9:55: President Obama Speaks on the BRAIN Initiative
12:0: Open for Questions: Brain Initiative (WH live)
12:05: First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the “42” Film Workshop (WH live)
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:10: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore
5:35: President Obama hosts cast and crew members of the movie ’42’, a biographical film about Jackie Robinson, for a screening at the White House
8:45: Vice President Biden Speaks at the 2013 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards
NYT: President Obama on Tuesday will announce a broad new research initiative, starting with $100 million in 2014, to invent and refine new technologies to understand the human brain….
A senior administration scientist compared the new initiative to the Human Genome Project, in that it is directed at a problem that has seemed insoluble up to now: the recording and mapping of brain circuits in action in an effort to “show how millions of brain cells interact.”
Washington Post: Gun-control measures that seemed destined to become law after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., are in jeopardy amid a fierce lobbying campaign by firearms advocates.
Despite months of negotiations, key senators have been unable to find a workable plan for near-universal background checks on gun purchases — an idea that polls show nine in 10 Americans support.
Another provision that garnered bipartisan support — making gun trafficking a federal crime — could be gutted if Republican lawmakers accept new language being circulated by the National Rifle Association.
Jonathan Capehart: Dana Milbank, like so many of my other fellow pundits, is placing blame on President Obama for the “congressional inertia” that has stymied advancement of proposals to stem gun violence. What more Obama could do than he’s already done is beyond me. One look at the House of Representatives and you know that anything he wants to do or is in favor of doing is dead on arrival over there.
…. Imagine how much could get done if Obama’s consistent calls for help from the American people on gun violence were backed up by a consistent flood of calls to congressional district and Capitol Hill offices. The president has done as much as he can possibly do. With the Senate set to consider anti-gun-violence bills next week, where’s his backup?
Greg Sargent: Every Senator who is refusing to support expanded background checks — Republican or Democrat — needs to be asked a simple question: Do you support the current background system, or do you see it as an infringement on the rights of the law-abiding?
Every one of them will answer with a Yes, because they are taking refuge behind the idea that the current law needs to be strengthened in various ways but not expanded. Once they are on record confirming they don’t view the current system as a threat to Constitutional rights, the arguments against expanding it dissolve into incoherence.
Steve Benen: There are 55 members of the Senate Democratic caucus …. 47 of them have now publicly declared their support for marriage equality. The latest is Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey.
….with each similar announcement, the pressure rises on the remaining eight Senate Democrats who have not yet endorsed marriage equality: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Tom Carper of Delaware, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
Bloomberg: Chrysler Group LLC, joining U.S. automakers in fielding their most competitive cars in decades, said its March U.S. sales rose 5 percent as the Dodge Dart compact helped extend a streak of monthly gains.
Sales for Chrysler climbed to 171,606 cars and light trucks from 163,381 a year earlier …. The automaker set sales records with its Dodge Dart, Avenger, Challenger and Chrysler 200 cars as well as its Ram pickups.
Chrysler’s U.S. vehicle sales have increased 36 consecutive months, the longest stretch in the company’s records that date back to 1985…
Marketwatch: …. Ford’s newest vehicles – Fusion and Escape – set all-time monthly sales records in March, driving Ford’s best U.S. sales results since May 2007.
“Customers are buying our all-new Fusion and Escape in record numbers, and we are working harder than ever to keep pace with demand for these fuel-efficient vehicles,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Full-size pickup demand continues gaining momentum, outperforming the industry for the third consecutive month.”
The selling of Senator Aqua Buddha continues apace. Time now has joined the parade, explaining that junior is peddling a superior brand of more easily digestible horsepucky than his old man peddled, and that makes all the difference….
…. Seriously, the filibuster failed, and was “electrifying” only to those people who dropped a fan in the bathtub while listening to it….
There is no question that Aqua Buddha is a superior tap-dancer to his father, but ….. you nod along for five minutes and, at the 5:00:01 mark, you hear something that’s so nakedly opportunistic — Benghazi, BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI! — that you wonder if you’ve accidentally wandered into Sunday dinner at the Romneys…..
Since November, the prospective death of the Republican coalition has hovered over American politics, and the autopsy has gained renewed attention in light of the debates over gay marriage and immigration, both of which split the GOP from rising chunks of the electorate. I’m an advocate of the theory, first put forward a decade ago by Ruy Teixeira and John Judis, that the electorate is forming a natural Democratic majority. The Republican Party appears to be caught in a double bind, in which the electorate is growingly progressively less white, and even younger white voters hold less conservative views than older ones. What’s more, evidence suggests that voters maintain the partisan allegiances they form at a young age. The picture looks grim for the GOP.
NYT: Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is likely to be the next United States ambassador to Japan, according to people familiar with the appointment process.
The vetting of Ms. Kennedy by the White House is almost complete, and an appointment could be announced in the coming weeks, along with the names of several other choices for important diplomatic posts…
11:40: President Obama delivers remarks on common-sense measures to protect children from gun violence; VP Biden also attends
12:30: Press Briefing by Josh Earnest
2:10: The President welcomes President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House
Michael Tomasky: Matters look bleak indeed when 50 senators vote for a measure requiring that any bill changing gun laws get a two-thirds majority. Nothing else, not taxes, not anything (except some internal Senate rules), requires a two-thirds vote. That 50 senators voted this way — including six Democrats — shows what a collection of cowards and lickspittles these people are on the issue. If the NRA said gun bills should only be passed after sundown on Tuesdays between Columbus Day and the Ascension of Abdul Baha, they’d rush in with amendments stipulating that it also had to be raining. And yet, there is still a chance — yes, even with the assault-weapons ban dead — that the Senate at least will pass some fairly decent legislation. The NRA can still lose here. It’s important that you know this. They don’t want you to.
Steve Benen: The steady and heartening progress we saw earlier in the year on initial unemployment claims appears to have hit a discouraging bump:
The number of people applying for new unemployment-insurance benefits rose 16,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 23, reaching the highest level since mid-February, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday….
It’s hard to tell just yet, but it’s worth watching in the coming weeks whether (and how much) congressional Republicans’ sequestration cuts are responsible for pushing these numbers higher.
Steve Benen: A couple of months ago, we talked about a preliminary report showing the U.S. economy shrunk slightly in the last three months of 2012. Today, that figure received its second and final revision, and though it’s hardly great news, the economy at least fared better than previously believed.
….. without the “unusually large drop in government spending,” economic growth would have been significantly stronger.
It’s with this news in mind that congressional Republicans are arguing that the nation will benefit if they slash public investments further and take additional capital out of the economy.
Jonathan Bernstein: Here’s how myths get started. Over the weekend, Alyene Senger at Heritage ran an item called “Obamacare at Three Years: Increasing Cost Estimates.”….
…. she has a chart showing estimated new costs rising from $898 billion in March 2010 to $1.6 trillion in February 2013…..
The chart is important, because it’s easily exportable. So David Frum today ran an item which was just the chart; the only thing Frum added was a one-sentence introduction, “The estimated costs of Obamacare keep rising.”
I haven’t looked, but I’m sure the chart will get plenty of play.
Charles Blow: Witnessing a historic moment is such an odd and exhilarating thing. It is hard to register the full scope of it because you are chest deep in it.
That is how I feel about the gay-marriage arguments made before the Supreme Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
However the court rules on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act, there is no denying that something historic has just happened: an aggrieved group has taken a stand and given voice once again to the American — and indeed Democratic — ideals of justice and fairness and freedom.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto meets with President Obama at the White House, November 2012
Statement by the Press Secretary: President Obama will travel to Mexico and Costa Rica May 2-4….
In Mexico, the President looks forward to meeting with President Peña Nieto and welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership and further our engagement on the broad array of bilateral, regional, and global issues that connect our two countries.
In Costa Rica, the President looks forward to the opportunity to meet with President Chinchilla as well as heads of state of the other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, whom President Chinchilla has offered to host
President Obama watches as Julia Pierson is sworn in as the first woman Director of the Secret Service by VP Biden in the Oval Office, March 27 (Photo: Pete Souza)
President Obama was interviewed by Univision and Telemundo today – the interviews are embargoed until 6:30PM EST
Steve Benen: After yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments on marriage rights and California’s Prop 8, court watchers and those on hand for the proceedings seemed reluctant to predict the outcome. It’s not just that speculation based solely on oral arguments is inherently risky, but also that real uncertainty hangs over the case.
That seems far less true 24 hours later. NBC’s Pete Williams told viewers this afternoon, “Again with the caveat, it’s always risky to predict, it does seem that there are at least five votes on the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.” Jeffrey Toobin added, “DOMA is in trouble.”
The New York Times report noted that Justice Kennedy “joined the four liberals in posing skeptical questions.”
Charles Pierce: Today, in the second half of the marriage equality twin-bill before the Supreme Court, the Defense Of Marriage Act gets its day in front of the be-robed ladies and gentlemen, and we might at last be putting the 1996 presidential campaign, and the influence of political Svengali Dick Morris, behind us. We may see the end of the era of triangulation. Yesterday, it became clear to most observers that the Court was fully prepared to punt on the case involving California’s Proposition 8, letting the issue devolve back to the states. That is not an option here. Either DOMA’s denial of over 1000 federal benefits and protections available to straight couples is constitutional or it is not. There are a number of reasons why it may not be, most of them involving such fundamental constitutional principles as equal protection of the laws, the full faith and credit clause, and the enumerated powers of the Congress. Politically, however, the law is both preposterous and obsolete.
McClatchy: President Obama will meet Thursday with mothers who want to see gun control efforts succeed, the White House says, amid questions of whether gun control legislation is lagging, some 100 days after the school shooting in Connecticut.
Obama will meet with law enforcement officials, victims of gun violence and other “stakeholders,” spokesman Josh Earnest said. The event comes as Obama’s gun violence prevention proposals have faced a series of roadblocks: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., last week announced that an assault weapons ban she championed won’t be included in the larger gun bill Democrats will introduce on the Senate floor next month.
Joe Deaser (The Hill): As a proud gun store owner, an avid outdoorsman, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, I know that recreational firearm use can be a safe, family-friendly activity that builds community and benefits everyone who takes part. But I also know that with our constitutional right to bear arms comes a responsibility to protect our loved ones and our neighbors from the devastating effects of gun violence.
In order to do just that, my fellow gun owners must come together to support perhaps the most logical and pragmatic gun safety measure currently under consideration in Washington: expanding the existing background check system to require criminal background checks for each and every gun sale.
Charles Pierce: Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is rapidly moving to the top of the leader board for this year’s Al From Trophy, which the blog hands out annually to its least favorite putative Democrat. (The scramble for the cup has become frenzied since the retirement of perennial contenders Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman, who were the Frazier and Ali of disreputable political sellouts.) Today, she pretty much told Michael Bloomberg to keep those (black) criminals in New York City in line before he spends all his (newyorkjew) money up in Jesusland to tell the people there what’s what about their shootin’ ‘arns.
…. according to the rookie senator, gun violence is not a national issue requiring national solutions, because that might inconvenience her in her increasingly ridiculous home state.
Sun-Times: First Lady Michelle Obama returns home to Chicago on April 10 to address youth violence in Chicago, marking her first local move to deal with reducing crime in her city.
According to the White House, Mrs. Obama will speak at a “Joint Luncheon Meeting: Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which will include members of Chicago’s leading civic organizations: the Commercial Club, the Economic Club, the Executives’ Club, and World Business Chicago.
Steve Benen: It’s been about two weeks since Brian Beutler coined a helpful phrase: “sequestration NIMBYism.” Republicans love the sequester policy they hated as recently as last month, and think it’s terrific that these deep, mindless spending cuts have taken effect.
But they’re not at all pleased about sequestration cuts that hurt their own constituents…
Vice President Joe Biden participates in a post-game cheer with the University of Delaware’s Lady Blue Hens in their locker room after their 78-69 victory over the University of North Carolina in the 2nd round of the NCAA playoffs, at Bob Carper Arena in Newark
Perry Bacon: While polls differ on the exact level of black support for gay marriage, almost half of African-Americans in Maryland backed a provision allowing gay marriages there last fall, and opposition to gay marriage has dipped below 50 percent among blacks nationally, according to the Pew Research Center. And Obama’s statement made it easier for influential African-American organizations, such as the NAACP, also to voice their support for gay marriage, as well as professional athletes, even if some influential pastors in many black communities still opposed it.
Obama’s words also caused a profound shift among his fellow politicians. It had always been expected Obama would declare his support for gay marriage, but in 2013 or 2014, after he had won re-election by focusing on other issues. Instead, the president illustrated backing gay marriage was not politically risky, declaring his support for gay unions and then winning not just in liberal states like California and New York but in Ohio, Virginia, Florida and other places with sizable blocs of conservatives and religious voters who some thought would turn out in droves to defeat a candidate who supported gay marriage.
Obama did not tout himself as the civil rights candidate in either of his two presidential runs. But if gay marriage becomes commonplace throughout America by the end of his second term, something that seems entirely possible right now, that could become an important part of his legacy as president.
Jamelle Bouie: Indeed, it’s tempting to argue—as Chris Cillizza does—that national outrage notwithstanding, the Sandy Hook massacre has done little to change the political landscape on gun control.
This, to me, is the wrong way to think of the issue. The shift from a political climate that could tolerate gun control to one that couldn’t took more than a decade. Even with the tragedies at Newtown, Aurora, and other places across the country, it’s unreasonable to expect the pendulum to swing back at a more rapid pace. What’s key about Sandy Hook isn’t that it yields new legislation, it’s that it inspires new activism around gun control, and provides energy for the long effort to build a political coalition unafraid of the cultural politics that surround guns.
Sandy Hook—helped along by a new Democratic majority of urbanites and nonwhites—has changed the politics of gun control. It will just take awhile for us to see the effects.
How To Prove Obama LOWERED The Deficit In Four Easy And Indisputable Steps
Addicting Info: The GOP, Fox News and AM Hate Radio regularly complain that Obama has raised the deficit. This is a lie. A very VERY big lie. It’s such a big lie and so easy to prove as a big lie that the fact 90% of the country thinks it’s true is one the greatest failures of the “liberal” media since they couldn’t be bothered to vet the Iraq War. The problem is that conservatives don’t want to know, independents can’t be bothered to look and liberals should be deeply ashamed for not knowing.
But worry not! It’s very VERY easy to clear up this misperception (and piss off conservatives to boot!) in just 4 simple steps.
How Getting Rid Of The Defense Of Marriage Act Will Boost The Economy
ThinkProgress: The Supreme Court will today hear oral arguments in the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies equal federal benefits to couples who are legally married under state law and also burdens families and the federal government.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that DOMA increases the deficit by roughly $1 billion a year, and while that amount is small, striking it down would save far more than ending subsidies to NPR or some of the other “deficit reduction” ideas Republicans have pursued in the past.
Today in egg on face derp news from Chris Cillizza. He’s shocked that people still really really really like President Obama. :roll:
People (still) really like President Obama
Chris Cillizza: Nearly six in ten Americans have a favorable impression of President Obama in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, numbers that suggest that even as the chief executive engages in a series of thorny policy fights his personal appeal remains strongly intact.
Fifty-seven percent of people view Obama favorably in the new Post-ABC survey while 41 percent regard him unfavorably. Those numbers are remarkably similar to the 60 percent favorable/37 percent unfavorable ratings for Obama in Post-ABC polling conducted in late January — just weeks after the president had been inaugurated for a second term.
Bloomberg: Sales of new U.S. houses in February capped the best back-to-back months in more than four years, spurred by near record-low borrowing costs and improving job prospects.
…. The increase in demand is contributing to growth as it ripples through the economy, boosting home-improvement retailers, appliance and furniture makers and builders….
“Housing is going to have a strong year this year and it’s going to have a strong year next year,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight …. “Housing is one of the key factors that’s going to get the economy back on track.”
Join VoteVets.org and tell your Senators that you support universal background checks – here
Thank you LadyHawke
A bit late with this:
You couldn’t make it up…..
Mediaite: Vocally “anti-Sharia law” GOP lawmakers in Tennessee had their fears quelled this week when they were assured that a mop sink in one state Capitol building was not secretly installed for use as a Muslim foot-washing station.
WH: Yesterday, President Obama signed proclamations establishing five new national monuments that celebrate our nation’s rich history and natural heritage. The monuments, located in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington, help tell the story of significant people and extraordinary events in American history, and also help protect natural resources and supporting economic growth in local communities through tourism and outdoor recreation.
“These sites honor the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country,” President Obama said. “By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come.”
VP Biden quite pleased about President Obama signing a bill designating the First State Monument, in Delaware, a National Monument, during a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House on March 25
MoooOOOOoooorning (again) everyone, thanks again to Symmetry for the post below.
Steve Benen: It will be a historic day at the Supreme Court this morning, as part of a historic week. Today, the justices will consider the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, a law generally known as Proposition 8, followed by related arguments tomorrow challenging the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act. Let’s briefly review what to expect today.
At issue is a case called Hollingsworth v. Perry, brought forward by legal heavyweights — David Boies and former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who faced against one another in Bush v. Gore — challenging California’s ban, approved in 2008. They were successful at both the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, though as Adam Liptak explained, the latter court issued a narrower ruling: the jurists concluded that “voters were not entitled to withdraw a constitutional right once it had been established by the State Supreme Court.”
The reasoning appeared calculated to appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, and if upheld, it would not automatically invalidate other bans on marriage equality in other states. More on him later.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich Says “Same Sex Couples Should Be Able To Marry”
BuzzFeed: “I believe that same sex couples should be able to marry and should have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other married couple,” the Alaskan senator said in what appears to be his first direct statement on the subject.
“Government should keep out of individuals’ personal lives—if someone wants to marry someone they love, they should be able to. Alaskans are fed up with government intrusion into our private lives, our daily business, and in the way we manage our resources and economy,” he continued.
Starbucks CEO Doubles Down on Gay-Marriage Support, Telling Shareholder to Sell Stake if He Doesn’t Like Views
Time: “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.
SCOTUSBlog: At 10 a.m. we expect one or more opinions in argued cases. There will be no live blog this morning, but we will post on opinions promptly.
Following opinions, the Justices will hear oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Lyle has written on the issues and briefs in the case here, here, here, and here. Amy’s preview “In Plain English” is here. A Q&A on the basics of the same-sex marriage cases from Greg Stohr of Bloomberg is here.
6:30: President Obama and Michelle Obama mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House
The rest of the week:
Tuesday: The President will welcome the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and the Major League Soccer champion LA Galaxy to the White House
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Thursday: The President will welcome President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House
Friday: The President will travel to Miami, Florida for an event on the economy
BuzzFeed: President Barack Obama is ready to hit the road on a new campaign-style public relations trip, hoping to breathe new life into the push for stronger gun control laws.
…. A White House official said people should expect to see Obama travel outside DC to bolster his insistence that gun control measures “deserve a vote” in Congress.
Obama will have help. Over the coming two-week congressional recess, representatives of the Brady Campaign and Mike Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns tell BuzzFeed they’re gearing up for major campaigns aimed at ginning up votes for gun control….
Greg Sargent: Over the weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York announced that he would spend $12 million on ads pressuring a number of Senators in 13 states to support Obama’s gun reforms. The NRA has vowed to respond on the air, meaning the battle over guns will intensify in the states as Congress remains on recess for the next two weeks.
Bloomberg’s ads — which focus largely on the proposal to expand background checks — will target a number of GOP Senators. But the more interesting dimension to this is that they will also target red state Dems: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Lousiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
So where are these red state Dems on expanding background checks?
Senator Richard Blumenthal (ThinkProgress): NRA leadership demonstrated yet again last week just how low they are willing to go in their unconscionable effort to block any and all common sense, life saving gun violence legislation. Their most recent repugnant tactic—repeated robo calls to Newtown families—mocks and betrays the courage and compassion demonstrated by the Newtown community just barely three months after one of the world’s most horrific acts of gun violence seized 26 beautiful and heroic young lives.
NYT: Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of President Obama’s successful re-election campaign machinery, will jump into the immigration debate this week with an aggressive online effort to highlight the personal stories of immigrants.
The group has collected 7,000 stories from supporters, some of whom entered the country illegally or were brought as young children by their parents. Organizers say they will distribute the stories using Twitter, Facebook and blogs beginning this week.
The idea, officials with the group said, is to demonstrate support for efforts in Congress to overhaul immigration laws in ways that would provide 11 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship.
NYT Editorial: Republican leaders in Congress regularly denounce the 2010 Affordable Care Act and vow to block money to carry it out or even to repeal it. Those political attacks ignore the considerable benefits delivered to millions of people since the law’s enactment three years ago Saturday. The main elements of the law do not kick in until Jan. 1, 2014, when many millions of uninsured people will gain coverage. Yet it has already thrown a lifeline to people at high risk of losing insurance or being uninsured, including young adults and people with chronic health problems, and it has made a start toward reforming the costly, dysfunctional American health care system.
TPM: The Supreme Court is poised to hear two blockbuster cases on gay rights this week, with historic implications for a cause that is advancing politically at lightning speed.
The cases to be heard on Tuesday and Wednesday involve the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married same sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
By the end of June, nine justices will either advance the cause of gay rights, set it back, or punt on the larger questions, as support for gay equality in various forms rises in the polls.
Steve Benen: We’ve reached the point at which the looming fiscal deadlines are so close, we can count them in hours, not days….
….. And so, we’re waiting. The respective Senate leaders will try to reach a resolution with the intention of holding a vote [Sunday]. If they succeed in crafting a plan, and it passes, Boehner has agreed to bring it to the House floor – even if most of his caucus disapproves – probably on Monday, the last possible day to act.
This is a machine with plenty of moving parts, but looking ahead, there are two main questions to keep an eye on: (1) what might the Senate plan look like? and (2) what would happen if a Senate plan doesn’t come together?
NYT: Never much known for restraint, Joseph R. Biden Jr. did not hold back during a presidential primary debate in 2007 when a voter asking about gun rights in a recorded video displayed a fearsome-looking semiautomatic rifle and declared, “This is my baby.”
Mr. Biden shook his head. “I tell you what, if that’s his baby, he needs help,” he said. “I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don’t know if he’s mentally qualified to own that gun.”
….. Five years later, that same type of weapon, a Bushmaster AR-15, is at the heart of a renewed national conversation about gun laws because it was used this month by the mass killer in Newtown, Conn….
Sun Times: President Barack Obama is urging the Illinois General Assembly to legalize gay marriage in his home state as lawmakers are poised to take up the measure as early as this week in Springfield.
“While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.
“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally,” Inouye said.
Monday: President Obama attends meetings at the White House
Tuesday: Hosts President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House
Wednesday: Holds a Cabinet Meeting at the White House
Thursday: Meets with the 2012 Nobel Prize winners in the Oval Office
In case you missed these articles/posts:
Washington Post: When Barack Obama published his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” about racial identity in 1995, he talked with his neighborhood newspaper in Illinois, the Hyde Park Citizen, about the economic disparities he had seen while exploring the world as a child and young adult.
…. That sensitivity to inequality has stuck with Obama throughout his rise in politics, from Chicago’s South Side all the way to the White House. He remains largely a pragmatist in his approach to governing. But beneath his tactical maneuvering lies a consistent and unifying principle: to use the powers of his office to shrink the growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else…..
Washington Post: Late on election night, a small melee erupted at the University of Mississippi when a group of white students frustrated by the reelection of President Obama marched outside and began shouting racial slurs at African American students. Several hundred people gathered to watch as two white students were arrested.
…. Yet even as that incident evoked ugly memories of an earlier era, Election Day in the South told a newer and more surprising story: The nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region than any other Democratic nominee in three decades, underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support.
Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.
Michael Tomasky: A new report appears to exonerate Susan Rice for public statements following the Benghazi attack. Will John McCain apologize for his reckless crusade against her? Don’t bet on it.
We don’t yet really know as a society what a person has to do to completely and utterly cancel out a record of war heroism, but we may be about to find out. If this CBS News report is even close to accurate, John McCain’s arguments of the last few weeks about Susan Rice are thrashingly demolished. He has, or should have, zero credibility now on this issue.
…. Will he stand down now from this embarrassing crusade? …. Once you’ve hopped on the Crooked Talk Express, detraining isn’t easy.
Ricky Watson of Littleton, Colorado wipes tears from his eyes after he thanked President Barack Obama for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, September 13. Watson was kicked out of the Air Force 25 years ago for being gay.
My fave pic from last year’s picnic …. love the look she gave Rusty, I hope she’s President one day ;-)
7:0 President Obama speaks at a picnic for Members of Congress (it’s over)
President Barack Obama talks with senior advisors before a phone call with President François Hollande of France in the Oval Office, June 27, 2012. Pictured, from left, are Larry Pfeiffer, Director of Operations, the Situation Room; Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; Caroline Atkinson, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Elizabeth “Liz” Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for European Affairs; and Chief of Staff Jack Lew. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The President will participate in interviews with local TV anchors from Roanoke, Virginia, Jacksonville, Florida, Greenville, South Carolina, Sioux City, Iowa, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Reno, Nevada, and Fresno, California
The following words are from the Reverend Otis Moss, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois concerning President Obama’s recent public endorsement of Gay Marriage.
Tell your brethren who are part of your ministerial coalition to “live their faith and not legislate their faith” for the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all. We must learn to be more than a one-issue community and seek the beloved community where we may not all agree, but we all recognize the fingerprint of the Divine upon all of humanity.
There is no doubt people who are same-gender-loving occupy prominent places in the body of Christ. For the clergy to hide from true dialogue with quick dismissive claims devised from poor biblical scholarship is as sinful as unthoughtful acceptance of a theological position. When we make biblical claims without sound interpretation we run the risk of adopting a doctrinal position of deep conviction but devoid of love. Deep faith may resonate in our position, but it is the ethic of love that forces us to prayerfully reexamine our position.
The question I believe we should pose to our congregations is, “Should all Americans have the same civil rights?” This is a radically different question than the one you raised with the ministers, “Does the church have the right to perform or not perform certain religious rites.”
There is difference between rights and rites. We should never misconstrue rights designed to protect diverse individuals in a pluralistic society versus religious rites designed by faith communities to communicate a theological or doctrinal perspective. These two questions are answered in two fundamentally different arenas. One is answered in the arena of civic debate where the Constitution is the document of authority. The other is answered in the realm of ecclesiastical councils where theology, conscience and biblical mandates are the guiding ethos. I do not believe ecclesiastical councils are equipped to shape civic legislation nor are civic representatives equipped to shape religious rituals and doctrine.
The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the President’s words. Marriage was under attack years ago by men who viewed women as property and children as trophies of sexual prowess. Marriage is under attack by low wages, high incarceration, unfair tax policy, unemployment, and lack of education. Marriage is under attack by clergy who proclaim monogamy yet think nothing of stepping outside the bonds of marriage to have multiple affairs with “preaching groupies.” Same-gender couples did not cause the high divorce rate, but our adolescent views of relationships and our inability as a community to come to grips with the ethic of love and commitment did. We still confuse sex with love and romance with commitment.
My father, who is a veteran of the civil rights movement and retired pastor, eloquently stated the critical nature of this election when speaking to ministers this past week who claim they will pull support from the President as a result of his position. He stated, “Our Ancestors prayed for 389 years to place a person of color in the White House. They led over 200 slave revolts, fought in 11 wars, one being a civil war where over 600,000 people died. Our mothers fought and were killed for women’s suffrage, our grandparents were lynched for the civil rights bill of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965…my father never had the opportunity to vote and I believe it is my sacred duty to pull the lever for every member of my family who was denied the right to vote. I will not allow narrow-minded ministers or regressive politicians the satisfaction of keeping me from my sacred right to vote to shape the future for my grandchildren.”
“The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the President’s words.”
Gay and lesbian citizens did not cause the economic crash, foreclosures, and attack upon health care. Poor under funded schools were not created because people desire equal protection under the law. We have much work to do as a community, and to claim the President of the United States must hold your theological position is absurd. He is President of the United States of America not the President of the Baptist convention or Bishop of the Sanctified or Holiness Church. He is called to protect the rights of Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, Gay and straight, black and white, Atheist and Agnostic. It should be noted the President offered no legislation, or executive order, or present an argument before the Supreme Court. He simply stated his personal conviction.
If we dare steal away from the noise of this debate, we will realize as a church we are called to “Do justice, live mercy and walk humbly with God.” Gay people have never been the enemy; and when we use rhetoric to suggest they are the source of our problems we lie on God and cause tears to flow from the eyes of Christ.
I am not asking you to change your position, but I am stating we must stay in dialogue and not allow our own personal emotional prejudices or doctrines to prevent us from seeing the possibilities of a beloved community.
November is fast approaching, and the spirits of Ella Baker, Septima Clarke, Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks, A. Phillip Randolph, James Orange, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther, King Jr. stand in the balcony of heaven raising the question, “Will you do justice, live mercy and walk humbly with our God?”
Emmitt Till and the four little girls who were assassinated in Alabama during worship did not die for a Sunday sermonic sound bite to show disdain for one group of God’s people. They were killed by an evil act enacted by men who believed in doctrine over love. We serve in ministry this day because of a man who believed in love over doctrine and died on a hill called Calvary in a dusty Palestinian community 2,000 years ago. Do not let the rhetoric of this debate keep you from the polls, my friend.
Asking you to imagine a beloved community, your brother and friend,