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Clinton’s “Crime Act” comments not the crime, it’s intolerance of a new party

7 Apr
2016-04-07 (1) If I needed to provide a more specific illustration of just how my old party – the party of FDR, The Kennedys, LBJ, and Clinton built on common purpose, nationalism, and populist policies meant to extend opportunity to the most people irrespective of background and region – slowly worked to abandon me over the past 6-10 years as I was left to toil as a hopeless Red Stater orphaned by national strategists and still touting the glory days of sound economic priorities and political compromise from the 1990s, then today I certainly received a glaring case-in-point. By now, you’ve been bombarded somewhere by the Bill Clinton bickering flap with more aggressive protesting from “Black Lives Matter” campaign disruptors while stumping for his wife today.

CLINTON:

“The ones that won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” Bill Clinton admonished protesters at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton today in Philadelphia. The protesters peppered him with questions about the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a piece of legislation that has become wrapped up in this campaign cycle as Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders both build criminal justice promises built on dismantling parts of it. The crime bill [was] a signature accomplishment of his presidency . . . ” [Source: The Atlantic.]
But wait . . . come again? Attacking the Explainer-in-Chief? You mean Thee One and Thee Only Man from Hope?? Our Bubba?!

IN RETROSPECT: Regarding the tenor of modern Monday morning quarterbacking and political critique of a widely-heralded bi-partisan initiative enacted two decades ago.

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Mrs. Clinton (far left) looks on as POTUS embraces then Sen. Joe Biden upon signing Crime Act into law in ’94. 

Yes, folks in today’s arena, and particularly in today’s increasingly intolerant and irrational version of Democratic progressivism, even a global icon and successful two-term POTUS turned revered ex-POTUS, the Dems’ prodigal son and favorite political rockstar who not long ago dropped that campaign-saving convention keynote for the current POTUS, can be memed away without hesitation as some self-serving closet racist who should be subject to an ex post facto party excommunication, officially stricken from the historical record and all federal/state monuments, and subject to universal shaming on every screen we find ourselves staring at the next few hours and coming days.

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Forever living in the past? Or is it still great to be grateful for Clinton Years?

It’s a really sad statement of how the “third way” principles and Clinton’s party shift away from the Great Society to the more broadly inclusive and sustainable “community, opportunity, & responsibility” agenda he pushed for with such great success — whether or not you agree with how they should be viewed in historical contexts a generation later — have been almost entirely rejected in today’s increasingly dissent-free version of the party as somehow “Republican Lite” or just not bernin’ to the Far Left like all the cool kids.

Please, political progressive peoples out there in need of some serious introspection and empathy-refresher: ENOUGH “with us or against us” and more-righteous-than-thou demands and disrespect. Personal attacks to blur meaningful debate USED to be the m.o. for the “other side”, right? That’s the line I subscribed to for a very long time, too. Those vicious and vile Repugs, am I right? Those stupid Fox News and Rush Limbaugh holy rollin’ redneck pigs are not even human enough to warrant humanity seems to be the general take to varying degrees. I mean, sure, we are created equal . . . but some are more equal than others. I think that’s how the story goes, or at least it appears to the general take here as well in terms of recent liberal crusading getting the most attention. The big-tent and diverse views nature of the party has been swept away for a modern version of the party that emphasizes uniformity of beliefs and policies and winning the news cycle with slogans and attacking opponents personally rather than the hard work of building policy consensus and public approval. In many ways, the bumper-sticker debates of complicated problems and questioning the level of American-ism of political foes, and governing in ways that view even minor dissention as treasonous and a question of character very much parallels the Karl Rove -style politics that has been so destructive to our democracy and would presumably be the opposite approach taken by those who opposed him and the GOP brand he sold to the masses.
 
It seems now that despite years of being respected for policies and moderation that brought on prosperous times economically and culturally, today’s loudest voices in the party want him revised down as something entirely different . . .

Without any meaningful consideration of context or legitimate reasoning for differing viewpoints, Clinton can find himself a viral scapegoat on Twitter and in the blogosphere as he’s disrespected and seemingly tossed aside completely in a matter of HOURS as caricatures instantaneous appear and old stories are re-fitted to “confirm” the trending narrative and pile on, almost universally by using the same ol’ trusty GOP attack bulletpoints so many Dems are anxious to get loud about or issue through showing their activist bonafides by making asinine blanket-defriending threats on Facebook if anyone dares admit they might agree (or even just not find particularly disagreeable) whatever the media has deemed newly-scorned public sentiment for that news cycle.

 
Meeting Bill Clinton (2) Lay off my Bill, y’all. Or at least give ol’ Number 42 a basic level of respect when you want to judge his policies and question his motives. Few political or social change movements in recent history have had much impact if they failed to inject civility and build a dialogue from ideas; emotional demands and shaming all others into uniform rationale is not bridging divides, building consensus, or confirming intellectual/moral high ground.
 
I suppose nothing surprises anymore except the unflinching gall and hypocrisy of political idealogues of all stripes . . . many engaging in the very behavior they decry. So much faux-outrage and public affirmation obsession out there it has really halted any chance of meaningful debates and much-needed reforms. Not sure how this changes with the way this election cycle is playing out.
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FURTHER READING: Want more thoughtful takes on the broader Lefty Revisionists v. Bubba’s Brand for national Dems? Check out this great piece (from said Lefties, presumably) over at Salon entitled: “The era of (Bill) Clinton liberalism is over. What does that mean for Hillary and the Dems?”
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Fave Fives™: President’s Day Edition!

17 Feb

As friends and loyal TWP readers know all too well, I absolutely love to talk presidential history and politics, so naturally I’m a fan of President’s Day. After reading a few news stories detailing lists for the best & worst in POTUS this morning, I figured I’d add my takes to the mix and give you a quick snapshot of my all-time faves.

Here we go!

Bubba’s still got it.

1. Bill Clinton: His personal story and rise to fame, his ability to connect with people of all stripes, and his record of achievement.

2. John F. Kennedy: His charisma, courage, and ability to inspire a generation.

Theodore Rex

3. Teddy Roosevelt: His ambition, confidence, practical approach, and tenacity — of all our former presidents, I believe his skill set and ability to proudly fight for the American people over partisan politics would be best served to lead us in our current crises. Bully!

4. Abraham Lincoln: Our greatest and most-important president — his background as a “country lawyer” and the wisdom he demonstrated during the Civil War.

LBJ

5. Lyndon Johnson: The Big Daddy from the Pedernales had an uncanny ability to get things done with a “New Deal” Texas swagger. Fascinating man.

Vote Now: Who is the best president as ranked by historians?

In honor of Presidents Day, we take a look at the small group of presidents consistently ranked among the best, and ask your opinion in this online vote.

Source: National Park Service

Historians have been ranking presidents on job performance since the late 1940s, when Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. polled 55 historians in a survey for Life magazine. He followed with a similar poll in 1962. The survey sparked a lot of talk, and criticism, as some experts didn’t find much value in it.  Stanford historian Thomas A. Bailey claimed the Schlesinger polls included a bias toward Democrats, liberals and anyone with a connection to Harvard.

But over the years, various presidential rankings have focused on a small set of presidents who always appear at the top of these surveys of historians. In 2000, a survey from The Wall Street Journal and the Federalist Society ranked Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “great” presidents.

A study of historian rankings from Meena Bose at the United States Military Academy in 2003 showed little variation from different historian surveys.  Bose said after a symposium of experts looked at all the studies, there was a consensus that the actual exercise of rankings had “limited value,” but the exercise was useful because it provoked debates about qualities make a president a great leader.

Also, surveys about presidential greatness taken by the general public showed different results, with a preference to rank more-recent presidents higher. Ronald Reagan, in particular, has polled well in recent surveys. In 1999, Reagan was listed as the fifth-best president ever in a popular poll, but 11th in a poll of historians. In recent years, Reagan was listed as one of the top 10 presidents in four out of five historian surveys.

Living presidents also present a challenge to historians, and tend to be ranked higher by historians as time goes by. But for the purpose of our informal polling, here are the five presidents who historians have ranked among the top five presidents in surveys since 2000.

1. George Washington. The 1st president was the only person the Founding Fathers even considered for the job.

2. Thomas Jefferson. The 3rd President was a driving force behind the Revolution and an intellectual force as the Constitution came to be debated and ratified.

3. Abraham Lincoln. The 16th president served little more than four years in office, but accomplished much.

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Democrat served for 12 years as the only president elected to four terms, in a period that started in the Great Depression and ended with World War II nearly concluded.

5. Theodore Roosevelt. The Republican, a distant cousin of FDR, led considerable reforms at the start of the 20th century and redefined the president’s role.

You can vote here by clicking this link: https://polldaddy.com/poll/7802133/

Dreams Didn’t Die in Dallas

22 Nov

jfkcourageDreams didn’t die in Dallas fifty years ago because President Kennedy’s courage continues to inspire so many of us to believe in this nation’s greatness and become better Americans. Today, we pause to remember his legacy and reflect on his visionary leadership. Thank you, sir. Your ideas do indeed live on.

an idea“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” — John F. Kennedy

Teddy? BALLGAME!

24 Sep

So I hear news of a “filibuster” and tune in only to find that smarmy, self-loathing hypocrite, the anti-immigrant Hispanic Canadian-Texan, Sen. Rafael “Ted” Cruz, reading children’s literature aloud to his  Senate colleagues, as he re-re-re-doubles down on his personal mission to somehow thwart a law long since advocated, enacted, and subsequently upheld by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government, respectively. Picture me not impressed.

From C-SPAN:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) while speaking in opposition to #Obamacare, reads Green Eggs & Ham.

I guess we should all be glad he at least happened upon a certified medical professional with the moonlighting Dr. Seuss with his story time session. Hey, at least it wasn’t My Pet Goat. This is clearly what those (highly quotable) Founding Fathers envisioned with that whole democracy thing, right? It’s surreality, folks!

I do not like that Teddy Cruz,
I do not like his version of news.
He’s a vile man who will tell a lie,
And I do not like his hair or tie stupid face.

Hey, I’m no friggin’ poet. 😉

¡Viva Julián!

18 Sep

IMG_2620What a treat for me to be on hand yesterday for 2012 Democratic National Convention Keynote Speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who spoke at UALR today as part of the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series. The remarks this evening were fairly apolitical, at least in the typical partisan sense, and focused around meeting the challenges and seizing the moment resulting from the large demographic shift currently occurring in not only places like Castro’s Texas and throughout the American Southwest, but all throughout our country, including right here in Arkansas where between 2000-2010 the Hispanic population increased by nearly 115%. Having the chance to meet one of my political heroes and a future POTUS (¡Viva 2024!) following his presentation was a true honor.

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From UALR:
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro told a packed audience at UALR that the way Americans approach shifting Hispanic/Latino demographics will have “fundamental consequences” for America’s future role in the world.

Castro was delivering a talk on “The Political Implications of Shifting Demographics in the 21st Century” at UALR’s Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall Tuesday, Sept. 17.

His lecture was supported and presented through the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures series, one of the most popular UALR campus events.

The consequences will be felt in particular in states like Arkansas, where there has been a 114 percent growth in Hispanic and Latino communities, Castro said. The shifting demographics affect not only who is voting in America, he said, but also the electoral outcomes as well as the conversation about which issues are important.

“We have a young and growing minority population, and we have an aging, non-Hispanic, white community, both with different life experiences,” he said.

These differing experiences produce people who see issues quite differently, according to Castro, who added that the changing demographics can either be an “asset or an albatross” for the U.S.

Castro added that for the first time, other countries are producing students who can outcompete American students. It is in America’s best economic interest to address the accessibility of education to minority populations, he said.

“If we ensure our young people receive an education, we ensure another century of American prosperity and dominance,” he said.

Higher education plays a unique and compelling role in the shifting demographics of the American 21st-century, according to Castro. Not only are college campuses often among the “most diverse places” in the U.S., they are a great place for people to discover the truth that “even though they look different, people are fundamentally much like we are.”

Earlier in the day, Castro met with UALR students for a master class in which he hit on similar themes.

He spoke about ways to improve higher education accessibility, such as San Antonio’s recent addition of Café College, a one-stop center offering guidance on college admissions, financial aid, and standardized test preparation to students in the San Antonio area.

When asked by one student about his political plans, Castro said he intends to serve out the rest of his term as mayor and then run for the office again in 2015.

A San Antonio native, Castro is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He won reelection last year with more than 80 percent of San Antonio’s vote and delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Underwritten by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the lectures bring nationally known speakers to the Little Rock community, including anthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey and civil rights leader Julian Bond.

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TWP at HRC Children’s Library Dedication

9 Jul

When Soldiers Go Social on Politics

29 Apr

File this one under “shameless self-promotion.”

My National Law Journal piece out today takes a look at the legal restrictions on soldiers’ political speech online — particularly making disparaging remarks about the commander-in-chief — in light of the popular use of sharing political views through social networking such as like Facebook and Twitter.

The National Law Journal (4/29/13)


Although the Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizes a servicemember’s use of ‘contemptuous words’ against the president, some use social media to insult Obama.

Profiles in Courage, “1st Ed.”

28 Apr

jfk_profilesincourageInspired by the works and writings of two of my political heroes, John and Robert Kennedy, today I offer up the first installment in a new series of posts we’ll aptly refer to as “Profiles in Courage.”

I hope readers will come to enjoy this new effort to specifically highlight powerful quotes and recent rhetoric in the news attributed to great leaders from across the political spectrum that are strengthening the notions of accessible democracy and responsible citizenship — the pillars of The Project Manifesto.

To get started, it only seems fitting to begin with one of my favorite quotes from then-Senator Kennedy’s “Profile in Courage” memoir which really sums up our goals more artfully than I can:

“In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; every one of us is in a position of responsibility, and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.” – John F. Kennedy

Bubba Tweets!

25 Apr

Most of you know that the genesis of Bubba on Twitter come from his recent appearance on The Colbert Report to tout Clinton Global Initiative efforts.

From the Yahoo! News blurb:

During last night’s Colbert Report, filmed at the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in St. Louis, Colbert segued a discussion of whether young people should get into politics into Clinton’s social media presence. After Clinton discussed how new email was during his presidency, Colbert decided to get Clinton into the 21st Century. “Well, sir, I took the liberty of opening you a Twitter account,” he said, explaining that “PresidentClinton” and “WilliamJeffersonClinton” were taken, but “PrezBillyJeff” was available.

You’ll note the switch to the “more dignified” social networking moniker he’s using now from the original @PrezBillyJeff  handle he was originally assigned by Comedy Central’s king of sarcasm. Watch Colbert’s update to all of these developments here:

AR Medicaid Expansion: Dems’ Playbook?

20 Apr

Make no mistake, Arkansas Republicans campaigned on, almost exclusively, an anti-Obama platform, mostly premised on the promise to prevent implementation of his most notable legislative initiative — the Affordable Care Act — here in Arkansas.

Then, they had to actually govern and come up with justifications in rejecting federal Medicaid funds under the Affordable Care Act while still helping to subsidize its implementation to other states via tax dollars.

Next, here came the powerful hospital and insurance lobby, long eager to find a way to be able to capitalize financially on Medicaid patients. What’s an Arkansas Republican to do???

Obamacare, as the law is popularly known, once seemed doomed in Arkansas, where Republican candidates ran hard in the 2012 election campaign on the promise of stopping reform, and won majorities in both state legislative chambers for the first time since the Civil War era.

Then [Representatives] Dismang, Sanders, House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman and House member John Burris started sounding out whether the Obama administration would allow Medicaid expansion funds to be used to purchase private coverage through an online healthcare exchange that Arkansas will run in partnership with Washington beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Under Obamacare, people earning from 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for Medicaid. But they could also receive federal premium tax credits to help purchase private coverage through an exchange. States such as Wisconsin have already opted for that route.

The Arkansas plan would utilize Medicaid funds instead of tax credits and cover everyone who qualifies for the expansion, including those living below the federal poverty level – currently $23,550 for a family of four.

But yesterday, as Medicaid expansion (via a private health insurance exchange) in Arkansas became a foregone conclusion one step closer to being reality, for the betterment of our state, however ironic this notion may be considering the rhetoric of the past couple of years. From ThinkProgress.org:

Arkansas came one step closer to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare on Thursday after the state senate advanced a modified expansion bill by a 27-8 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who is expected to sign it promptly.

In March, Beebe and the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) struck a first-of-its-kind deal that would allow Arkansas to expand Medicaid while also privatizing the state-federal partnership program. Under the tentative deal, the federal government will subsidize the entire cost of Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion, but allow the state to use that federal money to buy poor people private insurance, rather than expand the existing public program. The compromise — which has been dubbed “the private option” — was appealing to both Beebe and the Obama Administration, since conservative Arkansas legislators are skeptical of public entitlements, but the state has a high number of poor and uninsured residents who will benefit from expanded access to health coverage.

The development is particularly significant since the private option could serve as a template for Republican-controlled states. Conservatives who are adamantly opposed to public health entitlements like Medicaid are being fiercely lobbied by hospital associations and advocates for the poor, who are warning them that safety net hospitals and state budgets could buckle under the weight of uncompensated medical care costs barring expanded insurance access for the poor. The private option could allow Republicans to heed those warnings without endorsing a program they have historically slammed.

Rep. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, left, and Rep. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, helped lead the GOP’s change of heart.

Funny how things once undebatable can quickly change when faced with reality, isn’t it? But at least this time it was for an improved way of doing things, even if it might’ve not necessarily been the ideal way of doing them.

But now I have to ask, what of the politics of this moment? How can Arkansas Democrats both take credit for the enactment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion AND still remind voters of the political posturing and subsequent flip-flopping on the issue by their anti-all-things-fed counterparts on the other side of the aisle?

My take is that Ark Dems generally have a small window to do something creative and positive with this. While I’ll admit to you readers that the more idealist “Third Way” notions in me find it a bit disingenuous that Democrats would now be snarking about a GOP flip-flop on the ACA’s Medicaid implementation here, when we should really just be making the most of this seemingly grand compromise and revel in the fact that SOMETHING got done in this otherwise nutty legislative session to improve the lives of thousands of needy Arkansans. I say this primarily because these same Democrats played no real part in the substantive debate in the legislature — the entire discussion and associated compromises — at least once the general blessing for a “private option” was granted by Kathleen Sebelius to Governor Beebe — was controlled by Arkansas Republicans. The whole thing hinged on whether or enough of their members would toe the line on often ridiculous campaign rhetoric, or would give in to a common sense and get the legislation passed.

That being said, I figure Dems going on the offensive with this outweighs the risk of some people having a reaction like mine and backfiring.  I mean, Dems haven’t had much part in any debate because these Republicans have been passing whatever they want and blocking whatever they want.  So turn that on it’s head.  “You clearly could pass anything you wanted, so thank you for passing Obamacare.”

As I was talking with a friend last night about the passage of healthcare expansion, it dawned on me that this moment actually presents a great opportunity for the ArkDems to seize control of the discussion, attempt to take the moral highground, and define the debate going forward.  Rather than letting the Republicans tout how they “avoided Obamacare” by passing the “private option,” I think you guys could turn the whole thing on its head by embracing the term “Obamacare” and literally thanking, by name in a press a release, all of the Republican legislators who voted for the expansion “and made healthcare available to 250,000 Arkansans that did not have it before the passage of Obamacare.”

If they want to scream and holler about how it’s not Obamacare, then they are going to have to be able to explain how the private option is appreciably different than what would have happened under the ACA anyway.  That’s like trying to explain why French vanilla ice cream is completely and totally different from regular vanilla, or why scallions are not the same as green onions.  It’s a distinction without a difference, and most Arkansans will see through it.  This is great on two levels for our side.

First, by embracing the term “Obamacare,” if the Republicans can’t satisfy various constituents that there is a difference in the private option, then they run the risk of being primaried, almost certainly by someone even more crazy and right wing, which should help moderate Dems have a shot in those areas.

Second, if you control the message, the attempts in 2014 by House and Senate members to campaign on having “avoided implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas” will ring hollow and will have about 18 months of rebuttal messaging to contend with.

I think this is a golden opportunity for the party.  Heck, it even allows you to praise the “bipartisan effort that brought the benefits of Obamacare to Arkansas.”  But selling that idea probably requires getting out front with this message almost immediately.