Archive for Politics and the Economy

Our long national nightmare is over…

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We know what you’re thinking… “OK, the presidential campaign is in full swing, Paul Ryan is the Republican Veep nominee, the GOP convention has concluded and the Democratic convention is days away, the economic recovery is still slow and painful (with everyone blaming everybody else), the media fact-checkers and cable news commentators are having conniption fits… and we’re watching Clint Eastwood chastise an empty chair without a script, while you guys are nowhere to be found?”

Guilty as charged. We won’t try to put up a front — blogging can be hard when things get busy… and then the regret points start piling up (“oh, we missed this… oops, we missed that… how could we let that one get away?”). But we’ve missed the action as much as you have, so it’s time to jump back into the fray.

Labor Day traditionally is the time when political campaigns relaunch themselves, to reintroduce themselves to their fans and foes and to introduce themselves to a new set of audiences seeing them for the first time. Thus it shall be with the Political Denizens. If you are reading us for the first time, we welcome you to our citadel of Beyond the Beltway commentary from an interdisciplinary, liberal arts perspective. Please check out our intro page and find out more about us.

For our true believers, waiting anxiously for another taste, here it comes. Say tuned for a debriefing of the Republican National Convention, a guest article from Honorary Denizen Janis Edwards and her students from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa on GOP spouses, and more. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well, where we’ll share some of our favorite online news and blog articles.

And……… RELAUNCH!

Pub Politics and the Presidency

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According to the White House website, President Obama had “no public schedule” yesterday. However, this didn’t stop the President from making a high-profile St. Patrick’s Day visit to a public establishment — specifically, the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub, a bar in Washington featuring basketball on TV and Guinness on tap. Joined by his distant Irish cousin from Moneygall, Ireland (where Obama’s maternal great-great-great-grandfather called home), Obama enjoyed a pint and the well-wishes of the patrons.

Of course, this was no spontaneous drop-in — impossible when you have a Secret Service detail who must secure any visit location at least days in advance. And of course this was a calculated election year photo opportunity. What’s interesting about this particular event is that it is not the first “spontaneous” presidential beer run, press corps in tow… just ask the regulars of the Eire Pub in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, who enjoyed a presidential pint visit in 1983 by a pioneer of contemporary televisual politics.

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Since When is Clint Eastwood a Democrat?

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And since when did Chrysler get in the candidate endorsement business?

Actually, neither supposition is accurate… making the brouhaha surrounding Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” Super Bowl TV commercial for Chrysler yesterday that much more amusing. Ah, the fights we find ourselves getting into. This seems to be a classic case where politicized punditry and social media combine to crystallize speculative reactions and transform them into a news story. How does this kind of a heated public debate over a non-issue happen?

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Factcheck.org’s Biggest Whoppers of 2011

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Just in time for Christmas (and the Iowa caucuses), the Annenberg Pubic Policy Center’s Factcheck.org presents its “Whoppers of 2011,” what they describe as “the year’s worst political deceptions, from both sides.”  Here’s their summary, as a teaser:

 

 

Despite what you may have heard in 2011:

  • The new health care law won’t cost many jobs (and they’ll be poorly paying jobs at that).
  • Republicans aren’t proposing to “end” Medicare (and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has signed onto a modified version of the GOP plan).
  • Most of the “millionaires” who would pay higher tax rates under a Democratic proposal aren’t job-creating small-business owners.
  • President Obama’s mother didn’t really fight to get health insurance coverage as she was dying.

And there was plenty more spin and deception in 2011. Obama claimed he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher. Michele Bachmann endorsed a claim that HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. Joe Biden claimed rapes quadrupled in Flint, Mich., after police layoffs. And that’s just some of the nonsense we debunked.

For our full run-down of the worst political whoppers we encountered during the year, please read on to the Analysis section. And get ready for more in the presidential election year that is about to begin.

Definitely worth a peek, courtesy of the best nonpartisan fact-checking researchers in the biz.

Juice: Perceptions of Power between Presidents and Congress

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Time and time again, I speak to my students about the importance of the perception of power to the institution of the Presidency.  The Founders of the United States never intended for Presidents or the overall institution of the Presidency to have the power and influence that is seen in the modern presidency.  Presidents and leaders in Congress have to manipulate perceptions of power as they approach election season.  Sometimes when I engage in discussions on these issues I talk to students about “juice.”

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Living With Legacies of the Civil War (Race & Inequality)

As was the case with many American wars, Blacks fought in the Civil War with hopes of equality afterward only to see the nation miss such an opportunity.

As was the case with many American wars, Blacks fought in the Civil War with hopes of equality afterward only to see the nation miss such an opportunity.

As I mentioned in a past post, there are currently missed opportunities to improve our nation. This is nothing new. When it comes to race, wealth and inequality in American politics and society; American history is littered with missed opportunities. The Civil War and it’s aftermath serve a one of many major moments of missed opportunity. After the war, which was fought in great part over the issue of slavery, reconstruction was prematurely halted and Blacks were given no opportunity to work on a level playing field when it came to working towards equality of opportunity in the political arena, economic arena and the social arena.

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Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks for America

If Ben Franklin had his way, this may be a Turkey with the Flag

This weekend as we transition from being thankful by eating more than we need to preparing for the birth of Jesus by spending money we may not have on things we may not need, we need to think about some of the good of America. So many times we focus on the bad. We focus on debt, political polarization, mulitiple wars, crime, hunger and other problems. What about all that has gone right in the United States and continues to go right?
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Black Politics In America: In Need of an Accelerator

Soledad O'Brien's latest piece can serve as inspiration for new tactics in encourage up and coming Black political leaders.


This brief holiday weekend has allowed me to catch up on some shows that have been sitting on my DVR for a while. I must admit that I watched some mindless material before getting to recordings with some substance. As I sat here watching CNN’s “Black in America: The New Promised Land- Silicon Valley” I was brought back to thoughts I have had a number of times in recent years about preparing Black folks and other underrepresented minority groups for the political arena. We need organized and systematic programs to accelerate the learning curve in politics and make access easier to come by for young people of color with drive, ambition and ideas.

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A New Political Landscape?

Sometimes the Denizens just want to pass along someone else’s analysis that makes a lot of sense. With the groggy post-turkey semi-coma at work, this is one of those times. In yesterday’s online New York Times “Campaign Stops” opinion section, former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich comments on the possibilities for the American political landscape, given the likelihood of continuing economic distress. This is a great, nonpartisan analysis — check it out.

A teaser: the anti-establishment core shared by both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, coupled with the low probability of bipartisan moderation in federal policymaking, will make things really interesting.