Category: Your Voice Written by Tonyaa Weathersbee
We’ve seen this all before, and it’s hard to believe that, more than 50 years later, we’re seeing it again.
We saw it in Virginia in 1958 when segregationist lawmakers opted to shut down the entire public school system of Prince Edward County, Va., rather than allow black students to attend school with white students.
Those schools remained closed until 1964.
We saw it again in 2011, when anti-tax Tea Party congressmen, driven by an obsession with undermining the nation’s first black president and a woeful ignorance of macroeconomics, drove the country to the brink of default by refusing to allow him to raise the debt ceiling.
No matter that their hero, Ronald Reagan, raised the ceiling 18 times and George W. Bush raised it seven times.
While an agreement was finally reached, the political dysfunction on display led Standard and Poor’s — one of the top three credit rating organizations — to downgrade the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+.
For the first time ever.
Now, those same anti-tax zealots are about to take the country over the edge again – the edge this time being the fiscal cliff.
And apparently, they don’t care about that – as long as President Obama goes over the edge with it.
Some patriots they are.
According to the Associated Press, a number of Tea Party activists are cheering House Speaker John Boehner’s failure to persuade his fellow House members to agree to a compromise on averting the fiscal cliff – a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect on Jan. 1.
Among other things, the cliff will lead to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit and increases in payroll and income taxes. Defense spending would be cut as well –and many economists have warned that going over the cliff could lead to another recession, and possibly another credit downgrade.
But apparently the Tea Party folks, who won’t agree to any compromise that raises taxes on the rich in spite of the fact that without an agreement, virtually everyone will be hit with steep cuts and tax increases, don’t see that.
They don’t see the American people suffering as much as they see them as collateral damage in their war to take out Obama.
Said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly: “If it takes us going off a cliff to convince people of the mess we’re in, then so be it.
“We have a president who is a whiner. He has done nothing but blame President Bush. It’s time to make President Obama own this economy.”
Christine Morabito, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, told AP that “sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better,” and that Republicans need to unite against Obama.
“It looked like from the very beginning they [the GOP] were just going to cave in to what President Obama wanted,” said Morabito. “I didn’t want that to happen. Now I’m hopeful that they’re standing up for taxpaying Americans.”
Both Connelly and Morabito are clueless.
The way to stand up for taxpaying Americans, in fact, all Americans, is to insure that they don’t have to endure more taxes because of political intransigence.
Yet the comments by these tea partiers and others reveal what their real mission is. Their mission is to punish the entire country for re-electing Obama; to make people pay for the sin of rejecting their politics of racial resentment and putting the black man back in the White House.
There are lessons here, of course.
One is an old one for the Republicans who welcomed the Tea Party-backed lawmakers into the fold but are now worried that their extremism may lead to the party’s further weakening: Be careful of what you ask for, because you just might get it.
The other is for voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections that ushered in this wave of Tea Party Republicans who may now send the country crashing over the fiscal cliff: When you don’t vote, extremists get elected.
Extremists who, like the racist Virginia lawmakers more than 50 years ago, want to preserve their sense of privilege and supremacy at the expense of progress for everyone else.
Whether that progress is for a school system or, for that matter, an entire country.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:37
Category: Your Voice Written by Tom Watkins
On Dec. 7, 20 children were brutally slaughtered along with six hero educators.
With a burst of gunfire in Newtown, Connecticut, the nation’s innocence is once again shattered and 20 young children lie in their own blood dead, along with caring educators and the twisted young man who snuffed out all their lives.
Americans are angry that these senseless murders continue with little or no constructive response to prevent them going forward.
If this mass murder of innocent children and the hero educators, who nurtured and loved them until their last breath, in a school is not a wake-up call that shakes our moral sensibilities to our core, I am uncertain what will.
Today and for eternity, we are stuck with the memory of this unimaginable massacre of innocence, children and educators.
As a state and nation, what will be our response?
Hopefully, doing nothing will no longer be tolerated.
President Obama spoke in Newtown at an interfaith service to the parents, family, friends and first responders. He got it right when he said we are failing “at our first task,” which he said was to care for the children of the nation. “We are not doing enough, and we will have to change” the president continued.
Before the tears had dried, the dead were buried and the family and friends had had the time to absorb the magnitude of their loss, let alone grive, the politicians were debating who is at fault.
Let me make it easy on them —we all are at fault.
When will enough be enough of the senseless gun violence, be it on the streets of Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, our nation’s capital or the similar Newtown massacres that have become all to common?
Our national pain should not fade until our state and nation’s leaders take decisive action on multiple fronts to address this horror in our midst.
We need to embrace the thoughts of historian Will Durant who observed, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”
If we do not come together now to address this madness, we our giving up on the very soul from which this great nation sprang.
A Call To Action
Our response needs to be grander than fortifying our school buildings or putting forth powder-puff gun restrictions.
Across the nation, we closed antiquated mental health institutions, promising to replace them with appropriate community based-treatment and proceeded to underfund and then slashed the inadequate funding when state and local budgets became tight.
(See: National Alliance for the Mental Illness (NAMI) State Mental Health Cuts are a National Crisis; State-By-State Data Re
We need to appropriately fund prevention and treatment programs for persons with serious mental illness and be ready to protect those individuals and society with hospitalization when warranted. We also must get serious about addressing the stigma that surrounds mental illness often preventing people from seeking treatment.
Stop the lunacy!
We need to declaw the National Riffle Association with their nonsense response that “People kill people, guns don’t pull the trigger!” Assault riffles are meant to assault.
Guns do kill. New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof points out that according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written a book on gun violence, “Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times more likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries.”
Finding a sensible policy, law or regulation that keeps these weapons off our streets and out of the hands of deranged people is not a violation of the Second Amendment and does not interfere with the rights of any legitimate gun owner. It would stop people from hunting other people within our communities.
Legitimate gun ownership for sport, self-protection or collection purposes is not at issue. Making it easy for anyone to obtain assault weapons with ammunition clips capable of shooting dozens of high powered bullets in seconds is pure lunacy.
Sensible people can develop laws that can help reduce if not prevent theses senseless mass killing while protecting Second Amendment rights.
We need to challenge and eliminate the culture of violence we tolerate in movies, television and video games that is corrosive to a healthy and stable society.
Certainly, we need adequate security in our schools without turning them into prison cells and fortresses creating a false sense of security while making contractors wealthy.
When Is Enough, Enough?
When are we willing to recognize that senseless slaughter can be minimized and prevented if we mesh quality mental health services with sensible, enforceable, strong gun ownership laws and a demand that violence is not sold as entertainment?
President Obama was publicly bought to tears from learning of this latest mass murder from within. He traveled to Newtown and grieved with the parents, siblings, extended family and friends and all Americans.
This is the fourth time in his four years as president. Obama has been the “commander in grief.” Obama made similar visits to Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, Tucson in 2011 and Aurora, Colo. this July — each time, in the aftermath of a senseless slaughter of innocent life when a disturbed person had access to automatic weapons.
Yet, he will not be able to offer any meaningful condolences to the next family who will lose loved ones if he does not put his presidential legacy on the line to systemically address this madness.
The president promised to confront the longstanding opposition in Congress that has blocked sensible gun control measure in the past. He continued, saying his proposals will not just be about weapons.
“We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to guns,” he said.
The president has directed his VP, Joe Biden, to lead an interagency effort to develop in short order what the White House says will be a multifaceted approach to preventing similar mass shootings and the many other tragic gun deaths that occur each year.
We can anticipate the Snyder administration announcing a state review of how we can act to help prevent such a tragedy from striking here soon.
Our state and national response must address easy access to guns and appropriate treatment for people with mental illness, at a minimum.
We must never forget Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 people, including 20 boys and girls just 6 or 7 years old were murdered.
As a nation, we are liternally dying.
The time to act is now.
Tom Watkins served the citizens of Michigan as both state mental health director and state superintendent of schools. He can be reached at: tdwatkins88gmail.com
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:33
Category: Your Voice Written by JESSE JACKSON
Christmas decorations light the streets. Malls are full. Christmas music fills the air.
But this year, there is a somber undercurrent to the celebration. We will all hug our children a little harder. Our hearts will be in our throats as they go out to play. After the horror of Newtown, we remember how precious and how vulnerable they are in a country that is drowning in guns.
Some good news can be told, however. Violent crime, teenage pregnancy, binge drinking and cigarette smoking are down. Yet, one in five children in the U.S. is now living in poverty — up dramatically over the course of the past decade. More are obtaining a college degree, but more find themselves unable to afford higher education. And too many are at risk from guns and violence. We can do better for them.
This year, the real story of Christmas — the mass we celebrate on the birth of Christ — has more power than ever.
The real story isn’t about a holiday; it is about a holy day. It’s about two parents summoned from their home, forced to return to register so the occupier could count them. They had no place to stay. One brief look and the innkeeper announced there was no room at the inn. The baby was born in the cold, in a working barn, set in a rough manger on a straw floor. This was a child at risk.
Like today, those were not normal times. Poverty and violence were spread through the land. The sufferers began to expect a change. Prophets predicted that a mighty messiah would come — a king of kings — to free the oppressed.
But this messiah wasn’t a powerful warrior wielding mighty armaments. He led disciples, not armies. He sought to preach good news to the poor. He was the Prince of Peace, not a man in arms. He never lifted a sword nor carried a shield, never held an office nor amassed a fortune, yet his gospel overturned an empire and transformed the world. He taught us the power of love and hope and charity.
Christmas should be a time when we hear this message. Faith is stronger than the sword. We do not have to accept a nation where 6-year-olds and their protective teachers are mowed down by a sick man armed with an assault rifle. We don’t have to let the gun lobby keep us from insisting that no gun should be sold without a background check.
We don’t have to accept a country of Gilded Age inequality where poor children go without adequate nutrition, where promising students cannot afford the education that they have earned.
We don’t have to emulate Rome and seek to police the world.
This Christmas, let each of us take a moment for the real story.
Let us take stock, not of the presents we give or get, but of how we treat the young in the dawn of life, the poor in the pit of life, the elderly in the dusk of life, the stranger on the Jericho Road. Let’s commit ourselves to bringing peace to Bethlehem.
This year, more than ever, we will hug our children and hold them close and remember that they are the true measure of our wealth. This year, we will remember that the presents the Wise Men brought weren’t the real gift; the real gift was the child himself, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Merry Christmas, everybody.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 December 2012 09:55
Category: Your Voice Written by JESSE JACKSON
The new year begins with a bad hangover from 2012’s inane debate over the “fiscal cliff.” The furious debate focused only on how much damage would be done to the economy and who would pay the price, how much and what would be cut, who would pay higher taxes and who would suffer the most.
But this headache can’t define 2013, which must be a time to renew, not to ruin. Whatever final agreement comes out of the fiscal cliff will slow an economy already struggling to grow. The challenge is to turn to what can be done to rebuild, to put people to work, to boost, not cripple growth.
The challenges we face are great. Many neighborhoods in our cities are suffering unemployment rates of 40 percent. That is a recipe for disintegration. Chicago just mourned the 500th murder victim. Millions of homes are still underwater. Wages are still declining, not rising. Inequality, already at extreme levels, is rising, not falling.
We need a plan to rebuild America. We have a plan for Iraq. We have a plan on how to get our troops out of Afghanistan while helping to rebuild that nation — yet, we aren’t even talking about a plan to rebuild our own cities.
Why not a Marshall Plan to rebuild America’s urban areas? The Marshall Plan provided long-term, low-interest loans to Europe after World War II. It put people to work, provided hope and helped to revive economies devastated by wartime destruction. Now we need a plan for our cities that will revive them from Wall Street’s destruction.
Why not take a portion of workers’ pension funds, provide them with government guarantees, and create a network of urban development banks committed to rebuilding our impoverished urban ghettos and barrios? Use the workers’ money to put workers to work building affordable housing, retrofitting buildings to capture energy savings, rebuilding collapsing sewers and roads, expanding outmoded mass transit.
Add basic reforms to ensure that workers share in the increased productivity and profits they help to create. Raise the minimum wage and crack down on wage theft. Give priority to companies that make things in America and allow workers to organize and bargain collectively. Get this right, and we will begin to rebuild a broad middle class and boost the economy. With good jobs, workers buy homes and cars and send their kids to college. Their demand leads small businesses to create jobs. We all grow together. Workers move from food stamps to paying taxes. Growth is the best and necessary way to get our books in order.
In 2012, Washington tied itself in knots over a self-created fiscal-cliff debate that is all about constriction, not expansion. That debate is teed up to consume the next few months, as well, as the government runs into the so-called debt ceiling while Republicans vow to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to even deeper cuts in vital domestic programs. Yet the cuts already in place will reduce domestic spending as a portion of our economy to levels not seen since the 1950s. This is the road to decline and despair.
The only thing that can change the folly in Washington is the mobilization of people. Many are cynical about a Washington corrupted by big money politics. But citizens in motion can challenge big money. We saw that with the Tea Party uprising that demanded action on deficits and spending. We saw that with Occupy protests that put extreme inequality and the crushing of the American Dream on the agenda.
Now citizens must rise again to demand action to rebuild America.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:26
From Newtown to Flint Town: Gun Violence Not Just An Urban Black problem. We All Need To Get Serious About Gun Laws.
Category: Your Voice Written by Rev. Charles E. Williams II
Rev. Charles E. Williams II, Pastor of Historic King Solomon Baptist Church and president of the National Action Network Detroit
This year Flint Michigan was designated the most dangerous city in the United States. Every night on the local news, urban cities like Detroit and Chicago give a daily rundown that encapsulates the age old media theme "if it bleeds, it leads". This gives cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago "murder capitol" designations that would make one feel that only this type of barbarity and inhumanity rest in the places where these instances of violence occur because of drugs and poverty. Frankly, when we think of gun violence it automatically is thought of as a Black ghetto problem.
A report from the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency and Prevention suggest
The drug market is a major contributor to the Nation's homicide rate. Indeed, the peak in homicides during the mid- 1980's was directly related to the saturation of urban areas with the crack cocaine drug trade."
Although most would agree that the urban violence problem is out of control, there is no doubt that whether violence happens in a city or suburb, it pains all the same. Bullets flying in Oakland kill just like the ones in Oak Creek. A Kill in Aurora is no different than a kill in Atlanta.
However, my fear is that when situations like what happened in Newtown, Connecticut occur, they often dismiss the access to the weapon and focus on the mental health or criminal mind of the shooter. Conservative Gun advocates begin to beat their drum about the increased need for more rights to bear arms and we hear a faint cry for bans on assault weapons and tighter gun restrictions from liberals.
I've presided over a lot of funerals and I know that death doesn't become real until you have to look into a casket of a loved one. This week the country will be shocked further and we will all look into the caskets and see how the wrath of a man and his guns can sadden all our hearts. Small caskets and uncontrollable tears will cause us to pause but when we anger we must turn that energy into a serious effort to protect human life. I know the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, and women's rights cause us to mount up into our partisan political corners, but this week as we mourn as a nation, let this lesson serve as one that will urge us all to remember the inhumanity in the tools we have available to commit inhumane acts. The children slain will never complete their homework and teachers will never finish their lesson plans but they left in their empty seats, incomplete chalk boards, and blood stained book bags, a lesson for all of us to work on.
We must get serious about gun violence in the United States. It is not just a black problem, not just an urban problem but it is an American problem. We must tighten restrictions on guns and revive the ban on assault weapons. Prayers go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut and everywhere else where senseless gun violence has taken place in this country.
Follow the Rev. Charles Williams II on twitter: @therevcw and facebook: facebook.com/therevcwii
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 11:27
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