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Cornel West Calls Out Barack Obama

Posted on Jan 24, 2010

In this video message to the president, the celebrated professor asks, “How deep is your love for poor and working people?” and urges, “Don’t simply be the friendly face of the American empire.”

(having trouble with the above video? Try this link)


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By ofersince72, January 28, 2010 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

Just a little off topic but related,, the 2006
elections were really a public mandate to quit right
now both of the resource wars.
NO one expected the Dems to take control of the House
and virtually tie the Senate,, no one!!!!!!

The American Public forgets yesterday before
yesterday even arrives.  Probably lots of reasons why
but having a cell phone stuck to your face most the
time sure doesn’t help this memory loss.

Pelosi and Reid used all sorts of lame exuses for
caving at every Republican whim. Mostly all was needed was to say the word…...THE WORD..THE T WORD.
Didn’t stop the public from demanding these lawmakers
to do just what they had asked and elected them for.
Still, Pelosi and Reid found ways to ingore the
electorate.  They started using the old 60 vote excuse.  I never have understood why Republicans have
always only needed 51 votes and the Dems 60 votes.
Still beats the hell out of me.
So not only did the electorate give them that, but
the presidency also with the same damn mandates.
It sure isn’t JUST Oh!?Bama’s fault.

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By ofersince72, January 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

It really didn’t take Monday morning quarterqacking

I actually watched the funny show, C-span, the most boring
watch in video for two straight years almost 24/7,
from after the 2006 electiond until 2008 elections.
I know, needed to get a life, spare me that remark
please, I am not at all proud of this.

But it sure was fun sometimes…..Like watching
David Obey or Shirley Jackson Lee….make the most
eloquent pleas for peace,  call the pres. and his
policies criminal….Then two minutes later vote to
fund what they had just spoken against for last two
Obama up in the Senate, (when he was there) pretty
much the same thing.  His voting record mediocre at
best.  So as soon as his campaign office opened I
began to ask questions that they could not or would
not answer…and never did.
Then he topped it by participating in the Iowa caucas
that he knew the AARP and the DNC had rigged as far]
as I am concerned…..Kucinach had just as much
right as a viable candidate as Biden or Dodd that
were invited.
You going to try to tell me that West and the rest
didn’t check his credentials?

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screamingpalm's avatar

By screamingpalm, January 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

By RubberPimple, January 27 at 1:02 pm #

And I love
how everyone who writes in these comments is SO clever, so prescient. They all
saw Obama for what he was before the election. Spare me. It’s all a bunch of
Monday morning quarterbacking.

Perhaps you should try using the search function and you will see that even before the elections that many here DID INDEED “see Obama for what he was”. Despite getting slammed by loyalists such as yourself. “Give him a chance”, “too early to tell” they would say, while Obama was filling his administration with conservatives, Clintonites, Blue Dogs, and Corporacrats. Truthdig members decrying his rhetoric of “change” while blind to the enormous amounts of special interest money fueling his campaign. Perhaps they thought that when his head was down in that pig bin, he was doing it for the greater good.

Or you can continue on in your state of denial about “hope and change”.

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By Artie, January 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Anick You are obviously out of the loop regarding presidential candidates.  Ron Paul was the man for the job.  But, alas, he is not electable.  Why not?  Because he has ideas that run counter to the New World Order elitist’s who actually control our govt and major media outlets.  Obama is a CFR member. Both candidates, as a matter of fact, are CHOSEN by the NWO.  So, no matter who wins the election, they got one of their own in office.  All president’s after JFK were, most likely, herded into a screening room to watch the Zapruder film of Kennedy’s assassination and, then told, you will follow our orders or you will end up like JFK

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By drkaza12, January 27, 2010 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

writeon; if you’ve followed Cornell West at all you’d know that Mr. West calls every one brother and sister. This malarkey about inverted racism in this case is miss guided, but why you chose to go there so Ill informed raises a question as to your motive. Unfortunately a lot of us suffer from calcified ideas, and can’t distend beyond seeing the world as we choose to believe it, even if it limits our capacity for a clear vision.

My Brother this isn’t a case of affirmative action by a bunch of black people voting for a guy just because he showed up on the radar. What I and a lot of people forget is politics is war to some politician, and that some are taking no names or prisoners, and whatever is left in their wake is merely collateral damage. The footprint they leave is for some other schmuck to fill. While Obama for a lot of us wasn’t the best candidate, he was the one who appeared sincerely concerned with doing the least amount of damage while in office, unlike McCane who wanted John Bolton—a living disaster—for Secretary of State.

Up until d-day my friend as a Blackman I must confess John Edwards was my favorite candidate

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By anick, January 27, 2010 at 9:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)



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By RubberPimple, January 27, 2010 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

@ ofersince72:

I wasn’t talking about the SCOTUS, I was talking about the POTUS. And I love
how everyone who writes in these comments is SO clever, so prescient. They all
saw Obama for what he was before the election. Spare me. It’s all a bunch of
Monday morning quarterbacking.

And what of Mr. West’s endorsements? Given the candidates in general, and the
promise of Obama in particular, why wouldn’t someone like Cornell lend his
support? Again, you cannot claim that anyone saw the present state of affairs
coming before the election.

Everyone just loves to jump to conclusions, to take the knee-jerk response to
events. Try considering the long view for a change. Did you really expect
everything to change in just one year? Has Obama not been obstructed not only
by unfolding reality but also by a bitter opposition party that defines itself in
opposition to him? Would you do any better in his situation?

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By ofersince72, January 27, 2010 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Should we walk the same mile for the man on the
supreme court?  Anyway, my let down is not at Oh!Bama
I believe any voter that digs could have very well
have seen just what I did, that he was a corpocrat,

My let down was with the highly visable endorsements
he got from pundits such as West that have written
so much about social justice and American Imperialism

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By RubberPimple, January 27, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

@ writeon:

The symbolic importance of America electing its first black President simply
cannot be understated. This importance is EVERY BIT AS REAL as the indignity
and oppression levied on a race of people for hundreds of years because of the
color of their skin. Much of what you say is true. Skin color is superficial. Its
consequences, as demonstrated by our own sad history, are not.

On another point, if you seriously think that any human being is capable of
stepping into the unimaginable crucible of being the POTUS and simply remain
his or her “true self”, you truly have no sense of empathy. Even the greatest of
our presidents have required a period of adjustment. The historically dire
situation in which we currently find ourselves only makes the transition more
difficult. Obama may not turn out to be the savior many thought he might be,
but do try to walk a mile in his shoes instead of just sniping from the sidelines.

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By RubberPimple, January 27, 2010 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

@ John K:

I agree with the idea that Americans look for grand leaders, but find it highly
unlikely that we are the only ones guilty of this.

With respect to your argument about blogs and media, do the French and Israelis
not have media? blogs? radio? Your assertions are weak and unsubstantiated.

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By ofersince72, January 27, 2010 at 12:07 am Link to this comment

Commune115, he can’t stop, he endorsed Oh!Bama two
years before the general election.  This was a very
weak plea by Cornell West.
Cornell West knew this….
Oh!Bama planned to expand the military budget…
Oh!Bama planned on escalating war
Oh!Bama had a gimmick for a health care proposal that
      he refused to make public b4 the election.
He knew Oh!Bama was a corporate hack…
I was as pleased as anyone that voters rose above race and elected a black candidate….
CORNELL WEST…chose the wrong one..Cynthia
spoke of the poor citizen…

So I find this video a very weak response to
the president’s AUDACITY.

I do agree commune115, we are beyond any political

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, January 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

Yawn, stop it Truthdig with the Obama-bashing.

Lets focus on mobilizing the Left!!

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By Alex Brant-Zawadzki, January 26, 2010 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All due respect (and quite a bit of it);

With regards to Cesar Chavez

His mother called him say-ZAHR sha-VEZ, not Seezer

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By Artie, January 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes Mr.President, Your first step is to put to Congress a measure to repeal the 16th amendment to the Constitution because it was never RATIFIED.  Therefore, it is NOT LAW. Once done, you can close the FED and the IRS and put the job of currency making back in the hands of the government,as mandated in our Constitution.  Then, once you have done this, you can kick the New World Order elitest’s butts out of our country.  But of course, Mr. President, the first thing, above all is to resign your membership to the CFR.

WE THE PEOPLE demand these actions to be put into place.  And you, Mr. President, have a responsibility to answer to WE THE PEOPLE of this country.  Make our country free again.  You have the power to bring about change that will leave you a historical legacy in the history of this once great nation.  I urge you, do not overthink these demands of WE THE PEOPLE, just act accordingly and the rest will fall into place.  You may have noticed that, nowhere in this letter have i mentioned the word PLEASE!!!  That is because we are not ASKING you to do this, we are DEMANDING you to do the will of WE THE PEOPLE.  Thank you for your time.

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By stonemaster, January 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s pretty basic and although Mr West points out the obvious, he unexpectedly show us the real problem.  It is race. look at the approval ratings among blacks. 97% and why ? Because of color, it sure aint about policy.  He has stabbed the progressive movement in the back and is doing the same to the African-American community but they are not pissed. Why SKIN COLOR it aint heritage Obamas ancestors were never slaves. The elite never gets it and never will.  Woo Woo we got the first mixed race president and all the intellectual brothers are so lame for not calling him out. Mr West fails at really cutting to the chase. He’s too easy and gentle. NO WE CANT.

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By jonathonk99, January 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

How many videos can you post?  How many letters can you write to the
President before you realize he ain’t listening?  Commune 115 is right.  It’s clear
that even before Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission we were
doomed if we were to keep depending on lawmakers to create Change.  The
fact of the matter, environmentally speaking, is we don’t have time to wait.  Big
Oil will keep us at War FOREVER and spending trillions on that and sucking up
every last bit of petroleum there is.  According to scientists we only have a 2-
year time limit to fix the climate problem before it’s too late.  But all we will see
on television from now on will be that climate change doesn’t even exist.  The
matter is dire and fiercely urgent!!!

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By mrfreeze, January 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment

RE: Hammond Eggs comment

Eggs - One of the most brilliant statements I’ve read in days: To call the U.S. a “mercantile tyranny” is, simply the uber-truth of our reality. I believe most thinking Americans know that they no longer work to improve themselves (forget Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and all those inspirational bozos). Most know that “being the most productive workers in the world” amounts to nothing more than lining the pockets of the uber-wealthy. Really, what have we got to show for all the “productivity” of the last 30 years?
Lot’s of cheap stuff, lot’s of empty retail stores, lot’s of devalued property, lot’s of rotting cities, a crumbling infrastructure, schools that can’t teach (except team sports) and students that can’t learn. And yet, Americans hold on to the “we’re still the best country in the world” rallying cry…....Except that the rest of the world isn’t listening any more.

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By Filler Crowley, January 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

@Ken Hathaway

It’s been a rough couple of days friend, thanks for the laugh! Obama taking his orders from “leftwing nuts”! The Marx brothers couldn’t have crafted such a hilarious absurdity!

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By Ouroborus, January 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

I wonder how many more of Obama’s friends are speaking
out privately to him?

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By jj, January 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Can people please stop pleading with Obama? The man is not going to just wake
up one morning, shed his corporate skin and begin changing the entire American
system. ” - Commune115

Quoted for truth.

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By aw, January 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I feel that Cornel West is completely right. I know that the idea of our government system is not to put “faith” in one person. However, I do not feel that Obama is even trying to re-assure the public that he is really making an effort for poor and working class people. His platform for Healthcare is faulty and does not give working class/poor people a sense of security. I am working and I don’t have health insurance because of the way that beauracracy is set up I must work full time as a part-time employee for a year before I can obtain health insurance. I also have to figure out how to eat, pay off student loans and secure a job in a fledgling economy. While, he runs overseas every five seconds in an “attempt” to have foreign support. Although, I don’t understand why he is focusing on foreign affairs when his domestic affairs are in a complete and utter state of chaos. We are steadily sending troops to die when we have no reason for them to die in the first place.
So, I too ask, “where is your love for the poor and working class?” Oh dear Mr. President!

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By Ken Hathaway, January 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Crawl back under your rock Mr. West.  BO will do what his bosses tell him to do.  Since they are leftwing nuts like yourself what are you whining about!!!

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By Hammond Eggs, January 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

One of the less publicized reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union was that the vast majority of the population simply had no belief and no regard whatsoever for the Soviet government and system. The high rates of alcoholism and suicide were a manifestation of that.  There was a popular saying among the Soviet people: “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.”  That is exactly what is happening in the United States today.  As we descend further and further into mercantile tyranny, as the people of this country continue to be grandly screwed over by both political parties yet refuse to get rid of them, going back and forth between one and the other, hoping for some kind of rescue that will never come, the apathy and hopelessness will corrode every aspect of national life until finally it just collapses of its own dead weight.

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By HollyH, January 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with both John K. and Commune115 -
My stance has been that our government is so inbred (with regards to power)and corrupt, and so lodged in procedure and regulations (having worked as a FED myself for almost 4 years), that there are only 2 options:

1) The NICE option: elect Dennis Kucinich who is a true blue leader for total change, people’s rights, real healthcare, real jobs…

2) the OTHER option: total civil disobedience in a nonviolent manner - because that’s the only way we can have a revolution in this militaristic, fascist country of ours! 
EVEN though Jefferson stated at the beginning that we must be able to revolt against our government, if we did so now we would be killed, gassed and incarcerated. 
We have no real freedom here, still, and hover under this ‘walmart’ illusion of an American dream.

Until EVERYONE wakes up and stops pointing an apathetic finger at the ‘leaders’ up thar in Capitol Hill, we will NOT have change, and our children’s children will be in a worse country then any other.

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By samosamo, January 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Kent State
Bonus Army

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By elwoodpdowd, January 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“In case you haven’t noticed the army and marines have
better weapons than any of the rest of us do.  History
has shown us clearly that American soldiers will fire
on American citizens when ordered to do so. “

Yeah. And especially the collection of morons and nitwits in uniform today.

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By carlinnyc, January 25, 2010 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

To Commune115. What does male genitalia have to do with this issue?

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By samosamo, January 25, 2010 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

This is a too politically correct country that is drugged by a
seemingly unstoppable ‘ministry of truth’ that works 24/7 to
keep it that way.

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By leftyrite, January 25, 2010 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

This essay by Dr. West made my day. Well composed, well delivered, and much more importantly, well within the bounds of righteousness and dignity.

Hear it, Mr. President.

Hear it.

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By Vic Anderson, January 25, 2010 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Shout out to the Lout, indeed!

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 25, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wall st trying to turn the tables on Obama, making him
to blame:
This is their thanks for giving them everything they
wanted.  When will he wake up?

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 25, 2010 at 8:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In case you haven’t noticed the army and marines have
better weapons than any of the rest of us do.  History
has shown us clearly that American soldiers will fire
on American citizens when ordered to do so.

Report this

By John K, January 25, 2010 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

I friend from overseas pointed out something about how he sees Americans - we bow to authority and hierarchy. We get in line. Unlike the Israelis or the French, who are unafraid to get in the face of authority, we are eager for a “leader” to take us somewhere - to bestow upon us a better life. We think being “nice” is preferable to being authentically angry.  Is it any wonder that we voted for Obama?

Unfortunately, we are a nation of anonymous commentators screaming our anger and disgust as long as we don’t have to actually confront anyone. Our masters have figured out that if we spend our time listening to talk radio, reading angry blogs and consuming the lies that pass for our news media, we will not have the energy left for the real sustained effort needed to change our society.

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By writeon, January 25, 2010 at 1:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even before Obama was elected I was sceptical, realistic; not idealistic. Surely this is the correct stance when dealing with all politicians? They have to prove themselves worthy of support and trust.

What most concerned me was the form of “inverted racism” connected with Obama. The very idea that he was a kind of “black brother” and that this was a significant factor, and a reason to vote for him, simply appalled me. I don’t care or give a damn about the colour of his skin. How superficial a “quality” is that? What matters is what’s beneath that surface colour. What does Obama believe in? What are his ideas about society, the distribution of wealth and power, for example?

Surely to cut him some slack, because he’s “black” is a form of benign racism? Why should a blakc politician need to be given space and time?

Also, who cares about how articulate he is? Sure after Bush almost anyone would seem an improvement, but does any of that really matter? It’s it more important to listen to the meaning of his words, rather than their sound? Once again move beneath the surface and examine the substance.

I believe anyone who thinks that Obama is going to change and reveal his true progressive self, is in for a big, harsh, and tragic disappointment. What we’ve seen over the last twelve months, is Obama’s true self. The real man behind the campaign rhetoric and the carefully constructed persona. This, is as good as it gets.

Of course this is pessimistic evaluation, because it’s real. The reality of American democracy is far removed from the ritual and the myths. Real power in society does not reside in the White House. In fact the White House may well be the least powerful place in the country, at least when compared to real centres of power like; Wall Street, Madison Avenue, The Pentagon, The Federal Reserve.

The only way a president can hope to challenge or institute reforms, in opposition to these collosal centres of permanent power, is if he has the American people behind him as a counter-weight, or if it’s perceived that they are with him, like in the 1930’s. One has to mobilize the people, like in a real, healthy and functioning democracy, strange idea that, isn’t it? But Obama has done the exact opposite hasn’t he? Instead of mobilizing and using the great groundswell that lifted him to power, he’s demobilized them, cutting himself free from his powerbase.

He’s done this because he isn’t a progressive politician at all. He’s a conservative at heart. Sure he has some of the taints of a progressive, but, like so much else, it’s only on the surface. That’s why the Republicans have revived themselves so successfully. They have read Obama better than his own supporters. They can see he’s weak and lacks real substance, and they are exploiting it for everyone to see. At the rate Obama’s going Sarah Palin could well become the first woman president of the United States.

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By Commune115, January 25, 2010 at 12:43 am Link to this comment

Can people please stop pleading with Obama? The man is not going to just wake up one morning, shed his corporate skin and begin changing the entire American system. You want real change? Call for a real, all balls REVOLUTION.

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