So gotterdemerung wrote a mildly snarky piece titled Caption This on Wild Wild Left featuring a pic of Barack Obama goofing with a black guy on a street somewhere in mixed-race America. A piece which received several equally mildly snarky replies.




LOOK at it, goddammit!!!

Look at Obama’s mouth.

Look at his stance.

Look at his comfort zone.

And read on.
His mouth?

The expression on his face?

That’s a street thing. It means “Gotcha!!!” In a (relatively) non-threatening, street goof kind of way.

What does the pic really say?

It says that Obama paid some street dues at one time. In black neighborhoods. It means that he really does have roots in both the black experience and in the working class experience of America.

Was he a gangbanger? A drug dealer? A street tough guy?

No, of course not.

But…unlike any other truly powerful politician in the history of racist America…he was there.

I walked those streets with him. In NYC when he was going to Columbia. Which university, in case you do not know it, is still about a 3 minute walk from some very…interesting…neighborhoods in Harlem, even after the area has undergone massive Bloombergification. I know the feel.

A Harlem story from those days-The wonderful jazz drummer Grady Tate was leaving the Apollo Theater late one night after a 1 AM show. His car was parked behind the theater on 126th St. As he got his keys out, someone approached him from the rear and stuck a gun in his ear. The thief robbed him, took his keys, climbed into the car and proceeded to drive away. As he pulled out, he lowered the window and said “By the way…loved your latest record.” Like dat. Obama would understand. He’d get a laugh from it. Betcha.

How did Obama live during this time?

Well, he has said that he “lived like a monk.” Lots of library time, etc.

I think not.

Not entirely, anyway.

It is known Obama lived off-campus with a roommate identified as “Sadik,” who was not a Columbia student. Obama describes Sadik as “a short, well-built Pakistani” who smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine.

The AP tracked down “Sadik,” whose real name turned out to be Sahole Saddiqi. Obama first met him when the two attended Occidental and Obama was living with a group of Pakistani students.

“We were both very lost,” Siddiqi told the AP of his days in New York with Obama. “We were both alienated, although he might not put it that way. He arrived disheveled and without a place to stay.”

Now…I have lived “off campus”…way off campus and pretty damned disheveled as well…with people who smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine, and I am here to tell you that contrary to what the right might like to imply about such a lifestyle, I learned as much or more from the experience than I ever did attending classes at institutions of higher learning.

Been “lost”, also. Let’s Get Lost-the great jazz trumpet player Chet Baker’s favorite lick. Tragic hero?  You bet. Sad junkie motherfucker? Yup. That too. But…he knew something. Bet on it. Obama knows some of that “something” too. Bet on that as well.

That single fact…that Obama lived off the grid for a while…is the most encouraging thing about him as far as I am concerned.

Not his undeniable intelligence.

Not his equally undeniable eloquence.

Certainly not his success as a President, which in his first year has been semi-negligible…a B or B minus at best.

But the plain fact that he knows the truth of what is going on in the urban streets of America. He has been there, his mortal ass walking down 125th St. at 2 in the morning on a rainy Saturday night. And he is alone in the field of potential leaders as far as this knowledge is concerned.

Why is this important?


It is popular to at least partially blame 9/11 and Al-Qaeda for our current financial troubles.


The underutilization of the great talents of our population is the real reason that we are scuffling now, and racism has been the number one contributor to that failing. Without a racist culture, none of what is going down would have happened. Not in exactly same manner, for sure. And not on the same level of seriousness, either. Eliminate much of the massive financial drain of our so-called justice and public assistance systems…both necessities absolutely fueled by racism at their core…and the financial drain that is crippling this country simply would not exist. Is Al-Qaeda our active enemy? Yes. Would its efforts have successfully pushed the U.S. over a financial brink? No. There would be a surplus of funds available had we properly educated and given good work to minorities in this country for the last 50+ years. What they would have added to the GNP plus what has been subtracted from it by the systems that are necessary to maintain a culture in relative safety that has about 1/3rd of its people condemned to a position of permanent underclass?  Priceless. Would the U.S. have even felt the necessity of running its economic imperialist routine on the rest of the world? The one that really fuels most of the enmity felt towards us by organizations like Al-Qeada?


Of course not.

And…exactly who in our current possible leadership brigade has a fucking clue as to the reality of all of this? A visceral, experiential clue?

Ms. Clinton comes closest, but she is miles away from the reality of what Obama lived.

Any Republicans?


Any other Dems?


So…snark away, folks. Mr. Obama has taken on a massively difficult task, and the odds of his being able to get even a part of it done are equally massively against him. Given the circumstaces, his B/B minus mark ought to be graded up on a curve to an A/A minus at the very least.

Go get ’em. bro’!!!

At least you’ve taken the risk.

Good on ya.


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