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

Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 White House Easter Egg Roll

The Easter Egg Roll will take place Monday, April 1st, on the South Lawn of the White House and is focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme, “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!”

The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. The entire Easter Egg Roll event, including all of the headliner music acts and Storytime Stage readers, will be broadcast live on

Be Healthy! Be You!
Talent Line-up This year’s special guest is Robby Novak, better known as Kid President. Jordin Sparks, Austin Mahone, Coco Jones, Sesame Street, and The Wanted will perform on the Rockin’ Egg Roll Stage. Jessica Sanchez will sing the National Anthem. The Official Emcee of the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll is Tommy McFly, who will introduce acts on the music stage on the ellipse. The United States Marine Corps Band will perform American classics.

Readers on the Storytime Stage will be NASCAR’s Danica Patrick, Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, Elmo, Abby, Gordon and Rosita from Sesame Street, the full cast of Super Sprowtz, The Wanted, and actress Quvenzhané Wallis. Chefs Flynn McGarry, B. Smith, Ina Garten, Spike Mendelsohn, Katie Chin, Anne Burrell, and the White House Chefs will prepare healthy eating demonstrations in the Play with your Food station.

In the Eggtivity Zone, Dr. Jayne Greenberg, Cornell McClellan, Donna Richardson Joyner, Curtis Pride and Shellie Pfohl will represent the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition as players and coaches from professional sports teams teach kids how to play sports and show kids easy, fun ways to stay active and fit.

Athletes participating in the Eggtivity Zone include: Katrina Adams (US Tennis Association) Lorenzo Alexander (Arizona Cardinals) Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards) Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens)Lauren Crandall (US Field Hockey) Jill Craybas (US Tennis Association) Victor Cruz (New York Giants) Dwayne De Rosario (DC United) Rachel Dawson (US Field Hockey) Ajai Dhadwal (US Field Hockey) Derrick Dockery (Dallas Cowboys) Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia Union)  (Philadelphia Union)Nene Hilario (Washington Wizards) William Holt (US Field Hockey) Liezel Huber (US Tennis Association) Doc Jacobs (VETSports) Denis Kudla (US Tennis Association) Kari Miller (US Sitting Volleyball) Brett Keisel (Pittsburgh Steelers) Jennifer Kessy (US Volleyball) Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) Lewis Neal (DC United)  (Washington Wizards) John Orozco (US Gymnastics) Danica Patrick (NASCAR) Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) Clark Rachfal (US Para Cycling) Antwaan Randle-El (Pittsburgh Steelers) April Ross (US Volleyball) Marcelo Saragosa (DC United) Etan Thomas (Atlanta Hawks) Brian Vahaly (US Tennis Association) Robert Vartughian (Philadelphia Union) John Wall (Washington Wizards) Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx)Shaenon Williams (Philadelphia Union)

[Even More to Hop About]

The Hop To It Stage offers a variety of interactive dance, sports, and other physical fun, including the Chicago Ultimate Tumblers, Alvin Ailey Dance Troop, KidTribe and The Ohmies.   The Ellipse will have an entertainment stage and guests can enjoy musical acts, activities, and a real NASCAR racecar as they prepare to enter the South Lawn. DJs WSC Zumba, Willy WOW! And LITTLE BEAT THE #1 CHINCHILLA, DJ Mel, and Tommy McFly will be on the Ellipse welcoming guests in, spinning music, and getting guests excited about the event.   This year’s costume characters can be found HERE. Full List of Events With the “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” theme, all of the activities on the South Lawn promote healthy and active living. The activities include obstacle courses, yoga, dancing, playing sports with professional athletes, and of course, the traditional egg roll.  

[Additional Information about the 2013 Easter Egg Roll]
More than 30,000 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have received tickets to the event. For the fifth year in a row, tickets were distributed online.   Members of the public from all over the country had the opportunity to enter an online lottery for a chance to win tickets to the event. More than 300,000 tickets were requested via the online lottery, and guests from all 50 states and the District of Columbia were selected as winners.   This year’s event will begin at 7:30 AM and end at 6:45 PM.  

More at


Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Lots of 'jovial' moments during today's Supreme Court hearing on gay marriage.

"I suspect there''ll be no children out that union." - Justice Sotomayer

Listen live now via CSPAN radio.

Monday, March 25, 2013

President Obama Designates Five New National Monuments

Action Will Generate Tourism and Economic Benefits for Local Economies, Honor African-American History, Mark Delaware’s first National Park Site

President Obama today signed proclamations establishing five new national monuments, using his authority under the Antiquities Act, which celebrate our nation’s rich history and natural heritage. The monuments, located in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington, help tell the story of significant people and extraordinary events in American history, as well as protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans. The designations were made with bi-partisan support from congressional, state and local officials, local businesses and other stakeholders and are expected to promote economic growth in the local communities through tourism and outdoor recreation.

“These sites honor the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country,” said President Obama.  “By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come.”

“From the treasured landscapes of northern New Mexico and Washington, to the historic sites in Delaware, to the sites that show our nation’s path from Civil War to civil rights, these monuments help tell the rich and complex story of our nation’s history and natural beauty,”

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “There’s no doubt that these monuments will serve as economic engines for the local communities through tourism and outdoor recreation – supporting economic growth and creating jobs.”

According to the National Parks and Conservation Association study in 2006 each federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic value to the public. National parks are responsible for $13.3 billion dollars of local, private-sector economic activity nationwide, supporting 267,000 private-sector jobs.  Outdoor recreation alone generates $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs in the United States each year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

The monuments are: Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The monument will preserve the home of Col. Charles Young (1864–1922), a distinguished officer in the United States Army who was the third African American to graduate from West Point and the first to achieve the rank of Colonel. Young also served as one of the early Army superintendents of Sequoia and General Grant National Parks, before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916.  The national headquarters of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, of which Col. Young was a member, made the property available for acquisition by the federal government for the purpose of establishing the national monument commemorating Young’s life and accomplishments. The monument, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

First State National Monument in Delaware. The monument will tell the story of the early Dutch, Swedish, Finnish and English settlement of the colony of Delaware, as well as Delaware’s role as the first state to ratify the Constitution.  The park is comprised of three historic areas related to Delaware’s rich history:  the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House complex (including the courthouse, Green and Sheriff’s House), and the Woodlawn property in the Brandywine Valley.  The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland. The monument commemorates the life of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad who was responsible for helping enslaved people escape from bondage to freedom.  The new national park, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, includes large sections of landscapes that are significant to Tubman’s early life in Dorchester County and evocative of her life as a slave and conductor of the Underground Railroad.  The park includes Stewart’s Canal, dug by hand by free and enslaved people between 1810 and the 1830s and where Tubman learned important outdoor skills when she worked in the nearby timbering operations with her father. Lands that are part of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, although part of the new national monument, will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument also includes the home site of Jacob Jackson, a free black man who used coded letters to help Tubman communicate with family and others.  The monument will also partner with the State of Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Visitor Center when it opens in 2015.  The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico. Located northwest of Taos, the Río Grande del Norte contains stretches of the Río Grande Gorge and extinct volcanoes that rise from the Taos Plateau. The area is known for its spectacular landscapes and recreational opportunities – like rafting, fishing and hiking – and serves as important habitat for many birds and wildlife. The monument is also home to a dense collection of petroglyphs and extraordinary archaeological and cultural resources dating from the Archaic Period to the more recent passage of Hispanic settlers.  The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which currently manages the more than 240,000 acres of the monument.

San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington. Home to bald eagles, orca whales, harbor seals and other rare species, the San Juan Islands is a chain of 450 islands, rocks and pinnacles.  Located in Washington State’s Puget Sound, the archipelago provides an opportunity for visitors, campers, kayakers and birdwatchers to experience the natural beauty of the undeveloped, rugged landscape. A number of historic lighthouses are located on the islands, as well as cultural resources and fossils dating back 12,000 years. The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

President Obama has previously designated four monuments using the Antiquities Act. These include the César E. Chávez National Monument in California, Chávez’ home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America since the early 1970s when Chávez was its president; Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military; Fort Ord National Monument in California, a former military base that is a world-class destination for outdoor recreation; and Chimney Rock, which is located in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado and offers a spectacular landscape rich in history and Native American culture.

First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients.

The designation of the monuments builds on President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which fosters a 21st century approach to conservation that responds to the priorities of the American people. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Profiles of Bravery: Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III

General Lloyd Austin made history, yet again, by becoming the first African American to lead the U.S. Central Command, breaking another barrier for African Americans in the U.S. military.

Op Ed by Valerie Jarrett, Advisor to President Obama

Today, General Lloyd Austin became the first African-American to lead the U.S. Central Command, which has a wide-ranging area of responsibility for 20 countries in the Middle East and southwest Asia. His appointment is effective immediately.

During the change of command ceremony today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, “General Austin brings to this position combat experience gained on the unforgiving battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He has commanded some of the Army’s most storied formations, including the 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions, as well as the 18th Airborne Corps...With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge, and proven judgment – and with the love and support of Charlene and their children – I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command at a time of dramatic change, challenge, and turmoil in its area of responsibility.”

In his 37-year career, General Austin has continually broken barriers for African-Americans in the U.S. Army. He was also the first African-American to serve in his previous position as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. His historic career includes leading the 3rd Infantry Division in the opening months of the Iraq war where he earned a Silver Star for valor. General Austin later commanded divisions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of the mission in December 2011.

In a statement last December, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen. Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves. Lloyd would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department.” General Austin introduced President Obama when he spoke to soldiers at Fort Bliss last August. In his remarks, President Obama acknowledged General Austin’s extraordinary leadership in Iraq, overseeing the withdrawal of 150,000 troops. General Austin succeeds Marine Corps General James Mattis.

We thank General James Mattis for his leadership, and look forward to General Austin’s continued service to our country in this new role. We are incredibly grateful to both of them, and to all of our men and women in uniform, for keeping our country safe and our freedoms secure.

Learn more about General Austin here.

General Austin receives honor at farewell ceremony.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Price of War

Approaching the 10-year mark on the war in Iraq we find some harsh words, and discoveries, from those that lived it.

As Congressman woman Barbara Lee said this morning on C-SPAN about the war on Iraq (which she opposed), "We bombed the heck out of them".

Lee and others now want to begin the healing process of the war-torn nation just as the people and families whose lives have been destroyed by it.

The people of Iraq also want to hold the US military accountable for their actions and the destruction of their land, families and nation.

Watch this revealing video below as an Iraqi woman talks about the aftermath of the war and havoc it wrecked.

The video also contains an interview with a former US soldier, stationed in Iraq, as she shares what her life was like living on the 'enemy' lines.

Result of the Iraq war: Birth defects of children.

Watch this video as victims of the Iraq war share light on the growing epidemic of babies being born with birth defects as a result of uraninum deposits left on Iraqi soil.

War. What is good for? Let Edwin Starr tell you.


Iraq war veteran writes letter, blames George Bush, Dick Cheney.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A VP In Italy: Installation Mass

As Vice President Biden continues his visit in Rome, we are afforded this beautiful view of the installation Mass of Pope Francis, just before the start of the ceremony.

The US delegation to Rome were the Honorable Susana Martinez, Governor of the State of New Mexico; the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the United States House of Representatives and U.S. Representative from California; and Dr. John DeGioia, President of Georgetown University.

Vice President Biden will depart Rome after the Mass, returning to Washington.

In case you missed the ceremony, watch it below.

Video streaming by Ustream

Monday, March 18, 2013

GOP Tries To Right Its Wrongs

Is it no surprise that the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reibus Prince, picked today, March 18th, to launch the Reibus Report ? (At least that's what we're calling it here).

It's his birthday.

So, the 37 year old releases a report titled the GOP (Growth and Opportunity Project), nonetheless - to explain why the Republican Party lost the election, and to also see how best the party can repair its self from its own collateral damage of not being able to connect with the American people.

"At our core, Republicans have comfortably remained the Party of Reagan without figuring out what
comes next', states the report. "Ronald Reagan is a Republican hero and role model who was first elected 33 years ago — meaning no one under the age of 51 today was old enough to vote for Reagan when he first ran for President. Our Party knows how to appeal to older voters, but we have lost our way with younger ones. We sound increasingly out of touch."

Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. States in which Republican presidential candidates used to win like New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada,

Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida have been lost to Democratic voters.

Hey RNC, rational thinking people are just not that into you.

At least they recognize this.  They say that identifying the problem is half the battle.  So with that, Reibus and his party have come up with a plan that give the RNC a $10M "top-to-bottom tuneup" they claim will help better connect with African Americans, women, and Hispanic populations.

Remember this comment from their front running presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the2012 election campaign?

"Plan parenthood, I'll get rid of that."  That turned off women right there.

What about escorting illegal immigrants out of the country and calling it Immigration Reform?  

Did you really expect 15 million people to vote for you when you're talking about ridding them from the United States of America?

African Americans don't care for you because of the way you've treated communities of color: that whole war on drugs thing that incarcerated millions of African Americans while giving whites a pass for the same indiscretions; the driving while Black thing; the lack of educational opportunities, quality health care and jobs in under served areas; and that whole if-you-aren't-a-Republican-screw-you, mentality.

Those items are hardly items to run a campaign on in a changing new world order.

Reads the report, "Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us."

Like we wrote earlier, realizing the problem is half the battle. Winning it, however, is another elephant altogether.

You can read the entire GOP report here.

Making History Worlds Apart

We find this article by the Guardian both interesting and noteworthy with President Obama preparing this Tuesday to head off to Israel to meet with Israeli officials and to speak directly with the Israeli people.

Ms. Yityish Aynaw, 18-year old Ehtiopian beauty, is Ms. Israel 2013.
During the president's meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the new members of the Prime Minister’s governing coalition, the president is also slated to meet, and dine with, Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw, the first Ethiopian-born pageant winner.

The Guardian provides this informative piece on pageant winner below.

Yityish Aynaw arrived in Israel from Ethiopia when she was 12 years old and admitted it was initially difficult for her to assimilate into Israeli society.

It will be one of the hottest tickets in town. When the US president, Barack Obama, arrives in Israel on an official visit next week, one of the highlights for the country's dignatries will be a dinner hosted at Israeli president Shimon Peres's home. And among those set to dine with the two presidents is the first black Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw.

When the president's staff called to invite her to the dinner, Aynaw, who was crowned just a few weeks ago, was understandably taken aback. "I didn't believe this was happening," she told the Jerusalem Post.

Aynaw arrived in Israel from Ethiopia when she was 12 years old. The beauty queen, who has worked as a sales assistant since leaving the army, has admitted that it was initially difficult for her to assimilate into Israeli society. Despite being 100,000 strong, the Ethiopian Jewish community is marginalised in Israel, where some rabbis have questioned the authenticity of their Jewish faith.

In the course of the Miss Israel competition, Aynaw told the panel of judges: "It's important that a member of the Ethiopian community win the competition for the first time. There are many different communities of many different colours in Israel, and it's important to show that to the world."

On learning that she would be dining with the US president alongside the Israeli leadership, Aynaw admitted that as a young immigrant, she would not have believed "such a thing could happen" to her. Once the news sunk in, however, the 21 year-old former Israeli army officer declared herself "excited" and reasoned: "The first black Miss Israel to be chosen and [Obama] is the first black American President. These goes together."

Obama, she said, has had a "notable influence in her life".

Shortly after winning the title, Aynaw named assassinated US civil rights leader Martin Luther King as one of her heroes: "He fought for justice and equality, and that's one of the reasons I'm here: I want to show that my community has many beautiful qualities that aren't always represented in the media."

While she may have embraced her life in Israel, Aynaw has refused to adopt a Hebrew name as many of African immigrants have done. "I was born sick but my mum believed I had a future," she told Jewish publication The Tablet, explaining that her name in Amharic, the second most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic, means "looking towards the future". "I'd never change my name," she said. "Ever".
With African roots and controversial names in common, Miss Israel and President Obama have ample mutual ground to break the ice.


It's also interesting to note that Ms. Aynaw's last name reads like the English slang, 'aw-naw' - as in "Aw-naw, this can't be happening. 

We wonder if the first lady is saying to the president, "Aw-naw, you're not having dinner with her without me."

First Lady Michelle Obama is currently not scheduled to join the president on his visit to Israel.

With the White House Correspondent's Dinner just around the corner, we also wonder if Ms. Aynaw will make an appearance there as well.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder Announce Grants to Help Reduce Domestic Violence Homicides

12 Cities and Counties Receive Grants as Part of New Evidence-Based Prevention Initiative

Riding on last week's presidential signing of the Violence Againist Women Act, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder announced grants to twelve programs across the country to target the urgent need to reduce domestic violence homicides. On average, three women a day die as a result of domestic violence.

In total, the Department of Justice will award $2.3 million to twelve sites across the country as part of the new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative (DVHP Initiative). The DVHP Initiative, created by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), helps state and local jurisdictions reduce domestic violence homicides by effectively identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders. The DVHP Initiative is modeled after programs in Massachusetts and Maryland, where the use of coordinated teams of law enforcement, prosecutors, health professionals and victims services significantly reduced the domestic violence homicide rate.

“Every single day in America, three women die at the hands of their boyfriend, or their husband, or their ex-husband. Many of these women have been threatened or severely abused in the past. We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love – and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders. That’s why these grants are so important. They’ll help stop violence before it turns deadly,” said Vice President Biden.

“Domestic violence is a devastating crime – and it claims far too many lives each and every day,” said Attorney General Holder.

“With today’s grant announcement, we are strengthening our ability to fight back more effectively – and aggressively – than ever before. And we’re supporting the kinds of evidence-based domestic violence homicide prevention models that will allow us to reliably predict potentially lethal behavior, take steps to stop the escalation of violence and save lives.”

“Lives are being saved – we know how to do it – and these grants will help us expand those programs. They’ll give 12 communities across the country the tools they need to predict when someone will become violent – and step in before they become deadly.” - Vice President Joe Biden

The Vice President and Attorney General announced the grant awards at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, MD, where they were joined by dozens of Maryland law enforcement officers who have been at the forefront of domestic violence homicide prevention efforts in that state.

“While the statistics seem overwhelming, we are not helpless in the face of these terrible crimes,” said Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Bea Hanson.

“We hope this evidence-based initiative to reduce domestic violence homicide is a breakthrough in preventing murders and serious injuries across the country.”The new DVHP Initiative is based on an assessment tool that researchers have identified that can be used to reliably recognize women who may be in fatally abusive relationships. Attempted strangulation, threats with weapons, sexual assault and obsessively jealous and controlling behavior are among the markers of particularly lethal abusers. Once at-risk victims are identified, law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and service providers can take action to protect them and their families. Since passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent, but more work remains to reduce the most serious of this violence.

OVW is partnering with the National Institute of Justice to rigorously monitor the implementation of the initiative and evaluate its outcomes. OVW is also working with national experts to provide technical assistance to the demonstration sites.

The demonstration sites, each receiving one-year awards ranging from $100,658 to $200,000, are: Contra Costa County, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; Palm Beach County, FL; Rockdale County, GA; Winnebago County, IL; City of Boston, MA; Borough of Brooklyn, NY; Westchester County, NY; Pitt County, NC; Cuyahoga County, OH; City of North Charleston, SC; and City of Rutland, VT.

No reported grants were awarded to the District of Columbia, Virginia, or Maryland.  (Maryland has reduced its domestic violence homicide rate by 34% over the past five years, and was the pioneering state for the Violence Against Women legislation).

White House Fact Sheet on reducing DV
Common Sense Efforts To Reduce Gun Violence and DV Homicides

Credit Report of Members of Obama Administration (And Celebrities) Posted Online

The Department of Justice is seeking to learn how the credit reports and several pieces of personal information belonging to several staff members of the Obama administration, and several celebrity icons, were posted online. 

The Atlanta Journal reported that the Justice Department said the FBI was also investigating how the Social Security number, address and a credit report of FBI Director Robert Mueller ended up on the site. The site also posted information about Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

doxxing. v. the process of obtaining or deducing information about a person based on a limited set of initial information.
In addition to celebrities that include Jay-Z and Mel Gibson, Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, info was also posted about  First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although Clinton's information did not include her credit report, addresses and other sensitive information was leaked.

The site, which bears an Internet suffix originally assigned to the Soviet Union, expanded throughout the day Monday to add entries on Britney Spears and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

TMZ first broke the story and has since reported that presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well has golfer Tiger Woods have also been added to 'the list'.

Are you on it?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ray LaHood Challenges the U.S. to "Be Big. Be Bold."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke yesterday at the The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) legislative conference where he encouraged Congress to "be bold", "be brave" when it comes to ideas for building America's infrastructure and rail systems.

"We've always been big and had bold ideas", said LaHood.

He praised President Obama for his vision of high speed rail and called out Congress for stalling the president's plan to improve the nation's existing railroads and building infrastructure here in America that would rival any foreign country's rail system.

"You all have been to China and have seen their railroads.  I'm sure when you return home you're scratching your head asking, "Why can't we do that?"

The U.S. ranks near the bottom of countries with sustainable or advanced rail systems.

During the conference's Q&A session LaHood, who is retiring this year, was asked what advice he would give to his successor.

"Get along with Congress", he replied.

The secretary's remarks, for which he garnered praise from attendees, begin at the 8:32 mark of the below video.

Medal of Honor Awardee: Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun

On April 11, President Barack Obama will award Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Chaplain Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from November 1-2, 1950.

Per the Kapaun web site Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism, and selfless service between Nov. 1, 1950, and May 23, 1951. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly crawled to wounded men and either dragged them back to the safety of the American lines, or dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded.

After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners marched for several days northward toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

•          engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
•          engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
•          serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tweet With The First Lady!

First Lady Michelle Obama will answer questions about her Let’s Move! initiative using her office’s @FLOTUS twitter account.

Twitter users can ask Mrs. Obama questions using the hashtag #AskFLOTUS.

The First Lady announced the Q&A session via the following tweet from the @FLOTUS account where she tweeted:
"Tomorrow at 11:05ET, I'll answer some questions about @LetsMove & how we can improve the health of our kids. Join with #AskFLOTUS" –mo.

The first lady's personal tweets end with her sig, -mo, as above, while her husband's tweets end with his sig, -bo.

Let's hope the children don't get in trouble for tweeting while at school.

Friday, March 8, 2013

February's Job Numbers (Pre-Sequestration)

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 246,000 jobs in February. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 236,000 jobs last month. The economy has now added private sector jobs every month for three straight years, and a total of 6.35 million jobs have been added over that period.

The household survey showed that the unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February, the lowest since December 2008. The labor force participation rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 63.5 percent in February.

According to the establishment survey, in February employment rose notably in professional and business services (+73,000), construction (+48,000), health care (+32,000), leisure and hospitality (+24,000), and retail trade (+23,700). Manufacturing gained 14,000 jobs in February. The manufacturing sector has added over half a million jobs over the last 37 months, the most for any such period since 1986. In the last two years the construction sector has added 306,000 jobs, with half of that increase occurring in the last five months. State and local governments lost 10,000 jobs in February, mostly in education. The local government education sector has now lost 340,700 jobs since its recent peak in November 2009.

See full statement  by Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

President Signs Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

Women's History Month is starting off quite nicely.

President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act making it easier to prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes against women, such as domestic violence. 

The "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, (S. 47)" reauthorizes several Violence Against Women Act grant programs through FY 2018; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through FY 2017 and also protects women on Tribal lands, improves protections for immigrant victims, ensures services for LGBT survivors, and adds important housing protections for victims.

"So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage", said President Obama, speaking today from the Department of Interior. "But it’s also about the millions more they represent -- that you represent. It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem -- in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city -- as long as it takes. "

The law was first enacted by then Senator Joe Biden and Congressman John Conyers in 1994.  The Act initially instituted a hot line where women in distress could call for help, and also provided shelters, and law enforcement officials trained to handled the special needs of victims. a

Said Vice President Biden, "With all the law’s success, there are still too many women in this country who live in fear of violence, who are still prisoners in their own home; too many victims that we have to mourn. We knew from the outset in 1994 that there was much more we could have done at the beginning if we were able to get the votes. But we did what was necessary and important, but we knew more had to be done to reduce domestic violence, domestic violence homicides, to provide new tools, as was just spoken to, to protect Native American women, to address the perplexing rate of dating violence among young women, and so much more."

The Act will also equip college campuses with more tools to educate students about sexual violence.

As the Bill was into law today, the administration will continue the discussion of violence against women when Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will participate in a session of White House Office Hours on Twitter to answer questions about the Violence Against Women Act.

Participants can ask questions now with #WHChat, and then follow the Q&A live on Friday, March 8th at 3:45 p.m. ET.

You can join other Women's History Month celebration events across the city.   For a listing click here.  Add your event by posting in the comment section below.

DOJ Awards $1M to the National Crime Prevention Council to Support Gun Safety

Award Allocated for the Development of a National Public Education Campaign on Responsible Gun Ownership Encouraging Safe Storage

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded $1 million to theNational Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to support the development of a National Public Education Campaign on the subject of responsible gun ownership and safe gun storage. With the award, NCPC will create, produce, and distribute television, radio, and outdoor Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that encourage gun owners to safely store their firearms so that they do not fall into the wrong hands. The campaign will also emphasize the importance of immediately reporting lost or stolen guns to local law enforcement to ensure public safety.

“As part of President Obama's comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, the Administration is committed to working with firearm owners and enthusiasts to prevent tragic accidents and keep guns from falling into the wrong hands,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are determined to implement the kinds of common-sense solutions that our citizens - and especially our young people - deserve.”

Ensuring the public is educated in responsible gun ownership and firearm safety is a critical aspect to reducing gun violence. Gun owners, community groups and businesses must be aware and reminded to practice safe firearm storage and to make certain that firearms in the home are not casually accessible. This public awareness campaign will endeavor to decrease the threat of gun violence by promoting principles of responsible firearm ownership nationwide and providing guidelines for the safe usage and storage of firearms.

NCPC, founded in 1982, is the nation’s nonprofit leader in crime prevention. For 30 years, they have delivered crime prevention tips and public service advertising campaigns that empower citizens individually and collectively to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe from crime.

It is planned that the PSAs created through this award will be distributed to more than 1,700 television stations, nearly 15,000 radio stations and more than 500 cable networks in 210 markets in summer 2013.

Breaking Bread. Gaining Ground?

No winter storm warning could keep a few good friends, or U.S. Senators, from breaking bread.

A few senators joined the president last evening for a bit of bi-partisan talks on how to advance the country and work through the affects of the current sequester.

Joing the president were Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator John McCain (whom he beat in the 2008 presidential election), Senator Dan Coats, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Richard Burr, Senator Mike Johanns, Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Ron Johnson, Senator John Hoeven, and Senator Saxby Chambliss.

The Senators and President Obama dined at a restaurant inside the Jefferson Hotel on the cusp of George Town.  The hotel boasts three restaurants:  The Green House, Plume, and Quill.   It is unclear which restaurant the party dined in, but what we can confirm is the president paid the tab.


[UPDATE 12:35PM] We are told by the hotel's Marketing Manager that the party dined in one of the hotel's meeting rooms where they were served a variation of the Plume menu.
"The meeting last evening was held in one of the hotel's private meeting rooms. It was not held in Greenhouse or Plume restaurant but President Obama and the Senators did dine from the Plume menu prepared by our Executive Chef Chris Jakubiec."

View the Plume menu at


Senator McCain was seen giving a 'thumbs up' as he exited the hotel, and other senators gave like consensus.

Those citing the president as not being able to reach out to 'the other side' for negotiations and talks can now lay that notion to rest.

What the American people want to see is if any positive action will come about as a result.

The president, today, had lunch with Congressmen Ryan and Van Hollen to discuss a number of issues.

From "a White House official":

"The President was pleased to host Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Van Hollen for lunch today at the White House.  The President had a constructive discussion with the Chairman and Ranking Member on a host of issues, including tackling our deficit challenges and his proposal to replace the sequester and reduce the deficit in a balanced way.  The President expressed his desire to continue a dialogue with them in the weeks ahead, and looks forward to continuing discussions with them and other members of the committee on these issues of importance to our economy and the middle class. 

The gentlemen dined on Lentil vegetable soup and broiled sea bass served with a roasted vegetable Ragu.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Leaders of a New Administration (Kinda)

Interesting 'pool' report today from Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner as President Obama meets with members of his revamped, reorganized, and restructured Cabinet (we're waiting for the 2013 photograph). 

The president aluded to what remains his top priorities going into his second presidential term.

Hughes writes in:

President Obama on Monday convened the first Cabinet meeting of his second term, highlighting some “familiar faces,” “new faces” and “familiar faces in new positions.”

Pool was ushered in to the meeting at 1:08 p.m. and the president’s remarks at the top of the gathering lasted roughly four minutes.

Sitting to the president’s right were Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. To the president’s left were new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and (outgoing) Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Obama singled out Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Hagel, who were recently confirmed by the Senate.

The president said the department leaders would talk about the across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect Friday.

“It is an area of deep concern,” Obama said of sequestration. “I think everybody knows where I stand on this issue… it’s not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction.” “I will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so that we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everyone knows is the right way to do that,” he added.

Obama predicted slower economic growth and lower employment in coming months. Turning away from the so-called sequester, Obama highlighted his pushes for comprehensive immigration reform and universal preschool.

On immigration reform, he said, ”I want to again thank members of Congress who on a bipartisan basis are moving forward on that agenda.”

Obama also said the group would hear from Vice President Biden on the administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence. The president concluded by saying that despite budget cuts, “We’re not going to stop working on behalf of the American people… to grow the economy and improve people’s lives.”

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Presidential Pardons Granted

The president doesn't need the help of Congress, at least, to grant pardons to the following seventeen individuals who were jailed for a series of various malfeasance.

A presidential has the unique ability to override the justice system, release anyone he chooses from paying a fine, and return a person to the state of innocence that person had before he ever committed a wrong doing, without providing a reason for his decisions.

Unlike the current administration's predecessor,who pardoned Scotter Libby, there are no persons in this year's list who were tried and convicted of perjury, or obstruction of justice.

Most of the offenders on this year's list weren't serving serious jail time, and were already on probation. 

Some have already asked if much thought went into the selection of the individuals since there are many individuals who sit on death row in several states across the country who may never again see the light of day for a crime they never committed. 

Also questioned is if the president considered the disparity of citizens of color who continue to receive excessive jail time compared to Caucasians who receive less jail time for the same crimes committed.

The 2013 pardoners include individuals from various states, notably the state of Illinois (two), and one person from Hawaii.

Wrongly convicted individual, Lawrence Garrison, speaks on being falsely imprisioned.

  • Robert Leroy Bebee –Rockville, Maryland.
    Offense: Misprision of a felony, 18 U.S.C. § 4.Sentence: Two years probation.

  • James Anthony Bordinaro –Gloucester, Massachusetts.
    Offenses: Conspiracy to restrain, suppress, and eliminate competition in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; conspiracy to submit false statements, 18 U.S.C. § 371. Sentence: 12 months imprisonment, three years supervised release and a $55,000 fine.
  • Kelli Elisabeth Collins –Harrison, Arkansas. Offense: Aiding and abetting a wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 2. Sentence: Five years probation.
  • Edwin Hardy Futch, Jr. –Pembroke, Georgia. Offense: Theft from an interstate shipment, 18 U.S.C. §§ 659, 2. Sentence: Five years probation, $2,399.72 restitution.         
  • Cindy Marie Griffith –Moyock, North Carolina. Offense: Distribution of satellite cable television decryption devices, 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4), 18 U.S.C. § 2. Sentence: Two years probation with 100 hours of community service.           
  • Roy Eugene Grimes, Sr. –Athens, Tennessee. Offenses: Falsely altering a United States postal money order, 18 U.S.C. § 500; passing, uttering, and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud,18 U.S.C. § 500. Sentence: 18 months probation.           
  • Jon Christopher Kozeliski –Decatur, Illinois. Offense: Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2320. Sentence: One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $10,000 fine.
  • · Jimmy Ray Mattison –Anderson, South Carolina. Offenses: Conspiracy to transport and cause the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2314; transporting and causing the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314, 2.Sentence: Three years probation.
  • An Na Peng –Honolulu, Hawaii. Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 18 U.S.C. § 371.Sentence: Two years probation, $2,000 fine.
  • Michael John Petri –Montrose, South Dakota. Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance (cocaine), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 846.Sentence: Five years imprisonment, three years supervised release.        
  • Karen Alicia Ragee –Decatur, Illinois.Offense: Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2320. Sentence: One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $2,500 fine.
  • Jamari Salleh –Alexandria, Virginia. Offense: False claims upon and against the United States, 18 U.S.C. §§ 287, 2. Sentence: Four years probation, $5,000 fine, $5,900 restitution.
  • Alfor Sharkey –Omaha, Nebraska. Offense: Unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, 7 U.S.C. § 2024(b)(1). Sentence: Three years probation with 100 hours of community service, $2,750 restitution.
  • Donald Barrie Simon, Jr. –Chattanooga, Tennessee. Offense: Aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment, 18 U.S.C. §§ 659, 2. Sentence: Two years imprisonment, three years probation.
  • Lynn Marie Stanek –Tualatin, Oregon. Offense: Unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). Sentence: Six months in jail, five years probation conditioned on residence in a community treatment center for a period not to exceed one year.
  • Larry Wayne Thornton –Forsyth, Georgia.Offense: Possession of an unregistered firearm, 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d), 5871; possession of a firearm without a serial number, 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(i), 5871.Sentence: Four years probation.
  • Donna Kaye Wright –Friendship, Tennessee. Offense: Embezzlement and misapplication of bank funds, 18 U.S.C. § 656. Sentence: 54 days imprisonment, three years probation conditioned on performance of six hours of community service per week.