Beltway Insider: Obama Farewell; Trump; France/African; London Tube Strike; Dylann Roof/Steven McDonald; Guns/Abstinence

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President Barack Obama went home to Chicago, this week, to deliver his final State of the Union speech to a city and nation that while divisions remain are profoundly changed by his dedication, courage, and leadership.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, decreased by three percentage points to 57% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased three percentage points to 39%. 

Obama Bids Farewell In Final Speech

President Obama returned to the city that gave him a foothold in American Politics, to a place where a young, and unashamedly political dreamer took to the stage after the election result moved him and his young family to Washington, D.C becoming the first African American President.

Eight years later, President Obama has brought a vision to the world that many lack, it is the vision of a unified and equal opportunity society.  He walked into a deflated and flatlined economy, a global unemployment that reached into double digits, jobs were disappearing faster than at any time in history.

News reports were filled with foreclosures, disappearing 401K's, retirements plans taking deep hits, employment sectors vanishing, every sector and section of America was groaning under a collapsing economy.

It wasn't overnight, President-elect Obama didn't wave a magic wand when he took his oath of office and all the ills disappeared. The first four years were spent of stabilizing the long road to recovery. Stopping the hemorrhage. Jobs grew slightly and unemployment cemented at 8.0% for forty straight months.

By the it was time four years had come and gone and they barely had a moment to fix the financial collapse steady the ship and prepare to implement the plans of the future when the voters decided he wasn't finished and gave him a second term.

President Obama, now an experienced leader took to the challenges of the global stage, building a coalition to deal with the insidious threat of ISIS, of which still exists. The presidency is an all-consuming job, the good and the bad rarely balance out, what good he has done will be remembered, the bad will be repeatedly pointed out.

His foreign policy failures are real and while the President of the United States meets regularly with a team the fact remains that some areas of foreign policy became glaring while those that progressed smoothly fall to the wayside.

Syria has remained the thorn in the President's side throughout his second term and should have been handled swiftly when the window and the world had been open to a more effective end. Those times have long past. He is now the problem of another.

The missteps that appeared to give permission to terrorism through a failure not to stand with the leaders of forty other nations and march, unified, in Paris. The world and American hold him responsible for missing that day.

President Obama took his second term with all its ills and charged through creating global coalitions and global policies.

The Paris Climate Summit, a hard fought and hard won victory. In his own words, which speak to this point and the concerning points of the new administration, "Take the challenge of climate change.  In just eight years, we've halved our dependence on foreign oil; we've doubled our renewable energy; we've led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet.  But without bolder action, our children won't have time to debate the existence of climate change.  They'll be busy dealing with its effects: more environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary."

President Obama took a job when the company was facing default, he stepped into the Oval Office during the worst recession since the Great Depression. He picked the nation up, dusted us off, created policies that were meant to help us help ourselves. He gave us the tools to build our own boats to recovery. Taking those opportunities and maximizing his best efforts moved not only the United States, forward, but also the world stage, the economies of the world stabilized and slowly began to move forward again.

He concluded his speech:

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you.  I won't stop.  In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days.  But for now, whether you are young or whether you're young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President -- the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.  I'm asking you to believe.  Not in my ability to bring about change -- but in yours.

 

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:  Yes, we can." President Barack Obama

 

Beltway Insider: Guns and The American People; Global Gun Violence; Sandy Hook, Charlie Hebdo; Club Renia, Pulse Nightclub; Chicago

Trump Tactics Remain Hardline

President Elect Donald J. Trump has continued to inform the public of his immediate plans the first and primary goal of the Trump Administration is to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Via Twitter Trump has announced, "The "'Unaffordable"' Care Act will soon be history!"

He has further stated "On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare."

"Any reform effort must begin with Congress. Since Obamacare became law, conservative Republicans have been offering reforms that can be delivered individually or as part of more comprehensive reform efforts. In the remaining sections of this policy paper, several reforms will be offered that should be considered by Congress so that on the first day of the Trump Administration, we can start the process of restoring faith in government and economic liberty to the people," President-elect Donald J. Trump states in Healthcare Reform to make America Great Again.

President-elect Donald Trump Inauguration – January 20

Donald Trump has been giving the world a glimpse of his upcoming political style, Public shaming, hard-line and quick decisive jabs, against anyone who has a different opinion or challenges the authenticity of his election win all via twitter.

With the Inaugural Day quickly approaching, it is comforting to know that time will continue to move quickly forward with not enough hours in the day to hold all the mandates the new team wishes to carve into law.

January 19, Thursday, Trump and VP-Elect Pence will lay a wreath at Arlington Nation Cemetery. The Pre-Inaugural Day festivities will continue with a Welcome celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Inauguration begins Friday January 20, 2017 at 9:30am Eastern, 6:30PST at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump Twitter Rant Attacks Meryl Streep, Rep. John Lewis

Meryl Streep, the most lauded and respected talents in the entertainment industry by her collegians and fans, was awarded a Cecile B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

During her acceptance speech, she spoke out against the President elect and his "Instinct to humiliate when it is modeled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone's life because it gives permission for others to do the same. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."  

His response, using his favored messaging platform and style, twitter and public shaming, said: "Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 10th time, I never "mocked: a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him "groveling when he totally changed a 16 year-old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more dishonest media!

Representative John Lewis

Civil Rights Leader U.S. Representative Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) spoke to the media and voice his opinion on President Elect Trump saying he didn't consider him a "legitimate President."

Lewis, a civil rights icon, grew up working for freedom from oppression. As a leader in the SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, a group of Whites and Blacks who were determined to ride an integrated bus, through deeply segregated states. They didn't make it, the first time. The bus was attacked by KKK and burned. An angry and ignorant mob followed by the police, beat the thirteen freedom riders. Lewis was on the front lines of freedom where he has remained throughout his years of service.

President Elect Trump again took to public shaming those who speak an opinion different than his and stated via twitter, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

France/African Summit

At least thirty head of states from African nations have gathered in the Malian Capital, Bamako, along with French President François Hollande and his top cabinet officials for the 27th France-African Summit.

It has been four years since the two nations meet and the escalation of terror threat, both known an unknown, those clear on the radar and those attempting to fly underneath the radar are on both nation's agenda.

The wave of immigration and national security are also areas on concern between the two nations, infrastructure, self-sufficiency, military assistance and pledges of financial assistance to aid poverty related issues including medical care, housing, and AIDS.

This is probably the last trip Hollande will make to Mali or any of the African nations as he prepares to stepdown as the President of France in four months.

London Tube Strike Cripples Commuters

London's Underground [The Tube/Subway] is facing decisive action in upcoming weeks and months, from the Rail Maritime & Transport Workers Union, RMT, unless London Underground management addresses the gaps in Tube station staffing and safety.

London Commuters faced gridlocked streets, closed Tube stations, overloaded buses, light rail and commuter train shortages, as RMT workers virtually brought the Underground to a screeching halt this past week in an effort to spotlight what they believe is "a crisis on our tube stations."

As in any major metropolitan area the London's RMT workers are forced to manage an ever-growing ridership with less manpower with increasing concerns over station staffing and safety.

Since early 2016, after nearly 1000 workers were cut along with closing tube ticket offices, the remaining RMT workers had to pick up the slack of the axed workers leaving some stations understaffed. Safety concerns, like every metropolitan area in the world, where public transportation is used, convenient and encouraged, have become increasing points of contention with several recent incidents.

The RMT union have voted 85% for strike action and 94% for action short of a strike. RMT management have used the on-again/off-again strategy to highlight the needs and bring management to the table with serious proposals. The Union is also demanding guards be placed on trains

Other Transportation systems through London and the U.K. including British Airways are using the RMT Strike to join in solidarity preparing for full closures and complete walk-outs.

So, what does this really mean for the millions of commuters who daily use The Underground, Southern Rail, and British Airways?

"More strikes are looming across a range of British transport services, with fresh action announced on British Airways and Southern rail, and an ultimatum issued for another tube strike next month. Cabin crew from British Airways "mixed fleet" branch at Heathrow will strike again for three consecutive days over pay, while conductors on Southern will walk out for 24 hours on Monday 23 January, just ahead of three more days of strikes by drivers that will completely halt its trains. The RMT has said it will escalate action on the London Underground in February if its demands are not met," as reported in The Guardian.com

Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death in Church Shooting

Dylann Roof, the self-confessed white supremacists, has been sentenced to death for the murder of eight African American Parishioners inside the AME Church in Charleston South Carolina after spending a hour with the pastor and his prayer team.

Roof, who won the right to defend himself in the trial, was found guilty and for the murders at point-blank range of nine people including senior pastor and state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. In December he was found guilty in Federal Court of 33 hate crime charges and sentenced to death for those crimes. He is also awaiting trial in South Carolina State Court for nine counts of murder, three count of attempted murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

In his statement to the court roof remained unrepentant and only apologized to his parents.

Detective Steven McDonald, NYPD Hero, Dies of Massive Heart Attack

The New York Police Department laid to rest Detective Steven McDonald, a thirty-year veteran of the force, who died this week of a massive heart attack.

McDonald, who most New Yorker's know of is a third generation police officer,  a rookie cop, in 1986 when he was questioning a teenage thug. McDonald noticed something and took his eyes off the suspect. In seconds, he was shot three times by 15-year-old Shavod Jones. Jones served nine years in prison for the shooting. Three days after his release on September 9, 1995 he was killed in a motorcycle accident.

McDonald made headlines around the world as he became a symbol of determination, grit, pure guts, and forgiveness. His injuries were permanent and yet only months after the shooting he stated he had forgiven the shooter. He returned to work, paralyzed, unable to breathe without the use of a ventilator, and for the next thirty years would remain with the force and rising through the ranks, even with his disabilities that he would not allow them to stop him, he made detective.

At his funeral, this past week, his son, Conor, not yet born when his father at the time of the shooting now following in his father's footsteps, an NYPD officer said, "He was my hero."

Patricia McDonald, Steven's widow, a newlywed thirty years ago and pregnant, became the pillar of strength and was elected mayor of Malverne L.I. in March 2007.  

McDonald was remembered and mourned by thousands who lined Fifth Avenue, beginning St. Patrick's Cathedral, for blocks stopping traffic as officers from around the country stood beside the sea of NYPD officers, and celebrities, New York Rangers sport stars, and citizens who stopped to pay tribute a fallen hero.

McDonald became a symbol of forgiveness and I would say divine retribution.

Guns and The Abstinence Argument

The Center for Disease Control classifies violence, globally, at epidemic levels with no vaccine or research dollars available to initiate testing to centralize the infectious agent and no high-profile interest to create Public Service Announcements pleading for awareness and education.

No community centric public relations campaign directed at high risk communities, inner city Chicago, metropolitan areas where gang turf is a blurred line for most and defined inside the hood. The plea written with the blood of each child and innocent bystander that is killed by a stray bullet, of each mass shooting, with every tear of every family member, every friend, every person who ever knew any person murdered by senseless gun violence is the same: Stop the violence.

Pastors and community leaders plead with their parishioners to lay down the gun, police reach out to communities with no questions asked gun drop offs and with daily reports of gun violence, with the reminders in the cities most effected as men who once walk now push themselves in wheelchairs, the plea of laying down the guns is as effective as preaching abstinence.

The Abstinence argument, of course, well known and often laughed at, as celibacy, self-denial, not engaging in sex for teens which has been the central theme when parents, and other adult role models attempt to persuade teens who think that engaging in sex makes them adults.

So now we, as society are asking teens who hold the gun for several reasons, to deny themselves this path, this course in life, without offering any other options. We are preaching violence abstinence to the inner-city teens who are poverty stricken, who understand the war the streets, without offering them a life raft, a way out.

We preach violence abstinence to the zealot who through religious indoctrination, which is nearly identical to the inner-city gangs, the Crips, The Bloods, and the countless others from every nation, and every ethnicity, picks up a gun and with a kamikaze mindset walks into a nightclub determined. 

Those looking in, myself included, are not able to judge to call out the carriers. My concern is the mass violence, the epidemic that spreads to every aspect of society. I don't have an answer, a replacement for denying oneself the power of the gun, or the belief that the religious choice will honor the sacrifice.

I do know that violence begets violence. To kill by the sword is to die by the sword. Does it matter, to a pre-teen in Chicago south side who answers when asked what she wants to be when she grows up and she says simply "alive." To me, it means something.

For more information on President Barack Obama: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com,

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