Dreams From My Father, A Story Of Race And Inheritance. Barack Obama. Book Review. Part One: Origins, Chapter Eight. Realities.

August 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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When Barack arrived in Chicago Harold Washington had been elected as mayor and the spirits of the black community were running high in expectation of a larger share of the patronage and opportunities the mayor’s office had under its control. However a large number alderman were white and beholden to the political machine created by Richard Daley and the other white politicians that had gone before him.

Washington was a consensus builder and was aware that white votes as well of black votes put him into office. He wanted to be thought of as the Mayor not the Black Mayor. He governed the city with an even hand towards all groups. Obama took note of the fact that Washington was able to build a coalition of Whites and Blacks to further the interests they shared in common.

Marty Kaufman’s (Obama has changed the names of all but well known figures in this book.) plan was to work through the Catholic and Protestant churches to form a coalition to force the investment bankers, the politicians and the “fat cat lobbyists” to create the conditions to repair Chicago’s manufacturing base which was severely damaged when the steel mills shut down. To this end the legislature had appropriated $500,000.00 for a jobs development bank. Now all the communities on the Southside had to do was find jobs and put people back to meaningful work.

Marty was astute enough to know that a white organizer would not be accepted so the plan was for Obama’s to work through the black Christian pastors and ministers to determine the needs of the community and then try to organize to achieve those ends and thus gain influence and perhaps enlist a source of  real power; the unions on their side.

He became friends with the pastor he calls Will of St Catherine’s church. St Catherine’s was a Catholic church but Will had never been ordained as a priest. The Cardinal and the Archdiocese accepted him and the fact that he wore a collar. Father Will mentored Obama on the vicissitudes of community relations.

Marty started Barack’s training by having interview people to learn what their needs and fears were.   The older church going generation was fearful that their achievements in establishing economic stability and quiet neighborhoods was being lost on the younger generation of immigrants to Chicago while their own children had become educated and successful and moved to other areas of the city. Now the neighborhoods were starting to deteriorate and were beset by gangs and drugs.

He organized a mass meeting with the police commander as a speaker.  The purpose was to petition the police to more effectively control the gangs and drugs. He enlisted the local pastors to announce the meeting on the Sunday before it was to take place and to urge their congregations to attend in order show a united front to the police that the citizens wanted something done; that maintaining a declining status quo was not enough. On the night of the meeting only thirteen people showed up and the police commander cancelled sending a human relations specialist instead.

Father Wills counseled him why the meeting failed and the reasons for the local pastors not getting behind Barack and making it a success. Most of the pastors were aware that they were more likely to get what they wanted through their alderman and ultimately the Mayor: the ultimate wielders of power in the city. While they were not oblivious to the problem of declining neighborhoods, drugs, gangs and the lack of jobs they thought they were more likely to solve these problems by petitioning their elected officials than community meetings with bureaucrats. Further each congregation had its own agenda of achieving their goal and their goals and methods were not all the same. Also many of the pastors were in competition with each other for more congregants and their votes to increase their political influence and the benefits to be obtained. So they were unlikely to work together or even send their congregants to be organized in a united front by an outsider whom they saw as the black representative of a white power group.

Barack begins to see that instilling a belief in individuals that uniting into community groups to change their own destiny from the ground up was a long and difficult road. Further there were other groups in the city with similar goals or which made similar promises and  although these groups  were  splintered and inefficient they were seen as loyal to the black cause and had made some progress in the past.

Barack saw that community organizing was a heart breaking job with a low success score and that change was more likely to come from the top down even in a democracy.


Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Preface Statement; Introduction

February 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Huckabee has written a book criticizing the Obama Administration’s policies on financial matters and health care. In the prefatory remarks he states he won’t sink to personal attacks or “snarky” comments.
He begins by noting that Obama ran for office on the philosophy of hope and change which has now become tax and spend.
Obama according to Huckabee has shown himself to be the most partisan president in his lifetime by assuming his election was a mandate to establish socialized medicine and financial reform that will saddle future generations with a “mountain of debt.” (Huckabee seems to equate the Affordable Health Care Act with socialized medicine and forgets that 48.6 million Americans lacked heath care costing the tax payer 125 billion a year before Obama took office. Socialized medicine is when the government owns the medical facitities and employs the personnel. The cost of healthcare as a percentage of GDP is increasing and was among the highest in the industrialized nations. Further when Obama took office the economy was in deep recession from the “free market” policies of the Bush Administration and headed towards a depression.)
He alleges Obama has loaded the government with “policy wonks and Ivy League professors because he speaks their language. Virtually no one on his team has experience running anything; they probably couldn’t even run a lemonade stand. Their abstract theories, abstract promises, airy platitudes, and unrealistic promises may sound nice on paper or in a Congressional debate but in reality these politicians are just trying to cover up their own ignorance. ” (This sounds snarky. Are Secretaries of Defense and State Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton policy wonks or Ivy League professors for instance? Look at the bios of the others in the Obama Cabinet and you will see just how unjustified and wrong is this comment )
He then points to his experience as Governor of Arkansas where he had to balance the budget. (All states are not allowed to run a deficit except to issue bonds for long term projects to finance bridges, schools, ports etc. So he couldn’t borrow if he wanted too and he was Governor during a peoriod of prosperity.) He doesn’t mention his own shallow educational background or beginning as a Baptist preacher in backwater towns and cities.
Huckabee doesn’t seem to realize he is now trying to play to a larger, better educated audience by saying things like he would “simplify government” and balance the U.S. budget by virtue of his down home personality and his past experience as a minister and Governor of one of our smaller states population wise and in the size of its economy.
One of the Bush Administration’s policies was to simplify government by advocating free markets and by downsizing regulation which led to the bond market bubble and near collapse of the financial system. So Huckabee from the beginning of this book is either a deceitful politician talking down to the reader or is another naïve but telegenic man.