Monday, April 21, 2014

A Truth Journal: Funny Late Nite Jokes: About Putin and Russia Attacking Ukraine







A Truth Journal: Funny Late Nite Jokes: About Putin and Russia Attacking Ukraine: From Denny: While Putin lies to the world about his storming Russian military doing land grabs and killing innocent people in Ukraine, well, we might as well see what the comics have to say about the situation - and this weird guy, otherwise known at our house as Prancing Putin...


Keep Calm, Really? Potholder

Keep Calm, Really? Potholder


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Friday, April 11, 2014

A Truth Journal: Ukraine Occupation: Putin Rejects Peace, Release Crippling Sanctions


Vladimir Putin - Caricature
Vladimir Putin - Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

A Truth Journal: Ukraine Occupation: Putin Rejects Peace, Release Crippling Sanctions: From Denny:  While Russia's government is held hostage by the Russian crime syndicate, it's the head crime boss thug, Putin, who continues to threaten weaker countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia and Bulgaria.

World leaders actually believe they are negotiating with another head of state - when nothing could be farther from the truth.

What world leaders are negotiating with is a crime boss whose wealth profits come from the misery of the vilest of newer more potent drugs, arms dealing that enables genocide like in Syria, prostitution of little children and the slavery of human trafficking.  Yes, the Russian crime syndicate's human trafficking is operating in your home town right here in America and around the world...

Magic Coffee Fonts Modern Wall Clock


Magic Coffee Fonts Modern Wall Clock



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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Truth Journal: Ukraine: Is Putin Hiding Fact He Doesn't Have As Big A Fighting Force As Claimed?


Vladimir Putin - Caricature
Vladimir Putin - Caricature
(Photo credit:
DonkeyHotey)



A Truth Journal: Ukraine: Is Putin Hiding Fact He Doesn't Have As Big A Fighting Force As Claimed?: From Denny:  Does anyone else find it peculiar that Putin keeps trying to bully other military troops into defecting and giving their allegiance to Russia?  Putin has directed his military to force Ukraine's people and military to join Russia and fight for Russia during this Crimea crisis. They sure don't look enthused.

Putin's bullying young and older military age men in surrounding countries that were former Soviet satellite orbits.  Putin even tried to bully a Ukraine base commander into joining the Russian military, holding him for five days and torturing him this past week.

Yet Putin did not succeed.  The Ukraine colonel defied Putin and Russian bullying tactics.  With the whole world watching it wasn't like Putin could kill him on the spot.  Of course, that sure didn't stop Putin from sending assassins this week to kill a Russian oligarch, Putin's avowed enemy, in the UK.  Guess Putin figured no one would notice.  Are you kidding?

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Easter Omelet: Carry this fashionable virtually scrambled omelet from colorful Easter eggs!




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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Visit of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Visit of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
East Room
2:55 P.M. EDT     
April 03, 2014
MRS. OBAMA:  Hey, everybody.  (Laughter.)  Welcome to the White House!  (Applause.)  I know you guys have been standing for a while, but you're athletes, you can handle it.  (Laughter.) 
We are so excited to have Team USA here with us today.  But before we begin, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fort Hood community that, as many of you know, has experienced yet another devastating tragedy.  And we just want to make sure that folks there know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones and friends, as well as those that were injured. 
Because I know that many of the athletes here today are veterans themselves, and when something like this happens, it touches all of us.  I know that the President and I are just torn apart when things like this happen.  So today, as we celebrate the Olympic spirit, we remember that the same spirit -- the spirit of hard work and team work -- is shared by our military men and women, and we stand with them today and every day.  
So, now, let’s get into the you-guys thing.  (Laughter.)  After watching you guys all over TV all these couple of months, I have to say that I am truly amazed.  I shared some of this with you guys in the receiving line.  You all are so talented.  You’re dedicated, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know how you do it.  I really don’t. 
I’ve watched you guys do some of the craziest stuff.  That’s the thing with the Winter Olympics.  You guys do crazy things -- careening down the face of mountains -- craziness.  (Laughter.)  Throwing each other up in the air, it’s like -- the mixed-pair skaters, the women, they’re teeny.  The big guys take them and throw them, just throw them across the ice.  I’m like, are you kidding me?  (Laughter.)  You threw her so hard and she lands on one foot on a blade.  And those of you jumping on those cookie sheet things and just sliding down a mountain -- (laughter) -- 80 miles an hour -- I mean, who thinks of that?  (Laughter.)  
So I am really in awe of everything you do, as so many people here in America and across the globe are.  Again and again, you all showed us that being an Olympian is about heart; it’s about guts; and it’s about giving it your all no matter what stands in your way.  And that’s a message that I try to convey to young people all the time -- the idea that if you work hard and commit yourselves to a goal, and then pick yourself up when you fall, that there is nothing that you can’t achieve. 
And as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body.  You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform. 
And that’s another message that I try to spread to our young people, the importance of healthy eating and staying active.  So I want to thank all of you who taped a video for our Let’s Move campaign earlier today.  Thank you so much for making that happen.  And I want to give a special thank you to the USOC for their work to give over 2 million young people opportunities to get active in their communities.  We are so grateful for that, work, and we’re grateful for the example you all set for our young people.  
In so many different ways, you all are inspiring folks across the country not just every four years but every single day.  And nowhere have I seen that more clearly than in the story of someone that I met here at the White House four years ago under far different circumstances. 
Lt. Commander Dan Cnossen was seated next to me at a dinner with leaders of our military.  And I just got to see Dan, and we were remarking -- because we were in the Dip Room, the same room we had dinner in together, but just a few months earlier, Dan had been in Afghanistan.  He was leading a platoon of Navy SEALs when he stepped on an IED.  Dan lost both of his legs in the explosion, but he never lost that fighting spirit. 
I will always remember Dan, because just four months after that explosion, he finished a half marathon in a wheelchair -- four months after the explosion.  On the one-year anniversary of his injury, he ran a mile on his prosthetics.  Over the next few years, Dan stayed on active duty while in the Navy, earning medals in swimming and running events at the Warrior Games, and completing the New York City Marathon.
And today, four and a half years after his injury, Dan is proud to wear another one of our nation’s uniforms, and that is of Team USA.  (Applause.)  There’s Dan. 
THE PRESIDENT:  Dan is in the back there.
MRS. OBAMA:  Dan is in the back.
THE PRESIDENT:  Wave again, Dan.  There’s Dan.  (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA:  And I also got to meet Dan’s sister, who stayed by his side every single minute of his recovery and she was an important part of that recovery.  And she’s a terrific woman, a nurse herself.  And I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.
In Sochi, Dan inspired us all again by competing in the 15K biathlon and the 1 kilometer sitting cross-country spring.  So Dan has come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished. 
So keep it up.  This is only the beginning.  Many of you were here four years ago, and you told us you’d be back -- and you’re back.  So I know you’re already getting ready for that next four years.  But in the meantime, we look forward to all that you’re going to do in this country and around the world to keep inspiring particularly young people to just live a little more like you all live and to show them that spirit of persistence.
So thank you all, again, for everything that you do.  And I can’t wait to hear about everything that you will do in the years to come.
And with that, I’m going to turn it over to this guy next to me -- (laughter) -- who happens to be my husband, but, more importantly, is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.) 
THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s, first of all, be clear:  It is more important that I’m Michelle’s husband than that I’m President of the United States.  (Laughter and applause.)  I just want you to -- I don’t want anybody to be confused.  Many of you young people out there aren’t married yet, so I just want you to know -- giving you some tips in terms of how to prioritize.  (Laughter.) 
Obviously, as Michelle mentioned, our thoughts right now in many ways are with the families at Fort Hood.  These are folks who make such extraordinary sacrifices for us each and every day for our freedom.  During the course of a decade of war, many of them have been on multiple tours of duty.  To see unspeakable, senseless violence happen in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe, home base, is tragic.  And obviously this is the second time that the Fort Hood community has been affected this way.
So we join that entire community in honoring those who lost their lives.  Every single one of them was an American patriot.  We stand with their families and their loved ones as they grieve. We are thinking about those who are wounded.  We’re there to support them. 
And as we learn more about what happened and why, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and to keep our troops strong, not just on the battlefield but also when they come home.  They’ve done their duty, and they’re an inspiration.  They’ve made us proud.  They put on the uniform and then they take care of us, and we’ve got to make sure that when they come home we take care of them.
And that spirit of unity is what brings us here today -- because we could not be prouder of Team USA.  (Applause.)  Team USA.  I hope all of you made yourself at home.  We double-checked to make sure that all the bathroom locks were working in case Johnny Quinn -- (laughter) -- tried to bust down one of these antique doors.  We didn’t want that to happen.  (Laughter.)
I want to recognize the members of Congress we have here with us, as well as Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst from the USOC, our fantastic delegations that represent the diversity and the values of our country so well.  But most of all, we’re here just to celebrate all of you -- our Olympians and Paralympians who brought home a total of 46 medals for the Red, White and Blue.  (Applause.) 
I understand that freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy also brought home a few stray dogs that he adopted.  (Laughter.)  That doesn’t count in the medal standings, but it tells you something about the freestyle skiers.  (Applause.)  
Over the past couple of months, we saw some dominating performances by Team USA.  American women won more medals in the Olympics than women of any other nation.  (Applause.)  Way to go, women!  (Applause.)  Good job.  The men swept the podium in slopestyle skiing and Paralympic snowboarding.  (Applause.)  There you go.  Our women’s hockey team brought home the silver.  (Applause.)  Our men’s hockey team played a game for the ages with an epic shootout victory over the Russians.  (Applause.) 
I would personally like to thank all of our snowboarders and freestyle skiers for making newscasters across America say things like “air to fakie,” and the “back-to-back double cork 1260.”  (Laughter.)  I don’t know what that means, really, but I just wanted to say it.  (Laughter.)  I’m pretty sure I’m the first President to ever say that.  (Applause.)  I’m pretty sure that’s true.  The back-to-back double cork 1260.  (Laughter.) 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  It feels good.
THE PRESIDENT:  Does it feel good?  (Laughter.) 
In Sochi, these athletes made plenty of history.  You had 16-year-old Declan Farmer scoring three goals to help our sled hockey team become the first nation ever to win back-to-back gold medals.  (Applause.)  Hey!  There he is.  There he is.  Hey!  (Applause.) 
Our men’s bobsled team became the first Americans in 62 years to medal in both the two-man and the four-man competition. (Applause.)  Bobsledders -- those are some tough guys, those bobsledders.  Don’t mess with them.  (Laughter.) 
And then, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in the slalom, at just 18 years old.  (Applause.)  Where’s Mikaela?  She’s back here somewhere.  Wave a little bit. (Applause.)  
MRS. OBAMA:  She’s a little -- she’s down low.
THE PRESIDENT:  She’s down low.  There she is.  I knew she was here.  I saw her.  (Laughter.)  Afterwards, she said she wants to win five gold in 2018.  I do have to say, though, Mikaela, as somebody who was once told “you’re young but you should set your sights high,” I just got three words of advice:  Go for it.  (Applause.)  We are confident you are going to be bringing back some more gold.
Thanks to years of lobbying from Team USA, women’s ski jumping was added as an Olympic sport, and they did outstanding. (Applause.)  So women can fly just like men.  Jessica Jerome said, “We have arrived.  We are good at what we do.  And we are a lot prettier than the boy jumpers.”  (Laughter.)  Which I can attest to -- I’ve seen them.  (Laughter.)  She wasn’t lying.
So from our ski jumpers who fought for equality to the athletes and coaches who have served our country in uniform, like Dan, who we’re so proud of, these athletes all send a message that resonates far beyond the Olympic Village.  And that’s always been the power of the Olympics -- in going for the gold and pushing yourselves to be the best, you inspire the rest of us to try to, if not be the best, at least be a little better.
MRS. OBAMA:  Get off the couch.
THE PRESIDENT:  Just get off the couch.  (Laughter.)  That’s what Michelle said. 
All of you remind us, just like the Olympic creed states, the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight.  And I want to take the example of somebody who couldn’t be here today, but her story I think is typical of so many of yours.  And this is Noelle Pikus-Pace.  Noelle was hoping to be here, but she’s been on the road a lot, wanted to get back to her husband and her kids -- and they may be watching us now.
But almost a decade ago, Noelle was on top of the world after winning the women’s skeleton World Cup.  She was injured in a freak accident that cost her chances in 2006.  In 2010, she missed the podium by one-tenth of a second.  And after all of those Olympics, she retired to spend more time with her family.  But then two years, ago her husband convinced her to go back on that sled, because raising a family and racing down the track don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
So since then, Noelle, her husband, her two young children traveled from competition to competition, living out of suitcases, seeing the world together.  And in Sochi, it all paid off, and she took home the silver in the skeleton -- jumping over the wall to celebrate with her family on the final run.  And here’s what Noelle said afterwards:  “Life is never going to go as planned.  You have to decide, when you’re bumped off course, if it’s going to hold you back or move you forward.” 
That’s the spirit we celebrate today.  That’s something Dan understands.  That’s something that all of you at some stages in your life have understood or will understand.  Things aren’t always going to go perfect -- and Michelle and I always remark, watching our Olympians, that you work hard for four years and then just a little something can happen.  And you’re just that close, and the courage and the stick-to-itness, and the confidence, and the joy in competition that keeps you moving -- that’s going to help you throughout life.  It helps our country. It’s what America is all about.  It’s why we are so proud to have you all here today. 
And four years from now, I won’t be here to greet you but some President is going to.  And I suspect that a lot of you may come back even four years after that.  You guys have done a great job, and what an extraordinary achievement it is for all of you to have represented the United States of America at our Olympic and Paralympic Games. 
Congratulations.  Good job.  (Applause.) 
END
3:15 P.M. EDT   



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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Remarks by the President at DNC Dinner

Remarks by the President at DNC Dinner

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Private Residence
Chicago, Illinois
7:34 P.M. CDT
April 02, 2014
THE PRESIDENT:  So, first of all, Grace and Craig have been just incredible friends and supporters for a really long time.  And I just want to say thank you.  And thanks, guys, for letting us crash your house.  (Laughter.) 
I do think that the story Grace told is partly about roots and family, and where do you start off.  And I have to tell you, as I look around this room, I’m reminded of all the pieces of myself that are connected to individuals in this room.  There are people who have been friends of mine for a couple of decades now.  There are folks here who have been with me when nobody gave me a chance to even get to the U.S. Senate, much less the presidency.  There are people here who have been to Michelle and my wedding, and have been at Mom N Tots watching our kids waddle around.  (Laughter.) 
And so to have friends like this, to be home like this, even when the weather is like this -- (laughter) -- is invigorating and it reminds you of why you got into this business in the first place.  Because you got a lot of people here who have taught me a lot about community and friendship and family, and for that reason I’m just really grateful and I just want to say thank you to all of you.
I want to acknowledge our outstanding Governor of the great state of Illinois, Pat Quinn.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Henry Muñoz, who, although stuffed in a corner at the moment -- (laughter) -- actually has been working tirelessly on behalf of Democrats.  It is a thankless job, but he does it with good humor and grace, and he is a great friend, so we’re so glad that he came up here.
I was a little bit late.  Some of you may have heard there was another shooting at Fort Hood.  We don’t know the details, but we’re monitoring the situation carefully.  So I’m not going to give a long speech.  I want to spend most of the time that I’m here answering questions and hearing from all of you.
Let me just say a couple of general points.  First of all, the economy has bounced back in a way that is not only there yet, but, when you compare it to what’s happened in other countries around the world, is pretty significant.  We have seen 8.7 million new jobs created since I took office.  We have seen a creation -- the recovery of trillions of dollars of wealth because people’s 401(k)s have bounced back, and housing prices have begun to bounce back.  The unemployment rate is lower than at any time since 2007.  Health care costs are rising at a slower rate.  Our energy production is up.  Our exports are on pace potentially to double.  There’s a lot of good stuff going on.  Our manufacturing base has, after a couple of decades of sloughing off jobs, is now actually hiring folks back again.  And obviously the auto industry has come roaring back.
So there’s a good story to tell.  But, as I said at the State of the Union, there’s some long-term trends in our economy that we have not yet fixed.  And what it comes down to is the fact that, in part because of globalization, in part because of technology, but also in part because of some long-term government policies, we have an economy now in which folks at the very top are doing very, very well, but folks in the middle haven’t seen their incomes or wages go up in a very long time.  And folks who are fighting to get into the middle class find that there are fewer and fewer ladders of opportunity.
And that is a problem for all us, even if you’re doing well -- because the premise in this country has always been that we grow best when our growth is broad-based, when everybody has got a shot; when Grace’s parents come here and they’re able to, through hard work and responsibility and transmitting values to their kids, they’re able to succeed.  And one of the great things about Chicago is, is that although folks usually didn’t come here right first -- they tended to go through one of the coasts typically -- this is a city of immigrants.  And the story of Chicago has been starting off with nothing and building something.  And when I look throughout this room, it’s filled with people who lived out that story.
And I want to make sure that story is true for the next generation and the generation after that, and the generation after that -- because that is what makes America great.  Obviously in the news lately has been the whole situation in Ukraine and Russia.  And I’ve had to explain to people, Russia’s  moving troops into Ukraine wasn’t a sign of strength; it was a sign of weakness.  Because you’ve got a country that isn’t attracting people from the outside; a population that’s shrinking.  It feels surrounded, in part because people look at the West and they look at Europe and they look at America and they say this is a place where, if we put in effort, without connections, without being born to the right place, without having to pay a bribe, we might be able to succeed.  Whether it’s setting up a cheesecake business -- (laughter) -- or it is going into the helping professions, we can succeed.  And we have to make sure that that continues for the next generation.
Now, the good news is we know how to do it.  It’s not as if there’s a mystery here.  We know that if we invest in early childhood education then every kid can succeed.  We know that if we make college affordable then this could be the best-trained workforce in the country.  We know that if we rebuild our infrastructure, we can put people to work right now rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our sewer systems, our airports, our ports, setting up smart grids.  There are a bunch of folks that right away could get to work and suddenly they’ve got money in their pockets and they’d be spending that money on businesses all across Chicago, all across the country.
We know that we have to invest in research and development.  We know that immigration reform isn’t just good for the families but it keeps on bringing dynamic, energized folks to our country.  It’s one of our biggest comparative advantages to other countries, including Europe and Asia, is that we’ve got a relatively young population, because folks who are hungry keep on wanting to come here and it keeps our economy vibrant.
And we know that when we pay workers a living wage, when we make sure that women are getting paid the same as men, when they’ve got decent benefits, when they have the financial security of having health insurance so they don’t go bankrupt when they get sick, we know all those things make people more productive and the entire economy grows.
So we know what to do.  The problem is right now Congress isn’t willing or capable of doing it.  And that’s why you being here tonight is so important and why even though I promised Michelle that 2012 was going to be my last campaign, actually this one is my last campaign.  (Laughter.)
We need to hang on to the Senate.  We need to pick up seats in the House.  We need to make sure that the public knows very clearly what is at stake in this election.  And it’s hard during midterms, because Democrats have a tendency to get really excited during presidential years and then during the midterms we go into hibernation. 
And that’s why you being here tonight is so important. That’s why what’s Henry is doing is so important.  And that’s why we’re so grateful for what Grace and Craig are doing is so important.  Because our agenda, our values, the things that we care about -- things, by the way, that the majority of Americans by and large agree with up and down the line -- can only happen if we’ve got a Congress that is prepared to work, to engage constructively in debate and have some differences, but also say there are some things that go beyond politics.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  And that’s why all of you being here tonight is something I truly, truly appreciate -- in addition to just seeing some old friends. 
Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)
END
7:45 P.M. CDT


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Remarks by the President on the Shooting at Fort Hood

Remarks by the President on the Shooting at Fort Hood

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Chicago Cut Steakhouse Chicago, Illinois

6:46 P.M. CDT
April 02, 2014
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  I just got off the phone with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sandy Winnefeld to get the latest report on the situation in Fort Hood.  Obviously we’re following it closely.  The situation is fluid right now.  But my national security team is in close contact with not just the Defense Department but the FBI.  They are working with folks on the ground to determine exactly what happened to make sure that everybody is secure.  And I want to just assure all of us that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. 
Any shooting is troubling.  Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.  We know these families.  We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.  Obviously our thoughts and prayers were -- are with the entire community.  And we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the community at Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with the current situation, but also any potential aftermath.
We're heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.  And I don't want to comment on the facts until I know exactly what has happened, but for now, I would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community at Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers.  The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom.  Many of the people there have been on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They serve with valor; they serve with distinction. And when they’re at their home base they need to feel safe.  We don't yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again.  And we're going to have to find out exactly what happened.
The Pentagon will undoubtedly have further briefings for you as we get more details [about what happened.]
Thanks, everybody.



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Remarks by the First Lady at Sixth Annual Kitchen Garden Planting





Remarks by the First Lady at Sixth Annual Kitchen Garden Planting

The White House
Office of the First Lady
White House Kitchen Garden
3:37 P.M. EDT
April 02, 2014
MRS. OBAMA:  Hey, people!  Little people and big people.  How are you guys?  This is the sixth annual planting of the White House kitchen garden -- six times we’ve done this over six years.  Pretty amazing, huh?
STUDENTS:  Yes.
MRS. OBAMA:  So guess what we’re doing differently this year?  We are going to plant something called a pollinator garden.  Did you hear about this?
STUDENTS:  Yes.
MRS. OBAMA:  So just for the folks at home who have not heard about a pollinator, but a pollinator garden helps to encourage the production of bees and monarch butterflies.  And why do we need to do that?  You guys -- just yell it out.
STUDENT:  Because they pollinate the plants.
MRS. OBAMA:  They pollinate the plants, they help the plants grow.  But why do we need to help bees and butterflies -- what’s happening to them?  Yell it out.  They’re dying because of disease -- we don’t even know why some beehives are just totally disappearing.  But that could be a problem for the planet because if you don’t have insects and great pollinators to pollinate the plants, it could affect our food source, it could affect our ability to continue to grow things.  And that would be a problem.
So this garden is going to help to contribute to improving that problem.  So we’re going to plant all kinds of flowers that attract bees and butterflies, which is not going to make the Obama girls happy because they don’t really like bees.  But bees are good.  Bees are a good thing.  So you guys are going to help do that, and that’s the first time we’ve done a pollinator garden.  Pretty cool, huh? 
All right, well, let me welcome you guys who are here so we get good shoutouts from all the schools that are participating, okay.  So when I say your school name, I want to hear it.  All right?  If you really love your school, then you’ll hear it -- we’ve got schools that have been here every single year. 
We’ve got Bancroft.  (Applause.)  Bancroft!  (Laughter.)  Another longstanding school partner, we have Harriet Tubman.  (Applause.)  Tubman, yes!  And we’ve got Kimball Elementary School.  (Applause.)  Now, the teachers, you all could help, too.  Where are the -- you guys, come on. 
And we have a couple of new schools this year.  We’ve got the Cleveland Elementary School.  (Applause.)
STUDENT:  Yeah!
MRS. OBAMA:  All right!  (Applause.)  See, that’s new.  They've never been here before, so they’re still excited.  And then we’ve got Friendship Public Charter School.  (Applause.)  Yay!  Very exciting. 
But we also have some special friends from the FoodCorps -- let’s hear it for the FoodCorps.  (Applause.)  Now, the FoodCorps are near and dear to my heart because they’re an AmeriCorps national service program.  And before I became First Lady, I ran an AmeriCorps program called Public Allies. 
But what these young people do -- young people.  You guys are getting old compared to these guys.  (Laughter.)  Young compared to me.  But you guys take a year, right, and spend a year either after college, during college, after college, and they spend it in a community, in a school helping you guys understand the importance of healthy eating and knowing what good food is and helping you plant gardens in your schools and in your communities, right?  You’re helping to spread that knowledge about why eating fresh fruits and vegetables is so important -- so important that they have dedicated a year of their life to making that happen.  They’re going to be helping out today.  Thank you guys so much.  Thanks for your service and your efforts.  It really makes a difference.  The whole notion of getting out there and teaching healthy habits for our kids is brilliant, and we’re grateful.  And welcome here to the White House.  (Applause.)  Yay! 
And we’ve got our White House team, our crew who is here.  (Applause.)  Our crew, our chefs who -- they are so invested in this garden, because they use the garden every day.  They pull things out of that garden every day, they put it on our plates and we eat it for dinner and they serve it at big state dinners.  So the garden is very important to them, which is why they always come down and make sure that you guys do it right. 
Yes?
Q  -  Where are you from?
MRS. OBAMA:  Where am I from?  Chicago.  Good question.  (Laughter.)  All right, you guys.  So I think we’re ready.  Sam -- and then we have Sam Kass.  Have you guys met Sam? 
All right, so you guys have your jobs.  You’ve got your assignments.  All right, well, let’s get to work.  Let’s move!  Let’s move!  (Applause.) 
END
3:43 P.M. EDT



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Remarks by the President on Minimum Wage - University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Remarks by the President on Minimum Wage -- Ann Arbor, MI

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2:52 P.M. EDT
April 02, 2014
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Michigan!  (Applause.)  Go Blue!  (Applause.)  This is a good-looking crowd.  (Applause.)  Just happy to be out of class.  (Applause.)  I'm sure that's not true. I'm sure these are all outstanding students.  (Applause.)  Good to see you.
First of all, give Mira a big round of applause for the great introduction.  (Applause.)  I want to say thanks to your president, Mary Sue Coleman, for her years of outstanding leadership here at Michigan.  (Applause.)  We’ve got a few other Michigan leaders who are here today.  We've got Congressman John Conyers.  (Applause.)  We've got Congressman Gary Peters.  (Applause.)  We've got your mayor, John Hieftje.  (Applause.)   Former Congressman Mark Schauer.  (Applause.)  Your Congressman, the legendary John Dingell, could not make it, but his wife Debbie is here.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)
  
Now, most importantly I know to all of you, we’ve got some Wolverines in the house here.  (Applause.)  We've got Greg Robinson III.  (Applause.)  We've got Jordan Morgan.  (Applause.) We've got Big Ten Player of the Year, Nik Stauskas.  (Applause.) And we've got quarterback, Devin Gardner.  (Applause.)  These guys were outstanding this year.  Give them a bigger round of applause than that.  (Applause.)
You guys had a great run.  That last game was as good of a game as we've seen the entire season.  I know you wish that that turned out a little bit later -- if you’d had five more seconds, it would have been helpful.  (Laughter.)  But I wanted to congratulate the coach, Coach Beilein, and the team for a great season.  (Applause.) 
And I understand that Jordan wanted me to talk about my bracket.  (Laughter.)  My bracket is a mess.  (Laughter.)  I've learned my lesson -- I will not pick against the Wolverines.  (Applause.)  It's not going to happen.  This is the problem with doing these brackets -- people just trash-talk you non-stop.  (Laughter.)  It's terrible. 
And I think it's worth mentioning, I want to congratulate Jordan for playing more games at Michigan than any other player in history -- not only earning an undergraduate degree in engineering -- (applause) -- pursuing a graduate degree in engineering as well.  That's the kind of student athlete we're talking about.  (Applause.)
Now, do some of you guys have chairs?  Because if you’ve got chairs, feel free to sit down.  But if you don't, don't sit down, because I don't want you getting hurt. 
Before I came here today, I stopped at Zingerman’s, which is the -- (applause) -- which is the right thing to do when you're in Ann Arbor.  (Laughter.)  I stopped for two reasons.  The first is the Reuben is killer.  (Laughter.)  So I ordered like the small -- (laughter) -- and it didn’t look that small.  So I gave half to Valerie Jarrett, who’s traveling with us.  And then after I finished the half, I wanted the half back.  (Laughter.)  But it was too late.  All she had left was the pickle.  (Laughter.)  So I took the pickle.  (Laughter.)
So one of the reasons I went was because the sandwiches are outstanding.  The second reason, though, is Zingerman’s is a business that treats its workers well, and rewards honest work with honest wages.  (Applause.)  And that’s worth celebrating.  And that’s what I’m here to talk about today:   How do we rebuild an economy that creates jobs and opportunities for every American?  And I want to focus on something a lot of people in Michigan are working very hard to accomplish right now, and that is raising the minimum wage to help more folks get ahead.  (Applause.) 
Now, here’s the context.  Our economy is doing better.  It’s growing.  Our businesses are creating jobs -- 8.7 million new jobs over the past four years.  (Applause.)  Our manufacturing sector, which had been losing jobs throughout the ‘90s and throughout the -- what do you call it -- aughts?  (Laughter.)  You know, the 2000 to 2010, whatever you call that.  (Laughter.)
But manufacturing had been losing jobs -- about a third of manufacturing had lost -- and obviously that hit Michigan really hard.  But we’re now seeing the manufacturing sector add jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  So that is good news.  (Applause.) 
The housing market is recovering.  Obviously the stock market has recovered, which means people’s 401(k)s, if they have them, are doing a lot better. 
Troops that were fighting two wars, they’re coming home.  (Applause.)   We just went through the first month since 2003 where no U.S. soldier was killed in either Afghanistan or Iraq.  (Applause.)
Today you’ve got companies looking to invest in the U.S. instead of sending jobs overseas.  They want to create more jobs and invest right here in the United States.  We’re more competitive.  We’re more productive. 
Oh, and by the way, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  (Applause.)  That’s a lot of people -- 7.1.  That’s enough to fill up The Big House 65 times.  (Applause.)  And by the way, that doesn’t count the more than 3 million young people who have been able to stay on their parents’ plans.  (Applause.) So we have seniors here who graduate and then it may take a couple months to find a job, or you’re doing an internship or something that does not provide health care, you’re going to be covered until you get that job that actually provides health insurance.  So it provides you the kind of protection you need.  (Applause.) 
So that’s the good news.  We fought back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  We’ve laid the foundation for America’s future growth.  But here’s the problem:  There’s been a long-term trend that has really been hitting middle-class folks and folks trying to get into the middle class, and that’s been going on since before most of you were born.  The economy increasingly has folks at the top doing really well, but then middle-class families, people who are struggling to get into the middle class, they’re working harder, but their wages, their incomes aren’t going up. 
And we’re a better country than that.  In America, we do not believe in opportunity just for the few.  We believe that everybody should have a chance at success.  Everybody.  (Applause.)  And we believe our economy grows best not from the top down, but from the middle out, and from the bottom up.  (Applause.)  And we want to make sure that no matter where you’re born, what circumstances, how you started out, what you look like, what your last name is, who you love -- it doesn’t matter, you can succeed.  That’s what we believe.  (Applause.)
We believe that what matters is the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams and our willingness to take responsibility for ourselves, but also for ourselves.  That's what America is about.  That’s the promise that this country is built on.  And for the sake of your generation, we got to make sure that that continues to be the case; that that’s not just something we’re nostalgic about; that that’s something that we project out into the future. 
So I had a State of the Union a while back and I laid out a four-part Opportunity Agenda to make sure everybody has a shot.  And that starts with something I know graduating seniors are thinking about:  More good jobs paying good wages; jobs in high-tech and manufacturing and energy and innovation.  And there are things we can do to create jobs -- rebuilding our infrastructure in this country, investing in R&D, closing wasteful loopholes that don't create jobs.  So we’re providing tax breaks to companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States. Those are things we can do right now.
Opportunity means training more Americans for the skills needed to fill those jobs.  We got to make sure everybody is ready with the skills they need.  Not everybody is going to be lucky enough to be a Wolverine and graduate from Michigan.  (Applause.)  But everybody can get a good, solid base so that they can have a job and a career.
Opportunity means guaranteeing every young people access to a world-class education, and that's got to start with pre-K, all the way through higher education.  (Applause.)  And it means making college more affordable.  (Applause.) 
Some of you may not know this, but before a lot of you even entered college, we took on the student loan system.  It was giving billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks to serve as middlemen in the student loan process.  We said, why do we need the banks?  We cut them out.  We used the savings that were generated, billions of dollars, to expand the grants that help millions of low-income students pay for college.  And we’re offering millions of students who are graduating the chance to cap monthly student loan payments at 10 percent of your income.  (Applause.)
This is something you need to talk to your counselors about, especially if you’re going into teaching or social work, or other professions where it’s a passion but you’re not going to be an investment banker salary situation.  So make sure you find out about this.  You can cap -- I mean, I know Stauskas has got the contract coming up, so he’ll -- (laughter) -- he doesn't have to worry about these things.  But I’m saying later -- I’m not telling him to leave.  (Laughter.)  I wasn’t editorializing on that.  (Laughter.)
My point is we got to make sure that everybody can afford to do things that may not pay huge sums of money but are really valuable to society.
And the good news is more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  But we’ve still got to do more work to rein in tuition costs.  I talked to your president about this. And we got to help more students who are trapped by student loan debt -- because this country cannot afford striving young people to be priced out of a higher education.  Everybody has got to be able to afford it.  (Applause.)
Finally, opportunity means rewarding the hard work of every American -- not just some Americans, every American.  That means making sure that folks are paid equal for doing equal work.  (Applause.)  I do not want my daughters paid less than somebody else’s sons for doing the same job.  (Applause.)
It means making sure that there are decent benefits and, at minimum, that every American has access to quality, affordable health insurance.  It means paychecks and wages that allow you to support a family. 
All of which brings me back to this issue of the minimum wage, giving America a raise.  Now, raising the minimum wage is not going to solve all of our economic challenges.  The majority of folks who are working get paid more than the minimum wage.  As Americans we understand that some people will earn more than others.  But here’s one thing we do believe:  Nobody who works full-time should be raising their family in poverty, right?  (Applause.)  If you’re working, if you’re responsible, you should be able to pay the rent, pay the bills.  (Applause.)
But that's what’s happening right now.  All across the country, you can work full-time on the minimum wage and still be in poverty.  And that’s why, in the year since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, we’ve seen six states on their own pass laws to raise their minimum wage.  Last week, Connecticut became the first state in the country to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  (Applause.)  Congratulations, Connecticut. 
You’ve got more states and counties and cities that are working to raise their minimum wage as we speak.  That includes your state legislators from Ann Arbor -- Adam Zemke and Jeff Irwin -- who are trying to raise it here in Michigan.  (Applause.)  We’re proud of them.  Stand up, guys.  Come on.  There they are.  (Applause.)  See, I used to be in the state legislature, so I was kind of partial to -- (laughter.)
But raising wages is not just a job for organizers, it’s not just a job for elected officials, it’s also a job for business.  It was here in Michigan 100 years ago that Henry Ford announced he was doubling his workers’ wages.  And at the time, some of his fellow business leaders thought he had lost his mind.  But Henry Ford understood it was going to be good for business.  Not only did it boost productivity, not only did it reduce turnover, not only did it make employees more loyal to the company, but it meant that the workers could afford to buy the cars that they were building.  (Applause.)  So you were building -- so by paying your workers more, you were building your own market for your products. 
And hugely successful companies today, like Costco, they take the same approach.  And it’s not just big businesses; small businesses, too.  In my State of the Union address, I called on more business leaders to boost their employees’ wages, give them a fair wage.  And since then, you’ve seen businesses across the country -- small ones, like an ice cream parlor in Florida, to a marketing agency in Georgia, to a pizzeria in St. Louis -- they’ve all said, you know what, this is the right thing to do. 
Recently, the Gap decided to raise its base wages, and that benefited about 65,000 workers in the United States -- and it led me to go shopping at Gap.  (Laughter and applause.)  Some of you may have seen the very attractive sweaters that I purchased for my daughters.  (Laughter.)  They have not worn them yet, so if they’re listening, make me feel good, just wear it one time.  (Laughter.) 
Now, Zingerman’s does not have as many workers as the Gap, obviously, but they try to do right by each and every one of them.  You’ve got some big businesses who go to Washington to lobby for special treatment for themselves.  So one of Zingerman’s owners, Paul Saginaw, flew to D.C. to lobby for his workers, to lobby for better treatment for workers through a higher minimum wage.  (Applause.)  That’s the kind of folks who are running Zingerman’s. 
Then afterwards, he held a sandwich summit here in Ann Arbor to help build support for Michigan’s minimum wage going up.  And Paul’s point is simple:  Fair wages and higher profits are not mutually exclusive; they can go hand-in-hand.  That’s what Henry Ford understood.  And Paul opened Zingerman’s doors 32 years ago last month so he knows a little bit about business.  But he and business owners like him believe higher wages are good for the bottom line. 
I happen to believe the same thing.  So I decided several months ago that the federal government should follow their lead. And so I issued an executive order that requires federal contractors, folks who are doing business with the government, to pay their employees on new contracts a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour.  It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.) 
And I’m determined to do my part to lift wages, improve take-home pay any way I can.  My attitude is if you cook our troops’ meals, you wash their dishes, your country should pay you a living wage.  (Applause.)
Now, here’s the challenge.  What Zingerman’s can do on its own, what even I can do as the head of the executive branch of the federal government, that doesn’t reach everybody.  If we’re going to do right by our fellow Americans, we need Congress to get onboard.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to have Congress to get onboard.  We’ve got to have state legislators to get onboard.  (Applause.)  Because even though we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, we’re creating more good-paying jobs in education and health care and business services, there are always going to be folks who do critical work, who bust their tails every day -- airport workers, restaurant workers, and hospital workers, and retail salespeople -- who deserve an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.  They’re doing necessary jobs -- they should be able to make a living.
So right now there is a bill before Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  It’s easy to remember:  10-10.  10-10.  Passing this bill would not just raise wages for minimum-wage workers; it would help lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans, including nearly a million people right here in Michigan.  It would lift millions of people out of poverty right away.  It would help millions more work their way out of poverty right away.  (Applause.)
It wouldn’t require any new taxes.  It doesn’t require new spending.  It doesn’t require new bureaucracy.  But what it would do is help those families and give businesses more customers with more money to spend.  And it would help grow the economy for everybody.
So you would think this would be a no-brainer.  Politically, you’d think that folks would be rushing to do this.  Nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage -- nearly three in four.  Here’s the problem.  Republicans in Congress -- not Republicans out in America, because some of them get paid the minimum wage, so they want to see it raised -- Republicans in Congress don’t want to vote to raise it at all.  In fact, some want to just scrap the minimum wage.  One House Republican said, “It’s outlived its usefulness.”
AUDIENCE:  Booo --
THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s what he said. 
AUDIENCE PARTICIPANT:  Booo --
THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo, organize.  (Applause.)  That’s what you need to do, because they may not hear the boos, but they can read a petition and they can see votes.  (Applause.)
You’ve got some Republicans saying we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage because -- they said this -- because, well, it just helps young people.  Now, first of all, I think it’s pretty good to help young people.  (Applause.)  I don’t know what’s wrong with helping young people.  Folks who say that, next thing you know they’ll say, “Get off my lawn.”  (Laughter.)  I think it’s okay to help young people.  
But the fact is most people who would benefit from a higher minimum wage are not teenagers taking on their first job.  The average age of folks getting paid the minimum wage is 35.  A majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women.  Many of them work full-time, often to support a family. 
And, by the way, what’s wrong with helping young people get ahead?  (Laughter.)  Mira puts herself through college on a base wage of less than $3 an hour, because she’s working in a restaurant.  She works hard -- she does.  So we should be making it easier for your generation to gain a foothold on the ladder of opportunity.  We shouldn’t be making it harder.
Now, the truth is the Republicans’ refusal so far to raise the minimum wage is pretty consistent with their general worldview -- (laughter) -- which says -- it says basically you’re on your own; government doesn’t have a role to play in making sure that the marketplace is working for everybody. 
 
Just yesterday, Republicans in Congress put forward a budget for the country that I believe would shrink opportunity for your generation.  It starts by giving a massive tax cut to households making more than $1 million a year, the very folks who’ve benefited the most over the last 20 years from this economy that is benefiting people at the top.  Then, so they don’t blow a hole in the deficit, they’d have to raise taxes on middle-class families with kids.  Then they’d force deep cuts to the investments that help our economy grow, like research and clean energy, and investments in middle-class families, like education and job training.
When they put these budgets together, usually they don’t tell you exactly what they’d cut because they know you wouldn’t like it, so you have to kind of do the math.  But compared to my budget, if they cut everything evenly in the amount that they’re talking about, within a few years about 170,000 kids would get cut from early childhood education.  About 200,000 new moms and children would get cut off from the programs that help them to get healthy food.  Funding for 21,000 special education teachers would be cut off.  And if they wanted to make smaller cuts in any of these -- in any one of these areas, they’d have to make bigger cuts in others.  It even cuts Pell grants, which makes it harder for students to pay for a college education. 
Now, to give them credit, they do have one original idea, which is to repeal Obamacare -- (laughter) -- because they haven’t tried that 50 times.  (Applause.)  Fifty times they’ve tried to do that.  (Laughter.)  So that means they would take away health coverage not only for more than 7 million Americans who’ve done the responsible thing, signed up, bought health care for themselves and their families, but for the 3 million young adults who’ve been able to stay on their parents’ plan under this law.  What I just told you about being able to stay on your parent’s plan -- the Republicans don’t like that. 
And their budget guts the rules we put in place to protect middle-class families from another financial crisis like the one that we’ve endured.  So if this all sounds familiar, it should be familiar because it was their economic plan in the 2012 campaign, it was their economic plan in 2010.  It’s like that movie Groundhog Day -- (laughter) -- except it’s not funny.  (Applause.)  If they tried to sell this sandwich at Zingerman’s, they’d have to call it the Stinkburger, or the Meanwich.  (Laughter and applause.)
 Look, here’s the truth.  They’re not necessarily cold-hearted, they just sincerely believe that if we give more tax breaks to a fortunate few and we invest less in the middle class, and we reduce or eliminate the safety net for the poor and the sick, and we cut food stamps, and we cut Medicaid, and we let banks and polluters and credit card companies and insurers do only what’s best for their bottom line without the responsibility to the rest of us, then somehow the economy will boom, and jobs and prosperity will trickle down to everybody. 
And when I say it that way, I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating -- except I’m not.  This is their theory.  They’re pretty unabashed about it.  And it’s not a new theory.  They’ve held it for decades, through good times and bad.  They were making the same argument against FDR when he was setting up Social Security.
 And, look, it does create opportunity for a handful of people who are already doing really, really well.  But we believe in opportunity for everybody.  More good jobs for everybody.  More workers to fill those jobs.  (Applause.)  A world-class education for everybody.  Hard work that pays off with wages you can live on and savings you can retire on and health care you can count on.  That’s what “opportunity for all” means.  (Applause.) That’s what it means.  
 Now, next week, members of Congress have a fresh chance to show which side they’re on.  They’re going to get a yes or no vote on raising the minimum wage all across this country.  And they’ve got to make a clear choice:  Talk the talk about valuing hardworking families, or walk the walk and actually value hardworking families.  (Applause.)  You’ve got a choice.  You can give America the shaft, or you can give it a raise.  (Applause.)
 Here in Michigan, your Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow -- (applause) -- your Representatives, John Dingell and John Conyers and Gary Peters, they are already onboard.  But every American deserves to know where their elected representatives stand on this choice.  So those of you -- if you’re going back home for spring break or something or -- did that already happen, spring break? 
 AUDIENCE:  Yes!
THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry.  (Laughter.)  Everybody is all, aw, yeah.  (Laughter.)  Well, I hope you had a good time.  (Laughter.)  But if you have the chance to talk to a congressman who’s not supporting it, you need to ask him, do you support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour?  If they say yes, then you should say thank you -- (laughter) -- because elected officials do not hear that very often.  When they do the right thing, you should reward them. 
 AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, President Obama!
 THE PRESIDENT:  You’re welcome.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
 Now, if they say no, you shouldn’t yell at them.  Be polite.  Ask them why not.  Ask them to reconsider.  Tell them to join the rest of the country.  For once, instead of just saying no, say yes.  It’s time for $10.10.  It’s time to give America a raise.
 And as I’m looking out at all of you I’m reminded, four years ago I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address at the university, over in the big stadium.  (Applause.) And I said our democracy, it's always been noisy, it’s always been messy.  We have big arguments.  But in the end, we’ve always had the ability to look past our differences and our disagreements and forge a common future.  And we’ve got common values -- hard work, responsibility, pursuing your individual dreams. 
 What the argument is right now about is whether we also affirm the values that make sure we’ve giving everybody a chance; making sure our fellow citizens can also pursue their dreams; that we’re not just looking out for ourselves all the time, but we’re also looking out for the person next to you.  That's also what America is about.  That's what we have to do again.
 We’ve got more jobs to create.  We’ve got more kids to educate.  We’ve got more clean energy to create.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more troops to bring home.  We got more veterans to care for.  We got an immigration system we got to fix.  (Applause.)  We got to build a middle class.  We got to give opportunity for everybody who strives for it.  We got to make sure everybody -- black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, with or without a disability, folks in the inner city, folks outside the borders of the city -- everybody has got a chance.  (Applause.)   America is a place for everybody.  That's what we’re fighting for.  That's what I need you to go out there and talk about.  (Applause.)
 Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)
END
3:26 P.M. EDT



* * *  Support Warriors Pearl Foundation - contributing to fund efforts to help homeless female military veterans come home.  Visit Denny Lyon Gifts  @ CafePress.com  -  see what's new!  


Subscribe in a reader to Dennys Global Politics

* Check out Dennys News Politics Comedy Science Arts & Food - a place where all my other 20 blogs link so you can choose from among the latest posts all in one place. A free to read online newspaper from independent journalist blogger Denny Lyon. * 

*** THANKS for visiting, feel welcome to drop a comment or opinion, enjoy bookmarking this post on your favorite social site, a big shout out to awesome current subscribers – and if you are new to this blog, please subscribe in a reader or by email updates!

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