First Lady Michelle Obama embraces President Barack Obama as he surprises her during the White House Kitchen Garden Fall Harvest
Pete Souza: President Obama talks with Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of “Let’s Move!”, and former Executive Director of “Let’s Move!” Sam Kass during the fall harvest in the White House Kitchen Garden
Friday afternoon announcements in Washington are usually aimed at attracting as little attention as possible, but last Friday was different. President Obama’s decision to nominate Eric Fanning — an openly gay man — to head a branch of the military which only four years ago did not allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, was both historic and attention-grabbing. And it underscored an often-overlooked feature of the Obama presidency: Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government. The Obama White House, by contrast, has established specific programs to boost diversity among appointees.
For the 1st time ever the majority of top exec branch posts aren't held by white men. Here's how @POTUS @vj44 did it wapo.st/1KsI5Xk
The Presidential Personnel Office targets historically black colleges and universities, as well as minority-serving institutions, as part of a new campus recruitment program. It has a liaison to identify candidates by working with leaders from underrepresented groups, including those who are LGBT or have disabilities. The impact of Obama’s diversity efforts could reverberate for decades in people such as Michael Blake, a son of Jamaican immigrants who was homeless as a child but worked on Obama’s two presidential campaigns and in the White House as associate director of public engagement. Last year, Blake won election to the New York State Assembly, with the help of a lot of other Obama alumni, including Marlon Marshall, who is now Hillary Rodham Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement. Blake’s campaign slogan was about his transformation: “No House to the White House.” Obama, Blake said, has helped create a new network of people of color now climbing the ranks of government. “He did that,” Blake said. “He grew that.”
Vice President Joe Biden listens to Annette Nance-Holt as she holds a photo of her son Blair, who was shot and killed while riding a bus from school in 2007, during a meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2013. The Vice President, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, met with representatives of victims’ groups and gun safety organizations as part of the Administration’s effort to develop policy proposals in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Colin Goddard, who was shot four times at Virginia Tech in 2007, is seated second from left. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Greg Sargent: … While it’s true that the NRA’s influence is often overstated, it’s also true that the NRA has a long history of skillfully mobilizing extreme constituent pressure on individual members of Congress at a moment’s notice, and making their lives pretty hellish in the process.
So what we very well may see here is something akin to rerun of the 2009 health care town hall wars, only about guns — perhaps an even more emotional issue. So groups like the new one started by Gabrielle Giffords won’t be important just in trying to match the NRA’s donations to Congress; they’ll also be critical in determining whether Congressional Dems will be given support and reinforcements when the NRA-fomented pressure starts in earnest.
…. All, in all, an epic battle lies ahead. Dems will need a lot of smarts, a lot of backbone, and a lot of outside support.
CNN: President Barack Obama is exploring executive orders to help prevent mass shootings in America, Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
“The president is going to act. Executive orders, executive action, can be taken,” Biden told reporters before meetings with groups representing survivors of mass shootings. “We haven’t decided what this is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members.”
Legislative action also is needed, Biden said. “I’m convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans, and take thousands of people out of harm’s way, if we act responsibly,” he said.
8:40: President Obama tours the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
9:45: PBO delivers remarks (WH Live, the Museum’s website and, maybe, CNN live streaming)
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:35: PBO presents the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team
Washington Post: President Obama will issue an executive order Monday that will allow U.S. officials for the first time to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, from cellphone tracking to Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses.
Social media and cellphone technology have been widely credited with helping democracy advocates organize against autocratic governments and better expose rights violations, most notably over the past year and a half in the Middle East and North Africa.
….. Obama’s executive order, which he will announce during a Monday speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is an acknowledgment of those dangers and of the need to adapt American national security policy to a world being remade rapidly by technology….
NYT: One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism.
“We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,” recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. “The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”
For Mr. Obama, that meeting was a turning point …. increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress ….. the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more.
Washington Post: Mitt Romney’s contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure is increasingly troubling. Whether it involves the details of his personal finances or the identity of his big fundraisers, the presumptive Republican is setting a new, low bar for transparency – one that does not augur well for how the Romney White House would conduct itself if he were elected.
First is the matter of tax returns. Mr. Romney’s campaign, belatedly and under pressure, released a single year’s worth of tax information in January along with a summary for the 2011 return. Now, with a Friday afternoon release conveniently timed for minimum news coverage a week ago, it announced that the candidate had filed for an extension….
…. Then there is the mystery of Mr. Romney’s bundlers… Bundlers play a crucial role for political candidates, collecting donations that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars to fuel campaigns. The candidates know full well to whom they are indebted. Perhaps Mr. Romney can explain why the public isn’t entitled to the same information.
Paul Krugman: Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? ….. the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right – but not in the way he intended.
….Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?
Yes, it does. Mr. Romney constantly talks about job losses under Mr. Obama. Yet all of the net job loss took place in the first few months of 2009, that is, before any of the new administration’s policies had time to take effect. So the Ohio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don’t remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall.
…. Mr. Romney wants you to forget that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the G.O.P. has blocked the administration’s efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough.
Howard Kurtz (Daily Beast): Forget liberal bias. A new study reveals that the press covered Romney twice as favorably as Obama during the primaries – and declared the GOP race over weeks ago.
During the bruising Republican primaries, there was one candidate whose coverage was more relentlessly negative than the rest. In fact, he did not enjoy a single week where positive treatment by the media outweighed the negative.
His name is Barack Obama.
That is among the findings of a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington nonprofit that examined 52 key newspaper, television, radio, and Web outlets.
U.S. soldiers begin their journey home from Iraq at the al-Asad Air Base, west of Baghdad, on November 1. President Barack Obama announced on Oct. 21 that American troops would fully withdraw from Iraq by year-end.
KTRK’s Dave Ward with Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the White House
The President was interviewed by these local channels today:
Portland – KGW, NBC, Tracy Barr
Phoenix – KSAZ, Fox, John Hook
Denver – KUSA, NBC, Adele Arakawa
Minneapolis – WCCO, CBS, Amelia Santaniello
Houston – KTRK, ABC, Dave Ward
Omaha – KETV, ABC, Rob McCartney
Tampa – WTVT, Fox, Mark Wilson
Hampton Roads – WAVY, NBC, Tom Schaad
Philadelphia – WPVI, ABC, Brian Taff
President Barack Obama signs a proclamation to designate Ft. Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia, a National Monument, in the Oval Office, November 1. The President was joined by, from left to right, Mayor Molly Ward, Hampton, VA, Secretary Ken Salazar, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Lacy Ward, Jr. Director, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Farmville, VA
From 2004 and 2006, posted by American Bridge on YouTube today:
February 2009: Vice President Joseph Biden shares a moment with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mother Dorothy Rodham during a ceremonial swearing-in for Sec. Clinton at the State Department
Asked about the death of Hillary Clinton’s mother today, President Obama called her “a strong, determined, gifted person”. “For her to have lived the life that she did and to see her daughter succeed in the pinnacle of public service in this country, I’m sure was deeply satisfying to her.”
President Obama speaks about the passing of Dorothy Rodham, November 1
Thanks Ladyhawke – PCTC just gets better and better, it’s completey brilliant
KGO: Scott Olsen, the 25-year-old Iraq war veteran who was injured by a projectile during Tuesday’s “Occupy Oakland” demonstration, remains in fair condition.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for Highland Hospital said Olsen … had been transferred to another undisclosed hospital.
The spokesperson also said documentary filmmaker Michael Moore tried to visit Olsen on Saturday. The hospital said the family has asked for Olsen’s privacy and asked Moore not to try to visit Olsen and the hospital again.
“We have a very, very polite message to Mr. Moore: Mr. Olsen is not here,” the hospital spokesperson said, “and if you do find out where he is, the Olsen family doesn’t want you to come there either.”
As BWD put it on Twitter, what a “disgusting opportunist” Moore is. What on earth made him think that the Olsen family would want him at Scott’s bedside? Especially after they had asked for privacy? Oh boy, I used to love Michael Moore….
ABC: Continuing his executive actions campaign, President Obama will sign a proclamation this afternoon to designate Fort Monroe a national monument.
“Fort Monroe has played a part in some of the darkest and some of the most heroic moments in American history. But today isn’t just about preserving a national landmark – it’s about helping to create jobs and grow the local economy. Steps like these won’t replace the bold action we need from Congress to get our economy moving and strengthen middle-class families, but they will make a difference,” Obama said in a written statement.
According to the White House, the preservation of Fort Monroe will help create nearly 3,000 jobs in Virginia …. Fort Monroe is integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. It was the place where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in 1619 and during the Civil War the fort became a place for escaped slaves to find refuge. In 1861, the fort was the site of Gen. Benjamin Butler’s “Contraband Decision,” which provided a pathway to freedom for thousands of slaves.
Think Progress: Mitt Romney, his son Tagg, and Romney’s chief fundraiser, Spencer Zwick, have extensive financial and political ties to three men who allegedly participated in an $8.5 billion Ponzi scheme. A few months after the Ponzi scheme collapsed, a firm financed by Mitt Romney and run by his son and chief fundraiser partnered with the three men and created a new “wealth management business” as a subsidiary.
First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
This is excellent:
GOPolitico: Anchors from nine local television affiliates will spend a day behind the scenes at the White House on Tuesday, meeting with top officials and getting brief individual interviews with President Obama before broadcasting evening newscasts from the South Lawn.
“Live from the White House” is a 21st-century update to the “radio row” tradition, which brought talk-show hosts to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to interview West Wing officials going from microphone to microphone during their drive-time shows.
The White House is building risers on the South Lawn for the evening newscasts, which are being spread out by time zones – three from the East, two from Central, one from Mountain and two from Pacific.
The anchors will get to ask White House press secretary Jay Carney a question during the daily press briefing; have lunch with senior adviser David Plouffe; interview a White House staffer from each station’s home market; get an on-camera tour with a White House curator; and tour the White House kitchen garden with Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and policy adviser.
The ringmaster is Josh Earnest, principal deputy White House press secretary, who said the mission is “to increase interest and raise the profile of the president’s efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs in local communities across the country, and explain to Americans how their communities will benefit from the president’s agenda.”
The stations and their anchors will be from Portland, Ore. (KGW, NBC, Tracy Barr); Phoenix (KSAZ, Fox, John Hook); Denver (KUSA, NBC, Adele Arakawa); Minneapolis (WCCO, CBS, Amelia Santaniello); Houston (KTRK, ABC, Dave Ward); Omaha (KETV, ABC, Rob McCartney); Tampa (WTVT, Fox, Mark Wilson); Hampton Roads (WAVY, NBC, Tom Schaad); and Philadelphia (WPVI, ABC, Brian Taff). A 10th participant will be Nikole Killion, representing Hearst stations.
“The highlight of the day will be an opportunity to briefly interview the President from the Cabinet Room about the American Jobs Act,” Earnest said. “The anchors will also interview Cabinet secretaries … about how the bipartisan proposals included in the president’s American Jobs Act would create jobs in their community and put money in the pocket of every single American worker and small business owner.”
Also tomorrow: The President has a ceremony at which he’ll sign a proclamation – which the White House will identify later tonight … discusses legislative strategy with House Democratic Leaders ….. welcomes the crew of the final space shuttle mission to the Oval Office ….. The First Lady holds a Let’s Move event for children In New Orleans and does fundraisers in New Orleans and Houston …. On Wednesday the President will push for $60 billion in new spending in an 11:25 am ET speech in front of the Key Bridge at Georgetown’s Waterfront Park in Washington, DC.
AP: President Barack Obama is in excellent health and tobacco free, his doctor said Monday in the results of the president’s second physical exam since taking office.
In the two-page report released by the White House, Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman also said Obama is physically active, eats a healthy diet, stays at a healthy weight, and on occasion drinks alcohol in moderation.
“The president is in excellent health and ‘fit for duty’,” Kuhlman wrote. “All clinical data indicate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.”
….. The president is 6-foot-1 and weighs 181.3 pounds, according to the report. His blood pressure was recorded at 107 over 71, up from 105 over 62 in February 2010, but still well within the normal range.
…. The president also has “periodic physical therapy” to deal with recurrent upper right back pain, and he had benign skin tags removed from his neck.
Eugene Robinson: Responding to his insurgent campaign’s first crisis, Herman Cain was upbeat and defiant. “To quote my chief of staff and all the people around this country, ‘Let Herman be Herman,’ ” he said Monday. “And Herman is gonna stay Herman.”
I was afraid of that.
Cain’s policy positions range from the ignorant to the unworkable to the just plain goofy – and yet he is running first or second in most polls for the Republican presidential nomination. He trumpets his utter lack of government experience as a selling point and boasts of not knowing foreign leaders’ names. If through some bizarre series of events he were actually elected president, the result would surely be an unmitigated disaster.
It’s not yet clear whether this remote possibility has been made even more unlikely by reports that Cain faced allegations of sexual harassment from two female employees when he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
…. He needs to answer more questions about the alleged harassment …. I hope he does, because we’re running out of bandwidth. Cain’s famous “9-9-9” tax plan would be ruinous. He wants to privatize Social Security. He believes that “extensive foreign policy experience” is not something a president needs, since when he was named chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, “I had never made a pizza – but I learned.”
So many reasons to oppose this loopy candidacy, so little time.
ThinkProgress: After canceling a speech on income inequality last week at the University of Pennsylvania after learning it would be open to the public, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke today at the University of Michigan. It was clear why he had avoided the public previously, as 99 Percent Movement protesters stood silently during the speech while other audience members responded vocally to Cantor’s statements.