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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obama Names Two to National Council on the Humanities

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

·        Camila A. Alire– Member, National Council on the Humanities
·        Ramón Saldívar–Member, National Council on the Humanities

President Obama said, “I am confident that these outstanding individuals will greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Dr. Camila A. Alire, Nominee for Member, National Council on the Humanities
Dr. Camila A. Alireis Dean Emerita at both the University of New Mexico and Colorado State University. She is also professor of practice in the Managerial Leadership Ph.D. program within Simmons College’s School of Library and Information Science since 2007 and as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver since 2011. From 2009 to 2010, Dr. Alire served as President of the American Library Association. Earlier in her career, she served as Dean of the University of New Mexico’s libraries from 2002 to 2006 and as Dean of Colorado State University’s libraries from 1997 to 2001. She has co-written a number of books, includingAcademic Librarianship,Serving Latino Communities, andAcademic Librarians as Emotionally Intelligent Leaders. Dr. Alire served as Chair of the Colorado Humanities Board of Directors from 1999 to 2000. She received a B.A. from Adams State College, an M.L.S. from the University of Denver, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Ramón Saldívar, Nominee for Member, National Council on the Humanities
Dr. Ramón Saldívar is the Hoagland Family Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Milligan Family Fellow in Undergraduate Studies at Stanford University. Dr. Saldívar’s research focuses on Chicano and Chicana studies, literary theory and post-colonial literature. His publications include Figural Language in the Novel: The Flowers of Speech from Cervantes to Joyce, Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference and The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary.  He served on the Editorial Board ofAmerican Literature and Modern Fiction Studies from 2003 to 2007, on the Board of Governors of the University of California Humanities Research Institute from 1994 to 1997, and on the National Council of the American Studies Association from 1993 to 1995.  Dr. Saldívar received the 2011 National Humanities Medal.  He earned his B.A from the University of Texas, Austin and his Ph.D. from Yale University.

More Dems vs Rep: Response To SCOTUS Healthcare Ruling

DC Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry:

“As a member of the Committee on Health, I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Barry, who has struggled with his own healthcare issues said, “The Affordable Care Act expands health care coverage for low-income populations across the country such as Ward 8, which suffers from the greatest health disparity in the city due to lack of health care coverage, resources and poverty. Ward 8 residents and other low-income communities dis-proportionately suffer from diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Our children deserve better. Our parents deserve better. Our seniors deserve better.

“In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to put families first–protecting the lives of thousands of Washingtonians and millions of Americans. As the chairman of the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, it makes my heart proud that the price of prescription drugs will be reduced for our seniors–that patients on Medicare will continue to receive free preventive services, and by 2014 all Americans will be guaranteed health care despite pre-existing conditions. Today’s landmark decision is a victory for all Americans."
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC):
“The decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is one of only about a half-dozen memorable Supreme Court cases in the history of this country. I have believed since the case was argued that Chief Justice John Roberts would be the swing vote, not Justice Anthony Kennedy, because Kennedy tipped his hand during oral arguments. In abandoning his conservative colleagues on the bench, the Chief Justice acted judiciously, not politically, exercising the presumption that a law passed by Congress is constitutional. I applaud the administration and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. for their understanding that the case for the individual mandate not only required briefing and arguing the Commerce Clause, but also the virtually unlimited taxing power of Congress, the sleeper tool in the case. As the House and Senate worked on the Affordable Care Act, members referred to paying a ‘penalty’ for not purchasing health insurance because Republicans have made ‘tax’ a dirty word in Congress. The court today ignored the talking points on both sides and looked to the law and to the reality of the virtually unlimited taxing power of Congress that has long been used to encourage behavior, whether it is raising taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking, or taxing individuals who choose not to obtain health insurance.”
 Republicans feel abandoned.
"The Supreme Court has abandoned us," Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said.

"Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing," Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said. "I stand with Justice Kennedy that the entire act should have been held invalid."

More here.

Affordable Care Act Upheld

"Our Supreme Court has spoken" -  Sen Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV)

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision today, upheld the entire healthcare provision put forth by President Obama, with Chief Justice John Roberts providing the decisive vote.  Ironically, then Sen Barack Obama, Joe Biden & Sen Harry Reid voted against Roberts for Chief Justice.  All three men, today, couldn't be happier about the ruling.

President Obama, remarking from the East Room said, the court "reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin."

The Affordable Care Act, under the Obama presidency, Ten Things You Now Get To Keep:

"If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance", said the president.  Explaining the existing plan the president continued his remarks saying, "This law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms, a provision that's already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care."

[Find out if the Affordable Care Act benefit you.]

Speaking to reporters after the decision was announced, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "Soon, every man woman & child in America will have access to health insurance they can afford & vital care they need."

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitch Romney called the plan "bad medicine", and "bad policy".

Despite the courts ruling Romney said his number one mission as president, should he be elected, will be to repeal the president's healthcare bill.

"On Day One, I will work to repeal Obamacare to stop the government's takeover of our health care and intrusion in our lives. I will push for real reform to our health care system that focuses on helping patients and protecting taxpayers."
Wait.  Romney wants to reform healthcare that focues on helping patients? (This is why people can't understand where Romney is coming from, or what he says).
Other Republicans also weigh in on the ruling.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the ruling "doesn’t mark the end of the debate". House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the House would schedule a vote for repeal the week of July 9th.

While the two parties go back and forth on the issue, one thing that remains constant:  the constant rising cost of getting well.

A new docmentary "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" sheds light on how the health care industry as a whole demonizes medicine practiced in the United States, and sheds light on the big business, for profit, health care system. Despite the number of procedures done in the United States, the U.S. ranks the lowest in life expectancy.

 "We have a disease-care system, and we have a very profitable disease-care system", says medical journalist Sharon Brownlee. "And the disease-care system, actually, I mean, if it really was honest with itself, it doesn’t want you to die, and it doesn’t want you to get well. It just wants you to keep coming back for your care of your chronic disease.'

The documentary, can be seen online at

Side bar Q:  What does Dr. Oz think of this?

Monday, June 25, 2012

From Vet To Cop

The Obama Administration awards “Vets to Cops” hiring grants as part of Veterans Job Corps initiative.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions.  The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts.  All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001.  In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the President announced that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.

More than $111 million is being awarded to local public safety agencies across the country.  The list of this year’s grantees includes Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Trenton, NJ; Alameda County and Los Angeles, CA; Akron, OH; and Tacoma, WA.  The COPS Office will work with transition centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.  For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website

"Since we got into office, the President and I have been committed to helping our returning heroes find jobs and transition back into civilian life. A lot of them want to keep serving now that they’re back, and these COPS Grants help give them that chance," saidVice President Joe Biden.

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” saidBernard Melekian, COPS Office Director.  “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.  Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates.  An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.

Today’s announcement builds on several steps President Obama has taken to support veterans in developing skills and finding work, including by: creating new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans; challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013; helping veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and licenses; increasing access to intensive reemployment services; developing online tools to boost veteran employment; and increasing hiring of veterans in healthcare-related fields.

Some would argue that letting veterans who have done multiple tours of duty in war torn areas (and suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD) into law enforcement is a bad idea.  Veterans with PTSD are often reactionary both in crisis and non crisis situations, and are capable of losing their temper in a split second.

Opponents to the idea believe that allowing such men and women in law enforcement will add to the already growing display of police brutality cases, especially against minorities and people of color.

“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. "At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service - to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Who's Watching The House? We Are!

Here are items we're following at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today Vice President Biden hosted an event to launch a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) at the White House.

The Vice President was joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal, Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Andy Katz of ESPN.  Featured in the PSA are David Beckham, and Eli Manning the President, the Vice President, and other professional athletes and role models who deliver the message that dating violence is unacceptable. 

The PSA, 1 is 2 Many, which also includes New York Knick standout Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, David Beckham, and Joe Torre will air on various television networks and online platforms this summer.

Click here to view it. 

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Creative Arts Center in Pueblo, Colorado today at a campaign event where she about restoring the American values she grew up knowing.

"We’re doing this because we want all of our children to be able to go to good schools, you know?   You know those schools -- the kind of schools that inspire them; the kind of schools that push them to be their best and prepare them for the jobs and careers of the future.  We want that for all of our kids.

We want our parents and our grandparents to be able to retire with dignity, because after a lifetime of hard work, these folks in our lives should be able to enjoy their golden years, don’t you agree? 
We’re doing this because we want to restore that basic middle-class security for our families, because we believe that in America folks shouldn’t go bankrupt because they get sick.  Not here.   People shouldn’t lose their homes because someone loses a job.  We believe that responsibility should be rewarded and hard work should pay off.  We believe that everyone should do their fair share, but they should play by the same rules. 
And the truth is, these are basic American values, right?  This isn’t new.  These are the values that so many of us were raised with, including myself."

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

·        David “Mas” Masumoto – Member, National Council on the Arts
·        Polly Trottenberg–Under Secretary for Policy, Department of Transportation

President Obama said, “Our nation will be greatly served by the talent and expertise these individuals bring to their new roles. I am grateful they have agreed to serve in this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

More on Holder's Contempt Charge

You've read what speaker Nancy Pelosi said about Congress holding Attorney General Eric Holder in comtempt for not releasing requested documents to the House Oversight Committee. And you've heard what House Speaker John Boehner had to say.
Attorney General Eric Holder talks to reporters on the Hill.

Now, read what members of heads of several Congressional caucuses have to say.
Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II  - Congressional Black Caucus
"This is a sad day in the history of the United States Congress. Today, we see the great lengths to which some of my colleagues will go in an attempt to discredit the Attorney General--a member of President Obama's Administration--as we near the 2012 election. For over 15 months, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice has cooperated with the Committee’s inquiry.  The Obama Administration is now rightfully asserting executive privilege over the narrow subset of documents that remain at issue--the same process President Bush used six times during his presidency.

 "Just yesterday, the Attorney General participated in a bicameral meeting with Chairman Issa, Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, and Ranking Member Cummings in a good faith effort to fully satisfy the Committee’s information requests, which Department officials have been working for months to fulfill, but somehow their work is not enough. The United States House of Representatives has never in its history held an Attorney General in contempt.

"During this critical moment in our nation's history, the attention of our country's chief law enforcement officer should be focused on addressing ongoing law enforcement challenges and championing real issues, instead of being distracted by manufactured, partisan political ones. This is an extremely low moment in our body politic. The cause for civility has been met by an unnecessary and unfortunate partisanship."

Chairman Charles A. Gonzalez - Hispanic Caucus
“Congress must exercise its authority responsibly and in the interest of the American people, not to score partisan political points. The Justice Department and Attorney General Holder have provided the Committee leadership with unprecedented access to the documents it requested; yet Rep. Issa refuses to be reasonable. When partisan advantage is the primary motivation, it's really the American people who suffer.

“Attorney General Holder continues to act in good faith, but the Republican chairman of the committee has made a decision to pursue the extreme measure of initiating contempt proceedings. This is a waste of time for the Committee, the DOJ and the American people.”

Chairwoman Judy Chu - Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
“What the American people are witnessing today is politics at its worst.  As we inch closer and closer to the 2012 election, Congressional Republicans are trying to blemish the career of a respected public servant in an attempt to discredit the Administration.

“Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice have already provided thousands of pages of pertinent documents and testimonies from numerous top officials. Just yesterday, the Attorney General met with Committee Members in an effort to meet their requests.  He is, and has been, cooperating in good faith, despite the egregious charges being leveled against him.

“Congress has never before held an Attorney General in contempt, and this situation clearly does not meet the threshold for setting such a bold new precedent.  The Attorney General and the U.S. Congress have more important issues to address, and these political distractions only leave the American people less safe.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Congress Holds AG Eric Holder in Contempt

Congress kept the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder for several months, asking Holder to make available several thousand pages of documents pertaining to the Department of Justice's Fast and Furious program which alleges several US firearms have made their way to Mexican drug cartels.

Holder has made several appearances in front of the House Oversight Committee over the past year to explain the program and most notably answer questions about any cover up and wrongdoing within the program.

Said Holder of the allegations, "From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later. That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration."

Today, President Obama executed his executive privilege to withhold documents a House committee had been seeking, giving more evidence to the oversight committee that there must be a cover up.

House Speaker John Boehner remarked earlier today on the president's decision.

"Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding 'Fast and Furious' were confined to the Department of Justice. The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed," said Boehner's press secretary Brendan Buck. "The administration has always insisted that wasn't the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?"

More comments from Attorney General Holder

Tactics began with the previous administration.
“In recent months, the Justice Department has made unprecedented accommodations to respond to information requests by Chairman Issa about misguided law enforcement tactics that began in the previous administration and allowed illegal guns to be taken into Mexico.  Department professionals have spent countless hours compiling and providing thousands of documents -- nearly 8,000 -- to Chairman Issa and his committee.   My staff has had numerous meetings with congressional staff to try and accommodate these requests and yesterday, I met with Chairman Issa to offer additional internal Department documents and information that would satisfy what he identified as the Committee’s single outstanding question.

An unnecessary action
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa has rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation.  Instead, he has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch.  This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer.  It's an election-year tactic intended to distract attention -- and, as a result -- has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice:  Protecting the American people. 

Who is right? Who is wrong?
“Simply put, any claims that the Justice Department has been unresponsive to requests for information are untrue.  From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later. That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration. 

What Holder did
“I have spent most of my career in law enforcement and worked closely with brave agents who put their lives on the line every day.  I know the sacrifices they make, so as soon as allegations of gunwalking came to my attention – and well before Chairman Issa expressed any interest in this issue -- I ordered the practice stopped.  I made necessary personnel changes in the Department's leadership and instituted policy changes to ensure better oversight of significant investigations.  And, I directed the Department's Inspector General to open a comprehensive investigation.  That investigation is ongoing, and the American people and Congress can count on it to produce a tough, independent review of the facts.

Question of the day.  Eric Holder is the first US Attorney General to be held in contempt by a House oversight committee since when?

Monday, June 18, 2012

First Lady Michelle Gives Commencement Address at Brother's School

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement address at her brother's school where he coaches men's basketball, Oregon State.

We caught up with Mrs. Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, before she became First Lady Obama, back in 2008 during her brother's team's visit to a local DC university. Click here.

First Lady Obama, with her remarks at Oregon State, including the audience's laughter and applause, are below. 


Office of the First Lady
                     For Immediate Release                              June 17, 2012


Reser Stadium
Corvallis, Oregon

4:53 P.M. PDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  I can’t tell you how much this means.  I am so proud to receive this honorary degree from this phenomenal university.  And I am thrilled to be here today to celebrate the Oregon State University class of 2012!  Go Beaves!  (Applause.)

I want to start by thanking President Ray for that very kind introduction and for the degree.  I also want to thank Provost Randhawa.  I also want to recognize Mayor Julie Manning, who’s here, and all of the outstanding faculty, staff, administrators and university leaders here at OSU.

I also want to acknowledge Tonga as well, and all of the student speakers who are going to be on the stage today.  We are so proud of you all.  And of course, to the stars of today’s show, the class of 2012 -- congratulations!  (Applause.)

We are all so proud of you.  We are proud of how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve grown, and all that you’ve achieved during your time here at Oregon State.  And I know that none of you did this alone.  As the President said earlier, you all are here today in large part because of those beautiful people up in the bleachers -– the folks who pushed you, and believed in you, and answered the phone every time you called, even when you were just calling for money.  (Laughter.)

So, graduates, again, let’s give another round of applause to your family, especially to all of the fathers out there on this beautiful Father’s Day.  Today is their day, too.  (Applause.) 

Now, like all of you, I am here today because of my family.  As you know, Craig Robinson, your men’s basketball coach, is my big brother.  (Applause.)  And last fall, Craig called me up and he said that if I didn’t speak at this year’s commencement, he was going to tell mom on me.  (Laughter.)  And since our mother now lives with me, that threat actually still carries some weight.  (Laughter.)

But seriously, I’m not here today just because Craig has turned the Obama family into Beaver Believers, which he has.  (Laughter and applause.)  I am also here, proudly, because of everything this university is doing for this country.  You have built one of the most sustainable campuses in America.  You’re conducting groundbreaking research on everything from agriculture, to nanotechnology, to childhood obesity.  You are serving others in so many ways -- tutoring children, joining our armed forces, fighting hunger and disease here in America and around the world.

So let me just say, I can see why Craig feels so at home here at OSU.  Because in so many ways, the values you all embody are the values that he and I were raised with.

Craig and I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and our family was very close –- I mean literally close, real close.  My mom, my dad, Craig and I, we lived in a little-bitty apartment, and for years Craig and I shared a bedroom divided by a wooden partition to give us the illusion of separate rooms.  And at night, Craig and I would whisper to each other through the cracks in that partition until one of us feel asleep, or mom yelled and said, shut up, be quiet -- one or the other.  (Laughter.)

But while we didn’t have much space, our little home was bursting with love.  We spent lots of time together as a family laughing and sharing stories at dinner each night; playing board games, card games for hours, huddled around the kitchen table.  We enjoyed the simple pleasures in life, like getting our report cards because good grades meant pizza for dinner -- that was a highlight.  Trying to hold in our giggles as Craig put shaving cream on my dad’s glasses while he napped.  Sleeping on the back porch on hot summer nights when the temperature in our little apartment became unbearable.

But it wasn’t all fun and games growing up.  Our parents were big believers in everyone doing their part around the house.  Craig often compared Saturday chores to boot camp.  And my parents were even more serious about our academics.  My mom taught Craig and I to read long before kindergarten started, and she spent hours volunteering in our neighborhood public school, making sure we got the education she knew we deserved.  See, that was the kind of childhood we had. 

And one day -- I will never forget, when my brother was about 10, he asked my dad a simple question.  He said, “Dad, are we rich?”  To answer this question, my dad took his next paycheck from his job at the city water plant, and instead of depositing that check, he cashed it in small bills.  He then came home and dumped out all that money on the kitchen table.  Craig was impressed -– with all that money, he thought, we must be rich.

But then my Dad started explaining where all the money went each month:  little bit for rent, that much for gas, this much for groceries.  And by the time he was done, there wasn’t a penny left on that table.  And Craig was shocked, and so was I.  I mean, here we were, two kids growing up in a family that was just barely working class, but we were convinced that we were wealthy.  We knew it.

And, graduates, that’s what I’d like to talk with you about today.  I’d like to talk about what Craig and I learned from our family about leading a rich life no matter how much money you have.  And while there are plenty of lessons I could share, there are three that I’d like to emphasize today.

The first:  No matter what struggles or setbacks you face in your life, focus on what you have, not on what you’re missing.

My dad taught us this lesson every day by how he lived his life.  My dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when my brother and I were still very young.  And as he got sicker it got harder for him to walk, and it took him longer to dress himself in the morning.  My dad had been an athlete all of his life; he was a boxer and a swimmer in high school.  So it must have been hard for him to feel his body declining -- to go from being an active, vibrant young man to barely being able to make it up the stairs.

But if he was in pain, if he was at all disappointed with his fate, he never let on.  He never stopped smiling and laughing.  And even as he struggled to prop himself up on his crutches to teach us to catch a ball, or hold a bat, or throw a punch, no matter how bad he was feeling, he hardly ever missed a day of work because he was determined to be our family’s provider and to give me and Craig the kind of opportunities he’d never dreamed of for himself.

And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how our dad -- and how much he sacrificed for me and Craig to be the people we are today.  And today, as First Lady, I see that same spirit, that same kind of sacrifice, in people I meet all across this country.  I see it in parents like my dad, struggling to support their families.  I see it in students like all of you, working so hard to get an education.  I see it in young people who are serving this country in uniform, facing challenges that most of us couldn’t even imagine.  And I’ve seen this firsthand -- the sacrifices that our American heroes are making.

As First Lady, I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of visiting wounded warriors in military hospitals all across this country.  Many of them are your age or younger, and they have suffered terrible injuries.  Some of them have lost a limb -- some of them have lost two limbs, some three.  They’ve endured dozens of surgeries; they’ve spent months learning to walk again and talk again.

But despite the challenges, they persevere.  They aren’t looking back.  They aren’t dwelling on what they’ve lost.  Instead, they are making plans for their lives, they’re reimagining their futures.  They tell me that they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run and they’re going to run marathons.

I recently met a young Navy Lieutenant named Brad Snyder who’d been blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan.  He competed in this year’s Warrior Games as a runner and a swimmer.  And of his service he said this -- he said, “I am not going to let my blindness build a brick wall around me.  I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

And, graduates, more than anything else, that will be the true measure of your success -- not how well you do when you’re healthy and happy and everything is going according to plan, but what you do when life knocks you to the ground and all your plans go right out the window.  In those darkest moments, you will have a choice:  Do you dwell on everything you’ve lost?  Or do you focus on what you still have, and find a way to move forward with passion, with determination, and with joy?

And I know that many of you in this graduating class have already faced this choice in your own lives -- Tonga shared with us today.  But there is also one of today's graduates, Vanessa Vasquez.

Vanessa’s parents are agricultural workers with a grade school education, and she came to Oregon State determined to build a better life for her four-month-old daughter.  In addition to being a single mom, she's juggled a full course load and a part-time job.  But it all paid off, and today she’s receiving her degree in Construction Engineering and Management.  (Applause.)  Yes, indeed.  Her advice to other young people is very simple.  She says, “with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.”

And then there’s another member of the class of 2012, Nicolas Sitts, who’s earning his degree in Chemical Engineering.  I understand that as a member of OSU’s Solar Vehicle Team, Nicolas spent two years painstakingly building a solar car.  But when he took it out for a test drive last summer, it caught fire and exploded, and Nicolas sustained second and third degree burns on his arm, face and leg.  But instead of throwing in the towel, within a month, the team was back at work, building another, hopefully less explosive car.  (Laughter.) 

Vanessa and Nicolas and the OSU Solar Team didn’t give up when things got hard.  Instead, they just dug deeper, and worked harder, and refused to give up on the success that they dreamed of.  And that actually brings me to the second lesson I want to share about leading a rich life, and that is to define success on your own terms.

Now, growing up, my parents always told me and Craig to be true to ourselves.  But really, when you’re a kid, it’s hard to know what that means, right?  And as you grow older, often it’s just easier to grab for those gold stars and try to get that brass ring.  And Craig and I both know this from experience.   

After graduating from college, we did everything we thought we should do to be successful -- Craig went to business school, I went to law school, we got prestigious jobs at an investment bank and me at a law firm.  We soon had all the traditional markers of success:  the fat paycheck, the fancy office, the impressive lines on our resumés.  But the truth is, neither of us was all that fulfilled.

I didn’t want to be up in some tall office building writing legal memos.  I wanted to be down on the ground helping the folks I grew up with.  I was living the dream, but it wasn’t my dream.  And Craig felt the same way, unbeknownst to me.

So eventually we quit those corporate jobs.  I went to work in the mayor’s office; Craig got a job coaching basketball.  And we both took salary cuts that made our mother cringe.  (Laughter.)  But we were excited about our new careers.  We looked forward to going to work every morning, and we both realized that success isn’t about how your life looks to others, it’s about how it feels to you.   We realized that being successful isn’t about being impressive, it’s about being inspired. 

And that’s what it means to be your true self.  It means looking inside yourself and being honest about what you truly enjoy doing.  Because graduates, I can promise you that you will never be happy plodding through someone else’s idea of success.  Success is only meaningful –- and enjoyable –- if it feels like your own.

But of course, a successful career alone does not make for a rich life.  As you’ve all learned from the friends you’ve made and the relationships you’ve formed here at OSU, what makes life truly rich are the people you share it with.     

And that brings me to the final lesson I want to offer today, and that is, wherever you go, whatever you do, don’t leave behind any unfinished business with the people you love.  You see, our dad died of complications from his MS when I was in my mid-twenties.  And let me tell you, for months I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I had this physical sense of grief, this emptiness in my life that I just couldn’t fill.

But as hard as it was to lose my dad, and as much as I still miss him every day, I knew that I had never missed a chance to tell my Dad I loved him, and he’d always done the same for me.  And whenever Craig and I saw him struggling to walk and we worried that life was getting too hard for him, my Mom would always reassure us that he was so proud of us, so proud to be our father that he felt like the luckiest guy ever to walk the earth.

And all of that gave me a sense of peace –- a sense that I had no unfinished business with my Dad.  And that’s what allowed me to move forward.

So graduates, as you make your way in the world, I urge you not to leave behind any unfinished business.  If you’re in a fight with someone, make up.  If you’re holding a grudge, let it go.  If you hurt someone, apologize.  If you love someone, let them know.

And don’t just tell people that you love them, show them.  And that means showing up.  It means being truly present in the lives of the people you care about.  “Liking” them on Facebook doesn't count -- (laughter) -- nor does following them on Twitter.  (Laughter.)  What counts is making the time to be there in person.

Because I can promise you that years from now, you will not remember the texts you've exchanged with your friends here at OSU, but you will remember how they cheered you on at your game, right?  You will remember how they brought you chocolate and spent hours comforting you when your boyfriend or girlfriend dumped you.  What jerks.  (Laughter.)  You will remember all the hours spent diligently studying in the library -- that one's for the parents.  (Laughter.)

But seriously, those are the memories that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.  Those are the experiences that make you who you are.  And that is as true for me today as it was back when Craig and I were growing up in that little apartment in Chicago.

You see, when I come out here to Corvallis and I visit my family, I’m not the First Lady.  I’m Coach Robinson’s little sister.  I’m “Miche” to Craig and to my niece and nephews.  I sleep on the pullout couch in Craig’s guest room, and my daughters pile into the living room with their cousins for a sleepover.  It reminds me of old times with everyone huddled together in the kitchen, laughing and teasing and driving each other crazy, telling stories late into the night.  And just like when we were little, Craig and I feel very, very rich.

So graduates, that is my wish for all of you today.  I wish for you a life rich in all the things that matter.  I wish for you work that inspires you.  I wish for you experience -- those experiences that help you learn and grow.  I wish for you people who love you and support you every step of the way.  And I can tell from the energy in this stadium you have all that, and you will have more.  

So congratulations again to all of you on all that you've achieved.  And now, the wind has started -- (laughter) -- so it's time for me to end.

Thank you all, and God bless.

                        END                5:14 P.M. PDT

More Reaction On President Obama's DREAM for Latinos

Democracy Now has reaction from Latinos on President Obama's latest effort to shield the Latino population from being deported from U.S. soil.

The report also has a Washington Post reporter speaking out, actually coming out, about his illegal status and also working and going to school in the United States.

Watch below as Representative Luis Gutierrez, head of the Latino Democractic Caucus  speaks on the subject of immigration. 

Gutierrez represents a district in Chicago the hometown of the president where the city has shown an increase of Black on Black crime this year. Last weekend nearly 8 people were killed, and scores of others wounded in a deadly display of random gunfire across the city.

While many Latinos take to the street to celebrate what many see as a victory for the Latin American community, the African American community, again, take to the streets to have their concerns addressed, protesting in New York against the city's unlawful stop and frisk practice whick allows the illegal stop of seizure of unarmed, innocent young African  Americans by police officers in that city.

Ironically, the man who may have brought to light the illegal practice of modern day police brutality of African Americans under the hands of white police officers, Rodney King, died on Saturday.  He was just 47 years old.

Not a good start of the week for African Americans as famous shoe company, Adidas, launches their controversial 'slave shoe', a basketball shoe with chains around the ankle.  The company's Facebook page invites buyers to "Tighten up your style with the JS Roundhouse Mids".

June 19, 2012

Adidas pulls its line of gay designer Jeremy Scott's Roundhouse Mids.  What were they (Scott & Adidas) thinking when making this shoe? Did they actually think some African Americans wouldn't be in an uproar over this?

We say some African Americans, because the reaction to the news is mixed.  Adidas' PR department claims the shoes had nothing to do with slavery.    

Yeah right.  

And to the reader of this column, we know we went off on a tangent:  from immigration to slave shoes, but that just gives more credence to the fact of how the African American community is still being disrespected.

Friday, June 15, 2012

President Obama Hosts Another Celebration for Latinos (and Gays)

Mending our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just.

President Barack Obama gave US workers a slap in the face today when he announced that illegal immigrants will be able to stay legally in America and find work.

Work, that for millions of Americans who are here legally, can't find.

This is the president's latest gift to the Latina community.

Throughout his presidency he has consistently pandered to the demands Latinas.  He's spoken at several events featuring Latinos such as the Forum On American Latino Heritage, and the Congressio​nal Hispanic Caucus Institute 34th Annual Awards Gala.

Speaking in July of 2011 to the National Council of La Raza the president made remarks about having many Latinos working in his Cabinet. 

"Right off the bat, I should thank you because I have poached quite a few of your alumni to work in my administration.  They're all doing outstanding work.  Raul Yzaguirre, my ambassador to the Dominican Republic: Latinos serving at every level of my administration.  We've got young people right out of college in the White House.  We've got the first Latina Cabinet Secretary in history, Hilda Solis.  So we couldn't be prouder of the work that so many folks who've been engaged with La Raza before, the handiwork that they're doing with our administration.  And ... we're extraordinarily proud of someone who is doing outstanding work on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor."

Has the first African American U.S. president ever lauded the number of African Americans working in his Administration?

With every Medal of Honor, with every Medal of Freedom, President Obama has at least one Latina in the mix. On next Friday (June 22, 2012) the president will give remarks at the The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ Annual Conference.

His latest effort in acknowledging the Latina community?

"Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children,  do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization."

The work that Latinos do in America, some have argued, are jobs some Americans may not be doing, or want to do, such as food and lawn service. However, more Latinos are working in the area of construction and home building than ever before.  African American farmers were phased out of the farming industry by not being able to get farm subsidies, loans and grants due to unfair business practices of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past four decades.

Today African American owned construction companies are seeing less opportunities in the construction business due to companies hiring Latino workers.

Yet the president thinks "it is the right thing to do" to afford illegal immigrants an opportunity.

Fairness for all, right?.

"As I said in my speech on the economy yesterday", said Obama, it makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans -- they’ve been raised as Americans; understand themselves to be part of this country -- to expel these young people who want to staff our labs, or start new businesses, or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents -- or because of the inaction of politicians."

We have seen this president speak, on a national stage, about the issues that plague the Latino community.  The Dream Act is one of those issues.

Said the president, "And I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away."

African Americans are waiting for him to do the same, "right away".   African Americans need jobs "right away".  African Americans need the racist New York City practice of Stop and Frisk to be abolished "right away".  African Americans need to have Florida's Stand Your Ground Law that allows young African American men and women to be killed on the spot abolished "right away".

While the president strives to "mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just", policies currently in place that negatively affect the African American community need severe mending.  Yet those items are never placed on a national stage for discussion by the president.

Courting the gay community.
The gay community received the support of the president, on a national level, when he announced his support of gay marriage.

"I believe gay couples should be able to get married." 

Those remarks have the country at odds between civil rights groups and the clergy.

Tonight, the president spoke at a reception celebrating June Gay Pride month where he said the following:

"Now, each June since I took office, we have gathered to pay tribute to the generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who devoted their lives to our most basic of ideals –equality not just for some, but for all.  Together we’ve marked major milestones like the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when a group of brave citizens held their ground against brutal discrimination.  Together, we’ve honored courageous pioneers who, decades ago, came out and spoke out; who challenged unjust laws and destructive prejudices.  Together, we’ve stood resolute; unwavering in our commitment to advance this movement and to build a more perfect union. Now, I’ve said before that I would never counsel patience; that it wasn’t right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell women to be patient a century ago, or African Americans to be patient a half century ago. 

After decades of inaction and indifference, you have every reason and right to push, loudly and forcefully, for equality. But three years ago, I also promised you this: I said that even if it took more time than we would like, we would see progress, we would see success, we would see real and lasting change.  And together, that’s what we’re witnessing. For every person who lost a loved one at the hand of hate, we ended a decade of delay and finally made the Matthew Shepard Act the land of the law.  For every person with HIV who was treated like an outcast, we lifted the HIV entry ban.  And because of that important step, next month, for the first time in more than two decades, the International AIDS conference will be held right here in the United States.  For every American diagnosed with HIV who couldn’t get access to treatment, we put forward a National HIV/AIDS strategy -- because who you are should never affect whether you get life-extending care. 

Marjorie Hill, the head of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, is here.  GMHC has saved so many lives, and this year they are celebrating their 30th anniversary.  So I want to give them and all these organizations who work to prevent and treat HIV a big round of applause.  Give it up for Marjorie and everybody else.  For every partner or spouse denied the chance to comfort a loved one in the hospital, to be by their side at their greatest hour of need, we said, enough.  Hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid – and that is most of them -– now have to treat LGBT patients just like any other patient.  For every American denied insurance just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we passed health insurance reform, which will ban that kind of discrimination.

We’ve expanded benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity for workers in the federal government. We’ve supported efforts in Congress to end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  And as we wait for that law to be cast aside, we’ve stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts.  We’ve put forward a strategy to promote and protect the rights of LGBT communities all over the world, because, as Secretary Clinton said back in December, gay rights are human rights.  And, of course, last year we finally put an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that nobody would ever have to ever again hide who they love in order to serve the country they love.  And I know we've got some military members who are here today.  

I'm happy to see you with your partners here.  We thank you for your service.  We thank your families for their service, and we share your joy at being able to come with your spouses or partners here to the White House with your Commander-in-Chief.  Now, we know we've got more to do.  Americans may feel more comfortable bringing their partners to the office barbecue but we're still waiting for a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination act.   Congress needs to pass that legislation, so that no American is ever fired simply for being gay or transgender.
Americans may be able serve openly in the military, but many are still growing up alone and afraid; picked on, pushed around for being different.  And that’s why my administration has worked to raise awareness about bullying.  And I know -- I just had a chance to see Lee Hirsch, the director of BULLY, who is here.  And we thank him for his work on this issue.  I want to acknowledge all the young leaders here today who are making such a big difference in their classrooms and in their communities.  And Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I've indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue. 

So we still have a long way to go, but we will get there.  We'll get there because of all of you.  We’ll get there because of all of the ordinary Americans who every day show extraordinary courage.  We’ll get there because of every man and woman and activist and ally who is moving us forward by the force of their moral arguments, but more importantly, by the force of their example.

And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I promise you, you won't just have a friend in the White House, you will have a fellow advocate  for an America where no matter what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can dream big dreams and dream as openly as you want."

Needless to say, the president received a rousing applause before, during and after his remarks.

It's a campaign year.  It's re-election year.  We find that every group is included, and their issues are taken into consideration, and addressed on a national stage, except for African Americans.

Does the president feel he has the support of African Americans in this year's re-election, because he is African American?
I'd like to, for once, see the president come out of the Oval Office into the Rose Garden and speak directly to the media on an issue, any issue, that affects African Americans - directly. I'd like him to speak on issues concerning the poor.    I'd like also for him to address homelessness, especially since its so prevalent right here in the Nation's Capital, and a mere stone's through away from where he lives.

Latinos, gays, Muslims, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, military, women, will all have to be placed on the back burner.

The issue of the 21st century in America, yet to be addressed by the current Administration, is the issue of color.  And this needs to be addressed, "effective immediately".

It is the right thing to do.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Readout of President Obama's Meeting with Phillipino President Aquinoo

President Obama met with Phillipino president Benigno Aquino yesterday in the Oval Office where the two discussed US-Phillipines issues.

The official remarks, made available by the White House press office, are below.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It is a great pleasure to welcome President Aquino to the Oval Office and to the White House.

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him, most recently during my Asia trip, when we met most recently in Bali. And at that time, we discussed how important the U.S.-Philippine relationship was, the historic ties, the 60 years of a mutual defense treaty, the extraordinary links between Filipino-Americans that have brought our two countries so closely together.  And we pledged to work on a whole host of issues that would continue to strengthen and deepen the relationship for the 21st century.

We talked about how we could work on security issues, on economic issues, on people-to-people exchanges, and on a whole host of regional issues.  And I just want to thank President Aquino for his excellent cooperation, because we've made a great deal of progress since that time.

On economic issues, the Philippines is the recipient of a Millennium Challenge grant that is helping to foster greater development and opportunity within the Philippines.  We have a partnership for growth that is working on how we can make sure that we are structuring a relationship of expanding trade and commerce between our two countries.

I want to congratulate President Aquino for the work that he's done on the Open Government Partnership that is consistent with his campaign to root out corruption that can facilitate greater economic development within the Philippines. 

And on security and military issues, we had discussions about how we can continue to consult closely together, to engage in training together, work on a range of regional issues together -- all of which is consistent with the announced pivot by the United States back to Asia, and reminding everybody that, in fact, the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power.

Throughout all these exchanges and all the work that we've done I've always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner.  And I think that as a consequence of the meeting today in which we discussed not only military and economic issues, but also regional issues -- for example, trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region -- that I'm very confident that we're going to see continued friendship and strong cooperation between our two countries.  

So, Mr. President, thank you for visiting.  We are very proud of the friendship between our two countries, and we look forward to continuing in the future.

PRESIDENT AQUINO:  I would like to thank President Obama for all the support that the U.S. has given us in our quest to really transform our society.  Ours is a shared history, shared values, and that's why America is just one of two that we have strategic partnerships with.

Today's meeting has really even deepened and strengthened a very long relationship we have, especially as we face the challenges that are before both our countries in the current situation.

And again, we'd like to thank them for all the expressions of support that even now has led to the resolution of situations within our territory.   

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right.  Thank you, everybody.


What was missing from the discussion

A pool reporter quite descriptively pointed out that there was no mention of China by either president during their remarks for the press.  The pooler's report is below.

"As many originally expected, China would sure be one of the topics during the bilateral meeting between President Obama and President Aquino. But the word “China” didn’t even come up during the pool spray at the bottom.

During Mr. Obama’s 3 minutes remark, he carefully not to mention China, even when he actually talked about South “China” Sea. He said, “we are trying to make sure that we have a strong set of rules and norms governing maritime disputes ‘in the region’.”  Mr. Obama avoided to mention “the region” as South China Sea. And Mr. Aquino gave a shorter than 1 minute remark without mentioning China or the sea either.

In reality, other than Vietnam, for hundreds of years, China and the Southeast Asia countries, including Philippines, call the sea as “South China Sea”. Nowadays, Chinese more often refers it as “South Sea” (Nan Hai in Mandarin). Until very last year, amid the intensified tension between Philippines with China, Philippines starts to call the sea as “West Philippine Sea”.
Chinese media put great attention on Mr. Aquino’s first visit to the Oval Office. Although this is his third time in the U.S., his fourth meeting with Mr. Obama, and the second bilateral meeting between two leaders, Mr. Aquino’s first visit to the Oval Office sends out significant signal to Chinese when the two month standoff between Philippines and China on the sea was just over a few days ago. Filipino left the dispute area--Huangyan island (Scarborough Shoal)--while Chinese remains.
According to a poll in May by the right wing newspaper in China, Global Times, 80% of Chinese respondents support military solution to solve the dispute. So when Mr. Aquino visits, the U.S. offering weapons, reopening the military bases, and building a information-sharing network with Philippines could easily be seen as a hostile behavior towards China. That’s likely the reason why the two leaders being careful in the remarks.
The other issues they talked about were to expand the economic and security cooperation. Both leaders push Philippines to join TPP--Trans Pacific Partnership. But it didn’t come up during their remark, nor in the statement released later by the Press Office.


A likely, unlikely question is asked of President Obama

After the meeting between the two presidents ended, a reporter asked President Obama about Mitt Romney's remarks on the president's statement about private sector jobs creation.  Earlier in the day the president spoke to the media in the James Brady briefing room where he stressed the economy is making a turn around.

     Q    Mr. President, Mitt Romney says you're out of touch for saying the private sector is doing fine.  What's your response?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.  That's the reason I had the press conference.  That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. 

The economy is not doing fine.  There are too many people out of work.  The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater.  And that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.

     Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I've been saying consistently over the last year, we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector.  We've seen 4.3 million jobs created -- 800,000 this year alone -- record corporate profits.  And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy.

The folks who are hurting, where we have problems and where we can do even better, is small businesses that are having a tough time getting financing; we've seen teachers and police officers and firefighters who've been laid off -- all of which, by the way, when they get laid off spend less money buying goods and going to restaurants and contributing to additional economic growth.  The construction industry is still very weak, and that's one of the areas where we've still seen job losses instead of job gains. 

So if we take the steps that I laid out to make sure that we're not seeing teacher layoffs and we're not seeing police officer layoffs, and we're providing small businesses with additional financing and tax breaks for when they hire or if they're giving raises to their employees; if we refinance housing -- or allow homeowners to refinance so they've got an extra $3,000 in their pocket so that they can spend money and contribute to further economic growth; if we're making sure that we're rebuilding, work that has to be done anyway, deferred maintenance on roads and bridges that could put construction workers back to work -- all those things will strengthen the economy, and independent economists estimate it would create an additional million jobs.  

Now, you can't give me a good reason as to why Congress would not act on these items other than politics -- because these are traditionally ideas that Democrats and Republicans have supported.  So let me be as clear as I can be.  The economy needs to be strengthened.  That's why I had a press conference.

I believe that there are a lot of Americans who are hurting right now, which is what I've been saying for the last year, two years, three years, what I've been saying since I came into office.  And the question then is what are we going to do about it?  And one of the things that people get so frustrated about is that instead of actually talking about what would help, we get wrapped up in these political games.  That's what we need to put an end to.

So the key right now is for folks -- what I'm interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference.  And so far, all we've heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  Thanks.  Thank you, guys.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The New York Giants descended upon the White House today, their coveted Super Bowl trophy in tow, to be honored by President Obama for winning Super Bowl XLVI after defeating the New England Patriots 21-17.

It would be their second White House visit since winning Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

President Obama receives an autographed football and jersey from the New York Giants.  Photo/CD Brown.
"Everyone played a key role", said head coach Tom Coughlin of his team that scratched to make it to the playoffs.   "Our special teams, our offensive team, and our defensive team, doing their job.  Each having their own motive, but playing in harmony for the good of everyone."

"Wouldn't it be good if Congress did the same thing?", asked Coughlin to the applause of the president and the jeering attendees.

Their second Super Bowl win solidifying their quarterback, Eli Manning, as a top rated NFL quarterback, contrary to what sports writers and sports talk radio hosts say.

Head coach Tom Coughlin with President Obama as Giant's QB Eli Manning looks on.  Photo/ CD Brown.
Agreeing, President Obama remarked, "So I would just advise the sportswriters out there the next time Eli says he thinks he’s an elite quarterback, you might just want to be quiet."
The team was also honored by the president for their work in the community:  From fighting childhood obesity with the NFL's Play 60 initiative that gets kids exercising, to wrapping up leftover food for homeless shelters, to working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to bring kids to practices and games.

"Big Blue supports the folks who support them", said the president.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DC Council Chair Charged With Fraud

DC council Chairman Kwame Brown who last week, speaking at the memorial service for the city’s godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, warned new residents moving to the District of Columbia who may not like the Go-Go genre to "get over it", may find himself not being able to ‘get over’ facing allegations of bank fraud and campaign fund misuse.

Brown, who has served the residents of the District of Columbia since 2004, came under fire last year when an investigation revealed he spent funds excessively upgrading the city owned Lincoln Navigator SUV he now drives.

Brown reportedly inflated his income by thousands of dollars in order to secure funding for a home and a motor boat.
Early Tuesday Brown stated he would not step down from his council post, and admitted no wrongdoing; but by late Wednesday, Brown formally submitted his resignation, at the advice of legal counsel. 

A hearing will be held next week where plans to find a replacement for the city’s second highest office will take place.  Council woman Mary Cheh will be the temporary replacement for Brown until his former position can be filled.

Brown admitted his wrong doing, saying he will make restitution.  He is expected to enter a guilty plea on Friday.

A new charge, filed Thursday morning however, also accuses the former council chair of misusing campaign funds.

Brown joins a growing list of District council members investigated for alleged campaign wrongdoing.  All are African American.

DC council member Harry Thomas, Jr. was formerly charged and sentenced to misusing $300,000 in funds slated for a city youth program.  He was sentenced to three years in prison. DC mayor Vincent Gray was also investigated for campaign wrong doing.   He allegedly paid a district resident to help sabotage the campaign of then DC mayor, Adrian Fenty, in exchange for a DC council position.  No charges have been formally filed against the mayor at this time.

The latest turmoil in the DC government comes one week after former presidential candidate John Edwards was found not guilty on charges that he misused campaign funds to hide his mistress (his campaign videographer) and love child while still married to his wife who was dying of cancer.

Edwards was acquitted of all charges.