Archive for February 2nd, 2011



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WSJ: The Senate on Wednesday voted 51-47 against repealing the health-care overhaul but approved a measure eliminating a tax requirement that had irked small businesses.

All of the chamber’s Democrats who were present and one independent who caucuses with them voted against it, and every Republican voted for it…

Wednesday’s voting produced a small change to the health law, though. The Senate voted 81-17 to remove a piece of the law that calls for businesses to file a 1099 tax form when they pay a vendor more than $600 in a year.

President Barack Obama has indicated he would sign the tax-change measure, and the House already approved a similar bill. The change will be the most significant so far to the law, designed to expand insurance to 32 million Americans.

….Wednesday’s vote against repeal means that a Republican repeal bill, which passed the House last month, is now effectively dead in Congress.

Two senators, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, missed the day’s votes.


Meanwhile Ronald Reagan’s former Solicitor General, Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, and New York University law professor Rick Hills (a “registered Republican and outspoken conservative”), believe the health care mandate is constitutional – which is bad news for Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson in Florida.


this will warm your heart….

A Twitter message today from Mark Kelly about his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords – there are no reports yet on the exact nature of the progress, but sounds good ;-)


john & joe

Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


mccain in the oval office! (well, for 30 minutes)

Reuters: President Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain, bitter rivals from the 2008 election campaign whose feud festered for two years, completed a thaw Wednesday when they sat down for Oval Office talks.

Obama’s defeat of McCain in the 2008 presidential election left sour feelings on both sides that lingered through Obama’s first two years in office.

Events surrounding the shooting a month ago of Democratic lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords of McCain’s home state of Arizona helped improve ties between the two leaders.

Obama’s appeal at a memorial service in Tucson for a renewed era of civility between politicians in Washington drew praise from McCain in a Washington Post opinion article.

…A White House official said the half-hour meeting arose after they spoke by phone to discuss McCain’s Post article.

“Senator McCain had indicated that he wanted to discuss a number of important issues with the president, and the president was eager to see him,” the official said. More here


“Bitter” rivals? Only one of these men is bitter, and it sure ain’t the President ;-)


‘how the white house approached egyptian turmoil’

Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic): A few months after Barack Obama took office, CIA analysts monitoring the Middle East received an unusual request from the National Security Council. The president had appreciated the in-depth country profiles the intelligence community had prepared for him to read. But there was something missing. The white papers all assessed what various groups within each country didn’t like about the United States – but there was very little about what they admired. So that’s what Obama wanted to know: What do Yemenis, Qataris and Egyptians like about the U.S.?

The answer, in the case of Egypt, was the American education system. The competition for visas to study inside the U.S., particularly among those with a bent toward the hard sciences, was fierce. And it was considered a point of pride for a family member to brag about his brother studying overseas.

The National Security Council and the State Department turned this nugget of insight into policy: Obama would expand the number of educational visas available to qualified Egyptian students. The State Department would increase its direct outreach to Egyptians; it would hold entrepreneurship and science summits, and would convene gatherings of Egyptians to meet with visiting American scientists. 

As the White House’s focus turned to Egypt late last week, the aspirations of young Egyptians were very much on the president’s mind … After Tunisia, the intelligence community, the diplomatic community and the White House all anticipated that protests would spread …. Egypt was simply the most logical candidate for unrest….

Full article here

BWD posted this article on The Only Adult In The Room – and if you read it you’ll see why ‘The Only Adult In The Room’ is so appropriate. It’s absolutely fascinating, a real insight in to how the President is dealing with this crisis as carefully and thoughtfully as possible.

Meanwhile, the media bleats cluelessly, completely ignorant of just how delicate this situation is, or how far-reaching the consequences might be in the Middle East. Unless the President announces he’s nuking Mubarak and/or the Muslim Brotherhood they’ll conclude he’s not being pro-active enough. Aw, sounds, like they’re lonesome for Bush.

Did you hear them whinging today at Robert Gibbs’ press conference? The President isn’t being made available to them to answer questions on how he’s responding to the crisis! So, the most critical thing here – more critical than the future of Egypt! – is that the President reveal to Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and their buddies the nature of the careful work being done behind the scenes? Right.


weather report

President Barack Obama is updated on the severe winter storm currently moving across the country during a phone call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the Oval Office, Feb. 2. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


a great start

President Barack Obama signs the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 2. Looking on are Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry and Senator Richard Lugar

Six short years ago ….

During the August recess of 2005, Richard Lugar and freshman Senator Barack Obama visited Russia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine  to inspect nuclear facilities there. In January 2007, President Bush signed into law the Lugar-Obama Proliferation and Threat Reduction Initiative

Check the microphones, the media didn’t seem too interested in what the freshman senator had to say then :-)

Baku, Ajerbaijan August, 2005. Photo: Pete Souza

More photos from that 2005 trip, all by Pete Souza:

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Inside a dismantled nuclear missile. Photo: Pete Souza


‘there’s always demagoguery to wage and paranoia to fuel’

David Corn (Politics Daily): It’s been thrilling to watch millions of people rise up and call for free expression and democracy in Egypt. The collective courage of the demonstrators has been inspiring……but on Planet Beck and in other conservative quarters, the Egyptian revolution, sadly, has become just another vehicle for Obama-bashing.

Since the start of this uprising, President Obama has handled the matter well, demonstrating prudence while still adhering to principles. He has walked a fine line. The president inherited a three-decade-long relationship with Hosni Mubarak, which on several fronts worked to the United States’ advantage….

The possible consequences of Obama throwing Mubarak under the bus at the get-go were stark …. yet Obama could not risk being on the wrong side of this popular rebellion –  Nor did he want to be. So he praised the protesters and acknowledged that their gripes were important and fully legitimate – and he warned Mubarak and the military not to harm them. At the same time he nudged Mubarak toward fundamental change.

In public, Obama and his aides were firm without being fiery. They responsibly concocted careful phrases … behind the scenes, Obama officials were leaning on Mubarak to develop an exit strategy. Shortly after Mubarak announced on Tuesday night that he would not run for “reelection” in the September election … Obama declared that “an orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now.” In other words, Mubarak’s statement was not good enough.

The Egyptian crisis is far from over; Obama and his team can hardly be fully judged. But to date, they have represented the United States well. In fact, Republican leaders in Congress have not been complaining. Yet the Obama Hate Machine has seized on the Egyptian uprising as another opportunity to slam the president….…it never takes a vacation. But its eager exploitation of the uprising in Egypt cheapens the stirring images of those brave Egyptian citizens seeking democracy and the right of free expression. This is no surprise. There’s always demagoguery to wage and paranoia to fuel.

Full article here

Egyptian anti-government protesters gathered in Tahrir (Liberation) square, watch a screen showing U.S. President Barack Obama live on a TV broadcast from Washington DC, speaking about the situation in Egypt, Feb. 2


getting there

Economic Times: Private businesses in the United States added 187,000 jobs in January, starting the year with gains across major industries, private payrolls firm ADP said Wednesday. The increase topped the average analyst forecast of 145,000 new private-sector jobs.

The January number marked a slowdown from December’s revised 247,000, initially reported as 297,000. The latest report “suggests solid growth of private nonfarm payroll employment heading into the New Year,” ADP said in a statement.

“The recent pattern of rising employment gains since the middle of last year appears to be intact, as the average gain over December and January – 217,000 – is well above the average gain over the prior six months – 52,000,” it said.

Strength in job creation was seen within all major industries and across all size business tracked, the company added.

The ADP report came amid concerns that high unemployment will continue to hold back the economy’s struggling recovery through the year. Friday’s government jobs data is expected to show the unemployment rate in January ticked up one-tenth point to 9.5 percent.

CNN: A separate report showed planned job cuts increased in January, which is not unusual for the first month of the year. But it was the lowest number of January job cuts on record.


‘dispatches from sudan’







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