Tag Archives: speech

President Obama’s Back to School Speech

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President Obama Delivers Speech at the University of Michigan’s Spring Commencement

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Shama Hussain

“Because I Believe in You”

President Barack Obama delivers a commencement address to the University of Michigan 2010 class in Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

At the University of Michigan’s Spring Commencement, President Obama discussed the nature of politics in our democracy which he said has “never been for the thick-skinned or the faint-of-heart.” He talked about pundits and politicians who call each other all sorts of names and continue to debate about the role and size of government, but reminded the audience that “our experiment in democracy has worked better than any form of government on Earth.”

photo

The President talked about the importance of healthy debate to maintain a basic level of civility, reminding the audience that “we can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down.” He explained that over-the-top rhetoric and vilification sends signals to the extreme sides that violence is a justifiable response.

“You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it.  You can question somebody’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialists” and “Soviet-style takeover” and “fascist” and “right-wing nut” that may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, our political opponents, to authoritarian, even murderous regimes.

Now, we’ve seen this kind of politics in the past.  It’s been practiced by both fringes of the ideological spectrum, by the left and the right, since our nation’s birth.  But it’s starting to creep into the center of our discourse.  And the problem with it is not the hurt feelings or the bruised egos of the public officials who are criticized.  Remember, they signed up for it.  Michelle always reminds me of that. The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise.  It undermines democratic deliberation.  It prevents learning –- since, after all, why should we listen to a “fascist,” or a “socialist,” or a “right-wing nut,” or a left-wing nut”?

It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out.  It robs us of a rational and serious debate, the one we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation.  It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.”

President Barack Obama talks with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm during the University of Michigan commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President encouraged the audience to actively seek information that challenges their beliefs in order to “begin to understand where the people who disagree with us are coming from.”

“[I]f you’re somebody who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while.  If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website.  It may make your blood boil; your mind may not be changed.  But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.  It is essential for our democracy.”

He closed by saying that the nation’s destiny has never been certain and reminded them of their “ability to shape that destiny.”

“That is what makes us Americans -– our ability at the end of the day to look past all of our differences and all of our disagreements and still forge a common future.  That task is now in your hands, as is the answer to the question posed at this university half a century ago about whether a free society can still compete.

If you are willing, as past generations were willing, to contribute part of your life to the life of this country, then I, like President Kennedy, believe we can.  Because I believe in you.”

President Barack Obama receives an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, before delivering the commencement address to University of Michigan graduates, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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TRMS Explores Literacy Tests in Our Nations Voting History

Posted by: Audiegrl

Rachel Maddow ShowMSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reviews the history of how “literacy tests” were used to prevent Black people from voting in America and why Tom Tancredo’s opening speech to the Tea Party convention calling for the return of those tests is so abhorrent. Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree shares his insights on racism in the United States.

This clip caught my attention, because as Rachel pointed out, this is not ancient history, the Voting Rights bill was passed in 1965, when I was three years old. The topic also reminded me of a story my parents told me. But a little background first. Although, they came to Northern Illinois in 1942, the first election they were ‘allowed’ to vote in, was for President John F. Kennedy. Seriously… They were not in the Southern states that Rachel mentioned, but in the North. I’m not sure all the literacy tests they were given, except for one. My mother was given the task to name all of Shakespere’s sonnets. She didn’t pass that test, so she was not allowed to vote.

When they voted for President Kennedy, they went as a group from the American Legion, because my father served honorably in World War II. My Great-Uncle also went with him that day, he served honorably in World War I. Amazingly although both were veterans, this was the first vote for both of them, and they sure were proud. 🙂

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In State of the Union, President Obama Criticizes “TV pundits” for “reducing serious debates to silly arguments”

From President Obama’s January 27 State of the Union speech
Hat tip to Media Matters
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Secretary Clinton Travel’s to the Pacific

Posted by: Audiegrl

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Pacific January 11-19, 2010.

Secretary Clinton will deliver a policy speech in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 12, focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement, and will be consulting with Pacific Command.

From Hawaii, Secretary Clinton will travel to Papua New Guinea on January 14 where she will hold bilateral meetings as well as meet with local civil society leaders to discuss environmental protection and women’s empowerment.

On January 15, Secretary Clinton will travel to Auckland, where she will meet with senior New Zealand officials, including Prime Minister John Key. In addition, the Secretary will engage in discussions with New Zealand citizens and meet with U.S. and New Zealand veterans at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Secretary Clinton will continue on January 17 to Canberra, Australia and Melbourne, Australia. While in Canberra, the Secretary, along with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, and Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner, will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

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On Obama’s War in Afghanistan: — More Loans, Fewer Drones

blogpost by Ogenec

I am looking forward to hearing Obama’s speech tonight. I do hope, however, that we don’t get the kind of speech he is so adept at giving: the one where he impresses us with his mastery of nuance and ability to understand all sides of a multi-faceted issue. At this point, even his detractors are prepared to concede him that point. The question is not his capacity for reflection, but his capacity for conviction. If he believes the war is worth fighting, he must convince us of that. More to the point, he must convince us we need to sacrifice for the effort. If, however, he does not believe this war is worth fighting in the long term, then he must also convince us of that.

And here I’ll digress to state my own opinion. I think that the term “war” is not the right one, and it just distorts the analysis to look at it from that perspective. We are not at “war” with Afghanistan. But we should do whatever it takes to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuary. Not just because of Af-Pak, although Pakistan is tremendously important: ISI, nukes, Kashmir, and all that. In my own opinion, the problem is what a time series would show: that Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and metastizing, from the Middle East into Asia, Europe, and even sub-Saharan Africa. It will take a concerted, global effort to reverse this trend, and it behooves all countries to get involved, and to stop playing geo-political games with the issue.  Russia is learning that lesson the hard way.   They imagined that they could use Iran as a pawn in their geopolitical chess match with the  United States.   But the recent terrorist attack in Russia demonstrates the limits of that strategy: Russia can make nice with the Iranian theocrats all it wants, but that will not deter the fundamentalists from their vision of a Caliphate that spans Asia, Europe and Africa. By whatever means necessary.

Similarly, pacifists, progressives, liberals (or whatever they want to call themselves) should recognize the limits of their strategy.  Repudiating Bush’s silly pre-emptive war doctrine does not mean that we should end the effort in Afghanistan, and “just bring the troops home.”  Again, that view severely misapprehends the existential nature of the threat. That said, I do agree that there is something to the “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” argument: that by intervening militarily in Afghanistan, we perpetuate the disaffection that leads to the very fundamentalism we are trying to prevent.  I get that.  But that does not mean we abandon the endeavor: it means that we transform it. We should not make the mistake with Karzai that Bush made with Musharraf, and prop up a corrupt administration with divided loyalties. Rather, we should help the local populace with economic alternatives: more micro loans, less drones, to coin a phrase. So the focus on troop numbers misses the point in my view. The question is, what is the purpose of the troops? This is what I want to hear from Obama tonight. Tell me that the troops are a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves.

And, while you’re at it, tell me how we are going to pay for it. Make this a national call to action, and Americans will be happy to do their share. But you’ve gotta make the case.  My vote: WaPo’s prescription of a gasoline tax.

Related discussion:
Tom Ricks C-span interview: What’s next in Afghanistan? 12/1/2009

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Military, Opinions, Pakistan, Russia, Uncategorized, United States

23 years of silence: Belgian man breaks through “coma” and communicates

“I screamed, but there was nothing to hear”: Man trapped in 23-year ‘coma’ reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious

Conscious but unable to communicate for 23 years after a car accident that was thought to have put him into a deep coma, a quadriplegic Belgian

Rom said he wants to enjoy life again - now that his friends and family know he is not in a coma after all

man has described how medical science finally put an end to his agonizing years of silence.

Now able to make himself understood via a computer and specially built keyboard, the man, Rom Houben, said in the Monday issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel that when doctors made the correct diagnosis, it was like starting a second life.

“I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me — it was my second birth,” Mr. Houben, now 46, was quoted as saying.

Mr. Houben, who was an engineering student at the time of the accident, lives in a care home near Brussels. He was assumed to be in a persistent vegetative state until three years ago, when the breakthrough was made.

In the interview he recalled the aftermath of the car accident that paralyzed him and the realization that no one understood that he was fully conscious.

“I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,” he said. He added that he then became a witness to his own suffering as doctors and nurses tried to speak with him until they gave up all hope.

Read the whole story here:

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