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President Obama Gives Moving Speech at Arizona Memorial

President Barack Obama was in top form on Wednesday night at the memorial for the shooting victims in Arizona where he gave what could be one of the most moving speeches of his political career.
Below is the full video and transcript of President Obama’s speech at the Arizona Memorial.

Daily Kos User, “57andfemale” had this great response to Obama’s speech:

How Obama ‘wins’
All of us here would love to see him throw punches.

But here is how he wins. By being better than our imaginations, the haters appear petty. No, they’re not going to change. But we can chip away at their influence and eventually marginalize them. Without any insult or crawling into the self-absorbed mud that is Sarah Palin. So she thought she was going to get a ‘gotcha’ moment by releasing her screed at 8:00 a.m. the morning of this memorial/celebration? Did she think he was going to bash her at McKale Hall and beat him to it? Is she that phenomenally stupid on all levels of the human mind and heart? As Chris Matthews said last night, “That woman doesn’t know anything.”

So without one drop of vitriol, Palin looks even smaller and stupider than she did all day yesterday. John Boehner turns down the President of the United States to go to Tucson on Air Force One to commemorate one of the Congresspeople he is charged to lead, to go to a RNC fundraiser. Without getting his hands dirty, the conservatives have a light shown on their petty, soulless lives.

We may be angry as hell that Obama has not accomplished all of our wishes. But I have one question for all of you:

In times of crisis, is this not the President you want to make critical decisions? Do you not want a President whose heart and mind can function on all cylinders?

The pundits had set the stage for him to fail — there would have been no way he could have hit all the right notes to please them. Then he hit the notes in ways they never imagined. Brilliance.

The race speech didn’t end racism. This speech will not end political rancor. Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural speech did not forestall the Civil War. “I have a Dream” did not end racial oppression. But a path is laid out by the great speakers and thinkers of an age. President Obama is one such man.

Here’s a video of the entire PBS NewsHour Coverage

Transcript
Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

McKale Memorial Center
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

6:43 P.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Please, please be seated. (Applause.)

To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants who are gathered here, the people of Tucson and the people of Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow. (Applause.)

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: The hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through. (Applause.)

Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. (Applause.) They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders –- representatives of the people answering questions to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns back to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” -– just an updated version of government of and by and for the people. (Applause.)

And that quintessentially American scene, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday –- they, too, represented what is best in us, what is best in America. (Applause.)

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. (Applause.) A graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school — (applause) — Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain 20 years ago — (applause) — appointed by President George H.W. Bush and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge. (Applause.)

His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons and his five beautiful grandchildren. (Applause.)

George and Dorothy Morris -– “Dot” to her friends -– were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together — traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. (Applause.) Both were shot. Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her three children, her seven grandchildren and 2-year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under a favorite tree, or sometimes she’d sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants — (laughter) — to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better. (Applause.)

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together -– about 70 years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families. But after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.” (Laughter.)

When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with his dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers. (Applause.)

Everything — everything — Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion. (Applause.) But his true passion was helping people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits that they had earned, that veterans got the medals and the care that they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved -– talking with people and seeing how he could help. And Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year. (Applause.)

And then there is nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student; she was a dancer; she was a gymnast; she was a swimmer. She decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the Major Leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. (Applause.)

She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age. She’d remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken -– and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.
Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.

I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you — her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you — right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. (Applause.) Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. (Applause.)

Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her. (Applause.)

Our hearts are full of thanks for that good news, and our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez — (applause) — a volunteer in Gabby’s office. (Applause.)

And, Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero because — (applause) — you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive. (Applause.)

We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. (Applause.) Right over there. (Applause.) We are grateful for petite Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, and undoubtedly saved some lives. (Applause.) And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them. (Applause.)

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us, just waiting to be summoned -– as it was on Saturday morning. Their actions, their selflessness poses a challenge to each of us. It raises a question of what, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations –- to try and pose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -– at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -– it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. (Applause.)

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “When I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. (Applause.) But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. (Applause.) That we cannot do. (Applause.) That we cannot do.

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together. (Applause.)

After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose somebody in our family -– especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken out of our routines. We’re forced to look inward. We reflect on the past: Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices that they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in a while but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward -– but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. (Applause.)

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved — (applause)– and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better. (Applause.)

And that process — that process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions –- that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.

For those who were harmed, those who were killed –- they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. (Applause.) We may not have known them personally, but surely we see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis –- she’s our mom or our grandma; Gabe our brother or son. (Applause.) In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. (Applause.)

And in Gabby — in Gabby, we see a reflection of our public-spiritedness; that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union. (Applause.)

And in Christina — in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example.

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. (Applause.) Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud. (Applause.)

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations. (Applause.)

They believed — they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here –- they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us. (Applause.)

And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us. (Applause.)

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. (Applause.)

Imagine — imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. (Applause.) I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. (Applause.) All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations. (Applause.)

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.” (Applause.) “I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. (Applause.) And here on this Earth — here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Democratic Video – Barack Obama Two Years of Progress

So, what have you done in two years, President Barack Obama?

A Democratic Video look back at President Barack Obama’s accomplishments over the first two years of his administration.

Barack Obama two years! Good going & Thank you, Sir!

Barack Obama & Family at National Christmas Tree Lighting

The President is joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden as he lights the National Christmas Tree in a ceremony on the Ellipse. December 9, 2010.

Barack an Michelle Obama - Christmas

Barack an Michelle Obama - Christmas Sweater Fun

Obama Family Christmas Tree Lighting

West Wing Week Dec 10: “It’s Alive!” with Arun Chaudhary

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he visits Afghanistan to celebrate the holidays with our men and women in uniform, announces a free trade agreement with South Korea, attends a series of meetings at the White House and holds a press conference to answer questions about the tax cut compromise, signs the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, and more…

Tax Cuts, Unemployment Insurance & Jobs -White House White Board

In this edition of White House White Board, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, discusses the President’s compromise framework on tax cuts, unemployment insurance & jobs.
Goolsbee contrasts Republican priorities with Obama’s which includes unemployment insurance, earned income tax credit, American opportunity tax credit for students, child tax credit, cut in payroll tax, and
investment incentives to companies to build factories and invest here at home. These things, he argues, are key to the short run recovery of the economy and getting the growth rate up.

Ian Masters interviews Richard Wolfe on Obama – Audio

Ian Masters interviews Richard Wolfe, the author of Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House. This compelling piece gives good insight into the hurdles that President Barack Obama  has to negotiate. Key Quote: “If the Wall Street guys hate him as much as they do, he must be doing something right.” - Ian Masters about Obama. Wolfe talks about how, progressives need to realize that Obama campaigned on wanting to unite red and white America and cannot do so by speaking only to blue America.

The Ian Masters show on KPFK features, “Inside breaking international and national news. A radio program featuring international and national news, expert guests, policy makers and critics with analysis and insight on national security, foreign and domestic policy, political, cultural and social issues. This program goes far beyond the headlines and deep under the radar to bring forward truths unheard in the American media.”

Listen to the interview audio here:

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About Ian Masters

Ian Masters is an Australian-born and BBC-trained journalist and filmmaker. He has made a career of asking provocative questions of the most informed thinkers in order to bring light to the day’s most important news stories. Since 1980 his Sunday program, Background Briefing, has aired on KPFK-FM in Los Angeles. In 2009, the program expanded to five days each week.

In addition to his work on radio, Ian Masters hosts monthly forums at Los Angeles’s UCLA/Hammer Museum.  The Hammer Forum invites prominent and provocative guests to address relevant issues of public concern in conversation with each other and the public.

Click here to visit Ian Masters’ website

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Obama -Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance Agreement

President Obama’s press conference regarding Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance Agreement.

TRANSCRIPT

Press Conference by the President in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Before I answer a few questions, I just wanted to say a few words about the agreement we’ve reached on tax cuts.

My number one priority is to do what’s right for the American people, for jobs, and for economic growth. I’m focused on making sure that tens of millions of hardworking Americans are not seeing their paychecks shrink on January 1st just because the folks here in Washington are busy trying to score political points.

And because of this agreement, middle-class Americans won’t see their taxes go up on January 1st, which is what I promised — a promise I made during the campaign, a promise I made as President.

Because of this agreement, 2 million Americans who lost their jobs and are looking for work will be able to pay their rent and put food on their table. And in exchange for a temporary extension of the high-income tax breaks — not a permanent but a temporary extension — a policy that I opposed but that Republicans are unwilling to budge on, this agreement preserves additional tax cuts for the middle class that I fought for and that Republicans opposed two years ago.

I’ll cite three of them. Number one, if you are a parent trying to raise your child or pay college tuition, you will continue to see tax breaks next year. Second, if you’re a small business looking to invest and grow, you’ll have a tax cut next year. Third, as a result of this agreement, we will cut payroll taxes in 2011, which will add about $1,000 to the take-home pay of a typical family.

So this isn’t an abstract debate. This is real money for real people that will make a real difference in the lives of the folks who sent us here. It will make a real difference in the pace of job creation and economic growth. In other words, it’s a good deal for the American people.

Now, I know there are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight, even if it had meant higher taxes for all Americans, even if it had meant an end to unemployment insurance for those who are desperately looking for work.

And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that. I’m as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I’ve been for years. In the long run, we simply can’t afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them, just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I’ve championed and that they’ve opposed.

So we’re going to keep on having this debate. We’re going to keep on having this battle. But in the meantime I’m not here to play games with the American people or the health of our economy. My job is to do whatever I can to get this economy moving. My job is to do whatever I can to spur job creation. My job is to look out for middle-class families who are struggling right now to get by and Americans who are out of work through no fault of their own.

A long political fight that carried over into next year might have been good politics, but it would be a bad deal for the economy and it would be a bad deal for the American people. And my responsibility as President is to do what’s right for the American people. That’s a responsibility I intend to uphold as long as I am in this office.

So with that, let me take a couple of questions.

Ben Feller.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve been telling the American people all along that you oppose extending the tax cuts for the wealthier Americans. You said that again today. But what you never said was that you oppose the tax cuts, but you’d be willing to go ahead and extend them for a couple years if the politics of the moment demand it.

So what I’m wondering is when you take a stand like you had, why should the American people believe that you’re going to stick with it? Why should the American people believe that you’re not going to flip flop?

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, Ben. This isn’t the politics of the moment. This has to do with what can we get done right now. So the issue — here’s the choice. It’s very stark. We can’t get my preferred option through the Senate right now. As a consequence, if we don’t get my option through the Senate right now, and we do nothing, then on January 1st of this — of 2011, the average family is going to see their taxes go up about $3,000. Number two: At the end of this month, 2 million people will lose their unemployment insurance.

Now, I have an option, which is to say, you know what, I’m going to keep fighting a political fight, which I can’t win in the Senate — and by the way, there are going to be more Republican senators in the Senate next year sworn in than there are currently. So the likelihood that the dynamic is going to improve for us getting my preferred option through the Senate will be diminished. I’ve got an option of just holding fast to my position and, as a consequence, 2 million people may not be able to pay their bills and tens of millions of people who are struggling right now are suddenly going to see their paychecks smaller. Or alternatively, what I can do is I can say that I am going to stick to my position that those folks get relief, that people get help for unemployment insurance. And I will continue to fight before the American people to make the point that the Republican position is wrong.

Now, if there was not collateral damage, if this was just a matter of my politics or being able to persuade the American people to my side, then I would just stick to my guns, because the fact of the matter is the American people already agree with me. There are polls showing right now that the American people, for the most part, think it’s a bad idea to provide tax cuts to the wealthy.

But the issue is not me persuading the American people; they’re already there. The issue is, how do I persuade the Republicans in the Senate who are currently blocking that position. I have not been able to budge them. And I don’t think there’s any suggestion anybody in this room thinks realistically that we can budge them right now.

And in the meantime, there are a whole bunch of people being hurt and the economy would be damaged. And my first job is to make sure that the economy is growing, that we’re creating jobs out there, and that people who are struggling are getting some relief. And if I have to choose between having a protracted political battle on the one hand, but those folks being hurt or helping those folks and continuing to fight this political battle over the next two years, I will choose the latter.

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President Barack Obama Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan

UPDATED with Full Video, Photos and Transcript

During a surprise visit to Afghanistan, President Obama speaks to the troops at Bagram Air Base.

President Barack Obama visits with a platoon of U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan that recently lost six members

The President made an overnight trip to visit troops in Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 3, 2010) -- U.S. President Barack Obama addresses troops during a surprise visit to Afghanistan. (Photo by Michael Sparks, CJTF-101)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 3, 2010) -- President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, International Security Assistance Force’s senior enlisted leader, after receiving a gift from Hill and U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus during the president’s surprise visit to Bagram Airfield Dec. 3. (Photo by Michael Sparks, CJTF-101)

Barack Obama shakes hands with Maj. Gen. John Campbell in Afghanistan

News reports are starting to come in about President Obama’s Surprise Trip to Afghanistan.

Click play to hear the NPR News Report: President Obama landed at Bagram Air Field on Friday for a short visit in Afghanistan. Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR’s Ari Shapiro, who is traveling with the president.

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CSPAN: President Obama Remarks to Troops in Afghanistan

President Obama was in Afghanistan today for an unexpected visit. While there, he spoke with the President of Afghanistan, visited with wounded soldiers and addressed the troops at Bagram Airfield. His visit there lasted a few hours. Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan : 25 min. Watch the video on CSPAN

Raw Video: Obama Slips Into Afghanistan

From National Public Radio Updates
In Afghanistan, Obama Hails Troops For Their Sacrifices
President Obama has been in Afghanistan today — an unannounced trip that was kept secret for security purposes until he landed.

More updates from NPR : Hit your “refresh” button on the NPR website to see the latest additions.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP  President Barack Obama waves as he is introduced to the troops at Bagram Air Field.

Los Angeles Times:
President Obama is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, as he arrives at Bagram Air Base. (Jim Young / Reuters)

In surprise trip to Afghanistan, Obama visits troops — but can’t meet Karzai
A dust storm prevents Obama from meeting in person with Afghan President Hamid Karzai; they’ll chat by video conference instead. At the Bagram airfield, Obama tells troops that they are breaking the Taliban’s momentum, but he notes: ‘Progress comes at a high price.’

Reporting from Dubai, UAE, Washington and Kabul —
President Obama made an unannounced visit Friday to Afghanistan. But in a scenario that seemed symbolic of star-crossed U.S. relations with the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the two leaders were unable to meet face to face.

The U.S. president visited American troops at Bagram airfield, a sprawling base north of the capital, Kabul. But a massive dust storm prevented him from making the short-hop helicopter trip to meet with Karzai at his presidential palace, as the two sides had planned.
Read more about President Obama’s unannounced trip to Afghanistan.

TRANSCRIPT

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West Wing Week: A Christmas Tree and Sharp Elbows

by Arun Chaudhary – December 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he holds a meeting with bipartisan members of the Congressional Leadership at the White House, greets the American 2010 Nobel Laureates in the Oval Office, meets with General Colin Powell, makes a joint statement about the importance of ratifying the START treaty with Russia, and more…

Also, the First Lady, accompanied by Sasha and Malia, are presented with the official Christmas Tree.

Arun Chaudhary is the official White House videographer

December 1st at the White House – Barack Obama, Powell, More…

December 1st at the White House, was a busy day.
December 2010: Photo of the Day
First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses laugh as young visitor tastes her decorated cookie during a holiday craft demonstration with the children of military personnel in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses laugh as young visitor tastes her decorated cookie during a holiday craft demonstration with the children of military personnel in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama Meets with General Colin Powell
December 01, 2010

The President and General Colin Powell speak to the press after meeting in the Oval Office to discuss reducing school dropout rates, the importance of ratifying the new START treaty, and other issues.

The First Lady Previews White House Holiday Decorations
December 01, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes the press and military families to the White House to preview the 2010 White House holiday decorations.

Simple Gifts: Holidays at The White House 2010
December 01, 2010

A behind the scenes look at the nearly 100 volunteers and their efforts to decorate the White House for the 2010 Holiday season.