All posts in category Political Speeches & Documents
Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: Obamas Attend Last National Christmas Tree Lighting
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 1, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 1, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Mike Pence Speeches at Indianapolis Carrier Plant
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Mike Pence Speeches at Indianapolis Carrier Plant
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 1, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 29, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama at the Annual Holiday Press Preview
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the First Lady at Annual Holiday Press Preview
Source: WH, 11-29-16
This year’s theme: The gift of service and sacrifice
1:35 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Hi, everybody! Look how good you guys look. You ready for some action?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you sure? I don’t know, you sound like you don’t want cookies or anything like that. (Laughter.) You think you want some cookies? You think so? Okay, well, we’re going to get to it, but first I want to welcome everyone to the White House.
I want to start by thanking Hazel for that wonderful introduction and for all of her service and hard work in helping to make this home so beautiful. I want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, as Hazel mentioned, who traveled here from 33 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico to come here and put up these beautiful decorations and transform this White House into this holiday wonderland. So I’m so grateful to you all.
And as we celebrate my family’s last holiday season in the White House, I’m thinking back to when we first came here to Washington and we promised to open up this house to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible. And we truly wanted to make the White House the “People’s House,” particularly during the holiday seasons. And over the past eight years, through the seasons, we’ve worked hard to achieve that goal by welcoming almost a half million guests to this house during the season. And thanks to our amazing volunteers, we’ve adorned the White House with about a half million ornaments for our guests to enjoy, and we’ve brought smiles to the faces of all those who enjoyed the 200,000 holiday cookies prepared by our outstanding pastry chefs. And you all will get to have some more of those today. That will make 200,020 or so.
So, looking back, I am proud to say that we did our very best during the holidays to make Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life feel comfortable and welcome here in our nation’s house. Now, we do all of this with the help of our extraordinary staff. I mean, yes, we have wonderful volunteers, but we have folks who, each year, take a very limited budget and very little resources, and they make miracles happen in this house.
So, for our final holiday preview, I just want to take a moment to highlight just a few of the amazing folks who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. And I don’t know if they know I’m calling them out — I don’t even know if they’re in the room. But I want to start with Deesha Dyer, who is the office — our Social Secretary.
MS. DYER: I’m here. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Deesha, there you are. There’s Deesha. (Applause.) Thank you, Deesha. And you’re going to see Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison. Cris is our Executive Chef and Susie is our Executive Pastry Chef. I want to thank them both, as well as all of the chefs, all of the staff in the kitchen who worked so hard to do everything possible to make these holidays terrific.
I want to thank all of our ushers who never get credit. I know they’re around here working away, but they’re the people who greet you, and they make sure that things are moving like they should in this house — our florists, who are tremendous. And I rarely get to thank our electricians, our carpenters, because they make sure that chandeliers are moved and structures are built so that we can put things on, and they do this in a matter of days. They turn this house upside down. And to our calligraphers — you’ll see all their handiwork throughout the ornaments. And I also always want to thank our incredible Marine Band, who you hear from throughout the season. My husband’s favorite musical crew are his own Marine Band.
This is all possible because of all of these people. And on behalf of the entire Obama family — me, Barack, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — we are so proud of this team here, so proud of the time that we spent with you. We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for us over the years. So let’s give them a round of applause. (Applause.)
So before I get choked up, let me officially kick off our final White House holiday season. And as always, today, we are celebrating with our extraordinary military community, our military families. We have our servicemembers. We have veterans here today. We have wounded warriors. We have our military spouses! (Applause.) You go, spouses. And of course, we have our outstanding, handsome, beautiful, smart, talented, engaging military kids. Are there any here? Oh here they are. (Laughter.) Let’s give them all a round of applause. (Applause.)
For the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you all be the first that see the decorations, this has been one of our favorite White House traditions. It reminds us that between all the shopping lists and the travel plans and all those big meals, that we cannot forget what the holidays are really about, and you all help us. Our military families like all of you remind us of what matters. Because even as you serve this country in uniform, or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepare to attend another new school as a military kid —
(A baby in the audience interrupts.)
MRS. OBAMA: — and there’s that one back there talking about I don’t know what, but there’s a little one back there who has a lot to say. (Laughter.) But you all still find time to contribute even more to your communities and to this country.
You do it all. You volunteer at local food banks. You coach your kids’ sports teams on the weekends. Many of you have even cut your Thanksgiving holiday short to come here and decorate the White House.
Just another example — we have Hazel up here — but one of our volunteers, her name is Jacqueline James. She’s from Redlands, California. Is Jacqueline here so we can really embarrass her? She’s probably still working. We’re going to do another reception for our volunteers later. But let me tell you a little bit about Jacqueline.
During her husband’s 22 years in the Army, her family — she and her family, they spent the holidays in five different states and even on a base overseas. During that time they managed to raise seven kids. And just two weeks ago, they celebrated the birth of their fifteenth grandchild. But their family’s service to this country did not end when Jacqueline’s husband retired, as they watched two of their sons do tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And even though Jacqueline doesn’t consider herself the most artistic decorator, she volunteered at the White House this year because — and this is what she said — she said, “If patriotism is an art,” she said, “then I am a master.”
It’s that kind of commitment to serving others, that’s what the holidays are truly about and that’s what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the White House. And this year’s holiday theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.” And as usual, we’re going to be celebrating our country’s greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families.
Down in the Booksellers, when you walk in, the visitors that come will see a tree and a flag display composed of pictures of military families who my husband and I have met on bases and in communities around the world over the course of our time here. The tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring America’s greatest heroes, the men and women who have given their lives for our country. And right next to those displays is an iPad station that allows guests to send holiday wishes to our servicemembers, and we are hoping that each of the 68,000 guests that are going to visit during the holiday season will take a moment to pause and send a message to express their gratitude.
After that, they’ll move on to see a number of other decorations that celebrate the gifts we share as a nation. For example, in the Library, we’re honoring the gift of a great education — which is important, right, school, college, all of that. And we have trees in the Library made out of crayons and pencils, so you have to check that out if you haven’t already. And to raise awareness about the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are not able to attend school, we’ve got two trees that are decorated with special ornaments, each of which has the word “girl” written in one of a dozen different languages.
So when guests head upstairs to this floor, they’re going to see that, in the Green Room, it’s filled with decorations representing the gifts provided by our White House Kitchen Garden with trees hung with ornaments in the shape of bees and fruit. And of course, right next door, we have our 19-foot-tall White House Christmas tree. It’s really big. They have to take out the chandeliers and rearrange everything just to get the tree in the house. And that’s in our Blue Room. And in the State Dining Room, you’re going to spot the official White House gingerbread house. So when you see it, guys, it’s made of all — everything on it is something you can eat. And our pastry chefs have worked very hard to make this house possible. It is beautiful. They’ve got the replica of the new White House garden, and Bo and Sunny, and lots of cool stuff.
Now, the trees in that room — there are 56 LEGO gingerbread houses representing every state and territory in America. And then somewhere around the house, we have supersize replicas of Bo and Sunny guarding their presents, because we don’t let them have their presents. (Laughter.) I’m just kidding, they get presents. They’re fine.
Altogether, the folks who come through these halls over the next few weeks will see about — how many ornaments do you think are in this house?
MRS. OBAMA: Six? (Laughter.) Ten?
CHILD: A hundred.
MRS. OBAMA: A hundred? Getting closer.
CHILD: Nine thousand.
MRS. OBAMA: Nine thousand?
CHILD: Two hundred.
MRS. OBAMA: Let me tell you, it’s 70,000 ornaments. I was pretty shocked at that.
So we can’t wait — that’s a lot of ornaments. But we can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season. And to everyone who created these stunning displays, all our volunteers, all our — all the folks who help make this happen, I want to once again say thank you. You all did a phenomenal job once again in turning this house into a magical place.
And to all the military families, those of you who are here today and all those around the world, I want to once again honor you for your service and your sacrifice and your love of this nation. It’s a lot that my family and I share along with you. It has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time.
So I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season, all right? And with that, we get to have some fun, okay? Are you guys ready — I’m just talking to the kids here. (Laughter.) You guys don’t get to have fun, but here’s what you get: We will take your children from you for a moment. (Laughter and applause.) Don’t applaud too loudly. They’re still here. They can hear you. (Laughter.) And you can enjoy some cider and some cookies.
And you guys want to come with me? We’ve got some surprises in the back, and your parents will be here. We’ll try to bring them back in one piece. I can’t guarantee that they will be neat. (Laughter.) There is dye and food color — sorry. (Laughter.) All of it is washable!
All right, you guys ready to come and join me? You all, thank you all so much. Come to the White House. It’s really cool. Take care.
1:47 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 29, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 24, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving message
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-elect Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving message
Source: Transition2017, 11-24-16
President-elect Donald J. Trump asks everyone to join together under the shared resolve to Make America Great Again for all people.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 24, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 24, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Coming Together On Thanksgiving
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
WEEKLY ADDRESS: Coming Together On Thanksgiving
Source: WH, 11-24-16
Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
The White House
November 24, 2016
Hi, everybody. On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo, and Sunny – I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Like so many of you, we’ll spend the day with friends and family, turkey and touchdowns. We’ll give thanks for each other, and for all that God has given us. And we’ll reflect on what truly binds us as Americans.
That’s never been more important. As a country, we’ve just emerged from a noisy, passionate, and sometimes divisive campaign season. After all, elections are often where we emphasize what sets us apart. We face off in a contest of “us” versus “them.” We focus on the candidate we support instead of some of the ideals we share.
But a few short weeks later, Thanksgiving reminds us that no matter our differences, we are still one people, part of something bigger than ourselves. We are communities that move forward together. We are neighbors who look out for one another, especially those among us with the least. We are always, simply, Americans.
That’s why, through the fog of Civil War, President Lincoln saw what mattered most – the unalienable truths for which so many gave their lives, and which made possible “a new birth of freedom.” And so precisely when the fate of the Union hung in the balance, he boldly proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving, when the nation’s gifts “should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
Today, we continue to give thanks for those blessings, and to all who ensured that they would be our inheritance. We remember the determined patriots who landed at the edge of the world in search of freedom. We give thanks to the brave men and women who defend that freedom in every corner of the world. And we honor all people – from the First Americans to our newest arrivals – who continue to shape our nation’s story, enrich our heritage, and give meaning to our founding values, values we must never take for granted. That in America, we are bound not by any one race or religion, but rather an adherence to a common belief – that all of us are created equal. That we may think, worship, and speak, and love as we please. That the gift of democracy is ours, and ours alone, to nurture and protect.
Never doubt, that is what makes us American – not where we come from, what we look like, or what faith we practice, but the ideals to which we pledge our allegiance. It’s about our capacity to live up to the creed as old as our founding: “E Pluribus Unum” – that out of many, we are one. And as long as we continue to welcome the contributions of all people, as long as we stand up for each other, speak out for what is right, and stay true to these ideals – not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard – then no one can ever take away our liberty. Our best days will always be ahead. And we will keep building a future where all of our children know the promise of America.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 24, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 23, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Final Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey
Source: WH, 11-22-16
2:42 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: (Applause.) Thank you so much, everybody. Please have a seat. Have a seat.
For generations, Presidents have faithfully executed two great American traditions: issuing a proclamation that sets aside a Thursday in November for us to express gratitude, and granting pardons that reflect our beliefs in second chances. And this week, we do both. (Laughter.)
Of course, Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one. So for the past seven years, I’ve established another tradition: embarrassing my daughters with a “corny-copia” of dad jokes about turkeys. (Laughter.) This year, they had a scheduling conflict. (Laughter.) Actually, they just couldn’t take my jokes anymore. (Laughter.) They were fed up.
AUDIENCE: Oooooh —
THE PRESIDENT: Fortunately, I have by my side here today two of my nephews — Austin and Aaron Robinson — who, unlike Malia and Sasha, have not yet been turned cynical by Washington. (Laughter.) They still believe in bad puns. They still appreciate the grandeur of this occasion. They still have hope. (Laughter.)
Malia and Sasha, by the way, are thankful that this is my final presidential turkey pardon. What I haven’t told them yet is that we are going to do this every year from now on. (Laughter.) No cameras. Just us. Every year. No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey. (Laughter and applause.)
Good one. That was pretty funny. (Laughter.)
Thanksgiving is a chance — (laughter) — to gather with loved ones, reflect on our many blessings, and, after a long campaign season, finally turn our attention from polls to poultry. This year, we’re honored to be joined by two of the lucky ones, who were raised by the Domino family in Iowa: Tater and Tot.
Now, Tater is here in a backup role, just in case Tot can’t fulfill his duties. So he’s sort of like the Vice Turkey. We’re working on getting him a pair of aviator glasses. (Laughter.)
And it is my great privilege — well, it’s my privilege –actually, let’s just say it’s my job — (laughter) — to grant them clemency this afternoon. As I do, I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom — (laughter) — who met their fate with courage and sacrifice — and proved that they weren’t chicken. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, it’s not that bad. Now, come one. (Laughter.)
Of course, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Six straight years of job creation — the longest streak ever. Low unemployment. Wages are rising again. Inequality is narrowing. The housing market is healing. The stock market has nearly tripled. Our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. And our uninsured rate is at an all-time low, thanks to the 20 million more Americans, including millions of children, who finally know the security of health insurance. (Applause.) That’s worth gobbling about. (Laughter.)
Proud families across the country are finally complete now that marriage equality is the law of the land. And there are many families of servicemembers who had empty chairs at the table in recent years but who on this Thanksgiving can celebrate with our brave troops and veterans who we’ve welcomed home.
Thanksgiving is also a reminder of the source of our national strength — that out of many, we are one; that we’re bound not by any one race or religion, but rather by an adherence to a common creed, that all of us are created equal. And while accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important. We are a people that look out for one another and get each other’s backs. We keep moving forward, defined by values and ideals that have been a light to all humanity.
We have to see ourselves in each other because we’ve all got families we love, and we all have hopes for their better future. And we lose sight of that sometimes, and Thanksgiving is a good time for us to remember that. We have a lot more in common than divides us.
The holidays are also a time when it’s even more important to reach out to those who need a helping hand. I believe we’re judged by how we care for the poor and the vulnerable, the sick and the elderly, the immigrant, the refugee, everybody who’s trying to get a second chance. I believe that in order to truly live up to those ideals we have to continually fight discrimination in all its forms and always show the world that America is a generous and giving country.
We should also make sure everyone has something to eat on Thanksgiving — of course, except the turkeys, because they’re already stuffed. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE: Ooooh —
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) So, later today, the Obama family will participate in our traditional Thanksgiving service project. And when somebody at your table tells you that you’ve been hogging all the side dishes and you can’t have any more, I hope you respond with a creed that sums up the spirit of a hungry people: Yes, We Cran. (Laughter.) That was good. (Laughter.) You don’t think that’s funny? Look, I know there are some bad ones in here, but this is the last time I’m doing this, so we’re not leaving any room for leftovers. (Laughter.)
Let me just say — how am I doing? Good? Thumbs up?
Let me just say one last thing before I spare these turkeys’ lives. On this Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the American people for the trust that you’ve placed in me over these last eight years and the incredible kindness that you’ve shown my family. On behalf of Michelle, and my mother-in-law, and our girls, we want to thank you so very, very much.
And now, from the Rose Garden, Tater and Tot will go to their new home at Virginia Tech — which is admittedly a bit Hokie. (Laughter.) They’ll get to live out their natural lives at a new facility called Gobblers Rest, where students and veterinarians will care for them. And so let’s get on with the pardoning because it’s Wednesday afternoon and everyone knows that Thanksgiving traffic can put people in a “fowl” mood.
AUDIENCE: Ooooh —
THE PRESIDENT: Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Let’s go pardon these turkeys. (Applause.)
2:51 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 23, 2016
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
A Message from President-Elect Donald J. Trump
“The President-elect shares an update on the Presidential Transition, an outline of some of his policy plans for the first 100 days, and his day one executive actions.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 21, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 14, 2016: President Barack Obama’s first press conference since Donald Trump won election
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
President Obama’s first press conference of the Trump era
Source: WaPo, 11-14-16
OBAMA: Hello, everybody. In a couple hours, I’ll be departing on my final foreign trip as president and while we’re abroad I’ll have a chance to take a few of your questions but I figured why wait? I know there’s a lot of domestic issues that people are thinking about so I wanted to see if I could clear out some of the underbrush so that when we’re overseas and people are asking about foreign policy questions, people don’t feel obliged to tack on three other questions to them. Let me – I know you still will, yes.
That I’m aware, but I’m trying something out here. First of all, let me mention three brief topics. First of all, as I discussed with the president-elect on Thursday, my team stands ready to accelerate in the next steps that are required to ensure a smooth transition and we are going to be staying in touch as we travel. I remember what it was like when I came in eight years ago. It is a big challenge. This office is bigger than any one person and that’s why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. It’s not something that the constitution explicitly requires but it is one of those norms that are vital to a functioning democracy, similar to norms of civility and tolerance and a commitment to reason and facts and analysis.
It’s part of what makes this country work and as long as I’m president, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals. As I told my staff, we should be very proud that their work has already ensured that when we turn over the keys, the car’s in pretty good shape. We are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when I came in eight years ago. Jobs have been growing for 73 straight months, incomes are rising, poverty is falling, the uninsured rate is at the lowest level on record, carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth, and so my instructions to my team are that we run through the tape, we make sure that we finish what we started, that we don’t let up in these last couple of months because my goal is on January 21, America’s in the strongest position possible and hopefully there’s an opportunity for the next president to build on that.
Number two, our work has also helped to stabilize the global economy and because there is one president at a time, I’ll spend this week reinforcing America’s support for the approaches that we’ve taken to promote economic growth and global security on a range of issues. I look forward to my first visit in Greece and then in Germany I’ll visit with Chancellor Merkel who’s probably been my closest international partner these past eight years. I’ll also signal our solidarity with our closest allies and express our support for a strong, integrated, and united Europe.
It is essential to our national security and it’s essential to global stability and that’s why the trans-atlantic alliance and the NATO alliance have endured for decades under Democratic and Republican administrations. Finally, in Peru, I’ll meet with leaders of countries that have been the focus of our foreign policy through our rebalance in the Asia-Pacific. This is a time of great change in the world but America’s always been a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to peoples around the globe and that’s what it must continue to be.
Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours, she was an extraordinary journalist, she always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.
OBAMA: Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s desk, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect. And for whom she blazed a trail, as one half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. So Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.
So with that, I’m going to take some questions, and because Josh Earnest has some pull around here, he just happens to put at the top of the list, Colleen Nelson, of the Wall Street Journal, my understanding is, Colleen, that this is wrapping up your stint here and you are going to Kansas City. Josh just happens to be from Kansas City.
SO I didn’t know if there was any coincidence there, but we wish you the very best of luck in your new endeavor.
QUESTION: As it turns out it’s a really great place (inaudible).
OBAMA: There you go.
QUESTION: You’re about to embark on a foreign trip. What will you say to other world leaders about your successor? They may press opinions(?) assuming you have about Donald Trump. Should they be worried about the future of U.S. foreign policy. And separately, as Democrats scramble to regroup after a pretty shocking upset, what is your advice about where the party goes now and who should lead you party?
OBAMA: One of the great things about the United States is that when it comes to world affairs, the president obviously is the leader of the Executive Branch, the Commander-in-Chief, the spokesperson for the nation, but the influence and the work that we have is the result not just of the president, it is the result of countless interactions and arrangements and relationships between our military and other militaries, and our diplomats and other diplomats, the intelligence officers and development workers. And there is enormous continuity beneath the day-to-day news that makes us that indispensable nation when it comes to maintaining order and promoting prosperity around the world. That will continue. In my conversation with the president-elect he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Trans Atlantic Alliance. I think that’s one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren’t just good for Europe. They are good for the United States and they are vital for the world.
With respect to the Democratic Party. As I said in the Rose Garden right after the election, “When your team loses, everybody gets deflated. And it’s hard, and it’s challenging. And I think it’s a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection. I think it’s important for me not to be big-footing that conversation. I think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge – that’s part of the reason why term limits are a really useful thing.
The Democrats should not waiver on our core beliefs and principles. The belief that we should have an economy that works for everybody, not just a few. The belief that America at its best is inclusive and not exclusive. That we insist on the dignity and God- given potential and work of every child, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or what zip code they were born in. That we are committed to a world in which we keep America safe, but we recognize that our power doesn’t just flow from our extraordinary military but also flows from the strength in our ideals and our principles and our values.
So there are gonna be a core set of values that shouldn’t be up for debate. Should be our north star. But how we organize politically, I think is something that we should spend some time thinking about.
I believe that we have better ideas. But I also believe that good ideas don’t matter if people don’t hear them. And one of the issues the Democrats have to be clear on is the given population distribution across the country. We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that’s been a running thread in my career.
I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and BFW Hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There’s some counties maybe I won, that people didn’t expect, because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for.
And the challenge for a national party is how do you dig in there and create those kinds of structures so that people have a sense of what it is that you stand for. And that increasingly is difficult to do just through a national press strategy. It’s increasingly difficult to do because of the splintering of the press (ph). And so I think the discussions that have been taking place about, how do you build more grassroots organizing, how do you build state parties and local parties and school board elections you’re paying attention to, state rep races and city council races, that all, I think, will contribute to stronger outcomes in the future. And I’m optimistic that will happen.
For Democrats who are feeling completely discouraged, I’ve been trying to remind them, everybody remembers my Boston speech in 2004. They may not remember me showing up here in 2005 when John Kerry had lost a close election, Tom Daschle, the leader of the Senate, had been beaten in an upset. Ken Salazar and I were the only two Democrats that won nationally. Republicans controlled the Senate and the House, and two years later, Democrats were winning back Congress, and four years later I was President of the United States.
Things change pretty rapidly. But they don’t change inevitably. They change because you work for it. Nobody said Democracy’s supposed to be easy. It’s hard. And in a big country like this, it probably should be hard.
Mark Knoller (ph) —
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
OBAMA: Good to see you.
QUESTION: Thank you. Good to see you. Mr. President, what can you tell us about the learning curve on becoming president? Can you tell us how long it took you before you were fully at ease in the job, if that ever happened? And did you discuss this matter with the president elect, Trump?
OBAMA: About a week ago, I started feeling pretty good.
But no. Look, the — I think the learning curve always continues. This is a remarkable job. It is like no other job on earth. And it is a constant flow of information and challenges and issues. That is truer now than it has ever been, partly because of the nature of information and the interconnection between regions of the world. If you were president 50 years ago, the tragedy in Syria might not even penetrate what the American people were thinking about on a day to day basis. Today, they’re seeing vivid images of a child in the aftermath of a bombing.
There was a time when if you had a financial crisis in Southeast Asia somewhere, it had no impact on our markets. Today it does.
So the amount of information, the amount of incoming that any administration has to deal with today and respond to much more rapidly than ever before, that makes it different.
I was watching a documentary that during the Bay of Pigs crisis JFK had about two weeks before anybody reported on it. Imagine that. I think it’s fair to say that if something like that happens under a current president, they’ve got to figure out in about an hour what their response is.
So these are the kinds of points that I shared with the president-elect. It was a free-flowing and I think useful conversation. I hope it was. I tried to be as honest as I could about the things I think any president coming in needs to think about.
And probably the most important point that I made was that how you staff, particularly the chief of staff, the national security adviser, your White House counsel, how you set up a process in the system to surface information and generate options for a president, understanding that ultimately the president is going to be the final decision-maker. That that’s something that has to be attended to right away.
I have been blessed by having, and I admittedly am biased, some of the smartest, hardest-working, and good people in my administration that I think any president has ever had.
And as a consequence of that team, I have been able to make good decisions. And if you don’t have that around you, then you will get swamped. So I hope that he appreciated that advice.
What I also discussed was the fact that I had been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people. And that how he staffs, the first steps he takes, the first impressions he makes, the reset that can happen after an election, all those things are important and should be thought about.
And I think it’s important to give him the room and the space to do that. It takes time to put that together. But I emphasized to him that, look, in an election like this that was so hotly contest and so divided, gestures matter.
And how he reaches out to groups that may not have supported him, how he signals his interest in their issues or concerns, I think those are the kinds of things that can set a tone that will help move things forward once he has actually taken office.
QUESTION: How long did it take before you were at ease in the job?
OBAMA: Well, I didn’t really have time to worry about being at ease because, you will recall, we were losing about 800,000 jobs a month. So the good news is that in some ways my experience is atypical. It’s hard to find an analogous situation.
By the time FDR came into office, the Depression had been going on for a couple of years. We were in the midst of a free fall, financial system was locking up, the auto industry was about to go belly up, the housing market had entirely collapsed.
So one of the advantages that I had is that that I was too busy to worry about how acclimated I was feeling in the job. We just had to make a bunch of decisions.
In this situation, we are turning over a country that has challenges, has problems, and obviously there are people out there who are feeling deeply disaffected, otherwise we wouldn’t have had the results that we had in the election.
On the other hand, if you look at the basic indicators of where the country is right now, the unemployment rate is low as it has been in eight-nine years, incomes and wages have both gone up over the last year faster than they have in a decade or two. We’ve got historically low uninsured rates. The financial systems are stable. The stock market is hovering around its all-time high and 401(k)s have been restored. The housing market has recovered.
We have challenges internationally but our most immediate challenge with respect to ISIL, we are seeing significant progress in Iraq. And Mosul is now increasingly being retaken by Iraqi security forces, supported by us.
Our alliances are in strong shape. Our — the progress we’ve made with respect to carbon emissions has been greater than any country on Earth. And gas is 2 bucks a gallon.
So he will have time and space, I think, to make judicious decisions. The incoming administration doesn’t have to put out a huge number of fires. They may want to take the country in a significantly different direction. But they have got time to consider what exactly they want to achieve.
And that’s a testament to the tremendous work that my team has done over the last eight years. I am very proud of them for it.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
You said more than once that you did not believe that Donald trump would ever be elected president and that you thought he was unfit for the office.
Now that you’ve spent time with him (INAUDIBLE) for an hour and a half in the Oval Office, do you now think that President-Elect Trump is qualified to be president?
And if I can do a compound question, the other one, as you mentioned, staffing and tone.
What do you say to those Americans who may not doubt that there will be a peaceful transition but that are concerned about some of the policies and sentiments either expressed by President-Elect Trump himself or (INAUDIBLE) that may seem hostile to minorities and others?
Specifically I’m talking about the announcement that Steve Bannon, who is a proponent of the so-called alt-right movement, what many call the white nationalist movement, is going to have a prominent role in the White House under a President Trump as his key strategist and senior adviser.
What message does that send to the country and to the world?
OBAMA: Athena, without copping out, I think it’s fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making if I want to be consistent with the notion that we are going to try to facilitate a smooth transition.
But the people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th President of the United States. And it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies. And those who didn’t vote for him have to recognize that that’s how democracy works. That’s how this system operates.
When I won — and there were a number of people who didn’t like me and didn’t like what I stood for. And, you know, I think that whenever you have got an incoming president of the other side, particularly in a bitter election like this, it takes a while for people to reconcile themselves with that new reality.
Hopefully, it’s a reminder that elections matter and voting counts. And so, you know, I don’t know how many times we have to relearn this lesson because we ended up having 43 percent of the country not voting who were eligible to vote. But it makes a difference.
OBAMA: So given that President-Elect Trump is now trying to balance what he said in the campaign and the commitments he made to his supporters with working with those who disagreed with him and members of Congress and reaching out to constituencies that didn’t vote for him, I think it’s important for us to let him make his decisions.
And I think the American people will judge, over the course of the next couple of years, whether they like what they see and whether these are the kinds of policies and this is the direction that they want to see the country going. And my role is to make sure that when I hand off this White House that it is in the best possible shape and that I’ve been as helpful as I can to him in going forward and building on the progress that we’ve made.
And my advice, as I said to the president-elect when we had our discussions, was that campaigning is different from governing. I think he recognizes that. I think he’s sincere in wanting to be a successful president and moving this country forward and I don’t think any president ever comes in saying to himself “I want to figure out how to make people angry or alienate half the country.” I think he’s going to try as best he can to make sure that he delivers not only to the people who voted for him but for the people at large and the good thing is that there are going to be elections coming up so there’s a built-in incentive for him to try to do that.
But, you know, it’s only been six days and I think it’ll be important for him to have the room to staff up to figure out what his priorities are, to be able to distinguish between what he was campaigning on and what is practical, what he can actually achieve. You know, there are certain things that make for good sound bites but don’t always translate into good policy. And that’s something that he and his team I think will wrestle with in the same way that every president wrestles with. I did say to him, as I’ve said publicly, that because of the nature of the campaigns and the bitterness and ferocity of the campaigns that it’s really important to try to send some signals of unity and to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign.
And I think that’s something that he will – he will want to do but this is all happening real fast. He’s got commitments to supporters that helped to get him here and he’s going to have to balance those over the coming weeks and months and years. My hope is that those impulses ultimately win out but it’s a little too early to start making judgments on that.
QUESTION: You’d like qualifications (ph), has that changed after meeting with him?
OBAMA: You know, I think that he successfully mobilized a big chunk of the country to vote for him and he’s going to win. He has won. He’s going to be the next president and regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up and those – those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don’t match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick because reality has a way of asserting itself. And some of his gifts that obviously allowed him to execute one of the biggest political upsets in history, those are ones that hopefully he will put to good use on behalf of all the American people.
QUESTION: You’re off to Europe which is facing some of the same populist pressures we’ve seen work in this country. When you spoke at the U.N., you talked about the choices being made (ph) between immigration and building walls. What choice do you think the American people made last week and is there still a chance for what you called a course correction before Europeans make some of their choices?
OBAMA: I think the American people recognize that the world has shrunk. That it’s interconnected. That you’re not going to put that genie back in the bottle. The American people recognize that their careers or their kids’ careers are going to have to be more dynamic. That they might not be working at a single plant for 30 years. That they might have to change careers. They might have to get more education. They might have to retool or retrain. And I think the American people are game for that.
They want to make sure that the rules of the game are fair. And what that means is that if you look at surveys around Americans’ attitudes on trade, the majority of the American people still support trade. But they’re concerned about whether or not trade is fair, and whether we get the same access to other countries’ markets that they have with us. Is there just a race to the bottom when it comes to wages, and so forth.
Now, I made an argument, thus far unsuccessfully, that the trade deal we had organized, TPP, did exactly that. That it strengthened worker’s rights and environmental rights, leveled the playing field, and as a consequence, would be good for American workers and American businesses. But that’s a complex argument to make when people remember plants closing and jobs being offshore. So part of what I think this election reflected was people wanting that course correction that you described, and the message around stopping surges of immigration, not creating new trade deals that may be unfair. I think those were themes that played a prominent role in the campaign.
As we now shift to government, my argument is that we do need to make sure that we have an orderly, lawful immigration process, but that if it is orderly and lawful, immigration is good for our economy. It keeps this country young, it keeps it dynamic, we have entrepreneurs and strivers (ph) who come here and are willing to take risks, and that’s part of the reason why America historically has been successful. It’s part of the reason why our economy is stronger and better positioned than most of our other competitors, is because we’ve got a younger population that’s more dynamic when it comes to trade. I think when you’re governing, it will become increasingly apparent that if you were to just eliminate trade deals with Mexico, for example, well, you’ve got a global supply chain. The parts that are allowing auto plants that were about to shut down to now employ double shifts is because they’re bringing in some of those parts to assemble out of Mexico. And so it’s not as simple as it might have seemed.
OBAMA: And the key for us — when I say us, I mean Americans, but I think particularly for progressives, is to say, your concerns are real, your anxieties are real. Here’s how we fix it. Higher minimum wage. Stronger worker protection so workers have more leverage to get a bigger piece of the pie. Stronger financial regulations, not weaker ones. Yes to trade, but trade that ensures that these other countries that trade with us aren’t engaging in child labor, for example. Being attentive to inequality and not tone deaf to it. But offering prescriptions that are actually going to help folks in communities that feel forgotten. That’s going to be our most important strategy. And I think we can successfully do that.
People will still be looking to the United States. Our example will still carry great weight. And it continues to be my strong belief that the way we are going to make sure that everybody feels a part of this global economy is not by shutting ourselves off from each other, even if we could, but rather by working together more effectively than we have in the past.
QUESTION: Thanks, Mr. President. (INAUDIBLE) some of the harsh words you had about Mr. Trump, calling him temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief, did anything surprise you about President-Elect Trump when you met with him in your office?
And also I want to know, does anything concern you about a Trump presidency?
OBAMA: Well, we had a very cordial conversation and that didn’t surprise me, to some degree because I think that he is obviously a gregarious person. He’s somebody who I think likes to mix it up and to have a vigorous debate.
And you know, what’s clear is that he was able to tap into, yes, the anxieties but also the enthusiasm of his voters in a way that was impressive. And I said so to him because I think that to the extent that there were a lot of folks who missed the Trump phenomenon, I think that connection that he was able to make with his supporters, that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate. That’s powerful stuff.
I also think that he is coming to this office with fewer set hard-and-fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with. I don’t think he is ideological. I think ultimately is, he is pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction.
Do I have concerns?
Absolutely. Of course I have got concerns. You know, he and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But you know, the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat. It’s an oceanliner, as I discovered when I came into office. It took a lot of really hard work for us to make significant policy changes, even in our first two years, when we had larger majorities than Mr. Trump will enjoy when he comes into office.
And you know, one of the things I advised him to do was to make sure that, before he commits to certain courses of action, he has really dug in and thought through how various issues play themselves out.
I will use a obvious example, where we have a difference but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming year. And that’s the Affordable Care Act. You know, obviously this has been the Holy Grail for Republicans over the last 6-7 years, was we got to kill ObamaCare.
Now that has been taken as an article of faith, that this is terrible, it doesn’t work and we have to undo it.
OBAMA: But now that Republicans are in charge, they got to take a look and say, let’s see. We got 20 million people who have health insurance who didn’t have it before. Health care costs generally have gone up at a significantly slower rate since ObamaCare was passed than they did before, which has saved the federal Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars.
People who have health insurance are benefiting in all sorts of ways that they may not be aware of, everything from no longer having lifetime limits on the claims that they can make to seniors getting prescription drug discounts under Medicare to free mammograms.
Now it’s one thing to characterize this thing as not working when it’s just an abstraction. Now suddenly you are in charge and you are going to repeal it. OK, well, what happens to those 20 million people who have health insurance? Are you going to just kick them off and suddenly they don’t have health insurance?
In what ways are their lives better because of that? Are you going to repeal the provision that ensures that if you do have health insurance on your job and you lose your job or you change jobs or you start a small business that you are not discriminated against because you have got a preexisting condition? That’s really popular.
How are you going to replace it? Are you going to change the policy that kids can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26? How are you going to approach all these issues?
Now, my view is that if they can come up with something better that actually works and a year or two after they have replaced the Affordable Care Act with their own plan that 25 million people have health insurance and it’s cheaper and better and running smoothly, I will be the first one to say that’s great. Congratulations.
If, on the other hand, whatever they are proposing results in millions of people losing coverage and results in people who already have health insurance losing protections that were contained in the legislation, then we are going to have a problem.
And I think that’s not going to be unique to me. I think the American people will respond that way. So I think on a lot of issues what you’re going to see is now comes the hard part. Now is governance.
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We are going to be able to present to the incoming administration a country that is stronger. A federal government that is working better and more efficiently. A national security apparatus that is both more effective and truer to our values. Energy policies that are resulting in not just less pollution, but also more jobs.
And I think the president-elect rightly would expect that he is judged on whether we improve from that baseline and on those metrics or things get worse. And if things get worse, then the American people will figure that out pretty quick. And if things get better, then more power to him. And I will be the first to congratulate him.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you had talked specifically about his temperament. Do you still have any concern about his temperament?
OBAMA: As I said, because Athena (ph) asked the question, whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of magnifying and pointing out and hopefully then you correct for.
This may seem like a silly example, but I know myself well enough to know I can’t keep track of paper. I am not well-organized in that way. And so pretty quickly after I’m getting stacks of briefing books coming in every night, I say to myself, I have got to figure out a system because I have bad filing, sorting, and organizing habits.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 14, 2016
Political Transcripts November 13, 2016: President-Elect Donald Trump 60 Minutes Interview with Leslie Stahl
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-Elect Donald Trump 60 Minutes Interview with Leslie Stahl
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 13, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 10, 2016: President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan Press Conference
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan Press Conference
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 10, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 10, 2016: President Obama and President-elect Trump press conference after White House meeting
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
Remarks by President Obama and President-elect Trump After Meeting
Source: WH, 11-10-16
12:36 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump. It was wide-ranging. We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House. We talked about foreign policy. We talked about domestic policy. And as I said last night, my number-one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.
And I have been very encouraged by the, I think, interest in President-elect Trump’s wanting to work with my team around many of the issues that this great country faces. And I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face.
And in the meantime, Michelle has had a chance to greet the incoming First Lady. And we had an excellent conversation with her as well, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.
Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed — because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.
PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much, President Obama. This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and we were just going to get to know each other. We had never met each other. I have great respect. The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half. And it could have — as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.
We really — we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. I very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved.
So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.
12:40 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 10, 2016
Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 November 9, 2016: House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Post-Election Press Conference on Donald Trump’s Victory
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Post-Election Press Conference
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 9, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts September 24, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Source: WH, 9-24-16
11:55 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: James Baldwin once wrote, “For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.” For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.
Today, as so many generations have before, we gather on our National Mall to tell an essential part of our American story — one that has at times been overlooked — we come not just for today, but for all time.
President and Mrs. Bush; President Clinton; Vice President and Dr. Biden; Chief Justice Roberts; Secretary Skorton; Reverend Butts; distinguished guests: Thank you. Thank you for your leadership in making sure this tale is told. We’re here in part because of you and because of all those Americans — the Civil War vets, the Civil Rights foot soldiers, the champions of this effort on Capitol Hill — who, for more than a century, kept the dream of this museum alive.
That includes our leaders in Congress — Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi. It includes one of my heroes, John Lewis, who, as he has so often, took the torch from those who came before him and brought us past the finish line. It includes the philanthropists and benefactors and advisory members who have so generously given not only their money but their time. It includes the Americans who offered up all the family keepsakes tucked away in Grandma’s attic. And of course, it includes a man without whose vision and passion and persistence we would not be here today — Mr. Lonnie Bunch. (Applause.)
What we can see of this building — the towering glass, the artistry of the metalwork — is surely a sight to behold. But beyond the majesty of the building, what makes this occasion so special is the larger story it contains. Below us, this building reaches down 70 feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree on this Mall. And on its lowest level, after you walk past remnants of a slave ship, after you reflect on the immortal declaration that “all men are created equal,” you can see a block of stone. On top of this stone sits a historical marker, weathered by the ages. That marker reads: “General Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay spoke from this slave block…during the year 1830.”
I want you to think about this. Consider what this artifact tells us about history, about how it’s told, and about what can be cast aside. On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet — for a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as “history” with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.
And that block I think explains why this museum is so necessary. Because that same object, reframed, put in context, tells us so much more. As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country; who led armies into battle and waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power. But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.
And so this national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are. It helps us better understand the lives, yes, of the President, but also the slave; the industrialist, but also the porter; the keeper of the status quo, but also of the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo; the teacher or the cook, alongside the statesman. And by knowing this other story, we better understand ourselves and each other. It binds us together. It reaffirms that all of us are America — that African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story, it’s not the underside of the American story, it is central to the American story. That our glory derives not just from our most obvious triumphs, but how we’ve wrested triumph from tragedy, and how we’ve been able to remake ourselves, again and again and again, in accordance with our highest ideals.
I, too, am America.
The great historian John Hope Franklin, who helped to get this museum started, once said, “Good history is a good foundation for a better present and future.” He understood the best history doesn’t just sit behind a glass case; it helps us to understand what’s outside the case. The best history helps us recognize the mistakes that we’ve made and the dark corners of the human spirit that we need to guard against. And, yes, a clear-eyed view of history can make us uncomfortable, and shake us out of familiar narratives. But it is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect.
That’s the American story that this museum tells — one of suffering and delight; one of fear but also of hope; of wandering in the wilderness and then seeing out on the horizon a glimmer of the Promised Land.
It is in this embrace of truth, as best as we can know it, in the celebration of the entire American experience, where real patriotism lies. As President Bush just said, a great nation doesn’t shy from the truth. It strengthens us. It emboldens us. It should fortify us. It is an act of patriotism to understand where we’ve been. And this museum tells the story of so many patriots.
Yes, African Americans have felt the cold weight of shackles and the stinging lash of the field whip. But we’ve also dared to run north, and sing songs from Harriet Tubman’s hymnal. We’ve buttoned up our Union Blues to join the fight for our freedom. We’ve railed against injustice for decade upon decade — a lifetime of struggle, and progress, and enlightenment that we see etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty, leonine gaze.
Yes, this museum tells a story of people who felt the indignity, the small and large humiliations of a “whites only” sign, or wept at the side of Emmett Till’s coffin, or fell to their knees on shards of stained glass outside a church where four little girls died. But it also tells the story of the black youth and white youth sitting alongside each other, straight-backed, so full of dignity on those lunch counter stools; the story of a six-year-old Ruby Bridges, pigtails, fresh-pressed dress, walking that gauntlet to get to school; Tuskegee airmen soaring the skies not just to beat a dictator, but to reaffirm the promise of our democracy — (applause) — but remind us that all of us are created equal.
This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t merely coexist but inform each other; how men can proudly win the gold for their country but still insist on raising a black-gloved fist; how we can wear “I Can’t Breathe”
T-shirt and still grieve for fallen police officers. Here’s the America where the razor-sharp uniform of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul. (Laughter.) We have shown the world that we can float like butterflies and sting like bees; that we can rocket into space like Mae Jemison, steal home like Jackie, rock like Jimi, stir the pot like Richard Pryor; or we can be sick and tired of being sick and tired, like Fannie Lou Hamer, and still Rock Steady like Aretha Franklin. (Applause.)
We are large, Walt Whitman told us, containing multitudes. We are large, containing multitudes. Full of contradictions. That’s America. That’s what makes us grow. That’s what makes us extraordinary. And as is true for America, so is true for African American experience. We’re not a burden on America, or a stain on America, or an object of pity or charity for America. We’re America. (Applause.)
And that’s what this museum explains — the fact that our stories have shaped every corner of our culture. The struggles for freedom that took place made our Constitution a real and living document, tested and shaped and deepened and made more profound its meaning for all people. The story told here doesn’t just belong to black Americans; it belongs to all Americans — for the African-American experience has been shaped just as much by Europeans and Asians and Native Americans and Latinos. We have informed each other. We are polyglot, a stew.
Scripture promised that if we lift up the oppressed, then our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like the noonday. And the story contained in this museum makes those words prophecy. And that’s what this day is about. That’s what this museum is about. I, too, am America. It is a glorious story, the one that’s told here. It is complicated and it is messy and it is full of contradictions, as all great stories are, as Shakespeare is, as Scripture is. And it’s a story that perhaps needs to be told now more than ever.
A museum alone will not alleviate poverty in every inner city or every rural hamlet. It won’t eliminate gun violence from all our neighborhoods, or immediately ensure that justice is always colorblind. It won’t wipe away every instance of discrimination in a job interview or a sentencing hearing or folks trying to rent an apartment. Those things are up to us, the decisions and choices we make. It requires speaking out, and organizing, and voting, until our values are fully reflected in our laws and our policies and our communities.
But what this museum does show us is that in even the face of oppression, even in the face of unimaginable difficulty, America has moved forward. And so this museum provides context for the debates of our times. It illuminates them and gives us some sense of how they evolved, and perhaps keeps them in proportion. Perhaps it can help a white visitor understand the pain and anger of demonstrators in places like Tulsa and Charlotte. But it can also help black visitors appreciate the fact that not only is this younger generation carrying on traditions of the past but, within the white communities across this nation we see the sincerity of law enforcement officers and officials who, in fits and starts, are struggling to understand, and are trying to do the right thing.
It reminds us that routine discrimination and Jim Crow aren’t ancient history, it’s just a blink in the eye of history. It was just yesterday. And so we should not be surprised that not all the healing is done. We shouldn’t despair that it’s not all solved. And knowing the larger story should instead remind us of just how remarkable the changes that have taken place truly are — just in my lifetime — and thereby inspire us to further progress.
And so hopefully this museum can help us talk to each other. And more importantly, listen to each other. And most importantly, see each other. Black and white and Latino and Native American and Asian American — see how our stories are bound together. And bound together with women in America, and workers in America, and entrepreneurs in America, and LGBT Americans. And for young people who didn’t live through the struggles represented here, I hope you draw strength from the changes that have taken place. Come here and see the power of your own agency. See how young John Lewis was. These were children who transformed a nation in a blink of an eye. Young people, come here and see your ability to make your mark.
The very fact of this day does not prove that America is perfect, but it does validate the ideas of our founding, that this country born of change, this country born of revolution, this country of we, the people, this country can get better.
And that’s why we celebrate, mindful that our work is not yet done; mindful that we are but on a waystation on this common journey towards freedom. And how glorious it is that we enshrine it here, on some of our nation’s most hallowed ground — the same place where lives were once traded but also where hundreds of thousands of Americans, of all colors and creeds, once marched. How joyful it is that this story take its rightful place — alongside Jefferson who declared our independence, and Washington who made it real, and alongside Lincoln who saved our union, and the GIs who defended it; alongside a new monument to a King, gazing outward, summoning us toward that mountaintop. How righteous it is that with tell this story here.
For almost eight years, I have been blessed with the extraordinary honor of serving you in this office. (Applause.) Time and again, I’ve flown low over this mall on Marine One, often with Michelle and our daughters. And President Clinton, President Bush, they’ll tell you it is incredible sight. We pass right across the Washington Monument — it feels like you can reach out and touch it. And at night, if you turn the other way, you don’t just see the Lincoln Memorial, Old Abe is lit up and you can see him, his spirit glowing from that building. And we don’t have many trips left. But over the years, I’ve always been comforted as I’ve watched this museum rise from this earth into this remarkable tribute. Because I know that years from now, like all of you, Michelle and I will be able to come here to this museum, and not just bring our kids but hopefully our grandkids. I imagine holding a little hand of somebody and tell them the stories that are enshrined here.
And in the years that follow, they’ll be able to do the same. And then we’ll go to the Lincoln Memorial and we’ll take in the view atop the Washington Monument. And together, we’ll learn about ourselves, as Americans — our sufferings, our delights, and our triumphs. And we’ll walk away better for it, better because the better grasp of history. We’ll walk away that much more in love with this country, the only place on Earth where this story could have unfolded. (Applause.)
It is a monument, no less than the others on this Mall, to the deep and abiding love for this country, and the ideals upon which it is founded. For we, too, are America.
So enough talk. President Bush is timing me. (Laughter.) He had the over/under at 25. (Laughter.) Let us now open this museum to the world. Today, we have with us a family that reflects the arc of our progress: the Bonner family — four generations in all, starting with gorgeous seven-year-old Christine and going up to gorgeous 99-year-old Ruth. (Applause.)
Now, Ruth’s father, Elijah Odom, was born into servitude in Mississippi. He was born a slave. As a young boy, he ran, though, to his freedom. He lived through Reconstruction and he lived through Jim Crow. But he went on to farm, and graduate from medical school, and gave life to the beautiful family that we see today — with a spirit reflected in beautiful Christine, free and equal in the laws of her country and in the eyes of God.
So in a brief moment, their family will join us in ringing a bell from the First Baptist Church in Virginia — one of the oldest black churches in America, founded under a grove of trees in 1776. And the sound of this bell will be echoed by others in houses of worship and town squares all across this country — an echo of the ringing bells that signaled Emancipation more than a century and a half ago; the sound, and the anthem, of American freedom.
God bless you all. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 12:26 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 24, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts September 23, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Reception in Honor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at Reception in Honor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Source: WH, 9-23-16
4:51 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome, everybody. (Applause.) This is an exceptionally good-looking group. (Laughter.) And there are just so many friends here that it feels like one of our house parties. (Laughter.) But there’s no dancing this afternoon. We’re here just to acknowledge what an extraordinary achievement has been accomplished by Mr. Lonnie Bunch — (applause) — and everybody who helped make this day possible.
Now, I want to just talk about Lonnie for a second. When Lonnie first came here from Chicago to start work on this museum a decade ago, he could not even find somebody to give him a key to his office. (Laughter.) Nobody had heard of this museum. And now you cannot miss it — a breathtaking new building right in the heart of the National Mall. And that is what we call progress. It could not have been done without the persistence, the wisdom, the dedication, the savvy, the ability to make people feel guilty — (laughter) — the begging, the deal-making, and just the general street smarts of Lonnie and his entire team. So please give him a big round of applause for all the work that he has done. (Applause.)
But, of course, this is also about more than Lonnie. This is about people who, for more than a century, advocated and organized, and raised funds, and donated artifacts so that the story of the African American experience could take its rightful place in our national memory. It’s a story that is full of tragedy and setbacks, but also great joy and great victories. And it is a story that is not just part of the past, but it is alive and well today in every corner of America. And that’s certainly true today in this house — a house that was built by slaves.
Now, I can’t name everybody that is here, but I’m going to have to give you a little bit of a taste. This room is like a living museum of its own. Right now, Madame Tussauds would be very jealous. (Laughter.)
We’ve got icons of the entertainment industry like Quincy Jones — (applause) — and Dick Gregory and Phylicia Rashad. (Applause.) We’ve got the first black woman in space, Mae Jemison. (Applause.) And we have the woman who owns the universe, Oprah Winfrey. (Laughter and applause.) We’ve got those drum majors for justice, like John Lewis and Andrew Young and C.T. Vivian, and Jesse Jackson. (Applause.) And we’ve got the next generation of warriors for justice like Brittany Packnett and DeRay Mckesson. We’ve got personal heroes of mine like Harry Belafonte — (applause) — who still is the best-looking man in the room at 90-something years old. (Laughter.) I’m just telling the truth. (Laughter.)
So this is an extraordinary group. But the thing about this museum is that it’s more about — it’s more than just telling stories about the famous. It’s not just about the icons. There’s plenty of space for Harriet Tubman and Dr. King and Muhammed Ali. But what makes the museum so powerful and so visceral is that it’s the story of all of us — the folks whose names you never heard of, but whose contributions, day after day, decade after decade, combined to push us forward and the entire nation forward.
It’s the maids who decided, you know what, I’m tired of segregation and I’m going to walk for my freedom. It’s the porters who not only worked tirelessly to support their families, but ultimately helped bring about the organization that led to better working conditions for all Americans here in the United States. It’s about our moms and grandparents and uncles and aunts who just did the right thing and raised great families, despite assaults on their dignity on every single day.
You see it in the dignity of the artifacts that are in the museum — the dignity of an enslaved family, what it must have been like to try to live in that tiny cabin. Those slaves who dared to marry, even though it was illegal for them to do so. Folks who were forced to sit in the back of a train, but went about their business anyway, and tried to instill in their children as sense that this isn’t who we are, and there’s going to be more someday.
You see it in the men and the women who rushed to the warfronts to secure all of our freedom, understanding that when they came home they might not yet be free. The students who walked passed angry crowds the integrate our schools. The families huddling around the Bible to steel their faith for the challenges ahead. That quite, determined dignity and hope.
Everybody here has somebody in mind when we think of those kinds of folks — who couldn’t make it to this room, but whose stories are our stories, and whose stories are represented at this museum. It might be an ancestor who ran to freedom, or an aunt or uncle who pushed back against Jim Crow, or a friend who marched or sat in. Or it might be young people who were organizing against cynicism today.
But the point is that all of us cannot forget that the only reason that we’re standing here is because somebody, somewhere stood up for us. Stood up when it was risky. Stood up when it was not popular. And somehow, standing up together, managed to change the world.
You know, the timing of this is fascinating. (Applause.) Because in so many ways, it is the best of times, but in many ways these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forwards.
And so part of the reason that I am so happy the museum is opening this weekend is because it allows all of us as Americans to put our current circumstances in a historical context. My hope is that, as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less familiar with not only the history of the African American experience but also how recent some of these challenges have been, upon visiting the museum, may step back and say, I understand. I sympathize. I empathize. I can see why folks might feel angry and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change.
My hope is that black folks watching the same images on television, and then seeing the history represented at this museum, can say to themselves, the struggles we’re going through today are connected to the past, and yet, all that progress we’ve made tells me that I cannot and will not sink into despair, because if we join hands, and we do things right, if we maintain our dignity, and we continue to appeal to the better angels of this nation, progress will be made. (Applause.)
I was telling Michelle — many of you know I get 10 letters a day from constituents, and it’s a great way for me to keep a pulse on how folks other than the pundits on cable TV are thinking. (Laughter.) And I know it’s a representative group because sometimes people say, Mr. President, we just love you and we especially love Michelle. (Laughter.) And you’re doing such a great job and thank you. And then there are others who write and say, Mr. President, you’re an idiot. (Laughter.) And you’ve ruined this country. And so I know I’m getting a real sampling of American public opinion.
Last night, as I was reading through my letters, I’d say about half of them said, Mr. President, why are you always against police, and why aren’t you doing enough to deal with these rioters and the violence? And then the other half were some black folks saying, Mr. President, why aren’t you doing something about the police? And when are we actually going to get justice?
And I understand the nature of that argument because this is a dialogue we’ve been having for 400 years. And the fact of the matter is, is that one of the challenges we have in generating a constructive discussion about how to solve these problems is because what people see on television and what they hear on the radio is bereft of context and ignores history, and so people are just responding as if none of what’s represented in this museum ever happened. And that’s true for all of us, not just some of us.
And so when I imagine children — white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American — wandering through that museum, and sitting at that lunch counter, and imagining what it would be like to stand on that auction block, and then also looking at Shaq’s shoes — (laughter) — and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, my hope is, is that this complicated, difficult, sometimes harrowing, but I believe ultimately triumphant story will help us talk to each other, and, more important, listen to each other, and even more important, see each other, and recognize the common humanity that makes America what it is. (Applause.)
So that’s a lot of weight to put on one institution.
MRS. OBAMA: We can do it. (Laughter
THE PRESIDENT: But Michelle and I, having taken Michelle’s mom and our daughters to see it, we feel confident that it will not just meet expectations, but far exceed them. And it would not have happened without all of you. So you should be very, very proud.
Congratulations. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)
5:07 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 23, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts September 20, 2016: President Obama’s Address to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Address by President Obama to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Source: WH, 9-20-16
The United Nations
New York, New York
10:29 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President; Mr. Secretary General; fellow delegates; ladies and gentlemen: As I address this hall as President for the final time, let me recount the progress that we’ve made these last eight years.
From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth. We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy. We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly. Our assistance is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence. And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.
This is important work. It has made a real difference in the lives of our people. And it could not have happened had we not worked together. And yet, around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in the existing international order.
We see it in the headlines every day. Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict. Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities. Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down. We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information. Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims. Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.
This is the paradox that defines our world today. A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before, and yet our societies are filled with uncertainty, and unease, and strife. Despite enormous progress, as people lose trust in institutions, governing becomes more difficult and tensions between nations become more quick to surface.
And so I believe that at this moment we all face a choice. We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration. Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion.
I want to suggest to you today that we must go forward, and not backward. I believe that as imperfect as they are, the principles of open markets and accountable governance, of democracy and human rights and international law that we have forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century. I make this argument not based on theory or ideology, but on facts — facts that all too often, we forget in the immediacy of current events.
Here’s the most important fact: The integration of our global economy has made life better for billions of men, women and children. Over the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut from nearly 40 percent of humanity to under 10 percent. That’s unprecedented. And it’s not an abstraction. It means children have enough to eat; mothers don’t die in childbirth.
Meanwhile, cracking the genetic code promises to cure diseases that have plagued us for centuries. The Internet can deliver the entirety of human knowledge to a young girl in a remote village on a single hand-held device. In medicine and in manufacturing, in education and communications, we’re experiencing a transformation of how human beings live on a scale that recalls the revolutions in agriculture and industry. And as a result, a person born today is more likely to be healthy, to live longer, and to have access to opportunity than at any time in human history.
Moreover, the collapse of colonialism and communism has allowed more people than ever before to live with the freedom to choose their leaders. Despite the real and troubling areas where freedom appears in retreat, the fact remains that the number of democracies around the world has nearly doubled in the last 25 years.
In remote corners of the world, citizens are demanding respect for the dignity of all people no matter their gender, or race, or religion, or disability, or sexual orientation, and those who deny others dignity are subject to public reproach. An explosion of social media has given ordinary people more ways to express themselves, and has raised people’s expectations for those of us in power. Indeed, our international order has been so successful that we take it as a given that great powers no longer fight world wars; that the end of the Cold War lifted the shadow of nuclear Armageddon; that the battlefields of Europe have been replaced by peaceful union; that China and India remain on a path of remarkable growth.
I say all this not to whitewash the challenges we face, or to suggest complacency. Rather, I believe that we need to acknowledge these achievements in order to summon the confidence to carry this progress forward and to make sure that we do not abandon those very things that have delivered this progress.
In order to move forward, though, we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction. As too often, those trumpeting the benefits of globalization have ignored inequality within and among nations; have ignored the enduring appeal of ethnic and sectarian identities; have left international institutions ill-equipped, underfunded, under-resourced, in order to handle transnational challenges.
And as these real problems have been neglected, alternative visions of the world have pressed forward both in the wealthiest countries and in the poorest: Religious fundamentalism; the politics of ethnicity, or tribe, or sect; aggressive nationalism; a crude populism — sometimes from the far left, but more often from the far right — which seeks to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age free of outside contamination.
We cannot dismiss these visions. They are powerful. They reflect dissatisfaction among too many of our citizens. I do not believe those visions can deliver security or prosperity over the long term, but I do believe that these visions fail to recognize, at a very basic level, our common humanity. Moreover, I believe that the acceleration of travel and technology and telecommunications — together with a global economy that depends on a global supply chain — makes it self-defeating ultimately for those who seek to reverse this progress. Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.
So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration. Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared, and that the disruptions — economic, political, and cultural — that are caused by integration are squarely addressed. This is not the place for a detailed policy blueprint, but let me offer in broad strokes those areas where I believe we must do better together.
It starts with making the global economy work better for all people and not just for those at the top. While open markets, capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, globalization combined with rapid progress and technology has also weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage. In advanced economies like my own, unions have been undermined, and many manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Often, those who benefit most from globalization have used their political power to further undermine the position of workers.
In developing countries, labor organizations have often been suppressed, and the growth of the middle class has been held back by corruption and underinvestment. Mercantilist policies pursued by governments with export-driven models threaten to undermine the consensus that underpins global trade. And meanwhile, global capital is too often unaccountable — nearly $8 trillion stashed away in tax havens, a shadow banking system that grows beyond the reach of effective oversight.
A world in which one percent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 percent will never be stable. I understand that the gaps between rich and poor are not new, but just as the child in a slum today can see the skyscraper nearby, technology now allows any person with a smartphone to see how the most privileged among us live and the contrast between their own lives and others. Expectations rise, then, faster than governments can deliver, and a pervasive sense of injustice undermine people’s faith in the system.
So how do we fix this imbalance? We cannot unwind integration any more than we can stuff technology back into a box. Nor can we look to failed models of the past. If we start resorting to trade wars, market distorting subsidies, beggar thy neighbor policies, an overreliance on natural resources instead of innovation — these approaches will make us poorer, collectively, and they are more like to lead to conflict. And the stark contrast between, say, the success of the Republic of Korea and the wasteland of North Korea shows that central, planned control of the economy is a dead end.
But I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success. It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage. It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business. It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.
These are the policies that I’ve pursued here in the United States, and with clear results. American businesses have created now 15 million new jobs. After the recession, the top one percent of Americans were capturing more than 90 percent of income growth. But today, that’s down to about half. Last year, poverty in this country fell at the fastest rate in nearly 50 years. And with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue.
So just as I’ve pursued these measures here at home, so has the United States worked with many nations to curb the excesses of capitalism — not to punish wealth, but to prevent repeated crises that can destroy it. That’s why we’ve worked with other nations to create higher and clearer standards for banking and taxation — because a society that asks less of oligarchs than ordinary citizens will rot from within. That’s why we’ve pushed for transparency and cooperation in rooting out corruption, and tracking illicit dollars, because markets create more jobs when they’re fueled by hard work, and not the capacity to extort a bribe. That’s why we’ve worked to reach trade agreements that raise labor standards and raise environmental standards, as we’ve done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so that the benefits are more broadly shared.
And just as we benefit by combatting inequality within our countries, I believe advanced economies still need to do more to close the gap between rich and poor nations around the globe. This is difficult politically. It’s difficult to spend on foreign assistance. But I do not believe this is charity. For the small fraction of what we spent at war in Iraq we could support institutions so that fragile states don’t collapse in the first place, and invest in emerging economies that become markets for our goods. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
And that’s why we need to follow through on our efforts to combat climate change. If we don’t act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair. The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition. And there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force, and helping poorer countries leapfrog destructive forms of energy.
So, for the wealthiest countries, a Green Climate Fund should only be the beginning. We need to invest in research and provide market incentives to develop new technologies, and then make these technologies accessible and affordable for poorer countries. And only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.
So we need new models for the global marketplace, models that are inclusive and sustainable. And in the same way, we need models of governance that are inclusive and accountable to ordinary people.
I recognize not every country in this hall is going to follow the same model of governance. I do not think that America can — or should — impose our system of government on other countries. But there appears to be growing contest between authoritarianism and liberalism right now. And I want everybody to understand, I am not neutral in that contest. I believe in a liberal political order — an order built not just through elections and representative government, but also through respect for human rights and civil society, and independent judiciaries and the rule of law.
I know that some countries, which now recognize the power of free markets, still reject the model of free societies. And perhaps those of us who have been promoting democracy feel somewhat discouraged since the end of the Cold War, because we’ve learned that liberal democracy will not just wash across the globe in a single wave. It turns out building accountable institutions is hard work — the work of generations. The gains are often fragile. Sometimes we take one step forward and then two steps back. In countries held together by borders drawn by colonial powers, with ethnic enclaves and tribal divisions, politics and elections can sometimes appear to be a zero-sum game. And so, given the difficulty in forging true democracy in the face of these pressures, it’s no surprise that some argue the future favors the strongman, a top-down model, rather than strong, democratic institutions.
But I believe this thinking is wrong. I believe the road of true democracy remains the better path. I believe that in the 21st century, economies can only grow to a certain point until they need to open up — because entrepreneurs need to access information in order to invent; young people need a global education in order to thrive; independent media needs to check the abuses of power. Without this evolution, ultimately expectations of people will not be met; suppression and stagnation will set in. And history shows that strongmen are then left with two paths — permanent crackdown, which sparks strife at home, or scapegoating enemies abroad, which can lead to war.
Now, I will admit, my belief that governments serve the individual, and not the other way around, is shaped by America’s story. Our nation began with a promise of freedom that applied only to the few. But because of our democratic Constitution, because of our Bill of Rights, because of our ideals, ordinary people were able to organize, and march, and protest, and ultimately, those ideals won out — opened doors for women and minorities and workers in ways that made our economy more productive and turned our diversity into a strength; that gave innovators the chance to transform every area of human endeavor; that made it possible for someone like me to be elected President of the United States.
So, yes, my views are shaped by the specific experiences of America, but I do not think this story is unique to America. Look at the transformation that’s taken place in countries as different as Japan and Chile, Indonesia, Botswana. The countries that have succeeded are ones in which people feel they have a stake.
In Europe, the progress of those countries in the former Soviet bloc that embraced democracy stand in clear contrast to those that did not. After all, the people of Ukraine did not take to the streets because of some plot imposed from abroad. They took to the streets because their leadership was for sale and they had no recourse. They demanded change because they saw life get better for people in the Baltics and in Poland, societies that were more liberal, and democratic, and open than their own.
So those of us who believe in democracy, we need to speak out forcefully, because both the facts and history, I believe, are on our side. That doesn’t mean democracies are without flaws. It does mean that the cure for what ails our democracies is greater engagement by our citizens — not less.
Yes, in America, there is too much money in politics; too much entrenched partisanship; too little participation by citizens, in part because of a patchwork of laws that makes it harder to vote. In Europe, a well-intentioned Brussels often became too isolated from the normal push and pull of national politics. Too often, in capitals, decision-makers have forgotten that democracy needs to be driven by civic engagement from the bottom up, not governance by experts from the top down. And so these are real problems, and as leaders of democratic governments make the case for democracy abroad, we better strive harder to set a better example at home.
Moreover, every country will organize its government informed by centuries of history, and the circumstances of geography, and the deeply held beliefs of its people. So I recognize a traditional society may value unity and cohesion more than a diverse country like my own, which was founded upon what, at the time, was a radical idea — the idea of the liberty of individual human beings endowed with certain God-given rights. But that does not mean that ordinary people in Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East somehow prefer arbitrary rule that denies them a voice in the decisions that can shape their lives. I believe that spirit is universal. And if any of you doubt the universality of that desire, listen to the voices of young people everywhere who call out for freedom, and dignity, and the opportunity to control their own lives.
This leads me to the third thing we need to do: We must reject any forms of fundamentalism, or racism, or a belief in ethnic superiority that makes our traditional identities irreconcilable with modernity. Instead we need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect of all human beings.
It’s a truism that global integration has led to a collision of cultures; trade, migration, the Internet, all these things can challenge and unsettle our most cherished identities. We see liberal societies express opposition when women choose to cover themselves. We see protests responding to Western newspaper cartoons that caricature the Prophet Muhammad. In a world that left the age of empire behind, we see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force. Asian powers debate competing claims of history. And in Europe and the United States, you see people wrestle with concerns about immigration and changing demographics, and suggesting that somehow people who look different are corrupting the character of our countries.
Now, there’s no easy answer for resolving all these social forces, and we must respect the meaning that people draw from their own traditions — from their religion, from their ethnicity, from their sense of nationhood. But I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanize or dominate another group. If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith, if we jail or beat people who are gay, if our traditions lead us to prevent girls from going to school, if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilization will fray. The world is too small, we are too packed together, for us to be able to resort to those old ways of thinking.
We see this mindset in too many parts of the Middle East. There, so much of the collapse in order has been fueled because leaders sought legitimacy not because of policies or programs but by resorting to persecuting political opposition, or demonizing other religious sects, by narrowing the public space to the mosque, where in too many places perversions of a great faith were tolerated. These forces built up for years, and are now at work helping to fuel both Syria’s tragic civil war and the mindless, medieval menace of ISIL.
The mindset of sectarianism, and extremism, and bloodletting, and retribution that has been taking place will not be quickly reversed. And if we are honest, we understand that no external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long. But I do believe we have to be honest about the nature of these conflicts, and our international community must continue to work with those who seek to build rather than to destroy.
And there is a military component to that. It means being united and relentless in destroying networks like ISIL, which show no respect for human life. But it also means that in a place like Syria, where there’s no ultimate military victory to be won, we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of diplomacy that aims to stop the violence, and deliver aid to those in need, and support those who pursue a political settlement and can see those who are not like themselves as worthy of dignity and respect.
Across the region’s conflicts, we have to insist that all parties recognize a common humanity and that nations end proxy wars that fuel disorder. Because until basic questions are answered about how communities co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn, countless human beings will suffer — most of all in that region — but extremism will continue to be exported overseas. And the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall and prevent it from affecting our own societies.
And what is true in the Middle East is true for all of us. Surely, religious traditions can be honored and upheld while teaching young people science and math, rather than intolerance. Surely, we can sustain our unique traditions while giving women their full and rightful role in the politics and economics of a nation. Surely, we can rally our nations to solidarity while recognizing equal treatment for all communities — whether it’s a religious minority in Myanmar, or an ethnic minority in Burundi, or a racial minority right here in the United States. And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land. We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.
And this leads me to the fourth and final thing we need to do, and that is sustain our commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights and responsibilities of nations.
As President of the United States, I know that for most of human history, power has not been unipolar. The end of the Cold War may have led too many to forget this truth. I’ve noticed as President that at times, both America’s adversaries and some of our allies believe that all problems were either caused by Washington or could be solved by Washington — and perhaps too many in Washington believed that as well. (Laughter.) But I believe America has been a rare superpower in human history insofar as it has been willing to think beyond narrow self-interest; that while we’ve made our share of mistakes over these last 25 years — and I’ve acknowledged some — we have strived, sometimes at great sacrifice, to align better our actions with our ideals. And as a consequence, I believe we have been a force for good.
We have secured allies. We’ve acted to protect the vulnerable. We supported human rights and welcomed scrutiny of our own actions. We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions. When we’ve made mistakes, we’ve tried to acknowledge them. We have worked to roll back poverty and hunger and disease beyond our borders, not just within our borders.
I’m proud of that. But I also know that we can’t do this alone. And I believe that if we’re to meet the challenges of this century, we are all going to have to do more to build up international capacity. We cannot escape the prospect of nuclear war unless we all commit to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and pursuing a world without them.
When Iran agrees to accept constraints on its nuclear program that enhances global security and enhances Iran’s ability to work with other nations. On the other hand, when North Korea tests a bomb that endangers all of us. And any country that breaks this basic bargain must face consequences. And those nations with these weapons, like the United States, have a unique responsibility to pursue the path of reducing our stockpiles, and reaffirming basic norms like the commitment to never test them again.
We can’t combat a disease like Zika that recognizes no borders — mosquitos don’t respect walls — unless we make permanent the same urgency that we brought to bear against Ebola — by strengthening our own systems of public health, by investing in cures and rolling back the root causes of disease, and helping poorer countries develop a public health infrastructure.
We can only eliminate extreme poverty if the sustainable development goals that we have set are more than words on paper. Human ingenuity now gives us the capacity to feed the hungry and give all of our children — including our girls — the education that is the foundation for opportunity in our world. But we have to put our money where our mouths are.
And we can only realize the promise of this institution’s founding — to replace the ravages of war with cooperation — if powerful nations like my own accept constraints. Sometimes I’m criticized in my own country for professing a belief in international norms and multilateral institutions. But I am convinced that in the long run, giving up some freedom of action — not giving up our ability to protect ourselves or pursue our core interests, but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term — enhances our security. And I think that’s not just true for us.
If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may be popular at home, it may fuel nationalist fervor for a time, but over time it is also going to diminish its stature and make its borders less secure. In the South China Sea, a peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and reefs.
We are all stakeholders in this international system, and it calls upon all of us to invest in the success of institutions to which we belong. And the good news is, is that many nations have shown what kind of progress is possible when we make those commitments. Consider what we’ve accomplished here over the past few years.
Together, we mobilized some 50,000 additional troops for U.N. peacekeeping, making them nimble, better equipped, better prepared to deal with emergencies. Together, we established an Open Government Partnership so that, increasingly, transparency empowers more and more people around the globe. And together, now, we have to open our hearts and do more to help refugees who are desperate for a home.
We should all welcome the pledges of increased assistance that have been made at this General Assembly gathering. I’ll be discussing that more this afternoon. But we have to follow through, even when the politics are hard. Because in the eyes of innocent men and women and children who, through no fault of their own, have had to flee everything that they know, everything that they love, we have to have the empathy to see ourselves. We have to imagine what it would be like for our family, for our children, if the unspeakable happened to us. And we should all understand that, ultimately, our world will be more secure if we are prepared to help those in need and the nations who are carrying the largest burden with respect to accommodating these refugees.
There are a lot of nations right now that are doing the right thing. But many nations — particularly those blessed with wealth and the benefits of geography — that can do more to offer a hand, even if they also insist that refugees who come to our countries have to do more to adapt to the customs and conventions of the communities that are now providing them a home.
Let me conclude by saying that I recognize history tells a different story than the one that I’ve talked about here today. There’s a much darker and more cynical view of history that we can adopt. Human beings are too often motivated by greed and by power. Big countries for most of history have pushed smaller ones around. Tribes and ethnic groups and nation states have very often found it most convenient to define themselves by what they hate and not just those ideas that bind them together.
Time and again, human beings have believed that they finally arrived at a period of enlightenment only to repeat, then, cycles of conflict and suffering. Perhaps that’s our fate. We have to remember that the choices of individual human beings led to repeated world war. But we also have to remember that the choices of individual human beings created a United Nations, so that a war like that would never happen again. Each of us as leaders, each nation can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best. For we have shown that we can choose a better history.
Sitting in a prison cell, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that, “Human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God.” And during the course of these eight years, as I’ve traveled to many of your nations, I have seen that spirit in our young people, who are more educated and more tolerant, and more inclusive and more diverse, and more creative than our generation; who are more empathetic and compassionate towards their fellow human beings than previous generations. And, yes, some of that comes with the idealism of youth. But it also comes with young people’s access to information about other peoples and places — an understanding unique in human history that their future is bound with the fates of other human beings on the other side of the world.
I think of the thousands of health care workers from around the world who volunteered to fight Ebola. I remember the young entrepreneurs I met who are now starting new businesses in Cuba, the parliamentarians who used to be just a few years ago political prisoners in Myanmar. I think of the girls who have braved taunts or violence just to go to school in Afghanistan, and the university students who started programs online to reject the extremism of organizations like ISIL. I draw strength from the young Americans — entrepreneurs, activists, soldiers, new citizens — who are remaking our nation once again, who are unconstrained by old habits and old conventions, and unencumbered by what is, but are instead ready to seize what ought to be.
My own family is a made up of the flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world — just as America has been built by immigrants from every shore. And in my own life, in this country, and as President, I have learned that our identities do not have to be defined by putting someone else down, but can be enhanced by lifting somebody else up. They don’t have to be defined in opposition to others, but rather by a belief in liberty and equality and justice and fairness.
And the embrace of these principles as universal doesn’t weaken my particular pride, my particular love for America — it strengthens it. My belief that these ideals apply everywhere doesn’t lessen my commitment to help those who look like me, or pray as I do, or pledge allegiance to my flag. But my faith in those principles does force me to expand my moral imagination and to recognize that I can best serve my own people, I can best look after my own daughters, by making sure that my actions seek what is right for all people and all children, and your daughters and your sons.
This is what I believe: that all of us can be co-workers with God. And our leadership, and our governments, and this United Nations should reflect this irreducible truth.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
11:17 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 20, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts September 11, 2016: President Obama’s Remarks at the 9/11 Memorial Observance Ceremony
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by President Obama at the 9/11 Memorial Observance Ceremony
Source: WH, 9-11-16
The Pentagon – Arlington, Virginia
9:43 A.M. EDT
Good morning. Scripture tells us, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you…write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Secretary Carter, Chairman Dunford, outstanding members of our Armed Forces, and most of all, survivors of that September day and the families of those we lost — it is a great honor, once again, to be with you on this day, a day that I know is still difficult, but which reveals the love and faithfulness in your hearts and in the heart of our nation.
We remember, and we will never forget, the nearly 3,000 beautiful lives taken from us so cruelly — including 184 men, women and children here, the youngest just three years old. We honor the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way to save people they never knew. We come together in prayer and in gratitude for the strength that has fortified us across these 15 years. And we renew the love and the faith that binds us together as one American family.
Fifteen years may seem like a long time, but for the families who lost a piece of their heart that day, I imagine it can seem like just yesterday. Perhaps it’s the memory of a last kiss given to a spouse, or the last goodbye to a mother or father, a sister or a brother. We wonder how their lives might have unfolded, how their dreams might have taken shape. And I am mindful that no words we offer, or deeds we do, can ever truly erase the pain of their absence.
And yet, you — the survivors and families of 9/11 — your “steadfast love and faithfulness” has been an inspiration to me and to our entire country. Even as you’ve mourned, you’ve summoned the strength to carry on. In the names of those you’ve lost, you’ve started scholarships and volunteered in your communities, and done your best to be a good neighbor and a good friend and a good citizen. And in your grief and grace, you have reminded us that, together, there’s nothing we Americans cannot overcome.
The question before us, as always, is: How do we preserve the legacy of those we lost? How do we live up to their example? And how do we keep their spirit alive in our own hearts?
Well, we have seen the answer in a generation of Americans — our men and women in uniform, diplomats, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals — all who have stepped forward to serve and who have risked and given their lives to help keep us safe. Thanks to their extraordinary service, we’ve dealt devastating blows to al Qaeda.
We’ve delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. We’ve strengthened our homeland security. We’ve prevented attacks. We’ve saved lives. We resolve to continue doing everything in our power to protect this country that we love. And today, we once again pay tribute to these patriots, both military and civilian, who serve in our name, including those far away from home in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Perhaps most of all, we stay true to the spirit of this day by defending not only our country, but also our ideals. Fifteen years into this fight, the threat has evolved. With our stronger defenses, terrorists often attempt attacks on a smaller, but still deadly, scale. Hateful ideologies urge people in their own country to commit unspeakable violence. We’ve mourned the loss of innocents from Boston to San Bernardino to Orlando.
Groups like al Qaeda, like ISIL, know that we will never be able — they will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America. So, instead, they’ve tried to terrorize in the hopes that they can stoke enough fear that we turn on each other and that we change who we are or how we live. And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum. Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths. This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.
Across our country today, Americans are coming together in service and remembrance. We run our fingers over the names in memorial benches here at the Pentagon. We walk the hallowed grounds of a Pennsylvania field. We look up at a gleaming tower that pierces the New York City skyline. But in the end, the most enduring memorial to those we lost is ensuring the America that we continue to be — that we stay true to ourselves, that we stay true to what’s best in us, that we do not let others divide us.
As I mark this solemn day with you for the last time as President, I think of Americans whose stories I’ve been humbled to know these past eight years — Americans who, I believe, embody the true spirit of 9/11.
It’s the courage of Welles Crowther, just 24 years old, in the South tower — the man in the red bandana who spent his final moments helping strangers to safety before the towers fell. It’s the resilience of the firehouse on Eighth Avenue — patriots who lost more than a dozen men, but who still suit up every day as the “Pride of Midtown.” It’s the love of a daughter — Payton Wall of New Jersey — whose father, in his last moments on the phone from the towers, told her, “I will always be watching over you.”
It’s the resolve of those Navy SEALS who made sure justice was finally done, who served as we must live as a nation — getting each other’s backs, looking out for each other, united, one mission, one team. It’s the ultimate sacrifice of men and women who rest for eternity not far from here, in gentle green hills in perfect formation — Americans who gave their lives in faraway places so that we can be here today, strong and free and proud. It’s all of us — every American who gets up each day, and lives our lives, carries on. Because as Americans, we do not give in to fear. We will preserve our freedoms and the way of life that makes us a beacon to the world.
“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you…write them on the tablet of your heart.” And how we conduct ourselves as individuals and as a nation, we have the opportunity each and every day to live up to the sacrifice of those heroes that we lost. May God bless the memory of the loved ones here and across the country. They remain in our hearts today. May He watch over these faithful families and all who protect us. And may God forever bless the United States of America.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 11, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts September 2, 2016: FBI report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
FBI report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server
Source: FBI, 9-2-16
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 2, 2016
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
On Friday, July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from seven staffers of the Democratic National Committee: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finance Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails are from January to May 25, 2016.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 22, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts July 12, 2016: Former President George W. Bush’s Speech at the Dallas Shooting Memorial Service
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
George W. Bush’s Speech at the Dallas Shooting Memorial Service
Source: Time, 7-12-16
Thank you all. Thank you, Senator. I, too, am really pleased that President Obama and Mrs. Obama have come down to Dallas. I also want to welcome vice president, Mrs. Biden, Mr. Mayor, Chief Brown, elected officials, members of the law enforcement community. Today, the nation grieves, but those of us who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family. Laura and I see members of law enforcement every day. We count them as our friends. And we know, like for every other American, that their courage is our protection and shield.
We’re proud [of] the men we mourn and the community that has rallied to honor them and support the wounded. Our mayor, and police chief and our police departments have been mighty inspirations for the rest of the nation.
These slain officers were the best among us. Lorne Ahrens, beloved husband to detective Katrina Ahrens and father of two. Michael Krol, caring son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend. Michael Smith, U.S. Army veteran, devoted husband and father of two.
Brent Thompson, Marine Corps vet, recently married. Patrick Zamarippa, U.S. Navy Reserve combat veteran, proud father and loyal Texas Rangers fan.
With their deaths, we have lost so much. We are grief stricken, heartbroken and forever grateful. Every officer has accepted a calling that sets them apart.
Most of us imagine if the moment called for, that we would risk our lives to protect a spouse or a child. Those wearing the uniform assume that risk for the safety of strangers. They and their families share the unspoken knowledge that each new day can bring new dangers.
But none of us were prepared, or could be prepared, for an ambush by hatred and malice. The shock of this evil still has not faded. At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into de-humanization.
Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this is…
And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values.
We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.
At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.
And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.
At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.
At our best, we know we have one country, one future, one destiny. We do not want the unity of grief, nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.
We know that the kind of just, humane country we want to build, that we have seen in our best dreams, is made possible when men and women in uniform stand guard. At their best, when they’re trained and trusted and accountable, they free us from fear.
The Apostle Paul said, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of strength and love and self-control.” Those are the best responses to fear in the life of our country and they’re the code of the peace officer.
Today, all of us feel a sense of loss, but not equally. I’d like to conclude with the word of the families, the spouses, and especially the children of the fallen. Your loved one’s time with you was too short. They did not get a chance to properly say goodbye. But they went where duty called. They defended us, even to the end. They finished well. We will not forget what they did for us.
Your loss is unfair. We cannot explain it. We can stand beside you and share your grief. And we can pray that God will comfort you with a hope deeper than sorrow and stronger than death.
May God bless you.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 12, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts July 12, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Memorial Service for Fallen Dallas Police Officers
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at Memorial Service for Fallen Dallas Police Officers
Source: WH, 7-12-16
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
1:46 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President and Mrs. Bush; my friend, the Vice President, and Dr. Biden; Mayor Rawlings; Chief Spiller; clergy; members of Congress; Chief Brown — I’m so glad I met Michelle first, because she loves Stevie Wonder — (laughter and applause) — but most of all, to the families and friends and colleagues and fellow officers:
Scripture tells us that in our sufferings there is glory, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Sometimes the truths of these words are hard to see. Right now, those words test us. Because the people of Dallas, people across the country, are suffering.
We’re here to honor the memory, and mourn the loss, of five fellow Americans — to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try and find some meaning amidst our sorrow.
For the men and women who protect and serve the people of Dallas, last Thursday began like any other day. Like most Americans each day, you get up, probably have too quick a breakfast, kiss your family goodbye, and you head to work. But your work, and the work of police officers across the country, is like no other. For the moment you put on that uniform, you have answered a call that at any moment, even in the briefest interaction, may put your life in harm’s way.
Lorne Ahrens, he answered that call. So did his wife, Katrina — not only because she was the spouse of a police officer, but because she’s a detective on the force. They have two kids. And Lorne took them fishing, and used to proudly go to their school in uniform. And the night before he died, he bought dinner for a homeless man. And the next night, Katrina had to tell their children that their dad was gone. “They don’t get it yet,” their grandma said. “They don’t know what to do quite yet.”
Michael Krol answered that call. His mother said, “He knew the dangers of the job, but he never shied away from his duty.” He came a thousand miles from his home state of Michigan to be a cop in Dallas, telling his family, “This is something I wanted to do.” Last year, he brought his girlfriend back to Detroit for Thanksgiving, and it was the last time he’d see his family.
Michael Smith answered that call — in the Army, and over almost 30 years working for the Dallas Police Association, which gave him the appropriately named “Cops Cop” award. A man of deep faith, when he was off duty, he could be found at church or playing softball with his two girls. Today, his girls have lost their dad, for God has called Michael home.
Patrick Zamarripa, he answered that call. Just 32, a former altar boy who served in the Navy and dreamed of being a cop. He liked to post videos of himself and his kids on social media. And on Thursday night, while Patrick went to work, his partner Kristy posted a photo of her and their daughter at a Texas Rangers game, and tagged her partner so that he could see it while on duty.
Brent Thompson answered that call. He served his country as a Marine. And years later, as a contractor, he spent time in some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. And then a few years ago, he settled down here in Dallas for a new life of service as a transit cop. And just about two weeks ago, he married a fellow officer, their whole life together waiting before them.
Like police officers across the country, these men and their families shared a commitment to something larger than themselves. They weren’t looking for their names to be up in lights. They’d tell you the pay was decent but wouldn’t make you rich. They could have told you about the stress and long shifts, and they’d probably agree with Chief Brown when he said that cops don’t expect to hear the words “thank you” very often, especially from those who need them the most.
No, the reward comes in knowing that our entire way of life in America depends on the rule of law; that the maintenance of that law is a hard and daily labor; that in this country, we don’t have soldiers in the streets or militias setting the rules. Instead, we have public servants — police officers — like the men who were taken away from us.
And that’s what these five were doing last Thursday when they were assigned to protect and keep orderly a peaceful protest in response to the killing of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile of Minnesota. They were upholding the constitutional rights of this country.
For a while, the protest went on without incident. And despite the fact that police conduct was the subject of the protest, despite the fact that there must have been signs or slogans or chants with which they profoundly disagreed, these men and this department did their jobs like the professionals that they were. In fact, the police had been part of the protest’s planning. Dallas PD even posted photos on their Twitter feeds of their own officers standing among the protesters. Two officers, black and white, smiled next to a man with a sign that read, “No Justice, No Peace.”
And then, around nine o’clock, the gunfire came. Another community torn apart. More hearts broken. More questions about what caused, and what might prevent, another such tragedy.
I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and the protests, then the targeting of police by the shooter here — an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred. All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt. It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened. And although we know that such divisions are not new — though they have surely been worse in even the recent past — that offers us little comfort.
Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged. We wonder if an African-American community that feels unfairly targeted by police, and police departments that feel unfairly maligned for doing their jobs, can ever understand each other’s experience. We turn on the TV or surf the Internet, and we can watch positions harden and lines drawn, and people retreat to their respective corners, and politicians calculate how to grab attention or avoid the fallout. We see all this, and it’s hard not to think sometimes that the center won’t hold and that things might get worse.
I understand. I understand how Americans are feeling. But, Dallas, I’m here to say we must reject such despair. I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds. (Applause.) I know we’ll make it because of what I’ve experienced in my own life, what I’ve seen of this country and its people — their goodness and decency –as President of the United States. And I know it because of what we’ve seen here in Dallas — how all of you, out of great suffering, have shown us the meaning of perseverance and character, and hope.
When the bullets started flying, the men and women of the Dallas police, they did not flinch and they did not react recklessly. They showed incredible restraint. Helped in some cases by protesters, they evacuated the injured, isolated the shooter, and saved more lives than we will ever know. (Applause.) We mourn fewer people today because of your brave actions. (Applause.) “Everyone was helping each other,” one witness said. “It wasn’t about black or white. Everyone was picking each other up and moving them away.” See, that’s the America I know.
The police helped Shetamia Taylor as she was shot trying to shield her four sons. She said she wanted her boys to join her to protest the incidents of black men being killed. She also said to the Dallas PD, “Thank you for being heroes.” And today, her 12-year old son wants to be a cop when he grows up. That’s the America I know. (Applause.)
In the aftermath of the shooting, we’ve seen Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown, a white man and a black man with different backgrounds, working not just to restore order and support a shaken city, a shaken department, but working together to unify a city with strength and grace and wisdom. (Applause.) And in the process, we’ve been reminded that the Dallas Police Department has been at the forefront of improving relations between police and the community. (Applause.) The murder rate here has fallen. Complaints of excessive force have been cut by 64 percent. The Dallas Police Department has been doing it the right way. (Applause.) And so, Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown, on behalf of the American people, thank you for your steady leadership, thank you for your powerful example. We could not be prouder of you. (Applause.)
These men, this department — this is the America I know. And today, in this audience, I see people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers. I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In this audience, I see what’s possible — (applause) — I see what’s possible when we recognize that we are one American family, all deserving of equal treatment, all deserving of equal respect, all children of God. That’s the America that I know.
Now, I’m not naïve. I have spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency. I’ve hugged too many families who have lost a loved one to senseless violence. And I’ve seen how a spirit of unity, born of tragedy, can gradually dissipate, overtaken by the return to business as usual, by inertia and old habits and expediency. I see how easily we slip back into our old notions, because they’re comfortable, we’re used to them. I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been. And so I’m reminded of a passage in *John’s Gospel [First John]: Let us love not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth. If we’re to sustain the unity we need to get through these difficult times, if we are to honor these five outstanding officers who we’ve lost, then we will need to act on the truths that we know. And that’s not easy. It makes us uncomfortable. But we’re going to have to be honest with each other and ourselves.
We know that the overwhelming majority of police officers do an incredibly hard and dangerous job fairly and professionally. They are deserving of our respect and not our scorn. (Applause.) And when anyone, no matter how good their intentions may be, paints all police as biased or bigoted, we undermine those officers we depend on for our safety. And as for those who use rhetoric suggesting harm to police, even if they don’t act on it themselves — well, they not only make the jobs of police officers even more dangerous, but they do a disservice to the very cause of justice that they claim to promote. (Applause.)
We also know that centuries of racial discrimination — of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow — they didn’t simply vanish with the end of lawful segregation. They didn’t just stop when Dr. King made a speech, or the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were signed. Race relations have improved dramatically in my lifetime. Those who deny it are dishonoring the struggles that helped us achieve that progress. (Applause.)
But we know — but, America, we know that bias remains. We know it. Whether you are black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We’ve heard it at times in our own homes. If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that. And while some suffer far more under racism’s burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination’s sting. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.
And so when African Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment; when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently, so that if you’re black you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested, more likely to get longer sentences, more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime; when mothers and fathers raise their kids right and have “the talk” about how to respond if stopped by a police officer — “yes, sir,” “no, sir” — but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door, still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy — when all this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid. (Applause.) We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism. To have your experience denied like that, dismissed by those in authority, dismissed perhaps even by your white friends and coworkers and fellow church members again and again and again — it hurts. Surely we can see that, all of us.
We also know what Chief Brown has said is true: That so much of the tensions between police departments and minority communities that they serve is because we ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. (Applause.) As a society, we choose to underinvest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. (Applause.) We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. (Applause.) We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book — (applause) — and then we tell the police “you’re a social worker, you’re the parent, you’re the teacher, you’re the drug counselor.” We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs, and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience. Don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own peace of mind. And then we feign surprise when, periodically, the tensions boil over.
We know these things to be true. They’ve been true for a long time. We know it. Police, you know it. Protestors, you know it. You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are, and you pretend as if there’s no context. These things we know to be true. And if we cannot even talk about these things — if we cannot talk honestly and openly not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with those who look different than us or bring a different perspective, then we will never break this dangerous cycle.
In the end, it’s not about finding policies that work; it’s about forging consensus, and fighting cynicism, and finding the will to make change.
Can we do this? Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? And it doesn’t make anybody perfectly good or perfectly bad, it just makes us human. I don’t know. I confess that sometimes I, too, experience doubt. I’ve been to too many of these things. I’ve seen too many families go through this. But then I am reminded of what the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will give you a new heart, the Lord says, and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
That’s what we must pray for, each of us: a new heart. Not a heart of stone, but a heart open to the fears and hopes and challenges of our fellow citizens. That’s what we’ve seen in Dallas these past few days. That’s what we must sustain.
Because with an open heart, we can learn to stand in each other’s shoes and look at the world through each other’s eyes, so that maybe the police officer sees his own son in that teenager with a hoodie who’s kind of goofing off but not dangerous — (applause) — and the teenager — maybe the teenager will see in the police officer the same words and values and authority of his parents. (Applause.)
With an open heart, we can abandon the overheated rhetoric and the oversimplification that reduces whole categories of our fellow Americans not just to opponents, but to enemies.
With an open heart, those protesting for change will guard against reckless language going forward, look at the model set by the five officers we mourn today, acknowledge the progress brought about by the sincere efforts of police departments like this one in Dallas, and embark on the hard but necessary work of negotiation, the pursuit of reconciliation.
With an open heart, police departments will acknowledge that, just like the rest of us, they are not perfect; that insisting we do better to root out racial bias is not an attack on cops, but an effort to live up to our highest ideals. (Applause.) And I understand these protests — I see them, they can be messy. Sometimes they can be hijacked by an irresponsible few. Police can get hurt. Protestors can get hurt. They can be frustrating.
But even those who dislike the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” surely we should be able to hear the pain of Alton Sterling’s family. (Applause.) We should — when we hear a friend describe him by saying that “Whatever he cooked, he cooked enough for everybody,” that should sound familiar to us, that maybe he wasn’t so different than us, so that we can, yes, insist that his life matters. Just as we should hear the students and coworkers describe their affection for Philando Castile as a gentle soul — “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks,” they called him — and know that his life mattered to a whole lot of people of all races, of all ages, and that we have to do what we can, without putting officers’ lives at risk, but do better to prevent another life like his from being lost.
With an open heart, we can worry less about which side has been wronged, and worry more about joining sides to do right. (Applause.) Because the vicious killer of these police officers, they won’t be the last person who tries to make us turn on one other. The killer in Orlando wasn’t, nor was the killer in Charleston. We know there is evil in this world. That’s why we need police departments. (Applause.) But as Americans, we can decide that people like this killer will ultimately fail. They will not drive us apart. We can decide to come together and make our country reflect the good inside us, the hopes and simple dreams we share.
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
For all of us, life presents challenges and suffering — accidents, illnesses, the loss of loved ones. There are times when we are overwhelmed by sudden calamity, natural or manmade. All of us, we make mistakes. And at times we are lost. And as we get older, we learn we don’t always have control of things — not even a President does. But we do have control over how we respond to the world. We do have control over how we treat one another.
America does not ask us to be perfect. Precisely because of our individual imperfections, our founders gave us institutions to guard against tyranny and ensure no one is above the law; a democracy that gives us the space to work through our differences and debate them peacefully, to make things better, even if it doesn’t always happen as fast as we’d like. America gives us the capacity to change.
But as the men we mourn today — these five heroes — knew better than most, we cannot take the blessings of this nation for granted. Only by working together can we preserve those institutions of family and community, rights and responsibilities, law and self-government that is the hallmark of this nation. For, it turns out, we do not persevere alone. Our character is not found in isolation. Hope does not arise by putting our fellow man down; it is found by lifting others up. (Applause.)
And that’s what I take away from the lives of these outstanding men. The pain we feel may not soon pass, but my faith tells me that they did not die in vain. I believe our sorrow can make us a better country. I believe our righteous anger can be transformed into more justice and more peace. Weeping may endure for a night, but I’m convinced joy comes in the morning. (Applause.) We cannot match the sacrifices made by Officers Zamarripa and Ahrens, Krol, Smith, and Thompson, but surely we can try to match their sense of service. We cannot match their courage, but we can strive to match their devotion.
May God bless their memory. May God bless this country that we love. (Applause.)
2:26 P.M. CDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 12, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts July 5, 2016: FBI Director James B. Comey’s statement not recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over private email server
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System
Source: FBI.gov, 7-5-16
Remarks prepared for delivery at press briefing.
Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.
After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.
This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.
I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.
So, first, what we have done:
The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.
Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.
Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.
I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together—to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work—has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.
For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused—or “slack”—space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.
FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).
From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.
This helped us recover work-related e-mails that were not among the 30,000 produced to State. Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.
With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”
I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.
It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as “personal” by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014.
The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.
It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.
We have conducted interviews and done technical examination to attempt to understand how that sorting was done by her attorneys. Although we do not have complete visibility because we are not able to fully reconstruct the electronic record of that sorting, we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.
And, of course, in addition to our technical work, we interviewed many people, from those involved in setting up and maintaining the various iterations of Secretary Clinton’s personal server, to staff members with whom she corresponded on e-mail, to those involved in the e-mail production to State, and finally, Secretary Clinton herself.
Last, we have done extensive work to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.
That’s what we have done. Now let me tell you what we found:
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).
None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.
Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.
While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.
With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
So that’s what we found. Finally, with respect to our recommendation to the Department of Justice:
In our system, the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate based on evidence the FBI has helped collect. Although we don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors, we frequently make recommendations and engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate, given the evidence. In this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.
Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.
I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation, as there was throughout this investigation. What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.
I know there were many opinions expressed by people who were not part of the investigation—including people in government—but none of that mattered to us. Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation, because we did the investigation the right way. Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this organization.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 5, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts June 27, 2016: Democrats Issue Benghazi Report and Release Interview Transcripts
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Democrats Issue Benghazi Report and Release Interview Transcripts
WASHINGTON— Today, the Democratic Members of the Select Committee on Benghazi issued a 339-page report entitled, “Honoring Courage, Improving Security, and Fighting the Political Exploitation of a Tragedy.” Democrats also released all of the unclassified interview transcripts in their possession so the American people can read them for themselves.
“Decades in the future, historians will look back on this investigation as a case study in how not to conduct a credible investigation,” the Members wrote. “They will showcase the proliferation of Republican abuses as a chief example of what happens when politicians are allowed to use unlimited taxpayer dollars—and the formidable power of Congress—to attack their political foes.”
The Democratic report’s overarching conclusion is that the evidence obtained by the Select Committee confirms the core findings already issued by many previous investigations into the attacks in Benghazi. Although the Select Committee obtained additional details that provide context and granularity, these details do not fundamentally alter the previous conclusions.
The report finds:
- U.S. personnel in Benghazi and Tripoli conducted themselves with extraordinary courage and heroism and at grave personal risk to defend and rescue their fellow Americans.
- The Defense Department could not have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives of the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi, and although the military’s global posture prevented it from responding more quickly that night, improvements were made years ago.
- The State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi.
- The Intelligence Community’s assessments evolved after the attacks as more information became available, but they were not influenced by political considerations.
- Administration officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks, but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances.
The Democratic report also documents the grave abuses Republicans engaged in during this investigation—from A to Z. Republicans excluded Democrats from interviews, concealed exculpatory evidence, withheld interview transcripts, leaked inaccurate information, issued unilateral subpoenas, sent armed Marshals to the home of a cooperative witness, and even conducted political fundraising by exploiting the deaths of four Americans.
“In our opinion,” the Members wrote, “Chairman Gowdy has been conducting this investigation like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”
“We are issuing our own report today because, after spending more than two years and $7 million in taxpayer funds in one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history, it is long past time for the Select Committee to conclude its work,” they wrote. “Despite our repeated requests over the last several months, Republicans have refused to provide us with a draft of their report—or even a basic outline—making it impossible for us to provide input and obvious that we are being shut out of the process until the last possible moment.”
The Democratic report makes 12 recommendations. Because the fundamental goal of the Democratic Members has always been to improve the security of our diplomatic corps and Americans serving our country overseas, the report makes nine recommendations to improve security measures, security training, risk management processes, and support for survivors and their families. The report also makes three recommendations for Congress to consider before establishing any future select committees.
Click below to read each section:
- Executive Summary
- Courage and Heroism of First Responders
- The Department of Defense
- The Department of State
- The Intelligence Community
- No Intentionally Misleading Public Statements
- Republican Abuses
- Interview Transcripts
The Democratic Members of the Select Committee are Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings, Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Linda Sánchez, and Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 27, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts June 27, 2016: Republican Select Committee on Benghazi Releases Report
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:
Select Committee on Benghazi Releases Proposed Report
Source: House.gov, 6-27-16
81 New Witnesses, 75,000 New Pages of Documents Reveal Significant New Information,
Fundamentally Changes the Public’s Understanding of the 2012 Terrorist Attacks that Killed Four Americans
Washington, D.C. – Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee’s Majority released a mark of its investigative report:
“Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. Their bravery and the courageous actions of so many others on the ground that night should be honored.
“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done.
“Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions. You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.”
The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012.
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:
- Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
- With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.” [pg. 115]
- The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
- A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
- None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]
- The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]
Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.”
Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part II:
- Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place. The State Department senior officials at the meeting had access to eyewitness accounts to the attack in real time. The Diplomatic Security Command Center was in direct contact with the Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground in Benghazi and sent out multiple updates about the situation, including a “Terrorism Event Notification.” The State Department Watch Center had also notified Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills that it had set up a direct telephone line to Tripoli. There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground. Greg Hicks—one of the last people to talk to Chris Stevens before he died—said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks. [pg. 28]
- The morning after the attacks, the National Security Council’s Deputy Spokesperson sent an email to nearly two dozen people from the White House, Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community, stating: “Both the President and Secretary Clinton released statements this morning. … Please refer to those for any comments for the time being. To ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day, Ben Rhodes will host a conference call for USG communicators on this chain at 9:15 ET today.” [pg. 39]
- Minutes before the President delivered his speech in the Rose Garden, Jake Sullivan wrote in an email to Ben Rhodes and others: “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’” [pg. 44]
- According to Susan Rice, both Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe prepared her for her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attacks. Nobody from the FBI, Department of Defense, or CIA participated in her prep call. While Rhodes testified Plouffe would “normally” appear on the Sunday show prep calls, Rice testified she did not recall Plouffe being on prior calls and did not understand why he was on the call in this instance. [pg.98]
- On the Sunday shows, Susan Rice stated the FBI had “already begun looking at all sorts of evidence” and “FBI has a lead in this investigation.” But on Monday, the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs sent an email stating: “McDonough apparently told the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference] group today that everyone was required to ‘shut their pieholes’ about the Benghazi attack in light of the FBI investigation, due to start tomorrow.” [pg. 135]
- After Susan Rice’s Sunday show appearances, Jake Sullivan assured the Secretary of the State that Rice “wasn’t asked about whether we had any intel. But she did make clear our view that this started spontaneously and then evolved.” [pg. 128]
- Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday talk shows were met with shock and disbelief by State Department employees in Washington. The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: “I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.” The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: “Off the reservation on five networks!” The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: “WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.” [pg. 132]
- The CIA’s September 13, 2012, intelligence assessment was rife with errors. On the first page, there is a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one of the bullet points. The article cited to support the mention of a protest in this instance was actually from September 4. In other words, the analysts used an article from a full week before the attacks to support the premise that a protest had occurred just prior to the attack on September 11. [pg. 47]
- A headline on the following page of the CIA’s September 13 intelligence assessment stated “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” but nothing in the actual text box supports that title. As it turns out, the title of the text box was supposed to be “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.” That small but vital difference—from Cairo to Benghazi—had major implications in how people in the administration were able to message the attacks. [pg. 52]
Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”
Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“In the days and weeks after the attacks, the White House worked to pin all of the blame for their misleading and incorrect statements on officials within the intelligence community, but in reality, political operatives like Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe were spinning the false narrative and prepping Susan Rice for her interviews.”
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III:
- During deliberations within the State Department about whether and how to intervene in Libya in March 2011, Jake Sullivan listed the first goal as “avoid[ing] a failed state, particularly one in which al-Qaeda and other extremists might take safe haven.” [pg. 9]
- The administration’s policy of no boots on the ground shaped the type of military assistance provided to State Department personnel in Libya. The Executive Secretariats for both the Defense Department and State Department exchanged communications outlining the diplomatic capacity in which the Defense Department SST security team members would serve, which included wearing civilian clothes so as not to offend the Libyans. [pg. 60]
- When the State Department’s presence in Benghazi was extended in December 2012, senior officials from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security were excluded from the discussion. [pg. 74]
- In February 2012, the lead Diplomatic Security Agent at Embassy Tripoli informed his counterpart in Benghazi that more DS agents would not be provided by decision makers, because “substantive reporting” was not Benghazi’s purpose. [pg. 77]
- Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate. [pg. 96]
- In August 2012—roughly a month before the Benghazi attacks—security on the ground worsened significantly. Ambassador Stevens initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons.” [pg. 99]
- Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta bluntly told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred with respect to Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple times an intelligence failure did in fact occur prior to the Benghazi attacks. [pg. 129]
Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-05) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after … intervening in Libya.’ As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“One of the most concerning parts of the State Department’s policy in Libya was its reliance upon the militias of an unstable nation to protect our men and women in Benghazi. These were by no means forces that could adequately protect Americans on the ground, and the State Department knew it. But the appearance of no boots on the ground was more important to the administration.”
Part IV of the report reveals new information about the Select Committee’s requests and subpoenas seeking documents and witnesses regarding Benghazi and Libya, and details what the Obama administration provided to Congress, what it is still withholding, and how its serial delays hindered the committee’s efforts to uncover the truth.
Part V proposes 25 recommendations for the Pentagon, State Department, Intelligence Community and Congress aimed at strengthening security for American personnel serving abroad and doing everything possible to ensure something like Benghazi never happens again, and if it does, that we are better prepared to respond, the majority make a series of recommendations.
The Select Committee intends to convene a bipartisan markup to discuss and vote on the proposed report on July 8, 2016. All members of the committee will have the opportunity to offer changes in a manner consistent with the rules of the House.
Below is the full report with links to PDF files of each section.
Report of the Select Committee on
the Events Surrounding the 2012
Terrorist Attack in Benghazi
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 27, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts June 24, 2016: British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech announcing his resignation after the UK votes to leave the European Union
British Prime Minister David Cameron announces his resignation after the UK votes to leave the European Union
Source: AOL, 6-24-16
“Good morning everyone, the country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise, perhaps the biggest in our history.
Over 33 million people from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have all had their say.
We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people for these big decisions.
We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we’ve governed there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves and that is what we have done.
The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.
I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believe was the national interest and let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign for the spirited and passionate case that they made.
The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.
It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.
So there can be no doubt about the result.
Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made.
I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong and I would also reassure Britons living in European countries and European citizens living here there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances.
There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.
We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union.
This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.
But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.
I’m very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years.
I believe we’ve made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality, but above all restoring Britain’s economic strength.
And I’m grateful to everyone who’s helped to make that happen.
I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions, not duck them.
That is why we delivered the first coalition government in 70 years, to bring our economy back from the brink.
It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland.
And it’s why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and to hold the referendum on our membership and have carried those things out.
I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.
I held nothing back, I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician including myself.
But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.
There is no need for a precise timetable today but in my view we should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.
Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months.
The Cabinet will meet on Monday, the Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets.
We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech.
And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new prime minister and I think it’s right that this new prime minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.
The British people have made a choice that not only needs to be respected but those on the losing side of the argument – myself included – should help to make it work.
Britain is a special country – we have so many great advantages – a parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate, a great trading nation with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity, respected the world over.
And while we are not perfect I do believe we can be a model for the multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, that people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.
Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths.
I said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.
Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way and I will do everything I can to help.
I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.
Thank you very much.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 24, 2016