Barack Obama

A Set of Experiences, President Obama: Trayvon Martin

Pundits across the Left, Right and Centre have discussed the Trayvon Martin case. Far from the US, in Europe and Britain it has not escaped comment.

Yet few have put their finger on the issue as President Obama does. This short clip touches on one neglected aspect: experiences.

An extract:

“I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. “

Update 1: Trayvon Martin’s parents show immense dignity at this harrowing time.

Update 2: Huff Post has a poll on the outcome of the trial.

Update 3: Many see this latest injustice as another Emmett Till, Blair L.M. Kelley explains:

“This time we are mourning for a boy from Miami, visiting his father in Sanford, Florida, unaware of the racial terrain in a neighborhood with some crime and an overzealous neighborhood watchman, driven by assumptions. While I am almost sure Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, talked with him about being cautious and respectful if approached by the police, I’m sure none of their advice prepared him for being followed by George Zimmerman.

We are mourning because Martin’s death at the end of Zimmerman’s gun was initially dismissed by the police as a “Stand Your Ground” case of self-defense, Florida’s version of an ALEC-sponsored law that, unlike most self-defense laws does not require that self-defense is the last resort of someone who cannot escape the altercation. We are mourning that any fistfight might turn into justifiable homicide.

We are proud that Martin’s parents had the courage to publicize their son’s death in order to push for a trial, but we are mourning because unequal justice still seems to be the norm. We are disheartened because we know a Florida woman, Marissa Alexander, is not allowed to stand her ground against an ex-husband with a documented history of abuse, but Zimmerman was found by the court to be justified in believing he needed to kill an unarmed stranger.

And sadly, despite all the changes that have occurred over the past five decades, many of us are mourning, worried about what we should tell to our children that might just keep them safe, as if some set of behaviors could prevent them from being perceived as a threat. We mourn for all our boys.”

Boycotting Israel, Banning Women And The Crazed Right Wing

There is an up-and-coming election in Israel, and my bet is that many Western “anti-Zionists” would pick Benjamin Netanyahu, if they had a vote.

They must positively love Israel’s politically clumsy and callous Prime Minister.

Ever opportunistic those actively behind the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) see a marvellous opportunity, after the recent bloodshed in Gaza and the proposed building of settlements in the E1 area of Jerusalem.

Pro-boycotters are planning to make another move to foment more hostility towards Israelis.

It has to be said, the evidence suggests that pro-boycotters are not terribly concerned with human rights in the wider Middle East, as can be seen by Western attitudes to 20+ months of slaughter in Syria.

The conflict in Syria has resulted in some 40,000 dead Syrians, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands injured, yet not one Western organisation has ever demonstrated outside any Syrian embassy. Not one. Let alone proposed a boycott of Assad’s murderous government.

A similar complacency has been shown towards the imprisonment and torture of human rights activists in Bahrain. Not a single demonstration by Westerners or a proposed boycott of the awful Bahraini regime. And so on.

Across the Middle East in the last few years there have been numerous, hundreds of instances of human rights abuses by the various monarchies, potentates and dictatorships but you would not find an instance of a proposed boycott against them. Not a single demonstration by Westerners outside their embassies.

However, that is not true when Israelis pop into the picture.

Once that happens Westerners become extremely indignant, passionate and will organise demonstrations outside Israeli embassies at the drop of a hat. There is a sense that Western activists are concerned with the Middle East, but only a small part of it.

Still, we should not object to Westerners when they point out human rights abuses, even if it is obviously rather selective and particular. Highlighting abuses of human rights is good, even if certain obsessive Westerners mostly tend to focus on one country in the region.

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Elsewhere, the Church of England has a serious problem with women, or at least putting them in positions of power. Therefore, we should not be too surprised when these poor misogynist attitudes are reflected in the activities of their co-religionists.

As Huff Post reports:

“A university’s Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, it has been revealed.

The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, the group changed its policy. “

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Right Wing Watch has a good page on the crazy antics over at WorldNetDaily:

“5. Obama is a Gay, Secret Muslim, Foreign-Born Imposter

The group’s most well-known “reporter,” Jerome Corsi, believes that President Obama wears a Muslim ring (confusing loops with Arabic), was married to his male Muslim roommate, orchestrated the murder of his gay ex-lovers, was born somewhere outside the United States and his father may be Frank Marshall Davis.

6. Gays Behind the Holocaust and Preparing to Lead the Next One

WND columnist Scott Lively, who is best known for his work in shaping Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is the author of the book, The Pink Swastika, about how gays were behind Nazism and the Holocaust in order to have “vengeance against the people whose moral laws had relegated pagan homo-occultism to obscurity and ignominy.” WND Super Store sells his bizarre book and WND editor Joseph Farah eagerly endorsed Lively’s claim while warning that the gay rights movement may bring Nazism to America. Another WND columnist, Erik Rush, even maintained that gays are planning a Holocaust against Christians, and WND commentator Judith Reisman argued that gay-straight alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth. WND’s Molotov Mitchell has also praised Uganda for making homosexuality a capital offense because the founders would’ve agreed.

7. Obama is Orchestrating the Next Holocaust

If gay people don’t do it first, then President Obama must be the one behind the next holocaust. Farah claimed that he discovered proof that Obama wants a new Holocaust in a speech he delivered at Buchenwald where he used the line, “We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished.” Farah admitted that he is taking the line, which was about the need to combat Holocaust denialism, out of context. But since Obama has a tendency of “speaking in code” to Muslim audiences, Farah explained, then he must be sending a secret message to Muslims to kill Jews: “So, I ask you, am I really taking Obama’s words at Buchenwald out of context? Or am I the only one seeing them in context?

8. Secession Now

WND is extremely sympathetic to the secessionist movement, they only differ on the reasons. Farah believes that America may be forced to “literally…break-up” the nation if states continue to legalize same-sex marriage and WND columnist Vox Day called for a white supremacist secession movement to repel the “African, Asian and Aztec cultures” and “immigrants from various non-European nations.” Mitchell even released a video criticizing Abraham Lincoln for his stance against secession. “

There is a peculiar commonality between these attitudes, one that thinks engendering hostility towards Israelis is going to help peace in the Middle East? How treating women as second-class citizens is the way to run an organisation in a modern society? Or that bigoted stupidity aimed at President Obama is convincing?

In all these instances there is a detachment from reality, a falling back on hostile, essentially reactionary attitudes and we should think on, how terribly misplaced they are in the 21st century.

Not that I expect any these points to reach home or resonate with their proponents.

From experience, I have found that those who have, er, issues with Israelis, women or President Obama are generally not amenable to reason or intelligent discussion, on these topics. Pity though.

Post US 2012 Presidential Election Thoughts

A random pile of US election insights, links and wit.

Fox News didn’t have a good night, Watch Fox News Chew Its Own Leg Off in a Fury of Recrimination.

Huff Post and idiotic GOPers, US Election: The Funniest Angry Republican Twitter Responses To Barack Obama’s Victory.

On voting, Hollywood tweets on the Obama win, sexy voting and Karl Rove.

How Wall Street gambled on Romney and lost! Wall Street left to rebuild Obama ties after backing Romney.

Gary Younge from Chicago, Obama’s second victory is more low key, but in some ways more impressive.

Bigots can’t take it, Obama’s reelection sparks racially charged protest at Ole Miss.

At Labour List, 5 lessons for Labour from Obama 2012.

Again, Fox News provides their own excuses as to why Romney lost.

Netanyahu handling of Obama has backfired, so he’s told his MKs to shut up for fear of causing more offence.

Peter’s The Times They Are A Changin’.

Bad losers, Karl Rove melts down after Fox News calls Ohio for Obama.

Elizabeth Ann Warren’s win.

Most racist moments of the election, not pretty but Donald Trump gets a lookin.

Ever the politician, Boris Johnson buries news.

Markos Moulitsas is good and thoughtful.

Photos from the NYT.

GOPers might like this, How To Cope If Your Candidate Lost.

Talking of losers, Fox News Slowly Loses Its Mind Over Election Results.

From the Middle East, Likud and Islamic Jihad Decry Election Results.

Finally, as younger readers might say, Mel Phillips, has jumped the shark. Unbelievable nonsense, completely detached from reality, like reading a poisonous discharge from the John Birch Society. Glad I never read her in the first place!

Donald Trump And The Egalitarianism Of Twitter

There is one marvellous aspect to Twitter, its egalitarianism.

Class, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation and wealth are all irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire, a millionaire or just someone with access to the Internet, you are all equal.

Twitter judges you on the contents of your tweets, not your wealth, and this has proved to be a problem for the likes of Donald Trump.

He is a regular Twitter user, but despite a vast wealth his idiocy is laid bare on Twitter.

Trump rants and raves with ease yet struggles to make the most elementary arguments.

He tries to delete his more idiotic comments but thankfully New York magazine has captured a few of them.

Update 1: One of Trump’s previous stupid tweets.

Crooks and Liars have more.

US Presidential Election 2012 Part Round Up

This is a partial round up of the US Presidential Election 2012, it is highly subjective as it is still going on and the final votes are not in yet.

If Romney wins as a picture!

The BBC’s America votes: scenes from the US election.

MIT or MITT? Florida Polling Place Denies Entry to Woman with an MIT T-Shirt.

Daily Kos Elections 2012 coverage.

Wow, Family of anti-gay Republican candidate for US Senate take out newspaper ad – against him.

Politics Home US elections – live.

Estimated declaration time in the US.

HOPE, not hate:

Mapping America’s Election Night and Tea Party vandals launch racist attack on Obama posters.

The Guardian live coverage is good.

This 2008 article by Mitt Romney might have lost him the election, Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

Some intelligent comments at the Atlantic.

That Letter to President Obama

Elections are often dirty affairs and politics rarely brings out the best in us, but this letter is delightful:

“Dear Barack Obama,

It’s Sophia Bailey Klugh. Your friend who invited you to dinner. You don’t remember okay that’s fine. But I just wanted to tell you that I am so glad you agree that two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other. But at school kids think that it’s gross and weird but it really hurts my heart and feelings. So I come to you because you are my hero. If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other, and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?

Please respond!

I just wanted to say you really inspire me, and I hope you win on being the president. You would totally make the world a better place.

Your friend Sophia

P.S. Please tell your daughters Hi for me!”

Update 1: Huff Post has some background on this story.

Rounding Up Romney, Sesame Street And The World

The US Presidential election is almost over, in a day or two voting will be completed and the counting starts.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has received a more than fair hearing by the world’s media, but as far I can see they have avoided talking about his weirder views and what might happen under a Romney Presidency.

Mitt and Big Bird

Some have strong opinions about Romney’s proposed cuts to PBS:

“Organizers of the Million Puppet March on Capitol Hill in support of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television and National Public Radio (NPR) put the turnout at around 1,000 people, three days before the US presidential vote.

Characters from the children’s show “Sesame Street” — a PBS staple since the network’s founding in 1970 — figured prominently, including two Big Birds, many Kermits and Elmos, and a Miss Piggy grooving to “Dancing in the Streets.”

But the family-friendly rally on a chilly and cloudy day also attracted a frisky marionette of President Barack Obama and a blue-suited protester in a Mitt Romney mask jammed into a trash can with Big Bird on his back.

There was no shortage of sometimes witty placards, like “Keep your Mitts off Big Bird,” “puppets for peace” and, on the arm of a middle-aged gentleman with a skunk puppet, “Romney smells funny.”

The New Yorker looks at Mormonism, private equity, and the making of a candidate:

“Just about the only thing in life that Mitt Romney is obviously not very good at is the public aspect of running for office. During his four campaigns for office—U.S. senator, in 1994; governor, in 2002; President, in 2008 and 2012—he must have undergone endless hours of training and practice, but the magic just isn’t there. In June, I spent a few days on the campaign trail with him, in Wisconsin and Iowa. Romney’s trip had several purposes. A film crew was gathering footage for campaign commercials to run in the fall; Romney stopped in Janesville, Wisconsin, talking privately and doing an event with Paul Ryan, soon to be his running mate; and it was another attempt, apparently fruitless, on the part of the campaign to demonstrate the candidate’s concern with ordinary people. This segment was officially called the “Every Town Counts” tour. Romney rode around in a sleek bus painted with all-American scenes of mountains, church steeples, and ships in harbors. “

Joan Smith looks at a similar issue, men with power and keeping it to themselves:

“Now he’s been criticised by the first female head of the Home Office, the kind of person who very rarely speaks out, for excluding women from top government posts. Dame Helen Ghosh, who left her job as permanent secretary last month to run the National Trust, told students at a Cambridge college that Westminster is run by powerful networks of men which are hard for women to break into. She pointed out that there was a “magical moment” six years ago when half the heads of government departments were women, but now there are only three female permanent secretaries. “

The West-friendly Bahrain regime is locking up people, again:

“MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A defense lawyer in Bahrain says a prominent human rights activist is in custody after defying an official ban on protest gatherings in the Gulf kingdom.

The detention of Yousef al-Muhafedha could further embolden Shiite-led demonstrators seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.”

(more…)

Last Presidential Debate 2012

I didn’t watch the whole debate, but Obama looked tired in this BBC clip.

There are some videos at the Beeb which give a greater flavour of the debate.

I thought the Presidential debate: Obama’s ‘horse and bayonet’ jibe was comparatively amusing, by the tame level of humour at these events, but it wasn’t a knockout blow.

CNN’s 5 things we learned in Monday’s debate is shorter, but incomplete.

This is the Guardian’s Debate decoder: the final presidential face-off deconstructed.

Depressingly, Romney is still stuck in the Cold War as CNN shows:

The US, Food Banks And Real People

Gary Younge’s description of real Americans discussing their once well-off circumstances and the need for food banks is a reminder of how precarious existence can be:

“Mark’s fortunes began to change in the summer of 2009 when was a human resources manager in a company with 1,500 employees. He was let go and replaced by a colleague 20 years his junior on half his salary. He could have found other work elsewhere in the country, but that would have involved uprooting his three children, and he didn’t think that was fair. He got another job in a start-up that involved a long commute and eventually collapsed owing him money. With his mortgage paid off and no debts, the biggest expense for a family of five was healthcare. Since everyone in the family was healthy they contemplated doing without it.

Then his youngest daughter got bitten by a rattlesnake. “That would have been a six-figure healthcare bill,” he says. “If we’d gotten rid of healthcare at that point we would have been sunk.” It was around that time he started going to the food bank. He stopped after he got a job at a major bookstore as a night-time accountant and head cashier paying just $9 an hour but with good health benefits, and is now getting a human resources consultancy practice off the ground.

When Pezzani heard the tape of Romney referring disparagingly to the 47% of the country who don’t pay taxes she was unimpressed. “It’s very difficult to see the folks that we’re serving maligned in that way,” she says. Beck-Ferkiss at the HPI has similar reservations. “It’s hard for me to believe that Romney is focused on the population that I serve,” she says.

Mark, however, says it just confirmed everything he already thought. “It doesn’t surprise me about Romney because he’s always struck me as a stuffed shirt. He’s arrogant, and it’s hard for me to get past that. It didn’t change my mind about him because I always thought that about him. It was exactly the same as Obama saying “You didn’t build that”. Those were exactly the words I would expect to come out of his mouth.” “

US Presidential Debate: Obama vs Romney

This clip from BBC news is good at summing up the second US Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney of 2012.

I must say, I find the thought of Romney as US President to be frightening, he’s in the mold of G W Bush, but without the charm!