Kate Sheppard: Obama Issues Order To Prevent The Next West, Texas-Style Explosion
On Thursday, President Obama issued an executive order on chemical facility safety, three and a half months after the deadly ammonium nitrate explosion in a West, Texas fertilizer plant. The order outlines a number of new initiatives intended to modernize oversight of plants and strengthen the coordination of the various agencies responsible for safety at these facilities.
To take up those mandates, the order establishes a new Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, which will include the top officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security. It also directs federal, state, local, and tribal groups to figure out how to work together better on this issue.
Clare Kim: Meet The Academy of Motion Picture’s First African-American President
Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, becoming the first African-American and third woman to lead the organization that awards the Oscars every year.
Boone Isaacs, a marketing executive who currently heads CBI Enterprises, was voted in by the board of governors Tuesday night. She has consulted on films like The Artist, The King’s Speech and Precious. She has also served as executive vice president of worldwide publicity at Paramount Pictures and as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema. Earlier this year, she produced the 4th annual Governors Awards for the Academy.
President Barack Obama named a new, full-time commissioner of the IRS on Thursday, giving the besieged agency a permanent leader.
Obama nominated John Koskinen, a veteran of government service who helped oversee the restructuring of mortgage giant Freddie Mac in the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, to lead the IRS.
“John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform,” Obama said in a statement. “With decades of experience, in both the private and public sectors, John knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances.”
Joseph Diebold: Texas Republicans Want Wendy Davis To Pay For Special Session
After spending their first special session watching State Sen Wendy Davis’ (D) marathon filibuster and their second passing the abortion restrictions Davis was fighting against, the Texas legislature is back for a third session. Now, they need to handle the transportation measure that was the motivation for the original special session, before they got sidetracked with anti-abortion legislation.
Unfortunately for the state’s taxpayers, the extra time will cost them an additional $2.4 million. But one lawmaker has an idea for who should foot part of that bill: Davis herself. State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he thinks Davis should be on the hook for the cost of the extra lawmaking sessions.
Davis shrugged off the criticism, noting that Republican Gov. Rick Perry is the one who decides to add special sessions. “It’s unfortunate that the leadership in power squandered taxpayer dollars pursuing partisan politics before Texas priorities and forced an unnecessary special session,” she said.
President Obama talks with Coach Geno Auriemma in the Blue Room of the White House prior to an event to honor the NCAA Champion University of Connecticut Huskies and their 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, July 31 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern):
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:15: President Obama meets with a group of bipartisan members of Congress
3:45: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of the Republic of Yemen
5:55: Hosts a reception for the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
Jason Linkins: What If Ron Fournier Can’t Read (great response to Fournier’s BS)
Suffice it to say, Ron Fournier is wrong and I am right. Also, Greg Sargent is right,Brendan Nyhan is right, John Sides is right, Jonathan Bernstein is right, and historian George Edwards is right. If you are harboring a belief that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used “fireside chats” to overcome political opposition, you are not remembering that correctly. It’s very pretty to think that, but you’re wrong. And that will just as true tomorrow as it is today, full stop.
Fournier, in his most recent attempt, titled “What If Obama Can’t Lead?,” seems to be rather upset at being accused of supporting what Sargent calls the “Green Lantern Theory” of presidential power. He simply believes that “great presidents overcome great hurdles,” and that’s that. Once you’ve established “greatness,” then all hurdles are defeated. If hurdles remain, then you’ve not established “greatness,” no matter how many hurdles you’ve previously overcome. (And to be sure, Obama has overcome quite a number of those.) I’m afraid that Fournier doesn’t have much of a clue as to the process by which these obstacles are surmounted. And he’s opted to simply pant with extreme impatience, rather than undertaking an exploration as to how this process works. He proceeds from the premise that at one point in history, there were presidents, and at other points in history, stuff happened that was possibly attributable to those presidents. Rather than taking a searching inventory of the relevant history or undertaking an effort to understand the political science, he attributes the fact that “Presidents did stuff” to a hazy concept called “leadership” and proceeds to conclude that if a president isn’t successfully “doing some stuff” then that president “can’t lead.”
Republican IRS Hearing Fails To Deliver On Claims Of White House Link
Tara Culp-Ressler: The First State That Tried To Defund Planned Parenthood Is Officially Giving Up
After a legal battle that has stretched over the course of two years, the state of Indiana has agreed to put an end to its efforts to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana was the first state that attempted to target the national women’s health organization by blocking it from receiving state-level Medicaid dollars for the services it provides to low-income women.
In 2011, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) signed a law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding simply because it is an abortion provider — even though that money actually funds general health screenings for thousands of low-income women, not abortions. But those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Multiple courts have determined that states aren’t allowed to discriminate against qualified Medicaid providers simply because of their stance on abortion rights, saying that low-income women deserve the freedom to choose their own doctors.
The 44th president, like his 43 predecessors, believes that the United States should honor its sovereign debt, as part of maintaining the “full faith and credit of the United States.” He also believes that the policy on government spending first applied under George Washington and in force since then should still be the policy now: once Congress has voted programs or benefits into law, then the government is legally and morally obligated to carry out those programs, until and unless they are repealed.*
To which the other “side” to the dispute replies: Who cares! We don’t like you or your programs, and to prove it we’re willing to risk a default on the national debt. What’s going on now is more like the 1970s-era hijackers Brendan Koerner describes in his recent book, who would threaten to blow up the plane unless they got the ride to Cuba they wanted. Or, if you want a less violent analogy, it’s like me walking into a restaurant, ordering and enjoying a meal, and then when I finished just tearing up the check and saying that I was “digging in my heels” about whether I should pay.
Greg Sargent: Ostrich Punditry Refuses To reckon With Reality Of Today’s GOP (another fantastic rebuttal to Fournier’s BS)
Now that President Obama has proposed tax reform that would lower corporate tax rates and provide for new stimulus spending — which Republicans have flatly rejected — it has renewed the seemingly endless, intractable debate over the causes of gridlock and failure to compromise in Washington. There is no prominent commentator who is more determined to blame both sides for what is happening than Ron Fournier, so his latest explanation for what ails us is worth a response.
Advice such as this seems deliberately designed to be impossible to meet. Whatever Obama does, the pundit can simply respond with, “not enough; do more of it, or do it moreeffectively.” After all, Obama is already doing some of the things Fournier wants him to do: He is holding discussions with GOP lawmakers in hopes of enticing them to break away from the leadership/Tea Party alliance’s hostility to compromise on the budget, infrastructure spending, and other matters.
If anything, it’s punditry such as Fournier’s that constitutes a surrender of sorts. It’s not enough to claim Obama’s legacy will inevitably seen as a failure to overcome GOP intransigence (should that happen), because history isn’t fair. The question is, shouldthat be the case, and would blaming Obama for failing to overcome it be a reasonable and accurate assessment?