Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bad words

"The good news is that we are moving forward with a sense of urgency equal to the challenge."

These 17 words from President Obama today were the measure of "good news" in a sea of very bad news. Obama spoke these words in his weekly video address. After opening by saying- "This morning I'd like to talk about some good news and some bad news as we confront our economic crisis."- Obama delivered the bad news, 148 words of it.

"The bad news is well known to Americans across our country as we continue to struggle through unprecedented economic turmoil. Yesterday we learned that our economy shrank by nearly 4 percent from October through December. That decline was the largest in over a quarter century, and it underscores the seriousness of the economic crisis that my administration found when we took office.

Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Make no mistake, these are not just numbers. Behind every statistic there's a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can't afford care. Students can't keep pace with tuition. And workers don't know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.

Maybe this is a measure of times.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Task Force for the Middle Class

Today, President Obama announced that he has formed a task force to study the problems facing the middle class and workers in the United States. Vice President Biden will chair the committee. Biden laid out his vison for the task force in an op-ed that appeared in the USA Today. Signaling that the effort will look beyond tax reform, Biden will bring together a host of agencies from education, human services, and labor to develop new ideas and suggest policy initiatives.

Transcript of Obama's remarks announcing the task force

Voice of America reported the story as an effort to address concerns of not just the middle class, but also the poor

The president said poor Americans would not be forgotten, and that his administration wants to make sure they benefit from American prosperity as well, as long as they are willing to work for it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Today, with Treasury Secretary Geithner and Vice President Biden at his side, we heard Obama call out Wall Street executives who earned (er... paid themselves) bonuses at the end of 2008. Saying these bonuses were "the height of irresponsibility," Obama sounded his first populist chord- a refrain that might become more common in the days to come, but does not necessarily suit the president well. Even Obama's body language was populist.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Congress comes to the White House

The White House is illuminated as the sun sets on Jan. 28, 2009. (Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

As the mating ritual continues today, Obama hosted congressional leaders from both parties at a White House cocktail party. The list of those invited includes:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland)
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)
Representative Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
Sen. Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
Sen. John Cornyn (R.Texas)

This all just hours after all 177 republicans in the House voted against the bill.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama on Capital Hill

Senator Barack Obama arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan 22. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters). Via.

President Obama made a trip to Capital Hill today to lobby republicans for passage of his stimulus package.

Presidential trips to Capital Hill are too be sure rare, but for Obama perhaps will be a more common practice. This marks the second time in four days he has met with congressional groups.

A rare visit by George W Bush to Capital Hill in 2005

Gerald Ford made one of the higher profile visits to capital Hill in 1974 to testify before a House committee investigating his pardon of Richard Nixon.

The two sides side summarized the meeting.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people's business right now.

REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.: As grateful as we are for the president's spirit, as I told him personally, House Democrats have completely ignored the president's call for bipartisan cooperation.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Timothy Gietner

The Obama cabinet is almost complete today with the swearing in of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.

Obama's pick for Treasury Secretary used Turbo Tax- about 2 minutes into this video.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making the Sunday rounds

The Obama team made the rounds on Sunday morning talk shows. Vice president Biden appeared on Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer where he talked about foreign policy.

Watch CBS Videos Online

National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers showed up on Meet the Press with David Gregory.

Senator Chuck Summer held down the party line on the economy on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly video address

In his first weekly video address, President Obama talked about the recession and his plan for a relief plan.

Below is the Recovery Plan Metrics Report which accompanied the weekly video address.

The Obama administration promises to track expenditures on the recovery act online at

Friday, January 23, 2009

Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda

Today, Obama signed his fifth presidential memorandum reversing a rule that withheld aid for international organizations that promote or provide abortions. The order came one day after the 36 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling . Since assuming office three days ago, President Obama has signed five executive orders and five presidental memoranda.

Signing ceremony for executive orders on the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay

Current list of executive orders include action on Guantanamo (3), ethics, presidential records, and now abortion

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama on Palestine

There was much anticipation focused on the possibility that big change would come to U. S. position on the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. Obama delivered his first words on the topic today. The occasion was an appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to announce the appointments of former Senator George Mitchell and longtime diplomat Richard Holbrooke as special envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan/Pakistan, respectively. In this video clip, Obama weaves a position that might reposition the U.S. as a broker in the conflict

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama orders halt to Guantanamo prosecutions

In one of his first acts as president, Obama order the system for prosecuting detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention center be temporarily halted. The New York Times featured a multimedia presentation called the Guantanamo Docket as a companion to their news story today. The presentation went live in October, 2008, but carried a new relevance with today's action. This document is one of over 16,000 featured in the website. It concerns Yusef Abbas, a 28- or 29-year-old Chinese citizen captured near the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2001 and held in detention since.

CNN is also reporting that Obama will issue three executive orders tomorrow (Thurs) that will shut Guantanamo in one year, formally ban torture, and order a broad review of all detention policies.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day1 - The Inuaguration

I am posting on this first day of the presidency of Barack Obama. Millions gathered in Washington D. C. to witness the inauguration of the 41st president. History may well remember this day in images. The power of these images and thousands of others will likely resonant over decades.