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“Beyond Denali”: Native Americans Are So Often The Invisible Minority In Our Political Discussions

A lot of the buzz about President Obama’s trip to Alaska has centered around his decision to revert to the original name of Mt. McKinley – Mt. Denali (the name that it was given by Native Alaskans long ago). But it’s worth noting that this is not the first time this President has addressed the needs of Native Americans. There is a reason why Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker called President Obama the “best president ever for American Indians” and Chief James Allan, Coeur dAlene tribal chairman, said that he has “done more for [Native American] tribes than the last five presidents combined.”

Because Native Americans are so often the invisible minority in our political discussions, you may not have heard about the actions this administration has taken that led to those quotes. So perhaps it’s time to provide a brief overview.

Since his first year in office, President Obama has hosted an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference and issued a progress report.

In 2010, President Obama signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United States was the last major country to do so.

Also in 2010, the President signed the Tribal Law and Order Act.

Last week, Congress took another important step to improve the lives of Native American women by passing the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The Act includes a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against women in Native communities, and is one of many steps this Administration strongly supports to address the challenges faced by Native women.

In 2012, the Departments of Justice and Interior announced the settlement of 41 long-standing disputes with Indian tribal governments over the federal mismanagement of trust funds and resources for a total of $1.023 billion.

The Department of Justice has also been at the forefront of pushing for legislation that supports Native American voting rights.

The visit by the President and First Lady to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in June of 2013 obviously had a profound impact. During their time there, they met with six young people “who spoke of lives affected by homelessness, alcoholism, poverty and suicide.”

“I love these young people,” Obama said shortly after meeting them. “I only spent an hour with them. They feel like my own.”

The Obamas emerged from the private conversation at a school in Cannon Ball, N.D., “shaken because some of these kids were carrying burdens no young person should ever have to carry. And it was heartbreaking,” Obama said.

The meeting spurred Obama to tell his administration to aggressively build on efforts to overhaul the Indian educational system and focus on improving conditions for Native American youths.

“It’s not very often where I tear up in the Oval Office,” Obama, speaking at the conference, said about speaking to his staff about the plight of the children he met. “I deal with a lot of bad stuff in this job. It is not very often where I get choked up, so they knew I was serious about this.”

Just one of the products of that meeting was the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering where the administration announced the launch of Generation Indigenous. That all comes in addition to things like the announcement this week that the Department of Education has awarded more than $50.4 million in grants to support American Indian tribally controlled colleges and universities.

And so, it should come as no surprise that one of the first items on President Obama’s agenda when he landed in Alaska was a meeting with Native leaders.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 3, 2015

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Mt Denali, Native Americans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Walker Eyes Border Wall … For The Other Border”: A Nutty Idea, Even By The Standards Of GOP Presidential Candidates

When far-right politicians endorse the construction of a massive border wall, they rarely specify which border, because it’s simply assumed they’re not overly concerned about Canadians.

When it comes to border security, it’s only natural to wonder why Republicans seem vastly more energized about our neighbors to the south than those to the north. I was delighted to see NBC’s Chuck Todd ask Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) about this yesterday.

One issue he plans to fix if elected is the terrorist threat posed by the nation’s porous borders, and he said while he’s most concerned about the southern U.S. border, he’d be open to building a wall to secure the northern border as well.

 “Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire. They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” he said.

And I’ll be eager to hear what the far-right candidate comes up with after he “looks at” building a northern border wall – because the idea is a little nutty, even by the standards of GOP presidential candidates.

For now, let’s put aside the issues – the costs, the needs, etc. – related to a building a giant wall along the U.S/Mexico border. Let’s instead consider Walker’s apparent concerns about Canada.

As the Republican governor may know – his home state is roughly along the northern border – the United States and Canada don’t simply share a lengthy land mass. There are these things known as the “Great Lakes,” which the two countries share. Even trying to build a giant wall through them would be … how do I put this gently … impractical.

The alternative, of course, is building a water-front wall along U.S. states that border the lakes. Some folks might not like the view, but we’re either going to take border security seriously or we’re not, right?

There’s also the not-so-small matter of Alaska. Even if a Walker administration takes up a plan to build a wall from Seattle to Maine, let’s not forget that the United States actually has two borders with Canada: one along Canada’s southern border, and then another along Canada’s northwestern border. Indeed, the border Alaska shares with British Columbia and Yukon Territory (about 1,500 miles) is almost as long as the border the continental United States shares with Mexico (about 1,900 miles).

Depending on how serious the Wisconsinite is about this, we’ll probably have to talk about some maritime borders, too, since we run the risks of terrorists and undocumented immigrants showing up along American shorelines in boats.

Given the Republican Party’s general hostility towards investing in American infrastructure, it’s important to note that these border walls would likely carry an enormous price tag. Nevertheless, Scott Walker considers this “a legitimate issue for us to look at,” so let the debate begin.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015 Posted by | Border Security, Canada, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , | 1 Comment

“When Moderates Fight Back”: Middle-Of-The-Road Republicans Are Now Attacking The GOP From The Outside

The missing component in the machinery of American politics has been moderate-to-liberal Republicanism, and the gears of government are grinding very loudly. You wonder if Kansas and Alaska have come up with a solution to this problem.

In Kansas, Democrat Chad Taylor shook up the Senate race by dropping out last week, giving an independent candidate, Greg Orman, a clean shot at the incumbent, Pat Roberts.

At least one poll showed Orman with a 10-point lead over the 78-year-old Roberts in a two-way race. Republicans are so afraid of Orman that Kansas’s Republican (and unabashedly ideological) secretary of state, Kris Kobach, used a technicality to keep Taylor’s name on the November ballot anyway. Taylor is challenging the decision.

In Alaska, Democrat Byron Mallott ended his candidacy for governor and chose instead to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket led by an independent candidate, Bill Walker. By combining forces, Walker and Mallott hope to oust Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Because of the revolution in Republican politics spearheaded by the tea party, these should not be treated as isolated episodes. They are both signs that moderates, particularly moderate Republicans, are fighting back.

The safe journalistic trope is that both of our major parties have become more “extreme.” This is simply not true. It’s the Republican Party that’s veered far off center. To deny the fact is to disrespect the hard work of conservatives in taking over the GOP.

By contrast, there are still plenty of moderates in the Democratic Party. They include Sens. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Begich in Alaska, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina. All of them are threatened in this fall’s elections by conservative or right-wing Republicans. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is another moderate on the ballot this year, but so far, he seems safe.

On the other hand, outright liberals have been losing primaries in the Republican Party since the late 1960s, particularly in Senate races. In the House, the few remaining liberal Republicans (one thinks of Maryland’s Connie Morella and Iowa’s Jim Leach) were defeated because Democrats in their districts finally decided that electing even Republicans they liked only empowered the party’s increasingly conservative congressional leadership.

As for the Republican establishment, it may have overcome many tea party challenges this year, but it is increasingly captive to the right wing.

This summer, conservative writers Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru offered an insightful analysis of the tea party-establishment dynamic in an article in National Review appropriately titled “Establishment Tea.” Lowry and Ponnuru argued that the establishment candidates who triumphed did so largely on the tea party’s terms, though the authors put the matter somewhat more politely. “Candidates who make the case that they will fight for conservative ideas, and not just serve time,” they wrote, “can win tea-party support.”

What’s happening in Kansas is particularly revealing of the backlash against the right from moderate Republicans. Although Roberts is not a tea party candidate — indeed, he defeated a tea party challenger in last month’s primary — the Senate race could be influenced by the state’s contest for governor, one of the most important in the country.

Incumbent Republican Sam Brownback has championed an unapologetic tea party, tax-cutting agenda and has sought to purge moderate Republicans who opposed him from the state legislature. Many GOP moderates have responded by endorsing Brownback’s opponent, Democrat Paul Davis. A Brownback defeat would be a major blow to the right.

“The moderates have said, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,’ ” said Dan Glickman, a moderate Democrat who represented the area around Wichita in Congress for 18 years. In an interview, Glickman argued that the rightward tilt is antithetical to the GOP’s history in Kansas, a state that sent both Bob Dole and Nancy Landon Kassebaum, in her day a leading GOP moderate, to the ­Senate.

“The Republican Party in Kansas was always a heartland, common-sense, moderate or moderately conservative party,” Glickman said, adding that at times, it has had a strongly progressive contingent as well.

Orman has been almost maddeningly disciplined in not revealing which party he would caucus with if he defeated Roberts. With national Republican operatives pouring into the state to save the three-term incumbent’s floundering campaign, the battle will get a lot tougher.

But already, Republicans are learning that the cost of driving moderates away could get very high. What middle-of-the-roaders could not accomplish inside the party, they may achieve by attacking from outside the gates.

 

BY: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 7, 2014

September 8, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, Moderate Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Big Gulp Isn’t Cheap”: Why Half-Term Gov Sarah Palin Wants You To Think She’s Running For The Senate

For the past several weeks, former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been hinting at a run for Senate in her former home state of Alaska. Now, thanks to a recent Federal Election Commission filing, we know why.

Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, raised just $460,536 in the first half of 2013. That number falls far short of SarahPAC’s totals for the first halves of 2011 and 2012, when the PAC raised roughly $1.2 million and $1.7 million, respectively.

In the first six months of 2013, SarahPAC spent $496,505.68, almost $36,000 more than it brought in. Although the PAC is not in debt (it reports having over $1 million in cash on hand), that represents a troubling trend for the one-time governor’s committee.

Furthermore, as Matt Berman points out at National Journal, the PAC’s spending pattern raises some serious questions. According to the FEC filing, the PAC donated just $5,000 to political candidates in 2013 — all of it going to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). The rest of the money went to expenses and consulting fees, including at least $11,500 a month to PAC spokesman/treasurer Timothy Crawford.

So the next time you hear Sarah Palin feigning interest in running for Alaska’s Senate seat in 2014, you won’t have to ask yourself why she would enter a race she’s almost certain to lose. Or why a self-declared “maverick” would want to join a body governed largely by seniority and a complicated system of unwritten rules. Or why a woman who knows very little about laws would want to write them. Or why an Arizona resident would run for Senate more than 3,500 miles from her home. Or why, after failing to complete four years as governor, Palin would seek a six-year term in Washington.

Simply remember that paying the consultants that she claims to hate so much, and flying around the country waving around a Big Gulp, isn’t cheap. And as Palin proved back in 2011, nothing jumpstarts fundraising efforts quite like a fake run for federal office.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, August 1, 2013

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Senate | , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Terribly Bad, Good Idea”: Tea Party Group Drafting Sarah Palin To Run For Alaska Senate

“Do the words ‘Senator Sarah Palin’ excite you?”

That’s the opening line of a recent email by The Tea Party Leadership Fund, which is trying to draft the former Alaska governor and past Fox News commentator to run for the Senate in 2014. The fund argues Palin has a clear path to victory in part due to recent polling showing incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, with less than 50 percent of the vote.

But, it being a draft, the group hasn’t talked with Palin about whether or not she’s interested. And Palin – whose PAC didn’t respond to request for comment from Whispers – is believed to be currently residing in Arizona, not Alaska. The fund’s Niger Innis says the interest of Tea Party members in a Palin run, however, is clear.

“We didn’t know that [the draft] was going to catch fire to the degree that it has. And what that tells us is that this is just the beginning,” he says. “It’s gone viral.”

But not all Tea Party groups are enthused about drafting Palin without first gauging her interest.

“I absolutely love her and I think she’s a breath of fresh air,” Amy Kremer, head of Tea Party Express, tells Whispers. “But until she says that she’s going to put her name in… we’re not going to go out there and advocate for her to get in the race.”

Judson Phillips at Tea Party Nation says the 2012 presidential election provided an important lesson about why drafting candidates is a bad idea. “One of the things we learned is that apparently Mitt Romney didn’t really want to be president,” he said. “The last thing the GOP needs is to put candidates who don’t want it.”

 

By: Elizabeth Flock, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, April 30, 2013

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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