Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama's speech Jan. 21, 2013

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Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                                   January 21, 2013


United States Capitol 

11:55 A.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: 

Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  (Applause.)  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. 

And for more than two hundred years, we have. 

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. 

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. 

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.  (Applause.)

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  (Applause.)  An economic recovery has begun.  (Applause.)  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.  My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together.  (Applause.) 

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  (Applause.)  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.  (Applause.)  

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.  

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  (Applause.)  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.

We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.  The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.  (Applause.)  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.  (Applause.) 

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  (Applause.)  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. 

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise.  That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  (Applause.)  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  (Applause.)  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends -- and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are na├»ve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  (Applause.)

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.  And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. 

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.  (Applause.)

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law  –- (applause) -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity -- (applause) -- until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  (Applause.)   Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm. 

That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.  (Applause.) 

For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  (Applause.)  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction.  And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. 

They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope.  You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.  You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.  (Applause.) 

Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. 

Thank you.  God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.  (Applause.) 

                        END                12:10 P.M. EST

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Early peek at the Auto Show with a visit to Detroit's event

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Detroit isn't called Mo-Town for nothing. Its the home of the auto industry and I figured, instead of waiting till the Auto Show comes to Chicago, the mountain will go to the Auto Show. So I took my son this past weekend to Detroit and attended the opening day, Saturday, at the Cobo Arena, which is next door to the Joe Louis Arena and the tunnel to Windsor, Canada across the river.

I realize that auto shows in any city are all the same, organized by the same automobile companies. Detroit is famous for Ford so it wasn't surprising that Ford dominated the largest floor space at the Cobo Arena.

The first thing you want to do is get a "material" or "cloth" bag to carry around as you start collecting all the brochures and buttons and any of the other junk you might waste your money on while at the Auto Show. But the only auto makers who give away bags are the ones you don't want to be caught dead associated with.

I don't like Toyotas, but they handed out the most bags. It's not that everyone loves Toyota -- or dislikes the maker as much as I do. It's about convenience. And I give Toyota credit for thinking about the show-goers and the public. Show Bags ARE Important, auto people. You want us to buy your cars? Make a better car and give us a show bag.

You won't find show bags at the luxury displays like at the show platforms for Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati. They are some cool cars but the only reason to spend your time staring at them -- usually from behind a rope and standard or through a clear plexiglass window is to just stare. I can't afford one of those cars and I figure the few people who can afford one of those cars probably has already been given a special showing on the new models at their luxury auto dealerships where they have probably already purchased one of those expensive wastes of hard-earned money.

Who in their right mind would drive a Ferrari around Detroit anyway? And where would you drive it to truly enjoy its powerful engine? Maybe Montana. But I doubt cowboys spend much money on luxury cars. I think they prefer horses, don't they?

There was one car display that was cool. This was the one where a guy on a computer was using a touch screen and his finger to "paint" displays on the computer screen that automatically displayed on the side of the "futuristic concept car."

"We're not selling this car. It's just a concept," the polite worker explained to the audience. 

Well, I'll tell you what. If you can put that on my next car -- under $40,000 please because the costs of cars are already so outrageous it's disgusting -- I might buy the feature instead of wasting my money on Sirius-XM or those worthless extra features they offer you above and beyond basic navigation. (My service that tells me when roads are under construction is always late by weeks. And it doesn't seem to tell me anything until I am already bumper-to-bumper in a construction traffic jam. So what's the point?

Why doesn't the auto industry get something right?

But still, I wanted to take my son to the 2013 Auto Show just the way my dad took me to the 1963 or 64 Auto Show in Chicago. (I think it was at the Amphitheater. Was McCormick place even built in 1964? I don't think so.) [So I broke down and looked it up online, folks. McCormick Place was completed in 1960. So maybe it was at McCormick Place. It's all a blur anyway who who cares today besides me anyway?]

I have a black and white picture taken by my dad of my brother and I standing in front of a white Polar Bear -- is that redundant? Behind it was part of the "Chicago Auto Show" banner. It's memorable. Here it is.

I could find a polar bear where I could take a picture of my son and there didn't seem to be any good places where you could stand to get a good shot with the show name in the background of my son.

Instead, he preferred to jump from car to car and sit in the driver's seat -- he's only 11 anyway -- and pretend that he's driving. 

You quickly realize that the cheaper automakers leave their cars open and are more accommodating to the public when it comes to letting your kids or the family money-ball manager to sit in the car driver's seat. Toyota did -- I may have to reconsider the carmaker in the future. So did Ford and Chevy. But not any of the rich luxury car makers. It bothered my son that they are "so rich and they treat the average person so badly."

Good point Aaron. The rich luxury automakers do treat us pedestrians so shabby. I'm not buying one of their junky cars. Well, I couldn't afford to but then, it just makes me feel better to say it.

So we took a picture instead with the Jay Leno life-sized cardboard cut-out. Couldn't find a good spot to grab that picture. We did the same with Vanna White and Pat Sajak. We didn't waste our time with Ellen Degeneres or Jimmy Fallon. (Fallon's okay but two pictures with two fake cardboard life-sized cut-outs is more than enough, even for an 11 year old.)

So that's the picture my kid will probably show someone 50 years from now when he reminisces about the time we drove to Detroit to see the North American International Auto Show (That's what they call it folks, not the Detroit Auto Show). Him standing with Jay Leno. Although 50 years from know, will anyone remember Jay Leno? Do they remember Johnny Carson? It's easier to remember white Polar Bears but I guess the question is, for how long will they be around?

It's all too depressing. We left and walked past Joe Louis Arena where they were lining up for a Pistons game. And then we drove past Tigers Stadium to take pictures of the beautiful concrete lions. That place is next to my heart only to Wrigley Field.

Now that's a picture worth showing off.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, January 14, 2013

Press Release: Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford Connecting Continued Bond Rating Reductions to Inaction by Governor and Legislature

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Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford Connecting Continued
Bond Rating Reductions to Inaction by Governor and Legislature
CHICAGO—January 13, 2013—Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is releasing a two year timeline to demonstrate the cause of Illinois’ sinking bond ratings as a result of inaction to reform public pensions by the governor and the Illinois General Assembly.

The attached document illustrates 2011 until today; it begins with the historic 66% income tax increase, continues by plotting the dates of failed significant legislative deadlines, and then demonstrates the related timing of action taken by the three major ratings firms against Illinois for the legislature’s lack of will to fix our unsustainable public pension system.

“The latest hit is from Fitch Ratings,” Rutherford said. “Fitch announced on January 11 that the agency has placed Illinois’ general obligation bonds rating on negative watch. Fitch decided to do this because of the state’s inability ‘to address its large and growing unfunded pension liability.’ The next step could potentially be the downgrade of the state’s General Obligation bond rating from Fitch. Failure to enact pension reforms will eventually bring Illinois to its financial breaking point, and it will be worse than any fiscal calamity we have seen thus far in this state. Our state’s credit rating cannot afford to take another hit.”

This warning from Fitch is in fact the seventh warning, downgrade, or negative outlook change aimed at Illinois’ various bonding entities in the last year from the three ratings agencies: Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s.

Rutherford continued, “Furthermore, it has now been two years since Governor Pat Quinn’s 66% income tax hike was passed, and though it was billed as a measure that would help solve the state’s financial problems, money matters in Illinois have only gotten worse. On January 11, 2011, the state’s backlog of bills was reportedly $8.5 billion. Today the state owes vendors nearly $9 billion dollars.”  

“In the past decade, the state’s bonded debt has nearly tripled. Illinois’ debt is colossal and growing-- our debt obligations now exceed $200 billion. It is estimated that the failure to address the state’s pension liability is costing the state at least $17 million per day. It is beyond irresponsible to let this continue. The state needs to rein in the pension escalation and not use long-term borrowing as a ‘solution’ to this problem.”