Joe's Scratchpad

Odds & Ends and Random Thoughts

Apr 19

Sonny Boy Williamson, one of the giants of the Blues, sings ‘Nine Below Zero.’

Apr 18

Apr 16

KY Wildcats head coach John Calipari was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on FOX News last night. I’m posting this so that you can listen to the leading questions O’reilly asked Calipari about his players, who are mostly Black.

Before you get half-way through this video I think you will have figured out that Bill O’Reilly has a very low opinion of Black kids. It is obvious that he was trying to trap Calipari into saying anything that would confirm his own apparent opinion that Blacks kids are basically profane, undisciplined, un-coachable, drug-using, gang-bangers in uniform.

To his credit Calipari neatly fended off O’Reilly’s attempts to get him to say negative things about his players. I especially like it when he says his players are from ‘good homes,’ flatly refuting the stereotype implicit in O’Reilly’s questions.

You and I may find O’Reilly’s questions a tad offensive, but keep in mind that O’Reilly was playing to the FOX News audience – a demographic that polls have largely described as being less tolerant of Blacks than Americans in general. Undoubtedly, many in that audience share the views of Blacks that O’Reilly was hinting at with his questions.

I’ll say it again: FOX News is bad for America.

–  Joe

Apr 15

Can Dems Hold Onto The Senate in November? Blacks Could Hold the Key!


As you know, Black voters were key to Pres Obama’s presidential victories in 2008, and 2012 – even voting at a higher rate than whites to ensure his reelection. Equally as important, the Black voter surge in 2008 helped the Dems to capture both houses of Congress, which later ensured the passage of Obamacare and several other important measures. In fact, without that first two years of Dem control Obama would have little positive to show for his presidency, because Republicans have been united from the day he first took office to deny him any victories.

Unfortunately, we don’t vote in mid-term elections like we do in presidential years. So, after putting Obama in office in 2008, we largely skipped the 2010 mid-terms, allowing the GOP to recapture control of the House and narrow the Dem majority in the Senate. And since then what we’ve seen is unprecedented obstruction from the GOP to almost anything and everything the president has tried to do. 

The GOP is so determined to put the brakes on Obama that its members will even vote against measures they previously sponsored if Obama dares put them forward. Some of them are so opposed to Obama that they fret when the stock market rises, when the economy improves, when unemployment goes down, when more people get healthcare – or when anything good happens to America that Obama might get credit for.

So, now we face the upcoming mid-term elections in November that will decide the fate of the last years of the Obama presidency. All polling suggests that the GOP will hold onto the House and have an edge for winning the Senate. If that polling is right we might as well write off the remainder of the Obama agenda here and now. That’s because if the GOP controls both houses of Congress NOTHING the president proposes will have a snowball’s chance of passing. Instead, the president will be spending his time trying to keep a GOP Congress from completely dismantling much of what he has already accomplished, starting with Obamacare.

Of course, we could prevent that from happening. We have the power to help Dems maintain their Senate majority, and to make inroads in the House, as well. How? Simply by voting in the same kind of numbers we did in 2012 – when a record number of Blacks went to the polls despite all the shady efforts of the GOP to suppress our vote.

Remember, the polls that suggest a GOP triumph in November base their methodologies on historical voting patterns that reveal low Black voter turnout in mid-term elections. In other words, the pollsters figure that if Blacks sit on their hands in November, like they have historically, then the GOP wins both the House and the Senate. Nothing personal, here. Just the facts, ma’am.

So, the important question for now is can we defy both history and the pollsters by voting in 2012-type numbers in November? The odds say NO. Decades of past efforts to get Blacks enthused about mid-term elections have met with lukewarm results, at best. Nevertheless, there is one wild-card this year that could reverse that trend if played properly. And that’s the fact that Obama’s agenda and legacy are on the line and those of us who helped put him in office can not in good conscious abandon him now! 

Otherwise, all the worst elements of the GOP – the racist scumbags, the neo-confederate white southerners, the Limbaugh ditto heads, the FOX News friends, the phony Christian fundamentalists, the global-warming deniers, the anti-science creeps, the birthers, the gun nuts, the war-loving neo-cons, the Islam demonizers, and the Tea Party know-nothings – will have won! God forbid!

Without the Senate, Obama is just a sitting duck in a GOP shooting gallery. And, in an indirect sense, when they are shooting at him they are shooting at us too. That’s the message we have to start giving to the folks we know right now – especially our youngsters and those who might think their duty was done when we elected Obama in the first place. That is, the message has to register in ways that are personal – ways that make people understand that there’s as much at stake FOR US this November as there was in 2008 and 2012. 

So, start the conversation with your kids, your friends, your relatives, your co-workers and the folks in the barbershop and beauty salon. We can beat the pollsters, and we can deny FOX News the satisfaction of seeing Obama politically neutered in his last two years. More importantly, we have the power to ensure that the first African-American elected president spends those last years accomplishing big things for the benefit of all Americans – not just the 1%.

– Joe

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