Posts tagged: Barack Obama

The Real Story Behind “Obama’s Other Race Speech”

By , October 3, 2012 3:54 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space, but I haven’t stopped writing. I’ve been posting on my other blog about fatherhood, manhood and being a stay-at-home dad. But after watching last night’s big political bombshell that turned out to be a dud, I was compelled to write here.

Last night Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Daily Caller‘s Tucker Carlson were apoplectic about a 2007 video in which then-Sen. Barack Obama identified himself as black to a black audience with an “cadences,” an “accent” and “gestures” some blacks use.

Yes, world. Barack Obama is black. This is clearly shocking to some of you, but it shouldn’t be. He’s been open out his blackness for many years. He even wrote a bestselling book about it. The speech and all its blackness shouldn’t be a surprise either. “Obama’s Other Race Speech” – as Hannity and Carlson call it – was covered by numerous mainstream media outlets.

This tape “revelation” is a non-story, but the response by Hannity, the Daily Caller and others who are trying to make something out of nothing is a story.

First, the timing of all this is highly suspect.. and transparent: A five-year-old speech that had been reported and shown is then re-released 24 hours before the first presidential debate? It seems worried Romney supporters are trying to distract voters away from the Republican’s floundering campaign.

And look at what they’re using: Race. In a world without nuance – yes, a black and white world – anytime a progressive brings up race, it’s racism. In that world, calling out racism, is racism. (In the real world, though, talking about race isn’t necessarily racism. Using race as a way to oppress one group while giving another privileges is racism.) A black president who identifies with a black audience is a racist. Why? Because, in that world encased in a conservative bubble that’s immune to facts and reason, it stokes the fear that Obama will take stuff away from working-class white people and give it to poor lazy black people in the form of welfare. It’s the same world where Obama is a secret muslim who wasn’t born in the United States. It’s a world that seeks to delegitimize his presidency by saying he’s not an American.

So, given the GOP’s history of using racism in campaigns, to this year’s race-baiting by Newt Gingrich and even Romney himself, it shouldn’t be news that a tape like this “surfaced.”

In August, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said about the GOP: “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Making something out of nothing from this tape is an attempt to get a few more angry white guys to vote for Romeny.

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Why Revisit The Jeremiah Wright Controversy? Look At The Census Numbers

By , May 18, 2012 11:44 pm

The big political news on Thursday was that Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his controversial sermons that dogged Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign were going to make a comeback.

In case you missed it, the New York Times reported a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund – a separate entity from Mitt Romney’s campaign and working independently from them – was thinking about making Wright’s statements a campaign issue after this year’s Democratic National Convention. This didn’t come from a group of people brainstorming or having an extended spit-balling session. They were going to use racial divisiveness and fear to win votes.

From the New York Times:

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

After the plan was made public on Thursday, Mitt Romney repudiated it and a spokesperson for Ricketts said the billionaire rejects “that approach to politics.” So, it doesn’t look like that proposal will be executed. But why would a group of people write up a 54-page proposal and consider spending $10 million to stir up fear of black people? Why would they re-hash Rev. Wright’s sermons and try again to tie them to President Obama, who the Ricketts plan said deceived America into thinking he was a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln?”
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Why Racism Matters

By , March 21, 2012 2:04 pm

Did you hear about the racist anti-Obama bumper sticker that said “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012“? That’s not the only one. Paula Smith of Hinesville, Georgia is selling her own version of the bumper sticker: “Don’t Re-Nig 2012.” Smith says it’s not racist.

“According to the dictionary [the N word] does not mean black. It means a low down, lazy, sorry, low down person. That’s what the N word means.” She adds, “And besides Obama is not even black. He’s got a mixture of race. It’s his choice of what his nationality is.”

Why should we pay attention to this ignorance? Joanna Schroeder in the Good Men Project tells us.

And lest we forget why any of this matters, why it matters that there are still people in our country who are racists, let’s remember Trayvon Martin and his heartbroken family, whose unarmed teenage son was gunned down in Florida; and the man who pursued him-George Zimmerman-chased him down against police advice, threatened him, terrified him and finally murdered him in cold blood at close range, is still walking the streets, never having been arrested.

Racism is alive and well. And we all have a duty to put an end to it.

Read her entire piece in the Good Men Project.

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Rick Santorum’s Outrage And Snobbery

By , January 10, 2012 4:01 pm

After being the GOP’s latest (and for him, best-timed) flavor of the month, Iowa Caucus co-winner Rick Santorum told a group of New Hampshire voters that it’s “snobbery” for President Obama to think he knows “how to run our lives” and say that everyone should go to college. Speaking at St. Anselm College (the irony!), Santorum said he was “outraged” at “the hubris of this president to think that he knows what’s best for you.”

I agree with Santorum that college isn’t for everyone and someone certainly doesn’t need to finish college to be personally successful or influential in high-tech fields. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are the best examples of that. Not everyone is going to be a Zuckerberg or a Gates, though.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Obama wasn’t suggesting a federal mandate stating every person is required to go to college. I’m sure he meant that everyone should have the opportunity - the freedom! – to go college, if they choose.

So, while college isn’t for everyone, Obama is correct in suggesting that it’s a good thing and makes life better. Here are three reasons why:

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Five Reasons Mark Halperin Was Wrong To Say Obama Was “Kind Of A Dick”

By , July 1, 2011 1:56 am

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday, Time magazine’s senior political analyst and editor-at-large Mark Halperin said President Obama was “kind of a dick” in how he “behaved” at his press conference on Wednesday.

Here’s the clip:

A few minutes later, he made an on-air apology. “Joking aside, this not a pro forma apology, it’s an absolute apology – heartfelt to the president and to the viewers. I became part of the joke, but that’s no excuse. I made a mistake and I’m sorry and I shouldn’t have said it. And as I said, I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that.”

Here’s what’s wrong with Halperin’s “dick” remark:

1. Regardless of who’s being talked about, cable or network morning television isn’t the place to call someone a dick. A nighttime show? Maybe, but even then, not the president (which I’ll get to in a moment).

2. Halperin knew he shouldn’t have said it on television because he asked about the seven-second delay. The “joke” wasn’t spontaneous or something said in the heat of an argument. It appears the remark was planned. Between thinking about saying “kind of a dick” and the banter that ensued when they discussed the delay, Halperin had plenty of time to consider the remark and decide not to say it. He decided wrong.

3. An editor-at-large and senior political analyst of the country’s largest news magazine shouldn’t call anyone – the president or an average Joe – a dick. It’s unprofessional for any journalist to do that on-air. Which brings me to…

4. Halperin is an experienced journalist and editor, but he failed here, too. He didn’t edit himself.

5. Finally, the most obvious: Should anyone call the president a dick on TV? Of course not! It’s the President of the United States! It’s our highest and most esteemed elected office. Obama and other presidents have been called worse in homes, offices, the Internet and other places where people talk about politics. But we look to journalists and others who lead political discussions to maintain a certain level of respect for the political process and the people involved in it.

MSNBC was right to indefinitely suspend Halperin. Not only was he disrespectful, he was a bad guest who showed bad judgment.

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Round Up: Osama bin Laden Dead

By , May 3, 2011 2:12 am

UPDATE: As with any big breaking news story, initial stories turn out to be false as details emerge. The death of Osama bin Laden is no different. It’s now being reported that Bin Laden wasn’t armed when he was killed and he didn’t use his wife as a human shield. This is the “new narrative” put out by the White House.

At this point, you probably know some of the facts about the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. You probably know a U.S. Navy SEAL team conducted the operation at bin Laden’s compound near Pakistan’s military academy.

Because there’s a lot of information out there, here are some videos, news bites, and opinion pieces about bin Laden’s death that you may have missed.

First, President Obama’s speech on Sunday night announcing bin Laden had been killed:

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ABC News was able to go inside the compound where bin Laden and three others were killed, including one of his wives who was used as a human shield by the al-Qaeda leader during the firefight.

The National Journal goes inside the Navy SEALs to see how it worked with intelligence and other military agencies to succeed in the operation.

How was bin Laden positively identified? According to the Daily Telegraph, with the help of DNA from his dead sister’s brain.

BBC News has reaction from more than world 30 leaders.

Some people critical of the celebrations in reaction to bin Laden’s death. The Root’s Jenée Desmond-Harris writes, “Americans can do better than just jumping for joy.” While 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser writes in the Huffington Post, “today is not a day of celebration for me.”

How did you learn about bin Laden’s death? I was without a TV, but I had Twitter. “[It] was faster, more accurate, and more entertaining than any other news source out there,” wrote Matt Rosoff in Business Insider. I second that!

In what could be called a the biggest head-fake in history, (wait, it already was on Twitter), 24 hours before Obama’s announcement, “Saturday Night Live’s” Seth Meyers joked about bin Laden’s whereabouts at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who you can see in the audience) kept cool and revealed nothing. They laughed and they laughed…

Hat tip to mediabistro’s Newsfeed and The Daily Beast’s Cheat Sheet for pointing me in the right direction of some of these links.

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Herman Cain Says He’s A “Real Black Man,” Implies Obama Isn’t

By , April 4, 2011 6:30 pm

If you don’t know who Herman Cain is, the former head of Godfather’s Pizza who became a GOP hero after embarrassing then-president Clinton in a debate on healthcare, ran for U.S. Senator in Georgia in 2004, and is currently formerly a radio talk show host, might run for Republican presidential nomination.

And compared to Barack Obama, Cain thinks he is a “real black man.”

That’s what Cain said on Wednesday at a Tea Party function in Florida. The mainstream media is scared, according to Cain, that Sarah Palin or Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann would get the Republican nomination for president. Then he said, “[The mainstream media is] doubly scared that a real black man might run against Barack Obama.”

The passage begins about 2:37 in:

This takes Man Up to a different and interesting level. During the 2010 election, Man Up and its variations were used to demean candidates who were accused by their opponents as not having the “cajones” or “man-pants” to be strong and decisive leaders.

Politico reported that, according to Cain’s spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, he wasn’t “challenging Obama’s racial origin.” She said, ”He was referring to himself in the first person…He was saying that there could be a general election with two black men.” Then why the emphasis on the word “real?” And why bring up race at all? In that one remark, Cain asserted his own black masculinity, while questioning Obama’s.

So, it begs the question: Is Cain a “real black man?” I don’t know, nor would I list qualities for one of any race. But a real man – and by that I mean a mature adult male – wouldn’t brag about how much of a “real man” he is.

See Also:
Man Up And Cry

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America “As Good As She Imagined It”

By , January 13, 2011 9:32 pm

President Barack Obama’s speech at the memorial service for the victims of Saturday’s shooting was brilliant and powerful. He consoled and comforted the citizens of Tucson and the nation, while eulogizing those who were killed and praising the first responders and doctors who are still working to heal those who survived.

He also talked about the level of vitriol in political debate. He said a lack of civility in politics didn’t motivate the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner. In fact, he departed from the prepared text and firmly said, “It did not.” Obama used the opportunity, though, to appeal for unity among Americans and inspire hope about our political system. He asked all of us to live up to the expectations of our children and make our country as good as Christina Green – the youngest victim in Saturday’s shooting – imagined it.

They believed and I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us. And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine for a moment: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can do to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

Watch the entire speech here:

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Race, Class and Obama

By , September 2, 2010 5:50 pm

For anyone interested in racial and ethnic harmony, it’s been a crappy summer.

A quick recap: Arizona’s immigration law passed; the NAACP took on Tea Party racism, and the Tea Party came back in a bad way; Andrew Breitbart took on the NAACP and Shirley Sherrod making all parties involved look bad, including Barack Obama; 1/5 of Americans think Obama is a Muslim in spite of factual evidence to the contrary and none to support it; there’s the controversy over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” that isn’t located in Ground Zero and is more of a community center than a mosque; and Dr. Laura used the word “nigger” 11 times to a black caller.

These moments and the lack of any progress on race show the country isn’t ready to engage and have an honest conversation about how race and ethnicity affect Americans. What’s worse is President Obama doesn’t appear ready to lead the country in this matter. This is a shame because he is the perfect person to do it.

First, he’s already done it before. In a 2008 speech responding to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scandal, Obama spoke brilliantly about race:

I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams.

United States President Barack Obama makes a statement on the killings in the West Bank after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 1, 2010.  UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool Photo via Newscom

That’s what a lot of the racial and ethnic stories that captured our attention this summer are about (except, perhaps, the Dr. Laura rant): Someone different from me is getting something I’m not. These issues aren’t just about race. They’re about class, immigration and jobs, too. They’re about race and money.

Obama is the embodiment of an American who can and has crossed multiple racial and economic groups and this is the second reason he should be talking more about these problems. He is the son of a white American and black Kenyan. He grew up in a working-class family in Hawaii as well as some time in Indonesia. He attended two elite Ivy League schools in the East, and he was a community organizer in Chicago. His life is a range of race and class in America. It’s multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and spans different geographic regions and economic classes.
Continue reading 'Race, Class and Obama'»

Some Good Links

By , June 25, 2010 2:43 am

On my old blog, I compiled links to interesting news and opinion pieces from around the Internet. I’ll start doing the same here about sex, race and American culture. As always, feel free to leave your comments below.

TOKYO - SEPTEMBER 14 : Michael Jackson performing on stage during his 'Bad' World Tour in Tokyo,Japan on the 14th of September 1987. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)UK NEWSPAPERS OUT WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT FROM DAVE HOGAN. PLEASE CONTACT SALES TEAM WITH ENQUIRIES

-One year ago today, Michael Jackson died at the age of 50. According to this estimate, the King of Pop’s estate made $1 billion (yes, with a “b”) in revenue since his death. [Billboard]

-Joran van der Sloot claims he’s getting mail from women who want to marry him and have his baby. Why do some women like very bad boys? [The Daily Beast]

-If there were groups of heavily armed black men who wanted to “take back” their country during the Bush/Cheney years, would they be viewed the same as the militia groups that have grown in number since Obama’s inauguration? [Washington Post]

-The leak and environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is the “missing white woman” of oil spills. [The Root]

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