Posts Tagged ‘reform

22
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped keep her friend, Allie Young, left, alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital, July 22, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

All times Eastern

10:35: The President meets with Apollo 11 representatives to recognize the 45th anniversary of the moon landing

11:0: Josh Earnest briefs the press

12:10: The President signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, South Court Auditorium

1:0 Departs the White House

3:30: Drink Up! with First Lady Michelle Obama, The White House

All times PDT

3:15: President Obama arrives Seattle, Washington

5:05: Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence, Seattle

6:0: Attends a fundraiser for Senate Democrats; private residence, Bellevue, Washington

7:25: Departs Seattle

9:10: Arrives San Francisco

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The Week Ahead here

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Reuters: Obama, Biden Highlight Job-Training In Middle-Class Push

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will put a spotlight on job-training programs on Tuesday as part of a White House push to boost economic opportunities for middle-class Americans, an important voting group in November elections.

Obama will sign the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” which the White House said would help “improve business engagement and accountability across federally funded training programs.”

Biden will unveil a new report that will show the results of a study about how to make federal training programs more successful and better tailored to employers’ needs.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Palestinian Civilians Make Up Three-Quarters Of The Dead In Gaza

The Israeli ground operation in Gaza extended on Monday, as international calls for a cease-fire mounted and the death toll continued to increase. While Israel lost several soldiers in the last day, the number of those killed during the latest iteration of the war between Hamas and Israel has been disproportionate, with the vast majority of the dead being both Palestinian and civilian.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) publishes a daily snapshot of the crisis, pulling together the numbers from health officials in Gaza and reports from the various humanitarian organizations in the field. In their last report, which covered from July 19 -20, they noted that 3,008 Palestinians had been injured in the course of the fighting, “904 of whom are children and 533 women.” And at the time the report was published on Sunday, the number of those killed was 395: 375 on the Palestinian side “including 270 civilians, of whom 83 are children and 36 women” and 20 Israelis “including two civilians and 18 soldiers.”

More here

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Ian Millhiser: BREAKING: Two Republican Judges Order Obamacare Defunded

Near the end of 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a final crusade to defund the Affordable Care Act, eventually announcing on the Senate floor that “I intend to speak in opposition to Obamacare, I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am no longer able to stand.” Cruz did succeed in goading his fellow Republicans into shutting down the federal government, but his effort was ultimately doomed. The American people’s elected representatives voted not to defund Obamacare, and the shutdown ended.

On Tuesday, two Republican judges voted to rewrite this history. Under Halbig v. Burwell, a decision handed down by Judge Raymond Randolph, a Bush I appointee, and Judge Thomas Griffith, a Bush II appointee, millions of Americans will lose the federal health insurance subsidies provided to them under the Affordable Care Act — or, at least, they will lose these subsidies if Randolph and Griffith’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal. Ted Cruz is undoubtedly smiling today. Two unelected Republicans just voted to erase his most embarrassing and most public defeat, and they voted to take away millions of Americans health care in the process.

More here

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TPM: Journalist Who Accused MSNBC Of Pro-Israel Bias: I’ve Been Canceled!

After expressing some candid on-air criticism of MSNBC, network contributor Rula Jebreal is wondering if she’s in the cable news channel’s dog house. Jebreal said in a tweet Monday evening that her “forthcoming TV appearances” had been canceled. The Palestinian journalist also questioned if there might be a “link” between the cancelations and her comments earlier in the day in which she said MSNBC’s coverage had been biased toward Israel amid the nation’s ongoing conflict with Hamas.

While appearing on Monday’s episode of “Ronan Farrow Daily,” Jebreal said the channel’s coverage of the conflict was too favorable toward Israel. She even singled out Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News foreign affairs correspondent and MSNBC host. “Look at how many airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others,” Jebreal said. “I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on theses same issues.”

More here

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U.S. President Obama waves with Cordray during a trip Cleveland

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Amy Traub: The Enduring Success Of The CFPB At Three

Three years ago today the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors. It was a new government agency produced by the Dodd-Frank Act: part of Congress’ attempt to address the rampant misconduct by banks, mortgage lenders, ratings agencies and other financial institutions that brought on the 2008 financial crisis and started the Great Recession. In its three years of existence, the CFPB has already forced credit card companies to return $1.5 billion to consumers that they deceived with fraudulent add on products; reformed mortgage lending rules to ensure borrowers have a genuine ability to repay their loans; and began to sue student loan companies for predatory practices, among many other accomplishments. The agency also handles direct consumer complaints about abusive and deceptive financial products and services—400,000 of them so far. It’s a highly impressive record for a fledging agency.

Now the CFPB wants to let consumers take their complaints public, going beyond the existing database of bare-bones information to enable consumers to provide a full narrative with context about the financial products or services they believe harmed them and how the problem has impacted their lives. Consumers can anonymously tell the whole story about the credit reporting company that refused to remove a blatant error from their report, the mortgage servicer that started a foreclosure despite a history of on-time payments, or the car dealership that marketed deceptive auto loans. The companies they are complaining against would have an opportunity post a public response that would appear alongside the complaint at the same time it is made public.

More here

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Martin Shaw: Wagging The Dog: Gaza & MH17 Plane Deaths Stem From Netanyahu, Putin, Search For Popularity

The Ukraine and Gaza crises alike demonstrate the risks of aggressive policy based on short-term calculations. Vladimir Putin and Binyamin Netanyahu’s war-as-politics invites damaging long-term consequences.

The slaughters in Ukraine and Gaza have one thing in common. Both result from governments authorising violence which is overwhelmingly motivated by domestic politics and appears almost gratuitous from a strategic point of view. Such policies promise short-term domestic popularity, but risk losing international credibility and producing serious blowback. Vladimir Putin is now finding this out. Binyamin Netanyahu should take note: the blowback for Israel could be far more serious.

More here

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Michael Krancer: The Surprising Reasons Why Lowering CO2 Emissions Will Drive Our Electricity Bills Down, Not Up

If the customer wants clean energy, he’ll have to pay for it, right? Wrong. There’s actually no premium attached to low-carbon power, state utility regulators heard last week at their annual conference in Dallas. I’ll cut to the chase. Check out this report from Analysis Group, a five-star consultancy based in Boston, who presented at the conference. “Based on our own analysis and experience, we believe that the impacts on electricity rates from well-designed CO2-pollution control programs will be modest in the near term, and can be accompanied by long-term benefits in the form of lower electricity bills and positive economic value to state and regional economies.”

Here’s the back-of-the-envelope math. The EPA says that the Clean Power Plan—America’s no-nonsense blueprint to cut carbon pollution from its power plants—will cost between $4.3 billion to $7.5 billion per year by 2020. Let’s take a mean of $5.9 billion for the sake of fairness. That’s a mere 1.6 percent of America’s total spending of $363.7 billion on electricity in 2012. If you want an itemized bill, that $5.9 billion will include investment in cleaner generation, including increased zero-carbon low-cost nuclear power, the expense of wringing efficiencies from existing plants, fuel-switching costs, and “demand-side” efficiency measures—which translates to getting your customer use power more smartly.

More here

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Steve Benen: Russia’s U.S. Standing Plummets, Still More Popular Than Congress

It wasn’t too long ago that Russia was fairly popular in the minds in the American mainstream …. It takes real effort to go from 41% to 19% favorability in the course of five months.

But what stands out for me is a CNN poll from a few weeks ago that said Congress has a 14% approval rating.

Let’s pause to appreciate what this is telling us.

Most Americans believe that Russia will try to cover up its possible involvement in the death of 298 people ….. despite this recent bloodshed, still very much on the minds of millions, Russia is still a few points more popular than Congress.

More here

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The People’s View: Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, And Lessons In Reform And Pragmatism

This will be a little hard to hear for the fashionable Lefty detractors of the president’s: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is openly celebrating President Obama’s financial reform law. There have always been detractors who routinely bemoan the Barack Obama’s “capitulation” and “friendliness” to big banks, presenting as evidence what they call a meaningless banking reform bill – Dodd-Frank – the president’s key financial reform accomplishment. In the next breath, they lament why Barack Obama could not “fight” the banks like Elizabeth Warren – with no hint of irony that a key part of President Obama’s financial reform is Warren’s brainchild: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Even when acknowledged, the moaning crowd is still upset that Warren is now a United States Senator rather than the head of CFPB.

And of course… no perpwalks on Wall Street! Because, what good is reform without theater? Today is the fourth anniversary of the most significant financial reform law since the 1930s, which among other things created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is a fact not often noticed by those who see Warren as salvation from the “compromiser in chief” Obama, but the gravity of the achievement certainly did not escape Warren herself. On her Facebook page and in an email sent to supporters, Warren has two words for Dodd-Frank and the CFPB: It worked.

More here

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Stephanie Armour: Health Plans Must Disclose Changes To Contraceptive Coverage

The Obama administration said that employers that stop covering contraceptives in workers’ health plans under a Supreme Court ruling must disclose the change to beneficiaries. The court’s late-June Hobby Lobby decision allows some closely held companies to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement on religious grounds. The administration’s notice Thursday made clear that if all or a subset of contraceptive services aren’t covered under a group health plan,

beneficiaries must be informed of the extent of the exclusions. Federal law covering pension and health plans requires that employers alert employees if they change or drop benefits. Plans that reduce or eliminate coverage must provide expedited notification, generally no longer than 60 days after the change. The requirement applies to all group health plans, including those that pay workers’ health claims directly and those that rely on an insurer for that.

More here

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On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama speaks as Sen. Chuck Hagel listens during a news conference at the citadel July 22, 2008 in Amman, Jordan

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

16
Sep
13

When will it be enough

Columbine came and went. We mourned, we vowed never again, we resolved to be a better nation. But it wasn’t enough.

Ft. Hood came and went. We mourned, we vowed “Terror won’t win”, we resolved to learn the lessons imparted. But it wasn’t enough.

Gabby Giffords will never be the same, and members from both sides of the aisle heaped praise on her. It wasn’t enough.

Newtown scarred us as nothing had before. Twenty innocent children mowed down in a mix of easy access to weapons of war, mental illness, and a society at war with itself. We wept, we beat our chests, we vowed to honor their memories. It, too, wasn’t enough, the words of resolve as evaporating steam.

Eight thousand have died at the end of a bullet since Newtown. All of them loved by someone, all of them precious to someone’s heart. Their deaths weren’t enough.

And now, another shooting, this time on a military base. And I will say it right here: it won’t be enough.

Continue reading ‘When will it be enough’

22
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Random old pic, because, well, it’s Education Day – Occidental College, 1981

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Today (all times Eastern):

9:0 AM: President Obama departs the White House

10:20: Arrives in Buffalo, N.Y.

11:05: Delivers remarks at the University of Buffalo

5:55: Delivers remarks at Henninger High School, Syracuse

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USA Today: President Obama is back on the road Thursday, starting a two-day bus trip to promote plans to cut college costs.

First up is a flight to upstate New York, where Obama will speak at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York. The president and his bus then travel to Henninger High School in Syracuse.

“At these two schools, the President will discuss his plan to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families,” says the White House schedule.

…. After discussing college costs in Buffalo and Syracuse, Obama spends the night in Auburn, N.Y. The president wraps up his bus tour on Friday with stops in Binghamton, N.Y., and Scranton, Penn.

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Matthew Yglesias: Obama’s Radical Agenda on Higher Education

The White House is tackling the status quo that’s sent college costs out of control.

For decades now, America’s approach to higher-education policy has been a delightful synthesis of left-wing and right-wing ideas. In stark contrast to the K–12 universe, college is a playground for individual choice and market competition …. In a speech Thursday morning in Buffalo, N.Y., on ways to enhance college affordability, President Obama will likely lay out policy measures that, while relatively modest on their own terms, propose to radically subvert that bargain on a conceptual level.

The president has decided, essentially, that the old bargain has failed …. he wants to find ways for the federal government to put its muscle behind an idea that’s both modest and radical: that public money should pay for outcomes, not just more stuff. Attempting to nudge the health care system in that direction was a key element of the Affordable Care Act. Nudging K–12 education in that direction has been the centerpiece of the Obama education agenda. Bringing it to the realm of higher education in a serious way would be extremely difficult but also an extraordinary achievement if we can be sent down that path.

More here

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NYT: Obama’s Plan Aims to Lower Cost of College

President Obama plans to announce a set of ambitious proposals on Thursday aimed at making colleges more accountable and affordable by rating them and ultimately linking those ratings to financial aid.

A draft of the proposal, obtained by The New York Times and likely to cause some consternation among colleges, shows a plan to rate colleges before the 2015 school year based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is to base federal financial aid to students attending the colleges partly on those rankings.

“All the things we’re measuring are important for students choosing a college,” a senior administration official said. “It’s important to us that colleges offer good value for their tuition dollars, and that higher education offer families a degree of security so students aren’t left with debt they can’t pay back.”

More here

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USA Today: Small-business jobs rise as economy improves

Small-business hiring and confidence about the future are rising, a signal of the economy’s growing strength and diminishing concerns about employee insurance coverage required by the new health care law.

Job creation at small companies has almost doubled in the last six months, reaching 82,000 jobs at firms with 49 or fewer employees in July, according to payroll processor ADP. Borrowing by small businesses and sales of new franchises have also climbed, indicating business owners are willing to take on new expenses and risk.

More here

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The Atlantic: Immigration Reformers Are Winning August

Opponents of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants had a plan to apply grassroots pressure on congressional Republicans in their home districts. Why did it fizzle?

Activists opposed to immigration reform were all set to spend this month putting pressure on lawmakers to kill the legislation. But it hasn’t exactly been a show of force.

Last week, the Tea Party Patriots and NumbersUSA, two groups opposed to “amnesty” legislation, heavily publicized a rally in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Steve King … but only a few dozen people showed up – far short of the hundreds organizers had planned for.

…. as August winds down, the Richmond event seems indicative of the overall trend. Hundreds of immigrant advocates have appeared at rallies and town halls across the country. But the other side, the opponents, have been mostly absent.

More here

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Steve Benen: The nation’s full faith and credit is not a ‘leverage point’

About a week ago, National Review’s Robert Costa reported that congressional Republicans are considering an incredibly dangerous new plan: they’re prepared to hold the nation’s debt limit hostage again, creating a crisis comparable to the one we saw in the summer of 2011, unless Democrats agree to take health care benefits away from millions of Americans.

Earlier this week, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a prominent member of the House Democratic leadership, said he now sees this scenario as likely. And overnight, Reuters reported (see here) that another GOP debt-ceiling crisis appears to be on the way…..

… In other words, GOP leaders are effectively prepared to swap one hostage for another …. this is nothing short of madness. As Ezra Klein recently put it, “Trading a government shutdown for a debt-ceiling breach is like trading the flu for septic shock”….

More here

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TPM: Republican Governors: Shhh, Don’t Call Our Obamacare Money Obamacare!

A variety of Republican governors have sought federal funds under Obamacare, many of them to expand Medicaid eligibility for more residents, a centerpiece of the law that the Supreme Court made optional for states last year.

But shhh! Don’t call it Obamacare, they say, for they despise that law.

In the latest example, vociferous Obamacare critic and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seeking roughly $100 million in federal funds under a program set up under Obamacare, called Community First Choice … “The bottom line is it has nothing to do with Obamacare,” said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle.

Only it has everything to do with Obamacare …

Perry is in good company among Republican governors, many of whom want billions of federal funds under the law’s Medicaid expansion, but don’t want to call it Obamacare …. One example is Arizona’s Jan Brewer …. another is Florida’s Rick Scott….

More here

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NBC: Even Republican young adults want health insurance, poll finds

Obamacare may have become a partisan issue, but more Republicans than Democrats have signed up for one of its most popular provisions, according to a survey published Wednesday.

The survey also pokes holes in the idea that most 20-somethings act like “Young Invincibles” who believe they don’t need health insurance.

A team at the Commonwealth Fund, which strongly supports healthcare reform, looked at one of the main target groups of the 2010 Affordable Care Act – young adults who have been going without health insurance. One of the most popular provisions of the law lets people age 26 and younger stay on their parents’ health insurance.

…. They found that by last March, 63 percent of young adults identifying as Republicans had enrolled in a parent’s health plan in the last 12 months, compared to 45 percent of those who considered themselves Democrats….

More here

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Texas Tribune: Voter ID Debate Heats Up as Dallas County Joins Fight

A fight against the state’s contentious voter ID laws escalated this week when Dallas County became the first Texas county to claim that the requirements would disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.

In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted to join U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, in a lawsuit urging a federal district court to issue an injunction against the voter ID law. The law requires voters to present one of seven forms of state or federal identification or a so-called election identification certificate, which can be obtained from the state’s Department of Public Safety.

On Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins applauded the commissioners’ decision. Jenkins said 220,000 of 1.1 million total registered voters in Dallas County indicated they did not have the required forms of ID to vote.

More here

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On this day:

Pete Souza: “On vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, the President was golfing at the Vineyard Golf Club. I switched my digital camera to the black-and-white setting to capture the ominous clouds.” Aug. 22, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama greets attendees during a Joining Forces event at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 22, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

21
Aug
13

This and That

Statement from the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden:

Yesterday our son Beau underwent a successful procedure. He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks.

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Steve Benen: The registry the NRA warned against

A few months ago, conservative senators felt the need to kill a popular, bipartisan proposal on firearm background checks, and relied primarily on a single talking point: the proposal might lead to a firearm database. The very idea of some kind of national gun registry was so offensive to the right that the legislation had to die at the hands of a Republican filibuster.

It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill had no such database. It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill explicitly made the creation of such a registry a felony. All that mattered was that conservatives had a lie they liked, and which they used to great effect.

Four months later, Steve Friess reports that a massive, secret database of gun owners exists after all. But it wasn’t built by the Justice Department or the Department of Homeland Security; it was compiled without gun owners’ consent by the National Rifle Association.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Worst Thing In That Maureen Dowd Column Isn’t Actually Her Misquote Of Bill DeBlasio’s Wife

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is taking a lot of very justified heat for a column about New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, in which she appears to have distorted a quotation of McCray’s to imply that McCray is impugning rival Democratic candidate Christine Quinn for being a lesbian.

…. Dowd is now suggesting that a noisy coffee shop obscured her audio recording, and she ended up relying on what turn out to have been bad-quality notes for the quotation….

…. as bad as Dowd’s quoting malpractice is, and as frivolous as the overall column is, these problems aren’t actually the worst part of the column. That would be the way Dowd describes McCray’s sexual orientation, and places it in a context of Sexuality and the New York Mayoral Race….

More here

More at NYMag and, well, Charles Pierce says it all

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Continue reading ‘This and That’

12
Aug
13

News of the Day

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice briefs President Barack Obama during his Presidential Daily Briefing in Chilmark, Mass., August 12 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Tom Kludt: Obama To Continue Economic Tour In New York, Pennsylvania

President Barack Obama is expected to embark on a two-day bus tour next week to both New York and Pennsylvania where he’ll “discuss another cornerstone of his vision for a better bargain for the middle class,” a White House official told a pool reporter.

Obama will travel through the two states on Aug. 22-23. Politico’s Maggie Haberman, citing sources familiar with Obama’s plans, said the President will deliver the remarks in upstate New York.

More here

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Adam Peck: Missouri State Fair Apologizes After Mocks, Threatens Rodeo Clown In An Obama Mask

Officials from the Missouri State Fair are busy putting out fires after the organizers of the fair’s bull riding exhibit brought a clown in an Obama mask into the ring and goaded the bull into chasing him around the enclosure.

Videos of the racially-charged incident began circulating across local news organizations shortly after it took place on Saturday evening, and public consternation was quickly followed by condemnations from Republican Party officials and lawmakers across the state. Officials from the state fair issued a public statement via its Facebook page on Sunday evening, calling the performance “inappropriate and disrespectful.”

More here

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TPM: Biden To Attend Harkin’s Annual Iowa Steak Fry

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to deliver the keynote address at Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) annual steak fry this year in Iowa, The Des Moines Register reported. A Biden spokesperson told the Register that Biden has intended to attend the event, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Democratic Party in the Hawkeye State, ever since he was unable to make it last year.

San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote address at last year’s Democratic National Convention, is also expected to attend the steak fry, scheduled to be held Sept.15, in Indianola, Iowa.

More here

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Becca Aaronson: New Abortion Limits, But More Money For Women’s Health

When Anastasia Tolmasoff went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in March to receive her quarterly injection of Depo-Provera, she discovered she could no longer afford to receive birth control there. “I’m living paycheck to paycheck, so getting pregnant and having another child is not an option for me,” said Tolmasoff, 33, who rehabilitates wildlife at a nonprofit organization. She and her husband cannot afford health insurance. Tolmasoff is one of thousands of women affected by the Texas Legislature’s 2011 decisions to drastically cut family planning financing and remove “abortion affiliated providers” — namely, Planned Parenthood — from state health programs.

In its 2013 session, the Legislature sought to mitigate the impact of those cuts with the largest financial package for women’s health services in state history, increasing spending to $214 million in the 2014-15 budget from $109 million. Still, women’s health advocates have raised concerns that the financing does not go far enough. Moreover, some advocates argue that strict abortion regulations approved during a special session will create additional burdens on women already struggling to access contraception……

More here

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President Obama chats with former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk while golfing at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 12

12
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Four years ago today: President Obama hugs Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient actor Sidney Poitier during the award ceremony in the East Room of the White House,  August 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Grio: Holder to call for major reform of mandatory minimum sentencing

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a speech today that the Department of Justice will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger mandatory minimum sentences, a major shift in American drug policy and an indication that President Obama wants to reduce the number of Americans who serve long prison sentences over drug crimes and rethink American laws that have existed for decades.

“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder is expected to say Monday at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Bar Association, according to excerpts of his remarks provided to theGrio….

In effect, Holder is calling for prosecutors to charge defendants for lesser crimes than they may have actually committed, thereby allowing juries and judges more latitude in imposing sentences, instead of following mandatory minimums created by Congress that many in both parties say are now outdated.

More here

See SmartyPants

1:0 EST: AG Eric Holder Address the American Bar Association

C-Span

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Love this:

Michael Tomasky: Obama Is Giving Up Some Executive Power, and He’ll Still Get No Credit

Predictably, everyone is unimpressed by the measures Barack Obama has announced to bring a little ray of transparency to America’s surveillance programs …. I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. Of course he’ll get no credit for that, because civil libertarians tend to be absolutists and other liberals tend to be afraid or even terrified of their wrath…

…. Obama was headed down this course before the Snowden leaks. Those began on June 5. But on May 23, he gave a speech at the National Defense University in which he foreshadowed the moves he just announced. Combine all this with John Kerry’s recent announcement that we have a plan for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, and you might have thought liberals would be cheering.

I suppose some liberals are. I am. But not civil libertarians. With them, it’s all or nothing. If you’re not signed on to the whole program, you might as well be Joe McCarthy….

…. Obama has public opinion to think about. And of course he has keeping the country safe to worry about, and no one at the ACLU is sitting in on those intel briefings and learning the things the president is learning every day about threats to the nation, and no one at the ACLU will be responsible if our wall of security is breached. Obama is responsible, and I think mere willingness of the man in that position to have this conversation, let alone take some concrete steps, does him enormous credit.

Full post here

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Truly, these people are deranged:

Next tweet will probably be: ‘Ask not what the Nobel Prize can do for Bradley Manning, ask what Bradley Manning can do for the Nobel Prize’

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Andrew Liepman (LA Times): What did Edward Snowden get wrong? Everything

Edward Snowden is now out of his limbo at Moscow’s airport, presumably ensconced in some Russian dacha, wondering what the next phase of his young life will bring. Having spent 30 years in the intelligence business, I fervently hope the food is lousy, the winter is cold, and the Internet access is awful. But I worry less about what happens to this one man and more about the damage Snowden has done — and could still do — to America’s long-term ability to strike the right balance between privacy and security.

More here

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LittleGreenFootballs: Sen. Al Franken: “I Assure You This Isn’t About Spying on the American People”

“I have a high level of confidence that it is used to protect us”

Noted far right nutjob (do I need a snark tag on that?) Sen. Al Franken says he was not surprised by the Greenwald/Snowden NSA revelations…..

More here

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Steve Benen: Steve King just can’t help himself

Democrats and other proponents of immigration reform caught another lucky break over the weekend: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) appeared on “Meet the Press” yesterday, and just kept talking. If the progressive goal is to see reform opponents discredit themselves on the national stage, the right-wing Iowan has become the left’s most reliable ally.

Indeed, who do you think was happier to see King on the air, the DNC or the RNC?

More here

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The Root: Politics Gets Its Own Cheerios Ad – The black son of a white candidate tackles stop and frisk in a campaign ad.

Earlier this year, Cheerios generated extensive media attention — and countless racist comments online — for becoming the first major American brand to feature a mixed-race family in a television advertisement. Now, an ad for a political campaign is poised to be just as groundbreaking, and potentially controversial.

This weekend television advertisements began airing starring the teenage son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is white, his wife, Chirlane McCray, is black, and their son, Dante, sports a sizable Afro in the ad, in which he makes the case for why he believes his father is the best candidate for mayor.

While he touches upon a number of issues, including affordable housing, the ad’s most powerful moment comes when he talks about his father’s position on stop and frisk….

More here

The ad:

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That pic again, but a bigger, shinier, lovelier version:

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On this day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Justice Sonia Sotomayor prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Pete Souza)

President Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor meet in the Oval Office prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama greet guests at a reception for Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients and their families, Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony on Aug. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Neighbors sing Happy Birthday to President Obama during a walk in the Hyde Park/Kenwood section of Chicago, Ill., Aug. 12, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

****

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