Nature’s beauty can be easily missed — but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.
President Obama looks at a jersey worn by Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, the first African American to break into the Major Leagues, during a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., May 22, 2014. Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson is at left and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is at right (Photo by Pete Souza)
Yesterday, the House voted to provide subsidies for summertime children’s lunches only to “rural areas”. That wasn’t even a dog whistle, it was an out and out statement of racism.
A few days ago, a New Hampshire police commissioner not only called President Barack Obama a “n***er”, but defended his statement, saying that the President fit his definition for one. He refused to resign until just a couple of days ago.
Today, Mark Cuban admitted to “biases”. He could cross the street—in what I’m sure is a gated, nearly all-white community—if he saw a young black man in a hoodie coming towards him. Of course, if that young black man in a hoodie had a 42-inch vertical leap, I’m sure he’d take the time to sign him to a contract.
It seems as if the past few weeks have seen an explosion of insanity. As Pres. Obama succeeds in the face of unparalleled obstruction—Obamacare, the economy, isolating Russia—certain sectors of this country have decided on a scorched earth policy. If they can’t exercise untrammeled power, if the country elects and re-elects Pres. Obama, then burn everything, like Russians retreating before Napoleon.
It can be forgiven if one gets to feel downtrodden. The forces arrayed against progress are not minor. They have almost unlimited funding. They drive media narratives. They more or less own five Justices on the Supreme Court. The scenario would prove daunting and depressive to even the hardiest souls.
Alec MacGillis: Republicans War-Monger, Then Complain When We’re Overwhelmed By Sick Vets
…. The hypocrisy on view here is truly something to behold… For starters, there is the matter of funding. If there’s been one side pushing for greater resources for the Veterans Administration in the age of austerity these past five years, it hasn’t been the Republicans. It was the much-maligned economic stimulus package of 2009 that included $1 billion for the V.A.
…. many veterans programs — providing mental health services and housing, among other things — were hit hard by the sequestration cuts. And when the Senate was poised to pass a $24 billion bill for federal healthcare an education programs for veterans three months ago, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, blocked it in a filibuster….
…. Something, it appears, happened around 2003 that caused the rate of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. military to spike. Now what could that have been? Whatever it was, it happened while Barack Obama was in the Illinois state Senate, giving an obscure speech against invading Iraq. He is now having to reckon with the fallout from that event, as is his responsibility to do as commander in chief. But you’d think that those who had actually played a part in bringing about that event would have enough self-awareness to resist scoring political points off of the years-later fallout. Apparently, though, even that is too much to ask.
…. Yes, President Obama and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki have a lot to answer for since the buck ultimately stops with them. And the president acknowledged his responsibility during his remarks from the press briefing room today. Yet, [Eric] Cantor’s comments are galling when you consider what Congress has and hasn’t done for veterans.
…. In February, Senate Republicans actively thwarted the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. The $21 billion legislation was supposed to improve health, education and other benefits for veterans. Instead, it failed to get the 60 votes needed to stop a threatened filibuster…..
…. Republicans must cease their empty partisan thundering and “we care more than you do” lectures until they have a track record of support for our veterans that matches their righteous indignation.
The political world’s response to the VA scandal is still taking shape, but at this point, it’s off to an awkward start. For one thing, as Rachel explained on the show last night, much of the recent discussion has characterized chronic problems in providing veterans with the care they need as a new development, which it is not.
What’s more, Jonathan Capehart did a nice job highlighting the awkwardness of Republican rhetoric on the matter….
….. let’s also “get it straight” when it comes to the parties’ record, not just their rhetoric, on veterans’ issues.
Media Matters: When Fox News Shrugged Over A Military Care Scandal (Hint: Bush Was President)
The Obama outrage engines are revving up at Fox News and across the conservative media landscape as conservatives shift, temporarily at least, from Obamacare and Benghazi and set their sights on the unfolding scandal involving backlog waiting lists at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
…. The Fox condemnations have been especially loud, and sweeping. And yes, they’ve been mostly directed at the president.
…. The heated right-wing response stands in stark contrast to the muted coverage Fox News provided for the last major controversy involving failed medical care for returning soldiers….
But back then, of course, George W. Bush was president and back then Fox News wasn’t as interested in the story….
Washington Post: U.S. deploys 80 troops to Chad to help find kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls
The United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad to augment efforts to find the Nigerian schoolgirls recently taken hostage, the White House announced Wednesday, a significant escalation of Washington’s contribution to a crisis that has created global consternation.
The force, made up largely of Air Force personnel, will conduct surveillance flights and operate drone aircraft but will not participate in ground searches, according to U.S. military officials.
“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area,” the White House said in a statement formally notifying Congress of the deployment. The unit will remain in Chad “until its support resolving the kidnapping is no longer required.”
NYT: Pelosi Picks 5 Democrats For Panel On Benghazi
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California on Wednesday appointed a full slate of senior House Democrats to a special committee investigating the 2012 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, surprising some in her party by giving legitimacy to an inquiry many had dismissed as a political stunt.
…. By naming members who served on committees that have already investigated the attack, Ms. Pelosi raised the pressure on Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the special committee.
…The Democrats chosen were Mr. Cummings, who clashed repeatedly over Benghazi with the chairman of the Oversight Committee, Representative Darrell Issa of California; Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee; Adam B. Schiff of California, a member of the Intelligence Committee; Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a decorated and severely wounded combat veteran of the Iraq war; and Linda T. Sánchez of California, the ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee.
Nancy Pelosi did a smart thing and appointed her full allotment of Democrats to the upcoming Fox News special and general kangaroo festivities regarding Benghazi, Benghazi, BENGHAZI!
I am sorry that all the Alan Grayson fans out there may be disappointed, but it’s not like Elijah Cummings hasn’t been fighting the good fight on this issue for a while now.
The idea of a Democratic boycott of the committee was politically maladroit and pragmatically stupid … Without participating, the Democrats would have been conceding the development of the narrative to the Kangaroo Kaucus not only among the Beltway opinion elite, but out in the country as well.
Brian Beutler: The American Right, Not the ‘Tea Party,’ Is the GOP’s Big Liability
For four years running, the American political class has been mired in a debate over the impact the “Tea Party” and its candidates have had on Republican politics. It started in 2010, when the “Tea Party” may well have cost Republicans the Senate, and came full circle last night when “Tea Party” candidates in Georgia, Kentucky and Oregon lost their primaries to candidates backed by the Republican Party, which has had quite enough thank you.
But the debate has been rendered almost meaningless by the sometimes-lazy, sometimes-opportunistic tendency of its participants to create an identity between the American right and the handful of grassroots organizations and political chop shops that have assumed the “Tea Party” brand. We’ve all succumbed to it, but it has obscured what’s really happening within the conservative movement.
That’s why “Tea Party” groups flinch when Republicans and members of the commentariat blame the “Tea Party” for Todd Akin, and that’s why the Republican victory over the “Tea Party” last night, while real, sounds much bigger than it actually is.
TPM: Iran’s President: Nuclear Deal By July ‘Likely’
Iran’s president said Thursday an agreement by July on curbing its nuclear program is “very likely” despite a snag in talks last week, but that the deadline might also be extended.
Talks in Vienna stalled last Friday, denting hopes that negotiators could meet a July 20 target. The failure to advance diminished optimism that had been growing since negotiations began Feb. 18 on a comprehensive deal.
The talks involve Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
This Thursday, May 22nd, the White House Office of Public Engagement, the United States Postal Service and the Harvey Milk Foundation will host a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp at the White House.
The event will feature remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative John Lewis, Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, and other distinguished guests including the Co-Founders of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk and Anne Kronenberg.
Watch live starting at 3:00 p.m. EST at whitehouse.gov/live. If you’re following on social media, the hashtag is #HarveyMilkStamp.
Lordy. I’ve profiled a lot of crazy mofos in my time — I even hit the Mickey Rourke-Nic Cage-Albert Brooks trifecta back in the 1990s — but when it comes to lunacy, give me a true sociopath: a politician.
Try as I might, I’ll never forget Rod Blagojevich assuring me, a few months before his trial and conviction, that he would bedazzle a jury with the truth and be set free. I’ll forever treasure the paper placemat from a 2008 lunch at a Thai joint in Medina, Ohio, upon which wee Dennis Kucinich sketched out a graph to show how he’d win enough votes from Hilary, Obama, and John Edwards to become the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008.
But — hand to god — I’ve seen nothing close to Christopher James Christie since Richard Nixon waved and ducked into the chopper.
Smartypants: Intelligence community is fighting back on ending the indefinite war
For over two years now I’ve been saying that rather than focusing on drones and Gitmo, liberals should be talking about actually ending the indefinite war. A year ago this week, the President said we should do just that. But as Eli Lake reports, he’s facing some pretty tough opposition on that front from the intelligence community. The title of his article is telling: ‘Over My Dead Body’: Spies Fight Obama Push to Downsize Terror War.
In interviews with many of them, a common theme is sounded: The threat from al Qaeda is rising, but the White House is looking to ratchet down the war against these Islamic extremists.
Lake goes on to dutifully quote many in the intelligence community about why we should still be afraid of “the terrorists” – even if it means ramping up the current furor over Benghazi! and the freak-out about ending the war in Afghanistan. But to get an idea of how the President views all of this, here’s a fascinating exchange.
Washington Post: Billionaire Tom Steyer will use clout and cash to boost Democrats, environment, in key races
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer plans to finance full-fledged political campaigns in at least seven states key to Democratic fortunes in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race, further cementing his rapid rise as one of the party’s most influential patrons.
The independent efforts run by his super PAC, NextGen Climate, will include television ads, on-the-ground field organizing and get-out-the-vote operations that seek to mobilize voters on the local impacts of climate change. The group plans to highlight issues such as drought in Iowa and the rising cost of flood insurance in Florida. It will also spotlight the climate-change skepticism of GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidates, and the campaign donations they have received from the fossil-fuel industry.
ThinkProgress: Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case For Addressing Climate Change: ‘If We Destroy Creation, Creation Will Destroy Us’
Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.
Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the first Argentinian pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” is a Christian value, noting that failure to care for the planet risks apocalyptic consequences.
“Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
Laura Conaway: Mitch McConnell does not want you to see this video
Last night, working on election coverage, I went looking for a copy of Senator Mitch McConnell’s ad in which he showed the wrong basketball team. The Kentucky Republican meant to show players from the University of Kentucky. Instead, McConnell’s ad depicted teammates from arch-rival Duke (of North Carolina) celebrating their 2010 national championship.
The McConnell campaign released that ad in March, and just as quickly pulled it after Kentucky blogger Joe Sonka of Leo Weekly pointed out the error. “Fortunately Leo Weekly’s Joe Sonka was able to grab the video before they pulled it down,” reported Kentucky Sports Radio.
But last week, Joe Sonka got a notice from YouTube that the McConnell campaign has challenged his right to post that clip and thus display the campaign’s error.
President Obama throws a football to a staff member in the Rose Garden, while White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson watches, May 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 22, 2009
President Obama reads a morning newspaper aboard Marine One while en route to the US Naval Academy commencement, May 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama chest-bumps a graduate at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, May 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, and Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, right, acknowledge Sen. John McCain, who’s son graduated at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement May 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Suzanne Newton, daughter of head White House Florist Nancy Clark, and husband John, show baby Grace to First Lady Michelle Obama at Clark’s retirement party May 22, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama watches as cadets celebrate graduation at the U.S. Military Academy at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Saturday, May 22, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shakes hands with Col. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander, 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews Air Force Base after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, May 22, 2010
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk to the Marine One helicopter as they depart the White House May 22, 2011 in Washington, DC en route Europe
First Lady Michelle Obama meets sixth graders from Willow Springs elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia, during a visit to Decatur House, May 22, 2013
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert honoring singer-songwriter Carole King in the East Room of the White House, May 22, 2013. President Obama presented King with the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during the event, which was part of the “In Performance at the White House” series (Photo by Pete Souza)