Friday, December 30, 2011

Presidential Proclamation -- National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2012


Nearly a century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation -- a document that reaffirmed the noble goals of equality and freedom for all that lie at the heart of what it means to live in America.  In the years since, we have tirelessly pursued the realization and protection of these essential principles.  Yet, despite our successes, thousands of individuals living in the United States and still more abroad suffer in silence under the intolerable yoke of modern slavery.  During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we stand with all those who are held in compelled service; we recognize the people, organizations, and government entities that are working to combat human trafficking; and we recommit to bringing an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse.

Human trafficking endangers the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is a crime that knows no borders.  Trafficking networks operate both domestically and transnationally, and although abuses disproportionally affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women, and children of all ages.  Around the world, we are monitoring the progress of governments in combating trafficking while supporting programs aimed at its eradication.  From forced labor and debt bondage to forced commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude, human trafficking leaves no country untouched.  With this knowledge, we rededicate ourselves to forging robust international partnerships that strengthen global anti-trafficking efforts, and to confronting traffickers here at home.

My Administration continues to implement our comprehensive strategy to combat human trafficking in America.  By coordinating our response across Federal agencies, we are working to protect victims of human trafficking with effective services and support, prosecute traffickers through consistent enforcement, and prevent human rights abuses by furthering public awareness and addressing the root causes of modern slavery.  The steadfast defense of human rights is an essential part of our national identity, and as long as individuals suffer the violence of slavery and human trafficking, we must continue the fight.

With the start of each year, we commemorate the anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and submitted to the States for ratification on February 1, 1865.

These documents stand as testaments to the gains we have made in pursuit of freedom and justice for all, and they remind us of the work that remains to be done.  This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking.  Together, and in cooperation with our partners around the world, we can work to end this terrible injustice and protect the rights to life and liberty entrusted to us by our forebears and owed to our children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2012 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1.  I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this

thirtieth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

Newt Makes Romney Better - Opinion by

So the first third of the Republican presidential race is ending. The first third is the introduction: "This is who I am, this is what I want to do, this is why you want to choose me."

The campaign is announced, organized, and goes forward in key early states.
The second phase is the long slog through the primary states to the convention next August in Tampa, Fla. The third and final is the election proper, in the autumn of 2012.


The first phase was clouded by an overlay of frustration and dissatisfaction: The best weren't in the game. Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, John Thune, Haley Barbour, none of them reporting for duty. But in the past few weeks another mood has begun to dig in: You fight with the army you have. You pick from the possible candidates. You make a choice and back him hard.

Part of this is simple realism. Time is passing, and the contenders have been at least initially inspected. Every four years the potential nominees on either side look smaller than the sitting president who, whether or not you like him, is the president. You're used to him. He's on TV. They play Hail to the Chief when he walks in. The office is big and imparts bigness.

But less so this year than past years. There's a lot of 1980 in the 2012 presidential election, which doesn't mean it will end the same way, but still. The incumbent looks smaller than previous sitting presidents, as did Jimmy Carter. His efforts in the Oval Office have not been generally understood as successful. There's a broad sense it hasn't worked. And Democrats don't like him, as they didn't Jimmy Carter.

This continues as one of the most amazing and underappreciated facts of 2012—the sitting president's own party doesn't like him. The party's constituent pieces will stick with him, having no choice, but with a feeling of dissatisfaction. It is not only the Republicans who have been unhappy this year. All this will have some bearing on the coming year.


Debates arrived in a new way, with a new power. Candidates rose and fell depending on how they did in nationally televised forums. The whole primary season this year has been more wholesale than retail, more national than local.
Getty Images
Mitt Romney (left) debates Newt Gingrich during the ABC News GOP presidential debate on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 10.
In the past, state issues were important, but now only one issue—the nation's economy—is important. An hour with the Grand Rapids Rotary Club is still nice, but not as nice as an eight-minute, prime-time cable hit. This marks the continuation of a half century-long trend. National trumps local, federal squashes state, the force of national culture washes out local culture. Primaries are fully national now.
The most memorable line of the first phase? There's "9-9-9" and "Oops," but the best came from Mitt Romney when he was asked about the Gingrich campaign's failure to qualify for the Virginia ballot. Mr. Gingrich had compared it to Pearl Harbor, a setback, but we'll recover. Mr. Romney, breezily, to a reporter: "I think it's more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory."
It made people laugh. It made them want to repeat it, which is the best free media of all, the line people can't resist saying in the office. And they laughed because it pinged off a truth: Gingrich is ad hoc, disorganized.
The put-down underscored Romney's polite little zinger of a week before, that Mr. Gingrich was "zany." And it was a multi-generationally effective: People who are 70-years-old remember "I Love Lucy," but so do people who are 30 and grew up with its reruns. Mr. Romney's known for being organized but not for being deft. This was deft. It's an old commonplace in politics that if you're explaining you're losing, but it's also true that if they're laughing you're losing. The campaign trail has been pretty much a wit-free zone. It's odd that people who care so much about politics rarely use one of politics' biggest tools, humor. Mr. Romney did and scored. More please, from everyone.


Newt Gingrich in the end will likely prove to be a gift to Mitt Romney. He was a heavyweight. This isn't Herman Cain, this is a guy everyone on the ground in every primary state knows and has seen on TV and remembers from the past. But his emergence scared a lot of people—"Not him!'—and made some of them think, 'OK, I guess I better get off the sidelines and make a decision. Compared to Newt, Romney looks pretty reasonable."
Mr. Gingrich took some of the sting out of Romney-as-flip-flopper because he is a flip flopper too. He also, for a few weeks there, made Mr. Romney look like he might be over. He made Mr. Romney fight for it, not against an unknown businessman but against a serious political figure whose face and persona said: "I mean business." In the end it will turn out he was a gift to the Romney campaign, a foe big enough that when you beat him it means something.


The worst trend in politics that fully emerged during phase one? People running for president not to be president but as a branding exercise, to sell books and get a cable contract and be a public figure and have people who heretofore hadn't noticed you now stopping you in the airport to get a picture and an autograph. In an endeavor like this you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You're not held back by any sense of realism as to your positions, you don't have to worry about them being used against you down the road because there won't be a down the road. You can say anything. And because you do you seem refreshing. People start to like you—you're not like all the others, who are so careful. You rise, run your mouth for a month and fall.
Maybe this is harmless. But America is in crisis. The world is in crisis. Everywhere you look establishments and old arrangements are falling, toppling to the ground. Does it help, in this context, to lower the standing of the American political process by inserting your buffoonish, unserious self into it? Or does it make things just a little bit worse?


The continuing mystery of phase one? The failure of Jon Huntsman to gain traction. It's not precisely a mystery—he didn't run as a successful conservative two-term governor but as a striped pants diplomat—but it is a frustration. Democrats like him, a lot. New Hampshire has an open primary. Democrats can vote for him there. Maybe they will. But will that make him a contender or an oddity?
What seemed true at the start of phase one seems true now. A number of the Republicans on the debate stage could beat Mr. Obama. But if there is a serious third-party challenger the president will likely be reelected.
Predictions? The essential message of phase one was, "I am a credible candidate, and I can win." Phase two will be "I not only can win but my victory will have meaning." Phase three? There will be some "He made it worse." But watch for another argument. "In a second Obama administration he will be operating without any of the constraints that limited his actions in the first. He will never have to face the voters again. Obama unbound, with interest groups to reward. America, you don't want to go there."

Friday, December 23, 2011

The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival

The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival
Noam Chomsky

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Iowa Caucus 2012 (12 Days RCP Snapshot)

GOP Goes Into Damage-Control Mode - Dana Milbank, Washington Post
Republican Primary Race Is Set Up for Surprise - Conrad Black, NRO
Reviewing the GOP Dark Horses - Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo
George H.W. Bush Backs Romney for 2012 - Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle
Mitt to Newt: I'd Rather Not Debate You 1 on 1 - Ed Morrissey, Hot Air
The Progressive Honor Roll of 2011 - John Nichols, The Nation
Hate Crime at Williams? - Roger Kimball, PJ Media
Election 2012: Will Endorsements Boost Santorum in Iowa?

RCP Morning Edition

Smaller Is Better: Break Up the Banks - Charles Gasparino, New York Post
Why Obama's Winning Payroll Tax Fight - Noam Scheiber, New Republic
D.C. Clings to the "Both/And" Era of Government - Bill Frezza, Forbes
Newt Challenges Romney to "Test the Heat" - Dan Balz, Washington Post
Gingrich's Bad Judgment Threatens GOP - George Will, Boston Herald
Romney Hits Stride in New Hampshire - Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times
Mitt, RomneyCare, & Teddy Kennedy - Steve McCann, American Thinker
What Ron Paul Thinks of America - Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal
A New Kim. A New Chance? - Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
2011: Year of Krugman Thuggishness - Brent Bozell, Investor's Business Daily
The Keystone XL Pipeline Scam - Michael Brune, Huffington Post
A Rising U.S. Economy, or a False Dawn? - Annie Lowrey, New York Times
Don't Extend the Idiotic, Evil Payroll Tax Decrease - Louis Woodhill, Forbes
The End of the Chinese Dream - Christina Larson, Foreign Policy
How Quick to the Exits in Afghanistan? - David Ignatius, Washington Post
EPA Tries to Pull a Fast One - Diana Furchtgott-Roth, RealClearMarkets
Who Was Steve Jobs? - Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books


When Gridlock's a Plus: Restore Funds to Social Security - USA Today
House Republicans Refuse to Compromise - Los Angeles Times
Obama Achieving Goal of Higher Energy Prices - Washington Examiner
Egypt's Downward Spiral - Daily Star

Real Clear Politics Video 1 2 3 | More Videos »

Republican Presidential Nomination Polling Average
28.0 Gingrich
24.2 Romney
12.4 Paul
6.4 Perry
6.4 Bachmann
3.8 Santorum
1.8 Huntsman
-- Cain

Real Clear Politics Wednesday

Morning Update
Payroll Tax Cut Unsolved, Congress Packs Up - Mascaro & Hennessey, LAT
Five Ways the Standoff Could End - Major Garrett, National Journal
Don't Blame Tea Party for Tax Cut Fiasco - Charles Hurt, Washington Times
Opportunity Knocks for Obama - Thomas Schaller, Salon
Obama: A Legend in His Own Mind - John Hinderaker, PowerLine
Romney as Nixon? 2012 Offers Unsettling Echo for GOP - Sean Trende, RCP
Can Romney Win the Nomination Without SC? - Holly Bailey, The Ticket
Obama's Going to Run on This Bailout? - Mickey Kaus, Daily Caller
Gingrich's Extremism on Judges - Ruth Marcus, Washington Post
It's Time for Eric Holder to Resign - Ed Morrissey, The Week
Justice Dept in a Climate Crackdown - Donna Laframboise, Financial Post
Ron Paul: Spoiler or Kingmaker? - Peter Wallsten, Washington Post
If Paul Wins Caucuses, Iowa Might Be Loser - Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg
Where No Mortgage News Is Fit to Print - Peter Wallison, The American
How Kim's Death Risks a U.S.-China Crisis - Minxin Pei, The Diplomat
Can Iraq Govern Itself? - Thomas Friedman, New York Times
The Year's Big Winner: Islamism - Pat Buchanan, Pittsburgh Trib-Review

Afternoon Update
Anger Towards DC & Wall St Grows - Walter Russell Mead, American Interest
Payroll Tax Tussle Stinks of Tea - Ana Marie Cox, The Guardian
The Agonizing Death of Europeanism - Steven Hayward, RealClearMarkets
Romney: State Health Mandate Is 'Conservative' - Julian Pecquet, The Hill
Scenarios for the 2012 Republican Primary - Matt Mackowiak, Townhall
Southern Radicals Threatening to Take Over GOP - Robert Reich, Salon
ObamaCare's Lousy, No Good, Really Bad Year - Paul Conner, Daily Caller
Hitchens and Iraq - George Packer, The New Yorker
Hillary as VP Is Best Response to Gingrich - Laura Washington, Chicago ST
Want Prosperity? Try Stable Tax Policy - John Taylor, Wall Street Journal

Transcripts & Speeches

Interview with Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich - On the Record
Interview with Pres. Candidate Rick Santorum - The Situation Room
Interview with Senator Chuck Schumer - Hardball
Interview with Senator John McCain - Hannity
Interview with Representative Chris Van Hollen - The Ed Show

Best of the Blogs

Capitol Hill Fiasco Shows Obama is No Pushover - J. Tobin, Contentions
A Game of Chicken That Democrats Can Finally Win - Kevin Drum, MJ
Senate Takes a (Payroll Tax) Holiday - J.D. Foster, The Foundry
Romney is Winning the Payroll Tax Cut Fight - Ezra Klein, WonkBlog
Romney Won't Release Tax Returns - Steve Benen, Political Animal

Real Clear Markets

It's Time: Break Up the Banks, End TBTF - Charlie Gasparino, New York Post
The Watchdogs That Didn't Bark - Scot Paltrow, Reuters
Paul Ryan's Old-Fashioned American Vision - Larry Kudlow, RCM
Who Will Fix The US Economy? - Henry Mintzberg, Project Syndicate
Obama Betting on Another Iffy Company? - Edward Morrissey, Fiscal Times

Real Clear World

Nouri al-Maliki Is Pulling Iraq Apart - Shashank Joshi, Daily Telegraph
Iraq Must Divide to Survive - Ranj Alaaldin, The Guardian
Japan Needs a North Korea Reset - Michael Auslin, Wall Street Journal
Why U.S. Should Withdraw from the Persian Gulf - Toby Jones, Atlantic
Do Palestinians Believe in Palestine? - Clifford May, National Review

Real Clear Religion

David Horowitz's Rough-and-Tumble Faith - David Goldman, FPMag
Utah Supreme Court: Unborn Children are Minors - Emiley Morgan, DN
Bansky Sculpture Takes Stab at Catholic Church - Helen Carter, Guardian
The Top Ten Peacemakers in Science v Religion - Paul Wallace, RD
How To Survive the Holidays With Family - Sally Kempton, Patheos

Real Clear Science

Censoring Science Is Sometimes Necessary - Arthur Caplan, CNN Opinion
It's Too Late to Censor Flu Research - Steve Connor, The Independent
Deaf Beethoven Chose Lower-Frequency Notes - Telegraph
No Bird-Brains: Pigeons Can Do Abstract Math - James Gorman, NYT
'Inception': Learn New Skills While Dreaming? - Rob Waugh, Daily Mail

Real Clear Energy

The Persistent Illusion of Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs - Tom Zeller Jr., HuffPo
Canada: If No Keystone XL, We'll Sell Our Oil To... - Editorial, IBD
Peak Oil Is Here, Stocks Will Soar In 2012 - David Clark, Seeking Alpha
What's The Relationship Between Oil And Gold? - John Kingston, Platts
Shale: Time to Look Before We Leap Further - Ranganathan/Kennedy, WRI

Real Clear Sports

LeBron Is Still Best Storyline in NBA - Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports
Racism Charges Put Soccer World on Edge - Jeré Longman, New York Times
End of an Era for Boise State - Paul Myerberg, Pre-Snap Read
Pitino Doing One of His Best Coaching Jobs - Matt Norlander, CBS Sports
Can't Imagine Drew Brees in Another City - Les Carpenter, Yahoo! Sports

Presidential Job Approval

  • Gallup: 43% Approve - 48% Disapprove
  • Rasmussen: 49% Approve - 50% Disapprove
  • RCP Average: 46.9% Approve - 48.4% Disapprove
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Capitalism and the Right to Rise - Jeb Bush WSJ

In freedom lies the risk of failure. But in statism lies the certainty of stagnation.
By JEB BUSH DEC 19- Wall Street Journal

Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: "The right to rise."

Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect.

But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.

That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings.

But when it comes to economic freedom, we are less forgiving of the cycles of growth and loss, of trial and error, and of failure and success that are part of the realities of the marketplace and life itself.

Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws. We see an industry dying and we demand it be saved. Each time, we demand "Do something . . . anything."

As Florida's governor for eight years, I was asked to "do something" almost every day. Many times I resisted through vetoes but many times I succumbed. And I wasn't alone. Mayors, county chairs, governors and presidents never think their laws will harm the free market. But cumulatively, they do, and we have now imperiled the right to rise.

Woe to the elected leader who fails to deliver a multipoint plan for economic success, driven by specific government action. "Trust in the dynamism of the market" is not a phrase in today's political lexicon.

Have we lost faith in the free-market system of entrepreneurial capitalism? Are we no longer willing to place our trust in the creative chaos unleashed by millions of people pursuing their own best economic interests?

The right to rise does not require a libertarian utopia to exist. Rather, it requires fewer, simpler and more outcome-oriented rules. Rules for which an honest cost-benefit analysis is done before their imposition. Rules that sunset so they can be eliminated or adjusted as conditions change. Rules that have disputes resolved faster and less expensively through arbitration than litigation.

In Washington, D.C., rules are going in the opposite direction. They are exploding in reach and complexity. They are created under a cloud of uncertainty, and years after their passage nobody really knows how they will work.

We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy's resources should be spent.

Or we can return to the road we once knew and which has served us well: a road where individuals acting freely and with little restraint are able to pursue fortune and prosperity as they see fit, a road where the government's role is not to shape the marketplace but to help prepare its citizens to prosper from it.

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.

Mr. Bush, a Republican, was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.

President Obama Speech to Troops at Fort Bragg, NC (End of Iraq War)

Remarks by the President and First Lady on the End of the War in Iraq

Fort Bragg, North Carolina
11:52 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Hello, everyone!  I get to start you all off.  I want to begin by thanking General Anderson for that introduction, but more importantly for his leadership here at Fort Bragg.  I can’t tell you what a pleasure and an honor it is to be back here.  I have so many wonderful memories of this place.

A couple of years ago, I came here on my very first official trip as First Lady.  And I spent some -- a great time with some of the amazing military spouses, and I visited again this summer to help to put on the finishing touches on an amazing new home for a veteran and her family.  So when I heard that I had the opportunity to come back and to be a part of welcoming you all home, to say I was excited was an understatement.

And I have to tell you that when I look out at this crowd, I am simply overwhelmed.  I am overwhelmed and proud, because I know the level of strength and commitment that you all display every single day.  Whenever this country calls, you all are the ones who answer, no matter the circumstance, no matter the danger, no matter the sacrifice.

And I know that you do this not just as soldiers, not just as patriots, but as fathers and mothers, as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters.  And I know that while your children and your spouses and your parents and siblings might not wear uniforms, they serve right alongside you.

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  I know that your sacrifice is their sacrifice, too.  So when I think of all that you do and all that your families do, I am so proud and so grateful.  But more importantly, I’m inspired.  But like so many Americans, I never feel like I can fully convey just how thankful I am, because words just don’t seem to be enough.

And that’s why I have been working so hard, along with Jill Biden, on a campaign that we call Joining Forces.  It’s a campaign that we hope goes beyond words.  It’s a campaign that is about action.  It’s about rallying all Americans to give you the honor, the appreciation and the support that you have all earned.  And I don’t have to tell you that this hasn’t been a difficult campaign.  We haven’t had to do much convincing because American have been lining up to show their appreciation for you and your families in very concrete and meaningful ways.

Businesses are hiring tens of thousands of veterans and military spouses.  Schools all across the country and PTAs are reaching out to our military children.  And individuals are serving their neighbors and their communities all over this country in your honor.

So I want you to know that this nation’s support doesn’t end as this war ends.  Not by a long shot.  We’re going to keep on doing this.  We have so much more work to do.  We’re going to keep finding new ways to serve all of you as well as you have served us.  And the man leading the way is standing right here.  (Applause.)  He is fighting for you and your families every single day.  He’s helped more than half a million veterans and military family members go to college through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.  (Applause.)

He’s taken unprecedented steps to improve mental health care.  He’s cut taxes for businesses that hire a veteran or a wounded warrior.  And he has kept his promise to responsibly bring you home from Iraq.

So please join me in welcoming someone who’s your strongest advocate, someone who shows his support for our military not only in words, but in deeds, my husband, our President, and your Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, Fort Bragg!  All the way!

AUDIENCE:  Airborne!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’m sure you realize why I don’t like following Michelle Obama.  (Laughter.)  She’s pretty good.  And it is true, I am a little biased, but let me just say it:  Michelle, you are a remarkable First Lady.  You are a great advocate for military families.  (Applause.)  And you’re cute.  (Applause.)  I’m just saying -- gentlemen, that’s your goal:  to marry up.  (Laughter.)  Punch above your weight.

Fort Bragg, we’re here to mark a historic moment in the life of our country and our military.  For nearly nine years, our nation has been at war in Iraq.  And you -- the incredible men and women of Fort Bragg -- have been there every step of the way, serving with honor, sacrificing greatly, from the first waves of the invasion to some of the last troops to come home.  So, as your Commander-in-Chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I’m proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree:  Welcome home!  (Applause.)  Welcome home.  Welcome home.  (Applause.)  Welcome home.

It is great to be here at Fort Bragg -- home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces.  I want to thank General Anderson and all your outstanding leaders for welcoming us here today, including General Dave Rodriguez, General John Mulholland.  And I want to give a shout-out to your outstanding senior enlisted leaders, including Command Sergeant Major Roger Howard, Darrin Bohn, Parry Baer.  And give a big round of applause to the Ground Forces Band. 


We’ve got a lot of folks in the house today.  We’ve got the 18th Airborne Corps -- the Sky Dragons.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the legendary, All-American 82nd Airborne Division.  (Applause.)  We’ve got America’s quiet professionals -- our Special Operations Forces.  (Applause.)  From Pope Field, we’ve got Air Force.  (Applause.)  And I do believe we’ve got some Navy and Marine Corps here, too.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes!  (Laughter.)  

THE PRESIDENT:  And though they’re not here with us today, we send our thoughts and prayers to General Helmick, Sergeant Major Rice and all the folks from the 18th Airborne and Bragg who are bringing our troops back from Iraq.  (Applause.)  We honor everyone from the 82nd Airborne and Bragg serving and succeeding in Afghanistan, and General Votel and those serving around the world. 

And let me just say, one of the most humbling moments I’ve had as President was when I presented our nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to the parents of one of those patriots from Fort Bragg who gave his life in Afghanistan -- Staff Sergeant Robert Miller.

I want to salute Ginny Rodriguez, Miriam Mulholland, Linda Anderson, Melissa Helmick, Michelle Votel and all the inspiring military families here today.  We honor your service as well. 


And finally, I want to acknowledge your neighbors and friends who help keep your -- this outstanding operation going, all who help to keep you Army Strong, and that includes Representatives Mike McIntyre, and Dave Price, and Heath Shuler, and Governor Bev Perdue.  I know Bev is so proud to have done so much for our military families.  So give them a big round of applause.


Today, I’ve come to speak to you about the end of the war in Iraq.  Over the last few months, the final work of leaving Iraq has been done.  Dozens of bases with American names that housed thousands of American troops have been closed down or turned over to the Iraqis.  Thousands of tons of equipment have been packed up and shipped out.  Tomorrow, the colors of United States Forces-Iraq -- the colors you fought under -- will be formally cased in a ceremony in Baghdad.  Then they’ll begin their journey across an ocean, back home.

Over the last three years, nearly 150,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq.  And over the next few days, a small group of American soldiers will begin the final march out of that country.  Some of them are on their way back to Fort Bragg.  As General Helmick said, “They know that the last tactical road march out of Iraq will be a symbol, and they’re going to be a part of history.”

As your Commander-in-Chief, I can tell you that it will indeed be a part of history.  Those last American troops will move south on desert sands, and then they will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high.  One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end.  Iraq’s future will be in the hands of its people.  America’s war in Iraq will be over.


THE PRESIDENT:  Now, we knew this day would come.  We’ve known it for some time.  But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long.
Now, nine years ago, American troops were preparing to deploy to the Persian Gulf and the possibility that they would be sent to war.  Many of you were in grade school.  I was a state senator.  Many of the leaders now governing Iraq -- including the Prime Minister -- were living in exile.  And since then, our efforts in Iraq have taken many twists and turns.  It was a source of great controversy here at home, with patriots on both sides of the debate.  But there was one constant -- there was one constant:  your patriotism, your commitment to fulfill your mission, your abiding commitment to one another.  That was constant.  That did not change.  That did not waiver.

It’s harder to end a war than begin one.  Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -– all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -– all of it has led to this moment of success.  Now, Iraq is not a perfect place.  It has many challenges ahead.  But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.  We’re building a new partnership between our nations.  And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home.

This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.  And today, we remember everything that you did to make it possible.

We remember the early days -– the American units that streaked across the sands and skies of Iraq; the battles from Karbala to Baghdad, American troops breaking the back of a brutal dictator in less than a month.

We remember the grind of the insurgency -– the roadside bombs, the sniper fire, the suicide attacks.  From the “triangle of death” to the fight for Ramadi; from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south -– your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it.
We remember the specter of sectarian violence -– al Qaeda’s attacks on mosques and pilgrims, militias that carried out campaigns of intimidation and campaigns of assassination.  And in the face of ancient divisions, you stood firm to help those Iraqis who put their faith in the future.

We remember the surge and we remember the Awakening -– when the abyss of chaos turned toward the promise of reconciliation.  By battling and building block by block in Baghdad, by bringing tribes into the fold and partnering with the Iraqi army and police, you helped turn the tide toward peace.

And we remember the end of our combat mission and the emergence of a new dawn -– the precision of our efforts against al Qaeda in Iraq, the professionalism of the training of Iraqi security forces, and the steady drawdown of our forces.  In handing over responsibility to the Iraqis, you preserved the gains of the last four years and made this day possible.
Just last month, some of you -- members of the Falcon Brigade --


THE PRESIDENT:  -- turned over the Anbar Operations Center to the Iraqis in the type of ceremony that has become commonplace over these last several months.  In an area that was once the heart of the insurgency, a combination of fighting and training, politics and partnership brought the promise of peace.  And here’s what the local Iraqi deputy governor said:  “This is all because of the U.S. forces’ hard work and sacrifice.”

That’s in the words of an Iraqi.  Hard work and sacrifice.  Those words only begin to describe the costs of this war and the courage of the men and women who fought it.

We know too well the heavy cost of this war.  More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq -- 1.5 million.  Over 30,000 Americans have been wounded, and those are only the wounds that show.  Nearly 4,500 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice -- including 202 fallen heroes from here at Fort Bragg -- 202.  So today, we pause to say a prayer for all those families who have lost their loved ones, for they are part of our broader American family.  We grieve with them.

We also know that these numbers don’t tell the full story of the Iraq war -– not even close.  Our civilians have represented our country with skill and bravery.  Our troops have served tour after tour of duty, with precious little dwell time in between.  Our Guard and Reserve units stepped up with unprecedented service.  You’ve endured dangerous foot patrols and you’ve endured the pain of seeing your friends and comrades fall.  You’ve had to be more than soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen –- you’ve also had to be diplomats and development workers and trainers and peacemakers.  Through all this, you have shown why the United States military is the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  As Michelle mentioned, we also know that the burden of war is borne by your families.  In countless base communities like Bragg, folks have come together in the absence of a loved one.  As the Mayor of Fayetteville put it, “War is not a political word here.  War is where our friends and neighbors go.”  So there have been missed birthday parties and graduations.  There are bills to pay and jobs that have to be juggled while picking up the kids.  For every soldier that goes on patrol, there are the husbands and the wives, the mothers, the fathers, the sons, the daughters praying that they come back.

So today, as we mark the end of the war, let us acknowledge, let us give a heartfelt round of applause for every military family that has carried that load over the last nine years.  You too have the thanks of a grateful nation.


Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who fought it.  It’s not enough to honor you with words.  Words are cheap.  We must do it with deeds.  You stood up for America; America needs to stand up for you.


THE PRESIDENT:  That’s why, as your Commander-in Chief, I am committed to making sure that you get the care and the benefits and the opportunities that you’ve earned. For those of you who remain in uniform, we will do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our force –- including your families.  We will keep faith with you.
We will help our wounded warriors heal, and we will stand by those who’ve suffered the unseen wounds of war.  And make no mistake -- as we go forward as a nation, we are going to keep America’s armed forces the strongest fighting force the world has ever seen.  That will not stop.

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That will not stop.  But our commitment doesn’t end when you take off the uniform.  You’re the finest that our nation has to offer.  And after years of rebuilding Iraq, we want to enlist our veterans in the work of rebuilding America.  That’s why we’re committed to doing everything we can to extend more opportunities to those who have served.

That includes the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, so that you and your families can get the education that allows you to live out your dreams.  That includes a national effort to put our veterans to work.  We’ve worked with Congress to pass a tax credit so that companies have the incentive to hire vets.  And Michelle has worked with the private sector to get commitments to create 100,000 jobs for those who’ve served.


THE PRESIDENT:  And by the way, we’re doing this not just because it’s the right thing to do by you –- we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do for America.  Folks like my grandfather came back from World War II to form the backbone of this country’s middle class.  For our post-9/11 veterans -– with your skill, with your discipline, with your leadership, I am confident that the story of your service to America is just beginning.
But there’s something else that we owe you.  As Americans, we have a responsibility to learn from your service.  I’m thinking of an example -- Lieutenant Alvin Shell, who was based here at Fort Bragg.  A few years ago, on a supply route outside Baghdad, he and his team were engulfed by flames from an RPG attack.  Covered with gasoline, he ran into the fire to help his fellow soldiers, and then led them two miles back to Camp Victory where he finally collapsed, covered with burns.  When they told him he was a hero, Alvin disagreed.  “I’m not a hero,” he said.  “A hero is a sandwich. “  (Laughter.)  “I’m a paratrooper.”


THE PRESIDENT:  We could do well to learn from Alvin.  This country needs to learn from you.  Folks in Washington need to learn from you.


THE PRESIDENT:  Policymakers and historians will continue to analyze the strategic lessons of Iraq -- that’s important to do.  Our commanders will incorporate the hard-won lessons into future military campaigns -- that’s important to do.  But the most important lesson that we can take from you is not about military strategy –- it’s a lesson about our national character.

For all of the challenges that our nation faces, you remind us that there’s nothing we Americans can’t do when we stick together.


THE PRESIDENT:  For all the disagreements that we face, you remind us there’s something bigger than our differences, something that makes us one nation and one people regardless of color, regardless of creed, regardless of what part of the country we come from, regardless of what backgrounds we come out of.  You remind us we’re one nation.

And that’s why the United States military is the most respected institution in our land because you never forget that.  You can’t afford to forget it.  If you forget it, somebody dies.  If you forget it, a mission fails.  So you don’t forget it.  You have each other’s backs.  That’s why you, the 9/11 Generation, has earned your place in history.

Because of you -- because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny.  That’s part of what makes us special as Americans.  Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources.  We do it because it’s right.  There can be no fuller expression of America’s support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people.  That says something about who we are.

Because of you, in Afghanistan we’ve broken the momentum of the Taliban.  Because of you, we’ve begun a transition to the Afghans that will allow us to bring our troops home from there.  And around the globe, as we draw down in Iraq, we have gone after al Qaeda so that terrorists who threaten America will have no safe haven, and Osama bin Laden will never again walk the face of this Earth. 

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  So here’s what I want you to know, and here’s what I want all our men and women in uniform to know:  Because of you, we are ending these wars in a way that will make America stronger and the world more secure.  Because of you.

That success was never guaranteed.  And let us never forget the source of American leadership:  our commitment to the values that are written into our founding documents, and a unique willingness among nations to pay a great price for the progress of human freedom and dignity.  This is who we are.  That’s what we do as Americans, together.

The war in Iraq will soon belong to history.  Your service belongs to the ages.  Never forget that you are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries –- from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you –- men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.

Looking back on the war that saved our union, a great American, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once paid tribute to those who served.  “In our youth,” he said, “our hearts were touched with fire.  It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”

All of you here today have lived through the fires of war.  You will be remembered for it.  You will be honored for it -- always.  You have done something profound with your lives.  When this nation went to war, you signed up to serve.  When times were tough, you kept fighting.  When there was no end in sight, you found light in the darkness.

And years from now, your legacy will endure in the names of your fallen comrades etched on headstones at Arlington, and the quiet memorials across our country; in the whispered words of admiration as you march in parades, and in the freedom of our children and our grandchildren. 

And in the quiet of night, you will recall that your heart was once touched by fire.  You will know that you answered when your country called; you served a cause greater than yourselves; you helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq, and among all nations.
I could not be prouder of you, and America could not be prouder of you.

God bless you all, God bless your families, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)
12:26 P.M. EST

Monday, December 12, 2011

UN Mischief from Durban to Rio - Phyllis Schlafly

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, opening on Nov. 28, called COP-17, is one of a series of U.N. meetings working toward a specific goal. Advertising for this meeting features a long list of invited celebrities including Angelina Jolie, U2's Bono, Ted Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hillary Clinton Speech on International Human Rights Day LGBT

Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Palais des Nations

Geneva, Switzerland

December 6, 2011

Definition Acronym Citations in Transcript :
UN (The Abbreviation UN is replaced with the full word United Nations for clarity)
LGBT (The abreviation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender is replaced with translation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender)

Good evening, and let me express my deep honor and pleasure at being here. I want to thank Director General Tokayev and Ms. Wyden along with other ministers, ambassadors, excellencies, and United Nations partners. This weekend, we will celebrate Human Rights Day, the anniversary of one of the great accomplishments of the last century.Beginning in 1947, delegates from six continents devoted themselves to drafting a declaration that would enshrine the fundamental rights and freedoms of people everywhere. In the aftermath of World War II, many nations pressed for a statement of this kind to help ensure that we would prevent future atrocities and protect the inherent humanity and dignity of all people. And so the delegates went to work. They discussed, they wrote, they revisited, revised, rewrote, for thousands of hours. And they incorporated suggestions and revisions from governments, organizations, and individuals around the world.

At three o’clock in the morning on December 10th, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the UN General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.

In the 63 years since the declaration was adopted, many nations have made great progress in making human rights a human reality. Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away. In many places, racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured.

In most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities.

Now, there is still, as you all know, much more to be done to secure that commitment, that reality, and progress for all people. Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm.

I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.

Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus that recognizes the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens everywhere.

The first issue goes to the heart of the matter. Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

The second issue is a question of whether homosexuality arises from a particular part of the world. Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors.

Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do. South Africa’s constitution, written in the aftermath of Apartheid, protects the equality of all citizens, including gay people. In Colombia and Argentina, the rights of gays are also legally protected. In Nepal, the supreme court has ruled that equal rights apply to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens. The Government of Mongolia has committed to pursue new legislation that will tackle anti-gay discrimination.

Now, some worry that protecting the human rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community is a luxury that only wealthy nations can afford. But in fact, in all countries, there are costs to not protecting these rights, in both gay and straight lives lost to disease and violence, and the silencing of voices and views that would strengthen communities, in ideas never pursued by entrepreneurs who happen to be gay. Costs are incurred whenever any group is treated as lesser or the other, whether they are women, racial, or religious minorities, or the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. Former President Mogae of Botswana pointed out recently that for as long as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people are kept in the shadows, there cannot be an effective public health program to tackle HIV and AIDS. Well, that holds true for other challenges as well.

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.

In each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.

Of course, it bears noting that rarely are cultural and religious traditions and teachings actually in conflict with the protection of human rights. Indeed, our religion and our culture are sources of compassion and inspiration toward our fellow human beings. It was not only those who’ve justified slavery who leaned on religion, it was also those who sought to abolish it. And let us keep in mind that our commitments to protect the freedom of religion and to defend the dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people emanate from a common source. For many of us, religious belief and practice is a vital source of meaning and identity, and fundamental to who we are as people. And likewise, for most of us, the bonds of love and family that we forge are also vital sources of meaning and identity. And caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human. It is because the human experience is universal that human rights are universal and cut across all religions and cultures.

The fourth issue is what history teaches us about how we make progress towards rights for all. Progress starts with honest discussion. Now, there are some who say and believe that all gay people are pedophiles, that homosexuality is a disease that can be caught or cured, or that gays recruit others to become gay. Well, these notions are simply not true. They are also unlikely to disappear if those who promote or accept them are dismissed out of hand rather than invited to share their fears and concerns. No one has ever abandoned a belief because he was forced to do so.

Universal human rights include freedom of expression and freedom of belief, even if our words or beliefs denigrate the humanity of others. Yet, while we are each free to believe whatever we choose, we cannot do whatever we choose, not in a world where we protect the human rights of all.

Reaching understanding of these issues takes more than speech. It does take a conversation. In fact, it takes a constellation of conversations in places big and small. And it takes a willingness to see stark differences in belief as a reason to begin the conversation, not to avoid it.

But progress comes from changes in laws. In many places, including my own country, legal protections have preceded, not followed, broader recognition of rights. Laws have a teaching effect. Laws that discriminate validate other kinds of discrimination. Laws that require equal protections reinforce the moral imperative of equality. And practically speaking, it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate.

Many in my country thought that President Truman was making a grave error when he ordered the racial desegregation of our military. They argued that it would undermine unit cohesion. And it wasn’t until he went ahead and did it that we saw how it strengthened our social fabric in ways even the supporters of the policy could not foresee. Likewise, some worried in my country that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have a negative effect on our armed forces. Now, the Marine Corps Commandant, who was one of the strongest voices against the repeal, says that his concerns were unfounded and that the Marines have embraced the change.

Finally, progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, “How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?” This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.

A fifth and final question is how we do our part to bring the world to embrace human rights for all people including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Yes, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people must help lead this effort, as so many of you are. Their knowledge and experiences are invaluable and their courage inspirational. We know the names of brave Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activists who have literally given their lives for this cause, and there are many more whose names we will never know. But often those who are denied rights are least empowered to bring about the changes they seek. Acting alone, minorities can never achieve the majorities necessary for political change.

So when any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines. Every time a barrier to progress has fallen, it has taken a cooperative effort from those on both sides of the barrier. In the fight for women’s rights, the support of men remains crucial. The fight for racial equality has relied on contributions from people of all races. Combating Islamaphobia or anti-Semitism is a task for people of all faiths. And the same is true with this struggle for equality.

Conversely, when we see denials and abuses of human rights and fail to act, that sends the message to those deniers and abusers that they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions, and so they carry on. But when we do act, we send a powerful moral message. Right here in Geneva, the international community acted this year to strengthen a global consensus around the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. At the Human Rights Council in March, 85 countries from all regions supported a statement calling for an end to criminalization and violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

At the following session of the Council in June, South Africa took the lead on a resolution about violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. The delegation from South Africa spoke eloquently about their own experience and struggle for human equality and its indivisibility. When the measure passed, it became the first-ever UN resolution recognizing the human rights of gay people worldwide. In the Organization of American States this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created a unit on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, a step toward what we hope will be the creation of a special rapporteur.

Now, we must go further and work here and in every region of the world to galvanize more support for the human rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay.

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.

And finally, to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.

The Obama Administration defends the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws, and working with a range of partners to strengthen human rights protections for all. In Washington, we have created a task force at the State Department to support and coordinate this work. And in the coming months, we will provide every embassy with a toolkit to help improve their efforts. And we have created a program that offers emergency support to defenders of human rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons.

I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world. This fund will help them record facts so they can target their advocacy, learn how to use the law as a tool, manage their budgets, train their staffs, and forge partnerships with women’s organizations and other human rights groups. We have committed more than $3 million to start this fund, and we have hope that others will join us in supporting it.

The women and men who advocate for human rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in hostile places, some of whom are here today with us, are brave and dedicated, and deserve all the help we can give them. We know the road ahead will not be easy. A great deal of work lies before us. But many of us have seen firsthand how quickly change can come. In our lifetimes, attitudes toward gay people in many places have been transformed. Many people, including myself, have experienced a deepening of our own convictions on this topic over the years, as we have devoted more thought to it, engaged in dialogues and debates, and established personal and professional relationships with people who are gay.

This evolution is evident in many places. To highlight one example, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality in India two years ago, writing, and I quote, “If there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.” There is little doubt in my mind that support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender human rights will continue to climb. Because for many young people, this is simple: All people deserve to be treated with dignity and have their human rights respected, no matter who they are or whom they love.

There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” The story of the United States is the story of a nation that has repeatedly grappled with intolerance and inequality. We fought a brutal civil war over slavery. People from coast to coast joined in campaigns to recognize the rights of women, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, workers, and on and on. And the march toward equality and justice has continued. Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.

I know that the thoughts I’ve shared today involve questions on which opinions are still evolving. As it has happened so many times before, opinion will converge once again with the truth, the immutable truth, that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights. We are called once more to make real the words of the Universal Declaration. Let us answer that call. Let us be on the right side of history, for our people, our nations, and future generations, whose lives will be shaped by the work we do today. I come before you with great hope and confidence that no matter how long the road ahead, we will travel it successfully together. Thank you very much. (Applause.)