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So again, the question is going to be do we all come to the table with an open mind and say

 to ourselves, what do we think is actually going to make a difference for the American

people? That's how we’re going to be judged over the next couple of years.



Books by Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance  / The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

Obama's Greatest Speeches (CD set)

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Responses to Post-Midterm Elections 

 President Barack Obama, et al

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Post Midterm Election Press Conference

By President Barack Obama


Washington, D.C.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Last night I had a chance to speak to the leaders of the House and the Senate and reached out to those who had both won and lost in both parties.  I told John Boehner and Mitch McConnell that I look forward to working with them.  And I thanked Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for their extraordinary leadership over the last two years.

After what I'm sure was a long night for a lot of you—and needless to say it was for me—I can tell you that some election nights are more fun than others.  Some are exhilarating; some are humbling.  But every election, regardless of who wins and who loses, is a reminder that in our democracy, power rests not with those of us in elected office, but with the people we have the privilege to serve.

Over the last few months I've had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet people where they live and where they work, from backyards to factory floors.  I did some talking, but mostly I did a lot of listening.  And yesterday’s vote confirmed what I've heard from folks all across America:  People are frustrated—they’re deeply frustrated—with the pace of our economic recovery and the opportunities that they hope for their children and their grandchildren.  They want jobs to come back faster, they want paychecks to go further, and they want the ability to give their children the same chances and opportunities as they’ve had in life.

The men and women who sent us here don't expect Washington to solve all their problems.  But they do expect Washington to work for them, not against them.  They want to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, not wasted, and that we're not going to leave our children a legacy of debt.  They want to know that their voices aren’t being drowned out by a sea of lobbyists and special interests and partisan bickering.  They want business to be done here openly and honestly.

Now, I ran for this office to tackle these challenges and give voice to the concerns of everyday people.  Over the last two years, we’ve made progress.  But, clearly, too many Americans haven’t felt that progress yet, and they told us that yesterday. And as President, I take responsibility for that.

What yesterday also told us is that no one party will be able to dictate where we go from here, that we must find common ground in order to set—in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges.  And I told John Boehner and Mitch McConnell last night I am very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together. 

I’m not suggesting this will be easy.  I won’t pretend that we will be able to bridge every difference or solve every disagreement.  There’s a reason we have two parties in this country, and both Democrats and Republicans have certain beliefs and certain principles that each feels cannot be compromised.  But what I think the American people are expecting, and what we owe them, is to focus on those issues that affect their jobs, their security, and their future:  reducing our deficit, promoting a clean energy economy, making sure that our children are the best educated in the world, making sure that we’re making the investments in technology that will allow us to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.

Because the most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans.  In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world.  To win that competition, and to continue our economic leadership, we’re going to need to be strong and we’re going to need to be united.

None of the challenges we face lend themselves to simple solutions or bumper-sticker slogans.  Nor are the answers found in any one particular philosophy or ideology.  As I’ve said before, no person, no party, has a monopoly on wisdom.  And that’s why I’m eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from, whoever proposes them. And that’s why I believe it’s important to have an honest and civil debate about the choices that we face.  That’s why I want to engage both Democrats and Republicans in serious conversations about where we’re going as a nation.

And with so much at stake, what the American people don’t want from us, especially here in Washington, is to spend the next two years refighting the political battles of the last two.  We just had a tough election.  We will have another in 2012.  I’m not so naïve as to think that everybody will put politics aside until then, but I do hope to make progress on the very serious problems facing us right now. And that’s going to require all of us, including me, to work harder at building consensus.

You know, a little over a month ago, we held a town hall meeting in Richmond, Virginia.  And one of the most telling questions came from a small business owner who runs a tree care firm.  He told me how hard he works and how busy he was; how he doesn’t have time to pay attention to all the back-and-forth in Washington.  And he asked, is there hope for us returning to civility in our discourse, to a healthy legislative process, so as I strap on the boots again tomorrow, I know that you guys got it under control?  It’s hard to have a faith in that right now, he said.

I do believe there is hope for civility.  I do believe there’s hope for progress.  And that’s because I believe in the resiliency of a nation that’s bounced back from much worse than what we’re going through right now—a nation that's overcome war and depression, that has been made more perfect in our struggle for individual rights and individual freedoms.

Each time progress has come slowly and even painfully, but progress has always come—because we’ve worked at it and because we’ve believed in it, and most of all, because we remembered that our first allegiance as citizens is not to party or region or faction, but to country—because while we may be proud Democrats or proud Republicans, we are prouder to be Americans.

And that's something that we all need to remember right now and in the coming months.  And if we do, I have no doubt that we will continue this nation’s long journey towards a better future.

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So with that, let me take some questions.  I’m going to start off with Ben Feller at AP.

Ben Feller: Thank you, Mr. President.  Are you willing to concede at all that what happened last night was not just an expression of frustration about the economy, but a fundamental rejection of your agenda?  And given the results, who do you think speaks to the true voice of the American people right now:  you or John Boehner?

President Obama:  I think that there is no doubt that people’s number-one’s concern is the economy.  And what they were expressing great frustration about is the fact that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy.  We’ve stabilized the economy. We’ve got job growth in the private sectors.  But people all across America aren’t feeling that progress.  They don't see it.  And they understand that I’m the President of the United States, and that my core responsibility is making sure that we’ve got an economy that's growing, a middle class that feels secure, that jobs are being created.  And so I think I've got to take direct responsibility for the fact that we have not made as much progress as we need to make.

Now, moving forward, I think the question is going to be can Democrats and Republicans sit down together and come up with a set of ideas that address those core concerns.  I'm confident that we can.

I think that there are some areas where it’s going to be very difficult for us to agree on, but I think there are going to be a whole bunch of areas where we can agree on.  I don’t think there’s anybody in America who thinks that we’ve got an energy policy that works the way it needs to; that thinks that we shouldn’t be working on energy independence.  And that gives opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to come together and think about, whether it’s natural gas or energy efficiency or how we can build electric cars in this country, how do we move forward on that agenda.

I think everybody in this country thinks that we’ve got to make sure our kids are equipped in terms of their education, their science background, their math backgrounds, to compete in this new global economy.  And that’s going to be an area where I think there’s potential common ground.

So on a whole range of issues, there are going to be areas where we disagree.  I think the overwhelming message that I hear from the voters is that we want everybody to act responsibly in Washington.  We want you to work harder to arrive at consensus.  We want you to focus completely on jobs and the economy and growing it, so that we’re ensuring a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

And I think that there’s no doubt that as I reflect on the results of the election, it underscores for me that I've got to do a better job, just like everybody else in Washington does.

Well, I think John Boehner and I and Mitch McConnell  and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going to have to sit down and work together—because I suspect that if you talk to any individual voter yesterday, they’d say, there are some things I agree with Democrats on, there are some things I agree with Republicans on.  I don’t think people carry around with them a fixed ideology.  I think the majority of people, they’re going about their business, going about their lives.  They just want to make sure that we’re making progress.  And that’s going to be my top priority over the next couple of years.

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Savannah Guthrie.

Savannah Guthrie:  Just following up on what Ben just talked about, you don’t seem to be reflecting or second-guessing any of the policy decisions you’ve made, instead saying the message the voters were sending was about frustration with the economy or maybe even chalking it up to a failure on your part to communicate effectively. If you’re not reflecting on your policy agenda, is it possible voters can conclude you’re still not getting it?

President Obama:  Well, Savannah, that was just the first question, so we’re going to have a few more here.  I’m doing a whole lot of reflecting and I think that there are going to be areas in policy where we’re going to have to do a better job. I think that over the last two years, we have made a series of very tough decisions, but decisions that were right in terms of moving the country forward in an emergency situation where we had the risk of slipping into a second Great Depression.

But what is absolutely true is that with all that stuff coming at folks fast and furious—a recovery package, what we had to do with respect to the banks, what we had to do with respect to the auto companies—I think people started looking at all this and it felt as if government was getting much more intrusive into people’s lives than they were accustomed to.

Now, the reason was it was an emergency situation.  But I think it’s understandable that folks said to themselves, you know, maybe this is the agenda, as opposed to a response to an emergency.  And that’s something that I think everybody in the White House understood was a danger.  We thought it was necessary, but I’m sympathetic to folks who looked at it and said this is looking like potential overreach.

In addition, there were a bunch of price tags that went with that.  And so, even though these were emergency situations, people rightly said, gosh, we already have all this debt, we already have these big deficits; this is potentially going to compound it, and at what point are we going to get back to a situation where we’re doing what families all around the country do, which is make sure that if you spend something you know how to pay for it—as opposed to racking up the credit card for the next generation.

And I think that the other thing that happened is that when I won election in 2008, one of the reasons I think that people were excited about the campaign was the prospect that we would change how business is done in Washington.  And we were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things got done.  And I think that frustrated people.

I’m a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people really want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent.  And I, in the rush to get things done, had to sign a bunch of bills that had earmarks in them, which was contrary to what I had talked about.  And I think folks look at that and they said, gosh, this feels like the same partisan squabbling, this seems like the same ways of doing business as happened before.

And so one of the things that I’ve got to take responsibility for is not having moved enough on those fronts.  And I think there is an opportunity to move forward on some of those issues.  My understanding is Eric Cantor today said that he wanted to see a moratorium on earmarks continuing.  That’s something I think we can—we can work on together.

Savannah Guthrie:   Would you still resist the notion that voters rejected the policy choices you made?

President Obama:  Well, Savannah, I think that what I think is absolutely true is voters are not satisfied with the outcomes.  If right now we had five percent unemployment instead of 9.6 percent unemployment, then people would have more confidence in those policy choices.  The fact is, is that for most folks, proof of whether they work or not is has the economy gotten back to where it needs to be.  And it hasn’t.

And so my job is to make sure that I’m looking at all ideas that are on the table.  When it comes to job creation, if Republicans have good ideas for job growth that can drive down the unemployment rate, and we haven’t thought of them, we haven’t looked at them but we think they have a chance of working, we want to try some.

So on the policy front, I think the most important thing is to say that we’re not going to rule out ideas because they’re Democrat or Republican; we want to just see what works.  And ultimately, I’ll be judged as President as to the bottom line—results.

*   *   *   *   *

Mike Emanuel.

Mike Emanuel: Thank you, Mr. President.  Health care—as you’re well aware, obviously, a lot of Republicans ran against your health care law.  Some have called for repealing the law.  I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that health care reform that you worked so hard on is in danger at this point, and whether there’s a threat, as a result of this election.

President Obama:  Well, I know that there’s some Republican candidates who won last night who feel very strongly about it.  I’m sure that this will be an issue that comes up in discussions with the Republican leadership.  As I said before, though, I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years.

With respect to the health care law, generally—and this may go to some of the questions that Savannah was raising—you know, when I talk to a woman from New Hampshire who doesn’t have to mortgage her house because she got cancer and is seeking treatment but now is able to get health insurance, when I talk to parents who are relieved that their child with a preexisting condition can now stay on their policy until they’re 26 years old and give them time to transition to find a job that will give them health insurance, or the small businesses that are now taking advantage of the tax credits that are provided—then I say to myself, this was the right thing to do.

Now, if the Republicans have ideas for how to improve our health care system, if they want to suggest modifications that would deliver faster and more effective reform to a health care system that has been wildly expensive for too many families and businesses and certainly for our federal government, I’m happy to consider some of those ideas.

You know, for example, I know one of the things that’s come up is that the 1099 provision in the health care bill appears to be too burdensome for small businesses.  It just involves too much paperwork, too much filing.  It’s probably counterproductive. It was designed to make sure that revenue was raised to help pay for some of the other provisions, but if it ends up just being so much trouble that small businesses find it difficult to manage, that's something that we should take a look at.

So there are going to be examples where I think we can tweak and make improvements on the progress that we’ve made.  That's true for any significant piece of legislation.

But I don't think that if you ask the American people, should we stop trying to close the doughnut hole that will help senior citizens get prescription drugs, should we go back to a situation where people with preexisting conditions can’t get health insurance, should we allow insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick even though you’ve been paying premiums—I don't think that you’d have a strong vote for people saying those are provisions I want to eliminate.

Mike Emanuel:  According to some exit polls, sir, about one out of two voters apparently said that they would like to either see it overturned or repealed.  Are you concerned that that may embolden voters who are from the other party perhaps?

President Obama:  Well, it also means one out of two voters think it was the right thing to do.  And obviously this is an issue that has been contentious.  But as I said, I think what's going to be useful is for us to go through the issues that Republicans have issues on—not sort of talking generally, but let’s talk specifics.  Does this particular provision—when it comes to preexisting conditions, is this something you’re for or you’re against?  Helping seniors get their prescription drugs—does that make sense or not?

And if we take that approach—which is different from campaigning—I mean, this is now governing—then I think that we can continue to make some progress and find some common ground.

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Chip Reid.

Chip Reid:   Thank you, Mr. President.  Republicans say more than anything else what this election was about was spending.  And they say it will be when hell freezes over that they will accept anything remotely like a stimulus bill or any kind of a proposal you have out there to stimulate job growth through spending.  Do you accept the fact that any kind of spending to create jobs is dead at this point?  And if so, what else can government do to create jobs, which is the number one issue?

President Obama:  Well, I think this is going to be an important question for Democrats and Republicans. I think the American people are absolutely concerned about spending and debt—and deficits.  And I’m going to have a deficit commission that is putting forward its ideas.  It’s a bipartisan group that includes Republican and Democratic members of Congress.  Hopefully they were able to arrive at some consensus on some areas where we can eliminate programs that don’t work, cut back on government spending that is inefficient, can streamline government, but isn’t cutting into the core investments that are going to make sure that we are a competitive economy that is growing and providing opportunity for years to come.

So the question I think that my Republican friends and me and Democratic leaders are going to have to answer is, what are our priorities?  What do we care about?  And that’s going to be a tough debate, because there are some tough choices here.

We already had a big deficit that I inherited, and that has been made worse because of the recession.  As we bring it down, I want to make sure that we’re not cutting into education that is going to help define whether or not we can compete around the world.  I don’t think we should be cutting back on research and development, because if we can develop new technologies in areas like clean energy, that could make all the difference in terms of job creation here at home.

I think the proposal that I put forward with respect to infrastructure is one that historically we’ve had bipartisan agreement about.  And we should be able to agree now that it makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us.  And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth—that used to be us.  They’re making investments because they know those investments will pay off over the long term.

And so in these budget discussions, the key is to be able to distinguish between stuff that isn’t adding to our growth, isn’t an investment in our future, and those things that are absolutely necessary for us to be able to increase job growth in the future as well.

Now, the single most important thing I think we need to do economically—and this is something that has to be done during the lame duck session—is making sure that taxes don’t go up on middle-class families next year.  And so we’ve got some work to do on that front to make sure that families not only aren't seeing a higher tax burden—which will automatically happen if Congress doesn’t act—but also making sure that business provisions that historically we have extended each year that, for example, provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States in research and development, that those are extended.  I think it makes sense for us to extend unemployment insurance because there are still a lot of folks out there hurting.

So there are some things that we can do right now that will help sustain the recovery and advance it, even as we’re also sitting down and figuring out, okay, over the next several years what kinds of budget cuts can we make that are intelligent, that are smart, that won’t be undermining our recovery but, in fact, will be encouraging job growth.

Chip Reid:   But most of those things that you just called investments they call wasteful spending and they say it’s dead on arrival.  It sounds like—without their support, you can’t get any of it through.

President Obama:  Well, what is absolutely true is, is that without any Republican support on anything, then it’s going to be hard to get things done.  But I’m not going to anticipate that they’re not going to support anything.  I think that part of the message sent to Republicans was we want to see stronger job growth in this country.  And if there are good ideas about putting people to work that traditionally have garnered Republican support and that don’t add to the deficit, then my hope is and expectation is, is that that’s something they’re willing to have a serious conversation about.

When it comes to, for example, the proposal we put forward to accelerate depreciation for business, so that if they’re building a plant or investing in new equipment next year, that they can take a complete write-off next year, get a huge tax break next year, and that would then encourage a lot of businesses to get off the sidelines—that's not historically considered a liberal idea.  That's actually an idea that business groups and Republicans I think have supported for a very long time.

So again, the question is going to be do we all come to the table with an open mind and say to ourselves, what do we think is actually going to make a difference for the American people? That's how we’re going to be judged over the next couple of years.

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Peter Baker.

Peter Baker:  Thank you, Mr. President.  After your election two years ago, when you met with Republicans you said that, in discussing what policies might go forward, that elections have consequences, and that you pointed out that you had won.  I wonder what consequences you think this election should have then, in terms of your policies.  Are there areas that you’re willing—can you name today areas that you would be willing to compromise on that you might not have been willing to compromise on in the past?

President Obama:  Well, I think I’ve been willing to compromise in the past and I'm going to be willing to compromise going forward on a whole range of issues.  Let me give you an example—the issue of energy that I just mentioned.

I think there are a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year.  And so it’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after.  But that doesn't mean there isn't agreement that we should have a better energy policy.  And so let’s find those areas where we can agree.

We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country.  Are we doing everything we can to develop those?  There's a lot of agreement around the need to make sure that electric cars are developed here in the United States, that we don't fall behind other countries.  Are there things that we can do to encourage that?  And there's already been bipartisan interest on those issues.

There's been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases.  Is that an area where we can move forward?

We were able, over the last two years, to increase for the first time in thirty years fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks.  We didn’t even need legislation.  We just needed the cooperation of automakers and autoworkers and investors and other shareholders.  And that's going to move us forward in a serious way.

So I think when it comes to something like energy, what we’re probably going to have to do is say here are some areas where there's just too much disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, we can’t get this done right now, but let’s not wait.  Let’s go ahead and start making some progress on the things that we do agree on, and we can continue to have a strong and healthy debate about those areas where we don’t.

Peter Baker:   Is there anything in the “Pledge to America” that you think you can support?

President Obama:  You know, I’m sure there are going to be areas, particularly around, for example, reforming how Washington works, that I’ll be interested in.  I think the American people want to see more transparency, more openness.  As I said, in the midst of economic crisis, I think one of the things I take responsibility for is not having pushed harder on some of those issues.  And I think if you take Republicans and Democrats at their word this is an area that they want to deliver on for the American people, I want to be supportive of that effort.

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Jake Tapper.

Jake Tapper:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I have a policy question and a personal one.  The policy question is, you talked about how the immediate goal is the Bush tax cuts and making sure that they don’t expire for those who earn under $200,000, $250,000.  Republicans disagree with that strongly.  They want all of the Bush tax cuts extended.  Are you willing to compromise on that? Are you willing to negotiate at all, for instance, allow them to expire for everyone over $1 million?  Where are you willing to budge on that?

And the second one is, President Bush when he went through a similar thing came out and he said this was a “thumpin’.”  You talked about how it was humbling, or you alluded to it perhaps being humbling.  And I’m wondering, when you call your friends, like Congressman Perriello or Governor Strickland, and you see 19 state legislatures go to the other side, governorships in swing states, the Democratic Party set back, what does it feel like?

President Obama: It feels bad.  (Laughter.)  You know, the toughest thing over the last couple of days is seeing really terrific public servants not have the opportunity to serve anymore, at least in the short term.  And you mentioned—there are just some terrific members of Congress who took really tough votes because they thought it was the right thing, even though they knew this could cause them political problems, and even though a lot of them came from really tough swing districts or majority-Republican districts.  And the amount of courage that they showed and conviction that they showed is something that I admire so much.  I can’t overstate it.

And so there is a not only sadness about seeing them go, but there’s also a lot of questioning on my part in terms of could I have done something differently or done something more so that those folks would still be here.

It’s hard.  And I take responsibility for it in a lot of ways.

I will tell you, they’ve been incredibly gracious when I have conversations with them.  And what they’ve told me is, you know, we don’t have regrets because I feel like we were doing the right thing.  And they may be just saying that to make me feel better, which, again, is a sign of their character and their class.  And I hope a lot of them continue to pursue public service because I think they’re terrific public servants.

With respect to the tax cut issue, my goal is to make sure that we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle-class families.  Not only would that be a terrible burden on families who are already going through tough times, it would be bad for our economy.  It is very important that we’re not taking a whole bunch of money out of the system from people who are most likely to spend that money on goods, services, groceries, buying a new winter coat for the kids.

That’s also why I think unemployment insurance is important. Not only is it the right thing to do for folks who are still looking for work and struggling in this really tough economy, but it’s the right thing to do for the economy as a whole.

So my goal is to sit down with Speaker-elect Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Harry and Nancy sometime in the next few weeks and see where we can move forward in a way that, first of all, does no harm; that extends those tax cuts that are very important for middle-class families; also extends those provisions that are important to encourage businesses to invest, and provide businesses some certainty over the next year or two.

And how that negotiation works itself out I think is too early to say.  But this is going to be one of my top priorities, and my hope is, is that given we all have an interest in growing the economy and encouraging job growth, that we’re not going to play brinksmanship but instead we’re going to act responsibly.

Jake Tapper:  So you’re willing to negotiate?

President Obama: Absolutely.

*   *   *   *   *

Laura Meckler.

Laura Meckler: Thank you, Mr. President.  You said earlier that it was clear that Congress was rejecting the idea of a cap-and-trade program, and that you wouldn’t be able to move forward with that. Looking ahead, do you feel the same way about EPA regulating carbon emissions?  Would you be open to them doing essentially the same thing through an administrative action, or is that off the table, as well?

And secondly, just to follow up on what you said about changing the way Washington works, do you think that—you said you didn’t do enough to change the way things were handled in this city.  Some of—in order to get your health care bill passed you needed to make some of those deals.  Do you wish, in retrospect, you had not made those deals even if it meant the collapse of the program?

President Obama: I think that making sure that families had security and were on a trajectory to lower health care costs was absolutely critical for this country.  But you are absolutely right that when you are navigating through a House and a Senate in this kind of petty partisan environment that it’s a ugly mess when it comes to process.  And I think that is something that really affected how people viewed the outcome.  That is something that I regret—that we couldn’t have made the process more—healthier than it ended up being.  But I think the outcome was a good one.

With respect to the EPA, I think the smartest thing for us to do is to see if we can get Democrats and Republicans in a room who are serious about energy independence and are serious about keeping our air clean and our water clean and dealing with the issue of greenhouse gases—and seeing are there ways that we can make progress in the short term and invest in technologies in the long term that start giving us the tools to reduce greenhouse gases and solve this problem.

The EPA is under a court order that says greenhouse gases are a pollutant that fall under their jurisdiction. And I think one of the things that's very important for me is not to have us ignore the science, but rather to find ways that we can solve these problems that don’t hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that, in fact, may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs that—and that put us in a competitive posture around the world.

So I think it’s too early to say whether or not we can make some progress on that front.  I think we can.  Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.  It was a means, not an end.  And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.

And I think EPA wants help from the legislature on this.  I don’t think that the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here.  I think what they want to do is make sure that the issue is being dealt with.

*   *   *   *   *

Ed Henry.

Ed Henry: Thank you, Mr. President.  I wanted to do a personal and policy one as well.  On personal, you had a lot of fun on the campaign trail by saying that the Republicans were drinking a Slurpee and sitting on the sidelines while you were trying to pull the car out of the ditch.  But the point of the story was that you said if you want to go forward, you put the car in “D”; if you want to go backwards, you put it in “R.”  Now that there are least sixty House districts that seem to have rejected that message, is it possible that there are a majority of Americans who think your policies are taking us in reverse?  And what specific changes will you make to your approach to try to fix that and better connect with the American people?

And just on a policy front, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that you promised to end.  And when you had sixty votes and 59 votes in the Senate—it’s a tough issue—you haven’t been able to do it.  Do you now have to tell your liberal base that with maybe 52 or 53 votes in the Senate, you’re just not going to be able to get it done in the next two years?

President Obama: Well, let me take the second issue first.  I’ve been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation.  And since there’s been a lot of discussion about polls over the last 48 hours, I think it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way.  It’s the right thing to do.

Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion.  I’ve worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary Gates, worked with Admiral Mullen to make sure that we are looking at this in a systemic way that maintains good order and discipline, but that we need to change this policy.

There’s going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces.  I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will have something to say about that review.  I will look at it very carefully.  But that will give us time to act in—potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy.

Keep in mind we’ve got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well.  And something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we’ve got this issue bouncing around in the courts, as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn’t know at any given time what rules they’re working under.  

We need to provide certainty and it’s time for us to move this policy forward.  And this should not be a partisan issue.  This is an issue, as I said, where you’ve got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally.

Now, in terms of how we move forward, I think that the American people understand that we’re still digging our way out of a pretty big mess.  So I don’t think anybody denies they think we’re in a ditch.  I just don’t think they feel like we’ve gotten all the way out of the ditch yet.  And to move the analogy forward that I used in the campaign, I think what they want right now is the Democrats and the Republicans both pushing some more to get the car on level ground.  And we haven’t done that.

If you think I was engaging in too much campaign rhetoric, saying the Republicans were just sitting on the side of the road, watching us get that car out of the ditch, at the very least we were pushing in opposite directions.  And so—

Ed Henry: —the idea that your policies are taking the country in reverse.  You just reject that idea altogether that your policies could be going in reverse? 

President Obama: Yes.  And I think, look, here’s the bottom line.  When I came into office, this economy was in a freefall, and the economy has stabilized.  The economy is growing.  We’ve seen nine months of private sector job growth.  So I think it would be hard to argue that we’re going backwards.  I think what you can argue is we’re stuck in neutral.  We are not moving the way we need to, to make sure that folks have the jobs, have the opportunity, are seeing economic growth in their communities the way they need to.  And that's going to require Democrats and Republicans to come together and look for the best ideas to move things forward.

It will not be easy, not just because Democrats and Republicans may have different priorities, as we were just discussing when it came to how we structure tax cuts, but because these issues are hard.

The Republicans throughout the campaign said they’re very concerned about debt and deficits.  Well, one of the most important things we can do for debt and deficits is economic growth.  So what other proposals do they have to grow the economy? If, in fact, they’re rejecting some of the proposals I’ve made, I want to hear from them what affirmative policies can make a difference in terms of encouraging job growth and promoting the economy—because I don't think that tax cuts alone are going to be a recipe for the kind of expansion that we need.

From 2001 to 2009, we cut taxes pretty significantly, and we just didn’t see the kind of expansion that is going to be necessary in terms of driving the unemployment rate down significantly.

So I think what we’re going to need to do and what the American people want is for us to mix and match ideas, figure out those areas where we can agree on, move forward on those, disagree without being disagreeable on those areas that we can’t agree on.  If we accomplish that, then there will be time for politics later, but over the next year I think we can solidify this recovery and give people a little more confidence out there.

*   *   *   *   *

Hans Nichols.

Hans Nichols:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to ask if you’re going to have John Boehner over for a Slurpee, but I actually have a serious question.

President Obama: I might serve—they’re delicious drinks.  (Laughter.)

Chuck (?):   The Slurpee Summit?

President Obama: The Slurpee Summit—that’s good, Chuck.  I like that.  (Laughter.)

Hans Nichols:  Since you seem to be in a reflective mood, do you think you need to hit the reset button with business?  How do you plan to set that reset button with business? Would that—would you include anything beyond your Cleveland speech, those proposals, to get them off the sidelines, get them off the cash they’re hoarding and start hiring again?  Thank you.

President Obama: Yes, I think this is an important question that we’ve been asking ourselves for several months now.  You’re right, as I reflect on what’s happened over the last two years, one of the things that I think has not been managed by me as well as it needed to be was finding the right balance in making sure that businesses have rules of the road and are treating customers fairly and—whether it’s their credit cards or insurance or their mortgages—but also making absolutely clear that the only way America succeeds is if businesses are succeeding.

The reason we’ve got a unparalleled standard of living in the history of the world is because we’ve got a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial, and that free market has to be nurtured and cultivated.  And there’s no doubt that when you had the financial crisis on Wall Street, the bonus controversies, the battle around health care, the battle around financial reform, and then you had BP—you just had a successive set of issues in which I think business took the message that, well, gosh, it seems like we may be always painted as the bad guy.

And so I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community as well as to the country that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector and make sure that they’re hiring. And so we do have specific plans in terms of how we can structure that outreach.

Now, keep in mind over the last two years, we’ve been talking to CEOs constantly.  And as I plan for my trip later this week to Asia, the whole focus is on how are we going to open up markets so that American businesses can prosper, and we can sell more goods and create more jobs here in the United States.  And a whole bunch of corporate executives are going to be joining us so that I can help them open up those markets and allow them to sell their products.

So there’s been a lot of strong interaction behind the scenes.  But I think setting the right tone publicly is going to be important and could end up making a difference at the margins in terms of how businesses make investment decisions.

Hans Nichols:    But do you have new specific proposals to get them off the sidelines and start hiring?

President Obama: Well, I already discussed a couple with Chip that haven’t been acted  on yet. You’re right that I made these proposals two months ago, but—or three months ago—but it was in the midst of a campaign season where it was doubtful that they were going to get a full hearing, just because there was so much political noise going on.

I think as we move forward, sitting down and talking to businesses, figuring out what exactly would help you make more investments that could create more jobs here in the United States, and listening hard to them—in a context where maybe Democrats and Republicans are together so we’re receiving the same message at the same time—and then acting on that agenda could make a big difference.

*   *   *   *   *

Matt Spetalnick of Reuters.

Matt Spetalnick:  Thank you, Mr. President.  How do you respond to those who say the election outcome, at least in part, was voters saying that they see you as out of touch with their personal economic pain?  And are you willing to make any changes in your leadership style?

President Obama: There is an inherent danger in being in the White House and being in the bubble.  I mean, folks didn’t have any complaints about my leadership style when I was running around Iowa for a year.  And they got a pretty good look at me up close and personal, and they were able to lift the hood and kick the tires, and I think they understood that my story was theirs. I might have a funny name, I might have lived in some different places, but the values of hard work and responsibility and honesty and looking out for one another that had been instilled in them by their parents—those were the same values that I took from my mom and my grandparents.

And so the track record has been that when I’m out of this place, that's not an issue.  When you’re in this place, it is hard not to seem removed.  And one of the challenges that we’ve got to think about is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House, which require a lot of hours and a lot of work, but still have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a day-to-day basis, and know—give them confidence that I’m listening to them.

Those letters that I read every night, some of them just break my heart.  Some of them provide me encouragement and inspiration.  But nobody is filming me reading those letters.  And so it’s hard, I think, for people to get a sense of, well, how is he taking in all this information?

So I think there are more things that we can do to make sure that I’m getting out of here.  But, I mean, I think it’s important to point out as well that a couple of great communicators, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, were standing at this podium two years into their presidency getting very similar questions because the economy wasn’t working the way it needed to be and there was a whole range of factors that made people concerned that maybe the party in power wasn’t listening to them.  

This is something that I think every President needs to go through because the responsibilities of this office are so enormous and so many people are depending on what we do, and in the rush of activity, sometimes we lose track of the ways that we connected with folks that got us here in the first place.

And that’s something that—now, I’m not recommending for every future President that they take a shellacking like they—like I did last night.  (Laughter.)  I’m sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons.  But I do think that this is a growth process and an evolution.  And the relationship that I’ve had with the American people is one that built slowly, peaked at this incredible high, and then during the course of the last two years, as we’ve, together, gone through some very difficult times, has gotten rockier and tougher.  And it’s going to, I’m sure, have some more ups and downs during the course of me being in this office.

But the one thing that I just want to end on is getting out of here is good for me, too, because when I travel around the country, even in the toughest of these debates—in the midst of health care last year during the summer when there were protesters about, and when I’m meeting families who’ve lost loved ones in Afghanistan or Iraq—I always come away from those interactions just feeling so much more optimistic about this country. 

We have such good and decent people who, on a day-to-day basis, are finding all kinds of ways to live together and educate kids and grow their communities and improve their communities and create businesses and work together to create great new products and services.  The American people always make me optimistic.

And that’s why, during the course of the last two years, as tough as it’s been, as many sometimes scary moments as we’ve gone through, I’ve never doubted that we’re going to emerge stronger than we were before.  And I think that remains true, and I’m just going to be looking forward to playing my part in helping that journey along.

All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.

3 November 2010  1:02 pm—1:58 pm


posted 4 November 2010

*   *   *   *   *

President Obama Announces Vote 2010

  They’re Counting on Your Silence, on Amnesia / Obama Press Conference

After dark, mobs form, smash windows, loot  / The right verdict in Mehserle case

Parable of July 4, 1910 (Marvin X)  /  What To The Slave Is 4th of July?

Obama may take the final punch for Jack Johnson  

  *   *   *   *   *

Books by Tim Wise

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son / Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White

*   *   *   *   *

An Open Letter to the White Right

On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum

By Tim Wise

For all y’all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy ass Scotch you drink.

And for y’all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever shitty ass beer you favor.

Whatever the case, and whatever your economic station, know this . . .

You need to drink up.

And quickly.

And heavily.

Because your time is limited.

Real damned limited.

So party while you can, but mind the increasingly loud clock ticking away in the corners of your consciousness.

The clock that reminds you how little time you and yours have left.

Not much more now.

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.



I know, you think you’ve taken “your country back” with this election—and of course you have always thought it was yours for the taking, cuz that’s what we white folks are bred to believe, that it’s ours, and how dare anyone else say otherwise—but you are wrong.

You have won a small battle in a larger war the meaning of which you do not remotely understand.

‘Cuz there is nothing even slightly original about you.

There have always been those who wanted to take the country back.

There were those who, in past years, wanted to take the country back to a time of enslavement and indentured servitude.

But they lost.

There were those who wanted to take us back to a time when children could be made to work in mines and factories, when workers had no legal rights to speak of, when the skies in every major city were heavy with industrial soot that would gather on sidewalks and windowsills like volcanic ash.

But they lost.

There were those who wanted to take us back to a time when women could not vote, or attend any but a few colleges, or get loans in their own names, or start their own businesses.

But they lost.

There were those who wanted to take us back to a time when blacks “had no rights that the white man was bound to respect,”—this being the official opinion of the Supreme Court before those awful days of judicial activism, now decried by the likes of you—and when people of color could legally be kept from voting solely because of race, or holding certain jobs, or living in certain neighborhoods, or run out of other towns altogether when the sun would go down, or be strung up from trees.

But they lost.

And you will lose.

So make a note of it.

Tweet it to yourself.

Put it on your Facebook wall and leave it there so you’ll remember that I told you so.

It is coming, and soon.

This isn’t hubris. It isn’t ideology. It is not wishful thinking.

It is math.

Not even advanced math. Just simple, basic, like 3rd grade math.

The kind of math that proves how your kind—mostly older white folks beholden to an absurd, inaccurate, nostalgic fantasy of what America used to be like—are dying.

You’re like the bad guy in every horror movie ever made, who gets shot five times, or stabbed ten, or blown up twice, and who will eventually pass—even if it takes four sequels to make it happen—but who in the meantime keeps coming back around, grabbing at our ankles as we walk by, we having been mistakenly convinced that you were finally dead this time.

Fair enough, and have at it. But remember how this movie ends.

Our ankles survive.

You do not.

Michael Meyers, Freddie Kreuger, Jason, and that asshole husband in that movie with Julia Roberts who tracks her down after she runs away and changes her identity—they are all done. Even that crazy fucker in Saw is about to be finished off for good. Granted, he’s gonna be popping out in some 3-D shit to scare the kiddies, so he isn’t going quietly. But he’s going, as all bad guys eventually do.

And in the pantheon of American history, old white people have pretty much always been the bad guys, the keepers of the hegemonic and reactionary flame, the folks unwilling to share the category of American with others on equal terms.

Fine, keep it up. It doesn’t matter.

Because you’re on the endangered list.

And unlike, say, the bald eagle or some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth saving.

In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won’t be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Opie-Taylor-Down-at-the-Fishing Hole cornpone bullshit that you hold so near and dear to your heart.

There won’t be any more white folks around who think the 1950s were the good old days, because there won’t be any more white folks around who actually remember them, and so therefore, we’ll be able to teach about them accurately and honestly, without hurting your precious feelings, or those of the so-called “greatest generation”—a bunch whose white members were by and large a gaggle of miscreants who helped save the world from fascism only to return home and oppose the ending of it here, by doing nothing to lift a finger on behalf of the civil rights struggle.

So to hell with you and all who revere you.

By then, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Nothing, Senõr Tancredo.

Nothing, Senõra Angle, or Senõra Brewer, or Senõr Beck.

Loy tiene muy mal, hijo de Puta.

And by then you will have gone all in as a white nationalist movement—hell you’ve all but done that now—thus guaranteeing that the folks of color, and even a decent size minority of us white folks will be able to crush you, election after election, from the Presidency on down to the 8th grade student council.

Like I said, this shit is math, baby. And numbers don’t lie.

Bottom line, this too shall pass.

So enjoy your tax cuts a while longer.

Go buy whatever you people buy when your taxes get cut: a new car or two, a bigger house, an island. Whatever.

Go back to trading your derivatives, engaging in rampant financial speculation that produces nothing of value, that turns the whole world into your personal casino. Whatever.

Play your hand, and for the love of God play it big. Real big. As in, shoot for the moon big. As in, try to privatize Social Security, and health care, and everything else. Whatever.

At least that way everyone will be able to see what you’re really about.

We’ve been trying to tell them, but nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes, so “Go big or go home,” Bubba.

“Git ‘er Done.”

“Cowboy up,” or whatever other stupid-ass catch phrase strikes your fancy.

Just promise you’ll do more than talk this time.

Please, or as one of your celluloid heroes might put it, “make my day.”

Do whatever you gotta do, but remember that those who are the victims of your greed and indifference take the long view.

They know, but you do not, that justice is not for the sprinters, but rather for the long distance runners who will be hitting their second wind, right about the time that you collapse from exhaustion.

They are like the tortoise to your hare.

They are like the San Francisco Giants, to your New York Yankees: a bunch that loses year after year after year, until they finally win.

You have had this confidence before, remember?

You thought you had secured your position permanently after the overthrow of Reconstruction in the wake of the Civil War, after the elimination of the New Deal, after the Reagan revolution, after the Republican electoral victory of 1994. And yet, they who refuse to die are still here.

Because those who have lived on the margins, who have been abused, maligned, targeted by austerity measures and budget cuts, subjected to racism, classism, sexism, straight supremacy and every other form of oppression always know more about their abusers than the abusers know about their victims.

They have to study you, to pay careful attention, to adjust their body armor accordingly, and to memorize your sleep patterns.

You, on the other hand, need know nothing whatsoever about them. And this, will surely prove fatal to you in the end. For it means you will not know their resolve. Will not fear it, as you should.

It means you will take their greatest strength — perseverance — and make of it a weakness, called losing.

But what you forget, or more to the point never knew, is that those who lose know how to lose, which is to say they know how to lose with dignity.

And those who suffer know how to suffer, which is to say they know how to survive: a skill that is in short supply amid the likes of you.

You, who could not survive the thought of minimal health care reform, or financial regulation, or a marginal tax rate equal to that which you paid just ten years earlier, perhaps are under the illusion that everyone is as weak as you, as soft as you, as akin to petulant children as you are, as unable to cope with the smallest setback, the slightest challenge to the way you think your country should look and feel, and operate.

But, surprise . . . they are not.

And they know how to regroup, and plot, and plan, and they are planning even now—we are—your destruction.

And I do not mean by that your physical destruction. We don’t play those games. We’re not into the whole “Second Amendment remedies, militia, armed resistance” bullshit that your side fetishizes, cuz, see, we don’t have to be. We don’t need guns.

We just have to be patient.

And wait for your hearts to stop beating.

And stop they will.

And for some of you, real damned soon, truth be told.

Do you hear it?

The sound of your empire dying? Your nation, as you knew it, ending, permanently?

Because I do, and the sound of its demise is beautiful.

So know this.

If you thought this election was payback for 2008, remember . . .

Payback, thy name is . . .


3 November 2010

Source: TimWise

*   *   *   *   *

End of the Age of Obama

By Glen Ford

Let us pray (figuratively or literally) for gridlock, because all else is disaster. The best outcome that could result from Tuesday’s Democratic debacle is that the Republicans overreach and, in their white nationalist triumphalism, make it impossible for President Obama and congressional Democrats to reach an accommodation with rampaging reaction and racism.

The phony racial narrative of 2008 has been undone with the abrupt termination of the Age of Obama. After two short years, the illusion of a post-racial society has gone the way of all mirages—poof!—and we are forced to behold the United States as it actually exists.

Barack Obama’s totally predictable failure to lead the nation on a transformative path all but guaranteed that the United States would revert to default mode: rule by a plutocracy backed by a white electoral base intent on cutting off their own noses to spite Black and brown faces. The white nationalist backlash to the actual reality of a Black-led government—exemplified by but much larger than the Tea Party—was a reversion to type.

Only 43 percent of whites voted for Obama in 2008, despite general recoil at what the Republicans had wrought under George Bush. In large swaths of the Deep South, the white vote for Obama registered in the single digits and low teens. No one should have doubted that the forces of white supremacy would regroup after the 2008 anomaly, or that the Republicans, the White Man’s Party, would employ the racist tools and strategies that have kept them in the White House for 20 of the last 30 years.

There was every reason to expect that many whites would reflexively scapegoat Blacks and browns in the wake of the economic meltdown of 2008 unless there were some countervailing rallying call for mobilization around a larger, socially cohesive national mission: a massive jobs and public works program. President Obama, the corporate Democrat, chose instead to transfer trillions in public wealth to Wall Street, the salient act of his tenure that overwhelmed—and, in much of the public’s perception, was conflated with—his wholly inadequate stimulus effort. The long and revelatory health care grind showed Obama’s eagerness to deal in the dark with the hated insurance and drug companies, to concoct a plan that essentially requires everyone to pay for private insurance. Even in friendly quarters, the glow was gone from his presidency, while the billionaire Koch brothers and Rupert Murdock fanned the flames of race hatred through their Tea Party “movement.”

Progressives, of course, had no movement, having opted to become Obama’s groveling left flank, instead.

The corporate media wonder what will become of any future Obama initiatives with the House under firm Republican control and the Senate only nominally in Democratic hands. But, from a progressive standpoint, any new Obama initiatives should be feared like the plague. Even with Democrats in charge of both chambers of Congress, Obama persisted in attempting to forge a grand coalition with Republicans, which they steadfastly rebuffed. If he continues true to form in the next, much more troglodyte Congress—and there is no reason to think Obama won’t try—we will witness a repeat of the Clinton years, when a Democratic president oversaw passage of NAFTA, welfare "reform," vast expansion of the prison Gulag, and deregulation of Wall Street.

Obama had his own plans to go down in history as the president that “reined in” so-called entitlements: Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. On his own initiative, he caused the creation of a deficit cutting commission whose recommendations are due, next month. The president planned for commission members to threaten entitlements, whereupon he would position himself as the Great Compromiser and Conciliator, further weakening the safety net while pretending to salvage portions of it. But that was before Tuesday’s Republican tidal wave. In the new relationship of forces, an Obama attempt at triangulation on entitlements would invite utter catastrophe. We can only hope that the Republicans are so consumed with destroy-Obama fervor that they reject his entreaties to bipartisan collaboration. The people’s interests would best be served with the GOP

charging ahead with their own Neanderthal agenda, forcing Obama to respond with vetoes, if necessary. The people have no champion in the White House or the Congress. The best we can hope for is that the two evils cancel each other out. Let there be gridlock.

Glen Ford—BAR executive editor—can be contacted at

Source: BlackAgendaReport

*   *   *   *   *

Hunger for a Black President  / Biko Speaks on Africans  /  Introduction I Write What I Like

The Republicans Agenda Does Not Bode Well for the People

Podcast by Junious Ricardo Stanton

Open Note to President Barack Obama (Jerry W. Ward, Jr.)

*   *   *   *   *

Low Youth Turnout in Midterm Elections Is Blamed on Candidates—By Kelly Field—3 November 2010—Roughly 20 percent of Americans under the age of 30 voted in Tuesday's midterm elections, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The turnout was in the normal range for midterm elections, but three percentage points lower than 2006. Get-out-the-vote groups blamed the decline on candidates' failure to engage young voters.Chronicle

*   *   *   *   *

Polling and Experts Make Clear: Latino Voters Showed Up & Saved the Senate for the Democrats—4 November 2010—Mike Garcia, President, SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW), discussed how Latino voters provided the winning margin in California for Governor-elect Jerry Brown (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).  Garcia stated, "The politics we see now in California give a glimpse to the political future in other western states.  In California, where more than 1 in 5 voters are Latino, there's no doubt that Meg Whitman's anti-immigrant stance cost her the election.  Her flip-flop from the primary to the general and her support of SB1070 deeply offended Latino voters."

In Arizona, the scene of a heated debate over immigration, the Latino Decisions polling found that Latinos strongly oppose the SB1070 anti-immigrant law (by a margin of 74% - 17%), and that immigration (45%) polled ahead of jobs and the economy (41%) as a key motivating issue for voters.  Francisco Heredia, Arizona State Director of the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, said that, "As we move to 2012, Latinos will be increasingly motivated in Arizona politics and elections - and anti-Latino rhetoric will continue to be a major motivator for Latino voters." 

Meanwhile, Jessie Ulibarri, the Colorado State Director for the Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign, summed up the role of Latino voters in Colorado and beyond, saying, "We need to put to rest the idea that Latino community is a sleeping giant.  We are an ignored giant but no more.  Latino voters are informed and active all across Colorado and western states."CommonDreams

*   *   *   *   *

The Youth Vote: Still Pro-Democratic, Turnout Average for a Midterm Election—3 November 2010CNN reported in its exit poll that seniors over 65 made up 24% of the electorate in 2010. They made up 16% in 2008. This time, they voted 59% GOP. Last time, they voted 53%.

By contrast, voters under 29 still supported Democrats but didn’t show up in the same numbers as in 2008.

18-29-year-olds voted for Democrats over Republicans by 16 points (56-40) with 4% responding: “Other/No answer”

18-24-year-olds voted for Democrats over Republicans by 19 points (58-39) with 3% responding: “Other/No answer”

These are pretty robust numbers, while a drop from 2008 (66% of voters 18-29 supported Obama). But that can be attributed to turnout. Youth turnout was comparable to recent midterm years and remarkably stable. Youth didn’t vote more or less than they did, roughly speaking, than in other midterms. But they did vote less than they did in 2008. In 2008, youth voters made up 18% of the electorate; this year, they made up 11%.

You had an older electorate of angry voters who believed Obama stole their freedom and cut their Medicare. The results are pretty clear. While it’s slightly comforting to see the trend of young voters supporting Democrats in big numbers, it’s unclear that will always hold as people age.Firedoglake

*   *   *   *   *

How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms—By Timothy Egan—2 November 2010—Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama, as a senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must—or risk further meltdown.

Their response was to give themselves $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republicans this year. . . . And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives—insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.—NYTimes

Here 'tis.

One 90 year old elder, my mother, exercised her right to vote.  She remembers how hard it used to be and wasn't going to let an election go by without having her say.  Let's have one for the serious Nonagenearians!!

Good for Ced Richmond and folk in Louisiana who need a voice that will be concerned about the needs of everyone in the part of the state that he represents.  He KNOWS that he'll hear from the constituency about doing his job.

My brother, Gary the movie buff, gets the credit for saying, (on November 3), "The President must feel like the Sheriff of Rock Ridge", and Cleavon Little's face came to mind. I also thought of what Richard Pryor would have said . . . "These m#@%$^&*%$s have gone crazy..."

I listened as John Q. ranted but edited out the expletives..

Someone actually said "It's over!" on November 3rd.  The other person said No sh*****t, you don't really believe that?"  I edited.  Most of the politically savvy know that it's really just getting started.  The Republican machine starts its attacks seriously in January and the Dems have to get over their "wussiness" and off the pot if they plan to make a stand in 2012.  By the way, if we were in a real post racial society, would the conservatives, instead of railing about the "black" president, acknowledge that the man is biracial and was raised by his white grandparents.  Black folk don't seem to mind his "whiteness" as long as he does something for everyone but the tea people seem to have laced their Earl Gray with some Aunty Blacque. Thank goodness for alternate parties and independent critical thinkers.—Chuck

*   *   *   *   *

New Call for Letters for sequel to Go, Tell Michelle‏

By Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Barbara Seals Nevergold

Why White America Perhaps Fears Michelle More Than Barack

Excerpts from a “Jack & Jill politics” newsletter  

Open Note to President Barack Obama (Jerry W. Ward, Jr.)

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 March 2012




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Related files: They’re Counting on Your Silence, on Amnesia   Your Whiteness is Showing   Tim Wise on the Creation of Whiteness  / Olbermann: Bush Speech Unforgiveable