Thursday January 29, 2015
If there's one thing you can say about the 2016 Republican presidential field, it is this: It is going to be huge.
No protests, no chants and no bullhorn-amplified outrage echoed through the streets of Staten Island in the days after the world learned that there would be no criminal indictment in the death of Eric Garner.
But on Bay Street in Tompkinsville, on a sullen stretch of Staten Island sidewalk beneath a handwritten sign scrawled with the words "We Can't Breathe," 14 votive candles continued to burn in memory of Garner, 43.
President Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration has created quite a furor, and although the order was issued to solve the problem of congressional gridlock and millions of suffering people, our relationship to the floods of refugees from Central America has many beginnings. Here is one.
Last week we got an actually good employment report - arguably the first truly good report in a long time. The U.S. economy added well over 300,000 jobs; wages, which have been stagnant for far too long, picked up a bit. Other indicators, like the rate at which workers are quitting (a sign that they expect to find new jobs), continue to improve. We're still nowhere near full employment, but getting there no longer seems like an impossible dream.
Ever since George W. Bush in 2002 began driving up public frenzy for his invasion of Iraq on trumped-up justifications a year later, Congress's constitutional role to declare war has continued to be cold-shouldered.
As the tragic chokehold case of Eric Garner illustrates, police body cameras are not the solution to all police brutality complaints. But they can bring a much-needed clarity to what we're arguing about.
Unlike the recent death by police shooting of unarmed18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the police assault on unarmed Eric Garner, an asthmatic and diabetic, had a single narrative provided by the video.
There seems to be a new age of activism rising. From Occupy Wall Street, to the "Stop Watching Us" march against government surveillance, to the Moral Monday protests, to the People's Climate March, to the recent nationwide protests over the killings of men and boys of color by police, there is obviously a discontent in this country that is pouring into the streets.
November 2016 is still a long way off, but it's hard to imagine that the presidential campaign will provide any bit of advertising as strangely entertaining and revealing as a video put online recently by Stand With Hillary, a new super PAC.
Haven't seen it? Oh you must. Right now. I give you leave from this column to go take a look, but hurry back. There's a lot to talk about.
Along with falling leaves and first snows, it's time for my annual holiday gift guide, offering suggestions for presents with meaning.
At a time of racial division and inequity in America, Equal Justice Initiative, eji.org, fights on behalf of low-income people snared unfairly by the justice system. The group is led by Bryan Stevenson, an African-American lawyer whom Desmond Tutu has called America's Mandela.