President Obama vs the GOP: Yes We Can or Yes We Cave?

There he goes again.. President Obama has once again sat down with the most vile of his political enemies and granted them serious concessions-The Bush Tax Cuts. These were granted even as we note it was this group of people and their policies that majorly contributed to the economic mess we are currently experiencing. This latest move has left everyone disappointed in ways that words can’t even describe.

Now before we began let’s get a few things out the way. Whenever criticism of President Barack Obama from the so-called left comes up, there’s always some apologist who shows up and starts spouting how ‘progressives‘ aka the Professional Left need to pipe down and go along with the program. These apologists usually try to spin these expressed concerns about President Obama and his policies in a number of clichéd ways.

First, they like to insist that progressives are messing things up for the president. They say that anyone speaking out is somehow dividing the party. They assert that President Obama simply can’t give into to ‘fringe’ and ‘extremist’ views. Lets dead this myth once and for all.

Pushing for un-compromised policies is not fringe or extremist. In fact its a good negotiating tactic. Always ask for more verses starting out offering less than what you need.

Second, if we look a President Obama’s dismal approval ratings coupled with the ‘shalacking‘ that was handed out during last month’s mid-term elections, its obvious that more than ‘fringe’ progressives and ‘wacky leftists’ from Berkeley, Madison or Austin are upset with him.  His missteps are bothersome and raising eyebrows in various sectors of the Democratic tent and he thus he needs to change-up.

Third, let’s say his dismal ratings and lackluster ability to raise to roof during the mid-terms is because of the progressive wing of the political spectrum. If progressives can cause a sitting president who commanded a whooping 80% approval rating to dip 30-40% in a years time then that’s even more of a reason for him to listen to what may arguably be the most influential sector of his base. Again the over-riding concern, he’s doing too much dancing with the GOP.

Obama defenders like to say things like ‘Progressives simply don’t get it.. ‘In government one must compromise..Progressives must understand..You can’t have everything your way‘…Blah, Blah, Blah..

Memo to Obama Apologists and  Spinmasters: Fall Back..We all took civics class. We all understand how government works. In fact some of the reasons for the criticisms-is because  folks clearly see what’s working and what’s not working and want to speak to it.. In addition most of us have been a part of some organization or involved with coalition building of some sort where compromise is the order of the day.

Most of us clearly understand there’s compromise, calculated risk, political theater and caving in. This man who many of us enthusiastically supported and helped elect, has done a bit too much caving in on a variety of issues and needs to be called on it.  Doing so is called agitation, petitioning, airing your grievances and if you have enough money, power and influence-its called lobbying. Now we don’t hear Vice president Joe Biden and White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs telling lobbyist to ‘zip it‘, ‘buck up‘ and get in line, hence they shouldnt be saying that to average citizens who identify with the democratic party and raise concerns.

The irony here is that is seems like whenever President Obama is mis-treated or disrespected he’s willing to eagerly sit down and compromise with you. Time and time again, we’ve seen him reach across the aisle to try and work with people who accused him of not being a citizen, who blatantly lied about and tried to derail his policies and who have shown up at rallies where participants held up offensive signs about him and his wife. He’s that guy who will compromise while you’re still in the ring fighting and defending him..

The common complaint with President Obama is he doing too much negotiating with a political enemy that has publicly stated and later demonstrated that they have no intention of working cooperatively with him. How much longer do the Obama apologists feel we should allow this continue before we say enough is enough? How much more compromising must he do?

And let’s be clear here, an Obama Compromise is not just any ole compromise where the split is 50-50. With President  Obama a compromise is where the opponent always seems get 75% while you get 25%. Far too often he offers up concessions without getting anything in return. He’s forever removing things off the table just to simply sit down and negotiate. That’s not compromise, that’s playing a weak hand and its got to stop.

We saw this when he caved in on these Bush Tax cuts.

Initially the issue at hand is that those who had been employed for a long time aka the 99ers were seeing their last unemployment check in this week. President Obama was supposed to go to the mat and fight for them. We  kept hearing that there might have to be a compromise to help these long-term unemployed folks. So what does President Obama do, he cuts a deal and leaves the 99ers who were used as this political football by both the left and the right off the table…Here’s what was noted in the WSJ.

Unemployment Extension: Calculated Risk makes an important point that we’ve made before: the extension of unemployment doesn’t extend the duration of benefits beyond 99 weeks. “Just to be clear, the “extension of the unemployment benefits” is an extension of the qualifying dates for the various tiers of benefits, and not additional weeks of benefits. There is no additional help for the so-called “99ers”. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) comes in four tiers: Tier I is for 20 additional weeks; Tier II is for up to 14 weeks; Tier III is for up to 13 weeks; Tier IV is for up to 6 weeks. As an example, if a worker was receiving Tier I benefits, they will be able to move to Tier II benefits with this proposed extension. Without the extension of the qualifying dates, workers would not be able to move to the next tier.”.

To make matters worse, we didn’t hear President Obama use his bully pulpit and insist that those millionaires who got these tax cuts which will cost an estimated 600 billion dollars, go out and hire at least a portion of 2 million or so 99ers. Remember, the millionaires represented by the lobbyist of the US Chamber of Commerce repeatedly said that they needed to extend the Bush Tax cuts to create jobs. What was on the table to ensure those jobs would be created?

If the past behavior of Wall Street bankers and brokers who got billions of dollars in bonuses after being bailed out with our tax dollars are any indication, then what were likely to see is them hoarding even more money not creating new jobs.

Hell, we didn’t hear President Obama pushing back and LOUDLY countering the popular GOP narrative which says that those on unemployment are lazy and not trying to look for work.

President Obama and his team understand the power of symbols and political theater. When arguing for these unemployment extensions why didn’t him or someone from his team pull out footage of unemployed folks standing in long lines trying desperately trying to get low wage jobs? Why didn’t he highlight the some of those stories of long-term job seekers who are finding closed doors because of bad credit ratings caused by being out of work?  Why didn’t he show families sleeping in cars, staying at all night gyms and posting up at all night diners? In short, why not put a face to the long-term unemployed the way the GOP made Joe the Plumber the face of those opposing tax increases for the wealthy?

Ted Donahue President of the US Chamber of Commerce

The US Chamber of Commerce who help lead the charge for extending the Bush Tax Cuts instead of pushing to create jobs for those who been without work for so long has instead, been hosting seminars to show American companies on how to outsource jobs to China. Does that sound like job creation? Maybe for China,but not for us here in the United States. Why have we not seem them called to the carpet more?

If that’s not enough these same US Chamber lobbyists came out against the Senate recent outsourcing bill. The US Chamber led by Ted Donahue, poured hundreds of millions of undeclared money into campaigns backing all sorts of über corporate friendly candidates who will now be taken seats come 2011 in the new Congress. This is in addition to pouring millions into the coffers of the GOP leadership that got President Obama to bow down.

Should the President have compromised? Were these US Chamber backed politicians too much of a formidable force who really did have the ‘unemployed as hostages’? No one is suggesting that compromise was not needed. But where was the compromise if the plight of the 99ers weren’t openly advocated?

Some are saying President Obama had to do cave in because he didn’t have enough votes within his own party. I’m looking to see who opposed him and once again we see Senator Joe Lieberman. This is the same Joe Lieberman who Obama came out and protected from political banishment two years ago. Folks may recall that it was President Obama who picked up the phone and asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to let Senator Lieberman keep his committee chairmanships after he had a political dust-up and falling out with his Democratic colleagues resulting in him being declared an independent.

Senator Joe Lieberman

To this day I have no idea how Senator Lieberman has paid back the president. It seems like with every important bill good ole Joe is all up in the mix trying to gum up the works. Who can forget how he single-handedly held up and weakened the healthcare bill by refusing to sign if they left in the public option?

Also on the list is Senator Bill Nelson.. You remember this scuz bucket from Nebraska?  President Obama, bowed, scraped and kissed his butt at least 16 times during the HCR debates and at the end of day after he got everything he damn near wanted including keeping the highly priced Medicaid Advantage. How does Nelson pay back the President? He opposes him on the ending the Bush Tax cuts…

The bottom line is this. After two years, its more than obvious that President Obama has an agenda that is in line with corporations more than it is the average person who tirelessly worked to put him into office. Sure, we may get a lil something here and there, a kind word, a small bill or two, but it will never meet the threshold that so many of us need in order to truly get back on our feet? From the looks of things, No. From Universal Healthcare to public option to the closing of Gitmo to getting rid of the Patriot Act to keeping Net Neutrality these are all key bread and butter issues championed in many left leaning enclaves. At each turn we have seen our President severely dilute, back peddled, re-calibrated and in the many instances not even put the issue on the table for discussion.

What’s the solution? For starters, folks will have to look toward each other, show compassion and hold each other up. These corporations have no intention of doing so. All of us will have to make sacrifices and whenever possible stop supporting those outlets that drain our communities.

Pastor Jeremiah Wright took a lot of heat for talking about Obama being a politician more than a prophetic leader

Sadly much of the leadership in the Democratic party are beholden to these corporations as is our President who is not forcefully speaking out in a way that encourages us to rally around him energetically. All of us are going to have to start fortifying our bases on local levels and making sure we put good people in office who are down to scrap and truly look out for the little guy. This is not happening with Barack Obama. Not sure who his advisors are or if he has some sort of long-term strategy that none of us can see.

His former Pastor Jeremiah Wright said it best and he took a lot of heat for it. He noted that President Obama is not prophet..He’s a politician. He goes to where ever the political winds take him.

From this day forth either we create a political wind storm that President Obama can’t ignore or we better start looking carefully for a viable candidate to run for office in 2012 who will compromise from the center and far right and not the left.

Something to ponder

written by -Davey D-

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

What’s the Real Story Behind Home Land Security Shutting Down Hip Hop Websites?

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday something very disturbing took place… Homeland Security along with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) , the Department of Justice and the National Intellectual Property Rights Co-ordinating Center seized over 80 websites including popular Hip Hop websites, and These Hip Hop sites were accused of copyright violations, which is crazy, because their popularity rested in the fact that they mostly worked with artists to promote their work and help establish a buzz.

Was there anything on those sites in violation of copyright law?  The nature of any music site as robust as the ones mentioned, is you will inevitably find material. It might come in the form of someone posting a song on a message board or a video clip from a concert. It might be a link to a third-party site where folks can download a song, which was the case with the aforementioned sites. My experience over the years has been oftentimes its the artists themselves coming to sites asking for their material to be posted while the labels which also own part of the copyright objects.

In most cases if a site wasn’t blowing things up too much, most industry folks didn’t trip. in talking with label heads they note  that in most cases if a song or material was being highlighted prematurely or jeopardizing upcoming promotions a letter, email would be sent out or a phone call made asking for the files or links to be removed. Most sites comply without too much fanfare. It’s the way things have been done for years. It’s the symbiotic relationship that has long existed with record labels and media.

It’s important to note this practice of labels asking media outlets to stop playing or highlighting material has been around long before the internet. Working at a major radio station and several large music outlets, the name of the game  was for us to get material way ahead of its release date. Sometimes we managed to get a hold of a ‘press copy’ of a song given to magazines months in advance. Other times it was someone inside the label ‘leaking us a song’ which we would play for a couple of days only to get a letter from the record labels lawyers ordering us to cease and decease playing their material. Many of these stations including ours would post those letters up on the wall and even frame them. It was a source of pride and demonstrated your ability to have impact.

Granted the internet and us being in a digital world has allowed for unlimited copies of material to be distributed and there has definitely been rough patches with digital media and record labels, but at the end of the day all this boils down to relationships and the rule of thumb has been-know the people who run the sites and ask them to remove anything that was causing problems.

All these popular music sites were seized w/o warning

In the case of these Hip Hop sites, no warning was given. Not only that, but the entire websites were seized. In some cases we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of message board postings, articles etc. This wasn’t a shut down of a website. It was the shut down of a community and no matter how one feels about copyright law and how vigorously it should be enforced shut downs without due process should be disturbing to every last one of us.

What should be even more disturbing is how those shut downs took place. Who in Homeland Security was up on enough to sit down and make a sound decision to shut down the site and seize its domain? How did they know the sites were in violation of any copyright? Was it the word of copyright owner? Did DHS check to get the other side of the story? Did the owners get arrested? Had they been fined or in trouble for any of this in the past?

Let me paint out a couple of scenarios that folks should consider before people start puffing out their chest and acting all righteous about websites breaking the law. First as mentioned earlier take down notices should be given thus allowing one the opportunity to straighten anything out. Thats first and foremost.

Second, oftentimes you have artists and even promotional folks at labels that will come along and give you material and a greenlight.  I could show you at least half a dozen emails that I’ve gotten in the past two weeks with folks asking how I can get material on my site. two have offered to pay. What many of us who do this work have discovered is that what the promo guys and the artists want may not always be in lockstep with what the lawyers or the trade organization for major labels (note I said labels not artists-remember that) the RIAA is pushing. The relationship with the artists and labels are fluid and informal while the relationship with the RIAA and lawyers for the label may be strictly by the book and to the letter of the law. One often has no idea what the other is doing. End game mass confusion.

The RIAA has railed against copyright infringement before there was an internet. They were mad about cassette tapes, then DATs, then CDS and now the web. This powerful lobbying group has always been a presence up on Capital Hill pushing for laws that would protect the interests and intellectual property rights of MAJOR record labels.  They definitely been up on the hill pushing and many say help right some of these new copyright laws, which leaves one wondering are they pointing out offending websites to Homeland Security?

That’s not a far-fetched notion and should have all concerned. Corporations sitting along side law enforcement to protect whose interest? All of our interests or just theirs?  Are the police and law enforcement following the dictates of corporations at everyone else’s expense. At the end of the day that’s called Fascism.

days after this photo was taken, editor Jason Chen got a vist from REACT

We saw blatant display of this earlier this year when a task force consisting of several police agencies called (REACT)  California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team went banging on the door of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen entered his house and took his computers to see if he was behind the leaking of Apple’s next-gen i-phones. The task force claimed they were investigating to see if a law was violated.

Initially some clapped and felt the police were doing their job, until it was discovered that Apple sat on the board that oversaw the new task force that took Chen’s computers. Did the police do this because of Apple’s initial complaints or because they sat on the board?

Fast forward to a troubling news story a few weeks ago here in the Bay Area where a young man had a computer stolen from his office. He had a tracking chip inside that took a picture of the thief, however local police did not immediately follow-up with an investigation. The man resorted to taking his story to local news stations and even then there was no action. Talk about an imbalance of power and influence.

We did an interview earlier this week with Peter Eackersly of Electronic Frontier Foundation which has been in the forefront of protecting internet freedoms. He noted that what took place was far reaching and will continue to be so, because now the US is shutting down sites overseas. he also noted that what took place here without due process appeared to be the first step in the government with the assistance of corporate interests seeing how far they can go before they get push back.

While following these cases keep a close eye on the types of steps and reaches made around the Wikileak saga. Whatever the government is allowed to get away with is gonna set a precedent. Thus far we’ve seen shut down attacks  and seizures take place. Even more disturbing has been American companies like Amazon taking down the Wikileak cables. They officially say it was because of terms of service violations, but most experts are noting they got pressured.

Senator Joe Lieberman has been threatening websites without due process

To show you just how far the government is going, look what Senator Joe Lieberman just did. He threatened a Seattle-based company called Tableau to take down information that was legal and not classified, but reported on and issued charts about who and what countries were discussing Wikileaks.. His actions prompted a scorching response from commentator Glenn Greenwald.

“Those are the benign, purely legal documents that have now been removed from the Internet in response to Joe Lieberman’s demands and implied threats. He’s on some kind of warped mission where he’s literally running around single-handedly dictating what political content can and cannot be on the Internet, issuing broad-based threats to ‘all companies’ that is causing suppression of political information.”

You can read the story HERE

Today its Wikileaks being taken down which one might accept it because arguments can made about sensitive material being revealed and national security at stake could be argued. But what happens tomorrow when its you or me, because we represent competition or hold political beliefs that aren’t agreed upon? What happens when its you or me and the justification is that we’ve always allowed government to take down websites without a day and court, why complain now?

During our interview with Eackersly he noted that it was important for artists and others in the Hip Hop community to stand up, be aware of what transpired and come to the aid of those Hip Hop websites and communities that were shut down especially if they meant something to you.

After our interview Eackersly wanted to know the type of support the seized websites were getting. In his mind, he knew such large outlets would have throngs of artists ready to go to war for them. I think he was a bit surprised to see that more of us were talking about Lil Kim vs Nicki Minaj then the undue processed seizure of music websites. Even sadder is that many have callousesly moved onto other sites as if the shut downs of Onsmash and RapGodfathers was no big deal and was just another day in the life. Mark my words not understanding this and being dismissive will come back to haunt folks.

Understand this.. the seizure of websites without due process, corporate interests lobbying and then writing laws that allow them to be the police and t personally enforce, the battle over net neutrality is all about concentrating power in the hands of a few. This is about controlling the flow of information and being a gate keeper in the communications arena. Its the first step in moving a democracy toward a dictatorship. The next step is getting a population to endure fianacial upheavels and hardships.

The internet was the most democratizing tool we’ve had in a long time and now those who hate having to share and be accountable are trying to shut things down.It’s a power grab of the highest order. Don’t ever get used to being oppressed..It’ll be your undoing for years to come..Stay alert be ready, because they coming for you next.

You can peep the full interview we did on Hard Knock Radio with Peter Eackersly of EFF right HERE

Also be sure to peep this excellent article on alternet about this topic..Here Comes the Homeland Security Internet Police

Lastly after printing this I just got wind of a story Democracy Now just ran…

State Dept. Bars Staffers from WikiLeaks, Warns Students

The U.S. State Department has imposed an order barring employees from reading the leaked WikiLeaks cables. State Department staffers have been told not to read cables because they were classified and subject to security clearances. The State Department’s WikiLeaks censorship has even been extended to university students. An email to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs says: “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.”

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner