The President Donates Nobel Prize Money to Charity
WASHINGTON – President Obama today announced the charities that will receive a portion of the $1.4 million award that comes with the Nobel peace prize.
“These organizations do extraordinary work in the United States and abroad helping students, veterans and countless others in need,” said President Obama. “I’m proud to support their work.”
List of Charities
$250,000 to Fisher House
Fisher House is a national non-profit organization that provides housing for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.
$200,000 to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund
In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, President Obama asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to create the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to raise funds for long-term relief efforts in Haiti.
$125,000 to College Summit
College Summit is a national non-profit organization that partners with elementary and middle schools and school districts to strengthen college-going culture and increase college enrollment rates, so that all students graduate from high school career and college-ready.
$125,000 to the Posse Foundation
The Posse Foundation is a national non-profit organization that identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse’s college and university partners award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. The scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent.
$125,000 to the United Negro College Fund
The United Negro College Fund plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college through scholarship and internship programs.
$125,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation’s leading Hispanic scholarship organization, providing the Hispanic community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. In its 34 year history, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has awarded close to $280M in scholarships to more than 90,000 students in need.
$125,000 to the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation
A non-profit organization funded by foundations and companies, ALEF supports and enables young men and women from Appalachia to pursue higher education though scholarship and leadership curriculum.
$125,000 to the American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole. The Fund disburses approximately 6,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through higher education. The Fund also provides support for tribal college needs, ranging from capital support to cultural preservation curricula.
$100,000 to AfriCare
AfriCare was founded in 1970 and has more projects in Africa than any other U.S. based charity, reaching communities in 25 countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its programs address needs in three principal areas: health and HIV/AIDS; food security and agriculture; and water resource development.
$100,000 to the Central Asia Institute
The Central Asia Institute promotes and supports community-based education and literacy, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Institute’s co-founder, Greg Mortenson, was also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee this year, whose book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time, recounts his attempt to successfully establish dozens of schools and promote girls’ education in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan.
President Obama to Request $50 Million to Identify and Expand Effective, Innovative Non-Profits
White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to Coordinate Efforts
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, in his FY2010 budget, will ask Congress to provide $50 million in seed capital for the Social Innovation Fund to identify the most promising, results-oriented non-profit programs and expand their reach throughout the country.
Many solutions to our nation’s most challenging social problems are being generated outside of Washington; the Social Innovation Fund will identify what is working in communities across the country, provide growth capital for these programs, and improve the use of data and evaluation to raise the bar on what programs the government funds.
“The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges,” First Lady Michelle Obama will say Tuesday at the Time 100 Most Influential People Awards in New York City, according to her prepared remarks. “By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.”
Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, also highlighted the Fund Tuesday in a keynote speech to the Council on Foundations. “The Social Innovation Fund reflects the President’s new governing philosophy: finding and investing in what works; and partnering with and supporting others who are leading change in their communities,” Barnes said. “We are also working with Federal agencies across the government to identify new solutions to problems that have resisted traditional approaches.”
The Social Innovation Fund was authorized in the recent Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Fund will focus on priority policy areas, including education, health care, and economic opportunity. It will partner with foundations, philanthropists, and corporations which will commit matching resources, funding, and technical assistance.
The White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation will coordinate efforts to enlist all Americans –individuals, non-profits, social entrepreneurs, corporations and foundations – as partners in solving our great challenges. Located within the Domestic Policy Council, it will:
- Catalyze partnerships between the government and nonprofits, businesses and philanthropists in order to make progress on the President’s policy agenda
- Identify and support the rigorous evaluation and scaling of innovative, promising ideas that are transforming communities like, for example, Harlem Children’s Zone, YouthVillages, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Citizen Schools.
- Support greater civic participation through new media tools
- Promote national service.
PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:55 P.M. EDT
MR. GIBBS: Good afternoon. I hope everyone had a good weekend.
One thing I want to call to your attention before we start — and we’ll make copies of this available; I believe part of this was released from the Secretary of Health and Human Services Office last week to — (interruption) — that happens every time I have a good idea. (Laughter.) A letter released April 30th, last week, to Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley, applauding their leadership as the Finance Committee continues to work in a bipartisan fashion toward the shared goal of enacting meaningful health care reform legislation this year.
They outlined a series of principles, including promoting primary care and prevention, realigning incentives to promote high quality care, increasing transparency to empower patients and providers, and reducing waste, fraud and abuse. So we will make that all available to you as a good start in progress on health care reform.
And with that, Mr. Feller.
Q Thank you, Robert. Two topics, please. Back to the Supreme Court. There’s been a lot of talk as the nomination process begins that the President’s nominee should either be a woman or someone who is Hispanic. To what degree — what’s the President’s message to those who want that to be the case?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President obviously is going to take the time to look at all of those that are qualified, to find the most qualified person in his estimation, whether it’s a he or a she; to find somebody, as the President described in this room on Friday — somebody that respects precedent, tradition and rule of law, but also understands that decisions have to be made using common-sense and understanding people’s everyday lives. I think that’s most of all what he’s looking for in a nominee. I know he’s made some calls today to — I don’t have readouts on these yet, but I will get them — in discussing the upcoming pick with Senator Hatch and Senator Specter.
Q So to the question of — in the context of diversity, gender and ethnicity, how important are those –
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think the President described that there should be a diversity of experience. I am sure he will look at candidates with a diversity in background. But again, I think the President is looking for somebody with a record of excellence, somebody with a record of integrity, somebody who understands the rule of law, and somebody who understands how being a judge affects Americans’ everyday lives.
Q I also wanted to ask quickly about a health issue. Mexican officials are saying that the swine flu, H1N1 epidemic is waning. Global health officials are saying that countries shouldn’t let their guard down. What’s the level of concern at the White House about the flu right now? Is it as high as it was last week?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the White House continues to be vigilant in preparing for whatever we see as a result of the H1N1 flu virus. The President continues to get updates several times a day from Homeland Security Council. The advice the President and others gave last week about being vigilant in your individual responsibilities and staying home if you’re sick continues to be important. Certainly you’re always hopeful that what you might plan for never comes to fruition, but I think the key is understanding and planning for any outcome and being ready to address it. And I think that’s the — those are the steps that this administration to date has taken and will continue to take in order to prepare.
Q I have a question about the Supreme Court, to follow up on Ben’s question, but then I also have a question about the offshore tax announcement the President made. On Supreme Court, can you give us an update on where things stand with the process? When is he going to be ready to start interviewing people? What is he doing now to prepare for the process and lay the groundwork?
MR. GIBBS: You know, it’s — basically the process is as I outlined it Friday. The process has begun and began some time ago to go through prospective and potential candidates, to begin to review the history and the background and their experience. But I don’t have a specific timeline, as I said on Friday, for when that might happen, except to say that this is something the President believes must be done before the Court starts its work again in October — which means we’re on a fairly tight timeline to probably get something done before Congress gets out of town in August.
Q Okay. And on the announcement he made today about international tax policy, several big corporations are lined up against it, the deferral provision — Pfizer, Oracle, Microsoft and trade associations like the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable. And I’m just wondering how you think you’re going to overcome that opposition and if you think this faces a big fight in Congress.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I don’t think change is ever easy and I think whenever you’re taking on some bigger interest that mountain gets a little bit steeper.
But the President strongly believes that the policy that he outlined, the steps that we have to take to close tax loopholes and ensure some fairness in this process is the right policy for America and the right policy for American business. By closing these loopholes and replacing these tax advantages with fairness, using a portion of the money that’s recouped to make or to fund research and development and experimentation tax credit for the next 10 years is an important investment for American business.
Since 1981 the R&D tax credit has expired on 13 separate occasions. So providing business with some certainty for research and development we think is important. And as the President said throughout the campaign, we have — our tax code has an incentive that provides — an incentive that rewards companies that are investing overseas at the expense of investing here in America. We know we’re going to take on some tough interests in that, but the President believes this is a fight we should have and one that we can win.
Q Can you respond to their criticism that these policies would make them less competitive? They point out that in a lot of countries you don’t pay taxes on overseas earnings, you only pay taxes on what you earn domestically, and so that puts them at a disadvantage because they’re paying taxes twice.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think if you look at and compare the huge tax benefits that they get in this country for deferral, the huge benefits that they get for accelerated depreciation — I think it’s important that the American people and businesses understand that this is — fairness is not something that will put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Q Thanks, Robert. The situation in Pakistan seems to be getting worse and worse and the President obviously has some important meetings this week with Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan. What does he hope to get at this critical stage from these meetings?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Ed, as you know, the President throughout the campaign, for much of the past two years, has discussed the fact that we have neglected this region of the world and particularly we have not focused our resources enough on the challenges that are presented by these countries and in these two countries.
The President ordered at the beginning of the administration a review of our policy and instituted the beginning of regular trilateral meetings to ensure that there were open lines of communication between the Afghan government, the Pakistani government, and the American government about where we can coordinate our efforts to make a better difference. This is the second such meeting. The President I think, as you said, is concerned about this situation. You’ve seen administration officials talk about their concern.
So this is an opportunity to discuss with them the process and open up those lines of communication — because we want a strong relationship with each of these two countries; we want an understanding that not just the United States faces security concerns, but each individual government has security concerns about extremists in the area; and this is the beginning of a long process to coordinate our strategy.
Q A quick question on the Boston Globe today, the news that they may have 30 to 60 days to live. What’s the White House’s thinking on the newspaper industry right now and whether or not it may need a bailout, since there are a lot of jobs at stake just as with the auto industry; a lot of people talking about the impact on communities like Boston, Seattle, and places that are losing newspapers? How do you evaluate all that?
MR. GIBBS: I have not asked specifically about assistance. I don’t think — I think that might be a bit of a tricky area to get into given the differing roles. Obviously the President believes there has to be a strong free press. I think there’s a certain concern and a certain sadness when you see cities losing their newspapers or regions of the country losing their newspapers. So it’s certainly of concern. I don’t know what, in all honesty, government can do about it. I would note that looking at some of the balance sheets, I wondered how you guys didn’t think $100 million meant a lot a few weeks ago, but looking at some of the balance sheets $100 million seems to me a lot.
Q A couple questions. One, on this tax announcement that you made today, what is the legislative calendar on this? Is this actually going to happen — is it going to be a separate, stand alone piece of legislation that’s going to get debated and voted on, or is this going to get lost in some sort of bigger thing with the tax code?
MR. GIBBS: I think the President believes that what he announced today is basically a down payment on longer-term tax reform. The President doesn’t anticipate that this will get in any way lost. Obviously, Senator Baucus, Congressman Rangel, Congressman Doggett, Senator Levin, have all pushed for elements of this over the years. Whether or not this is –
Q But when is this going to happen?
MR. GIBBS: We expect it to happen in the near term.
Q A couple months? Next legislative session?
MR. GIBBS: I would think probably that. Whether or not this is — it’s hard for me to peer into the crystal ball and figure out whether this gets added to something at the end of the process or whether two financial things get put together, I don’t know. But obviously — I think there’s a lot of support for extending this research and development tax credit and giving business certainty in their investments. So I think this is something –
Q Is it designed to happen this year?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q With budget reconciliation or outside of this –
MR. GIBBS: I don’t think it has to happen in reconciliation. It certainly could be a part of it. But I also think that the President and the team believe that this could easily work its way through Congress. I mean, I guess we could have a spirited debate about the efficacy of tax havens — if that’s something that people want to have, I’m sure the President is happy to have it.
Q To follow up on Ed’s question on Pakistan. So this first meeting is more of a — I want to say it’s more of an, okay, what are your concerns, what are your concerns, here are our concerns, and let’s start the dialogue? Or is there going to be some tangible –
MR. GIBBS: Look, this is the beginning of the President seeing each of these two leaders at the White House. Obviously there is funding in front of Capitol Hill in the supplemental to deal with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’m sure that will be part of it.
I think there is a growing recognition — there’s a growing recognition coming more to where the White House has been that the threat that are posed by these extremists — not just, again, to us, but inside each of these two countries. So I think this is an important first step.
Q Is India at all going to be consulted on this? Because it seems that part of the frustration that I know that you guys have had with the Pakistani government is that they have so many troops on the border of India that they’re not able to combat the Taliban in the way that they should, and they pulled some troops. Is there any way you can still play mediator on this?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think obviously some of those conversations are being had. I think the President spoke pretty clearly to this last week in underscoring where the threat lies in Pakistan and where it doesn’t.
Q And the President is going to make that clear to Pakistan, that there’s not threat from India?
MR. GIBBS: I think he will reiterate what he said to you guys last week.
Q What is the President’s chief objection to single payer for universal health care when it works so many places?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think among many is I think it is not likely to be workable. I think –
Q Why do you say that? We have Medicare, we have Social Security.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I say that because, Helen, we’ve been debating health care reform for 30 or 40 years. I think if that were the magic silver bullet, then you guys would be asking me why we were taking on something else to our agenda because health care –
Q Why are you afraid of universal health care by a single payer?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I don’t think anybody is afraid of universal health care. We’re trying to get — our objectives are to cut costs for families that are watching their premiums and their co-payments and their deductibles skyrocket.
Q Single payer is supposed to cut costs.
MR. GIBBS: We are looking to cover more of those that aren’t lucky enough to have health insurance. And equally as importantly, you cannot tackle the long-term costs that are being borne by this government without tackling health care reform. The President is adamant about that. And he looks forward to working with Congress to find a workable solution that can get through Congress.
Q But Social Security works, and Medicare works. Why do you think it couldn’t work for universal health care?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think there are — I would point you to — there’s, I’m sure, down the street about 535 opinions on this.
Q Robert, just to clarify, the President has not interviewed anyone for the Supreme Court?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I’m aware of.
Q And what about the counsel? Has he talked to anyone?
MR. GIBBS: I will check. Not that I’m aware of, no.
Q Given the fact that, through the years, these sit-downs that Presidents have had with potential Supreme Court nominees have been make-or-break, when do you think that’s going to happen, given the tight time –
MR. GIBBS: You guys didn’t get the pool notification?
Q Pardon me?
MR. GIBBS: You didn’t get the pool notification?
Q No. (Laughter.)
Q He’ll do a press conference right after.
Q We know there will be full coverage at the top and bottom.
MR. GIBBS: Right, we’ll do cameras and stills in separate — (laughter.)
I don’t know that there’s a direct timeline. Obviously there’s work to be done. I think the President will likely conduct this process in a way that — not unlike he did the vice presidential search. It won’t be one that is overly public.
Q Announce it by text message?
MR. GIBBS: What?
Q Announce it by text message?
MR. GIBBS: Maybe so. (Laughter.) Maybe I didn’t take the analogy all the way to the end.
Obviously the President understands, as he said here last week, just how important a decision and a nomination like this are. I think he understands the gravity of that. And I think — look, I think the President I think was defined this weekend as a pragmatist in a lot of these ideas, and I think that’s the case. I don’t doubt that there will be a debate in this town, as there has been for several decades, about one view or the other.
I think the vast majority of the American people are not on either end of this, but instead somewhere in the middle looking for the very same requirements that the President is looking for: somebody that understands the rule of law, somebody that has a record of excellence and integrity, somebody who also understands how these opinions affect everyday lives, and will exercise some common sense.
Q One of the criticisms from business about change in tax policy is that the unintended consequence could be to lose jobs. Has there been any study done of that before this proposal was –
MR. GIBBS: Well, I mean, obviously — I don’t think the President would offer up something that would set our economic recovery efforts backwards. I think that’s why the President dismisses the argument that’s made and believes in the fairness of closing tax loopholes, cracking down on tax havens, and rewarding instead companies that are creating jobs right here in America.
Q And he dismisses the argument because –
MR. GIBBS: He doesn’t believe it quite honestly holds a lot of merit.
Q Two questions. One is, on the tax issue, did the G20 meeting have any influence on the shape of his proposal? This is something that our European allies were pushing for at the time.
MR. GIBBS: No — I mean, obviously it was something that the President agreed with our European allies. Our support for these individual things are something that I’ve heard the President talk about, in all honesty, going back to his Senate race in 2004. So while I think it is in line with what the G20 did, the President’s belief about closing tax havens, his belief about instituting fairness and rewarding companies that are creating jobs here is something he’s talked about for five years.
Q I just meant, did the actual particulars of the proposal at all or –
MR. GIBBS: Oh, not that I’m aware of. I can certainly see if there’s any — if anything changed on that, but I don’t believe it did.
Q And on the Supreme Court, you mentioned a variety of criteria, diversity in all sorts of different ways. Is one of the things you would put on that list age; that you would be looking for somebody who’s younger, who would have a longer term on the Court?
MR. GIBBS: Look, I think –
Q Older? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Ed, just remember, just e-mail me your opinions and we’ll have the President — (laughter.)
Look, instead of getting into certain age brackets or different requirements, I think the President obviously — I think you always assume, rightly so, that whomever you choose is going to have a significant impact on the Court for quite some time. I mean, this is one of nine. And I think you have to assume that whomever you pick is somebody that you believe will have great weight on the Court for a long time to come.
Q But it’s remarked on that previous Republican Presidents have seemed to specifically gone out of their way to choose people in their 40s and 50s who will have a mark for even longer.
MR. GIBBS: I think the President looks for somebody who is the best qualified and hopes they do make an impact on the Court.
Q Pakistan and then taxes. On Pakistan, there were several reports this weekend that the government doesn’t know what happened to $100 million allocated to Pakistan to better secure its nuclear facilities. Does the administration have any concrete plans to find out what happened to that $100 million, if it in fact has brought any more security to these facilities, and will this be part of the conversation this week?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know about the specific news that you mentioned. Obviously — and I wouldn’t add a ton to what the President said on this last week — but obviously the security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan and the security of nuclear materiel throughout the world is something that the President thinks is of the highest priority. I don’t doubt that that will be mentioned, yes.
Q I mean, this is U.S. tax dollars for a specific purpose and the government represented it would be used for this purpose and this purpose only. And right now, it doesn’t appear anyone knows where the money went or if it went to this purpose at all.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President has sufficiently weighed in — well, let me rephrase that. I think the President’s views on our policy relating to a Musharraf-only policy, our policy that provides resources but no accountability — I think on both of those accounts the President has been clear that that hasn’t worked and that part of the review was to determine how moving forward we can best appropriate our resources to ensure the safety and security of those weapons and of everyone involved.
Q When the President had a Q&A session with the Business Roundtable, this idea, the tax proposals he’s introduced today, came up. And one of the questioners said, Mr. President, would you consider, as you evaluate this policy, reducing corporate income tax rates — because there is an economic argument that one of the reasons these tax havens flourish is to avoid higher corporate income tax rates around the globe, particularly in the U.S. The President said he would take it under consideration. It’s not here today. Can we therefore assume we’re not going to see any proposals from this White House on lowering corporate income tax rates anytime soon?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think what the President has laid out here would lower corporate taxes because for 10 years we are instituting certainty in the research and development tax credit. Businesses will pay less taxes by taking advantage of that.
But as I said a minute ago, the President believes this is a down payment on tax reform and I think the President would be — I think the reason the President said he would take that under advisement is the President believes that closing loopholes and using that to bring down the corporate tax rate is exactly what he has in mind. But what that requires is a closing of the loopholes and the tax havens that you talk about that companies are taking advantage of to put money elsewhere to avoid paying taxes here.
Q Chairman Baucus said that this needs further study to assess the impact on the plan — of the plan on U.S. businesses. Mitch McConnell said, I can’t endorse a plan that gives preferential treatment to foreign companies at the expense of U.S.-based companies and the 52 million people they employ. At least at this level of bipartisanship, there appears to be some more that Congress would like to learn about this than it presently knows. How do you answer that?
MR. GIBBS: Well, we are fortunate that Congress has to the power to call hearings and investigate the topic, but we’re happy to have a long discussion about the fairness of tax havens and tax loopholes that let companies avoid paying the taxes — taxes like you and I pay each day — and instead reward companies that are investing right here and creating jobs in America.
Q Two things. First, on tax havens, at the Summit of the Americas, a lot of Caribbean leaders raised a lot of concerns about what these sorts of measures would do to their financial sectors, which account for large parts of their economy. Can you tell us about any steps, any diplomatic steps in advance of today’s announcement that might have been taken?
MR. GIBBS: I can check on that. I know there was a discussion about this, but at the same time while the administration understands the — may understand the viewpoint of why a country would take that position, it doesn’t change the administration’s viewpoint that, for fairness purposes, these tax havens have to be dealt with.
Q And on Israel, the meeting tomorrow with President Peres, he shares President Obama’s view that a two-state solution is the way to go to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian situation. He represents a government that has yet to embrace that. What does President Obama hope to tell him tomorrow to take back to Prime Minister Netanyahu?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think, much like the meeting that will happen on Wednesday, the President — this is of the utmost priority for the President. It is something that he believes will only be advanced and moved forward by a sustained effort by this administration, in conjunction with the Palestinians and the Israelis, to make progress. Obviously this President spent time the very first day he worked in the Oval Office on Middle East peace and I think this is the beginning of many steps. Obviously Mr. Netanyahu will visit the White House later in the month, as will — as others have and others will over the course of the next few weeks as we start this long process.
Q You mentioned just a second ago some of President Obama’s criticisms of the Bush administration’s Musharraf-only policy. Does that mean that the Obama administration does not have a Zardari-only policy, particularly given the concerns we’ve heard about the survivability of the Pakistani government?
MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously the Pakistanis are in charge of electing their own government. It’s a democratically elected government. This President wants to work with the government, but I think the criticism that this President had was that our Pakistani policy didn’t include the people of Pakistan; that we have to coordinate our actions and have the government, the people, and any political party understand what’s at stake. And what is at stake is the role of extremism and the impact and the effect that it’s having.
I’ve said this before — I don’t think you have to explain in great detail the role of extremism to this government, because it’s in power because extremists assassinated somebody else. But obviously this is of great concern to the President, and he’ll spend a lot of time on Wednesday trying to get the steps that we take moving forward right as it relates to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to finally have a regional approach and ensure that the time that is spent and the resources that are spent go toward making a difference in this region of the world.
Q Robert, can I ask about the bank stress tests? I know that we haven’t laid out the formal results of all the tests; I realize there are a couple of pending appeals on them. But clearly several banks already are in a position where they need more capital, according to the stress test. Has the administration decided whether or not it’s going to go back to Congress and ask for more money?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Mark, I’ve said this and so have others, that — well, let me — these stress tests were designed so that regulators, the administration, and all those involved could get a realistic assessment in a severe — even more severe economic downturn what capital cushion would be required.
There will be — there undoubtedly will be banks that need more capital. There have been banks in the last few weeks that have sought more capital, and I think we believe and banks believe that the first and best place to get that is through the private sector.
The administration doesn’t believe that we need to go to Congress right now looking for more money. But first and foremost, I think everyone involved will be looking for banks to raise this through either private means or the selling of some assets that they have or that they control.
Q Does that mean that after they make that attempt, if they don’t have any luck in the private sector, that they would come back to you folks and say, sorry, we couldn’t do it, we need more?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think it’s — as the plan is laid out — and I think one thing that we’ve maintained and I think you’ll see this on Thursday, I think you’ll be pleased with the amount of transparency with which these tests will be released by the regulators. But the steps that each of these individual banks take will be determined not by us but by them. They’ll have a certain amount of time to put together a plan that meets the test of regulators to ensure that stability.
Q But the point is, you’ve been saying for some weeks now that once we get these stress tests done, we will know whether we need to go back to Congress. And you’ve decided that at least as of now, we don’t need it?
MR. GIBBS: Let me start by saying, I haven’t seen all the results. But I think the administration believes we have in hand what is needed.
Q Just want to follow up on Mark, and then I have a question about Pakistan. In the past you’ve been very candid when you think there are things that the President is for but the Congress wouldn’t approve it, like the assault weapons ban. Do you feel that in this case, Congress basically wouldn’t have any appetite to give you more money for the banks, even if you wanted it?
MR. GIBBS: I think in many ways that might ultimately be — I think it’s hard to — it’s hard for me to look into the crystal ball to — I don’t know what the circumstance by which you might make a request.
Q You know how many votes it passed by the last time, which was a hair.
MR. GIBBS: I watched the President make a lot of these before a lot of this. So, yes. No, I don’t — look, I don’t doubt that this is unpopular. It’s unpopular here. The President didn’t come here to, as he said, run auto companies or bail out banks.
But I think what’s important about this process is getting a genuine understanding of what’s out there. We have no doubt that there will still be — there are still going to be toxic assets on the books that have to and will be dealt with as part of other plans that the administration has outlined.
Q On Pakistan, my question is, the reports today that the U.S. doesn’t know where all of Pakistan nukes are. And in the press conference President Obama didn’t express a high level of confidence about how secure they were, and he just said, “I’m confident we can make sure that their nuclear arsenal is secure.” I mean, how secure does he actually think it is at the moment?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I’m, not surprisingly, not going to get into a detailed conversation about this up here, except to point you to what he said in that press conference.
Q I mean, is the message from that press conference that he isn’t very confident about their security, because he didn’t say –
MR. GIBBS: That’s not what I suggested.
Q Well, could you just explain what the message should be?
MR. GIBBS: I would read his — what he said. I think it’s rather clear.
Q I had a question on the flu, but I did want to clarify what you said about getting the Supreme Court nominee done before August, basically. When you say done, does that mean confirmed?
MR. GIBBS: Well, let me amend if only to say I think obviously in order to get somebody seated by the first Monday in October you’re at least going to have to be a decent ways through the process, or through the beginning of this process. Obviously September is going to be a busy time. I guess let me amend what I said only to say that we understand that looking at the calendar from here until that first Monday in October, you’ve got four weeks in August, or August and maybe even the first part of September, where Congress is not going to be here.
So instead of saying they should be done and through the Senate and what have you by the end of July, obviously this process has to be a decent ways down the field. I guess what I’m saying is this isn’t going to all happen in September; I think this process has to make some progress in order to get somebody seated for the first Monday.
Q All right. And then on the flu, are you guys starting to look towards the fall flu season — assuming that this current trend of the swine flu kind of ratchets down a bit, are you starting to look towards the fall and a flare-up again of maybe a more virulent strain of this? What are you doing to prepare for that also?
MR. GIBBS: I mean, I think there’s several different things here. One, obviously we continue to remain very vigilant with what’s going on right now, understanding that obviously it’s still very much out there, there are still cases that we’re dealing with and preparations that we’re making to ensure that states and localities both have the guidance and part of the — our national stockpile of antivirals.
As I said last week, they’re beginning to undertake the very initial steps in the development of vaccines by creating a seed stock. I think –
Q Would that seed stock be good if it mutated in the fall?
MR. GIBBS: Well, that I think is — I will check with the scientists on this. Obviously I think some consideration is being taken into account, and in all honesty they’re continuing to evaluate each and every day the scientific evidence that they get from what they’re seeing in the virus.
As I said last week, Jon, I do think there is a concern and the need for us to remain vigilant throughout the summer in preparing for what might happen in the fall. The timing in which this occurred happened in a period in which the normal end of the flu season was happening. So in that way we’re fortunate. We will continue to see scientifically what the virus does, the strength of the strain, whether or not there’s any mutation, in preparing for what we would assume would be a ramp-up in the beginning of flu season in the fall.
Q A ramp-up of regular flu or this flu?
MR. GIBBS: Well, that’s — we will prepare for both in looking at and understanding the science to see if additional steps have to be taken in the interim to prepare for that.
But in terms of getting our public health system ready, they’ve already made preparations to add to the stockpile for antivirals. We’ve discussed the beginnings of vaccine; the money that was requested by our administration as part of the supplemental to address having the resources that are needed both in the short term here to move equipment and things throughout the country, as well as to address that over the long term throughout the fall.
Q I wanted to ask a budget question, but just quickly on the Supreme Court, is one of your concerns about September that the whole Supreme Court process could interfere with — I don’t mean the President’s time now; I mean Congress’s — with health care, the budget, and everything else?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think instead of sort of hypothetically figuring out what might be — what might constitute a traffic jam in September, I think largely what I’m saying is we should begin to make progress starting here and then eventually down the street to ensure that we don’t — we’re not all caught having to do several things in September. You know, I think we’ll make progress and I think Congress will too. I don’t think there’s any — I don’t think anybody in this process wants to see the process delayed.
Q Quickly on the budget, I think Thursday is your date on the full budget now. Are the figures from the earlier budget locked in or are we likely to see changes, minor or major, in deficit numbers, economic forecasts, and all those numbers that came out in, what was it, February or March?
MR. GIBBS: Yes, I will double-check on that. I don’t have a good readout yet on that, but I will get something on that.
Q Robert, on two issues, on the Court and also on Pakistan. On the Court situation, you said before this administration came into office they understood that there could be a possibility of two justices that you could be picking, and as you said, that this is something that you’ve been working on for a while. Is there an A-list for the first Supreme Court justice and then a second list, possibly, for the next? What is the criteria for that first list, if there is a first and a second list?
MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously we have made preparations to fill judicial — to make appointments for judicial openings at all levels of the federal court, and the transition began identifying a long time ago candidates for what we assumed might be an eventual pick for the Supreme Court. I think I laid out the qualifications: somebody that respects the rule of law and understands the role of tradition and precedent, somebody with a record of excellence and integrity, and someone who understands how laws and decisions affect people’s daily lives.
Q So there are two lists, are you saying?
MR. GIBBS: No, no, I don’t — I honestly don’t know if there’s an A, B, or C list. I don’t — I think right now there’s a collection underway for a pool of very qualified candidates to replace Justice Souter.
Q And also on the issue of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, U.S. military officials are saying that extremists are leaving that border and going into East Africa; they’re also in Somalia. And there is a major concern; a former U.S. defense secretary said that this is a real problem. What concrete steps are being taken right now to address those issues as al Qaeda is leaving that border and going to Africa now?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think — I haven’t seen the specific comments, but obviously the President has long been concerned about areas throughout the world, whether they are in that region of the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, whether they’re in Africa, of the rise and the prevalence of extremist groups in territories that lack strong governments; that lawless spaces tend to provide breeding grounds for extremists.
I think that’s why the President has talked about, in his budget, an increased role in resources for governments in places like Africa that are experiencing or have long experienced trouble in controlling their physical borders. The President obviously was involved as a senator in efforts throughout Africa and particularly in the Congo to address the threat that’s posed by ungoverned spaces. So I think that’s something that the President and his team are very mindful of.
Q Thank you, Robert.
MR. GIBBS: Thank you, guys.
London, United Kingdom
April 2, 2009
By any measure, the London Summit was historic. It was historic because of the size and scope of the challenges we face, and because of the timeliness and magnitude of our response.
The challenge is clear. The global economy is contracting. Trade is shrinking. Unemployment is rising. The international financial system is nearly frozen. Even these facts cannot fully capture the crisis that we are confronting. Because behind them is the pain and uncertainty that so many people are facing. We see it back home in our own communities. Families have lost their homes. Workers are losing their jobs and their savings. Students are deferring their dreams. So many have lost so much. Just to underscore this point, jobless claims released back home today were the highest in 26 years. We owe it to all of our citizens to act, and to act with a sense of urgency.
In an age when our economies are linked more closely than ever before, the whole world has been touched by this devastating downturn. And today, the world’s leaders have responded today with an unprecedented set of comprehensive and coordinated actions.
Faced with similar global economic challenges in the past, the world was slow to act, and people paid an enormous price. That was true in the Great Depression, when nations prolonged and worsened the crisis by turning inward, waiting for more than a decade to meet the challenge together. And even in the 1980s, a slow global response deepened and widened a debt crisis in Latin America that pushed millions into poverty.
Today, we have learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to this Summit, some confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed upon a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
First, we are committed to growth and job creation. Nearly all G-20 nations have acted to stimulate demand, which will total well over $2 trillion in global fiscal expansion. The United States is also partnering with the private sector to clean out legacy assets that are crippling some banks, and using the full force of the government to ensure that our action leads directly to loans that people and businesses depend upon. These efforts will be amplified by our G-20 partners, who are pursing similarly comprehensive programs.
We have also agreed on bold action to support developing countries, so that we aren’t faced with declining markets that the global economy depends upon. Together, the G-20 is tripling the IMF’s lending capacity and promoting lending by multilateral development banks to increase the purchasing power and expand markets in every country
And we have rejected the protectionism that could deepen this crisis. History tells us that turning inward can help turn a downturn into a Depression. This cooperation between the world’s leading economies signals our support for open markets, as does our multilateral commitment to trade finance that will grow our exports and create new jobs.
Second, we are committed to comprehensive reform of a failed regulatory system. Together, we must put an end to the bubble and bust economy that has stood in the way of sustained growth, and enabled abusive risk-taking that endangers our prosperity.
At home, our efforts began with the approach that Secretary Geithner proposed last week, the strongest regulatory reforms any nation has contemplated to prevent the massive failure of responsibility that we have seen. And today, these principles have informed and enabled the coordinated action that we will take with our G-20 partners.
To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We are extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We will identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will re-establish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform the IMF and World Bank, so they are more efficient, effective, and representative.
Finally, we are protecting those who don’t always have a voice at the G-20, but who have suffered greatly in this crisis. The United States is ready to lead in this endeavor. In the coming days, I will work with Congress to provide $448 million in immediate assistance to vulnerable populations, and to double support for agricultural development to over $1 billion so that we are giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. We will also support the United Nations and World Bank as they coordinate the rapid assistance necessary to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. This is not just charity though. These are future markets for all countries, and future drivers of growth.
Let me also underscore my appreciation to Prime Minister Brown and all my colleagues from around the world who contributed to this Summit’s success. It’s hard for 20 heads of state to bridge their differences. We’ve all got our own national policies, our own assumptions, and our own politics. But our citizens are hurting. They need us to come together. So I’m pleased that the G-20 has agreed to meet again this fall. For this is just the beginning. Our problems won’t be solved in one meeting. We must be proactive in shaping events and persistent in monitoring our progress to determine whether further action is needed.
I also was pleased to have had the opportunity, while in London, to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Russia, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and India, as well as Great Britain. These discussions were valuable and productive. Of course, we spoke about additional steps to promote economic recovery and growth. But we also discussed coordinated actions we could take to reduce the nuclear threat, forge a coordinated response to North Korea’s planned missile launch, turn back terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and protect our planet from the scourge of climate change. I am encouraged that we have laid the groundwork for real and lasting progress.
The challenges of the 21st century cannot be met without collective action. Agreement will almost never be easy, and results won’t always come quickly. But I am committed to respecting different points of view, and to forging a consensus instead of dictating our terms. That is how we made progress these last few days. And that is how we will advance and uphold our ideals in the months and years to come.
I’ve spoken often, at home, about a new era of responsibility. I believe strongly that this era must not end at our borders. In a world that is more and more inter-connected, we have a responsibility to work together to solve common challenges. It will take time. But we can rebuild our global prosperity if we act with the sense of common purpose, persistence, and optimism that our moment demands. Thank you.
***From the Office of the Press Secretary***
In its’ never-ending quest to define the official role of First Lady, print media has taken it upon themselves to create a description of Michelle Obama. Supposing that perhaps to have an educated African American First Lady in the White House is a threat of some sort, newspapers and certain magazines have unilaterally taken it upon themselves to throw the intelligent character of Michelle Obama under the bus.
The New York Times has noted attributes of the First Lady that has absolutely nothing to do with what her role will be for the next four years. In an OP ED column, the New York Times chided that Michelle Obama’s fit and sculpted shoulders could stamp out terrorists in one swipe. Where’s the humor in that?
The New York Post, during election season, carried a controversial caricature cartoon of Michelle Obama on its’ cover, dressed as a Black Power militant engaging in a fist bump with President Obama. And guess what? It doesn’t stop.
The March 2009 cover of The New York Post has another cartoon representation of First Lady Michelle Obama. This time, she is being featured as a fashion maven. So, the question is: are Caucasian men really that threatened by an educated African American sista? Or are they masking their adoration by chopping Michelle Obama down into stereotypical bite sized morsels to suit their egos?
Remember the trauma that former First Lady Hillary Clinton endured for being educated and having a viable opinion that might help millions of Americans? Remember the debate that ensued over the fact that the now Secretary of State kept her maiden name, Rodham? Yeah. It was ugly and orghestrated by Caucasian men who felt threatened by an intelligent woman who might know a little bit more about the way the world works than they do.
Well, it is the 21st century and it is high time that not only Caucasian men, but ALL men, bury their enormous and exaggerated egos, and join the rest of us in respecting the contributions of women. We are so much more than a body dressed to attract, a vessel to empty sexual frustrations into, and an object to be seen and not heard.
Hopefully, within these next four years, former unenlightened views as to what the so-called ‘proper role’ of First Lady should be comprised of, will be shattered.
President-Elect Barack Obama Names National Security Team! Senator Hillary Clinton Accepts Appointment!
Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Announcement of National Security Team
December 1, 2008
Good morning. Last week, we announced our economic team, which is working as we speak to craft an Economic Recovery Program to create jobs and grow our struggling economy. Today, Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team.
The national security challenges we face are just as grave – and just as urgent – as our economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. Old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world’s deadliest technology could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.
America must also be strong at home to be strong abroad. We need to provide education and opportunity for our citizens, so every American can compete with anyone, anywhere. And our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.
The common thread linking these challenges is the fundamental reality that in the 21st century, our destiny is shared with the world’s. From our markets to our security; from our public health to our climate –we must act with the understanding that, now more than ever, we have a stake in what happens across the globe. And as we learned so painfully on 9/11, terror cannot be contained by borders, nor safety provided by oceans alone.
Last week, we were reminded of this threat once again when terrorists took the lives of six American among nearly 200 victims in Mumbai. In the world we seek, there is no place for those who kill innocent civilians to advance hateful extremism. This weekend, I told Prime Minister Singh that Americans stand with the people of India in this dark time. And I am confident that India’s great democracy is more resilient than killers who would tear it down.
And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning – a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope – because American values are America’s greatest export to the world.
To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example. The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.
In their past service and plans for the future, these men and women represent all of those elements of American power, and the very best of the American example. They have served in uniform and as diplomats; they have worked as legislators, law enforcement officials, and executives. They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.
I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague, a source of counsel, and as a campaign opponent. She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and toughness, and a remarkable work ethic. I am proud that she will be our next Secretary of State. She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence; who knows many of the world’s leaders; who will command respect in every capitol; and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.
Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances. There is much to do – from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran and North Korea, to seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, to strengthening international institutions. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department, and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.
At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense, and I’m pleased that he’s accepted. Two years ago, he took over the Pentagon at a difficult time. He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders, and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform, and their families. He earned the respect of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and competence. He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy – and that includes a bipartisan consensus at home.
As I said throughout the campaign, I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control. We will also ensure that we have the strategy – and resources – to succeed against al Qaeda and the Taliban. As Bob said not too long ago, Afghanistan is where the war on terror began, and it is where it must end. And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.
Eric Holder has the talent and commitment to succeed as Attorney General from his first day on the job, which is even more important in a transition that demands vigilance. He has distinguished himself as a prosecutor, a Judge, and a senior official, and he is deeply familiar with the law enforcement challenges we face– from terrorism to counter-intelligence; from white collar crime to public corruption.
Eric also has the combination of toughness and independence that we need at the Justice Department. Let me be clear: the Attorney General serves the American people. And I have every expectation that Eric will protect our people, uphold the public trust, and adhere to our Constitution.
Janet Napolitano offers the experience and executive skill that we need in the next Secretary of Homeland Security. She has spent her career protecting people – as a US Attorney, an Attorney General, and as Governor of Arizona. She understands the need for a Department of Homeland Security that has the capacity to help prevent terrorist attacks and respond to catastrophe – be it manmade or natural.
Janet assumes this critical role having learned the lessons – some of them painful – of the last several years, from 9/11 to Katrina. She insists on competence and accountability. She knows firsthand the need to have a partner in Washington that works well with state and local governments. She understands as well as anyone the danger of an unsecure border. And she will be a leader who can reform a sprawling Department while safeguarding our homeland.
Susan Rice will take on the crucial task of serving as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. Susan has been a close and trusted advisor. As in previous Administrations, the UN Ambassador will serve as a member of my cabinet and integral member of my team. Her background as a scholar, on the National Security Council, and Assistant Secretary of State will serve our nation well at the United Nations.
Susan knows that the global challenges we face demand global institutions that work. She shares my belief that the UN is an indispensable – and imperfect – forum. She will carry the message that our commitment to multilateral action must be coupled with a commitment to reform. We need the UN to be more effective as a venue for collective action – against terror and proliferation; climate change and genocide; poverty and disease.
Finally, I am convinced that General James Jones is uniquely suited to be a strong and skilled National Security Advisor. Generations of Joneses have served heroically on the battlefield – from the beaches of Tarawa in World War II, to Foxtrot Ridge in Vietnam. Jim’s Silver Star is a proud part of that legacy. He will bring to the job the dual experience of serving in uniform and as a diplomat. He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as Supreme Allied Commander in a time of war, and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East.
Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future. He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability – from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan. He will advise me and work effectively to integrate our efforts across the government, so that we are effectively using all elements of American power to defeat unconventional threats and promote our values.
I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security. This morning, we met to discuss the situation in Mumbai and some of the challenges that we face in the months and years ahead. In the coming weeks, I will be in close contact with these advisors, who will be working with their counterparts in the Bush Administration to make sure that we are ready to hit the ground running on January 20. Given the range of threats that we face – and the vulnerability that can be a part of every presidential transition – I hope that we can proceed swiftly for those national security officials who demand confirmation.
We move forward with the humility that comes with knowing that there are brave men and women protecting us on the front lines. Troops serving their second, third, or fourth tours. Diplomats and intelligence officers in dangerous corners of the world. FBI agents in the field, cops on the beat, prosecutors in our courts, and cargo inspectors at our ports. These selfless Americans whose names are unknown to most of us will form the backbone of our effort. If we serve as well as they do, we will protect our country and promote our values.
And we move forward with respect for America’s tradition of a bipartisan national security policy, and a commitment to national unity. When it comes to keeping our nation and our people safe, we are not Republicans and we are not Democrats: we are Americans. There is no monopoly of power or wisdom in either party. Together, as one nation, as one people, we can shape our times instead of being shaped by them. Together, we will meet the challenges of the 21st century not with fear, but with hope.
Now, before I take questions, I’d like to invite my team to say a few words, starting with my friend Hillary Clinton. Thank you.
An Oprah-free world? Is that possible? Who would survive it? Is a boycott really necessary?
The Florida Federation of Republican Women seem to think it is and they are prepared to take the boycott to the limits! Well, at least for another six weeks. Come on! Who really do these women think they are? Do they believe that boycotting Oprah Winfrey’s international daytime phenomenon is going to get VP candidate Governor Sarah Palin closer to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” couch? If that is the purpose and intent, then the Florida Federation of Republican Women are sadly mistaken.
Oprah is not going to back down. There is zero amount of pressure that an individual or an organization can apply to her that will make Oprah rethink her stance. Sales of “O Magazine” are up and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is enjoying high Nielsen ratings since the beginning of the new Fall ’08 season. So, the boycott has yet to make a ripple of a wave in Oprah’s ocean.
The Florida Federation of Republican Women are not committed to this boycott for the sake of wanting to inform voters on what Gov. Palin’s platform is, Charles Gibson thoroughly dissected it last week on ABC. The Florida Federation of Republican Women are only interested in generating negative publicity for the Obama campaign and generating sympathy and support for the McCain campaign. That is crystal clear. If Oprah had invited Barack Obama to come on her show to discuss his political agenda for winning the White House in November, then perhaps it would be a safe bet to scream “BOYCOTT!” if she refused to have the McCain/Palin duo on her show. However, Obama’s last appearance on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” was in 2006.
Furthermore, Gov. Palin’s leap into American history is indeed a moment in time to remember. No one is debating this. Winfrey stated in her press release last week that she would love to have Palin on the show. After the election. What is so difficult to understand about that? Would it be fair to assume that Winfrey has some sort of prejudice because of her loyalty to Obama? That is a fair conclusion. But the mere fact that Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, who is also now a supporter of Obama, have not appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” this election season has to mean something. If Winfrey were found to be a hypocrite and a liar because she used her program as a political platform for Obama/Biden and not extend the same courtesy to McCain/Palin after publicly stating that she would not use her show as such, then an inquiry would be necessary.
On the opposite side of the coin, it is a little amusing to see the core base of Winfrey viewers gearing up to boycott her. It is certainly no secret that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” makes it a habit to cater to the interests of upper middle class Caucasian ‘hockey mom’s’ in suburbia. That is why Florida Federation of Republican Women president Linda Ivell can validly say that “It just seemed so odd…” to not ask Gov. Sarah Palin to come on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” when she supposedly has overwhelmingly much in common with Oprah’s viewing audience.
In a way, that is a little “odd.”
“It Is Time For A Change In America, And That Is Why I’m Running For President Of The United States!” Barack Obama Delivers Nomination Acceptance Speech To 80,000! Steps Into History!
Thursday evening, around 8pm standard mountain time, Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, stepped out of the political arena for a short time, and into United States history. Barack Obama became the first African American in U.S history to accept the nomination of a major political party. Standing in a stadium, that some estimate held almost 80,000 registered Democrats and a general audience of Obama supporters, Barack Obama stood poised and ready to do what it was that he came to Invesco Stadium to do: deliver a powerful acceptance speech that would shape and define his campaign for the next 67 days. Obama began with the crowd stirring line, “America, we are better than the last eight years!”
Barack Obama didn’t play softball Thursday. He played NFL style football with some serious tactical defense and offensive maneuvers. Obama, for the first time in the eighteen months that he has campaigned, attacked the policies and judgment of presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. “John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time,” Obama pointed out. “I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to take a 10% chance on change.” Quick to point out that McCain should be honored and respected for his military valor, Obama on the other hand fired verbal missiles at McCain for being out of touch and “simply not getting it.” Obama’s verbal missiles continued with the Democratic Presidential nominee sarcastically, with an ‘in your face’ bravado, attacking McCain about his passive position towards the ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan and the Bush administration’s non-existent efforts to apprehend Osama Bin Laden, the master-mind behind 9/11. Obama even shamelessly alluded to the fact that if Bin Laden were in a cave, McCain wouldn’t go in after him!
That’s Barack Obama on attack!
Senator Obama finally did what Republicans and their naysayers have complained about for months. Obama laid out his plan. Among making the usual political promises of cutting taxes, Obama told the crowd of more than 80,ooo at Invesco Stadium, that he would cut taxes for all 95% of middle class families. Obama said that he would “spend $150 million dollars to find renewable, affordable sources of energy…and invest in clean coal technology.”
With gasoline prices hovering nationwide around $3.66 a gallon and strategists claiming that oil prices are on a slow rise again, Obama promised that if elected, ”in ten years we (The United States of America) will finally end our dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East…NOW is the time to stop this addiction!” Public education is a major failure made even more critical by the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind.” This law has left children in urban neighborhoods farther than just ‘behind’ with schools closing because of not meeting up to the “No Child Left Behind” unstable and poorly thought out fantastical educational guidelines.
Obama, a strong advocate for education, announced that his Presidential plan is to develop an early childhood education program for children entering school and to hire more teachers and increase teacher’s salaries. Obama took universal health care to another level by making the plight personal. He mentioned that his cancer stricken mother, from her hospital bed, had to fight the insurance companies to get the health care coverage she needed but was discriminated against because of her illness. Many in the stadium and the millions watching could very much relate. Obama said that if he were to win in November, he would see to it that Americans have the same health care coverage that those in Congress have at their disposal.
A night filled with history, promises and plans, Barack Obama made a Super Bowl effort in cementing the loyalty of his supporters and winning over Hillary Clinton die-hard supporters. Reminding the world-wide audience that despite what the Republicans have said about him and his inexperience, “[This campaign] has never been about me. It is about you! It is about you!.”
“Change,” Obama concluded emphatically, “doesn’t come FROM Washington, but TO Washington.”
The Motown Sound was the backdrop for Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, to deliver the speech that would give the nation a better glimpse at who her husband is. Michelle Obama was introduced Monday evening at the Democratic Convention, first by her older brother, Craig Robinson, head basketball coach at Oregon State and then to the Stevie Wonder hit “I Was Made To Love Her.”
How fitting that the Motown tune was selected to showcase Michelle Obama because essentially, that is what her speech set out to do. Michelle Obama’s mission in her speech Monday was a two-fold one. The first goal that Michelle Obama set forthin her speech was to connect with those would-be voters who believe that she and her husband are ‘elitists’. By repeatedly emphasizing that she is a girl from the ‘south side’ of Chicago, a traditional working class family that maintained strong familial ethics with the very same goals and dreams as every other American family, Michelle Obama commented that “the American Dream endures. Barackand I were raised with the same values.”
Recognizing that Monday marked the 88th anniversary of women obtaining the legal right to vote and the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Michelle Obama poignantly said that “I stand here today at that cross current of history knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing and hard earned by all of them.”
Among those that Michelle Obama recognized for their “hard earned” trek into history is Senator Hillary Clinton:
“…People like Hillary Clinton who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling so that our daughters and sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.”
The second and most important connection that Michelle Obama’s speech was intented to make is why her husband should be elected to the highest office in the country. Through out her speech, Michelle Obama made many a reference to Barack’s core values, his hope, dedication, resilence and concern for the citizens of America. Michelle Obama reminded the Convention delegates that her husband’s intentions has never been to acquire wealth and prestige, but to help those less fortunate.
Concluding her speech, Michelle Obama summed it all up this way:
“This [election] we will listen to our hope instead of our fears. This time we decide to stop doubting and to start dreaming. This [election] time, in this great country where a girl from the ‘South Side’ of Chicago can go to college and law school and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House…we have committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.”
At the end of Michelle Obama’s passionate and at times, emotional speech, Motown shut it down again with Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” The Obama’s two daughters joined their mother onstage with Senator Barack Obama, via satellite, to congratulate Michelle on a job well done. As the Obama family left the stage, another legendary Motown group, The Spinners’ “A Mighty Love,” ushered in the conclusion of the Obama campaign’s orchestrated love fest.
Did Michelle Obama’s speech Monday do the job that it was intended to do? Will voters, come November, choose Barack Obama because he is the champion of the oppressed, a loving husband and father, and the Presidential hopeful that can most effectively establish the frequently over-used word “change?” Will voters see Barack Obama as a beneficiary of the “American Dream” and a conduit to theirs? Can Barack Obama deliver on his campaign promises of universal health care and a “responsible end to the War?”
Michelle Obama would have us to believe that Barack Obama can do all of this and leap a building in a single bound.
With just the right touch of excitement in his voice, Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama made known the worst-kept secret these past forty-eight hours: Senator Joseph Biden is Obama’s Democratic Vice Presidential choice. The six term senator from Delaware appeared to be overjoyed as he joined Barack Obama on stage in Springfield, Illinois, for what will be their only joint rally appearance.
In his introductory speech, Obama called Senator Biden “one of the finest public servants of our time.” Obama also stated that he was looking for “a man with a distinguished record. A man with fundamental decency. That man is Joe Biden…he is completely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.”
In a noticeable slam against current Vice President Cheney, Obama said that “instead of secret energy task forces stacked with big oil and a vice president that twists the facts and shut the American people out…I know that Joe Biden will give us some straight talk!”
Concluding his speech, that brought back memories of the Barack Obama the nation met in 2004 at the Democratic Convention, Obama emphatically pontificated:
“Now with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident we can take this country in a new direction…we are ready to overcome the adversity of the last eight years. We won’t just win this election in November, we will restore that fair shot at your dreams that is at the core of who Joe Biden is and what I am and what America is as a nation.”
Yeah. The uproar has begun. Wednesday on “The View”, moderator Whoopie Goldberg passionately commented on the way Michelle Obama carries herself. Whoopie complimented Michelle Obama, wife of presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, by suggesting that Michelle Obama persona is a breath of fresh air, for a sista of the chocolate hue. Whoopie then mentioned that most sistas of the chocolate hue are portrayed on television as ghetto…wearing grills on their teeth, not able to string along a sentence, without class, basically.
Now, I admit that Michelle Obama always steps out of the house on point and fabulous. Whenever she is on television, she is stunning and beautiful. And I do admit, to a certain extent, that it IS refreshing to see a chocolate sista representing sistas like me. I mean, I do occassionally get tired of seeing Beyonce’, Mariah, Rhianna, Vanessa and other latte’ sistas getting the lime light. I say occasionally. I’m not a hater. My flesh and blood sister is a latte’ sista and I love her dearly.
But the uproar over Whoopi’s comments makes zero sense. The media, the cable and radio sector, have taken her comments and blown them out of proportion. Whoopie, herself a chocolate brownie sista, was only making the point that nowadays, sistas of the chocolate hue are being unfairly pigeoned-holed by the broadcast media in a negative light. In fact, within our own culture, African Americans have a nasty habit of showing preferential treatment to those of us with a light complexion.
I wasn’t insulted or taken aback by what Whoopie said about Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama not only makes me, a chocolate brownie sista proud, but she makes ALL OF US SISTAS PROUD.
And soon…she will make all women in this country PROUD.
Friday afternoon, journalism stalwart Tim Russert died of a massive heart attack. He was fifty-eight. The moderator of the longest running television show, “Meet The Press,” Tim Russert infused new life and energy into “Meet The Press” more than seventeen years ago.
More than just a moderator, Tim Russert also was Chief of the NBC Washington Bureau. Known for impartiality, fairness in reporting and a journalist who always sought out the truth, Tim Russert never hesitated or stumbled when interviewing politicians, heads of state or dignitaries. Always well-researched and thorough, Tim came prepared for every “Meet The Press” episode. He believed it was his duty to give the American public the facts…and the truth.
Fair and unbiased, Tim Russert brought a sense of balance in the world of politics. Never one to hide or shy away from issues or debates of the moment, Tim presented the good, the bad and the ugly of politics. I can not stress more the fact that Tim Russert was a fair journalist.
“Meet The Press”, Sunday mornings and Election nights will never be the same. You will be greatly missed, Tim!
If I have to hear one more political commentary on why Senator Hillary Clinton should have conceded Tuesday night, I think that I will be primed and ready to fit in a strait jacket. What really is the big hoopla about? The unification of the Democratic party? The so-called beginning of the ‘healing process’?
Even the average American voter has weighed in on this non-issue. Polls are springing up everywhere asking voters if Senator Hillary Clinton should have conceded. Many pollers are in agreement: Yes, she should have. Yet, can the average voter and political commentator understand the possible psychology and/or reasoning for why Senator Clinton made the decision that she did? No. But if you think about it for a moment, perhaps you will.
Hillary Clinton left the White House and First Lady duties back in 2001 with an agenda in place. The former First Lady carried the stinging criticisims of the Republicans about her drafted plan for nation wide health insurance. She was harassed about her non-conventional approach to being First Lady. And, who can forget the Republican witch hunt against her husband, President Bill Clinton, over his sexual indiscretions? But, Hillary Clinton had an agenda. Upon leaving the White House, the Clinton’s set up shop in New York City. Coincidence? I think not. Months later, after courting New Yorkers and rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers in residence, Hillary Clinton runs for the Senate. And wins.
All part of bigger a goal.
Fast forward to 2007. Senator Hillary Clinton is set and poised to do something no other woman in U.S. history has had the capability nor the support to do successfully. She announces her bid to run for the Democratic nomination for President of The United States. For sixteen months, Sen. Clinton ran a monumental race that was strenuous, tenacious, difficult, inspirational and long. She ran not only against Senator Barack Obama, but Clinton ran against the tide of a negative, gender biased media who disrespected her (and still does), berated her, and questioned her independence and intelligence by repeating the absurd notion that she could not stand without her husband.
All of this and now she has been labeled as some kind of selfish, cold fish who refuses to face reality. None of this is true. Let Senator Hillary Clinton decide when it is time to let go. Let Senator Clinton make peace with a plan that has gone horribly awry. She deserves her space. She has indeed earned that and so much more.
On CNN’s “American Morning” early Wednesday, BET founder Bob Johnson announced the launching of his campaign to push Senator Hillary Clinton as the prime and only candidate to share the Democratic ticket as VP with Barack Obama.
In a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, Bob Johnson wrote:
“You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton…but most important, we need to have the certainty of winning.”
Saying that he “is not pressuring” Senator Obama or the Congressional Black Caucus, Bob Johnson admits that the adding of Senator Hillary Clinton to the Democratic ticket as VP should be done if only to unify the Democratic party.
On Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama made American history by becoming the first African American to presumptively win the Democratic nomination with an astonishing 2,156 total delegate and super delegate votes to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 1,923. The total needed votes for the Democratic nomination is 2,118.
In his victory speech last night, Barack Obama graciously side-stepped his own history making accomplishment and zeroed in on the historical campaign of Senator Clinton by saying that “she has made history not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here.”
Furthering speculation that Obama could possibly be considering Clinton for VP, a spokesman for the Obama campaign acknowledged that the two spoke early Wednesday for a few minutes by phone.
According to erroneous reporting done courtesy of the Associated Press, it was leaked that Senator Hillary Clinton planned to concede and conclude her bid for the Democratic nomination for President of The United States. But, then only minutes later, an official press statement from Senator Clinton’s campaign refuted the Associated Press’ report.
Senator Hillary Clintons’s campaign remarked that in a planned speech set for Tuesday night, Clinton will acknowledge that Senator Barack Obama does indeed lead in Democratic delegate and Super delegate votes. However, Clinton will continue campaigning non stop to the end of Primary season.
Don’t count a Sista out YET!
On the heels of Senator Hillary Clinton’s primary win in Kentucky late Tuesday, analysts and critics alike are suggesting that the win was a racist one.
In an independent exit poll taken yesterday, nearly half of all Kentucky voters polled admitted that they voted for Clinton solely on the basis that she is White. The same can be positively said for West Virginia voters as well. In 2008, racial progress and forward, progressive thinking has moved at a snail’s pace in the South.
But many political analysts believe that Clinton should reject these votes based on her own moral platform that repudiates discrimination of any kind. But at this stage in the political game, is this idea plausible? Being behind Barack Obama in desired delegate votes, is it reasonable to assume that consideration of such a matter makes sense?
The answer has to be no. The mere fact that Kentucky and West Virginia are primarily predominately white states, is no definitive reason for rejecting the votes of American citizens. It is the right of every American to exercise their voting privilege. Racist or otherwise. In fact, it has been said that the only reason African American voters are voting for Obama is because he is an African American. If African Americans are in fact voting for Obama based on the color of his skin, this would indeed be classified as a sad, sad moment in our collective history.
The same can be said for White Americans who are voting for Hillary simply because she is White. The focus of this campaign should be on the issues of health care, poverty, crime, education, employment, housing, GAS and the ‘so-called’ War on Terror. If voters aren’t focused on what is truly important, then what America will get is another four years of mediocre, lack luster leadership in the White House.
Who wants that?
Tuesday, Senator Barack Obama won the state of Oregon but lost Kentucky to Democratic rival Senator Hillary Clinton. To date, Barack Obama has accumulated 1,962 delegate votes to Clinton’s 1,777. In order to secure the Democratic nomination, both candidates will need to win 2,026 votes.
Political analysts conclude that even though Obama is in the lead and the apparent front runner, it is more than likely that he will not make the total numbers allotted. Therefore, the final decision on who will be the Democratic nominee for President will be decided in August.
But this has not slowed down Senator Hillary Clinton. Despite trailing Obama in delegate votes, Senator Clinton has made no indication that she will end her campaign. With the latest win of Kentucky under her belt, Clinton vows to continue to “fight” in her quest to become the first woman President of The United States.
When Senator Barack Obama publicly announced his ‘appalled’ reaction to the statements made by his former pastor and “spiritual adviser,” Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Tuesday, did he do so because he felt political pressures forcing him to react, or was his response a heartfelt and sincere one?
By distancing himself from the public remarks given by Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Detroit over the weekend and then at the National Press Club, Senator Obama set himself up for another media sound-bite, roller-coaster. All the major cable news channels, with their so-called election ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’, still continued their angry mob rants and raves against Senator Obama and questioned his sincerity and honesty.
So, by coming out against his ‘family friend’ and ‘spiritual adviser’ and presenting the face of shock at Tuesday’s press conference, Senator Obama opened himself up to more criticism and debate. Now, the question is: Why didn’t Barack distance himself from Rev. Wright years ago? Why did he see it necessary at this point to end a relationship with Rev. Wright, a man that Obama himself labeled an ’Uncle’?
As Rev. Wright mentioned at the National Press Club, he believed that Senator Obama is guilty of ‘political posturing.’ It would seem that even though Senator Obama took offense of this critique on his persona, in all likelihood, this is the case. How do you end a relationship with such an important person in your life simply because you don’t agree with their politics?
Another key issue to note is that the Obama campaign did not have to dignify or signify anything that Rev. Wright mentioned in either of his speeches. An issue that doesn’t hold merit should not be quantified. This is where the Obama campaign made their fatal error. Believe it or not, Senator Obama lost a significant amount of the African American vote when he denounced Rev. Wright. His ‘political postering’ was evident in his denouncement. To gain the vote of White America, Senator Obama ‘postured’ brightly and radiantly.
But will that be enough? And will African American voters whom supported Obama up until yesterday, throw their weight over to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?