“Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya? Oh, we know that story.” First Lady Michelle Obama, April 10
5:0 EST: President Obama departs West Palm Beach, Florida
7:30 EST: Arrives White House
NYT: The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.
The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.
President Obama talks with Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton Sr., following the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013. Mr.and Mrs. Pendleton, whose 15-year-old daughter Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed last month in Chicago, were guests in the First Lady’s box at the speech
President Obama signs two copies of his State of the Union address in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House before departing for the U.S. Capitol, D.C., Feb. 12
President Obama waits with Sergeants at Arms and Members of Congress before entering the House Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address. Standing with the President are, from left: Paul Irving, House Sergeant at Arms: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif; and Terrance Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms
President Obama and Vice President Biden look toward the guests in the First Lay’s box at the State of the Union
Sun Times: President Barack Obama will speak at the Hyde Park Academy on Friday, returning home to push his second-term economic agenda and curbs on gun violence just a few blocks from his Kenwood home – and not far from where 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down on Jan. 29.
Obama makes the afternoon trip at the school, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave., as the last of a three-city swing to bolster the plans he discussed in his Tuesday night State of the Union Address. Today Obama is in Asheville, N.C. and tomorrow he is in the Atlanta area.
Boston.com: This image provided by Vogue shows former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., left, with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, during a photo shoot at their home in Tucson, Ariz. The image and accompanying article by John Powers will be published in the March 2013 issue of Vogue
President Obama arrives to speak at the Linamar factory in Asheville, N.C., Feb 13
President Barack Obama listens to Jeffrey Brower and Dwayne Moore explain the machining of the axle components made for Caterpillar’s large mining trucks during a tour of the Linamar Corporation auto-parts plant in Arden, North Carolina, Feb. 13 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: The available research shows that no cabinet nominee has ever faced a filibuster. This week, however, as Chuck Hagel’s Defense Secretary nomination reaches the Senate floor, a new level of Republican obstructionism may very well be reached.
“We’re going to require a 60-vote threshold,” [Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma] told [Josh Rogin] …. [Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas] told The Cable, “There is a 60-vote threshold for every nomination.”
Well, no, actually there isn’t. Cornyn has been in the Senate for 11 years, and I have a strong hunch he knows that “every nomination” doesn’t have to clear a “60-vote threshold,” and many haven’t. Why Cornyn is comfortable saying the opposite is anyone’s guess.
10:15: The President and Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
9:0: The President delivers the State of the Union Address
CNN: President Obama will announce in the State of the Union speech that a year from now, 34,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have returned home, reducing the number of U.S. troops in the country by half, sources say.
Washington Post: When she set out to her local library in North Miami to cast her vote in the presidential election last year, Desiline Victor had no way of knowing the journey would lead all the way to the White House.
On Tuesday night, Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian immigrant, will sit in the ornate House chamber as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Victor voted for the president, but it was not easy. On her first visit to the polls on the morning of Oct. 28, the first day of early voting, she waited in line for three hours. Poll workers eventually advised her to come back later, and she did.
….. The whirlwind trip has taken Victor out of her element. She had to buy a coat, since a heavy winter jacket isn’t usually needed in balmy Miami. And here, she’s “Ms. Victor” instead of “Granny”….
But when she meets the president, perhaps the address may be less formal. Victor already feels a kinship with the commander in chief.
“I call him ‘my son,’ ” she says. “I feel like he is my son.”
Steve Benen: …. I don’t much care about Nugent’s ridiculous antics. He’s obviously a fringe extremist who uses vile language; he hasn’t had a hit since the ’70s; and he’s generally better left ignored.
But Nugent has also gone after President Obama with rhetoric that was violent enough to get the attention of the Secret Service. Try to imagine the political world’s reaction if a washed-up entertainer targeted a Republican president with violent rhetoric, and then a Democratic member of Congress invited him as a special guest to attend the State of the Union.
…. Republicans find themselves in the awkward position of having two GOP senators delivering post-SOTU speeches, and while they’re speaking, a musician/right-wing clown will be hosting a press conference on Capitol Hill, which seems likely to become a distracting spectacle …. If the GOP intends to stop being, in Bobby Jindal’s words, the “stupid party,” they have a long way to go.
Chicago Sun Times: When President Barack Obama turns to gun violence during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, he will likely look up at Michelle Obama’s box in the House chamber and acknowledge the grieving Chicago parents of slain teen Hadiya Pendleton.
Pendleton’s folks, Cleopatra and Nathaniel, through tragedy, are the latest symbols of why Obama is pushing Congress to take measures to stop gun-related bloodshed.
…. Mrs. Obama took a very unusual action for a first lady last Saturday, returning home to the South Side for Hadiya’s funeral …. Asking Hadiya’s folks to be her State of the Union guests in her box is extraordinary follow-through – but makes perfect sense, because at her core, Mrs. Obama is very, very proud of being a South Sider ….. Hadiya was killed on Mrs. Obama’s turf and she is doing something about it.
….. Rep. Bobby Rush – whose son, Huey, was shot and killed during a 1999 holdup – was also at Hadiya’s funeral …. “I saw the face of the first lady and I saw the pain in her face.”….
….. Hadiya, as her parents know – and the nation will see on Tuesday night – is not a statistic. She is a teen we should not have lost.
NYT: A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country’s long-term fiscal problems.
In figures released last week, the Congressional Budget Office said it had erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget office now projects that spending on those two programs in 2020 will be about $200 billion, or 15 percent, less than it projected three years ago. New data also show overall health care spending growth continuing at the lowest rate in decades for a fourth consecutive year.
Michael Tomasky: …. At John Brennan’s CIA confirmation hearing last week, which came right after the leak of the controversial Justice Department memo about the targeting of U.S. citizens, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that the Senate was reviewing proposals for special courts to oversee the program. At least that way, this awesome power to determine that a U.S. citizen had forfeited his right to due process by joining an enemy army wouldn’t repose in one person. Then on Saturday, The New York Times noted that President Obama has been considering exactly this move…..
….. Given all this, the best that citizens can do is decide which candidate and party they’d rather trust with this power. I’m not turning somersaults at the idea of any president having it. But you better believe I’d rather have Obama possess it than George Bush or John McCain or Mitt Romney. Talk of this sort is the highest form of apostasy to your purer civil libertarians, who urge us to think only in terms of the office. But men (and hopefully soon women) hold that office, and it’s not just OK for citizens to assess their character and their levels of paranoia, it’s a duty…..
TPM: Stephen Colbert on Monday took at look at information apparently obtained by a hacker who revealed email correspondence and photos from the Bush family.
“You see, President Clinton has his global initiative against poverty, and Jimmy Carter may have his Habitat for Humanity. But now we’ve learned that George W. Bush has been hard at work painting self-portraits in the shower ….. That is a bold, artistic vision that says ‘faces are hard,’” Colbert said of the shower painting. “But, folks, it’s not like the President sits around all day painting shower portraits. He also did one taking a bath. Because after a hard day’s painting in the shower, there’s nothing like a relaxing paint in the tub.”
Tanique Parker, 16, cries as she leaves the wake for friend and classmate Hadiya Pendleton at Calahan Funeral Home on Chicago’s South Side, Feb. 8
The handwritten note from President Barack Obama on the back of the funeral program for Hadiya Pendleton:
“Dear Cleopatra and Nathaniel, Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are to have heard about Hadiya’s passing. We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence. God Bless.”
A mourner holds up a program for the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton…
NBC: The national debate over gun violence took a highly personal turn for first lady Michelle Obama when a Chicago girl was slain near Obama’s family home just days after she performed at the presidential inauguration in Washington.
The first lady and top federal, state and city officials joined hundreds of mourners on Saturday at the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, 15…..
The first lady met privately with members of Pendleton’s family and with about 30 of her friends and classmates before the funeral…..
…. “Hadiya’s life has touched individuals, mothers, fathers, families and governments across this planet,” her aunt, Linda Wilks, said. “If this does not demonstrate the power of light and love, we are a people deeply cloaked in darkness.”
Jackiegrumbacher: It’s a privilege to have a safe place here where we can mourn Hadiya together.
I think of all the years before there was a cyber place to gather when people had to deal with the grief from a local or national tragedy alone or with family, friends and neighbors. We didn’t get to hear from those in other parts of the country or the world and so our perspective was limited, even though our pain was real.
Now a young girl in Chicago, senselessly shot down in a park, is all of our daughters and we know that the grief we feel is a shared one and so is the anger. Because a child in Chicago is also our child, there’s a stronger possibility that we can put a stop to the intolerable conditions in which we attempt to raise our families.
As Nena pointed out above, we are over 300 million strong and we are very powerful when we choose to be citizens who act together. More and more Americans are saying “enough.” More Americans are “seeing” the ones who are slaughtered and are saying that the senseless death of our collective children will never end until we the people stop it.
It’s past the time when we can vaguely hope that things will get better. They won’t – not without all of us speaking out and not without all of us pushing.
As PBO has told us time and again, we are the citizens. We can make change happen. And our time is now.
We do it for Hadiya. We do it for our children and grandchildren. And we do it for all the children yet to be born who deserve a better world.
Greg Sargent: John Boehner’s office is circulating Charles Krauthammer’s column, which argues that Republicans should call Obama’s sequester “bluff” and make no concessions whatsoever in revenues to avert the sequester. This is still more confirmation that the GOP’s explicit position is that allowing the sequester to happen – which Republicans themselves say will gut the military and tank the economy – is preferable to compromising at all with Dems, and that they will use the threat of disaster to force a solution that averts the sequester only by giving Republicans everything they want.
….. we’re back to exactly where we were during the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling fights. Republicans are explicitly and openly using the prospect of serious harm to millions and millions of Americans to force Democrats to agree to a deal that gives Republicans everything that they want, while requiring them to make no concessions whatsoever….
Steve Benen: When it comes to the looming, automatic sequestration cuts, there seem to be two broader debates happening simultaneously. The first, more important question deals with what’s going to happen with the policy itself, and the scope of the damage it could do to the economy, the military, and the country.
The second question is a little pettier: who came up with this awful idea in the first place? A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.
…. Does the GOP have a point on this? Was the policy actually Obama’s idea? No. The argument is not only wrong, it’s dependent on the entire political world having a very short memory …. Since this has become such an important element of the larger fight, let’s take a minute to set the record straight…..
Business Insider: …. Charles Krauthammer writes that Republicans should “call Obama’s sequester bluff.” It’s being passed around by Republicans and other conservatives on Twitter and in email blasts. His argument – which exemplifies a typical conservative shift on the sequester recently – is that Republicans now have leverage on the sequester over President Barack Obama…..
…. Krauthammer wasn’t always so bullish on using the sequester as a tool for leverage. Last May, he warned in an appearance on Fox News that letting the cuts go into effect would be a “catastrophe” for the nation’s defense…..
…. The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal advanced a similar argument on Thursday. In an editorial entitled “The Unscary Sequester,” the editorial board disputed Washington’s “collective fit of terror.”
…. Then there’s the editorial the board wrote not even seven months ago. It used the same language as Krauthammer – “catastrophe,” which it wrote was “playing out in slow motion.” The board also said that Obama had the leverage, and that it would be a “dangerous game” to play with the sequester.
RollCall: President Barack Obama has agreed to do more than just raise money for House Democrats’ effort to win back the majority in 2014: He is also going to help with candidate recruitment.
Obama will headline eight fundraising events in 2013 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and more fundraisers are planned for 2014. But Obama’s agreement to help DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York make the sell to would-be candidates in targeted districts is also significant.
“It’s transformational,” Israel said in an interview, adding that House Democrats are “firing on all cylinders like I’ve never seen before.”
The president’s efforts to assist House Democrats politically are more than Israel initially even asked for.
Ari Berman (The Nation): In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another twenty-five years. The legislation passed 390–33 in the House and 98–0 in the Senate. Every top Republican supported the bill …. Civil rights leaders flanked George W. Bush at the signing ceremony.
Seven years later, the bipartisan consensus that supported the VRA for nearly fifty years has collapsed, and conservatives are challenging the law as never before. Last November, three days after a presidential election in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Section 5 of the VRA, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The case will be heard on February 27.
The lawsuit, originating in Shelby County, Alabama, is backed by leading operatives and funders in the conservative movement, along with Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas….
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama will join some of Illinois’ most recognizable politicians and clergy Saturday to mourn a 15-year-old honor student whose death has drawn attention to staggering gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
But Hadiya Pendleton’s family says her Saturday funeral service won’t be about politics, but about remembering a girl who loved to dance, once appeared in an anti-gang video and died just days after performing at one of President Barack Obama’s inauguration events.
None of the dignitaries are slated to speak during the service. The teen’s pastor and brother will talk, and the musical group Pendleton was a member of will perform.
NYT: Among the victims of gun violence who will be sitting in the House chamber on Tuesday night when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address will be a teacher who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Natalie Hammond, who reportedly took bullet wounds to the leg, foot and hand but narrowly escaped with her life, will attend the speech as the guest of her congresswoman, Elizabeth Esty, the representative for Newtown, Conn.
Ms. Hammond, the school’s lead teacher, and another school employee were the only two people to survive after being shot by the gunman, Adam Lanza. Ms. Hammond will be one of the many victims of gun violence who will attend the State of the Union address.
WH: On Friday, February 15, President Obama will welcome the recipients of the 2012 Citizens Medal to the White House for a special ceremony to recognize their efforts to serve their communities, and inspire others to do the same.