The Starting Line – Obama’s Second Term: Will Reactionaries Turn the Dream into a Nightmare?

by on January 21, 2013 · 10 comments

in Columns, Government, Politics, The Starting Line

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By Doug Porter

It was a busy weekend, chock full of news. President Obama took the oath of office Sunday, as required (today’s festivities are merely a show), hundreds of thousands of American participated in Days of Service, tens of thousands of guns rights-types rallied for Guns Across America/Gun Appreciation Day, five people were killed in New Mexico by a teenager wielding a semi-automatic rifle and five gun enthusiasts were wounded by accidental discharges of firearms at guns shows around the country.

Let’s start with the gun shows.  Three people were wounded Saturday at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina. From WTVD News:

The Dixie Gun and Knife Show will continue as planned but there will be no private gun sales allowed, and personal guns will not be allowed on property. Gun sales will be allowed only by licensed dealers within the confines of the Jim Graham Building.

Agency spokesman Brian Long says a 12-gauge shotgun discharged while its owner, 36-year-old Gary Lynn Wilson, of Wilmington, unzipped its case for a law enforcement officer to check it at a security entrance.

Three people were injured when the gun went off, officials said, including a retired Wake County Sheriff’s deputy working the show.

‘Accidental’ shootings also occurred in Media, Ohio and Indianapolis.

Five Dead in Latest Mass Shooting

Gun-Appreciation-DayA church pastor, his wife and three children were found dead on Saturday in South Valley, a community just south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. From the ABQ Journal:

All victims appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Multiple weapons appeared to have been used including an assault-type rifle. The investigation is ongoing and the identities of the victims have not been release, officials said.

A male juvenile is in custody and is being charged with two counts of murder, and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.

‘The Second Amendment Comes from God’

Pro gun forces rallied around the country on Saturday, reacting to the White House’s recent pushes for tighter gun control in the wake of a series of horrifying shootings. Most of the demonstrations consisted of a couple of hundred people rallying in state capitals. Larger events occurred in Albany, New York (where stringent measures were signed in law this week by Gov. Cuomo), Connecticut and Austin, Texas.

The protests came just one day before Obama and Biden were sworn in for their second term in office, and coincided with the Martin Luther King holiday.  Many have criticized the pro-gun protesters’ poor timing as lining up with MLK day:

“President Obama may be their target, but today’s organizers shot their cause in the proverbial foot,” wrote the Orlando Sentinel. “Let us remember King, who indelibly changed this nation through nonviolent means, was killed by an assassin’s bullet. […] Protecting the Second Amendment is one thing. Showing one’s ignorance of American history and the life — and death — of a great man is something else entirely.” 

Protest organizers were unmoved by these complaints.  Protest leader Larry Ward told CNN, “I think Martin Luther King Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

From the Associated Press:

Meanwhile, the crowd in Austin swelled to more than 800 amid balmy temperatures on the steps of the pink-hued Capitol, where speakers took the microphone under a giant Texas flag with “Independent” stamped on it. Homemade placards read “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,” “The Second Amendment Comes from God” and “Hey King O., I’m keeping my guns and my religion.”

“The thing that so angers me … is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them,” said state Rep. Steve Toth, referencing last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

MLK Day in Conserv Fantasyland

gop fantasy landIn an effort to shore up their cred with minorities, conservatives have turned history on its head. They are now making claims that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was actually a conservative.

From CNN:

As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it’s time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was “fundamentally conservative.”

While he was alive Dr. King was disparaged by conservative types early and often as a Communist, outside agitator, and rabble-rouser. The thinking on the right seems to be that King’s encouragement of self-help and his deeply religious background can be invoked as a counter-argument against progressive values.

Again, from CNN:

Most historians think King was getting more radical, not conservative, at the end of his life.

King concluded that racism wasn’t the only problem: War and poverty were the others. He came out against the Vietnam War. He called for the nationalization of some industries and a guaranteed annual wage.

His most audacious plan was a forerunner of today’s Occupy Movement. By 1968, King was preparing to lead a “Poor People’s Campaign” to Washington. A coalition of poor blacks, Native Americas, Latinos and whites from Appalachia would occupy Washingtonand force the government to take money spent on Vietnam and use it instead to combat poverty. The campaign muddled on after King’s assassination, but quickly fell apart without his leadership.

Meanwhile, the Day of Service Went On…

In 2009 President Obama instituted a National Day of Service leading up to observances of Martin Luther King Day around the country. People were encouraged to volunteer in their communities for activities that would encourage citizen participation.

“America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together,” Obama said on Jan. 4, in a White House press release.

Here’s a run down of activities in San Diego.

The Obama-King Connection

Barack Obama and Martin Luther King.It’s inevitable that the chattering classes and the talking heads will try to draw comparisons between Dr. King and President Obama today. The fact that the inaugural festivities are happening on the day set aside to honor Dr. King guarantees this; after all these people must have something to fill air time other than actual discussions about policy.

From the Washington Post:

The Obama-King moment is already imbued with a palpable resonance. “It is all so very deep to me,” said Clarence B. Jones, who in 1963 helped King draft his luminous “I Have a Dream” speech that he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, opposite the Mall from the Capitol, where Obama will deliver his second inaugural address.

In the days leading up to the inauguration, Jones found himself in the throes of writing a letter to the president. “I’m going to ask him, ‘If you could just pause during your speech on Inauguration Day and look at the Lincoln Memorial, and then in the direction of the King Memorial, and say as you are taking the oath of office, “Martin, this one’s for you,” ’ ” he said.

Obama’s second inauguration comes in a season decorated with other cultural touchstones related to African American history. The nation is honoring the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. One of the more popular movies on screens has been the Steven Spielberg directed “Lincoln,” which chronicles the struggle to abolish slavery.

 I suspect that some of these media-types covering the inauguration are going to go overboard with this meme. So I’ll add my two cents.

President Obama and Dr. King are vastly different human beings. There have been and there will continue to be many comparisons of Obama to King and they will all be false. America is in love with symbolism no matter how incorrect or wrong.  While both the President’s victories are a direct result of the work of Dr. King, I doubt that the Reverend would endorse many White House policies. The drone war in Pakistan is but one example that comes to mind.

The real issue for this country is whether or not we’re going to walk down the path towards social justice forged by MLK or whether reactionaries will obstruct our nation’s progress.

Vista Group Protests Outrageous Police Beating

vistaLast month Vista resident Antonio Martinez was minding his own business, walking to work in his family’s bakery.  He never made it. He ended up battered and bruised in the Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, facing charges of obstruction of justice after being beaten by a county sheriff’s deputy.

Saturday group of concerned residents calling themselves North County Coalition of Concerned Citizens protested in Vista to protest the beating. They called for the deputy involved in the incident to be punished and for an end to law enforcement abuse in Vista and the North County.

Martinez is 21 years old, stands all of 4’11” and weighs 158 pounds. He is developmentally challenged with Downs Syndrome. On December 18th he was approached by Deputy Jeffrey Guy who was responding to what was later determined to be an unfounded domestic violence call. They asked him to stop and when he didn’t, used pepper spray on Martinez and then struck him with a baton, which sent him to the ground. Martinez was then handcuffed. A witness said that she told the deputy that Martinez had a disability several times before and during the confrontation.

Here’s the capper for the story, from Sunday’s UT-San Diego:

Last month, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell called the incident “a mistake” and said Vista sheriff’s Capt. Joe Rodi visited the family and apologized. He offered the family a turkey, which they refused.

Coalition members say that this incident is the latest in a series of violent actions by the Vista Sheriffs Dept against the Latino community.  In 2005, deputies shot to death three unarmed Latino youths.

Subsequently, deputies tazed to death Martin Mendoza after he had called them for help from a public telephone. An autopsy showed that his body had been badly burned by a tazer gun.

“We need to stop this out of control behavior before more people are harmed”, said Dr.  Fredi Avalos, a local human rights activist. “Latinos in the community do not feel safe.”

“This case is a symptom of a deeply rooted culture of violence within the Vista Sheriffs Dept, which has been ignored by our elected city officials”, added Mark Day, a community activist.  “We hold them responsible for our safety.”

Vista attorney J. Edward Switzer Jr. is representing the Martinez family in a lawsuit against the Vista Sheriffs Dept.

We Don’t Need More Power Plants, Redux

savemissiontrailsDespite public hearings and repeated rulings against the construction of gas-fired power plants in Pio Pico, Quail Brush and Escondido, a final hearing on these plans from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has been delayed twice as industry lobbyists have schemed to find a way to circumvent public opinion.

More than 8,000 Californians have contacted the CPUC to support the Proposed Decision regarding three un-needed power plants in San Diego County. The Proposed Decision, if adopted on January 24, can prevent the emission of over 900,000 annual tons of greenhouse gases by denying purchase power tolling agreements. The most significant of these plants are Pio Pico, estimated to release 685,000 annual tons of GHGs and Quail Brush with over 200 annual tons.

If SDG&E/Cogentrix manage to overturn previous rulings, the public will be saddled with at least $1.2 billion in construction and finance costs for Pio Pico and Quail Brush in exchange for only 23 permanent jobs, while in contrast, a San Diego Energy District planned to accelerate the adoption of distributed roof top solar can create thousands of clean energy jobs that keep funds circulating locally.

Opponents of the power plants are urging people to contact Gov. Brown to speak on behalf of the public interest and to relieve the pressure on the CPUC to rewrite their decision.  You can email him here.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Grounding

There’s been plenty of coverage locally about difficulties with Boeing’s airliner of the future, mostly because direct air service from San Diego to Japan has been suspended. The reports I’ve heard all have an optimistic tone that the issues can be quickly resolved. But maybe not. From theGuardian:

There is a burnt-out metal box at the National Transportation Safety Board’s offices in Washington that once housed what may well prove to be the most expensive battery in history. The charred metal box housed a lithium-ion battery that once powered the auxiliary power unit on a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. That plane, one of 50 in service of the 850 sold so far, caught fire at Logan International Airport in Boston earlier this month. The same kind of battery is thought to have led to the grounding of a Nippon Airways flight this week. That plane was forced to make an emergency landing after a burning smell was detected in the plane’s cabin.

Boeing’s battery woes are the latest in a series of problems to have beset the Dreamliner. Such problems have led to a global grounding of the aircraft, including all US-registered 787s, and a wide-ranging Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation, the first time in four decades that it has pursued such drastic action.

But the Dreamliner’s problems are not just a Boeing issue. They are a lesson in the limits of outsourcing and the all too cosy relationships between regulator and regulated that have caused problems across industries from automotive to food and financial services in recent years.

Tweet of the day:

Nice. During the swearing-in, the GOP will observe a Moment of Not Introducing Bill To Repeal Obamacare.

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) January 20, 2013


On This Day: 1997 – Newt Gingrich was fined as the House of Representatives voted for first time in history to discipline its leader for ethical misconduct.  1977 –  President Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam War draft evaders. 1987 – Aretha Franklin inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013 and 2014. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park. NEW: Ello contact @dougbob
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avatar bob dorn January 21, 2013 at 8:51 am

Aviation industry people have been talking to the press about Boeing’s reliance on cheaper parts contracts abroad to produce the Dreamliner. The exportation of so many jobs produced more than the usual production line mistakes, with the result that when parts and partially assembled equipment reached Boeing in this country there were numerous misfit elements. Engineers had to redesign seals and fittings, or send back the materials for correction, and Boing pushed an overwhelmed FAA for approvals. So the story goes.

avatar Anna Daniels January 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

Four years ago I watched Obama’s first inauguration speech and felt such a sense of relief that theBush-Cheney years were over. That sense of relief quickly turned to horror at the immediate response of hatred and obstructionism on the right. In case anyone has forgotten how ugly and how obstructionist, Joan Walsh at Salon takes us down memory lane. http://tinyurl.com/b3vr7y3
The hatred and obstructionism has not abated. It is what the right does, and the only thing the right does when it is out of power. The only antidote is to remind them that they lost, they were voted out of power and that elections have consequences. Which means that citizens have an obligation to say get out of the way, we have work to do.

avatar Goatskull January 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

Unfortunately it goes with the territory. No matter what side of the political spectrum someone is on, if they are going to be vocal about their political beliefs then there will always be negative reactions, and in times like these those reactions can be severe.

avatar Anna Daniels January 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Goatskull- what has been consciously orchestrated by the right over the past four years should put the “both sides do it” argument to rest. I haven’t seen anything like this except for the Clinton years (shut down gov’t, impeachment proceedings, conspiracy theories, etc), which was the last time the right wing was out of power. No, both sides don’t do that.

avatar Goatskull January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I was really talking more on an average person level. I’ve been called all kinds of hateful names in recent years and have learned to take it with a grain of salt (sort of). Likewise people who I agree with politically have used some pretty salty language to describe others they disagree with.

avatar JEC January 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

The grade school reactions can be expected from the ill-informed – not from fellow elected officials. It’s always been that way – the rational used to justify crude behavior. No it hasn’t always been that way – sure, there were times when the President had to take the seat of office with the help of a few rifles and pistols, sure there are folks with terrible motives and bad attitudes, but at one time they were rejected – by both sides of the aisle.

avatar Goatskull January 21, 2013 at 11:47 am

In fact last weekend I witnessed an unlucky bar patron in PB get punched by some inebriated off duty Marines because of expressing views about gun control. Things get very ugly sometimes.

avatar JEC January 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm

My point – a cement headed jarhead lacking in discipline and self-control. My, what has happened to our Marines?

avatar Goatskull January 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Well I don’t think that these individuals represent the majority. I didn’t stick around long enough to see the final outcome, but if anyone called the police on these guys I can be pretty sure they will be kicked out very quickly.

avatar JEC January 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Actually, neither do I. PB does have a reputation, sadly. Might say that Marine was unable to make his point any other way. But among those who offer leadership, name calling in place of reason – I call it “the nasty as I can be syndrome” – is, I believe, a dodge, a cover for their inability to reason. Like the Marine. No doubt bad behavior has been tolerated and has become common place and we are less for it. Civility starts at home. I agree with Anna that the scales of incivility are not equal – in the last 20 years showing disrespect and using personal insults have become central to the messianic right’s character.

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