Sunday, July 03, 2011

Getting Results

Fox Business News host Glen Bolling offered a near apology, stating 'We got a little fast and loose with the language, and we know it's been interpreted as being disrespectful, and for that, I'm sorry. We did go a bit too far " A few days earlier, responding to President Obama's visit with the disreputable president of Gabon, Bolling had quipped "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse. "

By itself, the remark by a little-known host on the seldom-watched FBC is inconsequential. Still, the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

Glenn Beck infamously called Barack Obama "a racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people." He later expressed regret for having made the remarks- but message received.

Rush Limbaugh has called President Obama "a Chicago street thug" and "little-black-man child." He is the "angry black man" whose "entire economic program is reparations." And on and on and on.

In the misleading and unfairly titled "Segregation in the Land of Limousine Liberalism," Daniel Denvir has chronicled the effort to desegregate housing in highly affluent Westchester County outside of New York City (unfair because the title fingers citizens, not politicians; misleading because the primary politician enforcing the status quo is a conservative Republican). In a county in which the median home value in one city, one percent black, is $1,030,900, the "working-class black and Latino residents" are clustered in merely a few municipalities. The county is not the only one in which towns appear to have actively discouraged non-whites from settling and

Westchester's leaders signed a landmark consent decree in 2009, settling a lawsuit that accused the county of lying to the federal government about fair housing in its applications for federal funds. Officials agreed to build 750 units of affordable housing in the county's whitest neighborhoods and to market the properties to potential black and Latino buyers. The court order also requires the county to analyze impediments to fair housing and to design an implementation plan to overcome them -- with a stipulation that the county use all of its housing programs to support integration.

At the time, the agreement was celebrated as a milestone in fair housing and civil rights. But two years after the court order, Westchester had done nothing but ignore it. The county's Republican-led government refuses to force predominantly white towns and villages to build fair housing; affordable units slated for construction are in largely nonwhite neighborhoods or commercial sites, exclusionary zoning ordinances remain in place, and the county has failed to submit a compliant plan to desegregate.

It was this record that led the Anti-Discrimination Center, which filed the original lawsuit in 2006, to return to court recently, charging that Westchester has "stubbornly and comprehensively refused to obey" the court order.

Jim Johnson, the federal monitor overseeing the enforcement of the court order, may be pursuing some sort of compromise. Meanwhile,

civil rights activists are looking to the Obama administration for help -- but so far they aren't getting any. Even though it was the federal government (through the Department of Housing and Urban Development) that Westchester allegedly defrauded, the Justice Department is joining the county in opposing ADC's motions.

Indifference toward continued desegregation in wealthy suburbs of New York City is consistent with the huge spending cuts- apparently including $200 billion to Medicaid and Medicare, federal pensions, and possibly Social Security- in favor with the Obama Administration. Considering the entirety of the President's actions, Barack Obama's policies are probably less supportive of the interests of working- and middle class- Americans than were the first three Republican presidents of the post-war era. Jerry Levy, general counsel at Westchester's Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program, recalls "When I was a kid I remember Eisenhower sending federal troops down to Arkansas. That's where we are in Westchester County."

That's where we are in the country, saddled with a President sensitive to attacks from talk show hosts, extraordinarily conservative with extraordinarily large audiences, who batter him daily.



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