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Joe Biden Takes Oath Of Office For Second Term As Vice-President

Vice-President Joe Biden has taken the oath of office for his second term.

The oath was administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shortly after 8am. The brief ceremony was preceded by a prayer from the Reverend Kevin O’Brien of Georgetown University.

President Barack Obama will be sworn in at midday.

The Constitution mandates that the President and Vice-President be sworn on January 20. Because that date is a Sunday this year, the official ceremonies will be held tomorrow when Obama and Biden will take the oath again.

Obama also took the oath twice in 2009, following a verbal mangling of the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts.



Obama And Biden Announce Plans To Tackle Gun Violence

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden have announced a series of measures to tackle gun violence in the US, in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Obama signed a series of Executive Orders to give effect to 23 separate executive actions, including:

  • requiring background checks for all gun sales
  • strenthening the background check system
  • passing a new, stronger ban on assault weapons
  • limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
  • getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets
  • ending the freeze on gun violence research
  • counsellors and emergency response plans in schools
  • mental health treatment.

Transcript of remarks by President Obama and Vice-President Biden on tackling gun violence.

Obama

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Before I begin today, let me say to the families of the innocents who were murdered 33 days ago, our heart goes out to you. And you show incredible courage — incredible courage — being here. And the President and I are going to do everything in our power to honor the memory of your children and your wives with the work we take up here today.

It’s been 33 days since the nation’s heart was broken by the horrific, senseless violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 20 — 20 beautiful first-graders gunned down in a place that’s supposed to be their second sanctuary. Six members of the staff killed trying to save those children. It’s literally been hard for the nation to comprehend, hard for the nation to fathom. [Read more…]


NRA Attacks Obama As An ‘Elitist Hypocrite’

This is a video advertisement released by the National Rifle Association.

It follows Obama’s announcement today of a series of executive orders to combat gun crime in the United States.

The NRA describes Obama as an “elitist hypocrite”, comparing his policies to the armed guards provided to the president’s children. The White House described the ad as “cowardly”.



Barack Obama Holds Final Press Conference Of His First Term

Barack Obama has held the final press conference of his first term as United States president.

Obama will be sworn in for his second and final term next Sunday, January 20. On Monday, the official inauguration ceremony will take place at the US Capitol. [Read more…]


Getting It So Wrong: The Republicans And The Presidential Election

I still find it remarkable that Republicans running Mitt Romney’s campaign seemed to genuinely believe that he was winning.

This November article from The New Republic looks at what happened. Read: The Polls That Made Mitt Romney Think He’d Win.

Gwen Ifill of the PBS NewsHour commented on the same bizarre feature of the presidential election in this video piece reviewing 2012:


Here in Australia it’s possible to find people who genuinely believe that the Gillard government is going to be re-elected. Many blogs supportive of the ALP promote the argument that Tony Abbott is unelectable. Equally, there are Coalition supporters who cannot contemplate the possibility. As in the US, one side is going to be very wrong later this year.



Obama Nominates Chuck Hagel To Be Defence Secretary

President Barack Obama has nominated former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defence.

Hagel, 66, was a Republican senator from Nebraska from 1997 until 2009. An initial supporter of the war in Iraq, Hagel became a critic of the Bush administration. He was spoken of as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Obama in 2008.

Obama also nominated John O. Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is currently Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President.

Both nominations require Senate approval.

Text of President Obama’s remarks in nominating Hagel and Brennan.

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. As President and Commander-in-Chief, my most solemn obligation is the security of the American people. Over the past four years, we’ve met that responsibility by ending the war in Iraq, and beginning a transition in Afghanistan; by decimating the al Qaeda core and taking out Osama bin Laden; by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.

Among an outstanding national security team, I am especially grateful to Leon Panetta, who has led the CIA and our military with incredible skill. Leon, after nearly five decades of service, you have more than earned the right to return to civilian life. I’ll have much more to say about Leon’s distinguished service in the days ahead. Today, I simply want to convey both to you and to Sylvia the eternal gratitude of the entire nation. Thank you so much, Leon. [Read more…]


U.S. Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Legislation; Obama Says It’s Just First Step

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation which prevents income tax increases on the bulk of Americans and also prevents large cuts in government programs.

The fiscal cliff crisis was resolved for now when the House approved legislation passed late on New Year’s Eve by the Senate. The House vote was 257 to 167, with 85 Republicans voting with 172 Democrats to allow incomes taxes to increase for the first time in 20 years. The No vote consisted of 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats.

The legislation passed the Senate at 2am on New Year’s Day by 89 votes to 8.

The legislation increases taxes on household incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. It makes permanent tax cuts for incomes below that level. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 also delays the budget sequestration by two months. The tax increases are expected to raise $600 billion over ten years, about one-fifth of the revenue that would have resulted from no action. It was widely believed that a failure to act could have led to a recession in the U.S.

Following the House vote, President Barack Obama held a media briefing just before midnight. Whilst praising the passage of the legislation, he said there was more to be done on reducing the nation’s budget deficit.

Post from Colleen Curtis on the White House blog.

What You Need to Know About the Bipartisan Tax Agreement

UPDATE: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was also passed by a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on January 1, 2013.

President Obama has repeatedly called this a make-or-break moment for the middle class. That’s why we worked with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to reach an agreement that keeps income taxes low for the middle class and helps to grow the economy. And as the President promised, millionaires and billionaires will also begin doing more to help pay down the deficit through a combination of permanent tax rate increases and reduced tax benefits. [Read more…]


‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

A Christmas story from former President Bill Clinton in 1997.

This video was taken on December 18, 1997 at a children’s event at the White House.


And the First Lady, fifteen years later:



NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Proposes Armed Police In US Schools

The National Rifle Association has proposed a program to put armed police guards into all American schools.

NRA

At an extraordinary press conference today, the Executive Vice-President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, said that it was necessary to match a “bad guy with a gun” with a “good guy with a gun”. [Read more…]


Obama Gives Biden Task Force A Month To Develop Gun Control Proposals

President Barack Obama has established an interagency task force, led by Vice-President Joe Biden, and charged it with proposing gun control measures in January.

Obama

Obama will propose legislation to the Congress next year. He said he will act on the task force’s recommendations “without delay”. [Read more…]