Covering

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



Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Nominations Sent To Senate

Today, President Obama nominated Ronnie Abrams to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and Rudolph Contreras to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  

Ronnie Abrams currently serves as Special Counsel for Pro Bono at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, a position she has held since 2008. Previously, Abrams served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1998 to 2008, where she served as Acting Chief of the General Crimes Unit from 2004 to 2005, Chief of the General Crimes Unit from 2005 to 2007, and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division from 2007 to 2008. From 1994 to 1998, Abrams was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas P. Griesa of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 1994. Abrams earned a J.D. in 1993 from Yale Law School and a B.A. in 1990 from Cornell University.

Rudolph Contreras has been an Assistant United States Attorney for the past 17 years, representing the federal government in civil litigation. For the past five years, Contreras has served as Chief of the Civil Division in the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, having previously served in the same position in the District of Delaware from 2003 to 2006.

Contreras was recommended to President Obama by DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

“Rudolph Contreras has had an unusually impressive legal career,” Norton said. “I am very pleased that the President has agreed to nominate this exceptionally well-qualified lawyer for our federal district court. Throughout his career as an assistant U.S. attorney and in private practice, he has demonstrated the consummate professionalism, intelligence, character, diligence, and collegiality that predict he will be an outstanding judge.”

Contreras, the son of Cuban immigrants, was born in New York but moved to Miami as a young child. He worked his way through Florida State University and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, cum laude and Order of the Coif, where he served on the law review. He spent the first three years of his legal career as a corporate litigator at Jones Day here, and has since been an assistant U.S. attorney in various capacities, including in important supervisory roles, mostly in the District of Columbia.

Contreras was hired from Jones Day by then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Eric Holder as an assistant U.S. attorney in the civil division. He spent his first four years defending the government and the next four years prosecuting claims at both the trial and appellate levels. 
Prior to beginning his service as a government attorney in the District of Columbia in 1994, Contreras spent three years as an associate at Jones Day. He received his J.D. cum laude in 1991 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and his B.S. in 1984 from Florida State University.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,” President Obama said. “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

The president also nominated Judge Evan Jonathan Wallach to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Judge Wallach is currently a judge on the United States Court of International Trade.

Judge Wallach has been a judge on the United States Court of International Trade, based in New York, since 1995.  He has also served as an adjunct law professor on the law of war at numerous institutions, including Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School, since 1997.

President Obama said of Wallach, “Judge Wallach has distinguished himself throughout his legal career in both the public and private sectors. He possesses a keen intellect and a commitment to fairness and integrity that will serve him well as a judge on the Federal Circuit.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

DC Mayor Has Choice Words For Congress

At today's opening dedication of the new African American Civil War Museum, DC Mayor Vincent Gray had some choice words.

Gray was referencing the issue of home rule in the District of Columbia, and District not having a say in how its own money is spent.

"We are not free in the District of Columbia", the mayor shouted.

Gray said today's dedication of the African American Civil War Museum, and the August, 2011 dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is the "perfect opportunity" for the District's 600,000 residents to stand up in defense of that fact.

Gray, in an increasingly excitable tone, posed the question, "Why is it that we have to send our laws up to a body that has becoming increasingly famous for the gridlock that exists everyday on Capital Hill".



The new African American Civil War Museum is located at 1925 Vermont Avenue, sitting just behind the old Grimke School. 

"My mother used to go to Grimke School", said council member Yvette Alexander who said of the museum, "it's a wonderful way for America to learn about our history in the civil war".

Also present for the dedication were council member Jim Graham, councilman Kwame Brown, Bill Lucy, Congresswoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and the Honorable Jesse Jackson, Jr., who, along with others, were given dedication awards on the day.

The museum boasts a permanent exhibition portraying the extraordinary African American struggle for freedom in the United States.  The museum houses a Descendants Registry for Civil War ancestors to trace their lineage, along with several artifacts for the civil war period.

To learn more visit www.AfroAMcivilwar.org.

More
Click here for Jesse Jackson, Jr. remarks.

A Presidential Monday

President Barack Obama's Monday schedule is shaping up to be yet another busy one.

Richard Cordary has been chosen by President Obama to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

He is scheduled to make a major personnel announcement in the early afternoon: one that states his nomimation of Richard Cordray to Lead Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Update: View announcement video here).

From the White House blog on the selection:

It has been one year since President Obama passed financial reform to help tackle the problems that created the financial crisis that pulled the economy into the worst recession we've seen since the Great Depression, As the President described today, the law did three things, "First, it made taxpayer-funded bailouts illegal, so taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill if a big bank goes under. Second, it said to Wall Street firms, you can’t take the same kind of reckless risks that led to the crisis. And third, it put in place the strongest consumer protections in history."

--

Later in the day the president is then scheduled to host an education roundtable with business leaders, along with Secretary of Educaton Arne Duncan, Senior  While House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell and Founding Chair General Colin Powell to discuss building upon strong industry-led partnerships that are working to transform the American education system.

Said the president, “A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can outcompete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why were working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child.”

New committments announce today include the Community Engagement and Investment to Transform the Nation’s Lowest-Performing Schools: America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation Community Impact Fund will raise $50 million to support the goal of ending the dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and career. The first planning grants from this social venture fund will be awarded in the fall to communities that demonstrate a commitment to local action aligned with the goals of the Grad Nation Campaign, including student supports for our most vulnerable young people.  Applicants will be communities with a low-performing school and a willingness and capacity to build a multi-sector, collaborative approach that includes partnerships with the business community and local school system, and the capacity to raise matching funds to promote local investment to sustain this work.

Expanding Opportunities for Students to Prepare for Livable Wage Jobs: Bank of America will announce a $50 million pledge to education over the next 3 years, launching this goal through $4.5 million in grants. The investment will support programs that bridge the achievement gap to post-secondary education completion and connect the underserved and unemployed, as well as returning veterans, and individuals with disabilities, to workforce success in high-growth sectors, in particular through community colleges.  Recognizing the need for knowledgeable and skilled workers to compete in the global economy, Bank of America is investing in education as part of its comprehensive lending, investing and volunteer activities aimed at strengthening the economic and social health of communities.

Research and Development for Next Generation Learning Models and Resources for Students and Teachers: Building on its history of commitment to education and recent $25 million STEM Scholarship grant program in Washington State, Microsoft Education is announcing a new $15M investment in research and development for immersive learning technologies including game based instruction and the creation of a lifelong learning digital archive. Through the creation of these innovative solutions, the disengaged can become passionate problem solvers and the struggling student can be offered other pathways to success.  Rooted in this investment is the understanding that technical innovation alone will not help. Therefore, over the next 3 years, Microsoft is committing to train over 150 thousand educators and leaders and provide access to professional learning communities and training to every teacher in the United States through the new Partners in Learning Network, and
Supporting a Statewide Focus on Education System Redesign: In the past four years, the Nike School Innovation Fund (NSIF) has provided $7 million in innovation grants and thousands of volunteer hours by senior Nike leaders and other employees to support students, teachers and principals in three Oregon public school districts. The Fund is announcing a new commitment as a primary partner of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and his initiative to help make the state’s entire education system more nimble, innovative and supportive of the key grades of 9 to 12. With this news, Nike’s commitment to strengthening education in Oregon totals $10 million. The NSIF will now provide a year of funding, expertise and policy guidance that is expected to serve as a model for the Governor’s larger statewide education transformation plan.

Scheduled meeting participants include Marguerite Kondracke, President & CEO, America’s Promise, Alma Powell, Chairwoman, America’s Promise, General Colin Powell, Founding Chairman, America’s Promise, Craig Barrett, Former President & CEO, Intel, Glenn Britt, CEO, Time Warner Cable, Steve Case, Former Chairman & CEO, America Online, Brian Gallagher, President & CEO, United Way Worldwide,William Green, President & CEO, Accenture,  Fred Humphries, Senior Vice President, Microsoft, Rhonda Mimms, Foundation President, ING, Kathleen Murphy, President, Fidelity Personal Investments, Ed Rust, CEO, State Farm, Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T, Bill Swanson, Chairman & CEO, Raytheon, Laysha Ward, Foundation President, Target Corporation, David Zaslav, President & CEO, Discovery Communications, Former Governor Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education, and Anne Finucane, Chair of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bank of America.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pool Report: The First Family Attends Church

We love this! The First Family strolling hand-in-hand as they walk to St. John's Episcopal Church today.
Here are the raw details from White House pool reporter John Stanton of Roll Call.

The first fam left St Johns at 1135, and after a short stroll through Lafayette Park, returned to the White House. The homily was based on the story of Jacobs Ladder and a meditation on finding God in places you would not expect to.

"The First Family were delighted to worship with the St. John's Episcopal Church congregation today as they have in the past, and look forward to visiting again," a White House official said.

St. Johns is an Episcopal Church, which dates back to 1815, and since James Madison every sitting president has worshipped there (www.stjohns-dc.org is their site).

Churches in the DC area the Obamas have attended include: the 19th Street Baptist Church, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, the Washington National Cathedral, multiple times at St. John's Episcopal Church, and Evergreen Chapel at Camp David.

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Also:  When asked if he (President Obama) would be watching the Women's World Cup Championship POTUS replied, "Absolutely. Go USA!"

The USA plays Japan today in what should be an easy match for the Americans who have been amazing this year, leaving the pitch littered with the broken dreams of their opponents.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Arianna Huffington: "Bear Witness"

Arianna Huffington speaking at the National Press Club.  Photo/CD Brown.
Media mogul and owner of AOL/Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington spoke yesterday at the National Press Club, on her birthday nonetheless.

She shared the secret to her highly successful media conglomerate, recently purchased by America On Line for $310 million, and offers some staunch advice for today's journalists in a modern media world.



She was joined by AOL's chairman and CEO, Tim Armstrong, Politico's  Bryan Doyle, and the Hill magazine's Al Eisele.

Huffington speaks to fans after the luncheon.  Photo/CD Brown.

Photos here.  Click here to hear what her birthday wish is!

President On The Deficit Crisis: "We're Running Out of Time"

President Tells Reporters "That's My Main Concern"

In day 5 of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, no agreeable solution has been made to raise the debt ceiling to keep America from defaulting on its financial obligations. 
If the deadline passes without a consensus between the parties, the results could be dire.

President Obama speaking during  Friday's press conference in the James Brady briefing room.  Photo/CD Brown.
Chief Advisor to the president, Valerie Jarrett, speaking on the Joe Madison show this week, explains.

"The affect on everyday people will be devastating", Jarrett said.

 "We've already heard from the rating agencies that they will consider downgrading on our debt.  If we default on our obligations, it's just like anyone else who defaults... you're creditors will lose confidence in you."  Jarrett further explained that interest rates could go up which would increase credit rates and mortgage lending rates.

"The stock market would inevitably go down, so people's investments would be at risk".

Senior citizens would also be at risk, possibly losing their social security payments.

"If we can't pay our bills, then how are we going to send out the 70 million checks we send out each month for social security, Medicare, and all the payments for our troops overseas?"

With all that at stake House Republicans are steadfast, saying they are against tax hikes to cut the deficit. 

"Tax hikes destroy jobs", Boehner said in a news conference this week. Boehner and his 'team' suggested that Washington has gone on a spending spree, one that he claims needs to stop.

Anyone following politics knows that Washington has always been on a 'spending spree', and has always raised taxes.  The debt ceiling has been raised 60 times without a mega dramatic episode between the two parties like we're currently witnessing.



While Jarrett described the president as a "patient man", and Obama himself said he's "bent over backwards" to compromise with Republicans, many are still wondering why Republicans would go to such great lengths to bring the country to its knees, despite the fact they claim they "don't want the country to go into default".

The Issue That Looms

Why is it a big deal now with raising the debt ceiling?  Why can't the decision to raise the debt limit be agreed upon now, after having been raised 60 times by previous U.S. presidents, but not with the current president in office?

All this posturing would have one believe one of two things, or perhaps both things. 
Republicans want to continue to enjoy the Bush era tax credits they've been receiving, or/and the Republican's antics are continued measures to try to show the president is weak and unable to lead and therefore should be a one-term president.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson (D-TX) on the Senate floor this week gave light, in a public setting, to the private, water cooler-like speculation that Republicans don't like having an African American president in the White House, thus their plan is to try to discredit him at every turn.


(We love Sheila Jackson-Lee)

"He is no different than any other president that has served, and I beg this House and I beg this Congress to treat him with the dignity that that office deserves,” she concluded. “Get on with our work. Get on with solving the problems of the American people – a diversely, multicultural nation.”
The pressure is on, has been on, to come together to do what is best for the country, but said President Obama yesterday in a news conference, "We're running out of time".

"That's what concerns me the most".

He Has This Hope. Others Not So Hopeful.

"My expectation and hope is, is that everybody, in the coming days, is going to be willing to compromise".

"And I’m hopeful that over the next couple of days we’ll see logjam break -- this logjam broken, because the American people I think understandably want to see Washington do its job".

Despite the deadlock President Obama still has hope.   When asked why he was so hopeful that a deal would be made, he responded, "Don't you remember my campaign?

The president said even after being in Washington for  two-and-a-half years, he continues to have hope.

"You know why I have hope?  It’s because of the American people.  When I talk to them and I meet with them, as frustrated as they are about this town, they still reflect good common sense.  And all we have to do is align with that common sense on this problem, it can get solved".

Not everyone is as hopeful, however.

If you really want to get to the heart of what this town is thinking about Washington politics, just talk to any of the protesters leading their own delegation - just outside the White House. 

Yesterday we saw a DC resident, Barbara Taylor, holding this sign.

Barbara Taylor concerned about the debt, and health care for seniors.  Photo/CD Brown.
She claims that since the president has been in office, for her, things have changed quite a bit.  She told us that because of president's freeze on government employee's pay she has not had a cost of living increase in two years.  Simple items like purchasing food, and basic care have been tough for the Congress Heights native.

Among the other items she dislikes is President's health care plan.   "We have free clinics in DC.  If people don't want to pay for health care, the shouldn't be penalized for not doing so."  She claims the president's current health plan doesn't benefit senior citizens.

Ms. Taylor tell us she has since switched her political affiliation from Democratic to Republican. (She also tells us she is bi-polar).

Dr. Jill Biden To Lead World Cup Final Delegation

On Sunday, July 17th, Dr. Jill Biden will lead a Presidential Delegation to Frankfurt, Germany for the Women’s World Cup Final between the United States of America and Japan.  This is the sixth FIFA Women’s World Cup competition, the world championship for women's national association soccer teams.


The United States continues to be a force in women’s soccer, with a record that includes two Women’s World Cups in 1991 and 1999, and three Olympic Women’s Gold Medals in 1996, 2004 and 2008.  The 2011 Women’s World Cup serves as a great opportunity to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of America’s female athletes at all levels, from girls taking part in their first sporting events to the athletes participating in this year’s World Cup Final, and recognize the importance of the foundation laid by Title IX.

While in Germany, Dr. Biden and the Delegation will meet with the members of the U.S. Women’s National Team and their friends and family to wish them luck and offer support on behalf of the Administration and fans across the Nation.

The Presidential Delegation will include The Honorable Philip D. Murphy, United States Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Department of State and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former president Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hiliary Clinton.

Lilian Thuram, regarded as a living legend of French football, said of the sport of soccer, "Football is similar to life, with all its uncertainties, and that’s why people are so passionate about the game".

The USA defeated Germany in the semi-finals.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prayer For Congress To Reach Agreement on Debt Ceiling

Organizers of the Pray Without Ceasing Political Party met in front of the White House today to pray that Congress and the Obama Administration will come together on issues of debt conciliation and other issues.

"I'm just ashamed of our Congress right now", said founder Rocky Twyman.

Twyman stated that Former First Lady Betty Ford wanted it known that she was for both parties coming together to solve America's issues.

 No other time is that needed than right now.  He called the timing of her death, when the two parties seemed stalled on reaching any agreement after several days of talks and bargaining, prophetic.

"How prophetic it is that she told Cokie Roberts [reporter] in 2007 that she wanted it to be known at her funeral that she was for Democrats and Republicans coming together", Twyman said.   This has been a tumultuous week, with so much confusion between the Democrats and Republicans.



Republicans are calling for no increases in taxes while the Democrats want no reduction and cuts in services like Social Security and aid to dependent families.

President Obama said he was concerned that Social Security checks might not get mailed out next month if something isn't worked out.

Twyman, a senior citizen himself, said he was also concerned about not getting his check next month.

"I might have to come to your house for dinner", Twyman joked with us.  "Or stand in a soup line".

Despite the ongoing efforts to reach an agreement between the parties, the White House remains optimistic.

"The fact is we remain confident that we will get an agreement that reduces spending and that cuts the deficit", said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during yesterday's White House briefing.  Similar remarks were made during today's briefing as Carney stated, "But it is an important recognition of the fact that the United States will not, for the first time in its history, default on its obligations".

Reports say that President Obama, frustrated with yesterday's meeting between the two parties, stormed out of the meeting.  On the allegation, Carney said today: "He did not.  It is preposterous to suggest so". 

Talks resume again later this afternoon.

Others outside the White House today shared their views on the political ramifications if the debt limit issue isn't resolved.

We also spoke with a man from Atlantic City, who was visiting Washington, DC who said they way President Obama handles this current issue, will determine how he votes in the 2012 election.



Watch what President Obama has to say, here.

President Joe Biden: Tax Payers Deserve An Accountable Government

Delivering the Accountable Government that Taxpayers Deserve

‎By Vice President Joe Biden
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Right now in Washington, there is a big debate about how to cut spending and rein in deficits while we continue to create jobs and build the platform we need to succeed in the future. The American people have high standards for how their tax dollars are spent, and the government has to find ways to eliminate expenses that are either wasteful or non-essential.
As part of that effort, our government must work harder to make sure that tax dollars are not wasted on government programs that are ineffective, duplicative or just plain unnecessary. The president and I feel strongly about this, and that is why we launched the Campaign to Cut Waste.
Two years ago, the president asked me to patrol all those who received money as part of the Recovery Act. We wanted to make sure every dollar spent was accounted for and used properly. We used the most sophisticated technology to detect and prevent fraud before it happened, and we placed a strong emphasis on making sure every federal agency — every Cabinet secretary — was focused on it, too.
Through our diligence, we have had an unprecedented low level of fraud, with just a fraction of 1 percent of awards experiencing waste, fraud or abuse.
With the Campaign to Cut Waste, we are taking this approach government-wide, applying it to everything we do. We’re focusing on how we can cut waste, get the most from taxpayer dollars, and reform how the government works so you, the American people, get the best service possible.
First, we’re establishing a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board this summer, modeled after our Recovery Act Transparency Board. This will bring together the nation’s top waste, fraud and abuse watchdogs so that taxpayers can see exactly what their tax dollars are buying and trace the progress of work under all government spending.

Second, the president has asked me to continue to work with our Cabinet secretaries to find every dime of waste in their agencies and make government work more efficiently. One way we’re doing this is through the President’s SAVE Award, where we reach out to federal employees all across the country for their ideas of where we can be smarter and do our jobs more efficiently. Then the American people vote for the best idea.

Over the last two years, federal employees have submitted 56,000 ideas to WhiteHouse.gov/Save-Award and dozens of those have gone straight into the president’s budget. As a result of previous ideas, we ended a practice of returning empty containers by overnight shipping, and moved more of our services off the printing press and into the digital age. Small ideas like these are adding up. Today we are launching the third annual SAVE Award, so there will be thousands more ideas to save taxpayer money.

Those awards are just one part of this campaign, building on the administration’s continuing effort to make government more efficient, effective and accountable to the American people. Over the last two years, we have begun to change how Washington does business, and have saved billions of taxpayer dollars.
We’re changing the way we do federal contracting. Last year, we cut "no-bid" contract spending by $5 billion. Such contracts may be justified when we’re responding to wartime emergencies and natural disasters, but, because of the absence of competition, they result in higher prices, meaning we’re not getting the best bang for the taxpayers’ buck. As a result of these and other reforms, we cut contracting costs last year for the first time in 13 years.

We have cracked down on improper payments, like when the government sends a check to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason. This includes millions of dollars sent to prisoners, and even dead people. Just last year, we avoided nearly $4 billion in improper payments and recaptured three times the amount of improper payments than the previous year.
We also have a plan to cut through red tape that for too long has prevented the government from selling off and consolidating excess government real estate — entire office buildings and warehouses that have been sitting totally vacant, serving no real purpose. The money we save from no longer having to maintain the buildings, plus the proceeds from selling them, will save $15 billion over three years.
As the president and I continue to work with Congress to address the federal deficit, we will need to make many tough decisions. We will need to cut programs and consolidate efforts across government. The president and I — and this entire administration — are deeply committed to making the federal government work for you, saving money where we can, and getting returns on all our investments on behalf of American taxpayers.

This effort involves more than just eliminating fraud and waste; it means instilling a new culture of efficiency, of responsiveness, of accountability. We’re changing the way government does business. We’re working to give the American people the government they expect — and deserve.

Vice President Joe Biden's op-ed titled, “Delivering the Accountable Government that Taxpayers Deserve” was published today in McClatchy Newspapers.

Group Plans Betty Ford and Debt Ceiling Crisis Vigil In Front of White House

Notice: We were contacted by the PWCPP organizer and asked to post this on our website.


THE WHITE HOUSE TRIBUTE TO FORMER FIRST LADY BETTY FORD - July 14, 2011

(From the PWCPP organizers).

Organizers of the Pray Without Ceasing Political Party (PWCPP) say that if Betty and Gerald Ford were still alive, they would have encouraged a more civil debate about the SERIOUS DEBT CEILING CRISIS THAT IS THREATENING TO RUIN OUR AMERICAN ECONOMY. ABC'S COKIE ROBERTS JUST SAID THAT BETTY FORD TOLD HER TO TALK ABOUT THE NEED FOR BIPARTISANSHIP AT HER FUNERAL. THE TIME HAS NEVER BE MORE RIPE FOR SUCH A DISCUSSION.

The country has lost a treasure in the death of Betty Ford. She and her husband came to the White House during one of the most difficult times in our country-when President Nixon resigned. In order to make sure that the true contribution of these great individuals are not lost in the annals of history, the new energized Pray Without Ceasing Political Party (PWCPP) will hold a People's White House Tribute to Mrs. Ford on this Thursday, July 14 from 11 AM to 1 PM in front of The White House, the Lafayette Park side.

Rocky Twyman, the founder of the new party said that "Mrs. Ford's should never be forgotten. She raised the awareness about the serious problems of mental health, breast cancer, drugs and AIDS from the highest level of government. These are problems that impact our society especially in the Washington , DC area where the AIDS epidemic is out of control. "I wish that our congressional leaders would emulate the compromising spirit of Betty and her husband during these critically important debt talks."

A special Walking Book of Condolences will be available for the large number of people from around the country who visit The White House on a daily basis to sign. It will be sent to the family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The signs from PWCPP supporters of Mrs. Ford will proudly read: Mrs. Ford, We Wish You and Gerald Were Around to Help Us Solve the Serious Debt Ceiling Crisis That Threatens To Destroy Our Great Country That You Both Loved, or Thanks, Mrs. Ford for Raising Awareness About Breast Cancer and America's Serious Drug Problem-You and Your Husband Are Gems. May You Rest in Peace.

The 5 to 10 members from PWCPP will form prayer circles with visitors to The White House throughout the 2 hour vigil. We expect to have a breast cancer survivor to provide music throughout the event.

During the time of our vigil, key congressional leaders will be meeting with President Obama about the debt ceiling. PWCPP urges them all to look at the compromising spirit of Gerald and Betty Ford as they move forward. Since the group believes in prayer, they are encouraging Obama to stop talking so much about the issue and hold a White House Bipartisan White House Prayer Summit with Republicans and Tea Party Members. Sixty Minutes proved that prayer has the power to heal in their hopsital emergency room story a few years ago. If it can heal the sick, we firmly believe that it will heal the economy.

WE DARE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO OPEN UP HIS DEBT CEILING MEETINGS WITH REPUBLICANS WITH PRAYER. THE RESULTS WILL BE TREMENDOUS.

Said the group's founder, "We encourage Obama and all Americans concerned about ending this awful debt ceiling crisis to Call Our National Prayer Line of Hope where we are asking God to intervene in this crisis. That phone number is 1-805-309-2350, password is 1001844#. Prayer warriors are also offering prayers for the Ford family on this 24/7 prayer line".

THESE TWO GREAT AMERICANS MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

THE GROUP'S PETITION TO SAVE THE US ECONOMY FROM DISASTER CAN BE FOUND HERE.

The Group's Admonition
Because of the serious economic problems facing America, we the undersigned are urging Obama to turn to God for help in finding a solution. The Pray Without Ceasing Party firmly believes that prayer is the answer to all of America's problems. By signing this petition, you agree to pray for a better US economy at least three times a day. You also agree to call or e-email the Obama White House and encourage them to join in this international vigil of hope for the US economy and tell Congress and President Obama to allocate the savings from the Afghan troop reduction to create jobs for unemployed Americans now. The phone number for the White House is 202-456-1414 or you can go to whitehouse.gov and leave an e-mail message for President Obama.
"When things got rough for leaders in the Old Testament, they fasted and prayed. These two spiritual weapons helped them to survive some serious economic and political crises", writes Twyman.

The group declared June 20-27 as a National Week of Prayer and Fasting.

"ONCE AMERICA TURNS BACK TO GOD, FINANCIAL BLESSINGS WILL RETURN. GOD, PRAYER AND FASTING ARE OUR OUR ONLY HOPE FOR SURVIVAL DURING THESE HARD ECONOMIC TIMES".  



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Obama Administration Launches Strong Cities, Strong Communities to Support Local Development

The Obama Administration has launched Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), a new and customized pilot initiative to strengthen local capacity and spark economic growth in local communities while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently. To accomplish this, federal agencies will provide experienced staff to work directly with six cities: Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA.

These teams will work with local governments, the private sector, and other institutions to leverage federal dollars and support the work being done at the local level to encourage economic growth and community development.   Additionally, communities nationwide will be eligible to compete for comprehensive economic planning assistance through a grant competition designed to spark local innovation. By integrating government investments and partnering with local communities, SC2 channels the resources of the federal government to help empower cities as they develop and implement their vision for economic growth. 

Explains Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes, “Over the past two and a half years, the Obama Administration received feedback from leaders all across the country who described the kind of partnership that would be most useful to them for economic growth. The result is Strong Cities, Strong Communities, an innovative new pilot that will help strengthen local communities while also delivering federal resources and assistance more effectively.”    Added Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, “This is exactly the kind of federal initiative that President Obama pledged to create – one that respects the wisdom of local leadership and helps mayors and other local officials utilize federal resources more effectively.  President Obama has consistently demonstrated his commitment to a robust partnership with America’s cities and counties– Strong Cities, Strong Communities is yet another example of this important partnership.”

Through this pilot, the Obama Administration will focus on three key goals: (1) Improving the way federal government does business, (2) providing assistance and support – working with local communities to find ground up, not top down solutions, and (3) partnering for growth, to include developing critical partnerships with key local and regional stakeholders that encompass not only municipal and state governments, but also new partnerships with the business community, non-profits, anchor institutions, faith-based institutions, and other public, private, and philanthropic leaders.

For more info see:  The SC2 Fellowship Program; SC2 Economic Planning Challenge.

Friday, July 8, 2011

First Lady and White House Officials Love Washington Kastles

First Lady Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia were on hand for last night's Washington Kastles vs. Boston Lobsters WTT tennis contest.

First Ladies enjoying a little Washington Kastles tennis. Photo/CD Brown.
The girls, and mom, cheered on the team headlined by tennis great, Serena Williams.

Last year Williams was to hold a tennis clinic at the White House for a South Lawn Series event, but the event was canceled because of rain.  

There was no rain last evening, however, and the Kastles defeated the Lobsters 25-10.

White House chef, Sam Kass was also on hand to see the Kastles in action.

To see more photos from last night's fun, see our sports page here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leroy Petry to Receive Medal of Honor


President Barack Obama will award Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.  Sergeant First Class Petry will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan in May, 2008.  He will be the second living, active duty service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Petry's military decorations include: two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, National Defense Service Medal, three Army Good Conduct Medals,  Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, to name a few.

Sergeant First Class Petry’s wife, Ashley, and other family members will join the President at the White House on July 12th to commemorate his example of selfless service.

Back to the Drawing Board: No Deal Reached.

After meeting with both sides today at the White House, it's politics as usual and the sides remain divided.

In remarks afterwards President Obama said, "We discussed the various options available to us.  Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired.  What we decided was that staffs, as well as leadership, will be working during the weekend, and that I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that, at that point, the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are and will hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that’s necessary to get a deal done".   

All or Nothing.

"I want to emphasize that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  And the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues.  But, again, I thought that all the leaders here came in a spirit of compromise, in a spirit of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.  Everybody acknowledged that the issue of our debt and our deficit is something that needs to be tackled now.  Everybody acknowledged that in order to do that, Democrats and Republicans are going to be required in each chamber. 

Meeting the Deadline  (Or Not)

"Everybody acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of August 2nd to make sure that America does not default for the first time on its obligations.  And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides, but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by the American people, creating an environment in which we can grow the economy and make sure that more and more people are being put back to work".

See You Again

"So, I want to thank all the leaders.  I thought it was a very constructive meeting.  And I will be seeing them back here on Sunday.  A lot of work will be done between now and then."

Congresswoman Holmes Norton Introduces 'Dance Day'

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a resolution, which has 22 original co-sponsors, designating Saturday, July 30 as National Dance Day to promote physical exercise, dance art forms, and dance education.

So You Think You Can Dance producer and celebrity judge Nigel Lythgoe will announce National Dance Day on tonight’s TV show, including how participants may access the dance routines to learn for the Dance Day flash mobs. Lythgoe, the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, in conjunction with Norton, will host the National Dance Day celebration  at the Sylvan Theatre on the National Mall to encourage physical activity through dance forms of all kinds.

National Dance Day in DC will feature a variety of dance performances by local and regional amateur dance groups, as well as a flash mob that will include participation by those who attend. Norton and Lythgoe intend to make National Dance Day an annual celebration on the Mall and throughout the country on the last Saturday in July.

The National Dance Day resolution demonstrates the need for dance as a form of exercise, when almost one-third of children and teenagers ages 2 to 19, and 68 percent of adults ages 20 and older, are obese or overweight.

“Our National Dance Day on the National Mall will show residents that anybody can dance and have fun with flash mobs,” said Norton. “And all of us will be inspired to get up and move by the dance groups that will perform.”

Last year, National Dance Day attracted several thousand participants to the National Mall, including former U.S. Olympic gymnast and co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Dominique Dawes.

Coincidence?: Obama Administration Officials To Discuss Housing

Either the president is a man of his word, or he was using yesterday's Twitter Town Hall event to plug his next program effort.

Yesterday, the president, when asked what he would do differently about handling the recession America experienced the last two years, answered that he would have tried to prevent more people from losing their home.


Today, the White House Press Office put out a statement that Obama officials will convene a media conference call with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan to announce new housing program improvements to help unemployed homeowners.  The program will require home loan servicers to extend the forbearance period for unemployed homeowners with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loans to 12 months.

Servicers participating in the Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) will also be required to extend the forbearance period for unemployed borrowers to 12 months wherever possible under regulator and investor guidelines. These adjustments will provide more opportunities for unemployed borrowers to stay in their homes while seeking employment.

Also today, a representative from the DC Home Saver Program spoke on WPFW's Metro Watch program informing listeners about a program that will pay past due mortgages for unemployed homeowners.

"There is about twenty billion dollars in this program", the representative said.

The program can assist unemployed homeowners, currently receiving unemployment benefits, with up to six months of delinquency. For more information, log on to www.homesaverdc.org.

See also MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Twitter Town Comes To the White House

President Obama hosts live Twitter Town Hall

Today, President Obama hosted the first ever  live White House Twitter town hall. People from around the globe could sign up at #AskObama with questions on the economy, jobs, and education. 

Top topics discussed in the White House Twitter Town Hall. Photo/CD Brown.
There were two that caught the attention of both the president and us here at Politics. On Point.
One question came in from a 'Will Smith' (no, not that one) that asked the president (1) what mistakes had he made handling the recession, and (2) what would he have done differently?

President Obama replied, "One would have been to explain to the American people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this. I think even I did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn’t realize the magnitude, of the recession until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency where we started realizing that we had lost 4 million jobs before I was even sworn in. And so I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices. And I take responsibility for that, because setting people’s expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well".

The president said there that in the area of housing, the second area where he would have done things differently, he would have ensured that homeowners could keep their homes. During the recession, several thousand families lost their homes, when they lost their jobs.


"We’ve had to revamp our housing program several times to try to help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up. But of all the things we’ve done, that’s probably been the area that’s been most stubborn to us trying to solve the problem".

The president's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan was implemented in 2009 to help homeowners retain their homes.

A twit from an unlikely, but not surprising, source came from House Majority Speaker, John Boehner (the second tweet that caught our attention) who asked the president, "After embarking on a record spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?” 

The president didn't make reference to the 'record spending binge', but did remark that "two million jobs were created over the last 15 months in the private sector".

On how jobs could be created, the president said, "There are a couple of things that we can continue to do.  I actually worked with Speaker Boehner to pass a payroll tax cut in December that put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of almost every single American.  That means they’re spending money.  That means that businesses have customers.  And that has helped improve overall growth".

The president followed up by saying, "We have provided at least 16 tax cuts to small businesses who have needed a lot of help and have been struggling, including, for example, saying zero capital gains taxes on startups, because our attitude is we want to encourage new companies, young entrepreneurs, to get out there, start their business, without feeling like if they’re successful in the first couple of years that somehow they have to pay taxes, as opposed to putting that money back into their business.

President Obama reading an incoming tweet during the White House Twitter Town Hall.   Photo/CD Brown.
The president added that Boehner "needed to work on his typing skills", after the Speaker complained that it was Twitter's fault that he could only type 140 characters.

The president became the first president to tweet live.  His tweet?

"In order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep?" 

That could be a question that will be posed tomorrow as both parties meet at the White House for talks on debt reduction, taxes, and other items that the divided parties must make amends at before the August 2nd deadline, circumventing a government shutdown.

The Republicans want no tax increases (when has this ever happened in presidential history?), while the president wants to ensure that the wealthiest of Americans pay their share.

"I think that for us to say that millionaires and billionaires can go back to the tax rate that existed when Bill Clinton was President, that doesn’t affect middle-class families who are having a tough time and haven’t seen their incomes go up. It does mean that those who are in the top 1-2 percent, who have seen their incomes go up much more quickly than anybody else, pays a little bit more in order to make sure that we can make the basic investments that grow this country. That’s not an unreasonable position to take.  And the vast majority of Americans agree with me on that".

The president said he himself would gladly accept a tax increase if it meant saving Head Start programs for young children, and making sure senior citizens had medical care.

"I don’t want a $200,000 tax break if it means that some senior is going to have to pay $6,000 more for their Medicare that they don’t have, or a bunch of kids are going to be kicked off of Head Start and aren’t going to get the basics that they need in order to succeed in our society.  I don’t think that’s good for me. I don’t think it’s good for the country".

We agree, Mr. President.  We agree.
---


Background on the President’s Twitter Town Hall

The Twitter Town Hall was moderated by Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman.  The audience consisted of 140 guests, including over 30 White House “Tweetup” participants from across the country that follow @whitehouse on Twitter.  Twitter users had been posting questions since last Thursday, and will continue to post questions throughout the Town Hall using the hashtag #AskObama.  As of noon today, there were more than 60,000 tweets about the event using the hashtag #AskObama.

Twitter has partnered with Mass Relevance to curate, visualize and integrate conversations for the event. Mass Relevance data helps make the questions regionally and topically diverse and provides insight into the most popular topic areas.  Algorithms behind Twitter search will identify the Tweets that are most engaged via Retweets, Favorites and Replies.

A team of seasoned Twitter users will also help flag questions from their communities through retweets.
       • Iowa - @willwilkinson.  Blogs about American politics for The Economist.
       • Minnesota - @Kara_McGuire.  Personal finance columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
       • Illinois - @RamanChadha.  Professor at DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.
       • North Carolina - @steven_norton.  Former @dailytarheel editor-in-chief. He will be a senior at UNC and this summer is a business intern at @theobserver.
       • Louisiana - @KimQuillenTP. Business Editor at The Times-Picayune.
       • California - @AssignmentDesk1. Online content producer for North County Times in California.
       • New Hampshire - @DrewHampshire.  Editorial page editor at the NH Union Leader.
       • At Large - @Modeledbehavior.  Karl Smith is an assistant professor of econ at UNC and an economics blogger.

A team from Twitter will use the inputs above to select questions during the event. Additionally, Twitter has selected questions in the hours prior to the event from the pool of questions posed since last Thursday.

Background on Graphics on Monitors

There will be two different visualization displays.  One will show the map of the United States with dots placed and appearing across the country. The dots represent Tweets that have been identified as questions on the economy in several categories, including jobs, education, budget and housing and taxes.  The other visualization will track the relative percentage of questions on different jobs, education, budget and housing and taxes.  Both visualizations will be updated in real-time during the event.
The Twitter Town Hall event was streamed live at whitehouse.gov/live.