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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Want Some Caramel With That Popcorn?

If you like caramel on your popcorn, you can appreciate this. (Or you may never think of the two items the same way again).

This year, the president pardons two Thanksgiving turkeys, Caramel and Popcorn. 

Last year's turkeys were named Cobbler and Gobbler.

If you're wondering how Caramel and Popcorn got their names, continue reading.

From the White House:

The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions from elementary schools in Roseau County, Minnesota, where the turkeys were raised.  This year, the American public once again decided which of the two turkeys – Caramel or Popcorn – would become the 2013 National Thanksgiving Turkey by casting a vote for #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Popcorn won the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey.

As the long-standing tradition continues, the two turkeys (both 20 weeks, and weigh around 30 pounds) will be selected to live out their days at Mount Vernon, instead of on someone's Thanksgiving plate, where they will be on display for visitors during “Christmas at Mount Vernon,” a traditional program through January 6

The turkeys will then travel to their permanent home at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia.   

Last year's ceremony saw sunshine and fair temps, unlike todays' rainy and cold weather that forced the ceremony from the Rose Garden to the North Portico of the White House.

Great color by ABC News.  (The pardoning begins at the 6:00 min mark).

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, the First Family will partake in a service event later in the day at the Capital Area Foodbank. 

The president prepared a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that reads as follows:



Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings -- the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad. This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.

Our annual celebration has roots in centuries-old colonial customs. When we gather around the table, we follow the example of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, who shared the fruits of a successful harvest nearly 400 years ago. When we offer our thanks, we mirror those who set aside a day of prayer. And when we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

Our country has always been home to Americans who recognize the importance of giving back. Today, we honor all those serving our Nation far from home. We also thank the first responders and medical professionals who work through the holiday to keep us safe, and we acknowledge the volunteers who dedicate this day to those less fortunate.

This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2013, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.


What's On The Obama's Thanksgiving Table This Year?

Per the White House, the Obama family Thanksgiving menu will feature:

Turkey Honey-Baked Ham,

Cornbread Stuffing
Oyster Stuffing
Macaroni and Cheese
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Dinner Rolls
Huckleberry Pie
Pecan Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
Peach Pie
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Banana Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Next Up
More Holiday at the White House

The Holiday festivities continue on Friday when First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia will accept the 2013 White House Christmas Tree.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Medal of Freedom Awards 2013

This year's group of the Presidential Medal of Free Awards read like a Who's Who of sports, entertainment, music, medicine, and media.

Sixteen individuals, each accomplished in their own right, took the stage with President Obama as he read each name out loud, highlighting their incredible journeys that got them to their life stations.

Oprah Winfrey, former president Bill Clinton, Arturo Sandoval, Ernie Banks, Gloria Steinem, country music singer, Loretta Lynn, and others, rounded out this group of talented individuals.

The president joked about how he and Oprah's names, at first, weren't accepted as 'status quo' by those less understanding of people's differences.

"She was told she should change her name to Susie", he said recalling the time early in her journalism career where her employer also told her she was "too funny looking" for TV. (We're sure he's eaten crow several times over).

In a world where acceptance and tolerance has increasingly become the new social norm, there were honorees representing the LGBT communities:  Bayard Rustin, orchestrator of the historic civil rights March on Washington. Sally Ride, the first female astronaut to travel to space.  Both awarded posthumously, with their awards accepted by their partners.

Even though this day was a day of being awarded the highest honor presented to an American citizen, there were those who felt like they were no bigger on this day, than they were any other day of their lives.

President Obama with the 2013 Medal of Freedom recipients in the East Room. Photo/ CD Brown.

"What did I do? What did I do?"  That was the question by baseball legend Ernie Banks when we asked if he thought of himself as a role model.  The humbled honoree said he thought it was better to "be nice to people."

"This is a great world", Mr. Banks said as he lavished in all the media attention he was receiving, granting interviews to all who asked.  "It really is. I'm just glad to be here, in Washington", the famed Cub star said.

Flipping the script on children who would ask him for autographs, Mr. Banks said he often asks the children for their autographs instead. 

"They are the future", he said. 

Banks is working with the president on making sure more kids become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects.

When it comes to modern day women's rights issue, Gloria Steinem may come to the minds of many.  While she also tells us she's 'no role model', she's delighted that the women's movement has forged a path for others.

"There may be pieces of what I've done that were helpful", said Steinem in our interview with her. "Who would have thought that a little girl like Oprah could watch Barbara Walters on TV and say 'I want to do that?"

[Click here for Steinem's story.  (Our interview)].

Other honorees included North Carolina University's basketball coach to Michael Jordan, Dean Smith, Mario Molina, Daniel Inoye (also posthumously), Indiana Representative Richard Lugar, civil rights activist and minster, C.T. Vivian, former president Bill Clinton, and Daniel Kahneman.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy, is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The medal has been presented to more than 500 individuals who have made especially “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Said the president of the honorees,

"That’s who we are. A people whose greatness comes not by settling for what we can achieve in our own lives, but also because we dare to ask what we can do, as citizens, to contribute to this grand experiment we call America."

We'd like to include life, and living, to that 'grand experiment' as well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Affordable Care Act Extensions Being Offered

President Obama announced today that Americans who lost their health care plan as a result of the Affordable Care Act can regain their plans, at least for a year.

Speaking today in the James Brady briefing room, the president explained this new initiative in the wake of the failed web site and looming concerns over mandated ACA policy concerns.

Said the president, "Insurers can extend current plans that otherwise would be canceled into 2014 and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan."  Adding, "This fix won't solve every problem for every person, but it's going to help a lot of people. Doing more would require work with Congress."

Uh, oh.  The 'C' word.

Working with Congress is like trying to get a six year-old to keep their shoes tied.

We know that Congress has been the bane of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning.  The president's apology for the website's malfunctioning was added fodder for Republicans who weren't in favor of the ACA to begin with.

House Speaker John Boehner (who incidentally may be involved with this) says he wants the whole idea of the ACA scraped entirely.

Still the president is optimistic.

"It took a hundred years for us to even get to the point where we could start talking about and implementing a law to make sure everybody's got health insurance, and my pledge to the American people is, is that we're going to solve the problems that are there, we're going to get it right, and the Affordable Care Act is going to work for the American people."

We certainly hope that includes not being charged a fee for not wanting to sign up.

[Watch video here].

See Also

H.R. 3350 – Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013
(Rep. Upton, R-MI, and 161 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 3350 because it threatens the health care security of hard working, middle class families.  The Nation is experiencing the slowest growth in health spending in the last 50 years.  Since 2008, growth in private health insurance spending stayed between three and four percent – significantly lower than earlier this decade when growth reached almost 12 percent.  With health care costs rising at such low rates, this bill would be a major step back. 
H.R. 3350 rolls back the progress made by allowing insurers to continue to sell new plans that deploy practices such as not offering coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men, and continuing yearly caps on the amount of care that enrollees receive.  The Administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have.  But, policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hardworking, middle class families are not the solution.  Rather than refighting old political battles to sabotage the health care law, the Congress should work with the Administration to improve the law and move forward.
If the President were presented with H.R. 3350, he would veto it.

Seen on the Internet. You decide.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who's That Girl?

Starbucks customer favors U.S. Congresswoman

If you didn't know any better, one might say this lovely lady pictured below looks a lot like former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle 'Gabby' Giffords.

Giffords represented Arizona's 8th congressional district from 2007 until her resignation on January 25, 2012, after having survived an attack on her life when she was shot in a mall parking lot while speaking to a group of her constituents.

We spotted the Giffords look-a-like (including the eyeglasses) while she was having coffee in a university Starbucks and immediately noticed the resemblance.

Valerie meeting with friends at Starbucks. Photo/CD Brown.

She told us her name is 'Valerie', and to our surprise said no one had ever told her she looked like Gabby Giffords.

"A younger Hillary [Clinton], but not Giffords", she said.

"Oh, you do look like her!", exclaimed one of the women in her party, after making the connection.

We asked if we could take her picture and she was kind enough to grant our request.

Thank you, Valerie.

Take a look at the two, and decide.  See any resemblance?

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Learn more about Gabrielle Giffords

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Richmond: Virginia's Race for Governor

The Gubernatorial election night saw a modest crowd of supporters inside Richmond's Marriott Hotel, but speeches from the candidates and a rather unexpected demonstration on a topic that still divides Democratic and Republican parties, made for an interesting evening.

Hear speeches from those who did not win - Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson, candidates for Virginia Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and more.

E.W. Jackson - Invokes the 'spirit' of George Washington with wife and daughter at his side. (What?)

Ken Cuccinelli to his constituents. "We fight for Virginia values."  Cuccinelli conceded his loss to Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe (but doesn't plan to congratulate him any time soon).

Group (Casa In Action) outside Richmond Marriott has message for Eric Cantor.  "Stop holding up immigration reform."  The group's concern are lack of jobs, education, and the deportation of American immigrants as it continues to break down their family structure.

Pictures on the evening by CD Brown.

Republican supporter dressed in Revolutionary War (Patriot) uniform.

A Cuccinelli campaign sign sits on the floor near a trashcan.

Early poll results show Cuccinelli in the lead.