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
- 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
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.”
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.”
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."
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:
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
- 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
rather let these [budget] cuts fall squarely on the middle class."
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 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:
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."
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:
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:
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
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
all these things violated sound economic principles.
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.
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....
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
“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
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."
(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
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
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
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
“[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
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- ensure that school personnel understand that they are responsible
for administering routine student discipline instead of security or
- 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.
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
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:
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.
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....
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:
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.
"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
"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
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:
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:
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....
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....
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....
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.)
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
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.”
(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”
an October 9, 2012 presidential debate, Republican Mitt Romney
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).
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.
Says Women Are Underpaid: During
his second inaugural
address as president on January 21, 2013, the newly re-elected
Obama emphasized his
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)