Posts Tagged ‘cesca

21
Aug
13

This and That

Statement from the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden:

Yesterday our son Beau underwent a successful procedure. He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks.

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Steve Benen: The registry the NRA warned against

A few months ago, conservative senators felt the need to kill a popular, bipartisan proposal on firearm background checks, and relied primarily on a single talking point: the proposal might lead to a firearm database. The very idea of some kind of national gun registry was so offensive to the right that the legislation had to die at the hands of a Republican filibuster.

It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill had no such database. It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill explicitly made the creation of such a registry a felony. All that mattered was that conservatives had a lie they liked, and which they used to great effect.

Four months later, Steve Friess reports that a massive, secret database of gun owners exists after all. But it wasn’t built by the Justice Department or the Department of Homeland Security; it was compiled without gun owners’ consent by the National Rifle Association.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Worst Thing In That Maureen Dowd Column Isn’t Actually Her Misquote Of Bill DeBlasio’s Wife

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is taking a lot of very justified heat for a column about New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, in which she appears to have distorted a quotation of McCray’s to imply that McCray is impugning rival Democratic candidate Christine Quinn for being a lesbian.

…. Dowd is now suggesting that a noisy coffee shop obscured her audio recording, and she ended up relying on what turn out to have been bad-quality notes for the quotation….

…. as bad as Dowd’s quoting malpractice is, and as frivolous as the overall column is, these problems aren’t actually the worst part of the column. That would be the way Dowd describes McCray’s sexual orientation, and places it in a context of Sexuality and the New York Mayoral Race….

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More at NYMag and, well, Charles Pierce says it all

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Continue reading ‘This and That’

21
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Random old pic, just in case Bo is feeling crowded these days

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Today (all times Eastern):

The President has no scheduled public events

12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press

7:0 NYC Democratic Mayoral Primary Debate (C-Span coverage starts at 6:0)

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Get the facts – there’s now a permanent link in the sidebar on the right

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ThinkProgress: The Remarkable Slowdown In Health Care Costs Since The Passage Of Obamacare

A new survey of health care premiums for employer-sponsored health care coverage shows that health care inflation is slowing, further undermining critics’ predictions that costs would skyrocket in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act.

…. Other reports have also uncovered a slowdown in cost increases. The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers in the individual market has plummeted over the past four years and Medicare’s projected spending between 2010 and 2020 had dropped by over $500 billion. Under the new cost scenario, the entitlement program would, by 2085, make up 4 percent of the economy instead of the previously projected 7 percent.

Annual growth of medical spending has also slowed “from a high of about 8.8 percent in 2003 to an average of about 3 percent per capita from 2009 to 2011, according to data reported in January by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

Full post here

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Kaiser Family Foundation

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USA Today: States predict more insurance customers

Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage show that at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance. That would far outstrip the federal government’s estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states under the 2010 health care law….

…. “It’s not a positive development for the Republican opponents who would like to see this fail,” said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change…..

More here

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Jamelle Bouie: Anti-Obamacare Rage, Once a GOP Hit, Fizzles Despite Town Halls

Tea Party Republicans had a huge hit with their rage against Obamacare. It gave them control of the House of Representatives in 2010, fueled their anti-spending crusade in 2011, inspired the most vocal of the GOP presidential candidates, and elevated a host of right-wing politicians to the Senate, providing a national platform for the crusade against the so-called government takeover of health care.

Hits aren’t built to last, however, and after a while, this one began to fizzle … The magic has fizzled so much that some Republicans have begun to walk away from the project altogether, even as others work to turn Obamacare funding into cause for a government shutdown.

… Heritage can play as many of the old tunes as it likes. When October 1 comes, the Affordable Care Act will be there, ready to confer benefits, provide security, and begin the slow transformation of American health care.

Full post here

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TPM: Rick Perry In Talks To Accept Obamacare Funding For Elderly

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, is in talks with Obama administration officials to accept an estimated $100 million in care for the elderly and disabled through Obamacare….

Texas health officials are seeking to enroll in the so-called Community First Choice program available via the law’s Medicaid expansion. Perry officially declined to enroll his state in the program, saying in April that expanding the program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government.

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Incredible….

TPM: Only One in Four Young Adults Know About Obamacare Exchanges

Only one in four young American adults are aware of the online health insurance marketplaces that will open on Oct. 1 as part of the federal health care reform law, according to a report released Wednesday.

In a survey of adults ages 19 to 29 by the non-profit nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, just 27 percent said they knew they would be able to purchase insurance on the marketplaces, also known as exchanges, starting Oct. 1.

The young adult population has been the focal point of the Obama administration’s campaign to promote the marketplaces. The White House has said that it wants to enroll 2.7 million people ages 18 to 35 in the exchanges by next year; 7 million people in total are expected to sign up for health coverage.

The new report underlines the challenge that the administration faces in reaching that population….

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Republicans Move to the Center? Nope, They’re Crazier Than Ever

If you thought the GOP would adopt more moderate positions after its 2012 debacle, you were wrong. From debate threats to defunding Obamacare and even more purges, Michael Tomasky on how the insanity’s only increasing.

If you’d asked me six months ago whether the Republican Party would manage to find a few ways to sidle back toward the center between now and 2016, I’d have said yes. But today, on the basis of evidence offered so far this year, I’d have to say a big fat no. With every passing month, the party contrives new ways to go crazier. There’s a lot of time between now and 2016, but it’s hard to watch recent events without concluding that the extreme part of the base is gaining more and more internal control.

More here

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

14
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

On this Day: President Obama and daughter Sasha swim at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Daily Beast: Treasury Monthly Statement Shows the U.S. Deficit Is Melting Away

Still complaining about the deficit? The latest monthly statement from the U.S. Treasury shows that even without destroying the social safety net or striking a grand bargain, it’s being erased.

…. So as you listen to people complaining about the annual deficit, remember that it is melting away. The miracle cure for deficits, it turns out, isn’t ripping up the social safety net, or a grand bargain. It’s growth, combined with some fiscal restraint, and higher taxes. Compared with a year ago, there are about 2.2 million more people working today, at slightly higher wages, paying slightly higher taxes. The combination of those forces pushes collections higher. Meanwhile, spending on anti-poverty programs like unemployment benefits falls as unemployment claims decline. Winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has reduced the Pentagon budget. And the sequester has taken a bite out of the budget of many agencies. The combination of those forces pushes spending lower. The latest update on this year’s fiscal situation confirms that each of these trends is fully intact.

Full post here

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Washington Post: Obama pushes ambitious Internet access plan for schools

President Obama liked the idea laid out in a memo from his staff: an ambitious plan to expand high-speed Internet access in schools that would allow students to use digital notebooks and teachers to customize lessons like never before. Better yet, the president would not need Congress to approve it.

White House senior advisers have described the little-known proposal, announced earlier this summer under the name ConnectEd, as one of the biggest potential achievements of Obama’s second term.

More here

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Bob Cesca: Cory Booker Wins Senate Primary. The Far-Left Wins Nothing. Again.

Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker is one step closer to being the next senator from the Garden State. He won the Democratic primary on Tuesday by a significant margin over his rivals, Rep. Frank Pallone, Assembly Speaker Shiela Oliver and Rep. Rush Holt.

Historically speaking, if he wins on October 16, Booker will also be the only elected African American member of the United States Senate, and the ninth member in history. (Yeah, there’s still something very, very wrong with American voters.)

There’s another dimension to this election, meanwhile, that only appeared briefly on the blogs and via social media. Were it not for the divisiveness on the left created by the Edward Snowden NSA drama, with far-left activists supporting Snowden’s leaks and with pragmatic center-left liberals expressing disdain for the hyperbolic, outraged sensationalism of the story, the New Jersey special election would’ve surely been a huge battleground between those two factions.

More here

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Voter Suppression:

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ThinkProgress: Arizona Republicans Already Working On 2020 Gerrymander Plan

Unhappy that an independent redistricting commission devised maps it deemed too independent for the 2012 elections, Arizona Republicans are already scheming to rig the redistricting process after the 2020 elections to be more favorable to their party.

More here

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Steve Benen: Congress Isn’t ‘Exempt’ From ObamaCare

If you’ve been following the health care debate lately, you’ve probably heard quite a bit of talk about Congress being “exempt” from the Affordable Care Act. It’s a talking point the right has pushed quite aggressively, but is it true? Republicans certainly want us to think so. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas)complained about an “outrageous exemption for Congress.” The far-right editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint touted a similar line last week. Over the weekend, Republican media figures, including Bill Kristol and Ana Navaro, repeated the talking point on the Sunday shows, and no one thought to correct them. This morning, in an unusually hysterical piece, a Washington Times columnist suggested the policy might constitute “treason.” (No, seriously, that’s what it said.)

The policy certainly sounds awful, doesn’t it? If “Obamacare” is so great, why are members of Congress eager to exempt themselves from the new federal system? No wonder Fox is soworked up over this. The problem, as you might have guessed, is that the argument is so wildly misleading, it bears no meaningful connection to reality.

More here

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USA Today: President Obama is going retro when it comes to honoring sports champions.

Next week, Obama will host a White House ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins, the last National Football League team to go undefeated in the regular season and playoffs.

That Dolphins team famously went 17-0, beating the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl on Jan. 14, 1973.

More here

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On This Day:

Aug. 14, 2009: President Obama casts his line while fishing for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 14, 2010: President Obama greets members of the U.S. Coast Guard after making a statement at the U.S. Coast Guard Panama City District Office, Panama City, Fla (Photo by Pete Souza)


Aug. 14, 2012: The President waves from his campaign bus to people lining the motorcade route in Iowa (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 14, 2012: President Obama has a beer with patrons at the Pump Haus Pub and Grill in Waterloo, Iowa (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 14, 2012: Pete Souza: “How about a White House beer? The President was greeting patrons at Coffee Connection in Knoxville, Iowa, when this customer asked him about the White House beer. The President said he thought he might have some on his campaign bus and asked an aide to check. A few minutes later, the President delivered a bottle and the customer reacted in celebration.”

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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.

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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!

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.

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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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Click here to see the rest of the post

15
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

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Saturday: The President has no public events scheduled

Sunday: The President and the First Family will depart for Belfast, Northern Ireland (9:20 PM)

Monday: The President and the First Family will arrive in Belfast in the morning, where he will deliver remarks – the First Lady will introduce the President at the event.

The President will then meet with Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the G8 Summit. Later, he will attend the G-8 Summit at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, hosted by PM Cameron, from June 17-18.

On Monday evening, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Tuesday: In the evening, following the G-8, the President and the First Family will travel to Berlin, Germany.

Wednesday: The President will have a meeting with President Gauck and Chancellor Merkel to discuss a wide range of bilateral and global issues.

Later that afternoon, at the invitation of Chancellor Merkel, President Obama will speak at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

On Wednesday evening, the President and the First Family will return to the White House.

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

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Daniel W. Drezner (Foreign Policy): Why Obama is arming Syria’s rebels: it’s the realism, stupid.

…. is this the first step towards another U.S.-led war in the region? No. Everything in that Times story, and everything this administration has said and done for the past two years, screams deep reluctance over intervention. Arming the rebels is not the same thing as a no-fly zone or any kind of ground intervention. This is simply the United States engaging in its own form of asymmetric warfare. For the low, low price of aiding and arming the rebels, the U.S. preoccupies all of its adversaries in the Middle East.

…. Now let’s be clear: to describe this as “morally questionable” would be an understatement. It’s a policy that makes me very uncomfortable… until one considers the alternatives. What it’s not, however, is a return to liberal hawkery.

So, to conclude: the United States is using a liberal internationalist rubric to cloak a pretty realist policy towards Syria.

Am I missing anything?

Full post here

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Steve Benen: It was just three weeks ago that President Obama made a persuasive case for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He described a military prison that costs too much, has become an international embarrassment, and is filled with “people who have been charged with no crime.”

…. Last week, House Republicans once again barred the Obama administration from transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Friday, against a backdrop of a terrible hunger strike, a Democratic effort to do the right thing was easily defeated in the face of mindless, reactionary conservative opposition.

More here

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Ooooops:

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Kurt Eichenwald: PRISM Isn’t Data Mining and Other Falsehoods in the N.S.A. “Scandal”

I can’t stand it.

A few days ago, I wrote in some detail about the National Security Agency’s data-mining program in hopes of calming the hysteria that has been whipped up in the last number of days by incorrect and misleading reports, as well as by plenty of ill-informed commentary based on those errors. At this point, I’ve decided that I need to tell a little bit more…..

See here

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Tommy Christopher (Mediaite): …. Glenn Greenwald and his source, whistle-and-country-blower Edward Snowden, have completely taken over the political media with revelations that hype well, but don’t amount to much upon closer examination. Now, Greenwald promises more (and more devastating) revelations to come, but what has been revealed so far is about as alarming as an epidemic of Pac Man Fever….

…. That hasn’t stopped the media from going all Chicken Little, some because they’re desperate to “have the conversation,” some because they want to attack President Obama to prove varying types of cred, and some because they’d like even less fettering of the surveillance state. I think we do need to “have the conversation” about government surveillance, but it should begin in 1978, not last week, when the world discovered that the first black president was in charge of it….

Full post here

Click here to see the rest of the post

14
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

A Year Ago: First Lady Michelle Obama waits to greet President Barack Obama upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, June 14, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

11:30: The President hosts a Father’s Day Luncheon

12:30: Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest

2:45: The President welcomes the WNBA Champion Indiana Fever to the White House

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The Guardian: Families of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, will mark the six-month anniversary of the tragedy on Friday by launching a nationwide bus tour designed to step up political pressure on the US senators who voted against the bill to toughen America’s gun laws.

Relatives of the 20 young children and six carers who were killed by a lone shooter on 14 December will begin the tour in Newtown under the banner “No More Names”. The campaign, launched by the national coalition to reduce gun violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, will last for 100 days and take in 25 states.

More here

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BooMan: …. when Bill Clinton compares the situation in Syria to the situation he faced in Kosovo, he’s making one of the stupidest statements that I have ever heard from him.

…. For Clinton to appear with John McCain and make comments like this is a perfect vindication of my total opposition to his wife’s candidacy for president. We cannot afford more leadership from people who think about American power in this way…..

This is what we gained when we won the presidency for Obama. A cool head.

Full post here

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