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.”