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339 posts from July 2015

July 31, 2015

National Urban League: Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his message about fighting income inequality to the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale today.

Here are some highlights:

RECORD HIGH INCOME INEQUALITY: “The United States of America today is the wealthiest country in the history of the world but most people don’t know that because much of that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. Today in America we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major country on earth and it is worse today than at any other time since 1928.”

THE 1 PERCENTERS: “To me it is not acceptable that top 1/10th of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%.”

WALMART OWNERS: “It’s not acceptable that one family, the family that owns Walmart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of the American people.”

KOCH BROTHERS: “You tell me what it means when one family, the Koch brothers family, will spend more money on this election cycle than either the Democratic party or the Republican party. spend almost a billion dollars to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer.”

AFRICAN-AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT: “If you are a white kid between 17-20 who graduates high school you have a 33% unemployment rate. If you are a Hispanic kid you have a 36% unemployment rate. If you are an African-American kid, age 17-20, a  high school graduate you have a 51% unemployment rate. That is unacceptable.”  (See PolitiFact’s analysis of a similar claim by Sanders.)

RACE OF PRISONERS: “Blacks are in prison at six times the rate of whites.”

National Urban League: Martin O'Malley


Democrat Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor, tried to address criminal-justice reform two weeks ago to the liberal Netroots Nation conference. But he effectively got heckled off stage by "Black lives matter" protesters -- and later had to apologize for responding to them that "All lives matter." Needless to say, he was unable to make his points that day.

So he made them Friday to the National Urban League's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he was allowed to get through his speech and was met with applause, though it was not particularly warm. And he made sure the group knew he had learned his lesson:

As mayor, he said, "Every year we buried 300 young black men who died violent deaths on our streets -- and black lives matter." There was tepid clapping.

WHEN YOUR POLLING IS LOW: O'Malley began his remarks by introducing himself to many people who probably don't know who he is: "I am a Democrat, and I'm running for president of the United States."

REMEMBER 'THE WIRE'? Baltimore was suffering when he took office, O'Malley said, without spelling out that his city's portrayal in the HBO show The Wire: "They had life in their neighborhood made miserable by open-air drug dealing."

BUT HE MADE THINGS BETTER, HE SAID: O'Malley said Baltimore is growing and his administration spent more on public schools. And as governor, he added, he reduced crime, recidivism and incarceration rates. The questions for the next president, O'Malley said, will be: "How can we save lives? How can we improve and reform our criminal-justice system? And how, together, can we make real the promise of equal protection under the law?"

HIS ANSWERS: Reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for non-violent crimes. Repeal the death penalty. Invest in re-entry programs for convicts. Better equip communities to deal with mental illnesses. And, he added, "We must improve policing, and the way we police the police." ("When I first ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999, I was not endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police," he bragged.)

National Urban League: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton attacked Jeb Bush's stances on health care and Medicare during her speech to the National Urban League.

Clinton didn’t name Bush but she made a series of attacks based on the Right to Rise PAC which is supporting his campaign.

“Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” Clinton told the mostly black audience at the event in Fort Lauderdale.

Here are some highlights of her speech:

JEB BUSH’S RIGHT TO RISE: “I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a ‘right to rise’ and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare. People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care. They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you cannot seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote.”

(Here is some background about Bush's recent statement on Medicare.)

DISCRIMINATION IN MORTGAGES: Clinton said Americans would be surprised to learn that  “African-Americans are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage or how in 2013 median wealth for white families was more than $134,000 but for African-American familes it was just $11,000.”

SCHOOL SEGREGATION, PRISONS AND VOTING RIGHTS: “A lot of people don’t realize that our schools are more segregated than in 1968 or even African-Americans are sentenced to longer prison terms than white people for the same crimes. Or political operatives are trying every trick in the book to prevent African-Americans from voting.” (PolitiFact recently rated a similar statement she made about school segregation Mostly True.)

CHILDREN’S HEALTH CARE: “African-American children are 500% more likely to die from asthma than white kids.”

RACIAL PROFILING: “We need to try best we can walk in one another's shoes and imagine what it would be like sit our son down and have the talk or if people followed us around stores or locked their car doors when we walked past.”

Clinton now heads to Florida International University to call for lifting the U.S. Trade embargo with Cuba. See her Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

National Urban League: Ben Carson


Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and West Palm Beach resident, kicked off a series of speeches Friday by five 2016 presidential contenders at the National Urban League's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale. The early-morning crowd was tepid at best in its reception of the soft-spoken Carson, a Republican and the only African American to speak to the largely black audience.

A LITTLE BIO: Carson talked about growing up "in the ghetto in Boston," in "dire poverty," as the son of a single mother who was one of 24 children, married at 13 and left her "bigamist" husband. "I remember thinking that I would probably never live beyond 25 years of age," he said.

'NASTY RUMOR': Speaking in the third person, Carson decried people who circulate a "nasty rumor" that he wants to do away with government safety nets that at some points helped his mother and his family. "The people who say that kind of stuff, they have an agenda, and they're trying to undermine and divide people," Carson said, adding that he wants "to provide a ladder to get people out of dependency."

THE ANTI-SOCIALISM CANDIDATE: Carson stressed entrepreneurship and tut-tutted "people who try to demonize" capitalism. He called for a six-month "hiatus" to let corporations bring back assets overseas without having to incur the corporate-tax rate.

LAUGH LINE: "I was a horrible student before my mother made us read books. And we were not happy about that. But back in those days you had to do what your parents told you."

ON RACISM: "There was racism," Carson said about growing up. "There still is. And there always will be, as long as there are people with small brains and evil forces to stimulate them." He recalled a nurse at Johns Hopkins University assuming he was an orderly rather than a doctor. He didn't blame her for her "ignorance," he said. Instead, Carson corrected her nicely -- "They would turn about 18 shades of read" -- and he'd have made a "friend for life."

SAYETH THE NEUROSURGEON: "You just have to understand where people are coming from," he said. "It's not the skin and the hair that makes them who they are. It's the brain that makes them who they are."

McClatchy poll: As 3rd-party candidate, Donald Trump could send Hillary Clinton to the White House

via @LightmanDavid @corinneskennedy

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump could do to the 2016 general election exactly what Ross Perot did a generation ago – with a Clinton pulling away from a Bush and a wealthy business mogul drawing a surprisingly large share of the vote.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Hillary Clinton leading every potential Republican rival one on one. And while her lead has narrowed over several, it expands greatly in a race against Jeb Bush if Trump decides to jump in as a third-party candidate, as he has suggested is possible.

The poll projects a virtual rerun of 1992. That year, husband Bill Clinton won the White House with 43 percent of the popular vote. President George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush’s father, came in second with 37.5 percent. Perot, running as an independent, got 19 percent.

This time, Hillary Clinton gets 44 percent, Bush gets 29 percent and Trump gets 20 percent, according to the poll.

The results come as the Republicans prepare for their first debate, Thursday in Cleveland, with Trump leading national polls of GOP voters. Should he fall short of winning the Republican nomination, which party insiders expect, Trump has opened the door to a third-party bid.

Trump would badly wound Bush, according to the nationwide McClatchy-Marist survey conducted July 22-28.

He would siphon votes from Republicans and independents, but not from Democrats. He’d get 28 percent of the Republican vote, while Bush would sink to 63 percent support from his own party. Meanwhile, Clinton would hold 86 percent of the Democrats.

More here.

A peek at what Hillary Clinton will say about Cuba policy at FIU


Here's an excerpt of Hillary Clinton's speech planned for Friday, where she will call for the U.S. to lift the trade embargo against Cuba:

We have arrived at a decisive moment. The Cuban people have waited long enough for progress to come. Even many Republicans on Capitol Hill are starting to recognize the urgency of moving forward.  It’s time for their leaders to either get on board or get out of the way.

The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all.  We should replace it with a smarter approach that empowers the Cuban private sector, Cuban civil society, and the Cuban-American community to spur progress and keep pressure on the regime.

Today I am calling on Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell to step up and answer the pleas of the Cuban people.  By large majorities, they want a closer relationship with America.  They want to buy our goods, read our books, surf our web, and learn from our people.  They want to bring their country into the 21st century.  That is the road toward democracy and dignity.  We should walk it together.

July 30, 2015

As oil-drilling bill advances, Sen. Bill Nelson vows to use all options to stop it


A bill to open new areas off Florida’s Gulf Coast to drilling and to accelerate the timetable for doing so passed out of a U.S. Senate committee Thursday, prompting a vow from one of the state’s senators to do whatever measures possible to block it.

The legislation passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowing for additional areas of oil and gas exploration off America’s shores. Part of the bill dealt with drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast – and prompted the rebuke from Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Orlando.

In a one-line letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate, Nelson said, “If any measure to repeal the current moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico comes before the full Senate for a vote, I will use all available procedural options to block it.”

Currently, there’s a no-drilling zone extending 125 miles off most of the state’s Gulf coastline – and as far out as 235 miles at some points, Nelson said. That no-drilling zone is in effect until 2022.

The Gulf measure originally came from Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, who earlier this year introduced his Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. It would allow for drilling 50 miles off Florida’s Gulf shores and begin opening up the area sooner than the law now calls for.

His Gulf-related bill was pulled into a broader drilling bill that also addressed areas off Alaska and in the Atlantic Ocean. It passed out of committee on a 12-10 vote.

There is no indication when it might be taken up by the full Senate.

The power of a solo senator to stop legislation is limited, but they do have some options – such as a filibuster – to hold up a bill and bring attention to it.

Continue reading "As oil-drilling bill advances, Sen. Bill Nelson vows to use all options to stop it" »

Florida Senate minority leader to Jeb Bush: Apologize to black community


The office of state Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, the Democratic minority leader, sent over a letter Joyner addressed to Jeb Bush ahead of his speech Friday to the National Urban League's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Joyner, who is black, used the letter to fault Bush for purging the Florida voter rolls and shortening early-voting hours as governor. Those are among the challenges Bush faces in addressing a primarily black audience as part of a campaign that he says will reach out to groups that vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

"If you are indeed sincere about being inclusive, then you need to first acknowledge your mistakes and unequivocally apologize directly to the community you wronged," Joyner wrote.

Here's the full text of her letter:

Continue reading "Florida Senate minority leader to Jeb Bush: Apologize to black community" »

Meet the black man who would 'run through walls' for Jeb Bush



The first time T. Willard Fair cast a ballot for Jeb Bush, he didn't know him.

Bush had just put his foot in his mouth, blurting out at a 1994 debate for Florida governor that, as governor, he would do "Probably nothing" for African Americans.

But it was not a gaffe to Fair, who is black. Instead, Fair felt he had found his candidate.

"'That's my man! I gotta vote for him,'" Fair recalled last month in an interview with the Miami Herald a few days before Bush launched his presidential campaign. "Part of what is broken in my community is people who know better won't say better. He says things that he believes, politically correct or not."

Fair would meet Bush soon thereafter. The Republican lost the 1994 race and wanted to donate his leftover campaign money to organizations working in education. The United Way sent Bush to one of its member groups, the Urban League of Greater Miami, which was led by Fair. Bush telephoned, and Fair told him to come by.

Continue reading "Meet the black man who would 'run through walls' for Jeb Bush" »

'There are unjust barriers to opportunity and upward mobility in this country,' Jeb Bush will tell Urban League

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush in his address Friday to the National Urban League will talk about a “listening and learning” phase following his 1994 campaign in which he made comments that were offensive to African-Americans, play up charter schools, criticize a "losing" war on poverty and discuss his decision as governor to take down the Confederate flag.

“I know that there are unjust barriers to opportunity and upward mobility in this country. Some we can see, others are unseen but just as real,” reads Bush’s speech, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. “So many lives can come to nothing, or come to grief, when we ignore problems, or fail to meet our own responsibilities. And so many people could do so much better in life if we could come together and get even a few big things right in government. I acted on that belief as governor of Florida. It’s a record I’ll gladly compare with that of anyone else in the field.

“Just for starters, leaders know that there are plenty of tough calls we have to make, and therefore we should not be wasting time agonizing over the easy calls. So, 13 years ago, when the question was whether to keep the Confederate flag on the grounds of the Florida State Capitol, I said no, and put it in a museum where it belongs.

Continue reading "'There are unjust barriers to opportunity and upward mobility in this country,' Jeb Bush will tell Urban League" »