Tag Archives: Cornel West

Haters of free speech will get the repressive nation that they deserve

Image by Tyler Shields, YouTube

Comedienne Kathy Griffin is pictured above during a photo shoot last week in which she held up a prosthetic severed head of “President” Pussygrabber. Never mind the United States’ long history of the butchery of and the savagery against innocents that continues to this day; this act against yet another stupid white man by an uppity woman, in which no one actually was even harmed, was a bridge too far!

Living in a nation with truly free speech means that your precious sensibilities are going to be offended from time to time.

You’re going to have to get over it. (Please don’t make me have to call you a snowflake, and yes, there are snowflakes on the right as well as on the left.)

The first brouhaha this past week was when Kathy Griffin posed with a fairly realistic-looking replica of “President” Pussygrabber’s bloody severed head and posted it to the Internet on Tuesday. She held the fake head up to the camera like Perseus holding up the head of Medusa.

While the image certainly fulfilled a fantasy for millions, including me, I can’t say that it was funny. Just grisly.

And, of course, Griffin, or at least her handler(s) — assuming that she has one or more of them — should have known that depicting the violent death of the sitting “president,” especially if you are a famous or semi-famous person with an audience, would cause backlash.* It also gets you a visit from the men in black of the Secret Service.

I mean, Pussygrabber’s life is worth protecting as much as was that of our last wonderful Repugnican “president,” who also took office without actually having won the most votes and who is a complete and total baby-boomer buffoon (I know: redundant), but still, Griffin should have known.

To me, Griffin’s biggest “crime” is that she is a comedienne but that her Pussygrabber head thing wasn’t funny — just grisly. And, yes, fantasy-fulfilling. But not funny. (That said, I’ve never gravitated to Griffin, whose work I’m mostly unfamiliar with, and maybe that’s just because she overall isn’t very funny.)

But should Griffin be driven out of all paid work (if there still is a demand for her work in the so-called marketplace of ideas) for the head-of-Pussygrabber incident? No.

I’m not a fan of hers, but if we want free speech and if we want content, we’re going to have to cut our providers of content some slack when they fuck up. They’re probably not going to get it right 100 percent of the time. We expect too much of them.

On that note, on Friday night during his live politicocomedic talk show on HBO, Bill Maher remarked that he won’t work the fields of Repugnican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s Nebraska because he is a “house nigger,” and that, of course, has prompted calls for his show’s cancellation, and such a call is only going to backfire on the Only Black Lives Matter** set.

Don’t get me wrong; I have problems with Maher’s show. Pretty much every fucking week he has to get in a dig against those Muslims who are violent and oppressive, as though Islam had the monopoly on violence and oppression.

(I’m a gay man in the so-called land of the free, and I didn’t get the right to marry until only two fucking years ago this month, and that’s mostly because of those loving, wonderful “Christians,” who, instead of more honestly just blowing you up with a suicide vest, kill you with their “Christian” “kindness.”)

Maher’s Islamophobic comments are way beyond old and tired, and his handler or handlers should have reined him in on this long ago. Yes, he has his own show, but using his show to constantly verbalize his own personal pet peeves and prejudices, while it very apparently makes him feel better, degrades the show.

Maher on his show also frequently blasts so-called Democratic “purists,” that is, we progressives. We commoners are supposed to just shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and just accept a certain amount of self-serving, double-dealing, greed and corruption from so-called Democrats, you see.

It’s funny, because “Democratic” impurity doesn’t harm Maher. He’s a millionaire baby boomer (he gave a cool million dollars to Barack Obama for his re-election), and so he has plenty of buffer in money and in power, regardless of who (or what) is in the White House.

Baby-boomer millionaire and limousine liberal Maher isn’t affected by what we commoners are affected by. He has the best health care that money can buy, I’m sure, and if he had kids he’d have no problem putting them though the best universities. I rather doubt that he lives paycheck to paycheck or worries about ever being homeless.

So instead of bashing “purists” who have a lot more skin in the game than he does, Maher should check his rich, white, baby-boomer, limousine-liberal privilege.

Very much related to that, Maher’s throwaway use of the term “house nigger” demonstrated his privilege. It is easy for a rich, white baby boomer, whose life is quite comfortable, to make a casual, unfunny joke about the brutal system of U.S. slavery in which some black slaves had less arduous forced tasks than others.

Again, Maher’s “house nigger” “joke” wasn’t even funny. It was stupid and throwaway. (I watched Maher make the remark on HBO’s streaming service, and “the ‘n’-word” was edited out by muting it; it is the first word that I recall ever having been edited from his show, which is profuse with profanity, which I’m OK with.)

Like Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher is supposed to be a comedian, and one might argue that the only real wrong a comedian or comedienne can commit is to fail to be funny.

That said, Maher has apologized for his “house nigger” comment, and coming from him, I think that his apology most likely is sincere.

Should his show be cancelled because of it? No.

Is Maher a racist? Sure, to those black supremacists and race hustlers who believe that every white person is racist (even though, ironically, the race-hustling black supremacists are incredibly racist themselves), of course Maher is a racist, but I don’t know too many white racists who gave Barack Obama a million dollars and who have dated black women, and I have been watching Maher’s show for some time now, and he regularly has black guests, very probably at a proportion that significantly exceeds blacks’ percentage of the U.S. population (which is 13 percent).

One of Maher’s many frequent black guests is Cornel West, of whom I’m a huge fan.***

Maher gives West and other black Americans a voice that they often don’t get in widely broadcast television shows that are watched by a lot of white Americans, so it’s perversely ironic that any black Americans would call for his show’s cancellation.

(Black Americans’ No. 1 pastime, it seems, is shooting themselves in the fucking foot, such as how they supported Billary Clinton over the much more popular Bernie Sanders by a margin of about three to one [which has reeked of anti-white racism (and perhaps also of anti-Semitism) to me], helping to ensure that the widely despised Repugnican-Lite Billary lost the White House to Donald Fucking Trump in November.)

All of that said, yes, Maher needs to check his privilege, not only his white privilege, but also his class and generational privilege.

But his having uttered “the ‘n’-word” in a lame and tone-deaf apparent attempt to be funny doesn’t in one fell swoop wipe out all of the overall good that Maher’s show still has. (If his show didn’t have more good than bad, I wouldn’t still be watching it regularly.)

Maher needs to be further educated and further enlightened, not utterly destroyed, and the Only Black Lives Matter set apparently still needs to learn that mercilessly calling for the complete, total and utter destruction of offending/“offending” whites (which, ironically, is just part and parcel of their own racial supremacism) — instead of calling for the education and enlightenment of whites (where such education and enlightenment is possible) — only is going to drive more whites away from their cause/“cause” than toward it. (Which, ironically, at least on a subconscious level probably is their intent, given that actual interracial reconciliation very apparently actually is the last thing that they want.)

I, for one, don’t want to live in a United States of America in which all of the Bill Mahers are driven out of the marketplace of ideas, leaving us only the white supremacists (the vast majority of whom vote Repugnican) and the black supremacists (many if not most of whom only use the Democratic Party to further their selfish, racist agenda of black supremacism, and so who aren’t at all actually progressive themselves) to churn out their hateful speech.

If those of us who are sane and progressive don’t protect First-Amendment rights — which includes protecting those whose hearts are mostly in the right place from being the victims of incredibly hypocritical political-correctness lynch mobs when and if they ever cross the political-correctness line — then that is the kind of nation that we’ll live in.

*Yes, awful, racist, inexcusable things routinely were said of Barack Obama and of his family members, but I don’t recall any celebrity, major or minor, ever having posed with a prosthetic severed head of President Obama. Just sayin’.

**Anyone who has read me regularly knows that I support the political push for greater racial equality, including stopping cops from routinely shooting (and otherwise harming and killing) unarmed black men (and other historically oppressed minorities), ending the insane incarceration rate of non-whites, and tackling our insane rate of income inequality, which harms people of all races.

Of course black lives matter, but Black Lives Matter needs to rein in the black supremacists among its ranks, and I refer only to those black supremacists as the “Only Black Lives Matter” set — because that is their mindset, their worldview: they care only about black people, and for anyone of any race to care only about people of his or her own race is some incredibly fucked-up, and racist, shit.

***Cornel West is a true progressive who doesn’t kiss the center-right Democratic Party establishment’s ass. He courageously consistently has been appropriately critical of Barack Obama and of Billary Clinton and, being an actual progressive, he supported Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

And in a wonderful move consistent with acting according to his conscience, although West was on the committee that wrote the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform, he nonetheless ended up endorsing Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein instead of Billary, and I voted for Stein in November just as I voted for her in 2012, as I don’t vote for DINOs, but for actual progressives.

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Cornel West, fresh from Democratic platform committee, endorses Jill Stein

Cornel West, who is supporting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in his presidential run, at a fish fry on Saturday in Charleston, S.C., organized by Representative James E. Clyburn.

New York Times photo

Cornel West, whom Wikipedia describes as “an American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America,” recently finished his stint as one of the 15 members of the 2016 Democratic Party platform-drafting committee (he was one of Bernie Sanders’ only-five picks to the committee) — only to endorse Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. West, shown above campaigning for Bernie in Charleston, South Carolina, in January, correctly calls Stein “the only progressive woman in the race” for the White House.

Here is Cornel West’s piece for The Guardian, in full (the links are the original links, not mine):

A long and deep legacy of white supremacy has always arrested the development of U.S. democracy. We either hit it head on, or it comes back to haunt us. That’s why a few of us have pressed the president for seven years not to ignore issues of poverty, police abuse and mass unemployment. Barack Obama said it very well, following the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, that some communities “have been forgotten by all of us.”

And now – in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and beyond – this legacy has comes back to haunt the whole country.

Obama and his cheerleaders should take responsibility for being so reluctant to engage with these issues. It’s not a question of interest group or constituencies. Unfortunately for so much of the Obama administration it’s been a question of “I’m not the president of black people, I’m the president of everyone.” But this is a question of justice. It’s about being concerned about racism and police brutality.

I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity.

Yet, Obama didn’t go to Baton Rouge. He didn’t go to Minneapolis. He flew over their heads to go to Dallas. You can’t do that. His fundamental concern was to speak to the police; that was his priority. When he references the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s to speak to the police. But the people who are struggling have a different perspective.

The very notion that Dallas is the paragon of policing is something that needs to be interrogated. The Dallas mayor said we have done nothing wrong, but look at your history. Ask people in southern Dallas about the police. Ask Clinton Allen, an unarmed black man fatally shot by the Dallas police in 2013. I was with his mother, Collette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, last year. Countless people came up and told us about all the struggles black communities are having with the Dallas police.

Unfortunately, Obama thrives on being in the middle. He has no backbone to fight for justice. He likes to be above the fray. But for those us us who are in the fray, there is a different sensibility. You have to choose which side you’re on, and he doesn’t want to do that. Fundamentally, he’s not a love warrior. He’s a polished professional. Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Ella Baker – they were warriors.

Obama’s attitude is that of a neo-liberal, and they rarely have solidarity with poor and working people. Whatever solidarity he does offer is just lip service to suffering, but he never makes it a priority to end that suffering.

Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson: better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.

This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between [Donald] Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and [Hillary] Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race – because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation. I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an “outstanding president.” Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.

Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination. There is also a sense that the Clinton policies helped produce the right-wing populism that we’re seeing now in the country. And we think she’s going to come to the rescue? That’s not going to happen.

The American empire is in deep spiritual decline and cultural decay. The levels of wealth inequality and environmental degradation is grotesque. The correct response to this is: tell the truth about what is going on. Bear witness. Be willing to go to jail to fight for justice if need be.

When the system is declining, it can bring despair. That’s why Black Lives Matter – and all other young people of all colors who are mobilizing – is a beautiful thing. We are having a moral and spiritual awakening. It gives us democratic hope. Its not about having hope but being hope. It’s time to move from being spectators, to being actors.

Among his many other points, I share West’s contention that Barack Obama hasn’t done enough for black Americans, irrespective of Obama’s race.

In fact, I’ve long speculated that Obama has done even less for black Americans than would a president of another race even with a similar political ideology — out of Obama’s fear of being accused of doing too much for black Americans because he is a black American himself.

And yes, of course all lives matter and of course Obama is supposed to be every American’s president, but these assertions often if not usually are made to whitewash the fact that black Americans still struggle mightily — by most socioeconomic measures more than any other racial group — in a largely racist, white supremacist nation.

As I’ve noted, I don’t hold it against Bernie that he endorsed Billary. Because he ran as a Democrat, he pretty much had to. But he didn’t have to do so wholeheartedly, and he didn’t do so wholeheartedly. In my view, he did it with a major wink-wink.

And, of course, we Berners are free to vote for whom we wish, and like Brother Cornel (who, again, helped to write the Democratic Party platform, for fuck’s sake), I intend to vote for Jill Stein, who is not only the only progressive woman in the presidential race, but is the only progressive, period, who still is in the race.

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Lemmings all aboard the Billarymobile!

Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa

Reuters photo

Like a one-woman Thelma and Louise, Billary Clinton (pictured above last month in Des Moines, Iowa) is poised to drive all of us off of a cliff in November 2016. Her net favorability rating among all Americans is negative and has no room to grow, whereas Bernie Sanders’ net favorability rating among all Americans is positive and still has plenty of room to grow. Still, the sense among the Democratic lemmings is that Billary has “earned it,” that “it’s her turn” (even though she hasn’t and it isn’t).

Fivethirtyeight.com’s Harry Enten writes today that “barring something unforeseen, [Billary] Clinton’s going to be the [2016] Democratic [presidential] nominee,” an assertion that he backs up with current and historical data and statistics.

I don’t argue against his point that, at least on paper, Billary looks pretty good. Nor do I accuse the thusly-oft-accused Enten of being a Billarybot; his analysis seems sound and impartial enough. And I’ve seen the establishmentarian Democrats front awful candidates and otherwise incredibly stupidly bungle elections in the past.

California state establishmentarian Democrats, for instance, first wholly ignored the fact that the charisma-free Democratic Gov. Gray Davis might get recalled in the bogus, Repugnican-orchestrated 2003 gubernatorial recall election, and so they didn’t support a possible Democratic successor to Davis should he be recalled; as a result, the then-popular Hollywood testosterone-movie star Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger won the circus-like recall election in which dozens of gubernatorial candidates appeared on the ballot.

And the same California state establishmentarian Democrats who had bungled the gubernatorial recall election put the nerdish Democrat Phil Angelides (then the state treasurer) against the incumbent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, with catastrophic results. (Schwarzenegger garnered 56 percent of the vote to Angelides’ paltry 39 percent, even though voter registration in the state at that time stood at 42.5 percent Democratic to 34.3 percent Repugnican. Um, yeah.)

Angelides would have been a competent (maybe even a good or maybe even a great) governor, most likely, but when does the nerd beat the jock in almost any election? Better had the Dems in 2006 run Steve Westly (then the state controller) against Schwarzenegger – the polls had showed, after all, that Westly would do better against Schwarzenegger than would Angelides – but the blind and stubborn state Dems wanted to reward Angelides for his years in the state party, so they gave him their nod for the party’s nomination for governor instead of Westly. The result was another four catastrophic years of Baby Daddy Ahhhnuld Schwarzenegger behind the wheel.

Similarly, yes, of course, I fully can see the establishmentarian Dems ignoring the flashing lights and wailing sirens warning that Billary Clinton is a weak general-election presidential candidate and giving her the 2016 presidential nomination because of her years in the party. (“She has earned it,” right? [Right?])

But 51 percent of Americans view Billary Clinton negatively, while only 46 percent view her positively (for a total of 97 percent having an opinion of her). Given the fact that the popular vote has been very close for several elections now – 51.1 percent for Barack Obama in 2012 and 52.9 percent for him in 2008; 50.7 percent for George W. Bush in 2004 and 47.9 percent for him in 2000; and 49.2 percent for Bill Clinton in 1996 and 43 percent for him in 1992 (yes, he won on pluralities both elections) – it should trouble the Billarybots that a majority of Americans don’t like their candidate, who can’t count on winning a plurality, as her hubby did in 1992 (and again in 1996, although on a stronger plurality the second time).

But it apparently doesn’t trouble the Billarybots, who, like lemmings, seem just fine with the steep cliff that’s ahead. Eighty-three percent of Democrats express a favorable opinion of Billary, which is great when they’re in rooms with other lemmings Democrats, but nationally, Billary is weak. I could see someone like Marco Rubio, a born liar who smoothly says all of the feel-good things, fairly easily picking her off in November 2016. (Right now, Billary doesn’t beat Rubio by even one full percentage point in Real Clear Politics’ average of presidential general-election match-up polls; she beats Jeb! Bush by only one percentage point; and Ben Carson beats Billary by four percentage points.)

True, Bernie Sanders apparently suffers from not being well-known enough. While he’s been toiling in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for his state of Vermont since 1991, Billary has been running for president at least since 2000, when she carpetbaggingly won a U.S. Senate seat for New York. And, of course, she first ran for the White House in 2008, in a long, dragged-out primary fight in which she tacked to the right to try to smear Barack Obama, who emerged as the victor because while Billary acted like the cocky hare, Obama acted like the slow and steady tortoise.

Forty percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders, with 38 percent having an unfavorable opinion of him; 21 percent, however, have no opinion of him.

This means to me that Sanders’ net favorability, which at least stands at +2 percent, has room to grow, given that about one in five Americans has no opinion of him at all. Does Billary’s net favorability, which stands at -5 percent, have room to grow, with 97 percent of Americans already holding an opinion about her? I don’t fucking think so.*

I don’t give Billary Clinton even a full 50-percent chance of winning the White House in November 2015 (I’d put her chance of becoming president in November 2016 somewhere in the high 40s). But the legions of establishmentarian Democrats appear to be bound and determined to front her as their champion for 2016, come hell or high water.

Oh, well.

After Billary loses in November 2016, at least she’ll never be a presidential candidate again.

Probably.

All of this said: I at least tentatively plan to live-blog tomorrow’s second of the too-few Democratic presidential primary debates, this one scheduled on a Saturday by Billarybot Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, very apparently in order to avoid any possible damage to Billary. Let’s hope for that damage anyway. We knock Billary out now, at the primary-election phase, or the Repugnicans knock her out in November 2016.

Bernie Sanders goes into tomorrow’s debate in decent shape; yesterday the American Postal Workers’ Union endorsed him, adding to the endorsement he received from the nation’s largest nurses’ union in August. Also yesterday, Nina Turner, a prominent Ohio politico, switched her endorsement from Billary Clinton to Bernie Sanders, stating, “I’m very attracted by his message and his style — and that he has held pretty much strong on his beliefs and the world is catching up with him.” Yup.

Salon.com remarks of Turner that she “is the third prominent African-American to support Sanders. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) endorsed him this fall, and Cornel West has praised Sanders as ‘a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years.’”

Turner, by having gone first, also is an example to others who already have endorsed Billary that they can switch to Bernie, too.

Hopefully, Martin O’Malley will drop out after tomorrow’s Dem debate. He’s garnering not even 3 percent in the national polling average and thus is only wasting our time. The only thing that I can figure is that he’s angling for a veep spot, but there are plenty of better candidates for the No. 2 spot, whether No. 1 turns out to be Bernie Sanders or Billary Clinton.

(Yes, O’Malley’s recent swipe at Bernie Sanders that he [O’Malley] always has called himself a Democrat very much rubbed me the wrong way. All kinds of right-wing assholes have called themselves “Democrats.” I’m much more interested in supporting candidates who actually are progressive and who actually are significantly left of center; party labels aren’t primary to me.

The “Democratic” label long has been fairly meaningless anyway, given that the party has become Repugnican Lite. That and I have a history of being registered alternately with the Democratic Party and the Green Party and of casting my votes for Green Party and Democratic Party candidates, and so I found O’Malley’s smear-brag to be personally offensive.

Again, he needs to just go away.)

*Also, it’s important to note that, per ABC News, “Clinton’s challenges outside the Democratic Party include an 85 percent negative rating among Republicans (compared with Sanders’ 56 percent) and 57 percent unfavorable among independents (vs. Sanders’ 38 percent).”

I wouldn’t expect many Repugnicans to cast votes for Sanders or for Billary, so that doesn’t concern me (much), but no presidential candidate can win today without enough support from the independent voters, so Billary’s significant unpopularity with the independent voters should concern the Democratic lemmings. Should, but very apparently doesn’t.

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Is Ferguson a symptom of black American panic?

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Why the rise of Cain

Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain campaigns in Talladega, Ala., Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Associated Press photo

Herman Cain rants and raves in Talladega, Alabama, yesterday. Recent polls have him at the top of the Repugnican Tea Party field, and indeed, as the photo below of him campaigning in Alabama yesterday apparently demonstrates, many of the overwhelmingly white “tea party” dipshits find him to be acceptable, since he’s not an “angry” black man who poses a threat to white rule.

Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain campaigns in Talladega, Ala., Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Associated Press photo

Maybe the “tea partiers” aren’t racist after all, since Herman Cain is leading even perennial Repugnican frontrunner Mitt Romney* in some recent polls, some are positing.

No, that’s not it.

Repugnican Tea Party presidential contender Herman Cain is more or less acceptable to many (if not most) of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors because he sides with the white conservative argument that if blacks and others are struggling — and they are — then it’s their own damn fault. Cain promotes Ayn-Randian social Darwinism — which contradicts everything that the (little-s”) socialist Jesus Christ taught, but these right-wing fascists call themselves “Christians” nonetheless — which is why so many conservatives find Cain to be acceptable. If he were preaching actual social justice, like Cornel West does, it would be an entirely other story.

And to many if not most of the plutocrats and their supporters, wealth trumps race, in this day and age. Sure, white conservatives prefer that if you are rich you also be white, but so long as you are rich — and support the capitalistic oppression of the non-rich — to some degree it can be overlooked if you aren’t white. So Cain has that going for him.

Another huge factor of Cain’s current success is that for some time the Repugnican Tea Party cynically has tried to match Barack Obama with brown-skinned Repugnicans (of which there aren’t many), such as former Repugnican National Committee chair Michael Steele (who was selected to head the party shortly after Obama took office in January 2009) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “See! We’re not racist!” is the entire point of that cynical exercise.

This campaign button that was for sale at Cain’s appearance in Alabama yesterday — which, admittedly, may not have been produced by the Cain campaign but may have been produced by some opportunistic independent profiteer —

Campaign buttons for Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain are seen on sale as he campaigned in Talladega, Ala., Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Associated Press photo

— fairly blatantly compares Cain to Obama, apparently primarily because they’re both black men. That seems to me to be a rather perverse form of racism in itself.

It also presumes that most voters are incredibly stupid. (To be sure, a great many of them are, but probably most of them are not.) We were to believe that the selection of (anti-choice) Sarah Palin as John McCainosaurus’ running mate signified that the Repugnican Party is feminist, too — as opposed to the clearly anti-feminist Democratic Party, which chose Barack Obama over Billary Clinton.

Women voters didn’t buy that bullshit, and I wouldn’t expect voters to buy it that Herman Cain is good for the majority of blacks (or for the rest of us who aren’t rich) any more than Sarah Palin is good for women.

There’s also the dumbfuck factor. Just as wingnuts loved the English-challenged George W. Bush so much because he gave them hope that fucktards like they also could be president or otherwise make it big one day, Cain, with his oversimplistic bullshit, such as his “9-9-9” plan (which reminds me of an enraged Adolf Hitler screaming, “Nein! Nein! Nein!” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” and which, I understand, first was introduced to us in a video game called “SimCity”), appeals to the dumbfucks, who also believe that things are much simpler than they actually are, and that highly complex problems can be solved with simple solutions or even just simple slogans. (Simple minds think simple thoughts.)

Finally, Cain also has going for him the factor that actually also worked in Barack Obama’s favor, and that is that Obama did not have a long history in national politics before he ran for the White House. Obama was a relative unknown, having been elected to the U.S. Senate only in 2004, for fuck’s sake, before he became president in 2008, not even having finished out his six-year Senate term.

Cain has held no elected office at all, which, I suppose, makes him an even bigger unknown that Obama was — and thus, on that measure, an even “stronger” presidential candidate than Obama was, if being unknown is a strength. (Only in the crumbling American empire could it be.) Of course, the wingnuts’ blind faith that an unknown like Cain possesses even the bare minimum competence to be president of the United States (I mean, I don’t think that he could get all of his presidential policies from video games) is about as smart (in retrospect) as was our progressives’ blind faith that Obama the unknown actually would fulfill his ubiquitous campaign promises of “hope” and “change.”

I still expect Mitt Romney to secure the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nomination. Cain’s surge now is attributable not only to the factors above but also to how much Southerners don’t like Mitt from Massachusetts and to how, as another blogger put it, when he has to speak in a debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who apparently was supposed to have been the South’s Great White Hope, turns into Porky Pig. (The inability to speak coherently seemed to work in Gee Dubya’s favor, but not in Perry’s. Go figure.**)

But, just as the Repugnicans cynically paired McCainosaurus up with a woman to show how “inclusive” the Repugnican Party is, I could see a Romney-Cain ticket for 2012.

In fact, I’d almost bet money on it.

P.S. I visited Cain’s official website’s store, and I don’t see the button that is pictured above. Again, I suspect that the button was produced by an opportunistic independent profiteer, as were these buttons, very apparently, which are available via cafepress.com, which apparently has no standards of decency whatsofuckingever:

Beat Obama 2.25" Button
Crackers for Cain 2.25" Button
Nice.

*A recent Faux “News” poll put Cain at four percentage points ahead of Romney, as did a recent CBS News/New York Times poll.

**Also, the Repugnican Tea Party acts as though the eight, long, nightmarish years of the unelected reign of the BushCheneyCorp never even fucking happened. I remember well that the McCainosaurus-Palin ticket never talked about George W. Bush’s “accomplishments,” but only talked about Ronald Reagan, and the current crop of Repugnican Tea Party presidential contenders also are reaching waaaaay back to the Reagan years and acting as though George W. Bush had never been president.

I surmise that this Gee Dubya stigma is hurting Perry, who, the Repugnican Tea Partiers fear, correctly, is way too reminiscent of the last governor of Texas who went to the White House.

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Stop lynching Cornel West and hold Barack Obama accountable for once

 Harsh words: Professor Cornell West, seen here with then-senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail in New York, has turned on the president

So many black progressives have been thrown under Barack Obama’s bus (Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, et. al.)  that the bus no longer can move an inch. Let’s not add the corpse of Cornel West (pictured above with Barack Obama when Obama was campaigning for the White House) to the under-bus body count.

Left-wing activist and scholar Cornel West is under fire for, among other strong statements, recently having called President Barack Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” adding, “And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

I have no real problem with those words because I have no problem with the truth. The truth is the truth, even if only one person in a thousand (or ten thousand or a hundred thousand or a million or…) is willing to utter it in a sea of lemmings. (Or, as Ted Rall aptly calls Obama’s allegedly left-of-center followers, “Obamabots.”)

The only exception that I can take to calling Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” is that I don’t know that it’s necessary to emphasize “black.” A mascot of Wall Street oligarchs or a puppet of corporate plutocrats is a problem, regardless of the mascot’s or puppet’s race, sex, sexual orientation, religious orientation, age, etc.

Maybe West emphasized “black” because at least on some level he expects a fellow black man to be progressive, like he is. But, as West himself has acknowledged, Obama “[grew] up in a white context,” so “all he has known culturally is white.”

Because Obama is not the descendent of African slaves and because he was raised by his white mother’s family, it is unfair for descendents of African slaves, like West, to expect Obama to be a carbon copy of themselves*, and, it seems to me, because he is half white and half black, it always has been Obama’s own prerogative to embrace one half more than the other, even if he had a choice in the matter, but, given his upbringing, I don’t see that he had much of a choice. (Children don’t get to pick who raises them.)

My problem with Obama is that he has betrayed his progressive base. He made campaign promises — promises that I took seriously, not cynically, as in the assertion that all politicians make and then break their promises, and so you’re stupid if you believe otherwise — and then he systematically proceeded to break his promises, denouncing his left-wing critics as hopelessly delusional about political reality as he did so (and his “bots” dutifully, blindly follow his lead in that).

Obama promised “hope” and “change,” and because of his promises I gave him hundreds of dollars and my vote. But instead of “hope” and “change,” we still have an economy in shambles, we still hand over billions of dollars to corporate welfare recipients, and we still give the war profiteers billions of our tax dollars via the bogus warfare in the Middle East and elsewhere while the American empire rots from within here at home.

Oh, but we got Osama bin Laden! But that and a quarter won’t even buy us a Coke and a smile.

I don’t claim to agree with West on everything, because I don’t know everything that he has proclaimed, but I like him. I saw him speak here in Sacramento (where he was raised) some years ago, and I was moved by his talk about the black American experience to the point that I got tears in my eyes. (Unfortunately, I was one of the only white people in the audience, and maybe even the only one, and brother West was, for the most part, preaching to the choir; those who really should have been there, who really needed to be there, were not there. [But doesn’t it almost always seem to go that way?])

Yes, I consider Cornel West to be a brother, but I am concerned that perhaps he and I define the term “brother” differently. I consider someone who shares my progressive values and worldview to be my brother or sister, regardless of his or her race, age, sexual orientation or even religious orientation. As a fellow democratic socialist, I consider West to be my brother. But, because I am white, would West call me “brother”? I would like to think so, but I’m not certain.**

I can’t know what it’s like to be a descendent of black slaves, and I would never, like Bill Clinton or at least John Kerry did, insinuate that I, who although I’ve always been middle class was born into some degree of white privilege, truly feel black Americans’ pain. I have not walked in their shoes, so I cannot, and so I do not, make that claim. (Bill Clinton was called by many as “the first black president,” and Kerry once stupidly stated that he wanted to be “the next black president.” I find such faux familiarity to be disrespectful as well as false.)

Even if he would not call me “brother,” I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of throwing Cornel West under the bus like Barack Obama threw his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, under the bus, and then Van Jones and then Shirley Sherrod. I think that such rhetoric as that of Salon.com editor Joan Walsh (who was a staunch Billary Clinton ’08 supporter before she became an Obamabot) that West has had a “tragic meltdown,” not only is overblown but is deleterious to progressivism.

Walsh writes of “the unrealistic left” (which is, I surmise, akin to the Obama administration’s “professional left”) and proclaims:

I’m on record saying that despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I support Obama’s re-election: He’s as progressive a leader as we’re able to elect right now, and if you have issues with him – as I do – it’s time to work to elect strong Democrats at the state and local level. I’m pro-Obama – and also pro-reasonable organizing efforts to push him left.

“[Un]reasonable.” “[Un]realistic.” These are interesting terms. Fucking fact is, Obama had the nation’s good will and both houses of Congress controlled by his party for two fucking years, and he squandered that rare opportunity to push through a progressive agenda.

For that alone he does not deserve re-election, but sellouts — Obamabots — like Walsh, who actually make such statements as “despite my disappointments on the economic and civil liberties front, I [still] support Obama’s re-election” since Obama is the lesser of the politically viable evils, are destroying what’s left of the left.

How can we actual leftists have “unrealistic” expectations when so-called “Democratic” sellouts like Obama don’t even try? How can you know what’s possible and what’s impossible to achieve, what is realistic and what is unrealistic, when you surrender from the very fucking beginning? The establishment Democrats almost always surrender before the game even begins. Meanwhile, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors roll out such radical ideas as decimating Medicare. Yes, they are stupid, but they’re bold.

As the Repugnican Tea Party traitors succeed in pushing the nation’s politics further and further to the right, Obamabots like Joan Walsh help the wingnuts by contributing to the rightward drift of the Democratic Party, which began under Bill Clinton, by excusing anything and everything that establishment/Clintonesque Democrats do or don’t do, simply because they use the “Democratic” label — and because these Democrats in name only are, the Obamabots assert, the best that we can do. (And besides, what do you want? A Repugnican president?)

That Barack Obama isn’t as bad as are the Repugnican Tea Party traitors who want to be president just doesn’t fucking cut it for me. He’d have to do much better than that for me to give him another penny or my vote again.

Obama’s new campaign in which you can buy a T-shirt or a mug displaying his birth certificate and the words “MADE in the USA” under his portrait —

— is clever, but the nation needs an awful lot more than more clever Obama campaigns right now, and on the heels of having been punk’d by the “hope” and “change” campaign, I, for one, am just not in the mood to fall for yet another clever Obama campaign. (Although if I were working on the Obama campaign, my snappy slogan might be something like: “Barack Obama 2012: Really This Time!”)

I suppose that I have to give props to Team Obama for finding a way to turn the pathetic and racist birth certificate bullshit into a fundraising campaign, but I cannot, in good conscience, give Team Obama even a penny, as clever as the new campaign is.

At some point this sellout shit has to stop. I, for one, don’t want to be responsible, even minutely, for its perpetuation — even by buying one of the clever T-shirts or mugs.

But back to brother West.

Let’s not make him into a scapegoat for the serious failings of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America. Instead, let’s continue to talk about identity politics versus political ideology and what roles they have and what roles they should have in rescuing the American experiment from the edge of the abyss.

As a gay man, for instance, while it would be great to have a gay or lesbian president, I’d much rather have a heterosexual president who actually is progressive than a gay or lesbian president who, like Obama, is too cowardly or too personally comfortable (or both) to pursue a progressive agenda.

Similarly, I’m not impressed by the mere fact that Obama is the first actual (half-)black president. There are plenty of wingnutty black men, such as (not in any certain order) U.S. Supreme Court “Justice” Clarence Thomas, recently booted Repugnican National Committee chair Michael Steele, former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (who delivered the pivotal state of Ohio to George W. Bush in 2004 much as how Katherine Harris had delivered the pivotal state of Florida to Bush in 2000), and presidential aspirants Herman Cain and Alan Keyes, and I’d never want any of them anywhere near the White House, not because of the color of their skin, but because of the content of their character. (On that note, I once saw Al Sharpton speak here in Sacramento [in early 2005, I believe it was], and I still remember his quip that “Condoleezza Rice [yet another black wingnut, as well as a war criminal] is of my color but is not of my kind.”)

The problem with Barack Obama isn’t that he isn’t “black enough.” The problem is that he isn’t progressive enough — and that he had promised to be progressive, but broke that promise.

That is the discussion that we need to be having instead of kicking around brother Cornel West.

P.S. I highly recommend the article on Cornel West by Chris Hedges that stirred the West brouhaha. It is here. In the article, Hedges quotes West as having said other things that are making people butt-hurt, such as that Obama “feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” which to me more or less seems to be true, whether it’s considered politically correct or not, but Hedges also quotes West as having said other things that aren’t being repeated as much as are his “controversial” statements, such as

“This [Obama’s presidency] was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment.

“We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful.

“It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.”

and

“Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated and taught the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and what greed was really taking place?

“If he had told us what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place, if he had focused on homeowners rather than investment banks for bailouts and engaged in massive job creation, he could have nipped in the bud the right-wing populism of the tea party folk.

“The tea party folk are right when they say the government is corrupt. It is corrupt. Big business and banks have taken over government and corrupted it in deep ways.

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful. It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire.

“I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties….”

Yup. This perhaps was our last chance to turn it around, and Obama thus far has only blown it. Ironically, West could have been talking about himself when he noted that the people “are turning on each other,” “scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful,” because right now they’re scapegoating West instead of confronting Obama, who apparently likes the presidency only for its perks. He certainly has no stomach for the hard work that a truly progressive president has before him or her.

Anyway, I also recommend Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class, which is about “liberal” sellouts like Joan Walsh who in their cowardice, laziness, selfishness and hypocrisy aid and abet the right wing in the right wing’s destruction of the nation and the planet.

*West also remarked that “Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, [with] white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.”

“Deracination”? Is an identification with a history of slavery required to be considered to be black? Is Obama really required to identify with the descendents of black slaves when he is not such a descendent and was not raised by the descendents of slaves? Is this not demanding too much of Obama?

**West has referred to economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman as “brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman,” and so I tend to believe that his definition of “brother” is about ideology, not race, but he also has referred to Obama as “brother,” yet rather clearly disagrees with Obama’s politics, so I am uncertain as to his own personal definition of the term.

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Teen Walmart PA hijacker needs to learn empathy for victims of racism

Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy in the incident in which someone got on the public-address system in a southern New Jersey Walmart and ordered all black persons to leave the store, The Associated Press reports today.

Reports the AP:

Police said the boy, whose name is not being released because he is a juvenile, went on the intercom at Walmart’s Washington Township store Sunday evening and calmly announced: “Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now.”

The teen was arrested Friday on charges of harassment and bias intimidation. Authorities said he was released to the custody of his parents; they did not know whether he had a lawyer….

[Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton] would not say whether the boy has a criminal record, citing the teen’s age, and would not disclose the teen’s race, saying that did not factor into the investigation….

Um, the accused perpetrator’s race is not a factor into an investigation of a race-based hate crime? WTF? Only a white person who doesn’t get the concept of racism could assert something as ludicrous as that. (I Googled Sean Dalton, and indeed, unsurprisingly, he’s a gray-haired white guy.)

I’m more than 90 percent sure that the teen who hijacked the Walmart PA system in order to order all black individuals out of the store isn’t black.

What I hope the teen gets is some sensitivity training. Not some touchy-feely program put together by guilty white liberals like Dalton seems to be, but the teen needs to spend some time with some ordinary black Americans so that he can hear, from them, what it feels like to be  at the receiving end of racism.

In December 2005 I attended an appearance by black scholar Cornel West at California State University Sacramento. His topic was race in the United States of America. In an audience of hundreds, I was only of a handful of non-blacks (including my Latina friend who accompanied me).

Isn’t that how it always goes? The students who don’t need extra credit are the ones who go for it, the people who already are physically fit are about the only ones in the gym, and the ones who really need to hear about how racism has affected and still affects black Americans don’t go to Cornel West’s talk on racism?

West’s poignant descriptions of racism against black Americans — and no, he wasn’t being a firebrand, but was just relating things to us in the audience — made me teary-eyed several times.

And no, it wasn’t white liberal guilt. It was empathy. No, as a white man, I cannot know what it’s like to be black in the United States of America, and I never would claim that I could. But as a gay man, I know what it is like to be discriminated against, to be considered a second- or third-class citizen. I know something about being shit and pissed upon by the tyrants of the majority.

What the teen who hijacked the Walmart PA system does not need is a harsh punishment handed down upon him by whites who probably have plenty of racism within themselves but are just too politically correct and socially aware to ever express it (or who express is unwittingly).

Such harsh punishment probably will only make the teen resent black people, whom he’d probably blame for his punishment.

The teen doesn’t need to be made to feel badly about himself — he needs to learn, from compassionate black people, about compassion.

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