Showing posts with label The President. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The President. Show all posts

January 20, 2017

The Speech in a few quoted words Took me Back to Another Era

Decree, glorious, stealing, protection, winning like never before, off welfare and back to work,  we will shine for everyone to follow, loyalty to each other, solidarity, unstoppable, no fear, protected by the military and law enforcement, protected by god, protection, fight, we will not fail, free the earth of the miseries of disease, we bleed the same blood of patriots, dreams, eradicate from the face of the earth, courage, make America wealthy again, here and now, enriched other governments, enriched americans.
Ended with right hand fist salute.

Missing: Call to unity, call for the american people to help him but instead the military and the police. The word “We”
Also missing: Enthusiasm and loud applause from the crowd.

These are the words I heard that took me away to a different era I have only read and seen on tape but not witnessed. I am sure that every person that reads these few words will see a different meaning. I have no idea of how many will see that it matches other words and for sure there are not words that were said or at least emphasized in any other inauguration that was cover live since I have been witnessing them.

There is plenty of pictures and , opinions and minute by minute live and tape coverage. As is the rule of this blog to try to post what is missed on current stories.


January 19, 2017

Approval of President’s Cabinet Choices



November 15, 2016

Chelsea Manning Asks The President to Commute Her Sentence

U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, has asked the Obama administration to commute her remaining sentence to the time she has already served, The New York Times reported on Sunday.  

Manning made the request in a Nov. 10 petition to President Obama, a copy of which the Times obtained from Manning's attorney. She attempted suicide on Oct. 4 at the start of her stay in solitary confinement, where she was sent for also attempting to take her own life in July. 
In the statement, Manning assumed responsibility for her actions, saying they were wrong, but said her life was in turmoil at the time of the leaks. She was confronting gender dysphoria at the time while deployed to Iraq, the Times said. 
Manning also wrote of her treatment in prison and her multiple suicide attempts, saying: "I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction."
"The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members," the statement said. 
Manning's petition was accompanied by letters of support from Daniel Ellsberg, best known for releasing the classified Vietnam War history known as the Pentagon Papers, Morris Davis, a former military commissions chief prosecutor, and Glenn Greenwald, a legal commentator and journalist who has been a prominent supporter, the Times said. 
Manning, a transgender Army private who was born male and revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman, is being held at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. 
She has been a focus of a worldwide debate on government secrecy since she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

November 3, 2016

Pres.Obama Smacks Down FBI Chief Without Naming Him

 President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative guidelines and trafficked in innuendo.

“We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News, broadcast Wednesday. “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

“When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the F.B.I., the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Mr. Obama said.

The president did not mention the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but it was clear Mr. Obama was referring to him.

Declaring that he had “made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments,” Mr. Obama nonetheless expressed confidence in Mrs. Clinton.

“I trust her,’’ he said. “I know her. And I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and her interest in making sure that young people have a better future.’’

White House officials later downplayed Mr. Obama’s remarks about the F.B.I. and insisted he had not meant to criticize Mr. Comey.

“The president went out of his way to say he wouldn’t comment on any particular investigations,” Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, told reporters on Air Force One while Mr. Obama was en route to North Carolina to campaign for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Schultz characterized Mr. Obama’s remarks as mirroring those made in recent days by the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, who had said that while the White House would not criticize Mr. Comey’s decision to update Congress on the status of an ongoing investigation, Mr. Obama believed that rules intended to keep such investigations confidential were good ones and should be followed.

For the last several days, the F.B.I. has been analyzing emails belonging to Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton. Agents discovered the emails last month in an unrelated investigation into Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, the disgraced former congressman Anthony D. Weiner.

*New York Times

*Now This Now

July 13, 2016

Over 5 Million Private Emails Lost by White House (2007)


Back in 2007, the White House "lost" more than five million private emails. The story was barely covered

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters

 This article originally appeared on Media Matters. 
Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.
The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.
As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.
The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The PressFace The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)
By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the PressFace The NationThis Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.
Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.
What has become clear over the last eight days however is that the Clinton email story isn’t about lawbreaking. “Experts have said it doesn’t appear Clinton violated federal laws,” CNN conceded. “But that hasn’t stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing.” The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, “any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible.”
Still, the scandal machine churns on determined to the treat the story as a political blockbuster, even though early polling indicates the kerfuffle will not damage Clinton’s standing.
Looking back, it’s curious how the D.C. scandal machine could barely get out of first gear when the Bush email story broke in 2007.  I’m not suggesting the press ignored the Rove email debacle, because the story was clearly covered at the time. But triggering a firestorm (a guttural roar) that raged for days and consumed the Beltway chattering class the way the D.C. media has become obsessed with the Clinton email story?  Absolutely not. Not even close.

June 25, 2016

The First Gay Friendly President Builds an LGBT National Movement


President Obama has named New York’s Stonewall Inn a national monument, the first such dedication marking the gay rights movement in the United States.

The Stonewall Inn is a Greenwich Village gay bar and the site of a police raid and subsequent riots in 1969 that helped ignite the American gay rights movement. In a White House video released Friday, Obama said that movement “ultimately became an integral part of America.”

Naming the Stonewall Inn as a national monument has been in the works for months. But its official commemoration on Friday comes at a critical moment for America’s LGBT community, after 49 people died when a gunman opened fire in an Orlando gay nightclub earlier this month.
That attack — categorized by federal officials as a hate crime and terror attack — has added fuel to the debate over federal legal protections for the LGBT community, which had already played out publicly and acrimoniously in the U.S. House this year.

It also raised the question of how the gay rights movement can influence the political debate over gun control: the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s biggest LGBT advocacy group, announced last week that it would advocate for stricter gun control measure after the shooting.

Commemorating Stonewall comes as the Obama administration increasingly looks to highlight the gay rights movement around the country.

The Department of Interior announced in May 2014 that it would conduct a “theme study” of important LGBT sites around the United States. It has named nine sites historical landmarks or added them to the National Register of Historic Places since then.

“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” Obama said in the video.

“I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country: the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us, that we are stronger together, that out of many, we are one.” 

June 11, 2016

Pres.Obama Warns LGBT to be Vigilant About the Pace of Progress

 Gay rights activists need to be vigilant to maintain their pace of progress, President Barack Obama said at a White House LGBT reception.

An "LGBT Pride" event has been held annually at the White House during the Obama administration. Leading figures in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement attended Thursday's event.
In addressing the attendees, Obama said changing attitudes in the country are advancing faster than laws.

"You know, when you talk to the upcoming generation, our kids — Malia, Sasha's generation — they instinctively know that people are people, and families are families," he said. "Discrimination, it's so last century. It doesn't make sense to them."

"Change can be slow, and I know that there have been times where at least some of the people in this room have yelled at me," he said. "But together, we've proven that change is possible, that progress is possible. It's not inevitable, though. History doesn't just travel forward; it can go backwards if we don't work hard. So we can't be complacent."

It was not until the fourth year of Obama's administration that he announced his support of same-sex marriage.

In his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 2004, he told a reporter that he did not support same-sex marriage, saying the word marriage has "strong religious roots."

In 2012, he officially changed his position, telling ABC News, "I've been through an evolution on this issue."

June 10, 2016

President Meets with Sanders, Sanders Changes Tone{will meet Hillary}

 It seems there is one common denominator that will make all of these three leaders work to unite the Democrats against Trump. It’s happening already!

Senator Bernie Sanders met with President Obama on Thursday and said afterward that he would do everything within his power to stop Donald J. Trump from becoming president — and would work closely with Hillary Clinton to make that happen.

After the meeting with Mr. Obama, which lasted more than an hour, Mr. Sanders gave no indication that he was ready to leave the race just yet, insisting that he would compete in next week’s primary contest here in Washington. However, he made clear that party unity was on his mind.

“I will work as hard as I can, to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States,” Mr. Sanders told reporters, saying the Manhattan businessman “makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign” and would be a “disaster” as commander in chief.

He said he would continue fighting for the issues that animated his campaign, including enhancing Social Security benefits, college affordability and restoring the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

“These are the issues that we will take to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July,” Mr. Sanders said, declining to answer reporters’ shouted questions about whether he would leave the race.

Shortly after their meeting, Mr. Obama endorsed Mrs. Clinton in a video. He also praised the campaign that Mr. Sanders ran.

The visit came a day after the senator huddled with his team at his headquarters in Vermont to discuss the fate of his candidacy.

If You Think the Democratic Primary Race Is Close, the 2008 One Was Even Tighter
How the 2008 Obama-Clinton race could inform Sanders’s path forward.



If You Think the Democratic Primary Race Is Close, the 2008 One Was Even Tighter 

How the 2008 Obama-Clinton race could inform Sanders’s path forward. 
Mr. Sanders, who requested the meeting with the president, pulled into the White House grounds at 10:56 a.m. after stopping at a nearby Peet’s Coffee for a scone. Mr. Obama and Mr. Sanders strolled down the colonnade next to the Rose Garden on their way into the Oval Office, chatting inaudibly and grinning broadly. Nearby, a thick line of cameras and cluster of microphones were assembled in the driveway outside the West Wing, where journalists peppered the Vermont senator with questions.

Mr. Obama was trying to negotiate, however gently, with him to exit the Democratic race without inflicting damage on efforts to unite the party.

“My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we’re able to pull things together,” Mr. Obama said during a taping of an appearance on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday in New York. “There’s a natural process of everybody recognizing that this is not about any individual.”

Briefly posing for photographers before his meeting in the Capitol with Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, Mr. Sanders ignored three questions about Mr. Obama’s endorsement of Mrs. Clinton.

His face flushed, Mr. Sanders did not speak at all. But Mr. Reid gently scolded the assembled journalists for asking questions at what was supposed to be just a photo opportunity.

After his meeting with Reid, Mr. Sanders made a quick exit through a back hall on his way to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. He was also scheduled to meet with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

After Mrs. Clinton won Tuesday’s California primary, Mr. Sanders refused to quit the race, despite Mrs. Clinton’s wide margin of victory and the fact that she had the support of enough delegates for the nomination. But some of his supporters have started to walk away, prompting growing calls that it is time to bring the party together to defeat Mr. Trump.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sanders sent out a fund-raising email asking for contributions of $2.70, and at 7 p.m. he will hold a rally outside of R.F.K. Stadium in Washington, where he will discuss his plans for getting big money out of politics and making public universities tuition free.

Correction: June 9, 2016 
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated how Hillary Clinton secured enough delegates for the Democratic nomination. She had enough superdelegates and pledged delegates combined to reach the threshold, she did not reach it through pledged delegates alone.

April 30, 2016

LGBT Community Braces to Fight Religious Anti Gay Legislation

Freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki )
The country’s largest LGBT rights group on Thursday went to battle against a religious-based amendment tacked onto the annual defense policy bill that advocates say would strip away gay rights in federal contracting.
The Human Rights Campaign called it the first legislation to pass a congressional committee that would roll back expanded rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the federal level since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry.
“We see this as social conservatives in the House trying to push what they view as a religious liberty exemption and use it as a sword rather than a shield,” David Stacy, the HRC’s director of government affairs, said in an interview.
The measure, introduced by freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) at 12:30 a.m. as the House Armed Services Committee prepared to pass the defense bill, would require the government to give religious organizations it signs contracts with exemptions in federal civil rights law and the Americans Disabilities Act.
Those laws do not ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So the legislation would effectively override the executive order President Obama issued in 2014 prohibiting federal contractors from such discrimination.
The amendment provides an exemption for “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” contracting with the government. It quickly prompted heated exchanges between Russell and committee Democrats, who said it was purposefully unclear. 
The measure, approved 33-29 on a mostly party-line vote at 2 a.m., could signal that the backlash in numerous states against LGBT anti-discrimination laws is now moving to Congress.
Stacy said that defeating the amendment on the House floor and in the Senate is now one of Human Rights Campaign’s top priorities. By late Thursday, a coalition of 42 civil rights groups called the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination had sent the committee a letter opposing the amendment.
It “would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant,” the letter said of the measure. “The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the ‘wrong’ religion.”
Stacy said the language in the amendment also would apply to organizations that receive federal grants. “If the government says, we’re going to fund a homeless shelter, they can refuse to hire an LGBT person to staff it even if 40 percent of the people they’re serving are LGBT,” he said.
Russell said his aim was simply to clarify “ambiguous language” concerning the rights of religious groups that already exists in federal law.
“Unfortunately, guidance from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, however well-intended, has caused confusion on the president’s executive order regarding religious contractors within the scope of their protections under law,” Russell told his colleagues. He said he wants to ensure that faith-based organizations — about 2,000 receive federal contracts every year — are on equal footing with secular ones.
But Democrats accused Russell of trying to mask what his amendment would really do: Allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees.
“The way this amendment is written, it doesn’t matter if you are a religious organization,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member.
“You can basically be a private contractor and this just gives you the right to discriminate if you decide you just don’t want to do business with gay people or with anybody else for that matter on a discriminatory basis within a protected class.”
The sweeping defense authorization bill is likely to go to the House floor in the next few weeks. The Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to mark up its version.

February 16, 2016

Naming a Scalia Successor will Not be Easy for Obama but not Impossible


For most presidents, choosing a Supreme Court nominee is a puzzle. For President Barack Obama, the chance to pick a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia is more like a Gordian Knot.

As the White House carries out a rare election-year search for a nominee, the president’s lawyers and top advisers are sorting through a tangled web of political, legal and personal factors.

A smart pick and nomination strategy could determine whether Obama gets to reshape the highest court for the next generation. The wrong pick could cede that opportunity to his successor.

Democrats view this as a moment decades in the making. Recent Republican presidents have gotten more chances to fill seats, tilting the court in to the right.

“The Supreme Court has not reflected where the American people have been on issues,” said Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel early in Obama’s first term. “This is the first opportunity in many, many years to bring the court more in line with the American people.”

For Obama, the clock is ticking. The sooner he picks a name, the longer he has to try to force the Republican-led Senate to hold a vote.

At the heart of Obama’s dilemma is how to manage the fierce Republican opposition to his decision to name a nominee. Within hours of Scalia’s death on Saturday, Republicans began arguing Obama should let his successor fill the open seat.

Obama brushed that argument aside, but it is undoubtedly weighing on his decision. Given the election-year timing, Obama would likely have been inclined to name the nominee most likely to appeal to Republican senators.

But if Republicans object to Obama even trying to fill the post — and remain united in that position —the president may see little point in bending too far to appease the other party. He may feel the pull to focus more on ginning up his own party’s base. Then key question becomes: What are the chances of getting a vote?

This wouldn’t be “the first time Republicans have come out with a lot of bluster only to have reality sink in,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Monday.

Refusing to allow a vote has consequences for the court, Shultz said, pointing to the prospects for tie votes that would allow lower court decisions to stand.

Schultz said the president will use the same criteria he used when he nominated Sonia Sotomayor, who became the first Hispanic on the court, and Elena Kagan, then-solicitor general.

In those instances, and in his appointments to lower courts, Obama has shown a desire to expand ethnic and racial diversity and to elevate more women.

His nominee would almost certainly support abortion rights, consideration of race in college admissions and other areas of public life, limits on campaign contributions and stronger rights of labor unions — all issues that have divided the court’s liberal and conservative justices on a 5-4 margin.

In all likelihood, those cases where the conservatives prevailed, with Scalia in the majority, would come out the other way if Obama gets to pick Scalia’s successor.

Obama also has prioritized young candidates — people likely to hold the seat for decades. He’s aimed for relatively uncontroversial personalities, people with views that fall into the category of mainstream liberal jurisprudence.

Obama will also be mindful of the clock. He has said there is “plenty of time” for Republicans to consider his choice. The more time he gives them before them — particularly before the height of campaign season — the stronger his argument. The time crunch may lean in favor of candidates who’ve already been vetted for administration jobs or recent court appointments.

It’s standard practice to keep files on possible nominees and assign a staff member in the White House Counsel’s office to manage and update the list. That list has long included Merrick Garland, chief judge for the D.C. circuit. He has a reputation as a moderate, in part because he was an official in the Justice Department who led investigations of the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber. If Obama is going to reach out to Republicans, Garland might be the tool.

But as a 63-year-old, white male Garland doesn’t check the diversity or youth boxes.

For a more historic choice, Judge Sri Srinivasan is considered a leading option.

Born in India and raised in Kansas, Srinivasan, 48, would be the first Indian-American on the court. He joined the appeals court in Washington in 2013, meaning he has been recently scrubbed. The Senate confirmed him by a 97-0 vote.

Srinivasan, however, may not fire up the interest groups Democrats might want to engage in the fight. He initially faced relatively muted opposition from liberal groups because of his work in private practice defending business interests against claims of human rights abuses in foreign countries.

Other judges under possible consideration are Paul Watford, a 48-year-old former federal prosecutor appointed by Obama to the federal appeals court based in San Francisco. Watford would be only the third African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.

Judge Patricia Millet, 52, like Srinivasan, worked in the Justice Department under both Democratic and Republican administrations. She also was nominated by Obama and confirmed to the appeals court in Washington in 2013.

It’s possible Obama may look beyond the bench for his candidate. Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson has been floated. A sitting senator is an enticing option, if Obama wants to force Republicans to deny a colleague a hearing. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have both been mentioned as possibilities.

December 25, 2015

This is What Modern Presidents Get Wrong About Being President According to Conservatives

(Last paragraph was slightly modified to correct a mistake, apologies)

 This is what conservatives and I am not talking your average Republican voter but I am talking about conservatives with something to conserve imaginative or real and that is $money$. They believe the president should conserve and protect not the American people but the system of government (conservative system of governemnt). I saw an honest posting of these facts and I could not help my self but to post them but with this explanation as prologue and leave it up to my reader to decide what you really think his/her (President’s) job is or ought to be.

We will be confronting in the future financial situations like we did on the lat recession/depression and housing and loan/banking bubble burst. During our last face to face with fiscal doomed the President and Congress took a middle of the road approach. The president tried to protect people loosing their jobs, people loosing their houses to the banks who gave them bad loans in the first place trying to make money on the junkiest of the junk bonds. Many of the loans were not even signed by the parties whose signature appeared on the documents or by people that could not be found. All in all the market (banks which initiated the problem) got off bank free. The people with a lot of money made more money and people with less money lost some or lost it all. Who did the government protect? It seems both sides but conservatives were unhappy that too much money was wasted not on the system of government (capitalism) but to the people with socialists programs.  Below  you will find their argument.

By the way I will like to remind you about a man called Bernie. He sold junk bonds. He got the top 1% as fools and made them loose money. He appeared to be super rich with super connections.
He had all the turkey dressings the superrich like to see: Lots of fats and plenty of gravy (something for nothing). He took them all, even the one famous person that always denied they were part of that group because he said his group “Suffered individuals helping those that have suffered.. 70 yrs ago”
(Not the actual name of the group [to protect the guilty] ).  How he had so much money under his name which he was gambling away with junk bonds remains a mystery to some.

Well then the banking bubble burst with their own junk bonds and what happened to Bernie? I will tell you but first let me remind you about something similar to what Bernie did which was done by the bank President of a Florida Bank called Sun Trust. This is the guy with 24kt. fixtures in his many toilets so you can imagine his office and houses. Remember him?   His sin was in doing the same thing Bernie did but this guy did it to the bottom 99%. He was sent to a federal corrections (gulf) facility to be rehabilitated. He has been long out of jail working as advisor for the banks since he is not supposed to work for the banks according to his sentencing  (*_!_ *)

You had some of his old pals visit him to play a few holes there. Well and what happened to Bernie? Bernie is got a life sentence in a 6x8 23 hrs a day. Two of his sons that worked for him but were put under pressure by the FBI to testify against daddy after the whole thing was over Bernie had no sons because they had committed suicide and his his wife divorced him to start a new a new life with a new name.
Why the difference in treatment: As mentioned, Bernie hit the 1% which is the part that benefits from everybody’s work. The BankTrust guy hit the other 99% which are the ones working and got retirement. You try to hit the center of power and you will be burn…message well taken!
Adam Gonzalez                                                                  

What is the president’s primary responsibility?
The American people voted. You took the oath, danced at the balls, and you’re now sitting in the Oval Office. Quick: what is your No. 1 job? Is it to command the United States military? Appoint judges and cabinet members? Pardon a turkey?

At the Republican debate on Tuesday night, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie trotted out a familiar answer to this question. “The first and most important priority of the president of the United States is to protect the safety and security of Americans,” Christie said.
That’s a line that will likely be repeated often between now and January 20, 2017, when President Barack Obama’s successor is sworn into office. But on that day, the next president-elect will stand before the American people and say something categorically different about the new job:

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Despite the oath and its focus on the constitution, presidents — and presidential candidates — often redefine the job description to suit their own interests 
At the 2004 Republican National Convention, former President George W. Bush said, “I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people.” 
Obama adopted Bush’s interpretation, and has used similar language in policy documents, like the administration’s 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism, and major speeches. 

“The supreme responsibility of the president is to protect our system of government, not the safety of individuals or even their physical security.”
The president, a former constitutional law professor, repeated the claim last week in his Oval Office address on terrorism and the Islamic State. “As commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people,” Obama said.
That’s a misinterpretation of the job’s number one responsibility, according to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.

“The supreme responsibility of the president is to protect our system of government, not the safety of individuals or even their physical security,” Aftergood said.
Constitutional law experts agree, but argue that the oath of office provides some wiggle room.

“If you look at the oath, it dictates the president’s constitutional obligations, but they end up being undefined,” said Michael Gerhardt, the scholar in residence at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The constitution does give presidents “some discretion to say, ‘Here’s what I think my job will be.’”

This debate isn’t new, of course, and it stems in part from the vagueness of the catch-all term “security.” Presidents take on numerous issues that are connected to keeping the public safe, but that aren’t directly tied to matters of war and peace.
John F. Kennedy helped lay the groundwork for consumer product safety regulations; Richard Nixon signed the bill that established the Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration, which enforces workplace safety standards. 

Still, presidents have long prioritized national security and defense over other responsibilities, especially during times of strife.
“Much of the history of constitutional law as it relates to the president [revolves around the issue of] whether they can write their own job description,” said Gerhardt, who teaches constitutional law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Abraham Lincoln
Presidents throughout history, including Abraham Lincoln, have found ways to redefine their job description.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus after declaring a state of martial law, arguing that the unprecedented measure was necessary to help the Union Army win the Civil War. The suspension was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s chief justice, Roger Taney, but Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order creating a system of Japanese internment camps in 1942, and the order was upheld twice by the Supreme Court during World War II.
Donald Trump, who has made national security one of the top issues in his presidential campaign, cited FDR’s internment camp policy in defending his call to ban Muslims from entering the country.

The proposal was condemned by party leaders and Muslim Americans, but it has resonated with many conservative primary voters in an election that is more focused on concerns about terrorism than perhaps any presidential contest since the 2001 attacks.
And as fears over terrorism have grown since 9/11, the political rhetoric has followed suit, helping to solidify the notion that the president’s first responsibility is protecting Americans.

“There has been an increase in rhetoric and policy orientation” toward national security in the post-9/11 era, and it’s become more noticeable on the campaign trail, Gerhardt said.
Aftergood argued that the shift has allowed presidents and White House contenders to promote ideas, in the name of securing the country, that violate basic individual rights.
“Sometimes safety can be enhanced at the expense of constitutional values,” Aftergood said. “It’s important to be clear about what the president’s priority is: [protecting the constitution], or physical safety. And too often that distinction has been blurred.”


October 14, 2015

Pres. Obama Memorial to LGBT Rights in NYC?


You know what a park looks like. It’s a green place, full of grass and trees, that lets people enjoy nature. And you know what a national park looks like: bigger, and even more naturey, than a city park. Except you don’t, apparently, because virtually every leading New York politician is calling on President Obama to create a national park that would be little more than a street corner.

Technically, what they want is a national monument, which like national historic sites and national seashores and so on falls under the National Park Service’s jurisdiction. The corner in question is on Christopher Street, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Long identified with New York City’s gay community (although no one but bankers and movie stars can afford to move there now), the neighborhood incubated the modern gay rights movement. Specifically, at the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street, in 1969, patrons fought back against a violent police raid. The surrounding streets featured protests and riots in the days that followed. In 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riot, the first LGBT Pride march in U.S. history started on Christopher Street.

But the Stonewall Inn is a bar. How do you make a park out of a bar? You don’t. Rather, you turn the sidewalk in front of it and the city-owned pocket park across the street into a national park. Christopher Park — a fenced-off little garden with a bronze statue of Civil War general Philip Henry Sheridan and an oval of half a dozen benches — looks only slightly more like a national park than the bar itself. It is best known to most New Yorkers as a respite for the homeless. “That park that all the bums fill up?” said a friend of mine upon being told the subject of this story. “That’s amazing. I used to see a shrink near there and I’d never wait in that park. I’d rather stand on the sidewalk somewhere.”

The Gay Liberation sculpture by George Segal in Christopher Park honoring the gay rights movement and commemorating the events at the Stonewall Inn opposite the park that gave rise to the movement.The Gay Liberation sculpture by George Segal is already on display in Christopher Park.Stephen Rees
So would a physical monument to honor the gay rights movement be erected there? Not necessarily. A national monument is first declared, then designed. A physical monument could be proposed beforehand, but it hasn’t been yet. For one thing, the park already features two white statues depicting gay and lesbian couples, and the intention is to keep them. For another, space on the site is extremely limited.

So if the national monument status is merely notional, why bother with it at all? The answer is partly bureaucratic and partly philosophical. Bureaucratically speaking, it would move management of Christopher Park from the New York City Parks Department to the National Park Service. “What that does is it brings the storytelling and historic interpretation capacity and, frankly, brilliance of the national parks department to the gay rights story,” says Cortney Worrall, northeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy organization focused on protecting and enhancing national parks.

The National Park Service manages many sites that are primarily about historical storytelling — battlefields, for example — and so it would be well-positioned to do the same with gay rights on Christopher Street. It might lead walking tours of the neighborhood, or create a mobile app with a self-guided walking tour. It might post new signage that more dramatically tells the story of what happened in the area; currently there is only a small sign hidden behind a bench. There are precedents for this kind of national monument. Little Rock Central High School, in Arkansas, is a national historic site because of its high-profile role in school desegregation, but it has not been turned into a museum. “The high school still functions,” notes Worrall. “The park service does tours in the high school while kids are in class. What happened is interpreted outside of what you would consider a normal parklike experience.”

On a more philosophical level, creating a national monument — however abstract — would demonstrate national reverence for the achievements of the gay rights movement. The civil rights movement has the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, and there is a Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y. The fight for gay rights deserves the same recognition.

And by creating the park, you open the possibility of it growing into something more physically substantial over time. The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is dispersed over 13 blocks in the center of New Bedford, Mass. It has grown since its founding in 1996 to include buildings that now serve as a museum and a visitor center. National parks, says Worrall, “evolve into their final or best existence. The hope is that the designation happens and that’s a catalyst for fundraising to acquire another location in Greenwich Village that serves as a visitor center and archives of the uprising.”

So what happens now? Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the congressman whose district encompasses the neighborhood, has joined with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in introducing a bill to create the Stonewall national monument. National parks and monuments can be created by an act of Congress, but the current Republican-controlled Congress is about as likely to create Stonewall National Monument as it is to pass a carbon tax.

The president also has the authority, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, to create national monuments by presidential proclamation. Don’t expect President Marco Rubio to do that in 2017 either. Even though Nadler and Gillibrand introduced a bill, their realistic hope is that President Obama will designate the monument while he’s still in office. “President Barack Obama has advanced the arc of gay rights and the last 17 months that he is in office provides a window,” says Nadler spokesman Daniel Schwarz. We’ve seen that national monuments can be well-integrated into the urban fabric, and it seems fitting that America’s first urban president in a century could create this one.

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