Tag Archives: Civil Rights

September 11 – thirteen years later

September 11, 2001.   The whole reason we are at war.

September 11, 2001.
The whole reason we are at war.

Today is September 11, 2014 – thirteen years after an act of war was committed by radical Islamic fundamentalists. Through the administration of two presidents since, many Americans still do not understand the significance of September 11, 2001. Even after the release of the 9-11 commission report and its declaration that “they were at war with us before we were at war with them,” few Americans have looked beyond that day to understand how long this “war on terror” has actually been going on. Very few Americans recall the assassination of a young Democratic Party presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. His justification for the assassination in 1968 of Robert Kennedy was that he, like his brother John Kennedy, had been outspoken in their support of Israel. In the opinion of this American historian, this was the first shot fired at the United States by radical fundamental Islamic elements within the Middle East.

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The haunting specter of racial politics

obama-01Today’s political climate is no more hostile than in other times in our nation’s history. As an American historian, I can think of several periods in the life of our country where politics had become toxic and contaminated nearly every aspect of the lives of the citizen.  What makes it different is that instead of the political divide being over the clashing viewpoints of domestic and foreign policy and the traditional Democrat versus Republican arguments that Americans have become accustomed to, a new political divide has been forged by the supporters of Mr. Obama: any critique of the President, his policies, or his actions can only be because he is a black president.  Choose any issue from foreign policy to domestic energy production and anyone that disagrees with President Obama’s agenda is immediately discredited as a racist that wants to see the president fail.

There is a danger when racial politics are so easily exploited by any political entity within American politics. One thing that American history can teach both Republican and Democratic Party leaders is that playing racial politics is a risky game that no party ever truly masters.  In the years immediately after the American Civil War, it appeared that the Republican Party had the vote of black Americans for perpetuity because of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.  The Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Ku Klux Klan Acts of 1870 and 1871, plus several other legislative acts seemed to add to the support that the Republican Party enjoyed across the nation and in the South.  From 1866 to the turn of the century, the Republican Party “waved the bloody shirt” reminding all which party had been the defenders of slavery and traitors to the Union.  And the politics of race worked – for a while.

It was not until after the 1930s and the introduction of several New Deal programs that the political tide began to turn for the Democratic Party.  By the time of the War on Poverty and the Johnson administration, the black American vote had almost completely left the Republican Party and was now firmly voting for Democratic candidates in local, state, and national elections, just as generations had voted for Republican candidates in the past.  Instead of owning up to its racially charged history of open hostility to black Americans, the Democratic Party leadership used the same tactics successfully employed by the Republican Party – open and frequent accusations of being a party entrenched with racism.  Now, since 1964, the Democratic Party has counted on votes of black America to retain its political edge, but at a very high price. To maintain itself as being seen as the party that is compassionate to the needs of black America, it now finds itself in a unique place – discrediting those black Americans that dare to disagree with the fundamental issues of the party.  In the end, the party that promotes itself as the “party of tolerance” becomes intolerant.

Since the election of 2008, the American mainstream media has carried numerous articles, editorials, and even panel discussions with loyal Obama supporters decrying that the only reason that a portion of the American population does not like the president is because of his race.  Even more stunning was a recent interview conducted by David Remnick, of the New Yorker Magazinewith President Obama.  During the interview, the president was on record stating:

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Regardless of the political party affiliation of the president, he is the President of the United States of America.  The occupier of that office, regardless of their race, gender, sexual status, or political party is to be the leader of the American people, and as such, should diligently seek ways to unite all Americans behind national goals.  To dismiss opposition to any administration with a wave of a hand and conferring the title of “racist” to the opposition does not unite Americans for the common good, nor does it instill feelings of goodwill.  While I am sure that there are a few that description may fit, there are many more Americans that are critical of President Obama’s policies based on substance and concept rather than the racial identity of the president.  When the “racist” label is applied to those that are genuinely questioning the policies and agenda of the current administration all it does is to silence legitimate critique.

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A bad law, its growing unpopularity, and its possibilities

obamacare

In less than a week, a handful of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, will begin to impact the national economy.  All over the nation, the reports have already begun to indicate that this law has not lowered medical insurance costs but has actually increased them for much of the nation.  A recent article from the Washington Examiner, “Tennessee: ObamaCare will Triple Men’s Premiums, Doubles Women’s” stated that premiums were expected to increase dramatically under the new ObamaCare guidelines.  According to the article, men are expected to face a 197% increase in the cost of a basic compliant policy; women could expect to see a 92% increase for the same coverage.  In a separate article featured on Breitbart, “ObamaCare Triples Kentucky Family’s Insurance Overnight,” a Kentucky couple with two young sons had their portion of the family’s employer offered health care plan rise to $965 a month from its much lower $333 per month.


Each day, Americans are horrified to read of the many hidden provisions in ObamaCare, such as one that sets criteria for regular in-home follow ups to individuals and families as defined by statute, direct access to banking accounts of Americans, and end of life counseling for those over 65 or suffering from terminal illnesses or injury.  And these are just the provisions we know about; the Affordable Care Act contains 2,407 pages that was passed into law with another 7,642 pages of additional rules and regulations that have already been written by the Department of Human and Health Services.  Bloggers and pundits have stated that one of the many provisions in the Affordable Care Act that required six pages of legislation required an additional 429 pages of additional regulations defining exactly how and when the legislation will apply.  This means that there are potentially thousands of other restrictions, invasions into privacy, and governmental oversight into the lives of the American citizenry.

There are several reasons why the Affordable Care Act is bad law. Beginning with the most obvious first, this law financially strains the American citizenry at a time when it can least be afforded.  Over the last year, we have seen numerous companies change their employment model from offering full time positions shifting to an all part time workforce under thirty hours a week.  For many working class families, this now means that it will take two or more part time positions per adult family member to recover what has been lost since the enactment of these provisions.  Additionally, annual inflation since 2008 has been around 1.20% or greater, depending on whose estimates and reports you use.  Inflation, plus high fuel prices, high food prices, and increases in local and state level taxes are having a profound impact by reducing the amount of disposable income families and individuals have to spend.  Instead of lowering healthcare costs and creating more disposable income for the average family, the Affordable Care Act increases the premiums for families and will reduce the amount of disposable income. It is estimated that the Affordable Care Act is going to add an additional $7,450 in healthcare costs for the average family of four per year once the entire law is enforced.  This places a financial burden on working and middle class families and upon our consumer driven national economy.

Another reason this is bad law is it can serve to restrain individual freedoms. The purpose of any insurance policy is to reduce financial risk to the individual. While financial risk comes in many forms, the Affordable Care Act’s sole purpose is to reduce the financial risk of individuals and families through a series of laws that will reduce the cost of medical care (or that is the pretense for which the law was passed).  Since under ObamaCare, the risk is to be transferred to state and national exchanges, the government becomes the bearer of risk. Within the insurance industry, financial risk and liability is managed through increased premiums paid by the consumer, or through the offering of incentives that encourages the consumer to modify high or risky behaviors.  With this understanding, it is easy to understand the potential invasion into individual liberty and freedoms that the government deems too risky or too costly to cover under the state or national health care exchanges.  There is the potential for the government to regulate diet, exercise, recreational activities, number of children, and any other decision that before have been considered as issues of self determination.

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