Archive for January 31st, 2013

31
Jan
13

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@BarackObama

31
Jan
13

Chat Away

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Chuck Hagel, Amman, Jordan, July 22, 2008

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31
Jan
13

Rise and Shine

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Bloomberg: Consumer spending in the U.S. climbed in December as incomes grew by the most in eight years, a sign the biggest part of the economy was contributing to the expansion as the year drew to a close.

Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, rose 0.2 percent after a 0.4 percent gain the prior month, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 72 economists called for a 0.3 percent rise. Incomes rose 2.6 percent, pushing the saving rate up to a more than three-year high.

More here

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Greg Sargent: Perhaps the most important moment so far in today’s Senate Judiciary hearing on guns came when astronaut Mark Kelly directly confronted NRA head Wayne LaPierre over the shooting of his wife, Gabrielle Giffords …. LaPierre’s argument was completely unmasked for the sham that it is.

During the hearing, LaPierre repeatedly voiced the talking point that there’s no need to expand the background check system because criminals don’t cooperate with background checks. Kelly responded:

“The Tucson shooter was an admitted drug user. He was rejected from the U.S. Army because of his drug use. He was clearly mentally ill. And when he purchased that gun in November, his plan was to assassinate my wife and commit mass murder at that Safeway in Tucson. He was a criminal …. but because of these gaps in the mental health system, in this case, those 121,000 records, I admit did not include a record on him. But it could have. And if it did, he would have failed that background check. ….”

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MinnPost: President Obama’s Monday visit to Minneapolis will be to “discuss with local leaders and law enforcement officials his comprehensive set of common-sense ideas to reduce gun violence,” according to a White House spokesperson.

“Minneapolis is a city [that] has taken important steps to reduce gun violence and foster a conversation in the community about what further action is needed,” White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm said in a statement. “President Obama will visit with members of the community about their experiences and discuss additional steps that can be taken at the federal level to reduce gun violence.”

….. No word yet on where or when the Obama event will take place, or what the format will be.

Full post here

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Dana Milbank: Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s chief executive, arrived for his hearing on Capitol Hill in the organization’s trademark fashion: violently.

When he and his colleagues stepped off the elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning and found TV cameras waiting in the hallway, LaPierre’s bodyguards swung into action. One of them, in blatant violation of congressional rules, bumped and body-checked journalists out of the way so they couldn’t film LaPierre or question him as he walked.

“You don’t have jurisdiction here!” a cameraman protested as an NRA goon pushed him against a wall. After the melee, congressional officials informed the NRA officials that, in the halls of Congress, they had to follow congressional procedures — which prohibit manhandling.

Full post here

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This undated family photo shows 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago. Hadiya was shot and killed when a gunman opened fire while she was hanging out with friends on the warm rainy afternoon under a shelter in the park. Hadiya was a majorette in her high school band and recently performed in Washington, D.C. during the inauguration. President Obama’s Chicago home is less than a mile from the park where Hadiya was killed

Nate Pendleton comforts his son Nathaniel, 10, as they listen to speakers at a press conference in a neighborhood park where Nate’s daughter Hadiya was killed on January 30 in Chicago

Cleopatra Pendelton talks with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy before a news conference seeking help from the public in solving the murder of Pendelton’s daughter Hadiya

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton holds the hand of her ten-year-old son as they listen to speakers during an event with police and community leaders at a neighborhood park where her daughter Hadiya was killed

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NYT: If ever there were a moment for Democrats to press their political advantage, this is it. Their message on many of the biggest national issues — taxes, guns, education spending, financial regulation — has widespread support, and they have increased their numbers in both houses of Congress. But after years of being out-yelled by strident right-wing ideologues, too many in the Democratic Party still have a case of nerves, afraid of bold action and forthright principles.

That’s particularly evident in the Senate, which the party controls. Last week, Democrats had a rare opportunity to change the Senate’s rules by majority vote and reduce the routine abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, which has allowed a minority to slow progress to a crawl. But there weren’t enough Democrats to support real reform, so a disappointing half-measure was approved. The reason was fear: Fear that they might return to the minority one day, fear that a weakened filibuster might hurt them, fear that Republicans might change the rules to the disadvantage of Democrats if they regain a majority.

More here

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Senators Jack Reed, Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel, Kuwait, 2008

NYT: President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning for what is likely to be a combative confirmation hearing focusing on Iran, Israel and the American military’s role in the world. White House officials say they remain confident about his prospects.

Mr. Hagel, who has gone through three “murder boards,” or mock hearings, in preparation for the real one, has met with nearly 60 members of the Senate. He has spent the past three weeks working out of a modest transition office down the hall from the office of the man he hopes to succeed, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, in the Pentagon E-ring, the corridor with sweeping views of the Potomac River and Washington.

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Charles Pierce: …. if you want to see the walking, living, sweating, mewling manifestation of still runnin’ a’skeered, take a gander these days at Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. This is a man with the gallows in his eyes, Because he hasn’t been entirely insane, and because South Carolina’s wingbits have been deprived of their real campeon de loco, Jim DeMint, and because of, you know, that conspicuous longtime bachelorhood issue, Graham has become something of a target…..

I mention all this because he’s going to get a crack at Chuck Hagel on Thursday, which may bring about the mother of all public tantrums. Somebody give him a cookie and then primary him, just to put him out of his misery.

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TPM: Here’s how the Obama administration wants the Obamacare individual mandate to work.

The IRS and Department of Health and Human Services proposed new rules Wednesday pertaining to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that uninsured taxpayers purchase health insurance, and expanded the circumstances under which Americans may receive an exemption from the so-called “individual mandate.”

Churches, illegal immigrants, incarcerated individuals and members of Native American communities are excluded from the individual mandate, which takes effect in 2014….

More here

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Bloomberg: Calm down. Yes, the U.S. economy surprisingly shrank in the fourth quarter at a 0.1 percent annual rate, weaker than any economist had forecast … But let’s look under the hood. The overall number disguises strong consumer spending and business investment in equipment and software, which zoomed upward.

You could even say the strength of consumer spending and business capital expenditures is the bigger surprise, more than the contraction. Why? Because the fourth quarter also featured a bitter presidential contest and a Washington battle royale over the fiscal cliff, both of which dampened consumer and corporate confidence.

The healthy consumption and business investment pictures were bolstered by another report out today showing that the labor market continues to heal. Companies took on more workers than expected in January, with an increase of 192,000, according to the ADP Research Institute.

Two factors were largely responsible for the poor GDP showing: a steep decline in government spending, especially on defense, and in the growth of business inventories. Combined, they took 2.6 percentage points out of GDP…..

Full post here

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Steve Benen: One of top Politico stories of the day tells readers that, in the wake of yesterday’s economic news, President Obama has a “GDP problem.” After noting that the drop in economic growth was “largely due to a drop in government spending,” the article adds:

Nonetheless, the politics are unambiguously terrible for Barack Obama … and it gave an adrenal jolt to the a GOP messaging establishment left supine by the Mitt Romney mirage and recent soul-searchy infighting.

Politico’s report added that Democrats “will try to spin” the news, but the party’s “narrative” is “not very convincing” and burdened by “weakness.”

It’s almost as if facts, evidence, reason, and a cursory understanding of economic policy no longer matters at all. In reality, the economy shrank a little in the last quarter because of spending cuts, but the party demanding more spending cuts has suddenly received “an adrenal jolt”…..

More here

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BarackObama.com

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ThinkProgress: 5 Reasons To Be Optimistic The Republican Election-Rigging Plan Is Dead (And 3 Reasons It’s Not)

Two weeks ago, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus called upon “states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red” to consider a Republican plan to rig future presidential races……

Six states potentially fit Priebus’ description of a blue state that is currently controlled by Republicans — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. To date, senior Republicans in four of these states have either voted down the plan or indicated that it will not be taken up in the first place, and the governor of a fifth state has expressed concerns about the plan…

More here

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