Cornel West…And President Obama

Cornel West certainly has a problem with President Obama – and this isn’t the first time it has come out. The last time his criticisms were so ill formed and logic so convoluted he got his head handed to him.

Well…Maybe Dr West has learned something, although it must have been a tremendous blow to his over-sized ego to do so.

This is actually a pretty reasonable critique of Obama’s Presidency sans a few things I will discuss below.

Cornel West’s 8 Most Eye-Opening Critiques of Barack Obama’s Presidency

Very few progressive voices articulate more vitriol and uncompromising disdain for President Barack Obama than Cornel West. During Obama’s six years in the White House, West has critiqued every layer of the president’s policies, from his use of drones in the Middle East to what he feels is the president’s cozy relationship with Wall Street.

In 2011, West wrote in the New York Times that Obama has fallen short of epitomizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

“The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy,” he wrote. “Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.”

West’s commentary is a breath of fresh air for some who feel they’d be blacklisted in liberal circles for criticizing the president, while others see his remarks as coming from a space of personal bitterness. Regardless of where you stand on West’s opinions, his remarks are always worthy of further inspection.  In an excerpt from his new bookBlack Prophetic Fire, West outlines why he believes Obama has turned his back on the black philosophical traditions that put him in the White House. Here are eight of the most insightful quotes.

1. African Americans Have Done Worse Under Obama

“The great irony of our time is that in the age of Obama the grand black prophetic tradition is weak and feeble. Obama’s black face of the American empire has made it more difficult for black courageous and radical voices to bring critique to bear on the U.S. empire. On the empirical or lived level of black experience, black people have suffered more in this age than in the recent past. Empirical indices of infant mortality rates, mass incarceration rates, mass unemployment and dramatic declines in household wealth reveal this sad reality.”

2. Leadership In The African-American Community Has Weakened

“First, there is the shift of black leadership from the voices of social movements to those of elected officials in the mainstream political system. This shift produces voices that are rarely if ever critical of this system. How could we expect the black caretakers and gatekeepers of the system to be critical of it?”

3. Upward Mobility Is The Worst In The Modern World

“Second, this neoliberal shift produces a culture of raw ambition and instant success that is seductive to most potential leaders and intellectuals, thereby incorporating them into the neoliberal regime. This culture of superficial spectacle and hyper-visible celebrities highlights the legitimacy of an unjust system that prides itself on upward mobility of the downtrodden. Yet, the truth is that we live in a country that has the least upward mobility of any other modern nation!”

4. Leaders Who Challenge the Statue Quo Are Silenced

“Third, the U.S. neoliberal regime contains a vicious repressive apparatus that targets those strong and sacrificial leaders, activists, and prophetic intellectuals who are easily discredited, delegitimated, or even assassinated, including through character assassination. Character assassination becomes systemic and chronic, and it is preferable to literal assassination because dead martyrs tend to command the attention of the sleepwalking masses and thereby elevate the threat to the status quo.”

5. Mass Media Ignores Voices That Take on Issues Such as Use of Drones and War Crimes

“The central role of mass media, especially a corporate media beholden to the U.S. neoliberal regime, is to keep public discourse narrow and deodorized. By ‘narrow’ I mean confining the conversation to conservative Republican and neoliberal Democrats who shut out prophetic voices or radical visions. This fundamental power to define the political terrain and categories attempts to render prophetic voices invisible. The discourse is deodorized because the issues that prophetic voices highlight, such as mass incarceration, wealth inequality, and war crimes such as imperial drones murdering innocent people, are ignored.”

6. Obama Doesn’t Really Care About Protecting Working People

“The state of black America in the age of Obama has been one of desperation, confusion, and capitulation. The desperation is rooted in the escalating suffering on every front. The confusion arises from a conflation of symbol and substance. The capitulation rests on an obsessive need to protect the first black president against all forms of criticism. Black desperation is part of a broader desperation among poor and working people during the age of Obama. The bailout of Wall Street by the Obama administration, rather than the bailout of homeowners, hurt millions of working people.”

7. First Lady Michelle Obama Legitimizes Obama’s “Symbolic Status”

“Needless to say, the presence of his brilliant and charismatic wife, Michelle—a descendent of enslaved and Jim-Crowed people, unlike himself—even more deeply legitimizes his symbolic status, a status that easily substitutes for substantial achievement.”

8. To Be Successful and Black, One Must Turn His Back on the Poor

“To be a highly successful black professional or politician is too often to be well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference toward poor people, including black poor people. The black prophetic tradition is fundamentally committed to the priority of poor and working people, thus pitting it against the neoliberal regime, capitalist system, and imperial policies of the U.S. government.”

Toward the end of the book, West writes how modern black leadership has abandoned the traditions that have helped position it and President Obama. “What does it profit a people for a symbolic figure to gain presidential power if we turn our backs from the suffering of poor and working people, and thereby lose our souls?” he writes. “The black prophetic tradition has tried to redeem the soul of our fragile democratic experiment. Is it redeemable?”

With all that said, I have to disagree with West in two areas. The first is his concept of “Prophetic” leaders. The time is long past for that. The Black Community is no longer powerless under the boot heel of Jim Crow, and group organizations like Color of Change, which find and their strategy and ideas from essentially crowd funding the ideas of the group are far more effective than the Big Man on the podium Dr West so desperately seeks to be. No Big Man – the entire strategy of suppression through attacking an individual become naught.

Second is his use of the term neo-liberal, and assigning it’s anchor to one political group. We are in the post Raygun era of neo-liberal destruction of the country’s basic beliefs and foundations (including the destruction of the Middle Class) – but that neo-liberalism and destruction isn’t being wrought by one party – both are guilty.

And picking on Michelle…

Will get you Pimp Slapped.

I’m putting this one under Giant Negroes.

Speaker Boehner – “Tea Party Has Lost All Credibility”

The internal battle for the Republican Party heats up. Republican House speaker , John Boehner hammers the Tea Party over their intransigence, and refusal to participate in a functional Government…

 

 

Beginning to look like the Adults are taking charge again…

Tired of Obama Caving…

Been saying this for a long time. Obama’s fixation with bringing Rethuglys on board is a failure.

 

How Conservatives Destroyed Education in the US

Conservatives and the privatization to failure in the schools…

 

Nations Oldest Park Ranger Words of Wisdom

This is awesome!

If you are over 55 and grew up in the Southern US – you more than likely remember segregation and Jim Crow having lived through the last parts of it. Ranger Soskin at 92 years of age has seen much of the change in this country starting before WWII. Her insights are fascinating…

Nation’s oldest full-time park ranger, from California, furloughed

The nation’s oldest full-time national park ranger, who works at the  Rosie the Riveter museum in Richmond, Calif., recently joined the ranks of the furloughed because of the ongoing U.S. government shutdown.

Betty Reid Soskin, 92, is a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Northern California.

“At 92, I am very sensitive to the passage of time. We learned about the furlough gradually,” Soskin said told the Associated Press last week. “When it came at midnight (on) October 1, it seemed like a major interruption in my life because I don’t have time and these young folks were wasting my time, precious time.”

To make matters worse for Soskin, California officials refused Friday to use state money to open national parks, which means no reprieve for Soskin.

Soskin works three days a week as a tour guide and two days in the administrative office at the park that honors not only the famous Rosie but also tells the story of the home front during WWII.

Soskin became a park ranger seven years ago and leads tours at the park and museum that honors the women who worked in factories during wartime.But that all changed last week when the government shut down.

“It was like hitting a wall to come out from under my hat and back into civvies,” Soskin said.

She said she feels uncertain when she watches the developments between lawmakers in Washington, D.C., unfold on television.

“There are times when I feel like the only grown-up in the room. It’s a little disconcerting to feel like no one’s in charge. That’s the feeling I have when I watch the news,” Soskin said. “There are not enough wiser heads in Washington to determine where we should go. That uncertainty is unnerving.”

The National Park Service confirms that Soskin is the oldest full-time park ranger. At 93, Lyle Ruterbories, who works at Glacier National Park in Kintla Lake, Mont., near the U.S. and Canadian border, is the oldest seasonal ranger the park service is aware of, park service spokesman Jeff Olson told the AP this week.

47th Floor Walk-Up, 2 Bedroom Spectacular View…For Sale/Rent cheap!

A 47th floor …Walk up?

And you thought the economy was bad in Greece!

Spanish Skyscraper, InTempo, Has One Tragic Flaw – No Elevator! How Did Architects Forget A Lift For The 47-Story Benidorm, Spain High-Rise? 

A 47-story Spanish skyscraper has been built, it seems, without an elevator. Yep, you read it right folks. InTempo high-rise in Benidorm, Spain, whose construction began with high hopes of being “an unquestionable banner of the future,” has been constructed without a proper elevator to travel all the floors of the 47-story skyscraper. Sadly, this tragic oversight may soon make the structure, and Benidorm itself, the laughingstock of the modern world. Though the project has been riddled with problems since day one, the recent discovery that such a vital usability feature as an elevator was overlooked may just put the kibosh on the whole thing, certifying it as a fail of epic proportions.

So let’s just take a step back and figure out how the architects managed to build a 47-story skyscraper without an elevator. I mean surely that should be a standard component of any set of high-rise building plans right? It appears, when InTempo’s construction first began, the Benidorm, Spain skyscraper did include an elevator — at least for the first 20 stories anyway. However, multiple problems arose in the construction process, putting the building completion four years behind schedule. In 2009, just before the skyscraper was to be completed, the construction firm building the 47-storystructure, Olga Urbana, went bankrupt.

With much work still undone, some of the workers who were part of the now bankrupt Olga Urbana firm decided to open a new firm and try to get the InTempo completed. The new firm was called Kono and picked up the work in 2010.

Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the troubles and complications ahead for the skyscraper, culminating in the discovery that it lacked a proper elevator. In fact, elevators had been an issue all along with this failed construction attempt. It seems that whoever was managing this project really didn’t have their head in the game because oddly enough, there wasn’t any kind of lift at all for workers until 23 stories of the skyscraper had already been built! Without even a freight elevator in place, imagine the difficulties these 41 workers must have had, trekking up and down 23 floors each day to complete their work!

The poor InTempo workers did finally get the freight elevator they needed, but unfortunately, more trouble was ahead. In July 2011, as workers prepared to build the 47th and final floor of the Spain skyscraper, a tragedy occurred. The freight elevator collapsed with 13 of the 41 workers inside. Even more frightening, however, is the fact that ambulances were unable to get to the workers due to the building having no vehicle entrance. Again, this was another brilliant attempt to save money at the expense of those working on the project.

Though workers continued to build the 47-story high rise, in 2012 an error was discovered that was the straw to break the camel’s back.

It was discovered that the design of the structure was quite shortsighted as it didn’t plan for the additional 27 stories later added to the building. Initially the InTempo was meant to be 20 stories high. However, when the building firm bankruptcy fiasco took place, plans were altered to take theskyscraper to 47 stories. The twin towers would connect in the center with a bowl construction containing communal gardens and pools.

In revamping their plans for InTempo, however, the builders forgot to properly rescale them. As a result, the 47-story Spanish skyscraper would have an elevator far to small to accommodate lifting past the 20th floor. The motor in the original elevator lacked the power needed to lift to the additional floors and there was no space to put in a larger one. This final disaster led the construction workers in charge of the project to resign citing “a loss of confidence in the developers” — um, yeah.

Even with this latest embarrassment, which leaves the building at 94 percent completion, it seems those in charge of the project are fairly oblivious to the disasters that have ensured around them. Though the skyscraper has only 35 percent of its 269 housing units sold, the completely unfazed designers continue to offer their one-bedroom apartments at an exorbitant 358,000 euros, with increments every 10 floors…

You KNOW it’s bad when…

The American Revolution…A Flop?

The American Revolution was a flop

The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The new republic started advancing life and liberty by keeping a substantial part of its population enslaved. (This, at least, proves the frequent British put-down that Americans don’t have a sense of irony.) By contrast, in British-controlled Canada, the abolition of slavery began almost 20 years before the War of 1812, sometimes called America’s “Second Revolution.” A good number of free blacks fought with the British against the United States in that conflict, even participating in the burning of Washington. And if, as some scholars argue, the Civil War was the unfinished business of the American Revolution, then Americans — like the Russians — paid a very high human cost for their revolutions.

On to liberty. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that more than 2 million people were incarcerated in 2011; that includes federal, state and local prisoners, as well as those awaiting trial. To put that total into perspective, theInternational Centre for Prison Studiesranks the United States ranks first in the world in the number of prisoners per 100,000 residents. That’s well ahead of Canada (which ranks 136th) and even Russia. The U.S. incarceration rate for African American men, which is about six times higher than that of white men, according to 2010 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, points to yet more unfinished business.

As for the pursuit of happiness, Americans are free to do just that — provided that they aren’t rotting in jail. But are they likely to find it? Most Americans work longer hours and have fewer paid vacations and benefits — including health care — than their counterparts inmost advanced countries. Consider also that in the CIA World Factbook, the United States ranks 51st in life expectancy at birth. Working oneself into an early grave does not do much for one’s happiness quotient. This year the United States tied for 14th in “life satisfaction” on an annual quality-of-life study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That puts the United States behind Canada (eighth) and Australia (12th). Areport co-authored last year by the economist Jeffrey Sachs ranked the United States 10th in the world for happiness — again behind Canada and Australia. The Sachs study found that the United States has made “striking economic and technological progress over the past half century without gains in the self-reported happiness of the citizenry. Instead, uncertainties and anxieties are high, social and economic inequalities have widened considerably, social trust is in decline, and confidence in government is at an all-time low.”

Ouch.

Which brings us to the related matter of the revolution’s long-term impact on politics. While the Canadian, Australian and British governments have shown they can get things done, including passing tough austerity budgets in recent years, the norm in Washington has become paralyzing partisanship and gridlock.

In these senses, the American Revolution was a flop. Perhaps it’s time for Americans to accept that their revolution was a failure and renounce it. (For their part, many Russians have.)…

The reason we are failing now is the same reason the Constitution failed over half of our country…race. The progeny of the same folks who struck “All men are created equal” from the Constitution, fought a bloody war to preserve slavery, and now seek to bring our government to it’s knees because the majority have had the temerity to elect a black President have not given up the cause – even though they have changed names.

And until America forcefully rejects their vision yet again (hopefully through the ballot box), America will remain – America the Dysfunctional.

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