First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Roxanna Green as she enters the House Chamber prior the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. John and Roxanna Green are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Washington Post: First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest list for tonight’s State of the Union includes a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School, a police officer who responded to the massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the parents of a girl killed by gunfire in Chicago earlier this month.
The assembled guests make clear that the White House will emphasize gun violence with tonight’s speech. But there are also nods to technological innovation — Apple CEO Tim Cook will sit with Obama, as will the winner of this year’s Intel Science Fair and a member of NASA’s Mars rover team.
The presence of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) is a nod to Medicaid reform. An Affordable Care Act advocate will also be in the box, as will an undocumented student whose deportation was deferred by an Obama executive order last year.
The full list:
Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA), Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement Team
Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV), DREAM Student
Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD), Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK), Early Childhood Educator
Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI), Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company
Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC), Wounded Warrior
Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA), CEO of Apple
Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL)
Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ), Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center
Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA), Flight Director, Mars Curiosity Rover
Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY), Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply
Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA), Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition
Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO), Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage
Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR)
Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ)
Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS), Pay Discrimination Victim
Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA), Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program
Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI), The first police officer to arrive at the scene of the tragic Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last August.
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.”