Posted tagged ‘Dana Perino’

Barack Obama Becomes Nation’s 44th President

January 20, 2009

A historical moment indeed this morning as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th President.

I’ll never forget where I was on the morning of Tuesday, January 20, 2009. I’ll be able to tell my children that I was a witness to history. Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the highest office in the land.

Now, its my hope that President Obama can step into office and begin to fix the many problems that we are seeing in the United States today.

Thoughts?

From the New York Times:

Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States Tuesday, and called on Americans to join him in confronting what he described as an economic crisis caused by greed but also “our collective failure to make hard choices.”

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address minutes after he took the oath of office on the same bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural in 1861. “They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”

Mr. Obama, the first African American to serve as president, spoke to a sea of cheering people, hundreds of thousands of Americans packed on the National Mall from the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument. The multitude was filled with black Americans and Mr. Obama’s triumph was a special and emotional moment for them.

With his wife, Michelle, holding the Bible, Mr. Obama, the 47-year-old son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Africa, was sworn in just after noon, a little later than planned, and spoke immediately thereafter.

In his speech, Mr. Obama promised to take “bold and swift” action to restore the economy by creating jobs through public works projects, improving education, promoting alternative energy and relying on new technology.

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” Mr. Obama said in a prepared copy of his remarks.

The new president also noted the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the “far-reaching network of violence and hatred” that seeks to harm the country. He used strong language in pledging to confront terrorism, nuclear proliferation and other threats from abroad, saying to the nation’s enemies, “you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

But he also signaled a clean break from some of the Bush administration’s policies on national security. “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” he said, adding that the United States is “ready to lead once more.”

He acknowledged that some are skeptical of his ability to fulfill the hope that many have in his ability to move the nation in a new direction.

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply,” said Mr. Obama, who ran for stressing a commitment to reduce partisanship. “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”

Hundreds of thousands of people packed the National Mall from the West Front of the Capitol to beyond the Washington monument, buttoned up against the freezing chill but projecting a palpable sense of hope as Mr. Obama becomes the first African American to hold the nation’s highest elected office. It was the largest inaugural crowd in decades, perhaps the largest ever; the throng and the anticipation began building even before the sun rose.

After his speech, following a carefully designed script that played out all morning, Mr. Obama was to head inside the Capitol and sign nomination papers for the Cabinet members he chose in the weeks following his Nov. 4 victory. The Senate is to confirm some of those new Cabinet secretaries this afternoon, but Republicans planned to delay the confirmation of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state for at least one day.

Mr. Obama, who attended church earlier in the day, had coffee with President Bush and his wife, Laura, and then rode with them in a motorcade to Capitol Hill, will then join Congressional leaders and other dignitaries at a luncheon in Statuary Hall. That will be followed by a review of the troops — his first as commander-in-chief — before he travels back downtown at the front of the inaugural parade, which he will then watch from the reviewing stand at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The crowd, before noon, was easily well into the hundreds of thousands.

From the Associated Press:

Braving frigid temperatures, an exuberant crowd of hundreds of thousands packed the National Mall on Tuesday to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as America’s first black president. He grasps the reins of power in a high-noon ceremony amid grave economic worries and high expectations.

It was the first change of administrations since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Crowds filled the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol for a glimpse of the proceedings and, in the words of many, simply “to be here.” Washington’s subway system was jammed and two downtown stations were closed when a woman was struck by a subway train.

Two years after beginning his improbable quest as a little-known, first-term Illinois senator with a foreign-sounding name, Obama moves into the Oval Office as the nation’s fourth youngest president, at 47, and the first African-American, a barrier-breaking achievement believed impossible by generations of minorities.

Around the world, Obama’s election electrified millions with the hope that America will be more embracing, more open to change.

The dawn of the new Democratic era — with Obama allies in charge of both houses of Congress — ends eight years of Republican control of the White House by George W. Bush. He leaves Washington as one of the nation’s most unpopular and divisive presidents, the architect of two unfinished wars and the man in charge at a time of economic calamity that swept away many Americans’ jobs, savings and homes.

Bush — following tradition — left a note for Obama in the top drawer of his desk in the Oval Office.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the theme of the message — which Bush wrote on Monday — was similar to what he has said since election night: that Obama is about to begin a “fabulous new chapter” in the United States, and that he wishes him well.

The unfinished business of the Bush administration thrusts an enormous burden onto the new administration, though polls show Americans are confident Obama is on track to succeed. He has cautioned that improvements will take time and that things will get worse before they get better.

Culminating four days of celebration, the nation’s 56th inauguration day began for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden with a traditional morning worship service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House. Bells pealed from the historic church’s tower as Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived five minutes behind schedule.

The festivities won’t end until well after midnight, with dancing and partying at 10 inaugural balls.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey Recovering After Collapse

November 21, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey is feeling better this morning after collapsing during a speech, a spokeswoman said, reporting that hospital medical tests showed no signs of a stroke or cardiac-related problem.

From the Associated Press:

Gina Talamona of the Justice Department told reporters the 67-year-old Mukasey, who had been rushed to George Washington University Hospital after the attack late Thursday, was still recovering Friday and had more tests scheduled as a precaution. She said he never transferred his authority as attorney general at any time during the incident.

“There’s no indication that he suffered a stroke or any heart-related incident,” Talamona said outside the hospital. “It really appears to be a fainting spell.”

A senior Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that an MRI was clear. The official was not authorized to publicly speak about Mukasey’s medical procedures.

President Bush telephoned the attorney general shortly before 7 a.m. EST to wish him a speedy recovery, press secretary Dana Perino said, describing Mukasey as “sounding well” and saying he was getting “excellent care.”

Talamona noted that Mukasey had had a very busy day before going to a Washington hotel to give the keynote speech to at a black-tie dinner of The Federalist Society, a conservative-oriented legal group. During the talk, he began to slur his words, nodded, turned and started to collapse when he was caught by men standing nearby.

His spokeswoman noted that he “works long days. It was a late night speech under hot lights.”

She said doctors were doing an additional round of routine tests.

Auto Makers Leave Congress Empty-Handed

November 20, 2008

Lawmakers deadlocked on a plan to bail out the Big Three automakers, leaving General Motors facing the prospect it could run out of cash before a new Congress can come to the rescue next year.

From Bloomberg:

Democratic congressional leaders disagreed with Republicans and President George W. Bush’s administration over how to provide $25 billion in aid to GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. Only two days remain in a lame-duck session for lawmakers to resurrect a compromise, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today Congress might return in December to complete its work.

“We are in a situation where we don’t know procedurally what we are going to be able to accomplish today,” the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor.

Reid earlier suggested the situation was dire and refused to set aside time today to debate a compromise proposed by Senator Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican. Reid said Bond’s plan hasn’t been put in writing and the House of Representatives is about to adjourn.

Bond and fellow Republican George Voinovich of Ohio insisted they weren’t giving up on their proposal to speed up and broaden access to $25 billion already approved for fuel-efficient vehicle development that was a compromise.

Nearly 1.2 Million Jobs Lost in the United States in 2008

November 7, 2008

Such a large number! The government reported more bad news about the economy early today, saying employers cut nearly 240,000 jobs in October. This brings the year’s total job losses to almost 1.2 million.

From CNN:

According to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, the unemployment rate rose to 6.5% from 6.1% in September and higher than economists’ forecast of 6.3%. It was the highest unemployment rate since March 1994.

“There is so much bad in this report that it is hard to find any silver lining,” said Morgan Keegan analyst Kevin Giddis.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 200,000 jobs in the month. October’s monthly job loss total was less than September’s revised loss of 284,000. Payroll cuts in August were revised up to 127,000, which means more than half of this year’s job losses have occurred in the last three months.

September had the largest monthly job loss total since November 2001, the last month of the previous recession and just two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

With 1,179,000 cuts, the economy has lost more than a million jobs in a year for the first time since 2001 – the last time the economy was in a recession. With most economic indicators signaling even more difficult times ahead, job losses will likely deepen and continue through at least the first half of 2009.

“It’s pretty clear that we’re in a recession,” said Robert Brusca, economist at FAO Economics. “There is reason for us to believe we’ll see a drumbeat of heavy job losses for a while, and there’s room for them to get even worse.”

Change Has Come To America…Barack Obama Elected President

November 5, 2008

This evening, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American elected to the highest office in the land. It was a truly historic night that and I know that I will always remember where I was on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. (PT).

As I sat on my bed with my one year old son and three year old daughter, I thought about how much this country has changed over the past 50 years. I told them that someday I would explain to them exactly why this was such an important day in history, although at this time, they are far too young to understand.

I spoke with my mom who grew up for some of her life down in the South. She saw segregation, she saw racism and she saw how unfairly people were treated. She told me that she never thought that she would see this day, but it was very emotional for her as well as for so many others in this country.

A triumphant Obama vowed in his speech this evening to be a President for all America, even those who voted against him. Heasked for patience to address the nation’s problems of war and finance that he called the greatest challenges of a lifetime.

From CNN:

Barack Obama told supporters that “change has come to America” as he claimed victory in a historic presidential election.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said in Chicago, Illinois, before an estimated crowd of up to 240,000 people.

With Obama’s projected win, he will become the first African-American to win the White House.

Obama had an overwhelming victory over Sen. John McCain, who pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.

McCain called Obama to congratulate him, and Obama told the Arizona senator he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together.

President Bush also called Obama to offer his congratulations.

Bush told Obama he was about to begin one of the great journeys of his life, and invited him to visit the White House as soon as it could be arranged, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Obama will be working with a heavily Democratic Congress. Democrats picked up Senate seats in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.

From the Associated Press:

The first black president-elect cast his election as a defining moment in the country’s 232-year history and a rebuke to cynicism, fear and doubt.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he said in his first public words after winning the election.

His victory speech was delivered before a multiracial crowd that city officials estimated at 240,000 people. Many cried and nodded their heads while he spoke, surrounded by clear bulletproof screens on his left and right.

He appeared on stage with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, poised to become the first family of color ever to occupy the White House. Every family member dressed in black and red, and Obama told his daughters during his speech that they would get the puppy he promised would come with a victory.

“Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” he said. “There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and, for us to lead, alliances to repair.”

He was already suggesting a second term to accomplish his goals, saying he expected “setbacks and false starts.”

“We may not get there in one year or even one term,” he said. “But America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there.”

To those who voted against him, he said, “I will be your president, too.”

Obama, an Illinois senator born 47 years ago of a white American mother and a black African father, sprinkled his address with references to the civil rights struggle. He paid tribute to Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106-year-old daughter of slaves born at a time when women and blacks couldn’t vote. She cast her ballot in Atlanta Tuesday, Obama said.

From MSNBC:

The election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States overwhelmed many African-American voters, especially older ones who still vividly recall the dark days of Jim Crow.

Obama won 95 percent support from black voters nationwide, according to msnbc.com’s analysis of exit polling data. One of them was Ellora Lyons, 81, of Peoria, Ill.

Lyons recounted boarding a train to Oklahoma with her two oldest boys in 1948. Her brother had been killed in an accident, and they were going to his funeral.

“There was a sign on this train that said, ‘n—–s to the back,’” she said. “And we couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain.”

“I remember my mom and my dad talking about black folks being not able to vote,” Lyons said. “I never thought that I would see a black man [in the White House], but I was hoping that one day that a black man would run for president.”

Leon Modeste of Community Outreach Ministry in Albany, Ga., said, “Never in my wildest dream did I think that an African-American would even be considered, let alone get this close to the presidency.

“I figured maybe my grandchildren or something,” would live to see it, but not him, Modeste said.

AIG Throws Another $86,000 Executive Party

October 17, 2008

AIG is back in the news yet again today for spending thousands of dollars on its executives, even as the New York-based insurer asked for an additional $37.8 billion loan from the Federal Reserve. This time instead of a spa treatment, a number of top executives attended an English hunting trip.

From the Associated Press:

The news comes as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday told the insurance giant to do away with golden parachutes for executives, golf outings and parties while taking government money to stay afloat.

Cuomo said he has the power under state business law to review and possibly rescind any inappropriate AIG spending as long as the Federal Reserve is propping up the huge insurer with almost $123 billion in loans announced since Sept. 16.

“This was an annual event for customers of the AIG property casualty insurance companies in the U.K. and Europe, and planned months before the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s loan to AIG,” company spokesman Peter Tulupman said Wednesday morning.

In a prepared statement later in the day, the company said, “We will continue to take all measures necessary to ensure that these activities cease immediately. AIG’s priority is to continue focusing on actions necessary to repay the Federal Reserve loan and emerge as a vital, ongoing business.”

AIG officials declined to say which AIG executives attended the trip, which reports have said racked up an $86,000 tab. News of the hunting trip surfaced just days after AIG received an additional $37.8 billion loan from the Federal Reserve, on top of a previous $85 billion emergency loan granted last month.

The company said last week it would stop “all non-essential conferences, meetings and activities that do not clearly maximize value and service given the current conditions.”

Last month, and just days after the U.S. government stepped in to save AIG with a $85 billion taxpayer-funded loan, the company picked up a $440,000 tab for a week-long retreat at a posh California resort for top-performing insurance agents.

Lawmakers investigating AIG’s meltdown said they were enraged that executives of AIG’s main U.S. life insurance subsidiary spent a lavish amount on the retreat, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings. Last week, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino called the event “despicable.”

Bush Considers Troop Cuts in Iraq

September 6, 2008

Yes, you heard that right. (Just before the election?) The top U.S. general in Iraq is recommending nearly 8,000 troop cuts in Iraq because of the improving situation there.

Joseph Barrak / AFP/Getty Images

Credit: Joseph Barrak / AFP/Getty Images

From CNN:

President Bush is considering Gen. David Petraeus’ recommendation, which the official said is for a reduction of “well over 7,500 personnel,” with the number including combat and support troops.

Some units would leave Iraq over the next five months as they complete their missions. But the first possible significant reduction — an army brigade combat team — would leave without replacement early next year, said the official, and that would free a brigade to be rotated to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.

Petraeus gave his recommendation to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who have passed it and other recommendations along to the president.

A reduction in U.S. troops in Iraq would free up personnel for deployment to Afghanistan, a move urged by many commanders. The Taliban has stepped up its fight in that country, posing a challenge for the 33,000 U.S. troops deployed there.

The White House will not comment on the details of the Iraq recommendations. Spokeswoman Dana Perino said only that Bush “has received the assessment and recommendation from the Pentagon and he is considering his options.”

From the Los Angeles Times:

Under the recommendation, the current level of about 140,000 troops would remain in Iraq through the end of Bush’s presidency in January. Then, a combat brigade of about 3,500 troops would be removed by February, a senior Pentagon official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the recommendation has not been made public.

The move would represent a compromise between Petraeus and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comprising the uniformed heads of the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The Joint Chiefs had hoped for a sharper cut — of up to 10,000 troops — by the end of the year. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, had pushed to keep 140,000 troops, or 15 combat brigades and support personnel, until next June.