From Springfield Illinois, 2/10/2016:

President Obama:

The point I’m trying to make is I care about fixing our politics not only because I’m the President today, or because some of my initiatives have been blocked by Congress — that happens to every President, happens to every governor, happens to everybody who participates — anybody who participates in a democracy. You’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want all the time.

The reason this is important to me is, next year I’ll still hold the most important title of all, and that’s the title of citizen. And as an American citizen, I understand that our progress is not inevitable — our progress has never been inevitable. It must be fought for, and won by all of us. […]

We’ve got to build a better politics — one that’s less of a spectacle and more of a battle of ideas; one that’s less of a business and more of a mission; one that understands the success of the American experiment rests on our willingness to engage all our citizens in this work.

And that starts by acknowledging that we do have a problem. And we all know it. What’s different today is the nature and the extent of the polarization. […]

this isn’t just an abstract problem for political scientists. This has real impact on whether or not we can get things done together. This has a real impact on whether families are able to support themselves, or whether the homeless are getting shelter on a cold day. It makes a difference as to the quality of the education that kids are getting. This is not an abstraction. […]

… I do want to offer some steps that we can take that I believe would help reform our institutions and move our system in a way that helps reflect our better selves. And these aren’t particularly original, but I just want to go ahead and mention them.

He went on to mention money in politics, gerrymandering, and making it easier to vote.

One speech will not fix all that ails our republic but this speech, if anyone cared to listen to it, has a good roadmap.

Thank you, President Obama.

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Our next president will likely get to choose three, perhaps four, people to sit on the Supreme Court. Those women and men are the ultimate arbiters of our laws and appointing people with integrity, and who are not warped by partisan ideology, is one of the most important tasks of the executive branch.

But justice is more than just who sits on the Supreme Court – it is the Justice Department and the power to prosecute those who willfully flout our laws and trample the civil rights of our citizens.

Yesterday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department  has filed a lawsuit against Ferguson Missouri. The City of Ferguson had agreed to modify their law enforcement practices after negotiations; abruptly, the city council, apparently under pressure from the county, voted down the agreement.

Attorney General Lynch:
AGLynchFerguson

Video on CSPAN: http://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?404586-1/attorney-general-loretta-lynch-news-conference-ferguson-lawsuit

 

Today, the Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws.  We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and I have no doubt that we will prevail.

The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe.  They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights and that thousands of other police departments follow every day.  They have waited nearly a year for their municipal courts to commit to basic, reasonable rules and standards.  But as our report made clear, the residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights – the rights guaranteed to all Americans – for decades.  They have waited decades for justice.  They should not be forced to wait any longer.

Full text of opening statement is below.

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Posted by: JanF | December 9, 2015

Both sides DON’T do it!

Once again, the Fair and Balanced Media has declared that “Both Sides Do it” as they analyze the Trumpism phenomenon that is degrading American politics.

Margaret Chase Smith: ‘… I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear’. Sadly, there is no Margaret Chase Smith to bail your bony asses out this time, GOP. You drove all the Reasonable Republicans away.

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Posted by: JanF | December 8, 2015

Evenwel v Voting Rights at SCOTUS

Today the Supreme Court hears the Evenwel v Abbott, the so-called “One Person, One Vote” case. This is the case ginned up by white rights activist Edward Blum.

A Blum Bag filled with bullpucky briefs and argle bargle

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Right-wing canard alert!!

Yesterday’s domestic terrorism incident at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs generated a cornucopia of right-wing canards (do not cook and eat them, they are poisonous!).

Here’s one! From a congressman who CNN decided they should have on LIVE while the terrorist was still active in Colorado Springs (“CNN: When we can’t be bothered reporting the news, we just make stuff up!!”):

[Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) had no problem] diagnosing the motives and influences of the shooter. “This is a person that has a mental health issue, that is to some level psychotic and crazy,” Kinzinger said. He also said the shooter could have had a “legitimate disagreement” with Planned Parenthood.

Aha! This kind of “legitimate” disagreement?

“We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Kinzinger said.

He demanded an apology from Planned Parenthood for even suggesting that the terrorist may have been inspired by the anti-woman jihadists in Congress:

We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.
– Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains

And it is that poisonous environment, fueled by right-wing lies and enabled by Republicans in Congress that has given people like the terrorist in Colorado Springs permission to kill. Maybe there is a mental illness, Congressman, Planned Parenthood Derangement Syndrome – PPDS, with its roots in centuries of misogyny and women as property and reinforced by this terrorist organization:

Own this, Republican Congressmen. You and your party have blood on your hands.

Meanwhile, the sounds of silence from the GOP presidential candidates is deafening:

Approximately 10 hours after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, only two presidential candidates have issued statements expressing support for either the three victims or the women’s health organization.

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton
Today and every day, we #StandWithPP.

Bernie Sanders @BernieSanders
We proudly #StandWithPP of Colorado Springs and the brave law enforcement personnel who fought to protect it.

p.s. You can Stand with Planned Parenthood also:

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People don’t vote against their own best interests. They may vote against what others perceive to be that voter’s best interests but they themselves are voting for the candidates, or party, that they feel will best represent them and their interests. To suggest otherwise is not only disrespectful but counterproductive.

One of the Democratic Party candidates, in a cringe-worthy (for me) moment during the recent MSNBC forum, stated emphatically that working class white people in poor states are “voting against their own best interests” when they vote for Republicans. Last Tuesday, when Kentucky voted for Matt Bevin, a Republican who vowed to repeal the Kentucky implementation of the Affordable Care Act and also refuse to take the Medicaid expansion money, Twitter and the lefty blogs were filled with denunciations of “those people” voting against their best interests.

It may indeed turn out that their best interests will not be served but they did not, when they pulled that lever or touched that screen or filled in that oval, think that they were voting against themselves and their futures … maybe even their own lives or the lives of their loved ones if they subsequently lost healthcare.

Words matter. And our words questioning people’s intelligence are not going to win them over. “Oh no, that lefty librul from the lefty librul city of Madison says I am being dumb to vote for the Republican! I must mend my ways!!!” Not. Bloody. Likely.

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Posted by: JanF | October 25, 2015

Passing the Baton to the Next Democratic President

Arriving in my Inbox last night was an email from David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign manager from the 2008 election.

But it didn’t come from barackobama.com this time … it came from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign!

Friend —

During the most intense days of the 2008 primary, while I was serving as the Obama campaign manager, I would never have imagined writing this email.

But eight years later, I believe Hillary Clinton should — and will — be our next president. She will make an outstanding and worthy successor to President Obama. She will do big and important things — and we will all look back and be proud of whatever we did to help elect her.

Here’s what I (and so many fellow Obama campaign veterans) have learned about Hillary Clinton:

She doesn’t quit — and there were times I wish she had! But you have to deeply admire that strength and persistence. From her job at the Children’s Defense Fund to her work as First Lady of the United States, as a U.S. Senator for New York, and as the Secretary of State, she’s been working everyday to make people’s lives better.

You won’t find anyone in this race more determined than Hillary to make sure every single American has a fair shot to live up to their potential. There is no one more prepared, more diligent, or more ready with detailed plans for how to make it happen.

Hillary will protect President Obama’s legacy — and like President Obama before her, she will make history. I look forward to the day my daughter, who was born a little more than 48 hours after the glorious scene in Grant Park in 2008, will know just as well as my son that she can grow up to be anything she wants, even president of the United States.

The stakes in this election are enormous. The difference between Hillary and a Trump, Carson, or Rubio could not be more profound. Once again, we need a president who understands the challenges we face — someone who can and will do something about it.

Hillary Clinton is that leader. And if we step up to fight alongside her, she’ll be the next president of the United States.

Go win this thing, Madam Secretary.

Sincerely,

David Plouffe

David Plouffe also posted his thoughts on Medium: Why I’m for Hillary Clinton.

In that post, he referenced Candidate Barack Obama’s speech at the 2007 Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner, a speech that set the tone for his campaign … and really his presidency.

This year’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner was held last night and Hillary Clinton spoke at this one as well but not as a challenger to Barack Obama but as a candidate glad to take the baton from President Obama and continue his legacy and further advance Democratic Party principles.
HillaryAtJJ
http://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4556695

Transcript snippets:

“I’M RUNNING AS A PROUD DEMOCRAT”.

“WE DEMOCRATS ARE OFFERING REAL SOLUTIONS. LIKE PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS DONE FOR THE PAST 6.5 YEARS.”

“HE SAVED THE AUTO INDUSTRY. HE IMPOSED TOUGH, NEW RULES ON WALL STREET. AND HE EXTENDED HEALTH CARE TO 18 MILLION AMERICANS. [APPLAUSE]”

“WE NEED TO DEFEND THE PROGRESS THAT WE HAVE MADE UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA. AND WE NEED TO BUILD ON IT, UNTIL THE RECOVERY IS SECURE, AND ALL AMERICANS HAVE A CHANCE TO RAISE THEIR INCOMES.”

I echo David Plouffe: “Go win this thing, Madam Secretary.”

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Hillary Clinton spoke at the Brookings Instution this past week and repeated her support for the Iranian nuclear agreement and laid out her own plan for dealing with Iran:


(Streamed live on Sep 9, 2015, Brookings live streamed remarks from former Secretary of State Clinton on her view of the significance of the Iran nuclear deal and its implications for the future of U.S. foreign policy in the region.)

Secretary Clinton:

“Here’s how I see it. Either we move forward on the path of diplomacy and seize this chance to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon – or, we turn down a more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future. […]

“Those of us who have been out there on the diplomatic front lines know that diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection – it’s the balancing of risk. And on balance, the far riskier course right now would be to walk away.

Great powers can’t just junk agreements and expect the rest of the world to go along with us. We need to be reasonable and consistent, and we need to keep our word – especially when we’re trying to lead a coalition. That’s how we’ll make this – and future – deals work.

She identified a peaceful path for Iran to follow while not taking anything off the table as it relates to dealing with future transgressions – a delicate balancing act. As much as we all prefer peace over war, to take the use of military force off the table would not be wise. That said, to actually use military force unless absolutely necessary would be reckless. I, for one, hope she can successfully thread that needle.

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Posted by: JanF | September 9, 2015

Things That Actually Matter: Campaign Finance Reform

While everyone was off chowing down on the nothingburger being served by the bored press (“not sorry?” “sorry” “but are you really really sorry?”), Hillary Clinton was rolling out more of her 2016 presidential campaign platform. On Tuesday, it was campaign finance reform, something that is personal for her.

Did you know Citizens United was started by a conservative group lobbying against Hillary Clinton? Watch as Kristina Schake of the Hillary For America campaign explains why Hillary is passionate about overturning Citizen United, and stoping the flow of dark unaccountable money in campaigns.

Secretary Clinton:

“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political system and drowning out the voices of too many everyday Americans,” Clinton said in a statement. “Our democracy should be about expanding the franchise, not charging an entrance fee. It starts with overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and continues with structural reform to our campaign finance system so there’s real sunshine and increased participation.” […]

David Donnelly, the president and CEO of Every Voice, a campaign finance reform group, praised Clinton’s plan, noting it was as comprehensive and bold on the issue as the proposals he has seen from any presidential candidate.

“These proposals get us 90 percent to 95 percent there to address the issue of money in our elections,” he said, adding that the additional 5 to 10 percent comes down to enforcing the rules.

To those who call this call for changes hypocritical since Hillary Clinton’s campaign will benefit from Super-PACs:

“Those candidates that are competing in the current system have to play under the rules as they are rather than the rules as they should be,” [Donnelly] said. “Hillary Clinton has chosen to come out with a serious plan to address a major problem that every voter and every candidate knows exists, and the alternative is to basically clam up and not talk about it and accept the way things are.”

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Leonard Pitts, Jr. has something to say about #BlackLivesMatter:

This is a column about three words of moral cowardice:

“All lives matter.”

Those words have risen as a kind of counter to “Black lives matter,” the movement that coalesced in response to recent killings and woundings of unarmed African Americans by assailants — usually police officers — who often go unpunished. Mike Huckabee raised that counter-cry last week, telling CNN, “When I hear people scream ‘black lives matter,’ I’m thinking, of course, they do. But all lives matter. It’s not that any life matters more than another.”

As if that were not bad enough, the former Arkansas governor and would-be president upped the ante by adding that Martin Luther King would be “appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”

“Elevating some lives.” Lord, have mercy.

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