Full Text Obama Presidency July 21, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Situation in Ukraine, Malaysian Airline Flight MH17 and Israel’s Military Operation in Gaza

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

Statement by the President on the Situation in Ukraine and Gaza

Source: WH, 7-21-14 

South Lawn

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I want to make a brief statement about the tragedy in Ukraine.  Before I do, though, I want to note that Secretary Kerry has departed for the Middle East.  As I’ve said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas.  And as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.  I’ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.  And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.

So Secretary Kerry will meet with allies and partners.  I’ve instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.  The work will not be easy.  Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved.  Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation to hostilities.  We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed.

With respect to Ukraine, it’s now been four days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  Over the last several days, our hearts have been absolutely broken as we’ve learned more about the extraordinary and beautiful lives that were lost — men, women and children and infants who were killed so suddenly and so senselessly.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families around the world who are going through just unimaginable grief.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of leaders around the world whose citizens were lost on this flight, and all of them remain in a state of shock but, frankly, also in a state of outrage.

Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts.  We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists.

Now, international investigators are on the ground.  They have been organized.  I’ve sent teams; other countries have sent teams.  They are prepared, they are organized to conduct what should be the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this.  And what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site.  They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded as well as transparent investigation.  And recovery personnel have to do the solemn and sacred work on recovering the remains of those who were lost.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site.  As I said before, you have international teams already in place prepared to conduct the investigation and recover the remains of those who have been lost.  But, unfortunately, the Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation.  They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage.  As investigators approached, they fired their weapons into the air.  These separatists are removing evidence from the crash site, all of which begs the question — what exactly are they trying to hide?

Moreover, these Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this.  And this is an insult to those who have lost loved ones.  This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.

Now, Russia has extraordinary influence over these separatists.  No one denies that.  Russia has urged them on.  Russia has trained them.  We know that Russia has armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons.  Key separatist leaders are Russian citizens.  So given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia and President Putin, in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.  That is the least that they can do.

President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation.  And I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions.  The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.  The separatists and the Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work.  And along with our allies and partners, we will be working this issue at the United Nations today.

More broadly, as I’ve said throughout this crisis and the crisis in Ukraine generally, and I’ve said this directly to President Putin, as well as publicly, my preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine.  I believe that can still happen.  That is my preference today, and it will continue to be my preference.

But if Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks not simply to the people inside of Ukraine but the broader international community, then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community, and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase.

Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives.

And time is of the essence.  Our friends and allies need to be able to recover those who were lost.  That’s the least we can do.  That’s the least that decency demands.  Families deserve to be able to lay their loved ones to rest with dignity.  The world deserves to know exactly what happened.  And the people of Ukraine deserve to determine their own future.

Thanks.

END
11:25 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 18, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Ukraine and Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on Ukraine

Source: WH, 7-18-14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:52 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.

Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border.  Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken — men, women, children, infants — who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine.  Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.

We know at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss.

Yesterday, I spoke with the leaders of Ukraine, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.  I told them that our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and that the American people stand with them during this difficult time.  Later today, I’ll be speaking to Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, which also suffered a terrible loss.

By far, the country that lost the most people on board the plane was the Netherlands.  From the days of our founding, the Dutch have been close friends and stalwart allies of the United States of America.  And today, I want the Dutch people to know that we stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, in our grief and in our absolute determination to get to the bottom of what happened.

Here’s what we know so far.  Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.  We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine.  Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia.  This includes arms and training.  It includes heavy weapons, and it includes anti-aircraft weapons.

Here’s what must happen now.  This was a global tragedy.  An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries.  So there has to be a credible international investigation into what happened.  The U.N. Security Council has endorsed this investigation, and we will hold all its members — including Russia — to their word.  In order to facilitate that investigation, Russia, pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate cease-fire.  Evidence must not be tampered with.  Investigators need to access the crash site.  And the solemn task of returning those who were lost on board the plane to their loved ones needs to go forward immediately.

The United States stands ready to provide any assistance that is necessary.  We’ve already offered the support of the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, which has experience in working with international partners on these types of investigations.  They are on their way, personnel from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board.

In the coming hours and days, I’ll continue to be in close contact with leaders from around the world as we respond to this catastrophe.  Our immediate focus will be on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts.

I want to point out there will likely be misinformation as well.  I think it’s very important for folks to sift through what is factually based and what is simply speculation.  No one can deny the truth that is revealed in the awful images that we all have seen.  And the eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out.

More broadly, I think it’s important for us to recognize that this outrageous event underscores that it is time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine.  For months, we’ve supported a pathway to peace, and the Ukrainian government has reached out to all Ukrainians, put forward a peace plan, and lived up to a cease-fire, despite repeated violations by the separatists — violations that took the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and personnel.

Moreover, time and again, Russia has refused to take the concrete steps necessary to deescalate the situation.  I spoke to President Putin yesterday in the wake of additional sanctions that we had imposed.  He said he wasn’t happy with them, and I told him that we have been very clear from the outset that we want Russia to take the path that would result in peace in Ukraine, but so far at least, Russia has failed to take that path.  Instead, it has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists.  It has also failed to use its influence to press the separatists to abide by a cease-fire.  That’s why, together with our allies, we’ve imposed growing costs on Russia.

So now is, I think, a somber and appropriate time for all of us to step back and take a hard look at what has happened.  Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences.  Russia, these separatists, and Ukraine all have the capacity to put an end to the fighting.  Meanwhile, the United States is going to continue to lead efforts within the world community to de-escalate the situation; to stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and to support the people of Ukraine as they courageously work to strengthen their democracy and make their own decisions about how they should move forward.

Before I take just a couple of questions let me remark on one other issue.  This morning, I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel about the situation in Gaza.  We discussed Israel’s military operation in Gaza, including its efforts to stop the threat of terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel.  I reaffirmed my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.  No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders, or terrorists tunneling into its territory.  In fact, while I was having the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv.

I also made clear that the United States, and our friends and allies, are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.  And that’s why we’ve indicated, although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels, and we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and that all of us are working hard to return to the cease-fire that was reached in November of 2012.

Secretary Kerry is working to support Egypt’s initiative to pursue that outcome.  I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that John is prepared to travel to the region following additional consultations.

Let me close by making one additional comment.  On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV.  These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.

In this world today, we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these — people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common.  It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives.  And it’s time for us to heed their example.

The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose; that nations have the right to determine their own destiny; and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth.

So with that, let me take just a couple questions.  I’ll start with you, Julie.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Just on a technical matter, does the U.S. believe that this passenger jet was targeted, or that those people who shot it down may have been going after a military — thought they were going after a military aircraft?  And more broadly, this incident does seem to escalate the crisis in Ukraine to a level we haven’t seen before.  Does that change your calculus in terms of what the U.S. and perhaps Europe should be doing in terms of a response?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what the intentions of those who might have launched this surface-to-air missile might have had.  The investigation is going to be ongoing, and I think what we’ll see is additional information surfacing over the next 24 hours, 72 hours, the next week, the next month.

What we know right now, what we have confidence in saying right now is that a surface-to-air missile was fired and that’s what brought the jet down.  We know — or we have confidence in saying that that shot was taken within a territory that is controlled by the Russian separatists.

But I think it’s very important for us to make sure that we don’t get out ahead of the facts.  And at this point, in terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals or personnel ordered the strike, how it came about, those are things that I think are still going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.  And we’re working with the entire international community to make sure that the focus is on getting to the bottom of this thing and being truthful.

And my concern is obviously that there’s been a lot of misinformation generated in eastern Ukraine generally.  This should snap everybody’s heads to attention and make sure that we don’t have time for propaganda, we don’t have time for games.  We need to know exactly what happened.  And everybody needs to make sure that we’re holding accountable those who committed this outrage.

With respect to the second question, as you’re aware, before this terrible incident happened we had already ratcheted up sanctions against Russia.  And I think the concern not just of Russian officials but of the markets about the impact that this could have on the Russian economy is there for all to see.

I made clear to President Putin that our preferred path is to resolve this diplomatically.  But that means that he and the Russian government have to make a strategic decision:  Are they going to continue to support violent separatists whose intent is to undermine the government of Ukraine?  Or are they prepared to work with the government of Ukraine to arrive at a cease-fire and a peace that takes into account the interests of all Ukrainians?

There has been some improved language at times over the last month coming from the Kremlin and coming from President Putin, but what we have not seen is an actual transition and different actions that would give us confidence that that’s the direction that they want to take.

And we will continue to make clear that as Russia engages in efforts that are supporting the separatists, that we have the capacity to increase the costs that we impose on them.  And we will do so.  Not because we’re interested in hurting Russia for the sake of hurting Russia, but because we believe in standing up for the basic principle that a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has to be respected, and it is not the United States or Russia or Germany or any other country that should be deciding what happens in that country.

Q    At this point do you see any U.S. military role that could be effective?

THE PRESIDENT:  We don’t see a U.S. military role beyond what we’ve already been doing in working with our NATO partners and some of the Baltic States, giving them reassurances that we are prepared to do whatever is required to meet our alliance obligations.

Steve Holland.

Q    Sir, thank you.  How much blame for this do you put on President Putin?  And will you use this incident now to push the Europeans for stronger action?

THE PRESIDENT:  We don’t exactly know what happened yet, and I don’t want to, as I said before, get out ahead of the facts.  But what I do know is, is that we have seen a ticking up of violence in eastern Ukraine that, despite the efforts of the Ukrainian government to abide by a cease-fire and to reach out and agree to negotiations, including with the separatists, that has been rebuffed by these separatists.  We know that they are heavily armed and that they are trained.  And we know that that’s not an accident.  That is happening because of Russian support.

So it is not possible for these separatists to function the way they’re functioning, to have the equipment that they have — set aside what’s happened with respect to the Malaysian Airlines — a group of separatists can’t shoot down military transport planes or, they claim, shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training.  And that is coming from Russia.

So we don’t yet know exactly what happened with respect to the Malaysian Airlines, although obviously we’re beginning to draw some conclusions given the nature of the shot that was fired.  There are only certain types of anti-aircraft missiles that can reach up 30,000 feet and shoot down a passenger jet.  We have increasing confidence that it came from areas controlled by the separatists.  But without having a definitive judgment on those issues yet, what we do know is, is that the violence that’s taking place there is facilitated in part — in large part — because of Russian support.  And they have the ability to move those separatists in a different direction.

If Mr. Putin makes a decision that we are not going to allow heavy armaments and the flow of fighters into Ukraine across the Ukrainian-Russian border, then it will stop.  And if it stops, then the separatists will still have the capacity to enter into negotiations and try to arrive at the sort of political accommodations that Mr. Putin himself says he wants to see.  He has the most control over that situation, and so far, at least, he has not exercised it.

Q    Tougher sanctions in Europe — will you push for them?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think that this certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine; that it is not going to be localized, it is not going to be contained.  What we’ve seen here is — just in one country alone, our great allies, the Dutch, 150 or more of their citizens being killed.  And that, I think, sadly brings home the degree to which the stakes are high for Europe, not simply for the Ukrainian people, and that we have to be firm in our resolve in making sure that we are supporting Ukraine in its efforts to bring about a just cease-fire and that we can move towards a political solution to this.

I’m going to make this the last question.  Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg.

Q    Do we know yet if there were other Americans on board beyond the person you mentioned?  And how do you prevent stricter restrictions, economic sanctions from shocking the global economy and –

THE PRESIDENT:  We have been pretty methodical over the last 24 hours in working through the flight manifest and identifying which passengers might have had a U.S. passport.  At this point, the individual that I mentioned is the sole person that we can definitively say was a U.S. or dual citizen.

Because events are moving so quickly, I don’t want to say with absolute certainty that there might not be additional Americans, but at this stage, having worked through the list, been in contact with the Malaysian government, which processed the passports as folks were boarding, this is our best assessment of the number of Americans that were killed.  Obviously that does nothing to lessen our outrage about all those families.  Regardless of nationality, it is a heartbreaking event.

With respect to the effect of sanctions on the economy, we have consistently tried to tailor these sanctions in ways that would have an impact on Russia, on their economy, on their institutions or individuals that are aiding and abetting in the activities that are taking place in eastern Ukraine, while minimizing the impacts on not only the U.S. economy but the global economy.

It is a relevant consideration that we have to keep in mind.  The world economy is integrated; Russia is a large economy; there’s a lot of financial flows between Russia and the rest of the world.  But we feel confident that at this point the sanctions that we’ve put in place are imposing a cost on Russia, that their overall impact on the global economy is minimal.  It is something that we have to obviously pay close attention to, but I think Treasury, in consultation with our European partners, have done a good job so far on that issue.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
12:15 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 17, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economy and on the Malaysia Airlines Jet Shot Down Over Ukraine

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Economy — Wilmington, DE

Source: WH, 7-17-14 

Port of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware

2:10 P.M.
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.  It is wonderful to be back in Delaware.

Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.  And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.  Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard.  That is our first priority.  And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government.  The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.  And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.

I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction.  Give Jeremie a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here.  Give them a big round of applause.  We love them.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Governor Jack Markell.  (Applause.)  Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, County Executive Tom Gordon, and the Mayor of Wilmington, Dennis Williams.  (Applause.)  We’ve also got two terrific members of my Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is here — (applause) — and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is here.  (Applause.)

Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money.  (Laughter.) Although it’s kind of illegible.  We teased him when he first became Treasury Secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom.  (Laughter.)

Now, the bridge behind me used to carry 90,000 cars every day — 90,000.  Since last month, it’s been closed for repairs.  Once workers are done repairing it, this bridge will be safer, it will be more reliable for commuters and for commerce.  And thanks to a competitive grant program called TIGER — a program, by the way, that was part of the Recovery Act that we initiated when I first came into office and Joe Biden helped to manage — this port is rebuilding a wharf that will finally let Wilmington compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships.  (Applause.)  For the biggest cargo ships.  So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states.

And that’s what I’m here to talk about today — and I’ve been talking about this all week — creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class.

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, in part because of the actions we took, primarily because of the strength and determination of the American people, our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  (Applause.)  Construction and housing are rebounding.  The auto industry is booming — it was in a tailspin when we came in.  Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 — which is one of the fastest one-year drops in nearly 30 years.  (Applause.)

And the decisions we made — not only to rescue our economy, but to start rebuilding it on a firmer foundation — those decisions are starting to pay off.  We are more energy independent.  For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from abroad.  First time in 20 years we’re doing that.  (Applause.)
At the same time, we’re actually reducing our carbon pollution, and we’re creating new jobs in clean and renewable energies — three times as much wind power; 10 times as much solar power.

In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high.  More young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  401(k)s are growing.  Fewer homes are underwater.  Millions more now have the peace of mind of having quality, affordable health care if they need it.  And the deficit is coming down to boot, been cut more than half.  (Applause.)

So by almost every economic measure, we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office.  And as I said, most of it is thanks to you, the resilience and the resolve of the American people.  Because of that we’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth.  And business leaders, for the first time in a decade, around the world are saying that China is not the best place to invest; the United States of America is the most promising place to invest.

So we’ve got this huge opportunity to keep this momentum going, to keep growing the economy, but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared.  We got to make sure we’re creating not just more jobs, but also raising middle-class wages and incomes, and making it easier for folks, if they’re working hard and doing the right thing, to raise a family.

We got to make sure that we’re not just graduating more kids, we’ve got to also train more workers and make college more affordable.  We got to make sure our economy works for every American.  That’s why I ran for President.  That’s what I’m focused on every day.  And this is more than just some fleeting political story or made-up scandal; this is the challenge of our times — making sure that if you work hard and you’re responsible, anybody can get ahead in this country.  That’s what America is about.  And we can achieve that if we just see a few changes in Washington’s priorities.

So, today, I’m here to talk about just one example: creating good jobs of the sort that Jeremie just talked about — good jobs rebuilding America.  We know that in the 21st century economy, businesses are going to set up shop wherever they find the best roads, the best bridges, the fastest Internet connection, the fastest rail lines, the smartest airports, the best power grid.  First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs.  Unfortunately, right now, our investment in transportation lags behind a lot of other countries.  China is doing more.  Germany is doing more.  They’re putting money back into building the infrastructure we need to grow over the long term.

And if Washington were working the way it was supposed to, Congress would be creating jobs right now, jobs just like Jeremie talked about — jobs like these guys in the hard hats are doing right now rebuilding bridges and roads and airports and ports all across the country.  (Applause.)  It helps us now and it helps up create jobs tomorrow.  That’s what we should be doing.

But instead of creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure in a predictable, sustainable way, the debate in Washington lately has been about something called the Highway Trust Fund.  It’s how America is supposed to support states on transportation projects.  Congress has to keep it funded, otherwise states have to put projects on hold, put construction workers back on the unemployment line.

The good news is, Democrats and Republicans are about to pass a short-term fix that will keep funding going for about another nine or ten months.  And I support that.  I mean, the least we can do is just support the jobs that are already there, keep Americans on the job.  But if that’s all Congress does, then we’re going to have the same kind of funding crisis nine months from now.  And that’s not how normally you fund infrastructure, because you got to plan it and you got to think about how are we helping folks and how are we helping states and cities and municipalities create plans for the future and make sure that the funding streams are level.  We don’t need unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines that crunch a few months from now.  And we shouldn’t have been this close to the deadline in the first place.

As your governor has pointed, even smaller transportation projects can take years to design and plan and build.  A few months of funding doesn’t cut it.  And so Jack said, “To call this a Band-Aid is an insult to a Band-Aid.”  That’s a pretty good line.   (Laughter.)  I’m going to have to try that out.  (Applause.)

So Congress shouldn’t be too proud.  It shouldn’t pat itself on the back for kicking the can down the road every few months.  Instead of barely paying our bills in the present, we should be planning and investing in our future.  That’s how the economy grows for everybody.  The American people work hard every single day, and your efforts shouldn’t be threatened every few months by a manufactured crisis in Washington.  Everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute every time.

So what I’ve done is earlier this year put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a long-term responsible way, a plan that would support millions of jobs, would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to hire more workers faster.  It would help small businesses ship their goods faster.  It would help parents get home from their commute faster so they can see their kids.

And it wouldn’t add to what is already a rapidly shrinking deficit because we pay for it in part by closing loopholes for companies that are shipping profits overseas and are avoiding paying their fair share of taxes.  So that’s what we need, a broad-based plan.  We got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance in this country in roads and bridges and sewer systems and water mains.  And we could put a lot of people back to work right now getting that done.  And we’re going to have to do it eventually anyway.

But so far, Congress has refused to act on the idea — which is strange because infrastructure should not be a partisan issue.  If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System.  Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad.  Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off.  When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century.  That’s what right now Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on.  But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own.  (Applause.)

So today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative.  And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects.  There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment.  They get a steady return.

And lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure.  So my administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington.

And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America, and raise more workers’ wages, help women fight for fair pay, ease loan burdens for millions of students.  We’re taking steps on our own, still hoping that Congress at some point actually does something.  (Applause.)

I keep hearing from folks all across the country who tell me if members of Congress have the same priorities that most Americans do, if they felt the same sense of urgency that you feel in your own lives, we could help a lot of families right now.
Instead of playing politics, we should be creating jobs by investing in what makes our economy strong -– infrastructure and manufacturing and energy, and research and development, and education.  All these things lead to new industries.
We should be training our workers to fill new jobs.  We should be preparing our kids to face global competition.  We should be making sure that hard work pays off with a higher minimum wage.

We should be seizing these opportunities.  And there’s a simple principle behind it.  When the middle class does good, and when people have ladders into the middle class if they work hard, everybody does better.  You have more customers for businesses.  Folks at the very top do better.  America grows best from the middle out, not from the top down.  That’s when we succeed.

So I’m going to keep on looking for areas where Republicans and Democrats agree to move this country forward.  But I’m not going to stand by when politics and inaction are holding us back.  (Applause.)
Wherever and whenever I have a chance to help families like yours I’m going to do it.  When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it.  That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act.

And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit.  (Laughter.)  They’re suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job.  That’s disappointing.  It’s a political stunt.  And, by the way, they’re using taxpayer money to do it.  It’s your money that they’re wasting on this, which no serious lawyers think makes any sense.  It’s just a political stunt.  We could be spending the time, energy, and effort and money to help your families.

And maybe the folks behind this think it will help them politically.  I guarantee you, it’s not helping you.  We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let’s focus on our country, let’s focus on our people — a sense of common purpose, the understanding we rise or fall as one nation and as one people.  That’s how we built this country together.  And that’s what Washington has to remember.
And the one thing I know for certain — if we work together, if we believe in one another, then we’re going to keep on rebuilding our middle class.  We’re going to restore the American Dream for the next generation.  We will continue to make sure that America is the place where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started, you can make it if you try.  You’ve shown it here in Delaware.  We can show it all across the country.  We just need a little more focus in Washington.  So keep the pressure on everybody.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  Let’s build some bridges.  Let’s build some roads.  God bless America.

END
2:26 P.M. EDT

International Headlines July 17, 2014: Malaysia Airlines Jet Crashes in Ukraine Shot Down by Russian Buk Missile 295 Dead

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES

WORLD NEWS & POLITICS

Malaysia Airlines Jet Crashes in Ukraine, May Have Been Shot Down

Source: NYT, 7-17-14

A plane with nearly 300 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, and Ukraine’s president did not rule out that it might have been shot down….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 22, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State

Source: WH, 4-22-14

Oso Firehouse
Oso, Washington

4:13 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  I just had a chance to tour some of the damage from last month’s mudslide.  And, most importantly, I had a chance to spend some time with the families whose loved ones have been lost.  I also had a chance to thank some of the amazing first responders, the firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, and members of the Washington National Guard who have been working around the clock to help this community recover from this devastating incident.

Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Congresswoman DelBene, Congressman Larsen, and the rest of the elected officials who are here, they’ve been relentless in making sure that Oso had the resources that it needs.  And from the day of the tragedy, I’ve instructed my team to make sure that they get what they need to make sure that the search and rescue mission is going forward the way it should.

A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team was on the ground immediately after the mudslide, and a search and rescue team was deployed to help locate and recover victims.  We immediately approved an emergency declaration to provide additional resources to state and local responders.  And I followed that by approving a major disaster declaration to help residents and business owners rebuild, and to help state and local and tribal governments with emergency work.

Today, that work continues.  There are still families who are searching for loved ones.  There are families who have lost everything, and it’s going to be a difficult road ahead for them.  And that’s why I wanted to come here — just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy.

We’re not going anywhere.  We’ll be here as long as it takes.  Because while very few Americans have ever heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small.

Over the past month, we’ve seen neighbors and complete strangers donate everything from chainsaws to rain jackets to help with the recovery effort.  We’ve seen families cook meals for rescue workers.  We’ve seen volunteers pull 15-hour days, searching through mud up to 70 feet deep.  One resident said, “We’re Oso.  We just do it.”  That’s what this community is all about.  And I think the outstanding work of Sheriff Willy Harper here helping to coordinate all of this — I was saying, he’s a pretty young sheriff, but he has shouldered this burden in an incredible way.  And we’re very, very proud of him, as we are of all the local responders.

This is family.  And these are folks who love this land, and it’s easy to see why — because it’s gorgeous.  And there’s a way of life here that’s represented.  And to see the strength in adversity of this community I think should inspire all of us, because this is also what America is all about.

When times get tough, we look out for each other.  We get each other’s backs.  And we recover and we build, and we come back stronger.  And we’re always reminded that we’re greater together.  That’s how we’ll support each other every step of the way.

I have to say that the families that I met with showed incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty.  Uniformly, though, they all wanted to say thank you to the first responders.  They were deeply appreciative of the efforts that everybody has made.  And I know that many of the first responders have heard that directly, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat that we’re very appreciative of what you’ve done.

And I also want to say that some terrific lessons were learned in the midst of very hard times during this process, because almost uniquely, we had not just coordination between state, local and federal officials, but also coordination between volunteers and those officials.  And I know that it required some improvisation and some kinks getting worked out, but it was important for the family members themselves and the community themselves to be hands-on and participate in this process — particularly a community like this one where folks are hearty and know how to do things, and take great pride in being self-reliant.  It was important that they weren’t just bystanders in this process, they were involved every step of the way.

One last point I’ll make.  I’ve received a number of letters from residents — either Darrington, or Arlington, or Oso itself — over the last several weeks, and one in particular struck me.  It was from a firefighter who I may have met today; he didn’t identify himself.  But he pointed out how those who were operating the heavy machinery during this whole process did so with an incredible care and delicacy because they understood that this wasn’t an ordinary job, this wasn’t just a matter of moving earth; that this was a matter of making sure that we were honoring and respecting the lives that had been impacted.

And two things were of note in that letter:  Number one, that this firefighter pointed out properly the incredible work that’s been done under very tough circumstances.  Number two, he was pointing out what others were doing, not what he was doing.  And to see a community come together like this and not be interested in who’s getting credit, but just making sure that the job gets done, that says a lot about the character of this place.

And so we’re very, very proud of all of you.  Michelle and I grieve with you.  The whole country is thinking about you.  And we’re going to make sure that we’re there every step of the way as we go through the grieving, the mourning, the recovery.  We’re going to be strong right alongside you.

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
4:21 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 13, 2014: President Obama’s Statement on the Shooting the Overland Jewish Community Center in Kansas

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Obama on Today’s Shooting in Kansas

Source:  WH, 4-13-14

This afternoon we heard reports of a horrific shooting in Overland Park, Kansas.  Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends who lost a loved one and everyone affected by this tragedy.  I have asked my team to stay in close touch with our federal, state and local partners and provide the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation. While we do not know all of the details surrounding today’s shooting, the initial reports are heartbreaking. I want to offer my condolences to all the families trying to make sense of this difficult situation and pledge the full support from the federal government as we heal and cope during this trying time.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 9, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Fort Hood Memorial Service

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Fort Hood Memorial Service

Source: WH, 4-9-14

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama depart after the President placed a coin on each of the three boxes for those who died, during a memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood shootings.President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pay their respects during a memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood shootings, at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, April 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Fort Hood Killeen, Texas

2:06 P.M. CDT THE PRESIDENT:  In our lives — in our joys and in our sorrows — we’ve learned that there is “a time for every matter under heaven.”  We laugh and we weep.  We celebrate and we mourn.  We serve in war and we pray for peace.  But Scripture also teaches that, alongside the temporal, one thing is eternal. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” Deputy Secretary Fox; General Dempsey; Secretary McHugh; Generals Odierno and Milley; and most of all, the families of the soldiers who have been taken from us; the wounded — those who have returned to duty and those still recovering; and the entire community of Fort Hood, this “Great Place”:  It is love, tested by tragedy, that brings us together again. It was love for country that inspired these three Americans to put on the uniform and join the greatest Army that the world has ever known.  Sergeant First Class Daniel Ferguson.  Staff Sergeant Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez.  Sergeant Timothy Owens. And Danny and Carlos joined two decades ago, in a time of peace, and stayed as the nation went to war.  Timothy joined after 9/11, knowing he could be sent into harm’s way.  Between them, they deployed nine times.  Each served in Iraq.  Danny came home from Afghanistan just last year.  They lived those shining values — loyalty, duty, honor — that keep us strong and free. It was love for the Army that made them the soldiers they were.  For Danny, said his fiancée, being in the Army “was his life.”  Carlos, said a friend, was “the epitome of what you would want a leader to be in the Army.”  Timothy helped counsel his fellow soldiers.  Said a friend, “He was always the person you could go talk to.” And it was love for their comrades, for all of you, that defined their last moments.  As we’ve heard, when the gunman tried to push his way into that room, Danny held the door shut, saving the lives of others while sacrificing his own.  And it’s said that Timothy — the counselor, even then — gave his life, walking toward the gunman, trying to calm him down. For you, their families, no words are equal to your loss.  We are here on behalf of the American people to honor your loved ones and to offer whatever comfort we can.  But know this:  We also draw strength from you.  For even in your grief, even as your heart breaks, we see in you that eternal truth: “Love never ends.” To the parents of these men — as a father, I cannot begin to fathom your anguish.  But I know that you poured your love and your hopes into your sons.  I know that the men and soldiers they became — their sense of service and their patriotism — so much of that came from you.  You gave your sons to America, and just as you will honor them always, so, too, will the nation that they served. To the loves of their lives — Timothy’s wife Billy and Danny’s fiancée Kristen — these soldiers cherished the Army, but their hearts belonged to you.  And that’s a bond that no earthly power can ever break.  They have slipped from your embrace, but know that you will never be alone.  Because this Army and this nation stands with you for all the days to come. To their children — we live in a dangerous world, and your fathers served to keep you safe and us safe.  They knew you have so much to give our country; that you’d make them proud.  Timothy’s daughter Lori already has.  Last Wednesday night, she posted this message online: “I just want everyone to think for a moment.”  Love your family, she said, “because you never know when [they’re] gonna be taken from you.  I love you, daddy.” And to the men and women of Fort Hood — as has already been mentioned, part of what makes this so painful is that we have been here before.  This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago.  Once more, soldiers who survived foreign warzones were struck down here at home, where they’re supposed to be safe.  We still do not yet know exactly why, but we do know this:  We must honor their lives, not “in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” We must honor these men with a renewed commitment to keep our troops safe, not just in battle but on the home front, as well.  In our open society, and at vast bases like this, we can never eliminate every risk.  But as a nation, we can do more to help counsel those with mental health issues, to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are having such deep difficulties.  As a military, we must continue to do everything in our power to secure our facilities and spare others this pain. We must honor these men by doing more to care for our fellow Americans living with mental illness, civilian and military.  Today, four American soldiers are gone.  Four Army families are devastated.  As Commander-in-Chief, I’m determined that we will continue to step up our efforts — to reach our troops and veterans who are hurting, to deliver to them the care that they need, and to make sure we never stigmatize those who have the courage to seek help. And finally, we must honor these men by recognizing that they were members of a generation that has borne the burden of our security in more than a decade of war.  Now our troops are coming home, and by the end of this year our war in Afghanistan will finally be over. In an era when fewer Americans know someone in uniform, every American must see these men and these women — our 9/11 Generation — as the extraordinary citizens that they are.  They love their families.  They excel at their jobs.  They serve their communities.  They are leaders.  And when we truly welcome our veterans home, when we show them that we need them — not just to fight in other countries, but to build up our own — then our schools and our businesses, our communities and our nation will be more successful, and America will be stronger and more united for decades to come. Sergeant First Class Daniel Ferguson.  Staff Sergeant Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez.  Sergeant Timothy Owens.  Like the 576 Fort Hood soldiers who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were taken from us much too soon.  Like the 13 Americans we lost five years ago, their passing shakes our soul.  And in moments such as this, we summon once more what we’ve learned in these hard years of war.  We reach within our wounded hearts.  We lean on each other.  We hold each other up.  We carry on.  And with God’s amazing grace, we somehow bear what seems unbearable. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”  May God watch over these American soldiers, may He keep strong their families whose love endures, and may God continue to bless the United States of America with patriots such as these. END 2:18 P.M. CDT

Political Musings February 14, 2014: Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

POLITICAL MUSINGS

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=500&h=80?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As snow blanketed the Washington DC area on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 Congress and the White House came almost to a standstill, cancelling most events, work, a traditional snow day. Over 10 inches of snow fell in the capitol region…

Continue

Political Headlines May 26, 2013: President Barack Obama Tours Tornado Damage: Country Will Be ‘Shelter from the Storm’ for Oklahoma

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Country Will Be ‘Shelter from the Storm’ for Oklahoma

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-26-13

Oklahoma Cty Sheriff(MOORE, Okla.)

Standing in front of the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed by last week’s tornado, President Obama offered words of support to the community of Moore, Okla., saying that people across this country will serve as a “shelter from the storm” for all those impacted by the deadly tornadoes.

“God has a plan, and it’s important to know that we also recognize we’re instruments of His will, and we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore,” the president said in Moore, Okla. at the site where seven students were killed by the tornado on Monday. “When we say we’ve got your backs, I promise you, we keep our word.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech After Touring the Tornado Damage in Moore, Oklahoma

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Tours Tornado Damage in Moore, Oklahoma: “We’ve Got Your Back”

Source: WH, 5-26-13

It was just one week ago that tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, devastating the town of Moore.

Today, President Obama traveled to the area — visiting Plaza Towers Elementary School to offer a nation’s condolences, and a promise to help Moore rebuild.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks along side what remains of Plaza Towers Elementary SchoolPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks along side what remains of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, May 26, 2013. Oklahoman Governor Mary Fallin, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and local officials stand with him. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President thanked Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore for their quick, outstanding response, and praised other local officials instrumental in helping to save lives and jumpstart the town’s recovery efforts.

President Obama highlighted the everyday acts of heroism in Moore, thanking first responders and volunteers for embodying the “Oklahoma Standard”

President Barack Obama talks with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in MoorePresident Barack Obama talks with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, and local officials as he tours tornado damage along a block of Eagle Drive in Moore, Okla., May 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President closed by urging every American to step up and help the people of Oklahoma.

After visiting Plaza Towers, President Obama stopped by Moore Fire Department Station #1 to meet with first responders. The fire station has served as a command center throughout the disaster, first for search and rescue and now for survivor services.

President Barack Obama talks with first responders in MoorePresident Barack Obama talks with first responders and agency officials at Moore Fire Department Station #1 in Moore, Okla., May 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Remarks by the President After Touring the Tornado Damage in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-26-13 

Moore, Oklahoma

12:57 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Obviously, a picture is worth a thousand words, and what we’re seeing here I think gives you some sense of what the people of Moore and the people of Oklahoma have been dealing with over these last several days.

There are a couple of acknowledgements that I want to make, but let me begin by just saying that whenever I come to an area that’s been devastated by some natural disaster like this, I want to make sure everybody understands I’m speaking on behalf of the entire country.  Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you, they’re thinking about you, and they want to help.

And so I’m just a messenger here today, letting everybody here know that you are not alone, that you’ve got folks behind you.

Obviously, the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend.  Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted, including those who had loved ones who were lost.  And that was true for the parents of some of the children here at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

There are a number of people I want to especially thank, because they’ve engaged in some heroic efforts in dealing with this disaster.  First of all, Governor Mary Fallin, thank you so much for your quick response and your outstanding work.  Mayor Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, who has been mayor here before, when there was a disaster, and because of his strong spirit and sense of community has been able to help lead the community through this disaster.  We very much appreciate your work.

Representative Tom Cole — not only is this his congressional district, but more importantly, this is his hometown.  And so for him, this carries a special sadness but also a resolve in terms of trying to make sure that the city of Moore bounces back.  Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City, a neighbor and friend — we appreciate him being here.  Craig Fugate is here, and obviously we are very proud of the work that he and his FEMA team have done.  Susie Pierce, superintendent of schools here — thank you for your leadership.

Amy Simpson — I want to especially commend Plaza Towers Elementary School principal, as well as Shelley McMillan, the Briarwood Elementary School principal.  They were on the ground when this happened, and because of their quick response, their keeping a level head, their putting kids first saved a lot of people.  And they’re still going through some tough times.  I can only imagine being their husbands, who are here, and the panic that I’m sure they were feeling when the tornado first struck.  But I know that they could not be prouder of their wives for the outstanding work that they did in this amazing situation.

I want to thank Chief of Police, Jerry Stillings, and all the first responders in this area who were some of the first folks on the scene who were putting themselves at risk to save other people’s lives.  That’s what first responders do — but sometimes we take them for granted, and it’s important we don’t and we remember moments like that.  That’s why it’s so important that we continually support them.

At my direction, Craig Fugate arrived here on Tuesday.  FEMA was on the ground even before Monday’s tornado hit.  And their teams have now completed searches of more than 1,200 buildings.  We’ve helped to register more than 4,200 people for disaster assistance, and we’ve approved more than $3.4 million in direct aid.  Obviously, there’s a lot more to come.  But it’s not just a government response.  We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.

This area has known more than its share of heartbreak.  But people here pride themselves on the “Oklahoma Standard” –- what Governor Fallin has called, “Being able to work through disasters like this, and [to] come out stronger on the other side.”  And that’s what we’ve been seeing this week.

From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship.

Neighbors have been offering up spare bedrooms and couches for those in need of shelter.  Universities have opened up their buildings for temporary housing.  And local companies have pitched in.

This is a strong community with strong character.  There’s no doubt they’re going to bounce back.  But they need help — just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we’re seeing here.  We have about 1,200 homes that have been completely destroyed, but we’ve got 12,000 that have been damaged in one way or another, and that’s a big piece of business.  And along with the schools, we’ve got a hospital that has been destroyed.  It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild.

So I want to urge every American to step up.  If I’ve got one message for folks here today:  Go online, donate to the American Red Cross.  And if you’re from the area and you need to register for disaster assistance, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA.  That’s 1-800-621-FEMA.  Or you can go to disasterassistance.gov.  Disasterassistance.gov on the web.  Either way, I guarantee you, if you’ve got some significant damage and have been impacted, go ahead and reach out, and there are going to be professionals there who are ready and willing to provide you the assistance that you need.

We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy.  Your mayor said that you’re already printing new street signs.  And I want folks affected throughout Oklahoma to know that we’re going to be with you every step of the way.

On Sunday, the first deadly tornadoes touched down about 40 miles from here.  And I mentioned this the day afterwards — there was a story that really struck me in the press — in the rubble was found a Bible, open to the words that read:  “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest.”  And it’s a reminder, as Scripture often is, that God has a plan, and it’s important, though, that we also recognize we’re an instrument of his will.  And we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted.

And when we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word.  If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it.  And I want everybody to have that confidence.

So, again, to all the people here behind me, I want to say how proud I am of them, how grateful I am for their service.  I want to make one final comment.  A lot of the first responders talked about the training they’ve done, in part through some federal grants, to prepare for disasters like this.  And, as a consequence, when it actually happens, they know what to do, they’re not losing time, they’re able to go through all the drills and the training that they’ve gone through.

Training, education, both for citizenry but also for first responders, is absolutely critical.  And we’ve got to make sure that those resources remain in place.  So I know everybody in Congress cares deeply about what’s happening, and I’m confident that resources will be forthcoming when it comes to rebuilding.  But remember that it’s also the ongoing training and equipment that we’re making sure that those things are in place.  We can’t shortchange that kind of ongoing disaster response.  We can’t just wait until the disaster happens.  That’s how, in part, we were able to save a lot of lives — and I want everybody to keep that in mind.

So with that, let me just, again, say thank you to everybody here.  Madam Governor, thank you for your leadership.  And may God bless the people of Oklahoma and obviously continue to bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

END 1:07 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines May 25, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Sen Jim Inhofe Says Oklahoma ‘Hit Hard,’ But ‘Not Knocked Out’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Weekly Address: Oklahoma ‘Hit Hard,’ But ‘Not Knocked Out’

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-25-13

US Senate

In this week’s Republican address, Oklahoma’s senior senator, Jim Inhofe, speaks about the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla. this week.

Oklahoma has been hit hard, but we’re not knocked out,” Sen. Inhofe says in the address, delivered on location in Moore….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Responds to the Tornadoes & Severe Weather in Oklahoma

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Responds to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, you can also register as “Safe and Well” to let your friends and family know you are okay. Check back here for more information — we’ll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weatherPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma, in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 21, 2013. Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino accompany the President. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.

This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they “would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.

“Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need,” President Obama said. “Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.”…READ MORE

Watch the full statement below or read the remarks here.

Remarks by the President on the Tornadoes and Severe Weather in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

State Dining Room

10:08 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  As we all know by now, a series of storms swept across the Plains yesterday, and one of the most destructive tornadoes in history sliced through the towns of Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma.  In an instant, neighborhoods were destroyed.  Dozens of people lost their lives. Many more were injured.  And among the victims were young children, trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew — their school.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.

Our gratitude is with the teachers who gave their all to shield their children; with the neighbors, first responders, and emergency personnel who raced to help as soon as the tornado passed; and with all of those who, as darkness fell, searched for survivors through the night.

As a nation, our full focus right now is on the urgent work of rescue, and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead.

Yesterday, I spoke with Governor Fallin to make it clear to Oklahomans that they would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.  Last night, I issued a disaster declaration to expedite those resources, to support the Governor’s team in the immediate response, and to offer direct assistance to folks who have suffered loss.  I also just spoke with Mayor Lewis of Moore, Oklahoma, to ensure that he’s getting everything that he needs.

I’ve met with Secretary Napolitano this morning and my Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, Lisa Monaco, to underscore that point that Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away.  The FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, is on his way to Oklahoma as we speak.  FEMA staff was first deployed to Oklahoma’s Emergency Operations Center on Sunday, as the state already was facing down the first wave of deadly tornadoes.  Yesterday, FEMA activated Urban Search and Rescue Teams from Texas, Nebraska, and Tennessee to assist in the ongoing search and rescue efforts, and a mobile response unit to boost communications and logistical support.

So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes.  For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention.

There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.

We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage from this week’s storm.  We don’t know both the human and economic losses that may have occurred.  We know that severe rumbling of weather, bad weather, through much of the country still continues, and we’re also preparing for a hurricane season that begins next week.

But if there is hope to hold on to, not just in Oklahoma but around the country, it’s the knowledge that the good people there and in Oklahoma are better prepared for this type of storm than most.  And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need.  Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point.  And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.

For those of you who want to help, you can go online right now to the American Red Cross, which is already on the ground in Moore.  Already we’ve seen the University of Oklahoma announce that it will provide housing for displaced families.  We’ve seen local churches and companies open their doors and their wallets. And last night, the people of Joplin dispatched a team to help the people of Moore.

So for all those who’ve been affected, we recognize that you face a long road ahead.  In some cases, there will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed, but you will not travel that path alone.  Your country will travel it with you, fueled by our faith in the Almighty and our faith in one another.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.  And we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes.

Thank you very much.

END
10:13 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama late Monday declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma after a massive tornado ripped through the city of Moore, leaving at least 24 people dead and more than 100 injured.

In a statement, the White House said the president “ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.”…READ MORE

President Obama Signs Oklahoma Disaster Declaration

Source: WH, 5-21-13 

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Memorial Service for Those Who Died and Were Injured in the West Texas Plant Explosion at the University of Baylor, Waco, Texas

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Memorial Service — Waco, TX

Source: WH, 4-25-13 

University of Baylor
Waco, Texas

3:54 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Please.  Thank you, Senator Cornyn, Governor Perry, President Starr, gathered dignitaries, the community of Baylor and Waco — most of all, the family and the friends and neighbors of West, Texas.

I cannot match the power of the voices you just heard on that video.  And no words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night.  What I can do is offer the love and support and prayers of the nation.

The Book of Psalms tells us, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.  “We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

For this state, for our country, these have been trying and difficult days.  We gather here in Texas to mourn the brave men who went through fire and all those who have been taken from us.  We remain mindful of our fellow Americans in flooded states to the north who endure the high waters.  We pray for those in Boston who have been tested, and the wounded whose greatest tests still lie ahead.

But know this:  While the eyes of the world may have been fixed on places far away, our hearts have also been here in your time of tribulation.  And even amidst such sorrow and so much pain, we recognize God’s abundance.  We give thanks for the courage and the compassion and the incredible grace of the people of West.

We’re grateful for Mayor Muska and Mayor Duncan, and all those who have shown such leadership during this tragedy.  And to the families and neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say, you are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too.  (Applause.)  We’re Americans, too, and we stand with you, and we do not forget.  And we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.  Your country will remain ever ready to help you recover and rebuild and reclaim your community.  (Applause.)

Until last week, I think it’s fair to say that few outside this state had ever heard of West.  And I suspect that’s the way most people in West like it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Now, it is true that weary travelers, and now the wider world, know they can rely on the Czech Stop for a brief respite in the middle of a long stretch of highway.  I want to say, by the way, all the former Presidents in Dallas send their thoughts and prayers, and George W. and Laura Bush spoke longingly about the kolaches — (laughter) — and the even better company, as they’ve driven through West.  And what they understand, and what all of you understand, is what makes West special is not the attention coming from far-flung places.  What makes West special, what puts it on the map is what makes it familiar:  The people who live there.  The neighbors you can count on.  Places that haven’t changed.  Things that are solid and true and lasting.

Most of the people in West know everybody in West.  Many of you are probably descended from those first settlers — hardy immigrants who crossed an ocean and kept on going.  So for you, there’s no such thing as a stranger.  When someone is in need, you reach out to them and you support them, and you do what it takes to help them carry on.

That’s what happened last Wednesday, when a fire alarm sounded across a quiet Texas evening.  As we’ve heard, the call went out to volunteers — not professionals — people who just love to serve.  People who want to help their neighbors.  A call went out to farmers and car salesmen; and welders and funeral home directors; the city secretary and the mayor.  It went out to folks who are tough enough and selfless enough to put in a full day’s work and then be ready for more.

And together, you answered the call.  You dropped your schoolwork, left your families, jumped in fire trucks, and rushed to the flames.  And when you got to the scene, you forgot fear and you fought that blaze as hard as you could, knowing the danger, buying time so others could escape.  And then, about 20 minutes after the first alarm, the earth shook, and the sky went dark — and West changed forever.

Today our prayers are with the families of all who we’ve lost — the proud sons and daughters of West whose memories will live on in our hearts.  Parents who loved their kids, and leaders who served their communities.  They were young and old, from different backgrounds and different walks of life.  A few were just going about their business.  An awful lot ran towards the scene of disaster trying to help.  One was described as the kind of guy whose phone was always ringing with folks in need of help — help he always provided.  That’s just who these folks were.

Our thoughts are with those who face a long road — the wounded, the heartbroken, the families who lost their homes and possessions in an instant.  They’re going to need their friends in West, but they’re also going to need their friends in Texas, and their friends all across this country.  They’ll still need you to answer that call.  They will need those things that are lasting and true.  For, as Scripture teaches us, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

To the people of West, just as we’ve seen the love you share in better times, as friends and brothers and sisters, these hard days have shown your ability to stand tall in times of unimaginable adversity.

You saw it in leaders like Mayor Muska, who lost close friends.  And you saw it in the hospital staff who spent the night treating people that they knew — toiling through their tears as they did what had to be done.

We saw it in the folks who helped evacuate an entire nursing home, including one man who drove an elderly resident to safety and then came back to do it again, twice.

We saw it in the people so generous that when the Red Cross set up a shelter for folks who couldn’t go back to their homes, not that many people showed up, because most had already been offered a place to stay with their friends and family and neighbors

Complete strangers drove from hundreds of miles to donate supplies.  Firefighters from surrounding communities manned the stations so surviving volunteers could recover from their wounds.  Right here at Baylor, students stood in line for hours to give blood.  And a nearby school district opened its doors to the students who can’t go back to their classrooms, putting welcome signs on lockers and in the hallways.

So that’s the thing about this tragedy.  This small town’s family is bigger now.  It extends beyond the boundaries of West.  And in the days ahead, this love and support will be more important than ever, because there will be moments of doubt and pain and the temptation to wonder how this community will ever fully recover.  And the families who have lost such remarkable men of the sort that we saw in that video, there are going to be times where they simply don’t understand how this could have happened.

But today I see in the people of West, in your eyes, that what makes West special isn’t going to go away.  And instead of changing who you are, this tragedy has simply revealed who you’ve always been.

It’s the courage of Deborah Sulak, who works as a cashier just around the corner from the fire station.  She said, “It’s going to be tough for the families.  But we’re going to rebound because we’re fighters.”  And that courage will bring West back.  (Applause.)

It’s the love of Carla Ruiz, who used to live in West but now lives in Austin.  And last week, she drove all the way back.  “I had to be here,” she said.  “You have to be here for family.”  That love will keep West going.

It’s the faith of someone like Pastor John Crowder that will sustain the good people of West for as long as it takes.  His church was damaged in the explosion.  So on Sunday, the congregation assembled outside.  “What happened Wednesday was awful,” he told them.  “But God is bigger than all of this.”  (Applause.)  God is bigger than all of this and he is here with you in West.  He is bigger than all of this and he is here with you.

Going forward, it’s not just your town that needs your courage and your love and your faith.  America does, too.  We need towns where if you don’t know what your kids are up to, then chances are your neighbors do too, and they’ll tell on those kids in a second.  (Laughter.)  America needs towns that holds fundraisers to help folks pay the medical bills and then take the time to drop off a home-cooked meal, because they know a family is under stress.  America needs communities where there’s always somebody to call if your car gets stuck or your house gets flooded.  We need people who so love their neighbors as themselves that they’re willing to lay down their lives for them.

America needs towns like West.  (Applause.)  That’s what makes this country great, is towns like West.  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

You have been tested, West.  You have been tried.  You have gone through fire.  But you are and always will be surrounded by an abundance of love.  You saw it in the voices on those videos.  You see it in the firefighters and first responders who are here.  (Applause.)  All across America, people are praying for you and thinking of you.  And when they see the faces of those families, they understand that these are not strangers — these are neighbors.  And that’s why we know that we will get through this.

God bless West.  (Applause.)  May God grant His peace on those that we’ve lost, His comfort to their families.  May He continue to bless this great state of Texas, and may He continue to bless these United States of America.

END                4:11 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines April 22, 2013: President Barack Obama & Michelle Obama to Attend Memorial Service for Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Obamas to Attend Memorial Service

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-22-13

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Waco, Texas, Thursday afternoon to attend a memorial service for the victims of last week’s massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

White House press secretary Jay Carney made the announcement on Monday….READ MORE

%d bloggers like this: