Posts tagged ‘Barack Obama’
The CBO Findings-A Window into Party Perception
Let me start by saying I haven’t read the CBO report which states the ACA’s impact on future employment. All I’ve heard is the spin from both sides and it’s the spin that fascinates me.
Liberals say the CBO finding is good news. It means people will no longer be shackled to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. Conservatives say the ACA will provide yet another nanny state disincentive to work, proven by the CBO projections. I ask what is the more realistic and optimistic view?
Let’s talk reality. To afford even a heavily subsidized insurance premium people will have to work. This notion of folks just sitting back and not working doesn’t jibe with the realities of day to day life. But let’s also consider the optimistic vs pessimistic view of the American people. For all their patriotic screams of his-boom-ba, conservatives seem to view the American people as shiftless lazy loafers who will use any excuse not to work. What else could explain their reaction to the CBO report?
We WANT an economy in which number of jobs exceeds number of job seekers. It leads to lower unemployment and greater incentive for companies to make jobs more attractive to an employment pool that can now afford to be choosy. What could possibly be bad about a population that works for the joy of it and not because their health insurance is not portable?
I have to ask my conservative friends when we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what about that last one do you not understand?
The Limits of Executive Power
Conservative leaders recently said they were reticent about going forward on immigration reform because they couldn’t trust the President to execute the law as passed. Normally I’d dismiss this as Republican excuse making but this time it made me stop and think. Obama has been explicit in his intent to do as much without Congress as possible. This makes any constitutionalist rightfully quake in their boots.
Here’s the catch. I believe our founders envisioned a Congress where matters were debated and progress coupled with compromise was achieved. I don’t believe they imagined the Boehner House, the least productive in recent history or the McConnell minority in the Senate making unprecedented use of the filibuster to stall legislation. What would they say is the obligation of the executive faced with the abject failure of the legislative?
I don’t share the sky is falling view of my more conservative friends. If Obama’s acts truly violate the constitution to a criminal extent then by all means he should be impeached. I believe in the long haul justice prevails. In fact a trial of Obama would be intersecting from this perspective.
From what I understand charges against Andrew Johnson were largely trumped up. Nixon faced impeachment for covering up a burglary. Clinton was tried for covering up a blow job. A trial of Obama would put to the test the true limits of executive power not involving petty crime and sexual scandal.
I’m not sure if Obama is overstepping his bounds. I am sure that Congress by neglect of their own duties has opened the door to greater executive authority. If they want to stop Obama they need to positively legislate, not simply oppose.
Why I’m (Almost) Through With MSNBC
Ahh I miss the old thrill I would get from a self righteous Keith Olbermannn speech. He could cover so much ground and scorch all the conservative patches of it. His only true obsession besides sports was his nemesis Bill O’Reilly. To watch primetime MSNBC the past few weeks you’d think the most vital issue in America today was New Jersey Bridgegate.
My conservative friends laugh at me and mock me because I considered MSNBC a fair source of commentary especially when compared to Fox News. Now they have every right to jeer. This Christie coverage is a transparent attempt to discredit the only credible rival to a Hillary Clinton 2016 candidacy. I’m not saying Christie’s record should not be scrutinized but the MSNBC coverage is way over the top.
Sadly, the network no longer stirs the fires in my political loins. I watch it now more for pure entertainment and by habit. There are nights when I’d just as soon watch the Food Network.
Enough About Hate Crimes
Let’s start with a simple thought experiment.
A black man is deliberately killed by a white man who hates black people.
A black man is deliberately killed by a white member of the NAACP.
Which black man is more dead?
This past week I heard yet another conjecture about whether the recent murder of a black man was a “hate crime”. I don’t remember the details and it doesn’t matter. The whole concept is absurd. It is based on the nutty liberal concept that you can legislate people into loving and accepting each other.
The surest way to turn a bigot into a bigger bigot is to self righteously lecture him about his beliefs. Hearts and minds don’t change via punishment. The hate crime distinction is actually counter productive in changing hearts and minds.
Intentional murder is intentional murder. Punish the crime. For the hate, you just have to wait for the bigots to die off and the younger generation to come along. We see examples of that progress every day.
It is July 22, 2009 and President Obama is holding a press conference on health care reform. As the press conference nears its end, reporter Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asks the president what he thinks about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates outside of his own home in Cambridge MA.
Obama replies, “Lynn, first of all we’re here discussing health care reform so what’s with the off topic question? Second do I look like the friggin Mayor of Cambridge to you? Or even the Governor of Massachusetts? I’m the president of the United States. I don’t spend my time worrying about local issues. Or maybe you think you get to ask me my opinion on anything black? Is that it, Lynn? Stupid question, next.”
Sadly that is not how it went down. Obama answered the question and inserted himself into a local issue he didn’t belong in.
My preferred answer would have come from Chris Christie. Folks call Christie a bully but he calls out stupid when he sees stupid whether from a reporter or a potential voter.
“Bridgegate” will be hard for Christie to overcome if for no other reason then it shows his incompetence if not outright dishonesty. That’s a rotten shame because I would love to see a straight talking president who actually does inspire some fear in our enemies and even our Congress.
I LIKE the fact that Christie intimidates people. Perhaps he can overcome the bridge fiasco and we can get a much needed bully in the White House.
I have a running joke with myself (and those few who share my sense of humor) about the perfect selections for hold music on a suicide hotline. Just the notion of being put on hold on a suicide hotline makes me chuckle. In any case, I settled on such gems as “Dust in the Wind”, “Alone Again, Naturally” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. In recent months, however, I have discovered another resource not part of my sick imagination but very real that the clinically depressed should steer clear of. It is the PBS series “Moyers and Company“.
Bill Moyers, a participant in and observer of Washington since the days of LBJ is every liberal’s dream documentary host. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he shines a light on various flavors of American injustice. I enjoy him. I find him intelligent and genuinely curious about the world around him. When you watch him interview a guest, you get the feeling he is learning something new right along with you. The problem with “Moyers and Company” is it is long on problems and rather short on solutions. At the conclusion of each installment I find myself shaking my head in despair. Just a sample of episode titles is enough to send you to a shrink: “America’s Political Breakdown”, “How Dollarocracy is Destroying America”, “Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism” and the recent rebroadcast of “America’s Gilded Capital”.
In “America’s Gilded Capital”, Moyers interviews Mark Leibovich, the author of the Washington expose This Town. In the book (which I haven’t read) and the interview (which I did watch) Leibovich describes a Washington D.C. dedicated to job security. On every Congressman and Senator’s mind is first and foremost how to turn their time in government into some type of permanent gig, whether it be in government via reelection or outside of government in the private sector. The favorite private sector pastime of our elected officials is lobbying. Obama swore he would stop the “revolving door” of folks moving back and forth between government and lobbying firms, but his frequent exceptions have made the promise null and void. Leibovich describes a conversation he had with then Democratic Senator Chris Dodd who insisted he would never join a lobbying firm but ended up heading up the MPAA which has a strong lobbying entity. Then there is the story of Evan Bayh who left the Senate fed up with Washington dysfunction only to whore himself out to the Chamber of Commerce. And if you thought bipartisanship in D.C. was dead, think again. It breathes deep where there is money to be made, case in point liberal pundit Steve McMahon of MSNBC and conservative mouthpiece Alex Castellanos of CNN who together worked for a company called Purple Strategies and made lots of money helping BP repair its reputation after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This installment ended the way most episodes of “Moyers” end. This is just the way it is but we’ve done you a service by telling you about it. Word to the wise, watch this show with a stiff drink in one hand and a bottle of Prozac in the other.
A few random thoughts: Some of my more loyal readers who disagree with everything I write had some fun with an old post of mine recently. The post was from 2008 and was entitled “America Says Enough”. It was written in the immediate afterglow of Barack Obama’s election. The RL Blog “regulars” have had some fun mocking the piece in light of the 20/20 hindsight that shows Obama to be a bit in over his head, as demonstrated by his inability to shake off scandals, real and imagined, that have plagued him. Clearly the most recent example of gross incompetence is the botched technical roll-out of the ACA. Add to that the used car salesman rhetoric of “keeping your insurance and your doctor if you want to” and you have a beleaguered presidency that penetrates even the most rose-colored glasses.
With that said, I don’t take back a single word of what I wrote back in 2008. Back then Obama was a blank canvas upon which the right and left painted their worst nightmares and highest hopes respectively. But one thing I wrote in particular will never be sullied by Obama’s lackluster performance:
I can now look at my beautiful black daughter and tell her that she can be anything she wants to be, without exception, without caveat.
It cannot be underestimated just how many blacks like me never thought a dark-skinned man would be elected President in our lifetime. As much as I loved my country, I felt there were barriers that would not be breached for years, if not decades, to come. For anyone not to understand the emotion attached to seeing this barrier broken is to not understand the human condition. As moved as I was back then, I still felt that if Barack Obama had been Barry Johnson, great-grandson of slaves, he would not have been nominated much less elected. The very exotic nature of Obama (which has ironically fueled the birther movement) made him acceptable to those who might otherwise have dismissed him. Nevertheless the cosmetics of this half-white, half-first-generation-American of immediate African descent, evoked a visceral reaction in many, including me, and I don’t apologize for it.
Cosmetics do not a great President make. With a four-year record to look back on, I wrote a very different piece in November of 2012. In my piece “Three Open Letters”, I offer the President advice rooted in the reality of his reelection and the imperfections of his administration. The piece in 2008 and the piece in 2012 were informed by the facts on the ground at that time and the accompanying emotions. I stand by both pieces.
What I know about the problems in the Ukraine could fill not much more than this sentence but just on the surface, it is interesting to see a country whose leadership looks to “the dark side” (Russia) while its citizens want to align with the West. I’m just throwing darts here but could it be that social media and the democratization of information access makes it harder for a government to sell its agenda to its people?
On Thursday’s installment of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart once again proves why he deserves every cent he earns. His take-down of Fox News’ war on Christmas coverage is classic in its humor and its truth. The Fox News coverage is so absurd that it is all Stewart can do to fit all the insanity into one segment. The ten minute segment can be found here and here and is worth a view.
Two unsettling things that Fox’s Megyn Kelly should remember: Santa Claus as we currently celebrate him, is neither white nor black — he doesn’t exist. Second, as Jon says, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jesus looked more like Mohamed Atta than a latter-day version of the Door’s Jim Morrison.
The reality on the ground right now doesn’t change the fact that Representative Joe Wilson is a horse’s ass. However …
When the evil liberal media calls you a liar, Mr. President you’ve got a major problem. Obama told the American people repeatedly that “if you like your insurance you won’t have to change it.”
While Obama defenders split hairs about how many folks WILL have to switch policies the fact remains that Obama’s statement absent of any caveats was a flat out lie and the evil liberal media reports that this time Obama can’t claim ignorance. He knew he was lying.
You CANNOT implement sweeping ground breaking legislation and sell it with lies.
The nobility behind the ACA will have a hard time seeing sunlight so long as it’s buried under a pile of incompetence and dishonesty.
STEREOTYPE ALERT: I hereby warn the reader that the observation in this post is based entirely on a stereotype. As a black man, I tend to dislike stereotypes but once in a while I find them instructive. My apologies in advance.
Rewind 32 years. The scene is a residence hall at Harvard University called Mather House. It is where I spent three of my four undergraduate years. The place is what I will call “the TV room”, a common area with a large screen TV mounted on the wall. About a dozen of us are assembled, paying attention in varying degrees to what is being broadcast. A nerdy white kid stands up and approaches the TV and says “can I change the channel?” After a second or two of silence, a very serious young black student glares at the kid and simply says “NO!”. The attempted channel changer sheepishly sits back down and the room stops cold with an uncomfortable silence. The decision has been made definitively. No discussion, no debate. I chuckled to myself about it at the time and still do to this day. Typical of most liberal arts colleges, everything was up for debate and the more lengthy the debate, on any subject no matter how trivial, the better. It was a by-product of being “intellectual”. And my brotha was having none of it. It exemplified for me a difference between blacks and WASPs in particular that the former preferred to get down to basics while the latter preferred debate and back-and-forth.
Fast forward to 2013 and the government shut down (and debt ceiling) crisis. After Republicans tried to tie the end of Obamacare as we know it to a continuing resolution to fund the government and keep it running, Democrats in the Senate essentially said “oh no you didn’t!” A loyal reader of this blog posted an excerpt of a story stating that the “no negotiation” strategy, while being mouthed by Obama, is really being enforced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In fact, according to this source, Democrats want Obama as far from the bargaining table as possible for fear of the concessions he might make. So Harry has taken control and he has not budged an inch.
Republicans have succeeded in making him look a wee bit reprehensible when he won’t even allow a vote on small resolutions that would fund the government piecemeal but at least offer some relief to those currently suffering. But Harry has been a rock. Perhaps a comparison to Israel is better than my white/black dichotomy? Israel refuses to negotiate with hostage takers and their basic stance is “kill them and then we will retaliate but we’re not cutting any deals with you.” Harry simply will not forgive the GOP for their Obamacare stunt and even though there is no longer talk of defunding Obamacare right now, it was this original stunt that poisoned any possibility for deal making. Reid is basically saying, “you came to play like a thug and that is how I am going to treat you.”
To further my original analogy, let’s not forget that Obama spent most of his youth among intellectuals, whether at prep school or Ivy League institutions. Obama has virtually no “street” in him at all. Reid on the other hand was raised by a laundress for a brothel and was an amateur boxer. The quiet demeanor hides an approach much more suited to the street than to the Senate.
As I think back to 32 years ago, all I can say is when Senator Ted Cruz and the merry band of lunatics he inspired in the House asked “can I change the channel?’, Harry Reid glared at them and decisively said “NO!”
Do you look around and think life is starting to look like the distorted images reflected in the amusement park House of Mirrors? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually none of these observations are original — hell, lots of people and pundits are talking about them — but I wanted to get them documented for the record.
Ted Cruz in Need of Remedial Reading
During his 21 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. I think I read somewhere that he was really reading it to his kids who he thought were watching him on C-SPAN, as a bed time story. The great irony is that in the middle of a filibuster about rejecting Obamacare before it has even taken effect, he read a story about a creature who refuses to try green eggs and ham but in the end DOES TRY THEM AND LIKES THEM. Could the moral really be that Obama is “Sam I am” and Obamacare is Green Eggs and Ham?
Russia and America Allies (Sort of)
Regardless of how much you might distrust Vladimir Putin’s motives, the bottom line is that both Russia and the United States are getting what they want by Putin poking his nose into the Syria chemical weapons thing. Now, if Putin would just deport Edward Snowden, things might really be cozy.
Detente with Iran
Regardless of how much you might distrust Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, the optimist in me says it is good that he is at least talking a good game. After years of Ahmadinejad talking like a madman, Rouhani is a bit of fresh air. Quite frankly, Netenyahu’s immediate rejection of him, calling him a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only further enforces my suspicion that Bebe is not the least bit interested in peace. Wouldn’t it take the wind right out of Benjamin’s sails if Iran finally decided that a vibrant economy was more important to it than nukes? One can only hope.
Is the Pope Catholic?
In recent weeks Pope Francis has said that the church over-obsesses about abortion and homosexuality. He has suggested that God loves homosexuals much as He loves others. He has even gone so far as to suggest that atheists who “follow their conscience” will be in God’s good graces. All this is not quite enough to make me convert but it sure makes it harder for me to be critical. This Pope serves the purpose that I believe religion should serve in every day life — as consolation to the downtrodden and spiritual nourishment to those faltering. 34 years ago my college roommate asked me “do you love?” I replied “yes”. He shot back at me “then you believe in God.” What a beautiful notion of faith — that it is overwhelmed by love of self and others. This Pope seems to be on that trip, and my hat is off to him.
Why Don’t We Care About Each Other Anymore?
A few weeks ago a woman called me on my job very upset that her dog was locked in her car. Assuming that some public agency could get help to her faster than I could, I put her on hold and called the police, the fire department and even animal control. NO ONE WOULD HELP. That’s right, not a single public agency representative gave a flying fig that this woman’s dog might die in her car from the heat. The good news is that while I searched in vain for help, she was able to get help on her own. As an aside, she assumed the worst about me and reported me as negligent despite the fact I had done everything I could to help her. The public agencies thought she was worthless and she in turn thought I was worthless.
A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shot the place up. The top two questions that the media focused on were “how did someone with his psychological profile get security clearance to work at the Navy Yard?” and “how did someone with his profile get a gun?” While both were reasonable questions, the most important question was asked almost as an afterthought. This man told authorities he heard voices in his head. He did not receive help. Were folks just too busy? This man essentially asked for help because he knew that he was a danger to himself or others. Why didn’t anyone care enough about him to get him the help he needed? That was the fundamental question that should have been asked. Why didn’t someone intervene in this man’s life to help him?
On the flip side was the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school book-keeper who calmed down a mentally ill man who had entered her school with an AK-47. In her short encounter with the man, caught on a 911 tape, she probably showed him more respect than he had received from anyone in a long time. When he agreed to give himself up she said, “I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you, It’s a good thing you’re just giving up. Don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
This true hero met danger head on with compassion. In that moment, she convinced that man that someone cared about him. That made a difference and I believe it makes a difference in everyone’s life. I have had the good fortune of always having someone in my corner, whether it was my parents, or a teacher, or my wife and precious daughter. I’ve always known that at least someone cared about me.
There is so much anger in this country right now. Why don’t we take a page from Miss Tuff? She is right. We all go through something in life. Why don’t we help each other get through it?
On the twelfth anniversary of the devastating attacks of 9/11 Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an OP-ED in the New York Times discussing the ongoing crisis in Syria. The irony of Putin writing about a peaceful world is as thick as pea soup.
Yet the part of the piece that has drawn much criticism from both right and left was his closing paragraph.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Clearly Putin did not need to go there to make his point about Syria but I am so glad he did.
Finally someone has told us in public to get some humility and stop the holier than thou crap we’ve been spewing for decades now. Our arrogance as a country knows no bounds. We have sufficient problems in this country from self inflicted economic depression to social unrest that we should not be lecturing anyone about anything. We have our own house to clean up big time.
The editorial should not have been titled “A Plea for Caution”. It should have been titled “America, Get Over Yourself”. I salute Comrade Putin for saying in public what so many countries must be saying about us in private.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten over the juvenile urge to tip my hat to the disaster movie spoof “Airplane”, let’s break down this Syria thing.
Let’s get this one out of the way immediately. Please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. The folks killed by chemical weapons are a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of folks killed in Syria in the past two years. Where was our humanitarian urge for the past two years?
Basically our policy has been “you can keep killing your people by the hundreds so long as you don’t do it in a way we deem too nasty.” If that is humanitarianism then it defies logic. But then the entire global sanction against chemical weapons makes no real sense. Either we condemn countries for senseless slaughter or we don’t.
A limited targeted strike against Bashar al-Assad will punish him for killing people in a really nasty way (as opposed to the nicer ways to kill people). Really? We are going to kill innocent people while punishing Assad. Why don’t we send in a mercenary to kill Assad? Isn’t that the real punishment we want to deliver? Assad is dealing with a civil war. He is managing daily chaos whether we like his methods or not. Do we really think a slap on the wrist will really keep him up at night? Please, we’ll be a minor distraction. Unless of course we sign up for …
Obama said “Assad must go”. Assad’s natural response is “who’s gonna make me? You and what army?” And in steps John McCain and his merry band of war mongers who never saw a war they didn’t like. That combined with Obama’s secret delight at defying the wimpy liberal stereotype almost guarantees “boots on the ground” despite the President’s claims to the contrary.
This brings us to another totally baffling side of this story …
The Element of Surprise
As in, there is none. I find it profoundly embarrassing that we are having a public discussion about how big a badass we are going to be. I’m not alone in this. Retired Major General Robert Scales writes in the Washington Post
So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
My only solace is we are not alone in our public hand wringing as Great Britain has already made a spectacle of itself with Parliament telling David Cameron “bloody hell no!”
How ’bout Minding Our Own Business?
Remember back in 1963 when we turned fire hoses and dogs on innocent Americans including minors? Remember how Khrushchev sent ships to our Southern shores and warned Kennedy that if we didn’t stop abusing our own people he would attack the US?
Me neither. In fact when Khrushchev had the balls to put missiles in Cuba we threw a hissy fit that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. So where do we get off putting our ships within striking distance of Syria when they have presented no direct threat to us? How might this story evolve if Assad said “Barack, you’ve got 48 hours to get your ships away from my country or I’ll blow them out of the water.”
He won’t do that because he and everyone else has gotten used to America patrolling the globe as the self-righteous guardian of all that is decent and good. It’s one reason why a handful of nations hate our guts.
To me with each passing day this Syria thing becomes a no-brainer. It’s way too late to play humanitarian; we can’t really punish Assad without overcommitting; we look incompetent and ham-fisted in our public debate about what should be confidential military strategy; and finally, a sovereign country’s civil war is none of our business no matter how nasty it gets.
A no from Congress will humiliate Obama. Tough. There is no reason for us to lose a single American life to protect the street cred of a President.
A few years ago I went ballistic when I found out my daughter’s school district in Connecticut was allowing students to opt out of viewing a recorded academic pep talk by relatively new President Barack Obama. The satirical and very angry piece that this situation inspired sent thousands of visitors to Best of the Blogs where my piece had been re-published from my blog.
Well it’s four years later and Obama hasn’t won over too many adversaries (and has probably disappointed a good number of supporters). As the lunatic fringe Tea Party US Representatives went home for summer break, they entertained questions at town halls about Obama’s potential for impeachment. Even the mostly sensible Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn said recently that Obama was skirting close to high crimes and misdemeanors.
So rather than go on another rant like I did in 2009, I ask you dear reader to cast your vote on this impeachment thing. Add a comment below to elaborate on your vote if you like. I must tip my hat to the great New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd for the third option in the ballot below.
Never have I been more embarrassed to be a black man than in the immediate aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Particularly if you watched liberal news outlets like MSNBC you were treated to a parade of intelligent successful, dare I say articulate, black men and women bemoaning how awful mean old whitey has made things for them and theirs. In my opinion it cheapens all their great successes and the hard work they have put in to get where they are.
Chief among the offended is the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). From the emails I get from them, it appears that the organization is really interested in “Advancement of Colored People by White People”. Most every communication I get involves getting the government to stop mean old whitey from taking advantage of poor black folk You know what gang? It gets old. What happened to people owning their own destiny? What struck me about the Zimmerman/Martin dust-up was black’s refusal to take any ownership for what happened to Trayvon Martin. If you listened to the black narrative, echoed by well-meaning but badly deluded liberal white journalists, you would think that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon and shot him right off the bat — or worse, shot him in the back as Trayvon was running away. You would think Trayvon was a small child about the age of 13 with a bag of Skittles. To listen to the popular liberal narrative, you would never know that Trayvon was a kid suspended twice from school, a full 17 years of age with a height and weight appropriate for that age, who punched George Zimmerman in the face. The narrative that is not spoken is that George deserved an ass-whupping for hassling the kid. Trayvon represented decades of collective pent-up black oppression that burst forth on George Zimmerman. George was getting a righteous beat-down and had no right to shoot in self-defense.
I have a suggestion for Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP. Invite Bill Cosby over for lunch and have a nice long talk. You see, Cosby has long advocated blacks cleaning up their own act before crying foul. Instead of inspiring a movement of self-motivation and ownership, Cosby has gotten heat for his comments. The following is a spliced and diced version of Cosby’s remarks to the NAACP in 2004 on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, that has circulated on the Internet for some time:
They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk…
Why you ain’t
Where you is
What he drive
Where he stay
Where he work
Who you be…
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.
In fact, you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.
The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what??
And they won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.
I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was 2??
Where were you when he was 12??
Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol??
And where is the father?? Or, who is his father?
People putting their clothes on backward, isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong?
People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something?
Or, are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?
Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?
What part of Africa did this come from??
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a thing about Africa .
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.
Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem.
We have got to take the neighborhood back.
People used to be ashamed. Today, a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands’ — or men or whatever you call them now.
We have millionaire football players who cannot read.
We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs.
We, as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal- Mart with seven kids… you are hurting us.
We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.
We cannot blame the white people any longer.
The full text of Cosby’s speech can be found here.
Whenever I’ve taken this tack, I am reminded that it is wrong to single out blacks for this. There are plenty of whites behaving ignorantly as well. But it isn’t a winning strategy to defend one’s ignorance with the excuse “white people do it too”.
So here is the bottom line for Ben Jealous. Start spreading Cosby’s message. Start telling parents that if your kid uses the N word in his Twitter handle there is something wrong. Tell parents that if your kid is caught with jewelry from an unknown source and a screw driver in his backpack, there is something wrong. Tell them that for as long as pot is illegal, getting caught with it at school ain’t cool.
There is a photo hitting the Internet now courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The NAACP can help make sure that this child’s life does matter by advocating a good education and proper behavioral role models for the kid. Blacks kill each other in urban centers throughout the country on a daily basis. Do we demonstrate through this behavior that black life matters to us? Everyone from the outraged MSNBC commentator to the President himself has tried to turn Trayvon Martin into a hero. The best way the NAACP can make a hero out of Trayvon Martin is to dedicate itself to creating fewer of him.
The Race Speech Part Deux
Last Friday Barack Obama made an impromptu 17 minute speech on race in America vis-a-vis Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. Two things struck out at me:
Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.
Really? Let’s put aside the young Obama’s fondness for pot. Yes he and Trayvon had that in common (oh God — I’m echoing Sean Hannity, there is some nasty karma coming my way). But please tell me — if Twitter had existed 35 years ago would Obama really have been No_Limit_Nigga? Would Obama have been suspended twice from school for serious infractions? Would Obama have been involved in striking a bus driver? To put it another way, do we really think Trayvon was headed for President one day? Not without a serious course correction, that’s for damn sure. So who are we fooling here? Are we really making Trayvon the yardstick by which we judge our outstanding young black men?
There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.
Time to queue Maya Wiley on an MSNBC special:
i have had the woman clutch their purses. and i do want to say that what he didn’t say, white women clutch their purses. i mean, we’re not talking about black women getting in an elevator. that’s what’s so racialized about it.
Maya is President and Founder of the ironically named Center for Social Inclusion. I have seen Maya on several different shows in the past week and I get the distinct impression she has a certain dislike for white people. So what kind of inclusion is she interested in? Maya wants to make clear that Obama is referring to white women in his “elevator” comment. Allow me to let Maya in on a little secret.
Obama’s car locks clicking reference resonated with me. You know why? It was not because it has ever happened to me while walking across the street. Granted I am light enough to pass for white and physically disabled so that might be unlikely. It resonated with me because as a boy, when my Dad was driving through Harlem, my Mom — my very black Mom — would urge my father to roll up the windows and make sure the car doors were locked. It resonated with me because my Dad — my very black Dad — would arrive to work in a ghetto school extra early so he could park close to the building to avoid being mugged — again — by a black hoodlum. It resonated with me because in high school when I was sitting next to a girl I wanted to impress, I became mortified when some jive talking fool swaggered into the room and I was afraid of guilt by racial association.
This is the little dirty secret that Maya doesn’t want you to know. Black women clutch their purse a bit tighter and hold their breath when a brother enters the elevator, unless of course the dude is dressed professionally and doesn’t appear threatening. Black people with the capacity and the will, get the hell out of all black neighborhoods for fear of crime like my grandparents did in the 1970′s. Many black people are mortified by the behavior of some of their brothers and sisters. Not many of us have the guts to say it publicly because our honesty gives fodder to virulent bigots who use our comments to come to the wrong conclusions.
They say that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Blacks have a public relations problem in large part due to our own behavior and what we tolerate from our own people. We white-wash Trayvon Martin instead of admitting what a terribly flawed young man he was. We get defensive about “star witness” Rachel Jeantel instead of mourning the fact that the young woman cannot write or read cursive handwriting and is at least one year behind in school.
Barack’s second speech on race since he became a public figure puts his first speech (defending Reverend Jeremiah Wright) into a new perspective. Liberals loved both speeches. But both speeches basically come down to “white people, you just don’t understand”. Both speeches either defend or ignore ignorant and inflammatory behavior.
What saddens me most about the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and President Obama’s speech is that it didn’t inspire the “conversation about race” that really needs to occur, the conversation among black people to take control of our reputation, clean up our act, and be a shining beacon of victory over oppression — not because white folks changed but because WE changed and made our lives better.