Barack Obama

President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama is using the power of his office to reduce the sentences of people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. Today his office announced that he cut short the sentences of 111 federal inmates.

The commutations announced today included three identified as being from Michigan:

President Barack Obama
Pete Souza / White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just had the opportunity to meet with the federal responders who have been on the ground here in Flint, joined by Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Karen Weaver.  And our discussion underscored how important it was for us to mount a whole-of-government effort across agencies and across levels of government to meet one core mission, and that is make sure that the people of Flint are healthy; that they've got safe water to drink and to use; that we are ensuring that we have a plan for the system to work over the long term; and that we are certain that our kids here in Fli

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Gov. Rick Snyder's plans to meet with President Obama in Flint today, teacher sickouts in Detroit and the future of the presidential campaign, now that the Indiana primary is over.

Six days ago, when it was first announced that President Obama was finally coming to Flint, Governor Snyder sent word from Europe that he was busy and didn’t plan to be in town that day. It was instantly clear that this was a huge political mistake.

Photo of President Obama speaking in Ann Arbor.
YouTube

Today President Obama heads to Flint, Michigan to meet with residents still dealing with the water crisis.

He’s set to meet with residents, participate in a briefing with state and local officials and make remarks at Northwestern High School.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama will visit Flint tomorrow to get an update on the city’s drinking water crisis.

In Flint, thousands of children under the age of six have been exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, creating problems that could last a lifetime.

But there’s a new effort underway to try to help children most at risk.   

For weeks, teachers and other volunteers have been knocking on doors in Flint.

On Monday, they once again fanned out across a south-side neighborhood.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will greet President Barack Obama at a Flint airport and talk to him about efforts to solve the city's drinking water mess.

Spokesman Ari Adler says the Republican governor is pleased to try to seek more federal support for Flint during Obama's visit Wednesday.

President Barack Obama
Pete Souza / White House

When President Obama visits Flint on Wednesday, many are wondering if Gov. Snyder will meet with him. Early signs indicated "no," but this morning, Snyder asked to meet with the president and Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver. The It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta tries to make sense of it all.

President Obama is planning to fly into Flint later this week to check in on the response to the city’s drinking water crisis and Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t plan to follow along on the presidential visit.

So, the question becomes: can the governor of Michigan really altogether snub the president of the United States?

Snyder has certainly tried to lay an equal share of the blame for what went wrong in Flint on problems caused by the federal government and its layers of bureaucracy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met privately with Flint and Genesee County leaders today, hours after asking the Obama administration for help in dealing with the city’s water crisis.

“We’re finally getting the attention that we need and deserve,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in a written statement. “For so long, our voices have gone unheard. This man-made water disaster has been devastating and frustrating for the residents of Flint. We can’t fix what’s happened to the people of Flint. But, we can get them the things they deserve as a result of it.”

President Obama speaks at Macomb Community College.
White House / YouTube screen grab

President Obama was in Michigan yesterday to roll out new initiatives meant to boost job training and community college enrollment. He said he’ll create a new board meant to promote the idea of two free years of community college.

“Whether it is a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, a journeyman’s card from an apprenticeship program, having a credential above and beyond your high school diploma, that’s the surest ticket to the middle class,” the president said. “And in global competition for jobs and industries, having the best educated workforce in the world is the surest way for America to stay on top.”

Years ago, a professor who had contempt for politics asked me if I knew what the difference was between Pavlov’s dogs and most politicians. His answer was: Sometimes when the great Russian behaviorist rang his bell, the dogs failed to salivate.

The Hekmati family

President Obama rebuked a White House reporter today for the way he asked a questions about four Americans held in Iran. 

One of the four is Amir Hekmati. The Flint man has been held by the Iranian government on spying charges for nearly four years. 

MOCAD

A unique art exhibition opens this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.   When the show closes in August, the main exhibit will have grown.

New York artist Rob Pruitt has been producing a new portrait of Barack Obama every day since the President was inaugurated in 2009. More than 2000 to date and growing by an additional 2 x 2 square foot portrait a day.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today President Obama again called on the Iranian government to release a Marine veteran from Flint.

Amir Hekmati was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to death for spying. Iranian authorities overturned that sentence and imprisoned him for 10 years. The U.S. denies he's a spy. Hekmati was visiting relatives in Iran at the time of his arrest.

Broken piggy bank
Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This week, Jack and Emily discuss what’s missing from President Obama’s proposed budget, a grant to help Flint’s water woes, and a new bill that would make it legal for unmarried people to jointly adopt children.


President Obama addresses Congress for his 2015 State of the Union address.
White House

For political junkies, Tuesday night was a double feature. First Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address followed by President Obama’s State of the Union address.

We got some reaction from Michigan's members of Congress.

First up, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee  – listen below.

Next, we spoke with Republican Congressman Mike Bishop – listen below.

Two Speeches

Jan 21, 2015

I was fascinated last night by the contrast between Governor Snyder’s State of the State Speech and President Obama’s State of the Union Speech. Think about this.

Two middle-aged guys, one fifty-six; the other fifty-three, both wearing dark suits and blue ties, speaking two hours apart. One black, one white; one Republican, one Democrat.

A majority of us in Michigan voted for both of them twice, even though polls show most of us don’t think either is doing an especially good job.

Photo of President Obama speaking in Ann Arbor.
YouTube

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss stories which seem new but are actually just more of the same. Dave Agema, President Obama and the 114th Congress are all giving Michigan a sense of Déjà vu.


This week, the White House rolled out a proposal to provide free community college tuition to qualifying students, which could remove financial barriers to post-secondary education in Michigan, where just one in three people has an associate’s degree or higher.

Before we dive too far in, here are the “buts.”

  

Six years ago, when President Obama first took office, the United States was in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Unemployment was heading towards nine percent.

Barack Obama walked into the Oval Office to find the previous administration had left a budget with a projected deficit of $1.2 trillion. He knew things would get worse.

Michigan's next Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters

This week in Michigan Politics, Jack and Emily discuss President Barack Obama's Detroit trip as well as the state's outgoing and incoming US Congress members.


Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

President Obama will visit Michigan this Wednesday to deliver remarks at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. 

Robert Axelrod receiving the National Medal of Science on November 20, 2014.
University of Michigan

President Barack Obama has given the nation's highest honor for achievement in science and technology to a University of Michigan political science and public policy professor.  

Obama presented Robert Axelrod with the National Medal of Science on Thursday during a ceremony at the White House. The president selected him and nine others last month for the medal.

During the National Medals of Technology and Innovation Award Ceremony at the White House, Axelrod was commended for his work:

"Rober Axelrod, University of Michigan, for interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, complexity theory, and international security, and for the exploration of how social science models can be used to explain biological phenomena."

Axelrod wrote The Evolution of Cooperation, which deals with de-escalating conflict.

Axelrod also has received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" and has been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

The medals have been awarded annually since 1959.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama are talking about trying to find common ground moving forward.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee says Tuesday’s election results showed voters are dissatisfied with the way things have been run in Washington.

But Democrat Kildee says Republicans should be careful how they read the results.

screen grab

President Obama told a Detroit crowd Saturday that Democrats can pull off some big victories in Michigan races this Tuesday – if there’s a “sense of urgency” about getting out the vote.

The president rallied an exuberant crowd of more than 6,000 on the Wayne State University campus.

He urged them to sustain that energy over the next three days, and use it to get fellow Democrats to the polls.      

 As we head into the last weekend before the election, Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer (and plenty of others) are making their final swings through the state, launching their final push to get out the vote.

These final few days are all about reaching voters, the would-be, possible voters and persuading, inspiring them to get to the polls.

Democrats Need Excitement

There are more registered Democrats in Michigan than Republicans. Michigan is a blue state. But Democrats don’t turn out to the polls the way Republicans do, particularly in midterm elections. That’s why in the past six presidential cycles, Michigan has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate but why, because they’re elected in the midterms, we have a Republican governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

It’s toward that end that the D’s have a big attraction coming this weekend. President Obama is scheduled to campaign with Schauer and Democratic Senatorial candidate Gary Peters in Detroit on Saturday.

Nationwide, many Democrats are avoiding the president, but not here in Michigan. Instead, they’re betting the upside of the president’s visit will be bigger than the risk.

They’re hoping that the president can convince the legions that stepped out to support him in 2012 that they need to step out once again in 2014, even if his name is not at the top of the ticket.

Photo of President Obama speaking in Ann Arbor.
YouTube

President Obama will be in Michigan Saturday to campaign for Democratic candidates Mark Schauer and Gary Peters. 

@billclinton

Bill Clinton will be campaigning with Democrats in Flint tomorrow.

The former president is just the latest big-name Democrat to push for votes in Michigan. First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made campaign stops in Detroit to rally the Democratic Party base in recent weeks.

President Barack Obama is expected to visit Michigan before Election Day.

One analyst says Democrats are bringing in big names in an attempt to boost turnout in next month’s election.

With news out today that President Obama will be campaigning for statewide Democratic candidates Gary Peters and Mark Schauer at the end of the month, I thought it would be a good time to revisit a prediction my It’s Just Politics co-host Rick Pluta and I made in September.

That prediction? That, although many political pundits continue to talk about the president’s unpopularity nationwide, Barack Obama would make an appearance in Michigan before Election Day.

President Obama will return to Michigan. Back to campaign and to inspire Obama voters to get out and vote in the mid-terms. (It’s Just Politics, September 27th, 2014)

It is absolutely true that the president’s approval ratings are nothing to write home  about (in fact, they appear to be at their lowest level today since he took office) but, as Pluta and I have talked about before on IJP, this is a get-out-the-vote election. Democrats are relying on their core supporters, their base voters, to get them to victory at the polls on Nov. 4.

Though there are more Democrats in Michigan, Republicans do a better job of turning out in mid-term elections, when a president is not at the top of the ballot.

That’s why, although Michigan is a blue-state, we have a Republican governor, secretary of state and attorney general (all positions that are elected in non-presidential years, when Democrats tend to stay home).  – It’s Just Politics, Oct. 11, 2014

In order for Democrats to get their voters to the polls they need big names to help excite the electorate and there aren’t bigger Democratic names in this election cycle than President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama (who was in Detroit last Friday) and Hillary Clinton (who will visit Michigan tomorrow).

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