Gov. Patrick: "Of Course I Wanted to See an Indictment"

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) says, without seeing facts, he supported a possible indictment against Officer Darren Wilson.

First Ladies, ‘Just Say No,’ and ‘Let’s Move’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on a sofa with Michelle Obama eating apples.

LeBron James and Dwayne Wade with Michelle Obama

First Ladies have traditionally taken on some issue or project during their husbands’ occupancy of the Oval Office. Lady Bird Johnson beautified America’s highways with wildflowers. Laura Bush worked hard to fight illiteracy. The endeavors are generally apolitical. Unless your last name happens to be Obama. Then, whatever you do will be framed by your marriage to that Kenyan, Muslim, radical communist. Even if what you are doing can save lives.

Perhaps you have seen some of the tweets at #ThanksMichelleObama that show some pretty unappealing school lunches. Complaining about school lunches used to be what we did at lunch when I was in school. I don’t think they have ever been noted for high quality or anticipated with mouthwatering delight. Then schools started serving fast food, their vending machines were filled with sodas and sweets. Children got fat.

In an effort to save them from a lifetime of health issues, the federal government, which pays for many of the lunches, decided to provide healthier food. Michelle Obama has been at the forefront of this movement and has even launched Let’s Move! to combat childhood obesity. This has made her a target for teens on Twitter.

I’m sure she has faced much worse, but it reminded me of another time a First Lady got involved with the daily lives of school children. It was way back in the 1980s when Nancy Reagan rolled out the feel-good PR program to support her husband’s War on Drugs, Just Say No.

Our granddaughter was in elementary school at the time, and came home one day with a bagful of goodies from D.A.R.E. (the companion program started by Daryl Gates, then chief of the Los Angeles Police Department). Colored pencils, posters, bumper stickers—it got a little awkward when she asked us to put one on our car.

For a walk down memory lane and a glimpse of the terrible price of that program, follow me below the fold.

Marshalling forces for justice

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Thurgood Marshall photographed in 1967 in the Oval Office

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, 1967, in the Oval Office

At a time in this nation, when we are facing the deep disparities in our justice system, often spoken of as “Just-Us”—meaning a system that is only for those who are white, straight and of a certain class; when black and brown Americans are incarcerated by the millions and are murdered by agents of that system who are paid to police our streets and communities; when we are dying in the streets branded as thugs and hoodlums and criminals; when the War on Drugs has become a war on those same citizens of color who now disproportionately fill both private and for profit prisons—we need to marshal our forces to continue to fight to give the word justice meaning in fact.  

A large part of the problem is our refusal to look squarely at the stark reality of what is not a series of unrelated, random outrages, like Mike Brown’s murder-by-cop in Ferguson and the failure of the St. Louis grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, or the recent shooting and murder-by-cop of 12-year-old Tamir Rice (add all the names you know to the list). We need to fundamentally change the justice system, from the top down and from the bottom up.

Follow below the fold for more.

Obama Thinks He Looks ‘Sad’ on Book Cover

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


President Obama comments on “The Stranger,” a book about Obama by Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, Saturday at a Washington, D.C., bookstore.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Police form a line in the street under a holiday sign after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri November 24, 2014. Gunshots were heard and bottles were thrown as anger rippled through a crowd outside

Leonard Pitts vs. the right’s beacon of law enforcement.

OK, fine. Let’s talk about “black on black” crime.

That, after all, is where the conversation seems to inevitably turn whenever one seeks to engage a conservative on the American habit of shooting unarmed African-American boys and men. So it was exasperating, but nowhere near surprising, to see former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani go there last week on Meet The Press.

Asked by host Chuck Todd, during a discussion of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., about the fact that African-American communities like that one are often served by snow white police departments, he offered some perfunctory words about the effort to produce more representative cop shops. But then Giuliani took a sharp turn off topic and into the brambles. “I find it very disappointing,” he told Todd, “that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks….I would like to see the attention paid to that that you are paying to this.”

There followed a sharp exchange with another panelist, author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, which produced this parting shot from the mayor: “The white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other.”

There you go, Republicans: Giuliani 2016 “Whites wouldn’t have to kill blacks if blacks weren’t killing blacks… or something.”

But there is crime and there is crime.

Redlining, loan discrimination and predatory mortgages have stripped generations of wealth from the African-American community. What is that if not robbery?

The Republican Party practices policies of voter suppression. That’s the assault and battery of African-American political rights.

Mass incarceration criminalizes the very existence of black men and boys. That’s the rape of equal justice.

Unarmed people are killed by those who are purportedly there to protect and serve them and the “just us” system looks the other way. That’s the murder of basic human rights.

And guess who is committing these crimes against the black community.

Wait. I’m sure Giuliani has an answer to this. Something like “we wouldn’t have to take rights away from blacks, if blacks would just vote the way we want them to.”

Come on in. As you might expect, we’re going to talk a lot about Ferguson. Because we need to.

Sunday Talk: Thanks for nothing

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2014-05-2008


Monday night, in a televised press conference, #FergusonProsecutorBob McCulloch announced that his grand jury had (literally) investigated the hell out of Michael Brown—and, to the surprise of no Juan, they’d decided not to indict Darren Wilson for killing him.

Apparently, after examining all of the physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, and having been apprised of the relevant statutes, the grand jury concluded that the 24-hour news cycle and social media were to blame.

Or something… it was kinda hard to follow everything—with all of that tear gas, smoke, and pepper spray in the background.

Whatever the case may be, shortly after McCulloch’s press conference ended, President Obama went on TV and tried to restore order—but not even his black magic was powerful enough to quell the hungry masses; it was clear to most that justice wasn’t being served.

He Reached For My Gun cartoon

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2014-05-2008


My cartoon drawn in the hours before the Ferguson Grand Jury decision announcement. @2014 Lalo Alcaraz / Universal Uclick

If Walmart can spend this much on share buybacks …

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2014-05-2008


I stand with the #WalmartStrikers because a company that spends more than $6 billion buying its own stock can afford to pay workers a living wage

Obamacare enrollment push needs to target Latinos, experts say

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2014-05-2008


Screenshot of home page for Spanish-language federal health insurance exchange

One of the great successes of Obamacare was in the surge of Latinos newly insured under the law. The uninsured rate among Latinos dropped from 36 percent to 23 percent from the summer of 2013 to spring of 2014. But with open enrollment for 2015 open now through mid-February, activists see a great deal of room for improvement. That’s because nearly a quarter of the Latino population is still uninsured, and because there are still barriers to getting them enrolled.

“When you have a community where a third of the people didn’t have health insurance, the process of informing people about their options and the choices they need to make requires more time,” said Jane Delgado, CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

She pointed out that health insurance is confusing to most people, even those who have had it for a long time. “It’s the nuances that make it complicated. It’s not like buying a television, where a TV’s a TV and there are some fine differences based on their choice,” she said. “These are matters of life and death.”

In addition some Hispanic people have expressed a belief that they don’t need health insurance, Delgado said.

For instance, in a 2013 survey by the Urban Institute, fewer than half the Hispanics polled disagreed with the statement “I’m healthy enough and I don’t really need health insurance,” compared with 64 percent of whites—implying that Hispanics were more likely to go without insurance.

“Our response to people is, ‘Can you afford not to have it?'” Delgado said.

The issue of health insurance being confusing certainly isn’t limited to any single group—not even to just the uninsured—because it is a confusing process for everyone. But that confusion is compounded by language barriers. One of the issues for the 2014 enrollment period was that there just weren’t enough Spanish-language resources available to do the kind of outreach and education needed. The parallel Spanish-language federal website was even buggier and more problematic than

The White House has focused on Latino outreach in the opening days of the 2015 enrollment season, with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell doing a Google hangout with Latino bloggers and interviews on Univision and Telemundo. Additionally, La Raza and the National Alliance are working with Spanish-language broadcasters and with community-based organizations around the country to get word out. Administration officials are also in Texas and Florida, focusing on enrollment efforts in those states with high Latino populations.

But that reflects another barrier to getting insurance to this population: Texas and Florida—the two states with the highest uninsured rates—also didn’t expand Medicaid. That immediately cuts about 1 million Latinos out of coverage. The heavy focus by the administration in those states does intend to try to reach the largest populations of uninsured people to get them coverage, but it is partly political. It’s shining a light on how many people are still left out because of the refusal by Republican lawmakers to help their constituents.

Rep. Steve King, border fence designer

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2014-05-2008


Rep. Steve King holds up drawing of the border fence he designed.

Rep. Steve King shows off his border fence design.

Rep. Steve King has personally designed a border fence. Some people may build model ships, others may create detailed topographical maps of Wyoming’s Devils Tower out of their mashed potatoes, but Rep. Steve King spends his time designing border fences.

“I constructed that fence on the floor of the House,” he said. “It’s kicking around on YouTube.”

King’s not joking. In 2006, he constructed a scale model of the fence he designed live on C-SPAN, complete with miniature barbed wire and cardboard to represent the dirt.

The operative parts of the fence design, and what Rep. Steve King brings to the table, is that the fence will attach to the ground, point up at the sky, and be tallish. He has blueprints and the aforementioned scale model, which differentiate him from all the other would-be fence designers of the world, many of whom have struggled with the whole attaches to the ground part. Thankfully the Mexican drug cartels who have partnered with ISIS to infiltrate our nation and who already are, to hear Republicans talk, nearly in control of our border states already have not yet achieved ladder technology, thus rendering the plan foolproof.

Rep. King (seen here as hand, torso) highlights the method by which his border fence
would attach to the ground and go upward from there in a vertical fashion.

As for the building 2,000 or so miles of it, Steve King doesn’t want to hear nonsense about expense or practicality.

When asked about critics who argue a border-length fence would be costly and nearly impossible to build in entirety, King compared it to the Great Wall of China, a project intended to keep out invading armies that cost the lives of thousands of Chinese workers to build.

“There were plenty of Chinese left over,” King said.

So there you go.