Posts Tagged ‘harvey

23
May
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Henry Healy, the President’s distant cousin, after arriving in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

10:30 AM CT: The President departs Chicago

1:30 EDT: Arrives White House

3:0 EDT: Signs H.R. 1209, an act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders for conducting the bombings of Tokyo, and H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act

3:30 EDT: The President will make a personnel announcement (see below)

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Ah, memories:

And the very lovely news: the video will be in the new Barack Obama Visitor Center in Moneygall – thank you Henry Healy!

(Not sure if the video is watchable in all YouTube regions??)

Remember, if you would like to send any election/inauguration items to Henry for the Visitor Center, just email me and I’ll pass on his address – thanks a gazillion for the wonderful response so far.

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USA Today: Obama’s day: A new budget director, housing secretary

President Obama pulls a Cabinet switch on Friday.

The president will nominate Shaun Donovan, now the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to be the new director of the Office of Management and Budget.

To replace Donovan as HUD secretary, Obama will nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

Obama will make the announcements on Friday afternoon, after he returns to the White House from Chicago. The president spent Thursday night in the Windy City after headlining a pair of Democratic fundraisers.

More here

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Sun Times: Obama in Chicago: “I need a Democratic Senate” (Transcript)

At the first of two fundraisers in Chicago on Thursday, President Barack Obama told donors “I need a Democratic Senate” or else his agenda for the last two terms of his term – including immigration reform – will not succeed. Obama said he is worried about people not voting in November:

…… I need a Congress that works. And that means I need a Democratic Senate. And it would be helpful to have a Democratic House.  Now, you all know this so I’m preaching to the choir. But here’s the challenge we have: Democrats are not perfect and it turns out one of our great imperfections is we have a congenital tendency not to vote in midterm elections.

I don’t know what it is. Presidential elections, we’re all in. In 2008, you all went crazy; 2012, you still went crazy. High turnout, we’re motivated, donors are involved, people are active, folks are knocking on doors, people making phone calls.  And then the midterm comes and we fall asleep.

That cannot happen in this election because the stakes are too high. And I say this mindful that in every election somebody says how high the stakes are. But think about what’s at stake right now. Think about it.  If we do not hang on to the Senate and make gains in the House we may not get immigration reform done, which means we could have another three, four years in which we’re being deprived of talent we’re training here in the United States – they go back home and start businesses someplace else. There are Michael Polskys right now in universities that have the possibility of creating businesses here but may end up going back home because we have a broken immigration system. That’s what’s at stake.

More here

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NJ.com: Obamacare enrollment drives down NJ’s uninsurance rate by 38 percent

The first look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact on New Jersey reveals the percentage of uninsured people is on track to reach its lowest level in nearly a quarter of a century, according to a new report released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The proportion of uninsured adults decreased 38 percent from September to early March, according to the foundation. That decline is likely to accelerate, knowing that many people waited until the last minute to beat the March 30 enrollment deadline.

“These findings suggest that uninsurance in New Jersey is at its lowest level since 1990,” according to the report produced by the foundation and the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.

The survey results suggest that many concerns about the law — from Gov. Chris Christie hand-off approach to its implementation, to the Obama administration’s troubled launch of the HealthCare.Gov website — did not create insurmountable roadblocks.

More here

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Eugene Robinson: The GOP is still swallowing the tea

What’s happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party’s radical anti-government philosophy.

Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in persuading the party’s activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas.

More here

Similarly, from Charles Pierce:

This is a mutually co-opting dynamic that is becoming smoother. The “establishment” adopts uniformly extremist policies that would have been unthinkable for a national Republican party two decades ago. The “Tea Party wing” contents itself in the knowledge that the party declines any more to nominate raving loons for election to the national legislature. My guess is that this modus vivendi will provide some empty conflict entertainment over the next two election cycles, but it all will be moon pigeons for the punditocracy to marvel at. The radical conservative philosophy has captured the infrastructure of the Republican party, root and branch, local and national. It’s just wearing shoes again now.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: Why Guantanamo remains open

President Obama has received a fair amount of criticism from the left about the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The president vowed to close the prison, but after five years in office, it remains open.

That’s not for lack of effort. Obama has tried, repeatedly, to pursue the policy that used to enjoy bipartisan support, but Congress – including members of both parties – have placed inflexible restrictions on the administration, preventing progress. In other words, the president hasn’t closed the prison because lawmakers simply won’t let him.

Every time there’s reason to think progress is possible, Congress does what it always does…..

… There’s certainly nothing wrong with being frustrated by the detention facility remaining open, but if you’re blaming the White House, you’re pointing the finger at the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

More here

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Cue Exploding Heads on the Right:

Bloomberg: Netanyahu Says Obama Got Syria Right

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has some uncharacteristically positive words for one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives: the deal struck last year to remove chemical weapons from Syria.

I met Netanyahu last Friday afternoon in his bunkerlike office in Jerusalem. During the course of our discussion, I asked him about the famous “red line” crisis – Obama’s last-minute decision to abort a missile strike and instead negotiate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile – that colors so much of foreign-policy commentary today.

Netanyahu issued what was for him a full-throated endorsement of an Obama initiative, calling it “the one ray of light in a very dark region.”

More here

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Greg Sargent: On immigration, the GOP is Steve King’s party

 It’s not often that GOP Rep. Steve King says anything usefully revelatory on immigration reform. Today, however, he went on to the House floor and, in just over a minute, unmasked the truth about the Republican Party’s position on immigration — a position that House Republican leaders have tried to obscure for months.

King cited Chuck Schumer’s recent claim that the Congressman from Iowa is an “extreme outlier” on the issue. King then helpfullly pointed out that in fact, his position is indistinguishable from the Republican Party position, while deriding the Democratic position as akin to socialism…

More here

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Fernando Espuelas: Boehner lies to Hispanics again

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) published an orotund statement predicated on a lie, betting that Hispanic Americans are incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.

According to Boehner, President Obama’s recent designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument — lands with deep historical and archeological significance to Hispanics and Native Americans — demonstrated “the president’s fondness for unilateral action [that] has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation’s borders and reforming our immigration system.”

Now, to be fair, the Boehner-led House is so chaotic that it resembles more a gang of yammering ruffians than a serious legislative body. So there is a possibility, even a small chance, that Boehner doesn’t even know what is said in his name through his office’s communications office.

Even so, what is the best case scenario? Incompetence instead of deception? Rogue staff? After a litany of objectively dubious statements about immigration reform in the past, it’s hard to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt.

More here

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Text of the First Lady’s remarks here

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Harold Meyerson: The boost that comes from raising the minimum wage

 The standard argument — really, the only argument — against raising the minimum wage is that it will lead to job loss. The argument is beloved by die-hard opponents of raising the wage because it provides them with a veneer, however flimsy, of concern about the welfare of the working poor.

 Economic studies have repeatedly shown that argument to be spurious. Now the latest survey of 350,000 small businesses from Paychex, a payroll provider company, and IHS, a business analysis firm, provides strong indications that the exact opposite may be true.

 In April, the Paychex/IHS survey, which looks at employment in small businesses, found that the state with the highest percentage of annual job growth was Washington — the state with the highest minimum wage in the nation, $9.32 an hour. The metropolitan area with the highest percentage of annual job growth was San Francisco — the city with the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $10.74.

 This suggests that the relationship between a high minimum wage and job creation needn’t be inverse. If anything, it suggests that relationship is direct.

 More here

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks with President of the Harvey Milk Foundation Stuart Milk, next to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, after they unveiled the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp at its dedication ceremony at the White House

 

 

 Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, fourth from right, and others, applaud during the unveiling ceremony of the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Joining Stroman, from left are, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Stuart Milk, Founder and President, Harvey Milk Foundation, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. On the day he would have turned 84 years old, Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor and gay activist gunned down at City Hall in 1978, had a postal stamp in his honor unveiled at the White House

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Link

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Michael Tomasky: The Roots of the GOP’s Race Problem

Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Great Society and the civil rights push. But if conservative hero Barry Goldwater had had his way, government would have stayed out of it.

…. I like the way today’s conservatives rush to point out, as they will in this comment thread, that most of the opposition to the civil rights bill was Democratic, as I noted above. There’s no denying that. But the more relevant point for today is this: Over the next few years, those people left the Democratic Party. They knew there was no place for them there.

In today’s GOP, however, the successors to the Richard Russells and Harry Byrds have been welcomed with open arms. And Barry Goldwater is not merely one guy among many guys they kind of like from the past. He is conservatism’s great hero! And 1964 is thought of as a shining moment in their movement’s history! And here we are, 50 years later, with the Republican Party looking as if it just might nominate for president a guy (Rand Paul) who once admitted that he’d have opposed the Civil Rights Act and basically was still against it (and Paul is one of the better Republicans on race!). Half a century, and society has changed for the better in amazing ways. But one of our two parties is still dedicated to fighting it.

Full post here

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Three Years Ago Today

Arriving in Dublin, May 23, 2011

 President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Irish President Mary McAleese and Dr. Martin McAleese during a courtesy call in the Drawing Room at the President’s residence in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama holds a hurley as Taoiseach Enda Kenny looks on

Arriving in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)

 First Lady Michelle Obama greets local residents on Main Street in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets local residents in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama poses for a photograph with a young girl during a walk along Main Street in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama watches as First Lady Michelle Obama draws a pint at Ollie Hayes’ Pub in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama embraces Liz Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for European Affairs, at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011. Sherwood-Randall was blown over by strong winds earlier in the day and injured her wrist (Photo by Pete Souza)

Thousands of people gather at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, to welcome President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

People cheer as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are introduced during an Irish celebration at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama leave the stage with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife, Fionnuala Kenny, at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama greets a little girl following his remarks at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)

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15
Apr
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets participants after a Land Titling event at the Plaza de San Pedro, Cartagena, Colombia, April 15, 2012. President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia is seen at right (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:30: President Obama meets with faith leaders to discuss ways to promote an immigration bill now pending in the U.S. House.

2:49: Observes a moment of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing

6:30: The President and First Lady host a Passover Seder at the White House

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The Week Ahead:

Wednesday: President Obama and Vice President Biden will travel to Leetsdale, Pennsylvania for an event on the economy.

Thursday: The President will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House in celebration of the eighth annual Soldier Ride.

Friday: The President will meet with the National Commander and Executive Director of the American Legion. Later, he will welcome the United States Naval Academy Football Team to the White House to present them with the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

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ThinkProgress: Very Bad News For Obamacare Opponents In The Government’s Latest Report

Premiums for health care insurance in the Affordable Care Act are lower than the federal government had anticipated, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Monday when it revised its cost estimate for the health care law. The nonpartisan office now believes that the ACA will cost the government $5 billion less than projected in 2014 and $104 billion less for the 2015-2024 period. It also found “no clear evidence” that premiums will surge in 2015, noting that “enrollees in the future will be healthier, on average, than the smaller number of people who are obtaining such coverage in 2014.” The agency estimated that the national average premium for individual silver policy plans would increase by $100 that year.

The CBO attributes the additional savings to government, relative to the CBO’s last assessment from February 2014, to lower-than expected premiums, which in turn lowered the cost for exchange subsidies, and higher-than expected revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans.

More here

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Steve Benen: CBO: Affordable Care Act getting even more affordable

…. what have we learned of late?

* ACA enrollment through exchanges reached 7.1 million, ahead of early estimates.

* The ACA is quickly reducing the uninsured rate.

* Thanks in part to the ACA, health care spending has slowed dramatically and health care inflation is at its lowest point in 50 years.

* According to the Department of Commerce, the ACA is also having a positive effect on personal incomes.

* And according to the CBO, the system is even more affordable than perviously projected.

… this is a system that’s working. The right can either acknowledge reality or embrace delusions and conspiracies, but the facts are quite evident for those who care to look.

Full post here

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NYT: In New York, Hard Choices on Health Exchange Spell Success

In contrast with the early stumbles in most of the country, New York State, almost from the start, has provided a textbook lesson in how to make the Affordable Care Act work. But it has done so by making some tough decisions.

New York has signed up more than 900,000 people for commercial or government plans, lured 16 insurance companies onto its exchange, provided subsidies for most customers and reduced premiums across the board.

“I have to say that on the whole this is a very savvy bunch of people they have operating the exchange,” Mark P. Scherzer, a lawyer and consumer advocate, said. “It really is a story of something that government could actually do right.”

More here

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Simon Maloy (Salon): Chris Cillizza, call your office: Buffoonish Obamacare critic gets it all wrong, again

…. The newest offering from the CBO is bad news for Obamacare’s conservative critics. Much of their criticism can be divided into three basic arguments — Obamacare is ineffective, it costs taxpayers too much, and it will send insurance premiums skyrocketing – and the CBO report took the wind out of all three. It found that Obamacare will cover more people than earlier estimates, will cost less money than earlier estimates, and will not preside over a nationwide premium spike.

…. DOWN GOES THE NARRATIVE! Right…?

Not really….

Take Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post as an example. Click over to the Fix or comb through his Twitter feed, as of early Monday evening, and you won’t find a single word written about the CBO’s latest findings. That’s curious, given that when the CBO issued a report in early February on Obamacare’s projected impact on the labor market, Cillizza was all over it.

More here

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Brian Beutler: The Right’s New Scam: Feigning Anger on Behalf of People They Encouraged to Skip Obamacare

Beginning last summer, and continuing unabated until a few weeks ago, conservatives undertook a variety of efforts (both subtle and explicit) to discourage people, particularly young people, from enrolling in ACA-compliant health plans.

The idea was to deny state-based insurance markets critical mass, and sound risk pools, and send them into actuarial death spirals. In almost every instance, conservatives were appealing to strangers to undertake considerable personal risk in service of dubious ideological principles.

Though these efforts failed to achieve the larger goal, they almost certainly succeeded at convincing some people to skip Obamacare. And when confronted about the recklessness of their strategy, the most unscrupulous conservatives would say, No biggie! Obamacare allows people to enroll after they get sick or injured. So there’s no risk at all.

This was a lie. And if it weren’t such a dangerous lie, I’d be amused to find that conservatives now want you to be outraged about the fact that the Affordable Care Act creates limited open-enrollment periods each year to prohibit precisely that kind of free riding.

More here

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NDN: Total Removals, Returns of Unauthorized Immigrants Plummet Under Obama

Over the past several months, NDN/NPI has published a series of analyses which argue that through greater investment, better strategies and deeper cooperation with Mexico, the Obama Administration has made the immigration system better and the border safer while seeing a dramatic expansion of trade with Mexico.

Today we release a simple analysis which sheds new light on the hotly debated issue of deportations. Using a broader, more accurate measure of the number of unauthorized immigrants removed from the country since the first year of the Bush Presidency, we find that in fact the total number of “removals[i]” and “returns[ii]” has actually plummeted during the Obama Presidency. In 2012, the Obama Administration removed and returned almost a million people less than the height of the Bush Presidency. And every year of the Obama Presidency has seen a sizable decline in the total number of unauthorized migrants removed or returned to their countries.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Budget Deficit In March Was The Smallest Since 2000

The federal budget deficit for the first half of this year was $413 billion, a decline of $187 billion compared to the same time last year, according to the Treasury Department.

The deficit for the month of March stood at $37 billion, down from $107 billion last year. That figure was the smallest deficit for the month of March since 2000. The deficit is expected to be a about 4.1 percent of gross domestic product this year, a drop from almost 10 percent in 2009. Those falling numbers continue a trend, as the deficit fell faster in 2013 than in any year since the end of World War II, dropping from $1.1 trillion in 2012 to $680 billion.

More here

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Didn’t think Coates would be featuring at TOD any time soon, but here you go:

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Barack Obama’s Challenge to American Morality

If you haven’t yet, it’s work checking out Barack Obama’s address before the National Action Network, last week. I think it’s one of the most significant and morally grounded speeches of his presidency. I think we will eventually regard this current effort to suppress the vote through voter-ID laws, ending early voting, restricting voting hours, etc., in the same way we regard literacy tests and poll taxes.

More here

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BBC: Ukraine crisis: Obama urges Putin to rein in separatists

US President Barack Obama has urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to use his influence to make separatists in eastern Ukraine stand down.

The phone call between the two leaders came as pro-Russian activists continued to occupy buildings in eastern towns.

…. The White House said the “frank and direct” conversation between the two presidents was made at Russia’s request.

“The president expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilise the government of Ukraine,” a statement said.

“The president emphasised that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized.”

The statement also threatened Moscow with wider sanctions, saying “the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist”.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Revisiting Homeland Security’s 2009 Domestic Terrorism Report

I think this is a particularly good day to look back to, say, April of 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano presiding, put out a nine-page report in which the DHS pointed out that veterans were being recruited by rightwing terrorist groups around the country. (This was about when people started noticing that the real crazy had come out of the jar when this particular president had been sworn in.) Oh, the fuss that this raised.

John Boehner said of Napolitano that he wanted an “explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

More here

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MilkFoundation.org: USPS Harvey Milk Forever Stamp White House Ceremony

Following the announcement that the United States Postal Service first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony of the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp will take place at the White House on May 22, Harvey Milk’s nephew and co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation Stuart Milk released the following statement:

“A stamp dedication ceremony on May 22 at the White House comes with incredibly special significance for both place and date. President Obama and his administration have provided the nation with steadfast and trend setting leadership in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the US and abroad….

“The Milk family thanks President Obama and other allies and champions of LGBT inclusive diversity as exemplified by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, all of the LGBT leaders who have stood on uncle Harvey’s shoulders to run for and serve openly in public office, and each and every LGBT individual who go about their daily life with authenticity, refusing to hide who they are and who they love. Together, all of us, continue to move humanity forward, bending that arc of the moral universe ever closer to justice.”

More here

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Wake-up Call:

AP: Donors return to Crossroads, give $5m in March

After a stretch of anemic fundraising, the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads super PAC raised more cash in March than it did during the previous 14 months combined, according to summaries of campaign filings released Monday.

The GOP establishment’s favorite super PAC raised almost $5.2 million last month and had more than $6.3 million in the bank as of March 31, according to the report summary. That cash will be used as the outside group tries to help Republicans pick up the six seats they need to win control of the Senate. American Crossroads has been running ads supporting establishment GOP candidates in Alaska and North Carolina and is expected to support former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in his bid to unseat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.

More here

Do what you can —> link

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 On This Day

At the Cuban Club during a fund raiser in Ybor City on April 15, 2007 in Tampa, Florida

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President Obama speaks about Tax Day in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, April 15, 2009

President Obama presents a birthday cake April 15, 2009, to senior advisor Pete Rouse in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama jokes with senior advisors Mona Sutphen and David Axelrod during a birthday party April 15, 2009, for senior advisor Pete Rouse in the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)

Bo is shown the Oval Office April 15, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a woman working at New Roots Community Farm in San Diego, Calif., April 15, 2010 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama exits Air Force One with Rep. Suzanne M. Kosmas and Sen. Bill Nelson at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010

President Obama tours the commercial rocket processing facility of Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, along with Elon Musk, SpacdeX CEO at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 15, 2010

President Obama is given an “I’m an Obamanaut” bumper sticker at NASA operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., April 15, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with Press Secretary Jay Carney, left, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe, center, before an interview with Ben Feller of the Associated Press, in Chicago, Ill., April 15, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama serves himself during a buffet lunch with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and U.S. and Colombian delegations at Casa de Huéspedes in Cartagena, Colombia, April 15, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama holds up an Alabama football jersey that was presented to him by Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron during ceremonies honoring the Crimson Tide as the BCS college national championships on the South Lawn of the White House on April 15, 2013

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President Obama speaks during a statement to the press following explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the briefing room of the White House April 15, 2013

13
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Feb. 13, 2012 – Pete Souza: “From early spring to late fall, the light in the Oval Office is fairly consistent with the sun high above the horizon during the day. But during the winter months, the sun is lower and splashes through the back window in the early morning and late afternoon. Here, in the midst of the morning light, the President talks on the phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

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Presidential Daily Schedule:

The President has no public events scheduled – due to bad weather, the White House has postponed the President’s announcement about a new project designed to help young African-American and Hispanic men find jobs and get a good start in life. “We will reschedule the event,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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@petesouza: Overhead angle of Presidents Obama and Hollande before last night’s state dinner

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(The last five minutes of the interview)

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ThinkProgress: Uninsurance Rate Falls To Five-Year Low As 3.3 Million Enroll In Obamacare

The Obama administration on Wednesday released its monthly update on health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 3.3 million Americans enrolled in private health plans through Obamacare’s state and federal marketplaces from October through February 1, with 1.1 million signing up in January alone. The data comes on the same day that a Gallup survey found that the U.S. uninsurance rate has hit a five-year low.

“We’re seeing a healthy growth in enrollment,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a conference call with reporters. According to Sebelius, an additional 6.6 million Americans have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) during the first four months of the open enrollment period.

More here

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National Journal: Obamacare Enrollment Is Back on Track

With two months left to go, Obamacare enrollment is on track to hand the White House a significant win over the law’s critics.

About 3.3 million people had signed up for private insurance plans through the end of January, according to new data the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday. January itself was a little better than expected, and the growth put the administration within reach of a strong total when open enrollment ends in March.

There are significant gaps in the data that could affect assessment of the law’s ultimate success, but barring any wild surprises, things are looking good for the White House.

Here’s what you need to know from the latest data….

More here

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Obama-Prayer

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SmartyPants: President Obama’s Faith: “Maintaining Your Moral Compass”

As someone who is dedicated to trying to understand President Obama, it is always interesting to come across a speech or an interview with him from the past that I haven’t seen before. And so I was delighted to find this interview from March 2004 that he did with Cathleen Falsani about his religious faith. If you are interested, I suggest that you go read the whole thing. But I’m going to excerpt a few things he said that stood out to me. First of all, he recounts a history that we have all become familiar with by now. 
I am a Christian. 
So, I have a deep faith. So, I draw from the Christian faith.
 On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. 
I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. 
My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.

And I’d say, probably, intellectually I’ve drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith… So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

o-MALIA-AND-SASHA-OBAMA-facebook

I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I’m having internally. I’m measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I’m on track and where I think I’m off track. When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

More here

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WBIR: Healthcare.gov Enrollments In Tennessee Higher Than National Average

Tennessee’s enrollment rate in the federal health exchange was higher than the national enrollment growth rate in January, according to new federal statistics released Wednesday.

In Tennessee, the federal government reported that 59,705 people had enrolled in Marketplace plans as of February 1. As of the last report, which covered through December 28, there were about 36,250 enrollees in Tennessee. That’s a growth rate of about 65 percent.

However, enrollment in the federal exchange grew by 50 percent nationally in January. As of February 1, there are 3.3 million enrollees nationally.

More here

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Miami Herald: After Website Woes Decrease, Obamacare Enrollment Surges In Florida, Nation

Nearly 300,000 Floridians have signed up for Affordable Care Act plans, an 88 percent increase in a month, reflecting an enrollment surge that coincides with the end of Obamacare’s major website woes.

Florida’s number of enrollees, the second-highest in the nation behind California, accounts for almost 9 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million total enrollees, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More here

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Adam Serwer: North Carolina Voting Law Hits Black Voters: Study

North Carolina’s recent voting law changes will disproportionately affect black voters in the state, according to a study published Wednesday by Dartmouth University.

“The study provides powerful ammunition for the pending legal challenges,” says Brenda Wright, a voting rights expert with the liberal think tank Demos. “It shows that virtually every key feature of North Carolina’s election legislation will disproportionately cut back on registration and voting by African Americans in North Carolina as compared to whites.”

North Carolina was once covered by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting submit their voting law changes to the Justice Department for approval. After the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last year the formula for determining which jurisdictions were covered by that requirement, North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a package of voting law restrictions. Among the changes were shortening the time for early voting, instituting a photo ID requirement, eliminating same-day voter registration and limiting pre-registration for teenagers to those who will be of voting age on Election Day. According to the study, all of those changes “will have a disparate effect on black voters in North Carolina.”

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Sara Kliff: Obamacare Beat A January Enrollment Projection

The Obama administration has beaten a monthly health insurance enrollment target for the first time, according to data released Wednesday showing that more than 1.14 million people signed up for health plans in January in the new insurance marketplace.

The latest enrollment data from the Obama administration show that 3.3 million people have signed up for private health insurance through federal and state insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. This figure represents all enrollment from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1. It includes both people who have and have not paid their first month’s premium. Of those people, 1,146,100 selected their health insurance plans in January, meaning there was a 53 percent increase enrollment last month alone.

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Reuters: In First NYC Budget, de Blasio Pushes Pre-K, Retiree Healthcare

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio included a tax on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten in his first budget and proposed restoring $1 billion to a retiree healthcare fund that his predecessor’s plan would have drained. The proposal marks the first time in 20 years that a Democrat has drafted a spending plan for the biggest city in the United States. The Democrat-led City Council must approve a budget by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

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NYT: Obama’s Weekend in Sunnylands, With Lots of TV

President Obama has added an item to his agenda for Presidents’ Day weekend:

The leader of the free world is looking forward to binge-watching DVDs of his latest favorite television show: HBO’s edgy new “True Detective” series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Mr. Obama made a point of approaching HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, at the state dinner for France on Tuesday night.

“Where is my True Detective and Game of Thrones?” Mr. Obama asked Mr. Plepler as he told him that the coming weekend would be a good time to have the DVDs.

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TPM: Rand Paul Accused Of Plagiarizing His Big Obama Lawsuit

Did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plagiarize the lawsuit he filed Wednesday against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency? The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported that Paul originally drafted the class action suit he filed under former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) name with the help of Bruce Fein, who recently served as an attorney for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s father.

Fein’s ex-wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein, told Milbank that Cuccinelli stole “the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein” without payment. She added that Paul, who “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”

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Crooks and Liars: Stephen Colbert Declares Himself First Lady of France Following Invite to State Dinner

The Colbert Report may never be the same now that sitting next to the First Lady at the White House state dinner has gone to Stephen’s head.

Video at link

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Jenna Levy: U.S. Uninsured Rate Drops So Far In First Quarter Of 2014

The percentage of uninsured Americans fell to 16.0% so far in the first quarter of 2014 from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. These data are based on more than 19,000 interviews with Americans from Jan. 2-Feb. 10, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. While more than a month remains in the first quarter, these preliminary data show the uninsured rate appears to be on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level measured since 2008.

if the uninsured rate continues to fall over the next several months, it may suggest that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for most Americans to have health insurance, which took effect on Jan. 1, is responsible for the decline. The percentage of uninsured 26- to 34-year-olds, which has been dropping since the third quarter of 2013, is now 25.7%. Americans in this age group have had the highest uninsured rate since 2011. The uninsured rate among 26- to 34-year-olds has been declining faster than it has among any other age group.

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive to present the National Medal of Arts and Humanities Medal in the East Room at the White House, February 13, 2012

President Obama honors National Medal of Arts recipient Al Pacino in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, February 13, 2012

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President Obama runs to the stage before speaking to workers and guests at the Linamar Corporation plant in Arden, N.C., on Feb. 13, 2013, as he travels after delivering his State of the Union address

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18
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14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand together in the Blue Room of the White House, before a brunch celebrating the Inauguration, Jan. 18, 2013 (Photo: Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Saturday and Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

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BREAKING NEWS

Steve Kornacki: Christie Camp Held Sandy Relief Money Hostage, Mayor Alleges

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc. The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported. Two days later, Zimmer got a call from the Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who wanted to come to town to do an event at a ShopRite to spotlight businesses that had recovered from the storm.

On May 13, Guadagno and Zimmer met at the Hoboken ShopRite. That is where, Zimmer said, Guadagno delivered the first message about the relief aide. Zimmer shared this diary entry which she said she wrote later that day. “At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, she pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.”

The second warning, according to Zimmer, came four days later. She and Constable, who now led Christie’s department of community affairs, were seated together on stage for a public television special on Sandy recovery. Again, Zimmer provided this diary entry from May 17, which she said captured the incident. “We are mic’ed up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening. And he says “I hear you are against the Rockefeller project”. I reply “I am not against the Rockefeller project; in fact I want more commercial development in Hoboken.” “Oh really? Everyone in the State House believes you are against it – the buzz is that you are against it. If you move that forward, the money would start flowing to you” he tells me.

More here

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USA Today: What A Shocker! Young People Like Obamacare

First it was, we think we are invincible. Then it was that the penalty was too low, or that we would be turned off by website glitches. After the Department of Health and Human Services released its initial age breakdown enrollment data Monday, it is time to finally put the pessimism to rest. Young people are enrolling in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and for good reason — being covered is essential to their economic security.

Department of Health & Human Services announced that 30% of Obamacare’s 2.2 million private insurance enrollees are under the age of 35. More specifically 24% of enrollees are between the ages of 18- and 34-years-old. In other words, the exchanges have a percentage of young adult enrollees that is comparable to their proportion of the overall population. All the evidence suggests that youth enrollment will only go up as we get closer to the deadline.

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“I’ve got to get back because somebody is having a birthday today…I’m going to go ahead and sign this bill.”

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Ari Berman: Members Of Congress Introduce A New Fix For The Voting Rights Act

The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local jurisdictions would be covered if they commit three or more violations or have one violation and “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” over the past fifteen years.

The formula is based on a rolling calendar, updated with a current fifteen-year time period to exempt states who are no longer discriminating or add new ones who are, creating a deterrent against future voting rights violations. It’s based on empirical conditions and current data, not geography or a fixed time period—which voting rights advocates hope will satisfy Chief Justice John Roberts should the new legislation be enacted and reach the Supreme Court.

The new Section 4 proposal is far from perfect. It does not apply to states with an extensive record of voting discrimination, like Alabama (where civil rights protests in Selma gave birth to the VRA), Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, which were previously subject to Section 5. Nor does it apply to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have enacted new voting restrictions in the past few years. Moreover, Department of Justice objections to voter ID laws will not count as a new violation.

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David Cay Johnston: Willful Blindness Worsens Inequality

The rich really are getting richer, while the vast majority is getting poorer. All you have to do is look at the official government data to know this. Sadly, though, most of our nationally prominent journalists, especially David Brooks of The New York Times and PBS, do not know this because they neglect to do a basic journalistic task. It’s called reporting. The first and overwhelming problem is that his scale is wrong, probably because Brooks just conjured up the only hard number in that passage. Brooks writes about “the growing wealth of the top 5 percent.”

The threshold to be in the top 5 percent income group in 2012 was $161,000, analysis of tax return data by economists Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows. That is a lot of money to most people, but it is pocket change for top Wall Streeters, the group whose pay Brooks properly calls perverse. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs Goldman Sachs, was paid $23 million in 2012. That is 142 times the threshold to be in the top 5 percent. Looked at another way, had Blankfein been paid weekly, his first paycheck would have shown almost 3 times the gross pay that those at the top 5 percent threshold labored all year to make.

Goldman’s 32,400 employees made $12.6 billion last year, which is as much money as the lowest-earning 6.2 million American workers made the year before. To put that in another inequality perspective, in 2012 America had 23.3 million workers, all of them part-time or seasonal, who made less than $5,000. They averaged $2,025 each. Ponder that for a moment. About one worker in six made only $2,000.

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Think Progress: Governor Of State With Highest Minimum Wage Says It’s Still Too Low

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), whose state has the highest minimum wage of any in the country at $9.32 an hour, proposed raising it to between $10.82 and $11.82 in his State of the State address on Tuesday. “There are tens of thousands of jobs that people depend on that don’t provide a living wage in our state,” he said. “An increase in minimum wage means more money being spent in our economy.”

Republicans in the sate House and Senate expressed concerns that a higher wage could hurt small businesses, farmers, and businesses along the border with Idaho, which has a minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25. Democrats control the House but Republicans effectively control the Senate. Washington has lately become home to demands for even higher minimum wages. In the town surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport, voters approved a $15 minimum wage, although a court recently narrowed its impact to just those who work outside the airport. The group that organized support for the higher wage is fighting that decision.

More here

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TIME: Harvey Weinstein To Take Aim At NRA In New Movie

Film executive Harvey Weinstein said Wednesday he plans to make an anti-gun movie starring Meryl Streep that will take a direct shot at the National Rifle Association. 

“We’re going to take this issue head on, and they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Weinstein said on Howard Stern’s radio show. “I never want to have a gun,” Weinstein said. “I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it, and I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

More here

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On This Day:

The “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” on January 18, 2009 at the National Mall

President Obama shoots hoops with his personal aide, Reggie Love, at the White House Basketball Court, Jan. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with civil rights movement leader Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and his family in the Oval Office, Jan. 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)




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