The First Lady gets a big hug from a student during her visit to Orr Elementary School in Washington, Sept 6. She was joined by Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, second from right, and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, right.
More photos and video of the First Lady’s visit to Orr Elementary here
Leading Republicans appear to be nerving themselves up for another round of attempted fiscal blackmail. With the end of the fiscal year looming, they aren’t offering the kinds of compromises that might produce a deal and avoid a government shutdown …. they’re threatening, once again, to block any rise in the debt ceiling, a move that would damage the U.S. economy and possibly provoke a world financial crisis.
Yet even as Republican politicians seem ready to go on the offensive, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.
And the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what’s driving the Republican Party’s intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass……
Greg Sargent: Even Republicans are openly worried about GOP’s sabotage governing
The notion that GOP sabotage governing tactics could ultimately prove counter-productive and self defeating for the Republican Party is now being increasingly voiced by Republicans themselves.
….. with Republicans hurtling towards another set of crises over the debt limit and funding the government they are openly nervous about the GOP’s continued embrace of its intransigent scorched earth governing posture…
…. More public disunity from Republicans about their tactics – even as Dems remain relatively united behind their insistence that they won’t negotiate over the debt limit and will continue to demand new revenues as part of any budget deal – will only encourage the White House to hold a harder line.
And see Steve Benen: Senate GOPer calls shutdown threat ‘the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard’
Washington Post: White House hardens stance on budget cuts ahead of showdown with Republicans
Senior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown if Republicans continue to demand deeper spending cuts, lawmakers and Democrats familiar with the administration’s thinking said Thursday.
The posture represents a more confrontational approach than that of this spring, when President Obama decided not to escalate a fight over across-the-board reductions known as sequestration in an earlier budget battle with Republicans.
The change in tone has been evident in repeated and little-noticed veto threats over the past few weeks by Obama, who has rarely issued the warnings with such frequency. He has made it clear that he will not sign into law Republican spending bills that slash domestic programs even more deeply than sequestration.
Steve Benen: Either job creation is the top priority or it isn’t
…. In addition to the voluminous list of documented problems, just over the last few days we’ve gotten a better sense of the ways in which [sequestration cuts are] hurting the military, public schools, parks, and the justice system. The poor and minorities are disproportionately suffering.
Did the political world care about these stories? Not really…. So what made yesterday different? This did:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that keeping the spending cuts from sequestration in place through fiscal 2014 would cost up to 1.6 million jobs …. Canceling the cuts, on the other hand, would yield between 300,000 to 1.6 million new jobs, with the most likely outcome being the addition of 900,000, the CBO said.
CNN: Organizing for Action, the political advocacy group aligned with President Barack Obama, has turned the hour-long speech the president delivered in Illinois on Wednesday into a 60-second television spot that will air on national cable.
Clips of the president are spliced together with photographs of construction workers, manufacturers, students, and families, all designed to promote the economic message the White House says will be their focus on the coming months.
Kurt Eichenwald: Zimmerman, Abortion, and Obamacare: 25 Contemplations on Current Events
…. It makes no sense to argue that you support Stand Your Ground and then condemn Trayvon Martin for confronting a guy who was following him. You can’t pick and choose who gets to stand their ground based on a perception of threat. Which is why that law is so obscene.
….. All anti-abortion protesters should be presented, on the spot, with an application to sign up as foster parents. They should also be given the names of children in their area in need of adoptive parents. And if they won’t sign or volunteer, they should shut up.
…. If Obamacare is so awful, why do conservatives have to lie so much about what it really does? (See death panels, government takeover of health care, preventing folks from choosing their own doctors, and pretty much anything any Republican has said about the program over the last few years.)
…. The fact that some folks learned something in school does not make them elitist. It makes them educated.
Steve Benen: What ‘conservatives gone wild’ looks like in North Carolina
….. [In North Carolina} .... the most sweeping voter-suppression efforts seen anywhere in the United States in generations ..... the proposal is remarkable in its scope, including a needlessly discriminatory voter-ID provision, new limits on early voting, blocks on voter-registration drive, restrictions on extended voting times to ease long lines, an end to same-day registration, new efforts to discourage youth voting, and expanded opportunities for "vigilante poll-watchers to challenge eligible voters."
How many North Carolina Republican lawmakers supported these suppression tactics for no apparent reason? Each and every one of them.....
Salon’s arc of fail last week began with David Sirota’s meditation that “we are all targets now,” which spawned a minor revolution on social media and inspired TWiB Prime to break its hiatus for the “This Motherfucker Right Here Hour.” Now, Cornel West, among many others, has repeated the parallel, alleging that Obama is a “global George Zimmerman” because the Administration has sanctioned the use of drones for targeted killing in Yemen and elsewhere.
The strange essence of the critique is that Obama is a hypocrite for publicly, personally identifying with one murdered Black boy while the Administration’s foreign policy justifies the murders of innocent brown people abroad. This inappropriate parallel between Obama and Zimmerman erases the suffering of Black people and other marginalized groups in America, allows white men to co-opt the conversation while claiming that they are anti-racist, ignores crucial differences between vigilante justice and foreign policy, and requires Obama to be superhuman to maintain authority.
There are several incidents of privilege-blindness among the mostly white male drone-obsessed elite….
Dallas News: In Washington, Wendy Davis represents a progressive Texas
It was her stance on abortions that carried Texas Sen. Wendy Davis into the national spotlight, but it wasn’t the reason behind Thursday’s trip to Washington.
A more progressive Texas, not abortion, was the focus of Davis’s trip, which included two fundraisers and multiple meetings with members of Congress and local groups,
“People all across Texas are starting to stand and see that basic Texas values are being abused and abandoned by state leaders,” she told a group of 400, who paid between $25 and $250 to crowd into a bar on Thursday evening to hear Davis speak.
“Those weren’t just Democrats assembled to complain about Republicans,” she said referring to the hundreds who flooded the Texas capitol building last month during her filibuster. “They were Texans.”
One welcome surprise in gun safety occurred this year in Colorado, where the Democratic-led Legislature dared to defy the gun lobby and mandated universal background checks on firearm sales and 15-round limits on ammunition magazines.
The ink was barely dry, however, before the National Rifle Association was vindictively pressing for recall votes against two supporters of the stronger law….
The recall vote, set for Sept. 10, could hardly be more important as a barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.
An intense, behind-the-scenes battle is going on for one of the world’s most powerful jobs: Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Backers of two major candidates – current Fed member Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers – are busy lobbying the only voter who counts in this type of campaign: President Obama.
Yellen is the Fed’s vice chair and has helped develop the policies of current chairman Ben Bernanke – a point made by both supporters and critics. Bernanke is expected to retire when his term expires in January.
Senate Democrats are circulating a petition in support of Yellen, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed her in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
OFA fellows are fired up and ready for you to join them
Organizing for Action is looking for passionate new leaders who are interested in tackling our country’s big issues for our OFA Fall Fellowship program. This three-month volunteer program is explicitly designed to train the next generation of OFA leaders – if that sounds like you, you can apply today.
Fall Fellows will be working on important issues affecting our country—from protecting Obamacare, to combating climate change, to passing comprehensive immigration reform, Fellows do work that matters every single day.
President Obama laughs with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius following the official Cabinet group photo in the Grand Foyer of the White House, July 26, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Education Secretary Arne Duncan; and Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Jack Lew in the Oval Office, July 26, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
12:20: VP Biden and President Santos Speak to the press, Bogota, Colombia (Audio only at WH Live)
The Oklahoman: President Barack Obama came to Oklahoma on Sunday to comfort grieving families, laud the work of emergency responders and offer assurances that the nation stands ready to assist with recovery from last week’s deadly tornadoes.
…. He also talked with Moore School Superintendent Suzy Pierce, Shelley Jaques-McMillin, principal of Briarwood Elementary, which also was badly damaged, and several others, including Scott Lewis, who was able to get his son, Zack, out of school and into a storm shelter in the nick of time.
“He just wanted to speak to the boy and tell him how brave he was,” Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said. “Told us everything will be OK. And he reassured us. We told him how great FEMA was and the first responders.”
…. Afterward, the president met in private at the station for about 30 minutes with several family members of the children killed at Plaza Towers.
Republicans have tested the limits of hyperbole in attacking Obamacare. You can’t really top then-Minority Leader John Boehner warning that passage of the Affordable Care Act would be “Armageddon.” Well, we’re still here.
…. There’s no doubt that this new system that requires a health care marketplace to be set up in all 50 states will be complex and onerous to put in place — especially with Republicans purposely trying to engineer a disaster. But they’ve set expectations so low that there’s a good chance Obamacare will actually impress, especially in the blue states that are taking advantage of the landmark law.
NYT: The state of the economy is far from ideal, but some very definite positives are brewing. It’s not just that we are continuing to recover from a deep recession; we are also seeing signs that America’s long-term future may be looking up, too.
The case for optimism is hardly open-and-shut. The economy’s problems include high unemployment, mediocre productivity gains and stagnant or slow-growing earnings for most income classes. Still, let’s consider five indicators that the future is starting to brighten: