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The Ebola Irony

The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has taken predictable turns for the worst. First leapfrogging from Sierra Leone to Guinea to Liberia to Nigeria, and then moving overseas to Dallas, Texas and Spain. The reality of an intercontinental plague that runs on jet fuel, ignorance and collapsing health infrastructures is difficult to contemplate, much less accept.

We have been assured by distinguished doctors and scientists that Ebola does not pose a real and present danger to Americans. But the recent Texas misadventure does not give us comfort and a sneaking suspicion lurks in the minds of many – suppose the doctors and scientists don’t know what they don’t know?

It took about two heartbeats for the Teapublicans to come thundering out of the Valley of the Stupid to seize upon the tragedy of Ebola to once again criticize President Obama. One can suppose that after almost six years, the Teapublican playbook is worn and dog-eared and that even the most rabid of the Obamaphobes brays verbal attacks almost by rote.

Somehow, the playbook goes, President Obama should have shown more “leadership” by taking “action” once the Ebola outbreak was made known. Indeed, it is the fault of the Obama Administration that there hasn’t been more research on Ebola before the opening curtain on this tragedy was raised.

The irony of the last bit of moronic critique should not be ignored. Because it is the Teapublican Party that has advocated the draconian cuts in the federal budget that, even when modified, have resulted in massive reductions in the activity of the federal government – the shutdown of the federal government last year being only one surreal example.

The fact is that the majority of the Teapublicans in the House and Senate have signed Grover Norquist’s “No Tax Pledge”. By refusing to raise taxes for any reason at any time, these Teapublican sheep disguised as legislators are buying into the notion that the amount of federal spending should equal a percentage of GDP no higher than the level of government spending in 1895 (that is not a misprint).

Keep in mind that in 1895 there was no Food and Drug Administration, no Environmental Protection Agency and………………….no Center for Disease Control. The bizarre lunacy of the Teapublicans criticizing the lack of robust research at the CDC, the same agency that was shut down by Teapublicans, seems to be sheltered in the alternate universe in which they reside –where Everything Obama is Bad – logic, intelligence and common sense be damned.

It is interesting that those who believe in less government really believe that until they don’t. That is, until there is a BP oil spill. That is, until there is a 9/11 tragedy. That is, until the economy goes into a death spiral, threatening to take the automobile industry and banking industry with it.

But once the crisis passes, insanity returns without embarrassment or shame on the part of the Teapublicans. Indeed, they come across as the kind of party that would call for the closing of a fire house after it put out the fire at their headquarters.

This kind of Marx Brothers routine might make sense in a comedy show, but in the real world in which we all reside, the philosophy of smaller government only makes sense until it doesn’t. And it is at that point that we all will suffer.

Amber Light Warning

In the earliest stages of any drivers education course students are taught to heed red lights (stop), green lights (go) and amber lights (caution). The current turmoil on this planet has triggered a series of amber lights flashing over Iraq, the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and many other locations. The cautious approach to this cascade of crises would seem to be the only reasonable course of action to follow. So why is President Obama being chastised, criticized and castigated for being “too cautious”.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has been a longtime supporter of President Obama, and her comments to the effect that he has been “too cautious” in handling the multiple cauldrons of war and conflict were greeted with much interest. The Teapublicans who represent the permanent critics of Anything Obama pointed to Senator Feinstein’s comments as proof positive that their own criticism is not partisan but reflective of the ineffectiveness of the Obama Administration.

Some further thought on the matter might lead to a different conclusion. After all, there are (too) many American political leaders and commentators who seem to live in some mythical halcyon past when the United States could impose some kind of Pax Americana on the rest of the planet. From the Monroe Doctrine to the Berlin Airlift to the Korean War, there is supposed to have been a time, or so the thinking seems to indicate, when the United States could summon the will to impose peace and send despots scurrying back to their lairs.

Of course the Monroe Doctrine presumed an imperial American perspective on all of the countries in the Americas and one could ask the people of Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic how that has worked out. The Berlin Airlift was absolutely humanitarian in nature and, while it was quite dramatic, the literal and virtual Berlin Wall did not fall for another four decades.

The Korean War is perhaps the best example of what President Obama absolutely should not do. Keep in mind that although the United States led a multilateral military venture against the Chinese and North Koreans, six decades later – a literal lifetime – American troops are still in Korea with no apparent timetable for their eventual departure.

When critics and commentators call for President Obama to “do something” in the multiple war zones around the planet they do not seem to think about the consequences, intended and unintended, of such calls for action. Drones and jet planes raining destruction on ISIS may seem to confront this new barbaric and amorphous threat to world peace. But it is that same barbaric and amorphous organization that can terrorize American journalists in the Middle East or morph into terror and danger in London, New York or Paris.

Committing American troops to any of these war zones without a clear strategy and an absolute exit plan and timetable is pure madness. And who will commit the lives and limbs of their son or daughter to this global meat grinder under such circumstances? The silence to this question, if asked in the halls of Congress or on the television talk shows would be deafening. And yet the chatter continues.

President Obama has been criticized for honestly stating that the United States does not have a strategy for dealing with ISIS – as if there would be some useful strategy in a computer file at the Pentagon or the NSA – that could possibly anticipate the bleak and bizarre nature of this new organization that has temporarily claimed the spotlight on the world stage. These critics continue to believe in the mythical omnipotence of America.

While myths have their place in culture, they have no place in the very real and dangerous world in which we all live today. It is better for this country to be “too cautious” rather than drink the myth Kool-Aid and plunge headlong into the bloody maw of multiple wars across this planet – without a plan, without a strategy and without a clear set of goals and objectives.

President Obama was elected to serve the people of the United States and not to propagate myths and legends that are not based on truth and that do nothing to help us make informed and intelligent decisions in the volatile atmosphere in the fall of 2014.

Since the evening of the  very day day he was inaugurated as President of the United States on January 19, 2009, the opposition to Barack Obama has sought to delegitimize his presidency, obstruct his administration all the while dismissing his achievements and exaggerating his missteps. The results have been mixed. President Obama was reelected by a sizeable vote in 20012. Today his poll numbers are at an all-time low. On the Planet Teapublican that means it is time to play the Impeachment Card.

Only two American presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon narrowly escaped almost certain impeachment and conviction by resigning and fleeing the White House in disgrace). It is worth noting that neither impeachment resulted in conviction, leading to the slightly obvious conclusion that these proceedings were politically motivated rather than being inspired by “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The politically charged atmosphere of the Obama Administration where negative ions are almost visible, it should come as no surprise that Teapublicans are feeling more empowered to use the “I” word every day. Of course it is hard to bring impeachment proceedings because his very presence in the White House offends the racial and political sensibilities of his opposition. That is where the Prelude to Impeachment becomes a part of the always rickety and forever bizarre Teapublican strategy.

While highly respected constitutional scholars like Sarah Palin and Darrell Issa have opined that there are already grounds to impeach President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner has settled on a game plan that begins with the House of Representatives filing a lawsuit against the president. The basis for this lawsuit appears to center around the use of executive orders and the president exercising his discretion in the face of historic Congressional inaction.

It must be noted that lawsuits have been filed by Congress against the President in years past. But this planned lawsuit must be seen within the context of a six year campaign to get Barack Obama out of the White House by any means necessary.

The “birther” mania, while brainless and idiotic, was given CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation through nuance, implication and inference by the likes of John Boehner, Mitt Romney and other “serious Teapublicans”, to say nothing of the braying of Donald Trump, the screeching of Sarah Palin and the caterwauling of Michele Bachmann. Even the dimmest of these dim bulbs have always known that the “birther” strategy was not going to work, but it represented a few grains of hope on the hard scrabble earth of reality.

Now there is some real sustenance for the meat eaters on the right. A lawsuit sounds sane and reasonable and it involves real lawyers and real judges – nothing nutty like questioning the provenance of a birth certificate.
A lawsuit by the United States Congress sounds reality-based and if it wasn’t in the sixth year of the Obama Era, it might possible that there would be a credible basis for legal action.

But this is the sixth year of the Obama Era and it is hard to separate the delegitimizing efforts of these six years from this proposed lawsuit. The fact that law school professors and other “scholars” have supported the notion of this lawsuit misses the point.

The proposed lawsuit is a clear Prelude to Impeachment. The Teapublican strategy can be described as follows:
1. File a lawsuit against President Obama claiming that he has overstepped his constitutional boundaries.
2. Tie up the Obama Administration and the media attention for the next few months.
3. Await the 2014 election results.
4. Regardless results of the election and the lawsuit commence impeachment proceedings in 2015.
5. Tie up the Obama Administration and media attention for all of 2015.
6. Even with the likely event that President Obama will not be convicted even if he is impeached; leave President Obama as the lamest of lame ducks in 2016 with his legacy forever tarnished.

This is the Teapublican strategy which, if you will notice, does nothing to address the economy, the environment, the infrastructure, immigration reform or immigration. What this strategy represents is the last major assault by the Teapublicans against President Obama.

The Disaster That Won’t Go Away

Just as storm clouds just over the horizon are there for all to see, the prospect of horrific disaster looms over this country as the Obama Administration edges closer to the slippery precipice of military engagement in the Middle East. The irony is that Senator Obama was elected to extricate this country from the misguided policies in Afghanistan and the web of bloody lies that characterized the Iraq war plan. President Obama was reelected in part because he kept his promises on these important matters and resisted the urgings of Teapublican chickenhawks to take this country into war again.

History tells us that the United States went to war in Afghanistan with no credible exit plan. The U.S. went into Afghanistan with bloodlust fueled by 9/11 and lurched through that country like someone who gets punched in the nose in a dark room and is ready to hit anyone and everyone when the lights go on.

There can be no serious doubt that the United States went to war in Iraq based on lies, misinformation and a misguided desire on the part of the Bush-Cheney cabal to follow the neocon playbook in the Middle East. Thousands of American troops died in Iraq in vain. Tens of thousands of Americans suffered injury and trauma that they will endure for the rest of their lives for no good reason. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in their own homeland for no cause that anyone can explain.

Now, as Iraq seems to plunge into a canyon of death, destruction and self-inflicted wounds – due mainly to the instability brought about by the American invasion – there is a call for the United States to “do something”. And, seemingly in response to the squawks and chirps of Teapublican chickenhawks, President Obama has sent 800 military “advisors” to Iraq. The lessons of Vietnam tell us that “advisors” can become combat troops in the flash of an IED.

And in Syria the tyrannical regime of Bashir Assad has been under attack for over two years. The attacks are coming from Syrians and nameless others who seem to be looking for a good place to fight. There is no doubt that the Assad regime is despicable in so many ways. There is also no doubt that the United States has no nickels in this dime and that its military engagement in Syria can only lead to more death and destruction for Americans – in Syria, and quite likely in the United States.

Yet, President Obama is sending a half billion dollars of military aid to “moderate rebels in Syria – whatever “moderate” might mean in that part of the world. One would hope that someone in the Obama Administration might remember this country providing military aid to freedom loving people in another theater – Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Those freedom loving people were led by Osama bin Laden and we know how that story ended.

Meanwhile a new group called ISIS respects no borders or boundaries and has declared an Islamic caliphate from North Africa to Afghanistan. ISIS has been disowned by Al Qaeda as too radical. And somehow the U.S. is supposed to have a military answer for ISIS.

There simply can be no justification for bringing this country to the slippery slope of war in the Middle East – a part of the world that has been tossed and turned by conquests, crusades, colonization and countless wars. The United States cannot make it right for with all the good intentions in the world.

There is no comfort that President Obama or the Teapublican chickenhawks can provide to the inevitable widows and orphans of American troops who must surely die if this strategy is pursued. And the sadly reality it, they do not have to die.

Seeming to respond to the Teapublican chicken hawks beating the drums of war, President Obama has announced that he will send $500 million of military aid to Syrian rebels. What could go wrong? Meanwhile, in Mississippi we had the opportunity to watch Teapublicans flip the script with Senator Thad Cochran trying to get black people to vote. And finally, House Speaker John Boehner has announced that he plans to sue President Obama for not upholding the laws of this country. Is this a flimsy and transparent prelude to impeachment?

The Bloody and Slippery Slope

President Obama now wants to inject a half billion dollars of weapons and military assistance into the churning and bloody swamp of sectarian violence known as Syria. He has stated that this aid will go to “moderate” rebels, whatever that is supposed to mean.

This is a movie that we have seen before. Then it was called assistance to the “freedom loving people” of Afghanistan who turned out to be the Taliban, al Qaeda and………..Osama bin Laden.

There are several outcomes and none of them good. The “moderate” rebels may turn out to be not so “moderate” and use their gift of weapons against Americans and American interests the next time some yahoo minister in America burns a Koran.

The “moderate” rebels may turn out to be stand-ins for al Qaeda and ISIS and the gift of arms will go directly to sworn enemies of the United States.

Or, the “moderate” rebels may turn out to be not such great fighters and will simply surrender their weapons or lose them in battle – weapons that will then be used against the United States.

Or, the targets of the “moderate” rebels will decide to attack the United States soldiers, personnel and interests wherever they can find them.

This move by the President seems to be a sign that the pressure from the Teapublican chicken hawks is finally getting to him, and that he feels it is necessary to “do something” in Syria. But this is wrong in conception, wrong in execution and fraught with fatal circumstances for this country. Senator Obama was elected to do better than this. President Obama was re-elected to do better than this.

Nothing good can possibly come from this move.

Mississippi Scam

Mississippi has always been the place where the dreams of black people go to die. During the horror of American racial slavery, Mississippi and Louisiana were the worst places for black people.

Since Emancipation, black people have been routinely and institutionally terrorized. The history of black people seeking to vote is written with the blood of martyrs.

This past week, the irony of Teapublican Senator Thad Cochran seeking the vote of black Mississippi citizens in order to eke out a primary win was ghastly and instructive. It is ghastly because Senator Cochran is a blatant hypocrite in seeking the vote of the black people of Mississippi. His record indicates absolutely nothing that the black people in Mississippi should support – except that he was slightly less racist than his opponent who accepted campaign donations from the Ku Klux Klan.

The instructive aspect of this horror show is that the black people of Mississippi have more power than they have exercised. With 37% of the registered voters in that misbegotten state being black, there is tremendous potential for change, reformation and progress.

Perhaps Thad Cochran’s chicanery can serve as a wakeup call for the black people of Mississippi.

Sneak Preview

House Speaker John Boehner has determined in his wisdom that he should further waste taxpayer dollars by suing President Obama for not faithfully carrying out the laws of the United States. His real, and thinly veiled, cause of action is that President Obama is not doing what Speaker Boehner and the Teapublicans want him to do.

Even though Barack Obama has won two national elections by significant margins, the Teapublicans will stop at nothing in their efforts to delegitimize this lawfully elected President of the United States.

Is this the prelude to an impeachment strategy in 2015? What do you think?

Stay strong and be great!

The mission of the Teapublicans has been to diminish the Obama presidency and to dismantle each and every aspect of his legacy. One aspect of his legacy has been his steady extraction of this country from the bloody muck and mire of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One war (Afghanistan) was conducted without an exit strategy. The other (Iraq) was a war based on lies and a mindless neocon strategy that was doomed at birth. Everyone associated with the origin and implementation of these mindless atrocities owes it to America the planet to just be quiet and wallow in their shame in an undisclosed location.

Now it appears that the damage done to America and the planet is not enough for some miscreants disguised as pundits, experts and know it alls. Instead we are forced to witness Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Judith Miller and other authors of the twenty-first century American nightmare weigh in on yet another unfolding tragedy in Iraq. Incredibly, they have the nerve and temerity to shamelessly criticize President Obama because the broken egg called Iraq can never be put together again.

Remember that we are talking about Dick Cheney who absolutely engineered the lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This would be the same Dick Cheney who was a world class draft dodger in his youth, claiming that there were other ways in which he could serve his country better – although no one knows what that service might have been. This is the same Dick Cheney who claimed that American troops would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq – before over 4000 of them were killed and tens of thousands were maimed and damaged for life.

Somehow this Dick Cheney is actually given the platform of the Wall Street Journal to spew more lies and mistruths in defense of the damnable policy and legacy of death, destruction and defeat for which he is primarily responsible. There is simply nothing of value, substance or merit that arose from the American invasion of Iraq. By destabilizing a fragile sector of the planet, the Bush-Cheney Gang has given a foothold for unimaginable sectarian violence that threatens to spill over to every corner of Earth.

President Obama has pursued a prudent, reasonable and intelligent policy in getting American troops out of Iraq. That this policy has been imperfect should come as no surprise given the botched butchering of any semblance of order by Dick Cheney, playing Geppetto to George Bush’s Pinocchio.

What is insulting, grotesque and shameless is that the high profile and spear carrier chicken hawks have the audacity to suggest that there is some kind of military action that President Obama should pursue, or should have pursued, that would have kept Sunnis and Shiites from continue their blood feud which goes back……….centuries. What is insulting, grotesque and shameless is that these Teapublican chicken hawks would infer, suggest or hint at another round of military intervention in Iraq.

What is worse is that virtually none of these Teapublican chicken hawk impostors, starting with Dick Cheney have ever served a moment in military combat. Yet they cannot wait to send another American son or daughter to certain death or damage for a cause that defies logic, explanation or justification.

The pillorying and bullying of President Obama will continue until January 2017 – and probably beyond. Part of this goes with the territory of him being President of the United States. Part of this probably goes with the territory of him being the first black President of the United States.

But it is beyond ragged white lines of political warfare to send more American men and women into the bloody maw of combat in Iraq to prove an uprovable point – that somehow and some way George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were right.

It seems like yesterday, but 44 years ago this month I had the privilege of both graduating from Dartmouth College and speaking at the commencement exercises. I was reading that speech recently and I was amazed at how much has changed and how little has changed. I hope that you will appreciate this “Voice from the Past”.

Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Mr. President, Faculty and Guests:

We are gathered here this morning to celebrate what is supposed to be a great day, a day of significance, and a day of meaning for all those involved. But what does this day mean for us, what does this day mean for us, the Black students who have survived the Dartmouth College experience?

This day means that we recognize ourselves as being the result of years of labor and sacrifice, the labor of fathers, the sacrifice of mothers, the encouragement and help from brothers and sisters, the support of friends. What we owe for this labor, this sacrifice, this encouragement, this help, this support, we can never pay back in material terms no matter how hard we try. For what we have been given can never be measured in terms of money, the god of fools. For what we have been given was given in the spirit of love and we must return in the same that love, otherwise we have not survived the Dartmouth experience, but rather we have been crushed by it.

If we are to make the years of labor and sacrifice meaningful, then we must dedicate ourselves to our people. We must dedicate ourselves to Black freedom and Black peace of mind, no matter what the obstacles, no matter what the barriers, no matter what the side alleys that lead to dead ends of frustration and negation. We must dedicate ourselves to putting an end to the sad humor of the contradiction of a Black man in a white man’s school trying to learn how to free himself.

We were made to be free, Black men and Black women were not meant to be anybody’s hand servants or slaves, we were meant to stand tall and proud under the sky of liberation without any clouds of oppression or injustice on the horizons of our minds. And if we are to be free once more, then we must not be surprised by whatever America tries to do to us. Three hundred years of oppression, three hundred years of blood, three hundred years of brutal and inhuman treatment should have taught us that much.

But, when we were first put in chains, our ancestors were surprised; when Reconstruction was found to be a sick white joke we were surprised; when Marcus Garvey was railroaded to prison, we were surprised; when Emmett Till and Mack Parker were murdered, we were surprised; when Malcolm X, the prince of blackness was murdered in cold blood we were surprised; when Martin Luther King, the prince of peace, was killed were still surprised; when Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed by the animals that masquerade as Chicago police, were we were still surprised; and even last month, when more of our brothers and sisters were shot down in Augusta and Jackson, we were surprised.

Well, we can’t be surprised any longer. What goes around comes around, and it’s time for the other folks to be surprised.

We have been told to believe in America, to believe that there was something deep down inside America that was good. And what has happened?

Black brothers die daily in the Indochina madness that is just another example of the sickness of America spilling out all over the world, and still be try to believe; Nixon tells Black people that he doesn’t give a damn about us, that he would rather put a white man on the moon than put food into a Black (or white) child’s stomach, and still we try to believe; the Congressional Records of the United States detail the construction and planned use of concentration camps and still we are supposed to believe.

The time has now come for us to believe in ourselves. The time has come to make ourselves free. Our stars of freedom still shine and our saints of righteousness do live. You only have to look around.

The stars are in the eyes of little Black babies and children who were born destined only for freedom, the saints of righteousness are the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters who have provided the strength for Blackness to survive in the face of the forces of evil.

The time is coming, the time has got to come, when freedom will be seen in our smiles, and our Blackness will mean freedom. We have to believe this, because this is the only reality left to us.

That is what we are about, that is what today means for us. To best sum up our feelings though, I would like to quote a poem written by Brother Herschel Johnson, of this Class of 1970, as this poem speaks for the souls and spirits of all of us:

For you mothers with dirt-rough hands

For you with backs aching from bending

And flushing and scrubbing

For all you women on transit

You with brown bags under your arms

Bringing home the leavings of white folks

Bringing it to your children

For all you Black mothers and fathers

Who had to live with humility

And yet have had the pride to survive

For you Black mothers and fathers who raised us

Your men are now with you.

Thank you and may a beautiful Black peace always be with you.

 

This was written 44 years ago – it could have been written today.

 

Wallace Ford is the Chairman of the Public Administration Department at Medgar Evers College in New York City and the author of two novels, The Pride and What You Sow.

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