Charles S. Dutton is the first to admit that the recently released “The Obama Effect” is a pro-Obama motion picture. Yet the former star of “Roc” insisted that the 90-minute comedy/drama is not a political film. For the co-producer, director, screenwriter and lead actor in the flick that opened at AMC theatres last Friday, this was his way of capturing history in a unique context.
“The Obama Effect” is the story of insurance salesman John Thomas, played by Dutton. He becomes passionate about the 2008 Obama campaign after a health scare. The cast includes Katt Williams, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Meagan Good and Glynn Turman as well as boxer Zab Judah and other new faces to the silver screen.
The film, produced by entertainment executive Barry Hankerson of Blackground Records, is now in its first run. It opened in select cities, preceded by premiere showings. Locally, the film opened to a full and enthusiastic house at Lowe’s AMC Theatre in Cherry Hill, N.J., on July 11.
“This chronicles one of the most important moments in history, when this country elected its first Black president,” said Dutton, who is making his directorial debut. “It’s a satirical look at the 2008 election. This is about a man who becomes obsessed with the Obama election. This captures a moment in time when many people never thought they would see in their lifetime.
“For him this is a kind of non-negotiable madness. He puts this election before his family, friends and job. Then there’s his alter ego, and he really thinks he is talking to Obama. There’s also the divisiveness and polarizing that took place in 2008 (reflected) right in his own community,” said Dutton.
The film took more than three years in the making. It began in January 2009 on the heels of the presidential inauguration with what Dutton called a “triple duty” operation. First, he and Hankerson came together with the idea to make an independent film about the 2008 presidential race from a pro-Obama perspective.
Then, they created a character who “had tunnel vision” on his conviction that President Obama was the only candidate who should win the election. Finally, there was much rewriting and retaking scenes throughout 2009 and 2010 until the current version emerged during 2011 and received its final edits this year.
“The original cut was too tragic,” said Dutton. “It was like a page out of King Lear. So, we had to go back and make it lighter and more fun. There are serious moments but with the addition of Katt Williams as the super-rich nephew by marriage and a Black Republican, that made it more satirical.”
Yet just because the movie has many jovial moments, doesn’t mean there is no conflict or serious scenes. There is. For example, the main character is at odds with his Latino next-door neighbors who he feels should make an immediate commitment to support Obama.
At the same time, the sons of the two families compete in a boxing match. Additionally, there is a clandestine affair between another Latino neighbors’ son and the protagonist’s daughter. “This movie clearly multi-layered,” said Dutton.
Furthermore, Thomas tells his fellow organizers that, “Anyone involved in the Obama campaign is going to be alright.” Ironically, Dutton himself did not get thumbs up from the official Obama campaign camp. This was a result of the producers’ effort to keep the independent film truly independent, according to Dutton. That is why rather than scout major investors, he and Hankerson opted to finance the venture themselves.
“This is unabashedly a pro-Obama film but we didn’t want Chicago, the White House or anyone else censuring the script and looking over our shoulder,” said Dutton. “I think this is a classy movie that you could bring your family or church group to see. We tried to keep capture the euphoria of 2008 while mending fences in a way that is uplifting. I think the story is still electrifying in a new way now that it’s 2012.
“Some of the (sentiments) expressed back in 2008 reflect the vehement resistance we see in Congress and from the tea party. We started filming before (some) Americans took off their sheets or rolled by the hoods. So, there’s much relevance in a 2008 story speaking to this upcoming election,” said Dutton.
Dutton anticipates that the First Family will request a screening during its early run. He admitted that he hopes that he can give the Obamas their own edited version of the film. There are choice phrases he would like to delete so as not to offend President Obama, the first lady or their daughters, he said. Other than that, he feels that the Obamas would appreciate that its release is well-timed and tastefully done.
Now, audiences across the country can also see the initial AMC theaters exclusive run and make their own assessment. Besides Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, the select market cities include Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and Houston.
Dutton said his requests for reviews to be broadcast on stations like Fox News, or for an interview with Bill O’Reilly about “The Obama Effect,” were ignored. Yet Dutton is taking that in stride.
“I am not naïve,because I understand that half the country may not be interested in seeing this movie, but there’s the other half who will,” said Dutton.
These days Dutton just is eager for the nationwide and possibly worldwide distribution of “The Obama Effect” in October. However, he’s not resting on those potential laurels either. He is already preparing to film his next movie in Philadelphia. This is about Stevie Gordon, a fictitious music mogul who is stuck in the 20th century still saying statements like “Let’s go and make the record.”
This is slated for a Memorial Day release.
While most African Americans quietly accept insulting policies from the Obama Administration, like eliminating affirmative-action, many Africans loudly reject destructive policies emanating from the White House of the first American president of acknowledged African ancestry.
This criticism by Africans, rarely reported in U.S. media, is particularly harsh regarding the escalation of American military activities across their vast continent.
These escalations contradict Obama’s professions of positive changes in American policies that raised African expectations of more books not bombs.
Affiong L. Affiong, a Nigerian-born activist once imprisoned in her homeland for opposing human rights violations there, feels President Barack Obama (son of a Kenyan father) has not been good for Africa.
“I think Obama is the classic case of neo-colonialism,” said Affiong, during a recent interview in London. She is co-founder of the Moyo wa Taifa Pan Afrikan Women’s Solidarity Network. She splits her work life between London and Ghana.
American military activities on the African continent have escalated steadily under the Obama administration, which has authorized assaults against terrorists suspected of links to al Qaeda, enlarged the U.S. military command in Africa (AFRICOM) and joined the British and the French in overthrowing Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi this year.
President Obama justified America’s billion-dollar-plus involvement in the assault against oil-rich Libya on humanitarian grounds, claiming that bombing prevented Gaddafi from massacring his opponents.
Yet the Libyan rebels Obama and NATO supports — including some rebel leaders with long-standing al Qaeda links — have themselves engaged in a horrific racist massacre of Black Libyans and African migrant workers in that country, all without strong condemnation from the White House, which has made no effort to end those atrocities.
“Yesterday it was slavery, then colonialism and now the dictators Obama, [British Prime Minister David] Cameroon and [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy are attempting to colonize Africa again,” said Made’ Gueu.
Gueu is a member of an organization opposed to the French removal this year of the elected president of the Ivory Coast in West Africa, a move backed by the Obama administration.
Many Africans and others see escalations in American military activity as a projection of Western power directed toward securing tighter dominance over Africa’s vast mineral wealth.
African critics reject contentions by the U.S. and its European allies that military escalation promotes democracy.
“Africa is the new battle ground in a war over resources between the West and China,” a member of the African Peoples Socialist Party said during an early November protest at the American Embassy in London.
At the end of October the American news service Associated Press released an article detailing increased U.S. military activities across the African continent supposedly designed to “fight militants.”
Those activities, the article stated, include supplying military equipment, providing intelligence and expending “tens of millions of dollars” — dollars the White House claims are not available for targeted initiatives for decreasing historic high rates of unemployment and mortgage foreclosures among Blacks.
That article referenced $45-million in military equipment sent to Uganda and Burundi to support their forces in Somalia plus $24-million to Kenya, which invaded southern Somalia near the end of October.
Kenyan officials said their incursion in Somalia is to end murderous cross-border raids by the Al-Shabaab militia, an organization in Somalia that U.S. officials link to al Qaeda.
Duale Yusuf, an activist from Somalia, denounced destructive U.S. foreign policy in Somalia during that November protest outside the American Embassy in London.
“There is a Guantanamo Bay prison in Mogadishu where thousands of Somalis are being tortured. American drones are killing people in Somalia. We don’t need drones, we need peace, like in America and Britain,” said Yusuf, criticizing the latest upsurge in American military activity in his homeland in the Horn of Africa.
“We tell Obama to remove the CIA from Mogadishu where they are torturing people. We are not terrorists in Somalia. We want schools, and hospitals like in the U.S. and Britain,” Yusuf said about his homeland wrecked by twenty years of civil war following the over-throw of an American-aligned dictator in 1991.
The opinions about Obama Administration African policies expressed by activists like Affiong Affiong mirror sentiments expressed recently in an article co-authored by Bill Fletcher, the immediate past president of the Afro-American lobbying/policy group Trans Africa Forum.
Fletcher wrote: “…there is something very wrong in Obama’s foreign policy” criticizing U.S. military aggression in regions ranging from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond under President Obama.
Fletcher’s article pointedly criticized the lack of “outcry” from black Americans about Obama Administration foreign policy, noting that historically blacks “regularly criticize and openly oppose interventionist activities by the USA…”
Fletcher blames this “relative silence” on the paralysis stalking the African-American body politic stemming from a misplaced belief that criticizing Obama is “somehow disloyal.”
Similar to Fletcher’s criticism, some Africans are critical of their leaders.
The Ghana-based Coalition Against Foreign Military Intervention In Africa, a group Alliong works with, criticizes Africa’s leaders and the African Union for failing to “represent the people of Africa” against the resurgent domination efforts by America, Britain, France and other industrialized nations to monopolize Africa’s resources.
“To date, the performance of most African leaders has been nothing less than shameful,” stated a Coalition position paper, stressing an “indisputable” track record of European/American alliances in “staging coups [and] decimating economies [to] control African resources and its people.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Program.
OK, Republicans, we’ll go over this one last time: I am Black. I voted for President Barack Obama. I did not vote for him because he’s Black, and I’m willing to bet my meager paycheck that most Black politically astute voters didn’t vote for his skin color either.
I voted for the president because he was head and shoulders above the lying, smarmy, condescending, snake-eyed weasel you Republicans called a candidate. For most Black folk, and for most Americans in general, it turns out — it wasn’t even a choice.
Look, we Democrats didn’t complain when our nominee, the jelly-spined Michael Dukakis, got his butt kicked by George H.W. Bush in 1988. Dukakis was an idiot, and we knew it. Once we saw the ridiculous photo of that doofus riding in a tank wearing a battle helmet, we realized the race was over. But we sucked it up, and took the beating we deserved, because it was essentially our fault that our candidate was so weak.
Republicans seem to lack even that minimum degree of self-awareness. In defeat, the GOP has pointed fingers at everyone but themselves. Mostly, though, they’ve blamed Blacks and other minorities for their own dismal failures.
Paul Ryan, the phantom running mate — who magically disappeared as soon as he was named for the VP slot, blamed the loss on Obama’s turnout in “urban” communities — as if we’re too stupid to figure out the code. Mitt Romney, still clueless about his own culpability in turning off millions of potential voters, said Obama bought the election with lavish “gifts” to the president’s base supporters at taxpayer expense — “gifts” like health care and student loan forgiveness.
Only Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, attempted to grasp the message voters were sending the GOP on Election Day — and even he only got it half right.
Jindal said, rightly, that the GOP would need to reach out to minorities and disenfranchised voters if the party ever wants to become viable again. He said they’d have to soften the divisive language on rape, homosexuality, immigration, and contraception, to name a few — or perish like the dinosaurs.
Jindal’s on the right track here, but he’s still on the wrong train. The GOP has got to reach out beyond its base of rich old white men, to be sure — but not just by softening the language. They’ll have to completely shift their divisive platform, politics and policies to even give themselves a chance with the millions of voters who rejected them last week in disgust. Just changing the tone will only mask their intentions, and add another layer of hypocrisy to their present pack of lies.
The fact is that millions of Americans — Black, white, gay, Hispanic, or whatever — voted for Obama not because they were snookered by a Democratic snake oil salesman, but because they were justifiably horrified by the things that actually came out of Republicans’ mouths for more than two years.
Did the GOP really think that the softer, gentler Romney who emerged at the very end of the campaign would somehow negate the 47 percent putdown, or the legitimate rape fiasco, or Rush Limbaugh attacking a college student as a slut, or invasive ultrasound procedures forced on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies? Did they think we’d forget about Newt Gingrich’s “food stamp president” slap, or Rick Santorum’s vow not to give white people’s money to lazy Blacks? Were we supposed to look the other way while Michelle Bachmann blamed the economic recession on poor Black folks, or ignore Rick Perry’s frequent hunting trips to the N-word Ranch?
We haven’t even gotten to their unashamed hatred of gays and lesbians, their plan to build an electrified fence to fry undocumented workers crossing the border like a giant bug zapper, or their apparent willingness to let their own grandmothers search through dumpsters for food scraps in exchange for hefty tax cuts for millionaires.
No, they’d rather believe that somehow Black people conspired to undo them, because if history has shown them nothing else, it’s that blaming dark-skinned folks is easier than looking in the mirror.
So go ahead. Call me racist for voting for Obama, while ignoring common sense and a mountain of damning evidence. Blame everything and everyone but yourselves — and your obsession with a continuing white pseudo-Christian plutocracy.
Keep it up all the way until 2016, when you can blame President Hillary Clinton and all those darned women for your next scheduled butt kicking.
Daryl Gale is the city editor of The Philadelphia Tribune.
WASHINGTON — Searching for unity long vanished since the day terrorists astonished America, President Barack Obama will hail national resilience and remember hurting families when he gives the main speech of his Sept. 11 commemorations.
Obama will honor victims at each of the sites where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 attacks — first at ground zero in lower Manhattan, then in Shanksville, Pa. and at the Pentagon. Yet his only address to the nation will come at night, lasting about 15 minutes during an event at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
The message to expect from the president: America's character is stronger than the blow inflicted by al-Qaida or any other threat to the country, Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
The president also will put an emphasis on how lives have changed for the families affected by 9/11 and for the troops who have served since that day. It has been a period in which more than 6,000 service members have died and 45,000 have been wounded in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
"This is something that had an extraordinary toll on individual Americans, and that's what can't be lost amid the broader debates this country has had," said Rhodes, who handles strategic communications for the National Security Council and has been involved in shaping Obama's Sunday remarks.
"You've had families who have had to rebuild their lives. You've had troops that have had to serve. That's very much where his focus is going to be."
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four airplanes and steered them toward the symbols of American democracy and power.
Two planes first crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, which soon collapsed in fire. One smashed into the Pentagon. And the last one, believed to be intended by hijackers for the White House or the Capitol, plummeted into a Pennsylvania field as passengers fought back to avoid calamity.
The White House insists Obama has no intention to change his plans amid a credible but unconfirmed threat of an al-Qaida attack in New York or Washington around the Sept. 11 anniversary.
After an early departure from Washington, Obama will take part in a formal ceremony Sunday morning in New York, joined by former President George W. Bush among other familiar leaders.
Obama is expected to make a short reading, perhaps a few minutes long.
He will then visit Shanksville and the Pentagon, where broader commemorations will have already taken place, to lay wreaths and meet with family members.
In the evening, Obama will give his remarks during the "Concert for Hope," a ceremony of music and readings intended to offer a sense of renewal.
Rhodes said the president, in looking back at the last decade, will seek to reverse the divisiveness of the national debate without dwelling on it.
He said Obama is likely to make the broader point that the United States has endured a terribly difficult time, from the blow of Sept. 11 to the ensuring wars, and come back to degrade the al-Qaida network, kill Osama bin Laden and begin to wind down two long wars.
Obama has been previewing his message, writing in a USA Today opinion column this week that the United States emerges from its major tests stronger than it was.
"That's the America we were on 9/11 and in the days that followed," Obama wrote. "That's the America we can and must always be."
Compared to the time of the attacks, one-third of people think the willingness of people to help each other out has gotten worse, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About 45 percent have seen no change. A smaller number, 22 percent say it has improved
The view about unity among leaders is far bleaker. A total of 71 percent of people say bipartisanship and cooperation in government has worsened.
Obama was a state senator in Illinois at the time of the attacks.
He has recalled going home that night and staying up late, diapering and burping his newborn daughter Sasha, who is now 10. Obama said he remembers wondering what kind of world she would be inheriting. -- (AP)
President Barack Obama, long a proponent of education that will matter in a technology-heavy future, has set aside a portion of his budget to implement a national program that recognizes and rewards teachers that excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — STEM — and provides funds to assist these teachers in delivering educational content.
The National STEM Master Teacher Corps will initially enroll 50 top-level educators and deploy them in 50 sites across the country. The plan is for the ranks to expand to more than 10,000 master teachers in four years. The program will cost $1 billion to create and fund; currently, Obama’s budget is being debated in Congress. The U.S. Department of Education will assist in facilitating the plan.
According to the White House, the master teachers will be classroom-based educators who are highly effective in improving learning outcomes, model outstanding teaching, and will also share their practices and strategies with their professional colleagues. Master teachers know and are deeply interested in their subject, care about improving their craft and inspire both their students and fellow teachers.
The selected teachers will make a four-year dedication to the Corps, and in exchange, will receive up to $20,000 in stipends on top of their base teacher pay. The selection process and the assignment of sites will begin after Congress acts on Obama’s budget.
“If America is to compete for the jobs and industry of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support.”
Several reports show America is lagging behind other developed countries in terms of both teaching STEM-related coursework and producing students — future workers — who are immersed in the field.
Education-based organization Getting Smart recently released a study which found that globally, America ranks 31st in science and 23rd in math. The report also shows that more than 67 percent of physics students are being instructed by teachers who don’t have a physics degree. Nationwide, 61 percent of students are enrolled in chemistry classes that are led by a teacher who doesn’t have a chemistry degree.
The numbers are similar for biology — 49 percent — and math, where more than 31 percent of all students are being taught that core knowledge by a non-degreed instructor.
The STEM Education Coalition — a group of more than 50 science and engineering organizations — recently asked the Appropriations Committee of the United States Senate to support legislation that would strengthen STEM-related learning.
“Empowering U.S. schools to provide our children with the STEM knowledge and problem-solving skills they will need to land the best, most innovative — and highest paying and most secure — jobs of the future is a critical aspect in supporting an American economic recovery,” read the coalition’s position letter, in part. “We hope you will maintain STEM education as a continued bipartisan national priority, even in this time of great fiscal concern.”
Congressman Chaka Fattah, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, has long been a proponent of increasing funding for STEM-related programs and supports Obama’s drive to increase American technological acumen.
“These master teachers — 10,000 strong within a few years — will be inspiring and shaping the next generation of young scientists and engineers,” said Fattah, who recently addressed more than 50 young attendees at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. “President Obama’s innovative plan will help our nation win the future in science, technology and innovation.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —In a Democratic National Convention that featured memorable speeches by first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton, the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, spoke to the American people Thursday night about his first-term accomplishments, and urged voters to elect him to a second term on November 6.
The threat of rain, thunder and lightning during an outdoor speech was the reason the Democratic National Committee and the Obama for America campaign decided to move the speech from the 73,000-seat Bank of America stadium into the smaller 20,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two days of events were held.
Obama for America campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds told the Tribune an estimated 65,000 people from all around the nation were expected to see Obama speak at Bank of America stadium, and another 19,000 people had standby tickets.
In an effort to please the thousands of potential voters who were disappointed they could not see Obama speak in person in Charlotte, the president participated in a conference call Thursday before his speech to thank supporters. Obama supporters around the nation, including thousands in Charlotte who had tickets, saw the speech at watch parties or in their hotel rooms.
Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Jim Burn said Pennsylvania’s electoral votes are key to Obama’s chances of winning the election. He said in order to win, the state party must continue to stress the president’s record over the past three and a half years of job creation (including 29 straight months of national job growth) and saving the country from the possible worst fiscal collapse since the Great Depression.
“African-American voters are as important to Pennsylvania turnout and the success of President Obama as any of our bases,” Burn said. “Sure he (Obama) has a lot of work to do. Every campaign is like a snowflake — there are no two identical campaigns. Most Pennsylvanians, and most Americans, have already made up their minds about who they’re voting for. It’s all about the ground game now, and all about voter turnout. There is nothing in this Republican ticket that is conducive to African-American voters voting for it.”
The delegates to the convention from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are leaving Charlotte fired up about the final weeks of this year’s campaign and ready to go do everything possible to re-elect President Obama and homegrown Vice President Joe Biden, a Delaware senator and Pennsylvania native. Biden also gave a speech accepting his vice-presidential nomination right before the president’s speech.
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, the wife of Philadelphia State Sen. Vincent Hughes, attended the convention with her husband. She says she cannot fathom that any African-American would vote for Romney over Obama.
“Don’t look at me with your Black self and ask, ‘Why should I support the brother?,’” Ralph said. “Stop that foolishness about sitting this thing out. If you’re confused about who to vote for, vote for Barack Obama. What are you going to do? Give your vote to Mitt Romney by voting for nobody? That is madness.”
“Brothers and sisters in the beauty shops and the barber shops know when the okie doke is being played on them,” Sen. Hughes added. “ They know what’s up. We just have to act now like we got some sense and send the message out. When the president says ‘Do you have my back?, we need to stand up and say “yea brother, we’ve got you back and we’re going to stand with you and we’re not going to stand for this foolishness.’”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who delivered a speech yesterday, said a Romney administration would be a disaster for the nation.
“To Mitt Romney, education is a luxury,” Nutter said in prepared remarks. “ As governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed universal pre-K. In his first year, K-12 schools saw drastic cuts that lead to teacher layoffs. He failed his students. Whose values do you want in the Oval Office? I know who Philly wants, who Pennsylvania wants, and who you want — President Barack Obama.”
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, a delegate to this year’s convention, said now that the Democratic and Republican conventions are over, it is a two-month sprint to Election Day to convince Pennsylvanians and Philadelphians to vote for Obama and Biden.
“I think the public will understand that he (Obama) needs the next four years to complete his agenda,” Tasco said. “From day one, the Republicans made up their minds they weren’t going to do anything to help the president succeed. They don’t want him, and it is personal. I just have to say it — I just think it is outright racism.”
When the Republican national convention came to Philadelphia in 2000, I attended every session of every day. At the time, I was working as a columnist at another newspaper here in town, and I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column mocking the GOP’s oft-repeated claim that week to be “the party of inclusion.”
Clearly that column was 12 years ahead of its time, since it’s become crystal clear this week that if there’s anything the Grand Old Party fears more than taxes, it’s being in close proximity to Black and brown people.
At the convention in Tampa, there are fewer Black people than ever, both in the audience and at the podium. Sure, they trotted out Condi Rice, Mia Love and Artur Davis in a half-hearted attempt at the illusion of diversity, but their actions spoke louder, and proved the gesture to be mere window dressing.
The real GOP was on display as well — with all its racial animosity intact. A couple of attendees were thrown out Tuesday for throwing peanuts at a Black CNN camera operator, telling her, “This is how we feed the animals.”
The offending racists were ejected from the forum, and late Tuesday night the GOP organizers issued a non-apology statement calling their actions “inexcusable and unacceptable.” What they didn’t say was that they’re sorry, or that any punishment was meted out to the peanut throwers beyond escorting them from the premises.
Organizers wouldn’t even say whether the pair’s credentials had been pulled, or if they were allowed to return the next day. The GOP, and coincidentally CNN, seemed content to dismiss the behavior as an aberration, and move on.
I wonder, though, if they’d have taken the same boys-will-be-boys attitude if there were, say, a couple of mean-looking, Black guys intimidating a white woman. Something tells me there would have been a lot more action than a hastily written repudiation, and those guys would be sitting in a cell until first daughter Malia Obama runs for president in 2036.
Then there’s Monday’s incident, in which Puerto Rican Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas took the stage, and was nearly drowned out by boos, catcalls and the chant of “USA! USA! USA!” It was an embarrassing moment, and one that played into the narrative of the GOP’s disdain for brown people who speak English with an accent; but event organizers were quick with another explanation.
The chants and catcalls while Fonalledas was on stage, they said, were the result of Ron Paul supporters on the floor being disruptive in their protest of rule changes which would shut down support of anyone other than the presumptive nominee in future conventions, and not directed at immigrants in general, or Fonalledas in particular.
It’s easy to see how convention organizers would be especially sensitive to hints of racism, considering that their party has become older and whiter than ever, and no longer bothers to try to convince anyone that they’d like to become more diverse.
What’s more difficult to understand is how the GOP repeatedly demonizes, animalizes and dehumanizes minorities — and blames Black and brown people for every problem in America — but then seems genuinely surprised that Mitt Romney is polling lately with zero percent of the Black vote.
Even after the draconian immigration laws and threats of electrifying a border fence across the Rio Grande; even after voter ID laws threaten to undermine the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters; even after telling women they should be forced to bear the child of a rapist; and after Romney himself is out there telling “birther” jokes, they somehow fail to understand why their policies are unpopular among anyone who isn’t white, straight and rich.
In fairness, some Republicans get it. Sen. Lindsey Graham was quoted this week as saying, “The demographics race, we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry, white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
He’s right. Of course, the constant lying about President Obama’s record, and the thinly disguised racial code words won’t help their case with minorities either. After all, if your cause is just, and you’re in the right, why would you have to lie?
For the record, Romney’s camp did address the lies and truth-stretching they’ve been doing. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a panel organized by ABC News. Translation: The lies appear to be working, so we’re going to keep it up.
As long as they maintain their present policy of avoiding both the truth and minority voters in light of the nation’s changing demographics, the GOP knows it’s shooting itself in the foot in regard to long-term viability.
They just can’t help themselves.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.
We all should well remember that in the aftermath of President Nelson Mandela winning the election in South Africa in 1994, there soon began a growing list of cynics and political pundits who mistakenly believed that President Mandela was compromising too much with the political forces of opposition at the expense of paying attention to the socioeconomic needs of the core of his base constituency in the African National Congress.
Today, some of us are hearing similar misplaced remarks and accusations about President Barack Obama, in particular from some African-American leaders and critics. It was just three years ago in November 2008 that our votes for freedom were felt and celebrated all over the world with the election of President Obama. People were literally dancing in the streets.
Historic elections of Black people to national and global positions of political and economic power never occur solely in a vacuum. Mandela’s and Obama’s elections respectively, I believe, represented the evidence of the God-factor that ultimately helps to determine the successful outcome of long protracted struggles between those that are oppressed and their oppressors.
The aspirations and struggles of African people for freedom, justice, equality and empowerment have helped to advance the cause of freedom and justice for all people throughout the world. The most brutal forms of slavery, genocide and apartheid for centuries never extinguished or eliminated the God-given humanity of African people across Africa, nor across the Americas.
Today we must not allow ourselves to get lost in the desert of despair and hopelessness because of the persistence of poverty, unemployment, and injustice even though we have Black presidents in many nations today including the United States. But we should not take what progress that has been made for granted.
The fact of the matter is that both Mandela and Obama not only achieved historic and monumental political victories, they both, with their own unique intellects and outstanding leadership abilities, have helped to shape the world community to better advance the cause of liberation, freedom and empowerment. The truth is there is more opportunity today for African Americans to move forward than ever before if we would work harder together, pool our trillion-dollar resources, and raise up another young generation of freedom fighters, entrepreneurs and institution-builders.
Thus, I stand firmly for the re-election of President Obama without reservation. We cannot afford to become cynical and hopeless. Real social change does not happen overnight or in three to four years. But time is on our side because God is on our side if we do the right things at the right times at the right places not just for ourselves but for all people.
Don’t worry, this is not a sermon. It is, however, a sober reminder to those of us who may succumb to some malignant cases of social amnesia or to those who are addicted to that self-destructive disease known as “The Willie Lynch Syndrome.” Yes, there are ample reasons to express concerns and criticisms about the continuing plight of millions of our brothers and sisters in our communities who are crying out for a better quality of life.
But engaging in efforts to derail the re-election of President Barack Obama is foolhardy and counterproductive to the overall interests of the African-American, Latino-American and other progressive constituencies in the United States.
I like to quote old African proverbs because they are so universally relevant to both the contradictions and opportunities that we face today as we prepare to enter into the 2012 national political season. A wise man from the Congo once said, “Don’t be fooled by those who want you to exchange your soul for a trinket — for the eternal is more valuable than a thing that may look good only for one moment in time.” W.E.B Dubois reminded us that the soul of Black people should never be for sale on the auction block of political expediency. Do not let the tea party sell you a cup of politically contaminated brew. Stay sober and conscious of what is happening.
Remember Willie Lynch. The 2012 elections in the United States will be the most important elections of our lifetime. This will be a referendum on going forward or going backward. In many states there have measures put in place to discourage and to suppress the Black and other minority vote. We must challenge these repressive voting policies in every state and community.
Be careful what you pray for because our prayers will be answered. That is why I am optimistic. I believe President Obama will be re-elected. But we must not rest as if this is a done deal because it will be a struggle and another historic contest. Don’t miss or forsake your chance and responsibility to participate in civic action. Vote and make an important difference.
Yes, every vote will count if you vote! We are at another pivotal time. Watch closely how the U.S. Congress will handle the next vote on the deficit. Watch the economy turn around to the positive in the face of all the negative commentators. Watch how President Obama will continue to take the high road during the presidential debates.
I am writing this piece for the NNPA from Johannesburg, South Africa where I am reminded that our struggle for freedom is constant. The entire world is watching America and the success of President Barack H. Obama. No, it will not be the X-factor, but it will be the God-factor that will ultimately win. — (NNPA)
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is senior advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
Democrats are warning that vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s much-discussed budget proposal would “devastate” public and higher education in Pennsylvania.
“While President Obama has worked to make quality affordable education available and accessible to all, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s budget plan would, in fact, reverse that progress,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “Pennsylvania students would feel a devastating impact … all while preserving historic tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
The Obama campaign pulled together Nutter, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn from South Carolina and two teachers from Philadelphia public schools — Juanita Leyath, a speech therapist and Padraic McCaffery, an English and social studies teacher — to condemn the possibility of budget cuts to federal education spending should the Republicans seize the White House on Nov. 6.
Clyburn laid out the party’s point of view, saying that congressional Democrats, along with the president, have worked to lower the barriers to education.
“Just one example is the Pell Grant,” he said. “We took $60 million that would be going to banks to administer the program and turned the program into a direct loan so that colleges and universities would be able to direct those resources to the students themselves … we were able to double the number of students getting Pell Grants, and we were able to increase the grant size from around $4,600 per pupil to around $5,400 per pupil.”
Congress also provided $2 billion more for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he said.
A Republican White House would reverse those gains, the two men agreed.
Nutter laid out a series of specific numbers, projections from the Obama campaign as to how the Romney/Ryan budget could impact Pennsylvania schools. The figures were based on across the board cuts under Ryan’s plan, which would slash federal spending by about 20 percent over the next decade.
According to those figures: $186 million in cuts for public schools, 12,000 fewer spots in Head Start, an average cut of $810 college scholarships for 313,000 Pennsylvania college students and 9,180 fewer work study positions for state college students.
In May, Romney visited a school in West Philadelphia, where he called for larger class sizes.
“Every second grader knows that’s not right,” Nutter said.
Romney has said he would not necessarily implement the Ryan budget, which includes $5.3 trillion in spending cuts — but since choosing Ryan as his running mate a week ago, debate on the plan has dominated the national conversation. While Ryan has laid out a plan that includes a set of sweeping numbers, he has consistently declined to get specific about exactly where he would cut or what tax deductions he would eliminate in an effort to balance the federal budget.
Leyath said she’s seen the impact of Obama’s plans personally. A teacher in Olney and the Northeast, she said the president’s stimulus package kept teachers working, allowing the district to keep class sizes smaller which ultimately benefits her students, who are “overwhelmingly Latino or African-American, or who come from low-income families.”
“I am standing with the president because I have seen how much he had done these last four years,” she said. “I know he is the man to keep us moving forward.”
Conservative members to form ‘Liberate Philadelphia’ to restate their commitment to free enterprise
A coalition of local Tea Party groups – under the umbrella of the Independence Tea Party Association – is “monitoring” Occupy Philadelphia protestors camped out at city hall.
“Occupy Philadelphia has threatened to block traffic and set up tents – all without acquiring the proper permits. The Tea Party condemns such behavior,” said Teri Adams, the association’s president, in a statement.
Tea Partiers said they joined together and are forming a group called Liberate Philadelphia to “unequivocally restate their commitment to free enterprise and the U.S. Constitution against a potential political force and social movement which they say could threaten both” adding that it would be “closely watching” protestors.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has now reportedly sprung up in 100 cities across the country, came to Philadelphia on Thursday bringing hundreds of protestors to Dilworth Plaza on the western side of city hall. Their numbers thinned from a peak of about 1,500 at noontime Thursday to about 300 people milling around at about 11 a.m. Friday.
So far, the demonstration has remained peaceful. Police reported no arrests or citations, at Tribune press time on Friday.
City officials acknowledged that the group lacked the required $20 permit adding that protest leaders have been very cooperative.
“While they have not secured the permit yet, they certainly have cooperated with the police department,” said Mark McDonald, a spokesman from the mayor’s office. “We’re hoping they will soon take the appropriate action.”
The southern end of Dilworth Plaza looked like a tent city Friday as protestors settled in for what appeared to be a protracted stay. Protestors in Manhattan have occupied Zuccotti Park for nearly three weeks.
Echoing their counterparts in New York City, local protestors said they represented 99 percent of the American people who were struggling in the current recession and were venting their anger against corporations and the wealthy.
“A large part of where we find ourselves is because of dereliction of duty by a lot of people - pension managers, bankers and fund managers,” said protestor Robert Creamer. “Why are we seeing countries going bankrupt? People who are in control of multi-millions of dollars need to be aware of what their doing. Are they co-conspirators perhaps?”
Tea Partiers had a starkly different view.
“Their notion that Wall Street and corporations are the root of all evil is foreign to us,” Rich Davis, founder of a Tea Party group called Leaders of American Sheepdogs. “The recent death of Steve Jobs should serve as a reminder of the beneficial nature of businesses such as Apple Inc., of which Mr. Jobs had contributed substantially.”
Both the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement give vent to what is seen as growing political and economic discontent, albeit from different ends of the political spectrum.
Members of the Tea Party want less government and have coalesced around their opposition to President Obama.
“The federal government, led by the Obama Administration, is stifling the American economy with its reckless deficit spending and zealous over-regulation of the private sector economy,” said Adams. ”In 2012, we plan on electing a new president to occupy the White House, one who shares our convictions and can lead our nation back to economic prosperity.”
The Occupy movement, which has a less articulate focus, has called for more government regulation of the nation’s banks and the stock market.
“From the day Obama took office the Republicans were out to stop him,” said protestor John Speer. “They didn’t want him in office and were willing to risk the nation to unseat him. They haven’t put the people first, they put unseating Obama first. That’s the 1 percent who are behind this.”