Will GOP Jihad Dethrone Charles Rangel?

Don’t bet on it. The Republicans have a two pronged approach to dealing with the Manhattan Congressman’s admitted bookkeeping lapses. On the one hand, they would revel in the chaos that would follow if they were successful in forcing him out as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. At the same time, they’d like nothing better than to use Congressman Rangel as a symbol or litmus test in next year’s congressional elections.

Neither will work. They’ve already tried to pass a resolution calling on Rangel to step down.

It failed miserably. Now, one of the congressmen leading the GOP jihad, John Carter of Texas, has had to admit to failing to disclose nearly $300,000 in profits from oil stock sales in 2006-2007.

Congressman John Carter, Texas
Congressman John Carter, Texas

While some might look at this as the height of hypocrisy, Carter and his friends in the House say they’ll press on trying to push Charles Rangel out as chair of Ways and Means.

As is typical when the pot calls the kettle black, Republicans try to differentiate between Carter’s failure to disclose and Rangel’s.

It doesn’t hold water, and they know it. But they press on, because in  the end they have little else to run on next year but the twin fears of Charlie Rangel and Barack Obama. Now be honest. Other than the nonsensical effort to insert health insurance co-ops in place of a public option, what new ideas have you heard from Congressional Republicans?

The answer is few if any. In fact, Charles Rangel has introduced and helped pass more legislation important to the American people than all his detractors combined.

Charles-Rangel

He has admitted to sloppy record keeping. It was Charles Rangel who asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate him, and it was Charles Rangel’s forensic accountants that found the tax and disclosure discrepancies in the first place.

So let John Boehner and John Carter do their worst. Charles Rangel has a distinguished history of service to his country (as a US marine) and his congressional district (take a walk through Harlem if you don’t believe me).

demchairs

The Ways and Means Committee is one of the most powerful in Congress. That’s why they’re trying to take Charlie Rangel down.

Expressions of support, now a whisper, will turn into a deafening roar. Republicans will have to come up with more than just nit-picking to explain their own ethical problems. And in the end, no matter what you think of the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, he’ll prevail.

That’s what I think. How about you?

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Do Racists Have a Right to Speak?

Thursday night I did a segment on BBC Five Live centered around a guy named Nick Griffin. For those Americans who don’t know who he is, Griffin is the head of the British National Party.

He’s also a member of the European Parliament.

To put it bluntly, Griffin and his party espouse a crude form of nationalism that has been called racist, Anti-Semitic, Islamaphiobic, homophiobic (gee, have I left anything out?), you get the picture.

Nick Griffin
Nick Griffin

Earlier Thursday, Griffin appeared on the BBC program “Question Time”. His appearance sparked angry protests, with about 25 people breaking through barricades at the BBC’s London TV studios. Suffice to say Griffin was taken to task for his views, so much so that he’s complaining about the program, and demanding to come back on in a different format. Ironically, the show drew four times as many viewers as normally watch it, the Jon and Kate effect, if you will.

So what was I asked to talk about on a BBC radio show? The links between Nick Griffin and our own home grown racist-Anti Semite, David Duke. They are linked, through an appearance they made together back in 2000.

David Duke chilling out with Nick Griffin
David Duke chilling out with Nick Griffin

They’re also linked by a shared desire to achieve their racist ends through the acquisition of political power. Duke, you may remember, is the former member of the KKK who went on to become a member of the Louisiana state legislature. He also made unsuccessful runs for President, the House, and Senate. Duke understood. as does Griffin, that wearing Klan robes and reading Mein Kampf  won’t win the kind of support necessary to create the lily white world they want.

So they use the tools at their disposal. They run for political office, and demand fairness and accuracy in reporting their philosophy from a media both claim is dominated by Jews and other liberals. The question becomes to what extent do they have the same right to speak as anyone else? Are protesters acting properly when they demand that Nick Griffin not be allowed on the BBC? Does giving the Griffins and David Dukes a platform in the mainstream actually lend credibility to their organizations and views?

My older brother Clayton (who passed away a year ago tomorrow- RIP) once told me you can’t be halfway for the First Amendment. His position was that the cure for racist speech was better speech to drown it out. I have a hard time disagreeing with this line of thinking. Once you start saying people have no right to express their thoughts, no matter how obnoxious, where do you draw the line?

You tell me. Should racists like David Duke and Nick Griffin be given mainstream airtime?

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Can CBO News Boost the Public Option?

We’ve been hearing for quite awhile now that adding a public option to healthcare reform would break the bank. “More than a trillion dollars!!!” lawmakers screamed. And many of them were Democrats. Now comes word that a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office puts the cost of a House Democratic bill with a public option at $871 billion.

For those who like to count numbers, that’s less than the $900 billion dollar cap set by President Obama in his address to a joint session of Congress last month. But wait, there’s more good news. The Democrats’ version would also reduce the deficit in the first 10 years. The CBO report is due to drop Wednesday, and its ramifications could be far reaching. It gives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi much more ammunition in trying to get a bill with a strong public option through the House.

For reasons best known to themselves, so-called “blue dog” Democrats in the House have been arguing for the lame, government run insurance plan promoted by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Published reports say that plan won’t save as much as the one with the public option. So what will be their excuse now? Speaking of which, when will President Obama get behind the public option, for real?

We’ve said this before. Barack Obama says he favors reform with a public option. Yet he hasn’t put the full weight of his office behind it, and he lets some of his aides equivocate when asked about it. As the late Jim Morrison once opined, “The time for hesitation’s through. No time to wallow in the mire”. Let’s put this bluntly. If President Barack Obama wants to leave a lasting presidential legacy, this is it. Time to get off the dime, Mr. President. The numbers favor you, and those members of the House who have fought hard to provide adequate, affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Let the Rush Limbaughs, the Glenn Becks, the Sean Hannitys do their best. They can’t impugn the integrity of the CBO. They use numbers from the agency when it suits their purpose. Do they really want to cry socialist forever? There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the public option, but it’s not law yet. Those who favor it, and many have been doing yeoman work in their advocacy, need to raise their voices even louder.

And I’m not just talking about well known people. I’m talking about the folks who send healthcare messages in every Facebook post they make, the people who keep it alive on Twitter, the underground majority who get that this is a matter of national pride, and can’t be left to the loud, the selfish, the lawmakers whose votes are bought and paid for.

I, for one, am optimistic the public option will become law. How about you?

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