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Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

President Barack Obama’s Address to the Nation

Focus: An End of Combat Operations in Iraq

Along with the end to the war in Iraq is the old decor of the Oval Office.  President Obama in the Oval Office in 2009.
Calling an end to U.S. combat involvement in Iraq, President Obama remarked - from his newly decorated Oval Office - that, ending the war is in the interest of Americans.

“Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. Adding that the U.S. has "paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people."

New focus. New direction. New Oval Office 2010.
“Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”

President Obama made at least two phone calls to former president George W. Bush today.   It was not revealed what the two discussed.  The Bush administration launched the invasion of Iraq during the two year period following the 9-11 attacks of the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon.

Since then over 4,400 Americans and countless Iraqis have given their lives.

Moving forward, President Obama further stated “Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jump start industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.”

As the end of one war comes to a close, the war in Afghanistan still prevails.  With threats that al Qaeda continues to plot against the U.S. the president has deployed additional troops into the Afghan region with the hope of  "disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda."

The U.S. military plans to train Afghan Security Forces in what the White House an effort to "build their own capacity, and secure their own future", based on conditions in the region.

The president made no mention of, nor gave a time table for when U.S. involvement would seize in Afghanistan, but stated that "open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s."

Watch the address below.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saluting Our Troops

Your Opportunity To Say Thanks

On August 31, 2010, President Obama will mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq. To celebrate, the President kicks off  'Saluting Service In Iraq'.

The White House is encouraging you to sign up and give your remarks via various social networking venues.

YouTube: Post a video response to the President's message (seen below) on the White House YouTube channel or tag your video with SaluteTroops.
Facebook: There are several ways to salute on facebook, you can update your status, change your profile picture or post your message of thanks on the White House Facebook Page.
Twitter: Use the hashtag #salutetroops in your Twitter message.
Flickr: Salute the troops on Flickr with a photo and message by using the tag SaluteTroops.
WhiteHouse.gov: Submit messages via a whitehouse.gov online form.
 


In July, Vice President Biden welcomed home the 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Iraq.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. At his Camp Lejeune speech on February 27, 2009, President Obama announced that the United States would end its combat mission on August 31, 2010, and retain a transitional force of up to 50,000 U.S. troops to train and advise Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered and targeted counter-terrorism operations; and protect ongoing U.S. civilian and military efforts.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

President To Visit New Orleans In Wake of Katrina 5-Year Anniversary

Administration Officials Participate In Week Long Events

President Obama to speak at Louisiana's Xavier University. Photo/CD Brown.
The President and First Lady will travel to New Orleans where the President will deliver a speech at Xavier University on the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The University of Louisiana was hit by the hurricane, covering the entire campus with several feet of water, leaving many to speculate whether the school would rebuild and continue.   Katrina displaced the university's students, staff, and faculty across the nation.

After an intense cleanup and reconstruction, the university was able to reopen within 5 months, enrolling  80% of its students.

President Obama spoke during the university's 2006 commencement, one year after Katrina.

"Remember the pain and neglect that indifference can cause", said president Obama. "How entire neighborhoods in this city were left to drown because no one thought to make sure that every person had the means to escape."

Since his address the Obama administration has worked to improve overall disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, so that the Gulf Coast and all of the country will be more resilient and better able to handle future disasters.  (Click here to learn more about the president's Gulf Coast efforts).

Administration officials also have events scheduled in Gulf Coast this week commemorating the anniversary.

On Wednesday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate visited St. Bernard Parish schools.

Today, August 26, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited J.S. Clark Elementary School in Monroe, LA, with Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to discuss the importance of nutrition and exercise.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan's will attend a “Welcome Home” event hosted by Rebuilding Together in New Orleans, LA.  Donovan and Administrator Fugatewill also participate in a field hearing in Chalmette, LA on Katrina recovery, hosted by Senator Landrieu.

Other planned appearances this week by the administration are as follows: 

Secretary Donovan and Patrick Corvington, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service will deliver remarks at the St. Bernard Project’s 50-Hour Build Kick-Off Event, New Orleans, LA.

Administrator Jackson will deliver the keynote at a conference, Fighting for Survival: The Vulnerability of America’s Gulf Coast and the Caribbean Basin, at Tulane University.

Administrator Fugate will tour three FEMA-funded recovery projects in New Orleans – a school, a transportation project and a hospital.

Friday, August 27, Secretary Duncan will visit the Kids College at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS. to discuss teacher recruitment.

Secretary Duncan will also visit George C. Hall Elementary School in Mobile, AL. The focus of this event will be turnaround schools.

Secretary Donovan will deliver remarks at the Silver Lining Breakfast sponsored by the Louisiana Recovery Disaster Foundation.

Administrator Jackson will meet with volunteers at the “Wave of Green” in City Park and will speak at the TEDxNOLA conference in Le Petit Theatre. She will also speak at a summit with students at the Wilson School and will discuss her background and the work of EPA in the gulf.

Administrator Fugate will tour recovery projects in Biloxi, MS including a fire station, Biloxi Light House, and a highway project.

Mr. Corvington will deliver opening remarks at the Louisiana Organization of Non-profit Organizations conference focusing on community service and volunteerism, and participate in a Community Dialogue. The Dialogue will gather together community stakeholders to inform the Corporation’s five year strategy.

Corvington will also participate in an event to celebrate the efforts of Reach Out and Read, an organization that has given out 1 million books to children through doctors who mentor parents and their young children on the importance of reading at a young age.

On Saturday, August 28, Corvington will participate in a ribbon cutting hosted by Rebuilding Together. The event will commemorate and celebrate all of the work that AmeriCorps and other volunteer organizations have done to rebuild communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

On Sunday, August 29, Secretary Napolitano and Deputy FEMA Administrator Rich Serino will travel to Mississippi.

A limited number of public tickets are available for the president's event on August 29 at Xavier University.

Members of the public who wish to request tickets must fill out an online form or call 202-757-9406.  [NOTE: Filling out the form DOES NOT guarantee a ticket to the event, but only qualifies you to be selected for a ticket in the random drawing].

Related:  Katrina Documentaries
God Willing & The Creek Don't Rise
Trouble The Water
Our Interview With HK Survivors

On The Same Day: Which One Is Authentic? Reclaiming the Dream, Or Restoring Honor.

Calling Out Glenn Beck.


Fox News' Glenn Beck planned a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Dr. King's I Have A Dream Speech.

Can Someone Get This Guy Some Prozac? Beck Needs It.

Beck claims he didn't plan to have his 'restore honor to America' rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary at the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech.

Given the above facts, it sounds premeditated to me.

Not only did he plan it, he orchestrated the event to the tea (literally), even to include King's neice, Dr. Alveda King.  At what other moment in time has Beck ever called on Dr. Alveda King?  I'll bet none. 

To add insult to injury Beck has Sarah (I-can't-form-a-single-thought-in-my-head-everything-that-comes-out-my-mouth-makes-me-sound-like-an-idiot) Palin on the list as a speaker.

What the world needs now:  Is NOT another Sarah Palin speech.

Hey, Beck! If you want to restore 'honor' to America (if you believe it really had any) then stop being America's hate monger.

Beck is the epitome of a TV host on steroids. He is America's obsessive-compulsive disorder: a bothersome thought (in this case, a person) that won't go away with the need to perform (self-serving) actions over and over again.

So, when you start to think about all the variables involved in Beck's scheme, you'll find it's not about restoring America's honor.  It's deeper than that.  It's really Beck, and his supporters, saying "I don't like the idea of a mosque being built at the site of New York's 9/11 attack.  (After all, you wouldn't hold a reenactment of a plane hitting the Pentagon and call it restoring honor in the name of those who died there).  Additionally, Beck doesn't like the fact that President Obama hasn't spoken out against it. (He's called the president a racist).

The building of a mosque to honor a group of people that allegedly killed Americans is an insult to Beck (and most others, understandably).  And to Beck, he thinks he must also insult.

Who could he possibly insult in the worse way? Those who honor America's most revered human being.

Why else would he pick the exact location, on the exact date?  To call the Beck event a 'coincident' just makes Beck look like what he is. A liar.

With Labor Day just around the corner, he could have just as well called a 'Restore Honor To America' rally during Labor Day weekend.  

Call it 'Restore Jobs To America' day.  America needs more of that, than the hate Beck spews.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the very speech being honored and remebered this weekend, "We must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.  Let us not seek to find our search for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."

Related
Reclaiming The Dream Rally
Beck's 'Restore Honor' Rally
No Beck Rally For This Performance?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kendrick Meek Wins Democratic Primary

Today, Floridians overwhelmingly chose Kendrick Meek as their Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Kendrick won the primary as Floridians embraced Kendrick as a fighter for the middle class even though his campaign was outspent six-to-one.

Meek celebrates after winning Florida Senate primary over billionaire Jeff Greene.
"Tonight, Floridians sent a clear message - they want a Real Democrat representing them in the U.S. Senate," said Kendrick Meek. "I am the only candidate who supports a woman's right to choose and equal pay for equal work, has fought against privatizing Social Security, and will repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans and cut taxes for the middle class", said Meek.

"Floridians need leaders who are willing to stand up for middle-class families -- tireless fighters who know what it means to tackle big issues. They deserve leaders who will fight tooth-and-nail to preserve Social Security and will stand with President Obama to rebuild Florida's middle class. Most of all, Floridians want leaders who will fight for them all the time, not just when it helps their own political career or advances an extreme philosophy."

Meek won over billionaire businessman Jeff Greene who spent well over $20 million of his own funds in the campaign.  Greene has been called out for his recent scandals involving mortgage fraud and his excessively lavish lifestyle.

"The naysayers said we couldn't beat a billionaire, and tonight with your help, we proved them wrong. We have the momentum in this race, and over the next 70 days, we'll make sure that every Floridian knows that there is just one candidate who will fight for everyday Florida families. In 10 weeks, Floridians will prove the naysayers wrong once more and send a Real Democrat to Washington, D.C."

Kendrick now faces two lifelong conservative Republicans in the race for U.S. Senate, Republican Marco Rubio and gay Republican-turned-independent, Gov. Charlie Crist.

Fenty Wants You To Know...

The campaign to reelect Fenty wants to show what he's done these last 4 years for the city of D.C.

Read his latest campaign newsletter where he praises the opening of the "modernized Stoddert Elementary" school, and boasts  "gone are the days of schools not opening on time".
Adrian M. Fenty with school chancellor Michelle Rhee. Rhee is to be wed on September 4th. (Does she have the right one? )
Writes Fenty...
This has been an incredible week for DC students. Gone are the days when schools failed to open on time, textbooks weren't delivered, and bathrooms didn't work. Instead, we opened the modernized Stoddert Elementary, we've launched a new Safe Routes to School initiative, and today, we'll unveil the brand new Eastern Senior High School. We've replaced delay, inefficiency, and a school system that was failing our kids with new schools, better programs, and dramatic increases in student achievement. We won't stop until every child has a chance to succeed.
And what could be a greater affirmation than yesterday's announcement that the District will receive $75 million in Race to the Top Funds. Four years ago, no one would have guessed that DC could out-compete jurisdictions across the country for federal funding that rewards successful public education reform. That's how far we've come towards making sure every child can excel.

Washington, DC is finally showing the nation that we care about our future. Get involved today to help us make sure all District children have the opportunities they deserve.
Sincerely,

Adrian
Wow.  At election year, everyone cares about the schools.  Where were the politicians when the schools weren't opening on time, or were short of text books, supplies, and bathroom tissue? If you look at the finalists in the Race To The Top campaign, you'll see that D.C. ranks at the bottom for both Math and Reading - during Fenty's tenure as mayor.

And he's been mayor how long?  Since 2006. 
Yes, it really is about the kids, stupid - as one DC columnist puts it (and parents and teachers have known forever).

Why are you just acting like it now?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

White House Fights Back

Issues Facts In Response To Republican's Claims

Tired of attacks from the Republicans, the Obama administration issued a series of 'Fact Checks' in response to claims from John Boehner (R-OH) that the administration's policies have failed and have taken the country nowhere.

In a statement issued today, the White House said, "Today John Boehner proved once again that his party would only take the country back to the failed policies of the past – policies that cost more than 8 million American jobs – and launched a series of false attacks on the measures that the President is pushing to create jobs, invest in our small businesses and cut taxes for businesses and middle class families."

The administration claims that Boehner belittles the jobs and livelihoods of firefighters, cops and teachers. "First, Congressman Boehner attacks the jobs bill the President signed last month that saved hundreds of thousands of jobs of hardworking teachers, cops and firefighters, dismissing these hardworking Americans who teach our kids keep our communities safe as "a  26 billion dollar ‘stimulus’ spending bill that funnels money to state governments in order to protect government jobs.”

The White House fired back saying that, in fact, "The recently enacted legislation will save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers."
The claims and fact responses go back and forth in a firestorm of  'he said', 'we say' mannerism on issues like tax loopholes, tax hikes, and deficits.

You know what's really a fact?

The American people can't wait for the two parties to figure it out. 

Stop the bickering.  While you go home to your luxury residences at the end of each day, (to a home cooked meal) remember that the American people are hurting for jobs, housing, and a sense that their government is on their side. 

I saw a woman holding a sign today at a traffic intersection that said, 'Mom of three needs money for food and rent.'

While the two parties engage in bi-partisan politics, a mother in our area struggles.  This should never happen anywhere, yet alone in America.

Vice President Biden Addresses Veterans of Foreign Wars

“Honor The Dead By Helping the Living.”


During an address by Vice President Biden at the 111th VFW National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Biden thanked veterans for establishing the Department of Veterans Affairs and building a National Cemetery System.

"You worked to secure a better future for service members and their families by helping pass two GI bills", said Biden.

Biden told the assembled crowd their work "has never been more important than it is today". 
 

Report on Recovery Act Impact on Innovation

Vice President Joe Biden today unveiled a new report, “The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation,” which finds that the Recovery Act’s $100 billion investment in innovation is not only transforming the economy and creating new jobs, but helping accelerate significant advances in science and technology that cut costs for consumers, save lives and help keep America competitive in the 21st century economy.

“From the beginning, we have been a nation of discovery and innovation – and today we continue in that tradition as Recovery Act investments pave the way for game-changing breakthroughs in transportation, energy and medical research,” said Vice President Biden. “We’re planting the seeds of innovation, but private companies and the nation’s top researchers are helping them grow, launching entire new industries, transforming our economy and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process.”

According to this new analysis, the U.S. is now on-track to achieve four major innovation breakthroughs thanks to Recovery Act investments that include cutting the cost of solar power in half by 2015, (putting it on par with the cost of retail electricity from the grid); cutting the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015 (putting the lifetime cost of an electric vehicle on-par with that of its non-electric counterpart); doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity and U.S. renewable manufacturing capacity by 2012 (a breakthrough that would not be possible without the Recovery Act), and bringing the cost of a personal human genome map to under $1,000 in five years, allowing researchers to sequence 50 human genomes for the same cost as sequencing just one today.

The report can be viewed in full here.

Shirley Sherrod NOT Coming Back To US Agricultural Department

Wants To Sort Over Past Month's Events

Shirley Sherrod, not returning to US Department of Agriculture.

In a session earlier today, ousted and disgraced USDA employee, Shirley Sherrod stated that though the offer from USDA's Secretary Tom Vilsack to return was tempting, she needs a little time to "sort things out", and "take a break" from all she's had to deal with.

As such, she's not coming back (at this time) to work at the USDA.

"I think I can be helpful to him and the department if I just take a little break and look at how I can be more helpful in the future," Sherrod said.

Sherrod was ousted from her position at the USDA amid out-of-context remarks that surfaced on the Internet earlier this month.

Not ruling out the possibility of staying connected with the USDA, Sherrod said, "I look forward to some type of relationship with the department in the future," she said. "We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and race in this country."

Vilsack claimed he worked hard at attempting to woo Sherrod back to her former organization, but stated also that it was he who was responsible for getting her fired in the first place.

"I disappointed the president, I disappointed this administration, I disappointed the country, I disappointed Shirley. I have to live with that," Vilsack said.

As The New School Year Approaches...

USDA Encourages Schools to Take the HealthierUS School Challenge to Help Improve the Nutrition of School Children Nationwide

New Steps Taken To Make Challenge Easier and More Successful


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today encouraged schools throughout the country to participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that helps improve the health and nutrition of children. USDA created the HUSSC to recognize schools that maintain healthy school environments by improving the quality of meals and increasing physical activity and nutrition education. The HUSSC is also a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.

"Even as Congress considers legislation to make historic improvements to school meals, there are also steps that moms and dads and others in the community can take to improve the health and nutrition of the meals their kids eat each day," said Vilsack. "While many schools have made healthful changes to school meals, more can be accomplished. The Challenge encourages schools to take voluntary extra steps toward improving the nutrition of all foods offered in schools, enhancing the opportunity for children to be physically active during the school day and providing nutrition education to help them learn how to make healthy lifestyle decisions."

In February 2010, USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama called on stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Currently 794 HUSSC awards have been made to schools. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is making it easier and more appealing for schools to take the HUSSC including:

Providing schools monetary incentives for earning HUSSC certification. FNS certifies schools as Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver or Bronze status. HUSSC schools receive $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze; Offering an online HUSSC toolkit to provide schools a step by step guide on how to navigate the application process; and providing schools with a range of educational and technical assistance materials that promote consumption of fruits and vegetables and other key aspects of the Dietary Guidelines – including a Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals.

According to an Institute of Medicine Report released in October 2009, school-age children eat too many discretionary calories, too few fruits and vegetables, particularly dark green and dark orange fruits and vegetables, too few whole grains and low-fat dairy products and too many solid fats and sugars. Over the past two decades, USDA has worked to eliminate or reduce levels of fat, sodium and sugar in foods it makes available to schools and other outlets.

"If you look at the health and nutrition of our nation's children, you can see we need immediate action," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. "Obesity is growing faster than any other public health issue in the United States. The HUSSC raises the bar and helps schools improve the quality of school meals and increase the participation in school meal programs. We can accomplish a number of these goals through rapid passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization now before Congress."

Improving USDA's child nutrition programs are a top priority of the Obama Administration. Congress is currently considering legislation to bolster the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Summer Food Service Programs. These programs serve nearly 32 million children each school day and work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Improving the Child Nutrition Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign and highlighted in the White House report Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation released Tuesday, May 11. By passing strong reauthorization legislation, the Administration hopes to reduce hunger, promote access, and improve the overall health and nutrition of children throughout the country.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, which touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. More information about FNS and its nutrition assistance programs is available at www.fns.usda.gov.

Related
President to give Back-to-School address on September 14th
Revisit last year's Back-to-School address at Wakefield High

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Before 10 Day Vacation President Talks The Economy

Wants Congress To "Help Our Small Businesses"

Before the president left for Martha's Vineyard on a ten day family vacation, he urged the small minority bi-partisan groups of individuals (again) to stop playing politics, calling their action an "obstruction that defies common sense."

"For the last several months, I have been urging Congress to pass a jobs bill that will do two big things for small businesses -- cut their taxes and make loans more available. I have been adamant about this because small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two out of every three new jobs in this country. And while a lot of big businesses and big banks have started recovering from this recession, small businesses and community banks that loan to small businesses have been lagging behind. They need help. And if we want this economy to create more jobs more quickly, we need to help them."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day of Religious Tolerance and Healing

President Obama's recent statement about a mosque at Ground Zero highlights the deep wounds that still exist between Christians and Muslims in America after September 11, 2001.



"The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground", President Obama said.

The president virtually gave the okay for the resurrection of a Muslim mosque near the site of Ground Zero.

"But let me be clear: As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of our founders must endure," Obama added.

Critics of the president's remark include House Minority Leader John Boehner who said: "The decision to build this mosque so close to the site of ground zero is deeply troubling, as is the president's decision to endorse it. The American people certainly don't support it."

New York Rep. Peter King said: "President Obama is wrong. It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much. The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the president caved into political correctness."

Strip club near site of proposed Muslim mosque.

Just blocks from the proposed site sits a bevy of not-so-family-oriented stores and businesses that include a strip club, several bars, and an off-track betting.

Amy Goodman (the best reporter, bar none) of Democracy NOW spoke with the mother of a 9/11 victim, and several Muslims on the topic.  View video below.



Also, one organization is hoping to bring Americans together on this divisive issue.

On their website, the Pray at the Pump Movement (PAPM) states, "In order to heal these wounds, the is encouraging the entire country to join in a day of Religious Tolerance and Healing scheduled for Sabbath August 28 and Sunday August 29."

Read more.

The group is staging a prayer rally in front of theWhite House on August, 20.

Monday, August 16, 2010

President Obama On Trip To The Gulf

Tells Americans "Come On Down!" ("And visit") 

As President Obama raps up his visit to the Gulf with his family, he remains committed to the people of the region.

"The President was clear that though the well has been capped and the oil is no longer spilling from the ocean floor, there is still work to be done."

The administration continues to bill BP for the disaster and is making sure BP compensates those affected.

With this massive fiasco seemingly behind us, and the cleanup in the foreground, the Commander In Chief is taking somekick butt (yeah, we said it) action.

In this new video, President Obama's message is clear.



Thought you might like that.  

Kendrick Meek Gets Approval From Democratic Heavy Hitters

Former President Bill Clinton Rallies For Kendrick Meek

Bill Clinton shown here with Kendrick Meek, candidate for U.S. Senate.
Former President Bill Clinton will make appearances at three South Florida rallies on Monday to stump for Kendrick Meek's United States Senate campaign.

His first stop includes an event at Pompey Park this afternoon at 4pm (1101 Northwest 2nd Street, Delray Beach, Florida), followed by a 6pm event at the Olympia Theater At The Gusman Performing Arts Center (174 East Flagler Street in Miami, Florida).

Meek has also gained the approval of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Last week The Kendrick Meek campaign released a robocall recorded by Speaker Nancy Pelosi praising Kendrick's leadership on children's health care.

"I'm humbled to have Speaker Pelosi support my campaign in this way", said Meek. For years, Speaker Pelosi and I have stood together fighting for Florida's children. Her testimonial only further proves that there is just one real Democrat in this race and only one candidate who will fight for middle-class Florida families."

The call was placed to hundreds of thousands Florida households.

In the call, (listen here) Pelosi asks Floridians to support Meek for Senate.

"I'm calling to ask you to vote for Kendrick Meek for U.S. Senate and to set the record straight. Kendrick has an outstanding leadership record on children's health care. Kendrick voted three times for children's health insurance. He worked to make sure we got it passed to fund Florida KidCare. To say anything else, is not true."

Speaker Pelosi also appeared in the Meek campaign's second campaign ad, shown here.

Meek is running against billionaire Jeff Greene. Voting in the Florida primary takes place on August 24th.

Meek also made an appearance at DNC fundraising event with President Obama while the First Family visited the region this past weekend.  Meek was a huge supporter of Hiliary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Ain't that a hoot.

Personal Note:  I always saw Meek as a presidential candiate the moment I heard him speak at an event in Washington in 2007. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fairfax County Teachers Embark on Cultural Exchange to Sister Jurisdiction

Two Fairfax County English teachers have embarked on a month-long journey to our partner in Korea where they will have the opportunity to meet with Korean teachers and students, and explore the vast cultural offerings of the Songpa-gu district of Seoul, South Korea.

The trip, generously funded by the Songpa-gu government, includes trips to museums and tours of markets and the countryside. Songpa-gu families will host our two teachers, where they will have the unique opportunity to be immersed in the language and culture of South Korea.

We are so honored and happy to accept the offer of our counterparts in Seoul, and its residents, to host our teachers and give them such a great opportunity to learn about Songpa-gu. I thank Mayor Kim Young-Soon for helping initiate this program and look forward to discussing future opportunities with the new mayor, Mayor Park Choon-hee when she visits Fairfax County this fall.

Representing Fairfax County on this trip are two highly respected high school ESOL teachers: Laura Brown of West Potomac High School and Brian Olmes of Robinson Secondary School.

Laura and Brian will spend their mornings in Songpa-gu working at Posung High School, a prestigious boys high school. There, they will meet with teachers and students and teach them about life and school in the U.S. and learn about what it's like to be a student, and a teacher, in Korea. The school is not in session, but will be running a special English program while Laura and Brian are there.

In the afternoons, they will take in all that Songpa-gu has to offer, including the National Museum of Korea, the Dongmaedun and Namdaemun markets, and the National Folk Museum.
The evening time will be spent with their host families, where they will learn first hand about the rich history of our sister jurisdiction.

Laura and Brian arrived in Seoul on July 23, and will return to Virginia on August 23. I look forward to hearing about their experience in Songpa-gu.

On July 13, 2009 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors entered into a Sisterhood Partnership with the Songpa-gu. The government of Songpa-gu sought out Fairfax County after researching several localities and finding many similarities with our county. The district has a population of approximately 620,000 citizens, and hosted the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.

A delegation from Fairfax County visited Songpa-gu in September of last year, and toured Youngdongil High School during the trip.

Background.

On July 13, 2009 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors entered into a Sisterhood Partnership with the Songpa-gu. The government of Songpa-gu sought out Fairfax County after researching several localities and finding many similarities with our county. The district has a population of approximately 620,000 citizens, and hosted the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.

A delegation from Fairfax County visited Songpa-gu in September of last year, and toured Youngdongil High School during the trip.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

President Plans Visit On Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

On Sunday, August 29, President Obama will travel to New Orleans, La., to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The visit will include remarks by the President at Xavier University of Louisiana. Members of the President’s Cabinet who have worked to speed recovery and restoration efforts will also be in the region to mark the anniversary.
The First Family traveled to Florida’s Gulf Coast where they are spending this weekend in Panama City Beach, FL.
 
While there, the President and First Lady were joined by area small business owners and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus for a roundtable discussion of the recovery.

The president used the trip to express the gulf's cleanup efforts have been successful.

"I also want to point out that as a result of the cleanup effort, beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, safe, and open for business. That’s one of the reasons Michelle, Sasha, and I are here. The governor and others invited us down to enjoy the beach and the water – to let our fellow Americans know that they should come down here. And not just to support the region, but also because it’s a beautiful place to visit."

In June, the President asked Secretary Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Securing Our Border

Passage of the Southwest Border Security Bill

The president remarks on the signing of the $600-Million Border-Security Bill:
"I have made securing our Southwest Border a top priority since I came to office. That is why my administration has dedicated unprecedented resources and personnel to combating the transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and smuggle people across the border with Mexico. Today's action by Congress answers my call to bolster the essential work of federal law enforcement officials and improve their ability to partner with state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The resources made available through this legislation will build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the Southwest border and across the country. And this new law will also strengthen our partnership with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organizations that operate on both sides of our shared border. So these steps will make an important difference as my administration continues to work with Congress toward bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, and restore responsibility and accountability to our broken immigration system. "

Where All That Money's Going:  Fact Sheet on the President’s Strategic and Integrated Southwest Border Security Strategy.

The President will sign into law a comprehensive plan to secure the Southwest border, including $600 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities, offset by cancelling $100 million from the SBInet program within DHS. Though not specifically provided in this bill, the President has also authorized the deployment of up to an additional, requirements-based 1,200 National Guard troops to the border, a deployment that has already begun.

$600 Million in Additional Resources
The Administration has secured $600 million in supplemental funds which will be utilized to enhance technology at the border, share information and support with state, local, and tribal law enforcement, and increase DOJ and DHS presence and law enforcement activities at the border, to include increased agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money. The supplemental is fully offset by cancelling $100 million from the SBInet program within DHS and from a temporary increase to the fraud prevention and detection fees for some employers seeking high skilled foreign workers.

Department of Homeland Security
The supplemental provides $394 million for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill includes $244 million to hire new and maintain existing levels of Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection Officers, $32 million for two new unmanned aerial detection systems, $6 million for forward operating bases for Border Patrol agents, $14 million for tactical communications to support enforcement activities, and $80 million for new ICE agents and supporting investments along the border, and $8 million to train new law enforcement staff.

Department of Justice
The supplemental provides $196 million for the Department of Justice to surge federal law enforcement officers in the Southwest border region and the temporary deployment of personnel to high crime areas. Location of assignments will be operationally dependent. Specifically, Justice funding would increase the presence of federal law enforcement in the Southwest border districts by adding seven (7) ATF Gunrunner Teams, five (5) FBI Hybrid Task Forces, additional DEA agents, equipment, operational support, and additional attorneys including over thirty (30) prosecutors and immigration judges. It also would provide additional funds for detention and incarceration of criminal aliens in coordination with Department of Homeland Security enforcement activities.

The supplemental request would also provide funding to support Mexican law enforcement operations with ballistic analysis, DNA analysis, information sharing, technical capabilities, and technical assistance, including over twenty (20) Deputy US Marshals dedicated to the Mexican Investigative Liaison Program and the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) to address cross-border investigations.

Additional National Guard Deployment
The President has also authorized the deployment of up to an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to provide intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance support; and immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement until Customs and Border Protection can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border.

Unprecedented Resources Already Being Dedicated
The Obama Administration has dedicated an unprecedented amount of resources to securing the border and combating the flows of drugs, weapons, and cash on the borders. During the past year, since the Southwest Border Initiative was launched, the Administration has doubled the personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces by deploying additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents; tripled the number of ICE intelligence analysts focused on cartel violence along the Southwest border; quintupled deployments of ICE Border Liaison Officers; begun screening, for the first time, 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash; deployed thousands of technology assets along the Southwest Border and currently has 150 operational aerial assets along the Southwest border; deployed two new DEA SWB enforcement groups in El Paso and Phoenix, and added 25 new DEA intelligence analysts; deployed two new FBI Border Corruption Task Forces in Del Rio and Houston.

The administration has also added 200 new U.S. Marshal service positions including Deputy U.S. Marshals and Asset Forfeiture Criminal Investigators at the Southwest Border to increase fugitive apprehension and cross border violent crime response; to identify and seize the financial assets of the cartels; to increase court security and prisoner operations; and to investigate and mitigate security threats and improve security awareness for judiciary and other court personnel; surged ATF agents to Arizona to target gun trafficking to Mexico; hired nearly 50 additional Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys to prosecute drug and arms trafficking and bulk cash smuggling by the Mexican cartels, and added five DOJ attorneys to focus exclusively on extradition requests from Mexico. There were 107 extraditions from Mexico to the United States in 2009, a record, compared to 12 in 2000; increased cooperation with U.S. and Mexican law enforcement to target money laundering and bulk-cash smuggling, including $50 million in DOJ grants to federal, state, and local law enforcement, a 120-day multifaceted ICE operation, and the hiring of a DOJ prosecutor dedicated exclusively to targeting money laundering cases in and to Mexico; resumed DOJ asset-sharing of forfeited proceeds with the Mexican government as a result of successful bi-lateral criminal investigations; trained 5,462 Mexican prosecutors and investigators at the state and federal level and in the executive and judicial branches, on target to reach 9,261 trained by the end of 2010; planned the expansion of El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) to include additional staffing to collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence and support law enforcement operations against a broad array of transnational threats; and repositioned $80 million of existing resources in the Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology account to higher priority replacement and repair of fences to enhance physical infrastructure along the Southwest border.

These strategic initiatives are producing meaningful results. The Administration has seized, through the combined efforts of CBP and ICE, more than $103 million in illegal currency, more than 1.7 million kilograms of drugs and more than 1,400 firearms – increases of more than $47 million, more than 450,000 kilograms of drugs and more than 300 firearms compared to 2008; and seized, through the combined efforts of CBP and ICE, more than $39.2 million in southbound illegal currency – an increase of more than $29.4 million compared to 2008.

DOJ-led multi-agency law enforcement investigations (which may include DEA, FBI, ATF, ICE, CBP, and others) “Project Deliverance” resulted in more than 2,200 arrests, seizure of approximately 74 tons of drugs and $154 million in U.S. currency; “Project Coronado” resulted in the arrest of 303 individuals in 19 states and seizure of $3.4 million in U.S. currency, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 62 kilograms of cocaine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons and 109 vehicles; “Operation Xcellerator” resulted in the arrest of more than 750 individuals on narcotics-related charges and the seizure of more than 23 tons of narcotics and more than $59 million in cash.

Additionally, the San Diego DHS Maritime Unified Command, composed of U.S. Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, DEA and other law enforcement partners, saw a more than six-fold increase in maritime drug interdictions in the Pacific waters extending from the Southwest border—seizing 57,437 pounds of drugs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 compared to 8,884 pounds seized in FY 2008. Already in FY 2010, the Coast Guard has seized 11,500 pounds of drugs across the San Diego sector.

Statistics reflect a significant reduction in the number of people attempting to cross U.S. borders illegally. CBP statistics show that illegal immigration into the United States is down, with apprehensions between points of entry having dropped as a result.

Since 2004, the Border Patrol has doubled in size to over 20,000 Border Patrol agents.
 
With that being said, one has to wonder why securing the border seems more difficult to handle with each passing day.

For DC Youth: Award Yourself With A Congressional Award

The Congressional Award Foundation has announced important dates for District youth who wish to become 2011 Congressional Award Gold Medalists. At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown is a member of the Congressional Award Foundation’s Board of Directors. He wants District residents to be more involved in the program and realize the life-long benefits of participating.

The Congressional Award Foundation has announced important dates for District youth who wish to become 2011 Congressional Award Gold Medalists. At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown is a member of the Congressional Award Foundation’s Board of Directors. He wants District residents to be more involved in the program and realize the life-long benefits of participating.

What is the Congressional Award?
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ award for young Americans. It is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. The program is open to all 14- to 23-year-olds. Participants earn Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas; Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Earning the Award is a fun and interesting way to get more involved in something you already enjoy or something you’d like to try for the first time. You move at your own pace – on your own or with your friends. This is not an award for past accomplishments. Instead, you are honored for achieving your own challenging goals.

Regardless of your situation, you can earn the Congressional Award. The Congressional Award has no minimum grade point average requirements.

Learn more at www.congressionalaward.org.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Honorary Chairs of Arena Stage Opening Gala

As the final touches on Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater are made, the theater is proud to announce that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be the Honorary Chairs for its grand re-opening and yearlong inaugural season at the Mead Center, which includes the Opening Gala Celebration October 25, 2010. Mayor of the District of Columbia Adrian Fenty and his wife, Michelle Fenty, will also be Honorary Co-Chairs.

The support of both First Couples, representing the nation and the nation's capital, further emphasizes that Arena Stage's move back into the company's home in Southwest D.C. is a seminal moment for the future of American theater.

The Opening Gala Celebration will be a black tie event within the Mead Center featuring cocktails, dinner and an exclusive one-night-only performance headlined by Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Additionally, the evening will be emceed by award-winning journalist and ABC7/WJLA-TV lead anchor Leon Harris.

For more information regarding the Opening Gala Celebration, including further casting and how to purchase tickets, click here.

Arena Stage will feature the play Oklahoma! as its featured inaugural production, also in October.

 
(Source: Arena Stage Press Release)

Students Want Their Summer Jobs Back!

We Are The Future!

With just two weeks to go until the 2010 school year begins, several students protested outside the John Wilson building on Monday in an effort to get Mayor Adrian Fenty to find money to continue this year's D.C. summer jobs program.

The student-protesters said their summer jobs helped prepared them for life, taught them cooking skills, and about health.

Student-protestors in front of the John A.Wilson Building want their summer jobs back. Photo/CD Brown.
The students also became advocates of ridding their community of bad food and liquor stores and enhanced their want for more organic-like grocery stores like Harris Teeter.

"[There aren't] too many grocery stores", said Donald Simon. "Just a lot of liquor stores and take out."

Members of the group said that having a summer job afforded them the opportunity to buy their own school clothes.

"Things that I didn't have last year, I have now", said Melody Wynn, fourteen.  "I can get my school clothes on time."

The students obtained their jobs from the SHIRE youth program.  SHIRE, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the promotion of health and wellness for all people, stands for the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, Inc.

"We learned so much from this program and it was very beneficial", said fourteen-year old Morgan Smiley.  "It was very informative."

While the students were camped out in front of Mayor Fenty's office they told us Fenty drove by and just looked at them. 

"He just looked at us and rode past." 

The summer jobs program was cut for lack of funding and was halted over a week ago.

The student-protestors, ranging from 14 to 17 years of age told us the program needed at least $4.2m to continue. 

Fenty is up for re-election in the District's mayoral race this Fall and faces challenger, council member Vincent  Gray

Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry was instrumental in starting the District Youth’s Employment Act of 1979, an ambitious undertaking that guaranteed a summer job to D.C. youth regardless of their economic status.

In 2009 he fought to shorten the program to just six weeks in order to save the city money.

Looks like baseball stadiums and convention centers weren't included in those 'money saving' projects.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

President Halts Teacher Layoffs. Signs Emergency Jobs Bill

President Obama signed an emergency $26 billion jobs bill that the administration claims will save the jobs of 300,000 teachers, police and others service professionals from layoffs.

President Obama Signing Jobs Bill. Secretary Arne Duncan (right of president) and two teachers (near right) looks on.  Photo/White House.
In a ceremony in the Rose Garden today, President Obama said, "If we do nothing, these educators won’t be returning to the classroom this fall. And that won’t just deprive them of a paycheck, it will deprive the children and parents who are counting on them to provide a decent education."

Students in the District of Columbia know that many of their teachers won't be returning to their classrooms this fall.  More than 300 teachers have been fired at the hands of school Chancellor Michelle Rhee who claim the teachers underperformed.

In a conference call with reporters late this afternoon Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that the jobs bill will benefit all states, including the District of Columbia.

"We're eager to work with schools in D.C." said Duncan, who added that an additional $18 million dollars is available for D.C. public and charter schools.

Republicans, who claim the jobs bill will add to the already mounting deficit, said there is no money to fund such a measure, but Duncan assuredly stated that the bill (designed to provide $10 billion to fund education and $16 billion to fund Medicaid) "will not add one nickel to the deficit."

Likewise, President Obama explained the bill "is fully paid for, in part by closing tax loopholes that encourage corporations to ship American jobs overseas. So it will not add to our deficit."

While it may not add to the deficit, some say it will take money away from other essential programs like the Food Stamp program, or  reward those in organized labor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called members of the House back from a summer recess to a special session in order to get the votes needed to pass the legislation.
Related

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saints Come Marching In (To the White House)

The Saints came marching into the White House today as President Obama honored the 2009 Super Bowl Champions with a warm and friendly reception in the East Room of the White House.

2009 Super Bowl Champs New Orleans Saints with President Obama at the White House. Photo/CD Brown.

The president admonished the team and its owner for winning the Super Bowl after the city was devasted by Hurricane Katrina.

The president, still not relinquishing his love and loyalty to his hometown Chicago teams, said, ”Look, I’m a Bears fan. I’m not going to lie. But this was a big win for the country, not just for New Orleans, because five years ago, this team played its entire season on the road. It didn’t have a home field. The Superdome had been ruined by Hurricane Katrina. The heartbreaking tragedies that unfolded there when it was used as a shelter from that terrible storm lingered all too fresh in a lot of people’s minds.”

President Obama said the team carried their city.

“Plenty of cities carry their sports teams through a tough season. It’s a rare thing when a sports team carries a city through tough times."

The president’s remarks come just days after the BP oil spill that saturated most of the Gulf Coast has been contained and cleaned.

“I made a commitment to the people of the Gulf Coast that I would stand by them not just until the well was closed but until they recovered from the damage that’s been done. And that’s a commitment my administration is going to keep.”

After his remarks the president was honored by the Saints with a ceremonial New Orleans Saints jersey, with the number 44 embossed. The number 44, for the 44th president of the United States, from the champions of SuperBowl XLIV (44). (A once in a lifetime event).

New Orleans Cuisine At The White House
What would a visit to the White House by a New Orleans guest be without savoring some of its cuisine? White chef Sam Kass was busy preparing savory, southern samples.

“I can tell you that our staff is excited about the 30-foot po’ boy we’re serving at lunch today”, said Obama.

That wasn’t the only item being served up. 

In a surprise visit to the James Brady briefing room, Kass and a few Saints players, Nick Leckey, Garrett Hartley and Bobby McCray, bought in a sausage and Gulf shrimp skewer for the media to taste. The dish was prepared with glazed Creole mustard, honey, a hint of bourbon.

Note: We’re told by a New Orleans resident that oysters aren’t as plentiful after the Gulf oil spill, but the shrimp and fish are good for the eating.


A 2010 Repeat?
We asked Saint’s Zack Strief if the team is ready for the season, and if fans can expect a repeat this NFL season.

“We’re getting ready”, said the 6-7, 320 lb tackle. “We’re going to do our best to repeat. We’re definitely going to give it a shot.”

Saints In the Community
The Saints have been busy in their community especially with the youth. They have partnered with the Eleanor McMain Secondary School in New Orleans where they have helped renovate the athletic facilities.

The Saints also help train and assist students with the proper fitting of football equipment.

Today at the White House the team held a youth football clinic with children from the Boys and Girls Club as part of the Let’s Move and the NFL’s Play60 program. QB Drew Brees serves as co-chair of the new President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

After visiting the White House the players went to Walter Reed Hospital to spend some time with wounded warriors who served our country.

White House chef Sam Kass and Saints players with New Orleans style cuisine. Photo/CD Brown.
"It was an amazing opportunity and a great experience to meet the president, said Steif. “A very cool situation for us, and we're excited to the meet the wounded warriors.”

Visiting the White House and meeting the president would be the Saints’ second huge event to start off this week. Yesterday, former New Orleans Saints LB Rickey Jackson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After it was all said and done, the team got to see President Obama take off on Marine One on his way to Dallas where he delivered remarks at a DNC fund raiser event.

On a personal note, I've never seen Reggie Bush smile so much.

Not even KK could make him smile as much as seeing President Obama taking off on in Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House.

I know the feeling. It's special each time I see it too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

President Remarks On Kagan Senate Confirmation

Photo/CSPAN.org.

In a vote of 63-37, Elena Kagan becomes the newest Supreme Court Justice. 

"Today's vote wasn't just an affirmation of Elena's intellect andaccomplishments. It was also an affirmation of her character and temperament", said the president while speaking at a DNC fundraiser in Chicago this evening.

"She understands that the law isn't just an abstractionor intellectual exercise....behind the law there are stories. Stories of people's lives as shaped by the law."

The president said he was proud of the history making moment and that he relished it as a father who wants unlimited possibilities for his two daughters Sasha and Malia.

During today's vote, fifty-six Democrats, two independents, and five Republicans voted for Kagan's nomination. The sole Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson (NE), sided with the thirty-six Republicans who voted 'no' for Kagan.

Those in opposition believe Kagan doesn't have enough experience as a judge to be worthy of such a high ranking position, arguing Kagan had never been a judge and never argued before a jury.

Despite the naysayers, Kagan is now the fourth female justice behind Justice Ruth Ginsberg (appointed by President Clinton in 1993),  Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (appointed by President Reagan in 1981 and retired in January, 2006), and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

 Justice Kagan endured 17 hours of Senate testimony during which she answered more than 540 questions.

"I'd say they got a pretty good look at Elena Kagan", said President Obama.

He is expected to host a reception in her honor on Friday at the White House.

Sasha And Mom In Spain

While President Obama is taking care of business at home, the First Lady is doing the same in Spain.
Take a look at First Lady Michelle seen here walking through the streets of Spain. 

As we told you, she is in Spain on an official visit with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia at their invitation.

Among the many spots the two visited are Spain's Alhambra Palace and the city of Granada.

Mom and daughter look to be enjoying their summertime visit just fine.