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“A Pageant Of Democracy”: Barack Hussein Obama Is “The Black President” No Longer

President Barack Hussein Obama’s second inauguration was every bit as historic as his first — not because it said so much about the nation’s long, bitter, unfinished struggle with issues of race, as was the case four years ago, but because it said so little about the subject.

Reflect for a moment: A black man stood on the Capitol steps and took the oath of office as president of the United States. For the second time. Meaning that not only did voters elect him once — which could be a fluke, a blip, an aberration, a cosmic accident — but then turned around and did it again.

Leading up to Monday’s pageant of democracy — perhaps the one occasion when the phrase “pageant of democracy” can be used without irony — commentary focused on prospects for Obama’s second term.

Would there be more gridlock and paralysis? Would Obama adopt a more conciliatory tone toward the Republican leadership in the House, or would he press the advantage he won at the polls in November? Would he make good on his promise of an all-out effort to pass new gun-control laws, even at the risk of making some fellow Democrats politically vulnerable? How would he approach immigration, entitlements, economic growth, the long-term debt?

“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama thundered, in a speech built on themes of collective action and responsibility.

Reaction to the address took remarkably little notice of the fact that Obama is an African American. That seems to be old news.

Not for me, though. Not for a black man who grew up in the segregated South, who attended a rally (my mother tells me) at which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, who lived through the defeat of Jim Crow and the triumph of the civil rights movement.

For my two sons, this is history — unfinished history, to be sure, but distant enough that they learned it from books. Their children, in turn, will grow up in a world in which one of the central tenets of American exceptionalism — that anyone can be president — is demonstrably true. Or, at least, not demonstrably false.

On Monday morning, before the inauguration, Obama took his family to worship at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. Television images of the president, his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, entering and then leaving the church, were charming but unexceptional — and almost made me cry.

I have always believed that those quotidian pictures of family life are one of the most important legacies of the Obama presidency. For most people, visual information is uniquely powerful. What we see has more impact than what we hear. Pictures of an African American family enveloped by Secret Service protection, ferried down Pennsylvania Avenue in armored limousines, returning at night to sleep in the grand residence of the nation’s head of state — these images show us something new about what is possible, something new about ourselves.

I was always taught that the first black person to fill any job or role previously reserved for whites should expect to be held to a higher standard. Surely Obama has noticed this, too.

You’d think that steering the economy away from the abyss, passing landmark health-care reform, guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work, ending our nation’s shameful experiment with torture and ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — for starters — would add up to a pretty impressive first-term résumé.

Voters clearly thought so, but a lot of my fellow pundits seem not to have noticed. Instead, they demand to know why Obama has not somehow charmed Republicans — who announced, you will recall, that their principal aim was making him a one-term president — into meek submission, I suppose through some combination of glad-handing and perhaps hypnosis.

The truth is that it will take many years to fully assess the Obama presidency. The verdict will depend on what he accomplishes in his second term — and how his initiatives pan out in the coming decades. On health care and the long-term debt, in particular, my hunch is that Obama is taking a much longer view than his critics realize.

But here we are, talking about legacy, not race. Which is simply amazing.

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post,  January 21, 2013

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Democracy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Owners Are Getting Scared”: If You Want To Say We’re Just Voting For People Who Promote Our Best Interests, You’re Right

Now that President Obama has won–and is being inaugurated today, hooray!–talk about who should and should not be allowed to vote is becoming more common amongst the tea party rank-and-file.

I work at a homeless shelter. Tonight at dinner, as I sat at our service desk and watched all of the people eat, and talk, and laugh, I remembered how disturbed one of my neighbors was when he heard about our efforts to ensure that the residents of our shelter–and all shelters–got out and voted. My neighbor–white, christian, male, conservative, mid-fifties–went from disturbed to downright offended when President Obama won re-election, and the county that it all seemed to come down to was our county, Hamilton County, Ohio. To my neighbor, by bringing local community organizers into our shelter to have residents sign voting pledges, by having state agencies come in to help our residents register to vote, we were essentially delivering the country to President Obama.

“We didn’t tell them who to vote for”. I said.

“Of course you knew who they were going to vote for. Who gave them the free cell phone?” he said.

Ah, the so-called ‘Obamaphone’. Conservatives hate it. To them, it smacks of decadence, and misguided liberal spending. In reality, it’s a very practical investment for our society to make. Newt Gingrich talked about replacing the safety net with a trampoline: we live in a very high-tech world, and in order to function in this world, we have to be plugged in. If we expect disenfranchised folks to even have a chance at competing, wouldn’t they also have to be plugged in? In the shelter business, we are about helping people get housing, but we’re also about helping people eliminate barriers to housing. If our residents have cell phones, that cuts out a lot of walking time, and a lot of paper work. Ultimately, it should help them get back on their feet, and that is something we all want.

“People who are on the government tit shouldn’t be allowed to vote”. he said.

“If you believe that, then no C.E.O. in the country should be allowed to vote.” I said, always the troublemaker.

“The rich worked for what they’ve got. The people who stay at your shelter have been made soft by the system. ” He said.

My response: You are likely to die in the class you are born into. Inherited wealth gives a person an unfair advantage. Being born into a privileged class gives a person an unfair advantage.Yes, a person can rise from the bottom to the top, but what do they have to become to do so? What do they have to sacrifice? I guarantee you a privileged person who rose to the same level did not sacrifice as much. And what if you don’t have the killer instinct? What if you just want to live a simple life, and not participate in the rat race? Should you have to work so hard? Yes, the man born with sand bags tied around his legs can still hypothetically ‘win the race’, but why not take off those sand bags and see how he does? Why not give him the option of not even running the damned pointless thing in the first place?

It’s a frustrating conversation, especially when you consider that my neighbor should be on my side on this: he is not one of the owners of this society. At best, he only serves as one of the owner’s many attack dogs, operating under the illusion that ‘if only I work hard enough, I too can join the ranks of the owners’. But dogs cannot become men.

The point is, this argument about who should and shouldn’t be allowed to vote is coming up more and more. After Romney lost what he and his followers had deluded themselves into believing would be a great white landslide (no way colored and poor folk will vote again like they did last time!), they started talking about restricting the vote.

But it’s too late for that. Us poor people, Us women, Us black people, Us latino people, Us asian people, Us gay people, us disabled people, us non-religious people–we’re voting. We’re being heard. And if you want to say we are just voting for people who are promoting our best interests, then you’re right: but tell me that the rich in this country don’t do the same thing.

And there are more of us.

The owners are getting scared.

And they should be.

 

By: Spencer Troxell, Daily Kos, January 21, 2013

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Democracy | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Batty Birtherville”: Birthers Still Trying To Stop President Obama’s Inauguration

They’re willing to give him a pass on the first time, but if Chief Justice John Roberts swears in President Barack Obama this time around, the birthers are ready for him.

In an op-ed published last week by WND, Craige McMillan says Roberts could be impeached by Congress if he swears in the president, whom McMillan says is not a natural-born citizen.

From McMillan’s op-ed:

If you choose the easy course of ignoring our Constitution, it does not change the fact that Mr. Obama is barred by that same Constitution from acting as president. I am sure that if you turn your judicial mind to the ramifications of this fraud, both foreign and domestic, you will understand that the harm you will have done insures your impeachment and eternal dishonor at some point down the road: If not this House of Representatives, then the next, or the next, or the next.

These things do not end well. One need only look to the aftermath of World War II and the Nuremberg Trials to see what awaits. Illegal wars. Illegal debts. Illegal laws. Will the rest of the Supreme Court’s justices, now knowing they are violating their own oath of office, continue the sham through a second presidential term?

The rant, first brought to our attention by The Huffington Post, goes on to urge Roberts to refuse to administer the oath of office.

But The National Memo, a political newsletter and website, is not having it.

In an op-ed called “Today In Crazy,” the publication writes “the reliably unhinged crazies over at WorldNetDaily” are just being melodramatic.

From The National Memo:

“Too bad this particular trip to Batty Birtherville, despite its darkly turgid undertones, is about as legitimate as all the others. It’s the same old song and dance… they demand to see the birth certificate. They are shown the birth certificate. They claim birth certificate can’t be real. Then they start shrieking that he “refuses” to show the birth certificate. They are again shown the birth certificate. They’re then shown the birth announcement from the local Hawaii newspaper from 1961. So they scream louder, “WHERE’S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” because the proof that it exists is overwhelming, and everyone knows that the louder you scream, the more right you are… even in the face of mounting and irrefutable proof that you’re wrong.”

The chief justice doesn’t seem too concerned about the impeachment threats since he’s scheduled to administer the oath both on Sunday, Jan. 20, and Monday, Jan. 21, CBS News reported last week.

 

By: Abby Rogers, Business Insider, January 10, 2013

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Birthers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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