President Obama waves as he prepares to depart the White House – he is heading to Chicago where he will attend a campaign event for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Il, and deliver remarks on the economy at Northwestern University
President Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel
President Obama’s hair is definitely grayer these days, and no doubt trying to manage foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder accounts for at least half of those gray hairs. (The Tea Party can claim the other half.) But having had a chance to spend an hour touring the horizon with him in the White House Map Room late Friday afternoon, it’s clear that the president has a take on the world, born of many lessons over the last six years, and he has feisty answers for all his foreign policy critics.
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. The United States is not going to be the air force of Iraqi Shiites or any other faction. Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.” Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
This made me smile – Knoller has been getting epic push-back on Twitter in recent days for his shilling, and his obsession with the President’s vacation. So much so, he now has an army of Teabaggers following him (just check any of the comments under his tweets). So, maybe the pressure actually left him feeling obliged to tweet at least one bit of honesty:
Pete Souza: “The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.” Aug. 9, 2011
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On This Day – Pete Souza: “We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” Aug. 9, 2010
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MoooOOOooorning everyone! Another rushed R&S, will try to catch up through the day.
This essay will require a bit of explanation of the term “messiah”.
Living in a predominantly Christian nation, many of us have a particular notion of the “Messiah”. That messiah, hammered into us in Sunday school and Mass, was Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, coequal with God, coeternal, of the same substance, incarnating in human flesh to offer the perfect sacrifice to atone for Adam’s sin. In the Christian conception, the Messiah was the willing sacrifice to reconcile sinful mankind with God.
However, it may surprise you to know, that Jesus was a Jew. He lived in a Jewish culture, believed in a Jewish eschatology, did not want to change a “jot of the Law”. And Judaism has a very different view of the Messiah.
A quick and dirty precis of Jewish views of the Messiah follows.
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke again today by phone about the situation in Gaza. The President underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the United States’ serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities.
The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.
On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Henry Healy, the President’s distant cousin, after arriving in Moneygall, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
10:30 AM CT: The President departs Chicago
1:30 EDT: Arrives White House
3:0 EDT: Signs H.R. 1209, an act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders for conducting the bombings of Tokyo, and H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act
3:30 EDT: The President will make a personnel announcement (see below)
And the very lovely news: the video will be in the new Barack Obama Visitor Center in Moneygall – thank you Henry Healy!
(Not sure if the video is watchable in all YouTube regions??)
Remember, if you would like to send any election/inauguration items to Henry for the Visitor Center, just email me and I’ll pass on his address – thanks a gazillion for the wonderful response so far.
USA Today: Obama’s day: A new budget director, housing secretary
President Obama pulls a Cabinet switch on Friday.
The president will nominate Shaun Donovan, now the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to be the new director of the Office of Management and Budget.
To replace Donovan as HUD secretary, Obama will nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
Obama will make the announcements on Friday afternoon, after he returns to the White House from Chicago. The president spent Thursday night in the Windy City after headlining a pair of Democratic fundraisers.
Sun Times: Obama in Chicago: “I need a Democratic Senate” (Transcript)
At the first of two fundraisers in Chicago on Thursday, President Barack Obama told donors “I need a Democratic Senate” or else his agenda for the last two terms of his term – including immigration reform – will not succeed. Obama said he is worried about people not voting in November:
…… I need a Congress that works. And that means I need a Democratic Senate. And it would be helpful to have a Democratic House. Now, you all know this so I’m preaching to the choir. But here’s the challenge we have: Democrats are not perfect and it turns out one of our great imperfections is we have a congenital tendency not to vote in midterm elections.
I don’t know what it is. Presidential elections, we’re all in. In 2008, you all went crazy; 2012, you still went crazy. High turnout, we’re motivated, donors are involved, people are active, folks are knocking on doors, people making phone calls. And then the midterm comes and we fall asleep.
That cannot happen in this election because the stakes are too high. And I say this mindful that in every election somebody says how high the stakes are. But think about what’s at stake right now. Think about it. If we do not hang on to the Senate and make gains in the House we may not get immigration reform done, which means we could have another three, four years in which we’re being deprived of talent we’re training here in the United States – they go back home and start businesses someplace else. There are Michael Polskys right now in universities that have the possibility of creating businesses here but may end up going back home because we have a broken immigration system. That’s what’s at stake.
NJ.com: Obamacare enrollment drives down NJ’s uninsurance rate by 38 percent
The first look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact on New Jersey reveals the percentage of uninsured people is on track to reach its lowest level in nearly a quarter of a century, according to a new report released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The proportion of uninsured adults decreased 38 percent from September to early March, according to the foundation. That decline is likely to accelerate, knowing that many people waited until the last minute to beat the March 30 enrollment deadline.
“These findings suggest that uninsurance in New Jersey is at its lowest level since 1990,” according to the report produced by the foundation and the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.
The survey results suggest that many concerns about the law — from Gov. Chris Christie hand-off approach to its implementation, to the Obama administration’s troubled launch of the HealthCare.Gov website — did not create insurmountable roadblocks.
What’s happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party’s radical anti-government philosophy.
Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in persuading the party’s activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas.
This is a mutually co-opting dynamic that is becoming smoother. The “establishment” adopts uniformly extremist policies that would have been unthinkable for a national Republican party two decades ago. The “Tea Party wing” contents itself in the knowledge that the party declines any more to nominate raving loons for election to the national legislature. My guess is that this modus vivendi will provide some empty conflict entertainment over the next two election cycles, but it all will be moon pigeons for the punditocracy to marvel at. The radical conservative philosophy has captured the infrastructure of the Republican party, root and branch, local and national. It’s just wearing shoes again now.
President Obama has received a fair amount of criticism from the left about the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The president vowed to close the prison, but after five years in office, it remains open.
That’s not for lack of effort. Obama has tried, repeatedly, to pursue the policy that used to enjoy bipartisan support, but Congress – including members of both parties – have placed inflexible restrictions on the administration, preventing progress. In other words, the president hasn’t closed the prison because lawmakers simply won’t let him.
Every time there’s reason to think progress is possible, Congress does what it always does…..
… There’s certainly nothing wrong with being frustrated by the detention facility remaining open, but if you’re blaming the White House, you’re pointing the finger at the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has some uncharacteristically positive words for one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives: the deal struck last year to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
I met Netanyahu last Friday afternoon in his bunkerlike office in Jerusalem. During the course of our discussion, I asked him about the famous “red line” crisis – Obama’s last-minute decision to abort a missile strike and instead negotiate the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile – that colors so much of foreign-policy commentary today.
Netanyahu issued what was for him a full-throated endorsement of an Obama initiative, calling it “the one ray of light in a very dark region.”
It’s not often that GOP Rep. Steve King says anything usefully revelatory on immigration reform. Today, however, he went on to the House floor and, in just over a minute, unmasked the truth about the Republican Party’s position on immigration — a position that House Republican leaders have tried to obscure for months.
King cited Chuck Schumer’s recent claim that the Congressman from Iowa is an “extreme outlier” on the issue. King then helpfullly pointed out that in fact, his position is indistinguishable from the Republican Party position, while deriding the Democratic position as akin to socialism…
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) published an orotund statement predicated on a lie, betting that Hispanic Americans are incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.
According to Boehner, President Obama’s recent designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument — lands with deep historical and archeological significance to Hispanics and Native Americans — demonstrated “the president’s fondness for unilateral action [that] has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation’s borders and reforming our immigration system.”
Now, to be fair, the Boehner-led House is so chaotic that it resembles more a gang of yammering ruffians than a serious legislative body. So there is a possibility, even a small chance, that Boehner doesn’t even know what is said in his name through his office’s communications office.
Even so, what is the best case scenario? Incompetence instead of deception? Rogue staff? After a litany of objectively dubious statements about immigration reform in the past, it’s hard to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt.
The standard argument — really, the only argument — against raising the minimum wage is that it will lead to job loss. The argument is beloved by die-hard opponents of raising the wage because it provides them with a veneer, however flimsy, of concern about the welfare of the working poor.
Economic studies have repeatedly shown that argument to be spurious. Now the latest survey of 350,000 small businesses from Paychex, a payroll provider company, and IHS, a business analysis firm, provides strong indications that the exact opposite may be true.
In April, the Paychex/IHS survey, which looks at employment in small businesses, found that the state with the highest percentage of annual job growth was Washington — the state with the highest minimum wage in the nation, $9.32 an hour. The metropolitan area with the highest percentage of annual job growth was San Francisco — the city with the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $10.74.
This suggests that the relationship between a high minimum wage and job creation needn’t be inverse. If anything, it suggests that relationship is direct.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks with President of the Harvey Milk Foundation Stuart Milk, next to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, after they unveiled the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp at its dedication ceremony at the White House
Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, fourth from right, and others, applaud during the unveiling ceremony of the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Joining Stroman, from left are, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Stuart Milk, Founder and President, Harvey Milk Foundation, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. On the day he would have turned 84 years old, Harvey Milk, the San Francisco supervisor and gay activist gunned down at City Hall in 1978, had a postal stamp in his honor unveiled at the White House
Haven’t read the Ta-Nehisi Coates reparations piece yet but I’m already convinced he’s right just because of caliber of humans disputing it
Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Great Society and the civil rights push. But if conservative hero Barry Goldwater had had his way, government would have stayed out of it.
…. I like the way today’s conservatives rush to point out, as they will in this comment thread, that most of the opposition to the civil rights bill was Democratic, as I noted above. There’s no denying that. But the more relevant point for today is this: Over the next few years, those people left the Democratic Party. They knew there was no place for them there.
In today’s GOP, however, the successors to the Richard Russells and Harry Byrds have been welcomed with open arms. And Barry Goldwater is not merely one guy among many guys they kind of like from the past. He is conservatism’s great hero! And 1964 is thought of as a shining moment in their movement’s history! And here we are, 50 years later, with the Republican Party looking as if it just might nominate for president a guy (Rand Paul) who once admitted that he’d have opposed the Civil Rights Act and basically was still against it (and Paul is one of the better Republicans on race!). Half a century, and society has changed for the better in amazing ways. But one of our two parties is still dedicated to fighting it.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Irish President Mary McAleese and Dr. Martin McAleese during a courtesy call in the Drawing Room at the President’s residence in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a hurley as Taoiseach Enda Kenny looks on
Arriving in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama greets local residents on Main Street in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets local residents in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama poses for a photograph with a young girl during a walk along Main Street in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama watches as First Lady Michelle Obama draws a pint at Ollie Hayes’ Pub in Moneygall (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama embraces Liz Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for European Affairs, at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011. Sherwood-Randall was blown over by strong winds earlier in the day and injured her wrist (Photo by Pete Souza)
Thousands of people gather at College Green in Dublin, Ireland, to welcome President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, May 23, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
People cheer as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are introduced during an Irish celebration at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama leave the stage with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife, Fionnuala Kenny, at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets a little girl following his remarks at College Green in Dublin (Photo by Pete Souza)
Addicting Info: Ted Cruz Tries To Use Facebook To Prove No One Likes Obamacare And It Blows Up In His Face
The Tea Party crusade against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit a huge snag this week. On March 24, 2014, Texas Tea Party Senator, Ted Cruz, decided to put up a ‘quick poll,’ about the ACA on his facebook page. Problem? The Koch brothers don’t control the conversation on social media, the people do.
Ask a question, get an answer. The question Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz asked on facebook was simple. Are you better off now than you were before the ACA, also called Obamacare, was signed into law, four years ago? Nearly 40,000 comments later, the resounding answer from people all across the country was YES.
NYT: New G.O.P. Bid To Limit Voting In Swing States
Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls. The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote. Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.
If your electoral hopes depend on fewer people voting you are doing something wrong.
Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.
Want to register to vote in Arizona and Kansas? Be prepared to show your papers nyti.ms/1gRpIfs
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision allowed a number of mostly Southern states to alter their election laws without the prior approval once required from the Justice Department. A few weeks later, free of the mandate and emboldened by a Republican supermajority, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on voting.
Tara Culp-Ressler: Survivors Of Domestic Violence Now Have Better Access To Obamacare Benefits
Survivors of domestic violence who are living separately from an abusive spouse will now be able to claim tax credits to help them afford an Obamacare plan, thanks to new rules being developed by the federal government. Before the change, these individuals were locked out of federal assistance for health care unless they filed joint taxes with their abuser. Obamacare’s tax credits are intended to ensure that insurance plans on the new marketplaces are affordable for the Americans who may otherwise struggle to pay for health care. But in order for married people to qualify, the health law requires them to file their taxes jointly. If they file separately, they lose out on the federal assistance altogether. Domestic violence prevention advocates argue that policy ends up harming victims of abuse —
particularly because domestic violence is more concentrated among low-income households, and the victims who are financially dependent on their abusers are less likely to be able to extricate themselves from the relationship. Last week, a group of 79 lawmakers, led by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), urged the Treasury Department to change this policy and safeguard victims of domestic violence. It only took a few days for Treasury officials to agree. “For victims of domestic abuse, contacting a spouse for purposes of filing a joint return may pose a risk of injury or trauma or, if the spouse is subject to a restraining order, may be legally prohibited. Your concerns are consistent to those expressed to us by numerous others in public comments and meetings,” the Treasury Department acknowledged on Wednesday in a written response to Slaughter and Doggett, explaining that the administration will work on finalizing a new rule on this issue.
Pete Souza: Pres Obama talks on phone to Pres Putin from Saudi Arabia Friday night
Fareed Zakaria: Obama Pursues The Right Response To Russia’s 19th-Century Behavior
This is not an academic debate. The best way to deal with Russia’s aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine and national interest-based foreign policy that will be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently this week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression to the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008. That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery; hundreds were killed, nearly 200,000 displaced.
Yet the response was essentially nothing. This time, it has been much more serious. Some of this difference is in the nature of the stakes, but it might also have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia’s actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such. You can see a similar pattern with Iran. The Bush administration largely pressured that country bilaterally. The Obama administration was able to get much more effective pressure because it presented Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to global norms of nonproliferation, persuaded the other major powers to support sanctions, enacted them through the United Nations and thus ensured that they were comprehensive and tight. This is what leadership looks like in the 21st century.
Guardian: Kerry To Meet Russia’s Lavrov For Ukraine Talks In Paris On Sunday
Halfway home from Saudi Arabia, US secretary of state John Kerry has abruptly changed course. He will now stay in Europe for talks on Ukraine. The news followed reports from Russia that Kerry had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, by phone, a day after President Vladimir Putin called President Barack Obama. The Russian foreign ministry said Washington had initiated the call between Kerry and Lavrov, adding that they discussed Ukraine and plans for further contact.
Flying from Riyadh to Ireland for a refuelling stop, Kerry decided to turn around after speaking to Lavrov from the plane. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki confirmed on Saturday that Kerry had arrived in Paris and that the meeting would be held on Sunday.
Kate Nocera: Univision Works Overtime To Get Latinos Enrolled In Obamacare
The Obama administration has been working overtime in recent months to enroll uninsured Latinos — one of the groups most likely to be uninsured — but it’s not just the White House making a concerted effort. For more than a year, the Spanish-language television network Univision has embarked on their own company-wide effort to get Latinos signed up on the exchanges, working through newscasts, special programming, advertising partnerships, and a dedicated health care website. Univision has not only been providing information to their viewers as to how to sign up but openly encouraging them to do so.
The network’s “empowerment initiatives” team — which focuses primarily on health and educational programming — began looking for partners to help their audience find coverage last year. Univision ultimately went with the California Endowment and the Ford Foundation, launching in earnest last April. The company makes no bones about what they were trying to do. Empowerment Initiatives Director Stephen Keppel told BuzzFeed that the company thinks “it’s better to have health insurance than not to have it” and because of the high number of uninsured Latinos, it was an important initiative for them to take on.
BBC: Vladmir Putin: The Rebuilding Of ‘Soviet’ Russia
On 16 August 1999, the members of Russia’s parliament – the State Duma – met to approve the candidacy of a prime minister. They heard the candidate’s speech, they asked him a few questions, and they dutifully confirmed him in the position. This was President Boris Yeltsin’s fifth premier in 16 months, and one confused party leader got the name wrong. He said he would support the candidacy of Stepashin – the surname of the recently sacked prime minister – rather than that of his little-known successor, before making an embarrassing correction.
If even leading Duma deputies couldn’t remember the new prime minister’s name, you couldn’t blame the rest of the world if it didn’t pay much attention to his speech. He was unlikely to head the Russian government for more than a couple of months anyway, so why bother? That man was a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, and he has been in charge of the world’s largest country, as president or prime minister, ever since. Few realised it at the time, because few were listening, but that speech provided a blueprint for pretty much everything he has done, for how he would re-shape a country that was perilously close to total collapse.
Scott Keyes: It Saves Millions To Simply Give Homeless People A Place To Live
It is cheaper to give homeless people a home than it is to leave them on the streets. That’s not just the opinion of advocates working to end homelessness, nor is it the opinion of homeless people themselves. It is a fact that has been borne out by studies across the country, from Florida to Colorado and beyond. The latest analysis to back up this fact comes out of Charlotte, where researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte examined a recently constructed apartment complex that was oriented towards homeless people.
Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units. Each resident is required to contribute 30 percent of his or her income, which includes any benefits like disability, veterans, or Social Security, toward rent. The rest of the housing costs, which total approximately $14,000 per person annually, are covered by a mix of local and federal government grants, as well as private donors. In the first year alone, researchers found that Moore Place saved taxpayers $1.8 million. These savings comes from improvements in two primary areas: health care and incarceration.
Sara Fischer: Biden: Undocumented Immigrants ‘Already American Citizens’
Vice President Joe Biden echoed the West Wing’s “we can’t wait” mantra Thursday, telling a crowd at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Summit that “undocumented aliens” are already American citizens. “You know, 11 million people that are living in the shadows. I believe they’re already Americans citizens,” Biden said. “These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully. And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”
Citing the contribution Hispanics have made to the American economy, Biden stressed the importance of passing immigration reform sooner rather than later, arguing, “It’s the single most significant thing we can do. It’s a game-changer financially for the country.”“Just this one act alone, if we pass the Senate bill, can extend Social Security solvency by two years.” Biden said. “Even Republicans think we should pass the Senate bill,” he later added.
Chris Geidner: Federal Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Texas Abortion Restrictions
A federal appeals court rejected Planned Parenthood’s challenge to Texas’ restrictive abortion law passed last summer, save for one small exception. Thursday’s unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision from October finding two provisions in the law unconstitutional.
Planned Parenthood challenged two provisions: One required physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges “at a hospital no more than thirty miles from the location where the abortion is provided.” The second provision limited medication abortions by requiring that, with few exceptions, abortion-inducing drugs only be used when they “comply with the protocol authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
Michael Cohen: Obama’s Not-Another-Cold-War-Vision: Don’t Hate The Players – Play The Game
From the day Barack Obama took office, his approach to American foreign policy has vacillated between a seemingly irreconcilable set of impulses. There’s been the sentimentalist agitating for reductions in nuclear weapons, calling for a more modest approach – and the commander-in-chief ramping up the US drone war, surging in Afghanistan, going far beyond his mandate to affect regime change in Libya. There was the lawyer and internationalist drawing a redline on Syria’s use of chemical weapons – and the hard-headed realist who, to date, has assiduously avoided any policy that would risk miring the US in that country’s bloody civil war. Yesterday in Brussels, as Obama spoke about the proper response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea, those contending instincts were once again on stark display.
Yet rarely has Obama so effectively navigated the middle ground between them – or quite so lovingly embraced Europe as he cast a distinctly icy glare at Vladimir Putin. In the process, the American president offered perhaps the clearest sense of his own vision on international relations: one that upholds the international system for its role in creating a world of greater peace and security – and explaining why, in an era of retrenchment, that system matters more than ever.In Obama’s formulation, peace is a product of universalist ideals, yes. But it is sustained and reinforced by an international system of laws and norms.
Betsy Phillips: Creationism Is Not Being Ignored On ‘Cosmos’ — It’s The Focus
Danny Faulkner, a “scientist” working for the same group that runs Kentucky’s creation museum was complaining last week that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey doesn’t address creationism.Actually, Tyson is deliberately and straightforwardly giving a whole lot of time to creationism. Why did we have to sit through the history of the eyeball? Creationists love to argue that the complexity of the eyeball disproves evolution. Note how he talked specifically about how the eyeball isn’t actually this perfect mechanism, but something that works well enough for what we need it for, but not as well as it does in fish — the whole idea that the eyeball is a perfect, too-complex thing is a creationist argument.
Another example: Why did Tyson spend so much time explaining the similarities and differences in how polar bears have evolved through natural selection vs. how dogs have changed in the time we’ve been breeding them for certain traits? Because creationists acknowledge that changes within species happen. They just like to pretend like one kind of organism couldn’t really have brought forth another kind of organism. Tyson isn’t ignoring creationism. Creationists wish Tyson were ignoring creationism. Tyson is instead standing on creationism’s home turf and playing by their rules.Tyson is taking creationists’ claims deadly seriously, and showing all the ways they’re wrong.
Jon Emont: Can Israeli Business Leaders Push Netanyahu Toward A Palestinian Peace Deal?
In late January, the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to appear on scores of billboards in Tel Aviv. The caption read: “A strong state signs the deal. Bibi only you can do it!” The message—to work out a peace agreement with the Palestinians—was idealistic. But the money was all business. The 1 million shekel (around $300,000) advertising campaign was paid for by the Israeli wing of Breaking the Impasse, an alliance of more than 150 Israeli corporate executives. The campaign comes at a crucial time. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is one month away from his April 29 deadline to release a framework agreement that will establish the U.S. government’s principles for a final deal.
After nine months of discussion there is widespread worry that the framework agreement will be dead on arrival. Kerry’s demands from the Palestinians might cause Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to withdraw from talks or lose his authority to negotiate. At the same time, Kerry’s demands for Israeli concessions over settlements or East Jerusalem might lead the Israeli right to pressure Netanyahu to withdraw from the talks. Israelis are pessimistic about the peace process, and Netanyahu has little domestic incentive to make concessions to spur negotiations. This worries Israeli business executives. They’re concerned that Israel will face increasing international isolation, including an expanded boycott campaign, if the talks founder. BTI represents these business people. It’s planning a well-funded public campaign to pressure Netanyahu to make concessions and sign a deal.
Katie Zezima: Just How Popular Was Michelle Obama’s Visit To China?
According to a tally by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, photos, videos and stories about Michelle Obama’s visit to China garnered more than 1 billion page views. Yes, that’s billion with a B.It’s probably not too far-fetched of a notion, according to Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “This is really Michelle fever in China,” he said.Cheng said Obama and her family –
her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, traveled with her — showed respect for Chinese traditions and deftly weaved in diplomacy with lighter moments in a way that made the Chinese want to see what she was doing and where she was going. “Chinese do not only see this leader to leader. They see it family to family and in a broader context the respect of the two great countries,” he said. “This is why people got so excited.”
Rebecca S.: Rebecca, a 27 year-old Chicago resident, was denied coverage in 2012 because of her pre-existing condition. Upon being rejected in the private market, Rebecca enrolled in a plan for high-risk individuals that was beyond her price range and didn’t cover many of her health care needs. Now, Rebecca is enrolled in a Silver plan that saves her $1,600 per year compared to her previous coverage and covers the majority of her needs. Rebecca sees her new health insurance as more than just comprehensive coverage at a fair price. She believes enrolling in affordable health care is her chance at the American dream to be young and hardworking without the fear that an accident or illness will derail her dreams.
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Standing on the Colonnade with Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bil signing ceremony in the Red Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks to a podium in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, before making a statement regarding the American auto industry, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama walks away from the podium after delivering a statement regarding the American auto industry in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama and Staff Secretary Lisa Brown on the Colonnade prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bill signing ceremony, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama conducts interviews in the Map Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks towards the Oval Office, after returning to the White House from Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with advisors for a health care implementation meeting in the Oval Office, March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama greets actress Hilary Swank and other guest mentors in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House during an event celebrating Women’s History Month, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama shakes hands with members of the audience following his speech on energy security at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets James Brady in Press Secretary Jay Carney’s West Wing office at the White House, March 30, 2011. Brady, former President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was wounded during the assassination attempt on President Reagan 30 years ago. Brady’s wife Sarah, right, and son Scott, center, joined him for the meeting (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with White House correspondents Bill Plante, CBS News, and Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, in the Upper Press Office of the White House, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama looks out the window of Marine One as he departs the White House South Lawn en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md., for a trip to Vermont, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Marcelle Leahy aboard Air Force One en route to Burlington, Vt., March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is reflected in sunglasses as he greets people on the tarmac following his arrival at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)