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President Obama: “How can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”

From the White House, President Obama spoke of another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.

[As] I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now. […]

And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

He calls out the NRA lies:

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

And the cowards in Congress:

We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

Full transcript below …

Thoughts on Black Media.

The graphic above is one of the earliest covers of The Crisis Magazine:

founded by W.E.B. Du Bois as the official publication of the NAACP, is a journal of civil rights, history, politics, and culture and seeks to educate and challenge its readers about issues that continue to plague African Americans and other communities of color. For nearly 100 years, The Crisis has been the magazine of opinion and thought leaders, decision makers, peacemakers and justice seekers. It has chronicled, informed, educated, entertained and, in many instances, set the economic, political and social agenda for our nation and its multi-ethnic citizens.

The Crisis archives can be found using google books.

Democratic Party Principles: “Civil Rights is not a political issue, it is a moral issue to be resolved through political means.”

On Sunday evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

EWarrenEMKI

She reminded us of the words of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose seat in the Senate she now occupies, connecting the Civil Rights movement to electoral politics. April 9, 1964 floor speech in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

“This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.”

Senator Warren spoke about racial justice, economic justice, and voting rights and pointed out that economic justice alone is not enough to make black Americans feel safe in their own country.

SENATOR WARREN:

Economic justice is not – and has never been – sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice.”

The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found – against violence, against the denial of voting rights, and against economic injustice..[…]

In the same way that the tools of oppression were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came together to protect black people from violence, to ensure access to the ballot box, and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter.

Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom-but we have not made ENOUGH progress. […]

Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared.

And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed-voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process. […]

Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth.

But then, Republicans’ trickle-down economic theory arrived. Just as this country was taking the first steps toward economic justice, the Republicans pushed a theory that meant helping the richest people and the most powerful corporations get richer and more powerful. I’ll just do one statistic on this: From 1980 to 2012, GDP continued to rise, but how much of the income growth went to the 90% of America – everyone outside the top 10% – black, white, Latino? None. Zero. Nothing. 100% of all the new income produced in this country over the past 30 years has gone to the top ten percent.

She concluded her remarks:

The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.

Racial justice, economic justice, fair and honest elections that include all citizens … goals that align with Democratic Party principles.

Winning elections is how we gain the political power to effect change. Elections matter: in 2016, they will matter more than ever before.

(Full text of the speech, as prepared, is below)

Cherry-picking Pope Francis’ Address to Congress

Well, at least I am honest about it!

Pope Francis spoke to a joint session of Congress this morning.

PopesAddress
(CSPAN Video)

The audience included some of the justices of the Supreme Court but not the ones (Catholics Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) who won’t submit to lecturing by THIS pope in case he would dare to talk about things like corporate greed, climate change, the poors, and the death penalty. And he did!

I don’t agree with everything this pope says but I welcome his words that encourage people to join with those of us who care about people, justice, and our endangered planet.

Selected quotes …

President Obama speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner (Updated with Transcript)

Saturday evening, President Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner.

(Transcript below the fold)

WaPo:

President Obama pressed on Saturday night for a greater focus on helping black women who are more likely to be stuck in minimum wage jobs, have higher rates of illness and face higher rates of incarceration than other women. […]

Obama described the important and too often anonymous role that black women played during the civil rights movement and praised the recent push to put a black woman’s picture on the $10 bill. But he insisted that such symbolic actions fell short of what was needed. “We’ve got to make sure they are getting some ten dollar bills,” he said, “that they are getting paid properly.” […]

Obama made the case for better job training and more mentorship programs to encourage women of color to pursue careers in math and science.

President Obama: “Don’t play chicken with our economy!”

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at a gathering of the Business Roundtable, an “association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.” The president had some strong words for those who want to shut down the government over their ideology.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

[The] fact is, what I’ve called middle-class economics has been good for business. Corporate profits have hit an all-time high. Slowing health care prices and plummeting energy costs have helped your bottom lines. Manufacturing is growing at the fastest clip in about two decades. Our workforce is more educated than ever before. The stock market has more than doubled since 2009, and 2015 is on pace to be the year with the highest consumer confidence since 2004. And America’s technological entrepreneurs have continued to make incredible products that are changing our lives rapidly.

Now, you wouldn’t know any of this if you were listening to the folks who are seeking this office that I occupy. (Laughter.)

In the echo chamber that is presidential politics, everything is dark and everything is terrible. They don’t seem to offer many solutions for the disasters that they perceive -– but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.

I’m here to say that there’s nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America, especially when we stand as one of the few sources of economic strength in the world. […]

Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now, today, as we speak. But it should be over legitimate questions of spending and revenue –- not unrelated ideological issues. You’ll recall that two years ago Republicans shut down the government because they didn’t like Obamacare. Today, some are suggesting the government should be shut down because they don’t like Planned Parenthood. That’s not good sense and it’s not good business. The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish all because of an issue around a women’s health provider that receives less than 20 cents out of every thousand dollars in the federal budget, that’s not good policymaking.

The last time Republicans shut down the government, it cost our economy billions of dollars; consumer confidence plummeted. I don’t think anybody here thinks that’s going to be good for your business.

It is not good for business … or labor or, really, any segment of society other than those who fundraise off lies and who could not care less who suffers as long as the outrage fuels their own political careers.

One of these days, the members of the Business Roundtable, and the Chamber of Commerce, will realize that business needs a rational governmental presence and that the nihilism promoted by the Republican Party is NOT in their best interests. For all of our sakes, I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Congress has 11 days to pass a budget or to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until a budget can be agreed upon.

The clock is ticking …

(Transcript below the fold).

A toxic mix: Anti-immigrationism, racism, nativism and Islamophobia.

 photo 14e70c9d-f5d2-4a2f-bdb4-5dc1363c6703_zpshilpca6h.jpg

As Republican rhetoric against immigrants is being ramped up by their candidate clown-car—currently driven by Donald Trump—a lot of attention has been focused on Latinos as the targets of their nativist, birthright, xenophobic ire. We need to also remember that many immigrants to the U.S. are black, and not only face our foundational racism, but immigrants to the U.S. from Muslim countries in Africa face discrimination that is Islamophobic.

A Rising Share of the U.S. Black Population Is Foreign Born

Black immigrants are from many parts of the world, but half are from the Caribbean alone. Jamaica is the largest source country with about 682,000 black immigrants born there, accounting for 18% of the national total. Haiti follows with 586,000 black immigrants, making up 15% of the U.S. black immigrant population.

However, much of the recent growth in the size of the black immigrant population has been fueled by African immigration. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of black African immigrants living in the U.S. rose 137%, from 574,000 to 1.4 million. Africans now make up 36% of the total foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000 and just 7% in 1980.

Weekly Address: President Obama – A New College Scorecard

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 announced the launch of a new College Scorecard, meant to help students and parents identify which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck. Designed with input from those who will use it most, the Scorecard offers reliable data on factors important to prospective students, such as how much graduates earn, and how much debt they have when they graduate. In an economy where some higher education is still the surest ticket to the middle class, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important. That’s why the President is committed to making sure there exists reliable information that helps students find the college that best fits their needs so that they can succeed.

THE COLLEGE SCORECARD

| READ THE FACT SHEET

Senate Democrats Reject War (UPDATED with video)

NY Times Email:

BREAKING NEWS Senate Democrats clear way for Iran nuclear deal

Thursday, September 10, 2015 4:08 PM EDT

Senate Democrats delivered a major victory to President Obama on Thursday when they blocked a Republican resolution to reject a six-nation nuclear accord with Iran, ensuring that the landmark deal will take effect without a veto showdown between Congress and the White House.

A procedural vote fell short of the number needed to break a Democratic filibuster. It culminated hours of debate on the Senate floor and capped months of discord since the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China announced the agreement with Iran in July.

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempts to rewrite history, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid points out that McConnell lives in an alternate reality.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) shows some spine and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) melts in a puddle of Obama Derangement Syndrome on the Senate floor.

Film at 11 below the fold.

The White House “Back-to-School Tour”: #HeadsUpAmerica

The White House has launched their “2015 Back-to-School Tour” to promote the administration’s community college initiative, America’s College Promise, and announce a new initiative: Heads Up America, an independent campaign to raise awareness about the importance of America’s community colleges.

First stop, Macomb Community College in Warren MI with Dr. Jill Biden and President Barack Obama:

From the Michigan Daily

The president and Dr. Jill Biden, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, addressed a crowd of several hundred people at Macomb Community College. During the event, Obama rolled out a $175 million apprenticeship grant program through the U.S. Department of Labor and rallied support for a proposal he announced in January to provide a guaranteed two free years of community college.

Obama announced this plan in his State of the Union address with the goal of offering responsible students the opportunity to attend two years of community college for free. He emphasized the need for every student to have a chance to succeed, arguing that the benefits of a community college degree and job skills training include the chance to live a more prosperous life.

Dr. Biden:

“Our administration believes you should have the education and skills you need to succeed without being saddled with decades of debt,” she said. “Because it’s too hard to get ahead when you start off from so far behind.”

President Obama:

“A big part of making sure today’s economy works better for ordinary folks goes back to the issue of education,” he said. “Every American willing to work hard should have a shot at higher education because as the economy globally becomes more competitive, everybody’s got to upgrade their skills a little bit.”

(Transcript below)