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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Don't Ask, Dont Tell"

President Obama Repeals The Don't Ask, Dont Tell" Law. 

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conduct a press briefing at the Pentagon discussing the public release of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Comprehensive Working Group report on Nov. 30, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

In a statement today, President Obama comments on  DOD's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Report
As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell law because it weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness and equality by preventing patriotic Americans who are gay from serving openly in our armed forces. At the same time, as Commander in Chief, I am committed to ensuring that we understand the implications of this transition, and maintain good order and discipline within our military ranks. That is why I directed the Department of Defense earlier this year to begin preparing for a transition to a new policy.
Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure—from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness—we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.
With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all. The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation. Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally. Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known.

African American Farmers To Receive Compensation

For America's Black farmers the tenth time is the charm.

African American farmers will finally receive the $1.15 billion owed to them that was settled out of court over 11 years ago in a case that involved discrimination on the part of the U.S. Agricultural Department.

Under a federal judge's terms, dated in 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle the claims of racial bias.

John Boyd, farmer and founder of the web site, has been in the forefront of this battle, having been on many TV and radio shows, and on Capitol Hill (see our coverage here) to bring the plight of America's Black farmers to the national stage.

Boyd called the historic announcement "vindication and justice".

"This case was about justice for Black farmers who waited for so very long."  

Boyd pointed out that many African American farmers died and others lost land waiting for Congress, (specifically Tom Coburn) to make a decision.

Senator Harry Reid, along with other members of Congress (Bobby Scott, John Conyers, and Kay Hagan) who worked to see that justice was upheld said, "The agreement that we reached shows what can happen when Democrats and Republicans come together to do the right thing."

The bill (Claims Settlement Act of 2010) also provides funding for settlements reached in four separate water rights suits brought by Native American tribes, as well as represents a significant step forward in addressing the water needs of Indian Country.

Despite the bill's passing, President Obama remarked that while the vote "demonstrates important progress, there is more work that needs to be done."

The USDA has several other claims that must be paid, not just to Black farmers, but Indian (Cobell lawsuit)and Latino farmers as well.

The president said his administration will continue its efforts to "resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers, and others, in a fair and timely manner."

USDA Secretary Reacts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Talkin' Turkey, Duck, Pay Freezes and More

The Thanksgiving break is over and President Obama says "it's time to get back to work."  Two days after he pardons Apple the Thanksgiving turkey, has a run in with the elbow of Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in a pick up basketball game at the Department of Interior, the President is rolling up his sleeves, and making waves.

After the midterm elections that saw the Republicans regain control of the House, the president promised to  meet with both political parties in a lame duck session to discuss ways to move the country forward.  Most noticeably, the president plans to address growing the economy, securing the American people from the ongoing threat of terrorism, Bush-era tax cuts, and the ratification of the New START treaty.

With Congress convening this week, the president will meet Tuesday with bipartisan Congressional leadership that include the likes of both Democrats and Republicans.   Scheduled to attend are Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representative John Boehner (R-OH) , Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD, Majority Leader Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA), Republican Whip Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Assistant Majority Leader Senator Jon Kyl  (R-AZ), Republican Whip.

The president has called for a freeze on the salaries of federal workers in an attempt to rid-down the national debt.  A freeze he calls a sacrifice that "must be shared by employees of the federal government." 

"After all, small businesses and families are tightening their belts.  Their government should, too", said the president making remarks today in the Eisenhower Executive Building. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Auto Industry Poised To Make A Comeback?

Earlier today, President Obama visited the Chrysler Indiana Transmission Plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

With money given to the auto industry last year, many are seeing what could be the fruit from the Obama administration's "anti-recession" bail out.

There were more than 461,000 automobile-related job losses before President Obama took office.

''And now you see the result, said the president. "An old industry adapting to a whole new era, competing again, leading again, and most importantly, hiring again. Hiring again."

Just last week GM announced its initial public offering of its stock.   The auto manufacturing raised its shares from 365 million to 478 million.

"General Motors’ initial public offering (IPO) marks a major milestone in the turnaround of not just an iconic company but the entire American auto industry", said Obama.

"Through the IPO, the government will cut its stake in GM by nearly half, continuing our disciplined commitment to exit this investment while protecting the American taxpayer. Supporting the American auto industry required tough decisions and shared sacrifices, but it helped save jobs, rescue an industry at the heart of America's manufacturing sector, and make it more competitive for the future."

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee, discusses the IPO, and more, below in the latest edition of  The White House White Board.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Brother Watching: Even In The 'Friendly' Skies.

You've probably seen the video of a young boy being put through what the TSA says is them "just doing their job" to secure America.  The boy is practically stripped search (and left with his dignity on the floor) as he and his dad prepare to take flight.

Some call it disturbing (we do too), and a total invasion of privacy.  TSA calls it protecting Americans from possible terrorist attacks. 
What George Orville wrote about in Nineteen Eighty-Four, about a society that Orwell describes as everyone being under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens, is a system on the brink of violating our civil liberties.  (Or guilty of crossing the line altogether).

Oddly enough the society of which Orville writes is called  Airstrip One.  

The White House has responded on this issue and has said the following:

TSA searches woman before flight. Has the TSA gone too far?
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:  "Well, look, I will say that we have all seen over the course of the past year that there are organizations like al Qaeda that continue with the intent on inflicting harm and damage in this country through airliners.  I think what TSA has set up and what the public greatly supports -- I think there was a CBS poll that said four out of five Americans are supportive of increased security to ensure that you feel rightly safe when you get on an airplane.  I think the way -- I think TSA administering this in a way that makes the public feel safe and comfortable is important, as well as implementing it to ensure the protection of privacy is important."

President Obama, who flies aboard the friendly skies on AirForce One supports such searches.

"I understand people’s frustrations, and what I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety. And you also have to think through are there other ways of doing it that are less intrusive."

"But at this point, TSA in consultation with counter terrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing."

Complaints about TSA searches have sparked a national 'Opt Out Day' where citizens are being asked not to allow body screenings, but rather consent to pat downs instead.

Related:  When TSA Searches Go Wrong
Man Left In Urine After Being Searched
TSA Makes Woman Remove Her Prosthetic Breast [Video]
Don't Touch My Junk!

Vice President Biden On What We Must Do Now For Iraq

Vice President Joe Biden wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, published this weekend.   The piece discusses what Congress and the current administration must do to ensure a stabe, self-reliant nation for Iraq.

Biden writes that in the six visits he's made the country's police and soldiers have made progress.

"Iraq today is far safer and more stable than at any time since the outbreak of war in 2003", writes Biden. "In recent months, using their own intelligence, Iraqi forces have killed or captured dozens of senior leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorist groups. The weekly tally of violent incidents throughout Iraq has dropped to about 160, from nearly 1,600 in 2007."

Notwithstanding those accomplishments Biden notes that more needs to be done and calls on Congress to  "fulfill the budget requests to support America’s continued engagement, including our broader diplomatic presence, a modernization plan for the Iraqi security forces and financing for a police development program."

The Iraq has cost the lives of more than  4,430 people.  That's more than any war in U.S. history.

Read the entire piece here.

Kristina Schake Named First Lady's Communications Director

Kristina Schake joins the staff as Special Assistant to the President and Communications Director to the First Lady. She will start in the East Wing in December, 2010.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Kristina to the team. Kristina brings a wealth of expertise that I know will make her a tremendous asset in the East Wing,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Kristina has done extensive work throughout her career on child nutrition and community health issues, and that paired with her experience as part of a military family will bring invaluable insight to our work on childhood obesity and our efforts to support military families. I look forward to working with Kristina on these efforts and more in the months and years ahead.”

Kristina Schake is co-founder and principal of Griffin Schake, a California-based public affairs and strategic communications firm. She is a seasoned expert in helping major foundations, non-profit organizations and civic leaders bring about critical social change through policy, legislative, social marketing and media initiatives. Ms. Schake served for several years as the senior communications strategist for First Lady Maria Shriver, the Women’s Conference and the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative. Ms. Schake and her company also helped make issues such as stem cell research and early childhood education a national priority and helped change California's political landscape on renewable energy and civil rights. Before forming her firm, she was the Director of the Governor’s Summit on Obesity and the Communications Director for First 5 California, which provides education, health care, child care and nutrition programs for the state’s youngest children. A native Californian, Kristina is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

Other changes in the First Lady's administration this year have included the resigning of Susan Sher as Chief of Staff to Mrs. Obama.  Sher will be returning to Chicago after the first of the year (2011), after nearly two years of service.  Ms. Sher started in the White House Counsel’s Office in January, 2009, to support the Office of the First Lady.  In this role, she also worked on the Administration's health care reform efforts.  In June, 2009, Sher moved to the East Wing to serve as Chief of Staff to the First Lady. 

Former Social Secretary for First Lady Obama, Desiree Rogers, resigned in March after a mix up that involved the crashing of the president's first State Dinner last year in which couple Tareq and Micheale Salahi gained entrance into the White House without being on the formal State Dinner guest list.

Rogers currently works for Johnson Publishing as its new CEO.  Johnson Publishing company publishes Ebony/Jet magazines.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vice President Biden to Hold Middle Class Task Force Event

This Friday, November 19th, at 10:30 AM, Vice President Biden will hold a Middle Class Task Force event to announce new initiatives to help middle class and low income families secure their legal rights.

Following the Vice President’s remarks, there will be a series of panel discussions on these initiatives. Panel participants will include Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Larry Tribe, Senior Counselor for Access to Justice at the Department of Justice; senior administration officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Housing and Urban Development; and representatives from the legal advocacy community. Attorney General Eric Holder will make remarks at the conclusion of the program.

The event will also be streamed live on

Former President George H. W. Bush To Receive Medal of Freedom

George Herbert Walker Bush is one of fifteen award recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award.

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Bush was the 41st President of the United States. Prior to that, he was Vice President in the Reagan Administration, Director of Central Intelligence, Chief of the U.S. Liaison’s Office to the People’s Republic of China, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and a Member of the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas. He served in the Navy during World War II. President Bush and President Clinton worked together to encourage aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

Other named recipients include Boston Celtics' Bill Russell, Congressman John Lewis, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany), Dr. Maya Angelou, John H. Adams (Natural Resources Defense Council), Warren Buffett, and artist Jasper Johns.

“These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place.  I look forward to awarding them this honor”, said President Obama.
The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony early next year.

President Obama awarded Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta with the prestigious Medal of Honor award yesterday in a ceremony in the East Room.

The Medal of Honor has been awarded nine times for conspicuous gallantry in an ongoing or recent conflict. Staff Seargeant Giunta is the first recipient in nearly 40 years to receive the honor in person. Other recipients received the award posthumously.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Seoulful Veteran's Day

President Obama made remarks yesterday celebrating Veteran's Day at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul Korea, as he and the First Lady continue their G-20 Summit tour of Asia.

On Veteran's Day, (and back home) Vice President Biden will host a Veteran's Day breakfast at the White House and will visit Arlington National Cemetery where he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11AM. (See here).

The Vice President will then deliver remarks at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery.

The President will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea. and will later attend the official G-20 welcome reception and dinner at the National Museum of Korea.

The President's remarks, to a seemingly rousing crowd, in Seoul is below.   
We are so proud to have with us U.S. and Republic of Korea vets of the Korean War who are here. And we are greatly honored by their presence.

And I want to make special mention of one of them -- Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Hector Cafferata, Jr. Please give him an extraordinary round of applause.

It is an enormous honor to be here at Yongsan Garrison. As President of the United States, I have no greater privilege than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military that the world has ever known.  And on this Veterans Day, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here with U.S. Forces Korea.

We’ve got the 8th Army in the house. We’ve got members of the 7th Air Force. We’ve got U.S. Navy Forces Korea. We’ve got just about every Marine in South Korea here today. (Laughter.) Happy birthday, Marines, by the way. And we’ve got a whole lot of DOD civilians, too. So we are very proud of you. 

It’s good to see some spouses and family members in the audience. You bear the burden of your loved one’s service in ways that are often immeasurable –- an empty chair at the dinner table or another holiday where mom and dad are someplace far away. So I want you to know that this nation recognizes the sacrifices of families, as well. And we are grateful for your service, as well.

Now, on this day, we honor every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform of the United States of America. We salute fallen heroes, and keep in our prayers those who are still in harm’s way -– like the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We recall acts of uncommon bravery and selflessness. But we also remember that honoring those who’ve served is about more than the words we say on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.

This has been one of my highest priorities since taking office. It’s why I asked for one of the largest increases in the VA budget in the past 30 years. It’s why we’ve dramatically increased funding for veterans’ health care. It’s why we’re improving care for wounded warriors, especially those with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s why we’re working to eliminate the backlog at the VA and reforming the entire process with electronic claims and medical records. It’s why there are fewer homeless veterans on the streets than there were two years ago.

That's why there are nearly 400,000 veterans and their families who are going to college because of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

So I want all of you to know when you come home your country is going to be there for you. That is the commitment I make to you as Commander-in-Chief. That is the sacred trust between the United States of America and all who defend its ideals.

It’s a trust that’s been forged in places far from our shores: from the beaches of Europe to the jungles of Vietnam, from the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to the peninsula where we stand today.

Sixty years have come and gone since the communist armies first crossed the 38th Parallel. Within three days, they’d captured Seoul. By the end of the next month, they had driven the Korean army all the way south, to Pusan. And from where things stood in the summer of 1950, it didn’t appear that the Republic of Korea would survive much longer.

At the time, many Americans had probably never heard of Korea. It had only been five years since we had finished fighting the last war. But we knew that if we allowed the unprovoked invasion of a free nation, then all free nations would be threatened. And so, for the first time since its creation, the United Nations voted to use armed forces to repel the attack from North Korea.

And so on September 15, 1950, American forces landed at Inchon. The conditions they fought under were some of the worst that Americans had ever experienced. The temperature reached more than 30 below zero in the winter, over 100 degrees in the summer. In many places, Americans and our Korean allies were outgunned and outmanned, sometimes by as much as 20 to 1. At one point, they were hit with 24,000 artillery shells a day. By the end, the fighting had sometimes devolved into trench warfare, waged on hands and knees in the middle of the night.

And yet, our soldiers fought on. Nearly 37,000 Americans would give their lives in Korea -- 37,000. But after three years of fighting, our forces finally succeeded in driving the invading armies back over the 38th Parallel. (Hoaa!) One war historian said that while he believed Korea was “the greatest of all trials” for American troops, their performance was “nothing short of miraculous.”

Many of the men responsible for this miracle were only teenagers. Others had just finished fighting in the Second World War. Most would go home to raise their families and live out their lives. And sixty-two veterans of the Korean War have returned to be with us here today.
Gentlemen, we are honored by your presence. We are grateful for your service. The world is better off because of what you did here. And for those who can, I would ask that, again, you receive the thanks of a grateful nation. If any -- actually, they’re all standing now so it looks like they’re doing great. (Hoaa!) But please give them a big round of applause.

I also want to recognize the Korean soldiers who battled side by side with our own. These men fought bravely and sacrificed greatly for their country, and some of them have joined us here as well. So, thank you, friends. (Applause.) Katchi Kapshida. We go together.

The veterans who have traveled here today saw battle at the Inchon landing and the Pusan Perimeter. They survived the bloodshed at Heartbreak Ridge and the ambush at Chosin Reservoir. At one point in that battle, the enemy tossed a grenade into a trench where multiple Marines lay wounded. And that is where Private Hector Cafferata ran into that trench, picked up that grenade and threw it back. It detonated in his hand and severely injured his arm. But because of what he did, Private Cafferata served the lives of his fellow Marines. (Applause.) He received the Medal of Honor for his heroism. He is here today.

Each of these men served their nation with incredible courage and commitment. They left their homes and their families and risked their lives in what’s often been called “the forgotten war.” So today, we all want you to know this: We remember. We remember your courage. We remember your sacrifice. And the legacy of your service lives on in a free and prosperous Republic of Korea.

Real change comes slowly. Many people don’t live to see the difference they’ve made in the lives of others. But for the men and women who have served on this peninsula, all you have to do is look around. Whether you’re a veteran who landed in 1950 or one of the Yongsan troops today, the security you’ve provided has made possible one of the great success stories of our time.

There are Koreans who can still remember when this country was little more than rice paddies and villages that would flood during monsoon season. Not two generations later, highways and skyscrapers line the horizon of one of the most prosperous, fastest-growing democracies in all of the world. That progress has transformed the lives of millions of people.

And you should know, one of these people is a man who went from grinding poverty to the presidency of this country. When I visited last year, I had lunch with President Lee, who I’ll be seeing later today, and he shared with me his story of what it was like growing up poor as a child in Korea. And he said, “I hope the American people understand how grateful we are for what you’ve done, because we would not be the strong, prosperous nation we are were it not for the sacrifices made by the men and women of the United States military.” That’s from the President of this country.

Because the Korean War ended where it began geographically, some ended up using the phrase “Die for a Tie” to describe the sacrifices of those who fought here. But as we look around in this thriving democracy and its grateful, hopeful citizens, one thing is clear: This was no tie. This was victory.

This was a victory then, and it is a victory today. And 60 years later, a friendship that was forged in a war has become an alliance that has led to greater security and untold progress -- not only in the Republic of Korea, but throughout Asia. That is something that everyone here can be extraordinarily proud of.

Now, it’s also a reminder of what still lies on the other side of the 38th Parallel. Today, the Korean Peninsula provides the world’s clearest contrast between a society that is open and a society that is closed; between a nation that is dynamic and growing, and a government that would rather starve its people than change. It’s a contrast that’s so stark you can see it from space, as the brilliant lights of Seoul give way to the utter darkness of the North.

This is not an accident of history. This is a direct result of the path that’s been taken by North Korea -- a path of confrontation and provocation; one that includes the pursuit of nuclear weapons and the attack on the Cheonan last March. 

And in the wake of this aggression, Pyongyang should not be mistaken: The United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver.

The alliance between our two nations has never been stronger, and along with the rest of the world, we’ve made it clear that the North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons will only lead to more isolation and less security for them.

There is another path available to North Korea. If they choose to fulfill their international obligations and commitments to the international community, they will have the chance to offer their people lives of growing opportunity instead of crushing poverty -- a future of greater security and greater respect; a future that includes the prosperity and opportunity available to citizens on this end of the Korean Peninsula.

Until that day comes, the world can take comfort in knowing that the men and women of the United States armed forces are standing watch on freedom’s frontier. In doing so, you carry on the legacy of service and sacrifice that we saw from those who landed here all those years ago. It’s a legacy we honor and cherish on this Veterans Day.

At the Korean War Memorial in Washington, there’s a plaque right near the inscription that lists the number of Americans who were killed, wounded, missing in action, and held as prisoners of war. And it says: “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

A country they never knew and a people they never met. I know of no better words to capture the selflessness and generosity of every man or woman who has ever worn the uniform of the United States of America. At a time when it has never been more tempting or accepted to pursue narrow self-interest and personal ambition, all of you here remind us that there are few things that are more fundamentally American than doing what we can to make a difference in the lives of others.

And that’s why you’ll always be the best that America has to offer the world. And that is why people who never met you, who never knew you, will always be grateful to the friend and ally they found in the United States of America.

So thank you for your service. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Actions to Build a Strong Home Energy Retrofit Market

At a Middle Class Task Force event today, Vice President Biden announced a series of federal actions designed to lay the groundwork for a strong, self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry. These actions include a new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements and a new retrofit financing program called PowerSaver. The Vice President was joined by Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy (DOE); Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor (DOL); and Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The initiatives announced today are putting the Recovery Through Retrofit report’s recommendations into action – giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades,” said Vice President Biden. “Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy.”
DOE has developed a voluntary new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements. Trained and certified contractors will be able to use a newly developed energy software tool to generate  a Home Energy Score between 1 and 10, which will be presented as part of a simple graphic that will help homeowners understand their home’s current efficiency level and how it compares to other homes in the area, and will provide an estimate of how much money could be saved by making energy retrofits.

DOE will launch the Home Energy Score this Fall through a pilot program in select regions across the country before making the voluntary program available everywhere. For those pilots in rural areas, USDA Rural Development will partner with DOE and rural electric cooperatives to increase participation and improve home energy efficiency in rural America. To see a sample Home Energy Score, click here.
Other initiatives include Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, and Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades.
The Small Business Association will offer a new online course, Green Business Opportunities: A Small Business Guide, that will provide training for entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the home energy retrofit market.  The course provides free business counseling and information for those seeking to launch a new business or expand an existing business in the energy efficiency market.  This training opportunity is free and available on SBA Office of Entrepreneurship Education’s website  
More information is available on the above initiatives by clicking here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

President's India Schedule

On Saturday, the President and the First Lady will land in Mumbai, India. 

Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will view the 26/11 memorial at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. The President will then deliver remarks commemorating the 26/11 attacks.

The President and the First Lady will then visit the Mani Bhavan Ghandi Museum.

The President and First Lady (arms covered) arrive in India.
The President will then meet with entrepreneurs at the Trident Nariman Point Hotel.

The President will then meet with CEO’s from India and the United States. Participants include Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana (Workers and Peasants Strength Union - MKSS), Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), Janaagraha a Bangalore-based NGO The Hunger Project (THP), and ASER the creator of the Annual Status of Education Report, which surveys literacy in 570 districts and 700,000 children of India with citizen participation.

Other participants include PRS Legislative Research (PRS) and The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Late afternoon, the President will deliver remarks to the USIBC Business Summit at the Trident Nariman Point Hotel.

On Sunday the President and the First Lady will visit a classroom at Holy Name High School in Mumbai, India. The President and the First Lady will then attend a Diwali Candle Lighting and Performance at Holy Name High School.

The President will then hold a town hall meeting with students at St. Xavier College where The First Lady will introduce the him. After the President's remarks the couple will travel to New Delhi, India where they will attend a meet-and-greet at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and later have dinner with India's Prime Minister Singh at his residence.

The President will conclude his visit to India on Tuesday, November 9th with visits to Indonesia, Japan and South Korea thereafter, continuing the focus on trade and economic opportunities.

"The United States sees Asia, especially India, as the market of the future," said President Obama.

"There still exists a caricature of India as a land of call centers and back-offices that cost American jobs. But these old stereotypes, these old concerns, ignore today's realities."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

House Regains Control. Obama Thanks Supporters. Vows To Work With GOP.

 "After what I'm sure was a long night for a lot of you -- and needless to say it was for me -- I can tell you that some election nights are more fun than others.  Some are exhilarating; some are humbling.  But every election, regardless of who wins and who loses, is a reminder that in our democracy, power rests not with those of us in elected office, but with the people we have the privilege to serve."  - President Barack Obama

The GOP has regained controlled of the House in an over whelming victory.

President Obama, in a White House East Room statement yesterday, said of the GOP win that he looks forward to working with both parties to move the country forward.

"And I told John Boehner and Mitch McConnell last night I am very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together", said Obama.

President Obama plans to invite Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi to the White House for meeting later this month.

After meeting with Cabinet members earlier today Obama stated he wants to take the people's message about making sure that taxpayer money is not wasted, and "changing the tone" here in Washington, where the two parties are coming together and focusing on the people’s business as opposed to scoring political points, to heart.  The President said his Administration plans to "make a sincere and consistent effort to try to change how Washington operates".

The Republicans who gained momentum in getting their message heard via movements like the 'Tea Party' boast making over 5 million phone calls, electing five Latinos and two African Americans, vow to make Obama a one-termed president.

Issues like jobs, health care, and education became a top priority during this year's midterm political process.

"The people of this country want to see results, whether you're Republican, Democratic, or Independent", said GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Capital Hill today.

Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is providing details on how his party plans to move forward on its agenda.

On the economy McConnell said, "We will work hard to ensure Democrats don’t raise taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession."

Said congresswoman Donna Christenson (D-MD) on the decisive GOP victory, "It was an eye opener."

The President and First Lady begin their trip to India on Friday. 

Election Results
Republican Briefing
Michael Steele: DNC Chair Conference Call
President Obama Thanks Supporters
9 Surprises of the 2010 Elections
House Speaker Pelosi's Triumph

In Vegas: First Lady Rallies For Her Husband
Accomplishments From The Obama Administration

Monday, November 1, 2010

With Just One More Day To Go

Pooler describes mood on the eve of elections.

On the eve of mid-term elections that are widely predicted to deal a serious setback to his party, President Obama is hunkered down in the West Wing of the White House today.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says President Obama's schedule of closed meetings throughout the day will include some time to tape radio interviews set to air on election day throughout the country.

Tonight, the president plans to make phone calls to boost the morale ofactivists and other party organizers in key battleground states, includingFlorida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and his native Hawaii.

CNN's What's At Stake