Archive for November 22nd, 2013

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Nov
13

Chat On, Night Owls

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Nov
13

Pure Gold

First Lady Michelle Obama by Alexei Hay for Ladies Home Journal Dec 2013/Jan 2014

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Nov
13

Obamacare enrollments soaring, hope on Iran, filibuster-Nuking… what a week

@petesouza: Pres Obama w John Kerry, Susan Rice and Phil Gordon in the Oval Office today

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Al Jazeera: Kerry Geneva-bound as Iran nuclear deal inches closer

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading for Geneva to join talks on Iran’s nuclear program, and several other foreign ministers are on their way as well, in an indication that ongoing negotiations between Tehran and six world powers may be closer to finalizing an interim agreement.

The State Department announced Kerry’s trip after diplomats in the Swiss city said a major sticking point in negotiations on an agreement – under which Tehran would curb its contested atomic activities – may have been overcome. Negotiators have been working since Wednesday to find language acceptable to Iran and its six negotiating partners.

Kerry will head to Geneva “with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

More here

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ThinkProgress: You Probably Didn’t Hear About The Most Important Health Care News This Week

On Wednesday, the new head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a bombshell report finding that U.S. health care spending since 2010 has increased by just 1.3 percent — the smallest cost growth over a three-year period in American history — while prices in the health care sector rose by 50-year lows, thanks in part to structural changes made by the Affordable Care Act. But most media outlets ignored that story, instead choosing to focus on ongoing glitches with the Healthcare.gov website.

According to a ThinkProgress analysis, English-language online and print media published about ten times as many pieces on the troubles with the Obamacare site than they did on the new health care spending report….

More here

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@Our4thEstate

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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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ThinkProgress: Vice President Biden Visits Immigration Activists On 11th Day Of Fast

On Friday morning, Vice President Joseph Biden stopped by the “Fast for Families” tent pitched on the National Mall to pray with faith leaders and immigration activists who are fasting as a way to pressure House Republicans to advance immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship. Three core fasters, Eliseo Medina, Cristian Avila, and Dae Joong Yoon, are going into their eleventh day of fasting — they will continue to fast until they are medically advised to stop. The movement has spread across the nation with numerous activists fasting in solidarity and then sometimes marching to the offices of elected officials.

Biden said to the fasters, “What you’re doing here is to bring attention to what’s morally right and attention to a community that is already American.” He also said, “We will win this. As my father always says, come hell or high water.”

More here

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More in the morning, chat away!

22
Nov
13

The Medal of Freedom Recipients

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See more here

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And the First Lady from today:

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Nov
13

Chat Away

22
Nov
13

The new meanness

One of the most popular shows on television is CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”. And I’ve often wondered at its popularity.

It is a very well-written and acted show, as far as it goes. But if you watch it for any length of time, you come away with a wretched taste in your mouth. It is, without a doubt, a show with characters who have no redeeming qualities. Everyone is gleefully mean to everyone else, reveling in cutting barbs and casual humiliation. Obviously, it’s a comedy painted in broad strokes, as sitcoms normally are. However, if you watch it on your local station in reruns before the prime time schedule comes on, you’ll be forgiven for wondering why anyone should give a damn about what happens to any of the show’s characters.

And yet, for more than a decade it has been one of the most popular shows on television. Before Charlie Sheen melted down, he was the highest paid actor on TV thanks to it. Millions of people tune in to watch a weekly display of dysfunction so severe that suspension of disbelief becomes increasingly difficult.

Obviously, you can’t judge an entire culture by the popularity of one television show. But here is another data point. Bloomberg has an article helpfully entitled “Obamacare Shows How Americans Are Becoming Jerks“. From the piece:

What’s clear is that the shifting views on health care predate the Affordable Care Act. The number of Americans who think health care is the government’s responsibility hovered around two-thirds for the first half of the 2000s, peaking at 69 percent in 2006. Then those numbers started falling, hitting 50 percent in 2010 and 42 percent this year.

The shrinkage of American generosity during that period wasn’t just about health care. The onset of the recession corresponded with a change in public opinion on a range of issues, and in most cases the effect was to make Americans less caring about others.

Starting in 2007, the portion of Americans who said the government should guarantee every person enough to eat and a place to sleep started falling, from 69 percent to 59 percent last year. People who said the government should help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt, fell from 54 percent to 43 percent over the same period.

Continue reading ‘The new meanness’

22
Nov
13

A Tweet or Two

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More later, chat away!

22
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: Members of the audience cheer as President Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

12:45: VP Biden meets with Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc of Turkey at the White House

1:45: President Obama commemorates the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination with an event devoted to an institution created by JFK: The Peace Corps. He will participate in a video conference with Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania

2:15: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) National Arts and Humanities Youth Program

2:40: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with King Mohammed VI of Morocco

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President Obama:

“A half century ago, America mourned the loss of an extraordinary public servant.

“With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness. Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.

“In his 3 years as President of the United States, John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age.

“His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home.

“During his final year in office, he proposed a civil rights bill that called for an end to segregation in America. And recognizing women’s basic right to earn a living equal to their efforts, he signed the Equal Pay Act into law.

“While President Kennedy’s life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on in the generations he inspired — volunteers who serve as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe, scientists and engineers who reach for new heights in the face of impossible odds, innovators who set their sights on the new frontiers of our time.

“Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward. Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22, 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy.”

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NYT Editorial: Democracy Returns to the Senate

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

… Given the extreme degree of Republican obstruction during the Obama administration, the Democrats had little choice but to change the filibuster rule. As Mr. Reid noted on the floor, half of all filibusters waged against nominations in Senate history have occurred since Mr. Obama was elected….

…. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.

Full editorial here

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ThinkProgress: Why Senate Democrats Had To Invoke The ‘Nuclear Option’

Well, it finally happened.

After five years of filibusters, obstruction, lengthy waits for confirmation and arguments over whether the party that failed to win either the White House or the Senate nonetheless has the power to hold top government jobs open for as long as Barack Obama is president, Senate Democrats finally decided that enough is enough. On Thursday, nearly every member of the Democratic caucus invoked a procedural maneuver that will allow the Senate to confirm several blocked nominees by a majority vote. The era of minority rule is over, at least where it comes to almost every confirmation…..

More here

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Greg Sargent: For liberals, a long crusade finally pays off in reform

In 2007, when Jeff Merkley was considering a run for the Senate from Oregon, he met privately with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. Merkley suggested to the two Dem leaders that the Senate needed to reform the filibuster — having watched both parties, including Dems in 2005, abuse it so badly that it was rendering the Upper Chamber dysfunctional.

…. That meeting may have been the genesis of a long tale that culminated this afternoon, six years later, when Reid finally went nuclear and changed the rules by simple majority — after a years-long campaign in which Merkley and other Senate liberals were instrumental.

…. Dem leaders had to be pushed to this point, but from the point of view of liberals, they did the right thing. “The filibuster has been used to wage continuous warfare on the presidency,” Merkley said. “The Senate said today that’s not acceptable. A huge thank you to the leadership team.”

Full post here

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Greatest opening paragraph ever?

Charles Pierce: And Boom Goes The Plutonium

I have no doubt that the civility crowd will scream bloody murder now that Harry Reid has dropped the big one in the Senate. They may need the Jaws of Life to pry Ruth Marcus off the fainting couch. As I said before. I was nervous about this prospect for years, but recently passed over the International Fk You Line. The country has a right to be governed by the president and the philosophy for which the country voted. Vandalism is not debate. It is not governing. It is long past time for Barack Obama actually to be allowed to be president.

More here

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Milt Shook: Once Again, Progressives Should be Thanking Harry Reid

What every progressive needs to learn is that political things don’t just happen because someone wants them to. They happen when a majority is ready to vote to make them happen.

Back in January, as many of you will recall, I took a lot of heat because I stood up for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his valiant attempt to change filibuster rules. The man worked his ass off to make changes, and he actually got quite a few of them, despite the fact that he didn’t have 51 votes to make them happen. He was able to change the rules, so that Senators could no longer put a blind hold on a nomination – they had to make themselves known – and he also got an agreement from Republicans to stop holding up nominations. This was a crucial deal. He did all of this, despite the fact that he had between 45 and 47 votes, because he was able to convince the Republican leadership that he had 51, which scared them silly.

…. Progressives underestimate Harry Reid at our peril. This guy is tougher than he looks.

Full post here

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Reuters: Nearly 80,000 Californians sign up for Obamacare plans

Nearly 80,000 Californians have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the state’s exchange marketplace created under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Covered California exchange said on Thursday.

The latest data, which charts enrollment from the October 1 start through November 19, means that about 20,000 more people signed up for plans since the exchange’s initial update on its enrollment released November 13.

California, which is the most populous U.S. state and embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, is considered a crucial region for the administration’s enrollment effort. The state is one of 14 operating their own exchanges, as opposed to relying on the federal government.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Americans With Individual Plans Qualify For Obamacare Subsidies

Over 70 percent of Americans under age 65 who buy insurance through the individual market will either qualify for Obamacare subsidies or the health law’s expansion of Medicaid in the states that accept it, according to a new study by Families USA.

…. Researchers also noted that ….“[U]nder the ACA, only 0.6 percent of Americans under age 65 will be at risk of losing their current individual market plan and will not be income-eligible for financial assistance that will make their new insurance plan more affordable. Even among this 0.6 percent, some have insurers who will not or cannot cancel their plans. Others will decide that they are better off with higher-value plans in the new insurance marketplaces.”

More here

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Texas Observer: Texas’ Other Death Penalty

A Galveston medical student describes life and death in the so-called safety net.

… There’s a popular myth that the uninsured — in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us — can always get medical care through emergency rooms … The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.

…. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, could have been a huge relief. However, Gov. Rick Perry rejected billions of dollars in federal funding to expand Medicaid, funding that should have brought access to more than a million Texans, including many St. Vincent’s patients.

Perry’s refusal is catastrophic health policy. For patients, it means that seeking medical care will still require risking bankruptcy, and may lead nowhere. For doctors, the message was not only that our patients’ lives don’t matter, but also that medicine—our old profession, so full of people who genuinely want to help others—will continue to be part of the economic machine that entrenches poverty. When the poor seek our help, they often wind up with crippling debt.

More here

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On This Day:

First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a “Let’s Move!” Salad Bars to Schools launch event at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Fla., Nov. 22, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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President Barack Obama shares a lighter moment during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Nov. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama at Manchester High School Central, N.H., Nov 22, 2011

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President Obama jokes with players from the Oregon State University basketball team in the Oval Office on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012. The team’s head coach is Craig Robinson, brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
(Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama visits with the Corkery family during a stop at Julien’s Corner Kitchen in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

22
Nov
13

Early Bird Chat

On a tour of the State Floor of the White House, President Obama looks at a portrait of John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler, January 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Morning everyone.




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