Posts Tagged ‘gates

09
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama holds up four-month-old Alia Jawando as her father, William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of Public Engagement, and her mother Michele look on in the Oval Office, March 9, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

The First Family return to Washington DC from Florida

The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President will host a reception for the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Champions.

Tuesday: Travels to New York to attend DNC and DSCC events.

Wednesday – Friday: Attends meetings at the White House.

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Obamacare Is Already Helping Boost Americans’ Personal Incomes

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the health reform law is having a positive effect on personal incomes and spending. According to the BEA, Obamacare accounted for about three quarters of the overall rise in Americans’ incomes in January. Personal incomes rose by 0.3 percent during the first month of the year — and the BEA explains that’s partly because of the impact of the health law’s consumer benefits. Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion increased public health insurance benefits by about $19.2 billion.

And the new refundable tax credits under health reform, like the subsidies available to help American purchase new plans in Obamacare’s marketplaces, totaled about $14.7 billion. “Personal income in January was boosted by several provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which affected government social benefit payments to persons,” the BEA concluded. The financial impacts of health reform are most evident among the sectors of the population that are struggling to stay out of poverty. A recent study by the Brookings Institute found that Obamacare has the potential to boost the incomes of the poorest Americans by anywhere from five to seven percent.

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Reuters: Kerry Urges Russia To Exercise Utmost Restraint In Ukraine’s Crimea

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Saturday that any steps to annex Ukraine’s Crimea region would close the door to diplomacy, a U.S. State Department official said. Kerry’s latest telephone call with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, came as the standoff between occupying Russian forces and besieged Ukrainian troops intensified in Crimea. “He made clear that continued military escalation and provocation in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine, along with steps to annex Crimea to Russia would close any available space for diplomacy, and he urged utmost restraint,” the official said. President Barack Obama sought to reassure nervous Baltic leaders on Saturday about U.S. support for their security and consulted other European allies about the Ukraine crisis.

He convened a conference call with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian President Andris Berzins, and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. It was the first time he has spoken with the leaders of the three Baltic states about the crisis. The countries are NATO members with strong economic ties to Russia, and have expressed nervousness about President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. “The president reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for the security and democracy of our Baltic allies,” the White House said in a statement. The United States has moved to reassure its NATO allies, sending six more F-15 fighter jets this week to NATO’s policing mission over the Baltic states. The jets are on call to respond to any violations of Baltic airspace.

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Baye Adofo-Wilson: [IN MEMORIAM] Who Was Chokwe Lumumba?

The Honorable Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba, an unapologetic revolutionary “New Afrikan” (Black) nationalist, fighting for the human rights and dignity of Black folks in a place that has the reputation of being antithetical to that notion, is dead at age 66. Born, Edwin Findley Taliaferro on August 4, 1947, in Detroit, Michigan. His initial exposure to the issues of human rights and dignity came from his mother, Priscilla.  A native of Alabama, Priscilla showed her children the infamous Jet Magazine cover of a deceased 14-year-old’s bashed in face. It was young Emmett Till, murdered for sassing a White woman. She followed this up with a conversation about racism—Lumumba, an impressible eight years old. He saw his mother organize in their community and raise funds for various causes.  Her strength, discipline and determination gave Lumumba a foundation for organizing and a sense of Black community pride and commitment.

Lumumba’s political watershed moment came as a reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King, someone he followed closely throughout high school and college. Already a student leader, Lumumba and other students took over a building demanding more scholarships for Black students and an increase in Black faculty. Lumumba returned to law school and graduated top of his class.  He stayed in Detroit for over a decade, practicing criminal defense and human rights law. His law practice grew, representing political activists such as Bilal Sunni Ali, Mutulu Shakur (Tupac Shakur’s stepfather) and former Black Panther Assata Shakur. In 2009, he was elected Jackson City Councilman and was sitting in the Mayor’s chair by June 2013. As Mayor, Chokwe was just getting started.  Within four months he passed a one percent sales tax increase that is estimated to raise $700 million dollars over the next ten years for infrastructure improvements.  He had plans to make Jackson the greenest city in the South, by retrofitting and using renewable energy on all of the municipal buildings.

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TPM: Obama To Expand California National Monument

President Barack Obama will expand the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a White House official said Saturday. Expected Tuesday, the action will permanently protect some 1,665 acres of federal lands on the Mendocino County coast in Northern California, just north of Point Arena. It will expand a national monument created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to include coastal bluffs and shelves, tide pools, onshore sand dunes, coastal prairies, riverbanks and the mouth and estuary of the Garcia River.

Obama’s designation would follow recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency to block development of Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold deposit in Alaska’s treasured Bristol Bay region. Obama pledged in this year’s State of the Union address to use his presidential authority to preserve more federal lands for future generations. The action he is taking next week will bypass Congress, which has been slow to act on proposed legislation to preserve public lands.

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Reuters: Ukraine PM Says He Will Go To U.S. To Discuss Crimea Crisis

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Sunday he would go to the United States this week to discuss the standoff with Russia over Ukraine’s southern region of Crimea. “I am going to the United states to hold top-level meetings on resolving the situation unfolding in our bilateral and multilateral relations,” Yatseniuk said at the start of a government meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

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Henry Austin: Dalai Lama Voices Support For Gay Marriage

The Dalai Lama has come out in support of gay marriage, saying it was “OK” and a personal affair for people of the same sex to commit to each other. “If two people… really feel that way … and both sides fully agree, then okay,” the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said on Ora.tv’s Larry King Now show. The Nobel laureate was interviewed after he offered the customary prayer that opens each Senate session in Washington D.C.

Ultimately, the Dalai Lama, who like all Tibetan Monks is celibate himself, said gay marriage was up to each government and was ultimately “individual business.” “People who have belief or who have special traditions, then you should follow according to your own tradition. Like Buddhism, there are different kinds of sexual misconduct, so you should follow properly.” “I think (it’s) OK,” he added. “I think that’s an individual’s business.”

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Igor Volsky: Bush’s Defense Secretary Destroys GOP Talking Points Against Obama’s Handling Of Crimea

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates pushed back on Sunday against conservatives who’ve blamed President Obama’s “weak” foreign policy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Crimea. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Gates dismissed arguments that Obama’s handling of the conflict in Syria or his efforts to trim the defense budget emboldened Putin, arguing that the Russian president also invaded Georgia during the George W. Bush administration.

“My own view is, after all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or unwilling to use military force,” Gates, who served as Defense Secretary for Presidents George W. Bush and Obama said. “So I think Putin is very opportunistic in these arenas. I think that even if — even if we had launched attacks in Syria, even if we weren’t cutting our defense budget — I think Putin saw an opportunity here in Crimea, and he has seized it.” Earlier this week, Gates told the Washington Post that the GOP lawmakers should “tone down” their criticism and “try to be supportive of the president rather than natter at the president.”

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Sharon Bernstein: California Democrats To Adopt Platform As Election Season Begins

California Democrats meeting in Los Angeles on Sunday were set to adopt a platform likely to call for an inflation-adjusted minimum wage, dramatic cuts in military spending, and tighter campaign finance and disclosure laws. Confident going into the 2014 election season with wide majorities in both legislative houses and control of all statewide elected offices, Democratic leaders at the party’s annual convention aimed to push their statewide success eastward in an effort to retake a majority in Congress.

Some 3,000 delegates and guests thronging the downtown Westin Bonaventure hotel were also scheduled to hear from legislative leaders, including top Democrats in the state senate and assembly. The convention had on Saturday showcased Democratic stars in the most populous U.S. state, including California Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s Attorney General Kamala Harris as well as former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom party leaders are hoping may be able to return to her old job. The draft version of the platform sounds a number of key Democratic themes, including support for anti-poverty programs and increased funding for education.

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Tom Curry: Obama Aide Sees Russian Threat On Arms Inspection As ‘Serious’

Tony Blinken, President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, said Sunday that a Russian threat to cease inspections of nuclear weapons as required by U.S.-Russian arms control treaties would be “a serious development.” Blinken said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he’d seen news reports of those Russian threats — made in response to U.S. sanctions and other penalties for Russia’s seizure of the Crimea region of Ukraine — but that the Russian government had not communicated directly to the Obama administration on that matter. Asked what Obama had accomplished so far in his efforts to deter or penalize Putin for Russia’s seizure of Crimea,

Blinken said the president has been “mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine to isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine and to reassure our allies and partners.” Blinken said Obama has invited Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk to the White House on Wednesday to consult with him and to demonstrate American support for the Ukrainian government. Blinked argued that the decline in value of the Russian ruble and the increased uncertainty about foreign investment in Russia are “exacting a real cost and a real consequence” for Putin’s decision to intervene in Crimea.

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Ian Millhiser: Retired Supreme Court Justice Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Prevent Partisan Gerrymandering

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has a new book out, in which he proposes six potential amendments to the Constitution — including one to prevent lawmakers from drawing legislative maps intended to entrench their own party in power: Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historical boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.

So long as justices with similar views to Scalia control the Court, however, Congress could probably also use this power to gerrymander congressional maps even more than they are currently. Under Scalia’s view, there is little preventing a Congress controlled by one party from redrawing every state’s map (or, at least, every state with more than one representative’s map) in order to maximize the likelihood that the incumbent party would be elected. This problem cannot be warded off by an act of Congress. And, as discussed above, it won’t be solved by a constitutional amendment either. The only sure way to prevent such widespread gerrymanders is to replace justices like Scalia with justices who understand that partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional and that egregious gerrymanders must be struck down by the courts.

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Alasdair Baverstock: After A Month Of Violence, Protesters In Venezuela Try Peace

From behind their riot shield barricade, Venezuela’s National Guard cooly surveyed a scene of frustration. Dressed in white t-shirts representing their pacifism, protesters waved their national flags, pledged their commitment to peaceful protest and banged cooking pots in time to songs of government downfall. Saturday’s “empty pots march” had commenced.  Beneath the scorching Caracas sun, one man held up a banner to those who blocked their passage west to the centre of the Venezuelan capital: “If we all have the same problems, then why are we so divided?” The man’s message was not aimed at the authorities, rather the pro-government chavistaswho suffer under the same rampant inflation, chronic shortages of basic goods and massive murder rates that form daily struggles on both sides of Venezuela’s political divide.

After plotting a route to the Ministry of Food in the city center, Saturday’s “empty pots march” stopped short as protestors entered the pro-government Libertador municipality. In an “adapt or perish” bid to spur momentum into a fourth week of protests, Saturday’s demonstration was the first of its kind to emerge from the opposition districts. “We’re testing the water,” said one masked protester, who held his country’s flag upside-down over the lower tier of a freeway that ferries two million vehicles daily along the Caracas valley. “We want to reach out to those who don’t hear our message so that they can see we aren’t the fascists the government says we are.”

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Alyssa Mastromonaco

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AP: Long-Time Obama Aide To Leave White House

A top White House official who has been with President Barack Obama since he first became a senator nine years ago is resigning. Alyssa Mastromonaco is Obama’s deputy chief of staff for operations and often described as the most influential person inside the White House who isn’t well known outside of it. She is responsible for planning presidential events, hiring staff and overseeing the White House complex.

A White House official said Mastromonaco is leaving in May to look for a job in the private sector. The official said Obama insisted as a condition of her departure that she continue to act as an outside adviser. Mastromonaco joined Obama’s Senate office in February 2005 as scheduling director, and oversaw scheduling and advance for his 2008 presidential campaign and during Obama’s first term at the White House. She was promoted to deputy chief of staff in 2011.

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Your laugh of the day

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On This Day:

President Obama signs an Executive Order on stem cell research at the White House March 9, 2009. By signing the order, Obama reverses a Bush administration policy restricting U.S funding for embryonic stem cell research.

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First Lady Michelle Obama presents her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History March 9, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama greets Mrs. Ada Papandreou, the First Lady of Greece, in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House, March 9, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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President Obama talks on the phone with President-elect Vladimir Putin of Russia while aboard Air Force One en route to Richmond, Va., March 9, 2012. Alice Wells, Senior Director for Russian Affairs, listens in on the call. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Minute Maid Park, March 9, in Houston

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the “Bunny Pokey” song and dance with kids in the Kinderbees Activty Room at Penacook Community Center in Penacook, N.H., March 9, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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09
Jan
14

Obama Derangement Syndrome Fails Again

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09
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama jokes with members of the Dallas Mavericks in the Green Room of the White House before honoring the team and their 2011 NBA Championship victory, Jan. 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

11:00AM: The President and Vice President meet with Members of Congress, The Roosevelt Room

12:45PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:20PM: The President delivers remarks announcing Promise Zones, The East Room.

The first five  Zones are located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The President first announced the Promise Zone Initiative during last year’s State of the Union Address, as a way to partner with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.

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Geoffrey Cowley: A New Report Bodes Well For Obamacare

The next goal is to push private enrollment from 2 million to 7 million by March 31, and to control costs by balancing older (costlier) subscribers with younger ones. The new survey suggests that both goals are feasible. Among the marketplace visitors questioned in December, 51% (versus 37% in the earlier survey) found it easy to compare the subscription fees (premiums) for different plans, and 43% (up from 30%) had no trouble comparing the benefits. And when the researchers questioned potential enrollees who hadn’t visited a health care exchange, or hadn’t applied for coverage, nearly 60% said they still planned to find a plan before the 2014 enrollment period ends in late March. “If that large a percentage of eligible consumers enroll in either Medicaid or the marketplace plans,” says Sara Collins, the Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for health care coverage and access, “that would make for a very successful first year of enrollment.”

Especially when you consider the age patterns the survey reveals. Now that insurers can’t penalize or exclude people who may actually require medical care, they depend heavily on young, healthy subscribers to help dilute the cost. Rates would skyrocket if the exchanges attracted only high-risk subscribers, but the new survey should help allay that fear. It found that 19- to 34-year-olds, who make up roughly 40% of potential enrollees, accounted for roughly 40% of marketplace visitors through December—and they were just as determined as older consumers to find coverage. Some 58% of the young adults who hadn’t yet enrolled said they would return before March 31. The figures were 61% among 35- to 49-year-olds and 55% among 50- to 64-year-olds.

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TIME: Gates Was Offended Obama Thought He’d Write A Memoir

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir that President Barack Obama was concerned his national security advisers might later write memoirs — much to Gates’ offense. Gates recounts an April 2010 meeting to discuss Iran policy in the Oval Office. Gates encouraged Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to consider the ramifications of a surprise Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, he writes. Gates details that he wanted Obama to beef up the U.S. military’s posture in the region that year, including moving in a second aircraft carrier, and additional radar and missile defense capabilities.

Gates writes that Obama ended the meeting on a noncommittal note. I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting.  To his very closest advisers, he said, “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe you be my witness.”  I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters. Maybe Obama’s fears weren’t too far off the mark.

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@sfiegerman

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Molly Redden: Christie Administration’s Bridge Lane Closure Slowed Search For Missing 4-Year-Old, Says Official

Private messages released on Wednesday strongly suggest that a top adviser to Republican Gov. Chris Christie orchestrated a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, as political retaliation against the city’s Democratic mayor. Calling the messages “astonishing” and “unconscionable,” members of the Fort Lee borough council described the mid-September traffic disaster, caused when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unexpectedly closed two of the town’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, as having dire consequences.

“There was a missing child that day. The police had trouble conducting that search because they were tied up directing traffic,” says Jan Goldberg, a Fort Lee councilman who works with local emergency personnel. Police found the missing child, a four-year-old. “But with the streets in the condition they were, I would venture to say that the search took longer,” Goldberg says. Ila Kasofsky, a Fort Lee councilwoman, tells Mother Jones that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could not get through the gridlock. In the aftermath of the lane closures, Kasofsky says she spoke with a Fort Lee resident who couldn’t get over the bridge to support her husband through major surgery. Another Fort Lee woman was unable to pick up her son after his dialysis session.

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Linh Tat: EMS Responses Delayed By GWB Lane Closures In Fort Lee

Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department. The woman later died, borough records show.

In at least two of those instances, response time doubled, noted EMS coordinator Paul Favia, who documented those cases in a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Mark Sokolich, which The Record obtained. On Sept. 9, the first day of the traffic paralysis, EMS crews took seven to nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a vehicle accident where four people were injured, when the response time should have been less than four minutes, he wrote.

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Washington Post: Chris Christie’s Problem Is That He’s Really, Truly A Bully

Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He’s a bully. He’s followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him. Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

It’s not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they’re weak. The reason Chris Christie is so good at this is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. What makes Christie unusual is that he’s a bully with power. That can be a dangerous combination. There have been previous hints that Christie’s proclivity to publicly humiliate his opponents is matched by a tendency to privately punish them, too. a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.

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Sharon Stone on The Talk on how ObamaCare is helping her charity, ‘A Better LA’ and improving lives. Video here. Go to minute 28:12:

“I became involved with it, one, because it’s working, which I really like; these platforms that are making sense and are working. Logically, you know, ‘A Better LA’ is about helping to end gang violence and gang violence…[crowd applauds]…thank you…thank you; because we’re really gonna need your support because you know, we’re just, we’re really grassroots organization that we hope will become ‘A Better Chicago,’ ‘A Better Detroit,’ ‘A Better Philadelphia,’ because gang violence, you know gangs are really how drugs get in the street. Gangs, if you worry about your kids getting on drugs, you really need to stop the gang violence, because gangs are the way that drugs are distributed; and so, what we’re doing is, we’re getting people that are in gangs, who want to be out of gangs to come out. We train them in an eighteen week program, together with the police, and with people so that they learn mediation techniques. Then they go back in and they get in and work inside gangs, and they tell us what they need and we help them. We don’t tell them what to do, they tell us what they need. And we’re really having a great deal of success, where we went from, like, seventeen hundred deaths a year to four hundred deaths, three hundred deaths a year. We’re really seeing it coming down. [crowd applauds]. Yes it’s huge and we’ve been able to get neutral areas because you know, the parks are sort of like gang offices and so now these parks are becoming more neutral areas where the gang people’s kids can play and be safe; and because it’s still families, I mean, these are really low economic areas and so people who have real leadership skills become the heads of gangs. I mean, if we were in these low economic areas, we’d be the gang leaders because we have leadership skills. So you have to figure out how other people like you and me, who just don’t have good opportunities. So you have to show them, here’s how you can have a good opportunity and have a different kind of life. [crowd applauds].

So, we recently started a new program which I’m so excited about, using Obamacare and we are the first organization in America, who’s a 501(3c) where we took Obamacare and we insured our gang mediators as a group and UCLA helped us to form them as a group; and so all of our mediators got healthcare. [crowd applauds]. So when they go back in, they’re like, I have healthcare, when my wife has a baby, she can go to the hospital. Someone in my family needs drug rehab, dental care, my kid can have braces, and they’re also a group. Bonded organization where they may have come from all these different gangs or different neighborhoods, or different organizations; they’re now a bonded group, together. I’m very excited about it. One of the reasons I think Obamacare is so great is because you know, we are living for a  really long time now and you know, we’re not retiring at sixty-two. So when we’re fifty, we’re not like, thinking oh I’m gonna knock off here in about ten years, what am I gonna do? We’re thinking, gee, what I do wanna do with the next thirty, forty years of my life? And we start thinking, well, maybe I don’t wanna do the same thing I’ve been doing until now. What do I want to do with my second career? What do I want to do now that my kids are grown up and gone, and I don’t have to just keep it all together because I’m keeping my family together, I have to pay those house bills, I have to put them through college. What do I want to do now for me?

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Craig Whitlock: Air Force General To Retire After Criticism For Handling Of Sexual-Assault Case

A three-star Air Force general whose handling of sexual-assault cases drew withering criticism from advocacy groups and some lawmakers retired under pressure Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the commander of the Third Air Force in Europe, acknowledged that he had become a “distraction” for the Air Force because of controversial cases in which he overturned a sexual-assault conviction of a star fighter pilot and decided that there was not enough evidence to court-martial an accused rapist. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency in February to a convicted fighter pilot at Aviano Air Base in Italy helped spark a national debate over sexual assault in the armed forces and about whether military leaders took the problem seriously enough.

The pilot, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, had been found guilty in November 2012 by an all-male jury in what was seen as a test of the Air Force’s willingness to tackle such crimes. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency infuriated many female lawmakers and activists, who said the outcome would discourage victims from reporting abuse. Congress has since passed several measures to bolster the investigation of sex crimes in the military and has stripped commanders of the authority to overturn convictions — an outcome of Franklin’s decision in the Aviano case.

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Greg Sargent: Dems Slam GOP Senate Candidates Over Unemployment Benefits

Is it conceivable that the 2014 elections might not prove to be exclusively about Obamacare and nothing else? With the battle over unemployment benefits raging, Dems are increasingly focused on the fact that some House Republicans expected to oppose an extension under any circumstances — no matter what “pay for” is agreed to — are also running for Senate. Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will hit multiple Republicans who are vying for their party’s Senate nomination in red states over the Republican refusal to extend benefits – in keeping with the broader Dem effort to make 2014 about economic mobility and inequality.

Dems are targeting GOP Senate candidates in Georgia, Arkansas,  Kentucky,  Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Here’s the release hitting House GOPers running for Senate in Georgia. Dems believe the failure to extend benefits — and opposition to a minimum wage hike — will build a general election case that centers on Republicans’ lack of an affirmative agenda for economically struggling Americans.

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Washington Post: Despite What The Critics Say, Obamacare Is Working

Despite the treasured right-wing talking points, it’s increasingly clear that Obamacare is a success. Moreover, in places where Obamacare is not succeeding, it’s also clear that the right wing is to blame. Well, it’s clear to any who look at the state-by-state numbers of the newly insured. A whole lot of Americans will have to look, however, for the program’s success to redound to Democrats’ advantage. Charles Gaba, an enterprising Web site designer, has taken it upon himself to track the number of Americans who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Tallying those who have signed up on the state and federal exchanges (2.1 million), those who have obtained Medicaid coverage (4.4 million) and those who gained coverage through the law’s requirement that private plans allow parents to cover their children up to age 26 (3.1 million), he cites more than 9 million newly insured through Obamacare. Which is to say, the ACA is working as planned, perhaps a little better, in the states where governors and legislatures chose to implement it, such as California and New York. Consider the implications: A larger share of Californians will be able to afford regular medical check-ups than Texans. A smaller share of Californians is likely to be bankrupted by the expense of major medical treatment than Texans. Only by publicizing the act’s manifest success in states where it has been implemented can supporters begin to change the public’s verdict.

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On This Day:

Members of the Price family watch as President Obama presents the Defense Superior Service Medal to departing Military Aide Lt. Col. Sam Price in the Oval Office, Jan. 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

08
Jan
14

What the Gates kerfuffle says about the post-WWII military

In the pages of the Washington Post, we were treated to a review of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ memoir Duty by former wonderboy Bob Woodward, who will write sycophantic treatises for the powerful. (For an interesting review of the review, go here to the New Republic.) The former Smartypants, Nancy LeTourneau, has a very perspicacious piece on the uphill battle facing any modern President going against the wishes of the military and intelligence establishments.

While the military has always been esteemed in the Republic, and successful generalship served as a steppingstone to the Presidency (Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant, to name two), for most of the country’s history the military was kept in severe check. For a great power, the United States had an almost laughably small regular peacetime Army. On the eve of World War I, the regular Army and National Guard numbered just around 200,000 soldiers, a force dwarfed by Germany’s army. A “preparedness” drive was bruited, but the public wanted none of that.

It was only with the titanic struggle of World War II, and the ensuing Cold War against Soviet Russia, that the United States acquired what every great power had always had: a large, permanent military establishment. Conscription ended after the end of World War I; it continued after the Second World War until the disaster of Vietnam and the near mutiny of the conscript Army made leadership decide on a highly trained, volunteer force.

Continue reading ‘What the Gates kerfuffle says about the post-WWII military’

08
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer concerning the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, on a cell phone in the hallway outside the Situation Room of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

9:45AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

10:45AM:  Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

12:30PM:  Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet for lunch (press pool to take pictures)

1:30PM: Press Briefing by Press Sec. Jay Carney

2:15PM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with leaders of the intelligence community

3:45PM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with Secretary of State Kerry

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Andy Chow: Ohio Hospitals Try To Keep Patients From Coming Back

Bruce Vanderhoff is chief medical officer for OhioHealth, a network of 17 hospitals in central Ohio. And “it is no exaggeration,” he says, “to say that we are working with them to transform the model of health care delivery.” That transformation was sparked by a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes hospitals with high readmission rates. With a possible cut to Medicare reimbursement on the line, medical facilities around the country are thinking of new ways to make sure patients don’t need to come back for additional treatment.

Like many other hospitals around the state, OhioHealth is placing an emphasis on patient education, making sure they know everything about their treatment and medication before they walk out the door. Vanderhoff says it’s also important to identify which patients are at a higher risk of readmission. Hospitals do this by providing health coaches who visit patients’ homes and help further their treatment. Follow-up phone calls, pharmacy consultations, and in-depth meetings with a patient’s family are also used in the process.

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SCTimes: MNSure Tallies 67,000 Enrollees In Wake Of Insurance Deadline

Minnesota’s health insurance exchange saw a sizable last-minute spike in enrollment ahead of a deadline for coverage. MNsure released its latest enrollment figures Friday. By the Dec. 31 deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, the agency reported 67,805 Minnesotans had enrolled for insurance under the new federal health care law.

That means more than 14,600 people signed up for coverage in the last four days of December. Of the 67,805 who signed up, about 38 percent enrolled in private insurance plans. The rest signed up for the state’s two public insurance programs, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. MNsure stressed that the latest enrollment figures are preliminary.

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@FreeRangeTalk

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NPR: 3 Ways Obamacare Is Changing How A Hospital Cares For Patients

The Affordable Care Act is transforming more than health insurance. In hospitals around the country, the legislation could transform the way doctors and nurses actually care for patients. Part of the law is designed to rein in the nation’s exploding health care costs by creating hundreds of little experiments that test new ways for hospitals to save money. One example: At Summa Akron City Hospital in Akron, Ohio, doctors are preparing for a new way of doing business. Michael Firstenberg, a heart surgeon at the hospital, says there’s something a little funny about the way he gets paid. If a patient comes in for a bypass operation, Firstenberg earns a certain amount of money for the hospital. “However, if that patient that night has to go back for bleeding, then I get paid for that procedure as well,” he says.

“And everybody’s happy because look at all the revenue I’m generating, independent of the quality.” As a result, everything is more expensive. The key question for health care reformers trying to rein in costs is how to create a less expensive system that still provides good care. Starting on Jan. 1, the federal government, the hospital and some of the doctors there will try a new approach. Rather than paying for that bypass operation and then paying again for bleeding, Medicare will pay one lump sum upfront to cover the surgery and any complications that occur after surgery. One payment for one operation, plus follow-up; that’s it. If the patient doesn’t have problems within 30 days of being discharged from the hospital, the doctors could make even more money than they do today. But if there are lots of problems after surgery, they could lose money.

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Gabrielle Giffords: The Lessons Of Physical Therapy

TODAY, the anniversary of the shooting in Tucson that put a bullet through my head and killed six of my constituents, is when I make my annual resolutions. Many may look at me and see mostly what I have lost. I struggle to speak, my eyesight’s not great, my right arm and leg are paralyzed, and I left a job I loved representing southern Arizona in Congress. But three years ago, dispatched to an almost certain death by an assassin’s bullet, I was allowed the opportunity for a new life. I’ve spent the past three years learning how to talk again, how to walk again.

I asked myself, if simply completing a normal day requires so much work, how would I ever be able to fulfill a larger purpose? The killing of children at the school in Sandy Hook a little over a year ago gave me my answer. It shocked me, it motivated me, and frankly, it showed me a path. Predictably, Washington disappointed us during the first year of our work with the organization we began, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Many of you were outraged at the failure of the Senate to pass the background checks bill, and so was I. But I continue to be inspired by my fellow Americans. By any measure, they’re with us. They know gun violence is a complex problem. No one law will make it go away.

We’re not daunted. We know that the gun lobby, which makes money by preventing sensible change, relies on dramatic disappointments to wound us, reduce our power, push us back on our heels. Our fight is a lot more like my rehab. Every day, we must wake up resolved and determined. We’ll pay attention to the details; look for opportunities for progress, even when the pace is slow. Some progress may seem small, and we might wonder if the impact is enough, when the need is so urgent. But every day we will recruit a few more allies, talk to a few more elected officials, convince a few more voters. Some days the steps will come easily; we’ll feel the wind at our backs. Other times our knees will buckle. We’ll tire of the burden. I know this feeling. But we’ll persist.

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Max Fisher: Robert Gates Was Wrong On The Most Important Issue He Ever Faced

Back in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the United States faced a really big dilemma. Gorbachev professed to be a reformer. Should the United States work with him to reduce nuclear weapons, ease the U.S.-Soviet proxy battles that were at that point directly responsible for a number of deadly conflicts around the world and, just maybe, try to end the Cold War? This wasn’t just a major, difficult question: It would turn out to be one of the most important U.S. foreign policy decisions in decades.

President Ronald Reagan eventually came around to the idea that, yes, he could and should work with Gorbachev. He was persuaded by, among others, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously said that Gorbachev was a man the West could do business with. But Reagan had to overcome the fierce opposition of a top CIA Kremlinologist and eventual CIA director named Robert M. Gates, who maintained for years that Gorbachev was no reformer, that he was not to be trusted and that Reagan would be walking into a Soviet ploy. Quite simply, Gates was wrong, overruled by Reagan, and the world was better off for it.

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Isaac Chotiner: Bob Woodward’s Incoherent Afghanistan Scoop Shows His Anti-Obama Bias

Robert Gates’s memoir is all set to be released and The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward got himself a copy. Unfortunately, Woodward’s account of the book is as flawed and overly simplified as, er, Woodward’s own books about the Obama administration. According to Woodward, it is a serious charge against a president to say that he had doubts about the “course he had charted.” Since the same author wrote three increasingly critical books about a certain former president who never expressed the slightest doubts about disastrous policy choices, you would think Woodward might know better. Apparently not. It wouldn’t be the first time that Woodward showed a strong dislike for the president, and allowed his opinions to get ahead of the facts.

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Great comment by Nusholtz, a reader of Chotiner’s article:

“more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan” I also consider that a virtue.  I heard one of the members of the President Obama’s Bin Laden group explaining that during considerations of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, after the President’s advisers became entrenched in their positions during discussions over whether a raid or a bombing was the correct choice, the President had all of the details wrapped up in a volume and a fresh set of advisers were brought in.  A decider who prides himself on his fact free instincts when making a difficult decision won’t have doubts about the course he charted.  I prefer a thoughtful one who has doubts.

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Michael Tomasky: States Edge Closer To Medicaid Expansion: Who’ll Go First?

When will some states that initially refused federal money to expand Medicaid for their poor citizens pull a flip-flop and accept it? Because it’s inevitable that some will—and as they do, the Republicans’ sabotage of Obamacare will be profoundly undermined, and people’s concomitant opposition to the law will start to vaporize. This thought is occasioned by the publication yesterday by Theda Skocpol, the esteemed Harvard sociologist and political scientist and head of the excellent Scholars’ Strategy Network, of an eye-popping chart about how health-care coverage is proceeding so far in various states.

In the full-go states, the average Medicaid enrollment (along with S-CHIP, which is for children) is 42.9 percent of those eligible, and the average attainment of coverage through exchanges is 37.2 percent. In the supporter states, those numbers are 15.7 and 5.8 percent, respectively. And in the “just say no” states, they’re feeble—just 1.5 and 5.6 percent. In other words, says the SSN website, “It is apparent that Affordable Care is doing best in the states that are really trying to carry it through.”

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Jeff Cox: Private Sector Job Creation Is ‘Off And Running’: ADP

Private sector job creation continued at a healthy clip in December, with companies adding a better-than-expected 238,000 positions despite the inclement weather. ADP and Moody’s Analytics said the month was the best for 2013 and pointed towards a solid number when the government releases its nonfarm payrolls report Friday. “This is it. We’re off and running,” Moody’s economist Mark Zandi told CNBC. “We’ve jumped to a new level of growth.”

Among the highlights: Construction jobs grew by the largest monthly number since 2006, adding 48,000, while goods-producing industries contributed 69,000. Overall, professional and businesses services again led the way with 170,000 new jobs, down a shade from November’s 182,000. The big number could sway economists to change their view of the monthly unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is expected to show 196,000 additional positions, all but 1,000 from the private sector.

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On This Day:

President Obama takes part in a conference call in the Situation Room of the White House concerning the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Az., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. Pictured, left to right, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, incoming Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer, and Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro. Also taking part in the call were Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FBI Director Robert Mueller (Photo by Pete Souza)

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