Posts Tagged ‘department

01
Jul
14

The President’s Day

President Obama and staff watch the U.S. soccer team vs Belgium in World Cup action in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, July 1 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama speaks to the media during a meeting with his cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House. From left are, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

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Attorney General Eric Holder

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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

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With the Key Bridge, linking Washington and Northern Virginia in the background, President Barack Obama speaks about the economy and transportation, at Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington. The President said 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year if Congress doesn’t quickly agree on how to pay for highway and transit programs.

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01
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama shake hands with the crowd gathered for their arrival at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:55: The President holds a Cabinet meeting

1:0: Josh Earnest briefs the press

2:20: The President delivers remarks on the economy

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Aaron Carroll: It’s Getting Hard To Ignore Insurance Numbers (UPDATED)

Five percent of Americans report being newly insured in 2014. More than half of that group, or 2.8% of the total U.S. population, say they got their new insurance through the health exchanges that were open through mid-April. Given the population of the United States, this means that more than 15 million about 10-11 million American adults are newly insured this year. Almost 9 million of them received private insurance through the exchanges. There’s more (emphasis mine): The newly insured using exchanges are mostly under age 65, as would be expected, given that most Americans 65 and older are covered by Medicare.

Thus, the representation of newly insured Americans is higher across all three age groups younger than 65 than is true for the general population. More specifically, newly insured Americans using the exchanges in the 18 to 29 age category are eight percentage points more prevalent than their percentage in the overall adult population, while representation of those 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 are five and four points higher, respectively.This means that the fears that the young would refrain from buying insurance, thereby fracturing the risk pools, don’t seem to be coming to pass either.

More here

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Spandan Chakrabarti: Re-Igniting War On Women, Supreme Court Makes Case For Democratic Congress (#HobbyLobby)

5 conservative men on the Supreme Court decided that a core part of women’s health cannot be part of required employer-provided insurance coverage – even if the additional coverage costs nothing – at least as applied to private, family-owned corporations. All of the court’s female justices were joined by Justice Breyer in a strong and scathing dissent. it does, however, leave Democrats a major political opening when it comes to contraception. First, the majority explicitly held that HHS could in fact levy a contraception mandate – on insurance companies. In its language, the opinion refers to the method of contraception coverage HHS uses for employers already exempt from the contraception mandate (churches and other religious nonprofits) – requiring insurance companies to provide the coverage, outside of the employers’ policies but with no additional cost to the insured.

Secondly, and more importantly, the decision relies on a law passed by Congress – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993 thanks, Bill Clinton) – and not the First Amendment. it can be overridden by an act of Congress. Therein lies the major opening for Democrats in 2014 and in 2016. This decision not only puts the Right wing’s war on women back on the forefront just in time for the midterms, it points to a specific cure: have Congress change the law to override the Court’s decision. If Democrats wanted to run on a single issue from now to November, it should be a promise to write into the law protections for contraceptive coverage should we win back the House and keep the Senate. It is time that we, as Americans, found out what everyone asking for our votes stands on women’s health. Leave behind all of your trepidation about why the Democratic party isn’t perfect and how President Obama has “disappointed” you. You have no right to be outraged by today’s decision if you do not show up to the polls in November and ensure the election of a Congress that will override the law that the Supreme Court says allows for employers to control the reproductive lives of their employees.

More here

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Energy.Gov: Energy Department Project Captures And Stores More Than One Million Metric Tons Of CO2

Following the one year mark since the release of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – in partnership with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. – today announced a major milestone, successfully capturing more than one million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the hydrogen-production facility in Port Arthur, Texas. Using an innovative technology called vacuum swing adsorption, the project captures more than 90 percent of the CO2 from the product stream of two commercial-scale steam methane reformers that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.

In addition to the secure storage, captured carbon from the project will be used to help produce additional, hard-to-access resources from existing nearby oil fields. In total, Department of Energy projects have captured and securely stored nearly 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to date, equivalent to taking more than 1.5 million cars off the road for a year. In just the last year since the release of the President’s Climate Action Plan, these Department-supported projects have stored approximately 2.8 metric tons.

More here

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Steve Benen: Boehner Gives Up On Immigration, Obama Moving Forward

Almost exactly a year ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in no uncertain terms that he would ignore the popular, bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. The plan may have been endorsed by business leaders, labor unions, law enforcement, immigration advocates, leaders from the faith community, economists, and deficit hawks, but the Republican leader said it didn’t matter: the Senate bill was dead on arrival. Even if it had the votes to pass, it would never reach the House floor. But, Boehner said at the time, immigration reform was very much alive. “The House is going to do its own job in developing an immigration bill,” the Speaker vowed. “It is time for Congress to act. But I believe the House has its job to do, and we will do our job.”  That was 51 weeks ago.

And while Boehner probably meant what he said, the House Speaker made a commitment he could not keep. House members “will do our job”? Well, no actually, as is too often the case, the Republican-led chamber will do nothing. No longer willing to watch the GOP-led House do nothing, President Obama intends to move forward without legislative action. For his part, Boehner’s spokesperson, Michael Steel, told reporters this afternoon, “Speaker Boehner told the President exactly what he has been telling him: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written. Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.” As talking points go, I find it hard to imagine any adult seriously believing an argument so transparently foolish. For one thing, Boehner himself already discredited the argument from Boehner’s office, admitting publicly that immigration reform hasn’t happened because his own Republican allies are afraid of hard work.

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Alan Gomez: Obama Rips GOP On Immigration, Says He Will Act Alone

After more than a year of urging Congress to pass an immigration law, President Obama gave a fiery White House speech Monday, saying the time had come for him to act alone on the issue. “The failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy and it’s bad for our future,” he said. “If Congress won’t do their job, at least we can do ours.” The president laid out in a letter to congressional leaders Monday several steps his administration has taken in recent weeks to respond to an unprecedented surge in children caught crossing the border. The president ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the federal agencies that have been catching, processing and housing the children. The Department of Justice is in the process of reassigning immigration judges and U.S. attorneys to the border to speed up hearings in immigration court, and

the Department of Health and Human Services has scoured the country to find places to put those children. In March, Obama ordered Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to conduct a systemwide review of deportation practices to see how they could be done “more humanely.” Obama later asked that the results of that review be postponed until the end of the summer to give Congress time to work through an immigration bill. Monday, with 28 days left in the legislative calendar, Obama said the review would be completed soon and would include changes to the country’s immigration enforcement structure. Obama said the only response from Republicans has been to use the crisis as their “newest excuse to do nothing.”

More here

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Washington Post: Illinois To Allow Same-Day Registration, Expand Early Voting Hours

Illinois will dramatically expand access to the ballot box this year by allowing voters to register on Election Day, and by significantly extending the hours early-vote locations will be open. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has said he will sign the measure, passed by the legislature late last month. The bill expands both the number of days during which early voting locations are open and the number of hours each day they remain open. Voters who cast a ballot early will not have to show a photo identification.

“Democracy works best when everyone has the opportunity to participate,” Quinn said in a statement. “By removing barriers to vote, we can ensure a government of the people and for the people.” Meanwhile, students at public universities will have an easier time casting a ballot under the new measure. The bill allows students attending public schools to change their residences from their hometowns to college campuses, giving them easier access to polling places on campus.

More here

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Harold Meyerson: Supreme Court Rules Disadvantaged Workers Should Be Disadvantaged Some More

The conservative majority on the Supreme Court today took up the case of some of America’s most disadvantaged workers, and ruled that they should be disadvantaged some more. The five-to-four ruling in Harris v. Quinn goes a long way to crippling the efforts that unions have made to help these workers get out of poverty. The case concerned some 28,000 home care aides in Illinois whose paychecks come from Medicaid. Before the state agreed in 2003 that they could form a union, they made the minimum wage. (It’s the state that sets their wage rate, since their pay comes entirely from Medicaid.) Currently, as a result of their union contract, they make $11.85 an hour rather than the minimum of $7.25. Tomorrow, by the terms of their contract, their hourly rate is raised to $12.25, and on December 1st to $13. The right to hire and fire these workers remains solely, of course, that of their home-bound patients and their families.

The workers, then, are joint employees of both their patients and the state. And since the state allowed them to vote on whether to join a union, and since they voted to join the Service Employees International Union, these 28,000 workers have seen their pay doubled and have received, for the first time, health care coverage. Like all unionized public employees, they don’t have to pay that portion of their union dues that goes to their union’s political activities, but they do have to pay that portion of dues that goes to the union’s bargaining with the state that has produced their contract. Pamela Harris, who works at home caring for her disabled son, didn’t like those dues obligations, however, and sued to get them overturned. So, Ms. Harris had to pay $650 for her raise? Actually, no. She belongs to a different category of home-care workers, and unlike the workers who voted to join SEIU, her group voted against joining a union. She pays no dues to anybody.

More here

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April 1, 2014

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Katie McDonough: SCOTUS Gets Hobby Lobby Horribly Wrong: Why This Isn’t A “Limited” Ruling

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Hobby Lobby can ignore federal law and deny its employees comprehensive health insurance because of its “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Analysis of the case has so far called this a limited ruling because it only applies to closely held corporations and “only” impacts contraceptive coverage. But this framing completely ignores the fact that more than 90 percent of corporations in the United States are closely held, and that the court just effectively ruled that it’s fine for employers to discriminate against half of the labor force. There’s nothing limited about it. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her powerful dissent, far from being narrow in its ruling, the high court just “ventured into a minefield.” The ruling sends a strong message that women’s health and women’s rights — as individuals and employees — do not matter as much as so-called religious liberty.

It also shows once again that medically inaccurate ideas about healthcare can dictate the terms of a debate and ultimately win the day. To sum it up, five male justices ruled that thousands of female employees should rightfully be subjected to the whims of their employers. That women can be denied a benefit that they already pay for and is guaranteed by federal law. That contraception is not essential healthcare. That corporations can pray. That the corporate veil can be manipulated to suit the needs of the corporation. That bosses can cynically choose à la carte what laws they want to comply with and which laws they do not. Each specific finding opens a door to a new form of discrimination and unprecedented corporate power. If you think this ruling won’t affect you, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think these corporations are going to stop at birth control, you’re kidding yourself.

More here

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama smile while hosting a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month at the White House

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On This Day

President Obama signs S.614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots, in the Oval Office Wednesday, July 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama looks out of the Oval Office for other aides before a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, July 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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People line the street as President Obama’s motorcade makes its way to the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama greets Tanzanian people during an official arrival ceremony in Dar Es Salaam July 1, 2013

23
Jun
14

President Obama & The First Lady Champion Working Families

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Summit on Working Families at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. President Obama, as part of efforts to make the U.S. workplace more accommodating for employees with families, will on Monday direct federal agencies to step up efforts to give workers more leeway in determining their schedules.

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President Barack Obama is introduced by Lisa Rumain of Martinsville, N.J., at The White House Summit on Working Families

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President Barack Obama sits with, from left, Mark Weinberger, Ernst & Young, Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson and Johnson, Shelia Marcello, CEO of Care.com, Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, and Dave Lissy from Bright Horizons during their meeting at the White House Summit on Working Families

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Marlei Martinez: Obama Seeks ‘Good, Strong, Healthy Families’

President Barack Obama is encouraging Congress and the country to focus on issues here at home — namely how to improve the livelihoods of working families.Here are the five things we learned from our sitdown with the President: 1. The goal of the summit is … “… to lift up the conversation that everybody is already having individually and let people know you’re not alone out here,” Obama said. Priority one: Paid family leave According to a survey from the United Nations’ labor agency, of the 185 countries and territories with readily available information, only three do not provide paid maternity leave. And, you guessed it, the United States made that list. The other two countries are Oman and Papua New Guinea. “Paid family leave, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t have it,” the President said. “It doesn’t make any sense. There are a lot of countries that are a lot poorer than we are that also have it.”

Priority two: Workplace flexibility The President said he’s pushing for workplace flexibility to give parents the opportunity to become more involved in their children’s lives and education. “We always say that we want parents involved in our kids’ education,” he said. “There are millions of families out there who can’t even imagine taking time off to go to a parent-teacher conference.” This type of workplace flexibility is a practice that he and the first lady believe will improve employee morale and motivation. Priority three: Child care. “We don’t do a very good job providing high-quality, affordable child care, and there are a lot of countries, a lot of our competitors do it,” Obama told Bolduan. “That means that it’s a lot easier for women to be in the workforce and not have to make choices that ultimately mean they’re, in some cases, getting paid less or having less opportunities. And it also means, by the way, that our kids are more likely to thrive.” Add to that list: Equal pay for equal work.

More here

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President Barack Obama mimics someone handing him a baby

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President Barack Obama walks down Calvert Street NW to have lunch at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Washington, before they attended the White House Summit on Working Families. Walking with President Obama, from second from left are, Shirley Young, Shelby Ramirez, Lisa Rumain, and Rodger Trombley

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President Barack Obama with Shelby Ramirez

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Robin Roberts and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Summit on Working Families

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23
Apr
13

This and That

President Obama presents the 2013 National Teacher of the Year award to Jeff Charbonneau, a high school science teacher from Zillah, Washington, during a Rose Garden event at the White House

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Line of the day? Charles Pierce on Max Baucus: “…. the pestilential trout-mask replica from Montana…”

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Steve Benen: ….. I’d like the folks holding Obama responsible [for gun reform] to consider a look at the recent past. In 2009 and 2010, the White House and Congress successfully approved the Recovery Act, a health care reform law 100 years in the making, Wall Street reform, DADT repeal, student loan reform, New START ratification, credit card reforms, and food-safety reforms. Are those inclined to blame Obama for gun reform’s failure prepared to argue that the president simply forgot how to twist arms in 2011? That he knew how to persuade lawmakers before, but the skill suddenly vanished?

Or is it more likely that congressional Republicans changed the game after the 2010 midterms?

I also believe there’s an ongoing reluctance among many to appreciate the scope of Republican radicalization. For many, especially in media, there’s an assumption that there are two major, mainstream political parties — one center-left, the other center-right — and an effective president can govern through competent bipartisan outreach.

Those assumptions are wrong….

Full post here

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Click to see the rest of the post

22
Feb
13

Yet More Change….

CBS: President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act….

Attorney General Eric Holder: “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that … Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.”

More here

06
Feb
13

The Justice Department Memo: Some Non-Hysterical Balance

Michael Tomasky:  …. I’ve now read the DoJ white paper that justifies the killing of US citizens. It’s certainly not something that makes the breast swell with pride. But it does make me wonder what I would do in this situation, and I can’t honestly come up with easy answers. While I don’t condone what the Obama administration is doing here, I’m also suspicious of high-horse denunciations, because I think the question of whether an American forfeits his due process rights when he joins an enemy army is a complicated one.

…. There’s no doubt that a sentence like “the president has the power to order the assassination of American citizens” sounds positively despotic. However, these are people who have gone off and joined Al Qaeda. If an American citizen of German descent had gone back to heimat Germany in 1934 and joined the Nazi Party and worked his way up such that he was involved in the plotting of attacks against American soldiers, and Roosevelt had order him killed, no one would have batted an eye in 1940s America…..

…  I’ve never been a hard-line civil libertarian. My civic-republican instincts cut against that, because I feel that citizenship confers not just rights but responsibilities….. There’s always the possibility of the case where we might find out too late, and a large number of Americans could die. Presidents live with that responsibility every day. If that responsibility were mine, I can’t honestly say what I’d do, and I don’t think anyone can.

Read the full post here

06
Feb
13

Rise and Shine

Three years ago today – Pete Souza: “Another snowstorm blanketed Washington for the second time in a few days. Because it was a Saturday, I hung around the White House thinking that the President might venture out in the snow with his daughters. Here they are playing in the Rose Garden in the midst of the storm.” Feb. 6, 2010

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Today:

9:50: President Obama departs the White House

10:10: Arrives in Annapolis, Md.

10:30: Attends the Senate Democratic Issues Conference

11:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

12:25: President Obama departs Annapolis

12:45: Arrives at the White House

2:0 Will announce nomination of Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department

4:0: Secretary of State John Kerry is ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Biden in Washington

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Washington Post: President Obama on Wednesday will nominate Recreational Equipment (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department….

The choice of Jewell, who began her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil and worked as a commercial banker before heading a nearly $2 billion outdoors equipment company, represents an unconventional choice for a post usually reserved for career politicians from the West.

But while she boasts less public policy experience than other candidates who had been under consideration, Jewell, who will have to be confirmed by the Senate, has earned national recognition for her management skills and support for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Endorsements from the National Rifle Association might be doing political candidates more harm than good, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

In a national survey, 39 percent of voters said that they are less likely to vote for a politician whose candidacy has garnered NRA backing. Only 26 percent believe they’re more likely to support such a candidate.

But more importantly, the number of independent voters are far less likely to see the NRA nod as a good thing: 41 percent say they’re inclined not to support a candidate who’s backed by the NRA…..

More here

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USA Today: President Obama will visit Israel this spring, though specific dates haven’t been nailed down.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama discussed the visit in a Jan. 28 phone call with newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As part of the trip, Obama will also travel to the West Bank and Jordan.

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Reuters: Home Depot Inc said it will hire 10,000 additional seasonal workers for its key spring selling season as it sees higher sales growth during the period.

The home-improvement retailer said it will hire 80,000 seasonal workers this year, 14 percent more than it hired last year.

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Steve Benen – see here

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NYT: The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The group ranked all 50 states based on more than 15 criteria, including wait times, lost votes and problems with absentee and provisional ballots, and the order often confounds the conventional wisdom.

In 2010, for instance, Mississippi ranked last over all. But it was preceded by two surprises: New York and California.

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ThinkProgress: During the November 2012 election, Black and Hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long to vote as whites, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis. New York Times graphs summarizing the analysis show that white voters waited an average of 12.7 minutes, while Black and Hispanic voters waited an average of 20.2 minutes

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TPM: When President Obama won in November the electorate also rendered a verdict on the priorities of the two major political parties. Democrats, most voters believe, are more concerned with the plight of the middle class than Republicans, who ran on a platform of actually lowering income taxes on wealthy Americans.

In the intervening months, Republican operatives have become practitioners of a new kind of alchemy, attempting with little success to convince voters that the right’s long-standing agenda is actually an array of policies that coincidentally meets the needs of the middle class.

Enter House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who’s hit upon a new plan. If you can’t turn lead into gold, go out and buy some gold paint.

More here

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Thank you LovelyPlains!

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NYT: Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lived for decades with a stunning secret — that she was the interracial daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist who never acknowledged her publicly as his child — died Monday in a nursing home near Columbia, S.C. She was 87.

Strom Thurmond never publicly acknowledged that he was Ms. Washington-Williams’s father.

Six months after her father died at age 100 as the longest-serving senator in history, Ms. Washington-Williams broke her silence.

“My father’s name was James Strom Thurmond,” she said at a news conference in a hotel ballroom in Columbia on Dec. 17, 2003

More here

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I hooted, in a loud snorty kind of way:

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And now that Dick Morris is leaving Fox, it’s a good time to recall what a brilliant political-predicting-pundit he was:

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MooOOOOooOOOOooorning!

01
Feb
13

Heads Up: National Medals of Science, Technology and Innovation

2:15 ET: President Obama awards the National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation

White House Live * CBS * CNN

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President Obama: “I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators. They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this Nation great – and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment.”

See the list of recipients here

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All those syllables…..

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2:30 ET On her last day as Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton thanks her colleagues at the State Department

C-Span * CNN

12
Sep
12

The Choice

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Coming up:

9:10 ET: President Obama delivers remarks at the Cashman Center, Las Vegas

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on as President Barack Obama hugs a State Department employee at the State Department where the President went to meet with staff after the killing of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three staff members at the US Consulate building in Benghazi, Libya.

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