Posts Tagged ‘kennedy



08
Dec
13

The Kennedy Center Honors

5:20: President Obama delivers remarks at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception, East Room

Also at White House Live

Later:

7:30: The President and First Lady attend the Kennedy Center Honors, Kennedy Center

Don’t think this will shown tonight – will be aired on CBenghaziS on December 29… presumably Billy Joel will be ‘singing’ (sic) :???:

03
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha and Malia, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react as they push to button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:0: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia

12:05: Holds a working lunch with President Santos

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:30PM: President Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act

3:30: President Obama participates in ambassador credentialing ceremony

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Get Covered America: Certainty For Rebecca

Certainty. That’s what Rebecca Haug of Del Norte, CO wanted most when she went to look for a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Since her husband passed away in 2007, she has been working as a registered nurse, gaining and losing coverage through employers who have closed up or cut back in tough times.

But now, Rebecca knows that her health insurance can’t be taken away if her job changes. Debt from her medical expenses, which have been pushing her toward bankruptcy, will finally stop piling up. Before the Marketplace opened, Rebecca was quoted a health insurance premium at nearly $1,100 a month — just for herself — from private insurers. But through the Marketplace, Rebecca found out she qualified for a $500 tax credit to purchase insurance. Because of that financial assistance, she will pay nothing for her monthly premium.

More here

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TPM: Obamacare To Cost ‘Billions Of Dollars Less Than Originally Projected’

Among the GOP’s myriad criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, one of the loudest has centered around the law’s price tag. But it turns out Obamacare won’t be as costly as expected. The New York Times reported Tuesday that “the government is expected to spend billions of dollars less than originally projected on the law.” The adjusted estimate is a result of the law’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for private insurance plans proving less costly than initially anticipated.

More here

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Michelle Andrews: Health Law May Offer Part-Time Workers Better Options

In January, part-time workers who have so-called “mini-med” health insurance plans with very limited benefits and annual caps on payments will begin to lose that coverage, which under the health care overhaul can’t  be renewed after the beginning of the year.  Many experts say it’s just as well, noting that part-timers likely will have better options in January. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, nearly all plans were required to eliminate lifetime and annual dollar limits on benefits.

When Roberta Grindle was diagnosed with colon cancer in October, she blew through the $5,000 coverage limit on her mini-med plan almost immediately. Grindle, 62, worked 16 hours a week at a big box store near her home in Sebring, Fla., and paid $32 every two weeks for the store’s  plan, the only coverage available to part-time workers.

The health law requires that employers offer health insurance to employees who work at least 30 hours a week or face penalties starting in January, but the Obama administration delayed that provision until 2015. Many part-time workers will have more options for better coverage starting in January. If their employer doesn’t offer a health plan, they can shop for insurance on the online marketplaces, and subsidies will be available to those with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013).

More here

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NYT: U.S. Regulator To Keep An Eye On Largest Student Loan Servicers

The U.S. consumer financial watchdog will soon start supervising the seven largest student loan servicers to ensure they treat borrowers fairly and comply with federal consumer laws, the agency said on Tuesday. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken a broad interest in the burden of student loan debt, which it says now totals $1.2 trillion and saddles many borrowers with debt that takes years to repay.

Student loan borrowers have complained about being charged late fees as a result of processing mistakes by the servicers, lost paperwork and poor communication. “Student loan borrowers should be able to rest assured that when they make a payment toward their loans, the company that takes their money is playing by the rules,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Under a new rule set to take effect on March 1, the CFPB would expand its supervision to non-bank student loan servicers that handle more than 1 million accounts, regardless of whether they include federal or private loans.

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Colorado Consumer Health Initiative: Strong Coverage For A Strong Family

Sara and I are also both self-employed small business owners. While Margaret and I have no health issues, Sara has a pre-existing condition. In 2008, Sara was treated for a “mild” heart issue, specifically a super ventricular tachycardia (SVT). At the time, the procedure was recommended essentially because it “couldn’t hurt” to get this issue done. It was a simple, low-risk procedure and was completed in a few hours.

However, what the doctors didn’t tell us is that treatment for this problem (which was a problem in name only – Sara had no illness or issues) would make it impossible for her to obtain healthcare later in life. Using the new Colorado Health exchange, Sara, myself, and Margaret were quoted $590.65 per month for a family plan. The individual annual deductible is lower ($1,750 per person, $3,500 per family), there is 25% coinsurance, and it’s a “silver” plan (KP CO Silver), which seems like it should be an upgrade over existing policies.

What’s more, the whole family will share the same policy. They can visit the same doctors (not all doctors would take Sara’s insurance via Cover Colorado), use the same online health record management system via KP.org, etc. Through Connect for Health Colorado my family can save money and have a more comprehensive health plan that meets our needs thanks to Obamacare.

More here

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Pisarski: #Ukraine | 1,6 mln people gathered in #Kiev on Sunday – according to Ukr police.

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Masha Gessen: A Whiter Shade Of Envy

In Russian, envy comes in two colors: black and white. The former is mean and resentful: “It should be me, not you.” The latter is aspirational: “I want to be you.” “Black envy” affirms a despondent world view; “white envy” affords a hopeful one. For a week and a half, many Russians have had a clear case of white envy watching the protests in neighboring Ukraine. After President Viktor F. Yanukovich backed out of signing a political and trade agreement with the European Union, protests broke out in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities.

Many competing and contradictory political forces are involved, but the way it looks from Moscow the front line is drawn clearly: Ukraine has to choose between an increasingly reactionary Russia and Western Europe. Russia is using every kind of pressure — from threatening economic sanctions to declaring tens of thousands of Ukrainians persona non grata — all in order to drag Ukraine back into the Middle Ages with it. Western Europe, which has many demands of its own, promises a future of openness and progress.

More here

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@DavidNakamura: VP Biden meets with Japan’s Deputy PM Taro Aso as U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy looks on.

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Nooga.Com: One Chattanoogan’s Experience With Obamacare

Chattanooga resident John VanHyning and his wife have gone without health insurance since July 2012. His wife is disabled, and the couple has two grandchildren who live with them, VanHyning said. He has a part-time job that pays a couple hundred dollars a week. Now, he has coverage that will go into effect Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Liberty Tax officials connected him with American Exchange, a local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through the online marketplaces.

“I was even a little skeptical—how can they hook me up so easily when everybody else has [had so many problems?]” he said. Within about 40 minutes of going into Liberty Tax, where he made a phone call to American Exchange, he and his wife were signed up for health care coverage. It won’t cost the couple anything to get a silver plan through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The monthly premium cost for that plan is $683.64. But because of federal tax credits, the couple won’t have to pay any of that.

More here

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Edward Domain: My Affordable Care Act Enrollment Experience

On May 4th of this year, I was in a cab on a Saturday afternoon heading to the St. Louis Cinco de Mayo parade with two friends. My cab driver was texting and as a result rolled through a red light, we collided head-on with a van and I wound up in the hospital requiring 5 total surgeries and spent five and a half months in two hospitals and a nursing home. I have a new hip, will be in physical therapy for my shoulder for another year and without insurance I would have been doomed. My current bill for health insurance is $628.34/mo and only covers me.

This is insane.  No one I know pays this much for health insurance, so when Healthcare.Gov was announced, I was cautiously optimistic- I had also gotten a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois informing me my policy was being cancelled. After I chose my plan rated ‘gold’ here is my new bill for health insurance under Obamacare: I am saving $265.85/mo under Obamacare, for a total savings of $3,190.20/year This plan is far better than what I had before. My current plan has a deductible of $3,000 and has a $20 co-pay. Under Obamacare, my new plan has a $750 deductible and $30 co-pay for doctor’s visits.

For me, I’ll happily pay an extra $10 when I visit the doctor in return for a smaller copay for the important stuff. If you look, the most I’ll ever pay in one year is $6000- after that I am 100% covered for everything. If you look at my plan details, you’ll see that if I am in-network, after the deductible is covered ($750) then almost everything gets covered 100%. The biggest point for me is that my new plan under Obamacare is with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the same company that my old plan was under. That means they were happily over-charging me for insurance and now, thanks to Obamacare, I have a better plan than I had before and I am paying less for it. Also of note- I did not qualify for subsidies- I am paying the full rate.

More here

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Philadelphia Weekly: So I Signed Up For Obamacare And Got A Big Surprise

From 2005 to 2009, I paid $15 for all office visits after meeting my out-of-pocket deductible. But starting in 2010, that number became $30 per office visit for my family doctor and $50 for any specialists—and with a chronic illness, most of my office visits involve specialists. So, with age 40 looming on the horizon, I had resigned myself to rearranging my life still further, to the reality that I’d need to find, somehow, significantly more money to spend on my private health insurance—since it isn’t something I can live without. Then Obamacare appeared.

With the Personal Choice Platinum Plan PPO, I’ll pay $429.96 per month as a tobacco non-user at age 39. And when I turn 40 a few months later—the source of my financial dread? I’ll pay $435.41 per month. That’s not just no huge increase after all. That’s fifty bucks a month less than I’m paying now. It gets better. Instead of paying my current $30 for a family doctor visit, I’ll pay only $10. I’ll pay $40 for a specialist instead of the $50 I now pay.

With my new Platinum Plan, prescriptions are priced in three tiers. A generic drug’s copay is $5; a brand name drug purchase is a $30 copay; and a non-formulary brand is a $50 copay. That’s the pricing at retail pharmacies—but my new plan also offers a mail-order option to my door through Future Scripts that will enable me to buy a three-month supply of prescription drugs at the cost of a two-month supply’s copay. What sorcery is this? Well—it’s Obamacare. This is what Obamacare is. It’s not the flawed website the media has been dwelling on. It’s the more affordable care structure the website is supposed to point us to—and that a simple phone call did point me to.

More here

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Lauren Silverman: An Obamacare Success Story: From The High Risk Pool To The Marketplace For A Lot Less

More than 20,000 people rely on the state run Texas Health Insurance Pool. The pool insures folks with pre-existing health conditions who can’t find coverage elsewhere. In a few months, that risk pool will no longer exist. And at least one North Texas family is celebrating. Right after he retired a decade ago, Bob Flood learned he had cancer and a kidney would have to be removed. Just one month after he lost his kidney, he lost his health insurance. “The only place I could get health insurance was through the Texas health risk pool. And that is 200 to 400 percent above what the average person pays,”

Flood says. Flood’s family policy was more than three thousand a month. His wife Amy says they tried to write the check once a year to avoid seeing the bill so often. “That was a sizeable chunk of change,” Amy Flood says. “And frankly I would have rather given it to other needy people rather than just to an insurance consortium.” But the Floods wanted to be responsible, so they agreed to grin and bear it. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they don’t have to anymore. “Now we have a policy which covers the three of us for less than a thousand dollars a month.”

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama whistles as he and Vice President Biden wait in the holding room of the South Court Auditorium prior to the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009. The Vice President’s personal aide, Fran Person, is at right (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama attends a breakout session, “Creating Jobs Through the Rebuilding of America’s Infrastructure,” during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, at the National Christmas Tree ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 2009

On This Day: President Obama heads along the White House colonnade to the residence after leaving the Oval Office for the day, Dec. 3, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reaches for a Purple Heart medal which he presented to a wounded soldier at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama participates in a live Twitter question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

22
Nov
13

Early Bird Chat

On a tour of the State Floor of the White House, President Obama looks at a portrait of John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler, January 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Morning everyone.

17
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama looks out a window of Air Force One during the flight from Canberra to Darwin, Australia, Nov. 17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The First Family will attend the game between the University of Maryland and Oregon State University at College Park, Md

Monday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Tuesday: Will deliver remarks at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council’s annual meeting

Wednesday: The President will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the First Lady will also attend

Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Friday: The President will host King Mohammed XI of Morocco at the White House

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Jason Sattler: SHOCKER: Obamacare Is Working Best In States That Aren’t Trying To Sabotage It

Of the 106,185 people who have completed an application for health insurance, nearly 75 percent came from 14 states and the District of Columbia that both set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, California and New York combined for the bulk of the enrollments, 51,769. But the most promising news from the Golden State wasn’t even included in this report.

Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, reported Wednesday that as of Tuesday, 60,000 Californians had signed up for insurance. Signups have increased to a rate of almost 2,500 enrollees per day in November. At that pace, the state could be expected to enroll 402,500 people by March 31 but Lee says that he expects to hit a goal of 500,000 to 700,000 people by then, which means he expects the pace to pick up by at least 640 people a day to over 3,000 enrollees.

Red Kentucky is the only state in the union that voted for Mitt Romney and set up its own exchange, thanks in large part to Democratic governor Steve Beshear. The state’s site signed up a total of 32,485 Kentuckians, with 5,586 enrolling in private plans, in its first month of operation. This reduces the state’s uninsured population —estimated at 640,000 — by just over 5 percent.

More here

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The Boston Globe: Obama, Clintons To Visit JFK Gravesite Wednesday

President Barack Obama will visit John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and honor two of Kennedy’s lasting initiatives as the nation observes the 50th anniversary of his assassination in the coming week. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be accompanied by former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, at a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon. Also that day, Obama will be joined by scores of prominent Americans who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in paying tribute to Kennedy’s legacy.

Obama will present the award Wednesday to the 2013 recipients, including Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, the late astronaut Sally Ride, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, country music singer Loretta Lynn and 10 others. On Wednesday evening, Obama plans a speech on Kennedy’s legacy of service with a dinner at the Smithsonian American History Museum attended by current and past recipients of the medal, including baseball’s Hank Aaron, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Aretha Franklin, economist Alan Greenspan, activist Jesse Jackson and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, is to introduce Obama at the dinner.

More here

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Hurricane Katrina, The Obamacare Rollout, And Allowing Privilege To Shape Our Politics

On Friday, the media got swept up in an unhelpful comparison between the rocky Obamacare rollout and the botched clean-up efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina …

But …. there is one obvious point of comparison. It doesn’t have anything to do with the political career of the sitting president, though. It has to do with the privilege that continues to dominate the United States’ political priorities.

It’s about who is worth rescuing.

…. Intent on resisting Obamacare at every turn, Republican legislators in over 20 states have refused to expand Medicaid, leaving many of their low-income residents with no good options…. But the current discussion is centered on a relatively small group of people who do currently have insurance, but whose plans don’t meet the minimum standard for benefit requirements put forth by the health reform law.

…. If we must draw comparisons between Obamacare and previous national disasters, consider this one. As a collective society, we still haven’t really learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina – but not because of a broken website or a broken promise about keeping your plan. We haven’t figured out how to prioritize that Louisiana mother’s life.

Full post here

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The Salt Lake Tribune: Dying For Coverage: Utahn Lobbies To Expand Medicaid

Sherilyn Horrocks’ body is under siege. Her immune system is attacking her tissues and organs, causing her esophagus, stomach and liver to harden. “I’ll die of [systemic sclerosis] like my brother did,” she said. “It’s just a matter of time.” Hoping to buy more time, and quality of life, the 61-year-old career homemaker is dropping by Gov. Gary Herbert’s annual health summit on Thursday to try to persuade him to expand Medicaid.

She’s among 123,000 uninsured Utahns who would qualify for Medicaid under an optional expansion of the low-income health program through the Affordable Care Act. There is no cure for her autoimmune disease. “But there are medicines and procedures that would prolong my life if I could afford them,” she said. “I have a feeling I’m going to be one of those who falls through the cracks.”

Utah has yet to opt into an expansion, despite analyses showing it would bring billions in federal funding to the state during the next 10 years, create jobs and reduce the charity-care burden on hospitals. Republican legislators remain adamantly opposed, and Herbert is weighing the pros and cons of partial expansion scenarios to be discussed at Thursday’s summit.

More here

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Laura Rozen: Iran Nuclear Deal Close, US Officials Say

US negotiators say they feel they are close to finalizing a nuclear agreement with Iran for the first time in a decade. “For the first time in nearly a decade we are getting close to [reaching agreement on] the first step towards a comprehensive agreement that would stop Iran’s nuclear program from advancing, and put time on the clock to reach a negotiated agreement that addresses all of our concerns,” a senior U.S. administration official told journalists at a background briefing at the State Department Friday.

“I don’t know if we will get agreement,” in Geneva next week, the U.S. official said. “It’s quite possible we can. But there are tough issues to negotiate.” The reason the last meeting ended in Geneva at 1am last weekend was that Iran, after receiving the consensus P5+1 draft proposal only late in the evening of November 9th, “felt it needed to look at the document and come back to the negotiations.”

More here

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Charles Blow: Disrespect, Race, And Obama

In an interview with the BBC this week, Oprah Winfrey said of President Obama: “There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American.” With that remark, Winfrey touched on an issue that many Americans have wrestled with: To what extent does this president’s race animate those loyal to him and those opposed? Is race a primary motivator or a subordinate, more elusive one, tainting motivations but not driving them?

To some degree, the answers lie with the questioners. There are different perceptions of racial realities. What some see as slights, others see as innocent opposition. But there are some objective truths here. Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real.

More here

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@NoGOPNo

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Michelle Carl: People Like Me

Jennifer Herrera and her family are always on the move. She and her husband, Fredy, enjoy hiking in the mountains near their Southern California home and cheering on their children in one of their many sports — golf, football, volleyball or basketball.  She was glad she had insurance recently when her son badly cut his face during a basketball game. “It was off to the emergency room we go,” she recalls. “Obviously, I had to pay for some of it, but thank God I didn’t have to come up with that $3,000 [for the full cost of the visit].”

Her family has always had health insurance, mainly because of hearing the story of Jennifer’s grandmother and the effect that not having insurance had on the family. It was the late 1940s, and Ethel and Chuck Meyer were proud parents of their first child, Bill (Jennifer’s father). “[Ethel] was hanging the laundry one day and just all of a sudden collapsed,” Jennifer says. “She didn’t know why. She had been kind of tired but chalked it up to having an active child.” Ethel eventually learned she had polio, a debilitating virus that reached epidemic levels in the United States prior to the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s.

More here

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Jamelle Bouie: No, The Rollout Of HealthCare.gov Is Nothing Like Hurricane Katrina

Right now, the problem with the website is that it can’t accommodate everyone who wants to buy health insurance. That is a serious issue, but not the worst mistake ever made by a president.By contrast, George W. Bush’s response to Katrina comes close. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest storms ever to hit the United States. It killed more than 1,800 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, caused billions of dollars in property damage, and nearly sank a major American city.

And the Bush administration’s response was criminally negligent, a basic failure of duty that should haunt everyone involved. Despite several days of memos and warnings to administration officials that Katrina would be a major storm, that the levees had been breached, that flooding had began, it took two days for President Bush—who was on vacation, spawning a series of photo-ops that would look awful in retrospect—to begin to organize the federal response.

More here

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Joshua DuBois: Anyone Who Counts Obama Out Hasn’t Reckoned On His Survival Skills

It’s been a week of football metaphors in politics. President Obama said this week that the administration “fumbled” the health care rollout. A lot of folks believe that this turnover is decisive, handing the ball to Republicans in Congress and opponents of health reform with the second half well underway. And now we’re starting to see frightened Democrats on the sidelines hovering over Obama like uneasy linemen, wondering if their QB has enough left in him to turn the game around.

Not me. I’ve seen this game–and this particular quarterback–far too many times before. And as sure as I know never to count out Peyton Manning when he’s down by a couple scores heading into the fourth quarter, I never bet against Obama when the press and pundits have declared game-over. It rarely, if ever, is–this guy knows how to win.

This is a president, and a country, who have been counted out more times than we remember, and bounced back in ways we quickly forget. The reality is, if we take the long view, we’ll see that our country has been on an upward trajectory over the last 5 years. The ball may have been fumbled, and momentum may be in the other direction. But if history tells us anything, it’s this: the smart money’s on the gray-haired, steady-handed guy in the White House, who has been down this field a few times before.

More here

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On This Day:

Embassy staff members listen to President Obama at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, Nov.17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours the Forbidden City in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is reflected in a window while touring the Forbidden City in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama watches a performance at a state dinner with President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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One of the most beautiful moments:

President Obama meets survivor Mary Lee after laying a wreath at the memorial of the USS Peary in Darwin, Nov 17, 2011. Mary was 9 at the time of the bombing by Japanese aircraft which resulted in the sinking of the Peary on February 19, 1942

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People react as President Obama walks by on his way to address the Australian Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard greet members of the Royal Australian Air Force after delivering remarks on the U.S. and Australian Alliance, in Darwin, Australia, Nov.17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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03
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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The Week Ahead (All Times Eastern):

Today:

9:45 AM: President Obama and VP Biden meet with members of Congress

8:30 PM: President Obama departs the White House en route Stockholm, Swede

Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.

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ABC: Obama to Include LGBT Activists in Russia Meetings

President Obama will include members of Russian LGBT groups among the NGO leaders, democracy activists and human rights advocates he meets later this week when he is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

It’s typical for visiting U.S. officials, including the president, to meet with civil society members here in Russia, something that always irks the Kremlin. But this appears to be the first time LGBT groups have been included in a presidential-level meeting.

…. It comes after a summer of international outrage over Russia’s new gay “propaganda” law, which outlaws even discussing homosexuality around minors. Violators could be fined and jailed. Foreigners face similar penalties plus deportation.

During an appearance on Jay Leno’s show last month, Obama was asked about the law and said he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

More here

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Lobbying Congress, leaving for Europe

President Obama spends a big part of a busy Tuesday making his case for a military strike on Syria, speaking with invited members of Congress at the White House.

The White House did not release a guest list, but it is expected to include members of military and national security committees, as well as congressional leaders.

….. Obama’s lobbying effort goes global later in the week.

On Tuesday night, the president departs for Stockholm, Sweden. After a brief stop there, he heads to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, where Syria is likely to be a dominant topic.

Full post

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Rick Ungar (Forbes): Media Outlets Spitting Mad At Obama For Spoiling Their Plans To Cash In On War

Following the President’ surprise announcement that he would seek the advice and consent of Congress before launching an attack on Syria, it seemed that no matter where you landed on the cable news dial everyone was in a state of upset.

With visions of TV screens filled with ‘shock and awe’ dancing in their heads along with the blessed promise of the ratings that follow the hysteria of war—not to mention a sublime ending to the slow news agony of August that dogs all news show production staffs, writers and broadcasters (trust me,I know)—Obama had held out the football for Charlie Brown to kick and then pulled it away at the last minute.

And the media was pissed.

…. And then there were the pundits appearing on networks representing all sides of the political spectrum — including those who claim to play it ‘down the middle’ — who took to the airwaves to angrily argue that the President’s backing off an attack pending Congressional approval would weaken America in the eyes of the world.

Really?

More here

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Washington Post: Where The Votes Stand On Syria:

See here for details

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Charles Pierce: Joe Lieberman – Just Shut Up

Let me be more precise. Just shut your fking piehole. Forever. You useless walking, bloodstained pile of casual death.

…. Let us be clear. There is no blazing, murderous maw into which Joe Lieberman would not be willing to feed someone else’s child ….. The man could care less about the dead. He’d feed on them himself, if he could.

Fk him with a Hellfire.

Now that my throat’s clear, let’s start the day.

Full post here

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The People’s View: The Most Worker Friendly President Since FDR

…. The working folk of America needed a champion – we needed a fierce advocate, if you will. And we elected one in 2008. If by some miracle of happenstance, President Obama didn’t have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition, even from “liberals” in the media, it would be patently obvious to everyone that the man presently occupying the Oval Office is the most worker-friendly president since Franklin Roosevelt. Barack Obama is a president who has more than kept his word to always make the best decision for people who work for a living.

…. a look at basically all of the president’s domestic policy – from bills that became law to bills that were blocked by Republicans, from legislation to administrative rulemaking – has been focused on one thing and one thing alone: helping America’s workers regain a footing in this economy. His job has not been easy, to put a severely mild point on it. But if on this labor day, we’re looking for a best friend of the American worker in government, the man behind the presidential seal is a pretty good pick.

Full post here

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Tom Kludt: Obama Discusses Syria With Japan PM

President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday discussed the purported chemical weapons attack in Syria.

According to a White House readout of the phone call, both leaders “agreed that the use of chemical weapons is a serious violation of international norms and cannot be tolerated” while pledging to stay in close consultation on a potential response against the Assad regime in Syria.

More here

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Jerusalem Post: Obama Offers Rosh Hashanah Greetings In Conference Call With Rabbis

US President Obama reflected on the High Holidays and offered New Year’s greetings in a conference call with nearly 1,000 rabbis.

Obama in the call on Friday afternoon extended the greetings on behalf of himself and the first lady for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year….

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday evening.

More here

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Think Progress: Eleven Other Things American Workers Deserve (Besides A Day Off)

Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker, who spends most days on an oil rig or in an office, on the assembly line or on the docks, making the American economy run. The holiday originated in 1894, after two dozen people were killed during the Pullman Strike, a railway workers’ boycott of low wages and high rent. From there, it became an American tradition, meant to honor the accomplishments of the people who make this nation run.

The battle is not yet won. Unions are on the decline, while income inequality is on the rise. Women still aren’t earning what men make. And many employees still aren’t free from discrimination at their jobs. Here are just eleven of the fights we’re still fighting for the American worker

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Caitlin McDevitt: Robert De Niro On Obama: He’s Trying His Best

Actor Robert De Niro defends President Barack Obama as a “good person” who’s “trying his best” for the country in the in the fall issue of Du Jour magazine:

Working as an actor his entire life means that De Niro sees everything through that lens. In describing his steadfast support for Barack Obama, he compares the president’s challenges to a filmmaker’s. “He’s a good person, period,” he says. “He’s trying his best. He’s going to do things that people feel are not right or violating one right or another. But at the end of the day, he represents, I think, the best of the type of people that I would like to see running the government. He has to play that game, the political game. They all do. They make statements they can’t honor because they’re impossible to honor. Once you get into that Washington machinery, you’ve just got to figure it out and swim against the current and grab onto this rock and that, and just try to maintain your course.”

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“You know, it’s one thing to be a critic,” he continues. “It’s another thing to be directly involved. It’s like directing a movie and you edit the film and then someone will give you a suggestion: ‘You could do this, you could do that.’ You look and you say, ‘Yeah, but the reason I can’t do that is because I don’t have that shot, and if I use this shot that’s better here, it impacts on this one and it’s a story point.’ In other words, it can’t be done. You have to make these choices with the government, and you’re going to be criticized. If you took the time to explain it all to the public, they’d say, ‘OK, I get it.’ Can you explain to everybody? No. You just have to say, ‘I made this choice because I felt it was the right choice.’”

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25
Aug
13

Five Years Ago Today…..

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13
Jun
13

From JFK to PBO

This undated file photo provided by Rep. John Dingell’s office shows the congressman with President John F. Kennedy

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President Obama talks with Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., along with members of his family, in the Oval Office, June 13. Rep. Dingell is the longest-serving Member in the history of the United States Congress (Photo by Pete Souza)

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During a tribute to Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving Congressman in American history, Mary Wilson of the Supremes asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., and others, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, to join her onstage in a rendition of the hit song “Stop! In the Name of Love.” Hilarity ensued.

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5:05 PM EDT: President Obama Speaks at the LGBT Pride Month Celebration

White House Live

06
May
13

Rise and Shine

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

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Today:

The President has no scheduled public events

12:45 Jay Carney’s press briefing

4:0: VP Biden meets with members of the faith community at the White House to discuss gun safety

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Jonathan Chait: State of the Union addresses are wearying rituals, in which stitched-together lists of never-gonna-happen goals are woven into idealistic catchphrases, analyzed as rhetoric by an unqualified panel of poetry-critic-for-a-night political reporters, quickly followed by a hapless opposition-party response, and then, in almost every case, forgotten. This year, plunked into the midst of the tedium was a gigantic revelation, almost surely the most momentous news of President Obama’s second term. “I will direct my Cabinet,” he announced, “to come up with executive actions we can take now and in the future to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Here was a genuine bombshell. It sounded a little vague, and the president did not explain precisely what he intended to do or how he would pull it off. But a handful of environmental wonks had a fairly strong grasp of the project he had committed himself to, and they understood that it was very, very real and very, very doable. If they were to have summarized the news, the headline would have been OBAMA TO SAVE PLANET…..

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USA Today: President Obama is turning back to the jobs issue, launching a series of “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours” starting Thursday with an appearance in Texas.

Obama will visit growing areas “to learn what has helped them become successful and use these models of growth to encourage Congress to act,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

On Thursday, the president opens the new effort with a tour in Austin, Texas, where he will visit a high school, and speak with leaders of the city’s high-tech industries.

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Michael Tomasky: There Are No ‘Absolute’ Rights – Nearly every idea in the Bill of Rights comes with restrictions and limitations. To think that the Second Amendment should be any different is absurd

Every time I write a column on guns, the howl arises that I am talking about a right that is enshrined in the Constitution, buddy, and I better watch myself. The howl then transmutes into an extended harangue that this right is absolute, and no libtard fascist, whether me or the Satanesque Dianne Feinstein, is going to limit the right in any way.

The first soldier to charge across this rhetorical veld is followed by hundreds harrumphing their assent. The only problem is that it’s an ahistorical, afactual, and barbaric argument. No right is absolute. In fact, the Second Amendment arguably has fewer restrictions on it these days than many of the other first ten, and there is and should be no guarantee that things are going to stay that way. In fact, if we’re ever going to be serious about trying to stop this mass butchery that we endure every few months, they cannot.

More here

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VP Biden: ….. We fell short on our first effort to pass Manchin-Toomey in the Senate, but we will not be deterred by one setback. We have an obligation to make sure that the voices of victims, not the voice of the NRA, ring the loudest in this debate.

For too long, members of Congress have been afraid to vote against the wishes of the NRA, even when the vast majority of their constituents support what the NRA opposes. That fear has become such an article of faith that even in the face of evidence to the contrary, a number of senators voted against basic background checks, against a federal gun trafficking statute and against other common-sense measures because they feared a backlash.

…. In the end, I believe we will prevail. And those who wrote off gun safety legislation last month will come to realize that moment wasn’t the end at all. It was the turning point.

Full editorial here

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