Yesterday was a sad day for our country and leaves little hope that Congress can work on behalf of the American people. Not that this bill did very much for prevention of gun violence. In fact, the expanded background checks only included gun shows. It did not allow background checks on sales between family members or friends, it did not stop the easy access to guns online, it did not outlaw armor piercing bullets, it did not address gun trafficking, and it did not limit magazine capacity or assault weapons.
Nevertheless, it was an important test to see if Congress, specifically Republicans had the courage to stand up to the NRA. With over 90 percent of the country supporting universal background checks, I thought Congress might actually try to address gun violence. Passing this watered-down loop riddled bill would have provided some evidence that Congress can still act in the best interest of the country. At the end of the day, Congress said the NRA is more important than the safety of the American people.
Ten years to the day, this country was misled into an unnecessary war in Iraq. I was in law school at the time and I remember thinking, “Why are we attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11?” President George W. Bush used the fear and emotions of 9/11 to launch this war of choice. We were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam would attack us if we didn’t strike first. Later, we were told that America was fighting to “free” the Iraq people. At the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a whopping 71 percent of Americans supported the war. But there were some protestors and a few brave politicians that spoke out against the invasion of Iraq. One such public official was a young state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. Senator Obama said:
“I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”
The speech was prescient and helped launch State Senator Obama from a little-known figure to the US Senate and, eventually, to the Presidency. At the time, it was a major risk to speak out against the war because you would be marginalized and called unpatriotic for simply stating a dissenting opinion.
Ten years later, we know that the justification and the execution of the war was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history. Ten years later, we now know that: over 4,000 American soldiers have died, tens of thousands of American soldiers have been disabled, and over one hundred thousand Iraqis have died. Today, some 53 Iraqis died in a massive attack and it’s hard to argue that the country is better off than they were ten years ago.
Looks like those protestors who the Bush administration tried so hard to suppress and marginalize were correct all along. Do you think we have learned our lesson as a country?
The speeches at this week’s CPAC demonstrate the real divide in the Republican Party. Most Republicans believe they lost the election not because of their policies, but because they just didn’t communicate well.
While Mitt Romney won the same percentage of the white vote as both Regan and George H.W. Bush, he still lost by a significant margin. Indeed, Mitt Romney lost almost every other demographic losing single women 68-30, Latinos 71-27, African Americans 94-0, Asian Americans 73-26, and women 56-44. The hostile language use against these groups backfired against the GOP and the problem for the GOP is that these voters are growing. Governor Rick Perry of Texas and many republicans believe that republicans lost the election because they were not conservative enough. The truth is that if the GOP cannot stand up to its own radical base and find a way to reach out to minorities and young voters they will continue to lose national elections. Notice that Christ Christie a very conservative Governor in a blue state was not invited to the CPAC convention. While Chris Christie could win a presidential election, he probably would lose in the primary because he has worked with the President to help his state.
Not sure if you got a chance to read the Enquirer today but it provides more evidence that Smitherman is following the command of Republican Party bosses. The heading is kind of misleading in that you think Deters has stopped giving money to the NAACP because Smitherman is critical of Deters. But the article is referencing the past and implies that Smitherman stop criticizing Deters when Deters threatened to cut off funds to the NAACP. After this conversation, the NAACP received $25,000 from Joe Deters. Do you think the head of the NAACP should be controlled by Joe Deters?
Yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing on the Voting Rights Act reminds us that although we have come far in this country, our battle to perfect our union is a constant struggle. The Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson and requires states with a history of racial discrimination to seek the approval of the Federal government before making changes to its election laws and procedures. Now the conservative majority appears ready to strike the law.
Justice Scalia stated, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes."“This is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress," he adds.
First, I don’t understand how protecting the right of minorities amounts to a “racial entitlement.” If he means that minorities are entitled to have their votes counted, then I guess he is correct.We are entitled to be protected against laws that make it harder or more difficult for certain populations to vote. I would like to point Justice Scalia (or anyone who believes this entitlement argument) to the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment provides that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Voting Rights Act has been the most effective tool in preventing states from abridging the right of minorities to vote. The Justices acknowledge the law has worked, so why do they want to overturn it?
Second, the remarks by Justice Scalia demonstrate exactly what I thought conservatives despised - an “activist judge.” Though the law was recently reauthorized in 2006 with nearly universal support in Congress, Scalia feels it is the Court’s role to intervene because it is a “racial entitlement.”
Third, overturning the Voting Rights Act would open the floodgates to more voter suppression laws and legal challenges. In essence, Scalia, and possibly a majority of the conservative court, do not really believe in protecting the rights of minorities, consumers, or anyone for that matter. If the Court overturns the Voting Rights Act, remember that moment so you can fully understand why it matters who is elected President in this country. I want a progressive President who understands the need to appoint justices that will seek to expand the freedom of our citizens, not limit them.