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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Christmas begins!" when the White House Christmas Tree arrives

You know it's the Christmas holiday season in Washington when the official White House Christmas tree makes its arrival.

On Friday First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her two young nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson, graciously accepted the last Christmas tree of her tenure. The tree made its way up to the North Portico of the White House by a horse-drawn carriage flanked with a sign on the both sides that read, White House Christmas Tree 2016, while a military quartet played, O', Christmas Tree.

It isn't an elaborate ceremony by any stretch of the imagination, lasting just under ten minutes, but still delights reporters and guests who get an up close view of the first family and first dogs Bo and Sunny.

FLOTUS walks toward White House after accepting this year's Christmas tree
with her young nephews Aaron and Austin Robinson. Photo/CD Brown.
Past Christmas tree receptions have always featured Obama daughters Sasha and Malia. The girls opted out of this year's reception (and turkey pardoning), leaving a younger Obama generation to experience both White House traditions.

Mrs. Obama referred to her two young nephews as this year's "replacement kids."  The 'replacement kids' took in all the delight of the occasion posing for pictures in front of the tree and along side the horse-drawn carriage before the ceremony; photographs that will likely serve as family mementos as the Obamas wind down their final year in the White House.

"This is what happens when you get teenagers", Mrs. Obama said.

"One is asleep, these two are up", referring to the two handsome, young boys who obviously know a thing or two about Christmas trees.

"It's great", Austin said.

"Should we accept it?" asked the first lady to an approving reply of, "Yes."

It was a unanimous thumbs up to the beautiful 19-foot Balsam fir that will soon be decorated by military Gold Star and Blue Star family volunteers.

"Alright, our work here is done", the first lady said.

In about a week a decorated fir tree will adorn the Blue Room of the White House along with many other delightfully ornate and brightly colored Christmas decorations that are part of a White House Christmas tradition.

A final Obama family White House Christmas tree arrives. Photo/CD Brown.
This tree has history

This year's tree was donated by a tree farm in Pennsylvania and presented to First Lady Obama by Dave and Mary Vander Velden of Oconto, Wisconsin, who are the 2016 winners of the National Christmas Tree Association national tree contest.

Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room since 1966.

According to the association's web site The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) is the national trade association representing the Christmas tree industry representing more than 700 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 4,000 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related supplies and services.

Read more about White House Christmas trees here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers Make White House Visit; James Makes Three-peat Visit

On Thursday, LeBron James made his third White House appearance as a NBA Champion; twice with the Miami Heat (2012, 2014) and on Thursday with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. James joined his team on the South Lawn (previous honors took place in the East Room) of the White House as President Obama honored the 2015 Champions after having won their first-ever NBA title in the franchise’s history.

Kevin Love  presents a Cavs jersey to President Obama. Photo/CD Brown.
Said President Obama, "They start winning their first 10 games in the playoffs, setting record after record for three-point shooting.  But obviously what this all comes down to is a team that, for the first time in NBA history, comes back from being down 3-1 in the finals -- the first team in history to dig themselves out of a hole like that."

Obama gave his synopsis of Game 7 calling the comeback, "remarkable."

"The comeback was remarkable, And you learn about people when they’re down against a historically good Warriors team", said the president. "Cavs won Games 5 and 6 by double digits.  You had both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving becoming the first duo ever to score 40 points apiece in a Finals game. And then, in Game 7, the Cavs fall behind on the road, only to fight back and lock up the title with an unbelievable two minutes.  There was “The Block” what LeBron has said was the defining play of his career.  “The Shot” by Kyrie putting the Cavs up five. “The Stop” by Kevin Love... I hadn’t seen defense like that."

Cavs in the Community

The president also commented on the work the Cavs have done in their community.

"And that’s why the Cavs have always given back to their fans and the community that’s been so loyal to them.  Over the last 22 years, they’ve given more than $23 million to local charities. And more than just the money players and coaches made about 200 visits annually to schools, hospitals, food kitchens, and more, including assisting educational programs that reach more than 100,000 kids in Northeast Ohio."

The franchise has also supported the Obama adminstration's My Brother’s Keeper, Let’s Move! and Joining Forces initiatives. James has committed to paying tuition to over 1,100 deserving Cleveland youth.

The 6-1 Cavaliers are in town to take on the 2-5 Washington Wizards Friday at Verizon Center.

In this vid, James talks about meeting their rival Wizards.

See : Cavs visit veterans.

President-elect Trump meets President Obama

President Obama met Thursday with president-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office, the first time the two men have ever met. The pair spoke for nearly two hours in a meeting that Obama described as "excellent."

The president said the pair discussed both foreign and domestic policy and explained  he was looking for a "smooth transition" of political power. Obama said he advised his "team" to ensure that president-elect Trump "has everything he needs to succeed."

WATCH: President Obama meets Trump

Said President Obama, "I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with President-elect Trump.  It was wide-ranging.  We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House.  We talked about foreign policy.  We talked about domestic policy.  And as I said last night, my number-one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful."

Trump met with President Obama Thursday. Photo/ P. Martinez
There have been several anti-Trump protests across the country since he won the election. While the news has reported on protests in major U.S., to include Washington, D.C., smaller cities have also staged protests. Students across the country are also having their say. Students at Virginia Commonwealth Universtiy in Richmond, Va met at the Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee Wednesday at midnight to protest Trump's racism as well as Richmond's racist past.  With chants of "f*8k Trump!", students also chanted "and f*8k these racist statues."

Trump campaigned on what many said were racist ideas and ideology, suggesting he would "build a wall" to keep Mexicans out of the country. He also made disparaging remarks about Muslims to infer all were responsible for ISIS and Islamic attacks on the U.S.

In light of the Trump-inspired divisiveness within the country President Obama is hopeful.

"And, I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face."

Trump appeared civil during his visit with Obama saying he had "great respect" and was looking forward to meeting with President Obama in the future.

"So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future", Trump said.

While the two men were meeting, First Lady Michelle Obama met with the in-coming first lady to also ensure a smooth transition.

The White House has produced a fact sheet entitled Facilitating Smooth Transition to the Next Administration mapping out the transition planning that includes preparing for the incoming administration, ensuring this Administration’s records are appropriately archived, and facilitating the off-boarding of current Administration personnel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

White House Staffers on Trump Win

Thanks to White House pooler Jen Bendery of the Huffington Post for providing this report on the mood of White House staffers after President Obama delivered remarks on president-elect Trump's win.

Bendery wrote:

"Obama gave remarks in the Rose Garden about Donald Trump winning last night's presidential race.

The event was open press, but here's a little color.

Obama talked for about 10 minutes about the need to unify the country now that the election is over. Biden stood alongside him."

Quoting from President Obama's remarks, Bendery writes, "A lot of Americans are exalted today. A lot of Americans are less so," he said with a slight chuckle. "Don't get cynical. Don't ever think you can't make a difference."

At least 150 WH staffers came out to hear Obama speak. They lined up in the garden behind the press, listening intently. When he was done, they applauded for a solid minute, at least. Your pooler saw three staffers crying, and many others with closed eyes or staring up at the sky.

Bendery further writes: "The mood here is somber and quiet. Your pooler asked one aide in tears what was going through her mind; she said "I'm just sad," before walking away. 

When it was suggested to another aide that today was bittersweet, the aide replied, "I don't know about sweet."

How The White House Is Dealing With the Trump Win

The individual who made it his business to insult Muslims, African Americans, women, the disabled, his running mates, stated that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and has shown an affinity for Russian president Vladmir Putin (and Wikileaks) has convinced Americans that he is the better choice to be president of the United States of America.

President-elect Donald Trump. Photo/NY Times
In a stunning upset Trump, who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, Tom 'Deflate-Gate' Brady and Deflate-Gate enabler Bill Belichick defeated rivalry (and long-time friend) Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the 45th president.

[Listen to Trump's acceptance speech.]

Supporters came out in mass to support the man that opponents said didn't have the temperament to be president, was a lose cannon on Twitter and bragged about groping women's crouches. In the wake of several women coming forth to claim they were in someway affected by Trump's behavior, Trump subdued and silenced the Democratic party by winning 276 of the electoral votes (270 was needed). Clinton, who struggled to connect with millennial (despite performances from entertainers Jay-Z, BeyoncĂ© and an extraordinary effort by Chance the Rapper) in the same way her boss did in both 2008 and 2012, manged to win only  218.

Trump supporters cheer win. Photo/NY Times
Clinton did manage to win Virginia (a mainly Democractic state) and her (and Trump's) home state of New York. Florida, the battleground state where many hoped would sure up the election for Clinton after Trump attacked the Latina community, favored Trump instead. The 'Latinas for Trump' movement is real. Trump won 29 electoral votes in Florida, the state that has decided every presidential election since 1992.

Reaction to Trump win

Twitter sphere was all abuzz over president-elect Trump's win. Click here to see what world leaders tweeted and what Mexico's president had to say.

Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (who we expect might be rewarded handsomely by Trump, if he decides to pay her) said the win was "quite delicious" and said the 'undercover' Trump supporters was also "real" in helping Trump win.  The undercovers are those secretly and covertly kept their decision private from friends and family all the while knowing they would cast their vote for Trump.

With Trump basking in his win, promising to "not let you down", both Clinton and President Obama have come to the realization of the current event telephoning Trump to congratulate Trump on his historic win.

Clinton's 2016 concession speech (Remarks at 43:11)

The White House put out this statement earlier this morning.

"From the White House residence, the President phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory early this morning. The President also called Secretary Clinton and expressed admiration for the strong campaign she waged throughout the country. 

The President will make a statement on Wednesday at the White House to discuss the election results and what steps we can take as a country to come together after this hard-fought election season. 

** Update** 12:35 p.m. - President Obama's speech on Trump win 

The President invited the President-elect to meet with him at the White House on Thursday, November 10th, to update him on the transition planning his team has been working on for nearly a year. Ensuring a smooth transition of power is one of the top priorities the President identified at the beginning of the year and a meeting with the President-elect is the next step."

MUST SEE: More reaction to Trump win

The New York Times apparently had cameras everywhere and has reaction from several demographics responding to the Trump win. Click here to view.

See also: Trump at WHCAS | Trump not running for president | Trump declares run for presidency |
Clinton's 2008 concession speech |