There is currently a stand-off on the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act and a compendium of bills which have, until now, been held hostage by Tom Coburn and other recalcitrants in the Republican caucus, essentially telling the American public "your needs aren’t our problem."

The Democratic caucus decided to call their bluff. And, thus, the "Tom Coburn Omnibus Bill" was born. But it needs your help.

Call your Senators today and ask them to support Senate Bill 3297. You can find more information at MyDD, the Senate Democratic Caucus blog on health bills blocked and judiciary/law enforcement bills blocked, and at CQ, with a bill summary here.

Why bother with this at the end of a lame duck president’s term?

Sitting through the poignant and multi-layered first night of Black in America on CNN, I had an epiphany of sorts. So much of what I have experienced as "good government" has been where people were treated with respect and able to sustain some dignity from a process that can be altogether too dehumanizing (YouTube), especially in criminal proceedings where most of my experience has come.

Where people feel there is hope, some chance of redemption, they can keep taking steps forward out of the darkness and into the light. By believing in themselves or having someone else’s support? That can make all the difference.

Because so much of the Republican party’s core strategy rests on government as the problem, their entire party strategery centers around proving that incompetence is the rule of the day from governmental entities.

Unless they or their cronies want a handout from public coffers, the American public gets inaction or indifference or both. By design. I’ve started reading Thomas Frank’s new book, The Wrecking Crew, and it is an eye-opener on this point. (He’ll be here for Book Salon on Aug. 9th.)

What does this have to do with the Emmett Till bill? Plenty. It passed in the House by a vote of 422 to 2, in a resounding call for action in a unified voice. As Rep. John Lewis said on the floor of the House at the time:

The time has come for the sake of history, for the sake of justice, for the sake of closure, that the 110th Congress must pass this legislation. On August 28, 1955, 52 years ago, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, young African-American boy, was visiting his uncle in Mississippi. He was pulled from his bed in the darkness of night. He was beaten until he could hardly be recognized. He was shot in the head and his body was dumped in the river all because somebody said he had been fresh with a white woman.

Why has that bill not been passed in the Senate over a year later? Because Sen. Tom Coburn put a hold on it.

Putting aside Coburn’s weird obsession with lesbians in Oklahoma bathrooms (don’t ask), Coburn has an equally weird obsession with blocking any expenditures for government programs that work in the public’s interest. The bills in this omnibus package are there because Coburn or another Republican has blocked them, including support for disease research and research on prenatal care, something that an obstetrician ought to support, don’t you think?

Please take some time today to call your Senators and ask them to support S. 3297. Do it for Emmett Till, and all those folks out there whose murders and sacrifices and needs deserve action, not indifference.