obama is more concerned with continuing the status quo.  To be honest, I don’t think that he could have done anything else as that’s the nature of our political system. The system has swung towards fascism and political behavior across the board has been shaped towards that end.   As that idea dawns on more people, there will be a backlash. You can’t sell everyone change and then bring none of it.  That’s not to suggest that any of this would have been easy, so the fact that he hasn’t brought substantive change is really not the issue.  The issue revolves around the failure to fight for it and to represent the interests of the people. West’s indictment against Obama here as well is spot on.

Personally, what I look for in a leader is the ability to speak the unvarnished truth, regardless of how controversial  and painful it may be. This is what the country urgently needs and truth is the only premise upon which a true solution can be formulated.  One can’t just hold his finger to the wind and do the political calculus as a condition of telling it.  One has to have the courage to tell it, no matter the outcome or the controversy that may attend it and not cower in fear because of what Fox News is going to say.   The Shirley Sherrod affair was instructive on Obama’s fears and lack of backbone.

For a  fleeting moment, many believed that change was possible.  It’s becoming clear that Obama sold what he has never attempted to deliver. It will be very hard for the next fresh face who comes along promising the sky to be believed as this is the last hurrah for hope and change.

  • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

     [quote]t over Obama’s credentials as a black man and West taking personal affront to being not respected.[/quote]

    [quote]What we have here is a right wing democrat and rather than promoting change, Obama is more concerned with continuing the status quo.  To be honest, I don’t think that he could have done anything else as that’s the nature of our political system[/quote]

    Brother Greg L:

    The major flaw in your argument is that you choose to FOCUS ON OBAMA!!!!!

    Turn around!!!!  Look at the BLACK MASSES of Obama Supports and then REDO YOUR ARGUMENT!!!

    1) Black People SUPPORTING A “RIGHT WING DEMOCRAT”?   PLEASE!!!!!
    It is more accurate to say BLACK PEOPLE – knowing that they are going to get some measure of PROGRESSIVE policy AND seeking to retain their VICARIOUS LIVING through OBAMA’S EXPERIENCES – are SILENT over Obama’s actions as COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE.

    I can’t let you (or Black Diaspora) go on this one bro.
    At minimum we are forced to conclude that the Mau Mauing from Black people that was heard when the “Economic Hitman” series was released (and the prior wars) was done merely for SHOW against the political enemies of the Black Racial Services Industry.

    What we have today are Black people who are looking at Obama as KING Jr but failing to realize that KING turned AGAINST the man who seat Obama now sits when King could no longer accept his actions as Commander In Chief.  King prioritized global JUSTICE over “The Great Society”

    The Negro De Jur believes that if they STAY CONSISTENT and hit Obama as commander of the “American Killing Machine” they will WEAKEN OBAMA and allow a REPUBLICAN to step into the chair.

    THUS we see the PRIORITY OF BLACK PEOPLE today.  

    If I WERE A PROGRESSIVE-FUNDAMENTALISTS the CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARGUMENT of West as heard on the Ed Schultz show would have me in agreement with HIM

    I have been forced to throw away the RACIAL crap talk and focus on the essence of the argument.  This is why I believe that West is standing firmly on PROGRESSIVE ideals.

    I WOULD LOVE to know how Black Disapora feels about BOMBS BEING RAINED DOWN ON AFRICA at the hands of OBAMA?

    • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

      >>Black People SUPPORTING A “RIGHT WING DEMOCRAT”?   PLEASE!!!!!
      It is
      more accurate to say BLACK PEOPLE – knowing that they are going to get
      some measure of PROGRESSIVE policy AND seeking to retain their VICARIOUS
      LIVING through OBAMA’S EXPERIENCES – are SILENT over Obama’s actions as
      COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE. <<<

      CF, what measure of progressive policy are black folks gonna get from Obama or anyone else for that matter?  They're less likely to get them from Obama than any other president as the guy is scared out of his wits from what Fox is gonna say if he's seen as being partial to black folks.  As to the vicarious living through part, that may be true.  Many are proud to see a black man as president and perhaps they can't move pass that to look at the policies.  Yes, perhaps folks don't want to be overly critical so as to weaken him but that sets him up a being unaccountable and I can't go along with that. 

      My two BIG issues with Obama are the accommodation given Wall Street and the expansion of the wars.  I  strongly take exception to that and in my book, these policies are perhaps the most substantive of his administration as they would be of any other administration.  This two polices are a continuation of what got us in the mess we're in right now.  We can't afford either policy and for me that trumps everything else.   Obama is basically a continuation of Bush in many respects notwithstanding his opposition's attempt to paint his as a radical.  The difference is that he's the kinder and gentler version. 

      • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

        Brother Greg L:

        PLEASE listen ATTENTIVELY to Glen Ford’s ANALYSIS.

        Put aside his analysis of OBAMA.
        Listen to what he is saying about:
        * The Black Racial Services Industry
        * The Black Rank & File

        http://uhurunews.com/video/play?resource_name=beyond-obama-and-the-black-misleadership-class-glen-ford-video

        The man is SPOT ON.

        I do not need to agree with his PROPOSED METHODS FORWARD to agree that his ANALYSIS is spot on.

        THIS IS THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION about the EXPECTATIONS held by Black folks.

        • Black Diaspora

          “Going beyond Obama”

           

          Politics was never seen as the modus operandi for ameliorating conditions
          in the black community. The NAACP sought a legal remedy, Marcus Garvey a return
          to Africa solution in search of a black economic autonomy, the Black Panther and
          other revolutionary forces, championed an overthrow of the government and
          a carving out of our own black enclave, while Martin Luther King sought
          legislation that would address social inequities.

           

          Blacks didn’t vote for Obama so that he would be some kind of Black Moses
          who would lead his people out of bondage, parting the Red Sea if necessary, as
          Glen Ford suggests. This notion is utter foolishness.

           

          Blacks know the sad truth: Black elected officials have no more answers to
          what ail our communities than white elected officials.

           

          If you’re listening to Ford, no wonder you have a distorted view of blacks,
          and a misunderstanding of the forces swirling throughout the black
          community.

           

          “I am a “Black-Community-OLOGIST”!!!!” If as you say, you’re a
          black-community-ologist, you would be expected to spend some time in the black
          community actually listening to their grievances, rather than insisting that
          blacks don’t advance because they are too fixated on racism, and are pawns of
          Democrats.

           

          If I’m too believe Ford, Obama facilitated the transfer of wealth from main
          street to Wall Street. We both know that this transfer started under George W.
          Bush with his tax cuts to the uber-rich, and was extended to placate Republicans who
          threatened unemployment relief for those out of work, many of which (wait for it) were
          blacks.

           

          It’s possible to make a case for almost anything, if you shave the facts
          here an there to reach the conclusion you seek. George W. Bush did it to take
          us into war with Iraq.

           

          If Ford is anything, he’s a black provocateur sent by the enemy of our
          people and Democrats to tap into the black rage, and discontent, and direct it
          toward Obama. “Black isn’t back,” only the exploitation is “back,” to drive a
          wedge between black people, and to build up expectations of Obama that frankly
          aren’t there.

           

          I tell you again: Blacks didn’t vote for Obama so that he might heal
          centuries-old wounds, or settle black-white strife. That he leads the country
          with the best of intentions for all people is all we could possibly hope
          for. What is left undone, we know, is for us to do for ourselves, using whatever
          means that are at our disposal.

           

          You can always know the enemy of our people: They would divide us, play one
          against the other, using class envy, and power envy, as their primary
          tools.

           

          Republicanism and conservatism would have us divided with it emphasis on
          the individual and the necessity to look out exclusively for the welfare of the
          self, even at the expense of the whole.

           

          I reject that philosophy, as have many other blacks who truly care for the
          welfare of our people, knowing full well that this is a philosophy that would
          weaken our effectiveness as a people. We can eject those from our midst, be they
          black or be they white, those who exploit our struggle to be better and to do
          better without waging a war that would burn down our house as we seek to destroy
          theirs.

           

          I say let’s be about the effort to build, and rebuild, rather than tearing
          down, and the destruction of those elements thriving on division in our midst,
          will take care of itself. We have long been about a struggle, a movement, and a
          crusade against, or for something.  We don’t need another movement. I say now is
          the time to take a stand, and build. To unite and build. To stand as one and
          build.

           

          The Uhuru movement seeks “solidarity” by first sewing the seeds of
          division. It’s doomed to failure by the use of its own divisive devices.

           

          “Black is back.” When did it leave, that we’re enjoined to take it “back.”
          I have never been blacker, and there has never been a moment that I have been
          bereft of blackness, but have steadily grown blacker over the years. The premise
          suggests that, at some point, we lost our way. Perhaps some did. But the way
          forward is not to point out our differences but to embrace that which unite
          us.

           

          The term “Obamites” is just another term in a long history of terms that
          have been used to keep us divided: Uncle Tom, Field Negro, and House Negro. Sell
          Outs. I’m sure with a little thought you can come up with others. As long as
          we’re fighting each other, “self-determination” recedes further into the
          background right along with our aspirations.

          • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

            Hi Guys,  I just now catching up on my own blog here and in a way I’m in
            a quandary here—should I be a spectator or a participant?  Of course,
            I know it’s my blog and I should participate, but there’s the
            temptation to just be a spectator as I really enjoy the back and forth
            between you and good points are being made on both sides. 

            Here’s what I’d like to offer and it’s a question.  At what point do we
            establish a mechanism to evaluate black leaders, organizations and the
            efficacy of policies pursued?  How do we do that, remove folks when
            necessary and change directions while retaining unity at the same time? 
            I think that our understandable concern about unity hamstrings us also
            and leaves us without the necessary structures to shape the behavior of
            those who lead us and if necessary sanction.  As I think about it, this
            cuts across the whole of black society.  Folks ranging from black
            politicians on down to the miscreant element on the street corner are
            effectively held unaccountable because we can’t express a collective no
            for fear of causing an highly destructive internal battle.  Again, how
            can we evaluate, shape behavior or sanction it without the structures in
            place?     And how can we do all of that without wholesale destruction
            or weakening ourselves with disunity?

            The question sort of reminds me of what’s occurring in the middle east right now.  There are legitimate complaints to be sure, but some of that was sewn and
            supported by outside influence.  Those in power are forced to respond by
            a harsh putdown not entirely due to the legitimacy of the complaints,
            but the fear of outside influence using it to work another agenda.  This
            is the same dynamic we’ve experienced in the African-American
            community, so concerns about disunity can’t be dismissed out of hand. 

            I suppose the challenge is to find the balance and have mechanisms in
            place to vet the critics.  Basically, we need a process that’s
            indigenous and independent of outside influence.  It has to be seen and
            respected in that way and must be developed outside of the existing
            political system and beyond it’s influence.  That’s certainly no easy
            task, but it’s something we must do, otherwise we remain voiceless and
            powerless to exert control even over our own, let alone someone else. 
            In many ways, this is not a challenge for black folks alone as this is
            an issue all over the political spectrum.  There are few people who are
            truly represented anymore in America, save for those with the money to
            buy influence.

            I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a political atheist.  I don’t place a lot of stock in the political process as I come to believe it’s a failing system, much like many of the other systems in America.  Although it may not be clear to many of this point,
            we’re in a slow motion failure.  I think that the powers that be know
            this and this accounts for much of their behavior.  That behavior is
            reflected mainly in the resource grab measured by the wars we’re in,
            actions by the government and the Federal Reserve.  I would agree that
            while some of this has occurred on Obama’s watch, it’s basically a
            continuation of the policies of prior administrations.  There’s a
            consistency of certain policies across administrations and this is
            particularly evident on foreign policy which is often reduced to phrases
            like “the fight against terrorism” and etc. which explain little.

            I could have made many portions of Ford’s presentation and I agree with a
            lot of what he had to say, where I depart ways however is the manner in
            which he wants to “kick ass”.   Whereas I believe that criticism of
            black folks and organizations is very necessary, I also believe that the
            absolute best way to put someone on trial is to execute.  In other
            words, if you believe that you have something that works better, create
            the model and show us.   So, if you believe that we’re being ill served
            by black leadership or black institutions, create something that serves
            us better.  I think the effort to actuate one’s philosophy is a far
            better way to go versus spending the same effort on defeating the
            adversary.  If one has broad success at executing, the adversary with
            the inferior “idea” will be defeated anyway in a far less divisive
            manner while the community gets an executable model to emulate.   The
            marketplace of ideas works in the African-American community as it does
            in any other,  the difference is that our marketplace is not as vibrant
            because few are executing independently of outside influence and because
            of that, there’s little competition, so anyone with even modest success
            in truly fixing a problem automatically assumes the mantle of
            leadership; a sort of quiet coup if you will.

    • Black Diaspora

      @CF: “I WOULD LOVE to know how Black Disapora feels about BOMBS BEING RAINED DOWN ON AFRICA at the hands of OBAMA?”I’ve responded to this on my own blog. You can find my response there.
        ”1) Black People SUPPORTING A “RIGHT WING DEMOCRAT”?   PLEASE!!!!!It is more accurate to say BLACK PEOPLE – knowing that they are going to get some measure of PROGRESSIVE policy AND seeking to retain their VICARIOUS LIVING through OBAMA’S EXPERIENCES – are SILENT over Obama’s actions as COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE.”
      I guess you’re using an exclusionary clause, exempting yourself from the society of “Black People.” But that’s to be expected given your idelogical propensities. Nevertheless, I would expect someone other than a black person to write the aforementioned statement. It reveals a total ignorance of black people, and their rationale for voting for now President Obama.
       
      Would you say that you’re living “vacariously” through Obama, and are waiting for some “progressive policy” from him? No, you wouldn’t,  but you don’t hesitate to confer this dubious honor upon liberal blacks. 
       
      Other than being the best president this nation’s ever seen–where most have been white–blacks want nothing from Obama: no handouts, no reparations (although Fox News insist we do), and no special treatment.
       
      You should know better!
       
      C.F., you have shown nothing but utter contempt for your own people. And you do so by resorting to your personal ideology for justification.
       
      “What we have today are Black people who are looking at Obama as KING Jr but failing to realize that KING turned AGAINST the man who seat Obama now sits when King could no longer accept his actions as Commander In Chief.  King prioritized global JUSTICE over ‘The Great Society’”
       
      I’ve responded to these claims over at Granny’s, but apparently your drive by was just that. Here’s what I said there to a similar claim:
       
      False assumption. Faulty conclusion. Your premise isn’t true: Blacks did not, are not, pinning their economic, social, or political hopes on Obama. Were that the case, we would have deserted him months ago.Yet, that’s what you’d like to believe, because it fits the narrative you’ve contrived, and it buttresses your ideological predisposition.Blacks saw in Obama, not an opportunity to advance so much, but as confirmation that blacks can reach for the highest office in the land and achieve it, despite the obstacles, the hurdles, and the impediments that are often strewn in our path by the majority society.That assurance along will drive the vision of blacks now being born, and those who, even now, are aspiring to do great things. You can’t see that because you’re wearing ideological blinders, and can only see what you’ve placed in front of you.
      I dare to have more faith in our people than you; to believe in their eventual success; to know that a new energy has been unleashed, and a new vision of their potential brought before them.Where there’s a lack of vision, the people perish.
       ”1) Black People SUPPORTING A “RIGHT WING DEMOCRAT”?   PLEASE!!!!!
      It is more accurate to say BLACK PEOPLE – knowing that they are going to get some measure of PROGRESSIVE policy AND seeking to retain their VICARIOUS LIVING through OBAMA’S EXPERIENCES – are SILENT over Obama’s actions as COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE.”I guess you’re using an exclusionary clause, exempting yourself from the society of “Black People.” But that’s to be expected given your idelogical propensities. Nevertheless, I would expect someone other than a black person to write the aforementioned statement. It reveals a total ignorance of black people, and their rationale for voting for now President Obama. Would you say that you’re living “vacariously” through Obama, and are waiting for some “progressive policy” from him? No, you wouldn’t,  but you don’t hesitate to confer this dubious honor upon liberal blacks.  Other than being the best president this nation’s ever seen–where most have been white–blacks want nothing from Obama: no handouts, no reparations (although Fox News insist we do), and no special treatment. You should know better!  C.F., you have shown nothing but utter contempt for your own people. And you do so by resorting to your personal ideology for justification.  ”What we have today are Black people who are looking at Obama as KING Jr but failing to realize that KING turned AGAINST the man who seat Obama now sits when King could no longer accept his actions as Commander In Chief.  King prioritized global JUSTICE over ‘The Great Society’” I’ve responded to these claims over at Granny’s, but apparently your drive by was just that. Here’s what I said there to a similar claim: False assumption. Faulty conclusion. Your premise isn’t true: Blacks did not, are not, pinning their economic, social, or political hopes on Obama. Were that the case, we would have deserted him months ago.

      Yet, that’s what you’d like to believe, because it fits the narrative you’ve contrived, and it buttresses your ideological predisposition.

      Blacks saw in Obama, not an opportunity to advance so much, but as confirmation that blacks can reach for the highest office in the land and achieve it, despite the obstacles, the hurdles, and the impediments that are often strewn in our path by the majority society.

      That assurance along will drive the vision of blacks now being born, and those who, even now, are aspiring to do great things. You can’t see that because you’re wearing ideological blinders, and can only see what you’ve placed in front of you.I dare to have more faith in our people than you; to believe in their eventual success; to know that a new energy has been unleashed, and a new vision of their potential brought before them.Where there’s a lack of vision, the people perish.

      • Black Diaspora

          This reply didn’t publish as intended.

        • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

          [quote]. It reveals a total ignorance of black people, and their rationale for voting for now President Obama.[/quote]

          I am a “Black-Community-OLOGIST”!!!!I am not focusing on WHY BLACKS VOTE FOR OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          I am studying what BLACK FOLKS choose to VOTE as a means of solving some problems that CLEARLY are shown to be a function outside of the AMERICAN POLITICAL DOMAIN.

          What you clearly fail to see is how the VOID in the Black Community GOVERNANCE – allows certain EMBEDDED CONFIDENCE MEN to HAVE THEIR WAY WITH OUR PEOPLE.  In the collective DESPERATION and need for ATTENTION from someone who knows how to STROKE THE RIGHT CHORD – we fall for the “Sweet Nothings” that allow us to feel WANTED AND PROTECTED for the moment and then we GIVE UP THE FAMILY JEWELS.  

          SEE HERE:  
          http://withintheblackcommunity.blogspot.com/2011/05/original-now-restored-sold-out-to-obama.html

          AND HERE: http://withintheblackcommunity.blogspot.com/2011/05/malcolm-x-was-correct-for-his-day-but.html

          Black Diaspora – it pains me greatly to read your words lately.

          YOU SAY “I show CONTEMPT FOR MY PEOPLE”!!!!!!!!!

          What you MISTAKE is that YOU BELIEVE that the POLITICAL OPERATIONS of Black people in 2011 are DONE FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          You are of the opinion that MAJORITY ACTION OF BLACK FOLKS is proof of “BLACKNESS”.

          Let’s put it into words that you can understand:

          * IF CLARENCE THOMAS, et al – a HAND FULL OF BLACK PEOPLE can be said to be HARMING BLACK PEOPLE with their POLICIES AND THEORIES……………….

          * WHY IS IT so hard for you to accept that a FAR LARGER GROUP OF NEGROES who are operating under  a certain set of POLICIES and THEORIES and then – HAVE THE MASSES OF ELECTIVE OFFICES and LOBBY positions to EXECUTE THEIR POWER OVER BLACK PEOPLE – is it too far a stretch for you to believe that THEY TOO CAN BE ‘SOLD OUT NEGROES ‘ – JUST a LARGE GROUP OF THEM?     With the people who usually call folks SELL OUTS standing right beside them so this is not the vernacular that is heard?

          OR is it just that YOU FAVOR their agenda and then you accept that their INTENTIONS is more POWERFUL than their ACTUAL DELIVERABLES so your vision is blurred?

          • Black Diaspora

            Just so you know: I responded to you here. It was a long response. Unfortunately, the black hole of cyberspace swallowed it up, making in irretrievable. I truly wanted you to read it, as it was one of my better responses.

            Since I’ve had real difficulty commenting lately, I decided to use a new browser, Safari. It too failed me miserably. 

            However, let me recap: Although you won’t  say it, you believe that blacks should be voting Republican, rather than Democrat. You believe that conservatism is the best hope for our people  to escape a state of dependency, and the largesse of liberalism, which you see as providing token benefits for the greater wealth which is our vote, which keeps Democrats in office and wielding the power.

            What I see is this: Republicans are a divisive bunch. 

            As a party, they sell the conservative ideology of small government, individual freedom, and free markets. This ideology is retrogressive:  It will take us back to a time when corporations and businesses could do as they please without government interference, or restrictions (no regulations), when labor depended on these corporations and businesses for its sole livelihood, and survival, without recourse, when everyman had no more power than a single person could bring to bear, and when markets were free to exploit at will, and the laws favored the rich and the powerful.

            In truth, not much has changed, just the appearance of power diffusion, and power displacement.    Current efforts are seeking to remove even this appearance of power diffusion, concentrating it in the name of fiscal austerity, and crisis management.  

            Conservatism, rather than supporting adhesion, and cohesion, actually militates against it, pitting one group against the other, even individual against individual, and calling it The American Way, and the Will of the Founding Fathers.

            Blacks know this game too well, having been the victim of it for more years than they care to count. If we fail to stand as one, turning instead to the divisive and destructive conservative philosophy of every man for himself, the government is the problem and not the solution, and he who provides the jobs deserves our obeisance, we will be easy prey for the rapacious and unscrupulous people and forces in our midst.  

  • Black Diaspora

    “Rather than using this
    crisis to pursue much needed reforms,  punishment of those who caused the
    problems and actually break the hold they have on the economy, Obama and his
    economic team have instead pursued accommodative policies that delay the
    inevitable day of reckoning.”  
     
    Let
    me offer another take. Rather than jump the shark, the Obama administration
    chose to navigate the shark-invested waters that was, and is, our economy.
     
    With
    a restive stock market–a major bellwether of our economic health–Obama and his
    financial team were eager to control its jitters, and assure it that it would be
    business as usual under his administration.
     
    The
    reason Obama brought in Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers was to signal to Wall
    Street a clear approach on how he planned to handle the economy–not with shock
    and awe (massive reforms and jail time for malefactors)–but with incremental
    changes over time. The economy was seen as too fragile for a wholesale overhaul.
    In addition, it would have weakened the financial sector–to be sure, the one
    responsible for the problem in the first place–if the Attorney General
    had brought to trial responsible parties, potentially deepening the recession,
    and forestalling a much-needed rebound.
     
    “What
    we have here is a right wing democrat and rather than promoting change, Obama is
    more concerned with continuing the status quo. ”
     
    With
    apologies to John Donne, let me characterize it this way: No politician is an
    island, entire of itself; every politician is a piece of the Party, a part of
    the main.
     
    Despite
    John McCain’s reputation as a Maverick even he capitulated to his Party’s
    branding iron. During his reelection bid, he eventually submitted to the
    Republican Party line and out-Tea Partied his opponent, giving up his sassy
    lemonade for a cup of strong tea, a move that shifted him from the center of his
    party and closer to the Right fringe.
     
    Only
    recently, we watched as Newt Gingrich walked back the comments he had made about
    Paul Ryan’s plan to give vouchers to seniors as a way to preserve and save
    Medicare. He attacked it as “social engineering.” And we mustn’t forget Mitt Romney’s pathetic attempt to draw
    distinctions between his health care plan and the federal one just
    past, although it was modeled after the one he installed in Massachusetts.
     
     An
    island can conduct itself as it chooses. Obama is no island. The passage of his
    health-care reform act came with a big price: the loss of Democrat seats in
    congress and control of that body. As we’ve seen, the party comes first, and the
    welfare of the country second. No where is this more evident than in the
    Republican Party. For example,  we will not see Republicans conduct a
     full-court press to create jobs in this country as long as Obama is president.
    It would be seen as helping the enemy, although it’s the American people who
    will suffer for the inaction. 
     
    “For
    a  fleeting moment, many believed that change was possible.  It’s becoming clear
    that Obama sold what he has never attempted to deliver.”
     
    In
    all fairness, I believe he attempted to deliver, but the politics of what he
    wanted to deliver blocked his actions, forcing him to use what was in place
    under Bush to achieve his end.
     
    The
    outcry was deafening when Obama made the decision to transfer some detainees to
    our shores, namely New York, for trial. Such an act was seen as too expensive,
    and subjected New York to a potential terrorist attack. Even congress got in
    on the act:
     
    “Monday, March 7, 2011
    Statement of the Attorney General on Guantanamo Bay and
    Detainee Policy

    WASHINGTON – The Attorney General made the following statement
    today:

     

    As the Administration has long stated, it is essential that the
    government have the ability to use both military commissions and federal courts
    as tools to keep this country safe. Unfortunately, some in Congress have
    unwisely sought to undermine this process by imposing restrictions that
    challenge the Executive Branch’s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek
    to do Americans harm. We oppose those restrictions, and
    will continue to seek their repeal. “ 

     

    “The Shirley Sherrod affair was instructive on Obama’s fears and
    lack of backbone.”

     

    No one can say for certain who was responsible for the firing of
    Shirley Sherrod, but what we can say with certainty is that Vislack took
    responsibility for it:
     
    “Vilsack
    was adamant that the decision to fire Sherrod was his and his alone, saying “the
    buck stops with me, as it should.” He said he made a “very hasty decision which
    I deeply regret” and that he will ‘have to live with that for a long, long
    time.’”"Personally, what I look for in a leader is the ability to speak the unvarnished truth, regardless of how controversial  and painful it may be.”

    To
    tell the truth would be political suicide. Truth is not something this country
    values or prizes. Winning is everything. We don’t see truth spoken in our schools,
    our churches, the halls of congress, within board rooms, families, the news
    media, or in the Ads we watch.
     

    Lying
    is as American as mom’s apple pie.

     

    Truth
    will be valued when there are ears receptive to it. In the meantime, we
    shouldn’t blame the liars. We’re a nation who wishes to be lied to, to hear only what
    we wish to hear.

     

    The
    truth be damned!

    • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

      BD,

      It’s very difficult to disagree with one whose ability to write I so much admire.  But here’s my response on a few points you raise above:

      >>The reason Obama brought in Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers was to signal to Wall
      Street a clear approach on how he planned to handle the economy–not with shock
      and awe (massive reforms and jail time for malefactors)–but with incremental
      changes over time. The economy was seen as too fragile for a wholesale overhaul.
      In addition, it would have weakened the financial sector–to be sure, the one
      responsible for the problem in the first place–if the Attorney General
      had brought to trial responsible parties, potentially deepening the recession,
      and forestalling a much-needed rebound.<<>To tell the truth would be political suicide. Truth is not something this country
      values or prizes. Winning is everything. We don’t see truth spoken in our schools,
      our churches, the halls of congress, within board rooms, families, the news
      media, or in the Ads we watch.
       

      Lying
      is as American as mom’s apple pie.

       

      Truth
      will be valued when there are ears receptive to it. In the meantime, we
      shouldn’t blame the liars. We’re a nation who wishes to be lied to, to hear only what
      we wish to hear.<<<

      I don't disagree with this.  Some of us want to be lied to just as some kids want everything in the store whether they actually need it or not.  In the latter instance it's up to us adults to tell them what the deal is and no, I'm not buying that for you and you can pout if you want to.  This is the test of leadership really.  Admittedly, it's a tough part of it, but ultimately a part that goes with the territory.

      America needs to be told the absolute truth about a whole host of things and that fact that it goes untold or unacknowledged doesn't change it's nature or the consequences of continuing to ignore it.  We are in crisis and are in a slow motion failure.  Notwithstanding that, it need not be fatal, BUT, it's going to take some time to adjust.  It's like if I'm abroad the plane that's about the crash, I'd appreciate the pilot telling me what's going on so I can make the preparations to meet my maker.  I'd prefer not to go into a nosedive without a warning! 

      The truth, no matter how unpleasant, has to be told and acknowledged, otherwise the only outcome is false policy and we've had decades of that.    Yes, Obama is not an island and there are certain realities and constraints he has run up against, but at some point, country has to come before career and party loyalties.  The conspiracy of silence from the political class must end.   I along with many others were hoping for that and perhaps we did not have an appreciation of those constraints.  Expectations were raised and they've been unfulfilled, but it's not as if he would have to have had 100% success, the problem is that the effort has not been there IMO.

      • Black Diaspora

        “Their fall would have been painful, but would have left us better off in the
        long run with banking assets distributed over a far greater number of banks
        hence eliminating the financial concentration (and the concentration of power)
        we have now.”
        I offered a view from what I believe might have been their perspective. Watch
        the docudrama, ”Too Big To Fail.” It’s on HBO. You could very well be right, but
        the fear at the time was so palpable that many on the Hill capitulated.  So it’s
        not surprising that Obama did little or nothing to remove a card from the house
        of cards that was our financial house at the time. The collapse of the whole
        house seemed imminent, and all but assured.
        “There’s nothing that’s fundamentally been changed save
        for the perception that everything is okay. ”
        I agree. Yet, the Stock
        Market thrives on “perception,” shrivels under fear, and flourishes on good
        economic news. I still believe that an assault on Wall Street would have plunged
        this country into a depression. Given the decision to break up the financial
        sector, and handcuff the guilty parties, or opt for a return to normalcy, I
        believe that the opt for normalcy would win out every
        time.
        Like you, I’d like to
        see the felons brought to justice. They thumbed their collective nose at the
        very government who bailed them out, and treated the tax-paying public with
        disdain.
        “Rather than reassuring Wall Street, Obama should have
        been reassuring us.  He had the mandate and a clear plurality of the people
        would have supported a hammer down on Wall Street, but he prioritized them over
        the people.”
        That he did. But I
        believe he did it because the alternative, an economic collapse, would have been
        less desirable, and far more devastating.
        “America needs to be told the absolute truth about a
        whole host of things and that fact that it goes untold or unacknowledged doesn’t
        change it’s nature or the consequences of continuing to ignore it.  We are in
        crisis and are in a slow motion failure.”
        No denying it. We’re in free fall, and the politicians
        are fighting over who will officiate at our funeral, rather than coming together
        to fix our economic mess, without the political wrangling, or seeking a
        political edge.
        “Yes, Obama is not an island and there are certain
        realities and constraints he has run up against, but at some point, country has
        to come before career and party
        loyalties.”
        I agree. But rarely is this done. We see more of this on
        the Right than on the Left, but it is an affliction that besets them all.

        “Expectations were raised and they’ve been unfulfilled,
        but it’s not as if he would have to have had 100% success, the problem is that
        the effort has not been there
        IMO.”
        Frankly, I had no “expectations.” I wanted an end to the
        war in Iraq, and our boys brought home, but then I knew that we get something
        short of that, an end to our combat mission, with a contingency of troops left
        in place to keep a military presence
        intact.
        It’s not that the little more than two years brought us
        nothing: Black farmers received their compensation package, gays will be able to
        serve openly in the military sooner than later, and more people will receive
        health care than ever before. 

        This is not a perfect record, and I’ve left out some
        other legislative achievements.

        As long as the people of this country continues to sleep
        the sleep of those dead to the political realities they face, satisfied that Fox
        News’ propaganda is the truth and nothing but the truth, and don’t rise up as
        the Arabs in their spring, and insist on the truth, it will never be spoken, and
        if spoken, knocked down as lies and distortions of the
        facts.
        A hundred experts, pundits, and politicos will fill up
        our television screens on Sunday morning to discount, and spin doctor the rarest
        of the rare–a truth spoken to receptive
        ears.

  • Black Diaspora

    Here’s my major premise, and my implied solution to what’s needed to advance the interests of our people.
     
    During the Twentieth century, blacks were so eager to integrate into the larger society, that we went so far as to integrate our interests.That was a mistake. It doesn’t mean that we don’t form alliances with non-black groups (Mexican Americans, for example) in this highly-competitive society but that, when we do, we gain something in return.
     
    We have to face the naked truth: Our presence here hasn’t always been accepted or valued. We were a means to an end, and that end was to serve the needs of whites for cheap labor. And for years after slavery we were merely tolerated, and, where possible, exploited for the benefit of the larger society, as so many who have come to these shores have been.
     
    “I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a political atheist.  I don’t place a lot of stock in the political process as I come to believe it’s a failing system, much like many of the other systems in America.”
     
    It’s okay to be apolitical, or as you say, a “political atheist.” While some would single out politics as the main route to achieve social, and economic parity with whites, I view it as merely one arrow in our quiver. 
     
     ”Although it may not be clear to many of this point, we’re in a slow motion failure.”
     
    True, very few of us actually get it. Otherwise we wouldn’t be so easily manipulated by the liars who are primarily interested in their own livelihoods, and not ours, be they on the radio, on television or in congress.  They flatter us by conjuring up words like ”American exceptionalism,” when we have fallen far behind many countries in those achievements that count, namely education. I hear that more than 2 million jobs go begging simply because we don’t have a workforce with the requisite education or experience to fill them. 
     
    That’s a tragedy.
     
    It explains why we’re continually ferreting our people from other places on the globe to fill the need, creating a brain drain for the nations from which they come. 
     
    America is in decline, and the fall seems inexorable, unless something is done to change that trend. Too many of our kids are sucking on the pleasure principle as though it’s a lollipop, and aren’t preparing themselves for the task ahead–to be an asset to society rather than a deficit. And that means giving up video games, and other frivolous ways of frittering away their time, hoping to inherit the fruit of their parent’s labor. 
     
    “Whereas I believe that criticism of black folks and organizations is very necessary, I also believe that theabsolute best way to put someone on trial is to execute.”
     
    While to “criticize” may offer momentary satisfaction and may prove to be cathartic, in the long run it does little to change conditions on the ground. Further, it creates enemies and cross-currents when what we want is unity and “solidarity,” to use one of Ford’s words. Unless we wish to wait another century or two to get our act together, it’s imperative that we act now as one.
     
    I will explain that further in a bit.
     
    “In other words, if you believe that you have something that works better, create the model and show us.   So, if you believe that we’re being ill served by black leadership or black institutions, create something that serves us better.”  
     
    Precisely. This is where we need to place our emphasis. Let me illustrate: During slavery and afterward,  when a cow or a pig was slaughtered, no part of the animal was discarded. The intestines went to the slaves, while Massa and his family ate high on the hog. I would make use of every element of the black community regardless of political affiliation, religion, creed, the focus of black leadership, or the stated direction of black institutions. Rather than rejecting them, or changing them, I’d use their particular expertise, and have them self-reject if or when our objectives conflict with theirs.
     
    Otherwise, they’d be onboard for the long haul.
     
    “I think the effort to actuate one’s philosophy is a far better way to go versus spending the same effort on defeating the adversary.”
     
    Absolutely. Well stated. In the same way that we don’t need more movements, we don’t need to fight the same battle time and again. What’s needed is what I’ve already prescribed, but without specifics:
     
    “I say now is the time to take a stand, and build. To unite and build. To stand as one and build.”
     
    “The marketplace of ideas works in the African-American community as it does in any other,  the difference is that our marketplace is not as vibrant because few are executing independently of outside influence and because of that, there’s little competition, so anyone with even modest success in truly fixing a problem automatically assumes the mantle of leadership; a sort of quiet coup if you will.”
     
    “Quiet” for sure. It’s better not to let the left hand know what the right is doing. We have shown time and again that we have what it takes to set goals and see them through. Martin Luther King surrounded himself with people who were as capable as he, although he was the visionary one, and wasn’t reluctant to work with whomever had the wherewithal to advance his cause.  A plan, or model, will be successful to the extent that it’s flexible, inviting change, new approaches, and new concepts as the need dictates.
     
    “What works!” will be the new motto. As long as it’s lawful, and ethical, it will be entertained and tried. Whether it works or not will be the new creed, not what is philosophically or ideologically enticing.
     ”Again, how can we evaluate, shape behavior or sanction it without the structures in place?  And how can we do all of that without wholesale destruction or weakening ourselves with disunity?” Good questions. I’ve already given some preliminary answers to some of your concerns. I will attempt now to flesh out my answers, although they too must be brief for lack of time. In a nutshell, we need a system within the system. We need to divide this nation into black sections, our own black states so to speak, but comprised of black communities from sea to shining sea. We need representatives from each of those sections, those elected by the people from each representative district. Those representatives will then come together to form a congress, where a set of black initiatives or goals are established, the core of which will specify concrete objectives. For example: 1. Black high school graduation rates at 95% within these districts.2. College attendance and graduation at 90%.3. Black Unemployment at no more than 4%4. Black business startups equal to the previous year or up by a certain percentage.5. Per Capita income in the districts equal to the national average or greater by a certain percentage. One person will be elected from among the representatives to serve as a figurehead for the group, having no real power apart from the group, but will carry out the will of the majority of the representatives.That person will interact on the national level with other national leaders.  Representatives serve at the will of the people in their district, and retain that office as long as he or she is working diligently towards the goals that have been established by the congress. Tenure is not automatic. Performance will dictate permanence. Armed with these specific goals and objectives, the planning starts in earnest: Each district representative will assess his or her district for compliance, and identify areas where improvement is needed. He or she will have an office and a staff who will make those assessments and report back. Each will identify resources in their area–church leaders, and leaders from other institutions be they new or old–to secure their cooperation in the realization of these pre-established goals.  Politically, we will establish a PAC, and actively recruit and financially sponsor those individuals that we’ve vetted and who shares our vision of what’s needed in our black districts and embraces the goals of the congress. We will seek to install our candidates on the local, state, and national levels. As long as they work to advance our cause, we will work to maintain their stay in office.   This is a general outline. Clearly, the model needs a great deal of work, and many more questions answered regarding the structure, and the roles of each of the players. Funding such an enterprise hasn’t been discussed, as well as series of other potential concerns. It was my purpose to draw a quick picture, not a comprehensive one.    
    “Again, how can we evaluate, shape behavior or sanction it without the structures in place?  And how can we do all of that without wholesale destruction or weakening ourselves with disunity?” Good questions. I’ve already given some preliminary answers to some of your concerns. I will attempt now to flesh out my answers, although they too must be brief for lack of time. In a nutshell, we need a system within the system. We need to divide this nation into black sections, our own black states so to speak, but comprised of black communities from sea to shining sea. We need representatives from each of those sections, those elected by the people from each representative district. Those representatives will then come together to form a congress, where a set of black initiatives or goals are established, the core of which will specify concrete objectives. For example: 1. Black high school graduation rates at 95% within these districts.2. College attendance and graduation at 90%.3. Black Unemployment at no more than 4%4. Black business startups equal to the previous year or up by a certain percentage.5. Per Capita income in the districts equal to the national average or greater by a certain percentage. One person will be elected from among the representatives to serve as a figurehead for the group, having no real power apart from the group, but will carry out the will of the majority of the representatives.That person will interact on the national level with other national leaders.  Representatives serve at the will of the people in their district, and retain that office as long as he or she is working diligently towards the goals that have been established by the congress. Tenure is not automatic. Performance will dictate permanence. Armed with these specific goals and objectives, the planning starts in earnest: Each district representative will assess his or her district for compliance, and identify areas where improvement is needed. He or she will have an office and a staff who will make those assessments and report back. Each will identify resources in their area–church leaders, and leaders from other institutions be they new or old–to secure their cooperation in the realization of these pre-established goals.  Politically, we will establish a PAC, and actively recruit and financially sponsor those individuals that we’ve vetted and who shares our vision of what’s needed in our black districts and embraces the goals of the congress. We will seek to install our candidates on the local, state, and national levels. As long as they work to advance our cause, we will work to maintain their stay in office.   This is a general outline. Clearly, the model needs a great deal of work, and many more questions answered regarding the structure, and the roles of each of the players. Funding such an enterprise hasn’t been discussed, as well as series of other potential concerns. It was my purpose to draw a quick picture, not a comprehensive one.    

    • Black Diaspora

      This is not how it was to publish!

  • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

    >>>>This is where we need to place our emphasis. Let me illustrate: During
    slavery and afterward,  when a cow or a pig was slaughtered, no part of
    the animal was discarded. The intestines went to the slaves, while Massa
    and his family ate high on the hog. I would make use of every element
    of the black community regardless of political affiliation, religion,
    creed, the focus of black leadership, or the stated direction of black
    institutions. Rather than rejecting them, or changing them, I’d use
    their particular expertise, and have them self-reject if or when our
    objectives conflict with theirs.<<<<

    I agree and the key is the flexibility for  folks to self reject.  Sometimes, the more complexity one has in a organization, the more unwieldy it becomes and with that comes conflict.  I prefer a situation where folks are conscious but work unconsciously together and let the needs that arise from that be the points where we come together and solve stuff.  The key for all of us is to be working on stuff that interests us or for which we have an affinity.  As you work on whatever it is, you're going draw people with like minded interests and it really doesn't take much of a leap at that point to see common problems that affect all.  The natural outgrowth of that is working toward  solutions.  Actually, this occurs now just in a negative sense.  For example, unemployment is high among black youth, so those in the illegal drug industry tap into this resource to solve the problem of unemployment, hence creating an entire infrastructure around this.  They can do this because there's not an alternative developed that we've taken the initiative on based strictly on what we can do.  Our focus and effort (at least as far as the "leadership" is concerned) is on the grievance political model; a model we don't even control as it funded largely from outside the community.  Even those who supposed oppose this model are funded largely from outside of the community, so this means we don't even control the debate that occurring within our own gates.

    Even the organizations we do control, like the black church, can't be deployed politically because they're non profits which are largely restricted from political activity as per tax laws.   So basically, from an organizational standpoint, we're voiceless.  Moreover, anyone with an appreciation of these matters knows this, so even coming out of the gate, they know you're only going to get so far.  Basically, those who might oppose us know precisely every weakness–organizationally and otherwise and they've exploited this politically, economically and in any other way they can.

    I think this is going to take a small visionary group of people who come together with a common objective.  Among those people, there will be a need for a group with some serious management and organizational expertise.     Actually, this may be several small groups of people drawn together by their affinities, whatever they may be.

    From my observations, it's far easier to some of us organize around something quick (i.e. a march or protest) rather than something that's going to require a lot of time, patience and management, particularly when there may be no quick "successes" that can be pointed to (not to mention that what we often define as successes really aren't).  We need a new definition of success.

  • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

    >>>In a nutshell, we need a system within the system.<<<

    Precisely!  I like your concept

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