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.
In this week's address, President Obama laid out his vision for quality, affordable higher education for all Americans.
Today, a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class and beyond, but it has also never been more expensive. Everyone, from elected officials to universities to business leaders, has a part to play in making college affordable for all students. The President has already made historic investments in college education affordability, and earlier this week, he announced a Student Aid Bill of Rights - a set of guiding principles behind his vision for affordable education.
In his address the President urged everyone to visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity and sign this declaration, because together we can ensure students who work hard for a college degree do not graduate saddled with debt.
VP Joe Biden has spoken out forcefully against the 47 Republicans who took it upon themselves, with no constitutional authority to meddle and attempt to undermine the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.
I served in the United States Senate for thirty-six years. I believe deeply in its traditions, in its value as an institution, and in its indispensable constitutional role in the conduct of our foreign policy. The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.
This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American President, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States. Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger.
In this week's address, the President discussed an issue close to his heart: education for adolescent girls around the world. Earlier this week, he and the First Lady announced "Let Girls Learn," a whole of government initiative that will build on investments we have made and successes we have achieved in global primary school education, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education and pursue their broader aspirations.
62 million girls around the world -- half of whom are adolescent -- are not in school and therefore have diminished economic opportunities. Yet when a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community. That's why the President and First Lady have made addressing this problem a priority because every girl has so much to offer to the world, and no girl should be denied her chance to learn.
Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.
"When I take Malia and Sasha down with Michelle next week, down to Selma, part of what I'm hoping to do is to remind them of their own obligations. Because there are going to be marches for them to march, and struggles for them to fight"
Bright Hawaiian lei will be on full display this weekend when President Barack Obama, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and others march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to mark the anniversary of the civil rights protests.[...]
In photos of the 54-mile third march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, 1965, Martin Luther King, John Lewis and other demonstrators can be seen wearing the iconic Hawaiian flower garlands.
The journey of those flowers from Hawaii to Alabama started a year earlier, when King delivered a lecture at the University of Hawaii. It was there that he met Rev. Abraham Akaka, the brother of future U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
In the lead-up to the third march, as President Lyndon Johnson was making preparations to protect the demonstrators with military policemen and the Alabama National Guard, Rev. Akaka sent gifts of bright white lei from the Pacific Ocean to the Deep South to be draped on the marchers.
For the reverend, it was a symbolic gesture that affirmed Asian-American support for the civil rights movement.
Now, 50 years later, Lewis and Hawaii native Obama will join Asian-American lawmakers Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Mark Takai, among nearly 100 lawmakers, to pay homage to the civil rights movement and "Bloody Sunday."
The first black president, born in Hawaii, will be wearing a lei to honor the civil rights movement.
Inside the Ferguson court. Black people pay fees and fines. White people collect them.
After reading the Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Ferguson police department, lyrics from an old song "Sixteen Tons" kept going through my head. "Another day older and deeper in debt....I owe my soul to the company store," and someone needs to do an update with "I owe my soul to the Ferguson Court."
That lyric references "debt bondage,"and though the original song was talking about coal miners, in my head I envisioned black sharecroppers, who after emancipation lived in debt and suffering under the yoke of white planters.
Systemic racism is intersectional-so it covers policing, repression, economics, schooling, housing ...
This is what I call urban sharecropping-black rural populations lived in debt to "the company store." Black urban populations like those in Ferguson now live in debt to the township. Race is never overshadowed. It is the driving force behind systems of subjugation and control. Missouri was a slave state. Might as well sing Dixie when you think of it.
The harvest in Ferguson is cash. The police are like the overseers and drivers on plantations of old, keeping black folks in line and paying...paying...paying. Sass back, get shot or bit by dog. Can't pay-go to jail. The boss who profits...well you can figure that out.
Cross-posted from Denise Oliver Velez at Daily Kos
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.