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Tue Apr 28, 2015 at 02:09 PM PDT

President Obama on Baltimore

by TomP

Worth reading in its entirety:

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 the 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 that much attention. And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and 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, has 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.

I think we have to give them credit. My understanding 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 protesters – 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 raise 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 that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are – 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 had 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. 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 we – 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 jurisdiction that want to purchase body cameras. We are gonna 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 gonna keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.

I think it’s gonna be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organizations to acknowledge that this is not good for police. They have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are gonna be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.

There are – there are some bad politicians, who are corrupt. And there are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing. Well, there are some police who aren’t doing the right thing. And rather than close ranks, you know, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize, they’ve 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 (ph) agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore. Our head – assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.

But we’re gonna 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 that 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’s 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 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 non-violent 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 and trying to attract new businesses.

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 they’re 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 too 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.

Maddow Blog, quoting President Obama

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 07:55 AM PST

Howard Dean Endorses Hillary Clinton

by TomP

Saw an interesting endorsement today.  Read it in the Plum Line and then tracked it down to the actual article in "Tiger Beat on the Potomac," aka Politico.  

Howard Dean endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.  

Before we go further, I have not endorsed Hillary Clinton.  I have an open mind, but if Bernie Sanders ran in a Democratic Party primary, I'd probably vote for him.  That said, Howard Dean's article is bound to bring interesting opinions in the comment section:  

Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as President. If she runs, I will support her.


[discusses qualifications work ethic, known her for 25 years]

One of the most important reasons I am supporting her is because Secretary Clinton understands the institutional requirements of the Supreme Court.


America needs a thoughtful President who will appoint judges and justices who will stand up for the Constitution and the law instead of catering to the dictates of those who fund the right-wing Federalist Society. I am confident that Hillary Clinton will provide that leadership.


Nearly all of the gains in the past fifteen years have bypassed the vast majority of Americans, while the holdings of the top 20% have increased dramatically. This is a fundamental disparity that will be the greatest challenge our next President must tackle—how to reestablish a commitment to all of us to restore the opportunity to live and achieve the American Dream.

Hillary Clinton will not shrink from this challenge. In the coming months, I expect her to lay out her plans to attack income inequality and help rebuild the middle class. She knows how to sell a broad range of Americans on these policies, and has shown how to stand up against extremist economic policies.

Howard Dean: I'm Ready for Hillary

I hope he is right about addressing economic inequality.  Some here have doubts about that.  No doubt the comments will have an interesting discussion on that point.

Liz Warren and Howard Dean have endorsed Secretary Clinton.  [Warren asked Hillary to run but no endorsement like Dean's today]  Bernie Sanders is still thinking about running.  The race for 2016 is starting to form, and it is looking more and more like Hillary Clinton will be a dominant favorite.  


Senator Gillibrand's office released a statement:

While this decision is shocking, I want to echo the statement of a wide range of leaders inside and outside of government who are urging that protests remain peaceful in the aftermath of this decision. The death of Eric Garner is a tragedy that demands accountability. Nobody unarmed should die on a New York City street corner for suspected low-level offenses. I’m shocked by this grand jury decision, and will be calling on the Department of Justice to investigate.

Many DOJ investigations AND INDICTMENTS of racist killer cops are needed.  Police crimes are crimes and the Department of Justice is the only possible justice left.

Update I: Senator Schumer also.  From ericlewis in the comments, a Schumer tweet:

The Justice Department must launch a Federal investigation into Eric Garner’s death as soon as possible. -cs
Update II: more from ericlewis0
DOJ to launch Civil Rights investigation into Eric Garner's death. (NBC 4 NY News)
I updated the title to reflect the additional news.

Hi, first diary in over a month. Elizabeth Warren tells the truth and the Republicans are going to call it hell:

"The Republicans have a pretty simple philosophy: they say if those at the top have more — more power for Wall Street players to do whatever they want and more money for tax cuts than somehow they can be counted on to build the economy for everyone else," Warren said. "Well, we tried it for 30 years and it didn’t work. In fact the consequences were nearly catastrophic."


"We tested the Republican ideas and they failed, they failed spectacularly. There’s no denying that fact," Warren said.


We need more straight talk like this.  


It's stuff like this that makes me think McConnell will win.  

Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes refused three times to say if she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012, pressed on it during an interview Thursday with the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board.
TPM: Grimes Refuses To Say If She Voted For Obama

No one is impressed by that.  Kentucky people think she is a Democrat and assume she voted for Obama.  Either she did or did not.  If she did not, she should say so.  Here she just looks cowardly.

And this does nothing to increase turnout.  Pathetic on her part.



New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is settling scores with the "Left" in his new memoir (not sure why he needs one now, I guess for when he falls on his ass running for president someday).  Yes, YOU Democrats are the problem:

According to the Times – which got its hands on a copy of his new memoir, All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life – Cuomo rips the “extreme left” in the book, particularly for what he depicts as its hostility to the rich. Leftists, Cuomo writes, “speak of punitively raising taxes on the rich and transferring the money to the poor” and seek to “demonize those who are very wealthy.”
Salon: Andrew Cuomo unloads on the “extreme left” in new memoir

More than 30 years of increasing economic inequality, inequality now at or worse than Gilded Age and the 20s, and he is worried about the Democrats being mean to rich people.

Fuck you, Mr. Cuomo. Asking a Democrat or any working person to vote for Mr. Cuomo is like asking a chicken to vote for Colonel Sanders.  With Cuomo in office, the wealthy don't need a Republican.  

Which side are you on?  We know which side he is.  

The problem with Democrats the last 35 or 40 years is they have not been tough enough on the rich.  Cuomo has it backwards.  



What's right with Kansas?  Well, the right-wing Governor is losing and the right-wing Senator may lost to an independent who could caucus with the Democrats and help us keep the senate.  The Kochs are pouring money into Kansas,  but it may be just a waste of money.

Here is a BIG message to many Republican voters in Kansas:

Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker (R-KS) refused to film a campaign TV ad on behalf of vulnerable incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Kansas City Star reported Tuesday.

Kassebaum Baker represented Kansas in the Senate from 1978 to 1997 and was succeeded by Roberts, who had been a congressman. Her father Alf Landon was governor of Kansas and the Republican nominee against FDR in 1936.

“There’s just disappointment around the state,” she told the Star of Roberts. “They feel they don’t know him now.”

TPM: Retired GOP Senator Refused To Film Campaign Ad For Pat Roberts

More Republican in her family (going back to Alf Landon) then even Bob Dole.  

That is a real signal to Republicans on the fence and independents.  Roberts is in trouble.


A big contrast with the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Secretary Clinton favored arming some group of Syrian rebels while still in office and offered nuanced criticism of President Obama earlier this year for not doing so, suggesting that had we armed them ISIS might have been avoided.  It was nuanced, but it is clear that she supports the current policy and would have done so two years ago.

Elizabeth Warren does not:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday voted against legislation authorizing President Obama to arm and train Syrian rebels, taking a stand that could distinguish her from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

She voted against legislation to fund the government until Dec. 11, which included a provision giving Obama Title 10 authority to equip Syrian militants in hopes they will fight violent Sunni extremists.

I do not want America to be dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, and it is time for those nations in the region that are most immediately affected by the rise of ISIS to step up and play a leading role in this fight,” she said in a statement.

The Hill

I agree with her on this.  Finding Syrian rebels that we can trust is a fool's errand.  I can accept the bombing campaign of this President against ISIS, but I think the arming of Syrian groups is very risky.  

I do not think Elizabeth Warren is running against Hillary Clinton, but I am glad she is raising awareness of this issue.  

Update I: From angry marmot, Senator Warren's full statement:

I am deeply concerned by the rise of ISIS, and I support a strong, coordinated response, but I am not convinced that the current proposal to train and equip Syrian forces adequately advances our interests. After detailed briefings, I remain concerned that our weapons, our funding, and our support may end up in the hands of people who threaten the United States — and even if we could guarantee that our support goes to the right people, I remain unconvinced that training and equipping these forces will be effective in pushing back ISIS.

I do not want America to be dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, and it is time for those nations in the region that are most immediately affected by the rise of ISIS to step up and play a leading role in this fight. Therefore, at this time, I cannot support funding for this specific action.


Republicans love wars and military spending.  It was anti-communism and then racism that  blunted the momentum of the New Deal after FDR.   They stumbled in the 90s when peace broke out, but the PNAC offered a new enemy: Saddam!  Then 9/11 happened and it was just like the old days: invasions, GWOT, permanent war, and re-election cause many Americans love a good war, so long as they think they can win quickly and get back to football.

Now we have Republicans who want to be president seeking to be seen as the biggest hawk:

More submarines. New bombers for nuclear missions. Sustained ground troops in Afghanistan.

Those are some of the changes U.S. Senator Marco Rubio called for today as he outlined his vision for a robust expansion of the U.S. military, positioning him as the biggest hawk in the 2016 presidential line-up.

“Some who aspire to be president have shown they would rather wait for poll numbers to change than demonstrate the leadership necessary to shape them,” the Florida Republican told an audience of about 100 people in Washington.

The remark was a jab at fellow Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June about his skepticism for airstrikes. He decided to support the bombings earlier this month, writing in Time magazine that “I am not an isolationist.”

Rubio cautioned against the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, saying “we need a sizable force if we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of Iraq.”

Bloomberg News

By 2016, Republicans will paint Hillary Clinton as a dove who fails to understand war because she is a woman.  It is in Republican DNA.  

I think many Americans are tired of war.  Hope so.   Cause Rubio and his ilk will have to prove their manhood by sending troops in land wars overseas.   He already wants to keep us fighting in Afghanistan.  


A recent poll shows that Hillary Clinton now has a 43% approval rating vrs. a 41% disapproval rating,  This is just one poll, so people should not provide too much credence to it, but it is a data point:

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is providing a reality check for Hillary Clinton, who previously boasted robust public approval ratings.

According to the survey, 43% of registered voters have a positive view of the former secretary of state and first lady, while 41% have a negative opinion.

That marks a considerable decline from her February 2009 numbers, as she began her four-year stint as secretary of state. Then she recorded 59% positive to 22% negative.


What happened?  Republicans who liked to compare the good Democrat Clinton (white) favorably to President Obama (black) have decided that Clinton is a Democrat and deserving of hatred and scorn:

A closer look at the numbers indicates that the bulk of Mrs Clinton's decline can be attributed to Republicans whose views of her have dimmed. Her disapproval rating among conservatives has jumped from 52% in 2009 to 70% today.

It's all about one's frame of reference. When compared to President Barack Obama, Mrs Clinton may seem appealing to conservatives. But standing on her own, as a potential standard-bearer for the Democrats, she takes on all the political baggage and negative connotations of her party.


She never was going to get Republican votes anyway.  

Hillary Clinton still is stronger than Republican candidates, though:

Mrs Clinton's potential Republican opponents should refrain from taking too much joy at the survey results, however. Leading contenders like former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul all have net-negative approval numbers.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio comes the closest to positive among the minority of respondents who have an opinion of him, with a 21%-21% split.


Secretary Clinton still may be the strongest Democratic candidate and would still be a favorite to win the presidency in 2016.  But we all remember "inevitability."  It is in her interest and all Democrats interest that she win a contested nomination, that she earn the nomination.  

She needs a contest, not a coronation.  Clinton's strongest political showing was in the spring of 2008 when she was fighting Obama and winning primaries.  She became a much better candidate.    

Whether it's Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Martin O'Malley, or all of them who challenge her, we need a contest in the primaries.   That's how Democrats win in 2016.


Yes, Clinton is not hawkish enough for the former anti-interventionist known as Rand Paul:

The Kentucky Republican was asked on Fox News about the Democrat's comments Thursday that climate change constituted "the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges" facing the country and the world.

His response: "I don't think we really want a commander-in-chief who is battling climate change instead of terrorism."

He went on to question "whether she has the wisdom to lead the country — which I think it's obvious that she doesn't."


So much for Ralph Nader's libertarian/left alliance.  

There is so much wrong in Paul's statement that I don't know where to begin.  He is trying simultaneously to be on Hillary Clinton's right and left on war and peace issues.  According to Paul, she's a dangerous interventionist, a hawk, and she's a weak coward who fights "climate change," which Paul denies, and runs from a real fight against terrorists.

I did not think I would ever say this:  Rand Paul makes George W. Bush look like an intellectual.

The movie dumb and dumber could have been about the incoherent and contradictory positions Paul takes.  

By the way, Hillary Clinton was right on her comment regarding the threat of climate change.   Things like this are why, even if I eventually choose not to vote for her in a primary, I can vote for her in a general election if she is nominated.


The D.C. Circuit has withdrawn Halbig v. Burwell, the decision based on a typo that would defund Obamacare subsidies on the federal exchange.  The full Circuit  will hear the case en banc, and this is a Circuit that thanks to Harry Reid's end to the filibuster on Judges has a majority of Democrats.  While the Supreme Court still could hear the case eventually, this decision makes it far less likely.    

In July, two Republican judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed down a decision defunding much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This effort to implement Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) top policy priority from the bench was withdrawn on Thursday by the DC Circuit, and the case will be reheard by the full court — a panel that will most likely include 13 judges. In practical terms, this means that July’s judgment cutting off subsidies to consumers who buy insurance plans in federally-operated health exchanges is no more. It has ceased to be. It is, in fact, an ex-judgment.

The reason why this matters is because the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, known as Halbig v. Burwell, are hustling to try to convince the GOP-dominated Supreme Court to hear this case, where they no doubt believe that they have a greater chance of succeeding than in the DC Circuit, as a majority of the active judges in the DC Circuit are Democrats. The Supreme Court takes only a tiny fraction of the cases brought to their attention by parties who lost in a lower court — a study of the Court’s 2005 term, for example, found that the justices granted a full argument to only 78 of the 8,517 petitions seeking the high Court’s review that term. The justices, however, are particularly likely to hear cases where two federal appeals courts disagree about the same question of law.

Two hours after the divided DC Circuit panel released its opinion attempted to defund Obamacare, a unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit upheld the health subsidies that are at issue in Halbig. Thus, so long as both decisions remained in effect, Supreme Court review was very likely. Now that the full DC Circuit has vacated the two Republican judges’ July judgement, Supreme Court review is much less likely.

Think Progress

Now there is no circuit split.  And it is likely there will not be when the full circuit rules.  Halbig is on its way to a well-deserved death.  It's bad law and now it is no law at all.  

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