Congressional Black Caucus Stands for Jobs in Black Community
College Student Anxiety on the Rise
Fall of Libyan Leader Raises New Concerns
CANDIDATE OBAMA VERSUS PRESIDENT OBAMA: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
By Cash Michaels
“…the audacity of winning has given away to the timidity of governing.”
November 3, 2009
As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a major address on Sept. 7 before a joint session of Congress on how he hopes to improve the faltering US economy and generate more jobs, a dark, looming question remains.
Is he willing to fight for what he proposes?
“We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard,” Pres. Obama once said upon accepting the Nobel Peace prize in December 2009.
The operative word here is “fight,” because many of his critics, and ironically many of his supporters - especially in his own party - question the president’s threshold of gravitas, and willingness to confront political adversaries not only to defend his governing principles, but advance his public policy positions.
To fight for those issues voters overwhelming determine are of primary importance, win or lose, is the mandate of most publicly elected officials, especially the most powerful of them all - the president of the United States. The American political process, by design, is a tug-of-war between conflicting electoral mandates, usually resulting in a hard fought compromise where both sides have given some ground in order to attain a reasonable result for all..
The Barack Obama who ran for president in 2008 promised voters he would “fight” for health care reform, more jobs and improvements to education, and they elected him.
“If we think that we can secure our country by just talking tough without acting tough and smart, then we will misunderstand this moment and miss its opportunities,” said candidate Obama on August 19, 2008.
“…[T]he campaign team, and the candidate, not only had the audacity to win but was able to keep that audacity alive, day in and day out over the long nearly-two-year slog of the campaign …,” Arianna Huffington of the online The Huffington Post, wrote in 2009, later adding that by doing so, the campaign had also, “…shown the Obama White House the way forward.”
But the Barack Obama who took over the White House in 2009, in an effort to pacify recalcitrant conservative Republicans hellbent in destroying his historic presidency, tried to conquer Washington with a peaceful personality and penchant for pragmatism, instead of raw political power when needed.
“President Obama is a leader,” White House adviser David Plouffe, who managed Obama’s 2008 campaign, told The Huffington Post. “He did not run to occupy the Oval Office but to lead from it, and many times that means playing a bad hand as effectively as possible.”
However, critics counter, whatever “bad hand” the president has had to play, was the direct result of his reluctance to fight for a stronger hand in the first place. In his dealings with the Republicans on the debt ceiling crisis or the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, they always essentially walked away with “98 percent,” according to GOP House Speaker John Boehner, of what they ultimately wanted, seemingly laughing all the way to the bank while the president made excuses for what he was left with.
The result - today, one year away from would should have been an assured re-election, a struggling President Obama is at his weakest ever. A frustrated American public - increasingly disenchanted with dysfunctional government and a spiraling economy - is demanding a new direction for the nation, and partially blames the president for a lack of leadership.
Critics, based on the president’s track record thus far, are even more blunt. They say Obama doesn’t know how to really lead, because he doesn’t know how to fight as a leader.
Indeed, there is evidence, they say, that Obama doesn’t want to fight at all, which is why he ultimately settles for much, much less than he, himself, has promised.
It’s something those who have been following Barack Obama long before he ever announced for president in 2007 had been saying, and warning anyone who would listen, about.
“We haven't yet seen what a Barack Obama would fight for in a public debate, and it's something I'd like to see,” once wrote liberal Democratic strategist Matt Stoller, a constant critic of Barack Obama. “I'd like to see him enter the contest, and in all likelihood get crushed for being a go-along-get-along politician.”
“Only then can he become a great Senator or President, after he realizes that it's not about being liked by everyone, it's about being a principled human being.”
Stoller wrote that about Obama in 2006 in an online piece titled, “Why Barack Obama Should Run for President.” It was one of many pieces accusing the then promising politician of always seeking the path of least resistance.
Something that few people realized when a fiery, young, oratorically brilliant Barack Obama took to the campaign trail in 2008, with crowd-pleasing phrases such as, “We’re fired up and ready to go,” and “I will fight for you.”
"I feel such an obligation to [my supporters]," Obama is quoted as once telling Plouffe during the campaign. "They believe in me. In us. In themselves. What keeps me going day after day? Besides a clear sense of why I am running for president, it's them, our volunteers. It is a special thing we've built here and I don't want to let them down."
The question is, as President Obama slowly becomes candidate Obama again for the 2012 re-election bid, will he continue to promise voters that he will fight for them?
And more importantly, now that the president has a record of doing anything but, will they believe him, and re-elect him?
Obama’s fellow Democrats opine about his reluctance to stand strong against the Tea Party Republicans on issues such as raising the debt ceiling and protecting entitlement programs such as Medicare. True, of late, Obama took a tour through the Midwest recently, chiding the powerful right-wing faction of Congress for blocking any budget compromises that didn’t cut federal spending to their liking.
But the president urged citizens to punish Tea Partiers for their stubbornness - citizens who overwhelming elected the Tea Party to Congress in the first place last November - instead of also saying that he will also take them on from this point forward.
And the Congressional Black Caucus has now gone viral and very vocal with its criticisms of the president’s seeming unwillingness to directly address chronic unemployment in the African-American community, which, at almost 17 percent officially, is virtually twice the national average.
The White House counters that the president is sensitive to the plight of his strongest base of support, but must be sensitive to the plight of all Americans equally, lest history’s first African-American president be accused of playing favorites in times of crisis.
There is no question that President Obama has accomplished more in the first two years of his presidency than most commander-in-chiefs get done in an entire four-year term. But he had Democratic control of Congress from 2009 to 2011, and even so, willingly compromised strong positions on federal stimulus and health care reform just to attract bipartisan support with the Republicans.
For instance, despite consistent urgings from top economists to make his $787 billion stimulus package even bigger in order to properly jumpstart the sinking economy when he took office in 2009, Pres. Obama further weakened the package by making a third of it tax cuts, not only to appease opposing Republican Congressional leaders, but hopefully win their support.
They still refused.
And after pushing hard during his historic 2008 presidential campaign for a public option as the centerpiece of his revolutionary health care reform initiative, Obama willingly bargained it away for the prospect of getting support from the major pharmaceutical companies.
The same “Big Pharma” industry candidate Obama blasted in 2008 for previously cutting deals with Republican George W. Bush’s White House to protect its massive profits.
There are many who allege that one of the reasons why Obama seems “weak” or “indecisive” to some, and isn’t willing to fight for core liberal Democratic principles, is because he, in fact, is not a liberal.
There is no question that the Harvard University trained Barack Obama is not a weak or indecisive man, having come up in the legendarily tough Chicago political machine as a state senator, and then Illinois US senator. And certainly the 2008 presidential campaign proved Obama’s resilience when he had to defeat an evercharging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
But, as Connexion, an online alternative lifestyle publication posited last December, Obama is actually more centrist in his politics, more concerned with attracting moderates of both parties, plus as many independents as he can get.
Connexion wrote - This does not mean that President Obama is a Republican, or anything close to a Republican. The Republican Party is not conservative, it is extremist. But as the Republican Party has drifted farther and farther to the fringe, much of the establishment Democratic Party has intrepidly moved into the ideological space the Republican Party abandoned. The Republicans lead this movement to the right, and the Democrats follow, taking the political center with them and leaving the traditional left ever more disenfranchised, disenchanted, and politically alienated. The problem with Barack Obama isn't that he is worse than establishment Village Democrats, the problem is that he is one of them. He didn't change Washington, but he is changing what some who consider themselves liberal or progressive are willing to tolerate, accept, and even support.
Indeed, long before Obama took office, the Democratic Party had been long accused of bowing to the whims of the feisty Republicans by the progressive/liberal faction. Thanks to President Bill Clinton, the party moved further center during his eight years as president, in an effort to reclaim the Congress and the White House.
Obama’s “hope and change” campaign after eight years of Republican President George Bush seemed fresh and new to voters who were hungry for change. Obama promised to “fight for the middle-class,” but interestingly, said very little about fighting for poorer communities, even though his candidacy, because of his unique biracial background and experience growing up poor, implied that he knew their needs.
What was not known was the tension between candidate Obama, and traditional black leadership, many of whom harkened from the 1960’s civil rights movement.
Obama did not want to fight the old “black versus white” battles that still permeated the political landscape, even within the Democratic Party. He wanted to rise above it, bring together powerful coalitions of young, old, grassroots, business, university-educated and multi-cultural communities, add on a plethora of people who had never voted before, and win the presidency on a platform of positive change.
Observers still laud the brilliance of perhaps the most successful political campaign in American history, but also counter that running a campaign, and governing a nation, are two totally different challenges.
President Obama, almost three years into his first term, has found that out, having tried mightily to negotiate his way through unyielding Republican opposition to his policies.
So now that summer is over, and the political season is back in bloom next week when the president addresses Congress about creating more jobs, will Barack Obama now forcefully challenge Republicans to work with him or else, as candidate Obama once promised?
Or will President Obama plead with a GOP leadership that has already declared their goal of destroying his presidency, even if it further brings the nation down?
The time for Barack Obama to fight, observers say, is now, or never.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
MRS. BLACK NORTH CAROLINA PROMOTES ALOPECIA AWARENESS MONTH
Sandra Dubose-Gibson, Mrs. Black North Carolina 2011, is marking Alopecia Awareness month in September by traveling the state, screening her personal documentary, “Project Liberation: My Alopecia Experience” in public libraries. Dubose-Gibson has alopecia, a baldness disease, and was the first bald woman ever to win Mrs. Black NC. The screenings are free and open to the public, and group discussions will take place afterwards.
For Raleigh, a screening will be held Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Cameron Village Regional Library; in Wilmington on Saturday, Sept. 24, 1:30 p.m. at the New Hanover County Main Library; and in Durham, Thursday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Durham County Main Library. For more information call 919-610-5420.
TRIANGLE UNEMPLOYMENT JUMPS TO 8.2 PERCENT
The Triangle area’s jobless rate ticked up slightly from June’s 8.1 percent, to 8.2 percent in July, according to the NC Employment Security Commission. That’s good news overall because the area jobless rate is less than the state’s 10.1 percent. Experts say cuts in state and local government are hurting North Carolina’s economy.
WAKE SCHOOL SYSTEM ENROLLMENT UP 2.4 PERCENT
Despite the controversies, apparently more parents are sending their children to the Wake County Public School System. When the first day of school convened August 25th, 146,657 students - 3,368 more than last year - were enrolled. The final, official count for this school year will be taken on the 20th day of classes. Wake Supt. Anthony Tata says the system has hired 82 new teachers so far this year.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
GOV. PERDUE PROMISES THAT NC WILL RECOVER FROM HURRICANE IRENE
[OUTER BANKS] Over 1100 homes were destroyed, and over $70 million in damage done - not counting crop losses - thanks to the devastation done by Hurricane Irene in North Carolina last weekend, says Gov. Perdue, but resilient North Carolinians will recover as they have many times before. Fortunately, Irene was not the Category 3 storm that forecasters had predicted when it hit the Outer Banks and a good part of eastern North Carolina, but it still caused massive flooding, power outages to over 400,000 people, and downed trees from Wilmington to Raleigh. NC Highway 12, which connects the barrier islands, was sliced in several places by the storm and could be damaged again, state engineers say.
There are at least six known dead in the state, several of whom died when trees fell on their homes. Perdue said despite the destruction, the costs of which are still being tallied, North Carolina’s beaches will be open for Labor Day this weekend.
FUND SET UP TO HELP HURRICANE VICTIMS
[RALEIGH] If citizens want to donate to help those struck by Hurricane Irene, they can send those donations to NC Disaster Relief Fund, 20312 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27612. Citizens can also make credit card donations online at www.ncdisasterrelief.org.
STATE GOP LAWMAKERS WANT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN VOTE SOON
[RALEIGH] In the aftermath of destruction from Hurricane Irene, a faltering economy and a rising jobless rate, Republican lawmakers in the GOP-led NC General Assembly intend to vote for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina when they return to Raleigh the week of Sept. 12. The session is geared toward passage of at least seven constitutional amendments, but Republicans may also try to override Gov. Perdue’s voter ID law veto. At a press conference Tuesday, state House leaders said North Carolinians want a total ban on same-sex marriage, even though NC law already defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
THE COMMON CAUSE OF SAFETY - Without mentioning the name of the fine organization or event, last Saturday I was supposed to get an award, and I was very much looking forward to attending to receive it too. I have great respect and admiration for their work, so to be honored for my work in journalism by them was indeed an honor.
But earlier in the week, as weather forecasters fine-tuned their predictions of where Hurricane Irene might hit - namely North Carolina - and when, my old journalistic sense, let alone common sense, took over.
The event would be taking place right in the midst of the storm.
Having lived and worked in North Carolina for over 30 years, I’ve come to know hurricanes quite well, thank you, having lived through Hugo, Fran and Floyd particularly. I know how unpredictable they are, and can be, and I certainly know the devastation they can cause.
So thirty years have taught me to never second-guess a hurricane that just happens to be in the neighborhood. I don’t think there’s a weatherman or woman worth their salt who would disagree with that axiom.
So on Friday, the day that North Carolina began feeling the coming wrath of Hurricane Irene in earnest, having not heard about any change in plans or postponement about the event, I began to email. Friday was a rough day already because even though I live in Wake County, the absolute center of the state and 150 miles from the coast where Irene was supposed to make landfall, my thirty years in NC told me it didn’t make a difference.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo, a category 5 storm, sent powerful winds from the coast all the way to Mecklenburg County in the west, downing trees, cutting power and blowing out office windows.
In September 1996, Hurricane Fran - packing 115 mph winds - shocked everyone in North Carolina when it made landfall in Wilmington, and marched straight to Raleigh. The results - 79 mph winds and eight inches of rain punishing every inch of Wake County with power outages and severe flooding for days. People were lined up, both in well-to-do North Raleigh, and in low-income Southeast Raleigh, for bottles of water and loaves of bread. We were all forced to live like cavemen with no electricity for several days.
No weatherman predicted all of that for Raleigh. At least 24 people in the state died, at least $2.3 billion in damage done.
Go to http://www.wral.com/weather/hurricanes/video/8045073/#/vid9924105 to see how it was.
I almost lost my life during Fran when my blood sugar shot up over 800, and my then-girlfriend angrily forced me to go to the hospital (you know we hard-headed black men simply refuse to go to the doctor when we know something is wrong), where I was kept for three days until they got my sugar back down. Had I waited, the doctors told me I would have been dead by that weekend.
Then there was Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. Ask the good folks of the town of Princeville, the oldest black incorporated town in the nation. What Fran did with wind three years earlier, Floyd did with rain, sending devastating floods to Princeville, virtually almost wiping the town off the map. Even in Raleigh, Crabtree Valley Mall had to shutdown because the nearby creek flooded the entire area. Six billion in total damage to the state.
So past experience told me that when the weatherman yells “hurricane” in your state, unless you live all the way in the high mountains of Asheville, you listen careful, and take all of the required precautions.
Last Friday, because I have a young family, and not knowing for sure what havoc Hurricane Irene would cause, I spent the day in preparation. Even made my eight-year-old, KaLa, sit down and watch the local hurricane coverage so she could understand and appreciate the seriousness of the impending situation.
Earlier in the week, we didn’t feel the earthquake that Raleigh and the rest of the Triangle felt. It just didn’t shake where we live. But Irene would be different, and I wanted to make sure that my little one understood, and was emotionally prepared for a possible power outage, or worse.
She definitely got the message when leaving the supermarket at 4 p.m., Irene’s rains and wind began, and thunder cracked loud and too close for comfort in the parking lot.
And through it all, I beseeched the organizers of Saturday’s event to realize that just because Irene was projected to concentrate primarily on our coast, didn’t mean that we couldn’t be affected in Raleigh.
As past experience proved, there simply weren’t any guarantees. Hurricanes cause violent storms, and violent storms, as we know only too well around these parts, can spawn deadly tornadoes. Lots of rain and strong wind gusts topple trees. That can cause power lines to go down.
I shared this with the organizers, but I also shared something that was all too obvious.
The event was scheduled for 5 p.m. On Friday forecasters were saying we would be feeling the worst of Irene between 4-11 p.m. Many, if not most of the people attending the event, were elderly, and they would be driving. And they would be coming not only from all parts of Raleigh, but all parts of Wake County as well.
To ask them to drive in darkened, and potentially perilous conditions, where one snapped tree branch could mean losing control of a vehicle on a rain-soaked road, was a bit much in my book.
To their credited, the organizers emailed back that they were now reconsidering, and within a few hours on Friday, they made the wise decision to postpone the event to a later date.
Fortunately, in Raleigh, while there were strong wind gusts, downed trees and power outages along with rain heavy at times, there was nothing compared to what happened on the Outer Banks, where the wind and flooding were devastating.
But every person who would have attended was safe at home, and off the road, as it should be.
I now anxiously await their rescheduling.
I shared this story because what I did last week was really no different, to a lesser degree, from what trained, experienced weather people were doing all last week, and for that matter, have been doing for many, many years.
Using their wealth of experience to assess the latest information available about an impending threat - a threat assessment - and imparting that information contextually to the general public so that we can take all necessary actions to protect ourselves and our families.
The organizers may have saved a life Saturday by making their decision. We’ll never know f erring on the or sure, but that’s the likelihood. And during a weather emergency, even when the threat seems miles away, there is rarely anything wrong with erring on the side of caution when lives could be on the line.
I salute them for doing so.
SILLY PEOPLE - Judging from the way folks have jumped all over the National Hurricane Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I truly, but sadly think that we are all losing our minds.
Last week, the NHC forecasted that Hurricane Irene was a category 3 storm, with the potential of growing to a cat 4, posing a dangerous threat not just to North Carolina, but the entire Eastern seaboard. All of their available information confirmed this possibility, and broadcasters here and as far away as New York City warned their audiences accordingly.
So what happened? Irene indeed had a devastating impact from North Carolina, to New York (where the entire city was shutdown), and even on to New England, causing flooding, power outages for over 4 million people, historic flooding in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, at least 40 deaths (6 here in NC), and an initial estimate of some $7 billion dollars ($70 million of that in NC).
But folks complained that Irene “was no monster” as they were told it could be.
So they’ve been mocking the media and the forecasters ever since. Indeed, the next hurricane that is supposed to tear through these parts could now be ignored because some people feel all the media does is hype the potential for severe weather.
In other words, if the media reports the potential of sheer devastation, folks say they want to homes blow off their foundations, buildings toppled, high flooding for miles, and a death toll in the hundreds, all so that they can go, “WOW!”
What freakin’ IDIOTS!
As any weather forecaster will tell you, you can have the best information possible in predicting what a storm could do, and yet, because there are so many unforeseen variables that can intercede at the absolute last second (Hurricane Hugo sending powerful winds to an unsuspecting Charlotte in 1989 is a prime example), it is almost impossible to put an ironclad certainty on it.
After all, hurricanes are NOT manmade.
Thus, we can only use the best information to predict what they’re going to do, and then warn you about the probabilities and possibilities so that you and yours can ably prepare.
That’s what I did with my family last week. On Saturday, we spent an uneventful day together a the wind howled and the rain fell, ready for anything to happen.
It didn’t, and for that, we are very grateful, given all of the trees we live around.
So should I be mad that the forecasters forced me to take extra precautions to protect my wife and young child? Of course not. If anything, it was a good dry run for the rest of the hurricane season (which ends in November). Why should I be mad about that?
But to some people, the media, for their own “evil and greedy” purposes, got everybody all worked up just so that the supermarkets and housing supply stores could make a killing.
Mind you, some of these same people pay other people to give them the best guesses possible about which stocks will turn a profit, but when it comes to saving life and limb, they feel cheated when something bad doesn’t happen.
If you’re one of these silly people, you need to check yourself. If you’re forced to interrupt your life, just so that you can save your life, then so be it. The forecasters work as hard as possible to get it right with an inexact science.
And the reporters who put their lives on the line, with families at home, to broadcast from dangerous locations during the height of a powerful storm, aren’t risking life and limb for hype. They’re trying ton report the facts as they see them. All of them should be commended, and told how much we appreciate their courage and dedication to bringing us the news.
Everything isn’t a conspiracy, folks. Sometimes, especially the most trying moments in life, it is what it is, and the best that it’s going to get. Our job is to deal with it, even if, in the end, it falls far short of what was predicted.
How else are we going to deal with the real thing when it gets here? And who will we blame when we are NOT told about the full extent of a dangerous emergency headed our way?
The same folks we’re mocking now. How silly!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.”
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.