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MLK Day, Obama, and Race
President Barack Obama visits the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP)

President Barack Obama visits the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP)

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There were rapturous scenes a year ago as Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States.

Millions of Americans celebrated a milestone in America’s hard racial history, African-Americans in tears of pride and joy at a day many thought they would never see.

A year later, on this Martin Luther King Day, were talking with African-Americans about what Obama’s first year in office has meant to them and the country in racial terms. From schoolrooms to workplaces to private conversations and the halls of power.

This hour, On Point: African-Americans speak about one year of Obama.

Guests:

Joining us from Berkeley, Calif., is Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Since 1998 she has represented the 9th District in California, which includes Berkeley and Oakland.

From New York, we’re joined by Sheena Wright, chief executive of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community development group that provides affordable housing, social services and educational opportunities to residents in Harlem. She was recently profiled in The New York Times.

And joining us from Knoxville, Tenn., is Raphael Wornack, Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. once led the congregation. Five years ago, at age 35, Wornack became the fifth and youngest person ever to lead the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was founded in 1886.

During this hour we also hear from young Americans around the country, thanks to Youth Radio. They sent out kids to interview kids for us about race in America one year after President Obama’s election.

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  • cory

    I wonder if African Americans are as disappointed as progressives with the Obama presidency.

    Progressives have discovered that change is either impossible or tediously slow in American government.

    Obama’s presidency may prove nothing more than an African American can win the presidency in this country. I’m guessing that this isn’t enough… for progressives or African Americans.

  • jeffe

    Cory Obama was never a progressive. I knew that when I voted for him. He is a centrist. Granted he used the progressive wing of the democrat’s and independents to get elected, but his message of change was more about marketing. Which is not a good thing. Chances are pretty good if runs in 2012 and the republicans can put up a good candidate he might lose.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    No doubt my comment here will label me the “Harry Reid” of the onPoint comment crowd.

    We tend to like hybrids as a transition to something new: cars and yes, as odd as it sounds, people too.

    Obama may be the equivalent of male and female amer-asian models: a good looking hybrid that looks attractive to many different groups: blacks, whites, liberals, thinking conservatives like David Brooks, and thinking folks of all types.

    And, it looks like almost all of these groups are disappointed so far.

    Maybe the genius of Obama’s candidacy was that it was easy for many different groups to project their hopes onto him.

    Many of us have started to sour though and given the topic of this show, it will be interesting to hear if black americans (progressive or not) are as sour as many of us progressives.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Sorry meant to include the word “white”

    Many of us have started to sour though and given the topic of this show, it will be interesting to hear if black americans (progressive or not) are as sour as many of us white progressives.

  • James

    Obama has done nothing for any American, much less blacks. Healthcare reform is a perfect example, it doesn’t address any of the racial/class issues in our healthcare system as it relates to access.

    Furthermore, Obama has not made any effort to address poverty/opportunity.

    Frankly, I don’t think his Wall Street overlords would let him. Follow the money and you’ll see who pulls the strings and sets the agenda.

  • Todd

    Racial differences among ourselves would matter less in America, and would be less divisive, if forums such as this weren’t constantly harping on the topic. If you don’t want race to be an issue, then don’t treat it as though it should be one.

  • kim siebert

    It doesn’t take one man–one person–to change the system. It takes many people–many voices. Obama’s voice is an articulate, eloquent one but what it is meant to do is to motivate the rest of us to demand the changes that we want, not to sit back and complain that things aren’t happening the way we want them to or happening fast enough.

    Obama has certainly rallied some folks to action and these are the folks who hate him. If we , who supported him in the election and who want to see the ideals achieved that he spoke of during the campaign, do not stir ourselves to make our voices heard we will get what we deserve: Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney. Imagine that for a minute before you take another swing at Barack Obama.

  • Natalie

    Promises unkept, to A-As and everyone else. We certainly deserve better than this, and we were promised better also.

  • jeffe

    kim being critical of Obama does not mean he does not have support, all presidents need to be held to task.

    I always knew he was not a progressive. I also think that way to much was expected of him. The machine in Washington is just to large and corrupt fro one man to change. That’s reality. He could made a good stab at it, but chose not to. He has surrounded himself with wall street democrat’s and people who want to keep the status quo.

    That said it is brilliant that an African American was elected. I’m sure if Martin Luther King was here one could not help but wonder if would be protesting the financial policies, the continuation of Bush’s mandates in the Justice department and the wars now perched on the shoulders of Obama.

    If Palin of Romney are elected in 2012 future it will be a mandate on Obama and it shows that this country is really a conservative country. I don’t think Palin will be running for any office any time soon, she pretty much has blown it. One can’t win with support from only a minority of the population, granted it is a loud, nasty minority.

  • Bradley

    I believe that there is a more nuanced reading of Obama’s effect on the aspirations of African American children. Yes, now they see that they can grow up to be President, but there is only one President of the United States. What I believe is MORE important is the long string of highly qualified African American cabinet and judicial appointments Obama has made. It makes it undeniable to the youth (and to the nation at large) that a strong, talented pool of successful and qualified African Americans exist in this country and have been called upon to work at the highest levels of our country. In truth not every child can be President, but maybe they see now that they can grow up to be successful lawyers, leaders and policy makers.

  • Jim

    I continue to be deeply disappointed in the African-American community’s unwillingness to embrace equal rights for LGBT people in the United States and the blatant homophobia that runs throughout the African-American community. It is not okay to advocate your own equality while denying equality to others. If MLK were alive today, one would hope that he would be a leader in the struggle for gay equality. And yet many of his followers and those who honor him fail to do so. Very sad.

  • Keith

    Love these “feel good” programs on MLK day, and still pleased that Barack Obama is President of the United States of America. However, as an African American with genetic connections to American slavery in both side of my family tree, let me assure you white supremacy is alive and well in American, perhaps even stronger because the developing backlash from the election of Pres. Obama.

    Let’s hear from some major thinkers on the topic of race(ism) i.e. Cornel West, Lani Guinier.

  • Mark

    Congresswoman Lee says that the African-American community is now the “soul of America.” Such an exclusivist view hardly seems consistent with Dr. King’s vision.

  • Todd

    “Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney. Imagine that for a minute before you take another swing at Barack Obama.”
    Posted by kim siebert

    Oh, I agree; Obama has mastered the art of lying and doing nothing, much more convincingly than Palin or Romney ever could.

    If you want real change, then vote 3rd party.

  • Marc

    I think there’s something built in to humans that high percentages want to feel they are persecuted. It’s so easy, any time you fail to see it as racism. Asians, Indians (from India), eastern Europeans and others have all succeeded past African Americans. But these other groups lack what African Americans have – an industry that thrives on their feelings of victimization. Jesse Jackson and others wouldn’t be the power brokers they are if they hadn’t convinced large number of people that they are victims. People on this show have a strong economic interest in continuing these feelings. And what’s sad and ironic is these same people will hold those back who they would like to help.

  • cory

    one of the guests said “racism is alive and well in the U.S.”. What conditions must be met for the same person to proclaim “the U.S. doesn’t have a racist bone in its body”? You cannot succeed without defining the terms of victory, can you?

  • Louise

    Any comparisons of Obama to King simply don’t hold up to the light. A more accurate comparison would be that of King to Gandhi and Obama to Mussolini.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I can’t find Barbara Lee’s Congressional Black Caucus Opportunities for All, Pathways out of Poverty at the CBCF website. There was apparently a day at Capital Hill with speakers, with that title.
    I want to know exactly that agenda because — well, because. But I do find this article through links: (and printed it laboriously)

    Schneider, Jo Anne “Pathways to opportunity: The role of race, social networks, institutions, and neighborhood in career and educational paths for people on welfare”. Human Organization. FindArticles.com. 18 Jan, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3800/is_200004/ai_n8896654/

  • cory

    My sympathy goes out to non-minorities who live in congresswoman Lee’s district. It seems like they may be very low on her political agenda.

  • Parsley Keenan

    I am so sick and tired of hearing “the huge disparity between the Black, the Latino and the Asian communities”. I am Chinese, and I don’t think good number of Chinese students tend to get ahead because the color of their skin. Don’t forget, there were Chinese laborers back in the days. Until majority of Black and Latino families put education on top of the parents’ priority list, and teaching their kids to be modest and respectful of their elders, the Blacks and Latino can just keep complaining.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Granting the calcification of institutionalized racism, anyone old enough to remember has an idea of racism that is far far from us now. I remember traveling by train into the South, being taught to shun. I mean, even up north, the idea was “people don’t treat black people the same, so don’t you.”

  • http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/black_man_given_nations Jonathan Allen

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Onion Headline:
    Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job (November 5, 2008).
    He has done an astoundingly good job of it, given all that is stacked heavily against him. Only an appalling reprobate like George W. Bush could have left our nation in such incredible turmoil, and Obama has made tremendous strides against this turmoil, as bad as things are.

  • Michael

    Obama has been president for a year, in a very difficult time. Wars, recession (depression?), major policy intiatives to fight, and all with very high expectations. Congress is stuck in eternal warfare between the two political parties. The two parties seem more interested in being in charge than in governing.

    I am a 42 year old white male. During the election there was a lot of talk about it being racist for whites to vote for McCain. Now there is talk that it is racist for whites to support Obama? Is this the no-win situation?

    Maybe the problem is that the politicos and the media are stuck on instant solutions and constant controversy. Some problems, some solutions will take a long time to be solved and implemented.

  • Marc

    The woman talking about how unfair it is to criticize Obama because he hasn’t solved all problems in his first year is either dumb or manipulative (more likely the latter).

    Those of us who voted for him aren’t disappointed because he hasn’t solved all problems quickly. He was left a mess and we know it. It’s because he’s made the situation so much worse. More trillions in debt, a health care bill without single payer, that’s being negotiated in back rooms by buying out special interests. And now we’re increasing the war in Afghanistan. Just in terms of fiscal responsibility, he’s made his incompetent predecessor look like a member of mensa.

  • Jason

    America is not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, only equal opportunity. Our government should stop trying to dictate outcomes.

  • Parsley Keenan

    Obama was elected because he and his staff did a superb job campaigning. I hate to say this, it’s exactly because he didn’t have the stereotypical “Black man” traits and mentality that have been keeping the majority of Black people in the “disadvanged” state. Neither his African American heritage or his personal charm is going to be deciding factor for how good of a president he’s going to be. The problems of this country and this world takes more than one Barack Obama to take care of.

  • cory

    So…

    If I voted for Obama (which I did) and am disappointed with the first year of his presidency (which I am) and am white (yep, I am) then according to the guest I am intellectually irresponsible and a racist?

    The guest who made this assertion is the worst sort of race-baiter, and actually hurts race relations more than she helps. She is part of the cottage industry that sustains itself through perpetual racial tension.

    I seldom criticize Tom, but he should not have let this garbage pass without comment.

  • Jack

    Obama has done great damage to America and the office of the presadent. For the first time in my life, I can not say that the current presadent has made my country safer than it was the day before he intered office. Not only has he eliminated the war on Terror, but he is now treating foreign born terrorists like US citizens. We also now have a financial crisis that Obama is trying to spend his way out of and a healthcare bill that is so bad that he is buying votes by allowing groups to be exempted from the bills effects. A good sign of a good bill is people fighting to participate more or quicker not the opposite.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Parsley, some of the “black man traits and mentality” are enforced by the legislation that dictate their options. Watch a young person, of any color, try to navigate, subsidies falling off left right and center with every reportable dollar he earns. The subsidies are the tax credit for the developers, for the elements in a community that want to think they are very beneficent. But the effect is to drive people toward drug dealing or other under-the-table ventures. I have heard NPR pieces saying we desperately need the under-the-table “trades” — like child care, elder care. But for a young man having to lie, for the sake of food stamps, about who his “lady” is — he’s playing the system, trying to stay down. Homeownership might be a way out for some (say in the suburbs or countryside), with its mortgage deductions. Or parenthood, with its child deductions. But pretty much the tax codes and subsidies dictate exactly how you have to proceed, and it is not a path of much choice.

  • Anthony R.

    Obama has not only taken Bush’s playbook, but he’s ramped up every aspect of it. Debt, deficits, lack of transparency, military surges, executive privilege, state’s secret, earmarks …

    This is a lesson about inexperience, deception and naivete rather than color.

  • Linda

    I agree with Kim S.

    There are many of us out here that continue to support and respect President Obama as he tries to cleanup the mess left by the previous administration. No one can solve the huge problems we have in a year – that’s so unrealistic. Many people today want instant everything, and many don’t want to put the time and effort into getting involved themselves; it’s much easier to sit around uninformed and complain.

    You don’t have to love every decision he’s made so far, but his overall philosophy and goals for the country are honorable. My family and I will continue to support him and anyone running for office that shares his values and outlook for the country.

  • JASON

    I look forward to a day when presidents and residents of the US will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. This discussion of Obama’s color is a disgrace to the MLK dream. I suppose NPR is talking about his color because the content of Obama’s character is universally disapproved and often unamerican.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Someone will know better than I, but there was a law passed round about 1973 that allowed a lot more immigration, and in retrospect this makes sense, because the diversity of the population is so much greater. In the years before that, in the 1950s and 1960, where I lived almost everyone was white. Certainly everybody who was not black was white. You had to actively seek out people of diverse background and ethnicity. Nowadays, running around on public transportation in the area of a large public university, there is no longer white and black. There is every permutation, and young people take this in stride. People of every hue, background, and ethnicity, sitting on that bus, expect to be treated the same way, and it’s easy to meet their standard.
    Fifty years ago, the bus wouldn’t have held anything close to that variety. The divisions are disappearing. I can look and see oh, this one is a bit of Serbia/southern Russia/Persia, plus a smattering of Bengal. Or this one is South American Indian with dash of Japanese, plus Irish. I mean, I’m sure I’m often wrong. But an awful lot of young people are blended like that. I wouldn’t know who identifies as black at all. I just call them “of color” if I’m not sure, which is usually.

  • http://? michael alogna

    I am hardly a leftist: 2 voluntary combat tours in V-N ( SWIFTS), HBS MBA ( Hank Paulson a classmate, knew him socially).
    Was Asst Sec’y of ANF under 2 Republican Governors of Mass. Like millions of other wonderful white folks proudly voted for Obama and teared up on his inaugaration. I am VERY disappointed/angry: He is NOT the man he said he was. Those White Boys had him at hello…or earlier.Refusal to have A.G. prosecute: Wall St execs who caused so many tragedies, higher ups who sanctioned the torture we will pay for in blood and shame as those screams echo thru the years ahead (Both in Japan and at Nuremberg we HUNG higherups for such sanctioning). Fear of GOP & Backus caused healthcare debacle. Did no more than minimally wring his hands over the 1300 to 13 Gaza slaughter ( we’ll pay for this many times over). Allowing eviseration/strangling of Financial Consumer Protection bill ( so did the FORMER Barney Frank).
    As an INSIDER, I assume you know that Barak is the natural child of Larry Summers and Condie Rice. Explains a lot doesn’t it? Actually, what we really need is a REAL Kenyan. This fiasco will set back for a generation another person of color being elected President. VP, maybe. With Regret, Michael

  • Wana

    What bothers me most about the situation with the president now, is that so many
    liberals, so called progressives, and blacks appropriate many Americans current discontent to be because of race. I think the main problem with the discontentment, is that the president promised transparency, and both parties working together for solutions.
    THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED.
    So many liberals are elitists and in effect show great prejudice if one: hasn’t attended a prominent college, has certain religious beliefs, or lives in certain areas.
    Whenever conservatives complain, we are told we are ignorant, not progressive enough, or just don’t understand. It seems that if we don’t agree with liberals we are wrong. What happened to freedom of choice. When conservatives protest, we scare the Speaker of the House; but when liberals protest she applauds them.

  • jeffe

    Jack, Jack…, your comment is just a stereo typical response taken from the republican play book.
    So the 8 years and of and the 15 years + of republican leadership were god for the country. You seem to be suffering from selective memory loss, which seems to be a national past time these days.

    I’m not happy about a lot of things Obama has done, his handling of the financial crisis was not good. He should study LBJ and learn how to lead his party. He let the Senate and the House take way to much control with the health care bill, which is now such a disaster that it looks to be one of the main reasons that a two bit state senator from Massachusetts is likely going to win tomorrow.

    Jack you seem to have forgotten that the Bush administration prosecuted the shoe bomber, Richard Reid in the Federal courts. The civil courts tired Timothy McVeigh who received the death penalty. We are a country with laws, to start to take these laws apart is a dangerous avenue to go down.

  • Jeff W.

    I don’t care about the color of the guy who said he was going to keep lobbyists out of his administration and then went back on that promise right away.

    I don’t care about the color of the guy who promised a televised debate of healthcare reform and then let the lobbyists draft the legislation in secret.

    I …

  • Ellen Dibble

    Michael Alogna and others disenchanted in Obama, I somehow think more than naivete is at play. You are so right, it seems to me, that higher-ups who sanction torture need public punishment and humiliation, and that health care was an exercise in kowtowing to special interests, and that Wall Street needs a firm government hand that Summers and Geithner don’t have, that consumer protection seems likely to be another piece of roadkill. And do I then have faith Obama has taken charge of the military upper echelons rather than vice versa?
    Do I think he can distinguish between international criminals and — well, are we trying to own the entire world? (As to how to prosecute, how to interrogate, how to “go after”…) The debt piled on our children means we will be OWNED, not owners — all but a very few at the top, that is.
    Yet I don’t see anyone else who remotely could be doing what Obama is trying to do.

  • Brett

    Some of Obama’s talk on the campaign trail, particularly in the ‘hope and change’ components of the speech content, echoed some of the progressive ideals many were looking for in him; but, he, early on in his campaign and in much of his voting record, indicated his approach as president would be as a centrist. Perhaps this orientation was and is slightly left-of-center, but he is generally leading from the center. Presidents should lead from the center; if they led from the far-left position or from far right, they would not be leading for the broadest section of the citizenry.

    I don’t think the issue from progressives is necessarily that he isn’t progressive enough (although some far-left folks think he was supposed to have completely reconfigured the political landscape and pushed every agenda item they have through by now). Many liberal, as well as moderate democrats, have been disappointed at his lackluster leadership/management style, which doesn’t seem to square with his rhetoric. He has had a fairly unique position of power and political capital (he and Congress should be asserting that power more in my opinion), but he has proven himself ineffectual so far from a combination of wanting to promote post-partisanship and in his acquiescence to corporate interests.

    The Republicans, generally, are at odds with him because they want power back and are going to engage in every tactic at their disposal to discredit him and regain power. In some cases, it is a bit more ideologically based; in some cases, ideology (while utilizing spin and straw man tactics) are facades for a desire to regain power.

    Many are disapproving on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, but for different (possibly aforementioned) reasons.

    Some of the disapproval (certainly by far not all) is due to a lingering undercurrent of racism/racial tension in this country. The racial demographics in the US are changing; some are reacting and being reactionary to that. Change is a gradual thing replete with a lot of false starts and a kind of one-step-up and two-steps-back motion, yet we have come a long way from the late-’50′s and early-’60′s (when I was a child) of overt racism and systemic discrimination.

    I don’t agree with the sentiment that race relations would matter less if people didn’t focus on them in discussions. If not this forum, then under what conditions, and in what forums, if at all, is the topic proper? I think the discussions on the NPR shows and in their comment forums are less divisive than, say, the discussions emanating from conservative media and in the subsequent discourse those outlets generate. There still is some racial tension/divide in relations among various groups; not talking about it isn’t going to make it go away. I don’t find necessarily that “On Point” devotes an inordinate amount of time to race relation discussions.

    In communities where I’ve lived/worked, where there is true diversity, where there is no majority or minority, race relations are most fluid and in harmony. That true diversity is difficult to achieve because the sheer numbers represented in each group (in the general population) are not equal. If past changes through different forms of government intervention were not enacted, there would have been little change in minority voices and opportunities. Therein lies the rub…some think there has been too much coddling in what they consider unfair entitlement actions, while others have felt not enough has been done to level the playing field, so to speak. Will each side come to terms with this matter of degree and where the demarcation line is or should be drawn?

  • Pamela

    Those of you who are angry and impatient after a mere year of Obama’s presidency, where were you when Bush and Cheney stole the presidency with the help of 9 folks in black robes in ’04?? What did you have to say when they caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 of your countrymen to achieve their multi-pronged agenda?? I ask because it’s been nearly 9 years (since 9/11) and thousands upon thousands (of mainly innocent Iraqi) lives have been taken and I can’t help thinking that had some of you been as determined to see justice done as you are to see Obama fail– perhaps these criminals would be answering for treason and war crimes.

    If you could bear up patiently with evil, surely you can bear up with someone who stands to do good. Ameen.
    I pray that Almighty Allah (swt) will continue to keep President Obama and his beautiful family safe and mentally and emotionally strong.

    I agree with Keith, as an African-American a few generations removed from slavery –I’m amazed Obama is still standing because the racial hatred is soooo thick and in his face!!! (if Joe Wilson’s break from decorum is any indication). It’s quite amazing he’s still alive considering the unprecedented rate at which death threats have been made on this man’s life.

  • jeffe

    I don’t think the issue from progressives is necessarily that he isn’t progressive enough (although some far-left folks think he was supposed to have completely reconfigured the political landscape and pushed every agenda item they have through by now). Many liberal, as well as moderate democrats, have been disappointed at his lackluster leadership/management style, which doesn’t seem to square with his rhetoric. He has had a fairly unique position of power and political capital (he and Congress should be asserting that power more in my opinion), but he has proven himself ineffectual so far from a combination of wanting to promote post-partisanship and in his acquiescence to corporate interests. How true.

    He should take a few chapters out of LBJ’s leadership book. In Johnson’s day Lieberman would have been told to tow the line of else. He would also have been working the phones and very involved with legislation as serious and large as health care. Sadly he has not done so.

  • jeffe

    hose of you who are angry and impatient after a mere year of Obama’s presidency, where were you when Bush and Cheney stole the presidency with the help of 9 folks in black robes in ‘04? I don’t know about anyone else but I was writing a lot of letters and was pretty involved as much as I could under the circumstances. What were you doing?

  • mr.independent

    This article by Robert Kuttner is on the money.

    This sentence reads true to me.

    Obama needs to stop playing inside games with bankers and insurance lobbyists, and start being a fighter for regular Americans. Otherwise, he can kiss it all goodbye.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/a-wake-up-call_b_426467.html

  • Ryan King

    I see some irony in Barack Obama being the first black president during the time of a record number of African Americans behind bars in our prisons. A recent book I read, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, cogently argues the Jim Crow era is not necessarily over; rather, it has been transferred to the background. Obama must follow Jim Webb’s calls for prison reform if he will be at all successful in leading America to realizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

  • Mary

    I am so ashamed of the way the Republican obstructionists and their attack dogs on the far right such as Rush Limbaugh and the fanatical Sarah Palin crowd and their apologists on the Fox New channel have mistreated our US President.

    They are a disgrace both nationally and internationally today and make the US
    appear radicalized today by Right wingers. In addition, they are helping to make themselves political extinct by derailing Obama’s policies to the middle class
    and the working poor.

    For 8 years many of their most loyal servants such as Mitch Mc Connel and Trent
    Lott signed on the bottom line for President George Bush and made many sweet-heart deals they complain about today on the democrat side and never once did I hear either one of them complain about deficit spending nor the Bush & Cheney’s tax give away and the sacking of the US Tresury of the 2-3 trillion budget surplus left by the Clinton camp.

    Now how foolish they look today complaining about deficit spending on the radio and TV when millions of Americans are out of work and homeless due to 8 yrs of their mismanagement both in terms of their deregulation of the markets and tax give aways to corporate American and an unnecessary war in Iraq which has con-
    tributed to the near if not total bankruptcy of many states such as California.

    How many people know almost half of California 44 billion debt was the result of their tax cuts in lost revenue to that state? And guess who is paying for those budget cuts today–the poor and the most fragile of state residents.

    I should add here thanks in a twisted way to Hurricane Katrina as it revealed t
    he falsehood of Trickle Down economics in the underbellies of New Orleans and Mississippe.

    It seems many in those states never saw a cent of the Bush /Cheney tax give aways and their state’s cries to repair their failing infrastructure such as schools,
    bridges and levelies went unanswered until residents found themselves on roof-tops and their neighbors floating down stream.

    I read how they were very hard working people- sometimes working two or three jobs on minimum wages to get by ( while corporate America were pocketing out-
    landish bonuses) and the funny thing about all their working it wasn’t working for many of them still reported struggling to pay their bills.

    Now corporate America stands to gain from Obama’s escalation of the situation
    in Afghanistan and the troop surge as Cheney’s corporate friends line up waiting for US tax dollars to flow their way once again!

    In Iraq as in Afghanistan US contractors outnumber US troops 2-1 and I have seen ratios much higher than this. Yet no one seems to talk about them while
    US tax payers are footing the bill and paying the high cost of contractors fees.

    So once again our schools and communities and states are missing out on this
    added revenue and Obama will recieve the blame for going along with this un-
    necessary escalation that is not only placing ordinary Afghans and Pakistanese
    at higher risks but American troops and the American people for reprisals too.

    And just to finish up I find it unconscionable how any public servant would op-pose health reform when over 40,000 Americans die needlessly yearly due to
    no health insurance or inadequate insurance. It reminds me of statement Ben Franklin once made: “There was never a good war or a bad peace”

  • Brett

    Harry Reid, in his now infamous comment quoted in the book “Game Change,” was engaging in what I would call “aging-white-guy-syndrome.” His were a poor choice of words, to say the least, and reflected someone still using words from an outmoded lexicon. However, the sentiment expressed in that comment was, essentially, that voters would find a mixed-race, light-skinned man, who was very articulate, more agreeable in electing the first non-white president. Unfortunately, as a society, we are not colorblind, nor are we completely free of our pre-conceived notions with regard to variations in the color of another’s skin.

    Interestingly (well…as in true to form for them), in the cry of foul from Conservative Leadership, there was a call for Reid’s resignation and a cry of “double standard” in their sound bites. Their “double standard” had to do with a comment Trent Lott made at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party at the end of 2002. (Subsequently, Lott resigned from a Senate Leadership role, but not the Senate itself, as a result of those comments). Lott’s comment: “‘When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either!’” (Strom Thurman had run for president in the late-’40′s, on a racial segregation platform.) So, Lott’s comment was much more of an expression of a separatist ideology and desire for a country that had never been racially integrated.

    When Reid’s situation is compared and contrasted with the situation of Trent Lott…Lott had made numerous racially-charged comments over the years and had consistently voted against Civil Rights legislation over the years. Additionally, the Bush Administration already wanted Lott’s head on a platter for various other political blunders on Lott’s part. Lott’s statement was a kind of last straw scenario, and a convenient excuse by his own party to get rid of him. His resignation represented more the GOP wanting to cut their political liabilities than observing any appearance/integrity in the belief of racial equality and diversity. Also, when confronted, Lott was belligerent and refused to apologize for his comments. Reid was contrite and spent days apologizing

  • Ellen Dibble

    I second Mary’s comments. We are paying for all the wrong things. But Obama (Democrats in general) have not laid out the Change We Can Believe In, what exactly it is, and what the costs are. I can’t say I blame them, especially since the Republicans are such draggers and nay-sayers that nothing is likely to happen anyway. So why take the blame for a hypothetical.
    I think the situation is this: We are competing with workers all over the world who know how to live on a few dollars a day. They die sooner, but what else is new. Further, they may have never contaminated their bodies with sweet soda pop or chemically tainted foods like hot dogs or pop tarts. They see huge possibility. Their possibility is a game changer for the USA. Cheap workers sooner or later ruin us. But on the other hand, we turn right back around and ruin them if we cannot hold up our side, so to speak, providing (a) certain democratic standards to aspire to, (b) a protective curtain by an awesome defense capacity, (c) an education system and educated people still holding its own and addressing itself not only to national but to global problems.
    But what about the dislocations? I think in the past unions in the USA provided some portability and security, but unions are not up to the current challenge. New workforce institutions are needed to keep people ready for work, as well as to develop industries that are not more economically outsourced.
    The political currents that seem in flat-out denial seem rooted in a sense that there is no way into the future.
    True, the old path may have petered out. But it’s time to stop grieving. I have a dream of the future. Yes, I do. And it includes a far less fractious Congress in Washington, D.C. It includes trying to work together versus blocking each other like spoiled children at every turn.

  • NICK

    Since the speech of MLK in 1963, little did the oppressing ethnocentric, dictatorial,clerical governments, learn from that. Ethnic cleansing, genocide,tribal wars happened, in Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan etc.
    I take a moment to salute and appreciate Dr. MLK., for his courage, vision, leadership abilities, on the other hand to reflect on our weakness and blindness than.
    I hope now not to rush on conclusion and judgment about the Obama’s failure when he is been there for only few months.
    If we rush now we will regret later.
    Thank you,
    Nick

  • Michele

    This is our country and our government. What are you as American citizens doing to change things? Why are you waiting for one man to change the World? Collectively we have great power why don’t we exercise it? President Obama inherited an incredible mess. We can turn toward the future and work together or look backward and fail.

  • jeffe

    Sorry Michele but I think that train left the station a long time ago. The special interest control the out comes of almost every major piece of legislation that comes out of Washington. Witness the health care bill, this is a farce on a huge scale. The congress along with Obama and Rahm Emanuel managed to destroy any support that they had with reforming health care in a matter of months. Last summer a majority of Americans wanted real reforms and now a majority want no part of what is now a typical congressional mess of a bill. What do you purpose protesting? Voting people out of office? Moving to another more progressive country?

  • Louise

    Even if Obama was 100% pure white I would still say he is terrible president (as well as a self-absorbed demagogue) and that his political views are dangerous for this country.

  • http://www.davidbrabyn.com/ David

    See and hear what people in Harlem were saying in October 2008 just days before Election Day:
    http://www.davidbrabyn.com/harlem/

    And in several of the swing states:
    http://www.davidbrabyn.com/swingstates/slideshow/

  • told ya

    There we have it then…progressives, who are some sub species of liberal, either can’t or won’t learn how America works politically; while liberals have the savvy and cynicism to convince progressives to vote for an incompetent, based largely on the say-so of such media as NPR, which the gullible progressives embraced without question.

  • david

    “I loved it when Obama chided Scott Brown as being just another Republican who sides with special interests. OK … let’s see. Obama just negotiated a deal with labor unions whereby their members would be exempt from certain taxes that their coworkers will have to pay for ObamaCare. A wonderful present for unions … and then Obama says it is Scott Brown who panders to special interests. Could he possibly be any more hypocritical?”
    Coakley claims to be a champion against lobbyist, special interest and insurance giants. Guess who was invited to her closed door fund raiser in Washington? Obama’s skin color has nothing to do with why many people are having a hard time with some of his policies.

  • Carter

    Far too many liberals in our society lack sufficient interior depth and see the world and themselves only in terms of exteriors. Consequently they judge politicians and leaders only in terms of policies, and not in terms of the interior cultural impact that the leaders impress upon society. They are under the impression that policy changes alone are what ultimately drive cultural changes . . . and while this may be true to an extent, we African Americans understand particularly well that the reverse is a far more profound relationship, and had the culture not first rejected racism at its spiritual core, government policies to match should never have fallen.

    Culture, dreams, imagination, loves, fears and hatreds and the vast spectrum of the interior world of Americans is what ultimately drives and guides our democracy. If the culture had not truly been ready for a world free of racism, it would never have banned Jim Crow laws and would never have elected a black president. Likewise if the culture is not truly ready for a world in which health care is not earned, but freely given . . . then there is no way any politician could have made that happen.

    It is easy to criticize a president 1-year in for his policy decisions, because everyone knows they would make the best president. But policy decisions are just a small part of what makes Obama the president that he is, and ultimately his impact on the society rests in a far larger interior world of the American experience in which he is both a common focal point for our collective culture as well as a reflection of it. America made Obama, and whether we decide he must be a failure or success is ultimately going to come down to us as a people deciding our own course. When we collectively get over our interior depression and stop blaming everyone but ourselves for our current problems, only then will Obama suddenly seem like a shining success, because ultimately what Obama is is a symbol of hope, our hope. We thought we could just throw our hope onto an individual and be done with it, but that is not how hope works . . . ultimately it must come from within. We must be the change we can believe in, and only then will it fully make sense why we elected Obama.

  • MIchael

    Some people are funny,the use of the word ObamaCare is just one such, Since someone that seems to follow whats going on would know the Congress and Senate had hold control of the health care bill not the administration.

    Another funny thing is listening to these folks try to chastised Martha C for raising funds when Scott Brown and his supporters bragged about the lobbying dollars they received in one day 1.3 Million, you can listen to the radio Boston last friday as one of Brown Shills claims loudly and repeated his statement about all this outside money.

    Or these Right-Wing hacks complain about NPR and mainstream media being to liberal, I guess when listening to Fox anything not simpleminded and by fit into a soundbite is liberal. Some of the same Fools you don’t believe in evolution, global warming, who tells blacks to stop playing the victim when there abused by the law yet,Scream there civil rights are being taken away cause a blackman got in office. These fools are the same people who would give up there and ours privately to feel alittle safe, the same fools who would put Muslims in internment camps like they did to the jap’s to feel safe.

    Though I’m disappointed with some of the things obama has done, there many(actually talks about global warming, backing away from the country of Georgia, Relations with other countries, the stop of failed belief in Reaganomics,EPA,)

    Reading comments from some of the people above makes me laugh about how brain-dead a good chuck of our population are,especially the ones who think they know the constitution.

    Oh how funny it is when they try and cover-up there bigotry, and hatred.

  • Michael

    Though I’m disappointed with some of the things obama has done, there many things i’m actually happy about(talks about global warming, backing away from the country of Georgia, Relations with other countries, the stop of failed belief in Reaganomics,EPA,Far more transparency then what bush gave us or any republican that follows)

  • Michael

    Check Out the boondocks show about MLK, if he was around today

    Return of the king, 30years MLK was in a comma and awakens

    http://my.spill.com/video/947994:Video:112688

    http://wiki.adultswim.com/xwiki/bin/The+Boondocks/ep+10

  • Ellen Dibble

    Somehow some people think that patriotism IS hatred and bigotry. “We are Good. Evil-doers watch out. We deserve to be at the top of the heap because we are Chosen, Saved, and we overreact so watch out.”
    I do think people might just vote “throw the rascals out” in order to derail the entire national deficit and debt. Just Say No to EVERYTHING our taxes pay for from the public library to the Rover on Mars. Starting with any oily dithering on K Street as to the one sixth of our economy that deals with health care. It reeks of deals. And then the banks. They are dancing on our graves with their bonuses. We will vote the rascals out until someone by some kaleidoscopic method lands in Congress who will turn the Titanic around.
    I think patriotism has something to do with us versus them, hatred and bigotry (blaming someone else without thinking of consequences). Right now the enemy is us, our feverish weapon-crazy globe. Racism is a convenient version of “us”-ness to try, but not a very useful one. People who play that card should get over it, because black people know a lot about how this country ticks, and we would be wise (and lucky) to side WITH them, not against them.

  • Chris

    I didn’t vote for and support Obama because he was black, or white, or both, or any. I did so because I felt he was strong enough to oversome the Washington gridlock and accomplish change this country so needs. But the R’s changed the game, when they played their finally game piece and allowed the financial world to fall to pieces right before he took power. Nice timing, really??!!!

    Apparently there seem to be alot of people who do not undertand the division of power in the US Government. Obama has not negotiated anything in regards to Health Care, which cannot be termed as “Obamacare” because as President he cannot legislate policy. That is the role of Congress which, as usual, has done a piss-poor job representing any of us regular Americans. This is because they are beholden to big business and special interests. This health care bill is a mere shadow of what was originally intended and will only serve as a boon to the insurance companies, hospitals, & managed care systems. It’s ironic that they give this pass to Unions, who appear to support Democratic ideals, but whose rank & file routinely vote Republican while laughing behind their hands at the rest of us. The only benefits to having unions is that they keep wages higher as companies try to keep their workers from unionizing.

    In order to be effective, Obama needs to put pressure on Democrats to hold together & win this fight and to stop compromising with every Tom, Dick, & Harry who wants special considerations. United we stand, divided we fail. If they do not, they will have squandered the only chance to pass any meaningful legislation. As soon as the R’s get their 41, the Dems and their agenda, are toast. I have to hand it to Republicans, they know how to keep their members on target, but not surprising from a party that prides itself on everyone conforming to the same extremely narrow view of the world and those who don’t are shunned. They put out their talking points and within 15 minutes everyone is parroting the same retoric, it amazes me sometimes!!!

  • Natalie

    Obama is a complete disaster and it has nothing to do with Republicans, they don’t count. Obama’s lack of leadership is evident in his inability to craft compromise amongst members of his own party. His party abandoned him first and now the rest of the country is. They’ve seen him for what he is; warmed over Jimmy Carter.

    Three more years of this lame duck and then maybe we can get some real hope and change.

  • david

    ” Obama has not negotiated anything in regards to Health Care, which cannot be termed as “Obamacare” because as President he cannot legislate policy.”

    Well, then I suppose the meeting with the big union people was just a friendly chat over coffee. Strange they were against the bill till Obama had this so called closed door “transparency” meeting. They emerged with a seetheart deal from Obama that exempts them from the cadillac excise tax. The rest of us will have to pay, because the cost will be passed down.

    If this bill passes, how does it benefit the Dems.??
    They will have the Ace card in every election. I promise you you will hear this from every Dem. that runs for office, “If you vote for the Repubs. they will take away your healthcare.” A sure way to seize power and keep power. Power is the name of this game, both parties included!

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!

  • Ken

    I think that we are going to find out once again that the fractiousness of the left is going to hand the country over to the Know-nothing, reactionary Republicans just as in 1994 and 2000. We are going to relearn that there is a lot worse than we can do than an intelligent President who, though not ideologically pure, is a good man. Shame on us.

  • Steve Hardy

    I’ve never heard so much belly-aching.
    Obama has succeeded in further dividing us (US)
    but for all of the blame for his failures being
    attributed to racism is insulting.
    He couldn’t teel the truth if it bit him in the ass.
    Most of Americans don’t support his wreckless
    policies. But call us racist if it makes you
    feel better.

  • Michael

    Consider all that we know about President Obama. Some liberals consider him a fascist, some conservatives consider him a communist. Could he be the product of a biological experiment combining Hitler’s and Stalin’s DNA? A man who is scheming to communize America by ramming a huge socialist health care program down our throats. He is also plotting to destroy the communist revolution in Cuba and the socialist revolution in Venezuela, as revealed by those countries’ leaders. He is a known secret Muslim and Al Quaida agent who seeks to lead America into eternal war against the Taliban and Al Quaida in Afganistan. He has taken on the mantle of the Great Satan against Iran. His parents didn’t have the decency to make him completely black or completely white.

    Plus, he looks like a Stargate System Lord. What more do you need?

  • Brett

    That was a good one, Michael! :-) We don’t just live in an age of spin–or even an age of hysteria; we live in an age of absurdist theater! Last night, I heard an interview with Scott Brown from about a year ago. He was trying to imply that Obama is an illegitimate child, that Obama and his handlers lied about his mother being married when she gave birth to him. The other person he was sort of debating, in a kind of point-counter-point thing, refuted what he was implying. He scoffed at her. When asked about the interview a couple of days ago, he said he never said such in the interview.

    Of course, I heard that when Paul McCartney was killed in a car accident in 1966, as a small boy, Obama was reconfigured by alien overlords to look like him! Those aliens in their advanced methods have him playing dual roles as McCartney and Obama! Question becomes: what do they have in mind?? Clearly, after they programmed him to break up the Beatles, it has been for the Earth to be taken over by alien overlords!!! One can only hope those aliens don’t commit another scientific blunder like when they tried to mix Reagan’s DNA with Bush senior’s DNA…think about how that turned out!!!

    Oh, the inhumanity of it all!!!

  • James

    Excellent repudiation of Obama and Clinton!
    Change is on the way!!!

  • Joan

    My sister in the UK continues to say how “smashing ”
    Obama is and how hard he is working to try and fix
    things he had no part in creating.

    And when we talk about the mean spirited Republicans
    (the obstructionists & the fanatics in The Tea Party )
    who are trying to derail Obama’s plans instead of supporting him -we are united in our opposition to
    fight for the common good…

  • Matt

    This obsession with race needs to stop. Shows like this do nothing but promote division in America. But if we’re going to continue playing this game, I think Barack Obama is going to be a huge embarrassment to the black community. I heard an interesting observation somewhere: after a city or state has been destroyed by corruption and is a hollowed-out wasteland of crime and poverty, that’s when the powers that be allow a black person to hold higher office in that area…to ruin the perception of black politicians.

    What does this say about the United States? Not much, actually, when you consider that Barack Obama is only about 10% African.

ONPOINT
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