”The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper’s son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.
Three years ago, Michelle and I hosted a blues concert at the White House. I hadn’t expected that I’d be talked into singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn’t do – but will always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there’s going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight.”
– President Barack Obama
The blues are not about depression. The blues are about finding joy and life in the face of sorrow. And BB King sang about life and love. In honor of his life, a night owl chat.
So, Senator Elizabeth Warren and presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders have been on the warpath over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its attendant fast track trade authority. In doing so, they have engendered much support among the usual—and some not-so-usual—sectors. Namely, the people who always thought Barack Obama was a sell-out to corporate special interests, evidenced by him not frog-marching Jamie Dimon and other banksters to stand for federal indictments over the 2008 meltdown.
A funny thing happened, though, which should have been predictable to anyone who has seen Pres. Obama operate for the past 7 years: he fought back.
Matt Bai of Yahoo has an illuminating interview with the President over TPP and the opposition to it from members of his own party, led by Sen. Warren.
As many of us on the “Obot” side have been saying:
“Think about the logic of that, right?” he went on. “The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2007, 2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?
“I’d have to be pretty stupid,” Obama said, laughing. “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”
It’s the idea that Pres. Obama would cavalierly undo one of his signature achievements—setting up rules so that 2008 didn’t happen again, rules which he plucked an obscure academic named Elizabeth Warren to help implement—to coddle the same Wall Street is ludicrous on its face.
Well, we now have two declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. (If we’re being charitable, three, but who’s counting Lincoln Chafee?)
Hillary Clinton is on her “listening tour” (didn’t she do that in 2008?), and seems to be listening somewhat. She gave a speech calling for the end of mass incarceration; a mass incarceration she called for back when her husband was president. But, people change, that was 20 years ago, and being the good rationalist I am I will keep an open mind. I’m certainly not going to dismiss her out of hand if she wins the nomination, because the thought of someone more conservative and unhinged than Antonin Scalia taking his seat on the Supreme Court should give even the most side-eyed Democratic Clinton-hater a bucket-full of pauses.
And then we have Bernie Sanders. I really don’t know why he’s running. He might have made an impact as an independent; but, props to him, he didn’t want to split the left vote, so he’s giving it the old college try. But an old guy with unkempt hair who looks like he should be feeding the pigeons probably won’t have the financial wherewithal to take on the Koch/Adelson money machine (something Hillary will have no problem doing should she win). Bernie running is part vanity, and part to get his issues out beyond his acolytes. (This is assuming that the media give him any attention, even if he is running as a Democrat. The media is good at ignoring those who are inconvenient.)
Some are rooting for Deval Patrick to enter. Many are pinning their hopes on Martin O’Malley. And, of course, there’s always Jim Webb. (I jest.)
Those were President Barack Obama’s words yesterday at an Organizing for America meeting as he fought back against his critics over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The criticism from supposed “allies” like Elizabeth Warren, Allan Grayson, and the labor movement has increased in vitriol and volume.
“Show us the bill!”
“Why is it secret!?”
“This is NAFTA 2!!”
Everyone agrees that no one has seen anything of the deal aside from the summary. And, in perusing the summary, I don’t see anything which approaches an excuse for the Gotterdammerung levels of hysteria.
“It’s being negotiated in secret! It must be bad!”
Name me one treaty which has been negotiated live on C-SPAN.
“NAFTA was awful, so all trade pacts are awful!”
This is a very parochial view. Without growing trade, the economy won’t grow. And NAFTA provides lessons in how not to forge a trade pact, which Pres. Obama is following.
“There are no wage/labor/environmental protections!”
That’s just false. The summary shows this. You can only believe this if you, without evidence, assume the summary is false propaganda.
And that last point leads into the meat of the essay.
Earlier this week, Starbucks—in a misguided PR stunt—announced that it would direct its employees to initiate conversations on race with customers.
The company received much derision for this initiative. It seemed less of an honest effort to engender difficult conversations than as a way to make the company look good to its core clientele. And the idea of forcing $8/hr baristas to initiate fraught conversations with people who might either not be receptive or violently hostile had an air of feudal lords imposing extra work on their serfs.
If Starbucks were truly interested in starting discussions on race, one place to start would be why its executive positions are staffed mostly by whites.
However, the hamhandedness of #RaceTogether does bring up one glaring point: We ignore the elephant in the room.