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A refuge of love & peace during the debate (for AIDS Walk Austin)

Hi. This morning, when I thought about that debate, my heart just wanted to curl up & hide in a corner. I can’t stand all the awful things that will be said, the horrible ideas, etc. So I used to be a preschool teacher & was raised by a preschool teacher — I can’t deal with meanness & petulance. I need to start raising money for the AIDS Walk, so I thought I’d create a diary filled with niceness — happy music & stuff like that. And links where you can donate to my AIDS Walk page

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Weekly Address: President Obama – Celebrating 50 Years of Medicare and Medicaid

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President celebrated the fiftieth birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives. These programs are a promise that if we work hard, and play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded with a basic measure of dignity, security, and the freedom to live our lives as we want. Every American deserves the sense of safety and security that comes with health insurance. That’s why the President signed the Affordable Care Act, and that’s why he will continue to work to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are fundamental to our way of life, stay strong.

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Why I’m Tuning in to the Hillary Channel

Why I'm Tuning in to the Hillary Channel

If it hadn’t been for DailyKos front-pager Greg Dworkin’s link the other day, I would never have known about a statement in that diary. As a rule I don’t have time to read the APR when it’s fresh and hot; on this particular morning, however, Younger Son was late bringing the baby to my house, so I had time to look around the site and read whatever caught my fancy.

And this statement in a diary about Hillary and Bernie definitely caught my fancy:

Meanwhile, it is difficult for him [Bernie Sanders] to make inroads among women who are understandably excited about finally getting a woman president.

HillaryCircle

Yes.

As much as I like Bernie Sanders—in fact an online test showed me that I agree with his policy positions 94 percent of the time—I plan to vote for Secretary Clinton in the primary (if we can call George W. Bush by his previous title of “President,” I can certainly call her “Secretary Clinton”) . If you’ll bear with me for a few minutes I’ll tell you why.

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President Obama Announces 46 Commutations in Video Address: “America Is a Nation of Second Chances”

From the White House blog, Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President

As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and criminal defense attorney, I’m well acquainted with how federal sentencing practices can, in too many instances, lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Now, don’t get me wrong, many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.

These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President is committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system. Today, he is continuing this effort by granting clemency to 46 men and women, nearly all of whom would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today.

In a video released today, the President underscored the responsibility and opportunity that comes with a commutation:

In taking this step, the President has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules.

While I expect the President will issue additional commutations and pardons before the end of his term, it is important to recognize that clemency alone will not fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies. Tune in tomorrow as the President, [in an address to the NAACP], shares additional thoughts on how, working together, we can bring greater fairness to our criminal justice system while keeping our communities safe.

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Eugene Robinson: “This emblem of hatred and oppression is finally coming down”

Eugene Robinson, son of South Carolina, on today’s removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds:

For most of my life, a flag representing white supremacist violence against black people flew at the capitol of my native state. It is a very big deal that this emblem of hatred and oppression is finally coming down. […]

In the South, William Faulkner wrote, the past isn’t even past. The flag represented, for some white South Carolinians, a past that was invented out of whole cloth — a past in which something other than slavery was the cause of a conflict Southerners called the “War Between the States.”

In truth, the Civil War only was about states’ rights in the sense that the Confederate states feared losing one specific “right” — to own human beings and compel their labor. No amount of Spanish moss can obscure this basic fact. No paeans to the valor of Confederate soldiers can change the fact that they were fighting for slavery.

And no amount of revisionist claptrap can change the fact that the flag was hoisted at the capitol in Columbia in 1961 and kept flying not to honor some gauzy vision of Southern valor but to resist the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation. The flag meant whites-only schools, whites-only public accommodations, whites-only voter rolls. It represented white power and privilege over subjugated African Americans. It was used by the murderous terrorists of the Ku Klux Klan — and by an ignorant young white supremacist who allegedly took nine innocent lives at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

… it still took hours of contentious debate, but the House passed the bill around 1 a.m. and Haley signed it into law Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Jenny Horne (R) makes impassioned plea to vote to remove the flag

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Opposition Research, File #162-A

From redstate’s front page article “Stop Complaining about Donald Trump”:

So here is a hint for the other men and women running for President. If you want to tap into what Trump is getting, you do not have to be bombastic. You do not have to resort to hyperbole with every statement. But you do have to do something Republican candidates are loathe to do. You have to run against the Republican Party.

Hoo boy! Even Republicans hate the Republican party?!?! Sounds oddly familiar… like Seinfeld’s Bizarro World?

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News Follow-Ups

A follow-up to some prior essays of mine ........

In the past few years, I have dedicated several essays to the drive to bring to a theater near you: a feature-length film version of the 1965-1968 spy television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – the first covered the difficulty in finding a producer and the second involved holding-on to a director.

Now, an update.

This coming August 14th is set to be the premiere of the new movie – directed by Guy Ritchie and featuring Hugh Grant as Alexander Waverly – the spy agency head.

It stars the British actor Henry Cavill as agent Napoleon Solo (originally portrayed by Robert Vaughn). (Charlie Pierce often refers to Hope Solo – the goalkeeper for the US Women’s World Cup team – as “Napoleon Solo’s granddaughter.”)

Cast as Illya Kuryakin is the American actor Armie Hammer – the great-grandson of the industrialist Armand Hammer.

Looking forward to mid-August so that middle-aged coots like myself can, once again … “Open Channel D”.

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President Obama: “We must not allow ourselves to slip into comfortable silence again”

From the White House:

President Obama travels to the College of Charleston in South Carolina to deliver a eulogy for Reverend Clement Pinckney and 8 other congregation members of Emanuel AME who were killed on June 17, 2015. June 26, 2015.

President Obama:

Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety; praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah — rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad; bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice; places of scholarship and network; places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart — and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church.

That’s what the black church means. Our beating heart. The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate. When there’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel — a church built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founder sought to end slavery, only to rise up again, a Phoenix from these ashes.

On the Confederate flag and its removal:

For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.

Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong — the imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. […]

For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.

On the work ahead:

… it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual — that’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change — that’s how we lose our way again.

Full transcript below …

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