Tuesday’s National Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela starts at 11 AM local time (4:0 AM US EST)
USA Today: Obama expected to speak at Mandela memorial
President Obama will make remarks on Nelson Mandela’s legacy during a memorial service Tuesday for the late South African freedom fighter, officials said Monday.
…. The president and first lady Michelle Obama departed Monday for Johannesburg, where a Mandela memorial service will be held in a soccer stadium.
Obama, who will also spend time with the Mandela family, is not scheduled to hold any bilateral meetings with foreign leaders while in South Africa, Rhodes said.
…. Former president George W. Bush and wife Laura are aboard Air Force One with Obama. So is former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but former president Bill Clinton is traveling separately. Former president Jimmy Carter will also attend the Mandela memorial in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Vice President Biden will speak Wednesday at a special memorial service for Mandela to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Steve Benen: USA Today had an item today on the IRS controversy, which seemed to reinforce much of what we already know: conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status faced unfair and unreasonable scrutiny. But deep in the article, in the 18th paragraph, USA Today added seven unexpected words: “Some liberal groups did get additional scrutiny.”
NPR: The Justice Department’s subpoena of Associated Press phone records as part of an investigation into what Attorney General Eric Holder has called “a very grave leak” to the news agency has set off a political firestorm on Capitol Hill, but there’s a lot to the AP story published a year ago that started it all.
….. as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports, there’s much more to the story:
“As we understood it then and still understand it, that suicide bomber that AP refers to in its story was actually a double agent working with western intelligence agencies,” Dina says.
Although the double-agent did hand the new underwear bomb technology to U.S. officials, “they had hoped the agent could do more [and] … one consequence of the story is that this agent’s identity was blown,” she says.
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
“I am pleased to announce that I will appoint Julia A. Pierson to be the next Director of the United States Secret Service. Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day.
….. Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own. Julia has had an exemplary career, and I know these experiences will guide her as she takes on this new challenge to lead the impressive men and women of this important agency.”