Archive for January, 2014

31
Jan
14

Chat Away

Feb. 1, 2012: President Obama holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office.” (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Chat on, night owls!

31
Jan
14

News Of The Day

Pete Souza: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House

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Chicago Sun-Times: Foundation Launched To Pick Site For Obama Presidential Library

The first steps toward building President Barack Obama’s library and museum were announced on Friday with the launch of a foundation to oversee the competitive selection process with the target date of picking a site early in 2015. Martin Nesbitt, Obama’s close friend who will run the effort with two other Obama associates, told me in an interview they are committed to a “thoughtful, consistent, fair and transparent” process with the ultimate choice left to Obama and first lady Michelle. “We have no preconceived idea about what these proposals will look like. We want to create a blank canvass, create sort of a white canvas with some guiding principles that allow people to respond in a thoughtful and creative way and we will evaluate them when they come in,” Nesbitt said.

Incorporation papers for the newly created Barack H. Obama Foundation were filed Friday in Washington, D.C. The foundation is led by Chicagoan Nesbitt, the co-CEO of The Vistria Group and treasurer of Obama’s two White House campaigns; Julianna Smoot, a co-chair of the 2012 re-election bid and the 2008 National Finance Director and J. Kevin Poorman, the Wilmette businessman who took over several companies run by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when she stepped down to join Obama’s cabinet. Obama asked Nesbitt to take on the duty of running the foundation last summer, and I broke the news that Nesbitt and Smoot would helm a foundation last July.

More here

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Terry Tang: Tape Of Martin Luther King Jr. Ariz. Speech Found

Mary Scanlon had no idea a $3 purchase from a Goodwill store in Phoenix would turn out to be a rare link to the civil rights movement’s most revered leader. Last April, Scanlon was at the thrift store when she spotted a pile of 35 vintage reel-to-reel tapes, including one labeled with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. Despite the moldy and torn packaging, she snapped up all of them. “I didn’t really necessarily have any expectation that this tape would be rare,” Scanlon said. Arizona State University archivists have found that tape is the only known recording of speeches the slain civil rights leader gave at ASU and at a Phoenix church in June 1964.

The hour-long audio has since been digitized and is now available for listening on ASU’s website through June 30. The tape illustrates that King had been eager to visit supporters in Arizona, a state that would draw criticism more than 20 years later for rescinding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Scanlon, who donated all the tapes to the school, said the find is one of the high points of her life. “To have anything about myself connected in any way to Martin Luther King, what more could a person ask for? I’m so proud,” Scanlon said.

More here

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NYT: Ex-Port Authority Official Says ‘Evidence Exists’ Christie Knew About Lane Closings

The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening. In a letter released by his lawyer, the former official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order”

and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago. During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”

More here

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Chris Geidner: Edith Windsor’s Lawyer Seeks To Argue In Utah Marriage Appeal

Three same-sex couples — represented by the New York lawyer who represented Edith Windsor in her successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act — have asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to intervene in the pending lawsuit challenging Utah’s marriage laws.

In a Friday filing at the court, Roberta Kaplan argued on behalf of the couples that they should be allowed to intervene in the appeal — a move they acknowledge would be an “exceptional case” — in order to raise questions about other portions of Utah law that prevent recognition of same-sex couples.

More here

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TPM: Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Clears Major Hurdle For Construction

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle after the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction. The department’s report was released Friday. It says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline and other options to get the oil from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment. The latest environmental review stops short of recommending approval of the project. State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before the summer.

More here

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Jonathan Chait: Six Reasons Chris Christie Is Probably Guilty

1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light. 2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved?

Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation. 3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when. 4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.

More here

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Dylan Scott: Study: Thousands Of People Will Die In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid

As many as 17,000 Americans will die directly as a result of states deciding not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new study. Researchers from Harvard University and City University of New York have estimated that between 7,115 and 17,104 deaths will be “attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states” in a study published in Health Affairs.

“The results were sobering,” Samuel Dickman, one of the authors, said, according to theMorning Call. “Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.” They projected that 423,000 fewer diabetics would receive medication to treat their disease. If opt-out states had expanded Medicaid, 659,000 women who are in need of mammograms and 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears would have become insured, the study found.

More here

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Powerful commercial. Native Americans are human beings and the NFL is disgusting for not treating them as such

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Sahil Kapur: Boehner Promises GOP No Path To Citizenship In Immigration Reform

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told House Republicans that the immigration blueprint his leadership team released on Thursday was “as far as we are willing to go” to make reform happen, according to a source in the room.

The blueprint supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, which is already further than many conservatives want to go. If Democrats demand the promise of citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, as the bill passed by the Senate would do, the Speaker said the House would block reform.

More here

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OFA: What Does Health Insurance Mean To This 20-Something?

In 2009, I was healthy, preparing to graduate from college, and getting ready to start on a career that I love with an exciting opportunity at a new startup in an emerging field. And when I say startup, I mean startup. Shoe-string, even. There were only two of us. It was pretty risky, but I was beyond excited.

But then—out of the blue—I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that nearly derailed it all. Luckily, I was able to get treatment and was soon back to being myself. But I had two things added to my life: daily medicine to keep the condition in check, and a “pre-existing condition.” That’s when I really got why this whole health insurance thing matters.

thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to stay that way. When it was time for me to shop on the marketplace for my own coverage this winter, I was protected: No plan could deny me because of my pre-existing condition. I found one that is really comprehensive and is still within my budget. Now, I’m healthy, and I’ve got my own plan that I can afford and rely on.

More here

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Reuters: Two Obamacare Exchanges See More Health Insurer Competition

At least two U.S. states running their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges expect new insurers to enter their marketplaces and bolster competition in 2015, officials said on Friday.

Kynect, which is Kentucky’s marketplace, and the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange have had separate talks about 2015 with health insurers that could opt to join the online marketplaces set up under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law. Kentucky also expects an expansion of physician networks available within current plans.

Increased competition would increase consumer choices and tend to put downward pressure on health insurance cost trends. It could also help ensure the future of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which depends on the success of new online marketplaces.

More here

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Pete Souza: POTUS during Google+ hangout today

31
Jan
14

Opportunity For All

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President Barack Obama arrives with PG&E apprentice electrician Erick Varela, a U.S. Army combat infantryman in Iraq who was previously homeless and unemployed after leaving the military and Vice President Joe Biden, to the East Room of the White House, to speak about helping the long-term unemployed.

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President Barack Obama signs a memorandum directing the federal government not to discriminate against those long-term unemployed workers in its own hiring practices

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Don Thompson, President and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation, Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions, Inc., Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, Anne Zimmerman, President, Zimmerman & Co., CPAs, Inc. & Zimcom Internet Solutions, Gene Sperling, and Joe Echevarria, CEO, Deloitte LLP, gather in the State Dining Room of the White House

31
Jan
14

President Obama’s Google+ Hangout: The Brilliant Rob

31
Jan
14

President Obama’s Google+ Hangout

2:0 EST: President Obama participates in a virtual road trip across the country via Google+ Hangouts to discuss his State of the Union Address

Also at:

WhiteHouse.gov * White House Google+

31
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their entrance at the Annual Alfalfa Dinner at the Capital Hilton Hotel, Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times EST):

10:30: President Obama meets with CEOs, State Dining Room

11:30: Delivers remarks on helping the long term unemployed, East Room

2:0: Participates in a virtual road trip across the country via Google+ Hangouts to discuss his State of the Union Address, Roosevelt Room – Live Streamed on WhiteHouse.gov, YouTube.com/whitehouse and the White House Google+ page

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Long-term unemployment

President Obama wraps up State of the Union week Friday by talking about long-term unemployment and chatting with Internet users nationwide.

In the morning, Obama meets with executives from companies that have pledged not to discriminate against people who have been unemployed for six month or more … After meeting with the CEOs, Obama will deliver public remarks.

…. Obama will also sign a presidential memorandum Friday directing the federal government to follow the same rules with its own hiring practices.

In the afternoon, Obama will take what the White House calls “a virtual road trip across the country” via an Internet chat on Google+ Hangout…

More here

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Mediaite: President Obama Sits Down with Jake Tapper to Discuss Everything from Sochi to Ted Cruz

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, President Barack Obama locked down on his promise to wield the powers of the presidency with greater force if Congress refused to act on the agenda he laid out in his recent State of the Union Address.

Calling Congress “divided” and pointing out the efforts of the House Republicans to oppose his agenda in particular, Obama said that he would be willing to act unilaterally to pass certain initiatives, should Congress oppose: “In that kind of environment, what I don’t want is the American people to think that the only way for us to make big change is through legislation,” he said. “We’ve all got to work together to continue to provide opportunity for the next generation.

More here – videos at link

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Steve Benen: ‘Bette in Spokane’

For the last several months, conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act, including congressional Republicans, have encouraged Americans to contact the GOP with “Obamacare horror stories.” The more the right can highlight those adversely affected by the law, the argument goes, the more ACA critics can undermine public support for reform.

To that end, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the House Republican Conference chair, used her party’s official response to the State of the Union to highlight a woman in her home state who, she claimed, was better off before the law.

… it was only natural to wonder about the circumstances surrounding “Bette in Spokane,” who presumably represented the single best piece of anecdotal evidence McMorris Rodgers could find as part of her ACA indictment. Fortunately, we now have a better sense of the relevant details, which, like so many “Obamacare horror stories,” don’t help the Republicans’ case at all.

More here

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Timothy Egan (NYT): When Biography Trumps Substance

Only the snarkiest would not be open to the likable life story of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Eastern Washington politician who gave the “official” Republican response to the president’s State of the Union speech. She’s a farm girl from a big empty county just north of here, first in her family to attend college, mother of three, a rare woman in the retrograde men’s club of her party’s leadership.

Her district, poorer than the west side of the state, with much of the broken-family, broken-promise poverty of white rural America, is in real trouble. But the policy prescriptions of McMorris Rodgers have nothing to offer these people. Through her, you can see what happens when biography trumps substance in politics.

…. it would seem surprising that McMorris Rodgers voted to drastically cut food aid last year, and joined her party in resisting emergency benefits to the unemployed. She has been a leading strategist in the unrelenting Republican attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.

And yet, in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: People Who Hate Obamacare Would Hate the Republican Alternative Even More

By now, you may have heard about a new Republican health care plan—and how great it is. The proposal, which its authors call the “Patient CARE Act,” would hollow out the Obamacare infrastructure and replace it with a system more to conservative liking. There would be less government spending, lower taxes, fewer regulations—and yet, the sponsors promise, it would achieve roughly equal results when it comes to expanding insurance coverage.

Conservatives are thrilled—not just because the proposal is a serious attempt to address the problem of unaffordable health care, but also because, in theory, it demonstrates the superiority of conservative approaches to health care. “One of the great liberal conceits of the age is that to extend insurance coverage to the uninsured and make sure the sick do not fall through the cracks requires the centralized political management of the health sector,” says a triumphalist editorial in National Review. “The great service that Senators Coburn, Hatch, and Burr have performed is to explode that myth.”

Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.

More here

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TPM: GOP Quietly Alters Its Obamacare Alternative To Scrap Huge Tax Hike

It appears that the Senate Republicans who put forward their own alternative to Obamacare have quietly refined their proposal, undoing what would have been a significant tax increase on most Americans.

The apparent change centers on the plan’s tax treatment of health insurance. Right now, health insurance contributions by employees and their employers are not taxed; the GOP wanted to include a cap on how much of those contributions can remain untaxed.

But the devil is in the details….

More here

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NJ.com: Christie used Sandy money as political slush fund, evidence shows (Editorial)

Looks like we must send out a new batch of subpoenas, this time over fresh and powerful evidence that the governor personally misused Hurricane Sandy funds to win an endorsement from a Democrat.

This sounds like Hoboken in reverse. While Mayor Dawn Zimmer accuses the administration of withholding Sandy aid for political reasons in her city, the evidence in Belleville indicates that the governor provided extra aid for a mayor who was willing to dance.

And here, the governor was directly involved.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Extraordinary Climate And Environmental Legacy Of Henry Waxman

Following 40 years of sustained fighting on behalf of human health, the environment, and a livable climate, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced on Thursday that he would retire from Congress after this year.

“In 1974, I announced my first campaign for Congress,” he said Thursday in a press release. “Today, I am announcing that I have run my last campaign. I will not seek reelection to the Congress and will leave after 40 years in office at the end of this year.” When the news hit the House GOP, their reaction spoke volumes of how strong a legislative adversary he was to them:

A Waxman-less Congress leaves a gaping hole on serious climate policy. Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when Waxman was Chair, described him as a formidable opponent: “he may be short in his stature, but he can be 10 feet tall if you get in his way.”

More here

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ThinkProgress: Anti-Choice Groups Launch National Boycott Of Girl Scout Cookies For ‘Endorsing’ Wendy Davis

Toward the end of December, Girl Scout USA’s official Twitter account tweeted out a Huffington Post story about the inspiring individuals who should be considered to be 2013′s “women of the year.” The article included figures like Beyonce, Malala Yousafzai, and Wendy Davis — and the organization asked its followers who else should be added to the list of “incredible ladies.” That was enough for anti-choice activists to call for a national boycott of the organization’s popular cookies, claiming the Girl Scouts have endorsed “pro-abortion politician Wendy Davis.”

“We’re asking you to boycott Girl Scout cookies in 2014,” reads a new site dedicated to the boycott, explaining that Davis should not be lifted up as a “worthy role model for our children.” The same accusation is being leveled against the group in regards to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was included in a different news article about influential U.S. women that the Girl Scouts shared on its Facebook page.

More here

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USA Today: Obama on Air Force One: ‘It’s a nice plane’

…. President Obama talked about his very special form of transportation during his education speech Thursday in Nashville, where he talked about more professional training for students — including aviation.

Students can “work on your very own airplane,” Obama said. “That’s pretty cool — I didn’t get my own plane until I was 47 years old.”

“And it’s big!” one student helpfully added.

“Yes, it’s a nice plane,” Obama said. “But I’ve got to give it back.

“That’s the only thing. It’s a rental.”

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ABC: Michelle Obama attends Bay Area fundraisers

First Lady Michelle Obama was in San Francisco Thursday for the start of a two-day visit for various Democratic fundraisers.

Obama’s first stop was a private Democratic National Committee roundtable …. A small crowd of onlookers gathered behind police blocking off the intersection, including a group of women who said they worked nearby and had waited about an hour to catch a glimpse of the first lady.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama is viewed through the window as he meets with Chief of Staff Jack Lew in the Oval Office, Jan. 31, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

31
Jan
14

Early Bird Chat

President Obama exits Marine One on his return to the White House from stops in Wisconsin and Tennessee, Jan. 30

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds, Happy Friday!

30
Jan
14

Night owl chat – more bbc proms 2013

Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring

Ravel – Bolero (with dancers!)

Chat away, night owls!

30
Jan
14

Waukesha and Nashville

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Intended putting together a totally awesome wrap-up of the day, but Danny’s #FrisbeeGate ruined everything. Will catch up in R&S, promise.




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