Archive for February 7th, 2014

07
Feb
14

Night Owl Chat – An Emoprog Colloquy

Chat on, lovely night owls!

07
Feb
14

News Of The Day

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Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) clasp hands as President Barack Obama signs the farm bill into law at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan

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NYT: In Signing Farm Bill, Obama Extols Rural Growth

President Obama signed the $956-billion farm bill on Friday at Michigan State University, where he extolled the benefits of a thriving agricultural sector for the nation’s overall economy. In his remarks, Mr. Obama announced a new “Made in Rural America” initiative that he said would help rural businesses market their goods abroad. White House officials also announced five regional forums on rural exports and an “investing in rural America” conference. Mr. Obama directed the White House Rural Council to host sessions in all 50 states to train Department of Agriculture staff members on how to promote rural exports.

The White House released a report Friday from Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers that said farm income had risen significantly since the president took office in the depths of the recession. The report says that farm income is expected to total $131 billion in 2013, a 46 percent increase since 2008. Most of the increase is attributed to improved productivity, and the report notes that the values of livestock and crops are rising. One of the most contentious elements of the farm bill was the elimination of $5 billion in direct subsidies to farmers for their crops, whether they grew them or not. The subsidies were replaced by an insurance program that will help farmers only when they need it.

More here

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White House: You Can Say This Better Than We Ever Could

JoAnn S., Florida

“I haven’t had insurance in years and my husband had a shared insurance junk-type policy. The day I signed up on Dec 10, I actually cried when the application went through. I got my first premium notice in the mail yesterday and was never so happy to see a bill before.”

Gayla W., New Hampshire

“I lost my job last April. My partner and I both have pre-existing conditions so our only option was to COBRA my employer-provided plan — at a cost of $1,676 a month. It was a good plan, but now we have a comparable plan through the ACA for $87 a month. I can’t describe just how life changing this is for us. We can afford to live again.”

More here

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Fred Kaplan: Barack Obama Isn’t Disengaged: The President’s Foreign Policy Is Just Smarter

There’s a strange notion out there that the dreary outcomes of the two wars this country fought all through the past decade—and the savage sectarian violence erupting across much of the Middle East and surrounding regions today—are due to President Obama’s “disengagement” from the world. It’s a strange notion because the United States is more engaged with the world than at any time in recent memory. There are nuclear talks in Iran (after 34 years of no talking whatsoever), an internationally supervised dismantling of chemical weapons in Syria What many of these critics don’t like about Obama—what they mistakenly, or misleadingly, call “disinterest”—is his disinclination to go to war.

And who can blame him? Obama seems to realize this. He too has an unsentimental outlook on the world. His views have been tempered by Iraq and scorched by Afghanistan. He’s not shy about using military force, but insists, when possible, to grip it tightly. “Escalation” is a suspect term; “uncontrolled escalation,” is an unacceptable one. As evidence, see Libya, Syria, drone strikes, and Stuxnet. One can admire or criticize the actions he’s taken, or not taken, in those crises or with those precision instruments. But they’re all preferable to sending in 100,000 troops in pursuit of a mission that we have no power to accomplish, even with all those men and women in arms. And if going into such conflicts lightly, or not at all, is the emblem of disengagement, let him wear it proudly.

More here

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Tom Joyner: Michelle Obama Discusses Health Care And Black History Month

Michelle Obama just turned 50 and she’s looking great. The First Lady is a prime example of how health can help keep you looking and feeling great. With her Let’s Move campaign, Mrs. Obama wants to help all Americans become more aware of the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. This morning she joined the Tom Joyner Morning Show to talk about the Affordable Care Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation in her husband’s time in the White House. The Affordable Care Act makes it possible for millions of uninsured Americans to have affordable health insurance, but there are still some misconceptions about it. The best way for you to start to get more information about how the ACA can work for you is to head to the website, www.healthcare.gov and check out the options for yourself. Here’s why Mrs. Obama thinks it will be the best move you and your family can make this year.

Michelle Obama: We’re talking about education, because as Barack said in his State of the Union address, you know, what we have to focus on, particularly as we celebrate Black History Month, is not just the progress we’ve made but remember how much more work we have left to do. And we need to focus on increasing opportunity for everybody. And for this administration, it means healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. It means economic mobility. It means helping our young men of color. It means making sure more kids have access to college and it’s affordable. So that’s what we’re going to be focusing on, not just this month, but for the rest of this administration, and making sure that people are signing up for healthcare is critical.

More here (audio at link)

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Derek Thompson: The Spectacular Myth Of Obama’s Part-Time America – In 5 Graphs

If you’ve been paying attention to a certain slice of the financial media—see:ForbesThe Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Fox News—you know for a fact that Obama and his health care law have tag-teamed with global economic trends to drive America inexorably toward a part-time economy. This is a testable claim. So let’s test it.

The first thing you would expect to see from a Part-Time America is that the number of part-time jobs added would rival the number of full-time jobs added. But in the last year, new full-time jobs outnumbered part-time jobs by 1.8 million to 8,000. For every new part-time job, we’re creating 225 full-time positions.

More here

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Washington Post: Democratic Mayors Who Backed Christie Struggled To Weigh Politics Vs. Local Needs

In September, Adam Schneider, the liberal mayor of the New Jersey shore town of Long Branch, was having trouble with the state utility board. After repeatedly getting the run-around, Schneider decided to instead try his luck with the office of Gov. Chris Christie. “I’m not talking to any more underlings, and I’m not being delegated to,” Schneider said he told Christie’s aides. In the end, he said, it worked. “I got what I needed.”

Schneider’s call came four months after he crossed party lines to endorse the 2013 reelection of Christie (R), whose performance he admired after Hurricane Sandy. Schneider said that the governor never promised him anything but that he believes he has received “enhanced” access to state officials since the endorsement. Schneider’s experience is typical of many Democratic mayors, who made clear that they thought endorsing Christie’s reelection bid likely directly benefited their towns in the pursuit of Sandy recovery aid and other state support.

More here

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Steve Benen: GOP Ignores Bill Signing Invitations

Since early 2011, President Obama hasn’t been able to host many bill-signing ceremonies. After two years in which the White House made arguably historic progress on its agenda in 2009, Congress hasn’t achieved any major legislative accomplishments since Republicans claimed the House majority. But some bills still manage to get through both chambers, and though the farm bill hasn’t always risen to the level of major legislative breakthroughs, Obama and his team nevertheless decided to host a big event in East Lansing, Michigan, today to sign the new $956 billion farm bill into law.

The president won’t be joined today by any Republicans, though it’s not for lack of effort. The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said that about 50 lawmakers — including many Republicans — had been invited to the bill signing, but that no Republicans had accepted the invitation. […] the fact that every Republican invitee declined the White House’s offer should send a pretty loud signal to those Beltway pundits who still believe Obama would thrive in Washington if only he schmoozed more.

More here

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Dylan Scott: Cruz, Rubio, Other GOPers Urge Court To Stop Obamacare Subsidies

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with other top congressional GOPers, have urged a federal court to block Obamacare subsidies for people who signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov. The group of eight — which includes Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), Mike Lee (UT) and Rob Portman (OH) along with Reps. Dave Camp (MI) and Darrell Issa (CA) –

filed an amicus brief Thursday on behalf of businesses and individuals who sued to stop the subsidies from flowing through the federal website, the Washington Times reported. The case, being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit next month, centers on whether people can receive tax subsidies through the federal website, HealthCare.gov. A federal district judge rejected that argument in January, ruling that subsidies should continue to be delivered through HealthCare.gov, which sent the case to the appeals court.

More here

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Think Progress: Texas Man Pays Off Students’ School Lunch Debts So They Can Keep Eating

After he heard about the children in Utah whose school lunches were thrown out because their parents were behind on payments, Kenny Thompson was worried about the elementary school kids he tutored and mentored in Houston, Texas. So he went in to check whether they were getting the proper nutrition. “I’m like, ‘Wow. I know that’s probably a situation at my school, and the school my son goes to, and the other schools I mentor at.’ So I came in and inquired about it,” Thompson told local station KSDK.

What he found disappointed him: Dozens of students were on “reduced” lunches, receiving cold peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches instead of the full hot meals they used to receive, all because their parents had fallen behind on lunch payments that amounted to mere 40 cents a day. So Thompson took action. He forked over $465 of his own money and zeroed out the balances on over 60 students’ accounts. “These are elementary school kids. They don’t need to be worried about finances. They need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling,” Thompson told station KPRC.

More here

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President Barack Obama signs the farm bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. Watching, from left are, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Senate Agriculture Committee member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Senate Agriculture Committee member Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich. and Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

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07
Feb
14

President Obama at Michigan State University

2:10 EST: President Obama delivers remarks and signs the Agriculture Act of 2014, Michigan State University

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President Obama walks across the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One

Leaving Andrews for Michigan

President Obama arriving in Michigan with Sen Stabenow, Sen Levin, Rep Kildee, Sen Leahy and Sen Klobuchar

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President Obama tours the biomass conversion process area at the Michigan Biotechnology Institute in Lansing

07
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Corbin Fleming, brother of 2011 March of Dimes National Ambassador Lauren Fleming, plays with the President’s telephone during his family’s visit to the Oval Office, Feb. 7, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern):

10:30: President Obama departs the White House

12:15: Arrives Michigan

12:45: Tours Michigan Biotechnology Institute

2:10: Delivers remarks and signs the Agriculture Act of 2014, Michigan State University

3:15: Departs Michigan

4:50: Arrives White House

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Africa: Obamacare is making a difference for my family

My two sisters and a sister-in-law in Maryland now have insurance, thanks to Obamacare.

When my second to the oldest sister’s husband died, she lost her health insurance. She suffered seizures and has been hospitalized multiple times. After her husband’s death, she moved in with my second to the youngest sister, who called me regularly about the high cost of my sister’s medication. They were paying out of pocket. One medication, for example, Dilantin, was about $165.00 for 60 pills. Another, Keppra cost around $65.00. But thanks to Obamacare, the co-pay for both medications is now $2.50. Imagine that. Armed with health insurance, she is taking my sister this morning to see a primary care doctor for the first time in a long time. Subsequent visits will include a neurologist, gynecologist, etc., all thanks to Obamacare.

Then there is my baby sister, who was out of work with a 17-year old daughter. They now have Obamacare. And a sister-in-law also have Obamacare.

Yes, Obamacare is making a difference.

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TPM: Obama Explains Putin’s ‘Shtick’

President Obama on Thursday rebutted the general perception that he has an “icy” relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“He does have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews. I think that’s where some of these perceptions come up,” Obama told NBC News in an interview airing Friday. “My sense is that’s part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy. U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while.”

More here

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TPM: Obama Offers Jay Leno A Consolation Prize For Leaving ‘The Tonight Show’

Comedian Jay Leno hosted his final episode of “The Tonight Show” Thursday after a 22-year run, but at least President Barack Obama had a consolation prize to offer him.

“Jay, you’ve made a whole lot of jokes about me over the years,” Obama said in a pre-taped segment of stars wishing Leno well. “But do not worry, I’m not upset.”

…. On an unrelated note, Obama said, he had decided to make Leno the new U.S. ambassador to Antarctica.

“Hope you’ve got a coat, funny man,” he joked.

More here – video at link

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Steve Benen: Christie’s evolving version of events

One of the overarching challenges facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is not just his ongoing bridge scandal, but also the veracity of his claims about the scandal.  If Christie’s version of events had been consistent and reliable throughout, it’d be easier to believe his arguments about what role, if any, he played in his aides’ misconduct,

But the closer one looks at the governor’s claims, the more one sees nuances, changes, and contradictions.

It’s not just what Christie knew and when; it’s also what Christie claims he did about the now-infamous incident in Fort Lee.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: CVS, Smokes and ‘Liberal Fascism’

In Fox News Land, no one does anything in the public interest. It’s just Obama’s commie thugs bullying a corporate giant to do what the president thinks is ‘good for you.’

Bravo, CVS. That’s a bold and even historic move, banning cigarettes. It’s true it isn’t costing the company much—the sticks accounted for just $2 billion of its $123 billion in revenue last year, according to The New York Times. But even so, it’s a decision by an American mega-corporation that was made in… sit down and steady yourself… the public interest! Everyone’s for that, right? Right? Wait, what’s that rumble I hear over the gloaming?…

Why, it’s Fox News! And they aren’t happy. Yes—you read that right. On Fox News, CVS’s decision not to sell an addictive product that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans prematurely every year stinks of a big commie plot. Daytime host Gretchen Carlson said something idiotic Wednesday even by daytime Fox News’s idiotic standards….

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama looks over the shoulder of Hannah Wyman, 11, as she demonstrates her project in the Blue Room, Feb. 7, 2012, during the second annual White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reacts as 14-year-old Joey Hudy of Phoenix, Arizona, launches a marshmallow from Hudy’s “Extreme Marshmallow Cannon” during a tour of the White House Science Fair, Feb 7, 2012

President Obama shares a group hug with Team America Rocketry Challenge students from Presidio, Texas, during the second White House Science Fair, Feb 7, 2012

A student takes a picture as President Obama’s delivers remarks during the second White House Science Fair in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 7, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands with Bill Nye

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First Lady Michelle Obama pets Bo, the Obama family dog, during a taping for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” with 6-year-old Rainer Muuss, left, and his brother Atticus, 4, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Feb. 7, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning everyone – completely ran out of time this morning so I’m probably missing 99.93% of the news, will catch up later!




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