Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Lies, Sweet Little Lies": Republican VP Nominee Paul Ryan Addresses the RNC

Yesterday, Republican Nominee for Vice President Paul Ryan gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. Although the speech was eloquent and powerful, there was one problem. It was a fountain of lies.

Think Progress summarized the six worst lies in the speech.

1. “A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

2. “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their math doesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

3. Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

4. Obama “did exactly nothing” on Bowles-Simpson. Ryan said, “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” In fact, Ryan was instrumental in sabotaging the commission, leading the other House Republicans in voting against the plan.

5. “$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan’s favorite lie is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Furthermore, Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these savings. Romney has vowed to restore these cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.

6. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” However, numerous clergy members have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would give ultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.

Little Lies should be the Romney/Ryan campaign theme song.

Condoleeza Rice Addresses the RNC

Good morning family.

Yesterday, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice addressed the Republican National Convention.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mitt Romney's Token Negroes Address the RNC

As reported in the Root,

That rainbow coalition of onstage GOP stars is scheduled to include in part: Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state whose boss, George W. Bush, is conspicuously absent from the proceedings; Mia Love, an African-American Mormon from Utah who is running for a U.S. congressional seat; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a purported finalist to join Romney on the ticket before Ryan was named to the second spot; a gubernatorial trio of Nevada's Brian Sandoval, New Mexico's Susana Martinez and South Carolina's Nikki Haley; and Artur Davis -- an African-American former Alabama officeholder, Democrat and Obama supporter -- who is a chief talking point for Republicans challenged on their diversity bona fides. (Missing is a favored son businessman Herman Cain, who rose high before flaming out during primary season.)

But it's doubtful that the multiethnic tableau will be duplicated in the sea of delegates shouting "USA, USA." That's been the case for years at conservative gatherings where -- despite featuring the song stylings of a Chaka Khan (at the 2000 convention) or the occasional gospel choir -- minorities, particularly African Americans, are also greatly in the minority.
In the Washington Post, African American Republican Raynard Jackson writes:

This is the fourth Republican convention that I have attended, and it is by far the least diverse. I now know what America would look like if all
(Mark Wilson - Getty Images) blacks and other people of color mysteriously disappeared. Reporters have been calling me, practically begging me to find them some blacks to interview for their various media outlets. Is this really the 21st century? I have not been showered with this much attention since I was a little baby!

But even more alarming than the lack of blacks as convention attendees, delegates or Mitt Romney staff members is the lack of blacks in the pipeline to be future party operatives.
Since there are so few African Americans at the Republican National Convention, people have started counting how many black people are attending. On Twitter, people are using the hash tag #negrospotting to describe that phenomena.

The GOP is largely a white, male, Southern political party that is openly hostile to the interests of African Americans, Latinos, women, the elderly, the middle class, the workers and the poor. No flowery speeches from Mitt Romney's token Negroes will change that ugly reality.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

President Obama Must Stand Up and Address Racism!

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a thought provoking article for the Atlantic entitled Fear of a Black President.  I encourage everyone to take time to read his brilliant article.  In it, Coates writes that:
Part of that conservatism about race has been reflected in his reticence: for most of his term in office, Obama has declined to talk about the ways in which race complicates the American present and, in particular, his own presidency...      
Daniel Gillion, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies race and politics, examined the Public Papers of the Presidents, a compilation of nearly all public presidential utterances—­proclamations, news-conference remarks, executive orders—and found that in his first two years as president, Obama talked less about race than any other Democratic president since 1961. Obama’s racial strategy has been, if anything, the opposite of radical: he declines to use his bully pulpit to address racism, using it instead to engage in the time-honored tradition of black self-hectoring, railing against the perceived failings of black culture.     
His approach is not new. It is the approach of Booker T. Washington, who, amid a sea of white terrorists during the era of Jim Crow, endorsed segregation and proclaimed the South to be a land of black opportunity. It is the approach of L. Douglas Wilder, who, in 1986, not long before he became Virginia’s first black governor, kept his distance from Jesse Jackson and told an NAACP audience: “Yes, dear Brutus, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves … Some blacks don’t particularly care for me to say these things, to speak to values … Somebody’s got to. We’ve been too excusing.” It was even, at times, the approach of Jesse Jackson himself, who railed against “the rising use of drugs, and babies making babies, and violence … cutting away our opportunity"...     
Whatever the political intelligence of this calculus, it has broad and deep consequences. The most obvious result is that it prevents Obama from directly addressing America’s racial history, or saying anything meaningful about present issues tinged by race, such as mass incarceration or the drug war. There have been calls for Obama to take a softer line on state-level legalization of marijuana or even to stand for legalization himself. Indeed, there is no small amount of in­consistency in our black president’s either ignoring or upholding harsh drug laws that every day injure the prospects of young black men—laws that could have ended his own, had he been of another social class and arrested for the marijuana use he openly discusses. ”
For example, when Trayvon Martin was lynched, it took President Obama about a month to issue any statement, and that response came after a reporter raised the issue. When urged to directly address unemployment and poverty in the black community, the President says "a rising tide lifts all boats" and that "he is not the President of Black America."   

African Americans are the President's base. We are his most loyal supporters. According to news reports, black support for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is at zero percent. Approximately 94 percent of African Americans support the President. In exchange for our support, our issues should be at forefront of the President's agenda.  He should and must speak out about race and racism.  Sentimental symbolism and black cultural references are not sufficient.

The President boldly addresses the issues of facing LGBTs, Latinos and women.  However, when it comes to race, the President is silent. Sadly, we enable the President to remain silent by mindlessly chanting and convincing ourselves that "he's not the President of Black America." No other lobbying group takes such a self-defeating and self-censoring attitude. You will never hear other groups say, "He's not the President of gay America. He's not the President of feminist America. He's not the President of immigrant America."  Other interest groups relentlessly promote their agenda without apology. We must do the same.

We cannot afford to remain silent. As reported in the Huffington Post, the unemployment rate for African Americans was 13.6 percent in May, compared to a national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent. For black men, the unemployment rate was 15 percent in May. For black women, the unemployment rate was 12.3 percent.

Moreover, according to the Associated Press, "the ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net." Experts expect the poverty rate to increase from 15.1 percent to 15.7 percent, the highest level since 1965. Poverty disproportionately affects black people and Latinos. According to the New York Times,
"Minorities were hit hardest. Blacks experienced the highest poverty rate, at 27 percent, up from 25 percent in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26 percent from 25 percent. For whites, 9.9 percent lived in poverty, up from 9.4 percent in 2009. Asians were unchanged at 12.1 percent."
The “a rising tide lifts all boats” approach and attitude has not worked. Instead of demonizing people like Cornel West and Travis Smiley for pressuring President Obama to address the issue of poverty, we should join them.

In all fairness, none of those problems started under President Obama's administration. Certainly, the President has implemented policies that benefit African Americans such as the Affordable Health Care Act, the Fair Sentencing Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and other policies.  Obviously, such policies are more important than rhetoric. 

However, the President must directly and specifically speak about race and racism. He must develop targeted programs to address disproportionate unemployment and poverty in the black community. He has a moral obligation to the countless African Americans who fought and died for the right to vote. He owes it to the overwhelming percentage of African Americans who voted for him in 2008.  Stand up, Mr. President!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Judge Allows GOP to Suppress Minority and Elderly Voters in Pennsylvania

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As reported in the Washington Post,
A Pennsylvania judge Wednesday allowed a Republican-backed law requiring voters to show IDs to go into effect starting this Election Day, a setback for Democrats and civil rights groups who contend that such laws could deny many Americans the right to vote.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said those challenging the law had failed to prove that it violates the state constitution by denying voters’ rights. He also disputed the challengers’ predictions of the number of voters at stake and said there is still time for those without proper ID to acquire it...
Supporters of recent laws passed by several Republican legislatures requiring voters to show IDs say the measures protect the integrity of the electoral process by making sure only qualified voters cast ballots.
Democrats and minority groups counter that the restrictions are likely to disenfranchise voters — often minorities, the poor and elderly, those who live in urban areas and others who may not have the type of photo ID required....
Cases of voter impersonation fraud — the kind that would be stopped by photo ID laws — are exceedingly rare. Pennsylvania acknowledged that such fraud had not occurred in the commonwealth, nor was it likely to occur in the coming election, even without the law.
The bottom line is simple. The Republicans realize that they probably will not win the Presidential Election on the merits.  So what do they do?  They do everything in their power to suppress voters who tend to vote Democratic.

Their primary targets are African Americans, Latinos, the poor and the elderly.  A disproportionately high percentage of African Americans do not have the required government issued photo IDs.  Many elderly African Americans born were in rural areas during the Jim Crow time period and do not have birth certificates. Consequently, it is difficult if not impossible for them to get government photo IDs.  For those who are poor or on a fixed income, paying for a government photo ID or a birth certificate is basically a poll tax.  No one should be forced to choose between eating and voting.

Instead of just complaining about the problem, progressives must step up their efforts to ensure that all citizens have the necessary photo IDs and documentation.  We must intensify our voter registration, mobilization and education efforts.  If we don't, over 700,000 people in Pennsylvania alone may be disenfranchised.