Tales from the Trail

Obama chides media for healthcare impatience

USA-HEALTH/ President Barack Obama, whom critics often complain gets an easy ride from the so-called liberal media, has pointed the finger of blame at the press for holding him to unrealistic expectations about the benefits of his milestone legislation.

“Every single day since I signed the reform law there’s been another headline that says ‘Nation’s still divided on healthcare reform’, ‘Polls haven’t changed yet.’ Well, yeah. It just happened last week. It’s only been a week.”

“Can you imagine if some of these reporters were working on a farm,” he said to a rally in Portland, Maine. “Planted some seed. they came out the next day and look – nothing’s happened! There is no crop. We’re going to starve…it’s a disaster.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama speaks at rally in Portland, Maine)

Wasn’t Groundhog Day last week? Another blizzard slams East Coast

WEATHER-USA/It is starting to feel a lot like that (in)famous movie “Groundhog Day” with a powerful blizzard again pelting the East Coast  from Washington, D.C. up to New York with a foot or more of snow and pummeling winds.

The federal government in Washington is closed for the third straight day, the United Nation’s headquarters in Manhattan is also shuttered — in fact it may be easier to say what’s open, which is probably next to nothing except the random coffee shop and well of course Wall Street.

Already about 15,000 customers in the Baltimore/Washington area are without power and that number will likely jump with wind gusts reportedly hitting more than 40 miles per hour at Dulles International Airport and near whiteout conditions.

Obama says football helmet will come in handy at State of the Union

OBAMA/President Barack Obama, who has taken some friendly fire from his Democratic Party this week, was presented with a handy piece of protective headgear on Friday that he promised to put to good use.

“I’ll need this during the State of the Union,” he said in Elyria, Ohio. Obama will give the address before Congress on Wednesday.

“I could knock some heads with it,” he said, brandishing the gleaming football helmet complete with the presidential eagle and his number – 44 – presented by the Riddell sports company during a visit to promote policies on jobs and healthcare reform.

Obama misses a deadline on Guantanamo

Just because a president orders something done, that don’t make it happen.

A year after President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the facility is still open and holding 196 terrorism suspects the United States has captured.

GUANTANAMO/The president had barely finished celebrating his inauguration when he signed an order Jan. 22, 2009, directing the Guantanamo prison be closed “as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.”

Any inmates still at the prison at the time of closure would be “returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Obama feels at home in eye of winter storm

While the rest of Washington dug itself out of  the area’s most severe winter storm in years, the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  found the deeply drifting snow much to their liking as it blanketed the White House.

snow

“I am from Chicago, so let me first say that with the place where I live covered with snow I’m finally starting to feel like home,” President Barack Obama told reporters for a hastily summoned White House statement on climate change and healthcare reform.
    
Up to 20 inches of snow is forecast for the capital area Saturday, sharply restricting travel as airlines canceled flights and public transport was shut down.
    
This also brings to mind Obama’s previous recommendation that the locals need to develop some mid-western fortitude toward the weather, after he complained Washingtonians need some “flinty Chicago toughness” after his two daughters’ school closed down after a 2-inch snowfall in January. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Good day for jobs, sad for panda lovers

For all those who woke up to the sad news that Washington’s loveable giant panda cub would be heading back to China, here’s a bright spot for your Friday:

USA/Job cuts in November were much lower than had been expected and the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 10 percent from 10.2 percent.

The stronger-than-expected numbers helped boost the U.S. dollar and global stock prices on hopes for a strong economic recovery.

Inquisition begins over state dinner gatecrashing

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan looked like he was having a bad day as he sat facing a firing USA/squad of lawmakers determined to find out how the vaunted Secret Service could allow uninvited guests into the White House and even into a receiving line to shake hands with President Barack Obama.

“I’ve asked myself that question a thousand times over this past week,” Sullivan told the House Homeland Security Committee when asked how Tareq and Michaele Salahi were allowed to talk their way into the White House for last week’s state dinner although they were not on the guest list.

“Do I like to see this? Believe me, we are beating ourselves up over this,” said Sullivan, who looked like he could use a good night’s sleep and seemed to have a 5 o’clock shadow even at 10 a.m.

Will latest polls weigh on Obama?

President Barack Obama summoned his war council today for what may be a pivotal meeting as he decides what to do in Afghanistan. OBAMAWhile Obama weighs up his options on whether to send in more troops — with most money on about 30,000 more – he might also glance at the latest round of public opinion polls on Afghanistan.One by the Pew Research Center put Obama’s favorable job rating on Afghanistan at 36 percent, sharply down from 49 percent in July.On troop levels in Afghanistan, 40 percent say there should be fewer U.S. soldiers, 32 percent approve of an increase while 19 percent say current troop levels are satisfactory.A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released today found that 56 percent of respondents opposed sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan while 42 percent supported additional forces.Which way are you leaning? More troops, less, the same? Stay, go, the status quo? As commander-in-chief, will Obama go the way of Goldilocks and take the middle road, or will there be a surprise?Click here for more Reuters political coveragePhoto credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama making statement about Fort Hood shootings)

The First Draft: off-year election day could spell trouble for Obama

It’s been a year since Americans have gone to the polls, but as they do on Tuesday President Barack Obama may be less excited than he was last year, particularly in Virginia and New Jersey where his fellow Democrats are facing trouble.

Republicans are hoping to capture the governors’ mansions in those two states to rebuild some momentum after being trounced by Democrats last year. They also are trying to make it a referendum against Obama’s agenda to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system and financial regulatory structure as well as his plans to address climate change.OBAMA/

In Virginia where Obama won narrowly in 2008, Republican Bob McDonnell has built a sizable lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds while in traditionally Democratic-leaning New Jersey Republican Chris Christie is neck and neck with Democratic incumbent Governor Jon Corzine.

Obama: “Skinny but tough”

obamatoughPresident Barack Obama had a message for his political friends and foes on Monday — “just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough.”

After weeks in which he has been angrily criticized by some on the right, to the point of creating a poster image of him with a Hitler mustache, Obama told a Democratic fund-raising event in Miami that some of his supporters have been expressing concern to him.

“I’ve tried to explain … just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough. I don’t rattle. I’m not going to shrink back, because now is the time for us to continue to push and follow through on those things that we know have to be done but have not been done in decades,” he said.