Posts Tagged ‘bush



07
Apr
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: Iraq, April 7, 2009

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Today:

11:15 President Obama visits Bladensburg High School, Maryland

11:35: Delivers remarks

2:0: Meets with the Commander-in-Chief and Executive Director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

3:25: Attends the ceremonial swearing in of Maria Contreras-Sweet as Administrator of the Small Business Administration, South Court Auditorium

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The Week Ahead

Tuesday: The President will host an event on the economy at the White House.

Wednesday: The President and the First Lady will travel to Houston, TX. The President will attend a memorial service at Fort Hood. He will attend DCCC and DSCC events. More details regarding the President and First Lady’s travel to Houston will be forthcoming.

Thursday: The President and the First Lady will travel to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, TX. The President will deliver remarks at a Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The President and the First Lady will return to Washington, DC, in the afternoon.

Friday: The President will travel to New York, NY to deliver remarks at the National Action Network’s 16th Annual Convention.

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TPM: GOP Grapples With The Unsettling Fear That Obamacare May Succeed

In light of Obamacare achieving its goal of 7 million initial insurance sign-ups, William Kristol’s 1993 memo urging his party to block health care reform at all costs seems prescient. In it, the then-GOP operative’s message was remarkably candid: it’s a “serious political threat to the Republican Party.”

Kristol argued that it would cast Democrats as protectors of the middle class and “strike a punishing blow” to GOP ideals about the evils of government.

…. Two decades later, Democrats have achieved their century-long dream, defeating the GOP’s revived Kristol-esque strategy to destroy health care reform at all costs. Obamacare unexpectedly crossed its first big milestone last week with 7 million sign-ups on the exchanges. While the law still faces many challenges, conservatives who broadly predicted it would collapse under its own weight are forced to reckon with the unsettling fear that health care reform might succeed.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: The House GOP’s Down-Low, Backhanded Endorsement of Obamacare

Even as they publicly decry the president’s health care law, the moves they’re making behind closed doors reveal they may be resigned to its existence.

It’s not all that often that the lead piece on the Drudge Report attacks Republicans, so it’s worth a little savoring when it happens, and this one is especially delectable. The link was to an AP story reporting that two weeks ago, House Republicans stealthily voted for a measure that changed an aspect of the Affordable Care Act.

What? I know. In other words, Congress amends bill it passed a few years ago. In a normal moral universe, this would scarcely qualify as news. But when we speak of the House of Representatives, we are in the modern Republican Party’s moral universe, and there, the rules are different.

You see, by agreeing to amend Obamacare, Republicans are acknowledging the law’s existence and legitimacy. The only things they’re supposed to be doing with Obamacare are burning copies of it on the Capitol steps and voting to repeal it. But here they’ve done the exact opposite.

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Sahil Kapur: The Opposition To ObamaCare Is Strangely Familiar

The intense conservative ire for Obamacare may seem like an anomaly in American history. But it’s eerily reminiscent of two other large — and now widely popular — expansions of the safety net: Social Security and Medicare.

The two programs are now a staple of American political culture. But a backward glance at the political environment during their inception reveals equally fierce, ugly antipathy from conservatives — including screaming warnings that they’d be ruinous to freedom.

….. Half a century later, Republicans loudly and proudly proclaim their support for both programs, and are loathe to admit their party ever opposed them.

But history repeats itself….

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Ethics Of NBC Letting George W. Bush Be Interviewed By His Daughter

Last February, the world caught a glimpse George W. Bush’s paintings through work of a hacker named Guccifier. The paintings were amateurish and charming and slightly embarrassing for a former president. They famously included self-portraits of him bathing.

On Friday, Bush decided to show off a series of paintings of world leaders in a more controlled fashion — in an exclusive interview with his daughter, NBC News special correspondent Jenna Bush Hager…..

….as a journalistic outlet, what are the ethical implications of turning over an interview with a former President to his own daughter?

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics states that journalists should “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” Three experts in ethics and journalism contacted by ThinkProgress all raised substantial concerns with the segment.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Why Obama Is Ending Pay Secrecy For Federal Contractors

President Obama will announce this week that he is directing all federal contractors to lift ‘gag rules’ that discourage or outright ban workers from discussing their salaries, the AP reported on Sunday. The move, which he will announce on April 8, is part of an effort to eliminate the pay gap between male and female employees who hold the same jobs or do the same work.

April 8 is 2014′s Pay Equity Day, which marks the number of extra days into 2014 that the average woman has to work to earn as much as her male counterpart did in 2013. Obama will also announce that he is directing all contractors to provide data on the pay of employees by race and gender.

Obama has long said that pay fairness by gender is one of his policy priorities, and these directives are consistent with his general approach of circumventing Congress where he can to make the changes for a fraction of the population that he’d like to see enacted in law for everyone.

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WH.gov: America’s PrepareAthon!

Here at the White House, we’re getting ready for the first America’s PrepareAthon!, a national day of action that will take place April 30, 2014.

Join us this Monday, April 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss America’s PrepareAthon!, a community-based campaign to build a more secure and resilient nation by getting people to understand what disasters could happen in their communities and to take action to increase their preparedness. Actions include signing up for mobile alerts and warnings, holding a preparedness discussion to emphasize the steps people should take to be ready should a disaster occur, and conducting a drill so people are familiar with what to do beforehand.

Join us for a Google+ Hangout to hear from the head of FEMA, an award-winning meteorologist, and leaders from across the nation who share a passion for getting prepared.

More here

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On This Day

President Obama addresses U.S. troops during his visit to Baghdad, Iraq, April 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama receives a fist-bump from a U.S. soldier as he greets hundreds of U.S. troops during his visit to Iraq, April 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reaches behind a pillar to shake hands with U.S. troops in Baghdad, Iraq, April 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with General Raymond T. Odierno, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, during the President’s visit with U.S. troops in Baghdad, Iraq, April 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama removes his shoes as he prepares to visit the Blue Mosque April 7, 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama signs a bill in the Oval Office, April 7, 2010 ( Photo by Pete Souza)

During a phone call from the Oval Office, April 7, 2010, President Obama talks with the family of workers who were killed in a West Virginia coal mine explosion on Monday (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama listens during a secure conference call and meeting on Libya in the Situation Room of the White House, April 7, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama waits with 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, 7th-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank High School, Burbank, Calif., and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the Green Room of the White House before the start of a ceremony to honor the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year in the East Room, April 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning everyone – ran out of time again, will catch up with more newsie stuff later. Happy Monday!

19
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama volunteer at Burrville Elementary School during the 2013 National Day of Service in Washington, January 19

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

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All Voces: California Hospital Aggressive Approach To Obamacare, Enlists ‘Uninsured’ In ER

California Covered is one of the most successful health insurance exchanges in country and it is no accident the state exchange has enrolled the largest number of “uninsured” in the country. 2.2 million have enrolled for private health plans across the country as of Dec. 31, 2013. Covered California is a commitment by the leadership in California, Governor Jerry Brown, who has been committed to the success of the Affordable Care Act since its inception. Of those 2.2 million, nearly 500 thousand residents of California are covered. Which means that the state has enrolled 22 percent of all the new enrollees, according to the California Healthline.

It is no accident that California is highly successful in a state that has its own health care exchange and has opted into the “Medicaid expansion.” Hundreds of thousands have qualified for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The options for Californians are plentiful. There is this example at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif. nothing like a captive audience. Araceli Martinez works in the building at the Hospital and runs the Health Benefits Resource Center just down the hall from the ER at the hospital. The Center has beefed up staffing and hours in response to the Affordable Care Act, says a report from NPR on enrolling “insured” patients in emergency rooms.

Seems the department pays for itself because 5,000 “uninsured” people come into O’Connor Hospital’s emergency department each year. It is the job Martinez and others that work at the Center to help the “uninsured” find health care coverage. The state of California has the highest number of “uninsured” in the country, with 7,106,100 residents according to the Kaiser Foundation, without coverage before Obamacare went into full swing and one of the highest percentages of “uninsured” at 19 percent of the population.

More here

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AP: Horse Slaughter Blocked By Federal Law

The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. was blocked Friday as President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process. Although the measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, it stops the Agriculture Department from spending money for inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to ship horse meat interstate and eventually export it to overseas consumers.

“This clear message from Washington echoes the opinions of an overwhelming number of Americans from coast to coast: horse slaughter is abhorrent and unacceptable,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The president’s action came as a New Mexico judge granted a preliminary injunction against a Roswell company from moving forward with its plans to start slaughtering horses.

More here

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TPM: Hoboken Mayor: Christie Team Shook Us Down For Sandy Relief

You may have already seen Mayor Zimmer in the news this week. Hoboken received only 1% of the aid they had requested for Hurricane Sandy relief and planning funds even though it was one of the hardest-hit communities in the state during the storm. At one point, 80% of the 50,000 person city was flooded. If you remember the footage of water gushing through an underground subway station, that was in Hoboken; it has, in fact, the highest per-capita use of public transit of any city in America. Yet so far the state of New Jersey has given the city about $350,000 from the billions of dollars in federal disaster relief and planning aid that it is charged with administering. That’s about $6 per resident. It has been enough to pay for one major planning study and to buy one backup generator for an $18 million emergency storm water pump. 50,000 people. 80% flooded. $6 a head.

This Hoboken story and the Fort Lee/GWB story might seem like separate tales. But they’re not. Moreover, these latest revelations put to rest the notion that Hoboken’s Sandy aid or the Fort Lee/GWB story have anything to do with local Democratic officials’ endorsement of the governor during his reelection campaign. Forget about the endorsements. It never really added up anyway. The subpoenaed documents in Bridgegate show that the Christie administration used the Port Authority as an extension of their political operation, although we do not yet know to what end. And the Hoboken story clearly demonstrates the Christie administration took steps to aid the material interest of a client of the chairman of that agency.

More here

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Washington Post: How Aetna’s CEO Thinks About Obamacare

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini spoke Wednesday at the J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference — and he had a lot to say about the health-care law’s rollout. 1. The early exchange demographics are actually better than expected. Bertolini’s take on the age-breakdown of marketplace enrollees was really interesting — and different from the reaction in Washington. While most of us journalists pointed out that the Obama administration is falling short of its young adult enrollment target, that doesn’t really matter to Aetna. What matters to a health plan is who they expected to sign-up, and what type of age mixed they used to set their premium prices.

“Given the general demographics that CMS released yesterday, I’m not alarmed,” Bertolini says. “They’re better than I thought they would have been.” This is, incidentally, an idea that other insurance executives brought up this week: They don’t really care what goal the White House set for young adults. What matters to them — and what will determine if rates need to increase next year — is who they expected to sign up. “Things aren’t necessarily way out of whack with our expectations,” Wellpoint’s chief financial officer Wayne DeVeydt said at a separate presentation. “It’s not about whether or not you’re getting a sicker book. It’s whether you priced for it.”

More here

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Cosmopolitan: A Male Escort’s Perspective: What It’s Really Like Outside An Abortion Clinic

At least three Saturdays of every month, Chris Hill, 45, shows up at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, a privately funded abortion provider, to escort women past the protesters who assemble there. His job is to make women feel safe. Although there is a barricade in front of the clinic, and police lines that demarcate an area that the protesters are not supposed to cross over, there is no statewide buffer zone law in Pennsylvania. Hill, who has escorted hundreds if not thousands of women into the clinic over the last decade, wishes there were, as he has witnessed incidents of verbal assaults, threats and even physical contact. As a result of his personal experience, shared here, he cannot understand how the Supreme Court — now considering McCullen vs Coakley — could possibly overturn the 35-foot buffer zone law in Massachusetts.

I was 23 when I encountered my first protester. My then-girlfriend was 20 when she got pregnant. I was in college in New Orleans, and we knew it was not the right time for either of us to be parents. We went to a clinic, and after she checked in, I walked outside and ran into another guy who had also accompanied his girlfriend that day. Suddenly, these protesters came at us — they were shouting, and it felt like they were going to get physical. I was ready to start brawling when someone from the clinic intervened. “That’s what they want,” she said, ushering us back inside. I was fuming.

Ten years later, I had moved to Philadelphia and was walking with my then-wife who was six months pregnant. Suddenly, this guys starts shouting, “baby killers!” at us. I had no idea what he was talking about. He got up in my face and continued to shout that we were going to hell. I wanted to punch him, but my wife pulled me away. She realized that we were in front of a Planned Parenthood and that he was a protester. I was so pissed that I called the clinic to say, “What can I do to combat this?” They suggested calling the state attorney to register a complaint — and to consider being a male escort. I signed up that day. I joined the army at 17 because I believe in protecting people’s rights. I believe in reproductive rights, but the reason I do this work is to stop these mostly older white men from bullying women who are choosing what is best for them.

More here

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CNN: Barbara Bush Hopes Jeb Won’t Run For President

If former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush makes a bid for the White House, he may not have his mother’s blessing. Former First Lady Barbara Bush said in an interview with C-SPAN on Thursday that the United States needs to expand the number of families holding the nation’s highest political office beyond her own, as well as the Clintons and Kennedys.

“I think this is a great American country, great country, and if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run,” she said. Though her son is certainly qualified to run for president, the former first lady said, “I hope he won’t.”

More here

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Joe Conason: Straightforward? Not The Best Description Of Chris Christie – Or His Pal Karl Rove

When Karl Rove praises a politician’s “straightforward” approach to an erupting scandal, it seems wise to expect that something very twisted will instead emerge in due course – and to consider his real objectives. In this instance, the former Bush White House political boss – and current Republican SuperPAC godfather – was discussing Chris Christie’s response to “Bridgegate,” as the events surrounding the vengeful closure of part of the George Washington Bridge by the New Jersey governor’s aides is now known.

“I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some Tea Party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility,” said Rove. Pandering to the Fox audience, he went on to contrast the righteous Christie with Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Barack Obama, and to note that the IRS and Benghazi “scandals” hadn’t gotten nearly enough attention compared with Bridgegate.

While Rove sticks a halo on the man his old boss Dubya used to call “Big Boy,” everyone else might want to wait for the documents and testimony forthcoming from investigations at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, in both houses of the New Jersey legislature, in the Department of Justice and in the United States Senate.

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On This Day:

President Obama visits sixth grade students at the Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, January 19, 2010

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President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China greet guests on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First daughter Sasha Obama went on a field trip – to her own home. The nine-year-old attended the arrival ceremony at the White House that began Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome President Hu Jintao at the North Portico of the White House for the State Dinner, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama, President Hu Jintao, and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase of the White House (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as President Hu Jintao greets daughters Sasha and Malia before the start of the State Dinner reception (Photo by Pete Souza)

Dee Dee Bridgewater performs during the State Dinner reception in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama speaks about tourism and travel, Jan. 19, 2012, along Main Street USA at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama volunteer at Burrville Elementary School during the 2013 National Day of Service in Washington, January 19

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Vice President Biden helps package care kits for troops for the National Day of Service, Washington, January 19, 2013

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden participate in an interview prior to the Kids Inaugural Concert at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia at the Kids’ Inaugural concert in Washington on January 19, 2013

14
Sep
13

How “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is unlike that of Bush

When we accuse some right-winger of having “Obama Derangement Syndrome”, he will just scoff and point out that the Left was consumed with “Bush Derangement Syndrome” from 2001-2009. And to a certain extent, they’d be somewhat correct. For myself, I could only grudgingly applaud Mr. Bush for such things as AIDS initiatives for Africa, and his support for immigration reform.

But here’s the difference: I could acknowledge his (few) successes. For a Republican, reaching out to Africa and immigrants were things which went against the base, and required a certain bravery. The thing is, however, that the rest of his policies were so disastrous for the country that his few successes were dwarfed by them. From squandering record surpluses to crashing the economy to getting us mired in two mismanaged wars, his administration was a catalog of failure. It was already heading toward failure before 9/11; there was no doubt that he’d be a one term president. When the attacks occurred, he was able to refashion himself as a “war president”—a war he proceeded to prosecute in the most incompetent manner, sullying the nation’s ideals and honor. There was “Bush Derangement Syndrome” because everything he touched turned to lead. He didn’t kill bin Laden; he trapped us in disastrous wars; he oversaw a mass transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. So, while I agree that in some things he did well, they were drowned by his cacophony of failure.

Now let us turn to President Obama’s record. It began by him being the first African American elected president. He was able to pass a stimulus package which stanched the bleeding of the Great Recession. The US economy runs on two pillars: real estate and automobile manufacturing; real estate was on its knees; he saved the auto industry, without which the whole world would have sunk into a depression. He then fulfilled the great Democratic dream, passing comprehensive health reform, which would bring affordable health care to nearly every American. That achievement led to the GOP takeover of the House in 2010 in backlash, because some on the Left had a snit (more on that later). With the GOP in control of one house, he brilliantly conducted actions which stymied their most cherished goals, and preserved his priorities in the budget. Then against all the caterwauling of the media, he won a second term, in a convincing fashion. Then just this weekend, rattling a saber which opponents know he will use, he achieved a diplomatic resolution to Syria’s chemical weapon use, making the Autocrat of All the Russias climb down from his recalcitrant stance. And, of course, we can’t forget his other great triumph, along with Obamacare: healing that great wound in the American psyche by finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

Continue reading ‘How “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is unlike that of Bush’

03
Sep
13

Early Bird Chat

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MooooOOOOoooorning Early Birds! It was fun catching a couple of worms to start this fine day:

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Speaking of worms, we can never ever see this enough:

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The Mighty UT will be your R&S hostess with the mostess a little later – happy Tuesday!

16
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

On this day: President Barack Obama looks out over the Grand Canyon in Arizona on Aug. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Washington Post: White House Solar Panels Being Installed This Week

The White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday. The Obama administration has already undertaken a number of measures to increase the federal government’s energy efficiency and use of renewable energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, a plan the president outlined in an executive order he signed in October 2009.

The administration has doubled the number of hybrid cars and truck in the federal fleet, increased the government’s use of renewable energy to 7 percent, cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent and committed $2 billion to upgrade federal buildings’ energy efficiency through contracting requirements at no up-front cost to taxpayers.

So far these measures have collectively saved 7 million gallons of gas and been equivalent to permanently removing 1.5 million cars from the road, according to the White House.

More here

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Heidi Mitchell: Stand And Deliver: After Her 12-Hour Filibuster, How Far Will Texas Senator Wendy Davis Run?

Just a week prior, the scene besieging the two-term senator was altogether less serene. On the final day of a special session of the Eighty-third Legislature, an omnibus antiabortion bill known as SB 5, which proposed new restrictions on family-planning clinics, was up for a vote in the Senate—and Davis arrived at the Capitol building in Austin prepared for a long fight.

Wearing pink Mizuno running shoes and a sky-blue Escada day coat concealing a back brace, the 50-year-old runner and cyclist held the floor for a twelve-hour filibuster that packed the rotunda with pro-choice defenders and had the nation biting its collective nails as coverage streamed online and the clock ticked down to midnight. In those hours, Davis’s Facebook likes spiked. The hashtag #StandWithWendy began trending as high as some 125,000 tweets per hour. Barack Obama used it. Lena Dunham tweeted her support. John Oliver made a joke about a new line of shoes, the Fila-busters, the next night on The Daily Show.

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Brian Beutler: The Stupidest Anti-ObamaCare Campaign Ever

We’ve known for a few weeks now that conservative groups are attempting to sabotage Obamacare by planning and staging campaigns to dissuade young people and families from enrolling in state insurance exchanges. Via Greg Sargent, these efforts include a new radio spot from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, and the good news is that in addition to being heartless and cruel, it’s also incredibly stupid. “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures … if we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?”

Set aside for a moment that the one factual claim about the law in that quote — “we can’t pick our own doctor” — is false, and will be false until the president of Kaiser Permanente hypnotizes all of Washington and persuades Congress to ban PPOs. Set aside too that the single most well known and well liked provision of the Affordable Care Act is the one banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. That’s the reason Caleb will never have to worry about being locked out of coverage for the rest of his life.

More here

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Steve Benen: Get To Know The New GOP Hostage Strategy

A spirited debate has unfolded within the Republican Party over the last several weeks about what the party intends to do to sabotage the federal health care system. A significant contingent within the GOP has demanded a hostage strategy: Republicans should tell Democrats that they’ll shut down the government unless Dems agree to deny health care benefits to millions of Americans. The strategy is, of course, destined to fail. Democrats will never agree to pay such a ransom, and Republicans don’t want to be on the hook for a shutdown that puts their control of Congress in jeopardy.

It seems increasingly obvious that congressional Republicans are less a governing party and more a group of intemperate children who like to play with matches — and it just so happens they’ve stumbled upon some explosives. To be sure, a government shutdown would be an awful development that would hurt the economy and severely undermine public services Americans rely on. But a debt-ceiling crisis is on a whole other level — it’s like comparing cutting your hand with a kitchen knife and needing stitches, and amputating your hand altogether. The former is serious; the latter is tough to recover from.

More here

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We Are All Garth Brooks Today

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Steve Benen: ‘The King Of Golf And Vacations’

Maybe there’s something about presidential vacations that many folks find irksome on a reflexive level. Americans may think that presidents shouldn’t take off when there’s so much work to be done. But RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is taking these attitudes to a very silly level. First, President Obama is taking an eight-day break because, well, humans in stressful jobs occasionally need to take a breather. But for Republicans to make hay out of this is absurd — Obama has taken 87 days off since his first inauguration, and at the comparable point in George W. Bush’s presidency, Obama’s Republican predecessor had taken 399 days off. Remember this chart?

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At this point, I imagine conservatives are asking, “Why is it Bush’s days off were fair game for criticism but Obama’s aren’t?” The answer is pretty straightforward: it’s because Bush’s time away from the office was extraordinary. No modern president ever took as much time off as he did. Bush’s vacation days, in other words, became noteworthy because they were record-breaking. For every day off Obama has taken, Bush took 4.5 days off over a comparable period of time.

More here

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CNBC: Housing Starts Up 5.9%; Q2 Productivity Beats Forecasts

The Commerce Department said on Friday that housing starts increased 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units. June’s starts were revised up to show a 846,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 836,000 units.Permits to build homes rose 2.7 percent in July to a 943,000-unit pace. Meanwhile, productivity increased at a 0.9 percent annual rate, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected productivity to gain at a 0.6 percent rate.

Output rose at a 2.6 percent rate in the second quarter, while the number of hours worked increased at a 1.7 percent rate. Unit labor costs—a gauge of labor-related costs for any given unit of output—rose at 1.4 percent rate in the second quarter, slightly above forecasts of economists polled by Reuters. Builders have been complaining about a shortage of labor and materials. Still, residential construction remains on a firmer footing and should again contribute to economic growth this year.

More here

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On This Day:

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President Barack Obama has breakfast with small business owners at Rausch’s Cafe in Guttenberg, Iowa, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Aug.16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama browses crafts and antiques at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama talks with people at Grasshoppers store in LeClaire, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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