Posts Tagged ‘Wendy Davis

27
Apr
14

News Of The Day

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Fort Stewart, Georgia, April 27, 2012

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The Philippines is 12 hours ahead of EDT

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Monday, April 28

The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace

Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines

President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino

The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines

Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace

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Tuesday, April 29

In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio

Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery

The President travels back to Washington, D.C.

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Text of the President’s remarks on Donald Sterling

With respect to the statements by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers — for our Malaysian audience, this is a sports team, basketball team in the United States.  The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published.  I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves.  When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.  And that’s what happened here.

I am confident that the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this.  Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country.  It’s got an awful lot of African American players.  It’s steeped in African American culture.  And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.

I will make just one larger comment about this.  The United States continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often.  And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there had been — there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.

And like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.  And I know that the people of Malaysia are committed to wrestling with those issues as well.  We have to make sure that we stay on top of it — and we will.

Full transcript of press conference here

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Dylan Scott: NYT Poll Blows Up GOP’s Obamacare Narrative

A poll released Wednesday offers yet another data point showing the politics of Obamacare aren’t as set in stone as the conventional wisdom would have you believe. Embracing Obamacare isn’t necessarily a political loser, and obstructing it isn’t necessarily a winner. The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed four Southern states that will help determine control of the Senate this fall. It earned headlines for finding the Democrats in better shape in the Senate races than most would have expected. But it also assessed the popularity of four governors who have taken vastly different approaches to Obamacare — and the findings are a direct contradiction of the narrative that the law is a loser, plain and simple, especially in states like these.

The poll showed Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who expanded Medicaid under the law, are hugely popular. Their approval ratings are more than 20 points higher than their disapproval ratings; Beebe holds 68 percent approval, and Beshear is at 56 percent. But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are at best treading water with their constituents after they declined to expand the program to cover low-income residents.

More here

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NYT: Slavery Nostalgia Is Real, And It’s Dangerous

Northerners may be a little shocked that anyone could feel a bit nostalgic for slavery, in the manner of the government-hating Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy. But in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference. Occasionally, in fact, they are expressed or embraced by public figures. A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves. But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company. Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

More here

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President Obama’s Townhall At Malaya University

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Jackie Calmes: In Poorest States, Political Stigma Is Depressing Participation In Health Law

Inside the sleek hillside headquarters of Valley Health Systems, built with a grant from the health care law, two employees played an advertisement they had helped produce to promote the law’s insurance coverage for young, working-class West Virginians. The ads ran just over 100 times during the recent six-month enrollment period. But three conservative groups ran 12 times as many, to oppose the law and the local Democratic congressman who voted for it. This is a disparity with consequences. Health professionals, state officials, social workers, insurance agents and others trying to make the law work for uninsured Americans say the partisan divisions and attack ads have depressed participation in some places.

They say the law has been stigmatized for many who could benefit from it, especially in conservative states like West Virginia that have the poorest, most medically underserved populations but where President Obama and his signature initiative are hugely unpopular. Steven L. Shattls, chief executive of Valley Health, a network of 28 health centers, said his organization would like to rerun its ad before November, when enrollment resumes. But he also conceded, “We have limited resources.” Republican candidates and the so-called super PACs supporting them have made assailing the Affordable Care Act their No. 1 issue for the midterm elections

More here

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Koritha Mitchell: Supreme Court Agrees With Michigan Voters: Affirmative Action Must Remain For Whites Only

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities reinforces an ugly reality: that most Americans support affirmative action only when it is for whites and no one else. Nearly every time American rhetoric privileges states’ rights, it leaves marginalized groups open to even bolder discrimination than they already encounter. Michigan is simply reminding us that the South has never been the only place where Americans believe that whites are the only ones who should enjoy equal protection. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 58-page dissent is a painfully necessary document that asks the nation to live up to its creed, but we desperately need to take this conversation in another direction. Rather than focus on the disadvantages of groups hurt by this decision, Americans must confront the unearned advantage of whiteness that inspired Michigan’s Proposal 2 in the first place. In short, Proposal 2 — and every instance of the sort of rhetoric that aligns with it — amounts to a declaration that setting a quota for whites of at least 75 percent is the American way.

The nation’s most effective, and palatable, affirmation action has always been for whites. In the early days of the republic, how else could land have been distributed to whites and not to Native Americans? The requirement for land was being white; the government set it aside for whites. How else could whites have secured the vast majority of land in the South (where blacks often outnumbered them) after Emancipation? The Homestead Act of 1863 and other government programs ensured that land was set aside for whites. How else did 98 percent of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans granted between 1932 and 1962 go to whites? Numerous historians have shown that the federal government sanctioned discriminatory practices that ensured that access to home ownership was set aside for whites. And those homes not only enabled whites to build wealth; they also provided access to public schools that prepared their children for college. The same principles shaped the years after World War II. Thus, while G.I. Bill benefits yielded college degrees and small businesses for whites, black and brown veterans more often returned home to collect insult and injury.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Cancelled Policies: Study Says Impact Was Actually Small

“Five million people lost their coverage around the country.” That quote comes from John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Party Committee. But if you’ve heard Republicans and their allies make the case against Obamacare, then you’ve inevitably heard some version of this. In some tellings, the number is 6 million. Sometimes conservatives cite this figure as proof that, on net, the number of Americans with insurance will decline because of the Affordable Care Act. That’s almost certainly not true, as a recent series of surveys have shown. The study, which appears online at the journal Health Affairs, is by Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Using data from the Census Brueau’s Survey of Income Program and Participation, or SIPP, Sommers found that, historically, the non-group insurance has tended to have lots of churn.

In English, that means few people hold onto non-group policies for very long—typically, it’s just a transitional phase, while they are between jobs that provide insurance directly. In the sample that Sommers examined, the number of people who still had the same policy after just four months was already less than than two-thirds; after one year, it was down to 42 percent; after two years, it was down to 27 percent. So what does that tell us about Obamacare? According to Sommers, it suggests that most of the people who got those cancellation notices probably would have dropped existing coverage within a short time anyway. Sommers says that 65 percent of the people in his study had incomes below 400 percent of the poverty line, which means they’d be eligible for tax credits that make non-group insurance less expensive than the sticker price. That makes him skeptical about the extent of “rate shock”

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Republicans Are Racists? No, It’s Just All A Big Coincidence

Come on, fellow liberals. Calm down. I guess maybe it’s fair to call Cliven Bundy a racist. That “picking cotton” business put it over the top, and wondering whether they were better off under slavery. Even Sean Hannity, Bundy’s greatest media champion, threw in the towel last night: He wanted it to be “abundantly clear,” Hannity said at the top of his show, that he found the remarks “downright racist,” “repugnant,” “beyond disturbing,” and so on. OK, so Bundy’s a racist. It’s fine to point that out. But point up the fact that he’s a registered Republican? That’s where I draw the line, friends. I mean, come on. That’s just a coincidence. Total cosmic coincidence.

Just like it’s a coincidence that one federal judge who sent an email around to friends saying that Obama’s father was a dog happened to be a Republican. Complete and utter accident of fate, the puny matter of his voter enrollment. Those rancidly racist T-shirts and posters one sometimes sees at Tea Party rallies? They’re just a coincidence, too. I mean, Tea Party people might not be Republican, strictly speaking, and it’s totally unfair to assume that! OK, Tea Party candidates run in Republican primaries, not Democratic ones, and the Tea Party caucus in the House doesn’t include one Democrat. But still. Guilt by association!

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Irin Carmon: Texas Women Are Running Out Of Options

There is no more birth control at the flea market. And if there ever were abortion pills, they’re long gone, too. At the Rio Grande Valley’s biggest outdoor market, known as la pulga, locals can buy car parts and fertilizer, watermelons out of a pickup, a parakeet, an iPhone case or stickers from their favorite Mexican fútbol team. But since this flea market was among several raided last August over suspicion it was selling abortion pills, if you even ask for birth control you’ll hear voices lower to a fearful whisper. You’ll be sent to the vendor who sells nuts, or the women selling jewelry. On a recent afternoon, all those destinations were a dead end. “Not anymore,” a woman whose table bore aspirin and homeopathic remedies said in Spanish. She shrugged. “Obama wants us to have more babies.” In fact, it wasn’t the federal government that raided four flea markets’ thriving illegal pharmaceutical trade, making undocumented residents that much more terrified to shop in them. The Sheriff of Hidalgo County, who took the lead, didn’t find any abortion pills, but he did charge nine people with selling prescription-drug contraband like diet pills and Viagra from Mexico.

The arrests came a month to the day after a front page New York Times story about how the state’s new omnibus law restricting abortion – the one Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis famously tried to block – was expected to close the Rio Grande Valley’s two abortion clinics.The combined crackdown by state and local authorities in Texas has done more than make it harder for the women of the Valley to get an abortion. They’re now having trouble getting any reproductive health care at all, since the same state legislature that shuttered the abortion clinics also slashed family planning funds and closed family planning providers. And Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid means its distinction as the uninsured capital of the United States isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, making the state’s broader health care crisis even worse.

More here

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Ian Millhiser: Court Declares Arkansas Voter Suppression Law Unconstitutional

Voter ID laws, which require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, reduce voter turn out among young voters, low-income voters and people of color — all of whom are groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas’ voter ID law is also unconstitutional, according to a state trial court’s decision handed down on Thursday. As Judge Timothy Davis Fox lays out the controlling law in this case, the constitutionality of Arkansas’ voter ID law isn’t even a particular difficult question. The Arkansas Constitution provides that “[n]o power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.” This law impairs the free exercise of the right of suffrage.

More here

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LEO Weekly: Mitch McConnell Enters A High-Risk Pool On Kynect Opposition

Gov. Steve Beshear announced the almost-final enrollment numbers for Kentuckians gaining access to health care coverage under Kynect before the spring deadline, in which a staggering 413,410 people — 9.6 percent of all Kentuckians — now have health insurance. Roughly 300,000 of these people previously did not have health insurance, and 52 percent of Kynect enrollees are under the age of 35. Sen. Mitch McConnell is beating the drum of repealing Obamacare “root and branch,” though he occasionally slips up and talks about a “fix.” Where this stance becomes dicey for him is when he’s asked what he would do for those 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through Kynect, 300,000 of which were previously uninsured, if he succeeds in repealing the ACA. When cornered with this question, McConnell usually goes into talking points mode to avoid specifics, but last week His Swaggerness got McConnell to bite. Asked what he would do for terminally ill Kentuckians who would lose their new insurance if the ACA is repealed, McConnell actually presented what appears to be a specific answer

McConnell is referring to here is Kentucky Access, the state’s former high-risk pool that helped provide insurance on the private market for Kentuckians who were otherwise turned down by insurance companies due to their pre-existing condition. The program operated from 2001 until the end of last year, when it was rendered moot by the ACA. However, Kentucky Access was not very popular, as it was still too expensive for people to buy insurance. In 2013, only 3,988 Kentuckians gained coverage through the program — which did not provide the same consumer protections under the ACA — with the average basic premium for an individual being $680 a month, and the most popular plan with a pharmacy rider having a monthly premium of $1,118 for a male aged 64.

On the other hand, these same people — and hundreds of thousands more — can now gain coverage through Kynect, along with a subsidy to reduce their premium cost and new consumer protections that make their insurance more valuable if they have a medical emergency and cover the costs of basic check ups and screenings. What McConnell is essentially saying is that we should just go back to the way it was before, with vulnerable Kentuckians having to rely on expensive insurance through an unpopular program that did not provide the same protections they have now. Kynect? 413,000 Kentuckians signing up for insurance in the exchange shows you what a popular insurance pool looks like. And yes, 413,000 is greater than 4,000.

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On This Day

President Obama poses for a photo with a patron at Jerry’s Family Restaurant, a diner in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours MogoOrganic farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, and Morgan Hoenig, left, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama visits with patrons who were playing bridge in a backroom at Jerry’s Family Restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs children of Executive Office employees at the White House’s annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day, April 27, 2011

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn of the White House as they depart for Chicago to film a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show, April 27, 2011

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Marian Robinson walk with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley from Air Force One to Marine One at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., April 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat with Oprah Winfrey during a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show, April 27, 2011, at Harpo Studios in Chicago

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn before boarding Marine One at the White House April 27, 2012

President Obama and wife Michelle share a moment while meeting with military families at the headquarters for the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Georgia to sign changes in the GI Bill, April 27, 2012

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President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, DC on April 27, 2013

Conan O’Brien and First Lady Michelle Obama

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27
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Terrell Anderson Jr, 3, of Detroit, a relative of Rosa Parks, with President Obama after the unveiling of a statue in her honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2013

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:0: First Lady Michelle Obama unveils proposal for major changes to food labeling rules

2:0: President Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative; State Dining Room

3:25: Delivers remarks on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative

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Jonathan Easley: Enroll America Adds Muscle To O-Care Push

An ObamaCare enrollment group with close ties to the White House is launching a final, coordinated push to sign people up for health insurance ahead of the March 31 deadline. A spokesman for Enroll America told The Hill the prominent nonprofit had grown its pool of volunteers to nearly 20,000, increased its field reach by 35 percent, hired more than 70 new employees since January, and increased its digital advertising budget from $5 million to $7 million for 2014. The group’s “Countdown to Get Covered” will include a bus tour through Texas and Ohio, with stops at events popular with the young, like the SXSW music festival, and more than 3,000 events assisting people with in-person enrollment.

“All of the work that our dedicated staff, volunteers, and partner organizations have done over the past five months has positioned us for success in this critical final stretch,” said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America. “Thanks to the data we’ve collected, we know what works, and thanks to the huge coalition we have built, we’re ready to leave no stone unturned as we work right up to the deadline.” Enroll America is also working with the Ad Council on multimedia public service announcements for the Web, television, radio and print. In addition, the group will work with more than 2,200 partner organizations, including Planned Parenthood, MomsRising, Protect Your Care, Organizing for Action and National Congress for Black Women, and with groups participating in events like the National Youth Enrollment Day and Latino Enrollment Summits.

More here

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Yahoo: Obama Embraces A Lifelong Cause: Helping Minority Boys Succeed

On Father’s Day last June, President Barack Obama welcomed 14 teenagers sporting black-and-white T-shirts that read “BAM” into the Oval Office. The letters stood not for the nickname occasionally slapped on the president by big-city tabloids, but for “Becoming a Man,” a program run by a Chicago nonprofit working with at-risk youth in the public schools. The president had met the group of young black men once before, when he dropped by one of BAM’s hourlong group discussion sessions at Hyde Park Academy High School last February. He’d pulled up a chair and sat in the boys’ circle that day, talking with them so long about their lives his aides worried he would blow up his carefully planned schedule during his visit to the city.

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As the teens gathered around the president, one handed him a green and gold Father’s Day card, which all the boys had signed. They had gone out and purchased it the day before, unbeknown to their counselor, Marshaun Bacon, who traveled with them to the White House. “I never signed a Father’s Day card before,” the young man explained as the president opened the card. “I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card, either,” Obama replied, according to an aide, improbably closing the distance between the Chicago teens and the American president. It was an intimate, private moment that moved him.

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The Obama administration’s most ambitious and high profile effort to tackle the systemic problems facing young men of color is rooted in a series of White House conversations led by Obama in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting two years ago. They continued and gathered momentum — including with first lady Michelle Obama — after the random shooting of another teen who lived just a mile from the Obamas’ Chicago home. After his re-election, those discussions began to shape a more serious policy debate as Obama quietly began to bond with the Chicago youngsters. But what started as a second-term presidential bid to confront a vexing social crisis may be turning into a lifelong cause.

More here

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Peter Schroeder: CFPB Sues For-Profit School System For Predatory Lending

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching a lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest for-profit college programs. The watchdog announced Wednesday it was suing ITT Educational Services for predatory lending practices, pushing prospective students into costly loans and misleading them about future job prospects. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said the suit should serve as “a warning to the for-profit college industry that we will be vigilant about protecting students against predatory lending practices.”

In a U.S. District Court, the regulator sued the Indiana-based company and charged that the company pushed students into predatory loans without properly explaining what they were signing up for. The CFPB said some students did not even realize they had taken out the loans until they received calls from collection agencies. The CFPB also claimed that ITT credits did not transfer to many other schools. That meant that the company would threaten expulsion and the loss of money already spent on a first year to “coerce” students into taking out more loans.

More here

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USA Today: Chokwe Lumumba, Activist And Jackson Mayor, Dies At 66

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a longtime civil rights activist, died Tuesday afternoon at a hospital after experiencing chest pains. He was 66. His chief of staff choked up as she announced the news. “It is with heavy heart that we inform you that our beloved brother, human rights activist and mayor of the great city passed away this afternoon,” Safiya Omari said at a news conference Tuesday evening. “We ask that you pray for his children and family, his friends and for this great city of ours.” The national civil rights community took note when Lumumba became mayor last year of Mississippi’s capital city — a place that had seen its share of violence during the civil rights movement. Lumumba, a black nationalist, had worked with mainstream and leftist figures in the civil rights world.

The native of Detroit was born Edwin Taliaferro and graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. He renamed himself after Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader, and the Chokwe, an Angolan tribe. Lumumba’s activism began early. On the day after Martin Luther King Jr. died, he took part in a student takeover of a campus building at Western Michigan University, where he was a student. He and others were demanding more black educators and scholarships for black students. He also pushed for more black studies programs at colleges and universities in the Midwest. He worked with Julian Bond and Dick Gregory as a leader with the Republic of New Afrika, a social movement that proposed an independent black country in the southeastern United States. He also was a target of the FBI’s counterintelligence operation.

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Steve Benen: Court Rejects Texas’ Ban On Marriage Equality

Opponents of marriage equality have been on a losing streak that’s nothing short of brutal. A federal court struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage two weeks ago, which came on the heels of similar rulings in Kentucky,Oklahoma, and Utah. But today, the trend reached the largest of the nation’s ruby-red states. A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deprives some citizens of due process and equal protection under the law by stigmatizing their relationships and treating them differently from opposite-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings as having trumped Texas’ moves to ban gay marriage. “Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” the judge wrote. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” Does this mean marriage equality has come to Texas? Not quite yet. Garcia concluded that the state ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, but existing Texas law will remain in place as the appeals process gets underway.

More here

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Joy-Ann Reid: Are The Unarmed Unequal Under Stand Your Ground?

In the wake of the verdict in the case of Michael Dunn, convicted of three counts of second-degree attempted murder and of firing 10 shots at a car containing four teenagers, state Rep. Alan Williams underlined the need to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. One of the teenagers was Jordan Davis, who was killed by Dunn. Williams said recent cases of black teenagers shot to death by strangers in the state “have renewed the argument that this injustice in our laws makes ordinary citizens feel empowered to shoot first and ask questions later; boosting murder rates and justifiable homicides and putting individuals that people too often presumed to be a threat in particular peril.”

Indeed, a January 2013 study by Texas A&M researcher Mark Hoekstra found that homicide rates have increased by 7 percent to 9 percent in the 23 states that have Stand Your Ground-type laws versus those without them.  For young black men in particular, who are more often consigned to societal unworthiness by implicit racial bias with the damning label of “thug” — based on how they dress or wear their hair, or their choice of music — Stand Your Ground effectively demands a specific kind of submissiveness: If they want to live, submit to the invisible authority of virtually any civilian who might believe, like Michael Dunn, per his jailhouse letters, that “if more people would arm themselves and kill these [expletive] idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

More here

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Daniel Strauss: Davis ‘Pleased’ Texas Judge Ruled Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), the likely Democratic nominee for governor, is pleased with a federal judge’s ruling that declared the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. “She is pleased with the ruling because she believes that all Texans who love one another and are committed to spending their lives together should be allowed to marry,” press secretary Rebecca Acuña said in a statement to TPM on Wednesday afternoon.

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Tony Plohetski: Despite Negative Blood And Breath Tests, Man Arrested For DWI

To Austin attorney Daniel Betts, driving while intoxicated can sometimes be what he calls “an opinion crime.” Law enforcement must decide, sometimes within only a matter of minutes, whether a person is intoxicated and should go to jail — or be allowed to simply drive way. On the night Austin police arrested his client, they made the wrong choice, he says – his opinion bolstered by a voluntary breath and blood test showing Larry Davis wasn’t intoxicated when he was arrested Jan. 13, 2013. He tested 0.00 on a Breathalyzer – the lowest possible reading — and the blood test, which took months to be tested, came back negative.

“My reaction was just shock that it happened,” Betts said of the arrest, after watching a police dash cam video and reviewing the evidence. The arrest meant Davis spent a day in jail, and he was left with a criminal case looming over him for more than a year. Prosecutors last week dismissed the case against Davis. “I was arrested for nothing, really,” he said. “It was suspicion of drunk driving, which I wasn’t so I was surprised and hurt at the same time.” Davis is now working to have his arrest record wiped clean, a process that could take several more months.

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Brett Logiurato: Texas To Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling

Texas will appeal a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday that the state’s ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional, Attorney General Greg Abbott said. Here’s the full statement from Abbott, who is also the Republican frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial race: “This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides. And, as the lower court acknowledged today, it’s an issue that will ultimately be resolved by a higher court. Texas will begin that process by appealing today’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit.

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Lalita Clozel: U.S. Vows To Deny Visas To Those Accused Of Wartime Sexual Violence

Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced on Tuesday a ban against issuing U.S. visas to foreigners implicated in wartime sexual violence. “No one at the highest level of military or governance who has presided over, or engaged in, or knew of, or adopted these kinds of attacks is ever going to receive a visa to travel into the United States of America from this day forward,” Kerry said during talks with his British counterpart, William Hague.

Hague applauded the announcement. “The shattering of impunity … is the crucial ingredient so that people know they will not get away with it,” he said. Awareness of the use of sexual violence in conflicts grew after the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia, where more than 20,000 women and girls were reportedly raped, and the Rwandan genocide, during which the figure is believed to have reached into the hundreds of thousands.

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AP: Child Care Centers To Follow First Lady Guidelines

The nation’s second-largest for-profit child care provider is adopting Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and activity guidelines. The Learning Care Group, based in Novi, Mich., says it will limit TV and computer time for children, eliminate fried foods, serve fruits and-or vegetables at every meal, replace sugary drinks with water or plain, low-fat milk, and provide at least an hour of daily physical activity. It will also allow mothers to provide breast milk for their children and accommodate mothers who want to breast feed.

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The Learning Care Group says it provides early education and child care services to more than 100,000 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 13 years at its 900 centers around the country. The centers operate under five brand names: Childtime Learning Centers, Tutor Time Child Care/Learning Centers, The Children’s Courtyard, Montessori Unlimited and La Petite Academy.  The first lady this week has been marking the fourth anniversary of “Let’s Move,” the initiative to combat childhood obesity that she launched in February 2010. The healthy eating and activity guidelines for child care centers, which were released in 2011, are part of that program. Some 13,000 child care centers nationwide are now following the rules, said Sam Kass, the executive director of “Let’s Move.”

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Daniel Arkin: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a hot-button measure that would have permitted businesses in the state to deny service to gay and lesbians for religious beliefs. At a news conference at the State Capitol Wednesday evening, Brewer said the bill “could result in unintended and negative consequences.” “I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve,” Brewer said.

Gay rights advocates gathered outside the Capitol broke out in loud cheers immediately after Brewer’s announcement. The controversial bill had sparked outcry from LGBT activists and drew vocal criticism from civic leaders, business interests and state economic groups. “Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We’re grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.”

More here

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Zachary Roth: Ohio Cuts Early Voting Method Favored By Blacks

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election. There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.

“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email. The news comes days after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed two GOP-backed bills that cut six more days from the early voting period, end same-day registration and make it harder to vote absentee. Together, the restrictions could significantly reduce minority turnout this fall and in 2016.

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Sy Mukherjee: Rand Paul Blocks Surgeon General Nominee For Saying Gun Violence Is A Public Health Threat

On Wednesday — two years to the day after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) placed a hold on President Barack Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, over Murthy’s view that gun violence represents a significant public health threat. “In his efforts to curtail Second Amendment rights, Dr. Murthy has continually referred to guns as a public health issue on par with heart disease and has diminished the role of mental health in gun violence,” wrote Paul in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But Paul is actually out of step with most physicians.

The idea that gun violence is a danger to public health is utterly uncontroversial among doctors’ groupsacademic institutions that focus on public health, and children’s safety advocates. Although Paul criticizes Murthy’s position that physicians and pediatricians should ask patients about the presence of guns in their households, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution in 2011officially opposing any law that bars doctors from having open conversations about gun safety and the risks of having firearms in a household with their patients. In fact, just yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines recommending that households with children who are diagnosed with depression should remove guns and ammunition from their homes entirely.

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Michael Hiltzik: The Simple Math That Tells You The New GOP Tax Plan Is A Scam

The long-awaited Republican tax reform plan was released today by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich). It’s being hailed as a breakthrough in putting real reform on the table, but also being instantly eulogized as dead-on-arrival in a Congress that wants no part of any tax reform, now or ever.  Still, it’s instructive to examine the Camp plan for a primer on the latest mathematical trickery aimed at making something that preserves, even enhances, tax benefits for the wealthy appear instead to be a tax increase for the wealthy. Nice try, Congressman Dave. Here’s the easiest calculation. Camp says he’s eliminating the preferential tax rate on capital gains, and taxing them the same as ordinary income. That would be a big philosophical change and a big tax hike on the rich, if it were true. It’s not true. Camp’s plan exempts 40% of capital gains (and investment dividends) from any taxation at all.

How does this work out in real numbers? The top marginal tax rate on married taxpayers today is 39.6% (couples with more than $457,600 income). The top capital gains rate is 20%. Camp wants to cut the top marginal rate to 35%. If you tax capital gains at 35%, but exempt 40% of them from any tax, your effective rate on all capital gains works out to (… wait for i t…) 21%. In other words, Camp is raising the standard cap gains rate by a single percentage point. But since he’s also cutting the top rate on all income by nearly five percentage points, rich taxpayers still come out ahead. Camp would make the job of the IRS harder. He would ease the registration process for C-4s, and allow them to keep almost all their donors secret not only from the public, but from the IRS too. This is really sleazy of him. It gives rich political campaign donors more of a shield from the law than they deserve, and much more than is healthy for the public interest. If there were a single reason to laugh this tax “reform” off the table, this would be it.

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BBC: Ukraine Interim Leaders Warn Of ‘Unpopular Steps’ Ahead

Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov and PM-designate Arseniy Yatsenyuk have warned of the need for “unpopular” steps to help restore the country’s economy and politics. Mr Yatsenyuk told the BBC the central challenge for the newly named government was to “stabilise” Ukraine. Ukrainian MPs are expected to vote later on the new cabinet line up. Meanwhile, the regional parliament and government headquarters in Crimea have been seized by armed men. The two buildings in the regional capital Simferopol were seized overnight by a group of at least 50 pro-Russian men who were preventing government workers from entering, regional Prime Minister Anatoliy Mohilyov told AFP news agency.

The Russian flag was seen flying over both buildings. Interim President Turchynov warned the crowds the new government would “have to pass unpopular decisions”. “The government will be criticised, treated like dirt. But they must fulfil their obligations and work to the bone for the sake of Ukraine.” He has promised to resign once the country is back on its feet. Acting government officials predict Ukraine needs $35bn (£21bn) in bailout loans to get through the next two years. On Wednesday, the US said it was considering offering Ukraine’s struggling economy – which faces default – loan guarantees of up to $1bn. Meanwhile, Mr Yanukovych has been put on the international wanted list.

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On This Day:

Before giving a policy speech on Iraq, President Obama places his hand on his heart as the national anthem is played backstage at the Field House in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama attends a Washington Wizards vs Chicago Bulls basketball game at the Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama holds conference call from the Situation Room of the White House concerning the earthquake in Chile, Feb. 27, 2010. Pictured are, left to right, Tom Donilon, deputy national security advisor, Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID, and Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff. Other Cabinet officials joined the meeting by phone (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden, react while watching Sasha Obama and Maisy Biden, the Vice President’s granddaughter, play in a basketball game in Chevy Chase, Md., Feb. 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and Vice President Biden greet Susannah Flanagan, daughter of Frank Buckles, at Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Chapel in Arlington, Va., March 15, 2011. Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, passed away on Feb. 27, 2011, at his West Virginia home. He was 110. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama listen as Gladys Knight performs during the Governors Dinner in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with former Chief of Protocol Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, left, and guests in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2012. The President signed a presidential commendation in honor of Roosevelt’s government service (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk outside the State Dining Room before addressing the National Governors Association annual meeting at the White House, Feb. 27, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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President Barack Obama talks with senior advisors following a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2013. Standing, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy; Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer; Mark Childress, Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning; Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Legislative Affairs; Danielle Gray, Cabinet Secretary; Press Secretary Jay Carney; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets veterans of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama at a “Let’s Move!” event in Clinton, Miss. with Rachael Ray, February 27, 2013

President Obama at the unveiling of a statue in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol, February 27, 2013

05
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets a young visitor in the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

10:45: President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

11:30: Meets with senior advisors

1:45: Meets with Democratic Senators at the Senate Democratic Issues Conference; Washington Nationals Park

4:0: Meets with Treasury Secretary Lew

4:45: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry

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Michael Hiltzik: Why The New CBO Report On Obamacare Is Good News

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest report on the Affordable Care Act, and here are a few bottom lines:

— The ACA is cheaper than it expected.

— It will “markedly increase” the number of Americans with health insurance.

— The risk-adjustment provisions, which Congressional Republicans want to overturn as a “bailout” of the insurance industry, will actually turn a profit to the U.S. Treasury.

…. The ACA will increase the number of Americans with health insurance by 13 million this year, 20 million next year, and 25 million a year from then through 2024. Some 80% of those enrollees will be receiving federal subsidies to keep their coverage affordable.

There will be fewer uninsured people living in the United States, and most of those with individual coverage will be getting help to pay for it. Is there another other conclusion to draw from those statistics than the Affordable Care Act is working?

Full article here

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Washington Post: The media’s massive revisions on CBO-Obamacare story

The Post’s Glenn Kessler today published a fact-checking post breaking some news: No, he wrote, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) never, ever reported that Obamacare would somehow or other kill more than 2 million U.S. jobs.

Okay, to say that Kessler broke this news is a rhetorical exaggeration to highlight the point that many-o-many media outlets misconstrued the CBO findings. For a while this morning, the Internet was hopping with job-killing hype, when in fact the truth was vastly different. Obamacare’s impact, the CBO concluded, would lessen the supply of labor by encouraging certain folks not to work: “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked. . . .”

For someone approaching retirement, notes Kessler, Obamacare could well mean that they needn’t hold onto a bad job just to keep health insurance. That’s a far different dynamic from job-killing.

More here

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Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Steve Benen: CBO Delivers Welcome News To Obamacare Backers

If Republican press releases and reports from conservative and major media outlets are any indication, the Congressional Budget Office’s findings on the Affordable Care Act are simply brutal. National Review, which probably published its report before actually looking at the CBO’s findings, ran this headline: “The CBO Just Nuked Obamacare.”

As we discussed earlier, the coverage has been profoundly misleading. Despite what Americans are being told, the CBO did not find that the health care reform law would cost the nation over 2 million jobs. What it actually said is that the law will empower more than 2 million Americans to leave the workforce if they want to, no longer feeling forced to stay at a job in order to have benefits for them and their family.

Why “Obamacare” critics consider this a bad thing remains unclear….

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ThinkProgress: Obamacare Finally Gives Workers The Freedom Conservatives Demanded

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office projected that The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.3 million in 2021, leading critics to seize on the claim as evidence that the health care law is undermining job growth.

But that’s not what the CBO actually said. In fact, CBO economists write that “[t]he estimated reduction [in labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.” Americans won’t be losing their jobs, but people who are only working to maintain access to their employer sponsored health insurance plans will be able to leave the workforce or work fewer hours because they can obtain coverage elsewhere. That’s a goal that prominent Republicans, conservative think tanks and policy analysts have supported for years…..

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National Memo: Obamacare — The Greatest Pro-Life Victory Ever  

A new report finds that between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate hit its lowest point since 1973, when Roe v. Wade declared access to the procedure a Constitutional right.

The rate fell 13 percent to 16.9 per 1,000 women in 2011, down from its peak of 29.3 per 1,000 in 1981.

While conservatives want to claim credit for the decline with onerous restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, the availability of contraception and family planning deserve most of the credit, according to the Guttmacher Institute’s Rachel Jones, the lead author of the study.

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Yahoo: New Report: Budget Deficit To Drop To $514B

A new report released Tuesday says the government’s budget deficit is set to fall to $514 billion for the current year, down substantially from last year and the lowest by far since President Barack Obama took office five years ago. The Congressional Budget Office report credits higher tax revenues from the rebounding economy and sharp curbs on agency spending as the chief reason for the deficit’s short-term decline.

Last year’s deficit registered $680 billion. Obama inherited an economy in crisis and first-ever deficits exceeding $1 trillion. The 2009 deficit, swelled by the costs of the Wall Street bailout, hit a record $1.4 trillion, while the deficits of 2010 and 2011 both registered $1.3 trillion. The report predicted the economy will continue to rebound this year and grow at a 3.1 percent rate and by 3.4 percent next year. It foresees the jobless rate holding steady at 6.8 percent this year; the most recent nationwide unemployment rate registered 6.7 percent.

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Tal Kopan: Emmitt Smith Gives Wendy Davis Committee $10K

Team Wendy just landed an all-star running back. Former Dallas Cowboys running back and NFL MVP Emmitt Smith donated $10,000 to the committee backing Wendy Davis’s campaign for Texas governor last month. According to campaign filings, the CEO of EJSmith Enterprises donated the money on Jan. 8 to Texas Victory Committee, a joint effort from Wendy Davis for Governor and Battleground Texas, a group that supports Democrats in the state.

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Jonathan Chait: ‘Obamacare Bailout’ Does Not Exist, Confirms Government; House Republicans Demand Its Repeal Anyway

As of yesterday, House Republicans were torn, Sophie’s Choice-style, over what to demand in return for lifting the debt ceiling to accommodate the budget they passed. (Caveat: I’ve never seen Sophie’s Choice; I assume it’s a movie about a bungling kidnapper who has to choose what ransom she should demand.) One option was the Keystone XL pipeline. The other was the risk corridor provision in Obamacare, which they falsely call a “bailout.”

Here’s what happened next. First, the Congressional Budget Office released its annual budget report, and, among other things, it utterly annihilated the premise that there is any such thing as an “Obamacare bailout.” Having seen their imaginary claim conclusively debunked, Republicans are now leaning toward demanding its repeal anyway…

…. Today’s report projects that the bungled launch will mean enrollment in the exchanges will collapse all the way from seven million people to … six million people. Now, the number of people in the plan isn’t the only or best measure of its success, but it is a measure critics have seized upon. The existence of the nefarious Obamacare Bailout was a second reason – as the House Republican hearing asks, why the need for a bailout, if not to save a doomed law? There’s no reason why the lack of an Obamacare bailout should prevent conservatives from feeling anger at it anyway.

Full post here

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NYT: Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.

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Richard Sherman’s fantastic response

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DeadSpin: Now A Champion, Richard Sherman Deals With An Insult In The Best Way

Colin Kaepernick had an excellent method of dealing with people who hated him by favoriting their anger on Twitter. Seahawks corner Richard Sherman—now a Super Bowl champion—handled an angry Twitter person in a less passive but equally fantastic way.

More here

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Bryce Covert: GM’s First Female CEO Will Make Half Of What Her Predecessor Made

In December, General Motors (GM) made headlines for picking Mary Barra to replace Dan Akerson as its new CEO. That meant she would not only be the first woman at the helm of the carmaker, but any global carmaker. But while she may have shattered that glass ceiling, her pay is another story. Looking at the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elizabeth MacDonald notes that Barra will be paid $4.4 million in total compensation, which includes a base salary of $1.6 million.

Akerson, on the other hand, made an estimated $9 million, with a $1.7 million base salary and $7.3 million in stock. That means Barra will make less than half of what he made. In fact, Akerson will continue to make more as her, as GM will pay him $4.68 million as an outside senior adviser.Worse, Barra comes to the job with an outsized amount of previous experience. She’s been with the company since 1980 and was most recently serving as senior vice president of global product development. Akerson, on the other hand, came into the role without a background running a car company

More here

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Caitlin McNeal: WaPo Rebuts Its Own Columnist On Claim That Obamacare Is Killing Jobs

The Affordable Care Act is killing jobs, or not, depending on which portion of the Washington Post you read on Tuesday. The paper’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that Obamacare was “killing jobs and squelching growth” based on a newly released CBO report.

However, the report notes that the reduction in hours worked by Americans will “almost entirely” be due to workers’ choice to leave the work force — not because they lost their jobs or can’t find a full-time job. Glenn Kessler, the Post’s “Fact Checker,” followed up a few hours later giving the claim made by Rubin and other news organizations three Pinocchios out of four.

More here

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Josh Barro: The Buried Lede In The CBO Report: Obamacare Will Raise Wages

Obamacare will drive wages up. The price of labor, like any good or service, is determined by supply and demand. If producers of labor (workers) become less inclined to sell it, but consumers of labor (firms) are unchanged in their interest in buying, then the price of labor has to rise in order to bring the quantity supplied and the quantity demanded into line.  If (as CBO predicts) the decline in work is driven almost entirely by a decline in labor supply, the upshot will be very different. Employers will be left holding the bag economically. Workers will choose to work fewer hours; since firms won’t be any less interested in hiring, they’ll have to pay more per hour to get those workers in the door.

The positive wage effect should be concentrated among low-skill workers, who will face the greatest discouragement to work from Obamacare, and therefore will be able to command the greatest wage increases in order to keep working. More broadly, Obamacare alters the employer-employee relationship in a way that empowers employees. When an employee is dependent on his job not just for a wage but for health insurance, he is less able to threaten to leave if he doesn’t get a raise. Severing the work-insurance link strengthens the employee’s hand in bargaining — which is bad for employers and good for workers.

More here

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On This Day:

Sen. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama during a Super Tuesday primary campaign rally at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, February 5, 2008

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The President is applauded by House Democrats as he is introduced to speak at the House Democrats Issues Conference at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama wears a AF1 jacket on his first flight aboard Air Force One from Andrews Air Force Base to Newport News, Va., Feb. 5. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama shows Washington, D.C. area students, who were featured in the Washington Post, the valet button on his desk during their surprise visit to the Oval Office, Feb. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Feb. 5, 2011 – Pete Souza: “The two coaches for Sasha Obama’s basketball team couldn’t make it to one of her games, so the President and his then personal aide, Reggie Love, filled in as coaches for this game one Saturday. Here they along with Sasha’s teammates react during the game.”

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30
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama shakes hands with fans at the Georgetown-Duke college basketball game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

8:50AM: President Obama Departs White House

11:00AM:  President Obama arrives in Milwaukee

11:40AM: Tours General Electric’s Waukesha Gas Engines; Waukesha, Wisconsin

12:20PM: President Obama delivers remarks

2:55PM: President Obama departs Milwaukee

4:15 PM: President Obama arrives in Nashville

5:2oPM: President Obama delivers remarks at McGavock High School

6:05PM: Departs Nashville

7:45PM: President Obama arrives at the White House

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Bruce Japsen: Wellpoint Says ObamaCare Enrollment Ahead Of Expectations

Despite problems with the rollout of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Wellpoint (WLP) Inc., one of the nation’s largest insurers, said enrollment in health plans it operates under the new health law is ahead of expectations. Wellpoint, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country, said it expects to add more than one million new customers this year from across its private health plan business as well as insurance it offers to Americans covered by government programs like the expanded Medicaid insurance for the poor.

“We are encouraged by the sizable growth opportunities,” said Wellpoint chief executive Joe Swedish in an hour-long conference call with Wall Street analysts and investors. Of the half million new members Wellpoint said that have applied for coverage so far, more than 80 percent came through public exchanges and two-thirds of those were “subsidy eligible.” Under the law, those eligible can get subsidies of up to $5,000 to buy coverage on government run marketplaces known as exchanges.

More here

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Rebecca Shabad: More Uninsured Plan To Get Health Insurance Through Exchanges

More than half of people who lack health insurance in the United States say they plan to get it through a government exchange, a Gallup poll released Thursday found. According to the poll, 56 percent of the uninsured plan to get health insurance through ObamaCare.

Among the entire public, 53 percent also plan to get health insurance. Thirty-eight percent, on the other hand, say they’re willing to pay a tax penalty. Uninsured people who fail to enroll in ObamaCare by the end of March will have to face that fine.

More here

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NYT: Ukrainian President Goes On Sick Leave

Viktor F. Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine, went on sick leave on Thursday, leaving negotiated efforts to resolve the country’s political crisis uncompleted. A statement on the president’s website said Mr. Yanukovych is taking time off because of a respiratory illness and fever, and offered no indication of how long he was expected to be absent. The statement cited a deputy director of the presidential administration responsible for medical affairs. Mr. Yanukovych has faced pressure from Russia to take a harder line with protesters opposing his government rather than continue negotiations that could cede power to pro-Western members of the opposition.

Mr. Yanukovych went on sick leave before signing into law the repeal of harsh new rules against freedom of assembly and freedom of speech that was passed in Parliament with support from the pro-government party on Tuesday in a significant concession to the opposition but means little unless it is signed. Overnight Wednesday, two protesters were brought to a hospital with gunshot wounds and one died, Aleksei Davidenko, an opposition member of the Kiev City Council, told Ukrainian news websites. The death brings to four the number of protesters shot to death in recent days, all on Hrushevskovo Street, the site of a standoff with police.

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Carolyn Edgar: The Right’s Single-Mom Mistake: Why Their Latest Attacks Are Clueless And Doomed

Conservatives are now attempting to discredit Davis’s up-by-her-bootstraps story by questioning the period Davis spent as a single mother between her first and second marriages, and by casting her as a bad mother for supposedly putting her career before her children. These efforts rightly have been derided as sexist. But while the broadsides at Davis are rapidly approaching the point of parody, they also illustrate why Republicans have had such a hard time attracting unmarried women voters in recent elections. Given the GOP’s growing unpopularity with this group, attacking Davis’ single mother story looks like a losing strategy.

That Davis has made single motherhood such a prominent part of her story is significant because Davis doesn’t fit the conservative stereotype of a single mother. Conservatives often use “single mothers” as code for the more noxious term “welfare queen,” to evoke the specter of young, uneducated black women dependent on handouts from their “Uncle Sugar.” Davis puts a different face on single motherhood – a face that more closely resembles what single motherhood in America actually looks like.

Republicans maintain strong support among married white women, but unmarried women voters of all races and married women of color tend to vote Democrat. The reelection of President Obama in 2012 and the election of Terry McAuliffe as governor of Virginia in 2013 both were fueled by strong support among unmarried women and women of color, married and unmarried. Demonizing unmarried women and single mothers as sluts who want handouts may keep the GOP’s conservative base happy, but it is not a viable strategy for attracting them to the Republican Party.

More here

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The People’s View: Dear Professional Left, Attacking The NSA While Giving Corporate Big Data A Pass Is NOT Progressive

I want to focus on a rather dumbfounding notion that the Left keeps convincing itself is true: that it is more dangerous for the government to have metadata than for private companies to have it because only the government is empowered to strip one of one’s liberty. Not only is this patently and provably false in today’s interconnected world, the reverse is closer to the truth. Let me explain. The same liberals who argue that Google having your information and the NSA having your information isn’t the same because Google doesn’t have the ability to physically harm you will turn right around and and walk picket lines against coal mines owned by private corporations that do physically harm people.

And by people, we aren’t even talking about just their employees but communities. Liberals protest fracking because of the possibility of corporations harming people, not the government. Liberals stand up for Americans’ right to be able to sue corporations for physical harm they have caused – whether through medical malpractice, unsafe food or water, mistreatment of employees or even mistreatment of prisoners. That corporations cannot do physical harm to people or rob them of their liberties has always been a bad joke. Health insurance companies, banks, credit card companies, payday lenders all have (or until recently have had) the power to strip an individual of their dignity, freedom and even life with zero consequence.

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Reuters: Households, Trade Keep U.S. Economy Humming In Fourth Quarter

Robust household spending and strong exports kept the U.S. economy on solid ground in the fourth quarter, but stagnant wages could chip away some of the momentum in early 2014. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, in line with economists’ expectations. While that was a slowdown from the third-quarter’s brisk 4.1 percent pace, it was a far stronger performance than anticipated earlier in the quarter.

Earlier in the quarter many economists were expecting a growth pace below 2 percent given that an inventory surge accounted for much of the increase in the July-September period. Growth over the second half of the year come in at a 3.7 percent pace, up sharply from 1.8 percent in the first six months of the year. It was the biggest half-year increase since the second half of 2003.

More here

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Krista Daly: Affordable Care Act Makes Impact On Imperial County Residents, Hospitals And Clinics

A brain tumor, a pre-existing medical condition to insurance companies, had prevented El Centro resident Eric Villanueva from qualifying for health coverage. Thirty-three-year-old Villanueva had been without health insurance for about eight years until the Affordable Care Act took effect for him Jan. 1. “I’m so happy now that I have insurance,” he said. “I can finally look at my family and tell them everything will be all right. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay. That cloud is gone and there’s no more ‘what ifs.’ I’m covered.”

The Affordable Care Act, a plan for universal health care in the United States, is being implemented through Covered California for Imperial Valley residents and all Californians. The health plan, also known as Obamacare, has expanded coverage to people like Villanueva who were not previously eligible. This includes someone with a pre-existing medical condition, low-income individuals and families whose incomes are between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, plus an expansion of Medi-Cal- and Medicaid-eligible persons.

More here

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Pete Souza’s State of the Union photos:

President Obama reviews his speech one last time while waiting in a room at the U.S. Capitol prior to delivering the State of the Union address

President Obama waits with Sergeants at Arms and Members of Congress before entering the House Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address

President Obama signs copies of his speech for Members of Congress as he departs the House Chamber after he delivers the State of the Union address

President Obama kisses First Lady Michelle Obama following his State of the Union address

President Obama signs a copy of his speech for Rep. Frederica Wilson, (D-Fla.), in a hallway outside the House Chamber

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On This Day:

President Obama meets with labor leaders in the Blue Room of the White House following a signing of an Executive Order for a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, Jan. 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with labor leaders in the Blue Room of the White House and shows that his suit is made in the U.S.A., Jan. 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and Michelle Fenty, wife of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, leave Georgia Brown’s Restaurant in Northwest after having lunch, January 30, 2009

President Obama tries out different desk chairs in the Oval Office, Jan. 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama makes a phone call in the Oval Office, Jan. 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama welcomes Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) to the Oval Office, Jan. 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with former President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama surprises a tour group outside the Oval Office, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama shows NFL PLAY 60 Super Kid James Gale, 11, historical photos from previous administrations on display in the Booksellers Area during a NFL taping in the East Wing of the White House, Jan. 30, 2012. At right is James’ mother Lisa Gale. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Jan. 30, 2012 – Pete Souza: “This is one of those rare instances where my presence indirectly became a part of this reaction from those pictured in the photograph. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just accidentally dropped all of her briefing papers onto the Oval Office rug and she, the President and Vice President all reacted in a way that indicated that surely I wouldn’t get a photo of that to embarrass her.”

President Obama participates in an interview with YouTube and Google+ to discuss his State of the Union address, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets former Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in the Oval Office after they testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Jan. 30, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)




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