October 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

AAA Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary for HUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2014

AAA-Fund Congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her Confirmation as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Washington, D.C. — The Asian American Action Fund congratulates Erika Moritsugu on her confirmation as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing an Urban Development.

Ms. Moritsugu has previously served as Executive Director and on the Advisory Board of the AAA-Fund, a Democratic political action committee. Directly prior to her appointment, she was Deputy Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Earlier, Ms. Moritsugu was the Deputy Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, and Acting Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

“On behalf of our Board, we heartily congratulate Erika,” said AAA-Fund Executive Director Gautam Dutta. “We salute her leadership and commitment to public service,” he added.

Ms. Moritsugu received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in Government and Fine Arts and a J.D. with honors from the George Washington University Law School. She was raised in Hawai’i.

AAA-Fund Deputy Executive Director Melissa Hampe stated, “I look forward to Erika continuing to serve with distinction. From her time at the city prosecutor’s office in Honolulu, to her Senate and other high-level federal service, to now, she has been a talented leader in policy development. We are thrilled to see someone with her depth of experience and expertise leading one of our nation’s most vital agencies and working to improve access to housing for all Americans.”

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–Caroline

CAPAC Chair on Resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

Editor’s Note: The below is a reposting of “CAPAC Chair on Resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki” from our friends at CAPAC (Facebook, Twitter).

May 30, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Obama accepted the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), released the following statement:

“Secretary Eric Shinseki served our country in many capacities – as an officer in the Army, a General, and a distinguished public servant,” said Chairwoman Chu. “A wounded veteran and four-star general, he dedicated his career to safeguarding our nation and ensuring the well-being of our men and women in uniform.”

“Moving forward, we must return our attention to the problem at hand, which is to ensure that our promise as a nation is kept to each and every veteran. The VA faces grave and systemic problems, and we must assess them and provide the solutions our veterans need and deserve.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

Feb 20: National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout

Editor’s Note: Below is a reposting of “National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout: February 20“. We’ve also Re-tweeted a lot about this event! Re-tweet with us.

Please join the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), as well as government, civic and business leaders from across the country on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 3 PM ET for our National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout!

Building on key topics highlighted in President Obama’s State of the Union address, we’ll discuss national priorities for AAPI communities and launch a drive to engage the AAPI community. We’ll also announce new efforts we’re working on with our partners around critical issues facing the AAPI community.

White House and Administration officials will talk about what we’ve learned and done nationally, and our next steps. Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, will announce this year’s AAPI Heritage Month theme. And, most importantly, we’ll have an opportunity to hear from people like you.

You can submit questions anytime on Twitter using #WHIAAPI, email them to WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov, or submit them on Google+ before or during the Hangout, but the inaugural National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout depends on your thoughtful participation, so please sign-up and join the conversation.

NATIONAL AAPI COMMUNITY GOOGLE+ HANGOUT

Hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

DATE:      Thursday, February 20, 2014
TIME:      3 p.m. ET (12 noon PT)
LINK:      http://bit.ly/AAPIGoogleHangout

Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


Editor’s Note: Below is more about this special & important event from our friends at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” Note that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and WH AAPI Initiative director Kiran Ahuja will deliver remarks and talk with students at the East Coast Asian American Student Union’s (ECAASU) 2014 Conference in Washington on Friday discussing several of the points below while encouraging students to pursue mission-oriented work.

White House Initiative
on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
THURSDAY, FEB. 20, 2014
CONTACT: Rebecca Lee at 202-245-6353 or rebecca.lee@ed.gov

WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS TO EXPAND ON PROGRESS MADE

Federal Officials Announce New Efforts to Expand Opportunities for AAPIs on Community Google+ Hangout

WASHINGTON – Building on themes outlined in President Obama‘s State of the Union address to Congress last month, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Kiran Ahuja today announced new plans to expand opportunities at the national level and increase community engagement at the local level.

Joined by federal officials and community members across the country on a Google+ Hangout held today, Ahuja outlined key elements of a regional strategy designed to build upon the Initiative’s success over the past four years improving access to services and protections for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country.

Officials on the Hangout also highlighted activities the Initiative is taking, including a comprehensive report on what federal agencies have accomplished to increase access for AAPIs, the launch of a campaign to raise awareness of Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), a call for proposals to leverage the skills and talents of people across the country with the Initiative, and the official theme of this year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May.

Ahuja said the Initiative is providing the building blocks toward accessible education, affordable health care, and secure retirements for all. And that they are building on what they’ve learned and done nationally and offering new ideas to meet the demands of the nation’s fastest growing demographic.

“A better America is possible, one with policies that strengthen us and a government that serves all of us, including the AAPI community” said Ahuja. “We’re reinforcing relationships, forging coalitions, bolstering institutions and the capacity of community based organizations in order to ensure the federal government better serves us all.”

Regional Working Groups

On the Hangout, Ahuja said regional interagency working groups of officials representing more than 20 federal agencies and sub-agencies have been formed and trained to work with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Regional working groups in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already hit the ground running. In the last few months, they heard directly from community members about their challenges and have started to demystify the work of the federal government and its programs and services and create new partnerships with community leaders.

Federal Agency Feedback

On the Hangout, officials released a comprehensive plan and report of what each federal agency will do and has done to improve and expand access of AAPIs to resources this year. The policies represent the federal government’s commitment to increasing access to services for the AAPI community, with an emphasis on four priority areas: data disaggregation, language access, workforce diversity and capacity building.

To solicit feedback on the plans, the Initiative launched an interactive module where the public can “like” specific aspects of each plan and make comments about particular activities.. The feedback module will be open until March 31, 2014 and can be found on aapi.ideascale.com.

Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions

To meet President Obama’s goal of having America produce the highest proportion of college graduates in the world once again by the year 2020, actor Maulik Pancholy said on the Hangout that there should be a focus on underserved students in the nation’s fastest growing demographic, many of whom also have the lowest rates of college attainment.

Pancholy announced the Initiative’s #AANAPISIstory campaign on the Hangout, which seeks to raise awareness about Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), the educational institutions that provide culturally relevant services and have high AAPI populations, to help meet President’s Obama’s 2020 goal.

Using #AANAPISIstory on social media platforms, the Initiative will collect stories in the form of photos, videos and writing about what AANAPISIs mean to members of the AAPI community. To share a story and learn more about AANAPISIs, please visit bit.ly/AANAPISI.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

During the Hangout, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center director Konrad Ng announced its theme for this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May: “I Am Beyond.”

“This year’s theme captures how AAPIs have met challenges and excelled beyond them in shaping the nation,” said Ng. ” ‘I am Beyond’ recognizes the depth, breadth and richness of America’s Asian Pacific heritage.”

Ng said the Center is inviting organizations, individuals and communities across the country to join the commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and share their interpretation of the theme over social media using #IAMBEYOND. Visit www.apa.si.edu soon for more information. Expressions can include, but are not limited to, visual art, literary work, or multimedia. The theme aims to enrich the appreciation of the Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the American story.

About the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

On October 14, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Executive Order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative). The Initiative, chaired by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, is housed within the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs where they remain underserved.

The Initiative seeks to highlight both the tremendous unmet needs in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as well as the dynamic community assets that can be leveraged to meet many of those needs. The Initiative focuses on crosscutting priority areas that may reach across all issue areas and agencies, including, for example, advancing research, data collection, analysis and dissemination for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and ensuring access, especially linguistic access and cultural competence, for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and encouraging Asian American and Pacific Islander involvement in public service and civic engagement opportunities.

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**NOTE: To learn more about the Initiative, visit www.whitehouse.gov/aapi. A recording of the Google+ Hangout can be accessed at bit.ly/AAPIGoogleHangout.**

Obama Nominates Christopher P. Lu for Department of Labor Deputy Secretary

Editor’s Note: The below is a highlight of “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts“. Chris is a former White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders co-chair, an organization we often publicize and support.

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Christopher P. Lu, Nominee for Deputy Secretary, Department of Labor

Christopher P. Lu is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and in 2013, he was also a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. From 2009 to 2013, Mr. Lu served in the White House as Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. Previously, in 2008, he served as Executive Director of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Lu served as Legislative Director and then as Acting Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Barack Obama. From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Lu was Deputy Chief Counsel of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Minority Staff). He began his career as a law clerk to Judge Robert E. Cowen on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and as an attorney at Sidley Austin. Mr. Lu was Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 2011 to 2013. He received an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Dictionary: Shutdown

After watching this video of a Republican belitting a Parks official for turning people away …

… what could I possibly say that hasn’t already been written about this past week? Too many angles, all covered, lies included, so as inspired by this biting comment on that video, I bring back another dictionary (last time, it was about healthcare):

what extremist conservatives do what extremist Christians do
ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal ignores any reason, debate, reconciliation to advance the goal
take everything personally add personal attacks
burn the earth to get what you need burn the earth because God’s all that counts
use hate, meanness, anger to get what you need never denounce haters who wave the flag of Jesus
ignore criticism, stick to your guns ignore criticism, stick to your Bible
rest of the world doesn’t matter, only one’s own agenda rest of the world doesn’t matter, only those one can convert
absolutely non-negotiable and proud of it
greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen party greed & selfishness self-justified by one’s chosen Christian sect

Get it?

Anyone wonder what’s so wrong about the system? An uninvolved electorate that’s so fragmented that it can only parrot one’s self-selected media intake? You elect idiots, you get parody of it could suffice anymore and even that will be still closer to the truth.

Political Appointments 101: Opportunities in the Obama Administration

AAAF logo

Asian American Action Fund
Presents:

Political Appointments 101: Opportunities in the Obama Administration

Asian Pacific Americans voted overwhelmingly for President Obama with a decisive 73% for his re-election in 2012. In order to have a successful second term, we need a government that represents the full diversity of America. The Asian American Action Fund invites you to a professional development panel to learn about opportunities for serving as a Presidential political appointee or on Presidential-appointed Boards and Commissions. Come and hear first-hand from the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and a panel of distinguished public servants of varying professional levels of experience about their service in the current Administration.

NOTE: This event is off the record and should not be recorded.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Kamala Vasagam, Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel
  • Paul Igasaki, Chair and Chief Judge of the Administrative Review Board, Department of Lab
  • Rajan Trivedi, Special Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Francey Youngberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement, HUD
    Others TBD

Moderator: Irene Lin, AAA-Fund Board Member and current appointee

DATE/TIME: Monday, September 16 6:00 PM Check In

6:30 – 8:30 PM Panel Starts

LOCATION: O’Melveny & Myers, 1625 I St NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 (Farragut West and Farragut North Metro); Google Maps

RSVP REQUIRED: Seating is limited, RSVP required at EventBrite.

Question of the Day: Supreme Asian Am Candidates

If a US Supreme Court retires in President Obama’s second term, which Asian American leaders could be among the leading contenders for the seat? (Hint: two of them live in California.)

— Gautam Dutta

The Meaning of Patriotism: Edward Snowden

Is Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor?  It’s only fitting to bring this up over the July 4 weekend.

As for myself, I’m not sold that he’s in either category.  On the one hand, it takes guts to reveal that our government (specifically, the NSA) has been illegally spying on us.  On the other hand, why did Snowden reveal some embarrassing information that had nothing to do with our civil liberties?  What good did it accomplish to reveal that our country has spied on both our competitors and allies?

Personally, I wish Snowden would return to the US to stand trial.  Given that a lot of people have already volunteered to fund his defense, he would receive a fair hearing.

What do you think about Edward Snowden?

— Gautam Dutta

Question of the Week: Return of the Tea Party?

Will the IRS’s “Tea Party” scandal help the Tea Party regain some of its lost influence?  Here’s what Fox News has to say.

— Gautam Dutta