Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

President Obama Speaks About Baltimore: “This is not new …”

From the White House: President Obama on Freddie Gray’s Death

On April 12, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old native of Baltimore, was arrested by the city’s police. He died a week later.

The Department of Justice is now investigating the events that led to his death and today, President Obama offered his thoughts to the family and friends of Freddie Gray who are appropriately looking for answers while at the same time making clear there is “no excuse” for violence.

He noted that events in Baltimore called attention to the urgent need throughout the country to build trust between communities and their police.

“We have some soul-searching to do. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.”

– President Obama

“If our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could — it’s just that it would require everybody saying, ‘This is important, this is significant.'”  

– President Obama

“This has been going on for a long time,” the President said. “This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new. The good news is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness, because of social media and video cameras and so forth, that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities and we have to pay attention to it.

Every American has role to play in tackling this longstanding challenge. “We don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped,” the President said. We should be “paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important and that they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.”

Transcript of Tuesday’s remarks (extracted from “Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe of Japan in Joint Press Conference”:

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you know, the National Guard is now on the streets of Baltimore — the latest aftermath in a series of what have been high-profile confrontations between black men and police officers.  And there seems to be growing frustration among African American leaders that not enough is being done quickly enough.  Marc Morial of the Urban League said, “The U.S. is in a state of emergency of tremendous proportions.”  The president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund says, “We are in the throes of a national crisis.”

Are we in the throes of a national crisis?  What are you prepared to do about it, both in terms of Baltimore and the larger picture?  And what do you say to critics who say that since the death of Trayvon Martin, you have not been aggressive enough in your response?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: … With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.

The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond.

What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves.

And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.

I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.

And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us.

We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades.

And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force. And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.

That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

Bolding added

Is Bernie’s hat going into the ring? UPDATE: Bernie: “I’m Running”

Bernie Sanders to launch Democratic presidential bid

(Reuters) – Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest-serving independent member of the U.S. Congress, will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, Vermont Public Radio reported on Tuesday.

He will release a short statement and hold a campaign kickoff event in subsequent weeks, the radio said, citing several sources. The senator’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

What will a Sanders candidacy mean? Will he press Secretary Clinton on issues progressives are concerned about? Is a contested primary good for the Democratic Party?  

From USA Today: 6 things to know about Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the longest-serving independent member of Congress in history. He has caucused with Democrats since his days as Vermont’s lone congressman, beginning in 1991, but he considers himself a democratic socialist. […]

Sanders is the son of a New York-born mother and Polish-Jewish immigrant father, who worked most of his life as a paint salesman. He has said his lower-middle-class upbringing in Brooklyn taught him what economic insecurity means to a family. He and his wife, Jane, have four children – Levi, Heather, Carina, and David – and seven grandchildren.

He now says he is not actively involved in organized religion. But in terms of economic justice, he said, “I find myself very close to the teachings of Pope Francis.” He described the pope as “incredibly smart and brave.”

What do you think?

UPDATED 4/30/2015: From Bernie’s Twitter Stream

From the Sanders Senate News Site (links from the news site)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Senator Sanders

‘I’m Running’ Promising to fight “obscene levels” of income disparity and a campaign finance system that is a “real disgrace,” independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday he will run for president as a Democrat, The Associated Press reported. Sanders on Thursday announced he would seek the 2016 nomination “in a bid likely to pressure Hillary Clinton from the left and challenge her on financial issues,” Reuters reported. “I’ve been traveling around the country for the last year trying to ascertain whether there really is grassroots support in terms of people standing up and being prepared to take on the billionaire class,” Sanders said in an interview Wednesday with USA Today and the Burlington Free Press. “I believe that there is.” On “Good Morning America,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl said Sanders is “a long shot to be sure with a fiery message about taking on big money interests.”

‘I Love this Country’ Sen. Sanders plans to forge as a progressive political revolution. “I love this country,” Sanders said in an interview Wednesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader, which said he’s motivated to run to address the “decline in the middle class and the unbelievable levels of income inequality.”

‘Don’t Underestimate Me’ Sen. Sanders is running for president, presenting competition from the political left to front-runner Hillary Clinton “People should not underestimate me,” Sanders said. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Sanders’ Goals Avoiding the fanfare that several Republicans have chosen so far when announcing their candidacies, Mr. Sanders issued a statement to supporters that laid out his goals for reducing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics, The New York Times reported online.

Sanders’ Priorities Sen. Sanders has been pushing for higher taxes on the rich and more money for programs serving the middle class and poor since long before talk of income inequality became fashionable. He has long supported creating a public health care system similar to Canada’s and Britain’s. He favors equal pay for women, a higher minimum wage and stronger labor rights. He frequently expresses outrage that a “billionaire class” has taken too much control over the American political and economic systems, and labeled it “beyond belief” when the House voted last month to provide $269 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy. He has backed legislation to crack down on offshore tax havens, provide more youth jobs, expand Social Security and increase the estate tax. He supports a five-year, $1 trillion plan to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure. He says that would create 13 million jobs, AP reported.

Sanders’ Passion “If Sanders can harness the energy coursing through the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he can make the issues he is passionate about central to the campaign and force Mrs. Clinton to embrace more liberal positions on economic issues, much as she has done lately on cultural issues,” The New York Times blogged.

Sanders’ Policies “He’s staked out numerous positions over the years that are considerably more progressive than those embraced by more mainstream Democrats,” according to CBS News. Sanders “has advocated for increases to Medicare and Social Security benefits and pushed for ending tax cuts for the wealthy,” ABC News reported. “The likely effect – and intent – of a Sanders challenge is to push both Clinton’s campaign and her administration, if there is one, further left, thus consolidating liberal control of the party,” Charles Lane wrote for The Washington Post.

White House ’16 Sanders was called “a champion of the progressive movement” on WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sanders “is a man on a mission,” political analyst Chris Graff told WCAX-TV. Sanders appeals to the people who participate in the primaries, Mark Plotkin said on BBC radio. His candidacy also was covered by WPTZ-TV, CNN, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post, NPR and others. With double-digit ratings in multiple polls, Sanders is a leading opponent to Hillary Clinton, The Washington Examiner reported.

How much longer?

 photo e70b2039-27fb-4c73-9701-e38b6880cfc8_zpsv95na4v9.jpg

I’m not even sure why I am asking this question, except right now I’m tired. Saw this graphic on twitter yesterday and it made me think. Not about B’More, though the news and coverage and outrages, and finger-pointing triggered my thoughts.

The debate will rage-on…the pundits will weigh-in, the politicians will take stances, the police will continue to abuse our communities, community leaders of all stripes will attempt to find band-aids, there will be hundreds of people quoting sanitized Martin Luther King at us, (never Malcolm or Gandhi) and the next city will be…take your pick.

Anyone who tries to talk about root causes will be accused of promoting, or condoning “violence” and “thuggery”. One must carefully parse how you talk about this. We will hear about good police and wounded police, and criminal youths till our ears bleed.

I’m tired.  

Being tired doesn’t mean I give up. It just means I didn’t get more than two hours sleep, and I haven’t got the energy to rant right now. I’ll wait to see if there is a follow-up to the Washington Post news item that got buried in the flames. Somehow I doubt it.  

I don’t even listen much to rap music but somehow the soundtrack in my head to all of this is more vintage N.W.A than Marvin Gaye.

I could write a long detailed piece on the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, the street protests aka “riots” I’ve been in, the sane solutions that get proffered (and ignored) but that wouldn’t make much of a difference right now.  

I could ask…what will…and how long will it take?

Too tired to attempt answering my own question.

Odds & Ends: News/Humor

I post a weekly diary of historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the USA) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I often feature in “Cheers & Jeers”.

OK, you’ve been warned – here is this week’s tomfoolery material that I posted.

ART NOTES – an exhibition entitled Cézanne Uncovered – focusing on two of his sketches discovered inside a frame of landscapes – are at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through May 18th.

ONE OF THE MOST lucrative yet risky markets is in that of fine wines – with online platforms helping to make trading a bit more transparent, yet with the whims of the super rich (and wine critics such as Robert Parker) helping to ensure its volatility.

IN RECENT YEARS due to the fiscal crisis, more Italians than ever before have been purchasing frozen pizza – and in a break with common practices, one frozen pizza giant has agreed with a farmers’ association to produce a pizza made entirely from ingredients sourced in Italy.

THURSDAY’s CHILD is Ake the Cat – a Netherlands kitteh who waits at a Rotterdam tram station (until a family member picks him up), often hitches a tram ride and there is even a sign in the station indicating Ake’s own reserved seat.

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with the words written by the poet T.S. Eliot in 1922 …. “April is the cruelest month”.

THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at two of my favorite TV news reporters from my mis-spent youth, Charles Kuralt and Edwin Newman … and their lives when not on-the-job … which had some surprises.

JUST AS THERE ARE several different “Real Housewives of …..” versions here in the US ….. now, there will be a premiere of Desperate Housewives of Africa in Nigeria later this month.

FRIDAY’s CHILD is Rademenes the Cat – a Polish kitteh who was brought into an animal shelter when ill … and now acts as a therapist for pets recuperating from surgery: gently resting on top of recovering cats, spooning canine patients … and sometimes cleaning their ears.

HAIL and FAREWELL to the model for Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 “Rosie the Riveter” painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II, Mary Doyle Keefe – who has died at the age of 92 … and to the long-time film critic at Time Magazine, Richard Corliss – who won praise from Debbie Reynolds to Michael Moore to Martin Scorsese to Kathryn Bigelow – who has died at the age of 71.

BRAIN TEASER – try this Quiz of the Week’s News from the BBC.

By Request SEPARATED at BIRTH from TexDem – film star Sam Rockwell (as seen in the film “The Green Mile”) and a young Scott Walkerwhaddya think?


……and finally, for a song of the week ………………………….. with the death this month of the soul singer Percy Sledge, it is important to recall some of his peers we have lost in recent times. Five years ago we lost another star, Solomon Burke – and here is a profile of someone who has served as a preacher, soul singer, country singer and mortician and – although he never had a Top 20 hit (at least in the pop charts) – ensured himself a place in popular music history.

The Philadelphia native was born in 1940 and began preaching in church while in his teens. He made some recordings for the Apollo label in the 1950’s, with some wide-ranging influences that would stay with him: Nat King Cole, Muddy Waters, Gene Autry, Big Joe Turner and Roy Rogers.  

He then signed with Atlantic Records in 1960 – and for the next decade (along with Ruth Brown) helped keep the label solvent: perhaps one reason why label president Jerry Wexler referred to Burke as “the best soul singer of all time”.

Among his hits: his first was the country tune made famous by Patsy Cline Just Out of Reach and then Got to Get You Off My Mind followed by Cry to Me – which had a second life appearing on the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, two decades later – and “If You Need Me”. In addition, he appeared on a 1968 all-star recording with the Soul Clan – including Don Covay, Ben E. King, Joe Tex and Arthur Conley.

Sadly, a very successful career in R&B just never developed into equal pop success as it had for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin – and in the late 1960’s, he left Atlantic for a series of different record companies. Tellingly, his highest-charting song over the next decade was a cover of Proud Mary on Bell Records. Increasingly he devoted himself to his mortuary business in Los Angeles, as well as his ministry.

Along the way, he began to fashion himself as the King of Rock & Soul: A large man who weighed as much as 400 pounds, he began to appear in a robe of velvet and ermine (Mick Jagger once said it was so heavy, wearing it would have felled him) and seated in a large throne (later due to health problems). He also appeared in the 1987 Ellen Barkin film The Big Easy in the role of Daddy Mention.

When he re-emerged during the 80’s and 90’s, he devoted himself to live performances and recording of classic soul music – not trendy enough to gain mass appeal but becoming quite popular to those seeking authentic roots music, as the All-Music Guide’s Richie Unterberger notes.

He had a major “comeback” album in 2002, as producer Joe Henry – who in 2010 produced the first Mose Allison album in years – convinced Burke to record an album of spare instrumentation, along with songs written by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and others. Don’t Give Up on Me became his best-selling album in years, recalling the appeal of Johnny Cash’s later albums. The disc won a Grammy for best contemporary blues album.

He followed-up with a Don Was-produced album Make Do with What You Got in 2005, and in 2006, he returned to his early country influences with an album entitled Nashville – recorded there along with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, Gillian Welch and Dolly Parton.  

After turning age 70, Burke undertook his first-ever tour of Japan as well as a European tour, and released the album Nothing’s Impossible – produced by the legendary Willie Mitchell (after trying for years to entice Burke to record with him). It proved a fine coda for the career of Mitchell, who died shortly before the album was released.

Alas, it proved to be Solomon Burke’s last album as well, as he passed away in October, 2010 (arriving in the Netherlands for a concert). His passing was mourned around the world and – as a man of the cloth – he had performed several times at the Vatican for both Popes John Paul and Benedict. A few years earlier, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and was named by Rolling Stone as *#89* in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list.

He is perhaps most well-known for his 1964 soul classic Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – co-written with the Atlantic Records team of Bert Berns & Jerry Wexler. It was made famous later that year by the Rolling Stones, three years later by Wilson Pickett – who during the song’s spoken introduction says, “I got this from my friend Solomon Burke” – and (most famously) by the Blues Brothers film in 1980. Rolling Stone named it as #429 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, and below you can listen to it.

I need you to see me through

In the morning time, too

When the sun goes down

Ain’t nobody else around

I need your loving so bad

And I need you, you, you…..

I need you, you, you….

Week-long Welcomings from Moosylvania: Apr. 26th to May 2nd

Welcome to The Moose Pond! The Welcomings diaries give the Moose, old and new, a place to visit and share words about the weather, life, the world at large and the small parts of Moosylvania that we each inhabit.

In lieu of daily check-ins, which have gone on hiatus, Welcomings diaries will be posted at the start of each week (every Sunday morning) and then, if necessary due to a large number of comments, again on Wednesday or Thursday to close out the week. To find the diaries, just bookmark this link and Voila! (which is Moose for “I found everyone!!”).

The format is simple: each day, the first moose to arrive on-line will post a comment welcoming the new day and complaining (or bragging!) about their weather. Or mentioning an interesting or thought provoking news item. Or simply checking in.

So … what’s going on in your part of Moosylvania?

Weekly Address: President Obama – Fighting for Trade Deals that Put American Workers First

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 laid out why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values. These new trade deals are vital to middle-class economics — the idea that this country does best when everybody gets their fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. The President has been clear — any deal he signs will be the most progressive trade agreement in our history with strong provisions for both workers and the environment. It would also level the playing field — and when the playing field is level, American workers always win.


Transcript: Weekly Address: Fighting for Trade Deals that Put American Workers First

Hi, everybody. I’ve talked a lot lately about why new trade deals are important to our economy.

Today, I want to talk about why new trade deals are important to our values.

They’re vital to middle-class economics — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

These are simple values. They’re American values. And we strive to make sure our own economy lives up to them, especially after a financial crisis brought about by recklessness and greed. But we also live in a world where our workers have to compete on a global scale. Right now, on an uneven playing field. Where the rules are different. And that’s why America has to write the rules of the global economy — so that our workers can compete on a level playing field.

I understand why a lot of people are skeptical of trade deals. Past deals didn’t always live up to the hype. They didn’t include the kind of protections we’re fighting for today.

We have lessons to learn from the past — and we have learned them. But trying to stop a global economy at our shores isn’t one of those lessons. We can’t surrender to the future — because we are meant to win the future. If America doesn’t shape the rules of the global economy today, to benefit our workers, while our economy is in a position of new global strength, then China will write those rules. I’ve seen towns where manufacturing collapsed, plants closed down, and jobs dried up. And I refuse to accept that for our workers. Because I know when the playing field is level, nobody can beat us.

That’s why, when I took office, we started thinking about how to revamp trade in a way that actually works for working Americans. And that’s what we’ve done with a new trade partnership we’re negotiating in the Asia-Pacific — home to the world’s fastest-growing markets.

It’s the highest-standard trade agreement in history. It’s got strong provisions for workers and the environment — provisions that, unlike in past agreements, are actually enforceable. If you want in, you have to meet these standards. If you don’t, then you’re out. Once you’re a part of this partnership, if you violate your responsibilities, there are actually consequences. And because it would include Canada and Mexico, it fixes a lot of what was wrong with NAFTA, too.

So this isn’t a race to the bottom, for lower wages and working conditions. The trade agreements I’m negotiating will drive a race to the top. And we’re making sure American workers can retool through training programs and community colleges, and use new skills to transition into new jobs.

If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it. We’ve spent the past six years trying to rescue the economy, retool the auto industry, and revitalize American manufacturing. And if there were ever an agreement that undercut that progress, or hurt those workers, I wouldn’t sign it. My entire presidency is about helping working families recover from recession and rebuild for the future. As long as I’m President, that’s what I’ll keep fighting to do.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.


Thank you, Eric Holder!

Attorney General Eric Holder: The People’s Lawyer

Eric Holder bids final farewell, heralds ‘Golden Age’ at Justice Dept.

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.

Transcript of farewell speech below the fold.

Transcript Attorney General Holder Addresses Department Employees at Departure Ceremony

Thank you, thank you.  Please take your seats.

A couple of business items.  My portrait hangs on the fifth floor of the Justice Department.  And something that has not been mentioned but something that I really pressed Simmie Knox – the artist of the portrait – my kid’s names are hidden in the portrait.  And if you look at the button of my jacket and the wings of the eagle you’ll find the three of them.  And that’s the lore I want to have come out about this portrait.  Find the names of the Holder children – okay?

The other thing, Lee Loftus asked me to check to make sure that you all know that you’re on annual leave. But in my final act as Attorney General – screw it!

This has been a great six years.  Being at the Justice Department has been – I said the last six years but the reality is that I’ve been at this department since 1976, off and on.  I started as a line lawyer in the public integrity section in the Criminal Division and it’s going to be hard for me to walk away from the people who I love and the people who represent this institution that I love so much – but it is time.  It is time to make a transition.  Change is a good thing and I am confident in the work in which you have done that we have laid the foundation for even better things over the course of the next couple of years.

I think that as we look back at these past six years, what I want you all to understand is that you have done truly historic, historic and big things – no matter where you look.  From the basic stuff, this department was restored, it’s restored – it’s restored to what it always was and certainly was when I got here and what it must always be.  Free from politicization, focused on the mission and making sure that justice is done – without any kind of interference from political outsiders.

We have expressed faith in the greatest court system in the world and brought the toughest national security cases into that system and with unbelievable results.  The notion that we’re still having a debate about whether or not cases ought to be brought in the Article 3 system or in military tribunals is over.  It’s dead.  And that’s because, again, of the great work that the prosecutors in various districts have performed in putting together wonderful cases and then successfully trying those cases.

We have had an impact on the environment and people who – and companies that would have spoiled our environment.  Historic, historic wins in that regard as well.  You look at the financial recoveries that um – related to the mortgage crisis, and the huge amounts of money that we put – that we recovered.  And then I think what’s important – and Tony West is here, and I think he deserves some special thanks for that, for what was done with that money.  To try to get it to the people who suffered the most.  The thought was never to simply take that money and put it into the United States Treasury, but to come up with ways in which we could try to get people back into their homes, or to somehow reduce the debt-load that they were dealing with.

Our Antitrust Division lives again – lives again, and has had a tremendous impact in our country, and in the positive things that they’ve done for the American consumer.  We announced – or we’ve heard, I guess, today that a merger that I think would have been extremely anti-competitive and would have not been in the best interests of the American consumer, has been abandoned.  That is because of the great work of the men and women in the Antitrust Division.

Our Tax Division, overseas accounts dealing with our allies in Europe, bringing money back and disallowing the practice that for too long had gone on where people had squirreled away, hidden money that they needed to actually pay taxes for and be held – be accountable for.  Historic stuff, that, as well.  

Indian Country – you think about the tough history that exists between the United States and our Native people, we have put on track, I think, the ability to right some really serious historical wrongs.  We’ve done, I think, a great deal, much work remains to be done.  But this Justice Department was committed to addressing those problems in as frank a way as is possible.

Criminal Justice Reform – if you look at all the statistics, you’ll see the incarceration rate goes like this, and then goes up.  And then goes up in about 1974, late seventies, something like that. And we are a nation that incarcerates too many people for too long and for no good law enforcement reason.  It is time-it is time to change the approaches we have been using these past 30 – 40 years, and through the great work of the people of this department we are starting to reverse that trend.  Again, work remains to be done, but we are on our way.

Civil Rights-the LGBT community is something that I tried to focus on.  I think that is the civil rights issue of our time.  This whole question of same sex marriage will be resolved by the court over, I guess, the next couple of months.  Hopefully that decision will go in a way that I think is consistent with who we say we are as a people, but I also think that is really just a sign; it’s an indication, one part of the fight for overall LGBT equality.  And I think that the work that you all have done in the regard is going to be an integral part of the legacy of this department.

And then, you know, the thing that I think in some ways animates me, angers me, is this whole notion of protecting the right to vote.  We celebrated this year the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  We went to-I went to Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday.  John Lewis was here earlier.  This nation fought a civil war, endured slavery by another name, dealt with legalized segregation.  A civil rights movement in the mid and early sixties transformed this nation.  And the notion that we would somehow go back and put in place things that make it difficult-more difficult for our fellow citizens to vote is simply inconsistent with all that’s good about this country, and something that I was bound and determined to fight.  And our Civil Rights Division has done a superb job in crafting law suits based on a Voting Rights Act that was wrongly gutted by the Supreme Court, and I suspect that we will see successes from those efforts that have-those cases that have been filed.  But that, that of all things, simply cannot be allowed to happen.  The right to vote must be protected.

I want to thank my family, my lovely wife, for the sacrifices they’ve made – over the years not only to allow me to be Attorney General but to be the Deputy Attorney General, to be U.S. Attorney here in Washington, D.C.  Honey, you’ve been the rock in the family.  And you’ve allowed me the opportunity to do the things that that really animated me and allowed me to work with all of these great people.

I also want to say something about the folks you see standing here-my detail.  These are people-men and women-who literally sacrifice their well-being in terms of their interactions with their families.  They travel with me.  They miss weekends.  They work long and hard hours. And they are prepared to do ultimate kinds of things.  And I could not do this job without them. Now they will not smile because they don’t do that.  I see Marcus is smiling a little bit there.  Bart’s also smiling.

And then I just want to thank all of you.  All of you.  You are what make this institution.  You know we have a great building and it is something that is historic in its nature.  But it is only kept great by the dedicated, the perseverance, the commitment that all of you show on a daily basis. And I hope that you all will understand that the job…there is not a routine job in the United States Department of Justice.  Given the great power that we are entrusted with, the responsibilities that we have, I don’t want you all to ever think that it’s just Tuesday and I’m going to get through the day.  That’s not who we are at the United States Department of Justice. It’s not who you all are.  And I think that has certainly been shown in the way in which you have conducted yourselves and the way in which you all have accomplished so much over the last six years.

I said earlier that when we celebrated Robert Kennedy’s 50th anniversary of his swearing-in in 2011, people said that that was the golden age for the United States Department of Justice. Well, I think that 50 years from now, 50 years from now and maybe even sooner than that, people are going to look back at the work that you all did and say that this was another golden age.  That’s how good you all are.  That’s how good you all are.  That’s how dedicated, committed and wonderful you all have been. With a focus on justice.  With a focus on helping those who cannot help themselves.  You have distinguished yourselves.

There’s a long line of excellence in the United States Department of Justice, but every now and again – at an appropriate time – a group comes along that is worthy of special recognition.  And you all are in fact one of those groups.  I am proud of you.  I am proud of you.  I am going to miss you.  I am going to miss this building.  I am going to miss this institution.  But more than anything I am going to miss you all.  This building is always going to be home, and you all will always be my family.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I will be rooting for you from the sidelines.

Now I want to do something here.  We have these bands that I’ve been wearing for the last whatever number of whatevers.  I think I can officially take this off now. I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free.  But it is not necessarily something that I want.  I don’t ever want to be free of this great institution.  I don’t want to ever be free of the relationships that I have forged with so many of you.  I don’t want to ever be free of the notion that I am a member of the United States Department of Justice.  This is something that has meant the world to me.  It has helped define me as an individual, as a lawyer and as a man.

And for that reason, although, I got rid of those bands.  I’m free in one sense that really not as consequential as the way in which I will never be free, nor want to be free of the United States Department of Justice, or free from all of you.

Thank you for your support over the past six years. I look forward to all that you going to do all with the great new leadership of a wonderful new Attorney General who will be sworn in on Monday, and I expect you will do great things over the course of these next two years, but beyond that. With those of you who are career employees, I expect that you will do great things as long as you are part of the Justice Department. There will be some of you who will be here 20 years from now, 30 years from now and I expect that your biographies will be littered with wonderful things.

But again, thank you all so much. I’m going to miss you and as I said in a previous speech, this is my third going away, but I promise that this is the last one. But I’ll end it this way, I love you all madly. Thank you.


From Accomplishments under the Leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder

On his first day as Attorney General, Eric Holder promised the Department’s top priority – and its chief responsibility – would be protecting the security, rights and interests of the American people. Five years later, together with the extraordinary men and women who serve at the Department of Justice, that promise has been fulfilled and under Attorney General Holder the Department will continue its important work on behalf of all Americans.

(More at the link)

An Ode to Charles Kuralt and Edwin Newman


A look at my two favorite old-school TV news reporters, after the jump ……  

For many of my peers, it was either Walter Cronkite, or else Chet Huntley/David Brinkley as their touchstones in TV news reporters – and worthy choices. For me, it was Charles Kuralt of CBS – who had a full career at CBS – and Edwin Newman of NBC – who was a utility newsman, adaptable to seemingly every situation. Later in their careers, the two men showed sides of themselves we had not seen before, yet which only served to endear their work to me even more. Let’s have a fresh look at their careers … Oh, and and by-the-by: I liked them both long before I began to lose my own hair.

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While he is perhaps best known for his human interest “On the Road” series, the CBS newsman Charles Kuralt had a prior career first as a newspaper reporter, then as a foreign correspondent plus covering major national news stories in the 1960’s. If all of the above wasn’t enough: he founded what is – still – one of my favorite TV shows, CBS Sunday Morning. After his death, a surprising revelation came out about him, which sullied his reputation in the eyes of some. Yet he remains one of my all-time favorites … more than seventeen years after his death.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1934, he took to journalism at a young age: winning a children’s sports-writing contest for a local newspaper by writing about – presaging his later career – a dog that ran loose on the field during a baseball game.  He moved with his family to Charlotte (when his father was named director of Public Welfare for the county) and at that city’s Central High school was voted “Most Likely to Succeed”. He was named one of four National Voice of Democracy winners at age 14, earning a $500 scholarship which he used to attend the University of North Carolina.

Once there, he became the editor of the Daily Tar Heel – the University of North Carolina student newspaper. Charles Kuralt said that in the wake of that landmark case that he wrote some editorials criticizing the slow pace of integration. He concluded one editorial by asking North Carolina legislators that – if it would take as long to desegregate the elementary schools as they said it would – “Why not start by opening up this flagship university to all of the people of this state – after all, it belongs to them”. And Kuralt felt pride when he was denounced by name on the floor of the state legislature – albeit only as a pawn of Communism – not as a full-fledged member.

After school, he became a reporter at the Charlotte News, eventually writing a column – also presaging his later career – entitled Charles Kuralt’s People which earned him an Ernie Pyle Award for 1956.

This led to a job as a writer at CBS, where in one of his audio books he mentioned reviewing a script that Edward R. Murrow was to deliver. He (very gingerly) asked Mr. Murrow about what Kuralt thought was a minor grammatical error, and then related his great delight (and great relief, too) about Murrow’s response: “Good catch”.

He then began to hit-the-road: at age 24, Kuralt was made a CBS news correspondent – the youngest in the history of the organization. He began in Latin America, and also on the West Coast. And he had his share of big stories – held at gunpoint in the Belgian Congo, ambushed in Vietnam, covering the civil rights movement, the Kennedy-Nixon campaigns. Eventually, much of his work appeared on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

And yet: “I had known, from the beginning, I was better suited to feature stories than wars, polar expeditions, politics and calamities”. In addition, he did not like the competitive nature of the news correspondent business. “I was sure that Dick Valeriani of NBC was sneaking around behind my back— and of course, he was!—getting stories that would make me look bad the next day. Even though I covered news for a long time, I was always hoping I could get back to something like my little column on the Charlotte News.”

And that is how he was able to convince CBS to let him go On the Road just for a 3-month trial back in 1967. Walter Cronkite was initially … well, less-than-enthusiastic. “I objected to doing the On the Road pieces at first … but with the very first one he did, I was convinced that we better get them on the air”.

It turned into a quarter-century feature, with more than six hundred stories (from every state in the union) and with its initial success due (in no small part) to being a break from the late 1960’s reports of riots, Vietnam stories and the like. “Two-minute cease-fires”, as Time Magazine referred to them. They included weddings, a vigil for a returning Vietnam vet and other stories that would ordinarily would receive little attention … yet seemed indispensable if Charles Kuralt and his travelling crew came upon them. I recall from his audio books about his stumbling upon a whittling contest(?) in his native North Carolina and – upon approaching the organizer – Charles Kuralt was told, “I thought you might find us”.

Along the way, Charles Kuralt wrote several books (most of which he narrated personally as audio books) about the USA and wonderful places he has visited …. although (for all of the rural, unspoiled areas he loved) he had a soft spot for New York City, which would seem strange for others … but not for Charles Kuralt. His 1995 memoirs, A Life on the Road even had travel tips, coming from someone who spent a life on the road. One memorable tip: bring a large safety pin when staying at a hotel/motel … because the window curtains never quite close completely at night, and you risk having a blast of sunlight in your face before you may want it.

For many of the younger people reading this, you may best know him as a TV host – in January, 1979 he began with the words, “Here begins something new. I’m Charles Kuralt and this is SUNDAY MORNING, a 90-minute CBS News program that starts right now”.

CBS Sunday Morning was designed as a Sunday newspaper magazine: with the headlines (and some breaking news) yet also film/book/TV reviews, feature stories, travel spots, and some over-easy commentaries. Even their lead story – which can involve some controversy or hot-button aspects – is done gently: I have seen pundits who normally appear on the shout-fests … and yet, speak like normal human beings on this show. And it always concludes with its Moment of Nature – a silent film of natural life from across the country (and even the world).

Charles Kuralt announced his retirement from CBS in 1994 (at age 60), saying he wanted to be able to travel more and I recall watching Bernard Shaw announce it on CNN with words that went something like this:

If I could add a personal note: I began my career at CBS and was lucky to have met this man who helped me find my way in the news business.

When it came time for his final appearance in April, 1994 I was quite apprehensive. Sunday mornings would no longer be the same, and what if they replace him with some doofus? I cannot tell you how happy I was to see CBS radio host Charles Osgood appear on-screen as his replacement: having heard many of his radio essays, I knew he was the perfect choice. And while I have not liked some of the changes made since (the features are often too short) it still seems like what Charles Kuralt built .. remains.


Charles Kuralt died just three years after his retirement (from a heart attack that may have been aggravated by lupus) ….  on the 4th of July, 1997 – quite apropos for such a chronicler of the American experience. He was buried at a University of North Carolina cemetery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

And yes, it would not be right to close without acknowledging a bizarre aspect of his life. In addition to his (second) wife Suzanna (“Petie”), who always waited for him to come home from the road, he had a mistress named Pat Shannon who lived in Montana (and who knew Kuralt was married). Due to his travels (and his wife knew he had a fishing cabin in Montana), Charles Kuralt almost had a “second family”, giving Shannon and her children (from a prior marriage) a great deal of money saying, “Don’t worry, we’re rich”. But the public only knew of this double-life existence due to his mistress contesting his will.

You can read more at this link – and I’ll admit it gave me pause. Yet in-the-end, I could not let this erode the admiration I had for him, and this USA Today editorial felt the same.

Over the course of his career, he won three Peabody awards and ten Emmy Awards for his broadcast journalism, plus two Grammys for Best Spoken Album recording.

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By contrast with the seemingly always-warm (or your favorite uncle) Charles Kuralt …. I did not get the warm-and-fuzzies from NBC’s Edwin Newman at first, who seemed to be of the “no-nonsense” variety of reporter. Yet the outer veneer hid an equally erudite man who took issues seriously, yet never himself – and one always felt calm hearing the news from him. Next, news anchors and others referred to him as “Ed” on-screen ….. and anyone named Ed is a plus in my book. And his sense of humor would eventually emerge, leading him to even be a guest host on Saturday Night Live – yes, it’s on NBC, but they didn’t honor every reporter this way.

Edwin Newman was born in Manhattan in January, 1919 (less than a month after my father was born there, as well) and had a brother named Morton who became a longtime reporter for the Chicago Daily News. He was a 1940 political science graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and was a writer for The Daily Cardinal newspaper.

He worked for (what is today) the United Press International wire service, and heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor while listening to a radio concert. When he called his office to see if he was needed, *”Hell, yes!”* was the response: and he took dictation for nearly twelve hours. He served in the US Navy as a signal officer (though he served mostly stateside). Following the war he returned to UPI before working for CBS Radio as an assistant to Eric Sevareid.

From 1949-1952 he worked freelance before joining NBC full-time, where he remained for thirty-two years. He spent the rest of the decade as a bureau chief (in London, Rome and Paris) and years later won a Legion of Honor award in France for his work covering France: from the Algerian War to the ascension of Charles de Gaulle as president and his 1970 funeral.

As noted, he could best be described as a utility man for NBC when he joined the television side of NBC. One saw him as a correspondent, studio anchor, guest host or narrator of investigative documentaries, and on the Today Show, Huntley/Brinkley, Meet the Press and other NBC news programs. “I think I worked on more documentaries than anybody else in TV history“, he once said.

He covered the Republican and Democratic conventions from 1960-1984 and at the 1968 Chicago conventions, he and his colleagues were outfitted with electronic backpacks, enabling them to roam freely and conduct impromptu interviews on the convention floor with delegates.

He was also there for breaking news: announcing on NBC radio the assassination of JFK and he anchored NBC’s television 1968 coverage of the slayings of both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. When RFK’s funeral train was en route, Edwin Newman improvised his coverage, citing historical facts pertinent at several stops along the way. He was also the only journalist to interview Japan’s Emperor Hirohito before his 1975 visit to the United States, which was part of a pattern: he conducted numerous interviews with newsmakers for NBC from 1967-1976.

He also spent time away from radio and TV: hosting some Boston Symphony summer concerts from Tanglewood and also was a part-time Broadway theater critic from 1965-1971.

He hosted two presidential debates: the first very Ford-Carter debate in 1976 and most famously in a 1984 Reagan-Mondale debate … when Ronald Reagan overran the time limit for his closing statement ………      

As time ran out, Mr. Newman stopped Reagan in mid-sentence, or “in mid-piety,” as Washington Post television critic Tom Shales put it.

“Reagan had launched into an ode to American youth,” Shales wrote, “when Newman, according to the rules set down by the League of Women Voters, cut him off. The president never got to his shining city on a hill.”

Yet he did not truly achieve fame away from the newsdesk until the publication of his first book, 1974’s Strictly Speaking – that reached #1 on the NY Times best-seller list – in which he took people to task for their misuse of the English language. He took on some tough battles: believing that the word “hopefully” was a misuse (rather than using either “it is to be hoped” or “in a hopeful frame of mind”) and was said to have had a sign echoing Dante in his office, “Abandon ‘Hopefully’, All Ye Who Enter Here” … which not everyone saw being as cataclysmic as he did. He also wrote of lunchtime chats with NBC higher-ups who use the phrase “you know” excessively … and then retorted, “If I already know, why are you telling me?”. He continued, “However, after eating lunch alone for awhile … I decided to end this practice”.

He followed-up with A Civil Tongue in 1976, which enabled him to serve (for a number of years) as the head of the usage panel at Houghton-Mifflin’s dictionary panel.

But lest-one-think he was all seriousness: in time, he showed his sense of humor by appearing as himself in numerous TV/film roles. These included The Pelican Brief and Spies Like US (in film), plus Newhart, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown and even The Hollywood Squares (on TV).

As mentioned: he retired in 1984, followed by a guest host spot on Saturday Night Live. Joe Piscopo (portraying Tom Snyder) would not accept Newman’s explanation that he was retiring ‘voluntarily’, saying with a smirk “Yeah, you retired voluntarily, just like Nixon!”. One of the show’s sketches portrayed a distraught woman phoning a suicide hotline – which Newman answers … and corrects her grammar.


In his later years, he conducted interviews on some cable networks and moderated panel discussions at universities. Last decade, he and his wife moved to England to be closer to their daughter and it was there that Edwin Newman died in August, 2010 at the age of 91. In addition to his Legion of Honor Award from France, he also won an Overseas Press Club Award in 1961 and a Peabody Award in 1966. When Brian Williams announced his death on the NBC Evening News, he spoke for many by saying:

“To those of us watching at home, he made us feel like we had a very smart, classy friend in the broadcast news business”.

I cannot find it on video, but Edwin Newman sang(!) during his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone was written in 1930 by Sam Stept (with lyrics by Sidney Clare) and is an admonishment between parting lovers: where the singer asks the other to either speak nicely of them (or not at all).

In lieu of Edwin Newman, below you can hear Willie Nelson sing it, to close this essay.

Loretta Lynch Confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States

From Washington DC:


Zerlina Maxwell retweeted

PoliticsNation ‏@PoliticsNation 8m8 minutes ago

BREAKING: Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as attorney general after historic delay  (Getty)

Ian Millhiser ‏@imillhiser

“Now that these fools voted for me, I’m taking all their guns & giving them to the New Black Panthers.” -Loretta Lynch, about 5 minutes ago

        ^^^ I am relatively certain that this is snark.

GottaLaff ‏@GottaLaff

Someone should tell Cruz the #LorettaLynch vote is over and he can slither back in now.

TBogg ‏@tbogg

John McCain — who chose Sarah Palin to be one of his last heartbeats away from the presidency — voted against Lynch.

Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

President Obama to Celebrate Earth Day at Everglades National Park

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.

 – President Barack Obama, Weekly Address April 18, 2015


UPDATE: The President’s speech


Great Egret at Everglades National Park in Florida –

Rachel Maddow Show

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.


Washington Post:

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.”

More on the Everglades below the fold …

From the White House Email: Tell Us, What Would You Fight to Protect?

Here’s where the President is traveling for the very first time this Wednesday:

That’s the Everglades — one of our country’s most unique and treasured landscapes. But Wednesday’s trip is about more than touring an iconic National Park on Earth Day. Here’s why:

The Everglades are flat, and they border a rising ocean. As the sea levels rise, the shorelines erode, and that salty water travels inland, threatening the aquifers supplying fresh drinking water to Floridians. That doesn’t just destroy a beautiful and unique national landscape. It threatens an $82 billion state tourism economy, and drinking water for more than 7 million Americans — more than a third of Florida’s population.

This Earth Day, we’re far beyond a debate about climate change’s existence. We’re focused on mitigating its very real effects here at home, preparing our communities where its impacts are already being felt, and leading an international effort for action. And the President has already acted in big ways. Over the last eight years, the United States has cut more carbon pollution than any other country, while creating 12.1 million private-sector jobs over 61 months; setting aside more public lands and waters than any Administration in history; and releasing a Clean Power Plan to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants — the single-biggest source of carbon pollution in the U.S.


Everglades National Park

America’s Everglades – The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States

Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee,  American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.

An international treasure as well –  a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected areas under the Cartagena Treaty.

Visit the park through photos and videos.