Saturday, September 29, 2012

‘Turbo rocket’ violinist impressive in Kansas City Symphony’s season-opening concert

Review from the Kansas City Star from last night's KC Symphony concert:

‘Turbo rocket’ violinist impressive in Kansas City Symphony’s season-opening concert

By TIMOTHY L. MCDONALD
Special to The Star
Opening night for the Kansas City Symphony's Classical Series is always something of a celebration, and Friday night's concert at the Kauffman Center was no exception.

Granted, the event did not carry quite the level of excitement and hoopla as last year's opener: it was after all the premier season in the new facility. Still, the excited chatter outside Helzberg Hall before the concert attested to an audience eager to begin.

After a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the concert opened with Finding Rothko, by Adam Schoenberg, the symphony's resident composer for 2012-13. Born in 1980, Schoenberg is a faculty member at UCLA and was educated at New York's Juilliard School and at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Based on four paintings by Russian-born artist Mark Rothko, the composition was a fine choice for the orchestra's season-long theme of Symphonic Pictures.

Finding Rothko opened with gentle, consonant chords. Haunting wind and reed lines played over sustained strings punctuated by percussion. The second movement intensified in rhythm, while the third movement contained a heightened sense of drama and a vibrant palette of tonal colors. Like the opening, the finale featured effervescent strings..

Music director Michael Stern identified violinist Vadim Gluzman as "a turbo rocket not to be denied." While the ensuing performance certainly justified the description, the opening movement started off a bit rocky. Gluzman demonstrated pyrotechnic brilliance in the rapid passages and myriad technical challenges. The melodic themes, however, lacked warmth at the outset, and the soloist occasionally exhibited a scratchy tone.

Things improved during and after the impressive first-movement cadenza, leading the audience to leap to its feet with applause.

All was forgiven with the lyrically rich second movement. Stern followed Gluzman's fluid, flexible rhythms, with very satisfying delayed downbeats.

While the first movement employed rapid, driving tempos, the finale was simply astounding — probably the fastest rendition I have ever heard. This led to occasional synchronization problems with the orchestra. Nevertheless, the dizzying tempos were exciting, and Gluzman exhibited enough energy to light a large metropolis.

Modest Mussorgsky's classic Pictures at an Exhibition concluded the concert. Like Schoenberg's composition, Mussorgsky's is based on visual art — in this case an exhibition of paintings in 19th century Moscow by Viktor Hartmann. Sections of the work represent paintings and the familiar "Promenade" theme portrays the viewer's walk between one artwork and the next.

Trumpeter Gary Schutza played the opening solo with bell-like clarity. The orchestra effectively captured the variety of images, from the foreboding and mysterious “Gnomus” to the delightful “Ballet of Little Chicks in their Shells.” The finale, “The Great Gate of Kiev” was bold and triumphant.

Stern proclaimed “we’re in a Russian mood” and led the orchestra in a boisterous and rollicking rendition of the "Dance of the Tumblers” from Tchaikovsky’s The Snow Maiden.

The program will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Helzberg Hall.

© 2012 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansascity.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Sheer Hypocrisy From The GOP

September 24, 2012 In this MegaVote for Missouri's 5th Congressional District:

Recent Senate Votes
Veterans Job Training – Motion to Waive - Vote Rejected (58-40, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate spent much of last week working on this bill that would have created a so-called jobs corps to assist Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in finding post-service employment. After invoking cloture on a motion to proceed to the bill, a substitute amendment by Veterans Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., was introduced. Among other things, the amendment would have required states to issue certain licenses, such as for plumbing or truck driving, to veterans without the normal requirements if eligible applicants had at least 10 years’ experience in related military activities. Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order against the amendment that its costs exceeded the amount of funding allowed under current budgetary limitations. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., then moved to waive the point of order, which would have allowed the amendment to be debated. 60 votes are required to waive budgetary points of order, however, and proponents of the bill fell two votes shy. Sustaining the point of order effectively killed the bill.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Foreign Aid Suspension - Vote Rejected (10-81, 9 Not Voting)

Despite only having one must-pass item to clear before recessing – namely a continuing resolution to keep the government running, the Senate was in session into the wee hours of Saturday morning. This was initially due to the insistence of Rand Paul, R-Ky., on getting a vote for his bill to suspend foreign aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt. Eventually an agreement was reached to hold a vote on the bill, which was soundly defeated due to bipartisan opposition.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Iran Nuclear Threat - Vote Agreed to (90-1, 9 Not Voting)

This resolution from Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would reaffirm U.S. opposition to the Iranian nuclear program and states that the current regime of diplomacy and sanctions must continue until Iran meets certain benchmarks. These benchmarks include suspension of uranium enrichment, compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. The resolution pointedly states that none of its language constitutes an authorization for the use of force. Rand Paul was the lone “nay” vote.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Continuing Resolution - Vote Agreed to (62-30, 8 Not Voting)

After rejecting the Paul foreign aid measure and passing the Graham Iran resolution, the Senate was able to take up the continuing resolution that would fund government operations for the next six months at more or less flat levels (funding would increase by 0.6 percent for most programs.)

Sen. Roy Blunt voted YES......send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES......send e-mail or see bio
Recent House Votes Student Loan Exemption for Deceased Veterans – Suspension - Vote Passed (400-0, 29 Not Voting)

This bill, passed under suspension of the rules and therefore requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, would exempt student loan debt from gross taxable income for veterans who die as the result of a service-related disability. Loan forgiveness would be back-dated to October 7, 2001, and families/survivors of the deceased would have up to one year after enactment of the bill to file for refunds. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Public Funding for Political Conventions – Suspension - Vote Passed (310-95, 24 Not Voting)

Another suspension bill would prohibit the use of monies in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for financing presidential nomination conventions, e.g. the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Under current law each major party is entitled to $4 million to stage their conventions and minor parties are entitled to an amount proportionate to their popular vote percentage in the previous election. An earlier House bill passed last December (Roll Call 873) would have eliminated the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, and thus the public financing of elections entirely. Unlike that measure, which was unanimously opposed by Democrats, the more modest bill passed last week attracted about half of all Democrats voting as well as all Republicans. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has introduced a companion measure with bipartisan support in the Senate.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Welfare Work Requirements – Disapproval Resolution - Vote Passed (250-164, 15 Not Voting)

The issue of welfare was a persistent theme in the presidential campaign for months – with the Republican nominee Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of removing work requirements from the program and allowing people to collect money with no strings attached. At issue was a July 12 memorandum issued by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which oversees the welfare program, whose technical name is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The memo laid out a proposed waiver program for states that meet certain requirements for boosting TANF employment goals. Republicans claim that HHS does not have the waiver authority it claims in the memo, and that the proposal should have been formally submitted to Congress since it amounts to an agency rulemaking. The latter assertion was supported by a Government Accountability Office report. Partisans on both sides have either decried or supported the waiver proposal, including the two chief architects of 1990s welfare reform, former President Clinton and former Speaker Newt Gingrich. The action taken by the House last week would repeal the move by HHS. In order for the repeal to become law, however, a similar resolution would have to pass the Senate and be signed by the president, both highly unlikely.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

STEM Visa Program - Suspension - Vote Failed (257-158, 14 Not Voting)

Immigration has always been a partisan battleground, but one area the parties seemed to have formed agreement in the 112th Congress was on the need to boost immigration by high-skill workers, particularly those in the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R.-Tex., had been working with Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for months on just such a proposal. As with so many bipartisan efforts in the last two years, however, talks foundered. Both chairmen support creating roughly 50,000 visas for graduates of U.S. institutions with advanced degrees in STEM fields. The detail that derailed talks is that Smith wanted those visas to come at the expense of an existing program, the diversity visa lottery, which sets aside slots for people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. Schumer and other Democrats wanted to simply create new slots for the STEM graduates while holding the diversity lottery harmless. Last week Smith and House leadership decided to try their luck on the floor with a suspension vote for Smith’s proposal; it ended up falling 20 votes shy of the two-thirds needed for passage. Given the bipartisan support for the overall idea, it is possible talks could resume in the lame duck session, though the crowded agenda makes any decisive action unlikely before next year.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Manhattan Project National Park – Suspension - Vote Failed (237-180, 12 Not Voting)

Another failed suspension vote came on this bill to set aside federal land in New Mexico, Washington state, and Tennessee for a national park commemorating the Manhattan Project that led to the creation of the atomic bomb. Most suspensions are non-controversial, and Democrats in particular are usually in favor of creating parkland, but opponents of the measure said it would send the wrong message to allies such as Japan, which suffered mass casualties as a result of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The bill fell 41 votes short.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Energy Regulatory Rollback – Passage - Vote Passed (233-175, 21 Not Voting)

The final bill passed by the House before the November elections was a summation of sorts regarding one of Republicans’ core electoral and policy arguments – namely that regulations, particularly those concerning energy production – are hurting the economy. H.R. 3409 is a smorgasbord containing the texts of five different bills, four of which had previously passed the House (Roll Calls 249, 573, 741 and 800, all in 2011). The original bill would prevent the Interior Secretary from issuing any regulations before 2014 that would result in damage to the coal industry, e.g., reductions in coal mining jobs, the amount of coal available for consumption or export, etc. The other proposals would: prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, as well as effectively repeal automobile efficiency standards that would increase gas mileage to 54.5 mpg by 2025; create a cross-agency council for analyzing EPA regulations and their effect on the economy, as well as pre-empting a handful of EPA rules from being finalized and nullifying others already finalized; prevent EPA from regulating coal ash - a byproduct of coal combustion that some states use to make asphalt – instead allowing the states to regulate it as they see fit; and limiting EPA authority over water-quality standards. The Senate will not take up the bill when it returns, and the president has issued a veto threat.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Upcoming Votes
Sportsmen's Act of 2012 - S.3525

Before breaking for recess, the Senate invoked cloture on the motion to proceed to this catch-all bill sponsored by Jon Tester, D-Mont. It would loosen a variety of regulations on hunters and fishermen, particularly regarding their activities on public lands.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Father Speaks Out: Don’t Let My Son Die

From Amnesty International
By Rev. Reynolds Thomas

Next week is very important — you see, it will help determine whether my son will live or die. My son’s name is Reginald Clemons, but we call him Reggie. He has been on Missouri’s death row for about 20 years now. On Monday the 17th, his case will be reviewed by a judge for what could be the last time.

Chances like this don’t happen often and we are grateful for this special opportunity. Before we reach that step, I want you to understand a few things about the case, my son and just how fatal the flaws of the death penalty system can be.

Then I hope you’ll send a letter of support to Reggie — for strength, for compassion, for justice. I’ll give it to him personally before the hearing.

The state of Missouri has accused my son of killing two young women — pushing them into the Mississippi River in April 1991. The pain the family of these two girls has suffered after such a staggering loss is unfathomable. But from the beginning, the case against Reggie has been riddled with grave and glaring problems:

“How can my son be about to lose his life when there is so much so clearly wrong with this case?

First, my sons’ face was so swollen after his interrogation by St. Louis police that the judge arraigning him sent him to the emergency room. Second, not one, not two, but four federal judges have agreed that the prosecutor’s conduct when cross-examining Reggie was “abusive and boorish”. This prosecutor compared my son, who at 19 years old never even had a criminal record, to two convicted serial killers.

Third, I wish race weren’t a factor, but it is a fact that the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim. My son is a black man. The two young women who were killed were white. Add that to the disproportionate dismissal of blacks during jury selection and you get a perfect storm of racial discrimination.

Fourth, and most troubling of all — the state’s only two eye-witnesses included a man who, at one point, confessed to police that he murdered the girls and another who took a plea in exchange for a lighter sentence!

How can my son be about to lose his life when there is so much so clearly wrong with this case?

Reggie Clemons

The support we’ve received over the years from Amnesty International and its members has been such an inspiration. It’s kept us strong, even when fighting a system that has, at times, made us feel weak.

That’s why I’ve invited Amnesty representatives to join me at Monday’s special hearing in Missouri. We want to pack as much positive energy as we can into that courtroom! They’ll bring your messages to me and I will deliver them directly to Reggie. I know it will mean a lot to him.

My son has come within 12 days of execution by lethal injection before. No person should have to endure the cruelty of a looming death sentence.

I’m praying that Monday’s hearing will be our chance to lay all the evidence, facts and flaws out on the table once and for all. I’m praying that your messages of support give him the strength he needs to keep fighting. And most of all, I’m praying that justice is coming for my son, Reggie.

Rev. Reynolds Thomas is the stepfather of Reggie Clemons

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Playing The Blame Game

Frankly I never know who to believe in type of situation. Is it the city? The unions? Teacher strikes are always sort of awkward that way. There's always stories from both sides. The teachers bitch about pay and the city bitches about paying them. Let's sidestep the issue of the paltry amount that our society pays teachers. I come from a family that is chocked full of teachers. My mom, bogth my sisters and older brother have been either full time or part time teachers for years. I actually worked for the chicago public schools academy for professional development a billion years ago so I guess what I,m saying is that there is a familliar ring to this issue. I still don't know which side to come down on. From cnn: Tens of thousands of teachers and support staff in Chicago are set to go on strike Monday after their union and school officials failed to reach a contract agreement, the union president said. "Negotiations have been intense but productive, but we have failed to reach an agreement that would prevent a labor strike," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told reporters late Sunday night. Minutes earlier, the president of Chicago's school board said officials offered the city's teachers a contract including pay increases and other measures they'd requested. "We've been as responsive as we know how," David Vitale told reporters just before 10 p.m. CT (11 p.m. ET) Sunday.

Vitale said the package offered by school officials include effectively guaranteed pay increases for four years, does not include merit pay and offers "some give on the evaluation system." He said that for nearly two hours, he'd tried to but been unable to talk with union president Karen Lewis. "The average teacher will get a 16% raise over that (4-year) period" at a time when the city's fiscal situation is on edge, the school board president said of the offered deal. The looming strike in the nation's third largest school system --the first in 25 years --will affect nearly 700 schools and about 400,000 students, including some from neighborhoods struggling with crime and gang problems. The union itself has about 30,000 members. For them, that would mean the school year would abruptly stop soon after it started: Some students in the district began class on August 13, and more --on a different schedule --started september 4.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Clarification

I am going to say this one last time and then this topic will be banned from my blog. To all you lovelies coming from fb to read my blogpost about my ex, it's not happening. I've decided to delete everything associated with him and block his email block his texts and block him on fb. He continues to post things about me which is fine. We didn't know any mutual people in the first place and we didn't run around in the same circles before and we certainly don't now. Never thought he would descend into this extreme madness but I guess you never really do know about people. Frankly I'm scared for the next guy he comes into a relationship with. God help that guy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TedxKC Panoramic View

So awesome. Panoramic view of Helberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for the TedxKC Conference

Oh Bubba

President Clinton
September 5, 2012

The following is the full text of former President Bill Clinton’s speech on Wednesday from the Democratic National Convention.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Sustained cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Now, Mr. Mayor, fellow Democrats, we are here to nominate a president. (Cheers, applause.) And I’ve got one in mind. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. I want to nominate a man who ran for president to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before his election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression; a man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs that he saved or created, there’d still be millions more waiting, worried about feeding their own kids, trying to keep their hopes alive.

I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside — (cheers, applause) — but who burns for America on the inside. (Cheers, applause.)

I want — I want a man who believes with no doubt that we can build a new American Dream economy, driven by innovation and creativity, but education and — yes — by cooperation. (Cheers.)

And by the way, after last night, I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

You know — (cheers, applause). I — (cheers, applause).

I want — I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) And I proudly nominate him to be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party.

Now, folks, in Tampa a few days ago, we heard a lot of talk — (laughter) — all about how the president and the Democrats don’t really believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everybody to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy.

This Republican narrative — this alternative universe — (laughter, applause) — says that every one of us in this room who amounts to anything, we’re all completely self-made. One of the greatest chairmen the Democratic Party ever had, Bob Strauss — (cheers, applause) — used to say that ever politician wants every voter to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself. (Laughter, applause.) But, as Strauss then admitted, it ain’t so. (Laughter.)

We Democrats — we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it — (cheers, applause) — with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly share prosperity. You see, we believe that “we’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “you’re on your own.” (Cheers, applause.) It is.

So who’s right? (Cheers.) Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs.

So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million). (Cheers, applause.)

Now, there’s — (cheers, applause) — there’s a reason for this. It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics. (Cheers, applause.) Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. (Cheers, applause.) When you stifle human potential, when you don’t invest in new ideas, it doesn’t just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all. (Cheers, applause.) We know that investments in education and infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase growth. They increase good jobs, and they create new wealth for all the rest of us. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, there’s something I’ve noticed lately. You probably have too. And it’s this. Maybe just because I grew up in a different time, but though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president and a lot of other Democrats. I — (cheers, applause) — that would be impossible for me because President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High School. (Cheers, applause.) President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system.

When I was a governor, I worked with President Reagan and his White House on the first round of welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals.

(Cheers, applause.) I’m actually very grateful to — if you saw from the film what I do today, I have to be grateful, and you should be, too — that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries. (Cheers, applause.)

And I have been honored to work with both Presidents Bush on natural disasters in the aftermath of the South Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the horrible earthquake in Haiti. Through my foundation, both in America and around the world, I’m working all the time with Democrats, Republicans and independents. Sometimes I couldn’t tell you for the life who I’m working with because we focus on solving problems and seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time. (Cheers, applause.)

And so here’s what I want to say to you, and here’s what I want the people at home to think about. When times are tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good. But what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. (Cheers, applause.) What works in the real world is cooperation, business and government, foundations and universities.

Ask the mayors who are here. (Cheers, applause.) Los Angeles is getting green and Chicago is getting an infrastructure bank because Republicans and Democrats are working together to get it. (Cheers, applause.) They didn’t check their brains at the door. They didn’t stop disagreeing, but their purpose was to get something done.

Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict?

Because nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. (Cheers, applause.)

And every one of us — every one of us and every one of them, we’re compelled to spend our fleeting lives between those two extremes, knowing we’re never going to be right all the time and hoping we’re right more than twice a day. (Laughter.)

Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy, they’re always right, and compromise is weakness. (Boos.) Just in the last couple of elections, they defeated two distinguished Republican senators because they dared to cooperate with Democrats on issues important to the future of the country, even national security. (Applause.)

They beat a Republican congressman with almost a hundred percent voting record on every conservative score, because he said he realized he did not have to hate the president to disagree with him. Boy, that was a nonstarter, and they threw him out. (Laughter, applause.)

One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation. (Cheers, applause.) Look at his record. Look at his record. (Cheers, applause.) Look at his record. He appointed Republican secretaries of defense, the Army and transportation. He appointed a vice president who ran against him in 2008. (Laughter, applause.) And he trusted that vice president to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the recovery act. (Cheers, applause.)

And Joe Biden — Joe Biden did a great job with both. (Sustained cheers, applause.)

He — (sustained cheers, applause) — President Obama — President Obama appointed several members of his Cabinet even though they supported Hillary in the primary. (Applause.) Heck, he even appointed Hillary. (Cheers, applause.)

Wait a minute. I am — (sustained cheers, applause) — I am very proud of her. I am proud of the job she and the national security team have done for America. (Cheers, applause.) I am grateful that they have worked together to make us safer and stronger, to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m grateful for the relationship of respect and partnership she and the president have enjoyed and the signal that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not have a blood — have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest. (Cheers, applause.)

Now — (sustained cheers, applause) — besides the national security team, I am very grateful to the men and women who’ve served our country in uniform through these perilous times. (Cheers, applause.) And I am especially grateful to Michelle Obama and to Joe Biden for supporting those military families while their loved ones were overseas — (cheers, applause) — and for supporting our veterans when they came home, when they came home bearing the wounds of war or needing help to find education or jobs or housing.

President Obama’s whole record on national security is a tribute to his strength, to his judgment and to his preference for inclusion and partnership over partisanship. We need more if it in Washington, D.C. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, we all know that he also tried to work with congressional Republicans on health care, debt reduction and new jobs. And that didn’t work out so well. (Laughter.) But it could have been because, as the Senate Republican leader said in a remarkable moment of candor two full years before the election, their number one priority was not to put America back to work; it was to put the president out of work. (Mixed cheers and boos, applause.) (Chuckles.) Well, wait a minute. Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we’re going to keep President Obama on the job. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, are you ready for that? (Cheers, applause.) Are you willing to work for it. Oh, wait a minute.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! PRESIDENT CLINTON: In Tampa —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years!

PRESIDENT CLINTON: In Tampa — in Tampa — did y’all watch their convention?

I did. (Laughter.) In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in. (Laughter, applause.)

Now — (cheers, applause) — but they did it well. They looked good; the sounded good. They convinced me that — (laughter) — they all love their families and their children and were grateful they’d been born in America and all that — (laughter, applause) — really, I’m not being — they did. (Laughter, applause.)

And this is important, they convinced me they were honorable people who believed what they said and they’re going to keep every commitment they’ve made. We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitments are — (cheers, applause) — because in order to look like an acceptable, reasonable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they just didn’t say very much about the ideas they’ve offered over the last two years.

They couldn’t because they want to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place. They want to cut taxes for high- income Americans, even more than President Bush did. They want to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts. They want to actually increase defense spending over a decade $2 trillion more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend it on. And they want to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor children.

As another president once said, there they go again.

(Laughter, cheers, applause.)

Now, I like — I like — I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. Here it is. He inherited a deeply damaged economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well- balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, are we where we want to be today? No.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No!

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Is the president satisfied? Of course not.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No!

PRESIDENT CLINTON: But are we better off than we were when he took office? (Cheers, applause.)

And listen to this. Listen to this. Everybody — (inaudible) — when President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in free fall. It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month.

Are we doing better than that today?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes! (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: The answer is yes.

Now, look. Here’s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I’ve been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again. And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up.

But too many people do not feel it yet.

I had the same thing happen in 1994 and early ‘95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing. But most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996 the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. But — (cheers, applause) — wait, wait. The difference this time is purely in the circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. (Cheers, applause.)

Now — but — (cheers, applause) — he has — he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it. (Cheers, applause.)

Folks, whether the American people believe what I just said or not may be the whole election. I just want you to know that I believe it. With all my heart, I believe it. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, why do I believe it? I’m fixing to tell you why. I believe it because President Obama’s approach embodies the values, the ideas and the direction America has to take to build the 21st-century version of the American Dream: a nation of shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, shared prosperity, a shared sense of community. So let’s get back to the story. In 2010, as the president’s recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around. The recovery act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes — let me say this again — cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. (Cheers, applause.) And, in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4 1/2 million private sector jobs. (Cheers, applause.) We could have done better, but last year the Republicans blocked the president’s job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here’s another job score. President Obama: plus 4 1/2 million. Congressional Republicans: zero. (Cheers, applause.) During this period — (cheers, applause) — during this period, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama. That’s the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s. (Cheers, applause.) And I’ll tell you something else. The auto industry restructuring worked. (Cheers, applause.) It saved — it saved more than a million jobs, and not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country. That’s why even the automakers who weren’t part of the deal supported it. They needed to save those parts suppliers too. Like I said, we’re all in this together. (Applause.) So what’s happened? There are now 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than on the day the companies were restructured. (Cheers, applause.) So — now, we all know that Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. (Boos.) So here’s another job score. (Laughter.) Are you listening in Michigan and Ohio and across the country? (Cheers.) Here — (cheers, applause) — here’s another job score: Obama, 250,000; Romney, zero. AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (With speaker.) Zero. (Cheers, applause.) PRESIDENT CLINTON: Now, the agreement the administration made with the management, labor and environmental groups to double car mileage, that was a good deal too. It will cut your gas prices in half, your gas bill. No matter what the price is, if you double the mileage of your car, your bill will be half what it would have been. It will make us more energy independent. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions. And according to several analyses, over the next 20 years, it’ll bring us another half a million good new jobs into the American economy. (Cheers, applause.) The president’s energy strategy, which he calls “all of the above,” is helping too. The boom in oil and gas production, combined with greater energy efficiency, has driven oil imports to a near-20- year low and natural gas production to an all-time high. And renewable energy production has doubled. (Cheers, applause.) Of course, we need a lot more new jobs. But there are already more than 3 million jobs open and unfilled in America, mostly because the people who apply for them don’t yet have the required skills to do them. So even as we get Americans more jobs, we have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are actually going to be created. The old economy is not coming back. We’ve got to build a new one and educate people to do those jobs. (Cheers, applause.) The president — the president and his education secretary have supported community colleges and employers in working together to train people for jobs that are actually open in their communities — and even more important after a decade in which exploding college costs have increased the dropout rate so much that the percentage of our young people with four-year college degrees has gone down so much that we have dropped to 16th in the world in the percentage of young people with college degrees. So the president’s student loan is more important than ever. Here’s what it does — (cheers, applause) — here’s what it does. You need to tell every voter where you live about this. It lowers the cost of federal student loans. And even more important, it give students the right to repay those loans as a clear, fixed, low percentage of their income for up to 20 years. (Cheers, applause.) Now what does this mean? What does this mean? Think of it. It means no one will ever have to drop out of college again for fear they can’t repay their debt. And it means — (cheers, applause) — it means that if someone wants to take a job with a modest income, a teacher, a police officer, if they want to be a small-town doctor in a little rural area, they won’t have to turn those jobs down because they don’t pay enough to repay they debt. Their debt obligation will be determined by their salary. This will change the future for young America. (Cheers, applause.) I don’t know about you — (cheers, applause) — but on all these issues, I know we’re better off because President Obama made the decisions he did. Now, that brings me to health care. (Cheers, applause.) And the Republicans call it, derisively, “Obamacare.” They say it’s a government takeover, a disaster, and that if we’ll just elect them, they’ll repeal it. Well, are they right? AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No! PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let’s take a look at what’s actually happened so far. First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more than a billion dollars in refunds from insurance companies because the new law requires 80 (percent) to 85 percent of your premium to go to your health care, not profits or promotion. (Cheers, applause.) And the gains are even greater than that because a bunch of insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply with the requirement. Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents’ policies can cover them. (Cheers, applause.) Millions of seniors are receiving preventive care, all the way from breast cancer screenings to tests for heart problems and scores of other things. And younger people are getting them, too. Fourth, soon the insurance companies — not the government, the insurance companies — will have millions of new customers, many of them middle-class people with pre-existing conditions who never could get insurance before. (Cheers, applause.) Now, finally, listen to this. For the last two years — after going up at three times the rate of inflation for a decade, for the last two years health care costs have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years. (Cheers, applause.) So let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? (Cheers, applause.) You bet we are. Now, there were two other attacks on the president in Tampa I think deserve an answer. First, both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the president for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion. That’s the same attack they leveled against the Congress in 2010, and they got a lot of votes on it. But it’s not true. (Applause.) Look, here’s what really happened. You be the judge. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service. And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the doughnut hole in the Medicare drug program — (cheers, applause) — and — you all got to listen carefully to this; this is really important — and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent till 2024. (Cheers, applause.) So — (chuckles) — so President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare; they strengthened Medicare. Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as, quote, the biggest, coldest power play, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry — (laughter) — because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget. (Cheers, applause.) You got to get one thing — it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) So — (inaudible) — (sustained cheers, applause) — now, you’re having a good time, but this is getting serious, and I want you to listen. (Laughter.) It’s important, because a lot of people believe this stuff. Now, at least on this issue, on this one issue, Governor Romney has been consistent. (Laughter.) He attacked President Obama too, but he actually wants to repeal those savings and give the money back to the insurance company. (Laughter, boos.) He wants to go back to the old system, which means we’ll reopen the doughnut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and we’ll reduce the life of the Medicare trust fund by eight full years. (Boos.) So if he’s elected, and if he does what he promised to do, Medicare will now grow (sic/go) broke in 2016. (Boos.) Think about that. That means, after all, we won’t have to wait until their voucher program kicks in 2023 — (laughter) — to see the end of Medicare as we know it. (Applause.) They’re going to do it to us sooner than we thought. (Applause.) Now, folks, this is serious, because it gets worse. (Laughter.) And you won’t be laughing when I finish telling you this. They also want to block-grant Medicaid, and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. AUDIENCE MEMBER: No! PRESIDENT CLINTON: Of course, that’s going to really hurt a lot of poor kids. But that’s not all. Lot of folks don’t know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors — (applause) — who are eligible for Medicaid. (Cheers, applause.) It’s going to end Medicare as we know it. And a lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, including — (cheers, applause) — a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down’s syndrome or autism or other severe conditions. (Applause.) And honestly, let’s think about it, if that happens, I don’t know what those families are going to do. So I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do everything I can to see that it doesn’t happen. We can’t let it happen. (Cheers, applause.) We can’t. (Cheers, applause.) Now — wait a minute. (Cheers, applause.) Let’s look — AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let’s look at the other big charge the Republicans made. It’s a real doozy. (Laughter.) They actually have charged and run ads saying that President Obama wants to weaken the work requirements in the welfare reform bill I signed that moved millions of people from welfare to work. (Jeers.) Wait, you need to know, here’s what happened. (Laughter.) Nobody ever tells you what really happened — here’s what happened. When some Republican governors asked if they could have waivers to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration listened because we all know it’s hard for even people with good work histories to get jobs today. So moving folks from welfare to work is a real challenge. And the administration agreed to give waivers to those governors and others only if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent, and they could keep the waivers only if they did increase employment. Now, did I make myself clear? The requirement was for more work, not less. (Cheers, applause.) So this is personal to me. We moved millions of people off welfare. It was one of the reasons that in the eight years I was president, we had a hundred times as many people move out of poverty into the middle class than happened under the previous 12 years, a hundred times as many. (Cheers, applause.) It’s a big deal. But I am telling you the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. (Applause.) But they keep on running the ads claiming it. You want to know why? Their campaign pollster said, we are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers. (Jeers, applause.) Now, finally I can say, that is true. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) I — (chuckles) — I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Laughter.) And I hope you and every American within the sound of my voice remembers it every time they see one of those ads, and it turns into an ad to re-elect Barack Obama and keep the fundamental principles of personal empowerment and moving everybody who can get a job into work as soon as we can. (Cheers, applause.) Now, let’s talk about the debt. Today, interest rates are low, lower than the rate of inflation. People are practically paying us to borrow money, to hold their money for them. But it will become a big problem when the economy grows and interest rates start to rise. We’ve got to deal with this big long- term debt problem or it will deal with us. It will gobble up a bigger and bigger percentage of the federal budget we’d rather spend on education and health care and science and technology. It — we’ve got to deal with it. Now, what has the president done? He has offered a reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade, with 2 1/2 trillion (dollars) coming from — for every $2 1/2 trillion in spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues — 2 1/2-to-1. And he has tight controls on future spending. That’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the Simpson-Bowles Commission, a bipartisan commission. Now, I think this plan is way better than Governor Romney’s plan. First, the Romney plan failed the first test of fiscal responsibility. The numbers just don’t add up. (Laughter, applause.) I mean, consider this. What would you do if you had this problem? Somebody says, oh, we’ve got a big debt problem. We’ve got to reduce the debt. So what’s the first thing you say we’re going to do? Well, to reduce the debt, we’re going to have another $5 trillion in tax cuts heavily weighted to upper-income people. So we’ll make the debt hole bigger before we start to get out of it. Now, when you say, what are you going to do about this $5 trillion you just added on? They say, oh, we’ll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code. So then you ask, well, which loopholes, and how much? You know what they say? See me about that after the election. (Laughter.) I’m not making it up. That’s their position. See me about that after the election. Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic. (Sustained cheers, applause.) If — arithmetic! If — (applause) — if they stay with their $5 trillion tax cut plan — in a debt reduction plan? — the arithmetic tells us, no matter what they say, one of three things is about to happen. One, assuming they try to do what they say they’ll do, get rid of — pay — cover it by deductions, cutting those deductions, one, they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving, that middle-class families will see their tax bills go up an average of $2,000 while anybody who makes $3 million or more will see their tax bill go down $250,000. (Boos.) Or, two, they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for the national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel. They’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education, child nutrition programs, all the programs that help to empower middle-class families and help poor kids. Oh, they’ll cut back on investments in roads and bridges and science and technology and biomedical research. That’s what they’ll do. They’ll hurt the middle class and the poor and put the future on hold to give tax cuts to upper-income people who’ve been getting it all along. Or three, in spite of all the rhetoric, they’ll just do what they’ve been doing for more than 30 years. They’ll go in and cut the taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with that big defense increase, and they’ll just explode the debt and weaken the economy. And they’ll destroy the federal government’s ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax payments. Don’t you ever forget when you hear them talking about this that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took office — (applause) — and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left, because it defied arithmetic. (Laughter, applause.) It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was just a country boy from Arkansas, and I came from a place where people still thought two and two was four. (Laughter, applause.) It’s arithmetic. We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down. (Cheers, applause.) Really. Think about this: President Obama — President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values, brightens the future of our children, our families and our nation. It’s a heck of a lot better. It passes the arithmetic test, and far more important, it passes the values test. (Cheers, applause.) My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we’ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.) If you — if you want — AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! PRESIDENT CLINTON: If you want America — if you want every American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures — (jeers) — just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters — (jeers) — you should support Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.) And if you think — if you think the president was right to open the doors of American opportunity to all those young immigrants brought here when they were young so they can serve in the military or go to college, you must vote for Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.) If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American dream is really alive and well again and where the United States maintains its leadership as a force for peace and justice and prosperity in this highly competitive world, you have to vote for Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.) Look, I love our country so much. And I know we’re coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we’ve always come back. (Cheers.) People have predicted our demise ever since George Washington was criticized for being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth. (Laughter.) And so far, every single person that’s bet against America has lost money because we always come back. (Cheers, applause.) We come through ever fire a little stronger and a little better. And we do it because in the end we decide to champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor — the cause of forming a more perfect union. (Cheers, applause.) My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.) God bless you and God bless America. (Cheers, applause.)

Sen. Edward Kennedy Video Tribute

Michelle Obama