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White House Surprises:Behind The Scenes

White House video that wasn’t released to the media…until now!  President Obama’s surprise visit to the White House briefing.  His surprise visit to Afghanistan.  Discover White House Press Secretary’s age issue, and more!  
  Continue Reading →

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Unity On Passover And Easter

Transcript:
This is a week of faithful celebration. On Monday and Tuesday nights, Jewish families and friends in the United States and around the world gathered for a Seder to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of hope and perseverance over injustice and oppression. On Sunday, my family will join other Christians all over the world in marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all – Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike. Amid the storm of public debate, with our 24/7 media cycle, in a town like Washington that’s consumed with the day-to-day, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the eternal. Continue Reading →

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“YES WE DID”- A New Season For America

President Obama signs the historic health care reform bill into law. Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Please, have a seat.Thank you, Joe.  (Laughter.)THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good to be with you, Mr. President.  (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT:  Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied — health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Today.It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week.  For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America.  In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.  (Applause.)And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation — and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly — (applause)  — the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly.  We need to get this right.  But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away.  (Applause.)This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.  (Applause.)  That happens this year.This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick.  (Applause.)  They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.  (Applause.)This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care.  And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help.  They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole.  And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits.  (Applause.)  In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles.  That begins this year.  (Applause.)Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance.  They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get.  That’s what’s going to happen under this reform.  (Applause.)  And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.   That’s what this reform is about.  (Applause.)  This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades.  It is paid for.  It is fiscally responsible.  And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.  That’s part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.  (Applause.) That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence — and the character — of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized; who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.It’s also a testament to the historic leadership — and uncommon courage — of the men and women of the United States Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate. (Laughter.) AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we did.  (Laughter.)THE PRESIDENT:  You know, there are few tougher jobs in politics or government than leading one of our legislative chambers.  In each chamber, there are men and women who come from different places and face different pressures, who reach different conclusions about the same things and feel deeply concerned about different things.By necessity, leaders have to speak to those different concerns.  It isn’t always tidy; it is almost never easy.  But perhaps the greatest — and most difficult — challenge is to cobble together out of those differences the sense of common interest and common purpose that’s required to advance the dreams of all people — especially in a country as large and diverse as ours.And we are blessed by leaders in each chamber who not only do their jobs very well but who never lost sight of that larger mission.  They didn’t play for the short term; they didn’t play to the polls or to politics:  One of the best speakers the House of Representatives has ever had, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)AUDIENCE:  Nancy!  Nancy!  Nancy!  Nancy!THE PRESIDENT:  One of the best majority leaders the Senate has ever had, Mr. Harry Reid.  (Applause.) To all of the terrific committee chairs, all the members of Congress who did what was difficult, but did what was right, and passed health care reform — not just this generation of Americans will thank you, but the next generation of Americans will thank you. And of course, this victory was also made possible by the painstaking work of members of this administration, including our outstanding Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius — (applause) — and one of the unsung heroes of this effort, an extraordinary woman who led the reform effort from the White House, Nancy-Ann DeParle.  Where’s Nancy?  (Applause.)Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today.  He runs a small business with five employees.  He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers.  This bill will help him afford that coverage.I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here.  (Applause.)  Marcelas lost his mom to an illness.  And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed.  So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced.  (Applause.)I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield.  Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent.  She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance.  Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance.  Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be.  And her sister Connie is here.  Connie, stand up.  (Applause.)I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations — from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell.  (Applause.)  To Senator Ted Kennedy.  (Applause.)  And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here — it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality.  (Applause.)I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago — one of his last public appearances.  And it was hard for him to make it.  But he was confident that we would do the right thing.Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable.  With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve.  It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.But today, we are affirming that essential truth — a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself — that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.  (Applause.)  We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust.  We don’t fall prey to fear.  We are not a nation that does what’s easy.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we got here.We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.  We are a nation that does what is hard.  What is necessary.  What is right.  Here, in this country, we shape our own destiny.  That is what we do.  That is who we are.  That is what makes us the United States of America. And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.  (Applause.)  And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country.So, thank you.  Thank you.  God bless you, and may God bless the United States.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.All right, I would now like to call up to stage some of the members of Congress who helped make this day possible, and some of the Americans who will benefit from these reforms.  And we’re going to sign this bill.This is going to take a little while.  I’ve got to use every pen, so it’s going to take a really long time.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t practice.  (Laughter.)(The bill is signed.) We are done.  (Applause.) Continue Reading →

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“This is what change looks like” -Obama On Health Insurance Reform Vote

President Obama comments on the House passing the historic health care reform bill.  
THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying, and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and America’s small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here, in this country, neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve.      Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics.  We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests.  We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear.  Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.  We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.       I want to thank every member of Congress who stood up tonight with courage and conviction to make health care reform a reality.  And I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people.  But it was the right vote.  I want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her extraordinary leadership, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for their commitment to getting the job done.  I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, and my wonderful Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, for their fantastic work on this issue.  I want to thank the many staffers in Congress, and my own incredible staff in the White House, who have worked tirelessly over the past year with Americans of all walks of life to forge a reform package finally worthy of the people we were sent here to serve.      Today’s vote answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform.  To every unsung American who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an e-mail hoping your voice would be heard — it has been heard tonight.  To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — let me reaffirm that conviction:  This moment is possible because of you. Continue Reading →

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Obama “Confident” Health Insurance Reform Will Pass

President Obama addresses the House Democratic Caucus and says that the time is now to vote for health care reform for America. Transcription:

 THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  
     To Leader Reid, to Steny Hoyer, John Larson, Xavier Becerra, Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen, to an extraordinary leader and extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and to all the members here today, thank you very much for having me.  (Applause.)  Thanks for having me and thanks for your tireless efforts waged on behalf of health insurance reform in this country. 
 
     I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House.  And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln:  “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true.  I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”
 
     This debate has been a difficult debate.  This process has been a difficult process.  And this year has been a difficult year for the American people.  When I was sworn in, we were in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Eight hundred thousand people per month were losing their jobs.  Millions of people were losing their health insurance.  And the financial system was on the verge of collapse.  
     And this body has taken on some of the toughest votes and some of the toughest decisions in the history of Congress.  Not because you were bound to win, but because you were bound to be true.  Because each and every one of you made a decision that at a moment of such urgency, it was less important to measure what the polls said than to measure what was right.  
     A year later, we’re in different circumstances.  Because of the actions that you’ve taken, the financial system has stabilized.  The stock market has stabilized.  Businesses are starting to invest again.  The economy, instead of contracting, is now growing again.  There are signs that people are going to start hiring again.  There’s still tremendous hardship all across the country, but there is a sense that we are making progress — because of you. Continue Reading →

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Obama:”Help Me Finish The Fight” On Health Care Reform

President Obama speaks to a crowd at George Mason Univeristy in Fairfax, Virginia… just a few minutes away from Washington DC. Time stamped twitter notes:
 
10:29:10;00 Crowd chanting “Yes we can” at Obama’s Virginia health care reform rally.  
10:34:25;00 Obama notes that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was first President to advocate for health care for everyone in US.  
10:35:01;00 Obama: We need health care system that lets everyone have a chance to succeed. Continue Reading →

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Clean Energy Jobs Powering Economic Recovery

 
Remarks by the President on Clean Energy Jobs
OPOWER, Arlington, Virginia
 
11:43 A.M. EST
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  It is great to be here at OPOWER.  And just looking around, this looks like a fun place to work.  (Laughter.)  The work you do here, as we just heard, is making homes more energy efficient, it’s saving people money, it’s generating jobs and it’s putting America on the path to a clean energy future.  And I understand last year that you doubled your workforce thanks to Bonnie — (applause) — you’re hoping to hire another hundred workers this year.  And so this is a model of what we want to be seeing all across the country.  Our goal for the economy is to show similar job growth in the months ahead.  
This morning we learned that in February our economy lost an additional 36,000 jobs.  Now, this is actually better than expected, considering the severe storms all along the East Coast are estimated to have had a depressing effect on the numbers.  And it shows that the measures that we’re taking to turn our economy around are having some impact.  But even though it’s better than expected, it’s more than we should tolerate.  
Far too many Americans remain out of work.  Far too many families are still struggling in these difficult economic times.  And that’s why I’m not going to rest, and my administration is not going to rest, in our efforts to help people who are looking to find a job; to help business owners who want to expand feel comfortable hiring again.  And we’re not going to rest until our economy is working again for the middle class, and for all Americans.  
And that’s why my immediate priority is not only providing relief to people who are out of work, but also to help the private sector create jobs and put America back to work.  Earlier this week, after breaking through a political logjam that some of you probably saw if you were watching TV, Congress passed and I signed into law a bill that extends unemployment insurance to help people who’ve been laid off get through these hard times.  It also extended COBRA so that folks who’ve lost their jobs don’t lose their health insurance, and it extended financing for small businesses, and makes it possible for 2,000 furloughed transportation workers to go back to work.  
So signing this bill and getting relief out the door swiftly is absolutely essential.  But it’s only a temporary step.  The relief I signed into law will last about a month.  And that’s why I’m calling [on] Congress to extend this relief through the end of the year.  And because the best form of economic relief is a quality job, I’m also calling on Congress to pass jobs measures that cut taxes, increase lending, incentivize expansion for businesses both large and small. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Ending Worst Practices Of Health Insurance Industry

 

President Obama describes how American families will have more control over their health care this year, after health reform passes. Here are a few more points about how health insurance reform measures will benefit Americans this year:
 Hold Insurance Companies Accountable:
 

Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all new plans;
Prohibit rescissions of health insurance policies in all individual plans;
Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs;
Establish a process for the annual review of unreasonable increases in premiums, requiring State insurance commissioners to work with the HHS Secretary and States.  
Protect Consumers:
 

Provide grants to States to support health insurance consumer assistance and ombudsman programs to help consumers;
Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
Require all insurance plans to use uniform coverage documents so consumers can make easy comparisons when shopping for health insurance;
Establish an internet portal to assist Americans in identifying coverage options;
Prohibit insurers from discriminating in favor of highly compensated employees by charging them lower premiums.

Ensure Affordable Choices and Quality Care:
 

Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
Create a temporary re-insurance program for early retirees;
Require new plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
Facilitate administrative simplification to lower health system costs.   Continue Reading →

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Health Care Reform Needs An Olympic Effort

President Obama takes a moment to congratulate our Olympic athletes. Discussing the unity and pride Americans feel in cheering them on, the President relates that sentiment to his own desire for bipartisanship in Washington. He praises the bipartisan meeting days before and talks about moving forward on health reform. Continue Reading →

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Obama On 2011 Budget – 3 year spending Freeze

President Obama talks about how discretionary government spending will be frozen for the next three years. Defense, Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Benefits are exempt. More info at www.budget.gov
Transcript:
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  This morning, I sent a budget to Congress for the coming year.  It’s a budget that reflects the serious challenges facing the country.  We’re at war.  Our economy has lost 7 million jobs over the last two years.  And our government is deeply in debt after what can only be described as a decade of profligacy.  
The fact is, 10 years ago, we had a budget surplus of more than $200 billion, with projected surpluses stretching out toward the horizon.  Yet over the course of the past 10 years, the previous administration and previous Congresses created an expensive new drug program, passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and funded two wars without paying for any of it -– all of which was compounded by recession and by rising health care costs.  As a result, when I first walked through the door, the deficit stood at $1.3 trillion, with projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade.  
If we had taken office during ordinary times, we would have started bringing down these deficits immediately.  But one year ago, our country was in crisis:  We were losing nearly 700,000 jobs each month, the economy was in a free fall, and the financial system was near collapse.  Many feared another Great Depression.  So we initiated a rescue, and that rescue was not without significant cost; it added to the deficit as well. Continue Reading →

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Obama: GOP Focused On Winning Elections, Not Solving Problems-CC

At this time last year, amidst headlines about banks on the verge of collapse and job losses of 700,000 a month, we received another troubling piece of news about our economy.  Our economy was shrinking at an alarming rate – the largest six-month decline in 50 years.  Our factories and farms were producing less; our businesses were selling less; and more job losses were on the horizon.  
One year later, according to numbers released this past week, this trend has reversed itself.  For the past six months, our economy has been growing again.  And last quarter, it grew more quickly than at any time in the past six years.  
This is a sign of progress.  And it’s an affirmation of the difficult decisions we made last year to pull our financial system back from the brink and get our economy moving again.  
But when so many people are still struggling – when one in ten Americans still can’t find work, and millions more are working harder and longer for less – our mission isn’t just to grow the economy.  It’s to grow jobs for folks who want them, and ensure wages are rising for those who have them.  It’s not just about improvements we see in quarterly statistics, but ones people feel in their daily lives – a bigger paycheck; more security; the ability to give your kids a decent shot in life and still have enough to retire one day yourself.  
That’s why job creation will be our number one focus in 2010.  We’ll put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure all across the country.  And since the true engines of job creation are America’s businesses, I’ve proposed tax credits to help them hire new workers, raise wages, and invest in new plants and equipment.  I also want to eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and help small businesses get the loans they need to open their doors and expand their operations.   
 
But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we’ve been accumulating for far too long – deficits that won’t just burden our children and grandchildren, but could damage our markets, drive up our interest rates, and jeopardize our recovery right now. Continue Reading →

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Obama Faces GOP On Its Talking Points -CC

President Obama speaks to the GOP House Issues forum and debunks many talking points offered as questions by Republican House members.  
Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Please, everybody be seated.  Thank you.  Thank you, John, for the gracious introduction.  To Mike and Eric, thank you for hosting me.  Thank you to all of you for receiving me.  It is  wonderful to be here.  I want to also acknowledge Mark Strand, president of the Congressional Institute.  To all the family members who are here and who have to put up with us for an elective office each and every day, thank you, because I know that’s tough.  (Applause.)
 
I very much am appreciative of not only the tone of your introduction, John, but also the invitation that you extended to me.  You know what they say, “Keep your friends close, but visit the Republican Caucus every few months.”  (Laughter.)
 
Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you.  So I’m looking forward to taking your questions and having a real conversation in a few moments.  And I hope that the conversation we begin here doesn’t end here; that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead.  It’s important to me that we do so.  It’s important to you, I think, that we do so.  But most importantly, it’s important to the American people that we do so.  
I’ve said this before, but I’m a big believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity.  Having differences of opinion, having a real debate about matters of domestic policy and national security — and that’s not something that’s only good for our country, it’s absolutely essential.  It’s only through the process of disagreement and debate that bad ideas get tossed out and good ideas get refined and made better.  And that kind of vigorous back and forth — that imperfect but well-founded process, messy as it often is — is at the heart of our democracy.  That’s what makes us the greatest nation in the world.  
So, yes, I want you to challenge my ideas, and I guarantee you that after reading this I may challenge a few of yours.  (Laughter.)  I want you to stand up for your beliefs, and knowing this caucus, I have no doubt that you will.  I want us to have a constructive debate.  The only thing I don’t want — and here I am listening to the American people, and I think they don’t want either — is for Washington to continue being so Washington-like.  I know folks, when we’re in town there, spend a lot of time reading the polls and looking at focus groups and interpreting which party has the upper hand in November and in 2012 and so on and so on and so on.  That’s their obsession.  
And I’m not a pundit.  I’m just a President, so take it for what it’s worth.  But I don’t believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security.  They want us to focus on their job security.  (Applause.)  I don’t think they want more gridlock.  I don’t think they want more partisanship.  I don’t think they want more obstruction.  They didn’t send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive.  That’s not what they want.  They sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done, and to solve the problems that they’re grappling with every single day. Continue Reading →

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Obama Cracks Down On Tax Cheats

President Obama outlined his proposal today for cracking down on tax cheats and signed an executive order aimed at blocking contractors who are delinquent on their taxes from receiving new government contracts. He will also directed the IRS to conduct a review of the overall accuracy of companies’ claims about tax delinquency to be sure that when a company says it’s paying taxes, it is telling the truth. Continue Reading →

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Obama At The Pulpit: Learning From Martin Luther King’s Generation (CC)

Transcript:
Good morning.  Praise be to God.  Let me begin by thanking the entire Vermont Avenue Baptist Church family for welcoming our family here today.  It feels like a family.  Thank you for making us feel that way.  (Applause.)  To Pastor Wheeler, first lady Wheeler, thank you so much for welcoming us here today.  Congratulations on Jordan Denice — aka Cornelia.  (Laughter.)
 
Michelle and I have been blessed with a new nephew this year as well — Austin Lucas Robinson.  (Applause.)  So maybe at the appropriate time we can make introductions.  (Laughter.)  Now, if Jordan’s father is like me, then that will be in about 30 years. (Laughter.)  That is a great blessing.  
Michelle and Malia and Sasha and I are thrilled to be here today.  And I know that sometimes you have to go through a little fuss to have me as a guest speaker.  (Laughter.)  So let me apologize in advance for all the fuss.  
We gather here, on a Sabbath, during a time of profound difficulty for our nation and for our world.  In such a time, it soothes the soul to seek out the Divine in a spirit of prayer; to seek solace among a community of believers.  But we are not here just to ask the Lord for His blessing.  We aren’t here just to interpret His Scripture.  We’re also here to call on the memory of one of His noble servants, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Now, it’s fitting that we do so here, within the four walls of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church — here, in a church that rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the civil war; here in a church formed by freed slaves, whose founding pastor had worn the union blue; here in a church from whose pews congregants set out for marches and from whom choir anthems of freedom were heard; from whose sanctuary King himself would sermonize from time to time.  
One of those times was Thursday, December 6, 1956.  Pastor, you said you were a little older than me, so were you around at that point?  (Laughter.)  You were three years old — okay.  (Laughter.)  I wasn’t born yet.  (Laughter.)
 
On Thursday, December 6, 1956.  And before Dr. King had pointed us to the mountaintop, before he told us about his dream in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King came here, as a 27-year-old preacher, to speak on what he called “The Challenge of a New Age.”  “The Challenge of a New Age.”  It was a period of triumph, but also uncertainty, for Dr. King and his followers — because just weeks earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses, a hard-wrought, hard-fought victory that would put an end to the 381-day historic boycott down in Montgomery, Alabama. Continue Reading →

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Bush-Clinton TV Ad For Haiti (CC)

Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton record an appeal to America to help Haitian earthquake victims. To donate visit www.clintonbushhaitifund.org
 
Transcript:
 
President Clinton: We Americans are always at our best we hear and heed the cries of others. President Bush: When confronted with massive human suffering Americans have always stepped up and answered the call to help. Clinton: But there’s never been anything on a scale of human tragedy in our own hemisphere like what we’re now witnessing in Haiti.  
Bush: Today President Clinton and I are joining together to appeal to you with realurgency. Clinton: Give now and lives will be saved. Continue Reading →

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Bush, Clinton Praise Obama/US Response To Haiti

Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton praise President Obama and American citizens for their immediate response to the earthquake in Haiti. The two former Presidents are joining together to promote www.clintonbushhaitifund.org to focus more aid and attention on the Hatian victims. Continue Reading →

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Obama Sending Aid To Haitian Earthquake Victims (CC)

President Obama pledges swift response to help victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.  
Transcript:
 
 
Good morning, everybody.  This morning I want to extend to the people of Haiti the deep condolences and unwavering support of the American people following yesterday’s terrible earthquake. 
 
     We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation, but the reports and images that we’ve seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching.  Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.  Our thoughts and prayers are also with the many Haitian Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.  
     I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine  — that Haitians will need in the coming days.  In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world. 
 
Right now our efforts are focused on several urgent priorities.  First, we’re working quickly to account for U.S. embassy personnel and their families in Port-au-Prince, as well as the many American citizens who live and work in Haiti.  Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888/407-4747.  I’m going to repeat that – 888/407-4747.  
Second, we’ve mobilized resources to help rescue efforts.  Military overflights have assessed the damage, and by early afternoon our civilian disaster assistance team are beginning to arrive.  Search and rescue teams from Florida, Virginia and California will arrive throughout today and tomorrow, and more rescue and medical equipment and emergency personnel are being prepared. 
 
     Because in disasters such as this the first hours and days are absolutely critical to saving lives and avoiding even greater tragedy, I have directed my teams to be as forward-leaning as possible in getting the help on the ground and coordinating with our international partners as well.  
     Third, given the many different resources that are needed, we are taking steps to ensure that our government acts in a unified way.  My national security team has led an interagency effort overnight.  And to ensure that we coordinate our effort, going forward, I’ve designated the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah, to be our government’s unified disaster coordinator. 
 
     Now, this rescue and recovery effort will be complex and challenging.  As we move resources into Haiti, we will be working closely with partners on the ground, including the many NGOs from Haiti and across Haiti, the United Nations Stabilization Mission, which appears to have suffered its own losses, and our partners in the region and around the world.  This must truly be an international effort. Continue Reading →

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Obama No Longer “Overexposed”, Press Wants Press Conference (CC)

An amusing exchange between the press and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  
FYI, Google search the White House website for the term “overexposed” can be found here.  

MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.  
Q    When is the President going to hold a news conference?  Not that you’re not adequate.  
MR. GIBBS:  Well, I appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  Chip asked this question on Friday –
 
Q    Yes, but she’ll get an answer.  (Laughter.)
 
MR. GIBBS:  Well, she is nicer than you, Chip.  (Laughter.)
 
Q    I mean, he’s gone an obscenely long time, not holding one. Continue Reading →

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“A Failure To Connect The Dots”

Key quote from President Obama on the failed airline bombing on Christmas Day:
 
“In sum, the U.S. government had the information — scattered throughout the system — to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.  
That’s why we took swift action in the immediate days following Christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watchlist system and adding more individuals to the “no fly” list, and directing our embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warnings of individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist ties.  
Today, I’m directing a series of additional corrective steps across multiple agencies.”  
Source docs: Summary of findings of xmas day attempt  Memo on Obama’s corrective actions
 
Full Transcript:
 
 Good afternoon, everybody.  The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete.  I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform, and I believe it’s important that the American people understand the new steps that we’re taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe. 
 
This afternoon, my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system — how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America, and the steps we’re going to take to prevent that from happening again. Continue Reading →

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