Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform July 1

Obama will speak at 10:50 am eastern. Look for a live stream here and here.
"It’s an issue that’s important right now," Burton said. "It’s important at the border. It’s important for folks who are employing people all over the country. It’s an important issue ... and the president thinks that right now, given the focus on it, it’s important that he makes clear exactly where he stands on it.

"There’s been the Arizona law, there’s been meetings about it, there’s been protests about it," he said. "He thought this was a good time to talk plainly with the American people about his views on immigration." The Hill

Obama's Town Hall in Racine Video June 30

Full video:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody have a seat, if you’ve got a chair. (Laughter.) Well, thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. It’s great to see you. (Applause.) It’s good to be back in Racine! (Applause.) It is great to be back in this hall -- because I don't know if there was anybody here who, when I was running for President came -- (applause) -- we did a rally in this hall. That's like -- is that three years ago? (Laughter.) I did not have as much gray hair back then. (Laughter.) That I'm certain of. Jim Doyle still had hair on his head. (Laughter.) That's true.

I want to make some acknowledgements. First of all, you’ve got one of the best governors in the country and one of the most wonderful first ladies -- (applause) -- Jim Doyle and Jessica Doyle are here. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge your outstanding and dynamic young mayor -- John Dickert is here. (Applause.) You know, I try not to meddle in local politics, but you’ve got a Milwaukee mayor who might make a really good governor -- Tom Barrett is here. (Applause.) State Treasury Dawn Marie Sass is here. (Applause.) And State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is here. (Applause.)

I also want to thank Bishop Darrell Hines for doing the invocation -- (applause) -- Justine Boerger for doing the Pledge -- (applause) -- and Staff Sergeant Emily Russell, who is with the Wisconsin National Guard and sang our National Anthem. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

So it is great to be back in the Midwest -- even if it’s just for a day -- especially on a day like today. I was trying to tell somebody that weather in the Midwest is always like this. (Laughter.) You know, lakes all calm and blue -- they didn’t believe me. But it’s wonderful to be here, and it’s just nice to get out of Washington. I love Washington, but I have to tell you, it’s good to escape the heat and hot air. (Laughter and applause.)

So I stopped off on the way here to get a Kringle. (Applause.) Which was nice. Maybe on the way back I'll look for a brat and some cheese curds. (Laughter.) But don’t tell Michelle. (Laughter.)

What I really wanted to do was have a chance to talk to all of you and listen to you about what’s on your minds. So this is going to be a town hall meeting. But I want to make some remarks at the top, if you don’t mind.

I know that towns like Racine are still hurting from this recession. This city has the second-highest unemployment rate in the state, and I can only imagine how much pain that’s caused and how many lives have been upended. And you got, as I said, a dynamic young mayor who’s thinking day in, day out, about how to put people back to work, and the city has been cooperating with the state and federal programs to figure out how we can start incubating a bunch of growth here, but it’s still tough.

And some of you may be out of work, and you’re tired of sending out resumes and not getting a response. Maybe you’ve got a job, but the bills seem to be stacking up faster than your pay is. Maybe you’ve looked through the family budget and you’ve got no idea how you’re going to save for your retirement or send your kid to college. Or maybe you’re a young person who’s just about to get out of school and you’re wondering what your job prospects are going to be. Read the rest

Bipartisan Fiscal Commission Meeting 3 Video

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Obama Holds Town Hall in Racine Wisconsin June 30

Obama will arrive in Racine at 1 pm eastern and at 2:15 pm, he'll hold a town hall meeting on the economy. Look for a live stream at
Obama leaves Racine at 4:15 pm and arrives back at the White House at 6:10 pm.
The fiscal commission is also holding its third meeting tomorrow at 1 pm. The commission is figuring out ways to cut the deficit.

White House Press Briefing June 29

Gibbs response to Boehner's ant comment:

Obama Meets With King Abdullah Video

The King makes Obama laugh out loud when he says: may god spare us from the media and all of the bad things they can do to us. Amen.

Petraeus Listens to McCain's Rant on Afghanistan Withdrawal Deadline

The planned July 2011 withdrawal of SOME troops in Afghanistan has been a bug up John McCain's butt. The deadline, timeline, whatever you want to call it seems to be confusing to many. It seems to me that the withdrawal timeline isn't there to discourage our allies or so that terrorists can regroup, as McCain insists. The deadline is there so that the corrupt Karzai government has a time frame in order to get its act together.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The video cuts off before Petraeus gets a chance to speak but here's some of what he said:
Petraeus tried to make his position clear, reiterating a comment he made during hearings on Afghanistan two weeks ago: “It’s important to note that July 2011 will be the beginning of a process ... not the date by which we head for the exits and turn off the lights.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) zeroed in on the essential difficulty facing the Obama administration — how to balance continued support for the war with calls from his liberal base to make plans to exit as soon as possible. Citing a quote attributed to Vice President Joe Biden in Jonathan Alter’s book “The Promise” — that “you can bet on it” that in July 2011 a large number of troops will come home — Graham asked Petraeus whether the comment was accurate.

Petraeus responded in his typically artful style by reframing it. Petraeus said he had a conversation with Biden immediately after meeting with the president in the Oval Office about the much-argued-over July 2011 withdrawal date.

“The vice president said, ‘You should know that I’m 100 percent supportive of this policy,’” Petraeus said, and he added that neither he nor Defense Secretary Robert Gates had heard Biden make the statement quoted in Alter’s book. Read more at Politco

Obama Speaks on Economy Following Bernanke Meeting Video

Obama's Schedule Includes Meeting With King June 29

Right about now, Obama is meeting with a bipartisan group of senators on energy reform. This meeting was canceled last week due to McChrystal's shenanigans. McChrystal has decided to retire.
12 pm eastern, Obama gets briefed on the oil disaster.
1:05 pm, Obama meets King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
3:40 pm, Obama meets with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on immigration reform.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is on the gulf coast. He'll be visiting Pomes Seafood and making at statement at 1 pm.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Elena Kagan's Opening Statement

The grilling of Obama's Supreme Court nominee got underway today. Kagan starts out honoring Sen. Byrd, a carrier of the Constitution, who died today.

Netanyahu to Meet With Obama at White House July 6

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Obama July 6, according to The Israel Project.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Washington for talks with President Obama July 6, during which the two leaders are expected to discuss progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and other bilateral security issues.[1]

Netanyahu’s upcoming trip will be his fifth White House visit since taking office in March 2009.[2] Netanyahu originally planned to meet with Obama June 1, but postponed it in order to deal with the aftermath of a May 31 Israeli operation to prevent an illegal flotilla from reaching Gaza.[3 IP

Obama Proposes Boosting Mobile Web Access

President Barack Obama proposed today almost doubling the airwaves available for smartphones, laptop connections to the Internet and new wireless devices.
Obama signed a memorandum that commits the U.S. to free up 500 megahertz of government and commercial spectrum in the next 10 years, to meet demands for mobile access to broadband services.
The proposals may face resistance from television station owners such as CBS Corp. and News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting that gave up airwaves as part of their switch to digital signals last year, and have sought to keep their remaining allocation. Wireless carriers led by AT&T Inc. are seeking more spectrum. Read more at Business Week

Obama's Meeting With Japan's New Prime Minister at G20 Video

Obama's Meeting With India's Singh at G20 Video

Obama said he and Michelle have accepted an invitation to visit India.

Elena Kagan Hearings Begin

Elena Kagan is expected to be confirmed, even though republicans intend to vigorously attack. The hearings will be live streamed here starting at 12:30 pm eastern.
For weeks leading up to the start of Elena Kagan's Senate confirmation hearings Monday, Republicans have struggled to find a compelling line of attack to take against the Supreme Court nominee. But their efforts to wield an effective cudgel against President Obama's second nomination to the country's highest court have largely failed. WaPo

Byrd Dies at 92

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Robert Carlyle Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress in United States history, who spent much of his career as a conservative Democrat and ended it by fiercely opposing the war in Iraq and questioning the state's powerful coal industry, died Monday. He was 92.

"I am saddened that the family of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., tearfully announces the passing" of the senator, Jesse Jacobs, Byrd's press spokesman, said in a statement.

Byrd died at 3 a.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., according to the statement. WVG
Obama's statement:
I was saddened to hear this morning that the people of West Virginia have lost a true champion, the United States Senate has lost a venerable institution, and America has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Robert C. Byrd.

Senator Byrd’s story was uniquely American. He was born into wrenching poverty, but educated himself to become an authoritative scholar, respected leader, and unparalleled champion of our Constitution. He scaled the summit of power, but his mind never strayed from the people of his beloved West Virginia. He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.

He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors. His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history. He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator.

We take solace in the fact that he is reunited with his wife of nearly 69 years, Erma; and our thoughts and prayers are with their daughters, their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all the people of West Virginia who loved Robert C. Byrd.

Byrd, a fiddler at heart:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Junger on Life as a Combat Soldier

Combat comes down to fear, killing and love. Sebastian Junger, author of "War" and co-director of "Restrepo," says if we left Afghanistan, the results would be catastrophic.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Obama's Speaks and Answers Questions at G20 June 27

Full video:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After three days in Canada at the G8 and G20 gatherings of world leaders, Obama just finished speaking at the G20 and has one more meeting with Japan's new Prime Minister Kan Naoto, according to the WestWingReport. Then Obama heads back to the White House.
Obama says for some reason people keep being surprised when he does what says he was going to do. People should learn a lesson, he said.
Some of what he said, courtesy of CBS' Mark Knoller's tweets (I'll post video when it's up):
On NKorea, Obama says world needs to break "bad habit" of shying away from holding NK resp for its actions - ;like sinking of SK ship.
Obama notes Afghanistan is now America's longest war and "we’ll need to provide assistance to Afghanistan for a long time to come."
Obama expects that by end of year we'll "see progress" in Afghanistan & will conduct review & fix "those things not working."
Obama urges China against "willful blindness" about North Korea's "provocative and deadly" conduct.
Obama will get a better opportunity to talk to China's President Hu when he comes to the White House for a State Dinner.
Check out some photos here.

Obama's Meeting with Indonesian President at G20 Video

The Indonesian partnership from the White House:
The Comprehensive Partnership is a long-term commitment by Presidents Obama and Yudhoyono to broaden, deepen and elevate bilateral relations between the United States and Indonesia. It recognizes the global significance of enhanced cooperation between the world’s second and third largest democracies, the tremendous possibilities for economic and development cooperation, and the importance of fostering exchanges and mutual understanding between two of the world’s most diverse nations.

We have made significant progress since work began on the Partnership in mid-2009. Together we launched a Peace Corps program that will promote understanding between the Indonesian and American people. Our two governments signed agreements for Science and Technology Cooperation and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which will underpin deepened engagement by our two countries in two of the most dynamic sectors of our relationship. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense signed a Framework Arrangement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense that will enhance the quality of security cooperation. Most recently, Ex-Im Bank Chairman Hochberg announced in Jakarta on June 18 a $1 billion credit facility in partnership with 11 Indonesian banks to facilitate bilateral trade.

We have also seen unprecedented levels of high-level consultation and engagement on bilateral, regional, and global issues. This is the second bilateral meeting between the two Presidents in the past eight months. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with Indonesian Minister of Defense Purnomo in Singapore on June 4th to discuss ways to deepen our already robust security cooperation. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke led the first cabinet-level trade mission to Indonesia May 25-26, promoting U.S. exports in a broad range of clean energy technologies. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the “Breathe Easy Jakarta” initiative, partnering with the Jakarta regional government to assess and reduce key sources of urban air pollution in Jakarta. Science Envoy Bruce Alberts explored new areas for cooperation in Science and Technology during a visit to Indonesia in May. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero visited Indonesia and engaged their Indonesian counterparts in wide-ranging strategic dialogues.

The U.S. Secretary of State and the Indonesian Foreign Minister will co-chair a Joint Commission later this year that will ensure continued momentum and progress on the Comprehensive Partnership. The two Presidents will launch the Comprehensive Partnership when President Obama visits Indonesia. In that spirit, today the two Presidents agreed to initiate major initiatives advancing Higher Education and confronting Climate Change.

Higher Education Partnership

The United States will invest $165 million over five years in programs facilitating the vital exchange of leadership and management experience, scientific and technical expertise, and cultural understanding between Americans and Indonesians. This support includes:

Expanding of our exchange programs, including Fulbright, the Community College Initiative, and the State Department’s English-language training, student advising services, and other exchanges;
Launching a major five-year effort to improve the quality of higher education in Indonesia through a University Partnership program supporting collaboration between select U.S. and Indonesian higher education institutions;
The U.S. Government has also invited the Indonesian Minister of National Education to travel to the United States next summer for a U.S.-Indonesia Higher Education Summit to advance our cooperation in education.
Environment and Climate Change Cooperation

The United States recognizes President Yudhoyono’s early pledge at the G-20 in Pittsburgh to reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 41% below business as usual by 2020, as well as Indonesia’s support for the G-20 to pledge to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. In order to support these pledges, the Copenhagen Accord, and our shared goals on climate change, President Obama committed $136 million over three years in an array of programs toward Environment and Climate Change cooperation, which include:

The $119 million SOLUSI partnership, which represents the major areas of Environment and Climate engagement—Science, Oceans, Land Use, Society and Innovation -- and means “Solution” in Indonesian. Programs encompassed under SOLUSI include a second Tropical Forest Conservation Act agreement, Forestry and Climate Support Project (IFACS), Marine and Climate Support Program (IMACS), Clean Energy Development (ICED) program, and others.
Supporting Indonesia in establishing a Climate Change Center that will work closely with national, regional, and local stakeholders in and out of government, linking science to policy on strategic priorities in the climate change area, and focusing initially on emissions from peatlands. The United States is pleased to announce $7 million in support for the Center and $10 million for associated projects and partnerships, including public-private partnerships focused on addressing climate-related challenges in Indonesia. Indonesia and the United States welcome Norway’s matching contribution to the Center and encourage other countries and institutions to join in its development.

Obama and South Korean President Lee at G20 Video

Obama and Cameron at the G20 Video

Sen. Robert Byrd Hospitalized

The office of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), 92, announced Sunday the longest serving senator in history was "seriously ill" and had been admitted to an unnamed Washington-area hospital.

Byrd checked into the hospital with what was believed to be heat exhaustion late last week, and aides believed he would stay just a few days. Instead, more serious issues were discovered. Read more at WaPo

Leon Panetta's Interview with Jake Tapper June 27 Video

The roundtable.

Schieffer: McChrystal Insulted the Office of the Presidency

There's been a lot of disrespect of the office of the president lately. The right wing of the republican party and the tea party have been trying to undermine the office of the presidency since Obama took office.

Meet the Press Roundtable on Afghanistan

Meet the Press roundtable was pretty good this morning, especially Sebastian Junger, Wes Moore and Tom Hick's comments. Junger has a new movie and a new book out. I wish the conversation could've been longer.
As humans, we shouldn't be in Afghanistan at all. War damages every human spirit. Soldiers get the full physical, mental and spiritual impact of war. The most ignorant thing we do is send soldiers off to war, break their spirits and then expect them to return to normalcy when they come home.
No war is ever "won." You can't win a war because if it costs one single life, then it can never be a win. The McChrystal debacle, in my mind, illustrates the idiocy of war.
But there are real world realities. Human beings do really dumb things. There are terrorists out there.
One of our nation's biggest blunders is invading Iraq and letting Afghanistan languish. We've helped to create a disaster in which there are no good solutions. Afghanistan's own leader, the loathsome Hamid Karzai, stands in the way of progress. Hicks says Karzai's government is the biggest problem in Afghanistan. But he says the biggest mistake would be to leave Afghanistan. Nothing is right in Afghanistan. It almost seems hopeless there.

A couple of good reads and two opposing opinions on Afghanistan today, one by Andrew Bacevich here and another by Tom Ricks here.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hu to Have Dinner at the White House

At the G20, Obama invited China's President Hu Jintao to din din. This will be the third state dinner at the White House. The first was India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and most recently, Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico.

Read Obama and Hu's remarks on their meeting at the G20 here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Obama G8 Photos 2010

See Obama's G20 schedule tomorrow here.
Obama's arrival to G8

Obama, Medvedev, Harper

Obama, Zuma, Cameron

Obama and African Outreach Leaders family photo

Obama, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal

Obama, Cameron, Merkel

G8 and G20 Roundup June 26

Obama and PM David Cameron flew from G8 to G20 together

Video of Obama's arrival to the G20 here.

Read Obama's "From Crisis to Recovery" here.
Read Obama's opening statements and more on the White House blog here.
Obama met with leaders of China, South Korea and UK.
Read Obama and China President Hu's remarks here.
Read Obama and South Korean President Lee's remarks here.
Read Obama and Cameron's remarks here.
Read Timothy Geithner's press briefing here.
Read the G8 declaration here.
Read the G8 statement on nuclear weapons and Iran here.
Read the G8 initiative on hunger here.
The G20 leaders are meeting again in November in South Korea.
Visit the G20 site here.

G8 joint statement on Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict by Dmitry Medvedev, President Of The Russian Federation, Barack Obama, President Of The United States Of America, and Nicolas Sarkozy, President Of The French Republic:
We, the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group's Co-Chair countries, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America, reaffirm our commitment to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they finalize the Basic Principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We welcome as a significant step the recognition by both sides that a lasting settlement must be based upon the Helsinki Principles and the elements that we proposed in connection with our statement at the L’Aquila Summit of the Eight on July 10, 2009, relating to: the return of the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh guaranteeing security and self-governance, a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; final status of Nagorno-Karabakh to be determined in the future by a legally-binding expression of will, the right of all internally-displaced persons and refugees to return, and international security guarantees, including a peacekeeping operation.

Now the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan need to take the next step and complete the work on the Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin. We instruct our Ministers and Co-Chairs to work intensively to assist the two sides to overcome their differences in preparation for a joint meeting in Almaty on the margins of OSCE Informal Ministerial.
Here is a readout of Obama's meeting with Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper:
President Obama and Prime Minister Harper met shortly after the G8 dinner session on Friday night. The two leaders have coordinated closely leading up to - and through - the G8. They reviewed the progress that was made throughout the day, and agreed to continue to coordinate their efforts heading into the G20. They also briefly discussed a range of bilateral and global issues. The President appreciates the leadership that Prime Minister Harper has shown around the G8 and G20 Summits.
Obama and S. Korean President Lee, Obama and Cameron

Obama's Statement Opposing Torture

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, one of the foremost international human rights documents. The United States was a leader in the document’s drafting, and remains dedicated to supporting its principles at home and abroad.

I continue to believe that brutal methods of interrogation are inconsistent with our values, undermine the rule of law, and are not effective means of obtaining information. They alienate the United States from the world, and serve as a recruitment and propaganda tool for terrorists. They increase the will of our enemies to fight against us, and endanger our troops when they are captured. The United States will not use or support these methods.

Over the past year, the Department of State has, at my request, gathered information from our embassies around the world about effective mechanisms to stop torture and assist its victims. I have asked the Department of State to share this information with interested international and non-governmental organizations, and to develop a system of advice and tools to share with governments and other relevant actors in addressing this problem.

The United States will continue to support the efforts of other nations and international and nongovernmental organizations, to eradicate torture through human rights training for security forces, capacity building, and encouraging robust legislation against such practices. We will also continue our close collaboration with international and domestic groups working to rehabilitate and reintegrate torture victims and offenders. I am sincerely grateful for the efforts of all the men and women around the world who are working to end the scourge of torture.

Obama's Schedule in Toronto for G20 June 27

9 am eastern (all times eastern), Obama takes part in G20 opening session.
10:15 am, Obama takes part in G20 leaders working session.
10:45 am, another G20 session.
12:30 pm, Family photo of G20 leaders.
1 pm, Obama meets with My Summit 2010 Youth.
1:15 pm, Obama lunches with G20ers.
3 pm, Obama takes part in another session.
4:45, Obama meets with Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.

Feinberg Meets With Gulf Coast Residents

Kenneth Feinberg, in charge of administering the BP money to gulf coast residents, has a tough job. A lot of people are lined up with valid claims and a lot of greedy people are lined up trying to take away money from those with valid claims. Feinberg says it will take 30 days to get claims paid. This summer, Feinberg will stop being the "pay czar" to focus solely on BP claims administration. Feinberg has been supervising executive pay of companies that were bailed out, including AIG, GM and Chrysler.

Obama Urges Completion of Wall Street Reforms

The financial reforms are expected by July 4. This is Obama's weekly address:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some of Obama's Accomplishments So Far

Update March 18, 2012: A nice list of 13 accomplishments, including perhaps the most important, sparing us from a great depression and doing it with a cool head and without any assist from the republicans. Not only did he not get an assist, he's gotten active resistance, republican boulders in his way. Obama's gotten more done in 3 years than any president in recent history.

Update May 1, 2011: The end of bin Laden. 
Update Dec. 23: Read round two of Obama's accomplishments so far. 

Here is a fabulous source: Obama's achievements
Rachel Maddow has a pretty good rundown of Obama's accomplishments.

See a compilation of signed legislation here.

Some of the accomplishments include:
Wall Street reform (coming any day now)
Race to the Top education reform
Credit card reform
Stimulus aka recovery and reinvestment act (totally separate from the bank bailouts). You wouldn't know it with all the GOP propaganda, but the stimulus created at least 2.5 million jobs, kept us out of a depression.
Saving GM

Lilly Ledbetter equal pay for equal work act
Appointed 2 women -- Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen -- to the Supreme Court
Hate crimes prevention act
Student loan reform (piggybacked on healthcare)
Healthcare reform
Cancelled the F-22
Funded energy and science research
Nuclear arms treaty with Russia
The Obamameter: Tracking Obama's campaign promises

Obama's Schedule in Toronto for G20 June 26

Obama arrives in Canada

Canada's government is tweeting the G8 and G20, posting photos and such. There's also live video and news from the summit here.
Read about the G8 Maternal and Child Health initiative here.

9 am eastern (all times eastern), Obama takes part in the G8 working session.

11:45 am, Obama leaves Muskoka for Toronto.

12:35 pm, Obama gets to Toronto.

2:15 pm, Obama speaks with Prime Minister of UK David Cameron.

3:15 pm, Obama meets with President Lee of South Korea.

4:15 pm, Obama meets with China's President Hu

Michelle Obama and Medvedeva Visit Duke Ellington School

Michelle and Medvedeva attend a performance at Duke Ellington School for the Arts

Read Michelle Obama and the First Lady of Russia, Svetlana Medvedeva's speech here:
MRS. MEDVEDEVA: (As translated.) Dear Michelle Obama, dear friends, it is with great interest and with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to come and visit your school, a school that’s named after a great American musician, Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington is very well known in Russia and he is very popular, his music is very popular in Russia. (Applause.)

I know that your school is not a regular school. I know the kids who go to this school are a very talented and versatile people. I know that in addition to regular subjects, you guys also specialize in different arts such as music and dance, literature and design.

I know that your school is very young. But I also know that you are interested in different arts. You’ve demonstrated love for classical music, and also for folk music and your own kind of music.

I would like to tell you that in Russia we also are very much interested in supporting talented and gifted children. There are lots of schools for gifted children in Russia. There are a lot of ballet schools, one of them in St. Petersburg named after a very famous ballerina, Vaganova. There are also arts schools in Russia as well.

I’d like to tell you about one school, a school in Moscow, which is very similar to this school, the school that you all go to. This school is named after a very famous Russian composer and educator, composer (inaudible). This school keeps the (inaudible) of the Russian culture and the Russian cultural traditions. And it was for -- the school is open to everyone who is interested in classical and modern music and art.

The doors of this school is open to everyone who is interested in arts, design, choreography, dance and theater. There are about 2,000 children who are students of that school. This school has its own orchestra, it has its own theater, and those who are interested in organ music can take organ classes. And children are composers themselves.

What I would like to see -- I would like to see the children of our schools -- yours and ours -- to become friends. (Applause.) And I don’t think that there’s going to be a language barrier. English is very popular in Russia. It’s taught in our schools. Plus, arts do not -- and culture do not need any translators. (Applause.)

Thad Allen's Oil Spill Update June 25 Video

Joe Biden heads to the gulf coast on June 29 to assess the clean up.

Barney Frank on Wall Street Reform

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West Wing Week Video June 25

West Wing Week takes a break from the weekly rundown and answers some mail the White House gets, such as does it compost? Yes, it does. Someone asks about the eagle's head on the Oval Office rug and another asks when flags are flown at half staff. At the end of the clip, Obama and Medvedev head into Ray's Hell Burger.

Obama Speaks on Wall Street Reforms Set to Pass

Before Obama headed to Toronto for the G8 and G20, he spoke on the bill that is near ready to sign.

Fourth of July Wall Street Reform

House and Senate have finally agreed on financial reforms and have come up with a bill that is expected to be on Obama's desk by the Fourth of July:
Congress early Friday moved to the brink of passing a landmark overhaul of Wall Street, which would hand President Barack Obama a major victory ahead of the midterm elections.

A 43-member conference of House and Senate lawmakers finished the bill just after 5:30 a.m., after a marathon, all-night session of dealmaking, lobbying and scores of votes. The 2,000-page bill aims to prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts and revamp regulation of mortgages, credit cards, broad financial system risks and the $600 trillion derivatives market.
Frank, chairman of the conference committee, said the bill was tougher in the end than he once thought was possible to pass through Congress.

"You hate to have the kind of pain people had during the crisis, but it redoubled our resolve," Frank said. "We have done something that has been badly needed and sorely needed for some time," Dodd said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the bill, "represents the most sweeping set of financial reforms since those that followed the Great Depression."
Read more at The HIll

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Obama's G8 Schedule June 25 in Toronto

Obama fixes Dick Van Dyke's bowtie at the Ford's Theatre

Obama leaves the White House at 9:10 am eastern.
10:30 am, Obama arrives in Toronto.
11:20, Obama arrives in Muskoka, Canada.
12:15 pm, Obama attends G8 working lunch.
2 pm, Family photo time at the G8.
2:45, Obama meets up with African leaders.
4:45 pm, Obama has working session with African leaders and others.
7:30 pm Obama and G8 meet with My Summit 2010 Youth, which is the international conference for youth that happens at the same time as the G8 and G20.
7:45 pm, Obama has din din with G8 leaders.
Sometime during the day, Obama is expected to have a private meeting with David Cameron.
After the G8 on Friday, comes the G20 on June 26-27, which Obama is also attending.

Republicans Vote Against Unemployment Benefits Extension

One democrat voted with republicans: Ben Nelson.
Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats' showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work more than six months.

The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats facing big losses of House and Senate seats in the fall election. msnbc
Obama is mad:
Today, Republicans in the Senate for the second time blocked a bill that includes critical aid for states and American families. This legislation extends benefits for Americans looking for work and would save the jobs of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers by providing relief to states struggling with budget shortfalls. And it includes tax cuts for businesses that keep research and development jobs here in the United States. By blocking an up or down vote on this legislation, Republicans in the Senate obstructed a common-sense package that would save jobs, extend tax cuts for businesses and provide relief for American families who have suffered through the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, even after Democrats offered multiple compromises to gain Republican support for the bill. The President has been clear: Americans should not fall victim to Republican obstruction at a time of great economic challenge for our nation’s families. The President will continue to press Congress to pass this bill and bring this relief that’s critical to our economic recovery.

Browner Meets With BP Executives

The administration is still on top of the oil disaster, even though the media has shifted from its Obama-centric coverage. From the White House:
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner met with BP executives Bob Dudley, Lamar McKay, David Nagel and Karen St. John earlier today to discuss a number of key issues including containment, redundancy, claims and scientific monitoring. The meeting with Dudley was important to do given his new role for BP in the Gulf restoration. Browner reiterated the President’s commitment to the people of the Gulf, that we are not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods. Browner reminded them that we will be judging their work and response based on that bar, no exceptions.

Obama and Medvedev's Business Summit Video

Watch Obama and Medvedev's joint press conference here.

New War Documentary Restrepo Offers Soldiers View

This is a must listen. It's pretty moving. I was listening in a grocery store with headphones and was caught off guard with tears rolling down my face. "Restrepo" was co-directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. The film has nothing to do with politics, only with the realities of war. I plan to see it. All Americans should see it. It opens in theaters tomorrow.

Obama in Toronto for G20 Summit June 26-27

Obama leaves for the G8, also in Toronto, Friday. See Obama's schedule for tomorrow here. See Obama's schedule on Saturday here.
Obama is headed to Toronto this weekend for the G20 meetup, where world leaders will discuss global finance and economics. Timothy Geithner will also be there. See who all is going here.

Cantor Says Barton is Not the Issue

In this video, Joe Scarborough tries to get Eric Cantor to admit that republicans agree with Joe Barton, who apologized to BP for the Obama administration "shakedown."
Barton was allowed to keep his energy post. Cantor says Barton is not the issue and that Barton apologized.
No one believed that "apology" and everyone knows what republicans think of oil companies. Barton's tweet undermined his apology by pointing to a Spectator article that said Barton was right. He since deleted his tweet. What a dumb move that was.
Cantor then goes on to insult the vice president.
Cantor also said McChrystal had to be fired, but he said McChrystal was frustrated.

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Obama Heard West Wing Erupt

He was talking about yesterday's soccer match. Obama is a soccer dad. Both of his daughters play. Obama congratulates the U.S. team:
Earlier today President Obama called the U.S. Men’s World Cup Soccer team. The President congratulated them on their extraordinary victory and told them that while he was meeting with General Petraeus in the Oval Office, he could hear the rest of the West Wing erupt when Landon Donovan scored the game winner. The President then congratulated Donovan on the game-winning goal, asked Tim Howard how his ribs were feeling and asked Clint Dempsey how his lip was doing. The President wished the team good luck on Saturday and made sure they knew that the entire country was cheering them on.

Obama Takes Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burger Video

Today during their joint press conference, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now on Twitter, called the burger joint tasty but probably not so healthy.

On the way to Ray's

Michelle Obama and Russia's First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva

Gulf Coast Governors Tapping Few National Guard Troops for Oil Cleanup

National Guard troops have been approved but some state governors aren't using them. Only 1,200 of 17,000 authorized have been deployed. Where's the media story on this? Why aren't state governors using guard troops to help out with the oil spill? Is that Obama's fault too?

McCain Behind McChrystal's Ego?

John McCain turns a lot of people rogue.
Seems to me that if Stanley McChrystal was crying out for more troops and now McCain is calling for more troops, then maybe McCain and McChrystal were in cahoots. It makes sense that McCain and other republicans have spent a lot of time dissing the Obama administration in front of military leaders in a way that gave McChrystal not only a larger ego, but the impression that he could make private comments public in a Rolling Stone article.
It's as if McChrystal felt he had more power than Obama.
Where did he get that sense of himself? Probably from the group of republicans, including McCain, who still haven't realized that, yes, Obama is the real president. But things didn't turn out quite as the republicans expected because Stan went rogue. That's my theory. Stan isn't talking anymore. But McCain is. He's still trying to be the president.
More troops may be needed in Afghanistan, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested Thursday.

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that it may be necessary to increase troop levels as other countries default on their commitments to send forces into Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama had already orchestrated a "surge" of troops in Afghanistan that infused some 30,000 troops into Afghanistan this year to help quash a mounting insurgency. Republicans like McCain had clamored for this surge, but have been sharply critical of a timeline within that strategy that looks to begin withdrawing troops in July of 2011.

McCain was critical of the idea of a timeline, as many Republicans have been, warning instead that "it's all about conditions on the ground."

McCain and other Republicans fear that communicating a firm withdrawal strategy could encourage enemy forces to simply wait out the U.S. in Afghanistan. The Hill

Gates and Mulllen Speak on McChrystal Video

I wonder if McChrystal thought about how much harder he made Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen's jobs before he made foolish remarks for public consumption.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he was “nearly sick” when he read the magazine article that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

“I couldn't believe it,” Adm. Mike Mullen said at a Pentagon press briefing Thursday afternoon. “I was stunned.” The Hill

Obama and Medvedev's Joint Press Conference

Update: Watch video of their business summit here. Read their joint statements here.
Medvedev seemed to have enjoyed his time in California. Read the White House fact sheet on U.S. Russia relations here. Full video:

Obama's Schedule June 24 Includes Medvedev Meeting

Today, Obama meets with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at 10:30 am eastern. Medvedev has been in California meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Medvedev is learning about alternative forms of energy in an effort to move Russia away from oil dependence.

11 am, Obama and Biden meet with Medvedev.

1:45 pm, Obama will hold a press conference with Medvedev. Michelle Obama will host first lady of Russia. They will visit Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

3:05 pm, Obama attends a business summit with Medvedev.

3:45 pm, Biden will meet with Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Michelle Obama Speaks on President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Michelle Obama apologizes for POTUS not being there. He has other stuff going on, she said.

Readout of Obama's Call with Karzai

Hopefully, Karzai has it clear in his mind now that the Commander in Chief runs the show, not the general. Apparently, Karzai has already switched loyalties. Now Gen. David Petraeus is his man. If you couldn't tell, I loathe Karzai. There's something about him that screams skeezy, icky and yuck.
In a call earlier today, President Obama informed President Karzai of his decision to accept General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation and his intent to nominate General David Petraeus to assume command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Both leaders expressed admiration and praise for General McChrystal’s leadership and service over the past year. President Obama underscored that this personnel change in no way impacts United States policy in Afghanistan or the level of our commitment to Afghanistan’s future. The President also emphasized that the United States and Afghanistan must continue to work together to sustain the momentum against the Taliban building on the constructive VTC that the two leaders held yesterday. President Karzai welcomed the nomination of General Petraeus and assured President Obama that he would take all steps necessary to support a successful transition.
Obama also called David Cameron:
Following up on earlier conversations between their national security teams, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron spoke today on Afghanistan. The Prime Minister confirmed that U.K. Lieutenant General Nick Parker would serve as the acting Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force mission until a new U.S. Commander is confirmed by Congress. The President reiterated his desire for the Senate to confirm General David Petraeus for this role as swiftly as possible. Prime Minister Cameron said that General Parker, who has served as the Deputy Commander to ISAF since September, 2009, asked him to convey to the President that the mission “would not miss a beat” and that he was fully confident in our shared strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Inside the White House Beehive

In another "Inside the White House," Sam Kass and others talk about the White House beehive:

McCain Says Petraeus Will be Confirmed Quickly

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Amazingly, I agree with Joe Lieberman:

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