Obama's Racial Spoils System
Barack Obama found his first sermon at Jeremiah Wright's church so inspiring he quoted from it for his book, The Audacity of Hope: "white folks' greed runs a world in need." But when he took his first step on the national political stage during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he took a different tack for the masses watching on television: "There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."
So which Barack Obama is the real one? The one who had no qualms attending with his wife and young daughters the church of a race-baiting minister whom Obama called his moral compass, or the one who downplayed race during the campaign and promised to unite us all as Americans, regardless of the color of our skin?
After two and one-half years of the Obama presidency, the real Barack Obama has emerged: one who hands out tax dollars, pushes policies, and formulates rules and regulations to give preference to black Americans.
We were given a hint of Barack Obama's hidden agenda during the stock market meltdown in 2008. He was praised for his equipoise -- his "grace under pressure" -- while equities plummeted. While John McCain suspended his campaign and flew back to Washington to deal with the crisis, Obama serenely continued campaigning. This may have just shown narcissism or his desire to capitalize on a crisis . Or was there a different dynamic at work? Why did he fail to show any of that empathy that he always bandied about during the campaign? Was it because "white greedy folks" were being disproportionally harmed, compared to his own preferred group, which has a relatively negligible amount of money invested in the stock market?
One maxim always to follow when judging Barack Obama is to ignore his words and focus on his actions. A review of some of the policies he has implemented as President will reveal a race-based agenda that judges people on the color of their skin and not on the content of their character.
Stanley Kurtz coined a term to describe Barack Obama's modus operandi as a state senator. He gave him the moniker Senator Stealth in honor of the clever way Obama was able to promote his agenda behind the scenes. He is employing the same tools he learned in Cook County, and he has honed those skills as president.
One particularly stealthy move was to promote legislation that on first glance is race-neutral but actually preferentially benefits blacks. As I wrote in a previous column for American Thinker ("Racial Spoils in Obama's America"):
Disparate impacts are outcomes that benefit African-Americans because they are compose a higher proportion of a particular group. These include:
- efforts to gut the workfare requirement that was the signature achievement of Bill Clinton in the area of welfare reform;
- giving a blank check to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Authority to expand home "ownership" among lower-income people and income redistribution on a massive scale (via tax hikes and stimulus bills -- and by the way, stimulus views vary by race, with African-Americans far more in favor of it than whites, Hispanics, or Native Americans); and
- health care "reform" (including expanding the ranks of those who qualify for Medicaid) despite all the polls showing that most Americans are happy with their own medical care and do not want the intrusion of government, the massive deficits, and the tax increases that will come with such "reform."
Because African-Americans make up a high proportion of the disadvantaged, they will disproportionally benefit. This is an agenda at work.
Don't believe me? Listen to Barack Obama when he spoke to a friendly crowd of minority journalists in 2008 about why he favored universal care:
If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they're disproportionately uninsured.
Embedded within the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (ObamaCare) are provisions sending tax dollars preferentially to medical schools that have robust admissions programs for "underrepresented minorities" (meaning academically-outperforming Asians don't count). More money flows if these schools send their doctors to and nurses to "vulnerable populations" in "underserved areas," meaning inner cities.
The focus on tipping the scales was so blatant that it drew a rebuke from the U.S Commission on Civil Rights that such provisions were "racially discriminatory." This rebuke was ignored; racial discrimination apparently is in the eye of the beholder.
All of ObamaCare can be seen as trying to racially rebalance health care in America. After all, most Americans are quite happy with the existing medical care system. But it is true that black Americans in inner cities are probably underserved. Obama is ransacking Medicare and the federal budget to pay for expanded medical care for those who live in underserved areas.
Maybe Michelle Obama might offer some insight on this issue, since she earned a nice salary (multiplied when hubby Barack became a United States Senator) working at the University of Chicago Medical Center figuring out ways to steer poor patients away from emergency rooms there and toward other hospitals -- such as municipally-owned ones bleeding red ink by the bucketful.
No less an authority than Jesse Jackson stated the obvious: "You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man."
But there are many more examples of such a race-based agenda.
Barack Obama as a Senator played a key role in enabling a massive fraud on the American taxpayer in favor of putative black farmers charging racial discrimination by the federal government. This is the Pigford Fraud alleging in the allocation of farm loans between 1983 and 1987. Though we hear a great deal about Madoff and fraud, what has America heard about Obama and fraud?
Despite census data showing there were only 33,000 black farmers during that period, more than 94,000 black farmers signed up for the gravy train and collected more than one billion dollars.
But that was not enough for then-Senator Barack Obama, who worked on legislation that gave even more money to more plaintiffs: Pigford II, as Investors Business Daily characterized this next step.
The bar was quite low regarding who could file a claim and collect the winnings: mere "testimony" from a friend or family member that a claimant had tried to farm -- even if farming was just a few tomatoes in the backyard.
As President, Obama was able to ram through $4.6 billion dollars to fund the next, quite large expanded class of claimants. The claimants may not be farmers, but who needs to have a green thumb when you have a friend in the Oval Office?
The Disparate Impact Industry
Actually, who needs to be a farmer? Even a fake farmer? You can also be a black homeowner and claim that the federal government discriminated against you and Obama's Housing and Urban Development will open its wallet for you. KaChing! In their column, "The Obama Administration's Disparate Impact on Taxpayers," Hans von Spakovsky and Alex Ingram cover the case of a "preposterous discrimination claim" that will cost the taxpayers "only 62 million" but serves to remind us that the scales are tilted in the Age of Obama.
On July 6, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it would pay an additional $62 million to some New Orleans residents whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina to settle a lawsuit. The plaintiffs were African-American homeowners in New Orleans and several ACORN-style organizations such as the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and the National Fair Housing Alliance. They claimed black homeowners were discriminated against in payouts under the federal "Road Home" program, which allocated $11 billion for rebuilding communities
The Road Home program gave residents up to $150,000 to rebuild. They would receive -- as is customary under insurance -- the lower of the fair market value of their home or the actual costs of damages to the property. But plaintiffs claimed this was racially discriminatory because homes in black areas had lower real estate values just because they were in predominantly black areas. There was a disparate impact on blacks. Voila -- HUD agreed with this novel theory and settled with nary a peep. People will actually be paid more than the value of the property damaged. That is the wonder of Other People's Money -- there is no reason to save it.
But, as Spakovsky and Ingram point out, this is just one of many examples of the Obama administration's favoritism:
This settlement shows the Obama administration's unwillingness to mount a vigorous attack on the legal theory of "disparate impact." After all, its own Justice Department is using strained versions of that dubious legal stratagem to attack employers, educators, police departments and lending institutions. Just last week, Investor's Business Daily reported that DOJ has launched a witch hunt against supposedly biased banks, forcing them to relax their mortgage standards for minorities with poor credit. DOJ cannot show any actual discrimination against minorities, just that requiring good credit or an unwillingness to count welfare benefits as income will have a "disparate impact" on certain minorities
Of course, this is the same sort of government pressure to grant loans to minorities who were bad credit risks that led to the financial sector collapse in 2008: the epicenter of a financial earthquake that sent aftershocks throughout the American economy.
Squeezing Wall Street
Pressuring the financial sector is a key goal of Barack Obama. Is there any locale more identified with white man's greed than Wall Street? Hence, the rhetorical attacks on fat cats, Wall Street bankers, millionaires and billionaires, the obsession with imposing taxes even to the detriment of growth in the American economy. Surely Jeremiah Wright is secretly pleased with his former parishioner.
The Dodd-Frank bill also is plump with provisions favoring minorities :
The statute, included in Section 342 of the bill, creates 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at the various regulatory agencies, including the Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the 12 Federal Reserve banks and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Once established, the offices are charged with monitoring the diversity at the agencies as well as at any contractors or subcontractors, including law firms, accounting firms and investment banks. These contracts, totaling in the billions a year, are typically awarded to private firms for services like debt issuances and sales of government assets, as well as more general advisory services.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be an all-powerful agency that is all but immune from Congressional oversight and budgetary powers. One person chosen by Barack Obama and approved by the Senate (or appointed by Obama via a recess appointment) will have sweeping powers over the economy. Are minorities -- regardless of credit risk -- being denied credit cards or loans? The Bureau will be on the case. In the Age of Obama it will also be used to ensure that minorities are not just protected but empowered and enriched.
But this is all small beer compared to the stimulus bill.
Government the Employer
Obama's goal in life is to expand the reach, scope and size of the government. A huge portion of the stimulus money was spent so states and cities could continue to meet their payrolls, expand benefits and salaries, and hire new people. Does this show Obama's zest for power and belief that the government should have priority over people? Or is there an additional reason for bolstering the government workforce, for plunging our nation into peonage to the Chinese we borrow billions from every day? Why the love for the public sector; why the vitriol showered on Governor Walker of Wisconsin for trying to make the public sector live within our means?
Walter Russell Mead recently pointed out an interesting statistic in his column "Obamageddon Coming to a City Near You":
Blacks are over-represented in public sector employment: according to the Department of Labor almost 20 percent of employed Blacks work in government (compared to under 15 percent for whites and 11 percent for Hispanics). The public sector is the leading employer of Black men and the second largest employer of Black women.
No less than the New York Times has broached this subject in a recent on-line discussion among various experts on the black population. Katherine Tate is a professor at the University of California and is affiliated with the African-American Studies Program. She recognizes the importance of black elected officials expanding the hiring of blacks in government:
...the expansion of blacks hired for municipal jobs was linked to the participation of blacks as elected officials in the city's dominant governing coalition.
Certainly anyone who has ever lived in Detroit, Cook County or any number of cities across America can understand this dynamic. The stimulus bill, engorged with taxpayer dollars as it was, merely kept the system well-fed and tended.
Many critics of Attorney General Eric Holder feel he has turned the Department of Justice into an affirmative action wrecking ball (see some examples that fit this paradigm in my own previously linked American Thinker column; the New Black Panthers case was a trifle compared to some other actions by the DOJ, and, in particular, its Civil Rights Division). Holder's recent broadside was aimed at banks who have been sued for discrimination and ordered to change their lending policies to qualify more credit-poor borrowers. According to Investor's Business Daily, they have even been ordered to "scrub clean the bad credit histories of minority borrowers who've defaulted on mortgages, thereby allowing them to requalify for loans." Who will pay for the next financial crisis?
The U. S. Sentencing Commission, thanks to Obama's handpicked appointees, has called for shortening the prison terms for "crack" crimes because the mandatory minimum sentences are accused of unfairly targeting blacks. Crimes involving cocaine are perceived to be a rich "white man's drug, while crack is considered an inner-city drug, so the less stringent sentences for cocaine are alleged to be discriminatory via disparate impact doctrine. But, as the Investor's Business Daily editorial "Crack vs. Meth" points out, methamphetamine crimes also carry stiff sentences. Meth crimes predominantly involve white people. Sixty percent of the people sent to the fed pen for meth crimes are white, while only 2% are black. Meth has become the crack of rural America. Yet the Obama administration has not seen fit to lower the sentences for meth crimes. Why? What is the difference between the two crimes?
The head of the Obama-created Diversity Office of the Federal Communications Commission has spoken publicly of forcing white media executives to step down in favor of minorities.
The aforementioned Department of Housing and Urban Development is intent on integrating neighborhoods even where no prejudice exists and has decreed that neighborhoods must seek minority residents. The demographics of Obama's choices for federal judgeships (and for that matter many other top posts, be they Ambassador to the United Nations, EPA administrator, Attorney General, Surgeon General) are so demographically lopsided liberal journalist Mark Halperin facetiously penned a column that was titled "White Men Need Not Apply".
Robert Reich, Obama's former economic advisor, spilled the beans when he told a House panel in 2009 that the jobs created (or, "saved") by stimulus spending should not simply go to "white male construction workers" and that high "social return" (aka, "social justice") should be the goal. Were those shovel-ready jobs just not there because too many whites could have claimed them?
Is it any wonder that Barack Obama is deeply underwater when it comes to white voters? Like voters everywhere, they vote in ways that think will protect their families. Barack Obama retains rock-solid support among African-Americans who may not only be expressing pride but also supporting him because they believe he is supporting them
But perceptive African-Americans see things differently than do Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton, and perhaps Barack Obama. Brilliant thinkers such as Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have written many books and columns decrying the harm that comes to blacks because of government programs that are supposedly designed to help them. Families have been destroyed because of poorly-designed welfare programs. Minimum wage laws have devastated black job figures. Government programs to help blacks may well have widened the wealth gap.
The greatest single impact devastating black wealth was the program that pushed financial institutions to grant mortgages to unqualified borrowers who, when they defaulted on mortgages they could not afford, lost their equity and ruined their credit histories.
Affirmative action programs have engendered skepticism regarding the abilities of the people who have profited from them, and have stoked resentment and racism. They may also be corrosive of the character of the people who have been the beneficiaries. Dependency is not a good thing; it is a bad thing. Any government program that fosters dependency causes harm.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is not a road that will necessarily be the right path for American blacks to follow. Linda Chavez introduced me to a new term in a recent column: schlimmbesserung, a German word that means an effort to make things better that ends up making them worse.
Perhaps, Barack Obama might listen to the sage advice of one of America's greatest thinkers, Shelby Steele. He was asked by playwright David Mamet what could be done to help black Americans. In the saddest voice Mamet had ever heard, Steele answered "leave us alone".
Just that: "Leave us alone."