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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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