HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » bigtree » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 ... 32 Next »


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 70,170

Journal Archives

'Establishment' Politics

...it's ridiculous to argue over which candidate represents the establishment. To me, a working class American, both candidates represent the establishment. They both have access to the levers of power and influence in the government and both are accountable for their actions, to some degree, while working within that political system.

I don't have any illusions that I'll be any closer than I am today to influencing the political establishment with a Pres. Sanders in charge. If Bernie Sanders becomes president, he doesn't automatically assume the role he's promoting as candidate as an opponent of the establishment. In that instance, he'll actually be the establishment that Americans will leverage their own aspirations and interests against.

Indeed, a Pres. Sanders would also be challenged to enlist the aid and support of the political establishment in carrying out his promises. That point is made more profound considering the political pressure his 'revolution' has attempted to exert in his campaign on institutions already determined to advance progressive ideals; like Planned Parenthood or the Human Rights Campaign.

Legislators, politicos, and other Democratic allies will be needed to help advance any progressive agenda into action or law. It makes no sense to engage in politics which seeks to divide these forces among themselves; among ourselves. All of the members of our Democratic coalition are challenged to reconcile their differences and unite, at some point, to advance our ideals through our political system. No one ideology is likely to prevail unchecked in our national legislature.

One thought occurred to me as I watched the candidates debate over who was a better progressive, if at all, was how relatively sparse the pool of candidates to fill positions in a Democratic administration can be when it comes to fleshing out a new government. The Obama administration rightly pulled from veterans and refugees from the Clinton administration when filling their offices; the Clinton administration relied on Carter folks. There really isn't going to be some mass exodus of 'establishment' operators and managers in the next administration, no matter which of our Democrats assume power.

That's what makes the present framing about a 'fight' against the political establishment in Washington seem so misdirected. When talking about republican opposition, it's clear and evident where their obstruction to our progressive agenda lies. When arguing against members of our own Democratic coalition, however, there isn't going to be an absolute line to draw between the politicos involved; not if there's going to be any hope of uniting behind one solution or the other.

That's made all the more evident in this primary election with all but two of the members of the Progressive Caucus Bernie Sanders founded when he was in Congress supporting his rival in this campaign; the rival most of his supporters consider less progressive than him - consider institutionally compromised against a progressive agenda by her associations, positions, and record.

I actually missed the most contentious part of the first debate (read up on it later), but the exchanges I tuned in to were an excellent demonstration of the progressiveness of our Democratic candidacies, of our Democratic agenda. Both representations represent progress toward progressive goals, and both candidates have the potential of making great changes in office.

What was striking in the debate was how much these two Democrats actually agreed on their political aspirations, if not on actual policy to bring about those changes. The further they got away from the petty and contradictory arguing about ideology, the more their individual attributes came to fore.

I was especially impressed by Sen. Sanders' defense of free trade, for example. It was a shining moment for all Americans to have their interests represented so forcefully and eloquently. That's the type of appeal which actually speaks to the aspirations of voters; so much more than these attempts to define each other outside of some political ideal.

It remains to be seen if Bernie's tepid benchmark for a 'revolution' meets even those goals

IN his after-caucus speech to supporters, Bernie Sanders pointed to his hair's breadth loss to Hillary Clinton as evidence of a political revolution in the making, but for what his candidacy promises for the voters it represents, it's still a far sight from a successful political revolt to finish neck to neck with your own party's rival in a caucus, to something that can credibly be defined as 'revolutionary'.

Sen. Sanders:

Let me conclude by saying what no other candidate for president will tell you. And that is that no president—not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else—will be able to bring about the changes that the working families and the middle class of this country, that our children, that the seniors, our seniors, deserve. No one president can do it, because the powers that be—Wall Street, with their endless supply of money; corporate America; the large campaign donors—are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone.

...what Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution, a political revolution that says when millions of people come together, including those who have given up on the political process—they’re so dismayed and so frustrated with what goes on in Washington—with young people who before had never been involved in the political process, when young people and working people and seniors begin to stand up and say loudly and clearly, "Enough is enough," that our government, the government of our great country, belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires—when that happens, we will transform this country.

Today, on Morning Joe, Sen. Sanders pointed again to voter participation, and engagement in the political process beyond the election, as the primary element he expects would propel his progressive agenda into action. It's a credible pitch, if not a new one. If record voter participation by disaffected Americans fed up with politics as usual represents a political revolution, the primary contest in 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would appear to be the hallmark of a revolutionary campaign. record numbers voted in that Democratic primary:

Wiki: Voter turnout on Super Tuesday was at 27% of eligible citizens, breaking the previous record of 25.9% set in 1972. Turnout was higher among Democrats than Republicans, with Democratic turnout surpassing Republican turnout even in traditionally red states where the number of registered Democrats is proportionally low. Many states reported high levels of Democratic voter registration in the weeks before primaries.From January 3 through February 5, Democratic turnout exceeded Republican turnout, 19.1 million to 13.1 million.

Fortunately, for the Sanders campaign, there's a dynamic to be tested between Hillary's reassuring pitch as the competent manager of an institutionally-corrupted and prevaricating institution, and Bernie's call to knock down the doors of influence and do away with politics as usual.

As 'The Fix' put it in a Jan. 25 editorial...

... it's impossible not to think that the disadvantage of being as thoroughly D.C. as is Hillary Clinton extends far beyond her campaign being "more prose than poetry." It feels, at times, like a very educated, thoughtful sales pitch for dial-up Internet service: A good sales pitch, but precisely not what people are looking for. Obama's campaign was that of a new voice who promised to reshape a disliked Washington. Clinton's is that of an established voice who knows the ins and outs of a despised one.

That's the most appealing promise of a Sanders bid, the prospect of literally storming the gates of the White House with a true progressive believer. Outside of the dubious achievement of trouncing a fellow member of the Democratic establishment (an establishment which he's voted with over 98% of the time), an unapologetic, progressive Sanders presidency would be an untested commodity.

Yet, there needs to be something more to a political revolution than just 'voter participation.' Indeed, President Obama took full advantage of social media during his presidency, and his political team has worked throughout to advantage their political agenda of the unprecedented network of supporters they'd generated, beginning with the record support he received in his campaign.

If there is to be a serious effort at changing the debate and voting pattern of Congress, there needs to be a 'revolutionary' focus on congressional and Senate elections with a focus and drive to elect progressive candidates who are as unabashedly progressive as his own agenda.

One needs to look no further for evidence of the complexities in running against the D.C. political establishment as a whole, rather than a traditional focus on the republican opposition, than to the Congressional Progressive Caucus (founded by then-congressman Bernie Sanders) where all but two members have endorsed his rival.

I read a comment here right after the Iowa caucus suggesting that anyone supporting Hillary wasn't a progressive. Unfair, or not, that's the message I get from most Sanders supporters here. I think it's a losing proposition to seek to divide our party among ourselves. The Democratic party has always been a coalition of disparate interests from myriad regions of the nation. We bring our diverse interests and concerns to the political table and are challenged to reconcile those to transform our ideals into action or law. Our elections are always going to reflect that diversity of interest and opinion.

Both of our Democratic candidates have the potential to enact progressive change which would transform the nation; they just have different notions of how to get to those. Make no mistake, though, we can't afford to lay either of these Democrats to waste, given the clear and urgent need to maintain the gains we've made over the decades(and recent past) and to protect the institutions under direct assault from anti-government foes in the republican party.

In a '92 convention speech entitled, 'Change: From What, To What?', Barbara Jordan spoke of our need, as Democrats, to convince Americans that we can govern. She also spoke of the need for our efforts to be led and advocated by the people, as Sen. Sanders is counseling. A little for both campaigns...

"We must leave this convention with a determination to convince the American people to trust us, the Democrats, to govern again; it is not an easy task, but it is a doable one.

Public apprehension and fears about the future have provided fertile ground for a chorus of cynics. Their refrain is that it makes no difference who is elected President. Advocates of that point of view perpetuate a fraud. It does make a difference who is President. A Democratic President would appoint a Supreme Court justice who would protect liberty not burden it. A Democratic President would promote those policies and programs which help us help ourselves: such as . . . health care and job training.

Character has become an agenda item this political season. A well-reasoned examination of the question of character reveals more emotionalism than fact. James Madison warned us of the perils of acting out of passion rather than reason. When reason prevails, we prevail. As William Allen White, the late editor of the Emporia, Kansas Gazette, said, “Reason never has failed man. Only fear and oppression have made the wrecks in the world.”

It is reason and not passion which should guide our decisions. The question persists: Who can best lead this country at this moment in our history?

I close by quoting from Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural address to a people longing for change from the despair of the great depression. That was 1933, he said: “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. Given the ingredients of today’s national environment maybe . . . just maybe, we Americans are poised for a second ‘Rendezvous with Destiny.'

Requiem for Martin O'Malley's Campaign

WELL, that's about it for Martin O'Malley's campaign, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sore. All the more poignant and bittersweet an end after an enlightening and inspiring campaign which surprised even this decades-long resident of his home state of Maryland. Presidential campaigns always seem to bring out the best in these candidates and it's fair to say that Gov. O'Malley was as inspired and transformed by the people he met along the trail as he hoped they were by his candidacy.

The swift fall of the O'Malley campaign is also softened by the prospect of the remaining contest between his two very formidable rivals in this primary who have also inspired us with their strong and competitive bids for the presidency.

Martin O'Malley's own run for the White House will mostly be remembered for the integrity he showed in raising Latino issues consistently throughout his campaign. Also, his commitment to gun safety and climate change in this campaign was second to none, in the detail of his proposals and the frequency of his advocacy on the trail, which matched the commitment he'd shown to these issues in the fights and progressive successes he experienced in Maryland.

I want to say that it's been my privilege to discuss, debate, and share info with DUers about O'Malley. The vast majority of posters have made it a pleasure to share this campaign here and have been exceedingly kind and accommodating of this promising bid which never seemed to catch the political wind in its lofty and capable sails.

O'Malley had a thing in this campaign, as most folks already know well, of picking up a guitar at the end of most of his rallies. Less well-known is the fact that it was almost always a fan or supporters guitar brought along with the hope of coaxing a tune out of the more than willing campaign crooner.

The pics we see of O'Malley's March, Martin's real-life band he's performed with in and out of office, portray him as a rock star, all fast and oiled. Yet, the reality is that O'Malley's a folkie out of the best and most gentle of traditions of the craft. In true and classic Woody Guthrie form, he sang about life, love, and opportunity and inspired us to sing along.

One of my best memories was an early event in Iowa where O'Malley performed his standby version of Passenger's 'Scare Away the Dark.' It was a perfect metaphor for his underdog candidacy, and an apt ballad for the lives of the people he met along the way. A verse...

"Sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark"

At the end, the audience is invited to hum along in unison with the tune as he fades out. Priceless.

Here's the clip, and many thanks again for putting up with me in this forum.

Reasons to Fight for Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley and his Mom - David Colwell

AS a lifelong Democrat from a Democratic family, Martin O'Malley has repeatedly stepped up to challenging elections and has consistently won the support of Democrats through progressive stances and progressive policy achievements. His efforts in office have resulted in significant and concrete progressive changes and improvements in the lives of millions of citizens of my state. My pleasure and pride in seeing him step up to the challenge of running against a Democrat with not only national name recognition, but a built-in support base from a previous run for the presidency, is compounded by the decidedly progressive positions his campaign has put in front of his candidacy.

Matching an impressive record of progressive achievement and actions throughout his years of public office in Maryland, Martin O'Malley's campaign is determined to steer our party's presidential politics in an aggressively progressive direction - that effort matched, of course, by Bernie Sander's own progressive campaign - both of which have resulted in a national discussion of progressive ideals and initiatives which have already influenced the debate in our national legislature, as well as positively influenced the worthwhile campaign of our party's current front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in the polls.

I think O'Malley's bid is a heroic effort, given the political odds he's facing - typical of his political career in which he's repeatedly run against adversity and other daunting challenges to advance the causes he believes in.

O'Malley has succeeded in almost every political contest he's participated in; beginning with his service as an assistant State's Attorney for the City of Baltimore in 1988 to 1990; serving on the a Baltimore City Councilor from 1991 to 1999 with the responsibility as Chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee and Chairman of the Taxation and Finance Committee.

O'Malley was elected to two terms as Mayor of Baltimore, and subsequently elected to two terms as Governor of his state of Maryland. O'Malley was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association for 2009–2010, and on December 1, 2010, he was elected Chairman for 2010–2011.

As we observe the presidential race today, we're led by press reports of polls, crowds, and money which has served to elevate two of our candidates over the rest of our Democratic field; placing Martin O'Malley well behind in the speculation race. We're no more served by a 'coronation' of the two front runners right now than our political debate was served by the 'inevitability' label applied earlier to the leader of our Democratic pack.

Take the opportunity in our promary to get to know this candidate and measure his record of actual accomplishment in office - advancing progressive initiatives through divided legislatures, and enacting them by executive order where he saw fit - weighing all of those actions against the rhetoric from the others in this race.

As for Martin O'Malley's progressive efforts in office, I offer a litany here which only touches the surface of his advocacy and action:

Strengthened Maryland’s Economy
Under Governor O’Malley Maryland ranked #1 for innovation and entrepreneurship for three years in a row, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Maryland also ranked as one of the top three states for economic mobility based on workers’ ability to move up the earnings ladder, according to the Pew Center on the States. And Maryland achieved a faster rate of job creation than its neighbors Virginia or Pennsylvania, who tried to cut their way to prosperity.

Raised Maryland’s Minimum Wage to $10.10
Governor O’Malley brought people together, forged consensus, and raised Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10. Hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers will receive a raise, creating stronger customers for local businesses and good-paying, family-supporting jobs.

Protected Working Families
Governor O’Malley twice led the effort to expand Maryland’s refundable earned income credit, which puts more money in the pockets of working families. He also made Maryland the first state in America to pass a “living wage” for contractors working on state contracts.

Expanded Opportunities for All Marylanders
Governor O’Malley expanded opportunities for all Marylanders. The state ranks #2 in the nation for african-american median household income, and #2 for percentage of businesses owned by African-Americans. For the first time in state history, Maryland reached its MBE/WBE goals under Governor O’Malley – a goal which he raised the next year.

Made the Tax Code More Progressive
In the midst of the worst economic downturn in history, Governor O’Malley reformed Maryland’s income tax. Today, 86% of Marylanders pay less in state income taxes than they did before Governor O’Malley took office. (raised taxes on the rich)

Secured Marriage Equality
Governor O’Malley led the successful effort to pass marriage equality in the Maryland General Assembly. Then when the issue went to a statewide referendum, he led the campaign, helping Maryland become the first state in the nation ever to defend marriage equality at the ballot box.

Protecting the Rights of Individuals–Regardless of Gender Identity
Citing the need to create “an open, respectful, inclusive world we want for all of our children,” Governor O’Malley signed into law a bill banning discrimination against transgender Marylanders. Maryland was just the 17th state to add gender identity and expression to its anti-discrimination laws.

Fought for New Americans
Governor O’Malley welcomed New Americans to Maryland. He passed the DREAM Act. He signed legislation granting undocumented workers drivers licenses to make Maryland roads safer, and stood up for the rights of unaccompanied children at the border – Maryland housed more unaccompanied minors per capita than any other state. He ordered the state to stop automatically honoring federal detention requests, and for the federal government to house children with their families.

“It’s contrary to who we are as a people to hold children in camps… . Setting aside for a fact any concerns you have or any feeling you have towards these refugee kids, think about the sort of country we want to leave to our children. We are not a country that should send children away and send them back to certain death.” — Martin O’Malley at NGA

Expanded Voting Rights
While other states around the nation push stricter voter ID laws designed to limit people’s ability to exercise the right to vote, Governor O’Malley made it easier to vote in Maryland by expanding early voting and same-day voter registration.

Ended the Death Penalty
Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland repealed the death penalty and replaced it with life in prison without the possibility of parole, commuting the sentences of those left on death row.

Led the Nation in Public Education
Under Governor O’Malley, Maryland’s public schools ranked #1 in America five years in a row, according to Education Week. Even in the height of the recession, while many states were cutting education spending, O’Malley invested record amounts in Maryland’s public schools, increasing funding by 37%.

Made College More Affordable
Governor O’Malley made higher education a budget priority and froze tuition for four years in a row. Under his leadership, Maryland did better than every state but one in keeping down college costs, according to the College Board.

Expanded Pre-Kindergarten
Governor O’Malley expanded pre-kindergarten to 1,600 more children in Maryland and laid the groundwork for a further statewide expansion.
Turned Baltimore City Around

Policed the Police
O’Malley’s administration took strong steps to police the police – increasing minority hiring, improving accountability, and fully staffing a civilian review board. Under his leadership, the city reduced police shootings to their lowest level in a decade.

Revitalized Baltimore’s Economy
As crime dropped under O’Malley’s leadership, commercial investment and housing values doubled. O’Malley also improved Baltimore’s schools, taking steps that increased graduation rates by 25% and made impressive gains in student test scores. Under O’Malley, Baltimore’s decades long population slide finally ended.

Restored Fiscal Management
O’Malley brought the city’s budget under control, producing the first surplus in decades, while cutting property taxes to their lowest levels in 30 years. These efforts in “very strong fiscal management” earned Baltimore a bond upgrade from negative to positive.
Kept Marylanders Safe

Achieved a Public Safety Trifecta
Under Governor O’Malley, Maryland drove violent crime down to 30-year lows, incarceration to 20-year lows, and recidivism down by nearly 15%. Under his leadership, Baltimore achieved the steepest reduction in crime of any major city, while bringing homicides below 300 per year for the first time in a decade. He signed legislation banning the box for state employment, expanded state partnerships for re-entry programming, and approved a process for automatically expunging criminal records where arrests did not lead to charges.

O’Malley also expanded services drug treatment, doubling funding and leading the way to a 30% drop in the number of overdose deaths.

Decriminalized Marijuana
Governor O’Malley decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowing police to focus on addressing serious crimes.

Common Sense Gun Protections
Governor O’Malley made broad, common-sense reforms to reduce gun violence, including implementing a handgun qualification license requiring fingerprint background checks, an assault weapons ban, and a magazine capacity limit.
Launching a Jobs Agenda for the Climate Challenge

Saved the Chesapeake Bay
Governor O’Malley brought Marylanders together to reducing runoff and save the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, the State has reduced nitrogen loads by 14%, phosphorus loads by 15%, and sediment pollution by 18% while the State’s population has grown.

Embraced Renewable Energy
Governor O’Malley doubled the state’s renewable portfolio standard, setting a goal to increase in-state renewable generation to 20% by 2022. Since 2007, Maryland has grown its renewable energy generation by 41% and increased total renewable generation capacity by 56.9%. Maryland’s solar industry grew from near zero production to 173 MW by 2013.

Combatted Climate Change
Governor O’Malley established the Maryland Commission on Climate Change through executive order in 2007 and tasked the Commission with developing a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Protected Clean Air
Governor O’Malley signed Maryland’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which set a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2006 levels by 2020. By 2012, Maryland had driven down greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10% compared to 2006, and by 20% compared to where Maryland would have been if no action had been taken (“business as usual” projections).
Keeping Marylanders Healthy

Expanded Health Care Coverage
Under Governor O’Malley, the number of Marylanders added to the state’s health system increased nearly 650,000. Maryland now enrolls more than 100,000 each year to the private health exchange. Maryland’s uninsured rate dropped 40%, the 9th largest drop in the United States, between 2013 and 2014.

Held the Line On Health Care Costs
Maryland is leading the nation in holding the line on health care costs. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland implemented innovative reforms to its all-payer hospital rate setting system that are designed to hold down costs. One health care expert called those reforms, “without any question, the boldest proposal in the United States in the last half century.”

Led State Innovations
Maryland succeeded in implementing a comprehensive, statewide, private-public, secure Health Information Exchange to allow doctors and hospitals to share patient information (with their consent) producing better health outcomes. The O’Malley administration further drove down preventable hospitalizations by 11.5%.

Reduced Infant Mortality
Governor O’Malley publicly set goals for driving down Maryland’s infant mortality rate. Maryland exceeded that goal by nearly double, driving infant mortality rate down 21% between 2007 and 2012.
Fought for Women and Families

Maryland is ranked #1 in the Nation for Women
Under Governor O’Malley, Maryland was ranked the best state for Women in America. According to the Center For American Progress, “on matters of economics, leadership, and health, women, on average, fared the best in Maryland.” Maryland also ranked #1 percentage of women owned businesses, and #1 for lowest wage gap between genders.

Signed The Maryland Lilly Ledbetter Civil Rights Restoration Act
Governor O’Malley signed the state Lilly Ledbetter Civil Rights Restoration Act, to help women hold their employers accountable for pay discrimination.

Diversified The Court
Governor O’Malley appointed the first woman ever to be Chief Judge of Maryland’s highest court, and he named the first African-American female to serve on the court. That court, the Court of Appeals, now has a female majority for the first time in its history.

Defended Women’s Reproductive Rights
Governor O’Malley earned NARAL’s endorsement in 2010, and was honored by Planned Parenthood for his “his outstanding leadership in protecting and advancing reproductive rights in Maryland.” O’Malley signed the Family Planning Works Act giving 35,000 low-income women access to free pregnancy counseling, contraception, and cancer and STI screenings.

Enacted the Maryland Parental Leave Act
Governor O’Malley signed legislation requiring small businesses to offer six weeks of family leave without the possibility of job loss.


NEA named Maryland’s Martin O’Malley ‘America’s Greatest Education Governor’

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received the America’s Greatest Education Governor Award from the National Education Association in 2010. The award is presented each year to a governor who has made major, statewide efforts to improve public education. The Maryland governor was the third person to receive this award. Previous winners were Gov. Richardson of New Mexico and Gov. Easley of North Carolina.

“Governor O’Malley took office in 2007, just months before the nation plunged into a deep recession,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Despite the economic devastation to his state, he kept his eye on the big picture—he understands that the recipe for economic recovery and success means preparing Maryland’s young people for the challenges of the 21st century.

“Governor O’Malley is a strong advocate for public education,” Van Roekel added. “He has made great strides in increasing school funding, expanding school programs, and taking the needs of the whole child into account in education policy decisions. O’Malley listens to parents, educators and community members when making policy decisions that affect Maryland’s public schools. He continues to be a champion of public education and truly believes, as we do, that education will lead to a brighter and better future for all of us.

“Lots of governors like to think of themselves as education governors, but Governor O’Malley has really earned that accolade.”

Under O’Malley, Maryland has made progress in closing the achievement gap. A key strategy has been the governor’s insistence that underprivileged and minority students be taught by teachers as highly qualified as those who teach economically advantaged students. That approach is paying off. In 2009, for example, 7.5 percent of Hispanic students and 9.6 percent of African-American students earned a score of 3 or better on at least one AP exam during high school. That’s up from 5.7 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in 2004.

O’Malley also secured a freeze on tuition to Maryland institutions of higher learning, making higher education more affordable for Marylanders.

Some of O’Malley’s other accomplishments: reinvigorating Maryland’s Career and Technology Education and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs statewide, and launching the comprehensive Maryland STEM Innovation Network to promote the delivery of high quality STEM education at all levels throughout the state.

“Governor O'Malley has consistently placed public education at the top of his agenda,” said Clara Floyd, president of the Maryland State Education Association."In the most difficult of economic times, he championed historic funding of K-12 public schools, which has increased student achievement and led us to become No. 1 in the nation.”

In 2012, he signed a bill legalizing same sex marriage in Maryland, joining seven other states in enacting marriage equality. The law survived a statewide referendum held later that year, which marked the first time marriage rights in the U.S. were extended to same-sex couples by a popular vote.

Gov. O'Malley signed into law the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, extending housing, public accommodations, and employment protections to transgender citizens and visitors of the state.

"We are closer today to creating an open, respectful, inclusive world that we want for all of our children," O'Malley said prior to signing that bill. "This bill gives us another step closer to that vision and to that reality."
read: http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2014/05/15/md-gov-signs-trans-nondiscrimination-bill-law

As Mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley helped the City become the first jurisdiction in Maryland to prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals in 2002. In one of his first acts as Governor, he signed an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against transgender state employees in 2007.

At a National Conference on LGBT Equality in 2012, Martin remarked:

“The dignity of a free and diverse people who at the end of the day, all want the same thing for their children: to live in a loving and caring home that is protected equally under the law.”

The governor added that “discrimination based on gender identity is wrong...Passing a law to protect transgender Marylanders from employment, credit and housing discrimination is the right thing to do.”

On the final day of the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley expressed hopes that Maryland would soon become the seventh state with marriage equality. The governor also talked about his support for efforts to secure gender identity nondiscrimination protections in the state.

Mother Jones magazine called him the best candidate on environmental issues.
Article here:


Martin O'Malley signed a 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act far ahead of most other states, & the EPA

Martin O'Malley boasts a strong record on environmental issues in his time as Governor, including doubling the state's renewable energy standard to 20 percent. Far ahead of most other states, and even the EPA, O'Malley signed Maryland's 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which set a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2020. By 2012, Maryland had driven down greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10 percent compared to 2006, and by 20 percent compared to "business as usual" projections.

In 2011, Maryland League of Conservation Voters gave Gov. O'Malley a B+ overall in their Governor's Report Card (and an A for climate change).

from the Environmental Defense Fund:

In addition to the 2008 Climate Action Plan and the new GGRA Plan, Gov. O’Malley’s key accomplishments include:

(2008) Amendment to the Maryland Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard doubled the existing standard to require that 20% of Maryland's energy be created by renewable resources by 2022, including 2% from solar energy;

(2008) EmPOWER Maryland Act set an energy efficiency target and peak demand reduction target of 15% by 2015;

(2008) Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Program was created using revenues from the Northeast RGGI to offset ratepayers’ electricity bills and invest in energy efficiency programs;

(2009) Maryland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act requires Maryland to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2006 levels by 2020; and

(2013) Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 created a fund to build 200 megawatts of wind energy, which Gov. O’Malley intends to use to construct one of the nation’s first offshore wind energy farms off the coast of Ocean City.


O’Malley has received a “100 percent” rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland

O’Malley’s high marks from NARAL are proven by his track record. In 2002, while he was serving as mayor of Baltimore, aides confirmed that O’Malley supports legal abortion and fair access without interference from the government until the point of viability. He also supports late-term abortion when the life of the mother is at risk, or when the fetus has a severe abnormality. And according to NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, O’Malley has not infringed on abortion rights by signing any new abortion restrictions during his tenure as governor.

When it comes to birth control, O’Malley has increased access to contraception and pregnancy counseling, particularly among low-income women. In 2012, O’Malley signed the Family Planning Works Act, which greatly expanded reproductive-health access by providing low-income women with free pregnancy counseling and Medicaid-funded contraception, STI testing and cancer screenings. According to RH Reality Check, the act would provide these subsidized medical services to an additional 33,000 women in the state.

O’Malley has also promoted increased support for new mothers (and fathers) by signing the Maryland Parental Leave Act in 2014. The law expands parental leave for working parents, requiring Maryland small businesses to provide at least six weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of an employee’s child. Prior to the law, small businesses were exempted from providing unpaid family leave.

read: http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections-politics/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-action-fund-welcomes-martin-omalley-presidential-field/

When it comes to birth control, O’Malley increased access to contraception and pregnancy counseling, particularly among low-income women. In 2012, O’Malley signed the Family Planning Works Act, which greatly expanded reproductive-health access by providing low-income women with free pregnancy counseling and Medicaid-funded contraception, STI testing and cancer screenings. According to RH Reality Check, the act would provide these subsidized medical services to an additional 33,000 women in the state.

O’Malley has also promoted increased support for new mothers (and fathers) by signing the Maryland Parental Leave Act in 2014. The law expands parental leave for working parents, requiring Maryland small businesses to provide at least six weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of an employee’s child. Prior to the law, small businesses were exempted from providing unpaid family leave.

read: http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections-politics/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-action-fund-welcomes-martin-omalley-presidential-field/

Maryland, under Martin O'Malley, tied for having the lowest wage gap between our working men and women of any state in the nation...Maryland currently has the third-lowest poverty rate for women in the nation.

Maryland is the No. 1 state in the nation for women-owned businesses -- one-third of Maryland businesses are women-owned. Maryland also ranks third in the nation in percentage of managerial jobs held by women at 42.4 percent.

here's the report, well worth the read-thru: https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/StateOfWomenReport.pdf

GovernorOMalley took heat from the left & right for standing up for #borderkids. But he stood up when it mattered

As governor, O'Malley signed a bill allowing young immigrants illegally in the U.S. to pay in-state college tuition and to a bill to get driver's licenses.

He was the first governor to meet with Latino leaders last year and sign up to push House Republicans to bring immigration reform legislation to a vote, which they never did

He has shown respect that many in the immigrant community say is lacking in debates on immigration by using the term new Americans to refer to immigrants, whether here legally or not. He also established a state council to focus on integrating immigrants.

He opposed White House proposals to return young Central American children and families who crossed the U.S-Mexico border last summer, saying they would face "certain death."

On deportations - an issue that still vexes the current administration - O'Malley stopped Baltimore's City Detention Center from holding immigrants without criminal records for deportation by the federal government.

from July 11, 2014:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley broke publicly with President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, calling for a more humane policy toward the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed into the United States.

“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. O’Malley also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and calling for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

“Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity,” O’Malley said. “It is a belief that unites all of us. And I have watched the pictures of young kids who have traveled for thousands of miles. I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured. But with the hope, the hope, that they would reach the United States and that their children would be protected from what they were facing at home, which was the likelihood of being recruited into gangs and dying a violent death.”

Hillary Clinton told CNN last month that most of those detained should be sent back. “They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” she said. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the parents of the migrants need to know that “it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay.”

O’Malley went so far as to call the children “refugees,” a term with legal weight that would allow most of them to remain in the U.S. He called on Congress and the President to avoid modifying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. That measure requires that children who are not from Canada or Mexico who have crossed the border to be given an opportunity to see an immigration judge to make their case for amnesty. Lawmakers on both sides, as well as the White House, are reviewing ways to amend that law to ease deportations of the tens of thousands of migrant children, who are largely from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

O’Malley said “the whole world is watching” how the U.S. responds to the humanitarian crisis.

“We have to do right not just by these kids but by our kids and protect the children who are here, put them in the least restrictive settings, get them out of these detention centers and these kennels where they are being cooped up, and operate as the good and generous people that we have always been,” he added. “That’s what’s at stake here, as well as the lives of these kids.”

read: http://time.com/2978026/martin-omalley-minors-immigration/


CASA Applauds Gov O’Malley’s Unwaveringly Moral Response to the Humanitarian Crisis on the Border

statement released by CASA (MD. Immigrants Rights Org.) Executive Director, Gustavo Torres:

“I applaud Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for stressing that children fleeing violence and abandonment in Central America should be treated as children that deserve our support. In stark contrast to other public figures that have called for their quick deportation, Governor O’Malley has urged that arriving migrant children receive fair, humane treatment and, above all, a fair legal review of whether they should be allowed to stay. We have heard from our colleagues across the country that they are relieved to hear the Governor become an indispensable voice for the immigrant community. We have let these colleagues know that this is hardly the first time the Governor has served as a hero for immigrant communities. Across his governorship, he has been a true friend of New Marylanders and addressing the abominable treatment of children at the border is only the most recent example of his leadership.

Like the Governor, CASA believes that as an American society we must ensure the protection and humane treatment of the children arriving at the border. We hope that most children are immediately reunited with family members inside the United States. We also believe that Maryland and Virginia need to do our part to provide opportunities to house children in facilities where they can receive adequate counseling, education, and legal services. Governor O’Malley is working with federal officials to find an appropriate Maryland location as quickly as possible. We agree with him that Westminster would have been a mistake. We have now seen two locations in our region – Lawrenceville, VA and Westminster, MD – respond with virulent racism at the thought of children joining their communities. We don’t believe that humane treatment of children includes their relocation to hostile, anti-immigrant communities. Between our two states there are a plethora of communities that would treat the children with the love they deserve. We urge the federal government to confer with local leaders and organizations to provide insight and historical perspective about these sites before moving forward.”

CASA de Maryland and CASA de Virginia are their state’s largest immigrant rights organizations. Our almost 60,000 members work with CASA to create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities.


CASA de Maryland, supported O'Malley's decision to question the Carroll County site (a position distorted and mischaracterized by CNN, Politico, and by WH leaks to selected news orgs.).

"When we heard about the proposed Westminster site, our immediate thought was that the only place in Maryland less hospitable to children fleeing violence in Central America would be inside the Frederick County Sheriff's Department building," said Kimberly Propeack, an attorney with the group.

"We think he is right to question why the administration would propose the most anti-immigrant locations rather than the many other parts of the state where children will be sheltered and loved," she said.

Lis Smith ‏@Lis_Smith (July 2014)
Good look at what @GovernorOMalley (did) to find housing for #borderchildren http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-solicits-foster-parents-for-migrant-youths-as-omalley-meets-with-faith-leaders/2014/07/28/6a489d5a-1672-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html

The state of Maryland stepped up its efforts Monday to recruit foster parents and solicit other assistance from the public to help with the flood of unaccompanied migrant children coming into the country from Central America.

O’Malley administration officials also indicated they had passed along several potential temporary housing sites to the federal government and that Montgomery County was among the possibilities for hosting a facility.

The action came as O’Malley has continued to speak out on the issue, urging the Obama administration to show compassion and resist sending the children back to dangerous situations in their home countries.

“We do not turn our back on innocent children who arrive at our doorstep fleeing death,” he said.

read: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-solicits-foster-parents-for-migrant-youths-as-omalley-meets-with-faith-leaders/2014/07/28/6a489d5a-1672-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 2,000 children have been relocated to Maryland in the first six months of this year.

Martin O'Malley ‏@GovernorOMalley
The greatest power we have is power of our principles. We're not a country that should send children away & send them back to certain death

*listen*: https://soundcloud.com/americarising/martin-omalley-we-are-not-a-country-that-should-turn-children-away

When waging a 'revolution' against the Democratic establishment, what stays in, what should go?

The spectacle of Sen. Sanders and his campaign spokesman opening a rhetorical barrage this week against Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood highlights a reality about political revolutions. They're often indiscriminate in their effect and imprecise in their targeting. Moreover, there's always the potential of counterproductive, destructive effects when that political revolution focuses its efforts on intra-party politics.

We had a good preview of that revolutionary effort this week when Bernie Sanders and his campaign spokesman opened up a barrage of rhetoric against Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign, two Democratic-friendly organizations with progressive agendas.

here's Sen. Sanders on Maddow:

from the Blade:

“It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record,” said Sanders campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs.

“So who knows what prompted the Human Rights Campaign to do what it does — I have trouble myself figuring why they do some of the things they do over the years — but I think the gay men and lesbians all over the country will know who has been their champion for a long, long time and will consider that as they make up their mind on support for his campaign,” Briggs said.

The complaints about these orgs wasn't based on, or prompted by policy differences - even though Sander's comment was couched in rhetoric about Wall Street - but on their endorsement of a political rival in our Democratic primary. Piqued that Hillary Clinton had received the endorsement of these two groups, The Sanders team went beyond defining their own record and worth and sought to discredit the organizations.

It's not as if they weren't prepared to accept any potential endorsement from the organizations, and would likely have done so without a word about including these institutions in their fight against the 'establishment.' Indeed, this campaign is the first time Sen. Sanders has seen fit to raise these concerns.

Despite his attempt to wrap his complaints around Hillary Clinton's 'long time' service in government, there's the glaring reality of Sen. Sanders' own establishment presence in Washington, D.C.; sharing membership, along with Sec. Clinton, as a longtime fixture of one of the most discredited political institutions in the country with dozens of committee assignments and chairs.

Point is, there is a record of service by Hillary and Bernie which is marked by the compromises inherent in our national legislature, and the effects of which haven't always comported with or adhered to progressive values. In my view, that reality doesn't negate their value as allies and champions of our progressive agenda.

Similarly, the two organizations which were the target of the Sanders campaign's ire may not always make progressively favorable policy decisions, but their mission and function remains vital to that progressive agenda. So where do we draw a line between our opposition to the status quo, or establishment, and those persons or institutions which remain as essential allies to our cause?

Maybe we could start by ditching the assault on the 'establishment' and make certain we're not advantaging demagogues in a broad brush campaign against established political institutions. Certainly we can refrain from that destructive effort in our primary election.

All that it takes is understanding that our progressive coalitions, our Democratic coalitions, are a necessary defense against right-wing extremism which is intent on their destruction. We seek political power through our collective efforts in advocacy and voting, much the same as our progressive initiatives and ideals advance in our political system. We bring our firm concerns to the political arena and are challenged to reconcile them with the myriad different interests and expectations from disparate regions of the nation. We are challenged to unite to achieve the necessary level of support to propel our progressive agenda into action or law.

That's not to say that we shouldn't hold firm to our own beliefs and expectations- many of the rights we are fighting for are immutable and not given to compromise - but that we should be mindful that we can't achieve political progress just among those of us who agree.

Bayard Rustin, a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, argued in his book, 'Strategies for Freedom', that for any movement to have a permanent and transforming imprint, it should have a legislative goal attached which will transcend the whims of the emotions of the moment. Describing a different struggle that America faced with the advancement of civil rights, he wrote that:

"Moral fervor can't maintain your movement, nor can the act of participation itself. There must be a genuine commitment to the advancement of the people. To have such a commitment is also to have a militant sense of responsibility, a recognition that actions have consequences which have a very real effect on the individual lives of those one seeks to advance."

"My quarrel with the "no-win" tendency in the civil rights movement (and the reason I have so designated it) parallels my quarrel with the moderates outside the movement," Rustin wrote in his book, 'Down the Line.'

"As the latter lack the vision or will for fundamental change, the former lack a realistic strategy for achieving it." he said. "For such a strategy they substitute militancy. But militancy is a matter of posture and volume and not of effect."

Another important point Rustin made in reference to unity among blacks within the movement rings true for our own diverse, progressive coalitions which have massed to march together in protest, and have advocated within and without the system (together or independently).

"In a pluralistic democracy," he wrote, "unity (among we who agree) is a meaningless goal. It is far more important to form alliances with other forces in society which share common needs and common goals, and which are in general agreement over the means to achieve them."

Achieving legislative solutions which will adequately confront the republican minority and cause them to move away from their obstinacy is no easy or certain task. That effort will, more than likely, take even more activism and advocacy, but, as long as we keep our legislative goals at the head of our demands, and form the necessary coalitions of support to advance those legislative efforts within the system, we can assume the necessary responsibility for the consequences of our actions and transform the direction of our movements from agitation to action.

Talking 'bout a revolution...what to leave in, what to leave out. That's something best done with a scalpel, rather than a cleaver.

O'Malley: This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the Puerto Rican Islands

Martin O'Malley ‏@MartinOMalley 22m22 minutes ago
This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the Puerto Rican Islands.

watch/listen: https://twitter.com/MartinOMalley/status/628292539758436356

Boricuas con OMalley @PRconOMalley Puerto Rico
@MartinOMalley in interview with @Saudy09 for @dandocandela #OMalleyenPuertoRico

Wobegone Is Me

IT'S entirely possible I'll never recover from this. My world just cracked wide open and it's guts are oozing out into the universe, never to be repaired; never to be put back together again.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating (maybe not). I just now gathered up the strength to read the details behind the impending, announced exit from the stage of my wizard of the weekend; my Saturday evening/Sunday morning sage and muse; Garrison Keillor. It looks like he really means to retire this time and I'm just not ready for this. Wobegon is me.

Like everything good under the sun in my life which has faded out of being just as I come to it - things which existed for eons and eons and enjoyed by millions before I happened upon them, and then folded before I got my fair share - Prairie Home Companion will now go the way of the dodo; relegated to an archive or a crackly old recording someplace where sad, aging hipsters like me go to relive the glory days of our relative youth.

I'm 54 now, fast approaching 55. I'm just starting to feel old, mainly when I wake up and catch a glimpse of my gray, balding image in the bathroom mirror and glance downward to the sagging and wrinkled frame that still carries on like it's made of steel. I officially reached the outer limit of middle-age this week after an hour-long discussion over the phone with a childhood friend about his surgery for diverticulitis and the travails of his struggles and bout with his colostomy bag. That's it, it's all downhill from here.

I didn't catch up with Garrison Keillor until the late-eighties, well into his career. I was hiking around the woods, looking for a perfect spot to sit and smoke a bit of weed. I found a place by an opportunistic pond created by a rain-swollen little creek and pulled out my trusty transistor radio (yes, transistor radio), turned it on and scouted the stations toward the far left side of the FM dial which promised some natural musicality to mingle with the ambiance of my woodland refuge. I wasn't disappointed.

I came upon a faint, lilting country ballad of the likes I'd listened to the public radio DJ, Lee Michael Demsey, play for years on WAMU as I rode the world around noon atop Sugarloaf Mountain on the outskirts of my D.C. suburban town. I dutifully lit up a bowl and settled back to watch a frog unimpressed by my presence there hop around on the mucky bank, and stretched my gaze upward to gauge the reaction of the birds listening in the trees to the mandolin, banjo, and guitar compete with their orchestrated cacophony in the canopy above.

The music ended and a there came voice from the radio as familiar as it was unknown to me plying itself against the gentle applause from the live audience. The music, the audience, and then the gentle, but deep, baritone of Keillor was an instant source of joy to me which has never waned or grown stale. I listened to the rest of the show, ensconced there, crouched down in the trusty woods and was treated to my first introduction to Lake Wobegon; a magical, farcical town where the 'women were strong, the men good-looking, and the children were above average.'

An instant convert; a self-appointed resident; I never really left that mythical town of his. Through season after season; through repeats waiting it out with extreme anxiety through the days of his stroke in 2009; through every description of the changing seasons in that little town he narrated faithfully to us every weekend; I've wandered through the literary recesses of my own storied mind as I related every humorous and touching tale of the imaginary residents of Wobegone to the ideal of my life and times.

I can be found outside watching the sun set in the summer, listening in on my new transistor radio; watching the plants emerge in the spring; by the window in the glowing light of fall; or on a snowy winter's morning well before any of the sleepy household relinquishes their slumber; listening to the quiet, engaging sounds of Garrison Keillor's gift of a show and measuring my days until the next weekend's getaway into his familiar, comforting repertoire.

On one memorable show, he spoke at length about the day Buddy Holly and other musical greats went down in the plane crash and his spontaneous road-trip that day, after hearing the news, to the site of the plane crash. Interspersed with his singing a few verses of Holly's, he told of reaching the crash site and scouting through the woods and finding a broken piece of a guitar sticking up in the snow. It was an improbable tale (almost certainly a fantastical one) which ended in Keillor leading his audience in softly singing the refrain from American Pie...

They were singin'

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey 'n' rye
Singin' this will be the day that I die.

That's Keillor - a compelling mix of the improbable and the believable - not to mention his faithfulness to the Democratic liberal ideal expressed with his wry outlook on the political scene and his faithful reinforcement of our progressive values of community and humanity as he gently prods the demagogues with his own tongue-in-cheek commentary; sometimes brutally direct, sometimes tellingly obtuse.

I have another year, I know. In July 2016, he will host his last show. I'll have one more Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer to measure my aging life against his aged radio show. So, good times...and then life carries on in its own interminable way.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter’s chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

(-Robert W. Service, 1874 - 1958)


Martin O'Malley: Sing, Iowa - "Sing at the top of your voice!" (watch/listen)

election2016 @pamefranco__
MartinOMalley: Sing, Iowa. https://martinomalley.com/iowa/ #IACaucus

watch/listen: https://twitter.com/MartinOMalley/status/617061154033000448
(fixed link)

Kristin Sosanie ‏@ksosanie
@MartinOMalley leading a sing along in Iowa. Packed house joining in chorus. #iacaucus

"We want something more, not just hashtags and twitter!"


Pretty good crowd out for Martin O'Malley w/ fireworks going on downtown Iowa

High Summer on the Rebound

High summer on the rebound
High summer got him low down
High summer on the rebound
High summer's got him low down

-Van Morrison, 'High Summer'

High summer's come early this year and my garden yard is blooming much faster than usual for this time of year. We're in a typical pattern of sweltering days and stormy nights and there's nothing in the garden that has wont of sun or rain. I put down 7 entire yards of compost for the very first time this year, spread out from front to back of my expansive yard. There's just a scant patch here and there of actual lawn left, and all of the plants I put in to replace the needy grass are steadily taking over those areas without seed or without fertilizer which ends up in our lakes, and, ultimately, in many of our other waterways.

All of our birds are back, except our hummingbirds haven't made an appearance yet; even though the dark red monarda they can't resist is already in full bloom. Soon, though, the red lobelia will send up some shoots of flowers and they're always reliable to our hummers for a few months of precious, life preserving nectar. Our sparkling green hummingbirds are so familiar and comfortable that I've had them actually drinking from my hose a couple of times as I watered the garden. They are graceful and elegant, both in flight and in rest high in the treetops as I watch them from our upstairs window; even beautiful as they fight furiously with each other for dominance over territory and resource.

Our successful garden yard is an outlier in our trim, suburban neighborhood where the finely clipped lawns and meticulously trimmed bushes make every day here look like a Sunday afternoon. Our plants and bushes grow wherever they can find sun underneath the oppressive canopy of trees, and their branches and stems stretch out languorously to touch, feel, and commune with their neighbors. Mischievous chipmunks dash around my feet as I referee between the foliage; catbirds, robins, and cardinals hop about foraging for food as they explore the dense underbrush. Even an occasional fox slinks in and among the high foliage at night hunting for mice and voles.

One of the most complex conflicts I have between fauna and flora are the almost nightly visits from deer who are discriminating in their foraging; waiting with great expectation, as I do, for choice buds to develop and snipping them off as a snack before I have the joy of experiencing the beauty of the flowers. This year, it's the heads of our black-eyed susans which have attracted their interest and palette. I was preemptive in covering most of them with netting this year, but, somehow, they found the few which didn't get the benefit of cover and made them into a meal.

Oh, the anguish this morning! Waking to find all of the flowers and remaining buds eaten and gone from my wife's speckled-orange Mother's Day asiatic lilies! Oh, the pain finding my prize red daylily buds I've been patiently waiting to bloom eaten and gone! Oh, deer, you're breaking this dedicated gardener's patient heart!

I try and interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

Once you've created your plant filled environment, however, you are bound to their success or demise. There's no questioning the beneficial effect of careful tending and nurturing of a yard full of plants. The wildlife which adopts the environment you've created becomes dependent on your beneficence -- as do the succeeding generations of fauna which are conceived and delivered into your garden home. Bees and other insects find spots nearby to winter over. Hummingbirds and other fowl will make your garden a regular stop on their essential feeding tours. And, yes, for some hapless gardeners, deer and rabbits make their garden paradises their own personal feeding stations and devastatingly devour the bounty to the ground.

There are consequences to the decision to establish a garden. Once adopted by our living counterparts, the future condition of that garden becomes almost essential. That's a bit like the way I view our community at Democratic Underground. We gather here, either deliberately compelled or bidden, and become reliant on the nourishment from the wellspring of activism, action, and advocacy that's been established here. I daresay that the community outside of DU can also become dependent on the diligence and effective management of the politics we intend to influence from our community of concerns.

So, high summer has come to my garden as early as our political season at DU, bringing with it an abundance of sunlight and nourishing rain to sustain the burgeoning abundance of life which both sustains us and challenges us for room to grow and prosper from the resources available. I daresay we can find space and resource to accommodate most of it all; even as we cringe at the prospect of our prize buds and offshoots serving as nourishment for other life before we can realize their bloom; none are more important than the other in this ecosystem; none are less vital than the other in our own survival.

That's what we establish gardens for; to sustain and enhance life on this planet. That's what I suppose this place is for.

Settled down to start anew
Far away from the politicians
And the many chosen few

Far away from the jealousy factor
And everything that was tearing him apart
Far away from the organ grinder
And everyone that played their part

And they shut him out of paradise
Called him Lucifer and frowned
'Cos he took pride in what God made him
Even before the angels shot him to the ground

He's a light out of the darkness
And he wears a starry crown
If you see him, nothing is shaken
'Cos high summer's got him low down

On Racism and Reconciliation in the Wake of Attacks on Our Community

ONE of the things which disturbs me when tragic violence occurs which is clearly motivated by or associated with racial animus of a white individual toward black individuals is how some observers make calls for reconciliation or togetherness as a solution. While good relationships between racial and ethnic groups are important and essential to the preservation of the fabric of our democracy and society, what's often involved isn't a case of some mutual animosity, prejudice, or discrimination. What's far too often involved is an attitude of bigotry and hatred directed solely from one side of the racial fence toward the other.

As we can see this morning from news reports of the barbaric execution of black men and women in an S.C. church, the issue isn't about whether the black community, represented by members who welcomed the white killer into their prayer circle without reserve before he gunned them down, the issue is with his simmering hatred and fear of our nation's black minority which he reportedly felt was 'taking over' the country.

One of the questions which needs to be answered is where this young white man absorbed the notion that our black community was enough of a threat to him and his way of life that he felt a need to act out with violence against some of us. There's been a resurgence in the past few decades of old racial divisiveness - it's coming to the surface again in America. It is a product of the same fear many in the white majority experienced at the birth of our Union of the potential of black Americans to assume positions of power over them - fear that blacks would act out the same prejudices which had been so arrogantly and wantonly perpetrated against them.

I've expressed a few thoughts on this here, in the past...

There has been a fear of black advancement throughout our American history - fear that blacks would rise up and dish out the same injustice & violence many in the white-dominated had perpetrated against the race of people since slavery and through the years of segregation and state-sanctioned discrimination. Yet, despite our tragic history, blacks have shown great forbearance and benignity in the face of it all.

In the immediate wake of Reconstruction and the election of a handful of black lawyers, ministers, teachers, college presidents to the national legislature, there was a concerted campaign of character assassination by their white counterparts and other detractors in a successful effort to challenge their seats and to construct discriminatory barriers to the election of other blacks which persisted for generations and generations. The 'birther' movement is no stranger to those who recall that 'Jim Crow' past.

American politics has reached a historic milestone which most of my family and peers had been impatiently anticipating all of our lives, yet, would not have predicted it to happen so soon in our lifetimes. It's fair to say that many in the black community (and without) have been inspired to believe that a black man can be elected president, in this day and age, by the audacity and urgency of Barack Obama's bid for the highest office in the land. It's also fair to say that much of that inspiration and belief has come from the mere fact of Obama's success in convincing so many non-blacks to support and elevate his presidency.

However, the ultimate effect of the persistent racism directed against President Obama and his family by public officials and others visible public figures in the media and elsewhere has been a reversion by demagogues to that initial rallying and defensive mode that pushes critical judgements about his actual performance aside in favor of an atmosphere of hatred that envelopes much more than just the target in its wake.

In effect, the racist attacks by some on President Obama and his family reflect on the black community's own aspirations for achievement and advancement. On one hand, there is satisfaction in the realization that the barrier to the highest office in the land has been broken by Americans willing to elect this African-American president. On the other, there's a reflexive need by some in opposition to stand-up against this president with attempts to define him outside of the American mainstream based on the color of his skin. Yet, to allow this president to be diminished on the basis of race diminishes us all. The persistent racism directed against President Obama has not allowed folks to feel secure in this one advancement.

Racism certainly isn't chic anymore; not like it was in the days where slurs, slights, and outright discrimination were allowed to flourish under the umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow. But, it has still been used by some, over the years since the dismantling of that institutionalized racism, to manipulate and control the level of access and acceptability of blacks in a white-dominated political system.

Open racism hasn't been in fashion for decades, but the fear and insecurities which underlie discrimination and prejudice still compel some to draw lines of distinction between black and white aspirations and potential for success. What is often unspoken is the reluctance some Americans have in envisioning blacks in a position to make decisions for a white majority, resulting in attempt to set boundaries and define the roles blacks must assume to achieve success and approval.

The federal advancement of group rights was an important element in securing individual rights for blacks, before and after the abolition of slavery. Government's role has been expanded, mostly in response to needs which had gone unfulfilled by the states; either by lack of will or limited resources. After the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments, the federal government had to assert itself to defend these rights -- albeit with much reluctance and not without much prodding and instigation -- by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That effort, and others by the federal government were a direct acknowledgment of the burdens and obstacles facing an emerging class of blacks.

Indeed, the efforts in the '60's to bolster and nurture black Americans into the social, economic, and political mainstream of America has meshed perfectly with the needs of our expanding economy and the growing markets which have eagerly absorbed millions of black Americans who were advantaged by the educational opportunities and initiatives which were focused on lifting their communities out of the squalor of indifference and disrespect of the past.

It's a dwindling majority in the workplace, and a dwindling dominance in other institutions which is, ironically, producing a familiar insecurity in some. Overall, black Americans' reaction to a dominating majority has been remarkably gracious, patient, and forgiving over the decades. Some of these dominionists could learn from that as they reconsider their role in a more inclusive society.

In fact, the gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments; many in the face of intense and personal racial adversity. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., wrote in HuffPo that, "The entire discussion is almost beyond comprehension for those of us who are not being blinded by bigotry and hatred."

"Magic Mulatto, Mrs. YoMama, Touching A Tar Baby, Your Boy, Orbameo, Watermelons on the White House Lawn, cartoons with the President Obama's head and a chimpanzee's body, references to monkeys who escaped the zoo being related to the First Lady, and the list goes on with the racial slurs that have been hurled at this President and his family," recalls Meeks. "Along with these is the recent attack of racial slurs against 11-year-old Malia, his youngest daughter."

"Whatever policy issues that anyone finds themselves at odds with him about should be spoken about, debated and fought over in whatever civilized manner that discourse can occur," she wrote. "But I am talking about this low level of racist discourse that has been going on since day one. A discourse that has exhibited no respect for the office of President in the first place as well as no respect for this man, his wife and children. But even larger than this is the lack of respect that is being shown toward every African American in this country," she said.

The attacks in this generation are not to be taken lightly, even though we may assume that the nation is past all of that. The attacks need to be openly and loudly defended against by Democrats and Republicans alike. They can't just be brushed aside as some sort of acceptable standard of discourse. For the most part, they've been responded to with dispatch and sincerity. For the other, there's a glaring silence -- and even a rhetorical encouragement by some in the political arena who are leveraging age-old stereotypes to serve their cynical campaigns for office.

That's the backdrop for this resurgence of racial animosity toward black Americans; something which, for the most part, blacks have little control over. It remains for the white community to lead the way in setting the standard for discourse and relations in this nation. It's that backdrop of acquiescence to the which appears to me to have fueled this recent tragedy in S.C.. There's a cottage industry, driven in great part by petty legislative politics, of divisiveness and racial hatred which has spilled out into the public consciousness and legitimized/encouraged the pitting of groups of Americans against others.

The republican political class, in particular, benefits directly from racial and ethnic hatred and resentment that they fuel with their rhetoric at every opportunity. It's an old game, adopted from our tragic beginnings as a nation, practiced by people who should know better but don't give a damn about our humanity, as long as it provides red meat to throw to their rabid constituency.

It's going to take determination and resolve to fight all of that; resolve from folks like the good people in our internet community here who care about making a difference and changing our politics to include everyone in our progress and advancement. Let's pledge ourselves to reconcile around that determination to effect a change in our discourse and to put all of our deliberate and politically calculated, racist and bigoted divisiveness in the past.
Go to Page: « Prev 1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 ... 32 Next »