Posts Tagged ‘eric



26
May
14

Honoring Heroes

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President Barack Obama places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unkowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day

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President Barack Obama speaks during Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

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Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and President Barack Obama, stand as the National Anthem is played during a Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery

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David Jackson: President Obama Honors Veterans ‘Who Gave Their All’

President Obama on Monday honored all the Americans who have given their lives for their country, from the Civil War of a century-and-a-half ago to the Afghanistan war that is wrapping up this year. In Memorial Day remarks delivered a day after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, Obama said the U.S. troops there “are coming home” from the conflict that began a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end,” Obama said during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. During his speech, Obama praised veterans from all the nation’s wars. “Everything that we hold precious in this country was made possible by Americans who gave their all,” Obama said.

The president delivered his Memorial Day speech just four hours after his return to the White House. During his Sunday trip to Afghanistan, Obama received a briefing from commanders at Bagram Air Force, spoke at a rally for the troops, and visited wounded warriors at the base hospital. Shortly after arriving back at the White House early Monday morning, Obama hosted a Memorial Day breakfast. Guests included senior members of the military leadership, as well as veterans’ and military families’ organizations. Obama then traveled to the Arlington cemetery, where he placed the traditional wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

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President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel bow their head in prayer during a ceremony on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia

Continue reading ‘Honoring Heroes’

21
May
14

The Commander-In-Chief Speaks

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President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The White House moved Wednesday to address the growing furor over allegations of misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, summoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to an Oval Office meeting, hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a bill that would grant the secretary more authority to fire or demote senior executives.

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NPR: Obama: People ‘Will Be Held Accountable’ For Veterans Affairs Problems

Anybody found to have manipulated or falsified Veterans Affairs records “will be held accountable,” President Obama said Wednesday. The president condemned the reported widespread problems at the VA, defending Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Obama spoke after he and Shinseki met in the Oval Office Wednesday morning with White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, who since last week has been detailed to work with the VA. Neither of those men attended the president’s news conference. Speaking about reports of long wait times — and efforts to cover up the delays — Obama said that if they’re proven true, the behavior is “dishonorable” and “disgraceful.” “I will not stand for it,” Obama said. “None of us should.”

The president said that Nabors is heading to Phoenix today to look into reports that a facility there had produced misleading statistics about veteran care. Obama mentioned accountability several times in his prepared remarks; he also noted that some employees had already been put on administrative leave. He said that his administration will continue “bringing the VA into the 21st century – which is not an easy task.” Obama also defended Shinseki, saying, “No one cares more about our veterans.” But Obama added that he told Shinseki today that he expects accountability and improvement in the full report on the VA’s problems.

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15
May
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder attend the 32nd Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on May 15, 2013

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Today (All times Eastern)

9:40 AM: The President and First Lady tour the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City

10:0 AM: The President delivers remarks

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Also at White House Live

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11:20 AM: Depart New York City

12:30 PM: Arrive White House

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A quote from Virgil seen during a press preview of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site May 14, 2014 in New York

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Morgan Whitaker: Obamacare Saved Consumers Billions, New Report Finds

A new analysis finds American consumers saved billions in 2011 and 2012 thanks to a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The report from The Commonwealth Fund released Tuesday finds the medical loss ratio provision, which caps profits for health insurance companies, benefited consumers by about $3 billion over the past two years through a combination of rebates from insurance companies and reduced overhead spending. The law’s provision limits insurance companies to spending a minimum of 80-85% of premiums specifically on treatment and medical costs, rather than overhead and profits.

The rebate receipts sent to consumers hit $1 billion in 2011 and about $500 million in 2012, an indication that insurance providers successfully shifted business models to fit the new spending requirements. In addition to the rebates provided to consumers, insurers reduced profits and spending on general overhead by about $1.4 billion, the report finds. “The medical loss ratio requirement of the Affordable Care Act creates a higher-value insurance product for consumers,” said The Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal said in the report. “It ensures that a substantial portion of their premium dollar pays for medical care, as opposed to administrative costs and profits. It also encourages insurers to improve the care their customers receive, by investing in initiatives that will help achieve better outcomes for patients.”

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ABC News: Obama Aide To Oversee VA Review

President Barack Obama is dispatching one of his closest White House advisers to oversee a review of the beleaguered Veterans Affairs Department as the agency grapples with allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at a Phoenix veterans hospital. White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors will be temporarily assigned to the VA to work on a review focused on policies for patient safety rules and the scheduling of patient appointments, officials said Wednesday. The move signals Obama’s growing concern over problems at the department, particularly recent reports that hospital administrators in Phoenix kept an off-the-books list to conceal long wait times as 40 veterans died waiting to get an appointment. Similar problems have since been reported in other states.

“While we get to the bottom of what happened in Phoenix, it’s clear the VA needs to do more to ensure quality care for our veterans,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m grateful that Rob, one of my most trusted advisers, has agreed to work with Secretary Shinseki to help the team at this important moment.” Despite calls for Shinseki to step down, the White House insists that Obama continues to have confidence in the secretary, a retired four-star Army general. Shinseki said he welcomed Nabors’ help in ensuring veterans have access to timely, quality health care. Though Nabors has kept a low public profile, he is one of Obama’s closest advisers and has played key roles in the president’s fiscal battles with congressional Republicans. Nabors, the son of an Army veteran, was appointed deputy chief of staff following Obama’s re-election and previously served as the president’s chief congressional liaison and deputy budget director.

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Rick Ungar: Who Says Obamacare Is Turning Out To Be Good For The Economy? Goldman Sachs Does, That’s Who!

The news just keeps getting better and better for Obamacare. Marketwatch is reporting that an advisory issued by economic researcher Alec Phillips over at Goldman Sachs reports that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) boosted GDP in the first quarter of 2014 and projects that the same will occur in the second quarter. While Phillips—and other Goldman analysts—had initially been quite skeptical about the impact of the government subsidies provided to the many Americans who will now be able to purchase health insurance, the group has turned a corner and now views the subsidies as a major, beneficial contributor to first quarter numbers and what they project to be second quarter growth of 3.9 percent. Of even greater interest is the explanation provided by the Goldman analyst as to why healthcare spending rose 9.9 percent in the first quarter. Phillips pins the rise not on some undesired side-effect of Obamacare but on the fact that people had money in their pocket to spend on the health of their families as a result of $37 billion boost in personal income—something also projected to continue into the second quarter.

While the U.S. Bureau of Economics had predicted a higher spending figure on healthcare for the first quarter than what turned out to be the case, it is worth noting that the Congressional Budget Office—back when first reviewing the Senate bill to reform healthcare—predicted that we would see such a boost following the first enrollment period of Obamacare. Just because healthcare spending increased substantially in the first quarter does not mean that healthcare prices increased—a detail the GOP hopes you will miss. It simply means that more people were able to get the healthcare they were previously unable to afford; not that those of us who already had access to care had to pay more for that care. Phillips sees the trend continuing, suggesting that the positive effects of Obamacare will boost the economy in 2015 and 2016.

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Katie Lobosco: Washington State Defies Minimum Wage Logic

Raising the minimum wage could lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty, but it’s also a job killer. Right?
Not so fast. In Washington state, small businesses are adding jobs faster than any other state in the country, according to a report from Paychex and IHS. It’s also the state where minimum wage, at $9.32 per hour, is the highest. The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour, and a battle is raging about whether it should be raised to $10.10. Small businesses, often called the engine of the U.S. economy, find themselves at the heart of the debate. Critics of a wage hike say that raising the minimum wage too high and too fast could put them out of business.

But the report from Paychex and IHS, which measured job additions and layoffs at 350,000 small businesses, could dispute that claim. Not only was Washington the strongest state, San Francisco — with a minimum wage of $10.74, the country’s highest — had the greatest job gains in the past year among cities measured. Washington state has been progressive on the issue for years. The state’s minimum wage rate has been tied to inflation since 1998, and the mayor of Seattle is currently pushing to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15.

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Russ Britt: Obamacare Is Good For The Economy, Goldman Sachs Researcher Says

Obamacare is good for the economy? That’s what one venerable Wall Street brokerage is saying. Alec Phillips, economic researcher at Goldman Sachs, said in a note issued late last week to clients that subsidies from the Affordable Care Act boosted gross domestic product during the first quarter and are likely to do the same during the second quarter. Phillips says that he now has a more optimistic view of the second quarter’s GDP growth, with a gain of 3.9% now estimated, and 4.5% annualized growth in real personal consumption.

“While we were initially skeptical of the large estimated effect of the new subsidies on personal income, these now look more reasonable to us in light of revisions, greater enrollment than expected several months ago, and the fact that states are likely contributing to the subsidies on top of the well-known estimates of federal costs,” Phillips said. But the health-care industry won’t be the only one to benefit, Phillips says, as subsidies will free up income for those who had no coverage before, as well as those who had insurance but were paying for it themselves. “Overall, around 40% of the subsidies should find their way to non-health consumption this year,” he wrote.

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America’s Foremost Dumb Dumb

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William Douglas: McCain: Send U.S. Troops To Rescue Kidnapped Girls In Nigeria

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants to see more than hashtag messages voicing displeasure over the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. He wants to see U.S. troops go into Nigera and rescue the girls, even if it means doing so without permission from the Nigerian government. ‘If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without the permission of the host country,’ McCain said Tuesday. Referring to Nigeria’s president, McCain added: ‘I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan.’

Thus far, the Obama administration has sent a team to Nigeria that includes FBI officials with hostage negotiation skills, five State Department officials, including a team leader, two strategic communications experts, a civiliam security expert and a regional medical support officer. There are also 10 Defense Department planners and advisers who were already in Nigeria and have been instructed to provide support to the kidnapping response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

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TPM: Federal Judge Denies Governor’s Motion To Put Idaho Gay Marriages On Hold

A federal magistrate judge has refused to put gay marriages on hold in Idaho pending an appeal from the state’s governor. U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote Wednesday morning that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s appeal isn’t likely to succeed, and so there’s no reason to keep same-sex couples from seeking marriage licenses or marrying on Friday. On Tuesday, Dale struck down Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban in response to a lawsuit from four Idaho couples.

Dale said Idaho’s law unconstitutionally denies gay and lesbian couples their fundamental right to marry and wrongly stigmatizes their families. She said the state must start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday morning. Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

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Greg Sargent: Time To Revisit Conventional Wisdom About Politics Of Obamacare

The initial conventional wisdom about the Arkansas Senate race — that incumbent Mark Pryor is the nation’s preeminent Dead Dem Walking — is rapidly getting revised in the wake of new polls showing him ahead of GOP Rep. Tom Cotton. So perhaps, in the context of the Arkansas race, it’s also worth revisiting the conventional wisdom that Obamacare is nothing but a hideous liability for Democrats, and can only shower Republicans with political gold from now until election day. One of Senator Pryor’s senior campaign strategists tells me Pryor will not shy away from making the case that the state’s “private option” —

its version of the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare — represents Pryor’s brand of good governance, and that Cotton’s repeal stance is extreme and bad for the state. This is particularly relevant right now, as a fascinating new report from David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times demonstrates. Ramsey reports that the bipartisan private option — which uses Medicaid funds to expand private coverage to 150,000 Arkansans — has become a major issue in several state legislative Republican primaries.

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Louise Radnofsky: A Washington State Health Insurer Plans To Cut Rates In 2015

An insurer in Washington state selling plans under the Affordable Care Act is proposing to lower customers’ health premiums next year in what appears to be one of the first such decreases proposed for 2015. The proposal by Molina Healthcare Inc. MOH +0.60% was part of a batch of state rate filings released Monday that included Washington and Indiana. While most carriers are seeking increases, Molina’s filing signals that insurers that priced cautiously for 2014 could face pressure to be more competitive in the second full year of the law’s insurance marketplaces. Molina proposed a decrease averaging 6.8% for Washington customers for 2015. It told state regulators in its rate filing that it was betting that people signing up through the insurance exchange were in better health than the carrier previously thought,

and that it anticipated new entrants when the law’s penalties for not carrying coverage grow next year. Molina, a company that historically has focused on managed Medicaid plans, offered some of the most expensive premiums among insurers selling on the Washington exchange in this year. It said it had only about 1,200 members in 2014. Ben Lynam, vice president for Molina’s actuarial pricing, said in an interview that the company had made conservative assumptions for 2014 about the medical claims likely to be incurred by its enrollees, in part because it hadn’t had much previous commercial experience. “With hindsight and looking at what’s going on across the country…we’ve improved those assumptions and lowered our rates in 2015,” he said.

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Reuters: Jobless Claims Hit Seven-Year Low, Inflation Ticks Up

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low last week while consumer prices recorded their largest increase in 10 months in April, pointing to a firming economy. The economy’s outlook was further brightened by other data on Thursday showing factory activity in New York state expanding at its quickest pace in nearly four years in May. “It conveys the message of solid economic activity. Labor conditions continue to improve and I expect this will be validated by payroll reports over the next few months,” said Anthony Karydakis, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000, the Labor Department said, offering fresh evidence the jobs market was strengthening. That was the lowest reading since May 2007 and brought claims back to their pre-recession level. Economists had forecast first-time applications ticking up to 320,000 last week. In a second report, the department said its Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent last month as food prices rose for a fourth consecutive month and the cost of gasoline surged. The rise in the CPI was the biggest rise since June last year and added to March’s 0.2 percent rise. The combination of a strengthening jobs market and an uptick in inflation pressures should give the Federal Reserve ammunition to continue scaling back its monetary stimulus. However, the U.S. central bank is not expected to start raising overnight interest rates, currently near zero, before the second half of 2015.

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On This Day

President Obama takes a stroll through the White House Rose Garden, May 15, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama walks in the White House Rose Garden, May 15, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, in the Oval Office, May 15, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins gives President Obama a Phillies jersey and autographed baseball while Obama welcomes the 2008 Major League Baseball World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies at the White House, May 15, 2009

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First Lady Michelle Obama addresses Spelman graduates at their May 15, 2011 commencement.

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President Obama greets people in the audience at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony honoring law enforcement who were killed in the line of duty, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 15, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama presents a birthday cake to Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, during a dinner for Combatant Commanders and senior military leadership in the Blue Room of the White House, May 15, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and Attorney General Holder attend the 32nd Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on May 15, 2013

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President Obama poses with a souvenir jersey as he is flanked by players David Beckham and Landon Donovan, members of the LA Galaxy, Major League Soccer’s Championship team, at the White House, May 15, 2012

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06
May
14

Rise and Shine

President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac with Vice President Joe Biden prior to departure from Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:45: President Obama is interviewed by local and national meteorologists participating in “Weather from the White House”

4:15: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry

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The Week Ahead

Wednesday: Travels to Los Angeles to participate in a joint DSCC/DCCC event. In the evening, the President will be honored at a dinner hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation. He will remain overnight in Los Angeles.

Thursday: Participates in a DNC roundtable in Los Angeles before traveling to San Diego to participate in a DCCC event. The President will then travel to San Jose where he will participate in two DNC events and remain overnight.

Friday: Participates in an event on energy in the San Jose area. Following the event the President will return to Washington, DC.

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Kathleen O’Brien: Final Tally Is 162K For New Jersey Obamacare Enrollment

The number of New Jersey residents who enrolled in Affordable Care Act insurance plans more than doubled in the final month before the deadline, bringing the total who signed up from the Garden State to roughly 162,000. More than 80 percent received a federal subsidy to help pay for their policies, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today.

Another 98,000 New Jersey residents selected coverage through the newly expanded state Medicaid program. One New Jersey health policy expert called the last-minute surge “nothing less than astounding.” It meant the state exceeded the goal set by public-health experts, said Jon Whiten, deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a think tank that supports health care reform.

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Juliet Eilperin: For President Obama, A Renewed Focus On Climate

The satellite images viewed by President Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year. “It was a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment,” recalled White House counselor John D. Podesta, one of two aides who briefed the president that February day. Obama mentioned the images several times as he warned the governors that political leaders had no choice but to cope with global warming’s impact. He is regularly briefed on scientific reports on the issue, including a national climate assessment that he will help showcase Tuesday. He is using his executive authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and is moving ahead with stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the heaviest trucks. And while he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters. “This is really real for him, in terms of what he’s leaving,” said Cecilia Muñoz, who directs the White House Domestic Policy Council and has helped coordinate federal investment in climate-resilient infrastructure projects. “This is personal for him.”

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As president, Obama enacted the first carbon limits for cars and light-duty trucks and helped push through a House bill that would have imposed a national limit on greenhouse gas emissions. Obama has remained wary of some of the risks stemming from hydraulic fracturing, including the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When the subject of natural gas came up during a Nov. 30, 2012, meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Obama turned to Holdren and his deputy assistant for energy and climate change, Heather Zichal. “Do we have an accurate accounting of methane emissions, and do we have a problem there?” Zichal recalled the president asking. The White House announced a new methane strategy — which will include additional federal regulations — in March. After his reelection, Obama told chief speechwriter Jon Favreau to make climate change “one of the big sections” in his second inaugural address, Favreau recalled. The move surprised even some of his closest aides.

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Tara Culp-Ressler: New Study Confirms That Health Reform Can Save Lives

The mortality rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after the state enacted health care reform in 2006, according to a new study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Since Massachusetts’ health law relies on many of the same policies as the Affordable Care Act, the findings suggest that Obamacare could help save thousands of lives once it’s fully implemented. That suggests that for every 830 people who gained insurance, one death was prevented.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that that health reform had a particularly significant impact in the areas of Massachusetts with previously high rates of poverty and uninsurance; the mortality rate decline was steepest there. Although life expectancy for Americans as a whole has been on the rise, widening income inequality and deepening health disparities have ensured that poor people’s lives are actually getting shorter. This study suggests that Obamacare has the potential to help reverse that trend — but that’s only possible in the states that agree to fully implement the law.

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Brian Beutler: The D.C. Press Corps Is Suffering From Benghazi Stockholm Syndrome

Last week, after Republicans pivoted to Benghazi in unison, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein observed an interesting phenomenon. When it came time to put White House press secretary Jay Carney in the hot seat, reporters for smaller outlets—whose correspondents are consigned to the back rows of the briefing room—were interested in real, unfolding dramas: Ukraine, the Affordable Care Act, the Snowden disclosures, and so on. But when Carney moved to the big-name journalists at the front of the room, the only thing anyone seemed to care about was Benghazi And that raises an interesting question, because in covering the story as a political scandal, just as Republicans want them to, the only scalps the media has really collected are their own.

 CBS suspended Lara Logan after “60 Minutes” aired, and later had to retract, her Benghazi feature; Sharyl Attkisson resigned from the same network, charging her former colleagues with liberal bias—reportedly because they didn’t adequately promote her Benghazi coverage; and ABC’s Jonathan Karl had to apologize last year after he passed along an inaccurate summation of then-unreleased White House Benghazi emails. The administration had granted members of Congress access to the emails in classified briefings, and the source who provided Karl the summary (presumably a Republican) had either taken poor notes, or intentionally misconstrued their contents, to make it appear as if the White House had thumbed the scales in the inter-agency dispute over how to address the attacks publicly.

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Terence McCoy: The Man Behind The Nigerian Girls’ Kidnappings And His Death-Defying Mystique

No one knows how old he is. Some say 35. Some say 36. Others think he’s 44. Twice he was believed dead, and twice he reemerged to conduct an even broader campaign of killing and terror that made him one of the most wanted men in the world.
His name is Abubakar Shekau. He is the leader of Boko Haram. And he has your girls. “I abducted the girls at a Western education school,” Shekau proclaimed on Monday in a video, clutching a rifle among several masked men.

“And you are disturbed. I said Western education should end. … I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell; he commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
Shekau, who has a $7 million bounty on his head, grinned a mouth of white teeth.

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Sabrina Tavernise: Mortality Drop Seen To Follow ’06 Health Law

The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say. The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people —

fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged. A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.

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Peter Schroeder: Holder: No Bank Is ‘Too Big To Jail’

Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday he is personally overseeing investigations into major banks, and is working with regulators as those probes enter a “key” stage. The Obama administration’s top attorney emphasized that no institution or individual is powerful or influential enough to escape capture, and that the notion of “too big to jail” is a myth. “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail,’” he said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “To be clear, no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law.” Holder said in his new message that his team is working closely with financial regulators to mitigate those potential risks, clearing the way for criminal charges if the case can be made.

Holder said Monday that there are times when an institution’s behavior was wrong, but not necessarily illegal. Furthermore, sometimes it can appear that a bank broke the law, but is not backed by evidence permissible in court. Nonetheless, Holder underlined that when banks do break the law, his department will not hesitate to bring forward the case. On that front, he said the Justice Department has made “great strides” in coordinating with financial regulators to address potential economic risks from criminal charges, including the revocation of a bank’s charter to do business in the United States. The Justice Department is reportedly examining BNP Paribas for evading U.S. sanctions, and Credit Suisse for helping Americans evade taxes.

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Noam N. Levey: Health Insurance Reduces Deaths, New Massachusetts Study Shows

Giving more people health insurance could save tens of thousands of lives nationwide in the coming years, a new analysis of data from Massachusetts, whose trailblazing reforms became the model for President Obama’s health law, suggests. Throughout the national debate over the Affordable Care Act, critics of the law have questioned whether expanding coverage actually results in better health. The new analysis by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Urban Institute adds to the growing evidence that health coverage does make people healthier.

Mortality rates in Massachusetts measurably improved compared with similar places around the country after the state began guaranteeing its residents health coverage in 2006, the researchers found. A similar trend is emerging nationally, as surveys indicate millions have gained coverage since state marketplaces created by the federal law opened in October. A nationwide Gallup poll released Monday showed the percentage of working-age adults without coverage dropped from 18% last fall to 13.4% in April.

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Steven Dennis: Obama Backs Shinseki Amid Calls To Resign

The White House is backing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after he faced calls to resign Monday over allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other problems in his department. “As the President said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. “That’s why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate, and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review,” he said.

“We must ensure that our nation’s veterans get the benefits and services that they deserve and have earned. The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the Department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.” Earlier Monday, the American Legion called on Shinseki to resign, although the Veterans of Foreign Wars declined to do so. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Veterans’ Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, called on Shinseki to resign “due to chronic mismanagement and systemic failures of the VA under his leadership, ranging from dramatic cost overruns in major construction projects to glaring patient safety problems,” according to a press release.

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Isaac Chotiner: Ron Fournier Attacks Paul Krugman, Embarrasses Self

I know it’s cruel to pick on people who are ill, but in Ron Fournier’s case an exception must be made. Fournier is currently ailing from a condition known as bipartisanship (medical name: vacuousness), which manifests itself when another person expresses a thought that can be deemed partisan. For example, on Monday Paul Krugman wrote a column castigating Republicans for releasing a biased report on whether people were paying their Obamacare premiums. (TPM: “Nearly 40 percent of Obamacare enrollees signed up after March 15—which means their first premium wasn’t due until after the committee finished collecting its data.”) Krugman scolded the GOP and expressed outrage that the Party was so dishonest.

The effect of this was to trigger one of Fournier’s symptoms: writing silly responses to people like Krugman. Fournier begins by agreeing with Krugman’s contention that the GOP is dishonest. Fournier provides no evidence that the White House could get accurate figures, and in any case it’s failure to do so is not an example of “skewing the truth.” Moreover, there will presumably be accurate figures after the end of May, which is when people who enrolled will have to pay up

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Danny Vinik: Republicans Still Don’t Have A Jobs Plan, But Americans Think They Do

A Pew Research-USA Today survey released on Monday finds that Americans’ number one priority remains jobs. And yet, while Democrats have fought for increased government spending to boost the recovery, Americans are planning to reward Republicans in November—even though they have still not offered a credible jobs plan. And while the recovery certainly could be much stronger, its weakness is the result of Republican obstruction, not the Democratic agenda.

In the debate over whether to apply fiscal or monetary stimulus, the GOP chooses neither. Facing a massive hole in aggregate demand, Republicans have offered the same supply-side agenda as always: tax cuts, spending cuts, and deregulation. These are not macroeconomic policies for filling a short-term hole in demand and spurring a recovery. Only after the economy returns to sustainable, full employment—something we haven’t achieved in nearly 20 years—should we look at supply-side policies to boost growth.

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Jonathan Cohn: More Good News For Obamacare: It May Be Saving Lives After All

It also suggests the health care law, implemented effectively, could save thousands of lives a year. The subject of the new paper is the Massachusetts health care reform scheme, signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney, that took effect in 2007. It is an obvious subject for research, because it looks just like Obamacare and it succeeded in reducing the number of uninsured, just as Obamacare seems to be doing. The change made a big difference. Subsequent studies showed that, as more people got insurance, fewer people struggled with medical bills and more people got regular medical care. But while hospitalizations for preventable conditions came down and people reported that they felt better, those findings didn’t fully address the question of how insurance was affecting health. Enter three well-credentialed, well-respected health care economists—Benjamin Sommers (who’s also a physician) and Katherine Baicker, from the Harvard School of Public Health; and Sharon Long, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

The trio obtained figures on mortality and, better still, they were able to isolate causes of mortality “amenable to health care.” In other words, they were able to get data on cancers, various cardiac problems, and other conditions that, with better medical care, people should be more likely to survive. Then they compared how the people in Massachusetts fared relative to groups of people from around New England, who were similar in almost every meaningful way—age, income, and so on—except that they lived in states where similar expansions of health insurance were not underway. The results were clear. In those other places, outside of Massachusetts, the death rate from “amenable” causes went down by only a little bit and the overall death rate actually increased a tad. But in Massachusetts, deaths overall and deaths from “amenable” causes both went down—significantly. The authors calculated that, for every 830 people who got insurance in Massachusetts, about one person avoided a premature death.

That’s a big payoff and it suggests Obamacare might have one, too. If millions of additional Americans end up with health insurance because of the law, as now seems likely, it would mean that at least a few thousand are going to live longer. And the number could get pretty high. A story in the New York Times suggested 17,000 would be a good guess. Harold Pollack has done some back-of-the-envelope math for healthinsurance.org and concluded the number could be as high as 24,000.

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On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave to the crowd after Obama delivered election night remarks after winning the North Carolina Primary at a rally at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh on May 6, 2008

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President Obama with Afghan President Karzai and Pakistan President Zardari walk along the Colonnade following a US-Afghan-PakistanTrilateral meeting in Cabinet Room May 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets in the Rose Garden of the White House with, from left, Susan Davies, deputy counsel to the President, Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for legislative affairs, Ron Klain, chief of staff to the Vice President, and Bob Bauer, counsel to the President, regarding the pending Supreme Court nomination, May 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Dr. Jill Biden walks down the Cross Hall en route to a Mother’s Day Tea in the East Room of the White House, May 6, 2011. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden hosted the tea for military spouses, relatives, and friends (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama and Vice President Biden shake hands with the troops following the President’s remarks at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama disembarks Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, following his trip to Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama plays golf with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) at left at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 6, 2013

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17
Apr
14

President Obama Honors Wounded Warriors

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President Barack Obama, flanked by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, and Vice President Joe Biden, welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of the seventh annual Soldier Ride.

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USA Today: Obama To Wounded Warriors: “You Inspire Us”

President Obama paid tribute Thursday to once-maimed veterans who are now racing bikes. “You inspire us,” Obama said. “You inspire the country.” The president spoke at the seventh annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House. The event is designed to help the injured recover and to raise awareness of the challenges they face.

Some of the bikers were so badly injured they had to re-learn “the basics,” Obama said — “how to stand again, how to walk again, how to run again.” “You inspire me with your courage, your resolve, your resilience, your tenacity, your optimism,” Obama said. “It makes me proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.”

More here

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The Coolest President EVER!

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President Barack Obama makes a face as Nancy Loubin takes a picture of him at the seventh annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride.

08
Feb
14

Change Has Come To America

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TPM: Justice Department To Launch Push For Full Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages. The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.

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On Monday, the Justice Department will issue a policy memo to its employees instructing them to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law. After the Supreme Court decision last June, the Treasury Department and the IRS said that all legally married gay couples may file joint federal tax returns, even if they reside in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. The Defense Department said it would grant military spousal benefits to same-sex couples. The Health and Human Services Department said the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer a bar to states recognizing same-sex marriages under state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said it is now able to extend benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees and annuitants.

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29
Dec
13

2013: Eric Wolfson’s Most Memorable Moments

by Eric Wolfson

(Chips: Eric is one of my very, very, very, very favorite people on the Twitter machine, so I DM’ed him and said ‘Oi, you! Would you like to put together a post for TOD on your most memorable moments from 2013?’

If he’d any sense he’d have replied: ‘Go away, it’s holiday time, I’m chillin’, shoo’, but he didn’t, he said he’d love to. See? That’s why he’s Exceptional Excellent Eric.

Also posted on Eric’s Tumblr page

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1. Obama unknowingly poses for his greatest portrait while giving his speech for the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March On Washington.

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2. Obama visits the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, just months before his hero’s passing.

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3. Obama’s quote of the year, even if nobody realized it at the time.

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4. Obama becomes the first president in American History to not hold his own umbrella…

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5. …and put his feet up on the desk.

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6. Obama shuts down the GOP shutdowners.

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7. Obama’s Second Inaugural Address in three words or less: Selma, Seneca, Stonewall.

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8. Obama awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the victims of the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing.

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9. Obama explains what constitutes a jobs plan.

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10. Obama becomes the worst socialist EVER.

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24
Aug
13

A Historic Day In Images

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses marchers during his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

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Rev. Al Sharpton links arms with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), as they are joined by other civil rights activists and politicians to march during the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial

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Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks at a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

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Sabrina Fulton, mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, speaks at the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial

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Hamil Harris: William Allison, 92, came to today’s march with same sign he marched with in ’63

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Continue reading ‘A Historic Day In Images’

24
Aug
13

The March on Washington: The Speeches

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Continue reading ‘The March on Washington: The Speeches’

15
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago today: “The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Hill: Obama Group’s New Ad Touts Healthcare Law Insurance Rebates

The political advocacy group spun off from President Obama’s reelection campaign on Thursday unveiled a new ad touting the benefits of ObamaCare, their third national ad as the administration readies to rollout their healthcare reforms.

The new ad from Organizing for Action (OFA), titled “Every Day” features a North Carolina family discussing the insurance rebate they received under the healthcare law. The parents Rebecca and Russell worried about how to pay for their son’s medical care in the face of rising premiums.

“When the Affordable Care Act was passed we ended up getting a $350 rebate from our insurance company and then his premiums were going to go down by $60 a month,” says Rebecca in the ad.

“ObamaCare is helping everyday families every day,” reads onscreen text.

“It’s nice to see somebody looking out for the little guy,” says the father Russell.

“The law works,” Rebecca adds.

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The Grio: Eric Holder’s Sentencing Reforms Represent A Sea Change

This week, Attorney General  Holder announced that Federal Prosecutors would have more discretion (i.e. more leeway) in maneuvering around some of this nation’s more draconian sentencing practices impacting substance abusers and others whose lives and families have been decimated by the so-called War on Drugs. Nearly half of the federal inmate population is serving time for drug offenses.  The significance of this policy shift initiated by AG Holder and the DOJ should not be underestimated.

Holder’s announcement this week signals both his leadership and commitment to these issues as well as his capacity to hear and respond to calls for equal justice from the litany of voices aimed at ending the war on drugs and reforming our broken criminal justice system. The Department of Justice memo sent to all U.S. federal prosecutors this week requires them to not include information regarding drug quantities – thereby allowing them to sidestep mandatory minimums – for drug defendants that meet a reasonable set of criteria, including having no affiliations with drug cartels or other criminal organizations, no prior criminal record, and no violent crimes connected to their offenses.

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Jonathan Cohn: The Big Savings Obamacare Critics Miss

Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.

I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”

Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot….

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USA Today: Obama Team Alters College Loan Program

The Obama administration has made changes to a college loan program designed to help more families qualify for college aid.

African-American college presidents and lawmakers had sought changes to the PLUS loan program…..

“The Education Department says families that have recent but small-scale debt may now become eligible for PLUS loans through appeals …. Black lawmakers have been pressuring the administration, saying large numbers of previously eligible applicants have been denied aid under tighter credit rules.

“Parents and graduate students who use PLUS loans have no borrowing limit, but they face some of the highest interest rates in the federal student loan system.”

Full post here

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Carrie Healey: Obama’s Half-Sister Speaks On Human Trafficking, Peace Gardens

President Obama’s half-sister, peace advocate and educator, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng spoke today at the Center for American Progress on human trafficking.

Dr. Soetoro-Ng proposed the U.S. plant peace gardens, create “reflective spaces,” and practice yogo in an effort to bring peace to victims of trafficking.

“My brother’s administration is committed to addressing this issue,” she said in regards to Obama’s handling of the issue. ”But today I would like us to consider some grassroots, pro-active, preventative, and educational solutions.”

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USA Today: Obama bus stops: Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton

President Obama’s two-day bus tour next week will start with three cities in Upstate New York: Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton.

The major topic will be college education.

Obama will “discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has access to a quality education by reducing costs and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The tour will be Aug. 22 and 23.

The bus tour – the latest in a series of middle-class speeches Obama has been delivering – will also include yet-to-be-determined stops in northeastern Pennsylvania.

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Charles Pierce: A Fine Bromance

Remember when a whole bunch of suckers from our side of the aisle got all gooey about Rand Paul, because Aqua Buddha and Aqua Buddha alone stood between us and a Hellfire missile fired up our keisters from a drone because we said mean things about the president? Well, in the days since, Aqua Buddha’s shown that he has more than a small sweet-tooth for the days when Freedom meant states could keep black people from eating in restaurants and, of course, voting:

“So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”  

….The suckers should be embarrassed to have lined up with this clown.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: Three Republicans Who Opposed Sandy Relief Now Demand Disaster Aid For Arizona

Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding after SuperStorm Sandy ravaged much of the New Jersey and New York area earlier this year. Now, following an Arizona wildfire, the same trio is vocally complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not doing enough to aid their state.

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As Steve Benen said, “always check your spelling when writing about education”:

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On This Day:

Aug. 15, 2010 – Pete Souza: “Back in the Gulf Coast for a weekend, the President and First Lady toured St. Andrews Bay on a boat in Panama City Beach, Fla. I noticed their hands touching as they held the rail on the boat.”

Aug. 15, 2010: President Obama and daughter Sasha steer the “Bay Point Lady” during a tour of St. Andrews Bay off Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Barack Obama greets children from the Valleyland Kids summer program outside a school in Chatfield, Minn., during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama holds a baby as he arrives for lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama greets people outside the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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12
Aug
13

News of the Day

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice briefs President Barack Obama during his Presidential Daily Briefing in Chilmark, Mass., August 12 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Tom Kludt: Obama To Continue Economic Tour In New York, Pennsylvania

President Barack Obama is expected to embark on a two-day bus tour next week to both New York and Pennsylvania where he’ll “discuss another cornerstone of his vision for a better bargain for the middle class,” a White House official told a pool reporter.

Obama will travel through the two states on Aug. 22-23. Politico’s Maggie Haberman, citing sources familiar with Obama’s plans, said the President will deliver the remarks in upstate New York.

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Adam Peck: Missouri State Fair Apologizes After Mocks, Threatens Rodeo Clown In An Obama Mask

Officials from the Missouri State Fair are busy putting out fires after the organizers of the fair’s bull riding exhibit brought a clown in an Obama mask into the ring and goaded the bull into chasing him around the enclosure.

Videos of the racially-charged incident began circulating across local news organizations shortly after it took place on Saturday evening, and public consternation was quickly followed by condemnations from Republican Party officials and lawmakers across the state. Officials from the state fair issued a public statement via its Facebook page on Sunday evening, calling the performance “inappropriate and disrespectful.”

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TPM: Biden To Attend Harkin’s Annual Iowa Steak Fry

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to deliver the keynote address at Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) annual steak fry this year in Iowa, The Des Moines Register reported. A Biden spokesperson told the Register that Biden has intended to attend the event, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Democratic Party in the Hawkeye State, ever since he was unable to make it last year.

San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote address at last year’s Democratic National Convention, is also expected to attend the steak fry, scheduled to be held Sept.15, in Indianola, Iowa.

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Becca Aaronson: New Abortion Limits, But More Money For Women’s Health

When Anastasia Tolmasoff went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in March to receive her quarterly injection of Depo-Provera, she discovered she could no longer afford to receive birth control there. “I’m living paycheck to paycheck, so getting pregnant and having another child is not an option for me,” said Tolmasoff, 33, who rehabilitates wildlife at a nonprofit organization. She and her husband cannot afford health insurance. Tolmasoff is one of thousands of women affected by the Texas Legislature’s 2011 decisions to drastically cut family planning financing and remove “abortion affiliated providers” — namely, Planned Parenthood — from state health programs.

In its 2013 session, the Legislature sought to mitigate the impact of those cuts with the largest financial package for women’s health services in state history, increasing spending to $214 million in the 2014-15 budget from $109 million. Still, women’s health advocates have raised concerns that the financing does not go far enough. Moreover, some advocates argue that strict abortion regulations approved during a special session will create additional burdens on women already struggling to access contraception……

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President Obama chats with former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk while golfing at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 12

12
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Four years ago today: President Obama hugs Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient actor Sidney Poitier during the award ceremony in the East Room of the White House,  August 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Grio: Holder to call for major reform of mandatory minimum sentencing

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a speech today that the Department of Justice will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences, a major shift in American drug policy and an indication that President Obama wants to reduce the number of Americans who serve long prison sentences over drug crimes and rethink American laws that have existed for decades.

“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder is expected to say Monday at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Bar Association, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to theGrio….

In effect, Holder is calling for prosecutors to charge defendants for lesser crimes than they may have actually committed, thereby allowing juries and judges more latitude in imposing sentences, instead of following mandatory minimums created by Congress that many in both parties say are now outdated.

More here

See SmartyPants

1:0 EST: AG Eric Holder Address the American Bar Association

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Michael Tomasky: Obama Is Giving Up Some Executive Power, and He’ll Still Get No Credit

Predictably, everyone is unimpressed by the measures Barack Obama has announced to bring a little ray of transparency to America’s surveillance programs …. I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. Of course he’ll get no credit for that, because civil libertarians tend to be absolutists and other liberals tend to be afraid or even terrified of their wrath…

…. Obama was headed down this course before the Snowden leaks. Those began on June 5. But on May 23, he gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he foreshadowed the moves he just announced. Combine all this with John Kerry’s recent announcement that we have a plan for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, and you might have thought liberals would be cheering.

I suppose some liberals are. I am. But not civil libertarians. With them, it’s all or nothing. If you’re not signed on to the whole program, you might as well be Joe McCarthy….

…. Obama has public opinion to think about. And of course he has keeping the country safe to worry about, and no one at the ACLU is sitting in on those intel briefings and learning the things the president is learning every day about threats to the nation, and no one at the ACLU will be responsible if our wall of security is breached. Obama is responsible, and I think mere willingness of the man in that position to have this conversation, let alone take some concrete steps, does him enormous credit.

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Truly, these people are deranged:

Next tweet will probably be: ‘Ask not what the Nobel Prize can do for Bradley Manning, ask what Bradley Manning can do for the Nobel Prize’

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Andrew Liepman (LA Times): What did Edward Snowden get wrong? Everything

Edward Snowden is now out of his limbo at Moscow’s airport, presumably ensconced in some Russian dacha, wondering what the next phase of his young life will bring. Having spent 30 years in the intelligence business, I fervently hope the food is lousy, the winter is cold, and the Internet access is awful. But I worry less about what happens to this one man and more about the damage Snowden has done — and could still do — to America’s long-term ability to strike the right balance between privacy and security.

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LittleGreenFootballs: Sen. Al Franken: “I Assure You This Isn’t About Spying on the American People”

“I have a high level of confidence that it is used to protect us”

Noted far right nutjob (do I need a snark tag on that?) Sen. Al Franken says he was not surprised by the Greenwald/Snowden NSA revelations…..

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Steve Benen: Steve King just can’t help himself

Democrats and other proponents of immigration reform caught another lucky break over the weekend: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on “Meet the Press” yesterday, and just kept talking. If the progressive goal is to see reform opponents discredit themselves on the national stage, the right-wing Iowan has become the left’s most reliable ally.

Indeed, who do you think was happier to see King on the air, the DNC or the RNC?

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The Root: Politics Gets Its Own Cheerios Ad – The black son of a white candidate tackles stop and frisk in a campaign ad.

Earlier this year, Cheerios generated extensive media attention — and countless racist comments online — for becoming the first major American brand to feature a mixed-race family in a television advertisement. Now, an ad for a political campaign is poised to be just as groundbreaking, and potentially controversial.

This weekend television advertisements began airing starring the teenage son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is white, his wife, Chirlane McCray, is black, and their son, Dante, sports a sizable Afro in the ad, in which he makes the case for why he believes his father is the best candidate for mayor.

While he touches upon a number of issues, including affordable housing, the ad’s most powerful moment comes when he talks about his father’s position on stop and frisk….

More here

The ad:

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That pic again, but a bigger, shinier, lovelier version:

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On this day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Pete Souza)

President Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor meet in the Oval Office prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama greet guests at a reception for Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients and their families, Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Neighbors sing Happy Birthday to President Obama during a walk in the Hyde Park/Kenwood section of Chicago, Ill., Aug. 12, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOOooorning!

06
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago today: President Obama greets the family of Make-A-Wish child Francisco “Paqui” Lopez Pena, outside the Oval Office, Aug. 6, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

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10:10 AM The President departs the White House

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11:40: Arrives Phoenix, Arizona

12:10: Tours Erickson Construction

1:05: Delivers remarks at Desert Vista High School, Phoenix (4:05 EDT, White House Live)

2:10: Departs Phoenix

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3:25: Arrives Los Angeles

4:30: Tapes an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”

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Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy

Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.

Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.

“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….

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Marketwatch: Home-price growth near seven-year high

Annual home-price growth in June was close to the fastest pace in seven years, as inventories of existing and new homes remained low, according to data released Tuesday.

Home prices, including distressed sales, rose 1.9% in June, and were up 11.88% from a year earlier … In May, prices were up 11.93% from the prior year, the fastest annual growth since February 2006.

Excluding short sales and other distressed properties, prices rose 1.8% in June, and were up 10.97% from the year-earlier period, reaching the fastest annual pace since February 2006.

More here

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USA Today: President Obama heads west Tuesday, to talk housing in Phoenix and the economy on a late-night talk show in Hollywood.

Obama starts in Phoenix, where he tours a home construction company and delivers a speech on housing policy.

…. After Phoenix, Obama travels to the Los Angeles area for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he hopes to talk about the economy in between jokes.

The president will spend the night in Los Angeles.

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Steve Benen: PolitiFact finds its pants on fire

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact…..

More here

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VotingRightsMatter.com

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From The Last Word:

From Mississippi to the Ivy League: Two students reflect on their unique journeys – video here

Sister Simone schools ‘Catholic school boy’ Paul Ryan – video here

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Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.

USA Today: Obama praises Negro League veterans

While Major League Baseball grapples with performance enhancing drugs, President Obama and some special guests spent Monday evening talking about the old days in the Negro League.

Obama thanked Negro League veterans for helping pave the way for African-Americans in professional sports, as well as other walks of life.

….. The Negro League delegation also included a woman owner, Minnie Forbes of the old Detroit Stars.

Forbes pointed out that in the old days African-American ballplayers — and African-Americans in general — couldn’t stay in certain hotels or restaurants.

“Now,” she said, “we are able to come to the White House and see the president,” himself an African-American.

Forbes also reported that the the president gave her a kiss on the cheek — “and I’m not washing my face!”

More here

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Greg Sargent: Keep An Eye On Georgia Senate Race

A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.

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National Journal: Republicans Confront Lady Problems in Congress

When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.

The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.

More here

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On this day….

President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

29
Jul
13

News Of The Day

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President Barack Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Elon James White: Tim Allen’s N-Word ‘Explanation’ Is So Wrong It’s Funny

Welcome to Whitesplaining Palooza: a magical time where white folks will explain issues dealing with people of color so that finally everyone can understand! The latest magical Whitesplainer: Tim Allen.

You may remember Tim Allen as the lovable dad on the ’90s TV show Home Improvement. You may remember him as a co-star with Martin Lawrence in the 2007 movie Wild Hogs. Or you may not remember him at all, but Tim Allen wants to explain to you about how to deal with the word “ni**er” Tim Allen explaining how to deal with the word ni**er is hilarious. Not because he’s a comedian, but because he has no understanding of how racism works.

Racism doesn’t come with a barcode scanner that checks each person for their actual feelings when they use problematic language. Another thing that perhaps Allen didn’t know: you can participate in racism without taking on the mantle of “racist.” Racism doesn’t come in only one flavor. Poorly executed but well-meaning acts can still add to the problem.

More here

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Roll Call: ObamaCare Defunding Fight Could Threaten Boehner Leverage, Message

The effort by conservatives in the House and Senate to threaten a government shutdown over Obamacare could force Speaker John A. Boehner into the arms of House Democrats.

With 60 Republicans already pushing Boehner to defund Obamacare in any spending bill, the speaker may not be able to cobble together a House majority on a bill that President Barack Obama would sign without Democratic votes. And he’s not likely to get those votes for free.

But senior aides from both sides of the aisle say the threat would surely backfire on Republicans if they carry it out. For one thing, most of Obama’s new health care program is mandatory spending that is not affected by appropriations bills, so it would continue to receive funding in any event. “Even if you shut down the government, Obamacare will continue to be funded, and all you will have accomplished in that scenario is a government shutdown,” a senior Republican appropriations aide said.

More here

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WSJ: Regulator Outlines J.P. Morgan Electricity – Market Violations

Federal energy regulators laid out their first formal accusations that traders at J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.64% & Co. manipulated electricity markets, providing new details of their case against the bank ahead of an expected settlement.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that between September 2010 and June 2011, J.P. Morgan engaged in “eight manipulative bidding strategies” that were designed to improperly obtain excessive payments from electricity-system operators in California and the Midwest.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the commission and J.P. Morgan are expected to settle the case for roughly $410 million in a deal that would also include the bank relinquishing roughly $200 million in unpaid claims from electricity buyers in California. That settlement could come as early as Tuesday.

More here

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The Grio: Obama, Holder Meet With Activists On Voting Rights Act

President Barack Obama is promising not to let one election go by without protecting minority voting rights. The president met privately Monday with more than a dozen civil rights leaders to talk about strengthening the Voting Rights Act. Last month the Supreme Court struck down the most powerful provision of the 48-year-old law.

The participants told reporters afterward that they are pleased with the administration’s response so far. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was also at the White House meeting, announced support last week for a lawsuit asking for advance court approval for voting changes in Texas.

Participants said the president and Holder promised more action to protect the right to vote. The attendees stressed than any legislative response to the Supreme Court ruling must have broad bipartisan support.

More here

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USA TODAY: Health Care Costs Rise At Slowest Rate In 50 Years

Personal health care costs rose last year at the slowest rate in the last 50 years, the White House announced Monday, citing statistics aimed at bolstering the case for the 2010 health care law.

The 1.1% increase in personal consumption spending over the 12 months ending in May was due to decreases in hospital and nursing home services, according to a statement from Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Hospital readmissions rates dropped from an average of 19% to 17.9% for Medicare patients since the passage of the 2010 health care law, Krueger said.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Governor Accepted Gifts From Individuals Who Later Landed Lucrative State Contracts

Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) campaigned for his office pledging to prohibit gifts to government officials from those seeking state contracts. But his own financial disclosures show he accepted thousands of dollars worth of gifts from friends who could benefit from his position.

Last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) apologized for bringingembarrassment to Virginia as a result of tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and loans he and his family took from a tobacco executive. Like McDonnell and others, Corbett received gifts from several benefactors in recent years

More here

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OPB: Health Reform Will Bring Insurance To Oregon’s Homeless

When the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January, most of Oregon’s homeless people will have health insurance. That means they’ll have access to drug and alcohol treatment, regular doctor visits and counseling.

Traci Manning, the director of the Portland Housing Bureau, says that will change things dramatically. “Having health insurance will prevent some people from becoming homeless in the first place,” Manning says. “Because if you don’t have insurance and you have a serious health care crisis, and perhaps are already struggling to make ends meet, you suddenly have a lot of bills, maybe you start missing a lot of rent. You run through your savings and for some people right now, that may be the cause of their homelessness.”

Manning says that fact that homeless people will have insurance could also free up money for other things. “There is the opportunity for services that are currently provided directly by the public to be paid for directly through Medicaid.

More here

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BQYK0TUCUAA5c8U

@VJ44: Today POTUS met with civil rights leaders & elected officials to ensure every eligible American has the right to vote

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26
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama greets the audience after speaking at the Jacksonville Port, July 25

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Today – all times Eastern

9:30 AM: President Obama departs Joint Base Andrews en route to Camp David where he will will host Cabinet members and their families

7:0: Returns to the White House

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Patheos

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Paul Krugman: Republican Health Care Panic

Leading Republicans appear to be nerving themselves up for another round of attempted fiscal blackmail. With the end of the fiscal year looming, they aren’t offering the kinds of compromises that might produce a deal and avoid a government shutdown …. they’re threatening, once again, to block any rise in the debt ceiling, a move that would damage the U.S. economy and possibly provoke a world financial crisis.

Yet even as Republican politicians seem ready to go on the offensive, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.

And the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what’s driving the Republican Party’s intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass……

More here

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Greg Sargent: Even Republicans are openly worried about GOP’s sabotage governing

The notion that GOP sabotage governing tactics could ultimately prove counter-productive and self defeating for the Republican Party is now being increasingly voiced by Republicans themselves.

….. with Republicans hurtling towards another set of crises over the debt limit and funding the government they are openly nervous about the GOP’s continued embrace of its intransigent scorched earth governing posture…

…. More public disunity from Republicans about their tactics – even as Dems remain relatively united behind their insistence that they won’t negotiate over the debt limit and will continue to demand new revenues as part of any budget deal – will only encourage the White House to hold a harder line.

More here

And see Steve Benen: Senate GOPer calls shutdown threat ‘the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard’

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Washington Post: White House hardens stance on budget cuts ahead of showdown with Republicans

Senior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown if Republicans continue to demand deeper spending cuts, lawmakers and Democrats familiar with the administration’s thinking said Thursday.

The posture represents a more confrontational approach than that of this spring, when President Obama decided not to escalate a fight over across-the-board reductions known as sequestration in an earlier budget battle with Republicans.

The change in tone has been evident in repeated and little-noticed veto threats over the past few weeks by Obama, who has rarely issued the warnings with such frequency. He has made it clear that he will not sign into law Republican spending bills that slash domestic programs even more deeply than sequestration.

More here

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Steve Benen: Either job creation is the top priority or it isn’t

…. In addition to the voluminous list of documented problems, just over the last few days we’ve gotten a better sense of the ways in which [sequestration cuts are] hurting the military, public schools, parks, and the justice system. The poor and minorities are disproportionately suffering.

Did the political world care about these stories? Not really…. So what made yesterday different? This did:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that keeping the spending cuts from sequestration in place through fiscal 2014 would cost up to 1.6 million jobs …. Canceling the cuts, on the other hand, would yield between 300,000 to 1.6 million new jobs, with the most likely outcome being the addition of 900,000, the CBO said.

More here

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CNN: Organizing for Action, the political advocacy group aligned with President Barack Obama, has turned the hour-long speech the president delivered in Illinois on Wednesday into a 60-second television spot that will air on national cable.

Clips of the president are spliced together with photographs of construction workers, manufacturers, students, and families, all designed to promote the economic message the White House says will be their focus on the coming months.

More here

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Kurt Eichenwald: Zimmerman, Abortion, and Obamacare: 25 Contemplations on Current Events

…. It makes no sense to argue that you support Stand Your Ground and then condemn Trayvon Martin for confronting a guy who was following him. You can’t pick and choose who gets to stand their ground based on a perception of threat. Which is why that law is so obscene.

….. All anti-abortion protesters should be presented, on the spot, with an application to sign up as foster parents. They should also be given the names of children in their area in need of adoptive parents. And if they won’t sign or volunteer, they should shut up.

…. If Obamacare is so awful, why do conservatives have to lie so much about what it really does? (See death panels, government takeover of health care, preventing folks from choosing their own doctors, and pretty much anything any Republican has said about the program over the last few years.)

…. The fact that some folks learned something in school does not make them elitist. It makes them educated.

Full post here – must-read!

Twitter: @kurteichenwald

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Steve Benen: What ‘conservatives gone wild’ looks like in North Carolina

….. [In North Carolina} …. the most sweeping voter-suppression efforts seen anywhere in the United States in generations ….. the proposal is remarkable in its scope, including a needlessly discriminatory voter-ID provision, new limits on early voting, blocks on voter-registration drive, restrictions on extended voting times to ease long lines, an end to same-day registration, new efforts to discourage youth voting, and expanded opportunities for “vigilante poll-watchers to challenge eligible voters.”

How many North Carolina Republican lawmakers supported these suppression tactics for no apparent reason? Each and every one of them…..

More here

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President Obama winks as he speaks at an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House, July 25

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Ratchet-Ass Lawyer (The Week in Blackness): Drone Policy Is the Most Important Racism

Salon’s arc of fail last week began with David Sirota’s meditation that “we are all targets now,” which spawned a minor revolution on social media and inspired TWiB Prime to break its hiatus for the “This Motherfucker Right Here Hour.” Now, Cornel West, among many others, has repeated the parallel, alleging that Obama is a “global George Zimmerman” because the Administration has sanctioned the use of drones for targeted killing in Yemen and elsewhere.

The strange essence of the critique is that Obama is a hypocrite for publicly, personally identifying with one murdered Black boy while the Administration’s foreign policy justifies the murders of innocent brown people abroad. This inappropriate parallel between Obama and Zimmerman erases the suffering of Black people and other marginalized groups in America, allows white men to co-opt the conversation while claiming that they are anti-racist, ignores crucial differences between vigilante justice and foreign policy, and requires Obama to be superhuman to maintain authority.

There are several incidents of privilege-blindness among the mostly white male drone-obsessed elite….

More here

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You can donate to Wendy Davis’ campaign here

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Dallas News: In Washington, Wendy Davis represents a progressive Texas

It was her stance on abortions that carried Texas Sen. Wendy Davis into the national spotlight, but it wasn’t the reason behind Thursday’s trip to Washington.

A more progressive Texas, not abortion, was the focus of Davis’s trip, which included two fundraisers and multiple meetings with members of Congress and local groups,

“People all across Texas are starting to stand and see that basic Texas values are being abused and abandoned by state leaders,” she told a group of 400, who paid between $25 and $250 to crowd into a bar on Thursday evening to hear Davis speak.

“Those weren’t just Democrats assembled to complain about Republicans,” she said referring to the hundreds who flooded the Texas capitol building last month during her filibuster. “They were Texans.”

More here

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NYT: The Gun Lobby Takes Vengeful Aim

One welcome surprise in gun safety occurred this year in Colorado, where the Democratic-led Legislature dared to defy the gun lobby and mandated universal background checks on firearm sales and 15-round limits on ammunition magazines.

The ink was barely dry, however, before the National Rifle Association was vindictively pressing for recall votes against two supporters of the stronger law….

The recall vote, set for Sept. 10, could hardly be more important as a barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.

Full editorial here

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USA Today: Obama’s Fed pick: Yellen or Summers?

An intense, behind-the-scenes battle is going on for one of the world’s most powerful jobs: Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Backers of two major candidates – current Fed member Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers – are busy lobbying the only voter who counts in this type of campaign: President Obama.

Yellen is the Fed’s vice chair and has helped develop the policies of current chairman Ben Bernanke – a point made by both supporters and critics. Bernanke is expected to retire when his term expires in January.

Senate Democrats are circulating a petition in support of Yellen, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed her in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

More here

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OFA

OFA fellows are fired up and ready for you to join them

Organizing for Action is looking for passionate new leaders who are interested in tackling our country’s big issues for our OFA Fall Fellowship program. This three-month volunteer program is explicitly designed to train the next generation of OFA leaders – if that sounds like you, you can apply today.

Fall Fellows will be working on important issues affecting our country—from protecting Obamacare, to combating climate change, to passing comprehensive immigration reform, Fellows do work that matters every single day.

More here

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On this day…..

President Obama laughs with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius following the official Cabinet group photo in the Grand Foyer of the White House, July 26, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Education Secretary Arne Duncan; and Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Jack Lew in the Oval Office, July 26, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

PS

Pete Souza: Just ran into Bo on the colonnade




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