Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence

22
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

 On This Day: “A man salutes the President as he travels from Seneca Falls to Syracuse, N.Y. during the college affordability bus tour. Aug. 22, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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NYT: Obama Cares. Look At The Numbers.

AS the predominantly black, disproportionately poor community of Ferguson, Mo., erupted in protest after the shooting death of Michael Brown, critics excoriated President Obama for his failure to empathize. Michael Eric Dyson, for example, called the president’s statement about the case on Monday a “stunning epic failure.” Mr. Obama’s defenders point to his second-term commitment to issues that touch the lives of poor communities of color, especially his initiative to assist young minority men, My Brother’s Keeper. But what both sides are ignoring is the president’s first-term record.

A true measure of a president’s priorities lies hidden in plain sight in his budget proposals. Under that standard, Mr. Obama has been more committed to communities like Ferguson than any Democratic president in the past half century. … …. Even after accounting for the higher numbers of poor people caught in the Great Recession, Mr. Obama’s record outshines his predecessors’. His proposed first-term spending per poor individual was $13,731 to Mr. Clinton’s $8,310 and Mr. Carter’s $4,431, in 2014 dollars.

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Slate: Advice For Ferguson From The Supreme Court

Kyle Niere, 23, was arrested on Monday night in Ferguson, Missouri, for “refusing to disperse” as he attempted to leave the QuikTrip station, where hundreds have gathered to protest the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. As he later relayed to NBC News, Niere, along with 12 other protesters, was arrested after cops told him and his friends that they “looked like the type that were going to stir up drama and go start looting.” According to Niere, police officers dragged him “face-first on the ground” and were “stepping on the back of our heads.” Niere and the others were held overnight and released. This has been the pattern for more than a week: Dozens of legitimate protesters arrested for essentially doing it wrong, which can be variously described as protesting about issues of race, refusing to stop protesting about issues of race, and in many cases, perhaps most outrageously, protesting while black.

It’s virtually impossible to square the law enforcement definition of illegal protest with the snuggly warm vision of political protest put forth by a unanimous Supreme Court only two months ago in McCullen v. Coakley. That was the case in which the high court struck down a Massachusetts law barring any protests within 35 feet of an abortion clinic. That law was passed after two clinic workers were shot and killed at clinics in 1994. But there is a crucial difference between the abortion opponents whose speech rights were feted by the court in McCullen and the garden variety protesters who can still be rounded up in free speech pens and summarily arrested on the streets of Ferguson: The court was careful to explain that the protesters in Massachusetts are not actually “protesters.” They are “counselors.” This presents an obvious solution for the outraged citizens who have taken to the streets of Ferguson and been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and incarceration: rebranding. From this day forth you should consider yourself “sidewalk counselors.”

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Brian Lord: A Little Known Robin Williams Story

Years ago I learned a very cool thing about Robin Williams, and I couldn’t watch a movie of his afterward without thinking of it. I never actually booked Robin Williams for an event, but I came close enough that his office sent over his rider. For those outside of the entertainment industry, a rider lists out an artist’s specific personal and technical needs for hosting them for an event- anything from bottled water and their green room to sound and lighting requirements. You can learn a lot about a person from their rider. When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found.

He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work. I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that. I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back. Thanks, Robin Williams- not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.

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Nick Timiraos: Foreclosed-Property Sales Fall to Lowest Levels Since 2008

Thursday’s home-sales report offers the clearest evidence that the housing market is moving out of the emergency ward and into a rehab facility. The National Association of Realtors reported that home sales rose for the fourth straight month in July to the highest seasonally adjusted annual rate since last September. But the real sign that the housing market is out of critical condition comes courtesy of a separate survey the NAR does of its members. That survey estimates the share of distressed home sales in July fell to 9% of all sales, the lowest level since the trade group’s tally began in October 2008.

the drop in foreclosed-property sales deserves attention. Sales of non-distressed homes, using crude estimates derived from the NAR’s survey, are up slightly from a year ago. Prices are still rising, but not as sharply as they were a year ago. And higher prices could be drawing out more sellers. Inventories are at their highest levels in nearly two years—and this time, they appear to be rising because Joe and Jane Homeowner, not a bank or mortgage-processing company, wants to sell.

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20
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

Parade

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:55: President Obama meets with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand

1:0 Josh Earnest briefs the press

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Parade: The President and Michelle Obama on Work, Family, and Juggling It All

… On Monday, June 23, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a Working Families summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss the need for affordable childcare and paid family leave, raising minimum wage, and achieving equal pay for all. In an interview conducted by Parade, the Obamas opened up about their personal connection to these issues and what they hope to accomplish during their remaining time in the White House.

President Barack Obama and wife Michelle have never been your typical working stiffs. With four Ivy League degrees between them, they’ve enjoyed high incomes and strong job security. But before and during college, they each worked minimum-wage jobs. And there was a time when they felt the same kind of financial aches and marriage strains that today’s dual-income families know all too well. As a young married couple in Chicago, they were mired in student debt, juggling multiple jobs and two kids, and bickering over who did what housework. “I wouldn’t fold,” remembers the president. “I didn’t separate, and Michelle’s point was, that’s not laundry.”

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TPM: Obama Administration To Extend Family Leave To Same-Sex Couples

The Obama administration announced that it would direct the Department of Labor to begin issuing regulations to extend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to same-sex couples, according to a White House official.

After the Supreme Court’s struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the administration began to reviewing relevant statutes and laws to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples. The administration said that its extension of FMLA is simply part of that process. The new regulations will clarify that an employee is eligible to take leave to care for a same-sex spouse in the instance of an illness, regardless of whether that employee lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

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Paul Krugman: Veterans and Zombies – The Hype Behind the Health Care Scandal

…. it’s important to understand that the Veterans Affairs scandal, while real, is being hyped out of proportion by people whose real goal is to block reform of the larger system.

…. A scandal is a scandal, and wrongdoing must be punished. But beware of people trying to use the veterans’ care scandal to derail health reform.

And here’s the thing: Health reform is working. Too many Americans still lack good insurance, and hence lack access to health care and protection from high medical costs — but not as many as last year, and next year should be better still. Health costs are still far too high, but their growth has slowed dramatically. We’re moving in the right direction, and we shouldn’t let the zombies get in our way.

Full post here

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Washington Post: Ukraine claims full control of its border with Russia

Ukraine announced Friday that it has regained full control of its border with Russia, which the government has set as an important precondition for a unilateral ceasefire in its conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the east.

The sealing off of the border, which could not be independently verified, would be significant because it would rob the rebels of an important supply route for new fighters and weapons.

The announcement that troops had recaptured the border area near the village of Izvaryne in the Luhansk region comes as President Petro Poroshenko is set to unveil the details of his 14-point peace plan.

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Smartypants: The “what about me?” syndrome

For years black academics criticized the Obama administration for not targeting programs to the African American community. Obamacare didn’t count – even though it has disproportionately affected people of color. All of his talk about income inequality didn’t matter, neither did his proposal for universal pre-K. What they wanted to see were initiatives that directly (and only) affected African Americans.

Then along came the announcement about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program targeting boys of color. It didn’t take long for many of the same critics to go after that one because it didn’t include girls. As I see it, this is what most efforts to target a specific community will eventually face…the “what about me?” syndrome.

That’s not to say that its wrong to initiate and promote targeted programs. Sometimes they’re needed. Its more about the fact that when they are proposed, we need to remember WHY they’re targeted and – by definition – will exclude.

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ThinkProgress: Governor Scott Walker Accused Of ‘Criminal Scheme’

New federal court documents released Thursday reveal that Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is the subject of a “Joe Doe” investigation. Prosecutors allege Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” to circumvent state election laws. While the courts are still mulling a motion by the dark money outside groups at the center of the allegations to stop the investigation, the facts of the case are yet another demonstration of the folly of the Supreme Court’s assumptions in the infamous Citizens United ruling.

The documents show that prosecutors believe illegal coordination occurred in the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections and that groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth worked with Scott Walker’s campaign arm (“Friends of Scott Walker”) to arrange undisclosed spending by an array of pro-Walker tax-exempt organizations. They note that several individuals were working both for Friends of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth at the time, and that Walker himself boasted of the coordination in an email to Karl Rove.

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Esquire: Prosecutor Is Closing In on Gov. Christie

Indictments against four cronies are near certain, sources say. Only question is if David Samson, Christie’s longtime mentor, will flip.

“It’s over, it’s done, and I’m moving on.” – Chris Christie, reassuring potential donors in Utah on June 14th

Back on planet Reality, meanwhile, Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, wades through the sewage of Christie’s stewardship. Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening – he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case.

“What’s taking the most time,” according to one source, “is separating what’s viable from all the bad stuff they’re finding that may not be viable.”

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Daily Beast: The Crash and Churn of Lawrence O’Donnell

In an exclusive interview, the MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell reveals how he survived a head-on car crash, and why afterwards he cut himself off from the negative litany of the news cycle.

“What a stupid way to die,” Lawrence O’Donnell thought to himself.

A split-second earlier, the host of MSNBC’s 10 p.m. program, The Last Word, had been gazing down at a map on his iPhone, following the progress of his taxi, a Chevy van, as he and his older brother Michael rode to dinner on the resort island of Tortola. It was around 7:45 p.m., Saturday, April 12, the start of what promised to be a lovely vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his big brother, a Boston lawyer.

The vacation didn’t happen. Instead, O’Donnell, 62, underwent a life-altering crucible that he’s still trying to make sense of, while figuring out how to explain it to viewers when he returns to his show on Monday night after two-and-a-half months off the air.

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On This Day

President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with National Security Staff in the Situation Room of the White House, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Vice President Biden on the Colonnade of the White House outside the Oval Office, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with a bipartisan group of mayors to discuss the economy and local efforts to create jobs and spur economic growth, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 20, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Pueblo, June 20, 2012

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MoooOOOooorning!

09
Jan
14

Obama Derangement Syndrome Fails Again

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07
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

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Clare Kim: Obama Talks Surveillance, Hillary, And Trayvon Martin With Leno

On The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, President Obama talked with host Jay Leno about everything from the Affordable Care Act and NSA leaker Edward Snowden to the economy, his relationship with Hillary Clinton, and the death of Trayvon Martin. Leno asked the president about the ongoing skepticism for the NSA surveillance program that collects phone record metadata in order to prevent terrorist attacks. Obama firmly stated that the government has not encroached on the privacy of citizens, and that they have not “abused these powers” in any way. He added that America does not “have a domestic spying program,” but intelligence gathering is “a critical component” for a counter-terrorism program.

‘What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat, and, you know, that information is useful,” Obama said. “But, you know, what I’ve said before, you know, and I want to make sure I repeat and that is we should be skeptical about the potential encroachments on privacy. None of the revelations show that the government has actually abused these powers, but they are pretty significant powers.” Jay Leno also brought up the recent crackdown on gays in Russia, comparing the country’s treatment of homosexuality to the way Nazi Germany persecuted Jews. President Obama 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.”

Leno told the president he’d spoken eloquently about the death of Trayvon Martin. “I could tell you were speaking from the heart,” he said. “Tell me about that.” He told Leno that he spoke about the case because he “wanted to try to explain why this was a particularly sensitive topic for African-American families because a lot of people who have sons know the experience they had of being followed and being viewed suspiciously…what we also believe in is people, everybody, should be treated fairly and the system should work for everyone. And so what I’m trying to do is just make sure that we have a conversation and that were all asking ourselves ‘are there some things we can do to foster better understanding’ and to make sure we don’t have laws in place that encourage the kind of violent encounter that we saw there that resulted in tragedy.”

More here

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

1:00PM: Pres. Obama is interviewed by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff

3:50PM: Pres. Obama delivers remarks at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

5:20PM: Pres. Obama departs Los Angeles

9:50PM: Pres. Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews

10:05PM: Pres. Obama arrives at the White House

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Julie Pace: In Rebuke, Obama Cancels Moscow Summit With Putin

 In a rare diplomatic rebuke, President Barack Obama on Wednesday canceled his Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision reflected both U.S. anger over Russia’s harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and growing frustration within the Obama administration over what it sees as Moscow’s stubbornness on other key issues, including missile defense and human rights.

Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president had no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary. “We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” Rhodes said.

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Steve Benen: PolitiFact Finds Its Pants On Fire

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

I would have hoped for a “Pants on Fire” rating, but would have settled for at least a “False” conclusion. But the House Majority Leader can make a claim that’s the polar opposite of reality and it’s “half true”? Seriously? In theory, I’m not reflexively opposed to the idea of websites fact-checking important claims made by political figures, but if you’re going to have the word “fact” in your name, you have a responsibility to get the details right. And too often, PolitiFact just isn’t good at its job.

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President Barack Obama listens during a health care reform meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Aug. 7, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Greg Sargent: The GOP’s Fundamental Miscalculation About ObamaCare

What if Republicans — in their drive to repeal and even defund Obamacare — are making the same mistake they made in 2012 about the economy? Last year, Republicans gambled that high public dissatisfaction with Obama’s economic performance meant majorities had concluded that the President had been an abject failure, meaning there was simply no chance he’d be reelected. Instead, exit polls suggested voters didn’t hold Obama to blame for the economy in high enough numbers to ensure his defeat. One possible explanation — advanced by Ron Brownstein, yours truly and others — is that despite their disappointment, they found the sluggishness of the recovery understandable, given the circumstances, and saw the election as a nuanced choice between sticking with a disappointing status quo and a worse alternative. Republicans appeared caught off guard by this.

A similar miscalculation may be guiding the current GOP drive to repeal Obamacare — and the conservative drive to shut down the government to force its defunding.  polls that offer a more nuanced range of options — such as changing the law or repealing parts of it — find only minority support for the GOP position of full repeal. This pattern has been clear for years now. Meanwhile, polls that ask directly whether Republicans should keep blocking the law find majority opposition to that. It seems reasonable to surmise that dissatisfaction with the law may not necessarily translate into broad support for getting rid of it entirely (let alone replacing it with nothing). As in 2012, voters may be taking a longer, more nuanced view than Republicans think.

More here

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President Barack Obama meets with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in the State Dining Room, on Aug. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Jonathan Capehart: Blacks Could Rock The Vote In 2014 – If They Vote

There was a line in Dan Balz’s terrific analysis of the Republican Party’s political dilemma that kind of bugged me. Not because he was wrong, but because he could be easily disproven. All that’s needed is for black folks to vote. During the 2012 presidential election, Republicans certainly thought past patterns would prevail. Specifically, they thought the coalition of minorities and women, many of whom were first-time voters, wouldn’t return to the polls for two reasons. First, there was a strong belief that because those first-time voters didn’t have a tradition of voting, many of them would stay home on Election Day. Second, there was an even stronger belief that President Obama’s coalition was so disillusioned by what their guy was unable to achieve that they would be too demoralized to vote. Wrong and wrong, again.

Blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show a significant increase between the 2008 and 2012 elections in the likelihood of voting (from 64.7 percent to 66.2 percent). The 2012 increase in voting among blacks continues what has been a long-term trend: since 1996, turnout rates have risen 13 percentage points to the highest levels of any recent presidential election. A House of Representatives returned to Democratic control and the Democratic majority hanging on in the Senate would allow Obama to get his agenda through and get something done for the American people. All that’s required is for the 2014 electorate to be less white than it has ever been.

More here

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President Barack Obama gestures during a roundtable discussion with Hispanic print and web media in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Aug. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Barack Obama talks with members of the 2012 Summer White House intern class before a group photo in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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01
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama talks with Coach Geno Auriemma in the Blue Room of the White House prior to an event to honor the NCAA Champion University of Connecticut Huskies and their 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, July 31 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:15: President Obama meets with a group of bipartisan members of Congress

3:45: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of the Republic of Yemen

5:55: Hosts a reception for the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

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Jason Linkins: What If Ron Fournier Can’t Read (great response to Fournier’s BS)

Suffice it to say, Ron Fournier is wrong and I am right. Also, Greg Sargent is right,Brendan Nyhan is right, John Sides is right, Jonathan Bernstein is right, and historian George Edwards is right. If you are harboring a belief that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used “fireside chats” to overcome political opposition, you are not remembering that correctly. It’s very pretty to think that, but you’re wrong. And that will just as true tomorrow as it is today, full stop.

Fournier, in his most recent attempt, titled “What If Obama Can’t Lead?,” seems to be rather upset at being accused of supporting what Sargent calls the “Green Lantern Theory” of presidential power. He simply believes that “great presidents overcome great hurdles,” and that’s that. Once you’ve established “greatness,” then all hurdles are defeated. If hurdles remain, then you’ve not established “greatness,” no matter how many hurdles you’ve previously overcome. (And to be sure, Obama has overcome quite a number of those.) I’m afraid that Fournier doesn’t have much of a clue as to the process by which these obstacles are surmounted. And he’s opted to simply pant with extreme impatience, rather than undertaking an exploration as to how this process works. He proceeds from the premise that at one point in history, there were presidents, and at other points in history, stuff happened that was possibly attributable to those presidents. Rather than taking a searching inventory of the relevant history or undertaking an effort to understand the political science, he attributes the fact that “Presidents did stuff” to a hazy concept called “leadership” and proceeds to conclude that if a president isn’t successfully “doing some stuff” then that president “can’t lead.”

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Republican IRS Hearing Fails To Deliver On Claims Of White House Link

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Tara Culp-Ressler: The First State That Tried To Defund Planned Parenthood Is Officially Giving Up

After a legal battle that has stretched over the course of two years, the state of Indiana has agreed to put an end to its efforts to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana was the first state that attempted to target the national women’s health organization by blocking it from receiving state-level Medicaid dollars for the services it provides to low-income women.

In 2011, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) signed a law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding simply because it is an abortion provider — even though that money actually funds general health screenings for thousands of low-income women, not abortions. But those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Multiple courts have determined that states aren’t allowed to discriminate against qualified Medicaid providers simply because of their stance on abortion rights, saying that low-income women deserve the freedom to choose their own doctors.

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James Fallows: A False Equivalence Classic

The 44th president, like his 43 predecessors, believes that the United States should honor its sovereign debt, as part of maintaining the “full faith and credit of the United States.” He also believes that the policy on government spending first applied under George Washington and in force since then should still be the policy now: once Congress has voted programs or benefits into law, then the government is legally and morally obligated to carry out those programs, until and unless they are repealed.*

To which the other “side” to the dispute replies: Who cares! We don’t like you or your programs, and to prove it we’re willing to risk a default on the national debt. What’s going on now is more like the 1970s-era hijackers Brendan Koerner describes in his recent book, who would threaten to blow up the plane unless they got the ride to Cuba they wanted. Or, if you want a less violent analogy, it’s like me walking into a restaurant, ordering and enjoying a meal, and then when I finished just tearing up the check and saying that I was “digging in my heels” about whether I should pay.

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Greg Sargent: Ostrich Punditry Refuses To reckon With Reality Of Today’s GOP (another fantastic rebuttal to Fournier’s BS)

Now that President Obama has proposed tax reform that would lower corporate tax rates and provide for new stimulus spending — which Republicans have flatly rejected — it has renewed the seemingly endless, intractable debate over the causes of gridlock and failure to compromise in Washington. There is no prominent commentator who is more determined to blame both sides for what is happening than Ron Fournier, so his latest explanation for what ails us is worth a response.

Advice such as this seems deliberately designed to be impossible to meet. Whatever Obama does, the pundit can simply respond with, “not enough; do more of it, or do it more effectively.” After all, Obama is already doing some of the things Fournier wants him to do: He is holding discussions with GOP lawmakers in hopes of enticing them to break away from the leadership/Tea Party alliance’s hostility to compromise on the budget, infrastructure spending, and other matters.

If anything, it’s punditry such as Fournier’s that constitutes a surrender of sorts. It’s not enough to claim Obama’s legacy will inevitably seen as a failure  to overcome GOP intransigence (should that happen), because history isn’t fair. The question is, shouldthat be the case, and would blaming Obama for failing to overcome it be a reasonable and accurate assessment?

More here

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President Barack Obama disembarks Air Force One upon his arrival at Mansfield Air National Guard Base in Mansfield, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama samples fudge offered by Squirrel’s Den fudge shop owner LaDonna Secrist, left, during a stop in Mansfield, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Michelleriffic Day! :D

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10
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama greets departing Associate Counsel to the President Alison J. “Ali” Nathan, left, Meg Satterthwaite, and their twin sons Oliver and Nathan, in the Outer Oval Office, July 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Daily Presidential Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11:0: The President meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

1:00: Michelle Obama delivers remarks to mayors and other local officials engaged in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties

2:0: The President awards the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal; The First Lady also attends

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Knox News: Makenna Hurd’s tasty banana muffins got her through the White House door. While she was there, the 9-year-old delivered something extra: Hugs for President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

…. Makenna earned the invitation by being one of the winners of a recipe challenge that is part of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to promote healthy eating.

“I’m at the White House!” exclaimed Makenna, who has Down syndrome.

…. As news photographers jostled to record the scene, Obama squatted down by Makenna’s seat and thanked her for coming. Makenna thanked him back, threw her arms around his neck and gave him a hug.

Her mother, Amanda Hurd, who watched with tears in her eyes, was so caught up in the moment that she forgot to pull out her own camera and take photos.

“I was too busy soaking in the fact that my daughter was hugging the president,” Hurd said.

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USA Today: This morning, President Obama meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to talk about the major immigration bill now pending in the U.S. House.

The bill would increase border security and provide a path to citizenship for some 11 million people who are already in the country illegally.

The Obama administration is also releasing a report Wednesday arguing that an overhaul of the immigration system would strengthen the economy, create more jobs, increase worker productivity, and decrease budget deficits.

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This exchange is worth the read. This is how STUPID Republicans are and their stupidity will kill thousands of women

Jennifer Bendery: Texas State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R), the author of the radically anti-abortion bill making its way through the Texas Legislature this week, argued for hours on Tuesday that lawmakers should support her bill because of its strong protections for a person’s “pre-born life.” But back in 2007, she made the case against treating the unborn as people — at least, when it comes to qualifying for health care services. During a House debate on an appropriations bill that year, Laubenberg, a staunch conservative, put forward an amendment that would require expectant mothers to wait three months before they could begin receiving prenatal and perinatal care under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a program that helps cover uninsured children in low-income families.

Laubenberg’s amendment drew criticism from Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia, who said the change would mean that more than 95,000 children, in utero, would be kicked out of the CHIP program. As the two sparred over whether that was true — Anchia cited CHIP data from hospitals, Laubenberg alleged it was “misinformation” — Anchia asked if Laubenberg recognized those in-utero babies as people. “You do know, don’t you, that these are U.S. citizens?” Anchia asked. “But they’re not born yet,” Laubenberg said.

Laubenberg’s response drew a look of shock from Democratic Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who could be seen standing next to Anchia during the exchange. Anchia also appeared to relish the moment as he pressed Laubenberg that she was now arguing against treating a fetus as a person. “That’s the whole point, see?” Anchia said. “You have an anti-life amendment.” Laubenberg fired back that there is “no one more pro-life” in the House than her, and again said Anchia’s data was wrong. Still, something he said must have rattled her because she pulled down her amendment. “I will be back,” Laubenberg said as she prepared to leave the podium. “But right now, out of consideration for the body, I will pull this amendment down.”

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Well, hellooooo Governor Transvaginal Probe

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2012 National Medal of Arts:

Herb Alpert * Lin Arison * Joan Myers * Renée Fleming * Ernest Gaines * Ellsworth Kelly * Tony Kushner * George Lucas * Elaine May * Laurie Olin * Allen Toussaint * Washington Performing Arts Society, Washington, DC

2012 National Humanities Medal:

Edward L. Ayers * William G. Bowen * Jill Ker Conway * Natalie Zemon Davis * Frank Deford * Joan Didion * Robert Putnam¸* Marilynne Robinson¸* Kay Ryan * Robert B. Silvers * Anna Deavere Smith¸* Camilo José Vergara

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More Americans still rightfully angrier at George Bush over the state of the economy than Pres. Barack Obama

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Jared Bernstein: First, “not hurting” isn’t the same as “helping.” But more important, it is hurting. Real GDP growth was only 1.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, with the government sector subtracting 0.9 percent (that’s percentage points) from the growth rate. That’s not all sequestration, of course, but it is implicated.

Catherine Rampell also has a very useful bit of analysis over at the NYT, showing job impacts. As many have, she notes that while public sector jobs have been declining for years now, federal government job losses accelerated in March when the sequester hit; they’re down 40,000 since then.

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Becca Aaronson: After more than 10 hours of debate, the House voted 98-49 to tentatively approve the abortion regulations in House Bill 2, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks and add regulations to abortion providers and facilities that opponents argue would effectively eliminate access to abortion in Texas. The House must approve the bill again on another calendar day before it will be sent to the Senate. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, urged lawmakers to realize that no one is “pro-abortion,” and expressed discontent that some supporters of the bill had labeled opponents of the legislation “baby killers.” She said that the question is not when life begins but rather, “It’s a question of decisions that have to be made along the way.”

Howard said that during the regular session, a bipartisan group of lawmakers came together to increase financing for family planning services, which decrease maternal deaths, infant deaths and unplanned pregnancies. “What we’re talking about here is going backwards,” she said. “It’s embarrassing that we’re doing this.”

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Michael Tomasky: There’s an assumption embedded in the argument that no one disputes: namely, that whites will always be as conservative as they are now and will always vote Republican in the same numbers they do now. This assumption is wrong. White people—yep, even working-class white people—are going to get less conservative in coming years, so the Republicans’ hopes of building a white-nationalist party will likely be dashed in the future even by white people themselves.

Everyone knows and concedes all this. And everyone counters it by saying that the Republicans will just goose the less-educated white vote. As I noted above, everyone agrees that that vote is theirs for the goosing. But what if it isn’t? Back in March, the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute released a big poll on immigration. Those findings are interesting as far as they go, but the questions and results went beyond that. It’s the first poll I’ve seen that breaks the white working class into four distinct age groups (65-plus, 50-64, 30-49, 18-29) and asks respondents attitudes about a broad range of social issues. And guess what? White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!

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From Monday:

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Fantastic takedown of Sean Trende’s “GOP WILL BE SAVED BY MISSING WHITE VOTERS” drivel; using FACTS

ThinkProgress: As GOP House members continue their Kamikaze mission to scuttle the immigration reform bill, many political observers are wondering why. After all, isn’t it obvious that Republicans need more minority, particularly Hispanic support, and that therefore their self-interest should lead them to support a reasonable bill? Karl Rove thinks so. But lots and lots of Republicans dissent from that analysis, preferring to put their faith in a group they’re much more comfortable with: white voters. The most influential empirical analysis supporting this view was recently published by Sean Trende in a four part series on RealClearPolitics. Trende’s analysis is built around the idea of “missing white voters.”

What he means by this is that, given the estimated number of white voters in 2008 (derived from exit polls) and the natural increase in white eligible voters between 2008 and 2012 there should have been far more white voters than there actually were (again, estimated from the exit polls). He labels the difference between his projected and actual numbers of white voters as “missing” white voters. He goes on to say that “[i]f these white voters had decided to vote, the racial breakdown of the electorate would have been 73.6 percent white, 12.5 percent black, 9.5 percent Hispanic and 2.4 percent Asian — almost identical to the 2008 numbers.” Get it? The only real demographic change of importance between 2008 and 2012 was all those white voters who didn’t show up.

What’s wrong with this analysis? Plenty. Start with Trende’s projected natural increase in white voters—around 1.5 million voters, based on an assumed 55 percent turnout rate of additional white eligible voters. This implies that Trende was using an estimate of around 2.7 million additional eligible whites between 2008 and 2012. That’s wrong: Census data show an increase of only 1.5 million white eligibles. At Trende’s assumed 55 percent turnout rate, that translates into only 825,000 additional white voters from “natural increase.” So: GOP phone home! Your missing white voters have been found, and it turns out they weren’t really missing. They were simply sitting out a relatively low turnout election along with a large number of their minority counterparts. They may be back next time if it’s a higher turnout election — but then again so will a lot of minority voters. Bottom line: your demographic dilemma remains the same. The mix of voters is changing fast to your disadvantage and there is no cavalry of white voters waiting in the wings to rescue you.

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President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Situation Room of the White House, July 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Broccoli Loving Day Courtesy Of President Barack Obama! :D

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