The President and His Daughters Enjoy Buying Books

Just like last year around this time, President Obama and his daughters went shopping at a local bookstore today, on what is known as #SmallBizSat. They shopped at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. No word yet from the White House, who tweeted out this picture, about which bookstore they were at (in Arlington, VA), nor what books the bookselling staff are wrapping up here. It sure is great to see the First Family buying books like this, a shot of high-profile bookbuying the book industry can really use.

Here are more photos from the Obamas’ visit to the bookstore. Photo credit for all these photos is “AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE”


Welcoming Burma to a Better World

Update: Late Monday this photo by the Washington Post’s David Nakamura of an embrace between Aun Sang Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton, with President Obama looking on, hit the newswires. Happy to add it to this post.

Some human rights activists are criticizing President Obama for making Burma a stop on his current visit to Southeast Asia. They say the country still holds captive many political prisoners, and that it’s too soon to favor them with a presidential visit. I share their concern that the gains made over the past year aren’t sufficient, and that reversals in the process may still occur. And yet, I believe that the visit, which brings with it not just the president but Hillary Clinton and the whole force of the State Department is the best way to ensure progress and forestall a return to the repression of the past decades.

The NY Times reports that while sharing a dais with Aung San Suu Kyi President Obama said of Burma today:

“‘You must reach for the future you deserve, a future where a single prisoner of conscience is one too many. You need to reach for a future where the law is stronger than any single leader.’”

The Times adds that “Although human rights activists criticized him for visiting while hundreds of political prisoners remain locked up and violence rages through parts of the country, Mr. Obama used the occasion to nudge Myanmar to move further.” The president was greeted on arrival “by further promises of reform by the government, which announced a series of specific commitments regarding the release of political prisoners and the end of ethnic violence. Although Mr. Obama stayed just six hours, his visit was seen here as a validation of a new era. . . . John Sifton of Human Rights Watch said that if the promises [Prime Minister] Mr. Thein Sein announced Monday were kept, it would ‘be a huge step in the right direction for the people’ and future of Myanmar, although he maintained it could have been achieved without rewarding the government with a presidential visit so soon.”

Readers of this blog may recall that last winter I attended the opening of an exhibit put on by The Mantle: a forum of progressive critique at Gallery 35 of Burmese artists whose work spanned the period before the loosening and after it had begun. The latter pieces reflected an early, wary response to the government’s new openness, and blogged about it at the time.  The art was really compelling too, not just as political messages. I’ve posted some of the images here–there are lots more at the original post.

In September, when Aung San Suu Kyi visited Washington, I shared two great pictures from her visit, like the one below taken with Hillary. I’m glad America is engaged this way, not just with Burma, but also reaching out to Thailand and Cambodia on this presidential trip, and look forward to seeing more diplomacy like over the next four years. Though China’s dominance in the region is undeniable, American influence with these smaller countries with growing economic dynamism, is going to be very important, for American trade and public approval.

A Supportive Message to the President, from a Non-Obama Voter

At President Obama’s post-election press conference today he delivered some opening remarks on the recovering economy and what he believes we should to do ramp up the pace of economic improvement. At the end of this statement, before opening the floor to questions, he read from an email sent to him at the White House after the election had been been decided last week. The writer was Steve Wise of Brentwood, TN, and the entire letter’s been posted on As I invite you to read below, Mr. Wise did not vote for the president. However, he is supportive of him now that it’s clear he’ll be serving another term. What’s most notable is that his message is well-meant, not at all vituperative. He’s what Congressional Republicans are not. I can see why President Obama picked this message to read today, out of what I’m sure were the many thousands sent to the White House last week.

Thank you for your email, Mr. Wise, and your good heart. H/T @jearnest44 whose post of this on Twitter, retweeted by @Froomkin, was the first time I saw it.

Shields & Brooks, Decent to President Obama this Friday

Wow, for the first time in months I found the Friday night commentary of Shields & Brooks on the PBS NewsHour fair and reasonable toward President Obama. They weren’t so carping and snarky as usual.

One remarkable piece of information: Mark Shields reported that an Obama campaign staffer told him that following President Obama’s emotional remarks at Chicago campaign HQs, video of which I featured here last night, the president shook hands with and greeted all 700 staffers.

NBC’s Richard Engel, on the Petraeus Resignation

Regarding David Petraeus’s abrupt resignation as DCIA, NBC’s Richard Engel just reported on Hardball that the FBI is investigating, and possibly involved is a female biographer of the General, Paula Broadwell. He speculated that agents may be looking at whether Broadwell may have had improper access to classified material Petraeus failed to secure. Over at TPM, one reader with knowledge of national security law, writes to Josh Marshall that Petreaus’s security clearance would have been yanked immediately, and thus made impossible his status as Director. If or when I get a link to Engel’s reporting or this TV appearance, I’ll share it here.

H/T Martha Moran and Chris Kerr for bringing aspects of the Petraeus story to my attention, including this New Yorker blog post by Amy Davidson, linking Petraeus and Benghazi.

Inspirational Video of the President Meeting with His Campaign Staff

This is a great piece of video taken Wednesday when President Obama visited his Chicago campaign headquarters to thank staff for all their devotion and hard work. Moving stuff.


Grateful, relieved, happy, and hopeful for so many things, a handful of them below:

1) Grateful that our president will be returned to office with the support of a majority of the nation’s voters; that so many progressive women will be serving in the Senate; and that marriage equality has been affirmed on the east coast and the west coast.

2) Relieved that the policies and cohort of the challenger won’t be installed in the White House.

3) Happy that I was able to lend my support to the Obama campaign with some phone banking (not as much as in 2008, though I still made some calls); that I connected with the Obama Campaign’s digital outreach staff, especially Teddy Goff and Erica Sackin, and was able to inform this blog with their informed content; and that the curation and writing of this blog spread accurate information and motivating commentary about the campaign to a widening circle of readers and sharers. Thanks to all.

4) Hopeful that four more years of President Obama’s astute leadership will heal our economy with more opportunities for all; nurture civil and human rights; and lead to more global understanding.

As this first day after the 2012 election goes along, I may have more items to list, but for now these will suffice. As always, thank you for subscribing, reading, and sharing from The Great Gray Bridge. If you care to, please share some things for which you are grateful, relieved, happy, and/or hopeful in the comments field below.