This section of DiscoverTheNetworks.org documents how Barack Obama has based his career on fomenting group-based resentments and thereby energizing his political base. "Hope and change" has, in practice, all too often become "divide and conquer." Obama's propensity to pit populations and “interests” against each other in this manner is an outgrowth of the socialist worldview that sees all human interactions in terms of "class struggles." The divisions that Obama seeks to promote, as the following material shows, are not only those of class, but also of race, ethnicity, and sex.
* Go to: DIVIDING BY CLASS
* Go to: DIVIDING BY RACE / ETHNICITY
* Go to: DIVIDING BY SEX
I) DIVIDING BY CLASS:
Obama the Chicago Community Organizer: From the mid- to late 1980s, Barack Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago. Thomas Sowell, the eminent Hoover Institution Fellow, offers this concise explanation of what community organizers do:
“For 'community organizers' ... racial resentments are a stock in trade.... What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.”
Obama Uses Saul Alinsky Tactics to Foment Class Resentments: Three of Barack Obama's mentors in Chicago were trained at the Industrial Areas Foundation, founded by the famed godfather of community organizing, Saul Alinsky. In the Alinsky model, “organizing” is a euphemism for “revolution”—where the ultimate objective is the systematic acquisition of power by a purportedly oppressed segment of the population, and the radical transformation of America's social and economic structure. The goal is to foment enough public discontent, moral confusion, and outright chaos to spark the social upheaval that Marx and Engels predicted.â€¨
But Alinsky's brand of revolution is not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, overnight transformations of social institutions. As Richard Poe explains, “Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties.” Indeed, Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, unobtrusively gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to then introduce changes from those platforms. Obama himself taught workshops on the Alinsky method for several years.â€¨
- “The people of America live as they can. Many of them are pent up in one-room crumbling shacks and a few live in penthouses.… The Haves smell toilet water, the Have-Nots smell just plain toilet.”
- “[The community organizer] must first rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act.... [His function is] to agitate to the point of conflict [and] singl[e] out [precisely who is to blame for the] particular evil [that is the source of the people’s angst].... Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…. [T]here is no point to tactics unless one has a target upon which to center the attacks.”
Obama's Introduction to ACORN and Project Vote, Groups That Pit the Poor and Nonwhite Minorities Against the Rest of Society: In the early to mid-1990s, Obama worked with the (now defunct) community organization ACORN and its voter-mobilization arm, Project Vote. In 2003, Manhattan Institute scholar Sol Stern wrote that ACORN, professing a dedication to “the poor and powerless,” in fact “promotes a 1960s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism, central planning, victimology, and government handouts to the poor.” ACORN, Stern elaborated, organized people “to push for ever more government control of the economy” and to pursue “the ultra-Left’s familiar anti-capitalist redistributionism.”
Obama Emphasizes Inter-Group Conflict: In a 1995 interview, Obama said: “... [T]he truth of the matter is that many of the problems that Africa faces, whether it's poverty or political suppression or ethnic conflict is just as prominent there and can't all be blamed on the effects of colonialism. What it can be blamed on is some of the common factors that affect Bosnia or Los Angeles or all kinds of places on this earth, and that is the tendency for one group to try to suppress another group in the interest of power or greed or resources or what have you.”
Obama Scapegoats the “Top 5 Percent”: In a December 28, 1995 interview published in the Hyde Park Citizen newspaper, Obama explained his views on income inequality in the United States: “In an environment of scarcity, where the cost of living is rising, folks begin to get angry and bitter and look for scapegoats. Historically, instead of looking at the top 5% of this country that controls all the wealth, we turn towards each other, and the Republicans have added to the fire.”
In that same interview, Obama said that his perspective on the “top 5%” had been shaped by his experiences abroad: “It's about power. My travels made me sensitive to the plight of those without power and the issues of class and inequalities as it relates to wealth and power. Anytime you have been overseas in these so-called third world countries, one thing you see is the vast disparity of wealth of those who are part of power structure and those outside of it.”
Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Obama's Entry into Politics: In the mid-1990s, Obama decided to try his hand at electoral politics, setting his sights initially on a state senate seat in Illinois. He launched his political career in the home of two well-connected Chicagoans, longtime activists who would help the fledgling politician make important contacts and enlarge his public profile. These two allies were Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, lifelong Marxists who in the 1960s and '70s had been revolutionary leaders of the Weather Underground Organization, a domestic terror group that aspired to transform the U.S. into a Communist country. In 1974 Ayers and Dohrn co-authored a book that openly advocated “revolutionary war” as “the only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism”; called for “a revolutionary communist party ... to lead the struggle [to] seize power and build the new society”; and lauded socialism as the key to “the eradication of the social system based on profit.”
"I Actually Believe in Redistribution": At an October 19, 1998 conference at Loyola University, Barack Obama said: "There has been a systematic ... propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved.... The trick is, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot." At other points during his address, Obama stated that the “working poor” on welfare constituted a political voting bloc that could be harnessed to the advantage of Democrats. Specifically, he said that:
- “to the extent that we are doing research figuring out what kinds of government action would successfully make their [the working poor's] lives better, we are then putting together a potential majority coalition to move those agendas forward”;
- the "one good thing that comes out of [the welfare-reform bill of 1996] is that it essentially desegregates the welfare population,” merging urban blacks with “the working poor, which are the other people"; and
- such a coalition becomes "one batch of folks ... that is increasingly a majority population” whose policy needs would grow to encompass health care, job training, education, and a system where government would “provide effective child care.”
Obama Equates Conservatism with Greed, and Free Markets with "Social Darwinism": In a 2005 commencement address, Obama described the conservative philosophy of government as one that promises “to give everyone one big refund on their government, divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on.” “In Washington,” said Obama, “they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it, Social Darwinism, every man or woman for him or herself. It's a tempting idea, because it doesn't require much thought or ingenuity.”
The "Rich" Should Pay More Taxes: During a June 28, 2007 primary debate at Howard University, candidate Obama was asked, “Do you agree that the rich aren't paying their fair share of taxes?” He replied, “There’s no doubt that the tax system has been skewed. And the Bush tax cuts -- people didn’t need them, and they weren't even asking for them, and that’s why they need to be less, so that we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives.”â€¨â€¨
Calling for a Capital Gains Tax Hike: In an April 2008 Democratic primary debate, Obama was asked, by journalist Charlie Gibson, a question about his proposal to nearly double the capital gains tax (from 15 percent to 28 percent). Said Gibson: “… In each instance when the rate dropped [in the 1990s], revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the [capital gains] tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?”â€¨ Obama replied that he wished to raise the tax “for purposes of fairness.... [T]hose who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”
Higher Taxes for the Wealthy: In a September 2008 Fox News Channel interview, Obama pledged to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, while raising taxes on those who earn more than $250,000: “Teddy Roosevelt supported a progressive income tax…. If I am sitting pretty and you've got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can't, what's the big deal for me to say, I'm going to pay a little bit more? That is neighborliness.”
“Spread the Wealth Around”: At an October 2008 campaign appearance in Ohio, Obama was approached by a man named Joe Wurzelbacher (“Joe the Plumber”). Obama said that a tax increase on businesses like Wurzelbacher's was justified because it would enable the government to give tax breaks to people earning considerably less than $250,000. “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” said Obama.
“Fat-Cat Bankers”: During a December 2009 interview broadcast on CBS' 60 Minutes, Obama said: “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.”
“At Some Point, You've Made Enough Money”: On April 28, 2010, President Obama was in Illinois making a speech about a proposed Wall Street reform bill. He criticized Wall Street lobbyists for trying to dilute the bill's most stringent provisions, saying: “We're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money, but you know, part of the American way is, you can just keep on making it if you're providing a good product or you're providing a good service.”
Obama Opposes Tax Cuts for Top Earners: On September 8, 2010, the Associated Press reported: "President Barack Obama strongly defended his opposition to extending Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans on Wednesday and delivered a searing attack on Republicans and their House leader for advocating 'the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place.' Obama said the struggling U.S. economy can’t afford to spend $700 billion to keep lower tax rates in place for the nation’s highest earners.... 'We should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer,' the president said. The administration 'is ready this week to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less,' he said.”
The "Rich" Should Pay More Taxes: In an April 13, 2011 speech on the topic of debt reduction, President Obama said: “In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That's who needs to pay less taxes?... There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
Obama Says the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement Reflects Americans' Frustrations: At an October 6, 2011 press conference, President Obama congratulated the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street activists for “express[ing] the frustrations that the American people feel … about how our financial system works”; for reminding him “what we are still fighting for”; for “inspir[ing]” him; and for being “the reason why I ran for this office in the first place.”
Obama Calls for Tax Hikes on High Earners: On June 29, 2011, President Obama called on Republicans to drop their opposition to tax increases, saying that because "everybody else" was sacrificing their "sacred cows" for deficit reduction, GOP lawmakers should be willing to follow suit. He made six mentions of eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets, suggesting that insufficient taxes on such jets had the effect of depriving student-loan funds or food-safety funds of their needed revenues.
Obama Again Calls for Tax Hikes on High Earners: At a July 11, 2011 press conference, President Obama said: "And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans."
Obama Speech on Economics and Taxes: On December 6, 2011, President Obama delivered a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, wherein he said the following:
- “Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments – wealthier than ever before. But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren't ...”
- The financial crisis of 2008 was caused by “the breathtaking greed” of “banks and investors” as well as “irresponsibility all across the system.”
- “We simply cannot return to this brand of 'you're on your own' economics if we're serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.... It results in a prosperity that's enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens.... In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 25% to $1.2 million per year.... The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more.... Now, this kind of inequality – a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression – hurts us all.”
- “We have to ask ourselves: Do we want to make the investments we need in things like education and research and high-tech manufacturing – all those things that helped make us an economic superpower? Or do we want to keep in place the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in our country? Because we can't afford to do both.”
- “Today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you, millions of middle-class families. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1%. One percent. That is the height of unfairness. It is wrong.”
Obama Speech on the Republicans' Proposed Budget: (April 3, 2012):
- “Can we succeed as a country where a shrinking number of people do exceedingly well, while a growing number struggle to get by?”
- “What drags down our entire economy is when there’s an ever-widening chasm between the ultra-rich and everybody else...”
- “... research has shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.”
- “Meanwhile, these [Republicans'] proposed tax breaks would come on top of more than a trillion dollars in tax giveaways for people making more than $250,000 a year. That's an average of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in this country -- $150,000. Let's just step back for a second and look at what $150,000 pays for: A year's worth of prescription drug coverage for a senior citizen. Plus a new school computer lab. Plus a year of medical care for a returning veteran. Plus a medical research grant for a chronic disease. Plus a year's salary for a firefighter or police officer. Plus a tax credit to make a year of college more affordable. Plus a year's worth of financial aid. One hundred fifty thousand dollars could pay for all of these things combined -- investments in education and research that are essential to economic growth that benefits all of us. For $150,000, that would be going to each millionaire and billionaire in this country.”
- “We're told that when the wealthy become even wealthier, and corporations are allowed to maximize their profits by whatever means necessary, it's good for America, and that their success will automatically translate into more jobs and prosperity for everybody else.”
- “At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans received a huge tax cut in 2001 and another huge tax cut in 2003. We were promised that these tax cuts would lead to faster job growth. They did not. The wealthy got wealthier -- we would expect that. The income of the top 1 percent has grown by more than 275 percent over the last few decades, to an average of $1.3 million a year. But prosperity sure didn't trickle down.”
- “You'd think they'd say, you know what, maybe some rules and regulations are necessary to protect the economy and prevent people from being taken advantage of by insurance companies or credit card companies or mortgage lenders. Maybe, just maybe, at a time of growing debt and widening inequality, we should hold off on giving the wealthiest Americans another round of big tax cuts.”
- “We also have a much different approach when it comes to taxes -- an approach that says if we're serious about paying down our debt, we can't afford to spend trillions more on tax cuts for folks like me, for wealthy Americans who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, and that the country cannot afford. At a time when the share of national income flowing to the top 1 percent of people in this country has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920s, those same folks are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years. As both I and Warren Buffett have pointed out many times now, he's paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. That is not fair. It is not right.”
- “Simple concept: If you make more than a million dollars a year -- not that you have a million dollars -- if you make more than a million dollars annually, then you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year -- like 98 percent of American families do -- then your taxes shouldn't go up. That's the proposal. Now, you'll hear some people point out that the Buffett Rule alone won't raise enough revenue to solve our deficit problems. Maybe not, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. And I intend to keep fighting for this kind of balance and fairness until the other side starts listening ...”
Obama Calls for “an America in Which Prosperity Is Shared”: On August 12, 2012, Obama advocated “a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared.”
“Everybody's Getting a Fair Share”: During the closing statement of his October 3, 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney, Obama said that he sought to create an America where “everybody's getting a fair shot, and everybody's getting a fair share.” He then quickly corrected himself: “everybody's doing a fair share, and everybody's playing by the same rules.”
Obama Gives an Indication That Taxes Will Ultimately Be Raised on most Americans, Not Just the Wealthy (though the latter will be targeted first): On December 6, 2012, Obama, calling for a tax hike on the top 2% of earners, said: "We’re going to have to strengthen our entitlement programs so that they’re there for future generations. Everybody is going to have to share in some sacrifice, but it starts with folks who are in the best position to sacrifice, who are in the best position to do a little bit more to step up."
“A Shrinking Few Do Very Well and a Growing Many Barely Make It”: During his second inaugural address as president on January 21, 2013, the newly re-elected Obama emphasized his belief that capitalist America had become a place of widespread inequity and injustice: “[O]ur country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it”; “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.”
Obama Says Republicans Only Care About Cutting Taxes for the Rich: In February 2013, President Obama told an audience of black broadcasters: "My sense is that their [Republicans'] basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations ... That's the thing that binds their party together at this point."
Obama Emphasizes Class Warfare: During his weekly address to the American people on February 23, 2013, Obama addressed the looming "sequestration" budget cuts that were scheduled to take effect in a few days:
- He said it was important to "close wasteful tax loopholes for the well-off and well-connected."
- "... Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising—instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans—they would rather let these [budget] cuts fall squarely on the middle class."
- "Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners? Are they really willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies? Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?
- "[M]y plan [has] got tough cuts, tough reforms, and asks more of the wealthiest Americans."
Obama Says "The Wealthiest and Most Powerful" Are Not Paying Enough in Taxes: On February 28, 2013, Obama stated that America cannot "just cut our way to prosperity" while "asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful."
Obama Seeks to Cap Americans' Tax-Sheltered Retirement Savings: In April 2013, President Obama unveiled his budget for fiscal 2014. This budget proposed, for the first time ever, to cap the amount of money Americans could save in tax-sheltered 401K retirement plans -- because some people were accumulating "substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving." Specifically, the president sought to "limit an individual's total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013."
Obama Tells College Grads that the Traditional U.S. Economic System Is Rigged Against Them: In his speech at Ohio State University's 2013 Commencement, Obama urged the graduates to "reject a country in which only a lucky few prosper," and where the "well-connected" get "special treatment that you don't get."
"Winner-Take-All Economy" and "Growing Inequality": On July 24, 2013, President Obama made the following remarks on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois:
- "Used to be that as companies did better, as profits went higher, workers also got a better deal.... [T]he income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, but the typical family's incomes barely budged. Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent. The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009."
- "[T]he trend of a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better while everybody else just treads water -- those trends have been made worse by the recession. And that's a problem."
- "This growing inequality not just of result, inequality of opportunity, this growing inequality -- it's not just morally wrong; it's bad economics ..."
- "It's time for the minimum wage to go up. We're not a people who allow chance of birth to decide life's biggest winners or losers."
Obama Speaks about America's Economic Injustice:
On August 28, 2013—the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech—Obama spoke about America's economic inequity and the role that government could play in curbing it via wealth redistribution:
“Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence....
“The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many …
“Entrenched interests—those who benefit from an unjust status quo resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools—that all these things violated sound economic principles.
“We'd be told that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy, a measure of the free market—that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.
“And then there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth, that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity—that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant....
“We can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations, where politics is a zero-sum game, where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie....
“And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on earth for every person. With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit and prepares them for the world that awaits them. With that courage, we can feed the hungry and house the homeless and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.”
Obama Calls for More Economic Equality and More Government Control of the Economy
In a December 4, 2013 speech on the U.S. economy, President Obama made the following remarks to his Center for American Progress audience:
- "[I]n their own daily battles, to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement, [people have] the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them."
- "[There] is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. That’s why I ran for president. It was the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office."
- "When millions lived in poverty, FDR fought for Social Security and insurance for the unemployment and a minimum wage. When millions died without health insurance, LBJ fought for Medicare and Medicaid. Together we forged a new deal, declared a war on poverty and a great society, we built a ladder of opportunity to climb and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn’t be too far and we could bounce back. And as a result, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known."
- "[S]tarting in the late '70s ... [t]echnology made it easier for companies to do more with less, eliminating certain job occupations. A more competitive world led companies [to] ship jobs [overseas]. And as good manufacturing jobs automated or headed offshore, workers lost their leverage; jobs paid less and offered fewer benefits.... [B]usinesses lobbied Washington to weaken unions and the value of the minimum wage. As the trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest while investments in things that make us all richer, like schools and infrastructure, were allowed to wither."
- "And the result is an economy that’s become profoundly unequal and families that are more insecure.... Since 1979 our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of the growth has flowed to a fortunate few. The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income; it now takes half. Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more. And meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country. So the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed. In fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to America’s market economy; across the developed world, inequality has increased.... But this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country, and it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people."
- "The problem is that alongside increased inequality, we’ve seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. A child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top. A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top. He’s 10 times likelier to stay where he is. In fact, statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries like Jamaica and Argentina, but that it is harder today for a child born here in America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies, countries like Canada or Germany or France. They have greater mobility than we do, not less."
- "[T]he idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that views her future as their own -- that should offend all of us. And it should compel us to action."
- "And greater inequality is associated with less mobility between generations. That means it’s not just temporary. The effects last. It creates a vicious cycle. For example, by the time she turns three years old, a child born into a low-income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family, which means by the time she starts school, she’s already behind. And that deficit can compound itself over time."
- "The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race. And that gap is growing. So if we’re going to take on growing inequality and try to improve upward mobility for all people, we’ve got to move beyond the false notion that this is an issue exclusively of minority concern. And we have to reject a politics that suggests any effort to address it in a meaningful way somehow pits the interests of a deserving middle class against those of an undeserving poor in search of handouts."
- "[W]e need to set aside the belief that government cannot do anything about reducing inequality.... Investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining and a minimum wage -- these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of Americans."
- "And [we should make] high-quality pre-school available to every child in America. We know that kids in these programs grow up are likelier to get more education, earn higher wages, form more stable families of their own. It starts a virtuous cycle, not a vicious one. And we should invest in that. We should give all of our children that chance."
- "Now, we all know the arguments that have been used against the higher minimum wage. Some say it actually hurts low- wage workers; business will be less likely to hire them. There’s no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage costs jobs, and research shows it raises incomes for low-wage workers and boosts short-term economic growth. Others argue that if we raise the minimum wage, companies will just pass those costs on to consumers, but a growing chorus of businesses small and large argue differently ... A broad majority of Americans agree we should raise the minimum wage.... I agree with those voters. I agree with those voters and I’m going to keep pushing until we get a higher minimum wage for hardworking Americans across the entire country."
- "[W]e still need targeted programs for the communities and workers that have been hit hardest by economic change in the Great Recession.... There are communities that just aren’t generating enough jobs anymore. So we’ve put new forward new plans to help these communities and their residents ... not [with] handouts, but a hand up."
Obama Derides "Tax Loopholes for the Very Very Fortunate"
During a White House speech on June 9, 2014, President Obama criticized congressional Republicans for refusing to close tax loopholes for high earners as a way to pay for his initiative to limit student-loan interest payments to 10% of a person's annual income. Said Obama:
"It would be scandalous if we allowed those kinds of tax loopholes for the very, very fortunate to survive while students are having trouble just getting started in their lives. If you're a big oil company they'll go to bat for you. If you're a student, good luck. Some of these Republicans in Congress seem to believe that just because some of the young people behind me [i.e., college students in attendance] need some help, that they're not trying hard enough."
Further, Obama blasted lawmakers who "pay lip service to the next generation and then abandon them when it counts." He also urged voters to be aware of "who it is that's fighting for you and your kids and who it is that's not."
Broadcaster Mark Levin pointed out Obama's hypocrisy by noting that America's national debt had already grown by approximately $7 trillion under Obama's watch -- a fact that would impose a massive financial burden on "the next generation" for many decades to come.
Obama Says Republicans Favor "Billionaires" over the "Middle Class"
In early October 2014, the Obama Administration disseminated a fundraising email wherein the president said: "If the Republicans win [the midterm elections], we know who they’ll be fighting for. Once again, the interests of billionaires will come before the needs of the middle class."
(Return to Top)
II) DIVIDING BY RACE/ETHNICITY:
Obama Characterizes America As “Mean-Spirited,” Where Race is Concerned: In an interview published by the Daily Herald on March 3, 1990, Harvard Law School student Barack Obama said: “There's certainly racism here [at Harvard Law School]. There are certain burdens that are placed [on blacks], more emotionally at this point than concretely.... Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we're going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous. I mean, I really hope to be part of a transformation of this country.”
Obama Supports Professor Derrick Bell at Harvard Law School: In 1991, Obama, who was then president of the Harvard Law Review and a well-known figure on the Harvard campus, spoke at a rally in support of Professor Derrick Bell. The godfather of Critical Race Theory, Bell was infamous for his anti-white views and his contention that America was an irredeemably racist country. At the rally in question, Obama encouraged his fellow students to “open up your hearts and minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell,” whom he described as someone who spoke “the truth.” For a comprehensive discussion of Bell's views regarding race, click here.
Obama's Relationship with Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ: For two decades, Jeremiah Wright was Obama's pastor in Chicago. Wright's many writings, public statements, and sermons reflect his conviction that America is a nation infested with racism, prejudice, and injustices that make life very difficult for black people. As he declared in one of his sermons: “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!... We [Americans] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.” For a comprehensive profile of Wright and his views on race, click here.
Obama Implies that Suburban Whites Are Racist: In a 1995 interview, Obama made reference to a hypothetical “white executive living out in the suburbs, who doesn't want to pay taxes to inner city children for them to go to school.”
Obama Accuses the Bush Administration of Racism and Racial Insensitivity: In September 2005, Senator Obama spoke at a town hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus. Nominally devoted to the subject of “eradicating poverty,” the meeting was replete with condemnations of President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, and America’s purportedly intractable racial inequities. Obama stopped short of suggesting that the allegedly slow federal response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina (which had devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast earlier that month) -- especially black victims -- was motivated by racism. But he nonetheless claimed that racism was the cause of what he perceived to be the Bush administration’s lack of sensitivity to the struggles of African Americans generally:
“The incompetence was colorblind. What wasn’t colorblind was the indifference. Human efforts will always pale in comparison to nature’s forces. But [the Bush administration] is a set of folks who simply don’t recognize what’s happening in large parts of the country.”
Blacks in hurricane-hit areas were poor, Obama further charged, because of the Bush administration’s “decision to give tax breaks to Paris Hilton instead of providing child care and education …”
Obama Endorses Dorothy Tillman, Proponent of Reparations and Admirer of Louis Farrakhan: In 2006, Senator Obama endorsed candidate Dorothy Tillman in the Third Ward race for the Chicago City Council. A passionate admirer of Louis Farrakhan, Tillman was a leading proponent of reparations for slavery. Claiming that America remains “one of the cruelest nations in the world when it comes to black folks,” Tillman continues to declare that the U.S. “owes blacks a debt.”
2007 Speech to the National Council of La Raza: In July 2007, presidential candidate Obama was a featured speaker at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, which lobbies for racial preferences, mass immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens. Among his remarks were the following:
- “I will never walk away from the 12 million undocumented immigrants who live, work, and contribute to our country every single day.â€¨
- “[W]e are a nation of immigrants … That's the America we believe in.â€¨But that's the America that the President and too many Republicans walked away from when the politics got tough.... [W]e saw parts of the immigration debate took a turn that was both ugly and racist in a way we haven't seen since the struggle for civil rights....”
- “We don't expect our government to guarantee success and happiness, but when millions of children start the race of life so far behind only because of race, only because of class, that's a betrayal of our ideals. That's not just a Latino problem or an African-American problem; that is an American problem that we have to solve....”
2008 Speech to the National Council of La Raza: In July 2008, candidate Obama again spoke to the National Council of La Raza. Among his remarks were the following:
- “I honor you, I congratulate you, I thank you, and I wish you another forty years as extraordinary as your last ...”
- “The system isn't working when Hispanics are losing their jobs faster than almost anybody else, or working jobs that pay less, and come with fewer benefits than almost anybody else.”â€¨
- “The system isn't working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids -- when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel….”â€¨
- “[W]e'll make the system work again for everyone. By living up to the ideals that this organization has always embodied the ideals reflected in your name, ‘Raza,’ the people. [Actually, a literal translation is “the race.”] … And together, we won't just win an election; we will transform this nation.”
Inequities in the Criminal-Justice System: In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said: “The criminal-justice system is not color-blind. It does not work for all people equally, and that is why it's critical to have a president who sends a signal that we are going to have a system of justice that is not just us, but is everybody.”â€¨â€¨
More Inequities in the Criminal-Justice System: Also during the 2008 campaign, Obama said that “in our criminal-justice system, African-Americans and whites, for the same crime … are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, receive very different sentences.”
Accusing Republicans of Racism: At a June 2008 campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida, Obama suggested that his political opponents were trying to exploit the issue of race to undermine his candidacy. “It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy,” he said. “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”â€¨
The following month, Obama told his listeners at another campaign event: “They [Republicans] know that you’re not real happy with them and so the only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. What they’re saying is ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, he’s a got a funny name.’”
Reference to America's “Voiceless” and “Dispossessed” People: In 2008, Obama, as he had also done the year before, addressed Al Sharpton's National Action Network to seek its support for his presidential campaign. Calling Sharpton “a voice for the voiceless and ... dispossessed,” Obama stated: “What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.”
Reference to American Bigotry and Intolerance: During an April 2008 campaign stop in San Francisco, Obama said: “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years, and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Minority Education Expenditures: In the 2008 campaign, Obama said: “Latinos have such a high dropout rate. What you see consistently are children at a very early age are starting school already behind. That’s why I’ve said that I’m going to put billions of dollars into early childhood education that makes sure that our African-American youth, Latino youth, poor youth of every race, are getting the kind of help that they need so that they know their numbers, their colors, their letters.”
America's Mistreatment of Native Americans: Speaking at a July 2008 gathering of hundreds of minority journalists in Chicago, Obama said the United States should acknowledge its history of treating certain ethnic groups poorly: “There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for…. I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged…. I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”
Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court: In May 2009, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sotomayor formerly had been a board of directors member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and a member of the National Council of La Raza, two organizations that strongly emphasize identity politics. In the past, Sotomayor had spoken publicly about the role that affirmative action had played in her own educational background, and about her unwavering endorsement of affirmative action policies. Refuting the notion that judges should not permit personal traits to influence their legal decisions, Sotomayor had famously said: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
The Henry Louis Gates Affair: When Cambridge, Massachusetts police -- as a result of a misunderstanding -- arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct on July 16, 2009, Obama, without knowing all the facts of the case, said it was “fair to say” that the officers had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. Obama further said that the arrest played into what he called the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
Obama Calls for Support from "African Americans, Latinos, and Women": In late April 2010, President Obama narrated an ad calling on American voters to support Democrats in the upcoming November midterm elections. Said Obama in the ad: "It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again."
Obama Criticizes Arizona Immigration Law: President Obama said that a "misguided" Arizona law (which allowed police in the state to check the immigration status of criminal suspects) was an example of legislative "irresponsibility" that would “undermine basic notions of fairness,” and he ordered the Justice Department to find some way to challenge its standing. At an April 27, 2010 Iowa town hall meeting, Obama said: “You can imagine, if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona — your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state. But now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed. That’s something that could potentially happen. That’s not the right way to go.” On June 17, 2010, the Obama administration announced that it intended to sue the state of Arizona over the law.
Obama Criticizes Arizona Immigration Law in Meeting with Mexican President: On May 19, 2010, Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who blasted the controversial immigration law that had been recently passed in Arizona. Obama, during his own welcoming remarks to Calderon, called the Arizona law a "misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system."
Obama DOJ Ignores Civil Rights Cases with White Victims: On Election Day, November 4, 2008, New Black Panther Party members at a Philadelphia polling station intimidated white voters with racial slurs and threats of violence. â€¨On January 7, 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ) under President Bush filed criminal charges against those responsible. But in May 2009, the Obama Justice Department filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.â€¨In June 2010, J. Christian Adams, who had served in the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice for 5 years, resigned over the “corrupt nature of the dismissal of the case.” Wrote Adams in 2010: “Citizens would be shocked to learn about the open and pervasive hostility within the Justice Department to bringing civil rights cases against nonwhite defendants on behalf of white victims. Equal enforcement of justice is not a priority of this administration. Open contempt is voiced for these types of cases.” In July 2010, Adams gave damning public testimony about how Obama officials believe "civil rights law should not be enforced in a race-neutral manner, and should never be enforced against blacks or other national minorities."
More Evidence That DOJ Ignores Civil Rights Cases with White Victims: In September 2010, Christopher Coates, Voting Section Chief for the DOJ, corroborated the previous testimony of J. Christian Adams, stating that the Obama DOJ had routinely ignored civil rights cases involving white victims.
Obama DOJ Sues Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio: In September 2010, the Obama Justice Department sued Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his aggressive policies against illegal immigration.
Obama Urges Hispanic Voters to “Punish” Their “Enemies”: In a radio interview conducted a few days before the November 2010 midterm elections, President Obama urged Hispanic listeners to flock to the polls: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.” Obama said that Republicans who supported Arizona’s immigration law “aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.”
Obama Administration's Massive Support for the National Council of La Raza: A Judicial Watch investigation revealed that federal funding for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and its affiliates had skyrocketed since President Obama had appointed NCLR's senior vice president, Cecilia Muñoz, to be his director of intergovernmental affairs in 2009. The year Muñoz joined the White House, government funds earmarked for La Raza increased from $4.1 million to $11 million. Fully 60 percent of that money came from the Department of Labor, headed by Hilda Solis, who has close ties to the La Raza movement. Also in 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development gave NCLR $2.5 million for housing counseling, the Department of Education contributed almost $800,000, and the Centers for Disease Control gave approximately $250,000.
Obama Supports The DREAM Act: In November 2010, President Obama spoke out in favor of the DREAM Act, a proposed law that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal-alien high-school graduates in the U.S.
Obama Signs Bill Paying $1.15 Billion in Discrimination Compensation to Black Farmers: As the result of a 1999 decision on a class action suit known as Pigford v. Glickman, the federal government paid approximately $1 billion to 15,640 black farmers who claimed that the that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had discriminated against them by refusing to provide them with federally subsidized farm loans and benefits during the years 1981-96. In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama pushed to get another $100 million appropriated through that year's farm bill, to compensate black farmers who alleged USDA discrimination but had missed the 1999 filing deadline under the original Pigford case. “I am also pleased that the bill includes my proposal to help thousands of African-American farmers get their discrimination claims reviewed under the Pigford settlement,” said Obama.
Then, in early December 2010, President Obama signed the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, which awarded another $1.15 billion to 94,000 black farmers alleging USDA discrimination between 1981-96. When signing the bill, Obama lamented the “long and unfortunate chapter in our history” that it represented.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of black farmers in America between 1981 and 1996 peaked at 33,000 in 1982. More than 15,000 of those had already received settlements under Pigford I. The USDA predicted that about 3,000 of the remaining 18,000 black farmers would now come forward to file additional discrimination claims. Instead, the actual total was 94,000 people claiming to have been “victimized” by the USDA.
Obama USDA Awards $760 Million to Native American Farmers As Compensation for “Discrimination”: In October 2010, the Obama USDA settled the so-called Keepseagle case, agreeing to make $760 million available to Native American farmers and ranchers contending that they had not received the same farm loan opportunities as whites between 1981-99.
Obama USDA Offers Female and Hispanic farmers over $1.3 billion in “Discrimination” Payouts: On September 24, 2012, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who believed the USDA had discriminated against them between 1981 and 2000, could now file claims to get a portion of at least $1.33 billion in cash awards and tax relief payments, and up to $160 million in farm debt relief. Said Vilsack: “The opening of this claims process is part of USDA’s ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs of the past and ensure fair treatment to all current and future customers.” The USDA said it would use mail, media, and community advocacy groups to ensure that those eligible would be made aware of the claims process.
The Fraudulence of the Black, Native American, Hispanic, and Female Farmer "Discrimination Payouts Is Confirmed: On April 25, 2013, The New York Times reported the folowing:
In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.
In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.
Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, the Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.
But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost. They were wrong.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.
The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud....
The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.
From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.
Yet those concerns were played down as the compensation effort grew. Though the government has started requiring more evidence to support some claims, even now people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to $50,000 with little documentation.
As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.
The groups found a champion in the new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack. New settlements would provide “a way to neutralize the argument that the government favors black farmers over Hispanic, Native American or women farmers,” an internal department memorandum stated in March 2010.
The payouts pitted Mr. Vilsack and other political appointees against career lawyers and agency officials, who argued that the legal risks did not justify the costs.
Beyond that, they said it was legally questionable to sidestep Congress and compensate the Hispanic and female farmers out of a special Treasury Department account, known as the Judgment Fund. The fund is restricted to payments of court-approved judgments and settlements, as well as to out-of-court settlements in cases where the government faces imminent litigation that it could lose. Some officials argued that tapping the fund for the farmers set a bad precedent, since most had arguably never contemplated suing and might not have won if they had....
A 2010 settlement with Native Americans was contentious for its own reasons. Justice Department lawyers argued that the $760 million agreement far outstripped the potential cost of a defeat in court. Agriculture officials said not that many farmers would file claims.
That prediction proved prophetic. Only $300 million in claims were filed, leaving nearly $400 million in the control of plaintiffs’ lawyers to be distributed among a handful of nonprofit organizations serving Native American farmers. Two and a half years later, the groups have yet to be chosen. It is unclear how many even exist....
[Senior Justice Department officials] said the attorney general had broad discretion to settle litigation. “It was a priority for the administration to resolve the long-standing discrimination cases,” a senior official said, and give “farmers who believed they had been discriminated against a chance to seek redress.” ...
Farmers routinely borrow money to carry themselves from high-cost planting season to harvest time; lack of credit can lead to barren fields. The original lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, filed in federal court in Washington in August 1997, argued that the Agriculture Department’s credit bureau, now called the Farm Service Agency, routinely denied or limited loans to black farmers while freely distributing them to whites.
Two government reports that year found no evidence of ongoing, systemic discrimination. The Government Accountability Office reported that 16 percent of minority farmers were denied loans, compared with 10 percent of white farmers, but traced the difference to objective factors like bad credit. An Agriculture Department study also found “no consistent picture of disparity” over the previous two years.
But the study concluded that decades of discrimination before then had cost African-American farmers significant amounts of land and income. Black farmers gave heart-rending accounts of loan officers who withheld promised money while crops withered, who repossessed their land and sold it to white cronies, who advised them to milk cows for white farmers rather than sow their own crops.
Written discrimination complaints had fallen on deaf ears at the Agriculture Department, where the civil rights office had been disbanded during the Reagan administration.
John W. Boyd Jr., a Virginia farmer who leads the National Black Farmers Association, was among those who pressed President Bill Clinton to settle the case....
Just five months after the lawsuit was filed, and without the investigative step of discovery, the Justice Department opened settlement negotiations....
“[I]t was more a political decision than a litigation decision,” said one lawyer familiar with the administration’s stance. “The administration was genuinely sympathetic to the plight of these farmers.” ...
[Presiding Federal Judge Paul L. Friedman] initially limited the class of potential claimants to African-Americans who had farmed between 1981 and 1996 and had previously filed written discrimination complaints. But his final order significantly expanded the class, admitting those who had only “attempted to farm.” And it threw out the requirement for a written bias complaint, stating that an oral complaint was sufficient if someone other than a family member attested to it in an affidavit.
The Agriculture Department was partly to blame for the lack of records. It routinely discarded failed loan applications after three years, and it had badly mismanaged written discrimination complaints. Ninety percent of the farmers had no records either, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.
The billion-dollar settlement, the judge’s opinion said, was designed to provide “those class members with little or no documentary evidence with a virtually automatic cash payment of $50,000.” Those with documentary proof could seek higher awards, a tack ultimately chosen by fewer than 1 percent of applicants.
Justice Department lawyers worried about false claims. But the lawyer familiar with the Clinton administration’s stance said they had decided that “it was better to err on the side of giving money to people who might not qualify if they went through litigation than to deny money to people who actually deserve it.” ...
Accusations of unfair treatment could be checked against department files if claimants had previously received loans. But four-fifths of successful claimants had never done so. For them, “there was no way to refute what they said,” said Sandy Grammer, a former program analyst from Indiana who reviewed claims for three years. “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.”
The true dimensions of the problem are impossible to gauge. The Agriculture Department insists that the names and addresses of claimants are protected under privacy provisions. But department data released in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Times are telling. The data cover 15,601 African-Americans who filed successful claims and were paid before 2009.
In 16 ZIP codes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina, the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997, the year the lawsuit was filed. Those applicants received nearly $100 million.
In Maple Hill, a struggling town in southeastern North Carolina, the number of people paid was nearly four times the total number of farms. More than one in nine African-American adults there received checks. In Little Rock, Ark., a confidential list of payments shows, 10 members of one extended family collected a total of $500,000, and dozens of other successful claimants shared addresses, phone numbers or close family connections.
Thirty percent of all payments, totaling $290 million, went to predominantly urban counties — a phenomenon that supporters of the settlement say reflects black farmers’ migration during the 15 years covered by the lawsuit. Only 11 percent, or $107 million, went to what the Agriculture Department classifies as “completely rural” counties....
The claim period ended in late 1999, although the adjudication process dragged on for a dozen years. But the gusher of claims had only begun.
“Once those checks started hitting the mailboxes, people couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Wright, the Pine Bluff justice of the peace. “Then it dawned on them. ‘If Joe Blow got a check, I can get one.’” ...
Some 66,000 claims poured in after the 1999 deadline. Noting that the government had given “extensive” notice, Judge Friedman ruled the door closed to late filers. “That is simply how class actions work,” he wrote.
But it was not how politics worked. The next nine years brought a concerted effort to allow the late filers to seek awards. Career Agriculture Department officials warned that they might be even more problematic than initial claimants: in one ZIP code in Columbus, Ohio, nearly everyone in two adjoining apartment buildings had filed, according to the former high-ranking agency official.
President George W. Bush was unreceptive to farmers’ repeated protests. But Congress was not: legislators from both parties, including Mr. Obama as a senator in 2007, sponsored bills to grant the late filers relief.
Mr. Boyd said Mr. Obama’s support led him to throw the backing of his 109,000-member black farmers’ association behind the Obama presidential primary campaign. Hilary Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.’s chief lobbyist, said Mr. Obama’s stance helped establish him as a defender of the concerns of rural African-American communities.
Public criticism came primarily from conservative news outlets like Breitbart.com and from Congressional conservatives like Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who described the program as rife with fraud. Few Republicans or Democrats supported him. Asked why, Mr. King said, “Never underestimate the fear of being called a racist.”
Congress finally inserted a provision in the 2008 farm bill allowing late filers to bring new lawsuits, with their claims to be decided by the same standard of evidence as before. The bill also declared a sense of Congress that minority farmers’ bias claims and lawsuits should be quickly and justly resolved.
Congress overrode a veto by Mr. Bush, who objected to other provisions in the bill. But as Mr. Bush left Washington, Congress had appropriated only $100 million for compensation, hardly enough to pay for processing claims.
Within months of taking office, President Obama promised to seek an additional $1.15 billion. In November 2010, Congress approved the funds. To protect against fraud, legislators ordered the Government Accountability Office and the Agriculture Department’s inspector general to audit the payment process.
But simultaneously, the Agriculture Department abandoned the costly and burdensome review process it had applied to earlier claims. As a result, according to internal government memos, the percentage of successful claims is expected to exceed that in the original 1999 settlement. More than 40,000 claims have been filed and are under review.
In November, the G.A.O. concluded that antifraud provisions provided “reasonable assurance” of weeding out false claims, saying more than 3,100 suspicious applications had been identified. But as before, it noted, late filers need not document claims, leaving adjudicators to rely on assertions that they have “no way of independently verifying.” ...
The Bush Justice Department had rebuffed all efforts to settle the parallel discrimination suits brought by Native American, Hispanic and female farmers. But now, the Obama administration’s efforts to compensate African-American farmers intensified pressure from members of Congress and lobbyists to settle those cases as well.
Within the administration, Secretary Vilsack, a former Iowa governor who had briefly run for president, found an ally in Mr. West, who had been named an assistant attorney general after serving as a major Obama fund-raiser....
The Native-American case was clearly problematic for the government. The federal judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, had already certified the plaintiffs as a class, although only to seek changes in government practices and policies. He postponed a decision on whether they could seek monetary damages as a class.
But Justice Department litigators were far from unarmed. If they lost on damages, case law suggested that the decision might be reversed. Depositions had revealed many of the individual farmers’ complaints to be shaky. And federal judges had already scornfully rejected the methodology of the plaintiffs’ expert, a former Agriculture Department official named Patrick O’Brien, in the women’s case.
Mr. O’Brien contended that white farmers were two to three times as likely as Native Americans to receive federal farm loans in the 1980s and 1990s than were other farmers. But the government’s expert, Gordon C. Rausser, a professor of economics and statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, had produced a 340-page report stating that Mr. O’Brien’s conclusions were based “in a counter-factual world” and that Native Americans had generally fared as well as white male farmers.
Professor Rausser was astounded when, with both sides gearing up for trial in late 2009, the government began settlement negotiations. “If they had gone to trial, the government would have prevailed,” he said.
“It was just a joke,” he added. “I was so disgusted. It was simply buying the support of the Native-Americans.”
Agriculture officials predicted that only 5,300 Native Americans were likely to file claims. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, whose fees were to be based on a percentage of the settlement, estimated up to 19,000 claims.
Only 4,400 people filed claims, with 3,600 winning compensation at a cost of roughly $300 million. That left $460 million unspent — of which roughly $400 million under the terms of the settlement must be given to nonprofit groups that aid Native American farmers....
The remaining $60.8 million will go to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, led by the Washington firm Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll....
On Feb. 19, 2010, Alan Wiseman, a lawyer for the Hispanic farmers, strode into Federal District Court in Washington unusually upbeat. “Sometimes,” he told Judge James Robertson, “it takes divine intervention” to move the government.
Over the past decade, his case had not gone well. Nor had the parallel lawsuit brought by female farmers.
Judge Robertson had refused to certify either group as a class. The United States Court of Appeals had upheld him, stating in 2006 that the Hispanic plaintiffs had been denied loans “for a variety of reasons, including inadequate farm plans and lack of funds.” Nor had female farmers proved a pattern of bias, the court found.
The Justice Department’s lawyers had definitively ruled out any group-style settlement. “Some of these folks have never made a loan payment in their entire history with U.S.D.A.,” Lisa A. Olson, the lead government litigator against the 81 Hispanic plaintiffs, told Judge Robertson in August 2009. “There may even be folks who are under criminal investigation.”
Michael Sitcov, assistant director of the Justice Department’s federal program branch, told the judge that senior department officials agreed with career litigators that the cases should be fought one by one.
But members of the Congressional Hispanic caucus and a group of eight Democratic senators, led by Mr. [Bob] Menendez, were lobbying the White House to move in the opposite direction. They grew increasingly agitated as the plaintiffs’ cases appeared to falter.
In a letter to Mr. Obama in June 2009, the senators noted that black farmers stood to receive $2.25 billion in compensation, but that Hispanic farmers, who alleged the same kind of discrimination, had gotten nothing. Should that continue, Mr. Menendez wrote that September, “Hispanic farmers and ranchers, and their supporters, will be reaching out to community and industry leaders outside of the Beltway in order to bring wider attention to this problem.”
The issue came to a head after the Supreme Court refused to reopen the issue of class certification. The next month, on Feb. 11, 2010, Daniel J. Meltzer, principal deputy White House counsel, held the first of three meetings at which resolution of the case was discussed, records and interviews show. Among the attendees were senior Justice and Agriculture Department officials, including Mr. West, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, and Krysta Harden, then the assistant agriculture secretary for Congressional relations. Settlement negotiations began the next week.... Attorneys for the 81 Hispanic farmers also raised the vague specter of tens of thousands of plaintiffs....
In agreeing to the payout, the government did, for the first time, impose a greater evidentiary burden. While one major category of claimants — those who said their loan applications had been unfairly denied — remained eligible for payments of up to $50,000 without any documentation, others were required to produce written evidence that they had complained of bias at the time. The Hispanic plaintiffs were indignant.
Adam P. Feinberg, who represents some of them, said: “Once the government puts a program in place for one racial group, even if it decides it is too generous, it cannot adopt a different set of restrictions for another racial group. It’s outrageous.”
The claims process opened in late September, six weeks before the election. In the weeks before the March 25 deadline, facing far fewer claimants than expected, the Agriculture Department instructed processors to call about 16,000 people to remind them that time was running out, despite internal disquiet that the government was almost recruiting claims against itself. The deadline was then extended to May 1.
So far, about 1,900 Hispanics and 24,000 women have sought compensation, many in states where middlemen have built a cottage industry, promising to help win payouts for a fee.
Obama Lauds the Race-Baiting Civil-Rights Activist Al Sharpton: On April 6, 2011, President Obama traveled to New York's Sheraton Hotel & Towers to attend a 20th anniversary celebration of Al Sharpton's National Action Network. When addressing the crowd, Obama, who had heartily embraced Sharpton and complimented him for “his style.” Obama also â€¨praised “the National Action Network's commitment to fight injustice and inequality here in New York City and across America. That's not only a testament to Reverend Sharpton. It's a testament to all of you who are here tonight. I want to commend you for the work that you've done over the last two decades.”
Obama Mocks Anti-Illegal-Immigration Activists: In May 2011, President Obama went to El Paso, Texas to give what was billed as an important speech on immigration. He mocked opponents of illegal immigration by saying, "Maybe they'll need a moat [i.e., in addition to a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States]. Maybe they'll need alligators in the moat."
Obama DOJ Investigates Police Departments for Civil-Rights Abuses: On May 31, 2011, Salon.com reported that “President Obama's Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force....”
Working to Bring Back the Subprime Mortgage-Lending Practices That Caused the Housing Market to Collapse in 2008: In July 2011, it was reported that the Obama DOJ, in a manner reminiscent of the lending practices that helped cause the housing crisis of 2008, was once again strong-arming banks to make risky loans to minority applicants – threatening to charge banks with discrimination if they failed to comply.
Claims of Discrimination Against Black Schoolchildren: In a February 25, 2012 speech to the organization 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Attorney General Eric Holder lamented the findings of a 2011 study of discipline patterns in Texas schools. Holder said the study showed that “83 percent of African American male students and 74 percent of Hispanic male students ended up in trouble and suspended for some period of time” -- as compared to 59% of white male students. “We’ve often seen that students of color, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with special needs are disproportionately likely to be suspended or expelled,” Holder stated. “This is, quite simply, unacceptable.… These unnecessary and destructive policies must be changed.” After citing the Texas study, Holder added that “tellingly, 97 percent of all suspensions were discretionary and reflected the administrator’s discipline philosophy as much as the student’s behavior.” In his speech, Holder ignored data indicating that the different discipline rates were consistent with differences in actual schoolyard behavior.
Holder revisited this theme in January 2014, when he and Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued the first-ever national guidelines for discipline in public schools. These guidelines demanded that schools adhere, as an Associated Press (AP) report put it, "to the principle of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don't." "[I]n our investigations," said the administration, "we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students. In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem." Holder, for his part, declared: "A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal's office, not in a police precinct."
In particular, the Obama administration was troubled by the fact that:
- Black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended.
- Black students comprised more than a third of students suspended once, 44% of those suspended multiple times, and more than a third of those expelled.
- Black and Hispanic students were more than half of those involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement.
“Too often, said Holder, "so-called zero-tolerance policies [which mandate uniform and swift punishment for such offenses as truancy, smoking, or carrying a weapon], however well intentioned they might be, make students feel unwelcome in their own schools; they disrupt the learning process. And they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people, increasing their likelihood of future contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems."
To address this matter, the Obama administration encouraged schools to:
- ensure that all school personnel are trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to de-escalate classroom disruptions;
- ensure that school personnel understand that they are responsible for administering routine student discipline instead of security or police officers;
- draw clear distinctions about the responsibilities of school security personnel;
- provide opportunities for school security officers to develop relationships with students and parents;
- establish procedures on how to distinguish between disciplinary infractions appropriately handled by school officials compared with major threats to school safety; and
- collect and monitor data that security or police officers take to ensure nondiscrimination.
As George Mason University professor Walter E. Williams observes, under the Obama policy:
"The nation’s educators can avoid sanctions by adopting a racial quota system for student discipline. So as Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, predicts, 'school officials will either start disciplining students who shouldn’t be, or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be.' I can imagine school administrators reasoning this way: 'Blacks are 20 percent of our student body, and 20 percent of suspensions this year have been of black students. In order to discipline another black student while maintaining our suspension quota, we will have to suspend some white students, whether they’re guilty or not.'"
The Trayvon Martin Case: When the black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in an altercation with a "white Hispanic" man on February 26, 2012, Obama lamented: “If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.” Further, Obama urged all Americans “to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.” Obama did not explain why this particular incident should be weighted with such racial significance, given the fact that the overwhelming majority of interracial crime in the United States is black-on-white, and more than 90% of black homicide victims nationwide are killed by other blacks.
It was subsequently learned that the Martin-Zimmerman incident was by no means a case of stalking and cold-blooded murder, as the media and civil-rights activists (and, by, implication, Obama) had portrayed it. In fact, just prior to the shooting, Martin had been pummeling Zimmerman viciously, inflicting a broken nose, two black eyes, and a head wound on the latter. Moreover, before shooting Martin, Zimmerman had desperately cried out for help 14 times.
In July 2013, it was learned that in the immediate aftermath of the Martin killing, the Community Relations Service (CRS), a small office within the U.S. Department of Justice, sent taxpayer-funded political agitators to Sanford, where they helped organize protest demonstrations and convey the false impression that the killer had racial motives. At one of those rallies -- the March 31, 2012 "March for Trayvon Martin” -- the featured speaker, Al Sharpton, advocated for Zimmerman’s prosecution. According to journalist Matthew Vadum:
"DOJ documents provided to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the weeks before Zimmerman was charged, CRS expended thousands of dollars to help organize marches in which participants exacerbated racial tensions and loudly demanded that he be prosecuted.
"According to the documentation, CRS employees were involved in 'marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain'; providing 'support for protest deployment in Florida'; rendering 'technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31 '; and providing 'technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford.'
"In April , CRS 'set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police chief Bill Lee, according to Turner Clayton, Seminole County chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,' the document dump revealed."
On July 19, 2013 -- a few days after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges -- Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to issue a statement. His remarks included the following:
First of all ... I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation....
You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn’t go away.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.
And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.
And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.
The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case....
We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.
And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.
I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.
So -- so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or -- and that context is being denied. And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different....
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department -- governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing....
Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations....
We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?...
And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.... [A]t least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.
On August 7, 2013, Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, who asked him to comment on the Trayvon Martin case. The President replied:
"Well, I think all of us were troubled by what happened. And any of us who were parents can imagine the heartache that those parents went through. It doesn’t mean that Trayvon was a perfect kid -- none of us were. We were talking offstage -- when you’re a teenager, especially a teenage boy, you’re going to mess up, and you won’t always have the best judgment. But what I think all of us agree to is, is that we should have a criminal justice system that’s fair, that’s just. And what I wanted to try to explain was why this was a particularly sensitive topic for African American families, because a lot of people who have sons know the experience they had of being followed or being viewed suspiciously.
"We all know that young African American men disproportionately have involvement in criminal activities and violence -- for a lot of reasons, a lot of it having to do with poverty, a lot of it having to do with disruptions in their neighborhoods and their communities, and failing schools and all those things. And that’s no excuse, but what we also believe in is, is that people -- everybody -- should be treated fairly and the system should work for everyone."
Obama Suggests That There Are Efforts to Suppress the Votes of Nonwhite Minorities: During his second inaugural address as president on January 21, 2013, the newly re-elected Obama made reference to alleged efforts to suppress the votes of certain demographic groups, particularly low-income nonwhite minorities: “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.”
Obama Says Illegal Immigrants Should Not Be “Expelled from Our Country”: Also during his second inaugural address (on January 21, 2013), Obama emphasized his commitment to passing “comprehensive immigration reform” and the DREAM Act, both of which would include a path-to-citizenship for illegals currently residing in the United States: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students andâ€¨engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
Obama Says That People From Mexico "Did Not Cross the Border, The Border Crossed Them": When outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who is of Mexican heritage, formally stepped down from his post in early February 2013, Obama suggested that the Hispanic Cabinet member was more authentically American than the Pilgrims of New England: "His ancestors were here before the Mayflower set sail." The president then echoed a phrase common among Nativists who believe that lands belong to ethnicities rather than to countries: "[Salazar and] his family did not cross the border, the border crossed them. And that's why, when I needed somebody to lead Interior, I didn't have to look very far."
Americans' View of Race Relations Has Deteriorated Greatly During Obama Administration: In June 2013, a poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal reported that 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks had a favorable opinion of race relations in the U.S. At the beginning of Obama’s first term (4 and 1/2 years earlier, the corresponding figures were 79 percent and 63 percent.
Obama Speaks about America's Racial Injustice, Yesterday and Today: In an August 23, 2013 speech at Binghamton University, Obama said:
“I think what we’ve also seen is that the legacy of discrimination—slavery, Jim Crow—has meant that some of the institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist. African American poverty in this country is still significantly higher than other groups. Same is true for Latinos. Same is true for Native Americans. And even if there weren’t active discrimination taking place right now—and obviously, we know that some discrimination still exists, although nothing like what existed 50 years ago—but let’s assume that we eliminated all discrimination magically, with a wand, and everybody had goodness in their heart. You’d still have a situation in which there are a lot of folks who are poor and whose families have become dysfunctional because of a long legacy of poverty, and live in neighborhoods that are run down and schools that are underfunded and don’t have a strong property tax base. And it would still be harder for young people born into those communities to succeed than those who were born elsewhere.”
Obama Marks the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” Speech by Emphasizing America's Racial Inequity: On August 28, 2013, Obama said:
“To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails....
“Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half-century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white employment, Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown....
“To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails....
“Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half-century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white employment, Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown.”
Obama Laments America's Historical and Continuing Racial Injustice: In a December 4, 2013 speech on the U.S. economy, President Obama said: "[I]t's true that the painful legacy of discrimination means that African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans are far more likely to suffer from a lack of opportunity -- higher unemployment, higher poverty rates.... So we’re going to need strong application of anti-discrimination laws. We’re going to need immigration reform that grows the economy and takes people out of the shadows. We’re going to need targeted initiatives to close those gaps."
Obama Commutes the Sentences of Eight Crack-Cocaine Offenders Convicted under "Unfair System": On December 19, 2013, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 8 (nonwhite) individuals who had been imprisoned for more than 15 years apiece for crack cocaine offenses committed at a time when the penalties for the possession of crack, a drug most often used by poor blacks, were approximately 100 times harsher than the penalties for possession of powder cocaine, whose users were typically affluent whites. (In 2010 Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which narrowed the disparity of those penalties considerably.)
One of the individuals whose sentences Obama commuted was a first cousin of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, one of the president’s most loyal supporters. Patrick's cousin, Reynolds Allen Wintersmith Jr., had been sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and its products on behalf of a gang known as the Gangster Disciples.
Said Obama in a statement: “I am commuting the prison terms of eight men and women who were sentenced under an unfair system. Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness.... If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”
In addition to the 8 sentences he commuted, Obama also pardoned 13 individuals convicted of crack cocaine offenses.
Further, Obama urged Congress to approve additional sentencing-reform measures to ensure “that our justice system keeps its basic promise of equal treatment for all.”
Federal Hate-Crime Charge Against White Perpetrator of the "Knockout Game": In the fall of 2013, media outlets like Breitbart News, Truth Revolt, and Fox News reported extensively on the growing prevalence of the so-called "knockout game," whereby groups of black teenagers were targeting defenseless and unsuspecting white, Jewish, and Asian pedestrians and blindsiding them with roundhouse punches designed to render the victims unconscious. Accomplices to the perpetrators commonly captured these attacks on video and posted them, as a form of celebration, to the website YouTube. Hundreds of these knockout-game incidents had occurred in cities nationwide since 2010. Many had resulted in serious injuries, and in several cases the victims had died.
The Obama administration, however, never took action against any of the perpetrators until December 2013, when Obama's Justice Department filed a federal hate-crimes charge against a 27-year-old Texas white man who targeted a 79-year-old black man with a "knockout-game" attack (which he also videotaped and subsequently boasted about to strangers).
Obama Says Racism Causes Some Voters to Dislike Him: In the January 27, 2014 issue of the New Yorker magazine, President Obama said: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” “Now, the flip side of it,” added Obama, “is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.”
Obama Lauds Al Sharpton and Warns That Voting Rights for Blacks Are in Peril
On April 11, 2014, President Obama spoke at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention in New York and said to Sharpton: “Of course, one thing that has not changed is your commitment to problems of civil rights for everybody and opportunity for all people.”
Focusing also on the issue of Republican proposals to tighten ID requirements for voting in political elections, Obama claimed that such measures would unfairly make it more difficult for millions of Americans to cast their ballots. Said Obama, to thunderous applause: “America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote for themselves and others only to see it denied to their kids and their grandchildren. The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today.”
Obama Denounces the Death Penalty and Laments the "Significant Problems" Associated with the Execution of a Particular, Remorseless Black Murderer
On April 20, 2014, a 38-year-old, black Oklahoma man named Clayton Lockett was executed by lethal injection because he had raped and murdered a 19-year-old girl named Stephanie Neiman fifteen years earlier. The injection procedure was botched, however, and it took a full 43 minutes after the drug was administered before Lockett died. A TulsaWorld.com report provided background on the crime that had led to this execution:
Stephanie Neiman ... was dropping off a friend at a Perry [Oklahoma] residence on June 3, 1999, the same evening Clayton Lockett and two accomplices decided to pull a home invasion robbery there. Neiman fought Lockett when he tried to take the keys to her truck.
The men beat her and used duct tape to bind her hands and cover her mouth. Even after being kidnapped and driven to a dusty country road, Neiman didn’t back down when Lockett asked if she planned to contact police.
The men had also beaten and kidnapped Neiman’s friend along with Bobby Bornt, who lived in the residence, and Bornt’s 9-month-old baby....
Neiman was forced to watch as Lockett’s accomplice, Shawn Mathis, spent 20 minutes digging a shallow grave in a ditch beside the road. Her friends saw Neiman standing in the ditch and heard a single shot.
Lockett returned to the truck because the gun had jammed. He later said he could hear Neiman pleading, “Oh God, please, please” as he fixed the shotgun. The men could be heard “laughing about how tough Stephanie was” before Lockett shot Neiman a second time.
He ordered Mathis to bury her, despite the fact that Mathis informed him Stephanie was still alive.
A few days after Lockett's execution, a foreign reporter raised the issue with Obama and compared America's use of the death penalty to that of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China. After conceding that the death penalty might be appropriate in a very “terrible” crime such as “mass killing” or “the killings of children,” Obama went on to denounce the capital punishment generally:
"The application of the death penalty in this country, we have seen significant problems — racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty, you know, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence. And all these, I think, do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied. And this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there.
"So I’ll be discussing with Eric Holder and others, you know — you know, to get me an analysis of what steps have been taken, not just in this particular instance, but more broadly in this area. I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues."
Obama Speaks about White Police Officer's Killing of Black Teen
On August 14, 2014, Obama addressed the riots that had been raging in recent days in response to the August 9 kiling -- by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri -- of an unarmed 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown in circumstances that were not yet clear. While he called for "unity" and calm, the president also issued a sternly worded reprimand to the police:
"This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who’s been following and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground. The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done....
"Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old, and his family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities, including the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities. There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground."
On August 18, Obama said: "In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and left as objects to fear. Part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our union has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind." And in light of the fact that some police in Ferguson were employing tanks and riot gear in order to deal with the looters, Obama stated: "There is no excuse for excessive force by police.... I think it's probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they're purchasing [such as military equipment] is stuff that they actually need. There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those lines blurred."
Obama Meets with Sharpton Regarding Police Department Reform
On December 1, 2014, President Obama met with Al Sharpton at the White House to discuss matters related to the Michael Brown shooting and police-department reform. News reports indicated that Obama would demand $263 million from Congress to put 50,000 body-worn cameras in U.S. police departments and train local officers in the proper use pf surplus military equipment. Brown's parents had pushed for the use of cameras as one way to reduce distrust between police and nonwhites. In August, the administration had said that it agreed with the idea in principle, writing: "We support the use of cameras and video technology by law enforcement officers, and the Department of Justice continues to research best practices for implementation."
Al Sharpton Has Become Obama's Chief Advisor on Racial Issues
In August 2014, Politico.com published a feature story titled, “How Al Sharpton Became Obama's Go-To Man on Race.” The piece stated that “Sharpton not only visits the White House frequently, he often texts or emails with senior Obama officials such as [Valerie] Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder.” It quoted Jesse Jackson saying, “I’ve known Al since he was 12 years old, and he’s arrived at the level he always wanted to arrive at, which is gratifying. He’s the man who’s the liaison to the White House, he’s the one who’s talking to the Justice Department.” Sharpton himself, meanwhile, offered his own assessment of how he had bonded with Obama: “The relationship evolved over time.... The key for him was seeing that I wasn’t insincere, that I actually believed in the stuff I was talking about.”
In a subsequent New York Times piece, Obama was quoted as having said of Sharpton: “You can do business with that guy.”
Obama Sees Racism As the Cause of Opposition to Immigration Reform
In an August 2014 interview with The Economist, President Obama derided "the dysfunction of a Republican Party that knows we need immigration reform, knows that it would actually be good for its long-term prospects, but is captive to the nativist elements in its party."
Obama Says Racism in America Is "Deeply Rooted"
In a December 2014 interview with Black Entertainment Television, President Obama said that racism “is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history.” He added: “When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias, you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time, and you just have to be steady so you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there. This isn’t going to be solved overnight.”
Obama Cites the Continuing "Legacy of Slavery"
In an October 2014 New Yorker article, President Obama was quoted saying thatthe biggest issues concerning race are “rooted in economics and the legacy of slavery,” which have created “vastly different opportunities for African-Americans and whites.” He added: “I understand, certainly sitting in this office, that probably the single most important thing I could do for poor black kids is to make sure that they’re getting a good K-through-12 education. And, if they’re coming out of high school well prepared, then they’ll be able to compete for university slots and jobs. And that has more to do with budgets and early-childhood education and stuff that needs to be legislated.”
Obama Discusses Society's Continuing Racism
In A December 2014 interview with People magazine, Obama said: "The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It's one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala [an alleged incident that Mrs. Obama had just recounted to the interviewer]. It's another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress."
Obama also told People: “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.”
The President also said that he and Mrs. Obama had often encouraged their daughters to reflect on racial stereotypes, particularly "how they think they should have to act as African-American girls." "Around the dinner table," he added, "we're pointing out to them that too often in our society black boys are still perceived as more dangerous, and it will be part of their generation's task to try to eradicate those stereotypes."
(Return to Top)
III) DIVIDING BY SEX:
Women's Earnings: “For every $1.00 earned by a man, the average woman receives only 77 cents,” said an Obama campaign publication in 2008. “A recent study estimates it will take another 47 years for women to close the wage gap with men.” To rectify this, Obama “believes the government needs to take steps to better enforce the Equal Pay Act, fight job discrimination, and improve child care options and family medical leave to give women equal footing in the workplace.”
Obama Supports Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke: On February 23, 2012, Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University and an experienced women's-rights activist, testified about Georgetown’s policy on contraception during an unofficial hearing that was led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Fluke argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance policies, even at religious institutions that objected to contraception on moral grounds. After radio host Rush Limbaugh harshly criticized Miss Fluke for her comments, President Obama called the young woman to express his support. In an interview with CBS News, Fluke reported that Mr. Obama had thanked her for "helping to amplify the voices of women across the country," and had expressed concern "that I was okay." Added Fluke: “He expressed his support me, thanked me for helping to amplify the voices of women across the country who are very concerned about the very dangerous bills that we've seen and their support for the contraception policy and how much it means to them. Beyond that, he also just wanted to express concern and make sure that I was okay, which I thought was very kind and I assured him I was."
This incident laid the groundwork for the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to accuse the Republican Party of waging a “war on women,” a hallmark of which was Republicans' refusal to mandate that all health insurance plans cover the cost of women's contraception and abortion services.
Obama Says the Augusta National Golf Club Should Allow Women to Attend: In April 2012, Yahoo News reported: “President Obama believes that women should be admitted for membership to the all-male Augusta National Golf Club, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. 'His personal opinion is that women should be admitted,' Carney said of the president. 'It's obviously up to the club to decide. But his personal opinion is that women should be admitted to the club.'”
Obama Speaks at White House Event on Women and the Economy: At an April 6, 2012 White House event on women and the economy, President Obama said: “When more women are bringing home the bacon, but bringing home less of it than men who are doing the same work, that weakens families, it weakens communities, it's tough on our kids, it weakens our entire economy.”
Obama Speaks about the Need for "Pay Equity": On April 17, 2012, President Obama stated that "women who worked full-time [the previous year] earned only 77 percent of what their male counterparts did." "The pay gap was even greater for African American and Latina women," added Obama, "with African American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man."
Obama Campaign Urges Female Voters to "Vote Like Your Lady Parts Depend on It":
On October 2, 2012, the Obama campaign posted an e-card, targeting women, on its Tumblr site. It read: "Vote like your lady parts depend on it." Just hours after bloggers began criticizing the ad, the campaign deleted the e-card.
Obama Mocks Romney's Reference to “Binders Full of Women”
During an October 9, 2012 presidential debate, Republican Mitt Romney described how, when he began his tenure as governor of Massachusetts in 2003, he sought to increase the number of women in his cabinet: “I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. And I went to my staff, and I said, 'How come all the people for these jobs are all men?' They said, 'Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.' And I said, 'Well, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified?'” This, explained Romney, led to a “concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members” of his cabinet. “I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' And they brought us whole binders full of women” (i.e., women's resumes).
At a campaign rally in Iowa the following day, Obama made a disparaging reference to Romney's remark: “We don't have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women ready to learn and teach in these fields right now,” said Obama. “When young women graduate, they should get equal pay for equal work. That should be a simple question to answer.” He repeated a similar assertion later that day at a campaign event in Ohio.
Obama Says Women Are Underpaid: During his second inaugural address as president on January 21, 2013, the newly re-elected Obama emphasized his belief that female workers in America are not treated or paid fairly: “Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to theirâ€¨efforts.”
Obama Laments America's Historical and Continuing Injustice Toward Women: In a December 4, 2013 speech on the U.S. economy, President Obama said: "It’s also true that women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.... It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women will have more tools to fight pay discrimination."
Obama Says Women Are Underpaid: During his State of the Union address in January 2014, Obama said: "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work."
(Return to Top)