Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law because it weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness and equality by preventing patriotic Americans who are gay from serving openly in our armed forces. At the same time, as Commander in Chief, I am committed to ensuring that we understand the implications of this transition, and maintain good order and discipline within our military ranks. That is why I directed the Department of Defense earlier this year to begin preparing for a transition to a new policy.
Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure—from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness—we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.
With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all. The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation. Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally. Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known.
Update: If you missed it, Obama said he's called on Congress to pass unemployment extension. He also appointed Timothy Geithner and his budget director to work with both parties to come up with a compromise on the tax cuts. The resolution is expected in a couple of days.
Obama called the meeting productive and judging from his comments, the republicans behaved like grown ups. I can't wait to watch the GOP press conference (I added that video below--they behaved like grown ups).
Here's the video:
In a letter to Obama, several prominent economists are calling for an extension of the unemployment benefits, something that the republicans are fighting against. Republicans -- and many democrats -- also are fighting against the expiration of the tax cuts for rich. It's hard to tell what -- if anything -- will happen in the meeting today. But it will be sad if at the very least unemployment benefits aren't extended.
Most Democrats and a handful of Republicans combined to defeat the effort, which would have effectively forbidden the Senate from considering legislation containing earmarks like road and bridge projects, community development funding, grants to local police departments and special-interest tax breaks.The democrats who voted against earmarks:
The 39-65 tally, however, was a better showing for earmark opponents, who lost a 29-71 vote earlier this year. Any votes next year should be closer because a band of anti-earmark Republicans is joining the Senate.
Earlier this month, Republicans bowed to tea party activists and passed a party resolution declaring GOP senators would give up earmarks. WaPo
Evan Bayh (D-IN) – retiring
Michael Bennet (D-CO) – freshman
Russ Feingold (D-WI) – defeated for reelection
Claire McCaskill (D-MO) – freshman, up for reelection in 2012
Bill Nelson (D-FL) – up for reelection in 2012
Mark Udall (D-CO) – freshman
Mark Warner (D-VA) – freshman
See the republicans who voted against the ban (for earmarks) here.
Obama and Biden meet with the party of no today for about an hour. Top priority is extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class (repubs are pushing tax cuts for the rich as well) and second is the START treaty. Also today, the military's survey of soldiers and family on Don't Ask Don't Tell is out.
Obama will speak to the press at 12:20 pm. Live stream here.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Tomorrow Obama meets with the republicans. His priorities, according to the Hill: No. 1 is the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class. No. 2 is the ratification of the START treaty.
Obama and the Senate democrats are also pushing for an extension of the unemployment benefits during the lame duck session. By the way, Obama can't pass the extension of unemployment benefits all by himself. Apparently, some people think he has that power. He needs Congress and they need to do it during the lame duck or else it's not likely to get done with the new stock of republicans, most of whom oppose extending unemployment benefits.
With unemployment benefits expected to lapse this week, 27 Senate Democrats are calling for a one-year extension of the program.
"As our nation continues to battle high unemployment rates, we must act immediately to continue vital safety-net coverage for those most in need," the lawmakers said Monday in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
Lawmakers are requesting an extension through the end of 2011, identical to what the White House is seeking. The Hill
At 11:35 a.m. eastern, Obama will announce a federal worker pay freeze. Live stream at msnbc.com.
At 1 p.m. eastern, Hillary Clinton will make a statement on WikiLeaks' recent dump. It will be live streamed at msnbc.com.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
From the new book: "I live Real Close to Where You Used to Live"
Dear Michelle Obama,
One of the solutions to greenhouse gas is hydrogen fusion. It’s when you fuse four H’s and you make an He and that releases a tremendous amount of heat. And after boiling the water and making electricity, it turns out that it makes, I think, 10 times the amount of electricity it takes to create the heat. The only problem with this is that it makes enough electricity to charge all the houses on a street for a couple weeks, but while traveling through the power lines two-thirds of the electricity is lost by the time it reaches the house. So it will be good to invest money in the power lines problem. Also, one of the best forms of renewable energy is solar panels. Even though they’re expensive now, I suggest investing money in commercials for them. The more they sell the cheaper they get.
— OMID TAVAKOLI, age 12, Flint, Mich.
Read more of the letters at NYT
I have mixed feelings about WikiLeaks' new dump. The New York Times is exercising some care in confidentiality.
The 251,287 cables, first acquired by WikiLeaks, were provided to The Times by an intermediary on the condition of anonymity. Many are unclassified, and none are marked “top secret,” the government’s most secure communications status. But some 11,000 are classified “secret,” 9,000 are labeled “noforn,” shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and noforn.Some of the leaks shine a light on Obama's leadership:
Many more cables name diplomats’ confidential sources, from foreign legislators and military officers to human rights activists and journalists, often with a warning to Washington: “Please protect” or “Strictly protect.”
The Times has withheld from articles and removed from documents it is posting online the names of some people who spoke privately to diplomats and might be at risk if they were publicly identified. The Times is also withholding some passages or entire cables whose disclosure could compromise American intelligence efforts. NYT
They also offer new insights into how President Obama, determined to merge his promise of “engagement” with his vow to raise the pressure on the Iranians, assembled a coalition that agreed to impose an array of sanctions considerably harsher than any before attempted.
When Mr. Obama took office, many allies feared that his offers of engagement would make him appear weak to the Iranians. But the cables show how Mr. Obama’s aides quickly countered those worries by rolling out a plan to encircle Iran with economic sanctions and antimissile defenses. In essence, the administration expected its outreach to fail, but believed that it had to make a bona fide attempt in order to build support for tougher measures. NYT
Philadelphia Mayor brought some fresh air to the Meet the Press roundtable today by challenging David Gregory's assumptions.
It's a forgone conclusion that Jon Kyl is opposing START for political reasons. I think Kyl has a petty personal Alpha male issue with Obama. Kyl and Durbin debate the ratification of the treaty with Russia, but Kyl can't come up with any substantive opposition:
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, coaches Oregon State, which played Howard. Arne Duncan, education secretary, was also in the stands.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The White House says President Barack Obama has received 12 stitches in his lip after being hit during a pick up basketball game.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says the president was inadvertently struck by someone's elbow Friday. more at LAT
If the presentation is like last year, Malia and Sasha will welcome the tree with their mom. There might be a live stream here.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Obamas are celebrating Thanksgiving at the White House. Today, Obama called 10 service members, thanked them and wished them happy Thanksgiving. On the dessert menu is pie: apple, sweet potato, huckleberry, cherry, banana cream and pumpkin.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Republicans were running off at the mouth about earmarks and wasteful government spending, even Mitch McConnell agreed to ban earmarks. But, in the fastest broken promise ever, Jon Kyl, who's battling Obama over the START treaty, reaped a big one:
Senate Republicans' ban on earmarks — money included in a bill by a lawmaker to benefit a home-state project or interest — was short-lived.
Only three days after GOP senators and senators-elect renounced earmarks, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, got himself a whopping $200 million to settle an Arizona Indian tribe's water rights claim against the government.
Kyl slipped the measure into a larger bill sought by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate on Friday to settle claims by black farmers and American Indians against the federal government. Kyl's office insists the measure is not an earmark, and the House didn't deem it one when it considered a version earlier this year. But it meets the know-it-when-you-see-it test, critics say.AP