Pete Souza: “Family dinner is usually private time. But I heard they were having dinner atop their hotel in Moscow, which overlooked the Kremlin. When they first sat down, Sasha was just having some fun with her dad.” July 7, 2009
On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the roof of the White House, July 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern)
11:0: The President speaks at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members and civilians
6:0: The President and First Lady attend the “Salute to the Military” July 4th celebration at the White House; the President delivers remarks
8:10: USO concert for troops and military families featuring recording artist Pitbull
9:10: Fireworks show on the National Mall
David Horsey: Unsung Civil Rights Heroes Fought And Died For Our Freedom
On the Fourth of July, as on all national holidays, we are encouraged to think about the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms; the likes of Washington, Lincoln and all the soldiers who have fought in our wars. This standard roster of heroes is venerable, but it is far from complete. … in 1955, a weary black woman refused to give up the seat she had taken in the white section of a bus in Montgomery, Ala. In 1957, one lone black girl walked into Little Rock’s Central High School amid the jeers of a furious mob.
In 1958, a few young blacks sat down at the whites-only counter at the Dockum Drug Store in Wichita, Kan., and refused to leave. In 1961…. …. Rosa Parks, John Lewis, James Meredith, Fannie Lou Hamer, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Medgar Evers and so many others showed bravery as great as that of any soldier. They stood firm, sacrificed and, in many cases, died for our freedom. This Independence Day, think of them and stand in awe.
As we celebrate the Fourth of July, who can argue that our democracy is working the way the Founders intended? And who can deny that most of the blame for dysfunction must fall to the Republican Party? … Whatever the motivation, Republicans have paralyzed our government in a way that would have shocked and depressed the Founders. Compounding the outrage, Republicans have the temerity to criticize Obama for using his executive powers in the national interest. This is dangerously close to nihilism.
Think about this for a moment. Urgently needed legislation has been passed by the Senate, is supported by the president and has enough votes in the House. Yet it goes nowhere, as chaos on the border worsens and thousands of children remain in limbo. Is this what the Founders had in mind? Today’s Republican Party opposes the Affordable Care Act, so it refuses to work with the Obama administration in legislating technical fixes that would make the law work more smoothly. Is this in any sense patriotic? the GOP cares more about ideology, reelection and opposing Obama’s every initiative than about the well-being of the nation. It is scant comfort, on Independence Day, to remember that the republic has survived worse.
Danny Vinik: Recovery Summer May Finally Have Arrived Finally, A Jobs Report Routs Expectations
For the past few years, it was like clockwork: A disappointing summer of job growth would give way to a much stronger winter. Economists would hesitantly forecast that the economy was about to kick into second gear. Then the summer would come and the disappointing data would return. But finally, it looks like we are ready to break that trend: The economy added 288,000 jobs in June, soundly beating economists’ expectations of 211,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.
… Consumers, businesses and investors are all showing renewed confidence in the economy. On Monday, pending home sales hit a four-year high. Automakers also reported surprisingly high sales. Many economists even expect wage growth in the second half of the year. The June jobs report only adds further support for the recovery summer. … There are few commentators on Twitter who parse the jobs report better than economist Justin Wolfers. In recent years, it was often him who urged caution as the economy picked up in the winter and would shoot down any reporters showing too much optimism. But even he couldn’t find anything to be pessimistic about in this jobs report:
There is simply no bad news in this jobs report. Go on, dig into the detail, and see if you can find it. I dare you.
NYT: Hiring Is Strong And Jobless Rate Declines To 6.1%
American companies are finally getting comfortable enough with the economy’s prospects to add new workers at a very healthy pace, after years of saying they lacked the confidence to hire people aggressively during a fitful recovery. Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department said Thursday, the fifth month in a row that hiring has topped the 200,000 mark. The unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent last month, the best reading since September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers turned what had been a mild recession into an economic rout. Factoring in June’s increase and upward revisions for estimated hiring in April and May, employers added an average of 231,000 workers a month in the first half of 2014, the best six-month run since the spring of 2006. “We’re clicking on all cylinders in terms of job growth,” said Dean Maki, chief United States economist at Barclays. Just as significant as the headline figures,
Mr. Maki said, is that June’s hiring was broad-based, as industries as varied as health care, manufacturing, financial services and retailing all added workers. “Every major sector showed job growth in June, including the private service sector, where the bulk of jobs in the U.S. are created,” Mr. Maki said. In an important turnabout, there were encouraging gains not just in well-paid white-collar professions, or in low-wage sectors like retail and restaurants, but also in the vast middle tier of jobs that enable workers to gain a foothold in the middle class. For example, manufacturers hired 16,000 workers, while transportation companies added 17,000 employees and the long-dormant public sector saw an addition of 26,000 positions.
Sally Kohn: Hobby Lobby: Sex, Lies, And Craft Supplies
“Birth control is cheap.” Hobby Lobby was about four forms of contraception that are not cheap (PDF). Plan B costs $35 to $60. Ella costs around $55. An IUD costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000. As the Notorious RBG (known to some as Ruth Bader Ginsburg) pointed out in her scathing 35-page dissent, “the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.” Similarly, for someone making $7 an hour — even if she’s lucky enough to get 40 hours of shifts in a week, which is rare — the cost of Plan B or Ella is roughly 10 percent of her take-home pay before taxes.
“Whatever, Hobby Lobby still covers 14 other kinds of contraception.” Funny thing, it actually provided all 20 until the lawyers behind the Hobby Lobby case contacted the company to see if they wanted to file suit. It was only then that the company discovered its insurance plan covered Plan B, and the two IUDs at issue—and then stopped covering them. And then Hobby Lobby sued the government for making it do something that up until that moment it had been doing on its own. Even today, Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) plan still invests not only in the manufacturers of these forms of birth control but also companies that make drugs used in medical abortions.
Irin Carmon: Female Justices Issue Searing Dissent Over New Contraceptive Case
The fierce disagreements dividing the Supreme Court over this week’s Hobby Lobby decision were laid bare Thursday in a searing dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said the Justices’ decision in a separate contraceptive case “undermines confidence in this institution.” The dissent was signed by all three female Justices. The dissent was in an order to grant an emergency request from Wheaton College, an evangelical college in Illinois. At issue is the “accommodation” the Obama administration worked out for religiously-identified non-profits: Sign a form certifying your objection, and the insurer will provide the coverage directly, without the objecting organization having to pay.
As of now, 122 non-profits have sued, claiming that signing the opt-out form for someone to get contraception violates their religious liberty. “Let me be absolutely clear: I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs,” Sotomayor wrote. “But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened … does not make it so.” She added, “Not every sincerely felt ‘burden’ is a ‘substantial’ one, and it is for courts, not litigants, to identify which are.”
Jeanna Smialek: Trade Gap In U.S. Shrinks More Than Forecast On Record Exports
The trade deficit in the U.S. narrowed more than forecast in May on record exports, signaling a pickup in global growth that will boost American manufacturers. The gap shrank by 5.6 percent, the biggest drop since November, to $44.4 billion from the prior month’s $47 billion, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 69 economists called for a contraction to $45 billion.
Sales to foreign customers climbed 1 percent on growing demand for autos and parts, petroleum products and aircraft engines. Economic expansions abroad that are gaining traction will probably continue to invigorate demand for American goods. A narrowing deficit would mean trade becomes less of a drag on gross domestic product in the second quarter after the world’s largest economy contracted in the first three months of 2014.
Lucia Graves: One Big Thing Everyone Is Missing In Hobby Lobby
The ruling is not just about sex, it’s about health. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her scathing dissent of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the Hobby Lobby case this week, made an important point about women’s health that’s been almost entirely overlooked elsewhere: For many American women, the birth-control pill has nothing to do with controlling births. It’s a life-saving medicine. “The coverage helps safeguard the health of women for whom pregnancy may be hazardous, even life-threatening,” wrote Ginsburg. “And the mandate secures benefits wholly unrelated to pregnancy, preventing certain cancers, menstrual disorders, and pelvic pain.”
The decision, which found that closely held corporations may refuse for religious reasons to cover contraceptives in their health plans, may affect millions of women who suffer from a variety of medical conditions. These women depend on the pill to regulate their hormones and do everything from ease pain to reduce the risk of cancer. These medical benefits have nothing to do with sex or the prevention of pregnancy, which have become the sole focus of political debate around the decision. Even if these women never have sex once in their lives, they need to be on birth control.
ThinkProgress: Missouri Governor Vetoes 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period: ‘This Is Insulting To Women’
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) rejected a measure on Wednesday that would have required women to wait three full days before being allowed to have an abortion procedure. His veto prevents Missouri from joining Utah and South Dakota, which are the only two states in the nation that currently have a 72-hour abortion waiting period on the books. But on Wednesday, Nixon explained that he couldn’t approve the bill because it’s unnecessary in light of his state’s existing 24-hour waiting period. “Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women who have undoubtedly already spent considerable time wrestling with perhaps the most difficult decision they may ever have to make,” the governor said in a statement.
“Expanding the mandatory waiting period presupposes that women are unable to make up their own minds without further government intervention. This is insulting to women, particularly in light of what the law already requires.” Nixon also pointed out the measure demonstrates a “callous disregard” for women’s well being by failing to include an exception for victims of rape and incest — which means that women who become pregnant through those crimes would be put through a potentially emotionally damaging wait before they’re allowed to end the pregnancy. “It victimizes these women by prolonging their grief and their nightmare,” the governor noted.
Yahoo: Putin Tells Obama He Wants Better Ties, Equal Treatment
President Vladimir Putin called for an improvement in ties between Russia and the United States on Friday in an Independence Day message to Barack Obama, urging Washington to treat Moscow as an equal partner. Relations between the two presidents and countries are at a low ebb following disagreements over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and over human rights, democracy and defence matters.
“The head of the Russian state expressed hope that … ties between the two countries will develop successfully on the basis of pragmatism and equality despite difficulties and disagreements,” the Kremlin said in a statement, outlining a telegram sent to Obama on the July 4 holiday. “Vladimir Putin also highlighted that Russia and the United States, as countries carrying exceptional responsibility for safeguarding international stability and security, should cooperate not only in the interests of their own nations but also the whole world.”
Senator Obama laughs with Sasha before speaking at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa on July 4, 2007
Senator Obama hugs Malia as they watch a Fourth of July parade in Butte, Mont., July 4, 2008
President Obama kisses a baby while greeting military families at the White House on July 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet military families at the White House on July 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on July 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pretend to march to music in the Blue Room of the White House, July 4, 2010, before delivering remarks to military families during a Fourth of July celebration (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets military families gathered for July 4th festivities on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2010
President Obama greets guests during the Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
A young girl salutes President Obama as he shakes hands along a ropeline with members of the military and their families during the Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch fireworks from the roof of the White House, July 4, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a baby while greeting guests during an Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch from the White House roof as fireworks erupt over the National Mall, July 4, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama holds a baby as he greets members of the military and their families during a Fourth of July celebration on the White House’s South Lawn, July 4, 2013
Steve Benen: An emphatic answer to the ‘Where are the jobs?’ question
…. The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June, well ahead of forecasts. The overall unemployment rate, meanwhile, dripped to 6.1% – its lowest point since September 2008, nearly six years ago.
…. April’s totals were revised up from 282,000 to 304,000, while May’s figures were also revised up, from 217,000 to 224,000.
Overall, the report suggests the jobs landscape is clearly improving, which is no doubt proof that American employers are in on the conspiracy to distract Americans from Benghazi.
…. June was the 52nd consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth – the longest on record.
At this point, with the year about half over, 2014 is currently on track to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 1999.
Business Insider: US Jobs Report Demolishes Expectations, Unemployment Rate Plunges to 6.1%
Job creation in June was much stronger than expected as signs grow that the U.S. economy is accelerating.
The U.S. added 288,000 jobs in June, blowing away expectations for an addition of 215,000 in nonfarm payrolls. The unemployment rate also fell to 6.1%, the lowest reading since September 2008. Expectations were for the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 6.3%.
Last month’s jobs report was also revised, with non-farm payrolls growing by 224,000 in May, better than the previously reported 217,000.
The report also showed April non-farm payrolls were revised up to 304,000 from 282,000.
I‘m going to speak to this just from a personal perspective. I’ve watched many Presidents in my day. I didn’t just become interested in politics when PBO came along. I volunteered for Clinton, Gore, John Kerry and then President Obama. I sort of watched Bush because my kids were over there fighting in that gawd awful war so I was tuned into cable and read the Washington Post religiously during his Presidency.
Times have changed so much with the progression of technology and the internet I have to say that of course President Obama’s Presidency is the most visible. White House dot org was a nothing site before this administration. Being able to follow PBO daily gives me an insight into his Presidency that was never available to me before.
I can tell you that Bush did very few events and when he did venture out it was to some military facility so that he could attempt to flex his C-I-C creds. It was always just a big photo op. His speeches were boring and you could only stand to listen to him speak for a minute or two before you felt violently ill. (no kidding) He was not well liked abroad because our standing in the World was piss-poor thanks to his Iraq War. Surprisingly Africa is the only country that I can remember that welcomed him warmly. Mainly because his funding for Aids in Africa is probably the only decent thing he did in his 8 years as President.
Clinton was visible and you would see on the evening news that he had traveled abroad or ventured out into DC. He remained relatively popular and was fortunate that the economy was doing quite well during his Presidency so even though he was mired in scandal from the day he stepped foot into the WH his approval stayed quite high. The country didn’t become quite so partisan until the Lewinsky scandal took place and you could feel the shift taking place after his impeachment.
IMO the Presidency was always been given the benefit of the doubt by the MSM. Papa Bush got it until he raised taxes on them. Clinton got it until the blue dress showed up. Bush got it until investigations outside of the media discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction. President Obama got no honeymoon when he became President. CNN did a report card show on his first 50 days in office. Those bogus, staged town halls on Obamacare were no longer just being talked about on cable. Suddenly we were seeing this crap on the evening news and it was being reported as if it was real outrage by every person in the country. PBO kept right on doing his job. He worked tirelessly and never gave up on ACA and we got that bill through Congress and it is now law and millions of people have health care because regardless of what impact it had on him politically he was determined to see it through. Another testament to the character of this man.
The Republicans along with their enablers our MSM have used every trick in the book to bring him down but he just keeps doing his job. He travels the country from end to end talking to America. Practically every day there is some event at the WH, social media, unconventional media or somewhere in the country that he is involved with. He honors our military constantly and salutes our sports heroes almost weekly. He’s brilliant, handsome, affable, congenial, a great dad and husband and the hippest guy we have ever had grace the halls of the West Wing.
This angers the Right and the media because he doesn’t care what they think of him. He was hired by us to do a job and he is determined to do just that. There has never been a President who has worked as hard for all of America. Half will never appreciate that but it’s okay he’s still there President too. And when the tornadoes and hurricanes sweep through their towns and cities he’ll go and give them assurance that he’ll be there to see them through and help to restore sanity to their life’s.
No poll will ever capture what he does each and everyday for this country. Skewered or weighted it doesn’t matter. The appreciation of our Nation is for the history books. The job of his supporters, those of us who know better, is to make sure that those who aren’t paying attention never forget!
Silly Season is officially in full swing. Let’s see, Boner initiates bogus lawsuit against PBO which serves to energize Dems, increasing fundraising and inspiring intelligent and impassioned mocking via the “SoSueMe#”.
Then the Supreme Court issues a partisan anti-woman decision which served to energize and enrage Dems and make the GOP look like a party out of its time (and mind, next stop, theocracy).
So what narrative is the MSM/GOP pushing?
PBO is the worst president ever according to a biased and bogus “poll”.
Chuck Todd cheerily trumpets this bullshit (its the perfect companion to his “PBO’s presidency is over” nonsense from last week, which was “based” on skewed reading of a single poll question in a single poll).
The MSM/GOP are feeling the heat, so they create anti-PBO headlines through manipulation (and often misinterpretation) of polls. Propaganda 101. The MSM/GOP are attempting to recreate the mood of 2010, but reality keeps interfering with their objective, so they are relying more and more on strategically timed polls to halt any momentum of the Dems.
Trumpeting skewed polls and ignoring or burying news that can be viewed as positive for Dems (or the country) is the current tactic. Unfortunately for the GOP/MSM, this is not 2010.
Dems seem more unified and are more angry at the GOP than they are with their own party.
PBO is leading the party through both words and deeds.
He has no fear of the GOP and is speaking truth.
So is Harry Reid, who has really found his voice recently.
In short, don’t fall for the propaganda which is designed to depress Dems. The over the top nature of their propagandizing tells me they are desperate, subtlety is out the window as they see their influence in dictating perceptions waning.
President Barack Obama began a two-day visit to Minneapolis on Thursday sharing cheeseburgers with a local working mother and bringing a middle-class message tailor made to aid Democrats fearful of massive losses in the upcoming election. Obama said he shares the frustrations of people who went to college, work hard, and still struggle to buy homes, pay for child care, and dig out from student loan debt. “You are the reason I ran for office,” he told a crowd of about 350 people gathered for a town hall forum near Minnehaha Falls. In his early life, he said, “I was you guys … You are the ones I am thinking about every single day.”
Obama talked about progress his administration has made curbing greenhouse gases and making college more affordable, but devoted much of his time to touting the need for a higher minimum wage and equal pay and benefits for women. Those issues resonate strongly in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and a Democratic-controlled Legislature enacted the largest minimum wage increase in state history this year and approved a menu of economic protections for women in the workplace. “The idea that they would not be paid the same or not have the same opportunities … is infuriating,” Obama said of female workers. “If you are doing the same job, you should get the same salary. Period. Full stop.”