Saturday, August 24, 2013

1963 - 2013

Thousands gathered today in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 Civil Rights March that culminated in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

An interesting footnote is that the Washington Post has put out an acknowledgement that "we blew it."   In reporting the 1963 event, they did not recognize the significance of King's speech, only mentioning "I have a dream" once in a wrap-up article on the rhetoric of the day's speeches.  In contrast, the New York Times led with it in its front page story.

In 1963 John Lewis was only 23, and today he is the only surviving speaker from that momentous day at the Lincoln Memorial.   In his speech today, he said that "The country is a different country, and we're better people."

He also proclaimed the necessity of continuing to 'stand up, speak out, get in the way, make some noise' in order to protect voting rights

In fact, the right of all to vote is being threatened today more than at any time since 1963.   Republicans, knowing they can't win on the issues, are resorting to lies, distortions, obstructionism, and changing voting laws to make it more difficult (and in some cases impossible) for millions of Americans to vote.

We can't let this happen.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Sen. Saxby Chambliss

I have not been a fan of our Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but I have to acknowledge that, at least in the past couple of years, he has participated in some bipartisan attempts to get some things done.   He was a member of the bipartisan Gang of  Six that tried to reach a compromise on the budget.  He has also worked with Democratic Sen. Mark Warner on the federal debt, and he has sought consensus on immigration.

At a recent Chamber of Commerce dinner in his honor, Chambliss said this:
"I don't mind crossing party lines.  If Republicans had a patent on all the good ideas, we'd be in power forever.   [But] We don't . . . .  It's difficult in Washington with the atmosphere right now.   It's more difficult than ever, I think."
Six Republicans are vying for the Republican nomination to succeed him.  Is anyone picking up that bipartisan mantle?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact.   It's candidate Michelle Nunn -- only she's running in the Democratic primary.   All the Republicans are either running the other way, or else keeping mum about any thought of cooperating to get things done.   Phil Gingrey and Paul Braun are definitely distancing themselves from that position.

At this same dinner, Gingrey said:   "I certainly believe it's time for us to stand our ground."  That's a real economy of words there, Brother Phil.   In one short sentence, you distanced yourself from the bipartisan leanings of Sen. Chambless, and you reminded people that you favor stand-your-ground gun laws.

The contrast was provided by Michelle Nunn.  Her campaign has already highlighted her work with former Republican President George H. W. Bush to merge her Hands On Atlanta volunteer project with Bush's Points of Light, from which she is currently on leave from her position as Executive Director.

This bodes well for a red to blue flip for the Georgia senate seat in November 2014.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Never mind the facts

A previous study showed that people who watch FoxNews know less factual news than people who do not follow any news source at all.    FoxNews puts out mis-information.

That must be why a new study by Public Policy Polling shows that 29% of Louisiana Republicans blame Barack Obama for the poor management of Hurricane Katrina.   Another 28% blame George W. Bush, and 44% did not know whom to blame.

Now, the facts, ma'am.

1.   Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in Aug. 2005
2.   George W. Bush was president from Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2009.
3.   Barack Obama became president in Jan, 2009.

Go figure.


Monday, August 19, 2013

More on the Egypt question

Charles A. Kupchan, professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, wrote an op-ed for the August 16th New York Times titled, "Democracy in Egypt Can Wait."   He expands on something I have struggled with:   Do we push democracy on nations that are not prepared for it, and does that sometimes makes things worse for their people?

Kupchan writes:
"Across the Middle East, glimmerings of democracy ae being snuffed out by political turmoil and violence.

"That reality requires a sobering course correction in American policy.  Rather than viewing the end of autocracy's monopoly in the region, Washington should downsize its ambition and work with transitional governments to establish the foundations of responsible, even if not democratic, rule. . . . "
This runs counter to the drumbeat from hawks, like Sens. McCain and Graham, and from anti-Obama forces who just relish another thing to blame on Obama's "weakness."   Kupchan continues:
"But while Washington must unequivocally condemn the violence unleashed by the Egyptian military, clamoring for a rapid return to democracy is misguided. . . .   [T]he penchant for rushing transitional states to the ballot box often does more harm than good, producing dysfunctional and illiberal regimes. . . .  

"Rather than cajoling Cairo to hold elections and threatening to suspend aid if it does not, Washington should press the current leadership to adhere to clear standards of responsible government. . . . 

"At this fragile moment in Egypt's political awakening, the performance of its government will be a more important determinant of its legitimacy and durability than whether it won an election. . . .  In nations that lack experience with constitutional constraints and democratic accountability, electoral victors usually embrace winner-take-all strategies;  they shut out the opposition, govern as they see fit and unsettle their neighbors. . . .

"Incremental change produces more durable resultsliberal democracies must be constructed from the ground up.   Constitutional restraint, judicial reform, political parties, economic privatization -- these building blocks of democratic societies need time to take root. . . .  

"The United States should do what it can to shepherd the arrival of liberal democracy in Egpyt and other parts of the Middle East.  
But the best way to do that is to go slow and help the region's states build functioning and resopnsible governmentsDemocracy can wait."
This makes sense to me.

If only our politicians and our frenetic media were mature enough to stop and think it through -- instead some elements are rushing headlong into dismantling some of the key building blocks of our own democracy, willful voter suppression being one.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Some GOP quotes

Who said there is no diversity in the Republican party?

1.    The reasonable:   Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) about some Republicans threat to shut down the government unless they defund ObamaCare: 
"It seems to me there's appropriate ways to deal with the law, but shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum.
2.  The extreme:   Rep. Paul Braun (R-GA), flaunting his position as the ultra-conservative candidate in a crowded field for the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss, said the following:
On taxes:  "Ten percent is good enough for the Lord, so it ought to be good enough for Uncle Sam."
On abortion:   "Planned Parenthood wants to continue abortion all the way up to the second that the head pops out, that the whole body pops out."
Remember Paul Braun is a doctor, so he should know about such things, right?   Yeah.   But he also insists that "The theory of evolution is a lie straight from the pits of hell."

Unfortunately, Braun's rhetoric represents the strangle-hold his ilk has on the Congress.  To further illustrate his unreasonable positions:    He wants to cut taxes in half but have good quality health care for all Americans, provide quality education for all children, and take care of senior citizens; be good stewards of our environment (in the biblical sense) but abolish the EPA.

He wants us to have all these things;  he just doesn't trust the federal government to do them, so he wants to abolish all the bureacracies -- and cut taxes in half.

So what's the treatment plan, Dr. Braun?   We're waiting for some details that make sense.