Posts Tagged ‘Weekly Address

02
Aug
15

Rise And Shine

President Barack Obama works on his statement on the compromise reached to reduce the deficit and avert a default, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. Standing in the background are, from left: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Press Secretary Jay Carney; Jon Lovett, Associate Director of Speechwriting; and Senior Advisor David Plouffe. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama works on his statement on the compromise reached to reduce the deficit and avert a default, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. Standing in the background are, from left: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Press Secretary Jay Carney; Jon Lovett, Associate Director of Speechwriting; and Senior Advisor David Plouffe. Photo by Pete Souza

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William Saletan: Not Fit To Lead

If Republicans win the White House next year, they’ll almost certainly control the entire federal government. Many of them, running for president or aspiring to leadership roles in Congress, are trying to block the nuclear deal with Iran. This would be a good time for these leaders to show that they’re ready for the responsibilities of national security and foreign policy. Instead, they’re showing the opposite. Over the past several days, congressional hearings on the deal have become a spectacle of dishonesty, incomprehension, and inability to cope with the challenges of a multilateral world.

When the hearings began more than a week ago, I was planning to write about the testimony of Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. But the more I watched, the more I saw that the danger in the room wasn’t coming from the deal or its administration proponents. It was coming from the interrogators. In challenging Kerry and Moniz, Republican senators and representatives offered no serious alternative. They misrepresented testimony, dismissed contrary evidence, and substituted vitriol for analysis. They seemed baffled by the idea of having to work and negotiate with other countries. I came away from the hearings dismayed by what the GOP has become in the Obama era. It seems utterly unprepared to govern.

More here

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Don Thompson: Suicide Spike Boosts Oversight Of California Women’s Prison

A spike in suicides and attempted suicides has prompted corrections officials to step up oversight at a California women’s prison as inspectors try to pinpoint the cause of the troubling increase. Four women have killed themselves at California Institution for Women in San Bernardino County in the last 18 months, according to state records. The suicide rate at the facility is more than eight times the national rate for female inmates and more than five times the rate for the entire California prison system.

In California, the Institution for Women is the only women’s prison in the state to have had any suicides in the last five years, and another 20 of the prison’s 2,000 inmates have attempted suicide during the last year and a half. It is a shocking turnaround at a facility that last year was cited as a rare example of California providing proper mental health treatment for inmates. All four women who died were receiving mental health treatment in the days before their deaths.

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Letitia Stein: March To Washington Begins With Civil Rights Rally In Selma

NAACP leaders launched a 40-day march across the U.S. South on Saturday with a rally in Selma, Alabama, drawing on that city’s significance in the 1960s civil rights movement to call attention to the issue of racial injustice in modern America. Organizers of “America’s Journey for Justice” want to build momentum behind a renewed national dialogue over race relations prompted by the killing of a number of unarmed black men by police officers over the past year.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders at the rally urged marchers to honor the memories of New York’s Eric Garner and Cincinnati’s Samuel DuBose, two of the unarmed black men killed in the police confrontations. The march, which would cover nearly 900 miles, began on Selma’s historic Edmund Pettus Bridge, where police beat peaceful marchers with clubs and doused them with tear gas in 1965. The infamous confrontation was a catalyst for the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act, signed into law 50 years ago this week.

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National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice helps Vice President Joe Biden with a spot on his suit jacket, in a hall outside the Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2013. Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration, watches at right. Photo by Pete Souza

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President Barack Obama talks with diners at Lechonera El Barrio restaurant while waiting for his lunch order during a stop in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 2, 2012. Photo by Pete Souza

12
Jul
14

President Obama’s weekly address

Expanding Opportunity — It’s Time for Congressional Republicans to Do Their Part

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Chat on!

22
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance while the band Earth, Wind and Fire performs at the Governors Ball in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Sunday: In the evening, the President and First Lady will host the Governors in town for the winter meeting for a dinner at the White House.

Monday: The President will meet with the National Governors Association.

Tuesday: The President will hold an event on the economy at the White House. In the evening, he will attend an OFA event in Washington DC.

Wednesday: The President will travel to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area for an event on the economy.

Thursday: The President will host an event on his ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative.

Friday: The President will attend a DNC event in Washington.

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Michael Hiltzik (LA Times): Maybe there are no genuine Obamacare horror stories

Kevin Drum wonders whether there’s a single genuine Obamacare horror story out there, given that virtually every yarn promoted by Republicans or conservatives about people hurt by the Affordable Care Act has deflated like a pricked balloon on the merest examination.

It’s a very good question, inspired by the latest horror story bloomer – the tale of one Julia Boonstra of Michigan, wholesaled by the Koch-founded conservative organization Americans for Prosperity. In a political ad being run by AFP against a Democratic senate candidate in Michigan, Boonstra asserts that “Obamacare” has made her leukemia treatment “unaffordable” and “jeopardized” her health.

But when Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post checked out her story, he found it didn’t hold up….

Boonstra’s case is just the latest of a very long line of deflatable horror stories. We’ve debunked a passel of them here….

More here

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Brian Beutler: Are Republicans even trying? Another Obamacare horror story bites the dust

Given how horrible Obamacare supposedly is, it’s a little bizarre that Republicans and their allies have such a hard time finding victims who are unambiguously worse off as a result of the law.

GOP leaders trotted out a woman named Bette during their official response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Once reporters with even rudimentary understanding of the law began poking around, they discovered that Bette was more a victim of anti-Obamacare histrionics than of the genuine article.

The ad makers at the conservative pressure group Americans for Prosperity are the Jerry Bruckheimers of atmospherically devastating campaign spots attacking Democrats who voted for Obamacare, but like nearly all Bruckheimer films the plots of these ads fall apart upon the mildest scrutiny.

More here

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PBS: U.S. agriculture booms to record highs

American agriculture has experienced a boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products reaching record highs even as the amount of U.S. farmland declined, according to a new government survey.

Continuing a long-term trend, the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, about a 4 percent drop from five years earlier. But some of the bigger farms got bigger. The average farm grew from 418 to 434 acres.

…. All told, U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in products in 2012, a third more than five years earlier. That averaged to about $187,000 per farm – or an increase of $52,000 over 2007 totals.

More here

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USA Today: White House cautiously welcomes Ukraine accord

With Ukraine’s embattled president and opposition agreeing to a deal that will bring early elections, the White House expressed guarded optimism on Friday that the accord will bring an end to the political violence in Kiev and lead to lasting changes in Kiev.

In a statement, the White House said the agreement, which was facilitated by France, Germany and Poland and reached after all-night talks, was consistent with the Obama administration’s call for deescalating the violence, constitutional reform and early elections.

More here

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I’m beginning to think LL or Japa is the Tweet of God —–>

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Line of the Week? Charles Pierce on Howard Kurtz:

“… who generally has so many interests in conflict that it’s a wonder he doesn’t get perpetual cramp in his 1099s, has landed at Fox News, where nobody gives much of a fk about ethics, or the truth, or anything else that gives Roger Ailes a pilonoidal cyst, and he doesn’t have to worry about those sad dingleberries of credibility that still cling to his career.”

Genius.

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On This Day:

President Obama sits at his desk in the Treaty Room Office of the Private Residence and reads one of 10 letters from the public selected for his personal reading from the volume of mail he receives, Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama pulls out the chair for First Lady Michelle Obama at the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance while the band Earth, Wind and Fire performs at the Governors Ball in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama waits in the Butlers’ Pantry before he is introduced during the National Governors Association meeting at the White House, Feb. 22, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama answers questions from the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, Feb. 22, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama listens during a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 22, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Green Room of the White House before hosting a Smithsonian Museum of African American History reception in the East Room, Feb. 22, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet guests during a reception in honor of the groundbreaking of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet students from the Brooklyn Montessori school at the ground breaking ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. on February 22, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Piper Shillingford, 4, from a Brooklyn Montessori School after she presented a donation at the ground breaking ceremony

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First Lady Michelle Obama, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, and chef Marcus Samuelsson participate in a cooking segment at the GMA Studios in New York, N.Y., Feb. 22, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama throws a basketball in the air during departure photos with Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, and her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 22, 2013. Watching the President, from left, are: Rian Power-Sunstein, Cass Sunstein, Samatha Power, Declan Sunstein, James Bourke, and Veronica Delany (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Mehmet Oz learn a dance routine with members of the Terence C. Reilly School No. 7 dance group during a taping of the “Dr. Oz Show” at the 30 Rock Studios in New York, N.Y., Feb. 22, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama shows off her dance moves during an Evolution of Mom Dancing skit with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Friday, February 22, 2013

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MoooOOOooorning!

15
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

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Morning again everyone, had to abandon my R&S efforts, a whole bunch going on, will try to catch up later in the day – meanwhile, chat away!

25
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

First Lady Michelle Obama at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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The President has no public events scheduled for this weekend

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Reuters: Obamacare Coverage Enrollment Hits Three Million

The number of people enrolled in private health insurance under Obamacare has soared by more than one-third in recent weeks to around 3 million, according to government data released on Friday.  It also shows that officials might still reach their initial goal of signing up 7 million people for private coverage by the time enrollment ends on March 31.

Analysts say Obama could highlight the 3 million number as a sign of progress when he addresses the topic of healthcare reform in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Earlier this week, the administration also announced that the number of people eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) rose to 6.3 million this month as a result of the enrollment effort.

More here

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Alex Wigglesworth: Vice President Joe Biden Donates $50K To Pennsylvania’s Women’s Abuse Advocacy Groups

Vice President Joe Biden donated $50,000 to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Philadelphia-based Women Against Abuse Tuesday, a month after winning the money at Pennsylvania’s biggest annual political gathering. The Pennsylvania Society during its 115th annual black-tie dinner last month presented Biden with the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. The award, which recognizes the leadership and philanthropic accomplishments of prominent figures with Pennsylvania ties, comes with a $50,000 contribution to be directed to charities of the recipient’s choice.

The two selected nonprofits will use the money to increase advocacy and awareness efforts and support intervention for victims of domestic violence, which they described as a public health epidemic that affects one in three women and one in seven men worldwide. As Vice President, Biden appointed the White House’s first Advisor on Violence Against Women and launched the “1is2many” initiative. an outreach campaign that uses technology to reduce date rape and domestic violence among teens and college students. Biden was the first sitting vice president chosen to receive the Pennsylvania Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Past recipients have included Andrew Carnegie, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Cosby.

More here

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TPM: 60% Of KY GOPers Buck McConnell, Support Medicaid Expansion

A solid majority of Kentucky Republicans support the state’s decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new poll, standing in stark contrast to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the provision. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky poll, reported by NPR-affiliated WFPL, found that 60 percent of self-identified Republicans said they support expansion.

In total, 79 percent of Kentuckians agree with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s decision to expand coverage to low-income people under the health care reform law. More than 120,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in Medicaid through the state’s Obamacare website since it launched in October

More here

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Rachel Huggins: Obama Takes Action To End Sexual Assault

President Obama announced a new task force that will combat sexual assault,  particularly on college campuses, he said in his weekly address. The White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault “will help schools do a better job of preventing and responding to sexual assault,” he declared, adding that the crime affects one in five women on college campuses. “That’s totally unacceptable,” he added.

More here

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BBC: Syria Foes Briefly Meet In Same Room At Geneva II Talks

Syria’s opposition and government have met briefly face to face in what is being hailed a small but significant step in talks aimed at “saving Syria”. The initial gathering in Geneva lasted half an hour mediated by the UN’s Lakhdar Brahimi. Delegates in Geneva are aiming at small concessions, not a full peace deal. “Ending terrorism and violence” is the top priority, Syrian officials say. They insist it is too early to discuss President Bashar al-Assad’s position. The BBC’s Bridget Kendall, in Geneva, says another meeting at 15:00 GMT will follow same carefully choreographed format as the first.

The two delegations filed in through separate doors into one room in the UN Geneva Headquarters, and sat down at the same U-shaped table, but said nothing to each other. Mr Brahimi spoke for half an hour. Then they all filed out again. Ahead of the next face-to-face meeting, Mr Brahimi will shuttle between the delegations, trying to build confidence with small achievements like localised ceasefires, release of detainees and the opening of humanitarian corridors. This is cumbersome, slow diplomacy, our correspondent adds. But as one diplomat put it, small steps are better than no steps.

More here

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Nation Of Change: Utah Is Ending Homelessness By Giving People Homes

City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates. Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it. Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

More here

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Eric Lach: Port Authority Refuses To Pay Christie Pal’s Legal Bills

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will not pay the legal bills for the former agency executive at the center of the George Washington Bridge lane closings scandal, The Bergen Record reported on Friday. The notification to Wildstein reportedly said his request to have his legal bill picked up “would not be warranted” under the agency’s bylaws. Those bylaws state that current and former employees will be provided with legal representation if the action in question fell within their job duties, but not if there was fraud, malice, misconduct, or intentional wrongdoing.

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Paul Waldman: Why Republicans Keep Calling Women Sluts

The simple answer is that they can’t help themselves, but more specifically, it’s a combination of ignorance, contempt, and Puritan morality that inevitably leads to these eruptions. And it’s going to keep happening. Let’s look at the particulars: Ignorance: These kinds of statements tend to come from older conservative men who have no idea how ladyparts work, and really don’t want to know. That extends to contraception, which as far as they’re concerned is something that is women’s responsibility and therefore there’s no need to understand it.

Beliefs about sin: The conception of sex as inherently sinful drives pretty much every conservative policy position that touches on sex, perhaps most notably the support for abstinence-only sex education. The fact that abstinence-only sex education has been shown over and over to fail is of only passing concern to them, because what they want out of sex education isn’t so much practical things like a reduction in teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs, but a moral statement: sex is bad.

More here

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Jon Hurdle: Nonprofit Clinic Offers ‘Bridges of Health’ To Philadelphia’s Illegal Immigrants

Like many other immigrants, Mery Martinez has no legal status in the United States, no health insurance and no money. But she does have leukemia, and has been struggling to find treatment for the disease, first in New York and more recently in Philadelphia. Here, a hospital emergency room rejected her on New Year’s Day because she had not yet qualified for the state assistance that could have paid for the medical attention she needed. With rising anxiety, and a rash that she attributed to her illness, Ms. Martinez walked into a clinic last week run by Puentes de Salud, a nonprofit group of doctors, nurses and medical students that provides primary care to Philadelphia’s undocumented, uninsured and impoverished Latino immigrants.

Puentes de Salud, which in English means “bridges of health,” was founded to provide low-cost but quality health care and social services to the growing Latino population in South Philadelphia and began treating patients in 2006.  Daphne Owen, 26, a third-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania and a clinic volunteer, sees the low-cost, holistic approach practiced by Puentes as a model, not just for underserved community medicine but for the country’s health system over all. “Here, I’m learning things that we don’t learn in medical school,” Ms. Owen said. “The way we provide care has to change. By the time I’m done in medical school, there is no way the system is still going to work the way it does.”

More here

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Gloria Goodale: California Drought: Scientists Puzzled By Persistence Of Blocking ‘Ridge’

While much of the United States has experienced a weather year with fewer extremes and an easing drought, the record-breaking California drought – the worst since 1895 – is not leaving the region anytime soon, according to climatologists. The unseasonal balmy but dry weather is the result of an equally unprecedented high pressure ridge lurking offshore and blocking the typical winter storms needed to drop precipitation all along the West Coast.

This ridge has persisted for 13 months and the longer it lingers, the less likely it is to leave, points out climatologist Brian Fuchs, from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. This high pressure ridge system is feeding on itself, “creating a sort of perfect environment for perpetuating the dry conditions” it creates, he says. On Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, calling for a 20-percent voluntary conservation effort state-wide.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama hugs retiring White House butler James Ramsey, as First Lady Michelle Obama looks on, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Jan. 25, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama listens during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, Jan. 25, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Roxanna Green as she enters the House Chamber prior the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. John and Roxanna Green are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson earlier this month. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama stands with Members of Congress in House Speaker John Boehner’s ceremonial office as Bill Livingood, House Sergeant at Arms, left, and Terrance Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms, right, prepare to escort them onto the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 25, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., as he enters the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the State of the Union address, Jan. 25, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the Green family after the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. John and Roxanna Green are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson earlier this month (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama holds two-month-old Emme Bernstein, of Scottsdale, after arriving on Air Force One at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz, Jan. 25, 2012

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President Obama runs along the Colonnade of the White House with Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough’s children, Jan. 25, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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18
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

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

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The Week Ahead:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BREAKING NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

More here

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USA Today: What A Shocker! Young People Like Obamacare

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

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

More here

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

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

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

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

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

More here

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David Cay Johnston: Willful Blindness Worsens Inequality

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

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

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

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

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

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

More here

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

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

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

More here

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On This Day:

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

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

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

11
Jan
14

Early Bird Chat

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds – Happy Saturday!

14
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

Text of the President’s address:

One year ago today, a quiet, peaceful town was shattered by unspeakable violence.

Six dedicated school workers and 20 beautiful children were taken from our lives forever.

As parents, as Americans, the news filled us with grief.  Newtown is a town like so many of our hometowns.  The victims were educators and kids that could have been any of our own.  And our hearts were broken for the families that lost a piece of their heart; for the communities changed forever; for the survivors, so young, whose innocence was torn away far too soon.

But beneath the sadness, we also felt a sense of resolve – that these tragedies must end, and that to end them, we must change.

From the very beginning, our efforts were led by the parents of Newtown – men and women, impossibly brave, who stepped forward in the hopes that they might spare others their heartbreak.  And they were joined by millions of Americans – mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers – who refused to accept these acts of violence as somehow inevitable.

Over the past year, their voices have sustained us.  And their example has inspired us – to be better parents and better neighbors; to give our children everything they need to face the world without fear; to meet our responsibilities not just to our own families, but to our communities.  More than the tragedy itself, that’s how Newtown will be remembered.

And on this anniversary of a day we will never forget, that’s the example we should continue to follow.  Because we haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer.  We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily.  We have to do more to heal troubled minds.  We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for.

And as we do, we can’t lose sight of the fact that real change won’t come from Washington.  It will come the way it’s always come – from you.  From the American people.

As a nation, we can’t stop every act of violence.  We can’t heal every troubled mind.  But if we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we have to keep trying.  We have to keep caring.  We have to treat every child like they’re our child.  Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love.  And together, we must make a change.  Thank you.

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9:25 AM EST: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence and light candles for those lost at Sandy Hook

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A Year Ago Today:

Dec. 14, 2012 – Pete Souza: “The President reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The President later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his Presidency.”

President Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14. Joining the President, from left, are: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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See more at ThinkProgress

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Paul Krugman: A Health Care Mystery Explained

….. here’s the thing: Republicans don’t want to help the unfortunate. They’ll propound health-care ideas that will, they claim, help those with preexisting conditions and so on — but those aren’t really proposals, they’re diversionary tactics designed to stall real health reform….

Hence the rage of the right. Here they were, with a whole raft of ideas they could throw out, like chaff thrown out to confuse enemy radar, to divert and confuse any attempt to actually provide insurance to the uninsured. And those dastardly Democrats have gone ahead and actually incorporated those ideas into real reform.

…. There’s no mystery here; it’s just top-down class warfare as usual.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: The Six Worst Attacks On Reproductive Freedom In 2013

2013 hasn’t been a great year for reproductive rights. Ever since 2010, abortion opponents have imposed a flurry of state-level legislation intended to slowly chip away at abortion access, and that trend certainly continued this year.

But women’s health advocates also believe there was something different about 2013. This year, a far-right contingent of the anti-choice community appeared to abandon their incremental strategy — in which they undermine women’s access to abortion bit by bit, largely with indirect laws that don’t strike at the heart of Roe v. Wade — and get bolder. They started pushing for extremely harsh abortion restrictions that fly in the face of the constitutional right to choose, and they got more serious about shutting down abortion clinics one by one. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), lawmakers in more than 25 states proposed some kind of outright ban on abortion this year.

And they were largely successful. Here’s what the anti-choice community managed to accomplish in 2013…

More here

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The People’s View:  Politifact’s Obama Derangement Syndrome Leads to Propaganda of the Year

Politifact, the Tampay Bay Times’ dubious “fact check” arm that rates political statements on a scale of “True” to “Pants on Fire” has picked President Obama’s promise to Americans that they could keep their health care plan if they liked it as their “lie of the year.” Because, I guess, the claim by numerous Republicans that letting America default on its debts would strengthen the economy was really a 50-50.

Politifact falls victim to its own Obama Derangement Syndrome and follows the trail of political inconveniences the insurance companies caused the president by scaring their customers and refusing to bring their plans into alignment with the ACA requirements for the last 3 years (but they changed the plans nonetheless so that they wouldn’t be eligible to be grandfathered in under the law) combined with the website problems and declares that the scare-storm caused by insurance companies and the political right was really the president’s fault.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Why Doesn’t Twitter Take Gender-Based Harassment More Seriously?

Twitter caused quite a stir late Thursday regarding a change in its block policy, provoking outrage from victims of online harassment and advocates. The new policy, which would have allowed blocked users to keep following and retweeting their blockers, was reversed hours after its debut.

But while the decision to reverse the change was welcomed, it may not go far enough for those most vulnerable to violent threats and harassment — specifically women, people of color, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

Women took to Twitter soon after the announcement to protest the change, explaining they used the block function to shield themselves from rape and death threats. In a petition against the new policy, several users shared examples of how they had been stalked and threatened on Twitter.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama whistles as he walks along the Colonnade of the White House following a holiday reception, Dec. 14, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Dec. 14, 2011 – Pete Souza: “During one of the Christmas Holiday receptions at the White House, I noticed the First Lady’s hands resting on the podium as the President made brief remarks.”

Dec. 14, 2011 – Pete Souza: “There was a sea of maroon berets as the President and First Lady greeted troops following remarks on the end of America’s war in Iraq, at Fort Bragg, N.C.”

First Lady Michelle Obama, with first dog Bo, at an annual event at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, Dec. 14, 2012

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Morning everyone.

23
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day – Pete Souza: “Late at night in the Treaty Room office in the White House Residence, the President speaks on the phone to President Lee of South Korea after North Korea had conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.” Nov. 23, 2010

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AP: Obama Officials Upbeat About Health Site Fixes

There won’t be a magic moment, but the Obama administration’s much-maligned health insurance website should be able to weather an expected year-end crush of customers, officials asserted Friday.

A combination of software fixes, design changes, added hardware and newly announced wiggle room should provide the right combination to finally deliver a workable website, White House troubleshooter Jeffrey Zients said in an upbeat assessment.

The added leeway comes in the form of an extra eight days this year for consumers nationwide to sign up and still get insurance by Jan. 1. A previous Dec. 15 deadline was stretched to Dec. 23. Policyholders must pay their premiums by Dec. 31.

More here

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Arun Chaudhary: I Was With President Obama When He First Visited George W. Bush

I was surprised by my first reaction to George W. Bush in person. “Oh wow, look at how gray he’s gotten!” It was 2008, and I was in the Oval Office as President-elect Obama’s official photographer, which was my position during the presidential transition. President Bush was giving Obama a tour of his soon-to-be home. The president was showing the president-elect a few of his favorite things. “See this room?” he said, sounding astonishingly like Will Ferrell doing his best “W” impression. “This is a good room for sittin’, Barack. I like to do a lot of sittin’ right here.”

That the presidency is taxing, grueling, and aging is cliché, but I think one of the most underappreciated parts—and tricky to observe in the veritable flipbook of pool photos of the graying President—is the vast emotional intelligence required to shift between different frequencies for different events, day out and day in. One minute, I’d be filming a tearful embrace between POTUS and a shooting victim’s family member in the oval office; the next I’d be helping Samantha Tubman, deputy Social Secretary, pep up a drooping sports team unused to standing for hours in suits.

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Lori Greenstein Bremner: Cancer Survivor: Obamacare Got Me Covered

As a 36-year cancer survivor, I am watching with great interest as the debate rages over whether the Affordable Care Act strengthens the individual insurance market, as the law’s supporters contend, or dismantles it, as critics say. Having been repeatedly denied health coverage I needed and wanted to buy because of my pre-existing condition, I know that provisions of the law can dramatically improve the quality and cost of insurance for people shopping for coverage on their own. I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a college student. After nearly five years of aggressive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow harvests and more, I was cancer-free. My cancer has never returned, but since then I have waged a battle of a different kind — a three-decade struggle to obtain quality, affordable coverage.

After months of searching, I found an expensive plan with limited benefits through a professional association, and ever since I have paid to be a member of the organization just so I can maintain coverage. For 15 years my sons and I have struggled to afford the plan’s annual deductibles of up to $3,000 per person and monthly premiums that have risen about 30% each year. Every couple of years I reduced our coverage and gave up our trusted providers to avoid yet another premium increase, until we reached the plan’s minimum coverage level. Now a single mom with three sons to put through college, I’ve had to make some very tough choices.

I visited California’s marketplace, CoveredCA.com, on October 1 — the day it went live. At first I encountered technical problems, as so many others have, that were caused in part by the large number of people trying to find coverage. But I knew I had until December 15 to enroll for coverage to begin January 1. Recently I tried again and enrolled in my chosen plan in about 15 minutes. In January, for the first time since my diagnosis 36 years ago, I will have an individual health plan that offers quality coverage for me and my family. I will save $628 every month on premiums. Best of all — I wasn’t even asked if I’ve ever had cancer.

More here

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HHS.Gov: Progress On Capacity

Jeff Zients offered an update on our efforts to improve HealthCare.gov; data on key metrics on site performance, the progress made this week and the view looking forward. In late October, we appointed QSSI as the general contractor to deploy their expertise in technology and program management to lead this project forward.

The team from QSSI continues to work with people from CMS and other contractors around the clock to troubleshoot the system, prioritize fixes, and provide real-time management decision making. Thanks to this team effort, we have made measurable progress.

More here

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TPM: Admin To Launch ‘Direct Enrollment’ Obamacare Pilots In Three States

The Obama administration is launching a pilot program in Florida, Ohio, and Texas that will allow insurance companies to sign people up for coverage under Obamacare directly and forgo HealthCare.gov. The administration has been considering the process, known as “direct enrollment,” for some time.

“This is one more way we are working to offer consumers a variety of ways to enroll in affordable coverage. Direct enrollment is one more option,” Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, wrote in a blog post Friday announcing the program. “By strengthening the multiple channels to enroll in quality, affordable coverage through the Marketplace, we are ensuring that every American who wants it can gain access to these new coverage options.”

More here

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Desert News: Hospital Association Supports Medicaid Expansion For Low-Income Utahns

As the governor and state Legislature continue to mull over the decision to expand Medicaid in Utah, the Utah Hospital Association has come out with a position to do it — but only for a portion of the state’s low-income population. The health care policy and advocacy group believes it is important for the state of Utah to “take care of its own,” but to also thoughtfully develop a unique solution to insure individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the association’s new president, former Lt. Gov. Greg Bell.

Others throughout the state chimed in Wednesday as well, rallying at the Capitol rotunda to ask the governor to adopt Medicaid expansion, albeit a full and wide-sweeping model. “I think the whole reason for us here on the Earth is to learn to be compassionate,” said Nelda Bishop, one of roughly 150 who gathered in support of expansion. “We’re the richest nation in the world. Surely we can find a way to get basic health care to our poor,” Dr. Ray Ward, a family physician and expansion supporter, told the Deseret News.

More here

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Ryan Cooper: Pundits Bemoan End Of Filibuster

The partial end of the filibuster has inspired a good deal of wailing and garment rending among Washington establishmentarians, who see it as only the latest sign of the demise of bipartisanship and comity in the Senate. Putting aside that there hasn’t been a scrap of bipartisanship in Washington since January 2009, criticism of the Dem decision to go nuclear is, in effect, tantamount to legitimizing, or at least accepting, the Republican position. The choice Dems faced was very simple: Either they accept the blanket GOP filibuster designed to block Obama from filling any vacancies on the second most important court in the country — one pivotal to the success of his agenda – or they change the rules.  What’s the argument in defense of the GOP power grab?

Notably,  pundits who are bemoaning the Dem decision to go nuclear haven’t been offering one. Instead, they admit that Republican obstruction was unjustified, but still blame the Democrats simply because they supposedly worsened D.C partisanship by doing something in response to that unjustified GOP obstruction. Both sides should have come to a compromise, they say. But what is to be done when one side’s position is that important judicial vacancies shall remain empty simply because filling them would help advance Obama’s regulatory agenda? They don’t say. Establishment pundits seem destined ever to pine for a mythical Golden Age of Congress when Senators hashed out deals over steak and cigars. But insofar as those days ever existed at all, it hasn’t been for thirty years or more. So let’s not shed any tears about the partial end of the filibuster. This is about giving the American government an angioplasty.

More here

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Washington Post: State-Run Health Insurance Exchanges Report November ‘Enrollment Surge’

After anemic enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplace, several states running their own online exchanges are reporting a rapid increase in the number of people signing up for coverage, a trend officials say is encouraging for President Obama’s health-care law. By mid-November, the 14 state-based marketplaces reported data showing enrollment has nearly doubled from last month, jumping to about 150,000 from 79,000, according to state and federal statistics.

The nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which has been tracking the data, called the most recent numbers “a November enrollment surge.”

Health policy experts said the momentum from state exchanges is encouraging. California, which has had about 80,000 sign-ups, is now reporting about 2,000 enrollments per day. New York and Washington state reported enrollment numbers in the tens of thousands as of this week. “It’s not all doom and gloom,” Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman said. “What this says is that the problems are system problems, not problems with demand or interest.”

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama waves after greeting children at Sycamore Elementary in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden walk arm and arm before speaking at the Chrysler Transmission Plant in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama stops to buy treats at the Gingerbread House Bakery in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets people outside the Gingerbread House Bakery in Kokomo, Ind., Nov. 23, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama pardons the 2011 Thanksgiving Turkey, Liberty, alongside his daughters Sasha and Malia on the North Portico of the White House, November 23

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16
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama listens during a meeting with aides on Air Force One en route to Beijing, China, Nov. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled

Tomorrow: The First Family will attend the game between the University of Maryland and Oregon State University at College Park, Md

Monday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Tuesday: Will deliver remarks at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council’s annual meeting

Wednesday: The President will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the First Lady will also attend

Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Friday: The President will host King Mohammed XI of Morocco at the White House

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Bill Scher: Another Way Obamacare Is Not Katrina

…. The failed Katrina response was the result of Bush taking an well-functioning government agency and deliberating degrading it: taking it from disaster managmement professionals, giving it to political cronies and beginning a process of reckless privatization.

With the Affordable Care Act, President Obama is not tearing down an existing agency, but trying to build up a new government program from scratch. As I’ve written before, new government programs typically suffer bumpy beginnings, but by facing up to new challenges, our government innovates and advances to better address problems the public wants solved.

In other words, Bush made government dumber. Obama, and Obamacare, is making government smarter.

Full post here

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Dean Baker: No, Obama Didn’t Lie To You About Your Health Care Plan

President Obama has been getting a lot of grief in the last few weeks over his pledge that with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place, people would be able to keep their insurance if they like it. First, it is important to note that the ACA grand-fathered all the individual policies that were in place at the time the law was enacted. This means that the plans in effect at the time that President Obama was pushing the bill could still be offered even if they did not meet all the standards laid out in the ACA.

The plans being terminated because they don’t meet the minimal standards were all plans that insurers introduced after the passage of the ACA. Insurers introduced these plans knowing that they would not meet the standards that would come into effect in 2014. Insurers may not have informed their clients at the time they sold these plans that they would not be available after 2014 because they had designed a plan that did not comply with the ACA.

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The “attack” label is ridiculous

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Ed Kilgore: Re The Collapse In Obama’s Approval Ratings

After reading Jonathan Bernstein’s essay on the massive over-reaction to the president’s sag in approval ratings—some of it based, no doubt, on media cherry-picking of whichever polls had the lowest numbers—I went back and looked at Gallup’s weekly approval rating averages over the last few weeks.

The CW is that Obama and the Democrats were riding high—on the brink, perhaps, of a history-defying 2014 sweep of Congress—when the government shutdown ended. That week Gallup had Obama’s approval ratio at a 43/51 average. The latest Gallup weekly average of Obama’s approval ratio is at 41/52, a booming one-and-a-half point deterioration since the shutdown ended.

What does it all mean? Probably that most people aren’t breathlessly following events in Washington other than to register their heat and noise. And there’s not much indication just yet that America sees itself as represented by the worried holders of existing individual health insurance policies. So yeah, once again, everyone should chill.

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Queen Of Spain Blog: We Just Enrolled In Obamacare

Yup. The entire family just ditched my husband’s employer provided health insurance* and as of January 1, 2014 we’ll be on a plan with a different insurance company. One that, unlike Aetna, decided to go after our business and compete in the marketplace. Our old plan had deductibles, and the out-of-pocket costs were 6k for individuals and 12k per family. This new plan from Blue Shield of California? No deductibles. Lower out-of-pocket maximums. Lower copays. Lower drug costs.

All of our doctors are in-network minus one. But that’s why I got the PPO. It’s also a 90/10 which means we pay 10% of things normally not totally covered like hospital stays and MRIs and what not. Our old plan? 80/20 in network and 60/40 out of network. Keeping in mind just about EVERYTHING for me was out of network. After doing all the math, just to start, we’ll be saving $18,900 per year. That is without knowing if I will be hospitalized in 2014, or need surgery or any of those things. In 2013 I was hospitalized once in July and the bill is still sitting on my desk. I’ve been making payments.

If the judge from my Social Security Disability case rules in my favor, that means I’ll be eligible for Medicare as well. IF that happens, that will mean we may not have much out of pocket at all. This makes me shake and cry. We are one of those families who have been buried in medical debt since I got sick. We’re one of those families the President talks about…the ones who are so close to losing everything because Mom got sick. We’ve re-financed our mortgage using the HARP/HAMP plans with JP Morgan Chase. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but we managed to save some money per month to keep our home. Now we are utilizing Obamacare. And yeah, go ahead and call it Obamacare, because without the President we wouldn’t have this opportunity.

More here

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Washington Post: How many Democrats voted for the ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act?’

The House voted Friday to approve a measure allowing Americans to keep current health-care plans, even if they don’t meet requirements established by the new Affordable Care Act. Passage of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act” was never in doubt — the only question was how many Democrats might defect and support the legislation. The Democratic defectors were: Rep. Ron Barber (Ariz.) Rep. John Barrow (Ga.) Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.) Rep. Tim Bishop (N.Y.) Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa) Rep. Julia Brownley (Calif.) Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.) Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) Rep. Suzan DelBene (Wash.) Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)

Rep. William Enyart (Ill.) Rep. Elizabeth Esty (Conn.) Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.) Rep. Pete Gallego (Texas) Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.) Rep. Joe Garcia (Fla.) Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.) Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.) Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa) Rep. Dan Maffei (N.Y.) Rep. Sean Maloney (N.Y.) Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah) Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.) Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.) Rep. Rick Nolan (Minn.) Rep. Bill Owens (N.Y.) Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.) Rep. Gary Peters (Mich.) Rep. Colin Peterson (Minn.) Rep. Nick Rahall (W. Va.) Rep. Raul Ruiz (Calif.) Rep. Bill Schneider (Ill.) Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.) Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.) Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) Rep. Filemon Vela (Texas) Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.).

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Michele Richinick: Obamacare To Save Family $18,900

In a country discouraged by last month’s health care rollout and corresponding widespread problems, Erin Kotecki Vest and her family are rejoicing. Obamacare will save them almost $19,000 each year. “When the president says no family should lose their home because someone got sick, no family should go bankrupt because somebody got sick, that is us. That is absolutely us,” she told msnbc.

In 2010 doctors diagnosed Kotecki Vest with Lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissue. Three days every other week she undergoes intravenous therapy, which lasts three to five hours each visit. And that, she said, is when “everything is going well.”

Additionally, she takes Rituxin, which is also administered to her intravenously every four months in two different six-hour sessions. Doctors have prescribed her Prednisone for the past three years. Complications from her diagnosis caused her to suffer from a stroke, lose her gall bladder and the majority of her colon, and undergo a hysterectomy.

More here

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Steve Benen: Right Still Pushing ‘Don’t Enroll’ Crusade

Of all the things conservatives have done to sabotage and derail the Affordable Care Act – and good lord, is this a long list – nothing seems quite as offensive as the right’s campaign to encourage those without coverage to stay uninsured, on purpose, to advance an ideological cause.

Regular readers may recall that we covered this quite a bit over the summer. Conservatives launched organized efforts to convince the uninsured to voluntarily “refuse to enroll” – because if fewer people participate in the system, costs would soar, and in theory the system could become unsustainable. Struggling families will of course be completely screwed in this scenario, but for the right, that’s a small price to pay – and a sacrifice they’re willing to see others make.

Eric Lach, referencing a report from the Alaska Dispatch, noted yesterday that the campaign is still very much underway. Indeed, it appears far-right Floridians are now lobbying Alaskans to stay uninsured on purpose.

More here

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Think Progress: Obama Will Halt Deportation And Grant Legal Status To Some Relatives Of Military Personnel

Federal immigration authorities will no longer deport non-criminal immigrant family members of former and active duty members of immigrants serving in the U.S. military, according to a new Department of Homeland Security memoreleased on Friday. Most notably, some undocumented family members of military personnel would also have a chance to adjust to permanent legal status.

The memo in part states that relatives without criminal records and who aren’t national security risks could apply for a “parole in place” status, thereby having their deportations suspended. The parole status is authorized in one-year increments and allows relatives who are legally here to adjust for permanent legal status. Others who can adjust their status include undocumented immediate relatives and employment-based immigrants who fell out of status for less than six months.

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Paul Waldman: Memo To Democratic Chicken Littles: The Sky Is Not Falling

Ah, now this is what politics is supposed to be like: Ruthless Republicans, gleeful at the prospect that they might increase the net total of human suffering. Timorous Democrats, panicking at the first hint of political difficulty and rushing to assemble a circular firing squad. And the news media bringing out the “Dems In Disarray!” headlines they keep in storage for just this purpose.

The problems of the last couple weeks “could threaten Democratic priorities for years,” says Ron Brownstein. It’s just like Hurricane Katrina, says The New York Times (minus the 1,500 dead people, I guess they mean, though they don’t say so). “On the broader question of whether Obama can rebuild an effective presidency after this debacle,” says Dana Milbank, “it’s starting to look as if it may be game over.” Ruth Marcus also declares this presidency all but dead: “Can he recover? I’m sorry to say: I’m not at all confident.” Oh please. Everyone just chill out.

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Arthur Delaney: Obama Pushes To Save The Holiday Season For A Million Unemployed People

The Obama administration on Friday came out strongly in support of extending long-term unemployment insurance past its current expiration date. Top economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a statement to The Huffington Post there is “no question” that Congress should extend emergency unemployment insurance for the more than 1 million workers who could be affected when benefits expire between Christmas and the New Year.

“We have always done so when unemployment is this high and would make little sense to fail to do so now when we are still facing the burdens of the worst downturn since the Great Recession,” Sperling said. “It is high bang for the buck for the economy, reduces poverty and helps workers who lost jobs due to no fault of their own get back on their feet.”

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David Ignatius: The Stakes Of An Iranian Deal

Netanyahu seems to think that if sanctions have brought Iran to the table and gained concessions, then more sanctions will force Tehran to give up its nuclear program altogether. But administration officials fear that imposing more sanctions at this delicate moment (as Netanyahu is pushing Congress to do) will just blow up the negotiations.

My sense is that Israel and Saudi Arabia would love to scuttle an American rapprochement with an Iran they regard as a deadly adversary. But if Obama presses ahead, Netanyahu is bidding to replace the United States as military protector of the status quo, including the security of the Gulf Arabs.

Strategically, this de-facto Israeli alliance with the Saudis is an extraordinary opportunity for Israel.  The Obama administration would counter (correctly, I think) that embracing the Saudi strategy of an ever-deepening Sunni-Shiite divide is unwise. The schism will fuel permanent sectarian war in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Better to seek a turn in relations with Iran through diplomacy that can limit its nuclear program, Obama reasons. He’s right.

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On This Day:

President Obama arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport on November 16, 2009

Signing an autograph during a working lunch with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng in Shanghai, China, Nov. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Arriving at Canberra’s Fairbairn Airport for the start of his two-day visit to Australia, Nov 16, 2011

Participating in an official arrival ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra on November 16, 2011

Greeted by students as he arrives with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra on November 16, 2011

Prime Minister Gillard proposes a toast to President Obama during the Parliamentary Dinner at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 16, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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09
Nov
13

Early Bird Chat

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds!

02
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

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Pete Souza: President Obama hugs Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell after viewing his statue in Boston earlier this week

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The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President will welcome the five-time Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Following the visit, he will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event.

Tuesday: The President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and with their families. He will also visit the Fisher House, a program that supports military families by welcoming them to stay at the house while their loved ones receive specialized medical care.

Wednesday: The President will travel to Dallas to participate in DSCC events.

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

Friday: The President will travel to the New Orleans area for an event on the economy. Later that day, he will travel to Miami, Florida to participate in DNC and DSCC events.

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TPM: Obamacare Birth Control Mandate Struck Down By Appeals Court

A divided appeals court panel is siding with Ohio business owners who challenged the birth control mandate under the new federal health care law. The business owners are two brothers who say the mandate to provide contraceptive coverage would make them violate their Roman Catholic beliefs.

The ruling Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is one of many on the birth control issue, which likely will be resolved by the Supreme Court. The appeals court panel says the mandate limits the right of free exercise of religion. The brothers are Francis and Philip M. Gilardi. They say they don’t want to provide contraceptives like the Plan B pill for their employees. The Gilardis own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics of Sidney, Ohio.

More here

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AP: US Manufacturing Expands At Best Pace In 2½ Years

U.S. factory activity expanded in October at the fastest pace in 2½ years, suggesting that the 16-day partial shutdown of the government had little effect on manufacturers. Instead, overseas demand and healthy U.S. auto sales appear to be supporting factory output. The housing recovery is also lifting the furniture and wood products industry despite a recent slowing in home sales.

“We’ve become accustomed to the way Washington operates in the past couple of years and assume that it will get resolved eventually, however painfully,” said Bradley Holcomb, head of the survey committee of the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers that on Friday reported a solid manufacturing figure for October. The ISM’s manufacturing index rose to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth. U.S. factory activity has now risen at an increasingly fast pace for five straight months, according to the ISM’s index.

More here

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USA Today: Health Website Load Times Improve By 80%

During the first few weeks of Healthcare.gov’s launch, people waited an average of eight seconds for each page to load. As of yesterday, they’re waiting less than one second, the Obama administration reported Friday.

“This is more than an 80% improvement,” said Jeffrey Zients, the former Office of Management and Budget deputy director brought in to manage the site’s upgrades. “We’re on a path to improve Healthcare.gov each week and to meet our target by the end of November,” he said in a briefing with reporters.

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Caitlin MacNeal: Biden: ‘Worth Considering’ Senate Nuclear Option For Nominees

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that it might be a good idea to change the rules of the Senate for nominee confirmations, known as the “nuclear option,” according to the Huffington Post. “I think it’s worth considering,” Biden told reporters after he was asked if nominations should only need a simple majority, as opposed to requiring 60 votes.

On Thursday Republicans blocked two of President Obama’s nominations by voting against cloture. Patricia Millett was nominated to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court and Rep. Mel Watt’s(D-NC) was nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Biden told reporters that Watt is completely qualified to become chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. “Mel Watt is absolutely, totally, thoroughly qualified and it’s a gigantic disappointment,” Biden said.

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Bloomberg: Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted For Obamacare ‘Tech Surge’

Google Inc., Red Hat Inc., Oracle Corp. and other technology companies are contributing dozens of computer engineers and programmers to help the Obama administration fix the U.S. health-insurance exchange website. Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google, and Greg Gershman, innovation director for smartphone application maker Mobomo, are among those helping, the Obama administration said yesterday.

“They are working through the analytics of what happens on the site to prioritize what needs to be fixed,” Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters on a conference call. Dickerson is working to improve the stability of the website, while Gershman is “helping the development process be more agile.”

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Dylan Scott: What Really Happens To People Whose Insurance Is ‘Canceled’ Because Of ObamaCare

About 80 percent of people, those who receive insurance through their employer or are already enrolled in a government program, won’t experience any change at all, Gruber said. (The Kaiser Family Foundation puts the number at 79 percent). Another 14 percent are currently uninsured people who will now be able to get covered because of the Affordable Care Act, Gruber said. (Kaiser pegs it at 16 percent uninsured). How many of those actually get covered depends on a few variables — like whether Republicans states come around and expand Medicaid — but that’s the share that stands to gain.

So then you have 6 percent who might receive a cancelation letter (Kaiser says the individual market is 5 percent). Of those, Gruber argued, about half aren’t really going to see a change: They’ll technically enroll in a new plan, but it’ll be very similar to what they already had. That leaves 3 percent who will have to buy significantly different plans, some of whom might have to pay more for them (at least before the law’s tax credits and other financial assistance kick in).

More here

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TPM: Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled On Voting Rights Act

NORTH CAROLINA: Two months after the Supreme Court decision, North Carolina passed a number of measures, including strict new photo ID requirements. The law also eliminates same-day voter registration, shortens the early voting period by seven days, and specifies that ballots cast at the wrong polling station will be thrown out.

Some changes will be phased in starting in 2014, and the photo ID provision goes into effect in 2016. The North Carolina NAACP and a civil rights group called the Advancement Project have filed a lawsuit challenging the changes. The Justice Department also filed a suit of its own. But the suits venture into some new legal territory.

More here

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AP: Still All Smiles: Newly Insured Who Became Latest Faces Of Health Overhaul Defend Their Choice

The Obama administration is now asking people who have successfully purchased health insurance to let their pictures be used. Two of them told The Associated Press they found the site easy to navigate, were happy with the plans they purchased and were eager to share their stories in any format, including becoming the new face of the health care overhaul.

Not long after she enrolled on Oct. 3, Deborah Lielasus of Portsmouth was contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services “I think it’s important to show them that you shouldn’t hide from being honest and being sincere and talking about something that you believe in,” she said. In Orlando, Fla., 22-year-old Daniel McNaughton said his experience was similar.

McNaughton, a student at Valencia College, said he will be paying $70 per month for a plan that covers “anything I could possibly need.” That’s about what he’s paying now for a catastrophic plan that covers only three doctor visits per year. “I won’t have to ration my doctor’s visits,” he said. “It gives me good peace of mind.” He told administration officials it was “more than OK” with him if they wanted to use his picture on HealthCare.gov.

More here

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LA Times: Interior Chief Emphasizes Conservation In First Major Speech

She called out Congress for failing to add a single acre of public land to the park or wilderness systems in three years, saying that the country needs a comprehensive public lands package. “We cannot and will not hold our breath forever,” Jewell said.

She also announced an initiative to help young people connect to public lands, laying out a plan that by 2017 will: create outdoor recreational opportunities for 10 million youths in 50 cities, provide educational opportunities for 10 million elementary students, add 1 million volunteers to parks and refuges, and offer work and training opportunities for 100,000 young people.

More here

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Media Matters: The D.C. Press Yawns While Republicans Return To Radically Obstructionist Ways

The historic element of the Watt rejection was that throughout American history it has been virtually unheard for a sitting member of Congress to be filibustered — to be denied the courtesy of a final vote — when selected by the president to fill an administration position. Prior to this week’s partisan blockade of Watt, a Congressional rejection like his hadn’t happened since before the Civil War, in 1843.

That important historical context should have been included in every story about the Watt filibuster, but it wasn’t. That’s not surprising considering the Beltway press corps seems to have made a conscious decision during the Obama presidency to omit virtually all context with regards to the Republicans’ continued radical behavior as they cling to filibusters to methodically block, stall and reject most White House policy proposals, as well as countless nominations.

More here

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On This Day:

Ohio State Capitol, November 2, 2008 (Photos by David Katz/Obama for America)

Cleveland Mall, November 2, 2008

President Obama listens during a terrorism threat briefing in the Situation Room of the White House, Nov. 2, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Hilliard, November 2, 2012 (Photos by Scout Tufankjian)

Lima, Nov 2, 2012 (Photos by Thomas Miller)

Beloit, Nov 2 (Photo by Christopher Dilts)

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26
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

A Year Ago Today: The President pretends to be caught in Spider-Man’s web as he greets Nicholas Tamarin, 3, just outside the Oval Office, Oct. 26, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Steve Benen: The Right’s Realization: Websites Can Be Fixed

The political establishment has obviously been deeply invested this week in exploring the technical problems associated with the Affordable Care Act’s website, and the glitches are now the core Republican message. But there’s always been a serious flaw with the GOP’s strategy.

For one thing, tech troubles don’t reflect on the underlying merits of “Obamacare” itself. For another, as some in the party are starting to realize, website glitches, no matter how severe or systemic, can be fixed …

…. I get the sense that GOP officials, feeling desperate after their party’s standing went into free fall after their government shutdown, saw website glitches as a life-preserver ….  But as the storm subsides, Republicans find themselves adrift with an unhelpful floatation device. They’re not only attacking a health care law that’s far more popular than they are, they’re also relying heavily on a problem with a finite end….

Full post here

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Jonathan Cohn: A Chart That Will Help Dispel Your Obamacare Hysteria

The Obamacare online saga may be reaching the phase where media and political hysteria is out of proportion to the actual problem. A case in point is the controversy over enrollment numbers.

…. I suspect the numbers will come out soon enough …. when they do, enrollment in Obamacare private plans will probably look pretty dismal. Most people will assume that’s primarily because of website problems at healthcare.gov. They will be wrong.

The main reason for low enrollment will be that people don’t sign up for health insurance programs right away. They wait until the last minute. This is true of public insurance and this is true of private insurance. And while you’ve heard people (including me) say this for months, this is one of those cases when numbers tell the story better than words. And there are some numbers very few people have seen.

The numbers are from Massachusetts, the state whose health reforms became the template for the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion….

More here

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Michael Tomasky: The Republicans’ Food Stamp Fraud: It’s Not About Austerity

What’s the single worst thing the Obama-era Republicans have done? Tough one, I know.

But spare me a moment here — plus a thousand words down the page — and I think maybe you’ll agree with me that the single worst thing the Obama-era Republicans have done is try to push through a $40 billion cut to the food-stamps program. It’s just unspeakably cruel.

They usually say publicly that it’s about saving money. But sometimes someone—one congressman in particular—lets slip the real reason: They want to punish poor people. The farm bill, which includes the food-stamp program, goes to conference committee next week. That’s where, the cliché has it, the two sides are supposed to “iron out their differences.” The only thing the Democrats on this committee should do with an iron is run it across the Republicans’ scowling faces.

More here

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CBS: President Obama Orders Review Of U.S. Spying As World Leaders Push For New Limits On Surveillance

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We wanted to ensure we’re collecting information because we need it and not just because we can.” But Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron pointed the finger back at Snowden, saying the leak of classified information would make it harder for his and other countries to keep citizens safe. He said, “What Snowden is doing, and to an extent what the newspapers are doing in helping him doing what he’s doing, is frankly signaling to people who mean to do us harm how to evade and avoid intelligence and surveillance.”

 The U.S. already has a no-spying agreement with four countries: Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Senior officials in the White House tell CBS News they’re giving allies a heads-up on what may come next as a result of Snowden’s leaks. They also say the White House is open to talks with European governments about a no-spying agreement. Germany and France want to be added to the list. And Brazil is leading a push for a United Nations resolution to limit intelligence gathering. If it passes, it will be non-binding.

More here

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Star Tribune: MNsure Signs Up 3,700 So Far For Health Insurance; Another 1,800 Finish Applications

Minnesota’s health insurance exchange on Wednesday released its first data on enrollment, showing that two weeks into its launch more than 3,700 people have signed up for health insurance coverage. MNsure’s executive director, April Todd-Malmlov, said she expects the pace of enrollment to pick up speed with the approach of a Dec. 15 deadline to lock down coverage before it takes effect Jan. 1. Between those who already signed up and those who just need to pick an insurer, 5,569 people in all have completed the application process. MNsure estimates the number of people who will be covered under those plans at 11,684 — since many plans cover more than one person in a family.

Mitch Grussing, a self-employed musician from St. Paul, told the MNsure board Wednesday that he had successfully signed up for coverage through the site. There were a few technical glitches, he said, and he was still waiting for the ability to make his initial payment. But Grussing said he will save about $35 a month on his premium compared with his previous insurance, that his deductible would be cut in half and that he’d be eligible for more office visits. “I would say MNsure has done its job, at least for me,” Grussing said. “I got exactly what I wanted to get out of it.”

More here

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BBC: JP Morgan Settles For $5.1bn With U.S. Housing Regulator

JP Morgan has reached a $5.1bn (£3.2bn) settlement with the US Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) over charges it misled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing boom. A separate settlement with the US Justice Department is expected to be announced soon.

“This is a significant step to address outstanding mortgage-related issues,” the FHFA said in a statement. It is the biggest settlement ever by a US bank. As part of the agreement with the FHFA, the bank will pay $4bn to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to settle claims that it violated US securities law. It will pay the agencies an additional $1.1bn for misrepresenting the quality of single-family mortgages.

More here

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On This Day:

Bo peers into the Outer Oval Office from the White House Colonnade, Oct. 26, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama jokes with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and personal aide Reggie Love, right, prior to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Fla., Oct. 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama adjusts Sway Calloway’s hat following an interview for a Live MTV special, in the Blue Room of the White House, Oct. 26, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets guests at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Fla., Oct. 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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19
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

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Jonathan Cohn: How Obama, Reid, And Pelosi Stopped Republican Extortion. Three Reasons The Democrats Won

It’s over. The Senate voted yes. The House voted yes. President Obama signed the bill and, on Thursday, the federal government is open for business again. But in a narrower political sense, this was one of those (relatively) rare Washington battles in which one side clearly prevailed. It was the Democrats. When this episode started, they said they were determined not to make major concessions simply because Republicans were threatening shutdown and default.

Sure enough, here we are—with a new continuing resolution, a higher debt limit, and no major changes in law. Democrats achieved the policy outcome they had sought, while establishing a precedent for the future: No more negotiating while under such threats. So what did Democrats do right? How did they hold it together? Among the many factors, three come quickly to mind.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: The Truth About The ObamaCare Rollout

Administration officials have said they never expected so many initial visitors and that the high demand is a good sign. Both claims are true. In fairness, federal officials operated under tremendous political and logistical constraints, the kind few outsiders can grasp. Private developers don’t have the same stringent standards for privacy and security, for instance. And given the enormous challenges of trying to integrate so many systems—some new, some old—nobody seriously expected the launch of Obamacare’s federal websites to take place without glitches

People trying to get insurance have been remarkably patient, which tells you something important about how dysfunctional and frustrating the old insurance market was. Obamacare’s architects assumed that most states would opt to run their own marketplaces with federal officials running only a few. The assumption proved wrong: Pretty much any state with a Republican governor or Republican legislative control said no, adding to the administrative burden on HHS. But 14 states plus the District of Columbia are managing their own markets.Mostly it’s places you would expect—progressive outposts like California, Washington, and New York—where Obama and his policies are most popular. But Kentucky, where a Democratic governor and group of dedicated officials have worked diligently to deliver the law’s benefits, is also on the list.

More here

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Greg Sargent: How The GOP Can Save Itself From The Tea Party

Now that the government shutdown crisis is over, leaving the GOP brand in tatters, the news is filled with chatter about Republicans “reassessing” for the battles that come. As Karen Tumulty’s piece asks: “What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement?” If Republicans do want to enter into the normal give and take of governing — a big “if,” to be sure – it will require a willingness to rely on an alliance of non-Tea Party Republicans and Democrats to get things done.

Republicans didn’t lose the shutdown fight because Obama is trying to destroy their party. They lost it because the Tea Party fantasy outcome was never going to happen. It was rooted in a deeply unhinged view of how governing should work that Dems were never, ever, ever going to accept. It took GOP leaders too long to accept this and act accordingly.

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Jonathan Cohn:

In fact, one of the most insightful analyses of Obamacare’s federal site came from John Green, co-producer of Vlogbrothers—who tried applying for insurance via an Obamacare exchange (one the federal government is running for Indiana) and then compared the experience to applying for insurance the old way, via an insurance company website. Even with the delays and server errors, he found, Obamacare was quicker and easier—mostly because, under the old system, he had to reconstruct several years of his medical history down to every exam and test.

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Steve Benen: GOP Already Balking At New Immigration Push

President Obama spoke briefly yesterday, announcing the re-opening of the federal government, and sharing some thoughts on how to help the country get moving in the right direction again. Specifically, the president stressed the importance of immigration reform – four times. The push came on the heels from similar remarks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said, “I look forward to the next venture, which is making sure we do immigration reform.” As it turns out, congressional Republicans don’t quite see it that way.

A prominent House Republican intends to help destroy the legislation because, he claims, Obama is “trying to destroy the Republican Party.” Presumably, then, that’s an outcome Republicans prefer to inflict on themselves? Stepping back, here’s my question for congressional Republicans: what is it, exactly, you intend to run on in 2014? I don’t mean that in some kind of obnoxious, snarky, way; I genuinely want to know.

More here

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Framed through the windows of the spare limousine, President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the motorcade with Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and personal aide Reggie Love, Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Think Progress: New Jersey Supreme Court: Same-Sex Couples Can Begin Marrying Monday

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an arguably unprecedented decision Friday: though they still plan to hear out a case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, they are going to allow same-sex couples to begin marrying in the state in the meantime. The lower court’s decision will take effect at 12:01 AM Monday morning. In an order denying the Christie administration a stay of the lower court’s marriage equality ruling, the Court posited that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act so “changed the landscape” that the harm to same-sex couples being denied federal benefits was too blatant to ignore

this outcome is not a final guarantee that the right to marry is a permanent fixture for same-sex couples in New Jersey, but it is incredibly encouraging. Though the Court reserved its right to nullify any marriages that take place until they rule, they have explicitly stated their expectation that the state will lose and marriage equality will prevail.

More here

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On This Day:

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President Barack Obama waves from the Colonnade to visitors as they tour the White House grounds during the 2012 White House Fall Garden Tour, Oct. 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, with veteran James Sperry and his daughter, Hannah, pause for the national anthem prior to Game 1 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 19, 2011. The First Lady and Dr. Biden attended the game as part of their Joining Forces initiative. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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President Barack Obama listens to the University of Texas Pan American Mariachi Aztlan band in the Grand Foyer before signing the Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama talks with third and fourth grade students during a surprise visit to Viers Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., Oct. 19, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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25
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: Will award Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Staff Sergeant Carter will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a cavalry scout with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. Staff Sergeant Carter will be the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

Tuesday: The President will host a reception at the White House in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Wednesday: The President will deliver remarks at the Let Freedom Ring ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Thursday: Attends meetings at the White House.

Friday: The President will welcome President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, and President Andris Berzins of Latvia to the White House.

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The top of the Washington Monument and part of a U.S. flag are reflected in the sunglasses of Austin Clinton Brown, 9, of Gainesville, Fla., during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963; and at right, Claudia Hanes, from Kentucky, takes part in a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march, at the Lincoln Memorial.

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AP: Marchers In Washington Across 50 Years

Some 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed America’s slaves, many Americans embraced the ideal of racial equality but were frustrated with the glacial pace of change. Organizers were making plans to bring people from across the country to the nation’s capital to express their exasperation in a peaceful, nonviolent manner.

On Aug. 28, 1963, men and women, blacks and whites, Latinos and native peoples, Jews and Christians — more than 250,000 in all — rallied at the Lincoln Memorial. The gathering stretched down the National Mall, past the reflecting pool toward the Capitol. The music and speeches they heard extolled the urgent need for social justice.

More here

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March Then and Now Photo Gallery

Large crowds gather near the Washington Monument to demonstrate for the civil rights movement in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963; and at bottom, people hold up banners as they attend the rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march.

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March Then and Now Photo Gallery

Civil rights protestors march down Constitution Avenue carrying placards during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963; and at bottom, people rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march.

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USA Today: Women Play A Larger Role In 2nd March On Washington

In a departure from events a half-century ago, women played a larger role in Saturday’s commemoration of the March on Washington. “Fifty years ago, women were not up here speaking, but here we are today,” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told a crowd that contained substantially more women than its predecessor in 1963.

Keynote speakers included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader of the House of Representatives, and King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, who offered a moving final prayer to close the event. Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain black teenager, Trayvon Martin, provided a tribute of her son, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers, also addressed the crowd.

More here

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Doctors Work Overtime To Spread The Truth About ObamaCare

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ThinkProgress: New Obama Immigration Directive Eases Deportations Of Parents

Federal immigration authorities have been advised to consider familial connections when they detain undocumented immigrant parents, according to an Obama administration directive released on Friday. While the document does not prevent the deportation of undocumented parents or high-priority criminal immigrants, it does allow detained individuals to make caregiver decisions for their children.

The directive specifically advises immigration agents to exercise prosecutorial discretion as early as possible during an immigrant’s detention, including finding out whether detained individuals are primary caretakers. It allows for the creation of a “field point of contact” in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents receive and address inquiries from both detained parents and their families. Agents are also guided to place detained parents in facilities that are within the “area of responsibility,” or somewhere closer to their children.

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Sarah Jones: Dem Governor Sends Sens Paul And McConnell Reeling With A Powerful Defense Of ObamaCare

As Republicans preach hatred of Obamacare to a dwindling audience even among their own members, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear chose to use the Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast to make a powerful case for Obamacare to 1,600 diners. Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, also attending, weren’t expecting the onslaught. Jill Lawrence reported, “It was not what anyone expected—least of all Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who sat stone-faced onstage with Beshear as he unloaded on them without using names.”

Beshear finished with a stab to the heart of GOP’s NoCare, no alternative. “It’s amazing to me how people who are pouring time and money and energy into trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act sure haven’t put that kind of energy into trying to improve the health of Kentuckians,” according to the National Journal.

He said 640,000 Kentuckians—15 percent of the state—don’t have health insurance and “trust me, you know many of those 640,000 people. You’re friends with them. You’re probably related to them. Some may be your sons and daughters. You go to church with them. Shop with them. Help them harvest their fields. Sit in the stands with them as you watch your kids play football or basketball or ride a horse in competition. Heck, you may even be one of them.”

More here

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On This Day:

Aug. 25, 2009 – Pete Souza: “On vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, the President shared a moment with his young niece, Savita”

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Aug 25, 2010: President Obama greets people at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Mass. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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