Various TODers have done such a good job remembering 2014’s highlights that I feel no need to add to that. So allow me to pen a tribute.
And the tribute is to all of you.
I’ve had many homes online since the long ago days of the 90s. (And you’d be shocked at some of the places I called “home”. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.)
I thought DailyKos would be my political home in the darkness of the Bush regime. But after Barack Obama’s election, it was soon apparent that rage was all Markos trafficked in. Rage at Mr. Bush for destroying the country. Rage at Pres. Obama for not magically making everything right. And as I’ve written before, rage gets tiring, and rage fixes nothing. Rage is the cheap drug which keeps you sated for a bit. But you have to increase the dosage every time to get the same high, until your mind is addled and clear thought is banished.
I first found BWD, and her site was wonderful. But it was shortlived, as people as lofty as Glenn Greenwald called her a Leni Riefenstahl for daring to defend a just-elected president who had barely gotten his feet in the door. I don’t blame her for saying “fuck it” and sticking to Twitter.
Many of us found our way here by the same path, from DKos and BWD’s blog. It took me a while to start posting. I observed for a while. But you magnificent bastards pulled me in, and suddenly I realized that I had found like minds. It’s thrilling when one finds a group of people who have the same general outlook on life. Not just about politics, but on how to live one’s life, in kindness, consideration, and empathy. It was something I’d been looking for for a long time, never finding it. It was, quite simply, revelatory.
And as I spent more time here, the more I came to consider this an extended family. From Mama Chips to little sister Nerdy to crazy uncle amk to wise uncle Bob, I could share my troubles, my joys, my frustrations. We all could. We knew when someone was sick, or soul-hurt, or ecstatic. Donna’s grandbabies, Chips’ Danny, Carolyn’s husband’s medical issues: we knew them all, sorrowed, commiserated, or grew joyful, shared in the highs and lows. And there just aren’t that many places where one can say that online. Definitely not on a blog ostensibly dedicated to politics.
But that’s the thing; sure this is “The Obama Diary”, but it’s become more than just about this president or his policies. The blog embodies his humanity, his empathy, his genuine concern. We have become a family in large part because a man like Barack Obama attracts a certain type of person. He speaks to the quintessentially human, to the genuinely kind. And because we support him, for the most part we take after him. But if we weren’t already on that path, we wouldn’t be here.
January 1 starts a new year, and new battles. But, for now, sit, quietly, and wonder at the different points which brought us here. This little community, where injustice is condemned, where good is sought. This little community which is only as strong as its weakest member, and cherishes that member. This little family.
I thank you all. I’d be lost without this place. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015.
President Barack Obama waves as he is introduced at Copernicus Community Center in Chicago to speak on immigration reform
The President’s remarks on Ferguson
I need to begin by saying a few words about what’s happened over the past day, not just in Ferguson, Missouri, our neighbor to the south, but all across America.
As many of you know, a verdict came down – or a grand jury made a decision yesterday that upset a lot of people. And as I said last night, the frustrations that we’ve seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly. That may not be true everywhere, and it’s certainly not true for the vast majority of law enforcement officials, but that’s an impression that folks have and it’s not just made up. It’s rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time.
Now, as I said last night, there are productive ways of responding and expressing those frustrations, and there are destructive ways of responding. Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk – that’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts, and people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.
But what we also saw – although it didn’t get as much attention in the media – was people gathering in overwhelmingly peaceful protest – here in Chicago, in New York, in Los Angeles, other cities.
We’ve seen young people who were organizing, and people beginning to have real conversations about how do we change the situation so that there’s more trust between law enforcement and some of these communities. And those are necessary conversations to have.
We’re here to talk about immigration, but part of what makes America this remarkable place is being American doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way or have a certain last name or come from a certain place; it has to do with a commitment to ideals, a belief in certain values. And if any part of the American community doesn’t feel welcomed or treated fairly, that’s something that puts all of us at risk and we all have to be concerned about it.
So my message to those people who are constructively moving forward, trying to organize, mobilize, and ask hard, important questions about how we improve the situation – I want all those folks to know that their President is going to work with them. Separate and apart from the particular circumstances in Ferguson, which I am careful not to speak to because it’s not my job as President to comment on ongoing investigations and specific cases, but the frustrations people have generally – those are rooted in some hard truths that have to be addressed.
And so those who are prepared to work constructively, your President will work with you. And a lot of folks, I believe, in law enforcement and a lot of folks in city halls and governor’s offices across the country want to work with you as well.
So as part of that, I’ve instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not just to investigate what happened in Ferguson, but also identify specific steps we can take together to set up a series of regional meetings focused on building trust in our communities. And next week, we’ll bring together state and local officials, and law enforcement, and community leaders and faith leaders to start identifying very specific steps that we can take to make sure that law enforcement is fair and is being applied equally to every person in this country.
And we know certain things work. We know that if we train police properly, that that improves policing and makes people feel that the system is fair. We know that when we have a police force that is representative of the communities it’s serving that makes a difference. And we know that when there’s clear accountability and transparency when something happens that makes a difference.
So there are specific things we can do, and the key now is for us to lift up the best practices and work, city by city, state by state, county by county, all across this country, because the problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem. And we’ve got to make sure that we are actually bringing about change.
The bottom line is, nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. I’ve never seen a civil rights law, or a health care bill, or an immigration bill result because a car got burned. It happened because people vote. It happened because people mobilize. It happened because people organize. It happens because people look at what are the best policies to solve the problem. That’s how you actually move something forward.
So don’t take the short-term, easy route and just engage in destructive behavior. Take the long-term, hard but lasting route of working with me and governors and state officials to bring about some real change.
And to those who think that what happened in Ferguson is an excuse for violence, I do not have any sympathy for that. I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities.
But for the overwhelming majority of people who just feel frustrated and pain because they get a sense that maybe some communities aren’t treated fairly, or some individuals aren’t seen as worthy as others, I understand that. And I want to work with you and I want to move forward with you.
President Barack Obama uses a ratchet wrench as he helps build a playground while participating in a service project at the Inspired Teaching School, a high-performing public charter school in northeast Washington, DC, to commemorate the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance