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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for February 2015

From the White House: Honoring The Women of the Civil Rights Movement

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.


From the White HouseHonoring the Women of the Civil Rights Movement, Both Past and Present

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.

President Obama: The Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act has earned my veto

From the White House:

Veto Message to the Senate: S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act


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.


“Glory” is Glorious

I did not watch the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony.

I was disgruntled by the Academy diss, and certain media punditry about the film “Selma,” which I wrote about in “Black and female eye on the Oscars .”

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).

President Obama: “… you should be able to retire with dignity and a sense of security”

From the White House:

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.

The president spoke to the AARP on Monday:

… 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.

(Full transcript: Remarks by the President at the AARP)

Weekly Address: President Obama – We Should Make Sure the Future is Written by Us

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.


From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President underscored the importance of continuing to grow our economy and support good-paying jobs for our workers by opening up new markets for American goods and services.

While America’s businesses, ranchers, and farmers are already exporting goods at record levels, there’s more room for growth with 95 percent of the world’s customers living outside our borders. In order to pursue new trade agreements, the President called on Congress to pass trade promotion authority so that the U.S. — not China — can play a leading role in negotiating 21st century trade deals that protect our workers, support good wages, and help grow the middle class.

President Obama: “The country’s most special places should belong to everybody”

From the White House:

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.