8 years of “suffering” under Barack Obama

Take a moment and think. What have/did we “suffer ” under 8 years of President Obama? An improving economy. Kindness and outreach to all. No scandals in the White House…. 

I say, “Let’s have more of this. Not more of 45’s junk, scandal, and fear mongering.”

Teri's Library

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3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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#DNCinPHL: Day 4

Yesterday my delegate tickets disappeared.  The PA Dem Party scrambled to find a replacement.  So I  was unable to attend Tuesday morning’s events. This morning, the were able to get me a pass for today and they are working on tomorrow’s pass.

So my first event today is an SEIU “Low Waged and Engaged”panel discussion at Philadelphia  City Hall.

Low Waged and Engaged Panel Discussion

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Luis Figueroa was the 1st speaker. He talked about the 64 million low-wage workers. Many, but not all, work in the service sector. Much of SEIU’s work is focused on The Fight for 15 and unionizing. Several questions were asked.

How do you engage low-wage workers in politics?

Steve Rosenthal did a PowerPoint commentary.

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Low-wage workers are disproportionately concentrated among women, blacks, and Latinos

Using North Carolina as an example, he noted that low-wage workers are less likely to vote.  But when they do vote,  they are more likely to vote Democratic.  The problem is getting them to vote. Reducing their vote via things like voter Id is a Republican focus. Democrats  need to place more focus on low-wage workers and not just on the people who donate money.

Shakira Stewart talked about the airport worker’s strike that was supposed to be held during the DNC Convention.  As a result of the politicians coming into town, American Airlines agreed to negotiate and the airport workers called off the strike – a win.

Nelini Stamp talked about what other types of workers are low-wage workers and what are their issues.  She talked about unfair work hours and lack of access to Workers Compensation. She then talked about how to assist low-wage workers to be politically engaged.  She said you need to talk about raising the minimum wage and ways to fight for decent and fair hours. And you need to deal with the intersectionality of low wages and race; you need to work with the #BlackLivesMatter actions and look at how the criminal justice system impacts these workers.

Susan Ray was then asked, “How do you change people’s behavior?” Her response was accompanied by another PowerPoint. She said you need to speak to their emotions and…

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General outlook on organizing

Where are they coming from?  Common perspective. ..

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So you need to say the personal is political…

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And make sure the goal looks winnable. And make it fun, inspirational and rewarding .

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Finally..

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Q and A followed.

What is the Fight for $15? SEIU says that in some states  it requires state passage. In others it can be done at the town level. So it depends on where you live.

We can focus on the electorate.  How do we deepen the struggle to head into the 2018 elections? Steve Rosenthal talked about  investing resources in communities  so that people are there (boots on the ground); we need to work with allied organizations and to be keep active within communities.

I’ll post this now and keep updating this throughout the day. Keep checking back…

Disability Council

My next session was a seminar on disability. The 1st speaker was Timothy Shriver . His main message was that we need to look at and speak  out about how people with disabilities are talked about. There has been a lot of pushback when we ask people to take down offending material. You need to persist and eventually you can be successful . And that we need to recognize is that everyone has a gift and we need to let the public understand that people with disabilities have a lot to offer. The important fact is that we need to get people with disabilities  registered and get them out to vote.

Zack Baldwin from AAPD spoke next. AAPD is a national cross-disability organization  whose mission is to increase the political power of people with disabilities.  Part of their work is to register people and to get media and politicians to talk openly with people with disabilities. To achieve this, they found it helpful to partner with local groups to make sure that access to voting registration and discussions are based on the idiosyncratic differences in each state. Also, it  was helpful for AAPD to get local municipalities to honor and proclaim that National Disabilities Voter Registration Week is important;  this event helps raise the issue that people with disabilities have a right and a need to register and vote. He noted that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as the general public, then there would have been 12 million more voters in 2012. Check out their Rev Up program here.

The Americans for Democratic Action commemorate the 1948 civil rights flag with representative John Lewis and Representative Keith Ellison

I’ve been waiting for this event all week. It is so full. I ended up in a seat in the hallway outside of the auditorium.

Here’s what the program book says about the 1948 civil rights plank:

At the 1948 convention, the Civil Rights flag was adopted as a Minority Report to the party platform on a highly contested, late night though. The southern delegation strongly opposed to civil rights Plank and some Alabama and Mississippi delegates walked out when it was adopted. Two weeks after the convention, President Harry Truman, whose civil rights program was the basis of the Civil Rights Act, issued executive orders desegregating the military and providing equal opportunity in federal employment. Southern Democrats responded by replacing Truman on the ballot with Governor Strom Thurmond of the States Rights Democratic Party. These “Dixiecrats” carried four states and 39 electoral votes. None the less Truman won the four-way election with 49.55% of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes. The Dixiecrats continued to oppose and black civil rights and Congress through the 1960s.

In the contentious election year of 1948 comma many Democrats and liberals, including Truman’s orders, we’re concerned a strong position on civil rights in danger the Democratic party’s chances of election in the fall. Republicans had won control of the House and Senate in the 1946 midterm election. ADA Founder, Hubert H Humphrey, at the time the 37-year-old mayor of Minneapolis and candidate for US Senate, was convinced to make the case for the Civil Rights Act. Humphrey rose and delivered one of the great convention speeches of all time in support of the plant that affirmed his reputation as a great orator. Some of his most powerful words:

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are one hundred seventy-two years late. To those who say that the civil rights program is an infringement on states rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After the late-night adoption of the Civil Rights Plank and the close of the convention in Blue Ball Pennsylvania, Humphrey and the other ADAers retreated to the North Philadelphia home of one of the ADA leaders to celebrate.”

It started about 50 minutes late.The two main speakers are Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) & Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Keith Ellison rates 100% by the ADA, just like John Lewis

Kareem Abdul Jabar was a surprise speaker.  He thanked the Dems & the for their fight for civil rights. He then focused on the need to provide education regardless of gender, color, or orientation.  It is the equalizer from kindergarten through college. We have to reduce the 1.3 trillion dollar debt that students are bearing for higher education. He then thanked Rep. Lewis for his stance on civil rights.

Rep. Ellison then spoke.He summarized the passage of the 1948 Civil Rights plank and Hubert Humphrey’s involvement in this passage. Hubert Humphrey wasn’t concerned about splitting the country; instead, he was concerned about the uniting of the country.  He believed this plank would do that. He showed how Donald Trump is a throwback to the Dixiecrats—touting hate and segregation. He then thanked Bernie Sanders for helping make the 2016 platform the most progressive Democratic platform “ever.” At that point,  he then introduced John Lewis.
Lewis spoke about his history.  About the public library refusing to give him a library card when he was a child; it was almost 40 years later that he got that library card from that same library.

He was proud to say that the segregation signs have been relegated to the history books. But now we are having efforts to bring those signs and behaviors back out on our streets, into our businesses, and  homes. We have to be vigilant and make sure this doesn’t happen.

He then said that voting is the strongest tool for pushback.  We must be the spark plug.  We must be a pilot light for democracy – stay lit and continue to keep democracy alive.

There is no such thing as an illegal human being.  We must respect the dignity and worth of every individual.  Doesn’t matter if we are black, white,  Asian, Muslim, gay or straight— we are all one people.

He then told the story of a rainstorm that occurred at the shotgun-style house he lived in when he was 4 or 5. They were fearful of the house blowing up because the storm was so strong.  His grandmother then said,  no matter what,  never leave the House. Hold it down, even when the wind blows. And if you do it right,  we can change the world.

THANK YOU, JOHN LEWIS for this call to action.

At the Convention 

I have been blogging for the last hour.  Unfortunately,  everything since I arrived somehow disappeared when I started taking some pictures. Hoping this doesn’t happen again.  So onward for the evening.

People from across the country came on stage to show the world our diversity.

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People representing the diversity of America

Jessie Jackson then talked. He said we need to ban assault weapons now. The shootings of young black men must stop. Black Lives Matter.  The shootings of police officers must stop. Ban assault weapons now.

The journey for civil rights started in 1948. When women win, women and children win. When Asians win, all races win.  It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. Keep hope alive. Thank you.

Mayor Karen Weaver, Flint Michigan

Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Michigan spoke next. Flint is the city that lost control of their water, resulting in the lead poisoning of the water. They still can’t drink the water. They expect lifelong problems from this disaster.  Many in Flint have joined Clinton because of her commitment to repairing the infrastructure in Flint and across the country.

The  Congressional Black Caucus  then stood on stage…

I’m  going to have to skip a bit of blogging. My phone is running out of its charge. I’m going to temporarily log off and try to recharge for some of the later speakers…

…I’m now back.

Martin O’Malley

At 7:30, Martin O’Malley spoke, saying that Trump thinks too much of himself.

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Governor Martin O’Malley

Climate Change

Climate change was next on the agenda. Rising food prices.  10 million acres of land burned in wildfires last year. Floods. Drought.  The thermometer isn’t Democratic. It isn’t Republican.  There is climate change.

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Renewable energy is the solution to climate change

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Governor Jerry Brown

Gun Violence

Ending Gun Violence is also important. Lee Daniels said 33K people die each year from gun violence. Enough is enough.

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Lee Daniels

Christine Leinonem, mother of one of the 49 people who died in the Orlando gay bay mass shooting. She said the weapon that killed her son shoots 33 bullets a minute.  “How is this common gun sense? This is why I support  Hillary (and not Trump).”

 

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Christine Leinonem leaving the stage with three of her son’s friends

Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed on December 14, 2013. She said that there are too many legislators who stand behind the NRA. What we need are leaders who will stand up to the NRA.  Someone like Hillary.

 

 

Then former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey called for common-sense gun laws. To stop the murder of citizens. To end the killing of cops. We need good community policing, comprehensive background checks, and a ban on assault weapons. Vote for the person who will work with communities and police. Hillary will help build this bridge and not an [increasingly violent] wall [between the community and the police].

 

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Former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard are two of the  mothers of shooting victims in Charleston,  SC: In summary, they said, “We choose love. Together we can heal.”wp-image-1520613046jpg.jpg

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard

 

Then we heard from Retired US Navy Captain Mark Kelly. He spoke about common gun sense. Hillary knows we can save lives by keeping guns out of the hands [of violent people].  Then his wife, former Representative Gabby  Giffords joined him on stage…

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Captain Mark Kelly

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Representative Gabby Giffords

Broadway singers and actors then came on stage to sing “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love” in honor of the victims of gun violence.

And another break to charge some more…

And now it’s Vice President  Joe Biden’s turn…

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Vice-President Joe Biden

He congratulated Michelle Obama for her work and her speech on Monday.  He honored his son Bo Biden who died of cancer a couple of years ago. He then honored

  • Teachers who use their hard-earned money to buy her kids pencils.
  • Hillary for her passions – college education, health care, decent pay, elder care

We will all, especially our daughters, be so proud when she walks into the Oval Office.

And Donald Trump?

  • He confuses bluster with defense
  • He belittles everyone
  • He’s dangerous

We have the strongest economy in the world. And if given a chance,  we will endure. We don’t succumb to fear. The 21st century will be the American century because we will empower ourselves and the world for the better!”

Michael Bloomberg

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

TIM KAINE

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Vice-Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine

I “humbly accepted” the nomination for the position of Vice President of the United States.

I was the  70th governor of Virginia. Even my father in law, former  Republican  VA governor Holton is voting Democratic more and more often because “the party of Lincoln has moved too far to the right.”

Issues of concern that he raised during his speech:

  • Quality education
  • Investments in transportation and communities
  • Care for our veterans

We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So we need to do all that you can for others/

¡Si se puede! Yes! We can!

Why do I trust Hillary? She’s consistent.

  • She’s consistently worked for kids and families.
  • She delivers too. She battled the Republicans to get healthcare for 1st responders.
  • She was not afraid to stand up to bullies like Osama Ben Laden
  • I trust Hillary with my son’s life (who deployed overseas two weeks ago).

Even Barbara Bush is troubled about Trump. She said, “I don’t know how anyone could vote for Trump after his comments about women.”

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Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton

And finally, President Barack Obama… He was introduced by 80+-year-old Sharon Belkofer of Rossford, OH,  a gold-star mom.

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President Barack Obama

President Obama  highlighted his accomplishments over the last 8 years

  • Healthcare is a right. I got the ACA (Affordable Care Act) passed. [My personal opinion on this: The ACA was  a decent start, but we need to go further so that everyone has healthcare and that means single-payer healthcare / Medicare for All]
  • We are working to save this planet for our children.
  • Marriage equality is now real across the land
  • Education has improved

We need to make:

  • Our streets safer
  • Correct the criminal justice system
  • Create equality for all
  • There are pockets of the country that haven’t recovered.  We must do better.

What’s  right about America. We believe we are stronger together and we reach out to each other.

And it will continue with the next President — Hillary Clinton

And I agree with that hope for the future…

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YES! WE CAN!

YES! WE CAN!

Is “Anonymous” Always a Woman Anymore? NO!

We have all heard Virginia Woolf’s quote “Anonymous was a woman.”  This quote refers to women who have disappeared when speaking their truth, history, and art throughout much of recorded history. She may not have signed her statements. Her statements may have been attributed to either a male that she was associated with or she has, over time, had her voice misattributed to a man in the popular mind.  As with quotes, women’s history has long been made hidden or anonymous.

This hidden history is now being addressed and has been since the 1970’s here in the United States.  As President Jimmy Carter said in 1980:

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.

As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, “Women’s History is Women’s Right.” – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”

Initially in the US, the federal government proclaimed the week surrounding March 8 (known around the world as International Women’s Day) as Women’s History Week.  By 1986, 14 states had declared March to be Women’s History Month to have schools and communities recognize and raise up the history of women – individuals as well as movements.  The following year Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. Every year since then the President of the United States creates a special proclamation once again declaring March as Women’s History Month by highlighting the achievements of American women.

We as women are no longer “Anonymous.” Our voices and our history are being added to what children and adults learn.

As part of each year’s Women’s History Month, a theme is associated with the month’s programs on women’s history.  In 2016, that theme is Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.  Following this theme, leaders throughout the country, both women and men, have stepped up to the plate to highlight women’s service and history.

Here’s what President Obama said in his 2016 proclamation on February 29, 2016:

Throughout history, women have driven humanity forward on the path to a more equal and just society, contributing in innumerable ways to our character and progress as a people.  In the face of discrimination and undue hardship, they have never given up on the promise of America:  that with hard work and determination, nothing is out of reach.  During Women’s History Month, we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set.

For too long, women were formally excluded from full participation in our society and our democracy.  Because of the courage of so many bold women who dared to transcend preconceived expectations and prove they were capable of doing all that a man could do and more, advances were made, discoveries were revealed, barriers were broken, and progress triumphed.  Whether serving in elected positions across America, leading groundbreaking civil rights movements, venturing into unknown frontiers, or programming revolutionary technologies, generations of women that knew their gender was no obstacle to what they could accomplish have long stirred new ideas and opened new doors, having a profound and positive impact on our Nation.  Through hardship and strife and in every realm of life, women have spurred change in communities around the world, steadfastly joining together to overcome adversity and lead the charge for a fairer, more inclusive, and more progressive society.

During Women’s History Month, we honor the countless women who sacrificed and strived to ensure all people have an equal shot at pursuing the American dream.  As President, the first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for working American women to effectively challenge illegal, unequal pay disparities.  Additionally, my Administration proposed collecting pay data from businesses to shine a light on pay discrimination, and I signed an Executive Order to ensure the Federal Government only works with and awards contracts to businesses that follow laws that uphold fair and equal labor practices.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer charge women more for health insurance simply because of their gender.  And last year, we officially opened for women the last jobs left unavailable to them in our military, because one of the best ways to ensure our Armed Forces remains the strongest in the world is to draw on the talents and skills of all Americans.

Though we have made great progress toward achieving gender equality, work remains to be done.  Women still earn, on average, less for every dollar made by men, which is why I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act — a sensible step to provide women with basic tools to fight pay discrimination.  Meanwhile, my Administration has taken steps to support working families by fighting for paid leave for all Americans, providing women with more small business loans and opportunities, and addressing the challenges still faced by women and girls of color, who consistently face wider opportunity gaps and structural barriers — including greater discrepancies in pay.  And although the majority of our Nation’s college and graduate students are women, they are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which is why we are encouraging more women and girls to pursue careers in these fields….

This month, as we reflect on the marks made by women throughout history, let us uphold the responsibility that falls on all of us — regardless of gender — and fight for equal opportunity for our daughters as well as our sons.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2016 as Women’s History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. 

Similarly, in my back yard, the Centre County Commissioners today proclaimed March 2016 as Women’s History Month here is Centre County and presented the proclamation to Michele Hamilton, President of Ni-Ta-Nee NOW (the local chapter of the National Organization for Women).

Before we were given the proclamation, Michele talked about the history of Women’s History Month and this year’s theme. She then called upon people throughout the county to recognize local woman who have taken up public service and/or are serving our local communities in public office past and present and in the future.

 

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Michele Hamilton, President of Ni-Ta-Nee NOW presenting the history of the creation of Women’s History Month. Note that in honor of women’s history, we wore the suffragists’ emblematic colors   – purple, white, and gold

I then gave a bit of women’s history – from women being hidden and anonymous to the creation of the Declaration of Sentiments in Seneca Falls in 1858, to the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the vote in the US in 1920, to the continuing activities throughout the US today to put women fully in to the US Constitution through the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

I then, like Michele, called on the public, to advocate for passage of the ERA both at the state level and at the national level.  FYI, here in Pennsylvania, on May 18, 1971, we became the 4th or 5th state in the country to create a state-level ERA (Virginia also created their state ERA in 1971, but I can’t find the actual date of ratification) and we were the 21st state to ratify the federal ERA on September 27, 1972.  Currently, 35 of 38 states have ratified the federal ERA.

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Joanne Tosti-Vasey (l) presenting information on the history of the Equal Rights Amendment

For more information on the ERA and the two routes of activism to full ratification, go to Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution.

Once our presentations giving voice to women’s history in the US and here in Centre County, we were presented with the “County of Centre Proclamation Number 7 of 2016:

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Women’s History Month Proclamation by Centre County PA Commissioners

Here’s the text of the proclamation:

 

WHEREAS, women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the gro3wth and strength of our County in countless way; and

WHEREAS,  women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of the life of the County; and

WHEREAS, women have played a unique role throughout the history of the County, Pennsylvania and the United States in many ways; and

WHEREAS, women have and continue to, through their work, improve communities through or County; and

WHEREAS, women have been leaders, not only in securing their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity, but also in the abolitionist mov3ment, the emancipation movement, the industrial lavor movement, the civil rights movement, and other movements, which creat4 a more fair and just society for all; and

WHEREAS, younger generations of women from all races, classes, and ethnic backgrounds will continue to contribute to our County, Commonwealth, and Country;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Centre County Board of Commissioners does hereby proclaim March2016 as “Women’s History Month” and encourages the citizens of Centre County to observe with attending appropriate programs, ceremonies, activities, and to visit womenshistorymonth.gov and or local Centre County Library and Historical Museum to learn about the generations of women who have influenced or history.

ADOPTED this 22nd day of March, 2016

CENTRE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Michael Pipe, Chair

Mark Higgins

Steven G. Dershem

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Proclamation Presentation: l. to r.: Mike Pipe, Mark Higgins, Joanne Tosti-Vasey, Michele Hamilton, and Steven G. Dershem

 

 

 

 

March on Washington 50 in 140 Characters

Today I listened to the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington speeches at the “Let Freedom Ring” program held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  It was broadcast on C-SPAN.  Throughout the broadcast, I listened, tweeted, retweeted, and commented on what I was seeing and hearing.

Here is what I heard as well as my thoughts in a series of 140 characters.

Original Tweets:

@BarackObama Fathers, mothers, former prisoners, people of all colors, children, lgbt… They are all marching 4 Freedom & Justice #mow50

@BarackObama Medgar Evans, Cheney, #MLK didn’t die in vain. We still require vigilance. We will move forward 4 #CivilRts #jobs #Justice

@BarackObama the flame of justice never died despite the indignities placed on the disenfranchised. They marched. #letfreedomring 4 all #mow50 (Retweeted by @Penny_G during program plus one comment from Richard Punko:@tosti_vasey Amen! We must rekindle that fame and passion and March again. Tyranny of rich, powerful, bigoted conservatives must not prevail)

@BarackObama 5 decades ago today we came together to call for the full promise for all as written in our Declaration of Independence #MOW50

#LetFreedomRing bell from church in Birmingham that was burned in 60s just rung at Lincoln memorial w @BarackObama & King family #MOW50

We must keep justice & freedom alive. #LetFreedomRing for all. Gay straight, men women children, people of color. Rev Bernice King #mow50

Rev Bernice King praises inclusion of women and 3 current/former Presidents on #mow50. Didn’t happen 50 years ago.

@billclinton We need to stop complaining about Congress gridlock & (in summary) go for jobs, justice, peace, & environmental safety. #mow50@billclinton in the shadow of Lincoln’s statue, we still need to walk against the racial divide to change America to #LetFreedomRing #mow50

We know how #mlk would have reacted to recent cutting of #votingrights, #immigration, etc.

@JimmyCarter thanks #MLK 4 #civilrights. In 40′ & 50’s I saw black schools without building cause my community wouldn’t provide buses #mow50

@BarackObama, @JimmyCarter, @billclinton, & Michele Obama on #mow50 stage w #mlkfamily & Rep. Lewis Big leadership change from 50 yrs ago.

@Oprah as we reaffirm our support of #MLKDream, we too can be a “drum major” for #Justice. Bells will toll @ 3:00 to #LetFreedomRing forever

Lynda Johnson Robb: my father pushed 4 the 64 Civil Rights Act, 65 Voting Rights Act, & 67 Fair Housing Act he heart #civilrights #MOW50

@revalsharpton “we will beat the James Crow, Jr Esq” program of voter suppression, stand your ground, etc. #MOW50 #Racism

Sign seen @ #mow50 “We March for jobs, justice, & peace.” Still true 50 years after #MLKDream speech. Everyone join in!

Delores Huerta si se puede if you go back to your community and bring all to the fight for justice. #mow50 #Women #CivilRts #lgbt, etc.

Alan van Capalle “The ark of justice won’t bend for all without your work & help.” #MOW50

@repdonnaedwards we must raise our voices for voting rights, ending violence, etc. What rights & fights will u raise your voice? #mlkdream

Modified Tweets and Comments:

Right on! MT @civilrightsorg so says @BarackObama: “We were told that growing inequality is the cost of prosperity.” #mow50 #endpoverty

MT @blackvoices: “The men & women who gathered 50 years ago weren’t here seeking some abstract goal, they were seeking jobs” Obama Still are

#Jobs #Justice MT @HalfinTen Don’t Forget: Organizers of original #mow called 4 min. wage of > $13 in 2013 dollars #raisethewage #mlkdream50

We must fight back. RT @p_majority RT @repjohnlewis: To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we must say that we cannot be patient.  (Retweeted by @p_majority during program)

As part of #jobs, #justice & #peace… RT @NationalNOW We need a living wage! thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/0… Via @thinkprogress #MOW50

Absolutely! @repdonnaedwards u go girl! RT @NCJW “We must lift our voices for just wages” Rep Donna Edwards #mow50

Retweets:

RT @thecyclemsnbc The President reminds us: the measure of progress isn’t how many blacks join the ranks of millionaires, but how many join the middle class.

RT @Jenalenglish Pleased to hear Obama addressing poverty in the context of freedom. Because there is no liberty without livelihood. #MOW50

RT @LAKane H/T to @billclinton: “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.” thkpr.gs/18liNa0 #dreamday (Retweeted by @JCWPolitics during program plus Comment after program ended by @LAKand: @JCWPolitics @tosti_vasey, thanks for the RT!)

RT @whitehouse President Obama: “Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed. Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed.” #MLKDream50

RT @EdgeofSports “Our only hope today lies in recapturing the revolutionary spirit declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” – MLK

RT @chucktodd The 3 presidents speaking, representing 3 generations/experiences on issue of race. Carter born in 20s, Clinton in the 40s, Obama in the 60s

RT @GabrielaRM “We may have come here in different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now,” Rep. John Lewis #AdvancingTheDream #MOW2013

RT @SDACLU 50 years later… those signs that say white and colored are gone… but there are still invisible signs. @repjohnlewis #endracialprofiling

RT @OccupyWallSt One of the goals of the March on Washington was a $2 minimum wage. In 2013 dollars, that would be $15.34 #MLKfb.me/1tmtAW09l

RT @NAACP Congressman @repjohnlewis: We have come a long way in 50 years, but we have a long way to go before we can fulfill King’s dream. #MOW50

RT @ply_25 “Justice delayed is justice denied”— THANK YOU, Ellie Smeal, @FemMajority! #herstorymow50

RT @MSNBC President Obama will deliver remarks at 2:45pmET at #MOW50. Tune into @msnbc for special coverage: onmsnbc.co/fweR3M #AdvancingTheDream (note: It was actually just after 3 pm when President Obama spoke)

RT @NAACP Caroline Kennedy: It is our turn to live up to the dreams of the last generation and work together for a better world. #MOW50

RT @feministteacher In 1963 there were 4 African Americans in Congress; today there are 44. #dreamday #MoW50

RT @politico Today in 1963, in preparation for the March on Washington, the Pentagon readied 19,000 troops in the suburbs. More: politi.co/15jjY82

RT @WomenInTheArts “We must ensure that the story of women in the movement is told” #MarchonWashington ow.ly/olE0L #linkatlunch @msmagazine

RT @civilrightsorg We are far from justice when an #LGBTQ person can be fired just for who they are! Support #ENDA – employment nondiscrimination act! #MOW50

RT @HalfinTen .@MartinLutherK True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice #talkpoverty #action4thedream #MLKDream50

RT @jbouie If “race agitator” was the “race hustler” of the 1960s, I’m pretty sure every civil rights leader at the time would have been called one.

Special Report: IRS Scandal Shakes Washington (OR IS IT?)

I just read this blog by Michael J. Rosen about the extra scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. I decided to repost his blog with three sets of comments. My comments give thought to three different sets of questions:

  1. What else besides what we’ve heard about might have helped lead to this “scandal?”
  2. Is it really a “scandal?” Do we know?
  3. Is this issue likely to go away soon?

What else might be behind this scandal?

Besides a lack of training and oversight that we’ve heard about, I think another part of this whole problem is the backlog of applications in the non-profit division of the IRS. I talked to them the other day about a non-profit I work with that is attempting to get its 501(c)4 status reinstated due to the 990-N issue. The agent I talked to said that they are getting over 5,000 applications every month and are working on them on a first come, first serve basis.

The IRS website says that with the small staff they have, there is an even greater backlog on applications than what the agent told me. Here’s that IRS statement.

“All [non-profit] applications are sent to the IRS Determinations Office in Cincinnati. This office receives approximately 70,000 applications for tax-exempt status of all kinds each year [that averages out to 5,833 new applicants each month]. This includes applications from section 501(c)(3) and section 501(c)(4) organizations. This office, which includes fewer than 200 people working directly on applications, is primarily responsible for working determination applications.”

The agent helped me to figure out the current status of this VERY SMALL non-profit that I’m working with (if it brings in $400/year for this group, it’s doing well). He told me that the records show that all of the paperwork at our end is basically complete, but the application won’t be reviewed until the office gets to the applications marked as “complete” as of September 2012 (when he says my group officially completed the paperwork). And, directing me to another section of the website, he pointed out that the office is currently working on applications from early May 2012 – i.e., over a 1 year delay in processing!

The aforementioned web page also goes into more detail, from the official IRS viewpoint, of what happened with the Tea Party organizations. It says that approximately 70 Tea Party groups were put into the in-depth “centralized” review; that out of a total of, currently, about 470 organizations being given similar treatment.

Is it a Scandal? Do We Really Know?

A scandal is defined as “a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it.” A political scandal is “an instance of government wrongdoing” that offends or disgraces those directly associated with that wrongdoing.
In this case, so far, it doesn’t appear to be a scandal that rises to the level of the White House. According to the Washington Post, based on increasing evidence, the IRS issue is very bad press for the Obama administration. According to their report,

If we believe the agency inspector general’s report, a group of employees in a division called the “Determinations Unit…” started giving tea party groups extra scrutiny, were told by agency leadership to knock it off, started doing it again, and then were reined in a second time and told that any further changes to the screening criteria needed to be approved at the highest levels of the agency.

The White House fired the acting director of the agency [this week] on the theory that somebody had to be fired and he was about the only guy they had the power to fire. They’re also instructing the IRS to implement each and every one of the IG’s recommendations to make sure this never happens again.

And from all the evidence obtained so far, there is no evidence of any connection between the “Determinations Unit” and the Obama administration. So unless there is a smoking gun hidden somewhere, there is no political scandal within the White House. Time will tell.

Is this issue likely to go away anytime soon?

No, I personally doubt that the issue will “go away” anytime soon.

Three reasons:

  1. partisan politics to continue attacking Obama’s executive branch;
  2. long history of spying and intrusiveness; and
  3. free-speech issues.

The first issue is purely partisan. Issues that Republicans think will make President Obama look bad are brought up again and again even when the public, to some extent (but not the base) has moved on. Has the Benghazi issue died? How many times will the Republican-dominated House vote to revoke Obamacare before they give up?

The second issue is spying and intrusiveness that, for the first time in a long time, concerns both sides of the aisle. There has been a long history of the feds, usually the FBI, targeting non-profits. Think of the Friends (Quakers) peace-related work for example or the Communist-baiting of the 1950s. Usually it’s the more progressive, left-leaning groups that are targeted. These groups have a long memory and I think may, in this case, support the concerns raised in this non-profit scrutiny case. And since there were progressive groups in this list of targeted non-profits, both sides have some ammunition to push back against the actions of the IRS.

The third is a First Amendment issue. Combine these IRS actions with the free press concerns over the Justice Department’s review of press reporters’ phone logs; both sides have screamed NO. What you have here are two different departments of the executive branch allegedly intruding on the First Amendment: one department—the IRS—may be attacking an individual’s free speech rights and another department—the Justice Department—may be attacking freedom of the press. Both protections are contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

So no, based on all three routes of concern, I don’t think this issue will go away anytime soon.

Michael Rosen Says...

This week, the US Internal Revenue Service acknowledged and apologized for behavior that had long been rumored. The IRS improperly targeted for extra scrutiny conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

IRS logoThe IRS did not ultimately deny tax-exempt status to a single group receiving extra scrutiny. Some say this proves that the actions of the IRS were baseless.

The scandal has now shaken the nation’s capital:

President Barack Obama directed Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, to request the resignation of Steven Miller, Acting IRS Commissioner.

Miller resigned and Lew accepted the resignation.

The Justice Department has initiated a criminal investigation.

Exercising its oversight responsibility, Congress has begun its own probe of the IRS scandal.

Obama addressed the nation on television saying, “It’s inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but particularly…

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