Saturday, December 5, 2009
First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha helped President Barack Obama press a button to light the tree, an annual tradition since the 1920s. "I'm technologically challenged and I might not get this right," the president joked. "Everybody has got to help me out here."
The Obamas and the spectators counted down from five, and the red and yellow lights came alive on the 40-foot Colorado blue spruce growing on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. "It worked," Obama shouted.
After the lighting, Sheryl Crow, who performed at some of Obama's inaugural festivities, sang "Jingle Bell Rock." Hip hop artist Common rapped as a children's group sang. "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks dazzled onlookers bundled in coats and scarves.
"I told Sasha we're not on 'American Idol,'" the president said about his 8-year-old daughter, who sat on his lap during part of the event. The Obama family and Vice President Joe Biden and his grandchildren watched from seats beside the stage, behind a clear protective shielding.
Mrs. Obama sat on stage and read "The Night Before Christmas" as children in knit hats and mittens surrounded her.
The characters Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus also joined the celebration, saying it was their "date night."
Read further story here.
Friday, October 30, 2009
When I spent a few days there recently, Washington still felt fully in thrall to Obamania. Indeed, those few people I encountered who could recall ancient history - meaning, the previous administration - were quick to describe what a pall George W. Bush cast over the nation's capital. Besides frequently bragging about how his tax policies were "starving the beast," (that beast, of course, being Washington), President Bush was famously uninterested in the city's cultural and culinary attractions. His most memorable dining experience in the capital, one wag told me, was the pretzel that nearly caused him to choke to death.
"President Bush was always dissing Washington, but Barack Obama doesn't," said Peggy Clifton, a researcher at the Library of Congress. "So, most people who live and work here are much happier now. We feel like there's finally someone in the White House who respects what this town actually does - which is govern."
Visitors will see that glowing pride reflected in the city's swank new restaurants, ritzy new hotels and spruced up landmarks.
Read the full story here.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"I've tried to explain... just because I'm skinny doesn't mean I'm not tough. I don't rattle. I'm not going to shrink back, because now is the time for us to push and follow through on those things that we know have to be done but have not been done in decades", he said.
The US president said this in Miami during a fundraising event for Democratic candidates for the 2010 elections. Obama is a fitness freak. He visits the gym six times a week and lifts weights and runs on the treadmill to keep in shape. He also loves basketball.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Appearing on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Obama adviser David Axelrod said Obama believes Jackson was "an important and magnificent performer" who made an undeniable impact on music and entertainment.
Asked why Obama had yet to speak publicly about Jackson's sudden death last week at age 50, Axelrod said: "The president has written the family and has shared his feelings with the family."
"He felt that was the appropriate way to go," Axelrod said.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009
From the Baltimore Afro-American:
A well-known minister of a denomination that once supported slavery and is firmly against a woman’s right to an abortion said recently that he is praying for President Obama to die.
The Rev. Wiley Drake, a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Fox News Radio earlier this month that he was practicing “imprecatory prayer” or seeking a divine curse that would cause the president to die.
“If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death,” Drake said in an interview with Fox’s Alan Colmes, according to the Associated Press.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Rather than letting Fox News sound bites define Jeremiah Wright for you, take a look at his bio.
Life, Love and Legacy
The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a man of faith, a homiletic genius, a theological scholar and a pastor’s pastor. He is a family man who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends.
Steeped in Family Tradition and Educational Achievements
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Wright is a son of the parsonage and hails from a family steeped in educational achievements. A third generation family member to matriculate at Virginia Union University, Dr. Wright followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Dr. Hamilton Martin Henderson who graduated from Virginia Union with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the late 1800s and finished seminary at Virginia Union in 1902. His father, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., also graduated from Virginia Union with two undergraduate degrees and from the seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in 1938. The senior Wright also received a Master of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.M.) from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Dr. Wright’s mother, Dr. Mary Henderson Wright, also graduated from Virginia Union and earned her first master’s degree before age 19 from the University of Chicago. She also earned a second master’s degree and her doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
With four earned degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Howard University, a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. grew up in a home where reading books was a daily way of life. Wright read a wide range of sources from the Greek philosophers and Shakespeare to African American authors such as Carter G. Woodson (the Father of African American History) to Sterling Brown (one of the Harlem Renaissance artists), as well as one of Dr. Wright’s college professors.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
President Obama signaled to gay rights activists Wednesday that he is listening to their desire for greater equality in "a more perfect union." But he did not give them even close to everything they want, bringing anger that has been growing against the president to the surface.
The president's critics saw the incremental move to expand gay rights as little more than pandering to a reliably Democratic voting bloc, with the primary aim not of making policy fairer but of cutting short a fundraising boycott.
DISAPPOINTMENT: Jubilation muted on gay marriage anniversary
"We all have to acknowledge this is only one step," Obama said in his Oval Office, where he signed a memorandum extending some benefits, such as visitation or dependent care rights, to the same-sex partners of federal employees.
"When a president tells you he's going to be different, you believe him," said John Aravosis, a Washington-based gay activist. "It's not that he didn't follow through on his promises, he stabbed us in the back."
Read more at
Monday, June 22, 2009
I have a friend who broke both of his legs climbing a dangerous mountain in Southeast Asia. This friend has nearly died 8 times, been chased by bears, and has had food poisoning too many times to count. After his latest injury, we presumed that he would understand that taking such risk simply doesn't pay. But he rebuffed our intervention, stating that the risk is what makes his life worth living. My friend seems to believe that pursuing and living the dream might be worth enduring the occasional nightmare.
The current financial crisis is certainly the worst of economic nightmares. Job losses have been enormous and the stock market has shrunk faster than Lindsay Lohan's dress size. A report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported that in May jobless rates were higher in all 50 states and in the District of Columbiathan they were a year ago.
The Black community has had a double dose of economic drama, as our unemployment rate is nearly double that of White Americans, standing at 14.9% according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Black urban centers such as Detroit have been hit especially hard.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
On Tuesday May 26th, President Obama nominated federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Before the President announced his selection he stated he was not just looking for someone with just “ivory tower learning”; he wanted “intellectual firepower” as well as a “common touch” and a “practical sense of how the world works”. He also used the word “empathy” several times. It did not take long for the critics to weigh in and challenge the nomination.
What is troubling about the criticism is that most of it is intentionally not directed at judge Sotomayor’s record as a jurist and opinions that she has rendered. Most of the criticism is deliberately based upon select statements made in speeches or lectures, as was the case with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They have been contextualized in the most inflammatory way possible in order to scare white people.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
President Obama on Tuesday proposed making "pay-as-you-go" rules for federal spending into law.
President Obama proposed Tuesday that the government adopt "pay-as-you-go" rules for federal spending.
The so-called PAYGO proposal requires Congress to balance any increased spending by equal savings elsewhere, Obama said in announcing the measure that now goes to Congress.
A previous PAYGO mandate helped erase federal budget deficits in the 1990s, and subsequent ineffective rules contributed to the current budget deficits, Obama said. Now the PAYGO rules should be the law, he said.
"Paying for what you spend is basic common sense," Obama said. "Perhaps that's why, here in Washington, it's been so elusive."
Sunday, May 24, 2009
President Barack Obama fought Thursday to retake command of the emotional debate over closing Guantanamo, denouncing "fear-mongering" by political opponents and insisting that maximum-security prisons in the U.S. can safely house dangerous terror suspects transferred from Cuba.
In a unique bit of Washington theater, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered his own address just one minute later, defending the Bush administration's creation of the prison camp as vigorously as Obama denounced it.
Obama, appearing at the National Archives with its immensely symbolic backdrop of the nation's founding documents, said shutting down Guantanamo would "enlist our values" to make America safer. Speaking a day after an overwhelming congressional rebuke to his pledge to close the prison, he forcefully declared the camp a hindrance — not a help — to preventing future terrorist attacks. He contends that the prison, which has held hundreds of detainees for years without charges or trials, motivates U.S. enemies overseas.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
President Obama said Thursday that some of the terror suspects now being held at Guantanamo Bay may end up in the nation's "supermax" prisons, and he said the United States may have to indefinitely hold others if it is clear that releasing them would endanger the American people.
Obama said an ad hoc, ineffective legal framework set up to fight terrorism by the Bush administration has "weakened American national security" since the 9/11 attacks.
In a speech at the National Archives aimed at explaining his policies toward detainees and hushing critics who say he could put the nation at risk by closing the Guantanamo prison, Obama vowed to continue dismantling flawed policies that he said have been used as a rallying cry for terrorists.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
By Dr. Christopher J. Metzler
A recent New York Times/CBS poll concluded that race relations are improving in the wake of the election of President Obama. According to the survey, about 66 percent of Americans said that race relations are generally good compared with 53 percent in July of last year. Fifty-nine percent of African-Americans – along with 65 percent of whites – now characterize the relationship between Blacks and Whites in America as ‘good,’ The New York Times proclaimed with glee, “Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States.” The Huffington Post also chimed in claiming that “Obama’s race relations effect is real.”
It seems that the single event of the election of President Obama has erased America’s racial transgressions in one fell swoop and has improved the relationship between Blacks and Whites overnight. The problem, however, is not relations between Blacks and Whites; there is no evidence yet that the election of President Obama has had more than a symbolic (but important) effect on America’s still unresolved and conflicted relationship with race.
Obama’s election has not changed the fact that in this economic downturn, Black unemployment is at approximately 15 percent while White unemployment is at approximately eight percent. Since his election, racial profiling has not stopped, the educational achievement gap between Blacks and Whites has not narrowed. In addition, the President did not attend, nor did he send a delegation to the World Racism conference in Geneva. Thus, it can be argued that Obama’s election has had nothing but a symbolic effect on race. The difficulty with this argument is that it suffers from the same flaw in logic that is inherent in the New York Times/CBS News poll.
First, the question in the poll was about race relations. That is, the interpersonal relationship between Blacks and Whites. But, the issue is not race relations, it is whether the President will use his bully pulpit to eradicate the substantive racial inequalities that afflict Blacks in America. Much like he will use it to bring peace to the Middle East.
Click to read more on our Black Scholars Blog.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Greer Hannan will mark President Obama's attendance at her University of Notre Damegraduation Sunday by having a cross and a pair of baby feet printed on her mortar board. Some of her classmates plan to skip the ceremony to lead a protest across campus. The local bishop and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican say they won't even show up to share the stage with a man who supports abortion rights.
Obama's first pass at the annual springtime rite for presidents — delivering commencement addresses at a couple of universities or colleges and one military academy — has caused controversy at two of the three schools the White House selected from dozens of invitations.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As a senator, Barack Obama led the charge last year to pass a bill allowing black farmers to seek new discrimination claims against the Agriculture Department. Now he is president, and his administration so far is acting like it wants the potentially budget-busting lawsuits to go away.
The change isn't sitting well with black farmers who thought they'd get a friendlier reception from Obama after years of resistance from President George W. Bush.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The reporters assembled Thursday morning to hear the results of a new poll measuring public attitudes toward President Obama did their best to ferret out nuggets of bad news. How durable is the president's high job-approval rating (63 percent) and higher-yet personal rating (73 percent)? One bit of bad news and the rainbow disappears? asked one scribe. What about the narrative Republicans are advancing that Obama is a weak president who can be pushed around? Another wondered how much of Obama's "halo effect" could be attributed to the nation's "historic self-congratulations" over the breakthrough his election represented.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Ramping up his campaign to crack down on credit cards, President Obama met Thursday with more than a dozen executives of card-issuing companies to press his case for new consumer protections.
by Dr. Ronald Walters, University of Maryland
I am missing something here. President Barack Obama just went to Europe and Iraq and made speeches saying that he would be deferential to Communist China, that he would meet without conditions with the leadership of Iran and that he wanted to open up a new relationship with the Islamic world. Then he went to the Conference of the Americas in Trinidad and shook the hand of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who has said some devilish things about America and the Bush administration. But the key issue that took the conference over was the American overture to Cuba to talk, in response to Raul Castro’s statement that he would talk with the U. S. and that everything would be on the table. Moreover, the Obama administration has said that it wanted to open up a new chapter in its relationship with the United Nations. To that end, it has appointed an African American Ambassador and put in its application for a seat on the Human Rights Commission. Against this background, the decision of the Obama administration not to go to the United Nations Conference On Racism in Geneva, Switzerland April 20-24 would appear to be a powerful refutation of this relatively liberal approach to the international community it has established.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University
As President Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he was willing to take the political heat. He said that he was not concerned about the politics of the hand shake and more concerned about extending an open hand to nations hostile to the U.S. The open hand, it seems, is not so open after all. The President announced that, like the Bush Administration, the United States will boycott the world anti-racism conference (Durban II), which opens in Geneva today. According to the President, "I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe. We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that's not something we can sign up for. "Hopefully some concrete steps come out of the conference that we can partner with other countries on to actually reduce discrimination around the globe, but this wasn't an opportunity to do it."
He is not willing to take the political heat in this case because there is language criticizing Israel and the West in the final document. As the world celebrates the election of the first Black President, the United States boycotts the world conference against racism. Symbolism, it seems has met political reality.
On this issue, it is difficult to reconcile the President's rhetoric with his actions. The President has repeatedly said that his policy is to talk with those with whom he disagrees. He is talking to Chavez, to Ahmadinejad, to Medvedev and Kim but cannot talk to human rights defenders about the best way to address the continuing significance of racism world wide? Surely the message cannot be that the United States does not believe that the right to be free from racism is not a basic human right.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is charging the same fee — $150,000 — per speech as does former President George W. Bush.
So, as Bush emerges again into the public eye — he threw out the first pitch of the season at the Texas Rangers’ home opener — he’s finding that he’s not the biggest star of his own administration.
Information about the speech fees Rice and Bush charge comes from a corporate political adviser who asked the Washington Speakers Bureau about their speaking fees.
Bush spoke last month in Calgary at a private event hosted by tinePublic Inc. He is scheduled to speak before the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan on May 28, his first domestic post-presidency speech.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Obama administration will boycott "with regret" a U.N. conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting's final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday.
The decision follows weeks of furious internal debate and will likely please Israel and Jewish groups that lobbied against U.S. participation. But the move upset human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who had hoped that President Obama, the nation's first black president, would send an official delegation.
The administration had wanted to attend the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva, although it warned in late February it would not go unless significant changes were made to the draft text.
President Obama said Saturday he will ask all of his department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets at his Cabinet meeting early next week as he searches for ways to streamline government spending.
Obama, who is attending the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad this weekend, said in his weekly radio and Internet address that he would make the request for cuts Monday at a Cabinet meeting.
"In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective," he said. "In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it's time their government did the same."
While discussing the need for more efficient government, Obama announced he was filling an administration position that caused him trouble on the last try. Obama said Jeffrey Zients, a CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur, will join the administration as the government's chief performance officer and will also serve as deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget. He will work to streamline processes and cut costs, Obama said.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Genma Holmes, YourBlackWorld.com
I attended several tea parties yesterday. An informed consumer makes a better a tax payer in my book. Paying taxes is not a Democrat or Republican issue to me. It is an issue that everyone in this country should be paying attention to, especially during this time of economic chaos. As I listened to the crowds yelling about the President, I think the message of why they were gathering in the first place was lost in the screaming.
One of the top grievances of the organizers was the hundreds of billions of dollars in recent taxpayer subsidies to automakers, banks and Wall Street investment giants. This was a grass roots movement that started in Tennessee. Many concerned citizens, black and white, red and yellow, were disgusted by executive bonuses and the lack of accountability to the taxpayers who are now "investors" in these global companies. Being investors in companies that many Americans do not consider good investments should have been a time for not only educating taxpayers but elected officials as well.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Per the New York Post, "Tens of thousands of protesters -- some dressed in colonial wigs with tea bags hanging from their eyeglasses -- staged boisterous protests modeled after the Boston Tea Party all around the country yesterday, rallying against financial bailouts and the Obama administration's tax and spending plans."
“The hundreds of grassroots events staged around the nation to protest America's tax burden showcased successful efforts by conservatives to mobilize thousands of participants via Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. Liberals once dominated that realm,” the Washington Times adds.
The New York Times: “It was hard to determine from the moderate turnout just how effective the parties would be. In Philadelphia, a rally in Center City drew about 200 rain-soaked participants… In Pensacola, Fla., about 500 protesters lined a busy street, some waving ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags and carrying signs reading ‘Got Pork?’ and ‘D.C.: District of Corruption.’ In Austin, Tex., Gov. Rick Perry energized a crowd of about 1,000 by accusing the Obama administration of restricting states’ rights and vaguely suggesting that Texas might want to secede from the union.”
The AP has more on what Perry said. “Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that. ‘There's a lot of different scenarios,’ Perry said. ‘We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.’”
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The First Dog made his debut on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday afternoon before at least 60 members of the press.
"Here he is," President Obama said as he and his family walked out of the house.
"I've finally got a friend; it took some time," the president joked at one point when a reporter made a reference to President Harry Truman's famous advice that "if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
Bo Obama, a Portuguese water dog, frolicked with his new owners before a herd of cameras and scribes, before the president, first lady and the Obama daughters took him for a walk down the hill toward the fountain and the first lady's new garden.
"He's a star; he's got star quality," Obama said. "He's a rock star."
The long-awaited and much-talked-about arrival of Bo, perhaps the most famous dog in America, fulfilled a promise Obama made to his daughters during the election.
"That's a good-looking dog," the president added. "The only concern we have is apparently Portuguese water dogs like tomatoes. Michelle's garden is in danger."
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Who let the dog out?
That's the Washington mystery du jour.
The identity of the first puppy — the one that the Washington press corps has been yelping about for months, the one President Obama has seemed to delight in dropping hints about -- leaked out yesterday. This despite White House efforts to delay the news until the big debut planned for Tuesday afternoon.
The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo — and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said. (Get it? Bo . . . Diddley?)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
David adds Obama also brought up Easter in his remarks.
"Now, we have always been very cautious about prognosticating and that's not going to change just because it's Easter," the president said.
President Obama delivered a brief pep talk today on the economy, after meeting at the White House with financial advisers including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Americans are starting to see "glimmers of hope throughout the economy," Obama told reporters. USA TODAY's David Jackson says Obama cited lower mortgage rates, an uptick in home refinancing and increased lending to owners of small businesses.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Jeff Johnson knows how to make his audiences squirm. The young, black radio and TV political commentator waits for the discussion to turn to the topic being talked about ceaselessly, incessantly, ad nauseam: the meaning of the barrier-breaking election of Barack Obama.
Then, in his laid-back style, he says, "The real issue for me is that history is not enough." That's when the mood becomes tense.
"Black folks, in particular, get irritated," says Johnson, who travels the lecture circuit, hosts a half-hour show on Black Entertainment Television and has a weekly spot for social criticism on a radio program popular with black listeners. Get past "Obama the personality" and see "Obama the president," he says. "Otherwise all you're being is a political-celebrity groupie instead of a citizen. . . . It starts with acknowledging he's my president, and not my homie."
As the nation's first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over.
President Obama made an unannounced visit to Iraq Tuesday.
President Obama stopped in Iraq on Tuesday, after visiting Turkey where he addressed parliament Monday.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, met Obama shortly after Air Force One landed in Baghdad about 4:42 p.m. local time (9:42 a.m. ET).
Obama chose to visit Iraq rather than Afghanistan because of its proximity to Turkey, which Obama just visited, said Robert Gibbs, the president's spokesman.
In addition, Obama wanted to discuss Iraq's political situation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talibani, Gibbs said.
Mostly, however, the stop is about Obama visiting troops, he said.
Obama will meet with Odierno and with members of the U.S. military in Iraq. He will participate in the awarding of 10 medals of valor, Gibbs said.
"Our men and women who are in harm's way, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deserve our utmost respect and appreciation," Gibbs reportedly told reporters traveling on Air Force One.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
France and Germany fully endorsed President Obama's new Afghan war strategy but continued to firmly resist U.S. demands for more combat troops on Saturday at the start of NATO's 60th-anniversary summit.
Obama told NATO leaders the alliance should remain open to new members, another stance that is likely to meet resistance from his allies. Germany, France and many other NATO nations believe that any more eastward expansion will further damage ties Russia that the alliance is trying hard to mend.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and two dozen other NATO leaders walked across a bridge separating Germany and France in a moment of unity before the summit began. The leaders met French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the halfway point on the Europa bridge spanning the Rhine river — a symbolic departure from the enmity that once tore apart Europe and a setting aside of current differences, at least for a few minutes.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Already a crazy crew, the European paparazzi must be out of their minds with anticipation: Michelle Obama has arrived for a visit.
Buoyed by positive reviews at home, the first lady embarked with her husband on their first overseas trip, virtually certain to attract as much klieg-light attention as President Obama on a five-day visit to Europe. The couple arrived in London on Tuesday.
What will she do, whom will she meet, what will she wear? When she accompanies her husband to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, will she be — gasp! — sleeveless?
And speaking of the money shot, imagine the roar of firing camera shutters when tall, chic ex-lawyer Michelle meets tall, chic ex-model Carla — that is, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, first lady of France. Galaxies colliding indeed.
But don't expect Obama to branch out on her own, make policy statements or be provocative. Her role on this trip, says her press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, will conform to traditional first lady parameters. She will join her husband at his events, going solo only twice, and won't give interviews. She will listen raptly to his speeches, charm the locals at glittery dinners and visit first lady-type places (an opera house, cancer clinic, girls' school, hospital, a cathedral) with her counterparts in Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama benefits from a broadly held perception that others bear the bulk of responsibility for state of the U.S. economy, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Tuesday.
Asked who was responsible for the economic meltdown, 80 percent in the poll blamed banks, financial institutions and corporations. Some 70 percent also blamed consumers for taking on too much debt and the former Bush administration for lax regulation. Only 26 percent said the Obama administration was not doing enough to turn the situation around.
Two-thirds of respondents approve of the way Obama is handling the presidency, and 60 percent approve of the way he is handling the economy.
Sixty-four percent said were confident Obama's policies will improve the economy, down from 72 percent just before he took office in January.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Jimmy Carter came to Notre Dame in 1977. So did Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush in 2001.
The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. But this year's selection of President Barack Obama has been met by a barrage of criticism that has left some students fearing their commencement ceremony will turn into a circus.
Many Catholics are angered by Obama's planned appearance at the May 17 ceremony because of his decisions to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups that provide abortions or educate about the procedure.
The consensus Thursday on the campus of the nation's most-prominent Catholic university was that any president should be welcomed at Notre Dame.
"People are definitely entitled to their outrage, but I think the main thing is to see that it's an honor to have the president of the United Statescome to speak here whether you agree with him or not," said Katie Woodward, a political science junior from Philadelphia.
Justin Mack, a senior film major from Dallas, agreed.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Obama administration's tenth week in office was a busy one. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner unveiled the next phase of the bank bailout. Congress took up the president's budget. And the government outlined a plan to overhaul regulation of the financial system.
The administration's efforts, along with some faint signs that economic conditions are stabilizing, helped improve the sentiment on Wall Street. Stocks posted strong gains for the week despite a selloff on Friday.
It was also a busy week on Capitol Hill.
Committees in the House and Senate largely supported Obama's priorities for the 2010 budget, with certain caveats, in the early stages of what is expected to be a months-long debate.
Lawmakers also heard testimony from Geithner on how the administration hopes to prevent future meltdowns by increasing oversight of the financial markets and preventing companies from growing too big to fail.
Meanwhile, the president continued to promote his long-term economic agenda, stressing the need to invest in health care, education and energy.
In a new rhetorical tack, Obama sought to draw a direct connection between his budget proposal and the broader themes of economic recovery and future growth.
"This budget is inseparable from this recovery," Obama told reporters Wednesday night. "It is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity."
To promote his message, the president took a number of unconventional steps. He published an op-ed in more than 30 newspapers around the world, held his second prime time news conference, and broke technological ground with an online town hall meeting at the White House.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
After an uncharacteristic gaffe on 'The Tonight Show' and an unfortunate case of the giggles on '60 Minutes,' President Obama had a lot riding on his Tuesday night press conference. The president largely stayed on message, using the hour to focus on the economy, the budget, and his anger (even if was delayed) at those darn AIG bonuses.
The buzziest moment came about 35 minutes into the press conference when Ed Henry of CNN asked the President why he didn't spew outrage as soon as he learned about the AIG bonuses. Why, Mr. Henry asked, did the president wait several days before speaking out? The president, with an icy stare, responded that he "likes to know what he's talking about" before he speaks. It was a pretty testy exchange that brought about nervous laughter from the other reporters andsnarky responses from Twitterers. Boom! Next question.
Another moment that seemed to strike a chord came when Chuck Todd of NBC asked the president what sort of sacrifices he would like to see from the American people during this economic crisis. The president responded that he expects Americans to do what they've always done "which is working hard, looking after their families, making sure that, despite the economic hard times, that they're still contributing to their community..."
Chip Reid asked a tough question about Obama's controversial budget. Reid asked if the budget, which will increase the debt to "$7 trillion over the next 10 years," is a case of passing problems onto the next generation. Obama responded that investments need to be made to "meet our growth targets that put us on a pathway to growth.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
President Obama latched on to the latest round of populist anger over corporate greed Monday, ordering his Treasury secretary to "pursue every legal avenue" to stop insurance giant AIG from giving $165 million in bonuses to some of the executives who drove the company into financial ruin before it was rescued by a government bailout.
"How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?" Obama demanded of the company that last month posted the largest corporate quarterly loss in history, $61.7 billion.
Obama's scolding of American International Group came after his top economic advisers — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, White House chief economist Christina Romer and Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council — also blasted AIG over its doling out bonus checks ranging from $1,000 to $6.5 million to executives after accepting up to $180 billion in government bailout money.
Monday, March 9, 2009
President Obama will sign an executive order Monday lifting limits on human embryonic stem cell research and will direct federal agencies to "restore scientific integrity" to decision-making, White House aides said Sunday.
Obama's order follows years of wrangling over stem cells and scientific decision-making in the Bush administration.
"Public policy must be guided by sound scientific advice," said Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, discussing the order and memorandum Sunday.
Melody Barnes of Obama's Domestic Policy Council added that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will set standards for federal science advisers, insulating them from political interference.
The executive order will reverse President George W. Bush's 2001 decision to withhold federal support of research on newly collected colonies of embryonic stem cells, the master cells from which all tissues are formed. Bush, who opposed the destruction of embryos necessary to harvest the cells, limited research funding to 21 stem cell colonies, or lines, already in existence.
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Let’s be clear: This recession has become President Barack Obama’s personal War on Terror. Like the War on Terror, the enemy is evasive, the challenge is global, international cooperation is necessary, and the battle is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Wars are good for political business: when people get scared, politicians get a blank check to fulfill their legislative agenda. After 9/11, President Bush used fear to get the entire nation to sign onto the Patriot Act, and years later, we are wondering if someone is going to tap our cell phones and illegally imprison us for not eating our Freedom Fries. Bad legislation is like an STD: you can pick it up with a snap decision, but you pay the price for the next 20 years.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Reversing an eight-year-old limit on potentially life-saving science, President Barack Obama plans to lift restrictions Monday on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells.
The long-promised move will allow a rush of research aimed at one day better treating, if not curing, ailments from diabetes to paralysis — research that crosses partisan lines, backed by such notables asNancy Reagan and the late Christopher Reeve. But it stirs intense controversy over whether government crosses a moral line with such research.
Obama will hold an event at the White House to announce the move, a senior administration official said Friday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the policy had not yet been publicly announced.
Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can morph into any cell of the body. Scientists hope to harness them so they can create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases — such as new insulin-producing cells for diabetics, cells that could help those withParkinson's disease or maybe even Alzheimer's, or new nerve connections to restore movement after spinal injury.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
A man from Chicago has been arrested because he attempted to infect U.S. President Barack Obama with his blood infected by the HIV virus, Fox reported. He also sent Obama’s staff envelopes with the infected blood.
The perpetrator is a citizen of Ethiopia, Saad Hussein. He sent the envelope soaked in blood to Obama’s office in Springfield. Along with the blood-soaked letter, the envelope contained an invitation to Obama’s electoral victory celebration and other documents.
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
I’ll start by saying that I love Tavis Smiley and have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Ok, I’ve said it, and I meant it. I hope you believe me as I write.
Tavis Smiley’s work in the Black community is critically important. I encourage Tavis, in the midst of such work, to remember that there is a difference between being an intelligent guide to enlightenment and being downright self-righteous. Tavis has a way of putting political leaders “on blast” for not showing up at his forums. When he held a debate for the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential Primaries, there were several Republican presidential candidates who chose not to attend. I understand being upset about this, because the Republican Party has paid dearly for its racism and ignorance of the needs of the Black community. Smiley responded to the Republican snub by putting the name of the candidate on the podium even if they were not there. This was a clear reminder to those in the audience that the leader “doesn’t care about issues in the Black community.”
When holding the State of the Black Union of 2008 (some confuse it with the State of Black America, issued each year by the Urban League), Smiley again invited as many political leaders as he could find, with Hillary Clinton being his star for the day. Then Senator Barack Obama, in the middle of a heated battle for Democratic delegates in Texas and Ohio, said that he could not attend the forum. Instead, he offered his wife Michelle to attend in his place. That’s when the drama got heated.
Tavis, appearing to be offended by Obama’s slight toward his conference, proceeded to nibble away at Obama’s heels every morning on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. The segments started with “he-say, she-say”, in which Tavis claimed that no one from the Obama camp offered Michelle up for attendance. But even if they had, Tavis claimed that no spouse of a presidential candidate would be acceptable for the conference, even Bill Clinton.
I must admit that I felt Tavis was doing a “Karl Rove” on the truth. Smiley’s snub of Michelle Obama was also a slap in the face of Black women everywhere who have tremendous respect for Michelle. Finally, Smiley’s words and actions bordered on petty and angered the millions of African-Americans who’d come to believe that Barack Obama could walk on water. While I’ve never felt that Obama could walk on water, I certainly did not understand Smiley’s confused obsession with Obama’s behavior. Smiley’s comments toward the Black presidential candidate reminded me of the same double standard I can sometimes get as a Black professor. You may have Black students who feel a certain degree of comfort with you, and thus empowered enough to attack you more than they would a White professor with whom they have no prior social affiliation. These situations can be nightmares, as they reflect problems with the collective self-esteem of the Black community, which leads us to feel that attacking and hurting one another is easier, and thus more satisfying than working together to fight Black oppression. In other words, Smiley was reflecting the same sentiment held by Black men who shoot one another on the street, but stand in fear of the racism in White America. Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks”, would refer to this as “a nigger moment.”
Phones were ringing off the hook, as I had friends from California to New York calling and asking “What’s wrong with Tavis?” I had no idea, since I don’t know Tavis personally. However, because we run in the same circles, I know plenty of people who know plenty of people who know Tavis. One of my great and respected friends, Kyle Bowser, is one of Tavis’ best friends, and Kyle rang my phone the day after I made my comments. Going through the blogs of other Black scholars, I had a chance to see their reactions. Melissa Harris-Lacewell at Princeton University, an intelligent (though somewhat elitist) scholar, happened to be incredibly poignant in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s behavior.
Melissa angered Tavis by writing a column that asked ”Who died and made Tavis King?”. I wasn’t as direct in my critique of Tavis, but I did have some strong words for him. I did not want to deliver any commentary on the Tavis via the major networks, since I honestly feel that there are some conversations Black folks need to have behind closed doors. But given that we get nearly 100,000 Black readers per week on our website YourBlackWorld, I felt this to be a fitting venue to let the world know how I feel.
I issued a statement agreeing with my friend Roland Martin at CNN, who felt that Tavis was out of line by making such a strong demand on Obama at such a critical time. Yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in spite of being on the same campaign trail, but the fact was that Hillary was well positioned to win in the upcoming battlegrounds states, Texas and Ohio. Also, Hillary Clinton needed to regain the ground in the Black community that was lost when her husband Bill shot himself in the foot. The words out of Bill Clinton’s mouth were so vile, that his own “ghetto pass” was revoked immediately. Clinton had compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, implying that he was simply a Black presidential candidate with no chance to win White voters. While Jesse ran a great campaign, the notion that Obama’s fate would be similar to his own was disappointing for many Black people to hear. Clinton was no longer one of us, and he certainly was not the “first Black president” anymore.
I also felt that Tavis should have been more careful about being too critical of Obama in light of the fact that he was accusing Barack of doing some things that he himself had been doing. For example, Tavis claimed that he was not going to give Obama a “ghetto pass” just because he was Black. Rather, he would challenge him and question him like he would anyone else. First, Tavis’ words presumed (self-righteously) that he knows what is best for Black folks and we cannot make this determination ourselves. No one gives the “ghetto pass” to Ward Connerly (the guy in California fighting against Affirmative Action) or Condoleeza Rice, so the idea that Black candidates get votes only because they are Black is simply ridiculous. A “ghetto pass”, should such a pass exist, must be earned, and Obama had earned the love, trust and support of the Black community. To presume that people were supporting him just because he is Black is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Black community.
Secondly, Tavis himself had been long receiving the very same “ghetto passes” that he felt Black America was unfairly bestowing upon Obama. As powerful and revolutionary as Tavis may have sounded on The Tom Joyner Morning show, the fact that you hear “This was brought to you by Walmart” at the end of each segment reminds you that the message has been diluted by corporate sponsorship. No great Black revolutionary in American history has ever been brought to you by McDonald’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo, or any of the other corporations that sponsor Tavis’ forums.
Additionally, there is a clear reality in the life of Tavis Smiley, one that he cannot ignore: the Covenant with Black America, The State of the Black Union Conference, The “Pass The Mic” Tour, and everything else Tavis has done was created with the express objective of obtaining revenue and profitability for his corporate sponsors. Tavis has sold himself (and I do not use the word “sold” in a negative sense) to White American corporations as the broker of Black leadership. He is the man that many corporate executives believe they can go to in order to reach the African-American masses. We are the drugs, and he is the pusher: White corporate America represents the group of addicts getting high on the profitability of Black consumption.
As a Finance Professor, I must say that I see nothing wrong with the Tavis Smiley business model. I am not here to say that Tavis has “sold out”, for I don’t believe he has. We all sell something in order to make a living, and even the concept of “selling out” presumes that one has managed the thin line between making a profitable trade, versus giving up something of tremendous value. The problems with the Tavis Smiley business model arise when such a business model is pursued carelessly or selfishly. I do not accuse Tavis Smiley of being careless or selfish. However, his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, none of which were thrust on Senator Hillary Clinton, smelled of self-interest from a man who appeared to feel slighted that Obama jumped his place in the line of great Black leadership.
I felt sorry for Tavis after seeing the reactions of our readers on YourBlackWorld. Hundreds of emails and comments were coming in every day, with many readers claiming that they were once Tavis Smiley fans, but not anymore. Overnight, Tavis went from being incredibly popular, to becoming the Milly Vanilly of social commentary. I can’t help but wonder what happened behind closed doors, as I am sure his publisher became concerned that he could no longer sell books. His corporate sponsors were surely aware of the fact that he was not in control of the Black audience they were buying from him. I am willing to bet that his life was a mess, at least for a while.
I hope this year’s State of the Black Union Conference is a bit more balanced. Tavis is a good brother who deserves our respect. But it is my greatest hope that he learns the difference between balanced critiques and flat out “haterology”. I do a lot of critiquing, but when it comes to Obama, I want him to succeed. I sincerely hope that Tavis wants the same.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
President Obama has talked tough about the need to shed wasteful spending. But will he practice what he preaches? His one-time rival, Sen. John McCain, brought up a pricey presidential project that seems a bit unnecessary — a fleet of 28 new Marine One helicopters that will cost taxpayers around $11.2 billion.
At a recent summit to cut the federal deficit, Sen. McCain suggested that if President Obama wants to help the economy, perhaps he should consider canceling the order. Obama replied that he's already looking into it. Obama then joked that perhaps he's been unknowingly deprived all his life, but his current Marine One chopper seems just fine to him. CNN is reporting that the new helicopters, which were originally ordered by President George W. Bush not long after 9/11, are now on hold (though not officially cancelled...yet).
Naturally, all this talk of gazillion-dollar equipment has people searching. Folks are desperate to know more about the fancy helicopters, what they can do, and why they cost such an exorbitant sum of cash. Queries immediately surged on "marine one photos" and "why is it called marine one." Regarding the second inquiry: It's called Marine One only when the president is aboard.
President Barack Obama takes center stage on Tuesday to try to sell the American people on his broader agenda for jolting the United States out of deep recession and confronting long-term economic challenges.
Riding high in opinion polls, Obama will deliver a State of the Union-style address at 9 p.m. EST in his first appearance before a joint session of Congress since he took office five weeks ago.
The primetime speech, the opening act on Capitol Hill for any new president, comes in a pivotal week for Obama. He will roll out his firstbudget proposal on Thursday against a backdrop of growing public anxiety over the worst economic crisis in decades.
In a stark reminder of how grim the situation has become, Wall Street slumped to a 12-year low on Monday as investors worried about the government nationalizing ailing major banks, a prospect the White House tried to play down.