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NYC Liberal

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Hometown: New York
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Member since: Sun Aug 1, 2004, 02:28 PM
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President Obama's eulogy for his friend and advisor, Cassandra Butts

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening.

CONGREGATION: Good evening.

THE PRESIDENT: We are here to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Cassandra — a warrior for social justice, a warm and generous servant who devoted her life to bettering the lives of others, and an unbelievable friend.

I first met Cassandra in a place that tends to stoke one’s passions for social and economic justice — the financial aid line at law school. (Laughter.) We were just entering Harvard Law. We happened to be next to each other in line, I think it was in Pound Hall, and we were furiously filling out our financial aid forms. I have no doubt I was doing something wrong. She may have looked over my shoulder and said, “I think that’s wrong.” (Laughter.) And we were inching forward each time the registrar shouted, “Next!” We introduced ourselves to each other, and we bonded over the fact that we were signing our lives away to Harvard, fully aware of how long it would take us to pay off that debt that we were about to accrue.

And then we bonded over other things. We bonded over our love for jazz. We bonded over our fandom of Michael Jordan, because she was a Tar Heel and I was a Bull. We talked about our early beginnings in civic engagement, protesting apartheid — her at North Carolina and me at Occidental. And we talked about our interest in the law, why we were there — the notion that we might somehow take this knowledge that we were going to extract from this place an apply it to help those on society’s margins to improve their circumstances.

I made a lot of great friends at Harvard. Some of them are here today, like Judge Wilkins — who was older and cooler than I was at the time and still is. (Laughter.) I don’t know about older, but maybe still cooler. But Cassandra I relied on. I relied on her for counsel and for encouragement. I have a confession to make: I still possess some albums of hers. (Laughter.) I think there’s a Miles Davis album, a John Coltrane album. I’ve been listening to some of that music since she passed. In my defense, she kept one of my constitutional law books. (Laughter.) But I think I got the better end of that trade. (Laughter.)

And that was true generally with Cassandra. Those who knew her I think understood that somehow, we were getting the better end of that trade.

In law school, we’d sit around and dream about how we were going to take what we learned in those halls and we’d go change the world. And while we separated for a time after graduation — her coming to Washington, me heading back to Chicago — we stayed in touch. I kept up with her while she was working in Congress and at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. I talked to her about the work I was doing as a civil rights attorney and a professor, and I told her about Michelle and all the hopes and dreams that we had together. And in a lot of ways, she served as a moral compass for me. She was a constant, steady presence.

And when I arrived here in Washington after winning my Senate race, I was 99th in seniority. But I did have a secret weapon, and that was, I knew Cassandra. (Laughter.) So I asked her for some advice, and she, of course, went farther than that, helping me to hire a smart, dedicated team, helping me to get a conversation going with Pete Rouse, who had been the Chief of Staff for Tom Daschle and who had no reason to want to deal with somebody who was 99th in seniority. But somehow she persuaded him to take a meeting with me and, as a consequence, we were able to put together this remarkable team of people, many of whom still work with me today.

She helped me to plan what I might accomplish on behalf of the people of Illinois. And then, because I thought that she didn’t have enough to do, I’d send her early chapters of a book I was writing at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning just to see what she thought. And we’d try to have dinner at least once a month, just to keep each other grounded — mainly for her to keep me grounded, because she didn’t need help on that front.

I didn’t know then that I’d run for President just a few short years later. But when I did, I knew that I needed her help. She was one of my most valuable utility players. She was like a Swiss Army Knife — whatever you needed, you could find. Smart enough to do just about any project, thoughtful enough to help others step in, finding those who might add to our collective efforts.

She was essential in the first days of my administration. Working with Greg Craig and others, she helped to stock our Justice Department with bright, dedicated attorneys. She meticulously crafted our earliest policies so that all who work in the White House hold ourselves to the highest of ethical standards as keepers of the public trust.

In fact, my first executive orders, which she helped design, reflected both of our views that public service is a privilege; that it’s not about advancing yourself or your friends or your clients or your donors or some ideological agenda, it’s about advancing the interests of every single American. The pay freeze for senior staff, which made us very popular. The toughest lobbying ban in history. An ethics briefing on what’s required of all of us to make sure that we’re putting the people’s interests above our own — a briefing, by the way, that I was the first person to receive. Each of those policies bore her touch.

And later, as my Deputy Counsel, Cassandra helped to oversee a range of areas, among them the vetting and selection of judicial nominees. And she did that pretty good, because she got one of the finest judges to agree to undergo a difficult process and become an outstanding Supreme Court justice.

But her most lasting impact, at least in my administration, was just being who she was.

Every senior White House appointee in those first days — every single one — had to meet personally with Cassandra. Every single one. That’s how much trust I had in her, in her integrity, in her judgment, in her feel for people. She was the person I trusted to ensure that everybody we hired understood the values of this administration, and approached their jobs with the kind of professionalism and decency and integrity expected of anyone fortunate enough to serve their country at the highest level.

She knew I wanted the best and the brightest, people with the same kind of high-minded idealism that she and I had talked about late into the night all those years before in law school. What we had imagined might be possible — that politics and government could be different. That this country could be better. That justice could be served. That it wasn’t a pipe dream, that it wasn’t something in the past, that it was something that could actually be achieved.

What better person to impart that message than Cassandra. What better person to impart upon each of us the notion that there’s something bigger than ourselves, and that when you give to others, and you serve others, and you do right by others, that that’s what fills you up, that’s what makes your life count.

Cassandra was one of those rare people you never wanted to disappoint, not because she was judgmental — she, in fact, was infinitely patient and forgiving of people’s foibles. And she used that big, wonderful, deep laugh of hers to make you feel like, yeah, everybody is going to make mistakes and everybody is going to screw up. So it wasn’t because she was judgmental, it was because you felt somehow that she knew your best self — the person you couldn’t always claim to be, but the person you hoped to be. She saw that in you. And I know she made me better, and I believe she made us better.

And if you’ve spoken to anybody who knew her well over these past several days, or any of the innumerable people that she took the time to mentor, you’ll hear the same qualities that we were looking for in those early days of the administration applied to her in spades: professionalism, decency, integrity, insight, smarts, humor, and a fundamental kindness. She was a kind person. You know, it’s interesting, as you get older, it turns out kindness counts for a lot.

It’s been brought to my attention that, in her final months, Cassandra was working on a passion project –- not fine-tuning the sports cars she loved to drive — (laughter) — but, rather, funding scholarships for underprivileged high school kids who want to go to college to study the arts. And that came as no surprise. That’s the kind of thing she’d do.

As a society, we have an unfortunate tendency to celebrate the people we love only once they are gone. So it is a testament to Cassandra, to the life that she lived and shared with us, that so many people celebrated her while she was still here. I do wish I had seen her more this past year. I know she would forgive me and smile, and comfort me, and tell me not to feel too guilty — because that’s who she was.

And I’d like to close my remarks on that note, by paraphrasing something that’s stayed with me from a piece I read about her last week. It concluded by saying that Cassandra is survived by her mother, who lives in North Carolina; by her father, who lives in New York; by her sister, her brother-in-law and her nephews, who she was so proud of, who live in Maryland; and her friends, who live everywhere. Her friends who live everywhere. How true that is.

She was my friend. She was as true a person as I ever met. I loved her dearly, and I will miss her badly.

We pray that the Lord grants our sister, Cassandra, eternal peace. May He bless her memory. May he bless her family, and the lives of everyone that she touched.


http://time.com/4360811/barack-obama-eulogy-cassandra-butts/



HRC Group: So Hillary was asked to sign a Bernie button...



https://twitter.com/danmericaCNN/status/732219383930597377

HRC Group: VIDEO - Sanders gets confronted on his Super Delegate hypocrisy

https://www.facebook.com/teddy.romano.334/videos/1746005739011472/

Bernie devolves into word salad trying to explain his position that Super Delegates are bad...but that they should also vote for him!

HRC Group: GODDAMN! Anne Rice is OVER Bernie!

She endorsed Bernie last fall.

And here is her post on Facebook tonight: https://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/10154192945345452

Anne here: congratulations to Hillary on winning Connecticut, as well as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Time to unite the party behind Hillary. And boy, judging from some of the bitter, sour, divisive and politically suicidal comments by some Bernie supporters here, I hope Bernie does some straight talking to his people. And the sooner the better. Bernie has been a great champion for his causes. He has made history. So let's not see the Democrats divided in the general because of Bernie. That would be a poor legacy for an admirable man who deserves a chance to continue his crusade under a Hillary Clinton Democratic Presidency.


and here are a few choice comments she made in response to other comments on her post...

Anne Rice maybe he should have run as an independent in the first place. Looks like he's used the Democratic Party for his purposes. I'm frankly deeply disgusted with his followers, and their nastiness. I wish I'd never given the guy a nickel, or a dime, or a penny, or a quarter. What a sorry mess.

Anne Rice I'm very sorry I ever contributed a nickel to Bernie's campaign. I had no idea his followers would become obstructionist and go to the depths they have with the politics of personal destruction. They're worse than Republicans.

Anne Rice I disagree. Bernie ran as a Democrat when it suited him. Now it's time for him to man up as a Democrat and support the party he has used throughout his campaign. It's time for him to heal the wounds that he has inflicted. It's time for him to talk some sense into his followers.

Anne Rice Is he the better candidate? Is there the slightest indication anywhere in his record that he would an effective president? I admire the man and his crusade, but look at what is happening. His legacy is going to be more polarization, more obstruction and more politics of personal destruction. Just look at the comments by his followers on this page alone.

Anne Rice Your candidate used the Democratic party for his own purposes, didn't he? He ran as a Democrat when it suited him. And so now what? He ends up being a force for polarization, for more obstruction, for more of the cheap politics of personal destruction? What a sorry story. What an ugly shabby end to a history making campaign that could mean so much more.

Anne Rice Bernie has played the politics of personal destruction as skillfully as the Republicans, it seems. He rose in on a white horse claiming purity and high ideals and now his followers want to hand the White House to Trump. Was a sad end to a history making crusade. I'm sorry I ever donated a penny to the guy.

Anne Rice Why? Why would anyone care about her speeches? I don't care. What I care about are her principles and how they play out in her votes, in what she achieves. Hillary Clinton didn't invent Wall Street. She didn't invent the Party System. She didn't invent rich donors. She is a woman of high principles and consistent dedication to public service. Bernie's followers are treating her as if she invented the two party system! It is just more of the Republican vilification with even more intensity.

Cuomo Bans Non-Essential State Travel to North Carolina

Source: governor.ny.gov

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. The order requires all New York State agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina, and bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, follows North Carolina’s enactment of a law which bars transgender individuals from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from state anti-discrimination protections, and prohibits municipalities from extending those protections to LGBT citizens.

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the eyes of the law,” said Governor Cuomo. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.”

Read more: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-bans-non-essential-state-travel-north-carolina

Obama left a moving comment on a 'Humans of New York' photo from Iran

A recent photograph of an Iranian father and his young son posted to the popular "Humans of New York" Facebook page caught the attention of US President Barack Obama.

And on Thursday, Obama — who is presiding over the biggest thaw in US-Iranian relations in decades — left a comment on the post, saying it "really resonated" with him.

In the original post, the Iranian father wrote about how he knew he was "raising a humanitarian" when he realized his then-5-year-old son had given away 2 pounds of fresh apricots on their walk home.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-comment-on-humans-of-new-york-photo-2015-9#ixzz3kk0pnrqV



Today’s his tenth birthday. He’s a very emotional young man. He likes to solve other people’s problems. One time when he was five years old, he came with me to the store and we bought two pounds of fresh apricots. I let him carry the bag home. He walked a little bit behind me the entire way. After awhile, I asked him to hand me an apricot. ‘I can’t,’ he said. ‘I’ve given them all away.’ I knew then that I was raising a humanitarian.



What an inspirational story. One of the most fulfilling things that can happen to you as a parent is to see the values you’ve worked to instill in your kids start to manifest themselves in their actions – and this one really resonated with me. I hope this young man never loses his desire to help others. And I’m going to continue doing whatever I can to make this world a place where he and every young person like him can live up to their full potential. (And if I ever get to meet him, I hope he’ll save me an apricot!)

**HRC Group** 100,000 people have attended Bernie Sanders events this month. That doesn’t mean much.

From the Washington Post:

Let's say the Republican field more closely mirrored the Democrats. Imagine there were two Republicans running for president, Jeb Bush and Not Jeb Bush, where Not Jeb Bush did a better job appealing to the outer boundary of the party. Do you think that Not Jeb Bush couldn't roll up 20,000 people at a campaign stop in, say, Houston?

This is the point at which the question invariably turns to the contrast between Clinton and Sanders. Clinton isn't drawing these crowds, the argument goes. Sanders is capturing the energy. Both of which are true points. Sanders, as the underdog and the newcomer, has an energy that Clinton doesn't. She is not drawing the same crowds.

Part of this, though, is a conscious decision. Sanders, coming from the back of the pack, has to show that he's a legit candidate. He needs to be chuffed up. He needs to look big. Clinton has been trying to do the opposite. Her campaign launch was a Sunday e-mail followed by a road trip to Iowa. She's doing her best not to look like a behemoth. Her unofficial launch, on Roosevelt Island, was a neatly tailored group of a few thousand, packed into a space meant to display an audience that size for the cameras.

Could Clinton fill an arena in Los Angeles if she wanted to? Of course she could. Unquestionably. If you think Hillary Clinton can't do basic body mobilization when she needs to, you haven't been paying attention to American politics for the past few decades. There are unions in Los Angeles that can fill a stadium on a week's notice. This is not as big a task as it looks.


Anyone who thinks Hillary doesn't know exactly what she's doing vis-à-vis her campaign is severely underestimating her. She's been in politics for decades. She's already run a massive national campaign, and she's been planning this for years.

Anti-gay moral crusader gets SHUT DOWN

From the comments section on this article. Probably one of the best responses I've seen to the "government has to indulge my bigotry because RELIGION!" nonsense.

Anthony McLin Emilianne Hackett • 2 hours ago
As a Catholic, the intolerance portrayed in this video is embarrassing and is exactly why we are deservedly called names and mocked. Even if you consider someone else's lifestyle to be sinful, it is *absolutely not* your right or moral responsibility to denigrate them or judge their life. Their fight for recognition does not come at the expense of your morals, and their successes at getting recognition is not oppression of your views. This is not a zero-sum game and that takes some very twisted logic to defend. Acknowledging and taking some responsibility for the current state of things is not oppression against your moral values. Pretending at victimhood just negates any of the good work done towards setting moral examples.

Joe P Anthony McLin • 2 hours ago
As a Catholic, you're called to use your conscience, which includes making judgments about the morality of actions people are taking. This is not only a suggestion for Catholics - but a requirement. You are right that this is all about recognition for them - recognition for their sinful actions as being not sinful. As a Catholic, you should refuse to recognize them as such. It is oppression of my views, because the government that governs over me now supports non-reality, which will always have bad consequences for those who are still holding onto reality.

Anthony McLin Joe P • an hour ago
No, as a Catholic you're called to use your conscience, which includes making judgments about the morality OF YOUR OWN ACTIONS. We have absolutely no basis to make judgements on others (pretty sure there's a some very clear verses on that, something about a log and a splinter in your eye, or judge not lest ye be judged, or casting stones...). We are called to self-evaluate and to set an example by our actions.

The government does not define sin. The government defines what is and isn't legal under the areas where the government operates. The government is not forcing you to recognize sin as non-sin. Just because something is legal does not suddenly make it not a sin, and that's OK. Sin is explicitly the things not permitted by your religion. As a Catholic you hold yourself to a narrower set of moral guidelines than the wider array of things that are considered legal. That does not give you the right to impose your morals or restrict legality to match your narrow set of permissible behaviors.

Eating meat on a Friday during Lent is a sin. The government doesn't care what you eat on Friday. What possible logic explains that the government should prohibit the consumption of meat on Fridays. It is a sin for a Jew to work on the Sabbath. Should the government shut down all businesses on Saturday? Because that's the same logic. Just because I equate some action as a sin, does not give me the right (religiously as a Catholic nor politically as an American) to restrict others from that action.

Gambling is a sin, drinking to excess is a sin (some believe any alcohol is a sin), taking drugs is a sin, etc. Even within Catholicism it is the individual's decision to sin out of free will. You do not have the mandate to prevent them from ever being able to make that choice for themselves.

You do not live a country governed by Catholic law, just like we're glad that this country is not governed by Sharia law. Instead we live in a country where people of all religions, races, and genders are equal in the eyes of the law. This means that the country's laws must be *more* open and encompassing than any particular group's internal moral guidelines.

Lashing out and denigrating others because they are sinners and their communal values do not reflect your own is exactly opposite to the teachings of Christ and the Church. Yes, you should stand up. Yes, you should speak your faith. But *how* you do that is more important than the act itself. Reaching out to someone and having an adult discussion where you respect the other person for their humanity will go much farther than condemning them as a sinner ever will. Starting from a position of self-righteousness will never make for successful dialogue.

Next time you're in a soup kitchen, ask yourself this: "Will I help them more by serving food, or by telling at them that they are sinners?" Because that's exactly the same thing you are doing when you fight to impose your moral views in law.

As a Catholic I recognize that not everyone shares my morals. Not everyone adheres to the same religious principles as I. My morals are not synonymous with societies. That may be hard for me when things differ, but that's part of my cross to bear, not society's. Externalizing it and blaming society is a cop-out and an avoidance to make the difficult changes necessary in your own life.

If you feel indignant because of the action of others, then what does that say about your faith in yourself?

Take corrective action in *yourself* and set an example by your own life and actions. Stop worrying about whether others might be sinning or not.

"Equal Dignity": Tomorrow's NY Times front page

HRC Room: Clinton vs Sanders, as explained by Calvin & Hobbes

To me, this sums up the debate on DU thus far:

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