President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the situation in Turkey, July 15, 2016. Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Avril Haines, Deputy National Security Advisor, listen. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama holds the baby daughter of former staff members Darienne Page Rakestraw and London Rakestraw in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House, July 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Braeden Mannering, the 2013 Kids’ State Dinner winner from Delaware, after he introduced her at the Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
President Barack Obama greets audience members after he delivered remarks on the economy at the Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Ken Burns as part of an interview for a PBS documentary about Jackie Robinson, in the White House Library, July 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama greets Airman First Class Karen Mae Manalo with other citizenship candidates in the Blue Room prior to a naturalization ceremony for active duty military, military dependents, reservists and veterans at the White House, July 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New behind-the-scenes photos from July, now posted on Flickr: bit.ly/1nNCmAs
President Barack Obama greets a young girl after he delivered remarks on the economy at Cheesman Park in Denver, Colo., July 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama discusses Millennium Development Goals with students during a visit to Global Kids, Inc. in New York, N.Y., July 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
President Barack Obama jokes with Mattina Falco, 19-year-old Make-A-Wish recipient from Worchester, Mass., as she sits at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, July 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez pose for a selfie before the 85th Annual League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention and Exposition in New York, N.Y., July 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
Vice President Joe Biden talks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office, July 2, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets audience members after he delivers remarks on the economy at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, July 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets patrons at the Charcoal Pit restaurant in Wilmington, Del., July 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama joins the cast of Disney’s “The Lion King” onstage after their performance at the Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, July 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama greets patrons at Canter’s Delicatessen in Los Angeles, Calif., July 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets HUD staff following remarks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden share a laugh in the Oval Office July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unkowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day
President Barack Obama speaks during Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and President Barack Obama, stand as the National Anthem is played during a Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery
President Obama on Monday honored all the Americans who have given their lives for their country, from the Civil War of a century-and-a-half ago to the Afghanistan war that is wrapping up this year. In Memorial Day remarks delivered a day after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, Obama said the U.S. troops there “are coming home” from the conflict that began a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end,” Obama said during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. During his speech, Obama praised veterans from all the nation’s wars. “Everything that we hold precious in this country was made possible by Americans who gave their all,” Obama said.
"Let us never forget their service and always be worthy of the sacrifices made in our name." —President Obama #MemorialDay
The president delivered his Memorial Day speech just four hours after his return to the White House. During his Sunday trip to Afghanistan, Obama received a briefing from commanders at Bagram Air Force, spoke at a rally for the troops, and visited wounded warriors at the base hospital. Shortly after arriving back at the White House early Monday morning, Obama hosted a Memorial Day breakfast. Guests included senior members of the military leadership, as well as veterans’ and military families’ organizations. Obama then traveled to the Arlington cemetery, where he placed the traditional wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
President Obama at the NCAA basketball game between Oregon State and Howard University on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 … a day after he needed 12 stitches in his lip when he took an elbow during a game of basketball with friends and family at Fort McNair
Today (All Times Eastern):
1:20: President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey
2:35: Holds a bill signing
4:30: The First Family participates in a service event
FACT: More than 7.3 million Americans with Medicare have saved an average of $1,137 each on prescription drugs thanks to #Obamacare.
Political journalism is sometimes criticized, fairly, for its “pack” mentality. Major news organizations wait for the conventional wisdom to organically take shape, and then the players stick to their scripts, reinforcing an agreed upon consensus. In practically no time at all, there are certain political facts that “everyone knows” to be true.
But soon after, that gets dull, the conventional wisdom invites skeptics, and contrarian instincts kick in. Maybe, the political world starts to wonder, those truths that “everyone knows” aren’t so true after all.
For the last several weeks, the consensus in establishment circles was that the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period was not only a disaster, but a catastrophe that would destroy Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party, the American health care system, and the very idea of progressive governance. Pundits could hardly contain their analogies – this was Obama’s Katrina, Obama’s Iraq, Obama’s Watergate, Obama’s Iran-Contra, and even Obama’s Bay of Pigs.
But the funny thing about narratives is that they’re sometimes fleeting….
I suggested yesterday that we’re probably heading for a turning point in the health reform discussion. Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.
And it’s already starting to happen.
…. media coverage is shifting fast. It’s still mostly trying for equivalence — each positive story of people being helped matched by a negative story of people hurt. But the stories don’t actually match up at all.
… At this rate, the whole horrors-of-Obamacare meme will be gone in weeks, not months. But the GOP echo chamber won’t be able to let it go.
Barbara Starr: Official: U.S. B-52s Flew Over China’s Controversial New Air Defense Zone
Two U.S. military aircraft flew into China’s newly claimed and challenged air defense zone over the East China Sea, a U.S. official said. The U.S. Air Force B-52 planes — which were not armed because they were on a training mission — set off Monday from Guam and returned there without incident. The mission lasted for several hours, and the aircraft were in China’s newly declared air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.
The flights came two days after China unilaterally announced the creation of a “Air Defense Identification Zone” over several islands it and Japan have both claimed. The two countries have been sharply at odds over those isles, which are believed to be near large reserves of natural resources. Washington responded negatively to what Secretary of State John Kerry characterized as an “escalatory action (that) will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” The U.S. government has rallied around its ally Japan, where thousands of its troops are stationed as part of a security treaty.
And specifically regarding China’s new air defense zone, the United States has said it won’t recognize it. Japan’s two main commercial airlines said Wednesday that following a request from the Japanese government, they and other members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan will not submit flight plans to Chinese authorities for flights through the zone claimed by Beijing.
Look, there’s something going on with the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t require an IT specialist to explain. There’s a world beyond the ginned-up anecdote. Who knew?
…. through Covered California, the state’s individual insurance marketplace, they’ve found a plan through Sharp Healthcare that will cover them both for a total premium of $142 a month …. More important than that was knowing that they couldn’t be turned down for coverage come Jan. 1. “We felt we didn’t have to panic, or worry,” Holzman says. “If not for the Affordable Care Act, our ability to get insurance would be very limited, if we could get it at all.”
….. this is increasingly looking like the last chance for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world in crafting a sensible health-care policy for its citizens. All of its citizens.
Think Progress: Treasury And IRS To Crack Down On Super PACs Masquerading As Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Groups
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed guidelines on Tuesday that could force dark-money political groups like Crossroads GPSand the American Future Fund to spend less of their money on campaign advertising and other overt electioneering. If implemented, this guidance would clarify what actions by tax-exempt social welfare organizations are limited “candidate-related political activity” and what actions can count toward their principal purpose.
According to the Wall Street Journal, these rules would label “campaign advertising, voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts, and distribution of voter guides and campaign materials,” as “candidate-related political activity.” None of that would be able to count as part of the group’s tax-exempt purpose — meaning only a minority of its work could fall into those categories. While 501(c)(4)s would still be free to engage in those activities, they couldn’t be the main focus. This could mean groups accused of masquerading as (c)(4)s could have to find new ways to spend their money.
Sally Kohn: The GOP’s Late-Term Abortion Strategy Is Backfiring
As the Supreme Court announces it will hear a challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate, a study on late-term abortion seekers finds the GOP’s anti-abortion laws are backfiring.
Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.
Mother Jones: Republicans Refuse To Cover The Poor, Then Complain That Obamacare Isn’t Covering The Poor
The New York Times has gotten hold of the “House Republican Playbook” on Obamacare, and I have to admit that it brought back warm memories. It’s just like the launch kits. In any case, it’s all pretty predictable stuff: Obamacare is an abomination; people are losing their insurance; small companies are being ruined; etc. etc.
Needless to say, this is primarily because Republicans governors have refused to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, even though it’s 100 percent paid for at first and 90 percent paid for forever. These governors literally prefer to have their state’s residents pay taxes and get nothing in return rather than give so much as an extra dime to poor people who need health care. It’s truly hard to fathom what kind of human being is callous enough to do this, but apparently there are a bunch of them in the Republican Party.
CBS News distributed a summary of findings from an internal investigation into the discredited Oct. 27 “60 Minutes” report on Benghazi. The investigation was conducted by Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices at CBS News, and the findings addressed the various red flags that “60 Minutes” failed to heed in featuring the testimony of Dylan Davies, a security contractor in Benghazi at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. interests in the Libyan city. The document cited 10 discrete issues with the Benghazi story. Lara Logan, the correspondent on the story, and the segment’s producer, Max McClellan, are taking leaves of absence following the breakdowns.
CBS News and “60 Minutes” might as well be on different planets. For CBS News, Benghazi represents the folly of firewalls. Right after the Benghazi attack itself, “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama how he viewed the tragedy. “Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Kroft. Here’s how he responded: OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.
Trouble was, the public didn’t find out about the president’s response for weeks, until just two days before Election Day — long after it might have affected the course of the campaign. Somewhere between “60 Minutes” and the rest of CBS News, the Kroft-Obama exchange got lost.
Larry Derfner: Under The Radar: Israel’s Security Establishment Supports New Iran Agreement
The news from Israel is that Israel hates the Iranian nuclear deal struck in Geneva – but the news is not entirely accurate. It’s true, of course, that Netanyahu and his government ministers (with the exception of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni) think the agreement is bad, very bad, very very bad, and that Obama and the West sold the Jews out to Hitler again. But there are some other extremely powerful Israelis who don’t think the agreement is so bad, and who certainly prefer it to the no-agreement that Bibi and AIPAC were driving toward – and these Israelis make up the country’s military-intelligence establishment.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise; these are the same people who, with an assist from President Shimon Peres and the Israeli media, stopped Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak from bombing Iran like they wanted to last year. Israel’s generals don’t relish going head-to-head with the United States, they don’t live on paranoia, apocalyptic visions and scare-mongering, and right there you have enough to understand why they don’t go along with Netanyahu on Iran. The Israeli brass are certainly not peaceniks. They’re not sanguine at all about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. They are not opposed in principle to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities – in fact, like with most Israelis, their preferred solution is for the U.S. to bomb them. But unlike Netanyahu and the right, they don’t automatically see red when they look at Iran
AP: Obama’s Gatekeeper Now Point Man On Health Care
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was ready to vent. “I’ve had too much humble pie,” he fumed, striding into a top aide’s West Wing office. “That was the last slice. I’m full.” McDonough had just finished another hand-holding meeting with health care advocates anxious over the disastrous rollout of the health care law. McDonough’s message: It was time to change tactics, quit lamenting the problems and start emphasizing the benefits of the health care overhaul.
McDonough is now holding evening meetings every day with key players in the health care rollout, offering support even as he holds agency leaders accountable. “We went straight into problem solving,” he said last week during a stroll on the White House South Lawn. “We knew that going into this, that no plan survives first contact. We knew that we would be confronted with challenges along the way. “We are focused on getting it working, absolutely, and we’re making good progress on that.”
“Denis takes everything personally. Nobody is going to be harder on Denis than himself,” says his friend Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser. “He was angry, frustrated, all of the above. If there is a problem, it is his personal mission to fix it, even if it is beyond his direct capacity to do so.” Of all the chiefs of staff who have worked for Obama, McDonough, 43, has the closest relationship with the president. McDonough is a fierce defender of the president, known during his national security days for vigorously challenging reporters. In a recent meeting with Democratic senators, a participant in the room said, he had a feisty exchange with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, over a fix the president had proposed to the health care law.