Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi

27
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama at the NCAA basketball game between Oregon State and Howard University on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 …  a day after he needed 12 stitches in his lip when he took an elbow during a game of basketball with friends and family at Fort McNair

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Today (All Times Eastern):

1:20: President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey

2:35: Holds a bill signing

4:30: The First Family participates in a service event

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Steve Benen: Turning The Health Care Corner

Political journalism is sometimes criticized, fairly, for its “pack” mentality. Major news organizations wait for the conventional wisdom to organically take shape, and then the players stick to their scripts, reinforcing an agreed upon consensus. In practically no time at all, there are certain political facts that “everyone knows” to be true.

But soon after, that gets dull, the conventional wisdom invites skeptics, and contrarian instincts kick in. Maybe, the political world starts to wonder, those truths that “everyone knows” aren’t so true after all.

For the last several weeks, the consensus in establishment circles was that the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period was not only a disaster, but a catastrophe that would destroy Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party, the American health care system, and the very idea of progressive governance. Pundits could hardly contain their analogies – this was Obama’s Katrina, Obama’s Iraq, Obama’s Watergate, Obama’s Iran-Contra, and even Obama’s Bay of Pigs.

But the funny thing about narratives is that they’re sometimes fleeting….

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Paul Krugman: The Obamacare Worm Turns

I suggested yesterday that we’re probably heading for a turning point in the health reform discussion. Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.

And it’s already starting to happen.

…. media coverage is shifting fast. It’s still mostly trying for equivalence — each positive story of people being helped matched by a negative story of people hurt. But the stories don’t actually match up at all.

… At this rate, the whole horrors-of-Obamacare meme will be gone in weeks, not months. But the GOP echo chamber won’t be able to let it go.

Full post here

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Barbara Starr: Official: U.S. B-52s Flew Over China’s Controversial New Air Defense Zone

Two U.S. military aircraft flew into China’s newly claimed and challenged air defense zone over the East China Sea, a U.S. official said. The U.S. Air Force B-52 planes — which were not armed because they were on a training mission — set off Monday from Guam and returned there without incident. The mission lasted for several hours, and the aircraft were in China’s newly declared air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.

The flights came two days after China unilaterally announced the creation of a “Air Defense Identification Zone” over several islands it and Japan have both claimed. The two countries have been sharply at odds over those isles, which are believed to be near large reserves of natural resources. Washington responded negatively to what Secretary of State John Kerry characterized as an “escalatory action (that) will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” The U.S. government has rallied around its ally Japan, where thousands of its troops are stationed as part of a security treaty.

And specifically regarding China’s new air defense zone, the United States has said it won’t recognize it. Japan’s two main commercial airlines said Wednesday that following a request from the Japanese government, they and other members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan will not submit flight plans to Chinese authorities for flights through the zone claimed by Beijing.

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Charles Pierce: Success Is Not News

Look, there’s something going on with the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t require an IT specialist to explain. There’s a world beyond the ginned-up anecdote. Who knew?

…. through Covered California, the state’s individual insurance marketplace, they’ve found a plan through Sharp Healthcare that will cover them both for a total premium of $142 a month …. More important than that was knowing that they couldn’t be turned down for coverage come Jan. 1. “We felt we didn’t have to panic, or worry,” Holzman says. “If not for the Affordable Care Act, our ability to get insurance would be very limited, if we could get it at all.”

….. this is increasingly looking like the last chance for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world in crafting a sensible health-care policy for its citizens. All of its citizens.

Full post here

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Think Progress: Treasury And IRS To Crack Down On Super PACs Masquerading As Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Groups

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed guidelines on Tuesday that could force dark-money political groups like Crossroads GPSand the American Future Fund to spend less of their money on campaign advertising and other overt electioneering. If implemented, this guidance would clarify what actions by tax-exempt social welfare organizations are limited “candidate-related political activity” and what actions can count toward their principal purpose.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these rules would label “campaign advertising, voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts, and distribution of voter guides and campaign materials,” as “candidate-related political activity.” None of that would be able to count as part of the group’s tax-exempt purpose — meaning only a minority of its work could fall into those categories. While 501(c)(4)s would still be free to engage in those activities, they couldn’t be the main focus. This could mean groups accused of masquerading as (c)(4)s could have to find new ways to spend their money.

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Sally Kohn: The GOP’s Late-Term Abortion Strategy Is Backfiring

As the Supreme Court announces it will hear a challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate, a study on late-term abortion seekers finds the GOP’s anti-abortion laws are backfiring.

Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.

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Mother Jones: Republicans Refuse To Cover The Poor, Then Complain That Obamacare Isn’t Covering The Poor

The New York Times has gotten hold of the “House Republican Playbook” on Obamacare, and I have to admit that it brought back warm memories. It’s just like the launch kits. In any case, it’s all pretty predictable stuff: Obamacare is an abomination; people are losing their insurance; small companies are being ruined; etc. etc.

Needless to say, this is primarily because Republicans governors have refused to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, even though it’s 100 percent paid for at first and 90 percent paid for forever. These governors literally prefer to have their state’s residents pay taxes and get nothing in return rather than give so much as an extra dime to poor people who need health care. It’s truly hard to fathom what kind of human being is callous enough to do this, but apparently there are a bunch of them in the Republican Party.

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Erik Wemple: ’60 Minutes’ And Benghazi: Five Hard Realities

CBS News distributed a summary of findings from an internal investigation into the discredited Oct. 27 “60 Minutes” report on Benghazi. The investigation was conducted by Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices at CBS News, and the findings addressed the various red flags that “60 Minutes” failed to heed in featuring the testimony of Dylan Davies, a security contractor in Benghazi at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. interests in the Libyan city. The document cited 10 discrete issues with the Benghazi story. Lara Logan, the correspondent on the story, and the segment’s producer, Max McClellan, are taking leaves of absence following the breakdowns.

 CBS News and “60 Minutes” might as well be on different planets. For CBS News, Benghazi represents the folly of firewalls. Right after the Benghazi attack itself, “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama how he viewed the tragedy. “Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Kroft. Here’s how he responded: OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.

Trouble was, the public didn’t find out about the president’s response for weeks, until just two days before Election Day — long after it might have affected the course of the campaign. Somewhere between “60 Minutes” and the rest of CBS News, the Kroft-Obama exchange got lost.

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Larry Derfner: Under The Radar: Israel’s Security Establishment Supports New Iran Agreement

The news from Israel is that Israel hates the Iranian nuclear deal struck in Geneva – but the news is not entirely accurate. It’s true, of course, that Netanyahu and his government ministers (with the exception of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni) think the agreement is bad, very bad, very very bad, and that Obama and the West sold the Jews out to Hitler again. But there are some other extremely powerful Israelis who don’t think the agreement is so bad, and who certainly prefer it to the no-agreement that Bibi and AIPAC were driving toward – and these Israelis make up the country’s military-intelligence establishment.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise; these are the same people who, with an assist from President Shimon Peres and the Israeli media, stopped Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak from bombing Iran like they wanted to last year. Israel’s generals don’t relish going head-to-head with the United States, they don’t live on paranoia, apocalyptic visions and scare-mongering, and right there you have enough to understand why they don’t go along with Netanyahu on Iran. The Israeli brass are certainly not peaceniks. They’re not sanguine at all about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. They are not opposed in principle to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities – in fact, like with most Israelis, their preferred solution is for the U.S. to bomb them. But unlike Netanyahu and the right, they don’t automatically see red when they look at Iran

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Denis-McDonough

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AP: Obama’s Gatekeeper Now Point Man On Health Care

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was ready to vent. “I’ve had too much humble pie,” he fumed, striding into a top aide’s West Wing office. “That was the last slice. I’m full.” McDonough had just finished another hand-holding meeting with health care advocates anxious over the disastrous rollout of the health care law. McDonough’s message: It was time to change tactics, quit lamenting the problems and start emphasizing the benefits of the health care overhaul.

McDonough is now holding evening meetings every day with key players in the health care rollout, offering support even as he holds agency leaders accountable. “We went straight into problem solving,” he said last week during a stroll on the White House South Lawn. “We knew that going into this, that no plan survives first contact. We knew that we would be confronted with challenges along the way. “We are focused on getting it working, absolutely, and we’re making good progress on that.”

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“Denis takes everything personally. Nobody is going to be harder on Denis than himself,” says his friend Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser. “He was angry, frustrated, all of the above. If there is a problem, it is his personal mission to fix it, even if it is beyond his direct capacity to do so.” Of all the chiefs of staff who have worked for Obama, McDonough, 43, has the closest relationship with the president. McDonough is a fierce defender of the president, known during his national security days for vigorously challenging reporters. In a recent meeting with Democratic senators, a participant in the room said, he had a feisty exchange with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, over a fix the president had proposed to the health care law.

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President Barack Obama runs down the White House Colonnade with Denis McDonough’s children

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On This Day:

First lady Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama and President Obama look on during an NCAA basketball game between Oregon State and Howard University on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 in Washington

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09
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama reads in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Today: President Obama departs Miami (3:25 EDT), arrives at the White House (5:55 EDT)

Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled

Monday: The President and First Lady host a breakfast for veterans from across the country. Later in the morning, the President will travel to Arlington National Cemetery where he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and deliver remarks there

Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Wednesday: The President will address the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference

Thursday: The President will travel to Philadelphia where he will participate in a campaign event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

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@sdtilock

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WH.gov: The Affordable Care Act: Making A Difference In Our Neighborhoods

Community Health Centers enable people to receive health care in the neighborhoods where they live so they can get high-quality care close to home. That’s why the Affordable Care Act builds on this model of care, by making critical investments in new facilities, doctors, nurses, and staff. This week, HHS announced new primary care sites in 236 communities for 1.25 million additional patients, made possible by the Affordable Care Act. These investments will make an enormous difference in people’s lives by increasing access to the care they need, where they need it.

As you can see from the media coverage in states around the country, these types of primary care investments are critical for families who need care. Here’s just a sample of the coverage:

AZ – Arizona Daily Star: New U.S. grant to pay for Sierra Vista community health care A new community health clinic will be operating in Sierra Vista by February, due to an unexpected federal grant of nearly $1 million. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that $150 million in Affordable Care Act funds will be going to 236 health programs in 43 states. LINK

CA – Recordnet.com: Grants awarded for health center The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday awarded a $691,667 grant to Community Medical Centers Inc. to help it establish a new health center service delivery site. LINK

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Steve Benen: Mental Health Parity

That this health care breakthrough is a long time coming doesn’t detract from its significance:

The Obama administration on Friday will complete a generation-long effort to require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses when it issues long-awaited regulations defining parity in benefits and treatment.

The rules, which will apply to almost all forms of insurance, will have far-reaching consequences for many Americans. In the White House, the regulations are also seen as critical to President Obama’s program for curbing gun violence by addressing an issue on which there is bipartisan agreement: Making treatment more available to those with mental illness could reduce killings, including mass murders.

…. It’s easy to grow weary with unprecedented obstructionism blocking legislation on Capitol Hill, but once in a while, we’re reminded that progress is still possible.

Full post here

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NYT: Cut In Food Stamps Forces Hard Choices On Poor

For many, a $10 or $20 cut in the monthly food budget would be absorbed with little notice. But for millions of poor Americans who rely on food stamps, reductions that began this month present awful choices. Mr. Simmons’s allotment from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, has dropped $9. He has already spent the $33 he received for November.

Food stamps are likely to be cut more in the coming years if Congress can agree on a new farm bill, which House and Senate negotiators began tackling this week. The Republican-controlled House has approved cutting as much as $40 billion from the program over 10 years by making it harder to qualify. The Democratic-controlled Senate is suggesting a $4 billion cut by making administrative changes. “We’ll be on our last $3 at the end of the month,” said Rafaela Rivera, 34, a home health aide who earns $10 an hour.

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@I_Karumba

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Media Matters: Former 60 Minutes Producer Mapes: Benghazi Story Aimed At “Obsessed” Right-Wing Audience

Former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes, who was fired for her role in a controversial 2004 story about President Bush’s service in the Air National Guard, accused CBS News of pandering to a right-wing audience with her former program’s recent Benghazi report, for which the network has been criticized and forced to retract.

“My concern is that the story was done very pointedly to appeal to a more conservative audience’s beliefs about what happened at Benghazi,” Mapes said by telephone from her Texas home. “They appear to have done that story to appeal specifically to a politically conservative audience that is obsessed with Benghazi and believes that Benghazi was much more than a tragedy.”

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Ed Kilgore: Supply Meets Demand On Benghazi

…. the reporter, Lara Logan, has long expressed righteous anger that the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens hasn’t been avenged. So Logan had a personal agenda that nicely merged with her personal interest in getting a big “scoop”.

…. Lara Logan brought the supply and Lindsey Graham brought the demand and a bill of goods were sold. Graham and other Republicans, of course, can now simply argue the dubious report “raised questions,” and that’s all they need for more wallowing in the “story.” An apology from their supplier isn’t enough.

Full post here

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Charles Pierce: My Profession Steps On A Rake

It seems that Senator Aqua Buddha has been shitcanned by the ghost of Sun Myung Moon just in time to get hired by the ghost of Andrew Breitbart. This is a remarkably straight career path into the manure bin for the formerly rising young champion of the brogressive Left, especially those who don’t want to be droned before they score with that cute barista. (Guess what? The champion of human freedom voted against ENDA because liberty!)….

And then there’s 60 Minutes.

Oy. Also, vey.

I held off for a while on this because history tells us that jumping ugly early can have very unfortunate results on stories like this but, Jesus H. Christ on tour with Iron Maiden, does it look like the show screwed the pooch on its big scoop regarding Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! ….

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Business Insider: Here’s The Real Reason People Hate Their Individual Market Health Insurance

Unlike people on Medicare, Medicaid and employer-based insurance, people who buy coverage in the individual market know exactly how much they’re paying for it. A plan that you would only rate “fair” when you have to pay $5,000 for it might merit an “excellent” if its apparent cost to you were only $1,000. Almost all of us should be dissatisfied with our health plans, because the American health care system involves paying twice as much as people in other rich countries do to achieve similar health outcomes.

People love their employer-provided coverage because they have no idea how much it’s costing them. One of the reasons I like the disruptions created by Obamacare, and wish there were more of them, is that many of them involve exposing the true cost of American health care to consumers.

The law requires employers to start reporting the cost of employer-sponsored insurance on W-2 forms, so people know how much of their compensation is eaten up by health insurance. Successful health reform should bring that transparency to other parts of the market. That will make the public angry — not because they’re being made worse off, but because they’re finally realizing how bad they’ve had it all along.

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Igor Volsky: Oversight Chairman Accused Of Leaking Misleading Information About Obamacare Implementation

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of selectively leaking misinformation about HealthCare.gov in an effort to portray administration officials as misleading the public about the implementation of Obamacare. On Thursday, Issa appeared on Fox News and claimed that he had obtained documents proving that contractors working on Healthcare.gov believed that the site could only handle 1,100 users before launch.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had publicly stated that the administration believed that the site could handle 60,000 concurrent users. But in a letter to Issa, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the Committee, pointed to an interview Issa’s own staff conducted with Henry Chao, the Deputy Information Officer. Chao explained that the 1,000 figure were “the results of a much smaller testing environment” and were not conducted “with final production testing of the system at full capacity.”

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On This Day:

President Obama offers a toast during the state dinner hosted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Istana Negara State Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama winks at another guest at the head table as she participates in a state dinner for her husband President Obama at Istana Merdeka

08
Nov
13

Repeat After Me: There Is No Liberal Media

The previous President, after the attacks of 9/11, engineered a war with a state which, though abysmal to its own people, had had no direct or indirect link with any terror attack on the United States. It was, if anything, a mortal enemy of the group which carried out the attacks, as that group saw the ruling regime as corrupt and un-Islamic. As the history of that war is being written, the regime sought to stave off war, willing to give the previous President anything he wanted, save for the regime’s destruction. Of course, the regime as it existed stood in the way of the grand plan to remake the Middle East; its destruction, not its containment, was the goal. Anything short of political—and literal—suicide would not suit the ultimate purpose. So the country and the world were lied into a war, which cost nearly 5,000 American lives, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; a war which was supposed to last a few weeks and pay for itself instead dragged on for nearly a decade, costing over $1 trillion. And the Middle East, far from being remade into a collection of benevolent American satrapies, teetered on the edge of all-out war for the eight years of the George W. Bush administration.

That President, however, was never asked to apologize for the disaster he had wrought. And if ever he had been asked to apologize in a face-to-face interview, he never offered one: no apology for the countless dead, for the treasure wasted, for the lives destroyed. It’s just not the done thing.

Well, it used to not be the done thing.

Continue reading ‘Repeat After Me: There Is No Liberal Media’

08
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and her husband, Dr. Devisingh Ramsingh Shekhawat, greet guests during the state dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2010 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern):

9:05: The President departs the White House

11:45: Arrives New Orleans

12:15: Tours the Port of New Orleans

1:0: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a workshop for high school students interested in filmmaking careers

1:10: President Obama delivers remarks

2:10: Departs New Orleans

3:45: Arrives Miami

4:25: Attends a DNC event (Private Residence, Coral Gables)

6:20: Delivers remarks at a DSCC event (Private Residence, Miami)

7:45: Delivers remarks at a DSCC event (Private Residence, Miami)

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Media Matters: How CBS Could Have Avoided The 60 Minutes Benghazi Fiasco

CBS News’ extended refusal to specifically address questions at the heart of its controversial 60 Minutes Benghazi terror report ran counter to the counsel CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager has given in recent years about the importance of journalists admitting their mistakes and being transparent in the process.

In public speeches, Fager, who also holds the title of 60 Minutes’ Executive Producer, has repeatedly insisted that for the good of a free press, journalists must acknowledge errors when they are made and must be honest with news consumers when doubts arise about their work. For the simmering Benghazi controversy however, CBS News embraced a mostly non-responsive strategy, exactly the opposite of what Fager has preached.

The problems with 60 Minutes’ politically charged Benghazi report were self-evident in terms of the witness the program featured. Yet CBS News executives refused for a full week to address the central issue regarding the fact that that witness had told two contradictory tales about the Benghazi terror attack and what he did that night. Instead officials, including Fager, continued to publicly laud its Benghazi work (the news chairman remained “proud” of it, as of November 6), despite the fact that, as one veteran journalist put it, the report represented a “serious problem” for the network.

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Steve Benen: CBS backs off unraveling Benghazi tale

It’s been nearly two weeks since CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a report that caused considerable excitement from Benghazi conspiracy theorists. Though much of the report, a full year in the making, covered familiar ground, the segment also highlighted an alleged witness to the attack, who said he scaled a 12-foot wall, beat an al Qaeda fighter with the butt of his rifle, and personally saw Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body.

The man’s name is Dylan Davies – he used a pseudonym on “60 Minutes” for no apparent reason – and he has a book coming out about his Benghazi experience, published by a CBS-owned company that releases far-right books from conservative personalities.

Almost immediately, Davies’ story started to unravel … The CBS reporters involved with the story continued to defend it anyway, brushing off broad criticism as politically motivated, and insisting that their segment was accurate. On last week’s edition of “60 Minutes,” the show featured feedback from viewers who cheered the segment, but made no mention of the burgeoning controversy.

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Steve Benen: Job growth picks up steam unexpectedly

If there was one thing everyone seemed to expect this morning, it was a discouraging jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After all, these new figures cover the month of October, which means they’ll include the period in which congressional Republicans shut down the federal government.

Imagine our surprise, then, when the new jobs data turned out to be pretty good.

According to the new BLS report, the U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October, double economists’ expectations. The private sector added 212,000 jobs – the second best total of the year thus far.

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ThinkProgress: The Cancer Patient From The Wall Street Journal Will Likely Save Thousands Under Obamacare

Edie Sundby, a Stage-4 gallbladder cancer patient who is losing her individual health care policy in California, could pay less for comprehensive insurance in Obamacare’s health care exchanges.

Sundby’s story first gained national attention after she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, arguing that Obamacare would cost her more and force her to abandon her cancer doctors….

… During an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, she described her old catastrophic policy as “fabulous” and “fantastic,” in part because it paid for treatment by both Stanford and UC San Diego doctors. But the policy also came at a high cost. The AARP reported last year in a profile of Sundby’s fight against cancer that the family spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on treatment beyond the cost of coverage…..

And so when ThinkProgress estimated the cost of a high-deductible policy offered by PacifiCare and then compared that plan to a policy in the California exchange, we found that the family would pay slightly less and benefit from a whole host of new consumer protections.

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TPM: The 5 Million People The GOP Cut Out Of Obamacare

Starting Jan. 1, nearly five million people who were supposed to be covered under Obamacare won’t be because their states have refused to expand Medicaid.

The Medicaid expansion field is tentatively set for 2014, and the nation is split down the middle: 25 states (plus D.C.) are expanding, and 25 states are not, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

…. half the states, all of them with either a Republican governor or a GOP-controlled chamber in the legislature (or both) that opposed the change, have declined to participate.

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@WhiteHouse

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NYT: $10 Minimum Wage Proposal Has Growing Support From White House

The White House has thrown its weight behind a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.

“The president has long supported raising the minimum wage so hard-working Americans can have a decent wage for a day’s work to support their families and make ends meet,” a White House official said.

President Obama, the official continued, supports the Harkin-Miller bill, also known as the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from its current $7.25.

The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Tom Harkin of Iowa and in the House by George Miller of California, both Democrats. It would raise the minimum wage — in three steps of 95 cents each, taking place over two years — to $10.10, and then index it to inflation.

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MoooOOOooorning! That was a bit of a rush job, so I’m sure I’m missing lots of stuff – will catch up through the day.

Happy Friday!

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28
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern):

12:0: President Obama delivers remarks at the installation of FBI Director James Comey

12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press

7:0: President Obama’s interview with Fusion airs

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USA Today: Obama to speak to new Hispanic cable network

A new cable network targeting young Hispanics has a special guest for its opening day on Monday: President Obama.

Fusion – which describes itself as a “news, pop culture, and satire TV and digital network,” and is a joint venture of ABC News and Univision – announced Sunday that Obama will be a guest on “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos” at 7 p.m. Monday.

…. Obama “will speak with Fusion White House Correspondent and ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila,” says Fusion. “The interview will take place Monday afternoon at the White House and air first on ‘AMERICA.’”

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Can’t get enough of this toon:

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Steve Benen: Obama blasts ‘rooting for failure’

President Obama, not surprisingly, devoted his weekly address over the weekend to problems with the Affordable Care Act’s website … as part of the same message, Obama added an even more pointed sentiment, directed at the law’s critics on the right.

“[It’s] interesting to see Republicans in Congress expressing so much concern that people are having trouble buying health insurance through the new website – especially considering they’ve spent the last few years so obsessed with denying those same people access to health insurance that they just shut down the government and threatened default over it.

“…. it’s well past the time for folks to stop rooting for its failure. Because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success.”

…. American norms suggest policymakers aren’t supposed to actively, publicly hope that the nation’s fortunes take a turn for the worse. It’s one thing for officials to predict failure; it’s something else entirely when they hope for failure. But these norms were apparently abandoned around January 2009….

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In which CNN admit they’re only looking for bad news stories on Obamacare – remarkable is the word.

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Rate Shock and Premium Joy: Now It’s Real

The conversation about Obamacare shifted a bit over the weekend. Nobody has forgotten about the technical problems with healthcare.gov. But now critics are also focusing on something else: Reports of sharp premium increases that some individual consumers are facing. In the last few weeks, several hundred thousand Americans have received notices from their health insurance companies, effectively cancelling their existing policies. These consumers can get new policies, of course, but frequently they have to pay more for them.

The news reports are real—and not at all surprising. Obamacare is transforming the existing health insurance market, in ways that will force some people to pay more than they do now. But that’s only part of the story. Many other people, quite possibly the majority, will pay less than they do now. And even those paying more will be getting more comprehensive, more secure insurance.

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Booman: The Real Deadbeats

Karen Tumulty has piece in the Washington Post on why West Virginia has moved from a solidly Democratic state to an increasingly Republican state (at least, on the national level). She’s starts out with an anecdote about Pineville, where Jack Kennedy made a famous speech two weeks before winning the West Virginia primary in 1960.

….. You’ve got people for whom welfare and food stamps are “a way of life” to the point that they won’t take good work even if it is offered unless the pay comes under the table, and they think the Kenyan Muslim president is a socialist who is trying to take their hard-earned money and give it to undeserving blacks. President Obama is trying to screw them, but Hillary would be just fine.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: Graham pushes new obstructionism based on Benghazi conspiracy theories

When congressional Republicans finally ended their government shutdown two weeks ago, it was only natural for political observers to wonder what GOP lawmakers would tackle next. The most common guesses were obvious: (1) keep trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act; (2) kill immigration reform; and (3) bring back Benghazi conspiracy theories.

The first is well underway, as is the second, and right on cue, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is back to the third.

More here

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Charles Pierce: The Slow, Sad, Yet Oddly Entertaining Decline Of Marco Rubio

His strength is failing. The shrink-wrap is winning. And Marco Rubio (R-Flashinthepan) continues to flail around like a scarecrow in a windstorm. When our adventure began, young Marco was going to be the smiling face of the rebranding of the Republican party, which was going to habla the daylights out of the ol’ espanol because it finally had concluded that it wasn’t going to win an national election even if it did get the votes of everyone who owns the complete Murder, She Wrote on Blu-Ray. Of course, then Rubio made the mistake of believing that the party was serious about this whole rebranding business, proposed an immigration reform plan that made a little bit of sense, and then found his standing in the party sinking into Middle Earth. Ever since, he has done everything to romance the base save dress up as Angela Lansbury.

More here

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Steve Benen: Senate readies ENDA for floor vote

Back in July, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee easily approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), 15 to 7. Since then, however, there’s been little action – Congress was out in August, and by September, the prospect of a government shutdown and/or debt-ceiling crisis dominated the landscape.

But with the crises having past, at least for now, senators are once again returning to the issue.

More here

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John Barnett

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On This Day:

Orlando, Oct 28, 2012 (Photos by Scout Tufankjian)

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I feel bad – I forgot TOD’s 4th birthday last Thursday :???:

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And 22 millions thank yoooooooous from all the blog tyrants for the number we’ll hit today!

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

06
Aug
13

News Of The Day

ALERT: PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL BE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO AT 11:35PM ET / 10:35PM CT

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President Barack Obama smiles as he is warmly received before speaking about housing at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona.

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USA Today: Obama Says It Is Time To Wind Down Fannie And Freddie

Almost five years after taxpayers bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, President Obama said on Tuesday that it’s time for private investors to take a bigger role in the mortgage market. Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008 before being bailed out with almost $200 billion in taxpayer funds. But with the nation’s real estate market on the mend, Obama said in an address in Phoenix on home ownership that it is time to wind down the two companies and make clear that the days of a guaranteed government bailout are over.

“For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag,” Obama said. “It was heads we win, tails you lose. And it was wrong.” With his remarks, Obama for the first time endorsed bipartisan efforts in the Senate for mortgage reform. At the same time, he made it clear that he expects any legislation will spell out a limited government role for backing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the future, and that it must ensure Americans’ continued access to a 30-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate.

More here

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USA Today: U.S. Files Criminal Charges Over Benghazi Attack

A Libyan militia leader has been charged in last year’s terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, two federal officials said.

Ahmed Kattalah is the first person to be charged in the Sept. 11 incident that sparked a political firestorm about the initial U.S. response to the assault.

Because the charges remain under seal, the officials were not authorized to comment publicly.

More here

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President Barack Obama tours the home framing assembly area at Erickson Construction in Chandler, Arizona.

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AP: US Gov’t Sues BoFA Over Mortgage Bond Sale

The U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America is based. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Bank of America there, too.

The lawsuits accuse the second-largest U.S. bank of misleading investors about the risks of the mortgages tied to the securities. And the government said the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network. That made the mortgages more vulnerable to default, they said. The bank disclosed the percentage of such mortgage loans in the investment only to a select group of investors, the suits alleged.

More here

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CBS News: CDC: Obesity Rates Falling Among U.S. Preschoolers

A new government study of preschoolers shows there has been progress in the fight against childhood obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new report found about one in eight preschool-aged kids are obese, but the rates may be falling. CDC researchers studied more than 11 million low-income preschool children in 43 U.S. states and territories from 2008 through 2011. They found obesity rates fell in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Health officials hope the findings are a sign of things to come.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” Mrs. Obama said in a news release from the White House. “Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children,” she said.

More here

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Read First Lady Michelle Obama’s Full Statement

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Jessica Chasmar: Oprah Winfrey: Trayvon Martin ‘Same Thing’ As Emmett Till Lynching

While promoting her new movie “The Butler,” Oprah Winfrey told The Grio that the death of Trayvon Martin was the “same thing” as the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly flirting with a white woman in 1955. “Let me just tell you — in my mind, same thing,” she said in a preview of the interview on MSNBC. Last week, Oprah said Americans know “diddly-squat” about the history of the civil rights movement. She also said that when she hears the N-word, she thinks of the “millions” of people “who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.

More here

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So delightful to watch. Yay FLOTUS!

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The Grio: Michelle Obama Turns To Hip-Hop To Promote Childhood Obesity Campaign

Michelle Obama is adding another fun element to her healthy kids campaign that seeks to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Like her husband, the first lady has turned to hip-hop to demonstrate a point. She is distributing a hip-hop album complete with 10 music videos and 19 tracks to support her “Let’s Move!” nutrition program. Obama is partnering with Hip-Hop Public Health and Partnership for a Healthier America to release thenSongs for a Healthier America album on September 30th.

The single “Everybody” features the first lady joined by songstress Jordin Sparks, emcee Doug E. Fresh, and medical expert Dr. Oz. The video shows children of all ages dancing lightheartedly between takes of kids doing jumping jacks push ups, and drills.

“For years I have known that we need to reach children in the formative years to educate them to live a life of prevention,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz.  “The best way to do this is to build a bridge with the artists that they see on television and listen to. When someone like Doug E. Fresh shows our youngsters that health can be fun and cool, we are winning the battle.” Some other songs on the album include “Veggie Luv”, “Hip Hop LEAN”, and “Get Up Sit Up” most of which will be hip-hop based, according to U.S. News and Wold Reports.

More here

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President Barack Obama listens as Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, briefs him on the terror threat, in the Map Room of the White House, Aug. 6, 2013. Also participating in the briefing are National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama meets with former Negro League baseball players in the Cross Hall of the White House, Aug. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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18
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with children attending Camp Noah as they make trail mix at the McAlpine Park Recreation Center in Birmingham, Ala., July 18, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11:25: The President delivers a statement on the Affordable Care Act

12:25: First Lady Michelle Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule visit Urban Alliance Chicago

3:0: The President participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony (closed press)

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Steve Benen: Jobless claims show sharp improvement, reach three-month low

Last week’s report on initial unemployment claims was unexpectedly discouraging, making the good news this morning that more reassuring.

The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits dropped 24,000 to 334,000 in the week that ended July 13, hitting the lowest level of new claims since early May, signaling a slower pace of layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims to fall to 341,000 from an original estimate of 360,000 in the prior week. However, it’s difficult to precisely measure claims this month because of distortions from events such as annual auto plant shutdowns and the July 4 holiday, they said…. The four-week average of initial claims, a less volatile gauge, declined 5,250 to 346,000.

More here

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Philip Bump: Those of you who are old enough may remember a time when Barack Obama was plagued with scandal. “Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill,” Politico yelped. The suffix “-gate” was added to various words. So what happened to the scandals? For the most part, they’ve been hollowed out. The scandal: Benghazi. What it was: The death of four Americans at a diplomatic (read: CIA) outpost in the Libyan city of Benghazi last September 11th bubbled for a while. The release of emails suggesting a cover-up kicked conspiracy theories into high gear.

How real it was in the first place: Not very. Current status: Last rites administered Those emails reported by ABC News were only part of the story. The White House released the full email chain, making it clear that the administration’s involvement in drafting a set of post-attack talking points wasn’t what opponents suggested. (We even declared the scandal dead the same week.)

More here

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President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office before a phone call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, July 18, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Chris Mizelle, Director for Russia and Central Asia, NSS; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Is the Right’s Worst Nightmare

News from New York: it looks as if insurance premiums on the individual market are going to plunge thanks to Obamacare. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; in fact, the New York experience perfectly illustrates why Obamacare had to look the way it does. And it also illustrates why conservatives should be terrified about this legislation, as it takes effect. Americans may have had a lot of misgivings in advance, thanks to vast, deliberately spread misinformation. But I agree with Matt Yglesias — unless the GOP finds even more ways to sabotage the plan, this thing is going to work, it’s going to be extremely popular, and it’s going to wreak havoc with conservative ideology.

Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?

Full post here

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Abby Ohlheiser: House Republicans followed up on the Obama administration’s decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for one year by voting to make that decision a law, and to extend that delay to all individuals, too. It’s a more limited protest vote than what we’re used to seeing from the House GOP on Obamacare: There have been 38 legislative attempts to revoke either all or part of the health care reform law since 2011.

On Wednesday, both votes to delay passed easily: 264 – 161 for the employer mandate, and 251 – 174 for the individual mandate. They will not become law: President Obama would veto both bills if they made it to his desk.

More here

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren embraces Richard Cordray following a statement by President Barack Obama on Cordray’s confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, July 17

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Happy 95th Birthday Nelson Mandela!

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

30
May
13

This and That

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Media Matters: CNN Botches Key Facts In Holder Story

Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN’s Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans – wildly hyped by Fox News – that Holder may have perjured himself….

More here

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Greg Sargent: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 73-22 – thinks we should be placing a higher priority on the economy and unemployment than on the “scandals” gripping Washington. That includes 72 percent of independents, who are critical in midterm elections. At the same time, a variety of indicators, from rising home prices to buoyed consumer confidence to falling gas prices, suggest that the economy is improving at a stronger clip than previously anticipated.

If the recovery is strong next year, it could help Dems hold the Senate….

More here

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TPM: The White House has received more than 120 applications from health insurance plans looking to sell on the new federal health care exchange …. The success of the Affordable Care Act partially hinges on competition in order to keep premiums low, and, according to the memo, “the early signs are promising and demonstrate a significant increase in competition and an array of options for consumers everywhere.”

One out of four insurers that have applied to sell insurance in the marketplace is new to the individual insurance market and at least one new provider has been added in 75 percent of states with a federally run marketplace…..

More here

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Quote of the week? Century?

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the oil giant’s annual meeting, Wednesday.

See Steve Benen

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Jonathan Chait: Pete Wehner, former Minister of Propaganda for the Bush administration, sees the excitement of the Obama scandals receding, and he knows just how to explain this. Not a lack of evidence to date that anybody in the administration has done anything wrong. It’s media bias ….. Yeah, that sounds right….

Full post here

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USA Today: The pro-Obama group Organizing for Action will hold 39 “founders events” across the country this weekend as part of an effort to build separate state chapters.

“OFA supporters, volunteers, campaign alumni and donors will come together to discuss what OFA has already accomplished as well as our goals and the path forward,” said an announcement from the group….

The Illinois State Founders Summit will be held Friday and Saturday in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and will feature remarks by OFA Chairman Jim Messina and Executive Director Jon Carson.

They plan to discuss “how OFA plans how to continue to ensure the American people’s voices are heard by lawmakers as we fight to tip the scales of power back to the American people and away from the special interests to advance the issues the American people voted for in November,” said the statement.

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Oh dear:

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