President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha, along with two of Sasha’s friends, board Air Force One as they depart Joint Base Andrews in Washington. President Obama and Sasha are traveling to New York City to meet up with Malia Obama for some father-daughter time
President Barack Obama accompanied by his daughters Sasha and Malia, their friends, and the president’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband Konrad Ngwalk, through Central Park
Cindi Leive: Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kerry Washington: The Important Cause Bringing Three Powerhouse Women Together
First Lady Michelle Obama and actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Kerry Washington are sitting in the Blue Room at the White House. This trio of female forces, who know one another through their work on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, aren’t here just to catch up on life. They’re here today to spread a crucial message: This Memorial Day, America’s servicewomen, veterans, and military wives—courageous women—need our help. Over a decade ago, during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, our servicemen and -women were constantly in the public eye, in newspapers, music videos, car commercials. Today, most of the more than 2.5 million men and women who deployed are home safe—but they deserve just as much attention as when they were braving IEDs and insurgents.
During this reentry period, advocates point out, many veterans face hardships (from homelessness and unemployment to post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of sexual trauma), and we can’t underestimate the support they need. MO: One thing I want to clarify—that every service member, veteran, wants us to remember—is that the vast majority of people returning from service come back completely healthy…. But when we do come across someone who is struggling…we have to develop a culture of open arms and acceptance so that they feel comfortable saying, “I’m a veteran. And by the way, I need little help.” Think about the amount of training the average veteran has received through the military—physical training, project management training, public relations work. Think of an average tour of duty in a foreign land, the money we put into developing that, and then they’re discharged, and what, we let that investment go? Absolutely not. These are some of the best-trained people in our society.
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the unveiling of the Maya Angelou Forever Stamp, at the Warner Theater in Washington. From left are, Eleanor Traylor, English Professor at Howard University; poet Nikki Giovanni; Mrs. Obama; Postmaster General Megan Brennan; Oprah Winfrey, and artist Ross Rossin
Maya Angelou would have been 87 years old day, and to commemorate her birthday we celebrate everything the author, activist and creative force accomplished in her nearly one century on earth. Though best known for her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which became the first non-fiction bestseller by a Black woman, Angelou’s talents and achievements run deep. She is a Grammy winner (for Best Spoken Word Album in 1994), a filmmaker (Down in the Delta, her directorial debut at the age of 70), was appointed an American Ambassador by the NAACP and President Barack Obama presented her with the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President Barack Obama holds up a team jersey as he hosts a ceremony honoring the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx in the East Room at the White House. Minnesota Lynx defeated the Atlanta Dream last October to win their second WNBA title in three years.
Minnesota Lynx women’s basketball player Maya Moore, right, pretends to take notes as President Barack Obama jokes that by now Moore has her own wing in the White House, standing next to teammate Seimone Augustus, during a ceremony honoring the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx women’s basketball player Maya Moore reacts at right as President Barack Obama jokes that by now she has her own wing in the White House
Josh Lederman: Obama Fetes Minnesota Lynx For Wnba Finals Win; Says Team Is A Good Example For His Daughters
President Barack Obama is praising the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx for setting a good example for his daughters and for girls across the country. Obama is honoring the team’s victory in the WNBA Finals in a White House ceremony. He says when young women play sports, they do better in school. Obama says the Lynx had something to prove when they started the season. He says, quote, “You succeeded.”
Obama commends the team for helping students with reading and raising money for breast cancer research. Obama says he can’t remember how many times star player Maya Moore has been to the White House following victories. He’s joking that she has her own White House wing.
I find quiet time when my soul is fighting off the floods of discouragement.
I then try to quiet my space with music, a seat in the library and music room.
I look up at one of the precious photos of my mother sitting at my piano when she came out to visit me long before she left me here on this earth.
Then I smile and try to remember what songs hymns she was playing that particular time. I feel some peace coming over my body when I think of those songs.
I then look over at a very special photo of my loving brother and see him as he is in his career and remembering how our mother and father worked so hard to make sure that we had the opportunities to grace the halls of some great educational settings. But then I cry a little because I remember how she worked so hard to make that happen for us.
I remember seeing her precious feet so swollen after standing in a family’s kitchen, bathroom, sunroom, pool house, washing, and cleaning and then preparing all of their meals and all of their holiday dinners and parties. And feel the salty tears slowly running down my cheeks as I say, “Thank you God for this beautiful and precious lady, our mother who did all of this for us.
Then I look around and see the many blessings that I have received because she wore those uniforms to conform to the rules of that family’s rules while she knew one day she would not have to do it any longer; but she would not take a penny more or less for that journey to make sure she paved the road so her baby son and daughters could walk down many less rugged roads in the future.
Then I feel my space getting peaceful and more lovely because of the fountain of memories of this phenominal woman who gave so much to her children so that they may dream big dreams; work hard in school; read a lot and learn about how other mothers were trying to do the same for their precious children.
Then my quiet space becomes sweeter and sweeter because of where I chose to sit, be quiet, listen to the whispers of God reminding me of how some of those days were born so that I could sit and give thanks as I journey at the tender age of almost seventy with pride, joy, and thanksgiving.
My tears are streaming with such speed that I do not want them to stop because they remind me of what a precious, beautiful, peaceful, hardworking, and loving mother and father I had in my life.
So these distractions moving around our great President and First Lady remind me daily of how President Obama must have his quiet time and allow the tears to flow while he remembers how hard his precious mother worked to raise, and exposed all of her goodness to Maya and PBO.
What loving and Phenomenal Mothers we all had and maybe some still do in our space; well
give them a hug, if they are still with you;
give them a call;
give them a hand written note on some lovely stationery
give them a lovely walk downtown and have a nice quiet lunch;
give them a lovely journey with some of the most lovely and fun notes about how they spent time with you;
And most of all, just give them a moment where you tell them how much you appreciate their worn out shoes to walk places where others did not dare walk for you. Just take the time, if it is possible to reach out and do one of these or one of your own choosing.
I wish I had all of the thoughts my precious mother, especially, thought as she walked to that job for all those years just to take care of her dear children. ‘Our Phenomenal Mothers.’
I went on line and found a lovely place where one can personally create a lovely garden flag with your personal touch on it in remembrance of your mother. I did one for our mother. Her favorite colors, and it will be placed in the lovely and special rose that I found and purchased today. I am so elated to have it arrive before my brother makes his next trip out here; if he can get away from his very, very important position, it will be a lovely moment for both of us. What a time we will have to share.
I know PBO does these types of loving acts of love with his sister since their mother is no longer with him. What moments those have to be for them.
Let us keep each other in our beautiful places of goodness as we go into another week. We were blessed with a wonderful week with our President, First Lady, and VPOTUS and SLOTUS. Thank you Chips and TOD Family. This place is such a sweet and respectful haven of knowledge, and great support for PBO.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at the Memorial Service for Dr Maya Angelou
Thank you so much. (Applause.) My heart is so full. My heart is so full. Bebe — Oprah, why did you do that? Just why did you put me after this? (Laughter.)
To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young — let me just share something with you. My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do. (Laughter.) But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you’re going, aren’t you? I said, well, Mom, I’m not really sure, I have to check with my schedule. She said, you are going, right? (Laughter.) I said, well, I’m going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out. I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy. (Laughter.)
It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.
In the Book of Psalms it reads: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth.” What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.
She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine. And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.
The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman”, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. (Applause.) Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.
And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message. As a young woman, I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. (Laughter.) That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.
Her message was very simple. She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, “Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.” She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.
Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my journey –- through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers; through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls; through long years on the campaign trail where, at times, my very womanhood was dissected and questioned. For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words –- words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House. (Applause.)
And today, as First Lady, whenever the term “authentic” is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou. But really, I’m just a beginner — I am baby-authentic. (Laughter.) Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master. For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely passionate, unapologetic self. She was comfortable in every last inch of her glorious brown skin.
But for Dr. Angelou, her own transition was never enough. You see, she didn’t just want to be phenomenal herself, she wanted all of us to be phenomenal right alongside her. (Applause.) So that’s what she did throughout her lifetime -– she gathered so many of us under her wing. I wish I was a daughter, but I was right under that wing sharing her wisdom, her genius, and her boundless love.
I first came into her presence in 2008, when she spoke at a campaign rally here in North Carolina. At that point, she was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank to help her breathe. But let me tell you, she rolled up like she owned the place. (Laughter.) She took the stage, as she always did, like she’d been born there. And I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence I could barely concentrate on what she was saying to me.
But while I don’t remember her exact words, I do remember exactly how she made me feel. (Applause.) She made me feel like I owned the place, too. She made me feel like I had been born on that stage right next to her. And I remember thinking to myself, “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me. So, now I’m good. I can do this. I can do this.” (Applause.)
And that’s really true for us all, because in so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us. She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our fear, our anger, our shame. And she assured us that despite it all –- in fact, because of it all -– we were good. And in doing so, she paved the way for me and Oprah and so many others just to be our good, old, black-woman selves. (Applause.)
She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us. (Applause.) And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings. She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is –- your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
That was Maya Angelou’s reach. She touched me. She touched all of you. She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States. (Applause.)
So when I heard that Dr. Angelou had passed, while I felt a deep sense of loss, I also felt a profound sense of peace. Because there is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us, because there was something truly divine about Maya. I know that now, as always, she is right where she belongs.
May her memory be a blessing to us all. Thank you. God bless. (Applause.)
A year ago today: “The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day.” (Photo by Pete Souza)
The Hill: Obama Group’s New Ad Touts Healthcare Law Insurance Rebates
The political advocacy group spun off from President Obama’s reelection campaign on Thursday unveiled a new ad touting the benefits of ObamaCare, their third national ad as the administration readies to rollout their healthcare reforms.
The new ad from Organizing for Action (OFA), titled “Every Day” features a North Carolina family discussing the insurance rebate they received under the healthcare law. The parents Rebecca and Russell worried about how to pay for their son’s medical care in the face of rising premiums.
“When the Affordable Care Act was passed we ended up getting a $350 rebate from our insurance company and then his premiums were going to go down by $60 a month,” says Rebecca in the ad.
“ObamaCare is helping everyday families every day,” reads onscreen text.
“It’s nice to see somebody looking out for the little guy,” says the father Russell.
The Grio: Eric Holder’s Sentencing Reforms Represent A Sea Change
This week, Attorney General Holder announced that Federal Prosecutors would have more discretion (i.e. more leeway) in maneuvering around some of this nation’s more draconian sentencing practices impacting substance abusers and others whose lives and families have been decimated by the so-called War on Drugs. Nearly half of the federal inmate population is serving time for drug offenses. The significance of this policy shift initiated by AG Holder and the DOJ should not be underestimated.
Holder’s announcement this week signals both his leadership and commitment to these issues as well as his capacity to hear and respond to calls for equal justice from the litany of voices aimed at ending the war on drugs and reforming our broken criminal justice system. The Department of Justice memo sent to all U.S. federal prosecutors this week requires them to not include information regarding drug quantities – thereby allowing them to sidestep mandatory minimums – for drug defendants that meet a reasonable set of criteria, including having no affiliations with drug cartels or other criminal organizations, no prior criminal record, and no violent crimes connected to their offenses.
Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.
I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”
Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot….
The Obama administration has made changes to a college loan program designed to help more families qualify for college aid.
African-American college presidents and lawmakers had sought changes to the PLUS loan program…..
“The Education Department says families that have recent but small-scale debt may now become eligible for PLUS loans through appeals …. Black lawmakers have been pressuring the administration, saying large numbers of previously eligible applicants have been denied aid under tighter credit rules.
“Parents and graduate students who use PLUS loans have no borrowing limit, but they face some of the highest interest rates in the federal student loan system.”
Carrie Healey: Obama’s Half-Sister Speaks On Human Trafficking, Peace Gardens
President Obama’s half-sister, peace advocate and educator, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng spoke today at the Center for American Progress on human trafficking.
Dr. Soetoro-Ng proposed the U.S. plant peace gardens, create “reflective spaces,” and practice yogo in an effort to bring peace to victims of trafficking.
“My brother’s administration is committed to addressing this issue,” she said in regards to Obama’s handling of the issue. ”But today I would like us to consider some grassroots, pro-active, preventative, and educational solutions.”
USA Today: Obama bus stops: Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton
President Obama’s two-day bus tour next week will start with three cities in Upstate New York: Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton.
The major topic will be college education.
Obama will “discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has access to a quality education by reducing costs and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The tour will be Aug. 22 and 23.
The bus tour – the latest in a series of middle-class speeches Obama has been delivering – will also include yet-to-be-determined stops in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Remember when a whole bunch of suckers from our side of the aisle got all gooey about Rand Paul, because Aqua Buddha and Aqua Buddha alone stood between us and a Hellfire missile fired up our keisters from a drone because we said mean things about the president? Well, in the days since, Aqua Buddha’s shown that he has more than a small sweet-tooth for the days when Freedom meant states could keep black people from eating in restaurants and, of course, voting:
“So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
….The suckers should be embarrassed to have lined up with this clown.
ThinkProgress: Three Republicans Who Opposed Sandy Relief Now Demand Disaster Aid For Arizona
Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding after SuperStorm Sandy ravaged much of the New Jersey and New York area earlier this year. Now, following an Arizona wildfire, the same trio is vocally complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not doing enough to aid their state.
Aug. 15, 2010 – Pete Souza: “Back in the Gulf Coast for a weekend, the President and First Lady toured St. Andrews Bay on a boat in Panama City Beach, Fla. I noticed their hands touching as they held the rail on the boat.”
Aug. 15, 2010: President Obama and daughter Sasha steer the “Bay Point Lady” during a tour of St. Andrews Bay off Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Barack Obama greets children from the Valleyland Kids summer program outside a school in Chatfield, Minn., during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama holds a baby as he arrives for lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama greets people outside the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Steve Benen: With just 10 days to go before brutal sequestration cuts kick in, President Obama has decided to use his bully pulpit, not just to frame the debate and show the way out of this latest manufactured crisis, but also to make his opponents look reckless and irresponsible …. The president had a fairly compelling pitch to present, which had the added benefit of being true….
…. For those who care about reality, the sequester really wasn’t Obama’s idea – it was part of the ransom paid to Republicans when GOP lawmakers held the nation hostage in 2011, threatening to crash the economy and trash the full faith and credit of the United States. Republicans took credit for the sequester and they voted for the sequester.
But as a practical matter, it doesn’t matter whose idea it was. There’s a looming threat to the nation and it kicks in next week. One side is focused on resolving the manufactured crisis with a bipartisan compromise; the other side is focused on how to win a public-relations battle, instead of focusing on fixing the problem they helped create…..
Bloomberg: In the spring of 1986, a grassroots organizer named Barack Obama was walking through a trash-strewn playground on Chicago’s South Side when the sound of gunshots pierced the air.
Obama ducked and glanced nervously at John Owens, an activist working for a local nonprofit, who was giving him a tour of the neighborhood’s parks. “He said: ‘You hear that? Whoa’,” Owens, recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘Well, he hasn’t been around here very long’.”
The president’s three-year stretch as a community organizer in an impoverished section of Chicago gave him a first-hand look at how gun violence affects a community. He’s now drawing upon that experience, and the solutions he saw then, as he crafts a second-term agenda in which gun control finally has political momentum after the Dec. 14 shootings at a Connecticut school…..
ThinkProgress: The Supreme Court’s election-buying decision in Citizens United v FEC enabled wealthy corporations to spend unlimited money to change the course of American elections, and a subsequent lower court decision gave the green light to super PACs funded by unlimited donations from millionaires, billionaires and corporations. Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced it would hear another case — brought by none other than the Republican National Committee — that would go even further towards transforming American democracy into the Wild West.
Washington Post: Since November, President Obama has been promising to do something about extremely long voting lines and other shameful Election Day lapses. Last week, he began to make good on his pledge, unveiling “a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America,” headed by Bob Bauer and Benjamin Ginsburg, the lawyers for Mr. Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns, respectively.
….. critics are already attacking the idea. Conservatives question why the federal government needs to get more involved with voting. Voting-rights activists wonder why the president needs a commission when he could champion any of the sensible reform proposals already sitting in Congress.
But the commission is a good idea, for at least two reasons.
Steve Benen: I suspect most folks have, at least once, accidentally mistaken satirical news for real news. But Spencer Ackerman’s report on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s misstep is a doozy.
On November 14, 2012, Mitch McConnell wrote to Elizabeth King, the Pentagon’s congressional liaison, with a an unusually credulous query. “I am writing on behalf of a constituent who has contacted me regarding Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” McConnell wrote in a letter acquired by Danger Room. “I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent’s concerns.”
…… the United States government is not providing GI Bill benefits to detainees at the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. What McConnell forwarded to the Pentagon was a satirical piece, published by a terrific online humor outlet. Picture The Onion with a sole focus on the military.
Raw Story: A Republican state representative in Alabama says that her bill to force new restrictions on abortion clinics is necessary because the fetus is “the largest organ in a body.”
…. “When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin declared. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
…. “My liver, heart, and skin are all very excited that we are now giving organs personhood rights, although the latter is slightly upset about losing out on its ‘largest organ in the human body’ rep,” Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker wrote on Monday.
Charles Pierce: ….. Scott Brown took to the local Fox affiliate to explain the bizarre episode in which he got into a Twittery wrangle that ended up with former senator McDreamy exclaiming, “Bqhatevwr!” .. which caused more than a few people to wonder whether or not he was a bit sockless at the time. His explanation for what happened is quite remarkable in its sub-plausibility….
….. I am not buying the pocket-tweet explanation if, for no other reason, than believing that whole colloquy was an accident would require you to believe that McDreamy was sliding down the back of a stegosaurus for that many accidental keystrokes to have occurred.