This is a super story about a super young man in the New York Times, Of the People feature. It highlights Antonio Lewis, one of the Mayor’s Youth Program (MYP) students during my term as mayor. He graduated from Atlanta Public Schools and earned a scholarship to Middle Georgia, which he lost after the first semester. While he was on winter break, he visited me as mayor and asked for my help in attending a local community college. Instead, I called our local Lincoln University-Missouri alumni contact who arranged for a partial scholarship that was matched with MYP funds. Four years later Lewis graduated with honors as Lincoln University student body president. The following year he joined the Obama field team and the rest is history. This happened hundreds of times during the six years of the program at the City. His success is the result of a village of people like, Deborah Lum and the staff at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, who supported him. I am happy that we caught him before he fell through the cracks like far too many of our young people, unfortunately, have done.
The year 2015 is behind us and a new one has just started and I am baffled by the continuing contradictions evident in what we believe, how we live and how we treat one another in the name of religion, security and cultural values. As a mother whose child has died, my heart aches for others whose loved ones have been buried too young. The stories of those who die violently from war, from abuse and hatred linger as troubling reminders of a world detached from the reasonable standards of fairness and justice.
In Cleveland a grand jury decided not to charge police officers in the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice. In Chicago, police officer Jason Van Dyke pleads not guilty in the death of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year old who was killed last October. And the recent death of 19-year old Northern Illinois college student Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones, 55, a mother of five who were both killed the day after Christmas by a Chicago officer responding to a domestic disturbance call. Officials have admitted that Jones was killed accidentally, but she was a mother who is already missed by her children. The family of both victims has filed lawsuits in Chicago.
At 70 years old, my life is more over than not. Yet I live another day baffled by the mystery of my long life in the face of the death of the young. Someone wrote to me during this difficult time that, “I know you like me, would give your life for your child.” What parent wouldn’t? Imagine your loved is a 12 year-old boy in the park like Tamir, or on a street at night in the lights of a police car like Laquan or on the other side of an apartment door like Quintonio. Public debate about these cases dominate the local and national news and casual discussions among friends and neighbors. Lots of people are baffled about how these horrific instances continue.
In the absence of Congressional legislative action, today President Obama has exercised his executive powers to tighten access to guns and to address the nation’s deficiency in mental health care access and funding. This is a positive development. In Georgia we have witnessed decades of denial and underfunding for mental health care. The Department of Justice (DOJ) forced the state and the Governor to invest in mental health reform and care a couple of years ago. Georgia had spent decades underfunding and ignoring the needs hundreds of mentally fragile residents. It is yet to be seen whether the state’s DOJ approved plan has reached the majority of those in need of mental health services.
Solutions are possible. They always are in a country as resourceful and wealthy as America. Mayors, governors and other elected officials must own the actions of police and government to better understand the challenges the officers face, the demands of the public for safety and the rights of everyday folks including those they distrust or fear.
Elected officials must adopt a fearless position to honor their commitment to transparency even in when its unpopular to be honest about what might have happened. The cover up of information is never acceptable. Citizen Review Boards can exercise their full authority to investigate…….States, cities and counties can adopt the DOJ standard ………..And all of us must question the use of force, especially deadly force in every case.
Or let’s try other ideas… But the status quo has got to go!!!!!
Donald Trump’s bombast boils down to this: “If you hate minority groups, you’ll love me, ’cause I’m gonna Make America White Again.”
Trump doesn’t use those specific words. Instead, he uses what University of California-Berkeley Professor Ian Haney Lopez calls “dog whistles,” phrases that perk up the ears of bigots. I am not saying that all of Trump’s supporters are racists; but a quarter of Republicans have responded enthusiastically to his dog whistles, so we need to be clear about what is going on.
Three years ago, Trump revived the dying “birther” movement. He probably didn’t really believe that nonsense, but he knew that many white Americans were angry and anxious about the election of a black man to the presidency. They needed a story to explain how such a thing could have happened — thus the fantastic tale about Barack Obama’s birth in Kenya. In some surveys, more than 40 percent of Republicans said they believed that story. This does not mean that 40 percent of Republicans are stupid. What it means is that many of them would say outrageous things to delegitimize Obama’s historic achievement.
Similarly, most of Trump’s supporters are not dumb enough to take his immigration proposals literally. They don’t believe that most undocumented immigrants are rapists and criminals, or that a President Trump would expel 11 million people from the country, or that he could make Mexico build a 2,000-mile wall, or that he could unilaterally reinterpret the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. However, they love to hear his dog whistle tweeting “We don’t want Mexicans here.”
“Chinese” is another of Trump’s code words. Few Americans are bothered by imports from China, which include everything from toys to iPhones to Trump’s own signature-label shirts. But for Trumpists, “Chinese” is another way to say “yellow peril,”reminiscent of the 1870s. What worries them is not China’s manufacturing capacity; it is Chinese immigrants. And for many Trump supporters, “Chinese” is an umbrella category for the millions of Asians – Vietnamese, Cambodians, Japanese, Koreans, even Indians and Pakistanis — who have immigrated into the United States during the past 50 years.
What solutions does Trump offer for the decline that he claims the United States has been suffering? How does he plan to “Make America Great Again”? By putting white men back in charge! Trump knows that he cannot reduce the number of blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans; but as president he could enhance the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. Reducing the voting power of minority citizens would help to restore what many Trump supporters believe to be the proper racial order.
A series of laws passed a half-century ago — the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1965 Immigration Reform Act — ended centuries of lawful white privilege. Then came the women’s movement. Men who thought they should be running things started to feel emasculated.
Trump is rich. He boasts that foreign leaders will do whatever he tells them to do — and one of his former wives has vouched for his sexual prowess. His phallic symbol is a long, sleek jet airplane. A few weeks ago, Ted Cruz posted a video of his own phallic symbol: a gun barrel wrapped in a strip of bacon.
Ridiculous as he is, Trump has helped to expose the breadth and intensity of prejudice in the GOP. The question is, do any of the other candidates have the decency and courage to stand up to their party’s bigots?
Dorn is a professor of public policy at the University of Texas. He is a former undersecretary in the Department of Defense and former dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
President’s progressive agenda moves full steam ahead in his newly found fearlessness!
By Gary Cox
In a recent Los Angeles radio interview, President Obama declared, “I am fearless.” This liberating pronouncement came ahead of a week of sweeping victories in the courts and in Congress. At the beginning of the week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the President major victories on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Fair Housing. In a 6-3 decision, the High Court gave a “conservative” interpretation of the ACA by looking at what Congress intended in the overall legislation. Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Congress did not mean for health insurance markets to work in some states and not work in others!”Chief Justice Roberts reaffirmed Congress’s intent and let stand insurance tax credit subsidies for residents whose state, like Georgia, does not have a state operated insurance exchange. This was a major victory which will assure that access to insurance and healthcare remains a basic fundamental right.
The High Court also upheld the Fair Housing Act of 1968, noting in the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Community Project, “disparate impact” is an integral part of the Fair Housing Act and can be taken into account whether or not the discrimination was unintended or deliberate. In the 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “. . . disparate impact under the FHA has played a key role in promoting racial equality in housing and fighting discrimination,” This ruling holds intact the basic premise of the Fair Housing Act which is to end discrimination in the sale, financing or rental of housing based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Lastly, as predicted by Blogging While Blue when the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay to prevent same-sex marriages in Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state constitutional bands on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges(Ohio). Jim Obergefell married his terminally ill partner in Maryland and wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate. He won, but the State of Ohio appealed and the lower court decision was overturned – which led to the U.S. Supreme Court challenge. Obergefell stated he never intended to be the face of gay marriage, but Ohio forced his hand. With this victory came Georgia’s first gay couple to be married Emma Foulkes and Petrina Bloodworth of Atlanta. They were married by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Morrison, who is openly gay.
With President Obama at the helm, progressive policies and ideas are in the forefront of social change. Healthcare is a basic human right, fair housing opportunities are a basic civil right and marriage equality, now the law of the land, has come full circle since 2004 when many of the state constitutional bans against same-sex marriage were enacted. Progressive ideas that were once considered “radical thought” are now mainstream law. Yet, the battle is not over. The attainment of civil and human rights is an “evolutionary process” and not a “revolutionary” one.
The U.S. Supreme Court could release its decision in the King v. Burwell case any day, deciding whether some 412,000 Georgians will lose tax credits that go toward their health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What is to be decided is whether the government can provide subsidies in the 34 states that opted out of offering their own insurance exchanges, which includes Georgia.
It is a fact that over 400,000 Georgians, many hardworking, honest people who contribute to the economy of the state but whose employment or income limit their health insurance options could face serious consequences.
Somehow the political debate minimizes their individual stories and ignores their wellbeing. The political discourse seems to be the familiar wrong headed, selfish partisanship. This situation raises questions. Who votes for these politicians? Why do people who have benefits not care about those who don’t? Why don’t those who need the benefits vote their interests or in record numbers? Access to affordable healthcare isn’t about race, ethnicity or gender. It shouldn’t be a politically volatile issue. It should be a unifying issue. Everyone needs access. Too few Georgians vote and too few vote for candidates that share their interests.
This issue requires voters to elect candidates who can see beyond partisanship and who understand that the “pursuit of happiness” must include accessible, affordable, cutting edge healthcare- prevention, research and treatment for everyone.
President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Congress understood the necessity to support the medical needs of the elderly when in 1965 he signed the Medicare bill into law. Many between the elderly and the young and those we count on to work to support themselves and their families are caught in the middle of this senseless debate. They and adults with special medical and mental health needs will suffer serious harm if the Court rules against the ACA.
Culturally we expect Americans to work, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, to make it on their own and to carry their own weight. It takes a village to support a child and the health, education and wellness of the adults who care for them makes all the difference in their success. It would be a waste if America forgets the basic needs of every man, woman and child.
In the case of the Presidential nomination and U.S. Senate confirmation of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch it shouldn’t have been improbable given her impressive educational preparation and her extensive legal experience.
The Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch after five months. The 56-43 vote makes her the first African-American female attorney general in the United States.
Lynch comes from a long line of super accomplished women who have served honorably and with distinction in top federal government positions and even more who should have based on their credentials. It just so happens that Lynch is the first African American woman to serve in this position and only the second woman. Somehow women like Janet Reno and Loretta Lynch were passed over for decades.
When Attorney General Lynch’s appointment seemed to languish in the U.S. Senate, women and some men all over the country started asking questions. Some went into action starting with the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. that was joined by other Greek organizations.
Atlantic magazine’s Theodore Johnson wrote in his recent article, The Political Power of the Black Sorority, “….unlike most other sororities, membership in a black sorority is not simply a college phase, but a lifelong commitment. Alumnae comprise 75 percent of the active membership of these groups. Black sororities do not confine their concerns to college campuses. And their fight for Lynch’s confirmation only represents the surface of over a century’s worth of work.”
Black sororities and fraternities have been active advocates for over a century and with Lynch’s confirmation in limbo they activated their vast network to push for her confirmation. There was no loyal to letters instead it was collective political activism joining together to do the right thing.
Last week all the “action” finally paid off and America can proudly celebrate the crushing of yet another glass box that separates qualified candidates from public service. Unfortunately Georgia Senators voted against Lynch’s confirmation putting them on the wrong side of American history. African Americans represent a large voter constituency in Georgia and 70% of eligible African American women voted in 2012, which represents approximately 10.4 million voters. Their numbers are not likely to be ignored. When African American women put their issue-based advocacy into action they can influence elections in political races, especially when the numbers are small.
“Discrimination anywhere is….,,,,”
President Obama’s former advisor, David Axelrod, who is on a book promotion tour, has rebuked the anti American Obama sentiments strewn about by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“I don’t know anybody who has … a deeper feeling about this country than the president. And I don’t know anybody who’s expressed it more eloquently over a long period of time. So I really wrote it off to, frankly, a fading politician trying to light himself on fire and make himself relevant,” says Axelrod of Giuliani’s comments.
Giuliani not surprisingly is backing off the exact verbiage he used but this is what he said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
Challenging the patriotism of the president of the United States seems rather extreme when you think about President Obama’s road to the White House. Giuliani can clarify his intent but the resounding words from our nation’s mall during the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama still ring more loudly and more profoundly to me rather than the clanging noise of his critics. I can’t think of a more modern day president who more aptly exemplifies the meaning of America than Obama. His policies and his politics may be fair game for debate but his citizenship and commitment to country should be off limits to even his harshest detractors. His words are the ones I prefer to remember when I think of America.
“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
Shame on Rudy Giuliani! He seems to speak before he thinks or at least before he considers the consequences. These are lessons learned early in life and ones that shouldn’t be forgotten no matter how successful you are.
So the walls are coming down, the plane has finally crashed into the mountain, and Jeb Bush is running for President.
Ignoring the fact that this is very, very bad for Democrats, why not turn to the fascinating questions surrounding the viability of his Presidential campaign? To examine this question we must assume that Bush will be successful in the Republican primary.
Since I believe his success is relatively likely, given his donors and connections, I believe the question an interesting one. And certainly one worth asking. Will we, the populace, really elect a third Bush? We’re certainly stupid enough to do so (look at Bush II’s second election).
The looming spectacle of another Bush occupying the West Wing is made even more frightening by the facts that the public likes to switch parties after two terms (probably a healthy instinct, had one of our two major parties not driven right off the sanity-cliff). Bush almost certainly has Florida (root, root, root for the home-team, even if they’re implicated in ethics violations), and he has an ability no Republican challenger has had since Bush I; he seems pretty sane. Also, he may end up being challenged by a woman. If that woman is Hillary Clinton, I’m calling it: game, Bush. The strange national hatred of her has never disappeared. And she will be blamed—by both sides—for everything they didn’t like about Obama’s tenure.
We can’t ignore the fact that any woman, be it Warren, Clinton, you name her, would have a herculean task reaching the mountaintop of the presidency. Obama managed to win despite the disadvantage of not being white, but was assisted in both campaigns. First, it helped that Bush II was a walking disaster, enjoying his second term. Second, McCain offered a helping hand by abandoning his politics, going off the rails, and by choosing a living joke as his running mate. Are you outside your house? Can you see Russia?
As for Obama’s reelection campaign, I believe that the tape of Romney tossing aside the grubby cloak of the average Joe, and showing us his true colors as a sociopathic plutocrat was very helpful, if not essential. We must come to terms with the uncomfortable reality that Obama was elected because he is an exceptional politician, a magnificent orator, and much, much smarter than your average bear…and that he had quite a bit of help from the other side.
They were coming off a two term disaster president (of their own party) and simply couldn’t keep up with Obama. Nor could they stop shooting themselves in the foot, or for that matter old men in the face. If Obama’s tenure tricks us into thinking that black politicians will be treated pretty much the same as white politicians, then we as a Nation must pull our collective heads out of, well, the dark.
Politicians like Obama come along rarely and acknowledging that is essential to the Democratic Party. I suppose what I’m saying is that to vault the gender-gap we’re going to need another exceptional politician, and/or a foaming at the mouth crazy challenger. I’m talking TMZ catches Presidential hopeful eating live chickens crazy.
Ever met someone who thinks racism ended with Obama? Yeah? Well there are at least twice as many who think either that the gender gap has closed or that women are simply incapable of wielding the awesome power of the Presidency.
So what do we do? Do we, as a National Party unwillingly tasked with being the single sane party—the parental figure, if you will—in a two party system, simply take a noble knee and nominate Clinton to show that we’re serious about equality? Do we run Warren to make the same point and still (maybe) win? Is Warren, in fact, a more competitive option in the general election? She certainly isn’t in the primary. But I think we can all agree that primaries alone do not effective candidates make.
I rarely write articles posing questions to which I simply do not know the answer. Usually, I at least think I know the answer; know what’s in the last chapter of the book. Here I do not. What I do know is that the Democrats have been in power through President Obama for eight years. I know the populace likes to switch sides after some time, and I know that switching is the difference in states like Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin. I know that for a woman to be elected to our highest office, we would need a politician of exceptional talent and character, and we would probably also need her Republican challenger to fumble the ball in the grand tradition of Romney and McCain.
I write this article because these are questions we need to ask ourselves. Will Jeb get out of the primary? Will he maintain his sanity throughout the campaign process? Will we run a woman against him, and if so, who? I’m not suggesting we shy away from our female candidates because we fear sexism. I am asking these questions because a Republican Presidency is not simply a set-back, it is a disaster.
Diaz is a former mayor, attorney and business leader based in Miami. In addition, 500 plus mayors of large, small and moderate size cities selected him as president of the US Conference of Mayors when I was mayor of Atlanta.
“I am happy for Alan Gross and extend my best wishes to him and his family on this first day of Hanukkah. It is my hope that the end of Mr. Gross’ five-year ordeal will lead to change within Cuba. I am thankful for the intervention of His Holiness Pope Francis and all the diplomats who worked for Mr. Gross’ release. His Holiness also deserves great credit for his courage in furthering talks and relations between the United States and Cuba.
As a Cuban exile whose father was held as a political prisoner by the Cuban regime, I have experienced the oppression of the Cuban government firsthand. However, for more than 50 years we’ve tried it one way. The time has come for a different approach.
I agree with the White House that the ‘decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.I am optimistic that the actions taken by President Obama today will serve to advance the cause for freedom in Cuba.
“Ultimately, we continue to share the common goal of bringing openness, democracy and respect for the human rights of the Cuban people. Today marks a positive step toward that end.”
Former Mayor of the City of Miami and
President of US Conference of Mayors
It is time to change the state’s leadership.
As Election Day, November 4 nears the pressure is on Georgians to distinguish fact from fiction. My intuition tells me even with Politifact Georgia and media exposure too many Georgians might miss a few of the important facts surrounding this year’s elections.
Georgia’s economic recovery lags the nation in almost every measure. Even the most recent federal reports confirm what thousands of Georgia families know…. our unemployment rate is awful. Georgia has the HIGHEST unemployment rate in the US. That means 49 governors are doing a better job than our governor in creating jobs, retaining jobs and employing its residents. On Governor Deal’s watch, his economic recovery plan of corporate tax cuts, refusing to expand Medicaid and balancing the state budget at the expense of education hasn’t worked! It is time for a change. Jason Carter has the guts to advocate for refocusing Georgia on investing in education. This is the surest method to improve Georgia’s growth in business opportunities and economic expansion. It will insure Georgia’s long-term economic health. The days of starving education and expecting economic growth are over. In the 21st century a first-rate innovative education plan from cradle through college including technical school are essential to meet the educational needs of Georgia’s children. We all benefit when our neighbors are working too. Those who are unemployed need more than the Governor’s quarrels with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lip service that “statistics don’t matter” is a disservice to unemployed Georgians. They need job training and access to education.
In the U.S. Senate race to replace Saxby Chambliss, too many attack TV ads make it seem as if President Obama is running to be Georgia’s next senator. He isn’t. In fact, Michele Nunn’s career has been far from partisan. She is on a first name basis with four former presidents, George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as President Obama. She is a bridge-builder who has worked to break down barriers that keep us from working together. In 2009, she worked with Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to pass the Serve America Act, which gives small grants to volunteers for service projects in their communities. From her Hands on Atlanta experience to CEO of President’s Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, Michelle has worked to seek full civic engagement of everyday folks that empowers neighborhoods to help themselves. Nunn’s experience and record reflects her ability to work with Republicans and Democrats, which is why her donors also include both Republicans and Democrats. Her top priority is to create jobs and economic opportunity in Georgia – and not outsourcing Georgia jobs to China.
It is time for change in Georgia – it is time to vote for Jason Carter for Governor and Michelle Nunn for the U.S. Senate!