OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Source: FOIA, 5-22-15
U.S Department of State Freedom of Information Act….
Source: FOIA, 5-22-15
U.S Department of State Freedom of Information Act….
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 22, 2015
Source: WH, 5-22-15
Adas Israel Congregation
10:57 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, good morning, everybody!
AUDIENCE: Good morning!
THE PRESIDENT: A slightly early Shabbat Shalom. (Laughter.) I want to thank Rabbi Steinlauf for the very kind introduction. And to all the members of the congregation, thank you so much for such an extraordinary and warm welcome.
I want to thank a couple of outstanding members of Congress who are here. Senator Michael Bennet — where did Michael Bennet go? There he is. (Applause.) And Representative Sandy Levin, who is here. (Applause.) I want to thank our special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, for his important work. There he is. (Applause) But as I said, most of all I want to thank the entire congregation of Adas Israel for having me here today.
Earlier this week, I was actually interviewed by one of your members, Jeff Goldberg. (Applause.) And Jeff reminded me that he once called me “the first Jewish President.” (Laughter.) Now, since some people still seem to be wondering about my faith — (laughter) — I should make clear this was an honorary title. (Laughter.) But I was flattered.
And as an honorary member of the tribe, not to mention somebody who’s hosted seven White House Seders and been advised by — (applause) — and been advised by two Jewish chiefs of staff, I can also proudly say that I’m getting a little bit of the hang of the lingo. (Laughter.) But I will not use any of the Yiddish-isms that Rahm Emanuel taught me because — (laughter) — I want to be invited back. (Laughter.) Let’s just say he had some creative new synonyms for “Shalom.” (Laughter.)
Now, I wanted to come here to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month because this congregation, like so many around the country, helps us to tell the American story. And back in 1876, when President Grant helped dedicate Adas Israel, he became the first sitting President in history to attend a synagogue service. And at the time, it was an extraordinarily symbolic gesture — not just for America, but for the world.
And think about the landscape of Jewish history. Tomorrow night, the holiday of Shavuot marks the moment that Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai, the first link in a chain of tradition that stretches back thousands of years, and a foundation stone for our civilization. Yet for most of those years, Jews were persecuted — not embraced — by those in power. Many of your ancestors came here fleeing that persecution.
The United States could have been merely another destination in that ongoing diaspora. But those who came here found that America was more than just a country. America was an idea. America stood for something. As George Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: The United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
It’s important for us to acknowledge that too often in our history we fell short of those lofty ideals — in the legal subjugation of African Americans, through slavery and Jim Crow; the treatment of Native Americans. And far too often, American Jews faced the scourge of anti-Semitism here at home. But our founding documents gave us a North Star, our Bill of Rights; our system of government gave us a capacity for change. And where other nations actively and legally might persecute or discriminate against those of different faiths, this nation was called upon to see all of us as equal before the eyes of the law. When other countries treated their own citizens as “wretched refuse,” we lifted up our lamp beside the golden door and welcomed them in. Our country is immeasurably stronger because we did. (Applause.)
From Einstein to Brandeis, from Jonas Salk to Betty Friedan, American Jews have made contributions to this country that have shaped it in every aspect. And as a community, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect. The story of Exodus inspired oppressed people around the world in their own struggles for civil rights. From the founding members of the NAACP to a freedom summer in Mississippi, from women’s rights to gay rights to workers’ rights, Jews took the heart of Biblical edict that we must not oppress a stranger, having been strangers once ourselves.
Earlier this year, when we marked the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, we remembered the iconic images of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Dr. King, praying with his feet. To some, it must have seemed strange that a rabbi from Warsaw would take such great risks to stand with a Baptist preacher from Atlanta. But Heschel explained that their cause was one and the same. In his essay, “No Religion is an Island,” he wrote, “We must choose between interfaith and inter-nihilism.” Between a shared hope that says together we can shape a brighter future, or a shared cynicism that says our world is simply beyond repair.
So the heritage we celebrate this month is a testament to the power of hope. Me standing here before you, all of you in this incredible congregation is a testament to the power of hope. (Applause.) It’s a rebuke to cynicism. It’s a rebuke to nihilism. And it inspires us to have faith that our future, like our past, will be shaped by the values that we share. At home, those values compel us to work to keep alive the American Dream of opportunity for all. It means that we care about issues that affect all children, not just our own; that we’re prepared to invest in early childhood education; that we are concerned about making college affordable; that we want to create communities where if you’re willing to work hard, you can get ahead the way so many who fled and arrived on these shores were able to get ahead. Around the world, those values compel us to redouble our efforts to protect our planet and to protect the human rights of all who share this planet.
It’s particularly important to remember now, given the tumult that is taking place in so many corners of the globe, in one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods, those shared values compel us to reaffirm that our enduring friendship with the people of Israel and our unbreakable bonds with the state of Israel — that those bonds, that friendship cannot be broken. (Applause.) Those values compel us to say that our commitment to Israel’s security — and my commitment to Israel’s security — is and always will be unshakeable. (Applause.)
And I’ve said this before: It would be a moral failing on the part of the U.S. government and the American people, it would be a moral failing on my part if we did not stand up firmly, steadfastly not just on behalf of Israel’s right to exist, but its right to thrive and prosper. (Applause.) Because it would ignore the history that brought the state of Israel about. It would ignore the struggle that’s taken place through millennia to try to affirm the kinds of values that say everybody has a place, everybody has rights, everybody is a child of God. (Applause.)
As many of you know, I’ve visited the houses hit by rocket fire in Sderot. I’ve been to Yad Vashem and made that solemn vow: “Never forget. Never again.” When someone threatens Israel’s citizens or its very right to exist, Israelis necessarily that seriously. And so do I. Today, the military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries is stronger than ever. Our support of the Iron Dome’s rocket system has saved Israeli lives. And I can say that no U.S. President, no administration has done more to ensure that Israel can protect itself than this one. (Applause.)
As part of that commitment, there’s something else that the United States and Israel agrees on: Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. (Applause.) Now, there’s a debate about how to achieve that — and that’s a healthy debate. I’m not going to use my remaining time to go too deep into policy — although for those of you who are interested — (laughter) — we have a lot of material out there. (Laughter.) But I do want everybody to just remember a few key things.
The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran’s nuclear program. Now we’re seeking a comprehensive solution. I will not accept a bad deal. As I pointed out in my most recent article with Jeff Goldberg, this deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise. (Applause.) I want a good deal.
I’m interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon — every single path. A deal that imposes unprecedented inspections on all elements of Iran’s nuclear program, so that they can’t cheat; and if they try to cheat, we will immediately know about it and sanctions snap back on. A deal that endures beyond a decade; that addresses this challenge for the long term. In other words, a deal that makes the world and the region — including Israel — more secure. That’s how I define a good deal.
I can’t stand here today and guarantee an agreement will be reached. We’re hopeful. We’re working hard. But nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. And I’ve made clear that when it comes to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, all options are and will remain on the table.
Moreover, even if we do get a good deal, there remains the broader issue of Iran’s support for terrorism and regional destabilization, and ugly threats against Israel. And that’s why our strategic partnership with Israel will remain, no matter what happens in the days and years ahead. And that’s why the people of Israel must always know America has its back, and America will always have its back. (Applause.)
Now, that does not mean that there will not be, or should not be, periodic disagreements between our two governments. There will be disagreements on tactics when it comes to how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that is entirely appropriate and should be fully aired. Because the stakes are sufficiently high that anything that’s proposed has to be subjected to scrutiny — and I welcome that scrutiny.
But there are also going to be some disagreements rooted in shared history that go beyond tactics, that are rooted in how we might remain true to our shared values. I came to know Israel as a young man through these incredible images of kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and Israel overcoming incredible odds in the ’67 war. The notion of pioneers who set out not only to safeguard a nation, but to remake the world. Not only to make the desert bloom, but to allow their values to flourish; to ensure that the best of Judaism would thrive. And those values in many ways came to be my own values. They believed the story of their people gave them a unique perspective among the nations of the world, a unique moral authority and responsibility that comes from having once been a stranger yourself.
And to a young man like me, grappling with his own identity, recognizing the scars of race here in this nation, inspired by the civil rights struggle, the idea that you could be grounded in your history, as Israel was, but not be trapped by it, to be able to repair the world — that idea was liberating. The example of Israel and its values was inspiring.
So when I hear some people say that disagreements over policy belie a general lack of support of Israel, I must object, and I object forcefully. (Applause.) For us to paper over difficult questions, particularly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about settlement policy, that’s not a true measure of friendship.
Before I came out here, the Rabbi showed me the room that’s been built to promote scholarship and dialogue, and to be able to find how we make our shared values live. And the reason you have that room is because applying those values to our lives is often hard, and it involves difficult choices. That’s why we study. That’s why it’s not just a formula. And that’s what we have to do as nations as well as individuals. We have to grapple and struggle with how do we apply the values that we care about to this very challenging and dangerous world.
And it is precisely because I care so deeply about the state of Israel — it’s precisely because, yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America — that I feel a responsibility to speak out honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland. (Applause.) And I believe that’s two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. (Applause.) Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people on their land, as well. (Applause.)
Now, I want to emphasize — that’s not easy. The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners. (Laughter.) The neighborhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility.
But it is worthwhile for us to keep up the prospect, the possibility of bridging divides and being just, and looking squarely at what’s possible but also necessary in order for Israel to be the type of nation that it was intended to be in its earliest founding. (Applause.)
And that same sense of shared values also compel me to speak out — compel all of us to speak out — against the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it exists. (Applause.) I want to be clear that, to me, all these things are connected. The rights I insist upon and now fight for, for all people here in the United States compels me then to stand up for Israel and look out for the rights of the Jewish people. And the rights of the Jewish people then compel me to think about a Palestinian child in Ramallah that feels trapped without opportunity. That’s what Jewish values teach me. That’s what the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches me. These things are connected. (Applause.)
And in recent years, we’ve seen a deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in parts of the world where it would have seemed unthinkable just a few years or decades ago. This is not some passing fad; these aren’t just isolated phenomenon. And we know from our history they cannot be ignored. Anti-Semitism is, and always will be, a threat to broader human values to which we all must aspire. And when we allow anti-Semitism to take root, then our souls are destroyed, and it will spread.
And that’s why, tonight, for the first time ever, congregations around the world are celebrating a Solidarity Shabbat. It’s a chance for leaders to publicly stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms. And I’m proud to be a part of this movement, and I’m proud that six ambassadors from Europe are joining us today. And their presence here — our presence together — is a reminder that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. (Applause.) Our traditions, our history, can help us chart a better course as long as we are mindful of that history and those traditions, and we are vigilant in speaking out and standing up against what is wrong. It’s not always easy, I think, to speak out against what is wrong, even for good people.
So I want to close with the story of one more of the many rabbis who came to Selma 50 years ago. A few days after David Teitelbaum arrived to join the protests, he and a colleague were thrown in jail. And they spent a Friday night in custody, singing Adon Olam to the tune of “We Shall Overcome.” And that in and of itself is a profound statement of faith and hope. But what’s wonderful is, is that out of respect many of their fellow protestors began wearing what they called “freedom caps” — (laughter) — yarmulkes — as they marched.
And the day after they were released from prison, Rabbi Teitelbaum watched Dr. King lead a prayer meeting before crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And Dr. King said, “We are like the children of Israel, marching from slavery to freedom.”
That’s what happens when we’re true to our values. It’s not just good for us, but it brings the community together. (Applause.) Tikkun Olam — it brings the community together and it helps repair the world. It bridges differences that once looked unbridgeable. It creates a future for our children that once seemed unattainable. This congregation — Jewish American life is a testimony to the capacity to make our values live. But it requires courage. It requires strength. It requires that we speak the truth not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.
So may we always remember that our shared heritage makes us stronger, that our roots are intertwined. May we always choose faith over nihilism, and courage over despair, and hope over cynicism and fear. As we walk our own leg of a timeless, sacred march, may we always stand together, here at home and around the world.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)
11:26 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 22, 2015
May 19, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 19, 2015
Source: USA Today, 5-19-15
FIRST QUESTION: Do you regret the way the Clinton Foundation handled foreign donations when you were U.S. Secretary of State? Your opponents say the donations and your private email account are examples of the Clintons having one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everyone else.
CLINTON: “I am so proud of the foundation. I’m proud of the work that it has done and is doing. It attracted donations, from people, organizations, from around the world, and I think that just goes to show that people are very supportive of the life-saving and life-changing work that it’s done here, at home and elsewhere. I’ll let the American people make their own judgments.”
SECOND QUESTION: Given the situation in Iraq, do you think we’re better off without Saddam Hussein in power?
CLINTON: “Look, I know that there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks. I’ve been very clear that I made a mistake plain and simple. And I have written about it in my book. I’ve talked about it in the past and you know what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation. The United States is doing what it can, but ultimately this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are determined to win for themselves. We can provide support, but they’re going to have to do it.”
THIRD QUESTION: On your income disclosure, you are in the top echelon of income earners in this country. How do you expect every day Americans to relate to you?
CLINTON: “Well, obviously, Bill and I have been blessed and we’re very grateful for the opportunities that we’ve had, but we’ve never forgotten where we came from, and we’ve never forgotten the country that we want to see for our granddaughter, and that means that we’re going to fight to make sure that everybody has the same chances to live up to his or her own God-given potential. So I think that most Americans understand that the deck is stacked for those at the top, and I am running a campaign that is very clearly stating we want to reshuffle that deck. We want to get back to having more opportunities for more people so that they can make more out of their own lives. And I think that’s exactly what America’s looking for.”
FOURTH QUESTION: Can you explain your relationship as secretary of state with Sidney Blumenthal? There’s a report out this morning that you exchanged several emails. Should Americans expect that if elected president that you would have that same type of relationship with these old friends that you’ve had for so long?
CLINTON: “I have many, many old friends, and I always think that it’s important when you get into politics to have friends that you had before you were in politics and to understand what’s on their minds. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. He sent me unsolicited emails, which I passed on in some instances, and I see that that’s just part of the give-and-take. When you’re in the public eye, when you’re in an official position, I think you do have to work to make sure you’re not caught in the bubble and you only hear from a certain small group of people, and I’m going to keep talking to my old friends, who ever they are.”
FIFTH QUESTION: We learned today that the State Department might not release your emails until January 2016. A federal judge says they should be released sooner. Will you demand that they are released sooner, and to follow up on the question about the speeches, was there a conflict of interest in your giving paid speeches into the run-up of your announcing that you’re running for president?
CLINTON: “The answer to the first is: No. And the answer to the second is: I have said repeatedly, I want those emails out. Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do. I respect the State Department. They have their process, as they do for everybody, not just for me, but anything that they might do to expedite that process, I heartily support. You know, I want the American people to learn as much as we can about the work that I did with our diplomats and our development experts. Because I think that it will show how hard we worked, and the work we did for our country during the time that I was secretary of state, where I worked extremely hard on behalf of our values, and our interests and our security. And the emails are part of that. So I have said publicly — I’m repeating it here in front of all of you today — I want them out as soon as they can get out.”
SIXTH QUESTION: But will you demand their release?
CLINTON: “Well, they’re not mine. They belong to the State Department. So the State Department has to go through its process and as much as they can expedite that process, that’s what I’m asking them to do. Please move as quickly as they possibly can.”
“Thank you all very much”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 19, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 19, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 18, 2015
Source: WH, 5-18-15
Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center
Camden, New Jersey
2:42 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody! (Applause.) Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Well, thank you so much. It is good to be in Camden. (Applause.)
I want to thank your Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno; your Congressman, Donald Norcross; and your Mayor, Dana Redd, for being here. Give them all a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to thank the outstanding facility, our hosts. The Salvation Army is doing great work, and the Ray Kroc Center here seems like just a wonderful, wonderful facility. (Applause.) So we’re very proud of them.
I want to thank Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson for his outstanding work. (Applause.) Where’s the Chief? There he is.
So I’ve come here to Camden to do something that might have been unthinkable just a few years ago — and that’s to hold you up as a symbol of promise for the nation. (Applause.) Now, I don’t want to overstate it. Obviously Camden has gone through tough times and there are still tough times for a lot of folks here in Camden. But just a few years ago, this city was written off as dangerous beyond redemption — a city trapped in a downward spiral. Parents were afraid to let their children play outside. Drug dealers operated in broad daylight. There weren’t enough cops to patrol the streets.
So two years ago, the police department was overhauled to implement a new model of community policing. They doubled the size of the force — while keeping it unionized. They cut desk jobs in favor of getting more officers out into the streets. Not just to walk the beat, but to actually get to know the residents — to set up basketball games, to volunteer in schools, to participate in reading programs, to get to know the small businesses in the area.
Now, to be a police officer takes a special kind of courage. And I talked about this on Friday at a memorial for 131 officers who gave their lives to protect communities like this one. It takes a special kind of courage to run towards danger, to be a person that residents turn to when they’re most desperate. And when you match courage with compassion, with care and understanding of the community — like we’ve seen here in Camden — some really outstanding things can begin to happen.
Violent crime in Camden is down 24 percent. (Applause.) Murder is down 47 percent. (Applause.) Open-air drug markets have been cut by 65 percent. (Applause.) The response time for 911 calls is down from one hour to just five minutes. And when I was in the center, it was 1.3 minutes, right when I was there. (Applause.) And perhaps most significant is that the police and residents are building trust. (Applause.) Building trust.
Now, nobody is suggesting that the job is done. This is still a work in progress. The Police Chief would be the first one to say it. So would the Mayor. Camden and its people still face some very big challenges. But this city is on to something. You’ve made real progress in just two years. And that’s why I’m here today — because I want to focus on the fact that other cities across America can make similar progress.
Everything we’ve done over the past six years, whether it’s rescuing the economy, or reforming our schools, or retooling our job training programs, has been in pursuit of one goal, and that’s creating opportunity for all of us, all our kids. But we know that some communities have the odds stacked against them, and have had the odds stacked against them for a very long time — in some cases, for decades. You’ve got rural communities that have chronic poverty. You have manufacturing communities that got hit hard when plants closed and people lost jobs. There are not only cities but also suburbs where jobs can be tough to find, and tougher to get to because of development patterns and lack of transportation options. And folks who do work, they’re working harder than ever, but sometimes don’t feel like they can get ahead.
And in some communities, that sense of unfairness and powerlessness has contributed to dysfunction in those communities. Communities are like bodies, and if the immunity system is down, they can get sick. And when communities aren’t vibrant, where people don’t feel a sense of hope and opportunity, then a lot of times that can fuel crime and that can fuel unrest.
We’ve seen it in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York. And it has many causes — from a basic lack of opportunity to some groups feeling unfairly targeted by their police forces. And that means there’s no single solution. There have to be a lot of different solutions and different approaches that we try.
So one of the things that we did to address these issues was to create a task force on the future of community policing. And this task force was outstanding because it was made up of all the different stakeholders — we had law enforcement; we had community activists; we had young people. They held public meetings across the country. They developed concrete proposals that every community in America can implement to rebuild trust and help law enforcement.
The recommendations were released in March; they were finalized today. They include everything from enhanced officer training to improving the use of body cameras and other technologies to make sure that police departments are being smart about crime and that there’s enough data for them to be accountable as well.
And we’re trying to support the great work that’s happening at the local level where cities are already responding to these recommendations. And before I go further, I just want the members of our task force to stand, because they’ve done some outstanding work and they deserve to be acknowledged. Thank you. (Applause.)
Now, we’ve launched a Police Data Initiative that’s helping Camden and other innovative cities use data to strengthen their work and hold themselves accountable by sharing it with the public. Departments might track things like incidents of force so that they can identify and handle problems that could otherwise escalate.
Here in Camden, officers deal with some 41 different data systems, which means they have to enter the same information multiple times. So today, we’ve brought a volunteer, Elite Tech Team, to help — a group of data scientists and software engineers, and tech leaders. They’re going to work with the police department here to troubleshoot some of the technical challenges so it’s even easier for police departments to do the things they already want to do in helping to track what’s going on in communities, and then also helping to make sure that that data is used effectively to identify where there are trouble spots, where there are problems, are there particular officers that may need additional help, additional training. All that can be obtained in a really effective, efficient way.
Today, we’re also releasing new policies on the military-style equipment that the federal government has in the past provided to state and local law enforcement agencies. We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents, and send the wrong message. So we’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments. (Applause.)
There is other equipment that may be needed in certain cases, but only with proper training. So we’re going to ensure that departments have what they need, but also that they have the training to use it.
We’re doing these things because we’re listening to what law enforcement is telling us. The overwhelming majority of police officers are good and honest and fair. They care deeply about their communities. They put their lives on the line every day to keep them safe. Their loved ones wait and worry until they come through the door at the end of their shift. So we should do everything in our power to make sure that they are safe, and help them do the job the best they can.
And what’s interesting about what Chief Thomson has done, and what’s happening here in Camden, is these new officers — who I have to confess made me feel old — (laughter) — because they all look like they could still be in school. (Laughter.) The approach that the Chief has taken in getting them out of their squad cars, into the communities, getting them familiar with the people that they’re serving — they’re enjoying their jobs more because they feel as if, over time, they can have more of an impact, and they’re getting more help from the community because the community has seen them and knows them before there’s a crisis, before there’s an incident.
So it’s not just crisis response. It’s not after the fact there’s a crime, there’s a dead body, there’s a shooting, and now we’re going to show up. It’s, we’re here all the time, and hopefully, we can prevent those shootings from happening in the first place. (Applause.)
But one of the things I also want to focus on is the fact that a lot of the issues that have been raised here, and in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York, goes beyond policing. We can’t ask the police to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren’t willing to face or do anything about. (Applause.)
If we as a society don’t do more to expand opportunity to everybody who’s willing to work for it, then we’ll end up seeing conflicts between law enforcement and residents. If we as a society aren’t willing to deal honestly with issue of race, then we can’t just expect police departments to solve these problems. If communities are being isolated and segregated, without opportunity and without investment and without jobs — if we politicians are simply ramping up long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that end up devastating communities, we can’t then ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community, or kids are growing up without intact households. (Applause.)
We can’t just focus on the problems when there’s a disturbance — and then cable TV runs it for two or three or four days, and then suddenly we forget about it again, until the next time. Communities like some poor communities in Camden or my hometown in Chicago, they’re part of America, too. The kids who grow up here, they’re America’s children. Just like children everyplace else, they’ve got hopes and they’ve got dreams and they’ve got potential. And if we’re not investing in them, no matter how good Chief Thomson and the police are doing, these kids are still going to be challenged. So we’ve all got to step up. We’ve all got to care about what happens.
Chief Thomson will tell you that his officers read to young children in the communities not just to build positive relationships, but because it’s in the interest of the community to make sure these kids can read — so that they stay in school and graduate ready for college and careers, and become productive members of society. That’s in his interest not just as a police chief, but also as a citizen of this country, and somebody who grew up in this areas and knows this area.
And that’s why we’ve partnered with cities and states to get tens of thousands more kids access to quality early childhood education. No matter who they are or where they’re born, they should get a good start in life. (Applause.)
That’s why we’ve partnered with cities, including Camden, to create what we call Promise Zones — (applause) — where all-hands-on-deck efforts to change the odds for communities start happening because we’re providing job training, and helping to reduce violence, and expanding affordable housing.
It’s why we’re ready to work with folks from both sides of the aisle to reform our criminal justice system. We all want safety, and we all know how pernicious the drug culture can be in undermining communities. But this massive trend toward incarceration even of nonviolent drug offenders, and the costs of that trend are crowding out other critical investments that we can make in public safety. If we’re spending a whole lot of money on prisons, and we don’t have computers or books or enough teachers or sports or music programs in our schools, we are being counterproductive. It’s not a good strategy. (Applause.)
And so, in addition to the work we’re doing directly on the criminal justice front, we’re also launching something that we call My Brother’s Keeper — an initiative to ensure that all young people, but with a particular focus on young men of color, have a chance to go as far as their dreams will take them. (Applause.) Now, over the coming weeks, members of my Cabinet will be traveling around the country to highlight communities that are doing great work to improve the lives of their residents.
We know these problems are solvable. We’re know that we’re not lacking for answers, we’re just lacking political will. We have to see these problems for what they are — not something that’s happening in some other city to some other people, but something that’s happening in our community, the community of America. (Applause.)
And we know that change is possible because we’ve seen it in places like this. We’ve seen it, thanks to people like Officer Virginia Matias. Where is Virginia? There she is right there. (Applause.) Earlier this year, Vice President Biden and I got to sit with Officer Matias and rank-and-file law enforcement officers from around the country. And Virginia was talking about how when she was growing up in East Camden, crime was so bad she wasn’t allowed to go to the store alone. Her mom was once robbed at gunpoint. When she was 17, her uncle was shot and killed in his own store. Instead of turning away from Camden, she decided she wanted to become a cop where she grew up to help the community she loved. (Applause.) And today, she is a proud member of the Camden County Police Department. (Applause.)
And she’s a constant presence in the community, getting to know everybody she passes on her beat, even volunteering in a kindergarten. Officer Matias isn’t just helping to keep her community safe, she’s also a role model for young people of Camden. And anybody who thinks that things aren’t getting better, she says, “I see kids playing outside, riding bikes in the neighborhood, on their porches having a conversation. That’s how I measure change.”
That’s how we should all measure change. I had a chance to meet with some of the young people here who participated in a little roundtable with the officers, and they’re extraordinary young people. And they’ve got hopes and dreams just like Malia and Sasha, and they’re overcoming some bigger barriers than my children ever had to go through, or I had to go through. And they’re strong, and they’re focused.
But in talking to them, some of them — the reason they’ve been able to make it and do well is because their parents don’t let them out outside. Well, you know what, children shouldn’t have to be locked indoors in order to be safe. That’s not right. Some of them still have concerns about friends of theirs that have taken a wrong path and gotten involved in the streets and drugs. That’s not the environment we need our kids to be growing up in.
I challenge everybody to get to know some of these young people. They’re outstanding, and they’re going to do great things in their lives. (Applause.) But the point is, is that they shouldn’t have to go through superhuman efforts just to be able to stay in school and go to college and achieve their promise. That should be the norm. That should be standard. And if it isn’t, we’re not doing something right. We as a society are not doing something right if it isn’t. (Applause.)
So, ultimately, that’s how we’re going to measure change: Rising prospects for our kids. Rising prospects for the neighborhood. Do our children feel safe on the streets? Do they feel cared for by their community? Do they feel like the police departments care about them? Do they feel as if when they work hard they can succeed? Do they feel like the country is making an investment in them? Do they see role models for success? Are there pathways to jobs that they can identify? Do they know that if they put in effort, they can make it? Are they going to be treated fairly regardless of the color of their skin or what their last name is?
It’s pretty basic. I travel around the country — the one thing that makes me always so optimistic is our children. And what you realize is everywhere, kids are — kids are kids. Sometimes they’ll drive you crazy. (Laughter.) They’ll make mistakes. But there’s an inherent goodness in them. They want to do the right thing. They just need to be given a chance.
And some of them aren’t going to be lucky enough to have the structures at home that they need — in which case then, we all have to pick up the slack. And if we do, they’ll respond. They will. But we got to feel like that they’re our kids. We got to see our children in them, in their eyes. And we haven’t done enough of that. But we can.
This is a moment of great promise; this is a moment of great hope. And if we’re seeing such extraordinary improvement in Camden because of the good efforts of a lot of elected officials, and an outstanding police chief and some wonderful police officers, and a community that’s supportive, and nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army and others that are doing some great work — if it’s working here, it can work anywhere. (Applause.) It can work anywhere.
On the City Hall of Camden you got an inscription by Walt Whitman: “In a dream, I saw a city invincible.” In a dream I see a country invincible — if we care enough to make the effort on behalf of every child in this country. (Applause.)
Camden is showing that it can be done. I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
3:05 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 18, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 17, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 16, 2015
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY, MOODY COLISEUM, DALLAS, TEXAS (May 16, 2015) —
Thank you. Thank you very much. President Turner, thanks. Members of the Board of Trustees, Provost Ludden, faculty, staff, distinguished guests, parents, and—most importantly—the Class of 2015. (Applause.) Thank you for your warm welcome, and I appreciate the invitation to be with you.
You know, when I mentioned this speech to some pals, they were surprised I was going to give it. (Laughter.) I haven’t given a commencement address since leaving office. You know, my decision is quite practical. So I got a call from my landlord – (laughter) – Gerald Turner. (Laughter.) Rather than raising the rent or threatening to withhold our security deposit – (laughter) – I was relieved to hear President Turner ask if I believed in free speech. (Applause.) I said yeah. He said, “Perfect. Here’s your chance to give one.” (Laughter and applause.)
As a proud member of the SMU community, I am honored to be here – truly honored – to deliver the 100th Spring Commencement address. I admire President Turner’s persuasiveness – (laughter) – and leadership. He runs a fantastic university. (Applause.) It is dynamic, diverse, and destined for continued excellence. He has assembled a strong administrative team. He is supported by engaged alumni, and he has an outstanding Board of Trustees.
I’m fortunate to know many of the trustees. (Laughter.) Well, for example I’m good friends with the Chairman, Mike Boone. And there’s one trustee I know really well – (laughter) -a proud graduate of the SMU Class of 1968 who went on to become our nation’s greatest First Lady. (Applause.) Do me a favor and don’t tell Mother. (Laughter.) I know how much the trustees love and care for this great university. I see it firsthand when I attend the Bring-Your-Spouse-Night Dinners. (Laughter.)
I also get to drop by classes on occasion. I am really impressed by the intelligence and energy of the SMU faculty. I want to thank you for your dedication and thank you for sharing your knowledge with your students.
To reach this day, the graduates have had the support of loving families. Some of them love you so much they are watching from overflow sites across campus. (Laughter.) I congratulate the parents who have sacrificed to make this moment possible. It is a glorious day when your child graduates from college — and a really great day for your bank account. (Laughter and applause.) I know the members of the Class of 2015 will join me in thanking you for your love and your support. (Applause.)
Most of all, I congratulate the members of the Class of 2015. You worked hard to reach this milestone. You leave with lifelong friends and fond memories. You will always remember how much you enjoyed the right to buy a required campus meal plan. (Laughter.) You’ll remember your frequent battles with the Park ‘N’ Pony Office. (Laughter.) And you may or may not remember those productive nights at the Barley House. (Laughter and applause.)
You were founding members of the mighty SMU Mob, bouncing like mad and watching in wonder as your then-Student Body President, Señor Lobster – (laughter) – danced with joy after all those Pony victories right here in Moody. (Applause.) And you’ll think back to those carefree fall game days on the Boulevard – though I don’t recall seeing too many of you in the football stadium. (Laughter.)
To those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, “well done.” And as I like to tell the “C” students: You, too, can be President. (Laughter and applause.)
After four years of sitting through lectures, I have a feeling you’re not in the mood for another one. (Laughter.) What I have learned about graduation speeches is that they’re too long and rarely remembered. So I’ll keep this short. I just can’t attest to how memorable it will be.
I’ve also learned that it’s important to refer to someone associated with the University. So I picked one, an SMU trustee (who by the way is not here), Reverend Mark Craig. Now, I asked Mark to deliver the sermon at the First United Methodist Church in Austin before my second inauguration as Governor of Texas. I still remember his Fort Worth twang as he talked about Moses. God called Moses to action, and Moses repeatedly found excuses not to act. “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt? Oh, my Lord, I pray, send some other person. I have sheep to tend. And the people won’t believe me — I’m not a very good speaker.”
Moses wasn’t the only one who could mangle his language. (Laughter.) [Inaudible.]
Fortunately, Moses recognized the call to serve something greater than himself. He answered the call, led his people, and history was made.
You, too, will be called at some point. The question, as Mark aptly and artfully laid out, is: Will you be optimistic and hopeful, or pessimistic and cynical? Here are three reasons why you should be optimistic and hopeful.
One, you are graduating from a great university. Your SMU degree will open the door to a wide variety of career options. Millions will never have had this opportunity. SMU has laid a foundation so you can reason, and continue to learn throughout your life. It has given you the tools to be productive citizens.
One of the great strengths of America is our active public square. Issues are influenced by the will of the people. That is why an educated citizenry is so important to the success of our country. As SMU graduates, you are well-equipped to participate in these vital debates. My hope is that you speak out on the issues that matter to you. Participate in your Nation’s civic life as citizens, not spectators. You’ll come to learn that who you are is more important than what you have—and that you have responsibilities to your fellow citizens, your country, and your family. By taking part in American democracy, you will make our country stronger.
Secondly, you are blessed to live in the greatest Nation – ever. (Applause.) Here you can strive and succeed as far as you dare to dream. It says something about our country that millions around the world are willing to leave their homes and families and risk everything to come here and realize the American dream. Their pursuit of that dream invigorates our national soul. It renews our country’s character. And it adds vitality to our culture.
You live in a land that is compassionate and decent. Because we believe in the rights and dignity of our own citizenry, we are committed to defending the rights and dignity of people everywhere. America has liberated millions around the world from tyranny and terror. We’ve helped turn the tide against deadly disease in places like Africa. In our hearts we believe all are created equal under God. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is Almighty God’s gift to humanity.
At home, there are thousands of platoons in the Army of compassion working to honor those beliefs. No matter what your career path, enlist. When you help another, you enrich your heart, and you strengthen the fabric of our collective goodness.
Many of you have already made service a priority in your lives by volunteering during winter, spring, and summer breaks; and completing more than one-hundred community projects through Engaged Learning. I thank you for recognizing the timeless truth: of those to whom much is given, much is required.
As you serve others, you can inspire others. I’ve been inspired by the examples of many selfless servants. Winston Churchill, a leader of courage and resolve, inspired me during my Presidency—and, for that matter, in the post-presidency. Like Churchill, I now paint. (Laughter.) Unlike Churchill, the painting isn’t worth much without the signature. (Laughter.)
In 1941, he gave a speech to the students of his old school during Britain’s most trying times in World War II. It wasn’t too long, and it is well-remembered. Prime Minister Churchill urged, “Never give in … in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
I hope you’ll remember this advice. But there’s a lesser-known passage from that speech that I also want to share with you:
“These are not dark days. These are great days. The greatest our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
When Churchill uttered these words, many had lost hope in Great Britain’s chance for survival against the Nazis. Many doubted the future of freedom. Today, some doubt America’s future, and they say our best days are behind us. I say, given our strengths—one of which is a bright new generation like you—these are not dark days. These are great days.
And finally, you can be hopeful because there is a loving God. Whether you agree with that statement or not is your choice. It is not your government’s choice. It is essential – (applause). It is essential to this nation’s future that we remember that the freedom to worship who we want, and how we want—or not worship at all—is a core belief of our founding.
I have made my choice. I believe that the Almighty’s grace and unconditional love will sustain you. I believe it will bring you joy amidst the trials of life. It will enable you to better see the beauty around you. It will provide a solid foundation amidst a rapidly changing, somewhat impersonal, technologically-driven world. It will show you how to love your neighbor, forgive more easily, and approach success with humility—and failure without fear.
It will inspire you to honor your parents and eventually be a better spouse and parent yourself. It will help you fully grasp the value of life—all life. It will remind you that money, power, and fame are false idols. And I hope and believe that God’s love will inspire you to serve others.
I want to thank you for letting me share this special day with you. I wish you all the very best. Stay in touch with your friends. Love your family. Treat this day as a step toward a lifetime of learning. And go forth with confidence. May God bless you. (Applause.)
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 16, 2015
The White House released the financial disclosures for President Barack Obama and Vice president Joe Biden on Friday, May 15, 2015, indicating that the president has a net worth of between $2 and $7 million, whereas the Vice President is worth between $275,000 to $1.1 million. The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires disclosures each year, but only indicates broad ranges not exact amounts.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 16, 2015
Former 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney lasted to round two in his celebrity boxing match with Evander Holyfield on Friday evening, May 15, 2015, which raised more than $1 million for CharityVision, that cures blindness in developing countries. The match has kept Romney in the public eye even after he decided not to run again for the Republican presidential nomination.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 16, 2015
Source: Vox, 4-29-15
Thank you so much. I am absolutely delighted to be back here at Columbia. I want to thank President Bollinger, Dean Janow, and everyone at the School of International and Public Affairs. It is a special treat to be here with and on behalf of a great leader of this city and our country, David Dinkins. He has made such an indelible impact on New York, and I had the great privilege of working with him as First Lady and then, of course, as a new senator.
When I was just starting out as a senator, David’s door was always open. He and his wonderful wife Joyce were great friends and supporters and good sounding boards about ideas that we wanted to consider to enhance the quality of life and the opportunities for the people of this city. I was pleased to address the Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in my first year as a senator, and I so appreciated then as I have in the years since David’s generosity with his time and most of all his wisdom. So 14 years later, I’m honored to have this chance, once again, to help celebrate the legacy of one of New York’s greatest public servants.
I’m pleased too that you will have the opportunity after my remarks to hear from such a distinguished panel, to go into more detail about some of the issues that we face. I also know that Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer is here, along with other local and community leaders.
Because surely this is a time when our collective efforts to devise approaches to the problems that still afflict us is more important than ever. Indeed, it is a time for wisdom.
For yet again, the family of a young black man is grieving a life cut short.
Yet again, the streets of an American city are marred by violence. By shattered glass and shouts of anger and shows of force.
Yet again a community is reeling, its fault lines laid bare and its bonds of trust and respect frayed.
Yet again, brave police officers have been attacked in the line of duty.
What we’ve seen in Baltimore should, indeed does, tear at our soul.
And, from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.
Walter Scott shot in the back in Charleston, South Carolina. Unarmed. In debt. And terrified of spending more time in jail for child support payments he couldn’t afford.
Tamir Rice shot in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. Unarmed and just 12 years old.
Eric Garner choked to death after being stopped for selling cigarettes on the streets of this city.
And now Freddie Gray. His spine nearly severed while in police custody.
Not only as a mother and a grandmother but as a citizen, a human being, my heart breaks for these young men and their families.
We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.
There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts.
There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes. And an estimated 1.5 million black men are “missing” from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death.
There is something wrong when more than one out of every three young black men in Baltimore can’t find a job.
There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down as far as it has in many of our communities.
We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance. And these recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again.
We should begin by heeding the pleas of Freddie Gray’s family for peace and unity, echoing the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and others in the past years.
Those who are instigating further violence in Baltimore are disrespecting the Gray family and the entire community. They are compounding the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death and setting back the cause of justice. So the violence has to stop.
But more broadly, let’s remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law. That is what we have to work towards in Baltimore and across our country.
We must urgently begin to rebuild the bonds of trust and respect among Americans. Between police and citizens, yes, but also across society.
Restoring trust in our politics, our press, our markets. Between and among neighbors and even people with whom we disagree politically.
This is so fundamental to who we are as a nation and everything we want to achieve together.
It truly is about how we treat each other and what we value. Making it possible for every American to reach his or her God-given potential—regardless of who you are, where you were born, or who you love.
The inequities that persist in our justice system undermine this shared vision of what America can be and should be.
I learned this firsthand as a young attorney just out of law school—at one of those law schools that will remain nameless here at Columbia. One of my earliest jobs for the Children’s Defense Fund, which David had mentioned—I was so fortunate to work with Marian Wright Edelman as a young lawyer and then serving on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund—was studying the problem then of youth, teenagers, sometimes preteens, incarcerated in adult jails. Then, as director of the University of Arkansas School of Law’s legal aid clinic, I advocated on behalf of prison inmates and poor families.
I saw repeatedly how our legal system can be and all too often is stacked against those who have the least power, who are the most vulnerable.
I saw how families could be and were torn apart by excessive incarceration. I saw the toll on children growing up in homes shattered by poverty and prison.
So, unfortunately, I know these are not new challenges by any means.
In fact they have become even more complex and urgent over time. And today they demand fresh thinking and bold action from all of us.
Today there seems to be a growing bipartisan movement for commonsense reforms in our criminal justice systems. Senators as disparate on the political spectrum as Cory Booker and Rand Paul and Dick Durbin and Mike Lee are reaching across the aisle to find ways to work together. It is rare to see Democrats and Republicans agree on anything today. But we’re beginning to agreeing on this: We need to restore balance to our criminal justice system.
Now of course it is not enough just to agree and give speeches about it—we actually have to work together to get the job done.
We need to deliver real reforms that can be felt on our streets, in our courthouses, and our jails and prisons, in communities too long neglected.
Let me touch on two areas in particular where I believe we need to push for more progress.
First, we need smart strategies to fight crime that help restore trust between law enforcement and our communities, especially communities of color.
There’s a lot of good work to build on. Across the country, there are so many police officers out there every day inspiring trust and confidence, honorably doing their duty, putting themselves on the line to save lives. There are police departments already deploying creative and effective strategies, demonstrating how we can protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from those examples, build on what works.
We can start by making sure that federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets.
President Obama’s task force on policing gives us a good place to start. Its recommendations offer a roadmap for reform, from training to technology, guided by more and better data.
We should make sure every police department in the country has body cameras to record interactions between officers on patrol and suspects.
That will improve transparency and accountability, it will help protect good people on both sides of the lens. For every tragedy caught on tape, there surely have been many more that remained invisible. Not every problem can be or will be prevented with cameras, but this is a commonsense step we should take.
The President has provided the idea of matching funds to state and local governments investing in body cameras. We should go even further and make this the norm everywhere.
And we should listen to law enforcement leaders who are calling for a renewed focus on working with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions.
As your Senator from New York, I supported a greater emphasis on community policing, along with putting more officers on the street to get to know those communities.
David Dinkins was an early pioneer of this policy. His leadership helped lay the foundation for dramatic drops in crime in the years that followed.
And today smart policing in communities that builds relationships, partnerships, and trust makes more sense than ever.
And it shouldn’t be limited just to officers on the beat. It’s an ethic that should extend throughout our criminal justice system. To prosecutors and parole officers. To judges and lawmakers.
We all share a responsibility to help re-stitch the fabric of our neighborhoods and communities.
We also have to be honest about the gaps that exist across our country, the inequality that stalks our streets. Because you cannot talk about smart policing and reforming the criminal justice system if you also don’t talk about what’s needed to provide economic opportunity, better educational chances for young people, more support to families so they can do the best jobs they are capable of doing to help support their own children.
Today I saw an article on the front page of USA Today that really struck me, written by a journalist who lives in Baltimore. And here’s what I read three times to make sure I was reading correctly: “At a conference in 2013 at Johns Hopkins University, Vice Provost Jonathan Bagger pointed out that only six miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and Hollins Market.
But there is a 20-year difference in the average life expectancy.” We have learned in the last few years that life expectancy, which is a measure of the quality of life in communities and countries, manifests the same inequality that we see in so many other parts of our society.
Women—white women without high school education—are losing life expectancy. Black men and black women are seeing their life expectancy goes down in so many parts of our country.
This may not grab headlines, although I was glad to see it on the front page of USA Today. But it tells us more than I think we can bear about what we are up against.
We need to start understanding how important it is to care for every single child as though that child were our own.
David and I started our conversation this morning talking about our grandchildren; now his are considerably older than mine. But it was not just two longtime friends catching up with each other. It was so clearly sharing what is most important to us, as it is to families everywhere in our country.
So I don’t want the discussion about criminal justice, smart policing, to be siloed and to permit discussions and arguments and debates about it to only talk about that. The conversation needs to be much broader. Because that is a symptom, not a cause, of what ails us today.
The second area where we need to chart a new course is how we approach punishment and prison.
It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago, despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.
Of the more than 2 million Americans incarcerated today, a significant percentage are low-level offenders: people held for violating parole or minor drug crimes, or who are simply awaiting trial in backlogged courts.
Keeping them behind bars does little to reduce crime. But it is does a lot to tear apart families and communities.
One in every 28 children now has a parent in prison. Think about what that means for those children.
When we talk about one and a half million missing African American men, we’re talking about missing husbands, missing fathers, missing brothers.
They’re not there to look after their children or bring home a paycheck. And the consequences are profound.
Without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be living in poverty.
And it’s not just families trying to stay afloat with one parent behind bars. Of the 600,000 prisoners who reenter society each year, roughly 60 percent face long-term unemployment.
And for all this, taxpayers are paying about $80 billion a year to keep so many people in prison.
The price of incarcerating a single inmate is often more than $30,000 per year—and up to $60,000 in some states. That’s the salary of a teacher or police officer.
One year in a New Jersey state prison costs $44,000—more than the annual tuition at Princeton.
If the United States brought our correctional expenditures back in line with where they were several decades ago, we’d save an estimated $28 billion a year. And I believe we would not be less safe. You can pay a lot of police officers and nurses and others with $28 billion to help us deal with the pipeline issues.
It’s time to change our approach. It’s time to end the era of mass incarceration. We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe.
I don’t know all the answers. That’s why I’m here—to ask all the smart people in Columbia and New York to start thinking this through with me. I know we should work together to pursue together to pursue alternative punishments for low-level offenders. They do have to be in some way registered in the criminal justice system, but we don’t want that to be a fast track to long-term criminal activity, we don’t want to create another “incarceration generation.”
I’ve been encouraged to see changes that I supported as Senator to reduce the unjust federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine crimes finally become law.
And last year, the Sentencing Commission reduced recommended prison terms for some drug crimes.
President Obama and former Attorney General Holder have led the way with important additional steps. And I am looking forward to our new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, carrying this work forward.
There are other measures that I and so many others have championed to reform arbitrary mandatory minimum sentences are long overdue.
We also need probation and drug diversion programs to deal swiftly with violations, while allowing low-level offenders who stay clean and stay out of trouble to stay out of prison. I’ve seen the positive effects of specialized drug courts and juvenile programs work to the betterment of individuals and communities. And please, please, let us put mental health back at the top of our national agenda.
You and I know that the promise of de-institutionalizing those in mental health facilities was supposed to be followed by the creation of community-based treatment centers. Well, we got half of that equation—but not the other half. Our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions.
I have to tell you I was somewhat surprised in both Iowa and New Hampshire to be asked so many questions about mental health. “What are we going to do with people who need help for substance abuse or mental illness?” “What are we going to do when the remaining facilities are being shut down for budget reasons?” “What are we going to do when hospitals don’t really get reimbursed for providing the kind of emergency care that is needed for mental health patients?”
It’s not just a problem in our cities. There’s a quiet epidemic of substance abuse sweeping small-town and rural America as well. We have to do more and finally get serious about treatment.
I’ll be talking about all of this in the months to come, offering new solutions to protect and strengthen our families and communities.
I know in a time when we’re afflicted by short-termism, we’re not looking over the horizon for the investments that we need to make in our fellow citizens, in our children. So I’m well aware that progress will not be easy, despite the emerging bipartisan consensus for certain reforms. And that we will have to overcome deep divisions and try to begin to replenish our depleted reservoirs of trust.
But I am convinced, as the congenital optimist I must be to live my life, that we can rise to this challenge. We can heal our wounds. We can restore balance to our justice system and respect in our communities. And we can make sure that we take actions that are going to make a difference in the lives of those who for too long have been marginalized and forgotten.
Let’s protect the rights of all our people. Let’s take on the broader inequities in our society. You can’t separate out the unrest we see in the streets from the cycles of poverty and despair that hollow out those neighborhoods.
Despite all the progress we’ve made in this country lifting people up—and it has been extraordinary—too many of our fellow citizens are still left out.
Twenty-five years ago, in his inaugural address as Mayor, David Dinkins warned of leaving “too many lost amidst the wealth and grandeur that surrounds us.”
Today, his words and the emotion behind them ring truer than ever. You don’t have to look too far from this magnificent hall to find children still living in poverty or trapped in failing schools. Families who work hard but can’t afford the rising prices in their neighborhood.
Mothers and fathers who fear for their sons’ safety when they go off to school—or just to go buy a pack of Skittles.
These challenges are all woven together. And they all must be tackled together.
Our goal must truly be inclusive and lasting prosperity that’s measured by how many families get ahead and stay ahead…
How many children climb out of poverty and stay out of prison…
How many young people can go to college without breaking the bank…
How many new immigrants can start small businesses …
How many parents can get good jobs that allow them to balance the demands of work and family.
That’s how we should measure prosperity. With all due respect, that is a far better measurement than the size of the bonuses handed out in downtown office buildings.
Now even in the most painful times like those we are seeing in Baltimore …
When parents fear for their children…
When smoke fills the skies above our cities…
When police officers are assaulted…
Even then—especially then—let’s remember the aspirations and values that unite us all: That every person should have the opportunity to succeed. That no one is disposable. That every life matters.
So yes, Mayor Dinkins. This is a time for wisdom.
A time for honesty about race and justice in America.
And, yes, a time for reform.
David Dinkins is a leader we can look to. We know what he stood for. Let us take the challenge and example he presents and think about what we must do to make sure that this country we love—this city we live in—are both good and great.
And please join me in saying a prayer for the family of Freddie Gray, and all the men whose names we know and those we don’t who have lost their lives unnecessarily and tragically. And in particular today, include in that prayer the people of Baltimore and our beloved country.
Thank you all very much.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 29, 2015
Source: SupremeCourt.gov, 4-28-15
|14-556-Question-1||Obergefell v. Hodges||Transcript||Audio|
|14-556-Question-2||Obergefell v. Hodges||Transcript||Audio|
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 28, 2015
Source: WH, 4-28-15
With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points. First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray. Understandably, they want answers. And DOJ has opened an investigation. It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.
Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances. It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.
Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.
So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction. That is not a protest. That is not a statement. It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.
Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders. And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention. And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.
The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist. And I think we have to give them credit. My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place. What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement. That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem. And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.
Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important. Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions. And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks. And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis. What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.
The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond.
What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference. It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces. I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain. But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves.
And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities. The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras. We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference. And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.
I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police. We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation. There are some bad politicians who are corrupt. There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing. Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing. And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem. And we’re committed to facilitating that process.
So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore. Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore. But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.
And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us.
We can’t just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.
And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college. In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem. And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.
If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs. That’s hard. That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force. And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.
Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.
But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped. We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important. And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.
That’s how I feel. I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way. But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time. And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference. But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 28, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 28, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 26, 2015
Source: WaPo, 4-25-15
Good evening, everybody.
Welcome to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. A night when Washington celebrates itself. Somebody’s got to do it. And welcome to the fourth quarter of my presidency. It’s true — that’s Michelle cheering.
The fact is a feel more loose and relaxed than ever. Those Joe Biden shoulder massages they’re like magic. You should try one. Oh, you have.
I am determined to make the most of every moment I have left. After the midterm elections, my advisors asked me “Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?” And I said, ‘Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”
Take executive action on immigration. Bucket.
New climate regulations. Bucket. It’s the right thing to do.
My new attitude is paying off. Look at my Cuba policy. The Castro brothers are here tonight. Welcome to America, amigos. Que pasa? What? It’s the Castros from Texas. Oh. Hi, Joaquin. Hi, Julian.
Anyway, being president is never easy. I still have to fix a broken immigration system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran. All while finding time to pray five times a day. Which is strenuous.
And it is no wonder that that people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me. I look so old John Boehner’s already invited Min Yo to speak at my funeral.
Meanwhile, Michelle hasn’t aged a day. I ask her what her secret is and she just says “fresh fruits and vegetables.” It’s aggravating.
Fact is though, at this point my legacy is finally beginning to take shape. The economy is getting better. Nine in ten Americans now have health coverage. Today thanks to Obamacare you no longer have to worry about losing your insurance if you lose your job. You’re welcome, senate democrats.
Look, it is true I have not managed to make everybody happy. Six years into my presidency some people still say I’m arrogant, aloof, condescending. Some people are so dumb. No wonder I don’t meet with them. And that’s not all people say about me. A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime. Which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime. Quite a coincidence. I mean everybody’s got something to say these days.
Mike Huckabee recently said people shouldn’t join our military until a true conservative is elected president. Think about that. It was so outrageous 47 Ayatollah wrote us a letter trying to explain to Huckabee how our system works.
It gets worse. Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now, that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean, Lincoln, Washington, they didn’t do that.
You know, I just have to put this stuff aside. I have to stay focused on my job. Because for many Americans this is still a time of deep uncertainty. For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she’s now living out of a van in Iowa.
Meanwhile, back here in our nation’s capitol we’re always dealing with new challenges.
I’m happy to report that the Secret Service — thanks to some excellent reporting by white house correspondents — they are focusing on some of the issues that have come up. And, they have finally figured out a full proof way to keep people off my lawn. [image of John McCain] It works. It’s not just fence jumpers. Some of you know, a few months ago, a drone crashed landed out back. That was pretty serious, but don’t worry, we installed a new state-of-the-art security system.[image of Joe Biden] You know, let me set the record straight. I tease Joe Biden, but you know he has been in my side for seven years. I love that man. [applause] He’s not just a great Vice President, he is a great friend. We’ve gotten so close in some places in Indiana, they won’t serve us pizza anymore. [laughter] [applause]
I want to thank our host for the evening, a Chicago girl, the incredibly talented Cecily Strong. [applause] On Saturday Night Live, Cecily impersonates CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, which is surprising, because usually the only people impersonating journalists on CNN are journalists on CNN. [laughter]
ABC is here with some of the stars from their big new comedy “black-ish.” It’s a great show, but I have to give ABC fair warning, being black-ish only makes you popular for so long. Trust me. There is a shelf life to that thing.
As always, the reporters here had a lot to cover over the last year here on the East Coast. One big story was the brutal winner. The polar vortex caused so many record lows, they renamed it MSNBC.
But, of course, let’s face it, one reporter on everybody’s minds, and that is 2016. Already, we’ve seen some missteps.
It turns out Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic back in 2009, which, you know what, I — look, I understand. It’s an innocent mistake. It reminds me of when I identified myself as American back in 1961.
Ted Cruz said that denying the existence of climate change made him like Galileo. Now that’s not really an apt comparison. Galileo believed the Earth revolves around the sun. Ted Cruz believes the Earth revolves around Ted Cruz.
And just as an aside, I want to point out, when a guy who has his face on a Hope poster calls you self-centered, you know you’ve got a problem. The narcissism index is creeping up a little too high.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum announced that he would not attend the same-sex wedding of a friend or loved one, to which gays and lesbians across the country responded, that’s not going to be a problem. Don’t sweat that one. [LAUGHTER]
And Donald Trump is here. Still.
Anyway, it’s amazing how time flies. Soon, the first presidential contest will take place, and I for one cannot wait to see who the Koch brothers pick. It’s exciting.
Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, who will finally get that red rose?
The winner gets a billion dollar war chest. The runner-up gets to be the bachelor on the next season of “The Bachelor.”
I mean seriously, a billion dollars from just two guys. Is it just me, or does that feel a little excessive?
I mean, it’s almost insulting to the candidates. The Koch brothers think they think to spend a billion dollars to get folks to like one of these people. It’s got to hurt their feelings a little bit.
And I know I’ve raised a lot of money too, but in all fairness, my middle name is Hussein. What’s their excuse?
The trail hasn’t been easy for my fellow Democrats either. As we all know Hillary’s private e-mails got her in trouble. Frankly, I thought it was going to be her private Instagram account that was going to cause her bigger problems.
Hillary kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Chipotle. Not to be outdone, Martin O’Malley went completely unrecognized as a Martin O’Malley campaign event. And Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie. Bernie’s an interesting guy. Apparently, some folks want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all.[LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] It could happen.
Anyway, as always, I want to close on a more serious note. You know, I often joke about tensions between me and the press, but honestly, what they say doesn’t bother me. I understand we’ve got an adversarial system. I’m a mellow sort of guy. And that’s why I invited Luther, my anger translator, to join me here tonight.
[APPLAUSE: Keegan-Michael Key joins on stage.]
LUTHER: Hold on to your lily white butts!
OBAMA: In our fast-changing world, traditions like the White House correspondents dinner are important.
LUTHER: I mean, really! What is this dinner? And why am I required to come to it?
Jeb Bush, do you really want to do this!
OBAMA: Because despite our differences, we count on the press to shed light on the most important issues of the day.
LUTHER: And we can count on FOX News to terrify old white people with some non-sense!
OBAMA: We won’t always see eye to eye.
LUTHER: And, CNN, thank you so much for the wall-to-wall Ebola coverage. For two full weeks, we were one step away from “The Walking Dead”. Then y’all got up and just moved on to the next thing. That was awesome.
Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t noticed, you don’t have Ebola!
OBAMA: But I still deeply appreciate the work that you do.
LUTHER: Y’all remember when I had that big old hole in the bottom of the gulf of Mexico, and then I plugged it? Remember that? Which Obama’s Katrina was that one? Was that 19 or was it 20, because I can’t remember.
OBAMA: Protecting our democracy is more important than ever. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that the donor who gave Ted Cruz $6 million was just exercising free speech.
LUTHER: Yes, it’s the kind of speech like this, I just wasted $6 million.
OBAMA: And it’s not just Republicans. Hillary will have to raise huge sums of money too.
LUTHER: Aw yeah, she’s going to get that money! She’s going to get all the money! Khaleesi is coming to Westeros! Watch out! Woo!
OBAMA: The non-stop focus on billionaire donors creates real problems for our democracy.
LUTHER: And that’s why we’re running for our third term!
OBAMA: No, we’re not.
LUTHER: We’re not?
LUTHER: Who the hell said that!
OBAMA: But we need to focus on big challenges like climate changes.
LUTHER: Hey, folks, if you haven’t noticed, California is bone dry. It looks like a trailer for the new “Mad Max” movie up in there. Y’all think that Bradley Cooper came here because he wants to talk to Chuck Todd? He needed a glass of water!
OBAMA: The science is clear, the science is clear. Nine out of the 10 hottest years ever came in the last decade.
LUTHER: Now I’m not a scientist, but I do know how to count to ten.
OBAMA: Rising seas, more violent storms.
LUTHER: You got mosquitoes, sweaty people on the trains stinking it up. It’s just nasty!
OBAMA: I mean, look at what’s happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate.
LUTHER: OK, I think they got it.
OBAMA: It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, short-sided irresponsible bull —
LUTHER: Whoa, whoa whoa, whoa!
LUTHER: All due respect, sir, you don’t need anger translator. You need counseling.
LUTHER: And I’m out of here, man. I ain’t trying to get into all this.
LUTHER: He crazy.
OBAMA: Luther, my anger translator, ladies and gentlemen.
Now that I got that off my chest — you know, investigative journalism, explanatory journalism, journalism that exposes corruption and justice gives voice to the different and the marginalized, the voiceless — that’s power. It’s a privilege. It’s as important to America’s trajectory, to our values, our ideals, to anything we could do in elected office.
We remember journalists we lost over the past year. Journalists like Steven Sotloff, and James Foley, murdered for nothing more than trying to shine a light into some of the world’s darkest corners.
We remember the journalists unjustly imprisoned around the world, including our own Jason Rezaian. For nine months, Jason has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes and the fears of the Iranian people, carrying their stories to the readers of “The Washington Post,” in an effort to bridge our common humanity. As was already mentioned, Jason’s brother Ali is here tonight and I have told him personally, we will not rest until we bring him home to his family safe and sound.
These journalists and so many others view their work as just a profession, but as a public good, an indispensable pillar of our society, so I want to give a toast to them.
I raise a glass to them and all of you, with the words of the American foreign correspondent Dorothy Thompson.
It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.
Thank you for your devotion to exercising our liberty and to telling our American story. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 26, 2015
Source: Complex, 4-25-15
“[The White House Correspondents’ Dinner] is the night when Washington celebrates itself. Somebody’s gotta do it.”
“Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”
“Executive action on immigration? Bucket!”
“The Castro brothers are here tonight!”
“I look so old John Boehner already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral.”
“Some people still say I’m arrogant, aloof, and condescending. Some people are so dumb.”
“Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime, which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime.”
On the biblical end of days: “Now that’s a legacy.”
On the drone crash landing on the White House lawn: *shows pic of Joe Biden with bat*
On his friendship with Biden: “We’ve gotten so close in some places in Indiana, they won’t serve us pizza anymore.”
“Usually the only people impersonating journalists on CNN are journalists on CNN.”
On Blackish: “Being blackish only makes you popular for so long.”
On Ted Cruz comparing himself to Galileo: “Now that’s not really an apt comparison. Galileo believed Earth revolved around the sun. Cruz believes that Earth revolves around Ted Cruz.”
And two gems from Luther:
“I’m not a scientist but I do know how to count to ten.”
To Obama: “You need counseling. I’m out.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 25, 2015
April 6, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 6, 2015
Source: WaPo, 4-2-15
OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody.
Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
As president and commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people, and I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. This has been a long time coming.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades. By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb. And Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.
I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.
When that did not happen, we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history, sanctions which had a profound impact on the Iranian economy.
Now, sanctions alone could not stop Iran’s nuclear program, but they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table. Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us, and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world’s major powers: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China as well as the European Union.
Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.
And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, that we could not verify their compliance, and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations.
It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material, inspections of Iran’s program increased, and we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.
Today, after many months of tough principle diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal. And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.
This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. So this deal is not based on trust. It’s based on unprecedented verification.
Many key details will be finalized over the next three months. And nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.
First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium because it will not develop weapons grade plutonium. The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced. The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor. Iran will not build a new heavy water reactor. And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors, ever.
Second, this deal shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two thirds. Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordo facility. Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years. The vast majority of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.
Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb. Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb. And the strict limitations on Iran’s stockpile will last for 15 years.
Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly, that is in secret. International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program, from uranium mills that provide the raw materials to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.
If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.
With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. So, this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.
There will be strict limits on Iran’s program for a decade. Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years. The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more. Indeed, some will be permanent. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions. Our own sanctions and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased, as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.
Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.
Now let me re-emphasize, our work is not yet done. The deal has not been signed. Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented and those details matter.
If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don’t meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.
But if we can get this done and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and to do so peacefully.
Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance the deal. And I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.
I am confident that we can show that this deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies and for the world.
But the fact is we only have three options for addressing Iran’s nuclear program. First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal, like this one, and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The second option is we can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East and setting back Iran’s program by a few years. In other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back. Meanwhile, we’d ensure that Iran would raise their head to try and build a bomb.
Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones and hope for the best. Knowing that every time we have done so, Iran has not capitulated, but instead has advanced its program. And that in very short order, the breakout timeline would be eliminated and a nuclear arms race in the region could be triggered because of that uncertainty.
In other words, the third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action because we’d have no idea what was going on inside of Iran. Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so.
That’s not how the world works. And that’s not what history shows us. Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions.
Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it’s doubtful that we could even keep our current international sanctions in place.
So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?
I think the answer will be clear. Remember, I have always insisted that I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will.
But I also know that a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done and offers a more comprehensive and lasting solution. It is our best option by far. And while it is always a possibility that Iran may try to cheat on the deal in the future, this framework of inspections and transparency makes it far more likely that we’ll know about it if they try to cheat, and I or future presidents will have preserved all of the options that are currently available to deal with it.
To the Iranian people, I want to reaffirm what I’ve said since the beginning of my presidency. We are willing to engage you on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.
This deal offers the prospect of relief from sanctions that were imposed because of Iran’s violation of international law. Since Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that it’s program is, in fact, peaceful. It demonstrates that if Iran complies with its international obligations, then it can fully rejoin the community of nations, thereby fulfilling the extraordinary talent and aspirations of the Iranian people. That would be good for Iran, and it would be good for the world.
Of course, this deal alone, even if fully implemented, will not end the deep divisions and mistrust between our two countries. We have a difficult history between us.
And our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America’s friends and allies, like Israel.
So make no mistake, we will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies.
It’s no secret that the Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue. If in fact Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.
And I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that.
More importantly, I will be speaking with the prime minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats towards Israel.
That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and make clear our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s defense.
Today, I also spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, to reaffirm our commitment to the security of our partners in the Gulf. And I am inviting the leaders of the six countries who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain to meet me at Camp David this spring to discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, played a critical role in our current Iran policy, helping to shape the sanctions regime that applied so much pressure on Iran and ultimately forced them to the table.
In the coming days and weeks, my administration will engage Congress once again about how we can play — how it can play a constructive oversight role. I’ll begin that effort by speaking to the leaders of the House and the Senate today.
In those conversations, I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace. And they should be evaluated based on the facts, and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security. For, this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies.
If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.
The American people understand this, which is why a solid majority support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced down the far greater threat of Communism, and said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The American people remembered that at the height of the Cold War.
Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary, despite the fact that that adversary not only threatened to destroy our country and our way of life, but had the means to do so.
Those agreements were not perfect. They did not end all threats. But they made our world safer. A good deal with Iran will do the same. Today I’d like to express my thanks to our international partners for their steadfastness, their cooperation.
I was able to speak earlier today with our close allies, Prime Minister Cameron and President Holland and Chancellor Merkel, to reaffirm that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this effort. And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless — and I mean tireless — Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team. They have worked so hard to make this progress. They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.
Their work, our work, is not yet done and success is not guaranteed. But we have a historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. We should seize that chance. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States of America.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 2, 2015
Source: State.gov, 4-2-15
Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.
Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium
Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.
Inspections and Transparency
Reactors and Reprocessing
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 2, 2015
Source: WH, 3-30-15
Edward M. Kennedy Institute
12:16 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. To Vicki, Ted, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, Ambassador Smith, members of the Kennedy family — thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. Your Eminence, Cardinal O’Malley; Vice President Biden; Governor Baker; Mayor Walsh; members of Congress, past and present; and pretty much every elected official in Massachusetts — (laughter) — it is an honor to mark this occasion with you.
Boston, know that Michelle and I have joined our prayers with yours these past few days for a hero — former Army Ranger and Boston Police Officer John Moynihan, who was shot in the line of duty on Friday night. (Applause.) I mention him because, last year, at the White House, the Vice President and I had the chance to honor Officer Moynihan as one of America’s “Top Cops” for his bravery in the line of duty, for risking his life to save a fellow officer. And thanks to the heroes at Boston Medical Center, I’m told Officer Moynihan is awake, and talking, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. (Applause.)
I also want to single out someone who very much wanted to be here, just as he was every day for nearly 25 years as he represented this commonwealth alongside Ted in the Senate — and that’s Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.) As many of you know, John is in Europe with our allies and partners, leading the negotiations with Iran and the world community, and standing up for a principle that Ted and his brother, President Kennedy, believed in so strongly: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” (Applause.)
And, finally, in his first years in the Senate, Ted dispatched a young aide to assemble a team of talent without rival. The sell was simple: Come and help Ted Kennedy make history. So I want to give a special shout-out to his extraordinarily loyal staff — (applause) — 50 years later a family more than one thousand strong. This is your day, as well. We’re proud of you. (Applause.) Of course, many of you now work with me. (Laughter.) So enjoy today, because we got to get back to work. (Laughter.)
Distinguished guests, fellow citizens — in 1958, Ted Kennedy was a young man working to reelect his brother, Jack, to the United States Senate. On election night, the two toasted one another: “Here’s to 1960, Mr. President,” Ted said, “If you can make it.” With his quick Irish wit, Jack returned the toast: “Here’s to 1962, Senator Kennedy, if you can make it.” (Laughter.) They both made it. And today, they’re together again in eternal rest at Arlington.
But their legacies are as alive as ever together right here in Boston. The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism; the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate as a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real.
What more fitting tribute, what better testament to the life of Ted Kennedy, than this place that he left for a new generation of Americans — a monument not to himself but to what we, the people, have the power to do together.
Any of us who have had the privilege to serve in the Senate know that it’s impossible not to share Ted’s awe for the history swirling around you — an awe instilled in him by his brother, Jack. Ted waited more than a year to deliver his first speech on the Senate floor. That’s no longer the custom. (Laughter.) It’s good to see Trent and Tom Daschle here, because they remember what customs were like back then. (Laughter.)
And Ted gave a speech only because he felt there was a topic — the Civil Rights Act — that demanded it. Nevertheless, he spoke with humility, aware, as he put it, that “a freshman Senator should be seen, not heard; should learn, and not teach.”
Some of us, I admit, have not always heeded that lesson. (Laughter.) But fortunately, we had Ted to show us the ropes anyway. And no one made the Senate come alive like Ted Kennedy. It was one of the great pleasures of my life to hear Ted Kennedy deliver one of his stem winders on the Floor. Rarely was he more animated than when he’d lead you through the living museums that were his offices. He could — and he would — tell you everything that there was to know about all of it. (Laughter.)
And then there were more somber moments. I still remember the first time I pulled open the drawer of my desk. Each senator is assigned a desk, and there’s a tradition of carving the names of those who had used it before. And those names in my desk included Taft and Baker, Simon, Wellstone, and Robert F. Kennedy.
The Senate was a place where you instinctively pulled yourself up a little bit straighter; where you tried to act a little bit better. “Being a senator changes a person,” Ted wrote in his memoirs. As Vicki said, it may take a year, or two years, or three years, but it always happens; it fills you with a heightened sense of purpose.
That’s the magic of the Senate. That’s the essence of what it can be. And who but Ted Kennedy, and his family, would create a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber, and open it to everyone?
We live in a time of such great cynicism about all our institutions. And we are cynical about government and about Washington, most of all. It’s hard for our children to see, in the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of today’s politics, the possibilities of our democracy — our capacity, together, to do big things.
And this place can help change that. It can help light the fire of imagination, plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of future generations. Imagine a gaggle of school kids clutching tablets, turning classrooms into cloakrooms and hallways into hearing rooms, assigned an issue of the day and the responsibility to solve it.
Imagine their moral universe expanding as they hear about the momentous battles waged in that chamber and how they echo throughout today’s society. Great questions of war and peace, the tangled bargains between North and South, federal and state; the original sins of slavery and prejudice; and the unfinished battles for civil rights and opportunity and equality.
Imagine the shift in their sense of what’s possible. The first time they see a video of senators who look like they do — men and women, blacks and whites, Latinos, Asian-Americans; those born to great wealth but also those born of incredibly modest means.
Imagine what a child feels the first time she steps onto that floor, before she’s old enough to be cynical; before she’s told what she can’t do; before she’s told who she can’t talk to or work with; what she feels when she sits at one of those desks; what happens when it comes her turn to stand and speak on behalf of something she cares about; and cast a vote, and have a sense of purpose.
It’s maybe just not for kids. What if we all carried ourselves that way? What if our politics, our democracy, were as elevated, as purposeful, as she imagines it to be right here?
Towards the end of his life, Ted reflected on how Congress has changed over time. And those who served earlier I think have those same conversations. It’s a more diverse, more accurate reflection of America than it used to be, and that is a grand thing, a great achievement. But Ted grieved the loss of camaraderie and collegiality, the face-to-face interaction. I think he regretted the arguments now made to cameras instead of colleagues, directed at a narrow base instead of the body politic as a whole; the outsized influence of money and special interests — and how it all leads more Americans to turn away in disgust and simply choose not to exercise their right to vote.
Now, since this is a joyous occasion, this is not the time for me to suggest a slew of new ideas for reform. Although I do have some. (Laughter.) Maybe I’ll just mention one.
What if we carried ourselves more like Ted Kennedy? What if we worked to follow his example a little bit harder? To his harshest critics, who saw him as nothing more than a partisan lightning rod — that may sound foolish, but there are Republicans here today for a reason. They know who Ted Kennedy was. It’s not because they shared Ted’s ideology or his positions, but because they knew Ted as somebody who bridged the partisan divide over and over and over again, with genuine effort and affection, in an era when bipartisanship has become so very rare.
They knew him as somebody who kept his word. They knew him as somebody who was willing to take half a loaf and endure the anger of his own supporters to get something done. They knew him as somebody who was not afraid. And fear so permeates our politics, instead of hope. People fight to get in the Senate and then they’re afraid. We fight to get these positions and then don’t want to do anything with them. And Ted understood the only point of running for office was to get something done — not to posture; not to sit there worrying about the next election or the polls — to take risks. He understood that differences of party or philosophy could not become barriers to cooperation or respect.
He could howl at injustice on the Senate floor like a force of nature, while nervous aides tried to figure out which chart to pull up next. (Laughter.) But in his personal dealings, he answered Edmund Randolph’s call to keep the Senate a place to “restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy.”
I did not know Ted as long as some of the speakers here today. But he was my friend. I owe him a lot. And as far as I could tell, it was never ideology that compelled him, except insofar as his ideology said, you should help people; that you should have a life of purpose; that you should be empathetic and be able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, and see through their eyes. His tirelessness, his restlessness, they were rooted in his experience.
By the age of 12, he was a member of a Gold Star Family. By 36, two of his brothers were stolen from him in the most tragic, public of ways. By 41, he nearly lost a beloved child to cancer. And that made suffering something he knew. And it made him more alive to the suffering of others.
While his son was sleeping after treatment, Ted would wander the halls of the hospital and meet other parents keeping vigil over their own children. They were parents terrified of what would happen when they couldn’t afford the next treatment; parents working out what they could sell or borrow or mortgage just to make it just a few more months — and then, if they had to, bargain with God for the rest.
There, in the quiet night, working people of modest means and one of the most powerful men in the world shared the same intimate, immediate sense of helplessness. He didn’t see them as some abstraction. He knew them. He felt them. Their pain was his as much as they might be separated by wealth and fame. And those families would be at the heart of Ted’s passions. Just like the young immigrant, he would see himself in that child. They were his cause — the sick child who couldn’t see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looked like or where she came from or who she loves.
He quietly attended as many military funerals in Massachusetts as he could for those who fell in Iraq and Afghanistan. He called and wrote each one of the 177 families in this commonwealth who lost a loved one on 9/11, and he took them sailing, and played with their children, not just in the days after, but every year after.
His life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or connections; they already had enough representation. It was to give voice to the people who wrote and called him from every state, desperate for somebody who might listen and help. It was about what he could do for others.
It’s why he’d take his hearings to hospitals in rural towns and inner cities, and push people out of their comfort zones, including his colleagues. Because he had pushed himself out of his comfort zone. And he tried to instill in his colleagues that same sense of empathy. Even if they called him, as one did, “wrong at the top of his lungs.” Even if they might disagree with him 99 percent of the time. Because who knew what might happen with that other 1 percent?
Orrin Hatch was sent to Washington in part because he promised to fight Ted Kennedy. And they fought a lot. One was a conservative Mormon from Utah, after all; the other one was, well, Ted Kennedy. (Laughter.) But once they got to know one another, they discovered certain things in common — a devout faith, a soft spot for health care, very fine singing voices. (Laughter.)
In 1986, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Orrin held the first hearing on the AIDS epidemic, even hugging an AIDS patient — an incredible and very important gesture at the time. The next year, Ted took over the committee, and continued what Orrin started. When Orrin’s father passed away, Ted was one of the first to call. It was over dinner at Ted’s house one night that they decided to try and insure the 10 million children who didn’t have access to health care.
As that debate hit roadblocks in Congress, as apparently debates over health care tend to do, Ted would have his Chief of Staff serenade Orrin to court his support. When hearings didn’t go Ted’s way, he might puff on a cigar to annoy Orrin, who disdained smoking. (Laughter.) When they didn’t go Orrin’s way, he might threaten to call Ted’s sister, Eunice. (Laughter.) And when it came time to find a way to pay for the Children’s Health Insurance Program that they, together, had devised, Ted pounced, offering a tobacco tax and asking, “Are you for Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man, or millions of children who lack adequate health care?”
It was the kind of friendship unique to the Senate, calling to mind what John Calhoun once said of Henry Clay: “I don’t like Clay. He is a bad man, an imposter, a creator of wicked schemes. I wouldn’t speak to him, but, by God, I love him!” (Laughter.)
So, sure, Orrin Hatch once called Ted “one of the major dangers to the country.” (Laughter.) But he also stood up at a gathering in Ted’s last months, and said, “I’m asking you all to pray for Ted Kennedy.”
The point is, we can fight on almost everything. But we can come together on some things. And those “somethings” can mean everything to a whole lot of people.
It was common ground that led Ted and Orrin to forge a compromise that covered millions of kids with health care. It was common ground, rooted in the plight of loved ones, that led Ted and Chuck Grassley to cover kids with disabilities; that led Ted and Pete Domenici to fight for equal rights for Americans with a mental illness.
Common ground, not rooted in abstractions or stubborn, rigid ideologies, but shared experience, that led Ted and John McCain to work on a Patient’s Bill of Rights, and to work to forge a smarter, more just immigration system.
A common desire to fix what’s broken. A willingness to compromise in pursuit of a larger goal. A personal relationship that lets you fight like heck on one issue, and shake hands on the next — not through just cajoling or horse-trading or serenades, but through Ted’s brand of friendship and kindness, and humor and grace.
“What binds us together across our differences in religion or politics or economic theory,” Ted wrote in his memoirs, “[is] all we share as human beings — the wonder that we experience when we look at the night sky; the gratitude that we know when we feel the heat of the sun; the sense of humor in the face of the unbearable; and the persistence of suffering. And one thing more — the capacity to reach across our differences to offer a hand of healing.”
For all the challenges of a changing world, for all the imperfections of our democracy, the capacity to reach across our differences is something that’s entirely up to us.
May we all, in our own lives, set an example for the kids who enter these doors, and exit with higher expectations for their country.
May we all remember the times this American family has challenged us to ask what we can do; to dream and say why not; to seek a cause that endures; and sail against the wind in its pursuit, and live our lives with that heightened sense of purpose.
Thank you. May God bless you. May He continue to bless this country we love. Thank you. (Applause.)
12:44 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 30, 2015