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To be an Afro-American, or an American black, is to be in the situation, intolerably exaggerated, of all those who have ever found themselves part of a civilization which in no wise honorably defend–which they were compelled, indeed, endlessly to attack and condemn–and who yet spoke out of the most passionate love, hoping to make the kingdom new, to make it honorably and worthy of life. (James Baldwin, No Name In The Street, (1972)
James Baldwin, wrote these words in 1972. They are profoundly prophetic and apropos. I’m reminded of the political revolution led by an African American, President Obama, whose treatment by many ignorant people, including the current president, was abhorrent, slanderous, and racist.
Yet Obama did not allow racial division and hate to give way to hating; he did not allow hatred and condemnation to nix his capacity to love; he inspired unity among blacks, Hispanics, educated whites, and even among the demographic Democrats find so elusive, working class whites. We were, in the words of James Baldwin, “hoping to name the kingdom new, to make it honorably and worthy of life.”
And I am forever grateful to President Obama for renewing my hope in politics–in how it can bring about positive changes in people’s lives.
Despite the years of enslavement and persecution, African Americans have faced over the years, black people have refused to relinquish their hope. Despite the “sweltering heat of oppression” America’s black leaders have spoken and written far more eloquently than any other demographic about maintaining hope in the face of injustice–in the face of tragedy: Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, James Baldwin, Cornell West.
I emulate the black community–a community I admire just as much as my own communinity–and I will not let the tragedy of the 2016 Election disengage me from the politics of hope bequeathed to me by the African American Prophets who, despite the many reasons to relinquish hope, including threats on their lives, continued to propagate the message that inspired a generation of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and all people of color to elect a president who embodied the message of unity, hope, and love in the face of injustice.
Imagine for a moment that Obama had two immigrant wives, multiple failed marriages, multiple failed businesses. Imagine Obama standing in front a sign with the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Imagine that Obama refused to turn over his tax returns; had extensive ties to a foreign government that just so happens to be our greatest enemy: Russia and Putin; imagine if Lspent millions of tax dollars on maintaining three residences for the Secret Service to protect.
Trunpists are the biggest hypocrites–and racists I ever met in my life. Obama, by virtue of his odd name and his skin color was accused of being a terrorist—and according to Trump, the leader of ISIS. Yet Trump has a bromance going with a dictator who interfered with our sacred democratic process by hacking into the DNC. And what was Trump’s response to Russia: keep spying on us.
Trump’s aides and even his cabinet members met with well-known Russian spies during the course of the election, then lied about it. The same voters who called Obama un-American, a terrorist, and much worse voted for a guy who supports a nefarious dictator who interfered with our election; who is interfering with the election of our Western allies; and has trampled over the sovereignty of Ukraine and Georgia. Trump supporters have put the West in serious danger by voting for a guy who has seriously weakened America and Western Power.
If Obama had immigrant wives and failed marriages, bankrupted businesses, refused to release his tax documents-. He wouldn’t have made it through the Democratic Primary in ’08. Yet Trump somehow won the primary and electoral college. Folks are hurting, and in the age of the 30 second sound bite, where free media seems to be earned through bizarre rants that scapegoat immigrants and people of color for the financial struggle of segments of the American Electorate, Trump’s message resonated.
How would Trump supporters reacted to the man they called a terrorist, a communist, and disgusting racial epithets if he appeared on stage with a slogan that said “Make America Great Again”.
By the way, Trump is the most nefarious hypocrite in this country after calling Obama corrupt for not releasing his “long form” birth certificate–this coming from a guy that has broke with a decades long tradition of releasing his tax documents).
The fallacious right wing talking point that Obama has weakened America’s power in the world is such bullshit. Despite criticism from the left wing of his own party, he droned ISIS back to the Stone Age, assassinated its leaders with the heroic service of our Navy Seals, gave the order to kill bin Laden, and kicked ISIS’s ass out of Iraq. He gave the appearance that the United States was backing out of the Middle East, so that the Reform Party of Iran could achieve victory in Iraq (sending the madman Ahmedinijad packing), which led to the end of Iran’s nuclear program. But he did not back out of the Middle East: he used a scalpal rather than a sledge hammer. The scalpal–drones and special forces–has decimated ISIS. Anytime ISIS elected a new leader, Obama took him out. Leaderless and confused, they cannot even hold on to territory never mind plan an attack on the Homeland. The sledge hammer used by Bush and his neo-cons has destroyed the Cradle of Civilization. These pictures were taken from a friend of mine from Baghdad today:
Bushes quagmire expanded Iranian influence, and has created a hatred towards the United States that will last generations.
President Obama inherited this disaster in the Middle East, and a capitalistic system on the brink of collapse. Yet, he achieved a record of 83 straight months of job growth, expanded our economy while Europe’a shrank, and hit new records with the Stock Market. He increased America’s influence in the world with soft power (the ability to attract people and nations to one’s cause through ideological appeal. And he used hard power in a way to create the least amount of blow back; a stark difference from Trump’s indiscriminate bombings and impetuous decisions to green light missions that led to the death of an 8 year old and a Navy Seal (his sacrifice will never be forgotten).
Obama stood up to the world’s bullies, particularly Putin. Eastern Europe is the most militarized it has been since the Cold War. And now we have Trump who thinks that a sociopathic dictator help bent on weakening the West, is his buddy.
President Obama already realizes that America is great, and he was willing to defend the West from Russian aggression.
Trump does not respect American Values. A patriotic president does not call on our enemy to spy on us; he does not allow espionage to go unpunished; he does not reward a dictator that has attacked us and our Western Allies to the White House for a visit (and then egregiously attack the our 1st Ammendment right of freedom of the press by shutting out the American Press, while allowing the Russian press access; a guy with nothing to hide does not fire the non-partisan FBI Director for investigating possible ties to the Russian government; and he does not utter the words “Make America Great Again”–we already are great.
President Obama realized this, and he also cherished American Values and projected American values and strength around the world; whereas Trump I nothing more than a treasonous self-serving stooge whose Administration has been a complete and utter failure.
President Obama cherishes American values, abhorrs corruption, stood up to the world’s bullies. Trump denegrates American values, is corrupt as the day is long, and befriends the dictator who is currently attacking the West. One has to be a serious hypocrite to call President Obama unpatriotic, a terrorists, or weak, while supporting the guy who tramples freedom of speech and freedom of press and befriends the dictator who is undermining our Western Values.
“Talk softly and carry a big stick.” My favorite president, a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt applied this strategy to international relations. President Trump has reversed the order of that strategy: talk loudly, alienate our closest allies, and whittle “Eisenhower’s stick” down to a powerless twig.
I was talking to a couple of working class gentlemen the other day who supported Trump. I explained to these hard working guys that if Trump and the far right promulgate their agenda, particularly the Orwellian named “Right to Work” legislation, what is left of the working class will die off. Right to Work is an Orwellian term for the far right wing’s attempt to destroy organized labor forever.
These working class gentlemen had the same arguments in support of Trump. “He’s tough,” they said. I explained that this man is far from tough. He talks loudly and doesn’t carry a stick–the opposite of what President Roosevelt advised. He is more willing to criticize Meryl Streep than Vladimir Putin. Putin: a guy who has murdered his political enemies, destroyed free press, persecutes gays, and has dreams of restoring the Russian Empire.
Putin has trampled over the sovereignty of his neighbors in order to achieve his diabolical goals, and he will continue to do so. The only bulwark against Russian aggression is the United States and its Western allies under the NATO alliance and defense umbrella. Trump’s Russian foreign policy is weak appeasement. He wants to strip NATO of its budget and render it toothless. Any student of history realizes that appeasing a dictator like Putin–a murderer by any other name–is sheer folly. All one has to do is study the attempted appeasement of Hitler.
It angers me and frightens me that Trump has such a cozy relationship with our greatest enemy. It frightens me that NATO–the alliance that has kept the Western World the most powerful civilization in the world–is about to come to an end.
This is a victory for Russia and Putin, who not only interfered with our election, but are also interfering with the election of our Western allies. We are under attack! This is not hyperbole. And now we have a president who is nothing more than a puppet to Putin and the Russians. His cabinet is a reflection of his obsequiousness to Putin.
So to the gentlemen who think Trump is tough because he talks tough, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt: talk softly and carry a big stick.
President Obama was tough, yet he didn’t often feel the need to talk tough. But he stood up to the world’s bullies: Putin and Netanyahu. He supplied weapons to Syrian rebels who subscribed to secularism, he sent troops and weapons to the countries bordering Russia (it is the most militarized the region has been since WWII because of President Obama), his drone program put no American military personnel in danger, yet he was able to take out our country’s most dangerous enemies, and it was the left wing of the Democratic Party that criticized him for his drone program, proving that politics should stop at the water’s edge. President Obama talked softy and carried a big stick. He didn’t go around trumpeting to the world how tough he is for doing what a president must do to protect innocent Americans.
Why? First of all, it isn’t something a president should brag about, if he has any moral standards. Secondly, he did not want to make the War on Terror seem like a clash of civilizations. He understood that if we create this narrative of a clash of civilizations, then we create more terrorists and we label innocent people as enemies. And what did Trump do when he came into office? He reinforced the clash of civilizations narrative with his incompetent immigration ban, amongst other things. And because of that, our grandchildren will be fighting a War on Terror for years to come.
We are at war with Russia, and they are winning. They’ve exploited our most sacred institution by interfering with our elections, and the result is that we have an incompetent president who thinks that our country (the country that has fought for freedom around the world, is the first to respond when another nation suffers some sort of catastrophe, the country that freed Europe from the iron grip of fascism and communism) is just as immoral and nihilistic as Putin’s Russia. And if you don’t believe me, watch the O’Reilly interview in which Trump said that we are just as morally bankrupt as Russia. It’s hard to believe that Trump is a patriot, after that blasmphemous statement. Is this the man we want leading our country while we are under attack?
We are at war: Cold War 2.0. And we are losing. Wars, especially between two nuclear powers, are not usually shooting wars. Instead our sacred institutions and our superpower status are being attacked through Russian spying and cyber attacks. These attacks are crippling the United States and our Western allies. Yet, under the new Administration, we’ve yet to hear a critique, nevermind ideas for a counterattack or sanctions.
So are we going to capitulate and accept that our president is a puppet to the Russians? Or are we going to follow in the foot steps of the men and women who died to protect our sovereignty and our right to hold elections without foreign interference ? Are we going to continue to support NATO–the alliance that has protected our superpower status since post WWII? Are we going to fight back against Russia’s act of war?
Wake up America! Trump is a puppet, an incompetent, and a malignant narcissist. The Trump Campaign engaged in message of hate and division to squeak out a win, but his pathological dishonesty leads him to believe that he didn’t really lose the popular vote . He is unprincipled and is not worthy of the office he now holds. Our first step in fighting back is to pressure our congressmen and senators to launch an independent investigation into his ties to Russia; then we vote for Republicans and Democrats in 2017 who pledge to impeach Trump for treason, incompetence, and mental instability.
The tough guy talk is a defensive mechanism for people who really aren’t tough at all and who have low self-esteem, or in Trump’s case malgignant narcissism. It is time for every true patriot, Republican and Democrat, to step up and defend their country against Russian hostility. Our veterans did not fight WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War (the latter two wars being proxy wars against the Soviet Union/Russia) just for the the greatest superpower in the world to capitulate our sovereignty to a thug: Putin. Let’s show that we are still the land of the free and “the home of the brave”; let’s once again prove to the world that the United States is the guarenter of liberal democracy, free markets, and human rights, and that anyone who violates those rights, i.e., Vladimir Putin, is an enemy to United States–an enemy to humanity.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has developed a mythical status. So it might be difficult to imagine FDR getting stern criticism from both sides of the aisle. But at one point in his presidency, this was indeed the case. When he signed the cornerstone of the New Deal–Social Security–into law, The Right Wing called him communist. The Left Wing, of the opinion that it did not do enough, accused FDR of being a cop-out.
President Barack Obama is currently facing the same critiques FDR faced in the 1940’s . “This is socialism,” screams the right wing. “It doesn’t go far enough,” says the left wing. President Obama has received criticism from both sides of the aisle since the passage of The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). The president has been the target not just of mere civil criticism; he’s been the victim of egregious invective:
The magnitude, intensity, and obsession of rightist hatred of the president is unprecedented in the history of American politics because it has poisoned the ability of Republican leaders in Congress to work in good faith with a twice-elected American president … No American president should ever have to defend his Christianity and Americanism.
Bedowsky, Brent “The GOP’s Obama Problem” The Hill (2 April 13)
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who attempted to promulgate national health insurance. His cousin FDR tried twice and failed both times. Truman tried passing a single universal comprehensive health care plan. Obama’s mere suggestion of such a Truman-like system unleashed the right wing attack dogs barking their favorite word: “Communist! Communist!” President Truman while fighting the Cold War against the Soviets, introduced the single universal comprehensive health plan. The Clinton Administration also tried a form of Universal Health Insurance and failed.
This battle was 100 years in the making. Our most revered presidents failed to pass this historic piece of legislation: TR, FDR, and Truman. President Obama, cognizant of the need for health care reform and the government’s responsibility to protect American lives, achieved a remarkable legislative victory by signing The Affordable Health Care Act into law.
The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) has been overlooked and overshadowed by the propagation of egregious lies, i.e., Obama is going to appoint death panels and kill Grandma.
I think most Americans believe in the that health care is a right associated with the right to life. I doubt there are many people out there who believe that we ought to let a person die of treatable cancer because the 3 part- time jobs he works does not offer insurance to part-time employees (although at a Republican Presidential Debate in Texas, when the candidates were asked whether a man without insurance should be left to die, a number of people yelled, “Let him die!”)
This is not how we treat our fellow citizens. We do not allow a mother to die to because her insurance company claims that her breast cancer is a pre-existing condition. Finally we elected a president with the courage and fortitude to battle a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry with billions of dollars to spend on lobbying efforts, commercials, and public relations.
Yet your President stood up to these organizations of iniquity and said, “No, I represent the American people not you. And we are going to stop you from allowing more Americans to die just so you can continue to hand out billion dollar parachutes to people whose job it is to figure out how to get out of paying the medical treatment of a dying American.”
The insurance companies could not intimidate or “buy off” President Obama. And of course they threatened him: they poured money into the Scott Brown Campaign in Massacusetts hoping to take away the Democratic super-majority. If we kept that super-majority, it would have forced these nefarious insurance companies to actually take a lesson in what capitalism is really all about: competition (How is it that America’s fascist movement, known as The Tea Party thinks that a competitive market economy is socialism? But, then again, look at the source). Insurance would have had to compete across state lines; they would have had to compete with a government program. The cost of health care would have dropped precipitously.
Despite Brown’s election, President Obama still pulled it off. He was able to end the corrupt business practices of health insurance companies: no more pre-existing condition refusals; an increase in preventative medicine; now kids can remain on their parents plan until after college; and 30 million more people are insured. In the long-run people will live longer healthier lives.
But this could of course all be a Pyrrhic victory now that The Koch Brothers’ in-house corporate attorney put our democratic-republic on its back with Citizens United.
(To be continued)
By Paul J Adams Jr
Like the line in “Southie is my Hometown”, many South Bostonians (myself included) are “hot under the collar” about the ignoble decision to exclude The Veterans for Peace from marching in The Saint Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day parade. Ultimately, this day is about celebrating our veterans who sacrificed so much so that we may live in peace! It is disgraceful and dishonorable that these veterans–because of their advocation of peace–are banned from the parade. It makes one wonder why The Veterans for Peace are reproached by the parade’s architects?
These folks did not fight to propagate a militaristic culture in our country–a country that is always on war-footing or heavily involved in conflicts that are injurious to our national interest. Last decade’s foreign policy (The Bush Doctrine) has led to a decline in our power and influence in international affairs (I will not delve into the costly Iraq debacle and how it empowered our greatest enemies–maybe next time).
Why do we fight wars? It is so that we may live in a world where there is peace with justice. Sometimes there is peace, but justice is absent, and that may be cause for war. So we fight for both peace and justice. The motivating factor of our veterans and our current men and woman in uniform is to bring about peace and justice for the American People.
They do not wish to be on permanent war-footing. And the bane of this country since World War II has been the creation of the military-industrial complex that thrives in our nationalistic culture (unfortunately, our Saint Patrick’s Day Parade has become an example of that militaristic culture). Their must always be an enemy–a bogey-man. First it was the Soviet Union and communism; now it is al Qaeda and Islamic Fundamentalism.
We do have real enemies in the world. However, the military-industrial complex creates an irrational fear in the American People so that the arms manufacturers continue to get most of our tax dollars. In 2013, 57% of the president’s proposed discretionary spending went to defense. The United States is responsible for almost half of the world’s military spending at 48%.
We are on a permanent war footing, so that the CEO’s of companies like Boeing can continue to take most of our tax dollars in order to remain uber-rich. How is that not the redistribution of wealth that hawkish-conservatives hypocritically accuse Progressives of?
The Veterans for Peace bring a much-needed argument to the table, and they do so by innocuously calling for peace. But the powers that be that are victims of military-industrial propaganda–or perhaps, even more dangerously, they are sincerely nationalistic–unjustly ban The Veterans for Peace from our parade.
As aforementioned, 57% of proposed discretionary spending goes to the military whilst our education system continues to suffer, whilst our infrastructure falls apart, whilst the middle-class continues to disappear.
The biggest threat to our nation–to our superpower status–is the continuous neglect of our educational system and the middle-class–not al Qaeda, not Islamic fundamentalism.
We reached superpower status by investing in America’s infrastructure, by making college affordable through the promulgation of legislation like the GI Bill, which led to the formation of a strong middle-class protected by strong unions.
“Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” Our national policies are a mirror reflection of the policies of the Romans in the last years of this great empire’s existence. In their death throws, most tax dollars were allocated to military defense spending, which led to an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. Rich Roman families fled and created their own independent fiefdoms to avoid taxation (call it an early form of tax sheltering).
America and our leaders do not seem to be students of history. If we were, we would already know what the result of our policies will be the collapse of our great American superpower status–a mirror image of the collapse of Rome.
We have a lot to learn from these Veterans for Peace. They are true patriots warning us of our eminent demise if we continue to financially ignore our domestic problems in order to redistribute the wealth to the wealthiest 1%.
Leaving them out of the parade is shameful. It is an attempt to propagate the military-industrial complex that the powers that be in South Boston subscribe to.
The first three paragraph’s of the following is a comment I left for a friend who does not think very highly of union folks. He uses these tired arguments that there are no need for unions and that we are lazy (which is laughable):
“Well, my honorable, good friend. I’m still confused. Maybe a personal story will demonstrate the suffering of what is left of the working-class/the lower middle-class. Since you are a good friend, and an honorable friend, I will try to remain rational, and only let emotion seep through when I talk about my mother who passed back in ’08. My mother wanted a better life for me. She cleaned houses on the weekends. That’s right, she spent the weekends on the floors of wealthy people in their Victorian-styled homes scrubbing away, cleaning toilets, cleaning the mess left by spoiled children who were using modems for the internet before I even knew what it was: the “haves and the have nots.” Throughout the week she worked at the Brigham and Women at the night-time telecommunications. Often times, I would have to stay at her co-workers houses, and I was always so scared–I wanted to be in my own bed. But I understood that my beautiful, hard-working Mom was doing what she had to do for us. She was stronger in spirit than most men I have met in my life-time. She was able to put herself through nursing school as a single-mother. She believed in her heart that the American Dream is out there if you work hard enough. And she achieved it. Do you honestly believe that you somehow ever worked hard than my mother (after all, my friend, you advised “us working-folk” to work harder), who besides working her full-time job, took jobs at places like the Marion Manor to pay the bills–particular my High School tuition.
I get a kick out of people (I do not mean you my friend) who were handed everything in life, but yet they have the audacity to call a union woman like my mom lazy. She was the site rep. for the MNA. And you know what they fought for?–-the patient. Quality care can only be given if there is a proper ratio between nurse and patient. Wow!–-What a selfish act.
My father was the president of his union, and cleaned out the corruption in his local. I hope that more union presidents decide to do the same. His legacy consists of protecting the average worker from upper-management (who seem to think they sit on monarchical thrones) firing arbitrarily without good reason. He saved people’s jobs. And at the same time he saved every cent he got paid to so that I got the best education I could get.” [end of comment to my honorable friend, but please read on]
This is what the union does, and this is why unions are still needed. I emulate my mother and father for their selflessness and empathy. Two virtues that go hand-and-hand with progressivism–screw it! I will use that word that conservative think tanks have made dirty: “liberalism”.
The Koch Brothers have a plan to wipe out unions. It is a master plan. This is not a conspiracy theory. The Kochs had their own general counsel argue in favor of Citizens’ United: A poison fatal to our fragile democratic-republic that emanates from the Supreme Court. The poison will strip us of our ability to have a fair campaign process. Corporations can open up war chests and flood money into battleground states. The Koch Brothers have already started doing this. The Koch brothers plan to wipe out unions. They funded Governor Walker’s campaign. His first act was to screw the middle-class by pretty much wiping out unions by taking away their right to collective bargaining (there is also a law in the works that will result in a 7 day work week in Wisconsin). And that is the ultimate consequence of our “Koch problem.” Why begin to wipe out unions?–they are the biggest donators to Democratic candidates–especially progressive candidates.
These parasites are infecting our electoral process and thus our legislative process. Why has Congress refused to work with President Obama? While John Boehner may be the Speaker of the House and the leader of the Republican Party in the House (only in name), he has no control over the 51 congressman that used Tea Party funds to win their seats. In reality, the leader of the Tea Party caucus are the Koch Brothers. As ideologues their far-right agenda is more important to them than the health of our democratic-republic. And there are plenty of examples: the debt ceiling debate (A debate that should not be debated at all); they were willing to sacrifice the full faith and credit of the United States’ obligation to pay back its loans. Ideologues will inflict damage and hurt to others to get what they want. Their allegiance is to their ideology, and their ideological leaders: The Kochs. Let me add this parenthetical thought: can you name other groups who choose their extreme ideological tenets over the value of human life? Millions would have suffered if The United States didn’t pay its bills. It would have destroyed the economy. And you know who would suffer?–people like my mother and father (who selflessly spent their life fighting for others due to their sense of compassion and empathy), my elderly neighbor, working-class people in general. Unions are all the protection that these very hard-working men and women have.
So to my friend who thinks union men and women to be lazy; Go work as a laborer for a week–you’ll be begging to get back to you comfy corporate office. The Middle-Class is the backbone of this country. Whenever the middle-class thrives, this country thrives. It is time, right now, to start fighting back!
Rap has become a genre associated with the degradation of women, the embracing of violence, and the celebration of avarice. “Money, power, respect is all you need in life”: these are the lyrics to a song by the LOX. These lyrics are the glorification of anti-social behavior. This is the message that is being delivered to our impressionable children (susceptible adults as well). However, are not these lyrics only a reflection of mainstream society? We live in a society in which we glorify those who have become wealthy, especially those who have become wealthy through completely immoral behavior. Many idolize characters from their favorite gangster movie, e.g., Scarface, The Godfather, Casino.
A segment of mainstream society also emulates the CEO’s of Wall Street who are corrupt and morally bankrupt. Are not some of these the same CEO’s who issued bad loans knowing that it would lead to a severe economic downturn? Even more egregious, they bet against the US economy knowing it would fail.
My point is that rap culture is greatly influenced by our own morally bankrupted culture. It must be said that there are rap artists out there whose lyrics warn us of our moral devolution, and the dangers of an unbridled, so-called “capitalistic” society.
From Jamaica, Queens there my favorite rap artist, Pharoahe Monche who says:
External gratification is not happiness eternal Interject, intellect, intercept, internet
a slave majority where 5% benefit
PhotoShop amateurs, retouched photography
Pornography, sodomy, child labour economy
His message is spot on. I hope the folks that read this check him out.
Rap has been hijacked by our consumerist, morally bankrupted, pseudo-capitalistic society. But there are rebels in rap just like you and me.