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The Real Problems with the Tuskegee Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a now infamous commencement address at Tuskegee University a couple of weeks ago. I read the speech transcript and for the most part it was boiler plate graduation speech. It was when Michelle decided to empathize with the audience that things went off the rails. It was a mistake but not for the reasons primarily cited by Fox and its conservative friends. 

The two gripes I heard were that Michelle recited a litany of black victimization and that she exaggerated. I heard stuff like “puhleeze, Obama went to prep school. Nobody was dissing Obama on racial grounds.” There were also accusations of not being “grateful” for the assumed affirmative action that Michelle was no doubt the beneficiary of. 

This all misses the point. The otherwise ordinary speech became a travesty for two reasons. First, Michelle chose a joyous event to tell these students essentially “no matter what you do, to whitey you’ll always just be a n—–.” This is what the predominantly black class will need to overcome. Is that really what Martin Luther King Jr. died for? After all the struggle and suffering culminating in the election of the first black president, Michelle’s message was that they should ignore  all the whites who voted for her husband and assume whites will give them the shaft. How inspirational!

The second problem is the “they” in Michelle’s attempt at empathy. “They” who cross the street when “they” see you coming. “They” who follow you around the store assuming you’re a thief. The “they” of course is white people. This reminds me of Obama at a San Francisco fundraiser talking about “clinging to guns and religion” or Romney and his 47% comment. Did it not occur to Michelle that her not-secretly-recorded speech would be seen by lots and lots of WHITE PEOPLE? Did she think she was having a private rap session? Does she not understand she is the First Lady of these white folks? Do they not have feelings? Do they deserve gratuitous offense from the best known woman in the country?

Six years ago I was seething with anger about the way some white folks were treating Barack Obama. I wrote then,

Well guess what folks! He is our President! Barack Obama is our President. He is your President if you voted for him. He is your President if you did not. He is your President if you are black. He is your President if you are white. He is your President if you are progressive and dammit, he is your President if you are conservative. He is OUR President.

Now I find myself needing to remind our First Lady that blacks are your people and whites are YOUR PEOPLE. ALL AMERICANS ARE YOUR PEOPLE! 
A hat tip goes to one of my readers who pointed me to a video by the YouTube host of “ZoNation” who touches on a couple of these themes. 

Michelle Obama owes the deservedly proud graduates of Tuskegee an apology for putting their accomplishments against a backdrop of racial discord. She owes America an apology for highlighting what divides us. It was beneath the dignity of a First Lady of the UNITED States of America.  

What do you think? The bar is open. 

An aside: I DO believe the government should  heavily subsidize the education of everyone. I do NOT agree with some of the points made in the video by Alfonzo Rachel. But that’s for another post. 

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Murder by Drone and the Legacy of a Myth

Murder by Drone

As I watched Barack Obama “take responsibility” for the death of Warren Weinstein, I momentarily left my body and inhabited that of his widow. I thought, what does it mean that you’re taking responsibility? How can you possibly compensate me for my loss? Will you go to jail for my husbands murder? If not, who will?

Weinstein, a USAID worker died in what can only be honestly called a Keystone Kops operation. What’s more shocking is that it is Keystone Kops by design. This was not a botched attempt to rescue Weinstein. It was not even an attempt to take out specific Al Qaeda personnel. This was a “signature strike”. A signature strike, as I understand it, is a drone attack on a target that shows terrorist activity, comings and goings. However the folks who are coming and going are not identified. The target simply meets the signature of bad guy activity. They didn’t know Weinstein was there. Two terrorists killed in this attack were killed entirely by accident. Again, not knowing was a feature of the operation, not a bug.

There is already controversy about the collateral damage done by drone attacks against known human targets. To expand this carnage to operations where we don’t know who we are killing seems a step too far. How did we get here? It’s the impersonal nature of the technology. It’s high stakes video gaming.

At the White House Correspondents Dinner, Saturday night, Obama promised to bring jailed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian home from Iran. All I could think was, “if we don’t kill him first.”

The Legacy of a Myth

Michael Brown did not deserve to spark a movement. He was a juvenile delinquent destined to be a blight on society barring unlikely effective intervention. Yet the myth of Brown’s demise in Ferguson, Missouri (hands up, don’t shoot) has indeed been a game changer.

No matter how much the true facts of Ferguson were twisted, the Ferguson incident has laid down a new marker. There is a “mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore” mood on the streets of many urban neighborhoods right now. The war zone behavior of some police (justified or not) will no longer be tolerated.

Bottom line, “fair” or not, a white cop better have a good reason for killing a black suspect or there will be marches and in the cases of Ferguson and Baltimore, cities will burn. That is the new reality brought about by the undeserving standard-bearer, Michael Brown.

What do you think? The bar is open.

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Why Christie or Kasich Must Run

I am faced with a dilemma that any honest liberal faces. We are about to witness the coronation of the next Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton seems to have the nomination sewn up and we are still over a year away from the Democratic Convention. We haven’t even seen a caucus or primary and it feels like we won’t see one. At least we won’t see any credible opposition. Martin O’Malley is far from compelling. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have virtually no foreign policy chops. Jim Webb is remotely interesting but hardly a guy “you wanna have a beer with”. To beat Hillary’s celebrity, we need someone with a winning personality and I’m not sure Webb is that guy.

So what is wrong with Hillary? Not a genuine bone in her body. Political to the core. And, most importantly a proven liar and obfuscater. And there, my friends, is the dilemma. How do we vote in 2016 when the candidate who says she wants to be our “champion” (a manufactured poll-tested line if there ever was one) is so full of crap?

We have to vote Republican. There are only two men on the horizon, who have not yet declared, for whom a vote from me would not kill me. They are Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Here is why:

Kasich passes the “beer companion” test. He’s likeable with a good sense of humor and a strong streak of self-deprecation. He makes a very strong case for his own candidacy — just watch his appearance on Meet the Press from this week. He’s been in and around Washington long enough to know how the place works. He balanced the budget under Bill Clinton. By his reckoning, he has turned around Ohio and as a Governor, he knows how to run stuff. He appeals to blacks. Let me repeat that — he appeals to blacks. I am thoroughly fed up with conservative candidates who make zero attempt to court the black vote.

Christie also has the “beer companion” quality. His record in New Jersey is mixed. The Jersey economy not doing as well as he might like. But he is a straight shooter in a collection of manufactured sound bites and manipulative language. His recent statement about Hillary’s opposition to big money in politics while she rakes in big money is a perfect example of his ability to call out hypocrisy. His willingness to lose a vote for the sake of honesty is admirable. Case in point: his recent trip to New Hampshire where he proposed changes to Social Security and his assertion that we need to take a new look at entitlement programs. Most conservatives will spout this when it comes to the poor (cutting food stamps, for example) but few will broach the middle class and wealthy getting their priorities straight. Christie will.

Above all, I am so tired of being lied to. My radar may be off — it has been in the past — but I feel Kasich and Christie will tell it like it is. They are WYSISYG candidates, not molded by consultants and “thought leaders”. I want a presidential candidate who will tell me the truth and not pander. They are few and far between and I think Kasich and Christie qualify.

Christie and/or Kasich must run because ABH (anyone but Hillary) is not good enough for me. I want to vote in 2016. I consider it my responsibility. But if the Republican party cannot put forward a sane, measured and transparent candidate to oppose HRC, for the first time in my adult life I may need to skip the election altogether.

What do you think? The bar is open.