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August 13th, 2013
thesmithian

John Lewis is a congressman from Georgia and the sole surviving speaker from the [1963] March on Washington…His history makes him the closest thing to a moral voice in the divided Congress. At 73, he is still battling a half-century-old fight. With the Voting Rights Act in jeopardy now that the Supreme Court has invalidated one of its central provisions, Mr. Lewis, a Democrat, is fighting an uphill battle to reauthorize it.

more.

August 4th, 2013
thesmithian

In the over 30 years of Republican political dominance, the evidence of anthropogenic climate change has only strengthened to the point that 97 percent of credible climate scientists support the overwhelming evidence of human caused climate change. Yet over that time the Republican/conservative response has been to use its power to misinform and to obstruct any progress to mitigate. The Republican political leaders have taken the side of their business buddies—the fossil fuel industry, who have rewarded them with obnoxious sums of money for their support which has assured them of unrivaled control of the energy market. In the 112th GOP-controlled congress alone there have been 317 votes taken against the environment.

more.

In the over 30 years of Republican political dominance, the evidence of anthropogenic climate change has only strengthened to the point that 97 percent of credible climate scientists support the overwhelming evidence of human caused climate change. Yet over that time the Republican/conservative response has been to use its power to misinform and to obstruct any progress to mitigate. The Republican political leaders have taken the side of their business buddies—the fossil fuel industry, who have rewarded them with obnoxious sums of money for their support which has assured them of unrivaled control of the energy market. In the 112th GOP-controlled congress alone there have been 317 votes taken against the environment.

more.

August 2nd, 2013
thesmithian
There are six steps in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. The last…is reconciliation. It is impossible to find reconciliation with one’s opponents with a gun. The gun lobby knows this. It is the fundamental strategy for the gun industry and the gun rights groups to keep everyone afraid…They help generate the fears, exacerbate them, and exploit their effects. They sell all sides the guns. It is impossible to overestimate how far the gun lobby and its apologists stand from those who want to see change in America’s gun culture. But that huge chasm is slowly being bridged by those who understand that achieving reconciliation requires completing King’s five other steps: information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, and direct action. Information gathering about the impact of gun violence is ongoing because Congress’s ban on firearms research created at the bidding of the National Rifle Association has now been lifted by the Obama administration.
Alice Johnson, executive director of Georgians for Gun Safety.
July 27th, 2013
thesmithian

Former Rep. Lindy Boggs, the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana and an ardent civil rights campaigner , has died at age 97. Boggs went to Congress after a special election to succeed her late husband, Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr….She served in the House for nearly two decades. She died of natural causes…according to her daughter, NPR senior news analyst/ABC News journalist Cokie Roberts…When Boggs announced her retirement in 1990, she was the only white person representing a black-majority district in Congress…

more. plus one of her first plans of action was helping women to get credit cards (and loans) without a husband’s permission.

July 24th, 2013
thesmithian

'…In anticipation of President Obama's economic address this afternoon, congressional Republicans made an announcement of their own overnight: they intend to fight tooth and nail to slash public investments, regardless of the economic effects…

…on everything from infrastructure to environmental protections, health care to energy efficiency, law enforcement to transportation. Looking at the GOP plan, one starts to get the impression that Republicans hold some kind of personal grudge against struggling American families…

more.

July 24th, 2013
thesmithian

Former New York Gov. David Paterson…said yesterday…he might be open to running for Charlie Rangel’s Congressional seat in Harlem if Rangel, 83, decides not to run again…“I’m definitely looking at it,” Paterson said Monday about the idea.

more.

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art: illustration by Morgan Schweitzer

July 22nd, 2013
thesmithian

'Like old habits of speech and thought, the worst features of southern history linger far longer than we admit…'

Today we even can hear remnants of the white South’s worst past at the Supreme Court, where justices engage in a version of cable television polemics more than informed inquiry. As an institution that for many decades was instrumental in entitling segregated, repressive political power, the Court should now give what the Civil War Amendments authorized and Congress has twice granted when it renewed the Voting Rights Act: the proven, peaceful mechanism by which the South and the nation can move closer to the revolutionary aims of a diverse democracy.

more.

July 22nd, 2013
thesmithian

'The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all…

In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists. And the worst is not behind us.

more.

July 1st, 2013
thesmithian

When President Obama unveiled his program to tackle climate change last month, he…sidestepped Congress as a hopeless bastion of obstruction, relying completely on changes that could be imposed by regulatory agencies. A two-year study by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, released today, illustrates what might be one of the reasons why he had to take this circuitous route. Fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch have, through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group they back, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge in which they have promised to vote against “legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts”…the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning…

bold, ours. more, here.

July 1st, 2013
thesmithian
Former slave state officials wasted little time in announcing their intention to move forward with voter suppression laws that had previously been blocked under the Voting Rights Act—voter identification laws, early voting laws, even voter registration laws. But Democrats in Congress just as quickly announced their intention to pass an updated replacement for Section 4. Added to this past year’s electoral experience, when the response to voter suppression efforts lead to the highest minority voter turnout ever, the prospects are potentially disastrous for the GOP. In that respect, the conservatives’ over-reach in Shelby County may turn out to be less like Plessy, and more like an even more infamous case, Dred Scott, which tried to settle slavery as a political issue once and for all, but only ended up fueling the rush toward civil war and eventual emancipation.
Paul Rosenberg, at Random Lengths News
June 30th, 2013
thesmithian
A mistake of historic importance was made when terrorism was determined to be an act of war and not criminal conspiracy. The wrong strategies and doctrines, including invasions and regime changes, were adopted, and a new stimulus to dramatically expand the intelligence-industrial complex was provided. The Cold War ended 22 years ago and the global war on terrorism is being replaced by more targeted approaches…Someone or someones must be empowered by the White House and Congress to take an Olympian view of the intelligence-industrial complex, to down-size it…provide strict rules for its conduct and operations, and eliminate the metastasizing private consulting world now overwhelming it. In 2004, Congress created a Director of National Intelligence to do something like this. It has not worked. The case of Edward Snowden, and future Snowdens to come, will continue to draw great media attention. But, while preoccupied by the character of the renegade, the larger historic question remains: How do we stop the growth of the Intelligence-Industrial Complex?
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