President Barack Obama speaks to members of the news media before a meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House
President Barack Obama meets with bipartisian congressional leadership in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House. Also pictured is (L-R) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Charles Schumer.
On This Day: President Barack Obama greets baseball fans during a Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern)
10:0: Live from the First White House Makers Faire
10:45: President Obama views “Maker Faire” projects devoted to using science and technology to advance business, South Lawn
11:30: Delivers remarks at the White House Maker Faire, East Room
12:15: Meets with economists for lunch, Roosevelt Room
12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press
3:0: The President meets with members of the Congressional Leadership
5:10: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry
President Barack Obama and Press Secretary Jay Carney disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday night, June 17, 2014. It was Carney’s last flight on Air Force One as White House Press Secretary. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Week Ahead
Thursday: The President will award Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.
Friday: The President will meet with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand.
President Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall, Tuesday, June 17
You can see a video of the President’s remarks here
NYT: Obama Is Said To Consider Selective Airstrikes On Sunni Militants
President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad. Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are
dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians. At a meeting with his national security advisers at the White House on Monday evening, the official said, Mr. Obama was presented with a “sliding scale” of military options, which range from supplying the beleaguered Iraqi Army with additional advisers, intelligence and equipment to conducting strikes targeting members of the militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Much of the emphasis at the meeting, the official said, was on how to gather useful intelligence about the militants. They are not wearing uniforms or sleeping in barracks; and while there may be periodic convoys to strike, there are no columns of troops or vehicles.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was always open about his animosity toward the United States, and even about his conviction that Muslims and Christians were locked in an intractable religious war. During the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Mr. Abu Khattala was a vivid presence. Witnesses saw him directing the swarming attackers who ultimately killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Afterward, he offered contradictory denials of his role, sometimes trying to say that he did not do it but strongly approved. He appeared to enjoy his notoriety. Captured by military commandos and law enforcement agents early on Monday, Mr. Abu Khattala may now help address some of the persistent questions about the identity and motives of the attackers.
The thriving industry of conspiracy theories, political scandals, talk show chatter and congressional hearings may now confront the man federal investigators say played the central role in the attack. On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
President Obama’s climate speech Saturday got plenty of press for its lengthy assault on global-warming denial. But what excited an aggressive wing of the climate movement were just a few cryptic words elsewhere in the commencement address at the University of California (Irvine): “You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms.” Activists pushing universities and other institutions to dump their financial holdings in coal and oil-and-gas companies believe they heard an unmistakable White House endorsement.
“People are thrilled about it,” Jamie Henn of 350.org, one of the groups leading the divestment movement, said of Obama’s comments Saturday. “Students will be taking the president’s message to their college presidents and boards of trustees,” he said of the fossil-fuel-divestment campaign, which also includes the Energy Action Coalition, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and groups on specific campuses. The founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate activist, has been a major divestment advocate.
NYT: U.S. Defends Prosecuting Benghazi Suspect In Civilian Rather Than Military Court
Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday sharply criticized the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute the suspected leader of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in the civilian criminal justice system, arguing that he should be questioned and tried by the military. The White House quickly pushed back. “Some have suggested that he should go to Gitmo,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman. “Let me rule that out from the start.” “We have had substantial success delivering swift justice to terrorists through our federal court system,” she added. Greg Doherty, the brother of one of the attack’s victims, Glen A. Doherty, said he supported the decision to try Mr. Abu Khattala in a civilian court. “I think that’s what we should do with criminals, which is try them,” he said.
The Obama administration has sought to close the Guantánamo prison and refused to send newly captured prisoners there, instead using federal courts to prosecute terrorism cases that arose after Mr. Obama took office. The military commissions system, which the Bush administration established and Congress revised in 2009, has struggled. Appeals courts have vacated the convictions of the only two Guantánamo detainees who were tried for war crimes before a military commission — as opposed to pleading guilty without a trial and giving up a right to appeal — because of flaws that would likely not have been a problem in civilian court.
Daily Beast: Why Delta Force Waited So Long To Grab A Benghazi Ringleader
The mission to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah, one of the ringleaders of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya was more than a year in the making. In the months leading up to the raid, teams from the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force, practiced the extradition on a mock-up of abu Khatallah’s compound at Fort Bragg, according to a U.S. military contractor familiar with the planning for the mission. Eventually, it was a Delta Team with embedded FBI agents on Sunday that snagged the man wanted for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The Obama administration has come under withering criticism because the whereabouts of abu Khatallah have been generally known.
But other U.S. officials, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the press, said the mission to grab abu Khatallah had been planned for more than a year. Indeed, the Benghazi ringleader had been in the sights of Delta Force operators at the end of August, according to these sources, but no order was given at the time. A senior administration official told The Daily Beast that the delay in apprehending the suspect was due in part to requests from the Justice Department to gather appropriate evidence to prosecute him in criminal court. The practice and patience paid off, apparently. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday’s raid resulted in no casualties. “Khatallah currently faces criminal charges on three counts, and we retain the option of adding additional charges in the coming days,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement Tuesday.
CBS Local: New York, Chicago, Hawaii Bid For Obama Presidential Library
At least six locations in three different states, including New York, entered official bids by Monday’s deadline in an effort to house Barack Obama’s presidential library. Columbia University, where Obama got his undergraduate degree, pitched a West Harlem site.
Four of the confirmed bidders are from Chicago, the president’s hometown, and a fifth was expected. Obama’s birth state of Hawaii also offered an oceanfront location in Honolulu.
While the Obama Foundation, which is planning the library, declined to confirm the bids it has received, planners for the six widely reported potential locations all confirmed they had submitted proposals. All see the library and museum as a potential driver of economic development. The University of Chicago cited a study it commissioned that concluded the library would draw 800,000 visitors a year and create 1,900 permanent jobs.
Simon Maloy: Stop Treating War-Crazy Buffoons As Experts! They Got It Wrong, Remember?
If you were asked to identify a single moment that best captures the failure of elite media outlets to act as agents of accountability, you could do worse than David Gregory asking Paul Wolfowitz on “Meet the Press” this weekend what we should do, “as a policy matter,” to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care. In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003,
everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.” What price did Wolfowitz pay for his part in the biggest American foreign policy disaster of that last generation? George Bush nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.
Travis Waldron: In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language. The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning. “We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion.
“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”
President Obama walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi backstage at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama meets with Senior Advisors in the Oval Office in the White House, June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama (background in Oval Office) chats before a lunch with members of the press in his private dining room, on June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama listens to Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office for Health Reform, in a meeting on health care reform in the Roosevelt Room in the White House, June 18, 2009. From left: OMB Director Peter Orszag, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, DeParle, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Photo by Pete Souza)
After playing a round of golf, President Obama has a drink with Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at Joint Base Andrews, June 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, before the start of a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama waits with advisors before a bilateral meeting during the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; President Obama; Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; and Caroline Atkinson, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama with Sasha and Malia during a visit to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains National Park in Ireland, on June 18, 2013.
President Obama walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada on the grounds of Lough Erne Resort during the G8 Summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Holy seven million, Batman! The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, has made a stunning comeback from its shambolic start. As the March 31 deadline for 2014 coverage approached, there was a surge in applications at the “exchanges” — the special insurance marketplaces the law set up. And the original target of seven million signups, widely dismissed as unattainable, has been surpassed.
But what does it mean? That depends on whether you ask the law’s opponents or its supporters. You see, the opponents think that it means a lot, while the law’s supporters are being very cautious. And, in this one case, the enemies of health reform are right. This is a very big deal indeed.
Of course, you don’t find many Obamacare opponents admitting outright that 7.1 million and counting signups is a huge victory for reform. But their reaction to the results — It’s a fraud! They’re cooking the books! — tells the tale. Conservative thinking and Republican political strategy were based entirely on the assumption that it would always be October, that Obamacare’s rollout would be an unremitting tale of disaster. They have no idea what to do now that it’s turning into a success story.
Politicususa: Harry Reid Completely Hammers Mitch McConnell On Obamacare Success In Kentucky
During a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tore into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) regarding the success story that the Affordable Care Act has been in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Days after it was revealed that the number of people who signed up for private insurance plans on the state and federal exchanges under Obamacare exceeded the administration’s goals, Reid pointed out some basic facts in regards to the health care law’s effect in Kentucky.
Steve Benen: Job market continues to show signs of life
After discouraging monthly job reports in December and January, there were broad concerns about which way the job market was headed. Would it remain stuck or start to bounce back?
The latest evidence seems to suggest the latter. In fact, the new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, roughly in line with economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate remained the same at 6.7%.
For the second consecutive month, public-sector layoffs did not drag down the overall employment figures. Though jobs reports over the last few years have shown monthly government job losses, in March, the private sector added 192,000 while the public sector broke even.
The party that talks the most about the dangers of America going Continental is the one dead set on making it happen. When it comes to economics, the GOP is the party of croissants and lederhosen
The basic Republican critique of President Obama is that he’s Europeanizing America. In the last campaign, Mitt Romney claimed Obama “takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe.” Paul Ryan warned “we will turn out just like Europe if we stick with European policies.” Europe’s continuing economic stagnation—12 percent unemployment, near deflation, tepid growth—is certainly an unattractive model for the United States. You can see why conservative cartoonists like to draw Obama in a beret.
But the policies that created the mess in Europe are not Obama’s policies. They are the policies—especially tight money and fiscal austerity—that Republicans have pushed for America. And where economics is concerned, the GOP is still the party of croissants and lederhosen.
TPM: TV Networks Denied Obama Airtime To Tout Obamacare Enrollment
The White House reportedly wanted to put President Barack Obama on primetime television Tuesday to tout Obamacare’s 7 million enrollees — but network TV officials denied him the airtime.
BuzzFeed had the scoop, citing three sources with knowledge of the request. Details of the request are unclear from the report, but it appears that the White House was seeking primetime space on broadcast TV networks.
NYT: After Push by Obama, Minimum-Wage Action Is Moving to the States
The more President Obama talks about the need to raise the federal minimum wage, the less likely it appears that Republicans in Congress are inclined to do it.
But the stalemate matters less and less. In the last 14 months, since Mr. Obama first called for the wage increase in his 2013 State of the Union address, seven states and the District of Columbia have raised their own minimum wages, and 34 states have begun legislative debates on the matter. Activists in an additional eight states are pursuing ballot referendums this year to demand an increase in wages for their lowest-paid workers.
…. Anybody who had any doubts about whether or not the Kochs have imbibed fully their father’s devotion to the old Birchite view of things can rest easy, This is something out of the collected works of John Stormer, the stuff that was supposed to have died in conservatism with the end of the Goldwater campaign. None Dare Call It Antiquated. But, if you have more money than God and Solomon, you can bring even the most decomposed ideology back to life, I guess.
…..Koch: “….. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.”
Says the gentleman who’s poured more millions into voter-suppression efforts all over the country. Again, all done out of altruism and in the name of saving America from the tyranny of clean air and insurance-friendly health-care reform. If I’m Harry Reid, I keep pounding on these guys. The public butthurt is getting quite entertaining.
ThinkProgress: Why The Fort Hood Shooter Was Able To Purchase A Gun Despite Serious Mental Health Issues
A gunman identified as 34-year-old Iraq War veteran Ivan Lopez opened fire at the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas on Wednesday, reportedly killing three service members before committing suicide. Officials reported that Lopez was being treated for several mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, and was being screened for possible Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But despite his ongoing treatment, Lopez wasn’t barred from owning a gun. In fact, he recently purchased the .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he used during Wednesday’s shooting spree.
ThinkProgress: Stand Your Ground Is About To Get Even Worse In Florida
Attempts to roll back any of the Florida Stand Your Ground law’s most incendiary elements have foundered more than two years after the death of Trayvon Martin. But a bill to expand the law passed Thursday, mere months after it was introduced. The National Rifle Association-backed bill would expand Stand Your Ground-like protections to those who point a gun at an attacker or fire a gun as a self-defense threat or warning, expanding the scope of the discretion judges and juries retain to exempt shooters from criminal charges for gun violence. The final bill also includes a provision to keep Stand Your Ground records secret. More here
President Obama’s personal aide Reggie Love, left, and White House physician Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman check their notes as they travel in the Presidential motorcade April 4, 2009 in Strasbourg, France (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama makes remarks at a press conference April 4, 2009, following the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and fellow NATO leaders step down from a photo platform April 4, 2009, following their group photo at the NATO meeting in Strasbourg, France (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gestures during a fiscal policy meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 4, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama addresses United States Secret Service Uniformed Division officers before a group photo at the South Portico of the White House, April 4, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joke together while taping a Joining Forces public service announcement in the East Room of the White House, April 4, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama sits alone on the patio outside the Oval Office, following a meeting with his senior advisors, April 4, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama jokes with Vice President Biden backstage before the STOCK Act signing event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, April 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day: President Obama greets the Zion Baptist Church Children’s Choir before the Easter Prayer Breakfast, in the Blue Room of the White House, April 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama and students from around the country participate in the White House Kitchen Garden spring planting on the South Lawn of the White House, April 4, 2013 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama smiles before boarding Marine One helicopter from a field overlooking the iconic golden gate bridge in San Francisco, California, on April 4, 2013
On This Day: Members of the audience cheer as President Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
12:45: VP Biden meets with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc of Turkey at the White House
1:45: President Obama commemorates the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination with an event devoted to an institution created by JFK: The Peace Corps. He will participate in a video conference with Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania
2:15: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) National Arts and Humanities Youth Program
2:40: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with King Mohammed VI of Morocco
“A half century ago, America mourned the loss of an extraordinary public servant.
“With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness. Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.
“In his 3 years as President of the United States, John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age.
“His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home.
“During his final year in office, he proposed a civil rights bill that called for an end to segregation in America. And recognizing women’s basic right to earn a living equal to their efforts, he signed the Equal Pay Act into law.
“While President Kennedy’s life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on in the generations he inspired — volunteers who serve as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe, scientists and engineers who reach for new heights in the face of impossible odds, innovators who set their sights on the new frontiers of our time.
“Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward. Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22, 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy.”
For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.
… Given the extreme degree of Republican obstruction during the Obama administration, the Democrats had little choice but to change the filibuster rule. As Mr. Reid noted on the floor, half of all filibusters waged against nominations in Senate history have occurred since Mr. Obama was elected….
…. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.
ThinkProgress: Why Senate Democrats Had To Invoke The ‘Nuclear Option’
Well, it finally happened.
After five years of filibusters, obstruction, lengthy waits for confirmation and arguments over whether the party that failed to win either the White House or the Senate nonetheless has the power to hold top government jobs open for as long as Barack Obama is president, Senate Democrats finally decided that enough is enough. On Thursday, nearly every member of the Democratic caucus invoked a procedural maneuver that will allow the Senate to confirm several blocked nominees by a majority vote. The era of minority rule is over, at least where it comes to almost every confirmation…..
Greg Sargent: For liberals, a long crusade finally pays off in reform
In 2007, when Jeff Merkley was considering a run for the Senate from Oregon, he met privately with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. Merkley suggested to the two Dem leaders that the Senate needed to reform the filibuster — having watched both parties, including Dems in 2005, abuse it so badly that it was rendering the Upper Chamber dysfunctional.
…. That meeting may have been the genesis of a long tale that culminated this afternoon, six years later, when Reid finally went nuclear and changed the rules by simple majority — after a years-long campaign in which Merkley and other Senate liberals were instrumental.
…. Dem leaders had to be pushed to this point, but from the point of view of liberals, they did the right thing. “The filibuster has been used to wage continuous warfare on the presidency,” Merkley said. “The Senate said today that’s not acceptable. A huge thank you to the leadership team.”
I have no doubt that the civility crowd will scream bloody murder now that Harry Reid has dropped the big one in the Senate. They may need the Jaws of Life to pry Ruth Marcus off the fainting couch. As I said before. I was nervous about this prospect for years, but recently passed over the International Fk You Line. The country has a right to be governed by the president and the philosophy for which the country voted. Vandalism is not debate. It is not governing. It is long past time for Barack Obama actually to be allowed to be president.
Milt Shook: Once Again, Progressives Should be Thanking Harry Reid
What every progressive needs to learn is that political things don’t just happen because someone wants them to. They happen when a majority is ready to vote to make them happen.
Back in January, as many of you will recall, I took a lot of heat because I stood up for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his valiant attempt to change filibuster rules. The man worked his ass off to make changes, and he actually got quite a few of them, despite the fact that he didn’t have 51 votes to make them happen. He was able to change the rules, so that Senators could no longer put a blind hold on a nomination – they had to make themselves known – and he also got an agreement from Republicans to stop holding up nominations. This was a crucial deal. He did all of this, despite the fact that he had between 45 and 47 votes, because he was able to convince the Republican leadership that he had 51, which scared them silly.
…. Progressives underestimate Harry Reid at our peril. This guy is tougher than he looks.
Reuters: Nearly 80,000 Californians sign up for Obamacare plans
Nearly 80,000 Californians have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the state’s exchange marketplace created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Covered California exchange said on Thursday.
The latest data, which charts enrollment from the October 1 start through November 19, means that about 20,000 more people signed up for plans since the exchange’s initial update on its enrollment released November 13.
California, which is the most populous U.S. state and embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, is considered a crucial region for the administration’s enrollment effort. The state is one of 14 operating their own exchanges, as opposed to relying on the federal government.
ThinkProgress: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Americans With Individual Plans Qualify For Obamacare Subsidies
Over 70 percent of Americans under age 65 who buy insurance through the individual market will either qualify for Obamacare subsidies or the health law’s expansion of Medicaid in the states that accept it, according to a new study by Families USA.
…. Researchers also noted that ….“[U]nder the ACA, only 0.6 percent of Americans under age 65 will be at risk of losing their current individual market plan and will not be income-eligible for financial assistance that will make their new insurance plan more affordable. Even among this 0.6 percent, some have insurers who will not or cannot cancel their plans. Others will decide that they are better off with higher-value plans in the new insurance marketplaces.”
A Galveston medical student describes life and death in the so-called safety net.
… There’s a popular myth that the uninsured — in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us — can always get medical care through emergency rooms … The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.
…. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, could have been a huge relief. However, Gov. Rick Perry rejected billions of dollars in federal funding to expand Medicaid, funding that should have brought access to more than a million Texans, including many St. Vincent’s patients.
Perry’s refusal is catastrophic health policy. For patients, it means that seeking medical care will still require risking bankruptcy, and may lead nowhere. For doctors, the message was not only that our patients’ lives don’t matter, but also that medicine—our old profession, so full of people who genuinely want to help others—will continue to be part of the economic machine that entrenches poverty. When the poor seek our help, they often wind up with crippling debt.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a “Let’s Move!” Salad Bars to Schools launch event at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Fla., Nov. 22, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama shares a lighter moment during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Nov. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama at Manchester High School Central, N.H., Nov 22, 2011
President Obama jokes with players from the Oregon State University basketball team in the Oval Office on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012. The team’s head coach is Craig Robinson, brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
(Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama visits with the Corkery family during a stop at Julien’s Corner Kitchen in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama at a ‘Joining Forces’ event before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway, November 20, 2011
Today (all times Eastern):
11:05: President Obama honors recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony; VP Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr Jill Biden also attend
1:0: President Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery; First Lady Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton also attend
4:05: President Obama meets with representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
7:10: President Obama Speaks at a Dinner in Honor of Medal of Freedom Awardees
8:40: President Obama Attends a Performance by Arturo Sandoval in Honor of Medal of Freedom Awardees at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
New Yorker: Americans Like Obamacare Where They Can Get It
As the Washington press corps reports that the Obama Administration is failing — and threatening to take down with it the entire philosophy of liberalism — a funny thing is happening out there across the country. In a number of states that have working online health-care exchanges, more and more people are signing up for the insurance coverage that is available under the Affordable Care Act.
….. During the first two weeks of November, almost sixty thousand people signed up for private insurance policies or for Medi-Cal in California, the local version of Medicaid. That’s more than twice the figure for all of October. “What we are seeing is incredible momentum,” Peter Lee, the director of Covered California, said at a press conference on Monday.
Similar things are happening in other states across the country …. Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington are on track to exceed their enrollment targets. Here in New York, too, there are positive signs….
What these states have in common are state-run Web sites that are working pretty well; they are also all controlled by Democrats who are pushing the new reform. This progress points to something that has been absent in much of the reporting about the troubled rollout of healthcare.gov and the cancellation of individual policies: in places where Americans know about the comprehensive and heavily subsidized health coverage available under the Affordable Care Act and can easily access it, they are doing so in substantial numbers.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who’s never been the Affordable Care Act’s biggest fan, appeared on MSNBC yesterday to join the critical chorus. In reference to the Obama administration, the conservative Democrat said, “The bottom line is that they messed up, they messed up royally. There’s no excuse for this.”
The administration’s missteps have been well documented, and officials have earned much of the criticism they’ve received. But to say there’ “no excuse” is to overlook Republican sabotage efforts that have made a real difference.
Todd Purdum recently made the case, for example, that “calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step” is a “less acknowledged cause” of the rollout’s troubles. Jamelle Bouie added this week, “If Republicans have shown anything over the last four years, it’s that they’ll do anything to stop the Affordable Care Act, even if it amounts to legislative sabotage.”
You mean, if you commit to making something work, instead of deliberately conspiring to make something not work – like if you put gas in your car and not hydrochloric acid – that thing is more likely to, you know, work?
…. However, I’m not sure I follow this bit of logic.
LA Times: “The growing enrollment in those states is a rare bit of good news for backers of the Affordable Care Act ….”
The Affordable Care Act is working the way it is supposed to work in those states in which officials have decided that it should work. How is that “bit of good news” “rare,” exactly, except when compared to the constant, fact-free and plan-free harping of the Republicans in the House and their pundit enablers? …..
…It’s worth noting that Fox isn’t the only one raising a fuss – conservative outlets have been complaining about Obama “snubbing” Gettysburg for months.
There are, however, some angles to this the right has overlooked. First, there have been 28 presidents since Lincoln, and 27 of them did not commemorate the anniversaries of the Gettysburg Address – and this includes Reagan, who did nothing on the 125th anniversary, and never visited Gettysburg as president. (The exception was William Howard Taft.) Obama, in other words, is doing largely what nearly all of his predecessors have done without controversy.
Second, I’m trying to imagine the uproar from some of these same conservative critics if Obama did go to Gettysburg to mark the occasion today. We can all probably imagine the predictable rhetoric: Obama thinks he’s Lincoln! The arrogance! Why is he trying to politicize a cemetery? ….
Media Matters: Right-Wing Noise Machine Fabricates Gettysburg Address Omission To Attack Obama
President Obama’s recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is sparking hysteria from the right-wing media who slammed the president for omitting the phrase “under God.” But ironically, in their hurry to attack the president, they omitted the fact that Obama was reading the first draft of the speech — a draft that did not include “under God” — at the request of filmmaker Ken Burns.
Charles Pierce: A Call To Democrats To Stop Sitting Back On This Business With Judges
It seems that the Republicans are bound and determined not to allow the president to fill the empty seats on the D.C. Court of Appeals. It also seems that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is bound and determined to be very publicly vexed about the whole business. If this seems to you to be something of a mismatch as regards to who really holds power in that august body, you are not alone.
This time, it’s Robert Wilkins, an enormously qualified federal judge who happens to be African American. The previous three nominees whom the Republicans denied confirmation were women. Have I mentioned recently that I despair of The Rebranding?
It’s time, Harry. Really, it is. I was on the other side of this issue for a very long time because I didn’t want to confront the possibility of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with the unlimited power to do anything that President Scott Walker wanted. That kind of thing still gives me pause. But this business with the judges has long passed over the International Fk You Line.
….. Do it, Harry. Drop the big one. This is getting ridiculous.
Senator Harry Reid appears set to go nuclear — before Thanksgiving.
With Senate Republicans blocking a third Obama nomination to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me Reid is now all but certain to move to change the Senate rules by simple majority — doing away with the filibuster on executive and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court – as early as this week.
… As Jonathan Chait argues, Republicans may not have even thought through the full implications of the position they’ve adopted. But Dems have, and taking it to its logical conclusion, they believe Republicans have presented them with a simple choice: Either they change the rules, or they accept those limits on Obama’s power. And that really leaves only one option.
Steve Benen: A step forward, a step back for reproductive rights
Over the summer, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed severe new restrictions on women’s health choices, which carried sweeping consequences statewide. Reproductive rights proponents hoped to prevail in the courts, and scored a partial legal victory in late October.
It didn’t last. Far-right jurists on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Perry a few weeks ago, and last night, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block implementation of the law came up one justice short … It’s worth emphasizing that this is not the final word on the subject….
… the news for reproductive rights supporters wasn’t all bad last night.
Voters in Albuquerque defeated a historic ballot measure that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, dealing the anti-abortion movement a blow….
I knew Michelle Obama was going to be the first lady when I met her in 2005 at Oprah’s big shindig she threw to honor African-American women. We were both youngins’ … It’s not that I’m telepathic, but like my mama always used to say: “Some folks just got it.”
That entire weekend I couldn’t help but notice how regal and poised she was. At almost 6 feet tall, she floated through the crowd in much the same manner Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy did. The way she held out her hand and really shook yours. I believe she used both to squeeze. Michelle gave me her business card and I emailed to tell her about my premonition. I didn’t hear back until I saw her at the first presidential debate in Washington in 2007. She apologized for not getting back to me. I just pointed to the acrylic podium where her husband would soon be standing and smiled.
And then history was made.
Millions of us couldn’t stop crying out of sheer amazement. I am thankful to have been alive to witness it all. Now, twice! That my son has grown up knowing he could in fact be president one day. For real.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Tokyo as the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy headed off to the Imperial palace to present her credentials to the Emperor Akihito (Thank you LP!)
Better bring some identification — and not just any identification, official though it may be — if you plan to vote in Republican-controlled states. However, if you contribute tens of millions of dollars to sway an election on Republicans’ behalf, the party will fight to keep your identity a secret.
Consider, for instance, what happened to some attempting to participate in this month’s elections in Texas. The New York Times reported that “Judge Sandra Watts was stopped while trying to vote because the name on her photo ID, the same one she had used for voter registration and identification of 52 years, did not exactly match her name in the official voter rolls.”
Both Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott — the front-runners in next year’s gubernatorial contest — encountered the same obstacle. As did Jim Wright, the 90-year-old former speaker of the U.S. House. Wright, who represented his Fort Worth district in Congress for 34 years, told the local paper that he had voted in every election since 1944 and that he had realized shortly before Election Day that his identification — a driver’s license that expired in 2010 and a university faculty ID — would not suffice under the state’s 2011 voter ID law. Indeed, officials required Wright to produce a certified copy of his birth certificate to procure a personal identification card that would allow him to vote.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has set a record for its largest haul in October of a non-election year, bringing in $7.1 million in the month.
The big haul came during Democratic base fury over the government shutdown and was boosted by two events held with President Obama. The committee has $25.3 million in the bank and no debt.
“House Republicans’ reckless and irresponsible agenda is not only driving their approval ratings to record lows — it’s rallying our support to record highs,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) says in a statement. “The American people believe enough is enough — and they’ve had enough with the dysfunction of this Republican Congress and the pain they’ve caused America’s middle class.”