A listener from Berkeley, CA takes Smiley & West to task for being too respectful of President Obama.

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Now that was a great exchange, right at the heart of the matter and what I face as I try to encourage people to vote.  While I hate many aspects of the empire, war, the rape of the planet, the injustice that some of us endure and the  economic inequality of it's citizens, how do  I help to make the changes that are needed for a better world. And, knowing that progress will be slow.  The Prez is just a continuation of the revolution that started back in the sixties. Before there is a President Kucinich, there has to be Obama and many more like him more and more progressive.  The country can only stand such a revolution in small non-violent increments.

Yes, Johnson was better than Goldwater, but that was only because of the level of rebellion happening at the time.  I'm with Howard Zinn in that it's the people that make the better laws regardless of who is in office.

Your caller asks, "...if we know that a particular individual is responsible for things that are morally reprehensible, even if we know at the same time that that same person has done other things that we like, does that mean we should say we respect that person?  Like, if we have a teacher that we like at school and then find out later that that person was molesting children, would we say, 'It's true that he molested children, but he taught a good math class, and I respect him for that.'"

I think the answer is yes.  You can respect people for different reasons: accomplishments, knowledge, skills, moral character, work ethic, etc.  So, respect for someone isn't necessarily all-or-nothing.  As for morality, I think it is safe to say most people are not angels.  We are complex.  We can be both good and bad.  It's hard to imagine anyone who is one-dimensional the way fictional characters are sometimes made to be.

I think it's been shown that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., plagiarized part of his doctoral dissertation (http://www.snopes.com/history/american/mlking.asp).  I think it's also well-known that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not completely faithful to his wife. When I learned those things my respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., diminished, but I still respect him greatly for what he did for the civil rights movement.

I've changed my mind about the answer to the caller's question.

How much respect I would lose for someone who made a mistake or committed a violation or crime would depend on the seriousness of the mistake/violation/crime. Your caller used the example of a child molestor.  The magnitude of that crime is such that I think I would lose complete respect for the criminal regardless of his past skills or achievements.  So, in the example given by the caller, my answer is "No".

I have been prompted by your caller's question to read about the use of attack drones in the war.  I listened to your piece, "Hot Stuff: Deadly U.S. Drones".  I also read The Bureau of Investigative Journalism's report "Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals".  The use of drones to strike rescuers and people attending funerals is reprehensible.  President Obama claims, "this thing is kept on a very tight leash."  After reading the TBIJ report, Obama's claim is hard to believe.  I now have a better appreciation of why your caller asked the question he did, and I have to say that my respect for President Obama has diminished since learning about what he is allowing the CIA to do with drones.

Thank you for making me aware of this issue.

There are many things I don't understand about our dear President. I do not agree with everything he has done or said. However, I have yet for anyone to answer this question: WHAT OTHER CANDIDATE IS BETTER THAN PRESIDENT OBAMA? On the one hand I hear, so much criticism for each and everything he does. We forget, President Obama is NOT a superman, a God nor is he Jesus or Muhammad. There are limits to what he can and cannot do in this society, even as a president and especially as a black one. On the other hand, some of you are encouraging people to not vote at all and that is a dire mistake. Others just want to rebel against the president  by voting in anyone not associated with him. Be very careful what you wish for, you can get much worse. If you disagree with the President, voice your opinions, you have every right to do that. Nonetheless, holding hatred and grudges are not very wise political sense. I'm voting for the one who has done better than most presidents I know and who is the lest of evils. That is President Obama. Also, treat people with respect, like you want to be treated.

Peace and Love

Sis Jackie

@ Jacquelyn N'Jai

Well said.  I agree wholeheartedly.  He is President of the United States, not King of the United States.  I think he has faced greater opposition, animosity and disrespect from Congress and many Americans than has any other President in my lifetime - possibly of any President in history.  I do not believe that ideological differences alone can account for all the opposition, hatred and disrespect conservatives have shown towards President Obama.  When was the last time a whole political party set as its number one goal the defeat of the President, and said so publicly?  I have to believe that racism is a big part of it.  Add to that the fact that Obama became President during the worst economic crisis the world has seen since the "Great Depression".  I think he is doing his personal best. Having said that, I will add that I wish President Obama were stronger leader.  I wish he would drop the "let's work together" mantra, and instead openly "battle" with Republicans.  I wish he were a better speaker so that he could articulate his ideas in a way that would inspire more people.  Despite what I view as his imperfections, I still intend to vote for President Obama.  He's the only candidate that comes close to representing my values and interests.  My disappointment with Obama is still far, far less than my disgust for conservatives.

Dr. West, I have been listing to you and have a great amount of respect for you, but I hard you mention to young people to listen to JZ on a high moment and that statement caught my attention… My question to you is what you have in common with JZ... I know that the the devil will come in a form that we trust… You have confused me with that statement…

1377 views, and only five people have commented here.   Where is the discussion taking place?

The FEAR PROPAGANDA:

The Bush administration preyed upon many people's fear to get them to accept war and to not retaliate against the US for its war crimes. When one is a bully society it will try anything to scare folks into submission. To me, I think these drone planes are another such tactic. But does that make President Obama the same as the rapist teacher mentioned above...who does not deserve respect? Can president Obama order the CIA/FBI to stop these planes or does it take the House of Senate/Congress et al who opposes everything he does to? The issue is, does a president (a black one) have power above and beyond, or outside of Congress. Is President Obama a one man power house that dictates all that happens in the USA? How do we explain the problems that were in place prior to his election? The racist republicans have done a great job at blaming the fall guy for each and every thing that takes place in this society. I did not hear anyone blame Bush for the 911 murders of innocent people. I did not hear any white president blamed for all of the problems that exist in this society like I do President Obama. Maybe we need to understand what are his real powers as a president or is he like other blacks in this country who work on jobs, being subjected to the white powers to be?

Here is a start or a break down of the powers of a president, even though since President Obama came into office each and everything he has tried to do was attacked and voted against:

"

The position of the president dominates American Politics. The president is head of America’s executive; Congress heads America's legislative and the Supreme Court, America's judiciary. These three parts of the government, make up the federal structure of politics in America.

Usually the only two elected members of the Executive are the president and the vice-president. The president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces - a position he takes immediately on taking the oath of office.

The president does not govern by himself. "The president of America is not the government of the US." (Bowles) The government of America is by co-operation and the theory is that the executive, legislative and judiciary should work together in harmony to formulate policy.

The president has to seek co-operation but he also has to be seen to be leading the nation. This is one of the great ironies of being ‘the most powerful man in the world’. As the leader of his nation he has to be seen to lead yet he is frequently engaged in negotiations etc. (either personally or by proxy) with politicians based in the Capitol. Instances do exist where this co-operation has broken down but it is rare and it is usual for all three partners in government to work together as anything else discredits the whole system. In the past, when a breakdown has occurred, Congress has received the blame thus giving the president an edge over it as an institution.

For normal day-to-day purposes the president has to accept that senators and representatives have their own legitimate power bases and these have to be recognised. " by http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/pres1.htm

With that said, WHY DOES EVERYONE BLAME AN INDIVIDUAL MAN FOR ALL THE POST AND PAST, AND PRESENT PROBLEMS HE DID NOT CAUSE, AT BEST NOT BY HIMSELF?

So the question is president Obama being used as a scapegoat? 

From the CIA's web site FAQ:

"... both the Congress and the executive branch oversee the CIA’s activities"

"In the Executive Branch, the National Security Council—including the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense—provides guidance and direction for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as other committees, closely monitor the Agency’s reporting and programs. The CIA is not a policy-making organization; it advises the Director of National Intelligence on matters of foreign intelligence, and it conducts covert actions at the direction of the President."

I could be wrong, but I believe President Obama could stop the CIA from using drones the way it does.

Does President Obama's decision to use drones the way they are used make him "the same as the rapist teacher mentioned above...who does not deserve respect?"  No, of course not.  As you posted above, the President is the command-in-chief.  He must make decisions about war - whether he wants to or not.  He might make some bad decisions, but I am sure he makes decisions based on what he believes is best for the country.  A child molester is a sadistic predator, seeking sexual gratification by destroying innocence.  There is no moral comparison.

You ask if President Obama is being used as a scapegoat.  Yes.  It is conservatives and racists, not "everybody", who blame President Obama for "...all the post and past, and present problems..."  They use lies and half-truths to frighten people about the changes President Obama and other Democrats have made, have tried to make, and propose to make.

I haven't listened to Tavis or Dr. Cornell enough to know all they've said about President Obama, but I have never heard them demonize President Obama the way conservatives have.  I have heard them express disappointment that President Obama has not focused his attention on the issue of poverty in America, and criticism about his use of drones.

In short, there is a difference between destructive and constructive criticism.

Thanks for you input. I agree "there is a difference between destructive and constructive criticism." I never heard Smilely and West spitting out hatred on Obama either. I have however heard a number of people on this site talking about President Obama in a hateful manner to the point where they pray that he loses. I criticize the President on a number of issues and so have others. There are many occasions that he recognized he was wrong and compromised (i.e. changed) his position. Let us not forget this is the first time he was a president and this is the first recognized black one. There is 150% more pressure on him than any other president in the entire world.  Note what you said above, 


""In the Executive Branch, the National Security Council—including the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense—provides guidance and direction for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as other committees, closely monitor the Agency’s reporting and programs. The CIA is not a policy-making organization; it advises the Director of National Intelligence on matters of foreign intelligence, and it conducts covert actions at the direction of the President." 


WHY HAVE NOT ANY ONE IN THESE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT (OUTSIDE OF OBAMA) oppose drones? Are they not to blame as well? 

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