Tag Archives: Barack Obama

“Strange Fruit” – and the Election of 2020

May 29, 2020

In the final two years of Barack Obama’s second term as President, the accelerated increase in unjustifiable police violence and brutality against the African-American population intertwined itself with right-wing, festering resentment at Obama’s success as a mainstream politician. In retrospect, it seems all too obvious that the deaths of Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Michael Brown and Philando Castile presaged the popularity of Trump as a candidate: “Not everyone who voted for Trump in November, 2016 was a racist; but every racist who voted on that first Tuesday cast his or her ballot for Trump.”

But let us consider that the hanging of President Obama in effigy at a major college football game in 2016 was just the culmination of a long sequence of outright disdain for him by racist operatives. Ask yourself: how many death threats did Obama receive in the first two years of his first term? How many death threats did Donald Trump receive in his first two years? The disparity in the numbers of threats leads to a fairly obvious conclusion: the hostility towards African-Americans evident in the recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery is simply a continuation of a pattern of violence and intimidation that shows no sign of letting up.

I don’t believe that Floyd’s and Arbery’s deaths and the growing likelihood that a white man (Donald Trump) and his coterie might lose their grip on power are merely a coincidence. The deaths of Floyd and Artery reflect the anxiety of white supremacist power caught in the crossfire of historical change. These same people are terrified that the next President is someone who is considering an African-American woman to be vice-president. Just the thought that an African-American woman — let’s hear it for Stacey Abrams! — might become vice-President is enough to send these people into a frenzy. Among many other matters, they rightly fear that an accounting will be demanded for how the Pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color and how that report might lead to radical changes in the health care system.

This is the “context” for the deaths of Floyd and Arbery.

While the recorded videos of their deaths gain the most traction in social media, I would urge us to pay even closer attention to the voices of the day-to-day struggle for dignity in the African-American community:

“For those of you who are tired of reading about racism, trust me when I say this — I’m tired of writing about it.” — LZ GRANDERSON

“Strange Fruit” …. and counting

George Floyd — May 25, 2020
Ahmaud Marquez Arbery — February 23, 2020

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Alton Sterling — July 5, 2016
Philando Castile — July 6, 2016
Gregory Gunn, 58 — February 25, 2016
Samuel DuBose, 43 — July, 2015
Brendon Glenn, 29 — May, 2015
Freddie Gray, 25 — April, 2015
Natasha McKenna, 37 — February, 2015
Walter Scott, 50 — April, 2015
Christian Taylor, 19 — August, 2015
Michael Brown Jr., 18 — August, 2014
Ezell Ford, 25 – August, 2014
Eric Garner, 43 — July 17, 2014
Akai Gurley, 28 — February 11, 2014
Laquan McDonald, 17 — October 20, 2014
Tamir Rice, 12 — Nov. 22, 2014
Yvette Smith, 47 — Feb. 16, 2014
Jamar Clark, 24 — November 2013
Rekia Boyd, 22 — March 21, 2012
Shereese Francis, 29 — March 15, 2012
Ramarly Graham, 18 — Feb. 2, 2012
Manuel Loggins Jr., 31 — February 7, 2012

*. *. *. *. *



Jelani Cobb is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.”

The Death of George Floyd, in Context by Jelani Cobb. May 28, 2020


In this article, it should be noted that Mr. Cobb cites another death at the hands of police officers that deserves our scrutiny:
“Breonna Taylor, a twenty-six-year-old African-American E.M.T., was shot to death in her apartment by officers who were conducting a drug raid at what her family said was the wrong address.” This kind of thing happens in Los Angeles, too.

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*. *. *. *. *

Just in case anyone wonders whether the right-wing think tanks and their associated publications have not been engaged in a not-so-covert operation that attempts to rebut the critiques of the predatory surveillance of African-Americans, here’s a very recent example of their efforts. If only someone had the legal authority to force Ms. Mac Donald to watch — non-stop – a tape loop of George Floyd’s death! Four straight hours! Then a lunch break, and four more hours. I doubt it would change her mind about anything, but if she were allowed to invite friends over to watch with her, it might be interesting to have a documentary film crew on hand to record the conversation.


There Is No Epidemic of Racist Police Shootings
Heather Mac Donald July 31, 2019 1:54 PM
HEATHER MAC DONALD is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of THE DIVERSITY DELUSION.

The President-Elect and the Inflationary Crisis of 2018

Saturday, August 6, 2016


The presidential election dial has been set to the volume level of “monotony,” and it is only early August. The thought of having to endure another three months of political posturing is more than cruel and unusual punishment. Does anyone really need a debate at this point between Trump and Clinton? During the GOP primary debates, the entire nation saw how Trump treated political opponents, and most of the nation should be able to vouch for how well Hillary Clinton held her own in debating Barack Obama, who has gone on to become a fairly popular president. Is anything to be gained from Trump’s attempt to impose a vitriolic conversation onto prime time?

My anguish is genuine. This election seems like an animal afflicted with a terminal disease. Please, I beg of the electorate, euthanize this election’s interminable, pointless campaigning. Hold the vote now. Declare a state of national emergency in which everyone gets two days off. On the first day, everyone should sit down and think about their vote, and then the next day vote.

With sanity restored, those who voted for Clinton can quietly celebrate and those who preferred someone else (which is, in fact, the majority of people who regard themselves as Republicans) can begin to figure out how to move forward from here. For the most part, in fact, the “historical” aspect of Clinton’s election will soon fade from the public sphere, and will primarily surface within the more private, domestic evolution of feminist history as it continues to affect the Millennials and their daughters and sons.

In electing a proud policy wonk, in fact, let’s cut to the chase. President-elect Hillary Clinton will face an unusual situation: she will be the first Democrat to be elected President in the past sixty years to have a fairly good economy in place on her inauguration day. Note that I didn’t say it was a “solid” or “vibrant” economy, but compare the economy of the past four years with the following Presidential terms:

1972-1976 – Presidents Nixon and Ford — Does no one except me and academic economists remember the WIN buttons of 1975? “Whip Inflation Now.” The recession of 1974 was the first economic punch in the gut of young baby boomers, and little did we realize how harder future punches were too get.

1980 – 1988 – The Recession of 1982 ended up with unemployment topping 12 percent. If anyone doubts that Reagan was born with a golden voice and an ability to make any critic look unpatriotic, then consider how easily he won reelection with a dismal economy squeezing every working person’s kitchen table. The savings and loan crisis in 1987-1988 just about torpedoed his vice-president’s candidacy, but negative campaigning won the day for the first President Bush.

1988-1992 – The first Bush presidency ended with an economy that was reeling so badly that Bill Clinton should have won much more handily than he did.

2000-2008 – When the second President Bush left office, he would have been thrilled if the economy of the country had only been as dismal as it was back in 1992, under his father’s administration.

All of this is to say that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all took office when the nation had experienced some degree of recession in the previous four years, ranging from a significant economic contraction to one so grave that it verged on catastrophe for the wealthy, and was an outright catastrophe for working people.

In contrast, President-elect Hillary Clinton will be called upon to manage a different kind of crisis, and I am puzzled as to why no one has yet brought this up. Jimmy Carter ended up serving as President for only one term in large part because the rampant inflation of the late 1970s was even more debilitating than the recession under President Ford. How will Hillary Clinton manage to help workers, whose wages have long been held down, gain a greater share of economic prosperity without initiating another round of inflation? In answering that question, she will need to remember the consequences of inflation on the baby boomer generation, a huge swath of which will be in peril of seeing their retirement years sink into the morass of ignominious poverty. Pay raises for working people are long overdue, but if the minimum age becomes $15 an hour, how will those on the fixed incomes of social security ever survive the inevitable inflation to follow?

These are questions that President-Elect Hillary Clinton needs to answer as soon as possible, if she wants to overcome the distrust that many people have of her, including those who intend to vote for her. I await her immediate response.