5:0: The First family attends the National Christmas Tree lighting; President Obama delivers remarks
So much for my intention never to watch anything from MSNBC again … but I never knew the story behind this photo – here it is:
NYT (June 2013): In Mandela, Obama Found a Beacon Who Inspired From Afar
Barack Obama had been a United States senator for just weeks in early 2005 when Oprah Winfrey offered to carry a message for him to Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader.
Mr. Obama disappeared into a back room in Ms. Winfrey’s television studio to write the note, but he was gone so long that his spokesman, Robert Gibbs, popped his head in after half an hour.
“You’ve got to give me some time here,” Mr. Obama, pen in hand, told Mr. Gibbs, who recalled the moment recently. “I can’t just wing a note to Nelson Mandela.”
…. The two have met in person only once, in a spontaneous encounter in Washington in 2005, when Mr. Mandela was in town and was urged by advisers to take a few minutes to meet a rising Democratic senator named Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama was in a car, on the way to a meeting, but diverted to the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown, where Mr. Mandela was staying. The conversation produced a lasting image of Mr. Obama, in silhouette, standing next to a reclining Mr. Mandela.
I have deliberately stayed away from commenting on Mandela, not because I have no appreciation for who he was and what he did, but rather both who he was and what he did are beyond my ability to pay tribute to.
I first heard about him about the same time I was reading Patton’s Cry, The Beloved Country. Looking back, it was like it was fated the two would happen together. Here I was reading, and being deeply influenced by, a book that exposed the worse of the apartheid system while along came a person who was willing to sacrifice everything to bring it to an end.
I remember being aghast at the hatred I heard expressed whenever his name was mentioned and the open support for the system of apartheid. Remember, this was during the Civil Rights era here and I was old enough to recognize that part of the support for apartheid was a defense of this country’s segregation policies. I think many were so against Mandela because they knew that if South Africa was able to end its racist approach to existence then the US would be at the forefront of nations that deliberately and maliciously oppressed a major segment of its population.
LL made a comment last night about how in SA they were celebrating his life, not mourning his loss. And that is the way it should be. The man gave so much of himself not for his own glory, which I think matter not one whit to him, but for the welfare of his people. And by “his people” I mean the people of SA, no matter what their color or religion was. He knew that oppression impacts both the oppressed and the oppressors in negative ways. He was never into revenge for prior wrongs but rather about having all move forward. Considering all that was done to him, that may well be his greatest legacy.
I’m breaking my MSNBC boycott again – but only for the President!
Avoided depression. Huge health reform. Jump-started clean energy. School reform. Financial reform. Kinda consequential presidency, no?
Steve Benen: Job growth picks up steam, unemployment drops
Expectations going into this morning’s new monthly jobs report were fairly strong, and as it turns out, the totals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were even better than expected.
According to the new BLS report, the U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November, ahead of economists’ predictions. In a pleasant change of pace, the public sector did not drag down the overall figures – the private sector added 196,000 jobs, while the public sector, which has hemorrhaged jobs in recent years, added 7,000.
The overall unemployment rate dropped 7%. That’s a five-year low, though it’s a little misleading – it reflects furloughed federal workers who returned to their jobs after the government shutdown ended.
Bloomberg: Payroll Gains in U.S. on Track for Best Year Since 2005
Job growth in November was probably strong enough to keep payroll gains on track for the best year since 2005, economists said before a report today.
Employers added 185,000 workers last month after taking on 204,000 in October, based on the median forecast of 89 economists in a Bloomberg survey before today’s report from the Labor Department. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.2 percent, matching an almost five-year low, from 7.3 percent as federal employees returned to work, according to the survey median.
The pickup in employment over the last three months signals companies are confident that demand will improve and gives American workers the means to spend.
Washington Post: Refusing Medicaid expansion will cost states billions of dollars
When the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the federal government could not compel states to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, it gave Republican opponents of the measure the opportunity to decline to participate in one of the law’s central tenets. But a new study estimates the decision not to participate will cost those states billions of dollars over the next decade — costs that will be passed on to taxpayers.
…. By refusing to expand Medicaid, Texas will forgo $9.2 billion in federal funding in 2022. Florida, another state that has said it won’t expand Medicaid, stands to lose more than $5 billion.
Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia will all forgo more than $2 billion in federal funding, while Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin will miss out on more than $1 billion. Both Tennessee and Indiana, two states that have yet to formally decide whether to expand the program, face losing more than $2 billion in federal funding if they decide against expansion.
As overflow guests look on in the Grand Foyer, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait to be introduced before the Kennedy Center Honors event that was held in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “Having seen more than 25 Bruce Springsteen concerts since 1978 and having seen just about every movie Robert DeNiro has ever made, it was a great thrill to be in their presence as the President greeted them before the Kennedy Center Honors at the White House.” Dec. 6, 2009
President Obama and Vice President Biden talk before the start of the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama applaud Bruce Springsteen during the Kennedy Center Honors, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose for a formal portrait in front of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama tours the biotech facilities at Forsyth Technical Community College West Campus in Winston-Salem, N.C., Dec. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “En route to his speech at Osawatomie High School in Kansas, I noticed a lot of people lining the motorcade route. So on departure, I rode in his vehicle so I could photograph some of the onlookers waving to the President.” Dec. 6, 2011
President Obama arrives aboard Marine One at Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama prays with, from left: Richard Santana, Velma Massenburg, Jimmie Massenburg, and Tiffany Santana, during a visit to the Santana’s home in Falls Church, Va., Dec. 6, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)