June 8, 2010 by Marc Lamont Hill
Since the inauguration of President Obama, the Republican Party has committed itself to being the party of obstruction. From the refusal to cooperate on health care to the unprecedented number of filibuster threats, the GOP has made it clear they refuse to play ball as long as Democrats are in power.
More recently, however, Republicans have taken their resistance to another level. In addition to blocking all attempts at the legislation, the GOP has begun to paint every Obama move (or misstep) as a crisis of world-historical proportion. The two most recent examples of this tactic came over the past two weeks, in the wake of the BP oil spill and the controversy over the Pennsylvania Senate race.
In the case of the BP spill, which has quickly become the worst natural disaster in American history, Republicans are trumpeting the calamity as â€œObamaâ€™s Katrina.â€ While compelling, such a narrative contradicts all available evidence. First, while the BP spill was entirely preventable, it could not have been prevented by President Obama.
The current rules regarding the granting of oil licenses, the running of oil rigs, and the shaping of federal policy on offshore are an inheritance of the Bush Administration. Also, unlike Hurricane Katrina, which was woefully mishandled by the Bush Administration, Team Obama has mounted an aggressive response to the crisis that includes technological innovation, public-private partnerships, full use of the military, and long term policy reform designed to increase regulation and oversight. While the Obama Administration has been far from perfect, the notion it has been asleep at the wheel borders on absurd.
In addition to the faux-Katrina crisis, the Obama Administration is also being accused of high crimes in the recent Pennsylvania Senate primary race between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter. Since early March, when Representative Sestak matter-of-factly told a reporter that the White House offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the Senate race, Republicans have accused President Obama of every crime short of treason and murder.
Despite the hyperbolic partisan rants of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the Sestak scandal is far from Watergate-level. In fact, the promise of a political appointment in exchange for entering or exiting a high-profile race is one of the most common practices in local and national politics. As conservative George Will pointed out, â€œPolitics is a transactional business… Candidates go to voters and say â€˜you vote for me, Iâ€™ll do this for youâ€™ thatâ€™s what we do in this business and thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it. Itâ€™s called democracy and free government.â€ Willâ€™s point, while refreshingly honest, is far from earth shattering. Anyone remotely connected to big-game politics knows that quid pro quos are not only common, but expected among powerbrokers. Nevertheless, nearly every member of the GOP has feigned outrage and indignation at the thought that a politician might use power and influence to get things done.
Of course, the Obama Administration is not blameless in this recent string of teapot tempests. In the case of BP, the Obama Adminstrationâ€™s history of corporate back rubbing, combined with its initially tepid response to the oil spill, opened the door for political opportunists to cry Katrina. With the Sestak controversy, the President and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs provided the kind of wildly ambiguous and shifty responses (â€œI donâ€™t know much about it, and Iâ€™m not prepared to talk about it, but we did nothing wrong.â€) normally offered by guilty people. While they were likely afraid to simply admit that they were playing politics as usual, their indirection produced enough of a stench to attract partisan vultures.
This recent wave of events speaks to a persistent problem among the left. Instead of setting the agenda and controlling public conversations, we remain locked in the same reactionary posture. Rather than discussing the dangers of drilling, environmental abuse, unchecked corporate maneuvering, Democrats are wasting every news cycle convincing the public that President Obama isnâ€™t criminally negligent or incompetent. In addition to being bad strategy, such behavior does nothing to fix the real problems of the day.
May 27, 2010 by Marc Lamont Hill
May 27, 2010 by Marc Lamont Hill
For the past two years, Drake has been one of the hottest acts in hip-hop. From high profile guest appearances to a ubiquitous presence on urban radio, it is nearly impossible to follow hip-hop and not get regular doses of the Toronto-born rapper.
I hate him.
There I said it.
To be clear, I donâ€™t have any personal beef with Drake. While Iâ€™ve never met him, I donâ€™t doubt that heâ€™s a decent and well-intentioned person. Still, I hate him. And you canâ€™t stop me. Why? Because he represents several things that I find troublesome about the current mainstream hip-hop scene.
First, thereâ€™s the music. While thereâ€™s no doubt that Drake is very giftedâ€” even if he too often wastes his talent making radio-friendly confectionâ€”he leaves much to be desired as an rapper. Instead of relying on his intellectual and artistic gifts, he too often resorts to tired concepts, lazy punch lines and predictable one-liners. This wouldnâ€™t be such a problem if he werenâ€™t constantly being hailed by the rap world as a dope lyricist rather than what he actually is: a pop song writer.
To call Drake an MC in a world that still includes Black Thought, Lupe Fiasco, Jean Grae, Pharoah Monch, or even Eminem is an insult to people who think. As evidenced by his humiliating Blackberry â€œfreestyleâ€ on Funkmaster Flexâ€™s Hot 97 radio show, Drake has mastered neither the art, science, nor stylistic etiquette of MCing. From his frantic attempts to stay on beat to his inability to improvise even slightly, Drake represents a dangerous historical moment in hip-hop culture where rapping has overshadowed other dimensions of MCing, like freestyling, battling, and moving the crowd.
May 14, 2010 by Marc Lamont Hill
Yesterday, I debated a representative from the state of Arizona about the Ethnic Studies. With all due respect, his arguments were filled with half-truths, distortions, and outright lies about Ethnic Studies. See for yourself…
May 14, 2010 by Marc Lamont Hill
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