Follow by Email

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ferguson fallout: justice dancing on the head of a pin

By (Kane Farabuagh/VOA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

People in Ferguson, Missouri, and around the country marched this week for a cause deeply rooted in the story of America - the fight for equal treatment under the law, and a fair shot at justice. Through the smoke of burning businesses and lost jobs and racial epithets and Klan threats it may be hard to discern the silhouettes of purposeful people looking to wrest reconciliation from the restless mobs. Attacking the status quo with bricks, bats and bottle glass only maintains it, while power's grip hides behind riot shields and rolling clouds of teargas.

When the rabble rouses to anger, only real change appeases. It then falls to the earnest and purposeful to calm both sides and find a way to mediate peace through mutual respect.

Read the post

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A line too long: no choice but action on ‘Broken immigration system’

President Obama speaks at Del Sol High School, Las Vegas. Nov. 21, 2014 (whitehouse.gov)

A year ago, according to the State Department, there were 4.3 million people with family sponsored visa requests. The latest bulletin from Foggy Bottom says that the last family visas for siblings it was considering from Mexico were applied for in February, 1997. For married children of U.S. citizens, the last visas approved for Mexicans were applied for in November, 1993. If you are a citizen and want a visa for your sister in the Philippines, the last visas granted were for people who applied in May, 1991! 

And just because someone applied for a visa back then doesn’t mean they are next on the list, because only a limited number of employment based and family requested papers are available every year to applicants from each country. 

“The idea that the people can simply get in the back of the line is a little bit simplistic in practice,” Madeleine Sumption, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan immigration policy think tank supported by philanthropic and government policy advocacy groups, told the Fiscal Times, this past spring.
Read the post

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Democrats’ mutual denial society

President Obama holds a press conference at the White House after the 2014 midterm  elections, Nov. 5, 2014 (whitehouse.gov)

If the Democrats running statewide in North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky had not tried so hard to distance themselves from Obama, by not meeting with him, not having him campaign for them, touting his economic record and and his call for a raise in the minimum wage, the successes of Obamacare and the efforts at fair pay and immigration reform, they might have won.

They disavowed the leader of their party by refusing to say if they voted for him, by stammering through questions about his policies and even by omitting their party affiliation from their campaign ads. They could not run away fast enough. 

The problem for the Democrats in states the president recognized he lost in 2012, was that they became blatheringly and disingenuously defensive. Rather than assert, “Yes, I support these policies. They are good for the middle class and for the American people,” they sought to distinguish themselves from President Obama with ineffective TV ads.

Read the entire post

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Broken government comes from a broken electorate

Volunteers at a Democratic field office in DeKalb County, Georgia, use Obama campaign methods to reach out to targeted voters. (PBG/Prose and Thorn)
The finger pointing over who was to blame for Tuesday's devastating losses started as soon as the polls closed - maybe even before in places like Colorado and Kentucky, where flawed campaigns and unforced errors by candidates killed off an incumbent and skewered a rising star.

But Democrats and political analysts all realize that, for the most part, it wasn't the candidates. It wasn't the message. It wasn't the low approval numbers for President Obama in states that could have been in play, or the billions spent by outside groups to link Democratic candidates to him and the majority leader. It was the voters - those who chose to show up and those who stayed home. 

"So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you," President Obama acknowledged at a post-election briefing, Wednesday afternoon, adding, "To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too." 

As Politico rightly points out, the president's choice of words indicate he doesn't see the Republicans' big night as any kind of mandate from the people, since it's only a third that chose to have their voices heard. A lopsided third, but a third nonetheless.

Read the post

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nunn’s strength: caring community through corporate involvement

Nunn

In his earlier defense of Michelle Nunn over accusations that Points of Light "gave money to terrorists" while she led the organization, Neil Bush went on to praise Nunn for demonstrating “the right kind of visionary leadership – a non-partisan or bipartisan approach to our service world.”

It is precisely that approach to serving the public at all levels that makes her such an appealing candidate, and why she has been leading in the most recent three polls, albeit within the margin-of-error. Her work demonstrates she is authentically engaged in making the world a better place for everyone, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat. Read the post

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola: Has 'America lost its mind?'

From hhs.gov

Fear is not the appropriate response, but it is very American, in the sense that nothing happening in the world seems to matter until it happens to us. This is a classic American pitfall, where we reach for a mask of ugly paranoia because of our own self importance.

University of Chicago's Harold Pollack says that given the facts about the disease, and the infinitesimally small rate of infection in the United States, we should be more concerned about how alarmist our media is making the situation. "If you’re just tuning in," he added, "you might believe that America has lost its mind."

The phrase "abundance of caution" has been prevalent in stories about Ebola. People vomit on airplanes all the time, but now, we lock them in bathrooms. We close schools and bridal stores for a disease that is not communicable except through direct contact with bodily fluids. That's not "caution;" it's rationalized paranoia.

Read the post

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Holder's Texas Two Step: voter ID challenge begins

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (adapted from British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Flickr photo) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (adapted from photo by Jonathan Mallard)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (adapted from British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Flickr photo)
and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (adapted from photo by Jonathan Mallard)


It's a battle on two fronts, necessitated by the Supreme Court's decision, last year, to nullify the pre-clearance formula sections of the Voting Rights Act, in Shelby County v. Holder. That left Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott free to pursue what is alleged to be targeted, minority voter disenfranchisement.

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Justice joins other plaintiffs, including Texas voters and candidates, in Veasey v. Perry, challenging the Lone Star State's quick-trigger, post-Shelby resumption of its previously struck voter ID law. Later this fall, DoJ will participate in another round of Perez v. Perry, the case which alleges the state's 2011 redistricting plan is discriminatory, giving Texas' rising Latino minority less representation in government than they are actually due.

A verdict for the plaintiffs in either case could allow Justice to place Texas back on the pre-clearance list for ten years, a "bail in" under Section 3 of the VRA, since, the DoJ maintains, it would demonstrate a persistent pattern of minority voter discrimination. It is their only recourse, since Congress won't act on a new pre-clearance formula.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Friday, August 29, 2014

What do women want? Not Republicans

Broom Dance
It’s tough to be the one at the party the girls don’t want to dance with.

That’s not to say the Democrats have women swooning. The GOP has a 49 percent disapproval rating among female voters, according to their own poll, while the Democrats are disliked by 39 percent. But this is a Republican poll, and the relatively narrow margin, when one is talking about half the electorate, has given the party of Palin a way to claim that there aren’t any winners.

“If Republicans talk about things like the economy, the debt, make the case for jobs and schools and education, and push back,” Republicans will win, RNC Chair, Reince Priebus said.

 READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Real crisis at border is one of American conscience

From Flickr/Public Domain
From Flickr/Public Domain
Angry White people screaming at busloads of minority children should frighten any American with a knowledge of our own recent history. Voices of fear and bigotry have risen like an oily mess on the tides that have brought waves of young immigrant children across our borders.

The boys and girls are buoyed ashore by a 2008, George W. Bush signed law - the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act - that is supposed to protect them from the rampant dangers of murder and sex trafficking in their home countries. You have likely heard, by now, that the GOP has wrongly hung this on Obama, citing his executive action that delayed deportation of minors that were brought here by their parents, as children, as the reason for the sudden influx. But the law and the president's order are distinct issues.

That law says we cannot turn them directly around, without detention and a deportation hearing, unless they are citizens of Mexico or Canada. Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans (as well as the rest of the world) all have the opportunity for due process, allowing them to stay in this country until they have their day in court. In a small number of cases, the administration has said, they will be allowed to stay.

Republicans in Congress have fought against giving President Obama the nearly $4 billion he asked for to help expedite hearing the cases. Instead, they are looking at a much smaller bill, that includes rescinding the human rights exemption in the 2008 law for non-contiguous, near border states, so that the refugee children can be returned to their home countries as if they were refugees from Mexico (or Canada). The Senate bill, which was endorsed by the administration Monday, also cuts the amount of money by about a third, but does nothing to reverse the policy of treating the children like the asylum seekers they are.

Here's the insidious part, though. The "humanitarian crisis" (perhaps an overly appropriated diagnosis of a plethora of refugee issues) the act was meant to address is now being framed by Republicans as the children risking their lives to cross our borders, and what to do with them once they get here.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AROMA – creating sustainable activism across Atlanta movements

AROMA meeting
What AROMA seeks to do is “to build community and solidarity across existing groups, and across the entire social justice movement.” AROMA will “recruit for all of our organizations, all of our movements, and help new activists get involved more easily and comfortably, and really invest in their growth and their development as leaders.”

The idea is for the group to be a resource for Atlanta area activists by providing a directory of hundreds of organizations to whom they may want to lend their time and talents. But it’s also a resource for the organizations themselves, by being a place where they can find trained, committed activists who have been through AROMA’s mentoring program, and where, eventually, they can send their own budding activists for training.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Friday, June 27, 2014

Triage for a bleeding lame duck

"We conclude that the Recess Appointments Clause does not give the President the constitutional authority to make the appointments here at issue." - Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority opinion in the unanimous finding of N.L.R.B. v Canning, issued 26 June, 2014
"The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws." - Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio) announcing to the press his intention to get Congress to sue President Obama for not following his oath of office
There's blood in the water fountain on the North Lawn of the White House. Phrases like "constitutional authority" and "not faithfully executed" cast a shadow of doubt in the minds of the undiscerning, over the integrity of the president they elected to office, twice. The question is whether the Supreme Court and House Speaker John Boehner are inflicting a thousand tiny cuts or whether it's a self inflicted mortal wound cut by the knife of good intention.

White_House-NorthLawn
Wikimedia Commons

How the administration responds to these slings and arrows of misfortune is important, not only for President Obama, but also for the Democrats who hope to succeed him. With his popularity numbers hovering around 40 percent, and a public perception of disregard for the rules of power, the meme that asks "Do you want another four years of the kind of governing we saw under Obama," is going to make any Democratic candidate's push to the 2016 election difficult, especially those who have no buffer from the actions of the administration, like Vice President Joe Biden and the favored, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Monday, June 23, 2014

But what do we fight for? How about idealism, fairness and equality?

"I think Washington in general is unpopular, the president and congress, because we seem dysfunctional and we are dysfunctional." - Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), on NBC's Meet the Press, Sunday, June 22, 2014

In the American experience, our country's forebearers have left us a legacy of knowing who and what we are against. From religious persecution to the British, from slavery to Jim Crow, we fight. That is our story. We find purpose in the fight, so we agree on very little and the few policies where we find consensus are devoured by the vermin that infect the political beast. Just ask deposed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) what it's like to wake up with the fleas with whom you've gone to bed, crawling under your skin.

The Republicans like to draw a picture of Obama being the extreme, and then there's everyone else, or as John Boehner likes to call them, "the American people." (Someone should to a count of how many times the Speaker uses that phrase when he actually means the Republican base, but I guess they're American people, too - just not all the American people.) Inside the current dynamics of his party, that may be true.

"We are now operating in the Obama Republican Party," Jon Lerner, a Republican consultant, admitted to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, recently. "Obama’s lurch to the left on size-of-government issues has created an aggressive Republican reaction..."

That is, of course, an oversimplification.


READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Evolution: seeing without the lens of war

US Soldier in Afghanistan
US Army photo
We never asked to be the world's parental nest. We never asked. But we had the most money, the most successful populace with a laissez faire attitude about world affairs, and the biggest fist, the strongest hammer. Yet, as President Obama said at the West Point graduation, last week, "Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail."
"[T]o say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution."
There is difficulty in letting go of power, but there is greater difficulty in using it in unwelcome ways, like missile firing drones and monitored cellphones. If we want to have a relationship with the world, we must allow that relationship to evolve. Once we have stopped being the heavy hand with the rest of the planet, we can be the tender touch to nurture, from the strength of knowing how to get things done, what a free world creates.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The partisan imperative: fighting for the love of an agenda

Sanitation workers marching in Atlanta's MLK Day parade, January 20, 2014 (PBG)
Sanitation workers marching in Atlanta's MLK Day parade, January 20, 2014 (PBG)

Two days after most of the country marched and served their neighbors in celebration of the legacy of equality and civil rights preached by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., thousands gathered in Washington, DC, to protest the forty-first anniversary of the Supreme Court's pro-choice, Roe v. Wade decision.

Both events sprung from a time in this country when people came together, showing solidarity and common purpose, in order to affect change. Dr. King's legacy was as "a drum major for peace," who worked for the advancement of all segments of society. Roe v. Wade was the culmination of a struggle for women, who won the right to decide what to do with their own bodies. But neither outcome sat well with the movement that spawned those who marched against choice, Wednesday. Their demonstration showed that, for the culture warriors of the Right, the fight against even decades-old, settled law is never over.

 Conservative culture warriors never stay buried. They do go underground, however, and like a dormant seed, they wait until conditions are right for their reemergence.

 READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kerry insists Assad must go, but then what?

"There is no way – no way possible in the imagination," Kerry said in his remarks, at the Geneva II peace talks on the Syrian crisis, "that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern."
Kerry repeated the call in the Geneva communique issued following talks in June, 2012, and called for “a peaceful roadmap for transition. And,” he added, “the only thing standing in its way is the stubborn clinging to power of one man, one family.”

Read the post