Posts Tagged ‘davis



18
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here

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

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

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

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Is the Right’s Worst Nightmare

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

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

Full post here

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

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

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

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Happy 95th Birthday Nelson Mandela!

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

17
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:50: The President delivers a statement on the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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NYT: Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.

State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.

“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”

“The extraordinary decline in New York’s insurance rates for individual consumers demonstrates the profound promise of the Affordable Care Act,” she added.

More here

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AG Eric Holder: “So Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways.”

Full NAACP speech from yesterday (transcript here):

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Michael Tomasky: Reid Crushes McConnell

…. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck a deal, abetted apparently by John McCain, that averted the invocation of the nuclear option by Reid and the Democrats. Reid got just about everything he wanted. The Senate is going to pass through all seven nominees that Reid brought up in this skirmish….

…. About as clear a win for one party over another as we’ve seen in a long time. Why did it happen? Because everyone in the room knew that the Democrats had the 51 votes to change the rules. Stand together or fall apart, as the old cliche goes. It’s true. It’s still pathetic that it had to come to this for the president to fill his cabinet (and sub-cabinet), but it goes to show that holding the line as a group works.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: …. Will what transpired in the Senate yesterday actually, you know, matter? …. The cautious answer is that it’s evidence of incremental progress, the results of which will have a real-world impact on the lives of real people.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for example, looks out for consumers against predatory excesses from the financial industry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Chris Hayes last night, in light of yesterday’s deal and Richard Cordray’s confirmation, “We know this agency is here to stay. No more clouds over what it legally is entitled to do. No more attacks that say maybe we’re going to be able to undercut it in this way or weaken it in that way. We’ve got a full-fledged watchdog. The one we fought for, and [Cordray] is going to be there to fight for us.”

…. I’ve heard plenty of criticisms of yesterday’s agreement, and detractors have raised fair concerns … But in today’s environment, incremental progress is still progress, and there’s ample reason to believe yesterday’s deal moves the ball forward.

Full post here

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McClatchy: Congress revisits Voting Rights Act

Congress is taking the first steps toward bringing back pre-clearance of voting laws under the Voting Rights Act this week, as activists express tempered optimism in lawmakers’ willingness and ability to act.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month tossed out the Voting Rights Act’s formula that determined which jurisdictions must submit their voting law changes to the federal government before enacting them. The 5-4 ruling did not get rid of pre-clearance altogether but said Congress must come up with an updated standard to enforce it rather than the 1965 version that covered Georgia and other Deep South states with a history of overt discrimination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off the congressional response with a hearing Wednesday featuring Congress’ civil rights conscience: Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: …. the narrative about the IRS targeting Obama’s enemies has been thoroughly debunked….

The IRS “scandal,” lately dormant, is returning soon to cable-news channel near you: Tomorrow, Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general who produced the original report at Darrell Issa’s request, is going back before Issa’s committee, and this time he’s in for some pretty serious grilling from Democrats. The evidence is now even more preponderant than it already was that there was absolutely no political agenda in the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications. In fact, evidence is mounting that if anyone was behaving politically here, it was George — and, of course, Issa and the other Republicans who launched into their baseless tirades about “enemies lists” and other such nonsense.

…. what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story. And it should start tomorrow, when George testifies.

Full post here

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Reuters: President Barack Obama on Tuesday for the first time admitted that it was unlikely that the Republican-led House of Representatives would pass sweeping immigration reforms before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long break in August.

In television interviews taped with four Spanish-language newscasts, Obama said he thinks many Republicans need more time to grapple with concerns about border security and the changing demographics of America.

…. Obama has insisted that reforms must include the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he told Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

Many House Republicans oppose that measure, calling it “amnesty” for people who have broken existing immigration laws. But Obama said ignoring the problem would resign undocumented immigrants to “a lower status.” “I think that’s not who we are as Americans,” he said.

More here

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Wendy Davis and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro (left) and his twin brother, Congressman Joaquín Castro, in Austin on July 7, 2013

Texas Monthly: The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party

Democrats once ruled Texas. Then came five decades of steady decline. Can Wendy Davis, the Castro brothers, and Team Obama’s vaunted field operation return their party to power? And if they can’t, can anyone?

“Somebody has to step up,” Wendy Davis observed one evening in late May over drinks at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying — ‘Oh no, it’s Texas, it’s hopeless’ — and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem.”

“So are you going to run for statewide office?” I asked.

Her green eyes sparkled. “One day, someday,” she said coyly.

One day, someday, about a month later, on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up……

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President Obama hosted members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at the White House on Tuesday as the group gather in Washington for their annual convention. The Oval Office meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the African-American sorority and the 51st anniversary of its convention. Obama met with members including the sorority’s president, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre.

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@petesouza: Pres Obama with make-a-wish visitor Suhail Zaveri, 14, and his family in the Oval Office

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CBS: Cuban and U.S. officials will hold the first migration talks between the two nations since 2011 in Washington on Wednesday. Analysts believe both countries have a strong interest in getting them off the ground again.

…. The Bush Administration broke off these twice-yearly talks, along with taking other measures such as severely restricting the rights of Cuban Americans to travel back to the island – limiting them to only one visit every three years.

President Obama reestablished the rights of Cuban Americans to visit their homeland as much as they want and resumed the talks, only to break them off over the detention and jailing of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, which the State Department has repeatedly said remains a major obstacle to any improvement in relations between the two neighboring countries.

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Morning!

16
Jul
13

This and That

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NYT: Health Insurance Within Reach

Ever since Marci Lieber, a part-time social worker in Brooklyn, learned she was pregnant, she and her husband have been scrambling to find health insurance. But insurers consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition, and won’t sell anyone a new policy that covers it.

That changes on Jan. 1, 2014, when insurers will no longer be permitted to deny coverage of pre-existing conditions — and all Americans will be required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Lieber, 37, hopes to purchase a policy through New York State’s new health exchange as early as this October.

Just in time: the baby is due Jan. 25…..

More here

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The Daily Beast: Texas’s Unwanted-Baby Boom

Between the state’s anti-abortion bill, its move to defund contraception providers, and its war on sex education, experts predict tens of thousands of unplanned pregnancies next year.

The war on women is a nationwide phenomenon, but nowhere are women in more danger of having their reproductive health undermined at every turn than in Texas. Under the leadership of Gov. Rick Perry and a Republican Party completely in the thrall of the religious right, Christian fundamentalists have launched a three-pronged attack on the well-being of women of the state….

More here

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@daddylonglegs01

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ThinkProgress: In a piece that contains the telling (even in context) line “I am a racist,” longtime Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen employed a mishmash of poorly explained statistics and bafflingly ignorant mathematical reasoning to argue that Trayvon Martin was “understandably suspected because he was black” — that is, Americans should assume any young black men they meet are criminals.

More here

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Continue reading ‘This and That’

13
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

Abortion rights advocates fill the rotunda of the State Capitol as the Texas Senate neared the vote on Friday night, July 12

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The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President and the First Lady will host former President George H.W. Bush, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and members of the Bush family for an event to honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award

Tuesday and Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Thursday: The President will participate in an ambassador credentialing ceremony at the White House

Friday: The President and the First Lady will host the Diplomatic Corps reception for the Foreign Diplomatic Corps at the White House

* The Obama family plans to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard between August 10 and 18, the White House confirmed yesterday

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Texas state troopers stand over pro-abortion rights protesters after they were taken from the Texas Senate gallery as the Senate debated an abortion bill

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Texas Tribune: After impassioned, often personal speeches from lawmakers in both parties noting the emotions that have followed House Bill 2 through the legislative process, the Texas Senate approved the omnibus abortion measure late Friday night.

…. Democrats offered 20 amendments, ranging from proposals to add exceptions to the bill’s 20-week abortion ban for victims of rape and incest to requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities and allowing teen mothers to be excluded from a state law requiring parental consent for family planning services. All were rejected on party-line votes in a debate that lasted until nearly midnight on Friday.

…. Alluding to Democrats’ hope that the passion from opponents of the abortion legislation translates into votes at the ballot box in the coming election cycle, State Sen. Wendy Davis said, “The fight for the future of Texas is just beginning.”

…. A suggestion from Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston that senators who voted for the legislation were “listening a little closer” to God than those who opposed it prompted a heated response from Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who told his colleague he had crossed the line.

“Don’t question the faith of any member,” he said.

More here

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Texas Tribune: The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that officers had discovered more than a dozen jars containing “suspected” feces and urine at the Texas Capitol, the site of an intense debate among state senators over abortion restrictions.

In a press release, the agency offered scant details about the seizures and did not say where the items were taken or what happened to them, prompting abortion rights activists to express doubts about the official account.

…. DPS officers outside the Senate gallery and at each entrance to the Capitol told The Texas Tribune they had not seen or found jars containing feces or urine, and multiple officers throughout the Capitol said they had not heard of any jars being found until a reporter mentioned it. Several officers also said they had not heard anything on the DPS radio system about jars of any excrement.

On social media and in interviews, abortion rights protesters questioned the report, calling it an attempt by DPS to bolster Republican credibility during a contentious debate that has drawn national attention.

More here

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Updated – Erick Erickson deleted this tweet from last night:

“Dear Liberals, go bookmark this site now: http://t.co/uqrepa1Ktn

…. which linked to:

No words.

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Steve Benen: Only a good guy with a tampon can stop a bad guy with a tampon

Inside Texas’ state legislature (yesterday), loaded guns are fairly common. As the New York Times reported in March …. but as debate begins in the state Senate on sweeping restrictions to reproductive rights, tampons are being confiscated. No, seriously.

…. Apparently, conservatives believe progressive activists will, after the vote, throw tampons at Republican state lawmakers who approve the bill. So, anything that “can be thrown at” the senators is being confiscated before citizens can enter the gallery.

Sometimes the war on women is offensive, and sometimes, it’s just farcical. When tampons are considered more dangerous than loaded firearms, I think it’s safe to say Texas Republicans have gone off the deep end.

More here

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Margaret and Helen: Tampons don’t kill people. Republicans do.

Margaret, last night there was a rally at the Texas State Capitol to let Rick Perry and the Republican controlled house and Senate know that Texas women have had enough of this backward ass war on women. And do you know what those crazy asshats did? They confiscated everyone’s feminine hygiene napkins at the door. Now there is some good bullshit if you ask me.

As God as my witness, you could legally carry a concealed weapon into the Texas Capitol but you had to surrender your tampons. I can only assume the Texas legislators… I guess Rick Perry decided… The State Troopers.. You know what, Margaret? For the first time in my life I’m speechless. What in God’s name has gotten into these yahoos?

More here

Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

12
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

12:45 Jay Carney briefs the press

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NYT Editorial: In the House, a Refusal to Govern

On two crucial issues this week, the extremists who dominate the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made it clear how little interest they have in the future prosperity of their country, or its reputation for fairness and decency.

The House will refuse to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of immigrants, Republican leaders said on Wednesday, and will slowly and casually consider a few border-security measures that have no chance of passing on their own.

And, on Thursday, the House passed a farm bill that stripped out the food stamp program, breaking a pact that for decades has protected the nutrition needs of low-income Americans. It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries.

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Robert Greenstein: For several decades, legislation to reauthorize farm programs and SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) have moved together. Now, the House Republican leadership is splitting the bills, moving a stand-alone farm bill today and planning to move a separate SNAP bill later.

The reason is clear. Even though the farm bill the House defeated a few weeks ago contained more than $20 billion in SNAP cuts (nearly all of them in food assistance benefits) as well as an unprecedented measure allowing states to cut families off SNAP if a parent wants to work but can’t find a job and letting state politicians take half of the resulting savings and use them for any purpose, that wasn’t enough for many of the most conservative House Republicans.  So the House leadership has dropped the SNAP provisions and plans to come back later with a still harsher SNAP bill designed to pass solely with Republican votes.

This turn of events is deeply disturbing….

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Andrew Rosenthal (NYT): Just because there is no sign of actual governing arising from Congress, it doesn’t mean that the right-wing dominated House Republican Caucus is just sitting around doing nothing. To the contrary, in addition to plotting the demise of the first real chance at immigration reform in decades, House G.O.P. leaders are thinking of new ways to continue their long-running show of trying to stop health care reform from taking effect.

…. Nothing is going to stop Congressional Republicans from this kind of outrageous behavior. It’s worth keeping an eye on, though, if for no other reason than to see your tax dollars at work.

Full post here

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Wendy Davis: It’s the real Texans who count

I stood up and began talking on the floor of the Texas State Senate not long ago because I hoped the Republicans in power would listen to how their latest cruel health care proposal would hurt the women of Texas.

Simply put, this bill would take away access to the most fundamental form of health care women need.

It would close down almost 90% of the women’s clinics in this state. This comes after more than 50 women’s health clinics providing cancer screening and family planning services were closed because the Republicans withdrew state-financed support from them. We now have 42. Under this draconian proposal, a state as expansive as Texas would have only five clinics remaining to serve thousands and thousands of women.

Real Texans don’t want any woman to die of cancer because she can’t get decent health care or medical advice. Real Texans don’t want any woman to lose control of her life because she can’t get birth control.

More here

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Texas Tribune: The abortion fight that has engulfed the Texas Capitol this summer appears headed toward a dramatic conclusion today.

At 2 p.m., the state Senate will take up the sweeping abortion legislation that late last month fell victim to a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, giving rise to two weeks of fiery protests and sustained national media attention.

The House approved the legislation — which would ban abortion after 20 weeks and potentially close up to 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics — on Wednesday, leaving only Senate approval standing between the bill and Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.

More here

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Steve Benen: Back in April, the federal government ran a surplus of $113 billion. In case anyone’s forgotten what a surplus is – the word largely disappeared from our vernacular after Bush/Cheney took office in 2001 – it’s the opposite of a deficit. In the month of April, the federal government took in $113 billion more than it spent.

And then in June, it happened again:

The U.S. government posted an unexpectedly large budget surplus in June, a further sign of the rapid improvement in public finances that has taken the heat off Congress to find savings and raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

Rising tax revenue, public spending cuts and big payments to the Treasury from government-backed mortgage companies helped the government take in $117 billion more last month than it paid out, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday.

It was the largest monthly surplus in the United States in over five years, and the largest June surplus in the nation’s history….

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Jon Favreau: The GOP Is Terrified Obamacare Could Be a Success

I know, we’re all supposed to think the End Is Nigh because the government has decided to give the 10 percent of large employers who don’t insure their workers another 365 days to do so before levying a small penalty. This could not possibly be a reasonable accommodation to protect jobs and businesses, because as everybody knows, this president hates jobs and businesses.

No, this brief delay must be a sign that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is destined to result in abject failure. After all, that’s what every Congressional Republican with the ability to hit send on a press release has told us, over and over again, hoping that repeating their prediction enough times will somehow make it true.

But here’s my question: if Republicans are so confident Obamacare will end badly, why not just shut up about it? It’s not like they have the votes to repeal the law — a math problem they still haven’t solved after 37 different tries. Their appeal to the Supreme Court ended in defeat at the hands of a conservative chief justice. And now the bulk of the plan will begin to take effect in just a few months.

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Arizona Daily Star: Less than five months before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, hospitals are improving care and saving millions of dollars with one of the least touted but potentially most effective provisions of the law.

While much of the focus on the health law has been on the government rush to open insurance exchanges by Oct. 1, 252 hospitals and physician groups across the country have signed up to join the administration’s accountable-care program, in which they share the financial risk of keeping patients healthy.

…. The government expects the savings may be as much as $1.9 billion from 2012 to 2015. Early indications suggest they are starting to add up.

More here

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Jonathan Chait: Obamacare Haters Struggling to Understand What ‘Nonessential’ Means

Many of us have suggested that the employer mandate, which the Obama administration is delaying for a year, isn’t a crucial element to making the law work. Cato scholar Michael Tanner has a killer reply: “If the provision is so unimportant, one might wonder why it was included in the law in the first place, given its potential for reducing employment.” Well, then I guess Michael Tanner has proven that every single provision of the Affordable Care Act is essential to the entire thing. Why would it be in there if it wasn’t absolutely necessary?

It’s surprising to encounter such naïveté in a professional policy analyst, let alone one of staunch anti-government bent, but here goes: Sometimes laws contain provisions that are not essential to their central purpose. (I hope this revelation does not so sadden Tanner as to make him even more dogmatically anti-government than he already is.) Some of those extraneous provisions served useful ancillary purposes. For instance, Obamacare requires restaurant menus to label calories, a helpful health-related measure, but one that could be removed without harming the main functions of the law.

More here

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Business Insider: Elizabeth Warren Introducing A Bill That Would Be Wall Street’s Worst Nightmare

Elizabeth Warren is making good on her promise to scare Wall Street. Today (Thursday), she’ll introduce a bill to reenact Glass-Steagall.

Glass-Steagall is the 1933 law that separated commercial and investment banking. Back in 1999 it was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act at the urging of Wall Street heavyweights like then-Citi CEO Sandy Weill.

Then the financial crisis happened. Many banks failed and others got swallowed up into larger banks.

…. Elizabeth Warren was elected to the Senate based in part on her crusade against Wall Street excess. For many, this is one massive way to do that….

More here

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Washington Post: Democrats offer new evidence that IRS targeted progressive groups

The House Oversight committee’s top Democrat on Friday will release new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted both progressive and conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a draft letter to committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that congressional investigators have discovered training materials from an July 2010 “Screening Workshop” that prove IRS agents were told to be on the lookout for groups from both sides of the political spectrum.

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Timothy Egan (NYT): The Charade of Darrell Issa

So, this guy who made a stink-pile of money in the car alarm business, and had some youthful trouble with the law over auto-related liberties, gets the break he’s been waiting for after Republicans win control of the House in 2010. He’s given the keys to the biggest Caddie in Congress: the main oversight committee. It’s loaded with everything — subpoena power, an overhead cam worth of auditors and investigators, a hyperkinetic staff devoted to keeping shine on the boss.

He’s got plans, lots of plans. He’s going to stage television-ready hearings and investigations of the White House. He will bring Barack Obama to his knees. “I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks,” he says. Don’t worry about substance, he says of one subject field, “it’ll be good theater.”

… But then, after millions of dollars in investigative forays, the wheels come off the ride. Fast and Furious … Move along …. Solyndra …. Next…. Internal Revenue Service …. D’oh!

More here

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USA Today: PETA is especially happy with President Obama’s newly proclaimed love of broccoli.

So much so that the animal rights group is offering a special “Broccoli Obama” T-shirt, perhaps in an effort to discourage the president from future hamburgers, ribs or steaks.

“Now you can celebrate our veggie-loving commander-in-leaf,” PETA says on its website…..

More here

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On this day….

July 12, 2012: President Obama blows a kiss to Oren Baer, son of Ken Baer, the departing Associate Director for Communications and Strategic Planning at OMB, during a visit to the Oval Office (Photo: Lawrence Jackson)

July 12, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama with Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rosalynn Carter at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy)

July 12, 2011: President Obama talks with Andrew Kline, outgoing Chief of Staff, Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, in the Oval Office. Kline’s daughter, Logan, sits atop the Resolute Desk (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12; 2011: President Obama hugs Bertha Petry, the grandmother of Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, in the Blue Room of the White House. The President later awarded SFC Petry, left, the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan, in May 2008. (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12, 2010: President Obama shakes hands with Cub Scout Raphael Cash from Bowie, Md., in the Oval Office (Photo: Pete Souza)

July 12, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama walks along the beach during her visit to Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo: Samantha Appleton)

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MoooOOOooorning! 50 gazillion thank yous to UT, LP and LL for their posts yesterday, I wasn’t (unexpectedly) able to be around at all, so endless thanks for posting such brilliant stuff and keeping the ship sailing – legends!

06
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama shoots baskets on the White House basketball court with Justin Friedlander and his family, July 6, 2010. Friedlander, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March, 2009, has launched an initiative called “Justin’s Quest,” in which he will shoot 63,000 basketball shots, one for every person diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year in the United States. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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ThinkProgress: While the unemployment rate for all veterans fell below the national unemployment rate months ago, one group of veterans — those who have served since September 11, 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan — continued to lag behind as the rest of the job market recovered. But in the last few months, the unemployment rate for so-called Gulf War II era veterans —defined by the BLS as those who served in the Armed Forces sometime since September 2001 and have since returned to civilian life — has steadily declined, even eventually dipping below the national unemployment rate for the first time since February 2012. That trend continued on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its June jobs report showing that the unemployment rate for this newest group of veterans fell to just 7.2 percent last month, its lowest level ever since the BLS regularly began tracking veterans’ unemployment rates in 2009. June also marks the fifth consecutive month in which the unemployment rate for new veterans has fallen.

The unemployment rate for veterans overall still remains lower than the national average, at just 6.3 percent. A coalition of businesses and officials in the Obama administration have placed a premium on the hiring of veterans. Legislation like the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 offer businesses tax credits for each veteran a company hires and strengthens federal transition assistance programs, while companies like Tesla Motors, Southwest Airlines and JPMorgan Chase have been commended by veterans groups like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for their commitment towards the hiring of returning veterans.

First Lady Michelle Obama has also made a big effort to help transition veterans into civilian jobs upon their return, most recently with the announcement of a new credentialing program that aims to help veterans acquire the necessary civilian certification for jobs in the IT industry.

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Bryce Covert: Rhode Island state House voted 53-18 to pass a bill that would allow workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or a sick or injured family member. The Senate had previously passed the bill, but due to a technical change in the House version it headed back for a final vote in the Senate. That vote will send it to Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s (D) desk, who activists expect will sign it into law.

 The bill expands the state’s current Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, which currently only covers those who need time off for a work-related illness or injury, to cover those who need family leave. Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) will allow workers to pay into the program through a payroll deduction and then, starting January 2014, take up to four weeks of paid leave, which would rise to six weeks the year after and eight weeks by 2016. Paying into the program would cost someone making $43,000 a year 83 cents a week. The minimum weekly payment for the TDI program is currently $72 and the maximum is $752. It would cover nearly 80 percent of the state’s workforce. California and New Jersey are the only other two states that have programs similar to this one, which allow employees to pay into paid leave insurance. Connecticut also took a step toward creating such a program recently by setting up a task force to study the feasibility.

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Bryce Covert: All but 12 House Republicans voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act two weeks ago, which would ban abortions in the country 20 weeks after fertilization. But for the party of supposed fiscal restraint, such a move comes with a cost. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the bill last week and found that it would increase government spending and deficits. This should surprise no one, however. Reducing access to women’s reproductive choices comes with a high price tag for taxpayers. In scoring the House bill, the CBO said, “Depending on the number of additional births under H.R. 1797, such Medicaid costs could range from about $75 million over the next 10 years to more than $400 million over that period.” The bill would increase the deficit by $75 million between 2014 and 2018 and by $225 million from 2014 to 2023. These costs are thanks to the fact that 40 percent of all births are paid for by Medicaid and additional births will drive up those costs.

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Texas, however, should know that cutting off reproductive choices can drive up the government’s costs. In 2011, state legislators slashed funding for family planning services by $73 million in an attempt to deny Planned Parenthood taxpayer dollars because it provides abortions, despite the fact that the clinics that receive state subsidies didn’t provide the service. Denying low-income women access to family planning services was going to mean the delivery of 24,000 babies that they wouldn’t otherwise have had, which were going to cost Texans as much as $273 million thanks to medical expenses and covering their infants under Medicaid. After staring down those numbers, Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started working to reinstate the funds.

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Guests take pictures as President Barack Obama signs HR 4348, the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate bill, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Jamelle Bouie: Today’s story from the New York Times on IRS “filtering” should be the final word on whether this was political targeting or a more mundane instance of mistakes and misjudgments from overworked bureaucrats. Of the nearly 200,000 applications for tax-exempt status the IRS received between 2010 and 2012, it flagged 22,000 for further review. Of those, just 296 came from partisan political groups. In other words, notes the Times, “most of the applications pulled aside for further scrutiny in those years had nothing to do with politics, conservative or liberal, just as most of the red flags thrown up by the I.R.S.’s lookout lists were not overtly political.”

What were some of the other groups flagged by the IRS? “Medical marijuana purveyors, organizations formed to carry out President Obama’s health care law, and open source software developers who create software tools for computer code writers and distribute them free of charge.” Unless Republicans can prove that the White House has it out for open-source developers as well as tea party activists, it’s hard to see how they continue to stand by their claims.

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President Barack Obama listens during a communications planning meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Neil Irwin: Usually, we are among the first to insist that the monthly jobs report matters not for the wild swings it can create on financial markets but for what it tells us about the state of the U.S. economy and the employment and earnings prospects of our 300 million fellow citizens. Not today. The jobs numbers were pretty good: The nation added 195,000 positions in June, and job creation was significantly stronger than it seemed in April and May. The unemployment rate was unchanged, but more people joined the workforce. All in all, things seem to be getting better, and maybe getting better more quickly than it had seemed 24 hours ago.

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Tom Kludt: The 7-year-old Virginia boy who was struck by a stray bullet while on his way to watch a Fourth of July fireworks display died Friday, according to Richmond-based NBC affiliate WWBT. Police said the accident was likely the result of someone firing a gun in the air to celebrate the holiday. It is still unknown who fired the shot.

The boy and his father were walking to watch a fireworks show in Brandermill, Va. when the youngster fell behind before suddenly dropping to the ground. His father thought his son had passed out until he noticed the bullet wound on top the boy’s head. The boy died at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va.

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Zoe Schlanger: A South Dakota man fell asleep on his back porch while holding a loaded handgun, and accidentally shot himself in the midsection when a relative turned on the porch light, the Daily Republic reported.

The 34-year-old man suffered minor flesh wounds and was able to transport himself to the hospital.

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TPM: Baltimore man Lassiter Basket, 82, was careful to use blanks and shoot indoors when he fired his handgun to celebrate the Fourth of July, the Baltimore Sun reported. Fragments of a blank moved through his great-granddaughter’s bedroom wall, and burned into her wrists and leg.

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LOLGOP: As some debate whether this country has become more like George Orwell’s 1984 of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, keep in mind that for millions of Americans who have no time to debate such a lofty question, actual oppression exists. This oppression isn’t a overwhelming fear of a the Thought Police or even a steady drugging that manufactures consent. It isn’t theoretical or some slippery slope that slowly envelops true liberty. It’s a never-ending concern about survival and sustenance. It’s a need to keep children fed, clothed and well. It’s knowing that disaster lurks every time your boss is unhappy with you.

The dystopian future we may fear already exists for millions. If you’re expecting fascism to come with a cross and a flag, you’re immune — due to over or underexposure — to the actual economic feudalism that has always trapped the working poor in the country. It’s called wage slavery. The easiest way to trap someone into a life of wage slavery is deny them education and have them start a family before they can afford it. Texas Republicans have this formula for a lifetime of poverty worked out to a science.

The Texas GOP’s jihad against family planning and Planned Parenthood creates unintended pregnancies and leaves poor women with no options. This creates generational poverty and a low-wage workforce with no time to consider how the petrol-funded theocracy of the Lone Star state is designed to make the rich richer and workers less safe and more dependent on the corporations that have indentured them.

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President Barack Obama shares his strawberry pie with a boy during a lunch stop at Kozy Corners restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Christopher S. Rugaber: U.S. employers added a robust 195,000 jobs in June and many more in April and May than previously thought. The job growth raises hopes for a stronger economy in the second half of 2013. The unemployment rate remained 7.6 percent. That was because more people started looking for work in June — a healthy sign. Once people without jobs start looking for one, the government counts them as unemployed. Pay also rose sharply in June, the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report Friday showed. Pay has now outpaced inflation over the past year.

Stock index futures rose shortly after the report was released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped from 2.56 percent to 2.65 percent, a sign that investors think the economy is improving. Friday’s report showed that the economy added 70,000 more jobs in April and May than the government had previously estimated — 50,000 in April and 20,000 in May. Average hourly pay rose 10 cents to $24.01, 2.2 percent higher than a year ago. The hotels, restaurants and entertainment industry added 75,000 jobs last month. Retailers added 37,000. Temporary jobs rose 10,000. Manufacturing shed 6,000 jobs. But construction added 13,000, and health care gained 20,000.

Auto sales in the January-June period topped 7.8 million, their best first half since 2007, according to Autodata Corp. and Ward’s AutoInfoBank. Sales of previously occupied homes exceeded 5 million in May, the first time that’s happened since November 2009. New-home sales rose at their fastest pace in five years.

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First Lady Michelle Obama huddles with children during a Joining Forces event with military families at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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President Barack Obama gets a hug from a little girl as he greets Wounded Warriors and their families in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Frank Lampard Winning Streak Day! :D

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05
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

2:30: President Obama departs Joint Base Andrews en route Camp David

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Steve Benen: U.S. job growth improves, exceeds expectations

Going into this morning, most economists projected job growth from June to be about 155,000 new jobs. With this in mind, the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows not only good news, but unexpectedly good news…..

The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 195,000 jobs in June and employment gains for May and April were revised sharply higher, the U.S. government said Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.6%, but the size of the labor force increased by 177,000, according to the Labor Department said.

…. Perhaps the most important – and most heartening – detail in this new report is the upward revisions for the previous two months…

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Business Insider: It’s a beat!

195K new private sector jobs was well ahead of the 165K new jobs that was expected.

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Ah, funny how this didn’t get much attention….

NYT: I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political

In 2010, a tiny Palestinian-rights group called Minnesota Break the Bonds applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. Two years and a lot of prodding later, the I.R.S. sent the group’s leaders a series of questions and requests almost identical to the ones it was sending to Tea Party groups at the time.

…. The controversy that erupted in May has focused on an ideological question: Were conservative groups singled out for special treatment based on their politics, or did the I.R.S. equally target liberal groups? But a closer look at the I.R.S. operation suggests that the problem was less about ideology and more about how a process instructing reviewers to “be on the lookout” for selected terms was applied to any group that mentioned certain words in its application.

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ThinkProgress: What The Mainstream Media Misses About Texas’ Ongoing Abortion Battle

Over the past week, Texas has captured national attention with a dramatic show-down between a Republican-controlled legislature and thousands of reproductive health advocates…. but many of the narratives the media is crafting aren’t actually getting at the full scope of the story.

In addition to criminalizing abortion services after 20 weeks, the other provisions in Texas’ abortion proposals would impose harsh restrictions on abortion providers. By subjecting abortion clinics to new regulations that would force them to make expensive updates to their facilities — unnecessary measures that major medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose — Texas’ bill would force 90 percent of the state’s clinics to close their doors. That would leave just five abortion clinics in the entire Lone Star State, which happens to be the second most populous state in the country.

…. And the real catch? Outside of the debate about abortion access after 20 weeks — even outside of the fight for abortion rights altogether — the “abortion clinics” in question are often providing health services that encompass much more than helping women terminate a pregnancy. Many of them also provide preventative care, family planning counseling, STD testing, and cancer screenings. And they offer those health services to Texans of both genders who are typically uninsured.

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News Observer: Gov. Pat McCrory doled out handshakes and hailed parade-goers as he rode in this Rowan County town’s Fourth of July parade Thursday, but he wouldn’t say what he’d do about a controversial abortion bill if it reaches his desk.

That question has been on many minds in North Carolina this week, after the N.C. Senate Wednesday approved sweeping new rules that could limit abortions. The bill now goes to the N.C. House.

The legislation would require N.C. abortion clinics to meet tougher standards similar to those governing outpatient surgery clinics. As a result, critics say, it would effectively close the majority of the state’s 16 abortion clinics. It would also require doctors to be present when women take pills to induce abortions.

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Oh boy…..

Mediaite: Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, was a little shocked when reporters switched from questioning him about the U.S.’s openly gay nominee for Ambassador to the Dominican Republic to the subject of the regional egg trade: “We go from faggots and lesbians to this?” he said, laughing. “We’re jumping to chickens now?”….

More here

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Woah – nice voice! Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey sings the National Anthem at the Washington Nationals versus Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on July 4:

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

PS:

26
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

@petesouza: POTUS and FLOTUS wave from aboard AF1, en route to Africa

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Today:

EST

8:45 AM: The President and the First Family depart the White House

GMT

8:25PM: Arrive Dakar, Senegal

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Heather Gerken (Slate): Goodbye to the Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement – People died to pass Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but that didn’t save it at the Supreme Court.

…. To understand why Section 5 was special, you have to know a bit about its history. The brutal attacks on civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge provided the push needed to pass the Voting Rights Act. When the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, almost no African-Americans were registered to vote in the Deep South due to brutal repression and sickening legal chicanery.

Civil rights litigators and the Department of Justice were doing their best to help. They filed lawsuit after lawsuit to make it possible for blacks to register. But every time a court deemed one discriminatory practice illegal, local officials would switch to another. Literacy tests, poll taxes, burdensome registration requirements – these techniques were all used to prevent African-Americans from voting. Southern voting registrars would even resign from their positions as soon as a lawsuit was on the cusp of succeeding, thereby sending the case back to square one. The Voting Rights Act aimed to change all of this.

Section 5 was the most important and imaginative provision in the law….

More here

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President Barack Obama gives his second State of The Union Address before a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC.

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Sahil Kapur: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the fierce dissent against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday to invalidate a key section of the Voting Rights Act, accusing the conservative justices of displaying “hubris” and a lack of sound reasoning. “[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making,” wrote the leader of the court’s liberal wing. “Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.”

Joined by the three other liberal-leaning justices, Ginsburg scolded the conservative majority and its rationale for throwing out Section 4 of the law — which contains the formula Congress has used to determine which states and local governments must receive federal pre-approval before changing their voting laws. “Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,” she wrote. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.” “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg wrote.

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Texas Tribune: The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.

“I am overwhelmed, honestly,” Davis said after standing for nearly 13 hours to filibuster Senate Bill 5, the abortion legislation. The outpouring of support from protesters at the Capitol and across the nation, she said, “shows the determination and spirit of Texas women and people who care about Texas women.”

…. Republican senators made a last-ditch effort to approve SB 5, voting 19-10, but by then the clock had ticked past midnight. Under the terms of the state Constitution, the special session had ended, and the bill could not be signed, enrolled or sent to the governor.

… Conservative lawmakers tried every tool in the Senate rulebook to derail the filibuster. A “three strikes, you’re out” precedent in the Senate grants lawmakers two warnings about staying germane to the bill topic … Davis received the three strikes: two were on the germaneness of the discussion and one was related to Davis receiving assistance from another senator to put on a back brace….

More here

Click here to see the rest of the post

25
Jun
13

#IStandWithWendy

Live streaming

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24
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

Random Pic: President Obama talks with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew outside the Oval Office, May 1, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

11:45: The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

12:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:0: The President meets with CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of commonsense immigration reform

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NYT: Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a series of decisions that could transform three fundamental social institutions: marriage, education and voting.

The extraordinary run of blockbuster rulings due in the space of a single week will also reshape the meaning of legal equality and help define for decades to come one of the Constitution’s grandest commands: “the equal protection of the laws.”

If those words require only equal treatment from the government, the rulings are likely to be a mixed bag that will delight and disappoint liberals and conservatives in equal measure. Under that approach, same-sex couples who want to marry would be better off at the end of the term, while blacks and Hispanics could find it harder to get into college and to vote.

More here

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SCOTUS Blog: On Monday, June 24, we will begin live blogging at 9 a.m. ET.

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Michael Tomasky: Today begins one of the biggest weeks in the Supreme Court’s recent history. Certainly the biggest since it decided on Obamacare almost exactly a year ago, and I would say even bigger, because while that was a huge deal in a news sense, these decisions will drill right into the muscle and bone of our competing constitutional theories in this country—whether the Constitution is a living document that permits judges to use it to reach conclusions about changing social morality (the liberal view), or whether it should do no such thing and judges should never think about “outcomes” (the conservative one). The decisions should certainly focus liberals’ minds on what a crucial role the Court plays in shaping our lives, and the fact that we have four justices, two on each side, age 75 or older is a reminder of how the next president may well shape the nature and size of the Court’s majority for at least a generation to come, maybe two.

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Time: Republicans used their majority to cut short debate and give preliminary approval early Monday to some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country as time was running out on the Texas Legislature’s special session.

Many members of the conservative majority had flyers on their desks that read “Psalm 139:13-14,” which reads in part, “You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Democrats gained strength from more than 800 demonstrators who packed the hallways of the Capitol carrying signs reading, “Stop the War on Women” to oppose Senate Bill 5. The measure would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and limit abortions to surgical centers.

More here – and more at ThinkProgress

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Excellent:

HealthCare.gov

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Steve Benen: Where in the world is Edward Snowden?” is proving to be a rather complicated question.

….. there was apparently some drama in Moscow’s airport this morning, when there was heavy security surrounding a flight to Havana. Journalists tracking Snowden’s whereabouts quickly bought tickets on the flight, only to discover once they were on board and the doors were shut that he would not be on the plane.

It is, incidentally, a 12-hour flight from Moscow to Havana, which those journalists are apparently taking for no reason. On the other hand, it’ll be a whole lot of frequent-flier miles for them.

….. All of this, by the way, is turning into quite an international media spectacle. The New York Times front-page report on Snowden’s whereabouts this morning featured reporting from ten journalists in five cities on two continents…. Who knew the Snowden story would become a full-employment initiative for reporters?

Full post here

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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.

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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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19
Feb
13

“There is an endless supply of paint”

Houston Chronicle: Marcus Davis is resolute. As many times as vandals paint over a mural of President Barack Obama, he will repair the damage over and over again.

“There is an endless supply of paint,” said Davis, 41, who opened The Breakfast Klub in 2001. “This mural is symbolic of the presidency of Barack Obama. He wakes up every day to obstacles and challenges far greater than a doggone mural being defaced. If he has the level of courage and type of character that causes him to continue to go on, I’ll be damned if I stop.”

More here

Thank you Dudette!

Okay people, from here on in, when we’re feeling crap, this will be our motto:

“There is an endless supply of paint.”

;-)

07
Mar
12

evening all

President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac to greet people after arriving at North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte, N.C., March 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Thursday

11:00: Michelle Obama attends the 2012 International Women of Courage Awards ceremony hosted by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

3:30: PBO hosts President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana for a meeting.

5:35: PBO and Michelle Obama have dinner with winners of a campaign contest.

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PBS: The web is abuzz today about video of a speech Barack Obama gave in 1990 at Harvard Law School defending the actions of Professor Derrick Bell ….

….. the website BuzzFeed published a clip of the speech …. it claimed the clip was “not previously available online” ….. But there’s nothing new about the clip or Obama’s role in the controversy at Harvard Law School …. it’s been online at our site and on YouTube since 2008…..

In light of today’s controversy, and Breitbart.com editors’ claims that the footage had been edited, we pulled the full archived tape. In includes not just Obama’s speech, but other footage from the rally and portions of Derrick Bell’s speech….

While BuzzFeed did not publish all of the available footage of the event they did post the entirety of what was available of Obama’s speech….. (See the link to watch the video)

More here

A clip from the original PBS documentary:

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Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post at The People’s View:

‘We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.’

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Greg Sargent: A new national poll of Latino registered voters by Univision News/ABC/Latino Decisions has some very interesting findings that cast doubt on GOP chances of making inroads among them:

* 61% of Latinos trust Obama and Dems to make the right decisions to improve the economy, versus only 24% who pick Republicans.

* 57% of Latinos say Obama’s health reform law should be left to stand, versus 28% who support repeal.

* Romney’s favorable ratings among Latinos are upside down, at 28-41, though many are undecided.

* 72% of Latinos say that the GOP either doesn’t care about reaching out to them (45%) or is outright hostile to them (27%)…..

….. the fact that nearly three-fourths of Latinos think the GOP either doesn’t care about or is outright hostile towards them is another sign that the primary may have badly damaged any GOP hopes of making real inroads with them.

More here

****

WCNC: North Carolina’s favorite son is hoping his voice will help keep President Barack Obama in the White House for another four years.

On Friday in Ballantyne, musician James Taylor appeared at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Convention with First Lady Michelle Obama…..

…. For the next few months he is on tour and on a mission to keep Barack Obama in the White House.

On Taylor’s hat, you’ll find a small pin reading “Obama 2012.” “It’s a 2012, pump up the spirit pin,” Taylor said. “I do wear it with pride. I am so, I really love this President. I love what it says about America that we were able to elect this man… and I think of him as almost uniquely honest in this political world.”

More here

****

President Obama greets Davis Marsico, 6, and other supporters upon his arrival at Charlotte Douglas International airport, March 7

WBTV

Thanks LOL

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Political Cartoons

Editorialcartoonists

The Week

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21
Sep
11

rest in peace, troy davis

1968 – 2011

An innocent man, murdered by the state of Georgia.

****

“I did not take your son, father, brother. May God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

Troy Davis’ last words to his executioners.

21
Sep
11

‘a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt’

This morning, six retired corrections officials, including Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where he oversaw executions for the state, have sent the following letter to Georgia Corrections Officials and Governor Nathan Deal asking them to urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider the decision they made on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 to deny Troy Davis Clemency despite concerns about his guilt.

Statement:

We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

We write to you today with the overwhelming concern that an innocent person could be executed in Georgia tonight. We know the legal process has exhausted itself in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, and yet, doubt about his guilt remains. This very fact will have an irreversible and damaging impact on your staff. Many people of significant standing share these concerns, including, notably, William Sessions, Director of the FBI under President Ronald Reagan.

Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?

We urge you to ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider their decision. Should that fail, we urge  you to unburden yourselves and your staff from the pain of participating in such a questionable execution to the extent possible  by allowing any personnel so inclined to opt-out of activities related to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Further, we urge you to provide appropriate counseling to personnel who do choose to perform their job functions related to the execution. If we may be of assistance to you moving forward, please do not hesitate to call upon any of us.

Respectfully and collegially,

Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison
Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Dennis O’Neill – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison
Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison

21
Sep
11

fighting to the end

Steve Benen: Michael Moore had an item this afternoon about the looming Troy Davis execution:

“President Obama: Can’t you do like Kennedy & send in federal troops to stop this injustice in Georgia? The buck stops with u.”

… I can appreciate why it might seem as if the buck always stops with a president, but in the Davis case, it’s not Obama’s call.

When presidents during the civil rights era ordered federal troops into the South, they were enforcing federal law. Eisenhower and JFK clearly had the authority to act …. Obama doesn’t have the authority to “send in federal troops” to stop the execution.

….. presidential clemency isn’t an option here ….. he has no legal authority to get involved, officially, with a state execution. When the death penalty is imposed for a state crime like murder, it is a state issue.

Full post here

15
Sep
11

the death squad

More here and here

****

LA Times: The U.S. Supreme Court stopped Texas officials Thursday evening from executing a Houston murderer who was sentenced to die after jurors were told he posed a greater danger to public safety because he was black.

The justices acted on an emergency appeal after Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state judges refused to intervene.

… Duane Edward Buck, a 48-year-old auto mechanic, was sentenced to die for the 1995 shootings of an ex-girlfriend and another man. His attorneys did not dispute his guilt but argued that prosecutors should not have used his race to argue for a death sentence.

… Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst did not respond to pleas urging them to grant Buck a 30-day reprieve. Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was campaigning in Iowa on Thursday, leaving Dewhurst to preside over the execution….

…. Last week, Perry said during a GOP presidential debate that he “never struggled” over the death penalty because “the state of Texas has a very thoughtful, very clear process in place.” During Perry’s 11 years in office, the state has carried out 235 executions.

The sentencing dispute arose because of an unusual provision in Texas’ death penalty law. Jurors were required to weigh whether a convicted murderer would pose a future danger if he were sentenced to life in prison rather than death. In a series of cases, Dr. Walter Quijano, a psychologist, testified that blacks posed a greater risk of “future dangerousness” than whites…..

Full article here

More at Mother Jones

07
Sep
11

troy

NAACP

Former President Jimmy Carter:

“This case illustrates the deep flaws in the application of the death penalty in this country. Executing Troy Davis without a real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice. The citizens of Georgia should demand the highest standards of proof when our legal system condemns on our behalf a man or woman to die.”

Read about the case here

*** Thank you Sarah ***

Troy Davis: “Spare my life. Just give me a second chance. That’s all I ask.”




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