I can’t even pretend to internalize what’s going on through the hearts of Mike Brown’s family. I can’t pretend to internalize what African Americans all over the country are feeling at young Mr. Brown’s execution.
I can ask a few questions.
What was the last time a white teenager was killed for stealing a candy bar?
What was the last time a white teenager was killed by a community watch vigilante for walking down the street?
What was the last time a white father was gunned down by police for handling an air rifle at Walmart?
If you are scratching your heads trying to come up with the answer, the answer is simple: never.
If your answer then is to say “Well, they [all those black folks] looked suspicious”, then you’re part of the festering racism which works to hold back this country.
It is amazing how black men can keep their sanity despite the insanity that happens to them.
I remember one time I took my wife to a medical appointment at an office building, usually I drop her off at the entrance and I wait in my car in the parking lot usually listening to music or talk radio. Anyway this one time I decided to go in the lobby to use the rest room. As I exited my car this white lady was walking towards me, the look of fear she had or her face was palpable, she clutched her purse so tight her hands turned red. As usual I smiled at her to ease her fears, see I’ve discovered that when I run into white people on a one on one situation I smile just so they will feel comfortable.
I’m tired of smiling; I’m tired of having to worry about some stranger feeling comfortable or uncomfortable in my presence. Why is it that when I’m the only black person in an elevator with a bunch of white peoples, nobody smiles to make me feel comfortable?
Why is it that when I’m anywhere and I’m the only black person there, nobody smiles at me to make me feel comfortable?
The average black man will tell you, if he’s lived long enough, that he’s discovered certain mechanisms he uses to make people feel comfortable in his presence. So now another black kid is dead under unclear circumstances, another black community is in pain, and another policeman is on paid administrative leave.
By this time tomorrow we’ll know everything this young black kid has done since he left his mother’s womb, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong. I’ve got an eight year old son; I used to wonder about what college he will attend or what does he want to do when he grows up. As black men we’ve learned to focus our thinking on the present more so than on the future when it comes to our black boys.
It is a horror in our country that we always have to worry about making white people feel comfortable first before we think of ourselves. When outside, we make sure we smile to make them feel comfortable, we put our hands out so they don’t think we’re hiding something, we make sure we aren’t dressed in threatening ways (who the heck knows what that is because apparently, a hoodie is now threatening), we make sure when walking to our cars, our keys are prominently displayed so suspicious stares stop and cops aren’t called (I’ve been harassed in that manner and now whenever I’m in a predominantly white neighborhood, I make sure my car keys are prominently displayed so that they’re comfortable that I am indeed walking to my own car. I shouldn’t have to do that, but I must so that a group of white people aren’t threatened by one black person).
We make sure we don’t run in public because that looks suspicious (yeah, apparently running is suspicious), we make sure that we are 100% respectful to cops or your life may end that day. Yes sir, no sir, I’m sorry, sir. My hands are out, sir. I’m not holding anything suspicious, sir. I remember my shock and surprise when my white friend argued with a cop and I had to tell her to stop doing that because the person who’ll get shot first is me not her. I can’t even imagine the freedom that white people have to argue with cops and tell them loudly that they have rights. The thought that runs through my mind when I’ve been stopped by cops is the talk that my parents had with me. Be polite, make sure your hands are where they see them, say yes sir/yes m’am, never raise your voice, speak very softly, and it goes on and on and on. The prevailing thought being, good god, please let me be alive after this interaction. White people don’t understand that fear and pain where the cop isn’t there to serve and protect, but to shoot you first then ask questions later.
We make sure that we don’t raise our voice in public lest we seem threatening. I’ve been in coffee shops where white people raise their voices and everyone shrugs it off, but then a black person raised their voice while talking on the phone and a deathly silence filled the shop as people looked fearfully as though the black person was going to kill them. It’s insane.
We make sure that we never leave the house without any form of identification or company card to prove that we’re respectable and that still doesn’t guarantee your life will be safe.
The thought runs through your mind: Why are you as a white person not trying to make me feel comfortable in public? Why are you allowed to raise your voice in public and express your frustrations but I can’t? Why are you allowed to assert your rights with cops but I can’t? Am I not a human being too?
I’ll say it again. It is a horror in our country where a large swath of people can’t think about their lives and safety first, but have to think about others and making them feel comfortable just because of the color of our skin. We’re doctors, teachers, lawyers, business owners, parents, children, etc; but that doesn’t seem to matter when we’re out in public.
President Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President has no public events scheduled for today
There are increasing signs that the GOP’s total war opposition to Obamacare is becoming tougher to sustain. The basic organizing principle – that only maximum resistance is acceptable in the face of such an existential threat to American freedom – is still widely dominant. But there are scattered indications it’s giving way to an implicit acknowledgment that the law’s fundamental goal — expanding health coverage and security to those who lack it, through more federal oversight and spending – has some moral validity.
ThinkProgress: Pennsylvania Man Confronts His Governor For Refusing To Expand Medicaid: ‘How Many People Have To Die?’
This week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) had a run-in with one of his constituents as he was leaving a fundraising event. Scot Rosenzweig — who identified himself as a fellow Republican — showed Corbett a large photograph of his fiancee, Dina Nelson, who died at the age of 41 because she was uninsured and couldn’t afford a liver transplant. “I think maybe we should consider accepting the Medicaid expansion,” Rosenzweig told his governor, explaining that people like Nelson need access to lifesaving health treatment.
“I can’t do that,” Corbett responded.
Corbett is one of 25 governors who have declined to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, a move that is preventing an estimated 700,000 low-income Pennsylvanians from accessing public health insurance…..
What galaxy do Republican men live in? Apparently one where ladies who use contraception are ‘helpless’ and this potential 2016 contender could have been the fifth Beatle.
A few weeks ago, right after the dark clouds gathered over Chris Christie’s presidential prospects, some friends and I were having the usual Washington conversation of discussing the rest of the field. After we agreed that it was an awfully B-list bench, someone piped up: Hey, don’t forget Mike Huckabee! He’s losing all the weight!
Clearly, some of that vaporized body mass came out of his brain matter, based on his unhinged comments Wednesday at the Republican Party’s winter meeting. Discussing the GOP’s need to get more of the women’s vote, he said the Democratic Party tells women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
TPM: 2014 Could Be A Bad Year For Tea Party Senate Candidates
One of the craziest potential match-ups in the Republican Senate primaries this year promised to be Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — but early momentum for Stockman quickly fizzled.
Stockman, whose tea party bona fides include threatening to impeach President Barack Obama over new gun control restrictions and comparing Obamacare to sexually transmitted diseases, doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the poll numbers after his last-minute entry into the Senate primary. Stockman couldn’t even emerge victorious in a local Texas tea party straw poll and has even recently been missing from congressional votes. And though it’s still early in the 2014 cycle, Stockman’s lackluster campaign might be indicative of how insurgent tea partiers challengers are faring against establishment Republicans. So far, it’s looking increasingly like the so-called tea party wave, which peaked in 2010, might be headed toward a valley this time around.
Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he was frustrated that a registered sex offender and felon was allowed to stand alongside him during his State of the State speech.
Christopher Barber, a 32-year-old welder, was one of 13 newly hired workers Walker brought out to stand behind him during the opening minutes of his Wednesday speech as examples of how an improved economy is leading to more people finding work.
Barber wore his welding helmet and work gloves on stage. He waved to the audience in the Assembly chamber as he left the podium and Walker turned around and applauded …. Walker didn’t know that Barber, of Two Rivers, is a registered sex offender with two felonies and three drunken driving offenses.
Senator Barack Obama alongside Republican Senator Richard Lugar at the start of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting on Iraq resolution, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 24, 2007
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the White House South Grounds with Curator William Allman, left and Chief Usher Admiral Stephen Rochon, Jan. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama works on his State of the Union address with Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before his State of the Union address, January 24, 2012
President Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012
Guests applaud First Lady Michelle Obama during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012
In a phone call from the U.S. Capitol immediately after the State of the Union Address, President Obama informs John Buchanan that his daughter Jessica was rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces in Somalia, Jan. 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden hold a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Jan. 24, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Bo, the Obama family dog, plays in the snow in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan. 24, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
MoooOOOooorning – Happy Friday! And welcome back Nathkatun!
Completely random old pic (Portsmouth, N.H., Sept. 7, 2012)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:0: President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
11:45: Meets with senior advisors
12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press
2:15: President Obama meets with independent financial regulators
A sign along Harding Hill in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, August 18
USA Today: Coming off a week’s vacation, President Obama deals Monday with new rules on the financial system.
Obama holds a closed-door meeting with financial regulators to discuss the impact of new laws, the White House says, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill and the Consumer Protection Act.
The guest list includes the Comptroller of the Currency, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Also: The chairs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In a rare occurrence, Vice President Joe Biden will join President Barack Obama in Scranton for the last stop on the president’s two-day bus tour promoting affordable higher education.
…. The president is scheduled to appear Friday at Lackawanna College, a school spokeswoman and the White House confirmed Friday. The school will be the last stop on a tour that takes Mr. Obama on Thursday to the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and the State University of New York and Henninger High School in Syracuse. Hours before the Scranton stop, the president will take part in a town hall at Binghamton University.
“At each stop, the president will discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve a quality education by reducing cost and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” a White House official said…
ThinkProgress: How Testicular Cancer Convinced A Former Republican Staffer To Leave His Party
Before he could realize the value of affordable health care, one Republican campaign staffer had to experience what it’s like to be without it.
Clint Murphy, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.
…. That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”
Steve Benen: Far-right ‘ready to erupt’ over health care?
President Obama’s weekly addresses tend to be pretty tame, at least as far as political rhetoric goes, but over the weekend his latest weekly message included some fairly pointed language about Republican efforts to sabotage the federal health care system.
Some congressional Republicans, Obama said, are “working hard to confuse people, and making empty promises that they’ll either shut down the health care law, or, if they don’t get their way, they’ll shut down the government…. A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you.”
And while the White House pushes against the GOP shutdown threats, far-right activists continue to push in the opposite direction.
Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen.
But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. Beyond that, everything I’ve seen indicates that members of the Republican elite still don’t get the basics of health reform — and that this lack of understanding is in the process of turning into a major political liability.
On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it.
Reuters: Illinois expands background checks to all gun purchases
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a gun-control measure into law on Sunday that expands background checks to cover all firearms purchases in the state, closing what he said was a loophole that exempted gun sales between private parties.
The new law also requires all gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearms to local police within 72 hours.
“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe. This commonsense law will help our law enforcement crack down on crime and make our streets safer.”
The expanded background checks go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Michael Tomasky: Julian Assange Loves Rand Paul and His ‘Very Principled Positions’
Julian Assange, who back when he roamed the earth freely used to do things like show up on the steps of St. Paul’s to protest the wrongs of capitalism, has now apparently placed his faith in the man who is arguably the capitalists’ single biggest lickspittle in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In and of itself, this is only mildly interesting. But Assange’s admirers on the left are so seduced by his oppositionalist posture and his desire to stick it to the man (as long as the man is the government of the United States) that they seem willing to follow him off any cliff, maybe even the cliff of voting for Paul in 2016. It’s a jejune politics, and ultimately a politics of leisure. No one whose day-to-day life is materially affected by the question of who is in office has time for such silly games, and therefore, no one who purports to be in solidarity with those people should either.
… these seemingly left-wing anti-establishment types should never be trusted. These are just playtime politics, luxuries for the leisure class. If you want a real left-winger, I say stick with Marx. At least he understood that politics is chiefly about economic relations. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is sending you down blind alleys, knows little about politics to begin with, and should be shunned by anyone who claims to be anywhere on the broad left side of the spectrum.
They carried signs that demanded “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Decent Housing.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest city.
This isn’t 1963 but 2013, when so many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington fifty years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. That’s why, on August 24, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, unions, progressive groups and Democratic Party leaders will rally at the Lincoln Memorial and proceed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the march and dramatize the contemporary fight. (President Obama will participate in a separate event commemorating the official anniversary on August 28.)
The Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in late June and the acquittal of George Zimmerman less than three weeks later make this year’s march “exponentially more urgent” with respect to pressuring Congress and arousing the conscience of the nation, says Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, a co-sponsor of the march.
Four years ago today: President Obama hugs Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient actor Sidney Poitier during the award ceremony in the East Room of the White House, August 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The Grio: Holder to call for major reform of mandatory minimum sentencing
Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a speech today that the Department of Justice will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences, a major shift in American drug policy and an indication that President Obama wants to reduce the number of Americans who serve long prison sentences over drug crimes and rethink American laws that have existed for decades.
“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder is expected to say Monday at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Bar Association, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to theGrio….
In effect, Holder is calling for prosecutors to charge defendants for lesser crimes than they may have actually committed, thereby allowing juries and judges more latitude in imposing sentences, instead of following mandatory minimums created by Congress that many in both parties say are now outdated.
Michael Tomasky: Obama Is Giving Up Some Executive Power, and He’ll Still Get No Credit
Predictably, everyone is unimpressed by the measures Barack Obama has announced to bring a little ray of transparency to America’s surveillance programs …. I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. Of course he’ll get no credit for that, because civil libertarians tend to be absolutists and other liberals tend to be afraid or even terrified of their wrath…
…. Obama was headed down this course before the Snowden leaks. Those began on June 5. But on May 23, he gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he foreshadowed the moves he just announced. Combine all this with John Kerry’s recent announcement that we have a plan for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, and you might have thought liberals would be cheering.
I suppose some liberals are. I am. But not civil libertarians. With them, it’s all or nothing. If you’re not signed on to the whole program, you might as well be Joe McCarthy….
…. Obama has public opinion to think about. And of course he has keeping the country safe to worry about, and no one at the ACLU is sitting in on those intel briefings and learning the things the president is learning every day about threats to the nation, and no one at the ACLU will be responsible if our wall of security is breached. Obama is responsible, and I think mere willingness of the man in that position to have this conversation, let alone take some concrete steps, does him enormous credit.
Next tweet will probably be: ‘Ask not what the Nobel Prize can do for Bradley Manning, ask what Bradley Manning can do for the Nobel Prize’
Andrew Liepman (LA Times): What did Edward Snowden get wrong? Everything
Edward Snowden is now out of his limbo at Moscow’s airport, presumably ensconced in some Russian dacha, wondering what the next phase of his young life will bring. Having spent 30 years in the intelligence business, I fervently hope the food is lousy, the winter is cold, and the Internet access is awful. But I worry less about what happens to this one man and more about the damage Snowden has done — and could still do — to America’s long-term ability to strike the right balance between privacy and security.
Democrats and other proponents of immigration reform caught another lucky break over the weekend: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on “Meet the Press” yesterday, and just kept talking. If the progressive goal is to see reform opponents discredit themselves on the national stage, the right-wing Iowan has become the left’s most reliable ally.
Indeed, who do you think was happier to see King on the air, the DNC or the RNC?
The Root: Politics Gets Its Own Cheerios Ad – The black son of a white candidate tackles stop and frisk in a campaign ad.
Earlier this year, Cheerios generated extensive media attention — and countless racist comments online — for becoming the first major American brand to feature a mixed-race family in a television advertisement. Now, an ad for a political campaign is poised to be just as groundbreaking, and potentially controversial.
This weekend television advertisements began airing starring the teenage son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is white, his wife, Chirlane McCray, is black, and their son, Dante, sports a sizable Afro in the ad, in which he makes the case for why he believes his father is the best candidate for mayor.
While he touches upon a number of issues, including affordable housing, the ad’s most powerful moment comes when he talks about his father’s position on stop and frisk….
Oh Happy Day for Prop 8 Plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier as they tied the knot
Annie-Rose Strasser: On Friday afternoon, the ninth circuit court lifted its stay on same-sex marriages in the state of California, acknowledging the Supreme Court’s opinion in Hollingsworth v Perry that supporters of anti-gay Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal a lower court judge’s ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The move, which came earlier than expected, allows gay and lesbian couples to begin getting married immediately.
As soon as the news came down from the ninth circuit on Friday, California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris began marrying couples — starting with Proposition 8 plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier
Greg Mitchell: A lot of outrage, and not-so-gentle mockery, this morning over a classic Politico piece by editor Jim VandeHei and chief reporter Mike Allen complaining about President Obama manipulating the press….
So John Cook, editor of Gawker, just performed a public service by posting on Twitter every question Allen chose to ask President Bush when he did get full access back in 2008. You may remember 2008 – the economy was about to collapse and we were still in a full shooting war in Iraq …. these below catch the spirit. Keep in mind that Allen wrote today that Obama avoids Politico reporters in part because they “ask tough, unpredictable questions.”
Q: Now, Mr. President, you and the First Lady appeared on American Idol’s charity show, “Idol Gives Back.” And I wonder who do you think is going to win? Syesha, David Cook, or David Archuleta?
President Barack Obama waves to people gathered along the motorcade route from Osawatomie High School to Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Krugman: One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists is that with some honorable exceptions, they don’t know or care about actual policy …
…. Hence, the awful decision of Politico to give Paul Ryan an award as healthcare policymaker of the year.
…. what became painfully, embarrassingly clear during the debate over the Ryan plan was that Ryan is, well, incompetent …. it’s true that the plan “got everyone talking”, as Politico says – but mostly it got people talking about what a mess Ryan’s effort was.
Oh, and it was pretty clear that Ryan wasn’t being honest about his own numbers.
What’s going on here, I suppose, is that Politico is mistaking theater for policy. Ryan isn’t an important health care reformer, or even minimally competent in his attempted wonkery, but he plays a deep thinker on TV. And the people at Politico either don’t understand the difference, or they don’t care.
President Obama returns to the White House after a visit to Kansas
Steve Benen: President Obama has decided that, from now on, foreign aid decisions will take into consideration how countries treat their LGBT citizens, and he directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians.
…. today’s announcement marks a historic first …. It also adds to a rather extraordinary record for Obama in this area in his first three years….
…. I realize there are still a sizable number of people in the LGBT community who are unsatisfied with the pace of change, and consider President Obama someone who has ignored, and even betrayed, their interests. Some have even vowed not to lift a finger to help with the president’s re-election effort.
I suspect many social-conservative activists find this inexplicable.
First lady Michelle Obama walks onstage to greet employees to thank them for their public service at US Secret Service headquarters in Washington
… with US Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan
Turns out everyone’s dickering over who gets which Secret Service agent.
Michelle Obama revealed the tongue-in-cheek family feud as she paid a visit to Secret Service headquarters on Wednesday to thank workers at the agency that, among its many duties, protects the first family.
“You all have really made us feel at home and safe, and there is no amount of thanks that I could convey that would give you a sense of how important you all are to us,” Mrs. Obama told hundreds of Secret Service employees….
“The work you do here is pretty scary,” she said. “All I can say, after my little tour, is ignorance is bliss. I just don’t want to know. You all can handle that. Just tell me where to run.”
The first lady said the Obamas have a special affinity for the agents assigned to protect them.
“People always ask what it is like to have Secret Service around,” Mrs. Obama said. “It’s like having family around …. We have a fight among our family over who’s getting which people.
“Sasha will come in, it’s like, ‘You took Scott!'” Mrs. Obama said. “Malia’s like, ‘You took Scott? That’s not fair!’ And then I’ll say the same thing to Barack. It’s like, ‘Why did you get Beth?’ It’s dinner table conversation.”
…. greeting Secret Service employees after delivering remarks