President Obama waves as he prepares to depart the White House – he is heading to Chicago where he will attend a campaign event for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Il, and deliver remarks on the economy at Northwestern University
By any measure, the U.S. economy was unusually weak in the first quarter of the year (January through March), though most in the economic, financial, and political sectors were untroubled by the data. Indeed, for most, the winter drop was something of a fluke, caused by unusually harsh weather conditions and an unexpected drop in health spending.
Still, the first-quarter report made the second-quarter data all the more important. Would the economy bounce back? This morning, we received an answer – and for those rooting for economic success, the results were even better than expected.
…. today’s report showing 4% growth is terrific and reinforces the perception of an economy picking up speed.
Bloomberg: Economy in U.S. Grows More Than Forecast
Gains in consumer spending and business investment helped the U.S. economy rebound more than forecast in the second quarter following a slump in the prior three months that was smaller than previously estimated.
Gross domestic product rose at a 4 percent annualized rate after shrinking 2.1 percent from January through March, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 3 percent advance. Consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, rose 2.5 percent, reflecting the biggest gain in purchases of durable goods such as autos in almost five years.
New Republic: McDonald’s Workers Were Just Handed a Huge Victory by the Obama Administration
The news for America’s low-wage workers has been pretty bleak these past, oh, 30 or 40 years or so. Their pay has stagnated and their bargaining power has atrophied, even as their corporate overlords have seen their own profits and compensation soar. But there are signs of a brightening underway, and the latest one arrived Tuesday in the form of a possibly consequential finding against one of the most iconic low-wage employers of all, McDonald’s.
The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Richard Griffin Jr., ruled that he would include McDonald’s as a “joint employer” in the 43 unfair labor practice complaints filed by McDonald’s workers over the past 20 months that Griffin deemed had merit (the complaints mostly involve retaliation against workers who engaged in organizing efforts). In the past, McDonald’s and other big fast-food chains have avoided responsibility in such cases, on the premise that their thousands of franchisees are the real employers, not the corporate giant in whose name they operate….
NYT: What Debate? Economists Agree the Stimulus Lifted the Economy
Here’s a simple case study making the point that our political debates about economics have become largely unhinged from those among actual economists. Take the Obama stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If you took your cues from the political rhetoric in Washington — or even from the occasional virulent debate in the economics blogosphere — you would think the whole question of fiscal stimulus is highly contested.
But it’s not. There’s widespread agreement among economists that the stimulus act has helped boost the economy.
…. I am a Zionist because the story of my forebears convinces me that Jews needed the homeland voted into existence by United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947, calling for the establishment of two states — one Jewish, one Arab — in Mandate Palestine…
What I cannot accept, however, is the perversion of Zionism that has seen the inexorable growth of a Messianic Israeli nationalism claiming all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River; that has, for almost a half-century now, produced the systematic oppression of another people in the West Bank … that blockades Gaza with 1.8 million people locked in its prison and is then surprised by the periodic eruptions of the inmates; and that responds disproportionately to attack in a way that kills hundreds of children.
…. Hamas is vile. I would happily see it destroyed. But Hamas is also the product of a situation that Israel has reinforced rather than sought to resolve.
This corrosive Israeli exercise in the control of another people, breeding the contempt of the powerful for the oppressed, is a betrayal of the Zionism in which I still believe.
…. the president announced that new and harsher sanctions would be placed on Russia. The European Union finally came around and joined him, which means, I guess, that knocking a civilian airliner out of the sky is what gets the EU’s attention.
…. the president was right in knocking down the notion that this represents a new Cold War.
First of all, there’s no Russian bloc this time. There’s just Vladimir Putin, who is a Russian nationalist and an autocrat, but not a Tsar or a General Secretary, who fights his proxy wars on his own borders, and not around the world. And, like any autocrat, he is theoretically most vulnerable to other autocrats, either individually or in combination.
Like any nationalist, he is most vulnerable to pragmatists who like to hold onto the lifestyles the country has provided them. As nearly as I can tell, beyond a desire to re-establish Russia as a world power, and to establish himself as a world leader, Putin’s not motivated by any ideology that isn’t vulnerable to financial pressure.
Derek Thompson highlighted an interesting economic trend that Republicans very likely find discouraging: “In the 70 years, the U.S. economy has been better, across many metrics, when a Democrat has been the president.” In particular, Thompson noted a “fantastically interesting” paper from Princeton professors Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, who reported that from 1947 to 2013, in literally every category, Democratic presidents outperformed Republican presidents.
…. it’s a democracy and partisan bragging rights matter, too. Why Democrats don’t run around boasting about reports like these is a mystery to me – if Republicans had a talking point like this at their disposal, I suspect we’d never hear the end of it.
ThinkProgress: Obama To Issue Series Of Executive Actions Tackling Methane Leaks From Pipelines
President Obama will announce a series of executive actions on Tuesday designed to tackle the increasing problem of methane leaks from natural gas pipelines, which are significantly contributing to global warming, according to a White House press call.
White House Director of Energy and Climate Change Dan Utech told reporters on Monday that the actions would be part of President Obama’s strategy to cut methane emissions, a key directive under his Climate Action Plan announced last summer. Under the plan, Obama vowed to combat climate change despite inaction from Congress by using his executive powers to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
DPCC: Despite Speaker’s Claims to the Contrary, Dozens of Republicans Irresponsibly Float Impeachment
HOUSE SPEAKER BOEHNER SAYS REPUBLICAN TALK OF IMPEACHMENT IS “ALL A SCAM”
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president’s own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they are trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year’s election,” Boehner told reporters Tuesday morning. “We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans.” [Washington Post, 7/29/14]
…BUT RECKLESS COMMENTS MADE BY HIS OWN PARTY PROVE OTHERWISE
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK): Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Thursday with “The Rusty Humphries Show” that impeachment would become an issue soon over the “greatest cover-up in American history.” “People may be starting to use the I-word before too long,” Inhofe said. “The I-word meaning impeachment?” Humphries asked. “Yeah,” Inhofe responded. [The Hill, 5/10/13]
ThinkProgress: Appeals Court Saves Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic
On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that would have closed down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, invalidating a 2012 measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The state’s only two abortion providers fly in from out of state to serve patients and were repeatedly denied partnerships with local hospitals.
The three-judge panel ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion, “Mississippi may not shift its obligation for established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state,” the Associated Press reports.
First Lady Michelle Obama tours the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan., May 16, 2014. Stephanie Kyriazis, Chief of Interpretation and Education, leads the tour. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama kisses First Lady Michelle Obama during her remarks at an Affordable Care Act reception in the East Room of the White House, May 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama adjusts a lapel pin for Vice President Joe Biden in the Outer Oval Office, May 23, 2014. Ferial Govashiri, Personal Assistant to the President stands at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets guests during a Federal Judges Association reception in the East Room of the White House, May 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Dr. Jill Biden and White House Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison help children plant scarlet runner beans to be presented during a Joining Forces initiative tea honoring military mothers in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students from Lame Deer Junior High School for a group photo in the China Room of the White House, prior to the White House Talent Show hosted with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, May 20, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
A soldier hugs President Barack Obama following his remarks at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama holds a bobblehead doll of himself in the Outer Oval Office, May 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New behind-the-scenes photos of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from month of May: bit.ly/1mH1MBZ
President Barack Obama hugs children participating in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, in the East Garden Room of the White House, May 29, 2014. The President met with the group indoors when their South Lawn event was canceled due to weather. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
White House: Presidential Proclamation — 60th Anniversary Of Brown v. Board Of Education
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
May 17, 1954, marked a turning point in America’s journey toward a more perfect Union. On that day, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing racial segregation in our Nation’s schools. Brown overturned the doctrine of “separate but equal,” which the Court had established in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. For more than half a century, Plessy gave constitutional backing to discrimination, and civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People faced an uphill battle as they sought equality, opportunity, and justice under the law.
Brown v. Board of Education shifted the legal and moral compass of our Nation. It declared that education “must be made available to all on equal terms” and demanded that America’s promise exclude no one. Yet the Supreme Court alone could not destroy segregation. Brown had unlocked the schoolhouse doors, but even years later, African-American children braved mobs as they walked to school, while U.S. Marshals kept the peace. From lunch counters and city streets to buses and ballot boxes, American citizens struggled to realize their basic rights. A decade after the Court’s ruling, Brown’s moral guidance was translated into the enforcement measures of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Thanks to the men and women who fought for equality in the courtroom, the legislature, and the hearts and minds of the American people, we have confined legalized segregation to the dustbin of history. Yet today, the hope and promise of Brown remains unfulfilled. In the years to come, we must continue striving toward equal opportunities for all our children, from access to advanced classes to participation in the same extracurricular activities. Because when children learn and play together, they grow, build, and thrive together.
On the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, let us heed the words of Justice Thurgood Marshall, who so ably argued the case against segregation, “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody…bent down and helped us pick up our boots.” Let us march together, meet our obligations to one another, and remember that progress has never come easily — but even in the face of impossible odds, those who love their country can change it.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 17, 2014, as the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate this landmark decision and advance the causes of equality and opportunity for all.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Attorneys George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit Jr. celebrate their victory in the Brown case on May 17, 1954.
White House: Commemorating the 60th Anniversary Of The Brown v. Board Of Education And Continuing The March Toward Justice
Decades ago, nearly 200 plaintiffs from across the country joined together in a class-action lawsuit to challenge the doctrine of “separate but equal,” striving to bring the issue of racial segregation before the highest court in the land. Their dangerous, long, and grueling march culminated exactly 60 years ago tomorrow – on May 17, 1954 – at the United States Supreme Court. On that extraordinary day, a unanimous Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, declared that separate was inherently unequal, effectively outlawing racial segregation in schools and other public accommodations throughout America.
This marked a major victory for the cause of equal justice under law, an inflection point in American history, and a spark that in many ways ignited the modern Civil Rights Movement. Yet our nation did not automatically translate the words of Brown into substantive change. The integration of our schools was a process that was halting, confrontational, and at times even bloody. And, for all the progress our nation has seen over the last six decades, this is a process that continues, and a promise that has yet to be fully realized, even today.
First Lady Michelle Obama smiles after being introduced during Topeka Public Schools Senior Recognition Program in Topeka, Kansas
KCTV5: Michelle Obama Urges Topeka Seniors To Help Break Barriers
To mark the 60th anniversary of a landmark school desegregation decision, first lady Michelle Obama traveled to Topeka on Friday to address graduating high school seniors. First lady Michelle Obama said that young people who’ve grown up with diversity must lead a national fight against prejudice and discrimination because after six decades, the Brown v. Board of Education ruling against school segregation is “still being decided every single day.” Obama is participating in “senior recognition day,” in which she spoke to 1,000 seniors from Topeka’s public schools during an event at Landon Arena. “It’s really an honor. I’m glad to see her here,” Topeka High senior Corrie Barnes said. “We never have people really professional to come down here.” The White House noted that Topeka is home to the historic case that outlawed racial desegregation and declared education “must be made available to all on equal terms.” Her speech came the day before the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in the Brown case, which takes its title from a federal lawsuit filed by parents in Topeka.
She noted that her special assistant, Kristen Jarvis, is the grandniece of Lucinda Todd, a leader with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Topeka in the 1940s and 1950s, the first parent to sign onto the lawsuit challenging the city’s segregated schools. She said Todd, who died in 1996, is an example of people who “choose our better history.” “Every day, you have that same power to choose our better history — by opening your hearts and minds, by speaking up for what you know is right, by sharing the lessons of Brown v. Board of Education, the lessons you learned right here in Topeka, wherever you go for the rest of your lives,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery. Jasmine Drone was excited about the address. “My sister graduated last year and she’s like, ‘I don’t remember who spoke,’ and that was just last year. It’s an honor because I’m going to remember this,” Drone said. Lauren Sherwood, who was picked to introduce Obama, concurred, saying having a first lady in Topeka is an honor. “If anyone would overshadow my graduation, I think first lady Michelle Obama would be the person to get away with that,” Sherwood said. “So I’m perfectly content with that.”
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks during Topeka Public Schools Senior Recognition Program in Topeka, Kansas
Brad Cooper: Michelle Obama Challenges Topeka Grads To Fight Inequality
Our water fountains aren’t segregated. Our movie theaters aren’t segregated. And our schools aren’t segregated. But in many ways we are still a separate-but-equal country, First Lady Michelle Obama told graduating seniors from five Topeka high schools Friday night. “Our laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but there’s nothing in our Constitution that says we have to eat together in the lunch room or live together in the same neighborhoods,” Obama told a full house at the 8,000-seat Kansas Expocentre. “There’s no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain kinds of hateful jokes or comments are funny. Many school districts, she said, are withdrawing efforts to integrate their students and communities are becoming less diverse as people flee cities for the suburbs. “As a result, many young people in America are going to school with kids who look just like them,” Obama said. “And too often, those schools aren’t equal, especially ones attended by students of color, which too often lag behind with crumbling classrooms and less experienced teachers.”
“Too many folks are still stopped on the street because of the color of their skin, or they’re made to feel unwelcome because of where they’re from, or they’re bullied because of who they love.” The Brown decision, she said, isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. She called on students to battle deep-seated prejudices that persist years after the civil rights movement swept across the country. “Graduates, it’s up to all of you to lead the way and drag my generation and your grandparents’ generation along with you,” she said. “When you meet folks who think they know all the answers because they’ve never heard any other viewpoints, it’s up to you to help them see thing’s differently.” Students were moved by the speech, especially Lauren Sherwood who introduced Obama on Friday night. “It’s absolutely insane. I can’t believe it just happened,” the Topeka High School student said afterward. “It will be hard for anything else in my life to top this.” Sherwood called the address “everything you could have hoped for in a graduation speech plus more.” “I had a little tear in my eye because it was just beautiful,” she said.