Civil Rights

FISA Tears House

Peter Fenn & Frank Donatelli discuss the issues surrounding the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


Padilla and American Injustice

On Tuesday, Jose Padilla was sentenced to 17 years and four months in federal prison for conspiring to commit terrorism — even though the judge declared that the government failed to prove he was a terrorist to start with.

Most Americans don’t care. But they should. Here’s why.

When Padilla was arrested in May 2002. John Ashcroft accused him of carrying a “dirty bomb” into the United States.

Yet, even though he was an American citizen, Padilla was charged with no crime. Instead, he was labeled an “enemy combatant” and held and tortured in a Navy brig for three and a half years without being able to see a lawyer or defend himself in a court of law.

Martin Luther King Continues to Inspire

“I have a dream where all of God’s children are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream,”   1963

Forty-five years after these words were spoken, Dr. Martin Luther King’s words continue to inspire Americans from all walks of life.  The fact that the sentiment expressed above was controversial in the early 1960s but now is so universally shared indicates how far our country has come in our quest to implement Dr. King’s noble sentiments.

Don't Miss 'American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver'

Robert Sargent Shriver is a great man: a great friend, a great husband, father and patriot. His historic legacy is far-reaching; the lives he touched and made for the better are countless.

On Monday night, Jan. 21 — appropriately, Martin Luther King Day — PBS will be broadcasting a movie describing his remarkable life, "American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver," written, produced and directed by Emmy award-winning Bruce Orenstein. The PBS movie is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. PST — but check your local listings, since times might vary.

Three values of Sargent Shriver have dominated his career: civil rights for those who suffered the gross injustice of slavery and discrimination; public service by young people to help the poor and the uneducated abroad and at home; and, together with his great and wonderful wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, providing for the physically and mentally impaired through creating the Special Olympics, where tens of thousands of impaired children and adults have found dignity and self-respect on a truly level athletic playing field.

The Inconvenient First Amendment

This is going to have more disclaimers than a pharmaceutical ad.

* I have known Dennis Kucinich and been on friendly terms with him since he was a city councilman in Cleveland.

* I have appeared occasionally on MSNBC.

* For a very long time I have been part of the MSM.

* I don't know why, but the term "MSM" sounds kind of kinky to me.

Distortions and Misrepresentations

I really wanted to move off of this racial tension storyline, but it is even more outrageous today than it was yesterday — those comments by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) are astonishing.

With all due respect to Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a widely respected member of Congress of whom I am very fond, he owes apologies to BOTH Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Yesterday, as Obama was being the bigger boy and moving to tamp down the rhetoric on the race issue, Rangel went on television and got his facts disastrously wrong. He blamed Obama for starting the discussion (incorrect), saying that for Obama to "suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid." Also incorrect. But wait, he didn't stop there. "It's absolutely dumb to infer that Dr. King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law." Do I need to point out that this is also incorrect?

It is About Activism AND Political Power

Folks should read Joe Califano’s piece in today’s Washington Post to get some serious perspective on LBJ and Martin Luther King. His point: They worked together to achieve real change.

Folks should also read Robert Caro’s volume Master of the Senate about LBJ’s years as majority leader. It details his alliances with Hubert Humphrey and Northern liberals while bringing along Southern conservatives to pass civil rights legislation.

King and LBJ Were Civil Rights Partners

Two years ago, I had the honor of joining a congressional pilgrimage on civil rights, led by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). It was an unforgettable experience.

We went to Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma, Ala. We visited all the battlegrounds of the civil rights movement. We prayed and sang in every church where Martin Luther King preached. We visited the Rosa Parks Museum. We marched across the Edmund C. Pettis Bridge in Selma. Everywhere we went, civil rights leaders taught us about the marches, the songs, the protests, the violence, and the ever-present dream.

FISA Balancing Act

Peter Fenn & Frank Donatelli look at why Congress failed to act on FISA before the session ended and what needs to be reconciled before a deal is reached.


Tucker Carlson Says Al Gore Is Like George Bush

It had to be the most preposterous segment in the history of cable television to witness Tucker Carlson say Al Gore and George Bush have much in common.

Granted, Tucker’s comments were sandwiched between the expressions of sneering contempt that he holds for Gore. Sadly, the guests on the show either lacked the intellectual firepower or minimal courage necessary to rebut this incredibly bizarre and laughable analysis from the host.