Tags Posts tagged with "President Obama"

President Obama

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The Obamas returned to the Island for a fifth vacation respite, which included lots of golf, social gatherings with close associates and a fundraiser.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

President Barack Obama, his family, and the presidential entourage departed Martha’s Vineyard Sunday evening. The clatter of helicopters and osprey aircraft just after dinner time punctuated the end of a 15-day summer vacation that underscored Mr. Obama’s love of golf and was notable for a lower profile and more limited public sightings of the first family than in past visits.

According to White House pool reports, there were no sightings of the president or the first lady, planned or spontaneous, in the final five days of their Vineyard vacation. Photographers assigned to the press pool had little to show for the long days in tow.

On Thursday, August 21, the president spent the afternoon on the links at Farm Neck Golf Club. Later that evening, he and Ms. Obama dined at their vacation home with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his wife, Diane.

On Friday, August 22, the president and first lady began the day with a walk near their Chilmark vacation home, and ended it at the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks display. The first family watched from Seaview Avenue Extension, where White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett rents a vacation home. The motorcade did not return to Chilmark until after 1 am, according to pool reports.

On Saturday, August 23, the president returned to Farm Neck Golf Club for his final round of golf of the vacation. Over the 15-day vacation, Mr. Obama played six rounds of golf at Farm Neck in Oak Bluffs, and three rounds at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. He skipped Mink Meadows, a course he has played at least once on each previous vacation.

On the links, the president spent time with a tight circle of friends. They included NBA stars past and present Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen, along with former NFL star and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad. Other frequent foursome partners were Cyrus Walker, a cousin of Ms. Jarrett; White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, and former White House chef and policy advisor Sam Kass.

The first family’s final day on the Island featured a hike along trails near their vacation home off North Road in Chilmark, and a quiet afternoon at home.

The president broke from his vacation schedule three times to address world events, including the civil strife in Iraq, the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the gruesome killing of journalist James Foley by the militant group that calls itself Islamic State.

Immediately after condemning the killing of Mr. Foley, Mr. Obama played a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club, which drew criticism from political friends and foes alike.

Ms. Obama enjoyed lunch in Edgartown with friends, hiking in Chilmark, and a stroll from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown along State Beach.

The vacation included three dinners out with friends, at the Sweet Live Cafe in Oak Bluffs, State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, and Atria in Edgartown.

It also included a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidates, and a birthday party for the wife of political power broker Vernon Jordan, attended by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Obama’s visit gives local scribes a behind-the-scenes look at covering the commander-in-chief.

Inside the big yellow bus during a long "hold," two reporters file stories while most of the pool soaks in the glorious summer day. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The arrival of a visiting president on Martha’s Vineyard is an exciting prospect for a reporter at a local Island weekly. It provides the opportunity to join some of the nation’s top journalists and photographers and to ride in the motorcade with the President of the United States — POTUS in reporter parlance. And there’s always the possibility, however remote, that a local reporter will get the chance to ask the most powerful man in the world a probing question — a question that could possibly give the president pause for reflection.

The Presidential press pool passes a long holding period at Flanders, where AFP photographer Nicholas Kamm passes the time photographing horses and veteran pooler Rick Friedman jokes with the AP's Jacquelyn Martin.
The Presidential press pool passes a long holding period at Flanders, where AFP photographer Nicholas Kamm passes the time photographing horses and veteran pooler Rick Friedman jokes with the AP’s Jacquelyn Martin.

But past experience covering President Obama as a member of the White House pool has been akin to press purgatory — long hours sitting in vans and buses, and maybe, just maybe, getting a telescopic view of the president’s facility with an 8 iron. This vacation, the president has been even more cloistered than usual, and a Sasquatch sighting on Farm Neck seems much more likely than any contact with the commander-in-chief.

With a mandate to get something out of the money The Times ponied up for the costs to get this local reporter in the White House pool, I decided to interview some of these top-shelf journos, to get a window into the life with the president when something actually happens, to get their impressions of our Island, and to find out what movies they show on Air Force One.

A summer day in the pool

The White House pool reporters were welcoming and collegial when a Times reporter and photographer joined their coterie. It was not long before a photographer from a major wire service shared a moving story about a picture she took last winter that went viral and eventually reunited a mentally ill man with his searching family. When The Times asked her to tell her heartwarming tale on the record so Islanders could share in it too, her tone took a decidedly sour turn. “Aw man, I thought we were just hanging out,” she said, uttering the last words she would speak to The Times for the rest of the 13-hour day on the bus.

Journalists, it turns out, do not like to be interviewed. This irony stems mainly from corporate policy. Given the amount of print journalists who are blogging for less than minimum wage, they can’t be blamed for protecting their livelihood.

The big yellow bus, aka "The Mothership," where the White House press pool spends a good part of the president's vacation.
The big yellow bus, aka “The Mothership,” where the White House press pool spends a good part of the president’s vacation.

But over the course of a long day spent in cramped vans and pacing around holding sites, some reporters and photographers, who asked to remain nameless, eventually shared stories about life on the Obama beat. While President Obama sometimes visits with pool reporters on long flights abroad, the conversations tend to be short and measured, as opposed to the gregarious President Clinton, who loved talking politics so much that one now-retired reporter feigned sleep when he saw the president coming to the back of the plane.

Neither the pool reporters nor the president get frequent flier miles on “Air Force One” and the movie “Air Force One” has not been shown on Air Force One. Additionally, the M&M’s and even the tiny tabasco bottles have “Air Force One” stamped on them, and make great gifts at the holidays.

On that day we spent five hours holding at the end of the entrance to the Vineyard Golf Club off the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The Times took an informal poll to see if these journalists, who are some of the best in the world at unearthing the truth, still saw the Island as an “affluent, exclusive enclave,” as so many of them describe it, after spending some time here. The unanimous response was, “Yes.” They were informed that locals bristle at these descriptions, that the average wage on the Island is 70 percent of the state average, that there’s a critical shortage of affordable housing, and that many Islanders are barely making ends meet.

“Really? Where are they?” one reporter asked genuinely. People who see the Vineyard from the point of view of the president can’t be expected to see the full spectrum of Vineyard life, especially when they spend long days wedged in vans and pacing around holding sites.

Hurry up and wait

After the president finished his round of golf, the “Men in Black” convoy sped up Island, and the press promptly went into hold mode again — this time at the Flanders property, a 65-acre former estate of a prosperous whaling captain who was coincidentally also named Flanders. The photographers took photos of horses from every possible angle, while some Secret Service huntsmen looked longingly at the abundant deer and turkey frolicking in the verdant meadows.

After POTUS got cleaned up for dinner, the convoy, this time including a bomb squad truck manned by men with permanent scowls, sped back down Island. After a circuitous route to Oak Bluffs, the president, the first lady, aka FLOTUS, and a few select friends had dinner at The Sweet Life, where the Obamas have often dined.

While the president ate, the pool was escorted to Giordano’s via Kennebec Ave., which required an explanation of the long line at Back Door Donuts and the wonder of a warm apple fritter. The pool members, who have dined at restaurants all over the world, were unanimous in their praise for Gio’s cuisine, especially the meatball parmesan pizza and the lobster ravioli.

The day ended with the pool gathering with hundreds of locals outside The Sweet Life. Just before POTUS and FLOTUS emerged, the bomb squad truck, per security protocol, pulled in front of the crowd gathered on a spit of land between Pequot Ave. and Massasoit Ave. POTUS and FLOTUS left the restaurant to applause, flashing cell phone cameras and about 100 people chanting “Move that truck! Move that truck!”

The press was warned ahead of time that we had to dash to our vans as soon as POTUS got into his car, or risk missing the motorcade. Despite being impaled by a charging soundman brandishing his boom mike like a lance, this reporter managed to make it back to the van in time.

The day ended with the press getting one fleeting glimpse of POTUS and FLOTUS. From a journalistic standpoint, it was a dud. But maybe, just maybe, a reporter will think twice before describing the Vineyard as a playground for the rich and famous.

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In a collaboration among artists and local tech pros.

Ken Vincent and Traeger di Pietro painted together, and Chris Mara projected the process onto the Edgartown Lighthouse. — Photo by Geoff Parkhurst

On the evening of August 17, two Island artists celebrated the Commander and Chief and the first lady using acrylics and a $7,000 telescopic projector. Working side by side at the edge of Edgartown Harbor, Kenneth Vincent and Traeger di Pietro painted a romantic portrait of the Obamas on an easel-mounted canvas. As they did so, their brush strokes were projected over the sand onto the Edgartown Lighthouse thanks to a Sony 5000 lumen telescopic projector loaned by Thomas Bena and Brian Ditchfield, the executive and managing directors of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. Local film technology pro Chris Mara operated the device while Vineyard photographer Geoffrey Parkhurst captured the painting’s progress toward completion in a time-lapse sequence using a Nikon d800e camera. Mr. Mara also operated a Sony XDCAM loaned by Tisbury resident Len Morris, editorial director of Media Voices for Children.

Ken Vincent  at the easel.
Ken Vincent at the easel.

The giant painting projection could easily be seen from the Harbor View Hotel and along North Water Street between 8 and 10 that night. The completed painting was subsequently brought to the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury where it is currently for sale, with the proceeds going to charity.

“Traeger thought it was the perfect subject matter to help us draw attention to our Projected Painting Project and raise money for the causes we were looking to support,” said Mr. Vincent. “Traeger had personal reasons to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I was motivated to help raise funds to support the art program at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School where I teach middle school and high school art.”

Originally the two artists hoped to paint on the brick side of an Edgartown tavern.

_DSC1860.jpg“We were both trying to find a project to collaborate on and we initially thought of asking the Port Hunter to do a mural on their exterior wall,” said Mr. Vincent. “The problem was that the town wouldn’t allow them [the Port Hunter] or us to do that and when we started brainstorming how to get around the town restrictions I suggested using a projector with a live feed camera to project onto the wall. We both realized the potential of the idea and thought if we could do that why not the lighthouse?”

Traeger di Pietro considers the work.
Traeger di Pietro considers the work.

After town administrator Pam Dolby relayed okays from various Edgartown departments and Martha’s Vineyard Museum executive director David Nathan gave his blessing, the artistic duo ran a test projection against the side of Chris Mara’s house. Then they were set to paint large.

“I have always admired Kenneth as a person and as an artist,” Mr. di Pietro said. “We work really great together. He’s more subtle, calm, and technical and I’m more animated, sloppy, and goofy.  We have a blast together and are constantly laughing and making jokes.”

Mr. di Pietro sees bold things ahead for him and Mr. Vincent. “Most definitely we will paint and or create together again,” he said. “Hopefully our next project is the Steamship ferry. We are going to paint the whole Island. Ideally things you would never think were possible.”

The final product.
The final product.

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Beach, dinner and Edgartown antics

Martha's Vineyard artists Traeger di Pietro and Ken Vincent executed this painting of President Barack and Michelle Obama while an assembled crowd watched. Film and video specialist Chris Mara then projected the image onto the Edgartown LIghthouse. — Photo by Chris Mara

And on Saturday, there was no golf. The President and First Lady, referred to by the White House press pool at least, as POTUS (president of the United States) and FLOTUS, went to a private beach on Martha’s Vineyard’s south shore.

The President and First Lady  then returned to their Chilmark rental home to rest and, presumably, rinse the sand off.

The press pool had  a lovely dinner respite at the Homeport Restaurant in Menemsha, reported MV Times staff reporter Steve Myrick, where Chef Josh Aronie got seafood orders out for hungry poolers on a tight deadline.

The first couple moved on to State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, a frequent stop during their Vineyard vacations, where they dined with friends.

Meanwhile, in Edgartown, there were antics afoot at the lighthouse, where, according to Times correspondent Rich Saltzberg, well-known Island artists Ken Vincent and Traeger di Pietro collaborated on a portrait of President and Michelle Obama. During the entire process, film and video specialist Chris Mara projected the work in progress onto the lighthouse, to the cheers of the assembled.

 

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A perfect day for a bike ride in the State Forest.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

On another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President Obama, Michelle and daughter Malia behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents —  and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Obama departed his vacation home in Chilmark at 11:18 am for West Tisbury, according to pool press reports. The motorcade arrived at a bike path in West Tisbury at 11:38 am and the Obamas and their security contingent pedaled away.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting sighting of the bicycle-riding Obama family. Mr. Obama, the First Lady and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Michelle Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black T-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks and black Nikes. All donned bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the president and family for only seconds as they continued to make their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

First Lady Michelle Obama.
First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip since Saturday to the popular Oak Bluffs Course. Today’s golf partners, according to the White House are: Glenn Hutchins, Cyrus Walker and Robert Wolf.

The State Forest was created in 1908 in an effort to save a dwindling population population of heath hens. Only 45 remained on Earth at the time. The State Forest has since expanded to 5,343 acres and the heath hen is extinct.

 

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The commander-in-chief racked up 72 holes of golf in his first four days on Island and the family spent some time at the beach.

President Obama is all smiles as golfing partner Ahmad Rashad congratulates him on sinking a putt at Farm Neck golf course. — The Boston Globe

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia, along with first dogs Bo and Sunny, arrived by helicopter at Martha’s Vineyard Airport Saturday for the start of a two-week vacation. The Obamas’ youngest daughter, Sasha, was not on Air Force One, but a White House spokesperson said she would be joining the family later.

Waitresses wave out the window of Bangkok Cuisine at people trying to spot President Obama, who dined at The Sweet Life Cafe just next door.
Waitresses wave out the window of Bangkok Cuisine at people trying to spot President Obama, who dined at The Sweet Life Cafe just next door.

Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election. Past presidential vacation activities have included golf, bike trips with the family, golf, dinners with friends, and golf. A White House pool reporter from a major wire service told a reporter from the Times that when he is in Washington, the president plays golf at least once every weekend.

The public was not allowed to welcome the Obamas at the airport, but well-wishers were frequent along the motorcade route to the president’s rented Chilmark estate. The commander-in-chief quickly changed into his golf clothes and was on the first tee at Farm Neck golf course in Oak Bluffs within an hour of his arrival. The president’s foursome that day included former football star and broadcaster Ahmad Rashad, Cyrus Walker, a cousin of White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Ray Allen, the longtime Boston Celtics star who later took his talents to Miami. After the round, the president did not disclose his score, citing executive privilege.

On Sunday, the president played a second round of golf at Farm Neck. His foursome included Mr. Walker, Mr. Rashad, and financier friend Robert Wolf. After the round, the president stayed in for the night.

President Obama waves to the throng of onlookers after leaving The Sweet Life Cafe, where he dined with his wife Michelle, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, Former Ambassador Ron Kirk and their spouses.
President Obama waves to the throng of onlookers after leaving The Sweet Life Cafe, where he dined with his wife Michelle, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, Former Ambassador Ron Kirk and their spouses.

As with all presidential movements, security is everywhere. Earlier that day, Island fisherman in search of bonito by boat off the brickyard were shooed away by a crew from a Coast Guard cutter stationed off the Island’s north shore, just east of the Obama’s vacation house. Fortunately for the fishermen, bonito have been scarce this year, or the situation could have ended badly.

On Monday, the president began the day with a phone call to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko about the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Obama expressed his strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi about the latest developments in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine, as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, according to White House reports.

In the surprise story of the day, the president did not play golf. Instead, he went to the beach with the First Lady and Malia. The first family went to one of the private beaches only accessible by Pohoganot Road, in Edgartown, where property owners include the Flynn family, for generations the largest landowners of Pohoganot Farm and surrounding property at Edgartown Great Pond, Andrew and Pamela Kohlberg, children of Jerome Kohlberg who owns the Vineyard Gazette, Robert Levine, and Richard L. Friedman, an investor who hosted President Bill Clinton when he vacationed on the Vineyard.

That evening the president attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event hosted by Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason at their home in Tisbury. Tickets to the fundraiser ranged from $15,000 to $32,400. President Obama entered the event to a singer belting out “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Mr. Obama told the crowd of approximately 50 donors that he had called new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to offer his support and congratulations on his election. He reiterated that there is no American military solution to the problem and that Iraq must form an inclusive government. He said the day’s developments were a “promising step forward” in a “critical effort.”

Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque lets paramedic Traci Monteith experiment with his camera during downtime in the Presidential press pool.
Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque lets paramedic Traci Monteith experiment with his camera during downtime in the Presidential press pool.

The president began his day on Tuesday by declaring a major disaster in Washington state in response to recent wildfires. The president then played a four and a half round of golf at the very exclusive Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. That evening, he and Michelle Obama dined at The Sweet Life restaurant in Oak Bluffs, one of his favorite stops on the Vineyard. The first couple were joined by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Ambassador Ron Kirk, and their respective spouses.

The Obamas’ presence electrified Circuit Ave. and a crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the restaurant as they ate. The Obamas were greeted by loud cheers as they left the restaurant. There was also a crowd chanting “Move that truck!” to the Secret Service bomb squad, which had blocked their view upon the president’s exit from the restaurant, per security protocol.

Rainy, stormy weather on Wednesday kept Mr. Obama indoors and apparently on the phone. The White House reported that he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and discussed by phone the ongoing negotiations in Cairo to achieve a sustainable ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed United States support for Egypt’s mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel’s security and addresses Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, according to a news release.

Mr. Obama chose not to attend an afternoon book signing by Hillary Clinton at the Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven. Ms. Clinton’s sharp criticism of the president’s foreign policy earlier this week in The Atlantic magazine made their expected attendance Wednesday night a topic of much conversation by political pundits. President Obama and his former Secretary of State are on the guest list for an 80th birthday party tonight thrown by Vernon Jordan, the longtime Clinton pal and Washington insider, at the Farm Neck Golf Club for his wife, Ann Jordan.

According to a White House press release, the president will travel back to Washington on Sunday, August 17. He is tentatively scheduled to return to the Island on Tuesday, August 19.

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Iraq caps a day at the beach

President Obama delivered a statement on Iraq from his vacation home in Chilmark Monday. — Mark Alan Lovewell for the Vineyard Gazette

Late this afternoon, President Obama, dressed in a navy blazer, dark grey pants and a blue collared shirt with no tie, issued a brief statement on Iraq. Standing in a small clearing, flanked by trees and sweeping water views on the other side, Mr. Obama said he called new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to offer his support and congratulations, according to press pool reports.

Mr. Obama reiterated that there is no American military solution to the problem and that Iraq must form an inclusive government. Today’s developments are a “promising step forward” in what he called a “critical effort.”

​President Obama said over the past few days American forces have successfully completed targeted airstrikes to “prevent terrorist forces from advancing on the city of Irbil.” Mr. Obama said humanitarian efforts have continued to members of a minority sect trapped on a mountain and that a USAID disaster response team is now involved in the mission.

Mr. Obama said aircraft remain “positioned to strike terrorist forces” around the mountain that threaten the safety of the people on it.

Mr. Obama said the new leadership has a “difficult task” and must regain the trust of its people. He said the United States “stands ready to support” a government that addresses the needs of all Iraqi people.

Mr. Obama said these have been “difficult days” in Iraq and that the U.S. will remain vigilant to the threat posed by ISIS.

At 5:30 pm, President Obama left his vacation house to attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event hosted by Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason, in Tisbury. The DSCC said tickets to the fundraiser ranged from $15,000 to $32,400.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Mason founded Bright Horizons, a child-care provider. Ms. Mason is also a chairman of MercyCorps.

President Obama walked under a white tent to a singer belting out “Signed, Sealed Delivered.” Guests including Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Michael Bennett sat around round tables with green tablecloths and centerpieces of yellow and white flowers.

Mr. Obama told the assembled guests that with the help of a strong Democratic Senate, “We were able to right the ship.”
He said, “When I first came into office, we were then losing 800,000 jobs a month. We now are seeing the lowest unemployment claim since 2006 — the largest drop this past year in unemployment in 30 years. We’ve seen the deficit cut by more than half. We’ve seen the stock market rise so that people fully recovered their 401(k)s. We’ve seen corporate profits booming. Our energy production at unprecedented levels. Solar production 10 times what it was when I came into office; wind power three times what it was when I came into office. We’ve reduced our carbon by more than any nation on Earth. The housing market has recovered. And it’s worth noting that we also have several million people who didn’t have health care before that now have affordable care that they can count on,” according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

Mr. Obama said we are seeing around the world incredible challenges, “many of them all coming to a head at the same time.”
But he added, “I do want to point out, though, at a time when the news seems filled with news of Ukraine and Gaza and Ebola and you name it, that in every instance people are constantly interested in finding out how can America help solve these problems. And there’s a reason for that. Because despite the complaints and the second-guessing, and the anti-American sentiment that you hear sometimes on television around the globe, when there’s an actual problem they all recognize we’re the one indispensable nation. They all recognize that our leadership is absolutely critical. And that’s true both for challenges and opportunities.”

Delving into the homefront he said, “And I think it’s fair to say that the one area where we haven’t seen as much improvement as I would have liked is getting a Congress that is focused not on the next election, but on the next generation; that is serious about how do we grow an economy so that middle-class folks and folks who want to get into the middle class have opportunity.”

“What’s preventing us from getting things done right now is you’ve got a faction within the Republican Party that thinks solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power. And that’s a problem. And that’s why I need a Democratic Senate. Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate.”

Mr. Obama urged democrats to get excited about the midterms elections. “We get real excited about presidential elections. We lose sight of the importance of elections in the midterm,” he said.

Mr. Obama returned to his Chilmark house early in the evening.

Earlier, on a perfect summer beach day, after another late start, President Obama decided to go to the beach.

The press pool reported that the motorcade departed the Chilmark vacation house off North Road at 12:40 pm bound for Edgartown. The uneventful 21-minute ride took the motorcade past verdant fields, clapboard houses and one animated woman who threw the motorcade the Shaka sign, a Hawaiian hand signal – the ultimate symbol of aloha and local culture in Hawaii and interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” according to a website that specializes in Hawaiian culture.

The motorcade turned down Pohoganut Road in Edgartown at about 1:02 p.m. for the beach, leaving the press pool in its dust and parked by a state forest fire lane on Edgartown-West Tisbury road.

Pohoganut Road leads to a series of roads that provide access to private beaches that stretch between Edgartown Great Pond and Oyster Pond. Property owners include the Flynn family, for generations the largest landowners of Pohogonot Farm and surrounding property at Jobs Neck and Edgartown Great Pond, Andrew and Pamela Kohlberg, children of Jerome Kohlberg, owner of the Vineyard Gazette, Robert Levine, and Richard L. Friedman, the real estate investor and former host of President Bill Clinton when he vacationed on the Vineyard.

President Obama left the beach at 3:30 pm. The pool reported it was unclear if the rest of the family stayed behind to enjoy the beach a bit longer.

This morning, the White House reported, the President spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine. President Obama expressed his strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a press statement. The two leaders agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine without the formal, express consent and authorization of the Ukraine government would be unacceptable and a violation of international law. President Poroshenko also noted the continued shelling of Ukraine’s territory from Russia. President Poroshenko updated the President on his engagement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the effort to deliver multilateral humanitarian aid to the distressed populations in eastern Ukraine. The President noted the urgency of such humanitarian efforts and encouraged President Poroshenko to continue to exercise restraint and caution in military operations in order to avoid civilian casualties. In light of the ongoing violence and instability, the President and President Poroshenko agreed that all parties should prioritize diplomatic efforts toward finding a political resolution to the crisis.

The President also spoke this morning with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi about the latest developments in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine, as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House reported. On Iraq, the two leaders agreed on the need to ensure humanitarian assistance is reaching vulnerable Iraqis, continue to seek the safety of the civilians on Mount Sinjar, and work together to develop options that will secure the safety of the civilians on Mount Sinjar. Renzi expressed his support for the United States’ efforts in Iraq. Both leaders noted the urgency of efforts to counter the threat ISIL poses against all Iraqis and discussed the latest developments in Iraq’s political transition.

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The President and First Lady arrive at Martha's Vineyard Airport and head up-Island.

President Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Martha's Vineyard Airport about 12:45 PM on Saturday. — Michael Cummo

Updated, 12:55 pm, Saturday, August 9.

The President has arrived with his wife, Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia. The motorcade that will accompany them to their vacation home on Prospect Hill in Chilmark has 21 vehicles, including two press vans, an ambulance and State Police vehicles and one Osprey helicopter carrying about a dozen security people wearing bullet proof vests. Marine One and Marine Two were also present.
According to pool reports, by 12:50 the first family was on their way up-Island to Chilmark.

Posted 12:30 pm, Saturday, August 9.

The helicopter holding the White House Traveling Press Corps arrives at MV Airport.
The helicopter holding the White House Traveling Press Corps arrives at MV Airport.

At 11:24 am on Saturday, President Obama’s family vacation began when Air Force One rolled off down the runway at Andrews Air Force Base, bound for Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, according to White House Press Pool reporter Colleen Nelson of the Wall Street Journal.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama boarded and joined The First Dogs, Sunny and Bo, who had boarded earlier, and will be enjoying the Martha’s Vineyard vacation along with the First Family.

A gorgeous day awaits the family on Martha’s Vineyard. At midday, the temperature was 78 degrees and sunny, with low humidity. The next few days look to be much of the same, with no prospect of rain until Wednesday, August 13. The Island at this time of year is full of things to do: Book signings (Hillary Clinton at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Wednesday, August 13), the Islanders Write Event on Monday the 11th at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, Farmers Markets, Artisans Fairs, The Moth Event…There’s even a lot of opportunity to do nothing, or barely: Great Island Walks (Islanders’ favorite walks, here), bike rides (Local favorites here), fishing,   golf  and reading (Local Writers favorite books, and their latest published books).

press-pool
The local press pool, awaiting the President and first Lady’s arrival at MV Airport.

After landing at Otis, the First Family and dogs boarded Marine One for the helicopter flight to Martha’s Vineyard. Expected arrival is about 12:45 PM. Waiting to greet them are about eight pool reporters and photographers, including MVTimes Photo Editor Michael Cummo.

Times staff reporter Steve Myrick has written about how the pool works, here.

For Island Arts events, go to mvartsandideas.com/events.

Follow our Good Taste Twitter feed for local favorites and specials: @GoodTasteMV

 

 

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Golf, and more golf.

The Presidential motorcade makes its way up-Island Island from Farm Neck Golf Club, Sunday evening, with President Barack Obama. — Jonathan Wiggs, The Boston Globe

The presidential vacation got off to a late start Sunday. At approximately 1:10 pm, under blue skies and with barely a breeze wafting across the up-Island fields, President Obama’s motorcade left his Chilmark vacation home and took a circuitous route to Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, arriving at 1:33 pm.

The drive across the Island was an uneventful ride past wooded hills, cedar-shingled homes and a farm stand, pool reporter Kathleen Hennessey of the LA Times reported. A woman on a scooter honked enthusiastically as the presidential motorcade rode by. One man, a beach towel hanging around his neck, thrust his fist in the air.

According to pool reports filed by MV Times reporter Steve Myrick, the President’s playing partners today are Cyrus Walker, the cousin of White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett; sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, and friend Robert Wolf. This is the second consecutive day the president has played Farm Neck.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama was joined by Mr. Walker, Mr. Rashad, and NBA shooting guard Ray Allen. Allen most recently played for the Miami Heat, but was a Boston Celtic for years before that.

At 6:31 p.m., the motorcade rolled out of Farm Neck Golf Club, heading back up-Island. A small group gathered at the entrance to the course, many taking pictures of the motorcade with phone cameras. The road show returned to the Chilmark vacation rental at 7 p.m. and the press pool was dismissed for the night.

Farm Neck Golf Club has an 18-hole championship course that many consider of championship caliber, with beautiful views of Nantucket Sound.

A fisherman waiting to meet up with friends at Tashmoo landing Sunday told Times editor and fishing columnist Nelson Sigelman that they went in search of bonito by boat off the brickyard Saturday but never got close. The Coast Guard shooed them away. The brickyard, on the Island’s north shore, is just east of the Obama’s vacation house.  A Coast Guard cutter appears to be anchored in Vineyard Sound just off the beach, apparently to provide marine security.

Times staff reporter Steve Myrick has written about how the pool works, here. The press vans are from MV Transportation LLC.

The next few days look to be much of the same gorgeous weather, with no prospect of rain until Wednesday, August 13. The Island at this time of year is full of things to do: Book signings (Hillary Clinton at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Wednesday, August 13), the Islanders Write Event on Monday the 11th at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, Farmers Markets, Artisans Fairs, The Moth Event…There’s even a lot of opportunity to do nothing, or barely: Great Island Walks (Islanders’ favorite walks, here), bike rides (Local favorites here), fishing,   golf  and reading (Local Writers favorite books, and their latest published books).

For Island Arts events, go to mvartsandideas.com/events.

Follow our Good Taste Twitter feed for local favorites and specials: @GoodTasteMV

Yesterday’s Obama Vacation Beat is here.

 

 

On Saturday, Martha’s Vineyard will welcome President Barack Obama and his family back to the Island for what has become, save for one election year during his presidency, an annual summer vacation ritual. The Obamas could chose any number of vacation spots to visit, each with its own political calculus. Islanders may take pride that the first family has returned year after year, and see in their return visits an endorsement of the many qualities of Island living those who live here year-round, and seasonally, work so hard in a variety of different ways to preserve.

In that sense, the Obamas are no different from the thousands of other families Islanders welcome back in August. They return for the natural beauty of the shoreline and landscape and the sense of community that still prevails, whether it is a small gathering on an Oak Bluffs porch or taking in the Ag Fair and Illumination Night.

With Martha’s Vineyard once again the scenic backdrop for a presidential vacation we can expect that some members of the media will once again trot out all the well worn references to wealth, celebrity and power. It is so much more fun to sell the Vineyard to the rest of the world as an enclave of the elite.

Yes, there is no Motel 6, no Happy Meals. And it costs plenty to rent a house with a waterview in Chilmark for two weeks. Or buy a key to a private up-Island beach.

But if past visits provide any indication of how they will spend their time, Mr. Obama and his family will pretty much enjoy vacation on the Vineyard the same way other families do, although with much less fanfare and attention. There will be visits to the beach and golf courses, bike rides, and shopping, and dinners with friends at Island restaurants and in the intimate surroundings of Island homes.

And that Chilmark waterview of Vineyard Sound? It is accessible to anyone who wants to take a hike through the Menemsha Hills Reservation, owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations. And the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank welcomes the public to swim, shellfish, hike, bike and horseback ride on many of its more than 70 properties comprising more than 3,000 acres. No key needed.

And if August visitors, including President Obama, members of his coterie, and the visiting media want to take a vacation detour, they could catch a glimpse of the other Martha’s Vineyard, the one more recognizable to the majority of Americans than the celebrity media tripe.

At the offices of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority in Vineyard Haven, executive director David Vigneault could describe the plight of some of the more than 270 people currently on his waitlist for an affordable rental.

In the adjacent office of the Island Housing Trust, executive director Phillip Jordi can describe the challenge to provide homeownership opportunities on an Island where the average median income for homeowners is $64,000 and the median cost of a house is more than $500,000.

More than one waitress or waiter would likely be able to describe what it is like to work several jobs and shuffle between affordable winter and excessive summer rentals just to survive.

Sarah Kuh, director of the Vineyard Health Care Access Programs, could describe the effort to provide quality health care on an island where many people are self-employed.

On Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs or Main Street in Vineyard Haven, Island business owners are just as concerned about many of the things business owners on Main Streets across America worry about, and that includes the costs to provide health insurance to employees in Massachusetts, and subsidize those who do not provide it.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services in Oak Bluffs, the Island’s umbrella social services agency, provides a glimpse of the other side of the summer postcard — the not-so-pretty picture of Islanders set against a backdrop of substance and domestic abuse. As a recent series of six reports by reporter Barry Stringfellow described, Martha’s Vineyard is not immune to the ravages of opiate abuse and addiction.

Six Islanders have died of opiate overdose since August 2013, according to Dr. Charles Silberstein, psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Island-wide, there was one heroin arrest in 2012 and 10 heroin arrests in 2013; in 2012 there were 13 arrests for oxycodone and percocet pills, in 2013 there were 15 arrests.

The national political debate about drug policy and punishment has real meaning to Island families affected by this scourge. A day spent in Edgartown District Court speaking to those on the front lines of the battle would provide some perspective.

No need to travel to the border to confront the immigration debate. Brazilian workers, some legal — their actual number is a cause of speculation — fill a considerable number of jobs on Martha’s Vineyard. Their contribution is unmistakable, but it comes with a cost.

We welcome our August visitors to Martha’s Vineyard. It is a great place to live, not as elite as some make it out to be, and for those who call it home, not every day is a day at the beach.