Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, August 9, 2013

Speaking of Political Polarization...

Following up on my reflections after watching the documentary film The Act of Killing and thinking about it all last weekend, I find the nature of protests outside of Desert Vista High School on Tuesday -- when President Obama spoke in Phoenix on ideas for reforming the home mortgage financing industry -- particularly disturbing.

Protest messaging came both from the Right and Left, but that from the Right was cause for concern.
Racially-charged sentiment infused the protests and split the crowd both politically and physically. Obama supporters congregated on the west side of the road in front of the high school and his critics lined up across the street.
Obama foes at one point sang, "Bye Bye Black Sheep," a derogatory reference to the president's skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, "Impeach the Half-White Muslim!"
Many on both sides wore red, white and blue and carried small flags.
“It just kind of happened naturally,” said Michael Pomales of how the opposing sides separated. Pomales, an 18-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident who graduated in the spring from Desert Vista High, said he decided to join the protesters side “to spread a little love” as the crowds began shouting at each other.
Pomales said his response to people yelling for Obama to go back from where he came from is simple: “He’s a great man. He cares about what I care about, education, jobs. He’s our president. He’s an American.”
Deanna Bartram, a 17-year-old University of Arizona student from Black Canyon City, lashed out at people who call her racist for not supporting Obama. She believes Obama supporters use the “race card” against her because they disagree with her political message.
“Obama is ruining American values. He is ruining the Constitution. He needs to go back to where he came from because obviously, he is a liar,” she said. “I am not racist. I am part Indian. Obama’s half Black, half White.”
“He’s 47 percent Negro,” shouted Ron Enderle, a 77-year-old Chandler resident who said that he and his son served as Marines and his grandson is currently serving in the Marines. Enderle criticized the president mishandling security at the U.S. Benghazi Embassy...
Judy Burris said that she blames Obama for racism in America reaching heights not seen since the 1960s Civil-Rights Era.
“We have gone back so many years,” she said. “He’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.”
Since I attended the event INSIDE at Desert Vista High School, I was able to get some pictures to tell the story (posted for my friends on Facebook). I gladly share with you the last one I took, as I was leaving the school. It is an important message to students at Desert Vista and all Arizonans.


In spite of that message, or perhaps further highlighting the need for it, we should be vigilant and aware that potential for political and racial bias still lingers, especially in Arizona. Do we forget the horrendous legacy of racial violence in America?
President Barack Obama’s choice of Myrlie Evers-Williams to deliver the invocation at his second inauguration shifts the nation’s gaze on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ever so gently from the euphoric post-racialism of a black presidency to a legacy of racial violence that has not yet been put to bed, as it also signals, perhaps, the president’s intention to devote public space to this still unsettled issue.
Clearly, for the majority of American voters last November, we are a post-racial America. Of course, not all of those who voted against Obama's re-election continue to embrace racial polarization. But can one be anything but willfully ignorant of current events and the political and social mood throughout the country if they remain unaware of the many who tenaciously hold onto race based fear and anger?

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This leads to my concern about an upcoming town hall event being organized by four Republican members of Arizona's Congressional delegation (Gosar, Salmon, Schweikert and Franks) billed as a Congressional Field Hearing, The I.R.S. and the E.P.A. bureaucrats out of control?

A scant two years ago, without warning, opponents of independent redistricting in Arizona organized substantial, sustained and often raucous "participation" in business meetings and open hearings conducted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

My question to the Congressmen (one of which, David Schweikert, represents the district in which I reside) is whether they purposely intend to foment hatefulness toward the President or will they claim they had no idea Arizonans already felt so strongly about what they contend is the "intrusiveness" of the Obama administration.

Just today, news comes that Maryland GOP Congressman Andy Harris held such a town hall.
A Maryland town hall meeting grew heated Tuesday, when GOP Rep. Andy Harris faced disgruntled constituents angry over partisan politics fraying the country and the perceived lack of Republican action to fix problems.
At a packed gathering in Bel Air, voters voiced their discontent on topics ranging from the Benghazi attack to National Security Agency surveillance to health care reform. Some demanded that Republicans do more to pressure President Barack Obama and Democrats to change the direction of the country.
"I want [House Speaker John] Boehner up there defying this guy and saying, 'We're going to impeachment with you' if you do not start obeying the laws," attendee Ed Hunter declared. "Listen, we're dying out here because you guys are being nice guys!" he later added
This is NOT rocket science. The outcome of the dog and pony show they are putting a pretty bow on and calling a "Congressional Field Hearing" IS a foregone conclusion. One aspect of that conclusion is the inevitable raising of hateful voices demanding removal of Barack Obama from office.

Just how will these Arizona Congressmen try to avoid responsibility for what will most assuredly become an angry mob?

How much security will they have at the event? Will they allow people to "pack heat," or will they have to go through metal detectors?

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By the way, I called David Schweikert's office to talk with district director Kevin Knight about the upcoming Congressional Field Hearing and was told that he was just wrapping up a meeting and would call me soon thereafter. When I had not heard from him by 5:05pm, I called again. The office apparently stops answering the phone at 5pm. The option is given to leave a voice mail message. When I waited to leave such a message, I was informed that the mail box is full... so, never mind.

Disappointing, to say the least.

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When I posted the news item about Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, to Facebook, Steve Brittle, long-time environmental activist and chair of Don't Waste Arizona made this comment:
These four Congressman will blame EPA for something the Congressmen alone have the power to fix. EPA is a regulatory agency that is charged with implementing the requirements of the Clean Air Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. After 20 years of not doing what was required about the Navajo Generating Station's emissions, EPA was sued and is under federal court order to do something to reduce the NGS' emissions. If these Congressman were trying to do anything constructive, they could introduce bills to modify the Clean Air Act's requirements that are subject of the court's order. It's not Obama's fault; he can't introduce a bill in Congress. Of course, these Congressmen would never introduce legislation like that because it wouldn't pass. Hence the bogus blame game charade.
I understand and for the most part agree with Brittle's comment. But it looks like the primary purpose of the town hall, as it relates to the Navajo Generating Station is to put complaints on a Congressional hearing record to put pressure on the EPA.

Power Engineering magazine's website has a June 28, 2013 item
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period for an emissions control plan for the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, according to a report from the Associated Press.
According to the report, the EPA has proposed that nitrogen oxide emissions at the power plant be cut by 84 percent within 10 years, but stated it was open to hearing alternatives to help improve air quality at places like the Grand Canyon as part of the agency’s regional haze regulations.
Salt River Project, the plant’s operator, asked for additional time to propose other options. The EPA has set a new deadline for public comment of Oct. 4, the Associated Press reported.
Nevertheless, since the August 22nd hearing also will address recent complaints regarding the Internal Revenue Service, I don't see how the Congressmen will keep it from devolving into nothing but an Obama hate fest.

We can also expect to see state Rep. Kelly "Crazy-lady" Townsend (R-Gilbert), who a few months ago was saying she intended to file suit against the IRS for challenging the tax-exempt status of her Tea Party non-profit (about which she is on record, several times on YouTube, boasting of the partisan political activities of that organization).

And hence the political (and race-based) polarization in Arizona will be further exacerbated.

Shouldn't we instead be expecting our elected US lawmakers to be working constructively toward solutions everybody can live with?

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