Pool report: Presidential motorcade left a soggy South Lawn at 12:45 p.m. for shopping and lunch. Fourteen minutes later the motorcade arrived at Potomac Yards in Alexandria, where the President headed into the Pet Smart store. By the time the pool was allowed in a shirtsleeved POTUS was at a checkout counter with Bo, who appeared to be sizing up a small brown “standard poodle” named Cinnamon, according to the dog’s owner.
“Okay, Bo, don’t get too personal here,” POTUS admonished, holding tightly to Bo’s leash. He pulled out a $50 bill to pay for two items, one a large dog bone. Total was slightly more than $41.
After a quick stroll POTUS entered the nearby Best Buy at 1:10 p.m. “This (stop) for the girls now,” he said as he went in.
After a round of handshaking he headed straight to the Wii section, where he bought a Just Dance game for his daughters.
“The girls beat me every time on these dance games,” he said, “but you’ll never get a picture of me (playing) because I get graded F every time.”
He also bought a pair of $50 iTunes gift cards and an unidentified game. Tab came to 194.48. “Let’s see if my credit card still works,” he said. It did.
After more grip-and-grins outside, motorcade left at 1:21 p.m. Nine minutes later, POTUS arrived via side streets at intersection of East Del Ray and Mount Vernon to pick up some pies at the Del Ray Pizzeria. More handshakes, a little sports banter…
Pool ushered out. Minutes later POTUS emerged with three large pizzas. Then he worked the crowd on all four corners of the intersection plus a fifth cluster of squealing well-wishers a bit further down Del Ray.
Motorcade including Bo rolling at 1:48, arriving South Lawn 2:05 p.m.
President Obama and his dog Bo with a poodle named Cinnamon as they check out at PetSmart in Alexandria, Va. Obama bought the presidential pup a toy bone and a bag of food while Bo played in the store with Cinnamon.
President Barack Obama speaks with customers while picking up his pizza order at Del Ray Pizzeria in Alexandria after purchasing gifts
President Barack Obama greets people after stopping for pizza at Del Ray Pizzaria in Alexandria, Virginia
President Barack Obama shops for Christmas gifts at a Best Buy store on December 21, 2011 in Alexandria, Virginia
Steve Benen: ….. “It’s safe to say Speaker John Boehner does not agree with President Obama’s suggestion on Tuesday that Americans are better off now than they were when he took office. “Are you kidding me?!” Boehner said loudly in response to a reporter’s question on the comment.”
…. Obviously, national conditions aren’t close to where they need to be. …. Maybe, if guys like Boehner would start passing jobs bills and stop holding the economy back on purpose, the public would start to feel like the country is on the right track again.
But for those who take reality seriously, there’s no real question as to whether the country is better off now than in January 2009:
Then the nation was hemorrhaging jobs; now it’s gaining jobs.
Then the economy was shrinking; now the economy is growing.
Then the American automotive industry was on the verge of collapse; now it’s starting to thrive.
Then taxpayers were sending money to Wall Street; now taxpayers are being paid back.
Then Osama bin Laden was targeting Americans and our allies; now he’s dead and al Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated.
Then U.S. troops were headed into the Middle East in greater numbers; now they’re headed home with their heads held high.
Republicans, including John Boehner, drove the United States into a pretty deep ditch during the Bush/Cheney era, and conditions are still pretty ugly. That doesn’t change the simple fact that the nation is much stronger now than the day the president was inaugurated ….
AP: A third former employee considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain over what she deemed aggressive and unwanted behavior when she and Cain, now a Republican presidential candidate, worked together during the late 1990s, the woman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. She said the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.
The woman said he made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against Cain, who was then the head of the National Restaurant Association.
Washington Post: Car buyers were out in force in October, snapping up trucks and SUVs and taking advantage of deals on Japanese cars.
U.S. car and truck sales were expected to top 1 million in October, a surprising number for a month when sales are usually slow. When adjusted for seasonal factors, that would be the best pace since the Cash for Clunkers program in August 2009.
Mediaite: In a Quinnipiac poll taken Oct. 25-31, embattled GOP juggernaut Herman Cain continued to show amazing staying power …. (but) The real news from this poll, taken before most of the fallout from Politico‘s alleged sexual harassment expose, might be that some rays of sunshine are finally hitting President Obama.
….. President Obama gained six points on his approval rating … and is now beating all Republican challengers by margins of 5-16 points. The President has seen steady progress in the polls since rolling out his American Jobs Act in September, taking it on the road, and taking the fight to the Republicans who oppose it.
Elsewhere in the poll, Democrats opened up a lead on the generic House ballot, beating Republicans 42-36, after tying them at 39 in October.
AP: Michelle Obama has presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs, including for at-risk kids.
The programs use dance, theater, writing, music, history and other art mediums to inspire teen moms and other young people and help them reach their potential. The first lady said at a White House ceremony Wednesday that the programs show that the arts are a lifeline – not a luxury – for many of these kids.
Most of the participants graduate from high school or earn a GED and go on to college.
The 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are presented on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.
Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak tips his Detroit Tigers baseball hat
President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant in Lake Orion, Michigan
President Obama is seen through a window backstage at the General Motors Lake Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Mich., Oct. 14. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama returns a salute as he gets off Air Force One at Air Force Base after a day trip to Michigan
AP: U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.
They spent more on autos, clothing and furniture last month to boost retail sales 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the largest gain in seven months.
Auto sales rose 3.6 percent to drive the overall increase. Still, excluding that category, sales gained a solid 0.6 percent.
The government also revised the August figures to show a 0.3 percent increase, up from its initial report of no gain.
Stocks rose after the release of the report, which is the government’s first look at consumer spending each month. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 87 points in afternoon trading. Broader indexes also rose.
A separate Commerce report showed that businesses added to their stockpiles for a 20th consecutive month in August while sales rose for a third straight month. The increase suggests businesses were confident enough in the economy to keep stocking their shelves.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood feigns being a blocking back for President Barack Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders, January 2010
AP: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama’s administration, accused GOP House members Friday of putting their hope for the president to fail ahead of working toward solving the nation’s problems.
Responding to a question about why it was so difficult to get big infrastructure projects built right now, LaHood told a transportation conference that “some people don’t want Obama to be successful.”
“A big percentage of the Republicans that were elected this time came here to do zero, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said. Those lawmakers, he said, have obstructed other people who are trying to get things done.
…. “Here we are almost 12 months from the election and there are some people in Congress – look there are probably 40 people, 40 Republicans, elected to the House to come here to do nothing,” Lahood said. “That’s why they felt they were elected.”
…. “When I was elected in `94 we had a very reform-minded class, 82 new people, but they came here to do something, to solve problems,” he said. “Almost always in the past when people have run for Congress, they ran for Congress on the opportunity to help solve the problems of America.”
Paul Krugman: Reading the transcript of Tuesday’s Republican debate on the economy is, for anyone who has actually been following economic events these past few years, like falling down a rabbit hole. Suddenly, you find yourself in a fantasy world where nothing looks or behaves the way it does in real life.
And since economic policy has to deal with the world we live in, not the fantasy world of the G.O.P.’s imagination, the prospect that one of these people may well be our next president is, frankly, terrifying.
…. the G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself. During the debate, the hosts played a clip of Ronald Reagan calling for increased revenue; today, no politician hoping to get anywhere in Reagan’s party would dare say such a thing.
It’s a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it’s much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes — and which may soon control the whole government.
Greg Sargent: By now you may have heard about that 78-year-old grandmother who is fully against Ohio’s new push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees – but who had her words brazenly torn out of context and put into an ad advocating for the measure.
The tale has gone national. And now the story is about to get even bigger: The grandma is set to appear in a pro-union ad denouncing the anti-union forces as “desperate” for stealing her words. This will likely earn much more attention to a fight which is now being viewed nationally as yet another major referendum on whether the right will succeed in breaking labor in the industrial heartland.
Could this blunder by the anti-union forces be decisive? Labor hopes so….
Washington Post: As a result of stimulus spending and increased funding through the 2010 health-care law, the number of clinicians participating in a federal program to expand access to care in under-served communities has nearly tripled in the past three years.
About 10,000 doctors, nurses and other providers now participate in the National Health Service Corps, the highest number since the program was established in 1972….Officials estimated that the corps is serving about 10.5 million patients.