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Chris Matthews is a most excellent media cretin. I wish we could forget his career.

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President Obama will give his first State of the Union speech tonight at 9 pm Eastern.  I’ll watch, but my expectations are extremely low.  No matter how stirring the oratory is tonight, there is nothing Obama can say this evening that will erase the fact that he has now demonstrated that he is unequal to this moment in history. In fairness, perhaps no one could have been. Two wars, an economy in shambles, a body politic divided, a terrorist enemy at the gates; if ever there was a presidency that would be forged in the crucible of events, this is one, as was that of Obama’s predecessor, George Bush.

Obama has not been equal to his promises. No one in their right mind expected him to do all that he promised in exactly the way that he promised.  But what I think people did expect and had some right to expect was that he would be true to the spirit of his hope and change mantra. Sure, we knew there would be compromises, some deviation and we frankly expected some dissapointment because we expected the pragmatist to straightforwardly tell us “hey, this isn’t doable and here’s why” straightup.

But, as Mort Zuckerman bitterly and very accurately observed, Obama has revealed himself to be more ideological than pragmatic.  What we have learned is that Obama practices small “p” pragmatism.  That his political heart and center are not big enough to fill the space created by his oratory.  He has fallen very short of the heights he called not only us to, but himself.  No amount of inspired oratory tonight or any other night can or will close the gap between the stirring heights of his rhetoric and the prosaic plateau of his deeds.

That gap can only be closed by deeds and decisions more informed, wise and courageous than most that have preceded this moment. Hope and change indeed.  Let us hope that Obama can change.

 Fellow Hoosier and serious thinker Thomas Barnett puts words to a nagging misgiving thats been gnawing at the back of my brain since Haiti was leveled by an earthquake 12 days ago. Can a state that was in such poor shape before the quake really make a comeback? Is Haiti destined to become a perpetual national security problem that sends a chronic exodus of Haitian’s to our borders?  Functional capitalism does not seem to have ever taken serious hold in Haiti and Barnett suggests there is a real question whether it can:

“when you want to talk revitalization, the prime conduit is never Western NGOs and PVOs or official development aid, it’s the ex-pats and their money. I mean, the Bahamas are close by, have no natural resources, and yet make $30k per capita a year (Johnson piece). They get no serious aid that I can see. Meanwhile, last year the U.S. sent $290m in aid to Haiti (says Johnson). Overall, aid accounts for 30-40% of total government revenue–always a bad sign (about 15% is the good limit, otherwise you’re into the aid “curse” of an unresponsive government).  Meanwhile, according to the CIA Factbook, “Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports.” GDP is about $11B, measured in Purchasing Power Parity. So yeah, bring on the ex-pats. They have to be able to buy the world a more stable and sustainable Haiti than our aid has.

By some lights, Haiti was beginning to gain some traction in its governance, a small improvement under its technocrat President René Préval. The quake has wiped all of that progress out completely. If the country’s recovery remains solely or largely the province of the NGO crowd, I see little hope for Haiti to rise from the quake’s dust as a functional country and state.  We may be about to witness up close and personal here in our hemisphere the failure of aid that occurs in Africa, so often highlighted by Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo.

Oddly enough, some of those decrying Obama’s pledge of $100 million to Haiti relief are pushing exactly this idea, that we should leave it to the NGOs and charity to render assistance to the Haitian people. The reinstatement of a functional capitalist economy in this island nation is whats needed. I’m shocked to see conservatives calling for the active creation of a welfare state a mere 1.5 hour flight off our shores. If thats the future for Haiti, then the bright side of that $100 million (assuming its going to the Haitian government) pledged by Barry is that its a down payment to the Preval administration to manage the ongoing national security problem Haiti as a failed state will be, namely, keeping Haitians off the boats and on their own dry land, not ours.

Indianapolis Colts take down the NY Jets. (Thats my team..Go Colts, Go Peyton, Go Caldwell!). We’ve already beaten the Jets once, and the game against the Ravens proved we’re rested and thoroughly preprared. Colts will make it do what it do.

New Orleans Saints defeat the Minnesota Vikings.  Brett Favre seems to be peaking at the right time, but the Saints are playing for themselves and for a city that has been hard hit and is fighting to come back.  The comeback karma of New Orleans is pushing them on and I don’t think Favre’s leadership will be sufficient to beat back that karmic tide.

These two teams will face off at the Superbowl.

More of my reaction to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,

I’ve no problem with corporations being granted rights. Rule sets are necessary for the proper operation of these constructs. However, I have a distinct and visceral negative reaction to the idea that a corporation should have equality of stature to humans under the Constitution in frankly any dimension. I think the Court overreaches when it elevates these entities to the same level of humans under the Constitution. Its a slippery slope to say that corporations are “persons” with rights equal to human beings under the Constitution, and I want to know where does it end. If their “speech” is equal to mine, the vote is political “speech”. If they are persons, why not just give them the franchise? All of the rights of individual, flesh and blood human beings under our constitution flow from the fact that we are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights. This cannot be said of corporations. How do we get to conferring these rights onto an artificial, legal construct made by humans? Consider the ways in which corporations are entirely different from humans:

1. A corporation does not understand what is right or wrong.
2. The vast majority of corporations are for purposes of commerce and have only one motive: to make it’s stockholders/owners money.
3. A corporation can not be imprisoned and understands no sense of punishment.
4. A corporation has no lifespan.

I have a problem with a ruling that elevates the “speech’ of such an entity under the constitution to a level equal to that of a human being. The ruling itself references the fact that corporations are derivative constructs, created products of human activity, and cites this fact as a rationale for why their speech should not be restricted, but this is precisely the reason why their “speech” should not be accorded the same merit as that of an individual under the constitution. The rights of humans under the Constitution flow from the fact that we have certain inalienable rights granted by our Creator to us as living souls. Corporations do not qualify on this metric and their “speech’ should not be accorded an equal status to individuals under the constitution.

The Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission got it wrong.  Quite seriously wrong. I have a law degree, but my objection to this ruling isn’t based on some tremendous erudition as it relates to constitutional law.  No, my objections are more basic and common sense.

The Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission  enhances the concept of the corporation as a “person” with First Amendment rights which must be respected, meaning that corporate entities may not have limitations placed on their political “speech”.  Corporations are free to spend any amount of money to advance their interests via political speech in elections and within our political discourse in general.  This is an expansion of the “personhood” of corporations.

This is a terrible decision and clearly puts the lie to the oft touted conservative approach to the law this group of conservative justices is supposed to have. This is an activist decision..   A corporation is a person entitled to unfettered political speech to support or defeat candidates in elections in the furtherance of their corporate interests? There is a disconnect here. These  corporate “persons’ can’t actually vote in an election. They can’t be sent to fight and die to defend these expanded “personhood” rights the Court has now conferred on them. Only flesh and blood persons can do those things. That seems to me a more than adequate rationale to justify restricting the First Amendment rights of corporations, to support censoring them in any fashion which society deems appropriate.

I am a human being, endowed by my Creator with certain inalienable rights. Human beings create corporations. They are a product of us, subservient to us, as we are subservient to our Creator. But the Supreme Court has now elevated the political speech of these artificial entities and declared that speech to have value and merit equal to that of flesh and blood human beings. It”s ridiculous. Why stop there I wonder? Why not simply grant corporations the franchise? Is not the vote speech? The Court has taken the concept of the “personhood” of corporations and expanded it in an absurd manner.

Were I to remake the world to my liking, only flesh and blood, living human beings would be permitted to donate money to a campaign. If you can’t vote in an election, or can’t fight and die for your country, because you’re not human, then I don’t think you have any business contributing to candidates or backing issues in elections.

The Supreme Court missed in a very fundamental way a basic truth about our nation’s founding. The First Amendment, indeed the entire Constitution, is a document written for human beings, not our artificial constructs. The First Amendment is for people.

Hat Tip Booker Rising

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor and head of the National Republican African American Caucus, Dr. Howard Hill, responds to RNC chairman Michael Steele’s statement calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to resign over his comments about President Obama: “If RNC Chair, Michael Steele is truly concerned with racism, then perhaps he needs to first begin within our own party. There are certainly enough issues with race for him to have his hands full in dealing with this right here within the Republican Party. There also are a few within the GOP leadership, he also may wish to ask to step down.”

She continues her statement: “As a 30-year veteran African American Republican and as the head of the National Republican African American Caucus, I find it offensive to see and hear this kind of meaningless rhetoric. It is simply another way of posturing and playing to partisan unrest….. Many of us (African American Republicans) have tried to sit back and look the other way, but when this kind of silly and meaningless rhetoric is espoused with such callousness and lack of sincerity, you can’t be silent. I don’t like having to speak out against my own party or its leadership. But if we do not, this continues, and it makes it appear that all African American Republicans are a part of this foolishness. Because of this, many of us have bowed out of the GOP political mix.  It also makes it hard to recruit other African Americans into the Republican Party, at a time when the Party needs to attract us.”
 
….So Chairman Steele, we invite you to be fervent in the same commitment you have to challenge Democrats, to also call for a change within the GOP; where what you do actually can have an impact in changing the racial climate in America.”

I don’t think I could have said it much better myself.  This is really serious indictment of Steele’s lack of leadership when it comes to doing something effective to grow the GOP’s relationship with blacks as a political constituency. While he’s busy jumping on the latest political bandwagon in calling for Reid to step down, he is totally silent on Rush’s asinine Haiti comments, or any of his other race baiting rhetoric for that matter.  The guy is forever opening his mouth to gaffe in one way or another, but he can’t seem to wrap his lips around a word or two of pushback when it comes to the party’s funky rhetoric and messaging towards blacks, an issue he knows to be real.  Now, the Reid flap has become the proverbial straw and even black republicans deep within the party are finding this nonsense hard to stomach.

Lrey of the Conservative Brotherhood makes a mighty fine point with regard to RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Rush’s comments on Haiti, one I had not even considered.  Steele has been happy to jump on the bandwagon regarding Harry Reid’s insightful but stupidly permitted to be overhead comments on the Obama campaign, but has not had a word of opprobrium for Limbaugh’s race baiting comments (in my opinion) on Haiti, to wit:

RUSH:  “This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate.  They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, “credibility” with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.  

Rush simply can’t wait to make the Haiti relief response a race baiting political weapon against Obama, suggesting that this is how he curries favor with minorities.  Its pretty foul. The crassness of the thinking in this little jewel of a comment drew pushback from no less a republican than George Bush:

“We’ve got to deal with the desperation, and there ought to be no politicization of that.”  

Which brings us to Michael Steele.  Where is he? Lrey jumps right in big Mike’s grill:

“When he should have stood-up to Limbaugh and held his ground as a person entitled to his intellectual opinion, and holding a formal political office, gained politically, he retreated from the ire of Massa Rush and subordinated himself to a man who holds him in the same regard he holds for black NFL quarterbacks – a necessary and politically correct evil.

Isn’t such retrogressive ignorance worthy of a rebuke by the man charged with making the GOP more inclusive? Steele (and other black “conservatives”) weren’t afraid to challenge Reid on his “negro dialect” comment. Either they stand-up to Limbaugh now or accept being “the negroes that bring him alcohol”, and always and forever be second class citizens in the GOP.”

This latest ugly piece of race baiting political invective from Rush comes as little surprise as he likes to take opportunities to use racial subtext to inflame the passions of his audience and tweak the MSM as well. But its the larger point here that Lrey makes that is relevant to my mind, which is that for a party leader who talks the talk of making the party more inclusive, he needs to walk the walk.  Not happening, not gonna happen.

Hat tip Shortform blog:

On race relations:

  • 58% of Americans thought Obama would change race relations before his inauguration
  • 41% of Americans say he’s actually improved race relations in his first full year in office source
  • Where was the freefall? Strangely enough, it was largest among other blacks. While white voters dipped to about 40 percent from 55 percent, blacks were at 75 percent a year ago, free-falling to 51 percent – a 24-point decline.

Little newsflash to my disappointed brothers and sisters; it’s not Obama’s job to solve all your problems in life.  Its not his job to solve “racism” to the extent such a thing is solvable. Anybody that thought his election would magically heal the divisions between black, red, white, brown and yellow was criminally deluded. Perhaps this disappointment that some feel is a good thing that will spur some people out there to solve their own problems, now that they realize Obama won’t. 

Wow. Imagine that.  Taliban militants attack the capital on the day Karzai is swearing in his cabinet. Remember when Obama announced his Afghan surge strategy and said that US forces would begin to withdraw after 18 months? There was a great hue and cry about telling the enemy when we would leave and the argument was that the Taliban would just sit back and wait for us to split and then take over. I think we can officially call that argument stupid.