ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" Decemb - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" December 15, 2013

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 

(Providence, Rhode Island) – It was a grab-bag in the world of politics this week, with a surprising budget deal in Washington, DC and some bizarre happenings overseas. Here we go: 

"Budget Deal Winners" – The much hailed budget deal in Washington this past week was really a mixed bag. Among the winners, the notion that compromise and bipartisanship can actually work. Each side gave up significant items, and each side achieved some modest victories. It was not a deal to make everyone happy, especially on the far right and far left. But it was enough to show the public – that at least sometimes – Congress can function. Both parties benefit in a deal with no tax increases. Republicans prevented deep cuts at the Pentagon; and Democrats prevented wide-ranging sequester cuts to some social programs that are near and dear to liberals. 

"Budget Deal Losers" – Okay, so the deal cuts $65 billion dollars from the budget deficit. That's pocket change in the grand scheme of the overall budget deficit. Still it's a move in the right direction. The long-term unemployed will be losing additional benefits, something Democrats had pushed hard for, but lost in the end. 

"The Political Fallout" – For Democrats, the band-aid budget deal may prevent further hemorrhaging of their party in Congress. Incumbent Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are already vulnerable over the Obamacare meltdown. So a chance to show compromise and bipartisanship on fiscal issues may help mitigate a disastrous midterm election next year, especially in close races. For Republicans, the fallout may include some continued intraparty fracturing. Arch-conservatives and the Tea Party wing are furious over what they feel was too much compromise, and not enough deficit cutting. Clearly, though, Republicans still hold the upper hand in next year's election, but Democrats may have done enough to save a number of marginal seats to keep control of the Senate. 

"Lost in Translation" – It was hysterically funny and terribly mortifying at the same time. A South African by the name of Thamsanqa Jantjie was hired to provide sign language interpretation of the eulogies at Nelson Mandela's funeral last week. He was a fraud. The average person didn't know, but sharp-eyed viewers who rely on sign language knew right away. Making matters worse, the man now admits to a history of violent, schizophrenic behavior. How on Earth did he get on stage with 90 world leaders, including President Obama? Where was the security; the background checks? When I applied to be a member of the White House press corps 20 years ago, I underwent an extensive background check. The Secret Service even called my 8th grade teacher. And that was pre-9/11. Yes, this will make a funny Saturday Night Live skit, but really it's scary. 

"Lust in His Heart" – Former President Jimmy Carter probably had a flashback when the sign language translator scam was revealed. Carter had his own problems with foreign translators. In December 1977 Carter visited Poland. In a speech to the nation he said something to the effect of, "I love the Polish people!" To a much mortified audience, the Polish translator basically misquoted Carter by saying something along the lines of, "I want to make love to the Polish people!" Actually, the language (and translation) was a bit more colorful, but hey, this is a family-friendly blog. The translator, who was being paid $150 per day, was promptly fired. 

"North Korea Goes South" – Brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed this week. There were concerns his uncle's personal behavior was becoming an embarrassment. By that standard, Billy Carter, Roger Clinton and Neil Bush, would have been taken out in their prime. There were accusations that Kim's uncle might try to overthrow the government, something the wayward U.S. political relatives never attempted. Sure things get chaotic and bizarre in American politics, but we retain a relative sense of civility, even to the wacky relatives of our leaders.  

"Mandela Remembered" – My final thoughts this week are on the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Two things Mandela leaves the world with, are the power of forgiveness, and inherent nature of human rights. He left prison after 27 years and could have lived out the remainder of his life as an embittered soul. Instead he built healing in a divided nation, and showed the world that political freedom and the practice of inalienable human rights are powerful forces that can move mountains. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. often said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Amen.  

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© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.  

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