Posts Tagged ‘Bob



12
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Four years ago today: President Obama hugs Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient actor Sidney Poitier during the award ceremony in the East Room of the White House,  August 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Grio: Holder to call for major reform of mandatory minimum sentencing

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a speech today that the Department of Justice will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences, a major shift in American drug policy and an indication that President Obama wants to reduce the number of Americans who serve long prison sentences over drug crimes and rethink American laws that have existed for decades.

“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder is expected to say Monday at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Bar Association, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to theGrio….

In effect, Holder is calling for prosecutors to charge defendants for lesser crimes than they may have actually committed, thereby allowing juries and judges more latitude in imposing sentences, instead of following mandatory minimums created by Congress that many in both parties say are now outdated.

More here

See SmartyPants

1:0 EST: AG Eric Holder Address the American Bar Association

C-Span

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OFA

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Love this:

Michael Tomasky: Obama Is Giving Up Some Executive Power, and He’ll Still Get No Credit

Predictably, everyone is unimpressed by the measures Barack Obama has announced to bring a little ray of transparency to America’s surveillance programs …. I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. Of course he’ll get no credit for that, because civil libertarians tend to be absolutists and other liberals tend to be afraid or even terrified of their wrath…

…. Obama was headed down this course before the Snowden leaks. Those began on June 5. But on May 23, he gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he foreshadowed the moves he just announced. Combine all this with John Kerry’s recent announcement that we have a plan for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, and you might have thought liberals would be cheering.

I suppose some liberals are. I am. But not civil libertarians. With them, it’s all or nothing. If you’re not signed on to the whole program, you might as well be Joe McCarthy….

…. Obama has public opinion to think about. And of course he has keeping the country safe to worry about, and no one at the ACLU is sitting in on those intel briefings and learning the things the president is learning every day about threats to the nation, and no one at the ACLU will be responsible if our wall of security is breached. Obama is responsible, and I think mere willingness of the man in that position to have this conversation, let alone take some concrete steps, does him enormous credit.

Full post here

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Truly, these people are deranged:

Next tweet will probably be: ‘Ask not what the Nobel Prize can do for Bradley Manning, ask what Bradley Manning can do for the Nobel Prize’

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Andrew Liepman (LA Times): What did Edward Snowden get wrong? Everything

Edward Snowden is now out of his limbo at Moscow’s airport, presumably ensconced in some Russian dacha, wondering what the next phase of his young life will bring. Having spent 30 years in the intelligence business, I fervently hope the food is lousy, the winter is cold, and the Internet access is awful. But I worry less about what happens to this one man and more about the damage Snowden has done — and could still do — to America’s long-term ability to strike the right balance between privacy and security.

More here

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LittleGreenFootballs: Sen. Al Franken: “I Assure You This Isn’t About Spying on the American People”

“I have a high level of confidence that it is used to protect us”

Noted far right nutjob (do I need a snark tag on that?) Sen. Al Franken says he was not surprised by the Greenwald/Snowden NSA revelations…..

More here

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Steve Benen: Steve King just can’t help himself

Democrats and other proponents of immigration reform caught another lucky break over the weekend: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on “Meet the Press” yesterday, and just kept talking. If the progressive goal is to see reform opponents discredit themselves on the national stage, the right-wing Iowan has become the left’s most reliable ally.

Indeed, who do you think was happier to see King on the air, the DNC or the RNC?

More here

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The Root: Politics Gets Its Own Cheerios Ad – The black son of a white candidate tackles stop and frisk in a campaign ad.

Earlier this year, Cheerios generated extensive media attention — and countless racist comments online — for becoming the first major American brand to feature a mixed-race family in a television advertisement. Now, an ad for a political campaign is poised to be just as groundbreaking, and potentially controversial.

This weekend television advertisements began airing starring the teenage son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is white, his wife, Chirlane McCray, is black, and their son, Dante, sports a sizable Afro in the ad, in which he makes the case for why he believes his father is the best candidate for mayor.

While he touches upon a number of issues, including affordable housing, the ad’s most powerful moment comes when he talks about his father’s position on stop and frisk….

More here

The ad:

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That pic again, but a bigger, shinier, lovelier version:

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On this day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Pete Souza)

President Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor meet in the Oval Office prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama greet guests at a reception for Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients and their families, Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Neighbors sing Happy Birthday to President Obama during a walk in the Hyde Park/Kenwood section of Chicago, Ill., Aug. 12, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOOooorning!

05
Aug
13

This and That

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Tuesday (all times Eastern):

10:10 AM: President Obama departs the White House

1:40 PM: Arrives in Phoenix

2:10: Tours Erickson Construction

3:05: Delivers remarks

4:10: Departs Phoenix

6:25: Arrives in Los Angeles

7:30: Tapes an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

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By now, you may have heard of the campaign to undermine Obamacare that the conservative group FreedomWorks is running. If not, read Sarah Kliff’s article on it in the Washington Post. The article will take you inside the “Obamacare resistance,” as she calls it, where leaders are printing up fake Obamacare cards and urging young people to burn them in protest. The idea is to undermine the law: If only older and sicker people sign up for coverage in large numbers, then insurers will have to raise premiums, increasing costs for the govenrment and for those who buy without subsidies.

More here

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President Obama walks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the South Grounds of the White House, Aug. 5 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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USA Today: President Obama, who has addressed VFW and American Legion conventions over the years, will speak this week to an extra-special group of veterans: The disabled.

Organizers of the Disabled American Veterans National Convention in Orlando announced Monday that Obama will address their group on Saturday.

First lady Michelle Obama will introduce her husband.

More here

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Zillow

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NYT: Someone Tell Cantor: The Deficit Is Shrinking

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, for a preview of what will happen the next time Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. It was a remarkable exchange, in part because Mr. Cantor made a remarkable error.

…. For your convenience, we’ve highlighted the mistake. Mr. Cantor appeared to be defending his party’s shenanigans by arguing that the “ultimate problem” is the “growing deficit.” The thing is, the deficit is not growing. It is shrinking.

More here

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Steve Benen: Florida’s Scott readies second ‘disgusting’ voter purge

The voting process in Florida last year was a national disgrace, which was unfortunately the result of a deliberate scheme – state Republican policymakers closed the early-voting window, cracked down on voter-registration drives, and created painfully long voting lines, especially for minorities and the poor.

But that’s not all they did.

Last summer, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) launched an aggressive voter purge, which he claimed was necessary to remove non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls. As we discussed at the time, this too was a fiasco …. in an unfortunate twist, Rick Scott apparently enjoys this disaster so much, he’s ready to do it again.

More here

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@WhiteHouse

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Charles Pierce: The Rugged Rhetoric Of Reince Priebus

Obvious anagram Reince Priebus, figurehead high priest of the Silly Party, has decided to butch himself up again.

…. Reince is never more adorable than when he pretends he is an Important Person Of Influence. Really. It’s like watching a toddler in a Mark Hanna suit.

Read here

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Steve Benen: The wrong message for the wrong issue

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Steve Benen: Can a president be a radical socialist and a Wall Street shill?

….. Republicans can tell Americans that President Obama is a radical socialist who hates free-enterprise capitalism, or they can tell us he’s a Wall Street shill, but when they make both arguments at the same time, it’s awfully difficult to take them seriously. Indeed, it reinforces the thesis that, even now, the right still doesn’t know how it wants to criticize the president.

But I also believe there’s another angle to this to keep in mind.

For good or ill, Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to reach compromises with congressional Republicans, frequently offering to accept GOP policy goals that congressional Democrats find abhorrent.

But because so many congressional Republicans have become post-policy nihilists, GOP officials not only reject attempts at compromise, they often announce their opposition to whatever it was they urged Obama to do in the first place.

More here

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Random pic from the last few days because, well, because:

President Obama boards Marine One to fly to Camp David on August 3 at Andrews Air Force Base

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I completely missed this …. Jim Messina will be working for David Cameron? Seriously? (Michael Tomasky)

This is almost as awful as the prospect of Wayne Rooney playing for Chelsea.

Oh, I need a brandy.

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Woah……

WP: The Washington Post Co. agreed Monday to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.

Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to The Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.

More here

James Fallows: Why the Sale of the Washington Post Seems So Significant – A moment that will define an era’s upheaval in journalism.

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Another exclusive™ from my break in the rain: I now know for certain that I am blood-related to my dog-nephew – he knows bay leaves are evil too. The leftovers from his dinner:

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A huuuuuuuuuuge PS:

31
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:10: The President meets with the House Democratic Caucus, United States Capitol

11:25: Meets with the Senate Democratic Caucus, United States Capitol

(C-Span have live coverage listed for 11:15, but the meetings are closed so they’ll probably just show statements after)

2:10: President Obama welcomes the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies to honor the team and their 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship

3:0 Congressional leaders join together for a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (C-Span 3)

4:30: The President and VP Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

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Steve Benen: Economic growth exceeds expectations

Going into this morning, expectations for economic growth in the second quarter — April, May, and June of this year — were quite poor, making the actual GDP report a little more encouraging.

The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7% annual rate in the second quarter, buoyed by a solid gain in consumer spending and a sharp increase in business investment, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected growth to total 1.0%.

To be sure, 1.7% GDP growth is not, by any fair measure, good news. It tells us the economy is growing, but the recovery is at best sluggish. But given the news we were expecting, 1.7% is a relatively pleasant surprise, especially since the previous quarter’s growth was revised down to 1.1%.

More here

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Bloomberg: Economy in U.S. Expands More Than Forecast on Inventories

The economy in the U.S. grew more than projected in the second quarter, reflecting an unexpected pickup in inventory building as consumer spending cooled. Growth in the previous three months was revised down.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 1.7 percent annualized rate, after a 1.1 percent gain the prior quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 1 percent advance for last quarter. Consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, climbed 1.8 percent after increasing 2.3 percent.

Job gains and rising home prices are shoring up Americans’ confidence and lifting automobile sales and production, making it likely the U.S. will pick up once government spending cuts and tax increases pose less of a restraint. The report also showed inflation is falling further below the Federal Reserve’s goal….

More here

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Steve Benen: Reality gets in the way of far-right shutdown scheme

As a large group of Republicans push for a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act, Norm Ornstein offered some compelling context. “You could say it’s a do-nothing Congress but that doesn’t do justice to it,” he said. “These guys are doing something, which is to destroy the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare.”

That’s plainly true, though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), arguably the main ringleader of the scheme, apparently believes destroying the economic fabric of the country by holding the functions of government hostage to a non-negotiable demand to eliminate Obamacare is a fine idea. As Sarah Kliff reported, however, there is a flaw in the right-wing premise…..

More here

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Steve Benen: ATF finally poised to move forward with real leadership

Ask conservative opponents of gun reforms what they’d like to see from law enforcement, and you’ll probably get a predictable answer: we should enforce the gun laws we already have, not approve new ones. For the last several years, however, that’s been easier said than done.

Enforcement of existing gun laws generally falls under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which has lacked a permanent, Senate-confirmed leader for the last seven years, thanks to opposition from Republicans and the National Rifle Association, both of which have reflexively balked at the very idea of an ATF chief.

With this in mind, we may be poised for a breakthrough this week….

More here

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ThinkProgress: Texas Lawmakers Are Too Busy Focusing On Abortion Restrictions To Get Anything Else Done

Just over an hour after Texas legislators concluded their second special session — an extra lawmaking session they used to enact sweeping abortion restrictions — Gov. Rick Perry (R) called them back for a third one. An outstanding highway funding bill is the only item on the agenda. “When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher,” the governor noted in a statement.

Perry cited that same transportation measure as one of the reasons he believed it was necessary to call the first special legislative session at the beginning of June. But instead of focusing on getting that done, the governor demonstrated a different set of priorities — adding a slew of anti-abortion provisions that were unable to advance during the state’s regular session to the docket.

More here

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Bob Cesca: Bradley Manning Lives in a Nation of Laws, and, Hero or Not, He Broke 16 of Those Laws

While fleeing from the law in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden encouraged a return to “the rule of law rather than men.” In spite of his politically incorrect usage of “men” instead of “men and women,” he’s right. Generally speaking, individual citizens shouldn’t be held above the law — least of all a soldier named Pfc. Bradley Manning who stole 720,000 classified documents and handed them over to be be indiscriminately posted for public consumption by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.

More here

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Two years ago today:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden shake hands in the Oval Office following a phone call with House Speaker John Boehner securing a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation’s deficit and avoid default, Sunday, July 31, 2011. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

12
Jul
13

Chat Away

10
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama greets departing Associate Counsel to the President Alison J. “Ali” Nathan, left, Meg Satterthwaite, and their twin sons Oliver and Nathan, in the Outer Oval Office, July 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Daily Presidential Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11:0: The President meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

1:00: Michelle Obama delivers remarks to mayors and other local officials engaged in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties

2:0: The President awards the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal; The First Lady also attends

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Knox News: Makenna Hurd’s tasty banana muffins got her through the White House door. While she was there, the 9-year-old delivered something extra: Hugs for President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

…. Makenna earned the invitation by being one of the winners of a recipe challenge that is part of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to promote healthy eating.

“I’m at the White House!” exclaimed Makenna, who has Down syndrome.

…. As news photographers jostled to record the scene, Obama squatted down by Makenna’s seat and thanked her for coming. Makenna thanked him back, threw her arms around his neck and gave him a hug.

Her mother, Amanda Hurd, who watched with tears in her eyes, was so caught up in the moment that she forgot to pull out her own camera and take photos.

“I was too busy soaking in the fact that my daughter was hugging the president,” Hurd said.

More here

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USA Today: This morning, President Obama meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to talk about the major immigration bill now pending in the U.S. House.

The bill would increase border security and provide a path to citizenship for some 11 million people who are already in the country illegally.

The Obama administration is also releasing a report Wednesday arguing that an overhaul of the immigration system would strengthen the economy, create more jobs, increase worker productivity, and decrease budget deficits.

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This exchange is worth the read. This is how STUPID Republicans are and their stupidity will kill thousands of women

Jennifer Bendery: Texas State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R), the author of the radically anti-abortion bill making its way through the Texas Legislature this week, argued for hours on Tuesday that lawmakers should support her bill because of its strong protections for a person’s “pre-born life.” But back in 2007, she made the case against treating the unborn as people — at least, when it comes to qualifying for health care services. During a House debate on an appropriations bill that year, Laubenberg, a staunch conservative, put forward an amendment that would require expectant mothers to wait three months before they could begin receiving prenatal and perinatal care under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a program that helps cover uninsured children in low-income families.

Laubenberg’s amendment drew criticism from Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia, who said the change would mean that more than 95,000 children, in utero, would be kicked out of the CHIP program. As the two sparred over whether that was true — Anchia cited CHIP data from hospitals, Laubenberg alleged it was “misinformation” — Anchia asked if Laubenberg recognized those in-utero babies as people. “You do know, don’t you, that these are U.S. citizens?” Anchia asked. “But they’re not born yet,” Laubenberg said.

Laubenberg’s response drew a look of shock from Democratic Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who could be seen standing next to Anchia during the exchange. Anchia also appeared to relish the moment as he pressed Laubenberg that she was now arguing against treating a fetus as a person. “That’s the whole point, see?” Anchia said. “You have an anti-life amendment.” Laubenberg fired back that there is “no one more pro-life” in the House than her, and again said Anchia’s data was wrong. Still, something he said must have rattled her because she pulled down her amendment. “I will be back,” Laubenberg said as she prepared to leave the podium. “But right now, out of consideration for the body, I will pull this amendment down.”

More here

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Well, hellooooo Governor Transvaginal Probe

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2012 National Medal of Arts:

Herb Alpert * Lin Arison * Joan Myers * Renée Fleming * Ernest Gaines * Ellsworth Kelly * Tony Kushner * George Lucas * Elaine May * Laurie Olin * Allen Toussaint * Washington Performing Arts Society, Washington, DC

2012 National Humanities Medal:

Edward L. Ayers * William G. Bowen * Jill Ker Conway * Natalie Zemon Davis * Frank Deford * Joan Didion * Robert Putnam¸* Marilynne Robinson¸* Kay Ryan * Robert B. Silvers * Anna Deavere Smith¸* Camilo José Vergara

More here

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More Americans still rightfully angrier at George Bush over the state of the economy than Pres. Barack Obama

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Jared Bernstein: First, “not hurting” isn’t the same as “helping.” But more important, it is hurting. Real GDP growth was only 1.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, with the government sector subtracting 0.9 percent (that’s percentage points) from the growth rate. That’s not all sequestration, of course, but it is implicated.

Catherine Rampell also has a very useful bit of analysis over at the NYT, showing job impacts. As many have, she notes that while public sector jobs have been declining for years now, federal government job losses accelerated in March when the sequester hit; they’re down 40,000 since then.

More here

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Becca Aaronson: After more than 10 hours of debate, the House voted 98-49 to tentatively approve the abortion regulations in House Bill 2, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks and add regulations to abortion providers and facilities that opponents argue would effectively eliminate access to abortion in Texas. The House must approve the bill again on another calendar day before it will be sent to the Senate. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, urged lawmakers to realize that no one is “pro-abortion,” and expressed discontent that some supporters of the bill had labeled opponents of the legislation “baby killers.” She said that the question is not when life begins but rather, “It’s a question of decisions that have to be made along the way.”

Howard said that during the regular session, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came together to increase financing for family planning services, which decrease maternal deaths, infant deaths and unplanned pregnancies. “What we’re talking about here is going backwards,” she said. “It’s embarrassing that we’re doing this.”

More here

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Michael Tomasky: There’s an assumption embedded in the argument that no one disputes: namely, that whites will always be as conservative as they are now and will always vote Republican in the same numbers they do now. This assumption is wrong. White people—yep, even working-class white people—are going to get less conservative in coming years, so the Republicans’ hopes of building a white-nationalist party will likely be dashed in the future even by white people themselves.

Everyone knows and concedes all this. And everyone counters it by saying that the Republicans will just goose the less-educated white vote. As I noted above, everyone agrees that that vote is theirs for the goosing. But what if it isn’t? Back in March, the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute released a big poll on immigration. Those findings are interesting as far as they go, but the questions and results went beyond that. It’s the first poll I’ve seen that breaks the white working class into four distinct age groups (65-plus, 50-64, 30-49, 18-29) and asks respondents attitudes about a broad range of social issues. And guess what? White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!

More here

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From Monday:

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Fantastic takedown of Sean Trende’s “GOP WILL BE SAVED BY MISSING WHITE VOTERS” drivel; using FACTS

ThinkProgress: As GOP House members continue their Kamikaze mission to scuttle the immigration reform bill, many political observers are wondering why. After all, isn’t it obvious that Republicans need more minority, particularly Hispanic support, and that therefore their self-interest should lead them to support a reasonable bill? Karl Rove thinks so. But lots and lots of Republicans dissent from that analysis, preferring to put their faith in a group they’re much more comfortable with: white voters. The most influential empirical analysis supporting this view was recently published by Sean Trende in a four part series on RealClearPolitics. Trende’s analysis is built around the idea of “missing white voters.”

What he means by this is that, given the estimated number of white voters in 2008 (derived from exit polls) and the natural increase in white eligible voters between 2008 and 2012 there should have been far more white voters than there actually were (again, estimated from the exit polls). He labels the difference between his projected and actual numbers of white voters as “missing” white voters. He goes on to say that “[i]f these white voters had decided to vote, the racial breakdown of the electorate would have been 73.6 percent white, 12.5 percent black, 9.5 percent Hispanic and 2.4 percent Asian — almost identical to the 2008 numbers.” Get it? The only real demographic change of importance between 2008 and 2012 was all those white voters who didn’t show up.

What’s wrong with this analysis? Plenty. Start with Trende’s projected natural increase in white voters—around 1.5 million voters, based on an assumed 55 percent turnout rate of additional white eligible voters. This implies that Trende was using an estimate of around 2.7 million additional eligible whites between 2008 and 2012. That’s wrong: Census data show an increase of only 1.5 million white eligibles. At Trende’s assumed 55 percent turnout rate, that translates into only 825,000 additional white voters from “natural increase.” So: GOP phone home! Your missing white voters have been found, and it turns out they weren’t really missing. They were simply sitting out a relatively low turnout election along with a large number of their minority counterparts. They may be back next time if it’s a higher turnout election — but then again so will a lot of minority voters. Bottom line: your demographic dilemma remains the same. The mix of voters is changing fast to your disadvantage and there is no cavalry of white voters waiting in the wings to rescue you.

More here

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President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Situation Room of the White House, July 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Broccoli Loving Day Courtesy Of President Barack Obama! :D

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21
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

2:05: The President makes a personnel announcement

12:45: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

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USA Today: President Obama will announce Friday that he’s picked James Comey, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to be his next FBI director……

…. Comey, who previously served as deputy attorney general and supervised operations for the Justice Department, was a key player in one of the most dramatic moments of the Bush administration. In 2004, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew Card tried to persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft – who was ill with acute pancreatitis – to reauthorize a warrantless eavesdropping program while in his hospital bed.

Comey learned of Gonzales and Card’s plan and rushed to Ashcroft’s hospital room, along with Mueller. Both threatened to resign if the White House renewed the program. As a result, it was not reauthorized.

More here

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USA Today: …. The President holds his first meeting today with the newly constituted Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, in part to discuss criticism of National Security Agency programs that gather phone and Internet records.

Obama will discuss his recent direction to the Director of National Intelligence to de-classify certain information “to better contextualize these programs, correct misrepresentations, and provide an opportunity for the dialogue he welcomes about the right balance between national security and privacy,” the White House said.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was actually created in 2004 as part of the executive branch, and made an independent agency in 2007, but it has never met amid disputes over its duties.

More here

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AP: The Republican chairman of a House committee considering new abortion regulations in Texas has told more than 300 women that they would not be allowed to testify against the bill because it had become too repetitive.

The predominantly-female audience roared in disapproval when Corsicana Rep. Byron Cook made the announcement. State troopers flooded the room as he and other Republicans left.

The new bills would limit how, when and where women could get abortions in Texas and shut down 38 out or 42 clinics in the state.

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UT/NerdyWonka: I am so proud of the hundreds of Texas men and women who showed up to make their voices heard.

I am proud of us standing up and keeping the debate going for over 14 hours so that the anti-women bills would not just have a smooth sailing through committee.

I am proud of Texans for making sure the world knew that these destructive bills had died in a regular session and the GOP is trying to sneak them past in shoddy special sessions.

I am so proud of everyone who made sure the draconian bill #HB60 trended worldwide on Twitter and made people from other states and countries tune into the fight and realize what damage and destruction really is.

I am proud of the Democratic State Reps who made sure voices were heard even when the GOP Chair Byron Cook tried to shutdown debate.

People forget that California used to be red until the GOP tried to ram down Prop 187 and then California became blue and has stayed blue since then. That is is Texas right now.

What I saw yesterday and into the morning shows that the groundwork for Texas turning purple and eventually blue has been laid. People in states who vote Blue in presidential elections and those who don’t but are controlled by GOP state legislatures and Governors need to be vigilant because these laws have and will spread to your states too. See Ohio for example. These laws have also come to the U.S. House of Rep so be on the lookout. States are a blueprint for what can and will become national anti-women bills and laws.

The war on women is real but the Texas Legislature found out that you don’t mess with Texas women.

We might be controlled by majority republicans but our voices will not be silenced. 2014 is no joke.

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Reuters: It takes an army: Tens of thousands of workers roll out Obamacare

From the chief actuary at the California health insurance exchange that President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law established to the legions of call center staffers who will help people trying to buy insurance through such state exchanges, the number of people working to implement “Obamacare” has reached the tens of thousands, a Reuters analysis has found.

No one said that overhauling healthcare, which accounts for 17 percent of all national spending, was going to happen with a skeleton crew.

State offices that will run insurance exchanges are hiring tens of thousands, either on staff or through outsourcing firms. Federal agencies that are key to implementing the law, such as the Internal Revenue Service, plan to hire thousands more, and private non-profit groups backed by the White House are dispatching thousands of newly hired staffers and volunteers into the field.

More here

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Greg Sargent: In another embarrassment for House Speaker John Boehner, the farm bill went down to a surprise defeat in the House, 195-234. Most Democrats voted against it, because of its deep cuts to food stamps, but what really sealed its fate is that in spite of those cuts, 62 Republicans voted against it, too, apparently because it didn’t cut spending enough.

….. “This underscores that Boehner cannot pass bills on his own,” Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein told me in a quick interview today. “He can’t do anything with only Republicans. The real power center in the House is not Boehner. It’s not Cantor. It’s not Ryan. It’s not McCarthy. It’s the extreme right. This shows the real dilemma ahead for a Speaker who is very weak and very conscious of his weakness within the party.”

….. Ornstein’s final verdict on today’s display from House Republicans: “They’re pathetic.”

Full post here

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Steve Benen: …. From a progressive perspective, it’s hard to shed tears over the bill’s demise – this was an awful, needlessly punitive piece of legislation. Its GOP proponents, without so much as a hint of shame, were a little too eager to redistribute wealth in the wrong direction – punishing poor families and rewarding wealthy agricultural interests – and their efforts to slash funds for food stamps bordered on cruel.

To be sure, even if the House had passed its bill, it wasn’t going far given the scope of the opposition from Senate Democrats and an unambiguous veto threat from the Obama White House.

But the real takeaway here is that the House Republican leadership, once again, failed miserably….

More here

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