President Obama: It’s Not Our Fault (Displaced Anger)


by Nida Khan

Nida Khan

President Obama is angry, and rightfully so. He’s endured two years of meticulous Republican opposition to virtually every measure put forth, even when he – dare I say – compromised. Setting aside campaign promises of a public healthcare option and a closing of Guantanamo Bay, the President has abandoned many of his platforms only to face continual filibustering, abuse and contempt from the right. So this past Tuesday during a press conference on the proposed tax cut deal, he let loose – except the anger was directed to those that have been in his corner since day one. It was, in effect, like the overworked and underpaid worker who comes home and beats his wife and kids instead of standing up to his tyrant boss.

September 2009 marked the beginning of the end of Obama’s hold on his own principles, the desires of all those who overwhelmingly voted for change and the notion of respect for the coveted office of the Presidency. There was no capitulation on ideas, nor was there a reversal of any major campaign promise. Instead, it was a brief utterance from a Republican elected official in the House Chambers that virtually sealed this President’s fate. It was two words that still reverberate around political corners till this day; it was the inexcusable and outlandish outburst of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson. During his national address on healthcare, our President was momentarily interrupted by the words: ‘You Lie’. And he has been unable to regain control since.

Joe Wilson

Failing to exert his authority during that pivotal moment, President Obama fell victim to vultures that were only ready, willing and able to find his weakness. And they soon enough did – his inability to stand up to White opposition rooted in bigotry. Until that definitive instant, our Commander-in-Chief never faced such blatant insolence and hostility. Prior to Joe Wilson’s scathing remarks, Obama only had to negotiate and engage in intellectual discourse with his opponents. This was in essence the first time he was face-to-face with individuals who devalued the notion of a Black President so much so that they deemed it appropriate to openly degrade and embarrass him in front of the nation.

As a biracial child growing up in a White household and later attending Ivy league schools, Obama was always perceived as the ‘exception’ out of a race of people that are still struggling to shatter inaccurate stereotypes and achieve equality in a society that is far from post-racial. And though he grew up outside of the mainland,the President fully immersed himself in the struggles of African Americans and disenfranchised groups as evidenced by his work as a community organizer and advocate. Whole-heartedly embracing and identifying with his Black side, Obama married a Black woman, attended a Black Church and understood the importance of uplifting a segment of the population that has been methodically oppressed.

In the process of developing his identity, Obama also unfortunately acquired the notion of displaced anger – directing one’s frustration at someone or something that is safe or convenient, as opposed to the actual source of one’s anger. And sadly, we have seen this pattern manifest itself over and over again. Consistently accusing the ‘professional left’ of being ‘sanctimonious’, President Obama has notonly abandoned the very base that created a grassroots movement of victory thatushered him to the White House, but he has chosen to continually attack them whenthey have shown nothing but support – even in the face of reversals in campaignpromises. Instead of directly challenging those that are systematically placingroadblocks in every direction of his path, President Obama is regrettably channelinghis frustration on those that want nothing more than to see him succeed.

The sooner our President recognizes this reality, the sooner he will be able tobreak the shackles from the remnants of mental slavery that still unfortunatelysubconsciously determine our actions – even when those actions originate from thehighest office in the land.

Nida Khan is the news correspondent for WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM NY

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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-

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Jeff Chang & Brian Komar:Culture Before Politics-Strong Advise for Progressives

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang and Brian Komar of the Center For American Progress teamed up for this new piece in The American Prospect, “Culture Before Politics”, making the case that progressives need to build the infrastructure to support cultural strategy and cultural organizing.


Here’s an excerpt:

On Nov. 3, progressives awoke to find that they had returned to 2004. Despite important legislative victories, Democrats had been outflanked. Republicans had successfully sold themselves as the party of economic growth, the party of the angry out-of-work American, and, most dissonantly, the party of change. They owned the narrative and won big.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the dark days following George W. Bush’s re-election, frustrated progressives set out to build an enduring movement that would effectively advance and communicate their ideas, policies, and values. Funders and strategists created new institutions and scaled up existing ones, including think tanks, civic-engagement organizations, and media-watchdog groups. These institutions played a key role in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress, the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, and the passage of parts of the Obama platform in 2009 and 2010.

Yet as progressives watched Democrats suffer the worst election loss since the Republican collapse of 1948, they seemed to be back where they started. Just as in 2004, many have blamed the losses on ineffective Democratic campaign messaging.

The problem, however, runs much deeper. Electoral and Beltway politics are episodic, short-term, and transactional. Movements, however, are long-term. “Public sentiment is everything,” Abraham Lincoln once said. “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who moulds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.” In other words, movements must change hearts and minds in an enduring way. They must change the culture.

Culture is the space in our national consciousness filled by music, books, sports, movies, theater, visual arts, and media. It is the realm of ideas, images, and stories — the narrative in which we are immersed every day. It is where people make sense of the world, where ideas are introduced, values are inculcated, and emotions are attached to concrete change.

Cultural change is often the dress rehearsal for political change. Or put in another way, political change is the final manifestation of cultural shifts that have already occurred.

Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Major League Baseball debut preceded Brown v. Board of Education by seven years. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming-out on her TV sitcom preceded the first favorable court ruling on same-sex marriage by eight years. Until progressives make culture an integral and intentional part of their theory of change, they will not be able to compete effectively against conservatives…

Read the entire piece here.


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