Some Thoughts On Martin Luther King Day From The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Himself

There is really nothing I can say about what the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was trying to teach us all and motivate us all to accomplish that he did not say himself. Given that reality, here he is in his own words. The Other America (1967):

The Three Evils of Society (1967):

Beyond Vietnam (1967):

Finally, as I wrote in last year’s Independence Day post, during the years prior to the Great Rebellion, America abolitionists rewrote the lyrics to My Country Tis of Thee. This abolitionist variant, done in a minor key, becomes a haunting spiritual begging the divine providence cited by the Founders in the Declaration, Constitution, and their other writings to finally bring liberty to all. This variant is below:

I will only say, in honor of the day and the man it is named after, that if one is not considered equal, then none of us are equal. And if one is not free, none of us are free. That has always been the challenge of America’s ideals versus America’s reality. It is up to us to do the hard work, small and large, to bridge that gap and to truly form a more perfect Union. Open thread!



Here’s a Little Bit of Hope on What Seems to be a Hopeless Night

 

Between the racks of canned beans and rolls of toilet paper in a bodega in Borough Park, Brooklyn, a staircase hides beside the shelves.

It leads to a cavern where, for the past 14 years, the bodega owner has quietly housed scores of homeless men, some with violent pasts and mental illness. He takes them in, from local park benches and street corners, unable to bear the idea of anyone out in the cold.

Here, beneath the shelves of instant soup and paper towels is an unauthorized shelter in its most primal form — a dank unfinished basement, cavelike and fetid, where the men sleep on pallets amid pools of dark water on the cement floor.

But there is real warmth, the men say. It comes from behind the deli counter, where seven days a week, stands the welcoming bodega owner, Candido Arcángel.

The shop is zoned for commercial use, and the basement does not have the required certificate of occupancy to permit people to live there. Mr. Arcángel has not made the necessary applications to the Department of Buildings to convert it into habitable space, which would require an inspection to determine if it is safe to do so.

The absence of permits has not deterred Mr. Arcángel, who says his reasoning for opening his basement to the homeless is simple. “Because they don’t have,” he said. “And I do.”

Mr. Arcángel recognizes the limitations of the crude shelter he provides; its rawness, he imagines, will prevent anyone from getting too comfortable. He aspires to be a way station for men who don’t get such things, but he fears his refuge becoming a crutch. “I tell them this: “Gentlemen, here, there’s no way out,” he said. “‘Take off like a dove, flying. You’ll learn to fly on your own. When I die, where will you go?’”
Here’s the kicker:

Mr. Arcángel grew up in the Dominican Republic, with dreams of becoming a baseball player. He played professionally on a Venezuelan team for one year, he said, before a shoulder injury ended his career and he left for America in 1989. It was his experience as a boy playing on teams — where children from working-class families like himself played alongside street children — that showed him how providing some structure, even in the form of uniforms, bats and gloves, transformed his teammates’ lives.

“These youths that were lost, you have to find them, and bring them in, so they could love God,” he said. “This is not a personal mission; it’s a mission for the good of society.”

That’s right, Mr. Arcángel immigrated from a country the President no doubt considers a shithole. Yet it is Mr. Arcángel who is doing his part to maintain and extend America’s civil society, not tear it down through petty bigotry.

Stay frosty (and warm)!

Open thread.



The Follow on Effects of the Weinstein Sexual Assault Allegations

As I’ve written in comments a couple of times over the last few days, I think from early indications from reporting coming out of some state capitols, that you’re going to see allegations of sexual improprieties wash through elected and appointed officials in the states and at the Federal level. This is going to get real ugly real fast once momentum picks up. What I think we’re going to see is three different types of allegations. There will be allegations dealing with sexual predation – harassment, assault, rape. There will also be allegations dealing with infidelity leading to calls of hypocrisy, with some of the infidelity involving lobbyists leading to accusations of sex for favors. Finally, there will be allegations of officials, elites, and/or notables who are closeted LGBTQ Americans. Some will be outed for hypocrisy. Some will also be accused of engaging in predation a la Speaker Hastert or Congressman Foley or Kevin Spacey. This last type will also include just plain old infidelities just like their heterosexual colleagues. Their will also, unfortunately, be some who are likely to just get outed as it all finally comes out even though they weren’t ready to come out. Essentially they’ll be collateral damage.

There are also going to be other effects. The first is that as the floodgates get forced open this is going to spread. It won’t be contained to the entertainment industry or to elected and/or appointed officials – it is going to spread from industry to industry and a long overdue reckoning will hopefully take place. Including changes in business practices, as well as new laws, rules, regulations, and eventually prosecutions for crimes where that is still a possibility.

At the same time there will likely be attempts to weaponize allegations against one’s political or business rivals. False allegations will eventually be created to ruin business or political rivals. If this happens, and I think it’s likely, it will also be used to undercut the legitimacy of the real accusers and undermine their allegations. If this does happen it will provide the opening for pushback from the forces of reaction that never want any progress to be made on any important issue because it makes them uncomfortable or challenges their authority or their privilege. And this will likely muddy the waters enough to allow for the beginning of what will be the inevitable push back. There has never been a period of progress, especially fast progress that resulted from long suppressed calls for justice, that wasn’t immediately followed by a fast and concerted push back. Including attempts to roll back all the gains and reestablish some imagined and idealized golden age before all the unfortunate and unnecessary change was pushed through. The forces of reaction are strong and they are always waiting for a chance to try to go back to get to a better future.

One of the things we all have to be prepared to do is to specifically support those we know who decide to come forward as we are generally supportive of those who come forward that we do not know. We have to set the conditions for those women and men, and in some really terrible instances girls and boys, to feel safe and supported enough to make this stand and fight this fight. And we have to be prepared to be supportive of those who wind up as collateral damage – and there will be collateral damage here. Finally, we have to hold the line for them when the inevitable pushback begins.



Heartbreaking Read(s): The Participant Who’ll Never Tell Us His Story

A news story about a police officer (in Salt Lake City!) manhandling an ER nurse for RESISTING HIS AUTHORITAY!!! seemed almost too on-the-nose as an analogy for life during the Trump Occupancy. But there are real people at the heart of this metaphor, and the Washington Post followed up:

William Gray, a commercial truck driver and reserve police officer, died late Monday of the injuries he suffered when a fiery July 26 crash left him with burns over nearly half his body, University of Utah Health spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said.

Gray was unconscious at the Salt Lake City hospital when police detective Jeff Payne asked to draw his blood hours after the crash.

Nurse Alex Wubbels refused because hospital policy required a warrant or patient consent. Payne handcuffed her and dragged her outside.

Gray was hauling a load of sand in northern Utah when a pickup truck speeding away from police crossed the center line and hit his truck head-on, causing an explosion. State police had been trying to pull over the pickup driver after several people called 911 to report he was driving recklessly.

Gray was not suspected of wrongdoing.

The pickup driver, Marcos Torres, 26, died in the crash, and Utah police routinely collect such evidence from everyone involved in fatal crashes.

Dramatic video of Wubbels’ arrest caught widespread attention online amid national scrutiny of police use of force. Payne and the supervisor who backed him, Lt. James Tracy, were placed on leave amid internal and criminal investigations…

Gray, 43, served with police in the southeastern Idaho city of Rigby. Chief Sam Tower said he was dedicated to the community of about 4,000 people and plowed snow from a sidewalk last winter so neighborhood kids wouldn’t have to walk in the street.

“Bill was truly the best of mankind,” Rigby police said in a Facebook post. “Always willing to help, always willing to go the extra mile. Bill was a big man, with a bigger heart. Everything about him was generous and kind.”…

Amy Davidson Sorkin, in the New Yorker, explains “What the Utah Good-Nurse, Bad-Cop Video Says About Medical Privacy”:

The story began on July 26th. That day, the police had engaged in a high-speed chase on a highway that ended with a deadly multi-vehicle crash. But this was not a cinematic case of, say, fugitive armed robbers. It began around 2 P.M., when the police received reports of a Chevrolet Silverado driving erratically. As the officers began their pursuit, the Silverado, now on US-89/91, swerved into a semi truck that happened to be on the road, causing an explosion. The driver of the Silverado, Marco Torres, who was twenty-six, was killed instantly. The truck driver, William Gray—who, in one of this story’s many byways, was a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho—staggered out of his semi, his clothes and body on fire. He was airlifted to the burn unit. One might wonder why the police wanted his blood, when he was, essentially, a bystander. The Utah police have said that it was meant for Gray’s protection, but Payne, in his report on the incident, obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, said that the officers who were dealing with the crash wanted to know whether Gray had any “chemical substances” in his system. Another, troubling possibility could be that they were looking for something that might place some of the responsibility for the crash on Gray, in case he complained that the police had been reckless in their pursuit.
Read more



4 April 1967: Dr. King’s Speech on Vietnam

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis Tennessee. He gave his final speech that day in support of striking sanitation workers. It was also one year to the day from his speech about the Vietnam War. MLK’s Beyond Vietnam speech was delivered 50 years ago today. Given all the tumult going on in general, and the events of the day in specific, it is important to stop, step back, and reflect on Dr. King’s life’s work and the words he spoke on two different April 4ths a year apart.



Evidence based care in Medicaid

We want to do evidence based care.  We want to do things that work and avoid things that don’t work.  This sounds simple.  Let’s look at two very good natural experiments on unintended pregnancy rates:

Colorado:

    Since 2008, Colorado has successfully increased access to family planning services throughout the state, particularly for the most effective contraceptive methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.

  • The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has increased health care provider education and training and reduced costs for more expensive contraceptive options, enabling more than 30,000 women in the state to choose long-acting reversible contraception….
  • When contraception, particularly the long-acting methods, became more readily available in Colorado between 2009 and 2013, the abortion rate fell 42 percent among all women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24.
  • Colorado is a national leader in the use of long-acting reversible contraception, and reducing teen pregnancy and repeat pregnancies.

    • Teen birth rates in our state have declined more rapidly than in any other state or the nation as a whole.
  • The birth rate for Medicaid-eligible women ages 15 to 24 dropped sharply from 2010 to 2012, resulting in an estimated $49 million to $111 million avoided expenses in Medicaid birth-related costs alone.

More reliable and effective contraception was made available to Colorado women who had the choice to elect Long Acting Reverisble Contraception (LARC) or do something else.  A significant number of women elected to use LARC and the increased autonomy and reliability produced amazingly good results.

Texas

 

Reducing contraceptive availability led to higher abortion rates and higher unplanned pregnancies. Earlier live births have massively negative multi-generational repercussions for both the parents and kids.

The evidence strong suggests that significant improvements in quality of life can be made and significant expenditures reduced if contraception is made readily available.

And guess what Congress will consider to be a high priority:

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare.

Wahoo… the evidence will strongly support the hypothesis that this policy will lead to more unintended pregnancies, more abortions and far worse outcomes for far more Americans.

Evidence based policy making — Hoo Yaa



Amen!

If you missed the sermon by the Reverend William Barber, please watch this theologically conservative, liberal, evangelical, biblicist speak about right and wrong, and the heart of our democracy. You owe it to yourself.

Via PBS

ETA: I found the full speech by Mr Khizr Khan, in which he is accompanied by his lovely wife. Also this.

Special mention of the gentleman delegate with the fab red turban.