I will not hide it: I’m something of a pop culture maven. Not, perhaps, through active participation. But being at all aware in this culture it does tend to seep into you, if only through osmosis. And as a librarian, I make a concerted effort to keep abreast of things high and low, so that I can converse with and serve my patrons.
I’m certainly not one of those scolds who thinks pop culture has no place in the world. Most of us have grown up enmeshed in it, and have, for the most part, come out no worse for wear. I enjoy my sports, and I enjoy my movie spectacles.
However, we have entered a period of convergence, where the juggernaut which is popular culture collides with and circles around a concerted 50 year effort to make the electorate uninformed, apathetic, and downright hostile to its prime duty, which is to pay attention, educate itself, and govern itself.
There is no pleading ignorance about nooses. When you use a noose against a Black person, everyone knows what you mean. Everyone one knows the threat, violence, and racism it represents. Everyone knows that you are terrorizing Black people
@dougmillsnyt: President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the Oval Office
Yahoo: NATO Chief Warns Afghanistan Must Sign Security Pact By Early September
NATO’s chief warned Tuesday that, despite a disputed election, Afghanistan must sign a security pact on a post-combat international training mission by September, or there will be “severe” problems for the Western alliance. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after meeting President Barack Obama that allegations of poll fraud were a “grave concern”
When President Bush II left the White House in 2009, the 13 U.S. courts of appeal were firmly under Republican appointees’ control. Ten appeals courts had majority GOP judges, two were evenly split and only one had a majority of Democrats. President Obama’s 49 appeals court appointees have dramatically altered the landscape. As of the Senate’s recess on May 23, nine of those courts had majority Democratic appointees and four had Republican majorities.
(There are 10 vacancies in the circuit courts. One Obama nominee is awaiting a Senate vote and three nominees pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.) The change, much feared by Republicans, is not necessarily shocking. But the transformation, in just 5 1/2 years, said University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur D. Hellman, an authority on the federal circuit courts, marks ”a huge shift in a very short period of time.” And it means that Democratic appointed judges “have the ability to control every important case if they wish to” in those nine circuits, he said.
Timothy B. Lee: Obama Has Secured Democratic Majorities On Most Federal Appeals Courts
A president’s Supreme Court nominees get a lot of attention, but presidents shape less visible parts of the judiciary too. Barack Obama is no exception. The Washington Post has a chart showing how the president has changed the composition of the nation’s appeals courts over the last five and a half years: Now, it’s important to say that courts are not supposed to be partisan institutions.
Still, Democratic judicial nominees tend to be more liberal than Republican nominees. And so the growing number of Democrat-appointed judges in our appeals courts will push American jurisprudence to the left on a wide range of issues. And because Obama’s nominees will stay on the bench long after Obama leaves office, these nominations will be one of his most durable legacies.
Will Rogers’ old aphorism—”I belong to no organized political party; I’m a Democrat”—was, at one point, an endearing shorthand for the messiness of Democratic politics. Now, however, it may threaten Democratic chances to gain back the House and hold the Senate this year.
A few examples:
* Today President Obama travels to North Carolina for an event. Democratic senator Kay Hagan is staying in Washington, DC, for the Senate session. Now, while commendable, it is rather interesting that she couldn’t spend a couple of hours welcoming the leader of her party to her state as she gears up for a tough election battle. One has to wonder if she’s putting distance between herself and the President.
* Gov. Brian Schweitzer, putative 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, was asked in an interview to name one positive thing accomplished by Pres. Obama. After much reflection he came up with this:
“My mother, God rest her soul, told me ‘Brian, if you can’t think of something nice to say about something change the subject,’” he said.
But he couldn’t help himself, slamming Obama’s record on civil liberties (the NSA revelations were “un-effing-believable”), his competency (“They just haven’t been very good at running things”), and above all, Obamacare (“It will collapse on its own weight”).
This is the man touted as one of the 2016 frontrunners: someone who wants to expurgate Obama’s two terms as President from the collective memory.
Usually, we do things bigger in Texas. But right now, when it comes to covering the uninsured, some of our neighboring states are trying to beat us to the draw. In Arkansas, for example, they¹ve cut the total number of uninsured in the state by nearly 14 percent in just over a month.
There’s one big reason for that. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover more of its citizens, and Arkansas chose “yes.” If we made that same choice in Texas, it would cover more than one million of our citizens, and save our taxpayers $1.7 billion over the next decade in unpaid hospital bills.
USA Today: Reversing CNN’s Fortunes Proves A Daunting Task
With its heavy emphasis last week on the woes of the new national health insurance exchange website’s rollout, the cable news network registered its lowest weekday primetime ratings in over a year. For the week of Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, the Time Warner-owned network averaged 385,000 viewers – lowest since Aug. 2012 – and 95,000 coveted adults between the ages of 25 and 54.
CNN’s ratings numbers have always popped with national breaking news. But the story about an insurance website – however comprehensive in coverage – likely wasn’t the kind that drives viewers to interrupt their day’s routines to tune in, says Andrew Tyndall, a longtime TV news monitor and publisher of industry newsletter Tyndall Report.
Think Progress: Texans Sharply Disagree With Rick Perry On Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion
While Perry hasn’t exactly been shy about his opposition to that ACA provision, his constituents have a markedly different view, according to a new poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune.
In addition to wide-ranging support for various ACA components such as insurance subsidies for low-income Americans and tax credits to businesses for providing health coverage, the poll finds that two-thirds of Texans support Medicaid expansion. Over 35 percent of the respondents even said that they “strongly support” the policy
Washington Post: Debt Collectors Face New Rules Under Proposal From Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The government is preparing restrictions on debt collectors, a loosely regulated industry under increasing scrutiny over complaints of abusive tactics. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is slated to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to modernize the legal framework governing debt collection.
The government watchdog is seeking public and business comment before formally proposing the rules, which are expected to be finalized by next year. The bureau is asking Americans whether creditors and collection agencies are providing accurate information about their outstanding debts. It also wants to know whether people are receiving threatening calls at all hours of the night or being dragged into court for money they do not owe.
Jamelle Bouie: How High Black Turnout Gave Terry McAuliffe His Win In Virginia
One of the big questions of the next few years of politics is whether Democrats can replicate the “Obama model” of minority turnout without the presence of Obama on the ballot. If the Virginia gubernatorial election was a test case, then the early answer is a clear “yes.” Cuccinelli maintained the GOP’s traditional advantage with white and married women, winning the former by sixteen point spread of 54 percent to 38 percent, and the latter by a solid margin of 51 percent to 42 percent.
Where the change from 2009 was most significant was among black voters. Then, African Americans were 16 percent were of the electorate, a significant drop from the 2008 election. This year, blacks were 20 percent of all voters, which means their turnout was exactly where it was in 2012.
Put another way, for the second year in a row, African Americans turned out at a rate above their percentage of the population, and supported the Democrat by a 9-to–1 margin. This is huge. For McAuliffe, what it meant is that—for almost every black voter who went to the polls—he could count on a vote, giving him crucial support in a tight race. To wit, more than 37 percent of his vote total came from African Americans.
Sy Mukherjee: No, Obamacare Won’t Cause Millions Of Workers To Lose Their Employer Sponsored Health Plans
Forbes contributor and former Mitt Romney health care adviser Avik Roy wrote a piece claiming that the Obama administration knew “93 million Americans will be unable to keep their health plans” under Obamacare and that many of them would actually be workers with employer-sponsored coverage.
Under the “grandfather clause,” a plan issued before the ACA was signed in 2010 could remain in place as long as employers or insurance companies didn’t drastically change its terms in a way that would harm the policy holder, like increasing out-of-pocket costs or dropping benefits. However, if a plan did change, it would lose its “grandfather status.” Then, any new plan issued in its place would be subject to Obamacare’s various requirements.
“So it isn’t like all of a sudden people are going to wake up and find out I don’t have my employer coverage anymore,” said Jost. “It’s just there are going to be some minor changes in those plans that benefit enrollees, and that many employers probably already covered anyway.” These small changes might include things like covering workers’ dependent children, or adding preventative care services, according to Jost.
Yahoo: Starbucks Wants To Recruit 10,000 Vets, Spouses To Its Ranks
Starbucks Corp is looking for thousands of good men – and women. The world’s biggest coffee chain said on Wednesday it would commit to hiring at least 10,000 veterans and spouses of active military in five years.
It also said five new and existing U.S. Starbucks cafes on or near military bases will share a portion of each sale with non-profit organizations that help veterans re-enter the workforce.
Many U.S. companies have committed to hiring thousands of military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seattle-based Starbucks said it will have specialized recruiters to match the unique skills of veterans and their spouses with company jobs.
Alec MacGillis: The Pundits Are Wrong. The Virginia Election Was A Big Win For Obamacare
Last night, the prospects for Robin L. and the estimated 400,000 Virginians who would be eligible under a Medicaid expansion brightened considerably. The gubernatorial election was won by Terry McAuliffe. So, the election was a clear win for Obamacare, right? Nope, say the pundits.
I’m not sure when I last saw such a stark example of election spin and punditry floating away from the substantive reality of governing and its impact on actual people. There is no mention in these accounts of the greatly enhanced prospects for the Medicaid expansion in Virginia as a result of McAuliffe’s win. No, it’s all about the exit polls and what it might mean for Obama and the Democrats.
All we know right now is that after a very rough patch for the law, the guy who ran strongly in support of it beat a guy who was strongly opposed to it, in the most purple state in the country. And as a result, hundreds of thousands of working poor may get health insurance coverage. How removed from the reality of these people’s lives does one have to be to chalk up such a result as a loss for Obamacare?
The US economy grew at an annualised pace of 2.8% in the third quarter of the year, latest figures have shown. The growth rate was faster than expected, and was an improvement on the 2.5% pace seen in the previous quarter. Growth was lifted by rising exports, businesses restocking shelves and a pick-up in home construction.
Keith Boykin: Despite What Conservatives Try To Argue, Black People Do Vote For White Candidates
Although no Democrat has run New York City since Dinkins, New Yorkers on Tuesday chose a progressive white Democrat, Bill de Blasio, who was swept into office with enormous Black support, an accomplished African-American wife and a highly publicized interracial family, all of which served as a rebuke to the racial polarization of the Rudy Giuliani regime and the racist stop-and-frisk policies of the Michael Bloomberg era.
On the same day de Blasio was elected, voters also chose Letitia James to succeed him as the city’s public advocate, making her the first Black woman in New York history to hold citywide office. The real story was about the influence of Black women, who voted 91 percent for McAuliffe while only 38 percent of white women did so, according to a New York Times exit poll.
That’s a lesson Democrats should remember as they suit up for 2014 and 2016. Democrats win when they attract a wide and diverse group of voters, just as President Obama did.
President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago, the day after the presidential election.
On This Day:
President Obama hugs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Cannon House Office Building at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Nov. 7, 2010: “In India, the President was finally persuaded to join the First Lady on the dance floor at Holy Name High School in Mumbai.” (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet young dancers at a Diwali candle lighting and performance at Holy Name High School in Mumbai, India, Nov. 7, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets students following a town hall meeting at St. Xavier College in Mumbai, India, Nov. 7, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia appear on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago
Today (all times Eastern):
2:0: President Obama departs the White House
3:15: VP Biden delivers remarks at the CSX Northwest Ohio in North Baltimore, Ohio
3:45: Michelle Obama attends DNC fundraising event in Pittsburgh
5:10: President Obama arrives in Dallas
5:40: Participates in an Affordable Care Act event, Linz Hall, Temple Emanu-El
6:15: VP Biden attends DSCC event in Cleveland
7:40: President Obama delivers remarks at a DSCC event (private residence)
8:40: President Obama delivers remarks at a DSCC event and answers questions (private residence)
9:45: Departs Dallas
12:30: Arrives the White House
USA Today: Obama congratulates McAuliffe, de Blasio and Walsh
President Obama made congratulatory calls late Tuesday to three East Coast Democrats that emerged as Election Night winners.
According to the White House, Obama telephoned Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor-elect Martin Walsh.
….. Obama “congratulated each of them on their election victories and vowed to work with them in the months ahead to expand economic opportunity for middle-class families in their communities,” the White House said in a statement.
In a contest that attracted the attention of Vice President Joe Biden and spending by the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity, Coralville’s three incumbent candidates are staying for another term. Unofficial results Tuesday showed John Lundell winning the mayoral contest and Tom Gill, Bill Hoeft and Laurie Goodrich winning seats on the council in an election with record-breaking turnout.
Shortly after Lundell’s victory became apparent, the City Council member said, he received a surprise phone call from Biden. “He indicated that he was very proud of our city, that we took on the Koch brothers and successfully beat them by such a huge margin,” Lundell said. “That was another aspect of this election that was unanticipated, that after the polls closed that I’d be speaking to the vice president of the United States.”
Steve Benen: Far-right suffers another setback in Virginia
On paper, Republicans were poised to have a very good year in Virginia’s off-year elections. For over a generation, whichever party controls the White House invariably loses in the commonwealth, in Virginia this year, Democrats nominated a gubernatorial candidate who’d never held elected office, didn’t have deep political roots in the state, and wasn’t especially well liked by voters.
It looked like a recipe for GOP success. It wasn’t. As the dust settles on Election Day, Terry McAuliffe (D) has narrowly won Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Ralph Northam (D) was easily elected Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring (D) very narrowly leads the still-uncalled race for state attorney general.
The Tea Party wing of Virginia’s Republican Party got the extremist candidates they wanted, and it looks like they lost in a clean sweep.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II on Tuesday to become the next governor of Virginia — in a race that Cuccinelli had termed a “referendum on Obamacare.” But an examination of the issues the made up the battleground of the race shows that the Affordable Care Act was just one of several progressive ideas that McAuliffe fully embraced and Cuccinelli fully opposed.
Virginia has historically been a conservative-leaning swing state. It backed every Republican presidential nominee from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush and elected a Republican governor by a 59 to 41 landslide in 2009. While the state has one of the highest percentages of federal employees, polls showed McAuliffe’s lead remained fairly steady before and after the shutdown and Cuccinelli himself dismissed it as largely forgotten factor before Election Day.
ThinkProgress: The Biggest Winner From Last Night’s Election? Obamacare
Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli — the loudest critic of health care reform — went down in defeat on Tuesday night, paving the the way for the “bellwether for national politics” to expand Obamacare to nearly 400,000 Virginians.
A 10-member panel is currently considering whether the state should accept federal dollars to provide insurance to individuals and families below 133 percent of the federal poverty line ($31,321 in income for a family of four) through its Medicaid program. The decision still has to be approved by a majority of delegates and senators on the panel, though McAuliffe could bypass the GOP-controlled group “by deciding whether to include the federal Medicaid money in the state budget.” On the campaign trail, he repeatedly promised to build bipartisan consensus over the measure, going so far as to say that “he would not sign a budget that did not include Medicaid expansion.”
Tonight’s lesson for Republicans: Hug Obama and expand Medicaid.
NPR: In Colorado, A Couple Finds Relief In Obamacare
There’s plenty of criticism of the Affordable Care Act and how it’s being implemented.
But let’s introduce you to someone who is quite pleased with her Obamacare experience: Lela Petersen of Flagler, Colo. She’s a small business owner with a very big health insurance bill.
But thanks to the health law, she expects that bill will be cut by more than half in January.
Petersen is 57, and her husband, Mike, is 60. They have some pre-existing conditions. He has diabetes. She has a back injury. The HMO policy they’ve carried since 1992 has risen over the years to $1,950 per month, just for the two of them.
…. At the beginning of October she checked out Colorado’s insurance exchange and found the exact same policy from the same insurer for only $832 a month. “It’s dropping us down about $1,100 a month. We can retire. We can go fishing. We can actually see a future,” says Petersen.
ThinkProgress: Senator Obliterates GOP Talking Point On Obamacare’s Maternity Coverage In 60 Seconds
During a hearing on Obamacare implementation Tuesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a powerful rebuttal to those criticizing the Affordable Care Act’s inclusion of maternity care coverage as one of ten “essential health benefits” categories that insurance companies must offer consumers under the health law.
Statement by the President on Marriage Equality in Illinois
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
Gov. Chris Christie pushed for an overwhelming re-election victory and met his goal, winning a second term by a whopping 22-point margin, besting his Democratic rival, state Sen. Barbara Buono, in 19 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
The point, of course, was to position the governor for his national campaign – Christie very nearly launched a presidential campaign last night during his victory speech – which will be a major topic of conversation for the political world today and in the near future.
…. I’d recommend at least some caution …. hristie’s ability to crush Buono doesn’t tell us much about how he’d fare against, say, Hillary Clinton. Indeed, New Jersey voters were asked yesterday who’d they support in a hypothetical Christie-Clinton match-up. While the governor was winning his re-election bid by 22 points, the exact same New Jersey voters still preferred Clinton by six points.
…. Given all of this, I’d recommend keep the coronation plans on hold.
My Most Loved Election Photo Ever: Despite all the voter suppression efforts, the people spoke….
William Wright and India Johnson wait in line to vote at Larchmont Elementary School in Norfolk, Va., Nov 6, 2012. Wright and Johnson, both from Richmond, were casting their first votes in a Presidential election.
President Obama is embraced by a volunteer as he visits a campaign office the morning of the 2012 election in Chicago, November 6, 2012
President Obama talks on the phone with Mitt Romney in the Presidential Suite at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park in Chicago (Pete Souza)