Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama Drill Team

The same friend I mentioned in the previous post was concerned about a story that was forwarded to her in an email.

She prefaced her email to me with:

"I find it interesting that my Republican friends are always looking for something negative about Democrats, yet my Democratic friends never forward negative things about the Republicans. Now I don't believe for one minute it is because there is nothing negative about Republicans. I do think it is rather telling though, don't you?"

This was the email she was concerned about:

"Subject: Have you seen this? Yikes!!!!!!

I would think this video ought to make people a bit nervous.

Alpha omega is generally used to describe God or Jesus.

This is really eerie. With the uniforms and almost worship like devotion to their God Obama.

Creeps me out. Reminds me of the devotion the youth had to Hitler.

Here is what they are saying:

GROUP: Alpha, omega, alpha, omega, alpha, omega.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next doctor.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next lawyer.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next automotive technician.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next sheriff.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next architect.

VOICE: Because Obama, I am inspired to be the next engineer.

VOICE: Because of Obama, I'm inspired to be the next fireman.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Yes, we can.

VOICE: Obama's health care plan will simplify paperwork for providers.

VOICE: Obama's health care plan will provide subsidies for families who cannot afford Medicaid.

VOICE: Obama's health care plan will be able to provide participants the ability to move from job to job without changing their health care coverage.

VOICE: Obama's health care plan will extend coverage to young adults up to the age of 25 through their parents' plan.

VOICE: Drill team, retreat."

Now, Midtown Miscreant, had an excellent primer on this very subject. His basic, earth shattering, and incredibly insightful point was that black folk and white folk don't behave in the same way.

While I find the recitation of wonky health care policy esoterica to be a bit bizarre, this was my response to my friend and to the video:

"I fail to see anything negative in that video. Educated, organized, motivated, disciplined urban young males who want to be involved in the process and improve themselves.

I'm inspired to be the next doctor.

I'm inspired to be the next lawyer.

I'm inspired to be the next automotive technician.

I'm inspired to be the next sheriff.

I'm inspired to be the next architect.

I'm inspired to be the next engineer.

I'm inspired to be the next fireman.

I don't hear anything threatening in that liturgy.

So what if they were part of a High School Drill Team to better themselves?

The United States Marine Corps has Drill Teams.

The United States Air Force has Drill Teams.

The United States Navy has Drill Teams.

The United States Army has Drill Teams.

The United States Coast Guard has Drill Teams.

The Armed Forces Drill Teams all have one thing in common.

They are rooted in a tradition of killing people and breaking things. Because that's their job. It's why they all carry rifles.

These so called "Obama Youth" don't carry any weapons. They just want to grow up without getting gunned down or going to jail.

They just want to get educated and get a good job."

Since the Republican de-regulated economy has flushed all of our retirement dreams down the crapper like the noxious remains of 50 cent fish taco night at the local VFW, we will all probably wind up as 75 year old "entry level employees" working for one of these chest slapping go-getters.

I suggest that you get used to the idea that the typical, American demographic profile is shifting.

Us Hip Suburban (northern European) White Guys are sliding down the slippery slope to minority status in America.

And that's O.K. We had a good run. We got to fuck up a lot of stuff, play with some cool toys, get rich and make "other people" pay our bills.

It's time to give some other people a shot at the American Dream. I'm excited to see what they do with it.

Adapt or perish. It's the American Way.


Poodles said...


Midtown Miscreant said...

It's not what they are saying that has peoples panties twisted, it's the visual. good piece and dead on.

Spyder said...

I wonder how the republicans would have felt if the kids had been wearing clothes that sagged? I think these kids should be encouraged. They are like salmon swimming up stream & need all the help they can get.

KC Sponge said...

I finally watched this video yesterday and sat in my car and cried. I can not believe that anyone would watch that with anything less than pride for these young kids, anything less than admiration for a man that through his service to his community and country and running a fairly clean and honest campaign who could inspire these young, black men to aspire to become more than they have dreamed in the past (and more than anyone watching this video in 'fear' or disgust would ever give them the chance to become), or anything less than kudos to the teacher who probably educated them on the specific policy issues, and allowed them to explore unconventional ways to present their research. If it were young, white boys standing at attention singing barbershop quartet songs about McCain's service to our country and their admiration to their hero - this would NOT be an issue, no one would DARE call it militant, and we would see it played on warm and fuzzy tv spots everywhere next to video of little 3 year olds' kissing Obama's picture.
I must be one un-patriotic bitch because every day I am finding it harder and harder to be proud to be an American. And for all those people who hold patriotism above all else - including humanity, empathy, and even God-damned common sense . . . You can have mine, too, because while I appreciate everything my country is supposed to stand for, all the liberties it affords to me, and every man and woman who has ever fought, suffered or died in it's name, in MY life,to keep me sane and to continue to live amongst my neighbors and feel good about who I am and who I am teching my daughter to be - I will always put PEOPLE first.

emawkc said...

"Since the Republican de-regulated economy has flushed all of our retirement dreams down the crapper "

Your gross oversimplification of the economy would seriously undermine your credibility if you had any.

Don't get me wrong. It's funny, but for the wrong reason. It's like listening to a fifth grader explain sexual intercourse.

As for the Obama Youth video, I think the problem is that it shows how a public school teacher is using taxpayer money to indoctrinate the students.

But as I noted on MM's post, I don't think there's much damage being done other than a few misguided youth. At least they're being misguided to put all their hopes and dreams into Obama rather than P. Diddy.

m.v. said...

the reason this video caused controversy is because it was done in a public school. did you cry when boy-scouts get kicked out?. I imagine you didn't. Go to whatever community center or your basement and shoot away. I also agree with Emaw the Great about how you present the crisis to be "republicans' fault". From 1992-2000 there was a democratic president who could veto any legislation, he didn't. there were plenty of democrats in congress who could vote against anything they wanted, including the war in Iraq, they didn't. if there was a legislation for all democrats to jump of the cliff, would they vote for it? why did they not fight "evil deregulation". why no legislation was passed on the subject in the last 2 years, even if they knew bush would veto it. the irony is that you are electing even more of these crooks, pussies and contribution-whores somehow hoping that they will stand for you,although you can't say when was the last time they did. the worst kind of bullshit is the one even you know is not true but you say it anyway just because you enjoy hearing yourself say it.

Xavier Onassis said...

emaw and meesha - Want the full story? Fine.

Clinton, Republicans agree to deregulation of US financial system

By Martin McLaughlin 1 November 1999

An agreement between the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans, reached during all-night negotiations which concluded in the early hours of October 22, sets the stage for passage of the most sweeping banking deregulation bill in American history, lifting virtually all restraints on the operation of the giant monopolies which dominate the financial system.

The proposed Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 would do away with restrictions on the integration of banking, insurance and stock trading imposed by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, one of the central pillars of Roosevelt's New Deal. Under the old law, banks, brokerages and insurance companies were effectively barred from entering each others' industries, and investment banking and commercial banking were separated.

The certain result of repeal of Glass-Steagall will be a wave of mergers surpassing even the colossal combinations of the past several years. The Wall Street Journal wrote, "With the stroke of the president's pen, investment firms like Merrill Lynch & Co. and banks like Bank of America Corp., are expected to be on the prowl for acquisitions." The financial press predicted that the most likely mergers would come from big banks acquiring insurance companies, with John Hancock, Prudential and The Hartford all expected to be targeted.

Kenneth Guenther, executive vice president of Independent Community Bankers of America, an association of small rural banks which opposed the bill, warned, "This is going to begin a wave of major mergers and acquisitions in the financial-services industry. We're moving to an oligopolistic situation."

One such merger was already carried out well before the passage of the legislation, the $72 billion deal which brought together Citibank, the biggest New York bank, and Travelers Group Inc., the huge insurance and financial services conglomerate, which owns Salomon Smith Barney, a major brokerage. That merger was negotiated despite the fact that the merged company, Citigroup, was in violation of the Glass-Steagall Act, because billionaire Travelers boss Sanford Weill and Citibank CEO John Reed were confident of bipartisan support for repeal of the 60-year-old law.

Campaign of influence-buying

They had good reason, to be sure. The banking, insurance and brokerage industry lobbyists have combined their forces over the last five years to mount the best-financed campaign of influence-buying ever seen in Washington. In 1997 and 1998 alone, the three industries spent over $300 million on the effort: $58 million in campaign contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates, $87 million in "soft money" contributions to the Democratic and Republican parties, and $163 million on lobbying of elected officials.

The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Texas Republican Phil Gramm, himself collected more than $1.5 million in cash from the three industries during the last five years: $496,610 from the insurance industry, $760,404 from the securities industry and $407,956 from banks.

During the final hours of negotiations between the House-Senate conference committee and White House and Treasury officials, dozens of well-heeled lobbyists crowded the corridors outside the room where the final deal-making was going on. Edward Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, told the New York Times, "If I had to guess, I would say it's probably the most heavily lobbied, most expensive issue" in a generation.

While Democratic and Republican congressmen and industry lobbyists claimed that deregulation would spark competition and improve services to consumers, the same claims have proven bogus in the case of telecommunications, airlines and other industries freed from federal regulations. Consumer groups noted that since the passage of a 1994 banking deregulation bill which permitted bank holding companies to operate in more than one state, both checking fees and ATM fees have risen sharply.

Differing versions of financial services deregulation passed the House and Senate earlier this year, and the conference committee was called to work out a consensus bill and avert a White House veto. The principal bone of contention in the last few days before the agreement had nothing to do with the central thrust of the bill, on which there was near-unanimous bipartisan support.

The sticking point was the effort by Gramm to gut the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 anti-redlining law which requires that banks make a certain proportion of their loans in minority and poor neighborhoods. Gramm blocked passage of a similar deregulation bill last year over demands to cripple the CRA, and bank lobbyists were in a panic, during the week before the deal was made, that the dispute would once again prevent any bill from being adopted.

Gramm and other extreme-right Republicans saw the opportunity to damage their political opponents among minority businessmen and community groups, who generally support the Democratic Party. Gramm succeeded in inserting two provisions to weaken the CRA, one reducing the frequency of examinations for CRA compliance to once every five years for smaller banks, the other compelling public disclosure of loans made under the program.

The latter provision was particularly offensive to black and other minority business and community groups, who have used the CRA provisions as a lever by threatening to challenge mergers and other bank operations which require government approval. In most such cases, the banks have offered loans to businessmen or outright grants to community groups in return for dropping their legal actions. These petty-bourgeois elements have been able to posture as defenders of the black or Hispanic community, while pocketing what are essentially payoffs from finance capital and concealing from the public the details of this relationship.

The banks and other financial institutions did not themselves oppose continuation of the CRA, which they have treated as nothing more than a cost of doing a highly profitable business in minority areas. Loans tied to the CRA average a 20 percent rate of return. Financial industry lobbyists complained that they were being caught in a crossfire between the Republicans and Democrats which was unrelated to the main purpose of the bill.

The Clinton White House threatened to veto the bill if CRA provisions were substantially weakened, in response to heavy pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, whose Operation PUSH has made extensive use of CRA in its campaigns to pressure corporations and banks for more opportunities for black businessmen. But eventually the White House caved in to Gramm, accepting his amendments so long as the program remained formally in place.

The White House similarly retreated on pledges that consumer privacy would be protected in the legislation. Consumer groups pointed to the potential for abuse of financial information once giant conglomerates were created which would handle loans, investments and insurance at the same time. For example: a bank could refuse to give a 30-year mortgage to a customer whose medical records, filed with the bank's insurance subsidiary, revealed a fatal disease.

The final draft of the bill contains a consumer privacy protection clause, but it is extremely weak, applying only to the transfer of information outside of a financial conglomerate, not within it. Thus Citigroup will be able to pass on financial information about its bank depositors to Travelers Insurance, but not to an outside company like Prudential. Even that limitation would be breached if there was a contractual relationship with the outside company, as in the case of a telemarketer which did work for Citigroup and was given private information about Citigroup depositors to aid in its telephone solicitations.

Threat to financial stability

The proposed deregulation will increase the degree of monopolization in finance and worsen the position of consumers in relation to creditors. Even more significant is its impact on the overall stability of US and world capitalism. The bill ties the banking system and the insurance industry even more directly to the volatile US stock market, virtually guaranteeing that any significant plunge on Wall Street will have an immediate and catastrophic impact throughout the US financial system.

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which the deregulation bill would repeal, was not adopted to protect consumers, although one of its most celebrated provisions was the establishment of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which guarantees bank deposits of up to $100,000. The law was enacted during the first 100 days of the Roosevelt administration to rescue a banking system which had collapsed, wiping out the life savings of millions of working people, and threatening to bring the profit system to a complete standstill.

As a recent history of that era notes: "The more than five thousand bank failures between the Crash and the New Deal's rescue operation in March 1933 wiped out some $7 billion in depositors' money. Accelerating foreclosures on defaulted home mortgages—150,000 homeowners lost their property in 1930, 200,000 in 1931, 250,000 in 1932—stripped millions of people of both shelter and life savings at a single stroke and menaced the balance sheets of thousands of surviving banks" (David Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 162-63).

The separation of banking and the stock exchange was ordered in response to revelations of the gross corruption and manipulation of the market by giant banking houses, above all the House of Morgan, which organized huge corporate mergers for its own profit and awarded preferential access to share issues to favored politicians and businessmen. Such insider trading played a major role in the speculative boom which preceded the 1929 crash.

Over the past 20 years the restrictions imposed by Glass-Steagall have been gradually relaxed under pressure from the banks, which sought more profitable outlets for their capital, especially in the booming stock market, and which complained that foreign competitors suffered no such limitations to their financial operations. In 1990 the Federal Reserve Board first permitted a bank (J.P. Morgan) to sell stock through a subsidiary, although stock market operations were limited to 10 percent of the company's total revenue. In 1996 this ceiling was lifted to 25 percent. Now it will be abolished.

The Wall Street Journal celebrated the agreement to end such restrictions with an editorial declaring that the banks had been unfairly scapegoated for the Great Depression. The headline of one Journal article detailing the impact of the proposed law declared, "Finally, 1929 Begins to Fade."

This comment underscores the greatest irony in the banking deregulation bill. Legislation first adopted to save American capitalism from the consequences of the 1929 Wall Street Crash is being abolished just at the point where the conditions are emerging for an even greater speculative financial collapse. The enormous volatility in the stock exchange in recent months has been accompanied by repeated warnings that stocks are grossly overvalued, with some computer and Internet stocks selling at prices 100 times earnings or even greater.

And there is a much more recent experience than 1929 to serve as a cautionary tale. A financial deregulation bill was passed in the early 1980s under the Reagan administration, lifting many restrictions on the activities of savings and loan associations, which had previously been limited primarily to the home-loan market. The result was an orgy of speculation, profiteering and outright plundering of assets, culminating in collapse and the biggest financial bailout in US history, costing the federal government more than $500 billion. The repetition of such events in the much larger banking and securities markets would be beyond the scope of any federal bailout.

Copyright 1998-2008


m.v. said...

Exactly my point,in 1999 Clinton was NOT up for re-election, he had nothing to lose,he could have vetoed it in a heartbeat. Instead your own article uses words "caved" and "retreated". So did the rest of the democrats.In 1999 the ratio of democrats to republicans was was 45/52 in the senate and 211/223 in the house (1 independent),hardly enough to overwrite a veto. if democrats knew this was wrong they shouldn't have voted for it, and if they did, they should shut the fuck up and blame themselves.

Xavier Onassis said...

mm - that's exactly the problem. People who react to image above substance.

spyder - couldn't agree more.

kc sponge - "...If it were young, white boys standing at attention singing barbershop quartet songs about McCain's service to our country and their admiration to their hero - this would NOT be an issue..." EXACTLY.

emaw - "I think the problem is that it shows how a public school teacher is using taxpayer money to indoctrinate the students." They are high school students! They can't even vote! At their age it isn't about indoctrination it is about engagement and making them feel like they are a part of this country and can be whatever they want to be.

If you think you can accomplish that by dressing them in "Junior Naval Aviator Dress Whites", teaching them to salute pictures of McCain as their "Official Commanding Officer" and sing "Anchors Aweigh" I'm afraid you may be mistaken.

These kids have enough strikes against them. I am 100% in favor of any effective tool that an educator can find that will keep these kids in school, away from drugs and crime and striving for success.

Who in the fuck can that possibly be a bad thing?

meesha - the Boy Scouts got kicked out because of their requirement that members profess a belief in God. That was a violation of the separation of church and state. If the Boy Scouts didn't require a belief in a Christian God there wouldn't be a problem.

Xavier Onassis said...

meesha - The Republicans held a veto-proof majority and they were driving this legislation. Don't try to blame the Democrats for failing to make a completely symbolic gesture of walking in front of a speeding bus (although I would have been happier if they had).

Make no mistake about it, this was a Republican driven, Free Market agenda that put us EXACTLY where we are today.

But I guess I'm what Phil Graham would call a "whiner".

As I recall, he's still pretty fucking rich, right?

m.v. said...

I must be using some Russian math- because veto-proof majority in the house is 290 and in senate is 67, I gave you numbers earlier "45/52 in the senate and 211/223 in the house (1 independent)", so I am not sure how is that veto-proof. Make no mistake: republicans did what they were elected to do- fuck the little guy, and the democrats who are supposedly THE party of little guys,unions, minorities,and other "oppressed", failed to do what they were elected to do, instead they also lined up to fuck the little guy. no matter how many times and how loud you can say the opposite, it's still not true. by the way, you know who else is still "pretty fucking rich" - Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Edwards,John Kerry, Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd and Obama is not broke himself with anywhere from .8 to 1.3 million depending who is counting.

Spyder said...

XO Have I told you I love yuou latelu? Good job! sory i'm drunk. it but i mean

emawkc said...

"At their age it isn't about indoctrination..."

Oh, XO. To quote Michael Corleone, "Now who's being naive."

emawkc said...


Believe me, I can totally get why you and others need to take a partisan view of this issue. It does make your life a lot easier.

I actually thought you might be getting it with the passage you posted above, but your response to meesha shows that you evidently didn't read the passage you posted above.

Anyway, most reasonable people can easily see how the screwing of America was a 100% bipartisan effort. Anyone who doesn't automatically believe anything that reinforces her own prejudices could see that.

Xavier Onassis said...

emaw - You are trying to cloud the issue with inside politics. Just answer this one, simple question:

Which party, Republican or Democratic, favors DEREGULATION of commerce and unfettered greed?

Another question. Which party, Republican or Democratic, believes that government has a legitimate role to play in imposing restrictions on the rampant greed of an otherwise unrestricted Free Market in order to prevent the type of abuse that lead us to our current situation?

Free market Republicans got us into this mess.

Adequate regulation and oversight would have prevented it.

travel said...

Getting into this discussion a little late, but don't kid yourselves. These politicians on both sides look out for themselves before they do us. It has little to do with $$$ and everything to do with votes. They don't give a shit about $$$ since they are all already rich but they do damn well care about their power. They are greedy for power, for personal aggrandizement, and they need our votes to keep them on their mother fucking perches.

The dems cry out for the little guy meanwhile fucking them - literally setting them up to fail - so they can come back later and "save" them with government programs. Didn't we learn that from the welfare society? Apparently we didn't when we offered somebody with an IQ of 80 an adjustable rate mortgage with no down, no job and no assets.

The repubs on the other hand are trying to convince us that we should understand why somebody making a million dollars a year should pay the same tax rate as somebody making 90K a year because that person making a million dollars a year provides us our jobs and feeds our family. They think we should actually be grateful to Republican politicians while plowing their fields so they can sit on the porch drinking lemonade. They have used fear to convince us to vote Republican.

A pox on both their houses. I am so sick of this bullshit I can't see straight.