Saturday, August 30, 2014

Barack Obama is the John Cena of American Politics: You Make the Call. Cornel West Versus Melissa Harris-Perry Part 2

As is our weekend habit, do treat this as a semi-open thread.

I hope that you have a nice Labor Day weekend. Does anyone have a BBQ or similar outing planned? Any tips or tricks from you grill masters?

The election of Barack Obama also began a series a feuds among various elements of the "left", "liberals", and "progressives". Some of the most intense spats were between black public intellectuals whose responses to Obama's tenure center on his willingness to negotiate with obstructionist and racist Republicans, how the president is the Scold-in-Chief of Black America (and silent on white racism), and is a pawn of Wall Street and the corporateocracy.

Politics is professional wrestling. The newest angle in the feud is Cornel West's blistering take down of President Obama. In a much discussed conversation with Thomas Frank, West engages in some harsh truth-telling. For example, he says the following about Obama:
"And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.
West loves delivering the gut shots on Obama to get the cheap heat. Jim Ross could call West's assaults on Obama with the same style and energy as this classic storyline when The Russians and Eddie Gilbert laid out Cowboy Bill Watts:

One of West's early foes (and target of his sharp rhetorical darts) is Professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry. In contrast to Dr. West's repeated criticisms of Obama, Harris-Perry wrote a piece for the The Nation in which she locates the black resistance to thug white police abuse in Ferguson relative to the inspiration that Obama's election provided to black Americans (and their (then) feelings of political empowerment and citizenship).

She observed:
During the 2008 general election, Senator Obama rarely spoke about racism directly, but he endured it and bore up under it. Indeed, he inspired a multiracial, intergenerational coalition that included states of the former Confederacy to carry him into the White House. He brought along with him the symbolic possibility of full inclusion. In 2012, President Obama’s re-election in the context of massive efforts to suppress African- American voters made it clear that black people were unwilling to cede the ground they had gained in asserting their political will. 
No matter what his policies, his politics or his public pronouncements, Barack Obama changed the relationship of African-Americans to the American state. Even as they were forced to endure the images of Michael Brown’s lifeless body lying in the street for hours, many black Americans see in President Obama’s living presence in the halls of power a stark reminder that another outcome is possible for black men if their communities refuse to be silenced... 
The election of Barack Obama is a model of what’s possible when black people refuse to stay in their assigned places, when they demand more say in the system. He is president less because of his individual accomplishments than because his community was determined to see him assume a position of power. They mobilized repeatedly on his behalf even when they were told not to. (Emanuel Cleaver and John Lewis both backed Hillary Clinton in 2008 and were overcome by their constituencies.) Michael Brown’s community learned these lessons well.
Despite his best efforts to be the embodiment of respectability, it turns out Barack Obama is a role model for resistance. Yes we can.
Barack Obama is like the WWE's John Cena. He inspires boos and cheers both across the ideological divide between the Tea Party white supremacist GOP and the Democratic Party, as well as among the black commentariat.

I would suggest that West is misrepresenting Obama and his bonafides--Obama never marketed himself as a progressive beyond the empty slogan "hope and change". And if one follows the money, Obama is a Rockefeller Republican, who is beholden to Wall Street and the banking classes. West is a brilliant and smart man. He knows that "presidents are selected and not elected". Consequently, the Office of the President of the United States of America will not be occupied by a radical who would satisfy either West's or the progressive left's dreams, desires, or policy goals.

Dr. Harris-Perry is assigning too much meaning to the symbolic power of Obama and its role in the Ferguson uprising against the police rioters. Obama is not and cannot be a role model for resistance. The linking of the "resistant" to "President of the United States" is an oxymoron.

In addition, there is a history of black folks rising up against police abuse and white racism that predates Obama's tenure.

Moreover, while Obama's election signaled a momentary bump in Black American's positive views of the country and race relations, the data indicates how that effect has subsided and diminished during Obama's time in office.

Black politics is experiencing a crisis of meaning and relevance because of neoliberalism's power, the durability of institutional racism and white supremacy, a diminishing sense of linked fate within the black community, and the realization that the country's first black president--whose election should have been a high point in the Black Freedom Struggle--is unwilling and unable to confront many of the deep structural problems that have created the particular and unique challenges faced by black people in America. Harris-Perry has a deep  grasp of these facts. Her effort to find some meaning in Obama's position relative to the events in Ferguson is understandable. It is also a great question that will/is being empirically evaluated by social scientists and other researchers.

What is your take on Obama, Harris-Perry, and West?

As always, do you have any interesting news items or other information to share?


Miles_Ellison said...

Many of the black people who voted for Obama are angry that he turned out to be the pragmatic centrist he actually is instead of the black militant they wish he was.

chauncey devega said...

Black militant president? surely, folks didn't believe such nonsense :)

chauncey devega said...

Some great links there. Hope and Change was one of the greatest slogans of all time. Cooked up by Manhattan ad firms. If you didn't read the Platypus link do so.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I agree on not being surprised by his centrism. From what I remember he ran on at least a few solid platforms, end the Iraq War as soon as possible, end Afghanistan in a feasible manner, reform health care, reform immigration policies, address inequality in America, don't be a complete bigoted piece of garbage.

I think he's delivering on at least what he set out to do with the tools he has at his disposal.

RPM said...

Everyone projects on their favored candidates. I'd say none more so than Obama but just listen to those Paul supporters(either one) and you'll see this is what people do. I was never impressed by Obama. I never understood how people bought into the b.s. simply because he was saying it. I listened to what he said when campaigning others just how he said it. Happy slogans and a less checkered past than Clinton doesn't mean much when he's still bought and paid for by the same people. When he campaigned he said he was going to hunt down Bin Laden and kill him. Did it by illegally entering a sovereign nation and murdering him. People hated him so no one cared. Than he continued to commit the same act on other terrorists in Pakistan. Of course most of those 'Terrorists' are Pakistani women and children and a few American citizens that get due process thrown out. Boot licked for Wall Street and The Pentagon. Continues to allow torture and rape to continue in Guantanamo. Never prosecuted war criminals Bush, Cheney and the rest of those thugs for their illegal war and torture. Never went after Wall Street. Allows the military to continue to destabilize several nations in Africa and The Middle East.
If anything West is too soft on him. Perry is a mouthpiece for power. I never expected anything from him as President. Same song, same dance, new cheerleader for the same team. On election night '08 I said he was the enemy now. I just had no idea he's be this bad. Everyone with even half a brain knew Bush was evil. Not complicated, not a disappointment. Evil. A sadistic, power hungry torturer s.o.b. But did I think Obama was going to continue all the horrible shit that Bush did? Did I expect he would be bombing Pakistani children at weddings, at funerals, at their homes day in day out? Nope. Didn't expect anything from him and still disappointed because of one serious difference between him and Bush(or Clinton, Reagan Nixon Johnson ect.). Bush never inspired any one in my generation. In college so many my age I knew, wouldn't vote. Kerry was just another old Skull and Bones white man. Nothing new here. The Obama factor actually got people excited about civics. Alas they listened to the messenger not the message. It's happening again with Warren. Just like Bill de Blasio. They think that their will be some progressive savior. Than they all come out in favor of Israel apartheid and mass murder. AIPAC has got them by the balls and they aren't the only ones. If Rand Paul becomes president all this anti war shit gets tossed out the window. Johnson campaigned as anti war too look where he ended up. Perry is idiotic for equating Obama with resistance. Those in power are not the resistance they are there to be resisted. S for West this seems more personal for him. He drank the Kool Aid and is pissed that it tastes like poison and that will be one of the many horrible legacies of Obama. Inspired hope in the young to become deeply cynical. Americans will fall for it again, gullible as they are. We have never had good leaders just ones slightly less terrible. Only plus side to it that I see is that people will slowly stop(emphasis regrettably on slowly) looking for the great men and women of history to take care of them and start doing it themselves. Resistance is growing, it just won't fit into the confines of the wealthy's global slave state and their illusion of choice. So vote for whoever you want but remember the one truth about politics as professional wrestling slogan: the fix is already in.

kokanee said...

kokanee said...

Thanks. Very interesting and meaty stuff.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

yeah, that's a solid list.

On Gitmo: Recently he spoke about torture there in the past tense...I wasn't sure if it was still going on. I wonder if his security team is holding him back on it. Of course Republicans don't want to move the detention center to the US where they will be subject to our laws and torture could be persecuted.

Tax cuts were a huge tipping point. Republicans had thwarted all plans from 2010 onward.

Healthcare "debate" was bad and too confusing for me to follow. I was in college at the time, uninsured, working and still had incredible back pain.

Persecution of Wall Street: While not really doing much, the feds have been going after them, just recently they got a huge settlement from BofA, but what we really need is some justice for families impacted by the recession, mortgage relief was stonewalled by Republicans and has been used to make the administration seem a failure.

Patriot Act is a disappointment.

They're trying to end Afghanistan, but they don't want to leave the country less secure as in Iraq, most likely. Regardless, the troops will probably be out by the end of his term.

Abolishing military tribunals? I don't remember that promise, but they have stopped them, restarted them with different provisions, and stopped them again.

kokanee said...

The list was just the beginning. I learned from the milquetoast legislation that the administration had ready to go upon inauguration. Then came health care which he publicly said he was for single payer but behind the scenes the health care industry people were reassured that it wouldn't be. Instead of leading on the issue he choose to "lead from behind" and let "congress do its job" in which Senate blue dog Democrats were called to scuttle their own party's bills in what we call "villain rotation." In not going after the people who enacted torture he said, "We need to look forward and not behind." That view would end all criminal justice as we need to look forward and not behind.
Now the worse than (or just as bad as) Bush list:
- War on whistleblowers and journalists.
- Breaking up of occupy through DHS.
- Drones with his "kill list" including several American citizens
- Total lack of transparency and accountability after promising it. The constant use of "national security" claims to shield secret "laws" from court challenges. - NDAA 2012 Section 1021 which allows an American citizen to be apprehended on American soil and turned over to the military for indefinite detention. The worst part was his defense of it when challenged through the courts. Publicly, he promised not to use it. - His frequent attempts to put social security cuts on the table
- His attempt to "fast track" Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

It's best to just think of politicians as careerists and paid spokespeople for elites' interests. Not unlike professional wrestlers or mainstream media figures. And so the struggle for freedom of thought, true democracy and human rights continues...

wisconsinreader70 said...

I lived in Chicago when Mr. Obama was indeed "selected" by some rich and powerful people - they were correct in that he was capable of winning a national election - twice. . . My view is that he was Bill Clinton again - but with morals and early support in Congress to get some things done. . . At some point in the near future the masses will "select" a Democratic candidate - whom the rich and powerful "moderates" don't want (an Alan Grayson type?) and we will see their true colors when they hold their noses and support the Republican. . . The Democratic Party will only then become the true party of working people - science - progress. . .

Jeepers said...

"If anything West is too soft on him."
You said it buddy.

Jeepers said...

"It's best to just think of politicians as careerists and paid spokespeople for elites' interests."

Don't let him off the hook with that trope. Careerist though he may be, there is simply no excuse for the depth of Obama's betrayal domestically and the extent of his recklessness abroad. He is much worse than he had to be. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. And that's saying something when you've got Dubya in contention. Bush gave us Iraq and Afghanistan, but Obama gave us Afghanistan extended, Libya, Syria, Iraq redux/ISIS, Ukraine and the threat of World War III. Who'd athunk in 2008 he would outBush Bush?

kokanee said...

Ah, Glen Ford's "more effective" evil comes to mind:

Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil

Re: "He is much worse than he had to be."

Agreed. His job is to do whatever he can get away with for the powers that be/the man/the corporatorcracy/the plutocrats/the corporate oligarchy/the deep state/fill in the blank...

Buddy H said...

I can tell you this: my wife is good friends with a woman she graduated high school with. My wife's friend went to Harvard to study law. She was in there the same year Obama was there. She told us even then, everybody knew he wanted to be president someday.

There is a view out there that somehow Obama was a modest guy who late in life decided to run for POTUS. In reality, it was on his mind from the beginning.

I always joke with my wife's friend that if she'd played her cards right, she might be the First Lady today.

But I'm not sure I can agree with those of you on the left who feel betrayed that Obama wasn't a radical who had the Bush administration arrested for war crimes. I remember the late, great Bill Hicks, who said that anyone who is elected president is given a briefing by the people who really run the country. They show him a film of the JFK assassination, but from an unfamiliar angle, different from the Zapgruder movie. They tell him this is what happens to anyone who tries to deviate from the script.

Obama is lucky to be alive after six years. If he'd done a fraction of what we progressives wish he'd done, we'd be listening to a chastened President Joe Biden. Some "lone nut" would have taken Barry out, no questions asked.

Here's Bill Hicks:

Usman yerima said...

I think Cornell West is a damn joke. Ok, aside from his dramatic and theatrical public rendition of anti Obama/anti Oligarch/anti special interest rage, etc, what has Cornell West done for the blacks or the poor he claims to speak for? Does Cornell West not work in a White owned Institution? Does not Cornell West not make rounds on White owned media where he is paid appearance fees? Who owns these whites media establishments if not the same Corporate Oligarchs he loves to demonize?
If he believes he has the solutions to black people's problems, then he should execute those solutions to the betterment of black communities across America. Of what use is it to foam in the mouth and deliver bombastic rhetoric on msnbc, or any other news outlet year in year out while failing to do one single thing to change the plight of black people? What has his loud talk harsh words delivered? He should shut up!!! Dr. West is all talk and nothing to show for.
How stupid is it to demand for equity from people and a society that is hell bent in maintaining inequity? How stupid is it to demand employment from white employers who really are opposed to employing black people? How stupid is it to continue seeking and expecting justice and equal treatment from the oppressors of black people? And let's imagine for a second that they give these demands of ours, would that be counted as victory? What prevents white people from taking back what they've give as they are currently doing right now?

Dr. West should shut up. What black should do is focus more on self reliance, black ingenuity, and an undying drive to produce everything we need to survive so we can finally say to our oppressors, 'to hell with you'., and we can survive without you.

chauncey devega said...

Worst president ever? I can think of many many many worse presidents. He is a centrist in a country where the far right has succeeded in moving the center ever farther right. Obama was/is rearranging chairs on the Titanic...a powerful image of our country's first black president.

chauncey devega said...

I wonder how many rubes actually believe that Obama actually woke up one day in his later 30s early 40s and had a magical epiphany that he would president?

chauncey devega said...

Obama couldn't punish a former president for his crimes. That would set a dangerous precedent. Stability trumps morality and ethics. Hicks was something else. I wonder what George Bush Sr. knows? He was CIA, VP, President, and comes from a connected family that made money off of the Nazis.

Jeepers said...

Go ahead then. Name 'em.

chauncey devega said...

Are you kidding? Historians and political scientists routinely compile a list of "best" and "worst" presidents. The metrics and measurements vary. We could easily put Nixon, Johnson, Buchanan, Hoover (who I think is underrated btw), George Bush 2, etc. etc.

I would also put Reagan on my personal worst list. History will not be kind to him.

Black SciFi said...

If you believe things have gotten worse, consider the alternatives in 2008 -12.
Voting Rights?
As with Syria and ISIL, the president is ALLOWING his opposition, both national and international, to clearly define themselves before he lowers the boom. How quickly we forget: "Please, continue" and the rope-a-dope patience Obama often displays. Remember, no one listens when everyone is shouting.
Some folks need to read a few of the lists floating around the net listing Obama's 100 legislative deeds after beign elected. I grow so tired of viewing President Obama through the lens of the right-wing. We also have a side of the story to tell that only word of mouth, like Obama's original presidential campaign, proved most effective against the corporate wall of noise.
Regan asked: "Are we better off today?" as a campaign slogan to deride the previous presdent. The same question could be asked by Obama. The answer: outside of a few Confederate States holding back (for racist, not political reasons) enacting the provisions of the ACA, is a resounding yes.
I think that by the time Obama leaves office all of the racial arguments will be out in the open to be judged by future generations. History will not look kindly on neo-Confederates and their corporatist backers and leaders, despite their purchasing power.
Kindly put your OBAMA outrage into repealing the "Corporations are People and can contribute as much as they like, in secret" law. That's where one REAL CHANGE can be effective in restoring DEMOCRACY to America.

Jeepers said...

Whoever is responsible for those lists have their various biases. I'm not necessarily buying it.All of them pale, no pun intended, alongside Obama.The presider over mass surveillance, and shredding of constitutional rights alone puts him in a category all by himself. The normalizer of the police state. It don't get no worse than that.

chauncey devega said...

Of course, those lists are based on qualitative and interpretive measures.

kokanee said...

Everyone here is missing the point. Each president since FDR with the possible exception of JFK, no matter which party, has pushed the envelope for corporate fascism. As minor citizens, we've seen the loss of democracy, loss of civil liberties, loss of wages, loss of job security, loss of a social safety net and loss of living standards in an increasing police state.

Gable1111 said...

"He drank the Kool Aid and is pissed that it tastes like poison..."

Lawd Hamercy!!!

Gable1111 said...

The reality is Obama is just another politician in the typical vein that we've seen over the last 60 years, save for JFK. He's smarter than most, but other than that, he never had any intention of upsetting the apple cart, so to speak. Obama was always going to be status quo, letting the symbolism of being "the first black president" be as far as it goes in terms of idealism. All that talk about "change" was just that; there was never any intention to truly change how things were done, as President.

And not that he could have, even if he truly wanted. Whoever is President of the US is beholden to the office and the constraints of the power behind it. The trope that the President of the US is "the most powerful man in the world" is pap for the rubes. As president there is a script to follow and little room for deviation. There may be room around the margins, but that's it.

It was amazing to many, including yours truly, that a black man would become president in our lifetimes. That was an historic event. Many people thought that meant more than what it really did. "Hope and change" was campaign sloganeering, nothing more.

W. said...

Truth is, Barack Obama was always a shallow, ambitious, self-serving, self-absorbed, narcissistic manipulator like any other politician. Except that he's a much slicker racial straddler who never had much connection to, or respect for black people, but figured out quite early in his career, how to play and con black people most effectively, and to his great advantage. His underlying contempt safely tucked away, but still very much intact.

The expedient and exploitative nature of the relationship Obama cultivated with a black community he saw primarily as a key electorate necessary to advance his political ambitions, very easily mirrors his exploitative pre-election and pre-re-election 2012 public displays and celebration of his love, affection, respect, and deep devotion to his black wife, who has since been shrunk, marginalized, discarded and now basically being erased, post second term, from this historic presidency, after she's been thoroughly exploited, and now that he and his handlers no longer need her to vouch for him or boost him.

Obama is essentially an imitation of a human being. Calculating and hollow, but as with every well-choreographed actor, has successfully studied and assumes the character he wants believed. He exploits easily and effectively. His "black" experience and his connection to black America, is more feigned than experienced, and serves only his purposes.

His passive aggression dramatically increases the minute you refuse to fall under his spell, or once you see through his act, or fail to sufficiently fawn over him.

chauncey devega said...

"All of them pale, no pun intended, alongside Obama."

Really? Melanin count has nothing to do with one's commitment to justice.

Race essentialism has no place here on WARN as you likely know.

Jeepers said...

Right. That's what makes Obama the worst. He's the latest and so far the greatest proponent of corporate fascism. It has mushroomed under his administration.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I've read a couple of reports of Democrats in Washington pushing away leftist populism from the outset of Obama's presidency. That's why we had Occupy Wall Street instead of Occupy Congress.

I think liberals and others on the left have failed in maintaining pressure on Washington in both Congress and the White House to push for better results in security, anti-war, anti-drone, TPP, healthcare, transparency, and inequality.

I think Obama's security team is keeping pressure on him to maintain the security levels in the United States. I'm not trying to let him off the hook, but I just see that this is how America operates, there is very little difference that anyone can make that isn't willing to push what America has normalized.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

If we're going to go in on worst presidents, I would like to nominate Andrew Jackson. Overseer of the US slaveocracy, Indian killer and remover, illegal interception of abolitionist pamphlets, enforcer of Fugitive Slave laws and codes where armed posses of men drunk on whiteness had liberty to do as they saw fit for people of color throughout the nation. Jackson had the fortune of overseeing the US at a time of relative financial stability and when white nationalist fascism was normal.

The fact that anti-Sedition laws were passed almost at the inception of the country is very telling as to how we've gotten where we are today. No one should have been surprised at the amount of surveillance that exists today, particularly with the existential threat of terrorism.

kokanee said...

I think that's part of it. President Obama put some very progressive people around him after he got elected, But they were all weeded out and replaced by more blue dog types. Presidents are controlled and contained - I don't know exactly how - but I'm pretty sure they are.

Jeepers said...

I'm not too crazy about Wilson and his selling US out to the bankers. That's is indeed a gift that keeps on giving. Love of money (interest) is the root of all evil.

Jeepers said...

Hmmmp. Just had a thought. No really. Obama kind of combines aspects of all the bad presidents. Enriches bankers like Wilson. Presides over a great depression without addressing it like Hoover. Oversees New Jim Crow like Jackson oversaw the slaveocracy. Commits extrajudicial crimes like Nixon. Starts wars on false pretenses like Dubya. Of course he's gone beyond them in claiming the power to assassinate Americans..He's superbad.

kokanee said...

There is no doubt that the JFK murder was a deep state event. — (again; 50 min - 51 min mark)


trose1 said...

1. Cornel West stated he was upset because he didn't get tickets to PBO's inauguration. This was in print. Sometimes things are not complicated.
2. MHP wrote a book about how Black women are characterized/stereotyped. She has become the women she wrote about. I saw her on TV crying about hurting white folks feelings. Yea, PBO is the one who needs to fight the power.
3. Fighting white supremacy and racism will be ongoing. It is not going away. Fighting racism is like playing whack a mole. U take care of one mole another mole pops up. One man fighting it is not going to get it done.Black people complaining about what Obama needs to do need to really STFU cause u probably not doing much yourself. I would guess many of PBO critics don't vote, believe in the Illuminati or some coo coo brained conspiracy theory.
4. Bill Clinton incarcerated Blacks. PBO gave us ACA. Keep thinking PBO = Clinton.
5. I keep saying over and over when the all knowing pundit class throw the first rock, shoot the first gun, set off the first bomb I will be right behind them. We know not a one going to do a damn thing.

Nina Flowers said...

Frankly President Barack Obama (and other public officials for that matter) don't have to care... The public does not care! They don't vote or participate in the system. They will show up somewhat for a presidential election year but are nowhere to be found any other time. I was working with a local liberal/progressive grassroots group but they too were clueless. They only gravitated towards the "headline" issues like immigration and budget cuts and not the real issues of racism, school segregation and the economic consequences of it. For the most part, they were "stupid white liberals". As for black folks like West going after the President, sure he has his faults but the so-called "black community" does NOT have its act together. I myself am black and see nothing but masses of disorganization and no voter turnout to care anymore. Honestly I have been putting my focus elsewhere - working with folks in Africa and Asia who are serious about getting it done.

Nina Flowers said...

Ending the wars was very big for me (and yes I'm a military veteran). He did that and now you see the creeps whining and complaining about it! They scream do something about Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, etc. Those are armed conflicts we should NOT go anywhere near. The President is damned either way... He does not jump into foreign wars and is called weak. Yet he was elected to get us out of foreign wars and imagine the uproar if he did get us involved. I'm just so sick of Americans sometimes!

Nina Flowers said...

The left has failed because they are too darned busy complaining, sucking on their bongs and not voting. It speaks volumes that the only issue that really got them riled up recently was legalizing marijuana. I think that shows just how much of a disorganized mess that the left is. The wing nuts have well organized political machines with unlimited billionaire cash flows.

Nina Flowers said...

This black person voted for him twice and I NEVER thought such a thing! He's going to look centrist no matter what considering the pathetic criminal legislative branch that he's forced to work with.

Nina Flowers said...

Everybody keeps mentioning JFK. He was different and heeded the warning of his predecessor regarding the military industrial complex. We see what happened to him in Dallas...

Myshkin the Idiot said...

It's scary to think where the United States would be if McCain and Palin were elected in 2008. At the 2012 RNC, McCain criticized President Obama for "failing to support a revolution in Iran." He was also the one out in Syria and back home calling for further assistance to the Syrian rebels.

Wild Cat said...

"The left has failed because they are too darned busy complaining, sucking on their bongs and not voting."

What a disgusting generalization. What ignorance. How disgusting. What is the basis of your nonsensical statement. How is "Leftism" in any sense tied to "drug" use? Do you even know what a Leftist or the Left is?

Nina Flowers said...

Yes I know what the left is. I consider myself VERY liberal. You need to answer the question of where the heck are they? Obama For America is a well-oiled machine but face it, there is no large organized pushback. That's why the right wing controls the House of Representatives and many state houses. Do you know even recent history? Where was the "left" during the last midterm election cycle? Sitting back and complaining and no, they did not vote. That is not a "disgusting generalization", that is a FACT. I brought up the bong suckers because (yes I am adamantly opposed to intoxicants) but the only strong organized energized effort I have seen lately by the "left" (and some Libertarians) is the push for marijuana legalization. That enthusiasm is nowhere to be found this election cycle. That too is a fact and if you think there's nothing wrong with that, then we will continue to have the fascists complete their reign of destruction. Besides, you're the one who equated "Leftism" to drug use. This "leftist" does not use drugs!

T. Jones said...

Cornel West is unfortunate but altogether human. He's accustomed to getting his way and being rewarded for his impressive intellect. White institutions have been paying him premium dollars for decades to teach their young scions in the ways of the world. It was perfectly natural for him to expect to be on the short list for the job of "First Black Friend". It didn't work out that way for him this go round and he's pissed- after all when's he going to have another chance?

The reality is that Barack Obama didn't need him or his intellect. He needed a "First Black Friend" whose ear was closer to the streets and better known to the masses. Someone who he could activate and send out when necessary- a convenient "soldier" to mollify the masses if necessary. Someone with a higher "Q" with the peoples than a well meaning egghead professor who likes to say "oligarchy". Clearly a job for Al Sharpton- not Cornel West. As someone below aptly stated, Good Brother Cornel West hasn't done anything for Black folks except talk at them. He's not lending his considerable talents to educate their kids at an HBCU or engaging in social justice activities in the streets- he's an entitled college prof with tenure who realized that he won't be able to include a picture of himself and the first Black president in his memoirs- and he's upset.

It's all West's fault- he wasn't smart enough to play the game and get himself in good with Obama. He stepped out of line and bad mouthed the President early on in the game and thought he could get away with it. Obama may let white people say anything they want to about him or his wife- but an old brother with a sloppy fro- nah, that's not gonna work.

Wild Cat said...

Uhm. You're the one who equated "Leftism" with "drug" use. You're a very confused and dishonest individual. I will only respond to you to clear up the record. You can have as many "last words" as you desire after that. I will never engage you again on any issue. You're a silly and naive scold in the Bill Cosby mold.

Cannabis is not a drug and should be legalized. It is a wonderful healer.

There is no Left in the United States, and certainly no actual leftist is going to vote for Corporate Republicans dressed up in Democratic Party suits. No Leftist is going to vote for a Democratic party that puts 99.9% of its support to the genocidal monsters in neo-Masada as they slaughter the innocent people of Gaza. No Leftist is going to support a Democratic party that is perfectly happy with drug wars, stop-and-frisk, and endless war.

If you want a voting Left, you're in the wrong nation.

balitwilight said...

I am reading a lot of rationalisation for Obama in comments, based on a pseudo-realist pose that he was "selected, like all US Presidents" (and hence Obama is exonerated from his actual choices in office). If "being selected" were a rationale - then logically speaking, no US President - from Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon to G.W. Bush - to Barack Obama - can be judged for any decision they took in office. This is obviously a logical fallacy, so let's go back to looking at Obama.

I agree completely with Cornell West. I for one did not expect Obama to be progressive (not after he reversed himself on illegal telecom surveillance while still a Senator). But Obama CHOSE Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Paul Brennan. Obama - when he had the choice - opposed bailing out homeowners, and opted for the banks instead. Obama opposed including even the feeble "Public Option" in his Heritage Foundation-originated corporation-authored health care "reform". If Lyndon Johnson has (rightly) taken historical ownership of the catastrophe in Vietnam, then Obama owns the catastrophic expansion of the criminal and equally catastrophic "War On Terror". (And that is just a brief list of Obama's top-ten-hits).

Those who excuse Obama on any of these CHOICES that he made should be the ones to explain why - not those (like West) who have the integrity to point them out. It is especially tragic when many of Obama's choices did disproportionately impact so-called "black" people in America. Finally... I think that history's greatest lesson on Obama (100 years from now) will be the one even this enlightened forum doesn't question. His categorisation. The warped frame of hypo-descent, the slavery-orginated racialism that makes him - unquestioned - a "black" man.

DocNama said...

I love the symbolism but Bro. West is on point.

Nina Flowers said...

Whatever. If you don't vote, you can STFU. I don't accept stupid excuses. Too many of my black people fought and died for the right to vote and to sit around and make lame excuses not to exercise it REALLY SUCKS. People like you are the problem and DO NOT compare me to self-hating losers like Bill Cosby. I wonder what would happen if all of you non-existent citizens suddenly lost your right to vote. I am a veteran and put it on the line for the rights of people. Ignore your rights and they will go away. As for drug legalization, frankly that's a path of a cowardly nation that does not want to address real social issues (as Japan, Norway, etc. have outlawed narcotics and don't have our problems). The "drug war" is a war on poor people with an elaborate cover. I thrive on honesty, not dishonesty and will not take that crap insult from anyone. And yes, there are real liberals out there who fight for folks but frankly they don't have to as "the people" don't seem to care about anything.

Gable1111 said...

I don't think any president in these times can afford not to think about that.

Eisenhower was the last president to speak so bluntly from that position as to where the real power lay in this nation. JFK took him up on it and paid the price.

Obama spoke of "hope and change," but that was spoken safely from the perspective of marketing rhetoric, nothing more. He wasn't crazy.

Nina Flowers said...

So true and it's rather scary how entrenched these folks are. When I did my multiple deployments to the Middle East, I know that it was due to the demands of the corporate executive suites. Not just here but in Europe as well. Don't forget the intelligence sector either. Former agents at the NSA and CIA have documented how "national security" now means corporate profits. That's why I abandoned my own pursuit of working in intelligence. The current half trillion dollar F-35 fighter plane scam is one of the latest glaring examples along with the saber-rattling for involvement in more war abroad.

Nina Flowers said...

Thom Hartmann often hits on this non-punishment of former presidents for wrongdoing and how Gerald Ford set the tone with his Nixon pardon. Then again, LBJ and Senator Dirksen knew that Nixon had conspired to extend the Vietnam war and did not go after him for treason...

Nina Flowers said...

No "conspiracies" needed. After all, the president was executed in public and after all this time, has there been a murder trial? The victim was the POTUS and that says it all right there!

Gable1111 said...

Yes, corporate profits have long been equated with "national security." If you are familiar with the RAND Corporation, a long time CIA/NSA contractor, you'll know that a lot of the research they did was in the risks and impacts to national security resulting from corporate policy on society, not just around the world but also here in the US, particularly as it relates to the coming under utilization of labor as a result of technology and globalization.

I *believe* the militarization of police departments we are seeing is more than just DoD giving surplus military hardware to police departments but forward thinking and risk mitigation of this issue. The war material is to be used to control the population as the basis for self sufficiency through work is just not there for more and more people. Going forward there will not be a job for more and more people who want to work, and that will be a feature and not a bug, and the powers that be are not about a guaranteed income as FDR and others had discussed, foreseeing this situation. The focus will move from solutions to control.

This is also a side effect of what Eisenhower talked about, but from a different perspective but its part of the same problem, ultimately.

The only solution is people really need to become more aware of the issues, and vote, vote, vote! That's the only way.

Jefferson put it best: An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. And this is exactly what we don't have!

Gable1111 said...

In so-called civilized, western societies, except for this one, education is free and so is health care. People here are trained to dare not believe anything other than this is "the greatest country in the world" and that such things are "handouts" and bad, when the practical aspect of it is clear: it does not make for a healthy, growing and progressive society when its people can go broke and bankrupt and set back to square one, or worse, because of an illness or in trying to get education to improve your ability to contribute to society.

What's worse, we've turned these two things, which should be rights, into "profit centers" where in corporations can prey on those trying to avail themselves of services other civilized societies provide their citizens, because of the practicality of it. I know of people who have student loan debt the size of home mortgages, and their balances are many times that which their tuition was, because the government allows these student loan companies to apply usurious rates and fees. These people will NEVER be able to buy a home. How is that helpful to the economy and society?

Then you have health care. The ACA did a lot to help, but the insurance and pharmaceutical industries only agreed to it because not only will they realize a windfall if customers as a result, but they still have leeway between the lines to continue to do as they've always done.

Other than the ACA, there has been very few if any legislation that has been proposed and passed strictly for the benefit of working people. Even with the ACA, there had to be a huge sop to corporations just to have that.

trose1 said...

"Obama may let white people say anything they want to about him or his wife- but an old brother with a sloppy fro- nah, that's not gonna work."


nicole said...

Actually, you are speaking only of one segment of the left, i.e., progressives ala Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, and so forth. THEY are the people who didn't turn out to vote in 2010. THEY are the people who are interested in the legalization of pot. THEY are the people who have acted as no less than a thorn in the side of Obama.
In point of fact, THEY are people who are so far left that they have met the right on the other side. To wit, Hamsher/Greenwald's partnership with Grover Norquist.
Please be careful when you use the term "left" as the two factions of the left are grossly divided, and the liberal left should not be conflated with the progressive left.