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.
PRESS BRIEFING BY
PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:20 P.M. EST
MR. GIBBS: Good afternoon. Before we get going on questions I just want to reiterate again that — I think most of you know that we’ll be doing a briefing call on Asia, on the Asia trip. I think as most of you all know, based on the events of last week and the changes to the President’s schedule this week, our departure to Japan will be delayed by a day. We head to Japan, spend the same amount of time there, one fewer days in Singapore, and then pick up as previously scheduled.
In terms of why, obviously the President had a fairly full schedule tomorrow, which, as you all know, has been changed to go to Fort Hood for the memorial service, where the President will speak and see victims’ families. So as I said, late last week before we tried to do a week ahead that the schedule was in some flux, and that is largely how it has come out now.
Q Can you go through the week ahead now?
Q Yes, what was on the schedule tomorrow that he’s doing Wednesday?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know exactly what got moved around. I know that obviously you’ve seen today, tomorrow almost exclusively is the trip down to Fort Hood. I think the highlight Wednesday — two highlights obviously — participating in Veterans Day activities first at the White House and then at Arlington National Cemetery. And then later in the day, there will be a meeting to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I honestly do not know when we depart on Thursday, but I should figure that out because I’ve got to pack.
Other than that, take us away.
Q Robert, is that the Sit Room meeting on Wednesday?
MR. GIBBS: Yes, sir.
Q And what number is that?
MR. GIBBS: Is it eight? Sounds like eight? I don’t honestly — it seems to have sort of — runs around.
Q What does the White House — well, one thing first, on the meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister tonight. Why is that closed, no press avail, the statements? What is the thinking there?
MR. GIBBS: Well, the President obviously is — will meet later today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss a full range of issues –
Q — want to meet with him? This meeting was –
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, as you know, our schedule since late last week has been up in the air. The President was supposed to speak on Tuesday to the same group that Prime Minister Netanyahu is speaking to. He obviously looks forward to sitting down with the Prime Minister tonight — and continue to work together to address issues like Middle East peace and the threat that’s posed by Iran.
Q And then separately, what does the White House know about any contacts by the Fort Hood shooter or ties to al Qaeda?
MR. GIBBS: Obviously, Jennifer, this is a continuing investigation that’s being led jointly by DOD and FBI. The President has been very clear with everyone that no stone should be left unturned to figure out how and why this happened, and to ensure that it never happens again. I think the FBI will have updates on their investigation later on this afternoon and I think that’s the best place to go for that information.
Q Has there been a determination about whether it was terrorist — an act of terrorism?
MR. GIBBS: I think the FBI is the best place to address that. I do not know that they have a lot more on motive, but they’ll have updates this afternoon.
Q Iran has charged three U.S. citizens with espionage. Does this expose the limits of the administration’s efforts to reach out to Tehran, and could it undermine efforts to get a nuclear deal?
MR. GIBBS: Well, let me start by saying that these three hikers — Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd — are innocent young people who should be released by the Iranian government and their release should be expedited. We have not heard confirmation through our Swiss counterparts about charges.
As it relates to Iran, I guess I would have two different — make two different points. One, this is an important — the events of the next few days and the past few days are important for Iran to contemplate as they make decisions, moving forward. They have to essentially agree to their previous agreement on the research reactor, and I think the world is watching and waiting for their conclusive decisions on that.
With how Iran is dealt with, when that decision is made, I would point you to what President Medvedev said, which was — over the weekend — which was if Iran fails to take steps in its control to demonstrate its responsibility to the world, then sanctions may be necessary.
Q So you definitely link the charging of the three citizens with espionage with why the –
MR. GIBBS: No, no, I was giving a broader answer. I think, again, notwithstanding whether or not they’ve been charged, they should be released as they’re innocent.
Q If President Obama is having the Sit Room meeting tomorrow on Af-Pak, should –
MR. GIBBS: Wednesday –
Q I’m sorry, Wednesday — should we then expect that his announcement will come after the Asia trip?
MR. GIBBS: I’ve not been told when it’s going to be, but I think it is doubtful that it will happen prior to Thursday.
Q And would it — is it conceivable that it would happen during his trip to Asia?
MR. GIBBS: Not likely, I wouldn’t think.
Q The White House reached out specifically to Congressman Cao during the health care negotiations before the vote and right before the vote. What did the White House tell the congressman?
MR. GIBBS: Well, this wasn’t — those conversations didn’t happen just this weekend. Nancy-Ann had met with him many weeks ago. He obviously is somebody who was interested in talking about what was in the President’s health reform proposal and obviously made a decision that it was in the best interest of his constituents.
Q Is there anything that — in terms of stimulus money going to New Orleans, or is there anything beyond the health care reform bill that –
MR. GIBBS: Not that I know of.
Q Not that you know? And in terms of — just one other thing on the meeting. Originally I know you guys have been –
MR. GIBBS: Which meeting?
Q I’m sorry, the announcement about the Afghanistan –
MR. GIBBS: Oh, okay.
Q Originally you guys have been shooting for before the strategy, and certainly that was not an official deadline, but you guys have been shooting for that. What’s the reason for taking a little bit more time?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I mean, I think, Jake, the President wants to make sure that, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, take the time necessary to get the decision right. We’re at a pivotal moment and I think the President wants to ensure that he has all that he needs and has heard from all that have equities in this in order to make a decision of import.
Q But what has — what could he not have gotten already? I mean, what did he not have already –
MR. GIBBS: Well, suffice to say, if he had gotten everything he needed, we probably wouldn’t be meeting on Wednesday.
Q Can you give us just an idea, though, of the kind of thing you’re talking about?
MR. GIBBS: No.
Q Are the Chiefs coming back?
MR. GIBBS: Say again? I don’t think this is specifically with Joint Chiefs. I think this is more what has been done — let me check exactly on the manifest. I think it is more in line with the groups that we had seen in here earlier.
Q But you said — I’m sorry to butt in but –
MR. GIBBS: — the Joint Chiefs later on — I don’t obviously –
Q — another one?
MR. GIBBS: — close the door on the fact that there could be more.
Q On health care, Robert, the President, in his written statement late Saturday, I believe, said again that he wants this done by the end of the year — he wants the Senate to move by the end of the year, but I don’t think I heard that in the Rose Garden yesterday. Was that just a little — like he just didn’t mention the deadline, or how firm is the deadline in terms of by the end of this year?
MR. GIBBS: It didn’t change overnight. I mean, it didn’t change from Saturday night after the vote to Sunday. So, I mean, the President still wants to get this done by the end of the year.
Q And on the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I just wanted to follow up. I understand the schedule has been in flux, but why no television cameras? Is it because you don’t want to highlight the fact that there’s not a lot of progress in these talks so far?
MR. GIBBS: No, the President wanted to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. That’s what we’re doing. I’m sure, Ed, that the contents of the meeting generally seem to be well read out and I trust that this time will be no different.
Q But typically the President will go on camera if he wants to highlight what is a key initiative for him, and if Mideast peace is that important you would think that he would want to do that.
Q Well, like the date didn’t change from Saturday night to Sunday, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the President thinks no less of the importance of the Middle East peace process on simply by subtracting one television camera.
Q And the last thing, on settlements. Last week, Secretary Clinton was in Israel, and suggested — she wanted to praise the Israelis for some progress on settlements. And the Palestinians were upset because the U.S. policy has been a complete freeze on settlements.
MR. GIBBS: Policy dating back several decades, yes.
Q Right, but specifically it was emphasized in the early days of this administration. And the Palestinians felt like maybe there were some back-peddling. Can you just clear up — there was a sense that she seemed to be shifting last week.
MR. GIBBS: No, no, again, I judge from your question — the policy of the United States government for many decades has been no more settlements. That’s not something that is new to this administration. It’s something that I think has gotten disproportionate media coverage, but it’s not a policy difference in this administration and previous administrations.
Q Thank you. On the health care bill, does — the President supports, endorses, whatever you want to call it, the House bill. He’s made that very clear. Does he support the abortion funding restrictions in the House bill?
MR. GIBBS: The President, Chip, as you know, went to Capitol Hill to rally support for the bill. That bill is now through the House, which we’re quite pleased about. The Senate, once we get budget numbers from CBO, will become — that will move to the Senate floor. I don’t doubt that you’ll have a somewhat different bill. That’s the way this process works, and we’ll iron out differences as they come.
Q What’s his position on abortion funding restrictions?
MR. GIBBS: I think you heard the President in front of Congress several months ago, and we’ll continue to make progress.
Q So then he wouldn’t support anything like the provision that’s in the House bill?
MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to become a negotiator from Capitol Hill — on Capitol Hill from the podium.
Q Would he accept something that goes beyond what the Hyde amendment does?
MR. GIBBS: We will wait to see what health care reform brings.
Q So there could be something then in the end that goes beyond current law in restricting abortion funding?
MR. GIBBS: Chip, I wish we were having this conversation as the last part of this process, but as your network and others have pointed out, there are miles to go before we sleep.
Q Can I follow up on the Fort Hood — the President is getting briefed how frequently on that and by whom?
MR. GIBBS: Certainly as developments warrant, and again, the President’s daily briefing this morning in the Oval began with an update on the situation in Fort Hood.
Q Is there any concern with going down there — I know often when Presidents go places, hurricane zones and things like that — was there any concern that by going he could interfere with all of his entourage and security, could interfere in this investigation?
MR. GIBBS: No. And as we talked about late last week, I think Friday, this was — obviously the President wanted to go, but wanted to do it at a time that was most convenient for the families of the victims. As I said, families are coming in from all over the country, and we wanted to make sure that our schedule was worked around their schedule. But I have heard nothing to suggest that there were any concerns with his presence on the way down there tomorrow.
Q Robert, one quick question on Afghanistan. There have been reports that he’s waiting for another set of recommendations, or a set of recommendations, from the Pentagon. Do you know — is that true? And has he received that set of recommendations, an additional –
MR. GIBBS: I think — I don’t know what additional recommendations he’s gotten. I know the Pentagon was working on additional recommendations.
Q You don’t know if he’s received those yet?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know.
Q So it could be a ways off, if he hasn’t even received this next round of recommendations.
MR. GIBBS: Other than to characterize it as in the coming weeks, I don’t have any further guidance.
Q Will he keep working on it while he’s in Asia?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think there’s no doubt that this is a topic that will be addressed in some of the meetings that he has throughout the trip. I think, along with things like Iran and non-proliferation and North Korea, I think in meeting with people throughout the trip, this will certainly be a topic.
I mean, obviously — I mean, for one, the Japanese obviously have been — have given generously in finances for the training of an Afghan national security force. So this will –
Q — you think he’ll actually work on his decision on –
MR. GIBBS: Oh, absolutely. The President spends time on this each and every day, regardless of where he is.
Q On the Fort Hood investigation, does the White House believe that at some point they will have to be the final arbiter on who takes the lead in the investigation or who prosecutes — who takes the lead on the prosecution, Justice or the military?
MR. GIBBS: I have not heard a discussion about that.
Q Right now it’s still a joint investigation. When you say it’s the FBI and the military working together, it’s a joint investigation. This has to do with the death penalty and the various –
MR. GIBBS: Truthfully, Chuck, I don’t — I have not heard a discussion about that part of it. The notion of obviously a joint investigation — during the initial incident, the Department of Defense called the FBI, and the investigation at that juncture was run jointly by the FBI and the DOD. I have not, though, heard discussions of who brings charges and where.
Q So we could be days away from that, weeks away from that? There’s just no –
MR. GIBBS: Weeks away from –
Q From charges being –
MR. GIBBS: I mean, obviously — yes, I would point you to either one of those institutions.
Q Neither one — the Justice Department or the Department of Defense — hasn’t asked the White House to make a jurisdictional decision?
MR. GIBBS: No. Certainly not that I’m aware of, no.
Q On health care, what is the Christmas deadline? Is the Christmas deadline to get a bill on the President’s desk to sign, or is the Christmas deadline to get a bill out of the Senate and out of the House?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I can assure you if we get a bill out of the Senate and the House somewhere around Christmas, the President won’t take a lot of time in trying to sign it.
Q No, I understand that, but the separate bill. I’m talking about the separate Senate — if this deadline –
MR. GIBBS: Well, we want to get health care done by the end of the year.
Q You mean signed?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, if it gets to his desk, I can assure you there’s not a huge amount of gap between when it gets here –
MR. GIBBS: No, no, I understand, I understand. Understand if I say he’s going to sign it, let’s assume conference has happened, right? Let’s assume we’ve got a bill that is ready for the President to –
Q Is that a realistic –
MR. GIBBS: I’m just a bill.
Q Is that a realistic deadline or are you guys ramping up pressure on Senator Reid to make this deadline?
MR. GIBBS: No, no, we’ve been doing this for how many months?
Q And we’ve had different deadlines –
MR. GIBBS: And when we say the end of the year, we’ve got a pretty firm end-of-the-year deadline.
Q And this is to sign a bill end of the year, but to get a bill –
MR. GIBBS: How much clearer could I be? Seriously, how much clearer could I be? Do you think it’s ambiguous?
Q Have the deadlines gotten moved?
MR. GIBBS: I’ve just answered this question three times, right?
Q The deadline is the end of the year to sign?
MR. GIBBS: Please send a transcript to [MR. TODD’S EMAIL REDACTED].
Q All right, all right. So that means — I mean, I just –
MR. GIBBS: I just answered this three times, Chuck. Three times. The President — let me do this just so I’m clear, all right. I don’t know if you want to alert the networks to break in. The President wants to sign health care before the end of the year. Anybody have a follow-up?
Q I do.
Q I just have one question.
Q Jonathan? (Laughter.)
Q On the trip schedule, the President had intended to leave initially on Wednesday. That was always going to be Veterans Day, and I’m confused why he’s not leaving on Wednesday now.
MR. GIBBS: Because all of what he was going to do Tuesday, while he travels to Texas is now going to take place either crammed into later today or crammed into the latter half of Wednesday past what had previously been scheduled as a breakfast here and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery.
Q It’s not because he’s — he wants to stay in — he was going to do those Veterans Day events before he left anyway?
MR. GIBBS: Absolutely. No, the two events that were always on his schedule prior to leaving at that point on Wednesday would have been — I think it’s a closed-press breakfast here before traveling to Arlington late morning.
Q Okay. And back on the abortion question. Candidate Obama campaigned as a pro-choice Democrat. This was a big debate between he and Hillary Clinton, who was more pro-choice.
MR. GIBBS: I don’t completely remember that debate, but go ahead.
Q But anyway, he was a pro-choice Democrat and now he’s — the House has passed some of the strictest legislation restricting abortion that we’ve seen in a very long time. I mean, can Barack Obama, who campaigned as a pro-choice Democrat, sign legislation with this language?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Jonathan, we’ll — ask me that right before Christmas and the end of the New Year.
Q Robert, did the FBI director brief the President today on Fort Hood?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know if the — I don’t know if Director Mueller was here today in the PDB. He was — I want to make sure I got my dates right — he was here –
MR. GIBBS: Thursday night was the first meeting. It was about 6:20 p.m. that evening. Director Mueller was in that meeting with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen the day of the shooting and was part of the PDB, the extended PDB, on Friday morning. I don’t know if — I don’t believe he was over here this morning, but let me double-check.
Q On health care, does the President believe that a single Republican vote makes the House passed bill bipartisan?
MR. GIBBS: By definition.
Q No, really.
MR. GIBBS: Mark, I don’t doubt that the President hopes, or wished that more Republicans would recognize that there are people in their districts that they represent, as we’ve talked about, that are suffering from the skyrocketing cost of health care; who own small businesses that have to either let workers go or drop the insurance coverage that they want to provide; or that represent many that are discriminated against by the practices of insurance companies. Look, the President would love for this to be — to pass unanimously. He understands that for whatever reason, some in the party have decided to make a political statement about this.
Q I noticed that both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell used the word “monstrosity” to believe the bill passed on Saturday night. How do you bridge a gap like that, when they’re using a word of that –
MR. GIBBS: Who was it?
Q Both McConnell and Boehner.
MR. GIBBS: Well, remember, Boehner announced his opposition to this three months ago. So the notion that he thinks that –
Q Well, you can be against something without regarding it as a “monstrosity.”
MR. GIBBS: Yes, but again, he — when in the process three months you’ve decided you’re against the bill, I’m not sure that there’s anything the President can say or do that’s ever going to convince somebody like that, that — despite the fact that on the House and the Senate side, Republican ideas have become part of the bill; despite the fact that even when Republican members came back from recess in early September after spending most of August at home, you heard statements like the American people understand we have to address the issue of health care reform; or you see poll after poll done by many of you guys that show the American people want to see something done this year. I don’t know how many more different data points of evidence you need to understand that this is a continual problem that the American people have faced, and it has to be addressed.
Q May I ask a follow-up on the bill signing question?
MR. GIBBS: Sure.
Q Thank you. One other option, although nobody wants it, is for Congress to attach a health care bill to an omnibus budget reconciliation bill just like they did with COBRA. If that’s the only way it could get to the President’s desk, would he sign that as well?
MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously the President wants the process to move forward, as it’s doing. And as continue to make progress, we don’t see any need to change the process.
Q But what if you don’t make progress?
MR. GIBBS: Then we’ll look at alternatives.
Q Is the President going to have remarks at Arlington on Wednesday after the wreath laying?
MR. GIBBS: That I don’t honestly know, but I will double-check.
Q And will there be a readout after the Netanyahu meeting tonight?
MR. GIBBS: Yes, we can get you a readout.
Q To everybody?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q To revisit Iowa briefly and the pro-choice debate that went on there, there were those in the Hillary Clinton camp who said because then-state senator Obama voted “present” on some votes, he was insuffiently pro-choice, and that was sort of fought out a little bit —
MR. GIBBS: Oh, that’s what you’re talking about. I mean, I think that was –
Q I’m just saying it came up.
MR. GIBBS: I think that was handled by people that the President had worked with, representing those groups, which largely dismissed that argument.
Q Which leads me to the question now — some of those groups — NARAL and Planned Parenthood — have condemned the language in the House bill and want it repealed. Does the White House agree or disagree with NARAL and Planned Parenthood’s interpretation of the bill currently?
MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to get deeply into this, except to say that we will work on this and continue to seek consensus and common ground.
Q In pursuit of what — just passing the bill?
MR. GIBBS: Health care reform.
Q Okay. But not resolving abortion to the satisfaction of NARAL or Planned Parenthood?
MR. GIBBS: I think this obviously is something that will have to be addressed in order to get to that point.
Q Does the President agree with Army Chief of Staff Casey who said yesterday, “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think the President agrees with General Casey that — look, having sat through the meeting with the Joint Chiefs, there is tremendous pride for an all-volunteer armed forces in this country. That’s I think a pride shared by the Joint Chiefs as well as the Commander-in-Chief. And there are people of many different ethnicities and many different religions that serve with great honor and distinction in our military today, and the President certainly hopes that that continues.
Q To the families who might wonder if that diversity is so important that it’s — losing it would be worse than losing their own family member, do you understand how some might think that is elevating diversity over human life or –
MR. GIBBS: I do not believe that in any way, shape, or form that’s what General Casey was saying.
Q And you would not want anyone to jump to that conclusion –
MR. GIBBS: I wouldn’t, no.
Q Okay. On climate change, the heavy negotiations for the United Nations and the EU have now become somewhat more publicly vocal in their criticism of the administration in their interpretation it’s not working hard enough to bring climate change legislation and an agreement to Copenhagen, to have something that’s substantive that can be a part of the overall negotiations. A, how do you react to that? And B, does the President need, does the administration need Senate passage of a climate change bill to seek a deal within the confines of the U.N. climate change talks?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t give those comments a whole lot of credence. We are closer to an energy and climate bill becoming law than has ever — we’ve ever gotten with the passage of it through the House of Representatives. And the notion that one country stands in the way of addressing climate change would be to forget countries like China, India, Brazil, and others that have to also be brought along in this process. So with all due respect, I don’t give those comments a whole lot of credence.
Q The Af-Pak meeting that’s on Wednesday, was that originally scheduled for Tuesday?
MR. GIBBS: I believe it was, but the schedule obviously — we knew fairly — we knew on Thursday the schedule for Friday and the remainder of the days before the trip would change. I don’t know if it originally was today or whether it was going to be on Tuesday.
Q And can you talk a little bit about what he’s going to do down in Fort Hood? Is there time set aside to meet families?
MR. GIBBS: There — and this is preliminary and we’re working on getting more as the schedule itself changes — the President will meet with families of those that lost a loved one last week, as well as speak to the larger memorial that will take place at the base and address a community obviously saddened and stricken by the events of last week.
Q Is the First Lady going to do anything separate from him?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that. I know she’s with him. My sense is she will be with him when he sees the families.
Q And in terms of the investigation itself, leaving the details to the FBI and military investigators, does the White House view the suspect as a terrorism suspect at this point? Or is this somebody who is a lone figure?
MR. GIBBS: That should be addressed by the FBI. That’s who has equities in all of that.
Q Robert, may I ask a follow-up on the Fort Hood questions?
MR. GIBBS: Sure.
Q It has been reported today that the suspect in the Fort Hood shooting is now conscious as of this afternoon. Do you know if law enforcement has begun to ask questions of him regarding causes or motives, or any of the circumstances regarding these acts?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know if interviews have begun. Obviously, to say the least, law enforcement are eager to talk. And I think that’s obviously part of the reason why this is a continuing investigation where we still need information to draw firm conclusions.
Q Robert, I know we’ve got a conference call this afternoon, but I just need to ask you very briefly about the trip. In general terms, it’s been asserted that the President is going to a region where countries are increasingly assertive and not so reflexively — I don’t want to say submissive, but they don’t — they don’t reflexively agree to America’s view, especially a place like Japan with a new government; China, which of course, has been increasing economic — does the President subscribe to that view? Does he worry about that?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that is — I guess I’ll leave it at this. I think the President believes obviously that many of the places he’s going to and the leaders that he’ll see — I mean, keep in mind we’ll meet with President Medvedev as part of this. So he’ll meet with leaders in places that we’re not necessarily stopping on — that he believes that the United States and these countries have a series of mutual interests, and that by working together, we can make progress on those mutual interests.
As it relates to what you said a minute ago, I think if you look back at where people predicted different efforts would be, remember, right after the North Koreans test-fired their long-range — test-fired a long-range missile, it was widely presumed that there was nothing that could be done to address those actions, largely because the U.N. Security Council wouldn’t address the geopolitics of certain countries. It took a couple of weeks of tough diplomacy, but Susan Rice and the United Nations worked out a unanimous Security Council resolution to address what happened in North Korea.
I think if you look at where we are with Iran, we’ve never been at a point that we are now, unified with the P5-plus-1. So I think the President understands that each country has interests, and where we have mutual interests we can work together to make progress.
Q Robert, a follow-up. What’s on the agenda for the meeting with Medvedev?
MR. GIBBS: Obviously we’ll continue to talk through issues that they’ve spent time working on, most notably the START Treaty that expires I believe the 5th of December, and continue discussions about North Korea and Iran.
Q Robert, I have a question on Fort Hood and also abortion. I understand you’re leaving the determination of whether this was an act of terrorism up to the FBI. But what is the White House’s definition of an act of terrorism?
MR. GIBBS: I’m not a law enforcement official, Mara. This obviously is a continuing investigation, and if you’ve got questions about where that investigation is, I think the FBI is going to –
Q — I just want to know if there is a definition of an act of terrorism that you –
MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to get into the back-and-forth of this.
Q All right. One other question about the House vote. The President has been pretty clear all along that in terms of abortion he thought the status quo should be left untouched; in other words, the Hyde amendment should stand. Does he believe that the Stupak amendment enshrines Hyde, in terms of the health care exchanges, or goes beyond it?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I’m going to leave the answer –
Q I’m not asking if you’re for or against.
MR. GIBBS: No, I understand –
Q I just want to know what you think it does.
MR. GIBBS: I understand. I’m going to leave it at the earlier answer that we’re going to continue to work through and make progress on these issues.
Q Robert, as far as you know, has the President decided on number of troops, additional troops he’d like to send to Afghanistan?
MR. GIBBS: No, no. Despite the many chances to read otherwise throughout the weekend. Safe to say if he’d made a decision, I think we could free up at least part of his Wednesday.
Q What about a proportional breakdown between trainers, for example, and combat troops, anything like that –
MR. GIBBS: No, no.
Q — or any thought to where they might come from?
MR. GIBBS: Well, thought from where they might come from?
Q Fort Campbell comes to mind.
MR. GIBBS: Oh, I mean, look, I think — I mean, obviously there’s — we know where very specialized troops are, but I don’t think that the President has — I doubt we’ve have gotten to identifying what fort they’re at without getting to a number.
Q Also, just to circle back to something you said earlier, is the President consulting outside groups or particular people outside the Situation Room to talk about the Afghanistan review strategy?
MR. GIBBS: Well, let me make sure I understand. Is he having discussions outside of the meetings, or is he talking to participants throughout the process that are different than just those in the meeting itself?
Q Yes. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Wait a minute, that’s my answer. I know that the President has had occasion to talk about the issue of Afghanistan outside of that — outside of those meetings and outside of just those participants, yes.
Q Robert, outside government –
MR. GIBBS: Yes. Outside — yes.
Q — different countries?
MR. GIBBS: At some point obviously there will be very fulsome discussions with our NATO partners. I don’t know if we’re at that point in the process.
Q Is India among them?
MR. GIBBS: I wouldn’t get into listing details.
Q Robert, a question on circulation? On circulation?
MR. GIBBS: That’s a seemingly — hold on, Lester, before I take the premise of your — we could go into health care, we could go into newspapers, we could go into –
Q Yes, yes.
MR. GIBBS: Yes. (Laughter.)
Q What is the President’s — the first — what is the President’s reaction —
MR. GIBBS: I didn’t agree to two, but I’m happy to try with one.
Q Thank you.
MR. GIBBS: We’ll circulate an answer.
Q We had 10 up here. But what is the President’s reaction to the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s report that in the six months ending on September the 30th, American daily newspapers, most of which are liberal and pro-Obama — (laughter) — fell 10 points –
MR. GIBBS: Have you read The Washington Post today? Have you read The Washington Post any day?
Q I do, every day. I always keep an eye on the enemy.
MR. GIBBS: What did you say?
Q I always keep an eye on the enemy.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I’ll give them an equal amount of time and a microphone of sufficient size to respond. (Laughter.)
Look, obviously the President is a voracious consumer of news, likes to read newspapers every day. I would — I think if you pick up many of the newspapers with which you discussed — I notice that there was an article in The New York Times today about the circulation drop in the New York Post, and I’m not sure I would categorize that as a liberal pro-Obama newspaper. And please, would you just — if you can cc your question to Fred Hiatt I’m happy to have a conversation about the liberalism –
Q One follow-up, because they had 10. They had 10.
MR. GIBBS: Was that one? Does that count as one?
Q What was the President’s reaction to the more than 2,000-page health care bill which so few congressmen read being passed by only five votes and costing more than a trillion dollars, on which 39 Democrats voted no?
MR. GIBBS: He could not be more pleased. (Laughter.)
Q What is your circulation?
MR. GIBBS: Spotty at best. (Laughter.)
Q On health care reform –
MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.
Q — does consensus and common ground negate the original mandate to cover all Americans?
MR. GIBBS: I’m sorry, say that one more time.
Q Does consensus and common ground negate the original mandate to cover all Americans?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President believes that and in order to get certainly many of the important insurance reforms that the President has discussed, covering all Americans is a must.
Q Now, also on Fort Hood, the suspect, has he — has this White House gotten information from federal agents or the Army that he was considered a conscientious objector –
MR. GIBBS: Again, I would point you to the FBI with specific questions about the investigation.
Q And then back on the issue of terror — not terrorizing, terrorism, just terror — the definition of terror: “one that instills intense fear; also the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group” – also, one more – “panic, an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety.” These people at Fort Hood went through those feelings. We clearly saw it. Would you classify, from the definitions that I gave —
MR. GIBBS: Again, I’m not a law enforcement official, April. I will say this. I think the entire country from — certainly from the very first reports that we got about this, and my communications about that with the President, we have — I think everybody has been shocked and dismayed at what happened, and pass our thoughts, our prayers, and our condolences on to those who suffered loss for loved ones in this incident.
Q Do you believe there was terror there at least? Could you at least say terror?
MR. GIBBS: I’ve now had three opportunities to be a law enforcement officer.
Q — but I’m serious, from the definitions.
MR. GIBBS: No, no, I’m not — if you have investigation questions, the FBI is the place.
Q Thanks, Robert. First, two questions. One, on health care. Could you say to what degree the White House will get involved in negotiations in the Senate regarding the provisions, whether it’s going to be the abortion provision or the public option?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think the White House obviously has spent a lot of time — staff work every day with Capitol Hill, and I’m sure when Senator Reid and others want our opinion on different ideas, they’ll ask for them.
Q And another question, this is regarding actually — a Tony Blankley column from a week or so back, made a comparison –
MR. GIBBS: Tony –
Q Tony Blankley.
MR. GIBBS: Oh, okay, I thought you said Tony Blinken — I was going to say, I didn’t know the Vice President’s National Security Advisor was writing columns. Go ahead, I’m sorry. I was getting a flashback for a moment — speaking of circulation. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
Q It does pertain to national security, actually. He made a comparison with the long investigation into the CIA leak in the previous administration and that similar legal issues could apply in the CIA leak from “political officials” in a news story about Karzai’s brother working for the CIA. My question is, is the Justice Department going to look into this matter? And would there possibly be a special prosecutor in this case, as well?
MR. GIBBS: I have heard nothing about that, but if you have a question about that I’d ask the Department of Justice.
Q Thank you, Robert.
Q Something on climate change — Reuters just is reporting that the EPA has sent over its final proposal on carbon dioxide, whether it should be regulated as a dangerous — sent it to the White House. A, can you confirm that? And B, how would that fit within the conversation we were having earlier about administration steps on climate change?
MR. GIBBS: Well, certainly we can check. I think there was a — look, there’s a court order, right — there’s a Supreme Court order that this is an issue that has to be dealt with. The President has said throughout this process that the way to deal with this is through legislation. I would point out that many people in the newspaper this morning that work for or CEOs of power companies that said, this also ought to be addressed through legislation. That’s what we’re trying to do and that’s what we hope to do.
Q Thank you, Robert.
Statement of President Barack Obama On Historic House Passage Of The Affordable Health Care For America Act
Statement of President Barack Obama on House Passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act
Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don’t; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.
Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.
The Tampa Bay area has seen two horrific acts of inhumane violence perpetrated on young children. The following story is one that has been nationally reported.
21 year old Richard Anthony McTear obviously didn’t get the memo. Unfortunately, African American young men on a large scale have in fact ignored the memo. What memo? The one that announced that President Barack Obama is the first African American to hold the highest office in the land and that is something to be proud of. Not only that, it is something to aspire to. If becoming president is not in the cards, how about being a productive citizen?
Richard Anthony McTear is accused of violently beating Jasmine Bedwell, then throwing his ex-girlfriend’s four month old son out of a moving Impala while speeding down I-275. McTear broke into his former girlfriend’s apartment, beat her, took the baby, slammed him into the concrete flooring of the home, and then ran off with the child.
Jasmine Bedwell, 17, started dating McTear ten months ago. Bedwell was at the time pregnant but McTear was not the father. The relationship was a domestic violence nightmare. Neighbors reported that it was not unusual to see see the teen with bruises and black eyes. Bedwell had pressed charges against McTear and in fact was scheduled to appear in court on Monday, but failed to show up. Tuesday Richard Anthony McTear killed her child as he had threatened to do on numerous occasions.
You have to wonder when you hear cases like this why the mother, Miss Bedwell, didn’t appear in court to put her abuser behind bars? Why is it almost impossible for women, young women, to realize that their abuser/attacker will kill them or their loved ones somewhere down the road?
It is maddening to comprehend what that young mother is going through at this time. Yet, the real question lies in the fact that obviously Bedwell and other young women like her, are making tragic decisions in the areas of love and relationships. McTear is a career criminal and started his life of crime at the age of 14. What is appealing about that? McTear was unemployed. Doesn’t take a degree from MIT to guess why that is.
From the looks of it, this was a young man that should have been avoided on all counts. But what the true heart of this tragedy is crying out to all women, especially young women, is that lack of good judgement skills can do more harm than good. Young women need to learn why it is important to love themselves first and foremost. When this love is nurtured, a man like Richard Anthony McTear doesn’t even enter on the radar screen.
It is sad that Jasmine Bedwell had to learn a hard lesson. Be cautious as to whom is allowed around children. Women need to be discriminative and proactive in the people within ones orbit, tragedies such as this one can be avoided.
Showing up to court dates and hearings to cage animals that pose as human beings are more than necessary to protect the world at large from predators and insane criminals like McTear.
And…when asked why he killed his ex’s four month old baby, he said two things: “Its a cruel world” and “It’s a dirty game.”
EXCERPTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S OPENING REMARKS AT TONIGHT’S NEWS CONFERENCE
As Prepared for Delivery
We are continuing to closely monitor the emerging cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last one hundred days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I have also said that we cannot go back to an economy that is built on a pile of sand – on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards; on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allowed the recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of us all.
We must lay a New Foundation for growth – a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
So we are off to a good start. But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied. Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high. Government is still not as efficient as it should be. We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to pandemic flu. And all of this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days, and the third hundred days, and all the days after.
So we have plenty of work left to do. It is work that will take time. It will take effort. But the United States of America will see a better day. We will rebuild a stronger nation. And we will endure as a beacon for all those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that this is a place where all is possible.
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice might soon discover the steep price she’ll have to pay for playing with the wrong politcal team. If certain politcal forces have their way, Rice and other members of the Bush administartion who signed off on questionable interrogation techniques more than likely will face prosecution.
With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee documents on the Bush administrations supposedly legally sanctioned interrogation procedures, questions have surfaced as to how “legal” these interogation techniques really were. President Obama put an end to the U.S. policy last week. Some of the prescribed tools of the U.S. torture machine were water boarding, which simulated drowning, sleep deprivation and enclosure in a container with insects.
The Bush administration, or more accurately, former vice president Dick Cheney, has vehemently defended the interrogation techiniques as a means of keeping America safe. However, the U.S. has always held a zero tolerance position on the use of torture since WWII. Yet, as with many things during the Bush administration, the law was circumvented to accomplish a misrepresented goal.
That is where Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney come into the picture. When the Bush administration’s interpretation of interrogation techniques were legally questioned by the Justice department during a meeting with the Director of Central Intelligence, in the spring of 2003, Cheney and then National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice signed off on the controversial methods.
As usual, then Secretary of State General Colin Powell was left out of the loop.
The Obama administration, while being open about its’ views on the newly reinstated U.S. policy against torture, officials remain noncommittal as to if and when charges will be brought against key members in the Bush camp. That would also include Rice. Attorney General Eric Holder says that he will “follow the evidence wherever it takes us.”
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***
Obama: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.
This morning, we woke up to more sobering news about the state of our economy. The 240,000 jobs lost in October marks the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs. In total, we’ve lost nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, and more than 10 million Americans are now unemployed.
Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes. Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we’re going to have to act swiftly to resolve it.
Now, the United States has only one government and one president at a time. And until January 20th of next year, that government is the current administration.
I’ve spoken to President Bush. I appreciate his commitment to ensuring that his economic policy team keeps us fully informed as developments unfold. And I’m also thankful for his invitation to the White House.
Immediately after I become president, I’m going to confront this economic crisis head on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity.
They will help to guide the work of my transition team, working with Rahm Emanuel, my chief of staff, in developing a strong set of policies to respond to this crisis. We discussed in the earlier meeting several of the most immediate challenges facing our economy and key priorities on which to focus on in the days and weeks ahead. Watch Obama lay out his economic plan »
First of all, we need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provide relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear.
A particularly urgent priority is a further extension of unemployment insurance benefits for workers who cannot find work in the increasingly weak economy.
A fiscal stimulus plan that will jump-start economic growth is long overdue. I’ve talked about it throughout this — the last few months of the campaign. We should get it done.
Second, we have to address the spreading impact of the financial crisis on the other sectors of our economy: small businesses that are struggling to meet their payrolls and finance their holiday inventories; and state and municipal governments facing devastating budget cuts and tax increases.
We must also remember that the financial crisis is increasingly global and requires a global response.
The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces, hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry.
The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America.
And I was glad to be joined today by Governor Jennifer Granholm, who obviously has great knowledge and great interest on this issue.
I’ve asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose.
Third, we will review the implementation of this administration’s financial program to ensure that the government’s efforts are achieving their central goal of stabilizing financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners, and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance.
It is absolutely critical that the Treasury work closely with the FDIC, HUD, and other government agencies to use the substantial authority that they already have to help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.
Finally, as we monitor and address these immediate economic challenges, we will be moving forward in laying out a set of policies that will grow our middle class and strengthen our economy in the long term. We cannot afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education, and tax relief for middle-class families.
My transition team will be working on each of these priorities in the weeks ahead, and I intend to reconvene this advisory board to discuss the best ideas for responding to these immediate problems.
Let me close by saying this. I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead. We have taken some major action to date, and we will need further action during this transition and subsequent months.
Some of the choices that we make are going to be difficult. And I have said before and I will repeat again: It is not going to be quick, and it is not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in.
But America is a strong and resilient country. And I know we will succeed, if we put aside partisanship and politics and work together as one nation. That’s what I intend to do.
With that, let me open it up for some questions. And I’m going to start right here with you.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. I wonder what you think any president can accomplish during their first 100 days in office to turn the economy around? How far can you go? And what will be your priorities on day one?
Obama: Well, I think that a new president can do an enormous amount to restore confidence, to move an agenda forward that speaks to the needs of the economy and the needs of middle-class families all across the country.
I’ve outlined during the course of the campaign some critical issues that I intend to work on.
We have a current financial crisis that is spilling out into rest of the economy, and we have taken some action so far. More action is undoubtedly going to be needed. My transition team is going to be monitoring very closely what happens over the course of the next several months.
The one thing I can say with certainty is that we are going to need to see a stimulus package passed either before or after inauguration.
We are going to have to focus on jobs, because the hemorrhaging of jobs has an impact, obviously, on consumer confidence and the ability of people to — to buy goods and services and can have enormous spillover effects.
And I think it’s going to be very important for us to provide the kinds of assistance to state and local governments to make sure that they don’t compound some of the problems that are already out there by having to initiate major layoffs or initiate tax increases.
So there are some things that we know we’re going to have to do, but I’m confident that a new president can have an enormous impact. That’s why I ran for president.
Question: (off-mike) … from House Democrats that the stimulus package may be in trouble, that it’s going to be a hard time getting out of a lame-duck session. Are you still confident that you would be able to get something done before you actually take office?
Obama: I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later. If it does not get done in the lame-duck session, it will be the first thing I get done as president of the United States.
Question: Senator, for the first time since the Iranian revolution, the president of Iran sent a congratulations note to a new U.S. president. I’m wondering if, first of all, if you responded to President Ahmadinejad’s note of congratulations and, second of all, and more importantly, how soon do you plan on sending low-level envoys to countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, to see if a presidential-level talk would be productive?
Obama: I am aware that the letter was sent. Let me state — repeat what I stated during the course of the campaign.
Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. And we have to mount a international effort to prevent that from happening.
Iran’s support of terrorist organizations I think is something that has to cease.
I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately. It’s only been three days since the election. Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee- jerk fashion. I think we’ve got to think it through.
But I have to reiterate once again that we only have one president at a time. And I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won’t be until January 20th.
Question: Picking up what we were just talking about, your meeting with President Bush on Monday. When — he is still the decider, obviously, stating the obvious. When you disagree with decisions he makes, will you defer? Will you challenge? Will you confront? And if it becomes confrontational, could that rattle the markets even more?
Obama: Well, President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I to — to meet with him and First Lady Laura Bush. We are gratified by the invitation. I’m sure that, in addition to taking a tour of the White House, there’s going to be a substantive conversation between myself and the president.
I’m not going to anticipate problems. I’m going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship and a sense that both the president and various leaders in Congress all recognize the severity of the situation right now and want to get stuff done.
And, you know, undoubtedly there may end up being differences between not just members of different parties, but between people within the same party.
The critical point and I think the critical tone that has to be struck by all of us involved right now is the American people need help. This economy is in bad shape. And we have just completed one of the longest election cycles in recorded history.
Now is a good time for us to set politics aside for a while and think practically about what will actually work to move the economy forward. And it’s in that spirit that I’ll have the conversation with the president.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. With the country facing two wars and a financial crisis, do you think it’s important for you to move especially quickly to fill key cabinet posts, such as treasury secretary and secretary of state?
Obama: When we have an announcement about cabinet appointments, we will make them. There is no doubt that I think people want to know who’s going to make up our team.
And I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize “deliberate” as well as “haste.” I’m proud of the choice I made of vice president, partly because we did it right. I’m proud of the choice of chief of staff, because we thought it through.
And I think it’s very important, in all these key positions, both in the economic team and the national security team, to — to get it right and not to be so rushed that you end up making mistakes.
I’m confident that we’re going to have an outstanding team, and we will be rolling that out in subsequent weeks.
Question: Yes, sir. To what extent — to what extent are you planning to use your probably pretty great influence in determining the successor for your Senate seat? And what sort of criteria should the governor be looking at in filling that position?
Obama: This is the governor’s decision; it is not my decision.
And I think that the criteria that I would have for my successor would be the same criteria that I’d have if I were a voter: somebody who is capable; somebody who is passionate about helping working families in Illinois meet their — meet their dreams.
And I think there are going to be a lot of good choices out there, but it is the governor’s decision to make, not mine.
Question: Mr. President-elect …
Obama: What happened to your arm, Lynn?
Question: I cracked my shoulder running to your speech on election night.
Obama: Oh, no.
Obama: I think that was the only major incident during the — the entire Grant Park celebration.
Question: Thank you for asking. Here’s my question. I’m wondering what you’re doing to get ready. Have you spoke to any living ex-presidents, what books you might be reading?
Everyone wants to know, what kind of dog are you going to buy for your girls? Have you decided on a private or public school for your daughters?
Obama: Let — let me list those off.
In terms of speaking to former presidents, I’ve spoken to all of them that are living. Obviously, President Clinton — I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.
I have re-read some of Lincoln’s writings, who’s always an extraordinary inspiration.
And, by the way, President Carter, President Bush, Sr., as well as the current president have all been very gracious and offered to provide any help that they can in this transition process.
With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. I think it’s generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything.
We have — we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic.
On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So — so whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.
And with respect to schools, Michelle will be — will be scouting out some schools. We’ll be making a decision about that in the future.
Question: You are now privy to a lot of intelligence that you haven’t had access to before, in fact, much of what the president sees, I’m sure all of it.
First of all, do you — what do you think about the state of U.S. intelligence, whether you think it needs beefing up, whether you think there’s enough interaction between the various agencies?
And, second of all, has anything that you’ve heard given you pause about anything you’ve talked about on the campaign trail?
Obama: Well, as you know, if — if there was something I had heard, I couldn’t tell you. But…
Obama: I have received intelligence briefings. And I will make just a general statement.
Our intelligence process can always improve. I think it has gotten better. And, you know, beyond that, I don’t think I should comment on the nature of the intelligence briefings.
That was a two-parter. Was there another aspect to that?
Question: Well, just whether — you know, absent what you’ve heard…
Obama: OK, I get you.
Question: … whether anything has given you pause.
Obama: I’m going to skip that.
Question: Mr. President-elect, do you still intend to seek income tax increases for upper-income Americans? And if so, should these Americans expect to pay higher taxes in 2009?
Obama: The — my tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle-class tax cuts; 95 percent of working Americans would receive them.
It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small businesses, additional tax credits. All of it is designed for job growth.
My priority is going to be, how do we grow the economy? How do we create more jobs?
I think that the plan that we’ve put forward is the right one, but, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we’re going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what’s taking place in the economy as a whole.
All right. Thank you very much, guys.
Friday GM officials announced that the nations largest automotive maker sustained major third-quarter losses at a sum of $2.5B. Officials say that during the current quarter, GM has used $6.9B, which means that GM “will approach the minimum amount necessary to operate its’ business.”
This desperate news has temporarily halted talks between GM and Chrysler about a possible merger. GM has proposed a plan to stop the bleeding that will affect its’ white and blue collar employees. GM says that it will indefinitely lay-off 3,600 salaried employee positions, which will save the automotive giant $500M. In January, 10 plants will began a slow-down in production.
If you are employed by GM, get that resume updated and start a account with Monster.Com. Don’t wait for the pink slip to find you with your undies down around your ankles. Take it from me.
An indefinitely laid-off Chrysler employee.
Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
(as prepared for delivery)
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Senator Barack Obama walked away with 338 votes from the electoral college to cement his place in United States history as the first African American to sit in a seat of power in the Oval Office.
President-Elect Barack Obama has completed a full circle of history for not only African Americans in America, but America as a whole. 400 plus years ago, Africans were kidnapped from their homeland, Africa, to be sold as cattle to Caucasian Americans who had settled in the colonies of the New World. This New World was inhabited by the subjects of England who wanted to establish a place where religious and socio freedoms could be exercised.
Unfortunately, these freedoms were not extended to the humans that were forced to give their lives to a lop-sided, hypocritical and essentially ignorant ideology that was void of compassion and integrity. Yet, this New World became the foundation to what was to become the United States of America. A piece of paper drafted by a group of men seeking liberty from oppression and tyranny from the crown of England, expressed the independent attitude of a young country that held the fundamental concept “that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, when the Revolutionary War was fought and won, America did not and refused to extend those liberties to African American slaves. The Civil War and Lincoln’s Republican Party freed the slaves technically, but it wasn’t until the mid to late 1960′s that African Americans were ever really able to, with confidence, apply the Declaration of Independence to themselves.
November 4, 2008, a forty-seven year old African American man from a low to moderate income background, who garnered scholarships and loans to attend Harvard, became the forty-fourth President-Elect of the United States. Did Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLoud Bethune, Benjamen Banneker, Nat Turner, Robert Smalls, Carter Woodson, Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Robeson, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Eubie Blake, Rosa Parks, Emmit Till, Marcus Garvey, the four little girls murdered one dark Sunday in the 1960′s, John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Francis, Medger Evers, El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Martin Luther King, Jr., Kunta Kinte and my own enslaved great-great-great-great-grandfather George Nelson Ricks, dare to dream this day could ever be possible?
It would seem that the great Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, Too, Sing America,” would be appropriate right about now:
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, sing America.
The Associated Press filed this report late Monday:
HONOLULU (AP) — Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.
Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.
“She’s gone home,” Obama said as tens of thousands of rowdy supporters at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte grew silent in an evening drizzle.
“And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. And so there is great joy as well as tears. I’m not going to talk about it too long because it is hard for me to talk about.”
But he said he wanted people to know a little about her – that she lived through the Great Depression and World War II, working the latter on a bomber assembly line with a baby at home and a husband serving his country. He said she was humble and plain spoken, one of the “quiet heroes that we have all across America” working hard and hoping to see their children and grandchildren thrive.
“That’s what we’re fighting for,” Obama said.
Obama learned of Dunham’s death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He went ahead with campaign appearances. The family said a private ceremony would be held later.
“So many of us were hoping and praying that his grandmother would have the opportunity to witness her grandson become our next president,” said Hawaii state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, an Obama supporter. “What a bittersweet victory it will be for him. Wow.”
Republican John McCain issued condolences to his opponent. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives,” the statement by John and Cindy McCain said.
Last month, Obama took a break from campaigning and flew to Hawaii to be with Dunham as her health declined.
Obama said the decision to go to Hawaii was easy to make, telling CBS that he “got there too late” when his mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at 53, and wanted to make sure “that I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Outside the apartment building where Dunham died, reporters and TV cameras lined the sidewalk as two police officers were posted near the elevator. Signs hanging in the apartment lobby warned the public to keep out.
The Kansas-born Dunham and her husband, Stanley, raised their grandson for several years so he could attend school in Honolulu while their daughter and her second husband lived overseas. Her influence on Obama’s manner and the way he viewed the world was substantial, the candidate himself told millions watching him accept his party’s nomination in Denver in August.
“She’s the one who taught me about hard work,” he said. “She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.”
Michelle Obama’s voice choked with emotion during a campaign appearance in Colorado as she asked people to remember the woman her husband called “Toot,” a version of the Hawaiian word for grandmother, tutu.
“Say a prayer for Toot and thank her for raising Barack Obama. I think she did an amazing job,” Obama told about 2,500 people at a suburban Denver high school gym.
Madelyn and Stanley Dunham married in 1940, a few weeks before she graduated from high school. Their daughter, Stanley Ann, was born in 1942. After several moves to and from California, Texas, Washington and Kansas, Stanley Dunham’s job landed the family in Hawaii.
It was there that Stanley Ann later met and fell in love with Obama’s father, a Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama. They had met in Russian class at the University of Hawaii. Their son was born in August 1961, but the marriage didn’t last long. She later married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro, another university student she met in Hawaii.
Obama moved to Indonesia with his mother and stepfather at age 6. But in 1971, her mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents. He stayed with the Dunhams until he graduated from high school in 1979.
In his autobiography, Obama wrote fondly of playing basketball on a court below his grandparents’ 10th-floor Honolulu apartment, and looking up to see his grandmother watching.
It was the same apartment Obama visited on annual holiday trips to Hawaii, a weeklong vacation from his campaign in August, and his pre-election visit in October. Family members said his grandmother could not travel because of her health.
Madelyn Dunham, who took university classes but to her chagrin never earned a degree, nonetheless rose from a secretarial job at the Bank of Hawaii to become one of the state’s first female bank vice presidents.
“Every morning, she woke up at 5 a.m. and changed from the frowsy muumuus she wore around the apartment into a tailored suit and high-heeled pumps,” Obama wrote.
After her health took a turn for the worse, her brother said on Oct. 21 that she had already lived long enough to see her “Barry” achieve what she’d wanted for him.
“I think she thinks she was important in raising a fine young man,” Charles Payne, 83, said in a brief telephone interview from his Chicago home. “I doubt if it would occur to her that he would go this far this fast. But she’s enjoyed watching it.”
Stanley Dunham died in 1992, while Obama’s mother died in 1995. His father is also deceased.
When Obama was young, he and his grandmother toured the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Disneyland and Chicago, where Obama would years later settle.
It was an incident during his teenage years that became one of Obama’s most vivid memories of Toot. She had been aggressively panhandled by a man and she wanted her husband to take her to work. When Obama asked why, his grandfather said Madelyn Dunham was bothered because the panhandler was black.
The words hit the biracial Obama “like a fist in my stomach,” he wrote later. He was sure his grandparents loved him deeply. “And yet,” he added, “I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.”
Obama referred to the incident again when he addressed race in a speech in March during a controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he said.
Dunham was “a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world but who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her on the street.”
Still, much of who Obama is comes from his grandmother, said his half sister.
“From our grandmother, he gets his pragmatism, his levelheadedness, his ability to stay centered in the eye of the story,” she told The Associated Press. “His sensible, no-nonsense (side) is inherited from her.”
Madelyn Lee Payne was born to Rolla and Leona Payne in October 1922 in Peru, Kan., but lived much of her childhood in nearby Augusta.
She was the oldest of four children, and she loved to read everything from James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” to Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.”
Courtesy of the Associated Press Staff Writers
After two hours of legal wrangling on the parts of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the defense team of Kwame Kilpatrick, Judge David Groner imposed the plea agreement, that at times, was hotly contested. At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, Kilpatrick could be seen in the courtroom shaking his head in objection to the very charges that he plead to. That is not surprising given that since 2002, Kwame Kilpatrick has thumbed his nose at the judicial system, the media and Detroit citizens in general. If he did not agree with the obstruction of justice counts, why did he plead out to them?
Kwame Kilpatrick is an arrogant and blatant liar. How he had the audacity to act as if he is an innocent man and a victim in this nightmare is beyond me. But I can truthfully say that there is absolutely nothing remorseful about him and if he had the chance to do it all again, there is no doubt in my mind that he would do it with few revisions. Judge Groner made it clear that there would be not be an early release for Kilpatrick and that a five year probation and one million dollar restitution would be enforced.
The really interesting part of this whole sentencing hearing came at the end. Judge Groner stated that the seven political funds that Kwame Kilpatrick has, which of course Kwame denies, can not be used for the personal benefit of Kilpatrick or his family. This is funny because Kwame’s lawyers started scrambling then! More than likely the Kilpatrick legal team were promised monies from these fund raising accounts. Also, Carlita and Kilpatrick’s children have to survive while he is in jail. Let’s not forget that Kwame Kilpatrick has promised a “come back.” So, I am sure some of that money was ear-marked for that purpose. But whatever the case, Kwame Kilpatrick has cost the citizens of Detroit double digit figures in the millions because of his affair with former chief of staff Christine Beatty and subsequent cover-up.
This saga has yet to conclude. In January, 2009, Christine Beatty’s trial begins. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has promised that she will bring all the co-conspirators in this case to accountability. That is a good thing. But accountability and jail time does not mean remorse. Judge Groner mentioned this very point in his comments to Kwame Kilpatrick. Yet, can you not agree that this type of rogue politician has become the rule instead of the exception? Thug politicking and perverse corruption on the part of elected officials regularly make the headlines. While these experience the ‘good life’ in their political webs of moral degradation, you can be sure that the trip down the slippery slope of justice into a jail cell is not too far behind.
In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama revealed his plan of action if he should win the presidency in November. Obama’s plan touched on every aspect of American living from universal health care, tax relief for middle class and lower income families, the education of school age children and the pursuit of a college education for young adults, the “responsible” ending on the so-called ‘war on terror’ and the supplemental support to returning troops. Obama’s plan also sets out to eliminate America’s dependence on foreign oil in ten years and he hopes to explore alternative means of energy for American consumption.
But since that acceptance speech, things have changed. The economic crisis forced the U.S. federal government to step in with a $850B bailout plan. This bailout or rescue plan that essentially gives a free pass to the crooks on Wall Street and greedy mortgage and bank lenders, will more than likely become a albatross around the necks of generations of Americans.
The question is, if Barack Obama is elected to become President in November and January 21, 2009 begins his first day on the job, what campaign promise will he ax first? Realistically speaking, all of this double talk about not increasing taxes on both sides of the campaign trail is misleading. Taxes will spike and taxes disguised as those pesky hidden fees will become more plentiful. How else will the the two current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq be financed at a $10B a day?
The funding of these two wars will make it fundamentally impossible for Obama to establish his health care program. It would be great to increase the wages of teachers and infuse money into the “No Child Left Behind Act.” But that can not happen without the flow of cash. All of this campaign talk about spreading the wealth and growing the wealth is nothing but code wording for more taxation.
Neither one of the Presidential candidates will be able to fulfill their campaign promises because even they know that talk is cheap, but action takes bucks! McCain and Obama know that the ‘war on terror’ is the gaping hole that sucks the money right out of any reasonable budget. But because this ‘war on terror’ was ill-advised and full of incomplete and unreasonable exit strategies, Americans are going to have to suffer the ‘taxing’ consequences by emptying out their wallets and their bank accounts.
Maybe some straight talk from both candidates on what they could realistically do for Americans as opposed to issuing fantastical whimsical ideals that Disney manufactures every day is not a half bad suggestion. Deep down, we all like to escape and dream up a life that makes sense. We all like to taste the cake frosting from time to time. But the frosting is not the cake. Telling the truth is not something that politicians necessarily like to do.
So, perhaps Obama should keep the promises to a minimum and re-access what theoretical policies are feasibly capable of being implemented. That would surely make him ‘fundamentally different’ from his opponent.
What Does The Letters That Make Up ACORN Mean? For Those Who Like To Toss The Name Around, But Are Clueless
ACORN, a grassroots organization, is making headlines for voters registration fraud. As always, an organization that has helped thousands for the better good, has hit a snag and is being exploited for a political cause.
But to all those who had never heard of or had to use the services of ACORN, what does the acronym stand for?
ACORN is short for The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Being that it is a “community organization” and we know how Gov. Palin feels about those, it is no wonder that ACORN would be thrown into the campaign to blindside Americans.
I and many, many others have used the services of ACORN and are grateful that they speak up for those who are ignored and forgotten. Regardless of what is going on right now, ACORN reps are still helping low income people to find housing, fight their slumlords, fill out job applications, get food and medical assistance, childcare, etc.
And when the election season is over and a new President sworn in, ACORN will still serve urban communities and citizens in need. In a few months, America will forget about ACORN and the low income to zero income folks they help.
ACORN has been in the news these past days because of voters registration fraud. Meaning? There were some dishonest employees of ACORN who took advantage of their employer and decided to get a check for zero work. That is unfortunate. But this type of dishonesty goes further than ACORN. When was the last time you left work early but your check read different? When was the last time you arrived to work late and you didn’t acknowledge it on your time slip?
ACORN has helped thousands upon thousands of low income families for almost forty years with housing, rent, food, jobs and landlord disputes. However, this election is not about Joe Barely Making It, or Single Mom With Five Kids And Three Jobs To Equal One.
ACORN helps the forgotten class of Americans. Now, the organization that helps these people is getting a raw deal itself for campaign brownie points. If you have no clue as to what ACORN IS and what it is ALL ABOUT because you are a Soccer Mom or Middle Class Joe Six Pack or even Joe the Plummer, who makes $45,000 as an unlicensed working plummer, then the below info is for you.
You can locate more about ACORN at www.acorn.org:
ACORN is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country. Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action, negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation. ACORN helps those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in our democratic system.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) aims to organize a majority consituency of low- to moderate-income people across the United States. The members of ACORN take on issues of relevance to their communities, whether those issues are discrimination, affordable housing, a quality education, or better public services. ACORN believes that low- to moderate-income people are the best advocates for their communities, and so ACORN’s low- to moderate-income members act as leaders, spokespeople, and decision-makers within the organization.
ACORN Milestones Timeline
1970 – Wade Rathke begins organizing in Arkansas to unite welfare recipients and working people for shared needs and rights; forms ACORN (Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now)
1971 – ACORN leaders organize “Save the City” campaign in Little Rock, establishing ACORN as a force in Arkansas politics. ACORN establishes six regional offices in the state around issues of concern to rural and small town Arkansans, begins to tackle statewide issues
1972 – ACORN’s “Save the City Rally” in Little Rock marks first entrance into electoral politics
1974 – In Pulaski County, 250 ACORN members run for office, 195 win seats
1975 – ACORN expands to Texas and South Dakota; first associate Executive Board and first president (Steve McDonald) elected to handle issues of larger scope
1978 – First national convention, of 1,000 members in Memphis, marks beginning of multi-state campaigns
1978-1980 – Participation in 1980 presidential campaign leads entry into national politics
1980 – ACORN is in 20 states, having added at least 3 states each year since
1982 – ACORN reaches 30,000 member families
1980s – Reagan years very trying for low-income communities and organizing. ACORN launches squatting campaign to get low- and moderate-income people into vacant houses and fix them up, with neighborhood approval. Fifteen thousand ACORN members and allies establish “Reagan Ranches” in over 35 cities, building tent cities to symbolize the homelessness Reagan’s policies created. ACORN develops and strengthens ACORN Political Action Committees (APACs) and legislative office.
1985 – ACORN grows to 27 states, including significant chapters in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago
1990 – ACORN has more than 70,000 members in 28 states
1994 – ACORN participation has helped Project Vote register 147,000 voters in Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
2000 – ACORN is 125,000 members strong. ACORN registers 100,000 new voters nationwide.
2004 – Now 720 full-time staff working for ACORN and sister organizations, up from 490 just a year before. ACORN organized in 80 cities (up from 60 at the end of 2003) in 31 states. ACORN also expands internationally, with ACORN Canada opening its first offices in Toronto and Vancouver and ACORN Peru opening an office in Lima.
2005 – ACORN now includes chapters in over 100 U.S. cities in 37 states and in Canada, Peru and Mexico
2006 – More than 350,000 member families organized in over 110 cities in 40 states; added Argentina
2007 – ACORN organizes in India
An official statement from ACORN:
Maude Hurd, ACORN’s National President, issued the following statement in response to Senator McCain’s attack:
With the last and final Presidential debate in the can, it is apparent that according to the latest CNN gallop polls, Sen. Barack Obama is leading among independent voters and the like. Obama has been leading Sen. John McCain by as much as six points in the weeks leading up to the Wednesday’s debate and after. But what does this mean?
The final Presidential debate showcased a more aggressively animate Sen. John McCain. That was a relief! The placid and flat-lined behavior McCain exhibited in the last two debates were definitely unacceptable and bothersome. However, the animated version of John McCain attempted to continue to sow the seeds of doubt about the judgement and character of Obama by playing connect the dots with Bill Ayers and ACORN. This strategy, risky at best, was a defining moment for McCain. It would have worked if Americans did not already have prior knowledge of the preemptive strike that McCain planned to remove the blaring spotlight from his and the GOP’s economic nightmare of worthless policies, and shift the focus to Barack Obama’s business relationships of yester years. Really, it could have worked. But the $850B bailout happened first.
Therefore, despite a great debate appearance, McCain failed at the task at hand. Instead of pointing fingers and attacking haphazardly in the attempt to make Obama look shadier than Rev. Jesse Jackson, McCain raised serious questions about his own character. Even though McCain said that he is “not George Bush,” it is evident that he does subscribe to the Bush Doctrine, voting a whopping 94 times for Bush inspired policies. John McCain likes to say that he at times has voted independent of his party. That he is different. Well, the debate proved that to be untrue. When it comes to covering over misdeeds and mistakes caused by lapses in judgement, McCain stands squarely with Bush. Deflections of truth and preemptive strikes are tools that John McCain and President Bush use with precision and pleasure.
The funny thing about the whole matter is that the American public are already hip to what is really going down!
Why Can’t ‘We All Just Get Along’? More Accusations And Attacks! More Mud Slinging! Are You As Sick As We Are?
A Letter From The Editor:
It is quite disheartening to turn on the television these days. The misleading campaign ads, the squabbling between political commentators and Lou Dobbs’ gradual ‘washing that gray right outta his hair,’ makes for some pretty uncomfortable TV viewing.
I have begun to experience migraines again. It is so difficult as a journalist to stay fair, accurate and impartial. At times, the lines become blurred. But I take my cues from the great Barbara Walters and my personal favorite, CNN’s Anderson Cooper. These two bring both sides of the coin without swearing an allegiance. I marvel at that. It is remarkable to stay cool and calm while the country is virtually on fire about one thing or another. Like Obama. See, just could not resist! lol!
But seriously, I suppose that the emotions of everyone in America right about now are stretched to the limit. Not only are Americans stressed by all of this ‘hating’ going on, we have to contend with milk being almost $4 a gallon. Cereal just as expensive. Gas, don’t even think about it! 750,000 people have lost their jobs this year. Automotive plants are getting ready to close their doors. Thousands more will be on the unemployment lines come 2009. Folks are losing everything dear to them.
When all of these real life issues are so much more important to the average American, it makes you wonder how a campaign strategist could advice a presidential candidate to become downright vicious and rabid towards his opponent? Over something so intolerable as distorting the truth about a candidate’s former business associate? Or the witch hunt concerning the rantings of an overzealous former pastor? Or the criminal activities of a former friend named Keating?
Now, the McCain camp are asking Americans “Who REALLY is Barak Obama?” Shouldn’t the question be who are EITHER of these two men, whom were remarkably respected individuals 18 months ago. As of today, it is hard to tell just which is which. So unfortunate, isn’t it?
Here is the latest pres statement sent to my email from the Obama campaign regarding the ‘not so dynamic duo’ of McCain / Palin and their pitbull antics this afternoon:
“It’s now clear that John McCain would rather launch angry, personal attacks than talk about the economy or defend his risky bailout scheme that hands over billions in taxpayer dollars to the same irresponsible Wall Street banks and lenders that got us into this mess – a scheme that guarantees taxpayers will lose money. While Barack Obama ensured that the rescue plan that passed Congress protects taxpayers and homeowners, John McCain’s scheme has been panned by experts and observers from across the political spectrum,” said Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.
In the famous words of Hip Hop royalty, RUN-DMC (circa 1982):
“Wars going on across the seas / street soldiers killing the elderly / whatever happened to unity / it’s like that / AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS!”