Wattree's picture

    Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Boyce Watkins: The Treacherous Trio

    During these dire times it is incumbent upon the Black community to recognize, assess, and correct the historic flaws in our mores that represent the self-hating and destructive remnants of our past history of slavery. We are now faced with such a moment.
    The insidious intellectual assault on the Black community posed by Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West seems to have gained the able assistance of Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University. So ‘The Dangerous Duo’ have now morphed into ‘The Treacherous Trio.’ While I’m always reluctant to base an article on an ad hominous (corruption of ‘ad hominem’) argument, when dealing with the kind of historically treacherous, petulant, hypocritical, and self-righteous delusions of grandeur that these three individuals represent, it’s impossible to avoid - at least, if one is truly intent on aggressively beating back the gross manipulation of the Black community.
    It was no accident that with the announcement that Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry had been given her own show on MSNBC that Cornel West and Boyce Watkins immediately chimed in with an intense campaign of invective and criticism of Dr. Perry. Their behavior was so predictably transparent that it was like deja vu all over again. It’s a classic case of crabs in a barrel. Both their petulant behavior and motivation is inspired by the exact same petty emotions that’s caused them to brutally attack Barack Obama - bitter envy and the fear of being eclipsed in the Black community.
    There is clear evidence of that. Specifically, while Cornel West is renowned for alleging that all he cares about is what’s in the best interest of ‘his people,’ immediately after the announcement of Dr. Perry’s new show on MSNBC he’s been quoted as saying that she’s "a liar and a fraud." How does such an attack on a brilliant young Black woman’s elevation into the public eye benefit ‘his people?’ Doesn't the Black community benefit tremendously from having America exposed to another intelligent Black voice, whether that voice agrees with Cornel West or not? If West truly believed in the utter nonsense that he espouses the answer to that qusetion would go without saying. So why is West trying to undermine her public image? Thus, while West contends that he's supportive of the Black community, his behavior reflects otherwise.
    So whether it’s due to intense envy, sour grapes, or the early onset of senility, West has been repeatedly betraying his carefully crafted persona of the selfless Black intellectual of late. I first began to recognize it on the very day that, then, Sen. Barack Obama threw his hat in the ring to run for President of the United States. West immediately began to criticize Obama's election team, questioned where he was getting his money to run for office, and then he challenged Obama with the question of "How much do you love your people?" That took place before the nation and a grinning Tavis Smiley during Tavis’ ‘State of the Black Union’ broadcast. It appeared to be in direct response to Sen. Obama’s failure to postpone his announcement and appear on the broadcast to kiss Tavis’ ring.
    But West seems to have no shame when it comes to either his own self-interest, or, monitoring which way the wind is blowing, so in spite of the public spectacle that he engaged in on behalf of Tavis Smiley, once it became clear that Obama actually had a chance to win the election, West didn’t hesitate to go on the road to campaign for him.
    But after Obama won the presidency and West failed to receive the goodies that he obviously expected, yet again,West betrayed his image as the selfless Black intellectual - but this time his petulance revealed itself in all of its arrogant, petty, and condescending glory.
    This time West not only criticized the first Black President of the United States as "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats," he then went on to say, "I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men." So not only was West grossly disrespectful of President Obama as president, but then, in the very finest tradition of a common sheet-wearing racist, he publically slandered the president as a Black man as well.
    So if Cornel West’s reckless verbal assault on the President of the United States was not enough to completely discredit him as a public intellectual - or an intellectual of any sort, for that matter - the mere fact that he shot off his mouth without being able to substantiate one syllable of his allegations certainly should have. In addition, his public disrespect for the first Black President of the United States was not only disrespectful of the institution and the president himself, but it was also a disrespectful assault on the Black community as a whole. It seemed to indicate that since Obama was Black, that he didn't warrant the respect of previous white presidents.
    Thereafter, many of West’s colleagues and supporters attempted to justify his behavior by trying to conjure up some higher purpose that his blatantly irresponsible rant was serving. But their hope of restoring some dignity to his image was dashed when it was revealed that the entire episode - a public tirade that will certainly go down in the annals of historic stupidity - came about for no other reason than the fact that Cornel West felt slighted because he failed to receive tickets to the inauguration, and the future President of the United States failed to return his personal phone calls.
    Then, if that wasn't petty enough, what was really telling was his attitude toward one of the gentlemen who did manage to get tickets to the inauguration. West was quoted as saying . . . "I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration."
    Now, consider the mindset of this man. What makes West think that he’s more deserving of a ticket than the brother who picks up his bags? I don’t know how West supporters feel about it, but that sounds absolutely nothing like a brother who believes so passionately in human equality that he reportedly gets ten thousand dollars a speech to espouse his point of view. Actually, it sounds more like an irate brat who suffers from an intense sense of superior entitlement.

    So am I surprised by West’s unscholarly attack on Dr. Perry’s good fortune? Not at all. I’ve come to expect it from him. In an Ebony article, A Black Woman’s "Life of the Mind" is Her Own: Melissa Harris Perry, Dr. Kimberly Ellis indicates that in spite of the fact that Dr. Perry was recruited to Princeton by West, when she came up for a full-professorship she was denied, and West was involved in the process. So it would seem that while West has a mantra of publically espousing how much he loves his people, when he’s cloistered from public view within the walls of academia his true character begins to surface, a character that seems to be gradually oozing from beneath the ivy covered walls and into the public domain.

    And if you watch closely, you’ll notice that West’s character and poor judgement is becoming ever more pronounced in his defenders and the people who become publically associated with him. I’ve watched that process taking place in Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University. In his article, "A Very Bad Reason to Vote for the Democrats," Watkins says, "If you want my vote, you must address my issues…if you’re too busy to address my issues, then I’m too busy to vote for you. PERIOD."
    While that sounds quite reasonable - at least, at first blush - the logical question to ask in response to Watkins' proclamation is, then who does he suggest that we vote for, the GOP lunatics that even the Republican voters don’t want? Or maybe he’s suggesting that we just sit on our hands and let the lunatics vote themselves into office. Either way, that would be absolutely devastating to the Black community.
    Thus, with so-called intellectuals like these, the black community doesn’t need any enemies. So, while I was already a fan of Dr. Perry, even if I'd never heard of her before, once any one of The Treacherous Trio began to criticized her, that alone would have served as a ringing endorsement.


    Eric L. Wattree
    [email protected]
    Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
    Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


    Oh, Wattree, always such a pleasure to have the opportunity to read, support and save your posts to share with others via e mail.  (Always a good thing to inform and inspire others to recognize the real in our country's reality!)

    I quit giving Travis Smiley and his ilk any credibility long ago.  Truth is, I consider both he and West to be bigots and gas bags whose agendas are based on 'look at us, we're the smartest, most savvy, special ones'. I use the term bigots based on some of the behaviors cited in your post, whether it be ethnicity and/or socio-economic based attitudes.

    Thanks again for standin' up and speakin' out!

    Thank you, so much, aunt Sam.

    I've had the pleasure of hearing Jesse Jackson, Jr. give a good speech in which he elaborated on the "crabs in a barrel" analogy, but for those who aren't familiar with it, this explains it:

    A bunch of crabs were sitting in a barrel at a seafood restaurant, waiting to be cooked. One of them said to the others, "Hey, you know what, if we all climb to the top and push on the lid, it'll come off and then we can escape."

    The other crabs all laughed. They knew it was impossible to escape. What could this foolish dreamer be thinking? It was nonsense. Couldn't be done. Not even worth trying.

    After a few minutes, when it was clear he wouldn't be getting any help, the one hopeful crab climbed up and started pushing on the lid alone. The other crabs just laughed harder, until they heard a faint creaking noise and realized that the lid was starting to shift a little. Then they all got angry. How dare one crab try to escape by himself? He was just another crab, and he needed to be shown that he was no better than the rest of them.

    So they grabbed the crab who had been trying to escape and dragged him back down to the bottom of the barrel. They all got cooked and eaten soon afterward, but at least they had the satisfaction of knowing that no other crab was able to achieve more than they had.

    A perfect analogy, Verified.

    Ahhhhh no, Nationwide is not on my side either. hahaahaha

    Just as an aside, David Crosby in the midst of his crazy drug ride (2 decades or three?) would show up on some talk show from time to time relatively sane.

    During one appearance while discussing his decision to at least 'tone down' his political rhetoric said:

    The problem was that there were all these people there to see me on stage and I made this giant leap in logic. I mean if all these people show up it must mean I have something to say!

    I think most of the pundits on cable who are lucky enough to get air time have several aims! How can I best further my career, further my economic advantages and further my individual ratings?

    Newt and Mitt and Rush and beckerhead and so many media giants could not possibly believe one goddamnable thing they say. They just couldn't believe any part of their own rhetoric.

    Some of the lower tier media crowd watching these giants wish to make a splash.

    How might I best get coverage and they see that the best way to draw attention to themselves is to demonstrate how good they are at bucking the tide!

    So we have female pundits who claim to be against abortion and birth control (how many kids does Ann Coulter have again?).

    That bastard on MSNBC calls the President of the United States a dick. But the bastard is white and the feigned 'scandal' lasts two days.

    But Professor West can get into this rant filled with $5.00 words and phrases and receive much fanfare. He cannot possibly believe that he is the only one who knows the  best path towards truth, justice and the American Way.

    I am still in awe of this President of the United States.

    I really am.

    As far as I am concerned he is playing with the cards he was dealt and is becoming better and better at reading the faces of his opponents; betting and raising and checking and folding when necessary.

    West's problem and the problem with many other left wing pundits is that they believe that if they can draw a crowd, they have something intuitive to say--about any subject whether or not they have training in that area; whether they have any expertise concerning the issue; whether or not they have addressed the logical conclusions to their position statements.

    There's no business like show business.



    As usual, Richard, I fully agree.

    Cornel West is nothing more than a Harvard anointed preacher, and his doctorate attests to absolutely nothing other than the fact that he believes in talking snakes. he hasn't said anything memorable in his 25 or so years in the public eye, and he's made being on the wrong side of political campaigns a way of life - he gave us Gorge W. Bush by teaming up with Ralph Nader in the 2000 election. It's been reported that make $10,000 per speech, so here's something to consider. What would he have to rant about for that price if Black people were treated justly?  Hmmmm . . . 

    I am not a fan of  Twitter, but I have been following Harris-Perry because not infrequently, she will refer to an article or book to support her opinion.  She now has a blog associated with her show in which she notes what she is currently reading. I feel like I'm getting the benefit of a Tulane professor without having to pay tutition.  always feel that I learn something new. On the other hand, West may by an excellent orator, but I never feel that I have learned anything other than his overblown opinion of himself. 

    Link to Perry's MSNBC show related blog (For some reason paste is not working with Firefox)



    I agree. West engages in intellectual rice cake. And how can he criticize Obama when his best friend, Tavis Smiley, is the most prolific corporate shill in the Black community? 


    I am not familiar with Boyce Watkins so I will confine my reply to Mr. Wattree's comments with respect to Tavis Smiley and Professors West and Harris-Perry.  First of all, I do not think Smiley and West are conflatable.  Smiley has always struck me as a not particularly articulate self-promoter and corporate shill who plasters company logos, like the Allstate one above, before his audience regardless of the harm the corporatists are doing to those who rely upon him.  Smiley has little credibility as far as I am concerned and his criticism of President Obama stems, I believe, from personal pique that the President hasn't paid him the kind of homage that Smiley thinks he deserves.

    In contrast, while I do not always share Cornel West's opinions and wish he exuded a little more (okay some) intellectualism, I do think his heart is with the black community and more generally with poor and working Americans.  His criticisms of President Obama stem from a genuine and correct assessment that Obama has far too frequently left America's least fortunate hanging out to dry.

    Melissa Harris-Perry has shown a repeated unwillingness to examine the Obama presidency honestly.  Instead, she reflexively defends him and as a result performs a grave disservice to our country and should not have her own television program.

    None of the above should cause the reader to believe that I counsel against voting for Obama.  It is beyond peradventure that he is the least noxious alternative and if you love America you will vote for him in November.  But that does not mean that we can or should overlook: 1) his championing of free trade agreements that weaken the ability of American manufacturing companies to compete at home, 2) stepped up drone attacks, 3) NDAA, 4) the failure to fight for a public option, 5) the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, 6) his failure to join the Wisconsin protesters, 7) voting against Palestinian representation in the UN, 8) no torture prosecutions, etc.

    At the end of the day it looks like Harris-Perry will be voting for Obama along with you. I recorded and later watched her show today. She had an interesting mix of people discussing a variety of issues from Santorum's religion, to the movie "The Help" and why some African-Americans have a problem with the film, to Affirmative Action and the upcoming Supreme Court case. The two-hour time slot allows more than truncated commentary. The show seems a breath of fresh air. Harris-Perry has earned her right to have her own show.

    It is interesting that you use the word "earn" to justify Harris-Perry getting a show.  Political commentators should get television gigs because they are smart, talented, and intellectually honest.  I don't give a damn if they had to work twenty years in the boiler room to "earn" the opportunity or just fell off a turnip truck.  I care whether they are good.  I repeat that my problem with Harris-Perry is that she "reflexively defends" Obama regardless of what he has done and he has done some very bad things.  She may do this because she's not that smart or because she's not intellectually honest with herself or her viewers.  Regardless of the reasons, she should not have her own show.

    One can argue that Smiley and West reflexively condemn Obama. If someone finds her political views disagreeable, that is one thing, attacking her intelligence is another. West calls Harris-Perry a "liar and a fraud". Obama is a "mascot" despite the fact that West himself associates with Nationwide promoter, Tavis Smiley. I think West has his own issues.

    Should Reverend Al Sharpton have his show?

    Why are you bringing Sharpton into this?  My initial comment was a response to Wattree's spirited support of Harris-Perry who, I find, is far too willing to overlook misguided if not downright destructive Obama policies.  You have never addressed this criticism.  Do you share it?  If not, why not?

    No, I don't share your view of Harris-Perry. On her show today in discussing the state of Hispanics in the US, it was Harris-Perry who brought up the high rate of deportations being carried out by the Obama administration. That would not be expected of someone who reflexively supports Obama on everything.

    I brought up Sharpton because he has also been accused of being a cheerleader for Obama. I was wondering about consistency.


    I don't watch Sharpton.  So, I really can't offer an opinion.  My strong hunch is that Harris-Perry mentioned the high rate of deportations under Obama as a response to right-wing critics who claim he's not doing enough to stem the tide of undocumented workers into America.  Last year, she called white liberal critics of Obama racist because, she says, we weren't as tough on Clinton.

    Many African-Americans have disagreements with White Liberals, Harris-Perry just puts them in the larger public eye. There is a sense that some white Liberals have gone overboard in criticizing Obama. When some Liberals mentioned Ron Paul as a rational choice, it simply amazed many African-Americans. Blacks were told to forget about Paul's "back in the good old days" view of State's Rights and his racist newsletters. We were supposed to just shut up and praise his views on drugs.

    Here is commentary from Jack & Jill Politics. Here is commentary from The People's View.on Harris-Perry's essay on White Liberals. Here is the People's View response to White Liberals supporting Ron Paul. There are disagreements, Harris-Perry just voiced them.

    Harris-Perry refuses to acknowledge or even address criticisms of Obama by very credible people like Glenn Greenwald, labor leaders, Ed Schultz, Katrina Van Den Heuvel, Bernie Sanders, Glen Ford.  Instead Harris-Perry replies with ad hominem arguments. 

    You have tried to defend Harris-Perry's actions by claiming that maybe she's right and these liberal commentators - some of whom are black - really are racist.  Doesn't really matter though does it?  Racially motivated or not, well-supported criticism should be accepted at face value and rebutted or accepted.  In any case, Harris-Perry has failed to produce any evidence that liberal commentators are motivated by racial animus, right?

    In addition, you raised a red herring when you claimed that by pointing out that Obama has deported lots of brown people, Harris-Perry was criticizing Obama when in fact she was defending Obama from Michael Steele's argument, right?  In fact, you're all about red herrings, aren't you?  Reverend Al, Ron Paul, what the hell do they have to do with the question of whether Mellisa Harris-Perry is a credible commentator or a White House apologist/flack?

    I could claim that the extraordinarily high support for Obama among African-Americans is based on racial-solidarity politics rather than a sober appraisal of the quality of his presidency since Obama's policies have not been particularly salutary for poor and working class Americans.  Moreover, there's a helluva lot more evidence to support it than Melissa Harris-Perry's snide dismissal of Glenn Greenwald as a racist.

    AS I said there are disagreements between the views of a significant number of the black blogosphere and some White Liberals. i provided some examples of the differing points of view. To me the disagreement goes deeper than what Melissa. Harris-Perry has said. It includes differences in the numbers supporting Gay marriage for example. We are not all in lockstep.

    Talking about the disagreements is beneficial. For example, there was little discussion between White Liberals in the lead up to the Prop 8 vote. A little more outreach resulted in passage of a Gay marriage proposal in D.C. Black turnout for Occupy Wall Street has in many places little better than Black turnout for Tea party rallies.I think ongoing dialog will result in more Blacks turning out to support OWS focused on things like preventing foreclosures.

    Given past experiences in the country, African-Americans do question motives of others, especially in the setting of the first truly viable Black Presidential candidate and elected President. You may remember the race-based battles between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supporters in the Primaries. We are not yet post-racial.

    I just see Ron Paul and the criticisms of Barack Obama as all part of the same package, not as separate issues. The flavor of many in the Black blogosphere is similar. Obviously West, Smiley, Watkins feel more criticism of Obama is warranted.

    I think given the Insane Klown Posse running on the GOP side, many African-Americans are not going to participate in anything that condemns Obama during an election cycle. I for one am not going to apologize for that.

    At any rate, it looks like we are both voting for the same person.

    Of course we're not post-racial.  But again I don't see what any of this has to do with Melissa Harris-Perry's qualifications.  My two closely related problems with her are simply that: 1) She repeatedly takes up the cudgel for Obama regardless of who's disparaging him and why - even in cases when the disparagement, in my view, is wholly warranted. 2) Rather than responding directly to the substance of the varied criticisms leveled against Obama, Harris-Perry attacks the critics personally. 

    For these two reasons, I do not believe she should have a national television show.

    Harris-Perry serves to highlight some differences between black and white Progressives and does question motives. She ignites a needed discussion. Let's take the recent suspension of Roland Martin from CNN. Martin's suspension followed homophobic tweets made during the Super Bowl. Pressure came to suspend Martin from CNN. Martin also hosts a program on TV One and appears daily on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show",  a radio show. Both TV One and the TJM radio show are targeted to Black audiences. Why was CNN the only focus in getting Martin off the air?  Do white Progressives feel that the black audience is unimportant?

    If Martin expressed homophobia, why not have him completely off the air. The overall sense is that black Progressives have a feel for what goes on in white media, but white Progressives are blind to the things happening in black media. In that setting feeling that Harris-Perry did not earn her right to a show on MSNBC seems a little out of focus, given how few black voices exist on the airwaves.

    80% of black voters in Ohio voted for Kerry. 20% of black voters who may have been swayed by Bush's Christian Outreach Project and the campaign against gay marriage voted for Bush. Blacks get part of the blame for Kerry's defeat. 80% voted for the Democrat and blacks are partially responsible for Kerry's loss?

    We are not post racial. Motives get questioned in the case of Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, etc. Motives of white Progressives also get questioned. That is why the Progressive love-fest with Ron Paul is all part of the mix.

    White Progressives do not get to decide if Harris-Perry gets a show.

     I think one thing that can be accomplished given the format of the MSNBC weekend show is that she can have a serious discussion about homophobia in the black community, for example.

    Recently, Eddie Long a preacher with a large following was found to have abused some young men (allegedly). His church recently sat in the pews as he was crowned a "King".  While there has been criticism heaped on Pastor Long from lay people, much of the black clergy has been silent. The preachers have been too busy in Maryland trying to stop Gay marriage.

    I think that Harris-Perry is far more capable of having a "come to Jesus" discussion about Gay issues than Cornel West ever could. That is just one example of the benefit we could see from Prof Harris-Perry's show.

    rmrd0000 - is there a reason that you refuse to respond to my two very simple (and powerful IMHO) arguments that MHP should not have a show? 1) MHP repeatedly takes up the cudgel for Obama regardless of who's disparaging him and why - even in cases when the disparagement, in my view, is wholly warranted. 2) Rather than responding directly to the substance of the varied criticisms leveled against Obama, she attacks the critics personally.

    Yeah, but all of those "arguments" you give are just your opinion Hal, nothing more than that, you don't think Harris Perry should have a platform with which to support the administration, even though she may or may not do much more than that, (I don't know I haven't seen her show).

    But MSNBC doesn't care so much about what she does with her platform, but they do care about how she attracts a much different demographic, one that cable TV shock-jock stations have never really tried to attract prior to the President being elected. And that is what Harris Perry is, she is expanding the demographics of MSNBC, a station that is finally attempting to address it very white and male line up. 

    You have to admit these cable stations are very white and very male. MSNBC is attempting to expand their slice of viewership by adding diversity to their line up. Notice that Ms. Harris Perry is on the weekend, I mean, that can't be a great time slot to be in can it?

    But MSNBC doesn't have a responsibility to take your criticism into account, because the line up is already overwhelmingly white and male and libertarian (you can't explain the existence of Dylan Rattigan, Ed Schultz and Joe Scarborough any other way). I think stations like MSNBC have already catered to you, (by you I mean your demographic as a white guy). They are simply trying to attract more people by diversifying their line up. That is a good thing, isn't it.

    Sigh.... I gave you the example of Harris-Perry noting the high deportation rate under Obama, you rejected that as not being a criticism. I don't know what else I can do for you.  Harris-Perry does not criticize Obama at every turn the way you would like. She has a different view than you. She has a earned a TV show. You have a right to complain or not to watch. Rating will decide if her show stays on.

    Blacks  and Democrats, in general, are not going to be going on the type of tirades against Obama that you want. The majority of self-identified Democrats are satisfied with Obama. The majority of Blacks are satisfied with Obama. Some Progressives are dissatisfied with how the majority of Democrats and Blacks are in synch with the President.

    Over at DailyKos last year there was a near purge of minority voices who disagreed with the tone being used against Obama at the website. Disagreements exist.

    I would like very much ethnic and racial diversity on television.  I would like even more class diversity.  I don't believe that MHP speaks for the disenfranchised, the poor, or working Americans or, to the extent that she does, she doesn't do it loudly enough.  For all his bombast and affectations, I believe Cornel West does.  I did not see the specific segment when MHP brought up the record number of brown people Obama has deported but I have heard other "liberal" commentators quote this statistic approvingly as proof that Obama is not the radical socialist RWNJs call him.  Perhaps, MHP was criticizing Obama and, if so, I retract that criticism.  Her lovefest with Michael Steele did not endear her further to me.

    ..........I would like very much ethnic and racial diversity on television.............

    Fine, we have Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. She gets to set her own agenda, not yours. If it gets good ratings, she stays. If she doesn't get good ratings, she leaves. There are a number of  show hosts that I don't watch because I find them distasteful, it eases may gastric discomfort.  Or you can write to MSNBC and cite your reasons for objecting to Harris-Perry having a show. You might also try the other MSNBC programs.

    I have seen Melissa Harris-Perry live and she does address the issues you note above




    You've made a very reasonable comment here, though Tavis and West are connected at the hip.  And I disagree about West's sincerity. He's a poverty pimp who uses his advocacy to command his reported $10,000 per speech.  I can't think of anything he's done for the Black community other than talk - and that's been destructive. Again, he teamed up with Nader in the 2000 election that led to George Bush being elected. So he either has to be naive, self-serving, or stupid.

    Wattree - I did not know until you just told me that Professor West had campaigned with Nader in 2000.  Frankly, to me that is practically unforgivable and most certainly calls into question his credibility.  But, I stand by my criticisms of Professor Harris-Perry.  I find infuriating her claim that white liberal critics of Obama, like me, are motivated by racism.  How dare she try to stifle debate about the wisdom of, e.g., 1) public insurance for nuclear power plants, 2) the Bradley Manning prosecution, 3) millions of new customers for health insurers, 4) CIA assassinations of American citizens, 5) issuing leases allowing Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, 6) continued attempts to "work with" Republicans.

    Eric, just want you to know that I read posts like this quite closely.  Eager as I usually am to comment on everything in the world, this is just so outside of my experience, I don't know what to say, aside from that I'm reading and that I don't see this point of view in many other places (or, any other) so thanks.

    Wattree view is shared by a large part of the Black blogosphere and morning radio. West, a man who "cares about the Black community" calls Obama a "mascot" and suggests Harris-Perry is a "liar and a fraud". It does raise questions about West's motives. 

    Professor Anita Hill is one of Harris-Perry's guests today. The topic is equality. It should be interesting.

    I watched MHP's show starting at 10:30. Anita Hill was interesting in discussing the foreclosure settlements. Harry Smith was less interesting to me, having watched him do the vapid CBS morning shows forever. and what, Michael Steele for balance? They seemed to have a good laugh discussing immigration.

    Neither political party wants to address immigration in a forthright and rational fashion.


    I specialize in writing about the things that no one else wants to say.  That's why I call my column "Beneath the Spin." 

    Ah, how I've missed these spittle-flecked hate-blogs.

    Just in case some of you couldn't read the actual text beneath the froth, let me recap: Dr. Boyce Watkins is a deluded, hypocritical traitor. etc.

    Heavy words.

    And what evidence is offered? Ummmm.... a blog by Boyce Watkins. In which hes took the outrageous - and clearly treasonous - stance that if you wanted his vote, you had to address his issues.  

    What's that? You don't consider that idea to be worth quite that amount of venom? Well gee. Maybe you ought to read the whole of Boyce Watkins' "Insane Klown" blog. Here it is, top to bottom:

    "If you think the Democrats are bad, then wait till you see the Republicans in office!”….If I hear that weak, pathetic argument again, I am going to get sick. When black unemployment is the worst that its been in 25 years (as white unemployment has steadily improved), it’s not as if any party could do much worse. Black unemployment and mass incarceration are in a state of emergency, and it sickens me that people don’t seem to care about how our families are being destroyed because of it. If you want my vote, you must address my issues…if you’re too busy to address my issues, then I’m too busy to vote for you. PERIOD."

    Clearly, the words of a traitor. 

    Either that, or this poster is a hate-spewing maniac who for some reason keeps being welcomed back, to spew yet again.

    Whatever, Wattree, whatever. 

    I think it's more that Watkins considers Obama the traitor to his people.

    Is that fair? I don't know.

    Complicating Watkins' position is the fact that his withholding a vote from Obama is, in fact, casting a half a vote for Romney (or whomever the nominee is).

    That isn't an argument so much as a matter of math. He may not like it, but it's true.

    At least with Obama, Watkins might have some claim on his conscience and sense of obligation to his people.

    Or, he can cast a half a vote for Romney (or Santorum).

    The guy says, "I want my issues answered." Your answer? Literally, that MATH says you cannot have those answers.

    Do you not understand how idiotic responses like the one you've offered, coming again and again from Democrats, will turn people, one by one by one, away from the party? 

    I give up. This blog literally calls a man a traitor for asking that his issues be answered. And you, rather than respond to this absolutely uncivil, undemocratic, smear-ridden piece of idiocy, actually try to back him up, with an appeal to... math. 

    Here. I know you guys have frozen your brains til after November, but believe me, it would have been better had you responded, "Here's what we've done on your issues Mr Watkins, here's what's more we plan to do, and hey, here are a few of the things you've mentioned that we think are worth considering." 

    Okay, here's one answer to his issues:


    "The motor vehicle and parts industry, a sector of the economy that has been particularly welcoming to African Americans, is becoming a shrinking island of prosperity.  The share of black workers (14.2%) in automotive industries is much higher than their overall share of the labor force (11.2%), as shown in this Figure.

    "African Americans earn much higher wages in auto industry jobs than in other parts of the economy, and the loss of these solid, middle-class jobs would be a devastating blow.  Hourly wages for African Americans in the motor vehicle industry averaged $17.08 (excluding fringe benefits) in 2007, versus economy-wide average wages for African American of $15.44 per hour.2"

    Doesn't this count as answering at least some of his issues? Last I heard, Mitt wanted Detroit to fail? Or does this not count because Obama hasn't solved the problem of black unemployment and incarceration in his three years in office?

    He may think he's sticking it to Obama by withholding his vote, but really he's sticking it to himself and the people he cares about. If he wants to push Obama to do more, then he needs Obama in office. If he'd prefer to push Romney, then...

    Where Mark Sawyer says

    We need Melissa Harris-Perry and we need Cornel West,

    I don't agree with him, I think both are basically disposable without any harm to, and perhaps betterment of both the general political discourse, and discourse within the minority communities,

    but where he says

    what we don't need is ad hominem attacks that obscure the inevitable friction between vision and pragmatism, social movement and institutional politics.

    I totally agree, and reading his whole essay, what occurred to me is that what we really need is more people like Mark Sawyer on TV and talk radio and blogging, and less like both West and Harris Perry. (Sawyer's essay made me sad in that it reminded me of how I used to rant against the talk radio-ization of the internet, and how I basically gave up on that, thinking it hopeless, the amateur spinmeisters winning over the analyzers long ago.)

    While admitting I get a secret kick out of your ad hominen digs at Cornel West, Wattree, as he has always been a figure ripe for caricature, not so different in his antics over the years than dopplegangers like say, Newt Gingrich (not even that much different from fops being caricatured by Hogarth or Daumier or Rowlandsen) what you do when you rant on him is continue to feed the whole game. Of both spinning and maintaining personal political celebrity, where all publicity is good publicity.

    I appreciate Wattree's strong opinions on West, et al. The blogs are a place where those who aren't on the teevee can talk about about how whack West and Smiley seem, and argue pro- and con- on whether Harris-Perry deserves to have her own show. Blogs are a a much better and less expensive release than throwing things at the flat screen when West appears as part of a discussion.



    I have to say: Sawyer's article is VERY good and thoughtful and clarified a number of things for me.

    In essence, everyone has a role to play in the movement, but it makes no sense for X to criticize Y for not playing X's role, nor vice versa.

    And it makes even less sense, and is in fact harmful, for X to impugn Y's motives or integrity (unless, I guess, there's clear evidence of this kind of treachery or duplicity) or attempt to actively harm Y.

    A number of things popped out for me, but especially this:

    A better tact would have been to address the strongest aspects of West's argument and offered a critique of his best positions rather than his worst positions.

    If we're honest, we dispense with the easy problems quickly and move on to address the other side's best points. How else to move forward?

    After all, it's not as if we're fooling anyone when we simply ignore the other side's best points. The audience is reading them and nodding their heads.

    So the best points of opposition stand un-addressed and we look superficially partisan, just hacks trying to bring down people with whom we disagree.


    Check out Asamota's Corner. I have a lot to say about these traitors.

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