This is where I am once again criticized for not criticizing with love or something like that. When I read the news that U.S. President Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I scrolled down the articles looking for the punchline. Isn’t the United States in the middle of a war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Aren’t Muslims not too far from the Mala’hood being terrorized by the FBI? And yet one of the reasons given for Obama winning is his work with Muslims. From Salon:
– President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.
Obama gave an interview to David Letterman earlier–and the follow has a few preview clips of the interview. Among some of the questions Obama faces: how long have you been a black man? A funny quip–what gets me, however, is the answer. Which seems to be “coded” remarkably well.
He’s saying what we all know–99% of the screaming teabaggers at the town hall meetings are white folks. And that there’s pretty much nothing he personally can do about it. So he might as well just go on about his business.
I can’t help it. I know that Mamita and others have said that they’ve gone their separate ways with Obama. And that’s a position I respect–but maybe it’s because I never had any hope for Obama to begin with that he still has my interest. I don’t see him doing anything amazing, I don’t see him changing the world, hell, I don’t even see him fixing immigration. But it is really interesting to me how he is negotiating racism. And it makes me wonder if his negotiating (rather than his policies or legislation) will make a difference for average people of color.
The Free Press Action Fund, an org whose mission according to it’s tagline is to “Reform Media, Transform Democracy”, took the opportunity to ask for funds. In their request letter, they focus on the failings of the mainstream media:
For the past 24 hours, the media have focused on the controversy surrounding Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst, but not on the substance of his claim — that the president lied about coverage for undocumented immigrants — which is demonstrably false.
As in nothing to see here folks. Undocumented (at least they didn’t use the word illegal) won’t be covered. Hmm I wonder how independent media makers such as myself can get in on some of that fundraising action?
In my interactions with the beltway over the past few weeks, be it via email or watching Obama’s speech to Congress and the “American” people on his health care reform package, I have been re-reminded of one fact. When D.C. speaks of reform, this has nothing to do with rights : human, civil or rights of any stripe.
I was interested in hearing Obama’s health care reform pitch for a number of reasons which cross that political/personal line. I am one of the millions of uninsured. My family has a history of cancer and I have personally seen what being uninsured and underinsured has meant for some of the most beloved members of my family (including death). My children are insured thanks to the public health system. Will Obama’s plan mean that I, who am poor enough to have my kids get medicaid but not poor enough to have myself covered (in large part because the government doesn’t accept my proof of income as an independent worker), finally will see a doctor? The last time I saw a health care provider was 2 and a half years ago when I was pregnant. Do I have to get knocked up again to get health care? And if there is no public option, will I be fined (money I don’t have) because health insurance is mandated and I still can’t afford it? What about my vecinos and members of my extended family who didn’t even bother watching Obama because as undocumented immigrants they have already been thrown under the bus? When the speech was over, when the heckling was quieted, and everyone stopped applauding, Obama had lost what tiny pedazo of support I had left for him.
I was able to watch most of President Obama’s speech before Congress last night selling his health care reform package. Not surprisingly, I have quite a few thoughts on the speech, it’s contents and reactions to it (those that follow VivirLatino or me on twitter were able to read some of that commentary). Pero before I get into that here is the full text of the President’s speech.
Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, and the American people:
When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse.
As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.
I want to thank the members of this body for your efforts and your support in these last several months, and especially those who have taken the difficult votes that have put us on a path to recovery. I also want to thank the American people for their patience and resolve during this trying time for our nation.
But we did not come here just to clean up crises. We came to build a future. So tonight, I return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to that future – and that is the issue of health care.
My plan of action? I will wait to see what the dude has to say. And then I will either groan in disgust or cheer. And Obama will finish his last three years of his presidency. And the U.S. will continue on. Just as it did before white folks slipped into OMG-the-black-man-has-power! hysteria.
The president said he expects draft legislation and sponsors by the end of the year, but no action until 2010 because of more pressing issues, including health-care reform, energy legislation and financial regulatory changes.
“That’s a pretty big stack of bills,” he said.
Immigration is among the most controversial items on Obama’s legislative agenda, with critics opposing what they call an amnesty for illegal workers and businesses concerned about reductions in their labor force. President George W. Bush twice attempted immigration reform during his second term, without success.
As a member of a community that is actively being imprisoned, hunted down, ripped from families, and otherwise terrorized, I find this reasoning so hard to swallow. How is immigration NOT connected to health care? Or financial regulation for fuck’s sake?
The only good thing about this delay is that immigration groups can hopefully use that time to mobilize grassroot support for truly transformative and (maybe even radical?) change.