Beltway Blurbs | Washington DC

News from the Obama administration and Capitol Hill.

Posted: 04/15/2009 11:49 AM EDT

The Week of Monday, April 13th, 2009

 

This week in Obama news…

On Easter Sunday the Obama family kept things traditional and worshipped at St. John’s Episcopal Church at the 11 a.m. service.  Nearly every president prior to Obama has worshipped at the church that conveniently sits right across the street from the White House. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cautioned that Obama's presence at a particular Easter Sunday service is not a signal about where he will attend church regularly. Obama has not attended a public church service in Washington since his visit to Nineteenth Street Baptist Church on the Sunday before his inauguration.

On Saturday, the Obamas attended their first dinner party away from the White House at the home of Valerie Jarrett. Daughters Malia and Sasha and what appeared to be three of their girlfriends accompanied the President and first lady. They had the girls back home by 11 that evening.

 

Great Eggspectations!

On Monday, April 13th, the President will attend the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Over 30,000 people from 45 states and the District of Columbia will attend this year’s event. The talent line-up for the 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll will include Fergie, Ziggy Marley, Jessica Jarrell, SteveSongs and Imagination Movers entertaining from the music stage. The D.C. Youth Orchestra, Greenbelt SITY Stars and other local student groups will also perform. The first lady is the official host of the White House Easter Egg Roll. Although many celebrities and costumed characters will attend the event, it cannot officially be called a ‘White House Easter Egg Roll’, until the Opening Ceremony is underway and the Easter Egg Bunny appears.

 

This year’s theme ‘Let’s go play,’ encourages America’s youth to lead healthy and active lives. Many of the activities at this year’s event will be webcast live on the White House website. These activities include the performances on the music stage, celebrity chefs in the Kid’s Kitchen and readings at the Storytime Stage. A full schedule of webcast events will be updated on www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll Monday morning. This is the first time the activities at the White House Easter Egg Roll have been broadcast online. In keeping with the theme of healthy and active living, all of the activities at this year’s event will teach children about the fun ways to exercise your body and your mind. 

 

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, James Cromwell, Josh Duhamel, Julie Foudy, Devon McTavish, Renee Brown, Ben Olsen, Dawn Staley, Derrick Dockery and Shaun Suisham will read on the Storytime Stage.

 

The President and Vice President will travel to the Department of Transportation to deliver remarks highlighting the transportation projects and infrastructure jobs created by the Recovery Act. Secretary LaHood will also attend.  In the afternoon, the President and Vice President will receive the Economic Daily Briefing in the Oval Office.  The President will then meet with senior staff in the Oval Office.  The President and the Vice President will also meet with Defense Secretary Gates in the Oval Office.

 

On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks at an event in DC. More details to come.  In the afternoon, he will welcome the World Series Championship Philadelphia Phillies to the White House.

 

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings and an event at the White House.

 

On Thursday, the President will attend an event at the White House and will then travel to Mexico City. Obama’s visit follows a flurry of high-level US visits south of the border in recent weeks, marking a shift in the U.S. position toward Mexico's drug cartel problem that implies shared responsibility, as violent Mexican gang activity is increasingly obvious in the United States. Just last month the President announced extra agents for the US border to tackle the spillover of cartel violence.

 

On Friday, the President will depart for Trinidad, where he will attend the Summit of Americas. The President will take part in discussions with the leaders at the Summit promoting a partnership based on mutual respect that will be beneficial to the people of the Americas.

 

He will return to DC on Sunday.

 

That’s my dog, that’s my dog!

It’s puppy love at the White House as the Obamas say, “Welcome home, Bo!” The latest addition to the family is an adorable little 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by Senator Ted Kennedy (he’s a big lover of the breed). The girls named him "Bo."  According to sources, Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley (as in Bo Diddley). In his hypoallergenic tuxedo-style black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee, he is already well dressed for White House social gatherings.

 

Six Degrees of Discrimination?

Arizona State University announced they would not grant President Obama an honorary degree when he addressed graduates May 13th. "His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency," a university spokeswoman told the Associated Press.  The university told the AP it has no plans to award any honorary degrees at next month's graduation festivities.  However, others who have been awarded honorary degrees from the school include actor Steve Allen; Jerry Colangelo, the chairman and CEO of the Phoenix Suns basketball team; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, an Arizona resident, after she served three years on the Court; Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) and one-term Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder (D).

 

In First Lady News…

America’s Top Model: Michelle Obama has added a full-time make-up artist to her traveling entourage. Makeup artist Ingrid Grimes-Miles, 49, helped create Obama's signature look on her inaugural trip to Europe last week. Now she will have a full-time gig keeping up the look.  Michelle Obama is the first first lady to fill such a position. The Obamas privately paid for the travel expenses of the styling team, according to a spokeswoman for the first lady. But the high-profile jobs don't pay much, say former White House stylists. "You do it because you know you will have some prestige and you will be able to make money later." Style watchers whisper that Grimes-Miles may be the genius behind Obama's most prominent beauty reinvention: her eyebrows. After the first lady drew criticism for looking angry, her high-arched eyebrows were reshaped with a softer arch that gave her a friendlier appearance.

 

Michelle Obama’s hair stylist, Johnny Wright, 31, a former LA-based stylist for Frederic Fekkai, relocated to the capital for his position in January. But he wasn't the first lady's first choice. Michael "Rahni" Flowers, 54, who has styled Mrs. Obama's locks since she was 18, said he couldn't relocate from Chicago. "I thought it was better to help train someone to manage her in DC," Flowers told The NY Post.

 

On The Hill…

Congress is in recess through Friday, April 17th.

 

Early Monday morning Somali insurgents fired mortar shells toward a plane carrying Congressman Donald Payne (D-MO) as he left the Somali capital on a rare visit. Payne flew into Mogadishu flanked by six bodyguards. Somali officials met him as he arrived on a small jet with the Somali foreign minister. The goal of Payne's visit, due to last just a few hours, was to discuss ways the international community could help the government, as well as to raise the issue of piracy. A police officer told reporters,“One mortar landed at the airport when Payne’s plane was due to fly and five others after he left and no one was hurt.”

His arrival occurred after President Barack Obama issued a standing order to use force against pirates holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage – including giving a Navy commander the authority to act if he believed the captain’s life was in danger. Navy snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge on Sunday shot and killed three of the pirates after the Bainbridge’s commander gave the order, when a pirate was spotted aboard the lifeboat pointing an AK-47 rifle at Capt. Phillips, who is now safe in Kenya waiting to fly home to his family.

 

The Jackson Five

Authorities have recently interviewed Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (also known as "Candidate Number 5") as part of the Blago investigation, and a congressional ethics panel has begun a probe of the congressman's actions in the days and weeks leading up to Blagojevich's arrest. Jackson has repeatedly insisted he has done nothing wrong and issued a statement Wednesday saying he is cooperating with the preliminary review by the Office of Congressional Ethics. He said he is "eager to answer any questions and provide any information to the OCE about my actions related to last year's vacant Senate seat."

From the Chicago Tribune:

Businessmen with ties to the ex-governor and Jackson met at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg in late October to discuss supporting a Jackson bid for the seat through fundraising. Those in attendance discussed raising as much as $1 million, sources have told the Tribune. The indictment alleges the former governor talked to his brother Robert, the head of his campaign fund, about contacting a Jackson associate to raise money for Blagojevich. Raghuveer Nayak, a major supporter of Blagojevich and Jackson, later sponsored a fundraiser for Blagojevich. Attendees said the fundraising event in Elmhurst, the Saturday before Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest, was intended to boost Jackson's chances with the governor. It was attended by Blagojevich as well as Jackson's brother, Jonathan, who was once in business with Nayak. Sources said Nayak is cooperating with the federal investigation. Former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris, who is cooperating in the investigation, has also been asked about the fundraising effort, sources said.

 

Gov. David Patterson: Where is the Love??

Where is the love? That’s what N.Y. Governor David Patterson is asking. But his Black constituents may be asking him that very same thing after a poll released last week shows that fewer than half of Black voters approve of how he is handling the job. Patterson is one of only two Black governors in the country; the other is Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

 

From the NYT:

It is a remarkable turnaround for a man whose ascension to the governor’s office just over a year ago set off a swell of pride and joy in black communities. ..The disappointment expressed by some black voters in interviews appears distinct from the more dominant critique of Mr. Paterson as ineffective and lacking in focus. They cited Mr. Paterson’s efforts to remake himself as a moderate, fiscally conservative politician, a break from his beginnings as a liberal Democrat and defender of social programs… In recent weeks, Mr. Paterson has spoken frequently at black churches, and as part of a broader media blitz is appearing more often on black and ethnic radio shows. Last Monday, he began an economic stimulus tour — a Santa Claus-like week spent announcing projects that will be paid for with federal stimulus aid — at a Harlem community center, where he announced $253 million in grants for low-cost housing.

To read the full article click here:

 

Futures

Wednesday, April 29th marks the 100th day of the Obama presidency.

 

The White House Correspondents Association Dinner will take place on Saturday, May 9th.  Wanda Sykes will be the featured entertainer.

 

Commencement…

President Barack Obama to Deliver Spring 2009 Commencement Addresses:

President Obama will serve as commencement speaker at Arizona State University (Wednesday, May 13, 2009), the University of Notre Dame (Sunday, May 17, 2009), and the United States Naval Academy (Friday, May 22, 2009). Arizona State University announced Saturday it would name the school's largest scholarship program for President Obama following a firestorm over whether the president would get an honorary degree.



First Lady Michelle Obama to Deliver Commencement Addresses:

First lady Michelle Obama will serve as commencement speaker at two graduations this year.  Mrs. Obama will give the commencement speech to high school graduates of Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter, in Washington D.C. (June 3, 2009). She will also deliver the commencement speech to University of California, Merced’s first full senior class (May 16, 2009) – the University opened in 2005. UC Merced students actively sought out the first lady as commencement speaker by writing letters to Mrs. Obama, her office, and her friends and family.

 

***DATE CHANGE---The Congressional Correspondent’s Dinner will now take place on Friday, June 19th. The date changed to accommodate the President’s schedule. 

The G8 Summit will be held in Italy in July.   The G8, grouping the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia, tackles global challenges from the economy to the environment.

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