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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On the hill today: Cameras off? Periscope.

Akin to filibustering, House Democrats today staged a sit-in on the House floor in an effort to get Congress to act on gun violence legislation.  The sit-in, initiated by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), includes 40 other democratic representatives who have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak.

When asked for order on the floor, Rep. John Larsen (D-CT) bounded the House lectern saying, "We will NOT come to order. We want a vote."

Democrats, acting in response to this month's Orlando nightclub massacre, demanded that Congress, at the very least, discuss measures to enact commonsense gun legislation, to include background checks.  Congress, as it has been reported, favors gun lobbyists and the NRA.

Republicans shut down C-SPAN cameras covering the event, leaving Democrats to take matters into their own hands, in an unprecedented move, by Periscoping and live-tweeting the event.

Rep. John Larsen on the house floor today.  h/t: Herald Sun

First Lady Snap Chat(ting) her way around the globe to Let Girls Learn.

First Lady Michelle Obama plans to use the social media platform Snap Chat to give viewers access to her upcoming trip to Africa and the Kingdom of Spain.

Follow FLOTUS on Snap Chat here.

Mrs. Obama, who is adamant about supporting the right of girls - everywhere - to get an education will be taking her message to Liberia, Morocco and Spain June 27-July 1, along with First Grandma Marian Robinson.

The first lady's Let Girls Learn initiative focuses on ensuring adolescent girls get the necessary education and training needed to cultivate their futures, as opposed to adolescent marriages and starting families at very young ages.

"I've had the opportunity to travel all around the world and I meet these amazing young women and they impress me with how bright and how hungry they are no matter what their circumstances are; they risk their lives for an education", said the first lady in a recent MAKERS interview.

It has been reported that worldwide more than 62 million girls, half of them adolescents, are not in school. Millions more are fighting to stay there.

"They have so much promise that we can't afford to waste", said the first lady.

While the first lady is tending to the educational needs of girls her husband, president of the United States, Barack Obama continues to lend his hand to the needs of adolescent and teen boys with his My Brother's Keeper initiative.  Today, the president joined Derek Jeter who addressed what both are doing to mentor young men.

President Obama chats with Derek Jeter on mentoring.  Photo/ Player's Tribune
SEE ALSO: President Obama in 3D

The president has received support from cities around the U.S. to show that the lives of young people matter.  The president said it doesn't take much, but each city can do something.

"But each individual city may do something different, depending on what they need.  There are some cities where summer jobs are the biggest priority and that’s what My Brother’s Keeper has been focused on.  Other places -- in addition to mentorship programs -- there has been encouraging young men to get to college, and how do they apply for financial aid forms, and organizing college visits.

See their conversation here.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

President Obama remarks on the passing of Muhammad Ali

Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2016

Statement from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the Passing of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.  Period.  If you just asked him, he’d tell you.  He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.” 

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing. 

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing.  But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time. 

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.  I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared.  “I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own.  Get used to me.” 

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right.  A man who fought for us.  He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.  His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.  It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.  But Ali stood his ground.  And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved.  But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.  Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes. 

Muhammad Ali shook up the world.  And the world is better for it.  We are all better for it.  Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.


The president later called Ali's widow to offer his condolences:

"This afternoon, President Obama called Yolanda "Lonnie" Williams to offer his family's deepest condolences for the passing of her husband, Muhammad Ali.  The President expressed to Lonnie how fortunate he and the First Lady felt to have met Muhammad, and noted that the outpouring of love since his death is a true testament to his remarkable life. He recounted how special it was to have witnessed "The Champ" change the arc of history."

FLOTUS gives City College commencement address

Michelle Obama gave the commencement address at The City College in New York on Friday. It was her last as First Lady of the United States.

"Let me just take it all in", she said.

The first lady gave some very poignant remarks, and great advice, to the 2016 graduating class.


First Lady Obama has made 23 commencement addresses during her tenure, since 2009, per the White House:

In 2009, Mrs. Obama addressed the first full graduating class at the University of California, Merced and spoke at the Washington Math and Science Tech Public Charter High School Graduation in Washington, DC. In 2010, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the George Washington University, and the Anacostia Senior High School. In 2011, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of the University of Northern Iowa, Spelman College, and Quantico Middle High School. In 2012, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of Virginia Tech, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and Oregon State University. In 2013, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of Eastern Kentucky State University, Bowie State University, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School. In 2014, Mrs. Obama addressed graduates of Dillard University, the District of Columbia College Access Program, and an assembly of high schools in the Topeka, Kansas Public School District. In 2015, Mrs. Obama addressed the graduates of Oberlin College, Tuskegee University, and Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory High School. In 2016, Mrs. Obama has addressed Jackson State University and Santa Fe Indian School.

Here's some background on City College, according to their website.

The founding institution of the City University of New York, City College offers outstanding teaching, learning and research on a beautiful campus in the heart of the world's most dynamic city.Our classrooms are equipped with the technology for a truly interactive learning environment.Our libraries hold 1.5 million volumes and provide online access to the resources of the entire university.Our laboratories are engines of innovation, where students and faculty push the boundaries of knowledge.

Outstanding programs in architecture, engineering, education and the liberal arts and sciences prepare our students for the future, and produce outstanding leaders in every field.Whether they are drawn to the traditional, like philosophy or sociology, or emerging fields like sonic arts or biomedical engineering, our baccalaureate graduates go on to graduate programs at Stanford, Columbia or MIT – or they stay right here in one of our 50 master's programs or our doctoral programs in engineering, the laboratory sciences, and psychology.

Nowhere else in the city do undergraduates have so many opportunities to conduct research with professors and publish and present their findings.In our science, engineering and social science programs, more than 300 undergrads work alongside senior researchers in funded projects.

The college has also produced ten Nobel Peace Prize winners.

POTUS 2016 commencements
Rutgers | Howard