National Scene 5/27 – 6/1/09
By Linnie Frank Bailey
The Administration began the week addressing right-wing concern over his candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court – Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It is expected that Sotomayor will win confirmation in the Senate, despite the protests. In other news, the President commented on the bankruptcy of General Motors by assuring Americans a new, stronger GM will emerge. Still, dealers and autoworkers across the country are awaiting news of plant and dealership closings. Many African-Americans who work in the auto industry—from mechanics and assembly workers, to dealership owners—have been hard hit by the failure of Chrysler and General Motors.
This week the President heads to Egypt and Saudi Arabia for a major speech on mid-East peace, which will be watched closely by Israel and the Muslim world. “I want to use the occasion to deliver a broader message about how the United States can change for the better its relationship with the Muslim world,” Obama said of his Egypt speech. “That will require, I think, recognition on both the part of the United States as well as many majority Muslim countries ….a better sense of understanding, and I think possibilities to achieve common ground.”
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The President Visits Los Angeles for Fundraiser
Landing at LAX aboard Air Force One, the President made an evening visit to Southern California to speak at a fundraiser for the DNC held at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Obama made brief remarks to supporters who paid $1,000 to $2,500, and saw performances by Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind, & Fire. A dinner, hosted by Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, followed for donors who paid $15,000 and up.
Celebrating Solar Power in Nevada
Earlier in the day, President Obama visited Nellis Air Force Base, in Las Vegas, Nevada to highlight what he called “the largest solar electric plant of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere!” Using geothermal and solar energy, the plant is expected to save the United States Air Force (the largest consumer of energy in the federal government), nearly $1 million a year. Addressing Nevada Senator Harry Reid and other officials, Obama concluded, “This base serves as a shining example of what’s possible when we harness the power of clean, renewable energy to build a new, firmer foundation for economic growth.”
While in Nevada, the President also noted the 100th day since the passage of the Recovery Act, stating, “One hundred days ago, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in half a century, we passed the most sweeping economic recovery act in history -- a plan designed to save jobs, create new ones, and put money in people's pockets. It's a plan designed not only to revive the economy in the short term, but to rebuild the economy over the long term.”
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Palestinian President at the White House
Determined to negotiate a fair and lasting peace in the Middle East, President Obama pressed both sides for action. While meeting at the White House with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama told him, “The Palestinians must find a way to halt the incitement of anti-Israeli sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools, mosques and public arenas. All those things are impediments to peace.”
Speaking to the other side, Obama called on Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, stating it is part of Israel’s obligations to peace in the area. “I am confident that we can move this process forward,” Obama said after meeting with the Palestinian President.
Israel has signaled it does not intend to halt the construction of settlements in the West Bank; however, the President and Secretary of State Clinton will continue to press for action.
Friday, May 29, 2009
First Lady Visits Young Gardeners
Joined by White House Chef Sam Kass, First Lady Michelle Obama visited D.C.’s Bancroft Elementary School where she discussed the importance of nutritious eating and helped the students tend to their vegetable gardens. Students from the school have helped Mrs. Obama with the White House garden the past few months.
President to Name Cyber Czar
Signaling a new age, and the importance of technology to America’s security, President Obama announced he will name a new cyber czar to protect the country’s computer networks. The as-yet-unnamed person will report to the National Security Council as well as to the National Economic Council, and will only be responsible for government systems, not those of private industry.
Calling the appointment a “transformational moment” for the country, Obama discussed the challenges of monitoring the nation’s computer networks, which he says, are probed and attacked millions of times a day. “We’re not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country,” he said, calling cyber threats one of the most serious economic and military dangers the nation faces. The President stated that during the campaign season, his own databases were hacked but sensitive data was protected.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The President Addresses the End of an American Icon
Automobile manufacturer General Motors, thought to be one of the bedrock companies of American culture, filed for bankruptcy today, however the President assured us that the company would begin again. Stating that he and his economic team have “a credible plan that is full of promise,” Obama described the new investors in GM, which include the U.S. Government, Canada, and the United Autoworkers Union (UAW).
Stating that American taxpayers will own about 60% of GM, Obama explained, “we’re making these investments not because I want to spend the American people’s tax dollars, but because I want to protect them.” He went on to say the government has no intention to ‘run’ GM, but, “to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach, and get out quickly.”
The President has said repeatedly that it is “vital that the U.S. maintain an auto industry,” and that the action his Administration is taking “will bring about a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America's success.”