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

Friday, September 30, 2011

President Obama Addresses Banneker High

Delivers Back To School Address
President Obama addressed students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School where he encouraged the students to continue their education after graduating high school.

President Obama is greeted by enthusiastic  Banneker High School students during his back-to-school address.
  Photo/CD Brown.

Looking even more gray haired, the president told the roughly 250 assembled students, "I want all of you to set a goal to continue your education after you graduate. And if that means college for you, just getting into college is not enough.  You also have to graduate."

Achieving that goal is what Banneker students thrive on.  Banneker is a top ranking school in the District of Columbia, graduating 100% of its class.  Its students continue that success rate also with a 100% college graduation rate.  The school has been rated one of the top 50 schools in the nation by Newsweek Magazine, and has been given a 10 out of 10 rating on the 'Great Schools' web site.  It's sits squarely across from Howard University, another leading institution of higher learning in the nation's capital. 

"We've been doing this for 30 years", said the school's principal Anita Berger who admits she had to keep the exciting news that the president would be paying a visit a secret to the students. 

"We are honored to have the president visit us for his Back-To-School speech."

With that announcement made over the school's loud speaker, "there was a roar from the students", Berger said.  "The students were just so elated."   Berger, in her seventh year as principal of Banneker, admonished the students to listen to President Obama's message. 

"Yes, he is the president.  But listen to his message.  His message is so important", she said.

Having the president visible at the school also garnered praise by DC council member Kwame Brown, who includes Banneker students on his college tours that gives college bound students the opportunity to visit and learn about different colleges.  "I think it's great that the president has shown up at one of the top schools here in Washington, DC where we have highest performance rate taking place in the country", said Brown. "And it shows by him being here at the [school year] kickoff event right here on Georgia Avenue."

Banneker students participated in a Race To The Top video competition where the winner would be awarded by having the president speak at their graduation.  Banneker didn't win the competition, but turned out to be winners on the day, nonetheless, by having President Obama present his back-to-school address.

'Exciting', and 'outstanding' where the words used by third year math teacher Kelly Watson on having Obama speak where she teaches.  "It's really a monumental moment for our students.  It's really wonderful."

"It's a great feeling. Nothing like has happened to me before", said Jovanni Henry, a senior with plans to study aeronautical engineering at either UVA, or MIT. "It's wonderful to have the person who runs the country come to Benjamin Banneker."

The president's message wasn't just for students, but for teachers as well.  The president praised teachers for their hard work and sacrifice that often times leaves their weekends taken, and their evenings usually ending late at night.  It's a labor of love that doesn't always pay big, monetarily.

"I know I've heard him talk about higher pay for teachers.  I'm a fan of that", said Watson. "Personally being a young teacher, I have many student loans that I would love to get paid off."

Said President Obama of teachers, "They don’t do it for a fancy office.  They sure don’t do it for the big salary.  They do it for you.  They do it because nothing gives them more satisfaction than seeing you learn.  They live for those moments when something clicks; when you amaze them with your intellect or your vocabulary, or they see what kind of person you’re becoming.  And they’re proud of you.  And they say, I had something to do with that, that wonderful young person who is going to succeed.  They have confidence in you that you will be citizens and leaders who take us into tomorrow.  They know you’re our future."

The future looks bright for Banneker students, those like ninth grader Sherri Daniels who expected the president to talk to her and her classmates about making a positive impact on the world. Daniels has aspirations to make her own mark by becoming either a nurse or doctor.

Banneker focuses on math and engineering (AP courses) with an additional focus on community service.   All students must also complete 150 hours of community service - before graduating.  Students go through an interview process for admittance.

The school is named after Benjamin Banneker, an African American astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, almanac author and farmer. He has several parks in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD areas named after him, as well as a historical marker in the Washington's Newseum.  His likeness is also featured on a U.S. stamp, part of the African American Heritage series.  He is also credited with designing Washington, DC.

Photo stream of the president's visit can be viewed here.

Listen below to our interview with Banneker's principal Anita Berger as she discusses the school's success rate and President Obama's visit.


Vice President Biden To Police: "We Owe You. We Owe You Big."

Vice President Joe Biden visited Alexandria, Virginia’s newly built police headquarters to congratulate the department for being awarded a nearly $860,000 grant to its Community Oriented Policing Services (or COPS) program.
Vice President Biden with Alexandria, Virginia Chief of Police, Earl Cook.  Photo/CD Brown.
Vice President Biden highlighted how President Obama’s American Jobs Act would keep first responders like police, fire and emergency personnel on the job.
“We owe you.  We owe you big”, said the Vice President. “We owe you every tool available for you not only to keep the community safe, but to keep you safe.”
The president’s Jobs bill, which he is hoping to pass with the support of Congress, sets aside $5 billion for law enforcement officials to hire new personnel and avoid layouts.
Said Biden, “This award gives you the tools you need.”
Alexandria’s Chief of police Earl Cook knows all too well about losing essential personnel.  Alexandria’s police department suffered a lost nine personnel during the height of the recession.
“We’re still trying to provide the same level of service with less resources”, the chief explained.  “As we try to sustain a lower crime rate it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that with less resources than we had three years ago.”

“It’s important that officers on the street have what they need, said Sergeant Gwen Diggs, a thirteen year veteran of the force.”
Those ‘resources’ not only include personnel, but vital equipment necessary to do the job such as tasers, radio and other communication devices and also includes an investment to develop and deploy a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety.
The Alexandria police department was one of four cities in Virginia to receive funding.   The City of Norfolk was awarded the most with $1.07 million.  The city of Annapolis received the largest award for the state of Maryland with $926,350, while The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department  received $1.4 million.  Other police departments across the country were also awarded funds.
Two hundred and forty million dollars was made available for the program.  More than $5 billion in requests were received.   Said Biden, "That’s just an idea of how badly communities around the country are hurting.”
With the newly awarded funds, Alexandria, Virginia’s police chief already has plans for its use. “We plan to recover personnel positions lost in the area of community policing, as well as the department’s Domestic Violence program”, said Cook.

Next month is Domestic Violence awareness month, and  Vice President Biden has been a staunch advocate against domestic violence.
Cook is the city’s first African American chief of police.  He replaced David Baker after Baker resigned following a DUI incident resulting in a car crash in 2009.
The new police headquarters, located at 3600 Wheeler Road, officially opens its doors October 17, 2011.

GOP Opposition  (What Else Is New?)
The administration may not consider its proposed Jobs Bill 'class warfare', but the GOP certainly sees it as a war on the rich, especially since it suggests raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans -  an idea they strongly oppose.
Vice President Biden, quoting President Obama, laid out the plan to yesterday's attendees for finding funding sources for first responders, and other essential personnel. 
Simply make the rich pay their fair share.
Explained Biden, using Wall Street as an example, "The top twenty-five hedge fund managers make $23b, but pay a 15% tax.  Americans pay at 28%.   I don’t get that.  How is that fair?  If hedge fund managers just pay the same rate that the middle class pays, that’s $12b to cover all the cost of law enforcement over the next several years."
“It’s about our police department keeping you and themselves safe. 
Biden said the Obama Administration will fight like crazy to ensure the nation’s police personnel have what they need to do their jobs.
“To me this is a simple deal.  We said we’ve give you what you need,  just by making some stark choices on our value system.
“Its’ just fair.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michelle Obama Week

Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, continues to stay busy.  In this episode of 'Keeping of With The First Lady' we've highlighted some of the activities she's participated this week, as well as give you a peek inside her upcoming schedule.

For starters, the First Lady made a cameo appearance in an edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired last evening. Next we find her looking fabulous at this year's Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Awards Dinner on Saturday evening.  Read below for these events, and more.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina to join Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as they build a dream home for an African American woman veteran, Barbara Marshall and her family. Barbara Marshal had a 15 year career in the Navy but her service to her country didn't stop there. Marshall went on to combat homelessness among female veterans and military families in the Fayetteville area by welcoming them in her own home. The First Lady will appear on the Season Premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight (ABC) at 7PM EST.

Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.

Michelle Obama wowed again at this year's annual Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Award dinner honoring Congressman John Lewis, entrepreneur and former boxer George Forman, and Reverend Joseph LoweryPresident Obama spoke at the dinner where he solicited help from the attendees to help him fight the latest (and possibly the most important feat of his presidential career) project --- putting Americans back to work.

First Lady Michelle Obama at the 41st Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Lauding his previous successes (health care ,extending unemployment insurance, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit) the president, now fighting Congress to get his Jobs Bill passed, said to the near 3,000 attendees, "So in these hard years, we’ve won a lot of fights that needed fighting and we’ve done a lot of good.  But we’ve got more work to do.  So many people are still hurting.  So many people are still barely hanging on.  And too many people in this city are still fighting us every step of the way.  So I need your help.  We have to do more to put people to work right now.  We’ve got to make that everyone in this country gets a fair shake, and a fair shot, and a chance to get ahead.  And I know we won’t get where we need to go if we don’t travel down this road together.  I need you with me. "   

Educator Talks With Us About Her 'I Am Michelle Obama' Children's Book
We caught up with Margina Graham Parker author of the children's book 'I Am Michelle Obama: The First Lady

Parker was at the author's pavilion at this year's Congressional Black Caucus book fair event. 
While many compliment the First Lady for her tremendous sense of fashion, Parker choses to also highlight the First Lady's accomplishments as wife, mother, and college educated career woman.

Said Parker, "After finding out she holds two degrees from Ivy League schools, is an accomplished woman, a great mother, and obviously a great wife, she's letting young girls know you can do all that and look good as well."

Added Parker, "She is the backbone of our president."

Turning off the TV: With Nickelodeon
First Lady Michelle Obama “turned off” Nickelodeon for 3 hours today to encourage kids to go outside and play and to celebrate the success of the Million PALA Challenge, a joint initiative of Let’s Move! and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). Launched in September 2010, the Million PALA Challenge was created to motivate one million Americans to get active and earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) in a year.  Since the start of the challenge, more than 1.7 million Americans have gotten active and earned their PALA, far exceeding the initiative’s goal.

“I’m so proud of all the kids and families who rose to the challenge and got active this year,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, who earned her PALA last fall. “The Million PALA Challenge helped shine a spotlight on the childhood obesity epidemic and I know we can all keep up the momentum and keep moving to help our kids lead healthy, active lives.”

“Congratulations to all of the PALA achievers, especially those who took that first step to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Not only did we meet our goal, we exceeded it and we are not finished yet.”

PALA is a long-standing PCFSN program that rewards youth who are active for 60 minutes a day and adults 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Today, the First Lady also announced the launch of PALA+, a new and improved PALA that incorporates elements of MyPlate and is designed to motivate Americans to make physical activity and healthy eating part of their daily life. 

The First Lady's Upcoming Schedule
On Monday First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will host a lunch in honor of Mrs. Deborah Mullen, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, who will be retiring this week. Spouses of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Guard Bureau leadership will also be in attendance. Mrs. Mullen has been a tireless advocate for military families. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden have worked with Mrs. Mullen for the past two years, specifically on Joining Forces, the initiative they launched to support military families and veterans.

In addition, First Lady Michele Obama will speak at an event about the importance of supporting and retaining women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.  At this East Room event, the National Science Foundation will make an announcement about retaining women in STEM fields.

First Lady Graces Cover of Essence Magazine
First Lady Michelle Obama graces the cover of ESSENCE’s October issue with a revealing interview highlighting ESSENCE and the First Lady’s shared commitment to women and girls around the world.

In the article, “The Leading Lady,” she reflects on what she calls the “big, bright light” of her power as First Lady -- and she shares her mission to impart a critical message to young women: that where she is now is attainable with hard work. More here


Even More Michelle O!
Read Michelle Obama's Op-ed in The Fayetteville Observer: Military Families Deserve the Spotlight here.

**Update** September 28, 2011
The First Lady, a bit casual, goes shopping at Target on Route 1 in Alexandria.  (We go there all the time! But missed Lady O!)


Friday, September 16, 2011

White House (and Congress) Agree To Launch 'Digital Promise' Initiative

Responding to President’s Call to Action, Key Effort by Leaders in Industry and Universities to Transform Learning Technology

Today, the White House and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the launch of “Digital Promise,” a new national center created by Congress with bipartisan support to advance technologies to transform teaching and learning. Digital Promise will receive startup funds from the Department of Education as well as the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  It will be overseen by board made up of prominent leaders in education and technology appointed by Secretary Duncan based on recommendations from the House of Representatives and United States Senate.

Digital Promise will work with leading researchers, entrepreneurs, and schools to identify and spur breakthrough learning technologies, determine quickly what’s working and what’s not, and transform today’s fragmented learning technology market, paving the way for the widespread use of learning technologies that deliver the best results for students, parents, and teachers.  These efforts build upon the President’s call to create jobs by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world, including the Administration’s efforts to bring all of America’s schools into the 21st century. 

“Digital Promise is a unique partnership that will bring everyone together – educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to use technology to help students learn and teachers teach. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to education, but technology can be a powerful tool, and Digital Promise will help us make the most of it.” President Obama said.

“Created by Republicans and Democrats and championed by a coalition of educators and business leaders, Digital Promise is an independent nonprofit that will help spur breakthrough learning technologies.  And it will help make sure Americans of all ages and races, regions and backgrounds can benefit from them.  By harnessing the extraordinary work being done by educators, innovators, and citizens across this country, Digital Promise can help prepare Americans – and America – to succeed in the 21st Century,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

To realize the potential of learning technology, Digital Promise will work with educators and leading researchers, technology firms, and entrepreneurs on three key challenges:

·        Identifying Breakthrough Technologies. For years, researchers have been working on developing educational software that is as effective as a personal tutor.  Preliminary results from a DARPA/Navy “digital tutor” project suggest that we can reduce the time required to become an expert in IT from years to months.  Achieving similar results in subjects such as math would transform K-12 education.  Digital Promise will begin its work by partnering with technology firms and researchers to map the R&D landscape, identifying opportunities for similar breakthroughs in learning from cradle through a career.
·        Learning faster what's working and what's not. Internet startups do rapid evaluations of their sites, running test after test to continually improve their services. When it comes to education, R&D cycles can take years, producing results that are out of date the minute they're released.  Digital Promise will work with researchers and entrepreneurs to develop new approaches for rapidly evaluating new products.
·        Transforming the market for learning technologies. With more than 14,000 school districts, and an outdated procurement system, it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to break into the market, and it’s also tough to prove that their products can deliver meaningful results.  Meanwhile, the amount we invest in R&D in K-12 education is estimated at just 0.2% of total spending on K-12 education, compared to 10-20% of revenues spent on R&D in many knowledge-intensive industries such as software development and biotech. Digital Promise will work with school districts to create “smart demand” that drives private sector investment in innovation.
Today, Secretary Duncan announced the inaugural board members of Digital Promise and the Administration made several additional announcements, including $15M in new awards from the National Science Foundation to support research that is developing next-generation learning environments.  In addition, a number of private-sector partners announced an array of related efforts, including an initiative by schools and school districts to improve educational outcomes through the wider use of effective teaching and learning technologies; the launch of a new national alliance of top education-policy researchers focused on improving outcomes among the Nation’s disadvantaged children; and a number of new challenges and prizes for the development of video games and other forms of digital entertainment that spur learning and interest in science, math, and engineering.  

Today’s event will be livestreamed at   For further details about Digital Promise and related initiatives please visit and

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Lady Obama Takes On The Restaurant Industry

AT Hyattsville, MD Olive Garden:  First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, second from right, talks to Charisse McElroy, right, and her daughter Jacqueline McElroy, 9.  Photo by AP's Manuel Balce Ceneta
First Lady Michelle Obama was at the Hyattsville, MD Olive Garden restaurant today to announce that Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full service restaurant company, would modify its kids' menus to include healthier sides and drink options.

"Often, parents assume that when a restaurant offers a separate kids’ menu that the food on that menu will actually be good for their kids", said the First Lady. "They assume that the potion sizes will be reasonable. They assume that the food will be just as nutritious as food that they prepare for their kids at home." 

It's considered that one of every two dollars spent on food is spent in restaurants, and over one-third of calories consumed in America are eaten at restaurants.

The Childhood Obesity Task Force Report specifically calls on restaurants to, “consider their portion sizes, improve children’s menus, and make healthy options the default choice whenever possible.”
Darden Restaurants has accepted this challenge.

Darden is committing to reducing its calorie and sodium footprints, and to provide greater choice and variety to families through changes to its kids’ menus. Across the entire Darden portfolio of brands, the company is working toward a 10 percent reduction of calories and sodium over five years and a 20 percent reduction in calories and sodium over 10 years. On kids’ menus, fruits or vegetables will become the default side option and 1-percent milk will be the default beverage choice with free refills. Changes to the kids’ menus are starting now and will be fully implemented by next July.

Darden owns and operates 1,900 restaurants in 49 states, serving over 400 million meals per year.would be Partnership for a Healthier America today to announce a “breakthrough” health and wellness commitment in the restaurant industry. Darden brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze.

Calling today's announcement a "big deal" that "bought her out today", the First Lady said that Darden is doing what no restaurant has done before. 

"They’re not just making their kids’ menus healthier so that parents have more choices and more control; they’re making changes across their full menu at every single one of their restaurants throughout the country", said The First Lady. "They’re looking at all the food they serve, and they’re asking themselves one simple question: How can we improve the health of American families?"

Darden also owns The Capital Grille and Seasons 52. Coincidentally, the Darden stock was up 44 points today at time of article publishing on today's news.


Partnership for a Healthier America secured the following commitments and will be working with Darden to evaluate and monitor their progress with these efforts.

Kids’ Menus – changes starting now and to be fully implemented by July 2012
· Guarantee a fruit or vegetable will be the default side for every kids’ menu item at those restaurants offering a default side on the children’s menu: Bahama Breeze, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster.
· 1% milk will be the default beverage, provided automatically if no alternate beverage is requested. Milk will be prominently promoted on the menu and made available with free refills.
· Food illustrations on the menu will promote the healthy choices for meals and drinks.
· Healthier menu options will be more prominently displayed when possible.
· Carbonated beverages will not be displayed on children’s menus.
· Improve the nutritional content of one or more children’s menu items to provide equal or less than 600 calories, 30% of total calories from fat, 10% of total calories from saturated fat and 600 mg of sodium.

Calories/Sodium Footprint Reduction – changes to be implemented by 2016 and 2021
· By 2016, reduce calories by 10% and over a ten-year period by 20%.
· By 2016, reduce sodium by 10% and over a ten-year period by 20%.

Rated 2009's healthiest restaurants:  Panera.   See what other restaurants made the list here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Four to Receive Prestigious Awards Recognizing Contributions to America

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) announced that President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner Saturday, September 24. The dinner concludes the Foundation's 41st Annual Legislative Conference (ALC).

President Obama is scheduled to address more than 3,000 expected attendees at the evening's event.

Four distinguished individuals will receive the prestigious Phoenix Awards, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; U.S. Representative and civil rights activist John Lewis; athlete and humanitarian George Edward Forman, Sr; and civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery.

President Obama was the recipient of the Phoenix Award in 2008, which recognizes individuals for their efforts and accomplishments that have made significant contributions to society, and symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit and an eternal desire to reach its full potential.

In addition, the six surviving founders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will be honored during the evening, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of CBC. Actor and activist Hill Harper and WJLA veteran evening news anchor Maureen Bunyan will serve as co-emcees.

ALC provides an outlet to highlight the mission of CBCF - to develop leaders, to inform policy and to educate the public - by providing more than 80-high level, thought-provoking forums to address the critical challenges facing the African-American Diaspora.

This year, thousands are expected to reflect on the conference's theme: iLead|iServe. ALC attendees will have many opportunities to share their thoughts and experiences on leadership and service - how and why they do it, the value of each, and the impact of each within their lives and their communities.

The conference will use social media, a town hall meeting, brain trusts and personal interaction to further encourage discussions and follow-up conversations among attendees.
The week-long event takes place from September 21- 24th. For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Phoenix Awards Dinner visit

The president will attend the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala Wednesday evening.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kennedy Center's 9/11 Concert of Hope

A day honoring victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attack on the U.S. culminated yesterday evening with Kennedy Center Concert of Hope with remarks given by President Obama.

Citing Americans' tenacity and courage, the president even after the 9/11 attack the character of America as a nation has not changed.  Our faith, said President Obama, in God and in each other has not changed.  Our belief in America, born of a timeless ideal that men and women should govern themselves; that all people are created equal, and deserve the same freedom to determine their own destiny, that belief, through tests and trials, has only been strengthened."
The president's remarks, lasting well over twenty minutes, included him acknowledging the first responders and firefighters on the scene on that horrific day.

"These past 10 years have shown that America does not give in to fear.  The rescue workers who rushed to the scene, the firefighters who charged up the stairs, the passengers who stormed the cockpit, these patriots defined the very nature of courage.  Over the years we’ve also seen a more quiet form of heroism -- in the ladder company that lost so many men and still suits up and saves lives every day, the businesses that have been rebuilt from nothing, the burn victim who has bounced back, the families who press on".

The 'hope' concert, hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper, included extraordinary performances by Patti LaBelle who wowed the crowd with a rendition of  her latest musical masterpiece "Two steps away", which she previously performed to the delight of hundreds during the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial celebration.

Alan Jackson performed "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning", backed up by the President's U.S. Marine Corps Band.

Guests of the president included D. Hamilton Peterson, board member and former president of the Families of Flight 93, (His father and step-mother were killed on Flight); Christy Ferer liaison for 9-11 issues currently serving on non for profit boards including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (Ferer is the widow of Neil Levin, director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center); and James J. Laychak current president and chairman of the Pentagon Memorial Fund who spent five years creating and leading the organization that successfully raised the money to design, build, and maintain the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.

President Obama reads from the 9/11 Wall of Names at New York City's September 11 Memorial as First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Bush stand behind him.

Earlier in the day, The President and First Lady traveled to New York City to attend the September 11th 10th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial located in the World Trade Center Site in Lower Manhattan. The President and the First Lady also traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania to help commemorate the 10th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 during the attacks on 9/11.

Vice President Biden remarked at the Pentagon, also a point of attack during the 9/11 tragedy. 

"And so today, above all else, we recall 148 lives cut short on this site 10 years ago this morning", said Biden.  The Vice President, congratulating the families of survivors let them know their presence was commendable.  "But I want you to know something else, your physical presence here today gives hope to thousands of Americans who under different circumstances are trying to come to grips with the losses that you had that they're going through.  Because when they see you here, you let them know that hope can grow from tragedy, and that there can be a second life."

President Obama has designated September 11 as a national day of service. The First Family helped serve meals at DC Central Kitchen.

"With just a small act of service, or a simple act of kindness towards others, you can both honor those we lost and those who serve us still, and help us recapture the spirit of generosity and compassion that followed 9/11", the president said in a video address.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NASCAR's Johnson and Other NASCAR Drivers Honored by President Obama

President Obama welcomed Jimmie Johnson and other 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to the White House to honor Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Said President Obama, "Jimmie’s talent has been to make a very difficult, demanding sport look easy. But this year, the Number 48 team also showed its toughness. They entered the last race of the Chase trailing, and ended up pulling off an extraordinary comeback."

Johnson was joined by Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton.

Johnson presented the president with driving gloves he wore during a race he won in Las Vegas.

"I don't get to drive much anymore these days", said the president, joking that he would use the gloves when he drove 'Golf Cart One', a golf cart used by the president at Camp David.

The President recognized the efforts by Johnson and NASCAR to give back to their community as part of their visit, continuing the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring athletes and sports teams for their efforts on and off the field.

Last month, the drivers and staff toured Walter Reed hospital, served dinner to 400 wounded warriors and their loved ones. NASCAR has been a huge supporter of the Joining Forces program instituted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in upport of military families. Today, Johnson made a special visited the Pentagon. Later this week, NASCAR will once again honor the U.S. military and first responders in Richmond the night before the anniversary of 9/11.

The Sprint Cup Championship is a 36-race season running from February to November. After 26 races, the point standings are realigned and the top 12 drivers compete evenly in the “Chase for the Sprint Cup”, a 10 race shootout for the championship.

This is Jimmie Johnson’s fifth consecutive win since 2006.President Obama welcomed Jimmie Johnson and other 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to the White House to honor Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

REBIRTH: Remembering Those of 9/11

As part of the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Vice President will host a screening of the documentary REBIRTH for Washington, DC, area college students. 

Jim Whitaker. Project Rebirth Founder and Director
REBIRTH is a full-length documentary which chronicles the lives of five people directly affected by the events on September 11th, 2001.  The subjects featured in the documentary include a survivor from the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC); a firefighter who survived the collapse of the WTC but lost his best friend; a high school student who lost his mother; a young woman who lost her fiancĂ©; and a construction worker who lost his brother, assisted with recovery efforts, and is presently helping to build the Freedom Tower.

The Vice President will be joined by Jim Whitaker, Director and Founder of Project Rebirth as well as four of the people featured in the documentary.

Several screenings of the documentary will take place around the country.  For a list of screenings click here.  Follow the film's progression via their YouTube Channel here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

President Obama Tours Hurricane Irene Stricken New Jersey

Vows to give areas "what they need" to rebuild.

Thanks to a few pool reports we get a sense of  President Obama's touring events in Paterson, NJ.  The president is spending the Labor Day weekend at Camp David, but has scheduled visits in New Jersey's hardest hit areas after last weekend's devastating Hurricane Irene struck the area.

President Obama tours damage caused by flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Wayne, New Jersey.
 (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / September 4, 2011)
Our pool report comes from David Cook of CSPS.

POTUS at Main Street Bridge in Paterson New Jersey at approximately 1:35 p.m. POTUS arrived at the storm damaged Main Street Bridge in Paterson New Jersey over a very fast blowing Passaic River.  En route, we saw signs that said “Mr Obama, yes we can” and “We survived Hurricane Irene.” Representative Pascarel told reporters at the bridge “we are glad that he [President Obama] is here.” After walking along the bridge, Mr. Obama came to one end and delivered remarks.

Pooler's Key points:  The visit “gives you a sense of the devastation that has taken place”, said Obama.  He thanked Gov. Christie, the Congressional delegation, and local leaders saying their effective performance “has helped avert even greater tragedy.”  He said “the main message” is that “the entire country is behind you”  and will “make sure we provide all the resources that are necessary to rebuild.”  As to those say it may taken a while to find funds “we are going to meet our obligations".  In times of disaster “then we come together as one country.” Finally, Mr. Obama said “ I know it could have been worse but we should notr underestimate the heartache.”

Official remarks by President Obama:"The main message that I have for all the residents not only of New Jersey but all those communities that have been affected by flooding, by the destruction that occurred as a consequence of Hurricane Irene is that the entire country is behind you and we are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild."

Another pool report informs us that the president visited a “Road to Recovery” center at a local Lowe’s in Paterson, NJ where they are providing supplies, medical screening, and additional support to those impactedby Irene. "Several hundred people were lined up along side tables with the supplies and POTUS went down the line shaking hands and talking. 

End of selected pool reports.


Offficials from the Obama administration along for the visit included FEMA Director Craig Fugate, FEMA FCO Bill Vogel, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  From the state of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Bob Menendez, Representative Bill Pascrell, Representative Steven Rothman, Paterson Mayor Jeffrey JonesWayne, Mayor Christopher Vergano, along with Red Cross CEO & President Gail McGovern.

President Obama declared the state of New Jersey a disaster ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Hurricane Irene beginning on August 27, 2011, and continuing.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Somerset.

With Hurricane Irene behind us, FEMA is now keeping a close eye on tropical storm watches and warnings in effect along the Gulf Coast.  FEMA, through its regional offices in Denton, Texas, and Atlanta, is continuing to closely monitor Tropical Storm Lee, and is urging residents in Gulf Coast states to prepare for heavy rains and possible flooding in the coming days. 

Information on the forecast track, can be found at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Palfrey, 30 Year Pediatrician, To Start As Executive Director of Let's Move!

WASHINGTON – First Lady Michelle Obama today announced that one of the country’s leading pediatricians, Judith S. Palfrey, M.D., will lead her Let’s Move! childhood obesity initiative as Executive Director starting on Tuesday, September 6. For decades, Dr. Palfrey has provided clinical care to thousands of children and families, conducted groundbreaking pediatric research, taught future physicians and led major medical organizations. Palfrey has been a longtime supporter of the Let’s Move! campaign and spoke at its launch in February of 2010 when she was president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“It was my children’s pediatrician who first told me that I needed to pay closer attention to my children’s health so I understand the significance doctors play in family health.  That’s why we are eager to welcome Judy Palfrey to the White House where I know that she will take the Let’s Move! program to new heights. Judy has worked with families one-on-one and partnered with communities on health promotion initiatives.  She is a leading researcher and respected voice in the field.  Her tremendous experience and insight in pediatrics and community health will make her a strong leader for Let’s Move! and make a real difference in the lives of our nation’s children,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

“As a doctor, I know how important fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity is, and I’ve seen firsthand the struggles families can face in keeping their kids healthy. That’s why I’m so eager to work with the First Lady to build on the successes of Let’s Move! and continue to empower parents to make the healthier choices. I look forward to working with communities all over America as they support families and children,” said Dr. Palfrey.

“Over the past 20 years, our nation has seen an alarming rise in the number of our children who are overweight and obese. It will take a continued concerted effort and thoughtful collaboration to create healthier communities for children,” said O. Marion Burton, M.D., FAAP, AAP president. “Dr. Palfrey has spent her career advocating for the health and well-being of children. She brings a wealth of clinical, research and practice expertise, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of preventive health and promotion. The AAP has had the privilege of drawing upon this expertise for many years, and wishes her much success in this important new role. She is the ideal candidate for the job.”

Dr. Palfrey has been a pediatric clinician and teacher for over 30 years, and her clinical work and teaching has included primary care, developmental pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics and community health. At Harvard Medical School, Dr. Palfrey was appointed as the first incumbent of T. Berry Brazelton Professorship of Pediatrics. Most recently, she directed the global health efforts of the Department of Medicine at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. She has served this past year as immediate past president of AAP – the nation’s largest pediatric organization with a membership of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists. From 1986 to 2007, Dr. Palfrey was chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital, Boston. Dr. Palfrey has served as chair of the AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, president of the Academic Pediatric Association, director of Building Bright Futures, and national program director of the Dyson Community Pediatrics Initiative. In each of these programs, she has placed a major emphasis on prevention and health promotion.

Dr. Palfrey is a recipient of the Milton J.E. Senn Award from AAP, the Millie and Richard Brock Award of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Marie Felton Award of the Boston Center for Independent Living. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Dr. Palfrey holds an A.B. from Harvard and an M.D. from Columbia University. She is married with three children.

View Palfrey's bio here.


Well, and fine.   I'm curious to know, however, why with all the appointments and nominations, there are less, and less (and less) African Americans being assigned positions in the Obama administration? Just asking. 

Check the high profile nominations and appointments for yourself.