President Barack Obama Oval Office listens to Valerie Jarrett during a meeting with senior staff in the Oval Office on Aug. 13, 2009. From left; White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Jarrett, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Assistant to the President Mona Sutphen. Seated at far right is Alyssa Mastromonaco, Director of Scheduling. Photo by Pete Souza
Kathleen O’Brien: Obamacare In NJ: Four Out Of Five Enrollees Have Paid Their Premiums
At least three-quarters of the New Jerseyans who have selected health insurance through the federal marketplace website have followed through by paying their first month’s premium, according to the three companies selling the policies. The state’s rate of paying customers is in line with figures reported across the nation. The figures are seen by some as an important barometer of success in the opening months of coverage.
In New Jersey, an early reading shows the percentage of those who have paid ranges from 75 percent to 90 percent.m”To date, more than 80 percent of enrollees from the federal marketplace have paid their first month’s premiums, said Thomas Vincz, spokesman for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “We expect that number to increase in coming weeks.”
Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again. it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression.
It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010. Government spending worked, helping millions of people who never realized it. And it can work again, whenever lawmakers agree that putting people to work is more important than winning ideological fights.
“You can get killed just for living in your American skin.” — Bruce Springsteen. On Aug. 7, 1930, two young black men were lynched in Marion, Ind. A photographer named Lawrence Beitler had a studio across the street from the lynching tree. He came out and snapped what became an iconic photo, which he made into a postcard and sold. It shows Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith hanging dead and their executioners, faces clearly visible, milling about as if at a picnic. Though authorities possessed this damning photographic evidence, they never arrested anyone for the crime. It was officially attributed to “persons unknown.”
This was not a unique thing. To the contrary, it happened thousands of times. And African-Americans carry this knowledge deep, carry it in blood and sinew, the understanding that the justice system has betrayed us often, smashed our hopes often, denied the value of our lives, often. This knowledge lent a certain tension and poignancy to the wait for a verdict in the Jordan Davis trial last week. Mr. Davis was the black kid shot dead by a white man, Michael Dunn. A guilty verdict would seem to have been a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t. Indeed, the verdict was mystifying.
Mr. Dunn was found guilty on three counts of attempted murder — meaning the three other young men in the SUV with Mr. Davis — but the jury deadlocked on the murder charge. It makes no sense: If Mr. Dunn is guilty of the three charges, how can he not be guilty of the fourth? The jury’s inability to hold him accountable for Mr. Davis’ death only validates African-Americans’ grimmest misgivings about the “just us” system. Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor at Rutgers University, put it as follows on Twitter: “This is not just about jail time. This is about whether white fear legally means more than black life.”
A federal court ruled against the University of Notre Dame on Friday in a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate, the Associated Press reported. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a federal judge’s previous ruling that denied Notre Dame’s request for an injunction to prevent it from complying with the birth control mandate. The court noted in its decision that Notre Dame already notified the administrator of its employee plan as well as the insurer for students that the university would not pay for contraception coverage.
Chicago will be the site of a digital manufacturing institute backed by $70 million in government money and another $250 million of private funding, giving the city, once a factory town, a better chance to re-establish its credentials as a modern maker of things. The decision, to be announced officially Tuesday by President Barack Obama, was hotly anticipated by city and state officials who recognized the opportunity to jump start high-tech manufacturing as a core component of Chicago’s economic vision. The city today, while still home to some manufacturing, is better known for its financial markets and convention business. The idea behind the institute is that manufacturing is being transformed by digital design, which replaces the draftsman’s table with the capacity to work and create in a virtual environment.
BREAKING: President Obama to announce that Chicago will be home to a new research and development institute sun-tim.es/MjKoEu
The city envisions the institute would focus on such projects as the faster and cheaper production of a next-generation aircraft engine; drastically reducing the amount of scrap material associated with small manufacturing runs; and speeding the design process among spread-out suppliers. “This is clearly, without a doubt, one of the most significant things to secure Chicago’s long-term economic future,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a Saturday interview. “It is the best insurance policy you can buy, which is major research capacity.” The $70 million grant will come from the Defense Department. Obama will officially announce the Chicago hub on Tuesday at the White House. The manufacturing initiative follows Obama’s new playbook for dealing with an oppositional Congress unlikely to enact any part of his economic vision. The announcement also delivers on the President’s pledge in his 2013 State of the Union address to set up three new manufacturing institutes from existing government programs.
In the spring of last year, the administration launched the competition. In addition to Chicago’s “Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute,” Obama will announce that Detroit has won an institute of its own focused on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing. The administration set up a pilot site in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2012, and a few weeks ago announced a new institute in Raleigh, N.C. Obama has also pledged to launch four more competitions for new institutes in the coming year in hopes of setting eight institutes in motion without any action by Congress. But Obama’s broader plan is to spur Congress to support the concept. His blueprint calls for a full national network of up to 45 institutes funded in part with new resources approved by lawmakers.
Adam Searing: How NC (Surprisingly) Became A Leader In ACA Enrollment
While North Carolina has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and many politicians continue to complain about the federal health exchange, the roll-out of Obamacare in N.C. tells a far more positive story. North Carolina is enrolling uninsured people at a rate at least twice that of any other state that has refused to set up its own health exchange and refused to expand Medicaid. In short, among states that are dragging their feet on the Affordable Care Act – no advertising campaigns, no speeches by the governor on how important it is for everyone to have access to health care, no Medicaid expansion that guarantees the lowest income workers coverage – North Carolina is by far leading the pack in private plan enrollment. Even with the federal health exchange’s shaky start, N.C. has already enrolled 107,778 uninsured people in private health plans. So what’s going on?
There are several answers. Our success starts with North Carolina’s excellent Medicaid managed-care program, Community Care of North Carolina. Even though Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders declined the federal opportunity to expand Medicaid, N.C. Community Care has provided a natural framework to enroll uninsured people in private health plans. Under Community Care, local doctors, hospitals, health centers, health departments, social service offices, legal service providers and other community leaders have been quietly working together every day, every month and every year for a decade to help people access and use health care. Because of this, North Carolina’s Medicaid program is already a huge success both in delivering great care and containing costs. So, when the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange opened for business, there were already networks with proven records of success in helping people get health care. These organizations jumped right in to the enrollment effort because they work with uninsured families every day and know what a huge benefit this is.
Vladimir Putin has a dream – and for the past two weeks, the world has been helping him to live it. In this dream, Russia is rich again, a place where the reported $51-billion cost of the Winter Olympics in Sochi is no object. It’s a nation of impressive architecture and smiling volunteers who speak English but think like Russians. “Russia – Great, New, Open!” brag the billboards around the Olympic city. (“Open”? Sochi has high fences, surveillance balloons and warships off the coast; every phone call and e-mail is monitored.) Mr. Putin sees a Russia that is once more a global centre of gravity, indispensable on the world stage. Soon, if his plans come to fruition, Moscow will stand as the leader of a new bloc of nations – the Eurasian Union – with borders that look a lot like those of the Soviet empire, whose fall he has openly mourned.
Vladimir Putin also has a nightmare. And this week, it looked a lot like the burning heart of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital where tens of thousands of protesters battled police to bring down their Kremlin-backed, authoritarian government. Dozens died before a tentative truce Friday interrupted the hostilities, but anger remains so high that there is no guarantee it will hold. It’s not just that Mr. Putin fears the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych and the rise of a pro-Western government in Kiev, although that would be a heavy geopolitical blow. He needs Ukraine to take part if his Eurasian Union – currently set to launch next year with only Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus as members – is to look like anything more than a tiny dictators’ club.
AP: Venezuelan Government Cuts Internet Access, Blocks Websites In War Against Student Protesters
The battle for Venezuela is being fought as vigorously online as in the streets, with authorities cutting off the Internet to a clash-torn university city and blocking selected websites and a “walkie-talkie” service widely used by protesters. A local TV reporter in San Cristobal, capital of the western border state of Tachira, said Thursday night that she could hear gunshots as teargas-firing police broke up protests just as they had the night before when Internet service was cut. “We’re still without Internet. And some people don’t have water or electricity either,” said the reporter, Beatriz Font. San Cristobal, home to one private and three public universities, is where the current wave of anti-government demonstrations began on Feb. 2, the fiercest unrest since President Hugo Chavez died last March began.
Later Thursday, the U.S. company Zello told The Associated Press that Venezuela’s state-run telecoms company, CANTV, had just blocked access to the push-to-talk “walkie-talkie” app for smart phones and computers that has been a hugely popular organizing tool for protesters from Egypt to Ukraine. Zello supports up to 600 users on a single channel, and company CEO Bill Moore said it became the No. 1 app in Ukraine on Thursday for both the iOS and Android operating systems. In one day this week, Zello reported more than 150,000 downloads in Venezuela. Some believe Venezuela’s information war, which escalated last week as the government blocked images on Twitter after violence in Caracas claimed three lives, is only just beginning. The protesters are fed up with a catalogue of woes that include rampant inflation, food shortages and one of the world’s highest murder rates.
If a week is a long time in British politics, 24 hours has proven to be a long time in this Ukrainian political crisis. The priority must be to prevent further killing, and all sides must play their part in achieving this. The Ukrainian government has in recent months routinely ignored the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people. So it will take time for trust to be rebuilt across Ukrainian society and it will be hard for that progress to be made even after this crisis ends. That is why it is so important that the EU should continue to support Ukraine as the turmoil in Kiev continues. We must remember that this crisis began in November, when President Yanukovych walked away from an agreement with Europe that would have granted Ukraine access to the EU’s single market.
Yanukovich-allied oligarch, billionaire Rinat Akhmetov issued a statement stressing the need to keep Ukraine “united” nytimes.com/2014/02/23/wor…
The UK government has had a noticeably low profile as the crisis unfolded. But we must recognise that the number of people killed in Ukraine last week is a tragic expression of the gravity of the crisis. The streets of Kiev have revealed a geopolitical fault line between Russia and the West. President Obama was right to say that Ukraine can no longer be seen as part of a “Cold War chess board”. More than 20 years after the Berlin Wall fell we should not see a new era of 20th-century satellite states take hold on the 21st-century European continent. President Putin is known for his zero-sum approach to foreign affairs – but what happens in Ukraine cannot just be about judging what makes sense for Russia. It must be about what works for the people of Ukraine.
Like many of you, our friends, my wife and I have been literally rooted to our chairs as we watched events in our beloved Ukraine roll out, ever since those terrible days in Kyiv last November when Ukrainians began to die because of the brutality of Yanukovych’s Berkut. Since then, many, many more innocents have sacrificed themselves to protest injustice, tryanny and corruption. Ukrainians have been incredibly brave throughout all this. They have withstood freezing cold, Militia attacks, titushki beatings, kidnappings, torture, murder, Berkut Molotov cocktails and finally, an ultimate horror, the cold-blooded, merciless snipers of their own government’s security forces
One little known fact most Americans are not aware of is that Ukraine’s 40 million citizens legally possess more than 2 million private firearms: 400,000 of them are in Kyiv alone. And yet, even in the face of murderous provocation and killings by the police and Berkut, very few of those privately owned firearms were ever raised in anger, even against their tormentors: the ratio of citizens killed to police casualties was over 10 to 1. It tells us that Ukrainians are a people possessing extraordinary restraint and respect for life, because if every private gun in Ukraine had been fired in anger, the dead would be in the many thousands by now.
President Obama meets with actor George Clooney in the Oval Office, Feb. 23, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama listens to staff during a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden discuss the Military Families Campaign with spouses of U.S. military leadership in the Map Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama poses for a photograph with Ambassador Jacinth Lorna Henry-Martin of St. Kitts and Nevis during an ambassador credentialing ceremony in the Oval Office, Feb. 23, 2011. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall and members of Henry-Martin’s family watch from the edge of the room (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama views the Slave Pen exhibit while touring the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 23, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Dina Bailey, Associate Curator of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory; Verna Williams; and Allison Singleton (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
Chicago Tribune: During a trip to her hometown today, first lady Michelle Obama applauded the work of a South Loop non-profit group that is helping high school students get job experience and advice about attending college.
Obama joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, for a visit this morning to Urban Alliance Chicago, the career training program.
… “To you all students, for having the courage to step outside your comfort zone and do something that was probably initially pretty scary,” Obama told about 50 teens gathered to see her. “I know that feeling. I was you guys. I say that all the time. Living on the South Side, looking at these buildings, wondering what goes on in those offices.”
10:05: President Obama honors 2012 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the W.H.
10:35: Departs the W.H. for Andrews Joint Air Force Base.
10:50: Departs Andrews Air Force Base for Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
11:50: Arrives in North Carolina.
1:00: Michelle Obama delivers the keynote address at Girls Inc. of Omaha’s 12th annual lunch.
1:15: PBO delivers remarks on student loans at the University of North Carolina.
2:20: PBO is interviewed for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
2:45: Michelle Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event in Omaha covered by a print pooler.
3:40: PBO departs North Carolina for Colorado.
6:00: Michelle Obama meets with Obama campaign volunteers from the Des Moines area.
7:10: PBO arrives in Colorado.
8:45: Delivers remarks at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
If anyone has a link to the full interview could you leave it in the comments?
Charles Pierce: Has The New York Times taken to hiring its “Public Editors” from the people waiting on hold for Mark Levin?
Readers deserve to know: Who is the real Barack Obama?
No kidding, that appeared in an actual column in the actual New York Times.
…. Barack Obama has been on the national scene for eight years. He was a candidate for the better part of two years and has been the president of the United States for the better part of three. We know about things his preacher said. We know about his uncle’s unfortunate driving history and his aunt’s time on the dole. A good portion of the Republican base — the portion that Mr. Brisbane here is begging not to write him anything hurtful anymore — believes that it knows the president is a Kenyan-born Muslim Indonesian socialist who is just waiting until his second term to round them all up, take away their guns, and give them all retroactive late-term abortions, and only Brisbanish “vetting” can stand in the way of all that.
ThinkProgress: Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican now hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said recently that she was unfamiliar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark anti-domestic violence legislation whose re-authorization is now stalled in the Senate.
Senate Republicans are objecting to re-upping the 1994 law, which has already been extended several times, because of amendments that would extend protections for Native American women, gay victims, and others.
A video released today by the Missouri Democratic Party shows a man asking Steelman about VAWA at a campaign event. Steelman replies, “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now.” He asks again, “you haven’t really heard about it?” And she confirms, “no, not really.”
Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, told Inside Missouri Politics that the exchange “underscores how ill-equipped she is to serve in public office.”
OFA: Yesterday, four Republicans in the New Hampshire State House allowed a hearing requested by Orly Taitz, the notorious dentist-lawyer-birther who wants President Obama officially removed from the state’s primary ballot.
So in honor of conspiracy theorists everywhere, we’re re-releasing the campaign’s limited-edition “Made in the USA” mugs.
There’s clearly nothing we can do to satisfy this crowd – or anyone else who insists on wasting time and energy on nonsense like this.
But when it starts to make your head hurt, I’ve found the best remedy is to have some tea in my “Made in the USA” mug.
**** Thanks to ChristiMtl for the link to Emilia’s post on Chris Matthews (here) – she says it all. ****
Tommy Christopher (Mediaite): Michael Moore Goes The Full Wingnut On President Obama Over Occupy ‘Crackdown’
This week began with a series of raids on Occupy movement encampments across the country … Filmmaker Michael Moore responded by accusing President Obama, via Twitter, of giving the “green light” for the raids. It’s just the latest in a series of unhinged attacks, on the President, by Moore….
…. At the time he made the accusation, there was absolutely no evidence to support it … The whole thing is so tin-foil ridiculous….What’s truly mystifying, though, is Michael Moore’s desperation to attack President Obama …. it’s rare that a liberal outpaces the most rabid of right-wing fabricators to do so.
…. this is just the culmination of a series of unhinged anti-Obama attacks by Moore … Perhaps most tellingly, though, he appeared on The View in September to express his “disappointment” with President Obama by saying, “Bill Maher had a good answer when he said that Obama was half white and half black. He said I went to the polls and I voted for the black guy and what we got was the white guy.”
…. A blogger at AngryBlackLady.com notes Moore’s curious obsession with “the white vote” in a talk he gave earlier this month. He told the crowd, “The only reason Obama won was because of 18 to 29 year olds,” and went on to explain that this was the only age group in which a majority of whites voted for Barack Obama….
….. It’s time that Michael Moore, and some of the others who are disillusioned with President Obama, think about what role his race plays in the ways in which they criticize him.
First lady Michelle Obama holds up a worm from a compost pile as she visits Iron Street Urban Farm
First Lady Michelle Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel greet Newt Gingrich in Chicago
Denver Post: A new statewide poll released today to coincide with President Obama’s trip to Colorado shows the first-term Democrat is more popular than any of his major GOP presidential challengers, particularly among unaffiliated voters and Hispanics, two crucial groups.
…. “At this point in the presidential race, President Obama is running against himself,” Project New West president Jill Hanauer said today. “At the same time, the Republican field is not reaching a majority of Coloradans due to their extreme views in very centrist state where voters vote for the person not the party and the policy vision, not a political ideology.”
…. PNW’s poll showed that 49% of likely Colorado voters view the President in a positive light, compared with 45% who have a negative opinion of him. Comparatively, Mitt Romney has a 40/38 favorable/unfavorable rating, and Rick Perry is underwater with a 29/38 rating.
Importantly, the President is even more popular with unaffiliated voters, who constitute a crucial 29% of the Colorado electorate. 54 percent of unaffiliated voters have positive feelings about the president, compared with 37% who view him negatively. Romney (38/37) and Perry (24/33) have similar ratings among Unaffiliateds as they do with the broader electorate.
The President also remains popular with Hispanic voters, who made up roughly 12% of the Colorado electorate in 2010. Obama has a 59/36 approval/disapproval rating among Colorado Hispanics, compared to 31/35 for Romney and 28/39 for Perry.
Go to Political Correction to see an enlarged version of the graphic – ‘A Timeline Of GOP Economic Sabotage’. Thank you BWD.
OMG! Ex-pat GG briefly left Brazil to visit America for an appearance on Maddow to promote his shiny new book! Awesome! It was a complete love-in – Rachel even wrote the huggy blurb on the back of the book! And she nodded knowingly when he went on about the elites who rule America (but she ran out of time before she could ask him about the Koch brothers and GG’s work for their CATO Institute).
11:15 The President meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan
12:05 The President and King Abdullah deliver statements to the press
2:50 The President hosts a White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month
Photo from Florida, 2008
Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom President Obama has picked to lead the Democratic National Committee, introduced the president at the first of two DNC events in Washington last night.
“How about my new DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” Obama said, to applause. “She is tireless, tireless. And she’s got the most adorable kids, and I don’t know how she keeps up with everything.”
“But as Michelle said, if you want something done, put a woman in charge. So, all right, everybody got….women, you got a little too excited on that.”
Rahm Emanuel kisses his wife Amy Rule after taking the oath of office as mayor of Chicago during an in inaugural ceremony at Millennium Park on May 16. Emanuel takes over for Richard M. Daley, who had served in the post since 1989
Professor David Kennedy: “We remain a young nation,” Barack Obama said in 2009, but he added an unsettling admonition that “in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.” No passage in his Inaugural Address more vividly reflected the President’s vision of his country and his times or more accurately foreshadowed the vexations that were to beset his leadership.
Like FDR before him, Obama, 49, has looked beyond the near horizon. He has paid the political price of setting far-visioned initiatives on health care and financial reform ahead of short-term relief. And he has tried to persuade his countrymen to shed some of their youthful illusions: to forsake the frontiersman’s faith in unbridled individualism for a recognition of the complex interdependencies of modern life, to replace the rebel’s fear of government with the citizen’s trust that government of the people and by the people is for the people too, to stop assuming that Santa Claus will give us cheap energy forever and the Easter Bunny will pay our bills. Whatever the near term holds, history is likely to record that Obama set the country on the path to a future with fewer illusions.
Kennedy is a professor of history at Stanford University
Rahm Emanuel: The partnership between any President and Vice President is like a shotgun wedding: Sometimes it works well. Most of the time, it does not. But the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden is as successful a public partnership as I have ever seen.
They began as rival politicians who merged to form a ticket, which is not a prescription for harmony and close cooperation. But in my two years in the White House, I saw these onetime rivals become solid allies and then close friends. I saw a deep bond of trust grow between them, forged in a crucible of crisis.
Biden, 68, has been a wise counselor – unfailingly frank with the President behind closed doors and unwaveringly loyal on the public stage.
With 36 years of experience in the U.S. Senate and a wealth of relationships and insight, Biden has been an invaluable lieutenant on a wide variety of issues. And the President has trusted him with some of the most critical assignments, from the $787 billion Recovery Act to the transition in Iraq.
This is one shotgun wedding that works.
Jamie Oliver: Declaring herself “first mom,” Michelle Obama got right to work on the defining issues of her children’s generation: obesity and improving the health of America’s kids.
Her Let’s Move campaign put obesity in the headlines in part because Americans under 25 are the first generation expected to live shorter lives than their parents because of diet-related illnesses. But Obama, 47, urged people to get up and do something. She convinced her husband to establish America’s first Childhood Obesity Task Force…..
She’s encouraging mayors around the country to embrace obesity-prevention programs. And perhaps most incredibly, she’s had frank and challenging dialogues with some of America’s largest corporations and persuaded them to change their business practices for the sake of the children.
While she knows none of these changes are easy, she’s stood firm in her conviction that if we all just eat better and move more, then we can fight obesity. For her inspirational work, I salute First Lady Michelle Obama – a true revolutionary.
President Obama: The violence in Tucson earlier this year was made all the more shocking by the quintessentially American scene that it shattered: folks of different backgrounds yet part of the same community gathering to share their hopes and ask questions of their elected representative. To put it simply, they came to do the daily work of democracy.
Before that morning, Gabrielle Giffords may not have been a household name. But the reason she has long been admired by people of all political stripes is that she embodies the best of what public service should be: hard work and fair play, hope and resilience, a willingness to listen and a determination to do your best in a busy world. As hard a battle as Giffords, 40, now fights every day, she’s got a strong partner in her husband Mark Kelly, who visits her daily while training to command the space shuttle Endeavour. And she’s got the prayers of a nation rooting for her, a model of civility and courage and unity — a needed voice that cannot return soon enough.