Monday, January 20, 1997

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  • Will New Hampshire Recognize Martin Luther King Day?

    In an interview with Amy Goodman, New Hampshire Governor Shaheen discusses her efforts to convince the Republican state legislature to recognize Martin Luther King Day. Shaheen states that right-wing elements of the state legislature have blocked attempts to recognize a holiday honoring Dr. King. Rep. Weatherspoon discusses history of efforts to recognize MLK Day, which included attempts to create a more general Civil Rights Day in 1994, a more specific denunciation of Dr. King as person worthy of being honored with a holiday, and a proclamation issued by former Governor Steve MLK Day in 1995. Weatherspoon recounts KKK praising the New Hampshire House of Representatives for not passing MLK Day in 1995 and summarizes claims by MLK detractors. Then, Weatherspoon discusses plans for new attempt to recognize the holiday: legislative coalitions, a democratic governor who placed the MLK holiday in her election platform, and a grassroots effort fostered by college students.

  • Interview with Rev. Bernice King,

    Rev. Bernice King serves as assistant pastor of Greater Rising Star Baptist Church in Atlanta and has authored Hard Questions, Heart Answers. Discusses MLK’s influenced her thoughts on social issues. Ms King discusses her reasons for opposition to death penalty: The death penalty doesn’t create closure for families of murder victims. American society embraces violence and refuses to deal with such issues inherent in criminal activity as mental illness, poverty, and violent social influences. Inequities of justice system: innocent executed. Suggests focus on positive influences to change outlook and mitigate anger, and redirect minds of criminals. On debate over James Earl Ray’s role in MLK assassination, says she doesn’t focus on father’s murder, but on larger issues justice, which may entitle Ray to retrial. On New Hampshire’s failure to recognize MLK Day, says she convinced members of New Hampshire political scene by focusing them on MLK’s representation of American ideals of liberty, justice and freedom. On President Clinton inaugural, Ms King wants to hear a message of hope similar to MLK’s "I Have a Dream" speech.

  • House ethics committee investigates Gingrich

    Chair of Ethics Committee, Nancy Johnson (REP CT) reduced unilaterally a five-day hearing schedule to one day—the Friday afternoon before the Presidential inauguration.
    Excerpts of hearings: Nancy Johnson discusses penalty to be imposed upon Gingrich for using non-profit educational organizations for improper political purposes. Johnson recaps the Ethics Committee findings of 12/21/96: 1 Gingrich violated 43.1, which requires member acts at all times reflect credibly on House. 2 Gingrich failed to seek and follow legal advice regarding use of tax exempt organizations (Section 501(c)3) of US Tax Code). 3 Gingrich didn’t ensure organizations followed US Tax Code. 4 Gingrich submitted to investigators information that he should have known was unreliable, incomplete, and inaccurate. Johnson states that Gingrich admitted to charges and waived right to disciplinary hearing; thus, the hearing to impose penalty, not discuss basis of charges.

  • Interview with Jeffrey Klein, Editor Mother Jones magazine

    Klein discusses movement of Gingrich hearings to a time when attention would be distracted. Klein reviews Republican talking points to divert moral issue of Gingrich’s wrongdoing to tax issue. Democrats accepted Republican framing of issues: unprecedented, harsh penalty reflects Republican anti-statism ideal that loser pays trial fees. Gingrich continuing strategy shifts basis for "renewing America" from his personal beliefs to divine wisdom. Democrats ignored "American narrative" of egalitarian justice, the moral underpinnings of the rule of law, and the social danger of the Speaker of the House violating these basic tenets of American society. Democrats, unlike Republicans, failed to unite on message and allowed Republicans to focus on surreptitiously recorded conversations used by Congressman McDermott (D WA). Congressman Boehner (R OH) wanted Gingrich to use personal, not campaign, funds when paying the fine to avoid political controversy. Failure to recognize the need to reform political environment endangers Democrats. Clinton encouraged investigation wrapped up because hearings scheduled on his campaign finances. Republicans want to weaken Clinton to weaken presidential prospects of Gore. Nonpartisan solution needed to solve influence of money on political process.