Long weekend open thread, with inauguration and MLK links

What’s on your mind this long weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I posted some links below to get a conversation going.

UPDATE: Scroll down for excerpts from the inaugural speech and some reaction from Iowa political figures.

President Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term yesterday in a private White House ceremony, but public inaugural celebrations will take place today in Washington, DC. He is supposedly planning to use two bibles, one owned by President Abraham Lincoln and another owned by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Outgoing Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky, one of the president’s earliest supporters in Iowa in 2007, will carry the state banner during today’s parade. The Isiserettes drum and drill corps from Des Moines will be the second non-military group performing in the parade.

UPDATE: Obama’s inaugural address was about 20 minutes long. The full text is here.  At the end of this post I’ve enclosed some passages that stuck out for me.

According to Aaron Blake of the Washington Post, Iowa is the third most interesting state in politics. The rest of the top ten list is here.

Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) was number four out of “five examples of the GOP’s ‘Dark Vein Of Intolerance.’”

Governor Terry Branstad doesn’t sound too worried about Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) running for governor in 2014. Although I’m an Iowa political trivia buff, I did not realize it had been more than 90 years since a current or former member of Congress was elected governor of Iowa. Republicans were the last to try with Jim Nussle in 2006.

Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds are scheduled to appear at today’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life in Des Moines.

Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. will provide the keynote address. Dr. Moore is the Director of Diversity at Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn, NY. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Mr. Moore is an ex-student-athlete and remains committed to the influence of athletics and academics in the lives of all students. Dr. Moore has been a workshop presenter/facilitator for many organizations and conferences concerned with Education, Diversity, Privilege and Leadership. Other local and state dignitaries will be in attendance, with music by the Special MLK Choir and local Jazz, Blues, and R&B performer Janey Hooper. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award will be presented to Rev. Dr. Carolyn King of Des Moines. The MLK Service project award will be presented to Sanford Community Center and North Middle School in Sioux City for the Bountiful Thanksgiving Baskets Project.

I posted some of my favorite MLK links around this time last year and would like to share a few of them again.

This slide show at the Mother Jones site covers “How We Got MLK Day and Who Stood in the Way.”

From this page of famous quotes by the civil rights leader, here’s one of my favorites: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

In this excerpt from an April 1967 sermon, Dr. King explained why he opposed the war in Vietnam.

The AFSCME blog compiled some of the civil rights leader’s comments about labor issues.

Susannah Heschel describes the relationship between Dr. King and her father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Here’s a photo from Dr. King’s March 1967 visit to Central College in Pella.

Wind chills are well below zero around Iowa today, so anyone planning to participate in the Des Moines rally on driver’s licenses for immigrants with deferred status should bundle up well. UPDATE: Never mind, organizers canceled that rally today because of the dangerously cold weather.

UPDATE: Ed Fallon announced on January 21 that former Representative Leonard Boswell is dropping his defamation lawsuit against his 2008 Democratic primary challenger. Boswell had sued Fallon for alleging that he was offered a job on the congressman’s staff in early 2008 to deter him from running for Congress.

SECOND UPDATE: Notable excerpts from Obama’s inaugural address:

For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.  […]

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. […]

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared. […]

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

THIRD UPDATE: Senator Tom Harkin released the following statement:

“In laying out his vision for a second term today President Obama spoke about the future in a way that was hopeful, describing the opportunities that arise when we come together as a country.  He used words like ‘equality’ and ‘economic recovery’ and outlined the importance of a strong middle class by training teachers, building roads and bridges, and investing in the generation that will build our nation’s future.  He said we can invest in that new generation without pitting it against the generation who built so much of the freedom, security and prosperity we already enjoy as a nation.  These are the principles that define us as a country and the priorities that Iowans and all Americans can support.  I congratulate the President on his second inauguration and I look forward to the progress in the years to come. “

Braley’s office released the following statement:

“As President Barack Obama begins his second term, the only way for our nation to meet the many challenges that lie before us is to come together as Americans, not continue to be divided by partisan labels.  I am hopeful that the next four years will see more bipartisan cooperation, a stronger middle class, and a growing economy that benefits every American.  I’m ready to get to work to do my part to make these hopes a reality.”

King’s office released the following statement:

“I congratulate President Obama for taking his second oath of office for the Presidency of the United States,” said King. “To ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’ is a promise not to be taken lightly, and one that may require refreshing.

In Iowa we understand that each new harvest season brings new crops, and as the Bible teaches, to everything there is a season.  With the Presidential campaign behind us, a new season begins today. I encourage President Obama to look at this second term for new opportunities to uphold the rights enshrined in the Constitution, and to commit to representing the desires and dreams of the American people.”

The Iowa Democratic Party released this statement from Sue Dvorsky:

“To echo President Obama’s own words, today reminds us that our inauguration ceremonies are much more a celebration of our nation, than a celebration of any president or political party.

“I proudly join Iowans of all ages who are here in Washington, D.C. today, and the countless citizens back home, as well as those around the country, who are filled with joy and a sustained sense of optimism about the future of this nation.

“His steadfast commitment to advancing issues and prioritizing policies over ‘politics as usual’ is what makes this president exceptional. Expanding access to affordable health care, increasing education and employment opportunities, and safeguarding the civil rights, safety, and equality of all Americans are at the heart of what matters most to Iowa families.

“I am enormously proud of what President Obama accomplished the last four years, and I look forward to his second term with hope for the future and determination to continue the work alongside him.”

Environment Iowa released this statement:

Des Moines- Minutes ago, President Obama concluded his second inaugural address. State Associate of Environment Iowa, Amelia Schoeneman, made the following statement in response:

“I am pleased that President Obama committed to do more to tackle global warming in his second term, building on the strong foundation his administration laid over the last four years.        

“From Hurricane Sandy, to raging forest fires, to the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, far too many Americans and the places we love have been devastated by recent extreme weather events fueled by global warming.

“President Obama’s second term offers tremendous opportunity to turn the tide on this problem. Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority.

“Over the next four years, we are counting on President Obama to set tough limits on carbon pollution from power plants, continue investing in the development of clean, renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, and to implement dramatic energy efficiency improvements that will cut dangerous pollution and protect our environment and our families.

“The president is poised to continue speaking out about the dangers of global warming. Even better, he is poised to act. I look forward to working with President Obama and his administration to do what it takes to tackle the challenges ahead.”

The very least Obama could do is block the Keystone XL pipeline. We’ll see whether he is serious about addressing climate change. Most of Iowa’s Congressional delegation supports building the pipeline.

UPDATE: Senator Chuck Grassley released this statement on the inauguration:

“Inauguration is a reminder of the strength of the 225-year history of our democracy, that we’re again marking a peaceful transition, by evolution instead of revolution.  I share the electorate’s hope that America’s economic recovery will gain strength and that Washington will stay focused on creating an environment for economic activity and job creation.  It would be irresponsible for Washington to dig a deeper hole of deficits and debt, which are at record levels, and if Washington fails to focus on fiscal responsibility, damage will be done to the opportunities we leave our children and grandchildren.  I hope the President is willing to work with Congress, and I hope the leadership of the Senate will step up to its responsibilities and take action on a budget and framing priorities, which it has neglected for what will be four years this spring, in addition to other issues for a growing economy.”

Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) released this statement:

“As we look forward to the next four years, we have many issues that must be addressed, and none is more important than boosting the economy and setting our country on a sustainable path.  It is days like today where one sees such bipartisan camaraderie that always helps to restore our faith that we can tackle the big issues and move past the partisan politics that have for too long paralyzed Congress.  I will continue to reach beyond party lines, as I always have, to move policies that help middle class Iowans who have been struggling.  It is critical for our nation’s future that we rebuild our economy from the middle out.

“The peaceful reaffirmation of power that was again displayed today highlights the truly exceptional nature of our country. I believe that our best days are in front of us and with hard work and commonsense, we will be able to move our great country forward.”

Obama’s 2012 campaign manager in Iowa, Brad Anderson, was in Washington for the inaugural festivities and talked to Radio Iowa. Anderson is the Democratic establishment’s candidate for Iowa secretary of state in 2014.

Donna Red Wing, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, released this statement:

“Today’s speech by President Obama as he was sworn in for a second term was nothing short of historic. For the first time in history, a President spoke openly about gay and lesbian Americans, honored the courage and heroism of our brothers and sisters at Stonewall, and embraced a very basic principle: love is love.

In May 2012, President Obama became the first president to endorse marriage equality, and his support, combined with a growing majority of Americans who now support the freedom to marry signals that our country is truly turning a corner.

While we have seen incredible progress in 2012, we know that 2013 will require vigilance and a steadfast commitment to protect our hard-fought and hard-won gains. One Iowa will continue the ongoing struggle for equality and will hold our leaders, including President Obama, accountable. We will continue to fight for the day when our families and our very lives are valued as equal, as true, and as fundamental to the American experience as all other realities.”

LATER UPDATE: The GOP caucus in the Virginia Senate struck a very low blow Monday.

The state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, while state Sen. Henry Marsh (D) – a 79-year-old civil rights veteran – was reportedly in Washington to attend President Obama’s second inaugural, GOP senators forced through a mid-term redistricting plan that Democrats say will make it easier for Republicans to gain a majority.

With Marsh’s absence, Senate Republicans in Richmond had one more vote than Senate Democrats and could push the measure through. The new redistricting map revises the districts created under the 2011 map and would take effect before the next state Senate elections in Virginia and would redraw district lines to maximize the number of safe GOP seats.

I don’t recall senators from either party attempting a dirty trick like that when the Iowa Senate was split 25-25 in 2005 and 2006. Disgraceful.

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