… no unemployment extensions for poor people, no closing of a single corporate loophole, not one new tax, not one cent of new tax on the rich and the lucky. So once again, the corporations get off scot free, Wall Street and the banks get off scot free. And all these cuts aimed at the poor …
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West gave CNN (you can find the video at that link) plenty of fight back when CNN declared war on the poor yesterday around 7:30 a.m. ET. And yeah, I love the smell of class war in the morning.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by Washington Post propaganda, which dismisses the Smiley-West Poverty Tour as racial grievance politics. As Cornel West states below, the tour is about unifying and amplifying the voice of the poor of every color and ethnicity and culture, about how Obama, the uniparty and the media disappear them, and about the Obama-Congress debt ceiling deal, which Smiley describes as “a declaration of war on the poor.”
Carol Costello and CNN, on the other hand, hiding behind ’a viewer’ and a Heritage Foundation ‘study’, yesterday decided to explicitly attack the poor (the following is a mix of the CNN rush transcript and my own (emphasis added)):
Carol Costello: So we do this thing called talk back every morning on American Morning, and this is the question we asked our viewers: “Do the poor share responsibility for our economic woes?” … I’m just going to read you a response … This is from Stacy, and she says, “Welfare in theory was a good thing, but it has become a way of life for generations. The poor actually have it better than the middle class.” …
Tavis Smiley: … with respect to the person who wrote that, that’s complete lunacy. … That’s really the problem, Carol, in America when you talk about poverty … it’s now become a crime in this country to be poor, and that’s the problem. The poor get dumped on, the poor get piled on, the poor get demonized, we cast aspersions on them and somehow blame them for their lot in life.
Here’s the bottom line, I heard your earlier segment talking about this debt ceiling deal. I think this debt ceiling deal, Carol, was really a declaration of war on the poor. The Congress, the president, respectfully, have declared war on the poor.
You can’t sign into law legislation that raises the debt ceiling, but opens up a crater in the floor. Put another way, no unemployment extensions for poor people, no closing of a single corporate loophole, not one new tax, not one cent of new tax on the rich and the lucky. So once again, the corporations get off scot free, Wall Street and the banks get off scot free. And all these cuts aimed at the poor, how do you blame the poor for that?
Costello: Let me put it this way, Cornell, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization, did this study. They say the poor in America today are unlike the poor in America years ago. Most of the poor in America live in a decent house, they have TVs, they have microwave ovens, they even have a refrigerator. What are they complaining about?
Cornell West: I think that’s a lie. I think what we’ve seen and most poor people recognize the lack of food, the lack of housing, the lack of quality education, which is for white, black, red, and yellow, across color and across cultures, is very real. [He should've mentioned lack of HEALTHCARE! (fairleft)]
But look at it this way, when you got the top 400 americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million. One percent of the population have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
Costello: Yeah, but the argument is those people pay all the taxes in America and the poor don’t pay any.
West: No, but that’s a lie too. Most of the taxes are paid by the middle class. One out of four corporations don’t pay a penny of taxes. … The very head of President Obama’s job commission, of GE, hasn’t paid a penny of taxes in the last two years. …
I love West and Smiley’s lack of hesitation in naming President Obama. He will not notice us otherwise. But we need to carry it beyond being noticed. The left, the middle class, the poor, all of us need President Obama to fear us and our voting power.
As I’ve written previously, I hope the very highly skilled and likeable Smiley considers running for President in the Democratic Party primaries next year. In the CNN exchange he gets exactly right the tone with which a righteous but humane class war can be carried forward. Lead us, brother!
And then there’s Jesse Jackson
If you want to see how to get the tone and the whole game wrong, read Jesse Jackson’s latest op-ed, Fix is in against working Americans. Jackson whines about the bipartisan budget-cutting commission and its likely deal: “Bipartisan balance. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare for the elderly and the poor. “Balanced” by cuts in mortgage and health deductions for working people.” But who proposed cutting Social Security and Medicare, who forced them onto the negotiating table when the Republicans didn’t wanna go there? You won’t find his name in Jackson’s column.
Jackson concludes: “The fix is in. The only way to derail this deal is for the people to speak loudly — and let Washington know we aren’t falling for the con.” Washington? Jesse, President Obama is the problem and until you make him pay a price for _his_ attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the fix is definitely in and you, the left and the poor are just laying down and waiting to be stepped on. But make it personal, threaten to challenge in 2012 the man you helped elect in 2008, and the politician in Obama may calculate that he doesn’t want to face the unified wrath of the millions he is attacking.
P.S. A couple comments at the HuffPost article that reported the CNN/Smiley/West ‘fight’:
“poor Americans lived relatively comfortably” says the rich white woman…Perfect picture of what is wrong in this country.
Yeah, CNN, show solidarity for the Rich and powerful. Way to go “The Most Trusted Name in News.” What a cruel and immoral slant on reality. Now whose party will you attend this evening, Ms Costello? Will they have the best hors d’oeuvre?
P.S.2 - More from Smiley and West here.