Friday, October 31, 2014

African American Columnists Roundup

Clarence Page writes about the bind the Republican Party is in with African American voters:

President Barack Obama’s election has inspired a record number of African-Americans to run for Congress. What’s surprising is that they’re running as Republicans.

Say what? Have Obama’s approval ratings been that shaky? Not quite. At this point we’re talking about African-Americans who merely have thrown their bonnets in the ring for the Republican nomination in their districts. Political oddsmakers don’t give many of them much of a chance to win.

That’s not something I celebrate, since I believe, as many of these candidates do, that black voters would benefit from having both parties compete for black support. But ever since the Grand Old Party’s ultraconservative tendencies in the 1960s and 1980s, many African-Americans don’t feel they left the party of Abraham Lincoln as much as the party left them.

Courtland Milloy writes about polling:

So, Mr. Poll, how are we the people feeling today?

Deeply divided over President Obama’s plan to improve health care, you say, while at the same time approving of how he wages war in Afghanistan. In other words, we aren’t quite sure how to go about saving lives but are pleased with how we go about killing.

Mr. Poll says: Americans are clueless.

For instance, 71 percent of us say the media did a bad job explaining the likely effects of health-care reform on “people like yourself” (Pew poll, March 23), and yet we somehow ended up knowing with remarkable certainty that health reform is bad. Or good.

As for the war, 53 percent of us say we do not always have enough background information to follow news about Afghanistan. (Pew, October). But not knowing what’s going on didn’t stop us from approving of what’s going on (Washington Post poll, March 28). Perhaps it’s the not knowing that allows us such contentment.

Colbert I. King remarks on the Tea Party and their similarities to hate and racist speech over the decades:

The angry faces at Tea Party rallies are eerily familiar. They resemble faces of protesters lining the street at the University of Alabama in 1956 as Autherine Lucy, the school’s first black student, bravely tried to walk to class.

Those same jeering faces could be seen gathered around the Arkansas National Guard troopers who blocked nine black children from entering Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957.

“They moved closer and closer,” recalled Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. “Somebody started yelling, ‘Lynch her! Lynch her!’ I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd — someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.”

Those were the faces I saw at a David Duke rally in Metairie, La., in 1991: sullen with resentment, wallowing in victimhood, then exploding with yells of excitement as the ex-Klansman and Republican gubernatorial candidate spewed vitriolic white-power rhetoric.

People like that old woman in Little Rock, the Alabama mob that hounded Autherine Lucy, the embracers of Duke’s demagoguery in Louisiana, never go away.

Michelle Singletary writes about the student loan reforms included in the new health care reform law:

Tucked inside the health-care reform law is significant financial relief for the millions of students who borrow to obtain a higher education.

No longer will private lenders play the middleman in federal student-loan transactions. As of July, all new federal loans will come directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

This doesn’t mean that private-sector student loans will go away. Many students use these higher-priced loans to bridge the gap between the annual limits for federal loans and the cost of college.

But I doubt that many students really care who issues their loans. Whether they borrow directly from Uncle Sam or from private lenders, they’ll still be stuck in debt bondage for decades. From 2000 to 2009, the amount of outstanding federal student loans alone more than quadrupled, from about $149 billion to about $630 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Still, there is something to trumpet about the provisions directed at higher education.

Bob Herbert writes about the urgency of facing unemployment so that it does not become a permanent fixture:

With the marathon effort to overhaul the health care system behind us, it is time for the Obama administration to move quickly and powerfully to the monumental task of putting Americans back to work.

The just-say-no crowd will insist that we can’t afford a real effort to revitalize employment, that budget deficits are too high, that the economy will recover without additional government stimulus, that the president has used up most of his political capital, and that there isn’t much that government can do under any circumstances to create jobs.

Meanwhile, the United States is in real danger of sinking into a long-term economic funk. The recession is not over for the nearly 15 million people who are unemployed. Many of them have been out of work for longer than six months, a seeming eternity. Widespread joblessness and underemployment are threatening to become permanent features of the American landscape, corroding not just our standards of living but the very vibrancy of the American way of life.

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