Obama to Unveil Debt-Reduction Plan

Zachary A. Goldfarb of the Washington Post reports that President Obama will announce a proposal on Monday to tame the nation’s rocketing federal debt, calling for $1.5 trillion in new revenue as part of a plan to find more than $3 trillion in budget savings over a decade, senior administration officials said.

The proposal draws a sharp contrast with Republicans and amounts more to an opening play in the fall debate over the economy than another attempt to find common ground with the opposing party. It also represents a more populist approach to confronting the nation’s economic travails than the compromises he advocated earlier this summer.

Obama will propose new taxes on the wealthy, a special new tax for millionaires and eliminating or scaling back a variety of loopholes and deductions, officials say. About half of the tax savings would come from the expiration next year of the George W. Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans like Paul Ryan are calling the special new tax for millionaires “class warfare.” The plan will not call for any changes to Social Security.

Well, we’re glad the president is taking a more “populist” approach to handling the debt, because the compromises have not been working for the populace; instead, they have been working for the wealthy. We don’t understand why taxing the wealthy is seen as class warfare but not taxing the wealthy isn’t.

Read more at TheRoot.com.

The Tradition of Hate Continues

“The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn their place again.” — Sen. “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman speaking about President Theodore Roosevelt hosting Booker T. Washington at the White House in 1900.

OK, is it just me or does it seem that society is moving backward? The above hate language was spouted by then S.C. Sen. Ben Tillman, who was angered about a black man being invited to the White House. In 2010, folks — like Republican S.C. Sen. Jake Knotts — clearly feel that way about the S.C. governor’s office and the White House.

During a radio show that was taped in a Columbia bar, Knotts called Rep. Nikki Haley, an Indian-American Republican woman running for governor, a “fucking raghead” several times while explaining how he believed she was hiding her true religion from voters.

Haley has been endorsed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but is under fire from Knotts because she is an Indian woman running against his candidate of choice: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. It doesn’t matter that she is a Christian and recognizes Sikh celebrations in deference to her parents. It only matters that she is Indian and was raised in a monotheistic religious household. Is Newt Gingrich, who was raised Baptist and was a practicing Baptist most of his life, less of a Republican because he converted to Catholicism?

During Knotts’ rant, he stated that there was already a “raghead” in the White House. And, not to worry: Like a good Christian, he did apologize for using the “F” word.

Unfortunately, the South Carolina tradition of using political spaces to spout venomous and hateful speech has not evolved even though the state is changing in many ways. People were up in arms over Rep. Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” to President Obama, but Knotts’ comments haven’t generated as much of a backlash. It is clear that Knotts’ problem with Haley has nothing to do with her politics, which are very close to his, but everything to do with her race, gender and religious identity. The thought of someone who isn’t male and white winning the governor’s office literally drives Knotts, and people like him, mad. The saddest part about Knotts’ words is that they are hateful and incite more hate speech and hateful behavior in our society.

I was shocked and appalled to learn of the recent alleged shooting and dragging death of a black man in Newberry, S.C. Anthony Hill, 30, of Winnsboro, S.C., was found dead on the side of U.S. Highway 176. According to CBSnews.com, police followed the trail of blood from Hill’s body that stretched over 10 miles to a trailer occupied by 19-year-old Gregory Collins. The coroner stated that Hill died from a gunshot wound and police are trying to determine why Collins dragged the body after Hill was killed. The crime is being investigated possibly as a hate crime because of how the crime was executed, pun intended, and the fact that Collins is white and Hill is black.

The dragging death or lynching of a black man is not new, especially in the Carolinas with its long history of lynching and anti-civil rights rhetoric and legislation. According to John Hammond Moore’s Carnival of Blood: Dueling, Lynching, and Murder in South Carolina 1880-1920, there were 144 verified lynchings in South Carolina between 1880 and 1947. In recent memory, the high-profile dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in June 1998 in Jasper, Texas, generated countless headlines, so it isn’t like South Carolina is breaking ground in the area of hate. What is interesting is how hate crimes intersect with hate rhetoric, which is clearly on the rise. I would argue that the case involving Hill and Collins, co-workers and acquaintances, is a recent example of this.

I don’t understand why folks can get arrested for falsely yelling, “Fire!” in a public place, because it threatens public safety, but can say hateful things, which is also a threat to public safety — particularly those who are on the receiving end of hate.

It was recently reported that a group in Prescott, Arizona, was calling for a mural depicting faces of blacks and Latinos on a public school to be lightened or changed to white … but that’s not even the bad part. While working on the mural, people were driving by, shouting racial epithets at the adults and children painting the mural. With Arizona’s recent frenzy of racist legislation (legalized racial profiling and the elimination of ethnic studies from public school curricula) is it a stretch to imagine that some sort of violence will probably follow?

Which leads me squarely back to South Carolina, which has a tradition of politicians — Democrat and Republican — using their office as a bully pulpit, pun intended, to incite hateful behavior. Hate speech creates the climate and conditions that are ripe for hate crimes. I just hope that some people come to this realization before someone else loses his/her life.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. serves as cultural critic for Creative Loafing. She is an editor-at-large for TheRoot.com, where she writes the Buzz section and a bi-weekly column.

Spitting on Black Congress Members is Unacceptable

As many of you know, this past weekend members of the Tea Party spat on Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver and called him the “N” word. They also yelled at, mocked and shouted the “F” word to Representative Barney Frank, who is openly gay. We cannot stand for this.  The Tea Party is out of control and something has to be done. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party, Third Party supporter or conscientious objector, this type of behavior must cease.  Our lawmakers cannot continue to benefit from it in one way (Republican votes) while trying to distance themselves from what comes with it (fear, violence and hatred).

RNC Chair Michael Steele, who is African-American, has yet to stand up to this group; instead he has previously said if he were not RNC Chair, he’d be out there with the Tea Partiers. I hope that does not include spitting on and calling other Black leaders the “N” word.

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, recently started a Tea Party Group. While he clearly gets off on being spat upon and called the “N” word, most African-Americans do not. Thomas and Steele fail to see the hate that is being spewed at their racial group. Their mere association with this group, sends a clear message that they are in support of their tactics including fear, bullying, violence and intimidation as a means of furthering their racist agenda, hidden by a pseudo-political one.

I am urging you to write to your Congress person denouncing this group. I would suggest writing to Justice Thomas and Mr. Steele if I thought it would do any good. We all know that it wouldn’t because they have cast aside their souls in pursuit of power. So please let your Congress person know in no uncertain terms that if there is any further association with this group, then they will lose your vote, since having a clear conscious is not enough of a motivator.

Do not sit back and watch this happen. African American and gay communities have a history of standing against ignorance, violence and hatred. Let’s not get comfortable and continue to allow this so-called political group to terrorize members of our nation.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. writes the blog “Tune N” and serves as cultural critic for Creative Loafing in Charlotte.

Chris Matthews Makes Black History

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.

MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews put his proverbial foot in his mouth last week following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

The world was watching President Obama, the man previously with the Midas touch. He had come under fire from many in the country, including his own party, with the Democrats losing the Senate seat in Massachusetts, thereby losing power in the Senate. President Obama’s poll numbers were also in decline, suggesting that citizens were losing faith in his ability to turn the country around.

I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to watching the address because I wasn’t interested in hearing him do more of the same — accept all of the responsibility for the problems in the country that preceded him, support his lame party that does not support him and not acknowledge that the only bipartisanship that the Democrats and Republicans have is to collectively work against him.

Imagine my surprise when President Obama came out swinging, taking everyone to task and demanding that we get over ourselves in order to create the change that is needed to move this country forward. Gone was the man who seemed to be slightly off of his game, at least by all media accounts; in his place, stood the president of the United States who had finally realized his power and concretely stated that he would use it to do what is necessary for this country.

I like tough talk, so my inner Republican stood up and clapped, even if the real Republicans tried hard not to clap in opposition to his policies.

Fast-forward to Chris Matthews, who was so visibly excited about the president’s speech because — say what you will about President Obama, but — the man can deliver a speech like few others. He has the ability to pull you in, connect and have you motivated to go out and change the world.

Matthews caught the bug and looked like he could barely contain himself. He was jovial and energetic as he ran back the plays of the actual address. Matthews, who can be a loudmouth, usually goes hard after folks, especially this president, so I waited for him to pounce; yet he didn’t.

What Matthews did do was make one of the craziest public statements that I’ve heard in a long time: The address was so good that he forgot that President Obama was black. REWIND. Take the needle off of the record. Come again? President Obama’s speech was so good that he forgot that he was black? Wow (in my Mos Def voice). In 1980s terms, I burst out laughing … and in today’s terms I was LMFAO.

Matthews dared say what so many people think, and while he tried to clean it up almost immediately, the words had landed.  Click here to read more.

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing, where Nsenga Burton serves as cultural critic. Follow her on Twitter @ntellectual.

Beyonce and Gods and Monsters

Bye Bye Beyonce
Beyonce is young, beautiful and talented, but I think it’s time for her to do something different, like go away. We get it – you can sing and dance, most of the time. You’re one half of the most powerful couple in entertainment and a private person. Unless you plan to do something drastically different, I’ve had enough. It was refreshing to see you thank your husband and tell him that you love him publicly. That was really the first time that you seemed real in a long time. Recycling the same old look, sound and dance steps smacks of fabrication. Take a note from J.Lo. Not all publicity is good publicity. The very same public that catapaulted you to fame, will turn on you, when they’ve had too much of you. Jay Leno anyone? Know when to say when. Give yourself and us a break for a minute.

Gods and Monsters
It’s official. John Edwards is the world’s greatest scoundrel – maybe not, but certainly this decade’s greatest jerk. Cheating on your wife who has terminal breast cancer, knocking-up a crackpot, making a father of three take the fall, lying about the paternity of the child and then finally telling the truth, when said father writes a book to restore his dignity and that of his family. Raw dogging it with the jump off? Like Sanford, his narcissism led him to believe that he could get away with it. The levels of deceit are despicable. A person can only take so much. How bad is it when you’re divorcing your partner when you have a terminal illness? Elizabeth Edwards is doing just that. So sad and tragic. Standing by a man that didn’t stand by you or his child. This is what happens when dealing with a man who thinks he’s God, but really is a monster.

Harry Reid is Aight with Me

OK, so Sen. Harry Reid stepped in it last week by stating the obvious in the book seen and heard ’round the world, Game Change. Reid got caught slacking on his pimpin’ (Is that Ebonics, Negro dialect, slang or standard Black English?) and suggested that then-Sen. Barack Obama would be electable because he is a “light-skinned” African-American who does not use “Negro Dialect,” unless he wishes. Now Reid has been called everything but a child of God, and many, including the Republican National Committee’s resident H.N.I.C. (Head Negro in Charge) Michael Steele, want him to resign. Really? This from a Black man who says he’s going to start RNC meetings with a “What’s up” (also the name of his blog) and bring fried chicken and potato salad to appeal to young Blacks. In the words of Good Times’ ghetto prophetess, Willona Woods, “Negro, please.” But I digress.

Reid is the product of his environment and his time period, so no I’m not mad that he used the term “Negro” and stated the obvious privately. It is unspoken, but it is known and Black folks will tell you privately about the color complex. In fact, when I read about his statements, I immediately thought to myself, “What Black person put that bug in his ear?” Perhaps Reid could have chosen a different word, but what he said is accurate and has been statistically proven. TheRoot.com’s Omar Wasow highlighted a 1993 study, “When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Candidate Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring,” which clearly showed that White voters prefer light-skinned Black candidates. I’m interested in finding out what Black voters prefer; I suspect it would be the same, but I digress again.

Think about who has been elected: The nation’s first African-American governor post-reconstruction L. Douglas Wilder (Va.); Newark, N.J.’s Black mayor, Cory Booker; D.C.’s Black mayor, Adrian Fenty; Massachusetts’ first Black governor, Deval Patrick; former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt-Dixon/Kelly; former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; New York’s first Black congressman, Adam Clayton Powell Jr.; former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Md.); New York Gov. David Paterson and even our own Mayor Anthony Foxx. This list is just off the top of my head. I’m not saying that this is always the case, but I’m just saying.

What pisses me off most about this focus on Reid is that this is actually a teachable moment. How do you label or address anybody in a meaningful way? What are the challenges? Whites are Irish, Scottish, Italian, Russian, Australian, South African, Dutch — you name it, they are represented. So what does White really mean? Latino? Asian? African? You get the gist. Instead we start casting stones and calling for resignations.

Hell, Black folks cannot even agree on what to call each other, so why are we surprised when White folks can’t figure out what to call us either? We know the “N” word is unacceptable; yet and still, many Black folks use it profusely in music, pop culture and privately — and many non-Blacks use it in the same way.

For the sake of transparency, my girlfriend Yvonne and I use “Negro” at least once per conversation — sometimes positively and other times disparagingly. For example: the United Negro College Fund (positive use); Michael Steele is the Republican Party’s House Negro (negative use). That’s how it goes down sometimes, and Harry Reid is guilty of nothing more than using bad judgment by thinking that a statement like that would remain private.

Why are people really mad?

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing. To read this article in its entirety, click here.

Paul Mooney on President Obama

Originally appeared on TheRoot.com; produced by Davey D TV.

Hilarious, provocative and foreshadowing. A must see.