2015 State of the Union Speech

The president has just been introduced to a standing ovation. He just touted the low unemployment and lowered dependence on foreign oil.

he touting the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, but many will remain. “The state of the Union is strong.” No surprise there.Hhe said he will send a bill to congress filled with “practical ideas,” and then campaign across the country for them.

Now he is telling the story of a young woman who used a federal loan to go to community college.

He just claimed that this country is #1 in natural gas and wind power. He is still bragging. They are all clapping, but I saw a grumpy look on a Republican’s face. They need to grow up.

He is threatening veto for bills that “earned” it. Cheers!

He is once again talking abou Rebecca, the woman who went to community college.

He just defined middle class econmics as where everyone gets a fair chance. Good.

He just stressed the importance of affordable child care and that it should not be”treated as a side issue.” He has a plan that involves tax cuts, but  also advocates paid leave and asked for a bill. Wow!

Give “hardest working people in America a raise.” Advocates strengthening unions, helping workers improve their skills.

He just introduced his plan for free community college, and got a standing ovation from some. He asks that businesses provide more apprenticeships and more “educational benefits.” He also asks CEOs to her veterans, and to create jobs ” here in America.”

He is now talking about 21st Century Infrastructure.

Precision Medicine Initiative. He also says he will try to create an open internet. He talked about the new space program and TV showed Scott Kelly, who got a standing ovation.

He is now talking about the tax code.

he is no getting a standing ovation for vowing to hunt down terrorists. Predictable.

He is talking about the Islamic State, and unfortunately called ISIS. He wants authorization to use force against them. Ugh!

Now he touts his Cuba deal. “Congress should do the work of ending the embargo.” Interesting.

Ah! Now comes  a threat to veto any new Iran sanctions bill. Right on!

He says that our scientists, doctors and workers are rolling back Ebola. I hope so.

Great! He just pointed out that 2014 was the warmest year ever, chides deniers for dodging the facts. They say they “are not scientists” and neither is he but he believes in NASA and NOAA. So do I. The cheers!

He advocates the closure of Gitmo, to “finish the job.” Fantastic!

He talked about how gay right has gone from a wedge issue to a popular stand. The great John Lewis was shown by TV cameras participating in the standing ovation. Very moving.

He is talking about “a better politics.” Let’s see what he will propose:

– women’s access to health care

– immigration

“Surely we agree that the right to vote is sacred, and taks about Selma and Fergson.

Advocates reform of the criminal justice system. Very cautious, but that is life.

His only agenda is to “do what is best for America.” Tells Republcand he will seek it their ideas. Groan!

 

He finished with platitudes. It was fun to see the Republicans frowning; they are still the grumpy old party! This speech was speckled with bold initiatives but was also filled with platitudes and too cautious. Let us hope he will live up to his veto threats. We need a president who will fight the Republican majority in Congress.

 

 

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12 statements by Martin Luther King Jr. you won’t see conservatives post on Facebook today

12 statements by Martin Luther King Jr. you won’t see conservatives post on Facebook today. Today the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday was celebrated. Here in Gainesville we had a ceremony on the downtown, which is called the Bo Diddly Coomunity Plaza after rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, who was born in and lived much of his life in the area. The event, which drew a very large crowd, featured speakers, among them local politicians, the awarding of scolariships, and music. The program concluded with the crowd being led in singing the Negro National Anthem, the Hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (a tradition African-American spiritual). The powerful lyrics, written by James Weldon Johnson, were included in the program:

 

“Lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring. ring with the harmonies of Liberty; let our rejoicing rise High as list’ning skies, Let it resound loud as the roaring sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has tought us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day Begun, let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when Hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered; Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way, thou who hast by Thy might led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine Of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand. True to our God, True to our native land.”

 

(The music is by John Rosamond Johnson)

After the anthem was sung we left the Plaza and marched east to Waldo Road and then northeast up Waldo Road to the Martin Luther King Center. The throng filled the street. Two UU contingents we present: a few members of the UUFG and a few members of  the “Phoenix Rising” split off group, one end of whose banner I held up through most of the march.

It was  tremendous experience. The MLK holiday is definitely on the upswing, perhaps boosted by the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner cases. The one thing I was disappointed about was that so few tables were at they event: just a few businesses, people registering voters and the Civic Media Center tabled the event. The MLK observance should be teeming with tables from all progressive groups, political parties, and churches as the Earth Day festival and the Gay Pride march are. Perhaps one day it will be. In the meantime I will conclude with the words (I Dream A World) of the August bard Langston Hughes, one the best this country has ever had:

“I dream a world where man

No other man will scorn,

Where love will bless the earth

And peace its paths adorn

I dream a world where all

Will know sweet freedom’s way,

Where greed no longer  saps the soul

Nor avarice blights our day.

A world I dream where black or white,

Whatever race you be,

Will share the bounties of the earth

And every man is free,

Where wretchedness will hang its head

And joy, like a pearl,

Attends the needs of all mankind-

Of such a world I dream, my world!”

 

 

 

 

 

Today is MLK’s Birthday

imageimageimageimageIt is observed tomorrow, but the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, an American hero, was born on this day in 1929. On this important anniversary we at the UUFG honored King with a service dedicated to civil rights. Dr. Zohara Simmons, a veteran of the 1965 March in Selma, and Esther Wallace spoke. They both received standing ovations.

After the service, we had a discussion about the move “Selma” which a group of us saw yesterday. Several in the discussion group, including Dr. Zohara Simmons, who led the discussion, were veterans of the sixties civil rights movement. They thought all the portrayals of the African-American marchers were spot on save that of James Forman, who was portrayed by a man much younger than he was. He was a member of the SCLC and was older than many of the other marchers.

The film was also praised for portraying many African-American women who were in the movement, but faulted for not showing them speaking. Dr. Simmons stressed the importance of Annie Cooper, the woman portrayed powerfully by Oprah Winfrey. Cooper bravely tried to register to vote and was jailed for punching the sheriff. She lived to be 100. Simmons also pointed out that Amelia Boynton, portrayed powerfully by Lorraine Toussaint, is now 103 and still has a sharp mind.

A civil rights veterans who was at UF in the ’60s pointed out that a march occurred in St. Augustine in 1964. Those marchers were also beaten up by police. When the city celebrated it 400th anniversary in 1965, activists  tried to remind people of what had happen the year before.

SELMA

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Today a  group from the Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville (including this writer) and one person from the split off Phoenix UU group attended the 12:45 viewing of the acclaimed film “Selma”, which is about the marches Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King led in Selma, Alabama in 1965. It more than lived up to expectations. “Selma” is the most powerful film I have seen in a long time. It is inspiring and moving.

The portrayals of participants such as King, Correta Scott King, now-U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Abernathy, and others are  powerful. The attempts to cross the Edmund Pettis bridge are portrayed with particular intensity. The music score which includes “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and Bb Dylan’s “Masters of War” is moving. The film definitely succeeds in recreating the tenor of the times.

Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class | Alternet

Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class | Alternet.

This article from Alternet is very apt as the Republicans, now in control of the Senate, have begun their attack.  Cutting Social Security benefits, repealing “Obamacare”, wreakenig of regulations forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own work. This is a continuation of right-wing jihad against government.  A coalition of right-wing Christian fundamentalists and worshippers of the supposed “invisible hand” of  the market joined forces back then to eliminate everything that doesnot operate either for profit or for “God.”  Progressives must stop bickering and band together to fight this menace.

FEC Taking a Comments on Disclosure Laws

http://act.commoncause.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=7387&em_id=3487.5

The Federal Election Commission is seeking comments on how to improve regulations governing disclosure of campaign contributions until January 15 (next Thursday). This is our chance to push for them to require full disclosure, which the public has a right to. With the DISCLOSE Act stalled in the Congress, FEC action is imperative and urgent. Please use the above link to find the  link to the appropriate FEC page.

In related news, according to Common Cause an anti-corruption ballot referendum passed in Tallahassee, Florida. According to represent.us, the margin was approximately 2 to 1. Finally, according to the Huffington Post, the anti-corruption act includes:

  • lower limits on campaign contributions
  • a citizen-funding system
  • an independent authority to investigate campaigns.

This is a major victory, and by all accounts it was won with a left-right coalition that actually included members of the Tea Party. Hopefully it is the first of many triumphs. Democracy, fairness, and decency demand it.

Marriage Equality Rules!

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Marriage equality became the rule in all 67 of the counties of Florida today! Even rogue AG Pam Bondi had to concede the inevitability of this development and wished couples well. Clerks in some counties have resorted to ceasing to perform marriages at all, but they are still required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Now we need a statewide ENDA in Florida and one nationwide. Rights for transgendered people are also essential.

Marriage equality is also sweeping the country, as the above chart from thenewcivilrightsmovement.com shows. They estimate that 70% of gay men and lesbians in this country live in a place where same-sex marriage is legal. Sometimes the “good guys” win in the end.