Weekly Address: President Obama – Creating Opportunity for All

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 highlighted the importance of expanding opportunity for all Americans — a principle that has guided his work throughout the past six years. This past week, the President attended a summit at Georgetown University where he discussed issues like poverty and inequality, and what we can do to ensure everyone gets a fair shot.

We’ve seen real results in this area, but there is still more that can be done. And lack of opportunity is not the only barrier to success. That’s why, on Monday, the President will travel to Camden, New Jersey to visit with local law enforcement, meet with young people, and hear directly about efforts to build trust between the police and the community in a city that has faced one of the highest crime rates in America.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Creating Opportunity for All

Hi, everybody. Everything we’ve done over the past six years has been in pursuit of one overarching goal: creating opportunity for all.

What we’ve long understood, though, is that some communities have consistently had the odds stacked against them. That’s true of rural communities with chronic poverty. That’s true of some manufacturing communities that suffered after the plants they depended on closed their doors. It’s true of some suburbs and inner cities, where jobs can be hard to find and harder to get to.

That sense of unfairness and powerlessness has helped to fuel the kind of unrest that we’ve seen in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, and New York. It has many causes — from a basic lack of opportunity to groups feeling unfairly targeted by police – which means there’s no single solution. But there are many that could make a different and could help. And we have to do everything in our power to make this country’s promise real for everyone willing to work for it.

That’s why last Tuesday, at a summit organized by Catholics and evangelicals, I sat down with a conservative scholar and a poverty expert for a discussion on what it takes to open more doors of opportunity. We know our efforts matter: since 1967, we’ve brought poverty down by about 40 percent, thanks in part to programs like Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families. And we know that there are folks from all faiths, and across the ideological spectrum, who care deeply about “the least of these.” So I hope this conversation continues, not as a question of whether, but of how, we can work together to grow opportunity. Because it’s not words, but deeds, that make a difference. And from expanding tax cuts for working parents, to raising high school graduation rates, to helping millions of Americans secure health insurance when they didn’t have it just a few years ago — our actions are making a difference.

Of course, lack of opportunity is not the only barrier between too many of our young people and the kind of future they deserve. On Monday, I’ll travel to Camden, New Jersey, a city that has faced one of the highest violent crime rates in America. I’ll highlight some of the innovative things they’ve done to help police do their jobs more safely and reduce crime in the process. And I’ll highlight steps all cities can take to maintain trust between the brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line, and the communities they’re sworn to serve and protect.

Whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or independents; whether we live in one of our poorest communities, one of our wealthiest, or anywhere in between, we all want our country to be one where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. We want a place where you can make it if you try. That’s the promise we make to our young people. That’s the promise that makes us exceptional. And it’s the promise I’ll never stop fighting to keep, for my children and for yours.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.



  1. I have one quibble with the president, I don’t think this is true:

    … we know that there are folks from all faiths, and across the ideological spectrum, who care deeply about “the least of these.”

    I believe that you cannot have voted for the current Republican congressional majority and claim to care about “the least of these”. Period.

  2. In the News: This Billionaire Tried To Get University Scientists Fired For Doing Their Job

    Despite a growing body of scientific research connecting oil and gas activity to a dramatic spike in earthquakes across several U.S. states, some industry leaders are fighting this characterization. Harold Hamm, billionaire CEO of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, told a dean at the University of Oklahoma last year that he was so displeased by the university’s research on the topic that he wanted certain scientists dismissed, Bloomberg News reported.

    Anyone who cares about science and the independence of research at our major universities should be chilled by this. The University of Oklahoma risks destroying the reputation of their faculty and institution by allowing one of their billionaire donors to dictate the work being done by their researchers.

  3. In the News: How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics (PDF)

    (h/t Rick Hasen)

    In this paper, Bruce Bartlett, conservative commentator, discusses the impact of Fox News on the Republican Party:

    The creation of Fox News in 1996 was an event of deep, yet unappreciated, political and historical importance. For the first time, there was a news source available virtually everywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a conservative tilt. Finally, conservatives did not have to seek out bits of news favorable to their point of view in liberal publications or in small magazines and newsletters. Like someone dying of thirst in the desert, conservatives drank heavily from the Fox waters. Soon, it became the dominant – and in many cases, virtually the only – major news source for millions of Americans. This has had profound political implications that are only starting to be appreciated. Indeed, it can almost be called self-brainwashing – many conservatives now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth.

    This is what led to what I call the ACORN Effect from the 2008 election. People who got their news via Fox News, and who only knew or spoke with other Fox News viewers, were stunned that Barack Obama had been elected president. Their only defense from cognitive dissonance was that ACORN had stolen the election because in the fantasy world constructed at Fox, a black man could not possibly win the election.

  4. In the News: Republicans debate Iraq war at major Iowa gathering for 2016

    A debate over the Iraq war triggered by Jeb Bush’s wobbly response to questions about it spilled into a major gathering of Republican 2016 U.S. presidential hopefuls on Saturday, reflecting divisions about whether the conflict was worthwhile.

    The forum sponsored by the Iowa Republican Party was the biggest gathering of 2016 rivals in Iowa to date as the presidential race picks up speed in the state that early next year holds the first nominating contest on the road to the election in November.[…]

    Other Republicans blame the rise of Islamic State on the failure of Democratic President Barack Obama to leave a post-war contingent of U.S. troops in Iraq. George W. Bush launched the war based on intelligence that said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.

    South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who turned in one of the most warmly received performances of the night, provided a counter-point to Paul. He defended the war and George W. Bush’s decision to prosecute it. … Graham said: “If you fought in Iraq, it worked. It’s not your fault it’s going to hell. It’s Obama’s fault. You did your job.”

    Any political event where Lindsey Graham is greeted warmly is an event firmly rooted in fantasyland. The American people do not agree with Republicans on this, they know that the war was a mistake from start to finish.

    Here is a nice christianist response from Rick Santorum when asked about ISIL:

    “They want to bring back a 7th century version of jihad. So here’s my suggestion. We load up our bombers and we bomb them back to the 7th century,” said former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

    I guess anyone killed in these bombing attacks are just collateral damage in the New Crusades.

    • The Republican muck-a-mucks are somewhat alarmed:

      Party officials are growing worried about a wide-open nominating contest likely to feature a historically large and diverse field. At best, they say, the Republican primaries will be a lively showcase of political talent — especially compared with the relative coronation taking shape on the Democratic side. But officials also acknowledge just how risky their circumstance is for a party that hasn’t put on a good show in a long time.

      With no clear front-runner and Bush so far unable to consolidate his path to the nomination — his fumbles over the Iraq war and his brother’s legacy further exposed his vulnerabilities — the GOP’s internecine battle could stretch well into the spring of 2016. […]

      … in such a muddled lineup — officials are planning to squeeze 10 or more contenders onto the debate stage — candidates will be rewarded for finding creative ways to gain notice.

      And this is a problem of their own doing:

      Republican officials are dismayed that months of relentless, negative press coverage of her use of private e-mail servers, foreign donations to her family’s charitable foundation and her six-figure paid speeches have done minimal damage to her favorability ratings.

      Republicans have been telling lies about Hillary Clinton for decades, starting with their contention that she killed White House aide Vince Foster. What do they expect? That they could just say “But this time it is truuuuuuuuuuuuue!!!”?

      But here is something completely believable:

      … the GOP is trying to shed its image as a retro party that protects the wealthy and project a more forward-looking vision by trying to demonstrate that Republicans care about the poor and disadvantaged and craft policies to lift them up.

      As Bubbanomics would say: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”!

  5. In the News: Tribal environmental director: ‘We are not equipped’ for North Dakota oil boom

    (Link to Video: Al Jazeera Tonight: Crude awakening: One tribe’s struggle with North Dakota’s oil boom, May 15, 2015)

    [Edmund Baker, the environmental director for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes] has only six field officers responsible for monitoring more than 1,300 oil wells scattered across more than 1,500 square miles of reservation. Those wells pump out more than 386,000 barrels of oil every day, accounting for a third of all oil produced in North Dakota – the nation’s No. 2 oil producer.

    “I’ll just come out and admit it: We can’t handle it right now,” he said. “We are not equipped. We are not staffed … You need competent people, you need people who are not only scientifically equipped, you need people who know how to understand the law, and enforce the law and hold companies accountable.”

    With so few environmental regulators patrolling the rural reservation, the tribes are paying a high price for the oil boom – the threat of their land being poisoned by the oil industry. […]

    The worst spill on the reservation happened in July around Bear Den Creek, when 1 million gallons of brine – a saltwater byproduct of fracking – poured from a broken pipeline.

    [Environmentalist Richard] Crow’s Heart showed America Tonight the ongoing cleanup process.

    “What I see is destruction to our environment, destruction to our life,” he said. “All because of greed; a dollar bill. And to me, a dollar bill is not worth what I see here.”

    • The Lummi Nation is taking a firm stand re the proposed coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point.

      The Lummi Nation, in a strongly worded letter, asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to take immediate action to deny a permit to build North America’s largest coal export terminal at Cherry Point, citing significant impacts to treaty rights and irreparable damage to important crab and salmon fisheries.

      In a letter sent today to Colonel John Buck of the Seattle District of the Corps, Lummi Chairman Tim Ballew II said the impact of the proposed bulk coal terminal at this historic location cannot be mitigated.

      “The Lummi people have harvested fish at this location for thousands of years,” Ballew said. “We have a sacred obligation to protect this location for its cultural and spiritual significance.”


  6. Update on the deadly Amtrak crash: Amtrak Ordered To Take Steps To Improve Safety

    The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday issued a directive to Amtrak aimed at improving safety in the wake of the derailment of a passenger train in Philadelphia this week that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

    “We are continuing to work with the [National Transportation Safety Board] to understand exactly what happened on Tuesday so we can prevent this type of devastating accident from ever happening again,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement released Saturday.

    “While we do not yet know everything that happened, we do know – without question – that protecting rail passengers is our top priority. The actions we have instructed Amtrak to take are aimed at improving safety on this corridor immediately, but we won’t hesitate to require the railroad to do more to improve safety as the accident’s causes become clearer.”

    The FRA has ordered that Automatic Train Control (ATC), which is currently in use on southbound trains also be used on northbound lines. “ATC detects when a train is traveling above the speed limit, sending a signal to the engineer,” the statement says.

    Amtrak will also be required to assess all curves on the Northeast Corridor. “In areas where approach speed is significantly higher than curve speed, appropriate technology intended to prevent over-speed derailments must be implemented immediately.”

    The passenger service must also “increase its wayside signage alerting engineers and conductors of the maximum authorized speed throughout the” Northeast Corridor, the statement says.

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