Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

Politics: The Real Ronald Reagan … sigh

Yesterday marked the 100th birthday of America’s 40th president, Ronald Wilson Reagan. All over the country, prominent conservatives and Republican figures are celebrating the anniversary of Reagan’s birthday, claiming that the former president was “guided by strong conservative principles” and that he truly made America a “shining city on a hill” — “stronger and freer” thanks to his leadership. Yet what conservatives casually omit is that many of his policies sharply deviated from what is considered conservative orthodoxy today — like his strong record of trade protectionism and granting residency to millions of undocumented immigrants — and that other policies he pursued decimated the middle class, ignored pressing social crises, and stood by as tyranny fermented abroad. It was these facts that journalist Mike Stark presented to right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh that left the conservative icon speechless. Today, the Progress Report will serve to debunk the myths about one of America’s most famous presidents and introduce you to the real Ronald Reagan.

THE REAL REAGONOMICS : Conservatives often praise Reagan for his “sweeping economic reforms,” which included tax cuts, deregulation, and liberalized trade policies. Yet the truth is that, in the classical sense, Reagan wasn’t an economic conservative at all, often radically expanding the size of government and the federal budget deficit — just doing so in ways that did not benefit most Americans, especially the poor. In fact, many of Reagan’s economic policies would be considered heretical today by the modern conservative movement for the way they deviated from what is considered right-wing orthodoxy. As President, Reagan “raised taxes 11 times in his administration.” This is a stark departure from today’s conservative ideology; hundreds of elected Republicans in Congress have even signed oaths pledging to never raise taxes under any circumstances. And while modern conservatives boast of their commitment to rein in the budget deficit, reduce the size of government, and pursue free trade, Reagan seriously deviated from those policies. He nearly tripled the size of the federal budget deficit and federal spending “ballooned” during his tenure. And he notably used tariffs and trade controls to protect domestic industry, at one point imposing a 100 percent tariff on some Japanese electronic products, enacting major quotas on sugar imports, and establishing the largest steel tariff in American history. And while the right may boast of Reagan’s economic policies, the truth is that they helped hollow out the middle class and decimate America’s social safety net. Reagan cut federal funds to cities and slashed the federal housing program which more than doubled the country’s homeless population. He deregulated the savings & loan industry, which led to enormous taxpayer-funded bailouts and widespread financial industry failures, as even the Cato Institute admits was a failure. Per capita income for the bottom 90 percent of the population fell .3 percent during Reagan’s presidency while the incomes of the top 1 percent increased by 55 percent. Even his famed tax cuts did little to alleviate strains on the middle class, with the bottom 40 percent of households paying “out more of their income in federal taxes in 1988 than they had in 1980.” Rather than transforming America into a “shining city on a hill,” Reagan turned America into a “tale of two cities,” as former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (D) said, with the rich wildly prospering and everyone else fighting over table scraps.

THE REAL REAGAN FOREIGN POLICY: Today’s modern conservative movement champions Reagan as a man who freely brandished America’s military might and sought to “stand up for freedom” all over the world. Yet one has to wonder if today’s right-wing hawks would endorse Reagan’s “dream” of a “world free of nuclear weapons,” as he wrote in his diary — or if they would approve of him withdrawing the U.S. military from Lebanon following rebel attacks on Marines stationed there. And while Reagan did champion the cause of pro-democracy activists agitating against a geopolitical rival, the Soviet Union, he often sided with some of the world’s worst tyrants and terrorists — breaking with the modest human rights policies enacted by President Jimmy Carter. He called Apartheid South Africa in 1981 a country that “strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals,” and bitterly fought congressional efforts to place sanctions on the Apartheid government, eventually even vetoing Congress’s anti-Apartheid act (which was later overridden thanks to a revolt of Senate Republicans). Meanwhile, his administration sold arms to Iran in order to fund a right-wing militant movement known as the Contras in Nicaragua; these Contras went on to massacre tens of thousands of people, many of them nonviolent labor unionists or Christian theology activists. Reagan funded right-wing terrorists and dictators across Central America; in El Salvador, the Reagan-funded right-wing regime even assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero, a priest working to organize workers and feed the poor. Additionally, Reagan funded and trained the right-wing Guatemalan military, which a United Nations commission later found was a “key factor” in the military committing “acts of genocide” that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of members of the indigenous Mayan community and many other nonviolent left-wing activists. These U.S.-subsidized human rights violations became so extreme that Congress had to eventually move to rebuke Reagan and cut off funding to countries like Nicaragua that he had allied himself with. Writing about Reagan’s policies in Central America, Thomas Carothers, who was tasked with “democracy promotion” in the Reagan State Department, wrote that Reagan policies favored only “limited, top-down forms of democratic change that did not risk upsetting the traditional structures of power with which the United States has long been allied.” It was under Reagan that the United States armed and backed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, bolstering his aggressive war against Iran, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and embittering both countries against the United States. And his administration helped lay the groundwork for Al Qaeda by financing and training an Islamist militant movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed around fighting the Soviet Union.

THE REAL REAGAN SOCIAL POLICY : While leading conservative commentators have praised Reagan as having “classical virtues,” defending what they believe to be a starkly traditionalist set of American conservative social principles, there are many elements of his agenda which they’d be hesitant to endorse. And of the great stains on Reagan’s social policy legacy — the way he ignored the AIDS crisis — has all been written out of the conservative movement’s history of their icon. He completely ignored the AIDS crisis, not even addressing it until his second term when he was directly asked about it. At that point, between 20,000-30,000 Americans had already died from the disease. His administration silenced its own surgeon general, who wanted to proactively tackle the issue, and battled against comprehensive sex education. When the surgeon general was asked about Reagan’s thinking on the issue, he said that because AIDS was a disease primarily affecting homosexuals, Reagan’s closest advisers took the view that “they are only getting what they justly deserve.” And disturbingly, Reagan opposed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, saying that it was “humiliating to the South. He even gave one of his major speeches on “states’ rights” while running for president in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town where three civil rights workers were murdered, an ominous “dog whistle” in support of racist elements. Yet not every item of Reagan’s social agenda was so harmful. As president, he engaged in a raucous immigration debate that ended when he signed into law legislation that helped three million undocumented immigrants gain residency and millions of more family members.

THE REAL REAGAN ADMINISTRATION : One fact left unmentioned in conservative tributes to the former president is the widespread corruption and scandals within the Reagan administration due to the elevation of individuals to lead agencies who did not fundamentally believe in the public sector. More than a dozen administration officials had to resign following the revelation of the Iran-Contra scandal. Reagan’s own HUD Secretary used the agency to give Republican donors favorable housing grants. Over 20 high-level EPA officials were forced to resign following revelations that they had allowed themselves to be influenced by polluters; and as CAP’s Joe Romm points out, Reagan “gutted” all of the Carter administration’s clean energy efforts. Another scandal involved Department of Justice officials both engaging in piracy and then being tasked to investigate those same acts of piracy. More “than fifty officials at the Defense Department and private contractors” were “convicted for rigging bids and falsifying results of quality-control tests,” again the result of collusion between the administration and corporate power. As the New York Times’s Gary Willis wrote about the HUD scandals, “for [HUD] administrator Deborah Gore Dean,” running HUD for “the benefits of family, friends and fellow ideologues” would serve the ultimate cause of driving the agency “into disrepute or desuetude.” In other words, Reagan’s “conservatism” that believed that government is “the problem” spawned a network of government officials who freely used the government they viewed as illegitimate for their own benefit.

source:  CAP- Joe Romm

August … a month full of historic events

270px-Hurricane_Katrina_Mobile_Alabama_flooded_parking_lot_20050829just another rant …


 remember Katrina … remind folks what happened on the Gulf Coast as the people fled, some were forced out into the streets some died in the Katrina disaster trying to get out safely; while others faced excessive force violence and death

August 1, 1838 – Slavery was abolished in Jamaica. It had been introduced by Spanish settlers 300 years earlier in 1509.

August 2, 1776 – In Philadelphia, most of the 55-56 members of the Continental Congress signed the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

August 3
1936 – Jesse Owens won the first of his four Olympic gold medals.

1943 – Gen. George S. Patton verbally abused and slapped a private. Later, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered him to apologize for the incident.

1981 – U.S. traffic controllers with PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, went on strike. They were fired just as U.S. President Reagan had warned.

1992 – The U.S. Senate voted to restrict and eventually end the testing of nuclear weapons.

2004 – NASA launched the spacecraft Messenger. The 6 1/2 year journey was planned to arrive at the planet Mercury in March 2011. On April 30, 2015, Messenger crashed into the surface of Mercury after sending back more than 270,000 pictures.

August 4, 1962 – Apartheid opponent Nelson Mandela was arrested by security police in South Africa. He was then tried and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, he was placed on trial for sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison. A worldwide campaign to free him began in the 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa’s President F.W. de Klerk for their peaceful efforts to bring a nonracial democracy to South Africa. In April 1994, black South Africans voted for the first time in an election that brought Mandela the presidency of South Africa.

August 4, 1964 – Three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found murdered and buried in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21 after being detained by Neshoba County police on charges of speeding. They were participating in the Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to increase black voter registration. When their car was found burned on June 23, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to search for the men.

August 5, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Federal income tax, a 3 percent tax on incomes over $800, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War. However, the tax was never actually put into effect.

August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act suspended literacy, knowledge and character tests designed to keep African Americans from voting in the South. It also authorized the appointment of Federal voting examiners and barred discriminatory poll taxes. The Act was renewed by Congress in 1975, 1984 and 1991.

August 6-10, 1787 – The Great Debate occurred during the Constitutional Convention. Outcomes included the establishment of a four-year term of office for the President, granting Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce, and the appointment of a committee to prepare a final draft of the Constitution.

August 9, 1974 – Effective at noon, Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. Nixon had appeared on television the night before and announced his decision to the American people. Facing possible impeachment by Congress, he became the only U.S. President ever to resign.

August 10, 1863 – The President meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality for Union ‘Negro troops.’

August 11, 1841Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, spoke before an audience in the North for the first time. During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, he gave a powerful, emotional account of his life as a slave. He was immediately asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society.

August 11-16, 1965 – Six days of riots began in the Watts area of Los Angeles, triggered by an incident between a white member of the California Highway Patrol and an African American motorist. Thirty-four deaths were reported and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Damage to property was listed at $40 million.

On August 14, 1862, Abraham Lincoln did something unprecedented in presidential history up to that point: he met with a small delegation of black leaders (all free: 5 black clergymen). But the meeting did not auger a decision to give African Americans a voice in government. In essence, Lincoln sought to lobby these men in essence to agree to a divorce. In other words, the President wanted to get black Americans behind his plan to colonize them abroad. -Source http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln5/1:812?rgn=div1;singlegenre=All;sort=occur;subview=detail;type=simple;view=fulltext;q1=August+14

August 14, 1935 – President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act establishing the system which guarantees pensions to those who retire at age 65. The Social Security system also aids states in providing financial aid to dependent children, the blind and others, as well as administering a system of unemployment insurance.

August 15, 1969 – Woodstock began in a field near Yasgur’s Farm at Bethel, New York. The three-day concert featured 24 rock bands and drew a crowd of more than 300,000 young people. The event came to symbolize the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s.

August 18, 1920 – The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

August 28, 1963 – The March on Washington occurred as over 250,000 persons attended a Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famous I Have a Dream speech.

    August 28, 1955 The death of Emmett Till

 August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast

August 30 1967 Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

1983 U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger

August 31

Resource: http://www.historyplace.com


Troy Davis is dead; the movement continues …Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org

At 11:08 pm Wednesday, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said “For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls.” It’s a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy’s execution, we’ve felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we’re facing, to send love and support to Troy’s family and friends. It’s incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy’s family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.

But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren’t successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what’s brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we’ve built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.

Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty

At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who’ve been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis’ case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.

In most cases, people who’ve been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.

But there’s no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.

Troy Davis’ case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there’s an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he’s called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.

A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP’s Robert Rooks said this about the visit:

For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, “You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight.” He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.

A powerful movement

For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis’ execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis’ execution twice. Over the past year, there’s been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.

And we’ve been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.

This movement couldn’t stop Davis’ execution — but it’s a movement that won’t die with Troy Davis. There’s no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.

Thanks and Peace,

— Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 21st, 2011

Enough! Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org

A movement to end police violence and racial profiling is growing. Since the brutal police killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, you and nearly 900,000 people have raised your voices demanding full accountability for Mike’s death and condemning the crisis of racially-motivated police violence. Today, ColorOfChange, Organization for Black Struggle, and dozens of other progressive groups will go to the White House to deliver your voice and that of 900,000 others calling on President Obama and US Attorney General Holder to secure justice for Mike Brown and commit to systemic changes to policing nationwide.

Your voice has made an incredible difference and your commitment to abolishing racially discriminatory policing has brought us all the way to the President’s door. And we won’t stop there.

Will you help us build power to secure #JusticeForMike Brown and federal reforms to end police brutality by calling on friends and family to join the campaign? Every voice counts.

Visit the link to share a powerful #JusticeForMikeBrown image with your friends and family

For the first time in years, federal officials are more engaged in addressing issues of police accountability and racial profiling. Now, we must act swiftly to leverage this critical moment and ensure that national leaders like President Obama and US Attorney General Holder bring Officer Wilson and other law enforcement who violate civil rights to justice.

Tomorrow, as we near the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we will gather in front of the White House to send a clear message that this administration, elected from the power of Black voters, has a duty and responsibility to protect Black lives and show the necessary leadership to end the national crisis of police brutality. As we saw in the aftermath of Katrina, the federal government’s response to issues impacting Black communities has life and death consequences for our families.

While hundreds gather at the White House, help show your support by growing the movement to secure #JusticeForMikeBrown and an end to racially-motivated police violence.

Thanks and Peace,

— Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Jamar, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
August 28, 2014

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way.


Jindal Versus Louisiana Schoolchildren … a repost


Another Republican chooses to sue the Administration


Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana, filed suit against the Obama administration on Wednesday. He argues that the Department of Education has exceeded its constitutional authority by offering states grants if they choose to opt-in to the Common Core standards.

Jindal’s Complaint claims the Common Core is “an attempt by the executive branch to implement national education reform far beyond the intentions of Congress; in fact, in contradiction to 50 years of Congressional policy forbidding federal direction or control of curriculum, the cornerstone of education policy.”

While this lawsuit makes little sense for a variety of reasons, perhaps the strangest is the complete about-face Jindal made. Not only did he sign the legislation implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), his administration actively pushed the legislature to enact them. Back in 2012, Stafford Palmieri, Jindal’s top education policy adviser, wrote: “I frankly don’t foresee a controversy over this and if there is one and we come out swinging about how impt [sic] this is that helps not hurts our case. We stand very firmly behind CCSS as you know,” according to emails obtained The Times-Picayune.

However, in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal is one of only a few politicians to choose politics over kids.

Back in May, a bill to repeal the Common Core didn’t even make it out of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. And in April, the corresponding House committee shot down two Jindal-backed repeal bills. While a fraction of the state legislature tried to stop implementation by suing Education Superintendent John White, their request was denied. White, too, remains an ardent supporter of the standards.

Jindal marks the far-right on Common Core: only a handful of states are not participating in the voluntary program. If Jindal gets his way, he will join a select group of flip-floppers:

  • Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who once supported their implementation, signed a bill this June to repeal them.
  • South Carolina first adopted the standards in 2010, but also had them repealed this summer.
  • Indiana led the way with its repeal in March, though its new state standards are remarkably similar.

By choosing to sue the Obama administration, Bobby Jindal enters a league of his own on the Common Core. He himself has protested unnecessary lawsuits, once remarking: “This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law.” Unfortunately, he and other Republicans are gumming up the legal system instead of helping ordinary Americans.

BOTTOM LINE: When your duly elected state legislature and elected members of your Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Superintendent of education that you appointed all believe that the Common Core is good for Louisiana’s students, you should listen. Choosing politics – and a possible 2016 presidential run – over schoolchildren is wrong.