A year ago …… July 16, 2012: President Obama kisses First Lady Michelle Obama for the “Kiss Cam” while attending the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team’s game against Brazil at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Today (All times Eastern):
10:0 Vice President Biden will swear in Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) as the freshman Massachusetts senator at the U.S. Capitol
11:0: President Obama is interviewed by Spanish language news anchors
12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney
On Thursday, the First Lady, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule, will visit Urban Alliance Chicago, a year-long career education and employment program for underserved high school seniors which enriches students’ lives through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring. The visit is part of the First Lady’s focus on youth empowerment and providing more opportunities for young people to achieve their full potential.
George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush present President Obama with a pair of socks, July 15 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: For three-and-a-half hours last night, nearly every member of the Senate met behind closed doors in the Old Senate Chamber to discuss a political crisis of sorts: whether the minority would continue to block President Obama’s executive-branch nominees and what the majority intended to do about it.
The meeting itself was rather odd. Senators already have a forum in which they can hold a debate — it’s called the Senate. But their usual chamber has cameras and public seating, and last night, for whatever reason, members wanted to debate in private for a candid conversation.
By all accounts, it was a constructive conversation, but there was no resolution. As I type, there are some back-channel talks underway, but barring a breakthrough, the Senate Democratic leadership intended to move forward with its “nuclear option” plans.
Eugene Robinson: Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night, with a verdict setting his killer free. Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent. This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have — but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid. Jurors knew that Zimmerman was an overeager would-be cop, a self-appointed guardian of the neighborhood who carried a loaded gun. They were told that he profiled Martin — young, black, hooded sweatshirt — as a criminal. They heard that he stalked Martin despite the advice of a 911 operator; that the stalking led to a confrontation; and that, in the confrontation, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the chest.
If anyone wonders why African Americans feel so passionately about this case, it’s because we know that our 17-year-old sons are boys, not men. It’s because we know their adolescent bravura is just that — an imitation of manhood, not the real thing. We know how frightened our sons would be, walking home alone on a rainy night and realizing they were being followed. We know how torn they would be between a child’s fear and a child’s immature idea of manly behavior. We know how they would struggle to decide the right course of action, flight or fight. And we know that a skinny boy armed only with candy, no matter how big and bad he tries to seem, does not pose a mortal threat to a healthy adult man who outweighs him by 50 pounds and has had martial arts training (even if the lessons were mostly a waste of money). We know that the boy may well have threatened the man’s pride but likely not his life. How many murders-by-sidewalk have you heard of recently? Or ever?
A Year Ago: First Lady Michelle Obama waits to greet President Barack Obama upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, June 14, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza)
11:30: The President hosts a Father’s Day Luncheon
12:30: Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest
2:45: The President welcomes the WNBA Champion Indiana Fever to the White House
The Guardian: Families of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, will mark the six-month anniversary of the tragedy on Friday by launching a nationwide bus tour designed to step up political pressure on the US senators who voted against the bill to toughen America’s gun laws.
Relatives of the 20 young children and six carers who were killed by a lone shooter on 14 December will begin the tour in Newtown under the banner “No More Names”. The campaign, launched by the national coalition to reduce gun violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, will last for 100 days and take in 25 states.
BooMan: …. when Bill Clinton compares the situation in Syria to the situation he faced in Kosovo, he’s making one of the stupidest statements that I have ever heard from him.
…. For Clinton to appear with John McCain and make comments like this is a perfect vindication of my total opposition to his wife’s candidacy for president. We cannot afford more leadership from people who think about American power in this way…..
This is what we gained when we won the presidency for Obama. A cool head.
President Obama talks with PM Tusk of Poland in the private residence of the White House, Sept. 17, 2009. NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is in the background (Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post: President Obama will name deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, a longtime trusted aide, as his new White House chief of staff Friday, officials said.
McDonough, 43, has spent the past two years as the No. 2 official in the National Security Council, helping guide some of the administration’s most high-profile decisions, including the military drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the response to earthquakes in Haiti and Japan and the aftermath of the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya last fall.
Obama considers McDonough one of his “closest and most trusted advisors for nearly a decade,” a White House official said.
11:0: V.P. Biden Speaks on the Administration’s Efforts to Reduce Gun Violence (Richmond, Virginia) – White House live (audio only), CNN
12:10: President Obama makes a personnel announcement
GOPolitico: The White House will also announce several other promotions Friday, including moving communications director Dan Pfeiffer to the job of senior adviser, and shifting deputy communications director Jennifer Palmieri into Pfeiffer’s old job. Pfeiffer’s move comes as David Plouffe, a longtime Obama political adviser, plans to leave the White House this month.
Other senior-level moves include:
Rob Nabors – Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy
Tony Blinken – Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor
Danielle Gray – Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
Katy Kale – Assistant to the President for Management and Administration
Lisa Monaco – Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (upon confirmation of John Brennan as DCIA)
Miguel Rodriguez –Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs
David Simas – Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor for Communications and Strategy
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give a joint interview at the White House on Friday afternoon to CBS News’ Steve Kroft, for broadcast Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
Steve Benen: We don’t yet know exactly why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave up on ambitious reforms of filibuster rules. After months of voicing support for sweeping changes, it’s possible Reid just didn’t have the votes from his own caucus to pursue bold reforms through the “constitutional option.”
Whatever the reasoning, however, it’s important that folks understand that when Reid says protecting the filibuster is necessary to keep the Senate from being like the House, he’s wrong…..
Greg Sargent: Now that the smoke has cleared from the wreckage of yesterday’s filibuster reform debacle, what’s next for those who want to fix our broken Senate? There is no denying that yesterday’s outcome was a terrible disappoint for those who still hold out hope for functional government. At the same time, there are some silver linings…..
President Obama attends a Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School, Dec. 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
NYT: The White House has decided to circumvent Capitol Hill as it concentrates its gun-control efforts on speeches and other public appearances by President Obama and Vice President Biden outside of Washington, according to officials with knowledge of the plans.
With Obama’s gun agenda dependent on centrist Democratic senators who are nervous about their reelection prospects, the administration has calculated that the president is better off helping to build a groundswell of popular support within the lawmakers’ states rather than negotiating directly with them, officials said.
NYT: The White House delivered a strong message to Wall Street on Thursday, taking the unusual step of choosing two former prosecutors as top financial regulators.
But translating that message into action will not be easy, given the complexities of the market and Wall Street’s aggressive nature.
At a short White House ceremony, President Obama named Mary Jo White, the first female United States attorney in Manhattan, to run the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Obama also renominated Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position he has held for the last year under a temporary recess appointment without Senate approval.
With the appointments, the president showed a renewed resolve to hold Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing, extolling his candidates’ records as prosecutors.
President Obama greets a local resident on Main Street in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Irish Examiner: The US President is to be immortalised in the birthplace of his ancestors with the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
Around €6m is being invested in the plaza by Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh, to commemorate the visit by the President and his wife Michelle in 2011.
It will also see the establishment of the Barack Obama Community Facility, where exhibitions of historic and current material marking the relationship between Moneygall and the United States will go on display.
This is the single biggest investment on the Offaly/Tipperary border region in decades and will bring 60 new jobs to the area, as well as 75 jobs during the construction phase.
Statement by the President on the Passing of Senator Daniel Inouye
Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye. The second-longest serving Senator in the history of the chamber, Danny represented the people of Hawaii in Congress from the moment they joined the Union. In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve. But it was his incredible bravery during World War II – including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor – that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Inouye family.
Ezra Klein: …. a “fiscal cliff” deal seems to be coming together … Boehner offered to let tax rates rise for income over $1 million. The White House wanted to let tax rates rise for income over $250,000. The compromise will likely be somewhere in between….
On the spending side, the Democrats’ headline concession will be accepting chained-CPI (see here), which is to say, accepting a cut to Social Security benefits…..
…. On stimulus, unemployment insurance will be extended, as will the refundable tax credits. Some amount of infrastructure spending is likely. Perversely, the payroll tax cut, one of the most stimulative policies in the fiscal cliff, will likely be allowed to lapse, which will deal a big blow to the economy…..
….. As is always the case, the negotiations could fall apart, or the deal could change. But right now, the participants sound upbeat….
Paul Krugman: It sounds as if Ezra Klein is hearing more or less the same things I’m hearing: Republicans willing to give up a lot more on tax rates, although not fully undoing the Bush tax cuts in the 250-400 range; additional tax hikes via deduction limits in a form that hits the wealthy, not the upper middle class; unemployment extension and infrastructure spending; but “chained CPI” for Social Security, which is a benefit cut.
… this contains stuff that Obama can’t get just by letting us go over the cliff: more revenue than he could get just from tax-cut expiration, unemployment and infrastructure too. But it has a cost, those benefit cuts.
Those cuts are a very bad thing, although there will supposedly be some protection for low-income seniors. But the cuts are not nearly as bad as raising the Medicare age….
…. we shouldn’t be doing benefit cuts at all; but if benefit cuts are the price of a deal that is better than no deal, much better that they involve the CPI adjustment than the retirement age….
President Barack Obama works with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Dec. 17. Standing, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Chief of Staff Jack Lew. (Photo by Pete Souza)
National Journal: Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.
Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
….. if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.
All three states have given the Democratic nominee their electoral votes in each of the last six presidential elections. Now, senior Republicans in Washington are overseeing legislation in all three states to end the winner-take-all system.
Charles Pierce: There is no longer any reason to believe that the Republican party has any intention of changing itself to adapt to a changing America. Every story you read to that effect is a lie. Every apparent attempt by the party to convince you that it is planning to do it is a fake. They are not planning on adapting to a changing country. What they’re planning is to change the system of presidential elections so that they never have to do so. I’m not sure it will work, but that hasn’t stopped them recently….
Jonathan Bernstein: There was a lot of chatter today about National Journal’s report that national Republicans are pushing a plan to…well, there’s no other way to say it: they’re pushing a plan to rig presidential elections.
…. Fortunately, it’s unlikely that it will happen. As I’ve argued, unlike the cases in which state Republican parties have tried to strip unions of resources or engaged in gerrymanders, the incentives on this one are at cross-purposes. What’s good for the national GOP would be quite bad for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and probably even worse for Republican legislators and governors in those states.
E.J. Dionne: …. There was a different quality to President Obama’s response to this mass shooting, both initially and during his Sunday pilgrimage to offer comfort to the families of victims. I think I know why. It is not just that 20 young children were killed, although that would be enough.
For some months now, there have been rumblings from the administration that Obama has been unhappy with his own policy passivity in responding to the earlier mass shootings and was prepared in his second term to propose tough steps to deal with our national madness on firearms.
He spoke in Newtown in solidarity with the suffering, but pointed toward action. No, he said, we are not “doing enough to keep our children, all our children, safe.” He added: “We will have to change.”
Charles Pierce: ….. Too many people make too much money on guns and ammo …. Profit is what gives the NRA its real power; it lobbies less for the rights of its membership than for the right of weapons manufacturers to make a pile….
…. You want to eliminate the guns? Take the profit out of them. Take the fight to the people who make the weapons, not to the people who sell them or the people who buy the politicians so that selling them will be easier….
…. Too much of our entire national economy is based on violence — physical violence, emotional violence, environmental violence, economic violence — and there is too much profit to be made out of the production of violence. You want the violence to stop, break the people who are getting rich off it. Break their fortunes and you can break their power. The money comes first. It always does.
NY Mag: At 7:58 p.m. on Saturday evening, gun control’s newest advocate took to Twitter to call for stricter firearm legislation. “Nice words from POTUS on shooting tragedy,” wrote News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, “but how about some bold leadership action?” Around the same time at Fox News, one of Roger Ailes’s deputies was sending a very different message.
According to sources, David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. “This network is not going there,” Clark wrote one producer on Saturday night….
Steve Benen: With gun legislation practically non-existent in recent years, it’s easy to forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), before he became his caucus’ leader, voted against the assault weapons ban. But in light of Friday’s violence, Reid is joining his Democratic colleagues in looking anew at possible changes.