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



Sunday, October 31, 2010

A White House Halloween

This Halloween, President and Mrs. Obama in partnership with the
National Park Foundation, will welcome local children to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the 
Halloween at the White House 2010.
White House, which will be lit orange for the occasion.
 
Halloween at the White House, 2009.
The trick-or-treaters are from local schools in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, 
and Virginia areas and range from 6 to 14 years-old. 
 
District of Columbia schools include: Bancroft Elementary, Beers Elementary School,
Houston Elementary School, ,Hyde Leadership Academy, Thomson Elementary School, 
Tubman Elementary, and Seaton Elementary School.
 
Virginia schools invited to the White House for the Halloween festivities include Antietam Elementary School,
Prince William County Nokesville Elementary School, Prince William County Belmont Station
Elementary School, Loudon County Cameron Elementary School, and Fairfax County schools. 
 
Maryland schools include Concord Elementary School, Prince George’s County Gale-Bailey 
Elementary School, Charles County Gorman Crossing Elementary School, and Howard County.
 
TRICKS
The White House and the surrounding grounds will be decorated in celebration of 
Halloween. Performers will entertain trick-or-treaters as they enter the White House grounds 
and walk to the North Portico. 

DECORATIONS 
A display of pumpkins, gourds and mums constructed by The Great Pumpkin Patch, a family owned and run farm based in Arthur, IL. 

Veggy Art, a small-business owned by Chef James Parker and based in Chantilly, Va., will also provide decorative pumpkins and on-site carving demonstrations for the event. 

TREATS 
The following treats will be provided: • A Box of White House M & Ms • A White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie Made by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses • A Serving of Dried Fruit.
 
Halloween at the White House displays will be placed on the North Lawn to greet trick-or-treaters
as they arrive and will be entertained by the following...
 
HALLOWEEN GUESTS: 
 • Dracula, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, and Wolfman

• The Potholes Brass Band

• In costume actors, coordinated by the Helen Hayes Awards, to spook and delight 
trick-or-treaters.

Ted Sorenson Passes

Former speech writer and advisor to JFK, Ted Sorenson has died today at 82.

He died at noon at Manhattan's New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his widow, Gillian Sorensen, said.

President Obama with Ted Sorenson
Sorenson had been hospitalized Oct. 22 after a second stroke that his widow called "devastating." Sorenson suffered his first stroke in 2002.  That episode affected much of his eyesight leaving him unable to do what he loved most, writing.   His memoir titled, "Counselor," was dictated to an assistant.

Sorensen will also be remembered for his role in researching and drafting Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book Profiles in Courage.

"From his early days desegregating a Nebraska pool to his central role electing and advising President Kennedy to his later years as an international lawyer and advocate, Ted lived an extraordinary life that made our country – and our world – more equal, more just, and more secure. Generations of Americans entered public service aspiring to follow in his footsteps", President Obama said today in a statement.

"Even as I mourn his loss, I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier."

Sorenson is survived by his wife Gillian, his daughter Juliet, his three sons, Eric, Stephen, and Philip.

Ted Sorenson
Joynt on Sorenson

Friday, October 29, 2010

Possible U.S. Terrorist Threat - Thwarted?


Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs speaking to the media in the John Brady briefing room. Photo/CD Brown.
 (via Statement from White House)

Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States. Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom (London) and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.

The President was notified of a potential terrorist threat on Thursday night at 10:35, by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. The President directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting. The President has received regular updates from his national security team since he was alerted to the threat.

End Statement
_______________
 
CNN has more details here.  Listen to the President and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security updating Americans and talking to the media about the thwarted attempt.

Brennan stated that no Americans were in danger as suspicious packages where found in cargo areas of two planes.  The packages were addressed to two synagogues near Chicago.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated that Americans should continue their daily activities without changing their schedules.  The President's travel plans to Chicago and the continuation of his campaign rally stops have not been altered.


Got a question about this or other issues?  Ask it via Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' Twitter account at @PressSec Twitter via the White House First Question forum, an opportunity for everyday people to have a question answered before White House press briefings.

Administration Releases Report Outlining Benefits of Expensing Proposal in Encouraging Business Expansion, Hiring Now

President Obama will visit a business in Beltsville, Maryland where he will make remarks on the economy and discuss a new report issued today by the Department of the Treasury that details how the President’s proposal to allow businesses and investors to deduct immediately the full cost of most investments will help businesses expand and hire.

The report shows that the President’s proposal will:

Accelerate $150 billion in tax cuts to 2 million businesses: 100 percent expensing will accelerate $150 billion in tax cuts to 2 million businesses – providing $200 billion in relief over the next two years when combined with small business expensing and bonus depreciation provisions the President signed into law last month.

Lower the average cost of capital for business investment by more than 75 percent: Through temporary 100 percent expensing, Treasury estimates that businesses’ average cost of capital on new investments will fall from 7.18 percent to 1.68 percent – providing an incentive to pursue a broader range of investments through the end of 2011.

Produce about $50 billion in new investment: Studies of similar tax cuts in the past have found they encouraged businesses to increase targeted investments. Based on the results of one such study, Treasury estimates 100 percent expensing could support $50 billion in new investment, while other outside estimates have projected an even larger impact.

Today, the President will visit Stromberg Sheet Metal, a medium sized business in Beltsville, Maryland. Under the President’s proposal, a business like Stromberg would be able to take advantage of this proposal to invest in new equipment this year or next year and deduct 100 percent of that investment immediately. For example, if a business bought an additional $1 million worth of equipment next year, they would be able to deduct the full $1 million up front, potentially accelerating hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts. That’s real money that businesses like Stromberg could use to expand or hire new workers right now, and provides a strong incentive to increase investment now, creating even more jobs.

The full executive summary of the report is below:

The Case for Temporary 100 Percent Expensing: Encouraging Business to Expand Now By Lowering the Cost of Investment;

100 percent expensing of qualified capital – also known as 100 percent bonus depreciation – through 2011 would:

· Accelerate $150 billion in tax cuts to 2 million businesses: 100 percent expensing will accelerate $150 billion in tax cuts to 2 million businesses – providing $200 billion in relief over the next two years when combined with small business expensing and bonus depreciation provisions the President signed into law last month.

· Lower the average cost of capital for business investment by more than 75 percent: Through temporary 100 percent expensing, Treasury estimates that businesses’ average cost of capital on new investments will fall from 7.18 percent to 1.68 percent – providing an incentive to pursue a broader range of investments through the end of 2011.

· Produce about $50 billion in new investment: Studies of similar tax cuts in the past have found they encouraged businesses to increase targeted investments. Based on the results of one such study, Treasury estimates 100 percent expensing could support $50 billion in new investment, while other outside estimates have projected an even larger impact.
 
Read the full report here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

White House Brings Awareness To Domestic Violence Month

The White House is taking a stand on domestic violence.

Domestic violence facts:
14% of teens report their boyfriend or girlfriend threatened to harm them or themselves to avoid a breakup.

Among battered women living in shelters, 88% experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of domestic violence.

1/2 of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. (Report)

...."That’s what we have to change", said President Obama during yesterday's White House event on domestic violence.

"And I say that not only as a President, but as a son, as a husband, as the father of two daughters. Now, we’ve made a great deal of progress in recent years. But everybody in this room understands that our work is not yet finished. Not when there’s more we can do to help folks looking to restart their lives and achieve financial independence. Not when there’s more to do to ensure that the victims of abuse have access to legal protection. Not when children are trapped in abusive homes -- especially when we know the lingering damage and despair that this can cause in a child’s life. Not when one in every four women experiences domestic violence -- and one in six women are sexually assaulted -- at some point in their lives. It’s not acceptable."
 
The Administration has released new rules to prevent the victims of domestic violence from being evicted or denied assisted housing because a crime was committed against them. Additionally, the administration plans to do more to help the victims of domestic violence access legal services and protections, as well as protect children and break the cycle of violence.
 
The event was attended by Founder of the Safe at Home Foundation, former Major League Baseball player and manager Joe Torre, council woman Donna Edwards, Ruth Glenn, and Becky Lee - Washington D.C. domestic violence advocate and founder of Becky's Fund.
 
"Due to the importance of having domestic violence recognized by our leaders of this country, I feel that more attention, funding, and resources will finally be given to this issue and help so many people who need help and support", Lee told us via email.
 
Lee worked as an advocate in the court system and as an attorney for domestic violence victims for more than 14 years, and continues that work today.  Her fund has several events year-round to bring awareness to the topic of domestic violence, including her increasingly popular 'Walk This Way' yearly celebrity fashion show, but she couldn't be more pleased to have both the President and Vice President make the issue a high priority.
 
"Having both the President and Vice President make domestic violence a priority is one of the greatest advancements for the domestic violence community and the victims we try to help."


Domestic abuse victim, and survivor, Yvette Cady.

Survivor Yvette Cady knows the hurt of domestic violence all too well.  Her ex-husband, Roger Hargrave, came to her work place and doused her with gasoline, then chased her outside where he set her on fire.

Through it all, Cady says she "had to forgive", but offers these words of advice:

*Tell someone that you trust about the abuse

* Seek help from organizations that exist to support battered women/men

* Make plans to leave your abuser

* Stop believing the apologies and the promises that "it won't happen again."

* At your first opportunity -- GET OUT, LEAVE, and promise yourself that you will NEVER GO BACK.

Also attending in event was Mariska Hargitay, Founder and President of the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to healing, educating and empowering victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse.

President Obama thanked Vice President Biden who championed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

Watch the White House video below.
 
 
 

Related
Becky's Fund
Safe At Home
Yvette Cade Fund  (The story)
White House Fact Sheet On Domestic Violence
Victim Joe Torre Talks  (Describes his nightmare at home)
Women of Strength

Friday, October 22, 2010

Millions To Rebuild Infrastructure. But Whose Getting The Jobs?

One of the items President Obama ran his campaign on was that of rebuilding America's infrastructure.

Earlier this month the president met with mayors and governors from across America to disclose that several projects are on tap to restore America's roadways and byways.

As the president put it: "Our infrastructure is woefully inefficient and it is outdated."

"What we need is a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century.  A system that encourages sustainable communities with easier access to our jobs, to our schools, to our homes.  A system that decreases travel time and increases mobility.  A system that cuts congestion and ups productivity.  A system that reduces harmful emissions over time and creates jobs right now", he added.

The president also mentioned that one in five construction workers are out of work.  

While that may be the current statistic, you can bet that standing is even higher when it comes to African American construction workers.

As I listened to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood explain during the Q&A session with the media after the president's remarks in the White House Rose Garden that, "there are over 14,000 construction projects currently going on in America", I couldn't help but think about the handful of construction workers I know who are not included in those numbers, and not currently working.

Their comments about their companies being left out because contracts are being awarded to white and Latino construction companies still ring in my head.

We asked Secretary LaHood how much of the more than $50 billion (for starters) being allocated  for construction projects to rebuild highways and transportation systems will be allocated to minority and African American owned construction companies.

President Obama with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood (left of President Obama), and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (right of Obama) in the White House Rose Garden during a press conference on rebuilding America's infrastructure.  Photo/CD Brown.

LaHood responded by saying that the DOT has "the strongest DBE program" going.

As I listened to the voices and look at the faces of construction workers the Obama administration has put to work, I am not so readily convinced.

Where are the voices of minorities that LaHood say are benefiting from the Recovery Act?

Areas of US construction. Click here to listen to stories of Americans at work.

Earlier this week, the White House released a statement that administration officials highlighted recent grants released by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to support more livable and sustainable communities across the country. The Partnership, which consists of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to build economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, transportation, and more.

As I was driving down Constitution Avenue last evening guess what I saw? Workers finally repaving the dreaded area of our Nation's Capital that has needed attention for far too long.

What I did not see were the faces of diversity doing the work - even in a diverse city like Washington, DC.

Related
Grants Gallore
PolicyLink
Transportation Nation
             

First Lady of Fashion Figurine Collection

Michelle Obama: First Lady of Fashion Figurine Collection


First Lady of Fashion Michelle Obama Collection of gowns, figurines and memorabilia.



Now, you have the incredible opportunity to own a lasting tribute to America's stunning First Lady.


Presenting...the Michelle Obama: First Lady of Fashion Figurine Collection, featuring her most memorable outfits.


Each beautifully detailed, remarkably lifelike figurine is crafted of cold-cast porcelain and is meticulously hand painted by skilled artisans. 

Figurines can be purchased individually from Danbury Mint.


Available First Lady figurines.
 

Noted Author and Pastor Passes

Bishop Arthur M. Brazier author and former pastor emeritus of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois has died.

Brazier was also a bishop, prominent civic leader and founder of The Woodlawn Organization, which was influential in Chicago's civil rights movement in the 1960s and continues its work to this day.

He was 89.

President Obama remarked on the passing:

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, a stalwart of the city of Chicago, and one of our nation’s leading moral lights, Bishop Arthur M. Brazier. Through his service as a pastor and his work on behalf of our communities, Bishop Brazier touched the lives of countless Americans.

Bishop Brazier grew up during the Great Depression and never forgot how the sting of poverty can shape a community and a nation. A committed patriot, Bishop Brazier served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army in India and Burma at the height of World War II. He returned to Chicago where he promoted spiritual empowerment and economic development through his pastorate of Apostolic Church of God and leadership of numerous community organizations and charitable efforts.

There is no way that we can replace the gentle heart and boundless determination that Bishop Brazier brought to some of the most pressing challenges facing Chicago and our nation. However, his spirit will live on through the parishioners, leaders and friends that he touched each day. Michelle and I join the Brazier family, the Apostolic Church of God, and all of Chicago in this moment of prayer and mourning, and in our commitment to ensure that Bishop Brazier’s legacy lives on through our service to others."

Conyers Wants To Help Make the President Stronger

Speaking at a small gathering for the Democratic Socialists of America meeting earlier this month, Congressman John Conyers had a few choice (tough love) words for President Obama and his administration.

Conyers was critical of the continuation of the war in Afghanistan saying, "There probably isn't anybody above the tenth grade who doesn't know you can't win a war in Afghanistan."

Conyers even had choice words about White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying the Democrats might lose both the House and the Senate, calling his choice of words "automatically dismissible".

"If I were president, that would be the end of it.  I would send him packing", said Conyers.  Adding, "I don't know where he came from anyway."

Gibbs has since changed his summertime opinion.



Conyers called President Obama "one of the smartest men in American politics."

Apparently, one smart man who hasn't done enough to help the economy get going.  Especially when it comes to putting Americans back to work.

"I respect him. I support him. But he needs to do something about jobs", said Conyers. "Immediately."

Conyers is in the process of submitting legislation to address the jobs crisis.

"I have to fight for the principals I was fighting for before he (Obama) even stepped foot in Washington", said Conyers.




Conyers has also been critical of the President's response to relief efforts and assistance in Haiti, almost nine months after being hit by the worst earthquake in the region.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are There Really Ghosts Lurking In The White House?

Spooky?  The White House in pink.  (BCAM photo/L. Jackson)
With Halloween beckoning around the corner, the thought of ghosts and goblins permeate the season.

But are there really ghosts at the White House?

A web site purporting to have the inside scoop on such things reveals there could be at least ten.  We'll reveal at least three that  even include former presidents.

Ghost #1: President Lincoln.  Lincoln might as well still be collecting a salary based on how often he seems to be at the White House. Winston Churchill had a famous encounter with Lincoln in the Lincoln bedroom. After a hot bath with a Scotch and a cigar, Churchill climbed out of the bath naked (obviously) and went back into the bedroom to get ready for bed. To his surprise, the room was already occupied by our 16th president. Churchill managed to quip, “”Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage,” before Abe disappeared. Sounds a bit too perfect to me, but it sure makes for a good story. Other people who have seen Lincoln include his biographer, Carl Sandburg; Grace Coolidge; Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who fainted when she saw him; Teddy Roosevelt; Herbert Hoover; Nancy Reagan; Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jackie Kennedy. It’s rumored that Lincoln’s ghost appears the night before a national tragedy.

Ghost #2: Andrew Jackson.  White House guests who hear a man unabashedly cursing but can’t find a body to accompany the swearing may very well be hearing Andrew Jackson. His old canopy bed is used in the Rose Bedroom, so he must feel at ease occupying the room. Mary Todd Lincoln thought she encountered him in 1865; he was cursing about something. One of LBJ’s aides heard the exact same thing in the Rose Bedroom in 1964. And a White House seamstress once felt Jackson lean over her as she was hemming the bedspread on his bed.

Ghost #3: Thomas Jefferson.  Mary Todd also thought she saw Thomas Jefferson in the Yellow Oval Room on multiple occasions. Although we may want to take Mary Todd’s sightings with a grain of salt, other visitors have reported hearing phantom violin music from this room – a sign that Jefferson may still be practicing his favorite instrument even in the great beyond.

To learn more about of these and other ghostly White House sightings and stories, click here.

The President's Committee On Arts and Humanities (PCAH)

If it's October, it's a celebration of Arts and Humanities in Washington, D.C. 

Where better to celebrate than at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama (the honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities)?

In the East Room of the White House artist awards were presented to the following after school programs from across the country:

After-School Playwriting Program/Young Playwrights’ Theater, Inc./Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP)/Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Institutions, Inc./Brooklyn, N.Y.; Center for Community Arts Partnerships/Community Schools Initiative/Columbia College Chicago/Chicago, Ill.; Community MusicWorks/Providence, R.I.; FACT After–School Programs/Fine Arts for Children and Teens, Inc./Santa, Fe, N.M.;Girlstories Theatre Project and Workshops/Powerstories Theatre, Inc./Tampa, Fla.; New Directions YouthArts/City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs/Las Vegas, Nev./Project ALERTA/University of Massachusetts/Boston, Mass.; RiverzEdge Arts Project/Woonsocket, R.I.; San Francisco WritersCorps/Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library/San Francisco Arts Commission/San Francisco, Calif.; Scripps College Academy/Scripps College/Claremont, Calif.; The After School Program/ Mentors of Minorities in Education, Inc./Washington, D.C.; Artists Collective’s Transforming the Lives of High Risk Youth: Training in the Arts & Culture of the African Diaspora/Artists Collective, Inc./Hartford, Conn.; Urban Voices/Global Action Project, Inc./New York, N.Y.; YouthCAN/Wing Luke Asian Museum/Seattle, Wash.

The International Spotlight Award, presented by Mary Schmidt Campbell (PCAH Vice-Chairman), went to the Jean Baptiste Dessaix Music School in Jacmel, Haiti.

At the ceremony's end a performance by the Youth Jazz Ensemble, featuring Jackie McClain, played to a live tap dance performance.
Mrs. Obama said the students' experiences "will stick with them for the rest of their lives", and thanked the teachers, administrators, the directors, the artists - who against the odds - keep the after-school programs afloat. She crediting them for "teaching the young people how to become better artists or better musicians", and for "connecting them with mentors and college counselors."

"You’re helping them become better people. And you’re giving them skills that will help make their futures that much brighter", said Mrs. Obama.

Executive Order Renewing The White House Initiative On Educational Excellence For Hispanics

President Obama smiles at Javier Garcia of Brownsville, Texas during yesterday's signing of the Initiative on Eduation Excellence for Hispanics.  WH Photo/Samantha Appleton.
President Obama signed an Executive Order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics so that it better serves communities across the country by engaging them in the process of improving the education of Latino students.

"It’s precisely that kind of participation –- engaging the American people, giving all of you more say in the policies that affect your lives, and holding ourselves accountable to deliver real results in return –- that is at the heart of a new Executive Order I’m about to sign to strengthen the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics", said the president.

First established in September of 1990, the Initiative was created to advise the Secretary of Education on issues related to Hispanics and to address academic excellence and opportunities for the Hispanic Community.

Reports indicate Hispanic students face educational challenges of crisis proportions. Fewer than half of all Hispanic children participate in early childhood education programs, and far too few Hispanic students graduate from high school; of those who do complete high school, many are not adequately prepared for college. Only 13 percent of adult Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree, and just 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs.

At the same time, large numbers of Hispanic adults lack the education or literacy skills they need to advance their careers; they also are less likely than members of other groups to have taken job- or career-related courses, with the exception of basic education classes, such as English as a second language.
Since 2009, the Initiative office has engaged in community conversations with 90 communities in 30 states with over 10,000 participants between June and December 2009.  The community conversations brought to the forefront key challenges and priorities of the education system with respect to the Hispanic community, enlisted individuals and organizations to join the Initiative’s national network, and partnered with others across the country to work on key issues.  The new Executive Order, to supersede previous ones, reflects the new initiatives.

The President's goals for education during his tenure include making sure that all students receive a complete and competitive education from cradle to career.

“Making sure we offer all our kids, regardless of race, a world-class education is more than a moral obligation, it’s an economic imperative if we want America to succeed in the 21st century,” said President Obama. “But it’s not something that can fall to the Department of Education alone. It’s going to take all of us – public and private sector, teachers and principals, parents getting involved in their kids’ education, and students giving their best – because the farther they go in school, the farther they’ll go in life.”

More info on the Initiative available here.

Related
This month the Treasury Department announced their report showing that the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) increased overall tax benefits for higher education expenses by more than 90 percent, helping 12.5 million students and their families pay for college in 2009.  Recipients of the AOTC received an average tax credit of more than $1,700, which is an increase of about 75 percent over the average Hope Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit recipient in 2008. The report also finds that since the AOTC is refundable, 4.5 million students and families received a tax refund from the AOTC in 2009 with an average value of $800, which they would not have been eligible for in 2008.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In New York Governors' Race, One Thing Is Sure...

The Rent Is Too Damn High!

The race for Governor of New York just got a little more interesting.

Jimmy 'The Rent's Too Damn High' McMillan.  US Vet, Karate master and candidate for Governor of New York.

Enter candidate Jimmy McMillan,  karate master and Vietnam vet.

He's running on a campaign that is as easy to understand as "Yes, we can!"

His campaign message? The rent is too damn high!

In a debate that took place last night in New York, McMillan stated his case



Laugh if you want to, we think McMillan is on point.  

Hey Mr. McMillan, we think the rent in DC, and all around the country is 'too damn high!'

While McMillan's web site, www.rentistoodamnhigh.org (as of this posting) has been suspended (I wonder why), you can still learn about the shoot-from-the-hip Governor's candidate at www.jimmymcmillan.org.

I feel like running in a campaign myself as I'm writing this piece.   My platform?  This computer is too damn slow!

Wow! DNC Fundraising Continues In Fiery and Capitvating Fashion

First Lady Michelle Obama Workin' It Well!

Those attending last evening's DNC fundraising event at New York's St. James Theatre witnessed nothing short of a spectacular event.

With the likes of Patti LaBelle and actress Sarah Jessica Parker as supporters at this event, you can bet a good time was had by all.

As one report puts it "Dems In The City".  Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dr. Jill Biden in NYC at last evening's DNC Fundraiser event at the St. James Theater.

Noah Rosenberg of The New York Times gives a very detailed account of the last night's fundraiser at the St. James Theater (Located where else? On 44th Street. Something magical about that isn't?) in New York City. 

Rosenberg's report highlights the power of the First Lady as she continues to be well received on the campaign trail as she drums up support for her husband and the Democrats for the upcoming mid-term elections.

It made me wish I was there!

Here's Noah's take...

First Lady Michelle Obama was greeted with a standing ovation by a sell-out crowd during a fundraiser at Manhattan’s St. James Theater Tuesday night.

The event, hosted by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and featuring live music by Patti Labelle, also included remarks from Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joseph Biden. After an electric performance that Ms. Labelle concluded with her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Parker, of “Sex and the City” fame, introduced Dr. Biden as a “remarkably dedicated citizen and person.”

Dr. Biden, who spoke for around five minutes in a tight-fitting purple dress, underscored the spirit of American women and emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to education, particularly its emphasis on community colleges. She added, however, that “there is so much more to do.”

Parker, in a black and white dress, returned to the stage to welcome Mrs. Obama, whom she described as “a role model, an inspiration” and a woman who “doesn’t need a pair of heals to stand tall.” The crowd exploded in laughter. As the First Lady walked onto the stage in a form-fitting, sleeveless gray dress, the audience rose to its feet in applause. “You’re fired up!” Mrs. Obama said with a smile, before quickly adding, “Rest yourselves – we have a lot of work to do.” Mrs. Obama, whose remarks lasted close to 20 minutes, emphasized the importance of the American Dream and said that Americans are unified in their desire for a better life for themselves and their children. She noted that despite the “fear, doubt, setbacks and disappointments” that go hand-in-hand with pushing change, America needs to keep moving forward.

“We have come much too far, much too far, to turn back know,” she said to enthusiastic agreement from the crowd. “But it’s not going to be easy. Because real change never, never, comes easy.”

Mrs. Obama emphasized the President’s accomplishments with regard to tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses, his investments in clean energy and scientific research like stem cells, his health care reform and dedication to war veterans.

“These are just some examples – some – of the kind of change that we’re already making,” she said, noting that she and Mr. Obama need the help of passionate supporters  because it was “never about just putting one man in the White House.”

The First Lady encouraged supporters to knock on doors, make phone calls, get involved. “I know that we can keep the American dream alive,” she said before adding, “I just have one question: Can we do this?”

Mrs. Obama, flanked by Ms. Parker and Dr. Biden, walked off the stage, smiling, to chants of “Yes We Can,” echoing in the West 44th Street theater.

Tickets to the event ranged from $2,500 down to a limited-option $100 for supporters of Gen44, the Democratic National Committee’s program to cultivate the next generation of Democratic donors and leaders.

The event followed Monday fundraising appearances by the First Lady in Connecticut, in support of Democratic Senate Candidate Richard Blumenthal, and a private event at a Manhattan residence, where 85 guests paid $10,000 each.

The two Manhattan events were expected to generate a combined $1 million, according to the DNC, with 20 percent coming from the concert.

(End pool report)

Thanks again to Noah for providing the coverage.

As we've stated before here Politics. On Point. we absolutely love First Lady Michelle and all that she does.  She is a Tour de Force not to be reckoned with!  And looks gorgeous playing her role (as she did last evening)!

Back here in Washington, on tomorrow (Wednesday), the First Lady (honorary chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH)), will speak about the importance of after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education by hosting the PCAH’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards – the country’s highest honor in this field.

October is National Arts and Humanities Month with several events going on in the city in its honor.

The awards focus national attention on exemplary programs currently fostering the creative and intellectual development of America’s children and youth through education, and practical experience in the arts and the humanities. And, on Wednesday, awards will be given to 15 successful programs across the country that reach under served children and youth. In addition to the First Lady’s and PCAH members’ involvement, the ceremony will also include PCAH cultural agency partners:  the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and be complemented by select performances from awardees. This event will be live streamed starting at 11:00 AM at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

Later in the day, The First Lady will host students from local Washington, D.C. schools to participate in the White House Kitchen Garden Fall Harvest. As part of her Let’s Move! campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

The First Lady will speak about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, and will share with the youth  lessons about where their food comes from and how that impacts their health.

She will also emphasize her Chefs Move to School program by inviting the students from Tubman Elementary, the school which White House chefs have adopted. Students from Bancroft Elementary, a long-term partner in Mrs. Obama’s work on the garden, will participate in this harvest.

Monday, October 18, 2010

DC's Early Voting Process

General Election Just 15 Days Away

As a result of the new early voting program, residents can cast their ballot for the General Election starting today.

Just like during the Primary, early voting opens first at the Board of Elections office at One Judiciary Square. People can vote there until Monday, November 1st, from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm.

From Saturday, October 23rd until Saturday, October 30, early voting will be open at the same four remote voting centers as during the primary election:

Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Ave., NW
Hine Junior High School, 335 8th Street, SE
Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, 701 Mississippi Ave., SE
Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Ave., NE

All polling locations are closed on Sundays.

White House Celebrates Science Fair Winners


President Obama looks over science projects from the winners of the White House Science Fair.
Today, the President hosted the first-ever White House Science Fair celebrating the winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions.  The President  viewed exhibits of these students’ work, ranging from breakthrough basic research to new inventions, and followed by remarks to an audience of students, science educators and business leaders on the importance of STEM education to our country’s economic future. 

Said President Obama, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too,” the President said.



In attendance: Secretary Steven Chu, Department of Energy;  Director John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy; Director Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council; Director Regina Dugan, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Director Subra Suresh, National Science Foundation (NSF); Director Patrick Gallagher, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Deputy Director Cora Marrett, National Science Foundation (NSF); Associate Director and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Technology Division, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Associate Director Philip Coyle, National Security & International Affairs Division, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Associate Director Shere Abbott, Energy & Environment Division, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Deputy Associate Administrator John Hickey, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Nobel Laureates in attendance:  Dr. Baruch Blumberg, Dr. John Mather, Dr. Harold Varmus, Director, National Cancer Institute.

Leading STEM Educators in attendance: Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, MythBusters; Bill Nye of Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Major STEM Advocates in attendance: Norm Augustine, former Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin, Dean Kamen, Founder, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

For the list of exhibits and winners, click here.

The president is scheduled to appear on a December 8, 2010 episode of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters, a popular television show which uses science to determine the truth behind urban legends.

Video link.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Former Bush Official On Book Tour

In less than a week, two of the George Bush administration's former cabinet members make the news.

We told you about former Vice President Dick Cheney earlier this week.

On Friday former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice spoke at the National Press Club about her new book titled, Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me.


Condoleezza Rice speaking at the National Press Club on Friday.
 The accomplished Stanford grad spoke on a number of topics including growing up in Alabama amid its racist climate, how she credits her parents (and God) for her success, the strength of the African American community as she saw it during her childhood, 9/11, former president George W. Bush, and current President, Barack Obama (whom she met with later in the day at the White House).

On the topic of meeting Obama, Rice said, "I'm sure we'll talk about whatever he wants to talk about."

When asked about the meeting during a White House press briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said, "She was going to be in town, and the President obviously couldn’t make her book party later today.  But he wanted to bring her in and have a chat with her.  I’m sure they’ll talk about a wide range of foreign policy issues."

Watch C-Span's coverage of Rice at the National Press Club below.



Read Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me by clicking the book's cover image below.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

White House To Go Pink

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the White House is getting involved.

Both the White House and the Main Gate of the U.S. Naval Observatory will be lit pink Thursday night at 6:29pm ET.

White House donning pink in honor of BCAM.  WH Photo/Lawrence Jackson.

Also, this Friday, October 15th, Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will host a conference call with women’s groups and breast cancer survivors and advocates to discuss the importance of screenings and early detection services, such as mammograms and related benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Other organizations in our area supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month include the Washington Redskins who held a breast cancer survivor luncheon and glam fest out at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va; and the Susan G. Koman for the Cure Foundation's annual five mile walk in DC.

Related
National Breast Cancer.org
The NFL Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

First Lady Hits The Campaign Trail

Participating in early voting in her home town of Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama reminds everyone to vote early for the Nov. 2nd mid-term elections.  (See video).

First Lady, first in line, votes early in Chicago.
Here are some details of today's event, as told by pool reporter Abdon M. Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times.

First Lady Michelle Obama early-voted in Chicago Thursday morning.


Just after 9 a.m. she entered the Martin Luther King Center on the South Side and was the first early voter of the day.

“I think that’s you,” Election Judge Dorothy Yarbrough, a retired CTA bus driver told the first lady after looking up Mrs. Obama’s voting record.

“You think?” the first lady replied with a smile.

Chicago Board of Elections employee Charles Holiday gave the first lady a quick lesson on how to work the electronic voting machine.

At 5’-11”, Mrs. Obama had to hunch over a bit to use the machine. It took her six minutes to get through the ballot, which, in addition to governor, senator, and the big offices, also includes 78 judges running to be elected or retained on the bench.

Social worker Amanda Deisch was the second voter to show up Thursday morning. She snapped a cell-phone photo of the first lady as she took the voting machine next to her and began voting.

Voter Anna Roberts took the next machine and as Mrs. Obama was finishing up voting, she allowed Deisch to take another cell phone photo and she shook hands with both women.

Obama went back to the desk and handed in her voting machine key, saying "Make sure everybody’s voting early.”

She let more voters including electrician Dennis Campbell, 56, take some photos with her.

“She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband’s agenda going,” Campbell said.

“I told her we supported her and her husband and we were praying for them,” Deisch said. “I told her we’re trying to get the kids moving – her childhood obesity effort.”

Continuing on the campaign trail, Mrs. Obama will join the President this Sunday in Cleveland and in Columbus, Ohio.
 
On yesterday, the First Lady campaigned in Milwaukee, WI (where early voting has begun also) in support of Senator Russ Feingold.

Watch video.



First Lady Campaigning in Chicago.

Remember That Cheney Hunting Shooting?

New Details Reveal Additional (True) Details

Attorney Harry Whittington was shot by then Vice President Dick Cheney in 2006 on a hunting trip in Texas. [Photo/Nuri Vallbona/for The Post/Reuters]
Interesting news coming out today in the Washington Post that counters details originally given about former Vice President Dick Cheney who 'accidentally' shot his 'hunting buddy' while on a hunting trip on a private Texas ranch.

Harry Whittington, an attorney, and formerly introduced as a long-time friend to Cheney, was shot by Cheney in 2006.  Whittington sustained a collapsed lung and underwent extensive surgery. 

When the smoke cleared two hundred bits of shrapnel pierced Whittington's face, neck and chest. His face is scarred and about 30 pieces of shot are still deeply embedded in his body.

Whittington, now 82, says he was barely an acquaintance of Cheney, and not a long-time friend.

What are the true details

Read more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

President Obama To Address Youth Via BET/MTV Town Hall Meeting

**Update!   Watch vid here. **

THE PRESIDENT is scheduled to participate in a youth Town Hall live on Viacom’s BET, and MTV networks tomorrow, taking questions via Twitter.

A collaboration between Viacom channels BET, CMT and MTV, the commercial-free airing will place the president face to face with 250 young people in a serious conversation about pressing issues.

The participants chosen to meet with President Obama at BET Studios will cover a broad cross-section of the nation, including varying political, religious and racial backgrounds. To ensure everyone receives a fair chance to ask the president a question, the online audience can utilize "Twitter Tracker," a web-based tool that will be featured during the live event as the primary way for viewers at home to submit questions and track comments related to the town hall. Although the Twitter Tracker doesn’t go live until Wednesday, interested parties can submit their questions now via Twitter. 

When submitting to the Tracker, users must be sure to include a hashtag with the word "ask" and a word describing the nature of their question. If the subject pertains to jobs, the hashtag would be #askjobs. For education, type #askeducation. Questions can also be submitted via mobile phone.

Be sure to tune in for a perspective-changing conversation on Thursday, October 14 at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT (tape-delayed 4 p.m. PT) on BET.com, Centric, MTV.com, CMT, mtvU and Tr3s.

The event, hosted by BET’s April Woodard, MTV’s Sway Calloway and CMT’s Katie Cook, will be live streamed on BET.com, CMT.com, MTV.com and Tr3s.com, and can be accessed on demand for 30 days after the event.

On Tuesday, the president participated in a “Moving America Forward” town hall meeting sponsored by the DNC at George Washington University.

Out With The Old. In With The New.

DC Public Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, Announces Resignation

The “mutual decision” to have DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee resign today was one that incoming mayor Vincent Gray called “the right one for our school community.”
Incoming DC Mayor Vincent Gray  with interim DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. Photos/CD Brown.
During this morning's press conference at the Mayflower Hotel, Chancellor Rhee, outgoing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, and incoming mayor Vincent Gray, welcomed and announced Kaya Henderson as the interim school chancellor to replace Rhee.

Henderson served as the Vice President for the New Teacher Project, a recruitment project designed to hire the best and brightest teachers to teach in urban settings.

Reading excerpts from a posted statement on the DCPS web site announcing her resignation, Rhee said "with Henderson at the helm, and the DCPS management team in place, everything the city needs to be able to continue the reforms, will be in place."

Rhee, who gave Henderson a 'welcome aboard' hug during the media availablity,  said she has “known Henderson for the better part of her professional career”, calling Henderson “an unbelievable candidate”.

Rhee said she has the utmost confidence in Henderson to move the “effort forward” to obtain a “world class educational system” for the District.

The Gray administration plans to have Henderson join him at upcoming town hall meetings. Gray is encouraging those with questions and suggestions on the new administration to voice their opinion at http://www.vincegrayformayor.com/onecity/.

Rhee, who said she “put her blood, sweat and tears” into the DC school system during her three and a half year tenure, said she has "completely enjoyed every minute of it". She called the thought of not being in the role as Chancellor, “heartbreaking”.

Outgoing mayor Adrian Fenty with interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson, mayor-elect Vincent Gray, and Michelle Rhee.
“But I do know it is the right thing for the school system”, said Rhee.

Rhee came under criticism when she fired hundreds of teachers, flipped flopped on the reason to do so -citing budget concerns, and teacher misconduct.

Despite her rocky relationship with teachers and parents, Rhee went on to thank the parents, teachers, and students of DCPS.

Of the parents Rhee said, “You've emailed me, you've called me, you've come to the coffees and the office hours, you've never been shy about telling me when you disagreed with me, and because of you, we are bringing change into every corner of this city.”

She went on to call the students of DC “the greatest.”

Rhee, who will officially resign at the end of October, said she will “obviously spend time in Sacramento, California”, alluding to the new life she will have with new husband, the former NBA player turned Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson.

Outgoing DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, deferring most questions about the Rhee decision to the office of incoming Mayor Vincent gray, said he would pursue opportunities in the private sector.

We asked Fenty, (who said his expectations of the outgoing Chancellor "couldn't have been higher"), what he believed to be his major accomplishment as Mayor of the District of Columbia.

“Education”, said Fenty.

Other
Kaya Speaks: Teach for America -
Vincent Gray: Build One City
October is DC National Arts and Humanities
Mixed Reactions on Rhee's Resignation