The Rock on Which he Stands
Barack Must keep Playing Past the Noise
The best thing President Obama has done from a political perspective – which is to say decisions that would help him and other Democrats get elected and then get his legislative agenda passed through both houses of Congress – was to pay the black leftist and nationalist factions no mind! Having cut my political teeth in those ideological enclaves, I would never have believed that I would one day come to view them as a menace to black progress. Yet I am convinced that had Barack attended Tavis Smile’s black gabfest, where all sorts of reckless rhetoric was thrown about, and allowed Cornell West to define his administration’s legislative priorities, while adopting the Black Agenda rhetoric of Glenn Ford, he would have never been President and the Republicans would have been able to take over both Houses of Congress!!
What would America have looked like had that happened? Well John McCain would have been President for the last four years, and there is the possibility that the Republicans would have fucked things up so badly a Democrat would have won the last election. But it would have been too late to stop the Republicans from adding two more right wing zealots to the Supreme Court, and stacking the Federal Courts around the country with same. And it would be too late to stop a President McCain from bombing Iran and escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a futile effort to win the elusive victory that escaped him in Vietnam. (search John McCain on this blog.)
We might also be in a war on the Korean Peninsula, all of which would add another couple of trillion to our war debt – and we could already have completely rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure with half of what we squandered on the Iraq and Afghan wars. The economy would be in shambles, because there would have been no 800 billion stimulus, the auto industry would have disappeared and McCain’s self-correcting “free market” fiddle faddle would have made the Bush depression deeper – alas chances are we would be in a second “Great Depression” that would be worse than the first one. And all those now yapping about how the President bailed out the bankers – which was actually done by Bush but Obama would have been forced to do it too – while not addressing black poverty instead, would be singing a different tune. They would be crying about the collapse of the financial system and how it took everybody they know down with it.
Since McCain would not be a “food stamp President” like Barack Obama, there would be millions more added to the ranks of those Americans who are literally locked in a Darwinian struggle for food, because there is an acute shortage of jobs at a living wage. The tax code would encourage investment overseas, including those “job creators” who have created ten million jobs overseas while the unemployment rate soars here at home. And while millions of American workers suffer from structural unemployment these patently unpatriotic acts would be accompanied by super patriotic rhetoric of the sort we hear from the likes of Mitt Romney and Darrell Issa.
Of course there would be no Affordable Health Care Act, no Lilly Ledbetter Act, the social safety net constructed under New Deal and Great Society legislation would be completely shredded, and any form of Affirmative –Action would now be illegal, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And the way that reactionary racist grease ball Antonin Scalia feels about the Voting Rights Act, which he has called “a racial entitlement,” would be more widely shared by other Judges on the High Court. And thus the protections afforded minorities against the efforts of white Republicans to scrap the law and rig elections would have succeeded for all intents and purposes.
There would have been no 20 billion dollar fund from British Petroleum to clean up the Gulf oil spill and compensate the businesses that were hurt due to the spill – some of which were Afro-American owned. In fact the Republican Congressman who now heads the committee tasked with oversight of the oil industry apologized to BP and called President Obama’s demand that they set up the recovery fund a display of “Chicago gangster” tactics. The historically black colleges would be 100 million poorer, and some would be out of business altogether. Plus the banks would still be making millions off unnecessary fees from student loans, If the Republicans had been in office the last four years, with their aversion to government spending, investment in the scientific community would be a trickle of what it was under President Obama.
Cornel West and Sidekick Tavis Silly
Heckle and Jeckle: Cackling Mischievous Crows
However listening to the President’s harshest critics you would not know that any of these achievements took place; some of historic proportions, especially the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Affordable Care Act, the Economic Recovery Act, and the Dodd –Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. All of these monumental achievements are denounced by the President’s detractors on the right and ignored by his critics on the left – once more revealing themselves to be undeclared allies. Yet this legislation saved the nation from economic ruin, provided health care options for many people who had none and made it illegal for Wall Street bankers to engage in the kinds of practices that led to the crash.
But our verbose Dr. Cornel West, a grandstanding spotlight hog and shameless opportunist, who has set himself up as Barack Obama’s grand inquisitor and moral scold, calls the President a tool of the Plutocrats and Wall Street Bankers. Since much of what Dr. West has to say regarding politics is little more than mindless prattle and meaningless moralizing, it bears little resemblance to reality. The fact is that his bad political judgment is clouded by a gargantuan ego, pompous pretentions to piety, plus a tendency toward wishful thinking; all of which renders him irrelevant in the search for effective policy options to effectively deal with the mind boggling problems that confront President Obama.
It never ceases to amaze me how easily the President’s critics forget the disastrous situation he inherited, with multiple crises at home and abroad confronting him upon entering the Oval Office. And here I am referring to those critics on the left who consider themselves politically progressive, because the right is engaged in subterfuge with no regard for the truth; they are pledged to deny this President any victories even if it means telling the most outrageous lies and manufacturing scandals.
Alas, it is well known that the leaders of the Grand Obstructionist Party, in and out of office, pledged to oppose any policy President Obama proposed. In fact they met clandestinely in a Washington hotel room the night of his inauguration and took something akin to a blood oath to wreck Obama’s presidency by constant obstruction and thus make him a one term President.
Fancy Nancy and the Chi Town Kid
A Dynamic and Effective Duo
However all these seasoned political pros made a serious mistake: they underestimated their opponent worse than Sonny Liston underestimated Muhammad Ali. Barack won reelection and they Republicans are still recovering from the shock. They are clearly in a state of panic. They equally missed their mark in assessing Nancy Pelosi, who will surely be remembered in history as one of the most effective Speakers to ever run the House Of Representatives. This smart savvy lady from Frisco, in league with the Chi-Town Kid, made a great team and passed historic legislation.
Passing Landmark Legislation….
…….And Making history
While there is an embarrassment of riches from which to choose the Wall Street regulation regime is an excellent example of their legacy. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama is the strictest legislation regulating Wall Street in American history. It ends the kind of reckless speculation and assumption of risks that led to the financial collapse under Bush, when there was hardly any regulation at all and trillions of dollars in American wealth disappeared, throwing millions of Americans out of work. And there would have been millions more without a massive government bailout.
Dodd-Frank also offers protections to consumers who are victimized by ruthless mortgage bankers and sleazy lenders who charge exorbitant interests for short term loans. These are critically important developments for the American people, especially Afro-Americans, but the House refuses to fund the agencies that are tasked with enforcing the new regulations, making them the disloyal opposition. For they have betrayed the trust of the American people by refusing to fund programs acted into law their elected representatives passed in a majority vote.
Alas the great work Of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the American people was halted when the Grand Obstructionist Party took back the House just two years later; little of importance has been passed in the House since. I wrote a commentary titled “Triumph of the Untutored Mob,” which argues that this election proved Thomas Jefferson was right when he warned that “an ignorant electorate would elect and return the worse people to power.”
It was an act of self- immolation to turn the House of Representatives over to a Republican Party with right-wing zealots, who called themselves “Tea Party Patriots,” setting the legislative agenda. Yet millions of Americans voted to sabotage their government by sending 66 people to Congress who had publicly declared their hatred for government and vowed to dismantle it; now they expect their party to govern the affairs of the vast and complex nation effectively. It is madness.
When the Republicans wrecked the economy with policies that resulted in the crash of 1929 that brought on the Great Depression, it took them over 40 years before gain control of the House again, but two years after the Bush crash they put a Republican Party in charge of the people’s house who were even more incompetent and reckless than the bums who just wrecked the country. Yet we hear little about this from the cabal of anti-Obama whiners, several of whom sport fancy academic titles but when we actually peruse their writings in search of serious policy proposals instructing us on the route the President should take in order to realize their hopes and dreams, like Mother Hubbard we find the cupboard is bare. They are all blow and no go!
I could call them out by name but you know who they are….and they do too! I just don’t want to give them any more publicity; that’s what they live for. Some of them don’t really care what you say about them so long as you get their names right. Hence I shall refer to them collectively as the Crazy Coon Platoon; it is the most accurate name I could conjure up for a group of clueless blacks on the left and right who have accused President Obama of everything from promoting sodomy and child murder to destroying the Auto-industry.
Some even denounced the President’s commencement speech to the young men at Morehouse College, a speech which contained time honored themes that has contained the bedrock values of Afro-American culture that I grew up hearing and that black colleges have always stressed. One of the most boisterous critics of the Morehouse speech, that baldheaded buffon /failed academic Boyce Watkins, thinks its cute to cotunuously refer to the President as “bi-racial” in an attempt to question his blackness.
Well, Herman Caine is black as midnight in a coal mine and he is what the old folks in Florida used to call “a ass kissin white folks nigger.” What a silly thing to make an issue of, especially since Boyce looks like his ancestry may well lay in China with his pie face and big Bhudda head. But this crowd, inspite of their blacker than thou posture, have spent their academic careers in white colleges – you couldn’t get them to teach at a black college for love nor money!
Crazy Corny West even called the President a war criminal! This charge leaves no doubt that the Doctor of Philosophy is a verbose hysteric who appears to know nothing about warfare and the requirements of national security when confronted with an enemy like the Islamic Jihadists: who are transnational fanatics that believe they are carrying out the will of God and do not recognize the rules of war as laid out by the Geneva Conventions.
The Jihadists have repeatedly demonstrated that they care nothing about civilian lives whether Muslim or Christian. In fact they consider their main enemy to be those Muslims with whom they have theological differences, as the 1800 year old conflict between the Sunni and Shiite factions will testify. While Dr. West decries the regrettable loss of civilian lives as a result of the deployment of drones in the fight against the Islamic Jihadists, he does not offer what he would consider a more efficient and humane way of going about fighting this shadowy and ruthless enemy who spend their every waking hour plotting a more spectacular attack on the US – which is to say us – than the 911 disaster.
Their ultimate objective is to set off a nuclear weapon or at least a high radiation “dirty bomb” in New York City…or some other heavily populated American metropolis. It is President Obama’s job to see to it that that don’t succeed, an objective that cannot be achieved by moral persuasion! War has always been an ugly business; those who have experience it first-hand say “war is hell!” And those who are knowledgeable about its history knows it is by nature a bloody and inhumane enterprise in which atrocities are common fare and for which civilians have little stomach. Yet when a nation comes under attack the civilians do not hesitate to turn to the soldier for salvation.
That’s why all able bodied civilians should be subjected to a military draft. For if everyone is required to bear the burdens of war it would accomplish two things: Every family would have to sacrifice their loved ones and would therefore be reluctant to go to war, and we would all be forced to confront the reality of war; instead of the sanitized version the public is getting now. In the meantime those who are whining about the civilian casualties resulting from drone warfare should spend some time watching the Military Channel on cable television. There they can see actual films of combat going back to the First World War in the early years of the 20th century.
In World War II fifty million people were killed – most were not soldiers. Do Cornel West and the rest of the moral scolds who now call President Obama a “war criminal” include all the presidents of the past who have been tasked with waging war in defense of this nation? There are war crimes to be sure, but to simply say that any actions in which civilians are killed, when that was clearly not the intention, constitutes a war crime?
By any objective measure, drone warfare is the least destructive method of fighting an enemy who hides among the civilian populace. It is certainly less destructive than deploying ground forces, and it cost far less in American blood and treasure. Yet even after I heard a spokesman for Iraq and Afghan war veterans tell Corny West this he keeps on saying (Look under the section titled “On Dr. Cornel West on this blog for a discussion of the incident)
It is precisely because war is the ultimate horror show that it’s details are kept secret – along with the fact that it is wise to keep your operational strategies out of the purview of your enemies. Hence those who consider Sergeant Bradley Manning – who turned over 700,000, classified American military documents to Wikileaks to be posted on the internet – a hero are at best confused on the issue.
To be sure, some of the information contained in those documents constitutes indisputable evidence of war crimes, and one could sympathize with the crisis of conscience experienced by Private Manning. But he should have been selective in the documents he chose to expose for public scrutiny. Indiscriminately dumping hundreds of thousands of secret documents entrusted to his care could imperil the military mission and for that he must, and will, be severely punished. Furthermore, Bradley Manning is a very confused guy who was undergoing a protracted personal crisis that had but little to do with is military experience. For a discussion see my review of the recently released documentary “We steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.”
No military organization can function successfully if any of its members along the chain of command can feel free to leak classified documents to the press. That’s why the Attorney General tapped into the phone messages and e-mails of certain journalists that had written about covert actions which thwarted a terrorist action that would have blown up civilian airliner. And despite the anguished self-righteous cries of my colleagues in the press: He was right! And he should stand his ground on this question; turning the tables on the press by putting the question this way: What is of greater importance, the national security of the US or the right of the press to publish secret military documents?
Exposing ongoing covert actions can put the lives of brave Americans who routinely risk everything in the service of this nation in even greater risk. And when one considers the fact that the reporters motives are often no more exalted than getting a scoop on his competition and gaining notoriety for themselves, the aura of nobility evaporates and the claim of heroism is tarnished.
The question for the American people is what is more important: preventing another Jihadist attack on an American city that rivals or surpasses that on 9-11, or the prerogative of the press to publish anything they want any time they want? To publish or not to publish: that is the paramount question facing the American people and the fate of the nation might well hang in the balance.
It is instructive that the arguments of Wikileaks’ champions, and those who view Sergeant Manning as a hero who should be hailed not jailed, lack this kind of nuanced analysis of the complex issues surrounding their actions. What we get instead is an endless stream of self-righteous prattle in which everything is painted is stark black and white Manichean dualities between good and evil. But, alas, the world is far more complicated than that and the matter of war and peace is rife with contradictions.
In the world of instant mass communications those contradictions are laid bare when secret military documents are made public. And when you have a reckless political opposition like the contemporary Republican Party, whose motivations rise no higher than to embarrass the President and Attorney General for partisan advantage, it can hamper their efforts to maintaining national security. The hearings now being conducted by that repeat criminal offender Darrell Issa’s Government Oversight Committee is a case in point.
Here the representatives of the Grand Obstructionists Party, unable to win at the polls despite their political dirty tricks that attempted to limit voting opportunities for Democrats, are abusing their Congressional authority to nullify the dramatic Democratic victory in the last presidential election. Nothing demonstrates their hypocrisy more than the hearings around the attack on the American embassy at Benghazi, when it is they who voted to cut $300 million from the budget for embassy security.
The investigation into the Internal Revenue Service that threatens to ruin the careers of civil servants who were just doing their jobs and the ongoing attempts to discredit the Attorney General – who is a saint compared to Nixon’s AG John Mitchell, who was convicted of committing crimes in office – are equally hypocritical. Not to mention the fact that Republicans blame Barack for not knowing what an IRS office in the mid-west is doing in trying to enforce a complicated law, when a group of Naval and Marine officers – including the notorious colonel Ollie North – ran an illegal operation designed to subvert the Boland Act from the White house basement but accepts President Ronald Reagan’s explanation that he knew nothing of it!
It is the role of serious intellectuals to point these contradictions out; especially Black Intellectuals who have set themselves up as President Obama’s inquisitors. The recent revelations about the massive domestic surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency, which again raises the question about the requirements of national security vs. individual privacy in protecting Americans against terrorist attacks. But they are curiously silent on these critical but controversial matters.
Instead, what we get is a bunch of meaningless noise that more closely resembles a collective temper tantrum than a serious analytical discourse. Perhaps the reason they are hollering so loud and saying such crazy things is because nobody is paying them any mind….thank the lord. In spite of their boisterous and incessant caterwauling during the last election, Afro-Americans still voted for President Obama over 90%! The haters must be quite a frustrated lot after witnessing all of their efforts come to naught despite big help from right-wing white racists. The question is who did the black haters vote for? Inquiring minds want to know.
They Can’t Touch This!
The GOAT: Greatest of All Times!!!!
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
June 8, 2013