JanF

President Obama Press Conference on Iranian Nuclear Deal

On Wednesday, July 15th, President Obama answered questions about the historic deal to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

(Transcript)

Statement by the President:

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Yesterday was a historic day. The comprehensive, long-term deal that we achieved with our allies and partners to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon represents a powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy. It shows what we can accomplish when we lead from a position of strength and a position of principle, when we unite the international community around a shared vision, and we resolve to solve problems peacefully.

As I said yesterday, it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal. That process is now underway. I’ve already reached out to leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle. My national security team has begun offering extensive briefings. I expect the debate to be robust — and that’s how it should be. This is an important issue. Our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.

And as I said yesterday, the details of this deal matter very much. That’s why our team worked so hard for so long to get the details right. At the same time, as this debate unfolds, I hope we don’t lose sight of the larger picture — the opportunity that this agreement represents. As we go forward, it’s important for everybody to remember the alternative and the fundamental choice that this moment represents.

With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear program — a nuclear weapons program, and Iran’s nuclear program will be under severe limits for many years. Without a deal, those pathways remain open; there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran could move closer to a nuclear bomb.

With this deal, we gain unprecedented, around-the-clock monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities and the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated. Without a deal, those inspections go away, and we lose the ability to closely monitor Iran’s program and detect any covert nuclear weapons program.

With this deal, if Iran violates its commitments, there will be real consequences. Nuclear-related sanctions that have helped to cripple the Iranian economy will snap back into place. Without a deal, the international sanctions regime will unravel, with little ability to re-impose them.

With this deal, we have the possibility of peacefully resolving a major threat to regional and international security. Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East, and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.

As I said yesterday, even with this deal, we will continue to have profound differences with Iran — its support for terrorism and its use of proxies to destabilize parts of the Middle East. Therefore, the multilateral arms embargo on Iran will remain in place for an additional five years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will remain for eight years. In addition, the United States will maintain our own sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and its human rights violations. And we’ll continue our unprecedented security cooperation with Israel and continue to deepen our partnerships with the Gulf States.

But the bottom line is this: This nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the United States and our allies. It prevents the most serious threat — Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would only make the other problems that Iran may cause even worse. That’s why this deal makes our country, and the world, safer and more secure. It’s why the alternative — no limits on Iran’s nuclear program, no inspections, an Iran that’s closer to a nuclear weapon, the risk of a regional nuclear arms race and a greater risk of war — all that would endanger our security. That’s the choice that we face. If we don’t choose wisely, I believe future generations will judge us harshly for letting this moment slip away.

And no one suggests that this deal resolves all the threats that Iran poses to its neighbors or the world. Moreover, realizing the promise of this deal will require many years of implementation and hard work. It will require vigilance and execution. But this deal is our best means of assuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. And, from the start, that has been my number-one priority, our number-one priority. We’ve got a historic chance to pursue a safer and more secure world — an opportunity that may not come again in our lifetimes. As President and as Commander-in-Chief, I am determined to seize that opportunity.

Questions and Answers below the fold.

President Obama: “This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change”

An Iranian nuclear deal has been reached:

(Final video. Full text of transcript below the fold.)

President Obama:

“The United States, together with our international partners, has reached a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will keep it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

“As President Kennedy said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate’.”

“History shows that America must lead not just with our might, but with our principles”

“This deal is not built on trust. It’s built on verification.”

“There’s a very real incentive for Iran to follow through, and there are very real consequences for a violation”.

“I have made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and…respect.”

“We give nothing up by testing whether this problem can be solved peacefully.”

“I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal.”

“I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

Vice President Biden, after the speech, whispered “Good job” to the President. (He could have added “This is a Big F-ing Deal”.)

From the White House:

After many months of principled diplomacy, the P5+1 — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — along with the European Union, have achieved a long-term comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran that will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful going forward.

This deal stands on the foundation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), achieved in November of 2013, and the framework for this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), announced in Lausanne on April 2, 2015 that set the requirements for the deal with the P5+ 1 and Iran, alongside the European Union announced today.

Now, with this deal in place, the U.S., our allies, and the international community can know that tough, new requirements will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon

(Details below)

President Obama Announces 46 Commutations in Video Address: “America Is a Nation of Second Chances”

From the White House blog, Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President

As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and criminal defense attorney, I’m well acquainted with how federal sentencing practices can, in too many instances, lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Now, don’t get me wrong, many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.

These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President is committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system. Today, he is continuing this effort by granting clemency to 46 men and women, nearly all of whom would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today.

In a video released today, the President underscored the responsibility and opportunity that comes with a commutation:

In taking this step, the President has now issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority of them to non-violent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules.

While I expect the President will issue additional commutations and pardons before the end of his term, it is important to recognize that clemency alone will not fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies. Tune in tomorrow as the President, [in an address to the NAACP], shares additional thoughts on how, working together, we can bring greater fairness to our criminal justice system while keeping our communities safe.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Making Our Communities Stronger Through Fair Housing

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President discussed a new rule announced by his Administration earlier this week to make it easier for communities to implement the Fair Housing Act.

For nearly 50 years, the Fair Housing Act has prohibited landlords from turning away tenants because of race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, and has made a big difference in this country. This week, the Administration announced new steps to provide communities with the tools they need to ensure that housing is fair, and that no American’s destiny is determined by a zip code.

Eugene Robinson: “This emblem of hatred and oppression is finally coming down”

Eugene Robinson, son of South Carolina, on today’s removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds:

For most of my life, a flag representing white supremacist violence against black people flew at the capitol of my native state. It is a very big deal that this emblem of hatred and oppression is finally coming down. […]

In the South, William Faulkner wrote, the past isn’t even past. The flag represented, for some white South Carolinians, a past that was invented out of whole cloth — a past in which something other than slavery was the cause of a conflict Southerners called the “War Between the States.”

In truth, the Civil War only was about states’ rights in the sense that the Confederate states feared losing one specific “right” — to own human beings and compel their labor. No amount of Spanish moss can obscure this basic fact. No paeans to the valor of Confederate soldiers can change the fact that they were fighting for slavery.

And no amount of revisionist claptrap can change the fact that the flag was hoisted at the capitol in Columbia in 1961 and kept flying not to honor some gauzy vision of Southern valor but to resist the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation. The flag meant whites-only schools, whites-only public accommodations, whites-only voter rolls. It represented white power and privilege over subjugated African Americans. It was used by the murderous terrorists of the Ku Klux Klan — and by an ignorant young white supremacist who allegedly took nine innocent lives at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

… it still took hours of contentious debate, but the House passed the bill around 1 a.m. and Haley signed it into law Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Jenny Horne (R) makes impassioned plea to vote to remove the flag

The Running of the Bull: Today’s 2016 GOP Presidential Primary News

The annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain known as The Running of the Bulls often features accidental gorings as thousands of sanity-challenged people run alongside the fighting bulls in the streets of the village.

In America, we have the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary where the running of the bull is not restricted to 9 days in July but started in January 2015 with the Steve King Iowa Pigslop and will last 543 long painful days until the Republicans crown a “winner” at their national convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.

As of today, there are 14 announced candidates and 2 waiting to jump into the fray. One of those two, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is trying to ratchet up the enthusiasm by releasing his logo over 9 days … one day at a time (hello? is your PR person a 13 year old girl???). It started out with what looks like a toilet plunger in the lower right hand corner and here it is 4 days in … with yesterday’s “piece” unveiled on Twitter:

There were several guesses made as to how the logo would end up and this one, while lacking in madd photoshop skillz, looks juuuust riiiiight:

The Scott Walker Story: Intimidated, again!

Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature did Gov. Scott Walker’s bidding and elided The Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system’s mission statement. The Wisconsin Idea had been part of the statutes for well over a century and promised this:

Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.

You can see why this scared the Walker Administration: education, search for truth, public service. Not welcome in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! The Walker Way overrides the Wisconsin Way and the Wisconsin Idea.

The outcry was fierce and Walker had to back down … the change was withdrawn (and blamed on a staffer, which is also the Walker Way).

Lesson learned, right? No. It. Was. Not.

On Thursday night, right before the long holiday weekend, Walker’s GOP legislature snuck a provision into the omnibus Budget Bill they were “crafting”, a provision that would essentially repeal the state’s Open Record Law. When this change was exposed by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and questioned by the press, the Republican leaders refused to identify who had asked for the change. But you don’t have to dig deep to realize that the Open Records laws were behind the surprising interest of the normally docile press in Wisconsin, in investigating irregularities in WEDC, an agency set up by Walker to pick winners and losers in the economy with a special focus in including Walker campaign donors in the winners circle.

The outcry was even more fierce this time and came from some surprising places: the teaparty Attorney General and the right-wing talk show radio hosts in Milwaukee who created Scott Walker as an empty vessel to fill with their ideology. There had been signs that the right-wing talkers were realizing they had used Abby Normal’s brain when they built their Frankenstein and this time they Tweeted their dismay and spoke out in editorials, one on the front page of the normally pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Working Towards Our More Perfect Union: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

The act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin and gave the federal courts jurisdiction over enforcement, taking it out of the state courts where justice was uneven at best.

The Civil Rights Act had political ramifications as well. Its adoption caused a mass exodus of angry racists from the Democratic Party in the old south to the Republican Party. And the politics born of hatred of The Other gave the not-so-Grand Old Party the presidency for 28 out of the next 40 years.