Kellyanne the GOP should seize this time to lead

gopKellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, said Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Democratic leaders should encourage demonstrators to be peaceful and welcome the nation’s transition to a Trump administration. No, Kellyanne it was the GOP that made the threats, and it should be your responsibility as a GOP leader to right the wrong you created.

As stories emerge of violence as a result of words or actions from the fallout of the presidential campaign it is important for us to look forward while we assess the damage of the hateful language and threats used by the GOP candidate. As a nation we are sorting through our political options with the presidential election behind us.  Community leaders from all sectors have their work cut out for them for the foreseeable future. Our children and youth need our guidance to avoid the negative psychological effects of the angry discord they have witnessed in the presidential campaign. Their fears of danger must be assuaged. Political campaigning can be scary even for those of us who have been in the thick of political “battles”. The GOP leaders must put the hateful threats and rhetoric in check by making clear that all Americans, immigrants, Muslims, women, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Hispanics, disabled people, and those who disagree with the President-elect are not under attack nor will they ever be. The reckless attacks on these Americans and immigrants are harmful and dangerous.

In the last Atlanta citywide election a former council member viciously attacked my family members in the media and I was subject to an untruthful and hateful citywide robo call assumedly designed to scare me and my family into silence. Rumors attribute those strategies to political leaders at the highest levels of Atlanta politics. That’s a story for another time. Fortunately, my grandchildren weren’t harmed by the attacks but many children and youth are confused by the misbehavior of adults and the discord they are witnessing in their neighborhoods, on the Internet and on television. The GOP leadership has a unique opportunity to reverse this madness by issuing a pledge to cease the banal explanations of why the President-elect’s threats weren’t meant to hurt anyone nor were they intended to provide the foundation of public policy. No, Kellyanne, it is your responsibility to reassure Americans. The GOP should seize the time to lead an inclusive, fair and just America.

 

 

VOTE OR DIE

vote2As those of you who have not yet voted prepare to cast your ballot on Tuesday, let’s imagine our future.

Imagine a world where the President of the United States routinely stops his press conferences to shout at reporters, call a group of Americans demeaning names or encourages physical attacks on peaceful demonstrators. Well, if that seems impossible, then you have missed much of the last 18 months of political campaigning by GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump. He specializes in calling his opponent a liar and using hateful, evil speech to attack anyone who disagrees with him which isn’t hard to do since he offers few facts and little vision for the issues affecting our increasingly diverse, complex country.

We are diverse in opinion, experience, education, career, ethnicity, race, religion, and so many other ways. The best of our history has recognized our diversity as a strength. Most of us want an America where children are taught to love whom they want, achieve their dreams and use their talents to improve their world, their families and their communities. Most of us pay our fair share in taxes and sweat equity to support a strong country. Not dear old Donald Trump. He  avoids paying taxes, spouts hatred, meanness, lies, hyperbole and misinformation. His retort “believe me” is hollow and meaningless because believing him would mean you have to ignore the facts and forget the value of fairness, data or statesmanship.

Can Donald Trump be elected President? Yes.

Will America and many Americans suffer for such a foolish choice, if he is elected? A resounding Yes.

Only registered voters can stop Donald Trump’s climb to political power.

VOTE or DIE was an effective slogan to arouse voters in 2008. This is a VOTE or DIE moment. VOTE and be sure your friends and family vote too. It is time to reclaim our democracy from the mockery Donald Trump has made of it.

A Few Words on the Election by Pearl Cleage

pcleagePearl Cleage, playwright/novelist/poet/citizen

I want to offer a few words about our upcoming presidential election to be held on November 8, 2016. The reason I only need a few words – 5 to be exact – to say my say is that I am not interested in arguing a position, promoting a specific candidate or platform or discussing the record of our current president, the ever amazing Barack Obama. I have only one mission between now and Election Day and that is to make sure everybody I know is ready to vote. That means, you have registered, checked the location of your current polling place and secured the necessary ID to vote in your state/territory/district. It also means ordering an absentee ballot now if there is even the remotest chance you might not make it to the polls on Election Day and returning that ballot the day after it arrives so you won’t forget to do it. Early voting is always a good option for busy people. You should also make childcare arrangements in case there are long lines at the polls. Here too, advance preparation is key. Take water and a protein bar for sustenance. Wear comfortable shoes. Congratulate yourself on being a good citizen at a time when your country truly needs you.

If you can check off everything on this list, you are registered and ready to vote. 5 words – registered and ready to vote – will make all the difference on Election Day. 5 words – easy to adapt as a personal affirmation: I am registered and ready to vote. Easy to utilize as a friendly inquiry: Are you registered and ready to vote? Easy to offer as an invitation to action: Let’s get registered and ready to vote.

You will find the more you use those 5 little words, the easier it is to say them. To your family. To your friends. To your mail carrier. To the woman behind you in line at the Post Office or the man sitting beside you at church. After a few days, you will share my enthusiasm for these 5 little words and realize that in the midst of all the fussing and fighting and name calling and bigotry and womanhating and lying through the teeth, the only way this election will come out wrong is if sane, right thinking people aren’t registered and ready to vote when November 8 rolls around. And if that happens, all the angry tweets and indignant Facebook rants you can post aren’t going to make a damn bit of difference. ‘Nuff said.

 

Blogging While Blue: In November 2001 I won the election for mayor of Atlanta  as a first-time candidate. Miraculously the election was decided without a runoff between the top two candidates. Less than 200 voters decided the outcome of that election. Polls and those running for office tout the importance of every election. That is always true…once again we are faced with clear choices for President and U. S. Senate. The candidates hold different opinions on the issues and have totally different records, experiences, and skills they bring to bear as leaders. My 2001 election taught me how important every vote is…..since I believe  I would have lost the run-off election… There is no run off in the Presidential election.

In Georgia, you can register to vote in the Presidential election until October 11. Yours could be the deciding vote. 

HBO’s Confirmation Is a Painful Flashback

Beverly Isom

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Poet/philosopher)

ahillThis Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST on HBO, “Confirmation”, the story of the 1991 public hearings on the Senate vote for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with witness Anita Hill will debut on cable television. As a raging progressive and lukewarm loyal Democrat, I admit to watching the hearings hoping that in this real-life saga, the woman would win. And in some small way, I hoped all women would win. But for three days during those crisp Washington, DC October days, I saw an America where men judged women about an issue they had little knowledge of and even less patience for understanding. Four votes could have made the difference in who is sitting on the high court now but maybe “passion and party” blinded their eyes. However, the final floor vote was not strictly along party lines: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats (Dixon (D-IL), Exon (D-NE), DeConcini (D-AZ), Robb (D-VA), Hollings (D-SC), Fowler (D-GA), Nunn (D-GA), Breaux (D-LA), Johnston (D-LA), Boren (D-OK), and Shelby (D-AL) now (R-AL)) voted to confirm Justice Thomas while 46 Democrats and 2 Republicans (Jeffords (R-VT) and Packwood (R-OR)) voted to reject the nomination.

Television has afforded us the ability to have a piercing and lasting image of how we remember history. Even though Vice President Joe Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Clarence Thomas and authored the Violence Against Women Act, I can’t forget the memory of him presiding and looking down at Hill during those hearings. Though the hearings were conducted to confirm Thomas they were really much more about sexual harassment in the workplace. Hill had the courage to withstand the public aggressive intimidation by a dozen men who were not her peers. Biden among them. He did very little to change the “optics” on what we saw on television. He did not stop the vicious and searing attacks from Senators Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, and the late Arlen Spector. Anita Hill’s public humiliation was felt by many women who knew her story firsthand from assembly lines to corporate board rooms. There is no question that while Thomas won the confirmation, nameless women in the workplace have benefited from Hill’s heroic stand.
The Anita Hill story has been written about and a documentary was also done, but this weekend Kerry Washington transforms into Anita Hill to tell the story once again. “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!”

“If I Were Mayor”— A Young Student Explains the Job

Fifteen years ago in January 2001 a few friends, colleagues and I gathered in my living room to discuss whether my candidacy for mayor could be successful. We talked about the likely candidates, their years of public service and accomplishments; we had an honest discussion about whether I, as a first time candidate even with promised endorsements, could win a race against a seasoned politician and former City Council member. We talked very little about what I would or should do as mayor beyond continuing the legacy programs of previous mayors going back to William Hartsfield.ifIweremayor

Mine was a long shot candidacy and the voters proved the prediction true when the winning percentage of votes in the election barely tipped over the required 50 percentile.  At some level I longed to be in the public discussion about issues held dear to my heart as much as winning the race. Such is the value of democracy. Each of us can be in the public debate about issues we hold dear. Voting is only part of the equation.

During the campaign I found people had opinions about the city, what the mayor should or should not do. Time after time I was struck by the opinions of children.

Here is an essay  written by a Fernbank Elementary School student in August 2002 two months before the November election.

If I Were Mayor

If I were mayor, I would make bigger candy stores, more ice cream trucks, and better playgrounds. But wait a minute. What exactly is a mayor supposed to do? It sounds like a big job-so many things to be done, so many things to be fixed, so many expectations and responsibilities! Decisions, decisions, hmmm…what would I do?

I once heard a poem that said to put your big rocks in the jar first. Then you add the gravel, sand, and water. The big rocks symbolize one’s main priorities, and the gravel and sand symbolize other small projects. One big rock in Atlanta that needs to be put in first, is the task of decreasing air pollution and traffic. If I were mayor, I would change the minimum number of people in an H.O.V. lane to three instead of two; increasing carpool rates and reducing pollution. Then I would encourage the expanding of MARTA. Hopefully, this would reduce traffic. Finally, I’d develop highway clean up teams to keep our roads clean and safe.

Another big rock is the task of helping and caring for the homeless or needy. I, as mayor, would start a sort of “homeless hospital” which would provide good, reliable and cheap medical dental care for the needy. Also at the “hospital”, homeless could sign-up for job skills courses, where trainers would come in and teach certain skills they could use to get a job.

Now comes the gravel and sand. I would paint over graffiti, restore old buildings, improve schools, clean parks, and find good homes for the orphaned children. These and other small things help fill the jar.

Finally, another very important thing that every mayor should do is keep his or her promises. Citizens want an honest and trustworthy mayor who will make fair decisions and listen to the problems of the city. Our city deserves a good mayor. And who knows, one day, it could be me!

” Citizens want an honest and trustworthy mayor who will make fair decisions and listens to the problems of the city. Our city deserves a good mayor.” This young woman captures the expectations of nearly all the voters I’ve ever met.

 

 

Ted Cruz Has Gone Too Far

Contributor, Cecelia Corbin Hunter

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Just when I thought the national discourse had deteriorated as far as it would go in this election cycle, Ted Cruz says Hillary Clinton should be spanked and not in a playful lets get sexy way. The new Republican leaders seem to believe that (1) they can say any ugly constitution denying rhetoric that they can dream and (2) women are irrelevant and insignificant. It’s the second observation that gives me great pause. It’s become standard fare for the grand old party to discuss and legislate female innards, but a “spanking?” Oh no!!!! Ted has gone too far. Should the flogging be done clothed or should Hillary and all her “girl” supporters strip or just bare their bottoms. Should we gather in a stadium at high noon or be gathered up by Knights in white at midnight.

The days of white men spanking, flogging or beating women for having the audacity of exercising their right to be more correct, to think and unflinchingly to express their thoughts are gone. Ted can get on board or get out of the way. Hillary and the women of 2016 reject his supposition and thinking. We are here and a spanking from you is not on the agenda. Mr Cruz, spanking may be the norm in your house, but not for the woman who is White House bound.

 

Moral Contradictions Can Be Dangerous

trumpAs we celebrate this holiday season marred by a spirit of hate hanging above us like wilted mistletoe, it is worth examining Mr. Trump’s rise to radical ridiculousness.

If we allow the moral line of what is right to be moved at will, then the outcome should not surprise us but instead frighten us.

The debate on gun control in this country is not an argument for the Constitution—the Second Amendment is not an excuse to buy military-style assault weapons. However, couched under the anger and debate about guns are some contradictions that cannot be ignored.

Some obvious contradictions.

If you have legislation that allows law enforcement to determine their level of threat and fear without intermediate options then there will be countless and arguable cases of citizens being subjectively shot and killed.

If there are laws that allow private citizens to gauge their fear, based on personal stereotypical interpretations like hoodies and Skittles, then neighborhood watch programs become appealing to vigilantes.

If a US presidential candidate can, criticize his female opponent’s physical attributes, make light of Americans with disabilities, be a finalist for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and call for the ban of any group of people, not just Muslims, but especially a group that represents 1.6 billion of the world’s population then we should be afraid of him and the crowds who eagerly support and endorse him.

Republicans today may not publicly agree with Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims from entering the US, but they seem to care more about keeping gun laws unchecked, rather than terrorists from entering the country since they are unwilling to support “no fly, no buy” gun laws.

It is no surprise that Trump continues to move the line on who is excluded from his brand of fear-based patriotism. Trump’s latest attack on Muslims reignites the words of Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller who opposed the Nazi regime and whose words are now famous……..

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Moral contradictions can be dangerous.

 

New York Times op-ed columnist, Thomas L. Friedman shares his views on the subject.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/opinion/you-aint-no-american-bro.html?mwrsm=Email

 

A recent reminder the HIV/AIDS epidemic has not been defeated!

By Gary S. Cox

2015AIDSThe first time I heard any mention of HIV/AIDS was in 1981. I read an article to a friend about a strange new illness that was only affecting gay men. After I read the article, I ignorantly quipped, “There sure are going to be a lot of shocked parents if this disease somehow knows you are gay!” Little did I know this article was the precursor for me to many hospital bedside vigils, nurses in space suits, changing diapers on bed ridden friends, and home visits to take meals to sick friends. Perry, Tom, Jesse, Michael, David … to this day the names and faces still haunt me with “survivors guilt”. This was before effective medications, Project Open Hand or a federally funded AID Atlanta.

Then there was a glimmer of hope. First, there was AZT and eventually the three drug “cocktail” given today as the “standard of care.” The new drugs saved lives. The federal government took HIV/AIDS as a serious health threat. Casework and social services previously provided by friends became the domain of social workers and home health care professional. HIV/AIDS moved from being a death sentence to a chronic illness. The new slogan became, as it is now, “Living with HIV/AIDS.”

Yet, in the past week leading up to World AIDS Day, I faced a sobering reminder that we have not yet won the battle against HIV/AIDS. This revelation came in the form of a telephone call from a friend who is sick from AIDS. His body simply cannot tolerate the drugs needed to keep the virus at bay. It hurts my heart to see him shaking from the neurological complications of taking HIV medications and from HIV/AIDS. His right hand and leg shake uncontrollably like Parkinson’s disease. His neurological condition affects his gait, his ability to grasp thoughts and slurs his speech. While on the telephone with him, I sensed he was on the verge of tears. He had recently moved back to the city to be near Grady’s IDP Clinic and MARTA. He previously lived in Gwinnett County. He could no longer afford to own a car and had given it up. His only income is a $1,200 monthly disability check and a few dollars in food stamps. Like so many gay men in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s, he had no support system other than his friends. His family and his church, both have a problem with him having AIDS and being gay.

During my brief telephone conversation with him, he was choking on his words. He was having an emotional meltdown and in panic-mode. We had previously gotten him signed up for meals with Project Open Hand. He had just called to find out when the meal delivery service would start. He was told there was an administrative mix-up. His meal delivery would not start for another week. He had no money for food. He bemoaned, “Gary, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” panic had taken him over. I responded, “I will be over shortly. I am working on a project I need to finish up. But together, I’m sure we can figure out something.” On the drive over to his house, it was like “déjà vu” – I was back in the 1980’s doing basic care for a sick friend because there was no HIV/AIDS support system yet in place. I picked my friend up. I took him to the nearest Kroger. I said, “Get what you need to get you through the week.” He broke down and cried. This experience was a sobering remembrance, we are a long way from a cure.

I have read numerous articles and listened to the debate on PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis). Some people I know think it is okay to have unprotected sex as long as they are taking PrEP, after all the “effectiveness rate,” according to studies, is 90% to 99% effective in preventing HIV. As for my two cents worth on the subject, PrEP is great as long as it is used in conjunction with safe sex. It should not be used as a “license” to have unprotected sex. I look at my friend and I ask myself, “Just what the hell are young gay men thinking when they think they can take a pill to have unprotected sex!” Like my friend, sometimes the HIV drugs damage you so badly the quality of life becomes questionable. Unprotected sex, regardless of PrEP usage, simply isn’t worth the risk! If you don’t believe this, I will gladly introduce to my friend for a reality check!

Will a Speaker Ryan fare any better with the Freedom Caucus? The “Crackpot Caucus” now has a formal name!

By: Gary S. CoxCrackpotCaucus

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan (November 2014) was the first to coin the term “Crackpot Caucus”. Of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, Egan listed Jody Hice (R – 10th), Barry Loudermilk (R – 11th) and Rick Allen (R – 12th) among his esteemed “new crazies” taking on the Republican establishment as “political outsiders.” Hice and Loudermilk joined the radical right Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, otherwise known as Egan’s “Crackpot Caucus.”

Blogging While Blue highlighted the “Congressional Crazies” in a December 2014 blog and asked the question “Has the Speaker gone from herding cats to stopping stampeding elephants in the new Congress?” We know the answer to this question, Speaker John Boehner (R – OH) was stampeded out of office by the likes of Georgia’s own Congressmen Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk – as members of the Freedom Caucus. This caucus fiercely argued that Boehner was neither conservative enough nor confrontational enough in challenging President Obama on a variety of policies from defense spending to funding the Affordable Care Act. The Freedom Caucus wanted to invoke Article I, Section 2, and Clause 5 of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This rule allows the Speaker to “live or die” on his/her record each legislative session. It also allows the House membership to call for a vote on the Speaker’s leadership at any time during the legislative session. Rather than have this rule invoked against him, Boehner chose to resign. This rule is the center point of the current brouhaha that surrounds vacuum of leadership in the Republican Caucus.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R – WI), the former Mitt Romney vice presidential running mate is now reluctantly seeking the Speaker’s gavel. Ryan, who is being hailed in the press as the “Reluctant Leader” set ground rules by which he would ascend to the speakership. Ryan insisted on winning by a super majority of 80%, being endorsed by all factions of the Republican Party, “family time” to spend time with his wife and children, less fundraising responsibilities and most notably a repeal of the House rules that allow the Speaker to be challenged at any time during the legislative. Though the Freedom Caucus endorsed a Ryan candidacy for Speaker, they balked at changing the House rules. The Freedom Caucus did not want to rescind the rule that could lead to Ryan’s ouster. The caucus wants to reserve the right to review Ryan’s conservative credentials. Should Ryan not oppose Obama Administration policies to their liking, then, they want to be able to challenge his leadership. Remember, the Freedom Caucus believes “compromise”, the way a legislative body is supposed to operate, is a dirty word and an unforgivable sin against conservative principals.

This week will tell us if Ryan gets his way. This will be “the week that was” in Washington when it comes to the Republican leadership. Is Ryan going to be able to herd his elephants and keep them in line? Or, will they stampede him the same way they did with Boehner …. I have my popcorn and I’m sitting on the sidelines watching these circus elephants either get in line or stampede the new leadership into the political dust!

 

 

To achieve equity in our cities, start at the neighborhood level

Originally posted in Saporta Report

By Guest Columnist SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, executive board chair of Purpose Built Communities and Atlanta’s mayor from 2002 to 2010

eastlakeSRLast week, Lesley Grady of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta wrote an insightful piece called “Equity, Inequality and Myth Busting” that highlighted the extreme income inequality between white households and African-American households in Atlanta.

“Addressing income inequality will require our collective courage to acknowledge historic, pervasive biases and structures, bounded by race and class, which anchor whole families and communities in perpetual poverty,” she argued.

We agree.

I just returned from the sixth annual Purpose Built Communities Conference in Fort Worth, TX, which brought together leaders from fields including business, real estate, medicine, public health, housing, education, social entrepreneurship, social justice, criminal justice, and the faith community.

More than 350 people from 49 communities across the country came together to learn about neighborhood transformation and breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty.

There are those who think a neighborhood focus is too narrow. According to the latest data and research, neighborhoods are exactly where we should be focusing if we want to reverse decades of concentrated poverty and create equity and prosperity.

There are those who think a neighborhood focus is too narrow. According to the latest data and research, neighborhoods are exactly where we should be focusing if we want to reverse decades of concentrated poverty and create equity and prosperity.

Several sessions at the conference focused on the ways neighborhoods determine health outcomes. Dr. Lisa Chamberlain from the Stanford Medical School and Dr. Douglas Jutte from the Build Healthy Places Network shared striking data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthy America  about life expectancies in different neighborhoods within cities.

In Minneapolis, a distance of three miles could equal a 13-year difference in lifespan. In New Orleans, life expectancy can vary as much as 25 years from one neighborhood to another.

New York University professor Patrick Sharkey’s research about place and poverty shows that having a mother who was raised in a distressed neighborhood puts a child at a two-to-four year cognitive development deficit at birth.

The question is, why is this the case?

According to Jutte and Chamberlain, the science shows that environment has a greater impact on health outcomes than genetics.

Our neighborhood environment, including physical conditions (e.g. presence or lack of sidewalks and lead paint), service conditions (e.g. transportation, stores, schools) and social conditions (e.g. crime, sense of community or lack thereof), largely determine how long a person will live and what kind of quality of life they will have.

Factors like toxic stress, which is prevalent in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, impact both neurological and physical development.

Dr. David Erickson, director of the Center for Community Development Investments for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Carol Naughton, president of Purpose Built Communities, shared the latest research impacting community development, including the work of economist Raj Chetty, whose research found a strong correlation between place and upward economic mobility.

There are two ways we know of to address this: one is to move people out of neighborhoods of concentrated poverty to ones where the physical, service and social conditions are qualitatively better.

Another is to improve those conditions in distressed neighborhoods.

Purpose Built Communities exists to help with the latter, assisting local leaders implement a comprehensive model consisting of mixed-income housing; a cradle-to-college education pipeline; and community wellness programs and services guided by a dedicated “community quarterback” nonprofit organization whose sole focus is the health of the neighborhood.

In the span of just six years, we now have 13 Purpose Built Communities Network Members from coast to coast, including East Lake here in Atlanta which provided the blueprint for this model of neighborhood transformation. All of these neighborhoods have community quarterbacks and partners implementing this model to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.

Our Annual Conference is a chance for those working in these neighborhoods, and those who are thinking about doing this work, to learn from one another to achieve the results we so desperately need.

As Lesley Grady said, “we have to go further and deeper and fix the fault line that prevents all families and communities from sharing in the region’s growth and prosperity.”

By focusing on the neighborhood level in a holistic manner, Atlanta and other cities can change the trajectory for hundreds of families, especially children, so that a zip code will no longer determine a person’s health, income or lifespan.