Editors’ Choice

Posts selected by Moose editors

The U.S. Flag is Now Flying Over Our Embassy in Havana

Today at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, the U.S. Flag was raised over the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba:

Secretary John Kerry spoke about the renewed friendship between our two nations; the flag raising ceremony followed.

(Full transcript below the fold)

From Twitter:

@JohnKerry: Establishment of normal diplomatic relations is something two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit.
@JohnKerry: I applaud @POTUS & President Castro for having the courage to bring us together in the face of considerable opposition.
@JohnKerry: The time is now to reach out to one another, as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals, but neighbors.

These three men were Marine security guards who lowered the flag back in 1961. Today, they handed that same flag over to the Marine color guard.

@JohnKerry: 54 years ago, you gentlemen promised to return to Havana and hoist the flag that you lowered on that January day long ago.
@JohnKerry: Today, I invite you on behalf of @POTUS and the American people to fulfill that pledge by presenting the Stars and Stripes.

The Marines carried the flag to the flag pole …

… the flag was raised, signally a new era in Cuban American relations.

80 years ago today: The Social Security Act of 1935

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democrat, signed the Social Security Act into law. Since that time, Social Security has been protected by Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses.


FDR signing Social Security into law

The Social Security Act of 1935:

Before the 1930s, support for the elderly was a matter of local, state and family rather than a Federal concern (except for veterans’ pensions). However, the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression brought support for numerous proposals for a national old-age insurance system. On January 17, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Congress asking for “social security” legislation.

The act created a uniquely American solution to the problem of old-age pensions. Unlike many European nations, U.S. social security “insurance” was supported from “contributions” in the form of taxes on individuals’ wages and employers’ payrolls rather than directly from Government funds. The act also provided funds to assist children, the blind, and the unemployed; to institute vocational training programs; and provide family health programs.

Prior to Social Security, the elderly routinely faced the prospect of poverty upon retirement. For the most part, that fear has now dissipated.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democratic president, created a long-lasting program to keep our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Reaffirming Our Commitment to Protecting the Right to Vote

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 celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by underscoring the importance of one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy – that all of us are created equal and that each of us deserves a voice. The enactment of the Voting Rights Act wasn’t easy – it was the product of sacrifice from countless men and women who risked so much to protect every person’s right to vote. The President reminded us about their struggle and that while our country is a better place because of it, there is still work to be done. He promised to continue to push Congress for new legislation to protect everyone’s right to the polls, and asked that all Americans regardless of party use every opportunity possible to exercise the fundamental right to vote.

Lyndon B. Johnson: “This most basic right”

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Handing the Pen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The new law of the land:

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

Happy Voting Rights Act Eve! Thank you, 5th Circuit!

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Texas’s Voter ID Law

One day before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country wielded that law to strike down a Texas voter suppression law. A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion written by a George W. Bush appointee, held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and must, at the very least, be significantly weakened. Though the court did not accept every argument raised against the state’s voter ID law, and its opinion does not go nearly as far as a trial judge’s decision which also struck down this law, it is a significant blow to the state’s efforts to make voting more difficult.

Texas Democrats:

Commenting on today’s Republican discriminatory voter ID ruling, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“Texas Democrats believe that our nation and democracy is stronger when everyone is invited to participate in our electoral process.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for every Texas voter. Once again, the rule of law agrees with Democrats. The Republican voter ID law is discriminatory. Republicans made it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to cast their vote at the ballot box.

“We remain confident that the courts will find justice for Texas voters and ultimately strike down this racist and discriminatory law.

“I want to personally thank Congressman Marc Veasey, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, and all of our outstanding Democratic legislators who have fought to defend Texas voters from this discriminatory law.”

PDF of 5th Circuit Opinion: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinion

We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and remand for consideration of the proper remedy.” [ United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,

President Obama Speaks on the Iran Deal

From American University in Washington DC:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
And if the rhetoric [against this deal]… sounds familiar, it should, for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal. […]

Walk away from this agreement, and you will get a better deal — for Iran.

USA Today:

President Obama will deliver a crucial speech on the Iran nuclear agreement Wednesday, arguing that the congressional vote that could block the deal is “the most consequential foreign policy debate since the decision to go to war in Iraq,” the White House said.

White House aides said Obama would “point out that the same people who supported war in Iraq are opposing diplomacy with Iran, and that it would be an historic mistake to squander this opportunity” to contain Iran’s nuclear program.[…]

Wednesday’s speech, at American University in Washington, is already drawing historical parallels. It’s the same place President Kennedy gave his 1963 speech proposing a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union at the apex of the Cold War.

(Transcript from The White House.)

The workers many activists forget

The workers many activists forget

 photo d7bb399a-9a8a-48b0-b241-2bf86b72bfa0_zpsy0wu50d3.jpg

As we have moved into a primary cycle and the subject of the working class is on the lips of activists and politicians, I know the images that term evokes in the minds-eye of many who hear it—hard hats, lunch boxes and assembly lines—often male, and often white. Organized labor and unions get mentioned, but rarely when one thinks of unions, other than perhaps SEIU or organized teachers do we think of women.

President Obama: “No challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate”

From the White House:

In the East Room of the White House, President Obama announces the Clean Power Plan — our biggest step yet in the fight against climate change. The plan is a landmark action to protect public health, reduce energy bills for households and businesses, create American jobs, and bring clean power to communities across the country. August 3, 2015.

UPDATED WITH transcript (full text below the fold)

From ThinkProgress:

The Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rule to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants on Monday afternoon. This is the most significant action any American president has ever taken to rein in climate change.

Addressing a crowd of scientists in the East Room of the White House, President Obama ticked through a list of threats that confronted the world since he took office: economic calamity, terrorism, nuclear weapons.

“But I am convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate,” he said. “I believe there is such a thing as being too late. That shouldn’t make us hopeless. It’s not as if there’s nothing we can do about it. We can take action.”

Existing power plants will no longer be able to pollute unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air in the United States once the plan takes effect, which will be 60 days following the as-yet determined date the plan is published in the Federal Register.

… each state will be able to come up with its own plan to cut emissions in a way that works for them. By 2030, each state must meet a certain emissions reduction target, custom-tailored to their current energy mix. The EPA does not implement a top-down solution across the country to cut emissions, or force specific coal plants to close.

“We’ll reward states that take actions sooner, rather than later, because time is not on our side,” Obama said.

Public–private partnerships for preservation of old growth forest in The PNW

old growth w/ spring board cut
Massive old growth Douglas Fir stump with springboard cut, now a forest nurse

This stump, probably logged a 100 years ago, dates back untold 100s of years. This area was once selectively logged which left a number of old growth trees and stumps to shelter and nourish the ancient forest floor of the Stimpson Family Nature Preserve.

50 Years Ago Today: The Medicare Bill of 1965

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965 which established Medicare.

President Lyndon B. Johnson with Harry Truman and Hubert H. Humphrey, 1965

The Social Security Act Amendments provided:

In 1965, the passage of the Social Security Act Amendments, popularly known as Medicare, resulted in a basic program of hospital insurance for persons aged 65 and older, and a supplementary medical insurance program to aid the elderly in paying doctor bills and other health care bills. It was funded by a tax on the earnings of employees, matched by contributions by employers, and was well received. In the first three years of the program, nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in it.

Debate over the program actually began two decades earlier when President Harry S. Truman sent a message to Congress asking for legislation establishing a national health insurance plan. At that time, vocal opponents warned of the dangers of “socialized medicine.” By the end of the Truman’s administration, he had backed off from a plan of universal coverage, but administrators in the Social Security system and others began to focus on the idea of a program aimed at insuring Social Security beneficiaries whose numbers and needs were growing.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Democratic president, following up on the work of Harry S Truman, Democratic president, and providing health care security to our senior citizens.