Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's Got Obama's Back?

Unike the Tea Party, which was born when the alien/socialist enemy held all three of Washington’s elected redoubts, Occupy Wall Street inhabits a different political world, one whose most prominent figure, the President, has fallen short of not only many Occupiers’ hopes but also his own—in large part because of the Republicans’ conscienceless exploitation of the perverse veto points of the congressional machine.
--Hendrick Herzberg, Nov. 7 New Yorker

Unlike Herzberg, whose commentary I do follow and highly value, I don’t think it’s as important when the Tea Party was born as why it was born. It was born because a black man became President of the United States. When it was born, the Tea Party was full of low information white people who never even noticed what George Bush and the Republicans did to the economy and didn’t know what a debt ceiling was. And they darn sure never dreamed Barack Obama would win the presidency, especially up against such a powerhouse ticket as John McCain and Sarah Palin. But when he did win, they hit the roof. They wanted to go to presidential rallies carrying a loaded automatic weapon because sometimes the tree of liberty needs to be watered with the blood of tyrants and to them Obama was apparently a tyrant though he hadn’t been in office two months. There were cartoons of a monkey shot by cops. They spit on black congressmen as they entered the capitol building. That was the Tea Party, and more sophisticated right wingers harnessed their racist anger and gave them a code to talk in. Republicans invented that code.

Why would the Tea Party declare war on the social safety net that we've assembled for the sick, disabled, aging and poor in this country.

Why would all these Tea Partiers stand for the ruin of the middle class by banks, Wall Street, and the richest 1% (and what proportion of that 1% do you suppose is white?)? Why would they want to cut off all revenue to the government, a completely nutty idea? Why would they oppose health care reform so somebody besides Big Pharma gets well? The reason is the Tea Party is a bunch of low-information disgruntled people who hate people who are different from them, and there is a rope through their nose ring, the other end of which is attached to Karl Rove, George Bush's brain as he was once referred to, and a group of Republican elected officials who never liked democracy anyway. Those elected officials have no plan to say yes to anything. Famously they vote with uniform consistency against bills they know have bipartisan support and that they themselves wrote and proposed.

They were never this obvious before. A black guy in the White House was the last straw. Senseless primitive racial hate has been harnessed in favor of the Republican agenda. This is the last cornered snake in the big barn. It's been in hiding since Martin Luther King's death and we've made progress. You can't say we haven't made progress. Barack Obama didn't win the Presidency by just a little and that event was unthinkable only a very few years before it happened. His election has flushed out some really bad stuff we collectively still have in us. Nobody in our big world of punditry and opinion expressing says that racism is at the core of our problem today. The very fact it isn't being said let's you know how dark this place is inside us. Barack Obama cannot say he's a victim of racism, and there’s nobody watching his back who will say it for him. Black activists in the US know better than to call a snake a snake. If they do, it's "game on" and they're gonna need more than a pitchfork.

That is what we're up against. For the country's mental health, it has to be named, it must be said aloud. It will be painful.

Tonight on Hardball, Chris Matthews was faulting Obama for not reaching out to democratic congressmen and senators. “Why doesn’t he have them over and play cards and have a drink with them and get them to help him?” Chris said, “He needs to be more like Kennedy, skillful at the politics of politics. Why does he try to do all of it by himself?” Chris was selling his book on John Kennedy. Matthews virtually said, “Why doesn’t Barack have a brother right there with him, like Kennedy had Robert kicking ass for him?” Uh-huh. Think about it.

They both got shot.

Why does Barack have to have a drink with congressmen and senators in his own party to get them to fight the Republicans as they, the Republicans, dismantle the system and the middle class on a singular, pre-announced mission to bring down the President using parliamentary stunts to stop everything, everything, every single thing? You know, that's actually a threat to the security of the US -- when the depression really hits, that will be obvious. Do you know this has never happened before? The country is being strangled, and the economy is being intentionally crashed by a bunch of flag waving know-nothings and their quite evil leaders. Occupy Wall Street is the beginning of a giant reaction, a revolution. A massive number of people are losing their jobs and houses, states are going broke, taxes are the lowest ever and are off the table for negotiation because NO is the answer, period. We can no longer afford to have America be America, and the black guy is why. Social security, medicare, people’s retirement accounts, it’s all gonna go. And if the Tea Party and the richest one percent don’t stop it with this crap they're pulling, it is for sure gonna get loud. I'd prefer for us to win the next election and get the snakes outta there that way.

It is shocking how little empathy is being shown to anybody, and I think that is one of OWS's main issues. Republicans are cold. People this cold are very dangerous. It's okay with them if people remain unemployed another couple of years or decades. People in democratic districts all across the country, let alone in Republican districts, are not being represented, their pain isn't pain, it's just discomfort. Wounded veterans home from Bush’s dumb wars will be jobless and desperate and, pretty darn soon, pissed off. Why does Barack Obama have to play cards with senators on his own team so they get behind the jobs act and fixing infrastructure and not killing public schools? Why aren’t the democratic senators and congressmen raising holy hell? Cat got their tongue? Why don’t the democratic senators and congressmen have the President’s back, I mean in a Giant Ted Kennedy way? In fact, if they can’t get by the filibuster, why don’t they just walk out (as happened in the legislature in Wisconsin) -- pull on their jeans and get some earmuffs and flock down to Wall Street themselves? Their usefulness in their elected office seems over. Getting whipped like that by Republicans would make me awful mad, if I were in there. I'd go down and join the protest. But if the democratic elected officials are stumped and can't do anything, including can't raise hell, that pretty much explains why they've left their president swinging in the wind by himself.

Or, can it be that congressmen and senators in both parties, in significant numbers, are part of the 1%, and/or are inextricably in bed with the rich? Is the system that fucked?

Occupy Wall Street is positive it is.

They, therefore, don't want to be co-opted by, associated with, or pigeon-holed by any party. They certainly don’t want to get swallowed by business-as-usual do-nothing politics in Washington and find themselves up against the expressionless dim gaze of Speaker Boehner. They want action and now they will force it. It's getting cold out. They blame Wall Street for the crimes that gave us a brush with a world depression, a close call that is still a close call, but trust me, for a lot of these people it IS a depression, and yes they blame Wall Street but also they blame the Republicans -- they’re basically the same machine, just two different interconnected parts of it. And they do have each others' backs.

I hope somebody in the Occupy movement realizes that Barack Obama is a very well-placed ally for what they want to accomplish, the best and best-placed ally they could ever have. But divided we cannot stand, and we have been successfully divided. If OWS wants Mitt Romney to be president, and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to have a victory parade in 2012 which the Occupy movement can watch from a tent city somewhere in a warm climate, they should hurry off and find a third party candidate who in their daydreams can do so much better against congress than Obama has done alone, and we’ll all lose and the country will make Karl Rovian "progress" backwards to the glory days of Calvin Coolidge when human beings and dinosaurs dwelled the earth together..

Instead, OWS should meet with Obama this week, play cards with him and have a beer, and they should plan to crush those democracy-hating bastards in 2012 and get us going again -- 99% is a lot of people. Hopefully the Republicans won't be able to stop a significant number of them from expressing their will at the polls, one of their more telling anti-minority, anti-democracy, anti-constitution conspiracies that for some reason nobody can do anything about. Jesus.

Anyway. We have a fully functioning progressive articulate and ready to move on the issues that brought OWS into the streets. In fact, in his famous September speech to Congress, he invited this uprising, he said get up, get out and express yourselves. It was his only choice, to by-pass congress and call on the people for action. Now, for weeks he's been sending signals to OWS that he wants what they want (he's been working around congress by signing executive orders because nothing can get done at all unless he does). OWS needs to go see him. There is still time. They don't need to distance themselves from him like everyone else has. By no stretch of the imagination is he the problem. OWS should walk a mile in Barack's shoes. Occupy the White House, see what it's like being America's first black president.


  1. Thanks for this. You're right, of course.

    I am trying not to be cynical and pessimistic, but I feel like we're at some evolutionary tipping point, and that it could go either way. It just seems to me that the sides are lining in extreme ways and it comes down to: are we going to be a society with empathy -- or not?

    Isn't it interesting that the TPs have their own black guy who tells them there is no racism in America? That if you're unemployed it's your own darn fault?

    OWS has made me more hopeful that we'll go the right way at this evolutionary turning point. I hear a lot these days about how "social entrepreneurship" programs at colleges are full and expanding. This means there are kids who want to go into business to help society and who want to conduct business in a moral way. That gives me great hope, too.

    But man, it will come down to the voting booth now more than ever. So we have to get people who are on the empathy side there. It may be a flawed process, and our representatives--and the President--may be flawed, but it's the only chance we've got.

  2. "Or, can it be that congressmen and senators in both parties, in significant numbers, are part of the 1%, and/or are inextricably in bed with the rich? Is the system that fucked?"

    This. Yes, I believe so.

    Intensely thought provoking, Phil.