Politics postsThursday January 31, 2013
Obama on the 'Us vs. Them' of Immgration Reform: 'A lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them'
Pres. Obama on immigration reform:
What My $3,000 Helped Buy
“We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”
“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.”
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”
Not to mention the freedom to roll your eyes.
The Way the Right-Wing Has Always Supported Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here are a few lines from Rick Perlstein's book, “Nixonland,” which I read yesterday, and which are particularly appropriate today—both MLK Day and the second inauguration of Barack Obama. They're reminders of how much, and how little, things have changed:
“It is my firm belief, and of all my neighbors, that King should be taken into custody ... Today, the insufferable arrogance of this character places him on a pedestal as a dark-skinned Hiter.”
“When greedy Mr. Hitler started taking over other countries, people at first thought 'give him a little more, then he will be satisfied' ... Give greedy Mr. King a little more freedom then he will stop. Isn't that what we are told today?”
--Constituent letters to U.S. Senator Paul Douglas (D-IL), during the battle for opening house in the summer of 1966; from “Nixonland,” pp. 122 and 123
These days, of course, everyone evokes Dr. King for their own cause, even, absurdly, the NRA. That's how things have changed. At the same time, every prominent black leader, particularly those known for non-violence and compromise, are still being compared to Hitler. That's the way we're hearing the same damned shit.
Back in the day, Steve Kaplan, editor-in-chief at “Minnesota Law & Politics,” used to include a section in the year-end “Turkeys” issue called “Who's Being Compared to Hitler This Year?” It's the comparison that's always absurd and never goes out of style.
Martin Luther King, Jr. after his march for open housing in Chicago was disrupted by violence. He said he'd never seen hatred—not in Alabama or Mississippi—like the hatred he saw in Chicago.
How Grover Norquist is like Abbie Hoffman
I'm reading Rick Perlstein's “Nixonland,” the second volume of his three(?)-volume history on the rise and ascendancy of the far right in the United States and the unmaking of the American consensus. I'm at the summer of 1966. Chicago. Daley and King.
In its broadest sense, America fractured, and remains fractured, over the role of, and our faith in, government. But it's not an either/or proposition. Both sides have their contradictions.
The left believes government can do well domestically (social safety net) but fucks up internationally (Vietnam, Iraq).
The right believes government can do well internationally (Cold War, nation building) but fucks up domestically (welfare state).
All of this is fairly obvious but I didn't really see it with any kind of clarity until this morning. I grew up in the '60s and '70s with the left distrustful of government and came of age with the right distrustful of government, and I thought it was the same thing. It's not. It's really about where you want to spend the money. It's also about which side gets extreme and when. In the 1960s, it was the left, and its embodiments included Abbie Hoffman. Today it's the right, and its emodiments include Grover Norquist.
Again, all fairly obvious. I apologize for even bringing it up.
Idiot of the Day, Month, Year: Wayne La Pierre
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
--The NRA's Wayne La Pierre during a press conference, his first since Newtown, in which he suggested we prevent future school massacres by employing armed guards at every school in the country. A transcript, and a video of his talk, is available here.
Rebuttal from Andrew Sullivan's readers, including a reminder that Columbine had armed guards, not to mention the cost of what La Pierre is suggesting, is available here.
My thoughts? La Pierre is bad for the NRA, which is bad for America. So are all the fools ascribing cultural factors, such as violence in movies and violence in video games, to the various massacres in this country. Because aren't such movies and video games sold and watched and played all over the world? So why the problems here? Is it in our nature? Is America unexceptional? As for the supposed lack of God in our culture, isn't Europe more Godless? Isn't that what these same folks say? So why so much murder here? Why not there?
Let's face it: we have a bit of a gun problem. It's fucking obvious.
Do we blame the 2nd amendment? I was in a discussion about this on Facebook the other day, with people who supported the invidual rights interpretation of the amendment (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms”) rather than the collectivist rights interpretation (“A well regulated militia,” etc.).
Here's the version of the amendment as passed by Congress:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Here's the version as ratified by the States:
We lost two commas and a capital “A,” but both versions contain 27 words. Thirteen of those tend to be ignored by Wayne La Pierre and the NRA. But why ignore them? Seriously. What is the above really saying? It's saying, “Because X, therefore Y.” But X is no longer true. We have a regular army and a National Guard. A well regulated militia is no longer necessary for the security of a free state. And if X is no longer true, Y is no longer therefore.
I know. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn't agree with me. But it used to. For most of its history.
As for La Pierre's quote above about good guys and bad guys with guns? It's the product of Hollywood stupidity. Stupid liberal Hollywood.
Wayne La Pierre of the NRA gave a post-Newtown press conference today (top), which was interrupted by a different message than the one he was bringing (bottom).
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