Posts Tagged ‘virginia

07
Aug
14

“America Has To Do Right By All Who Serve Under Our Proud Flag”

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President Barack Obama signs into law the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, a bill providing the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans

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Text of the President’s remarks here

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President Barack Obama hugs Stg. Major James McGruder

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Members of the military applaud as President Barack Obama speaks

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President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office

15
Jul
14

700K Jobs At Risk? Do Something, Congress

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President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia. President Barack Obama envisions a time when cars will be able to talk with other cars or with America’s roads. He says such technology could prevent crashes, cut down on traffic and save gasoline.

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President Barack Obama is given a tour of vehicles equipted with V2I technology by Joe Peters while at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia

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President Barack Obama looks over his shoulder while driving a simulator

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David Yang, human factors team leader, shows President Barack Obama a vehicle simulator during his tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

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President Barack Obama is given a tour of the Saxton Transportation Operations

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President Barack Obama greets employees after speaking about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

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President Barack Obama shakes hands with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

29
Jun
14

A Sunday Stroll

President Obama and daughter Sasha take a walk at Great Falls Park, June 29 2014, in McLean Virginia

09
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama talks with kids from the Children’s Miracle Network in the East Room of the White House, June 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:50: The President meets with nurses to discuss immigration reform

12:30: Josh Earnest briefs the press

1:45: The President delivers remarks and signs a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt, East Room

2:40: Meets with governors of Western States via video teleconference

4:15: Welcomes the UConn men’s and women’s NCAA champion basketball teams

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The Week Ahead

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NYT: Obama Plans Steps To Ease Student Debt

President Obama on Monday will take executive actions to ease the burden of college loan debt for potentially millions of Americans, in a White House event coinciding with Senate Democrats’ plans for legislation to address a concern of many voters in this midterm election year. Mr. Obama’s main action will be to expand on a 2010 law that capped borrowers’ repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income. The intent is to extend such relief to an estimated five million people with older loans who are currently ineligible — those who got loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011.

But the relief would not be available until December 2015, officials said, given the time needed for the Education Department to propose and put new regulations into effect. Also, Mr. Obama will announce that the department will renegotiate contracts with companies that service federal loans to give them additional financial incentives to help borrowers avoid delinquency or default. The Education and Treasury Departments are to work with the nation’s largest tax-preparation firms, H&R Block and Intuit Inc., to ensure that borrowers are aware of repayment options and tax credits for college tuition.

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Josh Hicks: Kerry: Leaving Soldier Behind Would Be ‘Offensive And Incomprehensible’

Secretary of State John F. Kerry in an interview aired Sunday pushed back against criticism of the prisoner swap for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. “It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of placing U.S. troops at greater risk by encouraging enemies to take prisoners for leverage, essentially putting a target on the backs of American troops. Responding to those concerns, Kerry said that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is over and that “we’re going to have very few people in that kind of position.”

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By the very wonderful @Chanlowe

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Simon Maloy: GOP’s Quiet Obamacare Disaster: How This Week’s Biggest Story Got Overlooked

While everyone obsessed over the Bergdahl flap, the real story was revealed by a nomination hearing and new data

Right around noon on Wednesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The all-out Obamacare brawl that Republicans had promised when Burwell’s nomination was announced never materialized. Instead, it ended with a quiet, respectful display of bipartisan comity.

Losing the opportunity to grandstand on the Burwell nomination, however, was the least of the Republicans’ troubles this week when it came to the Affordable Care Act. We’re only six days into June, and opponents of the ACA have already had a terrible month.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal: Shooters In Metro Ambush That Left Five Dead Spoke Of White Supremacy And A Desire To Kill Police

Two Las Vegas police officers were killed Sunday in what appears to be a politically motivated ambush in a pizza restaurant that spilled over to a nearby Wal-Mart, where the two shooters committed suicide after killing a woman in the store. Details are sketchy, but Metropolitan Police Department sources close to the investigation say the shooters shouted that “this is the start of a revolution” before opening fire on the officers, and draped their bodies with cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag. Investigators have also found paraphernalia associated with white supremacists. The shooters then stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and badges, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. They then covered the officers with something that featured the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on Me.”

The flag is named for Christopher Gadsden a Revolutionary War general who designed it. It has recently come back in vogue as an adopted symbol of the American tea party movement. Brandon Monroe, 22, has lived in the complex for about two weeks. He said the man who lived in the apartment that was being searched often rambled about conspiracy theories. He often wore camouflage or dressed as Peter Pan to work as a Fremont Street Experience street performer. A woman lived with him, Monroe said, but he didn’t see her as often. They were weird people, Monroe said, adding that he thought the couple used methamphetamine. “The man told Monroe he had been kicked off Cliven Bundy’s ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas while people from throughout the U.S. gathered there in protest of a Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle.” Jessica Anderson, 27, said.

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Dan Diamond: Since Obamacare Passed 50 Months Ago, Healthcare Has Gained Almost 1 Million Jobs

Obamacare was once called “The Job-Killing Health Care Law.” But the latest jobs report suggests that the broader economy—and the health care sector, specifically—is adding jobs at a healthy rate. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, the health care industry has gained nearly 1 million jobs—982,300, to be more precise—according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates released on Friday.

Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has added 7.7 million jobs since March 2010, and for the first time, more people are working since the recession began five years ago. Private-sector jobs also grew for the 51st straight month, Justin Wolfers observes at The Upshot, which ties the longest consecutive streak on record and overlaps with the passage of Obamacare 50 months ago. But that streak is piddling compared to health care, which just reported its 131st straight month of job gains.

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Tiffany HSU: Job Recovery In Southern California Is Outpacing U.S. Gains

Southern California fell harder in the recession than the rest of the country and took longer to recover, but now the region’s job gains are outpacing the national employment upswing. Each month since April 2012 except one, Los Angeles County has seen at least 2% year-over-year job growth, compared with a 1.7% average across the country. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that all the jobs lost in the downturn are now back nationwide, with 217,000 net new jobs added in May. The unemployment rate stayed put at 6.3%, the lowest in more than five years. But a steadily growing population means that millions of people are still out of work. In Los Angeles County, only 330,800 jobs have returned, compared with the 435,400 jobs lost from December 2007 to January 2010.

Cheery economic reports showing rising home prices in Southern California, along with steadily recovering personal income, will help boost optimism, Kleinhenz said. But new opportunities will lure more job hunters into the labor force, requiring employers to add more jobs to keep unemployment rates low. But an LAEDC report this week showed promising signs. In April, Los Angeles County employers added 90,800 nonfarm jobs — a 2.6% boost from a year earlier. The area’s jobless rate improved to 9.8% last year from 10.9% a year earlier. LAEDC expects the gauge to fall to 8.7% this year and then continue sliding to 7.8% in 2015.

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Sen. Phillip P. Puckett

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Laura Vozzella: Va. Lawmaker To Resign, Paving Way For Jobs For Self, Daughter, According To Associates

Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe’s proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.

In a statement, McAuliffe (D) acknowledged that Puckett’s resignation had created “uncertainty” for his plan to expand the federal-state health program for the poor to 400,000 uninsured Virginians. But he contended that he still had a majority of the Senate on his side. “I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially those in Southwest Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.” Senate Republicans, meanwhile, issued a statement praising Puckett. “Although Senator Puckett has decided to end his tenure in the Senate of Virginia, his legacy there will endure,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (James City). “And, his commitment and service to the people of Southwest, who honored him with their votes in five successive elections, will continue.”

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Reuters: U.S. Deaths In Afghanistan May Have Only Tenuous Link To Bergdahl

The frantic search for Bowe Bergdahl began the moment his comrades discovered he was no longer inside the fragile outpost in a rock-strewn valley in one of the most hostile corners of Afghanistan. Exactly why Bergdahl left is subject to intense scrutiny. But accounts by two Taliban sources as well as several U.S. officials and fellow soldiers raise doubt over media reports that he had sought to join the Taliban, and over suggestions that the deaths later that year of six soldiers in his battalion were related to the search for him.

His dramatic release on May 31 after five years in captivity in return for five Taliban commanders sparked a national controversy over whether President Barack Obama paid too high a price for his freedom. That was fueled by allegations by some in his battalion that he was a deserter, and that soldiers died because they were looking for him after his disappearance in the early hours of June 30, 2009. While many questions remain, a Reuters reconstruction of his disappearance indicates that at the time when Bergdahl’s six comrades in the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment were killed in August and September 2009, his fallen comrades were on other missions like securing the Afghan elections and, according to one U.S. military official, the period of intensive ground searches had already ended.

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Jason Millman: Obamacare Is Adding Insurers Where They’re Most Needed

State health insurance marketplaces that offered consumers very few health plan choices in 2014 are starting to add more insurers — slowly, in most cases. But this is a sign that insurers are feeling confident about the second year of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion. The development is important for a few reasons. For one, recent research suggests that more competition in the exchanges could help temper premium increases. Other new analysis shows that exchange plans, on average, are cheaper than individual plans offered outside the insurance marketplaces. And given the narrow networks in exchange plans, more insurers could mean better access to providers.

In New Hampshire, the exchange’s only insurer last year had excluded 10 of 26 hospitals in the state from its network, meaning the exchange’s customers were limited in their choice of care providers. In 2015, though, New Hampshire will have five insurers selling individual and family health plans on the exchange, state officials announced this week. That also includes the expansion of two non-profit, co-op plans that received start-up funding from the Affordable Care Act. Then there’s West Virginia, a poorer state and one of the least healthy in the country — not exactly an attractive market for insurers. Just one insurer sold 2014 exchange plans, but a second insurer from Kentucky, another co-op, will join in 2015. Kentucky Health Cooperative, which signed up 75 percent of the approximately 82,000 people who selected private plans in Kentucky’s exchange, will sell plans statewide in West Virginia next year.

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EPIC Moment Number One: Audra McDonald wins a historic 6th Tony; beating Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris’s previous records of 5 wins

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EPIC Moment Number Two: Bravo, Quest Love for the beats and arrangements, and bravo to T.I., Hugh Jackman, and LL Cool J

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On This Day

President Obama listens to a point being made in a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, June 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets Debra Ness, president of the national partnership for women and families, before speaking to their 40th anniversary luncheon in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2011

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22
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, Jan. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

10:00AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing

10:45AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with the President’s Commission on Election Administration

11:30AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden convene a meeting with select Cabinet Secretaries of the Council on Women and Girls

12:30PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet for lunch

12:45PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:05PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden host an event for the Council on Women and Girls 

4:30PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew

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John Ostapkovich: Philadelphia Church Hosts Dual-Focused Health Event

North Philadelphia’s Bright Hope Baptist Church hosted a health event Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Day that offered free flu shots as well as help signing up for Obamacare. Patricia Coulter rolled up her sleeve for her flu shot provided by Walgreen’s, but the President and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia also had her eye on sign-ups for Obamacare elsewhere in the room: “When people are healthy, they are energized,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

“They can work. They can provide for their families. You can’t separate health and well-being from economic and jobs and businesses.” Levana Layendecker from Equality, Pennsylvania: “Health insurance companies would often discriminate against LGBT people, charging more, basically treating being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person as a pre-existing condition and that is no longer allowed.”

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Public Integrity: Small Donors Boost Pro-Obama Organizing For Action

When President Barack Obama’s campaign machine restructured itself as a politically active nonprofit in 2013, one goal was to keep attracting the legions of small-dollar donors who had twice helped catapult Obama into the White House. Now the numbers are in for 2013, and they show that Organizing for Action, as the pro-Obama nonprofit is known, has been wildly successful. During its first year, Organizing for Action raised $26.3 million, with 57 percent of that sum coming from people who gave less than $250, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of records released by the group.

Donors who gave between $250 and $1,000 accounted for another 14 percent of the total. Katie Hogan, an Organizing for Action spokeswoman, said the group was “proud” of its support from more than 421,000 grassroots donors who have helped the nonprofit work to “tip the scales back towards the American people and away from special interests in Washington.” During its inaugural year, the group advocated for Obama’s signature health care reform law, for action to curb climate change and for gun safety legislation. It has not contributed to candidates’ political campaigns or run advertisements boosting or opposing specific politicians. Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 broke records for the enormous sums they collected from individual donors who gave small-dollar amounts.

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Washington Post: Democrats Win State Senate Seat In Northern Virginia – And Perhaps Control Of The Chamber

Democrats remained on course to take control of the Virginia Senate after winning a key special election Tuesday, as thousands of Northern Virginia voters braved snow and bitter winds to cast ballots in an unusual, three-way contest. In the race to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), Democrat Jennifer Wexton prevailed over Republican John Whitbeck and independent Joe T. May, a former Republican delegate running as an independent, according to unofficial election results. The district encompasses a slice of Fairfax County and a hefty portion of eastern Loudoun County, a region that has leaned toward Democrats in recent elections but remains battleground territory.

With the Virginia Senate previously split 20-20, Democrats must hold the two seats vacated by Herring and Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D) so they don’t lose control to Republicans. If the chamber remains evenly divided, Northam would act as a tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats control of the chamber. The race to replace Northam in his former Senate district, which is based in Norfolk and also leans Democratic, remains undecided. Del. Lynwood W. Lewis (D-Accomack) was certified the winner of a special election by just nine votes, prompting Republican Wayne Coleman on Thursday to request a recount.

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The Independent: Pope Francis Tells Davos Business Leaders: ‘Ensure Humanity Is Served By Wealth, Not Ruled By It’

Pope Francis has challenged the world’s business leaders to put their wealth to good use in serving humanity, and to oversee the “better distribution of wealth”. In a message addressing more than 2,500 participants at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland yesterday, he said more must be done to promote the “growth of equality” alongside an economic recovery.

The Pope’s comments came as a report released by Oxfam found that the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire international population, around 3.5 billion people. “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” Pope Francis said in the message read at the opening ceremony by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice.

“The growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all ‘a transcendent vision of the person’,” he said in the message. “It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”

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Eugene Robinson: Washington Is Silent On W.Va.’s Chemical Spill

The drinking water in nine West Virginia counties has finally been declared safe, or mostly safe. But many people say they can still smell the licorice-like odor of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — in the sink, in the shower, in the air, especially in neighborhoods close to the Elk River. I say “mostly” because so little is known about the toxicity of the chemical, known as MCHM, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women in the affected area not to drink the water, at least for now. Unfortunately, this warning came after the CDC had already told residents the water was safe for everyone.

More than a week since the chemical spill in Charleston, the state capital, contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people, there has been little solid information about the danger to human health — and little outrage from officials in Washington, who seem to expect West Virginians to take the whole thing in stride. I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if this had happened on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in one of the wealthier Zip codes of Southern California. Imagine living for a week without tap water for drinking, cooking, bathing, even washing clothes. Imagine restaurants having to shut down, hotels putting sinks and showers off-limits, nursing homes trying to care for patients with only bottled water at their disposal. Imagine learning that there was essentially no information on the long-term health effects of a chemical you could smell everywhere you went.

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Washington Post: Former VA Gov. McDonnell And Wife Charged In Gifts Case

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were charged Tuesday with illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy Richmond area businessman who sought special treatment from state government. Authorities allege that for nearly two years, the McDonnells repeatedly asked executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for loans and gifts of money, clothes, golf fees and equipment, trips, and private plane rides. The gifts and loans totaled at least $165,000.

In exchange, authorities allege, the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governor’s office to Williams’s struggling company, Star Scientific, a former small cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements. McDonnell, 59, is the first governor ever to face criminal charges in Virginia, a state that has prided itself on a history of clean and ethical politics, and the charges will probably accelerate a push for the legislature to tighten state ethics laws. The criminal prosecution marks a stunning crash for a politician who was considered for the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2012 and who, just a year ago, was considered a credible prospective candidate for president.

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Jon Terbush: The Sleeper Issue That Could Help Democrats In 2014

However, there is one crucial piece of ObamaCare that may well become a big winner for Democrats by the end of the year: The dramatic expansion of Medicaid. Unlike the overall law, the expansion of Medicaid is actually quite popular with voters of all political stripes. Even in the Deep South, more than six in ten support expanding Medicaid, according to one survey last year; conservatives split almost evenly on the issue. This presents the GOP with two interconnected problems.

First, it undermines part of the party’s “repeal” crusade, since nixing ObamaCare would mean ending a popular policy that has already extended benefits to millions of Americans, many of them previously uninsured. In red West Virginia, some 75,000 people have already enrolled in Medicaid, far higher than expected, according to The New York Times. As a result, the number of uninsured people in the state has plummeted by about a third. That’s a perfect 2014 Democratic ad campaign right there: People are happy now that they’re covered by Medicaid, and Republicans want to take it away.

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Michael Tomasky: How Bad Does The GOP Need Chris Christie? Really Bad

Without the scandal-engulfed New Jersey governor, Republicans don’t have a candidate who could even come close to the votes needed to win the presidency in 2016. I trust you’re enjoying the Christie panic among Republican establishment types as much as I am. That New York Times story on Sunday, with big boosters like Home Depot’s Kenneth Langone fretting publicly that he really must surround himself with better people (so it’s their fault!), combined with the cable damage-control efforts by the likes of Rudy Giuliani, really shows the extent to which the party big shots have been counting on Christie to save them.

The fact that the GOP establishment needs to come face-to-face with is that they have no one to blame for this but themselves. They’ve reached the point where they almost have to have a Northeasterner like Christie to run for president, just as they had to settle for Romney last time. They’ve let their party go so far off the deep end that practically no Republican officeholder from any other region of the country could appeal to enough moderates in enough purple and blue states to win back the territory the party ceded to the Democrats in the last two elections. Remember: the Republicans come into the next presidential election with 206 reliable electoral votes from states their nominees have won at least four of the last six elections. The Democrats’ corresponding number is 257 (just 13 shy of the victory threshold).

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Jamelle Bouie: No, Obama Didn’t Play The ‘Race Card’

In his long interview with David Remnick in the latest issue of The New Yorker, President Obama gave a few thoughts on the dynamics behind his job approval rating. For anyone who studies public opinion, and the intersection of politics and race, they were banal: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Naturally, this led to an explosion of sputtering outrage from the right-wing, which was shocked that Obama would even mention race, much less in the context of his approval rating. This isn’t a coincidence. What political scientists call “racial resentment”—the intersection of anti-black sentiments and traditional American views on hard work and individualism—is one of the most reliable predicators of partisan affiliation. And according to a 2010 paper by political scientists Michael Tesler and David Sears, voters high on the racial resentment scale became more partisan in their attachment to the Republican Party.

Indeed, according to another paper from researchers at the University of Michigan, Stanford, and the University of Chicago, there’s been a marked increase in the number of voters with explicit anti-black attitudes in the last five years, which rose from 47.6 percent in 2008 to 50.9 percent in 2012. What’s more, anti-black attitudes are heavily distributed on the right side of the political divide, though they exist among Democrats and independents as well.

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Covered California Daily News: Milestone Enrollment Numbers Released By Covered California And Department Of Healthcare Services

Covered California™ and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced today that 500,108 Californians enrolled for health insurance and selected plans through the end of 2013 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 584,000 applicants were determined likely eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. DHCS also transitioned 630,000 individuals into the Medi-Cal program from the state’s Low Income Health Program. The statistics, reflecting enrollment activity from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, show that the demand for health care coverage in California remains strong. And the preliminary total of enrollments in Covered California health insurance plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Jan. 15, 2014, has increased to more than 625,000, demonstrating continued vigor in the new insurance marketplace.

“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of interest and participation in the state insurance exchange,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “While our objective is to insure all eligible Californians over time, independent estimates for Covered California’s subsidy-eligible enrollment by the March 31 deadline range between 487,000 and 696,000. These impressive numbers for the first half of open enrollment and the continued momentum in January tell us we are on track to meeting, if not beating, those enrollment estimates as we continue to pick up steam.” Lee noted that of those enrolled so far, 424,936 are eligible for subsidies. “We are pleased that Californians — many for the first time — are getting quality, affordable health insurance to protect themselves and their families,” Lee added.

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On This Day:

… with 98-year-old Charles Raynor at Smitty’s Place, Elyria, Ohio, Jan. 22, 2010

…. with 16-month-old Dyllan Schneider and her mother Crystal

…. holding a roundtable discussion at Lorain County Community College in Elyria

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr Jill Biden attend the inaugural National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral, Jan. 22, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Bo greet visitors during an inaugural open house in the Blue Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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23
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama greets the family of Make-a-Wish child Diego Diaz, not pictured, before their visit to the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Washington Post: President Obama will announce Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University that he plans to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan but asked not to be identified.

According to individuals familiar with the White House plan, who asked not to be identified since the president has yet to deliver his speech, Obama will couch the effort not only in terms of the nation’s domestic priorities, but as a way to meet the administration’s international pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels.

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What has Attorney General Eric Holder done lately? Oh…just this huge big freaking deal

US DOJ: The former chief executive officer of a Virginia-based security contracting firm was sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia to 72 months in prison for creating a front company to obtain more than $31 million intended for disadvantaged small businesses and for bribing the former regional director for the National Capital Region of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) as part of the scheme. The front company obtained the contracts through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Section 8(a) program, which allows qualified small businesses to receive sole-source and competitive-bid contracts set aside for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Keith Hedman used his expertise gleaned from decades as a government contractor to cheat the system and steal tens of millions from minority-owned small business owners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Today’s sentence shows that those who resort to deceit and bribery to secure federal contracts will be caught and held accountable.”

“Keith Hedman tried to game the system and take advantage of a government program designed to help minority-owned small businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride.  “He committed fraud, he undermined the trust of the U.S. government and this type of conduct will not be tolerated.  My office is committed to prosecuting those who cheat the government to the fullest extent of the law.” Keith Hedman, 53, of Arlington, Va., was sentenced today after pleading guilty to major government fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery on March 13, 2013. Hedman was also ordered to forfeit approximately $6.1 million.

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. Joining the First Lady are, from left: the First Lady’s niece Leslie Robinson, Malia Obama, Marian Robinson, the First Lady’s nephew Avery Robinson, and Sasha Obama. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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It’s the weekend, so let the wonderful Henry Healy aka “Henry The Eighth” give you behind the scenes details of the week that was

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with young people at the U.S. Consulate meet and greet at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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SmartyPants: There are those who are trying to cast Edward Snowden’s actions as civil disobedience. I suspect that this argument will be intensified now that he has been charged under the Espionage Act by the DOJ. There is some acceptance among his supporters that he has broken the law. But they want to claim the mantle of it being an “unjust law” that requires civil disobedience.

I’m sure there are legal cases to be made on both sides of this claim. But the fact that Snowden fled to Hong Kong to avoid the consequences of his law breaking – more than anything else – disqualifies him from claiming that mantle.

More of this fantastic piece here

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First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by Marian Robinson, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, tours the District 6 Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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Jennifer Medina: Granting any kind of access to health care for immigrants is becoming a focal point in the current Congressional debate, as many Republicans have said they would refuse to support change if it included providing care for immigrants who have been living in the country illegally. Representative Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, for instance, walked out of bipartisan negotiations in the House, arguing that illegal immigrants should be denied emergency room care and that unpaid medical bills should become a deportable offense.

But not in California, where there are an estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants. Here, public health officials, elected representatives and advocacy groups are going in the opposite direction, trying to cobble together ways to provide preventive care for such immigrants, who are expected to make up the largest share of the remaining uninsured once the state’s expanded Medicaid program takes full effect.

More here

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President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden makes a point during a meeting with the Democratic leadership in the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Welcome to delusional grandeur, Mitt Romney style. Still shaking my head in disgust that he didn’t prepare a concession speech; only a victory speech. That’s hubris.

Rick Klein et al.,: Though Mitt Romney’s candidacy never turned into a presidency, there was a temporary Romney White House complete with a fully operational staff who were building the blueprints for the early days of a Romney administration months before the election that decided his defeat. In this special edition of Top Line, the chair of the Romney transition efforts, Gov. Mike Leavitt, R-Utah, takes us on a tour of the White House that never was—where he says the Romney transition team built “a federal government in miniature.”

“If you had walked down these halls in the day before the election, you would see the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Defense,” Leavitt says, standing inside what was the former transition headquarters in Washington, D.C. “A whole series of executive orders had been written,” he says. “There were regulations that were being developed. There was a list of things we wanted to change. There was a checklist. It was a tick-tock, if you will, of things we wanted to see unfold in a very orderly way.”

More here

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President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division during a visit to Fort Drum in New York, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama’s America, is wonderful indeed

Trudy Ring: Eric Fanning, undersecretary of the Air Force, became acting secretary of the branch Friday with the retirement of Michael Donley, making Fanning the highest-ranking LGBT person in the Department of Defense. “President Obama is yet to nominate Donley’s replacement, so Fanning should be serving in the dual roles for a while,” notes BuzzFeed.

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The interim assignment makes Fanning the civilian head of the Air Force. The Senate confirmed him as undersecretary in April. Before that, he had been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Navy since 2009. His résumé also includes stints with communications firms, think tanks, and broadcast media, along with several political posts. He is a former Victory Fund board member and a donor to various LGBT causes.

“I left the Pentagon before the reelection [of President Clinton] and then didn’t come back until this administration when we had a president who said he was going to end it,” he told the Blade. “It was very difficult when we were getting to the end of the first two years and it wasn’t clear if we were going to be able to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do if we didn’t get the repeal through because some people couldn’t work because they were openly gay or lesbian.”

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Dr. Mamphela Ramphele at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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President Barack Obama fist-bumps Make-a-Wish child Diego Diaz after reading a letter he wrote, during his visit in the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Baracktastic and Michelleicious Day! :D




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