Category Archives: President Obama

TN Democrats back Obama’s gun moves

Some press releases from Tennessee Democrats supporting President Obama’s proposal to put new restrictions on gun sales:

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen
“From Newtown to the Navy Yard, America has been devastated by far too many mass shootings. We cannot continue to sit back and let more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every single year.

“I commend President Obama for taking action to try to prevent future gun violence after Republicans in Congress have refused to act. The President’s actions will strengthen life-saving background checks, protect communities with bolstered enforcement, improve mental health services and fuel research to make guns safer. The vast majority of Americans – including the vast majority of gun owners – believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies. That’s what the President is doing today.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper
“President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do if Congress continued to ignore mass shootings. These seem like common-sense reforms. Congress has refused to act, so I am not surprised that the President has taken the initiative.”

State Democratic Chair Mary Mancini
“President Obama’s bold action on background checks will help to ensure that our communities are safe and that families will not have to fear going to church, school or work.

” State Republicans have not only failed to take any action on background checks but have continuously caved to the whims of the NRA. It was time for the President to be a bold leader and listen to the majority of Americans and Tennesseans who favor stronger background checks.”

TN Republicans bash Obama on guns

Some press releases from Tennessee Republicans criticizing President Obama’s plans, announced Tuesday, to put new restrictions on gun purchases:

State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, in an open letter to the president emailed with the headline, “Take Your Gun Control And Shove It.”

President Barack Obama,

This week you have announced your plan to enforce unilateral, unconstitutional executive orders on gun control. Well, here in Tennessee, we aren’t buying it. You should note that when Congress refuses to act, it’s because the will of the people compel them to do so. That does not then give you the green light to usurp the legislative jurisdiction of Congress. Regardless, our Founding Fathers foresaw such an instance where the federal government may try to enforce laws that were unpopular with the people, whether those laws be constitutional or not, and they provided a blueprint of how to deal with such an issue.
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Obama grants pre-Christmas commutations to two TN drug offenders

Two federal prison inmates from Tennessee, both convicted on charges of distributing cocaine, are among 95 persons receiving pre-Christmas sentence commutations from President Obama, according to a White House press release.

They are listed as Glenn D. Gold of Clarksville and Marcus Stovall of Etowah.

Here’s the information on the two contained in the press release:

Glen D. Gold — Clarksville, TN

Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base; use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; felon in possession of a firearm (Middle District of Tennessee)

Sentence: Life plus 60 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (Apr. 23, 1997)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016

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Marcus Stovall – Etowah, TN

Offense: Possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute (Eastern District of Tennessee)

Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (Oct. 21, 2002)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on April 16, 2016.


Note: The press release is HERE. Stovall had a petition to vacate his sentence rejected by the court in 2013 and the order in that matter is HERE. Gold’s brother had petitioned the president for a commutation on the change.org website, posted HERE.

White House giving govs more refugee info; Haslam pleased

The White House sought Monday to ease concerns among the nation’s governors about Syrian refugees entering the United States by proposing a new program that would provide regular data on refugees who have settled in their states, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and other governors, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the refugee vetting process as “extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive.” But McDonough said the administration would be willing to work through the National Governors Association to set up a new system to provide governors with more information about the refugees in their states.

Under the new program, once the State Department receives a governor’s request for data on refugees, it would compile a report tailored to that individual state. The data would include information on refugees resettled in the state during the prior month and the fiscal year to date.

…In response to the White House letter, Haslam said he was “pleased to see them responding to what a lot of governors had asked. As I understand it, they said two things: No. 1, they will give us a way to access the data about who has recently settled here in terms of — not names — but how many, ages, families, et cetera, so I think that will help. And then No. 2, they’ve agreed to have a collaborative process about how governors might be more involved in the vetting process, which I was encouraged to see as well.

“I don’t know what that looks like yet but I think they basically said we would set down at the NGA (National Governors Association annual winter meeting), which is in February in Washington. So we’re still two, two-and-a-half months out, but I think that’s good news.”

In addition to the new program proposed, the State Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are prepared to brief governors on the refugee resettlement process and to discuss working together to improve the program at the next governors’ association meeting, McDonough said.

Haslam joins other governors in White House refugee talk

Gov. Bill Haslam was among 34 governors joining a conference call, arranged by Obama administration officials, on refugee policies and security screening procedures Wednesday, according to David Smith, the governor’s communications director. His emailed comment on the meeting:

Yesterday the governor took part in a conference call with both Democratic and Republican governors, senior White House officials as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, FBI and others regarding Syrian refugees. He was briefed on the screening and vetting process of refugees before they can travel to the U.S. Screening, acceptance and placement is legally under the authority of the federal government, but a common sentiment expressed by Democrat and Republican governors was for states to be included as part of the process.

Here’s the White House press release, dated Wednesday:

Today, the White House hosted a call with a bipartisan group of 34 governors from across the country to provide information about existing refugee admissions policies and security screening measures. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led the call and was joined by Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; Mark Giuliano, Deputy Director of the FBI; and representatives from the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The call lasted almost 90 minutes, including an extensive question and answer session among the governors and Administration officials. The officials briefed the governors on the rigorous screening and security vetting process that is required before a refugee is able to travel to the United States. Thirteen governors asked questions.

The Administration officials reiterated what the President has made abundantly clear: that his top priority is the safety of the American people. That’s why, even as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after they undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.

Several Governors expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to better understand the process and have their issues addressed directly by representatives of the agencies responsible for the refugee and screening programs. Others encouraged further communication to ensure that governors are able to better respond to questions from the public about the refugee screening and resettlement process.

Denis McDonough also committed to working with the National Governors Association to improve information sharing and maintain an ongoing dialogue.

Alexander welcomes Obama financial aid move

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is welcoming a move by the Obama administration to simplify federal financial aid applications, reports WPLN.

The Tennessee senator says the proposal will remove one of the major barriers to kids going to college. He hopes to have a streamlined form in place next year.

Alexander has pushed for years to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — or FAFSA — easier. Obama’s backing represents a breakthrough, the Republican lawmaker says.

“I mean we’ve got bipartisan support. And I learned a long time ago that if you’ve got a good idea, you push it, you work with other people, and you don’t care who gets credit for it. So I’m glad to have the president support it.”

The Obama administration announced last week that it would change the deadline for the FAFSA from January to October, a decision that’s meant to make it easier for families to gather the tax information needed. The IRS will even help fill the form out.

Alexander wants to go even farther. He’d like to shorten the FAFSA from 108 questions to a form the size of a postcard.

Cohen joins Kerry for raising U.S. flag in Cuba

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen will travel to Cuba on Friday with Secretary of State John Kerry for the raising of the flag over the U.S. Embassy in Havana, reports Michael Collins.

The Memphis Democrat, who has been supportive of the decision by President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba, will witness a ceremony in which the stars and stripes will be hoisted over the embassy for the first time in five decades.

The flag-raising ceremony is part of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which are converting their diplomatic missions from interests sections to full-fledged embassies.

Cuba raised the flag over its embassy in Washington in July.

Knox official’s rant against Muslims, Obama draws ire, apology

Knox County Clerk Foster Arnett’s anti-Muslim and anti-Obama postings on Facebook have drawn criticism and an apology, reports the News Sentinel.

“To make statements like that when you have a countywide office is just inexcusable and unforgivable,” Commissioner Sam McKenzie said Monday at the body’s regular monthly meeting. “I think it does have an effect on you when you issue hate-filled statements like this about any one person, it’s not isolated to that one particular one. He doesn’t like the fact that we’re a melting pot, in my opinion based on what I’ve read and what I continue to read in his nonapology.”

Arnett issued an apology in a statement to local news outlets Monday, more than a week after he posted and then deleted the derogatory statements in the wake of the Chattanooga fatal shootings. The posts were captured with screenshots and posted to the local blog KnoxViews.(Note: HERE.)

The posts were shared on Arnett’s personal Facebook page and not on the clerk’s office website.

One photo contains a caption that uses a derogatory term for Muslims (Note: It’s “goat humpers”) and reads, “Stop being afraid of being called racist … and act like Americans.”

An accompanying post reads, “I was ‘un-friended’ yesterday by someone over a comment about Muslims. I DON’T CARE! As a country, we had better WAKE UP and STAND UP before it is too late! I am SICK TO DEATH of this political correctness society we live in today. Last time I checked, this is America, at least until Obama and the libs ruin it, and I am FREE to say what I believe.”

McKenzie, during an eight-minute speech to his fellow commissioners, said he believed minority hiring — especially in management positions — had decreased in the clerk’s office since Arnett took office.

McKenzie said he planned to ask the law department to study the diversity within the office.

“I strongly feel we need to dig into this,” McKenzie said. “I feel strongly that I don’t feel like he could do his job. I think he’s turned that office over in terms of minority hiring, to where there aren’t any. I would ask for that research to be done.”

Knox County Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong said he would follow up with McKenzie to determine exactly what information the commissioner is requesting.

Arnett, when reached by phone following Monday’s commission meeting, said he turned over hiring in his office to the county human resources department after taking office in 2008.

…In his apology statement first circulated before the commission meeting, Arnett said he was upset by the Chattanooga shootings and had never hidden his political affiliation.

Arnett insisted his personal beliefs have never impeded his ability to carry out his job as county clerk.

McKenzie, in his remarks, dismissed Arnett’s apology.

“That’s not an apology,” McKenzie told commissioners. “That’s a furthering of ‘I was right.’ We should be embarrassed.”

Presidential proclamation, Senate resolution honor Chattanooga victims

President Obama has issued a proclamation honoring the victims of last week’s Chattanooga shootings while the U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a resolution doing so with Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander as sponsors.

The presidential proclamation is HERE.

News release from Sen. Bob Corker’s office:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution offered by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) condemning the deadly attack last week in Chattanooga and honoring the five service members who lost their lives. The resolution was cosponsored by all 100 members of the Senate. Yesterday, Corker and Alexander honored the victims on the Senate floor. Corker’s remarks are available here. Alexander’s remarks are available here (video).

The full text of the resolution follows and is available online here.

Obama orders flags lowered for Chattanooga shooting victims

Start of a Washington Post article:
PITTSBURGH — President Obama, facing growing criticism from conservatives and some veterans, ordered all American flags on federal grounds to be lowered to half-staff for the remainder of the week to honor the five service members killed at a naval reserve center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The move was announced Tuesday, five days after the shooting rampage and just minutes after Obama delivered a speech here at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in which he defended his Iran nuclear deal, called for more military spending, and criticized Republicans for relying too heavily on military force and threats instead of diplomacy.

Standing before a crowded hall of aging veterans, Obama eulogized each of the four Marines and the one sailor killed by a gunman in Chattanooga. Tom Sullivan was “everything that a Marine should be,” Obama said. Skip Wells was so devoted to the Marine Corps that he wore his dress blues to his home town’s Fourth of July parade. David Wyatt led with courage in Afghanistan and mentored comrades with post-traumatic stress disorder. Carson Holmquist loved his wife, Jasmine, and their 2-year-old son. Randall Smith, the sailor, was a high school baseball star with two young daughters he called “little princesses.”

But even as he spoke, the president faced stinging criticism that he hadn’t acted swiftly enough to honor the dead by lowering the flag at the White House and federal buildings around the country.

“Oh one more thing, lower the FLAG!!!!!!!! Sir,” former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the best-selling book “Lone Survivor,” wrote on his Facebook page.

That critique was then echoed on Capitol Hill, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved quickly to lower the flag to half-staff on the Capitol grounds.

The midsummer tempest highlighted how Obama — six years into his tenure as commander in chief — continues to be pressed to defend his patriotism, his support for the military and his toughness.

Note: Previous post HERE.