Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The beat (down) goes on

I saw a few minutes of last night's debate fight between Hillary and Barack on the PBS news tonight. Then a cut to Hillary saying that because of the results in New Hampshire and Nevada, Barack is getting "frustrated."

Does she think Barack can't add? He's AHEAD in the delegate count, Hillary. And we know you've noticed otherwise you and Bill wouldn't be beating up on him so much.

I hope Barack's attention to their attacks is merely a ploy to keep it fresh in the minds of South Carolina voters and not an indication that he's going to operate the remainder of his campaign like this.

The media presents this race for the White House like a sports competition, and I must say that the last time I felt like this was when I lived in Chicago and was rooting for the Bulls.

Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel that the outcome here is finally no more important than the outcome of a Bulls game. After all, George Bush has never actually won (in terms of votes received) a presidential election; however, he's been running the country (into the ground) for nearly 8 years.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I love Oprah!

Today's Oprah Winfrey Show was a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Not just the usual sappy replay of "the speech," but an actual tribute to his work and his legacy.

She used clips from some little-known events of the Civil Rights Movement as well as showing what people who were inspired by King are doing today.

Despite the cruelties inevitably included in a reflection on the CRM, as usual, Oprah left her audience feeling hopeful. Cynics may disparage inspiration in favor of more concrete activity, but without inspiration, not much happens.

Everything begins with an idea in the mind/heart/spirit.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"double O's an arresting team"

I had no idea some folk were upset about Oprah's endorsement of Obama, but I was reading back issues of The Nation and found this.

O O, way to go!

Delegate totals

For those who are not reading the fine print in news reports or who get swept up in the hype, please note the delegate totals.

Obama 38, Clinton 36, Edwards 18.

Enough said.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bloomberg getting ready

Even if Bloomberg doesn't run (and I believe he will); it's good to have a voice in the mix who can speak out without worrying about offending party bosses. One of the things that bothers me is that if the Clintons get the nomination, Barack will be obligated to campaign for and support them.

Bloomberg is rich enough so that the media will not ignore him (as they have Kucinich) or make fun of him (as they did Nader). In the good old U.S. of A. having lots of money earns you respect.

Bending towards justice

In this Martin Luther King Jr. season, I want to share my favorite quotation of his.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

If, in fact, the people of the United States elect another business-as-usual politician, then that is what we deserve.

But my intuiton tells me that the time is ripe for a new idea. And there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

We shall see.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What have the Clintons actually done for blacks?

Up front, let me reiterate that I support Barack Obama in this presidential race.

I am also aware that Hillary and Bill Clinton are willing to pull out all the stops to assure that she gets the Democratic party's nomination. The Clintons have been playing the power broker game for a long time. They know exactly how it is played and that it can require getting down and dirty with generous doses of hypocrisy to get what you want. Bill Clinton has often been described as the consummate politician, possibly the best in the last half of the twentieth century. Translation: he knows exactly what to do to get people (and corporations) to support him.

Many African Americans have been devoted to Bill Clinton, primarily because he's the first powerful white man (and who's more powerful than the president of the U.S.) to personally treat us like human beings. Few whites in positions of power know any blacks on a personal level, yet Clinton's "first friend," Vernon Jordan, is black. And, of course, Clinton was the first president to appoint more than a token black to a cabinet post other than Housing or Education. These symbolic moves endeared him to black folk to such an extent that they have overlooked the policies he either advocated or ignored that adversely affect blacks.

Apparently, no one remembers that Clinton is the president who presided over the demise of assistance to families with dependent children, thereby contributing to the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. He did nothing to change the harsher prison sentences given to crack users versus the lighter punishment for powder cocaine users. This policy disproportionately affects African Americans. As a matter of fact, while Clinton was in office, the rates of black incarceration increased from around 3,000 per 100,000 to 3,620 per 100,000 more than when Reagan was in office.

Clinton also fired his black surgeon general when she suggested that it wasn't a bad idea to talk about masturbation in sex education classes. Lani Guinier, another black woman tapped by Clinton to run civil rights in the Department of Justice, was unceremoniously dropped from consideration because of her support for cumulative voting, a strategy that would increase black political power.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. Bill Clinton talks the talk, but fails to walk the walk. And black people want more of this?

These are the kinds of cynical say-one-thing-and-do-another politicians that we've had in this country in an almost unbroken line beginning with Richard Nixon in 1968. This is the kind of politics that Barack Obama says he wants to change. He may not be able to, but at least he wants to. And we know for sure that the Clintons don't.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Obama will not be bound by Shelby Steele

I watched Bill Moyers Journal last night and as always enjoyed Kathleen Hall Jamieson's comments on media coverage of the political campaigns. Then Shelby Steele came on to plug his book on Obama. His premise is that black people fall into one of two categories: bargainers and challengers. His categorization is so simple-minded that I won't repeat it here. Suffice it to say that I am a black person who is neither a bargainer or a challenger.

What bothers me is that the media (even the esteemed Bill Moyers) love to hear this kind of nonsense from "black conservatives." No matter how ridiculous and malevolent their bashing of blacks as a group is, they always receive institutional backing and lots of air time.

Armstrong Williams was appointed to positions in the federal government and appeared all over television as a pundit. He's disappeared since he disgraced himself by taking money to promote a government program on his nationally syndicated show.

Clarence Thomas has taken his distaste for black people all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And Shelby Steele has written a book that attempts to undermine the viability of the first black man to have a real shot at becoming president of the United States. As a reward for this rank opportunism, he has been invited to promote his book all over television, not only on "conservative" shows, but on Bill Moyers Journal!

One thing Shelby keeps saying is that nobody knows who Barack Obama really is.

Those who can and do read know more about Obama than any other candidate. Obama has written and published two books that reveal much about his personal life and experiences. What other candidate has publicly revealed so much information about him/herself?

Shelby, the titles of the books are: Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. They are available everywhere books are sold. Read them. Maybe that will help you understand who Obama is.

The public prominence given to these men, whose bitterness is often palpable, underscores the fact that denigration of African Americans, one of the salient features of racism, is yet alive and well in this country.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Keep it going, Clintons

Hillary & Bill Clinton continue to show their true colors. Now she has dissed THE black icon, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Tsk, tsk.

Don't believe the hype!

The media pundits are talking as if Hillary has put Barack away and is on her way to becoming the next president of the U.S.

It's not true. For a welcome change, Iowa and New Hampshire do not get to be the only people to select the nominees for president. (Remember last time when it was all over before Super Tuesday?) This time the candidates will have to count their delegates at the convention and see who has the most. As of today, it's a dead heat.

Barack = 25, Hillary = 24, Edwards = 18.

My guess is that if it remains this close, Edwards will "sell" his delegates to the highest bidder. But I'm not sure what he'll sell them for--he's already been a vice presidential nominee.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Quick History Lesson

So Kelly Tilghman didn't know that talking about lynching a black man was offensive. Absolutely amazing, but then there's not much in our history texts about the ugly brutal stuff this country does to black folk, so maybe she didn't.

Let this be a history lesson for her and perhaps some others. And the suspension will help the lesson to stick in her memory and perhaps encourage her to do some reading.

I'm attributing Tiger's ability to shrug it off to a couple of things.

He's young and has no memory of all the years African Americans struggled to get this country to pass an anti-lynching law because black men were being killed for sport, especially in the South.

The other reason Tiger saw no insult in the remark is that his beloved dad is gone. If Earl Woods were alive, I imagine he would have pulled Tiger's coat on this one.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thoughts from the other side of the hill

I have lived so long that I remember when Eisenhower federalized the National Guard in Arkansas so that 9 black kids could go to the vaunted Central High School. I heard both John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. speak--in person. Heck, I even attended an officially segregated school in what purports to be a northern state.

I remember thinking when we were wearing big Afros and shouting BLACK POWER in the late 60s that soon we would be free. Obviously, that was a naive overestimation, but even then I didn't expect that in my lifetime I might get to vote for a black man as U.S. president, and especially not one named Barack Obama.

Don't misunderstand, I supported Jesse both times he ran, but we all knew he was running to put some issues on the table that otherwise would not have been there. Jesse couldn't get any white folks anywhere to take him seriously, but Barack may actually win.

Yeah I know, the media pundits say Barack got upset in New Hampshire after they had raised everybody's expectations (including their own) saying he would beat Hillary by double digits. They forgot that what white folks say about voting for a black man is not always what they do. And then, of course, we got nonstop coverage of Hillary's tears which apparently swayed some female voters. I wasn't moved by the tears, but I will be moved if Hillary stops taking money from corporate lobbyists and apologizes for helping Bush get into a deadly and useless, wasteful war.

Actually, Bill & Hillary could be Republicans, and that's what she was before she fell in love with Bill. We thought he converted her to a Democrat when actually they compromised--"We'll call ourselves Democrats, but act like Republicans." I consider them to be Republican lite.