Friday, August 19, 2011

Black Leaders Must Pressure the President to Address Unemployment and Poverty!

As reported on the Grio,
Sparks flew Tuesday during the Congressional Black Caucus "For the People Jobs Tour" town hall in Detroit, MI, as black caucus members told the mostly black audience to "unleash" them to confront President Barack Obama on the issue of jobs.

California Rep. Maxine Waters expressed her and other Black Caucus members' dilemma of having to walk a line. As representatives from communities that have had great love for President Barack Obama, it can be anywhere from difficult to impossible for Waters and the other members to be as critical of the president as she wanted to be.

"We don't put pressure on the president," said Waters. "Let me tell you why. We don't put pressure on the president because ya'll love the president. You love the president. You're very have a black man [in the White House] ...First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you're going after us."

"When you tell us it's alright and you unleash us and you tell us you're ready for us to have this conversation, we're ready to have the conversation. The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president too. We're supportive of the president but we're getting tired ya'll...we're getting tired. And so, what we want to do is...we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he's prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity...but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is. We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any black community...we don't know that."
Unemployment and poverty are major problems in the African American community. Here are a few sobering statistics cited on The Poverty Tour website:
"Between 2008 and 2009, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent), for Blacks (from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent), and for Hispanics (from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent). For Asians, the 2009 poverty rate (12.5 percent) was not statistically different from the 2008 poverty rate.

In 2009, 43.6 million people were poor, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. The nation’s official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008 — the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004. (Census Bureau 2010a p.13)

The poverty rate in 2009 was the highest since 1994, but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available.(Census Bureau 2010a p.13)."
According to CBS News,
"While unemployment among the general population is about 9.1 percent, it's at 16.2 percent African Americans, and a bit higher still for African American males.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports that, historically, the unemployment rate for African Americans has always been higher than the national average. However, now it's at Depression-era levels. The most recent figures show African American joblessness at 16.2 percent. For black males, it's at 17.5 percent; And for black teens, it's nearly 41 percent."
It is a disgrace that many activists and elected leaders are afraid to pressure the President to address this crisis. Our people's cult like devotion to the President is even more disturbing.

I understand why our leaders are so hesitant to criticize the President. Look at what happened to respected scholar Dr. Cornel West and radio host Tavis Smiley. For attempting to hold the Obama Administration accountable, they have been vilified by black bloggers, activists and other segments of the African American community. Despite decades of proven commitment to the advancement and empowerment of black people, those brothers have been called poverty pimps and uncle toms.

They have become victims of group think. Frankly, I cannot understand how any rational person could actually believe that Dr. West and Mr. Smiley would conduct a nationwide poverty tour simply to settle a personal vendetta against the President. Dr. West is not raising this issue simply because he didn't get inauguration tickets. Mr. Smiley is not raising this issue simply because President Obama did not come to the State of Black America forum in 2008. Awake up people!

The election of Barack Obama was a major milestone in America history. It was a sign of major progress in race relations. It represented hope and change. A black man and his beautiful black family in the White House is powerful symbolism. The African American community is completely enamored by that symbolism. Unfortunately, that symbolism has become more important than substance. Protecting the symbol has become more important than protecting the interests of black people. The people are mesmerized by President Obama's larger than life cult of personality.

Anyone who legitimately criticizes the President's policies is blindly attacked and reduced to persona non grata. Ironically, while we push for racial commitment to the President, he fails to directly address the problem of disproportionate unemployment and poverty in the black community.

Sadly, too many of our politicians have exchanged their principles for access to the White House. Like a bunch of mindless groupies, our so-called leaders are content with just being in the presence of the President. Instead pressuring the President to address the issues facing poor and working class people, they just clamor for the opportunity to be seen with the President.

Real leaders don't ask the people to unleash them. Real leaders lead, inspire and motivate the masses. Real leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. sacrificed their precious lives for our freedom. Surely, our politicians, if they are sincere, should be willing to face criticism from the Obamaholics. Our politicians should be willing to sacrifice their political careers for the love of the people. Our issues are too vital for them to do otherwise. Congressional Black Caucus, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, keep up the pressure and turn up the heat! If you don't, nobody will.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics. Follow me on Twitter @AnsonAsaka.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Let's Go F*** with Some Niggers!"

As reported on CNN,
"On a recent Sunday morning just before dawn, two carloads of white teenagers drove to Jackson, Mississippi, on what the county district attorney says was a mission of hate: to find and hurt a black person.

In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim.

James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including "White Power!" according to witnesses.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says a group of the teens then climbed into their large Ford F250 green pickup truck, floored the gas, and drove the truck right over Anderson, killing him instantly...

As the teens were partying and drinking miles away from Jackson that night, in largely white Rankin County, Dedmon told friends they should leave, saying "let's go fuck with some niggers," according to law enforcement officials.

Then, the gang of teens climbed into Dedmon's green truck and a white SUV Cherokee, and drove 16 miles down Interstate 20, to the western edge of Jackson, a predominantly black area.

The teens would have seen Anderson immediately as they exited the highway, as the parking lot where he was standing is just beside the exit ramp."
This tragedy is a wake up call. Mr. Anderson is a modern day Emmett Till. Racism is alive and well. I guess that talk about a post-racial society is just a bit premature.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It is Time to Leave Afghanistan!

The Washington Post reports that:
"U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered the deadliest day of the decade-long war Saturday when insurgents shot down an American helicopter, killing 30 U.S. servicemen and eight Afghans in the latest of a series of setbacks for coalition forces whose numbers are set to decline over the coming months.

As U.S. troops have pushed the Taliban from havens in the south, the insurgents have retaliated in recent weeks with high-profile attacks and assassinations of Afghan officials. The incidents have challenged U.S. assertions that the military is making steady progress in preparation for turning control of the country over to its Afghan partners. Insurgents have also stepped up attacks in the mountainous east, the site of Saturday’s incident.

The dead in Saturday’s attack included 22 Navy SEALs, most of them members of SEAL Team 6, the counterterrorism unit that carried out the mission to find Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said. They added that none of the commandos who died Saturday were involved in the cross-border mission that killed the al-Qaeda leader."
I have written several articles opposing the war in Afghanistan. This latest tragedy is a shocking reminder that U.S. has failed to accomplish many of its key objectives after 10 years of war. It is time to bring the troops home.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Fight is Not Over!

“The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

As reported in the Washington Post,
“President Obama signed the compromise deal to raise the debt ceiling and take the first steps toward deficit reduction after the Senate passed the measure Tuesday morning. As Paul Kane, Lori Montgomery and William Branigin reported:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a plan to raise the federal debt limit and cut government spending, ending a bitter partisan stalemate that had threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.

One day after a climactic vote in the House, the Senate easily approved the measure, 74 to 26, with significant majorities of both parties supporting it. President Obama promptly signed the bill and submitted a formal request to Congress to lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, instantly giving Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing power.

With the immediate crisis averted, Obama and congressional leaders quickly turned their attention to the next front in the war over the federal budget: a new legislative committee that will have the job of developing a broader plan to control the government’s debt.

The bipartisan panel, to be named this month, is likely to confront the same ideological divide that caused an almost crippling impasse in the debt-limit debate. Republican leaders are warning that they will not include anyone on the panel who is willing to raise taxes, prompting Democrats to threaten a hard line against cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.”
CBS News summarized the compromise as follows:
“The compromise allows debt ceiling increase by as much as $2.4 trillion dollars in total. Included is an immediate increase of $400 billion dollars. President Obama would be permitted to request another $500 billion increase in the coming months, which Congress could vote to disallow by a veto proof two-thirds margin. A further increase of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion would be available after a special committee identifies matching levels of additional spending cuts.

The agreement calls for cuts of more than $900 billion over ten years in spending from programs, agencies and day-to-day spending. It would include security-related and non-security-related cuts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, "discretionary" spending would be decreased by $21 billion in 2012 and $42 billion in 2013.

The agreement creates a 12-person House and Senate special committee to identify further spending cuts. The committee must complete its work by Thanksgiving - November 23 - and Congress must hold an up or down vote on the committee recommendations by December 23. The committee could overhaul the tax code or find savings in benefit programs like Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security. Congress could not modify the committee's recommendation.

Should the special committee deadlock or should Congress reject the committee's recommendations, then automatic across the board spending cuts of at least $1.2 trillion would go into effect.

The agreement requires that the House of Representatives and the Senate vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, although its passage is not guaranteed.

The deal also includes changes to Pell Grants and student loan programs. Pell Grants will receive a $17 billion increase for low-income college students, which will be financed by the elimination of subsidized student loans for most graduate students.

The compromise does not include any immediate revenue additions or tax increases.”
When I first read about this big compromise, I was ready to criticize the President for surrendering to the demands of the hostage takers also known as Republicans. Clearly, the President and the Democrats have poor negotiating skills. Instead, I will focus on the primary source of the problem, the Republicans.

The Republicans are slaves of the rich power elite. In order to protect the record profits of Wall Street, the Republicans were prepared to commit treason by forcing this nation to default on its debt obligations. The Republican Party is simply “a committee for managing the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” They are devoted to preserving tax breaks and tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans by any means necessary.

Yet, they do not give a damn about the rest of us. The Republicans are ready to cut life lines to the poor, working class and middle class. The GOP is eager to place vital social programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block. If the Republicans have their way, the poor and elderly will be deprived of health care and forced to fend for themselves in this bad economy.

How many poor and elderly people will forced to choose between buying groceries and buying medicine? In one of the world's wealthiest nations, no one should be forced to make such an outrageous decision. How many students will not be able to pursue higher education as result of these Republican budget cuts?

Instead merely complaining about this ridiculous compromise, we must prepare for the next phase of the struggle. We must strongly lobby the White House and Congress to ensure that the special committee includes members who will fight for average Americans. We need people on that committee who will vigorously defend Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other crucial social programs. We must make sure that the President fulfills his campaign theme of hope and change. The fight is NOT over! Stand up people!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.