September 30, 2014

Statement by the President and Attorney General Eric Holder

Editor’s Note: The below is a re-posting of “Statement by the President and Attorney General Eric Holder“. Our mission means we pay especially close attention to civil rights issues including the DOJ’s work in the such.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 25, 2014
4:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Bobby Kennedy once said, “On this generation of Americans falls the full burden of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say all men are created free and equal before the law.”

As one of the longest-serving Attorney Generals in American history, Eric Holder has borne that burden.  And over the summer, he came to me and he said he thought six years was a pretty good run — I imagine his family agrees.  Like me, Eric married up.  He and his wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, a nationally-renowned OBGYN, have been great friends to Michelle and me for years.  And I know Brooke and Maya and Buddy are excited to get their dad back for a while.

So this is bittersweet.  But with his typical dedication, Eric has agreed to stay on as Attorney General until I nominate his successor and that successor is confirmed by the Senate.  Which means he’ll have a chance to add to a proud career of public service — one that began nearly 40 years ago as a young prosecutor in the Department that he now runs. 

He was there for 12 years, taking on political corruption until President Reagan named him to the bench as a judge.  Later, President Clinton called him back.  So all told, Eric has served at the Justice Department under six Presidents of both parties — including a several-day stint as acting Attorney General at the start of George W. Bush’s first term.  And through it all, he’s shown a deep and abiding fidelity to one of our most cherished ideals as a people, and that is equal justice under the law. 

As younger men, Eric and I both studied law.  And I chose him to serve as Attorney General because he believes, as I do, that justice is not just an abstract theory.  It’s a living and breathing principle.  It’s about how our laws interact with our daily lives.  It’s about whether we can make an honest living, whether we can provide for our families; whether we feel safe in our own communities and welcomed in our own country; whether the words that the Founders set to paper 238 years ago apply to every single one of us and not just some.

That’s why I made him America’s lawyer, the people’s lawyer.  That comes with a big portfolio — from counterterrorism to civil rights, public corruption to white-collar crime.  And alongside the incredible men and women of the Justice Department -– men and women that I promise you he is proud of and will deeply miss -– Eric has done a superb job.

He’s worked side by side with our intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security to keep us safe from terrorist attacks and to counter violent extremism.  On his watch, federal courts have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terror cases, proving that the world’s finest justice system is fully capable of delivering justice for the world’s most-wanted terrorists.

He’s rooted out corruption and fought violent crime.  Under his watch, a few years ago, the FBI successfully carried out the largest mafia takedown in American history.  He’s worked closely with state and local law enforcement officers to make sure that they’ve got the resources to get the job done.  And he’s managed funds under the Recovery Act to make sure that when budgets took a hit, thousands of cops were able to stay on the beat nationwide.

He’s helped safeguard our markets from manipulation, and consumers from financial fraud.  Since 2009, the Justice Department has brought more than 60 cases against financial institutions, and won some of the largest settlements in history for practices related to the financial crisis, recovering $85 billion –- much of it returned to ordinary Americans who were badly hurt.

He’s worked passionately to make sure our criminal justice system remains the best in the world.  He knows that too many outdated policies, no matter how well-intentioned, perpetuate a destructive cycle in too many communities.  So Eric addressed unfair sentencing disparities, reworked mandatory minimums, and promoted alternatives to incarceration.  And thanks to his efforts, since I took office, the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate have gone down by about 10 percent.  That’s the first time that they’ve declined together, at the same tim, in more than 40 years. 

Eric’s proudest achievement, though, might be reinvigorating and restoring the core mission to what he calls “the conscience of the building” — and that’s the Civil Rights Division.  He has been relentless against attacks on the Voting Rights Act –- because no citizen, including our servicemembers, should have to jump through hoops to exercise their most fundamental right.  He’s challenged discriminatory state immigration laws that not only risked harassment of citizens and legal immigrants, but actually made it harder for law enforcement to do its job. 

Under his watch, the Department has brought a record number of prosecutions for human trafficking, and for hate crimes — because no one in America should be afraid to walk down the street because of the color of their skin, the love in their heart, the faith they practice, or the disabilities that they live with. 

He’s dramatically advanced the cause of justice for Native Americans, working closely with their communities.  And several years ago, he recommended that our government stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — a decision that was vindicated by the Supreme Court, and opened the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and federal benefits for same-sex couples.  It’s a pretty good track record.   

Eric’s father was an immigrant who served in the Army in World War II only to be refused service at lunch counters in the nation he defended.  But he and his wife raised their son to believe that this country’s promise was real, and that son grew up to become Attorney General of the United States.  And that’s something.  And that’s why Eric has worked so hard — not just in my administration, but for decades — to open up the promise of this country to more striving, dreaming kids like him.  To make sure those words — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — are made real for all of us.

Soon, Eric, Sharon, and their kids will be a bit freer to pursue a little more happiness of their own.  And thanks to Eric’s efforts, so will more Americans — regardless of race or religion, gender or creed, sexual orientation or disability, who will receive fair and equal treatment under the law.

So I just want to say thank you, Eric.  Thank you to the men and women of the Justice Department who work day in and out for the American people.  And we could not be more grateful for everything that you’ve done not just for me and the administration, but for our country.  (Applause.)  

ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER:  I come to this moment with very mixed emotions:  proud of what the men and women of the Department of Justice have accomplished over the last six years, and at the same time, very sad that I will not be a formal part — a formal part — of the great things that this Department and this President will accomplish over the next two.

I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity that you gave me to serve and for giving me the greatest honor of my professional life.  We have been great colleagues, but the bonds between us are much deeper than that.  In good times and in bad, in things personal and in things professional, you have been there for me.  I’m proud to call you my friend.

I’m also grateful for the support you have given me and the Department as we have made real the visions that you and I have always shared.  I often think of those early talks between us, about our belief that we might help to craft a more perfect union.  Work remains to be done, but our list of accomplishments is real.

Over the last six years, our administration — your administration — has made historic gains in realizing the principles of the founding documents and fought to protect the most sacred of American rights, the right to vote.

We have begun to realize the promise of equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters and their families.  We have begun to significantly reform our criminal justice system and reconnect those who bravely serve in law enforcement with the communities that they protect.

We have kept faith with our belief in the power of the greatest judicial system the world has ever known to fairly and effectively adjudicate any cases that are brought before it, including those that involve the security of the nation that we both love so dearly.

We have taken steps to protect the environment and make more fair the rules by which our commercial enterprises operate.  And we have held accountable those who would harm the American people — either through violent means or the misuse of economic or political power. 

I have loved the Department of Justice ever since as a young boy I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the Civil Rights Movement how the Department can and must always be a force for that which is right.  I hope that I have done honor to the faith that you have placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all those who have served before me.

I would also like to thank the Vice President, who I have known for so many years, and in whom I have found great wisdom, unwavering support, and a shared vision of what America can and should be.

I want to recognize my good friend Valerie Jarrett, whom I’ve been fortunate to work with from the beginning of what started as an improbable, idealistic effort by a young senator from Illinois, who we were both right to believe would achieve greatness.

I’ve had the opportunity to serve in your distinguished Cabinet and worked with a White House Chief of Staff — a White House staff ably led by Denis McDonough that has done much to make real the promise of our democracy.  And each of the men and women who I have come to know will be lifelong friends.

Whatever my accomplishments, they could not have been achieved without the love, support and guidance of two people who are not here with me today.  My parents, Eric and Miriam Holder, nurtured me and my accomplished brother, William, and made us believe in the value of individual effort and the greatness of this nation.

My time in public service, which now comes to an end, would not have been possible without the sacrifices too often unfair made by the best three kids a father could ask for.  Thank you, Maya.  Thank you, Brooke.  And thank you, Buddy.

And finally, I want to thank the woman who sacrificed the most and allowed me to follow my dreams.  She is the foundation of all that our family is, and the basis of all that I have become.  My wife, Sharon, is the unsung hero.  And she is my life partner.  Thank you for all that you have done.  I love you.

In the months ahead, I will leave the Department of Justice, but I will never — I will never — leave the work.  I will continue to serve and try to find ways to make our nation even more true to its founding ideals. 

I want to thank the dedicated public servants who form the backbone of the United States Department of Justice for their tireless work over the past six years, for the efforts they will continue, and for the progress that they made and that will outlast us all.

And I want to thank you all for joining me on a journey that now moves in another direction, but that will always be guided by the pursuit of justice and aimed at the North Star.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
4:41 P.M. EDT

Design Our Logo

AAAF logo

As we approach our 15th anniversary and begin to expand our visibility in the community through social media, the AAA-Fund is excited to roll out a new logo.

Not only can your logo be used by us for many years ahead but we’ll give you attribution and credits during each use, providing you with lots of visibility.

Details:

  • prize is $50 Target gift card mailed to the 1st place winner
  • submit to: comment below with your contact in the comment name and email fields & we’ll contact you with the submission procedure
  • deadline: when we like what we see
  • format: any scalar image format at least 450px wide or tall, whichever is lesser
  • if selected winner, must send us the vector-based file (any format but svg & indesign are best) to claim prize
  • should reflect our values (progressive) & mission (increase AAPI involvement in US politics)
  • should fit all usual logo guidelines – designers know the rules else see here
  • bonus: 3 versions: masthead, glyph, vertical – see Dropbox’s 3; $50 bonus for a thorough such
  • bonus: give guidelines – similar to Microsoft’s or Tumblr’s; $50 bonus for a thorough such

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-8) is Expecting

Editor’s Note: The AAAF endorsed Tammy Duckworth for her 2012 campaign.

Tammy Duckworth and her husband Bryan Bowlsbey are expecting a baby girl in early December! The Chicago Sun-Times reported the announcement yesterday as has the The Chicago-Tribune.

Congratulations to the growing family!

Asian American Action Fund endorses Mark Takai (HI-1) for US Congress

Mark Takai for US Congress, Hawaii 1st Congressional District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Asian American Action (AAA) Fund announced their endorsement of Mark Takai to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Takai has served for almost 20 years in the Hawaii State Legislature where he is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans, Military, and International Affairs, and Culture and the Arts. In the past, he has been the House Vice Speaker and Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education.

His legislative accomplishments include introducing legislation to establish Hawaii’s Dream Act and being the main architect behind legislation that recognizes the efforts of several Americans of Japanese ancestry, such as Fred Korematsu, who challenged the validity and constitutionality of wartime actions. During his time in the state legislature, he has also served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 15 years.

“Given the way he commits himself to the progressive causes he champions and his dedication to working hard for the people he represents, Mark will be a true asset to the Hawaii Congressional Delegation and the Asian Pacific American community‎,” said Deputy Executive Director Melissa Unemori Hampe.

“It is an honor to have the support of the Asian American Action Fund,” Takai said. “Team Takai and I will be working very hard through November’s General Election and, if elected, I’m looking forward to working with the Asian Pacific American community.”

AAAF logo

DC: Sept 10: AAAF Fundraiser for Mark Takai (HI-1)


Mark Takai for Congress

Please join Hawaii’s Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
to support their choice to be Hawaii’s next Congressman

Our Co-hosts
Air Line Pilots Association, Asian American Action Fund,
United Food and Commercial Workers
(committee in formation)

Mark Takai
Democratic Nominee for U.S. Congress
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
at Johnny’s Half Shell
400 North Capitol Street, N.W
Washington, DC

Suggested Contribution Levels
Individuals, $2600 or $1000 PACs $5000 or $2500

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Robert Olker at Robert@MarkTakai.com
or (808) 781-2283

Donate/buy tickets online

Or mail this form to Mark Takai for Congress, PO Box 2267, Pearl City, HI 96782

Contributions and gifts to Mark Takai for Congress are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.
Paid for and authorized by Mark Takai for Congress

Asian American Action Fund Endorses Leland Cheung for Massachusetts Lt. Governor

AAAF logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Asian American Action (AAA) Fund, a progressive political organization that is dedicated to empowering members of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community across the United States, announced their endorsement of Leland Cheung for Lt. Governor for the State of Massachusetts.

Cheung is the first AAPI candidate running for a state-wide office in Massachusetts. He currently serves as Councillor on the Cambridge City Council and as a member of Governor Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission. He was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the board of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s economic development agency.

As a long-standing advocate for issues of importance to Asian Americans in his community, Cheung has fought for increasing funding for Hepatitis B programs and for saving a Chinese immersion school. He has also led efforts to disaggregate reported statistics on the employment of minorities, women, and people with disabilities to assess diversity at all levels of employment. In his role as Councillor, he has also advocated for the removal of the “Exclusion of Chinese” in the United States Immigration Code.

“Our Board is delighted to support Leland in his historic bid. His dedication for championing issues important to his constituents, including the AAPI community, in an innovative manner highlights the type of leadership he will bring to the state level,” said AAA Fund Secretary Monisha Santamaria.

“I’m honored and humbled by the endorsement of the AAA Fund,” Cheung said. “The office of Lt. Governor needs a reboot and my goal is to make it more relevant to residents. I’ll focus on building grassroots support for issues of long-term importance – namely investments in education, infrastructure, and each other. What Asian Americans in Massachusetts need are the same things that families who have been in Massachusetts for generations need – safe streets, a great education for their kids, and career opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. I look forward to working with the AAA Fund to providing the leadership necessary to deliver solutions to those needs.”

Asian American Action Fund Endorses Clay Pell for Governor

AAAF logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 25, 2014
Contact: Devin Driscoll
devin@claypell.com
Mobile: (541) 729-6159

Contact: Gautam Dutta (AAA-Fund)
Office: (202) 236-2048

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, the Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund) announced their endorsement of Clay Pell in the Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“We were extraordinarily impressed with Clay’s depth of experience in Asia, from his knowledge of Chinese, studying in China as a young man, his extensive travel throughout the region, his time in the United States Coast Guard working with foreign military counterparts, and his work on the Asia Pacific Rebalance as a member of President Obama’s national security team,” said Bel Leong-Hong, chair-elect of the AAA-Fund’s executive board.

The AAA-Fund is a progressive political organization that is dedicated to empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the United States. Through the AAA-Fund, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) from different ethnic groups and from all over the country work together to increase the voice of the AAPI community in local, state and federal government. They do so by helping to elect AAPI and other political candidates who have a demonstrated commitment to the community, and by engaging the AAPI community in the political process.

“I’m deeply honored to have been endorsed by the AAA-Fund,” said Pell. “From an early age, and throughout my professional career, I have worked to cultivate strong ties with the Asia Pacific region. I plan to take advantage of that experience when I am Governor to ensure Rhode Island has a global audience for its economic development opportunities.”

AAA-Fund Endorses Stephanie Gray Chang for Michigan State Representative

AAAF logo

JULY 29, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Asian American Action (AAA) Fund is pleased to announce the endorsement of Stephanie Gray Chang for Michigan State Representative (MI-6).

AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta said, “We are excited to support Stephanie. Her proven ability to bring people together will make her an effective leader in the statehouse.”

Stephanie has deep experience as a community organizer, coalition builder, and advocate who attended the University of Michigan. She strengthened Asian and Pacific Islander American civic participation by co-founding APIAVote-Michigan, advanced nonpartisan voter registration and protection, and initiated a documentation project with Youth Leadership Corps.

Stephanie also defended affirmative action, mentored Hmong and Bangladeshi American youth in Osborn and Hamtramck with Detroit Asian Youth Project, and organized a coalition for a fair public defense system with Campaign for Justice.

Stephanie previously served as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the James and Grace Boggs School. She has the endorsement of outgoing State Rep. Rashida Tlaib and a host of other local organizations.

AAA-Fund Board Member Caroline Fan stated, “I’ve known Stephanie for a decade. As the daughter of immigrants, she has tirelessly worked to uplift the voices of the disenfranchised.”

After receiving the AAA-Fund’s endorsement, Stephanie tweeted, “Thank you @AAAFund for the endorsement! I am excited about this opportunity to further serve my communities. #Chang2014″

Futility of Peace

War Is Peace

I’ve blogged here since 2008 specifically about the toxic mix of religion & politics & notably how religion self-justifies personal flaws.

Today, let’s categorize Middle East crisis (now in its 2,500th year) camps:

  • Rational Historians: There’s been plenty written for centuries, especially recently, about the Mideast crisis. Most of what’s to be said has already been said.
  • Gave Up: A religious war 2500 years long with which self-justifies the mutual killing will end only when religion ends. Which is never.
  • Idealists: Let’s make peace! The endless stream of preachey & arrogant social media posts (i.e. “A Plea to Christian, Muslim and Jewish Friends“) by outsiders, especially white saviors & their kind
  • Jews: Peace is killing all the other side & taking their land.
  • Islamists: (see Jews)
  • Lawyers: Let’s defend religious expression with ethics and the rule of law. (as always, such folks are clueless & useless)
  • Killers: Busier killing the other side instead of bothering with futile social media posts like our friends’ & blogs like this.

So it goes on. And on. Until the end of time mortal. That’s not news, that’s daily life.

DC, July 21: AAAF’s Political Speednetworking Event

Editor’s Note: Join the Facebook Event at our Facebook Page.

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Asian American Action Fund * Asian American Action Group * America’s Opportunity Fund * PowerPAC+
Present
Political Speednetworking Event: Midterm Elections: Where and How Do I Help the Democratic Cause?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a political campaign, or how to become a fundraiser, campaign manager or press secretary? Do you want to know how working on a campaign can further enhance your job prospects once Election Day is over?

AND most importantly, ARE YOU READY to help Democrats win back the House and keep the Senate?

Bring your resumes, be part of the 2014 election cycle resume bank AND JOIN the Asian American Action Fund and other leading progressive groups for a very special professional speednetworking event! We know for Democrats to succeed, we need to have both candidates and campaign staff that reflect the diversity of America. Learn how you can get involved in this critical 2014 political cycle and come hear first-hand candid advice from distinguished political veterans who have been on the campaign trail and in Washington!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Raghu Devaguptapu, Principal with Adelstein Liston, first Asian American to be named Political Director of a national party committee, first at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and then at the Democratic Governor’s Association

Panelists confirmed include:

Jessica Byrd, Manager of State Strategies, EMILY’s List, former Obama for America 2008 staff

Lisa Changadveja, LGBT Americans Director/Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Director at Ready for Hillary

Joon Kim, Vice President of New Partners Consulting, New Mexico Statewide Field Director, Kerry for President 2004

Alissa Ko, Deputy Director at Ready for Hillary, Former Organizing for America Operation Vote Director – VA

Parag Mehta, Former Director of External Communications and Director of Training for the Democratic National Committee

Madalene Mielke, Principal, Arum Group, Former Director of Training and Curriculum for the Ron Brown-Paul Tully Institute for Political Action

Oscar Ramirez, Principal, Podesta Group, DNC Member and First Vice Chair, Maryland Democratic Party

Mario Salazar, Coordinated Campaign Director at Democratic Party of Virginia, Former Operation Vote Director for Obama for America – Nevada

Nina SmithPress Secretary for Governor Martin O’Malley, former publicist for TheRoot.com

Brandon Thompson, National Training Director, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

DATE/TIME: Monday, July 21
Pre-event networking: 5:30 PM, Program promptly starts at 6:15 PM

LOCATION: Hunton & Williams, LLP, 2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Foggy Bottom Metro, directions)

RSVP REQUIRED: Seating is limited, RSVP for free online