I was just going through puberty when Jimmy Carter took the keys to the White House from Gerald Ford. I didn’t fully understand the differences between conservatives and liberals when it came to governing. All I knew was that I really didn’t like the way things were when Mr. Carter ran the place. As a kid, I thought he was useless. I saw the national speed limit drop from a reasonable seventy miles per hour to the snail like pace of fifty five. I saw the Olympics become a political issue when the competitors from the United States were blocked from participating in the games held in Russia. I watched the hostage crisis in Iran play out on television and thought it humiliating that American citizens were being held by some third world country. I remember watching the energy crisis wreak havoc on the nation with lines of cars waiting to fill up at the gas stations. I remember the double digit inflation grinding the American economy to a halt.
I remember thinking that Mr. Carter didn’t have what it took to run the country very effectively and maybe it was time to give somebody else a try. And although I couldn’t vote at the time, I thought it would be better if people gave Ronald Reagan a try. What the hell did I know about the implications of Mr. Reagan’s leadership? All I knew was that things weren’t working out very well. The day Mr. Reagan took office and the hostages were released was confirmation that change was needed. Despite my liberal leaning views from growing up in a black household in a predominantly black neighborhood, it was time to give conservatism a shot.
What a difference a generation can make. On the surface, there appears to be a lot of similarities between President Barack Obama’s leadership and Mr. Carter’s when it comes to the economy. While on the whole things aren’t as bad now as they were then, Mr. Obama’s economic leadership appears ineffective, tepid, and weak. Mr. Obama has neglected to give the push for jobs his full support. He has done little to change the policies of his predecessor and has allowed his political opponents to dictate the major terms for economic policy. Now that he’s facing reelection, Mr. Obama wants to say that there’s more work to do and he needs another term to get that work done. But could it be that it’s time to give one of his political opponents a shot at running things for a while?
With respect to Representative John Boehner, “HELL NO YOU CAN’T!” is the answer that comes quickest to mind. While it’s obvious that few people are fond of Mr. Obama’s stewardship or the lack thereof, the idea of having one of his political opponents at the helm of our stumbling economy is truly a frightening proposition. I see the group of conservative presidential contenders vying for the public’s attention and their rhetoric sounds downright scary and regressive. Conservatives say government is the source of all our problems and the typical conservative candidate will bend over backwards trying to prove that nobody believes that theory more than he or she does. One candidate says that civil rights laws are unconstitutional. Another says that he or she wants to make government so ineffective that people won’t even know it exist. Another candidate promises to end the Environmental Protection Agency. Another wants to close the Department of Education. Another candidate wants to eliminate the federally mandated minimum wage. Somebody else wants to do away with the income tax altogether. Another asks the question who needs the Food and Drug Administration. And all say that they promise never to do anything to increase revenues by a single dime by closing tax loop holes or by raising tax rates. And this is supposed to be better than what we’ve got going on now?
While I may not be a fan of Mr. Obama, tossing government regulations and agencies out the window and declaring some kind of war on revenue collection is far from being the answer. Weakening government to the point that it has no authority to regulate is not the solution. If corporate America knew it could drill baby drill with abandon you can believe disasters like oil spills that devastate our coastlines or explosions that kill mine workers will become a lot more frequent. Then again, that may be part of the plan. Make these disasters so common that people won’t mind so much when they happen. Food poisoned from the likes of e. coli or tainted by some other bacterium or parasite would become a lot more common because we would simply trust that the people we used to call corporations would behave like responsible citizens concerned with the public’s welfare instead of money moguls fixated on profits. We’ve already tried trusting car companies to build safe automobiles for consumers only to find out that corporate management would rather pay to litigate victims of a known design flaw that would cause a Pinto to burst into flames in an accident, guaranteeing a painful injury and a very good chance of a horrifying death, instead of fixing the problem so that no one gets injured. It’s been proven that it is just cheaper to hire a good team of lawyers instead of a good team of engineers. And let’s not forget the conservative candidate who promises tort reform so that corporations can operate without fear of being sued when their service or products injure or even kill someone.
While it is true that we are often regulated to the point of stagnation, too much government at the federal level is not our only problem. In the past year, we’ve seen regulation at the state level enact laws that burden citizens, the flesh and blood kind, with restrictions that appear to deny a good portion of the populace the right to vote without the proper registration well in advance of voting day and/or the right papers. We have seen some states enact laws that demand law enforcers to investigate and determine immigration status with little to no reason of suspicion. And when states run amok, sometimes it is our federal government that is trusted with the authority to put things back into the proper perspective, like when states are hell bent on violating civil rights. We lose that assurance if we allow our national leaders to say that civil rights are unconstitutional.
Yes the federal government is sometimes the problem. But on the other hand, no government at the federal level has also proven to be an even bigger problem. The answer is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The solution is to take a balanced approach that is thoughtful and methodical and not just cave to irresponsible conservatism that is meant to give our corporate citizens, the profit focus kind, free reign to act with impunity. We need to have a more responsible approach to the way we govern ourselves as well as our business environment. Instead of just saying we have a problem with the EPA or the FDA or the CDC so we need to shut it down, why don’t we remember what led to the formulation of such agencies, examine the problem we think we might have at hand, and try to make any adjustments that would be deemed necessary. That’s the responsible way of doing things.
But the bigger problem is that it appears that conservative constituents like the talk of “take no prisoners” conservatism. Too many people are ready to applaud to the analogy of drowning the federal government in a bathtub while ignoring state governments that might be running wild. The pragmatic conservative that might be able to attract people from the left as well as people from the left would never get through all the primaries necessary. Today’s most popular conservative leaders are working to get those tea partiers who want nothing to do with compromise. How responsible is that?
In response to a man who asked whether President Barack Obama wants to destroy America, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn tried to defend his friend the President with one of the most insidious insults many people reserve for black people, describing Mr. Obama as an African-American male who received tremendous advantage from government programs. Mr. Coburn said that he didn’t believe Mr. Obama was trying to destroy America, but was trying to create a system of dependency because it worked so well for him.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Coburn claim to have a long, personal friendship that developed from their time in the Senate together. Mr. Coburn once claimed to have had a lot of admiration for Mr. Obama. While he admits that the two have exact opposite views on most policy issues, the two have managed to keep their friendship. But with friends like this who needs a tea party? Mr. Coburn happens to be one of those people who think that the only way a black person gets to become President is if they get the type of government assistance that gives black people an advantage over white people. The black man can never be the best person for the job or for an opportunity. Black men only get ahead because of programs like affirmative action. Black men have a dependency on being given the advantage which is why black people want to protect social programs that help ease some of the widespread disparity and lack of opportunity that has become part and parcel of the black community.
For the sake of argument let’s forget the fact that the major reason why the black community is in the position it is in, a position to sustain itself because of a near total lack of any considerable wealth combined with the overwhelming lack of compassion from the racially generic dominant community that is predominantly white, was because for generations our ancestors worked without compensation due to the fact that our government had policies and laws in place that were hostile to black community development that prevented black people from even being recognized as human. While white people were given land deals and took advantage of government programs that were handouts that gave white people every advantage, black people were left out. White people could apply for land grants. White soldiers could apply for loans and grants through G.I. bills that excluded black soldiers. And while white people were benefiting from all this dependency, black people were fighting for the basic civil rights to be treated fairly. With programs like these white people thrived and flourished while the black community wasted away strangled by an imposed retardation of wealth, education, infrastructure, and services.
And instead of taking real steps to correct the problems that were inflicted on the black community, the government makes tepid steps by allowing people in the black community to take advantages of programs that were initially designed to help the white community, like the welfare programs initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a program initially developed to help down and out white people and exclude the down and out black people. For the sake of argument we will say that nothing was ever done by the United States to keep black people from succeeding and that black people were given every benefit that white people were ever given and all things were equal after America imposed slavery on black people, wrote into the United States Constitution that black people were only sixty percent human, America instituted a policy of segregation that forced black people to live with blatant racial disparity, numerous Jim Crow laws, and a whole host of other institutions of discrimination that were tolerated at the national level.
Mr. Obama took advantage of certain programs. Would it be fair to say that other Presidents took advantage of programs that helped them obtain their status? Would it be fair to say that President George Bush Jr. took advantage of having a father who was President once upon a time and managed to pull strings to make his mediocre son follow in his footsteps? Would it be fair to say that every President prior to Mr. Obama took advantage of their tradition of always being considered fully human without the history of having had to overcome some racial imposition of historic disadvantage? For the sake of argument, we’ll just overlook those advantages that were unfairly imposed on the black community.
Mr. Coburn looks at his good friend Barack Obama and sees a black man that could not possibly have gotten where he is based in any inherent ability, talent, intellect, hard work, or intelligence. He’s a black man after all. As far as Mr. Coburn and his kind are concerned, inferiority to white people is a given condition of being black. Black people are too dependent on the programs meant to help all people who find themselves down on their luck. Mr. Coburn looks at black men and sees dependency. His prejudice is so thick and strong that he couldn’t even put it aside to give his good friend the benefit of doubt for accomplishing something only a tiny fraction of people will ever dream of achieving. Mr. Coburn thinks that Mr. Obama is President because of some kind of affirmative action program.
It is because of people like this, people with an overwhelming prejudice against black people, that we need to keep a constant vigil against the racism that continues to flow through our social fabric. Mr. Coburn is the type of person that wouldn’t think twice of dismissing a black applicant for any opportunity he would have to give. A black person couldn’t possibly be the best candidate because the only reason a black person was able to obtain whatever ability they may have is because of some advantage that allowed them to avoid fair competition.
Never mind that white people have been given every advantage from the first day that a black person set a chain shackled foot on American soil to become some white person’s property. The black community deals with unemployment rates that are twice the white community’s. Black people suffer with higher rates of incarceration. As a whole, black people have only a tiny fraction of white people’s wealth. Black people have to deal with the prejudice of their good white friends like Mr. Coburn. By every social measure black people come up on the shitty end of the yardstick. But despite all those facts, people in the black community are supposed to have the advantage. Maybe white people like Mr. Coburn would like to go back a few hundred years and trade places.
When hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast and devastated New Orleans and the governments at the federal, state, and local level failed to launch anything even remotely resembling an adequate response, few people in the black community or connected to the black community in a fashion that wasn’t just filled with little more than derision and/or condemnation were willing to cut President George Bush Jr. some slack. While government at all levels proved incompetent, people affiliated with the black community held Mr. Bush personally responsible for what happened during Katrina and in the hurricane’s aftermath. Few people would say that Mr. Bush was just one piece of the response puzzle and so people needed to take it easy on him. He was the President and he miserably failed to be the President of the black community. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Six years later the black community is being rocked again be an inadequate response to disaster. This catastrophe is altogether different than the natural cataclysm that rocked New Orleans’ world. While massive, Katrina hit in a single geographic location. Its impact was confined. The disaster the black community faces today is more widespread, impacting black people from coast to coast. Today, the official unemployment rate in the black community tops seventeen percent. And that’s the official number meant to include only the people who are actively seeking work. Add the number of black people who have simply given up hope of finding a job and that number rises significantly. By some estimates the unemployment rate more than doubles. And while it is true that unemployment is up for the entire United States, the black community is being hit especially hard. Where is our President to help us?
As he campaigned for the presidency, then Illinois Senator Barack Obama was given a pass by the overwhelming majority of people in the black community. Whenever anyone would make the suggestion that Mr. Obama should explain what he plans for the black community if he made it to the oval office, a collective “shut the fuck up” would emanate from black people who were caught up in the idea that we could be on the cusp of history by electing our first black President. He didn’t need to tell us what we could expect because it was a given that he would do his part for black people because we shared a skin tone. It’s in the bag baby!
For the longest time Mr. Obama avoided any association with black people. He would pass on making any official appearances to address the black community. And when Mr. Obama finally made his address to the black community that fateful Father’s Day back in 2008, his message was quite clear, black men should quit acting like fools and take some responsibility for the condition of the black community. This was from the black man who has no problem standing before miners in Tennessee and talking about the hopes and promises of a future. This was from the man who could stand before a lobby for Israel and promise that as President he would do everything he could to protect United State’s relationship with Israel. It was only the black community that Mr. Obama felt comfortable enough to imply that the black community could expect nothing from him. If nothing else, Mr. Obama proved to be a man of his word.
It’s been decades since unemployment in the black community has been so high. While true that Mr. Obama assumed an economy in complete freefall, it’s been three years and there really hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to what’s happening in the black community. Mr. Obama initiated a bus tour across the Midwest and has been trying to get out in front of people to make his case and explain why he deserves another term to get things done. And not a single one of those visits has been to a black community. Even though the black community is at the bottom of the heap when it comes to economic woes, we still don’t garner any attention from our black President. It’s a prime example of history repeating itself.
Yes Mr. Obama is just one man. It is true that even as President of the United States he cannot do it all. But be that as it may, his compassion and concern as President is important to people who are suffering. It helps to hear the President say that he has not forgotten and that he has empathy. What people don’t want to hear is something akin to take some responsibility for what’s happening in your life. Such a message is kind of callous when people are looking for help. If Mr. Bush gave such a message to people after the devastation of Katrina, I’m sure few people in the black community would be willing to say he’s just one man and he can’t do it all himself.
Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If Mr. Obama thinks black men should take responsibility for what’s happening around them, then the black Mr. Obama should take responsibility for what’s happening around him. He wants to stand before people and complain that other people that he has to work with are keeping him from doing everything he wants to do. A lot of black people might be able to relate. A lot of black people think that a lot of other people are keeping them from doing everything they want to do as well, like find a job. If Mr. Obama’s message is that black people need to take responsibility for the lack of progress for what they are responsible for, then the black Mr. Obama should be willing to take responsibility for the lack of progress for what he is responsible for.
The black community gave Mr. Obama an opportunity to do something different and the black community got shafted in the process. History has been made so we can get over the need to sacrifice our collective interests in order to help Mr. Obama do what everyone thought was unachievable in our lifetime. Now we need to get back to what is real. The black community needs to hold our President accountable. Yes it might be true that he’s just one man and he can’t do it by his lonesome. But so was Mr. Bush and we didn’t pull our punches when he failed. And if that’s not enough, Mr. Obama doesn’t hesitate to pull a punch whenever he addresses the black community with his responsibility rhetoric. It’s high time the black community listens to the message that Mr. Obama keeps telling us. And if black people are going to listen and are going to start showing some responsibility, a good place to start is by holding Mr. Obama responsible as well.
The Help has been billed as nothing less than a new American literature classic. Written by Kathryn Stockett, the story is set during the early years of the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, what could be argued as ground zero for the racial discrimination of white people against black people. Despite the racial animosity and disharmony of the time, a southern society girl, Eugenia Skeeter Phelan, returns home from college and wants to become a writer. Advised to write about something that disturbs her, she decides to collect stories from the black women who wait on white families and to put their stories to paper.
The story has been described as optimistic, uplifting and empowering for women but with something to offer everyone. However, after listening to an interview of Ms. Stockett on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show, I found the author’s understanding of race relations between whites and blacks extremely simplistic and totally white-washed of the revulsion inflicted by the dominant white community. When Ms. Stockett described her family’s treatment of their black maid back in the day as loving and some form of royal treatment despite the fact that the maid was not allowed to use the bathroom in the house that she no doubt cleaned, but instead in an outhouse in the backyard, or how their maid was not allowed to eat with the same utensils that the white family ate with, even though the black woman no doubt cleaned those knives, forks and such, I had little doubt that Ms. Stockett’s book would be a form of propaganda that would sanitize white people’s prejudice at the time. The disgusting racial hatred of people in the klu klux klan can be self evident. The disgusting behavior of Ms. Stockett’s own family is much more devious. Even the Supreme Court recognized the harm in the often practiced white enforced condition of separate but unequal facilities. Ms. Stockett can describe the racism of her family as something wonderful and people will line up to buy that crap. But Ms. Stockett’s own prejudice is quite clear to people who have some sensitivity to racism. I am very sorry but I find it difficult to support people who wear their prejudice against black people so openly on their sleeves.
So I must confess to some despair over the fact that this book has been turned into a movie. After all the hoopla over the book, I was sure that the movie, if given a reasonably descent production crew and cast, would get the same response. Sure enough, I heard that Oprah Winfrey gave the film a rave review. Other raving reviews are sure to follow.
But I was watching The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell when he announced that coming up next was a review of The Help from Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and an author in her own right. She has a reputation for focusing on issues that impact the black community. My curiosity was piqued. I waited on the edge of my seat for the review to come. After a series of false starts and more promises of the review coming up next, Ms. Harris-Perry appeared in the final segment of the show.
The review gave me back my hope. She had watched a screening of the movie exclusively for Lawrence O’Donnell and found it so disgusting she joked that she should be paid workers’ compensation for watching it. She said she actually made a series of tweets while she watched the movie that made the experience sound excruciating. After watching the film she said she had to go home to calm down because it would be too easy to frame a black feminist talking about a feel good, happy movie about race relations with a critical eye as a killjoy. She wanted to make clear that the acting and the immediate story had been somewhat entertaining. And she gave props to the acting of Viola Davis who played the maid Aibileen Clark.
But it was the stories happening around the main story that Ms. Harris-Perry took issue with, saying that black domestic workers during these early days in the civil rights era were just props for the white protagonist. The story reduced the struggles of these black women as negligible fare for the real story of what’s happening in the white people’s lives. She compared the film to The Ghost of Mississippi, a story about what had happened in the life of Bobby DeLaughters, the white district attorney who successfully prosecuted white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith for murder. Oh and by the way, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was killed.
The morning after her critique aired, I read reviews of Ms. Harris-Perry’s review. Like everyone and anyone who may be vocal about his or her sensitivity to the black community it was no surprise to see comments attacking her as a race baiter and a person who is prejudiced against the white community. Hey, she never said she was trying to be Oprah. We already have plenty of people trying to apply for that kind of role. Ms. Harris-Perry is simply trying to voice what some of us see. She recognizes this film, and consequently the book, as just another Hollywood product where the real story of the racial suffering of black people takes a back seat to the story of a young white woman. The story of young white people making a difference is a story that is put to the silver screen at least several hundred times a year. And most of these films are done without the need to soften the rock-hard edges of our tremendously disparate history of racial prejudice that still impacts the black community to this day.
One particular nasty chain of comments started with the rather nonsensical observation that Ms. Harris-Perry found herself too light skinned for her own comfort and wanted to appear blacker, thus the extreme review. This was followed up by the observation that she wasn’t one hundred percent black. As if any of that really mattered. I wonder if any of these people would accuse Ms. Stockett of being over the top white or trying hard to be whiter than most white people when she paints a depiction of racism with such bland colors to tone down the intensity.
Then again, maybe Ms. Harris-Perry is trying to be blacker than most people try to be. But I’m willing to bet that her skin color has nothing to do with it. I believe it has more to do with the fact that too many people work too hard to distance themselves from black people, to draw deep lines in our social fabric with the unfortunate result of confining the majority of black people to specific limits, and then turnaround and try to white wash the whole thing as nothing more than business as usual. It’s kind of like when a white family forces their black maid to use the outhouse instead of the indoor plumbing, and then describe the whole separate but unequal condition as some form of love.
Wisconsin Democrats took a shot at six Republican state senators hoping to unseat at least three to take back control of the Wisconsin senate and came up one seat short. Of the six recall elections the Democrats won only two. Considering the stakes, the result was a huge setback for Democrats and their supporters from organized labor and other progressive groups looking for a little payback against conservative Governor Scott Walker, who came into office earlier this year with a laser like focus on enacting a labor law overhaul that ended collective bargaining rights for many public sector workers.
With financial backing from both liberal and conservative affiliates across the nation, both sides spent millions of dollars to influence the voters. The most vulnerable conservatives were state senators Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke. All three won their political seats in close races back in 2008. Back then, Ms. Darling had won her district by a tick over a thousand ballots out of almost a hundred thousand votes cast. Her district went narrowly for Barack Obama in 2008. But last night, Ms. Darling won the recall fight with fifty four percent of the votes cast in the heavily Republican Waukesha County. Mr. Kapanke and Mr. Hopper lost their recall fight. Nevertheless, Republicans keep their senate majority, seventeen to sixteen. Two Democratic senators will face a recall fight next week and it’s quite possible that the Democrats would lose both seats and be right back at square one.
It’s not hard to imagine that many will see the results of this fight as vindication for Mr. Walker and confirmation of the conservative agenda. Commenting on the poll results, Mr. Walker tried to make a more bipartisan tone to his rhetoric saying that he plans to reach out to leaders of the legislature from both political parties in order to grow jobs.
But the Democratic leadership wasn’t as conciliatory. Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said that this political fight took place where the Republican Party had the home field advantage but the fact remains that the Democrats have begun the work of stopping Mr. Walker’s agenda. Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt claimed that the contest was an unprecedented victory for Democrats and Wisconsin voters sent a clear message that there is a growing movement to reclaim the middle class. Hollow political spin for sure because the simple fact remains that the result was far less than what the Democrats wanted to accomplish. And while it might be safe to assume true that liberals plan to move ahead with an attempt to recall Mr. Walker, it should be clear this will be an uphill battle that is bound to be loose momentum. By Wisconsin state law, the effort to recall the Governor can’t start until November and after this setback the Democrats will be doing their best to nurse a stiff upper lip all the way.
The six districts that voted on Tuesday were ground zero in a political fight between liberals and conservatives that has implications that reach a lot further than the Wisconsin state line. No matter how you might slice things it should be apparent that despite what might appear to be some heavy handed tactics to curb the rights of labor groups, the conservatives have successfully repelled the assault on its senate majority. True, the two
Democratic victories signaled a reproach of the conservative agenda, the political wound inflicted was only a flesh wound and was nothing fatal. While the margin of control has been reduced from three senate seats down to one at the moment (remember that two Democrats face recall votes next week), the fact remains that the conservatives still maintain complete control.
Conservatives and liberals across the nation were focused on Wisconsin yesterday. And while it might be true that either political side could claim some kind of victory, it’s pretty much a continuation of the status quo. The people in Wisconsin have spoken and for all practical purposes the majority of people are willing to ride this thing out for a little while longer. While the quick organization of all the labor protests to Mr. Walker’s conservative agenda was very impressive with its intensity and sincerity earlier this year, it really doesn’t look like it reflected the wants and desires of the Wisconsin majority. Despite all the high profile outrage, the people have spoken and they have given the conservatives their support. If we can extrapolate this outcome to the rest of the nation then we can expect the conservative agenda to remain in place for a while longer.
Doug Lamborn, the conservative Representative of Colorado, caught a little flak for saying that working with President Barack Obama on the debt ceiling was like touching a tar baby. For people who are sensitive to issues of race, Mr. Lamborn made a woefully poor choice of words. While he may have been technically correct in the usage of the words, the phrase “tar baby” has been used as a derogatory reference to black people. Someone with some understanding of the black community would think twice about using the word with reference to a black person, let alone America’s first black President. A person with all the racial compassion of a mound of elephant dung would welcome the chance to go where people who want to avoid controversy would fear to tread.
This is by no means something new to American politics. The term “tar baby” landed Arizona Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in hot water in the fairly recent past. And former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow used the word in a press conference during the Bush administration and caught a bit of heat for the reference. All were correctly using the phrase as a reference to being involved in a nasty yet sticky situation, and they weren’t even referring to anything related to a black person or people. Why Mr. Lamborn chose to use the phrase as a reference to Mr. Obama is truly suspect of some need to push the racially acceptable envelope. A white conservative political leader using this particular phrase in reference to a black liberal political leader, with an obvious history of being the victim of conservative’s racial bigotry, and you have the perfect conditions for racial disharmony. To say otherwise is to plead racially deaf, dumb, and most importantly, stupid.
People who come to Mr. Lamborn’s defense dismiss this sordid affair as nothing more than political correctness run amok. Despite the racial connotations, Mr. Lamborn was technically correct in his description of working with Mr. Obama. Therefore, any claim of racism is just plain wrong. At best, this is a weak argument. At worse, it’s the flawed reasoning of nincompoops. The word nigger technically refers to a person who is stingy. And yet, no one of reasonable intellect would ignore the racial slur association with the word. While it might be technically correct for a white person to call a black person a nigger for being tightfisted, the racist implication would make itself evident instantaneously.
A phrase can be used in a technically correct way and still be inappropriate. If someone was to call Mr. Lamborn a motherfucker, technically they’d be correct. While the person using the term may not have take to the bank proof, it would be a reasonable assumption that Mr. Lamborn had sexual intercourse with his wife, the mother of his five children. Therefore, it would be true that he was indeed a motherfucker. But while it may be true that the term was technically correct it doesn’t negate the fact that reasonable people may find its usage offensive and therefore should be avoided. It wouldn’t be considered political correctness run amok. It would be considered old fashioned good manners in polite company.
Back in 2008, responding to the racism association as a member of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy, Mr. Obama referred to his flesh and blood white grandmother as a typical white woman. Now, if you want to talk about political correctness run amok, here is a prime example of people reaching where nothing exist. Mr. Obama was accused of being racist and throwing his poor grandma under the bus. But what’s racist about calling a white person a typical white person? Unless being a typical white person is somehow racially derogatory, why even go there? With little doubt, many of the people who are lining up to defend Mr. Lamborn of his racially insensitive reference to Mr. Obama would have been the same ones condemning Mr. Obama for his totally benign statement regarding his grandmother. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Mr. Lamborn isn’t some neophyte to politics. Prior to his current stint as a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Lamborn served in the Colorado state legislature in both the House and Senate from 1995 through 2006. In his private, non-public service career he was an attorney in Colorado Springs specializing in business and real estate law. Despite his stupidity, he’s no dummy. He knew exactly where he was going when he made the choice to use the “tar baby”. He wanted to make a clear statement to his potential supporters that he isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. And in the process, Mr. Lamborn wanted to create his own tar baby, a sticky situation that should have been avoided.
But the usage of the term as a reference to the white Mr. Lamborn doesn’t really carry the same stigma as it does for a black person. For many people, the racially disparaging implications of such a phrase can far outweigh its technically correct applications. Any motherfucker would know that.
Late Friday afternoon, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the debt rating of the United States from the absolute top rating of AAA to the next highest rating of AA+. It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. One of the issues that we were facing as a country about to default on its debt for the first time in history was the possibility that our debt rating would be lowered and we would face consequences. Instead of heeding that warning, our political leaders fought tooth and nail to the wire about how we were going to raise the debt ceiling. We could have preserved our credit rating.
But in typical Washington fashion these days, nothing gets done without it first becoming a crisis. It wasn’t like we had to apply for a credit increase. We simply had to make a decision to say we now need to borrow X amount more money to keep paying our bills. And the longer it took to raise that debit ceiling, the greater the chance that we would default.
Conservatives argued that President Obama and his administration were only fear mongering. Too many politicians were approaching the issue from either a perspective of ignorance or an outright deception against facts. Some politicians even argued that the credit rating of the United States meant nothing. Incredibly, other politicians were arguing that it would be better if we did default. And even more difficult to believe, one tea party fueled conservative politician introduced a bill to lower the debit limit of the United States guaranteeing a default. All of this was happening as other politicians worked to keep what most rational people believed was a disaster at bay. Thanks to the less than divine guidance of our immensely unwise politicians, we managed to damage our credit all by ourselves.
And now that we dared to cross the credit worthiness line, people want to point a critical finger at S&P saying the math that the agency used was wrong. The agency’s calculation was off by two trillion dollars and that’s more than enough to justify America keeping its the triple A ranking. Why listen to S&P now when their judgment during the creation and bust of the housing bubble was so poor? What credibility does this agency have when it was giving all those financial institutions that faced default when the economy went into recession back when the global recession hit just a handful of years ago? Where did the “poor” in Standard & Poor’s come from?
Be that all as it that may be, the bottom line is that it’s hard to point the finger at S&P for doing what we knew was coming down the pipe if we didn’t get our act together. We pushed the issue right up to the final hour. And even then, the agreement that our politicians managed to hashed out fell woefully short of what we needed. The agreed upon package of cuts was a fraction the size needed and there were absolutely no increases in revenue. Few outside the conservative community were happy with the deal, nor were many inside the group. And as confirmation of the wide disapproval, the stock markets around the world have tanked like an ACME anvil.
And the primary fact that remains is that the American political system is so dysfunctional now that it is only a matter of time before our quarreling politicians make the catastrophic of mistake of pushing the issue beyond the safety limit. There is too much to gain by obstruction and too much to lose by cooperation. Compromise has become a dirty word. In fact, some politicians risk their political careers by working out a deal with their opponents. Any deal is a guaranteed defeat in some political districts. Instead of being content to get a majority of their wishes, some people organize to throw voter tantrums because they didn’t get every single thing they wanted.
Politicians would rather shut down an entire government agency rather than work out a solution to keep people at work. Politicians would rather see the loss of jobs and the further weakening of the economy before they would agree to funding a government program with a clear benefit to the public. Who needs an Environmental Protection Agency or a Federal Aviation Administration or a Department of Education? Even those these government entities employ thousands and protect millions, who needs them? And if that’s not enough, according to the debt limit deal that was arranged a committee of twelve politicians from both sides of the Congress and from both parties are to be selected for the unenviable task of hammering out another trillion dollars of deficit savings and our political leaders have promised not to select anyone who might be willing to compromise core principles. After all of this, do we really want to point the finger at Standard and Poor’s?
Anybody who thinks that the problem is the credit rating agency is really being disingenuous. The outlook for the United States appears to be a very poor one if we continue with business this unusual. The whole point of a divided government was to work on compromise and not the dysfunction that has become so popular in the past few years. Anybody who wants to know what it would be like to invest in the American economy needs to be aware of the danger. The S&P downgrade of America’s credit rating shouldn’t be attacked. To do so is just a dysfunctional argument from people who refuse to address the real issue of our dysfunction. Then again, in America foolish arguments of dysfunction has become business as usual.
A few weeks ago, maybe even months now, I saw a video clip of President Barack Obama sitting and talking with a group of young conservatives. In the clip, Mr. Obama was trying to say something about how his ever escalating disapproval rates from both sides of the political fence meant that he was doing something right to govern from the middle of the road. And this is the kind of patronizing thinking that will assure that Mr. Obama’s supporters remain on the sidelines and will result in Mr. Obama being a one term President.
To think that the disapproval of his supporters bodes well for his future is Mr. Obama at his idiotic finest. It appears that Mr. Obama is convinced that the ire of his base will give independents the impression that Mr. Obama doesn’t play any favorites and will then be some sort of safe bet for fair leadership. But nothing can be farther from the truth.
Mr. Obama was elected by liberals and people with liberal leanings to represent a liberal agenda. When he was on the campaign trail asking people for their vote, he made the promise that he would be the best man to fight for the people with a liberal perspective. He made promises that he would protect the middle and lower class. He said that he represented our best hope. And he was supported by liberals like no other candidate in history, at least from a liberal perspective.
He was also attacked like no other candidate in history. Out on the campaign trail, his conservative opponents didn’t even want to believe that Mr. Obama was an American with every right to pursue the job of President. He was a foreigner born in Kenya who refused to produce anything resembling a legitimate birth certificate. He was accused of being a terrorist and a Muslim mastermind waiting for his activation orders from none other than Osama bin Laden himself to wreak havoc on the United States. He was un-American and was not a patriot. People tried to attend his political rallies with loaded weapons as a symbol of their hatred for this man. He had no executive experience on his resume, but he had just as much executive experience as his conservative opponent, Senator John McCain. And no gesture on Mr. Obama’s part could, or would, ever shake many conservatives from their mistrust of him. It’s might be risky, but I’m willing to bet that the Secret Service put in more overtime to protect Mr. Obama and his family than all the other Presidents of the United States combined. And does it even have to be mentioned that there were so many voters who simply refused to believe that the POTUS could be a black man? These people will disapprove of Mr. Obama no matter what.
So it begs the question, why try to make your supporters disapprove of your leadership as much as your opponents? That sounds pretty dumb. In the game of politics, it is far from a smart move to go around pissing everybody off to prove your political impartiality. While it might sound like a good thing from an intellectual perspective, nobody wants an impartial President. People want a President that they believe will represent their best interest. If I had my choice between somebody who wants to be impartial and somebody who says that they have the same beliefs that I do, it won’t take flipping a coin to understand who I’d be voting for.
So now Mr. Obama is ready to campaign across America for a return to the White House as the champion of liberal politics. I’m sorry but I really do have to think hard and heavy about that. Mr. Obama has already proven to me that he doesn’t share my convictions. He doesn’t believe in a real reformation of healthcare but would rather compromise reform to the point where it resembles the same old same old with a few minor tweaks. He doesn’t believe in equal rights enough to say no to “don’t ask, don’t tell” with real conviction. He doesn’t believe in having the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes enough to make it an issue with fighting for. He doesn’t even believe in his stimulus spending enough to keep it from being turned into spending cuts. He talks big, but he really doesn’t have the moxie to hold on to what’s important. He has a well earned reputation for caving and playing it really politically safe. Unfortunately, I’d like a President who might be willing to take a political risk every now and then.
It is unfortunate, but I have no real desire to see Mr. Obama return to the White House. And what’s even more unfortunate is that I don’t see much of a plausible alternative to him. The idea of a conservative getting back into the oval office really fills me with dread. I’m not ready to see all the social programs that so many have worked hard to establish for so long get terminated or weakened to the point that they might as well be terminated. I’m not ready to see the regulations and reforms that keep corporate America from raping the public go by the wayside so some wealthy somebody can get wealthier. I’m not ready to see a conservative President continue to choose conservative justices to the Supreme Court so that corporations can become legal on paper people with more rights than flesh and blood people.
It is unfortunate, but Mr. Obama is the only game we have at the moment. He is the lesser of the evils. He is the type of candidate that says he wants me to disapprove of him just as much as the people who may support his opponents do. And if that truly was his goal, he has succeeded very well. Good luck getting back into the White House with that strategy.