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Entries in politics (9)

Thursday
Apr112013

Gifted Hands Surgeon Won’t Give Republicans the Electoral Treasure They Need 

By Sheryl Wright

Over the past couple of months, Dr. Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been applauded by the right for a series of politically charged speeches echoing familiar conservative talking points on health care, taxes, religion and limited government. The day after Dr. Carson’s speech criticizing President Obama who was sitting just a few feet away from him at the National Prayer Breakfast, conservatives began positioning him as a potential candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016.

AP Photo

Republicans almost reflexively elevate black people that “stand up” to President Obama. Their rush to crown Dr. Carson as their next knight in shining armor reminds me of the Party’s ride on “the Cain Train.” At the time that he jumped to the top of the list of potential Republican nominees, Herman Cain, like Dr. Carson, was relatively unknown politically. In response to criticism of his policy positions, Dr. Carson followed in the footsteps of Mr. Cain by casting himself as “off the plantation” unlike black Democrats. On questions related to gay men and lesbians, Herman Cain labeled homosexuality a sin while Dr. Carson compared support for same-sex marriage to support for pedophilia and bestiality. It’s not surprising that Mr. Cain and Dr. Carson were unable to conceal their disdain for those who don’t share their beliefs—they’re following the lead of a Republican Party that is contemptuous of Democratic-leaning constituencies.

In the wake of his comments on marriage equality, Dr. Carson recognized the damage the controversy was having. Though he underscored his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, he apologized to the John Hopkins community for any embarrassment that he caused the university.

Despite the attention surrounding his less than auspicious debut on the national political scene, Dr. Carson will be best known for his work as a surgeon and philanthropist. Like many others, I first heard of him in 1987 when he performed the first successful surgery separating conjoined twins. I remember his accomplishments as a source of racial pride at the time. His life was a testament to a collective belief in the American Dream. A black child raised in poverty by a single mother in the 1950s, he overcame great personal odds to achieve tremendous professional success.

Dr. Carson has every right to express his political views. Black conservatives—like people of any political stripe—have a right to speak out against President Obama’s policies. Unfortunately, Dr. Carson’s emergence on the political stage represents more of the same; with the exception of immigration reform, he embraces many of the policies that a growing segment of the public disagrees with.

Last month the Republican Party reported on their failure to connect with the changing electorate in the 2012 election. Sadly, they’re too out of touch to realize it will take much more than a new black face to show that they’re not just the party of old white folks.

 

Monday
Jan212013

Toward a More Perfect Union

By Sheryl Wright

"Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time–but it does require us to act in our time....You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

President Barack H. Obama

57th Presidential Inaugural Address 

January 21, 2013

Monday
Nov122012

Karl Rove’s Post-Election Spin

By Sheryl Wright

Karl Rove, the Republican mastermind responsible for bringing us George W. Bush and the man behind $175 million in spending this year against President Obama and other Democratic candidates, is no stranger to making dubious claims about his own record or the record of the Obama administration. His willingness to stretch the truth on a host of issues has been documented.

Less than two days after the presidential election, Rove took to the Fox News airwaves to explain how President Obama won by suppressing the vote. The claim is the exact opposite of the facts—since 2011, Republican elected officials across the country have done everything in their power to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning voters to vote.

Republicans have been spinning fast to explain Romney’s loss, Rove’s accusation that President Obama’s campaign suppressed the vote ranks as one of the most dishonest. To paraphrase a line from President Clinton’s speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention—it takes some brass for Karl Rove to accuse President Obama of doing what Republicans did. 

 

Tuesday
Sep202011

I Like Ike!

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)Somehow, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (also known as Ike) is always left off my mental list of U. S. presidents that did their part to make America and the world a better place. While listening to The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC this morning I realized that he was a pretty cool president. One of the guests on today’s show was Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussing his new book Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View. Through the course of the discussion of the Constitution and Breyer’s view of its interpretation, he brought up Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and “Little Rock Nine. The “Little Rock Nine” were a group of black students selected for their academic excellence to integrate all white Little Rock Central High School in the fall of 1957. When Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to stop the students from entering the school, Ike took control of the Arkansas National Guard and sent in the 101st Airborne Division of the U. S. Army to protect the students. Ike does NOT play. It’s also thanks to Ike that we have NASA and an Interstate Highway System, both of which have debatable merits but are impressive nonetheless. He also desegregated the Armed Forces and was born in the great state of Texas to boot! I’m seriously thinking about getting one of those “I Like Ike!” buttons on eBay.

Tuesday
Aug302011

Goldman Sachs and Its Incognito Aide-ing of Congress

Just when I thought Wall Street bankers couldn’t possibly be any more despicable and Congressional Republicans any more explicit in their willingness to use the federal government to advance the interests of the banks, both have proven there is no limit to how far they will go. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the House Oversight Committee, hired a former vice president at Goldman Sachs to spearhead the committee’s effort to block regulations which would limit the banks dealings in the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market. This revelation, however, is not the most egregious part of the story. Unfortunately, the continuously revolving door between the Congress and corporations is no longer a newsworthy story on its own; corporate lobbyists turned congressional staffers turned corporate lobbyists again are an accepted part of life in Washington, D.C. This story stands out because the ex-Goldman Sachs VP, who was known to his colleagues as Peter Simonyi changed his name shortly after leaving the Wall Street firm—today, he is known to his congressional colleagues as Peter Haller.

Many, if not all, of the issues we face as a country can somehow be linked to the corporate takeover of our government. The more I think about it, we need to make doing something to diminish their influence on government and politics our number one priority. Move to Amend is coordinating an effort in support of a constitutional amendment which establishes that money is not speech and that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people. It seems like one of the most constructive things we can do to push back against corporate power. I just signed their petition. Will you join me?