Posts Tagged ‘Sandy

18
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand together in the Blue Room of the White House, before a brunch celebrating the Inauguration, Jan. 18, 2013 (Photo: Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Saturday and Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

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BREAKING NEWS

Steve Kornacki: Christie Camp Held Sandy Relief Money Hostage, Mayor Alleges

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc. The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported. Two days later, Zimmer got a call from the Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who wanted to come to town to do an event at a ShopRite to spotlight businesses that had recovered from the storm.

On May 13, Guadagno and Zimmer met at the Hoboken ShopRite. That is where, Zimmer said, Guadagno delivered the first message about the relief aide. Zimmer shared this diary entry which she said she wrote later that day. “At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, she pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.”

The second warning, according to Zimmer, came four days later. She and Constable, who now led Christie’s department of community affairs, were seated together on stage for a public television special on Sandy recovery. Again, Zimmer provided this diary entry from May 17, which she said captured the incident. “We are mic’ed up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening. And he says “I hear you are against the Rockefeller project”. I reply “I am not against the Rockefeller project; in fact I want more commercial development in Hoboken.” “Oh really? Everyone in the State House believes you are against it – the buzz is that you are against it. If you move that forward, the money would start flowing to you” he tells me.

More here

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USA Today: What A Shocker! Young People Like Obamacare

First it was, we think we are invincible. Then it was that the penalty was too low, or that we would be turned off by website glitches. After the Department of Health and Human Services released its initial age breakdown enrollment data Monday, it is time to finally put the pessimism to rest. Young people are enrolling in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and for good reason — being covered is essential to their economic security.

Department of Health & Human Services announced that 30% of Obamacare’s 2.2 million private insurance enrollees are under the age of 35. More specifically 24% of enrollees are between the ages of 18- and 34-years-old. In other words, the exchanges have a percentage of young adult enrollees that is comparable to their proportion of the overall population. All the evidence suggests that youth enrollment will only go up as we get closer to the deadline.

More here

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“I’ve got to get back because somebody is having a birthday today…I’m going to go ahead and sign this bill.”

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Ari Berman: Members Of Congress Introduce A New Fix For The Voting Rights Act

The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local jurisdictions would be covered if they commit three or more violations or have one violation and “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” over the past fifteen years.

The formula is based on a rolling calendar, updated with a current fifteen-year time period to exempt states who are no longer discriminating or add new ones who are, creating a deterrent against future voting rights violations. It’s based on empirical conditions and current data, not geography or a fixed time period—which voting rights advocates hope will satisfy Chief Justice John Roberts should the new legislation be enacted and reach the Supreme Court.

The new Section 4 proposal is far from perfect. It does not apply to states with an extensive record of voting discrimination, like Alabama (where civil rights protests in Selma gave birth to the VRA), Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, which were previously subject to Section 5. Nor does it apply to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have enacted new voting restrictions in the past few years. Moreover, Department of Justice objections to voter ID laws will not count as a new violation.

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David Cay Johnston: Willful Blindness Worsens Inequality

The rich really are getting richer, while the vast majority is getting poorer. All you have to do is look at the official government data to know this. Sadly, though, most of our nationally prominent journalists, especially David Brooks of The New York Times and PBS, do not know this because they neglect to do a basic journalistic task. It’s called reporting. The first and overwhelming problem is that his scale is wrong, probably because Brooks just conjured up the only hard number in that passage. Brooks writes about “the growing wealth of the top 5 percent.”

The threshold to be in the top 5 percent income group in 2012 was $161,000, analysis of tax return data by economists Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows. That is a lot of money to most people, but it is pocket change for top Wall Streeters, the group whose pay Brooks properly calls perverse. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs Goldman Sachs, was paid $23 million in 2012. That is 142 times the threshold to be in the top 5 percent. Looked at another way, had Blankfein been paid weekly, his first paycheck would have shown almost 3 times the gross pay that those at the top 5 percent threshold labored all year to make.

Goldman’s 32,400 employees made $12.6 billion last year, which is as much money as the lowest-earning 6.2 million American workers made the year before. To put that in another inequality perspective, in 2012 America had 23.3 million workers, all of them part-time or seasonal, who made less than $5,000. They averaged $2,025 each. Ponder that for a moment. About one worker in six made only $2,000.

More here

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Think Progress: Governor Of State With Highest Minimum Wage Says It’s Still Too Low

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), whose state has the highest minimum wage of any in the country at $9.32 an hour, proposed raising it to between $10.82 and $11.82 in his State of the State address on Tuesday. “There are tens of thousands of jobs that people depend on that don’t provide a living wage in our state,” he said. “An increase in minimum wage means more money being spent in our economy.”

Republicans in the sate House and Senate expressed concerns that a higher wage could hurt small businesses, farmers, and businesses along the border with Idaho, which has a minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25. Democrats control the House but Republicans effectively control the Senate. Washington has lately become home to demands for even higher minimum wages. In the town surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport, voters approved a $15 minimum wage, although a court recently narrowed its impact to just those who work outside the airport. The group that organized support for the higher wage is fighting that decision.

More here

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TIME: Harvey Weinstein To Take Aim At NRA In New Movie

Film executive Harvey Weinstein said Wednesday he plans to make an anti-gun movie starring Meryl Streep that will take a direct shot at the National Rifle Association. 

“We’re going to take this issue head on, and they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Weinstein said on Howard Stern’s radio show. “I never want to have a gun,” Weinstein said. “I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it, and I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

More here

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On This Day:

The “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” on January 18, 2009 at the National Mall

President Obama shoots hoops with his personal aide, Reggie Love, at the White House Basketball Court, Jan. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with civil rights movement leader Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and his family in the Oval Office, Jan. 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

16
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day – Pete Souza: “Two days after the shootings at Newtown, the President traveled to Connecticut to meet with the victims’ families and give remarks at a prayer vigil. The President spent hours greeting family members. Difficult as that was for everyone, the one moment that helped sooth the pain was when he posed for a photo with the siblings and cousins of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children who died that day in Newtown. I see both sadness and hope in this photograph, and I know after a lot of tears that day, it meant so much to the President that everyone was able to smile for a moment in this family photo. Thanks to the Parker family for allowing us to show this photograph publicly.” Dec. 16, 2012

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Today (all times Eastern):

1:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:0: First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington

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Michael Tomasky: Why Obama’s Haters Are Worse Than Bush’s

The left’s critics of the Bush presidency are no match to today’s paranoid right, as this week’s insane innuendo – from the Hawaii plane crash to The Handshake – perfectly illustrates.

Permit me to share with you my favorite set of headlines from Thursday.

USA Today: Official who OK’d Obama birth papers dies in crash.

NPR: Hawaiian Official Who Released Obama’s Birth Certificate Dies in Plane Crash.

NBC News: Health care director who approved Obama birth certificate dies in plane crash.

And finally, National Review, and note the difference, which rests in just one word, but what a word it is: Official Who Released Obama’s Birth Certificate Dies in Mysterious Plane Crash.

Ah, of course. “Mysterious.” Well, I mean, it had to be, didn’t it?

More here

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Real tweet:

ThinkProgress

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Steve Benen: Why there’s no Republican health care plan

Where’s the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act? The question is generally best suited for milk cartons – it’s pretty clear GOP officials would love to “repeal” the federal health care law, but we’ve been waiting for years to know what they’d “replace” it with.

…. As for why Republicans have no rival plan, there’s no great mystery. Every credible, effective solution requires some combination of regulating the private insurance market and investing in broader coverage for consumers. There’s just no way around that, and as a result, GOP officials are left with an ideological hurdle they simply cannot clear.

And so Republicans spin their wheels, condemning a policy that they used to like – remember, the basic ACA blueprint was a conservative approach to health care reform – while pretending to have an alternative they can’t identify in earnest.

Full post here

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Crooks and Liars: When Will CNN Start Being Honest About The ACA?

Another Sunday full of talking heads concerning their empty little selves with how Politifact’s ridiculous Lie of the Year determination might hurt Democrats.

…. If only Politifact had been around when George W. Bush was lying to us about Iraq and WMD. Maybe we could have saved thousands of lives by opposing that war before they sent troops into that godforsaken place for no specific purpose other than settling the score and Dubya’s Daddy issues.

Meanwhile, our panelists completely ignore the true liars in Politifact’s lie of the year: Insurers. Once again, I urge them to read the transcript of an actual telephone call which took place in 2010 luring an insured in a grandfathered plan out of that plan and into one that wasn’t grandfathered.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Newtown Victim’s Sister: ‘It Only Takes 90 Seconds’ To Do A Background Check

One year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a 27-year-old teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto, threw herself between her first graders and Adam Lanza, taking the bullets he meant for them. A photograph of her younger sister, Carlee, receiving the news of Vicki’s death on her cell phone quickly became a symbol of national heartbreak over the shooting.

On this week’s Fox News Sunday, Carlee Soto, 21, spoke with host Chris Wallace about that day and her newfound advocacy on gun violence. Soto expressed her frustration with the Senate’s failure to pass bipartisan background check legislation in April…

More here

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A Year Ago Today:

Pete Souza: “The President works on his Newtown speech at an auditorium in suburban Washington. Two days earlier, I had photographed him when John Brennan first briefed him on the shootings. Throughout that day, he reacted as we all did, which people witnessed when he delivered his statement a few hours later. Before we headed to Newtown for the Sunday night vigil, he went to watch his daughter Sasha, 11, at her rehearsal for the Nutcracker; he would be unable to attend her performance because of the trip to Newtown. During breaks in the rehearsal, he worked on his speech. His expression in this photograph may be subtle to the viewer, but not to me. There is emotion and resolve etched on his face, and he knew the importance of this speech for the nation.” Dec. 16, 2012

Eknoor Kaur, 3, stands with her father Guramril Singh during a candlelight vigil outside Newtown High School before an interfaith vigil with President Obama, Dec. 16

Members of the Sikh community hold a candlelight vigil outside Newtown high school

President Obama holding the granddaughter of Dawn Hochstrung, the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who died in the shootings. Dec 16, 2012

“My mom would be SO proud to see President Obama holding her granddaughter” (@Chass63)

President Obama with Robbie Parker, father of Emilie, one of the 20 children who died in Newtown

President Obama attends a Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School, Dec. 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

People hold hands in a bar near Sandy Hook Elementary School as President Obama speaks in Newtown

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ThinkProgress: How Newtown Transformed Gun Activism

In the year since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the American gun debate was thrust into the center of the national conversation. The horrific shooting, which left 20 children and 6 adults dead, galvanized both advocates and opponents of stricter gun regulation. 2013 saw a slew of new gun laws in virtually every state; 29 states weakened gun restrictions while 21 others and DC strengthened them. Even after a widely popular bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales failed in the Senate, Newtown continues to shape the way Americans think about guns — and the way activists talk to them.

Below is a rundown of where gun activists stand one year after Newtown…

More here

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On This Day:

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers toys donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps Base Quantico Toys for Tots Campaign warehouse in Stafford, Va., Dec. 16, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The White House and the National Christmas Tree are illuminated at dusk in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Pete Souza: “This is a photograph I’d been trying unsuccessfully to make for some time. This is looking in the back windows of the Oval Office, an unusual vantage point that only I have access to. I wanted to shoot it at dusk, so there was still a little of light remaining in the sky. He was seated at the desk for most of the call, so I waited a long time hoping he would stand up so I could see him more clearly.” Dec. 16, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama carries a bag of toys donated by Executive Office staffers into a Toys for Tots event at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on Dec. 16, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers toys and gifts donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning Everyone!

14
Dec
13

Remembering

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@PeteSouza

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14
Dec
13

Early Bird Chat

Morning everyone.

12
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: A Christmas tree frames President Obama as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Dec. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern):

12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press

7:15: VP Biden delivers remarks at U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Annual Tribute Dinner

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@WhiteHouse: Holiday lights in the Rose Garden

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Steve Benen: Obamacare enrollment soars in November

About a month ago, the Obama administration released its enrollment totals for the Affordable Care Act, offering data that covered just the first month of the open-enrollment period. Given the systemic problems with healthcare.gov, the figures were expected to fall far short of projections, and they did – 106,185 consumers signed up for health insurance through an exchange in October, and only about a quarter of that total signed up by way of the federal marketplace.

The totals were vastly improved in November …. Note that the enrollment totals do not include 1.9 million Americans who have not yet selected a plan, but who’ve gone through the eligibility process. Also note, these totals include the period before the darn website got fixed.

….Whether the right wants to admit it or not, I can think of about 1.2 million reasons – and growing – why the Affordable Care Act isn’t going away.

Full post here

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Brian Beutler: How to tell which Republicans care about their constituents’ health

A new moral dilemma: Now that Healthcare.gov is working, some Republicans have a moral quandary to consider

…. Healthcare.gov is now working well enough to sign up tens of thousands of people a day. The improvement is both anecdotal and rooted in data. The administration, its allies, and insurance companies are now stepping up enrollment campaigns that were put on ice in October and November. Thousands of people whose insurers canceled their coverage, or who got stuck on Healthcare.gov last month, are now relieved to find reasonable options available on the federal exchange ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

…. But if the big story is the turning tide of Healthcare.gov, the corollary is that committee Democrats don’t have to sit around playing defense against GOP attacks. They can attempt to reorient the debate around Republican efforts to discourage enrollment — particularly now that their constituents can, for the most part, actually access the law’s benefits.

Full post here

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David Ignatius: Obama’s relentlessly pragmatic diplomacy

This has been a year when America re-embraced diplomacy after a frustrating decade of war, displaying a relentlessly pragmatic approach that recalls the days of such deal-making secretaries of state as Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker III.

The secret diplomatic machinations have been dizzying, and sometimes disorienting. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have opened doors and created opportunities for settling intractable conflicts…..

The Iran nuclear agreement was the most striking example of the willingness to engage former adversaries…..

Israelis I talked to afterward were impressed (if not always convinced) by the dry, precise clarity of Obama’s argument for testing the Iranians

More here

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The People’s View:  As Usual, Liberals Attacking Budget Deal Miss the Long Game

Yesterday, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray announced a budget deal that eases up on the dumb sequestration, meets the House and Senate budget numbers in the middle, raises minimal revenue and avoids another government shutdown. And right on cue, ideologues on the Right and Left have begun to pounce at any hint of compromise.

John Boehner is taking flack from – and lashing out at – the right wing of activists who are incensed at the fact that House Republicans would strike any deal at all that could win President Obama’s blessing, even a qualified one. Groups like Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity (hmm… they seem to have a funding source in common) are lobbying Republicans to scuttle the deal, crying foul at the GOP’s agreement of $45 billion in higher spending than their previous position.

But if the Right wing fanatics are good at whipping up the Republican party into a frenzy, our own ideologues have also been honing their skills of whining and short-sightedness. Yesterday, it started with Ezra Klein….

More here

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ThinkProgress: What You Need To Know About The Budget Deal

Late Tuesday night, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that they had come to an agreement on a budget deal, ending negotiations begun as part of the agreement to re-open the government in October. The deal still has to be passed by the House and Senate and then implemented by appropriations committees by January 15. Here’s what you need to know about what’s in the Murray-Ryan agreement….

More here

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USA Today: Obama to hold moment of silence for Newtown victims

President Obama will lead a moment of silence Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama will honor the lives of the 26 people — including 20 children — who died in the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

More here

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TPM: Biden Says His Ancestors ‘Didn’t All Come Here Legally’

Before you decry “illegal immigrants,” Joe Biden thinks you ought to check your own familial history. That’s what the vice president said Wednesday during an online forum in response to a questioner who claimed her family immigrated to the United States legally from Ireland in the 19th century.

“My great-great grandparents came escaping the famine and they didn’t all come here legally,” Biden said, as quoted by Politico. “They didn’t all come legally. And the existence of the system isn’t all truncated like it is now. I’d check your ancestry to make sure that they did come legally if that’s a concern to you.”

More here

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This might just be the greatest toon in the history of tooniness:

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On This Day:

President Obama smiles while talking with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the phone in the Oval Office, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

The First Family at “Christmas in Washington” at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama and Bo, the Obama family dog, greet audience members at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2011.

President Obama walks along the Colonnade of the White House, Dec. 12, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

31
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey, October 31, 2012

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Today (All Times Eastern):

12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

12:0 Cory Booker will be sworn in as a U.S. senator by Vice President Biden

1:30: President Obama delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit

3:15: President Obama meets with Senator-elect Cory Booker

5:15: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome local children and military families to trick-or-treat at the White House

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Jonathan Cohn: Guess Who Really Wants To Take Away Your Insurance: Republicans

Republicans are outraged that some Americans must give up their current insurance plans because they don’t satisfy Obamacare’s new regulations for benefits and pricing. Partly they are mad at President Obama, because he repeatedly said people who like their coverage would get to keep it. And that’s fine. As I said yesterday, Obama should have said “most” people, not “all” people. Readers can decide for themselves whether, by the standards of politics, that’s a felony or misdemeanor.

But Republicans are also making a substantive argument here. It’s unconscionable, they say, that lawmakers would force people to give up their current coverage. Just a few minutes ago, during congressional testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, an angry Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee practically screamed at the witness: “You’re taking away their choice!”

It’s good politics, I’m sure. It’s also breathtakingly cynical. Republicans have repeatedly endorsed proposals that would take insurance away from many more Americans—and leave them much, much worse off.

More here

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LA Times: Another Obamacare Horror Story Debunked

Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.

She says she’s angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare’s standards.

“Please explain to me,” she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, “how my plan is a ‘substandard’ plan when … I’d be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin.” Bartiromo didn’t take her up on her request. So I will.

The bottom line is that Cavallaro’s assertion that “there’s nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act,” as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters.

I talked with Cavallaro, 60, after her CNBC appearance. Let’s walk through what she told me…

More here

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Spandan (The People’s View): The Cheapest Shot Against Obamacare, And Why Men Should Pay for Maternity

Right wing Obamacare opponents have a rehashed talking point: the Affordable Care Act forces people to purchase coverage for things they do not need. This accusation comes from the fact that the ACA requires insurance plans to cover maternity and newborn care, and that is outrageous because men, who will never get pregnant, are being forced to pay for a policy that covers maternity care.

It’s heartening to see the sudden Republican realization that men will never get pregnant; one only wishes they could apply such factual conviction to decisions about a pregnancy and let those who do get pregnant, rather than the government, determine whether to carry those pregnancies to term.

But I digress. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were free to charge women more for health insurance than men – essentially treating the fact of being female as a pre-existing condition – with the excuse that women could get pregnant, and thus they, and not those who couldn’t be pregnant, should have to pay for the cost of childbearing.

More here

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@DahmPublishing

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Steve Benen: Budget Deficit Shrinks To Five-Year Low

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently appeared on Fox News and when the discussion turned to the budget, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

In reality, the deficit is not growing; it’s shrinking:

For the first time in five years, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit below $1 trillion….

This is the fastest deficit reduction seen in the United States since the end of World War II.

More here

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Laura Smith-Spark: Syria Has Met First Chemical Weapons Destruction Deadline, OPCW Says

Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. The watchdog body’s announcement means that the first deadline has been met in an ambitious program to eliminate the country’s entire chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year. The joint United Nations-OPCW mission visited 21 out of 23 sites, the OPCW statement said, and 39 of the 41 facilities at those sites.

The remaining two sites were too dangerous for the inspectors to go to, it said, but Syria had declared those sites as abandoned. The chemical weapons equipment there was moved to other sites, which were inspected. The OPCW said it was “now satisfied that it has verified — and seen destroyed — all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.” The next milestone for the mission will be November 15, it said, when the body’s executive council must approve a detailed plan submitted by Syria for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile.

More here

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CNBC: US-Single Family Home Prices Rise In Aug, Yearly Gain Best Since 2006

U.S. single-family home prices rose in August and also posted their strongest annual gain in more than seven years, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday. The report suggested the housing sector continued to recover despite those headwinds. Home prices have been rising nationally since early 2012 and economists have singled out housing as one of the bright spots of the U.S. recovery.

More here

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Think Progress: Senate May Soon Have Enough Votes To Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) To Protect LGBT Workers

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Thanksgiving, and possibly as early as next week. This bill, which has been proposed in every Congress since 1994, would make it illegal for employers to make hiring, promotion, or firing decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Like all Senate legislation, ENDA will require a cloture vote of 60 votes before it can pass, and it seems the votes are almost all there, with several new endorsements this week.

An overwhelming majority of the country believe the employment protections already exist at the federal level, when in fact only 21 states protect sexual orientation and 17 protect gender identity. Under the current mosaic of protections, LGBT people have indicated that they much prefer working in states where they are protected, impacting businesses across the country.

More here

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Marine One departs the South Lawn of the White House at the start of President Obama’s trip to Boston, Oct. 30, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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@NewsBreaker: White House decorated for Halloween as POTUS returned from Boston

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On This Day:

President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with local residents at the Brigantine Beach Community Center, which is serving as a shelter for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets a woman in the audience after speaking at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

It was Halloween at the White House for military families and the First Lady began dancing with some of the their children, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Marian Robinson welcome children from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools for Halloween festivities at the North Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hands out treats during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reacts to performers during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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