Covering

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



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Spring Commencement Time! First Lady 2012 Commencement Address Schedule Announced.

First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address at North Carolina A&T on May 12.
First Lady at GW commencement in 2010.

Since becoming First Lady, Mrs. Obama has spoken at several institutions of learning.

Mrs. Obama gave the commencement addresses at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and Oregon State University (OSU) where her brother, Craig, coaches basketball.

In 2009, Mrs. Obama spoke at the graduation of University of California Merced’s first full senior class. She also addressed the Washington Math and Science Tech Public Charter High School Graduation in Washington DC. 

In 2010, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of the Anacostia Senior High School, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and George Washington University.

In 2011, Mrs. Obama delivered commencement addresses at the University of Northern Iowa, Spelman College, and Quantico Middle High School. The First Lady also spoke to graduates and families at West Point.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Students from around the country joined First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday to help plant vegetables in the White House garden.

This year marks the fourth year that the first lady has invited students to partake in the planting, many who wrote about their own gardens at their schools.


Added to this year's garden will be the plain, white potato.  The potato will join the sweet potato in this year's crop of healthy food items.

The first lady maintains that any family can start their own garden.  White House chef, Sam Cass, who shared that spinach would be on the menu for dinner last evening, said to reporters, "This is doable by any family, be it in a window sill, back porch, backyard or community garden."

"This doesn't take that much to have a huge impact on a kid.  A kid could see one seed sprout and taste one plant and have a real life changing experience."

Nahmira Hishnnil, a seventh grader from Stetser Elementary School in Chester, PA was overjoyed.  It was her very first visit to Washington, DC, a visit she described as "Amazing". 
"It was a whole lot of emotions. It was great", she explained after helping the first lady plant lettuce and onions.
Rhubarb, just one of many items in the White House garden.  Photo/CD Brown.
Click here for more photos.
Said First Lady Obama on how growing the garden has affected her daughters Sasha and Malia, "And a lot of times when you grow your own vegetables and fruits, they taste really good. They taste better than a lot of stuff you’ll get in a grocery store, trust me. My kids have done it. They’re not big fans of all vegetables, but if they help to work on it they’re much more excited about trying it out."

Principal Harry Hughes of DC's Harriet Tubman Elementary School raved about his student's vegetable garden. 

Started over two years ago, he says their garden "can rival any garden", even the White House garden.

Interested in starting your own vegetable garden?

The first lady has a cook book called American Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools, and Communities that may help you.  The book will hit bookstores on April 10th.

First Lady Michelle Obama is the first, first lady to have a white house garden since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Fruits and vegetables from the Obama White House garden have been served at State Dinners, White House luncheons, and have been given as gifts from the Obama family.

The first lady's garden and healthy eating initiatives are part of her Let's Move! program that promotes healthy eating and exercise.

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More.

White House garden photos.

Students around the country help First Lady Obama. 

· Harriet Tubman and Bancroft Elementary Schools – Washington, DC. These two schools have been active participants in the planting and harvesting of the White House Kitchen Garden. Mrs. Obama has invited students from these schools – who have their own gardens – to work and learn in the White House Kitchen Garden. Students from Bancroft joined Mrs. Obama for the very first planting and have worked with her in the garden every year since that time. Mrs. Obama also has visited Bancroft Elementary to help with their garden. Additionally White House Chefs Cris Comerford, Sam Kass and Bill Yosses have adopted Tubman Elementary through the Chefs Move to Schools program and have worked with students and teachers on healthy eating.

· Stetser Elementary School – Chester, PA. Sixth graders from Stetser Elementary School wrote to the First Lady about planting a butterfly garden at the school and their plans to add a vegetable garden. The principal of the school wrote that the garden would “make connections for our students around growing and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables. Our goal will be to connect our garden with our local community and incorporate the produce we grow into our school lunch program.”

· Sumner Elementary School – Greensboro, NC. A third grade class from Sumner Elementary School wrote to Mrs. Obama about planting their own garden and asked Mrs. Obama for advice on what kinds of fruits and vegetables to include. They wrote “Thank you for encouraging America to eat better and live healthier. We hope that people continue to eat healthier. Because of your actions, our school is planning on starting a garden.”

·        Girl Scouts of Western New York, Troop 60325 – Fairport, NY. This troop wrote a letter to Mrs. Obama about healthy eating and getting active. They also told Mrs. Obama that they were growing 100 tomato plants to give to people without access to fresh, healthy food. One scout wrote, “We are also going to plant seeds, and we were wondering if you could come and help us.”

·        Mitchell Elementary School – Ames, IA. Second graders from this school wrote to the First Lady that they were studying “how to keep our bodies healthy.” They told her about PE class, recess and their effort to start a community garden. Each grade at the school has their own raised bed plot, and members of the community can also plant and harvest in the garden. The second graders planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips, radishes, parsnips, watermelon, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and carrots. The letter wrote, “Our teachers let us taste test the food we harvest and we have even had a salad for snack and watermelon from our garden at lunch.”

Friday, March 23, 2012

At Last...A Statement Has Come Along

President Obama comments on the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon Martin's new hoodie.
After 27 days of wondering when, or if, President Obama was ever going to comment on the tragic death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin who was killed by the renegade, wannabe, so-called neighborhood watch person, George Zimmerman, we hear about the matter from the Commander-in-Chief.

Speaking today in the Rose Garden, after announcing the nomination of Jim Yong Kim to replace Bob Zoellick as president of the World Bank, the president was asked:

Mr. President, may I ask you about this current case in Florida, very controversial, allegations of lingering racism within our society -- the so-called do not -- I'm sorry -- Stand Your Ground law and the justice in that? Can you comment on the Trayvon Martin case, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m the head of the executive branch, and the Attorney General reports to me so I’ve got to be careful about my statements to make sure that we’re not impairing any investigation that’s taking place right now.

But obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together -- federal, state and local -- to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.

So I'm glad that not only is the Justice Department looking into it, I understand now that the governor of the state of Florida has formed a task force to investigate what's taking place. I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.
But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Thank you, Mr. President.   We missed your statement on the passing of Whitney Houston (if there ever was one) but do appreciate you commenting, on a national stage, about the death of Trayvon Martin.

Now, for those of you who can't figure out why the African American community is outraged over Travyon's story when there is also Black-on-Black crime in inner cities that don't gain national attention, here's why.

In Black-on-Black crimes and especially in Black-on-white crimes, the perpertrator is almost always brought to justice.  The African American perpetrator is jailed, retained in jail until given a hearing, bonded, or not given a bond at all.  The common denominator here is that the perpetrator was jailed or punished, giving at least some sense of justice and/or closure for the victim's loved ones.

Did this happen with George Zimmerman?  The answer, as we all know, is no.  And that happens all too often in cases involving an African American victim.

Let's be clear. This country was predicated on the mistreatment of African American men, women, and children where the crimes against them by whites have gone unpunished.  Just Google 'Emmet Till', or 'white cop shoots Black' and see how many stories come up where there was no justice for the victims of those crimes.

Actions like these continue to shed light on the mass incarceration and prolonged prison sentences given to African Americans at alarming rates while non-Black groups receive shortened, or no jail sentences for like crimes.

So, the African American community, and rightly so, is taking a stand in the Travyon Martin case, and others like them, until the perpetrators of the murders of African American citizens are brought to justice, and until those cases, to paraphrase what the the president said are "take[n] with the seriousness it deserves, until we "get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

If you like to take a stand in solidarity for Trayvon Martin plan to attend the Justice For Trayvon rally this Saturday, March 23rd, from 2-4 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

FLOTUS In White

First Lady Michelle Obama looks beautiful and wows in this white jacquard dress by L'Wren Scott as she and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appear at the State Department earlier this month to honor women from around the world who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment during this year's International Women of Courage awards.


The names of this year’s honorees are below. Full biographies and photos are available here

• The Honorable Maryam Durani, Kandahar Provincial Council Member (Afghanistan);
• Major Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo, police officer, Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Brazil);
• Zin Mar Aung, political activist and NGO co-founder (Burma);
• Jineth Bedoya Lima, investigative journalist (Colombia);
• Hana Elhebshi, architect and political activist (Libya);
• Aneesa Ahmed, gender-based violence (GBV) activist and former Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs (Maldives);
• Shad Begum, human rights activist and founder/executive director of Anjuman Behbood-e-Khawateen Talah (the Union of Women’s Welfare) (Pakistan);
• Samar Badawi, political activist (Saudi Arabia);
• Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih, human rights activist (Sudan);
• The Honorable Safak Pavey, Member of Parliament (Turkey

We think both FLOTUSes should have been included on a list like that.

Accomplished, smart, dedicated, and courageous are they both.

Could There Be A Keystone Pipeline After All?

President Obama revealed a memorandum today on the expedited review of pipeline projects from Cushing, Texas to Port Arthur and other domestic pipeline infrastructure projects.

With gas prices hovering well over $4.00 a gallon, the president insists that "we must safely and responsibly develop our oil resources here at home, as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy to grow our economy and make us more secure."

All Americans want to know is will doing so bring down the cost gasoline prices?

The president spoke today Cushing Pipe Yard in Oklahoma where he again remarked on reducing reliance on foreign oil, saying, "Although expanding and modernizing our Nation's pipeline infrastructure will not lower prices right away, it is a vital part of a sustained strategy to continue to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and enhance our Nation's energy security."

Taking heat from Congress, and supporters of the Keystone Pipeline, the president is calling for an expedited review process of pipeline infrastructure that will ensure health, safety, and security of communities and the environment while supporting projects that can contribute to economic growth and a secure energy future.

"In doing so, the Federal Government must work in partnership with State, local, and tribal governments, which play a central role in the siting  and permitting of pipelines; and, we must protect our natural resources and address the concerns of local communities", the president said of  the proposed 485-mile line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.

Native Americans protested the proposed effort saying the project along the coast would impact the indigenous communities and their sacred spaces, mainly grave sites that some say would "rip out" their heritage.

Read the president's entire memorandum here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson on Trayvon Martin

Outrage, shock, and dismay continues to spill out over the senseless death of 17 year old promising high school student Trayvon Martin, who was killed on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida by wannabe vigilanty George Zimmerman (may he rot in some place unpleasant).

Zimmerman, disguising himself as some sort of vigilanty neighborhood watch patrol official followed, chased down, and killed Martin and claimed self defense as he stood over the deceased Martin with a nine millimeter weapon in his hand.

Zimmerman has not been charged, and is free to come and go as he pleases while the Martin family is left fighting for justice for their deceased son.

Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson vows to speak from the floor of Congress until Martin's murderer is brought to justice. 
It has been 25 days without an arrest of George Zimmerman who has been set free without charge.
While President Obama has yet to speak out on the matter, or give a phone call to the Martin family, (even though he will comment on the murders in Sryia and Afghanistan) members of the Congressional Black Caucus are speaking out on the issue on America's soil.

Listen to representative Fredericka Wilson (D-FL) as she brings the matter of racial profiling to the floor of Congress earlier today.

"I'm tired of burying young Black boys", relented Wilson, who serves the Florida district where Martin lived.  "No more racial profiling."



The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Martin.

Here is a statement for the Department of Justice.

"The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws. The Community Relations Service will be in Sanford, Fla., this week to meet with civil rights leaders, community leaders, and local law enforcement to address tension in the community.”

Related
Photos:  A Million Hoodies For Trayvon Martin:  NYC Union Square

NAACP's Ben Jealous Speaks Calls for Firing of Sanford Police Chief, Bill Lee

President Obama's remarks to President Sarkozy on killings in France, but not to parents of Trayvon Martin of Florida, USA.

The President spoke by phone today with President Sarkozy of France while aboard Air Force One en route to Nevada. President Obama expressed his solidarity with President Sarkozy, and the government and people of France, as they deal with the aftermath of the tragic and unprovoked attacks that left seven dead, including three French soldiers, and three children and a teacher at a Jewish school. President Obama welcomed the actions taken by French authorities in identifying and locating a suspect in the killings, and their continued efforts to prevent further acts of violence. President Obama underscored that the American people stand shoulder to shoulder with our French allies and friends in this trying time.

Why Mitt Romney Will Not Be The Next President

Mitt Romney won Chicago last evening, and picked up an endorsement by the brother of former president, George W. Bush. 

He's riding high. He's leaving Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul in the dust, it seems.

But the candidate who loves cars and lakes, is also being made fun of, again.

We're 'borrowing' a paragraph, or two, from Miami Herald writer Mark Caputo to illustrate what you may already know. A man can change his mind, but it might get you laughed at.

Take a read.

Mitt Romney began Wednesday basking in the glow of the surprise endorsement of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush less than 24 hours after a big Illinois win.


All of the good news was in danger of being erased by what’s known as the Etch-A-Sketch gaffe.


As Bush’s endorsement rattled about Twitter and the blogosphere, Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom flubbed a question on CNN when he was asked if the campaign plans to retool its message in the general election .


“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign, everything changes,” Fehrnstrom said. “It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”


Liberals, Obama’s campaign and Romney’s Republican rivals pounced. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich later brandished the 1960’s-era sketching toy end at their respective campaign events.


The flub was a costly one because it involved such a childish goofy sounding word that pointed to a more-serious truth: Opponents see Romney as a flip-flopper.


Reporters, kept at bay from the gaffe-prone Romney, asked the candidate about it Wednesday in Maryland, but he initially snapped that he wasn’t giving a press conference.


Then he reversed himself and, rather than talk about the Bush endorsement, told reporters that he was the same old candidate.


"I’m running as a conservative Republican,” he said. “The policies and positions are the same.”


[Read more of Mark's column here]

The policies may be the same, but the candidate isn't always the same. With Romney's 'Sorry, that's not what I meant' rebuttal to every questionable statement he makes, America doesn't know which Romney they will get on any given day, or Republican presidential debate, leaving many to ask 'Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up'?

Watch the video below to see what all the hype is about.  And when you figure out who the real Mitt Romney, let us know.

Ready.  Re-set. Go.



Let's face it, Romney is just too vanilla for this country, and he acts like he's not even comfortable in his own indecisive skin.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Limbaugh Apologizes, But A Congresswoman Wants You To ...

Women's History Month is starting off with a bang.

After the latest ridiculousness from shock jock Rush Limbaugh caused such a stir from everyone who is human, Limbaugh in an attempt to be one himself, issued an apology (after about ten sponsors withdrew their advertising dollars) to Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, whom he called a "slut" last week on the national airwaves, and said he wanted to watch "her have sex".

In his apology Limbaugh said:
"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."
Members of Congress, and perhaps even you, aren't buying that sentiment.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz isn't buying Limbaugh's actions and responded to the Limbaugh madness in an email to constituents that reads:


"So, here's the latest in the GOP's attack on women's health:

Rush Limbaugh is now leading the charge, waging a series of ugly attacks on a Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke, who bravely testified in Congress to protect a woman's access to contraception and preventive care.

His response? He called her a "slut" who "wants to be paid to have sex," adding, "she's having so much sex, she can't afford the contraception." He neglected to mention that Sandra was testifying about her friend who was denied birth control she needed in order to stop ovarian cysts from growing.
Displaying a stunning lack of leadership, Mitt Romney wouldn't denounce Rush's point of view, saying, "I'll just say this, which is, it's not the language I would have used."

Our President -- on the other hand -- called Sandra yesterday to thank her for speaking out for women.

As Democrats, we rally around and support the people who put themselves on the line for the things we believe in. Right now, we need to stand with Sandra.

The attacks coming from the GOP on women's health are way over the line -- and very dangerous.
Mitt Romney has come out in support of the "personhood" amendment, which would have outlawed some forms of birth control and even in-vitro fertilization. Rick Santorum declared contraception is "harmful to women." It's happening at the state level, too, like the bill Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is about to sign into law that will force women considering abortions to have ultrasounds, and require doctors to ask them if they'd like a picture.

If we don't speak out, it'll continue.

We didn't fight as hard as we did for health care reform just to have key progress for women repealed by GOP politicians, like the Blunt-Rubio amendment would have done. And we didn't fight as hard as we did for women's rights just to have radio "entertainers" like Rush Limbaugh viciously attack women who stand up for the care they need.

Rush Limbaugh said Sandra's parents should be ashamed of her. President Obama told Sandra that her parents should be proud, continues the email.

We're proud, too, because she's fighting for all of us."



And of course this message doesn't come without asking supporters for a donation. Wasserman (and the DNC) want you to click the below link, and ..

Sidenote:  We're still trying to figure out why the president never issued a public statement on the death of Whitney Houston, but felt compelled to reach out to Ms. Fluke.  Both topics pose a threat to women's health.

We're guessing one item might help with his re-election, while the other will not.

Oh, the joy opportunities found in politics.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is Newt Broke?

A very telling article about Newt Gringrich from the Huffington Post talks about Gingrich and several of his organization's money woes.
Seemingly a presidential candidate, unsuccessful at balancing his own budget, might have little success at balancing the country's mounting debt crisis.

Writes HuffPost:
Since 1984, Gingrich has launched 12 politically oriented organizations and initiatives based in Washington. Of those, five have been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the House Ethics Committee, another five closed down with debts totaling more than $500,000, and two were subject to legal action.
Gingrich's presidential campaign finances have come under fire, leading one staffer to admit Gingrich spends incessantly and ignores warnings from staffers about it.

"The best way to say it is that Newt has no brakes and no rear view mirror," observed one former adviser who still speaks highly of Gingrich, but who requested anonymity because he is forbidden from speaking to the media in his current job.

"So he never pulls back, and he never learns from the past."

You can read the entire article here.

Gingrich, after not having one presidential primary, plans to stay in the race for the presidency, and is anticipating next week's Super Tuesday event.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Get Your White House Easter Egg Roll Tickets

Ticket Lottery Opens Today!

The White House announced the beginning of the ticket lottery and sale of souvenir Easter eggs for the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll, starring the ever popular White House dog, Bo.

This year’s White House Easter Egg Roll is focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme,“Let's Go, Let's Play, Let's Move!” All of the activities will encourage children to lead healthy and active lives, which is of the focus of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, a national campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

White House Easter Egg Roll tickets on sale now!  Bo, not included.
The ticket lottery will open today, Thursday, March 1st at 10:00 AM EST and will close on Monday, March 5th at 10:00 AM EST.

To enter the lottery, go to www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll. Tickets are free of charge and cannot be sold.

All lottery participants will be notified via email of the results on Monday, March 12th.

About the 2012 Easter Egg Roll
This year’s souvenir eggs come in four bold colors – purple, blue, green, orange – and include the stamped signatures of the President and First Lady. A commemorative red “Bo” egg featuring the First Dog’s paw print is included only in the 2012 5-pack Collector’s Egg Set.

Celebrating this year’s Bo egg, the First Dog himself stars in a special video for the White House Easter Egg Roll which can be viewed here.

To place your commemorative egg order, please go to www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll, and follow the link to the online Easter egg store.

Andrew Brietbart Found Dead

Andrew Brietbart, the conservative blogger best known in Washington, D.C. for his malicious manipulation of a video of then USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, has been found dead.

Two years ago, Brietbart convinced millions of viewers of his video that Ms. Sherrod provided unacceptable service white farmers by saying she wasn't going to help them save their farm land.
Sherrod was immediately fired, upon viewing of the video by her employer. It was later found that Sherrod never made such comments, but that Brietbart extracted pieces of her comment to make it sound as such.

Sherrod was offered her job back, which she declined, and reports indicated the Sherrod had planned to sue Brietbart.

No word on the outcome, or the if an original suit was ever filed.
Breitbart's death came as a surprise to many, including presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
"That's horrible, anybody know what happened?", asked a shocked Santorum of reporters who broke the news earlier today to him. Santorum called Brietbart's death "a huge loss for the country."
Santorum (who probably will slip further in the polls now after having made that ridiculous statement) may be the in the minority with those feelings, as many people on Twitter reacted differently with tweets that read:


Brietbart, who spoke at last month's CPAC event in Washington, was 43.  He was found near his home in Los Angeles near his Westwood home. An autopsy is being planned.  No cause of his death is known at this time. 

However there are several speculations out there.