President Obama signs the proclamation marking the National Day of Prayer in the Oval Office in May 2009 while Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, looks on.
There is such a disconnect between the views of some Black elites on POTUS & race — and the reality of his words & work.
Jason Sattler: SHOCKER: Obamacare Is Working Best In States That Aren’t Trying To Sabotage It
Of the 106,185 people who have completed an application for health insurance, nearly 75 percent came from 14 states and the District of Columbia that both set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, California and New York combined for the bulk of the enrollments, 51,769. But the most promising news from the Golden State wasn’t even included in this report.
Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, reported Wednesday that as of Tuesday, 60,000 Californians had signed up for insurance. Signups have increased to a rate of almost 2,500 enrollees per day in November. At that pace, the state could be expected to enroll 402,500 people by March 31 but Lee says that he expects to hit a goal of 500,000 to 700,000 people by then, which means he expects the pace to pick up by at least 640 people a day to over 3,000 enrollees.
Red Kentucky is the only state in the union that voted for Mitt Romney and set up its own exchange, thanks in large part to Democratic governor Steve Beshear. The state’s site signed up a total of 32,485 Kentuckians, with 5,586 enrolling in private plans, in its first month of operation. This reduces the state’s uninsured population —estimated at 640,000 — by just over 5 percent.
President Barack Obama will visit John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and honor two of Kennedy’s lasting initiatives as the nation observes the 50th anniversary of his assassination in the coming week. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be accompanied by former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, at a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon. Also that day, Obama will be joined by scores of prominent Americans who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in paying tribute to Kennedy’s legacy.
Obama will present the award Wednesday to the 2013 recipients, including Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, the late astronaut Sally Ride, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, country music singer Loretta Lynn and 10 others. On Wednesday evening, Obama plans a speech on Kennedy’s legacy of service with a dinner at the Smithsonian American History Museum attended by current and past recipients of the medal, including baseball’s Hank Aaron, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Aretha Franklin, economist Alan Greenspan, activist Jesse Jackson and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, is to introduce Obama at the dinner.
Tara Culp-Ressler: Hurricane Katrina, The Obamacare Rollout, And Allowing Privilege To Shape Our Politics
On Friday, the media got swept up in an unhelpful comparison between the rocky Obamacare rollout and the botched clean-up efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina …
But …. there is one obvious point of comparison. It doesn’t have anything to do with the political career of the sitting president, though. It has to do with the privilege that continues to dominate the United States’ political priorities.
It’s about who is worth rescuing.
…. Intent on resisting Obamacare at every turn, Republican legislators in over 20 states have refused to expand Medicaid, leaving many of their low-income residents with no good options…. But the current discussion is centered on a relatively small group of people who do currently have insurance, but whose plans don’t meet the minimum standard for benefit requirements put forth by the health reform law.
…. If we must draw comparisons between Obamacare and previous national disasters, consider this one. As a collective society, we still haven’t really learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina – but not because of a broken website or a broken promise about keeping your plan. We haven’t figured out how to prioritize that Louisiana mother’s life.
Sherilyn Horrocks’ body is under siege. Her immune system is attacking her tissues and organs, causing her esophagus, stomach and liver to harden. “I’ll die of [systemic sclerosis] like my brother did,” she said. “It’s just a matter of time.” Hoping to buy more time, and quality of life, the 61-year-old career homemaker is dropping by Gov. Gary Herbert’s annual health summit on Thursday to try to persuade him to expand Medicaid.
She’s among 123,000 uninsured Utahns who would qualify for Medicaid under an optional expansion of the low-income health program through the Affordable Care Act. There is no cure for her autoimmune disease. “But there are medicines and procedures that would prolong my life if I could afford them,” she said. “I have a feeling I’m going to be one of those who falls through the cracks.”
Utah has yet to opt into an expansion, despite analyses showing it would bring billions in federal funding to the state during the next 10 years, create jobs and reduce the charity-care burden on hospitals. Republican legislators remain adamantly opposed, and Herbert is weighing the pros and cons of partial expansion scenarios to be discussed at Thursday’s summit.
US negotiators say they feel they are close to finalizing a nuclear agreement with Iran for the first time in a decade. “For the first time in nearly a decade we are getting close to [reaching agreement on] the first step towards a comprehensive agreement that would stop Iran’s nuclear program from advancing, and put time on the clock to reach a negotiated agreement that addresses all of our concerns,” a senior U.S. administration official told journalists at a background briefing at the State Department Friday.
“I don’t know if we will get agreement,” in Geneva next week, the U.S. official said. “It’s quite possible we can. But there are tough issues to negotiate.” The reason the last meeting ended in Geneva at 1am last weekend was that Iran, after receiving the consensus P5+1 draft proposal only late in the evening of November 9th, “felt it needed to look at the document and come back to the negotiations.”
In an interview with the BBC this week, Oprah Winfrey said of President Obama: “There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American.” With that remark, Winfrey touched on an issue that many Americans have wrestled with: To what extent does this president’s race animate those loyal to him and those opposed? Is race a primary motivator or a subordinate, more elusive one, tainting motivations but not driving them?
To some degree, the answers lie with the questioners. There are different perceptions of racial realities. What some see as slights, others see as innocent opposition. But there are some objective truths here. Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real.
Jennifer Herrera and her family are always on the move. She and her husband, Fredy, enjoy hiking in the mountains near their Southern California home and cheering on their children in one of their many sports — golf, football, volleyball or basketball. She was glad she had insurance recently when her son badly cut his face during a basketball game. “It was off to the emergency room we go,” she recalls. “Obviously, I had to pay for some of it, but thank God I didn’t have to come up with that $3,000 [for the full cost of the visit].”
Her family has always had health insurance, mainly because of hearing the story of Jennifer’s grandmother and the effect that not having insurance had on the family. It was the late 1940s, and Ethel and Chuck Meyer were proud parents of their first child, Bill (Jennifer’s father). “[Ethel] was hanging the laundry one day and just all of a sudden collapsed,” Jennifer says. “She didn’t know why. She had been kind of tired but chalked it up to having an active child.” Ethel eventually learned she had polio, a debilitating virus that reached epidemic levels in the United States prior to the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s.
Jamelle Bouie: No, The Rollout Of HealthCare.gov Is Nothing Like Hurricane Katrina
Right now, the problem with the website is that it can’t accommodate everyone who wants to buy health insurance. That is a serious issue, but not the worst mistake ever made by a president.By contrast, George W. Bush’s response to Katrina comes close. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest storms ever to hit the United States. It killed more than 1,800 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, caused billions of dollars in property damage, and nearly sank a major American city.
And the Bush administration’s response was criminally negligent, a basic failure of duty that should haunt everyone involved. Despite several days of memos and warnings to administration officials that Katrina would be a major storm, that the levees had been breached, that flooding had began, it took two days for President Bush—who was on vacation, spawning a series of photo-ops that would look awful in retrospect—to begin to organize the federal response.
Joshua DuBois: Anyone Who Counts Obama Out Hasn’t Reckoned On His Survival Skills
It’s been a week of football metaphors in politics. President Obama said this week that the administration “fumbled” the health care rollout. A lot of folks believe that this turnover is decisive, handing the ball to Republicans in Congress and opponents of health reform with the second half well underway. And now we’re starting to see frightened Democrats on the sidelines hovering over Obama like uneasy linemen, wondering if their QB has enough left in him to turn the game around.
Not me. I’ve seen this game–and this particular quarterback–far too many times before. And as sure as I know never to count out Peyton Manning when he’s down by a couple scores heading into the fourth quarter, I never bet against Obama when the press and pundits have declared game-over. It rarely, if ever, is–this guy knows how to win.
This is a president, and a country, who have been counted out more times than we remember, and bounced back in ways we quickly forget. The reality is, if we take the long view, we’ll see that our country has been on an upward trajectory over the last 5 years. The ball may have been fumbled, and momentum may be in the other direction. But if history tells us anything, it’s this: the smart money’s on the gray-haired, steady-handed guy in the White House, who has been down this field a few times before.
Embassy staff members listen to President Obama at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, Nov.17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours the Forbidden City in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is reflected in a window while touring the Forbidden City in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama watches a performance at a state dinner with President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
One of the most beautiful moments:
President Obama meets survivor Mary Lee after laying a wreath at the memorial of the USS Peary in Darwin, Nov 17, 2011. Mary was 9 at the time of the bombing by Japanese aircraft which resulted in the sinking of the Peary on February 19, 1942
People react as President Obama walks by on his way to address the Australian Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard greet members of the Royal Australian Air Force after delivering remarks on the U.S. and Australian Alliance, in Darwin, Australia, Nov.17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The White House is not supposed to be a place for brokenness. Sheer, shattered, brokenness. But that’s what we experienced on the weekend of December 14, 2012. I was sitting at my desk around midday on Friday the 14th when I saw the images flash on CNN: A school. A gunman. Children fleeing, crying. But the private facts we received in the White House from the FBI were even worse. How the gunman treated the children like criminals, lining them up to shoot them down. How so many bullets penetrated them that many were left unrecognizable. How the killer went from one classroom to another and would have gone farther if his rifle would’ve let him.
“The President reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The President later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his Presidency.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
We prepared seven or eight classrooms for the families of the slain children and teachers, two or three families to a classroom, placing water and tissues and snacks in each one. Honestly, we didn’t know how to prepare; it was the best we could think of. The families came in and gathered together, room by room. Many struggled to offer a weak smile when we whispered, “The president will be here soon.” A few were visibly angry—so understandable that it barely needs to be said—and were looking for someone, anyone, to blame. Mostly they sat in silence.
“The President works on his Newtown speech at an auditorium in suburban Washington. Two days earlier, I had photographed him when John Brennan first briefed him on the shootings. Throughout that day, he reacted as we all did, which people witnessed when he delivered his statement a few hours later. Before we headed to Newtown for the Sunday night vigil, he went to watch his daughter Sasha, 11, at her rehearsal for the Nutcracker; he would be unable to attend her performance because of the trip to Newtown. During breaks in the rehearsal, he worked on his speech. His expression in this photograph may be subtle to the viewer, but not to me. There is emotion and resolve etched on his face, and he knew the importance of this speech for the nation.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Person after person received an engulfing hug from our commander in chief. He’d say, “Tell me about your son. . . . Tell me about your daughter,” and then hold pictures of the lost beloved as their parents described favorite foods, television shows, and the sound of their laughter. For the younger siblings of those who had passed away—many of them two, three, or four years old, too young to understand it all—the president would grab them and toss them, laughing, up into the air, and then hand them a box of White House M&M’s, which were always kept close at hand. In each room, I saw his eyes water, but he did not break.
And then the entire scene would repeat—for hours. Over and over and over again, through well over a hundred relatives of the fallen, each one equally broken, wrecked by the loss. After each classroom, we would go back into those fluorescent hallways and walk through the names of the coming families, and then the president would dive back in, like a soldier returning to a tour of duty in a worthy but wearing war. We spent what felt like a lifetime in those classrooms, and every single person received the same tender treatment. The same hugs. The same looks, directly in their eyes. The same sincere offer of support and prayer.
“Two days after the shootings at Newtown, the President traveled to Connecticut to meet with the victims’ families and give remarks at a prayer vigil. The President spent hours greeting family members. Difficult as that was for everyone, the one moment that helped sooth the pain was when he posed for a photo with the siblings and cousins of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children who died that day in Newtown. I see both sadness and hope in this photograph, and I know after a lot of tears that day, it meant so much to the President that everyone was able to smile for a moment in this family photo. Thanks to the Parker family for allowing us to show this photograph publicly.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)