We Need Robert Osborne to Tell Us This Is Only a Movie

Robert Osborne, why did you leave us when we need you most? The death this week of the Turner Classic Movies host only highlights, as political developments spiral from the unexpected to the unbelievable, that film may be the best outlet for explanation and escape.

What ‘Us Versus Them’ Looks Like Beyond America’s Borders

The problem is not “fake news.” It’s not enough news.

That point was made crystal clear during a trip this past week to South Africa, where a brief glance at the international programming on cable channels served as a corrective eye-opener. It was full of news and features barely glimpsed on many U.S. channels, and, in truth, they probably would not be ratings grabbers.

In the U.S., we are instead fed a diet of Beltway political intrigue and reports on the country’s partisan divide, with mere moments of in-depth reporting on what America can learn from other countries. In this narrative, “foreigners” are takers, not givers, and America has all the answers. We so often see “them” through the lens of “us.”

Is There a Reward at the End of the Democrats’ Long Slog?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The HKonJ protest this past weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, may have been the largest such event, but it wasn’t the first time that thousands, with causes as diverse as the citizen-marchers themselves, showed up. For 11 years, with messages for both Republicans and Democrats, the faithful gathering at Historic Thousands on Jones Street have persisted.

There is a lesson for the dissatisfied, new to activism, who are now crowding town halls and filling the streets: Victories may never come, or may be incremental, at best. Each goal accomplished could be followed by a setback.

Are the protesters of 2017 in it for the long haul?

GOP Seeks a Safe Space From the Words of Coretta Scott King

For a party and an administration that ran on being tough guys, afraid of nothing and no one, and disdainful of “PC culture,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, Republicans are, like President Donald Trump, proving to be poster boys (and, yes, the crew is testosterone-heavy) for the perpetually offended, perfect pictures of bullies who crumble when one of their targets dares talk back. – See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/gop-seeks-safe-space-words-coretta-scott-king#sthash.JZ7IqwAt.dpuf

Black History Month Lessons for ‘Trump World’

Every year, when February rolls around, you hear the same questions: Why do we need a Black History Month? When is White History Month? (The answer to that second question is January through December, by the way.)

For the answer to the first, look no further than the movie that just picked up the top award from the Screen Actors Guild. “Hidden Figures” is about the African-American female mathematicians who helped propel the U.S. space program, and who were mostly left out of the history books and previous film accounts of NASA and the talents who made it soar. (John Glenn wouldn’t leave home without their trajectory equations.)

When people of color and women play more than token roles in the telling of this nation’s history, there will no longer be a need to remedy omissions with a designated month here and there.

In 2017, we are far from that moment.

 

Common Ground in the Trump Era Is Doubtful

The parallels aren’t perfect, but close enough to see and hear hypocrisy from all sides.

Observing some of the more dismissive reactions against last weekend’s women’s marches that exceeded expectations in Washington, across the country and around the world, you would think that gathering for a cause and against an American president was somehow unpatriotic.

New President Donald Trump’s initial statement that he was “under the impression that we just had an election” eventually gave way to a defense of a constitutional right to protest, though his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said, “I frankly didn’t see the point.”

Various Republican elected officials around the country mocked protesters before offering half-hearted apologies. In North Carolina, GOP state Sen. Joyce Krawiec tweeted: “Message to crazies @ Women’s March — If brains were lard, you couldn’t grease a small skillet. You know who you are.” She won her seat without opposition in November, so she probably felt pretty safe.

Déjà vu

I had a flashback to a revved-up crowd at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, where I was covering what was called the first national tea party convention in early February 2010. Participants who came to rail against health care and other policies of then-President Barack Obama claimed patriotism as their motivation for righteous dissent.

 

Message from Charlotte: Revolution Starts at Home

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In this very blue city, in a state that went red for Donald Trump while sending a Democratic governor to the statehouse, a crowd estimated at more than 10,000 filled the streets at Saturday’s Women’s March. It was one of many across the country, sending a message that the story of Election 2016, far from being over, is just beginning.

The winding route took marchers — more than double in number than expected — past signposts of a region that has seen its share of divisions, but has made steady if shaky progress.

 

Obama and Trump: Two Presidents, Same God

If Franklin Graham did not actually endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, he stepped right up to the line — the one separating church and state. Graham was absolutely giddy post-election, when he gave credit to a force greater than the electorate. The evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse credited the “God factor” for Trump’s poll-defying win.

You might be seeing a lot of Graham, starting at Friday’s inauguration where he is one of the faith leaders invited to offer a prayer for America’s new president. It marks a resurgence of a familiar name when it comes to mingling politics and religion, and a continuation of a tradition in a country that doesn’t have an official faith but celebrates a National Day of Prayer and seems most comfortable with leaders who praise a higher power.

 

What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Think of Obama, Followed by Trump?

President Barack Obama and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have both been praised for their sweeping rhetorical skills, an ability to seize the moment and provide the comfort and inspiration needed. Even their detractors — and they have plenty — would admit this. To live up to his own history, President Obama had a nearly impossible task in his farewell speech on Tuesday night from his adopted hometown of Chicago.

There was also the irony of the week to come, bookended by a celebration of the life and works of King and the inauguration of the next president, Donald Trump. After all, few would place “I have a dream” and “She should be in prison” in the same universe of lofty oratory.

 

Washington Politics: A Hint of Compromise or North Carolina-Style Dysfunction?

Though the year has just begun, there are already signs that the partisan power struggle in Washington will not benefit from a fresh start or optimistic resolutions of renewal.

“I want to say to the American people: We hear you. We will do right by you. And we will deliver,” said re-elected House Speaker Paul Ryan, as he no doubt relished uniting with President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Washington to celebrate the consolidation of power by undoing President Barack Obama’s actions of the last eight years.

But is he listening to all of the American people when his party is deciding what exactly it will deliver? Does a president elected by an electoral- but not popular-vote majority present the best evidence of a mandate to completely change course?

The Republican majority in Washington might look south as a warning of what could happen when you believe you’re not only right, but good, and those who disagree don’t matter. It’s a charge that was lobbed at Democrats and President Obama during their years in power, but irony is in short supply when the tables are turned. It certainly did not matter in North Carolina, a state almost evenly split in party and political sentiment, where one party, nonetheless, is more interested in ruling than governing.