On June 4, 2009, President Barack Obama spoke at Cairo University and laid out his vision for international cooperation and America's role in the world.
A true leader advocates for world peace, not constant war, seeks change through diplomacy not bombs, and looks to the future and the advancement of common goals rather than redress for past slights.
"A New Beginning"
The President gives a speech in Cairo, Egypt, outlining his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect, and discusses how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them. June 4, 2009
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path.
The subject of the President's Weekly Address was covered earlier in the week. Please enjoy this post of First Lady Michelle Obama celebrating Black History Month. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at "Celebrating Women of the Movement," an event honoring Black History Month, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 20, 2015. The First Lady introduces moderator Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine and the panel of intergenerational women who have played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement - both past and present.
I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the "Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act." Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.
The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto.
No matter. Music carries a powerful message and "Glory" is simply glorious.
"Glory" is a song performed by American singer-songwriter John Legend and rapper Common. It was written by Legend, Common and Che Smith. The song was released on December 11, 2014 by Columbia Records as the theme song from the 2014 film Selma, which portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. Common also co-starred as 1960s Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel in Selma.
Commercially, the song peaked at No. 92 on the US Billboard Hot 100. A music video for the song was directed by Paramount Pictures and was released on January 12, 2015. The song won the award for Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Awards (2015) and the 72nd Golden Globe Awards (2015).
A new report from the President's Council of Economic Advisers shows that that the current, broken regulatory environment creates misaligned incentives that cost working and middle class families billions of dollars a year-with some individual families losing tens of thousands of dollars of their retirement savings. These incentives cause some Wall Street brokers to encourage working and middle class families to move from low-cost employer plans to IRA accounts that typically entail higher fees-and to steer working and middle class families into higher-cost products within the IRA market. Many advisers currently act as fiduciaries and provide advice in their clients' best interest, but many others do not. [...]
Today, the President called on the Department of Labor to crack down on Wall Street and protect families from conflicted and bad retirement advice. DOL will move forward with a proposed rulemaking that would require retirement advisers to abide by a "fiduciary" standard-putting their clients' best interest before their own profits.
... while we've come a long way, we've got a lot more work to do to make sure that the recovery reaches every single American out there and not just those at the top. That's what I've been calling middle-class economics -- the idea that this country does best when everybody does their fair share, and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.
And that last part -- everybody playing by the same set of rules -- is why we passed historic Wall Street reform that put in place smarter, tougher, common-sense rules of the road to protect consumers and to end taxpayer-funded bailouts. [...]
Today, we're going to build on these consumer protections for the middle class by taking a new action to protect hardworking families' retirement security. Because, in America, after a lifetime of hard work, you should be able to retire with dignity and a sense of security.
And in today's economy, that's gotten tougher. Most workers don't have a traditional pension. A Social Security check often isn't enough on its own. [...]
... the challenge we've got is right now, there are no uniform rules of the road that require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients -- and that's hurting millions of working and middle-class families.
As part of President Obama's commitment to protect our Nation's unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, today he will launch an "Every Kid in a Park" initiative that will provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year. He will also announce the creation of three new National Monuments across the country.
The President will make the announcements near the site of the historic Pullman town in Chicago, a location iconic for its history of labor unrest and civil rights advances, which will be the City's first National Park Service (NPS) unit. He also will announce that he will designate Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II, and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, an historic site of extraordinary beauty with world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe. Together, these monuments will help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans.
PRESIDENT OBAMA (from Chicago): It's always been a dream of mine to be the first President to designate a national monument in subzero conditions. [...]
For a century, rangers, and interpreters, and volunteers and visitors have kept alive what the writer Wallace Stegner once called "the best idea we ever had" -- our belief that the country's most special places should belong not just to the rich, not just to the powerful, but belong to everybody -- not just now, but for all time. [...]
... starting this fall, we're going to help a new generation of Americans experience our God-given grandeur by giving every fourth-grader in America what we're calling an "Every Kid in a Park" pass -- a pass good for free admission to all public lands, for you and your family, for an entire year. We want every fourth-grader to have the experience of getting out and discovering America.
On the significance of Pullman and the porter strike:
And 12 years to the day after A. Philip Randolph spoke in that hall in Harlem [founding the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters], they won, and Pullman became the first large company in America to recognize a union of black workers. [...]
[It] was A. Philip Randolph who was the first to speak at that March on Washington. "We are the advanced guard," he said, "of a massive, moral revolution for jobs and freedom."
"A massive, moral revolution for jobs and freedom." And that's not just the story of a movement, that's the story of America. Because as Americans, we believe that workers' rights are civil rights. That dignity and opportunity aren't just gifts to be handed down by a generous government or by a generous employer; they are rights given by God, as undeniable and worth protecting as the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains. ...
... throughout our history, we've marched not only for jobs, but also for justice; not just for the absence of oppression, but for the presence of opportunity. And ultimately, that wasn't just for African Americans any more than the original Pullman union was just for white workers. Eventually, that principle would be embraced on behalf of women, and Latinos, and Native Americans; for Catholics and Jews and Muslims; for LGBT Americans; for Americans with mental and physical disabilities.
This section of the lunch counter from the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth's which is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History has a living story to tell.
Many of you were not even born in 1960 when those seats were occupied by four very brave young black college students, Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, who risked their lives to demand their right to be served, and who sparked a massive wave of sit-ins and boycotts against racial segregation - led by other young people.
In this week's address, the President laid out his plan to ensure more children graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career.
Our elementary and secondary schools are doing better, as demonstrated by the news this past week that our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, but there is still more that can be done to ensure every child receives a quality education. That's why the President wants to replace No Child Left Behind with a new law that addresses the overuse of standardized tests, makes a real investment in preschool, and gives every kid a fair shot at success.
He reminded everyone that when educating our kids, the future of our nation, we shouldn't accept anything less than the best.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, members of Congress [on Wednesday, February 11th] reintroduced a bipartisan bill to strengthen and restore the law's core protection, which the U.S. Supreme Court gutted in 2013.
The measure is sponsored by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), and others. The bill was also introduced last year, but the Senate held just one hearing on the legislation, and the House refused to hold a hearing.
"Fifty years ago, tragedy in the streets of Selma galvanized our nation to pass the Voting Rights Act and bring equality to the ballot box," said Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Brennan Center's Washington, D.C., office. "Today, that core protection is in tatters and discrimination continues to tarnish our elections. America was founded on the principle that we are all 'created equal.' To fulfill that promise, we need an election system that works well for everyone, and doesn't tolerate discrimination against anyone. We urge Congress to quickly pass this bill and ensure Americans have strong voting protections in time for the 2016 election."
Here are the key provisions:
The Voting Rights Amendment Act would, among other changes:
- Require jurisdictions with a recent record of repeated Voting Rights Act violations to pre-clear election law changes.
- Expand the current "bail-in" procedures, which allow courts to subject jurisdictions to preclearance.
- Create a uniform requirement to inform voters of certain pending voting changes.
- Enhance the ability of lawyers to halt discriminatory election measures before they can harm citizens.
- Allow federal observers to monitor elections to ensure compliance with laws protecting the rights of Americans who speak limited English.
The VRA has been continually reauthorized since it was passed in 1965 and has always had bipartisan support. The most recent reauthorization, in 2006, was with a Republican Congress and a Republican president. Voting rights should not be a partisan issue: the right to choose our government is the most basic right in a democracy.
So why can't we do this?
Because the Republican Congress is controlled by the teaparty with its scorched earth politics of exclusion. Their hold on power depends on disenfranchising those who disagree with them because their ideas are repulsive to the majority of Americans.
If there are any Republicans who still care about small d democracy, they should pressure their leadership to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote, get it passed and then send it to the Senate for a vote.
Almost 52 years ago Gov. George Wallace made his infamous stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to block two black students from registering for classes.
It was really all for show. Wallace knew he had no authority to stop the students. The federal courts had ruled that the time had come to integrate UA [...]
... last night Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered all probate judges not to follow the federal order and instead continue to enforce the state's ban against same sex marriage. Moore threatened that any probate judge carrying out the federal court order could be impeached ...
He is trying to stand in the courthouse door as surely as Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door. Shame on him.[...]
What happens next? I don't know. Moore is standing in the courthouse door. He represents the old days, the days of fear and misunderstanding and the denial of equal rights.
Bentley will gather with his lawyers today to mull his options.
I hope the governor will follow his instincts and remember to be the governor of all the people, something Wallace forgot.
[The ] Supreme Court denied Alabama's request to put same-sex marriages on hold pending the appeal of two cases.
Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia dissented, writing, "Today's decision represents yet another example of this Court's increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States. Over the past few months, the Court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.
Justice Clarence Thomas, a black American who benefited from the civil rights battles of the 1960s, giving cover to this century's states righters.
All photos in this post are by Prince Balume and Achilles Balume, and are posted here with permission.
In 2006, DR Congo passed a new constitution, which is similar to our (US) constitution in many ways. The right to vote, to assemble, and to free speech are guaranteed. Beyond our constitution, it guarantees strong parity between men and women. The issue today, though, is that it imposes tenure limits on the President.
By law, President Joseph Kabila must step down and allow an open election in 2016. He began as a military dictator who led the country through a transitional government, and was then democratically elected President. His re-election met with some criticism, and he's since been maneuvering to extend his tenure -- recently by trying to amend the tenure law outright, and then by introducing requirements that would delay the election.
Last month, Kabila's supporters in Parliament passed a census requirement for the next election. That law would delay the 2016 election indefinitely. The people of DR Congo organized a coordinated demonstration to protest the census requirement. The government cracked down on the protesters. Some were killed and others are not yet accounted for.
The great success was that Parliament eventually relented and removed the census requirement. It was a real step toward implementing democracy. It dearly cost people who demonstrated, though -- some who paid with their lives.
In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the progress our economy has made, with more than 3.1 million jobs created in 2014 - the best year for job growth since the late 1990s. America has come a long way, and with the right policies, we can continue to grow our economy into one where those who work hard can get ahead.
That's why earlier this week the President released a budget proposal focused on middle-class economics - the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules. The President said he looks forward to working with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who is willing to fight for commonsense policies that will help the middle class succeed.
I was pleased to see that Google dedicated a "Google Doodle" kicking off Black History Month to Langston Hughes, born on Feb. 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri, by animating his poem "I Dream a World."
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
My introduction to Langston Hughes wasn't his poetry, at first. My mom would read his "Jesse B. Semple" stories to me, and as soon as I could read, I read them over and over, because they were "real" black people. When I got older, old enough to be hanging out in Harlem bars, I read them again. They still rang true.
I wasn't going to jump into this conversation, but I want to add another dimension to the discussion of the benefits vs. dangers of vaccinating. I feel qualified by the fact that my first-born child had a severe reaction to her first DPT vaccination many years ago.
We got her first vaccination on time when she was two months old. Within ten minutes, she was screeching non-stop, like a threatened animal. We got sent home anyway, where she continued to screech for many hours until she had a seizure and went into a coma for three days. Happily, she woke up and seemed perfectly fine. She didn't have any long term neurological damage.
The White House has released its Fiscal Year 2016 Budget. The president spoke at the Department of Homeland Security about the budget in general and the importance of a fully funded DHS in particular:
[This budget is] a broader blueprint for America's success in this new global economy. Because after a breakthrough year for America -- at a time when our economy is growing and our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s, and wages are starting to rise again -- we've got some fundamental choices to make about the kind of country we want to be.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or are we going to build an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead? [...]
The budget I've sent to Congress today is fully paid for, through a combination of smart spending cuts and tax reforms. [...]
I'm going to keep fighting to make sure that every American has the chance not just to share in America's success but to contribute to America's success. That's what this budget is about.
In this week's address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics.
This week, the President will send a budget to Congress centered on the idea that everyone who works hard should have the chance to get ahead. His plan will reverse harmful sequestration cuts and instead make paychecks go further, create good jobs here in the United States, and prepare hardworking Americans to earn higher wages. The President made the case for his budget, and affirmed his commitment to doing everything he can to ensure more Americans can get ahead in this new economy.
On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed his very first piece of legislation: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law, named after a woman who discovered her employer was paying her less than men doing the same job, makes it easier for Mrs. Ledbetter and others like her to effectively challenge unequal pay.
Lilly Ledbetter took her pay discrimination complaint all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 2007 that claims like hers had to be filed within 180 days of an employer's decision to pay a worker less-even if the worker didn't learn about the unfair pay until much later, as was the case for Mrs. Ledbetter .
To make sure that people can effectively challenge unequal pay, the law President Obama signed shortly after taking office amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that unfair pay complaints can be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck-and that 180 days resets after each paycheck is issued.
Since then, the Roberts Supreme Court has succeeded in undermining many other rights, including the right to vote and the right to fair elections - elections free of the corrupting influence of dark money. The difference was that in 2009, the president had partners in Congress who were willing to do the people's work and fix the mistakes of the court. So much has changed, so much work that will not be done until we can elect a Congress that reflects the values of the majority of our people. That will not happen with the 114th Congress, dubbed "America's New Congress ™" by the Republican majority - dubbed "America's Nightmare Come True ™" by the majority of Americans.
We can fix this, we must fix this.
Between now and November 2016, tell everyone you know of the enormous power each and every citizen has: the power to choose our government. Talk it up, pump them up ... so that when we all exercise that "most basic human right", we can once again have a government creating laws like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.
On Saturday, the best and brightest of the Republican Party met in Iowa to plumb the depths of their descent into madness*.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) invited the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls to strut their stuff (sorry for the visual!) at the Iowa Freedom Summit. King is most recently "famous" for calling young Latino college students, who were sitting with the First Lady at the State of Union, "deportables".
The Iowa Freedom Summit was a Very Important Event: one can tell because it has "freedom" in it and it is a "summit". And IOWA!! The place of the first nominating contest because nothing says Bellwether like a state that is 98% white and which selected Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012 as the Republican standard bearers. Finger on the pulse of America, Iowa, finger on the pulse.
Eric Wolfson @EricWolfson
If ignorance is bliss, #IAFreedomSummit must be the happiest place on earth.
Watching the assault on our democracy, and on our common sense, unfold would be more entertaining if it were not for this sobering observation:
One of these people might be the next president. Nothing funny about this #IAFreedomSummit
PLEASE don't let that happen.
The one thing every Republican candidate seems to have in common with normal people is they don't think Jeb Bush or Mitt can beat Hillary.
And with that, let's follow the summit of freedumbs on Twitter ...
In this week's address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class.
Through common-sense proposals like closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and providing tax relief to the middle class, making two years of community college free for responsible students, strengthening paid leave policies and access to quality child care for working families, and raising the minimum wage, we can ensure that everyone benefits from, and contributes to, America's success.
Middle-class economics is working, and we have laid a new foundation, but there is still progress to be made, and the President said he is eager to get to work.
President Barack Obama speaking to Congress and the American people:
... tonight, we turn the page. Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. (Applause.) Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before. More of our people are insured than ever before. (Applause.) And we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years. (Applause.)
Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. (Applause.) Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. (Applause.) We are humbled and grateful for your service.
America, for all that we have endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong. (Applause.)
The recent advertising campaign, launched by Nikon, "I Am Generation Image," has attracted a huge amount of media buzz, specifically because two of their featured subjects are a black gay male couple and their kids.
librarisingnsf had a diary about them last week. The Instagram photo they uploaded doing their girl's hair in the morning, set off a firestorm - some supportive, and some very hateful, but it got them noticed by Nikon.
"Last year, we were surprised when a picture of us doing our daughters' hair went viral. To us, that's just part of our morning routine. With our images, we want to share our family's life - and maybe reveal how much our family is like yours."