TruthWorks Network Announces “Blanche ! “ Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Williams

See on Scoop.itTruthWorks Network News – The Black Voice Collaborative

TruthWorks Network Announces “Blanche ! “ Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Williams November 11, 2013 at 9:15pm TruthWorks Network announces “Blanche ! ” Hosted by Acclaimed Talker, Blanche Will…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

  “Blanche ! “.

A live talk radio program hosted by acclaimed talk radio moderator, Blanche Williams. “Blanche !”brings to radio an ongoing dialogue, discussions and guests to elevate audiences, organizations, and individuals to perform at their highest and greatest potential. Using her outstanding skills to transpose issues embedded in current events, Blanche navigates Black talk radio outside the matrix and puts an exclamation point on what matters.

See on blanchetwn.wordpress.com

Hillary’s Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren

2016

NOVEMBER 10, 2013

THE NEW REPUBLIC

Hillary’s Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren

BY NOAM SCHEIBER @noamscheiber

 We’re three years from the next presidential election, and Hillary Clinton is, once again, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Congressional Republicans have spent months investigating her like she already resides in the White House. The New York Times has its own dedicated Clinton correspondent, whose job it is to chronicle everything from Hillary’s summer accommodations (“CLINTONS FIND A NEW PLACE TO VACATION IN THE HAMPTONS”) to her distinct style of buckraking (“IN CLINTON FUNDRAISING, EXPECT A FULL EMBRACE”). There is a feature-length Hillary biopic in the works, and a well-funded super PAC—“Ready for Hillary”—bent on easing her way into the race. And then there is Clinton herself, who sounds increasingly candidential. Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has already delivered meaty, headline-grabbing orations on voting rights and Syria.

Yet for all the astrophysical force of these developments, anyone who lived through 2008 knows that inevitable candidates have a way of becoming distinctly evitable. With the Clintons’ penchant for melodrama and their checkered cast of hangers-on—one shudders to consider the embarrassments that will attend the Terry McAuliffe administration in Virginia—Clinton-era nostalgia is always a news cycle away from curdling into Clinton fatigue. Sometimes, all it takes is a single issue and a fresh face to bring the bad memories flooding back.

The last time Clinton ran, of course, the issue was Iraq and the gleaming new mug was Barack Obama’s. This time the debate will be about the power of America’s wealthiest. And, far more than with foreign policy, which most Democrats agreed on by 2008, this disagreement will cut to the very core of the party: what it stands for and who it represents.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times/Redux
Elizabeth Warren

On one side is a majority of Democratic voters, who are angrier, more disaffected, and altogether more populist than they’ve been in years. They are more attuned to income inequality than before the Obama presidency and more supportive of Social Security and Medicare.1 They’ve grown fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business.2 A recent Pew poll showed that voters under 30—who skew overwhelmingly Democratic—view socialism more favorably than capitalism. Above all, Democrats areincreasingly hostile to Wall Street and believe the government should rein it in.

(WATCH: The ten best Elizabeth Warren viral videos out there)

But as central as this debate is to the identity of the party, Democrats won’t openly litigate it until they’re forced to ponder life after Obama. Partly out of deference to the president, partly out of a preoccupation with governing, and partly because there is no immediate political need, parties rarely conduct their internal soul-searching when they control the White House. It’s only when the president finally contemplates retirement that the feuding breaks out with real violence. Think of the Republican Party after George W. Bush. Or, you know, Yugoslavia.

 Judging from recent events, the populists are likely to win. In September, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, running on a platform of taming inequality, routed his Democratic mayoral rival, Christine Quinn, known for her ties to Michael Bloomberg’s finance-friendly administration. The following week, Larry Summers, Obama’s first choice to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, withdrew his name from consideration after months in which Senate Democrats signaled their annoyance with his previous support for deregulation. Not 48 hours later, Bill Daley, the former Obama chief of staff and JP Morgan executive, ended his primary campaign for governor of Illinois after internal polls showed him trailing his populist opponent.

All of this is deeply problematic for Hillary Clinton. As a student of public opinion, she clearly understands the direction her party is headed. As the head of an enterprise known as Clinton Inc. that requires vast sums of capital to function, she also realizes there are limits to how much she can alienate the lords of finance. For that matter, it’s not even clear Clinton would want to. “Many of her best friends, her intellectual brain trust [on economics], all come out of that world,” says a longtime Democratic operative who worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and then for Hillary in the White House. “She doesn’t have a problem on the fighting-for-working-class-folks side”—protecting Medicare and Social Security—“but it will be hard, really wrenching for her to be that populist on [finance] issues.”

Which brings us to the probable face of the insurgency. In addition to being strongly identified with the party’s populist wing, any candidate who challenged Clinton would need several key assets. The candidate would almost certainly have to be a woman, given Democrats’ desire to make history again. She would have to amass huge piles of money with relatively little effort. Above all, she would have to awaken in Democratic voters an almost evangelical passion. As it happens, there is precisely such a person. Her name is Elizabeth Warren.

A Harvard law professor and best-selling author who led the congressional task force overseeing the bank bailout, Warren was already a liberal icon before she set foot in the Senate last January. Her public floggings of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner helped make her a fixture on MSNBC, “The Daily Show,” and The Huffington Post.

(READ: Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, and Female Votes)

As a result, Warren’s 2012 victory in Massachusetts set off a minor cottage industry of speculation about whether she would be a senator in the mold of other celebrities, like Hillary Clinton and Al Franken, who made collegiality and discretion the hallmarks of their early years in office—or whether she would follow the model of the body’s noisier gadflies, like former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and his spiritual successor, Ted Cruz of Texas.

The short answer is: None of the above. Warren has always said she had no interest in holding her tongue and blending into the senatorial wallpaper. But neither has she been a Cruz-like self-promoter, horning in on issues that hold out the greatest chance at media glory. (It’s one reason she’s well liked, which isn’t the case with Cruz.) Warren was understated during the Syria debate. She loyally supported Majority Leader Harry Reid during the recent government shutdown.

Curiously, this posture has had the effect of putting other Democrats in a chronic state of mild unease. From the perspective of a fellow senator, both the Clinton approach and the Cruz approach offer the advantage of predictability. Practitioners of the first will always sublimate their ambitions to the greater good of the caucus. Adherents of the second can be relied on to seize every last target of opportunity. In both cases, the senator’s colleagues can adjust accordingly. With Warren, on the other hand, they never entirely know when she may unload.

University of Texas School of Law
In 1986, Warren was a law professor at the University of Texas focused on bankruptcy issues.

During her Senate orientation in January, Warren, who serves on the banking committee, paid a courtesy call to the committee’s moderate chairman, Tim Johnson of South Dakota. “She was incredibly respectful, deferential,” says a committee aide who was in the room. “She really demonstrated to a lot of us that she would follow the model of . . . people like Franken, Barack Obama, Hillary.”

The following month, during her very first banking committee hearing, Warren again waited patiently for her turn to speak—then promptly set off a national furor. “Tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial,” she asked a table full of bank regulators. The question, though eminently reasonable, violated an unstated rule of committee protocol, in which members of Congress are allowed to rant and rave at length but generally abstain from humiliating appointees, especially from their own party.

 An awkward pause ensued, at which point Warren flared her eyes and thrust her head forward, as if to say, “Yes, this is really happening.” Until that instant, the regulators believed the world worked one way; suddenly, it was working another. One winced hemorrhoidally as he searched for a place to fix his gaze. The head of an agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appeared to whimper before allowing that the threat of trial was unnecessary for keeping the banks in check—about as counterfactual a notion as the industry has ever produced. A third regulator chimed in affirmatively. For a few minutes, Warren looked like the only sane person in a mental ward. A video of the exchange has been viewed online more than a million times.

Alas, Warren’s colleagues have not always welcomed these clarifying moments. “The chairman is more of an introspective kind of guy, it’s not his style personally,” says the banking committee staffer, who stresses that he didn’t discuss it with Johnson. “It felt more like a Chuck Schumer move,” he continued, referencing the voluble New York senator. Warren’s fellow liberals on the committee might be more philosophically inclined toward such tactics, but even they seem to find them irksome. A handful of aides to these senators were willing to comment on their own bosses’ work, but ducked my follow-ups about Warren. “To the degree that [Sherrod] Brown and [Jeff] Merkley had this space to themselves, she’s taken a chunk of that,” says a former banking committee staffer, who notes that Brown may well become chairman if Democrats retain their majority next year. “They’re in agreement on a lot of stuff,” adds the former staffer. “But if he does become chair . . . I’m not sure how that dynamic is going to work. Is she going to be looking like she’s upstaging him?”

For its part, the Obama administration appears to regard Warren with its own special wariness. Take the successful campaign to block the would-be nomination of Larry Summers to be Federal Reserve chairman. Brown and Merkley played critical roles in halting Summers’s momentum and rounding up “no” votes among fellow Democrats. But Warren’s contribution is hard to overstate. “Elizabeth did something only she could do,” says a source close to the Fed chairman selection process, “which was engage with the administration on the subject and make clear that, if they insisted on moving ahead, the whole weight of her capacity could be brought to bear.” This “was a different order of magnitude,” says the source, alluding to Warren’s outsized fund-raising heft— $42 million raised for her Senate race, half of it online—and her media magnetism. A Warren aide doesn’t dispute this, saying only that “she passed along her concerns to the White House.”

Warren isn’t just better at picking her spots than Cruz, she is disciplined about following through. After the February hearing, Warren asked the OCC in writing whether it had analyzed the cost of settling complaints against banks without ever requiring admissions of guilt (which would expose banks to investor lawsuits). When the OCC said it had not, she wrote the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice, and the Federal Reserve asking the same question. A few weeks later, Mary Jo White, the newly installed SEC chairwoman, sent Warren a letter saying she was “actively reviewing” the issue. A week after that, White announced that she was making a change: Some companies would now have to fess up as a condition for settling. In September, the SEC forced JP Morgan to admit that it violated securities laws as a condition for a $200 million settlement. Though Warren is far from the only Wall Street critic to have highlighted this issue, the line from her questioning to the change is exceedingly direct.

(VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren calling out Wall Street from the Senate )

Even at her most Cruz-like, it’s almost always possible to discern Warren’s goals. This summer, Senate Democrats negotiated a compromise with their Republican counterparts to lower student interest rates, which had recently doubled. Warren thought the deal was shameful: She objects in principle to making money from student loans, and in any case the bill holds down rates for only a few years. She denounced the “so-called ‘compromise’ ” in e-mails to her extensive list of supporters and channeled her outrage during closed-door Senate meetings—“more loudly than anyone else,” recalls Chris Murphy, her colleague from Connecticut. “We can’t go out and tell ourselves we’ve done good if we haven’t,” Warren told me later, during a brief interview in her office.

The cause was always a bit hopeless, and the bill passed overwhelmingly. But a Warren staffer says the aim was to draw attention to the outrage of profiting from students and to impose a political cost on those who went along with this practice so as to tilt future debates. When the Senate revisits the issue in a few years, as is likely, it’s hard to believe the calculus will not have changed. A Democratic aide whose boss supported the compromise told me the Warren team’s logic was “one hundred percent” right.

The gripe that Warren is maniacally image-obsessed has dogged her for almost as long as she’s been in Washington. During her days running oversight on the bank bailout, Treasury aides became convinced that Warren’s questions served little purpose other than to raise her profile, and that they had the effect of inciting a populist mob against policies that were unavoidable. They observed that a voice mail message for Warren instructed callers to press one if they were calling about a media appearance and press 2 for other messages. In 2010, Obama appointed Warren to be a special Treasury adviser in charge of setting up the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren was particular about the title she received, wanting it to reflect her work on behalf of the middle class. Treasury officials joked that if she were “Ambassador to the Middle Class,” it would make them “Ambassadors to the Plutocrats.”

There is no doubt that Warren takes a special interest in her public profile. According to a former aide, one of Warren’s greatest frustrations after arriving at the consumer agency was that the White House insisted on vetting all her media appearances. During her Senate campaign, Warren traveled with at least three staffers: Her body man and press secretary, as is the case for most candidates, but also a digital director, whose job it was to capture Warren’s choicest words on video, then upload the clips to YouTube and circulate them via social media. “She’s engaged in videos, e-mails, everything,” says an aide. “She plays an integral role in the content we send out.”

Still, the story of Warren’s rise to prominence is much more complicated than one of unbridled narcissism. Warren has been preoccupied with the plight of the middle class since her childhood, when her father suffered a heart attack and her mother took a job in the catalog department of Sears to keep four kids clothed and fed. “I watched Obama get completely obsessed by health care reform . . . and realized it was all about his mother on her death bed,” says a longtime Warren friend. “For her, it was her father.” As a law professor in the 1980s, Warren conducted research demonstrating that most of the people who filed for bankruptcy weren’t deadbeats, contrary to the popular perception, but hardworking, often middle-class households who’d endured staggering economic hardship.

Ever since, Warren’s mindset has been utterly brass tacks. When I asked about her views toward Geithner, one progressive activist who has worked closely with Warren told me it can be tempting to try to understand how people in power might be acting in good faith, even if they’re wrong. “Elizabeth is neither sentimental nor vindictive,” the activist said. “She’s not that interested in why people carry water for Wall Street or what they think of her.” She spends her time trying to beat her adversaries, the activist explained, or at least hold them accountable. As Warren told The Huffington Postduring the fight over financial reform: “My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

The proper interpretation of Warren’s prodigious p.r. efforts, then, isn’t that she’s especially taken with the idea of media stardom. It’s that she is relentlessly, perhaps ruthlessly, maybe even a bit messianically, focused on advancing her policy agenda. Everything else is merely instrumental.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times/Redux
Warren and Clinton haven’t always been as chummy as this picture suggests.

This is what the banking industry and its Republican allies (as well as internal opponents like Geithner) didn’t fully appreciate when they effectively killed Warren’s hopes of permanently heading the consumer agency in 2011. Anyone who knows Warren will tell you she had no particular ambition to be a senator. She decided that the Senate would suffice as a way to agitate for her issues only when Obama stiffed her for the CFPB job—an enormous disappointment after she spent months lining up support among banks. “It’s poetic justice. At end of the day, if the banking community hadn’t been so apoplectic, everyone could have decided it’s this little tiny agency, who really cares?” says Anita Dunn, Obama’s White House communications director in 2009. “Instead, she ends up as a senior senator from Massachusetts on the banking committee, blocking Larry at the Fed.”

It’s hard to look at the Democratic Party these days and not feel as if all the energy is behind Warren. Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Warren’s recent speech at the annual League of Conservation Voters banquet drew the largest crowd in 15 years. Or consider a website called Upworthy, which packages online videos with clever headlines and encourages users to share them. Obama barely registers on the site; Warren’s videos go viral. An appearance on cable this summer—“CNBC HOST DECIDES TO TEACH SENATOR WARREN HOW REGULATION WORKS. PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT”—was viewed more than a million times. A Warren floor speech during the recent stalemate in Congress—“A SENATOR BLUNTLY SAYS WHAT WE’RE ALL THINKING ABOUT THE OBNOXIOUS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN”—tallied more than two million views.

The poll numbers also suggest the Democratic Party is becoming Elizabeth Warren’s party. Gallup finds that the percentage of Democrats with “very negative” views of the banking industry increased more than fivefold since 2007, while the percentage who have positive views fell from 51 to 31. Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of Democrats who were dissatisfied with the “size and influence of major corporations” rose from 51 to a remarkable 79.3

Of course, any prediction of a populist revolt against the party’s top brass must grapple with the tendency of such predictions to be wrong. From the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 to the Occupy Movement in 2011, the last decade in Democratic politics has been rife with heady declarations of grassroots rebellion, only to see the insiders assert control each time. Even the one insurgency that did succeed, the Obama campaign, was quickly absorbed into the party establishment, from which Obama was never so far removed in the first place.

But three developments suggest this time really could be different. The first is that, even at the elite level, the party has changed far more over the last few years than is widely understood. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut senator, estimates that not too long ago, congressional Democrats were split roughly evenly between Wall Street supporters and Wall Street skeptics. Today, he puts the skeptics’ strength at more like two-thirds. Warren told me she attributes this to the disillusionment surrounding Dodd-Frank, which ushered in a range of new regulations but left the details to regulators, who promptly caved.

There is also the fact that, unlike other liberal challenges, this one has broad national reach. The pollster Celinda Lake has found that support for “tougher rules” for Wall Street obliterates party lines, increasing in the last two years from more than 70 percent to more than 80. In South Dakota, a state Mitt Romney carried by 18 points, arecent poll showed Democrat Rick Weiland, an obscure ex-aide to Tom Daschle, a mere six points behind the state’s former Republican governor for a soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. The animating principle of Weiland’s campaign is that government per se isn’t the problem; the problem is a government taken over by “big-money interests.” The same poll showed voters agreeing with this statement by a 68-to-26 margin.

And then there’s the way Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses so perfectly align with the passions of the moment. “There’s very much a wait-and-see approach to Hillary among progressives,” says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “I think it’s mutually exclusive to be a real hero for reform and accountability and to have a [fund-raising] strategy that relies on Wall Street.” A financial reform activist is more blunt: “Unless there is some major public break by Hillary Clinton with this disreputable crowd, then everybody will have to think long and hard before they support her as president. We do not need yet another administration packed full of Wall Street–friendly politicians.”

When I recently asked a top Clinton campaign operative from 2008 if there’s any Democrat who Hillary should fear in 2016, he immediately named the Massachusetts senator. The typical Democratic insurgent, he explained, captivates the latte-liberal demographic but has trouble making additional gains. This is where Howard Dean ran aground in 2004 and where Bill Bradley stumbled in 2000. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there who can break out of just that left coalition like Warren could,” says the operative, who hopes to work for Hillary again. “She’s got a real message tailored to the middle-class and working-class people.”

Warren would also benefit from the resentments of party elders. Because the Clintons have always placed a premium on loyalty, there is a generation of donors, fund-raisers, and activists who supported other candidates in 1992, or who were simply late to support the Clintons, and were largely frozen out as a result. “If you weren’t on the Clinton train after ’92, then from ’92 almost to 2004, you weren’t on the team,” recalls one prominent Democratic donor. “You never quite made it to the major leagues.” Many of these exiles banded together to support John Kerry in 2004. And the Kerry fund-raising team, in turn, formed the nucleus of Obama’s operation four years later. “People have enormous admiration for what Hillary did as secretary of state, enormous gratitude for the important role she played,” says the donor, who was a major Obama backer. “But in Obamaworld, there is not deep loyalty to Hillary Clinton.”

Increasingly, Democratic donors are looking for more than just a person to support; they’re looking for a candidate who represents something larger than their own ambition. With Obama, it was all about hope and change. With Warren, it would be about a distinct worldview. But as different as their sources of appeal are, both allow donors to feel as if they’re part of a larger crusade. By contrast, the long-standing knock on the Clintons in these circles (unfair in many ways) is that they primarily represent the cause of themselves. “Warren has core convictions that would allow her to answer the question, ‘Why are you running?’ and not spend a lot of money on focus groups,” says Dunn.

On top of everything else, Warren would have some real mechanical advantages. New Hampshire, the first primary state, is fertile ground for a Warren-esque message—not many rich people, not many poor—and 80 percent of its residents live in the Boston media market. As much as any Massachusetts voter, they have watched her ads and heard her sound bites. And it’s hardly their only connection to Massachusetts politics. One traditional way Democrats have organized New Hampshire is to send in party hands from its southern neighbor. Officials from the North Shore of Massachusetts focus on the seacoast of New Hampshire; Worcester goes to Concord; greater Boston goes to Manchester. In 2004, this is how Kerry cased out New Hampshire en route to his primary victory there. In 2008, Hillary hired his deputy state director from Massachusetts, Roger Lau, to execute the same winning strategy. Lau, as it happens, is currently Warren’s state director.

 If Warren were to challenge Clinton, the contours of the campaign would be fairly obvious. Outside New Hampshire, Warren would thrive in caucus states, where Obama organized his way to victory in 2008. Clinton, on the other hand, would probably embrace a two-pronged strategy. First, she would move left on as many issues as possible. Since leaving the State Department, she has already staked out liberal ground on gay rights and voting rights, and she recently used the word “progressive” so many times in a single speech it was tempting to describe her condition as “severe.”

Gary Cameron/Reuters
Some pre-hearing chatter with Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo.

Phase two would be to attack ruthlessly, casting Warren as an untested novice with little expertise outside financial issues. Unlike Obama, who at least had Iraq and a tour on the Foreign Relations Committee to neutralize charges of naïveté, Warren would be exceedingly vulnerable. One Democratic donor who is active on Israel policy and considers himself a liberal Zionist had long admired Warren when he finally spoke with her in 2011. He came away from the conversation thinking “she would have to be careful on her Middle East politics.” The donor doesn’t recall Warren saying anything he would disagree with substantively, but the phrasing seemed inartful. “You don’t want people to have an excuse to go after you,” says the donor. Clinton’s infamous “3 a.m.” ads would write themselves.

And those are only the aboveground assaults. As in 2008, Greater Hillaryland, if not the Clinton campaign itself, would quietly work to disqualify Warren as a crazed, countercultural liberal. A former Obama campaign aide recalls Clintonites planting stories in foreign newspapers, then watching them enter the domestic bloodstream through outlets like The Drudge Report. This appears to be how Obama’s dubious connection to former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers first gained widespread attention. “They were the kings of bank-shot press attention,” says the aide. “They were pitching stories domestic outlets would not cover . . . because the information they were peddling was so toxic.”

A Clinton-Warren matchup would have all sorts of consequences, none of them especially heartwarming. The most immediate is that Warren would probably lose. Though Warren has been boning up on a variety of policy areas in periodic dinners with experts—she told me there are several issues beyond Wall Street “we need to have frank conversations” about without naming specifics—she remains a work in progress as a politician. She is still pedestrian in front of a crowd despite her strengths as a questioner and debater, and her Senate campaign last year was bumpier than it should have been. At this stage in their careers, Clinton is simply easier to visualize as president. “Does Elizabeth Warren . . . cross some kind of experience threshold, a presidential threshold? I don’t think she crosses it yet,” says Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign manager. Then again, Trippi adds, “Neither did Obama till the campaign.” Sometimes you can’t overthink it.

The first time Elizabeth Warren met Hillary Clinton was in 1998, when the then–first lady requested a briefing on an industry-backed bankruptcy bill. Warren was impressed by Clinton’s smarts and steel, and credited her when Bill Clinton vetoed the bill in 2000. But the following year Hillary Clinton was a senator and she reversed her position. Warren’s reaction was scathing. “Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions,” Warren wrote in The Two-Income Trap. “As New York’s newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position.” Warren never forgot the betrayal, invoking it as recently as her 2012 campaign.

Most of the pundits, operatives, and donors who populate the presidential-campaign industry assume Warren will not run for president in 2016 if Clinton does. They believe taking her on would be a suicide mission at best—harmless to Clinton but career-ending for the challenger. When I asked Swanee Hunt, an influential donor to both Warren and Clinton, about the possibility of Warren running, she told me: “I know three other women [besides Hillary] who would be very credible primary candidates. But none of them is going to challenge Hillary. . . . These women are not stupid.” If Clinton took a pass, on the other hand, many believe Warren would be difficult to beat, and the pressure to run could be irresistible.

This type of analysis is almost always correct: It assumes that a politician will maximize her chances of getting elected president. But it fundamentally misunderstands Warren. While her ambitions are considerable, they have always been focused on advancing her economic agenda. Everything from her public denunciations of Clinton to her lobbying to lead the CFBP to her eventual Senate run was motivated by a zealous attachment to the cause that has preoccupied her since childhood, not necessarily an interest in holding office. In October of 2010, Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, was launching a show on CNN and was thrilled to land Warren as his inaugural guest. But Spitzer planned to open the broadcast calling for Geithner’s head and worried that his monologue might violate some delicate protocol. Geithner was officially Warren’s boss at Treasury, after all. He held a key vote over whether she would run the consumer agency. But when Spitzer offered to skip the diatribe, Warren didn’t even pause to mull it over. “No, it’s fine with me,” she told him flatly.

All of which is to say, if Hillary Clinton runs and retains her ties to Wall Street, Warren will be more likely to join the race, not less. Warren is shrewd enough to understand that the future of the Democratic Party is at stake in 2016. At 64, she knows that if Hillary wins and populates yet another administration with heirs to Robert Rubin, it will be at least eight years before there’s another chance to reclaim the party. “She has an immense—I can’t put it in words—a sense of destiny,” says a former aide. “If Hillary or the man on the moon is not representing her stuff, and her people don’t have a seat at table, she’ll do what she can to make sure it’s represented.”

Warren refused to tell me what would happen if the likely 2016 nominee is wrong on her issues. “You’ve asked me about the politics. All I can do is take you back to the principle part of this,” she said. “I know what I am in Washington to do: I’m here to fight for hardworking families.”4

These words may be soothingly diplomatic, but her methods usually are not—and that should be terrifying for Hillary. An opponent who doesn’t heed political incentives is like a militant who doesn’t fear death. “Yeah, Hillary is running. And she’ll probably win,” says the former aide. “But Elizabeth doesn’t care about winning. She doesn’t care whose turn it is.”

Noam Scheiber is a senior editor at The New Republic.

This WeekDisconnected From Our History

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham ☥ Coming Up

This Week on OUR COMMON GROUND 09  November  2013 Disconnected From Our History; The Residuals of Mis-Education, Media and Denial” A Conversation we need to have and learn to have in our community….

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"Disconnected From Our History: The Residuals of Mis-Education, Media and Denial”

A Conversation we need to have and learn to have in our community.

OPEN MIC Saturday Night

“History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations. And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to assess the history that has placed one where one is, and formed one’s point of view. In great pain and terror, because, thereafter, one enters into a battle with that historical creation, Oneself, and attempts to recreate oneself according to a principle more humane and more liberating: one begins to attempt to achieve a level of personal maturity and freedom which robs history of its tyrannical power, and also changes history.”

– “White Guilt’ essay, James Baldwin

We hope that you will join us.

Listen LIVE

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ocg/2013/11/10/our-common-ground-l-disconnection-from-our-history

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Black Rage, Gender, and Allyship

Black Rage, Gender, and Allyship

Aya de Leon

Black people are angry.  Anyone who is going to be our ally in the fight against racism needs to understand that. Not every black person walks around angry, or is aware of their anger.  Fury looks and sounds and hangs differently on people of African heritage shutterstock_146783792with differences of class, ethnicity, generation, geography, gender, sexuality, and trauma history.  But for many of us, we’re angry, and we have good reason after hundreds of years of slavery, racism, colonization, jim crow, neo-colonialism, exploitation, and degradation.  This is not an abstract, academic, intellectual racism; this is about hundreds of years of our ancestors bringing racist violence home.  In the US, slave masters beat us with whips and we beat our children with belts.  Slave masters raped and incested African women, and sexual abuse became epidemic in black families.  Slave masters worked us to death and now we work ourselves to death, and we are furious.  For hundreds of years, we have had to swallow the rage or risk getting killed by white people.  And we swallowed it, and killed each other and ourselves.  Men take the rage out on each other, on women and children, women take the rage out on each other and on children, and children take the rage out on each other, particularly those younger.  Shit rolls down hill.  We have a hard time loving ourselves and a hard time building loving, lasting relationships with each other.

In order to heal from racism, black people need hardcore healing spaces with a big, safe, container to do rage work, to get it out of our bodies.  It’s not about sitting and talking about it in a nice middle class therapist’s office, or going for a jog, it’s about finding a safe place to scream our voices raw, kick and flail, and let that beast out.  One black woman who does this work is Ruth King, author of Healing Rage – Women Making Inner Peace Possible.

Men need spaces to work on rage, as well.  My partner is an African heritage man who doeshealing work with black men. When I asked him to talk to me about black men’s rage, he said that black men are filled with sorrow.  But they are culturally prohibited from expressing sorrow, because such displays of vulnerability make them targets of violence and homophobia.  So the society has shown them that rage is their best option for pushing back against racism—the only option other than acquiescence.  So many of them take the only option that is offered.  He said that men need to work with other men to face these feelings.  Men have the breakthroughs when other men let them know it’s okay to be vulnerable and they can actually show and get in touch with the sorrow.  Women can be allies to this process, but the key is for men to be emotionally vulnerable with each other, not for women to be vulnerable.

Black rage is a response to racism.  White guilt is a response that many white people have to racism, and the two have a dynamic interaction.  White guilt doesn’t reflect a principled stance against racism, and a commitment to end it and undo its effects.  White guilt is more of a childlike uh-oh, we’re in trouble, where the white person goes around feeling bad and expecting/projecting some sort of anger or punishment from people of African heritage.  This can lead to fawning and accommodating behaviors in communities and relationships.  Again, this is not about a principled stance against racism, this is about an anxious wish to avoid conflict with an individual person of African heritage.  At other times, part of the racist gaze is to project anger onto black people regardless of their emotional reality at any given moment.

If you plan to be an ally to people of African heritage, you need to be able to handle black rage.  Big, heaping truckloads of it.  And by handle, I mean be able to keep thinking clearly and act decisively in the presence of rage.

This is precisely what did not happen last week at the Brecht Forum in Brooklyn at a panel titled “What Do We Mean When We Say Privilege, Ally & Comrade?  Exploring the Difficulty of Difference & Movement Building.”  I first read the account of one black woman panelist, Dr. Brittney Cooper, who challenged a black male panelist, Kazembe Balagun about his sexism.  He yelled at her, menaced her, and threw a glass of water on her.  An entire room full of people sat silent in the face of this gendered violence.

Here’s Cooper, in her own words:

Left to sit there, splashes of water, mingling with the tears that I was embarrassed to let run, because you know sisters don’t cry in public, imploring him to “back up,” to “stop yelling,” to stop using his body to intimidate me, while he continued to approach my chair menacingly,  wondering what he was going to do next, anticipating my next move, anticipating his, being transported back to past sites of my own trauma, traumas that have been especially fresh and difficult this Domestic Violence Awareness Month…

I waited for anyone to stand up, to sense that I felt afraid, to stop him, to let him know his actions were unacceptable…

I learned a lesson: everybody wants to have an ally, but no one wants to stand up for anybody.

Eventually three men held him back, restrained him, but not with ease. He left. I breathed. I let those tears that had been threatening fall.

One black man further berated Professor Cooper, and the biggest gesture of solidarity was when the third panelist, a white woman, silently inched her chair closer to Cooper.

Many others have expressed solidarity with Cooper after the fact.

By way of compassion, I suspect that the entire crowd was completely triggered and regressed to some childhood state in the face of black male rage unleashed.  White allies need to work on whatever childhood baggage they bring to the table.  Perhaps it is the terrified memories of their own parents’ rage.  Or maybe they are still stifled by the frequent middle/upper class prohibitions against strong feelings that meant their own childhood rage got shut down.  While I have compassion for anyone who is triggered, I hope that everyone in that room who can see clearly in hindsight that they should have said/done something decisive to intervene.  I hope they can tell that because they were far too scared to act in integrity with their values, they need to go seek some kind of emotional help.

But beyond the emotional shortcomings of the community, I want to challenge some of the underlying thinking that often allows this kind of thing to go unchecked.  White people feel guilty, and will refuse to take principled stands against expressions of black rage.  It’s one thing for black people to take responsibility for our rage and find an appropriate therapeutic or healing context (could be counseling, could be ritual, could be somatics, could be any number of things).  This is a situation where the person or group of people have agreed to be witness and container to the rage you are prepared to express in an attempt to heal yourself, that is rage with consent.  It is, however, a completely different proposition for black people to go around leaking and firing their rage at anyone in range, anyone who challenges them, anyone who is vulnerable, or anyone who unwittingly pushes the wrong button.  As Audre Lorde said, “use without the consent of the used is abuse.”

Starting with the Black Power Movement, some black men have had a narrative that black liberation is about their freedom to express rage.  So-called allies have co-signed this, from former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver writing about going around raping white women as a revolutionary act (he “practiced” on black women first, to get it right) to the Brecht forum allowing a black man with a history of verbal and physical raging to be on a challenging panel about allyship.  Our allies need to take a principled stand that rage is understandable, but rage needs to be healed and patterns of venting rage without consent need to be interrupted.  There is no noble political principle being served by allowing people to abuse others.  This doesn’t mean that all displays of anger need to be shut down.  It’s important to allow emotional space outside of white, middle class cultural norms (sometimes people get angry, and that can be a good thing) but it’s different for people to have a pattern of raging as part of how they work in community.  Our allies need to be able to tell the difference, offer resources, set limits, and hold lines against abusive behavior.

There is a particular historical dynamic that can happen sometimes with black men’s rage and white women’s guilt.  In this particular dynamic, black men express rage about racism and white women feel guilty, and offer themselves (sexual access, emotional caretaking, free labor) to black men in some sort of private reparations campaign.  Clearly there is no larger agenda being served about ending racism, but it’s easy for women’s training as caretakers and fear of violence to get ignited in these situations.  In reality, I have seen this dynamic happen in relationships between black and white women, and even occasionally between black women and white men, as long as the white person has strong childhood socialization to respond to rage by feeling responsible and offering caretaking.

So while the pattern is primarily one of black men, it is not exclusive to black men.  I have seen this same pattern run with powerful black women in white dominated organizations, as well.  Confused white leaders have been liberal with abusive patterns, convinced that it was somehow good for white people to be targeted with this rage.  Those same white leaders were somehow unconvinced that there was a problem with the raging, when the black women targeted black people, as well.

I have also seen black rage, particularly African American rage (from the people whose ancestors were enslaved in the US South) target other people of color or of African heritage, whom they deemed as somehow not black enough, not really of color, somehow closer to white people, deserving of being targeted with rage, disdain, dismissal, or disregard.  This rage has undermined or destroyed many coalitions with other people of color, not to mention destroying untold numbers of black organizations.

It is not allyship if white people think we can’t possibly control ourselves; white racism holds that this is the best we are capable of.  There’s a particular way that this liberalism and confusion works with regard to black women and men, that white people/organizations generally can’t manage to be allies to both black women and men.  Starting in the 70s, feminist organizations notoriously would ally with black women’s mistreatment at the hands of black men in a way that was a little too gleeful about black men’s monstrosity.  Or, like the Brecht forum, would tolerate black men’s rage in ways that left black women targeted and alone.

I have also been part of community organizations that are predominantly white and have trouble hanging on to black men.  Instead of addressing systemic racism in the organization, they use a strategy of placating and lowering their standards to keep black men involved.  No matter how unaccountable African heritage men in the community or organization may be (missing meetings, not communicating, thoughtlessly inconveniencing leaders), it seemed the bar could always be lowered, the expectations could always be revised, so no one expressed displeasure at this lack of accountability.  The black men meet a wall of complacent white compassion.  Leaving the black women in the community to be the bad cops, the ones who actually have some expectations.

In my personal life, I remember when my partner and I went to couples’ counseling.  We had a white, middle class, gentile therapist.  He and I are both physically big people and were quite emotionally angry.  I used to joke that we were 500 lbs of angry blackness on that poor white woman’s couch.  The therapist was completely frozen in the face of our black rage.  The two of us would sit in the sessions and fight, and she had very little to say.  We didn’t progress much until we started seeing a Jewish therapist, the child of Holocaust survivors.  She wasn’t even remotely scared of us.  She could think and act decisively in the face of black rage.  I celebrate her work with us, not only because it saved our marriage, but also because it helped us through our common trauma so that we could both become people capable of being loving to each other.

Coming out of these and other experiences, I have high standards for white allies.  In both of these spaces, I have met white people who can stand up to black rage, to black hopelessness, and to black sorrow.  If we aim to end racism, white allies need to start getting themselves in better shape.  Do the emotional work; never leave a sister unsupported in the face of such violence.  Interventions don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to happen.  Speak the truth.  Even if your voice shakes.

About the Author:

Aya de Leon
Aya de Leon is director of the Poetry for the People program, teaching creative writing at UC Berkeley. In the early 1980s, she was a teen leader in the anti-nuclear movement in Northern California. In the late 80s, she was a college feminist activist. In the early 90s, she was a young adult leader community organizing for racial justice in Roxbury, MA. Since then she has been a cultural worker, receiving critical acclaim from her politically charged performance work in the Village Voice, Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine, the SF Chronicle, SF Bay Guardian, and East Bay Express. Her work has been featured on Def Poetry, in Essence Magazine, and she blogs for Bitch Magazine. In 2004, she put in her bid for the White House in her solo show “Aya de Leon is Running for President.” She has participated in and supported many different movements with her own blend of arts, activism, community organizing, facilitation of healing from trauma, youth work, and leadership development. She is currently working on a sexy feminist heist novel about redistribution of wealth. She blogs at ayadeleon.wordpress.com and is on twitter @AyadeLeon. More work by Aya de Leon on anti-racist allies: We Need to Raise the Bar on Being an Ally , and On Being Friends With White People

Photo: betto rodrigues /Shutterstock.com

Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America

Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America

by Jon Jeter

Por Ahora

 

Tue, 10/29/2013

 

The U.S. Black-white wealth gap is larger than in South Africa at the height of apartheid. The statistic is all the more remarkable when considering that South Africa virtually mandated gross inequality by law, while in the U.S. the great chasm exists “within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic” and packed with Black elected officials, including “the sitting head of state.”

The wealth gap narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago.”

For every dollar in assets owned by whites in the United States, blacks own less than a nickel, a racial divide that is wider than South Africa’s at any point during the apartheid era.

The median net worth for black households is $4,955, or about 4.5 percent of whites’ median household wealth, which was $110, 729 in 2010, according to Census data. Racial inequality in apartheid South Africa reached its zenith in 1970 when black households’ median net worth represented 6.8 percent of whites’, according to an analysis of government data by Sampie Terreblanche, professor emeritus of economics at Stellenbosch University.

Widely recognized as an expert on inequality, Terreblanche described the racial wealth gap in the U.S. as “shocking,” in an email, and noted that it would exceed apartheid’s by an even larger margin had the white-minority not categorized mixed-race South Africans as “coloured” during the white-minority’s 46-year rule.

Household wealth is the accumulated sum of assets – houses, cars, bank, investment, and retirement accounts – minus the aggregate value of debt, including mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances. It’s more comprehensive than income, which measures the year-to-year earnings from wages, dividends, and profits. Since the US Census began publishing the figures nearly a quarter century ago, the chasm in wealth between whites and blacks has always yawned far wider than disparities in income, but narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago. African-descended people account for about 14 percent of the population in the US but only 1.4 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent.

Inflated largely by speculators’ frenzied investments in usurious mortgage loans, the real-estate bubble’s inevitable implosion triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and, the most profound dispossession of African Americans’ material wealth since the slave trade.

Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers.”

To be sure, virtually no American who works for a living has emerged from the financial crisis unscathed. But for blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm: persistent unemployment, low wages, and a growing dependency on household debt have conspired with a restructured postwar economy to weaken every rung on the ladder – labor unions, the manufacturing sector, education, public sector employment, homeownership and marriage – that blacks have historically relied on to climb out of the muck of poverty.

What’s most astonishing about America’s yawning racial chasm is that the U.S. has eclipsed apartheid-like levels of inequality within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic, and a generation of black post-civil rights elected officials that includes the sitting head of state. Conversely, apartheid brought the hammer; until voters of all races went to the polls for the first time in 1994, the law of the land prohibited blacks from voting, holding public office, owning property, joining progressive political movements, and miscegenation.

But on a molecular level, apartheid shares with monopoly capital the same genetic markers, cultural narratives, and immutable identity. To annex land coveted by whites, the apartheid state simply razed entire black neighborhoods to the ground, and rebuilt them as sprawling gated communities. Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers. Fifty-three percent of all black homebuyers in 2006 were saddled with subprime mortgages, compared to 49 percent of Latinos and 26 percent of whites.

Treating black South Africans as essentially guest workers, apartheid “pass laws” required blacks to produce employment documents for any white person – gendarme and 11-year-old white girls alike – who demanded it. You need not be a Marxist to see the clear parallels between that Draconian measure and the stop-and-frisk policies employed by the New York City Police Department, or the wide berth afforded white vigilantes such as George Zimmerman. Similarly, payday loan stores began to materialize in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and New York at roughly the same time they began to open for business in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The result is that South Africa’s blacks, wanting the good life that was denied to them by apartheid, are today sinking in consumer debt just as are blacks are in this country.

For blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm.”

Much like the ubiquitous payday loan shops, racial inequality in the US is so profound that it has become unremarkable, almost banal.

There is seldom a single white passenger on the weekday 295 bus that leaves the Menlo Park train station at 7:32 am, dropping off mostly Latinas who clean million dollar homes in the Silicon Valley neighborhood. At the New Orleans airport, the jazz trio that greets passengers appears phenotypically all white men, while all the employees at the Copeland’s Gourmet Kitchen are African American, save one, the shift manager. Similarly, if you ride the uptown 5 train and get off at 51st and Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the afternoon rush hour, you will see a study in contrasts: the mostly black and brown homeless people in tattered clothing huddled, still and silent, in the soup line at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, while across the street, the chatty white employees pour from the Bank of America office tower, dressed to the nines.

“Our nation is moving toward two societies,” the Kerner Commission concluded in its 1968 report on the causes of the nationwide civil disturbances that had begun three years earlier in Los Angeles, “one black, one white— separate and unequal.”

Forty-five years later, it’s a wrap.

Jon Jeter was the Washington Post bureau chief for southern Africa from 1999 to 2003, and is the author of Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People.  He can be reached atjeterjon@gmail.com.

Detroit Will be Democracy’s Decisive Battle | Black Agenda Report

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

News, analysis and commentary from the black left.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

“The same bell is tolling for every urban center in the land.”

Detroit’s dissolution also sounds the death knell for a generation’s dreams of authentic “Black Power” through purely electoral means in collaboration with corporate “renaissance” schemes. The Black masses have never been envisioned as part of any “renewal” of the cities under corporate auspices. Rather, investment is contingent on Black disempowerment and removal – the corporate axiom from which the Emergency Manager regime logically flows. Barack Obama, as loyal (and lawyerly) a servant of the banks as Orr, accepts the validity of the premise, which is why he raises no principled objection to Detroit’s disenfranchisement, either in its particulars or as a model for urban America.

See on www.blackagendareport.com

OCG Book November, 2013 – “Faces At the Bottom of the Well”, Professor Derrick Bell

ABOUT

During each month, the broadcast will feature a recommended book to the audience.  The last Saturday of the month will provide a live segment to be focused on getting impressions and thoughts from listener readers. We will attempt to feature a relevant guest for each book.

 

OCG Book November, 2013

“Faces At the Bottom of the Well”, Professor Derrick Bell

Discussion Date: November 30, 2013

Your comments as you read are welcomed here.

The noted civil rights activist uses allegory and historical example to present a radical vision of the persistence of racism in America. These essays shed light on some of the most perplexing and vexing issues of our day: affirmative action, the disparity between civil rights law and reality, the “racist outbursts” of some black leaders, the temptation toward violent retaliation, and much more.

 

ABOUT Derrick Bell

 

Derrick Albert Bell, Jr. was born on November 6, 1930 in Pittsburgh, the eldest of four children. At an early age, Derrick’s parents, Ada Elizabeth Childress Bell, a homemaker, and Derrick A. Bell, Sr., a millworker and department store porter, instilled in him a serious work ethic and the drive to confront authority.

Derrick was the first person in his family to go to college. He attended Duquesne University, where he earned an undergraduate degree and served in the school ROTC. He then served as a lieutenant in the United States Air Force, where he was stationed in Korea and Louisiana.

In 1969, Derrick joined the faculty of Harvard Law School; in 1971, he became the first black tenured professor on the faculty of the law school. In 1973, Derrick published the casebook that would help define the focus of his scholarship for the next 38 years: Race, Racism and American Law. The publication of Race, Racism and American Law, now in its sixth edition, heralded an emerging era in American legal studies, the academic study of race and the law.

In 1980, Derrick became the Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, becoming one of the first African Americans to serve as dean. That same year, he published a seminal work Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest Convergence Dilemma, 93 Harv. L. Rev. 518 (1980), in which he argued that white Americans would only support racial and social justice to the extent that it benefits them. His argument that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown was driven, not by concerns over genuine equality and progress for black Americans, but rather by concerns over the nation’s emerging role as an anti-Communist military superpower, sent tremors through the legal academy.

In 1986, Derrick resigned his position as Dean of Oregon Law in protest of the faculty’s refusal to hire an Asian American female professor. He returned that same year to Harvard.

Soon after Derrick’s return to Harvard Law School, he staged a five-day sit-in in his office to protest the law school’s failure to grant tenure to two female professors of color. With student support, Derrick launched a protest movement at Harvard Law School that received national attention.

Derrick saw the parallels between his work as a civil rights lawyer and a leader for the students’ demand for increased diversity on the law school faculty. In 1990, after years of activism around the hiring and promotion of female professors of color, Derrick took an unpaid leave of absence in protest from Harvard Law School. He would never return. After refusing to end his two-year protest leave, Harvard University dismissed Derrick from his position as Weld Professor of Law.

During this tumultuous time, Derrick met Janet Dewart. As the communications director of the National Urban League, Janet called Derrick for permission to publish one of his fictional stories. This conversation was the spark of a new relationship, and they were married in June 1992.

During his long academic career, Derrick wrote prolifically, integrating legal scholarship with parables, allegories, and personal reflections that illuminated some of America’s most profound inequalities, particularly around the pervasive racism permeating and characterizing much of American law and society. Derrick is often credited as a founder of Critical Race Theory, a school of thought and scholarship that critically engages questions of race and racism in the law, investigating how even those legal institutions purporting to remedy racism can more profoundly entrench it.

After a valiant battle with cancer, Derrick Bell died on October 5, 2011. In Derrick was an incredibly spiritual man with a deep appreciation for gospel music. As such, it is only fitting that a biblical verse sums up the extraordinary life of Derrick Bell: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:23

And, he discusses “Faces . . .” on C-Span

 

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