Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, October 5, 2012

For Obama, No More Excuses

Published on Friday, October 5, 2012 by Demos

For Obama, No More Excuses

by Bob Herbert

It's time to stop making excuses for Barack Obama. With so much at stake in this election, his performance at the debate on Wednesday night was indefensible.

President Obama listens to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in their first debate at the University of Denver. (Photo: LA Times)

Ever since he was elected, there have been reasons offered, either publicly or privately, for why Obama has been unable to fully engage some of the nation's most important challenges. Despite the rampant increase in poverty in the worst downturn since the Depression, Obama supporters whispered that he couldn't do more for the poor and couldn't speak out more forcefully on their behalf because that would not be politically advantageous. So nearly all of his economic initiatives had to be couched in language that referred to the middle class, even though the poor were being hurt far worse. LBJ could launch a war on poverty but not Barack Obama.

Black Americans have been disproportionately clobbered by the Great Recession and its aftermath, losing both income and wealth at staggering rates. Much of the black community is enduring a full-blown economic depression. But Obama and his advisers have been unwilling to address this catastrophe openly and forcefully out of fear that the president would be perceived as too black by prejudiced white voters, thus losing their support.

There is always some excuse, some reason for not bringing all of the president's energy and resources to the fight.

On jobs, the biggest crisis facing the country, the excuse for not having done more has been Republican obstructionism. There is no doubt the Republicans have tried to thwart the president every which way from sundown. But Obama never fought back in kind. He never found his inner Harry Truman, never took his case forcefully to the people. He kept trying to accommodate the other side long after it was clear that no accommodation was possible.

In the face of the worst economic calamity since the 1930s, the United States needed a mammoth job-creation and economic revitalization program, a New Deal for the 21st century. But that would have required presidential leadership capable of challenging the formidable opposition mounted by the very folks who caused the crisis in the first place. Instead we got a woefully insufficient stimulus program and a failed effort at some kind of grand bargain between the president and the retrograde Republicans in Congress. That grand bargain would have imposed austerity measures that would have further crushed the poor and the black and the middle class.

On Wednesday night nearly 60 million television viewers got to witness this chronic unwillingness of Barack Obama to fight. He did not hammer Mitt Romney for his ugly, all-too-revealing comments that demeaned nearly half the population as slackers and ne-er-do-wells. He did not go after Romney's terrible job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts. He did not assail Romney for his callous contention on 60 Minutes that people who don't have health insurance actually do get care -- in the nation's emergency rooms. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die," said Romney. "We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care."

Obama never bothered to bring up that cold-hearted comment during the debate, never bothered to explain why the reliance on emergency room treatment is one of the worst possible approaches imaginable to providing health care.

One of the more remarkable things about the debate was Mitt Romney's absolute contempt for anything resembling facts, truth or reality. Deliberate deception was the bedrock foundation of his strategy. He wouldn't even come clean on the tax cuts that are a cornerstone of his campaign. And yet it was Romney who had the chutzpah to look Obama in the eye and assert: "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts."

How in heaven's name could Obama let him get away with that?

The harsh truth is that President Obama seemed unprepared for the debate. He came off as a man who didn't really want to be there, who wondered why he should have to be bothered fending off the impertinent attacks and serial untruths being flung at him by his opponent. The millions of Obama supporters who wanted to see flashes of passion and fire from their guy -- from a president fighting effectively on their behalf -- were left with nothing but the bitter taste of disappointment.

Romney, in contrast, seemed not just confident but in command. He was dynamic (as he fashioned one falsehood after another), while Obama seemed flat, uncomfortable and unwilling to vigorously counteract the falsehoods. Most important, Romney was the one far more willing to fight.

There will be more debates. And the election has not been decided by any means. But Obama's supporters need to make it clear that the time for excuses is over. The president had no right to show up for a debate unprepared and offer an expectant nation an embarrassingly half-hearted performance. Progressive leaders, who represent Obama's strongest and most faithful supporters, have an obligation to convey that message in the strongest possible terms.

The president let his people down. And if he's capable of doing that in an election that is clearly so important, it means he's capable of doing it again if he wins a second term.

© 2012 Demos

Bob Herbert, former staff columnist for the New York Times focusing on politics, urban affairs and social trends, is now a distinguished senior fellow at Demos.

What guides Obama's agenda?


Are "The Powell Memo" < http://thepowellmemo.blogspot.com/ > and the Heritage Foundation's "Mandate for Leadership" guiding Barack Obama's agenda?

Check out this movie:



Do we want to reform Wall Street; or, take political and economic power away from Wall Street?


Do we want to rebuild the system; or, do we need a revolution?


Wall Street is our common enemy; an enemy we share with the peoples of the world.

Nina Simone understood what we need:

Democracy is at the crossroads.

Socialism is the solution.

Defend democracy--- cast your ballot for Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander.

Many people are so repulsed--- and justifiably repulsed--- by the domination of Wall Street over the political process that they are calling for boycotts and burning presidential ballots.

Most people in this country are repulsed by Obama who can't defend his record and Romney's arrogance and lies with both being nothing but mouthpieces for Wall Street's dirty imperialist wars and austerity measures here at home to pay for these barbaric wars.

This is my response to those who would withdraw from electoral participation which is an important part of the struggles for peace, social and economic justice:

While I join you in your disgust over Obama who deserves to be defeated and Romney who should not be elected, in my opinion burning your ballots or boycotting the election instead of casting your ballots for one of our fellow activists for peace, social and economic justice--- Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander--- is counter-productive.

There is time to re-think your decision and I hope you do.

How would you feel if Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander were to shit on a struggle you initiated?

Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein and Stewart Alexander are trying their hardest to raise our concerns and we should support them, not abandon them; because their voices bring unity to our causes.

I would be interested in hearing a response to my concerns.

I offer my opposition and opinion to "burning ballots" and "boycott" on the friendliest of terms.

I would note that because some liberals, progressives and leftists have betrayed us (examples: Progressives for Obama/Progressive America Rising, Campaign for America's Future, Progressive Democrats of America, etc.) in supporting Obama there is no reason we should jump without thinking to the opposite extreme; thereby adding more confusion to the mix when we--- as liberals, progressives and leftists--- should be contributing leadership and clear thinking to the issues, problems, movements and struggles for peace, social and economic justice; constructive participation in the electoral process in defense of democracy as part of our struggles is part of our responsibility.

Between Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein and Stewart Alexander, certainly there is an alternative any liberal, progressive or leftist can support.

My preference, voiced a number of times, would have been that these three candidates should have united with one voice in a single united ticket but this did not come to be. BUT, these three candidates have agreed to sign on to the "Unified Platform" < http://newprogs.org/unified-progressive-platform-ratified > which all of us should be able to unite around.

Again, I welcome discussion.

I don't voice my concerns as an attack but rather to stimulate discussion, dialog and debate with the understanding that in the short and long terms we are going to have to find a way to work together if we are going to defeat our common Wall Street enemy in achieving peace and justice.

When all is said and done, we are going to have to wrest political and economic power from Wall Street if we are going to get real change so let's seek ways to struggle which bring us closer together.