I started this diary a few days ago. Like I've said before, I'm 60. I had a tweet come across my feed that took me too a link from Sen. Rodney Ellis, (D) TX. District 13, but I can't remember who it was from. We Shall Overcome 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
The Texas State Senator writes eloquently about what this means to him. However, and I don't think Sen. Ellis will mind, I was more taken with the power of the words of LBJ on this occasion.
I was going on eleven. I had just been through the Kennedy Assassination which in my Irish Catholic home was a very big deal. And as those friends who have known me the longest tell me I became political at an early age. Even at such an "innocent" age Presidents Johnson's word still came through.
Growing up in Maryland I had seen some pretty bad behavior towards the blacks whose neighborhood bordered ours.
Even in my own home I saw both the way it should be and the way it was. I saw my parents show great kindness and respect to blacks and then turn around later in the day and spout some of the most vitriolic racial slurs of the day towards others. We lived a very tone down version of the movie "The Help" in our row house neighborhood. Those women are to whom the kindness and respect went to because it was what came from them.
I guess after November 22, 1963 I became a news junky. To the point that I ghoulishly complained when I came home from mass that Sunday because I had just missed Lee Harvey Oswald being murdered live on TV. Even before that I had seen Bull Connor turn the fire hoses on the citizens of Birmingham. By then I knew who Medgar Evers was and how he died.
When President Johnson took to the airways on July 2, 1964 I understood the importance of his speech but more important I understood the rightness of the moral principals he was acting with. Johnson had not come from wealth like his running mate President Kennedy.
Were I able to magically be transported to W. 52nd St. N.Y., NY as head of CBS News I would be doing a Special 48 Hours centered around this monumental event. I would divide that show into three parts. Part one would be the reporting the days before the speech, part two would be the speech in its entirety, and the final part would be reaction to the speech then and how it compares to attitudes today. President Johnson's Remarks Civil Rights Act 1964
Maybe the farmer/cattleman/president from Stonewall, TX can reach those who today have a similar narrow-minded view point of what freedom means and towards the problems of Americans. We as a nation have in many ways accomplished Presidents Kennedy & Johnson's goals on race. There's just one problem. The modern GOP has a whole swatch of America thinking if not for those pesky Democrats we could have gone from 1957 straight to 1980, riding the last great wave of the industrial revolution to the coronation of Ronald Reagan just in time for the Go Go 90's.
We could have skipped Sputnik and spending all that money sending a man to the moon, we could have skipped lunch counter sit ins and speeches about dreams. We wouldn't have had to put up with Reagan's smelly hippies walking around with one shoe on, telling the government they can't wage war because they said they couldn't. No more expansion of rights, no women's liberation, and for God's sake certainly no gay liberation, or sex ed., or birth control. We saw that on display just this week at SCOTUS.
Listen to the rhetoric coming from the GOP & especially from the GOP's Tea Party faction, they think the worse thing that happened to America was the fulfillment of Kennedy & Johnson's dream of an America where a black man could be elected president. The worse thing to them that could happen is for the Democratic Party go on a run like during FDR's time where big business was forced to live by the axiom, "to whom much is given, much is expected."
The modern GOP no longer stands for the Grand Old Party, that party belonged to Lincoln, the other Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Today's GOP stands for the Guardians of Privilege, the party of Reagan, and the Bushes. But here's a history lesson. The Kennedy's and the Bush's have been having an ideological battle since the thirties.
During the thirties Joe Kennedy was trying to secure the stock exchange from the abuses that allowed him to amass his fortune. Prescott Bush was trying to continue to do business with the Third Reich. The difference then is the same as it is now. The Bush's and the GOP believe that if you give to the wealthy it eventually makes it down to the little fellow. Joe Kennedy knew and taught his family and by extension the Democratic Party that when you give money to wealthy people - they keep it - period. They may make sure that it passes on to their kids especially if possible without paying any tax on it. However, it damn well won't make it down to the help, to the workers, to the middle-class.
Those in America now who are waiting for their Rosa Parks' moment are immigrants, trying to escape the hell created by our war on drugs, and the addicts caught up in one hundred years of failed prohibitions.
Be sure I support immigration reform but one solution to that is to end the drug war that forces them into the clutches of the coyotes that smuggle their children here.
Addiction is a health crisis, an epidemic if you want. It was a crisis in 1914 when we tried to outlaw cocaine, it was a crisis when we tried to outlaw alcohol, and it was crisis when we passed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970. More importantly today is that addiction is a part of our larger problem of lousy mental healthcare.
Nearly everyday if you scan the newspapers available online you will find stories of someone who is mentally ill killing someone with a gun, or knife or some other lethal weapon. We focus on the gun crimes simply because a deranged person with a machete isn't likely to kill as many people as a madman with full auto AK-47 and extra large ammo clip.
Instead of getting on board to attack the problem from all sides with comprehensive gun laws to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns and aggressive mental health interdiction programs that make it easier for family members to get the help they know or suspect they need before someone gets a Berretta 9mm semi-automatic with 30 round clips, the GOP instead sides with the gun manufacturer's biggest lobbying outfit - the National Rifle Association. When we try to pass comprehensive gun regulation with the goal of getting to the "well regulated" called for in the 2nd Amendment, the GOP says it's mental health problem When we try to pass mental health programs they claim it's better we leave these things to the private sector. Not your private sector, or my private sector, only their private sector of Big Business & Big Faith.
Our treatment of the mentally ill is the next big American shame we need to address. We were doing this when in the 1980's Pres. Reagan and the GOP stopped federal spending on mental health care. Instead they populated our streets & our jails with mentally ill people and blamed their own failed drug war. Sound familiar, all this needs is Dick "the dick" Cheney to go on TV or write for the WSJ that this is all Pres. Obama's fault.
Wake up America! Addiction is a mental health problem. Stop imprisoning addicts for being addicts. One hundred years of prohibition should be long enough to learn the lesson that prohibition is not the solution; prohibition is the problem.