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January 20th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics, History & Media

President Obama’s Sixth State of the Union Address

Post-speech update: Great #SOTU speech by Pres Obama, who hit all the right notes. Six years later he’s still my guy. Optimistic, progressive. Midway thru I realized his inaugural was 6 years ago on this date, 6 days after I’d lost my job (an event I wrote about here on the third anniversary of that occasion). On the widely discussed zinger of the night, when the president noted he’d run his last campaign, the Republicans responded by mocking him, and Barack riposted that he’d won both those races—sheesh, the REPUBs are such histrionic crybabies, acting all hurt by his truthful statement. 

This past Sunday morning NPR did a reprise of Pres Obama’s past State of the Union addresses, w/special emphasis on where the economy was at each juncture, in ’09’, ’10, and ’12, a reminder to me of the nadir we’d reached at the end of the Bush presidency (800K jobs lost in the last quarter of ’08), and of the obstacles thrown in the path of the recovery ever since, including the foolish and misguided austerity imposed on the country by the REPUBS, even at a time of low interest rates, when spending on infrastructure, promoting job creation, was so clearly indicated. Amazingly, despite their unremitting obstruction, which has limited the breadth and strength of the recovery, Pres Obama has nonetheless been able to help direct the economy out of the recession to the point where business and hiring are improving markedly. It’s a remarkable record, yet so little remarked upon in the media. All this has tracked parallel to my own path from longtime corporate employment in book publishing to six years’ self-employment building my own publishing services business, an enterprise that’s gone from little activity, mired in the dismal days of ’09 and ’10, to the point where I can barely handle all the work I have.

As I wait for President Obama to give tonight’s address, I’m so thankful for his efforts and accomplishments. I only wish they were more widely appreciated. It’s a historic injustice they are not.

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September 5th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

President Obama, Strolling around Stonehenge

Glad to see our hard-working Pres enjoying one of the world’s great wonders. Not surprisingly, right-wingers, many of whom probably don’t have a passport, are criticizing him for making this stop. Such know-nothings and idiots. From the look of it, some of them think he flew deliberately to Britain, just to see the ancient site, not conceding he had already been in Wales.

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February 8th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

A Congressman’s Profile in Contempt


This congressman from Oklahoma dishonored his office by listening to constituents at a recent town hall urge violence against Pres Obama w/out denouncing them and never saying “stop” to them. This link is to a local story with the 4-minute videotape. They urged something I don’t even want to type a second time. He laughs with the audience throughout. Now it’s this federal officeholder who should be denounced. The phone number at his Tulsa office is 918-935-3222; in Washington it’s 202-225-2211.

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December 12th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

Coverage Under Obamacare for 2014–Done!

A Welcome Change in My Household

Hallelujah! Kyle and I have just completed health insurance enrollment in NYS for my family with Emblem, formerly called Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP). We will enjoy comprehensive coverage and a huge savings compared to the ridiculous premiums we’ve had to pay for the past 5 years, since I became self-employed. Kyle and I send a big thanks to Venus Emmanuel and Esther, skilled navigators at Harlem United, a fabulous social service organization! Also kudos to President Obama for spearheading this effort, despite the most absurd litany of opposition to it; to all the members of Congress who voted for the new law; and to Governor Andrew Cuomo who’s mandated facilitation and implementation of the ACA in NYS.

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June 30th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Media, Blogging, Internet

Tweets on KeystoneXL & Canada w/a Touch of Humor

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April 30th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

Oval Office Meeting of Jack Hoffman–Young Cancer Patient & Football Star–with President Obama

obama-jack-hoffman-football-nebraska-oval-office Jack Hoffman, the boy shown here meeting with President Obama, is being treated for brain cancer. The ball he’s holding had been autographed by the president and given to young Jack. He recently was befriended by the University of Nebraska football team, who in the video below is shown on the day he took the field with his player friends. He was handed the ball in a scrimmage and given a chance to run for a touchdown. I’ve watched the minute-long video twice and reached for a tissue both times. Thanks to TPM for their report on Jack this morning.

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April 13th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

Francine & David Wheeler–Good Parents Fighting for a Safer America–Give Weekly White House Address

Wheeler-funeral-300x222Readers of this blog may recall earlier posts in which I explained that in the mid-2000s I was a colleague for several years at Avalon Publishing Group with David Wheeler, whose 6-year old son Ben was a first-grade student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, one of the twenty children murdered in Newtown, CT, last Dec. 14. With heavy heart but much pride and encouragement I’ve watched over the past four months as David and his wife Francine, along with other Sandy Hook parents, have become activists for new laws that will diminish the likelihood of other similar tragedies occuring in the future. They and the other parents have met several times with President Obama and this week Francine was invited to deliver the administration’s weekly address. This would be the only time that someone other than the president or vice-president gave the weekly address. Last night NPR reported that Francine wrote the address with the help of David, and together they recorded it in the WH library.  The Wheeler’s have vowed that their son’s life and death will have import and meaning, and they are working with great dedication to ensure this. I admire them and their older son Nate, and share their grief for Ben.

This morning the White House emailed this message from President Obama, explaining why he asked the Wheelers to take his place today.
WH email To lend your voice to this effort, here’s the fact page the president mentions in his email.
Here is the White House video of Francine’s talk:

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March 18th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

102-Year Old Desiline Victor Has a Beef with Antonin Scalia

Desiline VictorDesiline Victor is the woman who President Obama saluted during his State of the Union address last month. 102 years old, the Haitian-born Florida voter had waited in lines for more than six hours to vote last November. A couple weeks ago she heard news reports that in criticising the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court may strike down, Justice Scalia had called the Act’s special provisions–which target states and locales with a history of discrimination–a “racial entitlement.” Outraged at this remark, she sent Scalia a letter that Ryan J. Reilly of Huffington Post shares with his readers today. According to Reilly,

“Victor said she was ‘shocked’ when she heard what Scalia said about the Voting Rights Act during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on a key provision of the law last month. ‘I thought you must not know what’s happening in this country,’ Victor wrote. ‘After learning more this year from the civil rights group, Advancement Project, I know that just as there were for me, there are barriers to voting for many people – especially people who are black or brown.’ Obama pointed to Victor, who waited in line for hours to vote at a polling place in Miami, as an example of why it was important to fix the nation’s broken election system.

‘I was born at a time when women were not allowed to vote in Haiti, nor the United States,” she continued. “After becoming a U.S. citizen, I was so proud to have a voice in this country. That is what inspired me to fight last year. But voting should never require such a fight. We need more make sure that all Americans can have their voices heard – we need the Voting Rights Act. Justice Scalia, the Voting Rights Act is not a racial entitlement. It is an important protection that helps all Americans exercise their right to vote. It was put in place because, sadly, there are people in this country who don’t want everyone to have an equal voice at the ballot box.'”

Victor’s full letter is pasted in below:

March 12, 2013
Dear Justice Scalia,
My name is Desiline Victor. I was born in Haiti in 1910, and I am 102 years old. After coming to the United States for a better life, today I am an American citizen and live with my family in North Miami. You might remember me from the State of the Union address last month, where President Obama told my story about how hard it was for me to vote.
When I heard what you said about the Voting Rights Act being a “racial entitlement,” I was shocked. I thought you must not know what’s happening in this country. After learning more this year from the civil rights group, Advancement Project, I know that just as there were for me, there are barriers to voting for many people – especially people who are black or brown. I also know that the Voting Rights Act is a way to protect the votes of communities that still face these problems. I would like to tell you about the struggles I faced in the last election.
During the early voting period in Florida last October, I went to my polling place early in the morning. The line was already very long, and wait times were as high as six hours. I stood for three hours before I started to get shaky on my feet, but no one could assist me unless I made it to the front of the line. In addition, there were no poll workers available who could help me in my native Kreyòl language, despite North Miami’s large Haitian community. I was told to come back later. I left. But I was determined to vote, so I tried again. On my second visit that night, I was happy when I finally cast my ballot. But I was also upset. In this great nation why should anybody have to stand in line for hours, and make two trips, to vote?
Not everybody persevered as I did. I learned later that hundreds of thousands of voters in Florida gave up and went home without voting, and that Black and Latino voters were more likely to face those shamefully long lines and wait times. One reason was a new law that cut the early voting period. Around the country, other new laws were passed that made voting harder in 2012 – but Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act blocked many of them before the election. Section 5 also helps voters in other ways. In the five counties in Florida that are covered, voting help in Spanish and Kreyòl is required because of their large Latino and Haitian populations.
I was born at a time when women were not allowed to vote in Haiti, nor the United States. After becoming a U.S. citizen, I was so proud to have a voice in this country. That is what inspired me to fight last year. But voting should never require such a fight. We need more make sure that all Americans can have their voices heard – we need the Voting Rights Act. Justice Scalia, the Voting Rights Act is not a racial entitlement. It is an important protection that helps all Americans exercise their right to vote. It was put in place because, sadly, there are people in this country who don’t want everyone to have an equal voice at the ballot box.
Equality and the right to vote are the shining lights of American democracy that drew me to these shores, and that right should not be taken away. In fact, it should be made stronger to help more voters who faced obstacles like I did.
Sincerely,
Desiline Victor