Attorney General Eric Holder bid a final farewell to what he predicts will be recognized in the next half-century as a new "Golden Age" at the Department of Justice, leaving behind a historic six-year tenure as the first African-American man to serve as the nation's top attorney.
"This is something that has meant the world to me, it has helped define me as an individual and as a lawyer, as a man," Holder said in his final send-off Friday with the department employees who served under him. [...]
In a nod to his historic achievements, the Justice Department released a video earlier in the day featuring prominent politicians from President Bill Clinton to Rep. John Lewis to Sen. Patrick Leahy, describing Holder's legacy as "the people's lawyer." [...]
Slipping off his wrist a black band with the inscription "Free Eric Holder" - a fashion statement among his supporters in the Justice Department during the months-long stand-off over Lynch's confirmation - Holder tossed the rubber bracelet into the crowd in his final act as attorney general.
"I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free," he said.
On April 22, Earth Day 2015, President Barack Obama will travel to Everglades National Park in Florida and talk about man-made climate change.
... on Earth Day, I'm going to visit the Florida Everglades to talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy. The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country. But it's also one of the most fragile. Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure - and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry - at risk.
Obama's choice of the Florida Everglades as the setting for the speech is significant for the ecologically delicate nature of the area, as well as the fact that parts of the state are already routinely dealing with the effects of sea level rise as a result of climate change. Miami is regularly subject to "sunny day flooding" when tidal waters back up through the city's drains. [...]
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016, has questioned the role of humans in climate change and voted against an amendment holding Congress to the view that humans are causing climate change.
With legislative efforts dead on Capitol Hill in the face of Republican opposition, Obama has sought to move forward on his own in ways large and small. The trip, on Earth Day, to the 734 square-mile tropical wetlands is aimed at highlighting a region that the administration said is threatened by global warming.
"The Everglades are flat, and they border a rising ocean," Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Obama, wrote on the White House blog. "As the sea levels rise, the shorelines erode, and that salty water travels inland, threatening the aquifers supplying fresh drinking water to Floridians."
Deese tied the potential damage to the economy -- namely, the state's tourism industry -- and added that "we're far beyond a debate about climate change's existence. We're focused on mitigating its very real effects here at home."
In this week's address, the President spoke about his commitment to combatting the threat of climate change and to keeping ourselves and future generations safe. The effects of climate change can no longer be denied or ignored - 2014 was the planet's warmest year recorded, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have happened this century.
Climate change poses risks to our national security, our economy, and our public health. The President has already taken historic steps to address climate change, but there's more that the United States and the international community can do. That's why next Wednesday, on Earth Day, in the latest part of his effort to call attention to and act on the threat of climate change, the President will visit the Florida Everglades and speak about the threat that climate change poses to our economy and to the world.
There are still places in America where sensible, commonsense regulations can be crafted in a bipartisan fashion. Montana is one of them.
Back in 2010, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy famously posited that unlimited corporate money donations could not possibly lead to corruption or any erosion of people's faith in the fairness of elections. That fantasy theory became the law of the land as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corporate "free speech" and Citizens United.
And I'm gonna keep on writing about her, and signing petitions, and making phone calls to the Senate (The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121). Every day that passes we learn of new atrocities taking place against members of our community, and the god-damned vicious petty demagogues who sit on their larded behinds in seats paid for by our tax dollars refuse to fill one of the most important cabinet positions in this nation. They got no shame.
Those are the words used by the Federation of South African women when they marched 20,000 strong in 1956 protesting pass laws. These words were echoed in the outcry of women in North Carolina recently...angry about the continued delay in confirming their sister North Carolinian to become Attorney General of the United States.
Over the weekend, President Obama traveled to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas. The White House reports:
This past week, President Obama participated in the seventh Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama. The Summit of the Americas is a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the Americas. President Obama's participation in the Summit highlights the continuing commitment of the U.S. to upholding the role that independent civil society and the private sector play in a shared democratic agenda.
While in Panama City, President Obama participated in a CEO summit along with prominent business executives and heads of state from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.
During the Summit, President Obama sat down with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The two discussed shared priorities, like food security and climate change.
President Obama also sat down with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to discuss the partnership between the U.S. and Panama on security, the economy, and education, and how they could further deepen ties between the two countries.
Additionally, in a historic first, President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro, in their first full meeting since the U.S. decided to chart a new course in relations with Cuba.
President Barack Obama participates in a pull-aside with Cuban President Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas Second Plenary Session at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama, April 11, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
President Obama and President Castro discussed our shared histories, and the significant change in policy and the relationship between our two countries. Both leaders agreed that the majorities of the American people and Cuban people had responded positively to the thaw in relations.
"This is obviously a historic meeting."
- President Obama on his first full meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro
My favorite picture of a GBH taken in the Padden Creek estuary within a quarter mile of the Heronry. This was taken a few years ago in early spring, about now.
The Great Blue Heron (GBH; Ardea herodias) is found in all parts of North and Central America. Although many areas like to claim them as their own, residents of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea in particular, feel a strong affinity for these statuesque creatures. To most locals, they are right up there with eagles and gulls as being part of our "native" landscape and part of our ecosystem. While not endangered at this time, they are considered a species of interest.
Later today, the first candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating contest will throw her hat into the ring.
No, not her. She is doing a great job right where she is. She is just a reminder of what is at stake.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will officially enter the Democratic Party nominating contest. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth ... and then the Republicans will weigh in, too! I believe their slogan will be "First the black guy, now the girl!?!1!!"
It should come as no surprise that I expect to weigh in as well and my theme for 2016 will be simple: we need to nominate the strongest candidate possible for the general election. This is not a "take the party back to our grassroots!" election, this is not a time to show our purity and consider only candidates who have never met anyone on Wall Street, this is not a time to dredge up the parts of the past that are unlikely to be good predictors of the future: it is a time to come together and emerge as strong as possible from the primary season and well positioned for the general election.
There are core Democratic Party principles that should guide all of our candidates. There are also hot button issues that make a candidate less attractive or more attractive to certain groups. But the only litmus test should be: can our candidate win in 2016?
Reason number 1: The Supreme Court (and the appellate courts and the district courts).
The next president could have the opportunity to choose 3 or 4 new justices for the Supreme Court. The chance to tilt the court to the left is a real possibility.
President Barack Obama appointed two justices for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen. Justice Sotomayor became the first Latina on the court and holds dear the values most Democrats embrace.
On Monday, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring this week, April 6-12, 2015, as National Public Health Week.
As part of the effort to support public health with a sense of purpose and determination, the Obama administration has focused on how climate change affects our environment. Our public health is deeply tied to the health of our environment. As the planet warms, we face new threats to our health and well-being, and the President is taking steps to counteract those threats.
Tuesday, President Obama spoke at Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C., joined by the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy, and Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, at a roundtable. The President explained what the Administration has already done to reduce the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide that are contributing to climate change, and discussed ways to prepare our communities for the impacts that cannot be avoided.
President Barack Obama gives remarks to the press during a roundtable discussion on climate change and public health at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., April 7, 2015
In keeping with the President's directive to make government as open as possible, as well as his commitment to combating climate change, the Administration also announced this morning that it's expanding its Climate Data Initiative to include more than 150 health-relevant datasets on climate.data.gov.
Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.
In this week's address, the President described the historic understanding the United States -- with our allies and partners -- reached with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. The deal, announced on Thursday, meets our core objectives of cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.
It is both comprehensive and long-term, and includes robust and intrusive inspections of the country's nuclear program. The President reiterated that the deal is not yet done -- and if there is backsliding from Iran in the months to come, there will be no deal. He echoed his belief that a diplomatic resolution is by far the best option, and promised to continue to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance and progress of the negotiations in the months to come.
From the Rose Garden - President Obama on the International Nuclear Framework with Iran:
This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. So this deal is not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification.
... if we can get this done and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and to do so peacefully.
A reminder to Congress and perhaps the 2016 GOP presidential field:
So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world's major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we've done for almost two decades with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?
... the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace.
... this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies. If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it's the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.
Yesterday's PPP report showed that Ted Cruz's entry into the presidential race has shaken up the polls.
Republican Primary voters, March 26 through March 31st (PDF):
- Scott Walker 20% (down from 25%)
- Jeb Bush 17% (steady)
- Ted Cruz 16% (up from 5%)
- Ben Carson and Rand Paul 10%
- Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee 6%
- Chris Christie 4%
- Rick Perry 3%
Cruz has really caught fire with voters identifying themselves as 'very conservative' since his announcement. After polling at only 11% with them a month ago, he now leads the GOP field with 33% to 25% for Walker and 12% for Carson with no one else in double digits.
Now that the "severely conservative" wing of the party has a standard bearer, the 2016 nominating contest is starting to shape up as a race between the establishment, the true believers, and those who have not yet figured out that when Scott Walker says "you don't have to move to the center to win the center" he means that he lies to the center to get them to vote for him. The Wall Street Journal is making it their business to point out every Walker flip-and-flop because Jeb(!).
We'll soon see if Carson or Huckabee can get some of this support back, or if it's leeched away by Scott Walker, or if Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal or Rick Santorum or some combination of them can poach on it with their own announcement events. All I'll say at this point is that it sure looks like a different nominating contest dynamic with someone clearly on top of the hard-core conservative pile than without it. A more divided right-wing vote keeps Jeb Bush at or near the top.
As the Republican Party moves further and further away from the mainstream, with their anti-immigration, anti-gay agenda, Ted Cruz will become the face of the Republican Party. Purdy, ain't it?
I sat down at my keyboard this morning ready to write about the 2016 presidential election, this time to weigh in on the Democratic Party's nominating contest. I had read a troubling interview, from the Sunday morning talk shows, given by one of the not-quite-announced Democratic candidates and it reminded me of how important it is to keep our eye on the big picture.
After scanning my news feed, I found that I didn't have to start from scratch because Michael Tomasky, in an article in the 150th Anniversary Edition of The Nation, had already made many of my points for me. His piece, snarkily titled "Lesser-Evilism We Can Believe In" included a sub-heading that asks this important question: "Should we put government in the hands of a party determined to subvert it, or a party - however flawed - that believes it still has a role to play in securing the common good?"
In this week's address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending.
The President emphasized his commitment to fighting to advance middle-class economics and ensure everybody who works hard can get ahead, while opposing attempts by Republicans both to weaken the CFPB and give large tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class.
On 25 March 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had been campaigning for voting rights.
I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?" (Speak, sir) Somebody's asking, "How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?" Somebody's asking, "When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?" Somebody's asking, "When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?" (Yes, sir)
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because "truth crushed to earth will rise again." (Yes, sir)
How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because "no lie can live forever." (Yes, sir)
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Heck, why not? A Moose Straw Poll is probably at least as good a predictor as the Iowa Straw Poll which has not successfully picked the eventual nominee since 2000.
According to The Hill, there are 20 candidates who have thrown their hats near the ring ... ready to nudge them in given even the slightest encouragement.
Get ready for the largest GOP presidential field in recent history.
As many as 20 Republicans are taking a serious look at running for the White House in 2016. A handful of candidates have moved aggressively into the field, and others are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks, with several announcements expected in April.
According to the article, the field of declared candidates for the last election cycle never exceeded 10 and the largest group at a debate was 9 (in 2011).
In this week's address, the President called on Republicans in Congress to stop playing politics with law enforcement and national security and confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States.
Loretta is an independent, career prosecutor who deserves to be confirmed as soon as possible. She has proven herself time and again throughout her 30-year career, yet come Monday, the amount of time her nomination will have languished on the floor of the Senate will total more than that of the past seven Attorney General nominees combined.
In his address the President asked Republicans in Congress to stop denying a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch and end the longest confirmation process for an Attorney General in three decades.
Now, over the course of my presidency, one that began in the depths of a historic crisis, no issue has been more important than the future of our economy. That's certainly been of great interest in Ohio and in Cleveland. No topic has weighed more heavily on the minds of ordinary families, and no subject is more worthy of a great, big, open debate.
Seventy-five years ago, another President came here to Cleveland to engage in this debate. He was nearing the end of his second term, eight years in office marked by a devastating depression, a hard-fought recovery, fierce political divisions at home, looming threats overseas. But for all the challenges of a changing world, FDR refused to accept the notion that we are anything less than the masters of our fate. "We are characters in this living book of democracy," he said. "But we are also its author. It falls upon us now to say whether the chapters that are to come will tell a story of retreat or of continued advance." [...]
Well, after 12 million new jobs, a stock market that has more than doubled, deficits that have been cut by two-thirds, health care inflation at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years, manufacturing coming back, auto industry coming back, clean energy doubled -- I've come not only to answer that question, but I want to return to the debate that is central to this country, and the alternative economic theory that's presented by the other side.
Because their theory does not change. It really doesn't. It's a theory that says, if we do little more than just cut taxes for those at the very top, if we strip out regulations and let special interests write their own rules, prosperity trickles down to the rest of us. And I take the opposite view. And I take it not for ideological reasons, but for historic reasons, because of the evidence. [...]
So when we, the American people, when the public evaluates who's got the better argument here, we've got to look at the facts. It's not abstractions. There may have been a time when you could just say, well, those two theories are equally valid. They're differences of opinion. They could have been abstract economic arguments in a book somewhere. But not anymore. Reality has rendered its judgment: Trickle-down economics does not work. And middle-class economic does.
We already know quite a bit about Senator Tom Cotton and his willingness to torpedo talks with Iran, spearheading the infamous 47 Senator letter. Since it behooves black folks to also examine candidates (and he is running for something) about where they stand on issues that directly affect us, figured I'd do a little digging into his opining on us.
Arkansas Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton has earned some flack for his Harvard Crimson columns, in which he at turns compares a golf cup to battle, calls libertarians "sanctimonious," brushes off feminism, and says affirmative action is "superficial" diversity. A new trawl through the archives shows Cotton wrote a review for the Harvard Salient, the university's conservative political journal, of America in Black and White by Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom. The thesis of the book seems to be that Democrats refuse to accept how much better life is for black people today (read: in the late '90s) than in the pre-war era.
In other words, they are packaging yet another future Presidential hopeful to add to the roster of crazy they've already ginned up. Yes, I'm talking about Senator Tom Cotton (R), the junior senator from Arkansas.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton is touring the United States' Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba Friday along with some freshmen Republican senators, according to a report.
Joining him on the trip are Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
In case, in all the fury around Cotton leading the band of 47 Senators in their drumbeats towards war with Iran, you don't remember his thoughts on Gitmo, Cotton wants it expanded-not shut.
Cotton has previously slammed President Barack Obama's call for Guantanamo's closure, saying last month that the United States "should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe."
"As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell," Cotton said of Guantanamo prisoners during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February. "But as long as they don't do that, they can rot in Guantanamo Bay."
So stop for a minute and just think about the basics. When an apple falls from a tree, it will drop toward the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. Science tells us that gravity exists, and no one disputes that. Science also tells us that when the water temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it turns to ice. No one disputes that.
So when science tells us that our climate is changing and humans beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, "Well, I dispute that" or "I deny that elementary truth?" And yet, there are those who do so. [...]
... this is personal to me. But you know what? The bottom line is it ought to be personal to everybody, every man, woman, child, businessperson, student, grandparent, wherever we live, whatever our calling, whatever our personal background might be. This issue affects everyone on the planet. And if any challenge requires global cooperation and urgent action, this is it.[...]
Gambling with the future of Earth itself when we know full well what the outcome would be is beyond reckless. It is just plain immoral. And it is a risk that no one should take. We need to face reality. There is no planet B.