Cornel West’s Slow Slide Into Darkness

“I love you now but I’ll hate you later.”

There used to a half-serious joke that once Michael Jackson’s skin turned White and his nose started falling off, it wasn’t the real Michael Jackson.   The real Michael was sick or locked away somewhere and this freakish clone of him was the one being wheeled out to the public.

Is that what happened to Cornel West?   There’s a guy running around who looks like him.   He sort of sounds like him if Cornel West only talked about how much he despises President Obama.    He even wears the only suit in West’s closet.   It’s too bad it isn’t a clone of Cornel West trashing his own rep while he trashes the president.   It would be even easier to dismiss him as a bitter hater than it already is.

West’s latest in a series of tiresome tirades short of any intellectual insights, but long on street-level smack talk came in an interview with Tavis “Sub-Prime” Smiley, the Iago to West’s Othello:

Smiley:  “What’s your sense of how the media, and not just Fox News but beyond that, your read as you’ve been watching this, how the media handled this case?”

West:  “I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC.”

This is almost funny.   West snipes at his former allies, Rev. Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson (and longtime adversary, Melissa Harris-Perry) for appearing on MSNBC  (a network that has given West plenty of face time) while his best buddy Smiley has whored himself out to such corporations as Wal-Mart, Exxon, Wells-Fargo and McDonald’s.  This does not trouble West as he is represented by Smiley for book publishing and speaking engagements (West earns up to $25,000  to speak).

In other words, if you got the cash, you can rent West and Smiley’s ashy asses.    If MSNBC came calling and offered West and Smiley a show, how fast would they run not walk to sign on the dotted line?

The dizzying descent of West as an intellectual has been rapid and sad to behold.  West has permitted the unscrupulous  Smiley to co-opt him into a sustained and relentless campaign of negativity and baseless criticism of President Obama and any Black person who doesn’t share West and Smiley’s opinion.

“Eff me? Eff YOU! My dear brother.”

The roots of West’s rage trace back to when Obama’s first inauguration.  West was angry Obama hadn’t personally thanked him for his support and  ensuring West was invited to the inauguration.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.”

“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”

What that says to me is the only thing bigger on Cornel West than the gap between his teeth and his busted-ass Afro is his ego. It’s as big as outdoors and Dear Brother Cornel likes to have his ego stroked frequently and often.

I respect Dear Brother West. I bought Race Matters by the Dear Brother because race does matter and so did his observations.. I watched the Dear Brother on television and heard the Dear Brother speak when he came to town. I believe the Dear Brother is one of our greatest thinkers.

When the Dear Brother bothers to think. He stopped doing that when he let his ego, the only thing larger than his ‘fro, slip off the leash and he turned himself into a vicious, hypocritical, small-minded hater and it seems to be no coincidence the descent from renowned intellectual to annoying crank came when another blood enemy of Obama began whispering sweet nothing in the acclaimed academic’s ears.

The Enabled and the Enabler.

West hasn’t written a meaningful book, penned a useful article or expressed an original thought since 2008 when he got butthurt over Obama not kissing his ass or give him a position of prominence in his administration as he did with West’s nemesis from Harvard, Larry Summers.

Seriously, isn’t Cornel West starting to look like a hip-hop Hobbit?

It seems the longer West hangs around Smiley the crazier he sounds.   Smiley’s enemies (Obama, Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson) have become West’s enemies.  By lending his diminishing clout to Smiley, West only diminishes his own reputation and enhances Smiley.

West needs to put several time zones of distance between himself and Sub-Prime Smiley and get back to thinking like an intellectual instead of babbling like a damn fool.   If West were as smart as he believes himself to be, he’d realize Smiley is playing him the way a pimp plays a ho.

Sharpton, West, Dyson: Once friends, now foes.

Tavis Hates Barack: Take 25

"I am important so you should listen to me."

“I am important so you should listen to me.”

Last weekend was spent in Canton, Ohio visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame and getting primed for the start of another NFL season, but don’t worry.   This isn’t a football post.  I can’t get away from politics even when I’m trying to.

Tavis Smiley is talking again which means again he’s talking trash about President Obama.   These two guys don’t like each other and for his part, Tavis is never going to let the world forget how much he doesn’t like Obama.   The president doesn’t respond to Tavis’ slams because he’s the president and he doesn’t have to respond to non-entities.

So I will.  Because I don’t like Tavis.  If possible, I like him less than he likes Obama and for the same reason he hates on Obama.  Smiley is a con man.  A self-promoter.  He talks a good game but what if anything has Tavis ever done except write a lot of shitty books, find others more talented and intelligent than him to latch onto and leech off and whore himself out to whatever corporation needs a fast-talking Negro to get in good with the Black folks?

Tavis went on Meet the Press because host David Gregory is almost as terrible at interviewing as Tavis is and that’s saying something.    In what was billed a panel to discuss race, Tavis tried to start a rap battle with the president over his remarks about Trayvon Martin saying his flow was weak and his words weren’t kicking either.

The lowlights:

“weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid”

We are never ever getting back together again.

“This is not Libya, this is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind.  He’s the right person in the right place at the right time. But he has to step into his moment.”

“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But … he did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”

At this point there’s no reason to believe Tavis is capable of saying anything remotely fair about Obama, but is “intelligent” off the table as well?

The president isn’t deaf to the cries of the Black community.  He can’t always acknowledge them without his relentless critics saying, “There he goes again.  Being Black” or have jealous little toads like the worthless Mr. Smiley sneering he only spoke about Trayvon due to the protests.   But did Tavis notice how Travyon’s parents thanked the president for his kind words about their murdered son?   The praise of Trayvon’s parents trumps Tavis’ hateration and it isn’t a close call.

It’s a lose-lose situation for Obama.  Say something and he gets slammed by his enemies.   Say nothing and he gets slammed by his supporters.    James Baldwin said, “To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger.”   The president is always in danger of being Too Black or Not Black Enough.  He chose to act and commit his support of Trayvon and his family.  I’m glad he decided to lead from ahead instead of hide behind the myriad issues and events in the Oval Office Inbox.

Here is the funny thing about clout.   For somebody to have it, somebody else has to lose it.  The rising of Obama’s star came with a settling of Smiley’s.  Prior to Obama, Tavis had a prominent place as commentator on Tom Joyner’s radio program.   He had his State of the Black Union conferences broadcast on C-SPAN.   He had his books telling Blacks how to get themselves together.  Mostly, by buying more of his books.   He had a radio program on NPR.   He had a show on PBS.

With the exception of his 30 minute talk show broadcast just before midnight on my local PBS station, Smiley doesn’t have any of that going for him anymore.   Smiley’s downward spiral really kicked after his book that was supposed to put Obama on notice, “Accountable” tanked hard.  Characteristically, Smiley didn’t blame the book stiffing on writing a bad book.  He blamed Black folks for being so in love with Obama they didn’t buy it so y’all better feel terrible about that!

What really chaps Tavis’ ass is he knows he didn’t make Obama and he sure can’t break him. Tavis is irrelevant and Obama made him that way.

The argument Tavis makes is he has been called to hold Obama’s feet to the fire.   It’s the only way to ensure the president doesn’t completely ignore our issues.   That’s how Tavis sees it and he’s sticking to his story.

This is mine.

Tavis isn’t keeping “MY” issues out there. I don’t need a spokesman and nobody elected this fool to be MY leader. I voted for Obama twice and didn’t see Smiley’s name on the ballot even once.  He’s a self-promoter, a swindler, a con man and out for Tavis Smiley more than he is about anybody else. Remember that “poverty tour” he and his boy Cornel took? What came out of it? Any calls for legislation? Did he ask Congress to convene hearings? Did he even present an action plan for the president to work on?

All he and bunk buddy West did was pulled off a media stunt, get a little undeserved attention at the same time yet another book was coming out.  When conservatives talk about “race hustlers” they point at Sharpton and Jackson. They should be pointing at Tavis “Sub-Prime Loans” Smiley.

While it’s good for visitor hits on my blog, talking about Tavis’ trash talk is a never-ending story.  Like any race hustler who craves attention like a moth to a porch light, I’m giving this unimportant has-been exactly what he craves.  The election of Obama was a mortal blow to the unelected “leaders” of Black America.  Smiley and West were never elected so they can never be tossed out of office.   They offer no legislation, sign no laws, and offer nothing but talk and then more talk. Tavis and his ilk is only as important as Black people let him be.  Ignore him and he’s as played out as Rae Dawn Chong ripping into Oprah.

Rae Dawn and Tavis would actually make a good couple (if she could squeeze between Tavis and Cornel West).  They’re two nobodies whose only way to find relevance is taking smack about more successful somebodies.

“What did I get on my finger? It stinks.”

Tavis Smiley’s Pathetic Paranoia and Increasing Irrelevance

Always complaining. Increasingly irrelevant.

The job of the artist, the activist and the journalist is to engage in uncomfortable analysis.  If they don’t then all they’re feeding the masses is a steady diet of nothing but comfort food.  There is no intellectual nourishment in always entertaining people.

Then there’s Tavis Smiley.  The self-appointed President of Black America who has been both a race hustler and a shameless corporate shill even as he prowls the country on a “poverty tour” designed for no other reason than to try to embarrass the twice-elected President of the United States.

Not that is has.  Lately nobody seems to notice Tavis  and his stunts.  His pandering for press attention has reached Lindsay Lohan levels of desperation.   For a minute it was fun to watch Smiley babble how he was going to hold Barack Obama “accountable.”   It became clear Smiley really desired Obama to be accountable to him.

That’s when the rank odor of Smiley’s bullshit finally became overwhelming.   Smiley used the 10th anniversary of his PBS television program to accuse the White House of pressuring advertisers to abandon his show and of course he had a reason why they would go after him.

“This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not…They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question…“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”

Oh Tavis, really?  Now you’re so desperate to play the victim you’re reduced to hiding behind your “White progressive colleagues” as your beard?  Negro, please.   Your “White progressive colleagues” aren’t the ones  grinding an axe since 2008 when you began your “I Hate Obama” campaign after he declined to appear at your State of Black America conference  to kiss your arrogant ass.

The causal observer may notice when Smiley speaks about President Obama he asserts he’s only trying to hold him accountable.   This might lead you to think that was Smiley’s favorite word.   Perhaps it is and not simply the title of a book Smiley wrote that bombed.   Here’s the thing about that word.  It can be applied to Smiley too as it was in 2009 when citizen journalist Faye Anderson looked into the race hustlers rewarding relationship with Wells Fargo in pushing sub-prime loans to African-Americans.

Smiley’s complete lack of credibility and anti-Obama  agenda has subjected him to a withering barrage of criticism for his latest unsubstantiated charges against the president.

Shannon Williams: Over the years I have watched Smiley go from a balanced public speaker who offered credible and thought-provoking perspective to his analyses to a bitter man who has used his platform to unjustly attack people who, in his opinion, have treated him in a bad or disrespectful manner. It almost seems as if he has had some sort of breakdown over the years that has caused him to speak in a vindictive and erratic manner. Though a breakdown would be a good escape goat, I think Smiley’s true problem is an overinflated ego. When people haven’t done what he thinks they should do, that ego gets bruised and Smiley gets angry. The way he “repays” the “wrongdoers” is he publically talks about them under the guise that he is holding them accountable.

Accountability is a marvelous thing that we all should be held to, but the said conclusions need to be derived from a thorough and fair judgment system. Public accountability cannot hold a personal vendetta.

Eric Wattree:  …why would Tavis’s corporate benefactors even want to hide the fact that they were being pressured by Obama? Trying to put pressure on Walmart, Nationwide Insurance, or Exxon/Mobile would not only be extremely dumb on the part of the administration, but it would be a gift from God to Tavis’s ALEC connected corporate benefactors. Can you just imagine what Darrell Issa could do with something like that in his House Oversight Kangaroo Committee? He’d turn it into Watergate.
So it seems that yet again Tavis is being deluded by his overblown ego – the same ego that made him assume that Obama had an obligation to come on his “State of the Black Union” show to be anointed by Tavis to run for president; the same ego that made him think that he’s been slighted when Obama failed to do so; the same ego that caused him to go all over the media complaining that “For the very first time in my career I haven’t been invited to the White House;” and the very same ego that made him think that he had enough clout in the Black community to challenge the first Black president of the United States.
The fact is, President Obama hasn’t given either Tavis Smiley, or Cornel West, a second thought since he’s been in office. He hasn’t had to, because he, like just about everyone else in America – at least, with good sense – could see that he didn’t have to. Tavis and West were making themselves look like perfect fools on their own accord, so the president didn’t have to say, or do a thing. All he had to do was sit back and watch them implode – and that’s exactly what he’s done.

Michael H. Cottman: In a month where Republicans have accused Obama of everything imaginable –with the possible exception of Robert Griffin III’s knee injury — it seems that Smiley snagged a timely moment to pile on.

I would argue that the White House doesn’t care enough about Smiley to assemble a team of administration officials who would surreptitiously spend time thinking up new and creative ways to suppress Smiley’s voice.

Smiley says his self-imposed mandate in life is to hold Obama’s feet to the fire and keep him accountable to black people. That’s his choice and his path to follow, but I don’t believe there’s a clandestine campaign within the Obama administration that is secretly trying to shut Smiley down.

He’s just not that important.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.    There is no reason for Obama to sic the dogs on Smiley because his importance is largely in his own mind and his impact is nil.   Take down Tavis?   Why bother?  He doing a fine job of it all by himself.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Cornel West’s Counter-Insurgency Against Obama

A man thoroughly convinced of his own importance.

The other day  Tavis Smiley and Cornel West were bitching about President Obama.  What they were bitching about doesn’t rally matter because that’s what they do.  That’s all they do and they tear down Obama so much it makes me wonder are they angling for their own show on Fox News?   How did West and Smiley go from men of respect within Black culture to self-parody?

I’d sum it up in two words: Barack Obama. From Tavis’ perspective it’s straight up envy. He used to host a yearly gathering called “The State of the Black Union” where he would invite prominent people to discuss issues of importance to African-Americans. It was interesting to see people who were often overlooked by the White mainstream media gather to discuss and debate, but a funny thing happened with “The State of the Black Union.” Talking was all it was about. There was no action plan. There was no “Black agenda” that sprung from  these lengthy talk-a-thons.   It was equally clear if you weren’t part of the  Tavis Smiley clique of Favorite Black Folks ,   you probably weren’t going to be invited to speak. Then there’s  the issue of the gathering of Black thinkers  being underwritten by Smiley’s corporate pals,  Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.

The defining moment came in 2008 when Smiley invited Sen. Obama to appear at the yearly gathering.   The eventual nominee was still in the middle of  primary battle with Hillary Clinton  and instead of coming off the campaign trail, he wrote Smiley a letter offering to send Michelle Obama in his stead.  Smiley flatly rejected Obama’s wife as his representative and got really ugly about it. Smiley, a Clinton supporter, invited her to appear instead and she accepted.

Smiley continued to attack Obama for not appearing.   Suddenly, even Smiley’s supporters started looking sideways at this raging egotist and wondering who was he to demand Obama appear personally to kiss his ring?

This led to Smiley eventually quitting the Tom Joyner radio show, the program that initially raised his national profile and a bitter falling out with Joyner himself. Smiley wrote a book after Obama won the presidency called “Accountable” where he pompously asserted how it was up to Black people like him to hold Obama accountable if he didn’t deliver the goods to the Black community once he took office.

The book tanked hard and Smiley griped Obama supporters had turned on him and caused the book to flop. He’s been a little pebble in a big can rattling around ever since about how Obama ain’t shit.

Cornel West…now that’s an entirely different and much sadder story. It’s also downright pathetic at points.  A frustrated supporter in 2008,  West despises Obama so much he can’t abide anyone that doesn’t share his negative opinion of the president.

“I love Brother Mike Dyson, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale,” West said in a Huffington Post story. “Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother (Al) Sharpton and Sister Melissa (Harris-Perry) and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.”

Who needs Cornel West’s kind of “love.”  If everybody is up for sale, where’s West hiding his price tag?

“Sister Melissa” hasn’t been reluctant to call out West for his single-minded mission to demean and defame Obama at every turn as her 2011 column in The Nation stripped West’s hypocrisy down to the bone with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

Harris-Perry has gone from West’s colleague to his nemesis

“As tenured professors Cornel West and I are not meaningfully accountable, no matter what our love, commitment, or self-delusions tell us. President Obama, as an elected official, can, in fact, be voted out of his job. We can’t. That is a difference that matters. As West derides the President’s economic policies he remains silent on his friend Tavis Smiley’s relationship with Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and McDonald’s–all corporations whose invasive and predatory actions in poor and black communities have been the target of progressive organizing for decades. I have never heard him take Tavis Smiley to task for helping convince black Americans to enter into predatory mortgages. I’ve never heard him ask whether Tavis’ decision to publish R. Kelley’s memoirs might be a less than progressive decision. He doesn’t hold Tavis accountable because Tavis is his friend and he is loyal. I respect that, but I also know that if he were in elected office the could not get off so easily. Opposition research would point out the hypocrisy in his public positions in a way that would make him vulnerable come election time. As a media personality and professor he is safely ensconced in a system that can never vote him off the island. I think an honest critique of Obama has to begin by acknowledging his own privileges.”

The days when Black Americans had  “leaders” is over and done.  We have organization heads, self-appointed experts and spokespersons on race and some celebrities who have a podium to express their beliefs. But as far as “leaders” goes, that went bye-bye when Martin and Malcolm and others left the scene, often violently and always prematurely. What we have now is a group of Second Wave Wannabees who would like to considered as picking up where King, Malcolm, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and so many others left off.

Martin didn’t have corporate sponsorship. Malcolm didn’t demand huge speaking fees. Rosa  didn’t have a talk show.  Nobody went looking for Smiley or  West to “lead” Black people.  We had REAL leaders.  Why settle for phony ones?

Pointing out West’s hypocrisy  is almost its own news desk.  Journalist and blogger Eric Wattree has long documented West and Smiley’s shameless self-promotion, “West is never short on words when it comes to denigrating high-profile Black people. He’s publicly criticized Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jay Z, and of course, his favorite target, President Barack Obama. But when it comes to his good friend and associate, Tavis Smiley’s, involvement in Wells Fargo’s victimization of the Black community, he’s been curiously silent.”

The silence is being interrupted by the loudness of the Black community waking up to Smiley’s coziness with Corporate America and how he’s played the role of Judas goat leading African-Americans into financial ruin while profiting from their misery.  Following their second so-called “poverty tour” that West and Smiley claimed was supposed to spotlight the poor, but was confined to key states in the last presidential election, the due were called out by Najee Ali, a Los Angeles based activist, for Smiley’s cozy relationship with rabidly anti-union Wal-Mart.

“Wal-Mart is a billion dollar corporation. They should be able to offer a better medical package for their associates and a living wage. The involvement of corporations like Wal-Mart in Tavis Smiley’s own PBS show is troublesome,” says Ali. “Wal-Mart is one of the major sponsors of his show. Therefore, Wal-Mart plays a major role in sustaining Smiley’s popularity. If Smiley and West want to address poverty shouldn’t they involve Wal-Mart in the conversation and hold them  accountable as well?”

Pete and Repeat are back in black.

Pete and Repeat are back in black.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dear Brother Cornel to answer that.

West is a joke. There’s a rock song entitled, “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young” and that sorry state where West is at now.  A vain, prideful man with a slight Messiah Complex,  whenever West opens his mouth he sounds more irrational, more deranged, more self-righteous and more butt hurt than ever.   There is nothing remotely intellectual in the vicious and highly personal ways West scorns the president.

What do you get when you match a vain, egotistical academic with delusions of divinity with a vain, egotistical hustler searching for a way to stay relevant?  Nothing good.  Just two clowns without a circus fighting to stay in the spotlight.   If it wasn’t so damn annoying it would be sad.

What Sort of Leadership Do We Want From Our Leaders?

He's no Malcolm X, but could we handle Malcolm X today?

President Obama went to the Congressional Black Caucus dinner and spoke about Black unemployment, Black problems and Black people.  All the things critics like Maxine Waters and Tavis Smiley and all the other professional “leaders”  have ripped Obama for not saying he said out loud and on the record.

“With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs. I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children. I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.

“I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.”

Seems they didn’t dig Obama telling them to “stop complaining.”  Complaining is what Waters and Smiley do best.  Smiley sputtered,  “How does he get away with saying this to Black folk?” Waters sniffed indignantly, “I don’t know who he was talking to because we’re certainly not complaining,”

Negroes, please!   I hate to see bourgeois Black people get their ass on their shoulders when they get called out.  Tavis all you do is talk and if talking’ could solve a problem we wouldn’t have any.  Maxine,  you’ve been in Congress for 21 years!  How are your constituents in South Central L.A. doing these day?  With all the ethical clouds hanging over your head where do you get the balls to be so damned morally superior?

Waters and Smiley are so focused on their disdain for the messenger they didn’t bother listening to the message.

"You talkin' to me? I know you aren't talking to me."

With all the whiny responses to the president’s remarks I got to wondering.  What would happen if a real flamethrower spoke to the CBC?   How would these proper and respectable Negroes handle being called out by a Black man who spoke in capital letters and with no regard or concern whether or not they wanted to hear what he had to say.

What would happen if Malcolm X spoke to a group of politicians and professional Black leaders?   What would that sound like?

Maybe something like this.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”

“The greatest miracle Christianity has achieved in America is that the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent. It is a miracle that 22 million black people have not risen up against their oppressors – in which they would have been justified by all moral criteria, and even by the democratic tradition! It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy! It is a miracle that the American black people have remained a peaceful people, while catching all the centuries of hell that they have caught, here in white man’s heaven! The miracle is that the white man’s puppet Negro ‘leaders’, his preachers and the educated Negroes laden with degrees, and others who have been allowed to wax fat off their black poor brothers, have been able to hold the black masses quiet until now.”

“You can cuss out colonialism, imperialism, and all other kinds of ism, but it’s hard for you to cuss that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, your soul goes.”

“Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its hum an rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.’ What did we do, who preceded you ? I’ll tell you what we did. Nothing. And don’t you make the same mistake we made….”

“Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”

“Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race… is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!”

 “People involved in a revolution don’t become part of the system; they destroy the system… The Negro revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system it has condemned to accept them…The price of freedom is death. “

“Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing ‘We shall overcome … Suum Day…’ while tripping and swaying along arm-in-arm with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against ? Who ever heard of angry revolutionists swinging their bare feet together with their oppressor in lily-pad park pools, with gospels and guitars and ‘I have a dream’ speeches? And the black masses in America were–and still are–having a nightmare.”

“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American…. No I’m not an American, I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy…. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.”

“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.”

“If you’re afraid of black nationalism, you’re afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house — quicker than the master would. If the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

“We, the Black masses, don’t want these leaders who seek our support coming to us representing a certain political party. They must come to us today as Black Leaders representing the welfare of Black people. We won’t follow any leader today who comes on the basis of political party. Both parties (Democrat and Republican) are controlled by the same people who have abused our rights, and who have deceived us with false promises every time an election rolls around.”

“I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do. And that’s the way every Negro should get. Any time you know you’re within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don’t die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“If it doesn’t take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man. You let that white man know, if this is a country of freedom, let it be a country of freedom; and if it’s not a country of freedom, change it.”

Yeah, if Malcolm X spoke to some of these so-called “Black leaders” there would be smoke coming out of their ears and their heads would explode.

At some point Waters and Smiley and all the professional pessimists who call out Obama for not showing concern about issues of poverty, unemployment and the suffering of African-Americans will to have to decide if they’re primarily interested in only criticizing him when he’s wrong instead of supporting him when he’s right

It used to be Black people responded when they were challenged by their leaders and yes, Barack Obama is a leader.   He’s not a fire starter as Malcolm X was and he’s far too careful at times but this is not the first time Obama’s policies have come wrapped in a moral lesson.  Waters and Smiley don’t want to be challenged.  They want to be asked real nicely.   They don’t even want solutions to problems.   What would they do if they had nothing to bitch about?

What would they say if Malcolm X challenged them to stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying?  If a Black moderate like Obama annoys them so much how would an outspoken Black nationalist rock their world?  Malcolm loved Black people but he wasn’t afraid to chide Black people for not stepping up their game.   Writing in The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates pondered the parallels between the fatherly advice both men gave Black Americans.

Always lurking among Malcolm’s condemnations of white racism was a subtler, and more inspiring, notion—“You’re better than you think you are,” he seemed to say to us. “Now act like it.”

Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as “our living, black manhood” and “our own black shining prince.” Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama. Progressives who always enjoyed Malcolm’s thundering denunciations more than his moral appeals are unimpressed by that message. But among blacks, Obama’s moral appeals are warmly received, not because the listeners believe racism has been defeated, but because cutting off your son’s PlayStation speaks to something deep and American in black people—a belief that, by their own hand, they can be made better, they can be made anew.

Barack Obama is no Malcolm X.   No one would argue that,    What else can’t be argued is Black people aren’t what they used to be either.

Tavis Talks Mo’ Trash

Tavis Talks Trash

The Tavis Smiley Update Desk has replaced the now closed Michael Steele Update Desk.  New subject, same old Negro Foolishness.

Every time I think I’m done with Tavis Smiley, he says or does something so ridiculous he forces me to address his garbage all over again.  This time he went on Sean “the Hater” Hannity’s show and dropped this little nugget.    “I respect the president, I will protect the president, but I will also correct the president when I think he’s wrong.”

Roll around in your head for a moment what kind of monumental egotism it requires to appoint yourself as the President of the United States personal instructor where you can CORRECT him when YOU think he’s wrong.

Smiley’s vendetta against Obama goes back to 2008 when he was backing Hillary Clinton.  Nothing wrong with that.  Clinton had a lot of Black support and with good cause.   But the election is long over and Smiley still can not and will not let it go.

No matter what causes he champions or injustices he rails against, Smiley always finds a way to bring it back to one central point: “Obama ain’t shit.”   What makes it worse is Tavis refuses to acknowledge that is his message.

Here’s a dude who went on C-SPAN and bitched, “Once he got elected and my critique of him about holding him accountable to various things didn’t sit so well with him or the people around him, he has not at this point come on my TV or radio programs one time since he’s been in the White House. This is the first president in my professional career that hasn’t invited me to the White House.”

But Smiley turned around to The Grio and said, “I have never leveled a personal criticism of the president.  My job has always been to hold presidents accountable to the best interest of all Americans but specifically and unapologetically for [African-Americans] .”

How did Tavis get the job holding presidents “accountable” (his favorite word) and who hired him?  It wasn’t me.  Was it you?

Smiley cast his lot with Hillary Clinton in 2008 and he’s still crushing on her.  His first primetime special for PBS featured an interview with Clinton after she became Secretary of State.  One reason for Smiley has publicly grumbled that Obama has not invited him to the White House,   Perhaps he figured he’d be sleeping overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom if Hillary had won.

Holding hands and making all kinds of plans

Tavis trotted this “ree-spect, pro-tect and kee-rect” line out on Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, but Kennedy wasn’t having any of it as Les Payne wrote in The Root.  His Obama Derangement Syndrome is so intense when he says he’s been friends with Obama for 15 years and he’s never made a personal criticism of him, he genuinely seems to believe it.   It’s as if the incident with his blatant disrespect of Michelle Obama never happened at all.

Smiley is so lost in his hatred and jealousy of Obama he’s created his own separate reality where he’s the crusading advocacy journalist and the president is the soulless sell-out whom he must expose.   Tavis has wagered his popularity among Black Americans against that of President Obama and that’s no contest at all.

The best takedown of Tavis came not from me or any other cultural critic tired of him running his mouth, but from someone who helped him rise to prominence, Tom Joyner.  Joyner penned a devastating critique on Black America Web following TIME columnist and MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin disrespecting the president calling him “a dick.”   Joyner said he had no expectation of Halperin, but Smiley and his sidekick, Cornel West had let him down.

“…I’m even more disgusted with Smiley and West, two brothers who I did have expectations of – and thought I knew. These two have done much worse than what Halperin has done because they set the tone for it, opened the door to it, and must take much of the blame for creating a climate that would make a white, professional journalist feel comfortable verbally and vulgarly attacking the first black president of the United States.”
When you think you know a person, when you’ve given a person a forum to present his views, when you’ve had a hand in a person’s success, you want to believe that he is the same person he always was.

Remember THAT Tavis – the one who could take any complicated political story that had an impact on black America and “break it down” for us every Tuesday and Thursday in less than five minutes. The one who coined the phrase “radio advocacy” and alerted us any time anyone – from a private business owner to a politician to a corporate giant – even thought about doing black folks wrong. The Tavis that loved black people so much that he would sometimes, during his commentaries, be moved to tears. Where is that guy? You know, the guy that would have been telling me, “Fly Jock, Halperin has got to go.” For a while, I thought he was still with us, even though people around me (and many of you) tried to convince me otherwise. “Tavis is a hater.” “Tavis is only about himself.” “Tavis is jealous of the president.” I wouldn’t believe any of it. I had so much respect for him before his primary goal became selling books, and, later, selling out.

So, yes, MSNBC, fire Mark Halperin. I hope he never works again. I’ve already fired Tavis and Cornel. There’s nothing either can ever do for me or with me again.  I’ve got a new D-word for the two of them: Done

Smiley is an ass.   Every day that goes by he becomes just a little less relevant and a lot smaller than the day before.    His egotism knows no bounds.  He has no humility.   He’s petty and vindictive.

I am grateful to Smiley for one thing.  I no longer read or buy his books.  I no longer watch his television shows. Taking Tavis Smiley out of my private time has saved me plenty of it.   Now if he would only shut up for a while I could banish him from my blog as well.

A message from the First Lady to Smiley the Saboteur

“Dear Brother Cornel and Tavis…”

Brothers workin' it out--for themselves.

I admire the way you two have worked that “Obama ain’t done nuthin'” riff you’ve been pounding for three years now.  You do a real fine job of laying out the case that voting for Barry was the worst move Black folk could have made in 2008.

What you haven’t done is make a case how things would have been so much better if John McCain and his dumb as a bag of rusty nails running mate had won instead.   Guess they would have jumped right on that Black unemployment thang, right?   Right?

But I got a question for you my dear brother Cornel and my less dear brother Tavis.

Why haven’t you two come up with a practical, workable, politically doable PLAN.  Like say–oh, I don’t know–how to go about electing a few more Blacks as state governors?  Or maybe putting at least ONE-non Illinois Black man or woman in the U.S. Senate.   How about demanding the Democrats in the House push aside confirmed losers like Nancy Pelosi for a savvy winner like James Clyburn?   Maybe even pick a few more genuine Progressives to Congress and a lot fewer Reagan Democrats?

I know two smart Black men can do more than gripe about what Obama ain’t done.  Couldn’t you come up with some feasible plans, some savvy strategies, and long-term goals that can be implemented even if Obama isn’t reelected next year?   Something?  Anything?

Smiley is on a holy mission against Obama.

Nah.  Not going to happen.  What we will get from Prof. West and Mr. Smiley is another year and a half of “Obama ain’t done nuthin'” whining, moaning and griping because that’s so much easier than coming up with genuine strategies to expand and maximize Black political power.  Empty rhetoric is a lot easier than rolled-up sleeves, knocking on doors, registering voters, supporting candidates of our own choosing and building rather than bitching.

So now you two are about to embark on a tour of 15 towns to highlight the issue of poverty in the U.S.    You guys say the poor have been forgotten.  I agree.  I would add that the jobless millions of Americans have been forgotten by both parties in Washington too.

This seems like a worthy mission for you two.  But why do I have the sneaking suspicion you guy are just opening up the newest front in your ongoing war to tear Obama a new hole?

Wait, wait…don’t tell me.  I bet you’re going to tell me what the move for 2012 should be.  Does it have something to do with telling Obama to come correct to your “don’t have one yet but that Black Agenda will be ready any minute now”  demands or you’re going to tell Black folks to stay home next November and let the Republicans waltz back into the White House?

In an interview in the NY Times Sunday magazine West gave no sign his Cold War against the president is ending anytime soon.

So let me ask you: in 2007, you introduced Barack Obama as your “brother, companion and comrade.” But in May, you referred to him as “the black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs” and the “head of the American killing machine.” What in the world happened?

It was a cry from the heart. What happened was that greed at the top has squeezed so much of the juices of the body politic. Poor people and working people have not been a fundamental focus of the Obama administration. That for me is not just a disappointment but a kind of betrayal.

But you have also acknowledged that this is more than just political — you’ve said that after campaigning for him at 65 events, you were miffed that he didn’t return your phone calls or say thank you.

I think he had to keep me at a distance. There’s no doubt that he didn’t want to be identified with a black leftist. But we’re talking about one phone call, man. That’s all. One private phone call.

My Root colleague Jack White described the West interview as “deep.”

What’s so “deep” Jack about West continuing to blubber like a lonely 16-year old schoolgirl on a Saturday night that Barack never calls anymore?

“But we’re talking about one phone call, man. That’s all. One private phone call.”

West seems to be pretty damn needy for an acclaimed public intellectual. Why’s he so insecure? Will everything be sweetness and light if Dear Brother Barack just breaks off a call to Dear Brother Cornel and say, “Hey man, I’ve been reeeaaal busy, but you know you my boy, right?

West and Smiley claim they bash Obama because they want to help him become a better president.  Some doubt that’s all they’re trying to do.

Not many believe that Smiley’s criticism comes from a place of love, though, and I don’t blame them, since he also complains about not being invited to the White House. West looks equally shady when he damns the president because he couldn’t get a hookup on extra tickets for the inauguration.

Let’s not forget to separate the personalities and their petty little beefs from disagreements with the policies. The latter is worthwhile and legitimate, the former is petty and illegitimate.

Nobody ever said President Obama was above criticism. It’s simply wise to understand what is really motivating the critics.   Motives ALWAYS matter. Yours, mine and certainly Mr. West and Mr. Smiley’s motives.

If your criticism is coming from a sincere philosophical, practical or political place it deserves to be taken seriously. But if your criticism is based upon ego, envy, anger or irrationality, it deserves to be dismissed.

Tavis and Cornel are two egomaniacs whose criticism of the president is based upon their own private blind spots and not some wish to help Obama be a better president.

By the way, isn’t Dr. West also Professor West? I just saw him in Philadelphia a few weeks ago at the NABJ convention and he’s always on television somewhere.  Doesn’t he have a class he should be teaching?

You will never see a repeat of this.

Just don’t tell me you’re doing a thing to preserve, protect, defend and advance the interests of African-Americans.  You are not.

Seriously, you aren’t.

The Black Elitists vs the Black President

See? He's eating greens. That PROVES Obama is Black!

“I can’t pass laws that say I’m just helping black folks. I’m the president of the United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That in turn is going to help lift up the African-American community.”

~ President Barack Obama

The day after formally announcing he was running for a second term, President Obama traveled to New York City to speak at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention and both parties benefit from the association.   Obama gets to show his concern for issues of particular interest to African-Americans and Sharpton gets to rub shoulders with the President of the United States and gets to stand a bit taller among the ranks of unelected Black leadership.

Of course that didn’t go down well with some of Obama’s critics/haters.  Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are rapidly becoming the Cheech and Chong of angry Negro “intellectuals” and their latest comedy act takes both Obama and Sharpton to task.

Smiley: The President knows his base in Black America is shaky. You can’t play that history card more than one time.

West: Sharpton is wrong to provide cover to Obama given the level of Black suffering and misery.

I get why Tavis has a bug up his nose about Obama.  He got mad when Obama wouldn’t come off the campaign trail to show up for the 2008 State of the Black Union pajama party.  Then he got irked when Obama offered to send Michelle instead and just generally showed his ass about it.   He griped how the president did an interview with Bill O’Reilly during Super Bowl Sunday, but not one with him.  (Maybe blowing off the guy about to be president’s wife wasn’t the smartest thing you could have done, Tavis)  Then there’s the displeasing fact Smiley wrote a Obama-bashing book Accountable that flopped hard because people weren’t hearing that noise.

The rise of Obama’s star has come at the price of Smiley’s falling. Tavis has not taken the change in popularity well.  His jealousy and wounded ego means his opinion of the president’s job performance is completely tainted.   Smiley’s criticism of Obama are about as valid as what could be expected from Rush Limbaugh.

Dr. West’s problem with Obama is he has to back his boy, Tavis and that’s understandable.   Loyalty is a beautiful thing.  But the way the good doctor ignores the harsh realities and problems President Obama has had to face and the entrenched and sustained racism from the Republican Party, the right-wing media machine, billionaires like the Koch Bros. and their Tea Party foot soldiers assembled against the president’s agenda undercuts West’s credibility as a political commentator.

Or maybe Obama said something nasty about the good doctor’s acting in The Matrix Reloaded?

Maybe intellectuals such as West envisioned a bigger role as an adviser to Obama and when they weren’t invited into the tent he decided to take a giant leak on it instead.  There might be a deeper, more complex and complicated reason, but the mundane, petty and trivial reasons can’t always be dismissed.

What’s next for “Cheech” Smiley and “Chong” West?   Going the birther route and hoping Donald Trump scratches them a check?

Two crabs thinking up ways to pull Obama back into the barrel.