President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama react to daughter Sasha’s hole in one while playing miniature golf at Pirate’s Island Golf in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama casts his line while fishing for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama, center, and his fishing party head for the water during his first fly fishing outing near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and local fishing guide Dan Vermillion fish for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug.14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
Local fishing guide Dan Vermillion reacts as President Barack Obama almost hooks a trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, regarding a statement on Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, in Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Aug. 14, 2014. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. listens, at right. At left, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice talks with Anita Breckenridge, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. Photo by Pete Souza)
LIVE NOW: Secretary of State John Kerry Speaks at the Opening Ceremony for U.S. Embassy Havana
But Obama’s primary message was one of certainty. “Of all the foreign policy issues that I’ve addressed since I’ve been president,” he said, “I’ve never been more certain that this is sound policy, that it’s the right thing to do for the United States, that it’s the right thing to do for our allies.” In terms of decisions I make, I do think that I have a better sense of how military action can result in unintended consequences. And I am confirmed in my belief that much of the time, we are making judgments based on percentages, and no decision we make in foreign policy — or for that matter, any policy — is completely without hair on it, which is how we kind of describe it. I mean, there are always going to be some complications. But that’s why, when I say that this to me is not a close call, I say that based on having made a lot of tough calls. So if you look at Libya, I was deeply concerned about what would happen after [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi was gone.
I was deeply concerned about the ability of some of our European partners who were forward-leaning on that issue to sustain their efforts. We organized the campaign in such a way that I could guarantee they had to step up, and it wasn’t just riding on our coattails to get it done, and that there was broad international support. And to this day, I would say that, had we not gone after Gadhafi, you’d have some version of what happened in Syria in Libya, because he had already lost control of big chunks of the country. But even factoring all that stuff in, Libya is still a mess right now. And so maybe at the same time as I’m more confident today, I’m also more humble. And that’s part of the reason why when I see a situation like this one, where we can achieve an objective with a unified world behind us, and we preserve our hedge against it not working out, I think it would be foolish — even tragic — for us to pass up on that opportunity.
President Barack Obama addresses a town hall meeting on health care insurance reform inside a hangar at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama confers with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., right, regarding a statement on Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, in Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., August 14, 2014. Anita Breckenridge, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, stands in the background at left. Photo by Pete Souza
Members of the audience listen as President Barack Obama addresses a town hall meeting on health care insurance reform inside a hangar at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
A young girl in the audience as President Barack Obama addresses a town hall meeting on health care insurance reform inside a hangar at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama points to a questioner during a town hall meeting on health care insurance reform inside a hangar at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Samantha Appleton
President Barack Obama works a rope line following after his town hall on health care insurance reform inside a hangar at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama meets with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer following a town hall meeting on health care insurance reform in Belgrade, Montana, on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
On This Day: President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with Zachary Atala, son of Dr. Anthony Atala, M.D., Director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, June 5, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times US Eastern)
3:25 AM: The President arrives at the European Council for the 2014 G-7 Summit, Brussels
3:40 AM: Participates in a G-7 meeting on the global economy
6:0 AM: Takes part in a working lunch with G-7 leaders on development
8:30 AM: Participates in a bilateral meeting with PM David Cameron of the United Kingdom
9:50 AM: Holds a joint press conference with PM Cameron
11:05 AM: Departs Brussels, Belgium
11:55 AM: Arrives Paris, France
1:05 PM: Joins President François Hollande for a dinner
Barack Black Eagle: ‘One Who Helps People Throughout The Land’
Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana—an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream. Next week, I’ll return to Indian country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, North Dakota. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian country. As president, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs—to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it.
President Barack Obama with his adoptive parents, Hartford and Mary Black Eagle
Together, we’ve strengthened justice and tribal sovereignty. We reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, giving tribes the power to prosecute people who commit domestic violence in Indian country, whether they’re Native American or not. I signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, which strengthened the power of tribal courts to hand down appropriate criminal sentences. And I signed changes to the Stafford Act to let tribes directly request disaster assistance, because when disasters strike, you shouldn’t have to wait for a middleman to get the help you need. Together, we’ve resolved longstanding disputes. We settled a discrimination suit by Native American farmers and ranchers, and we’ve taken steps to make sure that all federal farm loan programs are fair to Native Americans from now on. And I signed into law the Claims Resolution Act, which included the historic Cobell settlement, making right years of neglect by the Department of the Interior and leading to the establishment of the Land Buy-Back Program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them to tribal trust lands.
Together, we’ve increased Native Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. One of the reasons I fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act is that it permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to many in tribal communities. And under the Affordable Care Act, Native Americans across the country now have access to comprehensive, affordable coverage, some for the first time. Together, we’ve worked to expand opportunity. My Administration has built roads and high-speed internet to connect tribal communities to the broader economy. We’ve made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities. We’ve tripled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands, creating jobs and helping the United States become more energy independent. And we’re working with tribes to get more renewable energy projects up and running, so tribal lands can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with it. We can be proud of the progress we’ve made together. But we need to do more
Maya Rhodan: Obama Administration Sees Undocumented Children Immigrants As Humanitarian Issue
The Obama Administration announced a shift Monday in its approach to children who enter the U.S. illegally and without adult guardians, forming a new interagency group that will address the influx as a humanitarian crisis. Administration officials said Monday that there has been a 90% increase in the number of undocumented immigrants under 18 entering the U.S., with more young girls and children under 13 entering the country than ever before. Because of this the administration wants to ensure that kids are quickly transferred from border control facilities to facilities operated by the Department of Health and Human Services that can better address their housing, educational, and medical needs.
Officials said about 1,000 undocumented children are being housed at a facility on the Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, where Baptist Children’s Family Services has been contracted to look after them. Another facility will be opening soon in Ventura County, Calif., and is expected to be able to house about 600 children. The kids typically stay in the facilities for between 30 and 45 days. The Obama Administration also requested an additional $1.4 billion to provide relief for unaccompanied immigrant children. Due to the increase in kids illegally crossing the border alone—expected to reach as high 60,000 this year—the government expects it will cost $2.28 billion to fund the programs that aid unaccompanied minors, the Associated Press reports. The bulk of children crossing the border have fled violence and economic hardship in Central American countries including Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras
Jeffrey Young: How Obamacare Tries To Makes Us Healthier, One Community At A Time
President Barack Obama’s health care reform law will spend more than $1 trillion over the next decade to extend health coverage to millions of people — and about $20 billion actually trying to make us healthier. The money supporting these initiatives is tucked inside the Affordable Care Act in the form of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a pot of money to finance efforts in hundreds of communities to curtail obesity, promote exercise and better nutrition, and reduce tobacco use. Improving the health of Americans and reducing preventable deaths wouldn’t just benefit those individuals. Better health could prove key to reversing decades of skyrocketing health care spending. And the prevention fund is Obamacare’s primary means of making inroads on these problems, one community at a time.
Up to 40 percent of deaths each year from the five leading causes in America — heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and unintentional injuries — are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May. In San Diego County, California, the local government and the Chula Vista Elementary School District used federal grants to make an immediate impact on students’ weight, said Nick Macchione, the director of the county Health and Human Services Agency. Using some of the $8.2 million the county received from the prevention fund, the health agency and the school started making changes, Macchione said. The cafeteria started offering healthier food and local farmers visited to talk about agriculture and provide fresh produce. Math teachers incorporated physical activity into counting lessons. And students and parents received information about nutrition and exercise.
Two years later, Chula Vista schools already could boast gains: a 3.2 percent reduction in the share of students who were obese or overweight. The county has since started spreading this program to 300 schools serving 650,000 children, Macchione said. Programs in Indiana also focused on children brought home the challenges faced by those working to address health in their communities, said Andrea Hays, the project director overseeing the $3 million in Community Transformation Grants managed by the Healthy Communities Partnership of Southwest Indiana in Evansville.
Yahoo: US Construction Spending Up 0.2 Percent In April
U.S. construction spending posted modest gains in April, driven by an uptick in home building and government construction that lifted total activity to the highest level in five years. Construction spending rose 0.2 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $953.5 billion, the strongest performance since March 2009, the Commerce Department said Monday. The April increase was lower than economists had expected. But the government revised March activity higher to a 0.6 percent gain, up from an initial estimate of a 0.2 percent increase. The small April improvement, combined with the strong gain in March, suggest that the construction industry is recovering from the harsh winter and will provide a boost to growth in the months ahead.
“This was mostly a good report,” IHS Global Insight economists Stephanie Karol and Patrick Newport said in an analyst note. “Core construction, the piece of the report which affects GDP, advanced 0.6 percent, the largest gain since December.” The April figure marked the third straight increase after the weather pushed spending down 0.4 percent in January. Total construction spending is 8.6 percent higher than a year ago, led by a 17.2 percent increase in housing construction. Non-residential construction is up by 5.6 percent from a year ago, while government projects are just 1.2 percent higher.
Greg Sargent: On Bowe Bergdahl, White House Bets On GOP overreach
The signs are everywhere this morning that the skirmishing over the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap is set to escalate into a protracted political battle that could go on for weeks or months. And the White House is placing its bet on Da Crazy. That is to say, White House officials are bracing for months of assaults on Obama’s handling of the swap, but they believe the Conservative Entertainment Complex will veer into over the top attacks that will alienate the broader public, which won’t see the basics of the situation in such lurid terms.
How this plays out could center on a video of Bergdahl in captivity taken by the Taliban in December. It was shown to Senators last night, to persuade them officials were right to worry that his deteriorating health meant fast action — without a 30-day notification of Congress — was imperative. A senior administration official tells me the White House is reviewing the possibility of releasing the video to the public. Obama aides say they’re not worried about the prospect of weeks of segments on Fox News or hearings by a Republican House that has spent four years investigating and rebuffing the White House on issues like Solyndra and Fast and Furious.
For whatever reason, video of President Obama apparently working out in the gym of the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland has leaked. He’s in the country to reaffirm U.S. support for central and eastern European countries against Russia. Photos and video were first posted by Jean Ekwa on his Facebook page, which depict Obama, clad in a dark blue track suit, headphones in, lifting weights, doing lunges, and using the elliptical. At one point, he pauses to yawn.
The Secret Service confirmed to The Hill that the video is real, and that other hotel guests taking photos and videos of his workout is not a problem: “Hotel guests were not asked to leave the gym during this off the record movement, nor were they asked to refrain from taking pictures,” agency spokesman Ed Donovan said. The Hill also notes that these “off the record” excursions usually involve impromptu photo-ops with voters/citizens of countries he is visiting
Ninety-five-year-old Charles Edwards shakes hands with Sen. Obama after presenting him with a hand-made walking stick during a town hall meeting at Virginia High School June 5, 2008 in Bristol, Virginia
President Obama poses for photos before departing from Ramstein Airbase in Germany, June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama visits with Wounded Warriors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany of June 5, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama attends an expanded bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Dresden Castle, June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and White House staffers aboard Air Force One to Paris look at Reggie Love’s photos of Egypt on June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs a guestbook before touring Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bertrand Herz, places a rose on a memorial plaque during a visit to the former Buchenwald concentration camp June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama places a flower in the crematorium at Buchenwald concentration camp, June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama stops to shake hands with military families outside Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gets ready to be interviewed by news reporter Tom Brokaw at Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany, June 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, June 5, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama shake hands with guests during an event for political appointees on the South Lawn of the White House, June 5, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago, Ill., in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, June 5, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama talks with, from left: Samantha Power, former Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; and Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the Oval Office, June 5, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Students from William R. Harper High School in Chicago, Ill., listen as President Obama talks with them about the Emancipation Proclamation hanging in the Oval Office, June 5, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama with his National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, June 5, 2013
A year ago: A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama prior to a Faith and Community Groups Leading the Way event at Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., Feb. 11, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
12:30: VP Biden holds a roundtable discussion on gun safety with law enforcement officials in Philadelphia
1:45: President Obama will present Clint Romesha with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony
2:0: Senate lawmakers will debate and vote on re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act
On Thursday at 4:30 ET: “Fireside Hangout” with President Obama
23 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released from prison having been locked up for 27 years by a racist state
NYT: President Obama will use his State of the Union speech to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives – drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world – after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third.
…… White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000. Currently there are about 1,700, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.
But Mr. Obama, according to an official who was involved in the deliberations, “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions – and save a lot of money – without compromising American security in the second term. And the Joint Chiefs have signed off on that concept.”
Washington Post: President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues.
TPM: The Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization early this week, with a final vote expected Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
…. Despite the unusually large Senate consensus, there has been no perceptible movement among House Republican leaders since they passed a scaled-back version of VAWA on a party-line vote last year, rejecting the Senate legislation.
In an exchange on the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) needled Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on VAWA….. Cantor responded that it’s a “priority” for Republicans to “move and act on this bill”….
…. By the end of the week, House Republican leaders had no progress to speak of. “Silence,” said a senior House Democratic aide.
NYT Editorial: If you’d like to know why Republicans are trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a look at three things the agency has already accomplished in its first 18 months:
* It called a halt to predatory practices by mortgage lenders, ensuring that borrowers are not saddled with loans they can’t afford and preventing brokers from earning higher commissions for higher interest rates.
* It won an $85 million settlement from American Express, which it accused of deceptive and discriminatory marketing and billing practices.
* It opened an investigation into questionable marketing practices by banks and credit card companies on college campuses, which often take place after undisclosed financial arrangements are made with universities….
Paul Krugman: Last week Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, gave what his office told us would be a major policy speech. And we should be grateful for the heads-up about the speech’s majorness. Otherwise, a read of the speech might have suggested that he was offering nothing more than a meager, warmed-over selection of stale ideas.
To be sure, Mr. Cantor tried to sound interested in serious policy discussion. But he didn’t succeed – and that was no accident. For these days his party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions. And no, that’s not a caricature: Last year the Texas G.O.P. explicitly condemned efforts to teach “critical thinking skills,” because, it said, such efforts “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
NYT: (Missoula, Mont) This funky college town …. has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues.
…. these students, and dozens of other young people interviewed here last week, give voice to a trend that is surprising pollsters and jangling the nerves of Republicans. On a central philosophical question of the day – the size and scope of the federal government – a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force….
…. Here in Montana, a state that backed John McCain in 2008 and Mr. Romney last year, voters under 30 have helped elect two Democratic senators and a new Democratic governor. Nationally, young voters have since 2004 been casting their ballots for Democrats by far wider margins than previous young generations – a shift that could reshape American politics for decades.
Later in the article, the GOP response to young voters in Montanta helping elect Gov Steve Bullock and re-elect Sen Jon Tester (“Both times, polls stayed open hours past their official closing time to accommodate huge lines of students. Both times, Forward Montana ran huge voter registration drives”)?
They are “now trying to undo a Montana law that permits voters to register on Election Day”.
ThinkProgress: Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, will be Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday.
NYT: Gabrielle Giffords looked slightly stricken as she considered the question: Would she feel bad about starring in a political advertisement against her former House colleagues who declined to stand with her on guns? “Yes,” she said, it would be painful.
“Sometimes you have to do things that are hard,” said Mark E. Kelly, Ms. Giffords’s husband, as she tucked herself close to him on their couch. Ms. Giffords nodded, as she often does when Mr. Kelly — as he often does — intuits the many thoughts she is still unable to express fully. “Really hard,” she added.
Ms. Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, a gun owner, an astronaut’s wife, a shooting survivor and an incipient gun-control advocate, is settling into the third act of her public life.
ThinkProgress: The NRA is a big spender when it comes to lobbying and campaigns. ThinkProgress investigated the NRA’s contributions to Members of Congress and — lo and behold — the most heavily NRA-backed congressman are leading the charge against new gun violence prevention measures.