On This Day: President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The Week Ahead:
Monday: President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The Vice President will also attend.
Tuesday: The President will hold an event on the FY2015 budget and the plan to expand opportunity for all in Washington, DC. In the evening, the President will attend a DSCC event in the Washington, DC area.
First Lady Michelle Obama will join Secretary of State John Kerry to honor the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State.
Wednesday: The President will travel to the Hartford, Connecticut area for an event on the minimum wage. Following this, he will travel to Boston, Massachusetts for two DNC events.
First Lady Michelle Obama will participate in a conversation with Robin Roberts at the Leading Women Defined Summit, hosted by BET Networks. The discussion will be around the Affordable Care Act and a personal reflection on health and wellness. The First Lady will also visit a health center to highlight the work that hospitals, doctors and clinics are doing to educate their patients about the Affordable Care Act and how patients can get insurance.
Thursday: The President will hold an event on the economy and healthcare in Washington, DC.
Friday: The President and the First Lady will travel to the Miami area for an event on expanding opportunity for all.
Timothy Snyder: Beneath The Hypocrisy, Putin Is Vulnerable. Here’s Where His Soft Spots Are
Russian intervention in Ukraine is directed against the EU, which Moscow has now decided is a threat to its interests and indeed a civilizational challenge. How can Europe respond to the immediate problem of military intervention in Ukraine and the more fundamental political challenge to European values and achievements? Much of the Russian elite has sent its children to private schools in the European Union or Switzerland. Beyond that, since no Russian of any serious means trusts the Russian financial system, wealthy Russians park their wealth in European banks. In other words, the Russian social order depends upon the Europe that Russian propaganda mocks. And beneath hypocrisy, as usual, lies vulnerability.
Soft power can hurt. General restrictions on tourist visas, a few thousand travel bans, and a few dozen frozen accounts might make a real difference. If millions of urban Russians understood that invading Ukraine meant no summer vacation, they might have second thoughts. If the Russian elites understood that invading Ukraine meant dealing with their disaffected teenagers on an indefinite basis, they too might reconsider. If wealthy Russians understood that their accounts could be frozen, as has just happened to Ukrainian oligarchs, that might affect their calculations as well.
President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget plan, set for release Tuesday, will request a 30% funding boost for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Obama is expected to request $280 million for the CFTC, these people said, a $65 million increase above the current-year funding levels of $215 million. The requested increase, which would be the largest in the agency’s history, would be funded through user fees to entities policed by the agency. An administration official said the funding boost, if enacted, would allow the agency to increase its staff by more than one-third and modernize its technology systems.
“The president is committed to securing sufficient funding to enable the CFTC to effectively oversee the futures and swaps markets,” the official said. The agency, which is responsible for implementing dozens of new rules required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law, has consistently warned it is underfunded. The funding woes prompted the CFTC to furlough employees last year and delay or shelve certain enforcement matters. Under the White House plan, the user fees would ensure taxpayers don’t have to bear the agency’s funding costs and put the CFTC on equal footing with other financial regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
TPM: Hundreds Of Gunmen Surround Military Base In Crimea
Hundreds of armed men in trucks and armored vehicles surrounded a Ukrainian military base Sunday in Crimea, blocking its soldiers from leaving. The outnumbered Ukrainians placed a tank at the base’s gate, leaving the two sides in a tense standoff. In Kiev, Ukraine’s new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military, warning that “we are on the brink of disaster.” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine without firing a shot.
“There was no reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk said after a closed session of his new parliament in Kiev. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced late Saturday that he had ordered Ukraine’s armed forces to be at full readiness because of the threat of “potential aggression.” He also said he had ordered stepped-up security at nuclear power plants, airports and other strategic infrastructure.
NBC News: Kerry Denounces Russian ‘Act Of Aggression,’ Warns Of Trade Freeze
Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the Russian movement of troops into Ukraine Sunday as “an act of aggression” and accused President Vladimir Putin of “possibly trying to annex Crimea.” “He’s going to lose on the international stage, Russia is going to lose, the Russian people are going to lose, and he’s going to lose all of the glow that came out of the Olympics, his $60 billion extravaganza,” Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He warned that Russia will suffer a loss of trade and investment if Putin does not reverse course.
Russia has “major investment and trade needs” which are bound to suffer if Russian troops don’t leave Ukraine, he said. “There’s a unified view by all of the foreign ministers I talked with yesterday – all of the G-8 and more — that they’re simply going to isolate Russia; that they’re not going to engage with Russia in a normal business-as-usual manner…. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this,” he said. He also warned that “there could even be ultimately asset freezes,” but did not specify how long it would take for foreign governments and banking authorities to freeze Russian assets held abroad. He also threatened bans on issuing visas to Russians seeking to travel to Europe, the United States and other countries.
Hayes Brown: 5 Ways The U.S. Can Respond To Russia Invading Ukraine – Without Going To War
1. Suspend Russia’s membership in the G-8 Russia joining the Group of 7 in 1998, despite being the weakest of the group’s economies at the time, was considered a huge boost to the prestige a country still recovering after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia is also due to host the next meeting of the G-8 in Sochi, the site of the recently concluded Olympics, this June. Rather than the U.S. simply boycotting the meeting, the Obama administration could lead the charge along with the other members to suspend Russia’s membership in the group.
Secdef tells Russian Def Minister that Russian military intervention in Ukraine risks further instability in the region.
3. Enact trade sanctions against Russia As recently as December, Russia was looking to boost trade with the United States — which already stands at about $40 billion annually — though remaining just shy of a free trade deal. Both Russia and the United States are members of the World Trade Organization, which brings with it certain obligations when it comes to tarrifs and trade embargoes. But insofar as those obligations allow, the U.S. can use reduced trade with Russia to show its displeasure.
4. Suspension of NATO cooperation and participation After the collapse of the USSR, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization welcomed in several of the formerly Soviet states, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Russia has long seen this expansion as a threat, which is part of the reason Ukraine is not a NATO member state. To help assauge those fears, NATO began outreach to Russia in the late 1990s, including setting up a NATO-Russia Council to frequently meet and exchange concerns. In light of Putin’s move on Ukraine, the U.S. should move to have those meetings suspended and cooperation between NATO and Russia halted.
With his widely read novel “Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison ignited a conversation and an awareness of racial alienation in America that had the potential to help bridge the gap between the nation’s races. But as we celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday on Saturday, it is almost staggering to see how little has changed since Ellison published the book in 1952. Black people — and black men in particular — are still viewed and judged as though we are all one person, with one mind, and that we are all either criminals or about to become criminals. We are still treated as if we are less than everyone else, no matter the degrees we may possess, how impressive our job titles or our contributions to society. Indeed, as we celebrate Ellison today, it is a shame to have to say that the black man as an individual is still “invisible” and that the country has a long way to go.
There isn’t a black man or boy in this country who has not been told by someone in his family that while people may say we are equal, the reality is quite different and that — should you find yourself in a situation with any person of authority, or a rogue vigilante who thinks he’s above the law — it is better to hold your tongue and submit to the traffic ticket, search or humiliating line of questioning and get home alive than it is to try and make a stand to prove your point and come home in a pine box. At the end of Ellison’s novel, the main character learns to embrace his individuality after years of conforming to society’s perceptions and expectations of what a black man is supposed to be. Today, it is society that needs to embrace the individuality of minorities and re-examine where our nation’s race relations really are.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and autocrat, had a plan for the winter of 2014: to reassert his country’s power a generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He thought that he would achieve this by building an Olympic wonderland on the Black Sea for fifty-one billion dollars and putting on a dazzling television show. It turns out that he will finish the season in a more ruthless fashion, by invading a peninsula on the Black Sea and putting on quite a different show—a demonstration war that could splinter a sovereign country and turn very bloody, very quickly.
Sergei Parkhomenko, a journalist and pro-democracy activist who was recently detained by the police in Moscow, described the scenario taking shape as “Afghanistan 2.” He recalled, for Slon.ru, an independent Russian news site, how the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, in 1979, under the pretext of helping a “fraternal” ally in Kabul; to Parkhomenko, Putin’s decision to couch his military action as the “protection” of Russians living in Crimea is an equally transparent pretext. The same goes for the decorous way in which Putin, on Saturday, “requested” the Russian legislature’s authorization for the use of Russian troops in Ukraine until “the socio-political situation is normalized.” The legislature, which has all the independence of an organ grinder’s monkey, voted its unanimous assent.
Paul Carr: On The Importance Of Keeping Investors Out Of The Newsroom, And Not Treating Your Readers Like Fools
Yesterday afternoon, Pando published a report by Mark Ames showing that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ukrainian opposition groups involved in the overthrow of the country’s government. Even more interesting, given that Omidyar is now publisher ofThe Intercept, a blog which vows to expose American government wrongdoing, is the revelation that his co-investor in the groups was… the US government. This morning, Omidyar Group staffer Glenn Greenwald spent almost three thousand words meticulously not responding to the piece. Whether Greenwald likes it or not, this is an important story and one we will continue to report. There is, however, one aspect of Greenwald’s post that demands a firm rebuttal, and that’s his continuing attempt to shrug off Pierre Omidyar’s $250 million investment in First Look as if it’s business as usual for a media organization.
To suggest Omidyar is just a passive investor in Greenwald, Scahill, Wheeler et al. is as ridiculous as claiming Jesus was just a passive backer of the disciples (“Nah, you’ve got it all wrong. He just gave us the bread and wine, it’s up to us what we do with it.”) Pierre Omidyar is not the dumb money behind First Look, he is the company’s founder and publisher. It was Omidyar who called Glenn Greenwald and personally hired him to head The Intercept, just as it was Omidyar himself who takes credit for having hired Matt Taibbi away from Rolling Stone. Even after making those key hires, Omidyar did not recuse himself from the day-to-day editorial operations.
Pierre Omidyar, First Look’s sole backer, has a vision. A vision he spends his day sharing with First Look’s reporters via their internal messaging. By Scahill’s own admission, Omidyar’s voice is heard more frequently than any editorial staffer at the company. And yet, by Greenwald’s admission, he has spent precisely no time investigating the business deals or conflicts of interest which might shape that vision, or might lead Omidyar to try to influence the reporting by the staff whose paychecks he alone signs. If that’s how Omidyar believes the business of media should be transacted, that’s his choice. And if Greenwald is convinced that he remains entirely incorruptible, despite the constant muzak of his master’s voice playing in the newsroom, that’s fine too. But it’s not how most media companies do things, and it’s not how we do things at Pando. By claiming otherwise, Greenwald is treating his readers as fools.
With just a month left for Americans to select health plans this year through new insurance marketplaces, the Obama administration is bending some rules to prevent people from being stranded without coverage because of state-run exchanges riddled with computer problems. In states with dysfunctional insurance marketplaces, the government will for the first time help pay for certain health plans that consumers buy on their own. And once people in those states are able to sign up through the exchanges, their insurance can be made retroactive. These rewritten rules, laid out in a three-page memo,
can be used by any state but are aimed primarily at helping people in Maryland and three other states whose exchanges have not been working well. The four states are among 14 that have each created an insurance marketplace under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The rewritten federal rules would allow people to receive federal subsidies for health plans outside exchanges as long as the covered benefits are comparable to those of plans sold through the exchanges. In order to get retroactive subsidies, people will have to start to pay the full price of their health plan, then get the reduction once their state’s exchange is working well enough to determine whether their incomes make them eligible for the help.
President Obama with Donna Brazile and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at the DNC Winter Meeting in Washington, Friday
On This Day:
Senator Obama holds up a baby as he greets supporters during a town hall meeting in Westerville, Ohio, March 2, 2008
First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters, Malia and Sasha, sled in the snow on the South Lawn of the White House, March 2, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama boards Air Force One, prior to departure from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Mona Sutphen, chief of staff for policy, Josh Earnest, assistant press secretary, and Jeffrey Lerner, of the Office of Political Affairs, aboard Marine One en route to the White House, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs H.R. 4691, Temporary Extension Act of 2010, in his private office in the residence of the White House, March 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait in the Blue Room of the White House before greeting recipients of the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama shares a laugh with National Humanities Medal honoree Wendell E. Berry, as President Obama talks with National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman in the Blue Room of the White House, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Colonnade prior to their meeting in the Oval Office, March 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a conference call about the “Let’s Move!” Healthier U.S. School Challenge in the Map Room of the White House, March 2, 2011. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Mrs. Obama to speak with education stakeholders about doubling the number of schools participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama is briefed by Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan, during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, March 2, 2011. Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon are at right (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Vice President Biden talk following a meeting in the Oval Office, March 2, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama embraces members of the Johnson C. Smith ladies’ basketball team during a “Let’s Move!” physical fitness promotion between games at the CIAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., March 2, 2012
President Barack Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum establishing My Brother’s Keeper
President Barack Obama reacts as he is introduced to speak by Christian Champagne, 18, from Chicago at the unveiling of Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative at the White House. The program aims to improve opportunities for boys from minority groups.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton (parents of Trayvon Martin)
Youth Guidance: President Obama Invites BAM Program Back To The White House
President Obama has invited Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) program back to Washington D.C. to kick off a new White House initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper.” Three B.A.M. students from Hyde Park High School, along with B.A.M. Lead Supervisor, Marshaun Bacon, and Youth Guidance Board Member, Stuart Taylor, will visit the White House Thursday and Friday. The President’s initiative will support young male minorities by bringing foundations and companies together to find ways to keep young men in school and out of the criminal justice system.
USA Today: Obama Plans Program To Aid Minority Men
As part of the new effort, businesses and foundations would seek to develop strategies designed to help young men at critical and vulnerable parts of their lives. Goals range from helping boys get to school on time to avoiding problems with the criminal justice system. Ideas include promoting literacy, early childhood education and healthy lifestyles, as well as disrupting what one official called “the school-to-prison pipeline.” “My Brother’s Keeper” also involves a review of existing federal programs designed to address the challenges facing young men, discarding those that don’t work and improving those that do — “all within existing federal resources,” one official said. One official said the goal of “My Brother’s Keeper” is “to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential.”
Yahoo: Obama Embraces A Lifelong Cause: Helping Minority Boys Succeed
“I never signed a Father’s Day card before,” the young man explained as the president opened the card. “I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card, either,” Obama replied, according to an aide, improbably closing the distance between the Chicago teens and the American president. It was an intimate, private moment that moved him. On Thursday afternoon, Obama will be addressing the same set of issues in a far more public way. Three of the BAM teens will return to the White House for Obama’s unveiling of a new initiative partly inspired by the Chicago program. As part of “My Brother’s Keeper,” as the new campaign is known, the White House will bring together nonprofits, foundations and private businesses to endorse and test out programs designed to help young minority men graduate from high school, stay out of juvenile detention centers and prisons, and train for and get good jobs.
Now that Karen Willmus can get health insurance through Obamacare, she plans to quit teaching 9th grade English at the end of the school year. The 51-year-old found policies on the Colorado state exchange for about $300 a month. That’s less than what she’s paying now for employer-sponsored coverage and less than half what she paid on the individual market in 2007. Obamacare is allowing them to become entrepreneurs or retire a few years early since they’ll be able to find affordable individual coverage for the first time. Instead of eating bonbons on her couch, Willmus plans to start her own business with her teen daughter publishing materials for non-native English speakers and others looking to improve their literacy. She expects to work even more than she does now and hire two or three people. “I can’t afford to go out and buy insurance while trying to start a business,” said Willmus, of Colorado Springs, Colo. “Obamacare will allow me to be more comfortable at risking what I own.”
For others, Obamacare frees them to leave a job before they qualify for Medicare. Edward Perri’s job as a grocery clerk has caused him constant back and knee pain in recent years, but he continued to work because he needed insurance. Obamacare allowed him to retire in December after 39 years, 4 months and 23 days on the job. His retiring at 57 allowed a more junior employee to move up on the job, said Perri, who is single and lives in Muskegon, Mich. Had Obamacare not existed, he’d either have to try to tough it out until he qualified for Medicare at 65 or pay $500 a month for COBRA coverage. Instead, he’s paying $50 a month for a policy. And, as he sees it, the $450 that he would have sent to an insurance company is going to buy groceries, fix his car and take a vacation with his girlfriend. “That is money I spend in the local economy, creating and saving jobs,” he said.
I told her that I was stunned by her grace after the verdict. I told her the verdict greatly angered me. I told her that the idea that someone on that jury thought it plausible there was a gun in the car baffled me. I told her it was appalling to consider the upshot of the verdict—had Michael Dunn simply stopped shooting and only fired the shots that killed Jordan Davis, he might be free today. She said, “It baffles our mind too. Don’t think that we aren’t angry. Don’t think that I am not angry. Forgiving Michael Dunn doesn’t negate what I’m feeling and my anger. And I am allowed to feel that way. But more than that I have a responsibility to God to walk the path He’s laid. In spite of my anger, and my fear that we won’t get the verdict that we want, I am still called by the God I serve to walk this out.”
I asked McBath how she felt about her country. She paused, then gave an answer that perfectly summed up the spirit of African-American patriotism. “I still love my country. It’s the only country we have. This is the best that I’ve got,” she said. “And I still believe that there are people here who believe in justness and fairness. And I still believe there are people here who don’t make judgments about people based on the color of the skin. I am a product of that. But I am disheartened that as far as we’ve come it doesn’t matter that we have a black president. It doesn’t matter how educated we’ve become. It doesn’t matter because there still is an issue of race in this country. No, we have not really arrived. If something like this can happen, we have not arrived. And I ask myself, ‘At what point are we going to get there?’ And I have no answer. And I want to be able to answer.”
She wanted you to know that Jordan Davis was an individual black person. That he was an upper-middle-class kid. That his ancestry was diverse. That he had blacks in his family. Mexicans in his family. Panamanians in his family. That his great-grandfather was white. That some of his ancestors had passed. Now she addressed him, “You exist,” she told him. “You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid of being you.” She gave my son a hug and then went upstairs to pack.
Gene Lyons: Why Republicans Will Never Stop Lying About Obamacare
Politically speaking, here’s the thing about those melodramatic ads attacking the Affordable Care Act currently running on TV: In terms of actual policy, they’re as futile as the 40-odd votes to repeal the law that House Republicans have already cast. GOP hardliners are like a drunk in a bar fight threatening to whip somebody twice his size if only his friends would let go of his arms. It’s all over but the shouting. Like it or not, the ACA is here to stay. Indeed, governors and legislatures in previously recalcitrant states including New Hampshire, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia are considering Medicaid expansion they’d previously shunned.
Despite early signup problems with the federal HealthCare.gov exchange, signups for individual private policies have increased to where it now appears the ACA will come close to meeting its projected goal of 7 million enrollees by the March 31 deadline. In Arkansas, virtually every news program features a pretty, AFP-sponsored actress plaintively begging viewers to remind Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor that health care is about “people,” and that “the law just doesn’t work.” More in sorrow than anger, it seems, because Pryor remains personally popular.
Natelege Whaley: Rally To Remember Trayvon Martin And Jordan Davis To Be Held In NY
A day of outrage and remembrance for Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis will be held in Times Square in New York City on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Several other locations around the country will be holding marches including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina.
The rally is being organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. The organization is calling for demonstrators to meet at the red bleachers on 47th street between Broadway and 7th Avenue at 6:30 p.m.
Participants are asked to wear a hoodie and to stand in silence holding up signs with targets stating “No More.” The signs can be printed here. The aim of the event is to refuse acceptance of Black and Latino youth as targets of violence in America.
NYT: Solar Industry Jump-Starts A Revival In California
Back in 2009, when Danny Kennedy was looking for office space for the fast-growing solar services company he had co-founded, his venture capital investors recommended setting up shop in one of the “Twitterville kinds of areas” south of Market Street in San Francisco. There, social media and peer-to-peer pioneers like Foursquare, Yelp, Airbnb and, indeed, Twitter had created a technology zone where innovative ideas could fly free and cross-pollinate among young workers meeting casually over food and drink.
Instead — after looking at buildings he deemed “foggy and frumpy and cold and wet,” not to mention expensive — Mr. Kennedy ended up in an airy loft across the bay here at Jack London Square. In just four years, the company, Sungevity, has grown to 300 employees from 55 in its 11,000-square-foot space overlooking the Oakland Estuary, helping jump-start the area’s stalled revitalization. Taking things a step further, Mr. Kennedy, a former environmental advocate, has developed an incubator-accelerator program, the SfunCube, to attract and nurture other solar start-ups.
Zero Hedge: Ukraine Calls Russia’s Bluff, Slashes Nat Gas Imports By 80%
Twice in recent years, Russia has suspended gas supplies, or notably raised prices, as the somewhatwell-known “trump card” of Russia’s oil and gas supply to Ukraine (and Europe for that matter) remains Putin’s easiest option for clenching his iron-first against the divided nation. Following a pre-emptive move in November by Ukraine to diversify its energy supply, Russia had reduced the price of gas for the highly indebted Ukraine in December (to entice Ukraine under Russia’s wing); but, after recent events, Dmitry Medvedev signaled on Monday that the price could be raised again. However, today we find that Ukraine’s state oil and gas company, Naftogaz, has slashed gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom by stunning 80% in February as Ukraine tries to show Russia it can’t be pushed around… of course, with limited (and more expensive) alternative supplies, we fear this could well shoot them in the foot.
NY Mag: Is It Mean To Debunk Lies About Obamacare?
Some eight months before the midterm elections, the airwaves are being flooded with the sad tales of Obamacare victims. The tales all fall into the same predictable rut. First, the poor victim steps forward to share his (or, more frequently, her) tale of deprivation. Then reporters discover the putative victim is either a non-victim, or possibly a beneficiary, of Obamacare. Then conservatives get angry. Finding a person made worse off by a huge, complex social-policy reform still in its first months in a gigantic country ought to be simple, yet the Republican Party has continuously failed to achieve even in the modest task which was its charge.
In her reply to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Cathy McMorris-Rogers held out the plight of “Bette from Spokane,” who is facing an astronomical price increase, which turned out to be highly inaccurate. The victim, Bette Grenier, could have secured a better plan if she had checked on the exchange, but told a reporter following up, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all.” And yes, if the criteria for Obamacare victimhood includes forcing somebody to participate in a law designed by Barack Obama in order to save money, then any Obama-created health-care law is going to produce a lot of victims.
The only activity in the hospital compound in Bor, South Sudan, these days is the dozens of vultures circling overhead. In mid-January, rebel forces swept into the Bor hospital, killing everyone that could not escape. Underscoring its crime, the group collected and burned the bodies of its victims. All that remains are bloodstained shoes, charred medicine vials, and overturned wheelchairs. Scorched patches of earth show where people were set on fire. When local residents are asked who was responsible, the answer is always the same: child soldiers of a militia called the White Army.
In the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of boys from the southern part of Sudan were driven from their homes and forced to trek hundreds of miles in search of sanctuary. Many were press-ganged into military service. They crossed two international borders, faced surreal life-threatening challenges, and eventually given asylum by the U.S. government, landing them in places like Phoenix, Atlanta, and D.C. They came to be known as the Lost Boys. Today, renewed warfare in South Sudan is creating a new generation of Lost Boys.
Jonathan Cohn: CBO On House Obamacare Bill: More Uninsured, Higher Deficits
The Congressional Budget Office just taught the Republican Party a lesson. Governing is hard. The CBO on Tuesday issued a formal cost estimate of House Resolution 2575, a bill from Republican Todd Young of Indiana. The bill’s formal title is the “Save American Workers Act.” Its goal is to change Obamacare’s employer mandate—the requirement that medium-sized and large businesses pay a penalty if they do not offer affordable health insurance to all full-time employees. The definition of “full-time” is anybody who works at least 30 hours a week. And, for some time, the media has been full of stories of employers—particularly low-wage employers, governments, and universities—reducing or limiting worker hours, in order to avoid the costs of coverage.
CBO takes a different view. Virtually every respectable economist who has looked at the numbers has determined that there’s been no large-scale shift in hours. It’s not that the anecdotes are fake. As Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily has shown, some businesses are clearly limiting the hours of employees. It’s that, ultimately, they don’t add up to that much. The CBO reached the same conclusion—suggesting, in effect, that Young’s bill is solving a problem that may not need solving. But that doesn’t mean Young’s bill would have no effect. On the contrary, CBO found, about one million fewer people would end up with employer health insurance. And while some of them would find other forms of coverage, like Medicaid and insurance from the new exchanges, overall the net bill’s net effect would be to increase the number of people without any insurance by about half a million. And it turns out that moving the full-time threshold from 30 to 40 hours has a substantial effect on revenue, according to CBO: Over the next ten year period, from 2015 to 2024, the federal government would take in $73 billion less. That’s real money.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks as Sen. Barack Obama looks on in a debate at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center February 26, 2008
President Obama arrives to discuss his proposed 2010 budget in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington on February 26, 2009
President Obama signs a wall during a tour of the International Brotherhood of Electricians (IBEW) Local 26 headquarters in Lanham, Md., Feb. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama signs an executive order in the East Room of the White House February 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama delivered remarks and signed an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities during the event.
President Obama greets Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Attorney General Eric Holder after speaking about the details of a $26 billion housing settlement between federal and state officials and mortgage lenders, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on February 6, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama listens to President Obama speak in the State Dining Room of the White House, February 26, 2012, during the Governors Dinner.
President Obama waves to employees during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding February 26, 2013 in Newport News, Virginia. Obama spoke on the impact from the sequester would be for the defense industry and its workers
I saw the young man
In the photograph
Three rows in, on the right
After you pointed him out
And he wore a hoodie
On that day of days
And probably into that night
Back in May of 1969
When the people were
Awful Dr. King assassination
We had all lived through
The year before.
And so it was in so many ways
And so many years since
That another young man
Minding his own business
With his entire life ahead
Walked out onto the street
Away from the protection of his father
Wearing a hoodie into the night
And into the photographs in our minds
Rest in Peace, Dr. King
Rest in Peace, Trayvon Martin
Never forgotten in the annals of history
And the depths of the souls
Of good people
Like you, when you thought to point out the likeness
Like us, when we understood the meaning
Good people, coast to coast
And sea to shining sea
All the good people they left behind
To pass the story forward.
Republicans have pulled out all the stops to kill Obamacare, the president’s landmark health care law that requires every American to purchase health insurance by 2014. There have been lawsuits; there have been bills (40 in the House so far); there has been a Supreme Court case—all aimed at rolling back a law that that the GOP says is an assault on individual liberty. Now, with only a few more months to go until the individual mandate—the requirement that we all have coverage—kicks in, Republicans are frantic; some are eventhreatening to force the United States to default on its debts if Democrats don’t agree to delay the law.
This is odd because the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare, was originally a conservative idea. It was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. And scores of Republicans—not just Mitt Romney—have backed the idea in the past couple of decades. Here are some of the GOPers who supported Obamacare before Obama
CBS: Obama Orders Release Of Report Justifying Syria Strike
President Barack Obama called his national security team together Saturday to talk about the next move in Syria. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led off the three-hour White House meeting with detailed analysis of the evidence about the chemical weapons attack, the disposition of victims and what the administration now believes is a near air-tight circumstantial case that the Syrian regime was behind it.
Obama ordered a declassified report be prepared for public release before any military strike commences. That report, top advisers tell CBS News, is due to be released in a day or two.
The world’s focus is currently on Syria and how the United States will respond to last week’s reports of a massive chemical weapons attack against civilians … President Obama has been meeting with his top national security advisors to come to a conclusion on how to move forward in Syria. Just over a year ago, Obama called the use of chemical weapons a violation of a “red-line” that would change U.S. calculations. With that in mind, here are details of at least three of the options that Obama has before him:
Stay The Course: Contrary to at times heated rhetoric, the United States has not exactly been sitting on its hands over the past three years with regard to Syria. So far, the U.S. has provided more than one billion dollars worth of humanitarian aid …. sticking to the current strategy of limited direct engagement has the added benefit of not introducing U.S. forces and assets directly into an unknown theater…..
Limited Strikes: …. in the form of cruise missile strikes from naval ships or air strikes from one of the U.S. nearby military bases, aimed at taking out Syria’s remaining chemical weapons facilities and possibly other government targets….
The ‘Kosovo Model’ and No-Fly Zone: …. a lengthier air engagement, designed to break the Syrian government’s momentum and aiding in the eventual overthrow of Assad’s government….
Chicago Tribune: First Lady To Pay Tribute To Whitney Young During Civil Rights Documentary
First lady Michelle Obama, an alumna of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, will pay tribute to the school’s namesake Tuesday at a screening of a documentary film depicting his crusade for civil rights.
Obama will make remarks at the screening of “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” ….. The film chronicles Young’s civil rights battles during the 1960s and his journey from segregated Kentucky to the leadership of the National Urban League, aides to the first lady said. He lived from 1921-1971.
This week, as many students head back to school, the sequester’s Head Start cuts mean that 57,000 low-income kids will not. Wahpeton, ND illustrated Head Start spots that fell victim to the sequester with empty seats and a sign that reads “these 12 chairs represent the 12 children who will not be able to attend Head Start due to budget cuts from Sequestration.”
‘Do you see the harm in sequestration?’
Head Start programs aren’t the only area where the sequester’s impact continues to sink in — see stories on scientific research, overburdened justice systems, low-income housing, economic growth and more below. As policymakers move into a fall season laden with budget battles, they’d do well to remember what’s at stake and consider replacing sequestration with a backloaded deficit-reduction plan balancing cuts with new revenues.
Remember what we say here at OTE — those who forget the sequester are doomed to repeat it.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is scheduled to deliver her farewell address Tuesday to reflect on the past four-and-a-half years in the Obama administration before she begins her next chapter as head of the University of California system.
The speech is expected to begin at 10 a.m. ET at the National Press Club in Washington (C-Span)
Texas Tribune: Documents Still Show No Evidence of Excrement at Abortion Debate
Documents released Monday by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s provided no new evidence that officers found one jar of urine and 18 containers of feces at the Capitol before a July 12 debate on a controversial abortion bill.
DPS released a press statement the day of the debate that said officers had discovered one jar suspected of containing urine and 18 jars suspected to contain feces. After initially resisting requests for additional information about the reported discoveries, DPS on Monday released 144 pages of documents about the alleged incident. But the documents contain no official reports of the findings, and several DPS officers said they had not seen any of the suspected items.
Mother Jones: Talib Kweli: “We Send Young White Boys To The Army. We’re Sending Young Black Boys To The Prisons.”
MJ:What are your thoughts on the recent court ruling that New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies are tantamount to racial profiling—and the fact that Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would appeal?
TK:He also said that if it was is his son, he might feel different.Bloomberg is a sensible guy. He’s just privileged. He’s a goddamn billionaire, and he or his family members have never had to deal with anything as remotely degrading as stop and frisk. So he has no point of reference.
MJ:New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said people in minority communities want more stop and frisk.
TK:That’s all propaganda and it’s bullshit. No one likes to be treated like that. For him to make that statement is ignorant. What it’s saying is that because you’re poor, because you live in a neighborhood that deals with oppressed conditions, you deserve to be treated like a criminal. In our Constitution it says you have the right to live without illegal search and seizure. What else is stop and frisk? These neighborhoods are unsafe not because there’s not enough cops illegally frisking people. They’re not safe because of economic conditions. They’re not safe because of all types of things in the government that people like Bloomberg and Ray Kelly should be looking to fix instead of randomly searching kids in the hood. If you go to a college campus and you do stop and frisk, you’re going to find a lot of drugs there, too.
MJ:Do you see any connection between this debate and the one over the NSA snooping?
TK:Well, I think the biggest problem in our country is mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. From the Rockefeller drug laws to stand your ground to stop and frisk, all these are pointing people, especially and disproportionately black and brown people, towards the criminal-justice system. It’s depleting whole generations of people. We send young white boys to the Army, we’re sending young black boys to the prisons. And you have people at the top who don’t have to deal with any of that degradation getting rich off of this.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses marchers during his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Rev. Al Sharpton links arms with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), as they are joined by other civil rights activists and politicians to march during the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks at a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Sabrina Fulton, mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, speaks at the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial
Hamil Harris: William Allison, 92, came to today’s march with same sign he marched with in ’63
a quote from Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) stood out. “There are two things they all agree on: you can’t shut down the government, and you can’t default on the debt,” he told Harwood. “At some point, leaders have to lead.” True. But that requires someone to follow, and time and again the GOP’s raucous caucus, especially in the House, has shown contempt for its leaders.
the prospects of a disastrous fall with a government shutdown or an unprecedented default have Republican strategists and donors freaked out. They write that one of the fears is that if one or both of those things happen it would “[end] all hopes of proving they are not insane when it comes to governance.” Folks, that horse has long left the barn.
Almost as soon as George Zimmerman was pronounced “not guilty” in a Florida courtroom, the cry went up. The U.S. government must get “justice for Trayvon,” insisted protesters angry about the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. The call will resound again later this month through events marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Attorney General Eric Holder, the first black man to lead the nation’s law enforcement, says the Justice Department is investigating.
Why would the feds consider stepping into a state murder case? The federal government has claimed its power of protecting civil rights against violence as far back as the Reconstruction era. Empowered by constitutional amendments and early civil rights laws passed after the Civil War, the government sought to protect newly freed blacks and their voting rights, mostly from the Ku Klux Klan.
NPR: RNC Isn’t Focusing On The Elephant In Its Ballroom
They talked about the Hillary Clinton documentary and miniseries. They talked about how well they’re doing raising money. They talked about how they’re building a state-of-the-art data mining and voter turnout operation. Here’s what the Republican National Committee members didn’t talk about at their summer meeting, but, rather, talked around: their existential need to broaden their base of support, and how so far their traditional base is not exactly embracing the idea.
These leaders are getting strong resistance from much of their own white, disproportionately southern base of support. The GOP establishment is having to counter a “missing white voters” theory that posits that minority outreach is not necessary (at least not in the next few election cycles) if the party can instead bring disaffected whites back to the polls.
Privately, other Republicans are less sanguine — and already wondering if it will take another White House loss in 2016 for the party base to accept what they are already certain is demographic inevitability.
When the group of student activists known as the Dream Defenders entered the Florida Capitol last month to demand a special session on the controversial “stand your ground” law, they couldn’t have predicted how they would leave. They left Thursday with tangible accomplishments and the seeds of a promising, progressive organization. They did not force a special session of the Legislature or a repeal of the indefensible law, but they did capture the attention of the public, the ear of Tallahassee lawmakers and a promise of a legislative hearing this fall. Not bad for a bunch of young people with passion for what is right and no political connections or campaign cash.
Even on a summer family vacation, President Barack Obama is followed by an entourage whose behind-the-scenes movements are juggled by a woman who was born into politics and has been with him since his Chicago days. Ashley Tate-Gilmore heads the White House Travel Office, a five-person operation that handles precise logistics behind every presidential trip. The details usually go unnoticed by the public, unless something goes horribly wrong. Tate-Gilmore not only acts as a high-stakes travel agent for White House press and staff, but a mini-ambassador who is often the first to arrive at presidential destinations.
From the island she’s dealing with visa applications for Obama’s visit to Russia next month and setting up Obama’s bus tour next week to New York and Pennsylvania. And she is planning to travel overseas next week to make arrangements for a future presidential trip. Tate-Gilmore has learned to be no-nonsense in her dealings with local officials, hotels and venues Obama will visit. In preparation for his trip to Africa earlier this year, members of the White House advance party suffered bug bites staying in the press hotel. Tate-Gilmore demanded the hotel hire an exterminator — and take along a photographer who could email her pictures back in Washington to prove all the rooms had been fumigated. When a radio reporter contracted food poisoning on the stop in Tanzania, Tate-Gilmore insisted on staying overnight in the hospital and worked with doctors to ensure she got proper care.
President Obama’s moving remarks last Friday July 19, 2013, that Trayvon Martin could have been him 35 years ago took me back to another high note in his presidency – the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Dec 10, 2009.
Nobel Prize acceptance 12-10-2009
Both the polite audience seated in the cavernous Norwegian auditorium, as well as a global audience of admirers and skeptics all listened with rapt attention. President Obama could have chosen to deliver saccharine pabulum about ideals of peace as gloss over his global superstardom. He didn’t. Instead he punched his audience in the gut with uncomfortable truths about:
Pres. Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech 12-10-2009
1. Fundamental difference between his responsibilities as head of a state embroiled in 2 wars who must deploy military force when needed to protect his nation, and those of other Nobel Peace Prize recipients such as Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. who served as conscience leaders and advocated non-violence as means to achieve justice.
2. The Niebuhrian concept of Just War, which stipulates that there IS evil in the world that does not disappear through diplomacy, prayer or concession. It must be fought with blood and treasure.
3. An active peace that requires that we all EXPAND OUR MORAL IMAGINATION, or else the assurance of human dignity and societal growth will be stunted
Pres Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech 12-10-2009
From the 29:10 minute mark, Pres. Obama described the concept thus: “Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more — and that’s the continued EXPANSION OF OUR MORAL IMAGINATION; an insistence that there’s something IRREDUCIBLE THAT WE ALL SHARE.
As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we’re all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.
And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities — their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we’re moving backwards….”