Beltway Insider: Obama Addresses Racial Divide; Carter Defends Snowden; SAPRO Chief in Court; Helen Thomas Dies

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President Obama remained constant in his vigil, this week, addressing issues of race, racial disparities and efforts to create a new wave of change, in the wake of the Treyvon Martin verdict.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, rose two percentage points to 48% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President remained consistent at 46%.

President Obama Addresses America’s Racial Divide

President Obama took unusual steps this past week and addressed members of the media following the unrest that has swept across the nation on his viewpoints stemming from the Trayvon Martin verdict.

Beginning with the specifics, he explained the trial was handled professionally, the outcome while not what was expected was determined under the rules established within the United States judicial system and he clarified U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is also assessing and investigating the situation to determine if civil rights charges can be lobbied.

President Obama spoke softly and passionately regarding racial disparities, and the disproportionate amount of African American men who are involved in the judicial system. Trying to explain the public reaction, predominately the African American reaction, he stated, “I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Obama spoke as a black man and as president and indicated that it could have been his son and even essentially himself “thirty-five years ago.”

Obama went on to explain the he and his staff have been brainstorming in the attempt to come up with inventive ways of dealing with the racial agitations, disparities and profiling and while not a ”five point plan but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.”

Stand Your Ground laws also came into light as President Obama changed the scenario stating, “And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”

Florida has a “stand your ground” law, as does twenty-one other states, which allows citizens the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves without the need to evade or retreat. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has broken ranks with his fellow republicans and also agreed the “stand your ground” laws, that date back to 1895 need to be review.

President Obama was clear private citizens do not have the luxury of creating law to further any agenda including those that appear to align with the Second Amendment freedoms that permit private citizens to bear arms.  Gun violence, in this situation, in the wake of the one year anniversary of the Aurora Theater shooting, and the vivid memories of Sandy Hook, remains an issue that needs serious debate and reform.

Racism isn’t simply a white Hispanic or Caucasian targeting a black male youth. Racism and offensive statements or words that have made the headlines recently are a life and lifestyle. It is also important to understand racism continues in part because of acceptance of certain behaviors when spoken or used for commercial value.

President Obama also indicated that he sees change from the way his generation and those behind him have experienced racism and the generations before him, through the eyes of his daughters and their friends, are “better than we were” on these issues.

His question to every citizen, “Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character?” This statement, according to the president, should be the filter in which all Americans check their thoughts first.

Three years to erase hundreds of years of thought, beliefs and behaviors? Nobel in his pursuits, racism, overtly, and subtly from within and from without, will prevail especially as the melting pot continues to become more diverse containing the deeply embedded generational ideas and beliefs from cultures with folklore, mores and suspicions even uncommon to the most learned Americans.

Syrian Civil War Update

The Syrian Civil War was addressed during a separate press conference. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, has reiterated the Obama Administration's Syrian policy does not include United States Military intervention or "boots on the ground."

He also indicated Assad is systematically killing his people and the White House is constantly assessing the situation. The Syrian Civil War is continuing with the efforts of the resistance which are helping bring a transition in the country with the belief that it will turn a corner toward democracy.

President Carter Defends Snowden

Former President Jimmy Carter defended the actions of Edward Snowden, the thirty year old NSA leaker, who is still hold up in a Moscow Airport waiting for his asylum requests to be granted.

Carter, who held office from 1977 – 1981, indicated when approached outside Atlantic Bridge meeting in Atlanta Georgia, “America has no functioning democracy at the moment” and went on to add the leaks were “beneficial.”

Snowden, has been off grid and silently hold up in a Moscow Airport while he applies to countries around the world for asylum. After 26 denials, it was reported that several South American countries including Venezuela have accepted his request. He has yet to leave Russia and applied for temporary political asylum last week.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) have introduced a resolution correspondence with the President to cancel the upcoming G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. They have also suggested granting the whistle blower any type of asylum will only further damage relationships between the two super powers and also suggested that the U.S. should further punish Russia by boycotting the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has indicated Snowden will be leaving the country soon.

Air Force SAPRO Chief in Court

Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, former head of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPRO), will enter a plea not guilty according to his lawyer Barry Coburn.

The charges stem from an early morning attempted assault in May. Krusinski, who held the SAPRO position only two months, was arrested on Sexual Battery charges. The Arlington, VA., prosecutors, after two months of investigation dropped the sexual battery charges and will prosecute the Air Force vet with assault. Should he be convicted the penalty is potentially the same.

Allegedly, Krusinski approached a woman in a parking lot at 12:35am and groped her breasts and buttocks. She fought back and he made a second attempt to escalate the assault.  He was arrested.

The Air Force has requested jurisdiction and if unsatisfied with the verdict can still bring charges.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has indicated the military has a zero tolerance sexual assault and harassment policy. Across the board, from Capitol Hill to every major media organization the Military is facing a firestorm of criticism surrounding the fact that little is done to prosecute sexual assault offenses and the military’s failure to respond appropriately to sexual assaults within the ranks. Reported military sexual assaults have jumped to an alarming rate over the past year, from 19,000 reported in 2011 to 26,000 in 2012.

Helen Thomas, White House Press Corps Veteran, Dies

Helen Thomas, the longest serving White House Press Corps journalist has died. She was 92.

An institution in American politics, Thomas graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1943 and promptly moved to Washington D.C. to follow her passions. She was hired as a copygirl for the Washington Daily News. After eight months with the paper, believing in unionization, she joined a strike effort and lost her job.

Her legacy both as a journalist and as a female in a predominately male industry spans almost seven decades. Thomas worked as a journalist for United Press International and quit after 57 Years, when the media agency was purchased by Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The decision to leave the agency cost her. No longer a journalist for a wire service she lost her reserved front row seat at the White House press briefings and did not get the first question honor. She moved to Hearst Newspapers and again began reporting the Washington political beat.

Thomas was both friend and foe to eleven U.S. Presidents, covering the White House from the Kennedy Administration through the second term of the Obama Administration. During the Nixon Administration Thomas was, again, the only female print journalist to travel to China with the president. 

A trail blazer for women, Thomas, in 1970 was made the chief White House correspondent by the UPI, and was the first female to hold that honor. In 1975, Thomas was the first female admitted to the Gridiron Club, the Washington Press Corps club.

Thomas rejected the idea and belief that women were expendable citizens and became the designated non-gratis leader for gender equality before the term was known or popular.

Putting her career ahead of her personal life, Thomas married later to an Associated Press colleague Douglas Cornell. He died in 1982 from Alzheimer’s disease.

Thomas’ career abruptly ended after an off handed remark made during a casual White House gathering proving our First Amendment freedoms are limited to mass protests and intimate conversations, not opinions. Of Arab decent, the fallout from her support of a Palestine homeland and critical of Israeli policy ended almost every relationship she had built over her 70 years in Washington. The fervor and uproar escalated even to the point of erasing her name from the annals of journalism schools around the country.

 

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

 

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov

 

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