This MLK Day, Arizona moves forward

From the Restore Fairness blog-

In the aftermath of the shootings in Tucson, debates are raging over hate-filled rhetoric in the political sphere. According to Daniel Hernandez, the brave volunteer in Gabriel Zimmerman’s office who helped his boss amidst all the chaos-

“I think a lot of people are realizing that the political discourse has, for years, become completely destructive and more about tearing the other people apart instead of trying to work together to build up the nation and the state.”

Political analysts suggest that, while there are no obvious motives for the attack, the current theme in politics recently might easily give more people like Jared Lee Loughner the inspiration to resort to violence. Others are arguing for stricter gun control, an issue that has picked up momentum since the recent shootings.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the 17th of this month, we need to take a minute to sit back and introspect on why we have become a nation whose politics are filled with spewing hatred and fear. Taking a cue from Martin Luther King’s own life, struggles and politics, it is time to look forward and strive for a public discourse that is open and civil. President Obama, in his memorial address at Tucson, has also called for an end to the constant barrage of accusations and hatred against each other by all political actors-

…at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Instead of starting a blame game, which inevitably leads to more word wars, why not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year with a renewed fervor for civility? In an effort to counter the hatred on the political arena in the country, people have called for organized movements to bring back civility in political and public discourse. The Anti Defamation League has launched ‘Restore Civility,’ a call for a more respectful political debate. Another project to follow is the “History of Hate, Future of Progress” Story Collection Project, started by Alto Arizona, asking people to uncover stories of intolerance, hate speech and violent rhetoric in their own community.

In addition to remembering those we have lost, there is lots to do this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Celebrate the spirit and courage of the man who continued in his struggles without resorting to political hatred, rancor or anger, despite facing stiff opposition along the way.

Besides the annual MLK Day parades in almost every major city in the country, here is a list of events you can attend to show your support for a more “civilized” public sphere!

Arizona
Those living in the metro Phoenix area can celebrate Martin Luther King and the diversity that is this country by attending the Celebration Festival at the Mesa Arts Center. Come for live entertainment, food booths, medical screenings, a job fair and vendors.

New York
Lets teach our children tolerance, respect and an understanding of diversity and equality. Raising Citizens is a weekend-long Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival at the Children’s Museum. Kids experience discussions of Dr. King’s life and teachings, craft projects, and performances by the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir.

Washington DC
Student sit-ins, roundtable discussions, drama, and music- at The National Museum of American History’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Family Festival you can be part of an inspirational tribute to the life and work of Dr King.

Los Angeles
Cheer on young volunteers as the City Year Corps Volunteers head to Thomas Edison Middle School to give the school a makeover on Jan. 17. From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers will paint rooms, a mural, and landscape, and beautify the campus.

Boston
Boston is celebrating Martin Luther King by hosting a free tribute concert at Faneuil Hall Boston. Join the Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events, the Museum of African American History and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) in remembering a great man, and listen to poet and activist Nikki Giovanni who will deliver the keynote speech.

Chicago
Northwestern’s Chicago Campus will be hosting Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, for a talk on spiritual symbols and frames of reference for unity in light of what Dr King thought about pluralism.

As Jon Stewart aptly put it:

Wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take this opportunity, and the loss of these incredible people, and the pain that their loved ones are going through right now, wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take that moment to make sure that the world that we are creating now, that will ultimately be shattered again by a moment of lunacy, wouldn’t it be a shame if that world wasn’t better than the one we’d previously lost?

Lets hope for a better tomorrow.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

What Obama is Missing

I know everyone is going to yell at me for writing this now. I can hear it now, "We're trying to win an election! You're not helping! Criticizing Democrats now is akin to getting into bed with Karl Rove!" Ok, I hope not the last one, that sounds creepy, but you get the point.

The reality is while a lot of people are talking, we're actually doing something. Along with PCCC and DFA, we are participating in TurkOutTheVote.com. That is part of their larger effort at CallOutTheVote.com  to get people who care to volunteer and make calls to turn out the vote for strong progressives. Please help in that effort if you have any free time. Some of the elections are very close and talking to real voters helps tremendously.

Now, the reason I'm writing a piece critical of Obama at this point is because I just saw an excellent interview Jon Stewart had with him on The Daily Show. In fact, I thought it was the best interview of the president I have ever seen (my detailed analysis of the interview is here).

Stewart got him to address real, substantive criticism of his record for the first time. Almost everyone else that has interviewed him has either wildly misstated the case or challenged him from the right. Stewart asked all of the right questions. And the answers were very informative. This is what I learned.

Unfortunately, Obama doesn't get it. He's not alone; almost the entire Washington media doesn't understand what the hell we're talking about when we say change. Obama said that he got 90% of what we wanted in health care reform and that people are complaining we didn't get the other 10%. I totally disagree with him on the percentages (I think it was closer to 40%), but that misses the whole point.

We're not quibbling over legislative compromises. For example, I would have given the NRA exemption and every other exemption that was proposed to pass the DISCLOSE act. We're not stupid, we understand the need to compromise and the fact that of course you can't get all of what you want.

The real issue isn't whether you changed some provisions and didn't change others; it's whether you changed the system or not. That's the change we were looking for.

So, in the case of health care, as long as there was some effort to break the health insurance monopoly we would have all jumped in. We didn't need single payer, we didn't need Medicare buy-in for everyone, we didn't even need the public option for everyone (all of those would have been great, but we were nowhere near them in this political cimate). We just needed something, something to start changing the broken system.

We would have settled for Medicare buy-in starting at age 55. We would have settled for the public option that only applied for 5% of the country, the last proposal. There were no wild demands, no mythical inflexible progressives demanding 100%. We just didn't want the core of the system to be exactly as it was before. And unfortunately it is.

Yes, we got more coverage for more people. I'm not discounting the good sides of the bill, but at the same time you can't be purposely dense to what we're saying. Private health insurance is still our only option, drug companies still have massive monopolies, our premiums are still going up and we are still at the mercy of these corporations.

But health care is just an example; the real heart of the issue is how our elections are financed. The lobbyists are killing us. The Democratic voters hate them and so do the Republican voters. They buy our politicians and corrupt the whole system. That is what the Tea Party protestors are most angry about at their core (73% of Tea Party supporters are against the Citizens United decision that allows for corporations to spend unlimited money on elections). That is what progressives are most angry about at their core (86% of liberals are against Citizens United). The system is broken. Our politicians don't work for us. Our representatives don't represent us. That is what we wanted to change!

And what was done about that? Nearly nothing! Yes, Obama administration brought a little more transparency to the process initially (though after Citizens United we've taken a giant step backwards - and that's a part of why that is one of the most unpopular decisions in Supreme Court history). Yes, the administration mostly banned lobbyists for working for them directly. But there was no major piece of legislation to fix the heart of the system.

If we continue to let special interests, corporate interests and lobbyists buy our politicians, there's no hope on any of the issues. Then Obama is right, the best we could hope for is a little bit of change in the different fields. If you accept that false premise, then Obama did the best he could do within those constraints.

But we didn't elect him to accept that premise, we elected him to change that premise. That was the change we were waiting for - and didn't get.

Unfortunately, based on President Obama's answers to Jon Stewart he still doesn't get it and has no intentions of pushing that agenda in the next two years. And he will probably be just as flummoxed then as to why people aren't satisfied with his efforts. Your timidity isn't based on your specific policy proposals; it's based on your lack of vision.

If he fought tooth and nail for complete public financing of elections in the next two years, even if he didn't win, we would all back him 100%. We don't need 100% success, but we do need you to at least head in the right direction. And we need you to understand what we meant by change.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
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What Obama is Missing

I know everyone is going to yell at me for writing this now. I can hear it now, "We're trying to win an election! You're not helping! Criticizing Democrats now is akin to getting into bed with Karl Rove!" Ok, I hope not the last one, that sounds creepy, but you get the point.

The reality is while a lot of people are talking, we're actually doing something. Along with PCCC and DFA, we are participating in TurkOutTheVote.com. That is part of their larger effort at CallOutTheVote.com  to get people who care to volunteer and make calls to turn out the vote for strong progressives. Please help in that effort if you have any free time. Some of the elections are very close and talking to real voters helps tremendously.

Now, the reason I'm writing a piece critical of Obama at this point is because I just saw an excellent interview Jon Stewart had with him on The Daily Show. In fact, I thought it was the best interview of the president I have ever seen (my detailed analysis of the interview is here).

Stewart got him to address real, substantive criticism of his record for the first time. Almost everyone else that has interviewed him has either wildly misstated the case or challenged him from the right. Stewart asked all of the right questions. And the answers were very informative. This is what I learned.

Unfortunately, Obama doesn't get it. He's not alone; almost the entire Washington media doesn't understand what the hell we're talking about when we say change. Obama said that he got 90% of what we wanted in health care reform and that people are complaining we didn't get the other 10%. I totally disagree with him on the percentages (I think it was closer to 40%), but that misses the whole point.

We're not quibbling over legislative compromises. For example, I would have given the NRA exemption and every other exemption that was proposed to pass the DISCLOSE act. We're not stupid, we understand the need to compromise and the fact that of course you can't get all of what you want.

The real issue isn't whether you changed some provisions and didn't change others; it's whether you changed the system or not. That's the change we were looking for.

So, in the case of health care, as long as there was some effort to break the health insurance monopoly we would have all jumped in. We didn't need single payer, we didn't need Medicare buy-in for everyone, we didn't even need the public option for everyone (all of those would have been great, but we were nowhere near them in this political cimate). We just needed something, something to start changing the broken system.

We would have settled for Medicare buy-in starting at age 55. We would have settled for the public option that only applied for 5% of the country, the last proposal. There were no wild demands, no mythical inflexible progressives demanding 100%. We just didn't want the core of the system to be exactly as it was before. And unfortunately it is.

Yes, we got more coverage for more people. I'm not discounting the good sides of the bill, but at the same time you can't be purposely dense to what we're saying. Private health insurance is still our only option, drug companies still have massive monopolies, our premiums are still going up and we are still at the mercy of these corporations.

But health care is just an example; the real heart of the issue is how our elections are financed. The lobbyists are killing us. The Democratic voters hate them and so do the Republican voters. They buy our politicians and corrupt the whole system. That is what the Tea Party protestors are most angry about at their core (73% of Tea Party supporters are against the Citizens United decision that allows for corporations to spend unlimited money on elections). That is what progressives are most angry about at their core (86% of liberals are against Citizens United). The system is broken. Our politicians don't work for us. Our representatives don't represent us. That is what we wanted to change!

And what was done about that? Nearly nothing! Yes, Obama administration brought a little more transparency to the process initially (though after Citizens United we've taken a giant step backwards - and that's a part of why that is one of the most unpopular decisions in Supreme Court history). Yes, the administration mostly banned lobbyists for working for them directly. But there was no major piece of legislation to fix the heart of the system.

If we continue to let special interests, corporate interests and lobbyists buy our politicians, there's no hope on any of the issues. Then Obama is right, the best we could hope for is a little bit of change in the different fields. If you accept that false premise, then Obama did the best he could do within those constraints.

But we didn't elect him to accept that premise, we elected him to change that premise. That was the change we were waiting for - and didn't get.

Unfortunately, based on President Obama's answers to Jon Stewart he still doesn't get it and has no intentions of pushing that agenda in the next two years. And he will probably be just as flummoxed then as to why people aren't satisfied with his efforts. Your timidity isn't based on your specific policy proposals; it's based on your lack of vision.

If he fought tooth and nail for complete public financing of elections in the next two years, even if he didn't win, we would all back him 100%. We don't need 100% success, but we do need you to at least head in the right direction. And we need you to understand what we meant by change.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

Boehner Jokes

One of Jon Stewart’s most outstanding moments during the Bush administration was a 2006 segment—they called it “Rambling Man”—in which he dutifully displayed the 43rd president’s hapless and constant speechifying in response to violent events in Iraq that had spiraled out of his control and the resultant collapse of his popularity. In the interest of fairness and journalistic integrity—two things are no doubt synonymous with the awesome Daily Show—Mr. Stewart has now given the 44th president the very same treatment. The result: Escapist hilarity followed by a depressing comedown.  

If Barack Obama’s personal and much-publicized attack on incoming House speaker John Boehner is any indication, we can assume the White House has finally caught up to what is certain to be the ugly result of the upcoming elections. This, Dear Readers, is what both people like me (self-aware employers of clichés) and the president (as a basketball enthusiast) must recognize as running out the clock.

The president journeyed to someplace known as Parma, Ohio, to tout three new economic initiatives. Since we know for certain that the demonstrable failure of already-implemented policies aren’t to blame for Democratic electoral woes, many in the Washington chattering class have been hectoring him to make a “hard pivot”—i.e. renewed speechifying and feckless stop-gap measures—to economic issues to shore up support for the party.

POLITICO has some salient details:

Touting his own economic plans, Obama alluded to three new proposals to jolt the struggling economy: a $50 billion federal investment to overhaul the nation’s railroads, highways and runways; a big tax break for businesses that conduct research and experimentation; and tax write-offs for companies’ expenditures on hiring, equipment and expansion.

Those measures carry a $180 billion price tag; Obama was careful to avoid calling it an economic stimulus plan, given the current national mood against government spending and the massive national debt. Republicans have nevertheless hammered the president, comparing his plan to the $814 billion emergency spending package he pushed through Congress last year – a measure the GOP leadership has declared a failure.

Sponsor of SB1070 doesn't understand it. The Daily Show does (and doesn't like it)

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Three simple images. Dora, Eric from Chips, and a serial killer. Now guess – who looks “reasonably suspicious” of not having papers and therefore should be stopped and questioned by the Arizona police as per it’s new law, SB1070?

That’s the question Daily Show host Jon Stewart asked on the show last night, referencing the images above. Calling out the “draconian new immigration law” for being an affront to democracy by requiring people to carry their documents on them, he likened it to a time in the pre-civil rights era when newly freed black slaves were required to carry IDs. Jokes apart, the staged sketch gave us a little taste of what life could be like if SB1070 was, in fact, enforced in Arizona. It was the same question posed to Governor Jan Brewer, when signing the bill into law, to which she replied, “I don’t know what an undocumented immigrant looks like?”

Confusion around the bill is rife. In an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, co-sponsor of the bill Senator Huppenthal agreed that it would be racial profiling were officers to check the status of someone based on “reasonable suspicion”, thereby going against the statute of the bill that he signed into law. About 8 mins. into the clip, Chris Matthews asks Senator Huppenthal -

Under the law you passed and was signed by the governor this week, can a police officer who spots a car with five or six people in it, who he thinks because of instinct, experience, whatever, evidence, whatever you use— can he stop that car and say, I think these people are here illegally, I‘m going to stop and check them?  Can he under the law do that, without any crime involved?  Can he do that?

After hedging the question, Senator Huppenthal answered-

You know, the racial profiling was illegal before this bill. It‘s illegal after it.  The bill itself makes it illegal…No, he cannot.  That would be – that would just simply be racial profiling, and that would not be permitted under the law.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Since its passage, civil rights groups, advocacy groups and President Obama have critiqued SB1070 for practically mandating racial profiling and violating fundamental notions of fairness. Clearly, when its co-sponsors cannot articulate its impact, then its effects will be even more adverse. These are already being felt on Arizona’s economy and tourism as calls for an economic boycott come to light, even as Governor Brewer continues to deny any wrongdoing. Meanwhile Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has taken a strong opposition stand to what he considers an unconstitutional and unenforceable law, including approaching the Phoenix City Council to give their support to a lawsuit filed by the city of Phoenix to prevent the laws implementation because of its effects on civil rights and costs associated with its wrongdoings.

SB1070 is going to have ripple effects. For the state of Arizona, for its potential copycat effect across the nation, and for the ideals of equality and justice. Take action now and stop this dangerous law from being implemented.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

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