Vice President Joe Biden tours the Kilmainham Prison, where many of those who participated in the Easter Rising in 1916 were held, in Dublin, Ireland, June 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Vice President Joe Biden and grandson Hunter Biden tour one of the cells in Kilmainham Prison, where many of those who participated in the Easter Rising in 1916 were held, in Dublin, Ireland, June 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Happy Presidents Day, everyone! Last week, I traveled back to Springfield, Illinois – where I got a chance to reflect a little bit on my favorite president and fellow Illinoisan – Abraham Lincoln.
As I said there, Lincoln wasn’t always the giant of history that we think of today. He didn’t have formal schooling. His businesses and his law practice often struggled. He left Congress after just one term because his opposition to the Mexican-American War damaged his reputation. But then, something happened that shook his conscience. Congress effectively overturned the Missouri Compromise, that flawed law that had prohibited slavery in the North and legalized it in the South.
Over the next six years, his arguments with Stephen Douglas and others helped shape the national debate around slavery. And it was on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield where he uttered those brilliant words, that “A house divided against itself cannot stand;” and that “this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”
Lincoln went on to become the first Republican President, and I believe our greatest president. Through his will, his words, and most of all, his character, he held a nation together and helped free a people.
Late at night, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Lincoln used as his office that contains an original copy of the Gettysburg address. I linger on a few words that have helped define our American experiment: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln grasped, maybe more than anyone, the burdens required to give those words meaning. And he understood that it is through the toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women that our country is built and freedom is preserved.
These days Jeanette and I are doing childcare a full two days a week for our three grandchildren, four year old Matilda, and the five month old twins, Lucia and Paul. As I watch them grow and go through developmental stages I am reminded of how important it is for human beings to learn ways to calm their mind and emotions in order to react constructively with others in this world. That process starts early. And there are too many examples of human beings not learning that important skill with sad and tragic consequences both as individuals and nations.
The great spiritual leaders of our time and before, like Bishop Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis speak of the essential value of learning to resolve conflict with our enemies in a peaceful way so that we can live in the fruits of peace and true security. The prophet Micah says that there is no security unless all are secure. It begins with feeling secure and safe within ourselves with calm and stable thoughts and emotions.
We are at a critical juncture in our nation where a debate rages between choosing the present opportunity of resolving conflict with Iran, birthplace of a 6,000 year old ancient and advanced civilization, a nation declared by many to be an enemy. We have the opportunity- now sanctioned and authorized by a vote of the United Nations Security Council as international law- to choose diplomacy with international enforcement or unilateral war with Iran, another Middle East War with boundless catastrophic consequences.
This should be an easy choice. However, we have a faction in our country that has made a policy choice of regime change through war,and will accept no peaceful agreement that allows that govt. to stay in power. Led by a foreign govt,, funded by sympathetic billionaires Congress may likely vote disapproval of diplomacy and international law (although it is unlikely there are the votes to overcome a veto). What is needed is rational and constructive thinking and intention. Contrary to media reports, Congress does not have the authority to block this international law from implementation(see article below), but it can make impediments for implementation that will only harm the United States and US businesses.
Now is an important time especially here in Oregon as one of our senators, Ron Wyden, under the influence of a foreign govt. and its agent here in the US, is reported to be leaning toward a war decision. It is important that he hear from Oregonians as I write. Once before Senator Wyden made a rational decision to not support the war in Iraq. I am hoping he will do likewise in this case.
Those of you who know me, know that I have a life commitment to a strong meditation practice, because for me it has been the way of inner peace, harmony of mind and emotion, and healing of the soul. It is this spiritual commitment that leads me to talk to my Facebook friends, in a not customary fashion, about a vital policy decision facing our country. To make a decision to turn our backs on an internationally supported decision for diplomacy with enforcement to make a decision of a path towards war, a plan overwhelmingly supported by the scientific and weapons control community, which will actually harm our our stated policy objective of preventing nuclear proliferation, would be tragic and lead to tragic consequences for generations to come, a decision that affect even these little grandchildren of ours. Deliberate unilateral decision to deny the opportunity of peaceful resolution and choose a war of regime change is evil and destructive. It is a choice our Congress will vote on in Sept. just a few weeks. I am posting this for your own reflection and discernment, and not to invite a debate on this site.
On This Day: President Barack Obama hugs Vicki Kennedy as he touches the coffin of her husband, Senator Edward Kennedy during his funeral at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston, Aug. 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:30: Press Briefing by Josh Earnest
12:30: President Obama departs the White House
1:55: Arrives Westchester County, New York
2:40: Attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, New Rochelle, New York
4:35: Attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, Purchase, New York
5:20: Departs Westchester
6:10: Arrives Warwick, Rhode Island
7:35: Delivers remarks at a fundraiser for House Democrats; private residence, Newport, Rhode Island
8:50: Departs Rhode Island for DC
President Obama talks with staff during a meeting in the Oval Office, Aug. 28, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: Obama crafting plan for ISIS threat in Syria
For good or ill, President Obama sometimes offers candid, shorthand assessments without much regard for how they’ll be perceived by the political world – or how easily the comments might be taken out of context. From a distance, I get the sense he just doesn’t care what offhand phrase might send the Beltway into a tizzy and generate a half-dozen Politico items. After nearly six years on the job, Obama just seems to have bigger things on his mind.
But those of us who regularly swim in these waters – and who’ve internalized Republican talking points to the point at which we can visualize Fox News segments before they even air – tend to see the pointless uproars coming.
Alarm is growing in Kiev and the West over Russia’s role in eastern Ukraine. But what is Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to achieve?
The indications are clear that Russia is being more confident and less discreet about the presence of its troops and equipment in eastern Ukraine.
As well as sightings of Russian tanks, and reports of Russian paratroopers not only captured by Ukraine but also killed “while carrying out their duties”, statements by separatist leaders have changed too.
After months of calling for assistance from Russia, separatist leaders now say that they can “do without outside help”. All this could indicate that Russian planners felt the military situation of Russian-backed separatists was severe enough to need more direct assistance.
Equally, it could be that Russia is simply less concerned at this stage about discretion and deniability.
Was I the last person on planet earth to see this splendiferous suit? I was? Okay. And am I the last person on earth to learn that the media didn’t listen to a single word he said, they were too busy commenting on the suit? I am? Okay……
TPM: Obama Did A Huge Thing For Workers, Now States Should Do The Same
This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer as well as a chance for us to reflect on the achievements of American workers. This year, workers across the country have a lot to celebrate, thanks in part to a series of executive orders signed by President Obama, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which cracks down on federal contractors who violate labor laws.
In a significant step towards greater accountability for private contractors, corporations will be required to report their labor violations in updates to government agencies every six months, and contractors will also be responsible for making sure any subcontractors are playing by the rules as well. Additionally, the report directs contractors not to require employees to enter into pre-dispute arbitration agreements for sexual assault and harassment crimes, as well as violations of the Civil Rights Act.
Most importantly, any contractor that’s found to violate labor laws will be restricted from competing for certain contracts, and government agencies will have additional guidance on how to take labor violations into account in their process of awarding contacts. This will help keep taxpayer dollars out of the coffers of companies that are guilty of repeated violations that endanger the lives of workers and cheat employees out of pay.
I went out yesterday for a minute for a worky thing and didn’t get home until after one in the morning – does this phenomenon happen anyone else on a regular basis?
Any way, wasn’t ready for sleep, so began watching PBS’s Emmett Till documentary that I’d recorded a while ago. There were so many details about the case that I’d forgotten, and I’d forgotten too what an extraordinary woman Mamie Till was.
The Emmett Till and Michael Brown cases were, of course, hugely different, but they had the same outcome: ie murdered black boys. And, I fear, Michael Brown’s family will receive as much justice: none.
What struck me last night, though, was the part about the locals raising money – a lot of money – for Emmett’s murderers, and I thought of the people donating huge money to Darren Wilson.
Not content with cheerleading the killers of black boys, they are intent on helping them profit from their crimes too. For reasons of pure, unadulterated hate.
So, I went to sleep thinking, some things just never ***ing change.
Bloomberg: Obama’s Advisers in Final Review of Immigration Options
President Barack Obama’s lawyers are finishing months of work on a legal rationale for unilateral action on immigration that will have to withstand Republican assaults in the courts and during the congressional election campaign.
With a self-imposed deadline three weeks away, Obama has kept his deliberations closely held, even among White House advisers, while requesting information from staff, according to an administration official. The legal review of his authority hasn’t been presented to Obama yet, the official said.
No announcement is likely until after Obama returns from a trip next week to Estonia and Wales, according to the official…
I’m seriously late posting this after a crazy week or two – apologies Tally, and thank you!
A Word From Tally
Why Health Care Matters, and why the US is still vulnerable
The US is the only country on Earth where it’s legal to make a profit on someone’s illness. I understand why; it’s a giant conflict of interest. But because of that profit, the system is still out of reach for many, especially in red states with asshole GOP governors who refused the Federal Medicaid expansion funds.
So…… what if something like the West Africa Ebola outbreak happens here?
If EVERYONE doesn’t have affordable access to healthcare, how do you contain such an outbreak?
As awesome as the ACA is, Obamacare doesn’t cover all our citizens yet, and we must clear the way for everyone in this country to have access to healthcare, yes, even illegal aliens and people visiting here from other countries.
Viruses don’t care where you were born, how much money you make, what color your skin is, what sex you are, what religion (if any) you practice, what your sexual orientation is, who you voted for, what flavor of ice cream you prefer, or where you live.
They’re equal opportunity killers, and you aren’t magically protected from getting a virus from someone who is uninsured, even if you are.
The US is a sitting duck when it comes to this, and healthcare access should be a National Security issue. We’re the country who’s population never take vacation, and suck it up when we’re sick by going to work anyway, less we appear weak. By doing so, we’re spreading our germs everywhere, allowing the virus to spread far and wide, mutating in the process.
It would be easy to lay us low between our work-at-all-costs attitude, and lack of access to affordable care.
There’s a reason other countries have Nationalized health care systems, and don’t drive their citizens into financial ruin if they get sick. It’s better, and healthier when people just go to the doctor when they’re sick, then go home and get better.
It’s only in the US where working yourself to death is a badge of honor, and denying citizens health care is acceptable to some.
On This Day
The white draped casket of Senator Edward Kennedy sits before (from left) the Senator’s son Edward Kennedy Jr., his widow Vicki Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former president George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife Jill Biden, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former President Jimmy Carter during funeral services at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Mass. on Aug. 29, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait to be introduced at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., before delivering remarks marking the five-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with spectators at Xavier University on August 29, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet members of Maude Smith’s family at her home in New Orleans, La., Aug. 29, 2010. The President and First Lady were visiting New Orleans to mark the five-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks with daughter Malia Obama on August 29, 2010 upon their return to the White House. The First Family completed their 10-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and spent August 29, in New Orleans, Louisiana
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Pop the Question” question and answer segment during a taping of the “Rachael Ray Show” at Chelsea Television Studios in New York, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2012.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Mehmet Oz jump rope during a taping of the “Dr. Oz Show,” at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2012.
President Obama reacts after recognizing actress Sissy Spacek in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 29, 2012. The President happened upon Spacek while greeting people following a stop in the town (Photo by Pete Souza)
TPM: Zuckerberg Calls Obama To Discuss ‘Frustration’ With NSA Surveillance
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he phoned President Obama to urge reforms to the government’s surveillance practices. “The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst,”Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”