Archive for August, 2009

Authors of ‘black agenda’ memo step forward

Two professors at Clark Atlanta University have come forward to claim authorship of the controversial “black agenda” memo, reports my colleague Jim Galloway at Political Insider.

In claiming authorship, William Boone and Keith Jennings also try to rebut the harsh criticism generated by the memo, arguing that “the recent suggestion that it is somehow racist to highlight an agenda that promotes the interests of African American voters is patently false. It is a red herring that polarizes debate about electing the most qualified candidate for Atlanta’s next mayor.”

“The interests of African American voters are just as legitimate as other Atlanta voters, and the notion that we must apologize for highlighting those interests is absurd,” the two professors now write.

And you know what? They’re absolutely right. They do not need to apologize for highlighting the legitimate interests of black Atlanta voters. As they point out, “The need for African American voter and taxpayer …

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What’s really at stake in the health-care fight

Nicholas Lemann, writing at The New Yorker, has a nice piece on the larger stakes involved in the health care fight. Even conservatives may find themselves agreeing with a lot of the analysis if not the sentiment. But I was struck by this paragraph near the end, in which Lemann summarized the potential impact in realistic terms:

“If a health-care bill passes this fall, it will be full of compromises: departures from liberal ideals, and fudges about how much it will cost. But anybody who stops fighting for it now is going to spend years repenting. As long as Congress passes, and Obama signs, a law that embodies the principle of universal, government-guaranteed coverage, the country will have achieved an enormous, and previously elusive, advance.”

That’s really what this is all about, for all sides in the debate. The details of the bill matter less than the national commitment it would represent.

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Dole chides Obama on health care, and for good reason

In a Washington Post op-ed, Bob Dole offers advice to President Obama on how to proceed from here with health-care reform. He recommends putting together a plan that will pass with bipartisan support, which is nonsense. The Republicans have made it very clear by now that they don’t intend to help Obama pass a reform plan, and the White House has surely gotten that message.

On his main point, however, Dole is right on.

“If I were a White House adviser, I would suggest that the day Congress reconvenes, President Obama’s version of reform should be introduced by Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Health-care reform is the vital issue of our time, and Obama should be out front with his specific plan on this make-or-break issue.

Many of us were taught that the president proposes and Congress disposes. Today, Congress is doing both — with the president relegated to the role of cheerleader in chief as he campaigns for various House committees’ efforts. Certainly, Obama …

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Cheney still pitching the lunacy that cost him Bush’s ear

A large segment of the Republican Party is rallying behind former Vice President Dick Cheney as its champion on matters of defense and national security. They look to him and increasingly to his daughter Liz as their spokesmen in defense of torture, in support of military solutions to problems such as Iran and North Korea, and overall as advocates of a much more aggressive, unilateral approach than that taken by President Obama.

Yet the Cheney fans seem to forget that by the second Bush term, even President Bush had largely stopped listening to the crazy man whispering in his ear. The Bush White House ordered a halt to “enhanced interrogation techniques” that Cheney defends as necessary even today. Over Cheney’s protests, Bush forced Donald Rumsfeld to resign as secretary of defense, replacing him with the more level-headed Robert Gates, who remains SecDef under Obama. Under Gates and newly appointed Secretary of State Condi Rice, the Bush administration in its second term …

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The aftermath of the Kennedy funeral

Don’t know about you, but I did end up watching some of the Kennedy funeral coverage yesterday. A little maudlin at times, but that’s how funerals are. All in all, it was well-done.

It’ll be interesting to see, when the ratings numbers come out, how Fox did compared with CNN and the networks. Not sure the Fox followers were all that enthralled by the day’s events. As someone on CNN noted, the three brothers are reunited now at Arlington.

And then there’s the political impact, if any. I doubt any GOP votes were swung on health care, but it’s conceivable the day’s emotions galvanized Dems to do it on their own.

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Huckabee: ObamaCare would have abandoned Kennedy

You know, I’m just going to post this from Politico without comment. Because hey, I wouldn’t want to be accused of “politicizing” the death of Ted Kennedy.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed Friday that under the health-care plan proposed by President Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Huckabee made the remark during his radio show Friday while accusing Democrats of trying to use Kennedy’s death to marshal support for the president’s reform package.

“Senator Ted Kennedy’s death had barely hit the news before we started hearing calls that Congress must hurry and pass a health care reform bill and do it in his memory,” he said. “That not only defies good taste, it defies logic.”

“We certainly can and should respect his years of advocacy and work for the things that he truly believed in,” he added. “But easily the worst reason to do it is in the name of someone who gave us …

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A little Latino flair to the travelin’ music this evening

As you might have gathered by now, I’m partial to many types of music. One of my favorite bands is Los Lobos, an L.A.-based group that features a unique Mexican blues/rock fusion. I’ve never had the chance to see them in person, but that’s going to change this evening at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. (One of the Southeast’s best blues bands, Atlanta-based Delta Moon, opens for them.)

I hope Los Lobos play this one tonight, it’s one of their best.

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The use and abuse of racial identity in politics, Atlanta-style

Aaron Turpeau, an Atlanta political activist and strategist, has dropped a little bomb into the middle of the city’s mayoral race in the form of a memo to unknown black leaders in Atlanta. The document, intended to be private, calls on black Atlanta to unite behind a single black candidate to keep the mayor’s office in black hands, allowing the city to pursue what Turpeau calls a “black agenda.”

(Full text available here)

The memo, which came to light Thursday, makes at least two egregious, offensive and dangerous assumptions:

First, it treats the mayor’s office as a black possession, a trophy of sorts that could be surrendered to white Atlantans for the first time in 35 years. That is a cartoonish, archaic approach to politics that, among other things, ignores the humanity of individual mayoral candidates, with all their strengths and weaknesses, and tries to reduce them to mere representatives of their respective races.

That mindset has had its day, and that day is, or ought …

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The tragic day the marketers ran short on celebrity

(I’m working on a piece about the infamous “black agenda” memo that came to light yesterday, but in the meantime….)

Once upon a time, fame was a rare commodity, like gold or diamonds or a 1964 1/2 dark-red Mustang convertible in factory condition. Many people sought fame, of course, but since it was scarce, few people could get their hands on it. Fame was generally acquired only by the lucky, the talented or the hard working, with the emphasis on the lucky. And often it came only to those blessed with all three.

And that was OK. The situation seemed more or less in balance.

Then, sometime in the past decade or so, the economics of fame changed. The explosion of media outlets on cable and the Internet meant that there was a lot more air time to fill, more cable channels to program, more niche markets to satisfy, more eyeballs to glaze over and more tabloids to sell.

Suddenly, Madison Avenue and Hollywood faced a desperate, almost crippling shortage of famous people. They …

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These days, you take sanity where you can find it

So I’m driving on an errand and listening to the Braves pre-game show, and an ad comes on featuring … crazy Glenn Beck.

He starts talking about how scary the world is these days, then launches into a sermon about the importance of having health insurance from Coventry Health Insurance and warning that nobody should ever risk going without health coverage and you better call them now or else. Glenn Beck of all people.

And I’m thinking, OK, the world is now officially doomed.

I do my errand, get back in the car and drive home, just in time to hear some woman butchering the national anthem on the radio. I hate that. And then Chip Carey comes on afterward and says, “That was S—- M—–, screaming the national anthem.”

I laughed out loud, and sanity was returned to my world. I do miss the late Skip Carey. I miss his sardonic sense of humor. But Chip may be a chip off the old block. Thanks, Chip.

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