Friday, August 30, 2013

Bruce Bartlett: MLK's greatest gift to America

Bruce Bartlett's latest column makes an excellent point that I agree with, which is that Martin Luther King Jr.'s greatest accomplishment was not in choosing to lead the civil rights struggle with a strategy of non-violence but in somehow being able to pull it off. From Mr. Bartlett:

"The really big problem with a nonviolence strategy is that is needs to be comprehensive to work; a few hotheads who take matters into their own hands can set back the entire movement, undo all its progress in a matter of moments. Convincing everyone in the civil rights movement to follow his nonviolence strategy was Dr. King’s greatest accomplishment, one that was truly extraordinary and still underappreciated."

 The key is that a non-violent strategy is, in the end, the quickest and most effective way to address a moral issue. More from the article:

"... although nonviolence seemed like a long-term strategy, in fact it worked remarkably fast. The Montgomery bus boycott started on December 1, 1955, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law less than 10 years later on July 2, 1964. That’s lightning speed by the standards of such things, historically speaking."

All this was done to realize the next major step in addressing the slavery issue - a terminal condition that our nation was born with and from which violence and brutality naturally flowed - and its natural by-product, segregation. The non-violent nature of the civil rights movement not only brought necessary change to our nation but saved countless lives and much suffering in the process.  Thank you, Dr. King.

Read Bruce Bartlett's article at:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MLK Speech Led to FBI Surveillance...

Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio has an interesting read today about how after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, the then attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy approved the FBI to wiretap King's phone for the purpose of investigating his "alleged" links to the Communist Party.

An excerpt:

At a time when the nation is absorbing revelations of telephone and e-mail surveillance by the National Security Agency, the FBI’s spying on King -- which had no court authorization or oversight -- stands as an example of domestic security gone to excess.
“The FBI’s program to destroy Dr. King as the leader of the civil rights movement entailed efforts to discredit him with churches, universities and the press,” said the report.
It collected information about King’s plans and activities “through an extensive surveillance program, employing nearly every intelligence gathering technique at the Bureau’s disposal,” saidthe report.

‘One Citizen’

“The committee devoted substantial attention to the FBI’s covert action campaign against” King “because it demonstrates just how far the government could go in a secret war against one citizen,” according to the report.
William Sullivan, head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division during the King surveillance program, told the committee in 1975 that, “No holds were barred. We have used [similar] techniques against Soviet agents. [The same methods were] brought home against any organization against which we were targeted. We did not differentiate. This is a rough, tough business.”
Sullivan reflected the view of top FBI leaders including Director J. Edgar Hoover, in an Aug. 30, 1963, post-speech memo entitled “Communist Party, USA, Negro Question.”
Read the whole article here

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ezra Klein is Very Good...

Ezra Klein is is one of my favorite writers/bloggers going today. Author of the Wonkblog in the Washington Post, Klein seems to have a clarity about so much of his writing that makes me jealous. Too often, his wording of well, wonky stuff, is clear and easy to understand.

Earlier this week, he discussed newt Gingrich's critical comments toward the GOP's current stance on Obamacare. Its one of the best things I've read in a while. It will be a review for many readers, but not for all.

Here it is, in full: 

The opening session of the Republican National Committee’s Boston confab featured ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich scolding his fellow Republicans on their failure to come through on the “replace” side of “repeal-and-replace.”
“If we're going to take on the fight with Obamacare, we have to be able to explain to people what we would do to make your life better," he said.
That’s a task Republicans have clearly failed at. One of the more interesting polling wrinkles of the past few years is that the persistent unpopularity of the Democrats’ signature health-care initiative hasn’t helped the GOP take the lead on the broader issue. A recent poll by the Morning Consult found a 10 percent edge for Democrats on health care. Even the conservative polling group Rasmussencontinues to find a Democratic edge.
The public doesn’t like what the Democrats did. But they really don’t like what they think the Republicans will do.
Of course, as Gingrich correctly points out, the Republicans have no idea what is it is they’ll do — save for undoing what it is the Democrats did. But for all Gingrich’s bluster on the subject, the simplest way to understand that policy vacuum is to understand Gingrich’s pre-Obamacare health-care plan: It was Obamacare.
“We should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond),” he wrote in his 2008 book, ‘Real Change.’ “Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."
So that’s an individual mandate plus tax subsidies to purchase insurance. That’s the core of Obamacare. And it’s no surprise Gingrich supported it. Lots of Republicans did. Gov. Mitt Romney had even signed a plan like that into law in Massachusetts.
Conservative elites had two options when Democrats began to adopt their policy ideas: Declare victory or declare war. Key figures like Gingrich could’ve stepped before the cameras and chortled about Democrats giving up on single payer and slinking towards conservative solutions. For Hillary Clinton to run in 2008 with Bob Dole’s health-care plan was an amazing moment in American politics. For Barack Obama to reverse himself on the individual mandate and embrace the Heritage Foundation’s approach to personal responsibility was further proof that Democrats had lost the war of ideas here. Republicans could have declared victory and, by engaging constructively, pushed the final product further towards their ideal.
They chose war instead. And that meant eradicating any trace of support for the policies they had come up with.
That effort was extraordinarily successful. Republicans quickly convinced themselves they had always been at war with Oceania — excuse me, the individual mandate. But plausible health-care plans are hard to come by. Even the plans that weren’t exactly like Obamacare were too similar to Obamacare for comfort. And so, five years later, even leading Republicans haven’t really come by another one. There’s a gaping hole where the party’s health-care plan is supposed to go. Of course the public doesn’t trust Republicans on the issue. Republicans don’t even know what they’d do.
"We are caught up right now in a culture — and you see it every single day — where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don't have to learn anything,” Gingrich said at the RNC.
But that stops short of the reality: On health care, Republicans have erected a culture in which they have to unlearn things, too. And Gingrich has been part of that effort.

5 Secrets of the March on Washington/MLK Speech, 50 Years Ago this week...

About 50 years ago, one of the most important speeches in United States history was delivered by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Mall in Washington D.C. The "I have A Dream" speech has been taught and studied by school children for decades now in the studies on Civil Rights in America.

The National Journal's Matthew Cooper has a great piece in today's edition that looks at that day events and highlights some rarely mentioned aspects of August 28th, 1963.

A few questions:

Who was Bayard Rustin, and why was he both controversial and critical to the speech?

What happened that day that hadn't happened since the end of 1933?

Was President Kennedy supportive of King's scheduled speech that day?

What major US newspaper gave MLK front page billing in its coverage? Which major paper didn't?

What were the two drivers of the speech and the march that weekend?

Well written, very worth a few moments to read it.

Do so right here....


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Still Unsure on Why Health Care is So Expensive in the US, Watch This...

New York bestselling author John Green has put out a short but well done video on why we pay so much more than other countries do for health care. Nothing really new here, but the material is put together in a very easy to swallow and entertaining fashion. (H/T to A. Carroll, TIE for this treat...)

Learn more about John Green here...


Monday, August 19, 2013

What About College Kids & the Affordable Care Act? Some Answers...

NPR has a short but informative audio piece on the issue of College students and the Affordable Care Act. Are they required to obtain insurance? What sort of penalty will they face if they don't? How will it be collected?

Listen to the Q&A right here:


Paul Krugman on the Crow that Conservatives Will Likely Have to Eat...

New York Times economist and columnist Paul Krugman weighs in with a direct, no nonsense column aimed directly at those Conservatives who have painted the Affordable Care Act as a failed, catastrophe of a Law.

Krugman writes:

Is there an illegitimate way? Well, the G.O.P. can try blackmail, either by threatening to shut down the government or, an even more extreme tactic, threatening not to raise the debt limit, which would force the United States government into default and risk financial chaos. And Republicans did somewhat successfully blackmail President Obama back in 2011.
However, that was then. They faced a president on the ropes after a stinging defeat in the midterm election, not a president triumphantly re-elected. Furthermore, even in 2011 Mr. Obama wouldn’t give ground on the essentials of health care reform, the signature achievement of his presidency. There’s no way he would undermine the reform at this late date.
Read the entire column here, its well worth it...

CIA Admits Involvement in 1953 Overthrow in Iran...

Know who this guy is? I didn't either until I began to read through the various reports that the United States and England teamed up in 1953 to overthrow a democratically elected leader in Iran and replaced him with a figure more sympathetic to our interests.

The man's name was Mohammed Mosaddegh, the Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 - 1953. Mosaddegh would be considered a progressive by American standards as he instituted Social Security, rent control and land reform programs. His biggest claim to fame was his nationalization of the country's oil reserves. Prior to this action, Iran's oil was under the control of British Petroleum, with a dis-proportionate amount of profits being returned to the Iranian people.

Nationalizing the Iranian oil fields was a controversial- move, which was met with great resistance by the British. There was also elements in the Iranian government which disagreed with Mosaddegh's intentions. A very dynamic time for Iran, without question. It seems that the United States was, at first, not inclined to help England in its attempts to reverse the course Mosaddegh had charted, but after President Eisenhower entered office, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England convinced the new American President that Iran was almost certainly headed toward Comunism, America agreed to work with the Brits. Ironically, Mosaddegh was on record as not favoring any Socialist styles of Government.

Reporter, Journalist and Author Stephan Kinzer, a veteran of decades of foreign reporting, provides the following insight:

Its anybody's guess what would've happened if the United States had not decided to get involved in the overthrow of the Prime Minister. Would relations have turned as badly as they have? Would some other set of circumstances arisen to create hardships diplomatically between the US and Iran? It does seem that many of the hard feelings that Iran holds towards us go back quite a long time. Keep this history in mind the next you hear about how the United States should get involved in another country's government and politics. Can we imagine how we would react if another Country had gotten involed in our government the way we did with England? We would be outraged and not forget it for a long time, wouldn't we?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

GOP electoral path to White House difficult to see...

Myra Adams, conservative columnist for the Daily Beast, opines on the likelihood of a Republican candidate securing the required 270 electoral votes to win the White House in 2016. Adams details three reasons why its almost impossible for anyone but a Democrat to be the next President.

"After totaling the electoral votes in all the terminally blue states, an inconvenient math emerges, providing even a below average Democrat presidential candidate a potential starting advantage of 246. Here are the states and their votes:

CA (55), NY (29), PA (20), IL (20), MI (16), NJ (14), WA (12), MA (11), MN (10), WI (10), MD (10), CT (7), OR (7), HI (4), ME (4), NH (4), RT (4), VT (3), DE (3), DC (3).
Let me repeat, if only for the shock value: 246 votes out of 270 is 91 percent. That means the Democrat candidate needs to win only 24 more votes out of the remaining 292. (There are a total of 538 electoral votes.)"

Read the column here...


Monday, August 5, 2013

Its Easy and Immoral for the Anti-ACA Crowd to Urge the Uninsured to Refuse Obamacare...

Christopher Flavell, a member of Bloomburg's Editorial Board has a great post up today at that discusses the popular conservative tactic of encouraging young, uninsured people to skip the sign up periods for health insurance via their State exchanges, scheduled to open in October.

This campaign would be amusing, if it didn't stand a significant chance of actually persuading people to sacrifice their own health and finances for somebody else's political cause. An April poll found that 42 percent of Americans didn't know that Obamacare was still law, and even doctors don't understand how the exchanges will work. Those seeking to mislead Americans about what Obamacare means for them are looking at a promising landscape.

Read the whole thing, click here...

Also, if you missed Sarah Kliff's great article about college conservatives being urged to burn mock Obamacare registration cards, you can read that right here...

Both are solid reads...