Black boys

 Posted by at 22:31  Politics
Jul 152013

Whatever your views on the George Zimmeran/Trayvon Martin verdict, I heartily recommend that you take a few moments to read this article by Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post. I’ll get you started, but you’ll need to click on the article’s title to read the whole thing.

Black boys denied the right to be young

Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night, with a verdict setting his killer free.

Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent. This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have — but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid.

George Zimmerman’s acquittal was set in motion on Feb. 26, 2012, before Martin’s body was cold. When Sanford, Fla., police arrived on the scene, they encountered a grown man who acknowledged killing an unarmed 17-year-old boy. They did not arrest the man or test him for drug or alcohol use. They conducted a less-than-energetic search for forensic evidence. They hardly bothered to look for witnesses.

Only a national outcry forced authorities to investigate the killing seriously. Even after six weeks, evidence was found to justify arresting Zimmerman, charging him with second-degree murder and putting him on trial. But the chance of dispassionately and definitively establishing what happened that night was probably lost. The only complete narrative of what transpired was Zimmerman’s.

Jurors knew that Zimmerman was an overeager would-be cop, a self-appointed guardian of the neighborhood who carried a loaded gun. They were told that he profiled Martin — young, black, hooded sweatshirt — as a criminal. They heard that he stalked Martin despite the advice of a 911 operator; that the stalking led to a confrontation; and that, in the confrontation, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the chest.

Please read the entire article.

Apr 202012

Before we get to today’s Friday Night Cartoons, there is an opinion piece in todays Washington Post that I’d like you to peruse. It was penned by Eugene Robinson and pretty much hits the nail right on the head. Here are a few pertinent excerpts…

Republican rhetoric over the top

Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk — the kind of ranting we’ve heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) — is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Let me be clear: I’m saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left — and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.

This is what distinguishes the flame-throwers of the far right from those of the far left. Nugent and his ilk seek to deny their political opponents the very right to believe in a different philosophy. Agree with me, he says, or be stomped.

There is no symmetry here. The far left may hurl insults at the right but doesn’t scream “fascism” whenever a Republican proposes privatizing Medicare.

So this is what I want to know: Mitt Romney, do you agree with your prominent endorser Ted Nugent that the Obama administration is evil and hates America? House Speaker John Boehner, do you agree with your star freshman West that “78 to 81” of your colleagues are card-carrying communists?

Speak up, gentlemen; I didn’t hear you.

You can click on the article’s title to read the whole thing.

Apr 122011

Eugene Robinson:

Far-right Republicans are winning the budget wars because they understand something that nobody else in Washington seems to grasp: The old truism about politics being the art of the possible is no longer true…

Their inspired tactic — which has worked so well that they would be crazy to abandon it — has been to take a wildly extreme position and stick to it with the obstinacy of a mule. When Democrats offer to negotiate, Republicans increase their demands. The result is that they shift the battlefield and end up fighting on terrain so friendly that they literally can’t lose.

Go. Read the entire column. I think you’ll find yourself nodding in full agreement. Especially if you have been paying attention these past few months.

Bush Derangement Syndrome

 Posted by at 19:26  Politics
Nov 092007

Eugene Robinson’s column for today is priceless and well worth the few minutes it will take you to read it… (Friday Night Cartoons are in the post previous to this one.)

Rage of Reason

It’s official: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now a full-blown epidemic. George W. Bush apparently has reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon.

That should be a pretty good indicator of where Bush will rank when historians get their hands on his shameful record — in the cellar, alongside the only president who ever had to resign in disgrace.

A Gallup Poll released this week showed that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of how the Decider is doing his job. That sounds bad enough — nearly two-thirds of the country thinks its leader is incompetent. But when you look more closely at the numbers, you see that Bush’s abysmal report card — only 31 percent of respondents approve of the job he’s doing — actually overstates our regard for his performance.

According to Gallup, if you lump together the Americans who “strongly” approve of Bush as president with those who only “moderately” feel one way or the other about him, you end up with about half the population. That leaves a full 50 percent who “strongly disapprove” of Bush — as high a level of intense repudiation as Gallup has ever recorded in its decades of polling.

Gallup has been asking the “strongly disapprove” question since the Lyndon Johnson administration. The only time the polling firm has measured such strong give-this-guy-the-hook sentiment was in February 1974, at the height of the Watergate scandal, when Nixon’s “strongly disapprove” number was measured at 48 percent. Bush beats him by a nose, but the margin of error makes the contest for “Most Reviled President, Modern Era” a statistical tie.

The Gallup Poll found that among Bush’s shrinking Republican base, he has unusually strong support. Independents, though, have joined Democrats in the Bush Derangement Syndrome clinic: They, too, “strongly disapprove” of the job the president is doing.

Bush didn’t come by this distinction with help from family connections or the Supreme Court. No, he earned it.

Look at the situation Bush’s successor will inherit. Throughout much of the world, the United States is seen as an arrogant bully whose rhetoric about freedom and the rule of law is disgracefully empty. The lawyers and students who are being tear-gassed in the streets of Pakistan’s cities will long remember that, when push came to shove, Bush chose to stick with a cooperative dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, rather than live up to his words about the universal value of democracy.

The next president will be left with more than 100,000 U.S. troops bogged down in Iraq, with an unfinished war in Afghanistan — and, between those two crises, a strengthened and emboldened Iran that hopes to dominate the world’s most dangerous region. Nice work.

Bush’s successor will, incredibly, assume control of a United States government that interrogates suspected terrorists with “enhanced” techniques known throughout the world by a much simpler term: torture. The new commander in chief will almost surely take custody of hundreds of people detained without formal charges and on questionable evidence, and held for years in secret CIA prisons or at Guantanamo. The next president will take over a government that claims the right to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without meaningful judicial oversight.

Whoever takes office in January 2009 will be left with a more polarized economy — an America where the rich have been made richer during the past six years with generous tax cuts, while more than 40 million people struggle without health insurance. The new president will be left with a government that not only failed miserably in its response to the most extensive natural disaster the nation has ever faced but that also reneged on Bush’s pledge to rebuild a better New Orleans — and to make it possible for all those who lived in the city to return.

The next occupant of the White House will find the nation’s coffers depleted by Bush’s wars — the price tag doubtless will have reached $1 trillion by Inauguration Day — and by whatever it eventually costs to keep the housing market afloat.

He or she will inherit, in short, a dismal mess. It will take most of the new president’s first term to begin to set things right.

It’s easy to understand why Americans have come to think of George W. Bush as the worst president in memory, perhaps one of the worst ever. What’s hard to fathom is how we’ll make it through the next 14 1/2 months. But who’s counting?

Click to enlarge.

Republican andropause

 Posted by at 20:11  Politics
Oct 262007

Today’s must-read op-ed column is from The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson…

Republican Hot Flashes

Has America become a mean, ungenerous, cramped and crabby nation, a deeply insecure colossus — one that just might be taking all those Viagra and Cialis commercials a bit too personally? Is the country desperate to find scapegoats for a perceived decline in, um, vigor? Or is America still a confident land of hope and promise, a place still potent with possibility?

It’s watching the Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail that makes me pose those big-picture questions. I’m just suggesting a context for assessing the actions and rhetoric of a party that seems to be in the throes of andropause.

That’s the popularly accepted term for “male menopause,” which medical dictionaries tend to describe as a “purported” syndrome rather than an actual clinical diagnosis. I’m not qualified to offer an opinion on whether dads go through a Y-chromosome version of what used to be euphemistically called the “change of life.” But I think the “Daddy party” has been presenting clear symptoms.

The latest was the Senate vote Wednesday in which Republicans, supported by a handful of red-state Democrats, narrowly scuttled the Dream Act, a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for some young undocumented immigrants — but only those who did everything this country once found worthy and admirable in pursuit of the American dream.

Under the proposal, men and women who fulfilled several conditions — they had to be under 30, had to have been brought into the country illegally before they were 16, had to have been in the United States for at least five years and had to be graduates of U.S. high schools — would have been given conditional legal status. If they went on to complete two years of college or two years of military service, they would have been eligible for permanent residency.

Let’s see. Here was a way to encourage a bunch of kids to go to college rather than melt into the shadows as off-the-books day laborers — or maybe even gang members. And here was a way to boost enlistment in our overtaxed armed forces. Aren’t education and global competitiveness supposed to be vital issues? Aren’t we fighting open-ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The vote against the Dream Act was so irrational, so counterproductive, that it seemed the product of some sort of hormonal imbalance.

The Republicans are doing all they can to focus attention on themselves and prove they are still somehow relevant in today’s world, but their efforts usually backfire. They just aren’t what they used to be.