Saturday, February 27, 2010

Racist Jealousy Takes Down Desiree Rogers, Part Deux

Desiree Rogers


Just like I said in my earlier post on Desiree (see below): The omnipresent haters were out to get her from DAY ONE of her employment by the Obamas because "we all know" a black woman can't be "allowed" to shine in such a position in this "whiteman's country." The next thing you know one of "these people" will want to run for the Presidency of the United States... GASP! HORROR!


The Haters Won: Desiree Rogers To Leave The White House
February 26, 2010

by Danielle Belton
The Black Snob

By now you probably know that everybody's favorite Zulu Queen, White House Social Secy. Desiree Rogers has announced that she's leaving her post. It might have had something to do with those famewhores who crashed a party and made everyone miserable for weeks. While I'm sure Desiree will be all delicate, graceful and classy about her exit three months after those famewhores ruined EVERYTHING, I don't have to be.

Boooo! Hissss! The HATERZ won!

As long-time readers know, I love Desiree Rogers. I love all Michelle's homies who rolled into D.C. wanting to set the world on fire in three inch heels. I think they're AWESOME. Look at this woman! Just look at her! She is fierce. Yeah, folks complained with there "Just WHO does that woman think she is?" She knows who she is! She's mutha frakkin' Desiree Rogers! The men all PAUSE when she walks into a room!

Folks complained that you didn't know who the Bushes' social secretary was or who the Clintons' social secretary was, but they probably weren't fierce so who cares? Nobody wanted to know who they were because they weren't interesting. Desiree cannot HELP that she is so fascinating that people are fascinated by her. My girl Dezzie just rolls out of a feather bed of opulent ridiculousness and strolls through life on a pair of Sparkle Ponies called "Brains" and "Sex Appeal." That's just her EVERYDAY. Yeah, you're looking at it and you're checking it out. She can't help she's a star and you just want to gaze upon her! Stars are supposed to shine like that!

So you wanted her to be humble and beg you to love her? I'm sorry. Zulu Queens don't DO that. They don't beg. They don't cry. They don't ask for permission. They don't play nice. They see something they like and they just take it and you hate them for it while secretly wishing you could just take it too. Gosh darn it, people! She can't help it that she blinks whimsy and coughs out lavishness when most people are lucky if they just cough up phlegm! So what if she farts Chopin and shits rainbows? Get over it! You'll be OK once you accept that you're a boring hot mess compared to her radiancy, Maureen Dowd.

Desiree, on the behalf of mere mortals everywhere I just want to say I'm sorry that the world could not handle such an incredible magnitude of New Orleans-by-the-way-of-Chitown black girl savvy. (Don't slap her, because she's NOT in the mood.) And I'm sorry that the awesome was so great that folks had to get all pearl clutchy and go "That WOMAN is TOUCHING our THINGS!" about you being in the White House. And I don't care what anyone has to say about Party Crasher-gate and how you think she was supposed to man the door because you thought she thought she was too good for that shit. Well, since I'm not classy and I don't give a rat's patootie I can just say "screw you." Folks just mad because you can't kick Michelle Obama out the house, so you'll just break out the long-knives on her long-time friend and associate and get all junior high on it. Fine. Are you happy now! She's leaving and taking all her fabulousness with her. Thanks, world! Thanks a lot! Watch the next social secretary be some boring hump who never says anything worth quoting and doesn't know her Kors from her Balenciaga. Yeah, you'll have your parties and they'll be blandly OK and maybe no famewhores will crash (if they're lucky). But you won't have Desiree Rogers to kick around anymore!

Team Desiree 4-Ever, haterzzzzzz!

You might also like:

Desiree Rogers: People Want to See Her Fail

Desiree Rogers On Cover of Michigan Avenue Magazine

Desiree Rogers: Voice of Power

Racist Jealousy Takes Down Desiree Rogers


This folks is how racism works and has always worked in the United Hates. A bunch of jealous rich white people consumed with envy, spite, and hatred go after a highly accomplished black person in public and then openly harass, pressure, and try to embarrass his or her employers--in this case the President and the First Lady of the country. These racist pricks tried to bury Van Jones and now they're trying to bury Desiree Rogers. The fact that Desiree is well educated, intelligent, independent, highly competent, stylish, and beautiful really sticks in their craw. This is a typical racist reaction to any black woman who "dares" to be as compelling as Ms. Rogers. Like always what these cretins want from black women is a servile maid not a professional woman of substance and accomplishment. That's what the doctrine of white supremacy and its millions of minions and acolytes "excel" in defiling and attacking and have always "excelled" in--and it NEVER changes. As my late beloved father used to say all the time: "THE BETTER YOU ARE, THE WORSE IT IS" and my father as usual wasn't even lying. These racist assholes make me sick...but when has it ever been any different.

To Desiree: Don't let these moronic scumbags defeat you sister. Come back even stronger like Van did...


Aide: W.H. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers to step down Reuters
White House social secretary Rogers resigning
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer
February 26, 2010

WASHINGTON – White House social secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down three months after an uninvited couple crashed the Obama administration's first state dinner and she was heavily criticized for her role in allowing the embarrassing episode to happen.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama issued a statement Friday thanking their longtime friend from their days together in Chicago for the "terrific job she's done" organizing more than 330 events in little more than a year in the post.

They indicated no reason for the departure, effective sometime next month after a transition period.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said a short time later that Rogers was neither forced out nor asked to leave. He also said he didn't think the dustup over the state dinner factored into her decision.

"She's decided it's time to go back to doing other things that she loves," Gibbs said.

Rogers' handling of the Nov. 24 state dinner came under fire after a celebrity-seeking northern Virginia couple got into the exclusive South Lawn affair without a formal invitation, despite heavy White House security. As social secretary, Rogers was in charge of the event.

It was a huge embarrassment for the White House that Tareq and Michaele Salahi got into the dinner uninvited, let alone close enough to top officials to shake hands with Obama in the receiving line and take photos with Vice President Joe Biden, which they posted on Facebook.

Rogers later acknowledged not having staff from her office at security checkpoints to help identify guests, a departure from the practice in previous administrations. Lawmakers had demanded that she testify about her handling of the event, and one wanted to subpoena her. The White House would not allow her to testify, citing the constitutional separation of powers.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told Congress that normal security protocols were not followed, and three officers were put on administrative leave following the breach in what normally is tight White House security.
Obama said weeks later that he was unhappy with everyone involved in what he described as a "screw-up" and said it would not happen again. Mrs. Obama also was said to be angry about the incident. The White House reviewed its policies and decided to station staff at its security checkpoints to help clear up discrepancies about guests.

Tall and glamorous, Rogers also was criticized for having a profile higher than the social secretaries before her. She gave interviews, appeared in glossy magazine photo spreads and dressed in high-end designer labels. She also had a front-row seat next to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week last year.

Rogers, 50, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that she was leaving because she had achieved a major goal of the Obamas: turning the White House into the "people's house" by opening it up to many of those who normally do not get to visit.

"My work was really to create this framework. I think I completed that work," she told her hometown newspaper. "Our office has been able to lay the foundation for what will be known as the 'people's house' and it has already taken shape."

Rogers said she planned to explore opportunities in the corporate world, where she worked before joining the administration. She arrived in Chicago after getting an MBA and has worked at AT&T and a gas and utilities company.

Gibbs said she personally informed the Obamas of her decision around the beginning of the year.

"When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the people's house and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers," the Obamas said.


Why is it that outstanding black staff working for Obama keep getting attacked and resigning? It's a rhetorical question of course...for ugly details read article below.


White House Social Secretary to Resign

Published: February 26, 2010
New York Times

On Thursday evening, the White House social secretary, Desirée Rogers, presided over yet another glittering event, with luminaries like Sarah Jessica Parker sipping sparkling wine while Rita Moreno, star of the film “West Side Story,” danced to the Marine orchestra’s rendition of the score.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Desirée Rogers, with the White House adviser David Axelrod, was criticized for her handling of the Obamas' first state dinner.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Rogers said she would resign soon, after a year that was groundbreaking but grueling, filled with criticism of her statements, her handling of the Obamas’ first state dinner and even her designer outfits.

“It has nothing to do with being glamorous — that is all make-believe in the eyes of the press,” she said in a telephone interview. “I’ve always dressed this way. This is who I am.”

She added that she had planned to stay for only a year, that she had accomplished what she wanted and that she planned to return to the corporate world.

Ms. Rogers is the latest lead character in a familiar Washington tale: the outsider and presidential friend who comes to town to do things differently, and finds both great success and withering censure. She is the first social secretary with a master’s in business administration — from Harvard — and the first African-American in the role.

She has been proud to serve “a historic presidency for all Americans, but particularly for African-Americans,” she said. “That is part of the reason I came out to do the job.”

A Chicago executive, Ms. Rogers quickly became known for stylish, socially aware fun: a spoken-word poetry jam; a party for governors designed around a “Mad Men” theme, complete with a mixologist; and another that ended with a spontaneous conga line. In her office, she hung a picture of a weathered shotgun home in New Orleans, her hometown, and she shifted her guest lists away from official Washington and toward newcomers, including schoolchildren.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said, “Both the president and first lady really wanted to open up the White House and make it the people’s house again,” adding that Ms. Rogers had done an “extraordinary” job.

Many established figures did not like being excluded, Ms. Rogers said. “I was symbolic of that change in many respects, and I took the hit,” she said, referring to many months of criticism.

Of all the Chicagoans in the Obama White House, few had made bigger leaps than Ms. Rogers. “She hadn’t worked on the campaign, she didn’t swim in the world of politics, she was coming to a different city, she was used to working more independently than the White House allows you to do,” said one colleague who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

After gate-crashers made their way into the Obamas’ first state dinner in November, the Secret Service bore blame, but so did White House staff members, including Ms. Rogers. “We needed to do a better job to help manage the process,” Ms. Jarrett said.

Afterward, Ms. Rogers kept her head down, monitored lists and entrances more closely and delivered reports at the 8:30 a.m. senior staff meetings as usual, colleagues said. “You would never have guessed from her demeanor that she was under withering criticism,” one said. Even colleagues with whom she had experienced friction circled protectively around her.

But her job was relentless, with as many as five events a day, from bill signings to award ceremonies. Asked what she had learned in Washington, Ms. Rogers said she never saw it: “We were working around the clock. I never saw the cherry blossoms.”

Ms. Rogers made the decision to leave in January; the choice was her own, she and others said. “It’s a conversation with oneself,” she said. “Is that what I want to do, what is going to make me the happiest?”

One candidate to replace Ms. Rogers, those close to the administration said, is Juliana Smoot, finance director of Mr. Obama’s campaign and a longtime Democratic aide.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Obama's Absurd National Healthcare Reform Summit: A Spectacle of Both Tragedy and Farce


This is a complete and utter farce and an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows and cares anything about real national healthcare reform. The President's publically televised dog and pony show featuring some of the most irresponsible, self serving, and corrupt politicians in America--from both the Republican and Democratic parties--is nothing but an open denial and evasion of the huge incompetent MESS both parties and President Obama have made of this major political and economic issue. The fact that it is now over one year since the White House and Democrats in Congress made their national legislative appeal for finally reforming and overhauling the biggest, most exploitive, and corrupt system of corporate criminality this side of the banks and Wall Street is a sad testimony to this government being both unable and unwilling to do what is necessary and right to actually reform the system. The massive insurance and pharmaceutical industries and their thousands of lobbyists are some of the most heinous corporate criminals in the country and have shown-- and continued to show-- a withering contempt for the average health needs and desires of the masses of working and poor people in this country. Meanwhile the President, the Democratic Party and the notoriously nihilistic reactionaries known as the Republican Party have continued to play empty, meaningless rhetorical games at our collective expense all the while falsely claiming that they are sincerely meeting or trying to meet our real needs for quality and affordable healthcare. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. As the Rolling Stone magazine's political journalist Matt Taibbi stated in his brilliant and groundbreaking analysis of the sordid politics and horrific economic realities of this entire issue in his article 'Sick and Wrong: How Washington is screwing up health care reform--and why it may take a revolt to fix it' originally published August 19, 2009 in Rolling Stone, reprinted on September 3, 2009 online: and reprinted in The Panopticon Review magazine on September 12, 2009

"Let's start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It's become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment — a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn't be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

The system doesn't work for anyone. It cheats patients and leaves them to die, denies insurance to 47 million Americans, forces hospitals to spend billions haggling over claims, and systematically bleeds and harasses doctors with the specter of catastrophic litigation. Even as a mechanism for delivering bonuses to insurance-company fat cats, it's a miserable failure: Greedy insurance bosses who spent a generation denying preventive care to patients now see their profits sapped by millions of customers who enter the system only when they're sick with incurably expensive illnesses.

The cost of all of this to society, in illness and death and lost productivity and a soaring federal deficit and plain old anxiety and anger, is incalculable — and that's the good news. The bad news is our failed health care system won't get fixed, because it exists entirely within the confines of yet another failed system: the political entity known as the United States of America.

Just as we have a medical system that is not really designed to care for the sick, we have a government that is not equipped to fix actual crises. What our government is good at is something else entirely: effecting the appearance of action, while leaving the actual reform behind in a diabolical labyrinth of ingenious legislative maneuvers...

...It's a joke, the whole thing, a parody of Solomonic governance. By the time all the various bills are combined, health care will be a baby not split in half but in fourths and eighths and fractions of eighths. It's what happens when a government accustomed to dealing on the level of perception tries to take on a profound emergency that exists in reality. No matter how hard Congress may try, though, it simply is not possible to paper over a crisis this vast.

Then again, some of the blame has to go to all of us. It's more than a little conspicuous that the same electorate that poured its heart out last year for the Hallmark-card story line of the Obama campaign has not been seen much in this health care debate. The handful of legislators — the Weiners, Kuciniches, Wydens and Sanderses — who are fighting for something real should be doing so with armies at their back. Instead, all the noise is being made on the other side. Not so stupid after all — they, at least, understand that politics is a fight that does not end with the wearing of a T-shirt in November."


February 26, 2010

President Urges Focus on Common Ground
New York Times

WASHINGTON — If there was any question about how deeply divided Republicans and Democrats are about how to reshape the American health care system, consider that they spent the first few hours of President Obama’s much-anticipated health care forum on Thursday arguing over whether they were in fact deeply divided.

The forum played out with Mr. Obama serving as moderator, M.C. and chief defender of Democratic policy prescriptions. He and his fellow Democrats tried to make the case that the two parties were closer than they thought, with the implication that their bill was centrist and would be acceptable to mainstream voters.

Republicans countered that the gap was vast, the bill out of touch with what the country wanted, and that Mr. Obama should throw it out and start over. “A dangerous experiment,” warned Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.

By day’s end, it seemed clear that the all-day televised session might have driven the parties even farther apart. Republicans said there was no way they would vote for Mr. Obama’s bill, and Democrats were talking openly about pushing it through Congress on a simple majority vote using a controversial parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation.

As he wrapped up the session, Mr. Obama chided Republicans for advocating “baby steps” and rejected their call to start over, declaring Americans “don’t want us to wait.” He said that if he did not see any significant movement toward bipartisan cooperation, Democrats would push ahead on their own and leave it to voters to render their judgment.

“That’s what elections are for,” the president said.

The forum, at Blair House across the street from the White House, was in many respects an extraordinary sight — the president, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at his side, engaging in a spirited and detailed policy debate with Republicans about one of the most compelling and ideologically polarizing issues facing the nation. Mr. Obama’s mastery of the intricacies of health policy was impressive even to some Republicans.

“It was sort of his classroom,” Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who delivered his party’s opening statement, said in an interview. “I was glad we did it, because the president’s megaphone is the biggest one and when he shares it with Republicans like he did, that gives us several hours to make our case, and I thought we made it well.”

The session did produce hints of potential agreement on some issues, but in each case Democrats and Republicans differed over important details.

They agreed on the need for more regulation of insurers, for example, but clashed over the question of whether the federal government should replace states as the primary regulator. They agreed that the federal government should help individuals and small businesses pool their purchasing power to buy insurance, but disagreed over whether the government should specify minimum benefits, as Democrats proposed.

Beyond the question of government intervention in the private insurance market, their most profound disagreement was over expanding coverage to the uninsured. The Democrats want to cover more than 30 million people over 10 years; Republicans said the nation could not even afford the entitlement programs, like Medicare, that already exist, much less start new ones.

Amid the debate over insurance industry regulation, cost containment, medical malpractice lawsuits and other minutiae of health policy, there were also plenty of theatrics. At one point, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, chastised Mr. Obama for allowing Democrats to run on, saying Republicans had spoken for 24 minutes while Democrats had had 52. (Republicans kept track of the dialogue; at the end of the day, they said Mr. Obama had spoken for 119 minutes, Democrats 114 and Republicans 110.)

At another point, Mr. Obama looked wryly at Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip, who addressed the president with a stack of papers in front of him. “Let me just guess,” Mr. Obama said, barely containing his smirk, “that’s the 2,400-page bill.”

But the biggest clash of the day involved Mr. Obama’s 2008 Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona. Reminding Mr. Obama that both of them had run for office “promising change in Washington,” Mr. McCain delivered a lengthy talk deriding the Democrats’ bill as being produced “behind closed doors” and stuffed with “unsavory deal-making.”

Mr. Obama finally tried to cut the senator off. “We’re not campaigning anymore,” the president said. “The election is over.”

Mr. McCain laughed and shot back, “I’m reminded of that every day.”

Later, though, Mr. Obama credited Mr. McCain with making a valid argument in a discussion over federal payments to private Medicare Advantage plans.

Mr. McCain criticized a provision of the Senate bill that would carve out special protections for people enrolled in the plans in Florida and a few other states, while people in his own state of Arizona would not benefit. The president called it a “legitimate point.”

Throughout the day, Mr. Obama skirmished with Republicans over the effects of the Democrats’ proposal on health insurance premiums. Republicans, citing a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Senate bill, said the average premium for individual policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium that year under current law.

Mr. Obama countered that under the Senate bill, the federal government would establish standards for “decent insurance,” and that the better benefits might be more costly. And in any event, most people buying individual policies would qualify for federal subsidies, which would substantially lower what they pay.

One of the sharpest areas of philosophical disagreement between Mr. Obama and the Republicans emerged when Senator John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who is also an orthopedic surgeon, contended that Americans would make better, less costly health care choices if they had catastrophic insurance coverage that required them to pay for most services out of pocket.

Mr. Obama asked if he would prefer that members of Congress have only catastrophic coverage; the senator said he would. “That’s right, because members of Congress make $176,000 a year,” Mr. Obama replied, adding that he wondered whether Mr. Barrasso would feel the same way if he earned only $40,000.

For the president, Thursday’s session was a kind of Hail Mary pass, a last-ditch effort to keep his top legislative priority from slipping out of his grasp.

He opened the session by calling on the two parties to search for common ground and implored them to “make sure that this discussion is actually a discussion and not just us trading talking points.”

Mr. Obama said he found considerable overlap in the two parties’ ideas, and Democrats like Senator Max Baucus of Montana, a chief author of the bill, spent much of their morning trying to back up that assertion.

Sounding optimistic, Mr. Baucus said, “We are on the verge and the cusp, with not too much effort, to try to bridge a lot of gaps here.”

David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting.

Van Jones Returns To Public Life and the National Fight For Jobs, Freedom, and Environmental Justice

Van Jones in August 2009

Ethan Miller/Getty Images


Van Jones is a real leader, a real activist, a real intellectual, a real organizer, and most importantly A REAL FIGHTER FOR JUSTICE, FREEDOM, AND EQUALITY--which of course is precisely why he is no longer working for the government. But that's no reflection on Van who sincerely thought he could contribute something important, necessary, and useful to Obama's administration despite its obvious limitations and their cowardly failure to properly support and protect him from vicious attacks, libel, and slander orchestrated by the lowly likes of far rightwing media cretins like Glenn Beck. It is however a serious indictment of a government and generally reactionary political system that fears the kind of intellectual and political honesty, integrity, vision, and genuine independence that Jones represents and epitomizes in his work and life. It's good to see Mr. Jones up and fighting again. We really need him.


February 24, 2010

Former Jobs Czar Lands at Think Tank
New York Times

Van Jones, the charismatic advocate for environmental jobs who resigned from a White House post last September over a number of controversial past statements, has found a new job with the Center for American Progress in Washington.

Mr. Jones served in the Obama administration after years as a community organizer and “green jobs” activist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He will lead the center’s Green Opportunity Initiative, which will help promote investment and employment in clean energy and environmental restoration projects, officials there said.

Mr. Jones became a focus of criticism for conservative politicians and media figures over his signing of a petition in 2004 questioning if the Bush administration had allowed the terrorist attacks of September 2001 to provide a pretext for the war in Iraq.

He also used a vulgarity to refer to Republicans just before being appointed to his White House job last year and had been an outspoken supporter of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death row for the killing of a police officer in Philadelphia.

John Podesta, the president of the Center for American Progress, called Mr. Jones “a pioneer in the effort to promote a clean, sustainable economy that works for all Americans.” He said the focus of his work at the center would mirror what he did at the White House and earlier in California — to help find environmentally friendly jobs for minority and low-income communities.

Mr. Podesta was White House chief of staff for former President Clinton and is a close adviser to President Obama. His center is something of a shadow Democratic cabinet and policy shop.

Mr. Jones had been a senior fellow at the center for 18 months before his brief White House stint last year.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will honor Mr. Jones with its President’s Award at its annual Image Awards ceremony on Friday, the group said.

Benjamin Jealous, the N.A.A.C.P. president, called Mr. Jones “an American treasure.”

“He is quite simply one of the few Americans in recent years to have generated powerful new ideas that are creating more jobs here,” Mr. Jealous wrote in a column published on

He added that Mr. Jones might be “the most misunderstood man in America.”

“He resigned from the White House last year after some sought to discredit him for missteps, such as political statements made years ago,” Mr. Jealous wrote. “However, we can never afford to forget that a defining trait of our country is our collective capacity to practice forgiveness and celebrate redemption. This is a nation built on second chances.”

The Return of Van Jones--Community Organizer and Green Jobs Advocate

Van Jones will lead a new project called the Green Opportunity Initiative. | Photo by AP

Van Jones to rejoin CAP
By: Patrick Gavin
February 24, 2010

The Center for American Progress announced Wednesday that Van Jones will rejoin the organization as a senior fellow. Jones will lead a new CAP project called the Green Opportunity Initiative.

Jones became a household name in 2009 when he became embroiled in a controversy regarding his past political statements and activities. As a result, Jones resigned from his position on President Barack Obama's White House Council on Environmental Quality in September.

"We are thrilled that Van Jones is joining us to spearhead a 'green opportunity' agenda to develop the policies and strategies that will ensure the clean-energy future brings not just climate stability and energy security, but also broadly shared economic prosperity," said Kate Gordon, vice president for energy policy at CAP.

Jones is slated to develop the think tank's agenda for "expanding investment, innovation, and opportunity through clean energy and environmental restoration, especially for low-income and minority communities."

"Van is a pioneer in the effort to promote a clean, sustainable economy that works for all Americans," said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. "I'm proud that he's coming back to CAP to focus on creating economic opportunity in distressed communities through the Green Opportunity Initiative and that he will be giving voice to those issues once again."

© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Endurance of Racist Mythology in the Film Aesthetics and Cultural Content of "Precious"


Excellent commentary by Ishmael Reed regarding the latest contemporary sequel to "Birth of A Nation" (1915). "Precious" is nothing but pure racist crap and the fact that it was written and directed by black people (Sapphire & Lee Daniels) doesn't change that fundamental fact one iota. It merely underscores and makes it worse (or to paraphrase Karl Marx: "racist tragedy always follows and encourages racist farce"). That's why the pervasive social and aesthetic promotion of the twin doctrines of white supremacy and black inferiority in both art and life is so powerful and enduring in a thoroughly racist culture and society-- no matter who's pulling the trigger. Hollyweird loves this vile shit of course but that's completely consistent with its notoriously rancid history so absolutely no surprise there. Meanwhile real black folks have to deal with social reality "out there" in the real world no matter what fictional distortions or misrepresentations are made in our name...


February 5, 2010


Fade to White

Oakland, Calif.

JUDGING from the mail I’ve received, the conversations I’ve had and all that I’ve read, the responses to “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” fall largely along racial lines.

Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father. The author Jill Nelson wrote: “I don’t eat at the table of self-hatred, inferiority or victimization. I haven’t bought into notions of rampant black pathology or embraced the overwrought, dishonest and black-people-hating pseudo-analysis too often passing as post-racial cold hard truths.” One black radio broadcaster said that he felt under psychological assault for two hours. So did I.

The blacks who are enraged by “Precious” have probably figured out that this film wasn’t meant for them. It was the enthusiastic response from white audiences and critics that culminated in the film being nominated for six Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an outfit whose 43 governors are all white and whose membership in terms of diversity is about 40 years behind Mississippi. In fact, the director, Lee Daniels, said that the honor would bring even more “middle-class white Americans” to his film.

Is the enthusiasm of such white audiences and awards committees based on their being comfortable with the stereotypes shown? Barbara Bush, the former first lady, not only hosted a screening of “Precious” but also wrote about it in Newsweek, saying: “There are kids like Precious everywhere. Each day we walk by them: young boys and girls whose home lives are dark secrets.” Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement assisted the movie’s distribution and its acceptance among her white fanbase, said, “None of us who sees the movie can now walk through the world and allow the Preciouses of the world to be invisible.”

Are Mrs. Bush and Ms. Winfrey suggesting, on the basis of a fictional film, that incest is widespread among black families? Statistics tell us that it’s certainly no more prevalent among blacks than whites. The National Center for Victims of Crime notes: “Incest does not discriminate. It happens in families that are financially privileged, as well as those of low socio-economic status. It happens to those of all racial and ethnic descent, and to those of all religious traditions.”

Given the news media’s tendency to use scandals involving black men, both fictional and real, to create “teaching tools” about the treatment of women, it was inevitable that a black male character associated with incest would be used to begin some national discussion about the state of black families.

This use of movies and books to cast collective shame upon an entire community doesn’t happen with works about white dysfunctional families. It wasn’t done, for instance, with “Requiem for a Dream,” starring the great Ellen Burstyn, about a white family dealing with drug addiction, or with “The Kiss,” a memoir about incest — in that case, a relationship between a white father and his adult daughter.

Such stereotyping has led to calamities being visited on minority communities. I’ve suggested that the Newseum in Washington create a Hall of Shame, which would include the front pages of newspapers whose inflammatory coverage led to explosions of racial hatred. I’m thinking, among many others, of 1921’s Tulsa riot, which started with a rumor that a black man had assaulted a white woman, and resulted in the murder of 300 blacks.

Black films looking to attract white audiences flatter them with another kind of stereotype: the merciful slave master. In guilt-free bits of merchandise like “Precious,” white characters are always portrayed as caring. There to help. Never shown as contributing to the oppression of African-Americans. Problems that members of the black underclass encounter are a result of their culture, their lack of personal responsibility.

It’s no surprise either that white critics — eight out of the nine comments used on the publicity Web site for “Precious” were from white men and women — maintain that the movie is worthwhile because, through the efforts of a teacher, this girl begins her first awkward efforts at writing.

Redemption through learning the ways of white culture is an old Hollywood theme. D. W. Griffith produced a series of movies in which Chinese, Indians and blacks were lifted from savagery through assimilation. A more recent example of climbing out of the ghetto through assimilation is “Dangerous Minds,” where black and Latino students are rescued by a curriculum that doesn’t include a single black or Latino writer.

By the movie’s end, Precious may be pushing toward literacy. But she is jobless, saddled with two children, one of whom has Down syndrome, and she’s learned that she has AIDS.

Some redemption.

Ishmael Reed is the author of the forthcoming “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NOW is the Time To Pass National Healthcare Reform Legislation--With A Public Option!


I rest my case. Even the New York Times knows what time it is...


February 19, 2010

New York Times
The Lesson of Anthem Blue Cross

Clients were understandably furious when Anthem Blue Cross, the largest for-profit health insurer in California, announced huge rate increases for people who buy their own insurance: an average increase of 25 percent, and a 35 percent to 39 percent rise for a quarter of the purchasers. The move also provided a textbook example of why the nation badly needs comprehensive health care reforms.

The reform bills stalled in Congress would put a brake on such out-of-scale premium increases by broadening the pools of insured people to keep average premiums low, by setting up competitive insurance exchanges and by starting to rein in the cost of medical care that is driving up premiums everywhere.

Private insurers in several other states also have sought and won double-digit increases for policies sold to individuals. In one striking case, a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Michigan sought a 56 percent average increase in premiums for individually bought policies but settled for 22 percent in a compromise with regulators.

If the increases go through in California, where regulators have limited powers to control rates, Anthem’s enrollees would have to choose between paying the higher price, moving to lower-cost policies, perhaps with a high deductible, switching to another insurer if they can find one to take them, or dropping coverage entirely.

The nation’s largest health insurers reported substantial profits last year over all, but Anthem claims it lost money on the individual market in California. Its parent company, WellPoint Inc., attributed the need for the huge rate increase to a changing mix of customers as the recession forces many people to cut back on expenses.

The company says that healthier customers, gambling that they won’t need much care, are disproportionately dropping Anthem coverage or choosing not to enroll. The less healthy are staying with Anthem, where their higher medical costs are driving up premiums.

WellPoint will be asked to justify the increases at hearings in Congress and the State Legislature. California’s insurance commissioner is investigating whether Anthem will be meeting regulations to spend at least 70 percent of its premium revenues on claims.

It’s hard to know which conclusion would be worse: that Anthem is trying to fleece its individual customers or that Anthem’s rates are actuarially justified by its increasingly unhealthy enrollment pool.

The salient point is that the reform bills pending in Congress could almost certainly prevent this problem from developing. The bills would require everyone to buy health insurance (many with government subsidies). That would create large pools to spread the risk over both healthy and sick enrollees and keep average premiums low. On new insurance exchanges, people who buy their own insurance could benefit from group purchasing power and could choose from an array of policies. Competition among insurers on the exchanges is expected to help keep premiums down.

How about the Republicans’ health care proposals?

They would only address a small part of the Anthem problem. The Republicans reject the idea of mandates to spread the cost of care and instead call for ways for people dissatisfied with their insurer to buy cheaper coverage elsewhere. That could help relatively healthy people but would do nothing for the chronically ill or anyone with pre-existing conditions. They would be stuck in their health plans. State high-risk pools for sick people, another Republican solution, almost always have high premiums and would not provide a safe haven from rate increases in private plans.

Unless Congress passes comprehensive reform, we should expect many more Anthems in our future.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Open Letter To the President and the Democrats in Congress: NOW is the Time To Pass Real National Healthcare Reform Legislation!


If this latest brazen example of the greedy corporate stranglehold on national health insurance doesn't force Obama and the Democratic Party to finally act forcefully to pass a truly comprehensive and affordable national healthcare reform bill at this very late date in the political process nothing will. So as Krugman points out it is time for the President and Congress to finally deliver on REAL national health reform NOW--with an all important and very necessary public option provision that will allow the government and ordinary citizens to finally be able to compete against the shameless monopolies that run the highly exploitive and thoroughly dysfunctional national healthcare insurance system. That means that Obama and the Democrats in Congress have to formally bypass the Republican opposition altogether via reconciliation in the House and Senate and pass the bill without them being able to hold it and the American people hostage to their stonewalling antics and endless filibustering of the bill. Obama and the Democrats have a real chance now to salvage a bill that was absolutely dead in the water as late as last week. We must now all demand that they don't blow this opportunity...


February 19, 2010


California Death Spiral
New York Times

Health insurance premiums are surging — and conservatives fear that the spectacle will reinvigorate the push for reform. On the Fox Business Network, a host chided a vice president of WellPoint, which has told California customers to expect huge rate increases: “You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed. You gave it to them!”

Indeed. Sky-high rate increases make a powerful case for action. And they show, in particular, that we need comprehensive, guaranteed coverage — which is exactly what Democrats are trying to accomplish.

Here’s the story: About 800,000 people in California who buy insurance on the individual market — as opposed to getting it through their employers — are covered by Anthem Blue Cross, a WellPoint subsidiary. These are the people who were recently told to expect dramatic rate increases, in some cases as high as 39 percent.

Why the huge increase? It’s not profiteering, says WellPoint, which claims instead (without using the term) that it’s facing a classic insurance death spiral.

Bear in mind that private health insurance only works if insurers can sell policies to both sick and healthy customers. If too many healthy people decide that they’d rather take their chances and remain uninsured, the risk pool deteriorates, forcing insurers to raise premiums. This, in turn, leads more healthy people to drop coverage, worsening the risk pool even further, and so on.

Now, what WellPoint claims is that it has been forced to raise premiums because of “challenging economic times”: cash-strapped Californians have been dropping their policies or shifting into less-comprehensive plans. Those retaining coverage tend to be people with high current medical expenses. And the result, says the company, is a drastically worsening risk pool: in effect, a death spiral.

So the rate increases, WellPoint insists, aren’t its fault: “Other individual market insurers are facing the same dynamics and are being forced to take similar actions.” Indeed, a report released Thursday by the department of Health and Human Services shows that there have been steep actual or proposed increases in rates by a number of insurers.

But here’s the thing: suppose that we posit, provisionally, that the insurers aren’t the main villains in this story. Even so, California’s death spiral makes nonsense of all the main arguments against comprehensive health reform.

For example, some claim that health costs would fall dramatically if only insurance companies were allowed to sell policies across state lines. But California is already a huge market, with much more insurance competition than in other states; unfortunately, insurers compete mainly by trying to excel in the art of denying coverage to those who need it most. And competition hasn’t averted a death spiral. So why would creating a national market make things better?

More broadly, conservatives would have you believe that health insurance suffers from too much government interference. In fact, the real point of the push to allow interstate sales is that it would set off a race to the bottom, effectively eliminating state regulation. But California’s individual insurance market is already notable for its lack of regulation, certainly as compared with states like New York — yet the market is collapsing anyway.

Finally, there have been calls for minimalist health reform that would ban discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions and stop there. It’s a popular idea, but as every health economist knows, it’s also nonsense. For a ban on medical discrimination would lead to higher premiums for the healthy, and would, therefore, cause more and bigger death spirals.

So California’s woes show that conservative prescriptions for health reform just won’t work.

What would work? By all means, let’s ban discrimination on the basis of medical history — but we also have to keep healthy people in the risk pool, which means requiring that people purchase insurance. This, in turn, requires substantial aid to lower-income Americans so that they can afford coverage.

And if you put all of that together, you end up with something very much like the health reform bills that have already passed both the House and the Senate.

What about claims that these bills would force Americans into the clutches of greedy insurance companies? Well, the main answer is stronger regulation; but it would also be a very good idea, politically as well as substantively, for the Senate to use reconciliation to put the public option back into its bill.

But the main point is this: California’s death spiral is a reminder that our health care system is unraveling, and that inaction isn’t an option. Congress and the president need to make reform happen — now.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company