OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 30, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 28, 2014
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Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 23, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 22, 2014
Source: Star-Telegram, 3-22-14
Mr. Boller, a professor emeritus of history at Texas Christian University, died last week in Fort Worth after a brief illness. He was 97….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 22, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 22, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 20, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 19, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 17, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 16, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 16, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 15, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 14, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 13, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 10, 2014
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
“How do you convey to Putin the threat that sounds like ‘Vladimir don’t mess around or you’re going to feel my flexibility because I’ve got a phone and I’ve got a pen and I can dial really fast and poke you with my pen — pinkie promise.’”
“I’m probably being too hard on the president. After all, who could’ve seen this coming?”
“Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”
“Hey Democrats! It’s your leaders who are demeaning women. Liberals seem to think the women of America are cheap dates.”
“I do believe that the eyes of America are open. Unfortunately though, some would want you to hit the snooze button and roll back over. Like ‘Hush America, go back to sleep little lambs,’ Some of these folks are in the GOP establishment.”
“Thank you, Texas because liberty needs a Congress on Cruz control. The awakening began, and Sen. Ted Cruz helped keep them awake. His filibuster, it worked in waking people up to the folly of a government takeover.”
“He told his colleagues it was time, time to stand up, time to use the tools of the Constitution, the power of the purse and to fulfill their campaign promises and to stop Obamacare. But our army balked. We hoped that they were just reloading, but instead they retreated, and worse, worse, they joined the lapdogs in the lamestream to trash the foot soldiers who had fought for America.”
“I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his healthcare scam. I do not like these dirty crooks or how they lie and cook the books. I do not like when Congress stills. I do not like their crony deals. I do not like the spying man. I do not like ‘Oh yes we can.’ I do not like this spending spree. We’re smart we know there’s nothing free. I do not like reporters’ smug replies when I complain about their lies. I do not like this kind of hope. And we won’t take it, nope, nope, nope. Hat tip the Internet.”
“Run, Sarah, Run!”
“I should, I didn’t get to run this morning. I was so busy. Did some hot yoga and didn’t get to run.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 8, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 8, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 7, 2014
Today, President Obama and the First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami to discuss the President’s plan to equip all Americans with the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy….READ MORE
Source: WH, 3-7-14
Coral Reef Senior High School
3:05 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Miami! (Applause.) Hello, Cuda Nation! (Applause.) Hello! It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High. (Applause.) You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is cold. (Laughter.) Listen, Michelle and I are so grateful for the warm welcome. It is great to be here. I want to thank some people who are doing outstanding work.
First of all, your superintendent, Superintendent Carvalho, is doing great work. We’re really proud of him. (Applause.) Your principal, Principal Leal, is doing great work. (Applause.) All the Coral Reef teachers and staff, you guys are all doing a great job. (Applause.) And you’re doing what is necessary to help young people get ready for college and careers. So that’s why we’re here. We are proud of what’s being done at this school.
I want to mention a few other folks who are here who are fighting on behalf of the people of South Florida every day. We’ve got Congressman Joe Garcia is here. (Applause.) We’ve got Congresswoman Frederica Wilson here. (Applause.) We’ve got Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Your former Governor Charlie Crist is here. (Applause.)
And most of all, I want to thank the people that Michelle and I came all the down here to see, and that is the students of Coral Reef. (Applause.) We had heard great things about your school. We had heard great things about the students. We wanted to come down here and just see what was going on. (Applause.) And Michelle and I just had a chance to visit with some of your classmates who are going through some of the scholarship applications, and we had a chance to talk to them and hear what their plans were. And first of all, Michelle and I looked and we said, these must be actors playing students, because they were all smart and good-looking and organized. (Laughter.) And I asked them, what are you going to do? And they’re — well, I’m going to be applying to business school, and then I’m going to start a company, and then I — when I was your age, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was lucky if I had gotten out of bed on time. (Laughter.) So you guys are ahead of the game.
And we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to keep up the good work, because by working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future. And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed. We want every young person to have the kinds of teachers and the kind of classes and the kind of learning experiences that are available to you here at Coral Reef. (Applause.) Because that’s the best investment we can make in America’s future. (Applause.)
Now, keep in mind, Michelle and I, we’re only here today because of the kind of education that we got. That was our ticket to success. We grew up a lot like many of you. I was raised by a single mom; she was a teenager when I was born. We moved around a lot, we did not have a lot of money, but the one thing she was determined to see was that my sister and I would get the best education possible.
And she would press me. Sometimes she’d make me wake up, do my lessons before I even went to school. She was not going to let me off the hook. And at the time, I wasn’t happy about it, but now I’m glad she pressed me like that. Because, thanks to my mother and my grandparents, and then great teachers and great counselors who encouraged me, and a country that made it possible for me to afford a higher education, I was able to go to college and law school.
And then when I met Michelle, I saw that — (applause) –there were a couple of things I noticed. I noticed she was smart. (Applause.) I noticed she was funny — she’s funny, she’s funnier than I am. (Laughter.) Obviously, I noticed she was cute, yes. (Applause.) But one of the things I also realized was, even though we had grown up in very different places, her story was a lot like mine. Her dad worked at a city water plant. He didn’t go to college. He was a blue-collar worker. Michelle’s mom — my mother-in-law, who I love to death — she was a secretary. No one in her family had gone to college. But because she had worked hard and her parents understood the value of education, and she had great teachers and great opportunities, and because the country was willing to invest to make sure that she was able to pay for college, she ended up going to some of the best universities in the country. (Applause.)
So the point is she and I have been able to achieve things that our parents, our grandparents would have never dreamed of. And that’s the chance this country should give every young person. That’s the idea at the heart of America. (Applause.)
What makes this country great, what makes it special when you look around, and Miami is a great example of it, you’ve got people coming from everywhere, every background, every race, every faith. But what binds us together is this idea that if you work hard, you can make it — that there’s opportunity for all. The belief that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, if you are responsible and put in the effort, you can succeed. There’s no limit to what you can do. That’s what America is all about. (Applause.)
Opportunity is what drew many of your parents and grandparents to America. And we’ve got to restore that idea for your generation, so that everybody has the same chance Michelle and I did. That’s why we’re working on what we call an opportunity agenda to create more jobs and train more workers with new skills; to make sure hard work is rewarded with a paycheck that supports a family; to make sure that everybody can get health care when they need it, so that nobody has to get into financial trouble because somebody in the family gets sick. (Applause.)
And for the students here, a lot of you, you may not think about these issues all the time. You’re spending a lot of time on homework and sports, and this and that. But you also oftentimes see your own family struggling and you worry about it. And one of the single-most important parts of our opportunity agenda is making sure that every young person in America has access to a world-class education — a world-class education. (Applause.) So that’s why we are here.
I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages. So we’re trying to help more states make high-quality preschool and other early learning programs available to the youngest kids. (Applause.) I believe that our K-12 system should be the best in the world. So we started a competition called Race to the Top, to encourage more states like Florida to raise expectations for students like you, because when we set high expectations, every single one of you can meet them. (Applause.) You’re recruiting and preparing the best teachers. You are turning around low-performing schools. You’re expanding high-performing ones. You’re making sure every student is prepared for college or a career.
I believe that every student should have the best technology. So we launched something we called ConnectED to connect our schools to high-speed Internet. And I want to congratulate Miami-Dade and your superintendent, because you have achieved your goal of installing wi-fi in every single one of your schools. (Applause.)
So the good news is, in part because of some of these reforms we’ve initiated, when you add it all up our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest on record. The drop-out rate has been dropping, and among Latino students has been cut in half since 2000. (Applause.) Miami-Dade’s graduation rate is higher than it’s ever been. That’s all because of the efforts of so many people, including the parents and students who have been putting in the effort. It’s because of the teachers and administrators and staff who are doing such a great job. You should be proud. We’re making progress — we’re making progress. (Applause.)
Yes, you guys — by the way, you can all sit down. I didn’t realize everybody was still standing up. Sit down. Take a load off. You guys can’t sit down though, because you don’t have chairs, although bend your knees so you don’t faint. (Laughter.)
But here’s the key thing, Coral Reef: We still have more work to do, all of us — elected officials, principals, teachers, parents, students. Because, as Michelle says, education is a two-way street. Folks like us have to work hard to give you the best schools and support that you need. But then, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain by committing to your education. That means you’ve got to stretch your minds. You’ve got to push through subjects that aren’t always easy. And it means continuing your education past high school, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college degree or getting some professional training.
So I want to talk about an easy step that high school students like you can take to make college a reality. And it’s something you already know here at Coral Reef, but I’m speaking to all the young people out there who may be watching. It’s called FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
It is a simple form. It used to be complicated; we made it simple. It doesn’t cost anything — that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name. (Laughter.) It does not take a long time to fill out. Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college — scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs.
For the past five years, we’ve been working to make college more affordable. We took on a college loan system that gave billions of dollars of taxpayer money to big banks to manage the student loan system. We said, we don’t need the banks, let’s give the money directly to students, we can help more students. (Applause.) We can help more students that way. So we expanded the grants that help millions of students from low-income backgrounds pay for college. We’re offering millions of people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes once they graduate.
Today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. That’s a great thing. (Applause.) That is a great thing. But we still need to do more to help rein in the rising cost of tuition. We need to do more to help Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt — because no striving, hardworking, ambitious, young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can’t afford it — nobody. (Applause.)
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back. Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it. So FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question. And I know the Barracudas know all about FAFSA. (Applause.) Last year, you had the second-highest completion rate of any large high school in the state. (Applause.) You should be proud of that. Your teachers and parents should be proud of that.
But last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: That ain’t right. (Laughter.) Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right. (Laughter.) And as a result, they lost out on over $100 million in Pell grants. Think about that — $100 million that could have helped Florida students help pay for college was just left on the table. That’s just in Florida. Nationwide, over one million high school students did not fill out the FAFSA form. That happens every year.
So my challenge today to every high school student in America: Fill out the form. Even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid, fill out the form. You might qualify.
And we’re making it easier than ever. We put the FAFSA form online. We made it shorter. It takes about half an hour to fill out. And it could change the rest of your life. We’ve updated it to save your parents a lot of hassle as well. And today, I’m announcing another improvement.
Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to tell every governor that, starting today, they can, if they choose, confidentially let high school administrators know which students have filled out the FAFSA form and which haven’t. So that way, if Principal Leal wants to check in with the seniors —
AUDIENCE: Wooo —
THE PRESIDENT: I know, everybody is like, wow. (Laughter.) I know she’s already on top of stuff, but this way, she could check and seniors who had not filled it out, she could then help them answer the questions and figure out what’s holding her back — what’s holding them back.
Anybody will be able to go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school, so we can track it. So if you want to have a friendly competition with Palmetto High or Miami Killian — (applause) — to see who can get a higher completion rate on your FAFSA, you can do that. (Applause.) You achieved the second-highest rate in the state, but I mean if you want to settle for number two, that’s okay — you might be able to get number one. (Applause.) Huh? I’m just saying you could go for number one. (Applause.)
So these are things I can do on my own, but I’m here to also tell you I need — I could use some help from folks in Washington. There are some things I don’t need Congress’s permission for, and in this year of action, whenever I see a way to act to help expand opportunity for young people I’m just going to go ahead and take it. I’m just going to go ahead and do it. (Applause.)
So earlier this year, Michelle and I hosted a College Opportunity Summit, where over 150 colleges and universities and nonprofits made commitments to help more low-income students get to college and graduate from college. (Applause.) But I’m also willing to work with anybody in Congress — Democrat, Republican, don’t matter — to make sure young people like you have a shot to success.
So a few days ago, I sent my budget to Congress. And budgets are pretty boring — but the stuff inside the budgets are pretty important. And my budget focuses on things like preschool for all; like redesigning high schools so students like you can learn real-world skills that businesses want — (applause) — like preparing more young people for careers in some of the fields of the future — in science and technology and engineering and math to discover new planets and invent robots and cure diseases — all the cool stuff that we adults haven’t figured out yet. (Laughter.)
These are not just the right investments for our schools; they’re the right priorities for our country. You are our priority. We’ve got to make sure we have budgets that reflect that you are the most important thing to this country’s success. If you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed. (Applause.)
We’ve got to make sure all of you are prepared for the new century, and we’ve got to keep growing our economy in other ways: attracting new high-tech jobs, reforming our immigration system — something Congressman Garcia is fighting for. (Applause.) And the rest of Congress needs to stop doing nothing, do right by America’s students, America’s teachers, America’s workers. Let’s get to work. Let’s get busy. (Applause.) We’ve got work to do. All of us have work to do — teachers, school counselors, principals, superintendents, parents, grandparents.
We all have work to do, because we want to see you succeed, because we’re counting on you, Barracudas. (Applause.) And if you keep reaching for success — and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here — if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great. (Applause.) Our schools will be great. (Applause.)
I want us to have the best-educated workforce in America. And I want it to be the most diverse workforce in the world. That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s what your superintendent and your principal are fighting for, and I hope that’s what you fight for yourselves. (Applause.) Because when I meet the students here at Coral Reef, I am optimistic about the future. Michelle and I walked out of that classroom, and we said, you know what, we’re going to be in good hands, we’re going to do okay. (Applause.) Because these young people are coming, and nobody is going to stop them.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
3:25 P.M EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 7, 2014
Source: WH, 3-6-14
7:34 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Welcome to the White House for the latest in our series celebrating the music that has shaped our American story. And as someone who always shares this house with brilliant, creative, talented, somewhat stubborn women –(laughter) — I think Women’s History Month is the perfect time to honor a few more: the Women of Soul. (Applause.)
This is a really good lineup. And I want to thank our performers for this evening. They are fantastic. We’ve got Tessanne Chin here. (Applause.) We’ve got Melissa Etheridge. (Applause.) We’ve got Aretha Franklin. (Applause.) We’ve got Ariana Grande. (Applause.) Ms. Patti LaBelle. (Applause.) Janelle Monae. (Applause.) And Ms. Jill Scott. (Applause.) That is a lineup. I can’t wait. (Laughter.)
Finally, I want to make a quick public service announcement. When Aretha Franklin first walked into Fame Studio in 1967, most of the other musicians had never heard her sing live before. When they did, one of them said, “The floors rumbled and the walls shook. My brain shook. It was magic.” So my advice to everyone tonight is simple: Hang on. (Laughter.) The Queen of Soul is in the building. If she blows your mind, it will be okay. (Laughter.)
But that’s what soul music does. It makes us move and it makes us feel. To quote Jill Scott, “Soul music is about reaching and touching people on a human level.”
For many of the performers here tonight, it all began on Sunday morning. Growing up in Detroit, Aretha sang at her father’s church, and recorded her first album at that church when she was just 14 years old. Patti LaBelle was painfully shy — I cannot believe that, but this is what I’ve been told –(laughter) — until she sang a solo in front of the congregation, and got a standing ovation. That’s when she realized she could do something special.
Eventually, artists like Aretha and Patti began mixing gospel with R&B, and rock and pop. Instead of singing about love and pain, forgiveness and acceptance to a church audience, they sang about them to the world. And the world had never heard anything like it.
When Aretha first told us what “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved. They wanted some respect. Later, when somebody asked her why it had such an impact, she said, “I guess everybody just wants a little respect.” (Laughter.)
Today, they still do. Aretha had already won 11 Grammys by the time Janelle Monae was born. But as a teenager struggling to make it in New York, Janelle worked as a maid, singing for the other women as they cleaned houses together. And she says the experience inspired her to write music for people like them — “because they need it the most.”
And when Melissa Etheridge was growing up, she fell in love with artists who had something to say. She remembers thinking, “I can’t wait until I get up there and sing the truth.”
And ultimately, that’s what soul is all about — telling some truth. And tonight, we’re in for a healthy dose of truth — (laughter) — from some of the finest voices there are.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce a true American treasure, the one and only Miss Patti LaBelle. (Applause.)
7:39 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 6, 2014
President Obama delivered a statement on efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine from the Brady Press Briefing Room….READ MORE
Source: WH, 3-6-14
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:05 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Before Jay takes some of your questions, I wanted to provide a brief update on our efforts to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Since the Russian intervention, we’ve been mobilizing the international community to condemn this violation of international law and to support the people and government of Ukraine.
This morning I signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.
According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials. These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions.
We took these steps in close coordination with our European allies. I’ve spoken to several of our closest friends around the world, and I’m pleased that our international unity is on display at this important moment. Already, we’ve moved together to announced substantial assistance for the government in Kyiv, and today in Brussels, our allies took similar steps to impose costs on Russia. I am confident that we are moving forward together, united in our determination to oppose actions that violate international law and to support the government and people of Ukraine.
And that includes standing up for the principle of state sovereignty. The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.
While we take these steps, I want to be clear that there is also a way to resolve this crisis that respects the interests of the Russian Federation, as well as the Ukrainian people. Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians. Begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine, with the participation of the international community. Russia would maintain its basing rights in Crimea, provided that it abides by its agreements and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And the world should support the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May.
That’s the path of de-escalation, and Secretary Kerry is engaged in discussions with all of the relevant parties, including Russia and Ukraine to pursue that path. But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States, and our allies and the international community will remain firm. Meanwhile, we’ve taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe and to support the people of Ukraine.
One last point — there’s been a lot of talk in Congress about these issues. Today, once again, I’m calling on Congress to follow up on these words with action, specifically to support the IMF’s capacity to lend resources to Ukraine and to provide American assistance for the Ukrainian government so that they can weather this storm and stabilize their economy, make needed reforms, deliver for their people, all of which will provide a smoother pathway for the elections that have already been scheduled in May.
Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve. That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.
Thanks very much. And Jay and Ben and others will be happy to take your questions.
1:10 P.M. EST
Source: WH, 3-6-14
As President Obama has made clear, the United States is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and that are inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.
Pursuant to the President’s guidance, today the State Department is putting in place visa restrictions on a number of officials and individuals, reflecting a policy decision to deny visas to those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This new step stands in addition to the policy already implemented to deny visas to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine.
In addition, the President has signed an Executive Order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; or purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. This E.O. is a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea, and does not preclude further steps should the situation deteriorate.
These actions build upon the previous actions the United States has taken, including suspending bilateral discussions with Russia on trade and investment; suspending other bilateral meetings on a case-by-case basis; putting on hold U.S.-Russia military-to-military engagement, including exercises, bilateral meetings, port visits, and planning conferences; and our agreement with G-7 nations to suspend for the time being our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June. Depending on how the situation develops, the United States is prepared to consider additional steps and sanctions as necessary.
At the same time, as the President has said, we seek to work with all parties to achieve a diplomatic solution that de-escalates the situation and restores Ukraine’s sovereignty. We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the Government of Ukraine, the immediate pull-back of Russia’s military forces to their bases, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and support for the urgent deployment of international observers and human rights monitors who can assure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians, and who can support the Ukrainian government’s efforts to hold a free and fair election on May 25.
As we follow developments in Ukraine closely, the United States reaffirms its unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty. We will continue to pursue measures that reinforce those commitments, to include the provision of additional support to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and our aviation detachment in Poland.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 6, 2014