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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Obama Remarks on the 6th Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Trying to clean up after a current one, and remembering another, six years later

Six years ago today, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, upending families and ravaging communities – and no one will forget the tragic events of those days.  But what’s required of us is more than remembrance – what’s required of us is our continued efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast fully recover, and to make sure that our response to such disasters is the best it can possibly be.

Katrina video, Trouble The Water, by two victims wins scores of awards.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen what Americans are capable of when tested.  We’ve seen the grit and determination of people on the Gulf Coast coming together to rebuild their communities, brick by brick, block by block.  At the same time, we’ve made sure the federal government is doing its part to help.  We’ve cut through red tape to free up funding for recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.  We’ve taken steps to help school systems get children the tools and resources they need for a proper education.  We’ve broken through gridlock on behalf of tens of thousands of displaced families, making sure they have long-term housing solutions. And we’ll keep at it until these communities have come back stronger than before.
When it comes to disaster response, we’ve worked very seriously to enhance our preparedness efforts so that Americans are ready before disaster strikes, and to strengthen our recovery capabilities so that we’re more resilient after disaster strikes.  Over the last week, we have experienced the power of another storm, Hurricane Irene.  Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked closely with our state and local partners to preposition supplies and teams of first responders, and support their response efforts. Those response efforts are ongoing and we will continue that partnership, responding as quickly and effectively as possible, for as long as necessary, until the affected communities are back on their feet.

Today is a reminder of not just the immediate devastation that can be caused by these storms, but the long term needs of communities impacted by disasters – whether in Mississippi or Alabama, Tennessee or Missouri, North Dakota, or the east coast states impacted by Hurricane Irene. This Administration will stand by those communities until the work is done.

Our Thoughts

The previous administration, under George Bush, took tremendous heat for his lack of effort in coordinating relief efforts for those in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Many spoke out about his lackluster performance, including rap icon Kanye West.

The Obama administration should be credited for having a 'boots on the ground' approach for making sure that FEMA operations were ready to assist victims along the East Coast most affected by this weekend's Hurricane Irene.
He should also be formally credited with infiltrating the bin Laden compound and ending the bin Laden reign on US terror that contributed to the 9/11 attacks ten years ago, killing thousands.

President Obama has done in his first two years in office what President Bush failed to, or couldn't do, during his two-termed, eight year reign.

That should duly be noted, and we're making note of it here.

Thank you President Obama.

p.s.  We're still waiting on your efforts to rebuild Haiti to take some type of form, however.

Friday, August 26, 2011

As Hurricane Irene Closes In On The East Coast FEMA Releases Safety Warnings


FEMA and Federal Partners Moving Teams and Commodities Throughout East Coast to Support States and Cities

As Hurricane Irene moves closer to the East Coast of the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working closely with states up and down the East Coast to ensure they have the resources they need to prepare.  FEMA strongly encourages all East Coast residents to take steps now to prepare for severe weather in the coming days and urging them to listen to and follow the instructions of their state, tribal and local officials. 

The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the North Carolina Coast from North of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border.  A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the area within 48 hours. 

Under the direction of President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family, coordinating through FEMA, is leaning forward to support our state and territorial partners as Hurricane Irene continues to threaten the east coast, having already impacted Puerto Rico.  FEMA through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston are in constant contact and coordination with state, tribal and local officials that could be impacted or have already been impacted by this storm, to ensure they have the support they need to respond. FEMA's regional response coordination centers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta are operating at heightened levels to ensure federal coordination and support to states that may be affected by severe weather.

Since the federal government first began monitoring the storm, FEMA officials have been regularly updating President Obama and Secretary Napolitano on the federal efforts to support storm response and preparation needs. Earlier today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Secretary Napolitano briefed President Obama on the latest preparation efforts with states and major metropolitan areas, including the pre-positioning of staff, teams and commodities across the entire East Coast.
"All residents along the East Coast should be paying close attention to this storm and listening to their state and local officials for key updates and information, including evacuation orders," said Administrator Fugate.  "Now is the time to prepare your families, homes or businesses, so if you haven't already, visit or"

In advance preparation for the storm, FEMA National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are on the ground in North Carolina and Virginia and arriving in South Carolina, today in anticipation of further deployment to potential impact areas along the east coast of the U.S.  In addition, Regional IMATs are being deployed to Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery efforts.

FEMA has also placed liaison offers in state emergency operations centers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and with New York City emergency management officials.  Liaisons are also deploying to New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.  These liaisons will coordinate with the state for any support needed and requested.

At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.  In Atlanta, for instance, FEMA has more than two million liters of water, more than 1.3 million meals, and more than 16,000 cots and 56,000 blankets.  These resources may be moved to Incident Support Bases (ISBs), which are distribution centers located closer to the impacted areas, allowing FEMA and federal partners to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather, allowing supplies to quickly be moved throughout nearby affected states, should they be needed and requested.  Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for example, has been designated as an ISB to support federal operations, and ISBs are being set up in Massachusetts and New Jersey, to support states within the regions. 

These commodities are meant to supplement state resources if needed, but it's critical that individuals and families build their own emergency supply kits so that in the event of a disaster, state and local resources can be focused on the most vulnerable citizens.

In Puerto Rico, federal personnel are joining commonwealth and local officials to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments, as weather permits. These damage assessments are the first step in helping a governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the commonwealth is capable of handling, and if additional federal assistance is needed.  This past weekend, FEMA proactively deployed regional IMATs to the Caribbean to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery, and on August 22, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, making federal funding available to supplement commonwealth and local response efforts in the area.

FEMA is coordinating across the federal government to ensure territorial and state officials have the support they need as they respond to or prepare for Irene. New actions as of today include, but are not limited to:

NOAA's G-IV research jet is scheduled to fly surveillance missions today and tomorrow. The G-IV flies at high altitude (40,000'+) to measure the steering currents surrounding the hurricane, improving forecasts of the hurricane's track.  Additionally, the agency's WP-3D is also scheduled to fly multiple research missions into Hurricane Irene today. Flying through the eye of the storm at low altitudes, this aircraft collects research-mission data critical for computer models that predict hurricane intensity and landfall.

·         The Department of the Interior units affected by the storm, primarily national parks and fish and wildlife refuges along the coast, are taking all appropriate actions and informing the public through local announcements as actions are taken.  In the Washington, DC area, the National Park Service (NPS) is coordinating closely with FEMA other federal partners to monitor the storm.
·         The U.S. Coast Guard will identify and track all vessels in port, establish contact with emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels, and work closely with port and industry officials to minimize damage in the event the storm impacts key shipping ports and facilities.
·         The U.S. Department of Agriculture is releasing information on food safety tips in advance of severe weather.  Visit for more information.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun preparing its facilities along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in advance of potential landfall of Hurricane Irene.  Although all VA facilities remain under normal operations at this time, the Hampton, Va. VA Medical Center will be conducting a partial evacuation of its facility, sending some patients requiring advanced care to the Richmond and Martinsburg, Va. VA Medical Centers.
The American Red Cross is mobilizing disaster relief workers and relief supplies for an East Coast response.  The Red Cross is opening shelters in North Carolina as local evacuation orders begin to go into effect. Additional shelters in North Carolina and other states are being prepared along the east coast. More information is available about open Red Cross shelters at

FEMA encourages everyone, regardless of whether they live in a hurricane-prone area, to take steps to ensure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for a possible emergency.  As a reminder, the month of September is designated as National Preparedness Month (NPM), an opportunity to encourage Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. Individuals and families can learn about events and activities, and groups can register to become a NPM Coalition Member by visiting  NPM is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and The Ad Council.

FEMA's ongoing support of disaster response activities in Puerto Rico and its proactive support for East Coast storm preparations, does not diminish its focus from critical federal disaster response and recovery operations that continue, across the nation, including flooding in the Midwest and the ongoing recovery from the southeastern tornadoes.  Every disaster is a reminder that they can happen anytime, anywhere.  Now is the time to prepare--visit or for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and  Also, follow FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trump To President Obama: You Take Too Many Vacations

Donald Trump, the real estate mogul, and Presidential bully thought to be running for president in 2012, tweeted that President Obama, planning to vacation on Martha's Vineyard later this month, takes too many vacations.

According to his Twitter account, Trump tweeted:  "He takes more vacations than any human being I've ever seen".

Trump also tweeted on Aug 15
Donald J. Trump

played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10 day vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Nice work ethic.

He obviously forgot about President Bush's record.   Thanks to the Internet, we can't.

President Bush has spent all or part of 166 days during his presidency at his Crawford, Texas, ranch or en route. Add the time spent at or en route to the presidential retreat of Camp David and at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and Bush has taken 250 days off as of August 2003. That's 27% of his presidency spent on vacation. Although to be fair, much of this time is classified as a "working vacation."

We also found that his father, George H. Walker Bush, took even more vacations, taking a whopping 543 vacation days at Camp David and in Kennebunkport.  (Source).
Our previous president sets the record for having taken the most vacations, and we all know the economy wasn't doing that great while he was in office, either.

Trump also called presidential candidate, Rick Perry, "impressive". This after Perry made a racially charged comment referring to President Obama as "the black cloud hanging over Washington".

Note:   We wrote this article last week, but somehow it just got posted today..... since the staff was all on vacation.

First Lady Has Food Retailers On Her Side. One Retailer, However, Not So Welcomed.

It's More Complicated Than Just Bringing Healthy Food To Communities

Last month the First Lady included more retailers in her arsenal to help families afford, and have access to, healthier food.

Several retailers, along with Walmart, made commitments to lower their food prices, improve food quality, and add more fruits and vegetables to their retail chains in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! model designed to rid childhood obesity within a generation.
The First Lady is continuing her initiative to ensure that families have access to nutritious foods -- from birth to adulthood.

“The commitments we’re announcing have the potential to be a game-changer for kids and communities all across this country,” said the First Lady. “We can give people all the information and advice in the world about healthy eating and exercise, but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals because their only options for groceries are the gas station or the local minimart, then all that is just talk”.

Mrs. Obama has been leading a nationwide effort to combat childhood obesity so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. The Let’s Move! Campaign is a comprehensive, collaborative, and community-oriented initiative that has sought to engage every sector of society to tackle head-on the many different factors that lead to childhood obesity. Collaborating with local grocery store chains will help ensure that parents will have a fresh food retailer right in their community.

It is her inclusion of Walmart that has some up in arms, providing a divisive reaction throughout the city.

President of the Metropolitan Council of the AFL-CIO, Josh Williams, doesn’t think the Walmart brand fits into the equation.

Williams says that while The First Lady’s efforts to provide communities access to healthy foods ”is commendable”, Williams said his concern is that Walmart, the nation’s largest retail chain, should be excluded because, “They are the largest contributor to poverty”.

Walmart has been criticized for not paying sustainable wages, providing adequate healthcare and employee pensions. A report says the company’s CEO makes “more in a day than employees make all year”. 

The company was also in the news for not promoting its minority and female employees to upper level management positions, and for its treatment of minority customers. The movie made about Walmart titled The High Cost of Low Price, mostly about the company’s policies and practices speaks to these issues directly.

But not all Walmart employees share those sentiments.

One Walmart employee we spoke to (who wanted to remain anonymous) said that Walmart pays her enough to take care of her family.

"I'm the only one working in a family of five, and my (Walmart) paycheck helps me feed my family and pay the bills".

The company has plans to open stores in the Southeast quadrant of the District of Columbia in Wards 4, 5, 6, and 7. Southeast D.C. has the highest concentration of African American residents in the city, many below the poverty line.

Community organizations like Respect DC believe 'retail without respect is a bad bargain for DC'.

"We are working to educate community members about Walmart’s checkered track record of paying poverty-level wages1, forcing competitors to close, causing a net loss of jobs2, breaking its promises, and multiple lawsuits alleging that the company discriminates against female employees and engages in wage theft, including the the largest sex discrimination class action in U.S history3", states the organization's website.

Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart said on the opening, “By opening stores where customers need them most, Walmart will help build healthier families and stronger communities. We believe every single person should have access to an abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price. First Lady Michelle Obama is helping millions of Americans lead healthier lives, and Walmart is proud to partner with her in this work. The First Lady’s leadership on products, prices and access to healthier food has helped sharpen our focus on bringing affordable groceries to underserved urban and rural areas.”

Walmart has committed to opening or expanding 275 to 300 stores across the country.

Other stores committed to joining the First Lady’s efforts include SUPERVALU (committing to building 250 new stores), Walgreens (committing to expanding their food offering to include whole fruits and vegetables, and other healthy options in approximately 1,000 stores), California FreshWorks Fund ( the company secured $200 million to promote healthy food retailing in California), Brown’s SuperStore (committing to building one new supermarket in Philadelphia and expanding one existing store in Chelthenham, PA), Calhouns Grocery (committing to build 10 new stores in Alabama and Tennessee), and Klein’s Family Markets (committed to opening one new store in Baltimore, MD).

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President identified access to healthy, affordable food as key to solving childhood obesity.

Distractions aside, the First Lady's anti-obesity initative has far reaching affects, even into the religious realm.  Seventh Day Adventist have adopted September 25, 2011 as Let's Move! Day, encouraging every conference, church, school, university and health care organization in the North American Division to form Adventists InStep for Life teams to coordinate activities that inspire healthy eating and physical activity and further awareness of childhood obesity in their community.

Learn more at


AARP today announced the release of a thought provoking video that captures the true spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy. The 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King's historic I Have a Dream speech will be celebrated Aug. 28 at the official dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. This is the first memorial on the National Mall to honor a man of color and the only one that does not commemorate a president or a war. 

Reflecting on this historic moment, AARP's My Generation created a stirring video tribute titled "The Living Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr." that profiles several contemporary leaders who reflect on the ways Dr. King's work changed their lives.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell (Ret.) acclaimed journalist Colman McCarthy, Freedom Rider Rev. Perry A. Smith, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

and a host of others share their thoughts and observations on how Dr. King's living legacy continues to shape our world today-including the recent nonviolent revolution in Egypt. 

"It is important to capture the extraordinary life of Dr. King, and to show how his steadfast pursuit for civil and human rights remains relevant today," said A. Barry Rand, CEO, AARP. "We believe this video will inspire Americans, particularly those who remember how he fought for peace among all people, so they can share his messages of justice, democracy and hope with today's generation."

Paying homage to Dr. King and to the nonviolent campaigns to secure civil rights for which he stood, the video includes momentous footage from the Civil Rights Movement, and commentary from representatives of the Asian American Justice Center, United Farm Workers and American Islamic Congress.

The special segment will air live at the pre-dedication ceremony to an expected audience of 400,000, and also it can be seen nationally on public television stations. Go to or call your local PBS station for times. In addition to developing the video, AARP donated $1 million to the construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

To learn more about the many ways AARP is addressing topics of interest to the 50+ African American community, go to

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libyan Rebels Close In, President Obama Makes Statement

CNN is reporting that the 42-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi appeared on the verge of collapse early Monday, with rebel supporters making it to the same Tripoli square where regime loyalists had congregated for months.
But in a possible indication that the fight is not over, celebrations in Tripoli's Green Square gave way to tension Monday morning after rebels told CNN that they'd heard Gadhafi army forces were heading their way. CNN could not confirm any movement of Gadhafi forces.
A large fire, meanwhile, could be seen rising over the capital around 4 a.m. Monday from about 10 miles (16 kilometers outside the city).
The uncertainty came hours after news broke that two of Moammar Gadhafi's sons -- Saif al-Islam and Saadi -- had been arrested by opposition forces. Jumma Ibrahim, a rebel spokesman based in Libya's western mountain region, said both were captured in Tripoli.

Being kept abreast of the latest Syrian strife by his John Brennan while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard.   He made the following statement just moments ago:

"Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.
The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC  should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.

The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy".

Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown. But he delivered a series of angry and defiant audio messages broadcast on state television. He was not shown in the messages. In the latest one, he acknowledged that the opposition forces were moving into Tripoli and warned the city would be turned into another Baghdad.

"How come you allow Tripoli the capital, to be under occupation once again?" he said. "The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli."

He called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and "purify it" from "the rats."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama Gets AARP Cover, Ahead of President Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama graces Sept/Oct, 2011 AARP magazine.
As President Obama was on the brink of turning 50 eariler this month, he joked that he would soon be getting his AARP card. 

"I’ve said that means testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself, I’m going to be turning 50 in a week -- so, I’m starting to think a little bit more about Medicare eligibility.   Yes, I’m going to get my AARP card soon -- and the discounts, the president said during a press conference in the East Room of the White House where he was asked questions about cutting the deficit and whether social services would be affected as a result.

How ironic, however, that instead of the president gracing the September/October, 2011 issue of AARP/The Magazine, after having turned 50, and holding a tele-town hall on health care reform at AARP headquarters in July, we find First Lady Michelle Obama instead.

Both The First Lady, and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden were interviewed by AARP's Marilyn Milloy (daughter of Washington Post veteran journalist, Courtland Milloy) on a number of topics ranging from the capture of Osama bin Laden, working with military families, and their individual roles as First and Second Lady of the United States.

On bin Laden, the First Lady, when asked if they she about the mission to capture bin Laden said, "I knew something was happening, but when it gets down to that level of secrecy,, there's just a small number of people who know anything."

Dr. Biden admitted she "didn't have a clue".  Biden, a professor at Northen Virginia Community College, said she was "at home watching TV and grading papers".

The two were also asked about their efforts to support U.S. military families, and their recent effort - appropriately titled - called Joining Forces.

As we approach the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the president has asked that Americans commerate the day by doing volunteer work, especially helping out military families.

Said First Lady Michelle, " don't have to wait until 9/11 [to volunteer].  We've got military families who are in need today, and our Joining Forces call to action is a way to use that wonderful time and energy and direct it toward some of those families".

The interview took place on July 25, 2011, but you can find out more about what the dynamic pair revealed online at

We should also mention, and to be fair to the president, AARP did interview him on his 50th birthday.  But nothing beats getting the cover.


The President and First Lady continue to vacation at Martha's Vineyard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Follow The President's Trips...In One Fell Swoop

President Obama and his staff are no strangers when it comes using social media. After all, his election was won with it.

Getting back to those roots, the president has joined FourSquare where viewers can see places he's visited, what he did there, historical information about the stop, and more.

Including his Midwest bus tour.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Vice President Joe Biden has departed for Beijing, China, the first stop on a nine-day trip to China, Mongolia, and Japan. In each country, the Vice President will meet with key leaders to discuss the full range of bilateral, regional, and international issues.  The Vice President is visiting China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping – the first of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during his state visit to Washington earlier this year.  While in Beijing, the Vice President will meet with Vice President Xi and other Chinese leaders, including President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao. 

The Vice President will also visit the city of Chengdu, in China’s Southwest.  On Sunday, August 21st at 10:30 AM LOCAL TIME/Saturday, August 20th at 10:30 PM ET, the Vice President will deliver a speech on U.S.-China relations at Sichuan University.

In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the Vice President will underscore our support for Mongolia’s two decades of democratic development and our growing economic ties.  In Japan, the Vice President will express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency.  The Vice President will thank U.S. civilian and military personnel for their assistance in responding to the disaster, as well as highlight Japan’s resilience during the recovery and rebuilding process. 

At the conclusion of his visit to Asia, the Vice President will stop in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he will deliver remarks at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Verizon Employees Strike Against Company's Greed

Promising politician lends support.

Several employees of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest communications companies, marched for the third straight day outside the Fairfax, Virginia location, many wearing signs that read ‘CWA (Communications Workers of America) Strike Against Verizon’s Corporate Greed’.

Verizon employees strike for workers' rights in front of Fairfax, Virginia's office building.   Jack Dobbyn (far right/blue shirt), Virginia’s Democratic nominee for the 42nd House District  lends his support for the workers.  Photo/CD Brown
Greed that employees like Frank Helmes, a 41 year veteran Verizon employee, claim cut to heart of their employee benefits.  Benefits they he and other employees have fought for years to maintain.
 “One of the main things they’re trying to take away is the medical benefits we have now”, Helmes said. 
“They want to strip away the PPOs, the Managed Care Networks and put us into some other health care plan they say will give us the equivalent, or close to the equivalent plan that we already have”.

We caught up with an employee who share why he's striking against Verizon's corporate greed.

Under the new proposed plan employees would have to pay out-of-pocket between $1500 to $3,000 dollars before the company paid a dime.
According to Helmes, spokesperson for striking Fairfax group of employees, Verizon also plans to freeze current employee pensions after December 31st, 2011.  Newly hired employees won’t have a pension at all.
“They’ll have to get a 401K, buy some gold, or whatever they got to do”, said Helmes.  “They’re on their own.”
Among other proposed benefit cuts are the number of paid holidays.   Employees currently receive nine holidays, which could soon be cut to six, or seven.  Employees may also see their sick day and FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) benefits dwindle to just five days per year.  Anything thereafter employees would be asked to use vacation days.
Also at risk is employee overtime hours. Employees currently have an agreement that supports overtime pay for 39 hours.  This, too, could change.
All this seems unfair in light of the fact that Verizon made more than $6b in profits last year.
“As our signs say, we’re on strike against Verizon and their corporate greed.  They don’t give us the benefits we got because they’re kind and nice, and they love us.  The only reason we got the benefits we’ve got is because we fought for them for years, and years, and years", Helmes said.
Finding Support In Unlikely Places
President Obama isn’t the only politician fighting for the rights of American workers.
Among those supporting the plight of Verizon’s striking Fairfax, VA employees is Jack Dobbyn, Virginia’s Democratic nominee for the 42nd House District, who said he wanted to stand with the workers, and the CWA.
“It’s important to support people that are banning together for fairness”, Dobbyn said.
Dobbyn said in light of the success Verizon has made the last two quarters the concessions they’re asking their employees to make are unreasonable.
Sounding a bit Obama like, Dobbyn said “I think it’s unreasonable to ask working people to make a sacrifice when people in charge of the company aren’t willing to make one themselves.”
Even though he’s campaigning for election, Dobbyn said he plans to continue to support the strikers whenever he has the opportunity.
“I can come every two or three days, which is what I plan to do.”
Dobbyn, who grew up in Fairfax County, currently serves as the President of the Fairfax County Young Democrats.  (See video)
Verizon’s Top Brass Not Happy About Strikes
Reports that Verizon managers have harassed and even tried to run over strikers have been surfacing around the country.
When asked if the Fairfax strikers have experienced this treatment, Helmes replied, “We had a problem this morning where somebody came in, almost hit one of our strikers.  I informed the gentleman as he drove by that if he continued to behave like that he’s probably going to be going to jail”.
A picture of the driver was taken and the incident reported to CWA headquarters.
“We just want them to be patient with us, be considerate, be professional.  We’ll extend the same courtesies to them. 
A rally is being held today at 5pm at the Ashburn, Virginia complex.  Expected to attend are several politicians, head spokesperson for the CWA, and a spokesperson from the AFL-CIO.

Video:  Verizon employee says he's "eager to get back to work".  
Verizon's 2011 Bargaining Facts.
A word of note
Our call into Verizon on the current strike was not immediately returned.

A Three Day Tour. A Three Day (Economic) Tour

Is the president shadowing Baachman, other GOP presidential hopefuls?

President Obama embarks today on a three-day bus tour to connect with Americans on jobs and the economy.
President Obama begins his first leg of a three-day tour across the Midwest hoping he'll find ways from the American people to "grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation".   The president expects to speak to small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials.

The first stop, on Monday (today) will be in Minnesota where the President will host a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minnesota at Lower Hannah's Bend Park.

Coincidence?:  Minnesota is also home to GOP front runner, Michelle Baachman.

Oddly enough the president's first day will also include Iowa (he knows how important those Iowa caucuses are) where he will host a town hall event in Decorah at Seed Savers Exchange. On Tuesday, August 16th, he will travel to Peosta, IA for a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College.

Coincidence?:  Iowa (Ames) is where 2012 Republican candidate Michelle Baachman won in the state's Republican Party Straw Poll.

Said Baachman on her win: "This is the first step toward taking the White House in 2012, and you have sent a message that Barack Obama will be a one-term president. This is a wonderful down payment on taking the country back, and it started in Iowa".  (Expect more candidates to use more Obama catch phrases during the 2012 campaign, like 'down payment', and 'kick the can down the road').

The economic bus tour will also feature events in Atkinson and Alpha, Illinois on Wednesday, August 17 before the President returns to Washington.

Some are wondering why the bus tour.  Why not just continue hearing from the American people via emails, Twitter, FaceBook, and regular ole snail mail?

We get an answer from White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney:

"Well, I think it creates an opportunity to be, if you will, closer to the ground, and more connected with folks in that part of the country.  There’s -- as you know, it also allows for easier travel, in some ways, because of the requirements that flying Air Force One in and out of certain airports in certain parts of the country are not always that easy.  So it creates a lot of flexibility.  But mostly I think it’s an opportunity for him to meet with folks in those communities, which I will announce later, and he very much looks forward to it".

At one DNC fundraiser event in New York last week, the president commented on what he experiences from the American people 'outside of Washington'.

“What was remarkable was to see outside of Washington, the enthusiasm, the energy, the hopefulness, the decency, of the American people".

The president can only hope the 'decency' he sees from 'the American people' will continue, as more Republican candidates announce their presidential aspirations, running on a ticket aimed at getting President Obama "out of Washington", and the White House.


The funny side of POP.  
We couldn't help but liken the president's 3-day bus tour to these lyrics. Sing along, if you'd like.

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, That started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailin' man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for a three hour (day) tour. A three hour (day) tour.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Presidents Cancels Event To Return Slain U.S. Soldiers

Canceling his scheduled event at US Interstate Moving Services for today, President Obama instead flew to Dover Air Force Base to attend the return of the bodies of 30 U.S. servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday.

President Obama arriving at Dover Air Force Base. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
The dead servicemen included 22 Navy SEALs. Most were members of SEAL Team 6, the counterterrorism unit that carried out the mission to find Osama BinLaden.

None of those involved in the Bin Laden raid were among the dead Saturday, U.S. officials have said. The remains were returned to Dover in "unidentified" stautus until they are positively indentified by the Armed Forces Mortuary Affairs Office.

The Chinook helicopter crashed in the remote Tangi valley of Eastern Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said it was probably caused by insurgents firing a rocket-propelled grenade. The president had not announced publicly that he would visit Dover.

As mentioned, the president canceled his Springfield, VA appearance but opted instead to meet at the White House with industry leaders to talk about new fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles.  In attendance was Rich Freeland, Vice President and President, Engine Business, Cummins; Dan Ustian, CEO, Navistar; Dennis Slagle, CEO, North American Trucks, Mack and Volvo; Tom Stover, Chief Technology, Vehicle Group, Eaton Corp; Governor Bill Graves; President and CEO, American Trucking Association, Martin Daum; and CEO, Daimler Trucks
Jed Mandel, President, Engine Manufacturers Association.

What About The Poor?

Poor people: the U.S. demographic rarely mentioned by U.S. presidents or leaders,  of past or present.

War on Poverty Tour to hit DC. Visit
Even in our Nation's Capitol and surrounding Maryland and Virginia areas, poor people exist. These are people (some through no fault of their own) who have lost jobs, become unemployed, lost their homes and families, that now live in cars and on the streets of our cities and towns.

What about the poor, Mr. President?  Have you forgotten about them?

Two self-proclaimed proponents, (slash critics) of President Obama are making sure U.S. leaders don't forget this demographic of American People.

Harvard professor Dr. Cornell West, and public talk radio host Tavis Smiley are touring the countryside talking with, and listening to, the stories of this nation's poor with their Poverty Tour: A Call To Conscience.

While politicians express deep concern for the so-called middle class, West and Smiley point out that because of current economic conditions, the middle class have now become the poor class.

The president is scheduled to give remarks at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on August 28, 2011.  

Said Martin Luther King, Jr.  “I choose to identify with the underprivileged, I choose to identify with the poor, I choose to give my life for the hungry, I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity. . .This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way. If it means sacrificing, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way, because I heard a voice saying “DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS."

The Poverty Tour came about as a response to the passing of the recent deficit deal that Smiley, and others claim doesn’t extend unemployment benefits, doesn’t close a single corporate loophole, doesn’t raise one cent in terms of new revenue in terms of taxes on the rich or the lucky, yet allows corporate America to get away scot-free again—the banks, Wall Street getting away again—all at the expense of everyday people.

The tour makes its stop in Washington, DC on Wednesday. 

Wonder where the tour was in 2007, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and before that?   Are poor people just now coming onto the scene?

Radio show host has words for West, Smiley.

No Child Left Behind: Revamped and Revved Up

Yesterday White House Policy Director Melonie Barnes and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met with reporters in the White House briefing room to discuss measures to improve on the Bush era No Child Left Behind act (NCLB).

The act required all government-run schools, receiving federal funding, to administer a state-wide standardized test each year to all students in an effort to determine whether teachers are providing students with the best possible education practices.   Additionally, the act required states to provide "highly qualified" teachers to all students.

Just in time for the new school year, the Obama administration wants to give more flexibility to states who are looking for greater relief under the No Child Left Behind law.

Said Barnes, "So, instead of being able to focus on flexibility that’s necessary in our classrooms, instead of focusing on turning around our lowest-performing schools that are putting out about 7,000 dropouts every single day, instead of being able to focus on innovation and support for teachers and for principals and making sure that they’re effective and that they have the supports that they need, we have labels that don’t accurately reflect what’s happening in our schools".

Can't see the video?  Click here.

Barnes explained that far too many schools except the status quo of operating with low expectations from students and teachers, producing thousands of school dropouts each year and a "punitive system that does not allow for reform".  She called the system "a cookie-cutter" one "that is not allowing our students to move forward".

Said Duncan on NCLB, "We now have a law that impedes that progress, that impedes that reform, that stands in the way of the courage we’re seeing around the country.  The law, No Child Left Behind, as it currently stands, is four years overdue for being rewritten.  It is far too punitive.  It is far too prescriptive.  It led to a dumbing down of standards.  It led to a narrowing of the curriculum.  At a time when we have to get better, faster education than we ever have, we can’t afford to have the law of the land be one that has so many perverse incentives or disincentives to the kind of progress we want to see".

Barnes and Duncan are revamping the current NCLB act to move the nation's education system forward, with or without the support of Congress.

Explains Barnes: "For four years, as you know, Congress has struggled to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and to fix No Child Left Behind. Just since we came into office in the past two years, the President has frequently and consistently called for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. In the State of the Union, just this past January, he asked Congress to send him a bill. In March of this year, he asked Congress to send him a bill to his desk before the new school year began. And in June, Secretary Duncan penned an op-ed asking Congress to act and saying that if Congress couldn’t move forward, we would have to find better ways to provide states the flexibility that they need".

On why Congress hasn't yet acted, Duncan said it wasn't his job "to psychoanalyze Congress; it’s my job to move forward the children".

"We would have loved to see Congress act", said Duncan.  "No question that it should have happened.  We hope it happens at some point down the road, but it hasn’t and we can’t afford to wait".

just a knotch, or just a notch.

On revamping the old initiative Barnes said that the standards for schools and teachers will be high and encourages school systems in every state to participate.

"Be sure that, when we are doing this, we are asking that every state apply.  Every state can apply; every state can, in fact, receive this kind of flexibility.  But the standards will be high.  The bar will be high.  States are going to have to embrace the kind of reform that we believe is necessary to move our education system forward". 

The end result hoped for? Making sure that every child is ready for college and career, and to be able to compete in a global economy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Am Michelle Obama: The First Lady

I probably shouldn't write this, but many say I favor First Lady Michelle Obama (just a tad).  I can't tell you how many times, no matter where I am, I've received that remark.  (I should really call it a compliment to be compared to someone as fabulous as our First Lady).

Now, thanks to Margina Graham Parker, author of the children's book, 'I Am Michelle Obama: The  First Lady', girls around the world can see themselves being just like our First Lady.

The cover of the book depicts a young, African American girl looking in the mirror at herself and seeing First Lady Michelle Obama.

In an interview with Parker explained how the book came to be.

“This book started out as a poem", said Parker. "I was on my way to work one when the words hit me. I was so overwhelmed I had to pull the car over to write the words down. Each stanza is a glimpse of the accomplished life of our First Lady, presented in a rhythm that keeps the attention of a child.” Margina adds, “First Lady Michelle Obama has broken the mold of doing it all – she started with humble beginnings; excelled in her education; and shines as a wife, mother, and career woman. She has done it all well. I had to tell that part of her story.”

The book I Am Michelle Obama: The First Lady is available at Tumain Publishing, on, and in bookstores across the country. Buyers can look for special promotional pages now through August, 2011 where they can buy 1 copy, get a second copy FREE.

Thank you Mrs. Parker for such an inspiring book.  I'm grabbing my copy soon!

About The Author
Margina Graham Parker is a native of Oak Park, Michigan, but stakes her claim as a "southern girl" after spending 17 years in the deep south. A graduate of Jackson State University, she is the author of the children’s book, “I Am Michelle Obama: The First Lady”. She currently resides in Redford, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit and is a middle school English teacher with National Heritage Academies. The mother of three is a contributing blogger to PULL Magazine, a multi-media publication and is also the managing editor and columnist of another privately owned publication. This is her first children’s book.

Look for Mrs. Obama's own book about one of the things she loves most, gardening at the White House, due out in April 2012.

Also worthy of noting:  The publisher of the First Lady's book also has a book out, inspired by President Obama, titled I Can Be Anything I Want To Be. Look for it on the publisher's web site.

Dr. Jill Biden Arrives In Kenya!

Note: See update below - -

U.S. To Assist Famined Somalia
Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in Kenya with Senator Bill Frist, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz, and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith. Dr. Biden’s trip will underscore the United States’ commitment to working with the governments and people of the region, and the international community, to assist the people of the Horn of Africa during this urgent time of need, and to investing in long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the region.  Amid the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, the United Nations has declared that famine now affects five regions in Somalia and predicts that famine could soon expand throughout southern Somalia. 

Thousands of Somalis are fleeing the famine and seeking refuge in Kenya and Ethiopia, which are also affected by the drought.  According to the United Nations, more than 12.4 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.  Dr. Biden will visit the Dadaab Refugee Complex, which is receiving thousands of Somali refugees, to draw the world’s attention to the crisis and pledge U.S. support for relief operations.

Dr. Biden will also highlight the support of the United States for development efforts across the region, and will visit the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi.  During this visit, Dr. Biden will meet with government of Kenya officials, including Minister of Agriculture Hon. Dr. Sally J. Kosgei, and highlight the Obama-Biden Administration’s Feed the Future program, which is investing in country-led strategies designed to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity around the world.  Because emergency assistance alone cannot solve the underlying food insecurity in the region, institutions like KARI and Feed the Future are also critical at this time.

While in the region, Dr. Biden will also meet with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to highlight the ongoing partnership between our countries and to discuss how the United States can work with international partners on the best response to this crisis.

The United Nations declared famine in parts of Somalia, a classification defined by mortality rates greater than two people per 10,000 per day across a specific region.

Somali famine called 'worse humanitarian castostrophe ever'. Somalia needs our help.

Somali militants, even with help from organizations like Care and others willing to provide famine relief and assistance to the Somalia region, continues to block those efforts.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday called on Somalia's al-Shabaab militants to allow food aid to move "unfettered" into famine-hit areas so that as many lives as possible can be saved.

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Somalia Needs Your Help 
 Action Against Hunger | ACF-USA.
More stories. More ways to help. Click here.


Today, on behalf of the U.S. Government and the American people, the President Obama has approved an additional $105 million for urgent humanitarian relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, including funds from his Emergency Relief and Migration Assistance Fund. This year alone, the U.S. has provided approximately $565 million in humanitarian assistance. U.S. assistance will continue funding the urgently needed food, health, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to those who desperately need help.

(Statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney, today)


August 11, 2001 Update --- Jill Biden's USA Today Opt Ed

Sunday, August 7, 2011

US Embassy Bombings: Remembering Those Who Lost Their Lives

As the U.S. gets ready to recognize the horrendous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many today are remembering the August 7, 1998 al-Qaida-led terror attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

In Tanzania 11 people lost their lives and at least 85 people were wounded. In Kenya 218 people were killed with over 5,000 injured.

Four men, believed to be followers of Osama bin Laden, were convicted on May 29, 2001, for their roles in the bombing that included Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Wadih al-Hage, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh are all believed to be connected with the bin Laden sponsored terrorist organization also referred to as 'The Base'.  Another five defendants have been in custody, while at least 14 more at large.
The men were placed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list on Oct. 10, 2001.
Said President Obama, marking the occasion, "These attacks in East Africa stand as testament to al-Qa`ida’s commitment to use unspeakable violence to kill innocent men, women and children regardless oftheir religion, race, or nationality.  The death of Harun Fazul, the architect of these terrible acts, on June 11,  2011, was an important blow to al-Qa’ida and its ability to threaten so many innocents around the region.  Today, the remembrance of these tragic attacks spurs us to continue to work closely with our allies in East Africa and around the world to bring terrorists to justice and to redouble our efforts to prevent these attacks in the future.  We join with our friends and allies in advancing peace and security for Americans, Kenyans, Tanzanians, and all people in building a world that is worthy of the legacy of the victims of these bombings.   And as we extend our hearts and prayers to the families of those killed, we pledge that they will not be forgotten".
The date of the bombings marked the eighth anniversary of the arrival of American forces in Saudi Arabia.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Are Things Finally Turning Around? Yes. And No.

The letters J-O-B-S hang down the front of the Commerice building in Washington.  Just a block from the White House.  Photo/CD Brown.
Yesterday we learned that more than 70,000 FAA employees were returned to work after almost a two week long furlough after Congress worked together to end the FAA shutdown.

Today, we learn that the July jobs report shows shows that private sector payrolls increased by 154,000 in July. The economy has added 2.4 million private sector jobs over the past 17 months, despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds in the first half of the year.
Still, unemployment remains at an all time high, hovering around 9.1%. In some cities, mainly urban, overall unemployment tops 20%. Unemployment in Detroit is currently at a staggering 30%.  
President Obama continues to make jobs creation his top priority. But the affects are slow, and people remain impatient, while the White House remains optimistic.

In an almost heated exchange between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, the issue of job creation came to a head after Carney explained to reporters that the administration still believes "job growth will come".
Here's a bit of that exchange.

Carney: "We strongly believe, as I’ve said, that we will continue to grow and we will continue to create jobs and we need to take the measures necessary to do that. We have encountered in this calendar year a number of economic headwinds that could not have been foreseen: the tsunami, earthquake and tsunami in Japan that disrupted global supply chains, the unrest in the Middle East, which had an impact on oil prices, and the situation in Europe. So obviously that has hurt the economy globally and has slowed growth and job creation, but we believe that growth and job creation will continue".

Jake Tapper: But what is the President doing? What is... we know that he went to he went to fundraisers last night. What is he doing today?

CARNEY: Jake, that is --

Jake Tapper: What is he doing --

CARNEY: The President has worked --

Tapper: He stood up there and heckled Congress about all the stuff that needs to be done to help create jobs, and this needs to take place --

CARNEY: That’s right, and Congress --

Tapper: ... and then he flew off to Chicago. What’s he doing today?

CARNEY: Congress has... the President is having meetings with his senior staff. The President has called on Congress to move quickly on things that are -- have bipartisan support and are in Congress’ lap . . .

Tapper: So the same stuff he was doing a couple of months ago, calling on Congress to pass things?

After much back and forth, Press Secretary Carney conceded by saying, "Congress has the power to pass legislation that the President can sign. The actions that it can take could create more jobs right now if it passed the patent reform, if it passed the free trade agreements, and, as you know, there are other issues that the President encourages and will push hard for the Congress to take up when it returns from its recess, including extension of the payroll tax cut, which which has this year put an additional $1,000 in the pockets of every American or typical American family. And he believes we need to do that again next year, because that assists those families in giving them the ability to make ends meet and puts money back into the economy, which in turn sustains businesses and creates jobs".

Carney added that the president will continue to come up with and propose measures that he can take to spur further economic growth and job creation.

A report on today's unemployment figures stated that more than 200,000 jobs, per month, would have to be created to even put a dent in U.S. unemployment.

Regarding the president's 'job creating measures', he is speaking today at the Washington Navy Yard to discuss his plans to ensure that all of America’s veterans have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military, look for a job and enter the civilian workforce.

Representatives from several companies that include Humana, Veterans on Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Edison Electric Institute, Microsoft, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, Walmart, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Code for America, SCORE, Futures, Inc. and Siemens, all of which have committed to either hiring or provide training to unemployed veterans.  The companies would receive a tax break for hiring veterans.

For those continuing to ask what the president is doing to create jobs, they should know that on Thursday, August 11, the President will travel to Holland, Michigan, to tour the Johnson Controls Inc. advanced battery facility. While there he plans on highlighting the key role innovative technologies will play in helping automakers achieve the historic fuel economy standards, establishing U.S. leadership in advanced vehicle manufacturing, spurring economic growth, and creating high-quality domestic jobs in cutting edge industries across America.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak is also on board in the campaign to create jobs. This week he traveled to Wisconsin where he attended an event to help connect small and medium sized businesses with the resources they need to export their food and agricultural goods overseas as part of the president's White House Rural Council and the National Export Initiative.
"We expect that this year will be the best ever in the history of agriculture exports, helping support over one million good-paying American jobs", said Vilsak.

Still, Wisconsin isn't Washington, D.C., and it isn't Harlem, and it isn't Detroit, or Chicago's South Side where the president and First Lady lived before coming moving into the White House.

The same job creation efforts, councils and initiatives are needed in those areas as well, especially where youth unemployment among African Americans is unheard of.

Committed to jobs creation and growing the economy, President Obama still faces opposition from the GOP.

In a White House blog today, Austan Goolsby, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) calls for bipartisan action.

"Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow – such as measures to extend both the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as passing the pending free trade agreements with re-employment assistance for displaced workers, the patent reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to help put Americans back to work", writes Goolsby. 
You can read the entire 'Employment in July' article here.

Congressman John Conyers Wants Full Employment for America
"Will somebody please tell me what date America can be America again?". In a press conference put together by members of the 'House Out of Poverty Caucus', Conyers said "America hasn't had full employment since World War II". He wants to "educate" President Obama.

Watch the video below.

Quote of the week:  This impasse was an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country at a time when we can’t allow politics to get in the way of our economic recovery.   - President Obama

Buy a link or advertise on this page.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy 50th Birthday, Mr. President!

President Obama celebrated his birthday (officially today, August 4th) in Chicago last evening with a few friends while making a couple of speeches during DNC events.

Among those helping him celebrate, singer Jennifer Hudson, and others at Chicago's Aragon Entertainment Center.

Mr. President said he couldn't have had a better birthday present than spending the night in Chicago, his 'home town'.  "It's true that I turn 50 tomorrow," he said, adding that by the time he wakes up tomorrow he expects an email from AARP "asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare."

Despite the focus being on him he was par for the course in addressing the needs of Americans, and of course, the tumultuous few weeks (months) in Washington trying to pass the debt ceiling bill.

Addressing the crowd of about 2,400 at one DNC event the president said, "We’ve just gone through an extraordinary week in Washington", the president said, "An extraordinary two weeks in Washington.  It’s not the kind of extraordinary that the American people are looking for.  Because at a time when so many families are struggling, at a time when we should be singularly focused on how to make ourselves more competitive and make sure our kids have the best educations possible and how are we transforming our energy strategy and how are we building on high-tech industries and the huge competitive advantages that we have, politics continues to get in the way".

The president also fielded questions, via video conference, from several supporters and campaign workers where he urged them all to "stay involved".

President Obama celebrates his 50th birthday today, Thursday August 4th.  Photo/ CD Brown.
"...but I want to urge all of you to get involved as a team to start going out not only spreading the message but also listening to people and finding out what’s on their minds and figuring out how we can engage them and get them involved.  And that’s where these neighborhood teams are so important.  We’re already had contact with 42,000 individuals face to face across the nation because of the teams that are activated in the states that are represented on this phone call.  We have had 2 two million calls made to folks all across the country, contacting them, listening to their concerns, and finding out how they want to get involved in this campaign".

After a busy evening of DNC related events and birthday celebrating, the president returned to Washington in the wee, early hours of Thursday morning, his official 50th birthday.

One pooler reported that some White House staffers on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force base sang Happy Birthday to him as he got to the bottom of the stairs. He stopped on the tarmac and smiled.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Sign The President's Birthday Card

**Update and Side Bar Chatter**

The president's 50th birthday party had some pretty heavy hitters in attendance.  We're told that Chris Rock, who played a U.S. president in his hit movie Head of State (we love that movie) was in attendance.  He even tweeted about it saying, "Just left the President's birthday party at the White House. Herbie Hancock played, Stevie Wonder sang and yes they did the electric slide. A great night."

Along with Rock, rapper Jay-Z, former NBA great-turned-analyst Charles Barkley, and Tom Hanks.

Side bar:  Those of us in the media could smell the BBQ aroma permeating the White House grounds earlier in the day before and after the daily press briefing with press secretary Jay Carney, where many were hoping the president would appear.  He did not, leaving many disappointed.

C'mon, Mr. President.  Don't leave us hanging like that.  You know we wanted to say HBD.

The president shares the same birthdate as former White House reporter Helen Thomas.  In 2009 the president did make an appearance during the briefing, handing a birthday cupcake to Thomas.