Archive for the 'Articles' Category

25
Jul
16

President Obama Gives A Progress Report On ObamaCare

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Barack Obama, JD: United States Health Care Reform. Progress To Date And Next Steps

Importance The Affordable Care Act is the most important health care legislation enacted in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The law implemented comprehensive reforms designed to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health care. Objectives To review the factors influencing the decision to pursue health reform, summarize evidence on the effects of the law to date, recommend actions that could improve the health care system, and identify general lessons for public policy from the Affordable Care Act. Evidence Analysis of publicly available data, data obtained from government agencies, and published research findings. The period examined extends from 1963 to early 2016. Findings The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress toward solving long-standing challenges facing the US health care system related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, primarily because of the law’s reforms. Research has documented accompanying improvements in access to care (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults unable to afford care of 5.5 percentage points), financial security (for example, an estimated reduction in debts sent to collection of $600-$1000 per person gaining Medicaid coverage),

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and health (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults reporting fair or poor health of 3.4 percentage points). The law has also begun the process of transforming health care payment systems, with an estimated 30% of traditional Medicare payments now flowing through alternative payment models like bundled payments or accountable care organizations. These and related reforms have contributed to a sustained period of slow growth in per-enrollee health care spending and improvements in health care quality. Despite this progress, major opportunities to improve the health care system remain. Conclusions and Relevance Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs. Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

More here

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Good summary in the NYT

15
Jul
16

The President’s Thinking Hours

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Michael D. Shear: Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone

“Are you up?” The emails arrive late, often after 1 a.m., tapped out on a secure BlackBerry from an email address known only to a few. The weary recipients know that once again, the boss has not yet gone to bed. The late-night interruptions from President Obama might be sharply worded questions about memos he has read. Sometimes they are taunts because the recipient’s sports team just lost. Last month it was a 12:30 a.m. email to Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, and Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, telling them he had finished reworking a speechwriter’s draft of presidential remarks for later that morning. Mr. Obama had spent three hours scrawling in longhand on a yellow legal pad an angry condemnation of Donald J. Trump’s response to the attack in Orlando, Fla., and told his aides they could pick up his rewrite at the White House usher’s office when they came in for work. Mr. Obama calls himself a “night guy,” and as president, he has come to consider the long, solitary hours after dark as essential as his time in the Oval Office.

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He works on speeches. He reads the stack of briefing papers delivered at 8 p.m. by the National Security Council staff secretary. He reads 10 letters from Americans chosen each day by his staff. “He is thoroughly predictable in having gone through every piece of paper that he gets,” said Tom Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser from 2010 to 2013. “You’ll come in in the morning, it will be there: questions, notes, decisions.”  One night last June, Cody Keenan, the president’s chief speechwriter, had just returned home from work at 9 p.m. and ordered pizza when he heard from the president: “Can you come back tonight?” Mr. Keenan met the president in the usher’s office on the first floor of the residence, where the two worked until nearly 11 p.m. on the president’s eulogy for nine African-Americans fatally shot during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Three months earlier, Mr. Keenan had had to return to the White House when the president summoned him — at midnight — to go over changes to a speech Mr. Obama was to deliver in Selma, Ala., on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when protesters were brutally beaten by the police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. “There’s something about the night,” Mr. Keenan said, reflecting on his boss’s use of the time. “It’s smaller. It lets you think.”

More here

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14
Jul
16

Children In Search Of Refuge

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Gazelle’s thoughts on the recent events

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Gazelle

Children In Search Of Refuge

As a child, a refugee child,
My Mama taught me Caution.
Run from the marauders of the streets,
Especially those carrying guns
Beyond their natural height.
Run from machete wielding persona.
Run from The Toothless Angered,
They’re mastered by the powers du jour.
Run for dear life.
If speed is of essence,
Drop your school books upon the dusty path,
Run!
Make it home,
To your Mama’s anxious arms.
Pray you do,
And live another hour

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As a child, an American child,
The ghosts of yonder history hovered.
Waiting their turn to fully manifest,
Yet again.

My Mama taught me,
Before I was double digits,
To be cautious out there.
The marauders, the ghosts, the egregious,
The Toothless Angered
Will menace my being.
Don’t run for dear life.
Learn to stay still

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There is nowhere to run.
Nowhere to stay still,
Except in shocked death.
No school books dropped on a dusty road,
They lay stained in unrequited blood along the school hallway.
Bullet strewn sidewalks splatter my paths.
The Toothless Angered
Are again mastered,
The daily Puppets of Avarice

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets children in audience of the obstacle course during the National Day of Play on the Ellipse outside the White House in Washington, DC Sept. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Sanctuary is a scarcity in my universe
While The Toothless Angered,
With ample, unjustified impunity,
Continue to menace my being.

Pray I make it home Today, and all Tomorrows,
To my Mama’s anxious arms,
So I can hug her.
And just once, of many more, say
I love you Always

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13
Jul
16

Ieshia Evans On The Bayou

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Jacqueline OBoomer

Ieshia Evans on the Bayou

The ones who were afraid in Baton Rouge
Were the ones carrying the “red sticks”
Not the warrior queen who visited from the north
On behalf of her five-year old son
So she might invest in
His having a better life.

A better life
Than the sons of other mothers
She had gone there to mourn with
And stand proudly for.

She repelled the “red sticks”
Who were few in number
But seemed to grow into
A wall before her
As she stood her ground
Quietly in front of them.

She was a nurse who cared for others
Who said she was now “a vessel”
Doing God’s work.

The young queen arrived in regal garb
Regal in that it adorned her presence
Regal in that it could almost be said
To adorn ours.
She dressed for the moment
So that – standing in the hot sun
Of righteousness and pride –
She could feel as though
She were floating
In God’s air
In Baton Rouge.

The “red sticks” took her away
Took her away from her son
Took her away from her duties
Took her away from the cameras
And the tributes.

But the imprint she left
In the hearts and minds and souls
Of all of us
Remains
As though someone had gone out
And built a statue
Of a modern-day goddess
In every town in America.

The young queen
In the flowing garb
With diamonds in her closed eyes
With grief in her open heart
Sharing the secret:
How to be a woman
How to be a mother
How to be the vessel
How to show us the way
To Baton Rouge.

She stood silently on the gravel
She never spoke
But when we close our eyes
We can almost hear her say
“Ain’t I a woman?”
So that someday her son may say
“I am a man.”

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26
Jun
16

The Intimacy Of A Hug

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Julie Hirschfeld Davis: Long And Genuine’ Hugs: Shooting Victims’ Relatives Recall Obama’s Empathy

The wrenching ritual has become all too familiar to President Obama. His armored limousine deposits him at a nondescript building big enough to hold a large number of families whose loved ones have died in a mass shooting somewhere in America. Away from the news cameras that normally track his every interaction, he enters rooms thick with grief and the hushed voices of people in shock. He grasps for words of sympathy, comfort and condolence and offers long, tight embraces that the mourners will remember far more vividly than his words. Mr. Obama will travel to Orlando, Fla., on Thursday for the latest round of mass consoling, four days after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 at a gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. “He hugged each one of us individually — and I mean hug, so that I was able to smell his cologne,” said Sharon Risher, 57, who lost her mother,

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Ethel Lance, and two cousins in the shooting in Charleston, S.C., last year, and met privately with Mr. Obama the next week. “It was not a little pat on the back. The intimacy of that hug is what I’ll always remember.”  Roxanna Green — whose 9-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was one of six people killed in a 2011 shooting in a supermarket parking lot in Tuscon, Ariz., where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding an event — said she had campaigned for Mr. Obama with her daughter and mother and had often dreamed of meeting him. “But you never want to receive a visit like that from anybody,” Ms. Green, 50, said in an interview. “Their hugs were just long and genuine, like something you receive from a family member,” she said of Mr. and Mrs. Obama. “He said she was a beautiful girl, and he’s so sorry, and it was just a horrible loss and his girls are about the same age,” she recalled. “They were both very, very emotional. It was like it happened to someone in their family.”

More here

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U.S. President Barack Obama sheds a tear while delivering a statement on steps the administration is taking to reduce gun violence in the East Room of the White House in Washington January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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19
Jun
16

Happy Father’s Day: Dad-In-Chief

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Joshua Kendall: Obama’s Most Unusual Legacy? Being A Good Dad

Shortly before the 2004 Illinois Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, which he was to win by a landslide, Barack Obama was riding high. After about a year of nonstop campaigning, the Illinois state senator had raised far more money than any of his rivals, and his path both to the nomination and to the floor of the U.S. Senate seemed assured. But his closest advisers sensed that the 42-year-old candidate and father of two — 5-year-old Malia and 2-year-old Sasha — was feeling a bit down and listless. As Valerie Jarrett later told biographer Richard Wolfe, she suggested that the candidate meet her for lunch at Chicago’s posh gym, the East Bank Club.

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“What’s wrong?” Obama asked “the principal,” as he referred to his chief aide. Jarrett replied, “Your heart isn’t in it. What’s wrong with you?” “I miss my girls,” Obama said as tears welled up. “I don’t want to be the kind of father I had.” But after composing himself, he added, “I’ll work it out. I’ll be okay.” This hands-on dad, who helped coach Sasha’s grammar school basketball team, puts a high premium on both connecting with and providing direction to his girls. At 6:30, Obama and his wife sit down with the girls for a family dinner without any outsiders. The evening meal, observed Obama’s former body-man Reggie Love, was treated “like a meeting in the Situation Room. There’s a hard stop before that dinner.” While aides sometimes call him back to work at 8:30 or 9, they rarely dare to go upstairs to bother him during the sacred dinner hour.

More here

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28
May
16

Date Night

US President Barack Obama arrives for dinner at Oyamel in Washington, DC on May 28, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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Darlene Superville: Obamas Take A Night Out At Mexican Restaurant In Washington

It’s date night for President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Obama is treating the first lady to a Mexican meal at the restaurant Oyamel in Washington’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.

The Obamas have dined several times at the establishment owned by celebrity chef and Obama supporter Jose Andres. Obama returned late Friday from a weeklong visit to Vietnam and Japan.

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US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for dinner at Oyamel in Washington, DC on May 28, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28: U.S. President Barack Obama walks into the restaurant Oyamel May 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama played golf earlier today as well after returning from a week long trip to Asia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 

27
May
16

Early Bird Chat: One Of A Kind Leader

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Anthony Bourdain: Six True Things About Dinner With Obama

The President is an Asiaphile. He spoke wistfully of his time in Indonesia and his memories of the smells and flavors of street food there. The reaction among regular people in Hanoi to the fact that the US President chose to eat Bun Cha was beyond all imagining. The effect was unbelievable. People were actually crying the next day, describing to me their shock and their pride, the reactions of their neighbors, to this completely unexpected choice of meal—and the venue. He was among the very few guests on my show who ever asked the camera crew if they got to eat too. And he made a point of taking a picture with all of them when we were done.

More here

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23
May
16

President Obama’s Bún chả Hương Liên Experience

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Whitney Filloon: President Obama Just Had Dinner With Anthony Bourdain

In case Barack Obama hadn’t already secured his place in history as the Coolest President, this should do it: Tonight, POTUS is dining with Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi. What will the dynamic duo’s dinner conversation entail, and more importantly, what will they feast upon? According to the Wall Street Journal’s White House correspondent Carol Lee, they’ll be eating at a restaurant called Bún chả Hương Liên. (Bún chả is a traditional dish hailing from Hanoi that consists of grilled pork served in a broth or dipping sauce, flanked by rice noodles and fresh herbs.)

According to a press release from CNN, scenes from the momentous dinner will appear on an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown to air during the show’s eighth season in September. With 241 days left in the White House, what other Cool Things will Obama accomplish? He’s already become the first president to brew beer in the White House, and impressed his hipster taste in coffee upon the Oval Office, which now uses Chemex brewers emblazoned with the presidential seal.

More here

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U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with a local resident as he leaves after having a dinner with Anthony Bourdain at the restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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Local residents react as U.S. President Barack Obama leaves after having a dinner with Anthony Bourdain at a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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11
May
16

‘The Face of American Fascism’

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Bill R

Half of Americans see “fascist undertones” in the Donald Trump campaign according to a Huffpost/YouGov poll released this week. I would go further and say that in this election, we are facing a choice for the first time in American history to vote for or against fascism assuming control of the U.S. presidency. Donald Trump is the face of American fascism. I don’t know if those polled know what fascism means, but as a student of political science and history, I know the meaning of the word in its common ideology and how fascist dictatorship has damaged our world historically. The common elements of fascism as an ideology have been these: appeal to authoritarian absolutism, violence as a means of assuming and maintaining power and order and eliminating or intimidating political opponents, racism as a means of scapegoating and targeting ethnic and religious minorities, misogynistic patriarchy as a means of subjugating and dominating the female population.

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In the case of Donald Trump they can be found in his behavior and his communications as a political candidate. From the point of joining the “birtherism” movement to the present, he has systematically attacked the legitimacy of the presidency of Barack Obama. He has dismissed the rule of national and international law if it gets in the way of his desire to institute torture or eliminate entire populations of civilians on the battlefield. He has been emphatic in his hatred of Latino immigrants as “rapists and murderers” who deserve only mass deportation. He has targeted all Muslims as enemies of America to be gotten rid of, eliminating any further entry into the U.S. He has called African Americans “lazy” and welcomed the support of overtly racist white supremacist leaders and organization. His central theme is “to make America great again,” suggesting that ethnic and religious minorities have betrayed and undermined America’s standing in the world.

More here

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