Why Did Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Skip MLK Commemoration?

Why Did Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Skip MLK Commemoration?

Why Did Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Skip MLK Commemoration? (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was M.I.A. from a commemoration for Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.

Deal “skipped town over the weekend for an economic development trip. Just where he went is being treated like a state secret,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“His office won’t disclose where the state’s top elected official journeyed or whom he visited. His public schedule is blank. His name was on the agenda for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration but he wasn’t there.”

President Obama: “Shadow of Crisis has passed, State of the Union is Strong”

President Obama:  "Shadow of Crisis has passed, State of the Union is Strong"

President Obama: “Shadow of Crisis has passed, State of the Union is Strong” (Photo Credit: RT Video Screengrab)

President Obama delivers his seventh State of the Union address and wasted no time in highlighting the falling unemployment rates, falling gas prices and the end of combat in Afghanistan. President Obama said, “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”

He unveiled a new initiative:  “I’m launching a new nationwide Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes.”

Here’s an excerpt of the SOTU speech:

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.

So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.

It begins with our economy.

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.

They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.” As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times. America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

Michelle Obama Guests at SOTU Include Watts Police Cpt. Phillip C. Tingirides

Michelle Obama Guests at SOTU Include Watts Police Cpt. Phillip C. Tingirides

Michelle Obama Guests at SOTU Include Watts Police Cpt. Phillip C. Tingirides (Photo Credit: White House/Pete Souza)

The White House released the lists of invitees who will sit in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box during the State of the Union address. The guests include:

Watts Police Captain Phillip C. Tingirides:

“Once a hotbed of crime since its eponymous race riots of 1965 and a surge of gang violence in the 1990s, the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles has seen a 50 percent reduction in violent crime in recent years.”

“That’s thanks in large part to the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) — a program that Captain Phillip C. Tingirides, a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, is spearheading. The CSP facilitates cooperation between the police department and Watts housing development residents scarred from decades of distrust — including encouraging dialogue at community meetings with police who personally engage with residents.”

Malik Bryant, Student (Chicago)

“But this past Christmas, 13-year-old Malik Bryant from Chicago wrote Santa with a very different request.”

“All I ask for is for safety,” he wrote. “I just wanna be safe.”

Malik’s neighborhood of Englewood has one of the highest rates of violent crime in Chicago. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Malik’s mother explained how he isn’t always able to leave his house and go hang out with his cousins, “because he has to cross gang lines and walk past all these gang members on some of those blocks. And all he ever hears on the news about our neighborhood is shootings, gangs and violence.”

State Senator Catherine Pugh (Marylyand)

“Senator Catherine Pugh isn’t just Maryland’s Senate Majority Leader: She’s a small business owner who knows first-hand how important it is that employers take care of their employees.”
“Senator Pugh has passed over 100 bills since being elected in 1999, and she’s been a tireless advocate on behalf of working families.”
Prophet Walker (California)
Co-founder of Watts United Weekend
“Prophet Walker was serving a six-year sentence for robbery when he made a choice to turn his life around. Walker — now 27 — began a program in his prison that provided fellow inmates with the opportunity to complete a two-year college degree.”
“After he was released, Prophet graduated with a degree from Loyola Marymount’s Engineering school, working as a construction engineer and still finding time to serve the southern California community.”
“Prophet is the co-founder of Watts United Weekend — a program that provides weekend camp retreats for hundreds of people weekly, strengthening trust between law enforcement, community members, parents, and kids from local housing projects.”
See FLOTUS’ full guest list here.

Did President Obama Really Snub France by Being a No-Show at Rally?

Did President Obama Really Snub France by Being a No-Show at Rally?

Did President Obama Really Snub France by Being a No-Show at Rally? (Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey)

Did President Obama really snub France by being a no-show at the Paris peace march in response to the terrorist attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket? The freak-out is hitting a fever pitch. I will admit, it looks bad. Really bad. Considering the French are our allies. I don’t understand why Attorney General Eric Holder chose to skip the rally even though he was in Paris? Viens mec!

Vice President Joe Biden, at the very least, should have been dispatched to Paris. He showed up for the funeral of fallen NYPD police officer Rafael Ramos, to show that the Obama administration stands with the NYPD. Why not show that the Obama Administration stands with France? I won’t go as far as to say President Obama should have gone because there could have been some real security concerns. But he could have dispatched Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry and VP Joe Biden to stand in for the U.S.

The Obama Administration opted instead to send US Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. No disrespect to Ms. Hartley, but she was an Obama campaign bundler, which isn’t akin to a high level diplomat. Collecting $800,000 in campaign donations doesn’t make her an expert on foreign affairs.

Here’s another take from Politico:

Indeed, Obama’s public reactions to the attacks in Paris last week have been muted. His initial response Wednesday to the killing of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices was delivered as he sat calmly in an armchair in the Oval Office speaking about the “cowardly” acts and defending freedom of the press. Two days later, as a gunman took hostages and went on to kill four people in a kosher grocery, Obama took a few seconds away from a community college proposal rollout in Tennessee because he said with events unfolding, “I wanted to make sure to comment on them” — but neither then nor afterward specifically condemned that attack.

[…]

Miller said he could see only two explanations for not sending the president, vice president or even first lady Michelle Obama to Paris: either that there was a deep terror threat, or that Obama might be secretly planning a larger event with NATO allies — bigger than the visit that British Prime Minister David Cameron (who was in Paris Sunday) will be making to the White House at the end of the week. But there’s no sign of such an event being organized, and Miller said there’s no reason to believe one is coming.

LOL: Michele Bachmann Takes Credit for America’s Low Gas Prices

LOL: Michele Bachmann Takes Credit for America's Low Gas Prices

LOL: Michele Bachmann Takes Credit for America’s Low Gas Prices (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann takes credit on Twitter for the low gas prices in the U.S.  The failed presidential candidate posted a photo of herself standing under a gas station sign on Friday via Twitter with the caption, “$2 gas, anyone?”

Bachmann had pledged during her failed presidential campaign to bring gas prices back under two dollars a gallon. Never mind the fact that energy analysts have said the real reason for the low gas prices in the U.S. is largely due to an increase in supply and decrease in demand.

Here’s the reaction on Twitter:

Rep. Steve Scalise “Regrets” Speaking to Group of White Supremacists

Rep. Steve Scalise "Regrets" Speaking to Group of White Supremacists

Rep. Steve Scalise “Regrets” Speaking to Group of White Supremacists

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) finally issued a statement saying he regrets speaking before group of white supremacists in 2002.  He said, “I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.”

Scalise:  “I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.” I have no doubt Steve Scalise used poor judgment when he spoke to ex-KKK grand dragon David Duke-backed group. What’s troubling is that he could use the same poor judgment in the U.S. Congress.

It’s pretty ironic that Roll Call was able to dig up a 1999 interview in which Steve Scalise said he agreed with David Duke on conservative issues. Um, so how can he make the argument that he didn’t know what EURO stood for back in 2002?

Following new revelations that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) addressed a white nationalist group founded by a former KKK leader, Roll Call resurfaced a 1999 interview in which Scalise, then a state legislator considering a congressional bid, offered his thoughts on the man who is now causing so much trouble for his career.

Scalise has acknowledged that he spoke in front of the European-American Rights and Unity Organization in 2002, though he has said this week that he “didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group.”

EURO was founded by David Duke, who is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial.” Source: Talking Points Memo

The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling on Steve Scalise to step down, saying his denials are not “believable.”

Scalise claimed yesterday that he had no idea of the views promoted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), whose workshop he addressed in 2002 at a hotel in Metairie, La. And he was backed by an array of Louisiana Republicans including state GOP chair Roger Villere Jr., who described Scalise as “a man of great integrity who embodies his Christian faith in his life.” Villere dismissed the story broken by Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. as “an attempt to score political points by slandering the character of a good man.”

But Scalise’s claim of ignorance is almost impossible to believe. He was a state representative and an aspiring national politician at the time, and EURO already was well known as a hate group led by America’s most famous white supremacist.

EURO was founded two years before Scalise agreed to speak to its conference by Louisiana resident David Duke, a media-friendly neo-Nazi and onetime grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who had made a national name for himself by running repeatedly for office. He won his first elected office in 1989, when he became a state representative, garnering local headlines across Louisiana. In 1990, he won more than 600,000 votes in an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, and in 1991, he took almost 700,000 votes in a run for governor. Newspapers around the world wrote about his ultimately losing fight against the scandal-dogged Edwin Edwards and the bumper sticker it engendered: “Vote for the crook, it’s important.”

High-ranking Republican lawmakers also issued statements on Steve Scalise:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):  “Congressman Scalise acknowledged he made a mistake and has condemned the views that organization espouses. I’ve known him as a friend for many years and I know that he does not share the beliefs of that organization.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Rep. Steve Scalise: “He has my full confidence as our Whip.”

Rep. Michael Grimm to Resign from Congress After Guilty Plea for Tax Evasion

Rep. Michael Grimm to Resign from Congress After Guilty Plea for Tax Evasion

Rep. Michael Grimm to Resign from Congress After Guilty Plea for Tax Evasion (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) will reportedly resign from Congress after guilty plea in tax evasion case. The NY Daily News reports Grimm agreed to resign after meeting with House Speaker John Boehner.

Grimm (R-S.I.) said after he entered his plea last week that he planned to continue serving in the House.

But he reversed course after speaking Monday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line on GOPers facing ethics charges.

Grimm plans to announce his resignation on Tuesday or Wednesday, sources said.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel declined to comment.

Hilarious: President Obama Wears a Tiara While Posing with Girl Scouts

Hilarious: President Obama wears a tiara

Hilarious: President Obama wears a tiara (Photo Credit: White House.gov)

Hilarious: President Obama wears a tiara in a photograph snapped by White House photographer Pete Souza.

Don’t go nuts. Here’s the explanation Souza also posted:

This is from the annual White House Science Fair. The kids from Girl Scout Troop 2612 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, convinced the President to wear a tiara with them for their group photo. The girls had exhibited a Lego flood proof bridge project.

Criminal Complaint Filed Against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney for War Crimes

Criminal Complaint Filed Against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney for War Crimes

Criminal Complaint Filed Against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney for War Crimes (Photo Credit: DoD/Cherie A. Thurlby)

Should former president George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld by tried for torture?  Democracy Now reports that a criminal complaint has been filed against “the architects of the George W. Bush administration’s torture program.”

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has accused former Bush administration officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of war crimes, and called for an immediate investigation by a German prosecutor. The move follows the release of a Senate report on CIA torture which includes the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who was captured byCIA agents in 2004 due to mistaken identity and tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan. So far, no one involved in the CIA torture program has been charged with a crime — except the whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed it. Source: Democracy Now

Sen. Rand Paul on Obama’s Cuba Policy: “Probably a Good Idea”

Sen. Rand Paul on Obama's Cuba Policy: "Probably a Good Idea"

Sen. Rand Paul on Obama’s Cuba Policy: “Probably a Good Idea”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is breaking with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) on President Obama’s Cuba policy. He said that starting trade with Cuba “is probably a good idea” and that the 50-year economic embargo against the Caribbean island “just hasn’t worked.”

“Paul said in a radio interview with Tom Roten of News Talk 800 WVHU in Huntington, WV, that many younger Cuban Americans support opening up trade with Cuba. He also said many U.S. farmers would back Obama’s moves because the country is a new market for their crops,” according to media reports.

Paul, a 2016 presidential hopeful, said the embargo “punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.” He added, “In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea.”