The results of Tuesday’s “earth shattering” election are quite revelatory, but not for the reasons bruited about by your average MSNBC/Fox/CNN vacuous pundit.
Although President Obama won’t use the word—and bless him for it—it was a “shellacking” which the voters meted out to the Democratic Party. But let’s examine this “mandate” a bit further.
The turnout for the midterm election stands at 36%, a low not seen since the 1940s. That’s 36% of registered voters. Voter registration in its turn doesn’t encompass all eligible voters. This Al Jazeera article has this telling paragraph:
Election turnout is often cited as an indicator of the strength of the mandate of winning candidates, but it can be a misleading statistic: Turnout is usually measured as a proportion of registered voters rather than of those eligible to vote — and census numbers show that more than 70 million U.S. citizens of voting age are not registered voters.
Get that? 70 million Americans who are eligible to vote aren’t even registered. What does this mean? That the number of registered voters is at best a bare majority of eligible voters. And then that the voters who turned out were a minority of that number. And then that the GOP “landslide” depended on a further minority of registered voters, which in turn doesn’t account for all eligible voters.
This opens up a veritable cornucopia of delicious dysfunction.
A more generous man than me may, at some point, feel some sympathy for Speaker John Boehner. He’s a man who has ascended to a rather great height from very low beginnings, but can’t seem to do anything right.
His tenure as speaker after the Tea Party revolt of 2010 has been nothing but a comedy of errors. From shutting down the government to quixotically seeking to overturn Obamacare, his speakership has been a litany of failure.
And now he’s embarked on possibly his greatest failure of all: suing President Barack Obama for doing his job, where the Speaker has failed to do his.
Last night the House GOP voted to sue President Obama. The meat of the lawsuit: the President’s delay of the implementation of the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. It’s Mr. Boehner’s contention that Pres. Obama overstepped his authority by delaying the mandate for a year.
Let that sink in for a moment. Mr. Boehner is suing Pres. Obama for not fully implementing part of a law which the Speaker and his fellow Republicans have voted over 50 times to repeal. The House GOP has finally slid into the realm of Dada, suing to “uphold” a law it loathes.
Mr. Boehner must have good lawyers who are telling him that he and his merry band have no standing to bring the suit. They won’t be able to show where they were harmed by Pres. Obama’s executive action. The ACA allows for delays in implementation if they serve the law’s purposes. And, of course, the first judge before whom this suit appears may well wonder why Mr. Boehner is suing Pres. Obama for failing to fully enact a law which Mr. Boehner has spent four years trying to undo.
But of course, this isn’t about suing Pres. Obama.
Something about President Obama in the video that surfaced from a gym in Poland this past week struck a chord with me. It was his groggy ordinariness as he peered mouth agape at the dumbbells possibly trying to mentally convert the metric weight measurements into our familiar imperial system. You could tell that he too like many of us was trying hard to drag his body kicking and screaming to do what his mind told him he MUST do – exercise for body and sanity’s sake. President Obama is no superhuman. The grimace on his face as he performed his routine in the gym told us that. Like us, he’d rather be doing something else. Mortal. Aging body.
The difference? He stuck with and plodded through his mission in the gym. No fanfare. No frills. Just keeping body and bloodstream functioning. Thirty minutes, we’re told he stayed there. Then next, he was suit-clad meeting European leaders. Meanwhile, all hell was breaking loose back stateside with GOP wingnut feral dogs viciously hounding a POW’s family with death threats, and an “all American” hometown into canceling a soldier’s homecoming celebration. A fashionably cynical postmodern schlock might probably find some grizzly irony in the juxtaposition of dumbbells gripped by a President’s sweaty hands in a Polish gym, and celebration buntings for a soldier’s return hurriedly torn down in an Idaho town scurrying into hiding as it is gripped by fear of the frightwing mob.
This is our globalized world now of instantaneous communication, of a cacophony of events, vignettes and frozen images, of picture-snapping presidential oglers, and armed lynchmobs prowling for blood who’ve been set loose by hate-jocks saturating our airwaves — all jostling for our attention. All at once.
How does one stay true to a moral compass in the midst of this din, and extremes? How does one exercise strategic restraint in the face of blatant rightwing provocation? Difficult of all, how does one do all that AS LEADER of a diverse nation whose only glue is the pledge of CITIZENSHIP and creed – “all men (and women) are created equal”?
In the run-up to the 2008 election, when so much hyperbole and thrills were running up some media legs (nothing sincere except to milk the rising African American political whiz for ratings gold), Candidate Obama modestly saw himself as a “transitional leader”. What did he mean? Few paid attention at the time, yet the clues lie in his book “Audacity of Hope” in which he described America reaching critical crossroads at which she either soars or fragments. To set this country soaring, Obama believed the toxic gunk that had trapped our nation in a thicket of policy, structural, and ideological dysfunction needed to be cleaned out. His Mama had taught him that when you see a problem you tackle it and not wait for someone else to solve it.
Yesterday, the House voted to provide subsidies for summertime children’s lunches only to “rural areas”. That wasn’t even a dog whistle, it was an out and out statement of racism.
A few days ago, a New Hampshire police commissioner not only called President Barack Obama a “n***er”, but defended his statement, saying that the President fit his definition for one. He refused to resign until just a couple of days ago.
Today, Mark Cuban admitted to “biases”. He could cross the street—in what I’m sure is a gated, nearly all-white community—if he saw a young black man in a hoodie coming towards him. Of course, if that young black man in a hoodie had a 42-inch vertical leap, I’m sure he’d take the time to sign him to a contract.
It seems as if the past few weeks have seen an explosion of insanity. As Pres. Obama succeeds in the face of unparalleled obstruction—Obamacare, the economy, isolating Russia—certain sectors of this country have decided on a scorched earth policy. If they can’t exercise untrammeled power, if the country elects and re-elects Pres. Obama, then burn everything, like Russians retreating before Napoleon.
It can be forgiven if one gets to feel downtrodden. The forces arrayed against progress are not minor. They have almost unlimited funding. They drive media narratives. They more or less own five Justices on the Supreme Court. The scenario would prove daunting and depressive to even the hardiest souls.
Teranga means “Welcome” in Wolof, the predominant language. And the people living on this Westernmost bulge of the African continent truly are some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever know. Climactically, however, Senegal is the Western Hemisphere’s house of horrors, as many of our hurricanes are birthed off Senegal’s coast when hot dry Sahara and Sahel winds meet southerly cold North Atlantic winds plus moisture from the warm Atlantic Ocean currents, The ITCZ clash zone known as The Doldrums , to form the building blocks of storms
Yet nothing takes one’s breath away more than standing on the craggy Senegalese coast in the evening and seeing the copper-gold sunset over the rambunctious Atlantic ocean. No wonder Senegal’s world famous poet and first post-colonial President, Leopold Senghor, called this land his “Childhood Kingdom” whose heartbeat is the Tam Tam (talking drum).
Senghor’s eyes, though were mesmerized by the beauty of Senegalese women. His famously erotic poem, Black Woman, published in his 1948 Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache , became a historical landmark for placing the African woman on a pedestal as a worthy model of beauty, thus challenging the centuries-old denigration of black women as antithesis of ideal white femininity.
“Naked woman, black woman
Dressed in your color that is life, in your form that is beauty! I grew up in your shadow. The softness of your hands Shielded my eyes, and now at the height of Summer and Noon, From the crest of a charred hilltop I discover you, Promised Land And your beauty strikes my heart like an eagle’s lightning flash. […snip] Naked woman, dark woman Oil no breeze can ripple, oil soothing the thighs Of athletes and the thighs of the princes of Mali Gazelle with celestial limbs, pearls are stars Upon the night of your skin. delight of the mind’s riddles, The reflections of red gold from your shimmering skin In the shade of your hair, my despair Lightens in the close suns of your eyes.”
“THERE is no shortage of economic growth in Africa. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies of the past decade are in sub-Saharan Africa. A clutch of countries have enjoyed growth in income per person of more than 5% a year since 2007.”
Dakar, Senegal (c) mostroneddo
Nothing demonstrates the vapidity of the corporate media than the rancid ignorance they display when they are gung-ho to score cheap shots at President Obama on important matters, rather than do basic research!!!
And so it is that on Pres. Obama undertaking a long overdue working visit to three countries on the continent of Africa, the corporate media including FOXNews universe display once again the national embarrassment that they have become. But for the fact that they’d bleat about threats to their “First Amendment Rights”, I’d rather Pres Obama left them behind to indulge in muffin stories and similar shiny objects they chase best. Foreign media ALWAYS outshine ours anyway, so their absence would actually improve the media pool at these foreign pressers. And the public would be better informed for it.
So cynical journos like David Nakamura of @WAPO , and colleagues at AtlanticWire @NYT , Moonie News, @ABC, @NBC, @MSNBC, @CBS, @CNN, @FOX, @YahooNews, here are 12 FACTS to get into their heads before they utter any more inanities about the President’s trip to Africa, and carping endlessly about “costs of trip” versus sequestered White House tours. Without the 80% of Coltan produced from the Congo belt running your iPhone/iPad or other tablet LED screens, they’d be pecking away at an old typewriter (well, assuming even the steel in the machine’s housing isn’t from African iron ore).
We are talking about Africa in the 21st Century, not some Henry Stanley 19th century racist travelogue you read about “natives doing quaint tribal dances”, or as the late Literary maestro Chinua Achebe snarkily penned at the end of his seminal novel Things Fall Apart, the colonizer’s version of history in which the indigenous African only warrants a passing line about his own history. No we are talking about a forward moving continent, warts and all that brooks no nonsense from anybody, superpower or not!
The off-year election calendar is already hurtling full steam ahead and we better get in the trenches.Julian Castro (D) already won re-election in San Antonio last month. Great, but we have got a lot of work to do NOW. Ed Markey needs a helping hand for June 25 senate elections in MA, as does Steve Ortega in the El Paso mayoral election on June 16, 2013.
Bedwetters are gonna wet beds, GG-Grifters gonna grift, Code Pink & the Sturtzes are gonna heckle, but their tantrums don’t translate into political power. In fact, that’s their business model to parasite off Democrats in power. They thrive in the political sewer. For us 99%ers, Voting, Organizing and Long Term strategizing are the ONLY means to power. It is in our economic interest to STOP Republicans at every level from getting power and doing very bad things to us little people. Raining hellfire on the nuisance Greenwalds and Sturtzes or whatever is the GOP/corporate media fauxrage of the week, is cathartic fly-swatting every once in a while, but it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if we liberals do NOT hold power.
President Obama was handily reelected and we have an Agenda to enact for the American people at the national level. But state and Local elections are even more important in off-years. That’s where the most damage is done. Democrats fail to take these bread and butter races seriously, then watch American Taliban elected unopposed to statewide offices.
Koch brothers & ALEC are vampires destroying democratic (with a small ‘d’) governance in devastating ways at the local level. They’ve bought state legislatures at bargain basement prices who are dismantling our commonweal brick by brick as we speak. Democrats should NEVER cede any territory uncontested to Republicans. Not on schoolboards (that’s how we got the odious Texas curriculum change nightmare & Arizona ban of Hispanic Studies), or District Judges, or City Council, or Land/Agric Commissioner, or poisonous Ballot initiatives.
The last category lies at the core of GOP base mobilization tactics. Bush used anti-gay ballot initiatives to drive religious fundamentalists to the polls and won reelection in 2004. We have to be similarly savvy to rally against odious Initiatives and also craft some ourselves to advance our interests and mobilize our base.
So let’s get to it. Bookmark this post. Find a campaign or two to volunteer on THIS year. Heck, consider running for some local races yourself. Why Not? Have you heard the caliber of wingnuts who flood City Hall or school board? If we don’t challenge them, they make decisions that destroy our kids’ education, ruin our tax revenue projections, and sell off our towns and cities to the corporate cabal, democracy be damned (See Michigan and weep!)