Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the
Obama's Greatest Speeches (CD set)
* * *
Barack Obama, et al
* * *
Post Midterm Election Press Conference
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
Mitch McConnell that I look forward to working with
them. And I thanked
Nancy Pelosi and
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
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
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
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.
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
* * *
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
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
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
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
Boehner and I and
Mitch McConnell 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.
* * *
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
Guthrie: Would you still resist the notion that
voters rejected the policy choices you made?
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
* * *
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.
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
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.
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
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.
* * *
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
* * *
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?
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.
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
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.
Is there anything in the “Pledge to America” that you
think you can support?
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
* * *
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
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
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
So my goal is to
sit down with Speaker-elect
Mitch McConnell 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.
So you’re willing to negotiate?
President Obama: Absolutely.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
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—
—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.
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
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
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: Thank you, Mr. President. I want
to ask if you’re going to have
Boehner over for a Slurpee, but I actually have a
President Obama: I
might serve—they’re delicious drinks. (Laughter.)
The Slurpee Summit?
President Obama: The
Slurpee Summit—that’s good, Chuck. I like that.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
* * * *
Books by Tim Wise
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a
Privileged Son /
Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White
* * *
Letter to the White Right
On the Occasion of Your Recent,
Successful Temper Tantrum
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.
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.
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
‘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
Fair enough, and have at it. But
remember how this movie ends.
Our ankles survive.
You do not.
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
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
Because you’re on the endangered
And unlike, say, the bald eagle or
some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth
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
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
So to hell with you and all who
By then, half the country will be
black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about
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
Go buy whatever you people buy when
your taxes get cut: a new car or two, a bigger house, an
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
They are like the
San Francisco Giants, to your New York Yankees: a bunch
that loses year after year after year, until they
You have had this confidence
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
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
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
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
* * *
End of the
Age of Obama
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.
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
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
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
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
* * * * *
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
to President Barack Obama (Jerry W. Ward, Jr.)
* * * * *
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
* * *
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
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 2010—CNN
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
By contrast, voters under 29
still supported Democrats but didn’t show up in the same numbers as in
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 $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to
Republicans this year. . . . And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that
attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the
institutions that have so much control over their lives—insurance
companies, Wall Street and big oil.—NYTimes
One 90 year old
elder, my mother, exercised her right to
vote. She remembers how hard it used to
be and wasn't going to let an election
go by without having her say. Let's
have one for the serious Nonagenearians!!
Good for Ced Richmond and folk in
Louisiana who need a voice that will be
concerned about the needs of everyone in
the part of the state that he
represents. He KNOWS that he'll hear
from the constituency about doing his
My brother, Gary the movie buff, gets
the credit for saying, (on November 3),
"The President must feel like the
Sheriff of Rock Ridge", and Cleavon
Little's face came to mind. I also
thought of what Richard Pryor would have
said . . . "These m#@%$^&*%$s have gone
I listened as John Q. ranted but edited
out the expletives..
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
* * *
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
to President Barack Obama (Jerry W. Ward, Jr.)
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
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.
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
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
* * * * *
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.—
* * * * *
The White Masters
of the World
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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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 /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding
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update 5 March 2012