Friday, July 19, 2013

Last Call For One Hell Of A Presidential Briefing

This afternoon, President Obama made an unannounced appearance at the daily White House press briefing to make some heartfelt and thoughtful remarks on the George Zimmerman verdict and race in America.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

Context. It's a hell of a thing, and the piece of the national conversation on race we've been missing.  As President, Barack Obama today stepped up and delivered a speech with the necessary context that we've been sorely needing on having a real discussion about what the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman means to people.

Do read the entire transcript, or watch the briefing above.  It's the most honest starting point on this issue I've seen or heard all week. The NY Times editorial board summed it up thusly:

Mr. Obama said Americans needed to give African-American boys “the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.” 

He said he was not talking about “some grand, new federal program” or even a national “conversation on race,” which he said often ends up being “stilted and politicized” and reaffirm pre-existing positions. 

In a way, Mr. Obama began that conversation today, while he spoke directly to African Americans who have longed to hear him identify with their frustrations and their anger. 

It is a great thing for this country to have a president who could do what Mr. Obama did today. It is sad that we still need him to do it.

PS, not bad for a guy with no teleprompter, huh.

I Think I've ID'ed The Problem, NC GOP

And because North Carolina Republicans aren't already crashing in popularity, they're now making the state's voter ID law even tougher with the intent of discouraging those damn hipster college students from voting at all.

The new measure would require voters to show one of seven types of photo identification issued by the government, such as driver’s licenses, passports, non-driver IDs and military or veteran cards.

It eliminates about half the types of photo identification allowed under the House version, including cards from UNC system colleges, state community colleges, local governments, private employers and law enforcement agencies. The bill would take full effect in the 2016 elections.

“We want a state-issued ID or a federal-issued ID,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca, the bill’s chief supporter, expressing concern that college IDs “could be manipulated” and allow out-of-state students to vote in two states.

We want it succinct, and we are willing to pay for it,” he added, noting that the bill would provide free photo IDs to people without them.

To pay for the ID's, sure.  To keep the DMV offices open long enough to issue them all, well, that's another problem, given the steep budget cuts to state employee services in the last 3 years.  The state is only now experimenting with some Saturday DMV hours at a few offices...all without any extra funding or staffing, meaning how workers get paid to do it, well, umm...FREEDOM.

Good luck with that, guys.  PS, if you're planning on being a North Carolina college student in 2016 and voting for Hillary or whomever, you might want to reconsider going to school in a state that actually gives a damn about wanting you to vote.

By the way, the Charlotte Observer is so sick of the state GOP and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis (who is ironically not as responsible for this awful legislation as he should be because he keeps skipping out on votes to go fundraise for his bid against Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014) that they're calling for Tillis to step down as Speaker.

When Tillis announced his Senate bid, he said he would “raise money at the appropriate time.” “I don’t intend to campaign heavily and actively until after we get out of session,” he said.

It’s fine that Tillis is interested in higher office, and we don’t fault him for recognizing the need to raise millions. But the fiscal year started three weeks ago and the legislature still has not agreed on a budget. Tillis is missing sessions. His actions are raising questions of conflict of interest.

He has shown he can’t give his undivided attention to the N.C. House and the U.S. Senate at the same time. He should give up his Speaker’s gavel, resign from his House seat and give his full energy to his Senate bid, unencumbered by such distractions as running the state.

Read more here:

Less-intrusive, small government for the win!

Read more here:

Glad To Know Racism Is Over

Especially in Florida.

Walter Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriffs deputies after shooting Everett Gant, who is black. Gant was shot in the face after he confronted Butler about using racial slurs to address children living in the apartment complex where the two men reside.

Deputies said Butler admitted to shooting the victim, and even called 911 himself to report it, after which he reportedly went back to cooking his dinner. According to reports, officers on the scene said Butler seemed annoyed by the arrest and told officers, “I only shot a ni—r.

Butler was charged with attempted murder and a hate crime. He is being held at the Gulf County Jail. Gant is said to be in stable condition and is expected to survive.

Not even a human.  Not even an animal, because old white guys love animals.  Nope, he shoots a person in the face because somebody came up to him and said "Hey, stop being a racist jerk to these kids" in which case BLAM because he's just one of those, you know.

Tell me again how there's no racism, and how the real problem is that Gant shouldn't have said anything about Butler's racial slurs to kids, and that Gant was treading on Butler's right to be a racist jackass, so that I can ignore you for the rest of my life.


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