By Linn Washington Jr.
November 1, 2011
Former President Bill Clinton adopted a mend-it-don’t-end-it posture toward affirmative action in 1995, refusing to placate white conservatives at war with this equity initiative even if it cost him votes.
According to an alarming column by National Black Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Harry Alford published in The Philadelphia Tribune recently, the affirmative action posture of America’s first president of clear African ancestry apparently is: pretend-it-to-end-it.
Alford says federal contracting with Black-owned firms experienced drastic reductions during the Obama years and now “instead of exhausting all avenues to improve the amount of Black contracting, this administration is taking formal action to end all” minority contracting initiatives.
Although Alford didn’t say it, Obama backing away from fighting for affirmative action is yet another instance of this president’s placate-enemies approach to governance that again leave the interests of his core Black constituency out in the cold.
Apparently this oft-described constitutional law scholar and his supporting cast of Ivy League trained lawyers lack commitment or lack savvy for crafting legal arguments to counter conservative attacks against affirmative action righting historic wrongs.
Independently vetted federal statistics confirm Alford’s contention.
Black-owned businesses have received a paltry 3.5 percent of federal contracts funded through Obama’s vaulted ARRA stimulus approved in 2009, according to continuous stimulus monitoring conducted by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University.
Further, stimulus contracts sprinkled to Black and Latino firms had low dollar values.
The specific Obama administration initiative igniting Alford’s ire is a proposed policy to eliminate a program establishing a five percent minority-owned small business federal contracting goal for the Department of Defense, NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Alford’s column quoted Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League, who sees “significant negative” economic impacts on minority-owned small businesses leading to the loss of millions of jobs from this policy shift by the Obama administration.
Chapman wrote it is “difficult to understand why, in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history and when unemployment has hit minority communities especially hard, the Obama administration would end one of the most successful programs to create jobs for minorities.”
On one level Obama has kept a campaign pledge to enact “change” … although this is not the “change” Obama’s solid supporters in the black community envisioned — their “President” killing programs that provided minority owned business with a few crumbs of fairness from the federal economic pie.
It’s easy to forget the noxious fact that duplicity is seemingly an integral element penned in invisible ink into job descriptions for elected office.
Yep, while there’s a short supply of jobs and mortgage foreclosure assistance for those suffering rapes by the forces manipulating America’s economic system apparently there’s no shortage of duplicity among politicians.
Look at the duplicity exhibited by chest-thumping “tough-on-crime” Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania’s legislature ignoring repeated requests from the Human Rights Coalition/Fed-Up! and other groups to investigate rampant abuses in the state’s prison system committed by guards.
Those physical/sexual abuses are crimes plus those abuses pick the public pocket because a significant percentage of Pennsylvania’s nearly $2-billion annual prison budget pays prison personnel salaries and benefits.
According to a recent HRC/Fed-Up! statement “While state prisoners in Pennsylvania are being physically, sexually and psychologically abused … the legislature has approved funding for three more prisons … At a time when other states are scaling back their prison populations for public safety and budgetary reasons …”
A vying volume of bi-partisan competitors makes topping the duplicity pile difficult but on the trash heap of ideological intransigence the policies/postures of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie constantly place him in win-place-or-show positions.
Christie’s refusal to appoint non-whites to NJ’s State Supreme Court draws rightful criticisms.
Christie sacked the state’s only Black Supreme Court justice refusing to reappoint John Wallace when his term expired early last year making Republican Governor Christie the first governor in N.J. memory not to reappoint a sitting high court justice.
Christie nominated a female GOP-operative corporate lawyer with no judicial experience to replace Wallace — a nomination held-up by N.J. Democratic Senators.
The state’s only Hispanic justice — Roberto Rivera-Soto — declined reappointment when his term expired last month.
Adding insult to his injurious judicial policies, when N.J.’s body that recommends judges objected to Christie’s mistreatment of Wallace the bombastic Governor replaced that body with all whites/all Republicans.
Christie new crew included a disgraced former Supreme Court Justice who while serving as N.J.’s Attorney General protected racial profiling by State Police and lied about it during legislative testimony.
Christie, countering criticisms of his seeming segregationist posture on Supreme Court nominees, contends that he has an “obligation to put the very best people on the court…”
That “very-best” contention by Christie rubs dung in the face of non-white Republicans because implicit in that posture is an assertion that non-white conservatives lack enough legal smarts to serve on the state Supreme Court Christie desires.
For a supreme example of duplicity (with emphasis on the deceitfulness element of that word’s definition) look no further than extreme conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who recently celebrated twenty controversial years on America’s highest court.
Democratic Congress members and others demand an investigation into Thomas failing to disclose $1.6 million in earning his wife received from right-wing organizations pushing policies Thomas backs in court rulings.